Monday, January 30, 2012

Witchful Thinking-H. P. Mallory

Witchful Thinking

H. P. Mallory

Bantam, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345531452

Almost thirty, fortuneteller Jolie Wilkins gave up on dating after the last few losers were deader than the reanimated she has brought back from beyond. Her self-image is pitiful; however, that was when she was just another mundane human trying to eke out a living. Her world spun off its axis when Rand the Warlock entered her shop. Soon afterward, she becomes a witch resurrected from the dead by Mercedes. Jolie is proclaimed the Queen of the Underworld of vampire, werewolf, fae, and witches; she has no earthly or other plane understanding of why or how it happened except some ties back to 1878 where she almost killed Rand.

Even more confusing for the new royal is Rand the hunk seems to want her. Throwing her already out of control life further into chaos is Sinjin the vampire who desires her Highness while vowing to protect her. Not used to one man coveting her let alone two, Jolie cannot make up her mind. However, Jolie has no time to ponder choosing one as a deadly paranormal species threatens genocide of her subjects even while she begins to learn governance is not a matchbook cover endeavor.

This is an engaging urban fantasy starring a self-deprecating heroine and two hunks who vie for her affection. The storyline starts off a bit choppy as the backstory (from self-published E-books) is provided. Once the game is set, Witchful Thinking turns into a wonderful amusing thriller as the paranormal seem real in the Mallory mythos. Wisenheimer Jolie makes the tale as she struggles with two males wanting her, preventing ethnic cleansing by malevolent mobsters, and learning governance of four conflicted species (like post Tito Yugoslavia).

Harriet Klausner

Eye of the Sword-Karyn Henley

Eye of the Sword

Karyn Henley

WaterBrook, Mar 13 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780307730145

In Camrithia, King Laetham completes the ceremony that makes Trevin a comain military leader. At the same time, Dregmoorian Prince Varic arrives at the castle with a peace proposal that Laetham considers as a means to end the raids from his neighbor to the east. Varic offers to marry Princess Melaia, who Trevin loves. Daughter of a late angel, Melaia tells her father that she will wed Trevin only, but after she obtains the three missing harps that will restore The Wisdom Tree.

Laetham sends Trevin on a mission to find the missing comain; while Melaia asks him to bring back the harps; one of which is possessed by the Dregmoorian Secondborn Benasin. Trevin loathes leaving her with Varic, the sly treacherous heir to the Dregmoorian throne. Still he leaves on his missions to prove his worthiness to his beloved Princess and himself. On his horse Alamarin who once had wings, Trevin’s journey begins when his steed leads him to Eldarra Prince Resarian and the Golden. As Varic tries to kill him, Trevin’s horrible deeds while working for the Dregmoorian FirstBorn Lord Rejius, haunts him.

The second Angelaeon Circle thriller (see Breath of Angel) is an exhilarating quest fantasy starring an honorable champion who’s driven by his love for the princess and his obsession to for redemption. The storyline is action-packed from the moment the vile Varic and the tense Trevin meet and never slows down until the readers learn why the Dregmoorian heir wants the newest Camrithia comain dead. Though it behooves the audience to read the first tale to better understand the complex Henley mythos, fans will enjoy walking and riding in a realm where the Angelaeon interact with people and often rule.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nightborn-Lynn Viehl


Lynn Viehl

Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451413215

The High Lord of the Immortal Darkyn wants the alleged scrolls that contain the secrets to immortal life and the maps that lead to Templar treasure buried in the early fourteenth century. He sends his best warrior Korvel to France to obtain the scrolls.

As he drives the worst road in France, Korvel is warned others are making an attempt too. Soon he is attacked and hurt, but defeats his enemy, but is aware more await him. His quest leads Korvel to Simone, the daughter of the scroll’s guardian. She seeks them too in order to return them to safety. As they team up with killers pursuing them, they begin to fall in love, but Simone fails to inform her new partner that once she obtains the scrolls, she is to kill Korvel.

The first Lords of the Darkyn romantic urban fantasy is a great entry inside the magnificent mythological world of Lynn Viehl. The storyline is fast-paced from the first assassination attempt until the final confrontation as readers will wonder whether Simone will complete the mission as ordered. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate the opening act in the new trilogy due to the strong protagonists who make the Viehl realm exciting to visit.

Harriet Klausner

Eternity’s Mark-Maeve Greyson

Eternity’s Mark

Maeve Greyson

Kensington Brava, Mar 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758273390

On Jasper Mills, veterinarian Hannah MacPherson grieves the death of her husband though he died in Iraq four years ago. Frustrated by her lack of response to the missives he sent to the stubborn Hannah that she inherited a Scottish castle, dragon-human Taggart de Gaelson arrives in Jasper Mills to bring her to Taroc Na Mor. Though wary, she goes to Scotland with Taggart.

He and his race need her to save his breed as she is the last sacred guardian of the Draecna magical dragons who guard the portal between worlds. Hannah is a whisperer who talks with animals. Taggart believes her uncanny skill will bring out the hatchlings from their eggs. However, she soon finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the bitter war between brothers.

This is an award winning entertaining romantic urban fantasy starring a stubborn American and a desperate hybrid. The romance seems too stereotypical as a woman in mourning for several years attracted to an outsider wanting to disrupt her life is a sub-genre staple. However, the dragons waging an inbreeding dark good and evil civil war with the Yank tilting the edge to one side makes for an exciting thriller.

Harriet Kalsuner

Bloodrose-Andrea Cremer


Andrea Cremer

Philomel, Jan 3 2012, $18.99

ISBN: 9780399256127

Bellicose Calla knows if she is to be the Alpha of her pack, she must prove her leadership skills in combat and choose a mate. Ren and Shay vie to be that male. However, Calla makes it clear to both competitors and her pack she will not select anyone until the Keepers and their magic are defeated.

Calla also shows her loyalty when she protects her brother Ansrel, stripped of his essence, from those who want to kill him for being a traitor. However, it is what she prays is the final battle that she focuses on; a war Calla does not expect to survive and if she does she knows she will live with regret of having led brave warriors to their deaths; though she feels she had no choice.

The final Nightshade fantasy (see Nightshade and Wolfsbane) is an exciting thriller starring a heroine who was forced to detach her feelings for others in order to lead her side in war as she knows she will leave brothers and sisters in arms dead and maimed. A stunning twist adds to the realism that people die in war. Andrea Cremer provides a shocking but strong finish to an intriguing trilogy.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 27, 2012

Born Wicked-Jessica Spotswood

Born Wicked

Jessica Spotswood

Putnam, Feb 7 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399257452

By 1896, The Brotherhood established a harsh Christian theocracy in which the prosecution of witches is a major endeavor. Practitioners are condemned to death or worse: the prisons ships and the asylums. Additionally when a female turns seventeen, they must marry or join the Sisterhood.

Cate Cahill’s mom died trying to produce a male offspring. Her mother made her make a death bed pledge to care for her two younger sisters, but Cate is running out of time as in six months she must choose. Adding to her dilemma is the three Cahill siblings are closet witches, which makes her courtship by Paul McLeod a going nowhere relationship and her dalliance with Finn Belastra possessing even less staying power. As Cate reads her mother’s missing diary, she realizes her time problem worsened with a terrible fate that dooms the trio; forcing her to peruse banned books in an attempt to keep her and her sisters safe while townsfolk suspect them of wickedness. Then Sister Elena arrives to help them.

Born Wicked is an exhilarating alternative New England historical fantasy starring a courageous but increasingly desperate heroine. Her sisters and Elena are top notch characters while their late mom comes across as full blooded also through her diaries and her daughters’ observations. Although the males seem thin, fans will enjoy Jessica Spotwood’s engaging witch hunt.

Harriet Klausner

Forbidden-Syrie James and Ryan M. James


Syrie James and Ryan M. James

Harper Teen, Jan 24 2012, $8.99

ISBN: 9780062027894

In Southern California, sixteen years old Claire hopes this time she and her mom stay in one spot so she can makes friends at the Emerson Academy that she attends on a scholarship. Her nomadic mom has them relocating seemingly even before they can open their bags. At the school Claire meets new student Alec, an angel attending school for a bit of R&R though if caught by the Elders he will be executed for desertion. He explains to her why her mother constantly is on the run; as Claire is a half-angel, a hybrid species considered an abomination by the angel Elders.

Alec and Claire fall in love while Helena begins sending visions to Claire with a warning to tell no one, not even her beloved, of her psychic powers. Unable to resist Claire reveals all to her friends. When her life is threatened, Alec risks his to keep her safe.

Although angels are a large population in the paranormal romance subgenre (see His Dark Bond By Anne Marsh), team James provide an entertaining teenage romantic urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced while the antics of the heroine are fun to follow as her hormones war with her brain. Although the support characters are out of the genre’s typical casting mold, Alec is a unique individual who is wary and in love. Readers will enjoy Claire’s coming of age not so angelic Los Angeles joy ride.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Legend-Marie Lu


Marie Lu

Putnam, Nov 29 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399256752

The Republic of America has twenty million citizens and seems to be at constant cold and hot war with its neighbors the Colonies. The laws are strictly enforced regardless of economic and social placement though the elite have all the special advantages and privileges.

From a highly prominent affluent family, fifteen year old June is mentored to become a member of the inner most military leadership. However, her fast track to the top is derailed when her brother Captain Metias is murdered while officially hunting for criminal teenager Day, the number one most wanted person in the Republic, who, in spite of security video cameras all over Los Angeles, his face remains a mystery. Commander Jameson claims Day killed June’s sibling. She vows to avenge her brother’s murder.

Although the High Noon encounter goes the way one would expect even with a fascinating twist, this is a superb futuristic dystopian police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced as readers will appreciate the teenage chess match between the elusive felon and the obsessed soldier; as checkmate is an intriguing spin. Marie Lu provides a fabulously exciting thriller starring two teens from polar opposite sides of the track.

Harriet Klausner

Lenobia's Vow-P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Lenobia's Vow

P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast

St. Martin's Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $12.99

ISBN: 9781250000248

Today Lenobia is the horse mistress of the House of Night in St. Louis and Zoey Redbird’s favorite teacher. She and her mother were servants in 1788 at the Chateau de Naverre in Evreux, France. Her father the baron seduced her mother, impregnated her and cast her and their offspring aside. That child Lenobia looks identical to her spoiled half-sister Cecile.

When Lenobia is sixteen years old, the legitimate daughter dies from ague. Leonia’s mother arranges for her daughter to masquerade as Cecile in order for her to marry an affluent aristocrat. The plot works perfectly as Lenobia and other unmarried young ladies travel by ship to New Orleans to marry rich French aristocrats. While traversing the Atlantic, evil sorcerer Bishop Charles recognizes and announces the fraud as he coveted her back in France and plans to make her his mistress. A nun protects her and she decides to go to the cargo hold on the last level of the ship where she meets Quadroon Martin in the stables. She falls in love with him and the Percheron horse that his employer bought. He sent Martin to go to France so that he could take care of them over the long sea voyage. n The Bishop soon makes his move to rape Lenobia using all means available to him while Martin vows to keep his beloved safe.

The latest House of Night Novella (see Dragon’s Oath) focuses on the teen years of a secondary but popular character. Readers learn what shaped Lenobia’s present mysterious life as the child is the adult even if two centuries have passed. At sixteen, Lenobia displays the same traits she shows as a teacher: courage, honesty and inner strength. She wanted to be happy, but her choices were limited to be or not to be until a third option was offered. This is an engaging biographical fiction as the Cast crew entertains their fans.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Darkness Bound-Stella Cameron

Darkness Bound

Stella Cameron

Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781455500154

After two years as a couple and a few days married, Chris died. Fourteen months later, his grieving widow Leigh Kelly decides she cannot live in their home filed with too many memories. She moves to Chimney Rock on Whidbey Island.

Former Special Ops soldier Niles Latimer and his werehound Team are diligently watching the newcomer to keep her safe from rogues assaulting women. However, he also senses Leigh possesses something unique that could prove her compatible as life mate for a werehound. Nile realizes she knows nothing about her DNA or the existence of werehounds as he and his Team vow to protect her while the evil enemy senses who she is too and pledges to take her.

The first Chimney Rock romantic urban fantasy is a superb dark thriller in which Stella Cameron creates a deep mythos that feels genuine; inside of a fast-paced good and evil battle for Leigh. Loaded with chilling action, a strong lead couple and two camps of werehounds and other ilk, sub-genre readers will enjoy a visit to mysterious Whidbey Island where the paranormal is the normal.

Harriet Klausner

Bridge of Dreams-Anne Bishop

Bridge of Dreams

Anne Bishop

Roc, Mar 6 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780451463814

Siblings Lee and Glorianna Belladonna along with Michael the Musician and others removed the darkness of The Eater of the World from Ephemera (see Belladonna). However, though Ephemera is balanced now, the world remains a perilous place as affirmed when bellicose wizards arrive. Lee stops their threat to disrupt the balance, but ends up in an asylum in Vision, a city also facing dark peril.

The Vision Shamans fail to prevent the dark plague from spreading. Lee understands what they face and offers his assistance and those of his family in Ephemera, Glorianna and their cousin Sebastian. However, the proud protectors of Vision eventually may acquiesce to his offer, but time is running out.

The third Ephemera fantasy is an entertaining tale with an incredible vivid description of the Bishop mythos and a wonderful self-sacrificing hero who risks his life again to save a city of strangers. The storyline starts slow with an inordinate amount of time on what happened in the previous entries (see Sebastian). However, once the protagonist jumps into the frying pan to save Ephemera and then into the fire to save Vision, Bridge of Dreams accelerates into a super-fast-paced exciting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Born to Darkness-Suzanne Brockmann

Born to Darkness

Suzanne Brockmann

Ballantine, Mar 20 2012, $26.00

ISBN 9780345521279

The United States is spiraling into third world status as the Great Depression II wreaks havoc on most people due to policies that legalized unfair practices leading to the wealthiest doing great while everyone paid the price. For much of the increasing poor there is only one commodity they can sell: their preteen daughters. The Organization has created Destiny from the hormones of pre-puberty females; the affluent love the elixir that allows those with money to buy the perfect physical specimen at the cost of their mind.

The Obermeyer Institute opposes the sale of girls as a commodity and by extrapolation are against the use of Destiny. However, groups like the Organization own the media and the politicians so Obermeyer is considered by most a place for crackpots. With nowhere to turn, banished former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin joins OI though he believes the media portrayal of lunatics especially the “Greater-Thans” philosophy to deploy otherworldly powers for the common good. He changes his mind when female Greater Than scientists half his size kicks his butt in. Shane and Greater Than Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie had shared a one night stand before he joined OI as a test subject. In Boston, they attempt to rescue a young girl sold for her hormones who appears to be a Greater Than.

Noted for Breaking the Rules of romantic suspense with her Troubleshooters saga, Suzanne Brockmann provides a powerful enthralling and dark paranormal thriller as the extraction of young female hormones is a capitalist commodity exchange item. The gripping premise extrapolates trends in economics, politics, journalism and pharmaceutical to paint a dark soulless future. The prime romance between the protagonists and a gay relationship enhance an exciting fast-paced rescue mission.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Anatomy of Ghosts-Andrew Taylor

The Anatomy of Ghosts

Andrew Taylor

Hyperion, Jan 17 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781401310738

In 1786, Tim Turdman finds the body of young Georgie Holdsworth, who drowned in the Thames. His father John the bookseller is despondent but conceals his grief from his wife Maria whose depression frightens her spouse but is understandable as she helplessly watched her son drown in the river. She insists she speaks to her deceased offspring with the help of a medium. A fire destroys the bookstore that contains John’s investment leaving him broke. Angry and grieving John authors a book to prove to Maria that she cannot communicate with Georgie and her channel is a con artist. His effort leads to Maria committing suicide by jumping into the Thames near where she last saw her child.

Lady Anne Oldershaw hires a depressed John to catalog her late husband's library that she is bequeathing to Cambridge University. Her son Frank, a Jerusalem College student, has a nervous breakdown following his assertion that he saw the ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote. Lady Anne asks John, as a paranormal fraud expert, to help her son realize how inane his assertion is. John knows first he must learn what the lad saw as he struggles through the nasty Holy Ghost Club and their Master Dr. Carbury only to find his haunting mission changed.

This is a great late Georgian thriller that will keep the audience wondering whether to believe in ghosts or something more sinisterly human. The storyline starts melancholy in the opening chapters, but changes tone when the bookseller comes to Cambridge as he gets involved with a murder mystery that has him reconsidering his contention that ghosts are delusions of the parasitic relationship between the desperate and the amoral who take advantage of these depressed souls.

Harriet Klausner

The Ritual-Adam Nevill

The Ritual

Adam Nevill

St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 14 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780312641849

When they roomed in Birmingham while attending the university Luke, Phil, Dom and Hutch were the four musketeers as best buddies. After graduating they went their separate ways with three of the BFFs married as Luke is only one of them still single. The four agree to unite on a camping trip north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden to get away from their respective personal lives.

However, it didn’t take long to realize how out of shape Phil and Dom have become as the foursome trek on their three day hike though Luke and Hutch still smoke. The weather is cold and wet making the walk through the wilderness that much more difficult especially when they take a shortcut that fails to find the river, but instead the dead eerily hanging from a tree. The bickering and resentment become palatable as anger at each other and their miserable situation overtly explodes. They find shelter of sorts from the harsh environment in a cottage containing bizarre, frightening ancient-looking items. None of them yet comprehend the predator that stalks them may be just coming home.

Think of Deliverance and an adult coming of age Lord of the Flies in a stark setting to comprehend this exhilarating thriller. The storyline told by Luke captures the reader from opening line as Adam Nevill paints a harsh environment that sets the tone for what follows. The protagonists possess diverse personalities and different tsuris, but it is their reactions to the evil that hunts them which makes for a tense horror tale.

Harriet Klausner

Crucible of Empire-Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth

Crucible of Empire

Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth

Baen, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451638042

A few years ago years ago the Jao invaders conquered the Earth (see The Course of Empire). The two species began forging a united kochan clan. Former resistance fighter Gabriel Tully commands Baker Company whose prime mission is to negotiate a peace between his former resistance allies and the Jao. He attends a briefing concerning the NGC 7293 nebula where three Krant vessels investigated strange data; they encountered hostility with the giant arachnid Ekhat species which ended with the enemy destroyed but the Krant ships not in much better shape.

Terra Governor Aille and Preceptor Ronz assign the Lexington to take Jao and humans to the sector where the Ekhat has violently surfaced and a third race was involved in the recent battle. Jao Captain Danner krinnu ava Terra commands the ship; but she is not in charge of the mission. Instead Wrot krinnu ava Terra runs the mission with Caitlin Kralik as the diplomat to deal with the unknown race and Tully and his unit enhanced by the Krant survivors provide military support against the Ekhat. His team destroys four Ekhat ships with a surviving vessel crippled in orbit around a star; only to learn the Lleix who the Jao assaulted in a previous encounter are on board.

As with the first science fiction “Empire” thriller, the sequel focuses on the species with a deep look at the Jao (especially on board the Lexington) and somewhat the Ekhat. The storyline also introduces a fourth sentient race with its own shtick. Although there is some reiterative commentary that slows down the outer space encounters, fans will enjoy traveling on the Lexington as the combined Jao-human crew go into combat and diplomacy.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire’s Kiss-Veronica Wolff

Vampire’s Kiss

Veronica Wolff

NAL, Mar 6 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780451235725

Off the Scottish coast lies the Isle of Night populated by vampires, tracers, watchers, acari and humans. Ronan the vampire tracer recruited from the University of Florida Annelise Drew (see Isle of Night). She is a second year acari student who understands that only the strong survive so she diligently works hard with one goal to get off the island; which means becoming a Watcher even though escape is doubtful.

Alcantara the vampire acts likes Drew enchants him when he accelerates her training so she can be placed on a mission with him. She is to act the part of a serving girl to seven vampires of whom her mentor states are evil. They seek Carden McCloud captured and most likely tortured by these malevolent bloodsuckers. Drew finds the rescue target and gives him her blood. When Alcantara and McCloud meet, Drew realizes they are enemies, which has her wondering why her mentor lied and who the wicked vampire is.

The latest Watchers urban fantasy is an enthralling, twisting thriller in which readers will appreciate the spellbinding in depth look at a vampire island community inside the wonderful world of the Wolff. Since escaping the Isle of Night is more difficult than getting off Alcatraz, Acari accept their role as gladiator students. Sanctioned fights between each other leave some dead; only the best live through the grueling ordeal their instructors call training. Drew is terrific as she completes the mission but learns a lesson to not trust anyone especially vampires as delineating the good, the bad and the ugly is impossible until it is too late.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 20, 2012

Oracle’s Moon-Thea Harrison

Oracle’s Moon

Thea Harrison

Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780425246597

Twenty year old college student Grace Andreas has no time to grieve the death of her sister and brother-in-law. With Petra’s demise comes overwhelming responsibility as guardian to her four-year old niece Chloe and nine-month-old nephew Max. if that is not enough, she inherits her sibling’s humongous debt. Finally there is Power of the Oracle of Louisville, which goes from the late Petra to the swamped Grace.

A dispute on her property leads Khalil the demonkind Djinn Prince of House Marid to enter the lives of Grace and her wards. Over her objection, he joins the grieving household. His shapeshifting amuses and distracts the children while his body distracts his hostess. As he calms down the irate Elder Races who loathe Grace’s sassy scorn while she fumbles at deploying her new power, the demonkind and the humankind fall in love.

The latest Elder Races paranormal is a delightful romantic urban fantasy starring an in shock heroine and her demon protector. The storyline is mindful of the first season of The Greatest American Hero as the protagonist struggles with using her new talent, raising her young relatives and with her feelings towards the demonkind. However, the key to this excellent entry and the fabulous predecessors (see Dragon Bound, Storm’s Heart and Serpent’s Kiss) is the Harrison mythos of humans living alongside seven otherworldly species comes across as real.

Harriet Klausner

By a Thread-Jennifer Estep

By a Thread

Jennifer Estep

Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781451651768

In Ashland, Pork Pit owner Gin “Spider” Blanco completed the magical hit she has trained for when she assassinated Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered her family when she was a teen (see Spider’s Revenge). With many of the punks seeking instant infamy by killing Spider, and with Gin wanting to spend quality with her long-lost baby sister Ashland police detective Bria Coolidge, she leaves on a vacation from her occupation.

The siblings travel to Blue Marsh beach resort where Bria introduces Gin to her best friend Callie Reyes of the Sea Breeze. Small time felon Pete Proctor and his giant partner Trent warn Callie to sell her establishment to their employer Randall Dekes the vampire before hurricane season causes damage. Pete also harasses Bria before breaking a mirror. When he gloats over hurting Bria before, Spider knocks out Trent and stabs Pete’s hand to the floor before knocking him out. With a sigh Gin knows the vacation is over. Gin’s former lover Blue Marsh police detective Donovan Caine who is also Bria’s fiancé arrives at the Sea Breeze. However, the power hungry vamp covets a new acquisition, Spider’s elemental ice and Stone magic.

The enjoyable sixth Elemental Assassin urban fantasy is the first in the post Mabs era and fans of the series will appreciate the still kick butt heroine flashing her knives though her opponent is much more clever and a more dangerous adversary than her previous opponent was. Action-packed from the moment the vacation ends, Jennifer Estep avoids the sub-genre stereotyping of the heroine and the villain By A Thread based on who has the sharper bite.

Harriet Klausner

The Drowning Girl-Caitlín R. Kiernan

The Drowning Girl

Caitlín R. Kiernan

Roc, Mar 6 2012, $16.00

ISBN 9780451464163

India “Imp” Morgan Phelps would have been shocked if the shrink diagnosed her as an NT; instead labeling her as a schizophrenic which makes sense to her. Imp knows lunacy is like apple pie to her family as far back as she knows. Still meds and the shrink help her pretend she lives a normal life.

Imp is shocked when she sees the model in the 1898 The Drowning Girl painting. Meeting Eva Canning also brings about dreams and memories that cannot be true, but Imp wonders about their source as she fears her mental illness has worsened since meeting Eva. Deciding to learn who Eva is, Imp is further stunned when the woman vanishes. As reality becomes increasingly unstable, the voice amidst the chaos of her brain triggers an obsessive compulsive need to know what truly happened; ergo Imp ponders whether Eva is a ghost warning her but of what or a priestess whose flock died in 1991 in a mass drowning.

This excellent thriller grips the audience with a need to know whether the protagonist is mentally insane or dealing with regressed memories including perhaps generational. Impossible to put aside, The Drowning Girl is a fabulous psychological suspense or fantasy; Caitlín R. Kiernan keeps us guessing until the end.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Allegiance-Cayla Kluver


Cayla Kluver

Harlequin Teen, Feb 28 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210435

Her father King Adrik of Hytanica forced his daughter Alera to marry hedonistic Lord Steldor, son of the Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan. Once they wedded, Adrik removes the crown from his head, places it on the new monarch King Steldor and vows allegiance to his replacement. However, Alera does not want her spouse and refuses to consummate their marriage as she loves Narian of her country’s enemy Cokyri.

The Overlord of Cokyri uses his mystic abilities and the hostage of a woman Narian cares about to force him to betray Hytanica where he was treated well. Narian is to lead the invasion that will end the long running hot and cold Legacy war with Cokyri victorious. When he takes his troops into combat, Alera’s loses what is left of her innocence as she thought her beloved would never commit atrocities against the kingdom that treated him well.

This is an entertaining young adult romantic alternative medieval historical that contains fantasy elements. The irony of the two warring nations are neither remembers what the original dispute was about and the plight of Alera who if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the ruling Queen and not just the wife of the king. Although it is critical to read Legacy before perusing Allegiance to understand the two kingdoms and their complicated ties that bind them, readers will enjoy this entry as Alera must choose between her love for her country symbolized by the king she loathes, and her love for her enemy symbolized by the Commander she loves.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Fear Index-Robert Harris

The Fear Index

Robert Harris

Knopf, Jan 31 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307957931

When the Feds defunded the Texas super collider, Dr. Alex Hoffmann obtains a position as a physicist at CERN in Switzerland. When he suffers a nervous breakdown, he leaves Geneva. Alex takes with him VIXAL-4, an independent computer with the uncanny ability to self-teach at a speed that humans cannot comprehend.

To finance his research and his machine, Alex sets up a hedge fund run by VIXAL. The algorithm VIXAL uses takes the pulse of investors leading to four years of incredible growth while the stock markets around the world collapse. However, as the creator loses control of his creation, someone inside the firm diligently works on making Hoffman look insane to his staff.

This is an enjoyable modernization of Frankenstein with a touch of Harry Kellerman inside of a contemporary convergence of physics, computers and international finance. The storyline is fast-paced with a terrific late twist although none of the cast including VIXAL is likable as all seem morally bankrupt. With a two prong cautionary plot, Robert Harris provides a fascinating timely thriller as science without passion is dangerous while even more lethal is finance void of ethics and scruples when profit is the feral god.

Harriet Klausner

Tangled-Erica O'Rourke


Erica O'Rourke

K Teen/Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $9.95

ISBN: 9780758267054

In Chicago, St. Brigid’s High School senior, Maura “Mo” Fitzgerald witnessed the mob take out her BFF Verity; her thirst for vengeance led mousy Mo into a world of magic, prophecy and two mysterious hunks Colin and Luc (see Torn). Her need to avenge Verity’s murder changes to protecting those she loves but she fears she will never be freed from the Arcs, her mobster uncle, the Quartered and the Seraphim has all seem to have her in their crosshairs..

In one month since the homicide that changed her life occurred, Mo has a major dilemma as she has no one to take to the Sadie Hawkins dance. However wanting to be left alone to attend school and work at the diner is not an option; as the Chicago mob never lets witnesses live and the magic with the surges since the Torrent never lets practitioners especially one embroiled in the ancient prophecy quit. A grieving raging Constance is now the magical battleground.

The second Mo urban fantasy is a terrific thriller with a profound morality question cutting across the entertaining storyline as the resultant heroine deals with the unintended nasty consequences of her seemingly pristine actions in Torn. Action-packed, it is the second and third order effects that will have the enthralled audience wondering if the end justifies the mean even when that mean goes against your positive values. Tangled is a wonderful teenage thriller as Mo just wants to choose between secretive Colin and enigmatic Luc, but then fate may have chosen Billy for her.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow Heir-Richelle Mead

Shadow Heir

Richelle Mead

Zebra, Jan 1 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781420111804

Ohio seems like the perfect hell for hybrid Shaman Eugenie Markham to raise her unborn twins in a safe environ away from Otherworld assassins and the prophecy. However, her hiding in the humid heat of the Buckeye state leaves her unaware of the crisis in the Otherworld. A spell is turning the realm into a blighted landscape with extinction a real possibility.

Fairy King Dorian’s support, who deceived Eugenie re who was to be Iron-Crowned, is trying every desperate measure to prevent what increasingly seems inevitable. He knows the only hope is for him, Eugenie, Kiyo the shifter and others, including beings who want the twins dead, to unite in trust, but she is in the mortal realm looking forward to being a single mom with no desire to cross over.

The final Dark Swan urban fantasy (see Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron-Crowned) is a great surprising finish to the strong saga. Fast-paced, Eugenie faces a moral dilemma that leaves her choosing between two terrible choices that no parent ever should have to face. Readers will appreciate Richelle Mead’s strong end to a powerful series.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Raven Calls-C.E. Murphy

Raven Calls

C.E. Murphy

Luna, Feb 21 2012, $14.95

ISBN 9780373803439

Seattle Urban Shaman Joanne Walker loved being a police detective, but balancing her two worlds ended when a werewolf bit her. She quits the force as she knows she cannot quit the mystic realm. Jo scratches a compelling itch that has her leaving behind her former police boss Mike Morrison who she only recently began seeing (see Spirit Dances) to fly to Ireland.

Mike sends Jo’s best friend septuagenarian Gary Muldoon to Dublin to keep her butt out of trouble. They head to the Hills of Tara in County Meah when a woman comes out of nowhere to identify Jo as Siobhan Walkingstick, Walker’s birth name. As the pair climbs the metaphysical Hill of Tara, Jo’s life spins full circle when she learns what the obsession that brought her to ancient magical Eire is all about; the deceased individual, who gave up everything for her, needs rescuing, but first the Shaman must escape the dark power of the Morrígan.

This is a great spin as the heroine has good cause to put on hold, perhaps permanently, her relationship with Mike in order to learn more about her ancestry and battle some nasty adversaries. Thus the spinning stunning storyline returns to its fantasy roots as Jo is in mortal combat with a nasty goddess in a long ago era (there is no Seattle coffee available) as the latest Walker Papers (see Demon Hunts) is a super smart shocker.

Harriet Klausner

Enchanted Again-Robin D. Owens

Enchanted Again

Robin D. Owens

Luna, Dec 20 2011, $14.95

ISBN 9780373803415

In Denver, genealogist Amber Sarga understands the cost of using her gift as a curse-breaker; every time she deploys her skill she reduces her life span dramatically as she ages. Thus she is wary to deploy her talent.

Friends Conrad Tyne-Cymbler and Rafe Davail visit Amber at her place in Mystic Circle so she can help them break their respective curses though Rafe ridicules the concept of the paranormal. Conrad’s wife Marta left him with their son Dougie and vanished. Based on what his father told him on their only encounter when he next sees his child he will die. In Rafe’s family history, the first born son dies before turning thirty-three. Amber wants to help both, but can’t even use a mirror as she looks ten years older than she is chronologically. She agrees to look into their ancestry to identify the curse and what can be done to stop it. However, she feels sympathy for both cursed men and is attracted to Rafe.

The second book Mystic Circle romantic urban fantasy (see Enchanted No More) is an engaging tale based on the premise that magic costs to the practitioner. This concept is the conflict as Amber faces a moral conundrum with between to do and die young, and not to do and die lonely. Although the romantic relationship between the generalist and the skeptic feels forced, readers, craving for chocolate brownies, will want to know the outcomes of the curse.

Harriet Klausner

How to Be Death-Amber Benson

How to Be Death

Amber Benson

Ace, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781937007287

Since her dad’s untimely death thanks to his late oldest daughter (see Death’s Daughter), Calliope Reaper-Jones feels pressure she does not want; as the President and CEO of Death, Inc. with the Board and others making demands on her life. She knows she needs to read How to be Death (A Fully Annotated Guide), but has not gotten around to it. Instead she has depended on her younger brilliant sister Clio and a few of her dad’s best minions to help her as the girl who can make her deadly wishes come true.

Reaper attends the annual Death Dinner and masquerade ball at Haunted Hearts Castle. At the gala, she sees Daniel who she loves but assumes her feelings are unrequited; besides he is busy running Hell while his former boss receives heavenly punishment for his failed coup. Lying on the floor of Cal’s room is Daniel’s date Coy who is beheaded. Former Psychical Bureau of Investigation field agent Edgar Freezay leads the homicide investigation while Callie panics that the guide book she never opened has been stolen; if misused it could mean the extinction of humanity.

This is an entertaining locked castle murder mystery in which the homicide occurs about half way into the storyline. Callie has not matured since inheriting the position (see Serpent’s Storm and Cat’s Claw) as she remains unsure and shallow especially in the pre-murder chapters; in fact she would agree Clio is a better long term choice to become Ms. Death. Freezay takes over the novel with his inquiry. Still fans will enjoy Callie’s chick lit commentary as she struggles to learn How To Be Death; a job she does not want nor feel capable of performing.

Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's WorkshoRyder Wyndham, Chris Reiff (illustrator) and Chris Trevas (illustrator)p Manual-

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual

Ryder Wyndham, Chris Reiff (illustrator) and Chris Trevas (illustrator)

Lucasbooks, Jan 31 2012, $20.00

ISBN: 9780345533043

The title is somewhat misleading as this owner’s manual focuses on the Corellian Engineering Corporation’s YT-1300 series with the legendary Millennium Falcon being the most famous (the Emperor says infamous) vessel having a major chapter. Besides the brief history of the corporation, the manual goes into depth with diagrams on the various YT-1300 models, a deep look at systems (piloting, propulsion, etc.), controls, weapons, crew facility and other floor plans, and other operations. There is also a section devoted to the modified Millennium Falcon operated by wanted preferably dead smugglers Han Solo a former Imperial pilot and Chewbacca the Wookie.

This is a great fun manual. Ryder Wyndham (see A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker) provides a well written text filled with fascinating details about the model while the photographs and art are incredible as the two Chris’ show their talent and knowledge of Star Wars. Fans of the saga especially the original three New Hope movies will appreciate this entertaining entry as we will feel we are on board and even driving an YT-1300 vessel. Finally unlike politicians who insist ads by their attack Super PAC pals were not approved by them, this super packed manual is approved by Lucasbooks and a reader can see why.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 16, 2012

Death On Heels-Ellen Byerrum

Death On Heels

Ellen Byerrum

Obsidian, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451236135

Lacey Smithsonian writes her column Crimes and Fashion for the Washington DC based Eye Street Observer. She left her hometown of Sagebrush after her boyfriend proposes; the temperature is way below freezing and her boss on the hometown newspaper gets on her last nerve.

Lacey learns that cattle rancher Cole Tucker, who once proposed to her, has been arrested for killing women over a two year period. She flies back to Sagebrush to learn whether the man she once loved is a serial killer. During a ten minute meeting at the courthouse, Cole takes Lacey hostage and escapes with her to a deserted cabin. He insists he has been framed by a sly adversary who wants his ranch for the water, mineral and oil rights. The rancher provides his former girlfriend a list of who he considers coveting his land and capable of such a diabolical ploy before freeing her. Believing Cole is innocent, Lacey vows to find the evidence that exonerates him. Whereas no female was murdered while Cole was in custody, another woman is abducted. However, this time Cole has an alibi in an ex-girlfriend reporter who also has solved homicide cases before (see Shot Through Velvet, Grave Apparel, and Armed and Glamorous).

The latest Smithsonian inquiry is a terrific entry as the heroine proves you can go home if you still have your cowboy attire especially the boots in this regional whodunit. The locals are quirky adding a Rocky Mountain high to the journalist’s investigation. Lacey and her current boyfriend, former Sagebrush Police Chief Vic Donovan the security expert care for one another deeply while having each other’s back as he helps her try to find the killer (which in the reporter’s case is an occupational hazard). Death On Heels is a fabulous Crime of Fashion Mystery.

Harriet Klausner

The Haunting of Maddy Clare-Simone St. James

The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Simone St. James

NAL, Mar 6 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780451235688

In 1922 London, ghost researcher Alistair Gelles hires Sarah Piper as his temporary assistant. He explains to her that his permanent assistant Matthew Ryder is visiting his pregnant sister and that the patron Mrs. Clare asks for a female to get the ghost of the late serving girl Maddy, who hung herself, to leave.

Sarah enters the barn alone. She finds the barn on fire. She escapes, but once outside the barn is fine. She tells Alistair and Matthew who arrives what happened. Later she sees the scars on Matthew’s back, but he misunderstands her reaction as he assumes his war injuries horrify her. Instead she thinks he is beautiful. The team learns Maddy arrived battered and mute at the Clare farm when she was twelve. Sarah asks Maddy about her suicide note in which she said “I will kill them.” Later Sarah and Matthew have sex, but afterward he apologizes, which hurts her. The trio enters the barn. Matthew sees Maddy; Sarah senses Maddy is near; and Alistair hears music. Maddy tells Sarah that three men violated her as a little girl and she wants revenge. She orders Sarah to find them and her gravesite. Mrs. Clare smashes an oil lamp causing a fire. Matthew rescues Alistair who thinks he is back in combat. Sarah and Matthew investigate when the first unexplained (except by an avenging ghost) murder occurs.

This is an entertaining Post WWI British haunted barn thriller in which the researchers are fully developed, the ghost seems real, and the townsfolk enhance the enjoyable story line. Although the prime romantic subplot between the two research assistants feels forced and unnecessary, fans will appreciate Simone St. James’s well written early twentieth century ghost story.

Harriet Klausner

All Things Wicked-Karina Cooper

All Things Wicked

Karina Cooper

Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062046932

Juliet Carpenter the witch fell in love with Caleb Leigh but he betrayed her and killed her Coven of the Unbinding witches who treated him as family. Two obsessions keep Juliet going; she needs to know why but even stronger is a need to avenge what he did to her and her “kin”.

One year later Juliet finds Caleb in a seedy motel, just like the demons he runs from always do. Her compulsion to kill him supersedes her desire to know why so she goes after him with a knife, which she plunges into him. Caleb survives but feels overwhelmed by the guilt of the wicked thing he did though his motive was to protect his sibling Cordelia and himself from her coven’s power grabbing sacrifice of them. When adversaries arrive with dire intentions of abducting the girl and killing her ally, Caleb, who still loves his Jules, knows this is the beginning of his last stand to keep his pledge of insuring the witch who owns his wicked heart is safe as long as what is left of his declining brain stays rational.

The third Dark Mission romantic urban fantasy (see Lure of the Wicked and Blood of the Wicked) expands the incredible Cooper universe beyond the New Seattle environs in a stunning coming of age thriller. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will relish the romance between two people struggling with an inconvenient truth of being in love at a time when both should be in hate (at him). Wickedly dark, Karina Cooper provides a powerful futuristic twisting tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Scar-Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko; translated by Elinor Huntington

The Scar

Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko; translated by Elinor Huntington

Tor, Feb 28 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765329936

In Kavarren, being a member of the highly adulated elite guard, Lieutenant Egert gets whatever he desires. He wants Toria who is engaged to Dinar, but that lesser male is no impediment to arrogant Egert as he kills his rival in a duel. Observing the atrocity, the Wanderer defiantly “names” Egert as a bully and forces him into a duel. The Wanderer cuts Egert’s face leaving him with a painful scar; while his arrogance is drained into cowardice.

Fearful, he deserts his regiment, his family and his friends. Egert reaches the city where grieving Toria lives with her father Luayan the mage university dean. Whereas his daughter loathes Dinar’s killer, Luayan provides him shelter. Every time Egert looks at Toria, he feels shame. He needs her forgiveness before he can grant himself the same. Egert soon faces the Servants of Lash; though he prefers flight Toria’s visage makes him stay while a plague ravages the city. Finally Egert senses he will face the judgment of the Wanderer but feels that is easier than the judgment of Toria.

The Scar is a terrific allegorical second chance at redemption and life sword and sorcery thriller. Character driven by Egert and Toria, the deep storyline focuses on the pair’s lost zest for living following his atrocity. Although the enigmatic Wanderer never quite comes across as to who or what he is (perhaps because this is his second book of a four novel series in which the first entry has not been translated as far as I can tell). Still fans will relish this strong soul saving saga as the prime protagonists must find a way to forgive if they are to save a city under siege.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Autumn: Aftermath-David Moody

Autumn: Aftermath

David Moody

Dunne Griffin, Mar 12 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312570026

One nanosecond ago everything was fine; a moment later 99% of the human race died; however over the next three months the dead failed to stay dead as they returned as the mindless indead with an innate instinct to kill the 1% of human survivors. Several of the 1% survivors reach the remote island of Cormansey; access exclusively by air ad boat, making this isolated rock zombie free for the fifty-one humans including a pregnant women. They helicopter to Chadwick to obtain needed supplies.

Another of the 1% made it to fortified Cheatham Castle. These twenty-one survivors go to Chadwick for supplies too. The two human groups collide as the castle dwellers believe the islanders are encroaching on their territory of Chadwick. The islanders invite the Chadwick crew to join them on the island as there is strength in numbers. Many want to go but their leaders refuse to give up their power. As tension mounts, the two small pockets of humans seem ready to war with each other instead of allying against the greater threat.

The final Autumn urban fantasy (see Autumn: Disintegration and Autumn: The City) is a great finish to a fabulous zombie thriller. The underlying premise is that those on power obsess with remaining in power at any cost even to their own group’s survival. With a deep look at the human need to dominate or subordinate, readers will relish this entry as only the strong survive by using the weaker as fodder.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Something About Witches-Joey W. Hill

Something About Witches

Joey W. Hill

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246139

Three years ago witch trainer Ruby Night Divine gave up on Witches-R-Us as she knows how spells can go wrong while she fears the darkness growing inside her like a cancer though she uses a deception spell to conceal it. Instead she left behind Derek Stormwind the Guardian, her witch practice and vanished. Ruby opened up the Arcane Shot gun store.

When she sees the bane of her heart Derek arrive at her shop, she sends Theo the elderly mastiff to “kill” him. Theo obeys as he attacks Derek with his tongue licking the sorcerer’s face. Derek explains he needs her help to train a coven in their fight against a demon and his horde. She agrees to instruct the witches, but also believes Derek has a secret agenda to get back into her bed. He does have another person mission; to learn why she left without a word.

The first Arcane Shot romantic urban fantasy is an engaging second chance at love tale starring a sorcerer who wants his woman back and a witch who wants him too but knows her soul is damned and so will be his if she allowed him back in her life. The storyline is filled with action, but it is the super charged relationship that enchants readers as once again Joey W. Hill casts a spell on her audience.

Harriet Klausner

Midnight Enchantment-Anya Bast

Midnight Enchantment

Anya Bast

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425245033

In Piefferburg, dedicated Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn the asrai water fae takes her duty to her liege The Summer Queen seriously; ergo she maintains the barrier that contains the fae. Mage Niall Quinn the thief thinks Elizabeth is cruel for not allowing the fae freedom.

Sent by the Shadow Queen of the Black Tower to regain two stolen pieces of the bosca fadbh that the Summer Queen gave to Elizabeth, Niall hunts her, but so far she has frustrated him. He loathes how she toys with him rather than his usual playing with females. Elizabeth finds her persistent pursuer attractive while Niall knows he wants her like no other woman before. Both have missions as they work for rival queens.

The latest Dark Magick romantic urban fantasy (see Wicked Enchantment, Dark Enchantment and Cruel Enchantment) is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at values, which can be negative as well as positive. The relationship between the protagonists is fun to follow as the duet shares many of the same values. Although the bosca fadbh dominates the storyline, which keep readers somewhat at a distance from the lead rivals, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exciting blast from Anya Bast.

Harriet Klausner

Shaded Vision-Yasmine Galenorn

Shaded Vision

Yasmine Galenorn

Jove, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515150353

On Valentine’s Day, Iris the Finnish house sprite and Bruce the leprechaun prepare to marry as their friends look forward to rejoicing in their happiness. Even Camille D’Artigo is happy for her pal Iris though she still suffers from PTSD after one of her fathers-in-law Hyto the dragon abducted and sexually assaulted his prisoner in order to break her will (see Courting Darkness).

A bomb explodes at the Super Community Center. Camille’s half-sister werecat/werepanther Delilah the Death Maiden (see Harvest Hunting for her last lead) learns Newkirk and the Koyomi coyote shifters have teamed up with sorcerers; while Shadow Wing dispatches one of his most ferocious ruthless leaders. With her two half-sisters (see Camille the witch in Bone Magic for her last lead) family, friends and lovers; Delilah leads the counterattack as danger mounts to a critical state.

The Sisters of the Moon urban fantasy rotates lead between the three D’Artigo sisters with the latest focused predominantly on Delilah. The Otherworld entry is superb in what is one of the great on-going sub-genre sagas. As always the key is how deftly Yasmine Galenorn keeps the personalities of the lead trio and their mates diverse and fascinating. Shaded Vision is a terrific thriller as even in the darkest night a joyful wedding brings a brilliant shiny light.

Harriet Klausner

Dream Shadows-Ingrid Weaver

Dream Shadows

Ingrid Weaver

Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425246122

For fifteen weeks millionaire Elizabeth Graye has lied in a coma. Mrs. Harrison directed caretakers to play Mozart and Beethoven as a stimulus. However, Norma also plays Country music for her comatose patient and reads extracts from her romance novels.

Thus Norma plays the sad sound of musician Rick Denning, which reaches through the fog of Elizabeth’s rewiring brain. They begin meeting in different time periods when he is asleep. When his Elizabeth appears in his daydreams, Rick obsessively decides to search for the woman he never met in person but has fallen in love with her. As he encourages her to come to him, however, someone else has other plans for the rich “bi*ch and no country singer is going to stand in the way.

Dream Shadows is a fascinating romantic suspense with a paranormal element serving as a matchmaker. Because of the diverse eras, the storyline feels somewhat repetitive in an entertaining Ground Hog Day way. Mindful of Jack Finney’s classic Time And Again, fans will enjoy love on a different plane while the body lies comatose and a killer waits to finish the job.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mr g-Alan Lightman

Mr g

Alan Lightman

Pantheon, Jan 24 2012, $24.95

ISBN: 9780307379993

In the great Void, Mr g wakes up from a nap feeling bored as he has for ages if there was a concept called time here. He decides to create over the objection of his Aunt Penelope in between her snoring. Uncle Deva tells his nephew to be cautions as you get what you wrought. Both are baffled with Mr g as they share the same snooze.

Mr g creates time and space, which evolves into the first of many universes. However, one thing remains constant Mr g remains bored. Belhor accompanied by his sycophant beast Baphomet challenges Mr g on the concept of the multiverses being good only; insisting that is tedious and incomplete. Furthermore Belhor demands Mr g not only allow for evil, he allows free will to let the creation experiment develop without miraculous intervention.

This intriguing novella is a passive philosophical treatise on the mutual inclusion of scientific creationism theory. The story line is slow and lacks any major tension, but provides a fascinating Genesis premise. There are unanswered questions for instance, did Mr G create the Void as he has the universe and where did Mr G come from as there is no mention of parents but he has relatives. Still fans who appreciate something different will want to read how Mr g using the Belhor’s devilish feedback created the universe.

Harriet Klausner

Undone Deeds-Mark Del Franco

Undone Deeds

Mark Del Franco

Ace, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007256

A consultant to the Boston Police Department who has risked his life and soul on arcane cases (see Unperfect Souls), druid Connor Grey has no time for bitterness when he is accused of terrorism (see Uncertain Allies) after what happened to the Weird neighborhood. Instead he has much greater issues to contend with as a Fey civil war seems imminent.

He struggles to control the dark mass at the core of his brain and the Faith Stone buried inside his head following his battle with the Elven King. Connor joins essences he does not trust as each has secret agendas and failed attempts to Machiavellian him. Still war brings together strange bedfellows so he unites with Meryl, Eorla Elvendottira and Ceridwen in order to prevent Celtic Queen Maeve from igniting a Fey war with her Teutonic enemies that will leave so many innocent dead.

This is a great entry in a strong urban fantasy saga as the hero (and readers) learns what the mass is and much more. Fast-paced, fans will relish Connor and his allies as they risk their lives to stop a Fey-made catastrophe from happening that will leave so many dead.

Harriet Klausner

Mass Effect: Conception-William Dietz

Mass Effect: Conception

William Dietz

Del Rey, Jan 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0345520739

The Reapers starships have entered the galaxy where earthlings have joined other alien sentient races mostly in harmony (see Drew Karpyshyn entries - Retribution; Ascension; and Revelation). As they have done for every fifty millennia these bellicose outsiders have come with one purpose in mind; “harvesting” the organic.

Earthlings and their allies have tried several ploys with some success at the immense collateral cost to the innocent in order to prevent extinction. Former Navy admiral David Anderson and his partner ex Council Director Kahlee Sanders have proof the Reaper threat is genuine, but the Council members refuse to accept extinction is a viable event. While the leaders remain in denial, The Illusive Man, head of top secret military unit Cerberus, learns the pair knows too much about his operation. They must die. However, the beleaguered couple meets Gillian Grayson, who suffered hideous experiments that have left her with incredible power. When she learns the Illusive Man killed her father Paul, she obsesses with a bone marrow deep need to execute him.

As with Mr. Karpyshyn’s entries, this exciting military-political science fiction taled, based on the Mass Effect game, contains strong timely moral questions. The action-packed storyline asks the audience to ponder when does personal need supersede the greater societal good and whether there are scenarios in which not executing a cold killer who deserves to die is needed to save trillions of lives. Filled with action, fans will relish William Dietz’s first Mass Effect galaxy thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Doubletake-Rob Thurman


Rob Thurman

Roc, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451464446

After killing the monstrous Auphe race (see Blackout) who believed they belonged at the top of the food chain, half human/half Auphe Cal Leandros assumes his monstrous problems are gone. He is unaware that another hybrid beast lives and comes to him with a special purpose in mind. His brother Niko has family issues when his biological father, whom he never saw before, arrives in town to get help locating and disabling the “burden” in order for the siblings to return it to the Voyash Clan. The brother have no time for him as thy host a party for the Puck race (to include pal Goodfellow) who as Cupid look a-likes have lived for hundreds of thousands of years.They need a census to determine how man Pucks need to procreate.

Cal gatess Niko’s father to Central Park and after the gala, the burden JLanus the mechanical sentience being crosses through a gate and tries to kill anyone with Voyash blood. Another gate opens enabling Grimm to cross over to tell Cal he wants to join forces with him to get rid of the human race; he wants Cal to mate with a succabae so the progeny will one day take over the human world. To defeat his insane peer, Cal fights a mad god, several Cyclops and other creatures in an attempt to neutralize the Grimm.

The latest Cal and Niko dark urban fantasy (see Roadkill) is a fascinating entry that focuses on Cal who once again proves he is more human than Auphe as the heart of the series and this tale remains the powerful sibling relationship. Adding to the fun of Doubletake is meeting Niko’s scandalous biological father who is an absentee dad until he needs his son’s brother. The aurhor. Rob Thurmond provides another strong tale in a great saga.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Spellbound Falls-Janet Chapman

Spellbound Falls

Janet Chapman

Jove, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780515150360

Mother of eight year old Sophie, thirtyish Widow Olivia Baldwin and her Inglenook Camp counselor twentyish Mark Brier are at elderly widower Ezra’s trading post. Olivia hopes to buy Inglenook from her mother-in-law Eileen although she prefers to hide and run ever since her mom died when she was four and her dad stopped seeing her soon after. Mark assaults Olivia, but camp guest Max Oceanus intercedes. Max was unaware he sired his six year old son Henry until the child’s mom died two months ago; at the camp he plans for them to get to know each other.

Max thinks Olivia will provide him a pearl of wisdom on raising a child. She tells him he needs to understand Henry and they journey as a team. Their kids want the parents to date, but wise Sophie reflects that everyone eligible in Spellbound Falls is afraid of the ghost of Olivia’s late spouse Keith. Ironically Olivia hates Keith who failed to tell his parents they were divorcing when he got killed in combat. Over parenting lessons, the teacher and the student fall in love though she has childhood fears and he family issues keeping them apart. Additionally she, her daughter and her “guardian” Ezra recognize strange unexplainable behavior from his father and so that has her choosing flight.

The protagonists and the ensemble support cast are fully developed in this engaging romantic urban fantasy. The otherworldly elements blend smoothly with modern technology to bring about a fascinating environment that will turn even more uniquely. Although the storyline is thin and the children are too precocious, readers will enjoy learning just who Mr. Oceanus is and look forward to more adventures with the lead couple’s extended families (especially his).

Harriet Klausner

The Wolf Gift-Anne Rice

The Wolf Gift

Anne Rice

Knopf, Feb 14 2012, $26.95

ISBN: 9780307595119

San Francisco Observer reporter twentyish Reuben comes from a privileged heritage filled with a stately mansion. His editor sends him to interview elegant and exotic late thirtyish Marchent Nideck who desperately wants to sell the estate in Mendocino County she inherited from her great Uncle Felix who vanished two decades but only now is declared legally dead. Used to Russian and Nob Hills, he still finds the isolated mansion, four hours from San Francisco and miles even from the village of Nideck, incredibly beautiful, nicer than any home he has ever seen before. Reuben feels an obsession to know the recent tragic history of Nideck Mansion. Though he has a girlfriend Celeste in the city, Reuben and Marchent make love.

When he awakens from a nap, Reuben hears Marchent scream. He races to the noise only to be attacked by two men; one cuts him with a knife and a ferocious dog bites him. As he thinks he is dying, first responders arrive, but the intruders are gone and his hostess is dead. A few weeks later, a still traumatized Reuben begins displaying strange physical and mental changes. He fears what he has become, but seeks similar beasts to mentor him.

This is an entertaining Wolf-man urban fantasy starring a beleaguered protagonist who loses his innocence with the assault. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero changes in a sort of horror coming of age theme. Although longtime fans will see parallels to the good and evil theme of the Vampire Chronicles and the personality metamorphose similar to Jack Nicholson’s middle-aged Will Randall in Wolf, readers will appreciate Anne Rice latest horror thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Eyes Like Leaves-Charles De Lint

Eyes Like Leaves

Charles De Lint

Tachyon, Feb 1 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781616960506

On the Green Isles, magic has remained in a state of harmony seemingly forever due to the power equilibrium between Lothan the Icelord king of Everwinter and his rival Hafari the Summerlord. However, recently the magic has waned and the balance of nature threatened by Lothan who plans to subjugate the people of the Green Isles to Everwinter after he disposes of his dormant adversary.

Puretongue, the great wizard leader of the dhruidery, understands the peril to the land. As time is running out he sends his loyal student Tarn on a mission to gather anyone displaying Hafarl's magick before Lothan finishes his ethnic cleansing of the only viable counter insurgency. Meanwhile as Tarn does his search, the Samarand raiders continue unabated their practice of assaulting and plundering villages. Carrie, lost her family to these vicious marauders, meets Tarn who realizes she is powerfully blessed by warmth of the Summerlord. The pair and Deren the novice stand between Everwinter in the Green Isles.

This is the first publication of a quest Celtic mythological fantasy written by Charles de Lint during President Reagan’s first term. The storyline starts very slow as the author sets the locale and the key players in the seasonal civil war. From that snail opening, the plot goes hyperspeed with plenty of action as the bad and the ugly hunt the good and the innocent with genocidal intent. Fans of the author will enjoy this fine tale even without a visit from Jilly Copporcorn or a stop in Newford.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street-Peter Abrahams

Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street

Peter Abrahams

Philomel, Jan 19 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9780399255021

In Brooklyn seventh-grader Robyn “Robbie” Forester leaves the subway on her way to school when she sees the homeless woman, whom she has given change to, looking even sicker than before. The woman recognizes Robbie even as the cops and ambulance take her away. Robbie picks up a charm bracelet the homeless person dropped, but her effort to return it is too late.

On the Thatcher girls’ basketball team, Robbie sees a strange arc and shoots the winning shot by targeting the light. Later Robbie and her mom, who volunteer at the homeless shelter, learn that millionaire Sheldon Gunn is shutting the facility to obtain more rent from a different client. Gunn plans other closings while Robbie tells her teammate Ashanti and her former classmate Tut-Tut about the power of the bracelet. The three tweeners and Pendleton the dog become the Outlaws of Sherwood Street challenging Gunn.

The coach sets the tone when Ashanti receives an elbow to the head but the ref using a no blood no foul fails to call it with her comment that life is unfair so get over it. The whimsical storyline focuses on serious issues though targeted middle school children as Peter Abrahams scrutinizes income inequality due to legally rigged economic unfairness. Fast-paced, 99% of readers will enjoy Occupy Brooklyn by the modern day Robin Hood, Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street

Harriet Klausner

Destiny and Deception-Shannon Delany

Destiny and Deception

Shannon Delany

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312624460

In Junction, the Rusakova family euphorically takes the lycanthropic cure as the assumption is that “normal” will keep them safe from the mob and the company whose headquarters in town was destroyed. Jessie Gilmansen, whose blood was a key element in the elixir, and her boyfriend Pietr Rusakova look forward to a simpler relationship without a clock. However, Pietr is not the same person as he was when he had a dual personality; instead of Jesse, his passion is studying.

A new werewolf pack of twelve led by Marlaena arrives from Chicago seeking sanctuary from hunters stalking them. As Jesse finds her relationship with Pietr strained, she also has a new rival who plans to make the former werewolf hers. Her friend Alexi empathizes with Jess’s plight and wishes he could make it go away while he also worries about his other “mates” in their “family”.

The latest 13 to Life young adult urban fantasy takes an intriguing spin as the bond between the lead couple that was the foundation of the previous trio (see 13 To Life, Secrets And Shadows, and Bargains And Betrayal) appears broken. The storyline is fast-paced, filled with angst and twists and a fabulous ending that will leave readers in knots waiting for the next entry. Shannon Delaney takes a risk with the bond seemingly shattered, but young adult fans will relish the change in this super thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Isis Collar- Cat Adams

The Isis Collar

Cat Adams

Tor, Mar 13 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765328731

Dottie Simmons a level eight unregistered clairvoyant warns half vampire-half Siren Celia Graves that a bomb has been planted in a school. Civic minded Graves asks Principal Sanchez to dismiss the kids but the school official says no as she sees no threat except for armed Celia. Desperate to save the children especially eight year old Alex with Siren blood, Graves calls her late former BFF Vickie’s lover Heather Alexander to get the law enforcement official to evacuate the school that no longer had its magical shields deployed. Heather says she is unable to do so as security guard Jamisyn escorts Graves from the school. When the bell rings ending the day, the magic explodes leaving everyone inside except for Graves functioning in ultra -slow motion.

Graves is unaware she suffered injuries too as she has memory problems and cannot heal her wounds from the explosion. The real intent soon becomes clear when a zombie pandemic spreads from the school’s ground zero to the entire country. Graves and the Feds search for an antidote to the plague and hunt the bombers while the heroine’s personal relationships are a shamble as her vampire side, her alcoholic mother and the ghost of her sister who died when she was at eight years old make demands on Graves while her boyfriend has vanished.

The fourth Blood Singer romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Song, Siren Song and Demon Song) is a terrific entry as the frustrated heroine struggles with making sense of a chaotic world. The school scenario sets the pace of the strong storyline as Graves cannot persuade Sanchez of the pending peril. Series fans will appreciate this engaging entry, which climaxes nicely while also setting up the next thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Seven Princes-John Fultz

Seven Princes

John Fultz

Orbit, Jan 3 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9780316187862

In the southern section of the High Realms overlooking the Cryptic Sea, King Trimesqua of Yaskatha leads the celebration of the Feast of Ascension. Elhathym the stranger arrives at court informing the monarch his time is over as he has come home to reclaim his city. Irate at this affront, the king splits the self-acclaimed sorcerer’s head. Not long after his men dispose of the corpse, the ancient necromancer returns and executes the ruler. Trimesqua’s teenage heir Prince D'zan escapes.

D'zan visits neighboring Mumbaza and Khyrei and realms beyond with a call for arms to kick the usurper off the throne before the sorcerer turns to their kingdoms. To the far north bordering on the Giantsland, King Vod of New Urudum suffers from dementia. His oldest son Prince Fangodel meets and betrays the naive D’zan while magical lethal assaults leave the kingdoms in chaos and peril. Unsure who to trust to help him on his quest, D’zan finds a possible ally in Fangodel’s youngest sibling Princess Sharadza while he and six other princes loosely align to combat the evil overwhelming the kingdoms.

The Seven Princes is an interesting quest fantasy that focuses on the intrigue and backstabbing between the ruling classes of the six kingdoms. The storyline is action-packed from the grim moment the necromancer offers to simply execute the King Trimesqua to keep the bloodshed down to one insignificant monarch and never slows down until the final confrontation between good and evil. The hero is an “assumed” coming of age protagonist, as readers never see his specific metamorphosis since he just matures with each new incident. Fans will want to tour the kingdoms with D’zan and his peers as their guides.

Harriet Klausner

The Woman Special Edition-Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee

The Woman Special Edition

Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee

Cemetery Dance, Jan 2012, $35.00

ISBN: 9781587672538

The Woman’s clan ate human meat with the heart and brain being their gourmet delights. A rival clan attacked them leaving all dead except or The Woman. Severely injured and exhausted she escaped and hid in a cave. While cleaning her wounds in a creek, Christopher Cleek spots her. Fascinated by this feral she beast, he decides to domesticate the wild animal. He takes her prisoner.

He directs his wife Belle and his teenage oldest offspring Peggy to clean up the Woman Cleek holds in chains in the fruit cellar. Neither female wants to go near the wild Woman, but both know never disobey Father, the family martinet patriarch. Cleek tries to break his captive just like he has done to his spouse and three children (Peggy, Brian and Darleen), but her defiant spirit refuses to bend against every abusive effort he deploys. Belle is frightened; as the truth she kept out of her conscious mind for a decade surfaces. She expects her predatory mate to do to the Woman what he has done to her and their daughters. Bell encourages Peggy to lie, but when the teen’s pregnancy becomes known, violence erupts.

The Woman is a gory frightening horror thriller that looks at human ugliness towards others even alleged loved ones. The Father’s mental and physical control of his family focuses on how psychological warfare works as neither Belle nor Peggy can act even passively defiant like getting the cops until the pregnancy forces their hands. Although the storyline is choppy, the plot asks readers to consider values as ironically; the Woman is the most moral character in site of her being a cannibal and the question lingers over what is civilized?

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sadie Walker Is Stranded-Madeleine Roux

Sadie Walker Is Stranded

Madeleine Roux

St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9780312658915

The Outbreak Patient Zero was on The Golden Princess that brought the virus to Seattle and from there across North America and the world. Millions died from this plague. As the survivors struggled with so much death and related diseases, the real pandemic begins when the dead rise with a craving for live flesh and many of the living become predators.

Wannabe illustrator Sadie Walker, mother to her eight-year-old nephew Shane, resides as normal as they can inside the Citadel a living encampment in Seattle. Her boyfriend Carl arranges for black marketers to abduct Shane as a commodity for sale. She manages to push Carl down the stairs killing him, but leaving her unconscious. The thieves leave with Shane while her friend from before the Outbreak Andrea tells her they must leave as Carl’s buddies tore down a barrier that kept the walking dead outside their stronghold. The two females rescue Shane but remain in peril as Seattle has become a buffet for the undead with the only way off is at sea but most people including Sadie fear water as an un-deadly trap.

Sadie Walker Is Stranded is an exciting urban fantasy in which people adjust to the new meaning of survival of the fittest or become fodder for the undead. The title character is super as she struggles with adaptation while her BFF is kick butt and Shane’s childhood innocence is gone. Although unlikely events (even for an undead tale) detract from an otherwise great thriller, readers will enjoy the zombie storm that leaves Sadie, Andrea and Shane stranded with no place to go although two men join their quest for a haven.

Harriet Klausner

A True Son of Asmodeus-Zvi Zaks

A True Son of Asmodeus

Zvi Zaks

By Light Unseen Media, Dec 9 2011, $13.00

ISBN: 9781935303350

In Los Angles, hematologist Dr. Eli Rothenberg mentions to Sheila the ER head nurse that the zoo will end in under an hour, she takes him seriously as his workload comments determine staffing needs. Eli tells her that when he was ten he predicted his dying cousin would recover from meningitis, which happened. His father tried to use his psychic skills at poker but lost his shirt and slapped Eli. He vowed to never use his skill, but Sheila insists subconsciously his ESP talent surfaces.

Eli is shocked when his mentor Dr. Andrew Netter arrives on a gurney with an empty sleeping pills bottle taped to his comatose body. That is the impetus for Eli to quit his job and leave his compassionate girlfriend Karen Lodge to accept a fellowship jointly sponsored by the University of Heidelberg, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and the University of Munich. On the trek to London, Eli meets Hasidic Jew Abram Rabinowich of Munich and Schmuel the converted Jew. In London, horrific murders occur while Schmuel visits Eli. He heads to Munich; at the Dachau concentration camp Eli survives evil. Stunned he visits Abram, who introduces him to the Perceptive warriors while malevolence waits for Eli in Auschwitz though six million allies pray for him.

This terrific Hasidic religious thriller grips the audience from the first premonition until the last. Fast-paced and filled with action, Eli is a great hero as he goes from denier to skeptic to believer due to the events that his rationale mind wants to reject. Fans will relish Eli’s enlightened run through the darkest evil, which thrives when monsters like Hitler and his gruesome wannabes provide the sustenance.

Harriet Klausner

Discount Armageddon-Seanan McGuire

Discount Armageddon

Seanan McGuire

Daw, Mar 6 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780756407131

The Price extended family has been cryptid hunters for generations. However, they eventually rejected the Covenant of St. George that condoned species cleansing. Like the rest of her clan, Verity Price is a cryptozoologist who works to insure safe environments for cryptids and humans. However, though she is passionately dedicated, her first love is ballroom dancing though she wonders where that strand of her DNA comes from.

Thus Verity moves from the West Coast to New York to dance for a year. When she prevents a carnivorous ghoul (clearly an oxymoron) from dining on a human, Verity, who works as a waitress for a Dark bogeyman at Dave’s Fish and Strips club, concludes this is why she never has a Saturday night date. As cryptids are being hunted in the city, Dominick DeLuca catches Verity in a rooftop snare. The two enemies agree to team up when lizard people are found in the sewers and rumors abound that a sleeping dragon underneath Manhattan gneiss bedrock is awakening.

As October takes a Daye off, Seanan McGuire begins a new urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple. The storyline is fun to follow due to the amusing asides from the priceless heroine. With a nod to the classic cantina scene in Star Wars, it is the McGuire Manhattan mythos with the various cryptid species, many introduced at Dave’s club (like the therianthrope bouncer – cute as long as you don’t tango, and the dragon princess - known for making money faster than Wall St. and without a male), that makes for a great read.

Harriet Klausner

My Lord Vampire-Alexandra Ivy

My Lord Vampire

Alexandra Ivy

Zebra, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781420122718

Over two centuries ago, Nefri, the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri realizes three avariciouses vampires plan to take the objects; so she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.

Two men enter the life of Lady Simone Gilbert, who possesses one section of Nefri’s Medallion. Suave Tristan Soltern frightens Simone though she is unsure why; while she is attracted to ultra-arrogant Gideon Ravel. As Simone and Gideon fall in love, Tristan kills look-alike whores as a message to his adversary that he can and threatens to reveal her darkest secret.

The first Immortal Rogues Regency romantic fantasy is an entertaining tale starring an intriguing human female. Although Nefri's approach to keep the realms safe seems illogical and the triangle never quite gels as Tristan fails to be a rival for the affection of the target, fans will wonder what secret the feisty Simone conceals while waiting for the war between the vampires.

Harriet Klausner

Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors-Molly Harper

Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors

Molly Harper

Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781451641813

Gabriel Nightingale and Jane Jameson move in together in her ancestral home. As a librarian and bookstore owner, Jane appreciates his rare books like his early printing of Persuasion that he purchased when it was released. Her collection consists of second hand books with plenty of folds. Jane feels good about her friends who helped them move, but made it clear the couple must never break up because they refuse to carry boxes again. Most important to Jane is that her stunned family has somewhat accepted that she is a vampire as is her significant other. Life as an undead is good.

In an instant that changes as Jane watches in horror teenager Jamie Lanier, making deliveries for the Half Moon Dairy, backs out with his hand truck loaded into an on-coming car and he is injured in the crash. Neighbors Dick and Andrea rush out to the accident scene; and he orders Jane to change the lad; which she does. Stunned Jane feels like a child having a child as she is a fledgling vamp now a parenting vampire. Gabriel mentions he “sired” three children in a century and a half; two were evil. Besides nurturing her offspring, death threats and the ghost of ghostly presence of her Grandma Ruthie (still a pain in the butt from the beyond) Jane has a wedding to plan.

The fourth “It Happened to Jane” chick lit urban fantasy (see Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever and Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men) is a madcap adventure filled with twists and plenty of jocularity especially self-deprecating humor. The storyline is thin but fast-paced and fun; sub-genre fans will enjoy this breezy entry as Jane learns how difficult parenting is.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 9, 2012

Sliver of Shadow-Allison Pang

Sliver of Shadow

Allison Pang

Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781439198346

Abby Sinclair still adapts to being the human TouchStone, a position she inherited from her late mom, who helps the OtherFolk cross the barriers between the human and Faery realm. Her liege the Faery Protectorate Moira, whose life she saved (see A Brush of Darkness), has to leave for a meeting at the Faery Court since war with the demons of hell seems imminent. The Protectorate leaves Abby in charge. Part of her duties is to protect Moira’s half-angel child. Abbey receives help from Moira’s outcast half-brother Talivar and Phineas the miniature unicorn who uses her underwear as bedding.

The raging Faery Queen abruptly shuts the CrossRoads portal between the two worlds after a spell targeted the TouchStone mortal. OtherFolk trapped on Earth are fading into oblivion. Abby, escorted by Talivar and her former lover Brystion the incubus, treks to CrossRoads in an attempt to override the queen’s angry spell.

The second sensational Sinclair urban fantasy is an exciting conspiratorial thriller starring a strong cast especially the kick butt heroine. Abby is terrific when she focuses on the magic issues; her overly melodramatic inability to make up (her) mind; pick up on one and leave the other behind” (Lovin’ Spoonful) detracts from the storyline. Still in spite of a disappointingly indecisive climax, fans will enjoy Abby’s awesome adventures.

Harriet Klausner

The Ruined City- Paula Brandon

The Ruined City

Paula Brandon

Spectra, Feb 28 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9780553583823

The abduction left pampered privileged Jianna Belandor, daughter of powerful Faerlonnish overlord the Magnifico Aureste Belandor, was shaken with what she learned about the Veiled Isles and her family as a prisoner of her Aunt Magnifico Onarto. She escapes with the help of rebel sympathizer Falaste Rione the physician while seeing her privileged lifestyle though the eyes of the lower classes (see The Traitor's Daughter).

She returns home to deadly chaos. Her father is missing, The City Ruined by disease and the amphibian slaves in open revolt, while those who die return from the dead. Arcane practitioners read these and believe they are the signs of a revelation switch as an enigmatic magical spring the Source has begun the shift of alignments that is leading to a pandemic catastrophe for the Veiled Islands.

The second Jianna Belandor escapades are a wonderfully complex romantic quest fantasy with multiple subplots linked by the doomsday countdown. The cast is fully developed whether they are the heroic lead couple, the zombie horde or the amphibian rebels, etc. Fans will appreciate the Brandon mythos as The Ruined City is a fabulous frenzied forerunner of what looks like the cataclysmic end of the Veiled Islands unless a magical miracle emerges.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Fated-Benedict Jacka


Benedict Jacka

Ace, Feb 28 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781937007294

In London, Alex Verus runs a magic shop. Not only does this proprietorship enable him to use his knowledge but is also the perfect cover in plain sight of his talent. Alex is a diviner mage who can see the infinite possible futures and can sometimes influence which one occurs. His ability has the warring forces of the Light and the Dark wanting him on their respective side and will do anything even causing collateral damage to the innocent to make him their stooge.

Choosing neither side as he believes both are wrong with the damage they cause to civilians, Alex has one other unique trait that no other mage apparently possesses as he is an empath who feels for those he knows. The mage factions demand Alex open a relic from the ancient mage war. He looks into the future and realizes that the outcome of doing their bidding is one hundred percent deaths for him and his two dependents, Luna the cursed woman, and Starbreeze the ancient air elemental dumber than a rock. Alex and his wards flee as he foresees their only slim possible chance to survive the assaults from the Light and the Dark is flight not fight.

This is a great opening act as the first Alex Verus urban fantasy establishes the Jacka rules of magical physics but does so interwoven inside a fast-paced storyline. The cast is solid (even the ephemeral) but rascally Alex keeps the tale focused as he versus a world in which the superpowers reject neutrality; nor does either side care about the mundane. Instead the mantra is "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem" (Eldridge Cleaver).

Harrier Klausner

Jane Vows Vengeance-Michael Thomas Ford

Jane Vows Vengeance

Michael Thomas Ford

Ballantine, Feb 28 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780345513670

Living in Brakeston, New York as Jane Fairfax the owner of Flyleaf Books, Jane Austen agrees to marry Walter Fletcher. They plan their wedding, which proves difficult for Jane in a proof positive you legally exist photo ID era. Jane has no family to invite as they died two centuries ago and few friends. When Walter receives an invitation to tour the fine architect of Europe, he and Jane decide to marry in the Tower. An astonished Lord Byron gets her a passport through a zombie forger.

At the Tower, Jane is distracted by the appearances of the two lost princes. The ceremony is cancelled when Joshua Mobley, Jane’s husband of nine days over two centuries ago, arrives. Walter grudgingly accepts the wait until his fiancée can extradite herself from her nuptials. Jane wonders who told her vampire husband that she would be at the Tower. She also hears about Crispin’s Needle, an object that allegedly if stuck into a vampire’s heart turns them into a human with a soul. Jane searches the continent for the device while in London she is the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

The latest Jane the contemporary vampire tale is a witty satire that continues the spoofing of the Austen mania including the novels by Michael Thomas Ford (see Jane Goes Batty and Jane Bites Back). Jane’s sardonic self-deprecating sense of humor keeps her sane in a world that seems insane as she jumps from one crisis into another. With Lord Byron and Charlotte Bronte to help drive her crazy, Jane learns how complicated life for an undead who just wants to get married can be in a digital ID mania age.

Harriet Klausner