Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blood of Dragons-Robin Hobb

Blood of Dragons

Robin Hobb

Harper Voyager, Apr 9 2013, $27.99

ISBN 9780062116857

The Elderlings human-dragon hybrids reestablish the lost city of Kelsingra so that the young dragons they have pledged to protect can thrive. However, most of the fledglings cannot fly across the river to their new sanctuary, which leaves them exposed. The dying Duke of Chalced needs dragons to live; thus he has hunters stalking the beasts so that he can extract their life sustaining attributes.

Meanwhile the ancient dragon queen Tintaglia also struggles for her life after a vicious attack by Chalced mercenaries seeking blood for their duke. Her followers scream for war against the humans who committed this audacious atrocity. At the same time the Elderlings search for Silver so that the dragons do not lose their memories of their true form especially within a city filled with species’ memories.

The latest Rain Wilds Chronicles epic fantasy involves a vast rotating cast so that the engaging storyline always seems slightly off kilter yet works for those who read the previous entries (see Dragon Keeper, Dragon Haven and City of Dragons) as the depth makes the world of Hobb seem genuine. Fans will enjoy the confrontation between the good (Thymara), the bad (Chalced) and the ugly (Hest).

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And Then She Fell-Stephanie Laurens

And Then She Fell

Stephanie Laurens

Avon, Mar 26 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062068644

In 1837 London, as the last two unmarried Cynster females of their generation (see The Taming of Ryder Cavanaugh), Henrietta’s younger sister Mary persuades her to wear the legendary family heirloom known for the wearer finding love. At a gala, Lady Henrietta intervenes to stop young and innocent Melina Wentworth from foolishly accepting James Glossup’s suit. The Ton dubs the spinster Henrietta the “Matchbreaker” as she has an inner sense of when a bad marriage will occur.

Feeling some guilt for what she did to James and ignoring her family’s feud with his, Henrietta believes she owes him and offers to assist him in finding an appropriate wife. The only problem with the right spouse is Henrietta wants it to be her; James shares her attraction.

The latest Cynster Sisters historical romance is an amusing lighthearted tale as the heroine sings “I’m Not In Love” (10Cc) while the lead male chortles “Love Hurts” (Nazareth). Fast-paced, fans will enjoy this fun frolic as “… Then There Was One” (Agatha Christie) left.

Harriet Klausner

Extinction Machine-Jonathan Maberry

Extinction Machine

Jonathan Maberry

St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 26 2013, $$15.00

ISBN: 9780312552213

Department of Military Sciences Echo Team enters Shelton Aeronautics in Wolf Trap, Virginia only to find sixty dead and the only alive people are two FBI agents supposed to be in Alaska; the pair escapes after kicking the butt of the DMS unit using shocking techno gizmos. At the New Technologies Development Site #18 in Tangstan, People’s Republic of China, General Lo and his team dig through the ruins of an experiment that went bad seeking remnants of the Dragon Engine. Not long afterward, POTUS is taken from within the White House; Vice President Collins becomes acting president and begins the shutdown of DMS as other key leaders vanish and UFO sightings around the globe ate at their highest reporting ever.

Declared officially traitors, DMS operative Joe Ledger and his Echo Team investigate the strange happenings that continue to plague the world. While the Feds hunt Echo Team with instructions to assassinate the unit searches for the Majestic Black Book that may not exist. Black market sales of alien technology have flourished especially amongst the shadow government killers but someone begins to take back what was once theirs.

The latest Joe Ledger conspiracy theory tale (see Assassin’s Code and The King of Plagues) is the usual exhilarating over the top thriller that this time has Joe and his misfits dodging advanced technologically equipped legal killers while hunting down those involved in the UFO retrofitting; no one is prepared for a stealth other operative devastating the playing fields as the North Koreans learn firsthand. The Alien arms race economics is super satirical as Echo Team faces a threat greater than zombies and hostile ETs with the U.S. Government stalking them using advanced hybrid weaponry.

Harriet Klausner

Protector-C.J. Cherryh


C.J. Cherryh

Daw, April 2 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780756407988

The heir to the Atevi leader of the Western Association Tabiniaiji, eight years old Cajerji celebrates his birthday with his people and select human friends he made. Meanwhile the Assassins' Guild, responsible for security, is divided with many opposed to Tabini's rule, preferring traditionalists like Ilisidi and others.

Not knowing who to trust, Tabini asks his friend human diplomat Bren Cameron to work with his aiji-dowager grandmother Ilisidi to protect his child and other guests. Tabini and Bren believe the enemies of the Atevi leader will use the gala to make a deadly statement with both of them, the heir and specific guests as the targets.

The latest Foreigner Universe thriller (see Intruder, Betrayer and Deceiver) is an entertaining tale with somewhat limited action, as once again C.J. Cherryh deeply develops political and ethnic themes with young Cajerji as the focus of opposing forces with diverse motives. Few besides his father and Ben care about his well-being as most see the lad as a pawn to further personal agendas. Fans will enjoy Cajerji’s happy birthday bash with unwanted fireworks part of the gala.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Forever Knight-John Marco

The Forever Knight

John Marco

Daw, April 2 2013, $25.95

ISBN: 9780756407513

Lukien once was the beloved Bronze Knight until he betrayed his king. Despondent he lost his love Cassandra and several friends, he sought death as the way out of his lonely existence after bringing peace; no one needs a hero after the victory. However, he learns that is not quite true as he became the immortal champion of the magical using Inhuman desert dwellers who live in impoverished isolation deep in the desert at Grimhold.

Lukien remains the defender of Grimhold, but no longer possesses both Eyes of Gods amulet. Instead he now yields the Sword of Angels that possesses the Akari spirit of an earlier age hero Malator. Needing a purpose, Lukien leaves Grimhold with encouragement from Malator. On the road from apathy he meets youthful Cricket a seeker of her lost memories.

The profound premise in this first follow-up to the Bronze Knight fantasy trilogy (see Sword of Angels) focuses on what happens to a hero after the mission is accomplished and accolades received, As MacArthur said: "old soldiers never die; they just fade away"; but fails to mention what to do with the rest of their (immortal in this case) life. There is plenty of action as expected in a John Marco thriller, but it is the psychologically scarred Lukien and his counterpoint Malator who make the story fascinating. Cricket adds depth but her young and innocent immaturity seems out of place in a realm where teens mature fast or die. The Forever Knight is a deep opening gamut as the larger than life hero needs a purpose.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Kiss Of Temptation-Sandra Hill

Kiss Of Temptation

Sandra Hill

Avon, Mar 26 2013, $5.99

ISBN: 9780062064639

In 850 AD in the Norselands, Ivak Sigurdsson lived a perpetual hard life with lust being his driver until he chose his friend Serk’s wife only to be caught; Serk hangs himself. Filled with remorse, the blacksmith, whose spouse Ivak bedded, stabs him with a medal tine pitchfork. Michael the angel tells Ivak that neither heaven nor hell is his destination, but something worse for his sins of the flesh. He becomes celibate as one of God’s Vangal Viking vampire angel fighting against Satan’s vampire demons the lucipires.

In 2013, Ivak travels to Angola Prison where thirty-one year old Leroy Sonnier serves time for murdering his abusive father fifteen years ago after the drunk beat his mom and younger sister. Ivak’s mission is to protect Leroy’s sister Second Chance lawyer Gabrielle who failed again to get the parole board to free him; apparently because his rage for justice and criticism of the penal system has made him a media darling. While keeping Gabrielle safe from the lucipire, Ivak lusts like he never did before. He initially assumes it is because of his celibacy, but eventually realizes she is soul mate while lamenting that his heavenly debt is eternal.

This is a fun Deadly Angels paranormal romance (see Kiss of Surrender and Kiss of Pride) as the lustful Vangal deals with desire (mindful of the climax in the Devil and Ms. Jones) when he meets his protected one. Fast-paced with a condemnation of the file cabinet American system of justice, fans of Sandra Hill will enjoy Kiss of Temptation with the additional bonus of the return of Tante Lulu and the Ragin’ Cajun LeDeux family (see The Red-Hot Cajun).

Harriet Klausner

The Scrivener's Tale-Fiona McIntosh

The Scrivener's Tale

Fiona McIntosh

Harper Voyager, Mar 26 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780062237309

A trucker wanting to be home with his wife and kid pushed himself on Britain’s M1 until his eyes shut. The ensuing pile-up left many dead including Lauren and Henry; fate intervened and spared the life of their husband-father psychiatrist Gabe. He coped for a year before fleeing to France for the last fifteen months. In Paris, Gabe the bookstore employee agrees to provide a professional opinion on the mental state of Angelina. She tells him about her haunting delusions that frighten the psychiatrist as they eerily link to his nightmares.

In Morgravia, Fynch the guardian feels a powerful malevolence places the Wild in peril; so he deploys a plan to save the land from the demon who escaped the void. Cyricus the demon seeks destruction of the Wild for his eons of exile. He begins his vendetta by possessing those foolish to join his quest, which will end when he as Queen Florentyna orders the devastation of the Wild that will also lead to war between the neighboring nations of Morgravia, Briavel and The Razors. Gabe mysteriously arrives in the magical Kingdom where he encounters Cassien the warrior guarding Queen Florentyna from internal threats and Hamelyn the orphan. Together the three must defeat Cyricus or a world will perish.

Taking place long after The Quickening trilogy, fans of the series and newcomers will relish this engaging quest fantasy due to a strong cast especially the fully-developed flawed heroes. Filled with non-stop action except for the French interlude that never quite fits inside the storyline in spite of establishing that Gabe is otherworldly in time and place, The Scrivener's Tale is a delightful engaging good and evil fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Red Moon-Benjamin Percy

Red Moon

Benjamin Percy

Grand Central, May 7 2013, $25.99

ISBN: 9781455501663

As his National Guard father deploys on a military peacekeeping mission operation inside the Lupine Republic, which is rich with uranium, teenager Patrick Gamble flies home to be with his mother. While in the air, a lycan goes berserk; killing everyone in the in the seating area except Patrick. He survives the bloody assault by hiding underneath a pile of corpses. The media calls him the "Miracle Boy" while a militant Lycan liberation army claims the attack that shocks the nation.

Soon afterward, Lycan Claire Forrester watches in horror as government agents raid her family home killing her parents and forcing her to flee from her suburban lifestyle as her uncle’s militant group claims credit for the air assaults. At the same Oregon Governor Chase Williams takes advantage of Lycan fears to make a run for the White House based on his strong take the fight to the enemy position; though he conceals a secret that would derail his presidential ambitions. As discriminatory laws to control Lycan become increasingly the norm and the voices of rage drown out reason, society proves that "violence is as American as cherry pie" (H. Rap Brown).

The keys to this strong urban fantasy is that the biology and medical causes of the lycan prion seem genuine and the plot’s reflecrions of real American movements from the civil rights to the GWOT, etc. The expected romance between Claire and Patrick adds depth to the de facto racism each has seen as their respective species violently prevent inter-relationships. Filled with gory action, yet loaded with a strong social-political message on basic human rights, Red Moon is a terrific thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Let the Dead Sleep-Heather Graham

Let the Dead Sleep

Heather Graham

Mira, Mar 26 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9780778315056

In New Orleans, Danni Cafferty is in a hospital room as her father lies near death. Heartbroken she tells her dying dad she loves him and needs him to stay with her. He abruptly tells her he failed her when he delayed telling her of her inheritance; as he allowed his love for her to let her live a little longer as a normal. Before collapsing, her father insists she keep his curio shop she inherits and protect his ancient lore tome.

Not long after her father’s death, a distraught woman enters the shop to demand Danni take away an evil statue that killed her husband and will kill her next. Danni arrives at the woman’s home to learn she committed suicide and meets former NOPD cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn; the statue is gone. After informing her he collaborated on cases with her late dad, Michael further explains to her he is looking into strange deaths related to a Renaissance statue stolen from the grave of a malevolent monster. They team up in search of the missing artifact though both fear what will happen to them if they obtain this evil without precautions like having Catholic and Voodoo priests accompanying them.

The first Cafferty & Quinn romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale though the love subplot between the protagonists seems more of an intruding sub-genre requirement. The New Orleans hunt for the malevolent killing relic is fun to follow even without a Krewe of Hunters for readers to rely on; as Heather Graham opens up her new series with an entertaining paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Bite Me, Your Grace-Brooklyn Ann

Bite Me, Your Grace

Brooklyn Ann

Sourcebook, Apr 2 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402274442

In 1821 Duke Ian Ashton is going crazy for two reasons. First, as the Lord Vampire of London he must deal with the crazy fad caused by Dr. John Polidori's tale "The Vampyre" written over a weekend with the Shelley couple and Byron as the aristocracy goes vampyre. If he has to take any more bites of garlic, show up in daylight or prove you can see his reflection in a mirror, he may drain his host.

Second his neighbor, wannabe writer Angelica Winthrop, has been sneaking into his home and asking questions as she seeks a theme for her novel. Ian decides she will be the perfect cover of his true identity after he bites and marries her. However, even that goes wrong forcing him to find that damn Polidori and more difficult not to love his spouse while a slayer stalks anyone who acts differently with a stake first and questions later attitude.

Bite Me, Your Grace is a refreshing amusing yet dark Regency urban fantasy romance that uses the famous weekend ghost wirting contest as the springboard for a fun tale. Fast-paced with a strong cast and a wonderful twist, readers will enjoy Brooklyn Ann’s fabulous fang frolic.

Harriet Klausner

Flirting Under A Full Moon-Ashlyn Chase

Flirting Under A Full Moon

Ashlyn Chase

Sourcebook, Apr 2 2013, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402275692

The text message informs Boston Uncommon waitress Brandee Hanson that she has been dumped. Her reaction is to swear off men, but Sadie Maven, the aunt of the owner the bar, tells the despondent woman that she had a premonition and reads her Tarot Cards that insist Brandee’s true love is coming for her. One-night stand Nick Wolfensen enters the establishment.

Over a century old, the former cop who hates taking or giving orders, Nick tells his recently married twin brother Konrad (see The Werewolf Upstairs) that he has become a private investigator. BPD Captain Hunter arranges for Nick to search for the mayor’s kidnapped stepdaughter. The girl is a fire mage unaware of her paranormal nature as the first inclination occurs at the first solar eclipse following the onset of puberty. Brandee notices Nick consulting with Sadie on a case in which the missing person must be her twelve year old cousin Kate due to the lack of pigment in her hair making it white. She follows him and witnesses his shifting into a wolf, but Mother Nature and a vampire erase the evidence and her memory. When they kiss, Nick knows he met his mate, but fears her reaction when he explains what he is.

The latest Strange Neighbors urban fantasy romance (see The Vampire Next Door) is an entertaining Bostonian romp. Although neither Nick nor Brandee feel developed enough to sell the existence of his species (or for that matter other paranormal types), fans will enjoy the hundred and one years old werewolf and the twenty-something mortal falling in love while Flirting Under A Full Moon.

Harriet Klausner

Shadow's Edge-Jami Gray

Shadow's Edge

Jami Gray

Black Opal Books, Nov 2 2011, $12.99

ISBN: 9781937329150

In Portland, Taliesin Security Wraith, Kyn-human hybrid, Raine McCord kills purebred Quinn, who murdered two college students, but not before she took a wound from his magically enhanced blade. Her biggest fear is when she reports his death to their boss, Type A control freak Ryan Mulcahy the head Fey in the Northwest, who told her bring him in.

She arrives home, but has no time for respite as her Wraith co-worker Gavin Durand arrives with a message from Mulcahy that they will team up on an inquiry into Jonah Talbot of the Talbot Foundation who insists someone murdered seven of his associates in seven years and he is next. Mulcahy distrusts Talbot who might be using a ploy to conceal he is the killer; but if innocent one of the Wraiths would be the next best suspect.

The first Kyn Kronicles’ urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed paranormal investigative thriller that deftly enables the audience to believe in the existence of the magical community’s four sentient species. Raine is a fabulous lone wolf protagonist saddled with a partner she does not want especially since she suffers an undesirable attraction towards Gavin. On the other hand Gavin is a typical hunk with a bad boy attitude that irritates the heroine and the reader for the same reason: he distracts her and us from a walk on the dark side of the mean streets of Portland.

Harriet Klausner