Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cast In Flame-Michelle Sagara

Cast In Flame
Michelle Sagara
Mira, Jul 29 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780778317081

In the Elantra Empire having completed her dangerous mission as a harmoniste in the West March (see Cast in Sorrow) Kaylin March returns home to no apartment.  Just before she journeyed with Lord Nightshade and the Baroni into the West March, someone destroyed her efficiency apartment she shared with the only known female dragon Bellusdeo and an egg (see Cast In Peril).  Accompanied by two Baroni and her roommates, she resides in the Imperial Palace.  However, dragon gossip and fighting drive her crazy so in spite of the emperor’s concerns for Bellusdeo’s safety and assassins targeting them, Kaylin seeks a quieter address. 

Apartment hunting is put on hold when Teela asks Kaylin to come to the castle where a domestic dispute between the Nightshade brothers threatens everyone’s safety.  Compounding the potentially lethal sibling rivalry is the awakening of dormant magic.

The tenth Chronicles of Elantra fantasy returns to its thematic roots (see Cast in Fury with its cautionary re de facto racism cautionary message) with a strong look at people’s need for identity as a major part of social belongingness.  Loaded with action, series fans will appreciate Michelle Sagara’s skill to enhance her tense superb storyline with perceptiveness into characters’ motivations.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Resurrectionist--Sierra Woods

The Resurrectionist
Sierra Woods
Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 1 2014, $5.75
ISBN: 9780373886005

In Albuquerque, Dani Wright the resurrectionist understands her job is to right wrong though sometimes morality can confuse which is which.  Three years ago her husband Blake’s lover attacked her and cut out her unborn from her womb; she and her baby died, but the Other-siders sent her back to perform the miracles of a resurrectionist.  Though attracted to her APD protector Detective Sam Lopez, she distrusts males ever since Blake’s betrayal left her and their child dead; so she refuses to act on her desire.

After working the Ramirez missing child case, her otherworld contact Burton the street skateboarder a-hole informs her that the Others worry that the Dark malevolence is arising after centuries of dormancy.  Meanwhile Sam always has her back and even supplements her power on a difficult switch.  He admits to Dani he likes her a lot and that his grandmother was an underground illegal resurrectionist.  As the couple gets closer and falls in love, the Dark comes for Dani.

This is an entertaining urban fantasy noir.  Filled with graveyard humor and a slowly developing romance (which seems right for this fun thriller), readers will believe in Sierra Woods portrayal of The Resurrectionist bringing the enlightenment to New Mexico.

Harriet Klausner

Clockwork Dagger-Beth Cato

Clockwork Dagger
Beth Cato
Harper Voyager, Sep 16 2014, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062313843

In the kingdom of Caskentia where war with the Waste is a constant, orphaned healer Octavia Leander rides the airship to her new position of medician knowing to adhere to her mentor Miss Percival’s three rules of travel.  However, someone assaults her onboard roommate Mrs. Stout and almost immediately afterward Octavia.  Mrs. Viola Stout and Alonzo Garrett the steward help her thwart the attempt to kill her.

Confused over why anyone would stalk a non like her, Octavia learns the kingdom and the breakaway Dallows Province have placed her in the middle of a rebellion though she wonders why her.  Other violent incidents including murder occur in which Octavia survives more efforts to assassinate her as if she was important; while now also questioning who her two defenders truly are.

Clockwork Dagger is a great steampunk fantasy starring a tremendous bewildered heroine who holds the storyline focused.  Fast-paced and filled with action and dangerous intrigue (readers will think twice before riding an airship) yet with a strong support cast inside the vivid Cato magical world, subgenre fans will relish Octavia’s opening act while wanting more of her misadventures in Caskentia.

Harriet Klausner 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Bloodshifted-Cassie Alexander

Cassie Alexander
St. Martin's Paperbacks, Jul 1 2014, $7.99
ISBN: 9781250037954

Lovers Dr. Asher the shapeshifter and Nurse Edie Spence left County Hospital’s secret Y4 ward for paranormal patients on the Maraschino cruise ship bound for Hawaii.  However, a maniac released an infectious disease that killed most humans on board.  Pregnant Edie survived by drinking vampire blood that turned her into a daytimer.  The price Edie pays is that Raven the vampire whose blood saved her and her unborn owns her (see Deadshifted).

Forced to separate from beloved Asher, Edie, like her lover, struggles to find a cure that will liberate her from the vampire’s control or endure eight months protecting her son in hell.  Instead her Master Vampire Raven abducts the nurse and takes her underneath the Catacombs night club known for serving fresh blood cocktails.

The final Edie Spence paranormal (see Moonshifted, Nightshifted and Shapeshifted) is an exciting thriller that starts at hyperspeed and never slows down.  For the most part, the bloody exhilarating focus is on the beleaguered heroine’s efforts for her and her son to endure as she envisions the afterward as a family with her son and Asher (mindful of Dr. Viktor E. Frankl’s incredible memoir Man's Search for Meaning). 

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Born Of Fury-Sherrilyn Kenyon

Born Of Fury
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin’s, Jul 1 2014, $25.99
ISBN: 9781250042965

The war between the League and the Sentella Empire forces nonaligned groups to ally with one of the sides or face worse impact as neutrality means annihilation.  League Commander Zemin shows a tape of a prison rescue to top assassin Sumi Antaxas; and insists that one of the perpetrators is Dancer Hauk though the evidence is unclear.  Zemin orders Sumi to find or create proof that Hauk is a traitor or her daughter Kalea, held hostage by him, will suffer the consequences. 

Over the rage of his widow sister-in-law who loathes him for the death of her husband, Hauk takes his nephew Darice on his Endurance test; also with them in the remote area for the same reason is his friend’s daughter Thia.  When Sumi and Hauk meet, she is shocked by his caring nature towards the two young charges he mentors; as she expected a violent barbarian.  As admiration intensifies, Sumi feels torn between the two people she loves as one will be hurt by her choice and she assumes other hit contracts have been issued.

The latest League thriller (see Born Of Ice, Born Of Fire and Born Of Night) is an exciting entry that focuses on the anchoring impact of family (many of whom make unneeded but fascinating appearances) on two emotionally hurting souls.  Readers will quickly accept Sumi as Hauk’s equal while each struggles, perhaps more so mentally than physically (even with injuries), with threats to loved ones.  Fans will appreciate Sherrilyn Kenyon’s terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Hunt For Pierre JNR-David M. Henley

The Hunt For Pierre JNR
David M. Henley
Harper Voyager, Jul 1 2014, $16.99
ISBN: 9780732295608

By the middle of the twenty-second century, a small segment of the twenty billion humans residing inside the domes evolved with extrasensory mental powers.  Derogatorily dubbed psionics by those who feared their superiority will allow dominance if unchecked; the World Union established the Services with a mission to control these dangerous mutants.  The Services aggressively capture, isolate and incarcerate psionics on remote islands in order to inhibit the impact of psi skills and prevent a revolt.

In 2151 an experiment mated registered Psionics Pierre Sandro and Mary Kastonovich; which leads to giving birth to Pierre Jnr.  Three months later, Pierre Jnr escapes and vanishes.  In spite of a massive manhunt by the Services, he is not found and assumed dead as he is a baby even with special kinetic skills never remotely recorded before. 

However, the worst nightmare of those in power surfaces in 2159 when a sighting of eight year old Pierre Jnr is confirmed by the Weave; as the legend of a psi with the uncanny ability to control others’ minds lives.  The Services assigns the best psi hunters of the Primacy military wing abetted by telepath Peter Lazarus who surrendered after three decades of freedom beneath the radar to prevent the most powerful psi ever, who he believed caused his sister to suicide, from killing the world.

The Hunt for Pierre Jnr is a superb science fiction thriller that extrapolates present day issues like the environment and related moral and amoral responses into the next century.  Rapidly changing points of view makes it initially difficult to follow who’s who, but also brings a fabulous frantic desperate pace to this character-driven yet action-packed futuristic thriller.

Harriet Klausner 

The Doppler Affect-Dr. Shawn Phillips

The Doppler Affect
Dr. Shawn Phillips
YBCoyote Press, May 19 2014, $13.99
ISBN: 9780982644607

In North Africa 50,000 years ago, Homo sapiens tribal chief Mulac leads the successful hunting party home only to find those waiting for them all dead.  Raging, they track the vicious killers who murdered their loved ones.  When they catch up, they retaliate massacring all except one female.  Mulac rapes her until she changes into him before killing him and the other men from his tribe.  This Homo erectus female has evolved into shapeshifting Homo adaptus as she gives birth to dozens of babies who within a month have grown to adulthood.  Over the millennium as Homo adaptus changed into different races, they remained concealed from their natural enemy humanity.  DNA testing changed the balance of power forcing the hidden species to deploy a plan to gain power rather than extinction.

In 1990, former banker turned convict Chris Sands learned the horrific truth too late for him to save his soul from the doppelgangers, who brilliantly framed him as he fights to the death in prison.  The Prima Maestra believes her minion found the information the dead Sands compiled about the dopplers, but he left behind a children’s book for his son Michael to hopefully one day in the future understand and save mankind from its diabolical enemy.

The Doppler Affect is a fantastic paranormal thriller that never slows down as the Sands family (and readers) meet different supernatural species.  Although appreciative fans will need to adapt (no pun intended) to the changing timeline; once we do this fast-paced, and filled clever plots and counterplots grips readers throughout.  Dr. Shawn Phillips cleverly deploys the Doppler Effect principle on human sensory reaction to the effect of dopplers residing like wolves in sheep clothing.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Rods And The Axe-Tom Kratman

The Rods And The Axe
Tom Kratman
Baen, Jul 1 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476736563

After leading his adopted country Balboa in victory against the more powerful Tauran Union, Duque of the Legion del Cid Patricio Carrera knows the war is not over even if the enemy was forced to humiliatingly retreat.  He also accepts his side does not have the logistical capability to bring the combat to Tauran and expects the adversary to invade again within two months, but wants it on his terms.  Thus he and former general turned elected President Raul Parilla argue over what to do with the overwhelming number of POWs besides using the uninjured to dig anti-tank trenches.

Carrera believes Tauran will bring an ally with them in the next battle; but he wants to select who.  Based on the theory that “my friend’s enemy is my friend” he angers the Zhong Guo Empress so she deploys her troops as an unreliable ally of the Tauran.  The countdown to the final battle begins with the Zhong knowing they must seize the Isla Real fortress as the first step in their final solution.

With a nod to a premise of Reddington (Black List) that “…and sometimes the enemy of my enemy is just an enemy”, this exciting, action-packed Carrera military science fiction is an entertaining thriller.  In order to fight under his terms and thus reduce the chance of defeat, once again Carrera executes the same general principal he successfully used previously to bait foes; who never learned Einstein’s definition of insanity: “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  Series fans will enjoy this entry while looking forward to the continuation of the latest battle in the next tale.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, July 4, 2014

Shattering the Ley-Joshua Palmatier

Shattering the Ley
Joshua Palmatier
DAW, Jul 1 2014, $25.95
ISBN 9780756409197

The complex ley system is the major source of power for much of the world.  Because the prime ley lines connect in Erenthrall, this city is an energy superpower.  The Prime Wielders control the Nexus, but in turn the Baron owns them and by consequence all the lands linked to this key convergence.  However, the tyrannical abuse of the ley system has caused a schism led by Kormanley priests who plot to destroy the Nexus even knowing that places the innocent way beyond just the city at risk.

As civil war seems imminent and blackouts the norm, Kara Tremain, who became a top gun Wielder when she was twelve years old, enables her to learn the taboo truth about the ley lines magic.  At the same time Baron Dog Alan Garrett in his hunt for the rebellious priests also loathes the unreasonable viciousness of his guard peers towards the innocent and soon learns the Inconvenient Truth re Erenthrall, a city on the brink of mass destruction.

This is a great opening act as Joshua Palmatier creates an intriguing world that deploys magic as the key source of energy.  Using the ideological global warming debate (to include ambitious political deniers and militant willing to die environmentalists) as the starting premise, Shattering the Ley is a strong cautionary fantasy.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Monster Hunter Nemesis-Larry Correia

Monster Hunter Nemesis
Larry Correia
Baen, Jul 1 2014, $25.00
ISBN: 9781476736556

In Vegas, a week and a half has passed since the Top Secret first annual International Conference of Monster Hunting Professionals and the SHOT shooting industry show converged into open combat.  Part of the neon lights urban warfare, rogue Monster Control Bureau Agent Franks cooperates as he explains his invincibility origins to an agent assigned by POTUS to interrogate him.

He explains that alchemist Johann Conrad Dippel created the Elixir of Life that worked well on the dead but not on the living.  When he escaped Dippel’s hell, he made a deal with the Creator to kill the evil but to leave humans alone though he admits to interpreting their contract rather loosely.  Franks further clarifies that he replaced a virginal sacrifice and destroyed the cult but lost an arm to a demon he ultimately pinned to a ship deck until the leviathan destroyed this malevolence.

The fifth MHI urban fantasy (see Monster Hunter Alpha, Monster Hunter International and Monster Hunter Vendetta) is a pleasurable thriller that ties very closely to the recent events in Monster Hunter Legion; so much it behooves the audience to read that tale first.  Although no major threads are climaxed and more seemingly begun, the insight into this enigmatic rogue with his different value system (than that of the majority of humans) is action-packed fun

Harriet Klausner

The Vampire’s Wolf-Jenna Kernan

The Vampire’s Wolf
Jenna Kernan
Harlequin Nocturne, Jul 1 2014, $5.75
ISBN: 9780373885992

In California while on the run from vampires, Leana-Sidhe Feyling Brianna Vittori places her survival hopes with werewolves, a species she never encountered.  Thus she drives into the mountains where the shapeshifters apparently live.  However, vampires reside there too as she learns firsthand when they capture her.

Stationed at the Marine Mountain Training Center, werewolf Captain Travis MacConnelly’s orders are to hunt down vampires.  He rescues the hybrid from the vampires and escorts her to the base; but Mac breaks military protocol when he fails to turn her in.  Instead he protects her while educating her as to who she is and why the vampires want her.  At the same time their attraction grows out of control and her stalking enemies are his adversaries too.

As the Trackers (see Beauty’s Beast, Soul Whisperer, Ghost Stalker and Dream Stalkers) take a breather, Jenna Kernan provides her fans with a fabulous urban (mountain) military romantic fantasy.  The key to the strong storyline is the four prime species (werewolves, fae, vampires and humans) are all realistically deadly; with the heroine possessing a unique way to kill as nobody turns out to be Mother Teresa goodness. 

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Live Bait-Fazio Genovesi;

Live Bait
Fazio Genovesi; Michael F. Moore (translator)
Other Press, Jul 1 2014,
ISBN 9781590516812

Nothing of significance (good or bad) ever happens in the small Tuscan town Muglione.  Teenager Fiorenzo is like all of the young as he struggles with his future though atypical since he had the misfortune of losing a hand in a childhood accident.  Currently he skips school to work at his widowed father’s bait shop and to sing with his band Metal Devastation.  

Nineteen years old Fiorenzo meets thirtyish beautiful, brilliant and bored Tiziana, who runs the local youth center.  The teen and the older woman appear as opposites, yet they connect because in each other they find an honest soul seeking to escape ennui.

Live Bait is an engaging look at contemporary Italian youth with Fiorenzo representing every teen facing seemingly no future, surviving a boring past and dealing with a nothing present.  By being the exception to what the rest of the young masses confront, a top level teenage cyclist emphasizes this hopeless phenomenon.  Leisurely-paced and at times slow, readers will enjoy a glimpse of life in Italy for the millenniums.

Harriet Klausner

Elisha Magus-E.C. Ambrose

Elisha Magus

E.C. Ambrose

DAW, Jul 1 2014, $24.95

ISBN: 9780756409265


In fourteenth century England, Elisha Barber has become the most feared magus in the kingdom after he committed regicide using magic (see Elisha Barber); the aristocrats and other powerful entities either want his support or his death.  Currently the Duke Randall, whose wife is a mage, gives Elisha shelter.  In spite of Prince Alaric’s affront to his daughter Rosalynn by choosing Brigit the mage to be his bride, Randall supports him to replace the late King Hugh as the next ruler before the French invade what they perceive a weak neighbor. 


After a dance with Rosalynn, Elisha is asked by the duke to marry his daughter.  The commoner says no, but agrees to escort her to a convent, which also will enable him to try to retrieve the talisman Brigit took from him.  Before he leaves, Elisha is unable to prevent the murder of a French mage in which Barber was the intended target.  On what proves to be a dangerous trek with enemies everywhere, Elisha rescues a strange female and befriends Alaric’s outlawed brother Prince Thomas the traitor.


The second Dark Apostle medieval fantasy is an exciting fourteenth century thriller due to a terrific ethical hero trying to save lives, but considered dangerous and heretical for his medical practices and for slaying the king.  The key to this strong saga is the grim English background that makes the magic and its classes of practitioners seem genuine while also containing a flicker of enlightenment when compared to the implications of the Papal-French monarchy pact.  E.C. Ambrose provides another powerful extremely dark historical fantasy with a great final spin.


Harriet Klausner

City Of Stairs--Robert Jackson Bennett

City Of Stairs
Robert Jackson Bennett
Broadway Books, Sep 9 2014, $15.00
ISBN: 9780804137171

Bulikov the Divine City was once the central sacred seat of power as a brutal military abetted by violent deities conquered and viciously oppressed millions.  However that is the past; in the present its former colony Saypur replaced Bulikov as the superpower and adding insult to how far the change in fortunes have occurred, the once oppressed nation relies on the miracle of technology governing its past conquerors.

Ashara’s great-grandfather, as the Kaj of Saypur, led a successful revolt against the ironfisted Bulikov tyrants.  When he killed the Divinities that made Bulikov the greatest nation, the Kaj freed his people and those of other lands.  However, an unintended consequence left power vacuums throughout the lands leading to open conflict within and without as the tyrannical control of Bulikov had kept everyone in line.  Currently Shara the espionage agent investigates the assassination of Saypuri professor Dr. Pangyui apparently for studying the once Divine City’s inglorious past, a tabooed topic.  Instead with help from her assistant and her ex-lover, Shara begins to find the unthinkable evidence that some of the Divinities survived the onslaught and live in hiding waiting for the moment to regain their version of paradise lost.

City of Stairs is an exciting fantasy noir in which readers will feel transported to Bulikov.  The storyline starts slow as the Bennett world comes into complex focus, but once Shara's inquiry takes shape by ironically spinning out of control into a wider thriller, the storyline also accelerates.  With a deep philosophical look at unintended consequences and second order effects of moral causes (think of Iraq and Yugoslavia), Mr. Bennett’s opening epic is an insightful complex (and convoluted) tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hope Renewed-David Drake and S.M. Stirling

Hope Renewed
David Drake and S.M. Stirling
Baen, Jul 1 2014, $14.00
ISBN 9781476736587

“The Sword.”  On planet Bellevue, Raj Whitehall visits the Center battle computer to discuss recent events (see The Forge) with his friend Thom Poplanich, who temporary is revived from stasis.  Raj and his wife Suzette fear that his military victories leave him at great risk from either public execution or assassins working for Civic Government Governor Barholm Clerett, whose late wife Anne was Whitehall’s greatest supporter.  Chancellor Robert Tzetzas has begun the process of destroying the top general.  Everything changes when the Colony led by Ali the Settler and Tewfik invades land with a strong force that quickly takes Gurnyca.  To his disbelief, Barholm learns the tribute to the Colony has been underfunded and his troops unprepared for combat; both due to the corrupt Chancellor.  Raj agrees to lead a counter force to defend Sandoral knowing he will be outnumbered 3:1.

“The Chosen.”  Once a highly regarded general, Raj Whitehall’s essence has merged with the Center battle computer as they work in consort to achieve the goal of a Federation-like renaissance by duplicating themselves to deploy on other planets.  They recruit youthful Santanders John Hosten and Jeffrey Farr to counter what is happening on Visager.

This omnibus reprint contains books 5 and 6 of the exciting General military science fiction thriller (see Hope Reborn for 1 and 2, and Hope Returned for 3 and 4).  Though there is a déjà vu feel to the Sword, this is a terrific climax to the Raj as field general saga.  The Chosen is a supernova change to the series that once the audience adjusts turns into an entertaining military outer space epic.

Harriet Klausner