Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Few Reviews

Not too much going on right now. Here are some more reviews from Harriet. Got an email from Parke Godwin. He has started on the third volume in his Galactic Bus series. The main characters are Barion and Coyul - brothers who helped seed the Earth millions of years ago. It would be nice to see a re-issue of the first two volumes.

Second Skin, Caitlin Kittridge, St. Martin’s, Mar 3 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 031294831X, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Although Nocturne City werewolf police officer Luna Wilder has been transferred to SWAT to allegedly better use her aggressive behavior, her former partner in homicide Detective David Bryson pleads with her to assist him on a weird case. He is investigating the execution style deaths of four weres from the oldest most powerful packs.

Luna quickly finds a link to the legendary Wendigo shapeshifters who drink the blood of their victims. Neither she nor the coroner is prepared for the four dead weres to reanimate into something deadlier. Luna survives their assault, but knows her unknown adversary is becoming increasingly powerful and soon will be invincible; what she also does not know is that their leader, Lucas, has special plans for her.

The latest Nocturne City police procedural fantasy (see NIGHT LIFE and PURE BLOOD) is an exiting homicide investigation in which the legend proves lethally real. The brass still thinks Luna is a lunatic with her obstinate independence, but also knows she gets results. However, this time failure may prove even worse than death as Lucas has chosen Luna for a chosen role in his Wendigo pack. Fans will relish this action-packed thriller from the opening execution to the final graveyard visit.

Look Again, Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin’s, Apr 14 2009, $26.95, ISBN: 0312380720, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Since she laid eyes on him when he was only a year old, Ellen Gleason fell in love with the baby. The infant’s mother did not want him and could not pay his bills; his father signed away his “parental” rights. Ellen adopted him changing his name to Will. They are happy together until she receives a flyer for missing children; one of them is Tim Braverman who was accidentally abducted during a car-jacking. The computer age processing of the picture is an exact likeness of her Will.

The more the picture haunts her the more she wonders if her Will is Tim. Unable to resist, Ellen makes inquiries only to learn the woman who facilitated the adoption committed suicide. Persistent, she still gets the adoption records where she learns the name of the mother. Ellen tracks her family down, but they do not know where Amy is. Still unable to ignore the picture, she obtains DNA of the mother and father of Tim to determine whether they are her Will’s biological parents. If yes, she considers then what.

Lisa Scottoline has written a well crafted absorbing drama that will appeal to fans of Jodi Picoult. Ellen is a brave person who refuses to let sleeping dogs lie regardless of the cost of losing her beloved son as she goes to extraordinary measures to learn the truth. Her efforts have unintended consequences as she places herself and her child in danger from someone who wants the truth to remain buried. Although that suspense adds suspense and tension, it detracts from a strong family drama starring a woman who fears what the truth will bring, but needs to know.

Loitering with Intent, Stuart Woods, Putnam, Apr 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 9780399155789, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

After being publicly dumped by his girlfriend at Elaine’s in NYC, Stone Barrington, attorney at large for a big firm, is delighted with an assignment that takes him out of the Big Apple. He heads to Key West to obtain the signature of Evan Keating on a document that will enable his father Warren to sell the family business; Evan will receive twenty million. Accompanying Stone to Florida is his friend NYPD Captain Dino Bachetti.

When they arrive at the Conch Republic they have a difficult time finding Evan. When Stone finally corners the elusive man, someone hits him on the head knocking out the visiting New Yorker. A beautiful Swedish doctor helps Stone’s two heads recover; he is drained and happy when he meets up with Evan again. However, Stone learns Evan is getting a tiny percentage of the worth of the business and that his father committed his paternal grandfather to an institution to get him out of the way. A hit on Evan fails, but someone else is killed. Father and son are in danger through events set in motion by the father. Stone and Dino protect Evan while hoping to bring the killers out into the open.

Stuart Woods has written another exciting Stone thriller filled with plenty of action on top of more action. Evan is naively innocent so people take advantage of him including the go between, the hit men and his father. Putting aside the heady doctor tryst that is an enjoyable and funny sidebar, Stone is at his sardonic best as he keeps LOITERING WITH INTENT focused on Key West.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Took it easy today. Both Kathy and I are doing better. I did get the latest issue of Baryon out via email. If you want a copy, email me at baryon@bellsouth.net.

Here are some more reviews by Harriet. I should get some done next week.

Dead After Dark, Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, Susan Squires and Dianna Love, St. Martin's, Dec 2008, $7.99, ISBN: 9780312947989, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

"Shadow of the Moon" by Sherrilyn Kenyon - In New Orleans, vowing to keep his clan safe, Fury seeks the adversary who assaulted a werewolf. Vowing to keep her people safe, Angelia knows her people are under siege by the furious werewolf; she hunts him. Neither expected what happened between them.

“The Story of Son” by J.R. Ward - In Caldwell, New York drinking Earl Grey while on a business visit to her nonagenarian wealthy client, attorney Claire is taken aback when the elderly woman says her Son will like her. The tea was drugged and when she regains consciousness, Claire is incarcerated with Michael the “Son”.

"Beyond the Night" by Susan Squires - Fifteen years ago, Drew Carlowe was accused of theft; he swore he did not do it, but no one believed him. Now he is finally home with the goal of regaining the love of the one person he missed. He buys the allegedly haunted Ashland where he finds himself desiring the occupant Freya the “ghost” who haunts his home and his heart while possessing his body.

"Midnight Kiss Goodbye" by Dianna Love - As a VIPER, Belador warrior Trey protects humanity from evil. His current assignment is to keep human witch Sasha safe while they go after a malevolent warlord, but he wonders who will protect her from his attraction for her as his control when it comes to her bewitching him has slipped.

These are four exciting romantic fantasies starring lead characters that bewitch the audience while making the respective “worlds” seem genuine; fans of the Dark Hunter and the Companion sagas have an added treat.

Dancing on the Head of a Pin, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Roc, Apr 2009, $14.00, ISBN: 0451462513, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

It was Paradise until the Morningstar let pride and jealousy turned him away from the Creator. He and his allies went to war against those loyal to the Lord. Angel fought angel until Heaven was filled with the dead. Although Archangel Remiel of the host of the Seraphim fought on the winning side against Lucifer and his rebels, he witnessed the atrocities that his squad of angels committed in the name of the Father. He left Heaven in disgust and came to earth where he hid his angelic side to live amidst humans and even loved a human. It has been a few months since his beloved wife died and the grieving Remy Chandler, as he calls himself, finally returns to the life of a twenty-first century Boston private investigator.

Alfred Karnighan hires Remy to find some ancient weapons; artifacts stolen from his collection, which is secured by a thick steal door in his basement. The Fallen want the weapons as does the Nomads, angels allegedly inspired by Remy who left Paradise after he did. They are neutrals who come and go between heaven, hell and earth have a grand plan to use these weapons. To prevent a second tragic war, Remy casts off his human cloak returning to the warrior archangel Remiel goes along with a Fallen and a Repentant angel hoping to go home one day if forgiven, into hell.

The allegorical title referring to medieval philosophy aside, DANCING ON THE HEAD OF A PIN is a powerful urban fantasy starring a hero who knows heaven’s occupants were changed by the war; so he wants no part of the new heaven (see A KISS BEFORE THE APOCALYPSE). Still when it matters, Remiel’s gut loyalty to the Creator leads him to defend heaven as he loathes the Fallen especially Lucifer whom he holds culpable for Paradise Lost. Readers will feel for Remy and pray he finds redemption and happiness amidst the humans he admires.

Animal Attraction, Charlene Teglia, St. Martin’s, Mar 2009, $13.95, ISBN: 0312537417, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

In spite of being caught by surprise at a Tysons Corner, Virginia mall where she works as she initially thought Zach the customer and the trio were enemy gangbusters; Chandra Walker adapts well to being a werewolf. However, she does not acclimatize herself to the ritual of her new pack. She must test each male in bed and select her mate. Whomever she chooses wilt become pack leader.

Thirteen studs and little to choose between them as all are hot, built and incredible sex machines. Struggling with whom to choose, the pack comes under attack from an unholy alliance between rogue werewolves and were-panthers. Only Chandra with the right mate can save the pack.

This is an interesting heated urban romantic fantasy based on an intriguing premise that a tyro female werewolf must test thirteen hunks to determine who is her soul mate and rightful pack leader at a time when their clan is under siege. The key to the entertaining story line is the chosen female as Chandra has abandonment issues and is used to going it alone, but now has to adjust to a pack of virile males wanting her and needing to protect her like a queen. Fans will relish this fine version of sexual Survivor as time is running out on Chandra and her retinue.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Kathy and I are still taking all manner of pills and breathing treatments to try and knock out the bugs in our systems. Maybe things will work out this weekend.

They are predicting some really bad weather, but hopefully it won't be too rough here.

I'll have Baryon 111 ready to mail this week. Send me your email address if you would like to receive a copy. Contact me at barry@baryon-online.com.

Here are some more reviews by Harriet.

Undead on Arrival, L.A. Banks, St. Martin’s, Mar 31 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 0312949138, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

The United Council of Entities exiled the vampires from their position of power and brokered a peace between the Weres who change only at the full moon and the Shadow clans who change at will. US Military squad leader of the Paranormal Containment Unit shadow wolf Sasha Trudeau, her team, and her mate Max Hunter were involved at the conference, but Hunter is now in a bad way and it seems the pair is heading for an unhappy ending as Max is demon infested and a double dose of anti-toxins is not working.

Any moment he can turn violent and eat humans. Shadow wolves are supposed to have a natural immunity to the demonization, but his antibody system is failing to produce the antitoxin. Afraid to make love and even more fearful of hurting his beloved, Max disappears. Soon afterward, a human is found half eaten with the evidence pointing to Max as the killer. Sasha refuses to believe that her Max would kill, but her efforts to prove otherwise are thwarted by other wolves.

UNDEAD ON ARRIVAL is L.A. Banks at her best, which is claiming a lot as the author’s urban fantasies are always exciting and refreshingly unique. The story line continues to build up on Crimson Moon world (see BITE THE BULLET and BAD BLOOD) especially the political intrigue and backstabbing within and between species. Although the plot is somewhat more complex than usual, fans will enjoy the character driven entry as lethal mysteries abound throughout.

Keeper of Light and Dust, Natasha Mostert, Dutton, Apr 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 9780525951001, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Like her mother and grandmother before her, Mia Lockheart is a Keeper; a person who uses Chi life energy to heal and protect others. She also knows that practitioners of the Book of Life and Death can drain the Chi from a victim. In her case only South London fighters belong to her keep, but she makes them safe just before they enter the ring. One of her fighters failed to tell her he was entering the ring; he died from unknown causes a few days after his bout.

A fighter Nick Duffy is someone Mia could easily love, so she has not marked him as hers. When she asks him about her fighter who died, Patrick mentions other battlers have also died in the same way in the past five years. Patrick hires Adrian Ashton as his trainer for a championship match. Adrian gets his new fighter prepared, but hides his real agenda from Patrick. Mia knows what it is and plans to stop him anyway she can, but can you stop someone who does not comes out of the shadows to reveal what he truly is.

Natasha Mostert has written an enthralling supernatural thriller that combines science, metaphysics, and Asian martial arts to forge a system that can either heal or kill. Mia is a strong woman who comes a from a long line of strong women; she is a warrior and healer. Adrian is the enigma who brings the freshness to the tale as Mia wonders if her attraction to him is because he may be her yang even as she is falling in love with Nick. KEEPER OF LIGHT AND DUST is a magical metaphysical Mostert masterpiece.

Blood Magic, Jennifer Lyon, Ballantine, Mar 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 9780345506344, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Funeral director Darcy MacAlister finds arranging her beloved mom’s funeral is a catharsis of sorts although hearing some speak of the deceased as if she was evil bothers her enough that her Special Forces cousin Joe notices and tells her to ignore the fools. At about the same time that she buries her mom, witch hunter Wing Slayer Hunter leader Axel Locke is worried that his sister Hannah has been attacked by a death curse. He knows only two ways to save her: either the curse is lifted or a witch must die. Axel knows if he kills an innocent witch his soul will burn, but those witches who broke their sacred vow to protect humans from demons by switching sides are another matter as their former guardians like him are obsessed with killing the traitors.

Axel abducts a terrified Darcy whom he recognizes as an earth witch. He hopes to gain her cooperation by having her lift the spell. However though she commiserates with Hannah's dilemma, she never knew that witch blood flowed in her veins. Time is running out although she agrees to try to break the curse.

This is a fabulous opening act of a wonderful urban romantic fantasy starring two intriguing protagonists with an unwanted attraction pushing them towards each other and a blood curse pulling them apart. The story line is fast-paced, but owned by the lead pair as they “naturally” squabble while struggling to save his sibling. Jennifer Lyon bewitches sub-genre fans with this terrific thriller.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Rough Day

Not feeling well. Bad respiratory bug has caught up with me. Kathy seems to have pneumonia again and will be out of work til Monday.

Here are a few reviews from Harriet to tide you over for today.

Ultimatum, Matthew Glass, Atlantic Monthly (Grove), Apr 2009, $24.00, ISBN: 0802118887, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

In a short period of time the world can change and not for the better as 9/11 proved. By 2033, carbon emissions have ruined the environment while sea levels have risen at catastrophic rates leading to mass evacuations of people from what were once coastlines. The Florida Peninsular is going underwater with Miami on the verge of becoming a modern day Atlantis. The newly elected President Joe Benton plans to build an infrastructure so those displaced don’t fall into abject poverty and consequently take others down with them; the massive relocation will be destructive enough.

When Benton meets with the incumbent POTUS (President of the US) he learns that secret climate change talks with China produced nada. Benton knows an arrangement between the superpowers is critical to save the world. He is determined to partner with China, who has displaced America as the top polluter, in finding a global solution. China remains obstinate and uncooperative; reneging every time it appears a deal is set. Benton’s advisors tell him the Chinese will never sign a treaty, but the resolute president tries something new that he believes they want as he knows humanity is at stake even as the obstinate Chinese leaders demand more as if extinction is impossible with their population.

Joe Benton is a good person trying to be a good president after a dozen years of Republican denial behind the no tax and no negativity to the economy even as the ocean was coming ashore. Thus China assumes he is just another status quo buy American first. This cautionary tale is fast-paced with a frenzy of desperation to Benton’s efforts to turn around the environment before we reach the point of no return of humans becoming the twenty-first century dinosaurs. Although the ending feels required and rants about failed governments and media to take the environment issue seriously feel intrusive, Matthew Glass provides a deep look at what a world leader who strongly wants to make change must overcome the legacy of his or her predecessors.

Darling Jim, Christian Moerk, Henry Holt, Apr 2009, $25.00, ISBN: 0805089470, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

In Malahide, Ireland, mail carrier Desmond arrives at a house to deliver letters. The kids claim the place is haunted. When no one responds to his knock, he takes a peak inside out of curiosity only to see a corpse. The police arrive to find the murdered bodies of an aunt and her two nieces.

The case remains cold although the townsfolk believe Desmond killed the three women as he has acted strange since finding the first body. Soon afterward Niall finds the diary of one of the dead sisters, Fiona. He reads about a traveling storyteller DARLING JIM who based on the entries entranced the three females. Unable to resist, Niall follows up the diary’s voice claiming seducer’s victims seeking to learn more about the women, their seducer Jim and a strange commentary in the journal about a wolf-prince leaving behind dead women.

This is a well written strange thriller that has the audience debating throughout whether DARLING JIM is an old fashion horror tale, a psychological suspense, or a serial killer gothic thriller. Keeping readers slightly off their contentment zone, Christian Moerk uses three subplots that intermingle; all are well written enabling the audience to understand what motivated the three dead women (especially the diary writer) and how they perceive their DARLING JIM, and what induced Niall to investigate. Fans who relish something different but very entertaining will enjoy this strong suspense thriller.

Dragon's Luck, Robert Asprin, Ace, Apr 2009, $15.00, ISBN: 9780441016808, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Siblings Griffen and Valerie McCandles were raised as humans unaware that they were the offspring of two half-dragons until their unique powers started to manifest. Dragons are a selfish species with a need to accrue more power, which makes them ruthless and avaricious. Griffen is different perhaps an anecdotal proof of nurturing over naturing, but he is only interested in running the gambling empire his mentor turned over to him. A George, a mercenary who kills dragons for a fee, is impressed with Griffen, who is learning to use his new skills. West Coast dragon Flynn watches the New Orleans based Griffen with a close eye trying to ascertain whether this new hybrid is a threat to him or will he be an asset if he decides to bring him into his organization. His lover Mei also keeps a close surveillance on Griffen because her Asian dragon cartel has their eye on him.

Griffen is content with his lot and cares about his friends including the ghost of the former Voodoo high priestess Rose. She asks him to host the Conclave where the various supernatural groups are coming to town to talk and have fun. Griffen agrees to be the moderator for the Conclave. His prime function is to keep the diverse parties from brawling with each other. However, when one of the conventioneers is murdered, someone insures Griffen looks like the culprit. Out of respect for their host and to keep the human police from meddling in supernatural species affair, the Conclave search for the killer.

Because Griffen is atypical of the dragon species, he has many diverse supernatural friends who come through for him when he is framed. That paranormal support cast is three dimensional with the various groups containing radically different overarching personalities; while within a group multiplicity exists just not as lucid. The whodunit is fun sort of a paranormal version of Fritz Lang’s M with the supernatural hunting the killer instead of the criminals.

Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris, Ace, May 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 9780441017157, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Telepath Sookie Stackhouse works as a waitress at Merlotte’s Diner in Bon Temps, Louisiana. When Japanese scientists invented synthetic blood, vampires came out of the coffins and introduced themselves over TV. Although the new world needs some getting used to and help groups form, life for the most part have somewhat settled down as people realize vampires have been part of the assimilated population for centuries. It is now the shapeshifters turn to come out into the open.

However, some humans react violently towards the news. The owner of Merlotte’s stepdaughter almost kills her mother. Female shifter is crucified in Merlotte’s parking lot; she is the estranged wife of Sookie’s brother. Sookie’s great grandfather Niall is at war with an enemy who wants to kill and Sookie is sought by his adversaries as a potential hostage; several attempts to either abduct or kill her occur. Having a brother who is a were-panther means he will protect her but Sookie underestimates the threat to her and her loved ones by an ancient evil species more powerful than weres, vamps and humans combined.

True Blood is the TV show based on the Sookie novels and like this tale and previous entries are great urban fantasies. With all the different species surfacing who previously were assumed to be myths, Sookie and one other person are the only known telepaths in the United States. Although a bit less action oriented than other books in the series, Readers get to know the characters better and Sookie finally has some romance in her life. Charlaine Harris is one of the best urban fantasy world builders writing today.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sherlock Holmes

I don't know about most of you, but I enjoy reading books about and watching Sherlock Holmes movies. It's always interesting to try and outsmart him and figure out what's going on before he does. It's easier in the movies, but the books still keep me guessing.

This time we add a new writer to the Holmesian Canon and hopefully will interest you in getting a copy of the book.

Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson

Lyndsay Faye, Simon & Schuster, Apr 2009, $25.00, ISBN: 1416583300

In 1888 London is shocked by the brutal murders of two prostitutes in the East End. Inspector Lestrade knows this is no run of the mill killer and he will need help. He asks renowned private sleuth Sherlock Holmes to investigate the homicides. Already fascinated by the accounts Holmes welcomes the case.

As Holmes and his sidekick Dr. Watson investigate, more vicious murders occur by the same killer whom the media dubs Ripper for his brutality. In an ironic twist one reporter claims Holmes is the Ripper, which is why he insists the famous detective has failed to end the reign of terror.

Holmes fans will welcome Lyndsay Faye to Baker Street as her Watson comes across as a winner telling readers the tale of Holmes and Ripper. Fans will enjoy the great detective’s efforts even as the press badgers him to solve the case; which ironically readers do earlier than the sleuth does. Although Homes and Ripper co-starring has been used before by Carole Nelson Douglas (in her Irene Adler series) and Michael Dibdin in THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES STORY, etc. Ms. Faye provides a fresh entry.

Deadlock, Iris Johansen, St. Martin’s, Apr 2009, $26.95, ISBN: 0312368119

She goes to the hot spots of the world under the aegis of the United Nations to find the country’s historical treasures and bring them out; she returns them when hostilities cease. Currently archeologist Emily Hudson is in Afghanistan seeking artifacts in a remote hard to get to village in the shadow of Hindu Kush. She and her best friend and associate Joel Levy find nothing worth saving, but as they depart they find two of their crewmembers dead.

Joel and Emily are taken hostage by a deadly mercenary Staunton who has killed the rest of her team. He and his associates seek Zeliv’s Hammer and rejects Emily’s claim she never saw anything remotely like what he describes. Staunton tortures Joel until he dies; the terrorist expected Emily to break and provide him the answer he demands of her, but she remains in denial.

Meanwhile her disappearance has led to an international media tsunami. CIA Administrator Ferguson blackmails freelance operative John Garret to find and rescue Emily. He arrives in time to prevent her from being raped and brings her to his haven to recuperate. However, as she heals Emily knows she has one last mission to kill Staunton, but the malevolent monster has his own plan to recapture his meal ticket starting with killing a friend of Garrett that personalizes their battle as far as the American agent is concerned.

Iris Johanson novels denote bestseller and her exhilarating over the top of the Pamir Mountains is another sure shot. The story line is filled with action but it is the strong cast and the geography that make DEADLOCK a stunning thriller. The support characters add depth with two strong enough for their own tales. Garret and Emily are drawn to one another but before they can explore their attraction, they must deal with Staunton and his unmerciful mercenary horde.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Strange Mysteries

Two new reviews by me this time. One is the anthology of mystery stories that includes one of mine. The other is a novel by an old friend.

Give them a try.

STRANGE MYSTERIES, edited by Jean Goldstrom, Whortleberry Press, $14.75, 268 pages, ISBN: 5800028182673, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Whortleberry is a small press that does a few books each year and is a good place for newer writers to get their start. Most of their books are available electronically and a few of them are available in print through lulu.com.

This volume is aptly titled as there are assorted mysteries and many of them are on the more unusual side. Rob Rosen tells of a future where the “Vampires on Acid” stalk unusual victims. Michael H. Hansen presents the “Locked Room Mystery” with a twist. Arthur Sanchez has a psychic finding out the truth behind “The Two Madame Lees”. Jack Hillman has a hiker making his “Anniversary Visit” to the place he proposed. Gary A. Markette has a story of a mummy and a film crew in “How Dry I Am”.

Other stories contain a Neanderthal detective, homeland terrorists, Asimov’s three laws, collectible dolls, and private eyes. This volume also includes a story by me at no additional cost.

There are a total of twenty six very enjoyable stories in this volume. There’s something for every taste and you may discover a new name or two to add to your reading list. Order from www.whortleberrypress.com.

USURPER, Patrick Welch, TwilightTimesBooks.com, $4.95, 100 pages, April, 2009, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Gerard Toombs, Graveyard to his friends, is a psychic investigator and his latest case is to prove that Jason Carruthers did not commit suicide where his wife can collect on his insurance policy. The police consider it an open and shut case of suicide, but Toombs must prove otherwise as the body was buried with its’ soul missing.

Toombs contacts his friend, Miika – who runs an astrology service and is also psychic. When she is unable to locate Carruthers soul, they both realize something is very wrong. Miika seeks help from the Sisterhood of Twilight and obtains some information to help Toombs follow up on his investigation.

The USURPER is able to take over a person’s soul long enough for them to have an “accident” in order to complete his mission. There is an interesting governmental subplot that adds to the story and will the conspiracy theorists chomping at the bit to follow up on.

Welch has written a contemporary novel that fits in with the current political scene as well as the paranormal. He, again, has interesting characters and a well written story to entertain his audience. He has other books available. Give him a try and add him to your list of must read authors.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

New Stephen King Book

The next Stephen King book is available for pre-order. It will be available on November10, 2009 and is called UNDER THE DOME. It will be a horror novel in the vein of THE MIST. I've heard it runs about 1100 pages. List price is $35, but is available on Amazon for $23.10. If you wish to pre-order, please use the link to Amazon on my website, www.baryon-online.com.

Only one review today from Harriet. The book reviewed was recommended by Parke Godwin. Parke's an old friend and marvelous fantasy/science fiction writer on his own, so if he recommends a book - it's a good one.

Hope everyone has a pleasant weekend.

Richard Parks
Five Stars, Sep 2008, $25.95
ISBN: 1594147043

He is thought to be a demon, a dark magician - a sorcerer who practices the blood arts, but the truth is both much simpler and much more complex than the rumors. Tymon the Black has what is called THE LONG LOOK as he can see future tragedies with the knowledge some can be changed, even prevented; he works to do so. One of his Long Looks makes him kidnap the Ashesa, the princess of Morushe, whose future husband he must lure him to Tymon so he can kill him and prevent a war. Instead the princess appeals to him to let the prince live. He heeds her request leading to letting her to see her future husband will plunge them into war. She ends up killing him.

The dark prince’s brother Galen wants to marry Ashesa because he loves her; she agrees to their state marriage. Galen’s enemies are planning to kill him and place a puppet on the throne. While Tymon sees their plot, an advisor to Duke Laras wants to push his lord into claiming the throne as he has a legitimate argument that he should be the ruler. Galen in a quest for revenge and brings something dark and evil into the realm to destroy Tymon. However he loses control of the darkness. Tymon is capable of saving the world by dying and his various enemies are planning to do just that in a confrontation at the Black Pits.

Tymon is eyed as a vile villain, but ignores the monster label to do what he believes is right to include killing someone in order to prevent a greater catastrophe (mindful of the Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever”). He hates killing, but knows he must do what it takes for what he perceives is the greater good. Richard Parks has written a fascinating fantasy with a deep morality question of when is it okay to kill an innocent and then there is the question of the time paradox in which changing the future with one death may lead to unforeseen consequences worse than what you prevented as the hero learns to his dismay.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Publishing news

STRANGE MYSTERIES edited by Jean Goldstrom is available from whortleberrypress.com. It has 26 stories, including one by yours truly, and is the first mystery story I've written. As soon as my copies arrive, I'll pass along more details.

Here are some more reviews from Harriet. The first one is a new book by Jody Lynn Nye who is an old friend and a terrific fantasy writer.

A Forthcoming Wizard, Jody Lynn Nye, Tor, Apr 2009, $27.95, ISBN: 9780765314345

After the events that occurred in AN UNEXPECTED APPRENTICE, smallfolk Tildi Summerbee possesses the Great Book. She knows the responsibly is awe-inspiring as the guardian of the tome that includes the Runes that control the Runes of every living thing or object; a species can be extinct with a simple written deletion. Tildi vows to keep the sacred icon safe while the Knights of the Word vow to keep the guardian from escaping their surveillance of her.

However though Tildi understands she holds something incredibly powerful, she remains ignorant of the awesome supremacy of the Great Book until a knight dies while trying to alter his individual Rune. Tildi’s so-called protector Abbess Sharhava wants to take the Great Book from her to bring to her order’s scriptorium while Knemet the Maker has other plans for using the tome; their motives vary as does their means, but both plan to take the Great Book from Tildi in some way. Although frightened with her responsibility and filled with doubts that a halfling smallfolk like her can do the job, Tildi surrounded by a loyal protective circle of friends especially Rin the centaur and her former mentor Serafina the wizard, refuses to yield the tome to anyone; instead she keeps the Great Book under her control to insure it is used with moral principles and not to further someone’s corrupt affluence.

Although this engaging fantasy takes a bit long to get past the introduction to Tildi’s new world order, A FORTHCOMING WIZARD is a fascinating thriller. Once the stage is set, the story line accelerates into a fast-paced read. Tildi remains the center holding the plot together as she has come a long way from her days disguised as her late brother serving as AN UNEXPECTED APPRENTICE to Serafina. Fans with some patience will appreciate Jody Lynn Nye’s second Great Book saga.

Dream Warrior, Sherrilyn Kenyon, St. Martin’s, Feb 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 0312938837

Angry Zeus punishes the lesser god Cratus for refusing a direct order. Cratus refused to murder a hybrid infant as Zeus demanded he do and expected of the offspring of Warcraft and Hate. His indiscretion led to the removal of his power and torture for several millennia. Cratus, known as Jericho, is consumed with rage and vows vengeance.

The baby he saved grows up to be Delphine, a half-human/Dream-Hunter. When two sibling original gods, Noir and Azura begin their plan to dominate the universe, Zeus needs help to stop them. He sends Delphine to bring Jericho back home because he figures they are connected by the once go saving her life. However Azura captures Delphine and bestows the half-breed as a gift to Jericho to ally him on their side or at worst stay neutral.

Although the plot is a bit thinner than the usual Dream-Hunter fantasy thriller, fans of the Sherrilyn Kenyan incredible saga will enjoy DREAM WARRIOR. Delphine is a fascinating heroine struggling to keep humanity safe when they sleep, but now deals with betrayal. She knows her only hope resides with the enigmatic brooding Cratus who saved her life when she was born and whom she needs even more so now if that is possible. Fans will enjoy their tale.

Plea of Insanity, Jilliane Hoffman, Vanguard, Apr 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 1593155077

In Miami twenty-eight year old Miami assistant state attorney Julia Vacanti leads the prosecution team in the highly visible homicide case of surgeon David Marquette. The doctor stands trial in the stabbing deaths of his wife and their two older children, and in the smothering thing of their baby. The defense team admits he killed his family, but plea insanity due to schizophrenia.

While the prosecution tries to prove Marquette knew right from wrong and is just faking a mental illness to elude the death penalty, Julia thinks of her sibling Andrew Citro, who when she was a preadolescent and he a teen was convicted of killing their parents. He remains locked away in an asylum for the criminally insane in New York. Feeling the cases are similar although the prosecutor also ponders if Marquette is a clever serial killer who committed homicides long before his mass murder of his family, Julia contacts Andrew for the first time since he killed their parents.

This excellent legal thriller focuses on the title subject, but does so with a fabulous creative twist as the heroine wonders if schizophrenia is genetic. The gripping courtroom scenes are top rate, but it is the communication between the siblings for the first time in over a decade and a half that grabs the audience. The former brings legal tension and insight into the trial process; but the latter brings greater tension and insight into the fears of Julia. Jilliane Hoffman provides an excellent character driven tale with a profound look at a PLEA OF INSANITY.

The Venetian Judgment, David Stone, Putnam, Apr 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 0399155732

In Venice, CIA "cleaner" Micah Dalton vows to kill the Serbian Mafioso who murdered his lover Cora Vasari. When an opportunity arises to assassinate one of the gangsters, Micah takes it as he focuses on Mirko Belajic, a peripheral player in the death of his beloved.

In London the CIA brass fears a well placed mole has killed elderly Mildred Durant, an adviser to the NSA decryption Glass Cutters team. The agency knows of Micah’s Cold War decoding experience and that the Soviets had going back to Stalin and probably still have an inside source. They draft Dalton to uncover the identity of the current traitor who killed Durant in her home.

The third Dalton espionage thriller (see THE ECHELON VENDETTA and THE ORPHEUS DECEPTION) is an exciting action-packed tale from the opening sequence in Venice where the hero is cleaning up the Serbian mob that killed his beloved and takes off from there. The story line is fast-paced as Dalton and his CIA partner travel to Istanbul and Florida in search of the traitor. Although his partner is a stereotype of the sub-genre, fans will enjoy Dalton’s latest tale, which contains an intriguing historical twist back to the FDR Administration.

The latest from Harriet

Here are a few more reviews from Harriet Klausner. Harriet is rated the number one reviewer by Amazon.com and several other book sites. I’m honored that Harriet shares her work with me. She reads from every genre and reads at least two books a day.

I want to thank everyone for reading and I’ll be adding updates as often as I can. If you see something you like, there’s a “comment” link at the bottom and I look forward to reading them.

Tuck, Stephen Lawhead, Thomas Nelson, Feb 2009, $26.99, ISBN: 9781595540874

In the late eleventh century they fled to the forests of the March from the invaders who routed Rhi Bran y Hud and his loyal Grellen fighters from their home Elfael; William the Conqueror gave their land to Abbot Hugo. Although the forest outlaws have become a powerful force due to their skill with the longbow inside the dense forest, they know they are losing the war outside the March. Hugo accompanied by traitorous Guy of Gysburne and their ferocious Ffreinc barbarians assault Bran’s subjects with a brutality never seen before as women and children are expendable to this ruthless horde.

Robin and the Grellen feel helpless while their loved ones are being butchered. They know they must confront a much more powerful enemy not as outlaws hiding behind trees in the forest, but as a freedom fighting force. Bran has strong allies like Will Scarlet the forester, Angharad the seer, Merian the warrior and especially the diabolical Friar Tuck. Leaving Will and the seer behind with the Grellen inside the March to continue the guerilla tactics, Bran and Tuck leave the forest to rally the collapsing Ffreinc forces under the rallying cry of the return of the heir. At the same time Lady Merian learns her father is dead and her brother is a puppet married to the enemy. Their efforts look even more hopeless than when they started the end game.

The final tale of the King Raven trilogy (see SCARLET and HOOD) is a terrific finish to a great retelling of the Robin Hood legend. The story line is fast-paced keeping the sense of desperate franticness that the heroes face while their people are being butchered. Fans of the saga will relish Stephen R. Lawhead’s excellent rendition but should first read the previous books to obtain a better understanding of what inspires Bran and his loyal teammates to keep on going though they are dispirited and confronting overwhelming odds to become living legends instead of dead outlaws; as even the myths are written by the victors.

Many Bloody Returns, Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner (Editors), Ace, Feb 2009, $15.00, ISBN: 9780441016754

These thirteen new vampire tales focus on the theme of birthdays (and many happy returns). Although the theme is incredibly narrow and restrictive, the contributors provide fresh interesting tales with no losers and star some of the more famous series characters; this the collection serves as a great introduction (albeit limited) to heroes of the supernatural. The most innovative entry is "Twilight" by Kelley Armstrong in which she insists a vampire's birthday is the day they convert as that is a rebirthing. The rest of the stories make for a fun compilation; as the lively authors include superstars of the undead realm such as Jim Butcher (with Harry), P.N. Elrod (with Fleming), and Charlaine Harris (with Sookie), etc. Still singing happy birthday thirteen times even too many series favorites can become a bit long in the tooth and difficult to blow out the zillion candles for some of the recipients; this reviewer suggests leisurely enjoying the anthology over a few weeks.

1942, Robert Conroy, Ballantine, Feb 24 2009, $15.00, ISBN: 9780345506078

The success of December 7th, 1941 emboldened by its total success of wiping out Pearl Harbor to include the storage fuel, Admiral Yamamoto sees an opportunity to win the war in the Pacific faster than the German blitzkrieg of France. He sends his Imperial forces on a mission to invade conquer and occupy the Hawaiian Islands while the Americans are reeling. His army succeeds.

An ailing President Roosevelt tries to keep the morale up, but fears he is failing. The U.S. Army sneak onto the islands intelligence officer Captain Jake Novacek to keep code breaker Commander Joe Rochefort safe; as the latter is a major key in kicking the Japanese off of Hawaii and the rest of the Pacific islands now occupied. Jake is forced to put on hold his camaraderie with and attraction to Widow Alexa Sanderson, whose husband died in the first wave. Using torture, rape and murder along with frightened Quislings to keep the locals in line, Japanese Secret Police chief Colonel Shigenori Omori also makes Alexa his mistress while Roosevelt and the Pentagon plan a counterattack and Jake conducts guerilla operations on the islands.

Once again as he did with 1945, 1901 and 1862, Robert Conroy provides an alternate history focusing on a critical year based on a modification of a pivot point; this time Pearl Harbor and a spin to the aftermath in 1942. The story line is at its most exciting when the action especially Jake’s guerilla activity is the concentration. Intriguingly the more fascinating segments deal with military strategy, but those sections can be dry. 1942 is the latest well written retelling of the War in the Pacific.

The Better To Hold You, Alisa Sheckley, Del Rey, Feb 24 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 9780345505873

In Manhattan, veterinarian Abra Barrow has always been more comfortable with animals than with people as she understands the former better than the latter. Her relationship with her spouse Hunter is based on her acquiescing to his requests and to not make waves though she adores him.

When Hunter comes back from a field research study in Romania to look at the local wolf population, he behaves radically different than before he left. He cannot sit still in their apartment and he and her boss Malachy ramble about werewolves or some wacko similar theory. Hunter persuades Abra to move to rural Northside. There his suddenly barbaric attitude flourishes especially in the bedroom, but not always just with her as there is Magda. Abra considers leaving the man she loves as increasingly he acts more like a wild animal while she behaves even wilder with Red.

This is an intriguing tale with a paranormal spin, a bit of a mystery, plenty of romance and a fascinating all in the family twist. The key characters are fully developed especially the beleaguered heroine. Although the story line takes a bit long to set the cast and locale, fans will relish Alisa Sheckley's fine thriller.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More reviews from Harriet

Here are some more reviews from Harriet. I've been taking care of a sick wife and looking for a job. hings are still pretty rough in this area. We are sitting at 10% and I expect it to be a while before things start picking up.

I hope you find something of interest.

Midwinter, Matthew Sturges, PYR, Mar 24 2009, $15.98, ISBN: 9781591027348

Seelie Army Captain Mauritane is accused of treason. He is allowed to live because he is a war hero, but the disgraced officer is sentenced to life behind bars with no parole at the dark mountainous Crere Sulace prison. He has no hope for the future and barely survives the present in this ancient tomb.

That is he has no hope until the Seelie Queen Regina Titania offers Mauritane redemption and freedom if he willingly agrees to perform a suicide mission. He agrees on the condition that he selects his crew and they also receive royal clemency. Titania agrees. As the every century winter freezes the land, Mauritane, Raive the beautiful warrior elf, Lord Perrin Alt, and human scientist woirk to save the Seelie kingdom while the Unseelie Queen Mab deploys the war plan of Hy Pexho to destroy their neighbor.

Besides being an excellent quest fantasy, MIDWINTER is a superb morality play. The hero and his "misfits" must choose between trying to save a nation that incarcerated them vs. fleeing for freedom perhaps in the Contested Lands between the two Fae kingdoms. Interestingly drawing up a pro and con chart would lead to running away because death is the probable response to saving the Seelie. The two nations feel real due to a strong cast in the kingdoms, the Contested Lands that divide them, and the maybe Seelie champions who each has personal enemies. Especially coming alive is the political intrigue inside the Sturges mythos. Fans will relish the eye opening first act from one of the Shadowpack and Jack of Fables comic book team (along with Bill Willingham ), and want more in this Fae setting.

The Twilight Herald, Tom Lloyd. PYR, Mar 2009, $15.98, ISBN: 9781591027331

The “White Eye” Isak has become Lord of the Farlan tribe following his victory at Narkang (see STORMCALLER). Aiding his claim to overall rule of the Land is possession of two crystal skulls and the sharing of his brain with the soul of dark Elf Aryn Bwr although he is not sure how much help that provides him. Still Isak returns to Tirah in triumph, only someone tries to kill him whom he assumes is baffling Azaer or perhaps a member or the entire group of the deadly White Circle. He suspects seditious actions by others, who either feel they should be in charge or he is unworthy.

Although he knows he must focus on those planning seditious acts and assassination attempts, he sees an opportunity to avenge the downfall of Lord Bahl. He heads to the divided city Scree where insanity rules due to a seemingly “controlled” drought leading to no one trusting anyone and death and danger are everywhere. Isak does not care or fear anyone even those trying to kill him; for he is on a mission of vengeance, which many of the Farlan believes means razing the small city as an example of Isak’s power.

The Twilight Herald is a complex well written fantasy filled with political intrigue and backstabbing that make the Democrats and Republicans look like friendly playmates. The story line is loaded with several major action-packed subplots though most remain dangling for the future; but to truly digest especially the first quarter of the novel with so much happening from the onset the audience needs to have read THE STORMCALLER. Isak successfully takes over the role of solo star with Bahl gone as Tom Lloyd provides a deep complicated political fantasy in which Machiavelli and Borgia would feel at home.

Desire Unchained, Larissa Ione, Forever, Mar 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 9780446400985

Almost a year has past since the human Runa Wagner caught her boyfriend Shade with two vamps. She fled from him, which, though he misses her, was for the best as a demon breed Seminus has no future with a mortal; worse if he should ever find his bond mate, the curse will torment him for eternity.

Runa’s ire over what she saw has grown into outrage with a thirst for vengeance for Shade destroying her innocence. However, her plan falls apart when Shade’s breed brother Roag, who loathes him more than she does, captures him and Runa. They awaken chained together in Roag’s dungeon. Shade’s insane sibling’s scheme is diabolically brilliant as he believes she is his brother’s love bond and plans to expedite his "loving" concept.

The latest Demonica erotic romantic urban fantasy (see PLEASURE UNBOUND), DESIRE UNCHAINED, is a fabulous tale of love hurts. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence of three years ago when a despondent Shade thinks his brother died and never slows down as Roag spellbinds them as lifemates to destroy his sibling. Sub-genre fans will relish a visit to the Ione realm through the Harrowgate to and from New York and Sheoul demon world.

Immortals: The Reckoning, Jennifer Ashley, Joy Nash and Robin T. Popp, Love Spell, Mar 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 0505527685

"Wolf Hunt" by Jennifer Ashley. Six months ago LAPD cop Logan the werewolf saved the life of Nadia the demon Nadia. Now he receives an urgent call from her from the woody California-Oregon border that they are coming for her. He drops everything to keep her safe, but now faces a dilemma from his past as pack leader Matt and her preadolescent son Joel are involved as much as his heart is.

"Blood Debt" by Joy Nash. One hundred years ago, Leanna the Sidhe killed Jackson in Paris. He survived the encounter but was turned and became a slave to master vampire Armand Legrand. Now he is returning to Paris to kill his former overlord and perhaps Leanna too especially if she tries to prevent his achieving his life’s ambition.

"Beyond the Mist" by Robin T. Popp. Poseidon has come to claim what was willingly pledged to him by Sekhmet though the ocean God admits he no longer desires her one year old grandson’s soul, but even he cannot break the magical contract. He needs a soul for a soul so Sekhmet thinking the witch Jenna killed her parents offers her up. Spirit-walker Dave and Jenna are on a cruise ship run by Poseidon who comes to collect his debt. If she can free her powers repressed by her mental reaction to family homicides and with Dave’s help, she might survive with her soul intact, but can she fight back once she knows the alternate price.

These are three terrific Immortals' tales containing strong lead characters, super key support players, and the return of former stars inside deep paranormal thrillers. This is a winning anthology for fans and newcomers by the saga’s authors who have writeen at least two novels each.

Turn Coat, Jim Butcher, Roc, Apr 2009, $25.95, ISBN: 9780451462565

Harry Dresden is a wizard working as a private investigator in Chicago. As an innocent youngster he broke one of the most sacred cardinal rules of the White Council of Wizards and was going to be executed but he got taught right from wrong by a kind mentor who convinced the council to give him probation. Warden Chief Morgan has watched Harry for years waiting to pounce when the lad makes that inevitable mistake; they have tangled several times since and their animosity remains stratospheric.

Morgan comes to Harry’s home looking ill and injured as the Wardens are after their former leader. The weary Morgan explains he was seen over the corpse of Aleron La Fortier holding the murder weapon. Additionally a bank account in his name was found containing millions; phone records show Morgan talking with someone inside the Vampire Red Court. The wizards knew that one of them was selling information to the enemy and that the wardens were investigating, but now all the evidence hangs Morgan. The unknown adversary sends a Skinwalker, a semi-divine god to start a war between the wizards and the White Court Vampires who feed on human essence. Harry knows Morgan is not the traitor so he sets up a scheme to uncover the betrayer and hopefully prevent hostilities.

This is a great Dresden tale as the hero has come a long way from his days as a rebel with a cause though he still defends the underdog with a passion. The story line is entertaining as Morgan turns to his detestable enemy Harry because of the reasons he loathes Dresden; the wizard’s known rebellious nature to defend the downtrodden. Fans will relish this entry as Harry tries to out the real TURN COAT before a war of magic ignites Chicago and beyond while trying to keep an anxious Morgan from charging into the fight like a cow kicking over an oil lamp to Dresden plan and the city.

Blue Diablo, Ann Aguirre, Roc, Apr 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 9780451462640

Corine Solomon has the ability to hold an object and know its history as she can determine who possessed it; sometimes she can even see its future as to who will own it next. As a handler, Corine wants to help people, but feels overwhelmed with their needs as much as she worries about those who fear her “gift”. On her last operation with her then lover Chance at her side, she accomplished what she set out to do, but almost died achieving her goal. Even though she loves Chance, she left him while he was sleeping to keep herself safe. She starts over in Mexico City running a pawn shop.

Eighteen months later, Chance walks into her store informing her that his mother is missing. He asks Corine to help him find her; she agrees. They find a button where the woman was last seen. Corine holds the button and sees the woman binding four demons using chicken blood. When she touches his mother’s purse at the police station, Corine hears the words “la Zona”; the red light district in Nuevo Laredo. A wizard magically attacks Corine to prevent her from finding Chance’s mother but she and Chance persevere even if they both might die.

The first Corine Solomon urban detective fantasy is a great tale filled with magic, paranormal powers, demons, and spirits bound to the necro. The heat between the lead couple is palpable, but Corine fears her love for Chance will weaken her and put him at risk. Ann Aguirre makes her realm feel realistic as her heroine and her beloved investigate the disappearance paranormal style. This is an enthralling romantic urban fantasy.

Angels of Destruction, Keith Donohue, Shaye Areheart (Crown), Mar 3 2009, $25.95,

ISBN: 9780307450258

In 1985 in wintry Pennsylvania nine year old Norah knocks on the door of lonely widow Margaret Quinn. The older woman lets the frozen waif inside, but is surprised to learn the child insists she does not have parents and has always been on her own. Norah explains that she needed shelter from the cold night and saw the light in Margaret’s home. Margaret excitedly allows Norah to stay; feeling redemption as her own daughter Erica as a teen ran away a decade ago to the West Coast with her boyfriend to join the radical Angels of Destruction.

Margaret and Norah agree that Norah will masquerade her as her granddaughter. Norah enters the school and becomes friends with a student Sean whose dad abandoned him. When Norah begins to insist she is an angel with a destructive message, some fear her while others revel in her seemingly magical happiness. However, one person in the shadows has followed her from before and struggles with what to do about her.

Obviously the bond between Margaret and Norah is the center of the tale as they even convince the older woman’s skeptical sister that the child is her grand-niece. Using flashbacks, readers learn what happened to Erica on the road west. However, the key to the story line that keeps reader’s attention is who Norah truly is and what is her mission in Pennsylvania.

Curse the Dawn, Karen Chance, Onyx, Apr 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 0451412702

When the gods were banished from earth, those using the magic bestowed on them by Artemis banded together to create the Silver Circle. Apollo keeps in touch with the mages through the Pythians, but the Silver Circle has kept the chief Pythian under their control for millennia. Cassie Palmer is the current head Pythia, but the Silver Circle fears her independence as she refuses to bow to their control leaving her in their minds susceptible to Apollo’s manipulations.

They place a large bounty on her dead or alive. Cassie thinks they are acting stupid because their action places the Silver Circle at war with Apollo’s followers, The Black Circle as well as the God himself who is playing his foes like a puppeteer pulling the strings of his puppets to abet his returning to earth to rule. Master vampire Senator Mircea Basarab protects Cassie, which further aggravates the combatant Circles as they assume the undead want to use Cassie for their own purposes. No one seems to respect Cassie as her own person as she repeatedly risks her life to do what she believes is ethically right.

Karen Chance affirms that she is one of the best fantasists today with her fourth Palmer thriller (see EMBRACE THE NIGHT, TOUCH THE DARK and CLAIMED BY SHADOW). Readers will believe that vampires, mages and distant interfering Gods exist in the Chance realm. The story line starts at the speed of light and accelerates from there as Cassie has a price on her head that brings out the avaricious dregs of society; leading the audience to ponder the question of whether the end ever justifies the means. The strong support cast, mostly her enemies, enhances this kick butt heroine’s tale as she knows that the enemy of her enemy may remain her enemy.

Calculating God, Robert J. Sawyer, Tor, Mar 3 2009, $14.95, ISBN: 0765322897

Hollus the arachnid space traveler arrives on earth in Toronto. The “ET” enters the Royal Ontario Museum stating: “Take me to a paleontologist”. She has come to the third planet to discuss her people’s empirical evidence of the existence of God that they share with another alien race; her mission is to find other sentient species in order to add data supporting their theory.

Hollus meets dinosaur expert atheist Dr. Thomas Jericho. She explains to the earth scientist that on her homeworld and that of another planet five extinction events occurred concurrently; they hypothesized based on that limited data that these events have occurred on every planet with sentient life throughout the galaxy. She explains to the stunned Canadian, who still struggles with meeting an alien, the grand unifying theory of Creationism. Hollus finally makes the case that science has one goal: CALCULATING GOD in order “to discover why God has behaved as he has and to determine his methods".

Although most of this profound science fiction novel is passive as the two scientists debate the existence of God, this is a terrific tale that will have the audience pondering how they would we react if an ET arrived with strong empirical evidence that God exists. The story line mostly focuses on Hollus the believer and Thomas the non-believer who wants to believe as he is dying from cancer. There is also a limited but fascinating look at the reactions of various people from the Intelligent Design crowd to the Darwinists and all sorts in between who have their own agendas. Fans of cerebral science fiction will relish the visit from a theistic evolutionary ET spider.

A Vampire’s Claim, Joey W. Hill, Berkley Heat, Mar 2009, $15.00, ISBN: 9780425226087

In 1953 Lady Daniela, the rare offspring of two vampires, travel to Western Australia to claim her maternal inheritance since her mom chose sun suicide. On the trek through the Outback to Thieves’ Station, Daniela meets visiting English human Devlin at a dive. They hit it off making love that night to her shock as she has met many males over her two millennium existence that rarely tickle her let alone ignite her desire.

Dev accompanies Daniela to her station and learns what she is. He assists her in her goal to rid the world of an evil vampiric despot. She wants his soul voluntarily. However, when she violates her beloved by claiming him as her servant without his permission, Daniela fears she went too far and will lose the independent Dev since he does not understand the repercussions to her by her naming him.

Besides a great vampire romance by an author marking the sub-genre fans as loyal followers, (see THE VAMPIRE QUEEN'S SERVANT and THE MARK OF THE VAMPIRE QUEEN) Joey W. Hill provides a strong sense of time and place. The story line insures readers will be in the remote Outback as Ike and Elizabeth rise to power. Filled with action and two strong lead protagonists, readers will appreciate this enticing invigorating thriller.