Saturday, March 7, 2009

Seahawk and other reviews

Here's a review of a new book that does not fit the normal books I normally do. It is a true life story. I'm also posting some reviews by Harriet Klausner this time to show a wider variety of books that are available for you to check out.

Thanks for stopping by.

SEAHAWK, Confessions of an Old Hockey Goalie, Bruce Valley, Peter E. Randall Publisher, $17, 152 pages, ISBN: 9781931807722, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

You don’t have to be a big sports fan to enjoy this book. It is a history of a small town hockey team – Rye, New Hampshire, and their history from after World War II up to the present. It is also the story of a boy’s growth from joining the team as a goalie at fourteen and continuing to play that position for fifty four years.

He talks about the ups and downs of playing the game, the pains of stopping pucks and slap shots as well as the aches and pains of growing old. He tells of the friends he has made, the trips he has made, and how playing hockey helped him become the person he is today.

There are newspaper clippings and photos to add to the history. Valley has also been a test pilot, a poet, and currently works in the aerospace industry. This is a surprising memoir, and I’m sure it will be of interest to many more readers than just those seeking a sports story.

Piercing the Veil, Jacqueline Fullerton, A.P. Lee & Co., Ltd.,, Feb 2009, $14.95, ISBN: 9781934482032, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Twenty-six year old Anne Marshall and her dad dreamed of practicing law together as a father and daughter team, but he died at sixty-two from a heart attack. Although she misses him, she attends Compton Law School and works as a court reporter. However, when she begins hearing him, she fears for her sanity perhaps from too much work and she is still grieving after two years. The voice of her dad insists his acquaintance, fiftyish Tim Sherman, is a dangerous snake who has embezzled $10 million from his firm depositing it over time in off-shore accounts.

As she begins to believe her dad’s ghost is trying to partner with her from beyond, Tim and his wife Isabelle are divorcing in the court where Annie works. Tim looks forward to breaking up their business and personal partnerships by vanishing without a trace. Tim also enjoys the concept that his affair with office manager Stephanie will end the same way his relationship with Isabelle will end. Mentored by her dad, Anne with the help of her study group, searches for legal evidence that Tim has stolen company funds while her boyfriend ADA Jason Perry worries about her recent behavior professionally and personally. When his mistress, a witness to the divorce proceeding, is murdered, Anne feels guilty, though her father, also feeling remorse, tells his angel that the murder is not her fault, but that of the snake. Feeling a need for justice, Anne, her other worldly partner, and her study group try to find proof Tim is a killer.

PIERCING THE VEIL is an engaging paranormal investigative legal thriller starring a likable but over her head heroine and her late dad, a true believer in justice for all. The story line is fast-paced from the first time Dad communicates with his shocked angel and never slows down. Although the climax feels abrupt, sub-genre fans will enjoy this entertaining tale.

From the Sea to the Stars, Andre Norton, Baen, Mar 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 1416591451, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

“Sea Siege” - As the Cold War seems on the brink of going nuclear thermo, something is killing life in the oceans. Widower Dr. Gunston brings his estranged teenage son Griff to live with him while he conducts research into what is happening in the sea using San Isadore in the West Indies as his base. Island Queen Captain Angus Murdock and his crew Chris Waite and Rob Fletcher deliver supplies; they befriend the angry Griff and inform him of strange phenomena at sea. As the world goes ballistic, those on San Isadore will survive the nuclear winter but might not live through the attack of sea monsters lead by a sentient being from the darkest deepest depth of the Pacific.

“Star Gate” - Almost five hundred years ago, the Star Lords fled their dying planet to colonize Gorth. The earthlings have a much greater life span than the native Gorth, but also breed few offspring and none purebred. The outsiders refuse to share their technology with the resentful natives; fearing what they did on Earth and want to avoid that on Gorth. Thus the expatriate earthlings move on to another Gorth in another dimension in which their counterparts enslaved the natives. The indigenous populace left behind on the first Gorth seem heading to clan war. To prevent it Kincar is exiled from the Holding. Kincar holds a special gem of power as he begins his adventures starting with meeting six travelers; three of each gender waiting for another. He joins the seven believing the last arrival is a Star Lord.

The reprint of two late 1950s science fiction thrillers is fun to read for differing reasons. SEA SIEGE feels like an entertaining 1950s B horror flick while “Star Gate” mixes science fiction with a fantasy sort of a precursor to the Witch World mixed with Crosstime. Both tales are enjoyable young adult thrillers.

Worlds, Eric Flint, Baen, Mar 2009, $25.00, ISBN: 1416591427, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Highly regarded for his alternate history novels, especially the 1632 saga, this superb collection provides audience with a taste of “The Best of Eric Flint’s Short Fiction”. The anthology is divided into six series containing short stories, longer short stories, and novellas; all previously published though a few in this compilation have been rewritten. The Belisarius series (with David Drake) includes one superb rewritten novella “Islands”. The classic 1632 series includes one stand alone novella and three interconnected short stories starring Nurse Anne Jefferson. The Honor Harrington series (by David Weber) includes the novel From the Highlands which takes place after Honor “dies” in AT ALL COSTS by Mr. Weber, turning everything upside down. The Joe’s World series includes two short stories. The Rats, Bats & Vats series (with Dave Freer) includes the first tale, an eighty page novella “Genie Out of the Bottle” that showcases the insanity of that world. The Ranks of Bronze series includes one long short story (60 pages) Carthago Delenda Est” that takes place in David Drake’s titled universe. All are excellent entries that spotlight the vast talent of Mr. Flint to write entertaining tales (solo or in collaboration) in various sizes and formats occurring in differing ages and locations that will send newcomers seeking the back list and affirming what fans already know.

Prophets, S. Andrew Swann, DAW, Mar 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 9780756405410, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

By 2525, two centuries have past since the collapse of the Confederacy civilization. From those ruins two major rivals form: The Roman Catholic Church and the Eridani Caliphate compete for dominance on earth and on other planets in other solar systems. Both groups believe there are lost colonies in space who prefer not to belong to either power; instead they keep low profiles hoping nether empire find the needle in the haystack. However, a super intelligent AI who can pass as human has noticed an anomaly in the star Xi Virginis sector.

The AI Tjele Mosasa is headquartered on the planet Bakunin. Since an AI is banned in most places as are self-replicating nanotech and genetically engineered sentient beings, Masassa arranges to have mercenaries Nikolai, the descendent of genetically engineered tigers and Julia Kugara, a genetically engineered human, as well as Father Francis Mallory join his expedition to Xi Virginis; there he plans to investigate the anomaly. When they arrive at their destination, they are greeted by the vanishing of the star and a saboteur’s explosion on board their ship that cripples the vessel. The survivors make an emergency landing on the xenophobic planet Salmagundi.

The first book in the Apotheosis saga sets the slope for the next tale Heretics while containing an action-packed futuristic science fiction. The story line is told from many viewpoints so readers obtain a 360 degree perspective of what is happening though that somewhat subtracts from character development yet enables the audience to understand how different factions perceive reality. S. Andrew Swann provides an intriguing look into life a half millennium from now.

Duainfey, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, Baen, Mar 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 1416591672, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Rebecca Beauvelley has little prospect for a good marriage ever since her arm was crippled in a phaeton accident in which the drunken young male driver died. In order for her younger sister to make a good marriage, Rebecca first must be wed. Shockingly, her father has arranged for her to marry some elderly rake. Though she would prefer not to, Rebecca has no say in the matter.

However, Altimere the Fey crosses the thin divide to show Rebecca her mortal future of abuse from an uncaring spouse if she says I do or she can go with him and cross into his realm. She daringly chooses to accompany the charming Altimere. Once she enters the land of the Fey, she learns her host is using and abusing her as a degraded sexual pawn to gain political power.

At the Fey court, Meripen Vanglelauf awakens from his needed healing sleep after suffering torture at the hands of humans. He hates mankind who also killed his beloved after torturing her in their quest to control fey power. In spite of his dark feelings, his queen sends Meripen across the divide to the human side to learn what poison they are using to kill the woods.

This is an engaging erotic fantasy that fails to tie up any major thread even the anticipated meeting between the two flawed lead characters never occurs; the assumption is their encounter will happen in the sequel, LONGEYE. The story line is action-packed with both subplots fast-paced as the theme switches from a Regency romance to a dark horror fantasy. Radically different from the "Liaden Universe", DUAINFEY is a strong set up tale that will probably better serve the audience to read it just before LONGEYE.

We'll Always Have Paris: Stories, Ray Bradbury, Morrow, Feb 3 2009, $24.95, ISBN: 9780061670138, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

This twenty-one short story and one poem (“America”) anthology showcases the width and depth of the great science fiction novelist Ray Bradbury. As the author explains in his Introduction, his skin contains two people: a watcher and a writer. The watcher personality surfaces in slices of life mostly on earth like “Massinello Pietro”, “Pieta Summer”, “Last Laughs”, “The Visit”, and “We'll Always Have Paris”, etc. Of course Mr. Bradbury also provides his expected unexpected sci fi-horror thrillers such as “The Reincarnate” and “Fly Away Home”, which reads like a Twilight Zone tale. The collection is top rate although none go as deep obviously as the novels, but entries like “A Literary Encounter" with a psychological thriller spin showcases Mr. Bradbury’s talent beyond the other world speculative fiction arena he is renowned for.

Men of the Otherworld, Kelley Armstrong, Bantam, Feb 2009, $22.00, ISBN: 9780553807097, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

“Infusion” - In 1946 in New York City the Japanese bar maid abetted by two other sorceresses seduced Malcolm Danvers, who to his chagrin wanted her in spite of loathing the race following the war. He knows she is pregnant and watches her stomach grow. He hunts her and kills her. When he goes to kill their half-breed offspring, his crippled father Edward, who he scorns for failing to become the Alpha as expected of a Danvers, demands he bring his half-breed abomination to the Pack to be raised by them; they call him Jeremy.

“Savage” - In 1967 in Baton Rouge, the six year old child watched from the trees the adult change. He decided he wanted that skill too so blackmails the wolf by insisting he will not tell the secret into biting him. However, no one was there to mentor Clayton with the change until Jeremy took him under his wing two years after the bite. As Clayton learns to control his nature, Pack member Malcolm resents him for becoming Jeremy’s favorite.

“Kitsunegari” - In 2007 Jeremy has become the American Pack leader. He is wating for his Jaime to finish work when he meets a fox spirit, who insists she is for him as befitting the last Kogitsune while trying to seduce him.

Following up to her wonderful Women of the Otherworld saga (see LIVING WITH THE DEAD and PERSONAL DEMON), Kelly Armstrong provides fascinating tales of the males of the American Pack. Within “Infusion” and “Savage”, there is insight into other male werewolves, which gives the collection a sort of anecdotal feel yet still focuses on the prime characters as described above. Ms. Armstrong once again provides a terrific urban fantasy anthology with this werewolf in New York compilation.

Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand, Carrie Vaughn, Grand Central, Feb 2009, $6.99, ISBN: 9780446199537, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

After being bitten by a werewolf, Kitty Norville became one too (see KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR). When her lawyer, Ben, who was also bitten, Kitty, saw him through the change, their wolves’ side knew before their human half understood they belong together. As Denver’s werewolf population recognizes them as the alpha couple of their pack, they also maintain their contacts with their human family and human friends. The pair decides to marry so Kitty’s radio show producers arrange for her to do a Vegas TV show.

Kitty initially saw the Vegas trip as a working vacation, but reassess her belief as the hotel she is staying at hosts a gun show with bounty hunters of werewolves attending. She knows some of them will try to kill her because of her fame. Odysseus Grant performs an old fashioned magic act that many think is the real thing, but refuses an invitation to do his act on Kitty’s show. He also warns her to stay away from the animal act made up of shapeshifters at the Hanging Guardians run by Balthasar the King of the Beasts. When Ben is kidnapped, Kitty has a whole group of suspects to pick from who committed the crime starting with the bounty hunters where she gets a shocking surprise.

KITTY AND THE DEAD MAN’S HAND is an exciting supernatural romantic suspense. The protagonist and her mate have come a long way as they have adapted to being werewolf lifemates leading their pack while running their New Moon Restaurant, a paranormal neutral zone hang out. Though the abduction and related investigative mystery comes late, it is fun to follow as readers wonder whether Kitty will come out with a roll of a natural or craps as she tries to rescue her mate. Carrie Vaughn provides an enthralling and spellbinding urban fantasy as Kitty takes on Vegas.

The Map of Moments, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, Bantam, Feb 2009, $12.00, ISBN: 9780553384703, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

It has been six months since history Professor Max Corbett left his position at Tulane to take a job at Tufts in Boston. His reason for leaving New Orleans had nothing to do with securing a better teaching post. He entered the apartment of his nineteen year old lover Gabrielle to find her having sex with a fellow student. Unable to move past the betrayal, he left town. He returns to attend Gaby’s funeral; she died during Katrina with her corpse not discovered for several weeks after the storm. At the funeral, Gaby’s cousin Corrine Doucette introduces Max to Ray, an elderly man who paid for the funeral as Katrina wiped out Corrine and their family disowned Gaby.

The two men go to Coopers where Ray offers Max an astonishing deal. If he follows a map of New Orleans’ magical moments, he can save Gaby’s life. Max takes the map and a potion which he drinks. The first moment appears on the map; the founding of the city; the next is that of a priest’s magical voice blocking the shadows. Others follow until the seventh are the Tordu dark mages ruling New Orleans from the shadows. It is the eighth moment if Max survives the Tordu who want him dead that can save the city if the professor takes proper action even as he wonders how his beloved Gaby is tied to these evil practitioners.

As they did with London’s MIND THE GAP, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon make a strong dark urban fantasy team who once gain anchor the magic inside the mundane. Max hopes to save Gaby by witnessing the moments, but remains unaware that both the forces of good and evil are manipulating him for their respective cause. His observations and his actions to stay alive turn him into a stronger person than the one who fled rather than confront his cheating late girlfriend; he will soon face a greater, more perilous confrontation between his mission and the city. Sub-genre fans will look forward to another urbanized collaboration between these two wonderful authors.

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