Monday, June 29, 2009

Two Reviews from me

Here are a couple of reviews from me. TOXIN will be out in early July and is a terrific political thriller. The other is a volume of classic Science fiction tales that are some of the best ever written. Enjoy.

TOXIN, Paul Martin Midden, Millennial Mind Publishing, $24.95, 308 pages, ISBN: 9781589824928, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

What can twelve men do? That’s the premise of this intriguing novel. The twelve men in question plan to take over the United States and rule the country as a group. Twelve men serving a twelve year term to govern and make sure that their plan can be accomplished and brought to fruition. What can twelve men do? According to myth, the Twelve who sailed from Atlantis carried civilization and science to all corners of the world. What can twelve men do? The Twelve Disciples of Christ started the growth of religion that has grown into what it is today.

But those groups of twelve did not have someone like Jake Telemark, the junior Senator from Wisconsin and a former military sniper, working against them. Along with Isadora Hathaway, who has made him aware of the conspiracy, they do their best to come up with a plan to prevent the fanatics from putting their plan in effect before their names come up on the list for termination.

Starting with the arrest of a popular talk show host, a toxic chemical spill in a lake and the deaths of thousands in poisoning of a reservoir prove to Jake that something is happening and that he must do what Dora has asked. He must assassinate The Twelve in order to maintain the American way of life and the lives of Dora and himself.

Paul Martin Midden has jam packed this book with action and events that read like something out of the morning paper. The characters are believable and the tension builds as they discover the depth of the conspiracy. This is a fantastic and intriguing volume. Put this one on your summer reading list.

THE SCIENCE FICTION HALL OF FAME, Volume Two A, edited by Ben Bova, Orb, 18.99, 530 pages, ISBN: 9780765305350, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Here are eleven classic novellas that were published before the Nebula Awards were created and they honor the cream of the crop. Many of them were possibly the spark that set many a fans desire on fire for more. They are by the fathers of the field and the masters of creating interesting and otherworldly locales. Many of them are unavailable today and this is a welcome volume to fill in the gaps that exists in some of our memories and collections.

Many fans remember the movie THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD, here is the original story “Who Goes There” by John W. Campbell. “The Time Machine” by H.G. Wells, “Universe” by Robert Heinlein, “With Folded Hands” by Jack Williamson, “Nerves” by Lester del Rey, and others by Poul Anderson, Ted Sturgeon, Cyril Kornbluth and Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore.

This is a one volume collection of some of the finest science fiction ever written and if you don’t already have a copy, pick one up.

Paranormal Reviews

Till There Was You
Lynn Kurland
Jove, Apr 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146240

In present day London, Zachary Smith is bone weary tired of unreasonable clients like Viscount Franbury who he would like to shove down the man’s throat the architectural drawings, but fears the designs might be ruined. He also is weary of women like the client’s cunning nasty sister Lady Beatrice Smythe-Gordon. Finally he is weary of the paranormal especially those matchmaking ghosts who haunt him. Zach plans to call his “former” boss to tell him what is coming his way and quits.

Zach walks through a door at Artane and finds himself sharing a dungeon with Mary de Piaget, a thirteenth century relative of one of his modern day ghosts. Zach having performed in reenactments has no major adjustment to the era, but has problems with his vow of no women as he is instantly attracted to the cross dressing Mary; whose father has arranged for her to marry as he can no longer delay the inevitable. Being a student of history, Zach understands he must be extremely careful not to change anything, but when someone tries to kill Mary using poison, he brings his beloved into his time; not knowing that the past never goes away.

This is an amusing time travel romance starring a terrific fully developed hero whose good intentions present and past are devastated by love. Mary is a strong person who takes to the role of liberated woman with ease as she was a forerunner prototype back in 1258. Fans will enjoy their fast-paced adventures as he learns finally how not to get out of the rain but to enjoy the rain from his beloved teacher Mary who lives life to the fullest. Harriet Klausner

Forbidden Nights With A Vampire
Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon, May 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061667848

Manhattan nightclub owner Vanda Barkowski is forty-five minutes late for her appearance at the East Coast Regional Coven Meeting in White Plains that she was served a summons to appear. Also there is an irate Corky Courrant, hostess of the Digital Vampire Network’s show Live with the Undead; Corky warns Vanda it is not over as she has not forgotten the assault. East Coast Coven Master Roman Draganesti informs Vanda she is to attend anger management training for her attack on vamp performer Max the Mega Member with a stiletto as well as two other fired employees.

Phil Jones agrees to mentor Vanda while she undergoes the classes. He knows she is his soulmate, but hides his attraction because he knows she loathes werewolves and he is a wolf shapeshifter. Vanda objects to the class insisting she has no problem and to Phil as her sponsor. She is attracted to this “mortal”. Meanwhile the Malcontents continue their rebellion making Vanda a top target; even more than most Romatech employees. Phil vows to keep the love of his life safe.

The seventh Love at Stake urban fantasy romance is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action, but belongs to the biting wit of the heroine. The story line is fun to follow though fans of the series will recognize the theme’s similarity to previous tales (see SECRET LIFE OF A VAMPIRE). Still with a sharp tongue lead like Vanda and an alpha like Phil nipping at each other, the audience will have bloody grand time.
Harriet Klausner

Bloody Good
Georgia Evans
Kensington, Jun 1 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780758234810

During WWII in rural England, country doctor Alice Doyle meets a severely injured stranger, but he heals miraculously almost instantly, and simply vanishes. Soon after that puzzling encounter, Alice is called to look at the corpse of a farmer; he has no blood left inside him.

Stunned Alice wonders what in hell is going on in her hamlet especially as more bodies sucked dry are found. Meanwhile conscientious objector Peter Watson tries to persuade Alice that he is not a coward as he wants to court her; he explains he opposes war. However, he will soon have to take sides as Alice begins to uncover proof that Nazis have infiltrated the area led by lethal Gerhardt Eiche. However, he is not just another vile stormtrooper or saboteur trying to cause havoc from within. He is a vampire trying to conquer England from within. With Peter and her grandma who insists she is a pixie, Alice tries to drive a stake through the Nazi vampire and his flying minion who are having a BLOODY GOOD time devouring Devonshire.

This is a superb opening supernatural World War II thriller starring a strong English cast in which some are not purebred human and Nazi vampire invaders. The story line is filled with action and strong characterizations that anchor this alternate England. However, what makes this historical rural fantasy work is the interwoven tidbits such as the sociology of the paranormal and classic fairy tales are documented historical events. Georgia Evans opens are saga of “Others” with a bloody great tale. Harriet Klausner

Demon Can't Help It
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava, May 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231932

Josephine Burke denies the paranormal exists and if they did she thought they should be dispatched to hell. Instead she prefers her two feet on solid ground not in some silly supernatural urban fantasy. However, lately she has some problems sleeping as her nocturnal dreams involve her new co-worker Maksim Kostova giving a hickey or something similar to a seemingly dead girl.

The newcomer is irate with himself over his attraction to the prejudicial mortal. Maksim wants to ignore her, but cannot. However, he believes if she ever learned what species he is, she would walk away in disgust. Still he has a flicker of hope when she tells him about seeing a dead woman; unwilling to reveal her fantasy starring Maksim.

DEMON CAN’T HELP IT is an amusing paranormal romance with wet dreams that keep Jo (and readers) awake at night. In daylight she denies her nocturnal desires by insisting she just needs a man; that is a mortal man. Maksim’s self-flogging muses make the tale so much fun as he wonders how in hell (at least the eighth circle which he called home for eternity) could he fall in love with a denying biased b**ch. Readers will love this "fangtastic" author’s latest urban fantasy romance (see I WANT YOU TO WANT ME) in which devil’s food cake is a house specialty. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Fantasy, Vampires and the Future

More reviews from Harriet about vampires, fantasy and the future. Maybe something will interest you.

Eve of Darkness
S.J. Day
Tor, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765360410

In California, interior designer Evangeline Hollis meets a hunk on a stairwell and cannot resist his lure. After heating up Orange County, he leaves and she notices a triangle etched into her arm. Soon after her encounter, her decade ago lover Alec Cain arrives to inform her ironically that she a true nonbeliever is now marked as a killer for God.

Eve is irate with Cain for deserting her ten years ago without a look back and the man in the stairwell, who turns out to be his brother Reed Abel for putting the Mark of Cain on her. Her new unwanted vocation is to destroy the evil Infernals while staying alive as demons have marked her for hell.

The first “Marked” romantic urban fantasy is a superb gritty tale starring a fabulous creative triangle. Eve holds the exciting dark story line together as the agnostic suddenly has a new belief system; hell she was just an Orange County interior designer and now she is Marked as a bounty hunter of Infernals heating the earth. Worse she has to deal with Cain and Abel as each fills her with desire that will ban her from attending Angels' baseball games. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the EVE OF DARKNESS and look forward to more gritty destruction as chaos has become the heroine’s norm. Harriet Klausner

Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America
Robert Charles Wilson
Tor, Jun 9 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765319715

It is 2172 and America is a radically different place since the oil was depleted. Transportation and communication are gone; people indenture their lives and that of their children to the Aristos who own vast Estates in return for food, clothing and shelter. The term for a president is thirty years as civilization has reverted back to no better than the early nineteenth century. In fact the goal of the present is a new “Manifest destiny” to encompass the entire continent.

President Deklan Comstock had his brother hung for the crime of becoming too popular; Julian Bryce’s son now lives in the backwater town of Williams Ford. Julian the president’s nephew, his mentor Sam and their friend Adam escape the local enlistment only to be impressed into the army. Julian becomes a hero known as young Captain Commongold throughout the Republic. Deklan is irate as history seems to repeat itself with his nephew replacing his bold and charismatic brother. To prevent further mishap to his presidency, Deklan sends Julian and friends to the front with few supplies and the worst troops; he figures if the enemy fails to kill the usurper, his subordinates will when they rebel.

Extrapolating current day economic, extremism and environmental trends, Robert Charles Wilson paints a bleak future for the sixty stars and thirteen stripes as the Bush legacy. One disaster after another has devastated America until the president becomes a tyrant and the country is divided between the less than 1% ultra wealthy Dominion And Aristos and the impoverished rest. The Christian Churches, the property owners, and the president determine what can be read by the masses and what is dumbed down taught in schools. Julian is an interesting person who is seen through the eyes of the narrator (Adam) as a champion who never wanted to be a hero, but was destined to be one. Though fascinating as he is, it is Mr. Wilson’s America that grimly owns this futuristic thriller. Harriet Klausner

Brandon Sanderson
Tor, Jun 2009, $27.95
ISBN: 9780765320308

Though he is loathed to do so, King Dedelin of Idris must adhere to the treaty signed ages ago in which he is required to send his daughter to marry the God King of Hallandren; as he cannot renege since Susebron’s kingdom is so much more powerful than his. However, the agreement is not specific as to which daughter he sends so he decides to go with his younger one, seventeen year old tomboy Siri rather than the apple of his eye, lovely Vivenna.

Upon arrival at her new home, Siri is shocked by the intrigue and backstabbing of her fiancé’s retinue; especially those allegedly loyal to the monarch. Spies are everywhere. Meanwhile, Vivenna runs away from home to save her sister from a fate she believes is worse than death. She joins a band of Idrian travelers and begins to learn to control her magical skills. At the same time back from the dead hero Lightsong wonders what the Returned Gods commanding Hallandren's army of zombies want from King Susebron.

Known for his Mistborn saga, Brandon Sanderson provides a superb stand alone character driven fantasy. The story line is action packed from the moment the courageous Vivenna sets out to save her younger sister Siri and never decelerates. Yet with that fast pace, several great twists, and plenty of adventures, the cast makes the tale super as monarchs, reanimated dead, returning Gods all learn to never judge a book solely by its cover; because if so Vivenna would have stayed girly girl inside her daddy’s castle. Hopefully Mr. Sanderson provides more tales in this interesting realm. Harriet Klausner

D.B. Reynolds
ImaJinn, Apr 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417479

Although the government and the people know that vampires exist, for the most part mortals prefer not to acknowledge the nocturnal species and the bloodsuckers concur keeping a low profile. There are eight vampire lords, each controlling a jurisdiction while respecting boundaries to avoid a lethal vampire war. Raphael is the most powerful of the octet with thousands of loyalists calling him Master throughout his domain, the Western states in America.

Two human traitors from within storm his Malibu estate in daylight while he is away; they kidnap Alexandria, a vamp he vowed to protect with his life. To deal with mortals, Raphael hires human private investigator Cynthia Leighton, who works vampire cases. From the moment the client and the sleuth meet they are attracted to one another, but Cyn learned early in life not to believe in love, passion, or trust as they will be used as a weapon of mental destruction. Still she is determined to help the vampire lord rescue his sister.

The first Vampires of America urban romantic fantasy, RAPHAEL, is a terrific tale that if it is an indication of the series, sub-genre fans are in for a treat. The protagonist is tough yet vulnerable as she uses psychological defense mechanisms to conceal her weaknesses behind a kick butt façade. The title hero is more aligned towards typical vampire behavior as an arrogant haughty alpha leader used to obedience until his dependant is abducted showing a rare weakness and then meeting the sleuth showing that rarity is a little more common than his minion thought. The investigation enhances the fine story line as star-crossed lovers try to mount the rescue. Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 26, 2009

Reviews by Harriet

Sir Dalton and the Shadow Heart
Chuck Black
Multnomah, May 19 2009, $8.99
ISBN: 9781601421265

In the Kingdom across the sea, Lucius and one third of the warriors loyal to him rebelled and were tossed out of their homes. These beings are Shadow Warriors, who tempt mortals away from the Prince and King. Lucius and his minion travel to Arrethtree to gain loyal followers while the Knights of Arrethtree counter by spreading the Word of the King and Prince.

Sir Dalton is a knight of Arrethtree in training, but lacks the heart and passion of his peers. When the Shadow Warrior Sir Prox captures Sir Dalton, he locks him away in a prison no one escapes from. He plans to break Sir Dalton into disavowing the Word, the Prince and the King andwhen he succeeds he will have another loyal member added to his shadowy minion. Sir Dalton does the impossible as he breaks out. He meets Master Sejus who explains to him about the Code, the King and the Prince until the young knight in training feels the passion in his heart and becomes one of their most loyal supporters. He knows he must challenge Sir Prox in order to liberate the prisoners as he now believes hecan win with the Prince in his soul.

This allegory of good vs. evil is a strong tale that young adult readers and many of us older in the audience will appreciate and understand the symbolic religious significance. Sir Dalton is a doubting Thomas until his escape from the demonic shadow warrior and encounter with a true believer. He finally accepts on faith the Word and is willing to test his belief in battle. Though somewhat similar in tone to the sagas of Sir Bentley and Sir Holbrook, fans will enjoy this engaging parable.
Harriet Klausner

Jocelynn Drake
Eos, Apr 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061542831

Fire master NIGHTWALKER Mira has always understood her role as a secret weapon deployed by the ruling Triad to keep the evil Naturi from returning, but now also she knows who she is after centuries of wondering why she is so different from her vampire peers. Mira has made a shaky truce with the vampire hunter Danaus, a human although both know they are natural enemies who probably will one day fight to the death.

The ruling Nightwalker coven orders Mira to come to Venice for a special assignment. She is wary, trusting no one, not even her former mentor. Mira, Danaus who is now part of the Triad, and other members prevent Naturi Rowe from opening the locked portal that prevents his species from crossing over. However, Mira knows it is not over and that some of the Nightwalkers are betraying their kind and the humans; with only the vampire slayer Danaus apparently on her side though she doubts she can depend on him to help her.

This excellent fast-paced urban fantasy is owned by Mira, Danaus, and Venice. The city makes a great location for a dark gritty world in which the protagonist trusts no one; not even the mentor the heroine has cherished. Mira is terrific as she still struggles with self-revelations that she learned of in the first Dark Days novel, and now betrayal of those who she should be able to depend on and a survival alliance with a natural enemy the human vampire hunter. The changing of the relationship between Danaus and Mira is the heart and soul of DAYHUNTER, as anything may be creeping out of the shadows thanks to treachery, but even her new partner conceals secrets re who he is and what his agenda is as fans wonder if another seditious act is occurring. Harriet Klausner

The Other Side of Magic
Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones
Starscape (Tor), Apr 28 2009, $4.99
ISBN: 9780765359834

Natalie struggles to adjust to having Buttercup a nervous rat as her link to the other world; while the other two rookie keyholders, Penny and Luke are pleased with their links respectively Kirin the unicorn and Dracula the dragon. However after being chased by three goblins, their mentor Mr. Leery decides to begin their training. Only Natalie succeeds in finding holes ripped open by agents of evil Queen of the Boggarts in the threads between Morgantown and the supernatural realm.

Natalie takes Buttercup to school and a teacher takes the rat away. The girl is hysterical but Buttercup escapes. Mr. Leery and his link Mr. Mo the cat decide the time is right to take the future keyholders to the OTHER SIDE OF MAGIC.

The second Keyholders elementary school age urban fantasy (see THIS SIDE OF MAGIC) is a fun tale as the three rookie keyholders struggle with their responsibilities; where as Penny and Luke relish their respective links, Natalie is a snob until her rat is taken from her. On the other hand, she proves the only one of the three adept at magic. Young readers will enjoy this fun tale as the threesome with their links and their mentors cross to the OTHER SIDE OF MAGIC. Harriet Klausner

Done Academy 7
Anne Osterlund
Speak, May 14 2009, $8.99
ISBN: 0142414379

Aerin Renning is a loner with no future; Dane Madousin is the son of one of the Alliance’s most influential people and thus has a perfect future. They both attend Academy 7, the most exclusive school in the universe. For Dane it is a divine right; for Aerin it is a shocker.

The pair contends with one another for the top students at school. They share in common dark secrets in which neither reveals much about themselves to others and a competitive streak as they vie for the top student slot. Dane slaughters her in debate, but Aerin kicks his butt in sparring. When Dane breaks a rule, he inadvertently got Aerin in trouble. During their joint retention, they become friends as each slowly trusts the other with their secrets especially special talent. They fear others especially Dr. Livinski will exploit them even as an unknown adversary sets a deathtrap to destroy them and the school.

The author of the young adult romantic mystery AURELIA, Anne Osterlund provides an entertaining young teen science fiction thriller with a touch of romance in the galaxy. The battling lead couple makes for a fun duet as each sings the refrain: “anything you can do, I can do better” until they get into trouble. Readers will enjoy the somewhat gender bending escapades of Dane and Aerin as they are on the brink of being expelled from school in spite of being the top two students at the same time a nefarious deathtrap tries to keep them apart while also thinking kiss her already. Harriet Klausner

Robert K. Tanenbaum
Pocket, Jun 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 1439148600

Broadway musical producer F. Lloyd Maplethorpe is counting on his reputation to keep him going as his last few shows have been flops. He hopes his latest venture will prove successful as he is arranging Putin: the Musical for the live theatre. One night he calls the concierge to come up to his apartment; Harry arrives only to see the body of a dead woman who had a part in the show. Lloyd tells Harry “I think I killed her”. At his trial, Maplethorpe changes his tune stating she committed suicide; as happens frequently at celebrity trials, the jury is split. New York District Attorney Roger "Butch" Karp intends to prosecute the retrial. His private security specialist wife, Marlene Ciampi finds a frightened witness who she protects.

Meanwhile the Sons of Man, a group with members in all levels of authority, are using the Muslims to create an incident that will surpass 9/11 in horror and death. They plan to make it seem Iran did the dastardly deed so that they can seize total power in a coup. The daughter of Ciampi and Karp, an agent for a top secret government group, Lucy is captured by the group’s leader as she had begun to get to close to uncovering their devious scheme. Karp and Ciampi have to change direction as New York City is under internal Armageddon.

Part legal thriller and part ant-terrorist conspiracy thriller, CAPTIVE is an exhilarating fast-paced, but over the top of the Empire State Building tale. Both subplots are fully developed so fans of the series will find each fun to follow. Butch is his usual confident self as he seeks justice in a courtroom while Maplethorpe lines up some powerful defenders. He is also a worried father as his daughter is snatched by his enemy and his wife in support roles has begun to help uncover a conspiracy that if achieved would sink the boroughs under the sea along with the government. Though way out and wild, fans will relish the latest Robert K. Tanenbaum’s tense thriller. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Farrah and Michael

Farrah Fawcett lost her battle with cancer around 9:30 this morning. She will be remembered for Charlies Angels, a best selling poster and a role in Logan's Run. She was a true beauty and will be well remembered.

Michael Jackson died of a massive heart attack around 12:30 this afternoon. Details aren't available yet. He will be missed by many.

New Atlantis Book

RISE OF THE ANCIENTS: ANNUNA, J.C. de la Torre, DLT Atlantis Publishing, $9.95, 281 pages, ISBN: 9780978527235, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

It has been too long a time since ANCIENT RISING came out and told the story of Dan Ryan and his help in raising Atlantis and freeing the ancient gods. This volume (Book II) picks up immediately following that story with Dan and his friends escaping with Prometheus to regroup and fight the rest of the gods and prevent the annihilation of mankind.

Prometheus fills Dan in on the creation of Earth, Eden and the history of the gods as they nurtured mankind and then the jealous, petty battles that grew until Atlantis was destroyed and mankind left to their own devices as the gods were trapped and waiting for the one person that could free them.

Dan finds out his true lineage and the truth of his family’s demise as the catalyst to start him in his adventure of a lifetime. Book III has Dan going through Heaven and Hell as he seeks to obtain help from the Annuna to prevent humanity from being wiped out.

De la Torre has written an action packed, thought provoking novel of the gods of our past. He uses the entire pantheon from Roman, Greek and Jewish literature to present his picture of the creation of the world. As was the case with the previous novel, ANCIENT RISING, this novel has touches of Cussler and Brown and yet maintains an originality that belongs to De la Torre alone.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Baryon 112

I've send advance copies of Baryon 112 out by email. If you didn't get one, please let me know at and I'll get it coming your way.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Vampires,Devils, and Demons

Kiss & Hell
Dakota Cassidy
Berkley, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227855

Fifteen years ago Delaney Markham met the devil and sort of survived with her soul intact. Since that hellish encounter, Delaney has been able to communicate with spirits at the cost of friendships and boyfriends as everyone who meets her assumes she is playing electronic hearts with herself. Her only pal is Marcella the kindhearted demon.

Of course there is Clyde Atwell, a rookie demon, who the devil has sent to harass Delaney. Though she feels sorry for the tyro, she wishes he would return to whence he came. However, he refuses and not because his superior vows to burn him for eternity if he fails at his mission; ironically he has fallen in love. For that matter Delaney is beginning to realize there is more to Clyde than meets the devil’s eye and decides his contention that he does not belong in hell or a hand-basket might actually be true; so how the hell did he end up there.

Delaney with her amusing sarcastic asides makes for an entertaining romantic fantasy with a wonderful mystery subplot. The story line is breezy from the opening chime and never slows down as Markham knows the world is in a hand basket traveling to hell. She never slows down even when she is passionately kissing her significant other, which has quite a meaning in this fun tale. Readers will relish this lighthearted jocular frolic while humming "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band even though the heroine’s herb store is in Manhattan’s East Village. Harriet Klausner

Demon Mistress
Yasmine Galenorn
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228647s

In Seattle, Menolly D’Atigo still adjusts to being a vampire while working with her sisters Camille the witch (see DRAGON WYTCH) and Delilah the shapeshifting Death Maiden (see NIGHT HUNTER) for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. However, while cleaning the bar where she works, she finds fascinating items left behind by the elf bartender who returned to Otherworld. A diary the elf kept insists he felt he was stalked and implies he may have been killed instead of going home.

However, while Menolly considers what to do, a new radically different demonic assault begins to absorb the life force out of the fae. There appears no counterattack to prevent this threat from succeeding and evidence mounts that a quisling human group is abetting the demon Lord Shadow Wing.

The latest Otherworld urban romantic fantasy is a super entry as Menolly leads the charge this time. Once again there is a ton of support players allies and villains that make the well written numerous subplots even more complex. Fans will enjoy the latest D'Atigo sister's take on their adventures as this time the trio tries solve the mystery of the bartending elf while also attempting to keep two worlds safe from the demon horde. Harriet Klausner

Kissing Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425223390

In 1933 Edmund Fitz Clare conceals the fact that he is a shapeshifting vampire from everyone. He hides his secret from the orphans he has adopted, from his best friend, and mostly concealing it from his buddy’s daughter Estelle Berenger who he is attracted to. His goal is redemption to make up for nefarious deeds he once committed. He remains ignorant that Estelle hides her new odd abilities she gained ever since lightning hit her.

In London, hostilities are growing amongst vampires. War seems imminent. To survive along with his wards, Edmund and Estelle will need to depend on one another. Togetherness in Bedford Square allows their attraction to become love.

The latest “Midnight” historical urban romantic fantasy is a terrific tale that plays on several fronts including M15 Graham Fitz Clare’s activities as well as the above. The story line is fast-paced, but even with paranormal species and elements, Emma Holly provides her audience with a strong sense of time and place. Edmund and Estelle are fabulous lead characters whose love seems impossible to turn into a relationship as time means something different for the pair. Ms. Holly writes another winner in her strong saga (see COURTING MIDNIGHT). Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dreamdark: Silksinger

Here's the review of the second Dreamdark book. Put it on your list to pick up. It may be possible to pre-order at

DREAMDARK: Silksinger, Laini Taylor, Putnam’s, September 2009, $18.99, 464 pages, ISBN: 9780399246319, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In this splendid follow-up to DREAMDARK: Blackbringer, we are introduced to a new group of characters and joined by our friends from the first volume as they search for the other Djinns of creation to awaken them to the new age as it is being brought about by Magpie Windwitch and her band. We are also enlightened by some of the legends and stories from the far past to give us a more solid background to the series.

Whisper Silksinger is the last of her clan and must fulfill her oath. Her parents were set upon by devils pursuing the Djinn Lord, the Azazel, whom they were protecting. Whisper ends up in a roving caravan as she tries to find her way to Nazneen and restore the Azazel to his throne.

Magpie and her crew have found Lord Ithuriel and discover the plight of Whisper and set out to find her and help her accomplish her mission. While traveling in the caravan, Whisper is watched over by Hirik, who has sworn to return the Azazel to his home, but hides a great secret to his true origin.

As the story unravels, we find out more of the history of the different fairy clans and their unique abilities. We discover that things are not always what they seem and some friends have deep dark secrets that lead to surprise and disappointment.

As with the first volume, Laini Taylor has written a marvelous and fast paced novel that is wonderful for all ages. I’m already looking forward to the next DREAMDARK novel and I’m sure you will be too.


1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me for the path is narrow. In fact, just go away and leave me alone.
2. Sex is like air. It's not important unless you're not getting any.
3. No one is listening until you fart.
4. Always remember you're unique. Just like everyone else.
5. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
6. If you think nobody cares whether you're alive or dead, try missing a couple of mortgage payments.
7. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
8. If at first you don't succeed, bomb disposal is not for you.
9. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
10. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably well worth it.
11. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
12. Some days you are the bug; some days you are the windshield.
13. Don't worry; it only seems kinky the first time.
14. Good judgment comes from bad experience, and most of that comes from bad judgment.
15. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
16. There are two strategies for arguing with women. Neither works.
17. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
18. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
19. We are born naked, wet and hungry and get slapped on the butt ... then it gets worse.
20. Never, under any circumstances, take a sleeping pill and a laxative on the same night.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vampires and Atlantis

Vampires are popping up in more books that anything else thanks to True Blood and the Twilight movies. I wonder what Bram Stoker would have to say about their popularity.

Atlantis Unleashed
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425220412

To save the life of his brother, Lord Justice volunteered to become the prisoner of evil vampire goddess Anubisa. She was elated to take the hybrid Atlantan and Nereid as her special guest. His sacrifice has begun to take its toll on his sanity as he has no outlet for his dueling natures.

Archaeologist Dr. Keely McDermott uses her extrasensory skill psychometry to learn what occurred to inanimate objects. She excavates a carving that when she touches it she finds herself linked to its creator; to her shock, that individual is alive though the carving is old and in torment. Their tie enables Justice to escape his bondage. With Anubisa giving chase, they team up seeking the Star of Artemis jewel of Atlantis, needed with the rest of the jewels to destroy Anubisa.

This is super Warriors of Poseidon urban fantasy entry starring perhaps the most tormented of the warriors and a courageous human who risk their lives to defy Anubisa. The story line is filled with Alyssa Day’s trademark action in several locals. However, it is the lead couple who make this a terrific romantic fantasy thriller as the scientist and the seemingly insane paranormal half-breed team up in love. Harriet Klausner

The Shore
Robert Dunbar
Leisure, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 084396166X

Edge Harbor is a small seaside town that gets its resources from the tourists during the summer; in winter the place is almost like Wall Street on a Sunday as it is practically deserted with only locals residing there. Barry Hobbs, a stranger arrives in town in the winter. He has been tracking for months a young man Perry and he intends to take him alive to a place where he can receive help. Although the town is empty, Barry finds it impossible to ascertain where Perry is hiding. The lad is holding Stella hostage or it seems as if he is.

A woman’s body washes up on the shore with her back savagely torn to pieces and her car having claw marks ripped into the metal. Barry knows his prey is holed up in town, but he remains ignorant that someone else is hunting Perry and Stella; that predator has no problem with collateral damage even eradicating a town. Officer Kit Lonigan joins forces with Barry after he explains why he seeks Perry though she finds his tale implausible: thatis until the truth slaps her in the face. She wants to kill Perry, but Barry is on a mission to take Perry to a safe place; that if they survive a hurricane and the unknown apparently inhuman adversary.

Robert Dunbar knows how to scare his readers into leaving the lights on especially while we are sleeping. THE SHORE is gothic in many respects with a semi deserted town cut off by a surging hurricane. Barry is on a mission he believes strongly in as he risks his life to accomplish it. Kit‘s needs are simpler as she just wants to save her town by killing the peril. Character driven yet filled with action, Mr. Dunbar provides a terrifying horror thriller. Harriet Klausner

Undead and Unwelcome
MaryJanice Davidson
Berkley, Jun 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 0425227731

The vampire king and queen, newlyweds Eric Sinclair and Betsy Taylor feel obligated to accompany the corpse of werewolf Antonia back to his New England-based Wyndham Pack since he died saving her undead life. They leave the twin Cities for the Cape with Betsy grieving and feeling survivor guilt while her spouse fears a cross paranormal species war is coming.

50,000 plus howling werewolves scream for their blood so the werewolf council demands an accounting as to why one of their own died protecting a vampire. In St. Paul, Betsy’s half sister Laura fears for her sibling’s life and being the daughter of the devil plans to take action against her enemies. The Minnesota royal supporters struggle to keep her from going over the deep end and causing the hostilities to heat up which Eric hopes to prevent from happening. Alas adding to the cross paranormal mess is the royals’ legal ward of her infant half-brother BabyJon who has fangs flying everywhere; hell even Eric who did not want to be a daddy for a few more centuries is over the edge when it comes to the baby.

The latest Undead and … tale is a fast-paced wild ride filled with much darker but as hilarious humor as its predecessors. Now two years as the queen, Betsy still struggles with the intra and inter etiquette between the supernatural species as well as with humans and vamps; she especially struggles with those who pee and those who never urinate (don’t ask what is left). The story line is loaded with off beat zaniness as Eric expects an unwelcome greeting in Cape Cod while St. Paul is out of control. Betsy puts the potential cross species war in proper perspective: her shoes have no scratches so far. Harriet Klausner

The Loch
Steve Alten
Tor, Apr 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 076536302X

Marine biologist Zach Wallace is on a National geographic quest to find the famous recluse the Sargasso Sea giant squid when tragedy strikes. He is fortunate to survive though he comes out of the calamity with feelings of Aquaphobia not a good thing for marine biologist and dumped by his fiancée Lisa. He is unsure what is next for him when he is asked to come home. Though he would prefer not returning to his birthplace in Scotland as he remains angry with his father Angus for cheating on his mother who took him to live with her in NYC seventeen years ago, Zach has no choice.

His dad is on trial for killing his business partner John Cialini, Jr. Angus claims he is innocent. He admits they had a fight and he punched John who fell into Loch Ness when something in the water killed his partner. John’s wealthy and influential family want blood and England quietly since the terrorist attacks has reinstated capital punishment. Zach investigates his father’s claim as do a zillion tourists, adrenaline freaks, scientists, and the media as the Wallace murder case becomes the latest crime of the century. Soon human body parts partially eaten wash ashore, which adds to the Nessy seekers.

This is an enjoyable Loch Ness thriller filled with action. The story line is fast-paced from the misadventures in the Sargasso Sea to the mass of people in the hero’s way at Loch Ness. Zach knows he must overcome his feelings of inadequacy and his fear of the water if he is to save his estrange dad’s life. Although the Scottish enunciations add a sense of place, I personally find it distracting from what is otherwise another winning watery adventure tale (see the MEG saga). Harriet Klausner

Blue Moon
Alyson Noel
St. Martin’s, Jul 2009, $9.95
ISBN: 9780312532765

Ever and her entire family died in a car cash but the six hundred years old Immortal Damen brought her back to life by making her an Immortal too. They have loved one another for centuries, but each time they get close to each other, his wife Drina kills Ever. She reanimates; he finds her; they renew their love and his wife murders her. The cycle seemed endless until now when Ever changes the triangular interrelation dynamics by killing Drina.

A new student enters the night school; Ever instinctively distrusts Roman with his bonhomie and surface good will thoughts. Damen becomes ill and when he recovers he treats Ever as an enemy and a stalker. The student body dissolves their differences and become one group who loathe Ever. She knows somehow Roman is behind the animosity and believes he is an Immortal. As Damen begins to age and die, Ever journeys to Summerland, the dimension between dimensions, seeking a cure for her eternal beloved. There she learns she can go back in time to save her family. As she decides what to do, she vows no matter what she will save Damon and reverse the aging process.

BLUE MOON, the second Immortals saga (see EVERMORE) is an outstanding teen fantasy in the tradition of Kelly Armstrong and Stephanie Meyers. Ever struggles with becoming a pariah at school and cope with Damen’s dire health problems and she is a firecracker who intends to obtain the knowledge needed to save her beloved and return the student body back to the normal rivalries and bickering. She has several obstacles to overcome starting with her lack of experience with what to do and no one to turn to that she feels she can trust; adding to her issues is one wrong choice means tragedy. Harriet Klausner

Interesting reviews from Harriett

The Gods of Amyrantha
Jennifer Fallon
Tor, Jul 21 2009, $27.95
ISBN 9780765316837

The Ice Duchess of Lebec, wife of the Kingdom of Glaeba's heir Duke Stellan and renowned ancient Amyranthan scholar Arkady Desean determines that the immortal Tide Lords must die as they will never stop their efforts to take control of the world. As she ponders how does a mortal kill an immortal, the kingdom’s spymaster Declan Hawkes tests one scheme after another to destroy the Tide Lords.

As Declan's efforts fail, he hides his admiration and desire for Arkady. Meanwhile Tide Lord Cayal courts Arkady while still considering suicide as he has contemplated since the kingdom tried hanging him (see THE IMMORTAL PRINCE). Increasingly the Tide Lord created human-beasts Crasii are secretly defying their masters while the Tide Lords are preparing to walk the earth as its rulers once again..

The second Tide Lords fantasy thriller is overall an exhilarating entry though the overarching theme does not move forward that much. The story line is loaded with subplots in which the best ones involve the big schemes of the Time Lords and their opponents. Some fluff like events in the harem feel underneath the prime level so it only serve as a detractor. Still THE GODS OF AMYRANTHA is a fine entry as the confrontation is coming. Harriet Klausner

Bone Dance
Emma Bull
Orb (Tor), Jul 7 2009, $15.95
ISBN: 9780765321732

The nuclear war between the two American continents changed the world dramatically as the aftermath populations in major cities went from seven digits to three digits or less. Yet humanity somewhat someway sort of survived as civilization evolved in a post apocalyptic world; though devolved might be more accurate.

In that new world order in Minnesota, Sparrow works the night Fair stock exchange as a trader. His specialty is pre-nuke videos and CDs that are rare. As a hustler Sparrow knows what to avoid and when to get out. Thus his being wanted by two rival Horsemen surprises him as he knows to stay away from those powerful telepaths who changed the planet when they caused the war. Still in spite of his efforts to simply survive by selling Big Bang ticket items, the androgynous Sparrow is caught for having information on the Horsemen. They separately are coming for him while working on his mind before he can sell to the highest bidder.

This is a reprint of an enjoyable 1991 young adult post apocalyptic chronicle. The story line is fast-paced, but Sparrow makes the tale work as he has adapted to the new world order of surviving by selling the pre-nuke merchandise before he gets caught up in the Horsemen scenario. The tale holds up nicely as Emma Bull used refreshing spins like the war of the Americas. Readers (and not just “technophiles”) who enjoy a tense post nuclear world thriller will want to peruse Sparrow’s saga of survival. Harriet Klausner

Baour: Strands of Death
Dirk Vandereyeken
Blackwyrm, Apr 2009, $11.95
ISBN: 9780982006726

In the village Barnsby, Baour the necromancer stands trial for defying the Laws of God by performing death magic. The judge Reald, who is actually a scribe but temporarily appointed in charge of the trial of the century, asks the dark mage how he pleads. Baour shocks the judge, the villagers in attendance and the three priests when he proclaims he is guilty. Reald explains that the King’s Law means death if the court agrees with his statement and that he should reconsider his plea; Baour confidently sates he is guilty but will be freed by the trial’s end as he insists he is not bound by Gealius Divine authority; the three priests elderly Eldried, middle age Ignetius and young Therionald are insulted and say so.

The first witness is the witch Esmeralda who believes Baour killed her only friend Ewella. She soon explains how the necromancer became her lover, is the most powerful string manipulator she knows, and wasforced by Baour to testify how she broke the law when she brought back Ewella back from the dead. Next on the witness stand is Roaldus the tailor who also places Baour in a mixed light of death and yet no evil. The trial continues.

This super fantasy legal thriller is filled with twists and spins that even Baour did not always anticipate while he orchestrated his trial is a fantastic refreshing tale. The story line is character driven as the witnesses tells what they know of the accused and in between Baour adds to the picture. With a great final twirl that will stun the audience in spite of being interwoven throughout the enjoyable tale, fans will appreciate Dirk Vandereyeken’s excellent one sitting saga. Harriet Klausner

Witch Fury
Anya Bast
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228692

After watching the woman attend the funeral of her foster mother, Duskoff International CEO Stefan Faucheux kidnaps the grieving Sarafina Connell and her dog Gossett. He insists she is a fire witch; she laughs at him thinking a madman has abducted her. However, his assertion has her thinking back to when her insane biological mom died in a fire.

A coven led by earth witch Theo Winters storms Faucheaux’s compound. They take Sarafina with them as their prisoner. Theo and his cohorts assume she is in cahoots with the vile CEO. Sarafina informs her hosts that her former host had Bai an Atrika demon with him. The coven panics because Bai should never have been able to cross the barrier between the mortal and demon realms while also wondering why they are interested in Sarafina. Theo knows deep in his gut why he is interested in Sarafina besides her connection to Faucheux though he denies it even to himself.

The final Elemental Witches urban romantic fantasy (see WITCH HEART, WITCH FIRE, and WITCH BLOOD) is an excellent finish to a strong saga. The story line is action packed from just after Sarafina buries her foster mother and never slows down as the major strings (mostly paranormal) from the previous three tales are tied up nicely. Though newcomers would be better off starting with the previous novels to better understand the overarching plot that WITCH FURY closes, Anya Bast is at her best with the final Elemental Witch thriller. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Books and a Story

Michael Bishop has a new story co-authored with Steven Utley entitled "The City Quiet as Death". It's available at, just click on the link. It's another memorable story that reminds me of "Apartheid, Superstrings and Mordecai Thubana" that was written in 1989. It's really great to see something new from Mike. He is a terrific writer and deserves a lot more attention than he receives.

Cemetery Dance has released three new titles that may be of interest. HALLOWEENLAND by Al Sarrantonio is limited to 1250 autographed copies and retails at $40. MOONBANE, the long out of print werewolf novel by Al Sarrantonio is available in its first hardcover edition. It's limited to 1500 autographed copies at $40. The other is a strictly limited edition of 652 copies based on the number of preorders; NIGHT CAGE by Andrew Harper, which is a pen name for Douglass Clegg. This one will be hard to find unless someone puts it up on ebay for an outrageous price. Check the website at for more details on these and other offerings.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Current reviews

Reviews from Harriet. She has a lot of books to read and has speed reading down to an art. I'm honored to have her sharing her reviews with me.

Immortal Outlaw
Lisa Hendrix
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228340

Four hundred years ago Cwen the sorceress cursed marauding Viking warriors; the cursed ones live half of a day as human and the other half as a beast; each being a different animal. Ivo is a daytime eagle (see IMMORTAL WARRIOR); Brand is a daytime bear, Ari is a nighttime raven; and Steinarr the Proud spends his night roaring as a lion while roaming Nottingham Forest as the king of the beasts. He avoids human contact as much as possible as he knows they are a treacherous lot.

When he meets half-siblings Marian and Robin Fitzwalter, he learns they seek a concealed treasure that will prove the lad is the rightful owner of his family’s lands. Marian asks Steinarr to help them, but his distrust of humans leads to his refusal. She kisses the lion king and implies passion will follow. Though he expects betrayal, he helps them even as a legend of the outlaw Robin Hood and his band of merry men grows. As Marian falls in love with Steinarr; Cwen the sorceress plans to kill the half beast.

The second Immortal Brotherhood medieval romantic fantasy uses a spin on the Robin Hood- Lady Marian legend to tell the tale of Steinarr. The story line is filled with action in Nottingham as the Viking King of the Beasts falls in love with the legendary Lady Marian while Cwen is coming to destroy both of them and the Merry Men. The audience will relish Lisa Hendrix’s enjoyable entry while wondering if literary greats like Sir Gawain and Ivanhoe will join future half beasts. Harriet Klausner

Touched by Light
Catherine Spangler
Berkley, Jun 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425226377

Adam Masters needs the help of Dr. Julia Reynolds on his quest to find a sentinel. Her precognitive skills are critical as they enhance his extrasensory gifts. However, Adam also knows the highly probable cost to her if he loses to his deadly enemy; Julia will die horribly.

Julia wants nothing to do with Adam or any man for that matter as she struggles with knowing the animal who raped her has just been freed from prison. However, she understands Adam’s plea and reluctantly agrees to help him. Adam feels guilty that he may be endangering this kind woman he is attracted to while Julia struggles between her fear of the male beast and her attraction to her new teammate.

The latest Sentinel “Touched” paranormal romantic suspense (see TOUCHED BY FIRE and TOUCHED BY DARKNESS) is an enjoyable thriller starring two interesting lead characters. Julia is especially a fresh face as she is at times is out right nasty towards the hero though she likes him, desires him, and supports his goal. Adam is somewhat similar in personality to the Sentinel heroes of the previous tales Damien Morgan and Luke Paxton. Fans will enjoy this fine entry yet ponder why Julia’s precognitive skills work so well to help her and Adam have a chance at surviving his quest, but failed to warn her about the rapist. Catherine Spangler provides an engaging tale in her strong Sentinel saga. Harriet Klausner

The Widow Season
Laura Brody
Berkley, Jun 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425227657

Sarah McConnell sees her husband wearing his Yankees cap at the grocery store. She is shocked as David drowned kayaking three months ago though his body was never found. Later Sarah senses David is near and is not scared because she knows he will not harm her. She realizes as she sees him on the couch, she is not mourning him, but what they lost in the last few years of their marriage. He tells her they need a revival like what happened to him on the river when the storm suddenly hit and tipped over his kayak. He got to shore and made it back to their cabin, but felt it was too late to call Sarah. Instead he started painting.

Her brother-in-law Nate and Sarah are there for each other in grief but soon make love, but she is upset in the morning filled with guilt. Sarah comes to the cabin to see David and pick up paintings for a show a gallery owner is putting on of his works. David is thankful Sarah has not given up on him while Sarah is thankful she has a second chance to spend time with David until he asks her if he is dead to her. David wants Sarah to join him in a warm spot, but will she?

The premise of this fine paranormal contemporary, his visiting his widow after his death, is intriguing and well executed so that readers will believe David came back. The cast is extremely strong especially the lead characters and the brother. Though Sarah’s affair with her brother-in-law is intended for the audience to understand two grieving people finding some solace with one another; instead it feels more of a shocker device to upset David. THE WIDOW SEASON is a wonderful relationship drama as a couple drifting apart in life reached out to each other in death. Harriet Klausner

In the Flesh
Livia Dare
Zebra, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420100907

For five years, the daughter of the Army’s top general, Sapphire the concubine has been numero uno with the King of Sari. However, her popularity with the monarch means Sapphire has a powerful enemy, the queen orders her out of the palace. Her exile to her lavish home includes servants so Sapphire feels good that she no longer is a sex toy.

Crown Prince Wulfric of warring neighboring D'Ashier arrives at her home badly injured. She realizes who he is and once he heals they make love. He wants her in his home, but she is loyal to her nation. However, he rejects her refusal and takes her to his palace where he makes her his top concubine over her second objection. However, as they fall in love, Wulf begins to wonder who the prisoner is.

The first Sapphire other world romantic thriller is a fabulous tale starring a delightful courageous heroine and the stubborn Prince she conquers. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the fast-paced story line from the moment that the Sari Queen exiles her greatest rival into an affluent banishment and never slows down as the heroine is abducted by the royal she saves. With vivid detail to her exotic world that feels like an entry found in the Arabian Nights, Livia Dare provides a strong opening entry in what looks like a wonderful saga. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, June 14, 2009

New from Harriet

Let me hear from you as to whether you are finding the reviews helpful or not. I would like some feedback. Thanks

The Burning Skies
David J. Williams
Bantam, May 19 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9780553385427

In 2110 the North American Empire and the Eurasian Coalition are at war over who controls the asteroids revolving around earth. Both sides use cyber-warfare using “razors” to more than just hack the other side’s systems. They also use ground “mech” warriors to kill the enemy. Peace seems out of reach because of the value of the inhabited asteroids. Neither side will compromise as that is a sign of weakness. Instead allies are distrusted because the golden rule is to do unto others before they do unto you; treachery is the norm as the hostilities go back and forth between a Cold and a Hot war.

U.S. counter cyber terrorism agent Claire Haskell has learned the hard way that a third group Autumn Rain has resurfaced with a new plan to rule humanity by destroying the Net, which should heat up the war between the alliances. They also plan to assassinate leaders starting with the American president. At least that is what Agent Haskell’s memories insist will happen after she was betrayed from inside her agency and her lover is dead due to that treachery. She is not sure her recall is accurate or been placed in her mind because everyone knows Autumn Rain was eradicated (see THE MIRRORED HEAVENS).

The constant shifting viewpoints lead to a difficult futurisitc science fiction thriller to follow, but also enhances the concept of Machiavellian betrayals and treachery by friends as a normal way of life; trust no one not even mom. The story line is action-packed moving from the moon to the earth and in between and back as Claire and others play a deadly game of chess with the grandmaster not in sight. Fans of the first tale will enjoy this early twnety-second thriller, but newcomers need to read THE MIRRORED HEAVEN as much of what occurs in the exciting THE BURNING SKIES is built from that initial foundation. Harriet Klausner

Norse Code
Greg van Eekhout
Bantam, May 19 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592139

Civilization everywhere is in total collapse with no hope for any survival. In that environs the Valkyrie expecting Ragnarok apply NORSE CODE genetic testing to choose the army of the dead.

Due to a tragedy that left her sister dead, Valkyrie perfect warrior Mist nee Kathy Carlisle no longer believes in the Ragnarok plan. Instead she does the unexpected by simply vanishing. At the same time she dispears from the Odin project group’s Valkyrie sect, the deity Hermod investigates signs of the end of days in California. He and Mist meet and travel to the afterlife of Helheim for differing reasons. Whereas she wants to rescue her sibling, he wants to rescue a world. Apocalypse increasingly seems imminent as the unlikely pair try to prevent the end but increasingly they expect to fail. Instead ancient prophecies are being manipulated by conniving Gods trying to regain the lost power they once yielded.

NORSE CODE is a fresh combining of genome research with Norse mythology. Mist and Hermod are a terrific pairing as she is on a personal quest no longer believing in prophesies, Gods, or science; while he is a nothing God who when he had some power he still was in the bottom rung of the pantheon food chain. This couple only has a world to save starting perhaps with her sister. Mindful of the Marvel comic books Thor premise, Greg van Eekhout provides his imprint with this terrific mythological science fiction thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Unscratchables
Cornelius Kane
Scribner, Jul 7 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416596417

The dominant sentient species on this world are felines and canine. These two groups are natural enemies and keep as far away from each other as possible. Bull Terrier police officer Crusher McNash loathes cats especially Siamese because he was once a POW and they were his torturing tormenters.

His latest case involves the death of two rottweilers who were torn into shreds. The brass believes a feline is the killer, which brings the Feline Bureau of Investigation into the inquiry. To his chagrin Crusher partners with Siamese Cassius Lap who has some counter theories to the homicides. The two cops are at a fight in which the feline contender goes up in height and weight and easily takes down his opponent. There is a link between the fighter and the killer but anyone with information is quickly killed. The answers lie at the highest levels of power; way beyond the reach of either Crusher or Cassius, but as allies and perhaps even friends, they might be able to ferret out the traitors, if they live long enough to achieve their determined goal.

There have been quite a few mysteries in which animals communicate with humans and other animals as well as the Planet of the Apes, but THE UNSCRATCHABLES uses the premise of no homo sapiens on Kane’s world though tempered by Anthropomorphism. Instead the dominant species destroying their planet are the canines and felines. The protagonists have human traits used to lampoon the two legged beasts, but there also are clear psychological differences between the felines and canines. The investigation is cleverly devised so that the natural enemies must truly partner if they are to solve the case; even then it may prove that the higher ups are too protected (sounds familiar). Readers will enjoy the adventures of Crusher and Cassius in this satirical crime caper. Harriet Klausner

Ice Song
Kirsten Imani Kasai
Del Rey, May 19 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345508812

Engineer Sorykah Minuit is a Trader whose gender changes periodically without her control of the switch. She currently works on a low end job on an ice drilling sub. When she finishes her tour, she goes to meet her infant twins Ayeda and Leander and their nanny Nels in the dangerous ice cap town Ostara. However, they fail to show up.

To keep from freezing she enters a Somatics’ bar; a place unsafe for Traders as the hybrid human-beasts prefers no mingling with outsiders. Rava an octopus-lady takes her into her zone while informing a distraught Sorykah that the Trader Matuk the Collector abducted them in his quest to dissect unique individuals seeking a cure for his repulsive mentally disturbed daughter the W ild Wood Beast Radhe. Sorykah goes into Erun Forest to rescue her children, but switches gender losing most of the essence that made her who she was including memories of being a caring mother.

ICE SONG is an exciting futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates modern day genetic engineering and HG Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau with a brilliant gender-memory twist. The story line is fast-paced yet the three prime locales are vivid in a dark gloomy way as readers will anticipate pending doom. Sorykah is a terrific lead protagonist who changes from hard worker to desperate distraught mother to confused male and does so in a believable manner. Kirsten Imani Kasai provides a fascinating well written cautionary tale. Harriet Klausner

Faith Hunter
Roc, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0451462807

In 1962 vampires were outed when Marilyn Monroe was caught trying to turn the president of the United States, but instead the Secret Service staked her. The press learned of the incident and follow-up investigations led to the knowledge that vampires exist. Not long afterward, real witches were revealed as genuine. Vampires do not possess the same civil rights as mortals have; legislation is being proposed to make the vampires adapt their culture to the masses; which would prohibit the practice of owning blood slaves and indentured blood servants amongst other differences.

Jane Yellowrock, a skinwalker of Cherokee descent, can change into any animals she chooses; her preference is the panther, the form of Beast whose soul resides in her body. She is stronger and faster than a human and she hunts rogue (insane) vamps as a slayer. In New Orleans, ancient vampire Katherine Fontaneau, Madame Katie of Katie's Ladies, hires her to kill a powerful rogue vampire who is committing genocide against his species. Jane follows the murderous scent in her human and panther bodies, but Beast believes the predator is not a vampire, but instead a liver-eater who is much more dangerous than vampires or witches combined.

Beast and Jane have their own chapters which emphasizes their different values and perspective, which is key to believing that two essences share the same body as opposed to the heroine having multiple personality disorder. Their differences are fascinating and at time often amusing as each come to a scenario with a different agenda similar to that of the comedy All of Me starring Martin-Tomlin, but Jane-Beast are in a lethal world. The killer is super while Jane and Beast feel they are always one corpse behind. With a great unique premise on outing the supernatural, Faith Hunter gives her Rogue Mage Thorn St. Croix a respite as she starts a super new and thrilling urban fantasy series. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Just Reviews

Blind Sight
Terri Parsons
Doubleday, May 26 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780385526531

In Paul Bunyan State Forest, Minnesota a hunter finds the butchered corpse of a teenage girl. FBI Agents Bernadette Saint Clare and Tony Garcia lead the investigation into the horrific homicide made worse by the culprit slicing open the victim’s body to remove her nine month old fetus.

The fatality is Lydia Dunton, the found daughter of U.S. senator Magnus Dunton, who has made it publicly clear his scorn for the bureau even before his daughter’s death and is even more outraged with the feds. On Lydia’s head is an inverted red pentagram, but that somehow vanishes at the morgue. Conducting research into similar recent cases, Saint Clare discovers an identical murder in Wisconsin and proof that Lydia had been at that location recently.

The third Saint Clare Minnesota FBI paranormal police procedural (see BLIND RAGE and BLIND SPOT) is an exciting whodunit enhanced by the abuse of power of the grieving father. The investigation is fun to follow though it predominately goes by the sub-genre’s standard operating procedures. Ehat is interesting is Saint Clare’s ability to “see” through the eyes of a killer; yet as with BLIND RAGE, this skill is for the most part irrelevant to solving the case. Still Fans will enjoy this entertaining Minnesota murder mystery. Harriet Klausner

Whiskey Gulf
Clyde Ford
Vanguard, Jul 2009, $24,95
ISBN: 9781593155223

In the waters of Whiskey Gulf in British Columbia, joint naval maneuversby Canada and the United States are going on when the damaged and filling with water sailboat Rebecca Anne enters the exercise zone. The Kinsleys reach the Comax Coast Guard who transfers them to Winchelsea Control before they are cut off and never heard from again. The Kulsham Yacht Club hires former Coast Guard investigator turned maritime private sleuth Charlie Noble to learn what happened to the couple.

He goes to the area in Whisky Gulf where the sailboat allegedly landed and finds fiberglass pieces and other evidence that supports the theory the Rebecca Anne blew up. Charlie sees two torpedoes going through the water near him. Charlie later learns they were used as a decoy to show the buying country Baharin that the guidance system still needs work. Intelligence confirms that the Kinsley’s (not their real names) are needed to testify against a terrorist in the States while the Canadians hide them to keep them safe until they do. An assassin is coming to kill them; a person Charlie once called friend until he shot his brother and that former pal plans to take out Charlie too for killing his sibling.

Action, action, and action to the nth degree makes WHISKEY GULF an absorbing thriller filled with characters who for the most part are hyperbole to insure the action never decelerates. Charlie is retired, but feels duty bound to help destroy a terrorist cell. His partner Raven brings depth to Charlie as he is like a father figure to him. Clyde Ford provides a thriller faster than a speeding Mustang filled with surprising twists and revelations. Harriet Klausner

The Memory Collectors
Meg Gardiner
Dutton, Jun 11 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780525950752

At a San Francisco Airport, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett examines an upset airline passenger Ian Kanan who has just returned from Africa. She concludes he apparently suffers from a form of short term amnesia that does not allow him to make new memories more than five minutes old though his pre-flight remain okay. Despondent and hyper with anxiety Ian is rushed to the hospital. Unable to calm down, he insists his family was abducted and in trouble, and someone poisoned him. He soon vanishes from the hospital to go after those he feels harmed him and his family.

Beckett investigates Kanan’s background and learns he was a security consultant for Chira-Sayf, a nanotechnology company. She finds out he also may be the accidental victim of an experimental biological weapon Slick. She fears those who Kanan referred to plan to gracefully emit Slick on the city. With her boyfriend Gabe Quintana and SFPD Police Lieutenant Amy Tang accompanying her, Beckett hopes to prevent a terrorist tragedy as the disease is spreading.

The second Beckett thriller (see THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB) is an action-packed, fast-paced tale in which the audience will not have time to breath. The story line starts at hyperspeed and never slows down so that readers will want to join the ride (wear seat belts). However, the frantic speed keeps character development to a thin level, but no one will care as the enjoyable adventures are faster than the speed of light. Harriet Klausner

Finger Lickin’ Fifteen
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin’s, Jun 23 2009, $27.95
ISBN: 9780312383282

Bond enforcement officer Stephanie Plum is inside Uncle Vinnie’s bail bonds office when her co-worker Lula arrives screaming hysterically that she saw two thugs decapitate chef Stanley Chipotle; a former hooker she is used to giving head not have a head bounce next to her. They know she can identify them so they try to kill her by leaving a bomb in Stephanie’s car, which blows up. Next they firebomb Stephanie’s house because Lula is living there. A bail jumper ruins her car twice. Both vehicles actually belong to Ranger who accepts the loss of his cars with a scary calm detachment since he knows her car was blown to smithereens.

Stephanie helps Ranger in a professional capacity as he hires her to be an extra set of eyes to help him figure out who is robbing his clients. His security business has been taking an exorbitant amount of hits by an insider who knows the protection codes. While trying to bring in people who missed their court dates, Stephanie helps Lula and Grandma Mazur who entered a barbeque contest sponsored by the company who the man who lost his dead worked for. The thugs try to kill them again; Stephanie is tired of being shot at, cars blown up, and her house firebombed. She intends to kick butt and solve who is wrecking Ranger’s business..

FINGER LICKIN’ FIFTEEN is a funny laugh out loud crime thriller filled with plenty of out of control action. The heroine is put through the wringer and rinsed several times she should be suffering from PTSD, but instead she suffers from PISSED OFF. There are several other zany subplots besides those above as Janet Evanovich provides her usual over the edge of the Hudson plum of a tale. Harriet Klausner

Desolate Angel
Chaz McGee
Berkley, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780425228739

Heaven does not want him and Hell is not calling either. In life Kevin Fahey was a lousy cheating husband and an absentee father; these were his better traits. As a cop he failed to solve most of his cases. As a spirit wandering his town, he believes he is still on earth to earn redemption though he has no earthly idea how.

One day the ghost of Alissa Hayes appears and leads him to the corpse of a woman who was positioned in the exact manner of her murder that he solved. Kevin now knows he was so drunk and incompetent he let an innocent young man get sent to prison .Kevin is drawn to the lead detective on the case who shine with a pure light; Maggie Gunn quickly connects the homicide of Alissa to that of Victoria Meeks. Fahey is Maggie’s persistent yet invisible companion; he smells evil while she senses it. Maggie figures out who the killer is, but lacks evidence for a conviction. She, as does Fahey, knows he must be taken down because he will torture and slowly kill others. Although Maggie can not sense Fahey’s presence, somehow she feels connected to him. He intends to keep her on the right road so a tragedy can be averted.

As a roaming ghost, Fahey is a much better person than he was as a living being. He sees the beauty of nature, the joy in loving relationships of all kinds, and bitterly regrets how he lived his life. He needs to make reparations and is elated to finally have found a way to do so. Fahey feels he is doing a higher calling and embraces this with a fervor he lacked when he breathed. His feelings for Maggie are not quite defined at this time but emit an interesting aura as he obviously cares what happens to her; a first for him. The investigation is top rate as Chaz McGee has written a mesmerizing paranormal police procedural. Harriet Klausner

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Very Best of Gene Wolfe

THE VERY BEST OF GENE WOLFE, Gene Wolf, PS Publishing, $150 limited slipcased ISBN: 978848630284, $75 hardcover ISBN: 978848630277, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

The book starts out with a retrospective look at Wolfe’s writing by Kim Stanley Robinson. Robinson gives a brief look at the life events that influenced Wolfe’s writing. He gives his perceptions on some of the stories and how Wolfe’s experiences and the writers who helped influence his stories and creative processes.

All of the stories that have made Wolfe a power in the SF field are here. The book opens with “The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories” and other gems follow. “The Fifth Head of Cerberus”, “The Death of Doctor Island”, “The Marvelous Brass Chess Playing Automaton”, “Death of the Island Doctor”, “Has Anybody Seen Junie Moon”, and “Redbeard” are among my favorites. The different takes on the “Doctor” stories has always impressed me with the plays on words in the titles. There are many other marvelous stories packed in here as well.

Many years ago, the first time I met Gene Wolfe, he wrote in my autograph book “even if he won’t tell me what he likes about my stories”. Here it is some thirty years later and a lot more stories and books read and I’m still disappointing Gene Wolfe. I can’t just say that they are well written, interesting and thought provoking, which they are on many levels. My answer is that I like them and they stir my emotions. No one else writes like Gene Wolfe and that’s what I like about his stories. I hope that’s a good enough answer, it’s the only one I have.

This is a well produced volume, as are all of PS Publishing’s offerings. It deserves a place in your library. I know it demands a place in mine.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Rift in the Sky

Here's a review by Harriet of a super new book due out soon. Julie's previous books have been well written tales and she is a terrific world builder and creates very interesting characters

Rift in the Sky
Julie E. Czerneda
DAW, Jul 7 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756405601

On the planet Cersi lives three different sentient species. The Oud resides under the ground tunneling to where they want to go and have the ability to restore clan lands; the impoverished Om’Ray can pass as human and have psi power so that all in a clan are interconnected; finally the Tikitik are by far the most feral. All three species adhere to the Agreement, which demands they keep their society stagnant and stay inside their assigned areas except during the Passage. In spite of their efforts change has come in the form of Marcus Bowman and his Trade Pact traders have arrived seeking Hoveny Concentrix artifacts.

Fans will enjoy how the M’hiray clan first formed, left their homeworld and scattered amidst the Trade Pact worlds. Julie E. Czerneda is a first class world builder as she creates a distinct culture (for that matter enhances all three co-existing cultures on Cersi as well) Aryl remains a strong person who shows her fortitude as she wants to save her clan and those of the others. Fans will enjoy the earlier years on and off Cersi with characters from three differing species and diverse cultures living in peaceful coexistence when the Trade Pact humans arrive. The Stratification saga is simply stupendous (see RIDERS OF THE STORM and REAP THE WILD WIND). Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Carey went home today and is doing okay. Still having some pain but will be better soon. She just needs to get some rest.

Fires of Freedom
Jerry Pournelle
Baen, May 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781416591610

“Birth of Fire”. Earth teenager Garrett Pittson was convicted of a homicide he did not commit but his violent past did not help the delinquent. He is given a choice of a life sentence on earth without parole or deportation as a convicted slave at the penal colony on Mars; Garrett chooses Mars. On the fourth planet from the sun, Garrett meets angry workers used as expendable slaves in horrific mining conditions by the earth-based ruling multinational corporations. He thrives in the hostile environs and soon is in the forefront of revolt.

“King David’s Spaceship”. The civil war on Haven ended with the monarchy ruling as the outside Imperial Navy destroyed the resistance. Rebel leader Colonel Nathan MacKinnie knows the cost of the defeat first hand as his beloved, his friends, and his soldiers are dead. The victor King David asks Nathan to perform a mission; he wants to refuse but acquiesces as he knows the resistance is over. MacKinnie leads a small contingency to the backward planet Makassar where an ancient First Empire Library exists, but no outsider may enter as this is a holy shrine. He must find books on space travel before the Imperial Empire determines his home needs outside rule as the key for full self-rule membership is space travel.

These are reprints of two terrific action-packed science fiction thrillers with similar themes of freedom fighters trying to keep a much more powerful and technological advanced superpower from dominating them.. BIRTH OF FIRE is an entertaining coming of age tale. KING DAVID’S SPACESHIP (with some references to THE MOTE IN GOD’S EYE) is an intriguing comparative look at civilizations with the Imperial Empire at a twenty-second century or later level of technology; Haven is at late nineteenth-early twentieth century technology; and Makassar is near the bottom with a medieval technology. Both books are exciting as the pursuit of basic rights is the universal connector. Harriet Klausner

House of Suns
Alastair Reynolds
Ace, Jun 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441017171

Six million years ago, Abigail Gentian formed her clan the House of Flowers by cloning herself into a thousand male and female shatterlings. She assigns her “children” to travel separately across the galaxy as observers of sentient life-forms. Every two hundred thousand years they are to come home to report on what they watched. The Gentian House has become the wealthiest in the known universe as each child performs their mission diligently.

However, this time something has gone wrong after so many successful spins of the galaxy wheel. The gathering has not occurred on time as someone is killing Abigail’s clones. Worse than death, two shatterlings, Campion and Purslane, have broken the forbidden taboos; not only have they failed to report being five decades late, they have traveled together and fallen in love. Each understands that if their mother learns of their transgression, they will die. However, even before they decide about Mother, the pair realizes that an adversary is murdering their sisters and brothers as they journey home, but death rides with them.

Most of the tale focuses on the dangerous journey home by Campion and Purslane as they have broken other rules especially with a failure to deliver to the family information super library Vigilance and the effort to rescue siblings. This pair finding companionship and love turn Abigail’s inhuman clones into humans as the need to belong and the willingness to sacrifice are traits the shatterlings never had before. Alternating first person between Campion and Purslane (and at times Abigail) seems unnecessary as they are together and their viewpoints almost identical. Still although some fans will miss the vastness of space and time author trademarks that are only hinted at in HOUSE OF SUNS, readers will enjoy this intriguing science fiction thriller as the lead couple goes where no shatterling (or Alastair Reynolds) has gone before with the help of Hesperus the robot they journey to the heart of the galaxy. Harriet Klausner

Till There Was You
Lynn Kurland
Jove, Apr 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146240

In present day London, Zachary Smith is bone weary tired of unreasonable clients like Viscount Franbury who he would like to shove down the man’s throat the architectural drawings, but fears the designs might be ruined. He also is weary of women like the client’s cunning nasty sister Lady Beatrice Smythe-Gordon. Finally he is weary of the paranormal especially those matchmaking ghosts who haunt him. Zach plans to call his “former” boss to tell him what is coming his way and quits.

Zach walks through a door at Artane and finds himself sharing a dungeon with Mary de Piaget, a thirteenth century relative of one of his modern day ghosts. Zach having performed in reenactments has no major adjustment to the era, but has problems with his vow of no women as he is instantly attracted to the cross dressing Mary; whose father has arranged for her to marry as he can no longer delay the inevitable. Being a student of history, Zach understands he must be extremely careful not to change anything, but when someone tries to kill Mary using poison, he brings his beloved into his time; not knowing that the past never goes away.

This is an amusing time travel romance starring a terrific fully developed hero whose good intentions present and past are devastated by love. Mary is a strong person who takes to the role of liberated woman with ease as she was a forerunner prototype back in 1258. Fans will enjoy their fast-paced adventures as he learns finally how not to get out of the rain but to enjoy the rain from his beloved teacher Mary who lives life to the fullest. Harriet Klausner

Harriet has more reviews

More reviews from Harriet. I spent most of the day at the hospital with Scott. His wife Carey had surgery. All went well and she should be home shortly.

Strange Angels
Lili St. Crow
Razorbill, May 14 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9781595142511

Sixteen years old Dru Anderson is used to traveling around; never staying in any place for more that a couple of months. Her father trained her as his sidekick killing deadly supernatural creatures and once the mission is accomplished the pair would pack up and move to the next monster nest; some of these otherworldly beasts have no English word. Her Granmama taught her mostly in dreams and occasional rare visits how to be spiritually psychically stout. As for her mom, there are the curls.

Everything changed for Dru in the Dakotas the night her Granmama died. Dad acts strange as he goes out on the mission alone. When he fails to come back alive, Dru has to confront realities. The only two people in her life are dead within twenty-four hours of each other; and though she thought she was a pro at hunting, she realizes she knows nothing about what they hunted beyond her extrasensory gift of the “Touch” and even less about surviving in the mundane world. First she must live through the night as she knows mortal teen boys and creatures from beyond have caught her scent; she is not sure which is more dangerous to her existence, but then again there is her dad’s killer stalking her too.

The key to this terrific young adult fantasy is the supernatural creatures seem genuine with the representatives of a variety of species possessing differing personalities beyond just their basic “natural” needs. Dru is fabulous holding the story line together in a first person viewpoint as she is a typical teen with a special skill and a radically different childhood than the norm. Fans will admire Dru and her two new associates Christophe and Graves who risk all in a battle against deadly foes who should not exist in the wintry Dakotas. Harriet Klausner

Diamond Star
Catherine Asaro
Baen, May 2009, $23.00
ISBN: 9781416591603

The Allied Worlds of Earth, The Eubian Concord Trader Empire, and Skolian Imperialate make up the human empires in the distant future. The Skolian Imperialate and the Trader Empire went to war, but neither won. Hostilities remain with another flare up possible. Earth provided sanctuary to some of the Skolian Imperialate Ruby Dynasty. When the war ended with the Trader Empire, the Skolians brought home everyone except Prince Del- Kurj who was separated from his off-world people.

Del is frustrated and outraged as earth politicians are making it difficult for him to go home even with immense pressure from the Skolians. Mac Tyler takes him to a studio where he is seen and heard by producer Ricki Varento. He receives a recording contract, which he hopes will prove successful as he knows his family thinks he is worthless. Dal is a powerful empath, but is surprised when the crowds adore him and admire his talent as they love his music. Within a year, he is number one. However when a friend is abducted and tortured by an Aristo Trader, he sings a song that brings three civilizations to the brink of all out war.

DIAMOND STAR is a fresh excellent addition to the Skolian Empire saga due to mostly Del, a prince who prefers to be a music star. All of the action occurs on earth where an innocent man must adapt to a new challenge. Readers see the world through his Skolian eyes. There are several major subplots tied together by Del as fans will understand how his producers, band members, fans, and even the Aristo Trader see the expatriate Skolian royal. Somewhat tongue in cheek, Catherine Asaro provides a thoughtful tale of a star is born as the prince believes the magic is in the music instead of the purple reign. Harriet Klausner

Doomsday Can Wait
Lori Handeland
St. Martin’s, Apr 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312947163

Elizabeth Phoenix used use her psychic skills with the Milwaukee police, but soon learns what her horrific visions mean when monsters murder her foster mother Ruthie and left her unconscious; now she can see the monsters (see ANY GIVEN DOOMSDAY). Because of her skills, she has become a federation leader fighting the dark. She actually wins her first battle though many of her soldiers die in the confrontation as she learns the difficult responsibility of a general as she deploys people she knows she is sending to die even though success delays Doomsday for now.

Liz has numerous enemies now including the Navaho witch woman of smoke Naye'I, mother of her skinwalking ally Sawyer. She is unsure she can trust her former lover Jimmy Sanducci; as she and he recently learned he is a dhampire who feels he is losing his restrain to not turn to his sire’s enticing malice. To defeat Naye'i, Liz knows she needs two allies, Sawyer and Jimmy, but one is the son of her adversary and the other has walked the dark side next to his purebred malevolent father.

The second Phoenix Chronicles urban fantasy has the world even darker and grittier in spite of insuring DOOMSDAY CAN WAIT for a future engagement. Liz is terrific as the story line focuses on her inner doubts re sending people to certain death and trusting Sawyer and Jimmy while trying to understand the enormous visions that shake her core as all she sees is bleakness. The apocalypse is here as Lori Handeland provides a powerful gloomy world with little hope for humanity’s survival as the sinister minions of wickedness march forward seeking a second battle. The constant war of attrition is on the side of evil. Harriet Klausner

Monday, June 8, 2009

More from Harriet

Had a productive weekend. Approved the final edit of a story for a Halloween anthology from Whortleberry Press. Got some work done around the house.

Still job hunting. The new Esquire has an article about the job market in New York. One of their writers sent out 300 resumes and was able to get 8 interviews with two possible jobs offered. Although he was only researching the article, it shows how barren the market is. Esquire also has a new story by Stephen King called "Morality".

Here's some reviews from Harriet.

Carpe Corpus
Rachel Caine
NAL, Jun 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451227195

Morganville is not your typical college town because vampires make the rules that paranormal and humans must obey. For instance mortals are required to contribute to the blood bank. It is difficult to leave Morganville because you need vampire permission. Amelie was the head vampire, who ran the town with compassion for all, but her father Bishop led a coup d’etat and with the help of spells and insider information has taken over.

Amelie and her followers reside in the shadows waiting for the moment to take back their town from the lethal lock of her sire. Some people, who really know the brilliant teen, Claire Danvers, believe she is the only hope to save the town. However, even Claire must heed Bishop’s call since he marked her. Her boyfriend Shane and her father await execution, but Claire convinces Amelie to free him. Claire her friend Michael the vampire, a vampire scientist and goth girl Eve are also waiting to bring down Bishop and use his blood as an antidote to end the disease killing vampires.

Rachel Caine has carved out a unique niche in the urban fantasy sub-genre with her super young adult Morganville Vampires. Her mythos is wonderful as she makes the town seem genuine with humans and vampires living in a shaky peaceful coexistence; reminiscent of the early Gorbachev-Reagan era Cold War; that is before Bishop took over and brought overt hostility (sort of a return to Stalin) into the insecure relationships. The latest thriller contains plenty of action, but as always in this saga, CARPE CORPSE is character driven by the good, the bad, and the evil. Harriet Klausner

The City & The City
China Mieville
Ballantine, May 26 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345497512

The corpse was found near a skating rink ramp in somewhat seedy Beszell. All the curious spectators knew she was murdered just by looking at the award angles of her body. Extreme Crime Inspector Tyador Borlu leads the investigation that he assumes is a simple homicide.

He soon learns the victim is Mahalia Geary, which makes him reconsider the simplicity of her murder. She was the leading proponent of a theory that a third unseen city she called Orciny co-exists in the same physical space as that of Beszell and affluent Ul-Oomaof. Her belief and that of her supporters was this other locale filled the vacant blind spots between the co-located “twin” cities. As Geary’s cohorts mysteriously begin to vanish, Borlu reexamines Geary’s theory because increasingly the evidence points towards a third party conspiracy cleverly manipulating the biases of the two known urban centers.

THE CITY AND THE CITY is a fantastic police procedural parable as brilliant fantasist China Mieville makes a strong case as to how far groups will go to keep the comfort zone of their social order. The story line is fast-paced with the audience accepting the existence of two “cities” intermingled but separate; sort of like the Bronx in the 1970s where a bus line would go from the burned out slums of the south to the affluent estates of the north. .Readers will appreciate this hyperbole as maintaining the illusion of belonging is more critical than economic and social realities. A tale of two cities and perhaps a third too, this is a great whodunit that will have readers pondering what psychological devices we employ to “protect” our places in society. Harriet Klausner

Bride of the Wolf
Jennifer St. Giles
Pocket, May 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781416563419

SINCO Oil heiress Marissa Vasquez fled Belize and her evil Tio Luis ending up in Twilight, Tennessee. However, only when she sleeps does she feel safe as she dreams of a black wolf that seems to protect her while they run together under the moon. An injured man arrives at the camp she hides in; she recognizes his eyes as that of the dream wolf-man. Though Navarre the Shadowman is blind, he knows who she is.

Vladarian vampire Herrera captures the pair as he plans to take control of her shares of SINCO. She knows about his reputation having heard he was the most vicious of her uncle’s minion. As Navarre slowly heals with Marissa’s help, their spirits fall in love. While the vampires seem on the verge of species civil war, they must find a way to escape. He knows only if he calls the wolf spirit side of his essence do they have a chance. However, he also understands the possible cost as he wonders whether a purebred wealthy human and a hybrid werewolf find happiness together as love may not be enough.

This direct follow up to KISS OF DARKNESS is a superb paranormal romantic thriller starring two wonderful protagonists who need one another to survive the ordeal. Navarre owns the tale as he knows what he must do for his lifemate, but fears her reaction when he does. With a spin that will shake fans with delight, Jennifer St. Giles continues to make The Shadowmen saga one of the best urban romantic fantasy series on the market today. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, June 6, 2009

David Eddings dies

David Eddings died on June 2, 2009. He had been in declining health and died of natural causes. His wife and writing partner, Leigh, died in 2007 after a series of strokes. David was best known for the eight book series The Belgariad, the five book series The Mallorean, and The Dreams. His last published book was THE YOUNGER GODS, the conclusion to The Dreamers in 2006. He was in process of writing a new novel – unlike anything he had written before at the time of his death. It will probably never be finished. His first Book HIGH HUNT was about four friends on a hunting trip after returning from Viet Nam. THE LOSERS was about the outcast and those lost to the system; it, to me, was one of his best although I don’t think it received much recognition. He will be missed.