Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Back to Work

Today was my first day back at a paying job. Orientation went well and my training has started. It was a good day although a bit tiring. There is a lot to learn, but I think I will do fine.

Here are some more reviews from Harriet to get you by until I get back in the groove.

Secondhand Spirits
Juliet Blackwell
Obsidian, Jul 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 045122745X

Lily Ivory is a bona fide witch; a powerful mage who can feel the vibrations emitted from old clothing, can smell and sense auras, and can cast spells through brewing. She has been on the run for most of her life; hiding her “witchiness” skills by never allowing anyone to get to close to her so that one would think she is a freak. However, now thirty-one Lily feels a need to settle down so she moves to San Francisco assuming she can fit in best in the City on the Bay. There she opens up a vintage women’s clothing shop Aunt Cora’s Closet.

Her friend Maya takes Lily to the home of Frances Potts who has a ton of beautiful vintage clothing. Lily senses evil directed at Frances by the demon La Llorona. Late that same night Lily returns to Frances’ home to cast a protection spell against La Llorana. The next day the woman is dead and a child is missing presumably by La Llorona who feeds on the souls of children. The magical community rallies around Lily who uses her skills to hopefully bring the child back and send the demon back to the Texas/Mexico border where she came from.

Readers who anxiously await the next works of Victoria Laurie or Madelyn Alt will appreciate SECOND HAND SPIRITS, an enchanting mystery that enables the audience to believe in the supernatural. A mysterious male witch Aiden welcomes her to the neighborhood by giving her a familiar, a goblin disguised as a pot bellied pig. Lily is a great character; a strong woman who believes in doing what she feels is ethically right though it might cost her. Juliet Blackwell provides a terrific urban fantasy with the opening of the Witchcraft Mystery series. Harriet Klausner

Where There’s a Witch
Madelyn Alt
Berkley, Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425228715

Nobody visiting Stony Mill, Indiana would believe there is a witch living there. Veteran Felicity Dow is mentoring rookie witch Maggie O’Neal, who is an intuitive, sensitive and a strong empath. Felicity gives her the gift of Maggie finally understanding there is nothing mentally wrong with her because her hunches that seem to always come true and her ability to separate emotions and thoughts of others always frightened her; now she knows she is not alone and what her skill means.

A carnival is operating as a fundraiser to enlarge the Baptist Church. The highlight comes when the machines start digging the first hole but almost immediately they must stop. A hole is found in the ground that leads to a room. The outside is decorated with all kinds of crosses. The next day they find the body of Ronnie Maddox who Maggie overhead in a violent argument with Tyler Barnett. An Ouija reading conjures up the spirit of Elias, a child who died in the underground room; he attaches himself to Maggie who has no earthly idea the danger she is about to face.

There is a certain magic brought to this fine book by caring Maggie, but she is not the only psychic in this eerie part of Indiana. Her interactions with the spirit are fascinating as the reader tries to comprehend what he wants of her. There is a strange case of conservatism and fundamentalism in the Baptist Church as they mount a hate campaign to ostracize and demonize Felicity and her friends. This breeds an atmosphere of hate and distrust of which the new witch on the block could a victim. Madelyn Alt places a social spin with hate crime in the middle of her terrific Hoosier fantasy that will have readers not just believing in the spirit world, but walking along aside the heroine in the spirit world. Harriet Klausner

The Shimmer
David Morrell
Vanguard, Jul 7 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593155377

Santa Fe police officer Dan Page is on a high speed car chase when the other vehicle an SUV crashes into a tanker; the ensuing explosion emits a fiery blast into the sky. Stunned, he returns home only to find his wife Tori gone. Already filled with remorse and questioning what he could have done different, Dan also fears for his spouse, but pulls himself together and follows her trail.

He tracks her to Rostov, Texas home of an observatory, a highly patrolled top secret science facility. There is unexplained night sky phenomena that make no sense as some people can see lights in the air while others see nothing. He finds Tori standing amidst other people staring into the sky as if she was beckoned there like in that old movie. Before he can figure out what is going on, a massacre follows when someone begins to shoot at the lights.

This is an exciting thriller with several major happenings going on that converge in Rostov, but fail to completely do so in the story line. Filled with action, conspiracy buffs will relish this engaging tale as the audience and the new Mexico sheriff want to know what is going behind the fence, under the ground and in the sky. Sort of combining Roswell with Marfa, David Morrell provides his fans with an entertaining but somewhat disjointed tale. Harriet Klausner

Killer Summer
Ridley Pearson
Putnam, Jun 30 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155727

In Sun Valley, Idaho, Blaine County Sheriff Walt Fleming goes fly fishing with his teenage nephew Kevin so both can escape the extended family woes that would fill up a months worth of Jerry Springer shows; the nastiest to cope with is the suicide of Keith’s father. At the same time, international wine experts are in town to bid on the best with the most acclaimed being three bottles that Jefferson gave to Adams.

As the auction begins, a bomb explodes as a cover to the scheme created by genius Christopher Cantell to steal the valuable wine by keeping the law enforcement occupied; as he knows how they will react. As Walt follows clues he feels himself being manipulated by a master puppeteer who has yanked him and his staff in a trillion directions with no leads coming together and following the same path. Meanwhile caught in the middle of the brilliant caper is Kevin who turns out to be the unanticipated fly in the ointment for law enforcement and super thieves.

KILLER SUMMER may be the best police procedural of the year so far as there are so many plausible twists that Walt and readers will wonder if they imbibed. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Walt notices the strange truck while fishing and never decelerates even when the plot takes a spin. Fans will enjoy Ridley Pearson’s terrific crime caper as the author keeps readers full attention throughout wondering what next. Harriet Klausner

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