Monday, August 31, 2009

Walking Dead and other reviewa

Walking Dead
C. E.. Murphy
Luna, Sep 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803019

When Joanne Walker was left in a parking lot with a sword in her body, Coyote offered her a choice between death and life as a shaman. She embraced life as a shaman with healing powers and other mystical gifts. Her police partner Billy is not shocked by Joanne’s new skills because he is a medium who communicates with the dead. At a Halloween party, a cauldron appears out of thin air; Joanne sees that it is a dark thing of evil. Evil tries to trap her, but she resists the call.

The cauldron disappears leaving a massacre of evil behind in Seattle by raising the dead. It originally came from the Museum of Cultural Arts and the two security guards are gone from their posts; one was killed while the other has vanished.. Joanne believes the deaths of the guard and the cauldron are obviously linked, but she also receives further bad news when Suzanne whose soul she saved returns to tell her she had a vision of Loanne dying and it had something to do with the cauldron. Suzanne has a premonition that Joanne and Billy die on Halloween. They try to be careful while seeking the mage who started the horrific fiasco as the cauldron keeps reappearing leading to more deaths and reanimations.

WALKING DEAD is a special urban fantasy as the loads of action include the mundane and paranormal, which leads to a belief that Seattle is under siege with everyone trying to defend the city and fascinated fans going sleepless. The focus obviously is on the strong shaman who can travel to different planes as if she was hiking. The mystery behind the cauldron and its apparent power make for a fabulous investigation by the heroine and her partner at the same time they must prevent further destruction. C.E. Murphy is a great fantasist who makes the otherworldly devouring of Seattle seems so authentic. Harriet Klausner

Day of the Damned
David Gunn
Del Rey, Jul 21 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345500021

Following his last bloody operation (see MAXIMUM OFFENSE), not quite human DNA, Army killing machine Lieutenant Sven Tveskoeg takes some deserved R&R at the home of the Wildside. That ends abruptly when his Commander General Jaxx sends a message to perform a cleansing mission with a new unit in his home city Farlight; the capital is in the midst of a brutal civil war; the reign of boyish looking Emperor OctoV spanning several millennia and tens of thousand planets is in jeopardy of ending.

Sven sans his combat arm or his AI Sag handgun and his squad try to prevent a successful coup d’etat while he still attempts to avoid unnecessary collateral damage in this urban warfare zone while the enemy couldn’t care less if planets are destroyed let alone a city to achieve the mission.. The intelligence is weak as no one knows that the rebels have support from the allegedly peace seeking United Free Empire that has plans to annex OctoV’s tens of thousands of planets into their spans of control. However the plotting of rulers means nothing to Sven. He lives for two reasons: the promise and the kill.

The third Death’s Head far futuristic in space science fiction is an incredibly fast-paced thriller that never takes a breather once the General sends Sven on his mission (almost at the very start of the book) and never decelerates even for a breather. As the speed of light story line moves bloodily on and on, David Gunn also answers much of the questions from the previous Sven’s adventures; not an easy task for a writer whose prime color in the minds of the audience is red. Readers will appreciate this bleak look at mankind in outer space still fighting one another. Harriet Klausner

The Lost Sister
Megan Kelley Hall
Kensington, Aug 2009, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758226808

It has been one year since the Hawthorne, Massachusetts based SISTERS OF MISERY tried to kill Cordelia LeClaire on nearby Misery Island, but somehow she survived. While she seeks her estranged father Malcolm Crane, whom she blames for the tragedies that have devastated all the females in her family, Maddie feels guilt and remorse for not helping her new friend out of fear of retaliation by the Sisters.

She is away at school struggling with her weakness especially her failure to help Cordelia. Haunted by neurotic trepidations she returns to Hawthorne when she learns her mother is dying from cancer. When a Sister dies at a party hosted by the Endicott family to announce their plans for a new hotel on the site of the Ravenswood Asylum, the police arrest Finn and Reed, who are still suspects in the cold case of the disappearance Cordelia as murder suspects. Cordelia returns so one charge against Finn and Reed is dropped. Meanwhile The Endicott Hotel construction is stopped due a blaze destroying what has been built. The townsfolk are divided in opinion between a human or an otherworldly arsonist. Maddie and Cordelia team up to investigate who burned down the partially constructed hotel and killed the Sister, but neither trusts the other for good reasons; they better move past their suspicions of one another as something is stalking them.

The second Sisters of Misery young adult fantasy will appeal to older readers as well due to the character driven tale containing a deep Gothic feel and haunting foreboding atmosphere that hooks fans of all ages. The lead amateur sleuths are terrific as they investigate while doubting the sincerity of one another at a time they better get over it or else. With strong ties to the late seventeenth century Salem Witch Trials, THE LOST SISTER is a super thriller as evil comes in all packages. Harriet Klausner

New Reviews from Harriet

Snakeskin Road
James Braziel
Bantam, Jul 28 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553385038

In 2044 recently widowed Jennifer Harrison is pregnant and desperately needs to return to her hometown Chicago where her mom lives. Currently she is in the vast desert of what was once the southeastern United States; the entire region destroyed by a hole in the Ozone layer. However to become free she needs to escape Birmingham and become an indentured servant for three years in the Midwest.

She travels up the Snakeskin Road used by human traffickers. Her bus crashes and she becomes guardian of thirteen year old Mazy. As they struggle northward on the deadly trail, Rosser the ruthless bounty hunter pursues them as no one leaves Birmingham alive. In Illinois Jennifer is indentured to a brothel where she believes she can survive three years if Rosser is not a customer.

Mindful of his own work, BIRMINGHAM, 35 MILES, James Braziel paints a dark, gloomy future landscape especially the expanding desert widening like a new Ice Age that makes Mad Max look like a still life. The story line is fast-paced because anything less means unburied death for those who dawdle. Jennifer is terrific as a heroine on the run with a teen to protect; but it is Rosser who steals the show as a futuristic Tom Loker before the Quaker revelation in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Although the too many regional idioms and southern dialect anchor the locale, it detracts from the post-apocalyptic view of the journey north on SNAKESKIN ROAD; a path with no conductors, only killing traffickers and desperate escaped slaves dare venture on this lethal “Underground Railroad”. Harriet Klausner

Zadayi Red
Caleb Fox
Tor, Jul 7 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765319920

Ever since Sunoya was born under an omen of duality either she will be a great enlightener or an even greater darkness bringer. To influence the path, she has been mentored by the medicine man of the Galayi tribe to one day replace him. His mission is to see she goes down the path to help their people. The young shaman sees a horrific vision of the tribe's greatest artifact the magical Cape of Eagle Feathers that helps keep the tribe safe and thriving as the Seer of the People wears it so he (or she) can see the future. Sunoya sees it bloodied and dirty. Her foretelling means hard times for her people.

However, Sunoya also foresees a hero will restore the cape to its previous glory and restore the tribe back to a better lifestyle. She believes the hero is her second cousin, infant Dahzi. The tribe anoints the baby as their savior and over the years he faces much danger including an envious evil loathing grandfather who along with several others who wants him dead. Sunoya keeps Dahzi safe as both will sacrifice plenty for their people.

This is a fabulous fresh Native American fantasy that fans of the sub-genre will fully enjoy. The keys to the story line are the two heroes as Sunoya and Dahzi struggle with what they must personally give up to save their people. Mindful of Aimee Thurlo’s fine tales, ZADAYI RED is a super thriller. Harriet Klausner

Dark Lover
Brenda Joyce
Harlequin HQN, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373773701

In New York City, Center for Demonic Activity, Historical Crimes Unit demon slaying witch Samantha Rose misses her sister Tabitha (see DARK VICTORY) and her cousin Brianna (see DARK EMBRACE) as her fellow agents married Highlanders and live several centuries in the past. She focuses even more on her work with her latest assignment to retrieve the Duisean, a valuable Celtic manuscript owned by Rubert Hemmer.

International art thief Ian Maclean is known for being able to obtain any masterpiece for his clients. He and Sam had a run in when they met in Scotland that left her humiliated and furious. They meet again as he is seducing the wife of Rupert to foster his plan to steal the Duisean in order to sell to the highest bidder. Sam and Ian team up to try to steal the valuable artifact though neither wants that teaming. Worse they are attracted to one another and begin to depend on one another although both fear the directions their respective feelings are taking them.

The latest Masters of Time romantic urban fantasy is a super complex tale as the kick butt adversaries must unite but both have doubts distrusting the other and even more their hearts. He uses a suave uncaring demeanor to hide his darkest secret that the demons once imprisoned and tortured him for seemingly eternity; she has never forgotten or gotten over his rejection in Scotland. However, they have no choice if they are to prevent an ancient dark one from arising; time is of the essence as they plunge into his worse nightmare that of his own past. Harriet Klausner

Even Money
Dick Francis and Felix Francis
Putnam, Aug 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155918

The first day of the Royal Ascot horse races gala was like any other opening at the prestigious event and Ted Talbot, his co-worker Luca, and their assistant Betsy are taking book from the punters. Out of the crowd comes an elderly man demanding to speak with Ted. He insists that he is Peter James Talbot, Ted’s father. This is a shocker as Ted was raised by his paternal grandparents who claimed his parents died in a car crash.

Peter informs his still stunned son that he has two half-sisters living in Australia, but before they can get into a car, two thugs demand the older Talbot hand over the money. During the subsequent brawl, James is injured and rushed to the hospital where he dies. Ted goes to his dad’s hotel room and finds proof that his father was involved in an illegal activity. The thugs still demand their loot and the code used on chips that are imprinted and then inserted into the horses. Ted’s life is in jeopardy but he also wants justice for his father and the insurance these punks will not go after him or his loved ones in the future. He ignores the cops because the lead police officer investigating his father’s death assumes he is guilty of something.

Dick and Felix Francis once again affirm that a father-son writing team can provide quality mysteries. Readers are caught up in British horse racing (a trademark of father) and the shenanigans that occur away from the track including some instigated by Ted. Still he receives plenty of empathy as criminals are coming after him as the likely recipient of his father’s legacy, he has a mentally ill wife institutionalized, and a co-worker wanting to be his partner in the family business. With plenty of thrills, chills, and spills EVEN MONEY is a sure bet.
Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Leaving Religion

LEAVING RELIGION, FOLLOWING JESUS, Ronnie McBrayer, Smyth & Helwys, $17, 204 pages, ISBN: 9781573125314, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

There are two topics I try to avoid in conversations unless my hand is forced. Politics is the first one. Religion is the other. Before going into the review, I would recommend that anyone who has a problem with “organized religion” give this book a read and decide if you want religion or if you want to know Jesus better.

Ronnie McBrayer managed to leave the confines of North Georgia to leave the religion that he grew up with and follow the Jesus that made his life more fulfilling. This book could and should be used as a text in a class to help you understand the teachings of Jesus in the context of modern living.

McBrayer converts the parables and teachings into modern day equivalences and makes it very easy to understand and gives you plenty of time to understand it. Each chapter ends with some reflection questions to make sure you understand what was discussed in the chapter.

This is well done and easy to understand. The conversion of Jesus teachings by McBrayer is well done and makes them easy to understand. This is a book written for all age groups and will explain how it can be easy to be LEAVING RELIGION, and FOLLOWING JESUS.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Harriet's Reviews for Friday

Twilight Of A Queen
Susan Carroll
Ballantine, Jul 21 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780449221099

In 1588 as the Spanish Armada sets sail to blockade England, the Dark Queen Catherine de Medici fears her control of the throne is tenuous for the first time in her long rule. Ailing and unable to directly confront her rival the Lady of the Faire Isle she turns to mage Louis Xavier, a notorious pirate who has used the dark arts to achieve his watery superiority.

However, for the first in his life, Louis is distracted by passionate and courageous Lady Jane Danvers. Meanwhile, Ariane Cheney protects her beloved Faire Isle from the Dark Queen as three women prepare for battle on the mundane and magical planes with one another for who will sit on the throne. Ariane anoints Jane as her heir, which sends the vicious Dark Queen after her. Louis vows to protect his beloved or die trying.

The final Faire Isle historical fantasy (see THE DARK QUEEN and THE SILVER ROSE) is a super tale with strong adversaries and allies, and a terific exhilarating story line that ties up the critical loose ends. Catherine de Medici is incredible as the evil one; Ariane appears to be her equal while Jane has to prove her worthiness under fire with Louis surprisingly as her protector with her supporters questioning his dark past. Fans will relish Susan Carroll’s regal yet dark sixtieth century as the war between the light and dark clash with a royal finality. Harriet Klausner

The Magicians
Lev Grossman
Viking, Aug 11 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780670020553

In Brooklyn, high school senior Quentin Coldwater conceals his only love in life, children fantasies from everyone else as he knows the ridicule would be unbearable. So Quentin is bored and miserable except when he hides in his closet re-reading Fillory and Further for the quadrillionth time. Drifting with no future, he stumbles upon a portal to the elusive and exclusive Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy and easily passes the impossible to pass for the magically deprived entrance exam.

Quentin feels uplifted as he has found his home. He and the other misfits from the mundane world begin to fit in together. He and reticent Alice become lovers and Eliot becomes his best friend. They learn at school how to apply the energy currents of the universe to cast spells; After graduating, in spite of Alice’s warnings, Quentin returns to drifting supplemented by drinking as he has had a taste of another life only to see it end with him back in the boring mundane. When he betrays Alice, Quentin feels remorse and misery as he has never felt before. However, he learns Fillory exists and seeing an opportunity to redeem himself with Alice, Quentin seeks purpose there, but finds the place much dangerous than the novels portrayed.

This is a deep dark romantic fantasy starring a strong cast while paying homage to classic young adult sagas like Narnia, Harry Potter, and the Lesley Simonton School for the Magically Gifted (trilogy by E. Rose Sabin). The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but totally owned by the relationships between Quentin and others especially with Alice and Eliot that drives the plot. Fans will enjoy Quentin’s quest for redemption as he returns to Fillory after letting down his Alice. Harriet Klausner

Obsidian Prey
Jayne Castle
Jove, Aug 25 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146899

On the planet Harmony, humans were not the first people to live there as an ancient race lived and traveled in underground buildings, tunnels and catacombs that cross the entire orb. The former inhabitants were strong in ESP and also left behind strong residual PSI that had the effect of brining out similar previously latent powers in humans.

Lyra Dore is one of the few who can work amethyst amber and has found a lode of amethyst strong in PSI in an underground rain forest. The Amber Inc CEO Cruz Sweetwater went undercover and worked on her until she told him about the find. He steals her lode. Three months later, he walks back into her life because his psychic powers have made him realize who his true love is. Cruz knows he must convince her that he will never betray her again as he loves her, but her distrust is strong even when someone threatens to kill him and kidnap her.

Whether she writes historical, contemporary or science fiction, Jayne Castle also known as Amanda Quick and Jayne Anne Krentz can be depended on for providing her readers with a blockbuster romance. Her myriad of fans can be counted on to buy any of her titles regardless of milieu and author name. Her latest return to Harmony affirms her writing skills as the planet is a great place to explore with Ms. Castle as the guide taking her devoted audience to the caverns filled with sizzling PSI energy. Lyra is wonderful as an independent prospector who learns from being burned; while intriguingly he does not regrets his actions but is burned more so as his obsidian and her amethyst is a fiery PSI heart and soul matching . This is another winning romance from a writer comfortable in several sub-genres. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Donald M. Grant, RIP

Donald M. Grant, founder of the publishing company bearing his name has died at 82. Don was almost single handedly responsible for the Robert E. Howard publishing boom in the 1970s. He also published many other works by Joseph Payne Brennan, William Hope Hodgson, Glenn Lord and The Gunslinger series by Stephen King.

He was a supporter of Baryon from the early days and was a terrific person. Although he has not been active in the field in the past few years, his company will continue maintaining his high standards.

My best to his family.

More Supernatural Reviews from Harriet

More supernatural reviews from Harriet.

Jeanne C. Stein
Ace, Sep 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017737

She has been fighting a losing battle to hold onto her humanity, but months old vampire Anne Strong doubts she can much longer. Her parents are sent by Anna’s nemesis to a winery in France with their “grand-daughter” so they cannot be used as hostages by those coming for Anna. She has few friends, but one of them is shapeshifting Culebra who owns a bar in Beso de la Muerte where vampires can feed on willing hosts. He meets her in Mexico her and asks not to visit the bar because he is on vacation and his substitute Sandre wants nothing to do with her. Unable to believe what he is saying, Anna goes to see herbut meets Warren Williams, the former San Diego chief of police and now the chief officer of the supernatural community.

He warns her that six young vampire corpses have been found drained of their blood. Soon after that meaning Sandra summons her to come to the bar because Culebra is ill and may be dying. Before Culebra lost consciousness he mentioned Belinda Burke, an enemy of his, Anna and William. She cast a spell on him and the only way to save his life is to find the witch and kill her. Anna fears she and Culebra will die if she fails to locate the witch. Tracing the path of her enemy, Anna finds more drained dead vampires and a person close to her who is helping Culebra stay alive through magic spells is now near death. Killing Belinda becomes the only sensible RETRIBUTION.

This is a strong vampire urban fantasy entry in a great series (see THE WATCHER, LEGACY, and BLOOD DRIVE) due to the lead professional who has distanced herself for obvious reasons from her family and has joined the supernatural community. Anna continues to explore her new powers as she also treks the dangerous dark world in which beauty is only skin deep is a mantra as the monsters inside are deadly. The world of Jeanne C. Stein is dark, deadly and dangerous; but most critical to readers is her species (vampires, witches, and shapeshifters) seem genuine. Harriet Klausner

Time Raiders: The Seeker
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618163

Time raiders Delia Sebastian and Jake Tyler are assigned to work together in finding the first piece of an alien artifact the Karanovo Bronze Seal in ancient Rome during the time of Julius Caesar. Delia does not want to go with Jake as her partner as she has a past with him that left her hurt. On the other hand, Jake looks forward to spending time with her.

Their Italian vacation posing as Grecian mercenaries proves dangerous as Caesar's mistress Servilia has an agenda of her own yet the artifact is in her Pompeii villa. Worse, an alien seeks the artifact and is using the body of the scribe to hide inside. As the peril mounts, Delia and Jake must cover each other’s back if they are to survive the mission and have any hope of successfully accomplishing it.

This is the opening act of a new romantic science fiction series in which different authors over the next few months will provide novels. THE SEEKER is a fine tale starring two leads who battle one another and two insidious enemies. The story line starts slow as the key background information is provided, but once the protagonists (some might say antagonists) go back in time to 44 BC, the action turns fast-paced and the lead couple’s attraction could ignite Ancient Rome. Fans will enjoy Lindsay McKenna’s solid thriller as Ancient Rome comes alive and the table is set for Cindy Dees in September to go after the next segment of the Karanovo Bronze Seal. Harriet Klausner

Sentinels: Lion Heart
Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Nocturne, Aug 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618170

Ocelot shapeshifter Lyn Maines is assigned to investigate whether a Sentinel is betraying the cause. She heads to the Arizona mountains Dook’o’osliid to determine if mountain-lion shifter Joe Ryan has gone to the dark evil Atrum Core while also hunting the retreating regional Drozhar (prince) after his side lost a battle recently. Based on what she knows about the case, she assumes Joe is a traitor.

After a few days with Joe, Lyn begins to reassess her opinion. She believes he is either an Oscar Award level actor or innocent. As she falls in love with Joe, she fears her heart is rose coloring her eyes or someone diabolically clever is framing him. Now she needs his help to deal with the Atrum Core Drozhar using the mountain's power to restore his own, but all the evidence affirms Joe is betraying their cause.

Although the plot feels a bit emaciated at first, the latest Sentinels Arizonan urban fantasy romance (see JAGUAR NIGHT) picks up momentum and turns into a wonderful entry due to the suspicion by Lyn and the Sentinels that Joe is the traitor. Thus their relationship starts off on the wrong foot, but as they fall in love, Lyn refuses to believe her beloved whose obvious love of the mountains would sell out to someone destroying his revered snowy peaks. LION HEART is a solid entry with a bit of a mystery to enhance the fun plot. Harriet Klausner

Supernatural Reviews

More reviews from Harriet.

Night's Cold Kiss
Tracey O'Hara
Eos, Aug 25 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783135

The Hundreds Years War between the humans and Aeternus vampires finally ended when courageous leaders from both sides reached a desperately needed peace accord. However, Necrodreniacs rebels reject the pact as they thrive on human blood; their thirst is insatiable.

Fifteen years ago, when she was six years old, Antoinette Petrescu observed in fear and horror as vampire Dante Ribins slowly killed her mother. Although another vampire Christian Laroque saved the child’s life, she loathes all undead. Her racial prejudice has driven Antoinette who as a teen worked obsessively hard so she could become part of the elitist Venator corps stalking down paranormal criminals.

The CHAPR council between the humans and para-humans that has maintained the peace is beginning to fall apart due to distrust fostered by the actions of rogues on both sides especially the vamps. To save the council, Antoinette and Christian agree to taem up though she loathes doing so. However, as she begins to believe Dante is behind the prime assaults on the council, no one accepts her theory that the notorious serial has returned from the dead. She also ponders whether Christian, hiding behind his mask of concern, is the impetus behind the dreniacs’s bloody surge.

The first Dark Brethren tale is a terrific foreboding urban fantasy that uses sentient species’ needs to be numero uno as a form of prejudice to anchor an ominous looking world where danger is everywhere. The story line is fast-paced, but the introduction to who’s who slows down the reader (thankfully Tracey O'Hara provides a scorecard). Fans will enjoy the hostilities to be top dog on earth yet Antoinette makes this thriller work as she witnessed the tragedy of her mother’s s death; the adult is the child. This is a great start to a world in which NIGHT’S COLD KISS is the warmest time on planet earth. Harriet Klausner

Laced with Magic
Barbara Bretton
Berkley, Aug 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227527

Chloe Hobbs lives in remote quiet Sugar Maple, Vermont, running the Sticks & Strings yarn shop as a half human heir to the sorcery that keeps her town safe for the paranormal inhabitants and summer tourists. However, she has upset her neighbors especially the witches and fae when she and purebred human police officer policeman Luke MacKenzie becomes lovers.

Luke’s former wife Karen arrives hysterically insisting the ghost of their deceased daughter Steffie needs their help. Simultaneously, her long time enemy Isadora the fae is CASTING SPELLS over control of the child’s spirit and that of the town. Chloe’s family has always protected her town so she prepares for war though this sorceress would prefer a knitting battle.

This is a lighthearted satirical blending of a knitting cozy with a paranormal romance in a New England village fantasy (urban seems to denote a bit bigger of a community). The story line is breezy as Chloe and Luke struggle with small-town gossip and saving Steffie’s spirit with a stitch and a spell. Never serious except for knitting tips, fans will enjoy Barbara Bretton’s fine tale LACED WITH MAGIC of love. Chloe believes she can do anything including CASTING SPELLS with Luke at her side; however he is distracted as High Noon comes to the Green Mountain State.
Harriet Klausner

Jessica Anderson
Signet, Aug 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451227706

Sasha Ledbetter desperately searches for her vanished Mayanist father Dr. Ambrose Ledbetter. She is shocked when she locates his remains in an ancient temple. However, she has no time to mourn her loss; as Xibalba worshiper and high chieftain Iago capturers her. He tortures her seeking information about those who oppose his effort to bring back the demon Banol Kax into the world.

Nightkeeper warrior Michael Stone learns where Sasha is and leads a successful rescue mission. Michael and Sasha are attracted to each other, but he tries to ignore his feelings because he fears passion will ignite the dark side of his nature while Sasha wonders if her disbelief in her late father’s theory of Nightkeepers enabled her to disavow that she might be one of them. However, both recons finding a missing critical Mayan depository which comes before their desire for one another, as Iago is not waiting for love to uncover that same ancient library.

As Michael discovers new powers that he must learn to use, the doomsday clock is ticking against the Nightkeepers warriors as the demon and his adulating horde push the end of days. Michael and Sasha are a terrific pairing who may be in love, but each wonders whether the Final Prophecy’s kismet leaves them no choices; their feelings for one another may be predestined and disturbingly to both neither can say no. Fans will enjoy the latest exhilarating Mayan Final Prophecy urban fantasy thriller (see DAWNKEEPERS and NIGHTKEEPERS) with the philosophical debate of free choice vs. predetermination while time is running out on those who want to save the planet from Xibalba. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Witches, Alternate Worlds and Star Wars

More from Harriet including a new Star Wars novel. Enjoy!

Vicious Circle
Linda Robertson
Juno (Pocket), Jul 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439154281

Persephone “Seph” Alcmedi is a witch, but pays her bills with other paranormal practices like reading tarot cards and writing a newspaper column. Seph also breaks the rules of witch-hood and the city ordinance by running a kennel in her basement to keep werewolves out of trouble during the full moon. Everyone knows the Were and witches are like an oilman and a tree hugger.

Seph is outraged when her grandma is kicked to the curb by her nursing home management. She puts that on hold when a vampire kills her were-friend Lorrie Kordell. She is offered a hell of a lot cash to bring the bloody killer to justice. However, the predator Goliath Kline is too dangerous for a mere witch to restrain so she turns to Johnny the lead singer of techno-metal-Goth band Lycanthropia, who has more than a crush on her; a feeling she reciprocates though she hides it from the biker using grandma as her heart guard.

This is an amusing lighthearted chick lit urban fantasy that stars a female David witch struggling with her bills, grandma, and Johnny battling Goliath the invincible cruel vampire; Vegas would never allow betting on this one. The story line is breezy from the onset as a frustrated Persephone wishes her kennel guests would keep the Krispy Kreme boxes off her lawn before the neighbors howl about her garbage and never slows down. Fans will appreciate this jocular tale in which the plot is never quite serious as the kennel master witch turns amateur sleuth leading to a showdown with a vampire who will enjoy drinking bewitching blood. Harriet Klausner

Branwen's Garden
Brad Parnell
BlackWyrm, Jul 2009, $11.95
ISBN: 9780982006764

Fifteen year old Robert has accepted that he has none of the Good Samaritan genes of his older brothers and sister. When his sister Margaret asks Robert to come over, he only agrees to hear her good deeds or dad reconciliation lectures because he has a crush on her roommate. Mags gives him a package containing family history dating back to the seventeenth century to Samuel More, who abruptly vanished. He knows this is a clever ploy to get her younger brother to reconcile with their dad, but Robert also understands his father tried to buy his affection since the split a few years ago with his mom who gave her son her love with no strings.

Robert translates the documents and with his friend Cam head to a nearby Natural Bridge where Cam holds the “key” that opens a portal that Robert crosses over into the land of Gwerinatha. He almost immediately is attacked by a six legged “log” whom he gives the sneaker to. Robert meets Louie the talking wolf, who takes him to his pack. As Robert learns about this strange world, he also finds out that Sam vanished on this side too. However, Robert’s goal of going home is interrupted when he discovers the local human heroine Branwen is missing. With the help of Branwen’s family and friends, Robert goes on a trek to rescue her.

The first Legend of Gwerinatha is a terrific entertaining middle school coming of age fantasy starring a young man learning about responsibility once he meets Louie and learns of BRANWEN'S GARDEN. The slacker lead protagonist is well aware of his so called short comings back home, but is okay with it. That changes when he becomes a heroic champion trying to find his ancestor and Branwen as a stranger in a strange land in which only the teen girls seem normal to him. Fans will enjoy his escapades and look forward to Cam’s trek into Gwerinatha. Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Abyss
Troy Denning
Del Rey, Aug 18 2009, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345509185

Tensions are rising to a dangerous feverish pitch on the planet Coruscant where the seat of power of the Galactic Alliance and the Jedi Temple are located. Increasingly at an epidemic rate Jedi Knights are falling prey to a strange illness that lead them into believing people they have known for years are actually doppelgangers. The Galactic Alliance Chief of State Natasi Daala wants the Jedi Order subservient to her government and Princess Leia and her husband Han Solo try to thwart her ambition.

Still seeking the cause of Jacen Solo’s downfall into the dark side of the force, Luke Skywalker and his son Ben head to Maw Cluster, a mysterious dangerous sector where the Force is very potent. They come upon a space station populated by the dead and the dying. The strongest of the living the Mind Walkers show the father and son team how to leave their bodies and travel to an orb strong with the Force to fond some of the answers they seek.. They know Jacen was in this sector and visited that orb before he became Darth Cadeouss, dictator of the Imperial Empire who killed millions in the civil war. The Skywalkers also fight a lost tribe of Sith who want them dead as a step towards regaining what they feel is their right to rule the galaxy.

The third novel (see OMEN and OUTCAST) in this nine book Star Wars saga is an exciting tale as the story line moves forward on both major plots. The Maw segue is the more fascinating of the two as the worlds and people inside this sector provide a fresh element to the Luke Skywalker legend with readers wondering if he and his son will fall into an abyss that will lead them to the dark side of the Force. The Solo-Leia entry is also enjoyable though somewhat similar to past tales; as the pair and their daughter battle the ambitious ruler. Fans will relish the strong latest entry in the Fate of the Jedi. Harriet Klausner

Dreamwish Beasts, Snarks and Unicorns

Here are a couple more of my latest readings. One is fiction and one is a history. Both are interesting and will be excellent additions to your library.

DREAMWISH BEASTS AND SNARKS, Mike Resnick, Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 278 pages, ISBN: 9781930846609, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Mike Resnick is one of those authors that can come up with some seemingly common ideas and give them a small tweak or a big twist to turn it on its ear and make an uncommonly good story. This volume is filled with some of those and I’m sure ther is plenty here for all to enjoy.

He starts out with “Hunting the Snark” based on the Lewis Carroll poem and shows that even the best prepared hunter really isn’t when he faces the unknown. “Stalking the Unicorn with Gun and Camera” warns of the many mistakes that can be made. “Stalking the Vampire” is in much the same vein as the “Unicorn” entry. Teddy Roosevelt enters the picture as one of the “Two Hunters in Manhattan”. “Bwana” is a story of the Kirinyaga and of the arrogant hunter. “The Soul Eater” is another tale of trying to hunt something that has never been seen, the Dreamwish Beast, with the story told from both points of view.

Entertaining and delightful are a couple of words that can be used to describe Resnik and his writing. This volume gives you a good sample in case you’ve never read him before.

THE NATURAL HISTORY OF UNICORNS, Chris Lavers, William Morrow, $26.99, ISBN: 9780060874148, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Unicorns have fascinated mankind for thousands of years. Legends have come down in oral history, pictograms, and tapestries as well as written about in the Bible. There is even an Irish legend that says they were too busy frolicking in the meadow to make it to the Ark on time. Others say their disappearance is due to the number of maidens required to catch them is in deep decline. I’ve got over a dozen representations of them over my computer, so I know that I still believe.

Lavers goes above and beyond in his research. He gathers material from the Greeks, the Mesopotamians, The Bible, Arabic and Hindu texts to document his research. He includes drawings and pictures to show his diligence in his search.

Examples of one horned creatures include the rhinoceros, the Arabian oryx, the narwhale, the okapi and other one horned creatures have been thought to have been unicorns, but as times and people have changed so has the evolution of the unicorn.

Lavers has written a serious tome about a creature of mythic proportions. His background in natural history makes him a natural to have researched this book. Definitely recommended for all unicorn lovers.

Passing for Human

Here are a couple of reviews of some of the latest I've had a chance to read. Both are recommended and should give you something to think about.

PASSING FOR HUMAN, edited by Michael Bishop and Steven Utley, PS Publishing, $32, 270 pages, ISBN: 9781905834228, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In this, the latest anthology edited by Michael Bishop – ably aided by Steven Utley – he makes me think of some of his earlier works. STOLEN FACES and ANCIENT OF DAYS both cover the different faces someone might wear to keep his identity hidden or that of someone hiding in plan sight without people knowing your true nature. It’s really too bad that neither of them is currently in print. It is also a bitter sweet volume in that the cover is the last cover created by Jamie Bishop, Michael’s son who died in the Virginia Tech shootings.

The stories are filled with terrific stories that cover the many eras of science fiction from the 1940s up until today. “Mimic” by Donald A. Wollheim, “The Man Upstairs” by Ray Bradbury and “The Reality Trip” by Robert Silverberg. Other outstanding tales come from Paul D. Filippo, Howard Waldrop, James Tiptree, Jr, John Kessel, and Lisa Tuttle.

There are other stories here as well to show how some beings go about PASSING FOR HUMAN. I expected to see “Who Goes There” by John Campbell included in this volume, but I’m guessing that most everyone is aware of it. It has appeared in numerous anthologies and been filmed twice. I missed it being here, but there is plenty of good reading for everyone. Kudos to all involved.

‘FOLLOW ME, DAVID!’, Jonathan Russell, Peter E. Randall, $17.95, 240 pages, ISBN: 9781931807616, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is a very interesting book from Jonathan Russell. His poetry volume, WHISPERS, was reviewed last year. This story is an expansion of “Valhalla Hill” which appeared in that volume. The fact that Russell is legally blind and uses a four foot monitor to write only adds to the impressiveness of his work.

The book originated with Russell’s greyhound, David, who was rescued from the race track and is now a beloved member of the family. A portion of the profits is being donated to groups that help save the dogs after they are discarded after their racing time is finished.

Jennifer adopts David from one of the rescue societies and names him after her late husband and almost instantly they develop a psychic connection and although she has another dog, Robert; David takes over first place in the home. Jennifer has a friend, Pastor Bernard Houndsditch, who walks the dogs and being single finds a place in Jennifer’s heart. They marry and have some adventures, any of them humorous.

The main point of the book comes at the end when Bernard and David go to pick up a boat Bernard has purchased. On the way home the boat is sunk and only David’s body is recovered. Jennifer has known all along that David must have a Christian burial and sets about to make it happen.

This is truly a special book about loyalty and love, not only between master and pet, but between kindred souls no matter what the species. This is one of those books that will make you laugh and then cry. It will also show you how simple thins can make your life special. Be sure to look for this one, it’s special.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Working on reviews

I'm working on reviews and not quite ready yet. Here are some from Harriet to tide you over.

Shadow Magic
Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett
Bantam Spectra, Jul 28 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553806977

The Hundred Years War is over with the city-state Kingdom of Volstov’s metal dragons corps having defeated the Ke-Han Empire's imperial troops (see HAVEMERCY). Stunned by his side’s loss the Ke-Han emperor does the honorable thing in his society by committing suicide.

The Volstov send a peace delegation led by magician Caius Greylace and General Alcibiades to negotiate the terms of surrender. The new Emperor Iseaul greets them even as he plots to strengthen his new position of power starting with the assassination of his younger brother Prince Mamoru . The attempt fails and Mamoru and his personal servant Kouje flee while the diplomacy moves forward at a snail’s pace as Iseaul objects as if his side were the victors.

This fascinating sequel switches from the military fantasy of Havemercy to a diplomacy fantasy with as much intrigue, Machiavellian machinations modified by magic. The story line is as fast-paced and action-packed as its predecessor but with a different take. Fans will enjoy this strong entry as Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett provide a deep look at conflicting societies loosely modeled after Shogun medieval Japan and Empirical Rome respectively placed in a fantasy realm.
Harriet Klausner

Witches Incorporated
K.E. Mills
Orbit, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316035446

Everyone who knew him including himself believed Gerald Dunwoody was a third-grade wizard; he affirmed his level of competency as a safety inspector who accidentally blew up the factory he was inspecting. However, everything changed for Gerald in New Ottosland where his performance proved elitist (see THE ACCIDENTAL SORCERER).

The New Ottosland royal government trains Gerald in secret to become a first class wizard. His first cold field assignment is to find and capture a deadly saboteur. At the same time Princess Melissande and Emmerabiblia Markham open up one stop one shop Witches Incorporated to handle all matters of bewitching. Once again, Gerald while Reg pecks at his brain, and Melissande with never silent Biblia at her side (well almost) work on the same case just representing different clients.

The second Rogue Agent fantasy is an amusing enjoyable tale filled with a strong albeit reluctant lead character and solid support players who are purposely uses hyperbole to satirize the genre. The story line is fast-paced as the accidental sorcerer is on his first official case; keep in mind preventing a war between a superpower and the kingdom employing you does not count as that was not in his job description at the time. Fans who appreciate a jocular fantasy filled with humor and intrigue and more humor will want to read the lighthearted continuing adventures of Gerald and his acerbic bird-brained sidekick. Harriet Klausner

Redemption Alley
Lilith Saintcrow
Orbit, Jul 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316035460

Having just rescued a teen from a Trader, Hunter Jill Kismet knows her vocation allows no vacation. Her Santa Luz police department contact Detective Montaine asks Jill to look into the suicide of a cop; Officer Marvin Kutchner ate his Glock two months ago. The deceased has not returned from the grave so is outside of Kismet’s cases. However, Montaine says Kutchner was his partner at one time and he would never take his own life. Kismet notices the popular police candy Tums unopened and the police hydrator whiskey almost filled so decides to help her contact obtain closure by investigating the death so that the bottles remain practically filled.

The simple case turns convoluted and deadly as allies prove false and enemies prove loyal. Cops want her dead and Hellbreed have damning information they offer to her. As she digs deeper and deeper, Jill finds links to disappearances and begins to uncover a hellish conspiracy that places the city in danger unless she can finish peeling back the onion in time with the help of another Hunter and some Were.

The third invigorating Jill Kismet investigative urban fantasy is as vivid and violent as the previous thrillers (see NIGHT SHIFT and HUNTER’S PRAYER) in this action-packed take no prisoners without blood flowing saga. The story line is faster than the speed of light as the heroine jumps feet first into the hellish fire as nothing is what it seems. Filled with great twists, Lilith Saintcrow provides a stunning Kismet entry as the Hunter affirms Schwartz’s tenet that Murphy is a god damn optimist. Harriet Klausner

Murphy's Law & Others

Murphy's Laws

1. Law of Mechanical Repair - After your hands become coated with grease, your nose will begin to itch and you'll have to use the bathroom.

2. Law of Gravity - Any tool, nut, bolt, or screw, when dropped, will roll to the least accessible corner.

3. Law of Probability - The probability of being watched is directly proportional to the stupidity of your act.

4. Law of Random Numbers - If you dial a wrong number, you never get a busy signal and someone always answers.

5. Law of the Alibi - If you tell the boss you were late for work because you had a flat tire,the very next morning you will have a flat tire.

6. Variation Law - If you change lines (or traffic lanes), the one you were in will always move faster than the one you are in now (works every time).

7. Law of the Bath - When the body is fully immersed in water, the telephone rings.

8. Law of Close Encounters - The probability of meeting someone you know increases
dramatically when you are with someone you don't want to be seen with.

9. Law of the Result - When you try to prove to someone that a machine won't work, it will.

10. Law of Biomechanics - The severity of the itch is inversely proportional to the reach.

11. Law of the Theater and Hockey Arena - At any event, the people whose seats are
farthest from the aisle arrive last, and they are the ones who will leave their seats several times to go for food, drink, or the bathroom and who leave early before the end of the performance or the game is over. Those in the aisle seats come early, never move once, have long gangly legs or big bellies, and stay to the bitter end of the performance and beyond. The aisle people also are very surly folk.

12. The Starbucks Law - As soon as you sit down to a cup of hot coffee, your boss will ask you to do something that will last until the coffee is cold.

13. Murphy's Law of Lockers - If there are only two people in a locker room, they will have adjacent lockers.

14. Law of Physical Surfaces - The chances of an open-faced jelly sandwich landing face down on a floor covering are directly correlated to the newness and cost of the carpet/rug.

15. Law of Logical Argument - Anything is possible if you don't know what you are talking about.

16. Brown's Law of Physical Appearance - If the clothes fit, they're ugly.

17. Oliver's Law of Public Speaking - A closed mouth gathers no feet.

18. Wilson's Law of Commercial Marketing Strategy - As soon as you find a product that you really like, they will stop making it.

19. Doctors' Law - If you don't feel well and make an appointment to go to the doctor, by the time you get there you'll feel better. Don't make an appointment and you'll stay sick.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sorry for not posting

Sorry for not posting. Been having eye problems and headaches the past few days. Almost back to normal.

Here are some reviews from Harriet to tide you over.

Semper Human
Ian Douglas
Eos, May 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 0061238643

Across the galaxy, all hell has exploded with many colonial planets and other orbital habitats in jeopardy; billions could die. The Galactive Associative has tried to maintain the peace and prevent internal hostilities from destroying much of humanity, but the leaders recognize they failed especially after the Xul Incursion in 4004. One year later they call for desperate measures to prevent the beginning of the end as rebels are springing up seemingly everywhere. They awaken General Garroway and his Star Marines from eight and a half centuries of deliberate cybernetic-hibernation sleep; a super squad who chose cybernation in 3152 in case they were ever needed again.

However, the almost millennia induced coma has left Garroway and his United States Marine Corps warriors unprepared for a society in which the rules of engagement they adhered to are considered obsolete by self interested politicians who have plans on manipulating the reanimated marines for personnel power gain as the common good is superseded. Still Garroway and his corps begin the counterattack only to realize the greater peril is not from within or even just the invincible Xul, though great threats to the well being of mankind. A hazard so insidious the past, present and future are simultaneously in danger of being eradicated by the unbeatable Xul and the Great Annihilator whose plan is eliminate any trace that humanity ever lived or lives.

This is the exciting finish to the Inheritance trilogy with the third book (see STAR STRIKE and GALACTIC CORPS) of the third saga (see the novels of the Heritage trilogy and the Legacy Trilogy). The story line is fast-paced and resolves much of what has occurred in the last twelve centuries; answering the key questions in an exhilarating way. Garroway and his unit are terrific, but Ian Douglas continues to show his scorn of politicians as once again cowardly politicos get in the way of the heroic marines so long term fans will finish the saga with the thoughts of well written and very entertaining, but a nagging sense of deja vu. Harriet Klausner

The Law of Nines
Terry Goodkind
Putnam, Aug 18 2009, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399156045

In Orden, Nebraska, artist Alex Rahl notices the woman in the path of a speeding plumbing truck with a dangling pirate flag. She seems ignorant of the fact that the pirates were bearing down on her. He grabs her arm and yanks her back as the vehicle misses her and then abruptly stops. One of the pirates steps out menacingly, but the police arrive at the scene. Alex apologizes to her for hurting her arm, but mentions the near incident; she mysteriously says it was probably no accident.

Jax further explains she has come for Alex from another realm. He is there only hope to save her United States from a magical coup d’etat. However, though attracted to this Jax, Alex says he just a downtrodden just turned twenty-seven year old artist whose recent inheritance should make him at least wealthy. She mentions her world’s technology is magic based rather than engineering-scientific centric. He doubts her tale as she cannot perform even an illusion let alone change the laws of physics until he soon learns the universal law of Good Samaritans to not get involved when Jax’s adversaries cross over with the intention of killing the rebel, her protector, and his loved ones.

THE LAWS OF NINE is a terrific fantasy thriller that stars off at a fast-pace, settles into an explanatory worlds' settings and incredibly accelerates into an action-packed speed of light tale. Alex is fabulous as a skeptic until he and his love ones are literally assaulted and tries to assist the kick butt heroine he just saved. All the action is on this side of reality so the thriller aspects supersede the fantasy elements that are for the most part implied and established for perhaps a sequel on Jax’s world. Terry Goodkind provides fans with a super opening act.
Harriet Klausner

Even Money
Dick Francis and Felix Francis
Putnam, Aug 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155918

The first day of the Royal Ascot horse races gala was like any other opening at the prestigious event and Ted Talbot, his co-worker Luca, and their assistant Betsy are taking book from the punters. Out of the crowd comes an elderly man demanding to speak with Ted. He insists that he is Peter James Talbot, Ted’s father. This is a shocker as Ted was raised by his paternal grandparents who claimed his parents died in a car crash.

Peter informs his still stunned son that he has two half-sisters living in Australia, but before they can get into a car, two thugs demand the older Talbot hand over the money. During the subsequent brawl, James is injured and rushed to the hospital where he dies. Ted goes to his dad’s hotel room and finds proof that his father was involved in an illegal activity. The thugs still demand their loot and the code used on chips that are imprinted and then inserted into the horses. Ted’s life is in jeopardy but he also wants justice for his father and the insurance these punks will not go after him or his loved ones in the future. He ignores the cops because the lead police officer investigating his father’s death assumes he is guilty of something.

Dick and Felix Francis once again affirm that a father-son writing team can provide quality mysteries. Readers are caught up in British horse racing (a trademark of father) and the shenanigans that occur away from the track including some instigated by Ted. Still he receives plenty of empathy as criminals are coming after him as the likely recipient of his father’s legacy, he has a mentally ill wife institutionalized, and a co-worker wanting to be his partner in the family business. With plenty of thrills, chills, and spills EVEN MONEY is a sure bet.
Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 17, 2009

It Was a Dark and Stormy Halloween

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY HALLOWEEN edited by Jean Goldstrom and featuring thirty six tales of Halloween is avaiable starting today. I have a story in the volume and I hope that it will be an outstanding volume. As soon as my copies arrive, I'll try to review it. There is a link to order it at, This is the fourth anthology from Whortleberry that I've had a story in and there is a Christmas anthology on the way as well.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

October Dark review

Here's a review of the new Halloween title forthcoming from Earthling Publications. It's the fifth title in their Halloween series and each one has been a winner. It's terrific. Pre-order it so you don't miss out.

OCTOBER DARK, David Herter, Earthling Publications, $50, 560 pages, ISBN: 9780979505478, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Spectacular! Brilliant! Fan-freakin-tastic! These are the first words that come to mind with this book. Brilliantly researched and knowledgeable. It seems like he has memorized every issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland and the creators of the fantastic in film. Not to even mention his knowledge of Lovecraft and others. Oh yeah, he has some fantastic characters as well. I can’t remember ever reading something so enjoyable and memory touching, I don’t think I have ever called a book a masterpiece before, but this one might just deserve that designation. My review might not be enough to give it that status, but I’m sure you will add to the agreement when you read this book.

Halloween 1977 is approaching and so too is the “secret history of cinema”. Henri Mordaunt, a magician from the 1700s is out to bring back his Rosamunde. He has tried before in 1931 with the help of Willis O’Brien and his two assistants, Tom and Les.

Les Deerton, who worked with O’Brien and many others in stop motion animation has two visitors, Katie and Will (who wants to follow in Deerton’s footsteps), who seek his aid in stopping the return of Mordaunt and the rebirth of Rosamunde.

In 1897, Mordaunt gave a magic show which went tragically wrong and caused the death of 287 people in Grenton – a town of ruined canals and a secret hiding in them. Katie and Will discover some of the history as he works on his model and movie making and seeing STAR WARS every chance he gets.

Herter is a new name to me and may be to you as well, but I don’t think he will remain a stranger for long. Even though the book is a bit longer, there is plenty of action and information to keep you involved. This is the latest addition to the Halloween series of books from Earthling and I have not been disappointed in any of the offerings.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Agent Orange

I don't delve into politics too often. I have my views and you have yours. Sometimes they meet and work together, most of the time it's easier to agree to disagree. I don't believe in shouting at each other or loading the audience with your hand picked people. Let's have an honest discussion and let the FACTS fall where they may. There is not a Democratic or Republic answer. The answer must be for all Americans.

With all that being said, here is an article reposted from VA Watchdog dot org. The true will come out, even if it takes 40 years. If you look at the way the government takes care of our veterans and find out how extremely difficult it is to get on disability when overwhelming proof is there, THAT should be enough to make you question "government sponsored HEALTH CARE".

I freely admit that I'm a Viet Nam vet with Agent Orange issues. I would be happy to read any of your comments. Send them to


Dow Chemical employee: "This material is exceptionally toxic; it has a tremendous potential for producing chloracne and systemic injury."

Note from Larry Scott, VA Watchdog dot Org ... This information is no surprise to any Vietnam veteran. But, to the uninitiated, it is an excellent tutorial on how veterans of Vietnam have been jerked around by the government and the chemical corporations for over 40 years. Use our search engine for more about Agent Orange.

Chemical companies, US authorities knew dangers of Agent Orange

Those responsible for exposing Vietnamese citizens and US troops to toxic defoliants kept silent about known health implications, a review of documents finds.

US chemical companies that made Agent Orange and the government and military authorities who ordered its spraying on Vietnam knew the human health toll it could take, according to official and unofficial documents detailing the history of the deadly defoliant.

A review of the documents related to the use of Agent Orange – a dioxin-laden herbicide – in Vietnam, including decades-old declassified papers from the companies that manufactured it and the government and military that used it, provides compelling evidence that those in charge also concealed evidence of the devastating effects it could have on people.

Mum’s the word

A declassified letter by V.K. Rowe at Dow’s Biochemical Research Library to Bioproducts Manager Ross Milholland dated June 24, 1965 clearly states that the company knew the dioxin in their products, including Agent Orange, could hurt people.

In reference to 2,4,5,-trichlorophenol and 2,3,7,8, -tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (components of Agent Orange), Rowe stated:

“This material is exceptionally toxic; it has a tremendous potential for producing chloracne and systemic injury.”

Rowe worried the company would suffer if word got out.

“The whole 2,4,5-T industry would be hard hit and I would expect restrictive legislation, either barring the material or putting very rigid controls upon it.”

So he said the company should keep quiet about the toxicity: “There is no reason why we cannot get this problem under strict control and thereby hopefully avoid restrictive legislation ... I trust you will be very judicious in your use of this information. It could be quite embarrassing if it were misinterpreted or misused ... P.S. Under no circumstances may this letter be reproduced, shown, or sent to anyone outside of Dow.”

Dow played its cards right, never getting in serious trouble. The spraying of Agent Orange in Vietnam went on for another six years.

Dow did not return phone calls and emails requesting comment on the Agent Orange issue.


In the latest case of US veterans trying to sue Dow and Monsanto for their cancers related to Agent Orange exposure, Supreme Court Documents related to a petition for a Writ of Certiorari in Daniel Raymond Stephenson, et al., petitioners, v. Dow Chemical Company, Monsanto Company, et al., respondents, further implicates the companies in cover-ups and misinformation.

The petitioners state that the companies knew their dioxins, such as those used in Agent Orange, were harmful and lied about it while concealing information, including the fact that several factory workers had fallen sick after exposure to dioxin.

Several key facts “remain undisputed,” according to the document:

“Respondents never shared the information in their sole possession about health risks attributable to dioxin,” it said.

“Respondents used proprietary, defective manufacturing processes that dangerously contaminated 2,4,5- T with dioxin.” That is, the chemical companies could have manufactured their products without dioxin, as other companies had done, but the process was slower and more expensive, so they chose a more dangerous method.

The companies “secretly tested their products for dioxin and hid its extreme toxicity from the military,” according to the petitioners.

The petitioners stated that the companies had been hiding information during the ongoing court process: “Respondents also misrepresent today’s medical understanding of the injuries caused by exposure to dioxin. Instead of telling this Court that the NAS/IOM has found that numerous cancers have been related to exposure to dioxin-contaminated 2,4,5-T (ingredient in Agent Orange) they quote a twenty-year-old Second Circuit opinion to say: ‘Even today, . . . no . . . evidence that Agent Orange was hazardous to human health.’”

The petitioners said the companies had misrepresented the health effects with “patently false” assertions that none of their workers had gotten sick from dioxin poisoning.

Inside job

Though numerous studies have uncontroversially demonstrated the devastating effects of dioxin exposure on humans, the companies that manufactured Agent Orange have gone out of their way to offer their own unique perspective.

Through 2004, Dow and Monsanto funded several friendly studies by Dr. Alvin L. Young to show that the exposure of US ground forces to Agent Orange should be of minimal health concern.

Young’s schizophrenic reports go back and forth from saying that dioxins are not harmful to saying they are harmful and his largely debunked studies have drawn the scorn of prominent members of the scientific community.

“Young is paid by the chemical companies,” Dr. Wayne Dwernychuk, a retired senior/advisor at Hatfield Consultants, told Thanh Nien Daily. “I don’t believe a word he says.” Hatfield Consultants is a research leader in the field of contamination from dioxin herbicides in Vietnam.

Not overly concerned

Though reports point to the fact that chemical companies like Dow and Monsanto knowingly hid evidence of dioxin-related medical problems from the government, the declassified 1990 Zumwalt Report suggests that US military experts knew that Agent Orange was harmful at the time of its use.

The report quotes a 1988 letter from Dr. James R. Clary, a former government scientist with the Chemical Weapons Branch, to Senator Tom Daschle. Dr. Clary was involved in designing tanks that sprayed herbicides and defoliants in Vietnam, according to the report.

Clary told Daschle:

“When we (military scientists) initiated the herbicide program in the 1960’s, we were aware of the potential for damage due to dioxin contamination in the herbicide. We were even aware that the ‘military’ formulation had a higher dioxin concentration than the ‘civilian’ version due to the lower cost and speed of manufacture. However, because the material was to be used on the ‘enemy,’ none of us were overly concerned. We never considered a scenario in which our own personnel would become contaminated with the herbicide. And, if we had, we would have expected our own government to give assistance to veterans so contaminated.”

Chemical warfare: calling a spade a spade

Supporters of the US’s Agent Orange Campaign prefer to call it an “herbicide program” rather than chemical warfare. But official documents reveal that the US Senate knew its real name.

In US Senate Congressional Records dated August 11, 1969, a table presented to senators showed that congress clearly classified 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T (main components of Agent Orange) in the Chemical and Biological Warfare category.

The table also includes Cacodylic Acid, a main component of Agent Blue, another chemical sprayed on Vietnam to kill plants, in the official Chemical and Biological Warfare category. The table describes it as “an arsenic-base compound... heavy concentrations will cause arsenical poisoning in humans. Widely used in Vietnam. It is composed of 54.29 percent arsenic.”

As Vietnam War Scholar and US Veteran W.D. Ehrhart put it concisely in a Thanh Nien Daily interview last week: “It would be hard to describe Agent Orange as anything other than a chemical weapon. Dioxin is a chemical.” So is arsenic.

Reported by Jon Dillingham

Friday, August 14, 2009

Diversity in Books

Varied topics in Harriet's reviews this time. These help show the diversity of topics writers use to keep us interested. Enjoy!

The Defector
Daniel Silva
Putnam, Jul 21 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155680

It has been six months since Israeli Agent Gabriel Allon got Colonel Grigori Bulganov, Elena Kharkov and her children out of Russia, but not without a blood bath (see MOSCOW RULES). Allon as the Art restorer Alessio Vianelli is with his new wife Chiara on their honeymoon in Umbria while works on a piece for the Vatican. They are shocked to learn that Grigori, who was given asylum in Britain and saved Allon’s life in Moscow, has vanished. British intelligence believes he was a double agent who returned to Moscow; they hold Allon culpable for any leaks since he brought him to London vouching for the Russian. Gabriel discounts the theory of that the colonel redefected because if so Grigori should never had saved his life; instead he fears something more sinister occurred.

Gabriel assumes that Elena’s irate husband Ivan Kharkov, a billionaire arms dealer and close friend of the Russian President, is behind the kidnapping because he believes Grigori betrayed him professionally and personally. Kharkov is also after Allon, who exposed one of his sales which made him persona non-grata in what the rich Russian considers the civilized nations. The personal stakes are raised dramatically when Kharkov’s assassins abduct Chiara knowing Allon will come for her on their turf. Allon with the backing of Israel, American and Britain plans to rescue his spouse and kill her kidnapper.

Gabriel Allon has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating espionage agents for years in perhaps the best thriller series on the market in the past decade. Besides his being a powerhouse, the women in his circle like his wife also an agent are also competent and strong. The follow up to the super MOSCOW RULES is excellent as the saga of Bulganov takes a radical spin turning personal for Allon. Readers will not have seen that coming once they had escaped from Russia, but as always Daniel Silva provides another great entry that will elate fans who will also wonder how the author can top THE DEFECTOR. Harriet Klausner

Karin Slaughter
Delacorte, Jul 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780385341967

Henry and Judith Codfield are driving home one night when they run into what he assumes was a deer; it turns out to be person hurt badly enough that they take the injured party to Atlanta’s Grady Hospital. Trauma center physician Dr. Sara Linton treats the patient; stabilizing her for surgery. She is shocked at the tortured body of Anna Lindsey whom she tries to save.

Meanwhile as the local police work the burbs for clues, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Detectives Will Trent looks for the site where the torture takes place. When he finds it he realizes another woman was there with the tortured woman. He finds the body of the second woman who was tortured before she committed suicide. Faith Mitchell and Will think the kidnapping of a woman outsider the supermarket is related to their own inquiry. A fourth female fitting the profile of the other three is also missing. Evidence points to the killer abducting the women in pairs and if they don’t find the missing two females within days they will be dead

Once again as in FRACTURED, Will and Faith prove they are a dedicated team who know together they perform much better than separately though they are total opposites; a sort of GBI yin and yang who complement one another by overcoming the other’s weaknesses. The current case of a deranged serial killer is not new, but refreshed by the increasingly frantic hunt by the GBI pair. Reader will enjoy UNDONE, as Karin Slaughter provides a tense police procedural in which the clock is ticking while the killer remains on a twisted schedule. Harriet Klausner

Blood Deep
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2009, $13.95
ISBN: 9780758228796

In 1807 Miranda Bond possesses a unique paranormal skill that few if anyone else can perform. She can return souls to dead people.

However, the Royal Society for the Investigation of Mysterious Phenomena looks at her gift with one member in particular believing she is evil and what she does is an abomination. Without receiving official permission this betrayer of the society’s code of ethics wants to kill her and sets out to do so. Acting like highwaymen members Zayan and Lukos kidnap the betrothed Miranda in an effort to keep her safe from a renegade associate. However, each is attracted to her and wants her as his; they vie with one another trying to win Miranda’s heart and soul; not an easy task when allegedly vampires do not have a soul and hide their heart.

The latest “Blood erotic Regency romantic fantasy is a terrific page turner that will hook the audience from the onset and never releases the reader from literary bondage until the final climax. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in and out of the boudoir. Although numerous returns to previous heroes from BLOOD RED and BLOOD ROSE will confuse newcomers, Sharon page provides another winner with this deep suspense. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Harriet keeps on reviewing

No Fear
Allie Harrison
ImaJinn, May 2009, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417486

Medusa's Island is a tourist attraction with pristine beaches making it look like a paradise. However, five years ago this seemingly Eden was hell. A vampire was killing females, turning them into his kind; the only human to escape was Emma gray who does not remember that Chief of Police James Winchester saved her life. James actually came to this island because as a vampire slayer and vampire he sensed evil, but he failed to kill the master vampire.

Emma remains fearful of the dark, never goes out at night and refuses to allow any male into her home. James has diligently watched over her for the past five years because she is his soul mate even though she keeps him at a distance. He finally breaks through the barriers she constructed around her heart, but conceals the fact he is a vampire as he is unsure how to break the news to her so he decides to let her become more comfortable with him and hopefully fall in love with him. However, before he can complete his plan, the evil returns with both him and Emma sensing the malevolent presence who has come for Emma.

Allie Harrison has written a sensually interesting vampire romance in which the supernatural species consists of evil and good members. James is a perfect hero willing to kill his own kind to save humans; his patience with Emma will have fans adoring him. He has killed hundreds of malevolent vampires while his protecting mortals makes him feel somewhat human again. Readers will enjoy this terrific thriller anticipating how Emma will react to her protector when she learns the truth that he is the same species as the predator coming for her. Harriet Klausner

Greg Cox
Ace, Jul 7 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441017188

The New Gods live on two different worlds: the paradise New Genesis and the hell hole Apokolips that makes Dante’s description seem mild. The ruler of Apokolips is Darkseid, who intends to destroy the multiverse that consists of fifty-two universes; in the end he plans to rule over a new multiverse. There are opposition forces trying to prevent his cataclysmic scheme from happening, but he is currently maneuvering former super humans as expendable chess pawns furthering his chances of success.

Jimmy Olsen suddenly develops super powers that activates when his life is in danger. The Monitor Solomon kidnaps Donna “Wonder Girl” Troy and former Robin, Jason Todd, a bitter young man,. They need to find Ray “Atom” Palmer who vanished due to grief after his wife became mentally insane and became a killer. The Atom holds the key to the survival of all fifty-two multiverses.

This follow-up to INFINITE CRISIS and 52 continues the story of the War between the New Gods with the COUNTDOWN to the end of the multiverse as “we” know it. There are several subplots besides those above including one involving Mary Marvel coming out of a coma and Catwoman coming out of enforced retirement (as did Todd and Troy). Fun and exciting especially for DC fans of the older Crisis on Infinite Earth saga and the Jack Kirby's New Gods pantheon will enjoy the latest novelization of the end of the multiverse; newcomers will be as confused as the original baby boomers were back in the post Silver Age. Harriet Klausner

Bad Things Happen
Harry Dolan
Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam), Jul 23 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155635

David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget. He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal. Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen. He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts. David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends.

Tom obtains David’s help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter’s explanation. Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window. AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura. As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial.

The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else’s plot. The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel. Mindful of the movies' Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan’s fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is “much ado about murder”.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

3 from Harriet

Demons Not Included
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin’s, Jun 2 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312949600

In present day New York City, Half-breed (human and drow elf) Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia investigate supernatural felonies. At night when her darker elf side takes control, she is an elitist Tracker working for Rodan hunting down demons not included in the Underworld.

Nyx and her Tracker peers are shocked when one of her elite teammates is murdered and a human police liaison vanishes. Nyx fears something nasty is coming at the same she mentors a new Tracker Torin, whose essence she cannot read; something she finds intolerable and distrustful. She also hides her attraction to human police detective Adam Boyd, who is working the case; as she assumes he will reject her drow side. As other Trackers die, Nyx panics that the midnight end is now.

Leaving the “Magic” saga behind, Cheyenne McCray begins a new urban fantasy enchantment series with the first Night Tracker thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, yet Ms. McCray introduces fans to her vision of a paranormal New York City through the investigations. Nyx is a kick butt heroine who keeps the exhilarating plot focused on the inquiry into the serial killing of Trackers. DEMONS NOT INCLUDED is a super extremely dark Manhattan supernatural police procedural. Harriet Klausner

Succubus Heat
Richelle Mead
Kensington, Jun 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758231994

In Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid remains stunned by the betrayal of her boyfriend writer Seth Mortensen who slept with her best friend Maddie; make that ex boyfriend and ex BFF (see SUCCUBUS DREAM). However, her boss archdemon Jerome is tired of her negativity as a succubus must be upbeat and her inability to suck souls as that is why a succubus lives so he exiles her to Vancouver to work for a less tolerant rival with instructions to perform industrial espionage.

However, back in Seattle, a Satanist cult has performed some spectacular seemingly supernatural events. Several of her peers and paranormal associates have vanished including Jerome. Currently more human than hell spawn, Georgina knows she must act starting with finding and saving Jerome before civil war breaks out over who’s in charge. Also Seth wants a second chance with his beloved to include sex; she considers going for it with her on top since she no longer can suck his soul from him.

The latest Succubus urban fantasy (see SUCCUBUS DREAMS and SUCCUBUS BLUES) is an engaging Seattle thriller starring the intelligent but frazzled Georgina. Nothing goes right for the heroine as she has lost her skill, her boyfriend, her best friend, and her boss. However, instead of wallowing in self pity, she searches for Jerome to keep the political-industrial hell spawn complex from overt hostilities. Although the story line contains too many cul de sacs, which in fairness adds realism to the heroine’s probe, fans of the series will enjoy Georgina amateur sleuth. Harriet Klausner

Dead Men’s Boots
Mike Carey
Grand Central, Jul 23 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780446580328

London exorcist Felix “Fix” Castor attends the funeral of his possessed friend John Gittings when a fancy dressed lawyer Maynard Todd arrives with a court order authorizing cremation; the widow Carla asks Fix to prevent the disinterring of her spouse’s body. The spirit remains in his body’s home.

Fix is at the Magistrate Court supporting the contention of Pam “Pen” Bruckner that she has power of attorney for possessed Rafael Ditko. However, Professor Jenna-Jane Mulbridge has a counter claim insisting Rafi is unsafe to free from her asylum where she researches the paranormal. Judge Runcie realizes there are two issues with his legal focus on a review panel, angering Pam and satisfying Jenna-Jane for now.

Janie Hunter wants to hire Fix to prove her husband Doug did not commit the rape and murder that he has been accused of and arrested for. She insists that American serial killer Myriam Seaforth Kale performed the deeds although she has been dead for four decades. Fix knows the MO in the brutal King’s Cross rape-murder is exactly that described of Kale. So he assumes somehow the odious evil came back, but how and where she is stymies the exorcist because he fears a repeat that he wants to prevent. However, Fix’s inquiry assisted by Juliet the succubus and Nicky the paranoid zombie leads him to something even darker crossing over.

This London based urban fantasy thriller contains three prime subplots that grip the reader from the moment the body of Gittings is interred and never slows down as every move the exorcist makes seems increasingly dangerous. The story line is fast-paced as Fix works his inquiries. Sub-genre fans will enjoy his escapades and seek his previous two caseloads (see Vicious Circle and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW). Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three from Harriet

Three from Harriet. More later

In Ashes Lie
Marie Brennan
Orbit, Jun 10 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316020329

In 1666 having survived the Great Plague of last year, England is now wracked by civil war as King Charles II and the Parliament battle over who is in charge. Underneath, ironically the faerie Onyx Court faces an uncertain future as the Ancient ways that have sustained them for ages is ripping apart.

In London a baker Thomas Farynor has banked the fires of his ovens to go sleep. While he is sleeping, a spark escapes turning London into an inferno. He and his daughter Hanna flee into the night. At the same that the city is burning down, another threat has arisen to both the human and Fae occupants of greater London. This annihilator destroys anything in its path; to survive and perhaps defeat this invincible foe, the mortals and the fairies must unite, but neither side trusts the other.

Based on the real event of the Great Fire of 1666, IN ASHES LIE is a superb historical urban fantasy that grips readers who will feel transported back in time due to the vivid atmosphere that makes the seventeenth century human and Fae London seem alive and real. The story line is fast-paced as a deadly inferno threatens the mortal Londoners and an even deadlier malevolence threatens both species. Sub-genre fans will relish this exhilarating Restoration Era thriller and seek its prequel (see the Elizabethan Era MIDNIGHT NEVER COMES). Harriet Klausner

Warren Fahy
Delacorte, Jun 16 2009, $25.00
ISBN: 9780553807530

On board the ship Trident are the crew of the reality TV show SeaLife and several scientists who were promised a year of sort of Darwin like research into the exotic ocean and island life on the planet in exchange for filming the contacts. So far, the voyage into the South pacific has been filled with ennui until a beacon help signal comes from nearby Henders Island. The vessel heads there to assist those in need.

However, what greets the seafarers is a shocker. There is flora and fauna like nothing ever seen anywhere else on the planet. As several scientists are killed by the intelligent animal life, botanist Nell Duckworth realizes what has happened on this remote island; evolution took a different path approximately a half billion years ago and miraculously survived. As the US Navy blockades the island and quarantines the Trident fearing anything escaping could prove hazardous to the rest of the world’s ecosystem, the natives prove sentient and resourceful as they seek off the island.

Though an obvious link to Jurassic Park, FRAGMENT takes a different scientific spin using evolution as the basis of what lives on the island. Warren Fahy provides an exciting story line yet loads his narrative with scientific terminology and theories without dumbing it down. Readers will appreciate this super science fiction thriller that explains the evolution of reproduction and the possibility of such an island like Henders existing with the unique marsupial population of Australia that superseded mammals as the dominant species. Science and fiction rarely blend together better than this winning thriller. Harriet Klausner

Seduce the Darkness
Gena Showalter
Pocket, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 1416531645

Targonia Royal House Prince Devyn de bon ci Laci had spent what seemed several lifetimes being in trouble with his royal father for his womanizing of any female of any species in spite of his being betrothed to Princess Mika since birth. Now he is an agent of AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal).

Bride McKellis grew up on the streets rather fast during the Alien-Human war, but now almost eight decades later the vampiric survivalist lives in New Chicago. She smells a special odor that reminds her of her long time friend Aleha Love whom she has not seen in sixteen years. She chases after the aroma, which leads her to the egomaniacal Devyn, still a womanizer and tries to pick her up though he is Targon and she is human; and he takes her underground so she can meet more. He also knows her blood is critical to save some friends of his, but he to his shock is falling in love; she fell in love when they were still on the streets of New Chicago. As Bride begins to comprehend who she truly is, she fears she must choose between love and her destiny to save the world.

SEDUCE THE DARKNESS is a super futuristic romantic thriller that takes an interesting urban fantasy spin from the previous Alien Investigation and Removal science fiction entries (see the Alien Huntress and Teen Alien Huntress saga). The story line is fast-paced but it is the pairing of Devyn and Bride that makes the tale fun to read as ironically the womanizer has finally met his woman, but she is destiny’s darling. Gena Showalter fans will enjoy her latest New Chicago tale that twists the series into a wider range of future possibilities. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 9, 2009

New Reviews

Here are some reviews of the books I've been reading. Just finished another one and I'll try to get it up tomorrow. Enjoy!

GOOD NIGHT & GOD BLESS, Volume One, Trish Clark, Hidden Spring, $20, 243 pages, ISBN: 9781587680533, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In June, 1970, Trish Clark arrives in Rome only to find her preferred hostel full. She is directed to a nearby convent as an alternate place to stay. This is the beginning of her journey into the creation of this book. It is one book I would recommend to someone traveling to Austria, the Czech Republic or Italy if they want to see the real people and sights of the countries.

The book is broken down into three sections, one for each country and lists the available convents and monasteries scattered throughout the area. There are brief descriptions of the accommodations, rates, phone numbers for reservations, and local historical spots. It also lists local eateries and their specialties.

In addition to the featured locales, there is a listing of other hotels in the area in case you decide on the traditional fare; Clark breaks each area into open houses, spiritual retreats and pilgrimages depending on how religious you wish you experience to be.

Just think, in Austria you can see where Adolf Hitler sold his paintings or scenes where THE THIRD MAN took place, In the Czech Republic there are still examples of Cubist architecture and the brewery where, in 1880, Emperor Franz Joseph proclaimed the brew “excellent”. In Italy, there is a hotel which was designed by Michelangelo. These are not the types of things that you may discover in other guide books.

There are also pictures, maps, an index and even a recipe to add to the value and enjoyment of this volume. Put this one on your list if you are planning a trip or know someone who is. Or, maybe just get it for yourself and create a dream or two.

THE BOOK OF SWORDS, Hank Reinhardt, Baen Books, $20, 238 pages, ISBN: 9781439132821, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Here is everything you need to know about swords and sword making, their history and facts, and its myth and romance. Hank Reinhardt was one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about swords because he studied them made them and used them in order to expand his understanding and knowledge.

This book takes us on a historical journey on the development of swords from their material, their shape, the wounds created, and the shields and armor developed to protect the sword user. Broadswords, shortswords, rapiers, the katana and exotic swords are also examined.

Many of us who knew Hank understood his interest in swords and how he sought to gain as much knowledge as he could. This book is his legacy to any and everyone who wants to see that knowledge put on display. Highly recommended.

IN THEIR BLOOD, Sharon Potts, Oceanview, $25.95, 354 pages, ISBN: 9781933515625, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Jeremy Stroeb’s parents have just returned from visiting him in Spain and are spending their first night back at home when they are murdered in their beds. They are discovered by his sister, Elise, who had snuck out to see her boyfriend.

Jeremy arrives home after the funeral because his uncle did not want to wait for him. This only adds to his distrust of his uncle, especially when he announces he will become Elise’s guardian. Jeremy vows that his will not happen.

Jeremy takes a job at his mothers CPA firm and enrolls in night classes at the college where his father taught in order to search for clues as to who wanted his parents dead. He hooks up with his father’s graduate assistant in putting together a list of suspects due to his political leanings. Jeremy initially feels that his father was the target and his mother was collateral damage.

At the CPA offices Jeremy finds that his mothers office has not been touched and as he begins looking at her files while boxing them up, he begins to wonder about one of his mother’s clients who also happens to be the father of Elise’s boyfriend.

Sharon Potts has written a fast moving novel that is interesting and keeps you on the edge of your seat as it starts out running and keeps up the pace to the ending. It’s an intriguing tale of a youth having to grow up too fast and keep his sister safe. This is a terrific first novel and I hope there are many more novels from Sharon Potts to come.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reviews by Harriet

Jeremy Robinson
St. Martin’s, May 26 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312540289

In Peru the mythological Hydra of Hercules' tasks fame is found in Peru alive though in some form of sleep. Manifold Genetic CEO Richard Ridley wants to awaken the deadly beast as he has a plan to use the creature’s DNA to make humans immortal.

His firm steals the find and kidnaps the archaeologist associated with the dig Dr. George Pierce. He has the Hydra and the archeologist taken to a lab he set up on Tristan da Cunha, an island in the South Atlantic. The American government is concerned so it assigns Deep Blue to send in the elite of the Delta Force, the Chess Team unit headed Jack “King” Sigler and the rest of his “pieces” to invade and capture the Hydra and save the archeologist. They soon find themselves battling reengineered reptile like crawlers, and two and four legged beasts that regenerate body parts.

Combining mythology with Jurassic Park, PULSE is an over the top action-packed thriller that will have readers hooked from start to finish as one escapade leads to another and another, etc as the story line never takes a breather. The Chess Team unit knows anyone of them can be turned into an expendable pawn as the mission comes before their individual lives. Readers will enjoy the adventures of the King and his “pieces” as they try to prevent a potential pandemic catastrophe. Harriet Klausner

HotHouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire
Margot Berwin
Knopf, Jun 16 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9780307377845

Thirty two years old New York career woman Lila Nova used to enjoy her advertising job, but lately the divorcee is finding it tedious. However, she perks up when she meets David Exley selling tropical plants at the local farmer’s market. She already enjoyed plants, but until now never bought any; she purchases one of his offerings.

She notices at a Laundromat a rare fern in the window. The owner Armand makes friends with Lila and gives her a trimming from the fern. He promises her if the fern grows, he will show her his special nine plants. David sees the fern in her apartment and Lila tells him about Armand. Soon afterward, Armand’s plants are stolen and David has vanished. Using guilt and remorse as motivators Armand persuades Lila to accompany him to the Yucatan to obtain new magical plants. There she meets Diego.

This is an intriguing thriller that takes an unexpected magical spin from a New York adventure into a Mexican semi-fantasy tale. The story line is fun in spite of Lila being too loose as she leaps on one man after another and the plot never deciding which genre is on top. Still HOTHOUSE FLOWER AND THE 9 PLANTS OF DESIRE is an engaging odd thriller with one wild twist that takes a bit of adjusting, but worth the effort for those who relish something radically different with their New Yorkers.
Harriet Klausner

DFF: Dead Friends Forever
J. R. Turner
Echelon, Mar 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781590806258

In Wisconsin, Marsden Middle School skateboard fanatic Kaylee Hensler wants to skate in the nearby park, but several bullies led by Jimmy the Giant refuse to allow anyone on their turf. She challenges several of the boys to a skate off, but instead Jimmy dares her to enter haunted Larson House and take something form the top floor; though she knows this is insane she accepts.

Her best friend wheelchair bound Davey tells her this is insane and Kaylee agrees. Still she enters the house, goes up to the third floor, finds a mirror, and thinks all is well until a young teenage ghost scares her. She flees, but begins seeing the ghost elsewhere. Davey learns the ghost is probably Isabelle Larson killed in 1897 by Clarence Stillwell. As she tries to help the spirit an evil paranormal essence wants to stop her and her parents, her swimming team coach and her dwindling friends believe Kaylee has lost her mind while Isabelle wants to be her BFF; only neighbor Madame Maggie and Davey understand that there is a paranormal presence.

This is a terrific young adult horror thriller starring an intrepid heroine and a strong support cast including her DFF. The story line is fast-paced with a great finish as Kaylee knows if she survives she still has to explain to rational skeptics. The key characters are fully developed so readers understand them and their motivations. Though her parents are purposely exaggerated so that they come across as how their daughter perceives them, this makes them act stilted. Still fans will enjoy Kaylee’s dilemma. Harriet Klausner