Monday, November 30, 2009

More Interesting Reviews

More from Harriet. Hope all is well.

The Return of the Black Company
Glen Cook
Tor, Sep 15 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765324009

“Bleak Seasons”. The Black Company is under siege inside Dejagore with their leader Croaker probably dead. Murgen takes charge at a time when the Shadowlander horde assaults them and treachery from inside the company and from other trapped groups insidiously attack them. Their situations is perilous and their trust in Murgen as their leader is shaky as he has been their chronicler annalist; an expert on their history but not ever in charge.

“She Is the Darkness”. Croaker, the sorceress Lady, and the Black Company are in trouble as they are diverted from their enemy to battle other evil entities. This leaves them vulnerable to the malevolent Shadowmaster Soulcatcher, Howler and the Stranglers as they set a diabolical trap to eradicate the Black Company and their sorcery practitioner allies.

These are reprints of the first half of the Glittering Stone saga. Each tale is entertaining for fans who have read previous entries (see the omnibus CHRONICLES OF THE BLACK COMPANY and BOOKS OF THE SOUTH); newcomers will find it a bit difficult to understand what is going on. Still these are enjoyable military fantasy thrillers as the Black Company tries to simply survive against overwhelming odds.
Harriet Klausner

Blood Kin
Maria Lima
Juno (Pocket), Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439156766

Keira Kelly belongs to Clan Kelly, a family of magic users who look human, but cannot breed with them. She is at Wild Moon Ranch in Texas with her lover Adam the vampire king of his tribe when she undergoes the Change. Normally that brings the person one paranormal power, but in her case the Change provides her with all the diverse powers her clan mates possess. This makes her the heir to the clan leader so she must leave behind her beloved vampire for a little while and heed her Great-Great Grandmother Gigi’s call to head to Vancouver.

Gideon, Keira’s evil ex lover, is dying. Gigi asks Keira to escort him to her mother’s side if they can’t heal him. A Sidhe Seelie Daffyd ap Geraint accompanies them. When they are sitting in a vehicle he disappears. Only Keira heard the song which means the Sidhe called back Daffyd. In Vancouver near the entrance to Faerie an Unseelie Sidhe is killing the homeless stealing their essence. Keira and her entourage hunt down the killer as she learns more about her heritage and Gigi’s plans for her include uniting with Others.

This is a great urban fantasy as Maria Lima uses British Columbia to the fullest and cleverly keeps Gigi off the page until the end yet her presence seems everywhere. Gigi is a kind ruler whose strategic goal is the uniting of the paranormal species so as to end their hostilities; she believes her descendent is the key. Keira is terrific as the confused “coming of age” heroine who seems to be in ever paranormal being’s crosshairs. Ms. Lima’s tale is a special romantic suspense fantasy on a par with the best works of Laurel K. Hamilton and Kelly Armstrong. Harriet Klausner

The Renegade Hunter
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061474316

For centuries, Nicholas Argeneau was one of the best vampire hunters tracking down those who broke the immortal law. Fifty years ago, he quit and apparently turned rogue.

However, when a vampire attacks mortal bar manager Josephine Willan, Nicholas cannot stop himself from getting involved; he rescues her and cannot resist stealing a kiss. He quickly learns what happens with good Samaritans when he is captured by agents of the Vampire Council who wipe out Jo’s memory of the event and them. As Nicholas awaits trial, Jo regains the memory of their kiss. She helps him escape. However, when his Uncle Lucian Argeneau learns who she is to Nicholas, he uses her as a lure to recapture the rogue. Once again Lucien and Nicholas underestimates Jo, who feels her well being is best taken care of at Nicholas’ side even as she tries to learn why the kindhearted vampire was declared a rogue.

This is an intriguing Rogue Hunter romantic urban fantasy with the only known Argeneau to go rogue starring with his life mate as the audience learns why. Adding to the fun of the family reunion is a degree of connection as her sister and his former associate Mortimer are engaged (see THE ROGUE HUNTER). The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when he rescues her and she accuses him of the “penis-eye thing” and never looks back (pun intended). Series readers will fully enjoy the superb tale of the intrepid human and the vampire forced to come out of the cold now that he has found his life mate. Harriet Klausner

V, the Series and more reviews

My TIVO was getting full of things I'd been saving to watch, so I watched all four episodes of the new V series. I'm not sure they are doing the right thing by showing four episodes and then waiting for March, 2010 to bring it back, but it is interesting. The plot is up to date and relevant with today's political scene.

Wild Magic, Ann Macela, Medallion, Oct 1 2009, $7.95, ISBN: 9781933836997

In Chicago, Irenee Sabel works as an event planner, but is also a witch who enforces the codes of magic usage especially those evil artifacts outlawed. She is assigned to destroy the cataclysm stone; her first solo major act.

Irenee attends a party thrown by an alleged ancient warlock Alton Finster whose safe supposedly contains an evil relic. She sneaks away from the gala using an invisibility spell to conceal her movement in order to break into the safe. However, she is caught by Department of Homeland Security Agent Jim Tylan, who is legally searching for financial records to attack Finster, the man he blames for his sister’s death. Somehow he sees her in spite of her cloaking. As they team up, she believes he has some magic skills and is her soul mate, but first they must make the world safe from a malevolent mage.

The latest Defends & Swords Magic romantic urban fantasy (see YOUR MAGIC OR MINE?) is an engaging tale as Irenee is as stunned as Jim is when he sees the “glowing” handbag and the invisible sorceress holding it. Filled with magical and romantic mayhem, fans of Ann Macela’s fun series will enjoy the latest entry as Chicago’s historical Gold Coast is the focus of WILD MAGIC. Harriet Klausner

Tempest Rising, Nicole Peeler, Orbit, Nov 1 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 9780316056588

Rockabill, Maine is a small town that is home to the local pariah Jane True. The townsfolk hold her culpable for the death of her lover Jason, but not as much as she blames herself. She never told him that she can swim in the icy water and not feel the cold. During one of her nocturnal swims, Jason saw her and tried to rescue her but died in the whirlpool Old Saw.

One night while swimming, she rescues a body from Old Saw. When she brings the body out of the water she realizes the dead victim is Peter who came to town to write a book. When she goes back to her place on the beach she meets Nell the gnome, a talking dog Anyan and a kelpie. They explain to Jane that her mom is a Selkie who after six years on land returned to the sea and her seal form. An outside investigator arrives in Rockabil to inquire into the drowning death of Peter, a halfling like Jane. When she meets Ryu the vampire, they fall into instant lust. His assignment gets complicated when a goblin arrives to take over his mission but the goblin is killed as is her superior. Peter apparently was working on a halfling project; which Ryu feels is tied to the Alfar elves who rule the supernatural world, but Jane never expected to be thrust into the center of an eerie schism that could kill her and tear asunder the supernatural realm.

Readers who enjoy the Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine and the Sookie saga by Charlaine Harris will want to read the misadventures of Jane True. The two decades or so heroine copes with an inner strength with one tragedy after another, but the serial murders of halflings frighten her like nothing before. Although perhaps too much paranormal is introduced in this fun first urban fantasy whodunit, fans will enjoy the terrific TEMPEST RISING in the Pine Tree State. Harriet Klausner

Seduced By Shadows, Jessa Slade, Signet, Oct 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 9780451228284

Her life was never that good especially after her mother committed suicide and her father proved pathetic while her brothers fled the family. However, Sera Littlejohn’s life became worse when she is crippled in an accident; now she lives every moment with unbearable pain and a struggle to get around.

Although she had not thought much of possession, the demon entices her with healing her battered body by taking it over, which also denotes damned. However, when she meets also possessed Ferris Archer, she finds her soul mate. He, in turn, has never met a demonic-possessed woman although he knows she is his if he does not have to kill her for what is inside her.

The key to the first marked Souls’ romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the demon-angel war fought inside the bodies of humans in places like Chicago is real. Everything else flows from the belief that the Slade realm is genuine with each soul a battlefield. Sera and Archer are a fabulous pairing as each comes into their relationship possessed by demonic baggage. Fans will want to join in the war of souls fought one person at a time except when love brings two souls together.
Harriet Klausner

Riptide, Margaret Carroll, Avon, Oct 2009, $7.99, ISBN: 9780061652776

Alcoholic Christina Cardiff enters rehab in an exclusive facility in the Midwest to deal with her drinking problem. Her school age son Tyler is vacationing in France with his paternal grandparents and her spouse Jason fails to accompany her; instead he chose to remain in the Hamptons or Manhattan. She is not sure which. She is there for a few days when she learns her Wall St spouse Jason is dead found in the pool.

Forced out of rehab and back to East Hampton, she returns to alcohol and her lover Daniel Cunningham. As Daniel takes over much of her life, Christina receives a second shocker when the police suspect her of killing her husband. While she tries to remain sober, she also faces a real threat over custody of Tyler.

This is a powerful vivid character study with no engaging protagonists as the cast is hedonistic and selfish. The profound story line looks deep at a self-destructive individual who has plenty going for her yet seems to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. With a suspenseful final spin into a deadly RIPTIDE, Margaret Carroll provides the audience with a strong thriller. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving Part 2

Still celebrating the holiday with the family.

Grace Hammer
Sara Stockbridge
Norton, Sep 21 2009, $23.95
ISBN: 9780393067187

In 1888 in the Whitechapel section of London Grace Hammer and her children live relatively snug especially when compared with their East End neighbors. She and her kids are expert pickpockets, which is how they fund their fine home.

Having taken purses since she was a child and also training her children to do likewise; Grace has a history; she hopes her past remains buried as some of her victims would like to get back at her if they could find her; which is unlikely because of her residence. However, rusticating not out of choice resides one of her victims, the outraged Mr. Blunt. Years ago a beautiful hooker stole a special treasure from him and he vowed to find her and get back what she purloined and more; as retribution is his. Blunt now knows where she hides and exacts punishment but not by directly targeting her, but like she did with his missing piece take from her what she cherishes most.

This is an engaging late Victorian thriller that in spite of being decades after Oliver Twist took place has a similar sense of locale even with the era and section of London being that of Ripper. The fast-paced tale is at its best when the focus subtly is on the dark atmosphere of the East End underground; on the other hand when Sara Stockbridge indulgently turns poetic with flowery figures of speech GRACE HAMMER loses some of its taut dark edge even when the metaphors and similes are gloomy. Still fans will enjoy this fine historical suspense tale in anticipation of High Noon in Whitechapel. Harriet Klausner

Dead Docket
Mitchell Graham
Forge, Jul 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765322456

They became lovers in New York City (see MAJESTIC DESCENDING), but while John Delaney is a Big Apple law professor, Katherine Adams is an Atlanta lawyer. They miss one another, but keep in contact though long distance relationships are difficult.

Delaney is excited and sad as he has a professional reason to see Katherine. Delaney is heading to Georgia to settle the estate of the daughter of his father’s partner. Apparently Sarah fell off a cliff while camping in Cloudland Canyon in north Georgia Mountains. However, this simple matter turns ugly when Delaney learns O'Connor allegedly stole a file from the US Attorney’s office where she worked as a legal intern; the file contained incriminating evidence against crime boss Warren Blendel. John soon realizes that Sarah’s apartment was searched and that the FBI has kept a case open involving her and her boyfriend Andre Rostov. Not long after that Blendel’s thugs come to Atlanta to bury anyone associated with the evidence. Katherine and John find a tie to his fathers’ death as the case spins further out of control.

Throw away your plausibility meter somewhere on the East Coast and the reader will have a great time going along for the ride of an action-packed thriller. The story line is action-packed and feels at times out of control as Adams and Delaney land in one dangerous disaster after another. Filled with twists, fans will appreciate this entertaining but improbable thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Hunt For Atlantis
Andy McDermott
Bantam, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592856

Her parents were in Tibet in their quest to find Atlantis when they died. Their deaths shook up their daughter archeologist Nina Wilde, who is in New York City when word reaches her. She has no time to grieve as someone tries to kill her.

Former personal security expert Eddie Chase saves her life. Eddie introduces Nina to reclusive billionaire Kristian Frost and his daughter, Kari. Father and daughter are interested in finding the mythical city and are willing to fund the right expedition; they believe Nina is the right person to lead the quest. Seeing this as a legacy for her late parents, she agrees and begins a globetrotting expedition following clues and dodging human perils fostered on her and her team by The Brotherhood of Selasphorus with Eddie’s help.

This globetrotting breakneck speed thriller will have readers thinking of Indiana Jones (Josephine) as the heroine races back and forth onto four continents being chased by the brotherhood every step of the way. Filled with twists the story line is action, action, and more action as THE HUNT FOR ATLANTIS contains a somewhat limited plot, but fans will enjoy trekking the world faster than the speed of light (or at least the bad guys) with Nina. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving and get to enjoy the company of your loved ones. Say a prayer for our Military forces all over the world.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

News from Don Grant Books - New Dark Tower

24 November 2009



Phil Hale visited our office last week and signed copies of the
Gift Edition of INSOMNIA, published by Mark Ziesing.

While they last we are selling them at the regular price of $75
plus shipping. You can order copies, as well as copies of the First
Edition, First Printing, of THE DARK TOWER II: THE DRAW-
ING OF THE THREE signed by Phil Hale at:


Stephen King has announced that he has an idea for a new Dark
Tower book, the working title of which will be THE WIND
THROUGH THE KEYHOLE. He has not yet started this book
and anticipates that it will be a minimum of eight months
before he is able to begin writing it.

This is all the information we have. Please do not call or email
us for further information. We don’t have any.


Artist Editions are still available and can be ordered on-line.
Please don’t ask for a specific number


Gilbert and Edgar on Mars

GILBERT AND EDGAR ON MARS, Eric Brown, PS Publishing, 98 pages, Trade ISBN: 9781906301675, $19.20, Limited ISBN: 9781906301682, $40, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Imagine a meeting of three of Britain’s greatest writers, George Bernard Shaw, Herbert George Wells and Gilbert K. Chesterton (GK to his friends) finishing a night of discussion at the Athenaeum and heading home. Chesterton is approached by an autograph seeker and discovers along the way that he is believed to be Wells. He thinks this will be a good story for their next meeting when is apparent something more sinister is afoot.

Chesterton finds himself in a strange place where the natives consist of red and green men and the entire landscape is a shade of red. Suddenly the wall is blasted open and he is approached by Edgar who helps him make his escape. Edgar explains that that have been brought to Mars at the behest of The Six Philosophers, the last of the original Martian race, in order to read their minds.

We get to meet John Carter and his Princess and through the battle to stop the Manifestations emanating from the Indeterminate Zone that is causing it to grow we discover the true purpose The Six Philosophers are bringing people from Earth.

Our heroes are able to solve the problem of the manifestations and return home. Of course they are given an amnesiac potion so they won’t remember their adventures on Mars; at least, not as true adventures. We all know from the writings of Burroughs and Chesterton, all was not forgotten.

This is a very enjoyable tale and would make a great present for your friends who enjoy the pulpish tales of yesteryear. PS Publishing continues to produce a wide variety of interesting titles. Check out their website,, for their other offerings.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Mercedes Lackey and others

More from Harriet

Personal Demons
Gregory Lamberson
Medallion, Oct 1 2009, $7.95
ISBN: 9781605420721

The Cipher is a psychopathic serial killer who takes perverse extra pleasure with seeing the face of terror on his victims. He slices their throats with a caring tenderness; takes a photo of their fear-ridden face; and finally kills them. Afterward he uses the picture to have a likeness tattooed on his body so he carries their soul with him that he steals just when they die.

Jake Helman is a fallen cop who uses cocaine to take the edge off the demons that haunt his soul. His wife Sheryl is irate with him and is threatening to leave him. Although he cares about her and what she will do, he remains diligent with stalking the Cipher. Billionaire Nicholas “Old Nick” Tower needs a Chief of Security to protect his genetic engineering corporation; he learns of Jake and hires him, which saves his marriage but not his soul as the Tower Corporation takes him away from the Cipher hunt, but soon the soul searching former cop has a new evil to investigate.

This taut serial killer horror thriller hooks readers from the onset and as the tension grows the audience becomes deeper involved. The cast is strong especially the Cipher who is an incredible villain with no doubts or bouts of remorse while his adversary is crippled with doubts and bouts of remorse; throw in aptly named Old Nick into the mix. Each has crutches with Cipher being the tattoos and Jake cocaine and alcohol. Fans will appreciate this edgy dark thriller anticipating the gruesome confrontation between evil and fallen good. Harriet Klausner

Mercedes lackey
DAW, Oct 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780756405854

Gwenhwyfar is the daughter of King Lleeudd, the nominal vassal to King Arthur, who is struggling to unite England while fighting off the Saxon incursion. Her mother follows the old ways while Arthur straddles the line between the pagan past and the followers of Christ. Gwenhwyfar has a younger sister Gwenhwyfach who hates her goes off with Morgana to learn the magic of the Old ways. The good daughter is heavily imbued with power and it is thought she would go study at the school of the Ladies of the Well.

However Gwen is told she is touched by another Goddess Epora who is worshipped by warriors as the horse goddess. Gwen turns her back on magic and with her father’s consent, becomes a warrior. Over time she becomes the head of her father’s army respected by the men as their best warrior. For years she has done what makes her happy but when Arthur’s second wife dies without an heir, Gwen is the chosen one as his next spouse. Arthur’s bastard son kidnaps her and the leader of the Otherworld with the assistance of a priest helps her escape. She must return to a husband who she does not love in a land on the brink of war with her sister Gwenhwyfach amongst the enemy.

Mercedes Lackey has written her version of King Arthur who is an old man married to a young woman in order to begat his heir. He is far from the hero of legend especially with his treatment of his wives. Gwenhwyfar is a courageous hardened warrior who plans military strategy for her father in a world where Christ is displacing the old ways, she tries to treat both camps fairly although she possesses some of the magic of the Sisters. This is a brilliant feminist twist to the Arthurian saga. Harriet Klausner

The Test
Patricia Gussin
Oceanview, Oct 5 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781933515199

In Philadelphia, the family of the late famous billionaire philanthropist Paul Parnell gathers for the reading of his will. He had outlived the three women in his life before dying at seventy-five. His first spouse Katherine died in 1963 giving him his two oldest children Daniel and Francis. His second significant other Monica expired in 1995 but they divorced two decades after one offspring, Monica. Finally his last marriage was to Vivian who past away three years earlier after leaving him with three kids (Rory, Ashley and Carla).

The estate is enormous, but his adult children and those with spouses are stunned by what the executor explains to them. Paul felt he neglected his family and decided to “test” them. His five legitimate heirs are further disturbed to lean of his illegitimate offspring Monica. The angriest is Frank and his wife Meredith as they planned on his presidential run funded somewhat by the inheritance. The stipulation is simple: each must give back to society over the next year in order to deserve a share of the billions. Taking advantage of the confusion is avaricious psychiatrist Dr. Conrad Welton who plots to marry Ashley. Let the fun begin.

THE TEST is Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None in a sort of Dynasty Survival contest in the first two years of this century. The story line is driven by the ensemble cast who by their varying behavior seem genuine though most of them spoiled as they cause twists to the plot compounded by a serpent in the battle to own Eden. Readers will enjoy Patricia Gussin’s entertaining tale as Paul wanted to just get his children to give back and not just take, but he could not have known how deadly his test would prove to some of his children and their spouses. Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 23, 2009

Circlet Press - Like a Corset Undone

LIKE A CORSET UNDONE, Steampunk Erotica, edited by J. Blackmore, Circlet Press,, 189 pages, $5.99, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Circlet Press is the leader in erotic fiction with its various anthologies and has distinguished itself with the various steampunk anthologies it has published over the past few years. This volume is no exception and will only add to its reputation and to J. Blackmore’s editorial skills. She knows how to pick a story and this volume shows her at the top of her form.

In Peter Tupper’s “The Pretty Horsebreaker” Miss Ccri has an assignation with the “Hero of the Empire” and ends up helping his widow recover the 21st chapter of his translation of “The Perfumed Garden” in order to sell his papers and assure a comfortable life.

In “Adventures Underground” by Carlanime Bligh, Molly Thistle – one of Miss Mannerly’s ladies in waiting – is a rebel using the sewers to help the Aesthetic Alliance cause disruption of services. When caught, she must do whatever it takes to avoid being turned over to the authorities.

R. E. Bonds story of “The Sky Dancer” takes place after the attempted Martian Invasion and how one scientist pays the captain of a fighting airship for her rescue and passage to Hong Kong to meet her father.

“Skyway Robbery” by Angelica Sparrow & Naomi Brooks tells of a modern day Robin Hood and his Merry Men who follow the original creed to take from the rich. Each of the crew is named after the original members, some are not as they seem. I was excited to see a mention of a book on re-animation by Herbert West. It is small touches like that to add enjoyment to a story. After a successful robbery, Robin likes to celebrate with Will and Marion.

Jasmine Dale’s “The Tinkers Lady” shows that even in a progressive society, some inventors are driven underground in order to do their work. Georgiana is saved by one of these after a steamboat sinks and she finds the adventure she was looking for.

“The Zeppelin Raider” by Roxy Katt examines a young girl’s questions about zeppelins, armor and pallogynes (females with male members). She is able to satisfy her curiosity in an artistic and physical manner when comes face to face with one of them in her garden during tea.

R. Blackett’s “Submission” might be the story of the first pin-up photographer. I’ll leave that for you to decide. Our photographer wants a picture of her heart’s desire and how far she will go to get it. Then she goes for more.

The last entry is possibly the cream of the crop. Angela Caperton presents a story of the scientific search to harness sexual energy with the results to be presented during the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The results show what could happen in “The Coming Age”.

This is another delightful and well chosen collection from J. Blackmore and Circlet Press. Be sure to visit the website and pick up some of their titles and see what they have planned for the future. I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Interesting Reviews

Bite Marks, Jennifer Rardin, Orbit, Oct 2009, ISBN: 9780446043823

Jaz Parks and her boss and lover Vayl the Vampire are part of a CIA hit team who battle mortal and supernatural entities. The squad is in Canberra, Australia are on an important assignment to stop a horde of gnomes led by the followers of the god Ufran from getting their larvae into the Canberra Deep Space Complex. Jaz figures kicking gnome butt will prove easier than moving sheep. From the moment they arrive at the Canberra Space Complex nothing goes right.

The gnomes are sending carriers of larvae to Madrid and California Space Complexes as ; if the larvae succeed, three stations will be destroyed. Jaz has additional issues starting with King Brude the Domtyr who sends souls to the hells. He now reside inside Jaz’s head. While she tries to restrain Brude so she can work the mission, one of her team Cassandra the seer is avoiding Kyphas whom she signed a binding contract with, but regrets her action. The team rallies around her and they are all getting ready to do battle with the Ufranites. This is all in a day’s work for crappy pay as Jaz thinks this is so not a walk in the park because one said anything about fighting Kyphas the invincible demon or that would be a traitor in their midst.

Jennifer Rardin’s latest Jaz Parks urban fantasy is a super Down Under thriller in time for Halloween as the story line is filled with action (in and out of the heroine’s head) and romance (also in and out of the heroine’s head and other body parts). Jaz is a sort of Lara Croft with perilous adventures of all sorts as she battles gnomes, seers, Domtyr , souls in her head, and a female demon. BITE MARKS is a bitingly good jazzed up tale. Harriet Klausner

Stoneholding, James G. Anderson and Mark Sebanc, Baen, $14.99, ISBN 978143913299-9

The king of Ahn Norvys is assassinated and the queen and their infant heir are kidnapped. With a power vacuum looming, the powerful Mindal merchant council select dangerous Gawmage as the ruler although many object though none as strongly as those in the highlander Stoneholding keep in Arvon.

It has been almost two decades since the murder and Gawmage has tightened his control through a powerful army that is strangling the kingdom. The only hope to rally opposition resides with the lost Prince Starigan, whom has not surfaced in all that time. Gawmage’s army seems set to destroy all holdouts including Arvon. Although feeling ancient and achy, the High Bard of Arvon Wilum knows time has run out as the Black Scorpion Dragoons attack. He will need to venture out of the devastated keep for the first time in decades and pray that the sacred artifacts that he guards diligently, the Sacred Fire and the Talamahd golden harp, will remain safe while he, his apprentice Kalaquinn Wright, and a few ragged survivors of the assault search for the lost prince and find a way to relight the Sacred Fire.

With a nod to Beowulf and Tolkien, the strong cast (especially the intrepid brilliant apprentice and his dedicated intelligent master) makes for an exciting energizing epic fantasy. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action although some spins seem doubtful with what is known in this realm. Still fans will relish this super saga once the audience understands Baen has left at least for STONEHOLDING the science fiction and alternate history genres. Harriet Klausner

Serrano Succession, Elizabeth Moon, Baen, Sep 8 2009, $24.00, ISBN: 9781439132883

“Change of Command”. The Familias Regnant are stunned when the dynastic head Bunny Thornbuckle is assassinated. The murder throws the Family into chaos and discord. Hobart Conselline cleverly takes advantage of the confusion and lack of successor power to become the new council speaker of the Grand Council at Castle Rock He gets new laws passed that target removing his only threat, the late Bunny’s Widow Miranda, his daughter Brun and the children that the latter was forced to carry (see RULES OF ENGAGEMENT). At the same time the Regnant is divided between Hobart supporters and those loyal to the widow, military officers Esmay Suiza and Barin Serrano marry over the objections of their respective adversarial families.

“Against the Odds”. The Fleet military wing of the Familias Regnant rebels. This leaves the Familias in jeopardy from its bigger stalking neighbor, the Benignity. Meanwhile the Fleet discharges Lieutenant Esmay Suiza for marrying Barin Serrano compounded by her religious belief. Suiza travels to Castle Rock where she hopes to obtain support from Grand Council member Brun Meager, whom she rescued at a time the leadership debates the issue of near-immortality of the wealthy vs. the aspirations of their heirs.

These are reprints of two of the Suiza-Serrano tales that will please fans of the outer space romantic science fiction series; newcomers will be better off starting with last year’s reprint; SERRANO CONNECTION. Both tales are well written and enable the audience to feel they are in space as family members of a Mafia like planetary government. Although the myriad of subplots can prove confusing and bog down the pace, SERRANO SUCCESSION remains a super spellbinding Suiza-Serrano space saga with more stories to reprint. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dead Air

Dead Air
Deborah Shlian and Linda Reid
Oceanview, Dec 7 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9781933515502

In Vermont, communications major Sammy Greene attends Ellsford College where she is also the talk show host of "The Hot Line" on the conservative school's radio station, WELL. The show has no restrictions, which has at times alienated faculty, staff and students; however it is popular because of the anything goes attitude.

When Dr. Burton Conrad is found dead, the police officially claim he killed himself; Sammy has doubts and considers conducting an investigation. However when a student allegedly commits suicide while another is sent from school due to chicken pox but never arrives home’ she knows she must probe into what is happening. She finds a link between the students in that both saw Dr. Palmer at the health clinic when he is conducting sort of top secret research project. Meanwhile Reverend Taft leads the Youth Crusade protests against the school and a deliberate fire burns down the radio station. Sammy digs deep not realizing she is under scrutiny by a predator willing to kill to keep a secret concealed.

This is an exciting, enthralling and seat of your pants riveting college amateur sleuth tale starring an intrepid heroine who is used to being in trouble so like any wannabe journalist she investigates. Sammy is terrific holding the story line together while the college cast is solid support. Although the solution and the villain are over the top of the Green Mountains, fans will enjoy Sammy’s climb seeking the truth. Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Ghost Quartet

THE GHOST QUARTET, edited by Marvin Kaye, Tor, $15.99, 304 pages, ISBN: 9780765312525, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

First there was THE VAMPIRE SEXTET followed by THE DRAGON QUINTET and now we have THE GHOST QUARTET, the latest entry into the marvelous group of anthologies that Marvin Kaye has produced featuring some of the brightest writers practicing their craft today. This book is no exception. It features four fantastic writers who are at the top of their game with the stories in this collection.

The volume opens with Brian Lumley’s story of “The Place of Waiting” that takes place on the moors made famous by Sherlock Holmes’ adventures with the hound. Lumley takes the atmosphere and turns it into a ghost tale of a painter who sees more in his landscape than the rocks of Tumble Tor.

Orson Scott Card takes a break from his normal science fiction universe to present the story of “Hamlet’s Father”. We all know about Hamlet and his visions but Card presents the comments and observations of his father that help (?) understand his motivations.

Kaye adds a terrific story of his own in “The Haunted Single Malt”. Many people have seen spirits and other assorted apparitions after partaking of alcohol. This is the first time I can remember where the spirits were really in the bottle.

Tanith Lee concludes the volume with “Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata”. In a Russia far removed from what we know, a man is dying in the dead of Winter only to be rescued. But what happens after the rescue makes one wonder if it would have been better to die alone and cold. The last line in her story is a very fitting close to the book. “At last, at last, it was mourning.”

Each author has an afterword and Kaye has an introduction about ghosts in literature and his own personal experience. This is a wonderful addition to his anthologies. I can’t wait to see what kind of “trio” he comes up with.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three from Harriet

Unusual day.

Capitol Offense
William Bernhardt
Ballantine, Oct 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345502995

Following his time in DC as a temporary appointed US Senator (see CAPITOL CONSPIRACY) Ben Kincaid has returned home to Tulsa to practice law and consider a run for the permanent seat. Professor Dennis Thomas visits Ben asking the attorney to defend him on a murder rap that has not yet occurred. Dennis hates bureaucrat Police Detective Christopher Sentz who ignored his begging to do a missing person’s search for his wife Josylyn. She died after being trapped inside her car for a week following an accident while her vehicle was in a ravine.

Dennis visits a hotel where Sentz is conducting a sting operation. Soon afterward someone fires seven shots at Sentz killing the cop. Dennis swears to Ben he never killed the man though his rage put him over the edge. Caught with questions of client privilege, Ben wonders if he was set up. Still even as he has a political campaign to run, Ben decides to defend the still fuming professor who is at the center of a media frenzy in which everyone believes he killed the cop, but debate whether grief or madness is a justification. Private Investigator Loving begins to uncover dark secrets involving their client, his late wife and the murdered detective that makes the defense even more insane.

The latest Kincaid thriller will delight long time fans as the hero is back in Oklahoma, but working on a case that his chief of staff tells him to drop as it is political suicide. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Professor Thomas asks Kincaid to defend him from a murder he had not yet committed. Fans will enjoy Ben’s latest CAPITOL OFFENSE as he defends a client who confessed his plan before hand and was found at the murder scene with the corpse. William Bernhardt provides a strong fresh entry with a great unexpected climax and coda. Harriet Klausner

The Darkest Room
Johan Theorin
Delta (Random House), Sep 29 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385342223

Stockholm schoolteacher Joakim Westin, wife Katrine and their two young children move to a family run down manor Eel Point on Oland Island in the Baltic. They repair the old manor until their idyllic life ends when Katrine inexplicably drowns near the twin lighthouses in shallow water that she should have been able to just sit up in.

Joakim has problems adjusting to the loss of his wife following the tragic death of his sister Ethel the year before; he insists to himself Katrine is still with them. While the police close their investigation officially determining a tragic accident occurred, rookie cop Tilda Davidsson has problems with the drowning death by accident ruling. She investigates on her own time, but she like Joakim will learn renovation of a musky old house will not remove permanent residents or secrets of those who once resided there.

This dark Swedish thriller grips the audience with its gothic descriptions that have readers anticipating more pending doom even after Katrine drowns as the history of Eel Point is one of tragedy. The audience will wonder whether something from beyond stalks Oland Island and Westin as there is a history for it. The current death is a sort of locked room scenario since there are no footprints are on the beach while readers also ponderi what lies inside the hidden DARK ROOM. As he did with ECHOES FROM THE DEAD (also set on Oland Island) John Theorin provides a super psychological suspense as Joakim fears he is losing it with his need for closure and he doesn’t want his children disturbed especially his daughter who insists she hears her mommy calling her. Harriet Klausner

Distant Thunder
Jimmy Root, Jr.
Bedside Books, Aug 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9781589825536

In Plattsville, Missouri Pastor Ty Dempsey grieves the death of his brother in Iraq through his sermons. However, the Deacons are concerned with his recent ramblings; as Ty insists he spoke with God who says Isaiah’s prophecy of the world ending is coming because Israel will react to Syria having nukes by destroying their neighbor. On top of that with Iran ready to retaliate, the prophecy of Ezekiel will come forth with destruction of much of the Middle East and Russia.

At the same time that Ty is shouting fire and brimstone end of days, Israeli Defense Forces Captain Moshe Eldan has family issues to contend with since his mother-in-law died. His wife Tasha grieves her loss by converting to Christianity and she insists Jesus has told her he wants Moshe to do likewise. When Moshe’s plane is shot down over Syria, he becomes a POW only to learn a horrible secret that could bring the end of days to Israel.

Dempsey and Eldan personalize this exciting thriller as the world turns anti-Semitic targeting the destruction of the Jewish state. They are the opposites as the Pastor needs the destruction of Israel if his belief of the End of Days has begun while the fighter pilot zealously defends Israel’s right to survive. Although a strong belief in salvation through Jesus is throughout the solid story line; ironically at the root of the first Lightning Chronicles is the fundamental belief that for the Ezekiel s' prophecy of 568 BC to occur, Israel must survive until the slaughter of the Jews led by the Anti Christ bringing together all the other nations against the country. Although the female characters never gel like the two lead males, fans will relish this profound look at religious zealousness by the prime descendants of Abraham as death to Israel is needed for the start of the End of Days. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Just Reviews

I'm working on a couple of reviews. Hopefully, I'll get them ready in a day or two.

Soul Catcher
Leigh Bridger
Bell Bridge, Oct 1 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780982175682

When she was a child, her granny knew that Livia Belane had a special destiny to fulfill and tattooed symbols of the Light onto her head to protect her. Olivia was heartbroken when her father committed suicide and recalls nothing about the fire that killed her mom and brother. Somehow she escaped unscathed, but whispered gossip claims she set the inferno. She ended up in a psycho facility and when she was released at night she dreams of a demon, of whom she paints while she sleeps.

Her paintings contain the ugliest demon ever; she calls him Pig Face. Although Livia is a loner, people want to befriend her through her countless reincarnations. They inform her she is a Soul Hunter, a person who sends demons back to the hells they came from. She meets a man and is prepared for hot sex, but instead he tortures and rapes Livia. Ian, who loves Livia and has through several lifetimes, takes over the body of her rapist who was the demon Pig Face; like Ian, Pig Face has made it through several of her reincarnations killing both of them each time. However, this time is different as Livia and Ian must defeat Pig Face whose power keeps increasing with each of their deaths and soon will be too strong for them to stop his takeover of Asheville; eventually North Carolina, the USA, and the earth will follow.

Deborah Smith, writing as Leigh Bridger, has authored an exciting unique urban fantasy that is an amalgam of reincarnation, demonic-angelic warfare, and special people with skills to see and fight evil beings. Livia changes from a reactive frightened person into a bold individual accepting Ian’s help even though every time she looks at his face, she stares at her rapist. The love these two souls share gives them hope that they will overcome Pig Face, but he thirsts for vengeance too for what they did in a previous life a long time ago without understanding the consequences which fueled the demon’s rage. Harriet Klausner

On the Edge
Ilona Andrews
Ace, Oct 2009, $7.99
ISBN 9780441017805

The Drayton family resides on the woody Edge of two worlds. On the Georgia side of their home is the Broken; while on the opposite direction is the Weird. In Broken lives normal humans; in Weird lives all types of supernatural and magical entities. Both realms have strict moral codes.

Rose Drayton has become a talented practitioner of magic, which upsets the Weird's ruling aristocrats who want her power for their own use. Soon afterward, brutal hounds attack those who live in the in between edge. At the same time Weird noble Declan Camarine arrives to inform Rose that she will marry him. Rose rejects Declan's arrogant statement, but needs his help as her siblings and other living on the Edge are under attack.

ON THE EDGE is a fascinating romantic fantasy due to the magical world that borders between the mundane and the Weird, making Edgers a unique breed; mindful of the Tex-Mex populace who resides on both sides of the Rio Grande. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when Rosie shoots an arrow in her grandpa’s forehead and never slows down especially after she and the arrogant blueblood meet, reject, fall in love, and reject again; wait till she meets the in-laws that is if she survives the assault on the Edgers. Fans will relish this funny frenzied fantastic frolic. Harriet Klausner

Gena Showalter
Harlequin Teen, Sep 2009, $15.99
ISBN: 9780373210022

In present day Crossroads, Oklahoma, sixteen years old Aden Stone has heard voices in his head ever since he was a small child. The medical community labels him schizophrenic; his parents gave up on him when he was three years old placing him in a mental institution. Recently, he was relocated to the D and M Ranch, a halfway house for troubled teens.

Although no one else does, Aden understands his four voices are lost souls. Eve time travels; Julian raises the dead; Elijah predicts the future; and Caleb possesses other beings. Elijah informs Aden he will not live much longer; just when he meets Mary Ann Gray, who can silence the voices; the teen he thinks he fell in love with her because of his dreams of normalcy. He meets two other teenagers with uncanny skills as they find themselves struggling with vampires, demons, werewolves and fairies.

This is a wonderful young adult fantasy as the teen male lead makes the thriller work; as he has spent his life being misunderstood and locked away as a nut case. He understands that he is not schizophrenic and does not have multiple personality disorder; instead his brain carries four INTERTWINED lost souls although he has no idea why him. Thus when he meets Mary Ann who silences the bickering voices that give him headaches, he relishes the quiet normal time that ha always desired. However that mental serenity UNRAVELED with the start of war against the paranormal in which he is the human point. Fans will relish Aden’s escapades with his three new allies and look forward to more unraveling of his mind in future Intertwined adventures. Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 16, 2009

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Here are some more unusual titles from Harriet.

Ken Scholes
Tor, Oct 13 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765321282

Nine months have passed since the Y'Zirite cult destroyed Wendwir and its library containing the known knowledge of the Old World (see LAMENTATION). Now the allies who fought bravely back then have gathered for a joyous occasion at Ninefold Forest. They have come to bestow honor and their support to Gypsy King General Rudolfo and his wife Jin Li Tam as she gives birth to his heir Jakob.

However, that same Y'Zirite cult continues its reading of the Crimson Empress prophecy in which they execute the needed pre-events. Thus an invisible horde of assassins enters the gala hall and begin killing the attendees. Civil war continues to spread across the Named Lands while at the Keeper’s Gate a message arrives from the Churning Waste for the Hidden Pope. All this explodes as Rodolfo and Jin seek a miracle for their ailing newborn while the Y'Zirite Cult declares Jakob is the Child of Promise. To her chagrin while feeling alone and overwhelmed since her beloved prophetic dreamer Neb of Wendwir entered the Churning Wastes and she learned that the growing powerful Y’Zirite killed her Shadow Hanric, the Marsh Queen Winters knows the origin of the cult, which adds to her fear of doom.

The second Psalms of Isaak, CANTICLE, is an action-packed fantasy that grips readers with the opening attack and never loosens its hold until the Watcher places down his pen on the unfinished page. The characterizations are amazingly strong as the audience will understand the flaws and especially the trepidations of several key players. Ken Scholes is two for two with this exciting saga as his realm seems genuine and his cast real; all this with complete adventures and setting up the next tome. Harriet Klausner

Black Guard
Hideyuki Kikuchi
Tor/Seven Seas, Sep 29 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765323309

For centuries demons have crossed over from another dimension into the mortal plane; their motives vary with some seeking employment opportunities while others enjoy dining on the human delicacy. The Peace Treaty has been signed between both sides’ leaders, but every century it comes up for renewal with the time now for the latest pact. However, on the Black World demonic side, opposition has grown with the desire to overwhelm the mortals and a key assassination plot has been deployed.

In Tokyo, the Black Guard continues their vigil to insure both sides behave and prevent chaos. Guard member Renzaburo Taki can change matter and is teamed with lovely demon Makie who fight against rogues mostly from her home dimension in order to keep mankind safe. Their current assignment is to keep sorcerer Giuseppe Mayart safe as he arrives in Tokyo for the peace treaty gala. Mayart executes a devious scheme starting with sending his protective guards Taki and Makie away from him so he can begin his Machiavellian plan.

With a comic book feel to the exciting story line, fans of urban fantasy horror thrillers will relish this gory enjoyable tale from the author of Vampire Hunter D. The story line is fast-paced as seemingly everyone involved with the “Signing Ceremony” has a personal agenda. Enhanced by black and white illustrations by Ayami Kojima, the first Wicked City saga is a thrilling dark entry. Harriet Klausner

The Golden City
John Twelve Hawks
Doubleday, Sep 8 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780385514309

Brothers Michael and Gabriel Corrigan are the last known Travelers, who travel parallel universes. They are on opposite sides of a war. Michael cooperates with the Brethren run Tabula, an international cartel seeking world command and control through the Panopticon. However, he has his own ambitious agenda to take control of the Tabula in order to begin his domination of the world through a fear technologically based propaganda campaign identical to what he witnessed on the Fifth Realm by demi-gods.

Gabriel has joined the Free Runners, who fear the increase in insidious technology that enables one too many spying, which in turn inhibit freedom. The Tabula name him an enemy of the state along with his allies Hollis, Linden and his beloved Harlequin Maya, whom he rescued from the hell of the First Dimension. The Free Runners must prevent Gabriel’s sibling from succeeding, but Michael and his associates control communication technology, which means the Tabula possess mass weapons and espionage capabilities too.

The final "Fourth Realm" thriller (see THE TRAVELER and THE DARK RIVER) is an entertaining cautionary tale that is timely as John Twelve Hawks overarching theme is freedom has come under assault by electronic surveillance. The story line is for most part fast-paced and filled with action although can get bogged down by philosophical debate. Still fans will appreciate THE GOLDEN CITY as freedom continues the uphill battle on this realm having lost on other Realms to technological dictators who make 1984 look like minor intrusions. Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 13, 2009

Busy Day and Reviews from Harriet

Busy day at the doctors office and unemployment service. I'll try to get some reading time in this weekend.

Cursed to Death
L.A. Banks
St. Martin’s, Sep 29 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312942991

Black Ops agent Sasha Trudeau is a shadow wolf who unlike werewolves can change at any time. She uses the shadows to go to the Shadowlands and from there to any point on earth in an instant. Currently, she and her mate Max Hunter are in New Orleans to attend the Seelie King Sir Rodney’s’s full moon Midsummer Night Ball. Instead of having fun, Sasha investigates the death of a phoenix who after the flame burned out she sayed as ash instead of turningd into a beautiful human woman; her sister died in the same way including the identical black magic signature.

Sasha and Max pick up a sexual wolf scent at the site of the killings, but always lose the trail. A pixie tells them that the glamour of the Fae is faltering and members of the Shadow Wolf Federation sense the dark anomalies negatively affecting them and of course Sasha and Max. The Fae dark sorcery spell is becoming increasingly stronger while seemingly sapping the essence of everyone; if it is not stopped by the ball, war will explode.

The forth crimson Moon urban fantasy (see BAD MOON, BITE THE MOON and UNDEAD ON ARRIVAL) is as strong, evocative and action-packed as its predecessors are. L.A. Banks combines various genres to create a unique paranormal vision that grips readers from the opening corpse and never slows down as the inquiry affirms all hell is coming during the next full moon especially since it appears the vampires, the Unseelie, renegade werewolves and rogue shadow wolves might be temporally uniting to throw over the current order before infighting with one another. Ms. Banks makes each species different but believable as Sasha feels CURSED TO DEATH by all of them. Harriet Klausner

Karen Marie Moning
Delacorte, Aug 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9780385341653

MacKayla "Mac" Lane came to Dublin from a small American town to find her sister Alina’s murderer (see DARKFEVER). However, Mac has become a key Sidhe mage in the Fae war that she previously was ignorant of its existence (see BLOODFEVER and FAEFEVER). She still seeks the ancient Sinsar Dubh that she has seen as this tome in the wrong hands could mean more than just the Wall tumbling down in entirely breached dark Dublin.

However, in spite of strong enigmatic allies and possessing the immortal Fae killing Spear of Luin, her enemy who murdered her sibling, the Lord Master has her captured at his feet. He plays on her magical naivety and grows her sexual hunger. Her hope for satiation, salvation and retribution lies with two males; neither of which she understands nor trusts, Jericho Barrons and Fae Prince V’lane with her back. Meanwhile in Georgia, her parents are missing, but much of the truth about her past and that of her sister and her ties to Barrons lie in the red clay while something even more malevolent than losing Dublin to the dark forces of the Lord Master and his allies awaits her homecoming on two planes.

The fourth urban fantasy “Fever” thriller is a fast-paced action-packed tale that feels more like a set up book for the next novel even with the battles against the Lord Master and the “monster” as little progress is made to the overarching plot in spite of some revelations. Still DREAMFEVER is a well written entry as fans of the saga will believe Mac has come a long way in a short time especially piling up males in her expanded quest that changed from finding her sister’s killer to saving the world. Fans will enjoy this entry even with glacier progress while newcomers need to start with DARKFEVER to fully comprehend and savor the enchantingly deepening darkening Moning universe. Harriet Klausner

Skin Medicine
Tim Curran
Severed Press, Aug 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9780980606515

In 1882, former confederate soldier turned bounty hunter, Tyler Cabe, has come to Whisper Lake in the Utah Territory in search of a gruesome serial killer, the Sin City Strangler who brutally murders prostitutes. The bounty hunter is unhappy to learn the town’s sheriff is former Union soldier Captain Jackson Dirker who committed atrocities against POWs including Cabe.

Also coming to town by wagon is James Lee Cobb, who rides inside a coffin. He and his minion brutally massacre the townsfolk of the nearby mining town Sunrise. Cobb has the Skin Magic power of the Indians enhanced by the curse of the Wendigo. In Whisper Lake he begins his murder spree as the two Civil War enemies who do not trust one another must unite if they want Deliverance stopping the invincible killer from hell before a second town is eradicated.

SKIN MEDICINE is a fast-paced and entertaining western horror thriller that hooks the audience with the opening coach scene that has some nods towards Stoker. The graphic gory story line is fast-paced yet contains a strong fully developed cast, especially the good (Cabe), the bad (Dirker), and the ugly (Cobb); which leads to the reader anticipating a paranormal High Noon in Whisper Lake. Harriet Klausner

Fantasy, Werewolves and Vampires

Here are some of Harriet's reviews including one from my old friend Piers Anthony. Piers has been a supporter of Baryon since the beginning and I was the lucky one to receive his daughter's, Penny, first letter of comment. The Land of Xanth has been around for a long time and the adventures are still coming as are the puns.

Jumper Cable
Piers Anthony
Tor, Oct 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765323514

A narrative hook drops the spider Jumper from one scene into another where meets a woodwife named Wenda (a woman made of wood with no back) who wants to be made flesh. They find a prophecy on Jumper’s carapace and decide to go to the Magician Humphrey to find out what it means. The pair also hopes that Humphrey returns Jumper to his scene and makes Wenda flesh and blood. Along the way they meet Maeve the Maenad who is avoiding the stork because she doesn’t want an infant. She decides to join them to see if Humphrey can get the stork to stop delivering her package.

Haughty Harpy meets the travelers and tells them that at night she turns into Hottie Harpy. She decides to join them to see if the magician can help her. Two more ladies join the troupe; Phaedra, who can turn into a host who is being stalked by Genghis the ghost and Olive Huie who has no friends; the former wants the stalking stopped and the latter wants a friend. When the group breaches the magician’s castle, Humphrey tells them he will give them what they want if they fix the broken cable that connects Mundania’s Internet to Xanth’s Outernet. They have plenty of enemies who want to stop them for various reasons.

Thirty three punster fantasy quests later, Xanth remains alive as if Chameleon was still seeking a spell. The hero is an innocent spider who learns to play and work with humans as he and the women march across some familiar locales and a several new spots on their misadventures. There is plenty of romance and action even with the typical thin plot as JUMPER CABLE is a fun lighthearted frolic. Harriet Klausner

To Tempt the Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebooks, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402219047

Wildlife photographer Tessa Anderson is taking pictures of an out of control California wildfire when the wolf rushes her; she escapes and thinks she best go back to Oregon for her brother’s murder trial. At the same time she drives by, twin sibling grey lupus garous Hunter and Meara Greymere leave the inferno to move to the cabin on the Oregon coast left them by their uncle who retired to the Everglades.

Soon afterward in Oregon, Tessa comes by, but Meara tells her to leave. Tess insists she was to have dinner with Uncle Basil as he told her to call him, but Meara remains unfriendly until Tess sarcastically says nice meeting you and goes, but makes it clear she will insure Uncle Basil is okay. Afterward Meara demands her brother find her a mate or she will join the others. While Hunter worries about his no longer compliant sister, he also finds himself wanting the human photographer. However as his pack deserts him, several beings attack Hunter. Wounded, he swims to the beach near Tess’ home. Tess helps him and soon she is a target of his enemies and of his wanting her.

The third werewolf romance (see DESTINY OF THE WOLF and HEART OF THE WOLF) is an enjoyable action-packed thriller from the fiery onset to the mystery of what is going on in Coastal Oregon. Fans of the series will enjoy the tale of the Gray Pack forced to relocate near a Red Pack (in Portland) as werewolves are territorial. Tessa is an intrepid human female who is not afraid of the big bad wolf while Hunter has found his soul mate ironically as he has tried for almost two centuries to find Meara’s alpha mate. Terry Spear provides an engaging paranormal romantic suspense as gold is the greedy lowest common denominator and love the highest common denominator. Harriet Klausner

Tall, Dark & Fangsome
Michelle Rowen
Forever, Sep 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780446505857

Sarah Dearly cannot believe how much her life has changed in just a few months. First she was changed into a vampire; then she became the Slayer of Slayers while learning to control the Nightwalker Curse by wearing the ugliest necklace ever created; and finally is the girlfriend of master vampire Thierry de Bennecoeur. Life as an undead has its rewards.

However one problem unresolved is somehow vampire hunter Gideon Chase did not burn to death (whatever death means) in hellfire as assumed by Sarah and others; instead he lives in limbo that needs him liberated within three days or else all hell will break loose starting with her beloved Thierry. To achieve this she must change evil Gideon into the most powerful vampire ever and dump her dearest Thierry; who does not sit idly by watching his girlfriend go to hell in a hand basket. Instead he “hires” vigilante justice guru the Red Devil to protect Sarah who believes she can bring the light of goodness into Gideon’s soul; that is if any remains.

Although somewhat similar in tone to the previous lighthearted Immortality Bites (see STAKES AND STILETTOS, BITTEN AND SMITTEN, and FANGED & FABULOUS), fans of the series will appreciate Sarah’s latest escapades as she tries to bring good to the bad. The story line is fast-paced, filled with amusing bits and bites, and never takes a breather as the heroine walks a thin line between hellfire damnation and B+ blood. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 11, 2009



When my high school newsletter editor mentioned the idea of remembering Veterans, I was having a hard time coming up with one or two people that might be considered ”Heroes” during a time of war. I still don’t have one person that comes to mind but here are my thoughts on some of those who do

My Dad, L.D. Hunter, served during World War II. He was not directly involved in the fighting but served at Fitzsimmons Army Hospital in Colorado. He was an orderly and was directly involved with giving care to those who were wounded in the Pacific Theatre of operations. The care they received after they were injured, at least to me, was as important as the service they did while under fire. Dad never talked about it. It was his duty and honor to serve his country.

Kathy’s Dad, J.C. Christian, served in the Army in Europe. He didn’t talk about his service either. We know he was in Germany, Italy and France due to some of the mementos he brought back. After he died, we discovered a box that held a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars. Although we don’t know the story behind the medals, a Purple Heart meant he was wounded and Bronze Stars were usually awarded for valor and going beyond the extraordinary requirements that you had to put up with in the time of war.

After we moved to Rome, I attended Fourth Ward School. I ‘m sure there are some other people that may have memories of other students there. One of my friends was Johnny Gantt. Johnny was a James Dean type with the DT haircut, jeans and a devil may care attitude. We always enjoyed touch football and whatever sports we could participate in during recess. Johnny didn’t join us at West Rome, I think he ended up at Armuchee and we lost touch. I’m not positive that Johnny was the first fatality from Rome to be killed in Vietnam, but he was the first person I knew that was. That made war personal to me. His name is on Panel 46E, Line 32 on the wall. There are the names of 14 Romans on the wall. To find out the others go to

For a while in high school, our son Scott dated Jolene Johnson whose brother, Justin was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq. We knew the family and knew them as teenagers. Rome area families have been hit pretty hard by casualties from the various wars and it is a cost that while hard to bear, is a price that must be paid to keep our way of life and freedom available for everyone.

To me everyone who has worn a uniform in service to our country is a hero. They have known that the costs may turn out to be high and have been prepared to pay it.

Now comes the happenings at Fort Hood. Kathy and I spent time there and are very familiar with the area. Our hearts and our prayers go out to them. It just goes to show that soldiers don’t start out to be heroes; it’s something that just happens. It’s up to us as individuals to recognize a hero and let them know how proud we are of them and that we appreciate their sacrifice.

Barry Hunter, WR 1966
US Army, 1968-1971
25th Infantry Division, Cu Chi Vietnam 1969-1970
1st Calvary Division, 1st Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas 1970-1971

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Baryon 113

Baryon 113 is up on the web site. Pete has put a patriotic scene up on the front page to go along with Veterans Day.

Be sure to check it out. There are plenty of reviews by Harriet and myself. Many of them have not appeared on the blog. Please let me know what you think.

Christmas in Outer Space

Edited by Jean M. Goldstrom

Get in the Christmas mood with 30 HOLLY-day stories that take you on a holiday tour around the galaxy! Christmas is just too big and beautiful a holiday to be confined to only one planet.


Description: Paperback, 287 pages,5.5. x 8.5", perfect binding, white interior paper, 50# weight, black and white interior ink, full color front and back covers.

To pick up a copy go to and click on the link. I don't think you will be disappointed.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

More from Harriet

More from Harriet.

Dark Time
Dakota Banks
Avon Jul 28 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061687303

In 1692 Susannah Layhem is accused of being a witch and jailed; her baby is born and dies while she is incarcerated. She no longer cares that she is innocent and the facts would bear out her contention; but that did not matter to her accusers including her husband and his brother and wife. After she dies in the holy bonfire, Rabishu the demon recruits her to become his top gun assassinating people. For three centuries she did his bidding, but abruptly says no when the demon assigns her to murder a baby as she never stopped grieving for her dead infant Constanza .

The demon is as stunned as Susannah is when she realizes she somewhat is freed of her Faustian contract although she will still have to kill mortals. Now residing on earth as Maliha Crane, she hopes to regain her soul so she can stop her killing after three centuries of doing the demon’s bidding. She writes mystery novels and tries to save humans in an effort to balance her karma and is involved in the investigation of the homicides of two hackers.

Although the plot is extremely thin especially when it converts from historical to modern day urban fantasy, fans will enjoy meeting Susannah-Maliha and the worlds of Dakota Banks (including eerie dark Midworld). The first paranormal Mortal Path thriller is light fun as Rabishu is outraged at Malilha saying no for the first time as she hopes to obtain some redemption for her dark soul. Harriet Klausner

Hidden Currents
Christine Feehan
Jove, Jun 30 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515146479

Psychic though many will say psycho businessman Stavros Gratsos kidnaps Elle Drake who had just returned to her family home Sea Haven. Although Ellie and her six older sisters are also psychics, Stavros has somehow been able to electronically disable their telepathic abilities. Her siblings are distraught, but plan to do whatever it takes to rescue the youngest of this generation Drake brood.

Sea Haven Deputy Sheriff Jackson Deveau has loved Elle from afar forever and vows to save his beloved. Elle has reciprocated his feelings so that a telepathic link built on love connects them in spite of Stavros’ gizmo. He along with the Drake clan extract Elle from the psychopath, but note Stavros tortured and raped her. Jackson is there for his emotionally shattered beloved and she begins to mentally heal due to his nurturing. However, Stavros wants her back and threatens all her loved ones leading to the extended Drake family (stars of the previous six entries) taking on a maniac and his horde of mercenaries.

The seventh and final Drake sister romantic fantasy is a strong finish to a powerful series. The lead couple is a likable pairing as both have issues; especially timely and poignant is the consequences on an individual who was tortures. The villain is a clever and brilliant but insane psychic whose demented vile mind enhances the plot as he forces the return of all the Drake sisters and their mates to unite to counter fight this lunatic. Harriet Klausner

The Red Tree
Caitlin R. Kiernan
Roc, Aug 42009, $16.00
ISBN: 9780451462763

In Atlanta the suicide of her girlfriend shook writer Sarah Crowe to her core so she decides to leave the region. She feels fortunate to have found an old house on the Wight Farm in a remote part of Rhode Island that she rents.

She explores her new home and finds an “ancient” typewriter and an unfinished manuscript by Dr. Charles L. Harvey, a noted anthropology folklorist. He apparently was collecting information re the legend of an old oak tree on this property that the locals hold in awe. His work eerily stopped abruptly when he hanged himself from that same oak tree. Sarah tries to ignore the document, but cannot stop thinking about it. She feels spellbound to investigate and begins her own journal while her life feels increasingly depressing and out of her control and macabre under the oak’s control.

In some ways this terrific haunting is a throwback to the early Stephen King thrillers especially The Shining as the audience observes in full fright Sarah slowly yet knowingly losing her mind seemingly to the oak tree. Fans will relish this tale while keeping the lights on throughout the house and considering cutting down trees near their homes as we hypnotically wonder whether THE RED TREE is a psychological thriller or a supernatural tale; either way trees will be avoided by readers. Harriet Klausner

More Good Reads From Harriet

High Bloods
John Farris
Tor, Jul 21 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765325969

At the end of WWII in the Pacific, specifically in the Kingdom of Kalimanton, the returning soldiers brought home a microbe that turned into werewolves. For twenty-seven days of the month, they were as humans as the True Bloods; but when the moon was full they turned into maniacal killing machines. The disease spreads epidemically across the globe until the species becomes greater in number than Homo sapiens.

The International Lycan Control (ILC) monitors 80% of the werewolf population and has methods to control the change in order to keep the True Bloods safe during the full moon. ILC agent Rawson is shocked when he witnesses an Avenging Fury of a werewolf rip the head off businessman Artie of Arthur Excalibur Enterprises during a non full moon. Artie provided lycan escorts to pure humans, but the key is to figure out how someone was able to turn a lycan into a killing werewolf when the moon was in no way full. While he searches for the real culprits, Rawson also looks for Mal who is like a younger sister to him, before hunters preparing for a Mal de Lune (werewolf hunt) to kill her. Both tasks prove dangerous as enemies try to kill Rawson.

This is an exciting, fast-paced futuristic urban Noir fantasy in which American has been torn apart due to the Lycan virus. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and makes Los Angeles and Santa Monica seem genuinely filled with werewolves and True Bloods. Rawson is a believable Noir like hero who does what he believes is the right thing though he knows the cost may be those few he cherishes. Although, nothing new is added to the sub-genre as the premises have been overly done recently, John Farris provides a super thriller as the plot is faster than a speeding silver bullet. Harriet Klausner

Bloody Awful
Georgia Evans
Kensington, Aug 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9780758234827

In 1940 in a small English village, everything looks normal and serene on the surface when they are not being hit by German air bombs. However, many of the local inhabitants are Others including red were-fox district nurse Gloria Prewitt, pixies Alice Doyle and her grandma, Welsh shapeshifting dragon Howarth Pendragon and several who refuse to come out into the open because of fear of deadly retaliation in spite of the BLOODY RIGHT of freedom. Alice was instrumental in preventing a German vampiric saboteur from blowing up a secret nearby munitions plant.

Another German vampire William Block has come to Surrey with the same mission as his late comrade. Gloria is the first to notice the new arrival and his Nazi Luftwaffe support; she tells the others who make plans to dispatch the newcomer to the same hell they sent his predecessor to. The enemy almost kills Alice who tries her magic against this Undead while a furious Gloria vows to stake this fiend who threatens her lover.

BLOODY AWFUL is not an apt title descriptor as the tale is BLOODY GOOD. The super fast-paced historical fantasy story line is filled with stunning revelations and unexpected twists yet most significant enables the audience to believe in were-shifters, pixies and oh my vampires. . Her friends and her lover need to protect her although Gloria is a terrific heroine who gains confidence in her paranormal skills as she battles otherworldly saboteurs. Georgia Evans avoids the middle book lack of a deep plot with this strong entry of a mousy fox who learns to roar like a lioness who believes she is BLOODY RIGHT (next tale) while battling a vampire. Harriet Klausner

Strange Brew
P. N. Elrod (editor)
St. Martin's, Jul 2009, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312383367

These nine urban fantasies make for a terrific anthology with no clinkers and several super entries. Especially excellent is Jim Butcher’s “Last Call” in which Harry stops for a beer while pursuing maenad Meditrina Bassarid, who stops for wine. Patricia Brigg’s blind witch in “Seeing Eye” who cannot turn on the lights to get rid of the terrors of the dark is top gun. Also super are Ginger: A Nocturne City Story” by Caitlin Kittredge that follows the adventures of two sisters, one kick butt the other a wuss; and Rachel Caine's "Death Warmed Over" in which the resurrectionist Holly Caldwell is asked to bring back the hero of the zombie war , the late witch Andrew Toland. With Charlaine Harris providing "Bacon", the editor P.N. Elrod a 1937 family hunt (“Hecate’s Golden Eye”) and “Dark Sins” by Jenna Maclaine make this a winner. Finally fans will take a Chance on Karen Chance’s “Vegas Odds” and have faith in the avenging vampires of “Signature of the Dead” by Faith Hunter which are top quality. These are fun supernatural mystery thrillers that accentuate why urban fantasy is so popular. Harriet Klausner

Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman
Harper, Jun 23 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9780061687211

California high school student Kaida is on a field trip to Carlsbad Caverns when there is a horrific van accident. Kaida spends a terrible night with two other students Zeke Anderson and Joy Tallon in a cave. The next morning she awakens to find herself in her California bed with her class trip to come next week. Something is not quite right besides the time disparity, but she is unsure of what.

The strangest thing Kaida notices is health care or the lack of as there are no doctors or hospitals. People who are ill are left to recover naturally or sent to the desert to die. Kaida knows this is not her California as the only people who do not look at her as insane over medical care is her two van mates.

This faster than the speed of light action-packed science fiction targets middle school students with an intriguing message about health care. The story line’s hyper speed overwhelms the cast even the transplanted trio who are the stars and the world they somehow enter. Still young adult fans will enjoy this accelerated ride that never slows down for a nanosecond. Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Mission to Earth

Here's a review from Jim.

THE MISSION TO EARTH: A Tale of the Hunters, C. L. Rossman,, $15, ISBN: 9781615461165, reviewed by Jim Brock.

C. L. Rossman introduced her race of civilized carnivores, The Hunters, in two previous novels. RENEGADE THE HUNTER and RENEGADE THE WARRIOR are wondrous in their imagining and delightful in their reading. Rossman has created an alien race with endless potential and I like what she has done with them in THE MISSION TO EARTH.

That mission takes place 20 years after RENEGADE THE WARRIOR. A large contingent of Hunters has returned to Earth to meet with the US President and other world leaders in New York City. Having spent the intervening years changing the planet Venus into a world suitable for human colonization, the Hunters are here to cement the peace between the races and select the humans to populate Venus. The Hunters have a strong sense of honor but some doubt the trustworthiness of their human partners. And, as for our wont in such a situation, some humans are suspicious of the aliens intentions and act with violence and treachery.

A terrorist group called the Human First Coalition goes all out to wreck the peace and cooperation between the races. The nonaggression pact is in great danger unless a New York police detective, a female reporter, and two of the Hunters can work together to defeat the terrorists, calm the situation, and maintain that fragile alliance.

Friendships are forged in blood and action. THE MISSION TO EARTH and the varied humans selected for transport to Venus leave me with much hope for the future of Rossman’s creations. It’s the same feeling of hope and anticipation I felt after reading the early Dragonriders of Pern books. I am eagerly awaiting more from C. L. Rossman.

Fort Hood Massacre

I may not have the fondest of memories of Fort Hood, but Kathy and I did spend over a year there in the early 1970s and made many friends that are still part of our lives.

My heart and my prayers go out to all those killed and wounded in Thursday's needless and despicable act that left so many families hurting and a nation in mourning.

I hope everyone will say a prayer for them.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Harriet's Reviews

Some more from Harriet.

Traitors' Gate
Kate Elliott
Tor, Aug 18 2009, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765310576

The land of the Hundred is on the verge of collapse as war has swept across everywhere. The cause is a stunner as someone from within The Guardians of the Altars has betrayed the trust; causing massive chaos slaughtering of thousands of people in a mindless march of destruction.

The only viable adversary to the horde of the Guardians of the Altars is the Outlander army who want peace and prosperity to return. They know their enemy is beyond reason and prepare for war against an invincible foe, who even devastated the Eagle Reeves used to enforce the law of the land.

The third Crossroads epic fantasy (see SPIRIT GATE and SHADOW GATE) is a super entry that will have readers considering what a value is on individual and collective levels and can a person ignore natured values that are nurtured by society; that psychological well-being is the essence of TRAITOR’S GATE. The story line is action-packed and fast-paced from the onset, as the Outlander soldiers as individuals think they can perform actions that feel contrary to their psychological essence, but as a group may find the tasks required overwhelming because these brave soldiers must also overcome the intrinsic values of the group. Complex and complicated, the world of Kate Elliot is filled with mental personal gates that amass in the realm of the Hundreds on an epic scale of doubt and devastation. This is a deep thought provoking entry within a strong saga. Harriet Klausner

Thorn Queen
Richelle Mead
Zebra, Aug 2009, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420100976

Half-breed shaman Eugenie Markham was contented making a living sending home creatures who crossed over from the Otherworld. She never planned to cross over herself heeding her mentor stepfather’s warning, but did so to rescue a child. To accomplish her quest, Eugenie killed the Thorn King (see STORM BORN) only to learn she is now the THORN QUEEN; a job she does not want as that will mean more time on Otherworld where every person with a Y Chromosome wants her.

She has issues with the two males in her life though she is seeing Kiyo the spirit fox even as he is expecting to be a father soon with his former girlfriend while fae King Dorian has her libido soaring to heights she never imagined. Besides wanting two hunks Eugenie fears pregnancy as her firstborn is prophesized as the individual who will make the human race extinct. The newest monarch is most concerned with several young female fae vanishing; adding to her dismay is that no one even King Dorian seem the least bit troubled. She decides to investigate as Eugenie feels this is part of being a ruler. Her inquiry leads to life threatening danger from an adversary with a personal blood grudge and an affirmation that her preference is the mental comfort of the human realm she knows intimately.

The second Dark Swan fantasy is a terrific tale as the audience sees the Otherworld through the eyes of newcomer Eugenie. The story line is fast-paced from the onset while the Thorn Queen struggles with her new responsibilities, her love life and an unknown foe using fae to force the heroine to act. Like the first book, this is a winner due to the realism brought to Otherworld by the half human-half fey heroine who is naive in this new world of hers as her earthly sophistication appears worthless in this realm. Harriet Klausner

Demon Redcoat
C.C. Finlay
Del Rey, Jun 23 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345503923

In 1779 the American War of Independence continues unabated. Having helped General Washington by using his magical skills, Proctor Brown decides it is enough as all he sees is blood flowing on both sides of the dispute. He, his wife Deborah the witch and a few friends relocate to a New England farm although the General pleads with him to help them in Europe. Even if he wanted to get back involved, he will not leave his nine month pregnant spouse.

Deborah goes into labor, but as she gives birth to a daughter, the powerful Balfri the demon enters through an unguarded chimney. Proctor with the help of Abigail, Lydia and Magdalena force the demon outside, but the elderly Magdalena died doing it. Proctor knows now he has no choice but to take the fight to those who summoned Balfri, the European witches of the Covenant. Proctor heads by sea to Europe with black freewoman Lydia pretending to be his slave. On the ocean, he meets John Adams and in France, he meets Benjamin Franklin, but the Covenant uses minor mages and witches to destroy him while in the States Balfri attacks Deborah and her daughter Maggie as there is power in possessing an infant

This is a terrific alternate historical fantasy that continues the saga of Proctor Brown who is considered a “Traitor to the Crown” for helping the American rebels along with his loved ones, during the American Revolution in which magic plays a key role in the outcome. The story line is action packed from the moment that Balfri attacks the house and never slows down crossing the Atlantic or in France and England. Fans of alternate histories will want to read the entire series (see THE PATRIOT WITCH and A SPELL FOR THE REVOLUTION) as well as this thriller as the magic seems genuine and real persona like Adams and Franklin play major roles, but the audience will wonder whether Cornwallis or Washington will surrender at Yorktown as the magic is flying on both sides of the big pond. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Three from Harriet

Always Forever
Mark Chadbourn
PYR, Jul 28 2009, $15.98
ISBN: 9781591027416

The ancient Gods and the Fomorii demons have brought Balor the Heart of Shadows into the world for the first time in eons. The power of the all evil essence is growing and on Samhain the WORLD’S END will be completed.

The last hope for humanity ,the five Brothers and Sisters of Dragons, have been defeated by the Fomorii after a horrific battle though they did their best it proved futile during the cataclysmic THE DARKEST HOUR. They are leaderless, scattered apart or dead. Though despondent and filled with a hopeless despair, each one of the quintet continues to risk their lives as they separately try to move past the insufferable loss and seek one another as well as persuade Queen Tuatha de Danann to help them defeat the Fomorii to prevent Balor from succeeding. Church, Ruth, Shavi, Ryan and Laura must find their inner strength for if any falters, it means Balor rules and the end of mankind. Even if they prove successful starting with obtaining Tuatha’s help, they will still need to deal with the potentially treacherous Queen.

The third book in The Age of Misrule saga is an excellent finish to a fabulous saga as readers will mark this author for future tales. The story line is action-packed as the follow-up to the stunning defeat in the aptly titled THE DARKEST HOUR which is filled with escapades and adventures, but also allows the audience to see into the hearts and minds of the fearsome five who have no hope for the future as all seems lost. Fans will admire them for their courage to carry on in spite of their anguish, accentuated by the belief some of their allies died. The quintet brings the souls to Mark Chadbourn’s great trilogy. Harriet Klausner

Land Of The Dead
Thomas Harlan
Tor, Aug 4 2009, $25.95
ISBN: 9780765312044

In a rarely traveled part of space, an even rarer artifact from the glorious era of the First Sun Old Ones has been discovered. The leaders of the interplanetary Mexica Empire know the significance of the find from a historical perspective and even more important understand this is a weapon of mass destruction.

In Mexico City, the Emperor wants the relic brought under their close supervision so he sends his son, Prince Xochitl to retrieve it. At the same time Mirror Service operative Green Hummingbird, First Sun anthropological expert Gretchen Anderssen and Captain Susan Koshy are also trying to obtain the artifact. Others also make a trek to gain possession as everyone understands the impact of an Old Ones’ weapon.

The premise of In The Time of the Sixth Sun saga (see WASTELAND OF FLINT and HOUSE OF REEDS) is simplistic as Thomas Harlan changes a key pivotal sixteenth century moment in which the Japanese instead of the Spanish meet the Aztecs first. From that first encounter, the author has extrapolated an alternate history based on the Annals of Cuauhtotlan that provides the audience with a super futuristic science fiction saga. LAND OF THE DEAD is a great action-packed thriller with tense battle scenes in space as the race to possess an artifact from the era of the First Sun has everyone on edge. Green and his cohorts, and Xochitl bring to the exciting plot a human rivalry that compares how minuscule earthlings are against the big vastness of outer space. Harriet Klausner

Freda Warrington
Tor, Aug 18 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765318695

Every seven years on the Night of the Summer Stars, the Aetherials routinely move back and forth between the Spiral and the Earth when the gates between realms are opened for a short time. The Aetherials live amongst the earthlings as humans, but must go home periodically to touch their basic essence or go insane.

Their return to home trip abruptly fails this year when for no known reason the Gatekeeper Lawrence Wilder shuts the portal permanently. He proclaims danger is coming from beyond that could destroy the realms, but says nothing further. The Aetherials are stuck on Earth and panic stricken though they have lived safely as mortals amidst the humans; but these Fair Folk will go mad and die if they fail to return home. The daughter of their King Auberon, Rose Fox is attracted to one of the sons of the Gatekeeper, though both offspring Sam and Jon Wilder want her. This is not a good time for romance as the desperate visitors are losing their grips on sanity from failing to touch with their Aetherial selves on the other side of the shuttered gate.

ELFLAND, the first Book of the Silver Wheel saga, is an excellent fantasy due to the refreshing cast as the human, the Aetherial, and the Gatekeeper and his family (especially his sons) seem genuine with all types of personal conflicts and desires. Surprisingly, the story line focuses deep on the relationships (carefully keeping the romance from overwhelming the rest of the plot) between and within the two key families while one brood struggles with sanity while trying to go home. Fans will relish Freda Warrington’s opening gamut and look forward to the rest of this character driven series as the Fair Folks instinctively know time is running out on their minds. Harriet Klausner

Historical, Forensics and Lucas Davenport

Kathy is under the weather today, so here's Harriet to the rescue.

Fire in the East
Harry Sidebottom
Overlook, Oct 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781590202463

By AD 255, the Roman Empire struggles to maintain order especially in the outlying sectors as barbarians and infidels pose viable threats as Command and Control is almost nonexistent. Emperors Valerian and Gallienus send the honorary Dux Ripea, Marcus Clodius Bastilla, to take command of the legion on the eastern border.

Marcus leaves his wife in Rome and travels to his new outpost. He arrives in Arete, Syria where his force is struggling to defend against the overwhelming Sassanid Persian army. He expects reinforcements but has no idea how many or when. Meanwhile, he finds treachery and betrayal from within as traitors, especially amongst the elite patrician officers, resent someone who was not even a citizen too long ago ordering them about and the Persians have assassins trying to kill him.

This is an intriguing historical thriller that has relevance today as Harry Sidebottom provides insight into how destructive the Roman Empire can be to defend its freedoms by destroying those very liberties with security enforcement filled with bloody battles. The story line is action-packed from the moment Marcus says good bye to his wife as he deploys where he is unwanted and knows treachery and betrayal will be the norm as no one has his back except for perhaps stabbing him there.. Fans will relish this first Warriors of Rome profound thought provoking ancient historical military thriller as Mr. Sidebottom makes a strong but bloody case affirming Benjamin Franklin’s “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security”. Harriet Klausner

Blood Game
Iris Johansen
St. Martin's, Oct 20 2009, $27.99

Forensic sculpture Eve Duncan goes home after a complex mentally draining case that featured the murders of several children (see QUICKSAND). She opens her refrigerator to find a goblet with blood stains inside. It looks identical to a goblet found by the corpse of nineteen year old Nancy Jo Norris; the blood had been drained from the U.S. senator's daughter.

Eve’s lover FBI agent Joe Quinn apparently can now see dead people; at least two that is: Nancy Jo and Eve’s daughter Bonnie. He assumes that he somehow obtained this paranormal skill from psychic Megan Blair (see QUICKSAND and PANDORA'S DAUGHTER). The ghosts thirst for blood so assist the human sleuths on a search for a wannabe Dracula copy cat killer.

This is an exciting Eve Duncan serial killer thriller that increases dramatically the paranormal elements. Eve remains restless, but Joe has proven to be a comfort for her as Bonnie haunts her emotionally and haunts him directly. The story line is fast-paced as Eve and Joe with help from beyond hunt a vampire killer, but gothic overtones detract from the suspense as the lead couple is too well known by fans for the pair to be overly melodramatic. Still BLOOD GAME is a fascinating Duncan investigative tale. Harriet Klausner

Rough Country
John Sandford
Putnam, Oct 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155987

Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension Agent Virgil Flowers is in a fishing tournament when his boss Lucas Davenport calls him. Lucas directs Virgil to investigate the shooting death of Minneapolis ad executive with strong ties to the Democrats Erica McDill at the nearby Eagle Nest Lodge.

Virgil quickly heads to the Grand Rapids to learn what he can at the lodge. He interviews owner Margery Stanhope, who explains most people who stay at the lodge are lesbians. Virgil questions the all girl rock band and wealthy guests who can purchase young men or women for a tryst without blinking. As Virgil investigates he learns there was a homicide here last year that seems unrelated, but now he seeks a link when a third killing occurs. He knows he better find the killer before another homicides occur.

The setting of the lodge being a place for lesbians to relax and have fun makes for a great counter to super womanizer Virgil, who is at his outlandish amusing best as he muses whether he is in heaven or hell. The investigation is super with Virgil adjusting his theory to new clues and especially another homicide. Fans who enjoy the Davenport police procedurals will enjoy the terrific efforts of one of his detective (see DARK OF THE MOON and HEAT LIGHTNING) whose behavior is quite different from that of his superior. Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 2, 2009

Three from Me

STUFF TO SPY FOR, Don Bruns, Oceanview, $25.95, 305 pages, ISBN: 9781933515229, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

It seems that ever since James Lessor and Skip Moore bought the box truck in STUFF DREAMS ARE MADE OF, and used it as a snack unit at a tent revival in STUFF TO DIE FOR there has been nothing but trouble and more trouble in their life. Should this adventure be any different? Of course not.

Skip is hired to install a state of the art security system at Synco Systems. Synco does work for the government and other clients and since it is located in a seedier part of town, they need to have new equipment put in place. Skip hires James to be one of the installation supervisors on the job. In addition to being in charge, Skip must portray the boy friend of Sarah Crumly, an old flame, who needs to keep her affair with the boss, Sandler Conroy, below the radar of Conroy’s wife, Carol whose father owns the company.

Just as they get started, they discover the body of Ralph Walters, the company VP. It is considered to be a suicide, but there are doubts. Shortly after, Skip gets a call from Carol Conroy, who has a proposition for him.

Now James and Skip begin to be spies in more than name only with their box truck as a spymobile. As things usually go, it turns into a comedy of errors with James and Skip becoming the spied on spies.

Bruns has written another fun adventure that turns thriller novels on their side and inside out as the truth is finally revealed. It’s like Travis McGhee teamed up with Laurel and Hardy. You need to be reading this series and anything else you can find by Don Bruns, he’s that good.

A BOOK OF WIZARDS, edited by Marvin Kaye, SFBC,, 402 pages, ISBN: 9781582882925, an impression by Barry Hunter.

Although I don’t receive as many review copies as I did years ago, every now and then one slips through the cracks and is not reviewed or mentioned, that is the case with this one. I remain in the Science Fiction Book Club for offerings such as this and other multibook volumes that they publish strictly for members. This is reason enough to remain a member or join if you are not.

Marvin Kaye has done many themed anthologies, this is number sixteen, and every one of them deserves a space on the book shelf no matter how crowed they may have become. Sometimes they are picked up by a major publisher for a trade or regular paper back. Far too often, they are only appreciated by the SFBC members. In 2005, the World Fantasy Convention saw fit to award him for his collection, THE FAIR FOLK.

There are seven very good reasons to pick up this volume. Six of them are Kim Newman, Margaret Weis with Robert Krammes, Holly Phillips, Tanith Lee, Peter S. Beagle, and Patricia A. McKillip. They are the contributors of NEW not reprinted stories to this volume. The seventh is Marvin Kaye. He was able to coax wonderful stories of six talented and different writers. All are known for their fantasy writings and all are well known for their longer works. Marvin Kaye has them polishing their craft in a shorter work. Be on the lookout for this title, its well worth the hunt, even if you need to join the book club to get it.

DUSK, A Graphic Novel, David Doub, $10, 104 pages, ISBN: 9780578014364, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is a self published graphic novel written by Doub with pencils by Maki Naro, Jerry Gonzales, and Frank Czuba; inks by Chris Scott and Jerry Gonzales; and, lettered by Jaymes Reed.

This is the story of the adventures of Eve, who is the assistant to the vampire hunter, Ash as they seek to eliminate the bad seeds in their community of the undead.

In the first adventure, Eve must discover the victim of a young vampire and try to help him understand what is happening to him. Things don’t always end well for the creator or his new creation.

The second tale explains how Eve came to be where she is today and why she prefers living with the dead.

In the third story, a vampire has joined forces with a Socialist group in order to further their ambitions. It’s Eve’ and Ash’s job to stop them.

In the final story, Eve must straighten out a spell cast by an outcast teenager that has dire consequences for his high school.

This is done in black and white to keep the darker nature of the tales in perspective. While not as violent as manga comics, there is some similarity in style. Look for this at your local book store or With all of the interest in vampires, this is an interesting look with a different slant on the topic.