Friday, December 31, 2010

The Last of 2010

Hope everyone is looking forward to the new opportunities of the new year and not worrying about the missed chances of 2010. Best wishes to everyone.

Phantom Four
Roger Wilson
Outskirts Press, $14.95
ISBN: 9781432761226

In 1735 in Nepal, the Historian Professor Stevens lead Memory to the remote site where she learns her god Lucifer’s scheme to dominate the world has four Chosen ones in the way. Memory kills the professor, but concludes the Chosen Ones have not been born yet. She places a curse on them to die when they turn five years old.

In 1985 in Brooklyn Julie Smith gives birth to a quartet of fraternal boys. Her euphoric husband Damon names them Rex, Kevin, Paul and Oscar. Five years later the four brothers and their two years old sister Erica are at playground with their parents when a beam comes from a comet in space killing the quartet.

In 2010, the four shadows of the Smith quartet arise from their graveyard, but as muscular adults. They are confused as to what happened to them and who their family is though they know each other’s first names. The foursome meets women they like and grow stronger as does the curse inside of them. Soon, they find themselves at the front of a war; the battle zone is New York City and the enemy is Lucifer’s devils from hell with their beloved women their only anchor to sanity.

This is an exciting urban fantasy with a key romantic subplot that is cleverly interwoven into the action-packed story line. The lead fantastic four are clearly delineated even when they are five by their particular prowess even though having a quartet of heroes and their support can be overwhelming at times. Readers will enjoy taking the “subway to hell” as train conductor Roger Wilson provides a thrilling ride. Harriet Klausner

Haunted Echoes
Julie Ann Howell
Perseverance Press, $19.95
ISBN: 9781936051694

Having one book to her credit, Sarah Reddington faces writer’s block while her deadline to hand over her second novel to her publisher is nearing. She is staying at the Otter Cove Inn in Cape Elizabeth, Maine for a few weeks as the only guest; not even the innkeepers are around when she arrives.

Strange sounds reverberate throughout the walls; so loud that Sarah hears them. A noise in the room on the third floor scares her into running back to her writing area. She does not hear the doorknob slowly being turned until she realizes an entity besides herself is in the inn and guarding it. Her sister Abby knows she is in danger and intends to get her out of there. Before she can do that, Abby’s daughter Tessa is taken in by the spirit of the inn with no way for Abby to reach her daughter until Riley, who knows what is going on helps Abby. They must find a way in to rescue Sarah and Tessa before aunt and niece are lost forever.

Haunted Echoes’ main characters are the Victorian inn and the spirit that inhabits the haunted house. Together along with the Atlantic coast of Maine they create an eerie gothic like atmosphere. The arrival of Sarah triggers the supernatural events as the Keeper wants the visitor’s soul. Mindful of King’s The Shining even with its radically different locale, fan will enjoy this old fashion spooky haunted house thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Bards of Bone Plain
Patricia McKillip
Ace, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441019571

He wants to finish his class work so he can graduate from the school on the hill. Phelan Cle chose an easy topic for his final report, the frequently studied Bone Plain. For five centuries the legendary locale has been argued about by academia as to whether it is myth fostered by romantic poets or a lost land. Even at his bardic school, Phelan knows most assume the Bone Plain is legend with its alleged trio triad of Trials, Terrors and treasures.

Phelan’s research uncovers the story of a wandering bard Nairn the Unforgiven and the student wants to know more about him. At the same time his archeologist father Jonah digs at the ancient ruins of the city. Working at the excavation sites is Princess Beatrice, who prefers digs to dances. When the team uncovers an enigmatic disk with ancient runes on it, Phelan believes this is the key to solving the riddle of Nairn the Unforgiven while Beatrice begins to notice what has been hidden in plain sight.

This is a strange but enjoyable tale that feels like a fantasy, but is not; as Patricia McKillip provides a scholarly atmosphere in which the Lovin’ Spoonful tune “Do You Believe in Magic?” seems so apropos as there is no paranormal. The story line switches effortlessly between Phelan, Beatrice and Nairn with the language of the runes connecting the trio (everything is in threes). Fans will appreciate the low-keyed look at The Bards of Bone Plain as the present interprets the past with a contemporary filter that can lead to misinterpretation. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Autumn, Seed Seeker, and A Darker Shade of Dead reviews

David Moody
St. Martin’s Griffin, $13.99
ISBN: 9780312569983

In less than twenty-four hours, billions are dead. The virus killed so fast that on one block a William Price was first to go and within five minutes his entire street had become a cemetery. Less than 1% of mankind survived the first wave. Those who do are in shock as they say good-bye to loved ones and in Britain they soon realize when no one responds to 999 or anything on the radio that civilization as they know it is over.

Factory mechanic Carl Henshawe cannot believe his beloved wife and their little girl is dead. Computer company executive Michael Collins gives lecture to a class of teens ignoring him when he horrifically watches them die. Fighting a cold medical student Emma Mitchell skips class and goes to the nearby shop to buy food only to see the owner and other patrons die. The few survivors find one another at a dilapidated community center waiting for first responders who never come. Instead as supplies dwindle, the dead begin to reanimate. The noise of the living disturbs the undead and even loved ones are coming to silence those who have not changed; the only thing that stops them is their rotting flesh.

This is an enjoyable cerebral zombie thriller in which David Moody looks deep into the souls of those who survived the virus; for instance others like Phillip struggle to move on pass a deceased loved one. Slowly the few humans find civilization stripped bare until the only thing left is whether it is worth the fight to stay alive. Though the story line is at times deliberately slow as Michael, Carl and Emma rotate internal pensive musings, readers who relish a different bite on zombies will appreciate the grim moody atmosphere of Autumn.
Harriet Klausner

Seed Seeker
Pamela Sargent
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765314284

The sentient space traveling vessel Ship plants the human seeds on many worlds. Before disembarking, Ship always promises to return to judge humanity. On the planet Home, Ship left behind humanity (see Earthseed), but after he left the species divided into two branches (see Farseed). Inside of the dome left behind by Ship lives the Dome Dwellers who believe they only abide to the creator’s admonition of being “true humanity” while waiting for the second coming. Those who left the dome to live off the land near the great river as farmers and hunters are technologically low. These River People believe Ship’s vision for mankind is to live in harmony on Home. Each side believes strongly the other side is “contaminated”.

The River People see the strange light in the sky they assume means Ship has returned for Judgment Day. Inside the dome, excitement and fear is high that Ship has come back to see how humanity has fared. However, the dome radio operators find their communication devices fail to make contact with Ship. The River Dwellers are concerned that the Dome Dwellers have sold them out as impure. Teenagers Bian and Arnagh begin a journey to the dome to learn what is going on.

With obvious religious implications of a second coming judgment day in which each side of humanity expects Ship to choose their way of life over the other as Pamela Sargent provides a deep science fiction story in which she lucidly makes the case that materialism (Dwellers) without purpose is futile. The reactions to the anticipated return is fascinating since the Dome Dwellers insist they are “true” yet fear Judgment while the River People fear the Dome Dwellers have left them to be condemned. Although the characters are somewhat interchangeable except for the teens, readers will enjoy this philosophical look at two cultures in which regardless of what Ship rules life will never be the same as the creator has returned. Harriet Klausner

A Darker Shade of Dead
Bianca D’Arc
Kensington Brava, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758247315

Dr. Sandra McCormick knows she will go to her grave seeing the marines brutally murdered eight months ago by the zombies created by her peers led by Dr. Rodriguez who used her genetic experiments on innocent people (see Once Bitten, Twice Dead). She hopes to at least find an antidote, but has little chance of doing so under current conditions as being persona non grata except by Rodriguez, who demands she return to the zombie project or he will expose her to the world as the creator.

Still she obtains a top secret government assignment to work with the military and civilian agencies on creating the antidote under the direction of Commander Matt Sykes before the virus goes pandemic. He distrusts her as he senses she conceals something critical from him. She fears his reaction if he learns her research led to the zombie plague that killed the marines and others. Then there is Rodriguez threatening to destroy her unless she hands over her research to him.

Zombie fever fans will enjoy this entertaining romantic urban fantasy in which, as she did in Once Bitten, Twice Dead (whose leads support this tale), Bianca D’Arc refreshingly (and shockingly) has two humans fall in love. The story line is fast-paced for the most part as the stars battle zombies and Rodriquez and their attraction; however it slows down when Sandra turns lecturer explaining the zombie virus and her efforts for an antidote. Readers will want to join the scientist and the soldier at the front trying to prevent a zombie pandemic even as they fall in love. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

In the Company of Vampires
Katie MacAlister
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231604

The Fates declared that Francesca Ghetti was Benedikt Czerny’s beloved soul mate. However, Fran loves Ben, but refuses to accept destiny when she believes in free will. She leaves her beloved in Europe while returning to America (see the young adult teen fantasies CIRCUS OF THE DARNED and GOT FANGS, written as Katie Maxwell).

Five years have passed since Fran said goodbye to Ben. After rescuing her roommate from an otherworldly assault, Fran returns to the Gothfaire where they first met when she learns her mom, who remained with the troupe, vanished. Fran knows her mom would never just leave as she takes her role as the witch seriously. Accompanying her are three Viking ghosts assigned to banish Loki. She also has a rival for Ben’s affection as Naomi the tattoo artist overtly makes it clear she wants him. Finally there is the villagers’ paying homage to Wagner. With all that floating around mom still remains missing while an evil necromancer begins a deadly incantation.

This zany clever Dark Ones sentry (see The Last of the Red Hot Vampires) stars the six foot (no longer teen) in an adult role as she finds her vampiric soul mate with an apparent lover and meets his sibling. As is her personality, Fran charges ahead ready to fight anyone even her own heart while ripping skin off of everyone even Viking ghosts. Although the reunion lacks intensity beyond jealousy and sex, fans will enjoy the return as Ben and Fran lead readers on a wild tour of Europe. Harriet Klausner

Ecstasy in Darkness
Gena Showalter
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439175774

In New Chicago Ava Sans is nearing the end of her training at Alien Investigation and Renewal. Noted for being one of the rough and tough girls, her “graduation” assignment is to capture the former leader of the vampire army, Victor McKell. The AIR trainee understands that this undead has become mentally deranged in his hatred of humanity. He believes they are low on the food chain even though his kind avoids his hostility, but in spite of being a psychotic he still can manipulate time.

Although Ava assumes Victor sees her as dinner, she walks boldly on to his estate where he fails to kill her like he normally does to intruders. Instead admires her incredible body and he offers a deal to team up with her to prevent an alien queen from infecting the planet. Planning to use her as an expendable lure to draw vampires to him, McKell soon falls in love.

Gena Showalter displays her romantic fantasy writing skills with her seventh Alien Huntress thriller (see Savor Me Slowly and Seduce the Darkness) with this fascinating, seemingly improbable pairing of a predator with a huntress and somehow makes it feel plausible. He is a human consumer (literally that is) while she is a rough vampire and other alien investigative human. She prefers nips and sensual bites while he rips throats for sustenance. Although the alien queen subplot takes a back seat to the dynamic duo’s “war”, readers will appreciate this pairing as she gives as much or more than she takes. Harriet Klausner

Stronger Than Sin
Caridad Pineiro
Forever, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446543842

The Wardwell scientists almost killed Dr. Liliana Carrera so she has dedicated her life to save others from these evil maniacs. Her current patient is former NFL player Jesse Bradford whose receiving career was cut short by an injury. As she tries to help the football star recover, he conceals from her that he works for her enemy, the Wardell scientists who are blackmailing him to steal her secrets by threatening to harm his ailing sister.

Liliana falls in love with her patient; he feels the same way about his healer. Thus he also feels guilt as he is caught between the two women he loves in the world; for whichever one he saves the other is dead.

The second scintillating Sin story (see Sins of the Flesh) is a stupendous action-packed science fiction romance starring two survivors. She is a dedicated doctor while he is tacked behind the line between saving his sister and his soul mate. With a terrific medical twist re his health, fans will enjoy the latest mad scientists’’ saga as love is Stronger than Sin, but love also leads to conflicting multiple relationships. Harriet Klausner

Luck of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774692

In 1882 Cort Renier left his werewolf clan as an outcast in exile. He pursues a life of revenge. In San Francisco, Cort gets in on a high stakes poker game and wins the biggest stake.

Raised in isolation in mountainous Carantia by Franz who hid her to keep her safe, Aria di Reinardus travels to California seeking other Caranthian exiles and hopefully wehrwolfe entities like her. In San Francisco she was abducted, but Cort won her in gambling game. Cort thinks the European is perfect for his plans of revenge. With allies, he will pass Aria off as the lost Reinardus heiress and escort her to her clan in New Orleans. However, he is so consumed with vengeance, Cort fails to recognize his life mate when he met her; she knows from the start who her rescuer is. As his plans go awry due to his traitorous heart, Cort risks his life to keep his beloved safe from adversaries who fear she may be royalty and want her dead.

The latest Renier historical werewolf romance (see Bride of the Wolf) is a superb entry as the hero learns being a an avenging lone wolf is cold now that he has met his mate; although he took a long time to accept who she is. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this fine late nineteenth century paranormal with a touch of mystery while wondering just like Cort does whether his beloved actually is the Reinardus heiress; regardless he knows the Luck of the Wolf is winning her love.
Harriet Klausner

Touch of Temptation
Rhyannon Byrd
Harlequin HQN, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774791

Kellan Scott is the youngest member of his werewolf pack. He is an emotional wreck who conceals his heart from everyone even himself to avoid being hurt. He is very attracted to witch Chloe Harcourt, but works diligently to deny his feelings.

However, even with his efforts to deny his desire, Kellan begins to believe Chloe is his one. As he fears what that means, Chloe assumes her sexual need for Kellan is symptomatic of her Merrick sexual hunger heritage and the Mallory curse, which embellishes the emotions of people who come into contact with her. Both sing I’m not in love yet each wonders why this feels different.

The latest Primal Instinct romantic urban fantasy (see Touch of Seduction and Touch of Surrender) is a wonderful entry mostly due to Kellan’s denial as his refrain is I’m Not in Love (10 CC). The story line is at its best when it remains in the present conflict; when the tale focuses on the past, it loses some of its speed. Still readers will enjoy visiting the Byrd universe as the author’s deft touch makes the werewolf society seem genuine. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

News Flash

News Release

Charles R. Saunders, one of the most respected fantasy adventure writers in the field, has joined Airship 27 Productions to create a black pulp hero. Saunders is best known for his series of novels featuring Imaro, the black warrior of an ancient, mythological Africa. His work has been compared to being equal parts Robert E. Howard and J.R.R. Tolkien.

Saunders and Airship 27 Editor, Ron Fortier, have been friends for many years. Saunders had been working for a company which packages titles for Cornerstone Book Publishers as a proof-reader. It was the beginning of his first exposure to the world of pulps, one he enjoyed a great deal. He enjoyed it enough to offer Fortier an idea for a novel featuring a 1930s black avenger along the lines of the Shadow and the Spider.

“I was ecstatic when Charles brought up the idea,” says Fortier. “One of the less savory aspects of the pulps was their inherent racism. The pulps of the 1930s reflected a prejudicial ignorance that was representative of the country’s attitude during those times.” Today’s modern pulp writers and editors often grapple with this sensitive issue as whether or not to depict it accurately in their stories. Some opt to ignore it altogether.

“So that was the challenge,” Fortier continues. “Could Charles give us an African American hero and make it work in an authentic 1930’s New York setting?”

DAMBALLA, the name of the book, is Saunders’ response to that question. Cast in the mold of the classic pulp heroes, the noted author describes his new character as the 30s version of a well known cinema tough guy. “Damballa, like John Shaft, ‘will risk his neck for his fellow man,’” says Saunders. “The difference is, Damballa wears a cloak instead of leather jacket, and uses both ancient African wisdom and modern science in his battle against injustice.” Airship 27 Productions plans to release this ground breaking pulp thriller in the Spring of 2011.

Cornerstone Book Publishers also publishes Masonic and esoteric books, selected pulp fiction, art literature, limited children's books, and poetry collections. For more information about Cornerstone, go to

Airship 27 packages and publishes anthologies and novels in the pulp magazine tradition.

In the past, Airship 27 has released “Weird Horror Tales: The Feasting”, “Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective”, a series of “Captain Hazzard” pulp thrillers, more pulp fiction in “The Green Lama” and “Secret Agent X”. For more information on Airship 27, go to

I remember the Imaro stories from their first publication. Don Wollheim at DAW Books published one of them and had to have them recalled and the covers redone because it compared him to Tarzan and ERB, Inc was less than enthused by the comparison, even though I thought it was very accurate. This should be a very interesting concept. I'm looking forward to seeing this and I'm sure there are a lot of you out there as well.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Thanks for keeping up with my blog. I will not be posting for several days. Christmas and a couple of meetings and a funeral for my uncle in Alabama.

Here's hoping for a bright 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Some More From Harriet

Living Nightmare
Shannon Butcher
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451232373

Just under a decade ago, the evil Synestryn attacked the Madison household. Nika was near death, but was saved by Theroinai warrior Madoc. Since she suffered mental damage during the assault, no one believed her when she said her younger sister Tori lived, but was abducted by the vicious intruders even though the siblings have a psychic connection.

Nika became a Sentinel whose purpose for living is to rescue her sibling. However, she fears time is almost over as the link between her and Tori is dying. She vows to make an attempt to find her sister or die trying while her savior from nine years ago continues to deny his attraction to the damaged goods female who cannot be his mate yet his heart argues otherwise. If Madoc ignores his personal vow to never return to Synestryn for fear of unleashing the monster inside him, he could harm those he cares abut including Nika.

The latest Sentinel Wars romantic fantasy (see Running Scared) is a terrific tale of two star crossed lovers struggling with how they feel about one another and how to mount the sibling rescue. As the Butcher world continues to vividly expand, readers will enjoy this exciting thriller. Harriet Klausner

Elle Jasper
Signet, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451231673

In Savannah, Riley Poe reflects back to her wild youth as now she is raising her younger teenage brother, Seth. She is recognized as one of the city’s best tattoo artists; always in demand.

Seth and his friends pull a teen stunt in Bonaventure Cemetery. Their prank backfires when it frees the strigoi vampires, who leave their “prison” taking the humans with them. A desperate Riley turns to Eli Dupre and his kin to save her sibling from the vicious Victorian and Valerian who plan to convert Seth and toast their victory by dining on Riley's rare blood. Eli, sworn to protect the city from the strigoi and to keep Riley safe plans to help her rescue her brother but also hopes to persuade Riley they belong together.

The first Dark Ink Chronicles romantic urban fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a kick butt heroine whose unique blood proves more in demand than her unique tattoos. Although Riley’s personality and tattoo skills have been used in other series (see Karen E. Olson’s amateur sleuth series The Tattoo Shop), Elle Jasper’s rendition of the vampire Everdark underworld of Savannah provides a welcome addition to the sub-genre blood bank. Harriet Klausner

Blood Spells
Jessica Anderson
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451231659

The marriage between Patience and Brandt White-Eagle was nearly dead before they sent their twin sons away for the safety of the kids; now each knows it is only a question of announcing the marital wake. However, they continue their efforts to prevent the upcoming 12/21/2012 catastrophe from occurring by performing a dangerous rite to capture the Triad magic.

To their chagrin, the depressed pair not only fail to obtain the magic, but the spell backfires leaving Brandt near dead as an Aztec God is returning to regain domination. Patience knows she must go back in time to learn what curse has left them in jeopardy.

The fourth Final Prophecy “Mayan” fantasy (see Dawnkeepers, Nightkeepers and Skykeepers) is an engaging tale as the lead couple are mated Nightkeeper warriors set to fight the enemy deity, but go into combat at less than full strength because of their marital woes. Their estrangement especially shows up with the failed ritual. Character driven, series fans will relish this strong entry as the end of the world, at least for this mated pair, if not everyone, seems closer to reality.
Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Historical Reviews

The Cardinal's Blades
Pierre Pevel
PYR, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142452

In 1633 in Paris, Cardinal Richelieu as the first minister of France diligently works at insuring the French King Louis XIII is kept safe from his enemies in and out of the country. He especially fears the avarice ancestral dragons and their Black Claw agents, who have insidiously taken over much of the continent. The Black Claw especially wants to gain a foothold in France using the Spanish Ambassador to coerce the Cardinal to acquiesce.

Richielieu is very concerned with the demands. His only hope to forestall trouble for France resides with his Cardinal's Blades. However, they were disbanded in disgrace following a failed mission. The Cardinal asks the former leader sexagenarian Captain La Fargue to round up the crew; but he has doubts, if he can even find them, as they were betrayed on that ill-fated mission and Richelieu condemned them. However, for France he would die so La Fargue begins his quest to find his comrades in arms.

This an exhilarating alternate historical fantasy in which dragons soar over a Dumas’ landscape; though the sentient beasts are more off page as their attempts to enter France with insider traitorous help vs. Richelieu and his team preventing them is the plot. The first part of the saga has a zillion relatively small subplots starring as individuals mostly the former members of the Cardinal’s Blades in their own mini-lead though there are other segues (will need a scorecard); this enables the audience to know what happened to them since the fiasco “exile” and understand their specific personalities. The individual focuses converge into a super seventeenth century thriller as betrayal hinders the Cardinal’s Blades. Readers will relish this sword-fighting homage to a fantasized Three Musketeers.
Harriet Klausner

All Clear
Connie Willis
Ballantine, $26.00
ISBN: 9780553807677

The twenty-first century historians (Polly Churchill, Merope Ward, and Michael Ward) remain stuck in England during the Nazi Blitz of the country. After being separated for a time (see Blackout), they reunite in London. However, their effort to find a way to tell their future associates at Oxford in 2060 about their predicament remains impossible.

They also know time is running out before Polly’s presence causes a time paradox having been to this era once before. Their fears over the Polly quandary also have them afraid they may have already changed 1940, which will have ripple effects into their time and beyond.

The sequel to Blackout is a fantastic time travel thriller as the trio struggles with the notions that ironically time is running out on them and they may have caused a change in the future. The story line is fast-paced, but the previous tale must be read first to grasp the nuances of All Clear. Fans will relish this strong tale as the trapped threesome in 1940 is unaware that their colleagues back in 2060 are working a time correction to insure All Quiet on the Western Front. Harriet Klausner

Joel Shepherd
PYR, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142445

Following what occurred to them and others at Petrodor and knowing they are fortunate to be alive, Sasha, Kessleigh and Errolyn flee to what they hope is a haven in the Bacosh held territories. The trio stops at Tracato where they hope for a respite.

However, the large city is tense with open dissension and hostilities between the serrin elected Council and their supporters, and the former powerful feudalists as the former replaced the latter two centuries ago but the former rulers want to be back in charge. As civil war from within threatens the city, the Verenthane faithful seem ready to invade Tracato. This places Sasha and her companions in jeopardy if anyone learns her family is major followers of the Verenthane.

The latest Trial of Blood and Steel saga (see Sasha and Petrodor) is a terrific entry albeit it opens with too much of the back-story especially what occurred in Petrodor for returning readers (great for newcomers). Once that opening segue is completed and the lead trio flees the city for Tracato, the action goes hyper and never slows down as the power struggle explodes. Philosophies battle for domination leaving people like Sasha caught in the middle. Ironically the enlightened alien serrin has brought prosperity to the city, but are not human; while the human feudalists when they reigned they brought prosperity only to the elite. Yet ironically many humans support the feudalists because they are human too. Once the plot accelerates, Tracato is a thought provoking action-packed social fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 20, 2010

Press Release from Solaris Books


Download a free Eric Brown ebook!

Eric Brown’s ‘The Blue Portal’ is the opening of his upcoming novel The Kings of Eternity, which began as this short story.

Download the .epub file from our website, or find the book on Apple’s iBookstore. If you haven’t got an e-reader, just read the book in PDF format!

The Kings of Eternity
has taken SF great Eric Brown ten years to complete, it will be a major awards contender and will be released April 2011.

1999, on the threshold of a new millennium, the novelist Daniel Langham lives a reclusive life on an idyllic Greek island, hiding away from humanity and the events of the past. All that changes, however, when he meets artist Caroline Platt and finds himself falling in love. But what is his secret, and what are the horrors that haunt him?

1935. Writers Jonathon Langham and Edward Vaughan are summoned from London by their editor friend Jasper Carnegie to help investigate strange goings on in Hopton Wood. What they discover there - no less than a strange creature from another world - will change their lives forever. What they become, and their link to the novelist of the future, is the subject of Eric Brown’s most ambitious novel to date. Almost ten years in the writing, The Kings of Eternity is a novel of vast scope and depth, full of the staple tropes of the genre and yet imbued with humanity and characters you’ll come to love.

UK PB ISBN: 978-1-907519-71-0 US PB ISBN: 978-1-907519-70-3

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Devil at Midnight
Emma Holly
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237816

In 1950, her abusive father George in a rage hammered Grace Gladwell’s head one time to many leaving her in a sort of limbo; not quite dead but obviously not alive. Michael the guide lays out her choices and Grace decides the Holy Grail is a friend not family or a lover.

In 1460, Swiss mercenary leader Christian Durand sees a specter, which makes him fear he is going insane. In spite of their obvious handicap, the pair is attracted to each other. Their love enables her to have a body at times. Her periods in corporal form keeps growing. Vampire Queen Nim Wei orders Christian to escort and protect her on her trip, but he fears with good reason the sinister manipulative Undead royal has a scheme to force his odious father and him into mortal combat while all he wants is his beloved Grace.

The latest Upyr Midnight romantic fantasy is a great entry starring a fascinating lead couple and some vile secondary characters. The story line is fast-paced once Christian sees and wants the ghost of Grace and she reciprocates his desire. Fans will relish this paranormal thriller while waiting for the rest of their story in Angel at Dawn.Harriet Klausner

The Half-Made World
Felix Gilman
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765325525

At one time seemingly in ancient history or earlier the now mythical Red Republic allegedly kept some order between the industrial polluting Line and the violent prone Gun. However, that was then; now the Red Republic is a legend in which people who abhor violence and terrorism against others and the planet dream of a return as hope for the future is nonexistent.

Line Colonizers tramp west, trampling anything in their way. They enslave the native magic practitioners Hillfolk while creating their industrial revolution built on the trifold engines of religion, war and slavery. The Gun is losing the longer term war to the Line due to technological advances in weapons of mass destruction and the enemy’s willingness to ignore collateral damage to others like the Hillfolk. Psychologist Dr. Liv Alverhuysen researches the impact of the Line's noise bombs on victims who go insane. She finds one case study particularly fascinating as the scrambled mind General claims he was an officer of the Red Republic. However, the desperate Gun abducts the shrink and the lunatic just in case his story is not insane.

The Half-Made World
is a terrific alternate historical that uses the settling of the American West as a strong satire that rips the ethnic cleansing colonization and the industrial revolution polluting war machine. Not for grizzly mamas who would claim Felix Gilman is a liberal apologist, readers who relish a deep well written satire will enjoy this swift modest proposal of how the west was lost.
Harriet Klausner

Empress of Eternity
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765326645

When the moon shattered, a 2000 mile long canal ripped through the earth splitting the continent apart.

In 1351, Unity of Caelaarn. At a remote weather station, married scientists Maertyn and Maarlyna observe glacial activity that threatens the world as splinted bergs increase the danger. They are hoping to find clues to the great canal, but a budget crisis may end their research

In 2471, R.E. MetStation scientists Eltyn and Faelyna study the great canal trying to learn its secrets before the great drought destroys the continent. Confronting the encroachment of the desert, they are caught in the middle of a civil war as the hive splits into two conflicting mindsets.

In 3123, Vaniran Hegemony. Another ice age is coming as glacierization threatens the continent. Researchers Duhyle and Helkyria study the great canal at a time when local rebels want to splinter away from the one nation world government.

These three eras star scientists (and the canal) struggling with geological disasters threatening a way of life; while their leaders prefer ignoring the immense problems by kicking the issues to the future for someone else to cope with the confrontation. Rotating perspective, each entry is well written and fascinating but takes adaptation as the communications change over the two millennia. The dedicated researchers come across as heroic while government leaders are avaricious and want to maintain or gain power only. This is science fiction at its best as L.E. Modesitt Jr. condemns those who either politicize, believe or pretend that potential catastrophes (like global warming) are scientific frauds rather than take hard unpopular resolve sooner than later in this deep commentary. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Time Travel, Fantasy and More

Kathy's doing better but still recovering from her surgery. My eyes are some better, but not back to normal yet. Hopefully things will be back to normal soon.

In Dreams Begin
Skyler White
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236956

On her wedding night, Laura Armstrong is haunted by powerful dreams focused on the late Irish freedom fighter Maud Gonne. She is bewildered when she learns the vividness of what she sees are not actually dreams.

A jealous Victorian occultist Ida Jameson uses her medium skills to bring forth from the future Laura who meets and falls in love with William Butler Yeats. Occupying Maud’s body Laura becomes a sort of muse for the poet. However, Ida has an agenda for transporting Laura into the past, which leaves the latter in peril as the former wants absolute power especially over the poet encouraged by the beast of love.

This is a fascinating complex time travel tale that enables the reader to learn much about Yeats and indirectly his beloved muse Maud. However, that is also the key issue complication as Laura’s modern day assertiveness (some will say aggressiveness) takes over the personality of her host body even when the woman from the future is unaware she is in the past. Thus the readers will struggle with what is considered historical fact and what is pure fiction. Still In Dreams Begin, Skyler White provides a whimsical lyrical salute to Eire through the bridge of love that crosses the barrier of time. Harriet Klausner

Spun by Sorcery
Barbara Bretton
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236826

In Sugar Maple, Vermont, half human Chloe Hobbs has a busy schedule. She is the unelected mayor of her town; receiving training in sorcery; running her Sticks and Strings yarn shop, and making time for her beloved town purebred human soul mate Police Chief Luke Mackenzie. However, stunningly as the pair plans their future together, Sugar Maple disappears taking her cats including Penelope and her Book of Spells with the vanishing.

Her friend Janice Meany accompanied by Penny the cat arrives in Chloe’s car. The three begins investigating what happened to the town. Clues implicate Isadora the Fae as Casting Spells and imply the answers are in Salem. However, an unknown adversary wants to prevent the two females and the feline from getting to Salem. When they overcome the obstacles to reach the city, they find their adventures in strangeness have just begun.

This super New England fantasy mystery follows the threads of Laced With Magic. The story line is fast-paced yet character driven by the courageous threesome who knit together what is going on in Salem (past and present) that has stolen away Sugar Maple. Readers will enjoy the return to Sugar Maple even with the town no longer listed in MapQuest. Harriet Klausner

Enemy Within
Marcella Burnard
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236857

The Chekydran capture Captain Alexandria “Ari” Idylle and torture her. Amazingly they not only fail to kill her, but they release her. She returns home, but not to a hero’s welcome; as everyone she knows and some in the shadows she does not know assume the enemy tinkered with her brain. Even her loved ones believe the Chekydran played with her mind and therefore feel unsafe near her. She realizes her military career is dead as her superiors assume she has been brainwashed and thus a security risk.

She is forced to remain on her father’s science ship as a sort of escape from the distrustful looks. However pirates led by Captain Cullin Seaghdh take over the vessel. However, she suspects there is more to the pirate than simple looting especially as they flee a Chekydran assault ship. In fact, he stalks her like others including her former military superiors who implanted a bomb in her head that can be detonated from a distance. Though attracted to him, she knows not trust no one.

This is a terrific romantic science fiction thriller that brings to life hostilities between two races fighting to dominate the galaxy with each side using nefarious tricks and willing to sacrifice loyal citizens to gain a check in the Outer Space game of chess that seems about to turn uglier. Although the climax contains repugnant sexual abuse that readers will insist is worse than to chewing on a Nurellan lemon berry, sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong space saga, which reminds the audience of the dirty tricks of the Cold War. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 17, 2010

Magic, Trolls, Djinns and others

Zoe Archer
Zebra, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106800

Destruction is as human as apple pie; so to protect mankind from self extinction magic is hidden. Still in spite of overwhelming majorities believing magic to be a parlor trick, some Sources contain unexplained power. The Heirs of Albion want to own all the Sources to support their belief that the citizens of Britain are the master race who should dominate the lesser beings of the world. They have found the most powerful object Primal Source of Africa and now are work on learning how to use it. The Blades of the Rose oppose the Heirs.

Linguist London Harcourt is unaware that her late husband, her father Joseph Edgeworth and her brother belong to the Heirs of Albion. Joseph plans to unleash magic so Britain can rule. Thus in 1875 he takes his widowed daughter with him to Athens, Greece as she speaks an ancient dialect that will bring the wrath of the Gods to the earth. Blade Bennett Day meets London who he realizes is ignorant of the threat posed by her father. He also knows the linguist is the key to the Heirs using the Source.

The second Blades of the Rose historical romantic fantasy is a strong adventure tale as the action moves from the Mongolian setting of the Warrior to Greece. A womanizer, Bennett tries every means he knows to persuade the female to his way of thinking, but never met one as intelligent as London is; although some readers will question how smart she is when she failed to realize the nefarious activities of the three main men in her life (before Bennett). Still fans will enjoy the teaming of a refreshing woman who speaks dead languages and the suave operative as they battle her family who employ her as the expendable key to use magic to dominate the world. Harriet Klausner

Trolls in the Hamptons
Celia Jerome
DAW, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406301

Once upon a time the creatures of myths and legends (except vampires and shapeshifters) populated the land alongside of cavemen. Humans took over the land of the eldritch killing what they couldn’t understand. It became obvious that though was some cross breeding between species, they could not coexist so on the Day of Unity, an incredible degree of power caused the realm to split with a barrier to keep the two earths apart.

Graphic young adult writer and artist Willow “Willey” Tate is a descendent of the half-breeds. She draws a troll Fafhrd who comes to life, but no one can see him except her. People see the troll as trolley, tree and a bus. British Agent Grant of DUE (Department of Unexplained Events) explains to her she is a decendant of a half-breed like many ofthe people of Peaumkack Harbor in the Hamptons; and that she is to be instrumental in finding a young child Nicky stolen from the town by a megalomaniac bent on world domination. The villain needs Willey for his plan to succeed; she reluctantly agrees as an innocent child is involved who somehow is linked to her troll.

This is a fun zany romantic Hamptons fantasy with the lead couple (Willey and Grant) heating up the sheets with enough energy to keep Long island warm in the winter. There is plenty of action off the sheets too as Willey confronts one confrontation after another. However, who makes the tale fantastic by stealing the show is Fafhrd, a ten foot troll who though an illegal alien is child-like except when it comes to protecting his creator. The villain does not make an in person appearance until the climax, but his malevolence oozes throughout the exciting story line as the suspense builds to a final confrontation. Harriet Klausner

Tracey Bateman
Waterbrook, $13.99
ISBN: 9780307457172

A half a year has passed since the brutal vampiric homicides stunned the residents of the Ozark town of Abbey Hills, Missouri (see Thirsty). As Lauryn McBride observes the slow torturous death of her father from Alzheimer’s, her family auction house is hosting an estate sale of one of the murder victims, Markus Chisom.

Meanwhile, Lauryn finds letters from the 1870s in the estate addressed to the Dastillion family of New Orleans. Lauryn searches for the kin and learn they still own the same house in which the letters were sent. She informs the family and Amede Dastillion arrives in Abbey Hills allegedly to look at family heirlooms but actually hopes to find clues to her missing sister Eden. At the same time reporter Miranda James believes Markus and Eden were vampires. When a second wave of brutal vampiric homicides occur, the cops look closely at the Bayou visitor as the culprit.

The second Ozark vampiric Christian thriller is an exciting tale in which Tracey Bateman once again effortlessly merges the two sub-genres into a cohesive tale. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Amede arrives in town as she and Lauryn begin to learn the true history of Abbey hills. Although the climax seems weak and rushed, fans will fully enjoy this terrific horror suspense while thirsting for more such amalgams from Ms. Bateman. Harriet Klausner

The Bid
Kensington Aphrodisia, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758241788

Taken in chains from his planet, the hunk Vejhon the warrior is being sold as a slave at auction. Pervert Baron Majum apparently wins the rights to the platinum haired, feline eyed alien until Najir of the House of Drakoulous raises the amount to the unheard of two gems. Vejhon now belongs to Hanna master of Drakoulous who understands the strict rules governing slaves must be obeyed or else.

Vejhon is outraged by his slave status, but is attracted to his owner. Hanna reciprocates, but conceals her and her House’s covert efforts to end the barbaric practice. However, now she owns the two best looking males on the planet as she finds herself drawn to both Najir and Vejhon.

This is a terrific erotic science fiction romance as Jacquelyn Frank using the pseudonym Jax provides the sub-genre audience with a powerful outer space saga that is different from her paranormal. Even with plenty of action (in and out of bed) and a clear sense of place, the thrilling Bid is character driven by a triangle of sorts that leads the audience to wonder who will end up with the female master; if any does. Harriet Klausner

Kay Danella
Heat, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234440

Jamyl Kharym Rashad was forced to abdicate from House Dilaryn; for their safety he took his family off Lomida. His beloved daughter Asrial, no longer a sovreine, became a rim relic hunter. When her cousin Amin, who helped her parents and her when they fled for their safety, crashed his cargo ship on Lyrel 9; she took over some of his more daring missions.

Currently she is flying solo on the Castel searching a remote untouched by grounders area for relics on planet Maj. However, something happens when she enters the planetary atmosphere to her ship sending it off course. She makes it to the surface safe while wondering if it is time to use her name to obtain a corporate job in the inner rim worlds.

Asrial finds a vase containing a djinn. He informs her he is Romir. On the Castel, they make love as they are attracted to one another. However, as he revels in her passion and his first taste of freedom in ages, the vase demands his return as he is locked to his glass prison. To liberate her beloved, Asrial knows she must go home to dangerous for her Lomida, which she has avoided since she and her family became exiles.

This heated outer space romantic fantasy is a wonderful tale due to the relationship between the lead couple; as each risks death for the other (a sort of macabre erotic twist on Gift of the Magi). The story line is fast-paced, albeit a bit thinner than Romir’s third leg yet readers will relish the journey into the unique hotter than the sun Danella universe. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Handling the Undead and others

Handling the Undead
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Dunne, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312605254

The odd weather in Stockholm has had a strange effect on the city’s power grid especially an abrupt significant surge. Soon after the surge, the recently departed return to life. Many of the living are euphoric to see their loved ones. Others are not pleased. Some pray for a reanimation as they wait with hope.

David the comedian has mixed feelings when his beloved wife returns from the dead. Elderly reporter Gustav Mahler worries about him and his daughter not moving on passed the death of his grandson; he hopes for a return so he disinters the body from the lad’s grave.

This is a brilliant psychological horror thriller that looks at love and death by analyzing the return of the undead from the perspective of family members and the reanimated corpse. Readers will appreciate the actions and reactions of those living when those dead come back from the grave. Although the story line slows down under the weight of the profound psychological analysis of love and death, fans will relish the reflective story line; wondering of the essence of a person’s soul when they were alive the first time would return as them from the grave.
Harriet Klausner

Cherie Priest
Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765325785

At a Richmond hospital nurses like Mercy Lynch do everything from patient care to scrubbing blood from laundry. It is in the laundry room; Clara Barton finds Mercy and informs her that her husband died in a POW camp. Mentally and physically exhausted, Mercy receives a telegram from the Pacific Northwest informing her that her father was recently injured and dying. He wants to see her one last time.

Though estranged, Mercy decides to take the dangerous trip across the continent to Seattle in the Washington territories. The trek by rail and air across the war ravaged Confederacy to St. Louis is dangerous and the dirigible she rides crash lands after shots punctured it. In St. Louis, Mercy boards the steam engine Dreadnaught heading to Tacoma. On the Union train, Mercy meets Texas Ranger Horatio Korman who has an undercover mission he conceals form her. The trip West of the Mississippi proves dangerous though most of the Civil War battles are on the other side of the mighty river. Confederate soldiers attack, which makes Mercy wonder what cargo they carry in the forbidden cars. Worse a Mexican zombie unit assaults the train. Used to death but not the undead, Mercy may be weary, but the intrepid female vows soldiers, rangers, zombies and other ilk will not prevent her from achieving her personal quest.

The sequel to Boneshaker, Dreadnaught is a super steampunk Civil War fantasy. The courageous bone tired Mercy, who overcomes her PTSD, keeps the exciting story line focused. However, it is Cherie Priest’s grim dark 1860s Americana landscape including the aptly named train that makes for a great harrowing historical thriller. Harriet Klausner

Stars and Gods
Larry Niven
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765308641

The intent apparently is to enable the reader to have a smorgasbord of the works and ideas of award winning Larry Niven over the past six years. Parts of the tome are refreshing; ironically the nonfiction articles especially in Part Three and somewhat in Part Nine are the best inclusions. The extracts highlighting the worlds of the novels (solo or in collaboration) are also well written, but needed more insight as to what led Mr. Niven and partners to come up with concepts like Ringworld. The short stories are also fun to read especially the two from Draco Tavern. However, extracting one or two chapters from ten novels makes no sense even to introduce new readers to one of the greats of science fiction made even less appealing at hardcover prices. Harriet Klausner

Reviews from Harriet

Path of the Sun
Violette Malan
DAW, $15.00
ISBN 9780756406387

The Mercenary Brotherhood in Lesonika inform Brothers Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane that they no longer stand accused of murdering the heir to the throne of Tegrian, as the Prince has been found alive though his sister sits on the throne. The Mercenary Brotherhood assigns the exonerated pair to escort the Arderon Princess Cleona to her wedding to the Tarkin of Menoin; which means another ocean voyage for Dhulyn and Parno as the destination is an island. However, their Guild also directs the duet to investigate the disappearance of two members who traveled last year to Menoin, but have not been heard from since.

They arrive with their charge in Menoin where Dhulyn and Parno hear rumors of ritual mutilations. When the Princess is found murdered, an apparent victim of the ritual killers, the latest victim’s two former escorts follow clues that lead them into the unknown deadly Path of the Sun labyrinth.

The fourth adventures of Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane (see The Storm Watch, The Sleeping God and The Soldier King) is a super fantasy that fans of the sword and sorcery saga will relish. The accusation arch from the previous tales is nicely ended with a whimper rather than a bang while Dhulyn sums up their latest inquiry with her musing that she prefers a horse after several recent water logged escapades. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy traveling with the lead pair as they enter a labyrinth in which few get out alive. Harriet Klausner

Zoe Archer
Zebra, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420106794

In 1874 former British Army Captain Gabriel Huntley has just come home to England with no plans. However, when he sees a lone person under assault by a group, Gabe rushes in to help. He is too late to save the life of Anthony Morris. Before dying Anthony pleads with his Good Samaritan to deliver a message to Franklin Burgess in Urga, Outer Mongolia. Huntley agrees giving a death bed vow to Morris.

Huntley travels to Asia to find Burgess. He does, but the man has a broken leg and cannot follow up on Morris’ missive. Burgess explains to his visitor that he is a member of the Blade of the Rose that prevents magical objects or “sources” from the possession of the “Heirs” who want world domination. Desperate he assigns his daughter Thalia and Huntley to locate and bring in the Mongolian Source at the same time a deadly Heir seeks to obtain it too.

The first Blades of the Rose Victorian Era romantic fantasy is a fabulous thriller as the lead couple struggles with their attraction and their mission. Fast-paced and filled with action and adventure in an exotic late nineteenth century locale, Zoe Archer opens her new series with a strong tale. Harriet Klausner

The Power of Illusion
Christopher Anvil
Baen, $12.00
ISBN: 9781439134122

Baen continues paying homage to the late great Christopher Anvil, known for his witty jocular science fiction tales. The eighth and apparently last Anvil book is divided into three sections. Part I Research East includes three James Cardan tales; two shorts and one novella, The Day the Machines Stopped. Part II Solver of Problems stars Richard Verner in all seven of his short stories. Finally Part III Problems, Snafus and Fubars includes eleven miscellaneous tales with the author’s last work The Anomaly first published in this collection.

The Cardan and Verner entries are worth the price of admission as these are two delightful protagonists. Readers will especially enjoy Verner the problem solver. The third section includes well written contributions, but lacks the focus of the other two parts; making this section feeling like a bonus. One common theme that makes this twenty-one story anthology worth reading is the humor even when humanity is on the brink of extinction as Mr. Anvil made the case that The Power of Illusion is keep the reader smiling with sardonic science fiction. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Double Cross, Rise Again, and Personal Demons reviewed

Thanks to Harriet for doing what she does so well. She is truly one of a kind.

Double Cross
Carolyn Crane
Bantam, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592627

In Midcity, mastermind Packard charmed and subsequently granted Justine Jones with mental powers that she does not want. However, she has no choice so instead of hiding in trepidation as she prefers, Justine fights in the shadows against paranormal criminals although she fears her attraction to her boss.

Packard’s former best friend and current enemy Midcity’s new mayor Otto has high levels of power that match his adversary as both are at the top of the pyramid. Instead, she chooses Otto over Packard. However, Justine also uncovers a plot to kill all high caps like Packard and Otto, and that her manipulative former boss is not as evil as she originally thought. Serial killers with power never seen before are stalking and murdering the high caps.

This is a fascinating street-lit fantasy starring three interesting protagonists, but it is the grim Midcity that owns the electrifying story line. Justine assumes Packard is evil while Otto is benevolent, but soon realizes both high caps are neither pure good nor 200 proof bad. With a strong whodunit, sub-genre readers will appreciate the dark world of Carolyn Crane as Justine learns things are not always like they seem. Harriet Klausner

Rise Again
Ben Tripp
Gallery (Pocket), $15.00
ISBN: 9781439165164

It is the Fourth of July and Forest Peak, California Sheriff Danielle Adelman realizes her sister Kelley has run away. Kelley knows that while her sister’s body came home from Iraq, her mind is not in Forest Peak. Before Danielle can look for her, a warning comes over the radio that thousands of from Los Angeles are moving in the direction of Forest Peak looking for safety.

Los Angeles is ground zero; the place where the zombie plague began. The first ones are the George Romero kind who eats human flesh. Later generations are a bit smarter; reanimate quicker and has 1% cognitive ability. Danielle leads a group of survivors to a place of safety before taking off on a quest to find her sister. Her journey is in vain, but the people she left behind lost their freedom when mercenaries arrived and took over. Danielle and her allies try to find ways to rescue the civilians from criminals pretending to be soldiers. If she succeeds she plans to keep this group safe from the zombie apocalypse.

George Romero will love Rise Again (except perhaps it being in California instead of Pittsburgh), a zombie thriller that would make a terrific action movie due to a strong cast of starring characters struggling to survive by choosing to become heroic or malevolent. Danielle is a natural leader who has saved lives by leading her troupe to safety while her concern for her sibling is a powerful emotional driver. Part of the fun is the death of communication as the group has no idea what has happened on other continents in Ben Tripp’s fabulous futuristic apocalyptic thriller. Harriet Klausner

Personal Demons
Lisa Desrochers
Tor, $9.99
ISBN: 9780765328083

Frannie comes from a deeply devout family. However, when a loved one dies she questions whether religion has even a grain of truth. In fact in the seventh grade, she is tossed out of Catholic school.

Attending Haden High School which she calls Hades, seventeen year old Frannie is attracted to the new student “devil eyes” Lucifer “Luc” Cain. He reciprocates though his interest is involved in collecting her soul as he works for Hell. The angels become concerned with losing her soul so they send Gabriel. To her shock, she is attracted to “Angel Reyes” Gabe, but for entirely different reasons than why she likes Luc.

Personal Demons is an interesting high school drama starring old buddies forging a triangle of sorts with Frannie. This makes for a unique refreshing battle for a soul as free will reigns leading the audience to wonder whether she will pick the devilish bad boy or the angelic good boy. The key cast seems genuine whether they are human, demon or angel and the setting especially at “Hades” High School is perfect with the range of student types supporting the prime tug of war. Young adult readers will enjoy Lisa Derochers’ version of damn Yankees. Harriet Klausner

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Unusual Books Reviewed by Harriet

More from Harriet. Enjoy

John Dies at the End
David Wong
Dunne, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312659141

Late at night John calls his friend video-store worker David with some weird stuff. David writes it off as John using some bad drug or too much alcohol. He goes back to sleep so he can go to work at the video store without another thought about his friend John. That changes rather quickly, however; as soon after that weird call, David reevaluates his initial opinion. Creepy eeriness has come to his hometown.

The night before that ominous call, John spent time with Robert Marley. He tried a strange drug Soy Sauce, which amplified his senses including dying. David has accidentally uses Soy Sauce and is soon being interrogated by the police over some horrific murders. John, who came back from the dead, and David learn they are the goal line defense trying to prevent an invasion from the dark side.

Although well-written, this is not for everyone as the bathroom humor is very vivid. Still those who do not suffer from penis envy or puke at the sight of vomit will laugh at this dark slapstick horror thriller starring two slackers trying to save the universe from Soy Sauce and nasty invaders. Harriet Klausner

Eat Prey Love
Kerrelyn Sparks
Avon, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061958038

Her CIA father warned Caitlyn Whelan to never visit Romatech Industries for any reason. However, when she receives an invitation to attend her nephew’s birthday party at Romatech Industries, she rationalizes her dad is being overly protective. Besides she feels propelled to go meet a relative she never knew she had and to see her sister Shanna whom she has not communicated with in six years.

Caitlyn quickly learns why her father told her to never go to Romatech Industries. There she meets vampires; a species she always assumed was in novels and movies, but not real life. She is also attracted to Carlos Panterra, who reciprocates her feelings. The only problem is he is a were-panther seeking his purebred soulmate to help him raise orphans he adopted.

This terrific urban romantic fantasy stars two strong protagonists and a powerful support cast that make vampires and shapeshifters seem real. Fast-paced, readers will see the Sparks flying when Caitlyn and Carlos meet. With their Love at Stake (see Forbidden Nights with a Vampire and The Undead Next Door), sub-genre readers will enjoy this pleasurable thriller. Harriet Klausner

Jennifer Estep
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439148013

In Ashland former assassin Spider turned restaurant owner Gin Blanco hides her Stone and Ice magic as she keeps a low profile after killing an associate of the deadly Fire Elemental Mab Monroe. However, she still loathes Mab for murdering her family seventeen years ago and remains dedicated to killing her enemy.

Recently to her shock, Gin has found out that her sister Bria, who she thought died in the massacre, is alive. Gin wants to tell Ashland Police Detective Bria Coolidge that they are siblings, but their respective occupations make her hesitate especially with her plan to destroy her family’s killer. Meanwhile Mab’s prime enforcer gigantic Elliot Slater stalks vampire Roslyn Phillips. To keep Roslyn safe may mean putting her own life at risk from Slater’s humongous fists and delay implementation of her vengeance scheme.

The latest urban fantasy Elemental Assassin saga (see Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies) is a great entry as the killer heroine learns her baby sister is alive, but ironically a cop. Loaded with action from the opening Slater fists to the finish, the key to this exciting thriller is the paranormal seems genuine due to little touches; for instance Gin recovers from the flu. Readers will be engaged with Venom as Gin returns for another exciting elemental escapade. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Painted Darkness and others

The Painted Darkness
Brian James Freeman
Cemetery Dance, $19.99
ISBN: 9781587672088

This is shipping this week and is well worth the effort or price to find a copy. It is a terrific book and can be a personal look inside as well. Barry

Everyone knows five years old Henry has a vivid imagination so when his parents are away and his babysitter preoccupied, he decided to have an adventure. This was a disaster from the time he climbs on an old tree-house. He sees a skeleton, falls to the ground, follows rabbits with red eyes and falls into the frozen river. He can’t swim against the current, but he becomes caught on a tree branch. He follows the rabbits, which leads to the school where his father is eaten alive by monster rabbits. He gets home to see his father is okay, but tells him what happens as a way to release his fears.

Twenty years later, married with a son, Henry is having another adventure. There are things in the basement where there are three graves and his furnace starts to talking to him. Henry is scared to death as he hears noises throughout the house. He chalks it up to his imagination, but he is an adult not a pre-adolescent child.

Henry’s fear and imagination lead to his painting chilling but brilliant art. The chapters alternate between the past and present; enabling the reader to see the similarities between Henry the child and Henry the adult as he makes choices. This is an entertaining but frightening ride filled with heart wrenching moments as the readers wonders whether Henry is psychotic or an oracle. Harriet Klausner

Linda Gerber
Speak (Penguin), $7.99
ISBN: 9780142414156

The car accident left her mom dead and Ashlyn hurt mentally because she believes with her visions combined with that of her sister Kyra she could have prevented the tragedy. She looks back to growing up when she and her sibling learned to hide their cursed trances and the number they would write down.

Meanwhile Kyra has cut Ashlyn off, which leaves the latter believing more so she failed her mom and her family. Her father buries himself at work, which leaves Ashlyn feeling further isolated. She feels completely alone despite her efforts to connect with her father and find her sister. Unable to relate when Jake wants to know her better, Ashlyn goes deeper into her shell. Co-worker, Gina tutors her on numerology, which Ashlyn hopes will enable her to interpret the vision and prevent another tragedy as she sees another car accident occurring this time to Jake.

This is an exciting but strange tale as the siblings slowly come to somewhat understand their visions and the numbers they write down while in a Trance. Pathos filled Ashlyn makes the teen tale terrific with her intense struggle to comprehend what the number denote. Character driven, young adult readers will empathize with Ashlyn who blames herself for her failure to interpret her vision in time to save her mom’s life and hope she can this time with Jake on the line. Harriet Klausner

Everlasting Desire
Amanda Ashley
Zebra, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420104448

West Coast Vampires Master Rhys Costain has frozen his heart ever since he was betrayed by a woman over four centuries ago. However, he is surprised to be attracted to Megan DeLacey, who works evening at Shores, an exclusive men’s shop open only in the evening.

Rhys feels somewhat like an obsessed stalker as he visits the shop every night to spend time with Megan, who limits their relationship to saleswoman-customer. However, his hopes jump up when he prevents a robbery. As he makes progress, ancient vampire Tomas Villagrande encroaches in Rhys’ territory; killing without regard and leaving the West Coast Vampires in danger of discovery.

Following the events of Everlasting Kiss, the latest West Coast vampire romantic urban fantasy is a strong entry as fans of the saga will be elated that Rhys finally stars. He seems like a teen in love for the first time as he does a lot of nocturnal shopping while he tries to persuade a strong willed female they belong together. Ultra arrogant Tomas, who changed Dracula into a bloodsucker, is a great opponent who leaves drained corpses on the mean streets of Los Angeles. Rhys knows he must stop the reign of terror immediately, but now has an Achilles’ Heel for the first time in 435 years. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 10, 2010

Health Update and Reviews from Harriet

Here are some from Harriet. I have some reviews I need to write, but am having problems with diabetic retinitis and am seeing double. I'm wearing a patch for a month to see if it will clear up. I'll keep doing what I can.

The Big Stink
David Lubar
Starscape (Tor)
ISBN: 9780765323439

Belgosi Upper Elementary has a mold problem that forces the class of ten-year olds to share a room with first graders. As humiliating as that is, the eighth graders soon join them in the crowded classroom.

No longer the “giants” in their new classroom Nathan Abercrombie the accidental zombie and his two best friends Abigail, and Mookie now must put up with Ridley the eighth grade bully who out-means his younger brother Rodney the bully. Meanwhile Nathan complains about the putrid odor that he feels is all over town. He and his BFFs begin to investigate the cause of the foul odor that he believes might be emanating from RABID; while Abigail and her Uncle Dr. Cushing seek a cure for Nathan’s rotting limbs and organs, and Mookie reads comic books seeking clues on living life to the fullest as a zombie. While all that is going on, there is also Nathan’s trashy mission for BUM.

The fourth Abercrombie tweener zombie (see Dead Guy Spy and Good Soup) is an amusing tale in which the middle school audience will enjoy the vividly gross humor as the young reader will smell The Big Stink and see the high level of vomit pollution. Yet with the smell of a decaying body and crass puns, fans will laugh throughout that is when they hold back the bile.Harriet Klausner

Juggler in the Wind
Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin
Chiron Books, $8.95
ISBN: 9781935178071

In Buchanan, Kansas, fourteen year old Randy Carmichael lives with his single mom, an alcoholic. Randy is bored as they go nowhere; not to Topeka or even nearby Emporium. When the Circus Olympus arrives in town setting up near Randy's house, he is thrilled and looks forward to going. However, he is stunned when mom says no that he is not going without an explanation except she is the parent. His mom warns Randy to stay away from the circus.

Unsure why she feels so strongly, Randy cuts school to attend the show. Unable to explain to himself why, Randy leaves town with the circus. Meanwhile the performers turn out to be the ancient Greek pantheon of Gods, who though immortal have fallen mightily since they were worshiped deities. Their circus is nearly bankrupt and the law seeks to arrest them. Randy begins to suffer from odd dreams that apparently singer Johnny “Dionysus” Vine has sent him. His mom follows ready to explain who he really is though she fears she may be too late.

This is a terrific young adult thriller that provides a fascinating look at the ancient Greek Gods (mindful of classic Star Trek’s Who Mourns for Adonis?). The story line is fast-paced from the moment Randy holds a magical wand and soon gets into all sorts of adventures while joining the troupe with his panic-stricken mom in hot pursuit. Although Dionysus’ powers feel out place re his Olympus peers and their need for Randy, the Y.A. crowd and fans of Greek mythology will want to read the first Wand Bearer rustic fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Drink of Me
Jacquelyn Frank
Zebra, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420109856

The Prime Ruele and his pack arrive at a house filled with their enemy the jackals who hold one of the pack members Chayne nailed through his extremities. They know that jackals feed on emotional anguish and proceed carefully because one bite will kill them. Ruele senses someone else nearby filled with pain and sorrow. As his team kills the jackals and frees a severely hurt Chayne, Ruele finds a woman huddled on the top floor. He goes to her only to be stunned when she tells him “sange, banter mo” before going unconscious. They take her to their city Jeth. The female is battered all over her small body and when she awakens she does not know her name, how she got to the building, or how she got hurt. She calls him her mate and says he is hung well. Ruele informs her no one wants a Sange as a mate except their own kind as other species believe his is perverted due to their orgasmic bites.

Ruele calls her Mystique which she likes. Mystique seduces Ruele telepathically as he thinks of what she first said “sange, banter mo”; drink of me a sange mate affectionate phrase and sensual action. For the first time he is losing control of his mind and the rest of the pack feels it as his energy is the strongest. She begins to display telepathic and healing powers, but remains a mystery and much of the Prime remain suspicious of her and her past will soon catch up to her.

This is an enjoyable stand alone romantic fantasy that is not part of the Nightwalker-Shadowdweller saga. The Frank world is solidly established and the lead couple is an interesting pairing as both have extraordinary paranormal powers while the support cast especially his pack is strong. Although the villain is weak, readers will appreciate Jacquelyn Frank’s entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner

Haunted Honeymoon
Marta Acosta
Gallery (Pocket), $15.00
ISBN: 9781416598879

Milagro de Los Santos Milagro is unique as the only known individual to survive the vampire infection. Her reputation has spread with people from everywhere interested in what allowed her to be immune. She currently is seen with powerful Vampire Council member Ian Ducharme, but loves and misses her former fiancé Dr. Oswald Grant and misses his lunatic relatives.

In London, all hell breaks out with horrific murders seemingly everywhere Milagro goes. Though the prime suspect, she flees to her favorite “asylum”, the Grant family ranch, to ponder who would kill to frame her. However, her deliberations end when an accident leaves Milagro suffering from amnesia. She has no memory of being a vampire or Ian. Instead, Milagro returns to being the carefree party girl she was before her conversion.

The fourth Casa Dracula fantasy (see The Bride of Casa Dracula and Midnight Brunch) is a clever fascinating entry as Marta Acosta brilliantly uses amnesia to bring the heroine back to her pre Happy Hour at Casa Dracula carefree roots. Fast-paced, Haunted Honeymoon is a brisk breezy thriller as Milagro proves you can go home, sort of. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Chicks Return and another

Chicks Ahoy
Esther Freisner (editor)
Baen, Dec 7 2010, $12.00
ISBN: 9781439133019

This omnibus collection contains the frisky frolicking first three Chicks Amazonian anthology adventures. With a parry, lunge and tongue in cheek (that is the female warrior not turning the other cheek like in “The Old Grind” (Laura Frankos) but in the other’s cheek. Heroines are not afraid to fight in the MUD as George Alec Effinger affirms.

Chicks in Chainmail. These are the original twenty tales. Elizabeth Moon (she also contributes shorts to the other two collections) sets the tone with "And Ladies of the Club" as the king plans to tax bras while Janni Lee Simner answers with “Bra Melting”. Holly Lisle’s "Armor-Ella" stars six foot El and not so Prince Charming. Finally there is super mom at "Career Day" by Margaret Ball and a female guard protecting a brothel in "The Guardswoman" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (he also contributes short stories to the other two collections).

Did you say chicks?!
The second Chicks warrior anthology contains nineteen entries including a Starhawk tale by Barbara Hambly. Harry Turtledove's contribution shows the importance of gender teamwork and a “valiant vanquished” in “The Attack of the Avenging Virgins” by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (she also contributes a short story in the first book) as women (virgins and veterans) kick all types of butt.

Chicks 'n chained Males. These sixteen contributions star women in shining armor (often less attire) who come to the aid of lads in distress. Susan Casper’s “Why Do You Think They call It Middle Earth” stars a fighting female taking on dragons and other ilk to save hapless men as does “Leg Irons, The Bitch and the Wardrobe” by Ms. Frankos.

Readers of both genders will appreciate this compilation, but I suggest reading the Chicks Ahoy saga over several months as the theme is singular skewering satires summed up by “A Bitch in Time” (Doranna Durgin). Harriet Klausner

Master of Smoke
Angela Knight
Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425239162

Five years ago, the dire wolf attacked Eva Roman. She survived but was never the same. Instead she taught herself to shapeshift and successfully concealed her condition from her parents and everyone else.

That anonymity ends when the comic bookstore employee saves a man from the assault of giant white dire wolf Warlock. The person she rescues suffers from amnesia as a consequence of Warlock using a spell to steal the victim’s magical power by splitting him into three essences. She names him David; neither is aware he is Smoke the demigod Sidhe warrior. If David fails to reunite his parts into Smoke, Warlock will prove too powerful to stop. Ergo were-hitmen try to kill David and Eva as the former struggles to regain his memory and the latter wonders how to have sex with the hunk without murderous chaperones interfering.

The latest Mageverse romantic urban fantasy (see Master of Fire) is a great entry that, in spite of its January release, will be considered one of the best sub-genre books of the year. The story line is loaded with action as hostilities grow and all out war between and even within species seem imminent. While the world teeters on the brink, Eva makes the tale as she brings a sort of New York shtick to the mix with her acerbic humorous asides and in your face commentary. With warlocks, were-mobsters, vampires, witches, and Camelot, fans will appreciate the comic bookstore employee who only blinks in bed with her amnesiac as she insists she has faced much worse with customers. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

PYR Publishes It's 100th Title

Pyr Publishes Its 100th Title and Offers Free Exclusive ePub Novelette in Celebration

Milestone Reached with James Enge’s The Wolf Age

Amherst, New York – In March of this year, Pyr, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Prometheus Books, celebrated its fifth anniversary. In November, Pyr reached another milestone: publishing its one-hundredth title, The Wolf Age, by James Enge.

The Wolf Age is the third novel to feature Enge’s character Morlock Ambrosius, a wandering swordsman, an exile, and a drunk. Blood of Ambrose, Enge’s first Morlock novel, was on the Locus Recommended Reading list and a World Fantasy Award nominee for Best Novel.

“I'm honored to be Pyr’s centenarian (or centurion?),” Enge says. “Between that distinction and the World Fantasy Award nomination for Blood of Ambrose, it's been a pretty cool fall. Both the WFA nominees and the authors on the Pyr list are pretty impressive company; it's a privilege to be counted among them.”

Publishers Weekly gave The Wolf Age a starred review, calling it “harrowing and beautiful” and noting that “Enge's elegant prose perfectly captures Morlock's terse and morbid nature, which thrives in the vicious, honorable werewolf nation. Numerous intimate, complicated, and contentious relationships provide depth and gravity to the grim tale, which will enthrall fans of the dark and sinister.”

All of Enge’s Morlock Ambrosius novels and stories can be read independently, but—as Tim Pratt recently pointed out in his Locus review of The Wolf Age—reading one will make you want to seek out the others. Calling The Wolf Age “inventive and delightful,” Pratt “promptly tracked down the earlier titles, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way, because I enjoyed this one so much.” He added, “Enge is one of the most engaging of the new sword and sorcery authors, and I hope we get to follow Morlock's exploits for a long time to come.”

In honor of this burgeoning Morlock fan base, and to commemorate The Wolf Age’s status as Pyr’s one-hundredth title, Pyr is issuing a free, exclusive, ePub novelette called “Travellers' Rest.” Featuring a cover by artist Chuck Lukacs, “Travellers' Rest” is an 8,500 word original novelette, written for Pyr, which takes place before the events of Blood of Ambrose. It is available on the Pyr website,, as a free download in ePub format and will also be available via Kindle. (Two previously published Morlock short stories that take place many decades after the events of The Wolf Age—“A Book of Silences” and “Fire and Sleet” —are available on the Sample Chapters section of the Pyr website.)

Enge describes “Traveller's Rest” as “a story that's been trying to chew its way out of my head for a while now, and this seemed like a good time to release it as an introduction to Morlock. Also, Morlock’s apprentice Wyrth has a small but discerning fan base, and ‘Traveller's Rest’ gives them a chance to encounter him again.”

Enge’s highly imaginative sword and sorcery fiction mixes humor and darkness in equal measures. His writing has been compared favorably to Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, David Eddings, and, interestingly, Raymond Chandler. Lev Grossman, the New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians, finds Enge “thrilling, funny, and mysteriously moving. . . I could read him forever and never get bored.”

Pyr has been called “one of the most exciting publishers in the business” by Black Gate magazine. It was launched in March of 2005 by Prometheus Books, an independent publisher of quality nonfiction based in Amherst, New York.

John Lennon

December 8
I can only imagine the music we have missed. It was a very sad day for the world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

THE SENTINEL MAGE out in late January

The Sentinel Mage
by Emily Gee
3rd February 2011 • £7.99 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-907519-49-9
25th January 2011 • $7.99/$9.99 (US & CAN)
ISBN 978-1-907519-50-5

The start of the gripping new Cursed Kingdoms trilogy!
In a distant corner of the Seven Kingdoms, an ancient curse festers and grows, consuming everything in its path. Only one man can break it: Harkeld of Osgaard, a prince with mage’s blood in his veins. But Prince Harkeld has a bounty on his head - and assassins at his heels.

Innis is a gifted shapeshifter. Now she must do the forbidden: become a man. She must stand at Prince Harkeld’s side as his armsman, protecting and deceiving him. But the deserts of Masse are more dangerous than the assassins hunting the prince. The curse has woken deadly creatures, and the magic Prince Harkeld loathes may be the only thing standing between him and death.

The first book in a thrilling new heroic fantasy trilogy, Emily Gee’s The Sentinel Mage combines high action and an exciting new take on magic with challenging themes of identity and social taboo, as a strong cast of engaging characters races against time to save a world threatened with a horrific curse.

“Her haunting prose reads like Hans Christian Andersen for twenty-first century adults.”
– New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh

About the Author

The critically-acclaimed author of Thief With No Shadow and The Laurentine Spy, Emily Gee is also a successful romance novelist under the pen name Emily May. She has traveled much of the globe, discovering she wanted to write while riding a bus through the desert, and spent years working internationally before returning to her native New Zealand.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The HELL TRAIN Is Coming in January


Hell Train
by Christopher Fowler
January 2011 • £7.99 (UK)
ISBN 978-1-907992-43-8
January 2011 • $7.99/$9.99 (US & CAN)
ISBN 978-1-907992-44-5

Non Stop. One Way. Straight Down!

Solaris is delighted to announce the acquisition of a new horror novel, Hell Train, by Christopher Fowler, best-selling author of the Bryant & May mystery novels. Fowler says: “This is an unashamed pedal-to-the-metal supernatural thriller that goes back to my roots, and a multi-layered fun ride to the dark side. I'm thrilled to be working with the hottest new publishing house for genre fiction in the UK.”
Jonathan Oliver, editor-in-chief of Solaris, has commented: “I’ve been a fan of Christopher Fowler for a long time and have always loved his horror stories. So it’s very exciting to be working with him on this rip-roaring supernatural yarn. Christopher brings us something of the British horror film industry at its height, while also stamping his own mark on this thrilling tale.”

“Fowler writes devilishly clever and mordantly funny novels that are sometimes heartbreakingly moving.” – Val McDermid, The Times

“Christopher Fowler is an award-winning novelist who would make a good serial killer.” – Time Out


Imagine there was a supernatural chiller that Hammer Films never made. A grand epic produced at the studio’s peak, which played like a cross between the Dracula and Frankenstein films and Dr Terror’s House Of Horrors...

Four passengers meet on a train journey through Eastern Europe during the First World War, and face a mystery that must be solved if they are to survive. As the ‘Arkangel’ races through the war-torn countryside, they must find out:
What is in the casket that everyone is so afraid of?

What is the tragic secret of the veiled Red Countess who travels with them?
Why is their fellow passenger the army brigadier so feared by his own men?
And what exactly is the devilish secret of the Arkangel itself?

Bizarre creatures, satanic rites, terrified passengers and the romance of travelling by train, all in a classically styled horror novel.
Hell Train will be published in January 2012 in both the UK and the US.
About the Author

Born in Greenwich, London, Christopher Fowler has written for film, television, radio, graphic novels, and for journals ranging from The Times to The Big Issue for more than thirty years. He is a regular columnist for both The Independent on Sunday and the FT.

Fowler is the multi-award winning author of more than thirty novels and ten short-story collections, including the lauded Bryant & May mystery novels. In the past year he has been nominated for eight national book awards.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Zombies and more

Hungry for Your Love: An Anthology of Zombie Romance
Lori Perkins (Editor)
St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312650797

This is an engaging twenty-one short stories that focus on the subgenre of zombie romance. That extra twist brings the heart and soul to a well written compilation. “Romance Ain’t Dead by Jeremy Wagner stars a human husband loving his reanimated wife who drowned in Lake Michigan. Francesca Lia Block provides an amusing warm tale of two revenants meeting at “Revenants Anonymous”. "I Heart Brains" by Jaime Saare has an infected male shopping at the mall for a new body, but also meets a widow. In “Everyone I Love Is dead” by Elizabeth Coldwell stars an Undead who returns from the grave to see his beloved but she has moved on with another man. Similar in tone as Ms. Coldwell’s entry, Regina Riley provides the "Undying Love" of a zombie searching for his lost love. All the tales are fun and entertaining for fans of zombie romances as each author insures their lead couple contains fully functioning hearts as love never dies even the "Last Times at Ridgemont High" by Kilt Kilpatrick. Harriet Klausner

Indulgence in Death
J.D. Robb
Putnam, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399156878

NYPSD Homicide Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke go to Ireland on a needed vacation; their first in quite a while. When they return to New York City, Eve finds her unit struggling with an apparent serial killer (or more) who changes his or her weapon of choice; always using something that seems arcane.

First the predator murdered chauffeur Jamal Houston sitting in his limo at La Guardia with a crossbow. That is followed with the killing of prostitute Ava Crampton at Coney Island's House of Horrors using a bayonet. Soon afterward celebrity chef Luc Delaflote falls to a harpoon. Finally, a bullwhip around her neck strangled Adrianne Jonas to death. Even as they become targets, Eve, her top assistant Detective Delia Peabody and Roarke find clues that frighten them with the apparent psychopathic implications.

The long running Dallas-Roarke futuristic police procedural (see Kindred in Death and Fantasy in Death) is made fresh by the killer(s) who will remind readers of Leopold and Loeb (see the movie Compulsion) though the implication has been used in other novels. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the inquiry turns macabre and twp cops and their civilian ally become the prey of deadly predators. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this exciting entry. Harriet Klausner

Merrie Destefano
Eos, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061990816

In New Orleans, Chaz Domingue earns a living at Fresh Start counseling and protecting new clones while the resurrected deceased struggles to regain their equilibrium. His current “babysitting” newbie is Angelique. However, what should have been a simple job guiding Angelique turns nasty when he must keep the woman safe from an unknown adversary who wants her dead.

Chaz assumes that the culprits fear Angelique knows something from a prior life that they do not want revealed. Questioning Angelique divulges nothing; so Chaz is left on the defensive insuring the woman and consequently his own family are not harmed. However, he remains ignorant to the fact that a powerful cadre of Nine-Timers wants the Fresh Start secrets as the ninth bat at life is the acceptable normal last swing; this group plans to live forever at any cost to others.

The first Resurrection Chronicles is a terrific New Orleans science fiction thriller that rotates first person viewpoints with the prime star being Chaz, who fumbles, stumbles, and grumbles with keeping the newbie safe from those who want her dead. Fast-paced, readers will relish this dark New Orleans drama as the hero has no idea what he has stepped into by doing his job except he knows that Angelique is the cause that threatens him and his family. Harriet Klausner

Friday, December 3, 2010

Some interesting titles

The Iron Duke
Meljean Brook
Berkley, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236673

The Horde had conquered England; setting up its nanotechnological control tower to insure no rebellion occurred. The invincible enemy was unprepared for a pirate Rhys Trahaearn who blew up their tower and liberated the country. He became a hero and rewarded as the Iron Duke. No longer working as a pirate, respectable Rhys is a successful merchant.

A corpse is dumped from an airship landing by Rhys’ home. Half-Horde Police Detective Inspector Mina Wentworth leads the official investigation. Rhys has plans for the cop, but soon is at her side as she treks the zombie swamps after the identification of the victim leads her to conclude a sinister conspiracy plans to destroy England.

This alternate England science fiction is a terrific high seas and air adventure in which the romantic subplot is kept in the background as the lead couple struggles with saving the country. Action-packed from the moment the body fell from the sky, readers will feel they entered the world of Brooks in which nanotechnology plays a key role. Rhys is a roguish hero while Mina used to prejudice is a dedicated person who risks her life for people who look down on her mixed breeding. The Iron Duke is a fabulous thriller. Harriet Klausner

Jane and the Damned
Janet Mullany
Avon, $13.99
ISBN: 9780061958304

In 1797, Jane Austen is depressed when her manuscript is returned obviously unopened and rejected. Her father the Reverend tells her to keep trying as like him, her mom and her siblings, believe she is very talented.

Jane, her sister Cassandra and Catherine Bigg attend a dance at the Basingstoke Assembly Room. At the gala, Jane meets Sybil Smith who repairs the wannabe writer’s sleeve. Soon after her encounter with Sybil, she meets Miss Smith’s brother who tastes her blood and turns her into a vampire. Jane becomes ill and her father takes her and the rest of the family to Bath to find the cure for vampirism. When the forces of the French Revolutionary Army cross the Channel, Jane joins the English vampire corps led by Luke Venning to repel the invaders.

This is an entertaining Jane Austen vampire tale that readers of historical fantasy will enjoy although the recasting of the famous author in a variety of roles has been so frequent, it feels like its own sub-genre (see Bespelling Jane Austin, which includes a Janet Mullany novella). The story line is fast-paced as the heroine adapts to her new status, but insight into the Damned society is somewhat lacking. Still Jane and the Damned is an enjoyable early regency fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Dying to Live
Kim Paffenroth
Permuted Press (Gallery/Simon and Schuster), $15.00
ISBN: 9781439180716

Almost one year ago, the dead began to reanimate. The zombie infestation spread and soon few humans are left to choose fight or flight. Jonah Caine, a former English Lit professor, has been alone for most of this time. He prays that he find other humans, but so far has not met anyone except the undead.

Needing food, he enters a dead urban center in which the abandoned jewelry store is stocked but the liquor store has one bottle of bad bourbon left. Jonah knows how dangerous the urban centers are so hr hopes to leave soon. At a convenience store he hits the jackpot with Twinkies and snow ball cakes until zombies attack him. He kills some and flees with the zombies in chase when a man with a bullhorn calls to him. His first human he has mot seen in weeks, perhaps months. They rescue him. Their leader is Jack Lawson who welcomes Jonah into the group staying inside the Museum of Science and History. He meets Doc a former dental hygienist turned medical practitioner and the odd Milton who is different yet obsessed with rebuilding civilization; it is the latter he finds stimulating as they intellectually discuss philosophy.

This is an intriguing intelligent zombie thriller that hooks the audience from the opening when Jonah kills from a tree house. Kim Paffenroth effortlessly intertwines plenty of action with literary commentary and philosophy. Besides obvious names like Jonah and Milton, there are references from the bible, Dante’s Inferno and works of the Bard. Yet with all that the story line is loaded with action. However, it is the optimism of Milton contrasted to the grim description of a dead America especially the small Midwest city that keeps the reader’s interest in a strong fresh zombie tale. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Update and reviews

Here are some from Harriet to tide you over. Still adjusting to working again and taking care of Kathy. She's doing some better but has a way to go.

Something Wicked
Michelle Rowen
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425237465

Part Nephilim Eden Riley contains Darrak the demon inside her due to a curse. Darrak has resided in many bodies over the last three centuries, but for Eden this is a new dangerous experience as every day he possesses her means she is nearer to dying. When her psychic skills brings him physical form, she knows she likes what she sees, but must decide soon what to do before it is too late. If she exorcises the demon, he dies; if she does not she dies.

They seek a way to end his curse, which would free him, keep her alive, and have a happy new beginning together in two separate bodies. However, as they find information, Eden fears what she has learned makes her wonder if Darrak is concealing the truth from her. Darrak has issues too as the first time in all his possessions he cares about his host and does not want to hurt her. Desperate he asks a close demonic friend for advice; forgetting the first rule of demonology is never trust a demon.

The second Living in Eden urban fantasy (see The Demon In Me) is an engaging often amusing thriller as Darrak and Eden struggle with their relationship as each prays the other survives. The story line is fast-paced as Eden learns some inconvenient truths about her guest and Darrak likewise about trusting a demon. Something Wicked is something fun to read. Harriet Klausner

Seducing The Succubus
Cassie Ryan
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425236840

As she has done seemingly for eternity, Queen Lilith assigns soul collecting quotas to the four succubus demons who know they must never fail her or else. Jezebeth has been seducing men for centuries in order to darken their soul so she can deliver to her ruler.

As Jezebeth conducts business with a male, an imp arrives to warn her that the fallen Semiaszas has escaped incarceration and coming after her and her sisters. Jez realizes the imp has led a pestilence bounty hunter demon working for Semiaszas to her; the imp says he paid off Lilith and the hunter before vanishing.

Doing research for his next horror novel led Noah Halston into soul trouble when an incantation brought forth Lilith demanding one night with her or his soul. Rejecting both choices, he accepts option three taking Jezebeth to safety. Attracted to the succubus, Noah fears his soul is lost, but tries to focus on the goal of keeping her safe.

The first Sisters of Darkness erotic fantasy is a terrific tale due to the romance taking somewhat of a backseat to the danger throughout the Ryan universe of heaven and hell and points in between. Fast-paced, the trek is dangerous as demons and angels want the head of Jez while Noah wants her body and soul. Readers will enjoy the trip to safety as the politics of heaven and hell will remind the audience of the often heated Cold War. Harriet Klausner

Selfish Is The Heart
Megan Hart
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234563

Annalise Marony has doubts about her arranged upcoming marriage to Jacquin Kirkol; as neither feel any attraction to the other. Still she plans to wed him until she catches him with another woman. Annalise ends their engagement, but to avoid being forced into marriage, she becomes Handmaiden in training of the Order of Solace.

Cassian the teacher of the faith has doubts about the motives of the newest student who is older than the typical enrollee. He as her master goes all out to prove her dedication to the faith as false. She knows she must hide that she is a non-practicing believer. Annalise does so by teasing and tormenting her instructor. Their game deepens and their attraction grows stronger, each fears their soul will either wither until death or bind them together in a higher level of consciousness.

The latest Order of Solace tale (see the Pleasure And Purpose with its three novellas and No Greater Pleasure) is a super entry as Megan Hart keeps her unique erotic world fascinating by using a master as the lead male. Once again, The Handmaidens of the Order of Solace world seems plausible as it is filled with plenty of Hart due to a strong cast. Readers will relish this engaging erotic entry. Harriet Klausner