Saturday, January 30, 2010

It Was a Cold and Wintry Night

It's a cold and rainy weekend. Working on a story for a new anthology from Whortleberry Press. Also filling out forms for the VA on my claim. Reviews from Harriet follow.

Stuart Woods
Putnam, Jan 19 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156113

Stone Barrington, of counsel at Woodman & Weld, is at Elaine’s restaurant in Manhattan when he notices beautiful Carrie Cox who is in New York with dreams of becoming an actress. After she tells Stone about a great audition she had with a director who tried to rape her afterward so she threw his dinner onto his lap at a gala they both attended separately.

Stone advises her how to handle the situation; she soon gets the part and a great agent. Stone and Carrie like each other’s company, but he has to place his personal life on hold when Bill Eggers wants him to get Hildy Parsons out of trouble. Her father is a client at Woodman & Weld and knows his daughter is involved with a gigolo who anxiously waits for her trust fund to revert back to her control. Stone learns the con artist is also dealing drugs and partnered with Larsen who is managing a Ponzi scheme. They become Stone’s problem when someone he cares about wants to bring them down. Making matters more dangerous is Carrie believes her former husband is trying to kill her; she needs protection that she wants only from Stone until they obtain proof of her assertion.

Although Stone proves there are a zillion stories in New York even in one novel, Stuart Woods provides another exhilarating Barrington tale filled with serial sex, plenty of other action, and several fun investigations. After Key West (see Loitering with Intent), Stone vows divorce cases only, but he wonders how he got so involved in so many other matters though he knows the exhausting answer is women, women, and more women. Kisser is a fun lighthearted Stone Barrington thriller as the lawyer finds the mean streets of Manhattan as both welcoming and dangerous.
Harriet Klausner

The Bone Chamber
Robin Burcell
Poisoned Pen, Dec 1 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9781590583753

Her superior SAC Harcourt cut short her family vacation before it began so that FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick can draw in the features of a faceless corpse of a young woman. When the victim is identified as Alessandra the adopted daughter of the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, Fitzpatrick accompanies FBI Special Agent Zach Griffin to Rome to assist on the investigation.

They search for something called the “Third key” mentioned to Zach by FBI forensic anthropologist Tasha Gilbert who said she has been cursed by a two thousand year old spell before she died in a suspicious hit-and-run accident in the DC area. The two Feds assume the key will lead to a map buried in the crypts of Rome or Naples. They also think that is a clue to a bioterrorist plot being concocted by Carlo Adami.

This is an exciting action packed FBI Brownian thriller. The story line is fast-paced although Sydney’s constant whine with no cheese (unlike her emotional personal previous case in Face of a Killer) becomes irritating as if she is the first person to have a vacation delayed. Still the mysterious Zach and Sydney make a strong team as they try to break the Third Key code and find out what Adami has planned. Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 29, 2010

Supernatural Reviews from Harriet

Dream Stalker
Jenna Kernan
Silhouette Nocturne, Dec 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618255

In Alberta, Canada, the nightmares and hallucinations are increasing in frequency and intensity leading to Native American Michaela Proud fearing she might be going insane. However, her nocturnal dreams turn uglier when she is attacked. She wakes up in pain to find a man kneeling near her bed soothing her aches.

Inanoka shapeshifting skinwalker and healer Sebastian tells Michaela she is perfectly normal except that her spirit is under assault by an evil spirit Nagi. He also says he cannot heal her spirit but takes her to someone who can even as he is confused by his feelings towards the non believing human who is his soul mate.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy that uses Native American mythology as the basis for the strong story line. The lead couple makes a fascinating pairing as neither wants love, but have no choice while the villain is sinister and evil torturing the mind of the proud female. Sub-genre fans will appreciate Jenna Kernan’s superb thriller as beauty and the beast battle the evil that holds all the cards in the deck except for two: the king and queen of hearts. Harriet Klausner

Holiday With A Vampire III
Linda Winstead Jones, Lisa Childs and Bonnie Vanak
Silhouette Nocturne, Dec 2009, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618248

"Sundown" by Linda Winstead Jones. Vampiric bar owner Abby Brown is attracted to police detective Leo Stryker as she assist him on his investigation into a homicide related to her establishment.

"Nothing Says Christmas Like a Vampire" by Lisa Childs. After burying her beloved Nana, Sienna Briggs learns that vampires exist. The Secret Vampire Society orders Julian Vossimer to kill her as demanded by their laws; instead he wants to love her.

"Unwrapped" by Vampire Bonnie Vanak. In Maine six gremlins give vampire Adrian Thorne a Christmas gift. They dump draicon werewolf Sarah Roberts on him. He never forgave her for breaking his heart refusing to accept their species are natural enemies, but he needs the werewolf to help him track down some nasty intruder.

These are three delightful urban fantasy vampire romances that will charm those readers who enjoy a Holiday with a Vampire. Harriet Klausner

Demon Bound
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin’s, Dec 1 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943639

Punk rocker Jack Winter died thirteen years ago, but walks the streets of London because he made a Faustian deal with a demon in which he bought time (see Street Magic) but now the mage is back on the brink of death again. As the demon scorns his mortality, Jack fought death before and plans to do so again; as he will not go mildly into the night. His muse to live is Detective Inspector Pete Caldecott who saw him make that original deal when she was a teen.

Jack has kept Pete in the dark about his deal. She is irritated with him because she senses he is hiding something from her. When he goes to Thailand in a Hail Mary ploy to save his life, she follows him; not understanding what is going on, but knowing whatever it is will prove nasty.

The second grim tour of Caitlin Kittredge’s Black London is bleak and gruesome as the shadows seem ubiquitously ready to reach out to abduct the souls, minds, and bodies of the innocent. Jack is terrific as he faces his “maker” while Pete is his reason to live; in his mind she is a much nobler cause than his previous quest for life. Fans will relish this extremely dark urban fantasy as the malevolent and sinister stalk and lurk everywhere while wondering if Jack can survive having died once before. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, January 28, 2010

J D Salinger dies

J D Salinger has died at 91. His THE CATCHER IN THE RYE is one of those novels that every boy reads at least once in his lifetime.

Here are some reviews from Harriet.

Night Of The Wolves
Heather Graham
Harlequin HQN, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774043

In 1864 in New Orleans a deadly serial killer shakes up the locals as well as the occupying army. Union officer Lieutenant Aldridge asks for former Confederate soldier Dr. Cody Fox who is sent to investigate as he has previous experience with these types of killings back in Alexandria in 1859 with a decapitating vicious serial killer. His assignment is to solve who is behind the mass murders and prevent more from happening.

Alex Green heads west to be with her father, but she arrives in Victory, Texas to learn he is dead although she is unaware how he died as no one will whisper a word of it as if they feared his fate if they say anything. Meanwhile deadly outlaw Milo Roundtree arrives in town as does Cody tracking the culprit who most believe is the vicious criminal. When Milo places a knife at Alex's throat, Cody kills him saving her life. However, nothing is resolved as the mass graves are empty and rumors abound to stay in-doors once the sun goes down.

This is a refreshing vampire historical romantic fantasy. The cast is solid especially the lead couple, the townsfolk, and the key second in command of the bloodsuckers who cleverly is hidden in plain sight. The prime weapon against the undead seems much more effective and realistic than the usual stake as Heather Graham provides a fun fast-paced story line as vampires and hunters collide in Civil War Texas. Harriet Klausner

Veil Of Shadows
Jennifer Armintrout
Mira, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778326786

With the deaths of her royal parents Queen Ayla and Malachai during the battle between Lightworld and the Darkworld elves and waterhorses (see the second book Child of Darkness); the heir to the throne of Faery Queene, Cerridwen flees to the Upworld human realm. Accompanying her in order to keep her safe is her late mom’s chosen betrothed for her Cedric. They make it to Eire, the last fairy realm amidst the mortals.

Ruling over Eire in the new queene’s absence is the High Priestess Danae. Although she pretends to bow to Cerridwen as the rightful ruler of the Fae, she is setting up her highness to destroy her so she can reign as the rightful ruler. With no experience as a leader making life and death decisions, Cerridwen must learn fast or see the usurper take her crown, kill her allies, and plunge her people into civil war at a time they need unity to battle the Darkworld denizen.

The third Lightworld/ Darkworld (see the first book Queene of Light) centers on the next generation as Cerridwen with Cedric at her side having her back covered battles an internal betrayal as well as the Darkworld invaders. The story line is fast-paced with the romantic subplot enhancing the political seditious intrigue that threatens the heroine. Although it helps considerably to have read the previous two tales especially the Child of Darkness to understand how Cerridwen finds herself struggling to survive, fans will enjoy this exhilarating fantasy as the war has moved to Eire in the Upworld. Harriet Klausner

A Mermaid's Ransom
Joey W. Hill
Berkley, Dec 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230688

Alexis has grown up in clam serene waters. The daughter of Jonah the angel and Anna the mermaid (see A Mermaid’s Kiss) decides to go to college. However, she begins having dark dreams that frighten the innocent mer-angel.

Dante the Dark One vampire rules the Underground although he prefers to escape his destiny. His scheme is to kidnap the beautiful mer-angel daughter of the enemy’s military leader. However, when he snatches the Prime Legion Commander’s daughter he is stunned by the purity of her soul reaching out to his tortured mind. She makes him believe even he has goodness. Before he turns, Dante realizes he must rid himself of Alexis, but cannot as she not just brought back his soul, she also owns it.

The latest Daughters of Arianne oceanic-urban romantic fantasy (see A Witches Beauty) is much darker than the previous entries as Dante appears evil through much of the first part of the book. His potential transition from total darkness comes at a cost to Alexis who has lived a warm loving life until the dreams assault her followed by his appearance; as he has brought malevolent shadows into her previous 100% light. He is a hybrid too; the offspring of hellish violence between a vampire and a Dark One, Dante knows abuse and loathing domination fuel existence until he meets Alexis. Readers will be spellbound as the prize in the battle between good and evil is the soul of the loser as one of them must turn. Harriet Klausne

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More from Harriet

Douglas Preston
Forge, Jan 5 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765317681

College dropout turned waitress and amateur astronomer Abbey Straw believes she and her BFF Jackie saw a meteor crash near the Maine coast where she lives. The two young females agree to search the nearby barrier islands as Abbey using wave theory believes the meteor struck land. The plan is to sell the finds on E-Bay.

Meanwhile the president's science adviser Stanton Lockwood III asks former CIA filed operative Wyman Ford to investigate the sudden flooding of radioactive gemstones in Cambodia. At about the same time Stanton makes his request that seems more like an order to Wyman,on the West Coast, just before he is murdered Professor Jason Freeman sends a classified file containing proof of abnormal gamma ray activity on Mars to mission technician Mark Corso of the National Propulsion Facility. Soon these three diverse scenarios converge with sixty hours to countdown impact.

This is an engaging science fiction thriller that hooks the audience from the moment Wyman begins his inquiry and never slows down as California, Maine and Cambodia hook up. The story line is fast-paced as fans will welcome the return of Wyman (see Blasphemy), but in many ways the brilliant slacker with her naive innocence makes the tale fresh. Harriet Klausner

Hiding Hand
Lee Denning
Twilight Times, Oct 2008, $19.95
ISBN: 9781606190166

In Ireland, the Mullah waits impatiently for the moment to strike as his aid the Crone cautions him. They plot to abduct eight year old Eva Connard, a chimera of sorts as Nova sapiens. Her eighteen years old step-brother Joshua “Magician” O’Donnell vows to keep her safe.

However, in spite of his efforts and that of their Uncle Hamilton O’Donnell, the Mullah abducts Eva as he wants to control the power of this new evolutionary line as some insist she is the new Messiah. Joshua tries to rescue his sibling, but his attempts prove futile. Instead of saving Eva from the “pious” Muslim cleric, he manages to rescue Elia. As they fall in love, Josh, with the help of “Unca Ham”, mounts a rescue mission only to have his beloved abducted.

The next generation offspring from the heroes of MONKEY TRAP make for a terrific romantic science fiction tale as the young precocious hybrid seeks a place in the world of Neanderthals while caught between ambitious modern day Lady Macbeths especially the psychopath Mullah. Although the villain is obvious early on unlike the first book, team Dennng keeps the suspense high with a strong cast starring in the middle Nova Sapiens thriller. Harriet Klausner

What I Wore to Save the World
Maryrose Wood
Berkley Jam, Dec 2009, $9.99
ISBN: 9780425229675

Millenia ago Queen Titania of Faerie and a mortal produced a hybrid offspring. In the present Morgan Rawlinsonis a direct descendent of that long ago child; her DNA is half faerie Faerie although her parents are totally human. They pressure Morgan to choose a college although she has poor grades, a low SAT score, and no community service.

She is sent to a paying advisor who insists he can get her into Oxford on a full scholarship. While she prepares to go to England (not Mississippi); her Irish boyfriend Colin asks her to meet him at a resort in Wales. When she arrives, Colin swears he never sent her an email, but she soon learns the Oxford offer and the odd email has to do with Queen Titania lifting the veil between the two realms. She has to be stopped, but Colin believes she lied to him because she omitted to tell him she is a demi goddess. Between saving the world and her relationship, college has fallen to the bottom of Morgan’s agenda just after what she should wear to save the world.

The third Morgan teen fantasy (see Why I Let My Hair Grow Out and How I Found the Perfect Dress) is a fun fast-paced frolic that young adolescents will especially enjoy the wee bit of magic in the world of Maryrose Wood. The seventeen years old heroine is a down to earth and pragmatic with a touch of romance in her soul as she loves her Colin, but fears he will reject her once he learns of her bloodline. Colin is science so Mojo magic goes against his belief in physics; yet he must adapt if he wants to remain with the woman he loves as she tries to save the world from the actions of her great ancestor many generations removed. Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 25, 2010

Atlanta Comic Convention

The Atlanta Comic Convention will be held on Sunday, February 7, 2010 from 11:00am to 5:00pm at the Atlanta Marriot Century Center, 2000 Century Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30345. The special guest is Joseph Michael Linsner creator of Dawn and the Goddess series of comics. He is also well known for his Conan and other comics’ covers. Joe is always very approachable and has a good time whenever he’s a guest.

For more details, check out the website at or call 404-325-0000. There will be multiple door prize drawings, millions of golden, silver and modern age comics, anime, toys, games, movies and more. A good time is always had by all.

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever
Molly Harper
Pocket, Jan 10 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416589440

A drunk thought Jane Jameson was a deer and shot her. As she lay dying, the vampire Gabriel turns her into a creature of the night like he is (see Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs). They forge a unique relationship of sire and fledgling as well as lovers. They are touring Europe, but Jane knows her mate is not having a good time because at each hotel they stop at he receives a letter that he refuses to discuss with her.

In Brussels, Jane finally sees one of letters sent by Jeanine; it reads like a love letter. Tired of the strange calls, the secret letters, and his refusal to explain what is bothering him, she leaves returning to Half Moon Hollow by herself. She opens a new bookstore aimed at vampires as customers. She also tries to find a way to get her friend’s Zeb’s house built as his wife’s family keeps sending the construction crews away. Jane begins receiving threatening letters warning her to stay away from Gabriel or else. With her life in danger, she needs to persuade her sire to tell her the truth.

Molly Harper has written another delightful vampire tale (see Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men) filled with romance, intrigue and a strong cast. Some family members are in denial refusing to accept Jane’s Undead living condition especially her sister and grandmother who want her booted out the family. This leads to some humorous scenarios that act as a counter to the threat. Although the plot is a bit thin, fans will enjoy this nice girl who has adapted quickly to living forever. Harriet Klausner

Brooklyn Knight
C.J. Henderson
Tor, Jan 5 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765320834

A legend, Brooklyn Museum curator Professor Piers Knight enjoys collecting paranormal artifacts. His newest employee, summer intern Bridget Elkins is in awe and shock before she meets the mythical Professor Knight, known for finding the historical ancient lost and arcane.

Dr. Ashur Ungari in panic calls from the Middle East while Professor Knight shows Manhattan Island from a different perspective than Bridget ever noticed or hace been aware exists; explaining further that Jersey on the other side of the water is insignificant and Queens is the dumping ground. However Ashur tells Knight he found the site of Memak’tori in Assad’s Syria; the birthplace of civilization. However, as Ashur describes the dig in terms of future archeologists uncovering the Empire State Building, astral thieves including a fire elemental and a terrorist try to steal the mysterious Dream Stone, the heart of an incredible find. Another elemental also comes for the stone with Knight leading the counterinsurgency against the paranormal horde and their evil allies.

Although the Professor never lets his hair down even when Briget throws herself at him (blushes and nitrates are not enough) and the NuYawk accent feels forced, fans will enjoy this over the top of at least the Observation Tower of the Empire State Building. Readers will relish the fast-pace from the frantic call by Ungari to the final climax in National Historic Landmark Brooklyn's Green-Wood Cemetery as this is a fun pulp fiction paranormal thriller. Harriet Klausner

Laura Bynum
Pocket, Jan 5 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781439123348

In 2012, a virus terrorism attack annihilated a bout half the American population. A new government with martial law enforcement is forged out of the abyss. The Confederation of the Willing implant an electronic device in the necks of all citizens that so that if a person utters any of the red-listed words, they trigger the slate gizmo and die as the Blue Coats police are everywhere sadistically relishing punishing felons.

In 2012 Harper Adams was a little girl when she survived the disaster. She is careful not to activate the slate in her neck. In 2026, Sentient Baumfree selects her as a Potential because she has paranormal skills. Harper works hard to be the best Monitor until 2045 however, when she has an apostasy when her daughter’s name Veracity is added to the death list of banned words. The resistance movement guided by the pre-doomsday pandemic tome, The Book of Noah, recruits Harper to join their counterinsurgency from within a corrupt system.

This is an exciting 1984 type futuristic thriller that grips the audience from the onset with its word list and never slows down as ban has new meaning. The story line is driven by Harper who will do anything to be able to say her daughter’s name with impunity. Although the Confederation of the Willing never seems quite as nasty as say Big Brother except when the tall eerie Baumfree recruits twelfth graders, fans will appreciate this dark post apocalyptic future. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Seven Deadly Pleasures

SEVEN DEADLY PLEASURES, Michael Aronovitz, Hippocampus Press, $15, 250 pages, ISBN: 9780982429600, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Once in a while a new writer comes along and shows a knack for surprising the reader and presenting his story in a new and interesting way. Aronovitz is one of those writers who has surprised me in this first encounter with his work. Three of the stories have appeared in other venues and the other four appear here for the first time.

“How Bria Died” is a high school ghost story and a tale about broken promises. “The Clever Mask” tells of a man who makes a bet with the Grim Reaper only to learn that it would have been better to make a deal with the devil. “Quest for Sadness” is the story of a man seeking to find the origin of woe. “The Legend of the Slither-Shifter” introduces us to one of the strangest baby sitters ever. “The Exterminator” gives us another reason to dislike clowns. “Passive Passenger” is an online game where gaining experience points takes on a completely new meaning.

“Toll Booth” is the longest and best story in the collection. It is a tale of teenage pranks, betrayal, and death. It shows the development of character and a mastery of storytelling.

Aronovitz will be a name that will be seen more in the future. Pick this volume up to be one of the first to experience a new name in horror.

Friday, January 22, 2010

dgk goldberg

There are always certain people who make such an impression on you that their memory is always a part of you. Kelly Goldberg was one of those people. We only met once or twice at conventions, but her personality and writing ability made a strong dent in my memory that has lasted long after her passing in 2005.

She also made a strong impression on Jean Goldstrom, Gary Markette and the readers of After she died they started the dgk goldberg Horror Award, but due to the economy and other factors it has not been awarded.

This week I received an email from a friend of Kelly's, Elaine Dinerman, and was able to put her in touch with Jean and Gary. She is going to fund the award and the other awards that Anotherealm bestows.

Thank you Elaine for doing this and helping to keep Kelly's memory and legacy alive

Harriet's Reviews

JR Ward
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228215

Before he died Jim Heron never thought much of the afterlife as a special unit soldier who could be killed on a dangerous deployment at any moment. However he never expected his demise would be at a construction site. Nor was he prepared for his new assignment as a front line operative in the “war” between angels and demons; which seem to echo his old work for the military. His afterlife job is to save seven souls; each with a different one of the deadly sins sinking the person. The magnificent seven represent mankind so Jim understands the consequence if he fails to win this weird wager as the stake is humanity.

The first soul on the line is avaricious business mogul Vin Di Pietro, whose future fiancée Marie-Terese Boudreau sold her soul to evil to save her son. All Jim has to do is save the soul of Vin while finding an escape clause for Marie-Terese without harming her offspring. A simple scenario for his handler to outline, but Jim knows how easy a plan collapses when dealing with humans only; throw in angels, demons, and who knows what else they hid from him and all he wants to do is ride away on his bike.

Moving from the exhilarating Black Daggerhood urban fantasy saga, JR Ward starts her new series The Fall Angels with a great opening act. Readers obtain enough of a taste of Ward world to understand how complex yet simplified it is. Jim is a fascinating champion who knows vengeance may be the lord’s domain, but he understands that; saving souls is out side his job description. With a strong cast of lost soul humans, angels, and demons fans will enjoy the exciting COVET and look forward to six more deadly sins. Harriet Klausner

Iain M. Banks
Orbit, $25.99
ISBN: 9780316071987

The Concern oversees the behavior of leaders on what appears to be an infinite number of parallel worlds. When they feel a person may cause worldwide harm, they send their Transitionary agents to assassinate that individual. The Transitionaries alight from one world to another by using a drug septus that enable their movement.

One of the more adept Transitionary assassins is Temudjin Oh, who has recently began to doubt the missions as he questions the morality of intrusion and murder even as he understands he is an “Unreliable Narrator” telling an obvious false tale based on his wrong premise. While his ethical concerns grow with each hit, others have problems too but different from his hesitation to kill. Mrs. Mulverhill for instance opposes the Concern and has started a small rebellion while Patient 8262 fakes mental illnesses to gain hospitalizations in order to avoid Transitionary assignments. Mulverhill considers Patient 8262, but actively tries to recruit Oh.

TRANSITION is a terrific cerebral science fiction thriller that demands people scrutinize and probe what is going on in their world instead of just acquiescing and accepting. With obvious implication and condemnation of the Iraq government change Iain M. Bank makes a case that instead of inane shallow bumper sticker analysis people need to dig into the essence and the background like Oh who no longer trusts or believes in the “benevolent” Concern as the members have their own agendas. With surprisingly plenty of action considering the intelligent design of the novel, fans will join Oh in Tibet, Venice, London and elsewhere as he struggles with the universal question of to kill or not to kill and be killed. Harriet Klausner

Cayla Kluver
Amazon Encore, $24.95
ISBN: 978-1595910554

King Adrik of Hytanica informs his daughter Alera, who just turned seventeen; she will marry one of her suitors before her next birthday. Alera is concerned with her choices as only one meets the rules of the kingdom for marrying a princess. She wants no part of arrogant womanizer Steldor. Only the twenty years old rake’s father, Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan, believes in the potential of his son. Steldor likes his hedonistic world but has problems with understanding Alera who rejects his charm.

Meanwhile the century old war between Hytanica and the Kingdom of Cokyri has become heated again after a sixteen-year dormant period though neither side of the dispute quite remembers the details behind the legendary LEGACY. The two kingdoms disagree on the value of women in society with the Cokyrians placing females in positions of leadership and power while in Hytanica they are second class citizens. Atrocities by the Cokyri have arisen as they did sixteen years ago with the kidnapping and murders of infant sons of Hytanica nobles. However, Narian survived the ordeal, learned what his heritage is and Cokyrian tactics before he came home to Hytanica as either its war leader or its Quisling destroyer especially since he and the about to be married Alera are attracted to one another.

LEGACY is a deep historical romance that in some ways will remind the audience of the late period of the Hundred Years War. The story line is driven by the cast especially those in Hytanica where the monarch is tired and believes new blood is needed, but distrusts his daughter to achieve this; ironically if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the heir and not just the wife and mother of the heirs. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this strong tale as the deep characterizations make for a super thriller filled with plenty of military and not so noblesse action.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More Good Reads From Harriet

Deeper than the Dead
Tami Hoag
Dutton, Dec 29 2009, $26.95
ISBN: 9780525951308

In 1985 in Oak Knoll in Southern California, fifth-grader Tommy Crane and Wendy Morgan run away from the class bully Dennis Farman and his flunkie Cody Roach when the fleeing pair trips over over the head of a dead woman. The victim was buried in the woody section of Oakwood Park up to her neck; her eyes and mouth glued shut. Their fifth grade teacher Anne Navarre tries to help the two children cope.

Sheriff's Detective Tony Mendez has just come home from attending an eleven-week profiling class at the FBI Academy. He points out this is the third victim in two years, but Dennis’ father Chief Deputy Frank Farman says it is only two inside their jurisdiction and insists “signatures” have nothing to do with the case. Sheriff Cal Dixon points out the differences in the profile between this case and the previous two. Meanwhile Anne becomes the prime suspect as FBI Agent Vince Leone arrives to lead the investigation.

This is an exhilarating serial killer thriller made fresh by using the mid 1980s as the date so that profiling remains voodoo to some old time law enforcement officials. The story line is fast paced from the moment Tommy trips over the head of the mostly interred victim and never slows down until the climax in a hospital room and a drive on the Interstate. Although too many threads are left dangling even for a sequel or two, fans will relish Tamu Hoag’s enjoyable Reagan Era police procedural. Harriet Klausner

Fired Up
Jayne Ann Krentz
Putnam, Dec 29 2009, $265.95
ISBN: 9780399155963

Jack Winters, descendant of alchemist Nicholas Winters, who in the 1660s created the Burning Lamp, which increases psychic powers in a person with paranormal skills and gives them a new one br at a horrible cost. Those with the dominant gene become insane unless they find the Burning Lamp and the female psychic who can work dreamlight produced by that object. Jack fears he is cursed because he can suddenly induce nightmares in people while he suffers blackouts and sleepwalks.

Jack seeks out private investigator Chloe Harper, a high level psi who can work with dream energy. Through her aunt, she locates the Burning Lamp; the owner is happy to get rid of it as it makes him uneasy. The organization Nightshade, made up of paranormal criminals want the Burning Lamp too. While on the run from these thugs, Chloe uses the artifact on Jack who has fallen in love with her; she reciprocates. While praying use of the map turns him into a safe psi, Nightshade capture Chloe, who believe they possess the perfect way to force her to work for them.

This Arcane Society tale is the first book of the Dreamlight trilogy, which occurs in the present; books two and three will be in the Victorian Era and the far future on Planet harmony respectively. The story line is fast-paced from the opening three centuries ago as the rivalry between Nicholas and Sebastian Jones heats up and never slows down as Nicholas and Chloe team up. Fans of this brilliant author will enjoy this romantic suspense as the lead couple is a wonderful pairing and the support cast either quirky or deadly quirky. Readers will enjoy this strong contemporary and look forward to the talent of the author to take her saga historically and futuristically. Harriet Klausner

The Wolf at the Door
Jack Higgins
Putnam, Jan 5 2010, $26.95
ISBN 9780399156120

In Quoque, Long island a man waits at a pier for Blake Johnson, security adviser to the POTUS, to dock his vessel the Lively Jane; his mission is to kill the American. The British Prime Minister ordered top operatives Harry Miller and Sean Dillon to attend a U.N. gathering in which Russian Federation Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is speaking. The President wants Blake who will be at the gala to gauge the Russian delegation.

Harry takes a walk in Central Park but is also stalked and attacked. In London, General Charles Ferguson leaves a late-night meeting of ministers only to see his car with the driver inside explode. Although all roads lead to Moscow, none of the operatives realize Putin has hired the best assassin in the world Daniel Holley to eliminate the agents who have interfered with the Russian’s plans for world domination; that is except Dillon who fears his most dreaded enemy has surfaced.

The latest Sean Dillon and company espionage thriller (see A Darker Place) is a super entry that moves on several subplots before converging for quite a climax. The story line focuses with back stories on how each chosen victim was targeted, stalked and attacked with an emphasis on Holly who ironically and fascinatingly holds the plot together; as opposed to Dillon and the other heroes. Jack Higgins proves he remains one of the grandmasters of the international intrigue thriller with this great entry. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Just Reviews

Total Oblivion, More or Less
Alan DeNiro
Ballantine, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553592542

No one in the Minnesota town was prepared for the invaders, the ancient Scythians wearing NBA Lakers jerseys. Everyone was captured and placed in camps. However, survival takes a plunge and not because all non-fast food joints were closed. Wasps were transmitting a new form of the deadly plague by air and by sting.

Sixteen year old Macy and her family manage to escape to the Mississippi hoping to find a safe haven in what is left of civilization. None quite realize the invaders have taken over the country and are now at war with one another to see just who will be the top lord. However, Macy and family manage to reach St. Louis, where her dad says he has a job at a university’s astronomy department. As Macy recovers from the plague, she meets Em the submarine captain and Wye whom she is not sure of whose side he is loyal to while her brother is sent for trial to Nueva Roma and her sister is sold into indentured servitude while her father has become the leading astrologer in the Mississippi.

Not for everyone, Total Oblivion, More or Less is an enjoyable futuristic thriller in which the conquering invaders come from the ancient past. The story line is a combination whimsical look at what truly civilization is when calamity strikes on a mass scale in a world gone mad. Sub-genre fans will enjoy traveling the DeNiro American landscape escorted by courageous Macy who learns the mighty Mississippi means civilization to all types of groups. Harriet Klausner

Wild Instinct
Sarah McCarty
Heat, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425227619

"Garrett". The werewolf clan rejects Garrett due to his human blood. However, they turn to him to rescue Sarah Anne, whose son is missing and daughter may prove to be the child prophesized as the bringer of doom. Still he knows his mate when he meets her and will risk his life to keep her safe.

"Daire". The werewolf Daire saves Teri, but cannot save her unborn. He knows his mate, but she believes his bond is not one of love but of protectiveness. Daire has to persuade her it is both.

"Curran". He seeks Rachel, who has Sarah Anne's son with her. When Curran finds the pair he knows she is his mate, but she rejects his assertion and distrusts him to bring the duo to safety.

These three exciting interrelated werewolf romances contain fully developed characters who make for a strong thriller as the sex is hot but not over-gorging the action-packed story lines especially the relationship issues as the men know but the women doubt. Sarah McCarty provides her audience with a superb collection.
Harriet Klausner

Hallowed Circle
Linda Robertson
Juno (Pocket), $7.99
ISBN: 9781439156780

Lydia Whitmore of the Witch Elders Council nominates Persephone Alcmedi to be the next of High Priestess of the Cleveland coven. Instead of euphoria Seph is dismayed for several reasons starting with her being a solitary act belonging to no coven. She is also the guardian of Beverly, whose mother died. Then there is the problem of her wearing the stain of the vampire Menessos, which leads to her being stronger than most mortals.

If the Elders learn she wears a vampire’s stain, she will be Bindspoken, unable to use her power. Finally, she is The Lustrata the walker between two worlds who brings balance preventing wars between species. However in spite of all that and what she knows about what happened to the missing previous coven chief Vivian Diamond, Seph does not believe the other nominee snobby but talented Hunter Hopewell would make a good leader at a time when the Cleveland coven crowd needs one. By the time the competition ends, Seph is bound to the head of the Council, Menessos and Johnny the werewolf but it is as The Lustrata that she must prepare for war as the treaty involving the fairies was broken.

Seph is linked to several diverse groups who are natural enemies, but needs to find her own path to fulfill the role destiny has in store for her. She has the favor of the Goddess but it is through the competition that she sees who she is, what her strengths and what she must do. Linda Robertson has written en enthralling supernatural urban fantasy filled with mystery, romance, and intrigue. Hallowed Circle is loaded with action and a cast who make the paranormal seem normal so much so that readers will believe that they exist. Hallowed Circle, like its predecessor Vicious Circle, is an entertaining heroine driven urban fantasy.
Harriet Klausner

Monday, January 18, 2010

Avatar took the Golden Globes for director and film and usually this means they are favored for the Academy Awards. It also has become the third biggest film of all time and looks to go higher.

Kitty’s House of Horrors
Carrie Vaughn
Grand Central, $$7.99
ISBN: 9780446199551

One of the talk radio hosts on KNOB is werewolf Kitty Norville, who was forced to change on the air. Since her outing, other supernaturals that include weres, vampires and psychics have also come out in the open. Mortals either believe or think strongly a conspiratorial fraud is occurring. The paranormal want acceptance in a mundane world so when SuperByte approaches Kitty to join others of her supernatural kind on a reality TV show, she accepts.

They are flown to a lodge in the mountainous wilds of Montana with no one around for miles. At first the filming proceeds like any reality show, but soon the weres, vampires, and psychics wake up to find all electrical power cut off and three crewmen dead in the plane and three others missing. They are further trapped and isolated by silver fences and weapons. The contestants know they are in mortal danger. A natural leader, Kitty takes charge with resolute determination to kill her enemy before they kill her. Lives are lost on both sides as Kitty struggles to prevent a massacre in the lodge prison.

Romance, action, and mystery come together in this fabulous urban fantasy mindful in a paranormal way of Christie’s And Then There Was None. Kitty is an alpha Lara Croft type heroine who goes into danger with her eyes wide open and a grit to be the predator and not the prey. She not only becomes the leader, she is there only hope of survival as slim as that seems as Kitty’s House of Horrors is a death trap.
Harriet Klausner

The Silver Skull
Mark Chadbourn
Pyr, $16.00
ISBN: 9781591027836

Will Swyfte may be Elizabethan England's greatest spy, but he is used to thwarting no one as his image is just that, a façade to give the beleaguered people a hero. However, this time his superior Walsingham assigns Swyfte to a real project. He must prevent the Faerie and their Spanish minion from acquiring the Skull, the Key and the Shield; if the enemy obtains the three magical artifacts Britain as we know it will be no more.

The Cold War between England and Spain appears ready to turn hot as Spain and its ally Faerie are posed to invade. However, the Queen's sorcerer Dr John Dee has brought back some balance between the adversaries. It is now up to the swashbuckling showman to prove he is the real deal with Dee providing him the latest in magical and mundane technology.

The first Swords of Albion Elizabethan historical fantasy is a fun swashbuckling thriller with a James Bond in a late sixteenth century paranormal England and somewhat Spain set up. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while also somewhat reminding readers of Elizabeth Bear’s Prometheus Age series. From Drake with love to the Armada, to a deep connection to modern issues of national security vs. personal freedoms including the torture debate, THE SILVER SKULL is a fabulous Swyfte thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Devil's Alphabet
Daryl Gregory
Ballantine, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345501172

Teenager Paxton Martin fled Switchcreek, Tennessee to avoid the impact of a deadly retrovirus that either killed people or changed them into grotesque creatures and to never see his father again. The disease never went beyond the small town, but Pax vowed to never return to “Pandemonium”.

However, thirteen years after he left, he learns of the suicide death of his friend Jo Lynn so he comes home for her funeral. She had been changed by the virus into a seal skin baldie beta as opposed to becoming a towering argo or an obese Charlie like others became. His plan includes avoiding his dad, but he alters his scheme when he learns that Jo Lynn may not have hung herself and that a small town in Ecuador has suffered the same fate. He begins the investigation even as his brain tells him leave immediately.

This is a terrific evolutionary science fiction small town horror thriller that as its underlying basis asks the audience to define human. The story line is fast-paced throughout as Paxton returns home to a town that has evolved into four distinct races in a survival of the fittest scenario. The key, which makes The Devil’s Alphabet enthralling is each of the key characters representing the four primes seem genuine, which makes their race appear realistic. Although the father-son relationship seems to ramble, fans will enjoy Daryl Gregory’s strong tale. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A New Book of Interest

THE GREAT IMPROBABILITY, An Autobiographical Mystery By the People of Earth, David Sayre, Peter E. Randall, $22, 380 pages, ISBN: 9781931807937, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Every now and then, an unusual book comes along that moves the reader in a different direction than they expect. Le Guin’s THE WORD FOR WORLD IS FOREST and ALWAYS COMING HOME (especially the release that has the accompanying music) and Heinlein’s STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND are the ones that did it for me. This one will be added to the list – and you need to read it to see why.

Sayre has amassed a strange and interesting cast of characters and has written a thought provoking narrative about man’s search for beauty, love, entropy, and faith. They seek to find the true meanings behind each of these and how they are tied together. Ultimately they find an answer, and their journey to that answer will leave you thinking – possibly more than you want.

Our cast includes: Aldo Marconi – a SETI scientist; Meghan Leary – an abused black woman who now has political power; Timothy Maloney – son of a political dynasty trying to set his life straight; Thomas Cabot Brigham – a lawyer, who is now considered insane; and, David Ami and his wife Ami David – a pair of autistic researchers who have set the search in motion.

Be on the lookout for this one. If you have trouble, order directly from the publisher, This is definitely going to be one of the best books of the year.

For more information and links to an audio drama podcast, go to

Three from Harriet

Chloe Neill
Signet, $$6.99
ISBN: 9780451228864

She is unhappy that her parents are going to Germany to conduct research while she is being dumped at the elite Chicago boarding school St. Sophie's Academy. She has no choice in the matter, but becomes friendly with one of her new roommates Scout, who has a tendency to disappear in the middle of the night and return exhausted. Scout refuses to tell Lily Parker what she does during her nocturnal ramblings.

Worried about Scout, Lily follows her friend on one the evening ventures. Lily finds herself trapping a monster in one of the catacombs underneath the prestigious school. The newcomer learns that Scout is a magic user who must give up using her magic when she turns into her mid-twenties. She fights the Reapers spell casters who use magic as they age which turns them evil because they have to take the life essence from a person to survive. The Reapers believes it is okay to apply magic past the one of twenty something even if that means Adepts must die to fuel it. Lily learns first hand that Adepts protect normals from monsters and the Reapers. Although she might lose her life she cannot sit on the sidelines or hide in the sand especially as through a series of odd circumstances, Lily is caught in the crosshairs of the war although she has no magical powers; or does she?

Lily’s life radically changes from attending a middle class public high school living with her parents to an elite boarding school while her family is in Europe. That change soon proves minor as the teen heroine adapts as needed. Her best skill is adjusting to what happens t her although even she is unprepared for the circumstances she faces when she has the back of her BFF. She keeps the exciting teen urban fantasy focused as a heroine ready to fight monsters. Harriet Klausner

Born Of Fire
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312942311

With the deaths of their parents, as the oldest Sharara “Shay” Dagan takes responsibility for her two younger sisters and brother. She has fed them and put roof over their heads by being a free-tracer bounty hunter. However, with bills still to pay and her sibling Tessa hospitalized, she needs to make money fast or the government will refuse medical treatment. She accepts a contact to bring in accused rapist killer C.I. Syn, a friend of her sister Caillen. They know each other and he has been kind to her family, but a job brings in needed cash.

Shay pursues Syn as only she can. He is on the lam struggling with the betrayal by his wife and his son and knows his pursuer is a legend in bringing in criminals. However, when Shay catches up to Syn, she fears her attraction to him may be coloring her belief he is innocent; but she prays she is right because she is taking a chance that could harm her sister.

The second Ichidian Universe League futuristic fantasy romance (see Born of Night) focuses on two people who know each other, but his past has made him a semi-loner as expected of an assassin while she remains responsible for her siblings. Fans will enjoy this rewriting of an e-book as this is the ultimate cat and mouse gender war between a take no prisoners tracer and an assassin felon as only Sherrilyn Kenyon can describe. Harriet Klausner

Mr. Shivers
Robert Jackson Bennett
Orbit, $19.99
ISBN: 9780316054683

During the Great Depression, Marcus Connelly lives for one thing only. Vengeance! He stalks the killer of his beloved daughter Mr. Shivers. Everyone in the homeless camps and on the rails knows of this serial killing fiend, but none alive know who he is.

As Marcus gets closer to his target while the Dust Bowl grows, he will find nothing is quite what it seems. He is beginning to understand simply killing a mortal murderer is not what will Happen. Mr. Shivers is much more lethal if Marcus believes the proof he has gathered about this killing machine is true. He also wonders if his grief has painted a super unnatural hell spawn from an amoral predator.

This historical horror tale will grip readers from the clever set up, through the switch from cat and mouse suspense into the paranormal, to the fabulous climax. The key throughout the super story line is the grim setting as the rails and the Dust Bowl are depressing and lonely in a stark environment even before the audience realizes Mr. Shivers is something besides a psychopathic serial killer. Robert Jackson Bennett sends shivers up and down the spine of this deep Depression Era thriller. Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Trio from Twilight Times

Human by Choice
Travis S Taylor and Darrell Bain
Twilight Times, Aug 2009, $16.95
ISBN: 9781606190470

Due to a combat injury, Intel officer Kyle Leverson retired from the Army. Now a widower, he moved to a remote place in the Ozarks. When he hears a loud crash outside his home, he goes to investigate. In the middle of his garden, lies astonishingly an injured ET.

Apparently the alien was hurt during a crash landing when the life pod transporting him burned up during atmospheric entry. Although hesitant, Kyle takes the wounded space traveler into his home where he tries to nurture the alien. The visitor from another planet has no chance of going home. She hopes with Kyle’s mentoring and her technology to be assimilated in the Arkansas culture as a human female, Jeri. However, as she adapts, enemies want her technology and have come to the Ozarks to abduct Jeri. Kyle refuses to allow any harm come to his beloved Human by Choice.

This is a super science fiction romance starring a wonderful hero and an intrepid alien who is the ultimate assimilated person. The story line is faster than the vessel Jeri flew in as the action never slows down yet the two key players the human and the alien are fully developed. Although the American government is too altruistic as the corpocracy would want the technology as much as the foreign interests crave it as economic espionage between allies is the norm, fans will appreciate this fine thriller. Harriet Klausner

Burnout: The Mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281
Stephanie Osborn
Twilight Times, $19.95
ISBN: 9781606192009

Upon reentry with seven aboard Space Shuttle STS-281 suddenly explodes into a deadly inferno. All on board are dead. An official investigation leads to a quick assertion of human error mostly by the crew.

Having known the pilot Jet Jackson who was his friend since their Air Force days, “Crash” Murphy has a difficult time accepting the official position. He begins to investigate the disaster, which leads him to Australian astronomer Dr. Michael Anders, who is also probing the Burnout. They team up and soon begin to find anomalies with the official denouement. They begin to find evidence of alien intervention, which leads them to Area 51. With the help of conspiracy buff operatives watching the locale 24/7, the pair sneaks inside seeking the truth, but neither is prepared for what they find.

This is an interesting science fiction mystery with an intriguing twist that leaves the portal open for sequels. The story line is faster than the shuttle although adjustment to the zillion NASA acronyms (thankfully a glossary helps) takes a bit of time; but once done acceleration throughout. Crash and Mike are courageous heroes, but what they learn and not learn will stun both of them and the readers. Burnout is an exciting thriller that will have fans soaring with Stephanie Osborn as the flight commander.

Harriet Klausner

Robina Williams
Twilight Times, $18.95
ISBN: 9781606191835

Gaea the earth goddess fears mankind has gone too far in destroying the planet. The sea, land and air are toxic. The forests are barren. Animals and fish have no home and those who still survive are hunted or fished for play. Earth has become a wasteland for the avarice humans.

Gaea decides the time has come to teach mankind a lesson to force humanity to change its wicked ways. However Gaea’s partner, Quant the seraph worries she may go too far; besides his “employer” The God of All created Mankind with the hope that humanity will find their own but just way. Other gods from places like Mt. Olympus agree with Gaea that time has run out so they try to bring a scare to the shaken sons and daughters of Adam.

This is an intriguing vivid allegorical fantasy as mankind is being judged by the Gods. Ironically the cul de sacs that detract from the prime plot are fascinating in of themselves as the audience will be spellbound with a tour of the design laboratory where species for new planets are created as well as other locales like the Court of the Serpent and of course Mt. Olympus and Hades. Although too many engaging detours happen in this entertaining tale, fans will appreciate this fine look at Judgment Day. Whereas Gaea and her allies find humanity guilty of planetary destruction, the God Of All prays whether divine intervention either with a miracle or the apocalypse is a fair judgment on his part when his beloved favorite was bestowed with free will, which includes potentially species suicide.
Harriet Klausner

Harriet's Reviews

Kindred in Death
J.D. Robb
Putnam, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399155956

NYPD Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her husband Roarke are enjoying a rare three day weekend until she receives a call from Commander Whitney telling her to go to a crime scene wheere he will be waiting for her. Newly promoted Captain Jonah MacMasters and his wife went away for the weekend, but returned to find their sixteen years old daughter Deena dead; the teen was raped and sodomized several times before being suffocated to death.

The security discs are missing in their home so no pictures of the perp is available, but the cops assume this was personal because on a video, Deena says this was her dad’s fault. The Captain asks Dallas to lead the investigation; though close friends with Whitney and feeling exorbitant pressure, Eve agrees. During her investigation she learns the victim was deliberately targeted and the killer diligently researched to insure he knew when to attack and leave no ties. That Eve feels is his biggest mistake as Dallas and her team interview Deena’s friends learning the teen she was secretly seeing a college aged boy. Witnesses give Eve a description of Deena’s boyfriend. After he kills again with ties to the first homicide, Eve concludes he has a death list so she works even harder to bring this wannabe serial killer to justice.

The key to the terrific “In Death” futuristic police procedural saga is the recurring cast grows and changes yet their basic essences remain the same so that they become more than just characters to the readers. In this harrowing case that Dallas wants no part of as she knows whatever she learns will disturb her friends, the murder of a cop’s daughter hits home to readers (and Eve). J.D. Robb provides an excellent whodunit in which the heroine and her team meticulously step by step investigate without any unbelievable incidents not even by Roarke; making KINDRED IN DEATH one of the best entries in a strong series. Harriet Klausner

Twilight Zone
Carol Serling
Tor, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765324337

This anthology celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the first airing of the Twilight Zone, which in 1959 was refreshing and creative with its deep look at what his human and its trademark closing twist that accentuated the theme of that particular show. A virtual who’s who has contributed to the anthology; this includes a work by the series creator the late Rod Serling. The nineteen contributions are well written and fun to read as they catch the essence of the original series. However ironically (something I believe Mr. Serling would have enjoyed as twisted irony was a trademark of his) the final spin somewhat limits the creativity and in some cases feels forced to achieve. Still this is a fine collection with superior entries like Alan Brennert's WWI Honolulu drama “Puowaina”, the “Benchawarmer” by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn who has waited his turn patiently for almost twenty years, Deborah Chester’s “The Street That Time Forgot” as Nick barley misses running over the dog that kept him from barley missing the odd street and the answer man Karl the killing star of “Ants” by Tad Williams. As a fitting final tale is “El Moe” by Rod Serling. Obviously for die hard Zoners, this is a fine anthology in spite of the limitations caused by the required final spin. Harriet Klausner

The Fall of Eden
Richard Michaels
Berkley, $ 15.00
ISBN: 9780425229941

Professor Charles and his wife Vanessa Spencer, accompanied by their two children James and Chloe, are flying down to the Caribbean island of St. Bart's. Meeting them there is Charles’ brother Dan and his lover. The brothers are looking for their octogenarian father who is going pirate hunting with his friend Luc Vacher.

At the isle’s airport, Dan informs his sibling that Europe and America were nuked and all communications are shut down. For at least the moment, the people on the island are safe because the radioactive winds are blowing away from St. Bart’s. Dan takes charge stealing guns from Vacher’s boat and turning employees into a private army to protect them and their food and water supply. They make plans to go to inland to find more water and Dan kills any intruders. When Dan can no longer lead, Charles takes charge. As he toughens up, he decides who will live and who will escape from the isle as the winds have turned, threatening the air they breathe just when a hurricane is also coming.

THE FALL OF EDEN takes a close look at what happens when civilization crumbles as survival of the fittest rules in a lawless isolated situation. This is a dark grim thriller as people must make horrific decisions that they would never had had to face when governments thrived. With a philosophical underpinning of what makes a human when the clothing of civilization is torn asunder, fans will enjoy this fine tale mindful of Hitchcock’s Lifeboat but On the Beach rather than at sea. Fans will enjoy this mesmerizing thriller. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

More from Harriet

Possess Me At Midnight
Shayla Black
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416578468

In England, evil mage Mathias apparently eliminated his only adversary who could have prevented him from taking control of all magic practitioners. The Doomsday Brethren Wizard Bram Rion lies in a comatose state following a black smoke assault by Mathias who plans to take over his unconscious rival’s seat on the Wizard Council as the second step of his plan. Once he does that and finds the Doomsday Diary of Morganna le Fey, he will succeed.

However, he makes one tiny miscalculation. Mathias fails to factor in Bram’s sister Sabelle. When Mathias begins his final assault, lowlife warrior Isdernus “Ice” Rykard escorts Sabelle, as a female she can carry the reverent tome, and the comatose Bram to safety. Ice wants her as his mate, but Sabelle cannot say the Binding Words as her brother must bless their union; both know Bram would never accept a lowlife like Ice. However, when Ice is hurt, Sabelle heals him as their bodies and souls unite. The next day he leaves her to draw Mathias away from the siblings.

The newest Doomsday Brethren urban fantasy (see Tempt Me with Darkness and Seduce Me In Shadow) is a superb entry as Bram’s sister and Ice star in what appears top be a bittersweet love story. Both pray Bram lives, but ironically if he does the couple can never be together. Sabelle is brave but Ice heats up the plot with his love for her ultimately affirmed with his version of Dickens final line in A Tale of two Cities: “It is a far, far, better thing than ever I have done” sacrifice to keep his beloved and his chieftain alive. Fans of Shayla Black will relish this enthralling and exciting novel as ice will melt the hearts of all readers. Harriet Klausner

In Great Waters
Kit Whitfield
Del Rey, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345491657

The leaders of Venice broker a deal with the deepsmen to benefit both the landowners and the merfolk. Over the centuries the two races intermingle through marriages with the mer controlling the water. Other countries followed suit to keep a watery invasion from occurring. However, many countries like England began to ban mixed marriages with the offspring to be executed while the mer insist a half-breed must rule the nations of the landsmen bordering on the sea.

After five years under the sea, illegitimate cowardly Whistle becomes Henry when he is placed in England to be quietly put on the throne by his controllers. Blue faced Princess Anne is part of the plot to have puppets as king and queen as rulers of England. However, their handlers never expected Henry or Anne let alone both to prove intelligent and unmanageable as they team up in an unexpected alliance.

This is a terrific alternate historical fantasy that brings the world of Kit Whitfield alive as readers will believe in the existence of the mer. Henry makes his species seem real especially early in the story as he goes from a happy child swimming in the deep blue sea to a frightened displaced illegal immigrant feeling alone while struggling to adapt to the landsmen lifestyle of England. Fans will appreciate the depth of this exciting thriller. Harriet Klausner

Winter Kiss
Deborah Cooke
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228437

The doomsday countdown that has lasted for more than a millennium seems to be ending as the shapeshifting dragons appear ready to finally defeat their adversaries the elemental Pyr who risk all to protect the earth. However, one Pry is in self-exile as his assessment is that he poses a danger to his peers. Delaney died, but the slayer Magnus brought him back to life using dragon blood.

Delaney fears Magnus may control him, but he also resolutely hunts the evil slayer with a strong need to destroy the malevolent concoction that returned him from the dead. However, as he stalks Magnus, Delaney meets his probable soul mate Ginger Sinclair who sends him into a firestorm frenzy of desire. They share one hell of a night, but though he wants to stay with her, his mission comes first. Ginger follows him and rushes into battle on the side of her beloved against a dragon.

The fourth Dragonfire “Kiss” firestorm urban romantic fantasy is an exciting tale with a superb ironic twist as Delaney meets his fire mate at perhaps the worst time this could occur. For her sake he leaves her to continue his quest, but underestimates Ginger’s courage and intelligence. She makes this good vs. evil entry work and also makes it very entertaining and compelling. Harriet Klausner

Darkscape Redemption
R. Garland Gray
Medallion, $7.95
ISBN: 9781933836553

In 3211 after serving as a Commander in a clan war, trader Declan de Douglas travels to Planet Forest from his home Braemar Keep on Planet Mars to negotiate a textile agreement between his clan and that of MacKendrick. Although filled with rage due in part to a DNA synthesis, the savage beast is calm every time he meets Fallon MacKendrick. Her father warns her to stay away from the savage as he is too dangerous, his clan deceitful, and besides her dad has completed a betrothal contract for her.

However, she is attracted to “Douglas the Savage”, who reciprocate although he remains filled with guilt over the war and fury re his brother’s DNA infused in him. When Fallon learns Declan has been kidnapped and sold into sexual slavery, she vows to rescue her beloved even as clan warfare seems ready to ignite again. However, in spite of the belief in knowledge is power by both clans, neither realize the real threat comes from a devious third party at a time when the solar system peace is fragile.

The premise behind the Darkscape tales is simply placing pre-Culloden Scotland in outer space; thus clan wars are all over the solar system and where they are not, hostilities are one incident away from exploding. Redemption adds a Romeo and Juliet twist to the mix. Although it helps to read the previous Darkscape science fiction romance (see The Rebel Lord) to better understand the dysfunctional relationships between the feuding clans and the story line is somewhat expected, R. Garland Gray provides readers with a super outer space opera. Harriet Klausner

Dark Passage
Junius Podrug
Forge, Oct 2002, $24.95
ISBN: 0312875142

The agents abduct Marseilles prostitute Marie Gauthier and fly on Air Force One to a top-secret laboratory in New Mexico; there researchers are creating the "synchrotron" time machine. Also kidnapped and taken to the same locale is Israeli engineer David Ben-Dor and former CIA agent John Conway.

The explanation seems over the top to the trio especially when the Feds and scientists insist that the psychopathic Islamic fundamentalist Zayyad brothers broke into the lab and are going back in time to 30 A.D. to assassinate Jesus. Even less believable is the displacement brought forward that confused the shepherd Isaiah. This four is being sent back to 30 A.D. to prevent the insane fanatics from killing the Son of God.

Over the top of Mt. Masada with a zillion subplots from the Land of Enchantment to the biblical land of Salome, Romans, Zealots and a few other rebellious sects, as spins go everywhere in a convoluted way, yet Dark Passage completely grips the audience. The story line is fast-paced even while moving back and forth in time and vivid especially during the biblical era. Fans will want to join the four hunters trying to prevent Islamic fanatics from killing Jesus centuries before the Prophet Mohammed is born. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Just Reviews

Captive Desires
Diane Whiteside
Berkley, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425229989

Danae Livingston writes fictional accounts of her warrior hero Alekhsiy in a fantasy realm filled with her desires. However, although she has wet dreams about her hunk, she knows he does not exist except in her libido.

She soon revises her opinion of what reality is when Alekhsiy arrives on Earth needing her help to save his world from evil. He is taken aback to see the woman who haunts his nocturnal desires in the flesh as is she. However, at a fandom fantasy festival, a fanatic demands she writes of the destruction of Alekhsiy’s realm or else face his wrath.

This is a very exciting romantic suspense fantasy with the premise of a writer seemingly having the power of God; although the premise has been used before and Alekhsiy’s realm never comes to life. Still, the story line is fun to follow as a fanatic demands death to Alekhsiy’s world or death to the “creator”, which leads to all types of metaphysical questions. Well written and enlightening, Captive Desires is an engaging heated thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Best Gift
Wendy Markham
Signet, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451228444

On Christmas morning 2009 in the San Francisco Bay area, Clara thinks her life is finally perfect after her disastrous time in 1941 when she learned she has breast cancer and fell in love knowing her GI Jed Landy was going to die at Normandy; he pledged to always find her no matter what (see If Only in My Dreams). Now in 2009 she loves her husband Drew and is seven weeks pregnant.

An earthquake hammers the Bay area. Clara keeps moving back and forth between 2009 and 2012. However what she observes in 2012 frightens her as she pregnant and alone except for boxes; Drew is nowhere and neither is the baby she was carrying in 2009. She begins flickering back and forth to Christmas 2012. She can't figure out what's going on with her future self. She's alone, hugely pregnant and the house is full of boxes. However, she keeps thinking back to 1941 and her eternal soul mate’s pledge.

This is a terrific thought provoking sequel that deftly combines time travel and reincarnation with the underlying theme that true love is forever. The beleaguered Clara is confused as she struggles between 2012 and 2009 but finds solace with her thoughts of 1941. Complicated and nonlinear, Wendy Markham continues her strong saga of love for all time. Harriet Klausner

The Better Part of Darkness
Kelly Gay
Pocket, $7.99
ISBN 9781439109656

On October 13. thirteen years ago, heaven and hell came out of the closet. Mankind had no choice but to recognize the Revelation of the existence of heavenly Elysia and hellish Charbydon, and a horde of biblical legendary mythological creatures residing in both. Atlanta has become an urban center for all these visitors from heaven and hell, which is why the Integration Task Force has a major presence in the city.

ITF single mom Charlie Madigan raises Emma while conducting an investigation with her partner Hank into the death of Amanda Mott, a student at Hope Ridge School for Girls. Charlie, who knows what it is like to die having done so before returning to life, makes the case personal as she knew Amanda who was like a big sister to Emma. Other young people also die as a dangerous off-world drug has hit the streets; ash kills speedily. Charlie and Hank make inquries trying to find the source of the smuggling even as her power grows, but she feels helpless as ash spreads to her family and friends with her fear being for Emma.

Starting with its opening dialogue in which Hank lectures his partner for skeptically questioning an Oracle to prove her statement, readers will be hooked with this super police procedural urban fantasy. The key to the exciting story line is the denizen of green card recipients from Elysia and Charbydon seem genuine. This makes for an enjoyable read as the donkey kicking heroine and her sidekick work the mean streets of post Revelation Atlanta in an enlightening mystery. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Atlantis Fragments

THE ATLANTIS FRAGMENTS, Donald Sidney-Fryer, Hippocampus Press, $25, 552 Pages, ISBN: 9780982429655, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Was the continent of Atlantis real or purely the speculations based on years of myth and fable? That’s a question that won’t be answered here or in the near future. But what will be discussed here are the three volumes of poetry that Donald Sidney-Fryer has written with the Atlantean continent and peoples as his inspiration.

This omnibus volume was first published in three volumes from three different publishers over a thirty year period and Hippocampus has risen to the occasion of keeping this collection of unique verse available to the poetry lovers, fans of the Lovecraftian Circle, and the science fiction fans who believe there is more to the world than we know today.

There are songs, sonnets, stanzas, and prose that show the life and happenings on Atlantis as well as poems dedicated to some of the people who became special to Sidney-Fryer. There are poems of romance, funeral dirges, long narratives, short missives, and memorials. There are notes to help the reader better understand the complexities of some of the works as well as descriptions of the locales. This is a valuable book not only for making the poetry available to today’s readers, but also for its place in increasing the powers of wordsmithing and imagination.

Shapeshifters and others

Shifting Plains
Jean Johnson
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425230862

Tava Ell Var has known violence all her life as the offspring of a human female raped by seventeen were-tigers. Her adoptive father, a gentle scribe, showed her kindness while raising her, but marauding bandits murdered him; leaving her alone especially in light of people she has known for years rejecting her. Tava vows vengeance for the only person whoever cared about her.

However, before she can stalk her adversaries, a Shifterai warband led by Kodan Sin Siin kill the outlaws and offer Tava sanctuary with Clan Cat as she is a shapeshifter too. She hesitates well aware of the raping of her mom. She is given no choice as she can be a slave or a free member.

The prequel to the Sons of Destiny saga is an enjoyable romantic fantasy as fans of the series will enjoy the tale of love between shapeshifters. Although not as dramatic as the Sons of Destiny with sudden leaps in the story line, Jean Johnson provides an enjoyable tale in which the romance supersedes the fantasy elements even with a potential she-Tiger who may prove genuine or die as the first female royal shifter in ages. Harriet Klausner

Thief Of Light
Denise Rossetti
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425231302

In Caracole Erik Thorensen is known as the Godlen due his sensual Voice that seduces innocent women. However, he went too far with his seductive Voice and stole the soul of an innocent.

Erik is attracted to the Garden of Nocturnal Delights business manager Pruella Takimori McGuire. She is a bottom line type of woman and not fantasy Magick lover. His efforts to win her love is frustrated by her ignoring the Voice as it has no effect though she conceals her attraction to Erik the person and not his Golden persona. However, Erik is soon in deep trouble when the Necromancer has evil plans to use the Golden Voice to devour the souls of the innocent.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy starring two likable lead characters and a sinister villain. The Golden one finds his charming seductive voice fails him with the woman he wants and who might be the one to bring him redemption. Besides his failure with Prue, he now has a kick butt evil necromancer determined to use his seductive skill to steal souls. Fans will take pleasure in Denise Rossetti’s return to the realm of the Four-Sided Pentacle (see The Flame and the Shadow).
Harriet Klausner

Heart Change
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Nov 2009, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425229972

In Celta, GrandLady Signet D'Marigold is lonely as the last surviving member of her proud family. However, to make matters worse, her talent remains undefined. That is unknown until thirteen year old prophet GreatLord Vinni proclaims her to a major catalyst for change.

Vinni needs Signet's help with his seven years old heartmate Avellana Hazel; the child’s brain has been damaged and chances of surviving her first passage are nonexistent unless Signet takes the risk of assisting her. GreatLord T'Hawthorn’s security chief Cratag Maytree is chosen to protect the two females during the flair. None of the participants were expecting an attraction between Signet and Cratag, but as that ignites someone wants to destroy all of those involved.

Readers will relish the latest Heart realm romantic fantasy as the lead couple falls in love while trying to save a child’s life. The story line is character driven as Robin D. Owens goes deep inside family relationships on Celta with a poignant passionate tale that resonates with its health issue timeliness. Robin D. Owens’ latest as is the case with the magnificent seven predecessors is filled with Heart as the concern is the child’s welfare first. Harriet Klausner

Friday, January 8, 2010

Saint Germain and Others

Burning Shadows
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Tor, Dec 8 2009, $27.99
ISBN 9780765319821

In 438 C.E., Dom Feranescus Rakoczy Sanctu-Germainios is part of the Regional Guard of Apulum Inferior as the Huns flood Europe. His lover Atta Olivia Clemens flees the Carpathians for the relative safety of Constantinople, but though she begged him to accompany her, he felt an obligation to lead the fleeing villagers to a safer place.

On the way to the isolated Sanctu-Eustachios monastery that prefers no visitors, Rakoczy meets Nicoris, who is also on the run from the Huns’ horde too. They are attracted to one another from the onset. As the pair and hundreds of frightened peasants take refuge at the monastery, Rakoczy conceals his vampiric nature, but his lover learns of his True Nature. With the Huns closing in on them, Rakoczy fails to realize the biggest danger may come from within as she too has a dark secret might lead to his True Death inside these holy walls.

This is a terrific entry that works on two fronts: a strong insightful look at those fearing the Huns horde and a romance between Saint Germain and his true love Nicoris. The story line brings to life villagers and Roman legionnaires who expect death and worse once the invincible army arrives. Adding to that profound look at the fifth century are the reclusive monks who believe god’s predetermination means life and death has been doggedly resolved by the Maker so why worry about defense. Although the ending could have used more flesh on it so as to fully bring out the blood and guts of the final twist, fans will relish Saint Germain’s latest bittersweet historical adventure. Harriet Klausner

Red Claw
Philip Palmer
Orbit, Oct 15 2009, $12.99
ISBN: 9780316018937

Professor Richard Helms leads the classification of the animalia and plantae found on recently discovered New Amazon. The planet is a nightmare with its acid rain and the discovery of “kingdomshifters”. Still even with the hostile orb seemingly at war with the outside occupiers, the team of scientist protected by genetically enhanced human commandos and gigantic robotic soldiers finish the cataloguing of this alien ecosystem.

The invaders plan to burn everything to the ground so they can terraform New Amazon into a place for humans to live without wearing protective helmets. Instead of the final solution, the crew is attacked by a flying seemingly invincible monster forcing them to find shelter in the deadly jungle. Survival of the fittest means betraying your friends and lovers as the rain forest proves lethal as does the robots. As the human number dwindle Helms fails to take the helm as the commandos with weapons overwhelm the scientists,

Although this tale has a pulp feel with an over the top of Mt Olympus satirical stripping away civilization story line, fans will enjoy this tale that is the Lord of the Flies in outer space. The story line is fast-paced and filled with dark humor starting with Dr. Baal’s opening “whatever” diary and never slows down as terraforming becomes terror forming. Filled with several twists, readers will enjoy Red Claw as the scientists argue how to classify gryphon, Godzilla, and seditious killing robots while the mercenaries argue how to survive the hostile ordeal with pathetic intelligentsia leaches unable to set up camp. Harriet Klausner

The Golden Shrine
Harry Turtledove
Tor, Oct 13 2009, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765317124

To the North as the glaciers retreat, a gap opened in the ice wall. Through the aperture came the vicious riders called the Rulers whose destruction of anything in its path was abetted by powerful wizards. The Bizogots nomads and Raumsdalian Empire fail to stop the assault somewhat because the Emperor Sigvat refuses to accept the threat; preferring to believe it is nothing more than Count Hamnet Thyssen’s need to be important.

Hamnet and his small unit fight the Rulers in a counter insurgency while seeking the Golden Shrine. Hamnet knows the Rulers need him dead to prevent a prophecy from occurring, but though he remains resolute, his side is in trouble. New hope arises when he meets an unlikely ally; cannibalistic shaman Marcovefa, who also seeks the artifact that legend says will destroy the Rulers.

The third and final Opening of the World dawn of time fantasy (see The Breath of God and Beyond the Gap) is a terrific tale in a strong saga. The story line is fast-paced yet filled with intricate details so that the reader will feel transported back to the Bronze Age as the war to end all wars explodes. Harry Turtledove is at his epic fantasist best with this action-packed BCE series.
Harriet Klausner

Roll Tide

College football is finally over and the University of Alabama finished undefeated and comes home from Pasadena with the National Title.

All right, mighty fine. Roll Tide!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Three from Harriet

The Sapphire Sirens
John Zakour
DAW, Dec 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405816

In 2060, Zachary Nixon Johnson is the last freelance detective in the world. He is ably assisted by his AI sidekick HARV and together they have saved the world many times over.

Zach’s latest case is finding former basketball star turned entrepreneur Don Rickey’s Baseball card collection. He gets a blackmail letter asking for four million dollars to get the collection back. The paper the note is written on is Prime especially since most people communicate through paperless means. The client’s ex-wife bought the paper. Zack finds in her home a sapphire who fights him and knocks him out. She takes him to Lantis an island dominated totally by females who came from another planet millennia ago and use a force field and other advanced technology to keep intruders out. His “man-napper” sapphire-haired Amazon Princess Kiana demands Zach find out who killed her mother. The evidence points to Kiana, but the sleuth thinks she is being framed as her guilt is too overwhelming to be true. He has two days to uncover the truth or one of her three sisters will be the heir to the throne of Lantis and Kiana will be execured; of course than again the proof may prove right.

This amusing pulp action science fiction mystery is loaded with futuristic technology, royal politics, a two meter plus giantess, amazons, baseball cards, comic books, Zach and HARV. What more could someone ask for?. The relationship between HARV and Zach is evolving as the AI increasingly seems more human, which makes them behave more like friends. Zach treats the island case like he does any as he easily adjusts to kick butt females (he knows Threta first hand), technology (He has HARV) and royal bull (he has the law). John Zakour provides another colorful insane sci fi whodunit. Harriet Klausner

The Tuloriad
John Ringo & Tom Kratman
Baen, Oct 2009, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439133040

To save humanity, the Posleen aliens had to be defeated as the latter considered the former beneath them on the food chain; a source of sustenance. The final battle leaves mankind struggling but thriving and the Posleen almost extinct. Those few surviving Posleen begin a desperate mission to track their heritage although many of the sentient races belonging to the treacherous Galactic Confederation would prefer the final solution instead of what the Posleen may learn.

At the same time, the Posleen prepares its trek, the victors in the war send missionaries from the major religious groups to convert the heathens to their particular religion. These self appointed emissaries of God catch up to the Posleen researchers. The Poleen are finding shocking evidence of their origins that shake the earthlings and representatives from the other races like the devious Darhel and the legacy of the benign manipulative Aldenata is not the altruism they thought they pursued. Hell and distrust between and even within species is the norm.

The latest entry in the Posleen-Humanity science fiction thriller (adding war to the title seems inappropriate at this point) has less action than usual as John Ringo & Tom Kratman raise fascinating questions about religion, military intervention, and social rules. The story line however is very thin as the concepts for instance of the Muslim marital allowance, the “white man’s burden” and the American invasion to take out a brutal bully in Iraq have parallels but never quite explored beyond a slim veneer as the authors detract from the plot with their opinion. Still fans of the series will enjoy this cerebral turn as the Posleen come across less B movie monstrous and more humane with the underlying theme asking do other sentient species have souls. Harriet Klausner

John Levitt
Ace, Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441017980

There is a magic world that the Ordinaries know nothing about even its existence. To keep it that way, certain magical practitioners serve as cops to insure no one deviates from the righteous path. They also cover up when something magical happens so that s mortals do not learn of their existence. One enforcer with medium level strength is Mason, who has an Ifrit Louie, a faithful familiar shaped like a dog.

Mason tries to help some San Francisco homeless practitioners who are gradually losing their humanity and turning into beings from the myths and legend. They accidentally create an anti-Ifrit who killed people. At first Mason thought the anti-Ifrit murdered ordinaries, but he revised his theory. He now thinks a Wendigo came out of the energy field that the anti-Ifrit came out of and is the killer. The pair finally gets it right when they figure our what the real killers are. Mason, Louie, their mentor Eli and Chief Enforcer Victor know it will take team work and a miracle to destroy the killer.

Magic, mayhem and mystery make up Unleashed, a poignant yet often amusing urban fantasy that is filled with intrigue and a sense of wonder. Mason will do anything for his Louie and likewise the Ifrit canine will sacrifice himself for his partner; as man’s best friend is his dog. The danger begins due to out of control practitioners losing their sense of reality and allowing a pseudo Ifrit, a Wendigo and a killer out of the energy pool leading to a wonderful original urban fantasy whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Angels and Ghouls

Avenging Angels, Mary Stanton, Berkley, Feb 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780425233092, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

When Brianna Winston-Beaufort took over her late Uncle Franklin’s Savannah law practice Beaufort & Company, she had no idea what she let herself in for as she works legal matters in the Celestial Court. Her clients are typically spirits and her assistance angels as she is the only mortal (and lawyer) who can enter 66 Angelus St.

Her current case is a suicide victim banker Russell O'Rourke who allegedly killed himself due to the recession leading to his bankruptcy and shame. Although she struggles with the lack of a law library on line, Bree knows the heavenly law about killing one’s self. However, she with Sasha her angelic guard dog at her side and her assistant angels investigate only to find Russell’s widow euphoric with his death. As she begins to wonder if Russell’s is a victim of a homicide, someone wants Bree needing a lawyer defending her in Celestial Court before she learns the truth of how Russell died.

The latest Beaufort paranormal legal thriller is an engaging tale due to a strong cast starting with the lead attorney. The story line is fast-paced on earth and in court as Bree and company investigate the suspicious death of Russell as well as appeal his sentencing in the heavenly court. Although similar in tone to the previous two defending their lives entries (see Angel’s Advocate and Defending Angels), fans will enjoy this still unique quirky angelic spin n the afterlife.

Ghouls Gone Wild, Victoria Laurie, Obsidian, Mar 2010, $6.99, ISBN: 9780451229410, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

M. J. Holliday is a psychic with her top skill being a medium who can communicate with ghosts. She gives readings and makes her grateful clients feel good by telling them the truth; unlike the numerous charlatans. She and her partner are also ghostbusters who send evil spirits back to where they came from. They are now on Briar Street, the most haunted street in Scotland. Under the street is the close (several caves and catacombs) where victims were sent to die from the plague.

While they are on Briar Road, the interest of the hundreds of spirits make M.J. and her co-worker medium Heath Whitefeather almost insane. Inside the close the same phenomena happens with the ghouls of the plague screaming. They would love to leave immediately, but they are contracted to Bravo TV to film what they find at this location. To make matters worse, the centuries dead witch Rigella who cursed the village of Queen’s Close because they murdered her and her sisters are brought back by a villager to murder seven descendants of the families that killed them. When their tech expert is attacked by ghouls, M.J. and her crew becomes the target of a mortal who is in league with the witch because brake lines were cut, which means the witch has a human helper. When another villager dies, M.J. and company investigate determined to find the witch and her mortal assistant.

Victoria Laurie is the queen of paranormal mysteries as her fourth ghostbusters whodunit brings the reader into her world (see DEMONS ARE A GHOUL'S BEST FRIEND and GHOULS JUST HAUNT TO HAVE FUN). Ghouls Gone Wild is a haltingly good whodunit filled with plenty of action above and below the street. The cast is solid even the spirits while the two protagonists are fully developed especially when the supernatural haunt their senses. With plenty of humor including with a Potter meets Bedknobs and Broomsticks battle of flying brooms, fans will enjoy ghosts, ghouls, and witches, oh my.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Vampires, Doppelgangers, and A Military Thriller

Vampire Sunrise
Carole N. Douglas
Juno (Pocket), Nov 24 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439156773

It has been years since the Millennium Revelation when all the creatures of myth and legend rose up from the shadows to reveal themselves to humanity. Delilah Street comes to Las Vegas from Wichita to work as a paranormal investigator. Deep below the Karnak Hotel lives a vast Egyptian vampire sect ruled by two Pharaohs; humans are bred and brought to them as food. Delilah rescued her lover Rick Montoya by giving him the Resurrection Kiss to restore his life.

After Rick was in a coma, Delilah finds she has the ability to kiss away from his back thescars he received while he was a slave for a master criminal.. He wakes up and remembers what happened to him and is determined to free the other humans held by the Egyptian vampires. Before they leave on theur quest, the werewolf Cesar Cicerau summons Delilah to remove the ghost of the daughter he killed who haunts his hotel. A supernatural creature is stalking the hotel killing anyone who gets in the way. Delilah is clueless how to rid the hotel of this deadly fiend and the ghost while below ground the vampires are dining on humans.

The latest Street Paranormal Investigator thriller combines horror, mystery, romance, and sex into an exhilarating urban fantasy that puts the sin in Sin City. With plenty of twists, VAMPIRE SUNRISE is a roller coaster doing loops with each spin accelerating the ride. Readers will enjoy following the clues, surreal and mundane, as Carole Nelson Douglas lets Midnight Louie catch a cat nap while Delilah does the sleuthing above and under the streets of Las Vegas. Harriet Klausner

Me And My Shadow
Katie MacAlister
Signet, Nov 2009, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451228383

Doppelganger May Northcott has two major issues that could keep her from her beloved wyvern mate Gabriel. First she has a dangerous dragon shard inside her heart and second she remains in indentured servitude to sexual predator former demon lord Magoth.

However, while the loving couple struggles with her delicate conditions, the lethal black dragon Baltic has apparently come back to life. No one in their right mind trusts Baltic, so though he is PLAYING WITH FIRE and risking everything GOING UP IN SMOKE Kostya the black dragon demands a council showdown. While every creature jockeys for position, a pregnant Aisling Grey and her mate Drake await the birth of their child.

The latest Silver Dragons entry is a fabulous urban fantasy as everything even to a degree the storyline seems out of control, chaos lives in the heart of Katie MacAlister’s saga. The story line is fast-paced form the onset and never slows down as Gabriel struggles to keep his beloved at his side and safe while the dragons are heading towards an encounter with a neat twist. Fans will enjoy visiting the chaotic charming world of Ms. MacAlister where the unbelievable becomes believable. Harriet Klausner

Larry Bond's Red Dragon Rising: Shadows of War
Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice
Forge, Nov 10 2009, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765321374

In 2014, the world is in deep trouble as the global economy spins out of control and the environment has gotten worse. The superpowers keep kicking the can saying the time is not right for needed change. In that environs, China faces a horrific drought that has left masses starving and out of control rioting and looting abound. In Europe, a deep recession made worse by inflation has crippled the continent while many economists proclaim a second Greater Depression has occurred. In the United States, the recession has deepened exponentially and inflation has gotten out of control; both fueled by environmental issues and inertia in DC.

The rulers in China go back to pre-Communist roots whenever the country is in economic peril; they invade their small neighbor to the south Vietnam in order to feed their starving masses. America, worried by what the invasion will do to the balance of power, comes to the aid of the Vietnamese.

This is a terrific military thriller that extrapolates current trends into the near future. Although the big global stage pulls the exiting story line, the ensemble cast is solid and brings the big theatre to life especially in Southeast Asia. Fans will relish this thrilling cautionary tale but also be concerned, as Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice make a strong case that time is running out after years of neglect. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Writing Question Answered

A few days ago I reprinted an interview with Scott Nicholson. Scott has a writing workshop and sends out comments, Q&As, and other interesting things. Here's his latest. Check out his website, for more.

Simultaneous Story Submissions
By Scott Nicholson

Q: I have been submitting stories to magazines for some years, with a fair amount of success. But one problem that drives me nuts is this business of magazines indicating they don't want simultaneous submissions. It seems that the majority of them are saying this now and it seems arrogant to me. I mean, in several years I have seen exactly two magazines respond to a submission within the time frame they claim they will. They all end of hoarding your story for literally months while expecting you to not submit it anywhere else until they get around to rejecting it. I hesitate to ignore this "no simultaneous submission" tyranny, but don't want to get a reputation among editors. I know that, as writers, we seem to be at the absolute bottom of the pecking order in the publishing business, but what can we do about this?

A: Submitting can seem frustrating, because it's a condition of supply and demand. Magazine editors get hundreds of submissions, there are fewer magazines all the time, and the wait often seems unreasonable. (After all, why can't an editor open that morning's mail, breeze through all the submissions, and send out responses by the afternoon?)

Well, because most of them have jobs and spouses and a huge printing bill and are doing it for love or a noble belief in preserving a dying art form--the short story. And because some writers keep sending the same bad story around for years, there could easily be 20,000 stories circulating at any given time. Imagine an editor who takes two stories out of 100 (a fairly plausible percentage for anyone with standards). The editor, running on editor-brain, is slotting the story, thinking about how it will complement the others she's selected and perhaps how this writer will help promote and sell the magazine, if there is "name value" involved. To then go to the trouble of contacting a writer and finding the story is gone really weakens the editor's enthusiasm. If it happened several times, anyone would get discouraged and come to believe publishing is not worth the effort, and you lose another market.

I have to say I have disregarded that dictum in one or two circumstances, usually if I sense a publication is in trouble and will never publish. You don't want your story tied up for years after an "acceptance" where the magazine "pays on publication," yet never publishes. You don't want it in a pile where a writer pretended to launch a publication in order to curry favor and win a peer award. You don't want to be stuck with someone who suddenly becomes persona non grata through some bizarre revelation, because editors are far more prone to bad reputations than writers are.

But the approach I took early in my career seems the most practical--to keep a submission at every feasible, desirable market at all times. While the number of markets is limited, your supply is unlimited. No one is stopping you from writing another story while your latest is in the slush pile. With so few decent markets, it is easy to have more stories than places to send them. Once you have stories at all your favorite publications, write a few more, or some articles, or a novel or non-fiction book.

Once you have a dozen circulating, you will likely not obsess over the first couple, nor even remember them, so you will want to keep a submission log. When one gets rejected, immediately send another to that editor if you still want to publish there. If you are confident about that rejected story, send it back out to another market immediately, or take a second or third look at it. With this strategy, you not only are improving as you go, you are maximizing your odds--because until you are a commodity in the marketplace, there is still a good bit of timing and luck involved, even if your stories are well crafted.

Best of all, you will stay busy and creatively fulfilled. The biggest challenge for a writer is to be happy. The world is not set up to indulge writers. Life makes it hard, time makes other demands, people want to drag us away from our imaginations and "get with the program." I say it all the time, but repeat it here: Enjoy this day's work, because this may be all you get out of the deal. If that's not enough, maybe you're not a writer. And if you write no matter what I say, then good for you, because you are already successful!
Scott Nicholson is author of seven novels, two story collections, six screenplays, and more than 60 short stories. He also works as a freelance editor and journalist. More writing articles are at