Friday, April 30, 2010

Urban Fantasy

Silver Borne
Patricia Briggs
Ace, Mar 30 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441018192

Even though the human population knows that vampires, werewolves, and fae exist, it does not preclude mortals from fearing the paranormal. Mechanic Mercy Thompson is a shapeshifter who can turn into a coyote, but is mated with her beloved alpha werewolf Adam. His pack feels a coyote is beneath them on the food chain and using their mind control powers try to persuade Mercy that she is not good enough for their leader.

While an outraged Adam is trying to ferret out who is destroying his pack and messing with his Mercy’s mind, she has two other problems to contend with. Her friend Samuel the werewolf struggles with his human side so his beast keeps him alive while Mercy triess to give him a reason to live. A fairy wants her to return a powerful tome that a fae lent her; she kidnaps her friend Gabriel to insure Mercy cooperates, but the bookstore is shuttered permanently and Mercy knows the queen will try a double cross.

The fifth Mercy Thompson urban fantasy is filled with action, romance and fae intrigue; perhaps the deadliest kind on the planet. Filled with various subplots that tie deftly together, the continuing adventures of Mercy and Adam make for another entertaining entry in a strong saga. However, it is Patricia Briggs’ world-building skills on a par with early Laurell K. Hamilton that make Silver Borne a winner as readers will believe in shapeshifters, fae and vampires, oh my. Harriet Klausner

Kitty Keswick
Leap Books, Dec 2009, $16.99
ISBN: 9781616030018

In Stony Creek, California, Maxwell females can see the future, which is hard on sixteen year old Kasey. She wears gloves to avoid touching anything or anyone as that triggers her skill; worse her mom sees everything.

Kasey has a vision starring mysterious English foreign exchange student Josh Johnstone. Her sight leads her to co-starring with Josh in Romeo and Juliet and a kiss. However, someone wants to harm either him or both of them starting with a stage light falling and there being locked in the basement. When they see a ghost, each knows who the malevolence is who is after them, but neither knows how to send the mean spirit to its final resting place even though she has the gift of sight via touch and he is a werewolf.

This is an enjoyable teen romantic urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple harassed by genetics and paranormal incidents. Although blogging provides an interesting modern feel to the plot, this is also a big detractor as Miss Manners wisely says: “Don't go public with your so-called private life." Still young adults will enjoy Freaksville as the cast is solid even the ghost and Kasey’s BFF could support her own tale. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vampires and Fallen Angels

Deep In The Woods
Chris Marie Greene
Ace, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441018208

In London, vampire hunter Dawn Madison leads her team on a mission to destroy the Underground. They have captured a female master who they interrogate; learning there is another master who, like their prisoner, can shapeshift.

At Queenshill School, the Underground turned the coeds into undead teens who are willing to die to rescue their female master from Dawn. Dawn's team leader and lover Costin remains bound to Jonah's vampire body, which is costing him his Soul Traveler power at a time he needs every resource he possesses to defeat the Underground as he has gone under the school’s ground in search of the master.

Following the Los Angeles Underground mission accomplished, Dawn’s search for the London Underground continues in the latest Vampire Babylon tale (see The Path of Razors), but the culture is radically different yet as dark and gritty. Dawn remains a lean mean fighting machine but since that short stretch as a vampire turned back to human, she struggles with an internal fuse that ignites too easily. Complex relations make the Vampire Babylon series a top notch urban fantasy filled with twists, turns and challenges fans have come to expect from Chris Marie Greene.
Harriet Klausner

And Falling, Fly
Skyler White
Berkley, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425232347

Olivia the fallen angel is depressed with how far she has sunken just because of wanting. She has become a vampire who will never know desire.

Neuroscientist Dominic O’Shaugnessy has a history he wishes he could rewrite or at least bury. He is ashamed and prays he will one day atone though he remains haunted by visions he cannot rationalize.

Olivia and Dominic meet at the L’Otel Matillide, the subterraneous Hotel of the Damned. She has lost all hope while he hopes to find some hope. However, with one another they may find something more than hope if they take a chance but both knows that the something more can be damnation of the dead.

This is a complicated read as the atmosphere and brooding lead couple enhances a metaphysical story line that demands the audience to ponder what is life, death, and a sort of nothingness. The readers will empathize with each of the lead couple whose darkness makes neither likable, which in turn enhances the feeling of hopelessness as if they checked into the Hotel California for the damned. Although the relationship moves too quickly towards love for a despairing, distrusting duo like this pair, readers will consider the meaning of life and whether death is its antonym. Harriet Klausner

Monday, April 26, 2010

More Fantasy Reviews

Laura Bickle
Juno (Pocket), Mar 30 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439167656

Residents of Detroit are perhaps at their lowest levels of hope and highest levels of rage perhaps since the summer of 1967 and not just because of the Lions. Arson is the norm as chaos prevails much of it caused from those beneath the rotting city.

Detroit Fire Department Arson Investigator Lieutenant Anya Kalinczyk is one of the few who understands the threat of human despair fed by phantoms of the night. Because of her Lantern skill as a “human bug zapper” Anya and her familiar, Sparky the five foot salamander hunt ghosts. Her current fire inquiry shocks her as the evidence points to Drake the Lantern who she is attracted to but fears him as he raises a powerful essence from beyond who will arrive on Devil’s Night unless Anya and Sparky can prevent this catastrophe from occurring even as she accidental swallows Mimi the demon

Urban fantasy fans will relish this superb entry of a kick butt female who takes her day and night jobs seriously. Anya knows fire investigation and paranormal inquires are dangerous and acts accordingly. The fast-paced story line follows her exploits on the mean streets of Detroit and the even meaner underground. Sub-genre fans will wonder which Lantern will prevail with Sirrush from beyond. Harriet Klausner

Velvet Haven: The Immortals of Annwyn
Sophia Renwick
NAL, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451229182

Annwyn is the Otherworld and mortals are unaware of its existence. The realm is home to all types of supernaturals with the link between that of the humans and that of the paranormal being Velvet Haven, a night club owned by half-breed Rhys MacDonald, whose father abdicated as king of the Sidhe to marry a mortal. Rhys’ shapeshifting cousin Bran, angrily sits on the throne, while suffering from the Legacy Curse that requires him exclusively to mate with the species he loathes humans.

When the ninth murder of a Sidhe occurs and the first female victim, Bran knows he must delay his search for his missing brother, Carden, who vanished into the Wasteland centuries ago. Instead he must focus on stopping the serial killer at a time when his visions show him dead, a victim of a warrior. Since evil initiated on the other side, Bran goes to Velvet Haven seeking a woman to replenish his energy and clues to the deadly predator; unaware that a connected killer is also on the mortal plane. At his cousin’s club he meets mortal nurse Mairi MacAuley whose essence arouses him as never before. She rejects him as she assumes he is a player, but he persists unaware that their attraction could be the cause of his death

With much more going on than described above especially with her friend Rowan and the fallen Suriel for instance, Book One of the Annwyn Chronicles is a tremendous romantic fantasy with religious overtones that will stun readers. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mairi and Rowen enter the velvet Haven and never stops for even a heart beat. The cast is strong especially the support cast who make the Otherworld seem genuine. Sophia Renwick provides fans with a twisting tale of salvation from even death. Harriet Klausner

Defeat The Darkness
Alexis Morgan
Pocket, Feb 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416563457

Devlin Bane is concerned with the instability between Earth and Kalitia especially around volcanoes in the northwest. He asks limping Paladin warrior Hunter Fitzsimon who recently left St. Louis for Washington to investigate especially near Justice Point, where he suspects avaricious folks on both sides of the barrier will destroy anything or anyone for money.

Hunter rents an apartment from tea shop owner Tate Justice. She is curious about her hunk upstairs while he fears his desire for her. Tate follows him into the nearby woods to learn the secrets he strenuously conceals from her. He kisses her senseless, but leaves himself wanting more though he fears he will have to choose between love and his mission; she now knows his secret involves keeping earth safe though she is not sure from what.

This is a terrific Paladin romantic urban fantasy as the hero may have come back from the dead but suffers from PTSD while the heroine will learn the meaning of the full verse from Alice in Wonderland: “curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction it brought him back”. Filled with action, anguish and love, fans will enjoy Defeat the Darkness with its dual meaning title. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Fantasy Reviews

Atlantis Redeemed
Alyssa Day
Berkley, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425233030

In 202 BC, a raging Poseidon punished Brennan for his cavalier behavior. For the next two millennia plus Poseidon cursed Brennan with feeling no emotion as a just penalty. However, that is only part one; the second half of his chastisement is that once he meets his soulmate, twenty two hundred centuries of no emotion will explode like a supernova but each time they separate he will fail to recognize who she is; that time is now.

In Atlantis Prince Conlon informs Brennan that mortal reporter Tiernan Butler is their contact, as she is investigating evil experiments on shapeshifters by a consortium of humans and vampires. From a photo and then in person he knows she is the one. However, as they work together to unravel the truth at a scientific convention, the curse appears to destroy their chance of everlasting love and also catching the sinister scientists behind the shapeshifter scheme.

The twisted curse refreshes the latest Warriors of Poseidon adventure (see Atlantis Unleashed, Atlantis Unmasked, Atlantis Awakening and Atlantis Rising). The lead couple is a terrific pairing as Tiernan deals with Brennan and his curse while seeking an evil group preparing to destroy Atlantis and much more. Fans will relish the latest oceanic romantic fantasy as Alesia Holliday moves her overarching plot forward with a wonderful entry. Harriet Klausner

Master Of Fire
Angela Knight
Berkley, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425233351

In South Carolina, Greendale County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Logan MacRoy is excellent at several law enforcement specialties including arson investigator, forensic chemist and bomb expert. However, he conceals from his colleagues his roots as the offspring of King Arthur the vampire and Queen Guinevere the magi. A dormant vampire, Logan has not made the move to become bloodsucker.

Recently chemist Giada Shepherd has become a full majae. Arthur assigned her to keep Logan safe from a serial killer murdering the latent with the caveat not to engage in sexual activity with his offspring as that would trigger the vampiric conversion. Giada’s only ally is the mystical ancient Smoke the cat who assists her, but he cannot keep her and Logan from being attracted to one another.

This is a terrific entry in the Mageverse urban fantasy series (see Master of the Night and Master of the Moon) as the mortal son of King Arthur and Queen Guinevere is under attack while recently promoted majae chemist Giada risks her life and her heart to protect him. Fans will enjoy this pairing as the romance is hot with sexual healing while an insidious killer goes after Logan using magically enhanced bombs with no concern about collateral damage yet also the overarching theme moves forward. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 24, 2010

More from Harriet

Bride of the Wolf
Susan Krinard
Harlequin HQN, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774777

In 1881 in Pecos County, Texas, Holden Renshaw finds his boss, owner of the Dog Creek Ranch, dead in what looks like a riding mishap. Holden has doubts about it being an accident as Jedediah McCarrick was a superb rider. He finds the bags that Jedediah hid as if the man knew he was going to be killed. Inside the bags are his three wills with the unsigned last one giving the ranch to a mail order bride Rachel Lyndon coming from Ohio. The first dated will gives the spread to Jedediah’s nephew Sean while the last signed will bequests all to Holden.

Rachel arrives and insists she is Jedediah’s wife; Holden knows that is a lie, but says nothing. Holden and Rachel are attracted to one another, but distrust each other. However, she proves to be really good with his baby recently dumped on him by a dying prostitute. Each has secrets as she was kicked out of her home by her grandma and rejected by her lover, but a miscarriage left her barren. He is wanted as the dangerous Heath Renier and can change into the wolf without blinking. Neither expected how far Sean will go to manipulate everyone to do what he wants.

This is an exciting werewolf historical romance starring two likable but fragile (mentally that is) individuals who feel love arrived at an inappropriate moment. Ironically, Sean, in spite of being over the top of the Guadalupe Mountains, is the most fascinating character in the fast-paced story line. Although a late Ranger twist seems wrong even considering paranormal justice, fans will enjoy this fine tale while wondering what will happen when everyone learns Jedediah is dead.
Harriet Klausner

Warrior Ascended
Addison Fox
Signet, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229380

Enyo the Goddess of War plans to steal five Egyptian Summoning Stones that will enable her to rule the world. Themis the Goddess of Justice to abate the mass destruction that Enyo has set in motion creates immortal warriors to fight for her cause of balancing the scales.

One of Themis’ fighters Leo warrior Brody Talbot is assigned to protect museum curator Ava Harrison. She is grieving her father’s murder, but excited over running his exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan where the ancient summoning stones her dad found are going to be displayed. Her only concern besides her father’s death is the hunk of an archeologist Brody working with her. As they fall in love, she has horrific visions that she believes are stone induced.

The first Sons of the Zodiac saga is a superb urban fantasy romance starring an eons old warrior and a mousy curator. The story line is action-packed as the Goddesses battle through minion over possession of the stones. Fans will enjoy the Fifth Age of Man as the Leo Warrior Ascended with the mortal he protects to fight the forces of Enyo. Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 23, 2010


Baryon 115 is up on the website, so check it out.

Am in Brooksville, Florida to get my younger brother married.

Revews from Harriet

Serpent Moon
C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
Tor, Mar 2 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765364258

The Sazi still struggle with understanding alpha werewolf Eric Thompson’s howling skill that somehow interferes with airwaves; his problem is though he can do it, he is unable to control his howling talent. Recently converted by a horrific assault into a Sazi, Holly Sanchez becomes a healer and is sent to the Outback to find Eric by Wolven

However, she has learned that a Sazi relatives support group plans to use an elixir on the werewolves that will return them to Homo sapiens. At the same time the scheme to resurrect Marduc the snake goddess is nearing fruition. Holly and Eric team up to prevent two probable tragedies from occurring.

This is a great entry in the Tales of the Sazi mythos as Marduc arrives on the scene seemingly invincible. The story line is fast-paced and filled with non stop action as previously secondary character Holly proves she with the Canadian wolf can hold an exhilarating story line together in Colorado. With no time to catch a breath once the lead couple meets in the Outback, readers will fully relish the latest Sazi romantic urban fantasy as nothing less than love and saving the world at the same time is at stake. Harriet Klausner

The Folding Knife
K.J. Parker
Orbit, Feb 22 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316038447

Bassiamus “Basso: Severus was born to an aristocratic family in the Republic of Vesani. His father was First Citizen, but lost his position in the next election to an offspring of a sausage worker. He decided to buy up a bank’s outstanding shares. When Basso grew up he married the woman his parents chose for him. When Basso comes home one day, he sees his wife and brother-in-law having sex; he kills both of them.

His sister who Basso loved more than anyone else turned her back on him. However, he is the First Citizen of the Vesani Republic and owns the bank so still does his best for her. The only demand she made of him that he could not fulfill was to cut all ties with his son Bassano. The people love Basso and the House passes all the bills he presents to them. He knows the Republic must annex their neighbors to become an empire because he fears the Empire of the East, once it stops rebuilding, will look westward to places like Vesani. His first invasion is mineral rich Mavortis which has no central army, but a traitor insures his plan fails to execute properly.

Based on Ancient Rome, The Folding Knife is a work of exciting speculative fiction. The fascinating story line focuses on idealistic Basso the Magnificent who is a brilliant pragmatic strategist. He knows his decisions will cost lives, but though he grieves what will occur, Basso feels this is only way to save his beloved Republic. What his idealism concealed from him is that it only takes one mistake to devastate even the greatest person.
THE FOLDING KNIFE is excellent because of the great storyline, well crafted characterizations and a look into a fascinating culture. Harriet Klausner

The Last Stormlord
Glenda Larke
Orbit, Marc2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316069151

In Scarcleft City in the Scarpen Quarter, her father sells his twelve year old daughter Terelle to Opal's snuggery where she picks up dirty plates and mugs to be reused in the kitchen. Terelle knows that if she fails to escape shortly she will become a courtesan handmaiden just like her older half-sister Vivie who counseled her to accept the inevitable. However, the water painter gives her hope.

At the same time that Terelle considers how to escape, the Stormlord is dying and no one seems capablee of taking over his critical duties. Shale the low life has the gift, but lacks the training and being an outcast means he will never receive the training to control being a Stormord bringing the needed rain to the desert. As he wanders around while the current Stormlord nears death, the son of Granlon the Cloudmaster Nealrith Almondine and Kaneth Carnelian check levels at water cisterns to find each one at dangerous low drought levels. They discuss moral options while Taquar leads the tribes to return to the Time of Random Rain; to achieve his goal he must kill anyone who displays the watergiver talent.

This is a terrific fantasy that uses a dangerous drop in water levels to set up the excellent opening act of what looks like will be a superb relevant thriller. The ensemble cast is incredibly deep so that even secondary characters like Kaneth and the water talented female Ryka that he should marry come across as fully developed enhancing the plausibility of the story line of doom. In fact Kaneth explains the two extreme choices between allowing everyone to die slowly and mass murder to enable a chosen few high up in the water hierarch to live. Fans will enjoy Glenda Larke’s terrific relevant tale as the water wars seem imminent in the Quartern.
Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fantasy Reviews from Harriet

Shalador’s Lady
Anne Bishop
Roc, Mar 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463159

When she was Queen the first time, Cassidy of Bhad was too weak and plain so her retinue deserted her to join the stronger court of much prettier and more powerful Queen Kermilla. At the same she is dethroned, the deceitful Queens ignored the honorable Rules of the Blood and ruin Dena Nehele leading to revolt.

As the Rose-Jeweled Queen Cassidy expands her efforts to cleanse the entire realm and affirm she deserves being the ruler, Cassidy continues to grow in moral fiber, which enables her to grow in power to cleanse the land of the taint.

Fans of the long running Black Jewels saga will relish this terrific entry; newcomers need to at least read the previous entry The Shadow Queen to better understand the action-packed entry though perusing previous books would be even better as Anne Bishop paints a complex realm. Harriet Klausner

Jade Man's Skin
Daniel Fox
Del Rey, Feb 16 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780345503046

The Dragon in Chains is no longer locked in the Straits of Taishu. Instead she soars in the sky free with an obsession to take her vengeance on those who chained it. However, the beast has not been able to rid itself of her liberator, Han the apprentice scribe who remains telepathically tied to the dragon.

At the same the exiled young Emperor remains alive because of the dragon, but also feels like a bird in a gilded cage as he is trapped in the mountains of Taishu Island by his enemies and the beast. He is changing due to jade exposure that leaves him more powerful, angrier and frustrated as he no longer wants to hide in the mountains. His first step back is taking control of the city of Taishu as the Emperor strikes back. General Ping Wen believes capturing the Jade Throne is his first step to what he should be – Godhood. Besides counting his losses over the years, pirate Captain Li Ton tries to take over the military as the civil war continues unabated. The exiled Emperor’s favorite concubine Lady Mei Feng is also in the mix cleverly out maneuvering the ambitious general. However, out of the sea comes the Li-Goddess who comes after the dragon, but collateral damage of people is no concern to her.

The second medieval fantasy captures the essence of Chinese mythology with an even deeper more complicated tale than the Dragon in Chains. The story line is fast-paced with several subplots brewing as various individuals want power; some want godhood power. The point of view changes, but never slows down as the dragon unchained is a strong tale as the conflict expands. Harriet Klausner

The Battle Sylph
L.J. McDonald
Leisure, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843963007

Her father arranged for Solie to marry a forty-five years old obese man. She refuses so believing her maiden Aunt Masha would taker her in, Solie flees her village. However, she fails to arrive at the haven she seeks. Instead she is captured by soldiers working for the prince of Eferem who expects a visit from a Battler Sylph. To bind him to the royals, they need a virgin sacrifice; hence the plan is to kill Solie the moment the Sylph crosses over as that enslaves them to the killer of his “queen”.

However, the soldiers underestimate their helpless prisoner who escapes their binds and calls to the Sylph “Hey You”. He kills the prince and immediately the named Heyou and his queen Solie flee together. Outraged King Alcor Baldorth sends royal warriors and other Battle Sylphs to chase after this abomination of a female master of any kind of Sylph, but especially the most fearsome type, the Battler.

This is a great opening romantic fantasy with a delightful tongue in cheek attitude that enhances the fun of the action-packed tale. The story line is fast-paced from the opening failed binding and never slows down as everyone knows females cannot be masters of sylphs. As Solie and Heyou rock their kingdom, readers will appreciate their escapades of trying to find haven, which is how she got into this mess in the first place. The Battle Sylph is a superb first act. Harriet Klausner

Sarah Langan Wins 2009 Bram Stoker Award for Most Outstanding Novel

Horror is a man’s world…but one woman has made a screaming, slashing entre into the scene…and in two of her first three published novels, has won prestigious awards and honors that put her on equal bloody footing with the guys who rule the genre.

Sarah Langan’s novel AUDREY’S DOOR ( won the Bram Stoker award for outstanding novel in 2009. Ms. Langan is delighted to join the company of Straub, King, and McCammon for winning twice for novel (and overall, three times!). On what it feels like to win the award twice, Sarah commented, “Remember how SNL used to be dominated by men, and then the ladies came along? It feels like that. A total sea change.”

More details on the awards here:

Also, Sarah Langan’s short stories Fenstad’s End, The Burn Victim, The Dark Materials Project , and The Agathas all got honorable mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Anthology, The Best Horror of the Year, 2009.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Press Release from Book View Cafe

(National)-Book View Café, the Internet's largest professional authors' ooperative, has announced a new partnership to distribute its growing ebook catalogue. Book View Press titles will now be carried by international ebook powerhouse Kobo Inc.

"Kobo is taking a truly dynamic approach to ebooks," said Book View Café Project Manager Sarah Zettel. "From the beginning, BVC has promised readers the books they want, when they want them. Kobo's commitment to keeping pace in the rapidly changing ebook world will help us keep that promise."

A unique online venture, composed entirely of professional authors, Book View Café will make the majority of their current ebooks available through Kobo's online stores. This will include titles by award-winning and bestselling authors such as Judith Tarr, Sarah Zettel, Steven Harper, Vonda N. McIntyre, Amy Sterling Casil, Deborah J. Ross, and Patricia Rice.

"It's our distinct pleasure to be working with a similarly minded eBook centric publishing house," says Michael Tamblyn, vice-president of Content, Merchandising, & Marketing at Kobo Inc. "Books anytime, anywhere is the great strength of digital - BVC shares that vision."

To celebrate the new partnership, Book View Cafe will be making four new titles available from Kobo: A Wind in Cairo by Judith Tarr, along with new omnibus editions of The Starfarers Quartet by Vonda N. McIntyre, The Silent Empire Saga by Steven Harper and The Complete Paths to Camelot by Sarah Zettel will be released through Kobo for a special thirty day exclusive period.

"Kobo's world-wide reach and suite of convenient reading tools made an exclusive release a natural step," said Zettel.

Also coming to Kobo will be original offerings from the newly formed Book View Press, including Rocket Boy and the Geek Girls, an anthology of rare and classic science fiction stories, and The Shadow Conspiracy, an all-new steampunk collection. A fantasy anthology, Dragon Lords and Warrior Women, with contributions from Sherwood Smith, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Deborah Wheeler, and a book on writing and the publishing industry are being planned for this year.

Although Kobo offers digital rights management (DRM) for their e-book publishers, all BVC content will be made available DRM-free at their site ( as well as at

Sue Lange
Media Relations
Book View Cafe

Werewolves and others

The Dragon Factory
Jonathan Maberry
St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312382490

Otto Wirths and Cyrus Jakoby prove evil lives forever as these brilliant cretins implement a plan to finish Mengele’s master race eugenics program. Cyrus especially has worked for several decades to turn the world 100 percent Caucasian by turning genetic diseases contagious..

The Department of Military Science (DMS) is perhaps the only organization capable of preventing the triggering of the Extinction Wave, but they are preoccupied with an NSA threat to their existence. However, while DMS struggles with political threats, SAM, a child inside the Jakoby compound, sneaks out a video to DMS that awakens the agency to the pandemic threat of global ethnic cleansing. Joe Ledger and his Echo team try to prevent the final solution of destroying much of the world’s population; but they are unprepared with the genetic experiments that created mythological creatures, a super-race of soldiers and subservient NEW MEN.

The sequel to Patient Zero pays homage to The Island of Dr. Moreau by Wells and Jurassic Park by Crichton in this exciting thriller. Fast-paced, filled with action, and several surprising twists, fans will enjoy this over the top science fiction thrillers. Harriet Klausner

Not Less Than Gods
Kage Baker
Tor, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765318916

In London in 1825, unmarried Lady Amalthea R. gives birth to a boy. Neither aristocratic parent wants to raise him so Dr. Nennys leaves the newborn with Mr. and Mrs. Bell who recently gave birth to a stillborn. They reluctantly take the unwanted infant into their home, but mostly ignore him. Eventually Dr. Nennys ships the neglected child, Edward Bell-Fairfax, to boarding school.

Edward joins the British navy, but his childhood and his unique skills of instant reaction thinking and super strength make him a loner, who fails to fit in with bands of brother warriors. He leaves unwelcome again, but Edward joins the Company of scientists and undercover agents. Dr. Ludbridge tutors Edward who is amazed with the friendly acceptance of him as well as the annual message from the future. The teacher and his prize student travel to the continent where Edward tries to influence the outcome of the Crimean War. He learns from his effort that to achieve his idealistic vision of a better world, good intentions are not enough and dirty deeds are sometimes the only solution.

This work of speculative fiction is an intriguing look at the past of one of the more fascinating Company characters; before Edward and botanist Mendoza becomes a pair. For die hard fans of the recently completed saga only who will appreciate how far Edward came from being unwanted, abused and neglected with only sinister Dr. Nennys interested in manipulating the child to take advantage of his uncanny skills. Yet through all that he remains an idealist who finds his niche with the Company and his soul with Mendoza. Harriet Klausner

Legend of the White Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebook, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402219054

While their partners Cameron MacPherson and Vin Summerfield remain in Seattle as the former hunts only criminals and the latter hates flying, David Davis and Owen Nottingham are in Maine hunting black bear. Their guide Kintail Silverman, co-owner with Lila Grayson of Back Country Tours, takes them deep into the wilderness when thirtyish David suddenly suffers a heart attack. Owen knows David and pleads with Kintail to save his friend; he will pay any cost. Kintail agrees and suddenly one of his purebred white wolves leaps at the two private investigators.

Faith O'Mallery is town searching for her former boyfriend Hilson Snowden who stole her father’s research paper. Her father tells her not to read the paper once she recovers it. At a hotel, she enters an occupied room as the desk clerk gave her the wrong key. He says his name is Cameron and he is a private investigator from Seattle seeking his missing two partners. They team up in search of his buddies and her dad’s paper, but neither is prepared to what they find as she learns her dad is not insane with his sociology study and he that his friends live. Soon they will understand the howl of the wolf for its soulmate as their new loupe garous pals are in danger of extinction from Dark Angels.

The fourth werewolf romantic suspense thriller (see To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf) is a super entry as two dedicated individuals combine their mission only to fall in love at first bite. The pristine descriptions of Maine and elsewhere add to the feeling that a werewolf pack runs free in the tundra. Fans will relish this strong paranormal entry as no one does tales of the wolf better than Terry Spear does. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Be sure to check out the Riverworld reboot on the SyFy Channel Sunday night at 7pm and a replay at 11pm.

It's based on the first two books of Philip Jose Farmer's tremendous series, TO YOUR SCATTERED BODIES GO and THE FABULOUS RIVERBOAT. A combined edition has just been released by Tor which contains both volumes. It's available for $17.99

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Anthologies

THE DRAGON AND THE STARS, edited by Derwin Mak and Eric Choi, DAW, $7.99, 312 pages, ISBN: 9780756406189, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Here is a collection of eighteen tales drawing on Chinese tradition and legend that are written by authors of Chinese heritage who add in touches of their current culture to add into the uniqueness of their stories.

The stories are varied and feature topics ranging from a Chinese consortium trying to launch a rocket from Canada; a fox spirit seeking revenge; a fortune cookie that makes you write your own fortune; a visit to “Anglotown”; the Man in the Moon; and, other tales crafted to give you a taste of Chinese culture and fine story telling.

CTHULHU’S REIGN, edited by Darrell Schweitzer, DAW, $7.99, 312 pages, ISBN: 9780756406165, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

There are few souls on the planet that are not familiar either with H.P. Lovecraft or his most famous creation, Cthulhu and the Great Old Ones. Cthulhu is also one of the most written about creation that has had many other writes add to the every expanding Cthulhu Mythos stories.

In this new collection of tales, we find out what may happen after the Great Old Ones return from the stars, R’lyeh rises from beneath the sea, and the followers who have kept the faith receive their rewards. Here are fourteen tales from new and established authors to share with us the imaginative horror and strangeness that will be the results of CTHULHU’S REIGN.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

More Blockade Billy News


Stephen and Cemetery Dance have made an arrangement with Scribner to make available a less expensive hardcover edition of Blockade Billy, with an on-sale date of May 25th, the same date the audiobook goes on sale. The Scribner edition will be available in all U.S. retail outlets. Both the Scribner book and the Simon & Schuster audiobook will feature a bonus short story. In the meantime, an eBook edition of Blockade Billy should go on sale through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Sony on April 20th.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Artist John Schoenherr Dies

Artist John Schoenherr, 74, died April 8, 2010 in New Jersey.

John Carl Schoenherr was born July 5, 1935 in New York City. He became a full-time freelance artist shortly after his graduation from the Pratt Institute in 1956, and did hundreds of illustrations for SF magazines, including Astounding/Analog, Amazing, Fantastic, Infinity, and F&SF. He was the principle cover artist for Astounding/Analog in the late '50s and '60s, and was nominated for eleven Hugo Awards from 1962-1975, winning in 1965. He also won a 1988 Caldecott Medal for his work on Owl Moon, written by Jane Yolen, and wrote and illustrated a handful of children's books on his own.

I remember Schoenherr from his magazine appearances and the cover of DUNE by Frank Herbert. I can't be positive it was the cover on the original edition or not, but it is on the cover of the SFBC I picked up in the late 60s or early 70s.

He had a beautiful sense of color and style that was an inspiration, in my opinion, to Jack Gaughan and other artists of the 70s and 80s.

Unusual Reviews

The Ruling Sea
Robert V. S. Redick
Del Rey, Feb 16 2010, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345508850

Almost everyone believes that the ship Chathrand sunk at sea. However, the vessel did not, but chances are great it will sink as Thasha Isiq and her two companions Pazel and Neeps know they must cross The Ruling Sea; something no ship has ever done and their Captain Nilus Rose refuses to try. They have no choice if a world war is to be avoided as they possess the powerful Nilstone.

Others want to gain the Nilstone in order to use its power for personal gain. In particular the wizard Arunis, irate over his defeat at the hands of vanished peer Ramachni and the sea travelers (see the Red Wolf Conspiracy), chases after the Chathrand because the Nilstone will enable this spell-caster to ignite a war between empires. Others like Felthrup the Rat and emperors and queens with more ambition than sense also wants the Nilstone. However, there remains one even more insidious evil lurking in the bowels of the ship that makes the wizard, the rat, the emperor and the queen look benign at the same time the heroes know their goal may not exist.

This is a super sea quest fantasy sequel that continues the adventures of Thasha and her comrades, but their most powerful ally Ramachni has left to heal. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action, but it is the cast who make The Ruling Sea a great thriller. Thasha and her allies know the risk they take sailing on water in which no one has allegedly crossed to a land that probably does not exist except in mythology. At the same time there are plenty on board and giving chase who want what they possess. Robert V. S. Redick writes a great tale of heroes and villains as the second Chathrand Voyage heads south into the dangerous uncharted sea. Harriet Klausner

The Hualapai Cycle
Jason Walters
Black Wyrm, 2010

“Desert Dawgs”. In the Black Rock Desert, Chris and James ignore warnings while driving on the isolated Playa until they hit a big dog who is breeder Tyson’s “significant other”.

“Phat Albert”. PH tells Sheriff Sal that a gigantic mountain lion killed horse breeder Barker, his two big dogs and a steed; he escorted a hunter and his son after the animal.

“Judas Horse”. He betrayed his species of wild horses running free by luring them into a man’s trap until he learns they will be sold as dog meat.

“Big Momma”. At the Burning Man festival, Oberon warns Uncle Hank he will relocate if they fail to do something about Big Momma the dust coyote who sexually kills people.

“Tweaker Creek”. Iverson the fireman arrives at Hank’s Hualapai Club drenched in blood and tells Hippie what happened at Smoke Creek; home of meth tweakers, coyotes and kids.

“Crippled Stray”. Since her Joe died and her children moved away, old Maude is lonely and wants to die even after she rescues a crippled stray calling him Joe and bonding with the wild beast.

“Mexican Cowboy”. Lupe the vaquero asks his beloved Shuttup Amy to marry him; this may be the first time that someone shut up loquacious Amy, who flees to the Granites.

“Guerrerro’s War”. Sheriff Sal informs Guerrerro that he arrested his best friend Hippie for murder because Senator Willow caught him burying a skull. Guerrerro acts strange as he works to free his buddy.

These are eight well written but dark and stark tales of life in and around Hualapai on the Black Rock Desert; home of the Burning Man annual festival and even rock punker Sid Vicious recognizes the eeriness. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Latest from Oceanview

Fortuna, Michael R. Stevens, Oceanview, May 1 2010, $25.95, ISBN: 9781933515779, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Bored computer science major at Stanford University Jason Lind loves playing the online game Fortuna, based on Renaissance Florence economics. However, his role playing character Father Allesandro da Scala begins to take over more of Jason's time than his real life. He soon falls into heavy debt due to his character, but remains addicted to playing the game even as he is aware of what he is doing as the Renaissance Father.

Broke he leaves Stanford to work for his Uncle Frank at Global Packet Control (GPC); the same firm his dad worked at before he died in a car accident almost a decade ago. At GPC, Jason uncovers questionable probably illegal deals and underhanded practices that leave him wondering what to do, but he thinks Father da Scala would know how to proceed.

Though the premise feels over the top of Mount Whitney, this is an intriguing blending of on-line role playing and global economics, as Michael R. Stevens argues that both consist of players starring in roles other than themselves. Except for a romantic subplot that feels forced and required, readers will find the saga of Jason-Father Allesandro fascinating.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Riddle

What is greater than God,
More evil than the devil,
The poor have it,
The rich need it,
And if you eat it,
you'll die?

A New Stephen King

Blockade Billy
Stephen King
Cemetery Dance, Apr 20 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9781587672286

In the year Russia sent a satellite into orbit, New Jersey had a professional baseball team the Titans. Just before opening day, the Devil’s catcher Johnny Goodkind was drunk and ran over a woman. He tried to run but was caught, which ended his sports career. His replacement Frank Faraday suffered a career ending injury during a game.

The team calls up from the Minors Davenport Cornholers William Blakely who proves to be a first class player. He befriends pitcher Danny Dusen who is closing in on two hundred wins. "Blockade Billy" wants him to achieve the milestone. The crowd loves Billy, but one of the management workers who deals with the players begins to notice odd phenomena involving the catcher. Billy sometimes has a band-aid on his second finger’s middle knuckle and that means trouble. Billy exactly parrots what Danny says even when he was not there to hear the words. By the time his team figures out what makes Billy tick, they erase his name from the baseball archives; the Titans since have become a historical footnote while the game’s greatest play simply vanished as the season for the Titans does not count.

This short novel will please Stephen King’s readers especially those who cherish baseball stories. The story line feels somewhat like throwback to when baseball was the National Pastime just a decade after Jackie Robinson broke the race barrier. Well written and entertaining although the short format never allows the audience to get close to Billy or his teammates, fans will sing Take Me Out to the Ballgame, King style. Harriet Klausner

Here is the latest official update from

"Cemetery Dance Publications’ beautiful hardcover of Blockade Billy is a limited edition, and we all know what that means—there won’t be enough copies to go around. Because of high demand from devoted readers and obligations to libraries, and—alas—contrary to pre-order invitations from online retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, it won't be possible to ship copies of the limited edition to retail bookstores. Don't blame Amazon! Don’t blame Barnes & Noble! Together with Cemetery Dance, Stephen is exploring ways to make the novella available to all his Constant Readers as soon as possible, at least by the time the Simon & Schuster audiobook goes on sale. More definite word on this should come shortly. But if you want that one-of-a-kind authentic William 'Blockade Billy' Blakely baseball card, which has time-traveled all the way from 1957, place your book order online with Cemetery Dance."

Order from but don't wait too long.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Matter of Matter

A MATTER OF MATTER, L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Press, $9.95, 140 pages, ISBN: 9781592123667; THE CROSSROADS, L. Ron Hubbard, Galaxy Press, $9.95, 124 pages, ISBN: 9781592123681, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In addition to bringing the short stories and novellas of L. Ron Hubbard back into print for this and future generations of readers, these books are presented in a way to capture the feel of the original pulps that they appeared in. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, you had a choice of the slick magazines (Life, The Saturday Evening Post) or the pulps (Unknown, Astonishing, The Shadow, Weird Tales) and L. Ron Hubbard graced the pages of both. His popularity grew with his appearances in the pulps, because he wrote in all genres and often would appear in an issue under his name and one of his pen names. In this collection of his works, Stories of the Golden Age, almost all of his stories are reprinted for our enjoyment.

“A Matter of Matter” is the story of Chuck Lambert who saved his money for eleven years to buy his own planet only to arrive there to find out the laws of physics don’t work the same as on Earth. But there is a bright spot. “The Conroy Diary” relates the unbelievable adventures of an explorer who appears to be a mystery man. “The Planet Makers”, “The Obsolete Weapon”, and a glossary fill out the volume along with a brief look at Hubbard’s career.

“The Crossroads” is a fantasy tale of Eben Smith who gets tired of helping the government set price controls of fruits and produce. One day he sets out to the city to barter his goods and comes to a crossroad and discovers alternate realities where his goods are a surprise hit. “Borrowed Glory” and “The Devil’s Rescue” fill out the volume with more fantasy tales to thrill and entertain.

These tales are also available in multicast audiobooks. Check your local bookstore for availability of these and other titles. You can also join the Golden Age Book Club at These are classic tales that are still enjoyable today. Be sure to check them out.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

HWA announces Stoker winners

Horror Writers Association celebrates 2009 Stoker Winners

At long last, the anticipation is over. The Horror Writers Association has announced the winners of the 2009 Bram Stoker Awards at its annual Stoker Banquet held tonight as part of the World Horror Convention in Brighton, UK.

Eight new bronze haunted-house statuettes were handed over to the writers responsible for creating superior works of horror last year. This year’s winners are:

Superior Achievement in a NOVEL
AUDREY’S DOOR by Sarah Langan (Harper)

Superior Achievement in a FIRST NOVEL
DAMNABLE by Hank Schwaeble (Jove)

Superior Achievement in LONG FICTION
THE LUCID DREAMING by Lisa Morton (Bad Moon Books)

Superior Achievement in SHORT FICTION
“In the Porches of My Ears” by Norman Prentiss (POSTSCRIPTS #18)

Superior Achievement in an ANTHOLOGY
HE IS LEGEND edited by Christopher Conlon (Gauntlet Press)

Superior Achievement in a COLLECTION
A TASTE OF TENDERLOIN by Gene O’Neill (Apex Book Company)

Superior Achievement in NONFICTION
WRITERS WORKSHOP OF HORROR by Michael Knost (Woodland Press)

Superior Achievement in POETRY
CHIMERIC MACHINES by Lucy A. Snyder (Creative Guy Publishing)

When to Use a Pen Name

free article for enjoyment, publication, posting, and sharing:

When to Use a Pen Name
By Scott Nicholson

The traditional considerations for using pen names?
A) You were a respected professional in your "day job" and didn't want your fantasy dabbling to detract from your standing;
B) publishers, for their own reasons, wanted you to only write one book a year and let you slowly starve;
C) your sales had tanked and you needed to ditch yourself;
D) you were writing in vastly differently fields and styles and needed a clear distinction so as to not upset fans;
E) there was the real possibility that someone would shoot you if they knew who wrote that book.

The mainstream publishing industry wants you to stick to one type of book and easy-to-shelf brand. The advice you get from editors is solely for their convenience--and it makes good business sense, because a single book is hardly worth building a campaign around, because its useful life is too fleeting. But if it's only a mild stretch, you should stick to your own name whenever possible, because ultimately you are your brand, and you should always care more about yourself than you care about the industry, or the industry cares about you. If Stephen King can do IT and MISERY, DARK TOWER and DOLORES CLAIBORNE, and Koontz can tap a number of genres, it's perfectly acceptable for you to just write You Books.

Publishers have legitimate logistic reasons for carefully controlling the flow of product, due to inventory issues, bookstore needs, production considerations, and marketing concerns. But in this new digital/POD era, it's actually smarter to have everything out at the same time--there is very little reason to dole out content in measured paces, unless you have a specific gimmick or campaign that requires timing. That's true for authors as well as publishers, though authors have the ability to react more quickly and with less to lose. And your books cross-promote each other, building your brand, which more and more is something that can last a lifetime rather than popping up in three-month bursts in the middle shelves of a bookstore. Be yourself whenever possible, and when you're not, make sure you have a good reason.
Scott Nicholson is the author of 10 novels, including Drummer Boy, The Skull Ring, The Red Church, and They Hunger. He's also written three story collections and six screenplays. A journalist and freelance editor in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, he edits the freebie download "Write Good or Die." His Web site is

Zombies and Psychics

Once Bitten, Twice Dead
Bianca D’Arc
Kensington Brava, Mar 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758247292

Police officer Sarah Petit investigates a routine call in an abandoned building that she assumes is being used by the homeless or teens drinking.  Instead zombies assault her.  She survives the assault, but is stunned by these B movie attackers.

She goes to a nearby hospital for treatment.  Green Beret Captain Xavier Beauvoir visits Officer Petit at the hospital where he explains to her the zombie disease was accidentally created by the military and that Sarah is one of few people with natural immunity.  He further elucidates that her immunity may prevent further mass calamity from occurring though the enemy continues to create more of these monsters.

This is a fun zombie romance in which the love subplot is shockingly between two humans.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of zombie action.  Although the prime villain comes across as a Hollywood B level stereotype, readers will enjoy the cop and the soldier battle the paranormal, the brass (his and hers) and love in Bianca D’Arc’s exciting supernatural military romance.  Harriet Klausner

Out of Body
Stella Cameron
Mira, Mar 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327622

Marley Millet is a psychic just like generations of her family before her.  Lately she has suffered from a horrific nightmare; the underworld Embran torturing young women.  Marley knows the Embran loathes her for what her ancestors did to the loathsome beast.

In New Orleans fearing for women, Marley visits NOPD Detective Archer who treats her like she is a crazy lady though much of her rumbling proves true.  Meanwhile the Ushers inside her head mock her failure.  Only reporter Gray Fisher, a retired cop, who talked with several of the surviving torture victims, believes her.  As Gray and Marley team up to prevent the Embran from harming anyone else, they fall in love, which stimulates his previously unknown psychic skills.

This is a terrific paranormal romantic suspense starring a wonderful heroine, her distracting dog Willow and a former cop who finds her amusing and attractive as the colorful sparks they make confuse him and surprise her.  The cast is fully developed to include the predator from beyond.  Fans will enjoy this exciting fast-paced thriller as the crazy lady, Willow and her beloved reporter battle a nasty underworld serial killer. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Strange Mysteries 2

Here's the cover for the latest anthology from Whortleberry Press. I think it is the largest anthology they have done so far. As you can see, I have a story in it, so I won't tell you to rush right over to and order a copy. You can also order direct at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Shapeshifter Reviews

Pride Mates
Jennifer Ashley
Leisure, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780843960051

In Shifterstown in the Austin area, human attorney Kim Fraser is defending shifter Brian Smith from the charge of murdering his human girlfriend. Brian is the first shifter she ever met though their existence has been known for two decades. Like mots humans, she assumed shifters were beasts who needed collars to keep them from going berserk. In spite of her fears of shifters being violent bogey-beasts, she believes her client is innocent; so she comes to Shifterstown to obtain the help of the go to shifters the Morrisey brood; father Dylan and brothers Liam and Sean.

Liam informs Kim that Brian never came to him so why should he help him. Kim explains she got the short straw as the junior lawyer, but believes Brian is innocent because the collar prevents violent crime. She also says the prosecution, cops, and judge have not played fair and her client has given up, but she has not. Although he has doubts about getting involved because of his attraction to the brave lawyer who came alone, Liam is forced to intervene when a shifter without a collar threatens Kim’s life.

The key to the first Shifters Unbound romantic urban fantasy is the belief that the world of Jennifer Ashley exists; especially the racism with parallels to America as humans even those who never met a shifter believe they are deadly animals needing control. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the feisty lawyer challenges the powerful shifter and never slows down as love and the law clash in what is a terrific tale of people’s rights and dignities. Harriet Klausner

Taming the Moon
Sherrill Quinn
Kensington Brava, Mar 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231918

Holding six years old Zoe as hostage to force her mom to perform a deadly deed, New York werewolf pack alpha Eddy ordered omega Olivia Felan to kill Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Rory Sullivan or else have her daughter returned in a body bag. Olivia is attracted to the cop and instead of killing him, accidentally turned him into a furry shapeshifter like she is (see Seducing the Moon) though he is unaware she was the one who changed him.

However, crazy Eddy still holds Zoe so she warns Olivia to complete the mission before his patience runs out. She heads to the Southwest United States where she confesses everything except one biting mission to Sully; he persuades her to team up with him to rescue Zoe and kill Eddy; as well as for some wolfish sex. Once that mission is done, Sully plans to find the werewolf who converted him and kill the beast.

This is an entertaining werewolf romantic suspense starring a beleaguered omega who can turn lioness when it comes to her cub. The story line is fast-paced, but a bit thin especially for newcomers as the previous Sherrill Quinn Moon howlers (see Daring the Moon and Seducing the Moon) provide the depth as to how Olivia and Sully got to the point they have reached. Fans will enjoy this fun tale of an omega turning alpha to rescue her daughter. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

Here are a couple of new ones from me. Enjoy!

KARMIC WARRIOR, David Kuzminski,, FREE, 97 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

One thing about Dave’s writing is he feels at home in any genre. I’ve read his science fiction, fantasy, detective, and others that combine the genres and some that have a humorous tone as well. This is one of his fantasies that takes on the “Warrior” story but adds a twist.

The king has sent his men out to rid the kingdom of all male children in order to prevent a new KARMIC WARRIOR from appearing to protect its citizens. A KARMIC WARRIOR is able to tell the character of a person by their auras. Valoria and her mother are escaping the city when the soldiers question them, but since she is a girl, they let them go.

Valoria is left with Danel to give her the training she needs to complete her destiny. After training she sets out with a “loyal companion” – who is clueless as to who she is, and they have several adventures and end up married with children before she is able to complete her destiny.

This is a fast read and tells a good story with patience and perseverance as the moral. My only fault is that it is too short. Kuzminski has plenty of material for another or three stories about these characters and their adventures.

BARNALBY THE GRAPE, Patrick Welch,, $5.99, 116 pages, ISBN: 9781554047321, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Pat Welch is another of those authors who can make themselves at home in any genre. He is equally adept at science fiction, fantasy, mystery and horror. He also has a wicked sense of humor that will rear its head at unexpected times to make you snicker.

This time out, it’s the story of Barnalby, a servant of Tithonus, who used him as a servant, scribe or cook, whatever he needed. The only problem was Tithonus was tiring of Barnalby and had to come up with a unique way to be rid of him, but realistic enough to get another servant from the city.

Tithonus decides to send Barnalby on a quest to bring him back a Quetzal feather. He gives him a map scroll and sends him on his way with some jewelry and goods to trade for what he would need. As these quests usually go, Barnalby gets out into the real world where his naivety causes some of his problems and the quest takes off for places unknown.

Barnalby is befriended by a Magician - charlatan to be precise – and sets sail only to be marooned. He manages to net a large fish that pulls him to another island where he must save Princess – that’s her name – from a dragon and when receiving his award, a deaf chamberlain announces him as Barnalby the Grape, and once a title is given it can’t be changed.

He has other adventures as he goes on his quest only to find a surprise answer to his quest.

Pat has written another interesting entry into his literary canon and the stories of “The Quest”. I would have enjoyed a longer adventure as this is well written and enjoyable. Kudos to Pat Welch for another job well done.

Harriet's Reviews

Karen Robards
Putnam, Mar 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156274

Having lost her position at a law firm that went bankrupt, Lisa Grant leaves Lexington, Kentucky to go home to the family horse ranch, Grayson Springs. Lisa does not feel bad about losing her job as she needs to care for her mom who is dying from ALS.

Lisa obtains work at the Fayette County District Attorney’s office working as a research assistant to DA Scott Buchanan, whom she once loved. His attitude makes her realize he hired her under pressure due to her connections to her mom. Lisa looks into the files of a cold case in which Michael and Angela Garcia and their two children (Tony and Marisa) vanished without a trace in 1981. However, the case shakes her to her bone marrow when she sees the picture of Marisa and a doll the child clings to; she is looking at herself as a little girl and the doll is identical to one she had. Her inquiry with Scott’s help turns ugly when an arsonist tries to kill her and her mom

This is a fast-paced legal thriller that after a prologue has Scott cursing out Lisa for failing to do her job; setting the tone of their relationship. The action never slows down as someone is out to harm Lisa and her mom although the younger has no idea why. Although the climax is over the top of Black Mountain with an incredulous denouement, fans will enjoy Karen Robards taut romantic suspense.
Harriet Klausner

The Selkie Bride
Melanie Jackson
Love Spell, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528346

In 1923 recently widowed Megan Colbin believes that in death her late abusive husband did one good deed for her unlike what he did to her in life; he left her a cottage near allegedly cursed Findloss, Scotland. A storm buried the coastal village under tons of sand only fifty years later, Findloss resurfaced with all its buildings intact, but not a soul or human remains anywhere.

Lachlan arrives from seemingly the sea and introduces himself to Megan. He explains he is a Selkie warrior who is on a mission to prevent a nasty peer from causing havoc on land and at sea; and he is also seeking the human female whose heart has called him. As the widow and the Selkie investigate, they learn Megan's husband and his family were implicated in a wizard’s evil that needs to be destroyed before more innocent people under the sea and on the coast die.

The Selkie Bride is a fascinating historical romantic fantasy with a delightful lead couple who holds the plot together. However, it is the evil villain who steals the show in this exciting early twentieth century paranormal thriller.
Harriet Klausner

A Tale Of Two Demon Slayers
Angie Fox
Love Spell, Feb 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528278

She may have been The Accidental Demon Slayer, but in spite of her lack of experience, Lizzie Brown proved that a preschool teacher can kick butt. However, she also knows she needs training if she is to continue to battle demons. Thankfully, her biker grandma and the coven agree to teach Lizzie all she needs to know about demons and other supernatural species in Greece where Lizzie’s griffin lover Dimitri lives.

Dimitri owes Lizzie for breaking the curse that would have killed his sisters (see the Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers). Whereas his grateful siblings welcome the American, his former fiancé Amara, hates her. However, her biggest problems are her dog has bonded with a dragon (try bringing that through Customs) and someone stole a piece of her magic, which means they might be able to manipulate her at a time when evil is spreading and except for Grandma and the gang Lizzie has lost confidence.

The latest dizzy Lizzie’s urban fantasy thriller combines humor with supernatural suspense in an enjoyable tale. The story line is faster than grandma can ride her Harley and never decelerates even for a kiss. Sub-genre fan will enjoy Lizzie's Greek vacation as she confronts the most dangerous enemy of all, another Lizzie.
Harriet Klausner

Friday, April 2, 2010

Faery, Werecats and A Witch

A Local Habitation
Seanan McGuire
DAW, Mar 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756405960

Half Fae changeling October “Toby” Daye has become a private investigator in the world of mortals as she distrusts her Faerie heritage more than that of the sneaky humans. However, though her preference is to say no, Toby knows better than to refuse a request from her Fairie liege The Shadowed Hills Duke Sylvester Torquill. Coming to her abode in San Francisco, he asks her to insure that his niece, the Countess of Tamed Lightening, is okay as she has ceased all contact with her family.

The Countess January O'Leary runs an information management company in which she employs purebred and changeling fae. A serial killer is murdering the staff. Toby investigates trying to prevent more homicides from occurring; not expecting her inquiries to intertwine.

The second October Daye (Rosemary and Rue) private investigative urban fantasy is a wonderful one sitting read that hooks the audience from the first visitation to the last. Toby terrific is tough and spunky as she holds the dual investigations together with her Noir like scrutiny. Fans will enjoy the heroine’s tours of San Francisco and the land of Fairie as she works a deadly whodunit case while wondering if October will survive long enough to see November. Harriet Klausner

The River King's Road
Liane Merciel
Gallery Books, (Pocket), Mar 9 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439159118

Once Oakharn and Langmyr were provinces of the same empire, but when the empire collapsed, both became kingdoms on opposite sides of the Seivern River. War has been a constant between the two countries with many dying on both sides. Sir Galefrid of Bull’s March in Oakharn travels with his wife and infant son to Willowfield in Langmyr hoping to broker a peace. While they attend church, they and the locals are attacked; the only survivors of the atrocity are the infant Winston, son of Galefrid and brother to Leferic. The mercenary knight Brys Tarnell takes care of Winston until he can get him to safety.

The massacre is just the beginning as a red mist appears in the village killing everyone. Brys knows it is a Thorn’s doing. A Thorn is a maimed witch, acruel sadistic killer; void of human feelings. What he is ignorant of is that Galefred’s acrimonious brother Leferic, coveting power, made a deal with evil. Leferic is now the lord, but learns Winston lives; he makes another deal with the devil to eliminate the heir. Brys and peasant woman Odosse seek a safe place for the baby as Leferic’s hired Thorn gives chase. Every step is dangerous as Leferic needs Winston dead.

This is a delightful epic fantasy that will remind readers of the movie Willow in a Terry Brooks’ early Shannon saga. The good guys and gals are likable and admirable as they sacrifice their safety to keep the infant safe. A key element is that the audience will understand Leferic whose sibling rivalry and jealousy has turned him into a sociopath with ambition and willingness to cut any Faustian deal to achieve his goal of power. Although more infant issues would have been a terrific addition, fans will root for the mercenary, the peasant and the baby as they try to stay alive. Harriet Klausner

Rachel Vincent
Mira, Mar 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780778327608

The civil war between Werecat clans seems imminent. Malone has challenged Sanders for the pivotal Chair of the Territorial Council. Although Sanders and his daughter Faythe wants to grieve the death of his son Ethan (see Prey), she will be there for her dad; as will the rest of their Pride.

As the other council members try to prevent clan war, the Sanders Alpha sends their tabbies (Faythe, Manx and Kaci) to safety. However, instead of reaching the haven, the thunderbirds catch the trio. To save Kaci’s life, Faythe cuts a deal that sends her, her mate Marc Ramos and Calvin’s stepson Jace, whom the two lovers do not trust, into Malone territory with no guarantees.

Though the plot is a bit thin, this is an exhilarating werewolf thriller as Faythe is at her best with her first person account of the seemingly inevitable civil war, her capture with the younger tabbies and her venture into enemy territory with her mate and the stepson of her dad’s rivals. Fans will appreciate her latest escapades while newcomers will seek the backlist (see Pride, Rogue and Shift) as the former student knows werewolf blood will flow unless she and her two traveling hunks pull off a miracle. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, April 1, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

Here's three from Harriet

Roadkill, Rob Thurman, Roc, Mar 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780451463197

The Auphe are dead and their home a wasteland; no one is more pleased with their demise than hybrid human-Auphe Cal Leandros and his purebred human brother Niko. Best friends as well as half-siblings, they no longer have to run and hide. In the open, they run their private investigation business without worry of an Auphe attack.

Both sleuths are shocked when the ancient gypsy granddame Abelia-Roo wants to hire them to find a coffin stolen from them that contains Suyolak the Plague of the World who if released causes horrific diseases. As much as the brothers prefer doing nothing for the backstabbing gypsy queen, they fear what Suyolak can do so follow the trail of Hevas. Rafferty the healer, his cousin Catcher, a were trapped in wolf form, Robin Goodfellow in between thoughts of monogamy and Cal’s sex buddy Delilah join the Leandros on their quest; albeit though Cal and Niko have doubts about each of their teammates epically Delilah who might be trying to kill them. The trail is filled with death as even a trapped Suyolak can kill.

Readers will continue to feel empathy towards Cal who due to his genetic make up as no friends within the preternatural community. His only loving contact remains his brother as both fears what will happen if his Auphe side overwhelms his human DNA. Only those who have a Deathwish would set out on this trek to capture and deal with a mass murderer. Readers will relish this roller coaster ride filled with danger, sharp Madhouse spins and twists as the unexpected is the norm in this urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Chill, Elizabeth Bear, Spectra (Random House), Feb 23 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780553591088

The survivors on board the Jacob's Ladder know they are fortunate to be alive following the supernova destruction of their sun. However, as the injured like Tristen Conn learn from Angel their world dropped to 43 percent intact due to the explosion. There are areas of the space vessel that are beyond repair while the known zone suffers from all types of catastrophic deterioration. Newly appointed Captain Perceval struggles with the remaining rebels led by Arianrhod, who has fled to unknown areas and personal doubts about the right course of action.

Tristen and Benedick pursue Arianrhod through regions of the world they've never visited before. What they observe shakes both of them up while Arianrhod tries to find time to regroup the rebels. Neither pursuer realizes the danger to their way of life that surfaces.

The second Jacobs Ladder parable is a fabulous fast-paced space odyssey that fans of Elizabeth Bear will relish though newcomers must read the previous tale Dust to understand how the populace got to the point of the explosion. The reactions of Tristen and Benedick make the story line fun to read as they visit locations never seen before by either of them; observations that shake their belief system. The audience will relish a visit to the exciting Great Bear universe where the impossible is possible. Harriet Klausner

Blood of the Demon, Diana Rowland, Bantam, Feb 23 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780553592368

Beaulac, Louisiana police detective Kara Gillian fears for the life of her beloved Aunt Tessa who remains comatose as the cop’s othersight showed her a part of her "essence" has vanished. Having once before summoned demon Lord Rhyzkahl (see the Mark of the Demon) and survived the mystical calling, she considers doing it again to ask for his help with her aunt. Rhyzkahl has reasons for wanting the mortal to summon him again.

Kara realizes the suicide of police officer Brian Roth who apparently murdered his wife was caused by the arcane as her oversight sees evidence that something dined on his essence. She vows to learn what committed this atrocity, but her inquiry leads to FBI agent Ryan Kristoff who does not want her to ask Rhyzkahl for help.

The second Gillian police procedural Bayou fantasy is a great thriller that grips the audience the moment the heroine stops at Roth’s house to wake him up and never slows down as she works the case of the essence eater. Kara holds the arcane investigation together while her convoluted relationships with the demon and the fed enhance the strong saga in which forensics takes quite a paranormal twist.
Harriet Klausner

A Couple from Me

Napoleon Concerto: A Novel in Three Movements, Mark Mellon, Treble Heart Books, $13.50, 344 pages, ISBN: 9781936127085, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Here is a book that will appeal to the history buff as well as those who like to read the alternate history genre. There are stories of Germany winning World War II, the South wining the Civil war, or aliens landing to make a change in Earth’s history. This one takes the Napoleonic Wars and makes it a thrilling read.

The year is 1806 Napoleon sits on the throne of France and he is seeking a way to bring England to its knees and rid the mortal enemy that has caused him great concern. Add in Wolfe O’Sheridane, an Irish expatriate now living in Paris; Robert Fulton, the American inventor of the steamship; and, a cast of historical figures on both sides of the English Channel to create a thrilling adventure.

O’Sheridane has Fulton draw up plans for a steam powered warship and convinces Napoleon, with the aid of Josephine, to build the armor clad ship armed with a steam powered ram in order to fight the English fleet.

The experimental ship succeeds and the adventure continues with plans to defeat the English navy and conquer England. There are spies, death attempts, palace intrigue, and surprises as Wolfe and Napoleon move their plans forward to achieve their goals.

Mellon has written a novel that shows the military mind of Napoleon at work, the ingenuity of Fulton and the wrath of an Irishman wanting to see his country freed. Put this on the shelf next to Harry Turtledove, after you have enjoyed it.

THE CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE HUMAN RACE: A Contrivance of Horror, Thomas Ligotti, Hippocampus Press, $25, 248 pages, ISBN: 9780982429693, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

For those of you who only know of Ligotti as a horror writer, this will be an interesting excursion into the real world discussion of what really scares us.

In this look at philosophy - especially pessimistic philosophers, neuroscience, and sociology, Ligotti uses these fields to explain why supernatural fiction has the appeal it has to its readers.

Although this is a non-fiction work, it may be the scariest book Ligotti has ever written. I admit to having some problems reading this one. It’s a volume that exudes pessimism and makes you ask if our waking hours are the real nightmares of life.