Monday, May 31, 2010

Some Unusual Titles

DRACULA IS A RACIST, A Totally Factual Guide to Vampires, Matt Melvin, $12.95, 190 pages, ISBN: 9780806531373, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Here it is in one easy to read, heavily illustrated volume – everything you need to know about vampires. Here is a history of vampires from Vlad Tepes, Count Orloc, Nosferatu, and Count Chocula to the Count on Sesame Street and others. Their weaknesses and proclivity for being in various locales around the world and their place in movies and fiction is also discussed. As far as the question of being a racist, besides Blackula how many non-white vampires have you ever seen?

Just remember that all the facts revealed in this book have been researched thoroughly and proven to be true. Really!

THE BOOK OF ELI, Sam Moffie, Mill City Press, $14.95, 150 pages, ISBN: 9781936107353, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Eli Canaan, while not an overtly religious man, did live a good life and kept nine of the Ten Commandments. He only broke the one about adultery and h wife knew about it. She put up with it because he was a good provider, but one day she went to a Gypsy and had a spell cast that ended up with his arrival in Heaven.

After he has a meeting with God, is shown around Heaven by his guide, Groucho Marx Eli’s first question is about dogs and cats and the answer is surprising. Eli has other meetings with, Freud, Jesus, Madelyn Murray O’Hare, Ayn Rand, and others to help him understand the reality that is Heaven and the purpose that God has planned for him.

Moffie has written an interesting and unusual book at the way of life on Earth today and what it may take to get us on the true path.

WOMEN OWN ALL THE VAGINAS, Why Men Do What They Do, Richard Nocera, Dick ‘N Jane Publishing, $19.95, ISBN: 9781449946067, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

There are innumerous comments that could be made about the title of this book. I’ll do my best not to go there as Nocera has written a serious book about his voyage of discovery of what has made him become the person he is now and the part the women in his life have played in his journey.

In “the Set-Up”, Nocera mentions that it has taken thousands of hours of therapy and thousands of dollars to come to the conclusions that are presented in this memoir. Nocera lists the various phases a male goes through to reach the finished product, a monogamous grown up male.

Nocera writes about the stages that range from vagina man, cool man, performance man, competitive man and others working their way up to fragile man, wounded man, conflicted man and ending up as whole man. He fills each stage with anecdotes about the stage and his development though it.

This is one of those books that might not normally make it onto your reading list, but it has a lot to say about men and why they turn out the way they do. It is written to help men understand themselves and it will also help women understand them.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Magick, Demons and Vampires

Kiss of Death
Rachel Caine
Signet, Apr 27 2020, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229731

Morganville, Texas was founded by vampires led by Amelia who sought a safe haven for her species from human hunters. The town is a melting pot of sorts but to keep mortals safe, each human resident has a vampiric Protector. Blood is dispensed at blood banks and no one is allowed to leave once you enter although Amelia has allowed one exception; Claire, Shane, Michael and Evie may go to Dallas so that the vampire Michael can record his music.

On their way, their guard and escort Oliver has them stop in Durrram where he and Michael conduct business while leaving Claire alone. However, Morley and his vampiric followers who oppose the Morganville rules hijack them. Michael and Oliver rescue the others, but they end up on the deserted town of Blacke. The Morley vampires attack, but something more feral assaults both sides as zombie vampires seek to dine on each of the combatants.

The eighth Morganville Vampire saga is different than most of the previous entries as the heroes are outside the town so obtain a taste where the local rules do not apply. Thus the audience sees a diverse species as vampires come in different types and philosophies especially re humans. A refreshing and totally entertaining tale, Kiss of Death is a super Texas fantasy as the Rachel Caine’s world of vampires expands to the delight of teen readers and us folks in the Twilight of our years. Harriet Klausner

The Desert Spear
Peter V. Brett
Del Rey, Apr 13 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345503817

Ahmann Jardir has united the Krasia desert tribes under his rule claiming he is the Shar’Dama Ka Deliverer who can destroy the night demons. He yields an ancient spear and wears a crown as old as his weapon as he leads his demon killing army towards the cities of the north.

Others also claim to be the legendary Shar’Dama Ka. In the north there is Arlen Bales although he insists he is not the Deliver, but the Warded Man; whose tattooed skin contains magical wards that devastate demonic opponents. These two charismatic leaders have arrived at critical juncture as humanity has all but lost the night to the demon hordes. Jardir and Arlen were brothers in arms, but are now opponents whose rivalry further divides the humans. Key supporters like Jardir’s ambitious psychic wife Inevera, Leesha the warding healer and Rojer the fiddler with the magical music struggle with who to support. This is a particular bad time to remain at odds as a new demonic breed has challenged the humans leaving those like Renna in dire straits.

The sequel to the Warded Man continues Jardir’s conquests though he seems heroic rather than brutal as he did in the first fantasy thanks in part to his Machiavellian wife coming across more villainous than him. Fast-paced and filled with tons of action as armies battle on the epic scale, The Desert Spear is an exhilarant saga even with romance including for the Wild Thing “as love is all around us, it’s everywhere we go” (the Troggs did have another hit). Readers will enjoy the second entry as the Deliver and the Warded Man are opponents at a time humanity cannot afford divertive internal strife. Harriet Klausner

The Long Man
Steve Englehart
Tor, Mar 16 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765317308

Max August would like to return to his simpler life as a DJ during the Reagan Era, but ever since he became the timeless Point Man mage sandwiched between the war of chaos and order, he knows he can never go back. Two plus decades later, still looking in his thirties and not his fifties, his friend Fern calls him on his iPhone; a voice he had not heard in six years. She needs his help.

Someone using powerful magick has assaulted researcher Dr. Pamela Blackwell. Her work on curing the zombie plague is looking promising. An unknown super cabal the Free Range Coalition has plans for global control and Blackwell’s work could br a major interference to their plans. When Max intervenes, the FRC sends hordes of killing zombies after the Timeless mortal.

Over the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, Juliana in Suriname and Mount Hillaby in the Barbados, the Long Man is en engaging thriller that is fun to read; just ignore credibility especially of the throwback comic book villains. Fast-paced as Max and Pam elude the enemy while also killing some along the way, readers will enjoy the return of the Point Man. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

A Magic of Dawn
S.L. Farrell
DAW, Apr 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756405977

By 563, Nessantico the once proud powerful Empire remains divided, but a renaissance of sorts has blossomed under its female ruler Kraljica Alessandra ca’Vorl, Fifteen years ago The brutal Tehuantin army invaded from Hellins, but were repelled. Alessandra managed to keep the Sun Throne as ordained in the capitol city of Nessantico, but the empire was fractured as the city-states were divided in support of her and in allegiance to her son Jan ca’Ostheim, leader of the rebellious Coalition of Firenzcia.

Mother and daughter have negotiated since the last horde invasion, but so far that has proven futile. The Concenzia Faith has arisen seeking its once glorious position of power; they face strong opposition from within led by Nico ce'Morel, who though defrocked three years ago, leads a powerful following who demand a strict fundamentalist reshaping of the Faith and from the secular ruler and her Garde Kralji, who reject religious influence. As violence between the groups increases, the Tehuantin have regrouped and deployed ready to invade again. If Alessandra and Jan fail to come together, Nessantico will crumble again by the invading horde; if they come together the empire has a chance, but the religious-secular schism may prove too internally divisive and enervating to overcome anyway.

The third Nessantico Cycle political-military fantasy (see A Magic of Twilight and A Magic of Nightfall) is a great finish to a strong saga. Fast-paced and loaded with action, the characters and their divided loyalties make the Farrell mythos seem real. Readers will enjoy the exciting finish in spite of a late spin that some will relish and others question as too simplifying. Newcomers would be better suited reading the previous magical tales first to better appreciate the world S.L. Farrell has constructed as it begins and ends with the city of Nessantico. Harriet Klausner

The Killing Room
John Manning
Pinnacle, May 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780786017997

For nine years and three hundred and sixty-four days, the Young Mansion in Maine is an ordinary home. The room that remains locked always is quiet except on the first day of a new decade. A sacrifice of a family member must be made so every ten years a lottery is held and the selected one is left inside the room.

This has been going on since 1930 with everyone who spent time in the room dead except for one survivor. Since the room is locked, the other family members assume the people commit suicide except for that one female who lived, but her mind was fried and spent four decades inside a padded cell. The patriarch Howard Young hires former FBI Agent Carolyn Cartwright who has dealt with supernatural cases to find a way to break the curse. Carolyn knows her first step is to learn what happened in 1930 in that room and the second step is to pray she and the Young family survive the truth.

Readers will thoroughly enjoy the locked room mystery inside a haunted house tale reminiscent of early King and Koontz. There is a steady growing tension as the answers to the cause percolates, but the solution seems to never boil to the surface. John Manning provides the audience with a chilling tale as the heroine knows there is only one way to learn the truth. Harriet Klausner

Blood Pressure
Terence Taylor
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 30 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312385262

In 2007 Christopher moves to New York seeking to find and meet his biological parents so he can finally understand why he is so different than the Ross family who raised him. In Manhattan, he meets performing art film documentary maker Joie. .They share a strange bond as each realizes the impact on their respective soul by otherworldly forces. However, they will soon learn that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts as together they possess incredible power that others want to use for their nefarious schemes.

The Federal funded covert ops Clean Slate Global learns of their joint skill and plans to use it as a super weapon to eradicate all vampires except for those who work for them. Christopher and Joie team up with her parents Lori and Steven, psychotherapist Dr Lazarus, and Prenelle the vampire top prevent the government from being the only group to possess vampires.

Two decades since Bite Marks occurred, the action picks up without missing a heartbeat due to a strong cast especially the heroes and the lead villain. Fast-paced throughout even with super looks back in time to late 1920s Cabaret Berlin and the Harlem Renaissance, fans will relish this motley crew of Davids and Davidettes fighting against Goliath as well as some rogue vampires. Blood Pressure is a one sitting thriller as the streets of Manhattan is draped in blood.
Harriet Klausner

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Book Reviews from Harriet

Harriet stays busy reading. Here are some more books reviews to share with you.

Alaya Johnson
Dunne, Mar 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312565473

In 1920s Manhattan, Zephyr Hollis is a rare human immune to vampires. The offspring of a demon hunter, she is a social activist who always makes time for the Family Action Committee for Nonhuman Laborers equal rights protests of City Hall (to the chagrin of Mayor Jimmy Walker) and teaches at a Lower East Side night school for underprivileged paranormal.

Considered a softhearted liberal, Zephyr is surprised when her student Amir the djinn suggest she kill vampire mobster Rinaldo. However, Amir never explains why Rinaldo must die, but she agrees as she can use the money he offers. Zephyr turns to the ruthless Turn Boys for insider trading information even as her hunting father prepares to kill them and the bloodsuckers high on a new customized street drug try to dine on her.

Moonshine is a fabulous urban historical fantasy that will have readers believing in a paranormal 1920s New York City though Gentleman Jimmy is probably turning over in his grave. The amusing story line never takes it self seriously even when blood (not always red) flows. Although the city (and somewhat story line) is inundated by the horde of supernatural species, fans will enjoy the Roaring Twenties Manhattan adventures of the Vampire Suffragette. Harriet Klausner

The Devil's Playground
Jenna Black
Dell, Mar 23 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440244943

Exorcist Morgan Kingsley knows not to be complacent as no one has tried to killer in several months. However, because no one has made an attempt does not mean she should ignore her paranoia. Besides her boyfriend, Brian has issues with her sharing her human body with demon king Lugh.

Meanwhile Lugh ironically may be inside an exorcist, but has not sat back idly. Instead on the Mortal Plain, Lugh has established a royal council. They have evidence that Lugh’s traitorous brother Dougal has set in motion in Philadelphia at the Seven Deadlies demonic nightclub the openings salvo of another fratricide assassination attempt in order to take over as the ruler of all demons. Lugh knows he has no choice but to kill his brother or be killed while his hostess body jumps head first into the fray.

Trust is the key to the latest superb Kingsley urban fantasy as the heroine distrusts everyone except to e a degree Brian and she has no choice with Lugh. The monarch has to rely on the obstinate Morgan to do the right thing for both of them. With betrayal everywhere, Kingsley and Lugh know no one has their back to the delight of fans of this excellent saga as the overarching devilish theme moves forward (except when the heroine pukes in a toilet due to control shifts) to the anticipated war of the brothers. Harriet Klausner

Destiny's Star
Elizabeth Vaughan
Berkley, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425234679

Ezren Silvertongue the Storyteller knows he owes his life to take charge warrior Lady Bethral, who fell from the sky only to save him from certain death. He also knows he loves her, but conceals his feelings from his lady as he believes he is undeserving of his warrior; partly because he cannot control the wild magic that flows within him.

When the wild magic explodes, Bethral makes Ezren, accompanied by her relocation magic travel to the isolated plains. However, the Warrior-Priests attack the pair with plans to sacrifice Storyteller and regain the wild magic. However, Bethral and some local warriors defend Ezren to insure evil practitioners do not obtain his magic.

Fans of Elizabeth Vaughan will relish Destiny’s Star as the author deftly combines her two fantasy sagas by having support Star players fight for their lives on the plains of the Warlands. The lead pair shows they can be stars of their own tale even if it is in another land as the kick butt female warrior and the mage carrier fall in love while helping the Plains’ people. Fans will relish this strong romantic quest fantasy as the action never slows down while the Plains come alive with ironically death in the aptly titled Destiny’s Star. Harriet Klausner

Shoot to Thrill
P.J. Tracy
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780399155208

Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi are sent to a decrepit section of the Mississippi where they see the body of a dead floater dressed in a bridal outfit. They later learn the homicide of the drag queen in a wedding dress was filmed for the Internet crowd.

FBI cyber crime special agent John Smith joins the Minneapolis PD inquiry into the bride murder and other similar filmed horrifying deaths. He also enlists the aid of the Monkeewrench computer gurus (Harley Davidson, Grace MacBride, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) who have helped law enforcement before including donating special software applications. While the Minneapolis detectives follow more typical procedures, the Monkeewrench crew works on a program to delineate real web-based murder from acting. As more homicides occur in other cities but linked to the bridal murder, no progress is made until a victim in Medford, Oregon survives.

This is a superb police procedural that fans of the Monkeewrench crew will fully appreciate while newcomers will be hooked immediately by the likable team and seek out previous thrillers (see Dead Run and Snow Blind). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the two Minneapolis cops begin to investigate the bridal drag queen floater case and never takes a respite as the Feds and their computer “consultants” make inquiries into live Internet serial killing from other cities. Shoot to Thrill is a fabulous entry in a consistently strong series. Harriet Klausner

The Skorpian Directive
David Stone
Putnam, Apr 29 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156328

CIA “cleaner” Micah Dalton is in Vienna meeting with former-Mossad field operative Issadore Galan when he feels something is not right. Used to cleaning up the mess of failed operations, he fears he will need a cleaner too, as he quickly realizes that he is under surveillance by unknown assumed to be hostile enemies. Not one to sit back and wait, Micah catches one of them, Veronika Miklas.

After sex, he flees with her accompanying him following a failed assault on him. Someone wants Micah dead, but he is unsure why; especially since his CIA contacts and handlers are part of the death squad pursuers. He turns to his alcoholic psychopathic friend Ray Fyke to insure he has his back covered. As the trio travels to the Balkans, the former KGB assassins, an American top secret agency, other espionage groups, and Smoke the Serbian killer follow with death to the threesome as their mantra.

The latest Cleaner espionage thriller (see The Venetian Judgment, The Echelon Vendetta and The Orpheus Deception) is a great conspiratorial story line filed with action, action and more action. The cast is especially powerful including the enigmatic killing machine Smoke while the locales enhance the exciting plot. Genre fans will enjoy The Skorpian Directive as someone high up has decided to clean the cleaner. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Paranormal Reviews

Ancient Whispers
Marie-Claude Bourque
Love Spell, Jun 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528339

On their wedding day in 1755 in Acadie, Gabriel and Evangeline were separated by death when the Anglais raiders attack and destroy the village of Grand Pre. Heartbroken yet not giving up hope to find his soul mate, Gabriel asks for help from the sorceress Morag Callan. She agrees to assist him finding the love of his life in exchange for his becoming a Priory of Callan member.

Over two hundred and fifty years later in Providence, Morag informs Gabriel she has succeeded on his boon. He must persuade his Evangeline, who has been reincarnated as Lily Bellefontaine, that they belong together. Lily is attracted to Gabriel, but he does not fit in her life’s plan. Pragmatic, she agrees to a weekend with him, but afterward plans to return to her normal life. However an odious mage and nightmares will not allow her to move on making Gabriel only a memory.

This is an enjoyable romantic fantasy starring a strong female lead, a desperate male praying for a second chance at love, and a powerful support cast to include Providence and to a lesser degree Grand Pre. Readers will relish this enjoyable tale as love is tested by reincarnation and a malevolent mage. Harriet Klausner

No Werewolves Allowed
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin’s, May 25 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312946425

The ancient Alpha werewolf Dmitri Kral Beketov informs hybrid Drow-human Nightracker Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia that someone is abducting and killing his pack members. He wants to hire the paranormal crimes private investigative pair to find out who is the culprit that leaves no clues behind; not even olfactory.

The stakes rise when the culprit kidnaps several werewolf pups. The two sleuths are assisted by other Night Trackers and NYPD detective Adam Boyd, who not just has Nyx’s back but wants her on her back, scour the woods for the malevolence. Nyx soon realizes the vile motive and who the evil one is, but to end this reign of terror could cost her and her partner their lives.

The second Night Tracker urban fantasy whodunit (see Demons Not Included) is a terrific paranormal investigative novel told by the hard-ass Nyx. Fast-paced with a strong twist, the New York City Underworld seems genuine while evolving with Were, Vamps, Demons, and assorted other ilk traipsing the cement canyons. Cheyenne McCray continues to provide strong tales (see the author’s magic saga) to the deserved accolades of her sub-genre fans. Harriet Klausner

Strange Neighbors
Ashlyn Chase
Sourcebooks, Jun 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402236617

Former Rhode Island resident Merry Mackenzie works as a nurse at Boston General Hospital. She rents an apartment from baseball superstar pitcher Jason Falco; whom she never heard of but her brother and dad think he is great with his blazing fastball. She is attracted to her new landlord almost as much as she is euphoric that Chad the ghost allegedly resides in the historic Back Bay home since the Beatles were on Ed Sullivan. Jason calls his mom back in Minnesota to lament that he has struck out on his first at bat with beautiful Merry

Merry soon finds her unconventional borders are not just eccentric. They include two witches running a phone sex business; several shape-shifters, and a vampire. However, the most frightening paranormal is reporter Lila Crum, who plans on Jason being her double play partner. Jason's kind snooping aunt has chosen his partner for him, but he and his new renter go on a merry chase of love.

This is an amusing at times heated but always heartfelt paranormal romance. Jason’s baseball asides and Merry’s caring for others while knowing noting about sports are enhanced by Chad’s “colorful” commentary. The support cast is solid especially her family and Chad’s neighbors. Fans will enjoy this humorous lighthearted romp as the baseball pitcher swings the bat and hits a home run with a woman who never knew his strike zone until they met. Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reviews from Harriet

Lion's Heat
Lora Leigh
Berkley, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425233801

Director of the Bureau of Breed Affairs Lion Breed Jonas Wyatt knows the only person who could bring him to his knees is his assistant, Rachel Broen. He realizes she is his mate, but refuses to act upon his need as she deserves better than him. Still he wishes he was the father of Rachel’s baby daughter Amber instead of Devon, but is satisfied that the baby recognized his voice when she was still in the womb.

Philip Brandenmore of Brandenmore research kidnaps Amber as he plans to experiment on the infant to foster his goal of using Breeds to slow down aging in purebreds. Jonas rescues the baby, but not before she is injected with some unknown elixir. A raging Jonas, who believes in his soul that Amber is his child, goes berserk with plans of vengeance. However, keeping Amber safe comes first, so he moves his soulmate and “his” daughter into the Breed Sanctuary where he relocates to keep the two females he loves safe.

This is a great entry in the Breeds saga as readers get what we waited for as Jonas no longer can deny his feelings. The key to finally force him to accept the inevitable is not his kick-butt tiny mate, but her daughter; sired by someone else. With a major leap forward in the overarching series as well, fans fully appreciate Jonas turn to accept his mate, but will he also go against what is known of Breed and accept Amber too. Harriet Klausner

Jessica Anderson
Signet, Apr 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451229571

With a little more than two and a half years to zero date, the clock is ticking down to 12/21/12 when the Mayans predicted that demons will rise to destroy the earth. The only hope to prevent the demonic global meltdown resides with the Nightkeepers warriors who must find their mates to fulfill their magical potential while the Order of Xibalta have other plans to prevent their endeavors.

In Austin, Lucius still feels remorse for being possessed by an evil Makol that has since been exorcised from his body, but not his mental state. He obsesses over atoning for his failures by channeling the Prophet's magic, but is incomplete without sex magic.

Nightkeeper Jade wants to do more than just be a combat support person, but her clan only provides secondary services. Jade and Lucius are attracted to one another so she decides they both can get what they want through a sexual binding. However, as each denies their love while their attraction grows, their King orders them to hook up and to rescue the sun god from their enemy.

The latest Final Prophesy urban romantic fantasy (see Nightkeepers, Dawnkeepers and Skykeepers) is a fabulous entry that moves forward the overarching countdown while also providing a strong story line. The lead couple makes the plot work as each has powerful ambitions that could be achieved if they would embrace their attraction as being more than just sexual desire. Their “Not in Love” refrains while going to the Underworld to rescue the Mayan deity will have the audience appreciating the skills of master magician Jessica Andersen. Harriet Klausner

Shadows in the Cave
Caleb Fox
Tor, Mar 2 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765319937

Galayi Tribal War Chief Shonan has banned the use of magic especially by his family ever since the events that shook him and his tribe several years ago (see Zadayi Red). Although he honors the Gods and knows his wife Meli has the power of shapeshifting and her grandmother is a seer who lately seems to talk to herself or some spirit no one else sees, he prefers earthly pragmatism over the mystical. Their oldest children are twin twelve years old, Aku and Salya. A male Aku has the maternal paranormal skill of shapeshifting that he yearns to use, but fears disobeying his father while his female twin ironically cannot.

Unable to resist Aku practices shifting by himself. However, as he begins to become proficient, the Brown Leaf People violently attack the Galayi’s five villages. Shonan and Salya are dispatched to the underworld Darkening Land while his sibling’s body is owned by a monster. There only hope to return to the living is Aku; who must find himself if he is to save his family members.

This is a superb coming of age Cherokee quest fantasy that grips the reader the moment the Brown Leaf tribe attacks. The story line focuses on the young hero whose reflective doubts are his biggest impediments to saving his twin and their father. Fans preferring some action intermingled with major moments of meditative pensiveness will enjoy Aku’s journey into his mind, heart and soul as he traverses the Shadows in the Cave of the Darkening Land. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Romantic Fantasy and a Thriller

What A Demon Wants
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava, Feb 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758231956

In New Orleans, Ellina Kostova's older brother Maksin (see demon Can’t Help It) explains to her he hired a bodyguard to protect her. She asks her sibling why would a demon, actually a half-demon, like her need a bodyguard though she has a résumé filled with violent encounters. He responds with to keep her safe from her unknown stalker.

Wannabe writer half breed vampire werewolf Jude Anthony moves into Ellina’s home to her jubilee as he is a hunk. They are attracted to one another, but her reaction is humiliating as horns and scales appear on her body; he simply ignores his wants as she is a client not a sex partner. As each dances around their desire, the stalker turns dangerous.

This is an entertaining romantic suspense urban fantasy starring two likeable individuals. The story line is fast-paced throughout although the romance supersedes the suspense and urban fantasy elements. Still readers will enjoy Kathy Love’s fine tale and hope for more in the same setting with a deeper profound look into the emotional state of former mortals turned immortals while those whom you loved turned to dust centuries ago. Harriet Klausner

The Moonlit Earth
Christopher Rice
Scribner, Apr 2010, $25.00
ISBN: 9780743294072

Following her being fired from her position as head of the Siegel Foundation, a Northern California not for profit firm facing bankruptcy, due to her radical methods, thirty year old Megan Reynolds returns to her mother’s home in Cathedral Beach near San Diego. Megan is disappointed as she tried to so hard to reach the homeless kids wandering the mean streets.

In Hong Kong, a terrorist attack leaves sixty dead. The FBI believes Megan’s flight attendant brother Cameron in conjunction with apparently his gay lover from the middle East Majed committed the atrocities. Megan vows to prove her naive but kind-hearted sibling would never harm anyone and starts a dangerous journey to prove she is right beginning with finding Cameron who vanished without a trace.

This is an excellent thriller that plays out on two levels: the international terrorism and the personal terror. The key is Megan who has faith in her sibling that he would not do these atrocities; she holds the fast-paced complicated plot together as she searches for her brother and the truth, praying her assertion is the truth. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating tale of a good caring person traveling a part of Asia that middle class American civilians avoid. Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nebula Winners

SFWA announces 2010 Nebula Awards winners

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Inc., has announced the Nebula Awards® winners for 2009.

The Nebula Awards® are voted on, and presented by, active members of SFWA. The awards were announced at the Nebula Awards® Banquet held at the Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront the evening of May 15.

The Windup Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade Books, Sept. 2009)

The Women of Nell Gwynne’s – Kage Baker (Subterranean Press, June 2009)

“Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast,”
Eugie Foster (Interzone, Feb. 2009)

Short Story
“Spar,” Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld, Oct. 2009)

Ray Bradbury Award
District 9, Neill Blomkamp and Terri Tatchell (Tri-Star, Aug. 2009)

Andre Norton Award

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making,
Catherynne M. Valente (Catherynne M. Valente, June 2009)

Additional Honors
During the ceremonies, Joe Haldeman was honored as the next Damon Knight Grand Master, while Neal Barrett, Jr., was honored as Author Emeritus. Vonda N. McIntyre and Keith Stokes were honored with SFWA Service Awards while the SFWA Solstice Award, bestowed upon individuals who have made a significant impact on the science fiction or fantasy landscape, was presented to Tom Doherty, Terri Windling and the late Donald A. Wollheim.

About SFWA
Founded in 1965 by the late Damon Knight, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America brings together the most successful and daring writers of speculative fiction throughout the world.

Since its inception, SFWA® has grown in numbers and influence until it is now widely recognized as one of the most effective non-profit writers’ organizations in existence, boasting a membership of approximately 1,500 science fiction and fantasy writers as well as artists, editors and allied professionals. Each year the organization presents the prestigious Nebula Awards® for the year’s best literary and dramatic works of speculative fiction.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Vampire Tale & A Historical Romance

Sarah McCarty
Berkley, Apr 2010
ISBN: 9780425232408

Jared Johnson smells a weak vampire female trapped by two Sanctuary male vampires on Renegade land. He thinks of the vampire civil war six months old as Sanctuary tries to find female breeders. Jared ignores the woman and kills both males. She is upset with him for not showing them mercy. As Jared and Raisa Slovenski argue, they flee enemy vampires. He finds her blood that she needs, but she says no as the human couple are a good pair; he wonders how she survived alone.

They reach the D’Nally werewolf ranch where the weres are attracted to Raisa. The alpha Ian asks why she is so weak and offers her blood; she says it is wrong and rejects his offer. She faints and is dying from a lack of blood. Jared offers his blood and she says this is right and takes some. For the first in her three centuries as a vampire she does not have an allergic reaction to blood. Jared tells her she is his “Sunbeam”. She says she liked being turned while he hated it. Her cousin brought her to America to work as a whore; but she refused so was beaten to near death before the conversion. He says some bitch converted his brother who changed him. As they fall in love with the enemy in pursuit, their respective nineteenth century pasts interfere with their current lives.

The lead couple is a super pairing and the support cast is extremely well drawn. The story line is fun to follow as the lead couple fall in love while dodging the enemy and each other with a great twist re their relationship. Although a bit more back story on the Shadow Wranglers vampire schism would help newcomers in understanding, rural romantic fantasy fans will fully relish Jared’s tale and seek out his brother, Caleb’s entry. Harriet Klausner

Of Midnight Born
Lisa Cach
Lovespell, March 2010, $7.99

Woden goes camping with his country cousin Rhys near Le Gayne Fortress. Rhys entertains his young relative with stories about the ghost haunting the nearby castle. That night while Rhys sleeps, Alex sees shooting stars in the clear sky followed by a beautiful spirit trying to reach out to him.

Over two decades later Alex returns to the fortress to observe the path of the shooting stars. The ghost he saw when he was a ten-year-old child returns. Soon the specter Serena Clerenbold knows love. She risks her existence to reach out to Alex who also has fallen for the five hundred-year-old apparition that allegedly killed her spouse on their wedding night. As everyone who cares about Alex worries that he is losing his mind, he and Serena risk all for a love that crosses time and planes struggling to find an existence.

OF MIDNIGHT BORN is a powerfully passionate otherworldly historical romance that will thrill fans of the sub-genre. Though the story line turns extremely somber at times, Lisa Cach defuses the moments with well placed humor. Alex is a great lead character, typical of the late Regency hero in novels, as he struggles with seductive dreams battling his belief that love hurts. However, the plot belongs to the independent and brave Serena who willingly jeopardizes her essence for love.
Harriet Klausner


Jonathan Kellerman
Ballantine, Apr 2010, $28.00
ISBN: 9780345505675

Windsor Preparatory Academy teacher Elise Freeman is found dead in her apartment in Studio City. The victim is found lying in a tub of dry ice. Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Weinberg assigns the homicide investigation to Lieutenant Milo Sturgis with a stern warning to keep the exclusive Brentwood school out of the inquiry as much as possible though he offers no explanation; veteran cop Milo is used to personal agenda restrictions from superiors.

Milo is concerned with his boss’ admonition because Elise left behind a DVD accusing three of her peers of sexual harassment. He believes the case must start with them. Psychologist Alex Delaware assists Milo on the case and soon the pair find a teacher with plenty of skeletons that those involved with her want to remain interred. However, one of them has killed before and is willing to kill again to keep the bones buried.

As always in this remarkable police procedural, the lead pair of Milo and Alex make for a fine story line as they debate the merits of the case and much more. The investigation is totally hampered by Chief Weinberg placing a major stipulation on Detective Sturgis; this adds depth and a sense of realism to the whodunit. Fans of the long running series will enjoy Deception as the investigators seek Evidence while walking the tightrope of brass interference. Harriet Klausner

The Burning Lamp
Amanda Quick
Putnam, Apr 20 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156465

In the late seventeenth century alchemist Nicholas Winters developed the Burning Lamp to enhance his arcane skills, but the cost was an insanity curse to his descendents. Only a woman of special power, a dreamlight reader, can work the artifact and prevent the descent into insanity. His enemy Sylvester Jones formed the Arcane Society to police practitioners and remain vigilant in watching the Winters’ brood.

In the late Victorian Era, recently orphaned fifteen years old Adelaide Pyne is sold to a brothel. Her first customer Mr. Smith shows her a special lamp with it’s’ power not activated. Smith uses a crystal to kill the brothel owner, but Adelaide shocks him with her dreamlight skill when she puts him to sleep. Although unsure why, she runs away with the lamp and his money.

Thirteen years later, London Director of the Consortium crime lord Griffin Winters seeks a social reformer who has raided brothels though he does not own whorehouses. He needs this woman and the Burning Lamp to prevent his descent into insanity. He arranges through a mutual acquaintance to meet the Widow. She recognizes he uses shadow magic to conceal himself, but he is excited when she easily spots him. Griffin explains he needs her to prevent his fall into insanity. She mentions possessing the Burning Lamp which was stolen from his parents the night they were murdered. They are attracted to each other and she agrees to help him. However Smith abetted by crime lord Luttrell is coming for her and the lamp.

This exhilarating Arcane Society Victorian romantic fantasy moves forward the overarching theme of the Dreamlight trilogy (see Fired Up) but easily stands alone. The lead couple is an interesting pairing of a crime lord and a social reformer although he never displays criminal activity; while Jones and Jones play support roles. Although the two villains never quite live up to reader anticipation, fans will relish this superb thriller. Harriet Klausner

Lucid Intervals
Stuart Woods
Putnam, Apr 20 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156441

Lawyer Stone Barrington and his former partner when he worked for NYPD Dino Bachetti are at Elaine’s when Herbie “the loser” Fisher enters carrying an attache case. He rushes over to Stone hiring him on the spot to be available when he needs an attorney. Stone and Dino knows something is bt off in the universe when Herbie pays Stone $1 million as a retainer. Herbie explains he won several with the lucky lotto, but the lawyer and the cop are skeptical.

Soon afterward British intelligence officer Felicity Devonshire retains Stone to find vanished former operative Stanley Whitestone, who disappeared a dozen years ago, but remains a person of interest by his former agency. Apparently, he was seen in New York recently. Jim Hackett, owner of a large private security firm, also employs Stone, who believes there is a reasonable chance he is Whitestone. Like a bad penny, then there is Stone’s crazy ex-wife Dolce Bianci causing havoc in his life.

This is an entertaining Barrington thriller that is filled with action and increasingly peril for the hero, but also somewhat tempered smoothly like good bourbon with jocularity. The two cases are fun and Dolcie brings her usual insanity to the mix as she is Loitering with Intent. As expected even the British spy joins the great Kisser for some boudoir activity as Stuart Woods provides an enjoyable blending of babes, bourbon and sleuthing in his latest Barrington tale.
Harriet Klausner

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

Murderous Procession
Ariana Franklin
Putnam, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN 9780399156281

In 1176, King Henry II of England orders his most trusted friend and adviser, his Mistress of the Art of Death, Dr. Adelia Aguilar to escort his ten year old daughter Joanna to Sicily where she will marry her second cousin King William. Adelia knows the area quite well having studied medicine in Salerno, Italy.

The trek proves dangerous as there are several assassins who want to strike at King Henry by killing his daughter and by one insidious killer Scarry, who wants Adelia dead. Some members of the wedding party are murdered as they journey across the continent. However though seeking the killers, Adelia never loses sight that keeping Princess Joanna safe is all that counts.

The fourth Mistress of the Art of Death historical mystery (see Grave Goods) is an entertaining tale based on the real wedding journey of Princess Joan. The deadly trek hooks the audience although the historical aspects overwhelm the whodunit. Still readers who enjoy a late twelve century tale will want to join Adelia, Joanna and their companions on they travel from England to Sicily. Harriet Klausner

Hell Gate
Linda Fairstein
Dutton, Mar 9 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780525951612

A Ukrainian ship carrying human cargo to New York sinks near Rockaway Beach in Queens. Many die with the few survivors talking in their native tongue about abuse and brutality. Thirty women were part of the cargo to be employed in the lucrative sex trade; however one of the females died before she fell into the icy water. New York County Sex Crimes Office ADA Alexandra Cooper is at the scene shocked by the inhuman behavior and vows to find out who killed this Jane Doe.

Married Manhattan Congressman Ethan Leighton flees the scene of a car accident that he caused being under the influence at the about the same time his lover Mexican immigrant Salma Zunega calls 911 to report his threatening her. Soon afterward she and their child Ana vanish. Mayor Vin Statler demands resolution, but not expected it to occur at Gracie Mansion nor the snakehead rose tattoo tying the cases together.

The latest Cooper thriller is a terrific entry (see Lethal Legacy) that hooks the audience immediately and never misses a beat though there is even more going on than the two prime subplots. Fast-paced throughout, fans will appreciate Hell’s Gate as Linda Fairstein provides a deep look at human trafficking in which pure capitalism rules over basic commonly accepted rights with the United States as a major economic partner in spite of solid law enforcement efforts to prevent it.
Harriet Klausner

Tooth And Claw
Nigel McCrery
Pantheon, Feb 23 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780307377029

In England, Detective Chief Inspector Mark Lapslie finds his synesthesia worsening so he has special compensation to work from his house; sound is the sense that gives him his most difficult challenges as often he nauseatingly tastes noise although he is beginning to hear smells making noises. His wife and child left him even before his olfactory sense changed as he is impossible to live with due to his condition. His sometimes partner Sergeant Emma Bradbury arrives at his house to take Lapslie to the Essex home of TV newscaster Catherine Charnaud, a torture murder victim who was horribly skinned alive. Before arriving Emma gives Mark headphones to keep noise away from him.

Meanwhile psychopath Carl Whittley continues to experiment with explosive devices while constantly fighting with his profiler mom and watching his dad remain bedridden. He is riding high since he skinned Catherine. He plans even more gruesome homicides.

Rotating perspective between a psychopath and a cop with synthesia, Nigel McCrery provides an intriguing English police procedural psychological suspense. Lapslie’s sensual issues along with Whitley’s obsessive compulsive behavior deadly impulses overwhelm the investigation. Readers who relish a psychological comparative study of a cop and a killer adjusting to their respective worlds will want to read Tooth and Claw and its predecessor Still Waters; as for those who prefer a more typical British police procedural needs to pass as the lead duo supersede the case.
Harriet Klausner

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Harriet Returns

The Executor
Jesse Kellerman
Putnam, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156472

Harvard University kicks out thirty year old graduate student Joseph Geist for slacking; the philosophy major was doing none of his class work. Reeling from that blow though he knows he is at fault, Joseph takes a second shot to the gut when his girlfriend ends their longtime relationship.

Needing gainful employment that does not require work, he answers a personal ad in the Harvard Crimson. Elderly Austrian expatriate Alma Spielmann seeks a meaningful conversationalist to discuss and argue issues. He answers the call and is hired. They become more than just employer-employee as the pair becomes friends. She invites him to move into her Cambridge house for free room and board; he accepts her offer. However, Alma’s nasty nephew Eric resents the non-family freeloader though ironically he depends on his aunt’s generosity for his finance and he occasionally visits her to see if the old hag’s health is failing.

This is a superb psychological suspense thriller that grips the audience once the triangle is set as fans of Jesse Kellerman anticipate something bad is going to happen but wonder to whom. The three key players come across as real with Joseph caring for his employer and Alma for her employee with angry Eric stirring the mix. Jesse Kellerman is at the author’s best with this strong character driven thriller that will readers wondering throughout who if any will be left standing.
Harriet Klausner

Nowhere To Run
C.J. Box,
Putnam, Apr. 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156458

Wyoming Game Warden Joe Picket investigates a hunting complaint in a remote section where a female runner vanished years ago. Entering the woods, Joe feels a creeping sensation up and down his spine that someone is stalking him.

However, paranoia can prove genuine when someone ambushes Joe. He barely escapes from the woods. Joe reports that survivalists and a female attacked him. His account leads to a media frenzy as a runner’s parents pray their daughter is alive as this is the first time they can hope and a horde of rent a soldiers arrive to free the woman from the survivalists.

Nowhere to Run is an exhilarating Picket thriller that grips the audience once Joe knows he has a stalker tracking him and never slows down until the final climatic denouement. This thriller is fast-paced throughout with terrific twists that hook fans even deeper into the story line. Like Joe, fans will wonder when is government too intrusive yet when must the government intrude on the lives of competent individuals making rational but outside the box choices that places no one else in harm. Harriet Klausner

Witch in Time
Madelyn Alt
Berkley, Apr 2010, $23.95
ISBN: 9780425232613

Over the last nine months in Stony Mill, Indiana, the sensitives feel a chaotic energy surge sweeping the town and leading to murder and mayhem. The witches and the sensitives are friends so arrange a coalition led by Liss the witch who has deliberately developed her powers and encourages her co-worker Maggie O'Neill to do so too as she is a strong empath.

Maggie gets involved in the chaotic energy when she goes to the hospital with her boyfriend Marcus Quinn to see her sister Mel giving birth. The spirits follow Maggie into an elevator where she overhears a conversation that implies someone’s death. A few days earlier student Jordan Everett died from an enlarged heart caused by steroid use. Not understanding what the spirits are telling her, Maggie remains with Mel overnight. She overhears an argument between a woman who just gave birth and a man who is not her husband. Her sister’s husband vanishes while Maggie believes Jordan’s death is linked to another death a few days after her sister gave birth to twins. Now she has to prove her assertion with evidence beyond witchery and intuition.

Madelyn Alt’s paranormal amateur sleuth mysteries are always fantastic fun. With a good deal of sensual feelings exchanged between the heroine and her significant other, A Witch In Time has cross genre appeal to romance readers too. Maggie works the case with the spirits trying to tell her the solution, but they are too cryptic, which both frustrates and motivates her. Readers will enjoy this refreshing tale in an original series as learning who the culprit is from those beyond will not hold up in court. Harriet Klausner

News Release

News Release

“Run!” he screamed. “It’s still alive!!”

Yes, Tulsa author Michael Vance is still alive and writing, and has signed with Cornerstone Book Publishers and Airship 27 for publication of the second of three novels, “Weird Horror Tales: The Feasting”. His second braided novel of fifteen interrelated horror, SF, and fantasy stories was also written in the style and tradition of pulp magazines in the ‘20s, ‘30s, and ‘40s, and will be released in the fall of 2010.

"The first volume of this collection was simply the unnerving appetizer. Vance and Geier now offer up the main course and it's a terror filled delight!” said Ron Fortier, editor of “The Feasting”.

“My stories are founded on the premise that there is something larger than our narrow view of reality,” said Vance. “Each interconnected story shares setting, history, prominent families, and a macro plot. The stories also focus on the Azrealites, a religious cult that works tirelessly to reinstate that ‘Other’ on Earth through science and the occult.”

These stories about the fictional town of “Light's End” in Maine have been published in dozens of magazines in three countries. Vance’s influences on these stories are H. P. Lovecraft, William Faulkner, and Ray Bradbury.

The cover was done by France’s Christophe Dessaigne, a journalist, scenarist for role playing games, and photographer. Mainly influenced by the science fiction, horror, and fantastic genres, his atmospheric, surreal creations combine digital photography and manipulation in a dark and post-apocalyptic future.

The interior illustrations are by artist Earl Geier, best known for his horror, fantasy and science fiction artwork. In the role playing game industry, his work includes art for “Battletech”, “Call of Cthulhu”, and many others. He has illustrated books for “Cemetery Dance” magazine, Chaosium, Gryphon and Subterranean Press. For comic book, he's had work published by Dark Horse Comics, Comiczone, Now, Innovation and DC Comics Paradox.

Vance has written for national and international magazines, and as a syndicated columnist and cartoonist in over 500 newspapers. His history book, “Forbidden Adventures”, has been called a "benchmark in comics history”. He briefly ghosted an internationally syndicated comic strip, wrote his own strip and several comic books. He is listed in the Who's Who of American Comic Books and Comic Book Superstars.

The publisher of “The Feasting” and “Weird Horror Tales”, Cornerstone Book Publishers also publishes Masonic and esoteric books, selected pulp fiction, art literature, limited childrens books, and poetry collections. The braided novel, “Weird Horror Tales, is available on-line, at book stores, and from Cornerstone. For more information about Cornerstone, go to

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

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

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Frank Frazetta Dies

I haven't been able to access my email for a couple of days and have just learned of the death of Frank Frazetta, the greatest fantasy artist of all time.

His drawings of Conan and Tarzan filled my teen years with delight and helped sell a lot of books as well.

Although we never met in person, we corresponded for a while in the 70s. Our last correspondence was a note from Ellie, his wife a few years back.

There will never be another one like him. With his passing, another portion of my youth has slipped away.

News from Scott Nicholson

Hi, just wanted to let you know about my new novel DRUMMER BOY, a supernatural thriller. When three boys hear a whisper in a Blue Ridge Mountain cave, they believe the legend of "The Jangling Hole" is real...and on the eve of a Civil War re-enactment, dark spirits are roused from a long slumber. And one misfit kid is all that stands between the town and a battle that never ends...

We're holding an Internet flash mob between 3-4 pm EST 5/11/2010, encouraging people to click on (or buy) the book at Amazon--

Because rankings are adjusted hourly, a flurry of activity could push it up the charts, so it's an interesting social experiment, even if you don't want to buy the book. The push is primarily for Kindle ebooks, but it's also available in multiple formats through Smashwords, the iPad, and all the usual outlets (though it's not available for Nook yet). You can also get signed copies (cheaper than Amazon) through the book's page at

This novel is based on my experiences as a Civil War re-enactor, though it's very much a modern tale in the vein of The Red Church. In fact, it features Sheriff Littlefield from that book. If you join the flash mob and click on the book, let me know and I will send a short story of your choice: DEAD CATS AND RAIN, a literary story that really happened, or DEAD INK, a zombie story that hasn't happened yet!

Thanks for all your support--we also have some comics out at Haunted Computer. Even if you're not into Drummer Boy, drop me a line and let me know what you're up to, so we can stay connected.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Couple of Interesting Titles

Finally had time to get in a couple of reviews.


CHRONOS, Tom Ciolli, Robertson Publishing, $13.25, 188 pages, ISBN: 9781935125693, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

It is 2132 and man has expanded his reach into space. They are now so far from Earth that they must supply their needs without any assistance. Weapons range from twentieth century rifles and grenades to technological wonders. The group of Commandos known as the Wolverines must work together to survive where survival is not guaranteed.

Zach Murphy and his team are assigned the job of liberating the people of Chronos which has been taken over by the Syndicate. Chronos is valuable to the Syndicate because of the abundance of rare minerals and an alien race called the Amalthea, about which very little is known.

Ciolli has written a rip roaring, action packed novel that shows how a well oiled military squad can overcome obstacles that would cause others to turn tail and run. It is also a novel of how one small planet can make a large impact on the balance of power.

This is his first novel, but I expect to see more from him in the future. If you like the HAMMERS SLAMMERS stories from David Drake, CHRONOS will be a welcomed addition to your reading list.

RAIJU, A Kaiju Hunter novel, K. H. Koehler, Tokusatsu Press, $11.99, 162 pages, ISBN: 9780982676103, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

It’s hard enough to have to move into a new area and start making friends, but Kevin Takahashi has an extra burden to bear. He and his father have come to New York after San Francisco is destroyed by a kaiju.

A kaiju is an ancient demonic god-beast that has been appearing more and more often around the world. Think Gojira to the nth degree and always in a bad mood.

Kevin’s problems start when he meets Aimi Mura, the hot goth chick whose boyfriend is the resident badass. Kevin also learns that he is a Keeper – a wizard that can call up RAIJU, the oldest of the god-beasts know as the Kami.

A new menace called Qulin is out to destroy New York and it is up to Kevin to stop it and save the girl he loves, but there are complications with her father, her friends and to overcome Qulin, he must discover who Qulin’s keeper is.

This is an interesting book that uses well known mythology in order to tell a solid, well written tale. I hope there are more adventures to come. There is plenty of action as well as a look at the problems of high school as well.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Free ebook on Writing

What do 18 bestselling and award-winning writers have in common, besides selling millions of books? They are sharing their tips and ideas for free! Download your free writing manual in PDF or ebook formats at or

Please pass these links along to your writing groups and friends, post on your blog, Twitter, etc. I hope the advice helps you--some of it is unconventional!

Scott Nicholson

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Couple ofInteresting Titles

Eight Days to Live
Iris Johansen
St. Martin’s, Apr 20 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780312368159

Found all around the world, the cult worships Judas Iscariot, who they believe was God’s Chosen One to betray Jesus in order to fulfill a biblical prophecy. The members know for certain that Judas is in Heaven sitting next to God. They meet annually on April 1 to provide a human sacrificial blood offer in Judas’ name.

Jane McGuire is having an art show of her work at the Denarve Gallery in Paris. Someone wants to spend a fortune on “Guilt”, a picture of a man whose face is tortured by internal demons. The Judas followers believe Jane committed blasphemy with her painting; so they decide she shall be this year’s sacrifice. The picture came to her in dreams, but the cult thinks with the vivid details within the portrait she has been to the holy place where an ancient treasure is concealed. They try to grab her, however Jane escapes, but not before learning she is to be their Offering. Jane calls the expert for advice, her adopted mom Eve Duncan and her lover Joe. Two men are after Jane with differing motives, but share in common that her loved ones are expendable.

Eight Days to Live is Iris Johansen at her very best in a fresh switch in which Eve and Joe play secondary roles while Jane stars. She calls on Caleb, a man with psychic powers who applies them in such a way that Eve does not approve. However he remains Jane’s only hope to survive the next eight days. This is a gripping one sitting suspense thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Book of Spies
Gayle Lynds
St. Martin’s, Mar 30 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780312380892

Rare book expert Eva Blake knows justice is a sham when she is convicted of her husband’s death in a car accident in which she insisted throughout she was the passenger. While she unfairly remains behind bars, The CIA during a forensic financial sweep in the Middle East learns of the rumored Library of Gold where priceless ancient tomes are allegedly stored; they even obtained a copy of the Book of Spies sold on the black market by a “librarian”. The spy agency knows Eva’s husband was a believer that the Library of Gold exists so offer Eva a deal which she accepts.

Freed from prison with the job of locating the library, Eva is stunned when she sees her spouse alive as she went to jail for his death. Even more shocking is that she realize that her husband was not just a myth believer, but is the director of the Library of Gold. When she meets Judd Ryder he tries to persuade her that his motives involve the murder of his espionage agent father whose death he ties to the keepers of the Library of Gold. However, as she has quickly learned during her inquiry, Eva trusts no one, not even the Feds who released her from prison or a son insisting he seeks a killer because the Library of Gold influential agents are everywhere.

This is an exciting treasure hunt espionage conspiracy thriller that grips the audience the moment the CIA enlist Eva to conduct their research and never releases the reader as the heroine becomes paranoid with justification during her dangerous investigation. The story line is fast-paced throughout even with a seemingly cast of thousands support characters that Cecil B. Demille would appreciate. However, Eva and to a lesser degree Judd make this an enjoyable read as trust no one is the norm. Harriet Klausner

Harriet's Reviews

Laughed ‘Til He Died
Carolyn Hart
Morrow, Apr 6 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 978-0061453090

On the small South Carolina barrier island of Broward's Rock lives Max and Annie Darling. Annie owns the mystery bookstore Death on Demand while Max runs an inquiry agency Confidential Commissions.

Jean Hughes, director of Haven, a youth recreation center, is not having her contract renewed due to the lobbying of her former lover affluent and influential businessman Booth Wagner. Jean asks Max to help her keep her job because her sister is dying and they want to stay here. However, Booth succeeds in forcing Jean to give up her position. On the night she is to announce her resignation, someone kills Booth. The evidence mounts that Jean killed her ex lover, but both Darlings think otherwise as they believe Jean would never risk anything at that this time due to her beloved sibling’s failing health as separation is unacceptable. Max and Annie learn that Booth made a myriad of enemies that include his family and ex wife. However, pressure on Max mounts when Annie and Booth’s heir end up in the crosshairs of a killer.

The Darling Death on demand mysteries are always a special treat because the investigation seems genuine with a plenty of suspects and the loving relationship between Max and Annie enriches the whodunit story lines. Carolyn Hart’s latest cozy is filled with strong characterizations including a killer in plain sight, but readers will find it almost impossible to determine who that person is even with clues also in plain sight. Carolyn Hart provides another Darling regional mystery.
Harriet Klausner

A River in the Sky
Elizabeth Peters
Morrow, Apr 2010, $25.95
ISBN: 9780061246265

In 1910 Egyptologists Amelia Peabody and her husband Radcliffe Emerson learn their son Ramses has been kidnapped in Palestine. Though the information is sketchy, apparently German archaeologist, Frau Von Eine and her Muslim partner Mansur abducted Ramses.

Amelia and Radcliffe rush to Palestine focusing on rescuing their son and preventing a looting of biblical treasures in Jerusalem by an amateur Morley interested only in money. At the same time, Ramses focuses on escaping captivity. Although they have no idea what the motive is, his parents deem their best chance of locating their son is avaricious Morley who has links with Von Eine.

This is a terrific look at Palestine in 1910 as archeologists, professional and amateur descend on the biblical treasures of the country. The story line is fast-paced throughout, as the escapades of Amelia and Emerson, and separately those of Ramses are gripping. Although the key element behind the kidnapping never elucidated, fans will enjoy this fine "memoir" in a strong early twentieth century series. Harriet Klausner

Monday, May 3, 2010

George Scithers (1929-2010)

George Scithers (1929-2010)
Mike Glyer
Reprinted from File 770

One of the very few fans who did it all, George Scithers, died of a heart attack on April 19 at the age of 80.

He was a small press publisher, fiction writer, prozine editor, Worldcon chair, and Hugo-winning fanzine editor.

His plaid jacket was almost as well-known as Ben Yalow’s bow tie. Scithers was Fan Guest of Honor at the 1979 NASFiC (NorthAmericon) and the 2001 Worldcon (Millennium Philcon)

It was as an editor Scithers engraved his mark on the science fiction and fantasy fields.

Scithers was the founding editor of Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine (1977), for which he won the Hugo twice, in 1979 and 1981. After he departed Asimov’s (1982), Scithers edited Amazing until 1986 and thereafter was active in the revival of Weird Tales.

It’s in every prozine editor’s interest to cultivate new talent, but while Scithers was at Asimov’s that was his profound mission and made him highly visible at conventions and in workshops.

He published a fanzine, Amra, devoted to sword-and-sorcery fiction (indeed, the term first appeared in its pages.) It won the Best Fanzine Hugo in 1964. Although Robert A. Heinlein never wrote anything for the zine, he dedicated Glory Road to “George H Scithers and the regular patrons of the Terminus, Owlswick, and Ft Mudge Electric Street Railway” (the latter being a press name for Scithers’ fanac) because the book was inspired by Scithers’ postcard asking the question, `What happens after the Hero wins the hand of the princess and half the kingdom.’”

Scithers chaired Discon, the 1963 Worldcon, attracting 600 fans to Washington D.C. Afterward he wrote The Con-Committee Chairman’s Guide: The Story of Discon I (1965), reflecting the kinder and gentler days of single-track programming. When I was working on the Nolacon II program in 1988 Bruce Pelz showed me Scithers’ remarks: “For the Discon, we set up most of the convention program in July, which seemed early enough to us…” I had a long, hysterical giggle.

Before embarking on a career in sf, Scithers was a West Point graduate who retired as a lieutenent colonel, a Signal Corps officer who had seen service in the Korean War. He was still in the service when I first met him.

Scithers founded specialty publisher Owlswick Press in 1973. Its eclectic titles included To Serve Man, the cannibal cookbook.

He also edited numerous anthologies, the latest being Cat Tales: Fantastic Feline Fiction (2008) and very recently Cat Tales 2, according to John Betancourt.

In 1992, Scithers and Darrell Schweitzer won a World Fantasy Award for their work on Weird Tales. At the 2002 World Fantasy Convention in Minneapolis, both Scithers and Forrest J Ackerman won World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Awards.
John Betancourt reports that cards may be sent to Scithers’ longtime partner, Larry Fiege, at 218 Blandford St., Rockville, MD 20850-2629.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Historical Reviews

Within the Hollow Crown
Margaret Campbell Barnes
Sourcebooks, Apr 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402239212

Unlike his father Edward the Black prince, his grandfather Edward III, or his namesake Richard the Lionhearted, Richard Plantagenet never wanted to be king. However, in 1377 at eleven years old, he is crowned ruler of England under the control of a Regency Council led by his Uncle John of Gaunt. He hated their control and was pleased with parliament’s dissolution of the Council though his Uncle John remained his top advisor. However, it was his happy marriage to Anne of Bohemia that gave him the strength and spirit to make difficult decisions in a strife torn kingdom; as his prime goal was to end the Hundred Years War and other such conflicts. He proved successful at fourteen when he ended the Peasants' Revolt. England prospered under his valiant rule until his beloved Anne died in 1394. Richard II was never the same and soon was betrayed by his cousin.

This is a fascinating work of biographical fiction that will remind readers of the Shakespeare tragedy as a great ruler falls apart after his heart dies along with his beloved Anne. Written in 1948, Within the Hollow Crown holds up as a strong historical fiction that brings to life the late fourteenth century England, a place where intrigue and betrayal outlive a monarch trying to bring peace, harmony, and prosperity to his kingdom. Harriet Klausner

The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage That Forever Changed The Fate Of England
Susan Higginbotham
Sourcebooks, Mar 1 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402237669

King Edward IV marries Elizabeth Woodville in secret. Elizabeth’s family, including her six year old sister Kate, is escorted to the royal court. Over time with maturity Kate overcomes her amazement of the regal world to marry the Duke of Buckingham, Harry Stafford.

However, both her biological and marital families are caught in the War of the Roses between the houses of Lancaster and York. While King Edward IV fights to remain on the throne, Harry has to choose between loyalty to his brother-in-law and his best friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester who covets the crown.

This is an entertaining biographical fiction that enables the audience to observe the late fifteenth century royal power struggles through the observations of the beleaguered queen’s younger sister and her spouse. They, especially Harry, are yanked between extended family loyalty and his friend. Fans of English historical fiction anchored by facts will enjoy the exciting saga of The Stolen Crown.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Interesting Reviews

Necessary Heartbreak
Michael J. Sullivan
Gallery (Simon & Schuster), Mar 302 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781439184233

When his wife died giving birth to their daughter Elizabeth fourteen years ago, Michael lost his faith and most of his heart was interred with his spouse. The only person he cherishes is his offspring as he keeps everyone else at a distance.

One day when the father and daughter are carrying crates into their church, they find a trap door in the sub-basement. Unable to resist, they enter and begin walking a long tunnel. When they finally exit, the duo find themselves in Jerusalem one week before the execution of Christ.

Initially the time travels assume they stumbled into an incredible movie set, but soon realize otherwise when they observe a Roman soldier harming a man. They intercede only to have Mike incarcerated in the same prison as the person he tried to liberate. Another Roman soldier helps Mike escape, but later learns he wants something from him: Elizabeth. The man blocks the entrance to the tunnel forcing the Sullivan duet to remain in first century Jerusalem. Leah, who believes Mike should know her, provides food and shelter. As attraction between her and Mike grows but they know he and his child do not belong there. Leah is willing to sacrifice herself if needed to enable the love of her life and his daughter to go home.

Michael J. Sullivan has written an exciting refreshing biblical thriller in which his namesake hero meets Jesus who prophesized his coming and a who’s who of the final days. The story line adheres to the Bible yet provides a secular spin with no preaching. Readers will enjoy this fine tale of two people displaced in time and place; people who have a role as frustrated watchers of the last days of Christ; unable to change what they knows as history. Harriet Klausner

Tim Davys
Harper, Feb 23 2010, $10.00
ISBN: 9780061625138

Eric Bear has come a long way from when he used drugs, gambled and was a runner for mob chieftain Nicholas Dove. Now Eric is married to a wonderful woman Emma Rabbit though he still hears rumors about his cronies from the old days.

Dove hears some of the same rumors including one that he is on the portentous Death List of those who will soon vanish. He visits his former employer to offer a deal. If Eric gets his name removed from the ominous Death List, his stuffed thugs will not rip apart Emma. Erick knows he cannot perform this quest alone; so he enlists his former gang teammates Tom-Tom Crow, Sam Gazelle and Snake Marek, who like him are reformed former felons. The quest to find the top secret foreboding Death List and its even more clandestine author begins.

Amberville is an enjoyable parable that uses stuffed animals to tell a combination mob gang good and evil fable. The story line is at its fast-paced most exhilarating during the gang sequences. The plot slows down at times when the tale turns into a dissertation on the nature of evil; though ironically that segues is the more fascinating subplot. Readers who prefer something wildly different will want to peruse Tim Davys' intriguing allegory. Harriet Klausner