Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

Time Will Tell
Eddie Upnick
Eloquent Books, Jan 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9781609110970

Eddie Upnick is a psychologist at a nursing home in Queens. He mentally bets on his patients as his personal coping defense mechanism though he deeply cares about each of them as they came to this adult living facility to die. His orderly world tilts on its axis when an elderly tired man with a slight German accent arrives at the “Queens Hilton” needing a place to stay for a year or two with no social security or bank assets; the man had $90,000 cash. Married with a child and another on the way, Eddie is excited when Jeff tells his tale.

In 2133, the Nazis control the world with an iron fist. The leaders plan a global bicentennial gala to celebrate the legend of Fuhrer Hitler’s rise to power. However, some dissidents want to change the present and future, but only can do so by altering the past. Four renegade scientists go back to 1938 Berlin with that in mind while two SS agents pursue them to prevent their scheme; the twentieth and twenty-second centuries Nazis commonly deploy hideous weapons of mass destruction as collateral damage is enthusiastically endorsed. Less than a decade later, aliens arrive with plans to enslave earth once again as collateral damage is acceptable.

Opening with a riff that will remind readers of the beginning of the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, this is a fast-paced entertaining science fiction time traveling thriller. Loaded with action and a vivid look at “history”, readers will want to learn what Upnick hears about the future and the past. Although the ET switch seems initially abrupt and odd, but once the reader adjusts they will enjoy Eddie’s efforts to save the world as he learns one thing from Jeff and (SS Hillman) that only Time Will Tell who won. Harriet Klausner

Spy Glass
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, Aug 2010, $13.95
ISBN 9780778328476

Opal Cowen gave up magic when she siphoned off her blood to defeat the evil mage Ulrick (see Sea Glass). In Sitia, her mom is planning her other daughter’s wedding which is driving her crazy and her boyfriend Kade is tied up with magical issues. Bored Opal wants to get back what she gave up by reversing what she previously did. However, the teen has a slight problem before she can begin the reversal procedural; someone stole the Sea Glass containing her blood. She ponders whether Ulrick might have some of her blood.

Opal still can detect and deflect magic so obtains work keeping Councilor Moon safe from magical assaults. She also signs up for a spy training program that she hopes will enable her to find her blood. When she meets the head of security for the Commander of The Territory of Ixia, Vanek, he mentors her on power without magic. Now two males compete for her affection, but though she must choose between them, a desperate Opal stays focused on her quest. Using her future revealing spy glass and her beloved Quartz, Opal begins her quest to find her blood with the only acceptable outcome being having her magic restored.

This is an exciting entry, but lacks the uniqueness of the glassmaking magic that Opal once possessed (though the previous tales). The quest is fascinating though at a much lower scale than the battle with Opal with the incarcerated in a maximum security prison Ulrick; as she is willing to risk death to regain what she sacrificed. With some romance as she has two males in her life competing for her affection, fans will appreciate this sort of coming of age fantasy as the heroine fails to adjust to being mundane. Harriet Klausner

Rise Of The Poison Moon
MaryJanice Davidson, Anthony Alongi
Ace, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019045

Supplies are dangerously low for those residents of Winoka trapped inside a magical barrier. Ancient Furnace and dragon leader Jennifer Scales are becoming increasingly desperate, but they have no earthly idea how to break through the enchantment “prison”. Jennifer also struggles to survive as Ember and the rogue dragons want her dead.

On the outside Jennifer’s former friend were-arachnid Skip Wilson wants to kill everyone. At the same time the ancient wars between the beaststalkers, dragons and were-arachnids has left many dead or maimed and more deaths likely. Jennifer struggles to prevent further hostilities, but her plate is already overflowing and her flexibility restricted by the barrier and her enemies.

Fascinatingly, as Winoka remains isolated, the species trapped inside are unable to forge a mutually needed alliance, which leaves all in peril. Mostly told inside the magical containment area, Jennifer’s troubles and danger mount while outside hell has broken loose too. Although the innocence that marked the earlier young adult urban fantasies in the saga is long gone as pragmatism has replaced it, fans of the series will enjoy Jennifer Scales and the Rise of the Poison Moon. Harriet Klausner

Four More Reviews

Final Crisis
Greg Cox
Ace, Jul 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780441018574

The war of the Gods is over after eons of lethal combat; Darkseid and his evil Apokolips horde are victorious. His next step now that he defeated the defenders is to employ the Anti-life destruction of free will in order to take charge of earth, the key to controlling the Multiverse. Once he succeeds on this, which is inevitable as only the embattled JLA remains to stop him, eternal darkness will be everywhere.

While tracking down six missing children, ex cop Dan "Terrible" Turpin meets dying New God Orion, who warns him that "he's in all of you!" Confused and upset, Turpin ends up at a Command bunker in devastated Bludhaven. As the Anti-Life turns millions into Darkseid minions, supervillain Libra murders a member of the Justice League, which enables him to claim leadership of the Society of Super-Villains. The Green Lanterns investigate the murder of Orion leading to a new hope with the rebirthing of a dead superhero, but Superman is trapped in a non future and Batman is a prisoner. It will take a miracle to save the universe, but none seem forthcoming.

With homage and awe to the late great Jack Kirby and his Fourth World mythos, Greg Cox provides a terrific rendition of the wonderful Final Crisis (comic books are well written too; thanks to my spouse a big comic book fan). With seemingly every DC characters making at least a cameo appearance in “It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” and multiverse, Final Crisis is actually a simplistic tale of superheroes and others willing to go out (not in a blaze of glory as the victors write the history books) to fight overwhelming evil that has won eternity. Mr. Cox does a fabulous novelization of the classic miniseries as even down to the final flicker, goodness refuses to quit. Harriet Klausner

Heart Journey
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425234549

In the year 407 since the colonization, highly regarded cartographer Helena Del D’Elcampane and her FoxFam Shunuk prefers the remoteness of traveling the unmapped sector of Celta. However, recently Del senses her HeartMate is near. She rushes back to civilization to meet him, but also learned of the horror of that happened to her Family, except for an infant, dying in an inferno.

Her only living relative cousin Dookee has been adopted by Straif Blackthorn and his HeartMate Mitchella (see Heart Choice). Grieving her loss although not close to her Family, Del is taken back to learn her HeartMate is actor Raz Cherry (support role in Heart Fate and Heart Change), who has expected his HeartMate to come to him as the Oracle informed him and he sensed her arrival. She had doubts re a HeartMate, but he embellishes her hesitation as he is more interested in his acting career than a lifetime commitment; until a serial thief keeps stealing from them as if he or she seeks something specific, but nether know what.

The latest Celta romantic fantasy HeartMate stars two total opposites sharing in common one thing; reservation about what a permanent relationship would do to their respective vocation. Saga fans will enjoy their vacillation as that refreshes the story line as much as the mystery. With the return of some of the stars from the previous thrillers, the audience will relish the expanding Owens universe as her newest entry is told with the usual plenty of heart. Harriet Klausner

Body Master
C.J. Barry
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9780425234556

Secret government agent Seneca Thomas of Extraterrestrial Criminal Enforcement Locality (XCEL), New York City Division, provides a needed innate skill as she can identify the alien shapeshifters who live amidst mankind. The aliens were stranded on earth when their spaceship crashed two years ago in the Badlands. They use homo sapiens DNA to appear as human.

Seneca’s partner Riley is killed in the line of duty while hunting for “Jack” a serial killing shifter. Wanting revenge, Seneca is outraged when XCEL leadership assigns her Max Dempsey as her new partner; Max is a dreaded shifter who offered his services to find the rogue killer. He conceals his personal agenda of killing the psychopath who murdered his wife and exposed their race to potential disaster even perhaps genocide. Worse he detests his attraction to his acrimonious human partner. Both are stunned with what they find.

In some ways mindful of Alien Nation, the opening XCEL science fiction romantic police procedural is a terrific manhunt (make that ET hunt) thriller. The story line is fast-paced with the shifters intermingled with New Yorkers coming across as genuine. With the two lead investigators forging a star-crossed relationship while going after Jack, but discovering so much more, readers will relish C.J. Barry’s entertaining tale. Harriet Klausner

Bedeviled Angel
Annette Blair
Berkley, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235973

Guardian angel Chance Godricson returns to earth (with a heavenly shove from his BFF Angus) out of concern for one of his clients, agoraphobic sufferer Queisha Saint-Denis whose life he saved eight years ago when he died in a mall collapse. The mortal faces difficult challenges as the Fitzgerald couple disappeared on a mountain climbing trip. Queisha is the legal guardian of their five years old twins Lace and Skye because they trust her to care for them as she had been their surrogate mother birthing them.

Works Like Magick employment agency owner Viveca assigns Chance to serve as the cook for Queisha and the children. He also serves as guardian to the frightened twins. Queisha struggles to provide the twins with what they need. Chance has problems too as he sheds his feathers whenever his thoughts stray to Queisha, adheres to the awkward angelic honesty tenet regardless, and hardest of all tries to remain detached.

The second Works Like Magick urban romantic fantasy (see Naked Dragon) is a terrific tale with plenty of humor especially as Chance struggles with unacceptable thoughts and dreams, and the heavenly dictate of complete honesty. The twins enhance the story line though perhaps they are too precocious while Angus is more an impish messenger than a guardian angel. With a strong lead couple and a taut look at an agoraphobic battling her neurosis to raise young children, Annette Blair provides a strong heavenly sent thriller. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Water Bound
Christine Feehan
Jove, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515148244

In Sea Haven, Rikki Sitmore dives for sea urchins. However, her attention radically changes when she notices a man in trouble in the swirling currents. Rikki rescues severely injured Lev Prakenskii. Besides his physical traumas, Lev suffers from situational amnesia, but is well aware he must remain hidden as someone wants him dead.

Reluctantly Rikki takes Lev to the estate she and her five “sisters of the heart” call home. Like Lev, Rikki has issues as she cherishes the water and loathes the fire as a tragedy left its imprint on her. Each has deadly enemies coming for them, but together with two hearts beating as one, they can overcome anything even lethal predators and autism.

Returning to Sea Haven, home of the Drake Sisters, Christine Feehan begins a new saga as once again some paranormal is blended inside a mystery, which in turn is inside a powerful romance. Though somewhat similar in tone to the “parent” Drake Sisters’ series, the audience will relish this action-packed tale from the moment Rikki saves Lev from drowning and fans will enjoy this entertaining thriller. Ironically even with a strong love story between two traumatized souls and plenty of suspense, it is the deep look at what haunts the pair especially Rikki and the tragic fire that brings compassion to the tale. Harriet Klausner

Tempting Fire
Sydney Croft
Bantam, Jul 27 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780385342285

In the Brazilian rainforest, a force massacres a highly regarded elite Navy SEALs unit. Cryptozoologist experts insist the Chupacabra predator cannot exist in spite of the shocking evidence that they agree speaks otherwise especially with the only survivor Chance McCormack insisting so.

Agency for Covert Rare Operatives (ACRO) sends field agents Sela Kahne who brings expertise on the mythic logical Chupacabra and Marlena West to investigate. Sela has another skill of being able to read the mind of her partner while they make love. She needs to do so with Chance, but is attracted to the man who saved the SEAL and leads their expedition Logan Mills; at the same time Chance and Marlena pair up. Meanwhile vicious Phoebe of ITOR also wants the Chupacabra.

The latest ACRO paranormal romantic suspense thriller (see Riding the Storm, Seduced by the Storm and Taming the Fire) is a strong tale with a legendary beastly spin. The lead foursome makes the rumble in the jungle seem genuine as they chase after the Chupacabra; a creature they hope does not exist while also falling in love. Series fans will appreciate the latest confrontation with ITOR over the Chupacabra. Harriet Klausner

Susan Grant
HQN, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774661

The pirate clans live in the Channels asteroid belt. They earn a substandard existence by raiding passing ships containing precious minerals needed for the intergalactic war fought in another sector. However, the clans have their own combat going on as instead of cooperating for the overall good of everyone, they fight with one another.

A new clan leader Dake Sureblood is a visionary who can see how teamwork would benefit everyone, but is blank as to how to proceed when no one trusts anyone from another clan; even he distrusts the other broods. Two clans the Surebloods and the Blues raid the same vessels. Dake saves the life of Valeeya Blue. Her grateful father Conn invites Dake and his kin to join forces with his clan. Already attracted to Val, Dake readily agrees. However, betrayal by opportunists causes the two clans to bicker and consider hostile actions against one another rather than teaming with Dake left in hell for five years after someone assassinated Conn. However, that traitor never counted on Dake returning to prove his innocence and claim his wife and their son as his though he knows she believes he killed her father.

This is a fun sort of Scottish Highlanders in outer space futuristic romantic science fiction romance. The story line is fast-paced from the opening raid and never slows down as betrayal and murder keep the lead couple apart. Readers will relish the swashbuckling escapades of Dake and Valeeya as he returns to avenge his father-in-law and himself while desperately wanting his spouse at his side and to finally meet their son. Harriet Klausner

Urban Fantasies

Whisper Kiss
Deborah Cooke
Signet, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451230928

In New York City tattoo artist Rox is a Good Samaritan who tries to help those going through hard times. Her “projects” include her former roommate, Pyr Thorolf, who moved out to work with Niall Talbot.

Rox does not trust Niall so she confronts him. Neither anticipated the inferno “firestorm” their first encounter causes. Niall is stunned by Rox’s not blinking at meeting a dragon while she is stunned by her attraction to him. Neither have time nor the emotional desire for even a kiss as he tries to remain focused on his obsession, the destruction of Shadow Dragons. However he and the other Pyr remain fixated on their eradication mission so they keep their eye on the wrong ball as a new more deadly threat arises.

This is a terrific Kiss urban romantic fantasy (see Winter Kiss and Kiss of Fate) as the lead couple may be firestorm perfect mates in heat, but neither has the time or inclination to place their heart and soul in the inferno they spontaneously combusted at first sight. Both have issues, but still team up on a perilous trek in which one mistake means death. The author has Cooked another winner with the tattoo artist and the dragon shapeshifter. Harriet Klausner

Kiss of the Rose
Kate Pearce
Signet, Aug 3 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780451230942

In 1485 the Druids and King Henry Tudor made a pact in which the priests are to eradicate the vampire race while he becomes ruler of England and Wales. In 1529 at the Richmond Palace, home of the court of King Henry VIII, there have been a series of murders; the victims drained of all their blood. Obviously a serial killing vampire or multitude of the undead is making the palace unsafe for humans.

The Druids assign born vampire hunter Rosalind Llewellyn to kill the predator. However, before she can find the hidden beast, she must deal with vampire protector Sir Christopher Ellis the Druid slayer. Attracted to one another, both are stunned when their superiors order them to cooperate in finding and destroying a rogue. Neither is prepared to be soul mates fulfilling an ancient prophecy if they truly team up and if they survive the deadly mission.

The first Tudor Vampire Chronicles is a wonderful historical romantic fantasy. The mystery and the history take a back seat to the paranormal and the romance so that the background to a vampiric King Henry VIII castle never fully comes to fruition. Still this is an exciting early fifteenth century star-crossed lovers' thriller as the immovable vampire hunter meets the irresistible Druid slayer. Harriet Klausner

Siren's Call
Devyn Quinn
Signet, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451230935

Kenneth Randall was so filled with grief from the murder of his wife, the shocked man wandered into the ocean and nearly drowned. A woman saved his life leaving him on the beach supposedly with no memory of her saving his life.

Ten months since the good Samaritan rescued him, Ken returns to Point Rock Harbor on barrier island Little Mer, Maine to thank his angel and to put to rest his recurring dream of a sea nymph saving him. Little Mer Island lighthouse keeper Tessa Lonike is unhappy with the arrival of the man she pulled out of the sea almost a year ago. He should not have remembered her or what happened to him on that day. However, her sister Gwen is euphoric when the visitor offers to repair things. As Ken and Tessa become acquainted he figures out her deep watery secret and becomes protective when her former fiancé archeologist Jake Massey arrives claiming he has information on the heritage of the sisters.

The Dark Tides oceanic romantic fantasy is a fun tale starring a thorny acerbic shapeshifter who learns where good intentions lead and the obstinate man she rescued from the icy sea. The story line is fast-paced, but the villain is a caricature with no redeeming quality rather than a real adversary. Still readers will enjoy this entertaining tale due to the relationship between the lead couple.
Harriet Klausner

Saturday, August 28, 2010

More Interesting Titles from Harriet

The Demon Hunt
Kris Greene
St. Martin’s, Aug 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312944230

Gabriel Redfeather just wants to go back to being a computer-bookworm geek, but he knows he can never go home to that existence ever since the former Hunter student met hybrid demon De Mona Sanchez and she introduced him to the attacking demon horde. The slaughter was horrific (see The Dark Storm) as they and their allies need a new sanctuary to regroup, but he surprised his kick his butt mentor and her allies with his use of Nimrod the ancient trident and thwarted attempts by the weapon’s former possessor, the insane and soul trapped Bishop, from taking it.

However, there is no respite for the war weary as Redfeather’s grandfather and Lucy the witch are kidnapped at a time a chasm has ripped open the barrier between dimensions. Titus the Betrayer and Goblin Prince Orden pursue mankind’s last hope with diligence and vigor. At the same time NYPD deems Redfeather as a person of interest when two of his friends from Hunter are murdered as all hell has broken loose on the streets of Manhattan

The adventures of computer role player Gabriel continues in Central Park and the nearby neighborhoods in an action-packed urban fantasy; though it helps to have read the previous book The Dark Storm to learn how the least likely hero is humanity’s last hope. Gabriel is terrific as the reluctant champion of humanity while his “sidekick” keeps kicking his butt when he feels sorry for himself. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of street drama, but the overarching theme barely budges as the demonic horde begins pouring through the hole between worlds. Harriet Klausner

Sins of the Heart
Eve Silver
Harlequin HQN, Aug 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774821

As the offspring of Sutekh, the four demi-god Krayl brothers are soul reapers. When the youngest brother Lokan is murdered, his soul vanishes, which means he cannot come back from the dead without his essence. His siblings are outraged by the double affront. Each one of his brothers demand retribution, but also each knows they must move out if they are to resurrect Lokan.

Otherkin Asetian Guard Roxy Tam is part of an elite unit that defends humanity from other worldly threats. She and Dagan Krayl have a past together that includes attraction and repellant. However, as once again, an inferno ignites when they meet, they must put aside their desire and their mistrust because someone has placed the Underworld in peril.

This is a super opening Krayl sibling romantic fantasy as Lokan and his family investigate the homicide that should have been almost impossible, search to find the lost soul in time to save him, and in Dagan’s case fall in love with his partner. Fast-paced, the key to this wonderful thriller is the supernatural beings seem genuine especially the Krayl extended family, the villains, and the Guard. Readers will fully appreciate Eve Silver’s golden first act as the hybrid and the kick butt fall in love. Harriet Klausner

Suzanne Brockmann
Ballantine, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345521200

In 2010 history professor Alison Carter is the expert on the feud between legendary Marshal Silas Quinn and notorious outlaw James "Kid" Gallagher of the brutal Kelly Gang; the Kid kidnapped and murdered the lawman’s wife, Melody. In 1898 in the Red Rock Saloon in Jubilation, Arizona Quinn and the Kelly Gang faced off. Alison knows she has come a long way from growing up the daughter of an alcoholic as now she is the consultant to the Hollywood film Quinn.

Having served in the Bush senior’s Gulf War, A. J. Gallagher came home suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. For several years he depended on alcohol to numb the ghosts of war. Sober, he wants to exorcize the ghost of his great-grandfather The Kid. However, the Kid refuses to go to hell; instead demanding his descendent clear his name as he insists the legend is false since he and his beloved Melody ran away to Alaska to escape from abusive Quinn. A.J. confronts Alison, but though his evidence is the word of mouth from a spirit, the veteran and the professor are attracted to each other. When deadly felons go after his woman, A.J. vows to keep her safe.

This is a great paranormal romance mindful of Who Shot Liberty Valance and Robert Wuhl’s presentation in Assume the Position on “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.” Fast-paced, the story line is at its best when the focus is on the Kid challenging A.J. to sell the facts to the so called expert while A.J. wants to sell himself to his beloved expert. When the plot takes a suspense spin, it loses some of the charm and underlying insight that the winners write the history to make them heroes and their adversaries’ villains. Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 27, 2010


As Lie the Dead
Kelly Meding
Dell, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780553592870

After waking up in someone else’s body on a slab in the morgue, Hunter Evy Stone’s first case was to solve who killed her and her still dead Triad partners (see Three Days to Dead). Evy still struggles with the memories and previous lifestyle of her new body; that of Chalice Frost while physically and emotionally healing from injuries and her own body's death.

The Assembly of Clan Elders wants all Triad members dead but especially Evy’s friend Rufus St, James for his leading their genocide attacks on the Owlkins people. Evy blames herself for the annihilation while she and her former handler Wyatt Truman try to prevent further carnage as they believe Brass is behind the assaults. Feeling some regret as to what happened to the shapeshifters due to what she believes were attacks on her, Evy vows to keep their survivors safe and take down Brass. As an assassin continues to target her and anyone in her sphere or even strangers by happenchance near her, she will soon realize how much she underestimated the problem.

The second Stone urban fantasy is a great thriller as the heroine further learns betrayal by those she felt in her previous life she could trust is the norm. Evy feels remorse that so many have died especially the shapeshifters all because someone wants her dead. This is her tale of learning how naive she once was as she peels away layers of a conspiracy that leaves her paralyzed with the shock of humanity’s brutality. Kelley Meding is a great storyteller. Harriet Klausner

The Bear
R.A. Salvatore
Tor, Aug 17 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765317919

Honce has been at war for years as two rivals battle for the throne with each indifferent to the plight of peasants trapped in the deadly combat. Self-anointed King Yeslnik the Fool flourishes on blood and guts from the unmerciful war while his chief opponent Laird Ethelbert is perhaps slightly less inclined towards violence causing collateral damage.

Yeslnik’s other major opposition comes from Dame Gwydre of Vanguard, who cares about the people, but is somewhat helpless as she is trapped inside the Church of St. Mere Abelle with the mystic monks; though due to magic jewels and the swordsmen, they are safe. She considers an alliance with Ethelbert, whom she deems is the lesser of two evils, but his assassins murdered Jameston Sequin and attempted to kill Bransen Garibond the Highwayman.

Bransen opts out as he is bone wary of war. He intends to takes his pregnant wife and leaves but he meets Gwydre who tries to help the beleaguered people. Instead of vanishing, he escorts her to meet the king’s general Bannagran, the Bear of Honce to see if between them they can bring peace.

The final tale in the epic First King saga (see The Highwayman, The Ancient and The Dame) is a rousing winner as R.A. Salvatore continues to effortlessly blend magic and medieval type warfare inside an action-packed military-political fantasy. The key cast is powerfully drawn as betrayal and expedient shifting alliances between enemies is the norm. This series is one of the best over the past few years because of the deep look at political fantasy in a kingdom at constant civil war.
Harriet Klausner

Seduced by the Wolf
Terry Spear
Sourcebook, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781402237539

In Oregon, rancher Leidolf Wildhaven is worried about the purebred humans wanting to look too closely at the wilderness wolf populace. Not that the timing would be good ever for him and the werewolf pack he leads but this particular moment is disastrous as he just came from Colorado to take over as Alpha leader of a dispirited pack; werewolves who are without spirit and zest for life become easy targets.

Adding to his headaches is the leggy biologist Dr. Cassie Roux who believes wolves in the wild need protection from human predators. She has problems caused by her angry peer, wolf biologist Alex Wellington and her attraction to this rancher who says a wolf is man’s best friend. She can sniff the lupus garou scent he emits. Courageous she tries to protect a she-wolf and newborn litter from rogues (wolves, hunters and enemy biologists) while also trying to keep her heart safe from a hunk of a werewolf.

No one makes werewolves seem real better than romantic urban fantasist Terry Spear continually does with her “Wolf” saga (see Legend of the White Wolf, To Tempt a Wolf, Heart of the Wolf and Destiny of the Wolf). Her fifth were-wolfish thriller is a strong tale of two dedicated people wanting to d the best for the wolfish populace in the northwest. Sub-genre fans will want to roam Oregon with this lead couple as outside a werewolf, a book by Terry Spear’s is woman’s best friend; inside the werewolf it is to dark to read (Groucho is turning over in his grave).
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Some Unusual Titles

The Chamber of Ten, Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon, Ballantine, Jul 27 2010, $7.99, ISBN: 9780553386561, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

As Venice is sinking under the sea, residents have already shut down the bottom floors of their homes. American archaeologist Geena Hodge and her assistant lover Nico Lombardi have gotten Italian government permission to save as much of the heritage from the encroaching Adriatic in what is the Bibliotheca project that has BBC filming praying not another Capone vault.

Digging in Piazza San Marco, Geena, assisted by Nico and some students, finds Petrarch’s library. Beyond the famous lost library, they uncover the fabled Chamber of Ten. However, nothing goes smoothly as the walls collapse allowing flood waters to inundate the chamber. Soon afterward Nico acts insane as he has become possessed by a Renaissance Era mage battling three evil immortals with the city at stake.

This is more an exciting thriller than a horror tale. The story line starts off as fast-paced as any tale this year and as vivid (with its dank damp picture of the city), but never quite keeps the accelerator at that incredible opening rate of speed. Still Readers will enjoy the Chamber of Ten as the archeologist and her team is caught up in the middle of a centuries old Magical war in which Venice is at stake.

Bearers of the Black Staff, Terry Brooks, Del Rey, Aug 24 2010, $27.00, ISBN: 9780345484178, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Five centuries ago the demonic Great War left humanity on the brink of extinction. Young Hawk the Gypsy Morph led a few battered human, elven and mutant souls into a sanctuary protected by a magical barrier (see The Gypsy Morph). Those inside knows that outside hell reigns.

However, when he led the march to safety, Hawk never expected what has occurred recently; the barrier has collapsed allowing the demonic horde to invade. The last surviving Knight of the Word Sider Ament knows the people need new young heroes like the Bearers of the Black Staff he possesses that once was held by Hawk when he led them to safety. He rescues teen Trackers Panterra Qu and Prue Liss and tells them to warn the Hawk’s descendents. However, the council complacent after hundreds of years of peace rejects Sider's belief the demons are coming while the Knight goes out to the external world to learn what has happened there and most likely in the valley. The two Trackers believe the Knight’s word and seek allies.

Terry Brooks continues his prehistorical saga the Legends of Shannara with the first of a twp part fantasy thriller with the story line occurring five hundred years since the events of The Gypsy Morph. Inside the once safe valley is a fascinating look at a peaceful life on the verge of pandemic collapse with leaders mostly unable to accept the demonic tsunami is coming. As enjoyable as that subplot is, fans of Shannara will especially appreciate the other segue as Sider escorts the audience in a venture outside the valley, which enables fans to see what happened after Hawk saved the band. Mr. Brooks is at his best with this tale as his myriad of fans will look forward to the conclusion.

Dick and Jane and Vampires, Laura Marchesani; illustrated by Tommy Hunt, Grosset & Dunlap (Penguin), Aug 26 2010, ISBN: 9780448455686, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Dick and Jane are surprised to see a bat. Over time, the bat is comfortable with Dick and Jane, their parents and their baby sister Sally. He shapeshifts into a Vampire and becomes friends with Dick and Jane. Soon he is playing with them and welcomed by the rest of family though dad is a bite or two concerned that he may have a cape wearing rival. Eventually the milkman delivers bottles of blood along with milk.

Broken into three short stories with illustrations, this is a lighthearted romp that early elementary school children and older readers who grew up on Dick and Jane will enjoy. Each tale is further broken into short shorts so that the younger readers can take breaks. Although I think a child vampire instead of an adult would be more apropos especially playing with the children, the targeted audience to include nostalgic boomers and the older Gen X will enjoy Dick and Jane making new friends summed up: “See Dick Play. See Jane Play. See Dick and Jane Play with a vampire!”

The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff, Razorbill, Sep 21 2010, $17.99, ISBN: 9781595143372, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

Sixteen years ago in Gentry, the tattooed princess sent Mackie Doyle as The Replacement who took the place in a crib of a newborn human baby. He is not the only Replacement in the town, but the locals are unaware of the switches and besides the changes have proven profitable for the ignorant but blissful townsfolk, other nearby places have collapsed. Mackie leaving Gentry to go to the underworld tunnels of Mayhem is dangerous for him but by staying he has allergies to iron and blood that can kill him. The girl he likes Alice donates blood and has silver pinned on her pierced tongue; he also cannot walk on sacred earth though his dad is a pastor with a church.

However, the strange death of Natalie has shocked everyone. Natalie’s family attends the church of Mackie’s dad though the lad does not know her or her older sister Tate who attends his school. The grieving girl obsesses over learning the truth about her sibling’s death, which places Mackie in the awkward situation of choosing life above ground or below as he comes to know Tate.

This is an extremely dark horror tale that grips the audience from the moment the teens are introduced and never slows down until the final confrontation. The Gentry high school students makes the story line seem plausible as most behave with reckless abandon with sex, drugs, cigarettes and alcohol prevalent; the teens challenge the adult authority. This is a strong novel that uses the Doppelganger Replacement as the premise of an exhilarating novel that warns readers to look beyond the glitter to insure there is no monster; like Tate is doing with no allies until Mackie joins her quest.

Emma and the Vampires, Jane Austen and Wayne Josephson, Sourcebooks, Aug 10 2010, $14.99, ISBN: 9781402241345, reviewed by Harriet Klausner.

In Highbury, England blue blooded vampires live among the human residents with the latter unaware that some of local gentry are Undead. Daughter of an affluent widower, Emma is especially clueless even though she notices weird dental bites and black curtains, but never puts together another thought as to what that denotes. Instead Emma plays the town’s matchmaker until her BFF Harriet Smith declares her love for Mr. Knightly. Emma wants him unaware that his fangs are not due to poor teeth.

Everything changes when the vampires begin stalking and attacking the town’s girls. Not one to remain a spectator, Emma grabs a stake that she ties to her thigh and stalks the Undead.

With a nod to Steve Hockensmith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and a wink at Jane Austen, Wayne Josephson converts Emma into a vampire thriller with stakes and tea. Although everyone knows vampires exist, Emma is terrific as she goes from totally clueless to Regency Buffy like slayer. Although how the Highbury citizens failed to know the bluebloods were Undead is mindful of Los unable to see past Clark’s glasses (hypnotic glamour must be super powerful), readers will enjoy Mr. Josephus’ jocular biting of Emma.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Some Interesting Titles

The Grim Reaper Dance
Judy Clemens
Poisoned Pen, Aug 1 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9781590587317

Casey “Jones” Maldonado is on the run from the CEO of Pegasus. One of his defective cars caused an accident that killed her husband and son. She is also wanted for the murder of a Louisville criminal and for questioning in the death of a Clymer, Ohio citizen. Her only companion is Death and she wishes he would really take her so she can join her family.

She hitches a ride with Wayne a trucker. They get into an accident caused by men who want the papers he has hidden on his truck. Before he dies, he tells Casey where they are and she stays in the small town where Wayne lived to obtain the papers and see that Wayne in death receives justice. Plenty of truckers from Class P Trucking wants the documents and will do whatever it takes to retrieve them. Casey takes refuge in a shed in the middle of nowhere. There she meets teens who were at the hospital. They kind of adopt her and help her when the truckers catch up to Casey who in spite of the danger remains resolute in determining who killed Wayne.

Death is an actual essence that only Casey can see though one can wonder whether she suffers delusions. He is with her trying to convince her that she needs to swing the bat by rejoining the living as it is not time for her to Embrace the Grim Reaper. Casey has a deep rooted social conscience so though she prefers death rather than life as her companion, she still insists social justice occurs and is willing to risk her existence to see it happen even for a dead person. The Grim Reaper Dance is an excellent mystery starring a strange perhaps deranged heroine and her “BFF” Death. Harriet Klausner

Robin Cook
Putnam, Aug 10 2010, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399156625

Medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton are euphoric with the birth of their first offspring. Following medical leave, Laurie returns to work and her boss assigns to her a routine inquiry in which the preliminary indication is death by natural causes.

However, something feels off kilter to Laurie and she is positive it is not caused by postpartum blues. She digs a bit deeper and soon realizes the victim has been poisoned. Her investigation leads to the Mafia and Japanese gangsters competing with money laundering investments in a crooked stem-cell research firm. When the felons kidnap her son Laurie goes lioness berserker in pursuit.

Cure in an exciting medical thriller due to the diligence of the lead protagonist whose investigation leads to a convergence of the biotechnical and mob industries aimed at her and her loved ones. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Laurie begins her autopsy and never slows down. Although resolutions are incredibly too obvious, easy and abrupt, fans will enjoy the latest Montgomery-Stapleton tale (see Foreign Body) as the enemy goes after them by targeting their Achilles’ Heel. Harriet Klausner

Blood Men
Paul Cleave
Atria, Jul 20 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781439189610

When Edward Hunter was nine years old his life radically changed. First a voice in his head directed him to put nails inside a steak that he fed to a dog, who died a painful death. In that same year his father dubbed Jack the Hunter was arrested and convicted of killing at least eleven prostitutes; his older sister died from an overdose; and finally Edward’s mom committed suicide unable to cope with what Jack did.

Shocked into behaving, Edward becomes an accountant and affectionately loving towards his wife Jodie and their six-year-old daughter Sam. During Christmas week Jodie and Edward are at a bank in Christchurch, New Zealand when six armed robbers assault the place. Edward goes into face them, but his confrontation leads to Jodie’s death. The dormant voice is back ordering him to kill. Shook by his wife’s death and the voice, Edward visits his father for the first since Jack was locked away. Jack says he heard the voice too and suggests to his son to follow its call and avenge the murder of his beloved wife.

This is a fascinating character study that looks deeply at what motivates anti society activities. The story line is at its best when the focus is inside the head of Edward who thinks he may just be a chip off the old block. However, the story line also contains too many subplots in which none fully take charge though ultimately the myriad converge in a final clash. Still fans of twisting psychological thrillers with a red sea of blood will want to read Edward’s lament (perhaps too much lamenting by him) as he fears his DNA imprint is serial killer not family patriarch. Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Classic, A Collection and an Urban Fantasy

The Word for World Is Forest
Ursula K. Le Guin
Tor, Jul 6 2010, $11.99
ISBN: 9780765324641

In the far future on the pristine world of New Tahiti is a wilderness Eden that Captain Davidson and other earthlings want to exploit for profit. He has already begun cutting down the trees. If it means the primitives die so be it as collateral damage often occurs when yumans conquer Mother Nature.

The native Athsheans are horrified over being massacred and enslaved. However, the vilest crime by the off-worlders is destroying the forest as their Word for World is Forest. Fearful of this new powerful God who is brutal on their former forest deity and on them, the Athsheans know there is little they can do but obey as violence is not in their make-up although Selver tries to lead an insurgency, which only further threatens his people’s way of life.

This book was published over thirty years ago; long before Avatar. The story line is fast-paced while using a science fiction base to make a case that the “White Man’s Burden” left Africa ruined and places like Tahiti devastated. Still relevant after all these decades, readers will appreciate Ursula Le Guin’s classic novella of bloodthirsty avaricious outsiders destroying a peaceful Eden for profit.
Harriet Klausner

Dark and Stormy Knights
Edited by P. N. Elrod
St. Martin’s Griffin, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312598341

This fine nine urban fantasy collection focuses on dark knights who protect the innocent and the not innocent from dark nights. The anthology contains five strong entries and four solid contributions. The best two tales are “Even Hand” by Jim Butcher with a Dresden connection as his enemy Marcone has a grudge match with an inhuman sorcerer and Carrie Vaughn’s “God’s Creatures” with a Kitty connection as Cormac the hunter searches for a werewolf at a reform school. Also top quality are "Even a Rabbit Will Bite" by Rachel Caine starring a dragon slayer who faces unemployment and a fear what next since her prey are almost extinct; Vicki Pettersson’s Shifting Star has a female lead who stalks a predator kidnapping young girls; and Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels assigned to protect “A Questionable Client”. The entertaining compilation also includes fun tales from Shannon K. Butcher, P.N. Elrod (a Jack Fleming thriller), Deidre Knight and Lilith Saintcrow.
Harriet Klausner

Almost To Die For
Tate Hallaway
NAL, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451230577

In St. Paul, Anastasija Parker has known for a long time that her mom is a witch; she has doubts about being a chip off the mother block. On her sweet sixteenth birthday she learns the truth about her dad; whom Ana thought was a deadbeat loser.

As she now knows the first part of the compound word deadbeat sort of applies to her father. He visits her demanding she join him in her rightful spot next to the king of the vampires, dead undead dad. Her mom pleads with her to inherit only her bewitching half while her dad claims her blood flows royally albeit tainted. As she struggles with high school, two boys sort of want her. One is a witch; the other is a vampire.

Mindful of the Jennifer Scales series by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi, the first Vampire Princess urban fantasy is a great young adult thriller. Ana is wonderful holding the opening tale together as she learns the truth about her DNA and the war between the vampires and the witches in an up front and personal way as her parents are preparing for open combat as are two male teens who want her as their respective girlfriend. With an amusing tongue in cheek biting story line, readers will enjoy Almost To Die For as the beleaguered heroine muses high school was hard enough before learning she is wanted as a royal hybrid. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Blasphemy by Mike Resnick

BLASPHEMY, Mike Resnick, Golden Gryphon, $24.95, 349 pages, ISBN: 9781930846647, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

When I think of BLASPHEMY, I think of the scientific discoveries of the Dark Ages and how The Church condemned everyone and everything and called it BLASPHEMY. The Church did its best to discredit them until the Renaissance came along and forced the discoveries out into the light. This collection contains some of Resnick’s more religion themed stories. It’s a good thing that he wasn’t around in the Dark Ages or we would not have the chance to enjoy them.

In “Genesis: The Rejected Canon”, the creation had a minor difference, that if not corrected would have caused a lot of changes today. In “Walpurgis III”, a world of satanic religions has allowed sanctuary to the greatest mass murderer; the Republic has sent an assassin to kill him; and, we must decide which one of them is the vilest. “God and Mr. Slatterman” meet at a craps table. In “The Pale Thin God”, the old gods meet and discuss how to handle this pale invader into their lands. Other stories tell of The Wandering Jew, The Messiah and Blind Faith, and an interview with God.

Resnick is at his best with these stories and I really enjoyed them. Great writing and some unusual aspects of the topic of religion make this a terrific collection. No matter what your feelings on religion are, this will be an enjoyable read.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Do Unto Others
Michael Z. Williamston
Baen, Aug 3 2010, $22.00
ISBN: 9781439133835

Minors Bryan Prescot and his family invented technology that enabled the mining of planets in the most inhospitable places. The invention made him and his kin the richest people in the universe. On the down side, many unscrupulous people see the Prescot brood as targets to be mined.

To keep his daughter Caron safe, Bryan hires the Ripple Creek Security firm whose guiding vision is protect the client at all costs. The magnificent six (Jason, Artemis, Alex, Bart, Shaman, and Elke) guard Caron with their lives; each vows to remain vigil as they pledge no harm will come to her. . However, an unknown adversary has sent a horde to kill the girl and her protectors. She has the sextet who doesn’t feel too concerned that they face an army that could take a planet but only need to take out one person. To the six keeping Caron safe is their business even if they have to nuke their way to keeping their client safe.

This is a wild outer space caper as the odds are overwhelming in favor of the thugs kidnapping Caron and killing all on her side. However, the magnificent six plus the miners defend her so don’t bet against Caron and her protective cronies. Over the top with nothing new as Michael Z. Williamston takes the honorable mercenary Magnificent Seven from Mexico into Outer Space (with six) to fight amoral ruthless outlaws. Yet knowing this going in, readers will enjoy every page of the confrontation as Mr. Williamston will not need to beg forgiveness from his fans with this entertaining thriller. Harriet Klausner

After America
John Birmingham
Del Rey, Aug 17 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345502919

Several years have passed since the catastrophic wave of energy destroyed the United States in 2003 that came like a tsunami Without Warning. Scientists remained baffled with what caused it, why it abruptly vanished a year later and how to prevent a return. In the meantime the White House moved to Seattle where American President James Kipper is frustrated with no answers and as is the case with the traumatized people struggling to endure, he fears what will happen if another such wave assaults the continent. Still he pushes forward with the greatest reconstruction project in the history of the world.
President Kipper visits the Declared Security Zone of New York where militia and pirates rule the city and the burbs, but is greeted by an assassination attempt. At the same time in the breakaway republic of Texas, farmer Miguel Pieraro follows the path to citizenship in the New America until an ethnic cleansing campaign led by a rogue army officer destroys his family. In England, American army officer Caitlin Monroe struggles to survive an assault on her life. Finally, in the wasteland of the Middle East comes a major threat to what is left of the world. Between lawlessness on the eastern seaboard and what is occurring overseas and in Texas, Kipper, a builder by heart, needs to find his warrior fortitude as he is reluctant to confront anyone with America still reeling; but ignoring the threats to local security will destroy the United States permanently.

The sequel to Without Warning is a terrific exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from start to finish. Heroes are everywhere from every walk of life whether they are city engineers turned POTUS, a Mexican-American farmer, an overseas officer and others risking their lives against ruthless lethal fully armed adversaries. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating post-apocalyptic tale that stands alone, but enhanced by reading what the wave caused first. Harriet Klausner

Black Swan Rising
Lee Carroll
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765325976

In her New York City neighborhood jewelry designer Garet James walks into a curio shop that she never noticed before. Owner John Dee notices the swan design on her ring is identical to that on an antique silver box that he cannot open. He asks her to open the box. Shortly afterward, three men with no whites in their eyes enter ner father’s art gallery and then her apartment. They take the box and her father is shot; he informs Garet they are demons who tried to take him over. Garet returns to the store, but it is shut and looks like it has not been used in years.

Garet sees a picture of billionaire Will Hughes and his home which has the same swan design on the arch as that of the ring and box. When they meet, he explains she is a guardian watchtower standing between two worlds fighting evil. Garet visits the Cloisters in the Bronx; where a manticore comes alive and bites her. Will tells her he is a vampire; his bite will rid her body of the deadly manticore toxin. He further explains he is tracking the demons Despair and Discord who came to this plane when the box was opened and are in the process of forming. Will wants to prevent them from spreading their malevolence and needs her help starting with her meeting King Oberon of the fairies.

Garet’s metamorphosis from designer to arcane warrior make for a fun urban fantasy as she sees fey on the city streets. Garet adapts to her new world order rather too easily as the heroine meets demons, elementals, air sprite, a mermaid, a dragon, a gnome and others while falling in love with a vampire. Fans will enjoy touring the streets of Manhattan and the Bronx with Garet as our guide. Harriet Klausner

Some Unusual Titles

Death’s Excellent Vacation
Edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L.P. Kelner
Ace, Aug 3 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441018680

This is a fun thirteen fantasy collection in which the paranormal go on vacations and have holidays that make the Griswold family and Monsieur Hulot seem tame. “Two Blondes” (by Charlaine Harris) Pam and Sookie go to a not so gentleman’s club in Mississippi for the weekend. Jim the demon (see Aisling Gray) heads to Paris for a good time but runs into “The Perils of Effrijim” by Katie MacAlister. The eight immortals get together as “The Boys Go Fishing” by Sarah Smith, but conclude drinking tea is easier. In “One for the Money” by Jeaniene Frost, hitmen Cat and Bones find their vacation interrupted protecting an heiress when the former’s mom arrives. You can’t go home if you want time out as affirmed by Toni L.P. Kelner in “Pirate Dave’s Haunted Amusement Park”, “The Demon in the Dunes” by Chris Grabenstein and “Home From America” by Sharan Newman. Readers will enjoy the amusing vacations of the supernatural as whether it is Bermuda (Lilith Saintcrow’s “The Heart Is Always Right”) or Port Arthur (“Seeing is Believing” by L.A. Banks), fans will want to accompany the paranormal when they go on Death’s Excellent Vacation tours. Harriet Klausner

The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer And The Undead
Mark Twain and Don Borchert
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $13.99
ISBN: 9780765327291

The plague turned people into zombies who could only be stopped by beheading them or shooting them in the head. People like young Tom Sawyer and his Aunt Polly adapted to the Zum as southerners called the zombies with some safety adjustments to normal living like sharpening the top of wooden fences. Tom ever the imp causing Polly and the townsfolk despair was punished for a misdeed by being forced to perform zombie antiterrorist fence sharpening, but conned the other lads into doing his work.

Tom, Huck and their friend play pirate on a nearby island. They stay for days and rumors spread amongst the townsfolk they were dead until they miraculously return home. Another time Tom and Huck get lost in a cave with Becky Thatcher and the Zum serial killer Injun’ Joe.

This is amusing historical fantasy uses the prime cast and story line from the Mark Twain classic, but adds Zum fever to the tale. The cast is solid, but the plot is clearly owned by the mischievous title character and his prime adversary the Undead Injun’ Joe serial killing Zum. Readers who enjoyed zombie invasion of the classics like the respective tales by Seth Grahame-Smith and Steve Hockensmith starring Jane Austen or W. Bill Czolgosz’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim will want to read Tom’s undead farce with Injun’ Joe. Harriet Klausner

The Last Page
Anthony Huso
Tor, Aug 17 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765325167

Twenty-three year old Caliph Howl is the heir to ruling the Duchy of Stonehold. He is proud of his work at school as he is set to graduate with honors; however, his perfect life plan is devastated when he meets upperclassman Sena. She is filled with magic and enthusiasm, but conceals her legacy that she does not quite comprehend. Abruptly she ends their relationship.

In the Seventh House coven, her Shradnae sisters prepare her for what they know is her rightful place in Stonehold as well as theirs. Her assignment is to spy on the new High King who is attracted to her. Obsessed with power, Sena is unaware of what she and her coven wrought when civil war ignites and the ancient Cisrym Ta text surfaces with implications that the mathematics of life and death will change existence. At the same time in the capital of Isca, inexperienced Caliph becomes the High King when the leader is forced to make deadly decisions that will harm the innocent; unaware of the return of Sena. He needs his blood to open the arcane tome.

The world constructed by Anthony Huso is a wonderful imaginary numerically design that readers will admire. The beauty if the Huso realm is fully appreciated when the math formulas of life and dead appear to be changing. Although at times the language seems purposely and to this reader illogically shocking, taking away from the overall fine fantasy, readers will enjoy Mr. Huso strong saga from the start to the Last Page as the logic of math applies to this world’s equation suddenly becomes an out of balance inequality. Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 16, 2010

Reviews from Barry

THE OVARY WARS, Mike Hogan, Peppertree Press, $15.95, 300 pages, ISBN: 9781936051847, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

It’s strange how some books come up with new ideas, yet remind you of other things you may see in the world or remember reading in other books. Sometimes the plot devices, however farfetched, come into fruition. More than once, a book has had terrorists sneak bombs into sports venues in order to forward their agendas. One book I read in the 1960s featured people strapping bombs to themselves and setting them off at crowded locales to show their commitment to their cause. No one ever thought “suicide bombers” would ever become a daily news item. Mike Hogan has come up with a new plot device that I hope remains in fiction.

American Kirby Wadsworth is a firm believer in population control and knows that his theories would never work, unless they were done covertly and kept completely under the radar. During a sabbatical in China, his plans are brought to the attention of the Chinese government and they begin a series of tests to try out Wadsworth’s solution. After a successful test on a group of Chinese women, they move forward with their plans to use the new drug to bring the United States to its knees.

As the cover states “How does a terrorist kill four million people? He Stops them from being born.” Ovamort causes the ovaries to shrink and die and makes the woman infertile, not temporarily, but forever. No births would turn into a population decrease, unemployment in certain sectors and a reduction in the need for goods.

The FBI gets involved and they finally tract down what is going on and eventually, after a couple of timing miss-steps, solve the case. Hogan also details the plight of a successful OB-GYN whose practice goes away with the declining birthrate. It’s a stunning and harsh look at what could happen.

This is Hogan’s first novel and he is off to a grand start. This novel should raise some discussion and I’m sure it will give each reader something to think about. Be on the lookout for it or contact www.peppertreepublishing.com for more details.

THE PAINTED DARKNESS, Brian James Freeman, Cemetery Dance, 176 pages, $19.99, ISBN: 9781587672088, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In the introduction by Brian Keene, he discusses art and makes his stance that good story telling is an art form just as much as paintings are. I’ve felt that way for years. Sometimes when you see a painting, you look at it and if it makes a good impression on you, it stays with you. Many books do the same thing and the ability to be a true wordsmith is the same as being a renowned artist. Either painting or book, an impression can be made and it can stay with you for years. That’s the lesson to be learned with THE PAINTED DARKNESS and it is also the heart of the story.

Freeman tells the story of Henry, who is so scared as a child, that he can only convey what he has seen in his drawings. As he grows up, he buries his memories and is now an artist who paints dark works for a living.

One night after a fight with his wife, she leaves taking their son with her. Henry tries to work out his frustrations, but his oil furnace in the dirt floored cellar cries for attention. As Henry goes to service the furnace, things begin to happen that cause Henry to remember that stormy, snowy day when the monsters first came out. Now it is returning and it is up to Henry to remember what brought them out the first time and if he can survive the confrontation.

Freeman has written a memorable tale of how our fears contribute to our creativity and what can happen if we wait too long to confront the. It is a touching and terrifying novel that will make an impression that will definitely last.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Book bloggers will soon be creating the bestseller list

Here's the latest commentary by Scott Nicholson. He makes some very good points. I have to agree on a lot of his points and hope to live long enough to see some of the changes he mentions come about.

The publishing industry has come a long way since I started reviewing books in the 1970s. Feel free to comment on the blog or email me at thebaryonreview@bellsouth.net.

Book bloggers will soon be creating the bestseller list

By Scott Nicholson

Writers love to give themselves labels, and bookstores love to use labels, and publishing industry types love labels. It's easier for slotting if something is "mystery," or "horror," or whatever happens to be trendy--like all the paranormal romance authors who used to be horror writers but are now writing "urban fantasy." Book bloggers also tend to have their favorites, and seek their own brands and communities through blog hops. Same stuff, different label.

No matter how trendy, most writers just want one label: "Best selling." It's practically a category of its own, and usually comes before any genre delineation, such as "best-selling romance writer" or "best-selling historian." Writers of best sellers often must cross genre boundaries to break out big enough to get the title. And it used to be easy to determine who was a best seller, because Publisher's Weekly and the New York Times told us. And book bloggers act in concert because they have taken on the role of newspapers in reviewing and promoting books. Naturally, they are going to have the same bestsellers as everyone else.

However, those numbers have never been "floor-level data." They are based on store orders, which is why books show up as bestsellers before you ever see them in the stores. It's based on units shipped more than units sold, and why a book produced, marketed, and shipped as a best seller rarely fails to be one. Even in the era of e-book bestsellers, the numbers are based on major publisher numbers and fails to account for all the independent outlets and all the books that don't even have tracking numbers. Amazon doesn't require a number for its e-books, and only the author and Amazon know how many units sold. Amazon does a great job of constantly updating data, so the actual, real-time bestseller list is based on the previous hour's sales.

I've hit #1 in the "Ghosts" category with three books, Speed Dating with the Dead, Drummer Boy and The Red Church. I've also hit #1 in the Christian Science Fiction & Fantasy list with The Red Church. Yet I hesitate to call myself a "bestseller" simply because that word has taken on loaded meaning in the industry and I feel like I would be corrupting its intent, even though it is literally true--no bestseller stays a bestseller forever, so it keeps that label merely from having once been a bestseller. Even if only for an hour. And some of the push is from the generosity of passionate book bloggers.

However, in lining up blog stops for the "90 Days of Nightmares" tour, I have started pointing out the books have hit #1--partly to overcome the perception that because these are basically self-published (through our collective press), they are somehow less legitimate and I am not a "real" author. Even though Amazon doesn't lie about such things, as far as I know!

So I use the stats, and I mention I used to publish with a "real" publisher. I promise you, based on sales and reader responses, I am more real now than I have ever been. I've been very lucky to find some passionate bloggers taking chances on indie or newer authors, without waiting to be told what's cool. I think the wheel is turning, and more and more book bloggers are going to help guide the indie ship--and, sooner or later, the indie ship is going to be the transatlantic liner. Bloggers have incredible power, and they haven't yet realized it beyond the nice cases of new books that show up every week from the big publishing houses. Some, like Kindle Nation Daily, Red Adept and Kindle Obsessed, are already riding the next wave and will become influential gatekeepers of their own.

Right now, it's still backwards--bloggers are sent new books and pretty much told what book to review when, which is why so many bloggers are reviewing and blogging about the same book at the same time. And, under the current industry system, it makes sense, because the publisher needs to push that book for a week to make room for the next bestseller. But when shelf space doesn't matter, and books are available 24/7 all around the world forever, a different type of ripple can form.

And that's where progressive bloggers are going to become the new gatekeepers, possibly more powerful than agents and editors (and, possibly in 5 to 10 years, more influential than the major buyers for the big chain bookstores). All it takes is a willingness to read and review a book for its own sake and with no promise of free "product" and giveaways. Bloggers, you're going to create the next generation of bestsellers! I think that is a precious gift and a beautiful service to literature. Indie bloggers will shape the indie scene in unforeseen and magical ways.

Now, time to go off and try to hit #1 again! Being a bestseller isn't what it used to be.

And book blogging hasn't even begun to be what it's going to be.

Scott Nicholson is the author of 12 novels, including The Skull Ring, Drummer Boy, The Red Church, and Speed Dating with the Dead. He's also written three story collections, six movie scripts, several children's books, and a number of songs and poems. He's a freelance editor and also writes comic books. Signed copies and ebooks, as well as digital comics, are available through his Web site www.hauntedcomputer.com, as well as Amazon.com and Smashwords.com.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

More Fantasy Titles

A Wild Light
Marjorie M. Liu
Ace, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019014

Every year, demon hunter Maxine Kiss kills a zombie on her birthday; the anniversary day of her mom’s murder. In Seattle, this year Maxine wakes up in bed next to Grandfather Jack Meddle’s bloody corpse. She recalls nothing about the previous evening, not even Jack wishing her happy birthday. Maxine soon finds other gaps in her memory as she has no idea who her soul mate, the Lightbringer Grant is. Adding to her trepidations, her five demons residing as tattoos on her epidermis are mute. Her worst fear is that she gone dark and killed her beloved grandpa.

Still Maxine needs to fill the holes in her head and get the “boys” communicating. She begins making inquiries and uncovers a potential calamity if not resolved yesterday; as the inner ring containing the demon horde inside is crumbling with Reaper Kings prepared to glean the harvest of souls.

The third Hunter Kiss urban fantasy (see The Iron Hunt and Darkness Calls) is a terrific entry that contains a powerful story line while also moving forward on the overarching theme. Readers will learn much about the heroine’s heritage as she investigates what happened to her and Jack. With a late great twist, fans will enjoy Marjorie M. Liu’s dark A Wild Light. Harriet Klausner

Total Eclipse
Rachel Caine
Roc, Aug 3 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463456

Weather warden Joanne Baldwin and her husband Djinn David defeated their enemy former weather warden Bad Bob (see Cape Storm), but at a price that she knows was too high. Besides her friends like Lewis becoming ill, she and David are stripped of their power, Djinn are dead in mass numbers, and the Black Corner of the planet no longer contains earth’s natural pulse. Their victory at all costs has come with an even greater price as Mother Nature is waking up from a long nap; outraged by the pollution that has destroyed much of the planet’s magic.

With the Djinn gone, no one can intercede to persuade Mother Nature to give mankind one more chance; her inclination is extinction of humanity and all other living essences. Leaving “Gilligan’s Island” (as she has no gowns anyway) to save the world, Joanne accompanied by her man David, her BFF Cherise and Cherise’s soul mate Kevin set out on a quest to prevent the end of times though they have no power beyond that of humans.

The ninth tale in the Weather Warden urban fantasy saga is a great finish that showcases why Rachel Caine is a master wizard. The story line is simple: save the world from a rightfully righteous fuming Mother Nature without any otherworldly powers. Fans of the long running series will relish the climax as Joanne and company find themselves in dire straits with no hope of success; however as she understands to hit a home run one must swing the bat and risk striking out; as not trying means out anyway. Harriet Klausner

Cast In Chaos
Michelle Sagara
Luna, Aug 1 2010, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803194

The City of Elantra’s influential are stunned when the powerless charlatans on Elani Street suddenly possess magical skills. Alarm spreads even by some of the new practitioners. This trepidation turns to abject fear when rains of blood come down from the sky and abnormal births become the norm.

The Oracles are confused as the leaders at the Dragon Court declare a homeland security emergency. The leadership concludes that something from outside is trying to penetrate the barriers between worlds. They also believe their response to prevent this from happening rests with Hawk elite force Private Kaylin Neya whose mysterious skin markings is postured to have the answers. Unintentionally somehow Kaylin enters a void that has been opened between worlds; here she meets the dark trying to crash through to the light of Elantra.

The sixth Cast “police procedural” fantasy continues the growth as a person of Kaylin who has a come a long way since her early days as a prejudicial cop on the Shadow beat. Although the story line is character driven by the courageous heroine, her efforts (and the prime plot) is to simply save the world. Fans of Elantra will want to soar with the heroine as her latest case takes several twists and spins. Harriet Klausner

Friday, August 13, 2010

New Reviews

The Reapers Are the Angels
Alden Bell
Holt, $15.00
ISBN 978-0-8050-9243-1

Fifteen years old Temple has learned one thing in her life; either one kills the zombies and other predators or they die. She can never remember a time before the Meatskins when the globe was relatively safe, but recalls the old man and her younger sibling before she was forced to begin her trek to nowhere.

At an alleged safe house, human Abraham Todd assaults her. Following her credo, she kills him but flees before his family or allies can come after her. Outraged by the teen’s murder of his brother, Moses vows to find, torture and kill Temple. On her trek, Temple finds a dim witted mute Maury who starts tagging along with her. She cannot shake him and soon feels responsible for his safety; as he brings back memories she would prefer to forget. Meanwhile Moses stalks her and the meatskin zombies chase her and her companion.

The world of Alden Bell is a dark place, a terrible place to live but Temple refuses to die so circumstances of survival has made her one of the fittest and toughest. Temple makes the grim convergence of horror with science fiction work as she seeks redemption instead of the remorse that fills her soul. Her journey is deadly battling predators of all kind; some who would rape and then kill her; other who would eat her to death. The Reapers Are the Angeles is an exciting fast-paced thriller that grips readers from start to finish. Harriet Klausner

Omnitopia Dawn
Diane Duane
DAW, Aug 3 2010, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756406233

By 2015, anyone who knows their name participates in multi-player on line games. The most popular of the interactive internet games is Dev Logan’s Omnitopia. There are so many players; the game has surpassed TV and movies as the number one entertainment outlet in the world. Millions not just play, but prefer the reality of Omnitopia to their “real” existence.

Dev and his crew begin a major upgrade to his game system. However, while working on the expansion, he is stunned to learn his creation is alive. Whereas he has always dueled with unscrupulous hackers, elected officials with false morals, and unprincipled industrial espionage operatives, he never lost sight that it was only a game. Now it is more than a game as he tries to keep the ruthless immoral thugs from murdering or kidnapping his “offspring”.

This is a terrific techno-thriller that uses the enthusiasm of game players to extract a near future in which on-line interactivity is the in thing. Although AI tales have starred frequently in books (Asimov) and movies (Spielberg), Omnitopia Dawn provides a fresh perspective due to a rotating 360 degree viewpoint. Fans will enjoy likable Dev’s efforts to protect his child while also seeing how players, the expansion crew, and the devious look at Omnitopia. Harriet Klausner

Stuff of Legends
Ian Gibson
Ace, Jul 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019304

In a world where magic exists, the leading form of entertainment comes from the traveling bards who sing about the adventures of heroes; courtesy of Central Casting. The most cherished champion throughout civilization is the incredible Jordan the Red who remains the best of the best even though he vanished two decades ago. Although no one seems to know where he is, people still love hearing his tales of daring do.

Jordon hopes to remain is hiding as he retired years ago. Unfortunately Eliot obsessively wants to meet his hero in order to join him on an adventure. His former Elfish babysitter Kess gives him abraid with strings of wishes. Jordan’s former agent sends the bard Cyral to chronicle Jordan’s comeback escapade. They all converge on Jordan who insists he is retired with no plans of a farewell tour. When an enemy of the reluctant retired hero abducts Elliot Jordan sighs because he knows he must intercede. From there his life goes catastrophic as all the enemies he defeated in his first heroic run have formed a gauntlet to kill Jordan. If he survives the horde, he next faces the dragon he once fought.

Stuff of Legends is a refreshing amusing fantasy in which the star is told to follow the script while his foes ignore the plot. However, the adventures are real so the hero can die (like John Wayne at the Alamo). Jordon was the best and has no desire to prove he still is until his agent lures him out of retirement the sleazy way. Although some of the jocularity fails to feel funny, fans of Robert Aspirin’s Myth-adventures and early Xanth will enjoy the lampooning of quest fantasies as with Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out For A Hero comes to mind, but what happens after hours. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Night Myst
Yasmine Galenorn
Jove, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515148145

With the murder of Marta the witch whose throat was ripped apart and the death two years ago of her mother Krystal, Cicily Walters can come home as her reawakening wolf wants to. She inherits Marta’s magic business. This would mean finally returning to her hometown New Forest, Washington after two decades on the road with mom. Reluctantly, she feels the time is right.

In New Forest, something strange is happening to the magic born. They are either dying or vanishing. The NFPD ignores what is going on to some of the citizens as does the vampire overlord. Worse, Cicily senses a different nefarious shadow lingering as fear owns the Cascades town. Cicily’s friend, Fae prince Grieve tells her to leave if she is smart and her aunt has been abducted and allegedly has become a blood thrall to the vampires; if she still lives. Not heeding Grieve’s advice, Cicily fights back but the fae-vampires are coming for her too.
The first Indigo Court urban fantasy is an entertaining tale that introduces the reader to a world filled with mythological species and magic. Cicily is a solid person who has doubts about coming home after her mom fled town with her as a child and replacing Marta. However, the rest of the cast feels overwhelmed by too much insight into the rules of magic and what each paranormal species can do. Still the opening supernatural war is fun to read. Myst has begun the end of days that will leave her ruling the world. Harriet Klausner

Bonds Of Justice
Nalini Singh
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235447

In New York, Councilor Nikita Duncan finds too coincidental the deaths of several of her closest advisors and employees in the Bay area. She sends enforcer Max Shannon to San Francisco to investigate the recent deaths in order to ascertain if they were murder as she suspects has occurred. Nikita trusts Max’s sleuthing skills and as important his ability to thwart Psy mental influences even though he is human.

Psy Justice operative Sophia Russo volunteers to assist Max although she knows that each new memory extraction may mean her death. She fully understands her mind is fracturing due to her hazardous work that also dramatically reduces life spans. This is due to the consequences of telepathic shields being lowered dangerously so the J agent can take down the barrier of the prey they extract their information from. Still she refuses to quit as she works closely with Max on his inquiry.

This is a great police procedural romantic urban fantasy entry in a terrific series that seems heading to a pandemic cataclysm. Max is terrific as he understands the glass ceiling for primitive humans in law enforcement, but has unique skills that make him perfect for this investigation. The star-crossed romance enhances a terrific mystery as the world of Nalini Singh is deeply explored through the primitive cop and the Psy Justice. Harriet Klausner

Cold Sight
Leslie Parrish
Signet, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451230744

Investigating a string of suspicious runaways, Granville Daily Sun reporter Lexie Nolan considers someone malevolent and sinister is behind the disappearances. As she digs deeper, her boss tells her to drop the story; stunning her as this has never happened before to the investigative journalist.

When another young girl Vonnie vanishes, Lexie knows she cannot live with herself if she quits. Instead she asks former Extrasensory Agent Aidan McConnell to help her find the latest missing person. Aidan informs Lexie he no longer searches for people after his last mission ended disastrously. However reluctantly he agrees to help as he finds himself unable to deny her anything. He has feelings he never allowed himself to have before he met sexy Lexie. They connect as they follow clues to Savannah.

This is an entertaining paranormal whodunit starring an intrepid reporter and a man with telemetric extrasensory psychometric abilities. The changing relationship between the pair is fun to follow as they investigate the abductions and murder. Although the villain is inane, fans will appreciate the first Extrasensory Agent urban fantasy romantic suspense due to the lead characters and Vonnie. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

More Vampire Novels

Demon Blood
Meljean Brook
Berkley, Jul 6 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425235478

Three hundred years ago in Florence, demons persuaded Rosalia’s father and brother to join their side. Her once beloved family turned tainted and tried to kill her. She survived and chose to defend humanity against demons and their horde by becoming a Guardian

Deacon the Vampire lost everything dear to him to a demon and wants revenge. He thirsts for vengeance so much that he has betrayed the Guardians. Rosalia asks for his help, but he refuses. She ignores his denial as Rosalia loves Deacon. However, besides feeling undeserving of her love, his contempt for himself leads him to believe Rosalia wants to use him to complete her mission and then dump him.

This is an excellent Guardian thriller that stars two delightful heroes. Deacon is excellent as a vampire seeking vengeance while Rosalia the Guardian understands him and wants to save him. Each believes their love is a privilege they must earn. His blood thirst has lined up strange bedfellows ready to destroy him and any allies assisting him. Readers will wonder whether he will learn in time that vengeance is tundra cold while love heats the heart as she is there for him as he struggles to be there for her, which he cannot if he continues his quest. Set aside time to read this wonderful tale in one sitting because, Meljean Brook has her fans hooked from the Bedtime Story summary of the past to the powerful finish.
Harriet Klausner

Twice Bitten
Chloe Neill
NAL, Jul 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451230645

Humans have recently learned that vampires live among mortals. Shapeshifters fear they will be next and debate how to handle what they anticipate will occur shortly.

In that regard to plan on the inevitable, Gabriel Keene, Apex of the North American Central shifters, has convened a conference of the packs to determine their best course of action. He also invites Cadogan House Sentinel Merit and master vampire Ethan Sullivan to attend as security as evidence is strong that an assassin is coming for him and terrorists plan on disrupting the convention. Though only a couple months since she was turned involuntarily, Merit takes her security work seriously, but has trouble focusing with arrogant Ethan nearby.

The third Chicagoland Vampires romantic urban fantasy) is an action-packed thriller that never slows down from its opening quick synopsis of the previous two biters (see Friday Night Bites and Some Girls Bite until the biting climax. The rookie vampire and her mentor (she would say tormentor) try to protect a leader of the other prominent paranormal species as many want to prevent an outing. Fans of the saga will fully relish Merit’s actions as she continues to adjust to her new life as an undead. Harriet Klausner

Pray For Dawn
Jocelyn Drake
Eos, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061851803

Daneus the millennium old vampire Hunter struggles with his feelings for the seven century old Nighwalker vampire Mira. Logically and instinctively she is his natural enemy yet his soul feels taken by her as neither can go for the final kill as she feels the same internal war.

Having returned from Spain to investigate the murder of a girl in Mira’s turn, Savannah, Daneus is confronted by three werewolves led by Nicolai. The Naturi has returned with the same mission as before to annihilate all races on the earth. The vampires and lycan must unite against a strong common enemy who just killed that girl as a calling card. As Mira is losing her grip on sanity and Daneus fears the Bori who possess half his soul and want the rest as a portal to this plane, the beleaguered pair teams up to try to save the planet without allowing the humans to know they exist or are in peril.

The fourth Dark Days urban fantasy (see Dawnbreaker, Dayhunter and Nightwalker) is a fabulous entry as all hell is breaking out in Georgia and elsewhere. Fast-paced throughout, readers will enjoy the switch from Mira’s viewpoint in the previous entries to Daneus’ perspective as the action never slows down and sets up the next book in Drake’s dramatic darkening, Wait For Dusk. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Interesting Titles from Harriet

Hell's Warrior
Jaye Roycraft
ImaJinn, May 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417554

Less than two decades ago Chicago was in a bloody war between the humans and the vampires. The city’s top vampire Che “Cade” Kincade managed to end the hostilities, but knows how quickly the streets can turn combative. Cade got Mayor Deborah Dayton elected as she ran on a peace platform and so far the blood has stopped flowing.

However, when Her Honor the Mayor is assassinated, Cade, who was receiving a donation from Red the blood whore, is blamed for her murder. He goes into hiding, avoiding the vampires of the city and CPD detectives seeking to arrest him. His loyal energetic assistant Thorvald Sweet the vampire and Red the human witness who can vouch for his alibi are with Cade as he moves from one place to another while trying to determine who wanted the peace movement ended. Cade and Red meet with a vocal anti-vampire group, but as they leave, violence erupts. Trusting no one, Cade continues his mission to keep his city from falling into a bloody conflation in honor of the late woman he loved.

All hell has broken loose in Chicago as it seems a new war is about to occur, but this time the heroic pair who ended the last combat are not there to stop the civil war. Ironically, Dayton’s policy of inclusiveness divided the city. Rotating between Cade’s fifteenth-year along the Illinois River in 1697 when he was different from his peers with a thirst to learn from the Black Robe with tomorrow’s struggles to prove his innocence without harming Red while trying to prevent another cross species inferno. Jaye Roycraft crafts a fangulous sequel to the fangtastic Half Past Hell. Harriet Klausner

Blood Curse
Crystal-Rain Love
ImaJinn, Mar 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417059

Vampire hunter Aria Michaels a mortal has dreamed of the same man for years. Lately her nocturnal fantasies have become so heated; they feel real to her leaving her wet with desire. He is Aria’s hope in an ugly filled world in which demons devastate the realm and vampires struggle to prevent them from doing so.

Rialto Renaldi believes the prophecy of Hope is a child’s inane fantasy. He rejects the Blood Revelation, which claims a vampire and his true mate will bring forth a child that will become a light to counter the growing darkness; in his mind the world is beyond saving. Rialto's mother knows in her heart that her son and Aria are the prophetic pair. However, they would be star-crossed lovers as she hunts his kind ever since a vampire killed her mother.

In spite of the author’s upbeat name, the world of Crystal-Rain Love to quote Marmalade in Reflections of My Life: “The world is a bad place … A terrible place to live” as this realm is dark and evil even with the light of love flickering to life. Fast-paced throughout starting with the iconic search for Poe’s cottage near Baltimore’s Inner Harbor the audience will enjoy the pair denying their feelings as she plans to use the star of her nocturnal dreams to enable her to hunt down her mother’s predator; and he wants to avoid the human his mom insists will fulfill the prophecy with him. This is an entertaining “Charm City” romantic urban fantasy as each will learn that there are much nastier things out there. Harriet Klausner

The Darkest Lie
Gena Showalter
Harlequin HQN, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774616

Like the other Lords of the Underworld who released Pandora’s Box, Gideon hosts a demon as his punishment. He is the keeper of Lies, which denotes unbelievable agony if he tells the truth. The Lord of Lies also has the ability to detect when someone else fabricates.

At their Budapest fortress, Scarlet Keeper of Nightmares arrives claiming she is Gideon’s wife. He is stunned because not only can he not remember her, he cannot tell if she is lying. His demon Lies is ecstatic with the saucy sassy sexy siren; Gideon wants her too but is much more cautious as he knows he must speak lies or feel the crippling pain. Hunters close in again while his teammates fear how Gideon behaves with Scarlet as a woman scorned is deadly so they want her dead but the Gods interfere with his truth seduction scheme.

Gideon is one of the more fascinating of the Underworld warriors as he talks in lies so needs a special woman who can translate what he is saying. He hopes Scarlet proves that she is that extraordinary female who knows when her beloved says hate he means love, but fears she will believe hate means hate. The story line is fast-paced but it is the characters who make it work as the audience receives an insider look at the Showalter pantheon with Gods like Cronos intruding. Fans of the saga will appreciate the tale of team Gidlet wondering if they will kill each other as The Darkest Lie is a strong entry in a deep darkening romantic urban fantasy series. Harriet Klausner

Bob Fingerman
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780765326270

Around the world in eighty seconds is what the zombie pandemic seemed like to those not bitten. It occurred so fast, zombie became the dominant species on the planet. Humans were food and forced to hide behind barriers. New York City, for instance, contains eight million of these reanimated dead and little pockets of hiding mortals.

In an apartment building in Manhattan, a few souls remain concealed, but are running out of water and food. From windows they can see the supermarket, but zombies hang out on the streets seeking fresh flesh. The besieged group see hope when a female teenage human walks freely while the zombies avoid her. Mona brings food and drinks as she moves in with the adults at 1620 York Avenue, but the danger remains constant.

This is an exciting fast-paced zombie horror tale that grips the audience early and never let’s up as it will remind readers of I Am Legend by Richard Matheson (and to a lesser degree the Will Smith movie). The vivid opening in which zombies walk the streets while humans are locked behind barriers is riveting with an implied social spin as to who owns the neighborhoods. Additionally with civilization collapsed, the humans trapped inside an apartment with no electricity prove horror comes in many shapes and forms as Bob Fingerman provides a taut thriller. Harriet Klausner

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dorchester Going Digital

Dorchester, a mass market paperback publisher since 1971, announced that it will shift away from print publishing, moving to print-on-demand and digital formats only, effective Monday August 9, 2010. Dorchester’s book unit sales dropped 25% in 2009, with declining orders from its primary retail outlets, including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Dorchester, known for its romance, paranormal romance, and horror titles, hopes to see digital sales double in 2011. (Reprinted from Locus.com and other sources)

Voodoo, Zombies and Vampires

Black Dust Mambo
Adrian Phoenix
Pocket, Jun 29 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439167878

Kallie Riviere enjoys her time at the New Orleans Hecatean Alliance’s carnival where she and other Hoodoo practitioners and Voodoo witches have fun and share experiences. She enjoys even more sharing her bed with Gage the nomadic outlaw biker conjurer with Gypsy blood and a fine butt (and other body parts). However, her euphoria ends abruptly when she finds Gage dead and soulless in her bed; triggering the memory from almost a decade ago when Mama fired a bullet into Papa’s head and tried to kill her too back in Bayou Cypres Noir.

In the present Kallie concludes she was the target of the killing soul sucker. With her best friend Belladonna accompanying her and covering her back, she fears for her childhood buddy Dallas, as she assumes he may be on the hit list too. The two BFFs search for Dallas while eluding a deadly malevolent being who wants to suck Kallie’s soul from her; and has no compunctions about doing likewise to Bella while Gage’s clan brother Layne seeks vengeance at a time when Lord Augustine is determined to possess Layne’s body in order to avoid having to leave this plane. More frightening is the clues lead back to her Tante Gabrielle who took her in when she became an orphan and has mentored her and her cousin Jacks in Hoodoo.

This super opening gamut in the Riviere urban fantasy hooks readers from the opening scene of finding her lover in bed dead and never slows down as the heroine believing she was the intended target of the Black Dust Mambo magic begins her inquiry. The support cast is solid though this is clearly Kallie’s star as Adrian Phoenix starts her new saga with a strong magical mambo murder mystery. Harriet Klausner

Zombie Moon
Lori Devoti
Silhouette Nocturne, Jul 1 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618385

Samantha Wagner wants to save her best friend Allison from the evil doctor. The madman is changing people into zombies that he controls. She has little hope of succeeding and in fact fears she will instead become another converted lost soul, but will not give up the fight.

Samantha believes she has a break when she meets werewolf zombie hunter Caleb Locke who lost his beloved family to the voracious zombie horde. She fools him into leaving with her. However, Caleb quickly figures out Samantha’s ruse and gets her to confess why. He agrees to try to rescue Allison and others about to be changed, but is unable to persuade Samantha he should go it alone. As they work together, they fall in love, but he fears her reaction to learning what kind of monster he is

Zombie Moon is an exhilarating urban fantasy romance that takes off from the opening gun when the lead couple meet while encountering zombies by a dumpster and never decelerates as the pair risks their lives to try to save Allison and his “monsters” from a lunatic. Samantha and Caleb are courageous soulmates dedicated to their respective cause. Fans of zombie romantic suspense thrillers will appreciate this terrific tale as Caleb knows his inner monster recognizes just who Samantha is to him, but also believes revealing what he is will kill him because she will leave horrified by his revelation.Harriet Klausner

The Vampire’s Kiss
Vivi Anna
Silhouette Nocturne, Jul 1 2010, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618392

In Nouveau Monde, NMPD investigator Olena Petrovich is excited as this is her first time on a case as the lead. She and her team look into the crime scene at the Nouveau Monde National Bank where people were put inside the vault before the safety deposit boxes were exploded apart. Thus when Interpol inspector Cale Braxton arrives to take command from her in solving a vampire homicide, Olena is fuming as she knows how rare her boss Inspector Gabriel Bellemonte delegates the lead. To make her even angrier is her attraction to Cale.

Olena is a professional so she will not hamper the case. They team up and follow clues starting with victim’s plan to sell a computer virus, but backed away from doing so. The two law enforcement officials believe the non sale led to the murder. Making the case more complicated is their need to keep the witch niece of the vampire safe from the killers who think she might have what they demand

From start to finish the latest Otherworld police procedural fantasy romance (see is a terrific tale that continues the escapades in Europe’s Nouveau Monde (see The Vampire’s Quest) after leaving the States’ Necropolis (Blood Secrets and Dark Lies). The story line is fast-paced but made to feel real as the Otherworld paranormal species and humans interact as if that is normal. The whodunit and why are cleverly designed as once again time is running out to prevent ruthless killers from murdering more innocents in their quest for something that eludes the two law enforcement officials chasing the villains and each other. Harriet Klausner

Grave New Day
Lina Gardiner
ImaJinn, Jun 15 2010, $14.00
ISBN: 9781933417561

Remorseful NYPD secret vampire Police Captain Jess Vandermire knows she owes John “Britt” Brittain who saved her life, but died doing so. Even though his body has not been found, she plans on giving Britt the best funeral send off she can. Jess also relooks hiding her existence and even her police work as that no longer feels the same to her.

Because she has a partial soul thanks to Regent her brother, Jess has a partial soul and so feels regret and guilt over Britt’s death. She knows that makes her unique as other bloodsuckers kill without a second thought. Jess buries Britt’s empty casket. The only other attendee is a stranger to her, Zeke who insists he is Britt’s friend and has plenty to tell her about choice between returning to human being or remaining a vampire to fight an ancient evil threatening all humans. However; her police instincts tell her not to trust this informant while fearing failure to heed Zeke’s guidance could mean mankind’s extinction; adhering to it might mean the end anyway.

The third Vandermire Vampire Hunter is a fast-paced urban fantasy that grips fans of the series from the beginning to the cliffhanging climax that ties up some threads, but adds new danglers. Action-packed, the Gardiner universe expands but newcomers will be lost as this super saga must be read from the Grave start to fully comprehend what is happening especially to the heroine. Harriet Klausner