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

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