Sunday, October 31, 2010

Scott Nicholson: Disintegration

DISINTEGRATION, Scott Nicholson, Smashwords by Haunted Computer Books, 171 pages,, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Ever since I read the Hubbard Writers of the Future award winning “The Vampire Shortstop”, I was hooked on Scott’s writing. He takes the everyday things we take for granted, turns them on their ear and makes them into extraordinary stories.

This story is no exception. It opens with a father’s worst fear, that of a fire raging in their home and it’s between him and his daughters’ room. The next thing he knows is when he wakes up in the hospital covered in second and third degree burns and his wife tells him their daughter didn’t make it.

If all that is not bad enough, the fire department is looking into the fire, we learn he has money problems in his business, and the child was insured for $1,000,000. Add in an absent (?) twin brother who left town in disgrace, another child that died in its crib about a year ago, and his wife not being too happy with the circumstances.

Scott adds in several twists and turns to give us a novel that ends quite differently from what I expected. Pick this one up and become a Scott Nicholson fan if you aren’t already.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Taken By Midnight, Bond With Me, and Tastes of Love & Evil Reviews

Taken by Midnight
Lara Adrian
Dell, Sep 28 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780440245278

The Ancient, one of eight otherworlders, came to earth and created vampire sons when they procreated with native women possessing the breedmark. He escaped captivity and held former Alaskan state trooper Jenna Darrow for hours. He did things to her mind and body that will have long term repercussions. As she nears death, he places an implant inside her; which winds within her skull and spinal column. After the Order vampire police rescued her, medical experts in Boston determine the implant is part of her body having altered her DNA.

She proves strong, faster, and can do things humans cannot. Throughout her ordeal, Brock takes care of her especially with relieving her pain. He begins to have feelings that he does not want as she can never be his breedmate so he rationalizes to himself this is only sex. While the Boston order tries to figure out what the implant is, the vampires fight their biggest enemy Dragos who has an army of Gen-Y warriors. The breedmates fight their adversaries as powerfully as their vampire husbands do fending off Dragos’s attacks and trying to figure out where Dragos and his army are.

Lara Adrian is one of the top urban fantasists on the market today with her Midnight Breed series (see Shades of Midnight). The current entry is fast-paced and moves forward the overarching plot yet insures Taken by Midnight contains a complete enjoyable story line and three dimensional characters including besides the lead protagonists the villain. Brock and Jenna have experienced first hand tragedy and trauma, which brings realism as their relationship teeters because of their respective pasts. Ms. Adrian has written another fabulous thriller that goes on this reviewer’s shelf with all the rest of the works written by this very talented author. Harriet Klausner

Bond With Me
Anne Marsh
Leisure, Aug 24 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528582

Three thousand years ago, the Dominion angel guardians of Heaven’s throne were murdering their brethren rather than protecting them. With proof, Archangel Michael punishes the rebels by removing their wings and souls, and exiling them as half man and half beast goblins with little hope of return unless they are redeemed by their soul mate who must teach these fallen to love. Three millennia later by 2090 none have redeemed their souls.

At the exclusive G2 club in M City, Mischka Baron searches for her cousin Pelinor "Pell" Arden who she fears has bonded with a fallen angel, which she knows means they suck at your soul. Club owner Brends Duranov wants her from the moment he senses her, but to his shock, Mischka rejects him. Right before her refusal, Brends learned from his sire Zer that a rogue Goblin Changed and was killing human and the Fallen. Brends vows to find the serial killer, but soon has a stronger motive when Mischka becomes the target; as he believes she is the one for him.

Bond With Me is a superb romantic urban fantasy with a strong enchanting world and a solid cast. The story line is a fast-paced suspense thriller as the serial killer and Brends target Mischka for totally opposite reasons. Action-packed, the key element that makes Marsh’s land seen genuine is the goblins as these are soulless predatory beasts; of whom, for the most part, are unsympathetic. Harriet Klausner

Tastes Of Love & Evil
Barbara Monajem
Love Spell, Sep 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780505528629

Males cannot resist the sexual lure of Rose Fairburn the vampire. On the lam, she thirsts for blood and sex. She left Chicago for Louisiana in hopes of meeting her dream man.

She meets Jack Tallis who is unique as the only man who can resist the lure of Rose even after she used her tongue to lick away his blood and close a wound he received. He hides from her that he desires her.

They flee together as underworld assassins want both dead. As each struggles to trust the other, a feeling neither is comfortable with, they meet Juma. She is hiding from her grandmother and has bigger trust issues than Rose and Jack combined. The threesome conceals their darkest secrets while being chased by deadly killers.

Tastes of Love & Evil is an entertaining romantic fantasy starring an intriguing trio on the run who hide their inner most demons from one another. The two adults are a fine fascinating pairing as he is the first male who can keep her at arm’s length. Although Juma as a young girl seems genuine, her constant whining becomes irritating. Readers will enjoy this fine thriller. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Some Unusual Reads

Shades of Milk and Honey
Mary Robinette Kowal
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765325563

In England, plain-looking twenty-eight year old Jane Ellsworth is jealous of her beautiful sister Melody’s looks. On the other hand, although she has some talent Melody is envious of Jane's magical glamour ability.

Vulgar glamour artist Mr. Vincent is commissioned to create living murals in a nearby mansion. Reticent when it comes to males, Jane wants Mr. Vincent to mentor her in glamour usage; she also is attracted to him and wishes he would reciprocate. However, she has a minor hope he will tutor her and no hope he will desire her as men want Melody. On the other hand she is concerned with one of Melody’s myriad of admirers who seems nasty with a personal agenda that she fears will harm her sibling.

This is an interesting ironic look at Regency-like England ( for that matter it could be any society in which the aristocracy eats cake and everyone else battle over their crumbs) through a fantasy lens. The characterization is solid and the sense of being there is strong as the descriptions are vivid. The key to the story line is the ironic use of glamour by the aristocracy not to improve society but for selfish cosmetic use. Although the story line at times slows down with the excesses of the affluent, readers will enjoy what happened to Jane as she seeks her glamour groove. Harriet Klausner

The Questing Road
Lyn McConchie
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765322111

Kyrryl, her husband Yoros and his niece Ashara seek to rescue the kidnapped child Ashara. The brave trio follows a path, but initially is unaware that the trail leads them though a portal opened by a desperate wizard from another world to their realm.

At about the same time that Kyrryl and her companions cross over, brothers Sirado and Eilish, and companion Trasso are enjoying a ride together when they unknowingly cross through a portal to the same world that the rescue party traversed. A cat goddess endows the six travelers with the ability to speak the local language. When the two groups meet, they agree to unite on their respective journeys. The sextet soon encounters local merchants Anatiah and Kaitlen. The latter pair hides escaped slave Aycharna. Now a party of nine, they seek the missing Ashara, unaware that a wizard took her as an animal sacrifice, and hope to return Aycharna to her home before returning to their various homes.

This is an intriguing quest fantasy due to the kidnapper unaware the beast he snatched from the other world to use as a sacrifice has loving sentient family members wanting her home safe and sound. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the trek begins and never slows down as the teams unite in a common cause of helping two young females. Although feline-like deities making the key decisions for the travelers detracts from their expedition, as they have no difficult cultural-ethical differences between the groups from two worlds or choices to make, fans will enjoy the entertaining rescue missions. Harriet Klausner

The Double Human
James O'Neal
Tor, Jun 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765320155

Due to overseas intervention, anthrax deployment in malls, oil dictatorships and domestic political discord at home, the once United States is disintegrating. In this increasingly lawless society in which the central government is non-existent and New York City is a wasteland, terrorist anthrax attacks supplemented by radical climate changes have turned Miami into a deadly anarchistic "Quarantine Zone".

Florida United Police Force detective Tom Wilner enters this dead zone in search of the serial killing "the Vampire", who is Undead. There he meets benevolent teacher Mari Saltis of Columbia who refuses to leave the Quarantined Zone as she feels the children need her. As their attraction flourishes within this dark area, the insane predator he chases after wants both of them dead.

This is an entertaining futuristic science fiction-horror police procedural that requires leaving the plausibility at home. The story line is filled with action-packed subplots although some are left dangling (like that of the alien arrival) for a sequel. James O’Neal provides some of the back story as to what happened to Southern Florida and elsewhere as civilizations collapsed; thus this dystopian thriller can stand alone but is enhanced by first reading its predecessor The Human Disguise. Harriet Klausner

The Osiris Ritual
George Mann
Tor, Aug 3 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765323217

In 1902 there is plenty of excitement in the air of London as an odd mummy is arriving from Egypt. The sarcophagus containing the mummy is marked with dynamic colors and strange enigmatic symbols. Like many others British Museum curator Sir Maurice Newbury watches in wonder as the mummy is delicately unwrapped. He muses as rags are dropped to the floor that this is more fun than the battle with the automons last year (see The Affinity Bridge). When the final bandage drops to the floor, the skeleton begins screaming in rage for the horror of being buried alive.

Soon afterward, someone murders the expedition’s leader and an agent coming in from the cold of Russia vanishes. Putting on his other hat as a secret crown investigator Maurice and his assistant Veronica Hobbes seek clues to the homicide, the disappearances and more while wondering if his dangerous predecessor Dr. Knox is the link between all. As Newbury researches the arcane symbols, Hobbs works the case of disappearing women.

The second Newbury-Hobbes late Victorian investigative urban fantasy is an exciting action-packed tale with a load of corpses seemingly everywhere in London. The prime subplots are fast-paced as the Queen’s detecting duet work together and separately on the cases. Although at time over the top of Big Ben, fans will appreciate this rousing thriller. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Unusual Reviews From Harriet

Jacquelyn Frank, Kate Douglas, Jess Haines and Clare Willis
Kensington, Sep 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420109870

“Phoenix Project” by Jacquelyn Frank. Amara regrets becoming part of the Phoenix Project as the experiments have led to attacks and rapes though it has not happened to her so far. She is paired with undercover Federated States cop Nick. In spite of being watched, they both bite one another as they have been turned into vampires with a desire for each other.

“Crystal Dreams” by Kate Douglas. Banker Mari heads to Evergreen to take over her mom’s store while her dad heals. Mica of Kronus uses his crystal sword to kill demonkind leaving the abyss to enter earth. When some get past his effort, he goes to earth. A cat attacks Mari. Mica rushes into the store and kills the demon possessing the cat. Attracted to each other, he calls her a warrior.

“Speak of Temptation” by Jess Haines. Royce the vampire hires private investigator Sara to find out who is trying to sneak into his vampire nightclub the Underground and why. His security chief Angus shows her a photo; she says this is a rival investigator Joe. Sara calls Joe who warns her to stay away from the Anti Others Alliance who hunt the Others, but do not worry about collateral damage.

“My Soul to Take” by Clare Willis. In San Francisco, Maggie is the chief resident of the psychiatric unit. Her patient Derek insists he is possessed by Edgar. Derek tells her he died in a fire, but came back with a hitchhiking soul joining him. They begin to make love until she sees Edgar take over take over the body. Maggie asks her sister Eva to help her save her beloved.

These four romantic urban fantasies are fun to read, but the novella format limits character development. Harriet Klausner

Claire Delacroix
Tor, Aug 31 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9780765359513

In 2100 Armand is a fallen angel who knows what he must do to regain his wings that he sacrificed to save mankind. To rejoin the exclusive club, Armand and his fallen angel partner Baruch must assassinate Maximilian Blackstone, who is running for president of the Republic. Nothing goes right and Baruch is severely hurt.

If the credit is right Theodora the wraith will kill. However, though her clients assume she is a hedonist seeking blood stained credit while ignoring the fact they hire her to do their dirty work; she has a secret motive to provide for her loved ones that if revealed would make her vulnerable to nasty sorts; so she hides from everyone while doing the kills others prefer not to do. As the government’s eyes are everywhere, Armand and Theodora team up. They soon begin to understand what is divine and what is human.

The third futuristic angelic post-apocalyptic thriller (see Fallen and Guardian) is a great tale due to the pairing of the fallen angel who gave up everything to save humanity but wants a second chance at heavenly redemption and a hit woman wraith with a hidden altruistic agenda. Both sacrificed a lot for others, but their call for duty brings them together as The Republic is at a crossroad with the pending election as are Armand and Theodora. Harriet Klausner

Kate Douglas
Zebra, Sep 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420110005

For his role in the escape of the former demon Dax and the human Eddy Marks from a Lemurian prison, Alton the son of the ruling Chancellor, was sentenced to death. He would have preferred to have persuaded his father and the Council of Nine of the long term danger to their world by the increased demon activity, but does not rue his choice even if he dies for it. His action against the demon horde activated his crystal sword HellFire, converting it from a seemingly inanimate though actually dormant to an intelligent speaking species.

Alton also admits he is attracted to the human Ginny Jones, who is passionate about life; unlike females of his species. He sent her to safety to Sedona using hypnosis, but has learned a new portal has allowed demons to invade earth possessing animals. With Ginny at his side and hellfire as his weapon he fights the demons, which is the easier task than persuading the Council of Nine that not just earth is endangered as Lemuria is the obvious next stop once the evil ones defeat the humans.

The latest DemonSlayers romantic fantasy (see DemonFire and the novella Crystal Dreams in Nocturne) is an enjoyable thriller that continues the few rebellious Lemurians risking their lives to save humanity from the invading demon horde. The matching of Alton and Ginny is fabulous as he assumes her being female she will be dainty like those of his race, but instead she kicks demon butt. Though somewhat similar to DemonFire in tone, readers will enjoy HellFire as the war of the worlds continues on battlefield earth. Harriet Klausner

My Soul To Keep
Sharie Kohler
Pocket, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439101599

In Paris her father was abusive to everyone especially his family. In that cruel world, Sorcha the half-breed Lycan grew up distrusting everyone. In fact only her father’s top assistant, half-breed Jonah was ever nice to Sorcha. She never forgot the kindness he gave her.

Twelve years later, Widow Sorcha seeks to avenge the murder of her husband that she blames on a demon-witch who cursed the Lycan. The person she wants to murder is under the protection of Jonah who thought his Sorcha was dead and felt guilty all these years for failing her. They have not seen each other in what seems to each as forever, but their attraction that both avoided in the past explodes between them. As they fall in love, Sorcha and Jonah must move beyond their pasts if they want a future preferably together especially when someone wants both dead.

The lead couple is a terrific pairing as they have a past that ended tragically and seemingly no future second chance at love since they are adversaries. The story line focuses deeply into the souls of Jonah and Sorcha so the action is somewhat muted. Still fans of the Moon Chasers urban fantasy woo enjoy this spellbinding tale. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Star Trek Manual

Star Trek U.S.S. Enterprise, Owners Workshop Manual, Ben Robinson and Marcus Riley, editors, Michael Okuda-Technical Consultant, Haynes and Gallery Books, $27, 160 pages, ISBN: 9781451621297, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

For all you Trekkers, Trekkies, and science fiction fans, here’s the first book to put on your Christmas wish list. This volume is a look (inside and out) at the various incarnations of the starship that has carried the Enterprise name.

This volume is profusely illustrated with photos from the various series the ships appeared in and cutaway diagrams of the ships and operational history. Also included are systems overviews and some of the theory behind the operations of the various drives and how time travel was achieved in certain adventures.

Haynes is well known for their workshop manuals and this volume is no exception to their previous works. The book is filled with new artwork and cutaways and Michael Okuda has worked for over twenty years on the series and movies, this makes this as factual as you can get.

Don’t pass this one up. It will be a perfect stocking stuffer.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Reviews from Harriet

Crown of Crystal Flame
C.L. Wilson
Avon, Oct 26 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062018960

At a time when the adversary, the malevolent Eld Mages, seems not just ready to attack, but overwhelmingly poised to win, the alliance between the Fey and Celieran splinters. At the same they fear their side will break apart the alliance, Rain Tairen Soul and Ellysetta Baristani struggle on a personal issue as they have failed to finish their mating bond, which if not done soon will lead to their deaths.

Meanwhile the Malevolent High Mage Vadim Maur knows his scheme is working as everything is coming together. The conquest has begun as his evil horde marches across the fading lands killing anything in their way and leaving wanton destruction behind. Ellysetta refuses to give up on love, on her people, on the alliance and on herself as she plans to write her destiny in order to save those she cherishes.

The finale to the great Tairen Song saga is a superb climax to the strong quartet. Somehow C.L. Wilson ties up the overarching fantasy on a larger than life plane yet this brilliant author also provides a deep personal look at the key players in a desperate quest to save their world risking their lives. Only the love between Rain Tairen Soul and Ellysetta Baristani keeps this pair going against the hopelessness of the overwhelming darkness that engulfs their world. Harriet Klausner

Twilight Forever Rising
Lena Meydan
Tor, Sep 28 2010, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765326799

In 2004, a prime reason the Dahanavar vampire clan is one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, of the ruling ten bloodsucker families is the unnatural skills of Darel even with each brood have all sorts of mages and paranormal aptitudes. He is an extraordinary empath who can read emotion and at times thoughts. Thus his brood knows ahead time what their rivals are plotting although for centuries there has been an uneasy peace as the various clans enjoy mutual prosperity not overt hostility.

However the feral chieftain Miklosh of the House of Nachterret believes his rivals are weak settling for shadows. The chief wants world domination, but step one is to eliminate Darel before he learns of the nefarious multifaceted plot. Once the mind reader is dead, the clans will fall next and then the rest of the sentient races especially the human sustenance will follow as he believes vampires are the highest step on the food chain and Nachterret are the acme of them all. The key to destroy Darel is through Lenore, the human female he cherishes.

This is a super translation of a Russian vampire thriller in which the Meydan world of competing vampire clans to include special paranormal ones comes across as genuine. Darel is the focus of the first Vampire Clans saga as Nachterret knows he must be murdered, but to do so Malevolent Miklosh needs a specific expendable human pawn. The relationship between Lenore and Darel seems undeveloped especially as this is the catalyst behind what the hero's actions are and what happens between the Ten vampire clans as manipulated by Miklosh. Harriet Klausner

Betrayer of Worlds
Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner
Tor, Oct 12 2010, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765326089

The Puppeteers sort of lead the mass exodus of the “Fleet of Worlds” away from the supernova spreading increasingly wider at an accelerating speed from the galaxy’s core. Even in flight, some choose fight. Achilles though humiliated with his failed machinations proving embarrassing still believes he is destined to rule the Puppeteer worlds.

The feral genocidal Pak also flees the core; they willingly stop to attack other species especially the weak Fleet of Worlds running for their lives. The Gw’oth whose technological advances in the past two centuries (local time) is impossible yet continues to exponentially grow; they stand in the way of the fleeing Fleet of Worlds. Finally, the rebellious pathetic humans on Nature Preserve Four embarrass the cowardly Puppeteers as these apes are barely out of the caves. Desperation breeds strange bedfellows as insane Puppeteer scout Nessus recruits pill addicted human prisoner Wu and joins with megalomaniac Achilles to forge a partnership to end the war of all wars between three diverse alien races at a time when everyone needs to herd together to leave the galaxy post haste.

The latest prequel saga to the Ringworld Known Space science fiction series (see Destroyer of Worlds) is a strong complicated entry (even with a glossary, names are a mess to follow) as four sentient species are on the verge of when worlds collide. Ironically in spite of the obvious superiority of the three alien races, the human Wu and the insane puppeteer Nessus understand that cooperation is the only means of survival with the supernova coming; as either all four races endure together or die. Fans will enjoy learning why Wu was wooed years later in Ringworld as Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner provide a strong entry; newcomers need to at least read the prequel tales like Juggler of Worlds to ascertain the galaxy meltdown. Harriet Klausner

Friday, October 22, 2010

Tanya Huff, Karen Travis and Robert Gleason/Junius Podrug new books

The Truth of Valor, Tanya Huff, DAW, Sep 2010, $24.95, ISBN: 9780756406202

The war between the Confederacy and the Others has been going on for a long time. Gunnery Sergeant Torin Kerr was proud of serving as a Confederacy marine because she believed in the cause. She eventually learns that both fighting forces were part of a scientific experiment by sentient plastic beings, who hide in plain sight amidst the abundance of plastic products. These insidious beings are exposed, but Torin leaves the marines anyway to become a salvage operator with her lover Craig Ryder.

The end of the war left a power vacuum especially in the outer reaches of space. Pirates filled the void; stealing and pillaging ships, Cho captured an armory that is code locked by the CSO officer and when he kidnapped someone who could open it, he used too much force on the mperson who died from the torture. Now Cho abducts Ryder; Torin vows to find and rescue him. Ryder knows what his beloved will do so will not abet Cho with the armor he wants to deploy. He waits for her to come and get him.

Having left the Confederation military, The Truth of Valor is Torin’s first civilian adventure and though no longer a powerful military science fiction, the heroine’s enthusiasm and diligence remains as strong as ever in this veteran outer space thriller. The spin from marine to vet refreshes the Valor Confederation series as Torin and Ryder begin a new phase in their lives together. Fans of the series will appreciate Tanya Huff’s talent as she uses the frightening premise of a rogue killer obtaining a nuke as the underlying premise of her heroine’s rescue attempt of her beloved while a psychopath pirate possesses weapons of mass destruction. Harriet Klausner

Gears of War: Anvil Gate, Karen Travis, Del Rey, $16.00, ISBN: 9780345499455

The Locust Horde has been apparently destroyed at a high cost to the victors (see Aspho Fields and Jacinto’s Remnant). Those who survived begin the arduous seemingly impossible task of rebuilding human civilizations using the fortifications of the defeated enemy as the anchor.

The survivors contend with pirates and outlaws, but having triumphed against a much stronger opponent, the Gears barely blink from a minor threat. However, the idyll of victory ends abruptly as Gears leader Marcus Fenix learned of a new menace much greater than the Locus Horde who feared this adversary. This beast is stalking sentient beings as it marches towards the remote island where the Gears and Stranded must cooperate in what could be last stand using the siege tactics of the Anvil Gate.

The latest Gears of War novel (see Aspho Fields and Jacinto’s Remnant) tied to the games is a terrific entry as Karen Travis provides a fascinating spin to the military science fiction saga. Marcus is marvelous as he is stunned to learn of the existence of a predator that frightens the fearless Locus Horde; whatever this species is he figures is bad news as your enemy’s enemy remains your enemy. Fans of the full Gears of War universe will want to read the exhilarating fast-paced Anvil Gate as things have gotten dramatically worse for Marcus and his crew. Harriet Klausner

Gary Jennings’ The 2012 Codex, Robert Gleason and Junius Podrug, Forge, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765322609

Before the Spanish came to what is now Mexico, Montezuma built a vast empire to which all lords paid tributes in slaves for blood sacrifices and other valuable commodities. In a small village in Maya, Lord Jaanab visits and almost loses his life to a jaguar. Pakal, a stone cutter and storyteller, saves his life. As a reward he is taken into the lord’s personal guard. They journey to Mayapan where the King holds court. Pakal learns his fellow storyteller Ajal, who mentored him, was Jeweled Skull who took the Dark Rift Codex and hid it.

Lord Jaanab knew who Akul was and he does not believe Pakal failed to know who is teacher was and where the Codex is. Rain is not falling; rivers are drying up; water is scarce; volcanic activity has risen; and anger is fermenting. The Codex supposedly tells how the world of the Aztecs and Mayans will end; by reading it they can perhaps prevent the next step of the prophecies from happening.

In present day Mexico, Rita Critchlow and Cooper Jones are searching for the Codex that Pakal concealed. The problems that escalated in Pakal’s times are prevalent today. Once they get the book, they plan to email American government officials in the hopes of finding out why this is happening and how to prevent it from running its deadly course.

Most of the book takes place in the time of Pakal before the Spanish Conquistadors destroyed the civilization; thus readers learn a lot of the Mayan and Aztec culture of a millennium ago in this entertaining historical fiction. Very few chapters occur in the present and those that do focus on the Codex that has a Revelations like feel to it. The 2012 Codex is an enthralling adventure thriller. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

An Artificial Night, Secret of the Dragon's Claw and Will Power reviews

Will Power
A.J. Hartley
Tor, Sep 14 2010, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765321251

The Diamond Empire guards have Will Hawthorne and his gang of thieves at the Waterman, he knows they are lost as the doors crash open. However, they escape as they scatter across the city. Will owes his life to Mithos. At the Fisherman’s Arms, they meet Ambassador Linassi who manages to get them out of the city.

When Linassi’s coach stops, Will or Mithos has no idea where they are as this land is different than anything he has ever seen. He and his comrade are welcomed by the Fair Folk who are at war with the Goblins. Since the fair Folk are very nice to them and look human while the enemy looks like a horror version of Goblins, the outsiders assume they are on the side of the good guys. However, Will begins to doubt what he initially accepted as gospel although the beer is quite good.

This is a superb tale as the antihero manages to land in one misadventure after another. The story line is incredibley fast-paced and the incidents purposely exaggerated. With the jocular escapades, fans will toast (with beer of course) as A.J. Hartley cleverly weaves throughout the strong saga a warning to never judge a book by its cover as Will begins to wonder who the monsters truly are. Harriet Klausner

Secret of the Dragon's Claw
Derek Hart
iUniverse, Apr 2010, $16.95
ISBN: 9781450224239

In wintry 1941, Hitler’s air force is bombing England as the Americans enter the war due to the Pearl Harbor attack. A trio of fourteen years old buddies (Gavin Kane, Emily Scott, and Bunty Digby) are friends with eccentric dragon Sir Thaddeus Osbert, who knows his human allies have a specially destiny.

In Germany, Himmler has a black dragon that he uses on missions against the allies. He also uses the dark arcane arts egged on by an invisible apparition to open a rift between worlds. Himmler makes a pact with the dark witch Agnes Olmorri, who once fought against King Arthur. She journeys to England to cause havoc from within. Meanwhile former powerful wizard Lanken Rune is helpless except for his new allies, a sugar addicted dragon and three teens, as he lost his staff Elizabeth and his skills. Yet in his true form takes on Agnes while the Nazis come ever closer to blitzing England.

Adults and young readers will appreciate the third spellbinding Secret of the Dragon World War II fantasy (see Secret of the Dragon’s Breath and Secret of the Dragon’s Eye). Sir Thaddeus is great unique character determined to protect England though the Dragon’s Council forbids his interference. Lanken has learned the hard way Lord Acton’s theory that that power corrupts as he is freed from a lengthy imprisonment while the three teens find out what their destinies are. Derek Hart continues his deep urban historical fantasy saga rooted in the impact of the war on North Cornwall. Harriet Klausner

An Artificial Night
Seanan McGuire
DAW, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780756406264

Half-fae detective Sir Toby Daye the changeling is stunned and despondent to meet May Daye, a magical doppelganger whose encounter means the sleuth’s death will come shortly. Even before she reacts to meeting the Fetch, she learns the Lord of the Wild Hunt Blind Michael has abducted numerous fae and human children as a source to replace his depleted riders.

Since some of the kidnapped are part of her extended family, an outraged Toby plans to challenge Blind Michael though that is a very dangerous notion as there are three roads to this powerful essence, but none can be used twice. She tracks him on the deadly Faerie Roads which is his element and on the streets of San Francisco, which sadly is also his element. On her treacherous quest, Toby is renewed with new supporters risking their lives to further the chance of success of her mission.

The third October Daye (see Rosemary and Rue, and A Local Habitation) is a fabulous private investigative urban fantasy. Toby, who has been burned by both sides of her DNA, is foolishly brave, kick butt tough and spunky sass as she traverses the roads of no return; while knowing deep in her soul failure could prove worse than death because she might be trapped as part of the Wild Hunt. An Artificial Night is a strong Noir due to the heroine and her tours of San Francisco and the land of Fairie as she works a perilous abduction case. Harriet Klausner

New Books from Susan Sizemore, Rob Thurman, and Kate Elliott

Primal Instincts
Susan Sizemore
Pocket, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9781416562146

Her Matris demands her daughter Francesca “Flare” Reynard continue their vampire line by carrying the next generation. Flare knows she has little choice but to obey. However, she plans to take advantage of modern technology and use artificial insemination.

Her mother rejects the concept of in-vitro. Instead she selects Prime Tobias Strahan as the sire of her grandchildren. The Matris directs Tobias to seduce her daughter and make her pregnant. The Prime argues that he has no time for Flare as he must keep his supernatural horde safe, but knows when to shut up, he plans to take his annoyance out on Flare. He never expected the flare of attraction that explodes between them as he once had a deep love and has a daughter while she now feels as artificial insemination is coldly clinical.

The latest Primal vampire romance (see Primal Needs, Primal Desires and Primal Heat) is exhilarating tale of two individuals who would like to ignore the Matris, but knows better and worse would prefer to pay no heed to their desire for one another. The story line is loaded with action on several subplot fronts. However, the prime plot holding the complicated tense novel together is the relationship between the protagonists. With a late wonderful twist that hopefully sets up the next Primal thriller as readers will to know the tale of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold”. Harriet Klausner

The Grimrose Path
Rob Thurman
Roc, Sep 7 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463494

To look at Las Vegas bar owner Trixa Iktomi, one would assume she is a beautiful female human. They would be wrong as she is a shapeshifting trickster who is not immortal but witnessed Pompeii die. Her partner is Leo, better known as Loki the Trickster God. Now this couple is human ever since Trixa used an artifact to kill the being who murdered her brother (see Trick of the Light). The artifact The Light of Life took their powers as it thought Loki might being with Trixa who needs four years to recharge her powers so she can use them again..

The demon Eli calls on Trixa to find out who are mass murdering demons. Angels, demons and Trixa and her friend Zeke the angel who left heaven and Gabriel the demon who left hell (the latter seeks redemption) map out the massacre of nine hudred and fifty-six demons in six months. If one thousand demon wings are put together they will form a map to where Lucifer hides in hell and the entity that is doing this will gain hell’s power. Trixa’s friends and enemies expect her to find out who is doing this and take the deity down.

The second Trixa the Trickster urban fantasy is a terrific thriller as twists and questionable alliances make for an enjoyable entreating tale. Some angels believe Trixa is evil and needs to be destroyed with the end justifying the means in this case as betrayal and lies are acceptable to achieve the mission; ironically some demons logically understand they need Trixa to uncover the identity of the serial killer so pragmatically keep her safe. Rob Thurman is at his best with Trixa the trickster caught in the middle of a supernatural Vegas. Harriet Klausner

Cold Magic
Kate Elliott
Orbit, Sep 9 2010, $14.99
ISBN: 9780316080859

By 1837 Augustan Year, Europa is divided between the old and the new. At a time when the continent faces an ice age, the battle for the hearts of society pits the cold mages against the industrial revolutionists as the detested former argue that the scientists are destroying the world while the welcomed latter claim they are making life better for the less fortunate.

Near Londun in the port city of Adurnam, young Catherine Hassi Barahal shares a bed with her cousin Beatrice as she lives with her aunt and uncle. She wants to know more about her parents; intrepid explorers who apparently died, but has no avenue to begin until she finds a tome her father apparently wrote about The Lies the Romans Told. Soon afterward a cold mage from the Diarisso Lineage of the Four Moon House arrives claiming a magical contract in which the oldest Barahal will marry him unless she is already twenty. Right there at the house of her aunt and uncle, Cat is bound in marriage to the old cold mage. They begin a journey across the icy tundra to a place she knows nothing of, but must learn fast if she is to survive.

This alternate historical Europe is a great opening act as the readers will believe in this world of Kate Elliot. The conflict between the cold mages and the industrialists mirrors in many ways Dickensian England. Cat is a strong protagonist who holds the vivid story line together, but it is the nineteenth century vision of Kate Elliot as seen mostly through her heroic teenager’s eyes that makes for a stirring thriller. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dragons and Vampires

Last Dragon Standing
G.A. Aiken
Zebra, Sep 1 2010, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420108880

Two years have passed since Princess Keita, Dragon Queen Rhiannon’s daughter, has seen family members. Instead the royal has been doing her thing though none know what she is after.

The Queen orders Ragnar the Cunning to lead a group of soldiers in order to find and escort home her beloved son Eibhear and to catch her allegedly seditious sister Esyld, who is believed to have committed treason. Ragnar and his team run across a fleeing Keita who barely escapes execution. They are attracted to one another although he wants to dump her on her mother as he hates her seductive simpering that has his dragon warriors (and him though he denies it) thinking with the wrong head. At the same time the kingdom is in peril from treachery within while the human Queen Annwyl the Bloody fears for the lives of her twin children.

The latest fiery dragon romantic fantasy (see Dragon Actually and About a Dragon) is a superb jocular yet very dark thriller. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as she is driving the hero insane with his lust for her. Readers will relish this soaring entry as Ragnar wonders how he will survive his current assignment while Keita wonders how she will escape with her heart intact. Harriet Klausner

Born To Bite
Lynsay Sands
Avon, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061474323

Vampire Armand Argeneau is stunned when his lifemate and two other women close to him all died mysteriously accidental. The Council sends undercover Enforcer Eshe d’Aureus to investigate the farmer as the brass wonders if Armand is a spousal serial killer. His brother Lucien enables Eshe to get onto Armand’s farm as he tells his sibling that she is hiding from Leonius Livius the second who wants her dead.

As she investigates her host, she and Armand are shocked to realize they are life mates. Neither is pleased with this revelation as she fears she loves a psychopathic murderer and he fears the three women he cherished were murdered by an unknown adversary who probably will make his fourth female he holds dearly the next target. When the incidents begin, Eshe wants to believe a third party is causing them, but she still has niggling doubts about her beloved as all evidence seems to point to him yet everyone who knows him including his in-laws think the world of him.

The latest Argeneau urban fantasy (see Bite Me if You Can, Love Bites and A Quick Bite) is a terrific atypical entry in which the story line is more of a super investigative thriller rather than the vampire romance though the latter is a key secondary subplot. The story line is fast-paced and contains amusing interludes especially when Eshe drives Lucien crazy. Series fans will relish this wonderful tale while newcomers will also appreciate the vampiric whodunit. Harriet Klausner

Wuthering Bites
Sarah Gray
Kensington, Sep 1 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758254085

Mr. Earnshaw finds the Gypsy orphan Heathcliff and brings him home. His daughter Catherine has mixed emotions over the newcomer in the household. On the one hand she is fascinated with Heathcliff and glad her father is so kind; but on the other hand she is shallow and upset with her father for losing her present when he stopped to talk with the lad.

Catherine and Heathcliff grow up together as close friends. However, Catherine knows their relationship must end as they are unrelated and she behaves with the prim and proper deportment expected of an unmarried young woman at the turn of the century. Heathcliff is also pulling away as he begins to understand his split warring desires as a half-breed paternal vampire and maternal vampire slayer. She turns to proper affluent Edgar Linton as more appropriate for her then her childhood friend.

This is an entertaining retelling of the Bronte classic turning the cause of the mental torment of Heathcliff into a schizoid paranormal tendency as his heritage is at war inside his head. Converting Heathcliff into a half vampire and half slayer comes across as plausible while Catherine remains true to the original. However, the story line lacks the amusing biting irony that these parodies need to avoid the question why not just read the original; although Wuthering Bites is a fine reenactment. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Memories of Envy and Haunted Legends reviewed

Memories of Envy
Barn Hendee
Roc, Oct 5 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9780451463531

There are very few vampires in existence today because they failed to abide by the laws of the elders such as not killing humans. Instead they should use their powers to insure the mortal they drank blood from forgets the incident. Eleisha Clevon lives by that rule and the other laws. She has gathered two vampires Rose and her protector Philip to the Portland underground, an abandoned church set up as vampire headquarters. Wade Shelfield is the investigator who has located vampires so that Eleisha can reason with them to diligently stick to the old laws and offer them sanctuary in her Oregon home.

Standing in their way is Julian who has notelepathy, but he likes power and ignores the ancient laws. He has killed vampires before and uses, without their knowledge, Eleisha and her group to take him into the hiding place of other vampires so he can kill them too. Eleisha learns about the dead vampire Maggie’s progeny Simone Stratford and is determined to bring this Roaring Twenties ingĂ©nue to her home. She fails to realize that cute innocent looking Simone enjoys the hunt and plans a deadly game with her wannabe savior and Philip who she is attracted to.

Urban fantasy vampire readers will thoroughly enjoy the latest Vampire Memories thriller (see Hunting Memories). Eleisha is a good individual who lives by the moral code of the elders. Her vulnerability is being a Good Samaritan trying to help her peers see the light as she hopes to forge a law-abiding community. She is naive as her faith in her species is strong with her only picturing Julian as evil. Her protector was a predator for years, but now is there for her by trying to abide by her rules. However, it is Simone who makes the tale entertaining as she teaches Eleisha a lesson not to judge a book by its cover. Harriet Klausner

Haunted Legends
Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamaras
Tor, Sep 14 2010, $27.99
ISBN: 9780765323002

These twenty regional ghost stories based on local legends around the world make up a spirited fun anthology that will have readers keeping the lights on for two or three weeks.

All the entries are fabulous with perhaps the best of the lot being the final contribution by Joe Lansdale, “The Folding Man" and the haunting (starring Stalin’s ruthless henchman Beria) "Tin Cans" by Ekaterina Sedia. Also excellent are Fiji based “That Girl” by Kaaron Warren, the Japanese located "15 Panels Depicting the Sadness of the Baku and the Jotai" by Catherynne M. Valente, and "Return to Mariabronn" by Gary A. Braunbeck.

Whether it be “Akbar” by Kit Reed in India, a “Knickerbocker Holiday” by Richard Bowes in Hudson Valley New York or vampires in Rhode Island in "As Red as Red” by Caitlin R. Kiernan, this is a super diverse collection. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Three From James A Moore

I can't remember if these were posted a while back or not, but here they are to enjoy.

Three from James A Moore

Jim Moore has a lot of fans that are always waiting for anything new to come out. Hopefully they won’t have to wait too long to get grip on these three titles. And I do mean grip. Once you start reading these, you will keep a tight grip on them until the last page is turned. It would be easy to say that they are the best he has ever written, but I would have to add a qualifier to that statement, so far. I expect more books and stories to spring from his mind and the quality will continue to rise and add more fans to his fold.

SMILE NO MORE will make you hate clowns, if you don’t already. As I was growing up there was Red Skelton as a clown, the original Bozo, and Clarabelle on Howdy Doody, they were the happy friendly clowns that brought a smile to my face. Then came the others that changed them. There was Killer Klowns from Outer Space, IT by Stephen King, and others that I’ve relegated to the dark recesses of my mind. Now comes Rufo, one clown who is definitely unfunny.

Cecil Phelps leaves home at sixteen to become an escape artist and promises his sister, Millie, that he will be back. Cecil becomes a member of the Carnival of the Fantastic and ends up as Rufo the Clown. He is welcomed into the Carnival family and learns that they have their own brand of Justice when someone is wronged by the rubes or anyone.

Life is not always a bed of roses for the circus, especially when they end up in Serenity Falls and some children come up missing. This turns out to be the last show they do and the Carnival disappears.

Fifty years pass and Cecil finally returns home, but finds out Millie has died and her daughter, Cecilia had a daughter named Meaghan who is a dancer with Carnivale de Fantistique, the revived Carnival of the Fantastic. He catches up with the troupe only to learn that Meaghan has been missing for three days. He starts following the trail and the death toll starts rising as he follows leads to find out what happened.

Trying not to give too much away, this is a quest story, a tale of death and rebirth, revenge and redemption and enough blood, guts and action to thrill even the most jaded horror fan. Moore weaves an intricate tale that fits in with the tapestry of his other books and leaves you waiting for the final thread to be sewn.

CHERRY HILL is a mental institution with many secrets hiding and patients who only get worse and not better. Into this place comes John Doe, an elderly man with an artificial leg and amnesia who took out several policemen because they would not leave him alone.

CHERRY HILL is full of ghosts of the remnants of the events of the last hundred years. Not only were the insane sent there, but so were the boys who were different and girls who didn’t follow the morals of the day. Many were left to finish their lives there and the ghosts of the patients as well as those who came in with the patients.

John Doe is treated and when a detective comes from California, John is reminded of the deaths of his wife and children. This, as well as the arrival of Amelia Dunlow, causes a change in John Doe. He is able to regain his memory and his body undergoes a physical transformation. He is really Jonathan Crowley and apparently he has been dead for the last six years since a demon destroyed his life and murdered his family.

Something is going on in CHERRY HILL. The ghosts know it and are getting restless. Certain patients are undergoing changes and it is up to Crowley to regain his powers and stop the evil that is about to come forth into this world. Moore’s writing is extremely descriptive and there are passages that will leave your hair standing on end and give you the shivers.

Moore fills us in on some of the events of Crowley’s life but still leaves a lot to learn. This is a visceral and well written novel that will keep you going until you finish it. The only problem is that as satisfying as it is, it leaves you wanting more.

VENDETTA is another story of Jonathan Crowley. In this one he is out to take care of one of his loose ends. During one of his previous adventures, he did not completely close the door on the demon he expelled. This demon is the one who came back and destroyed Crowley’s family. Now that Crowley has the name he needs, he is out for revenge.

Before Crowley can move on his revenge, he must recover some books from Amelia Dunlow that her father hid from Crowley on a previous visit. Crowley must also stop a ghost from haunting a young girl. Crowley follows a code of ethics that he will not break even if it may cause him a problem in the future.

Crowley is a Hunter of the first degree and if you ask for help and he agrees, there will be rest for the evil spirits. Crowley will do whatever necessary to exorcise the demon, send the lost spirit to the light, or send the demon spawn back to hell and free his client from whatever their problem turns out to be.

If you have not read James A. Moore before, prepare for a feast. He is destined to be one of the foremost horror writers of this era. Be on the lookout for these, they are not to be missed. Be sure to bookmark for details. VENDETTA is currently available for order at $45. Don’t let any of these slip out of your hands.

Friday, October 15, 2010

An Interview You Need to Read

Brian James Freeman and Richard Chizmar of Cemetery Dance were interviewed at The Cult on -- read it here and please spread the news as far as you can:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Veil of Night, The Rembrandt Affair, and

Bad Blood
John Sandford
Putnam, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399156908

Bob Tripp, in charge of the Battenberg Farmer’s Co-op grain elevator patiently waits for Jacob Flood to arrive to deposit his crop; Bob plans to kill Jacob. His scheme works perfectly as the police arrive at the scene and conclude he was murdered by Tripp rather than the accident the young man claimed happened. They arrest Tripp who is placed in a jail cell with overnight deputy Jim Crocker remaining in the office. While in the jail Tripp dies in what looks like a suicide, but is a homicide while at his home Crocker is also dead with the evidence pointing towards a female.

Because of a conflict of interest, Warren County Sheriff Lee Coakley asks BIA Agent Virgil Flowers for assistance. They drive separately to Homestead where the killings occurred. The pair learns that two of the victims belonged to the cult World of Spirit where rumors of rape, incest, and young teen brides are acceptable practices. Virgil and the sheriff also know they have no legal admissible evidence as the cult members stick closely together circling the wagons. Knowing the innocent are being harmed, the two law enforcement officials continual their diligence, but remain clueless.

With his fourth Flowers (and the zillion Prey tales) thriller, John Sandford once again affirms he is amongst the top echelon in the police procedural sub-genre. Virgil has a wicked sense of humor that distinguishes him, but when it comes to a case he is serious and meticulous. With plenty of murder, mayhem, and more, fans will enjoy the investigation by “F” Flowers and the female sheriff. Harriet Klausner

The Rembrandt Affair
Daniel Silva
Putnam, $26.95
ISBN: 9780399156588

Art restorer and retired Mossad agent Gabriel Allon and his agent second wife Chiara retreat to Glastonbury, England for some R&R and a return to normalcy after the recent near fatal abduction of her (see The Defector). However, the respite ends when Allon learns a dear colleague was murdered and the Rembrandt painting the victim was restoring was stolen. Unable to hide on the sidelines, Allon investigates.

Allon’s inquiry into a theft turned ugly takes him into the underbelly of capitalism as European firms clandestinely and illegally are selling reactor centrifuges to Iran. He realizes all nuclear waste in this case leads to Switzerland. Knowing he cannot go it alone, Allon calls in his former crew mates.

The latest Allon thriller is a terrific tale that has a different feel to the story line. The tale starts off as a mystery, but the clues turn the plot into an action-packed espionage thriller. Fast-paced regardless of genre, The Rembrandt Affair has the hero doing his usual quality job as he comes out of retirement to try to prevent the illegal sales to Iran. The escapades never stop until after the final confrontation; yet the key that refreshes this entry is Allon, who on the surface seems the same as in his previous appearances, but long time fans will notice subtle but fascinating differences. Harriet Klausner

Veil of Night
Linda Howard
Ballantine, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345506894

While paying her traffic ticket fine, Jaclyn Wilde loses her balance and falls into the arms Hopewell, Georgia Police detective Eric Wilder. She likes what she sees (and feels), but has no time for an encounter because as an event planner for Premier, which she co-owns with her mom, they host six weddings in five days.

At the end of a brutal day made worse by Carrie “Bridezilla” Edwards, Jaclyn stops off for a drink. Also at the same bar is Eric. The exchange business cards so they can hook up in a week, but lust gets the better of them and they spend a night making love.

Carrie fires Jaclyn and slaps her former planner in the face in front of many witnesses. A few hours later, Carrie is found murdered with the weapon being kabob skewers. Eric leads the investigation and as such must treat Jaclyn as a stranger being that she is a prime suspect; although he is positive she is not the killer. He plans to find the killer, keep Jaclyn safe from someone who wants her dead, and somehow regain her trust lost by doing his job.

The quality of Linda Howard’s romantic suspense novels remains consistently high as affirmed by Veil of Night. The tale is filled with tense intrigue, a strong police procedural investigation, a memorable cast, plenty of humor and a powerful lead couple – the cop and the suspect who go from lust to distrust as Eric performs his job. This is a must read. Harriet Klausner

Falcon Prince, Hangman, and Foreign Influence reviews

Falcon Prince
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238382

In Miller Bend, Texas the naked male hunk comes out of the fog to the amazement of Rianna Lancaster. He insists he came for her to bring her home to the planet of New Symtaria. She reacts like any American female would; she sprays him with Mace and dials 911 as she runs away from the intruder.

The residents believe dog groomer Ria is a fruitcake as she behaves so different than a Texan; the sheriff ignores her insistence of a streaker and her adopted parents betray her when they rent her bedroom to the wealthy Prince Kristor. Ria detests his arrogance, but finds she also wants him. He insists she is a royal from his orb and they belong together forever. She insists she is a Texan and they belong together for a tryst.

The second Prince of Symtaria romantic science fiction (see The Jaguar Prince) is a zany tale of an illegal alien and a citizen with questionable legal status fighting, fussing and falling in love. This lighthearted frolic may be over the top of New Symtaria and contains a rushed climax, but fans will relish the star-crossed amusing yet heated tale of love in small-town Texas. Harrier Klausner

Faye Kellerman
Morrow, $24.99
ISBN: 9780061702563

Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant sexagenarian Peter Decker knows rumored New York hitman Chris Donatti and the alleged killer’s wife Terry McLaughlin. He met them on a case fifteen years ago when the couple were in high school; Chris confessed to a murder he did not do to protect Terry. Now, both vanish after a fight and their young teenage son Gabe calls Peter. The cop and his wife Rina Lazarus takes the boy into their home though they worry about psychopathic Chris harming their daughter. Meanwhile Decker searches for the vanished parents.

At the same time, Peter leads the inquiry into the brutal murder of St. Timothy Hospital’s neonatal nurse Adrianna Blanc. She was found hanging at a construction site with her car still in the hospital lot. Decker and his team Sergeant Marge Dunn and Detective Scott Oliver learn the victim enjoyed booze and sex. Her boyfriend Nurse Garth Hammerling has also vanished while on vacation.

This is a strong entry in the long running series due to the comparative analysis of two families. Decker-Lazarus is a loving unit with a strong relationship between them and with their daughter. On the other hand Donatti-McLaughlin is a dysfunctional unit with a history of violence with a piano prodigy offspring who uses music to escape his life. Although the inquires take a strange twist, fans will relish this fine police procedural as Decker fears Donatti might harm his family., but he and his spouse try to do what they believe is the right thing.
Harriet Klausner

Foreign Influence
Brad Thor
Atria, $26.99
ISBN: 978-1416586593

The new Administration aborts Department of Homeland Security Project Apex as the top secret antiterrorist group had been assigned rule breaking by the previous White House occupant to prevent attacks. As he did when he left the SEALs, Apex member Scot Harvath easily lands a position with Defense Department’s funded Carlton Group; mission identical to that of the disbanded Apex team.

In Rome a terrorist bomb kills a bus load of American tourists. Horvath travels to Italy on the mission of search and kill the prime suspect the Troll, and any associates. Chicago police officer and lawyer John Vaughn searches for the Middle Easterner taxi driver who ran over a woman in a hit and run. His inquiry leads Vaughn to a terrorist plot to kill civilians in Chicago.

Over the top of the Willis Tower, Foreign Influence is an exhilarating thriller in which the hero of previous tales simply switches teams. The story line is extremely fast with both subplots moving at a rapid rate of speed. Although Brad Thor argues that the government is incompetent and even antiterrorism efforts need contracting out when comparing the CIA with the Carlton group, fans who enjoy action, action and more testosterone action will appreciate Harvath's latest thriller. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Three from Circlet Press

THREE FROM CIRCLET PRESS, 1901 - A Steam Odyssey by Lionel Bramble, 235 pages; The Innocents Progress by Peter Tupper, 170 pages; and, Like the Knave of Hearts, edited by J. Blackmore, 86 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Circlet Press has been in the forefront of erotic steampunk for many years now and this new group of offerings gives us a wide range of subject matter and imagination and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

1901 - A STEAM ODYSSEY gives us another adventure of Lady Cheyenne Easterling and Miss Olive Ravenwood with their companions, Major Bernard Lewis and James Jason Steerforth. Lady Cheyenne was the central character in “The Panhedonic Engine” in the Circlet anthology, LIKE CLOCKWORK. This time out it is shortly after the Martian invasion and the adventure related in THE FIRST MEN IN THE MOON. Victorian scientists have been using the Martian technology to improve living conditions. During a group encounter, the group is split with Cheyenne and the Major headed to Venus and Olive and Steerforth headed to Antartica. Events occur which place all of them in danger, as the Martians have joined forces with the Selenites on the moon and plan to place the Earth under their domination, one way or another. Bramble uses the characters of others to build an alternate Victoria Empire to tell a very exciting tale of other worldly adventure, eroticism and pure steam pulp adventure. This may be the best offering from Circlet I have read.

THE INNOCENTS PROGRESS is a collection of stories showing the development of the alternate Victorian society. Two stories have appeared in other Circlet anthologies and those set the background for the evolution of the other stories. Sir Richard Burton appears in one story; Edward Hyde gives his formula to a female servant with a not quite unexpected result; and in an interesting afterword, Tupper fills in the basis and character models for his works. This is an interesting look at the inner workings of the creative process.

In LIKE A KNAVE OF HEARTS, J Blackmore has take the adventures of ALICE IN WONDERLAND and has an older version of Alice and an alternate erotic Wonderland to show us adventures that do not leave much to the imagination. The stories tell of a Princess’ adventure around the chessboard, an adult Alice slipping into Wonderland to relieve the stress of Victorian life, what could have happened to Wonderland if Alice forgot her adventures there, and other fanciful adventures. This is another terrific and interesting anthology from J Blackmore and Circlet Press.

Be sure to check out these volumes and all the many other adventures that are available from Circlet Press and their creative writers.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Columbus Day

Today we celebrate Columbus Day. We honor a man who left on a trip not knowing where he was going, didn't know where he was when he got there, didn't know where he had been when he returned home, and did it all on a government handout. Things haven't changed much, have they?

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Got some reviews in the works, but here are some from Harriet to tide you over.

Pirates of the Levant
Arturo Perez-Reverte
Putnam, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156649

In the year 1627 sword for hire Captain Alatriste and his former page Inigo now an adult seventeen year older soldier in his own right, are on board the Spanish galleon Mulata. When not at sea battling Spain’s enemies and collecting booty, they are based in Naples. It is in Naples that Inigo shows he needs more time to grow up as he tangles with a swindling gang and needs his former mentor’s help to keep him safe.

They have adventures as they catch and bound their enemies and sell prisoners as slaves for booty. In a remote Spanish port on the North African island Oran, Captain Alatriste and Inigo meet Sebastian Copons whose supervisor refuses to allow him to leave the island because he needs all the soldiers he can deploy. After Alatriste tries to buy his friend’s freedom, Gurriat the Moor sees the captain in action and attaches himself to him and earns a berth on the Mulata. The four of them and the rest of the Mulata crew believe they are going to die in battle against several Turkish ships, but refuse to back down.

This is the final book in the swashbuckling Alatristo historical saga and like its predecessors (see Cavalier in a Yellow Doublet, The King's Gold, The Sun Over Breda, Purity of Blood and Captain Alatristo) this entry vividly brings to life historical Spain as if the reader is there. The audience observes as if at the front the Christian civil war with the Mohammedans (Moors) as religious intolerance led to strife and conflict. Pirates of the Levant makes the Edwin Starr case of the ugliest of “War, what is it good for; absolutely nothing” inside a great adventure thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Mullah's Storm
Thomas W. Young
Putnam, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399156922

In Afghanistan, the C-130 Hercules transport plane left Bagram Air Base to deliver a Taliban Mullah prisoner for interrogation when the storm hit. The heavy blowing snow made visibility impossible and a rapid drop in pressure made flying even more dangerous. However, a surface to air missile strikes the plane causing it to crash in the mountainous lethal Hindu Kush region. The crew has several dead or severely injured; the blizzard cuts them off from immediate rescue while the Taliban who know the area intimately are coming to rescue the Mullah.

With broken legs keeping him trapped, Lieutenant Colonel Fisher assigns the highest ranking person standing navigator Major Michael Parson and Army Pashto interpreter and cultural awareness expert Master Sergeant Gold to escort the Mullah to the authorities. The enemy who heed the Mullah’s call to bring hell to the Americans and their allies know the terrain made more treacherous by the storm while his two escorts already believe they are traveling in a frozen hell. The Taliban hunt them abetted by frightened villagers and the Mullah who prays for deliverance.

This is an action packed military thriller that brings alive the stark reality of war in Afghanistan. The Air Force navigator and the Army interpreter are fully drawn characters, but it is the prisoner they escort who owns the plot (along with his country).as his beliefs profoundly contrast with prevalent Western philosophy. The suspense is summed up by author Thomas W. Young as an airman in Afghanistan: “…, what scared me the most wasn't the thought of getting shot down and killed. It was the thought of getting shot down and not killed…" Harriet Klausner

Kiss of Death
P.D. Martin
Mira, $7.99
ISBN: 978-0778327790

The corpse was found in Temescal Gateway Park. LAPD fears the murder is ritual caused by an NRM (new religious movement) as the locale is where After Dark, a self proclaimed vampire group, holds rites and the victim has two puncture wounds in her neck. The local cops ask for FBI profiler Sophie Anderson to work with Detective Sloan on the investigation into who murdered Sherry Taylor, teenage daughter of an affluent producer.

As they interview interested parties, Sloan believes an acting professor or the former boyfriend killed Sherry while Anderson believes either After Dark or another “vampire” clan performed the deed. When a second corpse is found near the Sherry’s murder scene, Anderson fears someone is working on a psi transfer of power. However, as the Fed ignores her visiting boyfriend (from Arizona) and fears her attraction to Anton Ward, leader of After Dark, who senses her psi power, she goes undercover as Lady Veronica seeking a killer amidst the Goth scene.

The fascination in this tense well-written police procedural is with the insight into the two types of vampires (psi and blood suckers) as readers learn of psychosomatic illnesses (porphyria and Renfield's syndrome). Sloan is a terrific support character who should have a return engagement with Anderson. The prime rest of the secondary cast bring to life either the Goth or police subcultures. Although Anderson’s eerie attraction to Ward is not fully explained as this is a key element and questionable is the ease she switches to and from her Aussie accent (and vernacular), fans will enjoy her latest whodunit (see Killing Hands, Fan Mail and The Body Count). Harriet Klausner

Saturday, October 9, 2010

John Lennon's 70th Birthday

In order to commemorate John Lennon's 70th birthday, his solo albums have been re-issued and here are the details.

- As part of EMI's global reissue campaign, eight remastered solo albums were released this week, along with the expanded two-CD Double Fantasy Stripped Down, the compilation Power to the People: The Hits and the four-CD set Gimme Some Truth. The 11-CD John Lennon Signature Box holds the remastered albums, non-album singles and 13 previously unreleased home recordings, plus essays by Lennon's two sons and widow Yoko Ono.

- Complementing the reissues release is a numbered, limited edition of the John Lennon Box of Vision, a lavish collectible case with a 166-page hardbound book of LP artwork, a detailed discography and a storage system built to carry all of Lennon's CD releases. Created by Jonathan Polk and licensed by Ono to mark the 70th birthday, the $125 set is wrapped in a silver-inked Lennon portrait with a reproduction of his "Baby Grand" line drawing. Details:

- Ozzy Osbourne's cover of How?, from Lennon's Imagine album, is available at iTunes, with proceeds pegged for Amnesty International. In the video, streaming exclusively on AOL's, the metal god visits Beatles landmarks in New York and lays flowers at the Lennon memorial in Central Park.

Apple CD Releases

I, as well as a lot of other folks, have been waiting for this to happen for a long time. They are due to be released October 26, 2010.

Beatles' Apple Records reissue CDs details announced; two new discs added; full bonus track details
• August 5th, 2010, reported by Steve Marinucci

EMI today announced details of the new Beatles Apple label reissues with two titles added: "Come and Get It: The Best Of Apple Records" and "The Radha Krishna Temple," produced by George Harrison.

‘Come and Get It: The Best Of Apple Records,’ a 21-track compilation of singles which will include songs by Mary Hopkin, James Taylor, Badfinger (and the Iveys), Doris Troy, the Black Dyke Mills Band, The Sundown Playboys, Hot Chocolate, Ronnie Spector, Bill Elliot & the Elastic Oz Band, Chris Hodge, Brute Force, Jackie Lomax and more, will also be released Oct. 25th along with the rest of the reissues.
Each of the albums has been digitally remastered at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London by the same engineers behind the Beatles' remastered catalogue releases of 2009.

The track listings for "Come And Get It" and the bonus tracks on the original albums:
1- Those Were The Days / Mary Hopkin,
2- Carolina In My Mind / James Taylor
3 -Maybe Tomorrow / The Iveys
4 -Thingumybob / The Black Dyke Mills Band
5- King Of Fuh / Brute Force
6 -Sour Milk Sea / Jackie Lomax
7- Goodbye / Mary Hopkin
8- That's The Way God Planned It / Billy Preston
9 -New Day / Jackie Lomax
10- Golden Slumbers-Carry That Weight / Trash
11- Give Peace A Chance / Hot Chocolate Band
12- Come And Get It / Badfinger
13- Ain't That Cute / Doris Troy
14-My Sweet Lord / Billy Preston
15- Try Some Buy Some / Ronnie Spector
16- Govinda / Radha Krishna Temple
17- We're On Our Way / Chris Hodge
18-Saturday Nite Special / The Sundown Playboys
19- God Save Us / Bill Elliot & The Elastic Oz Band
20- Sweet Music / Lon & Derrek van Eaton
21- Day After Day / Badfinger

JAMES TAYLOR (1968) by James Taylor
This Remastered CD includes four Bonus Tracks, all previously unreleased:
• ‘Sunny Skies’ / studio demo, later re-recorded for 1970’s Sweet Baby James
• ‘Let Me Ride’ / studio demo, later re-recorded for 1971’s Mud Slide Slim And The Blue
• ‘Sunshine Sunshine’ / solo acoustic demo of a song from James Taylor
• ‘Carolina In My Mind’ / solo acoustic demo of a song from James Taylor

MAGIC CHRISTIAN MUSIC (1970) by Badfinger
This Remastered CD includes five Bonus Tracks, all previously unreleased rare recordings by The Iveys:
• ‘And Her Daddy’s A Millionaire’ / alternative version
• ‘Mrs Jones’ / remix of an Iveys single-that-never-was
• ‘Sali Bloo’ / mono mix
• ‘See-Saw Granpa’ / mono mix
• ‘I’ve Been Waiting’ / unedited take of this psychedelic cult classic
Six more rare Iveys tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads:
• ‘Dear Angie’ / mono mix
• ‘No Escaping Your Love’ / mono mix
• ‘Think About The Good Times’ / previously unreleased mono mix
• ‘Yesterday Ain’t Coming Back / previously unreleased mono mix
• ‘Arthur’ / previously unreleased stereo remix.
• ‘Storm In A Teacup’ / from Apple’s 1969 Wall’s Ice Cream EP

NO DICE (1970) by Badfinger
This Remastered CD includes five bonus tracks, all previously unreleased rare recordings; the last five of which were all produced by Mal Evans:
• ‘I Can’t Take It’ / extended version / produced by Geoff Emerick
• ‘Without You’ / mono studio demo
• ‘Get Down’ / mono studio demo
• ‘Photograph’ (aka ‘Friends Are Hard To Find’) / alternative version
• ‘Believe Me’ / alternative version
• ‘No Matter What’ / mono demo version
Two further previously unreleased tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads:
• ‘Love Me Do’ / instrumental version
• ‘Get Down’ / extended stereo version

STRAIGHT UP (1972) by Badfinger
This remastered CD includes six bonus tracks, all produced by Grammy Award-winner Geoff Emerick, three of which are previously unreleased songs:
• ‘I’ll Be The One’ / originally intended as a Badfinger single
• ‘Name Of The Game’ / first version; the cancelled single, Apple 35
• ‘Baby Blue’ / US single mix; not issued on 45 in the UK
• ‘Baby Please’ / previously unreleased song
• ‘No Good At All’ / previously unreleased song
• ‘Sing For The Song’ / previously unreleased song
Seven further tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads, all taken from the unreleased album in between "No Dice" and "Straight Up," produced by Geoff Emerick. One of these tracks is previously unreleased:
• ‘Money’
• ‘Flying’
• ‘Perfection’
• ‘Suitcase’ / with original ‘Pusher, Pusher’ lyric
• ‘Sweet Tuesday Morning’ / previously unreleased
• ‘Mean Mean Jemima’
• ‘Loving You’

ASS (1974) by Badfinger
This remastered CD includes five bonus tracks, all produced by Badfinger themselves. Four of these are previously unreleased versions, and one is a previously unreleased song:
• ‘Do You Mind’
• ‘Apple Of My Eye’
• ‘Blind Owl’
• ‘Regular’ / previously unreleased song
• ‘Timeless’
Five further tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads, all produced by Badfinger themselves. Four of these are previously unreleased versions and the other is a previously unreleased song:
• ‘Get Away’
• ‘When I Say’
• ‘The Winner’
• ‘I Can Love You’
• ‘Piano Red’ / previously unreleased song

POST CARD (1968) by Mary Hopkin
This remastered CD includes four bonus tracks, three of which were produced by Paul McCartney, and one by Geoff Emerick. One of these is previously unreleased — a cancelled Mary Hopkin single from 1969
• ‘Turn Turn Turn’ / 1968 B-side to ‘Those Were The Days’
• ‘Goodbye’ / Mary’s second hit single, written by Paul McCartney
• ‘Sparrow’ / 1969 B-side to ‘Goodbye’, written by Gallagher & Lyle then signed to Apple
• ‘Fields Of St. Etienne’ / previously unreleased version of this Gallagher & Lyle song, the cancelled single, Apple 16.
Four further tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads, each produced by Paul McCartney: foreign language vocal versions of ‘Those Were The Days’. Two of these have never before been available in digital format (CD or download):
• ‘Le Temps Des Fleurs’ / ‘Those Were The Days’ in French (first time on digital)
• ‘An Jenem Tag’ / ‘Those Were The Days’ in German (first time on digital)
• ‘Quelli Erano Giorni’ / ‘Those Were The Days’ in Italian
• ‘Que Tiempo Feliz’ / ‘Those Were The Days’ in Spanish

EARTH SONG / OCEAN SONG (1971) by Mary Hopkin
This Remastered CD includes three Bonus Tracks, all produced by Tony Visconti:
• ‘Kew Gardens’ / 1971 B-side to ‘Let My Name Be Sorrow’
• ‘When I Am Old One Day’ / from the Earth Song / Ocean Song sessions
• ‘Let My Name Be Sorrow’ / Mary’s penultimate single for Apple Records, issued in 1971
Three further tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads, each produced by Tony Visconti and two of which are being made available digitally (on CD or as downloads) for the first time:
• ‘Quand Je Te Regarde Vivre’ / ‘Let My Name Be Sorrow’ sung in French (first time on digital)
• ‘Watashi O Kanashimi To Yonde’ / ‘Let My Name Be Sorrow’ sung in Japanese (first time on digital)
• ‘Jefferson’ / original 1971 B-side to ‘Water, Paper And Clay’, Mary’s last single for Apple Records

THAT’S THE WAY GOD PLANNED IT (1969) by Billy Preston
This remastered CD includes the three bonus tracks from the 1991 CD plus the previously unreleased ‘Something’s Got To Change’
• ‘Through All Times’
• ‘As I Get Older’ / an instrumental produced by Ray Charles and the 1970 B-side to Billy’s second Apple single, ‘All That I’ve Got (I’m Gonna Give It To You)’
• ‘That’s The Way God Planned It’ / stripped back ‘rock’ version
• ‘Something’s Got To Change’ / first recorded by Ray Charles in 1967

ENCOURAGING WORDS (1970) by Billy Preston
This remastered CD includes the two bonus tracks from the 1993 release along with ‘How Long Has The Train Been Gone’ which is a previously unreleased track
• ‘As Long As I’ve Got My Baby’ / originally the planned B-side to the cancelled UK ‘My Sweet Lord’ single, Apple 29
• ‘All That I’ve Got (I’m Gonna Give It To You)’ / co-written with Doris Troy and Billy’s third Apple single in 1970.
• ‘How Long Has The Train Been Gone’ / written with Bruce Fisher and later re-recorded for Billy’s 1973 album Everybody Loves Some Kind Of Music

DORIS TROY (1970) by Doris Troy
This remastered CD includes the five Bonus Tracks that appeared on the 1992 CD reissue, plus an additional, previously unreleased, alternative version of ‘All That I’ve Got (I’m Gonna Give It To You)’, written with Billy Preston and issued by Billy as his third Apple single in 1970.
• ‘All That I’ve Got (I’m Gonna Give It To You)’ / co-written with Billy Preston
• ‘Get Back’ / Beatles cover version and the B-side to Doris’ second Apple single ‘Jacob’s Ladder’
• ‘Dearest Darling’ / a Doris original unreleased until 1992
• ‘What You Will Blues’
• ‘Vaya Con Dios’ / the B-side to ‘Ain’t That Cute’ in 1970
• ‘All That I’ve Got (I’m Gonna Give It To You)’ / newly discovered alternative version

IS THIS WHAT YOU WANT? (1968) by Jackie Lomax
This remastered CD includes six bonus tracks, three of which are previously unreleased:
• ‘New Day’ / Jackie’s second single for Apple, from 1969
• ‘Thumbin’ A Ride’ / cover of the Coasters song, produced by Paul McCartney and the B-side to ‘How The Web Was Woven’ in 1970
• ‘How The Web Was Woven’ / Jackie’s last single for Apple, produced by George Harrison
• ‘You’ve Got To Be Strong’ / previously unreleased by Jackie Lomax; also covered by Doris Troy on her Apple album
• ‘You Make It With Me’ / previously unreleased; one of the last tracks Jackie recorded for Apple
• ‘Can You Hear Me’ / previously unreleased; one of the last tracks Jackie recorded for Apple in the summer of 1969
Four further tracks will be available exclusively as Digital Downloads, three of which make their debut in the digital domain:
• ‘Going Back To Liverpool’ / unreleased until 1991
• ‘Sour Milk Sea’ / 1968 mono mix (first time on digital)
• ‘The Eagle Laughs At You’ / 1968 mono mix (first time on digital)
• ‘Little Yellow Pills’ / 1968 mono mix (first time on digital)

UNDER THE JASMIN TREE (1968) & SPACE (1969) by the Modern Jazz Quartet (a 2-on-1 CD)
This Remastered CD includes one Bonus Track:
• ‘Yesterday’ / previously unreleased version of The Beatles’ classic
THE WHALE (1970) & CELTIC REQUIEM (1971) by John Tavener (a 2-on-1 CD)
Back in the late Sixties, John Tavener was championed by John & Yoko, and befriended by Ringo Starr. Apple's recordings of The Whale, his avant-garde oratorio, and Celtic Requiem, written for soprano, orchestra and children’s choir, were his first ever full-length releases, and remain extraordinary examples of British contemporary classical music.
This remastered CD also contains two supporting pieces, ‘Nomine Jesu’ (‘In The Name Of Jesus’) and ‘Coplas’ (‘Verses’), that were originally issued on the Celtic Requiem album in 1970, and were later reworked into the major Tavener composition of 1972 Ultimos Ritos. For this new CD, Sir John has re-presented The Whale as it was originally published in the score. Instead of spanning two tracks as per all previous releases, the oratorio has now been split into its seven discrete sections, allowing the listener for the first time to follow on record the individual elements of this early and most innovative work.

RADHA KRISHNA TEMPLE (1971) by the Radha Krishna Temple (London)
The Radha Krishna Temple album, which was recorded by the London chapter of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness was produced by George Harrison. The album is a collection of devotional chants and prayers to Krishna (another name for God) and to the movement’s own divinely-inspired spiritual masters. It spawned two Top 30 UK singles, ‘Hare Krishna Mantra’ (No. 12) and ‘Govinda’ (No. 23), and said George: “It was the greatest fun of all, really, to see Krishna on Top Of The Pops”. Krishna Consciousness can be defined as a “process of plain living and high thinking” that leads to spiritual knowledge, self-realization, as well as the greater goal of peace and happiness in the wider world.
This Remastered CD includes one Bonus Track:
• ‘Namaste Sarawati Devi’ / previously unreleased

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pretty Little Things, Black Magic Lover, and Silver Serenade reviews

Baryon 117 is up at Check it out.

Silver Serenade
Nancy J. Cohen
Wild Rose Press, $15.99
ISBN: 9781601547828

Earth Centrum Security Integrated Network field operative Silver Malloy is assigned to eliminate ruthless Tyrone Bluth, leader of the brutally nasty gang Tyrone's Marauders. S.I.N.’s top assassin, Silver almost completes her mission when Kurashian Jace Vernon interferes by tackling her.

Ace pilot Jace is after Tyrone also, but unlike Silver needs his prey alive if he is to prove his innocence on his home planet where he is wanted for murder. He does not want to work with Silver who wants the beast dead, but has no choice if he is to achieve his objective as his enemy’s enemy is his ally; if he does not team with her they will get in each others’ way. She reluctantly agrees with his assessment.

This is a fun romantic science fiction thriller as the lead couple targets the same person, but disagrees with the output as each has a different outcome in mind. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Jace makes the hit on Silver and never slows down as love between them complicates their already complex relationship. Sub-genre readers will enjoy this outer space tale of a lethal gang lord serving ironically as a matchmaker between two people who disagree on what to do with him as the options are life in a maximum prison or assassination. Harriet Klausner

Black Magic Lover
Cynthia Cooke
Harlequin Nocturne, $5.25
ISBN: 9780373618439

The phone call stuns Laura Larame who had believed her mom was dead. She considers someone pulled a sick joke on her, but must know the truth as to whether her mother Delilah, whom she had not heard from in two decades lives in the Louisiana bayou.

Laura Larame returns home where she meets her childhood friend Drew Michel, who saved her life on the night her mom vanished and was assumed drowned. Drew and Laura are attracted to one another and he wants more than them just being friends; while she determinedly remains fixated on her mom. Drew who sees ghosts, fears his beloved is going to be sacrificed by his mother, a voodoo priestess, who plans to use her death to bring her God back using her son’s body as the deity’s container.

This Bayou romantic suspense is an exhilarating tale that grips the reader with a need to know what happened to Laura’s mother. The story line provides an in depth look at voodoo without slowing down the plot. Although the ending seems abrupt, Black magic Lover is a fast-paced horror thriller as Cynthia Cooke shows her Mojo.
Harriet Klausner

Pretty Little Things
Jillane Hoffman
Vanguard, $25.95
ISBN: 9781593156077

Thirteen year old Lainey Emerson loves MySpace, especially keeping her page current. Her biggest peeve at the moment is relocating with her family, which means a new school and finding new friends.

However Lainey becomes excited when she meets El Capitan online. She agrees to go out with the boy, but conceals her date from her family. A couple days pass before her mother reports her missing, as she assumed Lainey was behaving just like her older sister, a serial runaway. Florida's Crimes Against Children Special Agent Bobby Dees leads the search for the missing teen even as he fears she is the victim of a serial killer, who uses the net to lure victims and then after killing them sends drawings of his kills to the media.

Rotating perspective between the missing teen, the agent (his daughter vanished last year) and the killer in chapters not much longer than Twitter, Pretty Little Things is a terrific cautionary tale that warns readers beware of internet social networks especially what you tell of yourself and the contacts you make. The story line is loaded with twists that enhance the growing tension, which the agent and the teen especially emote. Although the ending feels weak especially with the taut story line that brilliantly leads to the climax, fans will appreciate Pretty Little Things while wondering how to allow their youngsters to enjoy the net yet avoid stalking cyber predators. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, October 7, 2010

New from Wildside Press

SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERY MAGAZINE #4, Winter 2010, edited by Marvin Kaye, The Wildside Press, $10,182 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

What began as an experiment has now flourished into a quarterly magazine of all things Sherlockianian, This issue is chocked full of stories and related essays that show that Holmes is still viable and popular over a hundred years after his first appearance.

Watson opens the issue with an editorial about the magazine and the new Holmes film. Bruce Kilstein gives a history of Holmes on film and gives a look at the new films pros and cons compared with what has come before. There is an interview with the chief toxicologist, and letters to Mrs. Hudson. There are even some recipes to give some added flavor. There is an in depth look at A Study in Terror, the film that had Holmes working on the Ripper Murders.

There are several stories all using the methods and techniques popularized by Holmes and are very entertaining. There is also a Holmes tale included to remind us of the classic style and prose of the original.

This is a must for the Holmes fan and the lover of mystery fiction as well. More details are available at,

ADVENTURE TALES #6, Winter 2010, edited by John Betancourt, The Wildside Press, $10, 156 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is a special H. Bedford Jones issue and features three of his stories as well as other tales from the pulp era. Jones is not one of the names that have withstood the test of time, but in the pulp era, he was a name, when on the cover, garnered sales. Other stories feature Jimmy Lavender detective story by Vincent Starrett, Arthur Friel takes us to the Amazon, John Swain’s story is set in World War I France, and Anthony M. Rud tells the story of “The Devil’s Heirloom”.

A reprinting of the first issue of George Scither’s AMRA is a fitting memorial to a creative force in fandom. Talbot Mundy, Fritz Leiber, Clark Ashton Smith, and some other well known names are included to give this an authentic pulp feel and appearance.

For those who miss or missed them completely, this is a great volume to put the pulp era on display. Get the details on subscriptions at

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Kill the Dead review

Kill the Dead
Richard Kadrey
Eos, Oct 5 2010, $22.99
ISBN: 9780061714313

Stark, known as Sandman Slim, is not a human. He is a Nephilim; the offspring of a fallen angel and a human mother. He has all the power of a Nephilim, but still was not strong enough to fight black magician Mason Faim, who dispatched him to hell for over a decade. When Lucifer releases Stark, he returns to hell on earth where he dispatches Mason back to Lucifer’s kingdom. While there the mage mason tries to take over Lucifer’s throne.

The devil comes to earth to watch a picture of him being made and wants Stark to serve as his bodyguard. He also takes jobs for the Golden Vigil, sometimes called “Pinkerton’s Angels, such as killing Eleanor the vampire, who wears a belt buckle that interests him for reasons he cannot figure out. Besides the Golden Vigil and Lucifer gigs, Stark works on fighting demons and a way to kill Mason. However, a new threat arises as zombies begin to walk the streets of Los Angeles killing all humans who cross their path. Stark has to figure out who is controlling the walking dead and get rid of him so the zombie menace will end..

Stark is a terrific antihero whose conversations with a horde of paranormal and normal (that is in a specie sense; not a mental sense) is humorously biting satire. He is a half-breed who is neither angel nor demon, but works for both sides as he has no place with either. The story line is fast-paced, filled with high octane testosterone action, but is owned by Stark who tells his latest misadventures in a noir style first person account. Urban fantasy readers will fully appreciate the goings on in the city of angels. This reviewer can’t wait for the next Sandman Slim novel. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Myth-Interpretations and Fangs for the Mammaries reviews

MYTH-INTERPRETATIONS, Robert Asprin, Baen, $14, 300 pages, ISBN: 9781439133903, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

1978 was the year that Asprin captivated me and a lot of other folks with his hilarious introduction to Skeve and Aahz, the heroes of the MYTH books. It has always been a fun ride and this volume fills in the gaps with some of their shorter appearances. It was a sad day when he left us, but I hope that in some way his talented collaborator, Jody Lynn Nye, can come up with more adventures.

Also included in this volume is the basis for his novel THE COLD CASH WAR, “Con Job” – his last story, and several other examples of his work. This is a book of treasures from a gifted writer. The cover is by Bob Eggleton and shows a dragon sitting on an egg; I truly hope something hatches.

FANGS FOR TH MAMMARIES, Esther Friesner, Baen, $7.99, 422 pages, ISBN: 9781439133927, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

While we wait for the next volume of Friesner’s highly entertaining Chicks series (CHICKS AHOY!), she has gone into the vast landscape, known as Suburbia to present us with a new set of mammaries, I mean, memories to hold us over until that time.

Joining Esther this time around are Jody Lynn Nye, Sarah A. Hoyt, K.D. Wentworth, Laura J. Underwood, Kevin Andrew Murphy and others letting us know how the vampires have adjusted to modern day living.

Jody Lynn Nye’s “Overbite” opens the volume with a trip to the orthodontist. “If Music Be the Food of Love…” David Freer shows us how teenage daughters can be a pain to fathers, even if they are vampires. A group of “Night” students go on a field trip in “Miss White-Hands’s Class Goes Shopping” by K. K. Wentworth. Other stories involve a beauty queen, circus performers, and other assorted characters.

Esther Freisner has a talent for bringing out the best in her contributors and this is no exception. Her entry into this collection says it all, this anthology is “Long in the Tooth”.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Mists of Time, Queen of Shadows and The Waters Rising reviewed

The Mists Of Time
Susan Squires
St. Martin’s, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312943554

San Francisco romance writer Diana Dearborn meets a stranger who gives her an ancient tome. Somehow the old book propels her to Dark Ages Camelot. She returns to the present with no time elapsing, but has brought forward with her severely injured Medraught of Orkney.

Diana feels no desire towards the hunk she brought into his future. Instead she feels an attraction to a stranger who she has noticed in the shadows seemingly stalking her or her guest. His father ordered Gawain to keep Diana safe, but he arrived in San Francisco a few years later than he needed to be there; as he learns her trip in time periled her. To begin correcting the scenario they must return Medraught to the past, but he refuses to go willingly as he loves the modern world.

The Mists of Time is a well written complex time travel Camelot romance that grips the audience from the moment a feral teen Diana is in lock up and never slows down as the readers learn what happened to her. The story line is fast-paced with intriguing paradoxes and a wonderful link between San Francisco and Camelot while the lead pairing and the knight they need to send home seem real though their flaws are reiterated too frequently. Fans will admire Susan Squires as she refreshes the Camelot legend. Harriet Klausner

Queen Of Shadows
Dianne Sylvan
Ace, Aug 31 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019250

In Austin, Miranda Grey fears she is going insane with only alcohol numbing her mind and playing the guitar in front of an appreciative audience giving her satisfaction. She soon realizes she has the skill of playing with the emotions of her fans as the “magic is in the music and the music is in” her (Lovin’ Spoonful). However, not long after that, Miranda learns the cost as her audience can do likewise to her and she has no defense mechanism to prevent the mental rape of her mind leading to her mental breakdown.

Following a show and a nasty assault on her, vampiric lord David Solomon rescues Miranda. He knows she is an untrained empath and gives her a remedial education into the world of vampires and much more that she always thought were fiction. As David tries to save Miranda, he prays she reciprocates and saves him from his emotional demons ripping at his soul.

This is a well written but not easy to read romantic urban fantasy as Dianne Sylvan pulls no punches as rape and the healing from sexual (and emotional) assaults are described. The relationship between the empath and the vampire make for a strong Shadow World thriller that will enthrall the audience with a sense of awe as supernatural Austin comes across realistic though the filters of the flawed lead protagonists. Harriet Klausner

The Waters Rising
Sheri S. Tepper
Eos, Aug 31 2010, $26.99
ISBN: 9780061958878

The Big Kill has left the earth shattered as most life died during the pandemic mass murders by the unseen Slaughterers. However, the survivors of the onslaught have no respite as a second potentially deadly threat has arisen. In places like Norland, the sea is overwhelming land masses with decreasingly safe places to stay.

Young Xulai is a no more than a superfluous gnat in the scheme of those struggling with surviving the rising waters. When she meets an apparent Slaughterer apparition, she flees for her life. However, unlike her species who feels she is a throwaway to disregard, that deadly beast recognizes her potential as the only person who could save mankind. To insure the extinction of humanity this predator goes after Xulai planning to kill her.

Returning to the Plague of Angels realm, The Waters Rising is a clever enjoyable post apocalyptic thriller that deftly uses a Noah like tale to disparage current societies for their disregard and abuse of the planet. The cautionary story line is fast-paced as a frightened heroine arises amidst the shrinking livable land. Readers (except for deniers) will relish Xulai’s coming of age escapades as she and her idealistic cohorts simply hope and pray they can save mankind though some of them doubt whether humanity deserves a third chance. Harriet Klausner