Sunday, June 5, 2011

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Homefront: The Voice of Freedom
John Milius and Raymond Benson
Del Rey, Jan 25 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780345527158

In the near future, the two Korean nations united under the leadership of the Kim Jong family and turned into a regional power by annexing their neighbors. Especially significant to the desire to become a superpower is the conquering of Japan, which provides the Korean leadership American military technology at a time when the United States America has turned internal into Fortress America after years of oil wars and major economic collapses. Taking advantage of the fumbling giant, Korea ignites a nuclear bomb that causes a crippling EMP blast across North America leading to mass deaths. This is followed by a rapid deployment as Korea plans to take control of the Pacific.

By 2026, reporter Ben Walker fled a Korean occupied Los Angeles. On his trek east, he meets black jack dealing engineer Kelsie Wilcox in Vegas and resistance soldiers. He soon becomes the Voice of America with the Korean occupation force wanting him silenced.

Based on the videogame, this is an over the top of the Sierras into the troposphere but still a fun thriller mindful of the movie Red Dawn with an older hero and resistance. The story line is fast-paced, but requires ignoring that L word (logic not liberal) as the clever Koreans during the war act foolishy during occupation especially when it comes to eliminating the Homefront Voice of America. Still fans of the game and those who enjoy an entertaining thriller will want to read about the North Korean occupation of the not so United States. Harriet Klausner

The Sweet Scent of Blood
Suzanne McLeod
Ace, Apr 27 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441018710

In London where the paranormal is part of the normal where vampires even pose for celebrity calendars. Genevieve Taylor is the only known Sidhe Fae in town and she works for run by the Witch Council to insure “making magic safe”. The headlines involve the arrest of Mr. October Roberto taking one pint too many from his human girlfriend Melissa.

The father of the accused, financial reporter Alan Hinckley knows her boss Stella Raynham from an article he did on the firm and that Gen is not bound by the Witch Council’s mantra to never get involved with a vampire. Alan pleads with Gen to investigate the homicide of the waitress as he believes his Bobby is innocent; starting with checking whether magic was used on the victim. Reluctantly because of Bobby’s message of regards to Gen, who had a teenage marking by a vampire, she agrees to investigate. Her inquiry leads from the corpse to the popular Soho vampire clubs. However, as her friend Sergeant Hugh the troll warns her to stay out of the case, the divided upper elite of the vampire hierarchy follow her with a strange interest as she now believes the accused was framed, but by who remains unknown.

This is an exhilarating investigative urban fantasy starring a delightful tough heroine swimming in a sea of vampires while working her case. The story line is fast-paced form the onset yet makes this alternative London filled with witches, Fae, vampires, trolls, goblins and one sidhe seem genuine due to the Soho scene and other similar references. Fast-paced with a terrific twist, fans will be reminded of Dresden the only listed wizard in the phone book. Harriet Klausner

The Guardian Angel's Journal
Carolyn Jess-Cooke
Guideposts, Apr 1 2011, $14.99
ISBN: 9780824948795

Guardian angel Ruth is assigned to watch over the late Margot Delacroix, who happens to have been Ruth when she was alive; Margot has returned to relive her life while Ruth knows the rules she must adhere to: witness, protect, record, and love. She knows she can have some limited impact on what her “ward” can do, but for the most part must remain an observer of the human mistakes she made as Margot.

As Margot’s life is replayed, the woman makes several horrific choices in spite of Ruth’s efforts to nudge her in another direction away from falling in love with Toby; though as Ruth she finds herself in love with him. However as she meets peers like enigmatic James, Ruth especially wants to understand why Margot's addicted teenage son Theo ended up in jail charged with murder, as she hopes to change that before it happens, but soon realizes what it will cost her to protect and love.

This is super paranormal extremely complicated thriller that is a serious more insightful version of a guardian angel tale with the twist of Ruth returning to watch over herself. Character driven by obviously Ruth-Margot with a strong support cast (human, angel and demon); readers will appreciate this brisk heavenly tale of the guardian angle looking at her life, but focused on saving her son’s life. Harriet Klausner

All the Lives He Led
Frederik Pohl
Tor, Apr 12 2011, $25.99
ISBN: 9780765321763

By 2079, the once proud and mighty United States remains devastated from the massive Yellowstone eruption several decades ago. Brad Sheridan enlists for overseas assignment as an indentured servant; this is his only means to escape the American refugee camps. He is assigned to work on Italy's two millennia celebration of the volcanic destruction of Pompeii by Mount Vesuvius.

Tourists flock to the volcano to take part in the gala. The visitors enjoy real and virtual entertainments. Ben performs minor cons including romances on the naive. However, he soon finds himself at ground zero of a horrific terrorist plot greater than the Yellowstone natural disaster that ended the American domination.

Nonagenarian Science Fiction Grand Master Frederick Pohl provides an exciting futuristic thriller that extrapolates from the recent global economic meltdown into how tenuous the threads of the world’s economy are as natural and terrorist events can prove pandemic. Fast-paced, Ben is an antihero thrust into something he wants nothing to do with. Though he is not quite as developed as the Pohl world setting, readers will appreciate this exhilarating thought provoking late twenty-first century tale. Harriet Klausner

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