Saturday, February 26, 2011

Poul Anderson, John Ringo and Mike Resnick at their best

Sir Dominic Flandry The Last Knight of Terra
Poul Anderson
Baen, Dec 7 2010, $13.00
ISBN: 9781439134016


“Earthman, Go Home”
. Although the natives prefer he leave, Captain Sir Dominic Flandry of the Intelligence Corps, Imperial Terrestrial Navy visits the lost world Unan Besar. His mission is to bring the planet back into the Terran Empire before the Merseians use it as a military base.

“Hunters of the Sky Cave”
. Flandry helps a woman escape from a Merseian supported insurgency while setting up a counterinsurgency, but ponders that “We Claim These Stars” even while the Terran Empire will go the way of previous superpowers during the Long Night

“The Warriors from Nowhere”
. Flandry battles his Merseian adversary Aycharaych, who has the advantage of telepathy.

"A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows"
. The Terran Empire is rapidly decaying as fortyish Flandry knows due partly from high level corruption. When Molitor seizes control, Flandry supports him as he believes a strong military leader is the only hope to prevent the Empire from imploding immediately. He also recently learns he has a son after a tryst with Persis the dancer and begins one with aristocratic slave Kossara from Dennitza. However, he will soon find out that his greatest success leaves him empty with nothing more than pride for accomplishing his job, no challenges left that matters, and a despondent look back at what he achieved and what he failed at.

The four reprints are entertaining tales of outer space daring do. The first three star the carefree James Bond in space swashbuckling hero, which feel somewhat repetitive although Hunters of the Sky Cave hint at a darker outlook. The last contribution is superb as a middle age Flandry muses that all he did over the last couple of decades was place his thumb in the dyke while the slow flood of rot and decay spreads; he concludes he slowed down the death of the empire as all nations turn to stardust. Harriet Klausner

Citadel
John Ringo
Baen, Jan 4 2011, $26.00
ISBN: 9781439134009


Tycoon Tyler Vernon converted the large asteroid Troy into a tremendous battle station that along with the Solar Array Pumped Laser humans was used to drive away the invading octopi-like Horvath (see Live Free or Die) from the Sol System. However, an even more dangerous threat has entered the solar system as the reptilian Rangora Empire invades with plans to occupy Earth after it has destroyed the only human ally in a deadly serpentine blitzkrieg.

Vernon realizes quickly that the Troy battle station will be overwhelmed by this brutal enemy like the Nazis did the Maginot Line; if it falls Vernon knows no Homer will write the epic of the Citadel that saved earthlings. He proposes an offensive assault rather than a defensive line. His plan is to take the war to the heart of the Empire forcing the Rangora to divert troops to homeland defense. The Spiral Arm Wars are just beginning to heat up with the First Battle of E Eridani.

The Troy Rising second outer space tale (see Live Free or Die) is an exciting military science fiction thriller, which starts very slow action wise yet insightful as the reader meets numerous cast members (mostly humans) who provide their viewpoint to the upcoming hostilities. Once the combat ignites, the plot soars into hyperspeed as John Ringo once again salutes American ingenuity and creative capitalists (must have been in the Asteroid Belt during the economic meltdown) climaxed with a great outer space battle. Harriet Klausner

The Buntline Special
Mike Resnick
PYR, Dec 7 2010, $16.00
ISBN: 9781616142490


In 1881, the leadership of the United States of America still dreams of manifest destiny to the Pacific though the country’s western border remains The Mississippi. On the other side of the mighty river is rich land occupied by Indian tribes with powerful shaman whose magic has kept the Americans frustratingly in the east.

The government sends the great inventor Thomas Edison, who has worked with Ned Buntline on a horseless stagecoach, on a quest to determine whether science and technology can defeat magic. The Earp brothers escort Edison to Tombstone, Arizona where a last stand is forming. On one side is the enigmatic Edison, the Earp siblings and their pals Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson. On the other side are two separate deadly foes; the dangerous Apaches led by Geronimo the most powerful Medicine Man and the Clanton gang who are abetted by the once dead Johnny Ringo.

With seemingly none of the real persona purebred human, there is an overabundance of paranormal leaving the Arizona confrontations entertaining, but also never moves out on the larger theme of manifest destiny propelled by science and technology as opposed by magic. Thus fans of steampunk thrillers will enjoy The Buntline Special as a fun exciting Weird West Tale at the OK Corral, but never quite obtains the revolutionary quality of the author’s wonderful alternate history Dragon America.
Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jacqueline Frank, Marilee Brothers and Kresley Cole's latest

Seduce Me in Dreams
Jacquelyn Frank
Ballantine, Mar 22 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345517678


Interplanetary Militia Extreme Tactical Force First Active team Commander Bronce Chapel carries wounded communication officer Trick on his back as they trek the black Gimper Desert on Ebbany. Bronce mulls over what went wrong as the Nomaads expected them and prays the other members of the team are safe. The quintet makes it to their ship and travels to their home planet of Ulrike.

Bronce worries about dreams of a woman he never met who appears. Ravenna asks who he is and why he taunts her. She has been visiting his dreams for a month and wishes he would rescue her and her brother Kith from rogue Nomaads.

While in the hospital, Trick hacks into Admiral JuJuren’s file and find interesting information on the near deadly desert mission. He shows Bronce who says the Admiral sold them out and they need to trust no one. JuJuren signs the order for the team to return to Ebbany to rescue a kidnapped High King. Bronce knows it is a trap but they begin to mount the rescue. Bronce falls into a hole and opens a cell door where he sees the real Ravenna and Kith. The soldiers break with procedure by taking the “Chosen Ones” civilians with them. They soon learn more about the Chosen Ones and the betrayal.

Known for her romantic fantasy (see The Nightwalkers series), Jacquelyn Frank switches to romantic science fiction with an entertaining outer space thriller. The cast both the unit and the Chosen Ones contain differing personalities even while the fast-paced story line is loaded with action. Although the plot is thin and the villain’s motive never explained, fans will enjoy visiting the tri planets Ebbany, Ulrike and Tari. Harriet Klausner

Moon Spun
Marilee Brothers
Belle Bridge, Jul 1 2010, $14.95
www.bellbridgebooks.com
ISBN: 9781935661955


At John J. Peacock High School in Peacock Flats, Washington, student Alfrieda "Allie" Emerson cannot believe how she could go from unpopular to pariah all because her mom dates the principal Mr. Hostetler. However, she has issues besides no clean underwear at a time when two boys are once again sniffing her; as Junior has come from Mexico with a retinue and Beck the half demon is healing the new girl on the block.

Meanwhile besides dodging the usual high school suspects of miscreant and deviant behavior, Allie knows the Trimarks remain a major threat to world stability (what there is) and to her well being. However, her biggest issue besides the pendant she wears is that a third boy shapeshifting Ryker has joined her other two sniffers. This were-hawk knows he and Allie are destiny’s darlings as life mates if they can save Boundless, the land of the fairy, from a horde that make the Trimarks look like elementary school. Allie knows as tough as this evil crew may be they are not near high school lethal.

The third Unbidden Magic teen urban fantasy (see Moonstone and Moonrise) is an engaging tale as the heroine struggles to balance in her small town surviving the rituals of school, saving two worlds, and flirting with boys; the latter being the most difficult. Having a new male per book adds fun to the mix by enhancing the bewilderment of Allie, but none have ample time to grow as they compete for heroine and subplot spacing. Still young adult fans will appreciate her efforts to learn to use her power reminiscent of the Greatest American Hero while diligently trying to save Boundless. Harriet Klausner

Dreams of a Dark Warrior
Kresley Cole
Pocket, Feb 15 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439136805


Regin the Radiant Valkyrie and Aidan the Fierce Viking Berserker met and fell in love. However before he obtained immortality, a vampire murdered him. Regin mourned her loss and prayed for a happier ever after when they next meet.

Over the centuries Aidan is reincarnated several times. However each time Regin finds her beloved, she manages to get him to remember his regressed memories of them together. Still in spite of their efforts, he dies each time.

In his latest life, Aidan is Declan Chase, the Magister of the Order. He and his minions stalk and kill immortals. Declan is especially a berserker as immortals murdered his family and tortured him. The Order has captured Regin and other Immortals. They plan to execute their prisoners on the remote island the Order uses as a prison. The last chance to live resides with Regain and her love for Aidan, but will she get through the barriers of hate that Declan has warped his soul.

Occurring at about the same time as Demons From The Dark, the latest Immortals After Dark thriller is a fabulous romantic fantasy that grips the reader from the first time Regin and Cole ever they saw each other’s face and never slows down until the final confrontation. The overarching theme of the saga moves forward, but it is the bittersweet love and death cycle that hooks the audience who wonders whether Regin’s Dreams of a Dark Warrior will finally end with her beloved’s hands bloody from her death by him. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vampires, Magic, and Witches

Vampires Not Invited
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312532680


In New York City, hybrid human-Drow Princess of the Dark Elves Nyx moonlights as a Night Tracker private investigator investigating incidents (see Demons Not Included and No Werewolves Allowed) involving paranormal species. Her current case is frustrating her as a gang of sprites impishly mock human landmarks like painting Liberty’s toes pink.

Her elven half gut tells her there has to be more than just inane graffiti and sillier pranks; a trademark of the pain in the butt obnoxious sprites. Digging deeper, she finds what she feared. The mischief sprites work for Master Vampire Volod and his fang gang who want a return to the prominence they once held in ironically what seems like a lifetime ago. His plan is for his vampires to rule nocturnal New York. Nyx and other trackers realize the sprites are a divergent ploy to occupy the trackers with nonsense while Volod uses the opportunity to exploit the weaknesses of other species. Nyx plans to use all her strength to end this threat as everyone knows Vampires Not Invited to any shindig let alone run the city.

Obstinate Nyx, who breaks the rules as she even dates a low life, as all humans are, remains tenacious and confident as she plans to stake her life on preventing the Vampiric take-over. She holds the fast-paced exhilarating private investigative urban fantasy focused as her stubbornness never allows her (or the reader) to take their eyes off the ball as despicable Sprites and Vampires come out of the shadows and coffins to challenge the leadership. Harriet Klausner

Shadowheart
James Barclay
PYR, $17.00
ISBN: 9781616142506


The hostile debate between the four colleges of magic finally explodes into open warfare as Xetesk seizes the opportunity to take the first rung on their vision of dominion with an assault on the depleted Julatsa, who sacrificed so much in the Wesmen wars (see Chronicles of the Raven trilogy). The Julatsa know they must find a way to survive the invaders, but to do so they will need the interred Heart of Julatsan.

The other two colleges Lystern and Dordover discuss what to do when a somewhat depleted Xetesk turns to them and how to control what is left of the Raven. They forge an alliance with a plan to invade Xetesk after it wastes much of its magic, but to do so they must lock away or assassinate the Raven survivors. However, way to the west, a power is surfacing whose vision is that of a Balaian continent with no magic or eastern mage-rulers. In a ploy to conquer the other three colleges and thereby the continent, Xetesk has turned to the Balaian as an ally especially with the alliance and Raven in the way of their manifest destiny.

The second Legends of the Raven fantasy (see Elf Sorrow) is a terrific middle tale as the hostilities that remained outward towards the anti-magical Black Wings (their mass grave as described in this thriller is simply grim and eerie) turns inward between the colleges. Readers will appreciate the continual saga of the Raven as the exhilarating story line is filled with action, but it is the political intrigue that makes for another great entry by James Barclay. Harriet Klausner

The Witch’s Daughter
Paula Brackston
St. Martin’s, Jan 18 2011, $24.99
ISBN: 9780312621681


In 1627, the plague ravages Wessex as well as the rest of England. All of the Hawksmith family dies except for the matriarch and her daughter Elizabeth Anne. The child is unaware that her mom the earth healer made a deal with Satanist warlock Gideon Masters. However, mother and daughter are accused of witchcraft; the locals hang her mom while Bess flees into the night making her own pact with Gideon that begins an eternity of solitude.

In 2007, Elizabeth trains Tegan the teen hedge witch how to use her powers wisely. She also tells her female student tales about her family especially her mom, her master Gideon and his master, her encounter in Whitehall with Jack the Ripper, and her work as a nurse in the front lines in Flanders during WWI.

This is an entertaining epic fantasy in which ironically the historical subplots engage the audience; while the modern day segue feels awkward and distracting rather than anchoring the story line. Overall The Witch’s Daughter is an enjoyable read as Bess is an intriguing Forrest Gump like witch who’s almost four centuries past hopefully will be explored further. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kim Harrisn's PALE DEMON News

New York Times bestselling author KIM HARRISON's newest book, PALE DEMON, went on sale today...and it's already in the top 15 at Amazon.com!

Kim's "Hollows" books have made Cincy (in)famous...basically, she's created an urban fantasy landscape, populated with witches, demons, living vampires, pixies and elfs, out of Cincinnati's urban landscape. PALE DEMON takes desperado witch Rachel Morgan on a cross country roadtrip. Think Jack Kerouac...twisted...

To celebrate the Cincy roots of these novels, Harper Voyager is streaming Kim's Jo Beth Cincy event (this Friday at 7 pm) LIVE to fans around the globe. The virtual events is a fabulous tool, as it brings commerce into our bookselling partner from far outside the city limits -- people who can't attend in person can watch online at http://www.vivolive.com/harpercollins/kimharrison and order personalize copies of the book via the Jo Beth website. We've had upwards of 500 people attend similar events for romance authors...With Kim's global popularity, this virtual (and bricks and mortar) event could see thousands. Win-win for Kim and Jo Beth! And we're very excited to share that Assignment X will also be streaming the event online as well.

You'll see Kim's cheeky blog post about the streaming event here (I think she's poking fun at her publicist, who is a self-acknowledged time zone illiterate): http://kimharrison.wordpress.com/2011/02/21/cant-make-an-event-we-are-streaming-live/

Here's a bit of information about the book. Would you be willing to help us spread the word about Kim's virtual event? Many thanks!

An Elf, a Pixie, a Living Vampire and a Witch Take a Cross-Country Road Trip…

With more than 2.5 million copies currently in print of her bestselling Hollows novels, New York Times bestselling author Kim Harrison is one of the leading voices in urban fantasy. And, now in the proud tradition of Jack Kerouac (a very twisted Jack Kerouac) and American Gods, Kim takes her fiction for a road trip…begging the question, what happens when an elf, a pixie, a living vampire and a witch who dabbles in black magic are forced to travel 2300 miles cross-country (in three days or less), jammed into an ‘89 blue Buick? Hell on wheels.

People are already talking about PALE DEMON, Harrison’s forthcoming book (on-sale 2/22/11) – and the author is set to embark upon a cross-country road trip of her own (to rival the unearthly journey chronicled in the book). Here’s a sample of advance buzz…we’d love to find out if we could arrange an interview opportunity or some sort feature coverage for Kim with you?

Publishers Weekly STARRED REVIEW “Elegant and taut as a gymnast's cartwheel, Harrison's polished prose drives a story that will have readers swerving in their seats every time Rachel turns the wheel.

Library Journal “As in Harrison’s previous books, this one features plenty of action and a strong central character…”

Booklist “The Rachel Morgan series is fast becoming one of the hottest tickets in the urban-fantasy subgenre.”

Io9 Travelogue Blog by Kim Harrison “…after eight books in the same streets, I needed new vistas for Pale Demon. My main character, Rachel, also needed some time to figure things out, and what better way than a blue Buick going west with a vampire riding shotgun and a wealthy elf grumbling in the back seat that Mickey-D's was not an acceptable lunch stop?”

www.facebook.com/avonromance (Twitter tag: avonbooks)

www.avonbooks.com: the top online destination for romance readers!
For the latest chatter on SFF and Urban Fantasy, visit the HarperVoyager blog

Monday, February 21, 2011

Chicks, Shapeshifters and Fairy

Chicks Ahoy
Esther Freisner (editor)
Baen, Dec 7 2010, $12.00
ISBN: 9781439133019


This omnibus collection contains the frisky frolicking first three Chicks Amazonian anthology adventures. With a parry, lunge and tongue in cheek (that is the female warrior not turning the other cheek like in “The Old Grind” (Laura Frankos) but in the other’s cheek. Heroines are not afraid to fight in the MUD as George Alec Effinger affirms.

Chicks in Chainmail. These are the original twenty tales. Elizabeth Moon (she also contributes shorts to the other two collections) sets the tone with "And Ladies of the Club" as the king plans to tax bras while Janni Lee Simner answers with “Bra Melting”. Holly Lisle’s "Armor-Ella" stars six foot El and not so Prince Charming. Finally there is super mom at "Career Day" by Margaret Ball and a female guard protecting a brothel in "The Guardswoman" by Lawrence Watt-Evans (he also contributes short stories to the other two collections).

Did you say chicks?!
The second Chicks warrior anthology contains nineteen entries including a Starhawk tale by Barbara Hambly. Harry Turtledove's contribution shows the importance of gender teamwork and a “valiant vanquished” in “The Attack of the Avenging Virgins” by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (she also contributes a short story in the first book) as women (virgins and veterans) kick all types of butt.

Chicks 'n chained Males
. These sixteen contributions star women in shining armor (often less attire) who come to the aid of lads in distress. Susan Casper’s “Why Do You Think They call It Middle Earth” stars a fighting female taking on dragons and other ilk to save hapless men as does “Leg Irons, The Bitch and the Wardrobe” by Ms. Frankos.

Readers of both genders will appreciate this compilation, but I suggest reading the Chicks Ahoy saga over several months as the theme is singular skewering satires summed up by “A Bitch in Time” (Doranna Durgin). Harriet Klausner

Master of Smoke
Angela Knight
Berkley, Jan 4 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425239162


Five years ago, the dire wolf attacked Eva Roman. She survived but was never the same. Instead she taught herself to shapeshift and successfully concealed her condition from her parents and everyone else.

That anonymity ends when the comic bookstore employee saves a man from the assault of giant white dire wolf Warlock. The person she rescues suffers from amnesia as a consequence of Warlock using a spell to steal the victim’s magical power by splitting him into three essences. She names him David; neither is aware he is Smoke the demigod Sidhe warrior. If David fails to reunite his parts into Smoke, Warlock will prove too powerful to stop. Ergo were-hitmen try to kill David and Eva as the former struggles to regain his memory and the latter wonders how to have sex with the hunk without murderous chaperones interfering.

The latest Mageverse romantic urban fantasy (see Master of Fire) is a great entry that, in spite of its January release, will be considered one of the best sub-genre books of the year. The story line is loaded with action as hostilities grow and all out war between and even within species seem imminent. While the world teeters on the brink, Eva makes the tale as she brings a sort of New York shtick to the mix with her acerbic humorous asides and in your face commentary. With warlocks, were-mobsters, vampires, witches, and Camelot, fans will appreciate the comic bookstore employee who only blinks in bed with her amnesiac as she insists she has faced much worse with customers. Harriet Klausner

The Triskaidek
Basil Sprig
CreateSpace, $13.00
www.campfae.org
ISBN: 9781452886893


The faire parents send their kids for the summer to Camp Fae. Though part of the reason the offspring are exiled to camp is parental R&R, but this particular camp is for the Fae to learn to use their magic.

However, this year a mistake occurs and a non-fae Alley Willowwood is sent to the camp. She is a non-believer in magic as is most of her ignorant species. However, she becomes a quick believer when she has a need to fly post haste to escape a harrowing scenario; thank goodness she won a kite. Her counselor informs Alley that she must be fairy or would never have found Camp Fae. Unlike many who learn they are a Triskaidekaphile, but fail to cope when the Triskaidek moment occurs; she begins to learn all she can on her personal Triskaidek thirteenth day of the thirteenth month of her thirteenth year, her human upbringing makes her unique and the only who may be able to save the endangered species the Blimeys while concealing the paranormal world from the nearby human camp where her friends attend and from her single mom, her new world.

Targeting middle school children and warning away triskaidekaphobics, Basil Sprig provides an engaging urban fantasy as his two worlds nicely merge with Alley as the vortex. She is a terrific heroine who uses instinct not always successfully to learn if the huggable boy really likes her and to rescue the Blimeys. With a tweener nod to the Greatest American hero, Alley is the greatest Triskaidekaphile heroine. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Reviews from Harriet

The Messiah Secret
James Becker
Signet, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451412980


British Museum supervisor Roger Halliwell sends one of his staff ceramics conservator Angela Lewis, who is not as assessor to evaluate the value of the collection left by recently murdered aristocrat Oliver Wendell-Carfax. She convinces her former husband police detective Chris Bronson, to meet with her at Carfax Hall in Suffolk as she feels unsafe. Angela finds a crate of pottery with one containing the find of the century; a parchment written by noted first century Jewish Scholar Hillel who makes the first known reference by a peer to Jesus outside of the New Testament.

The conservator and the cop find other clues that point to the ancient treasure the pair has previously sought unsuccessfully (see The First Apostle and The Moses Stone). However, once again the road to the artifact is dangerous as a fanatical lunatic priest will kill in the Lord’s name to keep the treasure buried and an avaricious capitalist hires thugs to kill in order to insure he obtains the object.

The key to the third Lewis-Bronson tale is the pair themselves who brings an acceptable level of lightheartedness (sort of like a modern day Nick and Nora the sleuth not the playlist) that makes for a fresh Brownian thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when the elderly Carfax thwarts his assailant while going to his death with a smile and never slows down until the final confrontation far from Suffolk. Readers will appreciate the latest escapades of Lewis and Bronson as they follow leads while dodging two groups of assassins.
Harriet Klausner

In Too Deep
Jayne Ann Krentz
Putnam, Jan 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9780399157625


She worked for Lucas Protection Services under a false name; just one more false alias like she has had all of her life. She ran from her family and their nutty conspiracy theories as they worked hard to stay off the grid. She discovers there is an illegal arm’s selling segment within the company she works for and they are going to pin the rap on her. She runs, but they catch her; she barely escapes being killed because the operation is illegal and Isabelle Valdez does not know who to trust in the firm; so she trusts no one.

Heeding her grandma’s advice, she heads for Scargill Cove, California. Many of the residents are psychic like Isabelle who obtains a job with a powerful psychic Fallon Jones who runs a detective agency. His clientele is usually from the Arcane Society devoted to Psy research and the police. Fallon and his new assistant find cache of psychic weapons hidden in a bomb shelter. They dismantle one that seems set to explode and have the arcane experts disable the rest. The pair follows clues that lead back to Lucas Protection dealing in psychic weapons that in the wrong hands could prove especially dangerous. They know they must break up the ring of sellers, buyers and suppliers; however the stakeholders in this lethal enterprise will kill any intruder without remorse. As Fallon and Isabelle fall in love, a new emotion for each, they do not lose sight of the mission.

Once again, Jayne Ann Krentz delivers a fantastic romantic suspense with a terrific angle involving psychic warfare. The fast-paced story line contains the trademark Ms. Krentz quirky characters, dry witty humor and loads of action. The lead characters are each powerful psychics who readers will believe used their Psy powers on us to finish the tale in one exciting sitting. Harriet Klausner

Haint Misbehavin’
Maureen Hardegree
Bell Bridge, $12.95
www.BellBooks.com
ISBN: 9781935661931

Heather Tildy wants to be accepted when she enters high school as a freshman at the end of the summer. She figures her best chance is with her older sister Audrey who treats her like a miscreant alien.

However Heather’s campaign to win over her sibling hits snag when she meets a preadolescent aged ghost from the ninetieth century. Assuming she is going crazy by having an imaginary friend as a teenager; Heather worries about how to rid herself of this spirited spirit. Making matters worse while convincing Heather that she is haunted by Amy, the ghost at times possesses Heather’s body. She makes her do stuff that makes Audrey and her friends deem her as weird. Embarrassed as she knows her family, friends and the hunk lifeguard scorn her for Haint Misbehavin’, Heather needs to help Amy move on.

This is an enjoyable middle school Ghost Whisperer thriller starring a wonderful teenager who is abashed by her new paranormal skill as everyone who matters to her believes she is fruitcake except for her aunt who everyone knows is a fruitcake; ergo Heather a chip off the nutty block. Although her family is somewhat stereotyped especially Audrey, young adult readers will enjoy the opening Ghost Handler teen urban fantasy due to the heroine who thanks to her ghost is in deep trouble with her parents and others. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 18, 2011

Interesting Looks at Alternate History and a Mystery

The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer
Lucy Weston
Gallery (Pocket), Jan 4 2011, $15.00
ISBN 9781439190333


In 1559 as she is about to become Queen Elizabeth I, the soon to be monarch meets the ghost of her mom Anne Bolyn, whose only transgression that led to her execution was not bearing a male. Anne informs her daughter that besides ruling over England, she has a much more important mission of the Slayer that has come down though the generations of her ancestors as far back as King Arthur whose offspring from the wrong side of the sheets Mordred is a vampire.

Mordred visits the young Tudor to offer her a deal of a lifetime; in his terms that is already a millennium. Although Elizabeth knows what her late mom wanted from her, Mordred’s offer of immortality and ruling over England together for eternity are much more tempting than fighting his kind.

Similar in concept to Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith including a journal, The Secret History of Elizabeth Tudor, Vampire Slayer is made fresh by fascinating Mordred as he brings a delightfully evil option to the young Tudor Queen. Although one must wonder why Anne waited until Elizabeth is queen to tell her daughter of her heritage, fans will enjoy this fast-paced tale from the moment that Elizabeth is escorted to meet her mom’s ghost and never slowing down as Lucy Weston provides a fun alternative historical fantasy. Harriet Klausner

The Youngest Templar: Orphan of Destiny
Michael P. Spradlin
Putnam, $17.99
ISBN: 9780399247651


In 1191, Tristan of St. Albans continues his quest to complete the mission of the Holy Grail as assigned to him by Sir Thomas in Outremer (see Keeper of the Grail). Thanks in major part to his companions Robard, Maryam the Al Hasshashin and Angel arrive in Calais (see Trail of Fate). However, the lunatic chasing them from the Holy Land Sir Hugh threatens to hang Maryam of Tristan fails to hand over the Grail. Tristan holds Queen Mother Eleanor hostage, but all seems lost. Although Tristan is hurt and unconscious, they manage to row across the Channel landing two days south of Dover where Sir Hugh awaits them.

With no place to go with the Grail except St. Albans in Scotland, they head there. However, ha harrowing trek upon arrival, they find the abbey burned to the ground. Only Brother Tuck lives. While Tristan and his allies ponder what to do with the Grail, Tuck gives him letters from the late King Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and Brother Rupert; the correspondence explains all Tristan as coveted knowing.

Orphan of Destiny is a fabulous fitting finish to a strong young adult late twelfth century thriller. Fast-paced with amazing action, readers will enjoy the final stretch of the quest as the trio struggles to find someone to trust with the Grail while Hugh continues to apply the pressure on them. Fans will enjoy the adventures of The Youngest Templar as he risks his life to complete the pledge he made to his mentor Sir Thomas in Outremer. Harriet Klausner

Damage
John Lescroart
Dutton, Jan 4 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780525951766


Ro Curtlee serves ten years of his sentence for the rape and murder of a family housekeeper Dolores Sandoval. However, due to the constant pressure of his affluent family, the Ninth District Appeals Court orders a new trial. His wealthy parents post a million dollar bond that bails him out of jail as he awaits a retrial.

Curtlee quickly goes to work murdering a witness who testified against him. He threatens to harm the family of San Francisco Police Homicide Chief Abe Glitsky. Meanwhile Ro’s parents, who own the city’s member two selling newspaper the Courier, use columnist Sheila Marrenas to pressure the new District Attorney Wes Farrell and others related to the case to back off or else. SFPD led by Glitsky finds new and old evidence swallowed up by the Curtlee brood either through influence peddling, not so subtle threats, or murder.

The latest Glitsky and Dismas Hardy thriller (see A Plague of Secrets) is a great entry as the villain is incredible with all the assets he has and uses including the media. Complicated with several subplots that initially seem more like additional police caseload, but cleverly merge into a super story line, fans will wonder if the Curtlee clan will defeat Glitsky and company. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Hard Days Knight, Star Wars: Red Harvest, and Wicked City: The Scarlet Clan

A Hard Day's Knight
Simon R. Green
Ace, $25.95
ISBN: 9780441019700


In the Nightside, private investigator John Taylor obtains the legendary Excalibur though he is unsure why Arthur’s sword has been sent to him by the Post. He does not want the blade partly because he knows his heart is not worthy of such a weapon. On the other hand, he knows in Nightside he is much more worthy than probably everyone else. Still he believes the blade needs safe keeping. He feels strongly, though he would prefer not to, venture into London Proper to deliver Excalibur to the London Knights, the Last Defenders of Camelot.

However, John’s enemies wait in ambush to kill him, steal the legend, or preferably both. Although unsure how his adversaries know, John and his lover Shotgun Suzie, the bounty hunter Valkyrie, who when it comes to dead or alive always brings them in dead. They begin the deadly trek. They remain ignorant to the significance of what they do as his destiny is to prevent a potentially end of the world war and that a traitor amidst the London Knights has sold his soul to gain power by giving the sword to malevolent beasts.

This is a super refreshing Nightside entry starting with the double edged title as the quest takes place during A Hard Day’s Night while the other reference is obvious. Side allusions are a consistent fun part of a Simon R. Green urban fantasy as the author has done repeatedly with this saga and the Secret History series. The story line is fast-paced and loaded with action as the foes have the numbers and the weapons, but John knows he has his beloved “Oh Christ, It’s Her, Run” watching his back in London’s Nightside and Proper. Harriet Klausner

Star Wars: Red Harvest
Joe Schreiber
Del Rey, $27.00
ISBN: 9780345511171


On the cold desolate planet Odacer-Faustin, Sith Master Lord Darth Scabrous sets up a training program to teach the young the techniques in using the dark side of the Force. Rumors abound that the Sith Master searches for the right pupils who will fill his formula for immortality. From time to time a student vanishes. One of the trainees who disappears Wim Nickter finds himself surrounded by medical equipment. He will “donate” his blood to Scabrous. As he lays dying
The beginning of a plague begins

Scabrous seeks a Murkamis Orchid, which he receives when “talented botanist” Hestizo Trace “delivers “the plant to the Sith Lord. The sentient flower has bonded with Hestizo and needs her as does Scabrous. He abducts the human and takes her to his planet for she and her dark orchid are the final keys to his immortality formula. Her brother Jedi Knight Rojo traces her through the Force as he wants to save his sister, but finds himself facing an army of zombies and worse.

If someone told me when I saw the first Star Wars movie back in ancient times I would read a Star Wars novel with zombies and a Sith Lord acting like a vampire, I would have said no way. Yet, Joe Schreiber entertainingly brings zombie fever to the Force during the Old Republic era. Zo is a heroic person who fights to the end to prevent the zombie pathogen from turning pandemic. However this is Lord Darth Scabrous’ story as his insidious malevolence owns the exciting tale. Mr. Schreiber provides a face to evil as the Force turns to its darkest horror niches. Harriet Klausner

Wicked City: the Scarlet Clan
Hideyuki Kikuchi
Seven Seas (Tor), $10.99
ISBN: 9780765323323


The Black Guard diligently watch the barrier between the mortal world and the demonic realm for breeches from the dark other side. In Roppongi, a Black Guard unit intervenes to end a summoning ritual at Torizaky Church. That night agent demon Makie informs her human lover agent Taki at his home in Hamadayama that she had a vision of the assault due to the hybrid child she carries. She also says their unborn told her that the summoning worked.

Apparently the summoning is to bring back the Shu demonic mob locked away in 978. This deadly clan prefers war between the two species and within each species. Over one millennium, they have waited for the mixed race baby to be born so that they can kill it and prevent the peace that many in both races see the infant represents. Starting with a psy phone call to possess and kill Taki, the Shus begin their direct attack on the pregnant demoness as they send snake handlers and fire demons to assassinate the female they consider traitor. Taki and the Black Guard struggle to protect his unborn and defeat an invincible demon mob that never loses.

The third Wicked City urban fantasy (see Black Guard and The Other Side) is a fabulous thriller that reads like a comic book novella with no images except those in the reader’s mind. Fast-paced from the onset, the focus of everyone is on the unborn hybrid. Although the key characters are severely underdeveloped, fans will enjoy the latest entry that stands alone, but obtain a better understanding of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s fantasy-horror Japan by reading the previous thrillers. Harriet Klausner

Mermen, Immortals, and Werewolves


In the Dark of Dreams
Marjorie M. Liu
Avon, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062020161


Twelve years old Jenny found the injured silver boy on the beach. She is taken aback somewhat by his fins, but also fascinated by them and him. She comforts him until a merman arrives to take the wounded lad home. The sea adult frightens Jenny as he ignored the boy’s pleading not to take him back to the sea. Every morning that summer and several years afterward, Jenny would return to the beach hoping her sea friend would return; he never did but she never stopped hoping.

Because of that incident at the beach, Jenny became a marine biologist. Her goal is to find the silver boy who she considers a friend and more though their acquaintance was for a short duration. Meanwhile, Jenny’s family is divided as some have joined the Consortium while others like her work for A Priori.

Exiled from his world beneath the sea, Perrin constantly thinks of the female surface dweller who befriended him when he needed help. Soon they connect through their dreams at a time when a world threat begins to emerge from a dormant respite at the bottom of the ocean.

This is a tremendous Dirk & Steele thriller (see The Fire King) that grips the audience from the moment the pair meets on the beach and never frees the reader until the final apocalyptic confrontation. Fast-paced, the lead couple and the anticipated fight with the Monster from the Ocean Floor (Roger Corman movie) make for a strong entry as a chance short meeting on a beach as tweeners years later turns into a superb save the world romantic ocean fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Hungry for You
Lynsay Sands
Avon, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061894572


Marguerite Argeneau has the uncanny skill of pairing off life mates. Her ability sends family member immortal Cale Valens to Canada to meet his fated intended Alex Willan. At the same time, Alex’s sister Sam still refuses to change until both of her sisters (Jo Willan since has found Nicholas in The Renegade Hunter) find their immortal mates as she has with Garret Mortimer (see The Rogue Hunter). She has hopes her sibling Alex and Cale are the final pairing of mortal sisters to immortal caring hunks. Mortomer’s aide Bricker learning Marguerite sent Cale says his bachelor days are over.

Cale quickly learns his Alex is ignorant that vampires exist. He obtains a position as a chef in her restaurant, but there is one minor problem; Cale can’t cook so is fired. However, an unknown adversary goes to incredible lengths to prevent Alex from opening her second restaurant. Cale assisted by the Argeneau brood protect Alex.

The entertaining finish to the Willan sisters is a fun Argeneau-Hunter vampire romance. Filled with humor from the onset with the Olive Oyl – Jessica Rabbit comic gender debate and with a terrific casualness re vampirism when Bricker welcomes Cale to Canada with one bag or two, fans will enjoy this entry. The suspense takes a back seat to the chef who can’t boil water without burning it and the restaurateur falling in love but after waiting for an eternity for his lifemate, he must show patience he does not have. Fans of the urban fantasy saga will appreciate the latest romantic thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Wolf Prince
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238405

In Texas, Darcy Spencer is taking a walk near the home of her parents when she sees two strange sights. First she notices a wolf followed immediately by a naked man. Assuming she has run into a pervert, Darcy hammers the nude dude with a stick to his head, knocking the streaker out.

When he regains consciousness he recalls nothing except his name is Surlock. Feeling guilt for causing the amnesia, Darcy allows Surlock to move into the guest house. Having become a private investigator, Darcy uses her new skills on her first case to learn who her visitor is. Surlock begins to regain his memory of his mission on earth to protect the mixed-race human-Symtarian Darcy from rogue shapeshifters who want the half-breeds exterminated.

The third New Symtaria royal ET Texas romantic fantasy (see The Falcon Prince and The Jaguar Prince) is a fun lighthearted romp although the story line reads so similar to the previous princes’ thrillers; the character can replace each other with no slowing of the plot. Still filled with humor due to the alien’s behavior like swimming naked in the pool to the delight of gawking maids, Karen Kelley fans will enjoy the third close encounters of the first kind humorous tale. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Vampires, Zombies, and Weres

Flip This Zombie
Jesse Petersen
Orbit, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316102957


David and Sarah believe they can make a go of their marriage and form a business after learning so much about Living with the Dead (see Married with Zombies). They figure there must be a lot of paying customers In Arizona who would hire them to exterminate zombies; ergo Zombiebusters Exterminators, Inc. is born with the vision of being the Trump or Gates of Zombie killing.

Research scientist Dr. Kevin Barnes hires the pair to catch a live zombie specimen so he can conduct field work in his efforts to find a cure for the plague. Sarah is attracted to the handsome scientist. However, the pair realizes the zombies are changing into creatures more dangerous than those they first battered as the new generation is faster and contains cognitive thinking skills. However, they capture one with the help of eleven year old Robbie who demands a cut.

Humor and gore come together in this entertaining straightforward urban fantasy as the couple reconciles their differences indirectly due to the fear factor of zombie marital counseling. The story line is fast-paced though quite bloody linear while Jesse Peterson offers suggestions to the successful business mogul to make a profit and staying alive. Fans who appreciate an irreverent tale will add to their contact list Zombiebusters Exterminators, Inc. as “who ya gonna call?” the duo driving the “doobious” Mystery Machine. Harriet Klausner

Primal Heat
Crystal Jordan
Kensington Aphrodisia, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758238306


“Wicked Lord”. The Kith arrived on earth seeking their Emperor Kyber’s “One” mate in the universe. Every night, Kith Ambassador Lord Farid Arjun enters the fantasies of Army Sergeant Major Bren Preston. She cannot prevent the half-human, half-tiger from turning her sleep into a sexual fantasy; nor is she sure she would want to stop him if she could. It is his penetration of her dreams that allows Bren from keeping Farid from having her when they are awake. However, he will not quit because he knows she is his “One”; but they must protect his leader from her malevolent leader.

“Carnal Empress”. Jana Townsend knows she is in love with the Kith shapeshifter whose life she saved, risking her own, from the dastardly perfidious earth leader. However, she also relishes the incredible idea that her beloved Kith Emperor Kyber searched the universe to find his One who is her; but also fears she is not worthy of being his empress soulmate.

Primal heat contains two interconnected ET erotic romances. The lead couple in each entry is fully developed and the story line provides deep insight into the Kith culture. Although the evil scheme of the earth’s leader is over the top of the Kith Empire as it detracts from two otherwise strong romantic science fiction thrillers, sub-genre fans will enjoy Crystal Jordan’s entertaining star-crossing romances. Harriet Klausner

Immanuel's Veins
Ted Dekker
Thomas Nelson, $25.99
ISBN: 9781595540096


In 1772, Tsarina Catherine the Great sends her loyal battle hardened soldier Toma Nicolescu to Moldavia with instructions to keep the Cantemir family, especially the two sisters Lucine and Natasha, safe at all cost. Although unhappy with leaving the war zone to watch over pampered royalty, Toma understands his mission is to die if necessary to protect his charges.

Toma and his friend, also an experience warrior, Alek Cardei arrives in Moldavia to perform their task. However, Toma is attracted to Lucine while Alek likes both charming siblings. All is well until Vlad van Valerik and other travelers arrive from some obscure locale in Transylvania. The men wear black and the women wear tight fitting garb that showcases their assets. One of the newcomers “kisses” Natasha, leaving her unconscious and bloody while Alek fumes as he wants her. Soon Natasha begins visiting the outsiders while the Russian bear sworn to protect her distrusts this enigmatic stranger and his friends. However, he wonders if he suffers from jealousy as he watches angrily Vlad courts Lucine although Toma trusts his instincts as if he is in battle, which he may be.

This is a fascinating dark Christian historical thriller in which the Carpathian Mountains setting during the Catherine the Great era brings a fresh tone to the tale. The story line is fast-paced with good and bad extremely obvious as Toma is pure Old Testament angelic and Vlad is pure Dante’s Inferno devil. Although the odd use of modern phrases (especially by womanizing smart aleck Alek) more than just distracts, as it knocks armchair travelers back to our present, fans will enjoy Ted Dekker’s entertaining Eastern European vampiric historical. Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Dark Griffin, Pirate Sun, and Atlantis and Other Planets reviews

The Dark Griffin
K.J. Taylor
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019786


A Northerner son of a slave Arren Cardockson has come a long way due to his bond with Eluna the griffin who chose him and he named her. However, the teen griffiner understands in spite of the fact that his peers rule Cymria; his roots will never allow him to break through the glass ceiling. Some already feel the Northerner has been allowed to soar to high as he can. With Eluna at his side they watch over trade in the city of Eagleholm.

Arren and Eluna are assigned to catch a rogue griffin, which the Northerner hopes to make some money on this venture to pay off debts. Arren meets the nameless Dark Griffin who has lived alone in the mountainous wilderness with vague memories of his mother when he was a fledgling. They are connected, but that link harms Eluna who does leaving Arren in an emotional void in which he holds himself culpable.

This is a fascinating fantasy as readers will be enthralled by the violent nameless Dark Griffin who steals the show from his violent survival birth to his even more unrestrained savagery. Adding to the strong tale are Arren knows he is directly at fault with the foolish debt he incurred that led to the mission and Eluna’s death and the de facto racism against Northerners. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy flying the skies over K.J. Taylor’s Cymria in this outstanding fantasy. Harriet Klausner

PIRATE SUN
Karl Schroeder
Tor, $25.95
ISBN: 0765315459


In Virga, Admiral Chaison Fanning learns no good deed goes unpunished. His bodacious foray prevented an assault on his orb Slipstream; he was imprisoned for his actions, but he is liberated by he assumes his daring subversive wife Venera who when he was first captured he saw fleeing.

Returning to his town, to his amazement, Fanning is considered a traitor by those he saved; he expected the ruler who initially betrayed him to paint him as such but not his neighbors. As revolution, civil war, and outside invasion threaten the Virga spheres, he fights alongside Antaea Argyre, who is from another orb of the “system” near its edges. There he begins to understand there is much more to the universe than just what is connected to Virga’s central sun Candesce.

As with the first two books of the Virga chronicle (see SUN OF SUNS and QUEEN OF CANDESCE), it is the variety of town-spheres that make for a complex exciting science fiction saga in which anything seems possible under the sun (of Candesce that is). The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Fanning, though scorned and swiftboated continues to do what he thinks is the ethically right thing for the good of his people. His escapades never slow down as Karl Schroeder provides a strong outer space opera thriller. Harriet Klausner

Atlantis and Other Places
Harry Turtledove
Roc, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463647


The super dozen alternate history tales were all previously published in the past decade, but never together. The one volume speaks loudly as to how skilled Harry Turtledove truly is when it comes to the sub-genre where he is the champion grandmaster whether it is a saga, a novel, a novella, or a short story. In the first entry, "Audubon in Atlantis", the naturalist arrives on the island seeking rare birds. The second tale satires Bush and Bin Laden who make strange “Bedfellows”, who need each other like yin and yang. All the "News from the Front" is the news not worth printing during WW II, as Mr. Turtledove rips the main stream media. Whether it is the American leaving the ducks swimming in Central Park to attack a German castle as in “The Catcher in the Rhine”, soldier “Uncle Alf” writing from occupied Paris in 1929 to his niece about thr lazy French, r Socrates role in the Peloponnesian Wars ("The Daimon", fans will agree this anthology affirms Mr. Turtledove’s abilities whether he lampoons or just changes a pivotal moment he remains the top guru of the alternative historical universe.
Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 13, 2011

New Reviews from Barry

SOMEONE’S WATCHING, Sharon Potts, Oceanview, $25.95, 352 pages, ISBN: 97816080901366, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In her first novel, IN THEIR BLOOD, Sharon Potts introduced us to an interesting group of characters and a thrilling plot line. With this second novel, she continues in that vein with some of the same characters making an appearance in another plot driven novel of murder, blackmail and relationships.

Robbie Ivy has left her past behind working as a bartender, taken on a new boyfriend, and discovers a family she never knew existed. Her father, who she hasn’t seen in eighteen years, comes to her for help in finding her sister, Kate who has disappeared along with a friend in South Beach. The friend turns up dead and they fear the worst has happened to Kate. Seeing her father and finding out she has a sister plunges Robbie into an adventure that will involve Jeremy Stroeb and others from IN THEIR BLOOD.

As Robbie searches for Kate, see becomes involved in the club scene and starts becoming a nuisance in a scheme that involves sex slaves and blackmail. She and Jeremy find and follow clues on their own and become suspects as well.

Potts has written another fast paced novel with enough red herrings for a family fish fry. This is another satisfying suspense novel showing how normal people can get in over their heads to help out their family. Lookout for this one, it’s a winner.

TEN YEARS OF HIPPOCAMPUS PRESS, 2000-2010, Derrick Hussey, S.T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, Hippocampus Press, $7.50, 80 pages, ISBN: 9780984480289, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

In my formative years, books from Arkham House, Gnome Press, Avalon, and the other small presses were only available in libraries, and it was only the progressive libraries that bothered with them. It was a discerning reader or one recognized by the head librarian that managed to see these titles. Fortunately, our library had these on the general reader shelves in the horror or science fiction section. These were the first sections I went to during my weekly visit.

I’m guessing the authors of this title and founders of Hippocampus Press had the same type of librarian to help them fuel their curiosity and sow the seeds that took root and have helped it grow into what it is today.

This is more than a list of books they have published, it is a history of the past ten years in weird fiction and nurturing authors whose writing are not exactly mainstream. Arkham House was created to save the writings of Lovecraft and Hippocampus Press was founded to follow in those footsteps and continue to break new ground.

From Joshi’s scholarly works on Lovecraft, to new Mythos stories, studies of Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard, novels by Adam Niswander, and collections of stories from new writers, Hippocampus fills a very necessary place in keeping Eldritch Horror alive and well.

This is a history and a checklist that fills a place of honor on the bookshelves. I can’t wait to see what they came come up with in the next ten years to fill the second volume.

BLOTTO, TWINKS AND THE EX-KING’S DAUGHTER, Simon Brett, Felony & Mayhem Press, $14.95, 211 pages, ISBN: 9781934609699, reviewed by Barry Hunter.


In this satisfying first novel in a new British mystery series, we have the Wimsey of Lord Peter, the banter of Nick & Nora Charles, and the charm of Hercule Poirot. It is a fun easy read that takes the reader on a rousing ride across Europe with Blotto and his sister, Twinks.

The Ex-King of Mitteleuropa is visiting Tawcester Towers where one of his guards is murdered. This puts our two siblings into detective mode as they seek to solve the case. As normal life, including a fox hunt, goes on, another body is discovered as well as a plot to kidnap the ex-king’s daughter.

When the kidnapping occurs, Blotto and his devoted valet set out for Mittleuropa to save her and try to regain the throne no matter what the obstacle. Besides they have a really great car.

This is a terrific read and should be a hit with those who remember The Thin Man, Nick & Nora Charles, and the other soft boiled gumshoes of the 1940s. This is the first of a series and I hope it is not too long before another volume is available.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Demon Underground, Elfsorrow, and Frost Moon Reviews

Demon Underground
S.L. Wright
Roc, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463678


Allay tends the Den on C bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in order to dine off the anguished emotions of human patrons who drink there though she finds doing that an abomination even though she has somewhat adapted. She is a one of a kind type of demon; as she is a human who ingested the life force of a demon. Her scent signature differs from demons who would all love to feed off her. Allay’s offspring Bliss seems more adjusted than she while her BFF Shock warns her not to trust Theo Ram who has killed his offspring for many millennia. Allay is attracted to Ram.

Being a unique hybrid places her in an odd position of no one trusting her and thus she is the perfect individual to foster an agreement to end the squabble between powerful fighting demons. However, as she works on the place, Allay has some doubts about what is going on. She fears she is being used as an expendable discard and though feeling paranoid as she believes assassins are flooding the streets with her as a target; she goes underground knowing the hostilities is about to explode into open urban warfare.

The second demon urban fantasy (see Confession of a Demon) continues the Manhattan saga of Allay trying to survive in a world where she feels she does not belong. The action-packed story line will hook readers from the onset as the heroine is trapped in a deadly demonic tug of war. Although it pays dividends to read the first exhilarating thriller to better understand key players especially the heroine, a mix of California mellow and New York shtick, Demon Underground is a super tale. Harriet Klausner

Elfsorrow
James Barclay
PYR, $17.00
ISBN: 9781616142483


Following the cessation of the horrific war between the four colleges of magic (see Chronicles of the Raven: Dawnthief, Noonshade and Nightchild), Balaia survivors struggle to stay alive. Making matters worse during the ordeal is the desecration of the Elven god Yniss Temple has revealed a previously unknown plague Elfsorrow that is further destroyed the already devastated land.

The Raven Mercenaries have no time to rest as they trek to the new continent Calaius, which was the ancient home of the elven. They seek mages to end to the conflict. Others also arrive with plans to plunder the island by stealing magic and mages. At the same time in Balaia, Selik and his Black Wings anti-magic insurgency demands the leaders vow to not use magic as no one any longer trusts in this type of force.

The opening act of the Legends of the Raven fantasy is a terrific complex follow-up to the harrowing war vividly described in the Chronicles of the Raven trilogy as the survivors hope to get on with their lives in the aftermath. The story line is fast-paced even with several major subplots that ties cleverly together. Mindful of “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq, readers will appreciate James Barclay’s superb thriller as the war is won, yet the peace remains unsteadily unresolved. Harriet Klausner

Frost Moon
Anthony Francis
Bell Bridge Books, $16.95
www.bellbridgebooks.com
ISBN: 9780984325689


In Atlanta six foot plus Mohawk wearing Dakota Frost runs the Rogue Unicorn in Little Five Points. She claims to be the best kick-butt magical tattooist in the Southeast. Her clients include witches and shapeshifters as she is a super skindancing tattooist. Dakota hates bloodsuckers like Republicans and vampires; in her mind both rule the world with one more overt about their dining on others.

Atlanta Police department Homicide detective Rand, who is close to Dakota’s father, asks her to come to the station. There he shows her evidence of ripped off human skin with a tattoo on it pinned to a board. Rand asks Dakota questions as to what the magical tattoo does; she says it is the work of Richard Sumner, buried in Cincinnati in 2005. Rand says he needs her help open the case where as the normally offensive amazon just wants to puke as the wood is actually a box containing more epidermis. Obviously a serial killer is murdering the tattooed. She knows if she assists the cops and Feds, she will be drawn away from drinking coffee at gentile outdoor cafes with patrons like witches into the darkest slum of the city; Edgeworld where the nastiest paranormal live amidst the tormented souls.

Although too much of the Francis universe is introduced in the first SKINDANCER urban fantasy, fans will enjoy this terrific paranormal amateur sleuth. In many ways the story line reads like an otherworldly noir starring the latest six foot plus kick butt female tattooist (see Ellie Jasper’s Dark Ink Chronicles and Karen E. Olson’s The Tattoo Shop). Dakota’s take no prisoners’ investigation provides readers with the vivid vision of Anthony Francis’ Atlanta Underground inside an exhilarating thriller. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 11, 2011

Upcoming releases

River Marked
Patricia Briggs
Ace, Mar 1 2011, $26.95
ISBN: 9780441019731


The werewolves outed themselves and while humans debate the politics of the species living in their midst, car mechanic Mercy Thompson is a walker who can turn into a coyote at will. She is busy trying to elope with Adam the alpha werewolf of the Columbia Basin Poole. Her friends and family want to throw a wedding for the couple before they depart on their honeymoon along the banks of the Columbia River.

When Mercy finds out the Fae gave them a luxurious camper; she is upset because the Fae do not do favors without an exorbitant price. The fae wants her to investigate the disappearance of several people along the river. What they find is that there is an essence known as the river devil that is in a symbiotic relationship with the fae otterkin that looks human but is a deadly predator. She distances herself from the river devil who has marked her. The God Coyote informs Mercy about her parentage and she has a role to play as part of her heritage to end the river devil’s reign of terror while a frustrated Adam must back away.

River Marked is a wonderful urban fantasy that has characters who touch the souls of readers especially the lead couple; a loving duet who lives for today as they may not see the morrow. Coyote the Trickster and the other gods of native American mythology enhances the Mercy mythos. With a strong cast including other walkers and a terrific malevolence, fans of the saga will relish Mercy’s honeymoon. Harriet Klausner

Equations of Life
Simon Morden
Orbit, Apr 1 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316125185


In the future, globally the world has radically changed, but not for the better. Japan no longer exists and Britain might as well not exist. Most other places are not better off. For instance America the land of the free has turned its back on the Founding Fathers’ First Amendment by becoming a theocracy and much of Russia was nuked.

Ph.D. candidate Samuil Petrovitch lives in the rotting London Metrozone. Though the Russian knows better than to get involved as the only known survivor of the St. Petersburg nuking, he intervenes in an abduction attempt preventing the kidnapping of woman who thanks him saying she is Sonja; daughter of a dangerous person. Alongside of police officer Harry Chain and Madeleine the violent nun, Samuil soon learns what happens to Good Samaritans when he is caught in the crosshairs of a lethal street war between Russian gangsters, an even deadlier business tycoon Yakuza and a new even more lethal Jihad. He muses his problems came about because he broke the first rule of survival of the fittest: don’t get involved.

This is an exciting futuristic science fiction starring an antihero who knows the Equations of Life logically mean stay out of everyone else’s life; yet he begins emotionally to comprehend that may be life bit that is not living. Samuil and the cast make for wonderfully dark future although some of the escapades seem a bit over the top of Big Ben, still ticking after all these bombs. Readers will enjoy what happens to the logical man who makes his first illogical decision since before he survived the annihilation of St. Petersburg. Harriet Klausner

Reviews from Harriet

PIRATE SUN
Karl Schroeder
Tor, $25.95
ISBN: 0765315459


In Virga, Admiral Chaison Fanning learns no good deed goes unpunished. His bodacious foray prevented an assault on his orb Slipstream; he was imprisoned for his actions, but he is liberated by he assumes his daring subversive wife Venera who when he was first captured he saw fleeing.

Returning to his town, to his amazement, Fanning is considered a traitor by those he saved; he expected the ruler who initially betrayed him to paint him as such but not his neighbors. As revolution, civil war, and outside invasion threaten the Virga spheres, he fights alongside Antaea Argyre, who is from another orb of the “system” near its edges. There he begins to understand there is much more to the universe than just what is connected to Virga’s central sun Candesce.

As with the first two books of the Virga chronicle (see SUN OF SUNS and QUEEN OF CANDESCE), it is the variety of town-spheres that make for a complex exciting science fiction saga in which anything seems possible under the sun (of Candesce that is). The story line is fast-paced from the onset as Fanning, though scorned and swiftboated continues to do what he thinks is the ethically right thing for the good of his people. His escapades never slow down as Karl Schroeder provides a strong outer space opera thriller. Harriet Klausner

Atlantis and other Places
Harry Turtledove
Roc, $24.95
ISBN: 9780451463647


The super dozen alternate history tales were all previously published in the past decade, but never together. The one volume speaks loudly as to how skilled Harry Turtledove truly is when it comes to the sub-genre where he is the champion grandmaster whether it is a saga, a novel, a novella, or a short story. In the first entry, "Audubon in Atlantis", the naturalist arrives on the island seeking rare birds. The second tale satires Bush and Bin Laden who make strange “Bedfellows”, who need each other like yin and yang. All the "News from the Front" is the news not worth printing during WW II, as Mr. Turtledove rips the main stream media. Whether it is the American leaving the ducks swimming in Central Park to attack a German castle as in “The Catcher in the Rhine”, soldier “Uncle Alf” writing from occupied Paris in 1929 to his niece about thr lazy French, r Socrates role in the Peloponnesian Wars ("The Daimon", fans will agree this anthology affirms Mr. Turtledove’s abilities whether he lampoons or just changes a pivotal moment he remains the top guru of the alternative historical universe.
Harriet Klausner

The Messiah Secret
James Becker
Signet, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451412980


British Museum supervisor Roger Halliwell sends one of his staff ceramics conservator Angela Lewis, who is not as assessor to evaluate the value of the collection left by recently murdered aristocrat Oliver Wendell-Carfax. She convinces her former husband police detective Chris Bronson, to meet with her at Carfax Hall in Suffolk as she feels unsafe. Angela finds a crate of pottery with one containing the find of the century; a parchment written by noted first century Jewish Scholar Hillel who makes the first known reference by a peer to Jesus outside of the New Testament.

The conservator and the cop find other clues that point to the ancient treasure the pair has previously sought unsuccessfully (see The First Apostle and The Moses Stone). However, once again the road to the artifact is dangerous as a fanatical lunatic priest will kill in the Lord’s name to keep the treasure buried and an avaricious capitalist hires thugs to kill in order to insure he obtains the object.

The key to the third Lewis-Bronson tale is the pair themselves who brings an acceptable level of lightheartedness (sort of like a modern day Nick and Nora the sleuth not the playlist) that makes for a fresh Brownian thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the opening scene when the elderly Carfax thwarts his assailant while going to his death with a smile and never slows down until the final confrontation far from Suffolk. Readers will appreciate the latest escapades of Lewis and Bronson as they follow leads while dodging two groups of assassins.
Harriet Klausner

Port Mortuary
Patricia Cornwell
Putnam, $27.95
ISBN: 9780399157219


Dr. Kay Scarpetta is the new director of the Cambridge Forensic Center in Massachusetts. Working with her at the Massachusetts facility is her niece Lucy and Pete Marino. Kay attends a training fellowship at Port Mortuary in Dover Air Force Base where she is learning the latest technology that she can apply at the CFC. While she is at the Delaware installation, her second in command Jack Fielding runs CFC until he freaks out when a corpse starts bleeding.

Knowing Jack cannot cope with the situation, Kay returns home having finished the course anyway. When she arrives at CFC, she finds the inmates running the asylum. Scarpetta takes 3-D virtual technology x-rays, which shows internal injuries unlike any she has seen before. She has no idea what weapon could have caused such damage. Benton is working a case in which a suspect swore he killed a child, but he believes the confession is false as he thinks the victim’s death is connected to Scarpetta’s odd case. Soon there are two more deaths seemingly separate cases but Scarpetta makes connections that tie her victim to Benton’s case and feels all the deaths are linked but her husband is not talking about the cases as he usually does.

Ignoring that Scarpetta as the director would not have time for bench work and follow-up especially on a new Fed-State-MIT venture; her latest forensic inquiry is a fantastic thriller with the lab work as gripping if not more so as the foot work. Told in the first person by the heroine, readers obtain Scarpetta’s perspective on the case, her marriage, her new job, Dover (past and present), and her feeling about Lucy and Marino. The story line retains throughout a fast pace and is action-packed even in the lab as Patricia Cornwell interweaves state of the art technology (we’ve come a long ways from the Body farm) into a strong whodunit.
Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Demon Underground, Frost Moon, and The Dark Griffin reviewed

Demon Underground
S.L. Wright
Roc, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451463678


Allay tends the Den on C bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in order to dine off the anguished emotions of human patrons who drink there though she finds doing that an abomination even though she has somewhat adapted. She is a one of a kind type of demon; as she is a human who ingested the life force of a demon. Her scent signature differs from demons who would all love to feed off her. Allay’s offspring Bliss seems more adjusted than she while her BFF Shock warns her not to trust Theo Ram who has killed his offspring for many millennia. Allay is attracted to Ram.

Being a unique hybrid places her in an odd position of no one trusting her and thus she is the perfect individual to foster an agreement to end the squabble between powerful fighting demons. However, as she works on the place, Allay has some doubts about what is going on. She fears she is being used as an expendable discard and though feeling paranoid as she believes assassins are flooding the streets with her as a target; she goes underground knowing the hostilities is about to explode into open urban warfare.

The second demon urban fantasy (see Confession of a Demon) continues the Manhattan saga of Allay trying to survive in a world where she feels she does not belong. The action-packed story line will hook readers from the onset as the heroine is trapped in a deadly demonic tug of war. Although it pays dividends to read the first exhilarating thriller to better understand key players especially the heroine, a mix of California mellow and New York shtick, Demon Underground is a super tale. Harriet Klausner

Frost Moon
Anthony Francis
Bell Bridge Books, $16.95
www.bellbridgebooks.com
ISBN: 9780984325689


In Atlanta six foot plus Mohawk wearing Dakota Frost runs the Rogue Unicorn in Little Five Points. She claims to be the best kick-butt magical tattooist in the Southeast. Her clients include witches and shapeshifters as she is a super skindancing tattooist. Dakota hates bloodsuckers like Republicans and vampires; in her mind both rule the world with one more overt about their dining on others.

Atlanta Police department Homicide detective Rand, who is close to Dakota’s father, asks her to come to the station. There he shows her evidence of ripped off human skin with a tattoo on it pinned to a board. Rand asks Dakota questions as to what the magical tattoo does; she says it is the work of Richard Sumner, buried in Cincinnati in 2005. Rand says he needs her help open the case where as the normally offensive amazon just wants to puke as the wood is actually a box containing more epidermis. Obviously a serial killer is murdering the tattooed. She knows if she assists the cops and Feds, she will be drawn away from drinking coffee at gentile outdoor cafes with patrons like witches into the darkest slum of the city; Edgeworld where the nastiest paranormal live amidst the tormented souls.

Although too much of the Francis universe is introduced in the first SKINDANCER urban fantasy, fans will enjoy this terrific paranormal amateur sleuth. In many ways the story line reads like an otherworldly noir starring the latest six foot plus kick butt female tattooist (see Ellie Jasper’s Dark Ink Chronicles and Karen E. Olson’s The Tattoo Shop). Dakota’s take no prisoners’ investigation provides readers with the vivid vision of Anthony Francis’ Atlanta Underground inside an exhilarating thriller. Harriet Klausner

The Dark Griffin
K.J. Taylor
Ace, $7.99
ISBN: 9780441019786


A Northerner son of a slave Arren Cardockson has come a long way due to his bond with Eluna the griffin who chose him and he named her. However, the teen griffiner understands in spite of the fact that his peers rule Cymria; his roots will never allow him to break through the glass ceiling. Some already feel the Northerner has been allowed to soar to high as he can. With Eluna at his side they watch over trade in the city of Eagleholm.

Arren and Eluna are assigned to catch a rogue griffin, which the Northerner hopes to make some money on this venture to pay off debts. Arren meets the nameless Dark Griffin who has lived alone in the mountainous wilderness with vague memories of his mother when he was a fledgling. They are connected, but that link harms Eluna who does leaving Arren in an emotional void in which he holds himself culpable.

This is a fascinating fantasy as readers will be enthralled by the violent nameless Dark Griffin who steals the show from his violent survival birth to his even more unrestrained savagery. Adding to the strong tale are Arren knows he is directly at fault with the foolish debt he incurred that led to the mission and Eluna’s death and the de facto racism against Northerners. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy flying the skies over K.J. Taylor’s Cymria in this outstanding fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Barsoom Project, Home for a Spell, and Tempted by Fate revewed


The Barsoom Project
Larry Niven and Steven Barnes
Tor, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765326683


At Dream Park, the participants have signed on to play "Fat-Ripper Special". The rules are simple: exercise and behavior modification when it comes to eating habits. In other words, the gamers are paying big bucks to lose big weight through new memes.

As the firm who runs Dream Park begins work on the Barsoom Project expedition of Mars, investment capital is needed. Everything involving the weight loss role playing program must go smoothly or else. However, Dream Park Security Chief Alec Griffin realizes the facility is under attack by nefarious capitalist Kareem Fekesh who wants to own the theme park and much more. One of the gamers, Eviane after a stay at a mental asylum following her previous visit to Dream Park when holograms she killed turned out to be real people; returns with hopes to recover missing aspects of her memory that a stalker plans to never allow happen.

This is a reprint of the second Dream Park science fiction thriller that merges Inuit mythos with gaming technology. Although well written especially the gaming confrontation between Griffin and Fekesh, this lacks the unique freshness of the first novel. Also like Dream Park, the ironically titled The Barsoom Project is not for everyone as the targeted audience is predominantly players; who will find this is an interesting enjoyable tale. Harriet Klausner

Home for a Spell
Madelyn Alt
Berkley, $24.95
ISBN: 978042523867


Stony Mill, Indiana is a charming small town known as the antiques capital of the Midwest. It used to be a quiet place where nothing major occurred, but in the last year a string of murders unconnected to each other has occurred. Maggie O’Neill, who works at the Enchantments antique shop, is an empath who channels her Spirit Guides and at times casts a magick spell. Her lover Marcus Quinn and her boss Felicity “Liss” Dow are experienced with the paranormal arts.

Maggie lives with Marcus since she broke her ankle and needs his help to get around. When she realizes he is going to delay attending college to take care of her, she decides to move into her own place. Maggie gets a good deal on a rental but when they go to sign the lease, they find the complex manager dead in the pool. Using Marcus’ mundane skills and Maggie’s arcane gifts, they work with the police to find out what was on a flash drive and a hard drive that was smashed to smithereens. What they learn explains why he was murdered, but who the perpetrator is remains blank.

This whimsical amateur sleuth small town urban fantasy mystery is pure magic as is the overall series (see A Witch In Time). Maggie has matured considerably in the past year as she has learned to love her skills rather than rue having them. The murder is believable and the characters ring true. However, Home for a Spell belongs to the lead couple as the author casts a spellbinder of a tale on enchanted readers. Harriet Klausner

Tempted by Fate
Kate Perry
Grand Central, $7.99
ISBN: 9780446564625


Willow Tarata’s fate was settled when she was ten years old when the beast she called “The Bad Man” killed her mom. Her quest ever since she saw her mom viciously murdered has been to kill this man. Like her mom before her, she is a Guardian of Wood, who for twenty years has followed the blood trail of the evil Bad Man.

Willow learns of a strange homicide in San Francisco. She rushes to the City by the Bay, but not only is she too late, the evidence points to her as a serial killer as two other similar homicides have occurred. Known for adhering rigidly to standard operating procedures, SFPD homicide detective Rick Ramirez is reasonably sure she is the predator hunting his city, but his heart refuses to accept what he sees so he delays what he knows he must do. Still even blinded by his feelings, Rick believes that somehow Willow is the root to solving the murders.

This excellent Guardians of Destiny urban romantic fantasy (see Marked by Passion and Chosen by Desire) is made fresh by the heroine whose psychological acceptance of wandering, living and dying alone is her essence until Rick shakes her soul. Opposites in personality, Rick and Willow make a strong yin and yang team though each has trust issues when it comes to love having your back. Kate Perry provides a strong entry with this pairing as the duet prepares to fight a malevolent serial killing predator; both wonder if their partner truly has their back since they already have their heart. Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 7, 2011

Captive Spirit, Eternal Flame, and What the Night Knows Reviewed

Captive Spirit
Anna Windsor
Ballantine, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345513892


The Dark Crescent Sisterhood defeated their archenemy the malevolent Legion (see Bound by Light); the cost of victory was exorbitant. Earth Sibyl Bela suffers from survivor guilt as her compatriots in the Triad are dead. Feeling she has no time to grieve, Bela decides to create a new Sibyl team of four not three.

Bela feels fortunate to meet Water Sibyl Andy right away. That is followed by two more Sibyls Camille and Dio joining them. The quartet sets up in New York City where they come across the Rakshasa ancient tiger demons growing in strength and currently battling NYPD Detective Duncan Sharp. He is already possessed by his wanted for serial murder former friend’s soul and is now infected by these dangerous paranormal killers. Bela takes Duncan with her and her new team in case she must insure he does not go evil; if he does she will kill the cop she cherishes.

The latest Dark Crescent Sisterhood urban romantic fantasy (see Bound by Shadow) begins a new arch starring a sibyl suffering from post traumatic stress disorder compounded by survivor guilt syndrome and a cop allegedly possessed by a serial killer. The storyline starts a bit slower than usual as Anna Windsor introduces the fearsome foursome to each other. Once done, the quartet meets the cop as the tale accelerates into a fast-paced action thriller. Bela who played second fiddle in the “Bound” trilogy makes Captive Spirit a strong entry as she must decide whether to kill her apparently possessed infected soul mate. Harriet Klausner

Eternal Flame
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758242136


In New Orleans, Night Watch Zane Wynter rescues a female from a fiery death; he was unable to save the other occupant vampire serial killing demon Henry Jacobson who he came to arrest. Zane kisses the vamp’s bitch he rescued. His mistake was not realizing who and what she is as she took out a malevolent demon and destroyed the evidence. Using an ambulance she leaves the murder scene.

Zane’s boss Pak believes an Ignitor set this flame and several others that killed the supernatural. Pak assigns Zane his best bounty hunter who can handle the fire to capture the serial killing Ignitor. Abashed as he was duped, Zane goes after Jana Carter who flees for Baton Rouge. Zane actually feels sorry for Jana; as he shares a similar horrific upbringing being forced to kill to survive as a half-breed demon-human child. However, he will do his duty. Instead he joins her flight from a deadly secretive cartel whose goal is the genocide of all monsters. What neither knows is that the group wanting them dead has plans to use Jana as a weapon of mass destruction to murder the Others before killing her.

This is an exhilarating Others urban fantasy (see Eternal Hunter) as two obstinate individuals play a deadly game of cat and mouse unaware that in the shadows lurks a deadlier predator manipulating both of them in a bigger game. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action from the first scream of help by the vamp’s bitch and never slows down as the couple must trust one another to watch their back or die, which may happen anyway. Although the romance feels more of a sub-genre requirement that is forced into the plot; readers will enjoy the gender war of survival between the Ignitor and the Night Watch enforcer. Harriet Klausner

What the Night Knows
Dean Koontz
Bantam, $28.00
ISBN: 9780553807721


Providing no explanation afterward as to why he committed the atrocity, fourteen year old Billy Lucas simply butchered his family. Homicide detective John Calvino knows Billy’s case hits too close to home. Two decades ago serial killer Alton Turner Blackwood slaughtered John’s family and three other families; only John survived by shooting the maniac who was in the midst of a deranged ritual.

John has always feared that Blackwood was possessed by a malevolent spirit who the cop believes has not finished the job. His fear is not so much for himself, but for his wife and their three children. John visits the teen at a psychiatric ward, but as soon as he leaves his family members especially his preadolescent kids begin to feel haunted. John knows time is running out for him to prevent history from repeating itself; perhaps his only reliable ally though he has doubts of the existence and the loyalty is Willard; his family’s deceased dog.

This is an exciting horror thriller that grips the reader with the same high level o Michelle Beattief suspense that Dean Koontz always achieves. The behavior of the four Calvino family members in some ways reflect the inane behavior of a teen-slasher movie, as each conceals what is happening to them from each other. With a nod to the OK Corral, fans will enjoy the supernatural battle between Calvino and the evil essences from beyond even as Mr. Koontz sets up a potential sequel. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Supernatural Stories, Vampires, and Dragons, Oh My

The Other Side
J.D. Robb, Mary Blayney, Patricia Gaffney, Ruth Ryan Langan and MaryKay McComas
Jove, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515148671


“Possession in Death” by J.D. Robb. In 2060, NYPD Lieutenant Eve Dallas takes Father Lopez home when elderly Hungarian Gizi runs in front of her car. She begs the warrior cop to save her Beata. Eve’s team arrives to find a cold corpse of Gizi though a stunned Eve has just spoken to the deceased.

“The Other Side of the Coin” by Mary Blayney. In 1810 Bettina tells her husband Harry he is having an affair; he denies it. Bettina makes a wish on a coin as does Harry. Their wishes are granted as each wears the shoes of the other having switched bodies.

“The Dancing Ghost” by Patricia Gaffney. In 1895, spirit investigator Henry visits Massachusetts where house owner Angeiolina insists the ghosts of a dancing ancestor and her cuckolded husband occupy her home.

“Almost in Heaven” by Ruth Ryan Langan. At the Copper Creek Country Club, Vanessa and Ted throw an engagement party for their daughter Christina and her fiancĂ© Mark. Vanessa and Ted leave to go home with their six years old son Tyler who suffers from Autism, but the brakes fail killing them. Mark pressures Christina to marry him. Christina delays the marriage to stay with Tyler. The deceased couple soon learns the shocking truth.

“Never Too Late To Love” by MaryKay McComas. Thirtyish accountant M.J. wants her late mother’s house torn down as she plans to sell the property. She finds inside the ghosts of her late mom and two aunts. The three sisters cannot leave until they find what they lost, but none know what they lost.

Each tale is a solid well written fun entry using a different plot device or setting making the anthology fresh in spite of the novella format not lending itself to character development. Harriet Klausner

Night of the Vampires
Heather Graham
Harlequin HQN, $7.99
ISBN: 9780373774869


During the Civil War as the Northern and Southern armies fight, an insidious threat to both uses the fog of combat to kill soldiers from both camps. Vampires are dining on humans.

At an infested prison, Texas Sheriff, Cole Granger and two allies are destroying the infection when a lightning fast woman appears in their midst. Half breed Megan Fox works for Robert E. Lee in an effort to exterminate the non human half of her gene pool, vampires. She also seeks to find her brother Cody who is one of Cole’s two anti-vampires associates. Cole is attracted to Megan but distrusts her until President Lincoln sends them to Harper's Ferry to find the grave of the vampire child who apparently started the current epidemic. However, to bring peace to the child, they must endure the all night attacks from the vampires, but to do so each must trust their heart not their head.

The key to this exciting historical romantic fantasy is the matter of acceptance that vampires exist and had a role to play in the horrors of the war. With that premise, Heather Graham presents a strong saga as his love must overcome his instinctive bias against vampires, even half breeds; and she must trust a purebred with what is left of her soul. If not, this pair will die before the night is through. Readers will appreciate this strong Civil War drama as the paranormal elements are cleverly intertwined in the story line. Harriet Klausner

Day of the Dragon
Rebecca York
Berkley, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425238189


Although the shapeshifter Ramsey Gallagher defeated his enemy twin Vandar the psychopathic half-dragon half-vampire, he paid quite a cost. Ramsey apparently lost his skill to shift into dragon form as well as other innate abilities like mentally rolling the dice.

In Las Vegas, however that does not prevent him from seeking more information about his unknown heritage. As such he intends to attend a lecture presented by Dr. Madison Dartmoor on her findings in an ancient Italian tomb located near the site where he was found by himself as a small child. However, a nasty assault on the excavation site leads to the presentation being cancelled. While deciding what next Ramsey stops an attack on Madison. He feels a need to keep her safe from her overwhelming enemies who want her dead.

The latest super “Moon” romantic fantasy (see Dragon Moon) looks deep at the good twin after he defeated his bad seed brother as the winner suffers a form of paranormal post traumatic stress disorder with his psychological consequences as nasty as the physical. Yet even with a profound look into the second order effects of the epic sibling battle on Ramsey, Rebecca York provides plenty of action as for the first time he considers risking his heart with Madison, the woman he cherishes more than his soul. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SF Crowsnest Top 100 of 2010

PRESS RELEASE LONDON & NEW YORK 4th February 2011.

THE HYPER HUNDRED: THE TOP 100 FANTASY & SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS FOR 2010

The numbers have been tallied for last year, and here are the charts for the Top 100 fantasy, science fiction and horror books as voted for by the readers of fantasy and science fiction magazine www.SFcrowsnest.com over the course of last year.

There's some great books riding high in the list, including Hidden Empire, Kraken, Coraline and Best Served Cold.

Chart Position - Title - Votes Cast

1 . Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie - (1527)
2 . Coraline by Neil Gaiman - (1499)
3 . Kraken by China Mieville - (1340)
4 . Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds - (1226)
5 . Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card - (1211)
6 . Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson - (1205)
7 . The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi - (1193)
8 . Regenesis by C.J. Cherryh - (1179)
9 . Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent - (1174)
10 . Desolation Road by Ian McDonald - (1162)
11 . Changes (The Dresden Files book 12) by Jim Butcher - (1157)
12 . Blonde Bombshell by Tom Holt - (1155)
13 . The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross - (1150)
14 . A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury - (1147)
15 . The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon - (1120)
16 . No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon - (1099)
17 . The Restoration Game by Ken Macleod - (1089)
18 . The Light Of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter - (1087)
19 . Splinter by Adam Roberts - (1086)
20 . Tales Of The Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong - (1081)
21 . Orphaned Worlds by Michael Cobley - (1072)
22 . The Stars Like Dust by Isaac Asimov - (1070)
23 . The Rise Of The Iron Moon by Stephen Hunt - (1063)
24 . Fool's Fate by Robin Hobb - (1060)
25 . The Passage by Justin Cronin - (1055)
26 . Up The Bright River by Philip Jose Farmer - (1038)
27 . Angelglass by David Barnett - (1035)
28 . Boneshaker by Cheri Priest - (1030)
29 . The Summoning (The Darkest Powers book 1) by Kelley Armstrong - (1027)
30 . Dragongirl by Todd McCaffrey - (1024)
31 . Necropath by Eric Brown - (1023)
32 . The Winds Of Dune by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson - (1000)
33 . A Mighty Fortress by David Weber - (999)
34 . Starship: Flagship by Mike Resnick - (995)
35 . Dragon Age: The Calling by David Gaider - (992)
36 . Marked by PC and Kristen Cast - (990)
37 . Elric: In The Dream Realms by Michael Moorcock and illustrated by Michael Wm. Kaluta - (989)
38 . Mammoth Book Of Best New SF 21 - (988)
39 . Brian Lumley's Necroscope: The Plague-Bearers by Brian Lumley - (987)
40 . Havemercy by Jaida Jones and Danielle Bennett - (972)
41 . The Osiris Ritual (A Newbury And Hobbes Investigation) by George Mann - (968)
42 . The Thingummy by Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum - (965)
43 . The Terminal State by Jeff Somers - (963)
44 . The Kosher Guide To Imaginary Animals by Ann & Jeff Vandermeer - (962)
45 . The Nemesis List by R.J. Firth - (956)
46 . Necroscope: Harry And The Pirates by Brian Lumley - (955)
47 . Small Miracles by Edward M. Lerner - (951)
48 . Zendegi by Greg Egan - (950)
49 . Metal Swarm by Kevin J. Anderson - (944)
50 . The Superman Guide To Life boxset - (929)
51 . The Best Of H.P. Lovecraft - (915)
52 . Clementine by Cherie Priest - (904)
53 . Nights Of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton - (902)
54 . Orcs Bad Blood 2: Army Of Shadows by Stan Nicholls - (900)
55 . The Adamantine Palace by Stephen Deas - (898)
56 . The Edge Chronicles: Clash Of The Sky Galleons by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - (888)
57 . Hawkmoon: The Mad God's Amulet by Michael Moorcock - (883)
58 . Eternal Vigilance III: Bound In Blood - (882)
59 . Fun With Rainbows by Gareth Owens - (881)
60 . Primary Inversion by Catherine Asaro - (880)
61 . Hard-Luck Diggings: The Early Jack Vance - (876)
62 . Galileo's Dream by Kim Stanley Robinson - (867)
63 . We, Robots edited by Allan Kaster - (865)
64 . The Palace At Midnight by Robert Silverberg - (860)
65 . Guardians Of Paradise by Jaine Fenn - (856)
66 . Writers Of The Future: The First 25 Years - (854)
67 . Engineman by Eric Brown - (854)
68 . Bitter Angels by C.L. Anderson - (852)
69 . Catacombs by Anne McCaffrey - (847)
70 . The Superman Handbook by Scott Beatty - (845)
71 . The Machinery Of Light by David J. Williams - (843)
72 . Freedom by Daniel Suarez - (838)
73 . Grave Secret (Harper Connelly series book 4) by Charlaine Harris - (825)
74 . In His Majesty's Service (Three Novels of Temeraire) by Naomi Novik - (793)
75 . Once Bitten, Twice Shy by Jennifer Rardin - (792)
76 . Drood by Dan Simmons - (790)
77 . A Mighty Fortress audio book by David Weber - (787)
78 . Superman: Earth One by J. Michael Straczynski - (783)
79 . The Boys Are Back In Town by Christopher Golden - (782)
80 . Sherlock Holmes: The Seventh Bullet - (777)
81 . Icons: The DC And Wildstorm Art Of Jim Lee - (775)
82 . The Devil's Playground by Jenna Black - (756)
83 . The War Of The Dwarves by Markus Heitz - (747)
84 . New Model Army by Adam Roberts - (745)
85 . The Book On Fire by Keith Miller - (739)
86 . Seeds Of Earth (Book One of Humanity's Fire) by Michael Cobley - (732)
87 . The Gabble And Other Stories by Neal Asher - (729)
88 . The Sweet Scent Of Blood: Spellcrackers.com by Suzanne McLeod - (727)
89 . Out Of The Dark by David Webber - (727)
90 . Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker - (724)
91 . Crimson Shadows: The Best Of Robert E. Howard Volume One - (716)
92 . The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong - (714)
93 . Black Glass by John Shirley - (705)
94 . Burning Shadows by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro - (703)
95 . Lift Off by Scott Robertson - (700)
96 . All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris - (692)
97 . Elves Once Walked With Gods by James Barclay - (685)
98 . Swiftly by Adam Roberts - (680)
99 . In The Night Garden by Catherynne M. Valente - (669)
100 . Werewolves Of Montpellier by Jason - (668)

Werewolves, Prince Charming and Songs of Love

Marked by the Moon
Lori Handeland
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312389345


Werewolves killed Alexandra Trevalyn’s parents when she was a little girl. The Jager-Sucher raise her and she becomes a dedicated hunter; suicidal in many ways as she is willing to die in her efforts to kill the beasts.

Werewolf Julian Barlow stalks Alex who killed his mate. When he defeats her, she looks forward to his killing her. Instead he obtains his revenge differently. He changes her into a werewolf so she can learn to stop stereotyping his species as brainless monsters, as not all werewolves were created by the Mengele experiments; he has been one centuries before the Nazi did his dastardly conversions. Julian takes a stunned forlorn Alex to his Alaskan pack where she will either adapt or obtain her wish. Neither realized that an evil predator is killing for sport targeting the pack.

The latest Nightcreature saga (See Thunder Moon) is a fabulous entry in a strong series as the Twilight Zone twist of changing a predator into one your kind is deftly handled mostly by how Alex reacts over the course of a strong story line. The sporting killer segue adds suspense that serves as a key catalyst in moving forward the plot, but clearly this is Alexandra’s tale. With a stark Alaskan backdrop to augment the tale of revenge turns bitter, fans of Lori Handeland’ s romantic fantasy will appreciate Julian’s efforts to change the behavior of his soulmate as she wants to wake up with her in his bed and no knife protruding from his ribs. Harriet Klausner

Prince Charming Doesn’t Live Here
Christine Warren
St. Martin’s, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312947941


In Manhattan the firm’s most senior partner octogenarian Matthew Yorke IV directs attorney Danice Carter to find his granddaughter Rosemary Addison and persuade her to file a paternity suit. He blames Rosemary’s pregnancy on the girl’s father Tom who had nothing to do with his daughter. Rosemary’s need for love led her to a low life who ditched her when she became pregnant. Danice wants nothing to do with the personal matter, but refusing is not an option unless she wants her career to end so she is expected to file a palimony suit in Connecticut.

She heads to new Canaan to meet Rosemary, but when she arrives she finds the woman missing in spite of their telephonic discussion just prior to her drive. Soon afterward her inquiry leads half-Fae-human private investigator Mac Callahan to Danice as he is also searching for Rosemary. His purebred Faerie client has been silent as to why a human is sought. Mac decides to return to Faerie, a place he left as a baby, to learn the motive. Danice insists she accompany him though he fears the trip will prove dangerous as he wonders if the treacherous Unseelie Court is the instigator.

The latest Others romantic fantasy (see Born to be Wild and Big Bad Wolf) takes a refreshing brisk twist by cleverly adding a new paranormal species into the overarching theme. The lead couple is a perfect pairing to enable the stunning spin to deftly occur. Neither trusts one another nor appreciates the attraction they feel towards each other. Fans will want to join the adventures of half Fae and the lawyer as they go to court with the Unseelie as their judge, jury, and executioner. Harriet Klausner

Songs of Love and Death: All-Original Tales of Star-Crossed Love
George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (Editors)
Gallery (Pocket), $26.00
ISBN: 9781439150146


Songs of Love contains seventeen winning well written entries that explore the area where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge as portrayed in a Venn Diagram with three overlapping circles. The compilation opens up with Dresden battling a nasty foe and his heart in “Love Hurts” (Nazareth is right). Following the fantasy master is historical romance guru Jo Beverly contributing a Georgian thriller with the courtship being love or death. In “The Thing About Cassandra,” Neil Gaiman shows what happens in a second chance at love with an old girlfriend yet Stuart begins to wonder if he ever met her the first time. Fans of Diana Gabaldon will appreciate her time traveling RAF pilot Jerry to the Outlander era, but his family is back in the WWII period. Melinda M. Snodgrass writes “The Wayfarer’s Advice” in which love arrives in deep space and Peter S. Beagle provides love in the laptop age with “Kaskia” and Martin. The compilation is excellent as all authors provide tales of “Star Crossed Love” in various realms (and sub-genres) to the delight of fans who will relish the amalgam zone where fantasy, science fiction, and romance converge. Harriet Klausner