Wednesday, February 29, 2012

New Ebook Available

Age of Anansi
by James Lovegrove

EPUB ISBN: 978 1 84997 341 0, MOBI ISBN: 978 1 84997 342 7, £2.99/$3.99

E-book only EXCLUSIVE!

From James Lovegrove’s New York Times bestselling Pantheon series, which has sold more than 100,000 copies worldwide, comes an e-book exclusive – a journey into a dark heart of deceit, lies and ancient gods.

Dion Yeboah leads an orderly life... until the day the spider appears. What this ordinary-looking arachnid turns out to be Anansi, the trickster god of African legend, and its arrival throws Dion’s life into chaos.

Lawyer Dion’s already impressive legal brain is sharpened. He becomes nimbler-witted and more ruthless than never before, both in and out of court. Then he discovers the price he has to pay for these newfound skills. He must travel to America and take part in a contest between the avatars of all the trickster gods. In a life-or-death battle of wits, at the end only one person will be left standing.

Age of Anansi is an e-book novella in the massive Panethon series. Age of Aztec, the next book in the series, will be published in 27th March in North America and 12th April in the UK.

“One of the UK SF scene’s most interesting, challenging and adventurous authors.”
SFX on The Age of Ra

“The action is just unbelievably good.”
The Fantasy Book Critic on The Age of Zeus

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Press Release

Dark North

by Paul Finch

The fight begins on 13th March (US & Canada) and 15th March (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-88-9
$9.99/$12.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-89-6

Also available as an ebook

A new Empire has risen in Rome, and the Emperor is determined that Britain shall kneel before him. But when legendary King Arthur hurries his knights to court, the Black Wolf of the North brings more than just his sword…

One of Arthur’s most stalwart supporters, Sir Lucan comes from his cold northern home along with his beautiful wife, Trelawna, for among the delegates from Rome is her lover.

The world stands poised on the brink of a terrible war, in which the fates of lives and hearts will play as great a role as those of nations. This is the theatre in which the Black Wolf of the North must finally come of age as a warrior and a man – because for Lucan there will be a war within this war.

Representing stories from the true Dark Ages, Malory’s Knights of Albion brings the dark underbelly of the Arthurian dream to life with tales of blood-thirsty revenge, Godless wastelands and unholy missions.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fantasy Reviews

Discount Armageddon
Seanan McGuire
DAW, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN 9780756407131

The Price extended family has been cryptid hunters for generations. However, they eventually rejected the Covenant of St. George that condoned species cleansing. Like the rest of her clan, Verity Price is a cryptozoologist who works to insure safe environments for cryptids and humans. However, though she is passionately dedicated, her first love is ballroom dancing though she wonders where that strand of her DNA comes from.

Thus Verity moves from the West Coast to New York to dance for a year. When she prevents a carnivorous ghoul (clearly an oxymoron) from dining on a human, Verity, who works as a waitress for a Dark bogeyman at Dave’s Fish and Strips club, concludes this is why she never has a Saturday night date. As cryptids are being hunted in the city, Dominick DeLuca catches Verity in a rooftop snare. The two enemies agree to team up when lizard people are found in the sewers and rumors abound that a sleeping dragon underneath Manhattan gneiss bedrock is awakening.

As October takes a Daye off, Seanan McGuire begins a new urban fantasy starring a Romeo and Juliet couple. The storyline is fun to follow due to the amusing asides from the priceless heroine. With a nod to the classic cantina scene in Star Wars, it is the McGuire Manhattan mythos with the various cryptid species, many introduced at Dave’s club (like the therianthrope bouncer – cute as long as you don’t tango, and the dragon princess - known for making money faster than Wall St. and without a male), that makes for a great read. Harriet Klausner

A True Son of Asmodeus
Zvi Zaks
By Light Unseen Media, $13.00
ISBN: 9781935303350

In Los Angles, hematologist Dr. Eli Rothenberg mentions to Sheila the ER head nurse that the zoo will end in under an hour, she takes him seriously as his workload comments determine staffing needs. Eli tells her that when he was ten he predicted his dying cousin would recover from meningitis, which happened. His father tried to use his psychic skills at poker but lost his shirt and slapped Eli. He vowed to never use his skill, but Sheila insists subconsciously his ESP talent surfaces.

Eli is shocked when his mentor Dr. Andrew Netter arrives on a gurney with an empty sleeping pills bottle taped to his comatose body. That is the impetus for Eli to quit his job and leave his compassionate girlfriend Karen Lodge to accept a fellowship jointly sponsored by the University of Heidelberg, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and the University of Munich. On the trek to London, Eli meets Hasidic Jew Abram Rabinowich of Munich and Schmuel the converted Jew. In London, horrific murders occur while Schmuel visits Eli. He heads to Munich; at the Dachau concentration camp Eli survives evil. Stunned he visits Abram, who introduces him to the Perceptive warriors while malevolence waits for Eli in Auschwitz though six million allies pray for him.

This terrific Hasidic religious thriller grips the audience from the first premonition until the last. Fast-paced and filled with action, Eli is a great hero as he goes from denier to skeptic to believer due to the events that his rationale mind wants to reject. Fans will relish Eli’s enlightened run through the darkest evil, which thrives when monsters like Hitler and his gruesome wannabes provide the sustenance. Harriet Klausner

Sadie Walker Is Stranded
Madeleine Roux
St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312658915

The Outbreak Patient Zero was on The Golden Princess that brought the virus to Seattle and from there across North America and the world. Millions died from this plague. As the survivors struggled with so much death and related diseases, the real pandemic begins when the dead rise with a craving for live flesh and many of the living become predators.

Wannabe illustrator Sadie Walker, mother to her eight-year-old nephew Shane, resides as normal as they can inside the Citadel a living encampment in Seattle. Her boyfriend Carl arranges for black marketers to abduct Shane as a commodity for sale. She manages to push Carl down the stairs killing him, but leaving her unconscious. The thieves leave with Shane while her friend from before the Outbreak Andrea tells her they must leave as Carl’s buddies tore down a barrier that kept the walking dead outside their stronghold. The two females rescue Shane but remain in peril as Seattle has become a buffet for the undead with the only way off is at sea but most people including Sadie fear water as an un-deadly trap.

Sadie Walker Is Stranded is an exciting urban fantasy in which people adjust to the new meaning of survival of the fittest or become fodder for the undead. The title character is super as she struggles with adaptation while her BFF is kick butt and Shane’s childhood innocence is gone. Although unlikely events (even for an undead tale) detract from an otherwise great thriller, readers will enjoy the zombie storm that leaves Sadie, Andrea and Shane stranded with no place to go although two men join their quest for a haven. Harriet Klausner

Eyes Like Leaves
Charles De Lint
Tachyon, Feb 1 2012, $15.95
ISBN: 9781616960506

On the Green Isles, magic has remained in a state of harmony seemingly forever due to the power equilibrium between Lothan the Icelord king of Everwinter and his rival Hafari the Summerlord. However, recently the magic has waned and the balance of nature threatened by Lothan who plans to subjugate the people of the Green Isles to Everwinter after he disposes of his dormant adversary.

Puretongue, the great wizard leader of the dhruidery, understands the peril to the land. As time is running out he sends his loyal student Tarn on a mission to gather anyone displaying Hafarl's magick before Lothan finishes his ethnic cleansing of the only viable counter insurgency. Meanwhile as Tarn does his search, the Samarand raiders continue unabated their practice of assaulting and plundering villages. Carrie, lost her family to these vicious marauders, meets Tarn who realizes she is powerfully blessed by warmth of the Summerlord. The pair and Deren the novice stand between Everwinter in the Green Isles.

This is the first publication of a quest Celtic mythological fantasy written by Charles de Lint during President Reagan’s first term. The storyline starts very slow as the author sets the locale and the key players in the seasonal civil war. From that snail opening, the plot goes hyperspeed with plenty of action as the bad and the ugly hunt the good and the innocent with genocidal intent. Fans of the author will enjoy this fine tale even without a visit from Jilly Copporcorn or a stop in Newford. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Faerys and Vampires

The Ruined City
Paula Brandon
Spectra, Feb 28 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780553583823

The abduction left pampered privileged Jianna Belandor, daughter of powerful Faerlonnish overlord the Magnifico Aureste Belandor, was shaken with what she learned about the Veiled Isles and her family as a prisoner of her Aunt Magnifico Onarto. She escapes with the help of rebel sympathizer Falaste Rione the physician while seeing her privileged lifestyle though the eyes of the lower classes (see The Traitor's Daughter).

She returns home to deadly chaos. Her father is missing, The City Ruined by disease and the amphibian slaves in open revolt, while those who die return from the dead. Arcane practitioners read these and believe they are the signs of a revelation switch as an enigmatic magical spring the Source has begun the shift of alignments that is leading to a pandemic catastrophe for the Veiled Islands.

The second Jianna Belandor escapades are a wonderfully complex romantic quest fantasy with multiple subplots linked by the doomsday countdown. The cast is fully developed whether they are the heroic lead couple, the zombie horde or the amphibian rebels, etc. Fans will appreciate the Brandon mythos as The Ruined City is a fabulous frenzied forerunner of what looks like the cataclysmic end of the Veiled Islands unless a magical miracle emerges. Harriet Klausner

Sliver of Shadow
Allison Pang
Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439198346

Abby Sinclair still adapts to being the human TouchStone, a position she inherited from her late mom, who helps the OtherFolk cross the barriers between the human and Faery realm. Her liege the Faery Protectorate Moira, whose life she saved (see A Brush of Darkness), has to leave for a meeting at the Faery Court since war with the demons of hell seems imminent. The Protectorate leaves Abby in charge. Part of her duties is to protect Moira’s half-angel child. Abbey receives help from Moira’s outcast half-brother Talivar and Phineas the miniature unicorn who uses her underwear as bedding.

The raging Faery Queen abruptly shuts the CrossRoads portal between the two worlds after a spell targeted the TouchStone mortal. OtherFolk trapped on Earth are fading into oblivion. Abby, escorted by Talivar and her former lover Brystion the incubus, treks to CrossRoads in an attempt to override the queen’s angry spell.

The second sensational Sinclair urban fantasy is an exciting conspiratorial thriller starring a strong cast especially the kick butt heroine. Abby is terrific when she focuses on the magic issues; her overly melodramatic inability to make up (her) mind; "pick up on one and leave the other behind” (Lovin’ Spoonful) detracts from the storyline. Still in spite of a disappointingly indecisive climax, fans will enjoy Abby’s awesome adventures. Harriet Klausner

Nice Girls Don’t Bite Their Neighbors
Molly Harper
Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451641813

Gabriel Nightingale and Jane Jameson move in together in her ancestral home. As a librarian and bookstore owner, Jane appreciates his rare books like his early printing of Persuasion that he purchased when it was released. Her collection consists of second hand books with plenty of folds. Jane feels good about her friends who helped them move, but made it clear the couple must never break up because they refuse to carry boxes again. Most important to Jane is that her stunned family has somewhat accepted that she is a vampire as is her significant other. Life as an undead is good.

In an instant that changes as Jane watches in horror teenager Jamie Lanier, making deliveries for the Half Moon Dairy, backs out with his hand truck loaded into an on-coming car and he is injured in the crash. Neighbors Dick and Andrea rush out to the accident scene; and he orders Jane to change the lad; which she does. Stunned Jane feels like a child having a child as she is a fledgling vamp now a parenting vampire. Gabriel mentions he “sired” three children in a century and a half; two were evil. Besides nurturing her offspring, death threats and the ghost of ghostly presence of her Grandma Ruthie (still a pain in the butt from the beyond) Jane has a wedding to plan.

The fourth “It Happened to Jane” chick lit urban fantasy (see Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don’t Live Forever and Nice Girls Don’t Date Dead Men) is a madcap adventure filled with twists and plenty of jocularity especially self-deprecating humor. The storyline is thin but fast-paced and fun; sub-genre fans will enjoy this breezy entry as Jane learns how difficult parenting is.
Harriet Klausner

My Lord Vampire
Alexandra Ivy
Zebra, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420122718

Over two centuries ago, Nefri, the most powerful vampire, used the magic of a Medallion to create the Veil that separates the world of mankind from the realm of the undead. Recently Nefri fears an undetermined threat that could destroy both planes. Knowing the Medallion is the avenue for the evil ones, she breaks it into three parts before hiding them amidst three young ladies unaware of what they possess. However, Nefri realizes three avaricious vampires plan to take the objects; so she sends trustworthy vamps to protect them.

Two men enter the life of Lady Simone Gilbert, who possesses one section of Nefri’s Medallion. Suave Tristan Soltern frightens Simone though she is unsure why; while she is attracted to ultra-arrogant Gideon Ravel. As Simone and Gideon fall in love, Tristan kills look-alike whores as a message to his adversary that he can and threatens to reveal her darkest secret.

The first Immortal Rogues Regency romantic fantasy is an entertaining tale starring an intriguing human female. Although Nefri's approach to keep the realms safe seems illogical and the triangle never quite gels as Tristan fails to be a rival for the affection of the target, fans will wonder what secret the feisty Simone conceals while waiting for the war between the vampires. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 24, 2012

Press Release


Pro Se Productions proudly announces its latest novel, a three story
collection crafted by a trio of top talents, all about a supermarket tabloid
where all the stories within its pages are true! "Global Star" delivers
tongue-in-cheek satirical wit and more weirdness than you can shake an alien
cabana boy at, all thanks to the wonderful storytelling skills of R. A.
Jones, Mel Odom, and Michael Vance.

Want to fly headlong into alien abductions? Ready to hunt mysterious
monsters in the bowels of your city? Curious about what Elvis has been up to
since he got laid off? Find the Story Behind the Stories, the Truth too True
To Print in the Global Star! Jones, Vance, and Odom relate the exploits of
the finest editors, colorful reporters, and raucous staffers working on the
world's one tabloid where every word is true! Follow these pen and paper
pushers as they go anywhere, do anything, and stop at nothing to bring you
the news that makes the Global Star the greatest newspaper on-and off-
Earth! Get the whole story in this tongue-in-cheek satirical funfest!

R. A. Jones' work includes "Deathwalker" (Airship 27), Michael Vance has
just released a trilogy of "Weird Horror Tales" novels (Cornerstone), and
prolific novelist Mel Odom's work includes novels for the "Mack Bolan" and
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" series.

GLOBAL STAR, with fantastic cover and interior design by Sean E. Ali, is
available via Amazon as well as Pro Se's own site ( and
can be snatched up from Amazon for the Kindle, Barnes and Noble for the
Nook, and in various and sundry digital formats from!
Don't wait for the werewolves to baby sit your babies born with bowling
balls in their stomachs! Read all about that and more now in "Global Star",
the latest book from Pro Se Productions!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Press Release

Age of Aztec

by James Lovegrove

The battle begins on 27th March (US & Canada) and 12th April (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-80-3

$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-81-0

Available as an ebook

In the latest in the New York Times bestselling Pantheon series, which has sold over 100,000 copies worldwide, Cortez’s brutal suppression of Mexico never happened and the Aztec Empire rules the world.

Yet in jungle-infested London, a masked vigilante defies this cruel and ruthless oppressive regime: the Conquistador. As the apocalypse looms, he must help assassinate the mysterious and immortal Aztec emperor, but police detective Mal Vaughn is hot on his trail, determined to bring him to justice.

Merging ancient religions, interest in the ‘forthcoming’ 2012 Mayan apocalypse, and high-octane military SF, Age of Aztec continues Lovegrove’s bestselling Pantheon series. A breathtaking series that is not to be missed, The Age of Odin went straight onto the NYT bestsellers list and Age of Aztec is sure to be another hit.

“The kind of complex, action-oriented SF Dan Brown would write if Dan Brown could write”

– The Guardian

“Lovegrove is vigourously carving out a godpunk subgenre – rebellious underdog humans battling an outmoded belief system.”

– Pornokitsch

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don Grant Newsletter 2/21/2012

Welcome to issue #77 of the Donald M. Grant Newsletter

21 February 2012




Today we will begin mailing out the Artist Editions of THE 
WIND THROUGH THE KEYHOLE. When we have caught up
with those orders we will begin matching up each number of the
Deluxe Edition with the proper customer and begin shipping
the Deluxe Editions. We have thousands of orders so please be

We have a small staff and have hired extra help but it will take
time to process orders, especially for people expecting a specific
numbered copy. We appreciate your patience.


We have added another of Jae Lee’s Black & White illustrations
to the web page.

Since we began accepting advance orders on December 19 we
have received over 3,000 orders. We are accepting orders for
both the Deluxe and Artist Editions of THE DARK TOWER: 

Please read the rest of this Newsletter before placing your order.


The Scribner Trade Editon of THE WIND THROUGH THE 
KEYHOLE is being released April 24, It will not have any of the
Jae Lee artwork.

Amazon will not be selling copies of our Limited Editions of


Between the orders for the Deluxe Edition and the postcards we
have received from those having numbers between 801 and
1,250 of THE LITTLE SISTERS OF ELURIA all copies of the
Deluxe Edition will be accounted for, so there will not be a ‘sec-
ond’ postcard lottery as there was three years ago.

The Lottery will probably take place in April as, after we have
shipped all current orders, we will be sending a letter to every-
one who was eligible for a Deluxe Edition but didn’t order one
for a final chance to place their order.


Our usual full-color printed flyer was mailed about a month ago.
Our previous flyer was 3 years ago and over 500 have been
returned so far by the Post Office as ‘Unable To Foreward’.
Please notify us when you move so we can keep our files up to

Please do not call or email us for further details as we will just
refer you to our web site and suggest you remain subscribed to
our email newsletter.

Thank you.

Robert K. Wiener, President
Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc.

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Fantasy Reviews

Anna Dressed in Blood
Kendare Blake
Tor Teen, Aug 30 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780765328656

Cas Lowood is a chip off the old block just like his late dad was a chip off the old block and if he has a kid too, etc. His widow mom the witch supports her teenage son as he does the family vocation ghost hunting.

Cas’ latest mission is to kill Anna of the white dress that she wore when she was murdered back in ‘58, dripping blood and infamy for slicing and dicing those who inanely dare enter her haunt. When Cas enters her house in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Anna is confused that her out of control obsession to kill fails to deploy as it always does. He feels identically the same. As each is afraid of the other, both are more afraid of the loneliness accentuated by their meeting. Others have deadlier opinions on what should happen to the ghost and the hunter.

Anna Dressed in Blood is a great teen horror mystery starring two lonely beings who find a deep affinity with each other. The story line is fast-paced and filled with gore, romance, and a cold case mystery. Kendare Blake provides a strong opening act with this tense paranormal beloved enemies' thriller. Harriet Klausner

Crucible of Gold
Naomi Novik
Del Rey, Mar 6 2012, $25.00
ISBN: 9780345522863

In 1809 British aviator William Laurence and Temeraire his dragon companion remain exiled in New South Wales for their treasonous act of saving French dragons from a plague. Their saving England from Napoleon kept them from state execution (see Tongues of Serpents).

Meanwhile plague brought by the Europeans devastates the Incan Empire at a time when Empress Anahuarque Inca considers allying with the Brits or the French. She leans towards a marital arrangement with Napoleon if he dumps Josephine while Iskierka the dragon pushes her captain Granby as a better alternative. Spain has fallen to the French and the powerful Tswana African tribe, with French support, raids Brazil tentatively to rescue black slaves but also to hold the royals captured in Rio. Tottering on the brink of defeat, the British government sends self-proclaimed ambassador plenipotentiary to China, Arthur Hammond, to return to the front Laurence and Temeraire.

Fast-paced and filled with action, the latest terrific timely Temeraire historical fantasy is a great thriller that grips readers throughout with a taste of life in many diverse spots while the world is at war. The abolitionist hero feels contempt towards his side’s leadership; who demand patriotism from grunts risking their lives with little logistical support (can’t raise a war fee tax) while the leaders direct the war from the comfort of their London suites. Fans will enjoy this excellent historical as the British leadership fumble the war while hiding behind the Decatur mantra of “Our Country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but right or wrong, our country!”; but forced to bring home Laurence whose mantra is the Shurtz corollary: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” Harriet Klausner

Jane Vows Vengeance
Michael Thomas Ford
Ballantine, Feb 28 2012, $14.00
ISBN: 9780345513670

Living in Brakeston, New York as Jane Fairfax the owner of Flyleaf Books, Jane Austen agrees to marry Walter Fletcher. They plan their wedding, which proves difficult for Jane in a proof positive you legally exist photo ID era. Jane has no family to invite as they died two centuries ago and few friends. When Walter receives an invitation to tour the fine architect of Europe, he and Jane decide to marry in the Tower. An astonished Lord Byron gets her a passport through a zombie forger.

At the Tower, Jane is distracted by the appearances of the two lost princes. The ceremony is cancelled when Joshua Mobley, Jane’s husband of nine days over two centuries ago, arrives. Walter grudgingly accepts the wait until his fiancée can extradite herself from her nuptials. Jane wonders who told her vampire husband that she would be at the Tower. She also hears about Crispin’s Needle, an object that allegedly if stuck into a vampire’s heart turns them into a human with a soul. Jane searches the continent for the device while in London she is the prime suspect in a murder investigation.

The latest Jane the contemporary vampire tale is a witty satire that continues the spoofing of the Austen mania including the novels by Michael Thomas Ford (see Jane Goes Batty and Jane Bites Back). Jane’s sardonic self-deprecating sense of humor keeps her sane in a world that seems insane as she jumps from one crisis into another. With Lord Byron and Charlotte Bronte to help drive her crazy, Jane learns how complicated life for an undead who just wants to get married can be in a digital ID mania age. Harriet Klausner

Benedict Jacka
Ace, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007294

In London, Alex Verus runs a magic shop. Not only does this proprietorship enable him to use his knowledge but is also the perfect cover in plain sight of his talent. Alex is a diviner mage who can see the infinite possible futures and can sometimes influence which one occurs. His ability has the warring forces of the Light and the Dark wanting him on their respective side and will do anything even causing collateral damage to the innocent to make him their stooge.

Choosing neither side as he believes both are wrong with the damage they cause to civilians, Alex has one other unique trait that no other mage apparently possesses as he is an empath who feels for those he knows. The mage factions demand Alex open a relic from the ancient mage war. He looks into the future and realizes that the outcome of doing their bidding is one hundred percent deaths for him and his two dependents, Luna the cursed woman, and Starbreeze the ancient air elemental dumber than a rock. Alex and his wards flee as he foresees their only slim possible chance to survive the assaults from the Light and the Dark is flight not fight.

This is a great opening act as the first Alex Verus urban fantasy establishes the Jacka rules of magical physics but does so interwoven inside a fast-paced storyline. The cast is solid (even the ephemeral) but rascally Alex keeps the tale focused as he versus a world in which the superpowers reject neutrality; nor does either side care about the mundane. Instead the mantra is "You're either part of the solution or part of the problem" (Eldridge Cleaver). Harrier Klausner

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fantasy and Science Fiction Reviews

The Wild Ways
Tanya Huff
DAW, $14.95
ISBN: 9780756406868

Besides humans, the world contains several paranormal species like vampires, goblins, pixies, and hoberts, etc. however on top of the food chain are the Gales. They look human, but are not human and they possess the power to topple empires. The most powerful Gale is Charlotte, but “Charlie” as she is called prefers playing her guitar with her road touring band.

Charlie loves music but also uses music to focus her power, which explains why several other bands want her to join their group. Nobody is as surprised as she is when she helps the Selkies who had their pelts stolen by her Auntie Catherine who was hired by an oil company. Assisting her is fourteen year old Jack who is a Gale Draconian Prince and sorcerer. The person who wanted to control the Selkie is Amelia Carlson who wants to control the selkies as they belong to an environmental group Two Seventy Five N that presses government to deny off shore drilling permits to Amlia’s company. Charlie and Jack search for the stolen pelts, try to prevent the drilling, and prepare for battle against a powerful family member.

The latest Gales urban fantasy (see THE ENCHANTMENT EMPORIUM) is wonderful thriller due to the strong cast who make selkie and Gales seem genuine. The story line is fast-paced but character driven as the aunt and niece are on different sides of the drill baby drill controversy; which anchors the plot in a real contemporary debate. Readers will appreciate Tanya Huff, known for her military science fiction, as The Wild Ways is a terrific read, one of the best urban fantasies I have read in years. Harriet Klausner

The Ninth Circle
R.M. Meluch
DAW, $24.95
ISBN: 9780756406943

On the planet Phoenix, the small Roman unit gives newcomer Cinna a choice to jump or not from the Widow’s Edge cliff. Frightened he assumes this is a test to prove he can overcome his natural instincts, but when he lands he leaves a red splat on the ground. His brothers in arms except Nox flee the scene, but Sector Primus Surveillance Center Observer Six watchers observe in horror but bet on the outcome of the incident. The late Cinna’s brothers in arms are disgraced and kicked out of the legion.

The Spring Beauty scientific expedition to the planet Zoe has the zenzoologists debating whether the native mammoths communicate even before they arrive. Scientists Patrick Hamilton and Peter Szasney are hostile towards each other. On remote Zoe, they find something that shakes the core of their belief system. As the former Roman unit turned into the Ninth Circle pirates, the crew of the U.S.S. Merrimack, troops loyal to the Roman Emperor Caesar Numa, and something more insidious converge on Zoe.

The fifth tour of the warship U.S.S. Merrimack (see The Sagittarius Command and Strength And Honor) is a fascinating entry as the war between the two human cultures remains heated but has a new player. Once again, R.M. Meluch makes a case that war is the waste of foolish politicians who send the young (but not their offspring) to die on remote worlds. The Ninth Circle is an engaging military science fiction tale that fans of the Merrimack will enjoy especially because there is a late twist while newcomers will feel lost on the spacefaring tour. Harriet Klausner

Lynn Viehl
Signet, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451413147

GenHance spliced normal human children with vampire DNA. That genetic mix led to the creation of the Kyndred. Now GenHance continues part two of their research. They want the Kyndred for study dead or alive.

Meanwhile someone else has a different methodology when it comes to studying the DNA of the Kyndred; this scientist kidnaps the Kyndred and takes his victims to a remote Mexican barrier island where he forces them to interbreed. San Francisco medic Charlotte Marena and Takyn protector Samuel Taske are snatched to this isle. They are attracted to one another though she distrusts him as he knows too much about her and she (and he) enjoys the sex between them, which frightens her. As they plot to escape, his power has vanished so she is their only hope to identify and safely flee from their sinister host.

The fourth Kyndred romantic urban fantasy (see Shadowlight, Dreamveil and Frostfire) is a terrific suspense thriller enhanced by the Aztec location. The story line is fast-paced whether it is a sexual interlude or a desperate escape attempt. Readers will appreciate this exciting tale as the overarching theme moves forward with death and life. Harriet Klausner

The Best of the Bolos: Their Finest Hour
Hank Davis
Baen, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451637526

All eleven entertaining entries are reprints of previously published tales. Three were written by the Bolo creator Keith Laumer in the 1960s (“Combat Unit", "The Last Command" and "A Relic of War"); the remaining eight were authored by several famous writers in the 1990s. Regardless of whether Mr. Laumer, David Weber ("A Brief Technical History of the Bolos" written as Professor Hermes of the Laumer Chair of Military History, "A Time to Kill" and "The Traitor" ), S. M. Sterling ("Lost Legion") or David Drake ("As Our Strength Lessens"), etc. writr the story each entry contains the basic BOLO makeup and theme of a nonhuman lone wolf willing to risk death to achieve the victory. In fact Bolos typically pay a hell of a price in these dark science fiction short stories. The fun in this collection is to compare the 1990s contributors like those named above and Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon, Linda Evans and William H. Keith, Jr. to those of Mr. Laumer. Mr. Weber’s introduction treatise rounds out a fine collection obviously for fans of the Bolo universe; as these readers will appreciate the lone wolf in space risking life and limb knowing what will happen to them but doing it anyway. Harriet Klausner

Dragons of the Watch
Donita K. Paul
WaterBrook, $13.99
ISBN: 9781400073412

The oldest of eight children, Country bumpkin Ellicinderpart Clarenbessipawl talks to her best friend Tak the goat on how unfair life is. Everyone received an invitation to the royal wedding and coronation of Princess Tipper and Prince Tayrus. Her Aunt Tiffenbeth and Uncle Stemikenjon will escort Ellie to the royal wedding in Ragar.

However, Tak has other plans as the goat wanders away; she follows Tak to take the goat home before her trek to the weeding of the century, but Ellie gets lost. They end up in a strange city in which giant little kids mistake Tak for a dog and give chase. Famous artist Graddapotmorphit Bealomondore of Greeson rescues them and informs her that they are the only tumanhofers in Rumbard City. He explains the occupants consist of one elderly librarian, a horde of feral very tall six-year-old urohms and seven tiny dragons; he is unaware of the other essence. Considered a hero by the affluent of Chiril, Bealomondtore is on a quest to follow the Creator, but currently he plans to find a way for Ellie, Tak and himself to escape from being bottled up in Rumbard City, after that he will take care of the kids and his heart.

The latest Donita K. Paul “Dragon” Christian allegorical fantasy (see Dragonlight and Dragons of the Valley) is a superb tale with a strong cast especially the lead duet; while several of the kids have different personalities. Their efforts to escape the mysterious city make for a fast-paced story line loaded with action as the lead couple heeding Wulder’s advice to follow the Creator by taking one step at a time to unravel the enigma of Rumbard City. Harriet Klausner

The Exorcist: 40th Anniversary Edition
William Peter Blatty
Harper, $24.99
ISBN: 9780062094353

In 1940s Georgetown, actress and single mother Chris MacNeil begins a new film. Her happy young daughter Regan is with her. The child begins to complain to her mom about noises at night and her bed shaking. Chris assumes it is just a child’s imagination perhaps caused by her parents’ recent divorce. However, she becomes concerned when Regan's mental state deteriorates. Doctors find nothing wrong while Regan’s health changes for the worse as her language is filled with profanity, her strength greater than several circus strong men and she claims to be the devil as she molests herself with a religious icon.

Chris asks the Jesuits to conduct an exorcism. Psychologist Father Karras, who suffers from a crisis of faith when he failed to be there for his dying widow mom, arrives seeking a medical solution even when he witnesses first hand the inexplicable. Finally Father Merrin comes to Georgetown to attempt the exorcism while DC Police Lieutenant William Kinderman seeks a ritual serial killer who also desecrates churches.

Forty years since the classic horror was published (two years before the movie) and The Exorcist holds up nicely against the test of time as an exciting good vs. evil thriller in spite of most readers knowing the story line and the release of a sequel (see Legion). The novel is character driven by a strong cast with readers wondering for much of the plot whether Regan is possessed or insane; for how can the devil take residence in an innocent child. This barrier breaker tale remains a strong psychological horror thriller as William Peter Blatty enables his audience to see deep into the souls of the priests, the actress, the cop and mostly the besieged victim. Harriet Klausner

Jack McDevitt
Ace, $24.95
ISBN: 9780441020737

Karen Howard arrives at the office of Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath wanting to hire them to find good prices for her late sister Elizabeth’s estate. After insulting Chase by demanding to meet with Alex, she explains her sibling was married to famous physicist Chris Robin who had theories on multiverse realties and vanishing ships before disappearing over four decades ago. Chase explains to Karen there is no market for items owned by a scientist. Alex tells Chase that Chris is famous for vanishing just outside his house; his junk should sell well.

Alex tells Chase they will look into the disappearance though they will not solve it as their investigation will drive interest and value up. Chase cautions Alex that if they solve the mystery value collapses. Thus they begin the odyssey when retired Dr. jerry asks about the Robin items. Thus the pair visits the Christopher Robin Society and soon travel to planet Villanueva, home to abandoned raging AIs while the inquiry turns as convoluted as the missing Abonai vessel that became “lost” six years ago .

The latest Benedict-Kolpath science fiction mystery (see The Devil’s Eye) is a great entry as the lead sleuths search for a lost astrophysicist that takes them on a wild adventure. Besides not pooh the name of the scientist, this is a fast-paced thriller from the moment Karen meets skeptical Alex. Fans will enjoy Alex’s narration of what happens to Chase and him as his partner leads him into several hair-raising escapades. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 17, 2012

Press Release

Darkening Skies
Book 2 of The Hadrumal Crisis
by Juliet E. McKenna

Arriving on 28th February (US & Canada) and 1st March (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-76-6
$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-77-3

Available as an ebook

He may have been hailed as a hero, but Captain Corrain now harbours a dark secret.

While the Caladhrians are content to celebrate their salvation from the Aldabreshin corsairs, Corrain knows the truth - the wizard he bribed to help them has merely claimed the corsair island for his own. Will the Archmage break his policy of non-interference and crush this upstart or will the outraged Aldabreshin warlords decide that magic has no place in their world at all?

In the second book of her stunning new trilogy, The Hadrumal Crisis, McKenna delves deeper into this tangle of dark magic, treachery and intrigue - raising the stakes and plunging Corrain and the widow Lady Zurenne into a web of danger that they may not escape, even with the magewoman Jilseth’s help.

This rich new tale filled with pirates, politics and adventure confirms McKenna’s place amongst the pantheon of top fantasy writers with a thrilling reinvention of the genre.

The prequel for the series, The Wizard’s Coming, is available as a free eBook (free to download as an ePub, PDF and Kindle) and introduces some of the characters and events leading up to this stunning new fantasy series from a major voice in fantasy writing.

“A tapestry of conflict and complications that you can’t bring yourself to put down.” – SF Site on Irons in the Fire

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More Reviews

Shadow Ops: Control Point
Myke Cole
Ace, Jan 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007249

Supernatural Operations Corps Army Lieutenant Oscar Britton knows his unit’s mission is to remove magical threats preferably using less lethal means, but killing a Probe or a practitioner posing harm to his team is acceptable rules of engagement. However, the latest case involving a teenage Probe female and her first timers bothers him when they capture the girl only to have Harlequin murder the teen under the guise of standard operating procedure.

Whether it was the excessive force that disturbed him and potentially triggered his latent superpowers, Britton knows his manifestation is a death sentence. Knowing he cannot win in a fight against the powerful SOC, he chooses flight as his former command declares him a criminal wanted dead. However, instead of execution when he is caught, Britton is subjected to the military-industrial complex as an enslaved drone. Increasingly he believes throwing out the existing intolerant leadership via a coup is the only means of saving the First Amendment rights of everyone.

This is refreshing futuristic urban fantasy that contains a strong cautionary message that as Ben Franklin stated: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”. Myke Cole makes it lucid that regardless of the threat or rationalization, torture and long term incarceration without a legitimate trial are unacceptable practices. Fast-paced and filled with action, Britton holds the exciting tale together in a sort of coming of age awareness plot when he concludes those he previously obeyed without a second thought are morally bankrupt with self importance power their cause. Harriet Klausner

The Winslow Incident
Elizabeth Voss
Five Star, Dec 16 2011, $25.95
ISBN: 9781432825461

In the summer of 2010 in Winslow, Washington, Pard Holloway’s cattle begin acting weird and start dying for no apparent reason; he wonders if mad cow disease has struck the herd. Pard’s seventeen year old niece Hazel Winslow is concerned and announces she will expose her uncle’s tainted beef. Pard warns Hazel that if she should raise the alarm, he will likewise tell what really happened to the town’s late baker Hawkin Rhone five years ago; a truth that would probably lock away her boyfriend Sean Adair.

Soon after their unfriendly confrontation, the crazy symptoms displayed by cattle spread to humans who act increasingly insane. As those humans still behaving normal dwindles rapidly, Hazel wonders what is going on in her hometown as she no longer believes mad cow disease has struck Winslow.

This is an entertaining small town supernatural thriller. The fun in the tale is following stunned Hazel as her family, friends and neighbors go insane leaving her as the last one standing. Although the horror element is not very suspenseful, readers will enjoy Elizabeth Voss’ fun paranormal version of And Then There Was None. Harriet Klausner

Everything Is Broken
John Shirley
Prime, Jan 17 2012, $14.95
ISBN 9781607012924

Freedom, California libertarian Mayor Lon Ferrara, owner of a bar and barbeque, privatizes all local government services including first responder emergencies. He also rejected any help from the county, state or feds as he believes in government being the size of a bathtub.

Twenty years old Russ Haver comes to the pristine coastal town to visit his dad Drew. In Freedom Russ meets Pendra, a young woman who fascinates him. A tsunami hammers the West Coast turning Freedom into a wasteland. After being trapped on a rooftop that he defends with his brother from others joining them, the mayor remains adamant no FEMA in spite of the townsfolk in dire straits as services collapse and shelter is limited; instead he makes a deal with a gang leader. Making matters worse is the violence by some of the survivors like predatory drug dealing gangbanger Dickie Rockwell, who sees the chaos and lack of leadership as an opportunity to impose his brutal vision of civilization on others.

Although improbable, this powerful environmental thriller extrapolates the dual premises of those who want to eliminate government providing services as a corollary to paying no taxes into what happens when disaster strikes leading to Everything Is Broken inside of Freedom. Action-packed form the moment the immense tidal wave attacks the town and never slows down as the only “proactive” response comes from the gang leader, fans will enjoy this strong condemnation of politcal leaders vowing pledges rather than performing governance. Harriet Klausner

Sophie Littlefield
Luna, Jan 24 2012, $14.95
ISBN 9780373803422

California remains a wasteland overrun by the Beaters whose cunning has exponentially increased since the zombie wave began (see Aftertime). Survivor Cass Dollar, who once was a Beater, and her daughter Ruthie reside in New Eden where life remains hard for the living. Cass has two men she cares about, comatose Smoke and Dor, who is married to another woman and has a daughter; the latter of whom Cass helped rescue (see Rebirth).

As New Eden suffers from Beaters’ assaults and dwindling supplies, men on horseback arrive. Their leader Mathew claims there is a passage to a better Eden in the north. Cass and the others jump at the opportunity to relocate to a New Eden so begin a deadly sojourn led by Mayhew.

The third post-apocalyptic Aftertime urban horror fantasy is a fast-paced grim entry once Mayhew arrives to disrupt the order with a new dream. The dark Pacific landscape remains nightmarish as beaters are everywhere and civilization no where. While some like defrocked leader Dana wonders if Mayhew is the serpent leading them to their doom, others like Cass finds a renewal of hope in the newcomer’s assertion. Although the storyline starts slow, readers will relish the latest Dollar adventures in the nightmarish Littlefield realm. Harriet Klausner

Echoes of Betrayal: Paladin's Legacy
Elizabeth Moon
Del Rey, Feb 21 2012, $26.00
ISBN: 9780345508768

King Kieri of Lyonya and hybrid elf Arian prepare to marry. However, his dead ancestors caution him to trust no one as treachery follows him and he needs to watch his beloved; but especially his elven grandma queen of the Ladysforest clan. Although he plans to still wed Arian, he wonders if his grandma’s elf clan who have mostly stayed away or humans are planning to assassinate him; as each race detests him.

King Mikeli of Tsaia angers his nobles when he gives the dukedom of Verrakai to former Lyonya Captain Dorrin who helped him survive the seditious dangerous acts of treason by the former Verrakai magelord. His aristocracy rejects the outsider due to her gender, her combat experience for another kingdom and her forbidden magic skills. Loyalists to the traitorous magelord former duke attack Dorrin’s squires and threaten Mikeli’s rule.

Although Kings Kieri and Mikeli face betrayal, they have a greater threat to their respective kingdoms. Feral young dragons are killing humans, elven and gnomes. War between dragonkind, humans, elves, and gnomes seem imminent.

The third Paladin’s Legacy fantasy (see Oath of Fealty and Kings of the North) is a great military-political complex thriller as readers will understand that the Paladins are agents of chaos whose interventions gave long term consequences. The storyline is fast-paced as Elizabeth Moon’s relativity-inertia premise that for every positive action there is a negative reaction (on someone) makes for a strong entry in the superb Eight Kingdoms mythos. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Press Release

The Afterblight Chronicles: Blood Ocean
by Weston Ochse

Released THIS WEEK in the UK, US and Canada

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2

$9.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-87-2

Also available as an ebook

In a world reduced to ruin by all-consuming plague, one young boy embarks on a mission of revenge after one of his friends is found dead … harvested for his blood!

Kavika Kamalani is a Pali Boy on Nomi No Toshi, the floating city. The post-plague heir to an ancient Hawai’ian warrior tradition that believes in overcoming death by embracing one’s fears and living large, Kavika’s life is turned upside down when one of his friends dies – and he sets out to find the killer.

When he is kidnapped and subjected to a terrifying transformation, Kavika must embrace the ultimate fear – death itself. It is the only way if he, his loved ones, and the Pali Boys are to survive.

This stand-alone title is the latest pulse-pounding story of post-apocalyptic survival in The Afterblight Chronicles series from Weston Ochse – a writer who pulls no punches.

“Weston Ochse is an artist whose craft, stories and voice are so distinct and mesmerising that you can’t help but be enthralled.”
– Dani Kollin, Prometheus Award-winning author of The Unincorporated Man

Monday, February 13, 2012

Fantasy Reviews

Wicked Circle
Linda Robertson
Pocket, Dec 27 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451646955

Torn Between Two Lovers (by Mary McGregor) Persephone "Seph" Alcmedi the witch knows the men in her life, the waerewolves’ Domn Lup rock musician Johnny Newman and Menessos the vampire, have different temperaments and baggage. However the two males share in common the need for Seph to help them and their pledge of love to protect her.

Menessos tells Seph that the Vampire Council distrusts him as they fear he plots a coup. They have sent the three truth seeker vampiric sisters, normally caged in stone to keep the world safe, to determine his seditious acts. While trying to help Menessos, Seph has to honor her pledge to use her magic to assist the waeres, and to prevent her hemorrhoid producing family members (perpetually in trouble foster daughter, her lunatic grandmother and her recently resurfaced mother) from causing dangerous tsuris.

The fifth Circle urban fantasy (see Arcane Circle, Fairy Circle, Vicious Circle and Hallowed Circle) is an entertaining entry that takes its time setting in motion the tsuris the heroine has piled on her by her family and friends. Once established, the exciting story line accelerates into a fast-paced urban fantasy with an extended family drama theme as Seph knows a family member or friend in need is a pest but her pest. With the mystery of what Seph will do adding excitement to the mix, readers will enjoy this sly family affair. Harriet Klausner

Deborah Cooke
Signet, Jan 3 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451235473

His spectacular Trial by Fire show on the Vegas strip makes Lorenzo the illusionist into a star attraction. However, the Pyr and the slayers demand Lorenzo join their side, but he chooses to remain a solo act.

While on vacation in Las Vegas, paparazzi Cassie Redmond attends Lorenzo’s show. She sits in the first row igniting a sparkling display between the photographer and the performer. The audience including Cassie assumes these sparks are part of Lorenzo’s performance, but the magician knows otherwise. This woman lit up the firestorm of his dragon nature. However, Chen has begun gathering an army, but needs Lorenzo the dragon-shifter to join him; if not the mage’s firestorm mate will die.

After six previous “Kiss” Dragonfire urban fantasies (see Whisper Kiss and Darkfire Kiss), the first entry sans a Kiss in the title is a fast-paced, character driven thriller. Lorenzo has a few rude awakenings starting with his mate and dragon mature surfacing as he is the mage of denial until he understands the threat to his Cassie. Fans of the saga will enjoy venturing into the heart of the Cooke mythos as her protagonist is a master illusionist who actually can perform the shapeshifting physics of magic. Harriet Klausner

Sable Grace
Avon, Dec 27 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061964411

Vampyre-Lychen hybrid Dark Breed Kyana Aslan saved the life of Haven when she turned her BFF into a vampire by giving her blood. However, Kyana learns where good intentions lead to when the rebellious raging spirit of Cronos possesses Haven. Cronos plans to use the recently transformed Haven as a vessel to overthrow the Olympus pantheon, but his host has a vendetta too as she needs to kill her once beloved “sister” for changing her into this monster.

Although her bodyguard Ryker the demigod has not mouthed one I told you so, looks tell Kyana that he knows she erred due to her love of a friend. Now she must rectify her passionate saving of Haven because in seven days her BFF replaces Kyana as the new Artemis Goddess of the Hunt and therefore Haven must die before this transformation to prevent her BFF from bringing hell on Earth.

The second enjoyable Dark Breed Greek mythos urban fantasy (see Ascension) is an exciting tale that looks deep into the soul of the heroine as she struggles between guilt over her friend whom she expects to kill, whining over her wardrobe, and lusting over the body of her bodyguard. Fast-paced from start to finish, however the clothing and Ryker issues at times supersede the intriguing hellish Haven horror subplot. Harriet Klausner

Third Grave Dead Ahead
Darynda Jones
St. Martin’s, Jan 31 2012, $23.99
ISBN: 9781250001542

Grim Reaper and private investigator Charley Davidson seeks a missing spouse whose husband acts uncaringly aloof and detached as if he has no stake in the case. However, Charley struggles to focus on her inquiry as her brain seems to contain one icon, Reyes Farrow, the hybrid son of Satan.

Reyes rages at Charley for failing to work his case as the half human supermodel stands accused of murdering his stepfather, which he denies he did. Others need Charley’s distracted attention too while her caring family begs her to take an office job especially when her cases include a bike gang who demands she find a canine killer or face their grim grave retaliation for failing them.

The third delightfully droll Davidson grave romantic mystery (see First Grave on the Right and Second Grave on the Left) is a great entry in which the zany craziness brilliantly comes together into an amusing, exciting dark thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, Charley wonders who will betray her first from amongst her heart, her family or her insane clients. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Four from Harriet

Nick Mamatas
PM Press, Nov 2 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9781604863543

Julia Hernandez leaves her husband City College Professor Raymond before murdering Peter Neads Fisherman and then vanishing. Since she left him, Raymond rationalizes her dumping him without warning as a “penis panic” attack on her part.

He spots Julia in public near where they lived in Lower Manhattan. The first time was at a grocer she never shopped in buying items she never ate when they were married. The second encounter is in Times Square in which Raymond chose flight rather than confront Julia with why. His running saves his life from an observer ready to push him into traffic. A distraught Raymond will soon learn why Julia committed murder and fled. He finds out about the insect eggs in her arm and the Simulacrum where anarchist wasps and a super genius spider hive that collectively is a “man” ready to shove the professor into traffic. These two insecticide species battle to steer or crash humanity.

Sensation is an entertaining modern day parable that looks at the accumulative stress of minor annoyances in a world in which the individual has no wiggle room alternative. Told by the spiders, Nick Mamatas looks at the Butterfly Effect of chaos in an absolute controlled environment that makes independent thought that breaks away from one’s profile impossible. Although the two intelligent insect species are underdeveloped leaving readers with a void; fans will enjoy this allegorical look at New York, in which Seinfeld is right that as Queen sings in Bohemian Rhapsody “Nothing really matters, anyone can see nothing really matters ….”
Harriet Klausner

Darker After Midnight
Lara Adrian
Delacorte, Jan 24 2012, $24.00
ISBN: 9780345530875

The Ancients came to earth to rape, pillage and conquer; but their manifest destiny fails when their sons lead a rebellion that eliminated all of the invaders except for one survivor. Dragos the Breed megalomaniac believes his brethren should rule the earth with humans as their slaves. He forces the Ancient One to mate with the Breedmates in order to raise a super powerful army of first generation warriors under his command.

Disgraced enforcer Sterling Chase sacrifices himself to buy time for his Order vampire comrades to escape exposure. In a human prison, Sterling sees Tavia Fairchild, aid to US Senator Robert Clarence; she picks him up in a line-up after he tried to kill a guest at the Senator’s party. Sterling thinks her employer, who is not what he seems, wants her dead, but also believes she is not human. When he realizes what species she is he is shocked. The Order takes both of them to a safe house but the same time the pair falls in love he struggles to control his bloodlust and must prepare for the civil war with Dragos and his soldiers. As Dragos brings a sea of red to the streets, the Order leader Lucan Thorne and his warriors including Sterling and Taviagear up for the last battle.

The final Midnight Breed urban fantasy is a great finish to a super saga. Sterling has a chance for redemption due to his mate while Tavia is much more than she first seems. With major threads tied up and the return of Breed Mates from previous entries (see Kiss of Midnight, Kiss of Crimson, Taken by Midnight, and Deeper than Midnight), fans will enjoy Midnight in the world of Adrian. A superb writer pens a fantastic tale. Harriet Klausner

Demon Does It Better
Linda Wisdom
Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402236723

In Inderman, Dr. Lili Carter the witch takes a staff position at Crying Souls Hospital. She conceals from the hospital administration her real reason for returning to the asylum where she worked ages ago. Lili searches for her friend Sera who worked here before vanishing without a trace.

The physician is stunned by the poor conditions of the facility and the haphazard care of the staff. She is especially shocked by the mistreatment of Jared the demon Patient 1172. Dr. Mortimer incarcerated 1172 for what the patient thinks is forever. However, he may have found his miraculous cure with the new doctor as he and Lili are attracted to one another. They team up to learn the insidious truth of what is going down at Crying Souls Hospital.

This romantic fantasy is an exciting thriller due to a strong unique support cast from a feline complaining that Minneapolis is not Inderman to Dragon nurses to the return of the “Hellion Guard” (see Demons Are a Girl’s Best Friend). The protagonists are an interesting forbidden (not for medical relationship reasons) pairing of a patient and a doctor while the villain is as vile as they come. Although the romantic subplot at times distracts from the taut suspense, fans will enjoy visiting the Wisdom magical realm. Harriet Klausner

Hold Me If You Can
Stephanie Rowe
Sourcebooks, Jan 1 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9781402241970

Nigel Aquarian prefers painting to swordplay. However, after a century and a half of imprisonment with his warrior in arms brothers (see Blaine Underhill in Kiss At Your Own Risk and Jarvis Swain in Touch If You Dare) by an evil witch, he remains vigil though he believes the stroke of the brush is mightier than the sword.

Nigel realizes a more lethal threat has arisen. He puts aside the brush and palette to confront the evil. However, he believes chocolatier Natalie Fleming, who he is attracted to, is the key as the vortex of this deadly danger due to a Faustian gift.

The third Warrior urban fantasy is an entertaining paranormal romance starring a reluctant unique hero and a caught in the crosshairs heroine. The story line is fast-paced and filled with tense action yet also has some amusing moments ( a trademark of Stephanie Rowe). Readers will enjoy the adventures in love and danger between Nigel the artist and Natalie the Chocolatier. Harriet Klausner

Saturday, February 11, 2012

More from Harriet

Angel of Darkness
Cynthia Eden
Kensington Brava, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758242174

Keenan the Angel of Death stalks Nicole St. James as he has for weeks waiting to collect her soul as he has done countless times over several millennia. The moment he has anticipated is at hand with a vampire attacking Nicole. She pleads with him to save her life; though he knows he cannot. Keenan kills the vampire instead of the human female he is attracted to.

For failing to complete his mission, Keenan is exiled as a Fallen. He searches for her over the next six months and finally “of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks” (Casablanca) into this dive he drinks away his depression. He remains wanting her though he knows she is now a vampiric fledgling, but Keenan is unaware that Nicole is wanted for murder. Nicole wants her savior, but is unaware that if Keenan completes the kill he regains his former angel essence. Meanwhile besides NYPD, a horde of the paranormal and hunters of the paranormal stalk the pair

The first Fallen urban romantic fantasy is a fast-paced thriller starring a beleaguered pair as seemingly everyone in the Big Apple wants to take a bite out of both them. Fascinatingly, neither of the protagonists acts with typical human morality although Nicole is a recent convert to the other species. With too many adversaries cluttering the overall exciting but dark story line, sub-genre fans still will enjoy Cynthia Eden’s opening entry. Harriet Klausner

Down the Darkest Road
Tami Hoag
ISBN 9780525952398

In 1990, fortyish interior decorator Lauren Lawton and her sixteen year old daughter Leah move to Oak Knoll, California to escape the horror of Santa Barbara. Four years ago, her then sixteen year old daughter Leslie vanished. The police suspected photographer Roland Ballencoa, but found no proof he abducted the teen. Not long afterward, Leslie’s father Lance committed suicide. She is still an emotional disaster and unable to help her other child so Lauren decides to escape the horrid tragic scene.

However, only a few months in their new town, Lauren sees her worst nightmare is there too. Ballencoa has come to Oak Knoll. Trying to protect her younger daughter from this psychopath, Lauren learns the horrible meaning of déjà vu.

The third Oak Knoll investigative thriller is a taut but obvious (even with an interesting twist) tale in which the pioneer days of forensic science play a key cornerstone of storyline (as it does in its predecessors - Deeper Than the Dead and Secrets to the Grave). Fast-paced, fans of the series will enjoy this entertaining cat and mouse novel even knowing the direction Down the Darkest Road that Tami Hoag takes us. Harriet Klausner

Dreaming Awake
Gwen Hayes
NAL, Jan 3 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451235541

Haden Black first entered teenage Theia Alderson's life in her dreams. They met in person at school in Serendipity Falls, California. She fell in love with Haden and proved her feelings when she gave up everything for him as she entered the Under realm to bargain for his life (see Falling Under).

Now she is back in Serendipity Falls a changed young woman having survived incarceration and much more in the Under. However, she has also come back with the same lethal craving that her beloved suffers with. She learns how strong her Haden is as, feeling like a heroine addict, control of the hunger is impossible yet he does it; so Theia knows she must do so. However, when students at their high school become ill from an unidentified disease, Theia fears Haden is the cause. While she struggles with her need and her fears that her beloved has Fallen Under, his past has arrived in Serendipity Falls with plans to destroy her mentally by destroying her loved ones.

The second Under early teen romantic fantasy continues the escapes of two intriguing individuals in love, but unsure whether they should remain together as each believes he is bad for her. The stalker enhances the dilemma facing Theia, as her choices are limited to be with him or not to be with him when her heart chooses the former and her brain says the latter to avoid horrific consequences to others. Although some of the support cast feels out of place, readers will enjoy the deadly triangle. Harriet Klausner

Rusty Fischer
Medallion, Feb 1 2012, $9.95
ISBN: 9781605424491

After being bitten by a vile vicious vampire, the good Savior vampires save Lily Fielding by preventing an infection from destroying her town. They enroll Lilly in the Afterlife Academy of Exceptionally Dark Arts. The lowest of the food chain as a Sister, Lily dreams of becoming a Savior.

Two decades later, the tyro graduates Is still a Sister. Her assignment along with her classmates Alice and Cara are to identify the Vamplayer and the female he plans to victimize in order to make friends with the latter before the former can take control of the target. The three Sisters covet becoming a Savior though this mission is not expected to bring them closer as this is a minor task in Raven Roost, North Carolina in which a blog entry sends them to the Nightshed Conservatory for exceptional Girls and Boys. Lily thinks the intended mark is Bianca and the Vamplayer is Tristan; her two Sisters hook up with the endangered student. However, routine proves a false assumption when the two Sisters are tempted by a super bad Vamplayer with plans to convert the school and villagers to be slaves, and Lily the Third Sister is occupied by her attraction to Zander.

Teenage fans of Rachel Caine and Rachel Caine will appreciate the fresh Fischer vampire mythos. Lily is courageous and foolish, which leads to readers wondering whether she can triumph over the evilest Vamplayer she has ever confronted and worse her heart. Vamplayers is a fun paranormal thriller. Harriet Klausner

Friday, February 10, 2012

Reviews by Harriet

Kate Douglas, Crystal Jordan and Lynn LaFleur
Kensington Aphrodisia, $14.00
ISBN: 9780758269362

"Dream Catcher" by Kate Douglas. Mac has the greatest night of his life with the mysterious Zianne, but is unsure whether she is real. Zianne hopes this human hunk helps her free her energy race.

"Taken Between" by Crystal Jordan. Kira the shapeshifter guard protects her queen with her life, but loves her highness’ brother-in-law Max who shares her passionate regard. As they enjoy their romantic interlude, they need to prevent a lethal threat to the Royal couple.

"The Right Number" by Lynn LaFleur: Jay the shapeshifter dials the wrong number, but enjoys his phone sex chat with Roni. He believes he got lucky as he knows this woman he has not met is his mate. When they do meet in person, his belief is affirmed but a pack feud leaves their love and their lives in peril.

These are three engaging erotic paranormal romances. Although the various realms require “New Rules” (with a nod to Bill Maher) that slow down the pace of the novellas and the endings are abrupt, readers will enjoy these heated couplings.
Harriet Klausner

Beyond The Darkness
Jaime Rush
Avon, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062018915

Pope the Callorian “Shine” assassin disobeyed a command to kill Eric. He returned to his dimension where his superiors at the Collaborate order his execution for failing to carry out his orders. Fleeing back to the human dimension, Pope knows the C will dispatch assassins to kill him as he has been declared Scarlet.

Pope turns to Eric’s sister hybrid Petra for help in finding her former boyfriend Cheveyo the shapeshifter who dumped her out of fear his dark innerness will destroy his beloved. The renegade Callorian fears that if the C learns about the Offspring’s genetic tie to the Callorians, they will send a horde of Shine to kill the hybrids. Yurek the assassin learns who Petra is, forcing Cheveyo to come out of the shadows to protect the female he loves.

The latest Offspring romantic urban fantasy (see Touching Darkness and Out of the Darkness) is a super suspense thriller as the adversaries come from another dimension rather than arrogant government agents. The story line is action-packed throughout as readers anticipate a High Noon confrontation that when it comes will please fans of Jaime Rush. Harriet Klausner

Amanda Hocking
St. Martin’s Griffin, Jan 3 2011, $8.00
ISBN: 9781250006318

In the Hamptons when Wendy Everly was five years old, her dad died. One year later her mother tried to kill Wendy with a butcher’s knife; claiming her offspring was a monster who switched places with her baby. Wendy physically survived the assault thanks to her older brother Matt’s intervention, but mentally she was not the same. Aunt Maggie is her legal guardian. Over a decade later, emotionally distant loner Wendy is filled with rage, has weird eating habits and just comes across as different.

In a new location after being expelled from school for punching out the Dean’s bullying daughter, Wendy promises Matt she will stay out of trouble and even try to make a friend or two. Wendy has a telepathic skill in which she can get people to do what she wants as teacher Mr. Meade learns. She meets the other school newcomer Finn Holmes, who Wendy confronts for his constant staring at her. When Wendy becomes angry at Finn, she gets kind student Patrick to take her home. That night Finn climbs into her room to tell Wendy what she is and to escort her on a journey to a realm she does not want to visit.

The first Trylle teenage tale is an enjoyable paranormal thriller starring an enigmatic dichotomous protagonist who suffers from PTSD after her mom’s attack while turning into a strange combo of in your face heroine who chooses flight over fight almost every time. The surfacing of her powers is not fully explained as to why now, but fans will enjoy her self discovery into what she is; yet also feel disappointed that the engaging Switched climaxes with a cliffhanger. Harriet Klausner

Million Suns
Beth Revis
Razorbill, Jan 10 2012, $17.99
ISBN: 9781595143983

Eldest is dead along with the lies (see Across the Universe); Elder reluctantly takes charge of the Godspeed. He quickly learns their food supply is reaching critical scarcity levels, which makes reaching their target that mush more difficult.

Amy was unplugged from her cryogenic chamber fifty years earlier than her scheduled three centuries sleep. She struggles to adapt to her world on board the vessel, but though she distrusted Eldest, wshe ants to trust Elder who she is attracted to. They begin to investigate what is going on with the living and dead while trying to prevent the use of the drug phydus at a time when the feeders are gaining control.

The Across the Universe young adult futuristic science fiction thriller is an exciting “locked” shop mystery in which the audience will feel they are on board the gigantic yet claustrophobic Godspeed. Amy the freak is a super protagonist who feels anxiety and panic with the close vessel, but refuses to allow her emotions to cripple her. Elder is a fascinating leader as readers and Amy wonder if he is the hero or the villain. Fans will enjoy the middle book as the walls are closing in on Elder and Amy. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Baryon 122

Baryon 122 is officially up and running at

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Reviews by Harriet

Sarah McCarty
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241394

The Vamp Man Slade Johnson raids the research lab of scientist Jane Frederickson. He takes her prisoner as he believes she can save his people especially his dying nephew. Slade escorts Jane to his home Sanctuary where he and the other Renegades live.

Jane is shocked to realize Slade, a a technological genius is her intellectual equal and her sexual fantasy. Slade is stunned when he realizes Dr. Jane may be the savior of his people, but she is also his Mate. As they fall in love, she makes him promise not to convert her; as she has issues involving her stepfather and he has issues with what their relationship can do to her physically and to him emotionally. Finally there is her formula that everyone wants.

The latest Shadow Wranglers ranch romantic fantasy (see Jace, Jared and Caleb) is an engaging tale starring two geniuses falling in love. The irony of the story line is neither of the brilliant pair knows what to do with being each other’s Mate. The exciting somewhat thin story line contains an insightful relationship drama inside an action-packed plot; as the lab rivals the boudoir for dominance.
Harriet Klausner

Touch of Power
Maria V. Snyder
Mira, Dec 20 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780778313076

The plague spread across the Fifteen Realms killing many people as the once adulated healers failed to prevent the pandemic. Raging at their plight, people held the healers culpable; some leaders accused them of causing the deadly disease. Healing became outlawed and healers are hunted and executed.

The last breathing healer Avry of Kazan used her power to save a dying toddler as she could not stop herself from interceding. However, her reward was being turned in to the law for execution by villagers collecting the gold bounty placed on healers. Kerrick of Alga and his men free Avry, as he believes the people need her skill while the royal leaders battle with one another for power.

Touch of Power is the exciting opening act of Maria V. Snyder’s latest fantasy (see the author’s “Study” and Glass” trilogies). The world-building is superb with class distinctions; while the political machinations by the aristocracy are insightful as the upper crust seek power and wealth while using healers as scapegoats for their failures when it comes to the plight of their subjects. Kerrick is somewhat stereotypical of the genre as a charismatic caring roguish hero. However, this is Avry’s saga as the last healer who cannot stop herself from deploying her skills though she knows the cost. The romance between them is somewhat muted as both know the objective is to help the people so their desire for one another takes a back seat in an engaging fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Killing Rites
M.L.N. Hanover
Pocket, Nov 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9781439176344

Jayne Heller realizes her recent victories against more powerful paranormal creatures (see Darker Angels and Vicious Grace) is improbably at best and impossible at most likely. She considers why she has such powers that she adeptly deploys in spite of only recently learning her affluent uncle’s occultism.

Jayne believes a rider demon possesses her, in which a second rider effect is kicking butt. Needing help, Jayne turns to Ex the former priest who she trusts with her soul; that is if she still has a soul. Agreeing with her assertion, Ex knows the rider must be removed before his friend loses everything. In New Mexico, he takes Jayne on a journey to locate his teacher and his friends so they can exorcise the rider before it’s too late. However, when the rite failed, Jayne finds her friends hunting her to kill her and the demon while another rider is nearby ready to take control if her current demon is removed from her. Realistically Jayne knows her only comrades in arms are the beast inside her and a vampiric exile she saved.

The latest Black Sun’s Daughter urban fantasy is a gothic atmospheric introspective thriller in which the heroine has less fights and more time looking inside her soul. Jayne is terrific as she fears an evil rider owns her. Although the action is somewhat abated especially compared to the previous entries, fans will enjoy It Happened to a creative and tantalizing urban fantasy thriller. Harriet Klausner

Shaedes of Gray
Amanda Bonilla
Signet, Dec 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451235299

A hundred years ago, her husband abused Darian. Her lover Azriel the immortal Shaede changes Darian into the gray shadowy walker that he is and informs her they are the last two of their species. He vanishes without a trace.

Feeling “Alone Again (Naturally)” (by Gilbert O’Sullivan) Darian becomes a skilled assassin whose current handler is Tyler. However her latest assignment stuns Darian as a key premise that she believed in for the past century proves false. Her kill target is King Xander Peck ruler of the Shaede Nation. Darian is caught in the crosshairs of supernatural combat as she carries out her task to assassinate the monarch while wondering what other transgressions her creator told her.

The first Shaede Assassin is an excellent urban fantasy starring a strong survivor. Intrepid Darian holds the exciting story line together as she learns the truth about the existence of the Shaede nation and tries to find out why Azriel lied to her and deserted her to her own wiles. Fast-paced, readers will believe in the existence of Shaedes of Gray as Darian professionally goes about completing her mission. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

new Reviews from Harriet

Night Reigns
Dianne Duvall
Zebra, Dec 1 2011, $6.99
ISBN: 9781420118629

Eight century old Immortal Guardian Marcus Graden is concerned with the recent military precise pack attacks by vampires; as that is out of the norm for the insane bloodsuckers who rarely work together. In Chapel Hill, Marcus meets Ami, a weapons expert, when both battle a vampire pack.

To his chagrin his Guardian superior Seth wants Ami to serve as a human Second to Marcus. She is appalled with working with this cold Guardian and he prefers to work alone; both make their feelings known to each other. However, as they team up to counterattack the new vampire king and his deadly shocking allies, Marcus and Ami fall in love but she owes him the revelation of the secret she conceals from everyone.

The second super Immortal Guardians romantic urban fantasy (see Darkness Dawns) is a fantastic thriller filled with twists that bring freshness to the action-packed story line. The protagonists are a delightful pairing of arrogance and butt kicker though neither are unique characters. Fast-paced from the moment the lead pair meets in Chapel Hill, fans will enjoy this vampire thriller. Harriet Klausner

Honor Among Thieves
David Chandler
Harper Voyager, Nov 29 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062021267

Fate chose Malden the thief as the savior of the people of the Skrae Kingdom when he obtained one of the seven Ancient Blades. However being the chosen one (of seven) does not automatically denote success; Malden failed to prevent the horde from the East devastating Skrae. The mass destruction taught the clever thief several lessons as he flees from the Dwarven Kingdom southward towards the Free City of Ness. Understanding a thieves’ first principle to never trust an ally to have your back, his associates who jumped on his bandwagon have leaped away from him as if he is a pariah. Everyone with a few exceptions abandon Malden though many from the King of Skrae and the leaders of the Free City of Ness like Cutbill of the thieves’ guild (that is before he abruptly vanished after receiving a message from his operative in the always squabbling Northern Kingdoms) covet the loser’s magical power.

Malden has an army of harlots and thieves, along with Cythera the sorceress and Slag the dwarf. However, all is not lost though it looks hopeless; Malden may have a sword of magic, but he applies his thieving experiences to concoct a plan.

The final Ancient Blades military fantasy (see A Thief in the Night and Den of Thieves) is a fast-paced thriller as the beleaguered hero learns honor and dishonor among thieves and political leaders (who many will say are thieves). The story line is fast-paced with a great early hook involving Cutbill. Although the swords that were prevalent in the previous entries (especially the first one) plays a lesser role than expected, quest fans will appreciate Malden’s final stand. Harriet Klausner

Chloe Neill
NAL, Jan 3 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451230805

In Chicago, Lily Parker attends St. Sophia School for Girls. The sophomore, the rest of her high school group and her BFF Scout protect the residents of the city from the Reapers; adepts who refused to give up the magic once they use their allotment so they absorb the soul from people to give them more time as practitioners.

One day Lily applies her firespell, but it fails to work. She soon learns that all the adepts in the city no longer possess magic. The adepts blame the reapers, but Lily finds out that the rogue practitioners have lost their talent too. Although the two groups distrust one another, Lily needs a reaper to help her regain what has vanished. Sebastian the reaper who does not follow the party line agrees to team up with Lily while the Enclave chief decides to take a chance on the rogue loner. Lily takes the biggest risk when she attempts to break the spell in order to bring back the magic; while the caster’s plans sneak up on the teen.

Wiser than her age, Lily is the bridge between the two rival magical using groups as she rejects the black and white assertions of each side. This concept is critical for her and Sebastian to team up. She is a true heroine who takes dangerous chances to keep her Enclave safe. The third Dark Elite urban fantasy (see Firespell and Hexbound) is spellbound twisting winner. Harriet Klausner

City of the Lost
Stephen Blackmore
Daw, Jan 3 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780756407025

In Los Angeles Joe Sunday and his partner Julio Guerrera are enforcers working for mobster Simon Patterson. Though they mostly break a few bones, each has killed targets without a second thought. In a North Hollywood bar, Julio violently attacks Joe and the bartender before cutting his own throat. LAPD Detective Frank Tanake arrives and tells Joe to report anything suspiciously odd.

Simon explains to Joe that Sandro Giantetti who he killed decades ago murdered Julio. He assigns Joe to retrieve a stone from the elderly man. Julio’s wife Mariel returns Joe’s earlier call to tell him her spouse is home when she becomes hysterical. Julio smashes his beloved spouse into a wall as Joe enters the house. Sandro arrives and directs Julio to attack Joe. When Joe regains consciousness he realizes none of years of aches hurt. Sandro explains that Joe is his first success at reanimating a dead man. All hell breaks loose as Joe kills Simon for betraying him and Tanake shoots Sandro in the head. However, Tanake shows the non breathing Joe that Sandro posed in a Renaissance Era painting so will probably return to life. Joe knows the talisman he took from Sandro means a horde of zombies led by Sandro will come for him.

This is a brisk engaging zombie urban fantasy starring am antihero who has a strange values system as he has no compunctions being a hit man or cannibalizing a hooker, but feels he owes his partner by telling Julio’s wife that he is dead. Although the reason for Sandro’s experimentation comes late as this intuitively appears to conflict with his centuries-old longevity, sub-genre readers will enjoy the reanimated hit man takes Southern California. Harriet Klausner

Monday, February 6, 2012

Questions & Answers with Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison will soon be releasing A PERFECT BLOOD (Harper Voyager, February 21, 2012, $26.99)and here is an interview with her to stir up some interest in her latest addition to the HOLLOWS series.

You have written as Dawn Cook and as Kim Harrison. What prompted you to create the Kim Harrison persona?

The Kim Harrison name was the idea of my publisher, actually, who was eager to keep the Hollows books separate from my earlier, more traditional fantasy works written under Dawn Cook. Having an established name in one genre is not always advantageous to selling books in another, and that was the case here. A pen name would also help ease any possible legal issues since I was also writing for a different publisher at the time.

It was actually my editor who picked out the name Kim Harrison as a way to get me close on the shelf to other authors publishing similar stuff. Creating a persona to go along with the name was a natural step. I’ve gotten my share of flack from readers who think it’s dishonest, but I didn’t create Kim from nothing, simply fleshed out facets of myself that were already present and minimized others. I have yet to meet the person who doesn’t use makeup, clothes, or attitude to define themselves, and that’s all that’s going on here. I like to think of Kim as being the public face, sort of a work title.

What are the differences between Kim and Dawn? (Other than Kim’s fiery red hair and proclivity towards leather…)

I have to laugh at this question because there really are none. I drink the same brand of tea whether I’m at home at my desk or on the road. I am naturally quiet whether I am doing the PR thing or writing. I don’t like answering the phone, whether it is my land line at home or cell on the road. My Drama Box (blog) is a public, daily snapshot of my work and home life, and though I admit my mom sometimes calls to get the real story, it’s nothing made up or sensationalized. About the only difference is the clothes, hair, and makeup, and I’m not enough of a media star to be able to sign in sweats and a T-shirt and still be taken seriously.

In the wake of the True Blood phenomenon, did you ever ask yourself why you were keeping up this façade, if the country was embracing vampire fever so fervently?

No. I never saw it as a façade. Kim was never a way to hide from my neighbors, she was a way for me to separate the real (my desk) from the fantasy (people clapping when you enter a store) Kim was, and still is, a professional face to help maintain a healthy relationship with my readers—not too close, not too far. It’s worked wonderfully, and I feel safe among my readers unlike some urban fantasy superstars. My readers are the butchers, the bakers, and candlestick makers, (schoolteachers, housewives, cops, and military guys and gals) and they know what they see up there on the stage or at my Drama Box is a real person.

Now that you have moved from a conservative Southern community to more liberal environs near Ann Arbor…where does Kim go from here?

I don’t see much of a change in Kim now that I live in an area that doesn’t frown upon writing about witches. All my neighbors know what I do for a living now instead of a handpicked few, and that feels comfortable, but I’m still not going to go down to the store wearing my Kim outfit. That would be . . . weird and unhealthy.

Kim, would you ever consider going back to your natural blonde?

No, but Kim’s hair is going to be getting progressively shorter. The long hair was fun, but if you don’t grow and change, you become stagnant, and our outward appearance is a direct reflection of what’s going on within. Besides, that natural blonde is going gray. *laugh* Which I totally love. Gray hair? Bring it on! I can’t wait until I have enough of it to make the statement that gray hair can be sexy. That would be the only reason that I’d lose the red hair while doing appearances.

The world you created, The Hollows, is so different from others within the urban fantasy genre. Tell us about its inhabitants, and its magic.

Thank you! I really appreciate that you think the Hollows stands alone. I have worked hard to create a world that is both easily recognized and yet contains danger from unexpected sources. It’s populated by witches, Weres, warrior pixies, and vampires like many urban fantasy worlds, but I’ve tried to stress that these inhabitants have been living side-by-side with humans for thousands of years, struggling with the same issues, fighting in the same wars, sharing the human experience of noisy neighbors, dogs peeing on their car, and a willful child needing tutoring in math. It makes my otherworldly characters highly identifiable, and therefore an effective tool for me to tell my story with.

For me, the vampire, witch, and Were in literature have always been facets of human nature fleshed out and given a name to be better recognized as the predator, the innovator, and the animal side in all of us. They are fun to work with, and seeing the predator struggle with her instincts to be the person she wants to be, the innovator grow emotionally before she can develop her talents, and the bestial side of us turn out to be more nurturing than expected, has been satisfying.

Another aspect of the Hollows that I’ve tried to stress is balance, with no faction of the populace having superiority over another. The magic, too, is balanced with pros and cons, logically divided into earth magic (traditional fireplace brewing of spells) and ley line magic (the more modern experience of waving a wand for a result.) I know this has come about from my background in the sciences, and I love talking about genetic pitfalls and having logical reasons for illogical situations.

Do you think the recent (overwhelming) popularity of the True Blood series (based upon the Sookie Stackhouse novels) has driven more readers to urban fantasy? Has that affected you?

I’m sure the popularity of True Blood has had only a positive impact on my readership and the readership in urban fantasy in general. I owe the urban fantasy greats a huge debt of gratitude for their success which allows me to make a living doing what I love. However . . .

I don’t want to say that the popularity of urban fantasy has been a two-edged sword upon itself, but I do harbor a concern that with its recent success, many publishers have been tempted to push badly written, ill thought-out books so as to have an urban fantasy on the shelf with their name on it. Urban fantasy should be smart, clever, suspenseful, and make you think even after the last page is turned. Its roots are in mystery, science fiction, suspense and just a touch of romance, and the writing should reflect this. Producing melodramatic slush to gain short-term readers at the expense of quality storytelling is a mistake. There’s always the fear that several poorly written books in a row might turn away new readers who have not yet gotten to the good stuff.

You have a very different breed of vampires from those that inhabit True Blood, such as Ivy – a living vampire. What’s the difference?

I originally wanted to have both living and dead vampires for the very simple reason of desiring a book that took place in the day as well as night, and working with sunscreen felt like cheating. I wanted an old-school vampire with all the ugliness intact, but the appeal of a sympathetic, sexy vampire also had its draw. My solution was to have both with a very clear dividing line between the two.

My living vampires have all the sex appeal, the blood lust, and the charisma of the dead without the light restrictions, sensitivity to holy artifacts, and the lack of a soul. The separation began as a way to have my cake and eat it too, but I soon realized the potential and widened the gap between them. The dead became a metaphor for sexual abusers, child molesters, and the powerful that destroy people for their personal pleasure. The living vampires became the embodiment of the abused—perfect and enviable on the outside, hiding the decay and pain within, carrying the knowledge that they were doomed to become what they both hated and loved, unable to escape. I have a hard time writing Ivy, my living vampire who is struggling to overcome her abuse and learn to love without causing pain. Seeing her grow has been a relief, and I’m now able to imagine a happy ending for her.

You also write Young Adult fiction. How does an author “tone down” vamps, witches, angels, demons and ghosts for a younger audience? Or do they want their “UF” fix to be as gritty and edgy as the adults do?

Yes! I write Young Adult fiction as well, and though I’ve gotten dirty looks from other YA professionals for “dipping into their pool,” I will continue to do so. I found my love for reading in the YA shelves, and the chance to pass that love on to a new generation is a high like no other.

I believe the YA reader wants the same thing an adult reader does, and I’ve tried to make my YA series as gritty, thought provoking, and complex as my adult series while not sacrificing a full throttle, anything-goes mentality, but yes, there needs to be some thought given to what you’re putting on the page.

YA has always been an area where boundaries are pushed and sensitive topics are discussed. It’s a natural reflection of the audience that you’re writing for. While I shy away from graphic abuse, rape, and drug use—preferring to showcase strong will, endurance, and the belief in oneself and the power of friendship—the heavier topics in YA literature have a place and should be handled with respect, and though I’m not advocating a rating system on books, if the content is extreme, the back-page blurb should reflect it.

And to finish up: what do you have against tomatoes; and -- pixies…can be macho?

I love tomatoes! And I love to laugh. I’m sure I’ve lost a few potential, serious readers because of my wont for the end of the world as we know it to be at the hands of a genetically engineered tomato, but if I can’t laugh, then what’s the point? There are enough serious topics wedged between the killer tomatoes and macho pixies to keep the reader satisfied and looking for more.

And yes, pixies can be macho. They would have to be to survive. I never understood the concept behind beautiful, frail, happy little winged spirits full of joy and laughter, so I styled my pixies a little closer to the reality of trying to survive in a world bent on killing you. Jenks is my main man, a pixy with 53 kids, a mortgage, and the job of trying to keep a risk-taking witch alive. He’s good with electronics, would make an excellent thief, has a heart of gold, and a frontier mentality of kill or be killed. “Protect your own,” would be his motto, and his world has expanded to hold those outside his kin. There is still the joy and laughter that one would expect from a pixy, but it’s tempered with the drive to survive. It doesn’t hurt that he looks good in tights, too.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Reviews from Harriet

Spells & Stitches
Barbara Bretton
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425241059

In Sugar Maple, Vermont, Sticks and Strings knitting store owner Chloe Hobbs, a sorceress in training, struggles with her out of control half-human hormones as she is over eight months pregnant with her first child that comingle with her magical DNA. Chloe owes a zillion favors from her otherworldly pals for clean up duty such as sending two women from Boise on a magical mystery tour and sending a fire ball at her mate’s mother Bunny when caught by surprise by the woman entering her establishment; apparently someone leaked to the MacKensie brood that a grandchild is coming. Chloe’s significant other Police Chief Luke MacKensie, the only purebred resident of the town, is ecstatic over the upcoming birth of his first child.

Laria is born healthy while the parents and others go gaga over her. However, raising a baby and running a business or enforcing the law is difficult. Raising a baby with magical skills is impossible especially trying to conceal the paranormal from his family.

This bewitching charmer is filled with humor as it takes a village to raise a baby sorceress. Fast-paced the collision between the MacKensie human horde and the paranormal residents of the Vermont village is jocularly entertaining. However, it is Laria who makes this a fresh tale as she has typical baby needs and some extraordinary extras as Laria has unique ways of “communicating. Although it behooves sub-genre fans to read the previous A Knitting Mystery romantic Green Mountain village fantasies (see Spun by Sorcery) to understand family dynamics, Barbara Bretton provides an engaging tale of parenthood. Harriet Klausner

That Old Black Magic
Michelle Rowen
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425244913

In Toronto, psychic Eden Riley loves Darrak the cursed demon whom she met when he possessed her (see The Demon In Me). They still seek a way to end his centuries old curse, which would free him, keep her alive, and have a happy new beginning together in two separate bodies. Though tempted especially when his body surfaces Eden avoids using her recently required new black magic, but finds increasingly controlling her skills very difficult as she sets her blackberry on fire.

The psychic and the demon agree they need help as her soul-destroying black magic deploys without her employing it. They find a cure for the curse and control of her magic, but the risk to Eden is her life.

The third Living in Eden Canadian urban romantic fantasy (See Something Wicked) is an engaging finish to an enjoyable trilogy. The amusing story line is fast-paced from the moment the heroine lights up her blackberry and never slows down until the final manifestation; that ironically fans of the series will intuitively know before the lead couple does. That Old Black Magic is a winning climax to a fun series. Harriet Klausner

Ellen Connor
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425243400

A dozen years ago the Change brought the Dark Age Dawning of evil into the world (see Nightfall). Most magic practitioners turned to the amoral side with no thoughts of mankind beyond expendable pawns. Penelope “Orchid” Sheehan remains persistent with her belief to help the surviving humans against the forces of General O’Malley, especially his hellhounds.

Pen wants to destroy the O’Malley murdering raiders, but is a prisoner of her enemy who plans to sell her as a slave to the highest bidder. Her childhood friend Tru Daugherty the lion skinwalker rescues her. She pleads with him to joins forces to take the battle to O’Malley. However, although attracted to Pen, Tru is a loner so he wants to say no though he fears for the life of the woman he always loved. Separately they will die; together they can change the world.

Daybreak, the final Dark Age Dawning romantic fantasy (see Midnight), is a great finish to a strong post-apocalyptic thriller. Extremely fast-paced throughout, yet vividly descriptive of the dark landscape and starring two fascinating heroes, fans will appreciate the climax as Pen will go after O’Malley with or without the shapeshifter she loves. Harriet Klausner

Hearts and Swords
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425243411

“Heart and Sword”. As supplies and calm temperament run out, Captain Kelse Bountry confronts a mutiny while seeking a planet for his earth fleet to colonize while his wife Fern has his back.

”Heart Story”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City Blush Willow hid her Heartmate Dri Paris from her murderous insane mother. Now a year after her mom died, she hopes to have a second chance with her Heartmate, but their past remains an obstacle and his family’s dire straits make her even more unacceptable.

“Heart and Soul”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in small Gael City Tinne Holly’s ex wife Genista Furze obtains work assisting a clockmaker as Nista Gorse. GentleSir Cardus Parry is attracted to her, but she has no wish for any mate after her scandalous divorce shocked the FirstFamilies.

“Noble Heart”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City during the Passage, Walker Clover learns he has the Flair, which is so prevalent his family rises to GrandLord level. He must wed a member of the FirstFamilies, but wants none of them as he only desires the enigmatic Sedwy Grove.

This is a strong quartet as Robin D. Owens fills in some of the gaps in her terrific Celta romantic fantasy saga. Harriet Klausner