Saturday, March 31, 2012


Darkness Bound
Stella Cameron
Forever, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781455500154

After two years as a couple and a few days married, Chris died. Fourteen months later, his grieving widow Leigh Kelly decides she cannot live in their home filled with too many memories. She moves to Chimney Rock on Whidbey Island.

Former Special Ops soldier Niles Latimer and his werehound Team are diligently watching the newcomer to keep her safe from rogues assaulting women. However, he also senses Leigh possesses something unique that could prove her compatible as life mate for a werehound. Nile realizes she knows nothing about her DNA or the existence of werehounds as he and his Team vow to protect her while the evil enemy senses who she is too and pledges to take her.

The first Chimney Rock romantic urban fantasy is a superb dark thriller in which Stella Cameron creates a deep mythos that feels genuine; inside of a fast-paced good and evil battle for Leigh. Loaded with chilling action, a strong lead couple and two camps of werehounds and other ilk, sub-genre readers will enjoy a visit to mysterious Whidbey Island where the paranormal is the normal. Harriet Klausner

Lenobia's Vow
P. C. Cast & Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin, Jan 31 2012, $12.99
ISBN: 9781250000248

Today Lenobia is the horse mistress of the House of Night in St. Louis and Zoey Redbird’s favorite teacher. She and her mother were servants in 1788 at the Chateau de Naverre in Evreux, France. Her father the baron seduced her mother, impregnated her and cast her and their offspring aside. That child Lenobia looks identical to her spoiled half-sister Cecile.

When Lenobia is sixteen years old, the legitimate daughter dies from ague. Leonia’s mother arranges for her daughter to masquerade as Cecile in order for her to marry an affluent aristocrat. The plot works perfectly as Lenobia and other unmarried young ladies travel by ship to New Orleans to marry rich French aristocrats. While traversing the Atlantic, evil sorcerer Bishop Charles recognizes and announces the fraud as he coveted her back in France and plans to make her his mistress. A nun protects her and she decides to go to the cargo hold on the last level of the ship where she meets Quadroon Martin in the stables. She falls in love with him and the Percheron horse that his employer bought. He sent Martin to go to France so that he could take care of them over the long sea voyage. n The Bishop soon makes his move to rape Lenobia using all means available to him while Martin vows to keep his beloved safe.

The latest House of Night Novella (see Dragon’s Oath) focuses on the teen years of a secondary but popular character. Readers learn what shaped Lenobia’s present mysterious life as the child is the adult even if two centuries have passed. At sixteen, Lenobia displays the same traits she shows as a teacher: courage, honesty and inner strength. She wanted to be happy, but her choices were limited to be or not to be until a third option was offered. This is an engaging biographical fiction as the Cast crew entertains their fans. Harriet Klausner

Marie Lu
Putnam, Nov 29 2011, $17.99
ISBN: 9780399256752

The Republic of America has twenty million citizens and seems to be at constant cold and hot war with its neighbors the Colonies. The laws are strictly enforced regardless of economic and social placement though the elite have all the special advantages and privileges.

From a highly prominent affluent family, fifteen year old June is mentored to become a member of the inner most military leadership. However, her fast track to the top is derailed when her brother Captain Metias is murdered while officially hunting for criminal teenager Day, the number one most wanted person in the Republic, who, in spite of security video cameras all over Los Angeles, his face remains a mystery. Commander Jameson claims Day killed June’s sibling. She vows to avenge her brother’s murder.

Although the High Noon encounter goes the way one would expect even with a fascinating twist, this is a superb futuristic dystopian police procedural. The storyline is fast-paced as readers will appreciate the teenage chess match between the elusive felon and the obsessed soldier; as checkmate is an intriguing spin. Marie Lu provides a fabulously exciting thriller starring two teens from polar opposite sides of the track. Harriet Klausner

Syrie James and Ryan M. James
Harper Teen, Jan 24 2012, $8.99
ISBN: 9780062027894

In Southern California, sixteen years old Claire hopes this time she and her mom stay in one spot so she can makes friends at the Emerson Academy that she attends on a scholarship. Her nomadic mom has them relocating seemingly even before they can open their bags. At the school Claire meets new student Alec, an angel attending school for a bit of R&R though if caught by the Elders he will be executed for desertion. He explains to her why her mother constantly is on the run; as Claire is a half-angel, a hybrid species considered an abomination by the angel Elders.

Alec and Claire fall in love while Helena begins sending visions to Claire with a warning to tell no one, not even her beloved, of her psychic powers. Unable to resist Claire reveals all to her friends. When her life is threatened, Alec risks his to keep her safe.

Although angels are a large population in the paranormal romance subgenre (see His Dark Bond By Anne Marsh), team James provide an entertaining teenage romantic urban fantasy. The storyline is fast-paced while the antics of the heroine are fun to follow as her hormones war with her brain. Although the support characters are out of the genre’s typical casting mold, Alec is a unique individual who is wary and in love. Readers will enjoy Claire’s coming of age not so angelic Los Angeles joy ride. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Champion of Mars

Champion of Mars

by Guy Haley

Battle begins April 24th (US/Canada) and 10th May (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-84-1

$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-85-8

Available as an ebook

In the far future, Mars is dying a second time. The Final War of men and spirits is beginning. In a last bid for peace, disgraced champion Yoechakenon Val Mora and his spirit lover Kaibeli are set free from the Arena to find the long-missing Librarian of Mars, the only hope to save mankind.

In the near future, a scientist running from a painful past, joins the Mars colonisation effort, cataloguing the remnants of its biosphere before it is swept away by the terraforming programme. When an artefact is discovered deep in the caverns of the red planet, the consequences ripple throughout time, affecting Holland’s present, the distant days of Yoechakanon, and the eras that bridge the aeons between.

Combining the imagination of Kim Stanley Robinson with the pace and excitement of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Haley’s blend of hard science and epic storytelling creates a vision of the Red Planet that is both recognisable and utterly alien.

“A novel with an ambition on the scale of Olympus Mons itself, and it delivers. Recommended.” – Stephen Baxter

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Born to Darkness
Suzanne Brockmann
Ballantine, Mar 20 2012, $26.00
ISBN 9780345521279

The United States is spiraling into third world status as the Great Depression II wreaks havoc on most people due to policies that legalized unfair practices leading to the wealthiest doing great while everyone paid the price. For much of the increasing poor there is only one commodity they can sell: their preteen daughters. The Organization has created Destiny from the hormones of pre-puberty females; the affluent love the elixir that allows those with money to buy the perfect physical specimen at the cost of their mind.

The Obermeyer Institute opposes the sale of girls as a commodity and by extrapolation are against the use of Destiny. However, groups like the Organization own the media and the politicians so Obermeyer is considered by most a place for crackpots. With nowhere to turn, banished former Navy SEAL Shane Laughlin joins OI though he believes the media portrayal of lunatics especially the “Greater-Thans” philosophy to deploy otherworldly powers for the common good. He changes his mind when female Greater Than scientists half his size kicks his butt in. Shane and Greater Than Michelle “Mac” Mackenzie had shared a one night stand before he joined OI as a test subject. In Boston, they attempt to rescue a young girl sold for her hormones who appears to be a Greater Than.

Noted for Breaking the Rules of romantic suspense with her Troubleshooters saga, Suzanne Brockmann provides a powerful enthralling and dark paranormal thriller as the extraction of young female hormones is a capitalist commodity exchange item. The gripping premise extrapolates trends in economics, politics, journalism and pharmaceutical to paint a dark soulless future. The prime romance between the protagonists and a gay relationship enhance an exciting fast-paced rescue mission.
Harriet Klausner

Darkness Undone
Jessa Slade
Signet, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN 9780451236265

To earn his wings as a League of Talyan Bookkeeper, Sidney Westerbrook leaves London to study why Chicago contains an exorbitant level of otherworldly combat. Though he preferred research from a distance, he knows field work is an inconvenient truth of his mission. However, the Chicago League Chief Liam Niall refuses to allow him to join their night patrol on his first evening in the city; suggesting he adapt to the time change first.

Thus Sidney goes out on the town alone. However, Westerbrook realizes the stupidity of his actions when two feralis attack him. His shoulder injured, he expects to be a mangled corpse only a female talya warrior intercedes as Alyce Carver is not bound by strict League rules as a rogue battling evil ferales solo. They are attracted to one another, but Sid is a London based Bookkeeper, and Alyce is a rogue unaffiliated talyan and is expected to mate with one of her kind.

The fourth Marked Souls romantic urban fantasy (see Seduced by the Shadows, Forged in Shadows and Vowed in Shadows) is an exciting paranormal with a fascinating unexpected but plausible twist. The story line is fast-paced with the well done gender spin of the heroine saving the helpless male in distress. Although Alyce garners much respect for her dedication and empathy for her loneliness, Sid fails to do likewise as understanding him comes late. Still this is another dynamic thriller in the super Slade mythos. Harriet Klausner

Wicked Edge
Nina Bangs
Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $15.00
ISBN 9780425245491

The Council of Justice finds Passion the angel guilty of too much impish behavior as her appeal is that she just wanted to bring life to their tedious existence fails to move the judgment board. Passion can deal with her punishment to wander the Earth as a mortal in order to save human souls; however, she feels the Council was cruel and non-angelic when they made Hope the whiner her heavenly contact as once a day having this irritant in her mind can make anyone consider evil thoughts.

Her assignment takes the “human” Passion to the Castle of Dark Dreams where any form of sexual fantasy occurs. However, the virginal temporarily fallen angel meets Edge playing the role of a demon. She realizes how wicked he truly is by his aura, but rationalizes even a demon can be redeemed while Edge insists he just wants to bang the virgin demonic style.

The fifth erotic Castle of Dark Dreams romantic fantasy (Wicked Edge, Wicked Fantasy Wicked Pleasure and My Wicked Vampire) is an enticing wicked tale starring an interesting pair; as she is a virginal angel and he is the sinful demon. Their forbidden romance makes for a terrific paranormal star-crossed lovers’ thriller.
Harriet Klausner

Bridge of Dreams
Anne Bishop
Roc, Mar 6 2012, $26.95
ISBN: 9780451463814

Siblings Lee and Glorianna Belladonna along with Michael the Musician and others removed the darkness of The Eater of the World from Ephemera (see Belladonna). However, though Ephemera is balanced now, the world remains a perilous place as affirmed when bellicose wizards arrive. Lee stops their threat to disrupt the balance, but ends up in an asylum in Vision, a city also facing dark peril.

The Vision Shamans fail to prevent the dark plague from spreading. Lee understands what they face and offers his assistance and those of his family in Ephemera, Glorianna and their cousin Sebastian. However, the proud protectors of Vision eventually may acquiesce to his offer, but time is running out.

The third Ephemera fantasy is an entertaining tale with an incredible vivid description of the Bishop mythos and a wonderful self-sacrificing hero who risks his life again to save a city of strangers. The storyline starts slow with an inordinate amount of time on what happened in the previous entries (see Sebastian). However, once the protagonist jumps into the frying pan to save Ephemera and then into the fire to save Vision, Bridge of Dreams accelerates into a super-fast-paced exciting thriller. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Interesting Reviews from Harriet

Vampire’s Kiss
Veronica Wolff
NAL, Mar 6 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451235725

Off the Scottish coast lies the Isle of Night populated by vampires, tracers, watchers, acari and humans. Ronan the vampire tracer recruited from the University of Florida Annelise Drew (see Isle of Night). She is a second year acari student who understands that only the strong survive so she diligently works hard with one goal to get off the island; which means becoming a Watcher even though escape is doubtful.

Alcantara the vampire acts likes Drew enchants him when he accelerates her training so she can be placed on a mission with him. She is to act the part of a serving girl to seven vampires of whom her mentor states are evil. They seek Carden McCloud captured and most likely tortured by these malevolent bloodsuckers. Drew finds the rescue target and gives him her blood. When Alcantara and McCloud meet, Drew realizes they are enemies, which has her wondering why her mentor lied and who the wicked vampire is.

The latest Watchers urban fantasy is an enthralling, twisting thriller in which readers will appreciate the spellbinding in depth look at a vampire island community inside the wonderful world of the Wolff. Since escaping the Isle of Night is more difficult than getting off Alcatraz, Acari accept their role as gladiator students. Sanctioned fights between each other leave some dead; only the best live through the grueling ordeal their instructors call training. Drew is terrific as she completes the mission but learns a lesson to not trust anyone especially vampires as delineating the good, the bad and the ugly is impossible until it is too late. Harriet Klausner

Crucible of Empire
Eric Flint and K.D. Wentworth
Baen, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451638042

A few years ago years ago the Jao invaders conquered the Earth (see The Course of Empire). The two species began forging a united kochan clan. Former resistance fighter Gabriel Tully commands Baker Company whose prime mission is to negotiate a peace between his former resistance allies and the Jao. He attends a briefing concerning the NGC 7293 nebula where three Krant vessels investigated strange data; they encountered hostility with the giant arachnid Ekhat species which ended with the enemy destroyed but the Krant ships not in much better shape.

Terra Governor Aille and Preceptor Ronz assign the Lexington to take Jao and humans to the sector where the Ekhat has violently surfaced and a third race was involved in the recent battle. Jao Captain Danner krinnu ava Terra commands the ship; but she is not in charge of the mission. Instead Wrot krinnu ava Terra runs the mission with Caitlin Kralik as the diplomat to deal with the unknown race and Tully and his unit enhanced by the Krant survivors provide military support against the Ekhat. His team destroys four Ekhat ships with a surviving vessel crippled in orbit around a star; only to learn the Lleix who the Jao assaulted in a previous encounter are on board.

As with the first science fiction “Empire” thriller, the sequel focuses on the species with a deep look at the Jao (especially on board the Lexington) and somewhat the Ekhat. The storyline also introduces a fourth sentient race with its own shtick. Although there is some reiterative commentary that slows down the outer space encounters, fans will enjoy traveling on the Lexington as the combined Jao-human crew go into combat and diplomacy. Harriet Klausner

The Ritual
Adam Nevill
St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 14 2012, $15.99
ISBN: 9780312641849

When they roomed in Birmingham while attending the university Luke, Phil, Dom and Hutch were the four musketeers as best buddies. After graduating they went their separate ways with three of the BFFs married as Luke is only one of them still single. The four agree to unite on a camping trip north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden to get away from their respective personal lives.

However, it didn’t take long to realize how out of shape Phil and Dom have become as the foursome trek on their three day hike though Luke and Hutch still smoke. The weather is cold and wet making the walk through the wilderness that much more difficult especially when they take a shortcut that fails to find the river, but instead the dead eerily hanging from a tree. The bickering and resentment become palatable as anger at each other and their miserable situation overtly explodes. They find shelter of sorts from the harsh environment in a cottage containing bizarre, frightening ancient-looking items. None of them yet comprehend the predator that stalks them may be just coming home.

Think of Deliverance and an adult coming of age Lord of the Flies in a stark setting to comprehend this exhilarating thriller. The storyline told by Luke captures the reader from opening line as Adam Nevill paints a harsh environment that sets the tone for what follows. The protagonists possess diverse personalities and different tsuris, but it is their reactions to the evil that hunts them which makes for a tense horror tale. Harriet Klausner

The Anatomy of Ghosts
Andrew Taylor
Hyperion, Jan 17 2012, $15.99
ISBN: 9781401310738

In 1786, Tim Turdman finds the body of young Georgie Holdsworth, who drowned in the Thames. His father John the bookseller is despondent but conceals his grief from his wife Maria whose depression frightens her spouse but is understandable as she helplessly watched her son drown in the river. She insists she speaks to her deceased offspring with the help of a medium. A fire destroys the bookstore that contains John’s investment leaving him broke. Angry and grieving John authors a book to prove to Maria that she cannot communicate with Georgie and her channel is a con artist. His effort leads to Maria committing suicide by jumping into the Thames near where she last saw her child.

Lady Anne Oldershaw hires a depressed John to catalog her late husband's library that she is bequeathing to Cambridge University. Her son Frank, a Jerusalem College student, has a nervous breakdown following his assertion that he saw the ghost of murdered Sylvia Whichcote. Lady Anne asks John, as a paranormal fraud expert, to help her son realize how inane his assertion is. John knows first he must learn what the lad saw as he struggles through the nasty Holy Ghost Club and their Master Dr. Carbury only to find his haunting mission changed.

This is a great late Georgian thriller that will keep the audience wondering whether to believe in ghosts or something more sinisterly human. The storyline starts melancholy in the opening chapters, but changes tone when the bookseller comes to Cambridge as he gets involved with a murder mystery that has him reconsidering his contention that ghosts are delusions of the parasitic relationship between the desperate and the amoral who take advantage of these depressed souls. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Moody Blues

It was a fantastic concert. Jim and I would see them again tonight if we could. It's hard to realize that it was 45 years ago that DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED was released from this line up of The Moodys. The original lineup did the classic British Invasion hit "Go Now" and members changed and they started in a new direction with one of the first concept albums released featuring a symphony orchestra as backup.

They performed hits and classic songs from their full catalog and thrilled the audience that while mostly older folks, there was a good showing from the younger generation as well. A father and his ten/twelve year old son were sitting in front of us and both enjoyed it.

John Lodge congratulated those who "were there in the 60s and now are in your 60s".

Graeme Edge said he was 25 when they recorded DAYS OF FUTURE PAST and he was now 70 but he danced around like he was still 25. He said "Back then his hair was brown, his teeth were white and the two finger salute meant Peace. Now his hair was white, his teeth were brown and the two fingered salute meant Viagra. So it is still sex, drugs and rock and roll."

If you get the chance, see The Moody Blues before they quit touring. It's a once in a lifetime experience.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Moody Blues

Going to the Fabulous Fox tonight to see The Moody Blues. Concert review tomorrow.

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Husband Store

The Husband Store

A store that sells new husbands has opened in New York City, where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates:

You may visit this store ONLY ONCE!

There are six floors and the value of the products increase as the shopper ascends the flights. The shopper may choose any item from a particular floor, or may choose to go up to the next floor, but you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to The Husband Store to find a husband. On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1- These men Have Jobs

She is intrigued, but continues to the second floor, where the sign reads:

Floor 2- These men Have Jobs and Love Kids.

'That's nice,' she thinks, 'but I want more.' So she continues upward.

The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, and are Extremely Good Looking.

'Wow,' she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 4- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Good Looking and Help With Housework.

'Oh, mercy me!' she exclaims, 'I can hardly stand it!'

Still, she goes to the fifth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 5- These men Have Jobs, Love Kids, are Drop-dead Gorgeous, Help with Housework, and Have a Strong Romantic Streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor, where the sign

Floor 6- You are visitor 31,456,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.

Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store.

PLEASE NOTE: To avoid gender bias charges, the store's owner opened a New Wives store just across the street.

The first floor has wives that love sex.

The second floor has wives that love sex and have money.

The third floor has wives that love sex, have money and like beer.

The fourth, fifth and sixth floors have never been visited.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Love This Teacher


Back in September of 2005, on the first day of school, Martha Cothren,
a social studies school teacher at Robinson High School in Little
Rock, did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school,
with the permission of the school superintendent, the principal and the
building supervisor, she removed all of the desks out of her classroom.

When the first period kids entered the room they discovered that there
were no desks.

'Ms. Cothren, where're our desks?'

She replied, 'You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn the right to

sit at a desk.'

They thought, 'Well, maybe it's our grades.'

'No,' she said.

'Maybe it's our behavior.'

She told them, 'No, it's not even your behavior.'

And so, they came and went, the first period, second
period, third period. Still no desks in the classroom.

By early afternoon television news crews had started
gathering in Ms. Cothren's classroom to report about this crazy teacher
who had taken all the desks out of her room.

The final period of the day came and as the puzzled students found
seats on the floor of the deskless classroom, Martha Cothren said,
'Throughout the day no one has been able to tell me just what he or
she has done to earn the right to sit at the desks that are ordinarily found
in this classroom. Now I am going to tell you.'

At this point, Martha Cothren went over to the door of her classroom and
opened it.

Twenty-seven (27) U.S. Veterans, all in uniforms, walked into that
classroom, each one carrying a school desk. The Vets began
placing the school desks in rows, and then they would walk over and stand
alongside the wall. By the time the last soldier had set the final desk
in place those kids started to understand, perhaps for the first time in
their lives, just how the right to sit at those desks had been earned..

Martha said, 'You didn't earn the right to sit at these desks. These
heroes did it for you. They placed the desks here for you. Now,
it's up to you to sit in them. It is your responsibility to learn, to be
good students, to be good citizens. They paid the price so that you
could have the freedom to get an education. Don't ever forget it.'

By the way, this is a true story. And this teacher was awarded
Teacher of the Year for the state of Arkansas in 2006.

Please consider passing this along so others won't forget either
that the freedoms we have in this great country were earned by U. S.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Star Wars and Fantasy Reviews

Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
Ryder Wyndham, Chris Reiff (illustrator) and Chris Trevas (illustrator)
Lucasbooks, Jan 31 2012, $20.00
ISBN: 9780345533043

The title is somewhat misleading as this owner’s manual focuses on the Corellian Engineering Corporation’s YT-1300 series with the legendary Millennium Falcon being the most famous (the Emperor says infamous) vessel having a major chapter. Besides the brief history of the corporation, the manual goes into depth with diagrams on the various YT-1300 models, a deep look at systems (piloting, propulsion, etc.), controls, weapons, crew facility and other floor plans, and other operations. There is also a section devoted to the modified Millennium Falcon operated by wanted preferably dead smugglers Han Solo a former Imperial pilot and Chewbacca the Wookie.

This is a great fun manual. Ryder Wyndham (see A New Hope: The Life of Luke Skywalker) provides a well written text filled with fascinating details about the model while the photographs and art are incredible as the two Chris’ show their talent and knowledge of Star Wars. Fans of the saga especially the original three New Hope movies will appreciate this entertaining entry as we will feel we are on board and even driving an YT-1300 vessel. Finally unlike politicians who insist ads by their attack Super PAC pals were not approved by them, this super packed manual is approved by Lucasbooks and a reader can see why. Harriet Klausner

How to Be Death
Amber Benson
Ace, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007287

Since her dad’s untimely death thanks to his late oldest daughter (see Death’s Daughter), Calliope Reaper-Jones feels pressure she does not want; as the President and CEO of Death, Inc. with the Board and others making demands on her life. She knows she needs to read How to be Death (A Fully Annotated Guide), but has not gotten around to it. Instead she has depended on her younger brilliant sister Clio and a few of her dad’s best minions to help her as the girl who can make her deadly wishes come true.

Reaper attends the annual Death Dinner and masquerade ball at Haunted Hearts Castle. At the gala, she sees Daniel who she loves but assumes her feelings are unrequited; besides he is busy running Hell while his former boss receives heavenly punishment for his failed coup. Lying on the floor of Cal’s room is Daniel’s date Coy who is beheaded. Former Psychical Bureau of Investigation field agent Edgar Freezay leads the homicide investigation while Callie panics that the guide book she never opened has been stolen; if misused it could mean the extinction of humanity.

This is an entertaining locked castle murder mystery in which the homicide occurs about half way into the storyline. Callie has not matured since inheriting the position (see Serpent’s Storm and Cat’s Claw) as she remains unsure and shallow especially in the pre-murder chapters; in fact she would agree Clio is a better long term choice to become Ms. Death. Freezay takes over the novel with his inquiry. Still fans will enjoy Callie’s chick lit commentary as she struggles to learn How To Be Death; a job she does not want nor feel capable of performing.
Harriet Klausner

Enchanted Again
Robin D. Owens
Luna, Dec 20 2011, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803415

In Denver, genealogist Amber Sarga understands the cost of using her gift as a curse-breaker; every time she deploys her skill she reduces her life span dramatically as she ages. Thus she is wary to deploy her talent.

Friends Conrad Tyne-Cymbler and Rafe Davail visit Amber at her place in Mystic Circle so she can help them break their respective curses though Rafe ridicules the concept of the paranormal. Conrad’s wife Marta left him with their son Dougie and vanished. Based on what his father told him on their only encounter when he next sees his child he will die. In Rafe’s family history, the first born son dies before turning thirty-three. Amber wants to help both, but can’t even use a mirror as she looks ten years older than she is chronologically. She agrees to look into their ancestry to identify the curse and what can be done to stop it. However, she feels sympathy for both cursed men and is attracted to Rafe.

The second book Mystic Circle romantic urban fantasy (see Enchanted No More) is an engaging tale based on the premise that magic costs to the practitioner. This concept is the conflict as Amber faces a moral conundrum with between to do and die young, and not to do and die lonely. Although the romantic relationship between the genealogist and the skeptic feels forced, readers, craving for chocolate brownies, will want to know the outcomes of the curse. Harriet Klausner

Raven Calls
C.E. Murphy
Luna, Feb 21 2012, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803439

Seattle Urban Shaman Joanne Walker loved being a police detective, but balancing her two worlds ended when a werewolf bit her. She quits the force as she knows she cannot quit the mystic realm. Jo scratches a compelling itch that has her leaving behind her former police boss Mike Morrison who she only recently began seeing (see Spirit Dances) to fly to Ireland.

Mike sends Jo’s best friend septuagenarian Gary Muldoon to Dublin to keep her butt out of trouble. They head to the Hills of Tara in County Meah when a woman comes out of nowhere to identify Jo as Siobhan Walkingstick, Walker’s birth name. As the pair climbs the metaphysical Hill of Tara, Jo’s life spins full circle when she learns what the obsession that brought her to ancient magical Eire is all about; the deceased individual, who gave up everything for her, needs rescuing, but first the Shaman must escape the dark power of the Morrígan.

This is a great spin as the heroine has good cause to put on hold, perhaps permanently, her relationship with Mike in order to learn more about her ancestry and battle some nasty adversaries. Thus the spinning stunning storyline returns to its fantasy roots as Jo is in mortal combat with a nasty goddess in a long ago era (there is no Seattle coffee available) as the latest Walker Papers (see Demon Hunts) is a super smart shocker. Harriet Klausner

The Nosferatu Scroll
James Becker
Signet, Feb 7 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451236197

In 1741 Bohemia, Father Bohdan Reznik performs the Last Rites to Princess Eleonora von Schwartzenberg. However these are not the normal Last Rites that the flock has seen. Instead, he has the coffin, which came from Vienna, opened so he can remove her head and sprinkle holy water on the rest of the body. The priest stoically completes the special Last Rites and insures no physical evidence remains that the princess ever existed.

In 2010 divorced couple, police detective Chris Bronson and Angela Lewis the museum conservator, vacation together in Vienna. They are at a tomb containing a badly interred corpse of a woman whose head was sliced off and her mouth containing a brick of sorts. Angela steals an eighteenth century journal written by apparently the victim that the British citizen found near the grave. The writings mention a scroll that the two visitors seek. Others observe and attack the cop and the conservator; while apparently a vampire cult kidnaps women including Angela.

The latest Bronson thriller (see The First Apostle, The Moses Stone and The Messiah Secret) once again deftly blends history with a modern day mystery. The fast-paced storyline focuses on vampires as the skeptical cop and the scientific conservator find themselves one bite away from joining that unmentionable beheaded Princess. Filled with action, a fantastic stunning late twist, and interwoven historical tidbits, fans will enjoy James Becker’s tour of Vienna as Along Comes Bronson hoping to rescue his former wife. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 19, 2012

New Reviews from Barry

TROUBLE ON HIS WINGS, L Ron Hubbard, Galaxy, $9.95, 132 pages, ISBN: 9781592123360, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Johnny Brice is a news photographer and is sent, along with Irish Donnegan – his pilot, to retrieve photographs and film of a disaster at sea as well as take aftermath shots for World News. Normally this is all part of a day’s work, but this time he meets up with a real live jinx that brings him nothing but trouble for the rest of the story.

After obtaining the film and rescuing a girl, he finds that all of his footage is ruined by sea water and the girl seems to be trying to keep hidden from someone. Johnny’s next assignment takes him out West to capture a forest fire that is destroying the countryside. The girl again joins them and true to Johnny calling her the Jinx, it happens again. The plane crashes and the film is destroyed in the fire.

Brice is fired but after filing a verbal report that makes the front page news, he is rehired and sent to catch the Oriental Clipper to do a story on the Chinese ambassador. The Clipper is shot down by a Japanese plane (the story was originally published in 1939), and the group is captured by the Japanese, who also seize their film. After the Ambassador is killed “while trying to escape”, Johnny and his friends manage to escape without the film. Jinxed again.

I’ll leave it up to you to discover the surprising conclusion of the story. This is some of the pulps at their best and this series from Galaxy makes it available to a new generation.

THE CRIMSON BATTLE AXE, Curtis Oddo, 17.99,, 224 pages, ISBN: 9781257381630, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

There’s a lot going on in this book. While it is not your usual/Conan/Elric/Bran barbarian story, there are portions that will remind you of those who come before.

Gnarl is the wielder of THE CRIMSON BATTLE AXE and used it to remove his people from slavery to the humans years ago. Now he is being sought to help the four races of his world to stop the attempts of Dark Lord Nobis to gain control of the Axe and cross the dimensions to rule this world of myth and magic.

The four representatives go to Thelady and ask her to contact Gnarl to help them in their quest. Gnarl must decide whether or not to seek vengeance on those who once enslaved his people or help them find just got all the races.

It’s the classic story of good versus evil with all the twists and turns you expect and some you don’t. Plus how many first novels have a Boris and Julie these days?

A GAME OF THRONES: The Graphic Novel, Volume One, George R.R . Martin, Adapted by Daniel Abraham, Art by Tommy Patterson, $25, Bantam Books, ISBN: 9780440423218, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

The circle is complete. From its beginning as an outstanding novel, to the groundbreaking HBO series, and now as a graphic novel, this phenomenal creation is available in all forms for everyone to collect and enjoy.

While some of the story may move too fast on television, the graphic novel allows you to have long lingering looks at the action and intrigue. Highly recommended.

THE OPENING, Ron Savarese, Home Planet Publishing, $12.95, 217 pages, ISBN: 9780615460765, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

Joe St. John is having a bad year. His investments are faltering, his properties are mortgaged to the hilt, his wife has cancer, he is alienating his children, and the only place he can find solace is at the bottom of a bottle.

His wife convinces him that they go to his hometown and celebrate Christmas with his family. They return home and the weather presents them with the worst snow storm in years. Joe and his brother go to the local pub to meet up with friends’ unseen in years.

Joe ends up being the last one to leave the bar and decides to walk home in the snow. He hears a child’s voice in the storm and goes to save him and ends up falling into a crevice where he has the chance to rediscover the choices he has made that led him to where he is now.

Savarese has written an enlightening novel of spirituality and the choice one must make as to follow the light or not. This is an interesting first novel that will cause you to look at your life with a new light.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fantasy, Swords, Witches and Ghosts

Autumn: Aftermath
David Moody
Dunne Griffin, Mar 12 2012, $14.99
ISBN: 9780312570026

One nanosecond ago everything was fine; a moment later 99% of the human race died; however over the next three months the dead failed to stay dead as they returned as the mindless indead with an innate instinct to kill the 1% of human survivors. Several of the 1% survivors reach the remote island of Cormansey; access exclusively by air ad boat, making this isolated rock zombie free for the fifty-one humans including a pregnant women. They helicopter to Chadwick to obtain needed supplies.

Another of the 1% made it to fortified Cheatham Castle. These twenty-one survivors go to Chadwick for supplies too. The two human groups collide as the castle dwellers believe the islanders are encroaching on their territory of Chadwick. The islanders invite the Chadwick crew to join them on the island as there is strength in numbers. Many want to go but their leaders refuse to give up their power. As tension mounts, the two small pockets of humans seem ready to war with each other instead of allying against the greater threat.

The final Autumn urban fantasy (see Autumn: Disintegration and Autumn: The City) is a great finish to a fabulous zombie thriller. The underlying premise is that those on power obsess with remaining in power at any cost even to their own group’s survival. With a deep look at the human need to dominate or subordinate, readers will relish this entry as only the strong survive by using the weaker as fodder.
Harriet Klausner

The Scar
Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Dyachenko; translated by Elinor Huntington
Tor, Feb 28 2012, $24.99
ISBN: 9780765329936

In Kavarren, being a member of the highly adulated elite guard, Lieutenant Egert gets whatever he desires. He wants Toria who is engaged to Dinar, but that lesser male is no impediment to arrogant Egert as he kills his rival in a duel. Observing the atrocity, the Wanderer defiantly “names” Egert as a bully and forces him into a duel. The Wanderer cuts Egert’s face leaving him with a painful scar; while his arrogance is drained into cowardice.

Fearful, he deserts his regiment, his family and his friends. Egert reaches the city where grieving Toria lives with her father Luayan the mage university dean. Whereas his daughter loathes Dinar’s killer, Luayan provides him shelter. Every time Egert looks at Toria, he feels shame. He needs her forgiveness before he can grant himself the same. Egert soon faces the Servants of Lash; though he prefers flight Toria’s visage makes him stay while a plague ravages the city. Finally Egert senses he will face the judgment of the Wanderer but feels that is easier than the judgment of Toria.

The Scar
is a terrific allegorical second chance at redemption and life sword and sorcery thriller. Character driven by Egert and Toria, the deep storyline focuses on the pair’s lost zest for living following his atrocity. Although the enigmatic Wanderer never quite comes across as to who or what he is (perhaps because this is his second book of a four novel series in which the first entry has not been translated as far as I can tell). Still fans will relish this strong soul saving saga as the prime protagonists must find a way to forgive if they are to save a city under siege. Harriet Klausner

All Things Wicked
Karina Cooper
Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062046932

Juliet Carpenter the witch fell in love with Caleb Leigh but he betrayed her and killed her Coven of the Unbinding witches who treated him as family. Two obsessions keep Juliet going; she needs to know why but even stronger is a need to avenge what he did to her and her “kin”.

One year later Juliet finds Caleb in a seedy motel, just like the demons he runs from always do. Her compulsion to kill him supersedes her desire to know why so she goes after him with a knife, which she plunges into him. Caleb survives but feels overwhelmed by the guilt of the wicked thing he did though his motive was to protect his sibling Cordelia and himself from her coven’s power grabbing sacrifice of them. When adversaries arrive with dire intentions of abducting the girl and killing her ally, Caleb, who still loves his Jules, knows this is the beginning of his last stand to keep his pledge of insuring the witch who owns his wicked heart is safe as long as what is left of his declining brain stays rational.

The third Dark Mission romantic urban fantasy (see Lure of the Wicked and Blood of the Wicked) expands the incredible Cooper universe beyond the New Seattle environs in a stunning coming of age thriller. Fast-paced and filled with action, readers will relish the romance between two people struggling with an inconvenient truth of being in love at a time when both should be in hate (at him). Wickedly dark, Karina Cooper provides a powerful futuristic twisting tale. Harriet Klausner

The Haunting of Maddy Clare
Simone St. James
NAL, Mar 6 2012, $14.00
ISBN: 9780451235688

In 1922 London, ghost researcher Alistair Gelles hires Sarah Piper as his temporary assistant. He explains to her that his permanent assistant Matthew Ryder is visiting his pregnant sister and that the patron Mrs. Clare asks for a female to get the ghost of the late serving girl Maddy, who hung herself, to leave.

Sarah enters the barn alone. She finds the barn on fire. She escapes, but once outside the barn is fine. She tells Alistair and Matthew who arrives what happened. Later she sees the scars on Matthew’s back, but he misunderstands her reaction as he assumes his war injuries horrify her. Instead she thinks he is beautiful. The team learns Maddy arrived battered and mute at the Clare farm when she was twelve. Sarah asks Maddy about her suicide note in which she said “I will kill them.” Later Sarah and Matthew have sex, but afterward he apologizes, which hurts her. The trio enters the barn. Matthew sees Maddy; Sarah senses Maddy is near; and Alistair hears music. Maddy tells Sarah that three men violated her as a little girl and she wants revenge. She orders Sarah to find them and her gravesite. Mrs. Clare smashes an oil lamp causing a fire. Matthew rescues Alistair who thinks he is back in combat. Sarah and Matthew investigate when the first unexplained (except by an avenging ghost) murder occurs.

This is an entertaining Post WWI British haunted barn thriller in which the researchers are fully developed, the ghost seems real, and the townsfolk enhance the enjoyable story line. Although the prime romantic subplot between the two research assistants feels forced and unnecessary, fans will appreciate Simone St. James’s well written early twentieth century ghost story. Harriet Klausner

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Clash of Kings and others

A Clash of Kings
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, Mar 6 2012, $8.99
ISBN: 9780345535429

The comet streaks across the sky of the fractured Seven Kingdoms. A comet the color of blood and flame cuts across the sky. The six prime rivals for the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms interpret the bloody fiery trail to fit their needs.

Once the heir apparent, Stannis believes the comet means the time to attack Westros with sorcery and an army is now. In King's Landing, teenage King Joffery proves a poor abusive monatch leaving his uncle Tyrion the King’s Hand to protect their subjects. In the north Tyrion’s father Tywin battles against Stark and her militia while another son Jaime is a prisoner of war. From the South, Renly needs to eliminate his brother Stannis before he begins his assault on King's Landing. Finally in the distant east, resolute Daenerys leads her Khalhaser dragon horde towards Westros. The various hostilities by rulers against each other turn the Seven Kingdoms into a chaotic lawless land

The second A Game of Thrones fantasy (see A Song of Ice and Fire) is a superb entry in which political and military alliances mean little as ambition to sit on the Iron Throne remains everything for most of the competitors. The innocent are collateral damage as their plight from marauding soldiers and vicious outlaws are meaningless to most of the pretenders. Loaded with action while rotating effortlessly perspectives, the aptly titled A Clash of Kings is a powerful tale. Harriet Klausner

Soul Bound
Mari Mancusi
Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780425245477

Identical twins Sunny and Rayne McDonald have totally opposite desires as one is all sun and the other is all rain. Rayne desperately wants to become a vampire; while Sunny wants to live a normal life. Due to Magnus the vampire biting Sunny instead of Rayne, the “wrong’ twin is changed. Drinking from the Holy Grail returns Sunny to normal. Sunny and Magnus are on the run because they disobeyed a direct order from Pyrus, who plots to control the Vampire Consortium and then the world.

Pyrus hires Slayer Inc. to bring him the treasonous duet. Slayer Inc. assigns Rayne and her boyfriend Jareth to capture Sunny and Magnus to deliver them to the Vampire Consortium. Rayne is distraught as she would do just anything for her sister, but failure to complete the mission means the deaths of all the Blood Coven vampires as well as herself and her boyfriend. Complicating matters for Rayne is when she learns another slayer with a grudge is on the hunt too. Her life turns even more hellish when a god orders her to choose between Sunny and Jareth.

The latest A Blood Coven Vampire urban fantasy (see Blood Ties) continues the bloody darker spin that started when the twins attended Night School in Switzerland. Rayne tells the tale as she faces increasingly impossible dilemmas that shake her inner soul. Her growing maturity (she has come a long way since Boys That Bite and Stake That) shines through the darkness as she struggles with choosing the lesser of two evils. This is a character driven, fast-paced exciting teen urban fantasy. Harriet Klausner

Yves Meynard
Tor, Mar 13 2012, $15.99
ISBN: 9780765330260

Her Uncle told Christine when she was little that her Father was gone. Because of her violent tendencies she began seeing Dr. Almand. He persuaded her into believing her Father was abusive. At seventeen, Christine sees a young man hitting his brakes abruptly seemingly upon noticing her. Quentin of Lydia sends her note to meet him at Telzer Park. She knows who the author is and decides to confront him. Quentin says he searched for her for nine years as the lost Princess and heir to the throne of Chrysanthe. He explains she was kidnapped.

Quentin escorts Christine home. However, she loathes her sire King Edisthen, as she has the thoughts planted in her brain by Almand of her father sexually abusing and abandoning her. Christine also has an enemy lurking nearby; as Evered, who abducted her years ago, plots to take the throne that he believes is rightfully his. He refuses to accept the Law that deposed his father from the throne.

This is a complicated fantasy that philosophically questions what reality is. The fascinating storyline leisurely (and too poetical with so much darkness) peels away the false from the truth. Though none of the cast comes across fully developed as even the protagonist is limited to her flawed “memories”, fans who appreciate a metaphysical psychological thriller will ponder whether the truth is Christine’s implanted recollection since she believes them as being her own. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Urban and Paranormal Fantasies

Shaded Vision
Yasmine Galenorn
Jove, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515150353

On Valentine’s Day, Iris the Finnish house sprite and Bruce the leprechaun prepare to marry as their friends look forward to rejoicing in their happiness. Even Camille D’Artigo is happy for her pal Iris though she still suffers from PTSD after one of her fathers-in-law Hyto the dragon abducted and sexually assaulted his prisoner in order to break her will (see Courting Darkness).

A bomb explodes at the Super Community Center. Camille’s half-sister werecat/werepanther Delilah the Death Maiden (see Harvest Hunting for her last lead) learns Newkirk and the Koyomi coyote shifters have teamed up with sorcerers; while Shadow Wing dispatches one of his most ferocious ruthless leaders. With her two half-sisters (see Camille the witch in Bone Magic for her last lead) family, friends and lovers; Delilah leads the counterattack as danger mounts to a critical state.

The Sisters of the Moon urban fantasy rotates lead between the three D’Artigo sisters with the latest focused predominantly on Delilah. The Otherworld entry is superb in what is one of the great on-going sub-genre sagas. As always the key is how deftly Yasmine Galenorn keeps the personalities of the lead trio and their mates diverse and fascinating. Shaded Vision is a terrific thriller as even in the darkest night a joyful wedding brings a brilliant shiny light. Harriet Klausner

Midnight Enchantment
Anya Bast
Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425245033

In Piefferburg, dedicated Elizabeth Cely Saintjohn the asrai water fae takes her duty to her liege The Summer Queen seriously; ergo she maintains the barrier that contains the fae. Mage Niall Quinn the thief thinks Elizabeth is cruel for not allowing the fae freedom.

Sent by the Shadow Queen of the Black Tower to regain two stolen pieces of the bosca fadbh that the Summer Queen gave to Elizabeth, Niall hunts her, but so far she has frustrated him. He loathes how she toys with him rather than his usual playing with females. Elizabeth finds her persistent pursuer attractive while Niall knows he wants her like no other woman before. Both have missions as they work for rival queens.

The latest Dark Magick romantic urban fantasy (see Wicked Enchantment, Dark Enchantment and Cruel Enchantment) is an entertaining thriller that looks deeply at values, which can be negative as well as positive. The relationship between the protagonists is fun to follow as the duet shares many of the same values. Although the bosca fadbh dominates the storyline, which keep readers somewhat at a distance from the lead rivals, sub-genre fans will appreciate this exciting blast from Anya Bast. Harriet Klausner

Something About Witches
Joey W. Hill
Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425246139

Three years ago witch trainer Ruby Night Divine gave up on Witches-R-Us as she knows how spells can go wrong while she fears the darkness growing inside her like a cancer though she uses a deception spell to conceal it. Instead she left behind Derek Stormwind the Guardian, her witch practice and vanished. Ruby opened up the Arcane Shot gun store.

When she sees the bane of her heart Derek arrive at her shop, she sends Theo the elderly mastiff to “kill” him. Theo obeys as he attacks Derek with his tongue licking the sorcerer’s face. Derek explains he needs her help to train a coven in their fight against a demon and his horde. She agrees to instruct the witches, but also believes Derek has a secret agenda to get back into her bed. He does have another person mission; to learn why she left without a word.

The first Arcane Shot romantic urban fantasy is an engaging second chance at love tale starring a sorcerer who wants his woman back and a witch who wants him too but knows her soul is damned and so will be his if she allowed him back in her life. The storyline is filled with action, but it is the super charged relationship that enchants readers as once again Joey W. Hill casts a spell on her audience. Harriet Klausner

Lair of the Lion
Christine Feehan
Avon, Jan 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062021359

The goal seems simple enough: rescuing her brother. Finding anyone capable of aiding her in his enormous duchy like pelazzo in the Alps is so formidable that everyone tells Isabella Vernaducci to go home. She has heard tales about the Don that strike fear in the hearts of the bravest souls, yet aristocratic Isabella obstinately continues her quest to find the enigmatic, more myth than man, Nicolai DeMarco.

When Isabella locates Nicolai (or perhaps it is more the other way around), she does not see the Don who allegedly controls the beasts to do his dirty work. Instead she sees a man haunted by a curse that the intrepid Isabella is determined to free Nicolai from it. When Nicolai offers to save her sibling on the condition she marry him, Isabella readily agrees as she knows she needs no stipulation to wed the Don. Still as she risks her life to save her tortured beloved, she wonders if she will ever gain his love even if she eliminates the beast that holds his soul.

More than just Christine Feehan fans will enjoy this reprint of a delightful paranormal romance as the rarely used early nineteenth century Alps setting (almost Gothic in nature), the intrepid heroine, and the tortured male protagonist come together in exciting fashion. Though readers will admire and question Isabella's bravery at the same time, the audience will relish her efforts to emancipate the two men she cherishes from their respective "incarcerations". Lair of the Lion is a wonderful novel that readers will appreciate if they set aside the time to luxuriate in a one sitting read. Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Fantasy Titles

The Drowning Girl
Caitlín R. Kiernan
Roc, Mar 6 2012, $16.00
ISBN: 9780451464163

India “Imp” Morgan Phelps would have been shocked if the shrink diagnosed her as an NT; instead labeling her as a schizophrenic which makes sense to her. Imp knows lunacy is like apple pie to her family as far back as she knows. Still meds and the shrink help her pretend she lives a normal life.

Imp is shocked when she sees the model in the 1898 The Drowning Girl painting. Meeting Eva Canning also brings about dreams and memories that cannot be true, but Imp wonders about their source as she fears her mental illness has worsened since meeting Eva. Deciding to learn who Eva is, Imp is further stunned when the woman vanishes. As reality becomes increasingly unstable, the voice amidst the chaos of her brain triggers an obsessive compulsive need to know what truly happened; ergo Imp ponders whether Eva is a ghost warning her but of what or a priestess whose flock died in 1991 in a mass drowning.

This excellent thriller grips the audience with a need to know whether the protagonist is mentally insane or dealing with regressed memories including perhaps generational. Impossible to put aside, The Drowning Girl is a fabulous psychological suspense or fantasy; Caitlín R. Kiernan keeps us guessing until the end. Harriet Klausner

By a Thread
Jennifer Estep
Pocket, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451651768

In Ashland, Pork Pit owner Gin “Spider” Blanco completed the magical hit she has trained for when she assassinated Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who murdered her family when she was a teen (see Spider’s Revenge). With many of the punks seeking instant infamy by killing Spider, and with Gin wanting to spend quality with her long-lost baby sister Ashland police detective Bria Coolidge, she leaves on a vacation from her occupation.

The siblings travel to Blue Marsh beach resort where Bria introduces Gin to her best friend Callie Reyes of the Sea Breeze. Small time felon Pete Proctor and his giant partner Trent warn Callie to sell her establishment to their employer Randall Dekes the vampire before hurricane season causes damage. Pete also harasses Bria before breaking a mirror. When he gloats over hurting Bria before, Spider knocks out Trent and stabs Pete’s hand to the floor before knocking him out. With a sigh Gin knows the vacation is over. Gin’s former lover Blue Marsh police detective Donovan Caine who is also Bria’s fiancé arrives at the Sea Breeze. However, the power hungry vamp covets a new acquisition, Spider’s elemental ice and Stone magic.

The enjoyable sixth Elemental Assassin urban fantasy is the first in the post Mabs era and fans of the series will appreciate the still kick butt heroine flashing her knives though her opponent is much more clever and a more dangerous adversary than her previous opponent was. Action-packed from the moment the vacation ends, Jennifer Estep avoids the sub-genre stereotyping of the heroine and the villain By A Thread based on who has the sharper bite. Harriet Klausner

Oracle’s Moon
Thea Harrison
Berkley, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425246597

Twenty year old college student Grace Andreas has no time to grieve the death of her sister and brother-in-law. With Petra’s demise comes overwhelming responsibility as guardian to her four-year old niece Chloe and nine-month-old nephew Max. if that is not enough, she inherits her sibling’s humongous debt. Finally there is Power of the Oracle of Louisville, which goes from the late Petra to the swamped Grace.

A dispute on her property leads Khalil the demonkind Djinn Prince of House Marid to enter the lives of Grace and her wards. Over her objection, he joins the grieving household. His shapeshifting amuses and distracts the children while his body distracts his hostess. As he calms down the irate Elder Races who loathe Grace’s sassy scorn while she fumbles at deploying her new power, the demonkind and the humankind fall in love.

The latest Elder Races paranormal is a delightful romantic urban fantasy starring an in shock heroine and her demon protector. The storyline is mindful of the first season of The Greatest American Hero as the protagonist struggles with using her new talent, raising her young relatives and with her feelings towards the demonkind. However, the key to this excellent entry and the fabulous predecessors (see Dragon Bound, Storm’s Heart and Serpent’s Kiss) is the Harrison mythos of humans living alongside seven otherworldly species comes across as real. Harriet Klausner

Dream Shadows
Ingrid Weaver
Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780425246122

For fifteen weeks millionaire Elizabeth Graye has lied in a coma. Mrs. Harrison directed caretakers to play Mozart and Beethoven as a stimulus. However, Norma also plays Country music for her comatose patient and reads extracts from her romance novels.

Thus Norma plays the sad sound of musician Rick Denning, which reaches through the fog of Elizabeth’s rewiring brain. They begin meeting in different time periods when he is asleep. When his Elizabeth appears in his daydreams, Rick obsessively decides to search for the woman he never met in person but has fallen in love with her. As he encourages her to come to him, however, someone else has other plans for the rich “bi*ch” and no country singer is going to stand in the way.

Dream Shadows is a fascinating romantic suspense with a paranormal element serving as a matchmaker. Because of the diverse eras, the storyline feels somewhat repetitive in an entertaining Ground Hog Day way. Mindful of Jack Finney’s classic Time And Again, fans will enjoy love on a different plane while the body lies comatose and a killer waits to finish the job. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Interesting Titles

Shadow Heir
Richelle Mead
Zebra, Jan 1 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420111804

Ohio seems like the perfect hell for hybrid Shaman Eugenie Markham to raise her unborn twins in a safe environ away from Otherworld assassins and the prophecy. However, her hiding in the humid heat of the Buckeye state leaves her unaware of the crisis in the Otherworld. A spell is turning the realm into a blighted landscape with extinction a real possibility.

Fairy King Dorian’s support, who deceived Eugenie re who was to be Iron-Crowned, is trying every desperate measure to prevent what increasingly seems inevitable. He knows the only hope is for him, Eugenie, Kiyo the shifter and others, including beings who want the twins dead, to unite in trust, but she is in the mortal realm looking forward to being a single mom with no desire to cross over.

The final Dark Swan urban fantasy (see Storm Born, Thorn Queen and Iron-Crowned) is a great surprising finish to the strong saga. Fast-paced, Eugenie faces a moral dilemma that leaves her choosing between two terrible choices that no parent ever should have to face. Readers will appreciate Richelle Mead’s strong end to a powerful series. Harriet Klausner

Erica O'Rourke
K Teen/Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758267054

In Chicago, St. Brigid’s High School senior, Maura “Mo” Fitzgerald witnessed the mob take out her BFF Verity; her thirst for vengeance led mousy Mo into a world of magic, prophecy and two mysterious hunks Colin and Luc (see Torn). Her need to avenge Verity’s murder changes to protecting those she loves but she fears she will never be freed from the Arcs, her mobster uncle, the Quartered and the Seraphim has all seem to have her in their crosshairs.

In one month since the homicide that changed her life occurred, Mo has a major dilemma as she has no one to take to the Sadie Hawkins dance. However wanting to be left alone to attend school and work at the diner is not an option; as the Chicago mob never lets witnesses live and the magic with the surges since the Torrent never lets practitioners especially one embroiled in the ancient prophecy quit. A grieving raging Constance is now the magical battleground.

The second Mo urban fantasy is a terrific thriller with a profound morality question cutting across the entertaining storyline as the resultant heroine deals with the unintended nasty consequences of her seemingly pristine actions in Torn. Action-packed, it is the second and third order effects that will have the enthralled audience wondering if the end justifies the mean even when that mean goes against your positive values. Tangled is a wonderful teenage thriller as Mo just wants to choose between secretive Colin and enigmatic Luc, but then fate may have chosen Billy for her. Harriet Klausner

The Fear Index
Robert Harris
Knopf, Jan 31 2012, $25.95
ISBN: 9780307957931

When the Feds defunded the Texas super collider, Dr. Alex Hoffmann obtains a position as a physicist at CERN in Switzerland. When he suffers a nervous breakdown, he leaves Geneva. Alex takes with him VIXAL-4, an independent computer with the uncanny ability to self-teach at a speed that humans cannot comprehend.

To finance his research and his machine, Alex sets up a hedge fund run by VIXAL. The algorithm VIXAL uses takes the pulse of investors leading to four years of incredible growth while the stock markets around the world collapse. However, as the creator loses control of his creation, someone inside the firm diligently works on making Hoffman look insane to his staff.

This is an enjoyable modernization of Frankenstein with a touch of Harry Kellerman inside of a contemporary convergence of physics, computers and international finance. The storyline is fast-paced with a terrific late twist although none of the cast including VIXAL is likable as all seem morally bankrupt. With a two prong cautionary plot, Robert Harris provides a fascinating timely thriller as science without passion is dangerous while even more lethal is finance void of ethics and scruples when profit is the feral god. Harriet Klausner

Cayla Kluver
Harlequin Teen, Feb 28 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780373210435

Her father King Adrik of Hytanica forced his daughter Alera to marry hedonistic Lord Steldor, son of the Captain of the King's Guards Lord Cannan. Once they wedded, Adrik removes the crown from his head, places it on the new monarch King Steldor and vows allegiance to his replacement. However, Alera does not want her spouse and refuses to consummate their marriage as she loves Narian of her country’s enemy Cokyri.

The Overlord of Cokyri uses his mystic abilities and the hostage of a woman Narian cares about to force him to betray Hytanica where he was treated well. Narian is to lead the invasion that will end the long running hot and cold Legacy war with Cokyri victorious. When he takes his troops into combat, Alera’s loses what is left of her innocence as she thought her beloved would never commit atrocities against the kingdom that treated him well.

This is an entertaining young adult romantic alternative medieval historical that contains fantasy elements. The irony of the two warring nations are neither remembers what the original dispute was about and the plight of Alera who if she lived in the adversarial kingdom, she would be the ruling Queen and not just the wife of the king. Although it is critical to read Legacy before perusing Allegiance to understand the two kingdoms and their complicated ties that bind them, readers will enjoy this entry as Alera must choose between her love for her country symbolized by the king she loathes, and her love for her enemy symbolized by the Commander she loves. Harriet Klausner

Monday, March 12, 2012


Undone Deeds
Mark Del Franco
Ace, Jan 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9781937007256

A consultant to the Boston Police Department who has risked his life and soul on arcane cases (see Unperfect Souls), druid Connor Grey has no time for bitterness when he is accused of terrorism (see Uncertain Allies) after what happened to the Weird neighborhood. Instead he has much greater issues to contend with as a Fey civil war seems imminent.

He struggles to control the dark mass at the core of his brain and the Faith Stone buried inside his head following his battle with the Elven King. Connor joins essences he does not trust as each has secret agendas and failed attempts to Machiavellian him. Still war brings together strange bedfellows so he unites with Meryl, Eorla Elvendottira and Ceridwen in order to prevent Celtic Queen Maeve from igniting a Fey war with her Teutonic enemies that will leave so many innocent dead.

This is a great entry in a strong urban fantasy saga as the hero (and readers) learns what the mass is and much more. Fast-paced, fans will relish Connor and his allies as they risk their lives to stop a Fey-made catastrophe from happening that will leave so many dead. Harriet Klausner

Mr g
Alan Lightman
Pantheon, Jan 24 2012, $24.95
ISBN: 9780307379993

In the great Void, Mr g wakes up from a nap feeling bored as he has for ages if there was a concept called time here. He decides to create over the objection of his Aunt Penelope in between her snoring. Uncle Deva tells his nephew to be cautions as you get what you wrought. Both are baffled with Mr g as they share the same snooze.

Mr g creates time and space, which evolves into the first of many universes. However, one thing remains constant Mr g remains bored. Belhor accompanied by his sycophant beast Baphomet challenges Mr g on the concept of the multiverses being good only; insisting that is tedious and incomplete. Furthermore Belhor demands Mr g not only allow for evil, he allows free will to let the creation experiment develop without miraculous intervention.

This intriguing novella is a passive philosophical treatise on the mutual inclusion of scientific creationism theory. The story line is slow and lacks any major tension, but provides a fascinating Genesis premise. There are unanswered questions for instance, did Mr G create the Void as he has the universe and where did Mr G come from as there is no mention of parents but he has relatives. Still fans who appreciate something different will want to read how Mr g using the Belhor’s devilish feedback created the universe. Harriet Klausner

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Two Recommended Books

THE NEMESIS OF NIGHT, Adam Niswander, Hippocampus press, $20, 344 pages ISBN: 9780984638642, reviewed by Jim Brock.

This is the fifth novel in Adam Niswander’s wondrous Shaman Cycle that began with THE CHARM and followed by THE SERPENT SLAYERS, THE HOUND HUNTERS and THE WAR OF THE WHISPERERS (available from Hippocampus Press). Each of these novels feature some or all of the Shamans of the Twelve Southeastern US Native American tribes as they battle, with a growing number of white officials, against forces in service to the Great Olde Ones. These are the ancient gods of Lovecraft whose plans are ranged against the collective powers of the Shamans.

THE NEMESIS OF NIGHT is a race known as The Lieuw. The Lieuw are black, furry creatures with glowing red eyes – underground dwelling shapeshifters to whom sunlight is deadly. The Lieuw are also a collective mind and use their powers to control and replace humans in positions of power – beginning with the governor of Niswander’s Arizona – in order to conquer humanity for their masters.

Over the course of the Shaman Cycle, some characters have been lost and new ones introduced. THE NEMESIS OF NIGHT brings into greater focus the enormity of the foes the Shamans ultimately face and the fact that this will be a timeless struggle that will necessitate a steady infusion of new blood into the fight. Some of that new blood enters in this book; both from the ranks of the twelve tribes and also from the thirteenth tribe, the white man, where the reality of the fight is becoming more widely known and believable.

Adam Niswander has not only entertained me for years with this wonderfully supernatural series and its coupling with Native American Lore, but his use of that setting reinforced my interest in Native American ways and help point me to the Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee novels of Tony Hillerman, the Ella Clah novels of David and Aimee Thurlo, and the Charlie Moon/Dasiy Perilka novels of James Doss. Pick up the book of the Shaman Cycle and see where Niswander can lead you.

THE BACK OF BEYOND: New Stories, Alan Peter Ryan, Cemetery Dance, $35, 185 pages, ISBN: 9781587672477, reviewed by Jim Brock.

THE BACK OF BEYOND is my first encounter with Alan Peter Ryan and, frankly, it was a much more pleasing encounter than some of those his characters have in these four stories.

“Sexual Exploration is a Crime” – A lonely American goes to Brazil where he has been told some cash and some generous treatment will score him a girlfriend who will go to great lengths to please and … keep on pleasing.

“The Winter’s Tale” – This story paints a truly horrifying picture using only the tools of oppressive winter weather and loneliness and fear.

“Starvation Valley” – A father and son take a road trip with a short stopover in some kind of Twilight Zone though the ultimate zone is one of alienation.

“Mountain Man” – once again loneliness plays a part but this story has a more overtly frightening and violent aspect than the others.

Ryan has a truly gifted way with words and these stories read so that you almost feel you are living them. I came away from THE BACK OF BEYOND feeling an immense sadness for the plight of his characters in more respects than a concern for their safety. I very highly recommend this book.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter

Since I’ve been around for a long time, I’ve got a lot of movies under my belt and a lot of expectations for the films coming out today; especially, the ones based on my favorite books from my childhood.

I saw War of the Worlds, When Worlds Collide and Forbidden Planet on their first runs and watched with wide eyed wonder (sometimes in the spaces between the seat backs) as the scenes came to life on the big screen. Seldom was I disappointed and I always wanted to see them more than once.

In my adult life, George Lucas and Stephen Spielberg have taken my memories of the old pulps, The Republic Serials, and a lot of my early reading and brought it to life and show a new generation about the sense of wonder I and others grew up with.

The filmmakers have taken the images out of my mind and put them up on the screen for everyone to share. It was hard to convince some people how great things were unless they shared your vision or your reading habits.

Today, I had a marvelous experience in a movie theatre. I was transported back to the 1950s on a Saturday afternoon at the fifteen cent matinee.

When I first read A Princess of Mars and was transported from Jasoom to Barsoom for the very first time, I had a very strong image in my mind. Over the years that image stayed true to the first images I created in my mind’s eye. Even after seeing the marvelous art by Frank Frazetta, Joe Jusko, Richard Corben and others, the image remained clear in my mind.

Today, I saw the ornithopters, the tharks, the City of Helium, and the beautiful Dejah Thoris. They all exceeded the visions I have been harboring for over 50 years. I am thankful to all involved for bringing this vision to fruition and doing so in such a grand manor.

If you go to see this movie, and I hope you do, many, many times; go in with no expectations beyond being entertained. Don’t try to compare it to other movies – they were more than likely influenced by Burroughs and his writing.

This is also the first modern 3D movie that I have enjoyed in that everything was in focus and the screen was bright. So cudos go to the technical team for doing a gret job there.

Walking out of the theatre, I was ready to go back in and watch it again. I will, just not today.

Thanks to everyone involved in this project. You have fulfilled the dreams of a young boy and made an old man cry. That’s quite an accomplishment.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Riley Blackthorne Returns

Jana Oliver
St. Martin's Griffin, Mar 27 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312614805

In 2018 seventeen year old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne struggles with abnormal teen angst thanks in part to her former boyfriend Simon; whose life she saved in a deal made in heaven and in gratitude he informed the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she made a pact with Hell. They are coming for her and she knows they kill first before asking questions. Riley has made a promise to Lucifer and continues her quest to save her father's body and soul. Her friend Beck remains irate with her and has more reason besides a Fallen Angel when the Demon Hunters take him hostage.

However, as she attends school in Atlanta, Riley also realizes something is not right. Demons, eternal solo acts, are conducting joint operations like a precise Special Forces unit. Worse - they don’t die. Riley fears she knows who the puppeteer is; if she is right the final war between Heaven and Hell on battlefield earth is near.

Jana Oliver's third super young adult Demon Trappers urban fantasy (see The Demon Trapper's Daughter and Soul Thief) is an exhilarating thriller starring a delightful heroine. The storyline is fast-paced as Riley deals with the paranormal kitchen sink while also trying to enjoy high school. Although Beck’s chauvinistic double standard seems anachronistic inane, fans will relish Riley’s school days in which she matriculates in demon trapping and saving the world. Harriet Klausner

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Smattering of Reviews

The Wolf Gift
Anne Rice
Knopf, Feb 14 2012, $26.95
ISBN: 9780307595119

San Francisco Observer reporter twentyish Reuben comes from a privileged heritage filled with a stately mansion. His editor sends him to interview elegant and exotic late thirtyish Marchent Nideck who desperately wants to sell the estate in Mendocino County she inherited from her great Uncle Felix who vanished two decades but only now is declared legally dead. Used to Russian and Nob Hills, he still finds the isolated mansion, four hours from San Francisco and miles even from the village of Nideck, incredibly beautiful, nicer than any home he has ever seen before. Reuben feels an obsession to know the recent tragic history of Nideck Mansion. Though he has a girlfriend Celeste in the city, Reuben and Marchent make love.

When he awakens from a nap, Reuben hears Marchent scream. He races to the noise only to be attacked by two men; one cuts him with a knife and a ferocious dog bites him. As he thinks he is dying, first responders arrive, but the intruders are gone and his hostess is dead. A few weeks later, a still traumatized Reuben begins displaying strange physical and mental changes. He fears what he has become, but seeks similar beasts to mentor him.

This is an entertaining Wolf-man urban fantasy starring a beleaguered protagonist who loses his innocence with the assault. The storyline is fast-paced as the hero changes in a sort of horror coming of age theme. Although longtime fans will see parallels to the good and evil theme of the Vampire Chronicles and the personality metamorphose similar to Jack Nicholson’s middle-aged Will Randall in Wolf, readers will appreciate Anne Rice latest horror thriller. Harriet Klausner

Spellbound Falls
Janet Chapman
Jove, Feb 28 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780515150360

Mother of eight year old Sophie, thirtyish Widow Olivia Baldwin and her Inglenook Camp counselor twentyish Mark Brier are at elderly widower Ezra’s trading post. Olivia hopes to buy Inglenook from her mother-in-law Eileen although she prefers to hide and run ever since her mom died when she was four and her dad stopped seeing her soon after. Mark assaults Olivia, but camp guest Max Oceanus intercedes. Max was unaware he sired his six year old son Henry until the child’s mom died two months ago; at the camp he plans for them to get to know each other.

Max thinks Olivia will provide him a pearl of wisdom on raising a child. She tells him he needs to understand Henry and they journey as a team. Their kids want the parents to date, but wise Sophie reflects that everyone eligible in Spellbound Falls is afraid of the ghost of Olivia’s late spouse Keith. Ironically Olivia hates Keith who failed to tell his parents they were divorcing when he got killed in combat. Over parenting lessons, the teacher and the student fall in love though she has childhood fears and he family issues keeping them apart. Additionally she, her daughter and her “guardian” Ezra recognize strange unexplainable behavior from his father and so that has her choosing flight.

The protagonists and the ensemble support cast are fully developed in this engaging romantic urban fantasy. The otherworldly elements blend smoothly with modern technology to bring about a fascinating environment that will turn even more uniquely. Although the storyline is thin and the children are too precocious, readers will enjoy learning just who Mr. Oceanus is and look forward to more adventures with the lead couple’s extended families (especially his). Harriet Klausner

Rob Thurman
Roc, Mar 6 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451464446

After killing the monstrous Auphe race (see Blackout) who believed they belonged at the top of the food chain, half human/half Auphe Cal Leandros assumes his monstrous problems are gone. He is unaware that another hybrid beast lives and comes to him with a special purpose in mind. His brother Niko has family issues when his biological father, whom he never saw before, arrives in town to get help locating and disabling the “burden” in order for the siblings to return it to the Voyash Clan. The brother have no time for him as thy host a party for the Puck race (to include pal Goodfellow) who as Cupid look a-likes have lived for hundreds of thousands of years.They need a census to determine how man Pucks need to procreate.

Cal gatess Niko’s father to Central Park and after the gala, the burden JLanus the mechanical sentience being crosses through a gate and tries to kill anyone with Voyash blood. Another gate opens enabling Grimm to cross over to tell Cal he wants to join forces with him to get rid of the human race; he wants Cal to mate with a succabae so the progeny will one day take over the human world. To defeat his insane peer, Cal fights a mad god, several Cyclops and other creatures in an attempt to neutralize the Grimm.

The latest Cal and Niko dark urban fantasy (see Roadkill) is a fascinating entry that focuses on Cal who once again proves he is more human than Auphe as the heart of the series and this tale remains the powerful sibling relationship. Adding to the fun of Doubletake is meeting Niko’s scandalous biological father who is an absentee dad until he needs his son’s brother. The aurhor. Rob Thurmond provides another strong tale in a great saga. Harriet Klausner

Mass Effect: Conception
William Dietz
Del Rey, Jan 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 978-0345520739

The Reapers starships have entered the galaxy where earthlings have joined other alien sentient races mostly in harmony (see Drew Karpyshyn entries - Retribution; Ascension; and Revelation). As they have done for every fifty millennia these bellicose outsiders have come with one purpose in mind; “harvesting” the organic.

Earthlings and their allies have tried several ploys with some success at the immense collateral cost to the innocent in order to prevent extinction. Former Navy admiral David Anderson and his partner ex Council Director Kahlee Sanders have proof the Reaper threat is genuine, but the Council members refuse to accept extinction is a viable event. While the leaders remain in denial, The Illusive Man, head of top secret military unit Cerberus, learns the pair knows too much about his operation. They must die. However, the beleaguered couple meets Gillian Grayson, who suffered hideous experiments that have left her with incredible power. When she learns the Illusive Man killed her father Paul, she obsesses with a bone marrow deep need to execute him.

As with Mr. Karpyshyn’s entries, this exciting military-political science fiction taled, based on the Mass Effect game, contains strong timely moral questions. The action-packed storyline asks the audience to ponder when does personal need supersede the greater societal good and whether there are scenarios in which not executing a cold killer who deserves to die is needed to save trillions of lives. Filled with action, fans will relish William Dietz’s first Mass Effect galaxy thriller. Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Repost from Facebook

On the eve of Super Tuesday, I've had an epiphany and I wanted to share it (and see how many unfriend me).

I'm sick and tired of everyone fighting each other in this so called "class warfare" problem that has been created by politicians. We need to drop all of the labels that people use. No more "fill in the blank-American", no more Democrats, Republicans, conservatives or liberals. We need to be individuals. We need to be Americans and fight for this great country and make it the shining beacon it once was.

A lot of us, myself included, have fought wars for this country. Not because we had to, but because of Pride in our country. A lot of folks did not come home and many that did were bruised and broken.

Drop your label, become an AMERICAN and be proud of that one word. It's the only label we need.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Press Release

Silent Voices

by Gary McMahon

Terror returns 27th March (US & Canada)and 12th April (UK)

£7.99 (UK) ISBN 978-1-907992-7-80
$8.99/$10.99 (US & CAN) ISBN 978-1-907992-7-97

Available as an ebook

Gary McMahon returns to the Concrete Grove, the ‘sink estate’ where nightmares are all too real…

Twenty years ago three young boys staggered out of an old building. Missing for a weekend, the boys had no idea of where they’d been and swore they’d been gone for only an hour - yet all knew their lives had been marked by an unimaginable horror.

Now grown up, when one of them returns to the Concrete Grove to see his old friends things once buried begin to claw their way back to the surface and the past is about to catch up with them all…

McMahon’s Concrete Grove series is a spine-tingling contemporary horror trilogy merging ancient horrors with modern themes of deprivation and social despair. Join him in Silent Voices as he returns to a very different kind of ‘broken Britain’.

“…will send your senses reeling as McMahon ramps up the scare factor along the way - 8/10”
– Spooky Reads on Concrete Grove

“…told with skill, beauty and sincerity. Read The Concrete Grove because it deals in horror that cuts deeper than beasts, monsters, zombies and werewolves”
– Read Horror

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Wind Through the Keyhole

THE DARK TOWER: The Wind Through the Keyhole, Stephen King, Donald M. Grant Books, Artist Edition, $78, 336 pages, reviewed by Barry Hunter.

This is a limited edition of 5000 copies signed by the artist, Jae Lee. It is a fetching companion piece to the other Grant editions of this marvelous series that King started writing in 1970. It is issued in a green faux snake skin (or could it be dragon skin?) foil embossed slipcase that blends in well with the other seven volumes.

In this volume, which King calls volume 4.5, Roland and his group must take refuge from a storm and in order to pass the time, Roland tells them a story about his past. While relaying the story, he also tells the story of The Wind Through the Keyhole, a story from The Book of Eld that his mother read to him at bedtime.

Shortly after his mother’s death, he and Jason are dispatched to a town that is being devastated by a “skin-man”, a shapeshifter. The only surviving witness is Bill Streeter, the terrified boy who was able to hide but obtain a clue to the “skin-man’s” identity. Roland tells Bill the story in order to help bolster his courage and calm him as they attempt to identify the shapeshifter.
Roland also fills in some details concerning his mother and the events that led up to her death.

King seems to take on another persona while writing the Dark Tower books. Even though the Mid-World that Roland inhabits seems like a faraway place, the glimpses of our time and always find a way into the story.

I don’t know if King will return to Mid-World and Roland in the near future. One can only hope there are more adventures to be told.

Ordering information is available at A trade edition is due from Scribners.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

New Ebook Available

The most evil man in history. One bullet. Would you have the grit to follow your orders and kill Hitler himself?

With the release of the hotly anticipated third person World War Two shooter Sniper Elite V2 just two months away, Rebellion is to publish a special tie-in ebook.

Sniper Elite V2: Target Hitler
is an exclusive ebook novella from Rebellion’s publishing imprint Abaddon Books.

Written by novelist and the Sniper Elite V2 game writer Scott K. Andrews, the thrilling book ties into the game’s pre-order downloadable content offer, in which players have one chance to kill the leader of the Third Reich before he escapes the ruins of Berlin.

The title will be published on 1st May and will be available for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and through all major e-retailers.

Everyone knows the story of Adolf Hitler's final days – cornered, insane, killing himself in despair as Berlin burned above him.

But this story is based solely on the eyewitness accounts of the people who shared the bunker with him – the people most loyal to the Führer; the people most likely to lie to protect him. The world’s foremost Nazi hunter has never believed the official account; he has spent his life chasing a phantom, convinced that Hitler escaped the bunker.

Now, as he lies on his deathbed, he receives a mysterious visitor; a man who claims to know the true story of Hitler’s death; a man named Karl Fairburn.

Is he just another conspiracy fantasist, or could his tale possibly be true…?

Scott K. Andrews has written three novels for Abaddon – soon to be collected as the School’s Out Forever omnibus in September – as well as episode guides, magazine articles, film and book reviews, comics, and audio plays for Big Finish.

Friday, March 2, 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.

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