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 MorrĂ­gan.

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

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