Friday, November 30, 2012

The Eldritch Conspiracy-Cat Adams

The Eldritch Conspiracy

Cat Adams

Tor, Jan 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9780765328748

Siren Princess Adriana and Rusland King Dahlmar agree to a political marriage of convenience to the delight of their respective families. However, the Guardians of the Faith oppose the merger as their mission is Siren genocide. They have killed several individuals with close ties to the royal bride.

The family enlists Adriana’s cousin hybrid vamp-siren Celia Graves as a bodyguard bridesmaid with the threat from the Guardians growing. Celia proves her value when she prevents an assault on the bride’s wedding party at a bridal salon. Adriana returns home to prevent a coup from occurring while Celia stalks the terrorists and the mage abetting their ethnic cleansing agenda. She also needs to set aside time to find a dress for the wedding.

The latest Blood Singer urban romantic fantasy (see Blood Song, Siren Song, Demon Song, and The Isis Collar) is a superb thriller starring a fabulous soul-searching heroine who wonders where she belongs as a no longer human hybrid. While she ponders her place in one of three societies, the impact of feeling like an outsider on her personal life is negatively immense. Fans will appreciate her latest escapades as she hopes to make it to the royal wedding in a kick butt dress after sending the Guardians and their mage to well-deserved graves.

Harriet Klausner

Heaven To Wudang-Kylie Chan

Heaven To Wudang

Kylie Chan

Harper Voyager, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780062210340

Hong Kong based John Chen is also Xuan Wu the Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens. His Dark Lady Emma Donahue has proven to more than just have his back as she fought at his side and with him missing to defeat the demons of Simon Wong; with the help of Leo the bodyguard she also kept his rebellious teenage hybrid daughter Simone safe after he vanished.

However, neither John nor Emma has time to rest and heal as allies of Wong remains out there as does Kitty Kwok. As Wudang Mountain turns extremely dark, the enemy creates identical replicas to trap and kill ailing Emma, defiant Simone and amnesiac Xuan Wu, who returned home sometimes as a human and as a turtle.

The third Journey to Wudang Chan’s mythological fantasy (see Hell to Heaven and Earth to Hell) is an exciting thriller with plenty of over the top of Wudang Mountain action. The protagonists are solid but display little growth (except for Emma) since their introductions in the previous Dark Heavens trilogy (see Blue Dragon, Red Phoenix and White Tiger); while the antagonists prove to be strong adversaries. At times the poignancy slows down the plot, but fans of the saga will relish Emma’s exhilarating escapades.

Harriet Klausner

The Start of Everything-Emily Winslow

The Start of Everything

Emily Winslow

Delacorte, Jan 8 2013, $26.00

ISBN: 9780385342902

Just outside Cambridge, the decomposed corpse of a female teen comes ashore in the marshes. Recently promoted Police DI Chloe Frohmann and her just off medical leave partner DCI Morris Keene investigate the case. Chloe feels added pressure from other cops for failing to provide back-up to Morris when he was injured during an interview and her superior wants her to report whether Keene is ready for active duty.

At the same time as the two cops struggle to learn who their victim is, the daughter of Cambridge University Mathematics Professor Tobias Oliver, Mathilde, has made it her mission to locate campus people whose mail is undeliverable. She currently searches for a student Katja; unaware of the mess she steps into. Soon all converge on Deeping House.

Emily Winslow’s second Cambridge University police procedural (see The Whole World) is an exciting thriller that rotates perspective between the key players in the past and present. That methodology enhances the reader’s insight into the motives of the cast but also leaves the storyline somewhat disjointed. Still this is a suspenseful tale as the audience will want to know what transpired at Deeping House over the holidays.

Harriet Klausner

Merciless-Lori Armstrong


Lori Armstrong

Touchstone, Jan 8 2013, $15.00

ISBN 9781451625363

Former Army sniper Mercy Gunderson recently became an FBI special agent. Mercy struggles to adjust to the boring training in Rapid City for new law enforcement officials and as a civilian with her love-in ranch boyfriend Eagle River County Sheriff Mason Dawson and being legally recognized as a Minneconjou Sioux tribesman due to her one-fourth blood but not accepted as a member. Adding to her chaos is his tweener son Lex who was exiled to live with them.

Mercy and her partner Shay Turnbull investigate the murder of teenage Arlette Shooting Star, the Eagle River Reservation tribal president’s niece. She was found naked with a staked protruding in her heart. When she challenges tribal leaders and FBI superior officers, Mercy is exiled to researching tribal archives; where she finds cold case evidence of a probable serial killer. Unbeknownst to her, this psychopath targets Mercy as the next vicimt.

The third Mercy Gunderson investigative thriller is a strong entry as the protagonist, used to making her own rules on a case (see Mercy Kill and No Mercy), finds she is hampered by bureaucratic officialdom. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action as the audience anticipates a showdown between a predatory maniac and a diligent law enforcement operative.

Harriet Klausner

Vampire Defense-James D. Bell

Vampire Defense

James D. Bell

Sartoris Literary Group, Nov 9 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9780985885212

In Jackson, Mississippi lawyer John Brooks works ethically and diligently providing the best legal advice to his clients. The court administrator appoints Brooks with his first media-frenzy case; defending Hal “the Butcher of Belhaven” Boyd who is charged with arson and four counts of murder. Boyd tells Brooks his reason for living ended when he killed the creature who destroyed his fiancé; and now he just wants to die.

As the international press comes to Mississippi for the Boyd trial, Brooks files a guilty by reason of insanity plea; as his client claims he killed a vampire. The media and the legal world have a field day ridiculing the “Vampire Defense”while heaping scorn on the dedicated attorney and his staff. Soon threats to drop the case arrive followed by assaults, arson and abductions.

The Vampire Defense is a terrific over the top of Woodall Mountain “paranormal” legal thriller that enthralls the audience with wondering whether the undead live. Fast-paced, fans will widen their definition of good and evil with obsessed individuals willing to do anything to further their agenda. With a double helix climax, fans who appreciate something different will want to read the legal defense of an avenging vampire slayer and cultists seeking their brand of revenge; caught in the crosshairs is Brooks and his team.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Callahan Outlaw’s Twins-Tina Leonard

A Callahan Outlaw’s Twins

Tina Leonard

Harlequin American, Jan 2 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 978-0373754373

Former Navy SEAL Sloan Chacon prefers the life of a loner. His paternal grandfather Chief Running Bear sends him a vague message to travel to New Mexico in order to protect his family and their heritage as represented by the seven large stones. Ignoring his desire to disregard the plea, Sloan heads to the Land of Enchantment in order to safeguard his extended family (including Callahan cousins he never met) and their land.

Kendall Phillips serves as the link between the Callahan and Chacon cousins. She and the lone wolf ex-Navy are attracted to one another, a desire neither wants. When she becomes pregnant carrying his twins, Sloan realizes he wants her and their babies as part of his family. However, it is the abduction attempt of his beloved that has Sloan knowing he loves the petit spitfire.

The latest Callahan enchanting New Mexico ranch romance (see The Cowboy Soldier’s Son) is a terrific entry that expands the original family by introducing cousins. Though somewhat typical of the sub-genre, this fast-paced engaging tale of love hooks contemporary fans from the moment the two obstinate protagonists meet.

Harriet Klausner

Remember Me, Cowboy-CJ Carmichael

Remember Me, Cowboy

CJ Carmichael

Harlequin American, Jan 2 2013, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373754380

In Montana at the Coffee Creek United Church, the bride Winnie Hays worries when the groom Brock Lambert, the best man sibling Corb Lambert and their driver Jackson Stone fail to arrive on time. Winnie’s BFF Laurel Sheridan, who spent quality time with Corb, tries to calm down the panicking bride. Sheriff Savannah Moody arrives at the church sadly to tell the wedding party that Jackson’s SUV hit a moose killing Brock, leaving Corb comatose and the driver injured but mentally devastated.

Two months later, a pregnant Laurel wonders what to do as the father of her baby Corb does not remember her name since he regained consciousness but lost his memory. She considers returning to New York where she has made a life for herself since she left Montana after college; while Corb wants to do right with the mother of his child even if he cannot recognize her. As he courts her their attraction grows until she flees due to her fear of love.

Though amnesia has been used as a plot device frequently, CJ Carmichael deftly deploys it to enhance an emotional second chance at love tale (though the first time around neither was aware of how deep their feelings were). Character driven, readers will remember this powerful Big Sky drama.

Harriet Klausner

Grain of Truth-Zygmunt Miloszewski

Grain of Truth

Zygmunt Miloszewski

Bitter Lemon, Jan 8 2013, $14.99

ISBN: 9781908524027

In 2009 former Warsaw Prosecutor Teodor Szacki knows his unfulfilling affair with reporter Monica Grzelka destroyed his marriage, and left him alone without family in exile in Sandomierz, a provincial city that shuts down at 6 PM. However, he became a local celebrity when he solved the case of a murdered Ukrainian prostitute that led to him breaking up a human-trafficking ring.

An unknown psychopath viciously slashes numerous times the throat of Elzbieta Budnik before dumping her nude body for all passersby to see in a ravine below the city’s medieval walls. Szacki leads the homicide investigation in which the exorbitant number of cuts and draining of the blood imply a crime of ritual passion. Szacki learns a knife used by Jewish butchers is the murder weapon, which has the prosecutor wondering if a religious sacrifice occurred. Additional similar murders occur including Budnik’s spouse and Szacki feels pressure to end the serial ritual killings.

The second Polish State Prosecutor Szacki case (see Entanglement) is a great murder mystery that hooks the audience from start to finish as the whodunit takes center stage but cleverly enhanced by a close look at Szacko’s middle age despair. The terrific storyline contains ties to anti-Semitism dating back to WWII, but leaves the reader pondering until the super climax whether it is a Jew enacting vengeance or a non-Jew using a convenient scapegoat.

Harriet Klausner

Immortal Burden-Paul Lewis

Immortal Burden

Paul Lewis

BlackWyrm, Oct 31 2011, $11.95

ISBN: 9781613181157

Late in the eleventh century Darien the Viking met Rachel when she was a passenger on his ship. They fell in love, but she was already sold to Julian the vampire in exchange for the undead granting immortality to Rachel’s sire Stephen. Julian captured the pair, but Sophia freed them. Darien became a monster to save Rachel, but buried her and his reason for living, a depressing state for an immortal (see Immortal Betrayal).

In 1492 Joshua the first vampire tells Darien he needs his help to kill his father Torin the first werewolf. He tells his tale of nine millennia as one of drinking magical water and slaughtering countless innocents for pleasure and some sustenance until ten thousand years ago Tobias the angel cursed him and his sire. Whereas Joshua heeded the warning, Torin did not. Over the millennia father and son unsuccessfully tried to kill one another. Now the first vampire believes that Darien enhanced by Joshua’s blood can do the deed. In exchange Joshua will bring back to life Rachel whose body he has preserved for centuries with his blood.

This is an exhilarating historical romantic fantasy that expands on the Lewis Immortal mythos. The exciting storyline feels a bit disjoined at first when Joshua tells his autobiography to Darien and his companion Krista. I would have preferred a short opening novella in which readers learn how he became the first vampire followed up by Darien’s adventures to bring his beloved back to him. Still readers will relish Immortal Burden as love never dies even when ultimate evil tries to destroy it. This reviewer additionally suggests Paul Lewis consider an anthology starring the fascinating father and son pair.

Harriet Klausner

Deliver Me From Temptation-Tes Hilaire

Deliver Me From Temptation

Tes Hilaire

Sourcebooks, Dec 4 2012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781402264375

As the only purebred Paladin warrior angel Logan Calhoun sees those he has sworn (to his Father) to protect as weak. Over the ages, Logan has diligently performed his duty in combat against vampires, demons and other similar evil ilk; while through all that time he scorned humans as pathetic creatures easily swayed to the dark side. Currently he is working in the Bronx hunting Ganelon’s demonic army while struggling to overcome crankiness and ennui.

Police Detective Jessica Waters leads the investigation into the murder of a-hole date rapist Thomas Rhodes by a vigilante in the Hunts Point section. Her inquiry leads her to Logan and other Paladins. She realizes the hunk conceals what he knows about the case from her while for the first time he shirks his duty by not erasing her memory of him and the other angels. While he violates for the first time the divine intervention rules, he protects her from a malevolent minion. As the human and the angel fall in love; Logan after so many countless eons finally understands what his Father sees in these helpless losers.

The second Paladin Warriors romantic urban fantasy is a wonderful thriller though it behooves newcomers to read Deliver Me From Darkness first so as to ease the dive into the Hilaire heaven and hell on earth mythos. The storyline is fast-paced from the first encounter between the bored arrogant angel and the dedicated diligent detective. Readers will appreciate love taking down the haughty Paladin.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Da Vinci Deception-Thomas Swan

The Da Vinci Deception

Thomas Swan

Morrow, Nov 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781557049681

Super-egotistic art expert Jonas Kalem has concocted a major con on the art world. He has enlisted four people to help him sell phony da Vinci sketches from what he reported is recently found manuscripts. Jonas blackmails ex-con Curtis Stiehl into forging the works. Retired professor Giorgi Burri will authenticate Stiehl's products. Chemist Eleanor Shepard has been tricked into locating five-century old art material. Finally, Tony Walters will insure no one disobeys Jonas' orders and perform any ugly deeds he requires.

However, the perfect plan unravels almost from the start when the police quickly realize that a da Vinci collection (borrowed by Kalem and his team so as to help fine tune Stiehl's eye) is found to be stolen long before the criminals were ready for its detection. Obstinate Inspector John Oxby and Superintendent Walter Deats of the Scotland Yard Art and Antiques Squad begin the investigation. They follow the fleeing crooks to New York and Lake Como in an effort to insure justice is done.

This reprint of the Da Vinci Deception is an exciting art mystery that happily includes the return of bullheaded John Oxby (see The Cezanne Chase). The story line is crisp and fun to follow, but occasionally bogs down with too much art specific information that can easily be skipped without missing a beat. Fans of the sub-genre will enjoy Thomas Swan's cat and mouse thriller.

Harriet Klausner

The Final Faberge-Thomas Swan

The Final Faberge

Thomas Swan

Morrow, Nov 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781557049698

In 1916 Petrograd, Rasputin picks up the Imperial Easter Egg he commissioned master artisan Peter Carl Faberge to create. Rasputin loves the work and dubs it “The Egg of Eternal Blessing”. He places a near perfect sapphire and diamond inside the egg. Rasputin intends to give the Faberge egg as a present to Czarina Alexandra Feodorovna. That very night, friends kill the enigmatic monk. Nikolai Karsalov stealthily steals the egg.

In the 1990’s, Mike Carson owns several car dealerships. An old family friend from Russia, Sasha Akimov visits Mike and informs him how his father lost Rasputin’s egg in a rigged poker game around the time of the Kennedy assassination. When someone murders Akimov, NYPD detective Alex Tobias investigates. Meanwhile, New Scotland Yard Inspector Jack Oxby takes a leave of absence to accept a job to find the missing Faberge. Jack and Alex meet and connect murder with the egg.

This reprint of The Final Faberge, the third entry in the Oxby art mysteries, is a wonderful tale that takes readers across the globe in a non-stop story line. The intertwining of the two cases strengthens the plot especially when Mr. New York and Mr. London join forces. As with The Da Vinci Deception and The Cezanne Chase, Thomas Swan instills this tale with warm characters, deadly villains, and a fabulous art mystery that will entertain sub-genre readers.

Harriet Klausner

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors: Ann Rule's Crime Files Volume 16

Ann Rule

Pocket, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451648287

In 2009 a blizzard hammers West Valley, City, Utah. During the storm, Susan Powell vanished. Her husband Josh said he assumed she ran off with another man leaving him with their two pre-school sons. Susan’s parents and three sisters insisted this was out of character for her as she always wanted a family. In 2011, a second tragedy strikes the Powell family.

In 2011 at the Spreckels Mansion in Coronado, California, billionaire owner Jonah Shacknai’s son Maxfield falls from a balcony; he is placed in a medical induced coma. Jonah’s girlfriend Rebecca is found hung to death.

These two taut novella-length true crime entries and the seven other shorts affirm that the author still rules the genre. The sixteenth Crime Files lives up to its title of beware of “Fatal Friends, Deadly Neighbors.”

Harriet Klausner

The Cezanne Chase-Thomas Swan

The Cezanne Chase

Thomas Swan

Morrow, Nov 27 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781557049674

In St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum, someone mutilates Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait in a Beret. In London’s National Gallery, someone tosses acid on Paul Cezanne’s Self-Portrait without a Beret. Scotland Yard's Art and Antiques Detective Chief Inspector Jack Oxby investigates the destruction of the Cezanne in the National Gallery only to learn that another work by the great artist owned by private collector Alan Pinkster was destroyed by acid too. This time the director of the Pinkster Gallery in Surry Clarence Boggs died from the toxin used to destroy the third Cezanne.

Shocked like everyone in the art world except perhaps one nefarious patron by the international destruction of the Cezanne masterpieces, affluent New Yorker Edwin Llewellyn worries about the safety of the Cezanne self-portrait he owns. Astrid Haraldsen introduces herself to Llewellyn as the opening gambit for her and her associate Peder Aukrust to destroy Llewellyn’s Cezanne as the original 26 known self-portraits methodically are being destroyed.

This reprint of the first Oxby art mystery is an action-packed globetrotting thriller that will keep readers enthralled from start to finish even as the engaging storyline becomes obvious. Filled with suspense, Thomas Swan paints an intriguing mystery inside of the capitalist world of art.

Harriet Klausner

The Doctor and the Rough Rider-Mike Resnick

The Doctor and the Rough Rider

Mike Resnick

PYR, Dec 4 2012, $17.95

ISBN 9781616146849

In the summer of 1884, suffering from consumption, Doc Holliday expects to die shortly in a Leadville, Colorado sanitarium. Medicine man Geronimo arrives at the sanitarium wanting Doc’s help to protect a visitor from the United States. The Apache explains that Theodore Roosevelt, whom he expected would be one day calling, is heading to Tombstone.

The tribes know Geronimo plans to soon end the spell he created to prevent the United States from crossing the Mississippi. Several tribes oppose the American belief in their manifest destiny and want the barrier to remain. They have created a humongous beastly medicine man War Bonnet to insure United States remains on the other side of the mighty Mississippi. In turn, the invincible War Bonnet hires notorious gunfighter John Wesley Hardin to abet him in killing Roosevelt, Geronimo and any foolish allies they enlist.

The latest Weird West Tale (see The Doctor And The Kid and The Buntline Special) is a delightful steampunk mishmash that is entertaining fun. The action-packed storyline is faster than Hardin or Doc can draw a gun. Readers will appreciate this engaging entry in a continually appealing series.

Harriet Klausner

A Red Sun Also Rises-Mark Hodder

A Red Sun Also Rises

Mark Hodder

PYR, Dec 4 2012, $17.95

ISBN: 9781616146948

The bookworm priest Aiden Fleischer and the social outcast Miss Clarissa Stark the hunchback are transported to the planet Ptallaya of the two yellow suns. The duo meets the indigent sentient species the peaceful Yatsil.

The natives read the mind of Clarissa and create a London from her image of the great earth city. To honor her, the Yatsil add her onto the Council of Magicians; they make Aiden a city guard though he wonders if this is an honorary title as crime never occurs here. That is until the day equivalent to months on their home world finally sets and the evil red sun arises in the sky bringing out the blood gods.

Without a Burton or Swinburne in sight (see Expedition to the Mountains of the Moon), Mark Hodder provides a strong psychological fantasy thriller with a nightmarish version of Victorian London as the base for destruction. The Yatsil are a fascinating race of mimics who use Clarissa’s angry version of her hometown to construct a new London on their orb before morphing into a powerful good and evil confrontation as the two earthlings must look within at their less stellar acts before they can fight the enemy.

Harriet Klausner

The Steam Mole-Dave Freer

The Steam Mole

Dave Freer

PYR, Dec 4 2012, $16.95

ISBN: 9781616146924

Brother to the king of the British-German Empire, Duke Malcolm sends his minion after Clara Calland and her scientist mom because the latter knows how to manufacture ammonia. While Clara’s father lingers in jail in the eastern side of Australia, on the Cuttlefish mother and daughter reach Westralia, a desert part of the continent that the empire prefers to contain not own.

However, the Cuttlefish needs repairs so the Calland duo and the crew are stranded. Whereas the crew obtains work on the underground Steam Moles, Clara and her mother try to persuade the local leadership to buy their manufacturing secret. However, when her mother becomes ill, Clara turns to her boyfriend Tim Barnabas a submariner for help, but he fled due to a racist incident. Meanwhile the nefarious Duke has not given up the pursuit but in fact expanded his plan.

The second Clara Calland alternate historical (see Cuttlefish) is an exciting young adult steampunk thriller starring a brave heroine and a strong support cast in the fully developed Freer world. Although it behooves the audience to read Cuttlefish first to better appreciate what is happening in this realm, fans will relish this entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Anonymity-Janna McMahon


Janna McMahon

Koehler Books, Jan 1 2013, $15.95

ISBN: 9781938467233

Teenager Lorelei arrives in Austin by bus. She heads to the Tumbleweed Street Outreach young adult center where she can get some chow, pick up clothing and even shelter. She enjoys the food and selects some items to wear, but rejects the cot.

Twentyish Emily works as a bartender. When she meets David the reporter investigating the gutter punks who live as an unwanted underbelly of the city, she agrees to be his photographer. Emily meets Lorelei and wants to help the teen. The two women becomes friends, but Emily learns the true meaning of good intentions as every time she tries to get Lorelei off the street, danger surfaces from the teen’s past; Emily also tries to assist other young lost souls by bringing attention to their plight through her unforgiving harsh camera.

This is a deep look at the teen homeless living on the streets of Austin. The insightful storyline rotates perspective mostly between the two women though others like Emily’s mom Barbara take the lead at times. This character driven urban tale driven by a strong cast has readers wondering whether Emily has found her groove with photographing the gutter punks.

Harriet Klausner

Wyoming Bride-Joan Johnston

Wyoming Bride

Joan Johnston

Dell, Jan 1 2013, $7.99

ISBN 9780345527462

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 left the six Wentworth children orphaned. The sextet has lived at the Chicago Institute for Orphaned Children for three years under the abusive control of headmistress Miss Birch. However, the oldest Miranda left as a mail order Texas Bride taking her two youngest siblings (ten years old Nick and four years old Harry) with her to San Antonio and plans to arrange her sisters seventeen years old twins Hannah and Hetty, and sixteen years old Josie to join her.

However, having not heard from Miranda, a desperate Josie arranges for Hannah to become a mail order Wyoming Bride. On the Oregon Trail, Hannah’s new husband McMurtey dies from cholera leaving her pregnant. The Sioux injure Hetty and capture Josie. Rancher Flint Creed finds Hannah trekking for help while her twin lay dying and her other sister is missing. In love with his brother’s fiancée, he proposes to Hannah who accepts though neither mentions love nor imply any passion between them.

The second Wentworth Mail Order Bride historical is a super Reconstruction Era western romance starring two interesting lead characters concealing critical secrets from one another. Action-packed with a secondary romance (Flint’s brother), fans will appreciate Joan Johnston’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

The Scoundrel Takes A Bride-Stefanie Sloane

The Scoundrel Takes A Bride

Stefanie Sloane

Ballantine, Jan 1 2013, $7.99

ISBN: 9780345531155

Over a decade ago, someone murdered Lady Beatrice Afton in Afton Manor in Petworth, Sussex. No one was accused of the homicide.

Over the years, Beatrice’s daughter Lady Sophia never turned to her arranged by her mom betrothed Langdon Bourne for comfort or help with her obsession to find her mom’s killer. Instead she studied criminology so that by 1813 she feels ready to investigate her mom’s homicide. She believes the one person who could assist her with achieving her objective has come home after years abroad amassing a fortune in India. She pleads with Langdon’s brother Nicholas to be there on her investigation. He reluctantly agrees as he obsesses over keeping the woman he has loved seemingly forever safe on their journey of discovery.

The latest rousing Regency Rogues (see The Saint Who Stole My Heart) is a terrific historical romantic mystery made stronger by Langdon being a decent honorable person. The amateur sleuthing is fun to follow as forbidden passion between the daring duet makes their inquiry that much more difficult.

Harriet Klausner

The Blood Gospel-James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

The Blood Gospel

James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell

Morrow, Jan 8 2013, $27.99

ISBN: 9780061991042

In Caesarea, archaeologist Dr. Erin Granger and her team find evidence of a tomb containing hundreds of dead babies buried two millennia ago. She thinks they may have found King Herod’s “Massacre of the Innocents.” In Masada, an earthquake kills hundreds including the parents of Tommy, a child taking chemo due to melanoma; he survives and miraculously his cancer is cured.

Erin, U.S. Army Sergeant Jordan Stone and Father Ruhn Korza explore a tomb concealed for centuries until the earthquake. They find the crucified body of a child who died just over a decade ago. While still inside the tomb, the trio fights for their lives when inhuman beings attack them. Father Ruhn believes the answers can be found in the mystical missing tome allegedly scribed by Christ in his blood. The threesome begins a trek to obtain this holiest of holy books by Christ in order to bring divine sanctification to a secret Vatican order the Sanguines exposed by Rembrandt but ignored by all until now.

The first exciting Order Sanguines Christian horror thriller grips the audience from the moment the tomb in Mount Masada is discovered and keeps that hold until the final sacrament occurs. Readers will enjoy traveling to Germany, Russia and ultimately the Vatican with the protagonists as our guides through a Church with a history of good and bad. Although the storyline is straightforward, The Blood Gospel is a super ride.

Harriet Klausner

The Conjurer's Boy-Michael Raleigh

The Conjurer's Boy

Michael Raleigh

Harvard Square Editions, Nov 1 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9780983321668

Their father had them move five times in six years. However, as the Cuban Missile Crisis is the big news, high school student Thomas Faye learns from his mother that his dad deserted them. Stunned, Thomas wanders around smoking Salem while trying to comprehend why. Eventually he enters a second hand store filled with junk where he meets the owner Arthur Farrell the magician wounded WWII veteran with healing power and angry homeless Meyer the survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto atrocities.

They mentor Thomas who begins to open his eyes to the world few can see as he seeks to understand what normal is and why fate set in motion his trek back in 1962. He begins his solo journey using and discarding roles along the way with his only link being his two spirit guides and a disturbed Rachel.

This profound coming of age low keyed fantasy is an engaging thought provoking tale starring a fascinating lead character who, after meeting his mentors, needs to know why him. With a nod to the higher levels of the expanded Maslow’s Hierarchy, The Conjurer's Boy is a delightful tale of the human need to achieve self-esteem and cognitive awareness, but first one must belong somewhere.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 26, 2012

Jamus' Sorrow-Trevis Powell

Jamus' Sorrow

Trevis Powell

BlackWyrm, Oct 31 2011, $11.95

ISBN: 9781613181188

In the wilderness of the Kingdom of Aldrigal, the Were attacked the coach killing Eldena, wife of the Viscount of Gelbow, Jamus, and the driver Conn. Jamus survived along with Gran the healer and the woodsman, but his companions are injured and unconscious. He pulls the wagon containing his traveling mates as the Were, including a one-armed predator, murder anything in their path as corpses of the violent Quargs, humans and wolves are everywhere.

As Jamus reaches a farm, the Firthian Grand Liaison blitzkrieg consists of Were, infantry, mercenaries and signalers. Led by General Hendrick, this overwhelming force reaches Aldrigal City in incredible time due to the magic of the signalers. Inside the city, activities by signalers abet the invasion. War with the Firthian and the Were dominate the besieged kingdom.

The third Were-War fantasy thriller (see Gran’s Secret and Albrim’s Curse) is a super entry that moves forward on several fronts as war comes to the capital city, Gran worries about her Were grandson Albrim whose special collar to control the beast was removed and the rampage of the Were. Young adult fans of the series will enjoy this action-packed tale as gran continues to face personal dilemmas.

Harriet Klausner

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst-Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Blessed Are Those Who Thirst

Anne Holt; Anne Bruce (translator)

Scribner, Dec 18 2012, $15.00

ISBN 9781451634785

Oslo Detective Inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen hides her relationship with her live-in lover Cecilie from the brass to the consternation of her significant other. At the same time she leads a homicide investigation in which every Saturday night eight digits written in blood on walls in rooms soaked in blood but with no corpses appear in various places in the city.

She and police attorney Håkon Sand struggle to figure out what the numbers represent and whether a serial killer is on a killing spree in Oslo. That is until Sand concludes the numbers are the formal government database assigned to individual foreign immigrants. The pair realizes all are females and missing and to get the numbers implies government insider. Wilhelmsen also works a serial rape case unaware that a victim Kristine and her father have plans to avenge the violent assault.

The latest Wilhelmsen Norwegian police procedural (see 1222 and The Blind Goddess) is a strong investigative thriller that focuses on the resentment towards immigrants. Both cases are strong especially the anti-immigration fervor while the protagonist’s personal life is rocky. Readers will appreciate this deep Norwegian Noir.

Harriet Klausner

The Llama of Death-Betty Webb

The Llama of Death

Betty Webb

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464200663

In Central California, Aster Edwina Gunn assigns her employees Gunn Zoo Zookeeper Theodora “Teddy” Bentley and Alejandro the llama to provide rides for children at the Gunn Landing Renaissance Faire. Neither Teddy nor Alejandro is ecstatic over this demeaning assignment though it is the llama doing the spitting.

At the pen enclosing Alejandro’s rides, someone murders mail order minister Victor Emerson who played the role of Henry VIII at the Faire. Deputy Elvin Dade initially considers arresting the llama until it is pointed out that Alejandro would have had a hard time shooting the arrow into the head of Emerson. Instead he arrests serial wife Caroline Petersen (her surname for now) as the killer; her motive involves two of her myriad of weddings ministered by the late Rev. Teddy knows her mom Caroline, who was performing as Anne Boleyn at the Faire, is not the culprit so she investigates; while her father surprisingly arrives from Costa Rican exile with plans to break out his ex-wife from jail; that is when he is not befriending Aster.

The latest Gunn Zoo amateur sleuth (see The Anteater of Death and The Koala of Death) is an engaging amusing cozy starring a zookeeper, a llama, a dysfunctional family, an incompetent cop and a killer. Fast-paced with interesting insight into zoos and animals wrapped inside of Teddy’s inquiry, fans will enjoy this fun cozy.

Harriet Klausner

Unnatural Habits-Kerry Greenwood

Unnatural Habits

Kerry Greenwood

Poisoned Pen, Jan 1 2013, $24.95

ISBN: 9781464201233

In Melbourne, the Honorable Phryne Fisher and Dr. Elizabeth MacMillan head to the Adventuresses Club when they observe three thugs about to attack a lone female. Phryne gives them a warning they ignore so three Chinese working for her lover Lin Chung beat the hooligans up.

The target is reporter Margaret “Polly” Kettle. She explains that she is investigating a story on three pregnant girls allegedly vanishing from a nursing home after working at the Abbotsford Convent’s Magdalen Laundry. Furthermore the journalist says she told the cops who ignored her plea. She begs Phryne to help, but soon afterward Polly disappears. Phryne makes inquiries finding shocking inhuman conditions.

The latest Phryne Fisher Australian 1920s mystery (see Dead Man’s Chest) is a powerful thriller that uses the real Magdalen Laundry as the base for an investigation into despicable greed ignored or conspiratorially concealed by authorities due to influence peddling. The insightful storyline will shake readers with the premise that the brothels house their female supply in much nicer conditions than the convent’s laundry room filled with pregnant unwed girls as the former is needed in top condition while the latter is being punished for their sins. Readers will appreciate Phryne’s trek into the darkest side of post WWI Melbourne.

Harriet Klausner

Path of Freedom-Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Path of Freedom

Jennifer Hudson Taylor

Abingdon Press, Jan 1 2013, $12.99

ISBN: 9781426752636

When they were children, Bruce Millikan teased Flora Saferight unmercifully. She hated his barbs and was elated when he left their Quaker town.

Bruce is back to Flora’s disgust as she still feels the pain of his unkind words mimicked by others; he regrets what he did to her. Flora and her sister Irene are taking a train to visit their aunt and uncle in Charlottesville. Pastor John wants to use the siblings as cover so that Bruce can escort a runaway slave couple via the Underground Railroad to Pennsylvania; the female is pregnant so Flora’s midwife skills are also needed. Using a quilt as their guide, the journey proves less dangerous than expected except for one near deadly mistake and the effect on the respective hearts of Flora and Bruce.

The latest fabulous Quilts of Love inspirational (see A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee and Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane) is a delightful historical romance starring two beloved enemies who find their souls freed to love by the brave deeds they do together. The quilt guiding their passage on the Underground Railroad enhances a strong tale of to forgive is divine.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Midnight’s Warrior-Donna Grant

Midnight’s Warrior

Donna Grant

St. Martin’s, Nov 27 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780312552596

A decade has passed since Tara Kincaid thought she could rely on Declan Wallace to have her back at a time when her family went to the dark side of druid magic and became Drough. When she realized he betrayed her with his scheme to manipulate her into turning into a Drough, she fled. For the last ten years she has been in hiding in Scotland looking back over her shoulder for deadly Druids and the wicked Warriors.

Now a tour guide, Tara fears that Wallace and his minion have found her. However, she remains ignorant that the Warriors have also located the skittish Tara. Powerful Druid Warrior Ramsey MacDonald is assigned to protect the reluctant Tara who trusts no one. As they fall in love, he knows he owes the truth about his extraordinary hybrid magical skills but fears his beloved will flee into the night at a time when Dark Warriors, Darker Drough and the darkest Druid Declan come for her.

The latest Midnight's Warrior continues the Dark Sword spin off series (see Midnight's Lover and Midnight Masters) with another terrific wicked Wallace entry (see Midnight's Seduction). The protagonists are a fascinating pairing as each is motivated as much by their respective fears as by love; Tara is afraid that love weakens her chance of survival and Ramsey is afraid of deploying his full power. Although the threat by the evil Declan does not seem different from his assault by the lead avengers of Midnight’s Seduction, series fans will relish adventures of Midnight’s Warrior and his reluctant Druid.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Never Love a Lord-Heather Grothaus

Never Love a Lord

Heather Grothaus

Zebra, Dec 312012, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420112443

In 1277, King Edward’s finest fighters lay siege to Fallstowe Castle where he wants captured the castle and its traitorous protector Lady Sybilla Foxe. She knows her side cannot win but loathes giving up to the enemy. The monarch’s soldier in charge of the assault Julian Griffin sends a missive by arrow that almost kills Sybilla who considers suicide rather than surrender. He suggests they negotiate so no one dies today. She answers with a fiery arrow with “you alone.”

Julian knows His Highness expects him to prove Sybilla betrayed the throne, but he is attracted to her beauty, intelligence and mostly her courage. She finds a kindred soul in him and adores his infant child Lucy who he took with him (as well as Murrin her nursemaid) while they speak; still Sybilla believes they have no room to negotiate. However, Sybilla remains ignorant to how much he knows about her family secrets though he wonders about the one she vows to die for rather than reveal and break a deathbed pledge.

The third Foxe Sisters series (see Never Kiss a Stranger and Never Seduce A Scoundrel) is a magnificent medieval romance starring two incredibly developed beloved enemies and a matchmaking baby. The storyline is action-packed from the opening siege and never slows down yet also contains a strong emotional pull. Fans will keep reading in one sitting this fabulous final fable with an obsessive need to know if love can bring together the legendary lady and the loyal Lord.

Harriet Klausner

Saving Gideon-Amy Lillard

Saving Gideon

Amy Lillard

B&H Books, Oct 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433677526

Dallas socialite Avery Ann Hamilton flew to Tulsa and drove a rental to Clover Ridge to surprise her fiancé Jack by telling him she no longer wants to wait a year to marry. She assumes they will go on to Vegas. Spotting the Mercedes she lent to him in a motel parking lot, she finds her beloved Jack with another woman. Heartbroken Avery leaves knowing he wanted her father’s money not her. On the drive back to Tulsa, the rain turns to snow and she crashes.

Gideon Fisher still grieves the deaths of his wife and son as he isolates himself from his caring Amish community; he no longer even attends church. He rescues Avery who crashed near his farm. Taking her to his home, the recluse cannot wait for her to leave, but Annie as he calls her ignores his desire; instead she plans to stay in hiding here while she emotionally heals from another failed relationship. She soon has a greater cause; helping her reluctant host regains his faith in love.

The first Clover Ridge Amish romance is an enjoyable contemporary starring two mentally wounded warriors whose respective faith has been nuked by traumas though his is much more devastating. Although I doubt the hermit would let anyone stay beyond an initial Good Samaritan response, this is a wonderful story of love between an Amish farmer and an Englisher socialite.

Harriet Klausner

True Love at Silver Creek Ranch-Emma Cane

True Love at Silver Creek Ranch

Emma Cane

Avon, Dec 26 2012, $5.99

ISBN: 9780062102294

After leaving the Marines Adam Desantis returns home to Valentine filled with guilt over his final military assignment. His mission in the Colorado town is to spend time with his elderly grandmother though that means being the point of the matchmaking geriatrics staying at the Widows' Boardinghouse with his beloved relative.

Silver Creek Ranch cowgirl Brooke Thalberg knew Adam when he was the high school football star, but stayed a football field away from him. She needs help on her family ranch and though he believes he is making a mistake, Adam volunteers after he rescues her from a fiery barn. As they fall in love, his PTSD from that last fatal combat haunts him while she doubts he has staying power.

The return to Valentine Valley (see A Town Called Valentine) is an engaging Rocky Mountain romance starring two likable protagonists and eccentric senior citizens. Readers will enjoy the second time but first in love relationship fostered by the gregarious guerilla grannies who know best.

Harriet Klausner

Last Kiss Goodnight-Gena Showalter

Last Kiss Goodnight

Gena Showalter

Pocket, Dec 26 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451671599

Michael Black found the three Otherworlder newborns just after their biological parents abandoned them on earth. He arranged for them to grow up with human families while he trained Solomon Judah, John No Last Name and Corbin Blue to be elite black operatives.

The bombing of Black’s office left Black fading and his three adult mentees missing. Evil Gregory Star captures the three Otherworlders. Solo awakens inside a magical cage as a freak attraction on display. The malevolent owner Lukas assigns his abused deaf daughter Vika to take care of the latest animal the Allorian they just purchased from Star as she does all of the captives. Solo recognizes Vika as his though his initial reaction is to kill her due to her carrying out the orders of her brutal father. He soon realizes she does her best to keep the “animals” safe and hopes this Allorian she wants can save her just like she tries to save him.

The opening Otherworld Assassin is a super ultra-dark urban fantasy starring two soulmates trapped in cages as their relationship positively evolves until they recognize that “I am my beloved and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon). With biblical citations like that just mentioned to enhance the sense of something epic going on, fans will appreciate this thriller as the warm romance and the brutal viciousness serve as counter weights to a strong introduction to Gena Showalter’s newest realm.

Harriet Klausner

Blood Winter-Diana Pharaoh Francis

Blood Winter

Diana Pharaoh Francis

Pocket, Dec 26 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451613865

In Horngate, the ice-cold wintry weather makes scarcities of food, water, and heat severe. Desperate townsfolk turn to the only salvation in town, Earth’s Last Stand fundamentalist Preacher Sterling Savage for sustenance whose fiery message to his growing flock as the self-proclaimed Hand of God is to destroy the ungodly magic practitioners.

As the protector of the Horngate coven, Max learns that Savage is a witch whose voice of God is a diabolical demon. Max also concludes she and her allies have no chance against their adversaries unless she risks her life by voluntarily walking into what she knows is a trap to save the world starting in Horngate. The Earth’s Last Stand shows the soul of their captive to everyone including her lover Alexander the Shadowblade warrior as Max fears she may have lost her beloved anchor and with him her hope.

The latest Horngate Witches urban fantasy (see Shadow City, Bitter Night and Crimson Wind) is an exhilarating dark entry starring a dedicated heroine who seems to always be “enslaved” to nasty soulless individuals. Filled with dangerous action, series fans will relish this thriller as Max offers up her life and soul as sacrifices to save people but it is Alexander’s reaction that could cause her to finally give up the good fight.

Harriet Klausner

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Touch of the Demon-Diana Rowland

Touch of the Demon

Diana Rowland

Daw, Dec 31 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 978-0756407759

Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective Kara Gillian is a demon summoner who has a contract with demon Lord Rhyzkahl. However, Rhyzkahl’s apparent rival demon Lord Mzatal summons an uncooperative Kara into the demon realm. Kara expects Rhyzkahl will rescue her, but the Bayou cop is not waiting for that to happen; as she plans to free herself.

While Kara works on her extraction, she also wonders why her abductor wants to end her bond with Rhyzkahl as part of an end game she cannot fathom. She hypothesizes that Mzatal’s objective links with what she knows about FBI agent Ryan Kristoff, but not sure why and how she fits in the demon’s scheme.

The latest Kara Gillian Bayou fantasy (see Mark of the Demon) is a terrific entry that turns the Rowland mythos inside out as the heroine searches for answers to her questions but instead finds betrayal awaits her. Fast-paced, series fans will appreciate this stunning entry though newcomers need to read Sins of the Demon first as that storyline’s cliffhanging climax feeds Touch of the Demon

Harriet Klausner

I’m Not Sam-Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee

I’m Not Sam

Jack Ketchum and Lucky McKee

Cemetery Dance, Dec 31 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781587673535

“I’m Not Sam.” Artist Patrick and forensic pathologist Samantha are a happily married couple deeply in love with one another. Both enjoy their respective work, each is very fond of Zoey the cat and still enjoy love-making after years together. Everything seems perfect in their shared world. In the middle of the night, Patrick awakens to a scream. He finds naked Sam in a corner crying and telling him not to touch her as he hurt her. However her other contention confuses and panics Patrick when his Sam insists she is Lily who knows Zoey but not Patrick while she wants her Teddy liberated from being locked amidst the Barbies. Patrick wants to know what happened to his Sam as the days pass and she continues to act like a young child.

“Who’s Lily?” She awakens knowing something is not right as she has a bandage on her foot though she knows not why, feels wet and sticky, and has two weeks of hair growth on her legs. She wakes up Patrick who calls her Lily. Sam asks him “Who’s Lily?” and

I’m Not Sam is an exciting psychological thriller starring a perfect couple facing their first crisis. Fast-paced but character driven, readers will appreciate this dark novella; made even darker by the related stunning short story coda Who’s Lily?

Harriet Klausner

The Armageddon Rag-George R. R. Martin

The Armageddon Rag

George R. R. Martin

Bantam, Jan 30 2007, $16.00

ISBN: 9780553383072

In the 1960s Sandy Blair was a happy protesting radical. Under two decades later, Sandy is an unhappy establishment novelist in Brooklyn. He knows he has met the system and the system won. Hedgehog magazine publisher Jared Paterson offers Sandy an assignment. Sandy reminds the a-hole he fired him seven years ago, which Jared gleefully acknowledges that he sold the rag to the mainstream as he points out both of them sold out. The publisher wants his former reporter to do a story on the murder of Jamie Lynch, who once was promoter of the Satanic band Nazgûl. Excited as he has not been since he became a pulp fiction writer, Sandy agrees but on his terms.

Sandy learns that Nazgûl is making a comeback though the band collapsed with the murder of the lead singer Patrick Henry Hobbins during a live performance. Apparently promotor Eden Morse has replaced the late Hobbins with plastic surgery enhanced singer Larry Richmond who she calls Pat. Eden asks Sandy to promote Nazgûl as he did in their heyday.

This is a reprint of an early 1980s tale that takes a close look at how aging hippies fondly recall their protest days of less than two decades earlier through Sandy’s investigation. The paranormal elements never quite gel and the plot feels dated as only hippie geezers whose memories recall the good while ignoring the bad and the ugly will appreciate this tale. Still us geriatrics and DOPs (dirty old people to be politically correct) will appreciate this engaging tale with its references to the counterculture of our youths.

Harriet Klausner

Clumsy Girl's Guide To Falling In Love-Karen Wiesner

Clumsy Girl's Guide To Falling In Love

Karen Wiesner

Whiskey Creek Press, Dec 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781611602746 (electronic); 9781105201226 (trade paperback)

In Peaceful, Wisconsin, clumsy Zoë Rossdale and financial wizard Curt Bertoletti met four years ago when they were walking their Maine coons Nutmeg and Cayenne in Pet Park. For six months they were an entry as he was the clumsy girl’s first and only boyfriend until he dumped her by voice message for humongous boobs of Bonnie “Bon Bon Magnifico” Mgnoli.

Three beautiful women (Samantha – see Glass Angels; Jordan and LeeAnn) befriend and mentor Zoë, who has come a long way since “the Italian Stallion Chub” left her. While she moved on in many ways, she remains trapped by her knowledge that she will always be the clumsy girl who failed at love. Curt misses his Zoë as he knows he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left her. He vows to prove to her he loves her and they deserve a second chance though this may ruin his chance to prove to his family that his financial plans for their Italian restaurant Ciatti’s Italiano is sound as his kin never approved of his Zoë.

The first Friendship Heirlooms inspirational romance is a strong spinoff of the Family Heirlooms series. The protagonists are a super pairing of a second chance at love couple with him being sophisticated while she knows she is an embarrassment to herself, him and his family. Using hyperbole to embellish the engaging storyline, readers will relish Curt’s redemption as Zoë puts him through an emotional gauntlet (which she is running through too) while both pray to God for guidance.

Harriet Klausner

A Soul So Wicked-Sharie Kohler

A Soul So Wicked

Sharie Kohler

Pocket, Dec 26 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9781451611427

In the first century, raging Tresa the witch pledges her loyalty to Balthazar the demon in exchange for his placing a curse on the descendants of the aristocrat who murdered her family. One of the heirs Darius stalks the witch, as he has for centuries, who cursed him and his family. He prays that killing Tresa will bring an end to his immortal life as a Lycan.

When Darius and Tresa meet, each is shocked by how wrong their perception of the other is. Both seek to free themselves from their respective bonds while wondering if their love will prove a savior or a curse. Meanwhile Tresa “sees” the murders of Balthazar’s latest recruit the Rose Petal Killer.

The sixth Moon Chasers paranormal romance (see Night Falls on the Wicked) is an exciting Lycan redemption thriller. The storyline follows the most obvious path that readers expect and the changing relationship between the haunted and the haunted seems unlikely in spite of raging hormones. Still fans will enjoy this romantic urban fantasy as the lead couple team up in love to end the reign of terror of the Rose Petal Killer.

Harriet Klausner

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Wedding Fling-Meg Maguire

The Wedding Fling

Meg Maguire

Harlequin Blaze, Dec 18 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797387

On the morning of her wedding, reluctant tabloid celebrity and out of work actress Leigh Bailey overhears her fiancé Dan cheating with Allie. Though she should confront the rat, she chooses to avid her mother and Dan to go on their honeymoon without him at a remote Barbados resort.

The tabloids assume she ran off with a man so they offer a fortune to shuttle pilot Will Burgess to give them the insider dope on Leigh. Though he knows spying on her is wrong, the money is too good to be ignore and besides he rationalizes she is a publicity hound anyway. When they meet, each is attracted to the other and realizes she is nothing like he envisioned. However, the tabloids have plenty of money and other willing operatives.

The antics of the lead couple make for an entertaining island romance that follows classic lines of B& G; as the pair starts as two adversaries turning to love only turning back to enemies while playing out their sand dance on a scandalous tabloid celebrity stage. Fans will enjoy The Wedding Fling especially the from the jar peanut butter solution (hopefully one does not choke on this) to all tsuris.

Harriet Klausner

The Risk-Taker-Kira Sinclair

The Risk-Taker

Kira Sinclair

Harlequin Blaze, Dec 18 2012, $5.25

ISBN: 9780373797332

Army Ranger Gage Harper came home from the war suffering from PTSD. The torture never broke him even when the enemy used pliers on his nails. However, his screw-up has left him with guilt as he still hears the screams of his comrades. Gage is so mentally battered he cannot defend himself against a bully he could easily beat up. Adding to his depression is the public want to make him a hero when he feels like a failure.

Wannabe reporter Hope Rawlings wants to get Gage’s side of the story. He does not want to talk but she is the one girl he had an unrequited crush on back in high school. Resisting her proves harder than remaining silent while tortured.

The latest Uniformly Hot! romance is superb heated tale that focuses on the mental state of a wounded warrior (please support the worthy Wounded Warrior Project) to move on passed what occurred in the theater of operation. The lead couple is a nice pairing of a couple falling in love the second time around while at cross goals.

Harriet Klausner

Against the Odds-Kat Martin

Against the Odds

Kat Martin

Mira, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780778314226

Former Houston stockbroker Sabrina “Rina” Eckhart inherits desert property from her late uncle. In near financial ruin, she decides to visit her new land in West Texas, as she believes there is a silver mine there; but goes against her independent streak by wisely hiring the ex-Navy pilot turned private investigator Alex Justice to protect her on her sojourn.

However, their journey proves harrowing from the helicopter crash to those who want her gone or dead to a serial killer seeking revenge against Alex. As they team up against an unknown clever adversary, Rina and Alex fall in love, but need to survive first before they can deal with their personal commitment doubts.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon romantic suspense (see Against the Sun, Against the Wind and Against the Night) is a fast-paced action-filled thriller that never takes a respite. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of two people not ready to commit while trying to stay alive as accidents keep occurring. Although Alex’s exploits seem over the top of Guadalupe Peak, readers will appreciate his efforts to keep his beloved client safe.

Harriet Klausner

The Circle-Bentley Little

The Circle

Bentley Little

Cemetery Dance, Dec 2012, $19.99

ISBN: 9781587673009

“Helen” answers the knock at her door to find a strange child oddly dressed. The boy enters her house and goes to the bathroom where he releases a dump in the toilet. However, his excretion turns out to be diamonds. He enters her garage where he continues to drop gems from his butt to the exhilaration of his hostess and her spouse; until he begins releasing a horde beetles.

“Frank” is an eighth grader whose family lives near Helen. He and his friend visit the backyard dump of a neighbor rumored to be a witch as allegedly her altar is there. They plan to make a request not understanding that the witch will demand remittance.

“Gil” is Frank’s father. A hysterical teen who accompanied Frank on their adventure tells him what happened. He goes to confront the obese lady professor who many believe is a witch.

This is a reprint of a dark graphic (never look at poop in the same way) horror thriller told in three related stories that flow in a Circle starting with the middle tale before shifting to how it began and ultimately climaxed.

Harriet Klausner

Dinosaur Thunder-James F. David

Dinosaur Thunder

James F. David

Forge, Dec 24 2012, $27.99

ISBN 9780765323781

Eighteen years have passed since time as a linear concept ended when the prehistory age of the dinosaur surfaced at the end of the twentieth century. Urban jungles were buried beneath the Cretaceous rainforest (see Footprints of Thunder and Thunder of Time) while hordes of various dinosaur species roam places like Manhattan. Director of the Office of Security Science Nick Paulson led the struggle to end the time wave invasion and apparently succeeded as the intrusion ended, but too late; as war for dominant species between human religious purebred fanatics and dinosaur descendants seems imminent.

On the moon, shocked astronauts find a T. Rex. Paulson concludes another timeline exists. He uses this to go back to the prehistoric era where he finds displaced contemporary humans in a losing lethal situation. Finally, the asteroid that changed time is returning.

The third Thunder alternate time science fiction is an exciting thriller that fans will enjoy as the perils of Paulson action never slow down. With a nod to Michael Crichton in spite of the science not appearing reasonable, readers will enjoy this fun tale.

Harriet Klausner

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lullaby-Amanda Hocking


Amanda Hocking

St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 27 2012, $17.99

ISBN: 9781250005656

In order to keep her family and friends safe, teenager Gemma Fisher decides to swim with the sirens though she plans to control her evil unlike her new sisters (Penn, Lexi and Thea). However, leaving behind her loved ones was an extremely difficult decision, but controlling her urges seems increasingly impossible as her supernatural prowess grows stronger and her compulsion to kill turns obsessively.

Gemma's boyfriend Alex, her older sister Harper, and Harper's boyfriend Daniel refuse to give up on bringing her home. The trio knows that will entail the seemingly impossible act of eliminating the three surviving sirens. Stunningly, they bring Gemma home, but the siren trio pursues those who abducted one of them with plans to exterminate their newest sister’s loved ones.

The second Watersong urban fantasy (see Wake) is an exciting thriller as two teams vie for the “affection” of Gemma. The key is that the three sirens are fully developed with Thea displaying a fascinating feeling that differentiates her from Penn and Lexi. Filled with action, Lullaby is a fast-paced horror tale.

Harriet Klausner

Unnatural Acts-Kevin J. Anderson

Unnatural Acts

Kevin J. Anderson

Kensington, Dec 24 2012. $15.00

ISBN: 9780758277367

Residents of the Unnatural Quarter work dead end jobs trying to eke out a living especially during the graveyard shift. A golem, who like his compatriots cannot read, enters the office of Chambeaux and Deyer which includes African American lawyer Robin Deyer and her zombie private investigator partner Dan Shamble. He complains about sweatshop conditions at Smile Syndicate in order for Golems to make trinkets for the tourists to partners African American lawyer Robin Deyer and zombie private investigator Dan Shamble, and their office manager Cheyenne the tireless ghost. Learning his name is Bill as inscribed on his back, the golem demands human rights for the inhuman.

The Smiling Syndicate buys Goblin Tavern while a senator pushing the Unnatural Acts Act leads a crusade against the inhuman abominations with a protest against the production of Shakespeare in the Dark. While Robin works the rights issue and Cheyenne the office, Dan juggles his caseload between protection of an interracial couple and a madame mummy, and investigating something evil happening in the Unnatural Quarter; however his biggest concern is the renovation of Goblin Tavern.

The latest Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. (see Death Warmed Over) is a superb satirical paranormal thriller. Filled with jocularity, Kevin J. Anderson lampoons societal morality of discriminatory convenience with this delightful tale as the natural and the supernatural contain nasty unequal opportunity a-holes.

Harriet Klausner

The Hermetic Millennia-John C. Wright

The Hermetic Millennia

John C. Wright

Tor, Dec 24 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765329288

Crew members of the starship Hermetic discover the alien warehouse, which contained advanced knowledge and an energy source way beyond what humanity knew. Menelaus Montrose and Zimen "Blackie" Del Azarchel had two diverse visions of a future earth. Whereas Montrose wants his home planet to thrive with the shared discovery and prepares to challenge the alien menace, Blackie feels the need to reengineer the species to make them worthy of the warehouse owners the Domination of Hyades when they return in eight millennia to determine whether enslaving mankind is worthy of them. Blackie wins the first round as he persuades other crew members this is the only way their species survives the return.

Meanwhile Menelaus turns to cryo sleep to be there when the Domination of Hyades return to harvest earthlings in eight millennia and his wife Rania travels in deep space to confront the Hyades' executive leader. Only thirty-five years into his sleep, Sir Knight awakens him. Apparently, Blackie's Blue Men horde assaulted the tombs where Montrose and others lied dormant. Obviously Blackie continues to prepare earth for the return of the Hyades with him as overseer of the humans.

The second crew of the Hermetic science fiction thriller (see Count to a Trillion) is an exhilarating complex tale as rhere are two visions that compete for mankind’s future. Convoluted and difficult to read with so many competing concepts involved, readers who appreciate a profound look at the impact on society by a quantum advance in science and technology will enjoy this strong saga.

Harriet Klausner

Luck of the Draw-Piers Anthony

Luck of the Draw

Piers Anthony

Tor, Dec 24 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765331359

Magic relocates ailing octogenarian widower Bryce from Mundania to Xanth where he becomes a twentyish person who can see the future. Princess Dawn informs the confused Bryce that Demons placed a bet on him and others over who will win the affection of sixteen years old Princess Harmony; he being a long shot. Furthermore she explains his quest is dangerous but he has no choice as he is compulsively spellbound to compete although he feels some remorse as an ex-geriatric with a young man’s bod but the mind of a geezer courting a teen.

Given the mighty weapon of a pen, Bryce on his mission with two allies; Rachel the talking German short-haired pointer and nineteen year old Mindy join him. However, as he enjoys his fountain of youth and loves to draw, the teen object of his desire rejects his and her other suitors.

The latest Xanth fantasy (see Well-Tempered Clavicle) is duh a fun pun filled entry. Fast-paced with amusing (and some awful) bon mots, fans of the series will enjoy the Luck of the Draw.

Harriet Klausner

Killer Crust-Chris Cavender

Killer Crust

Chris Cavender

Kensington, Dec 24 2012, $24.00

ISBN: 9780758271525

In Timber Ridge, North Carolina, the Laughing Luigi frozen pizza dough distributer offers a $25,000 prize to the winner of a pizza bake-off. Owners of A Slice of Delight Pizza Parlor, Eleanor Swift and Maddy Spencer, distrust Luigi, but the contest seems genuine; so the sisters enter.

However, the siblings quickly change their mind as unscrupulous Luigi apparently fixed the contest. Soon after that, Luigi is found dead with A Slice of Delight pizza stuffed in his mouth. Police chief Kevin Hurley, Eleanor and Maddy investigate who poisoned the pizza as the late Luigi made many enemies.

The latest Pizza Lovers Mystery (see Rest in Pizza) is a delightful whodunit as there are plenty of people with strong motives to kill the odious Luigi. Opportunity may seem as if the siblings had the best chance as their slice is the murder weapon, but the audience quickly realizes others had access. Fans will enjoy this entry as the sisters once again find themselves dealing with A Pizza To Die For.

Harriet Klausner

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Alien: The Illustrated Story-Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (Illustrator)

Alien: The Illustrated Story

Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (Illustrator)

Titan Books, Sep 4 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781781161296

In outer space, the civilian mining ship the Nostromo completed its mission and is heading home with the crew sleeping in a cryo-frozen state. The Nostromo computer Mother wakes everyone up after receiving an alien distress message. They head to the source of the SOS and soon crewman Kane and others explore an alien ship where he finds an egg. At that moment humanity meets an Alien species.

This is a reprint of the great 1979 graphic comic book as Archie Goodwin brings the film’s plot to life while Walt Simonson’s fabulous illustrations enhance the tale with his pre computer generated art. Fans will appreciate this super adaptation of a fabulous horror science fiction movie.

Harriet Klausner

The Listeners-Harrison Demchick

The Listeners

Harrison Demchick

Bancroft, Dec 17 2012, $21.99

ISBN 9781610880817

The plague struck the city with biblical proportions. Teenage best friends Daniel and Katie know very little beyond the quarantine that isolated them and that medical personnel were evacuated out early on. They also know what Katie’s dad said about the monstrous Listeners who cut off an ear as a ritual of joining. The police, including Katie’s dad, take over rationing supplies but those like Daniel and his mom are beneath the ladder so they receive little. It turns worse for Daniel when his mom went out to the store but never returned, and the broken window allows the airborne virus to enter their apartment.

With no hope, the Listeners, led by Adam the prophet, arrive and give Derek a reason to live and take what they insist should be his rather than hide until the disease turns him into an evil abomination before it horribly kills him. Giving up an ear is worth the price as Daniel joins the Listeners.

This is an exciting horror thriller with a fascinating premise that when civilization caves monsters come out of the holes in diverse packages. Fast-paced, the atmosphere grips the audience as Daniel struggles with adapting to the Listener morality that uses the concept of how young suicide bombers are recruited to die (purpose, food and shelter). Fast-paced fans will enjoy this dark thriller from the opening knock to the final decision Daniel makes.

Harriet Klausner

Legends of Darkness-Georgia L Jones

Legends of Darkness

Georgia L Jones

BlackWyrm, Mar 1 2012, $15.95

ISBN: 9781613181218

While her husband Rob is away on business, cosmetologist Samantha Garrett drops her six year old son Chris off at school before driving to Springfield to pick up supplies for her shop. On the interstate heading home, an out of control car swerves across the medium crashing into Samantha’s SUV; her last thoughts before she dies are of her loved ones.

She awakens recalling her final moments. This Death proves confusing as she feels healthy while walking to a funeral in which the body inside the coffin is her and her loved ones deeply grieving their loss. However, her initial thoughts of this neo-existence could not be hell change when she learns what she has become in her afterlife. Samantha is Samoda a blood thirsty warrior in the army of Nuem though she refuses to give up on what she once was as a mom, wife, sister, daughter and beloved human; unaware that failure to move on leaves her, her loved ones and her new comrades like Drake in peril from an avarice traitorous avenger.

Legends of Darkness is a refreshing paranormal thriller that spins an intriguing afterlife premise. Sam is terrific as she holds the engaging storyline together while struggling to adjust to a new world order until she realizes the threat to humanity including her loved ones and to her new species. Fast-paced, fans will appreciate Sam’s efforts to save two realms from a sinister traitor.

Harriet Klausner

The Right Hand-Derek Haas

The Right Hand

Derek Haas

Mulholland/Little Brown, Nov 13 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316198462

CIA leadership recognizes that field operative Austin “Right Hand” Clay is one of their best assets though no one would admit this revelation as he handles the most covert dirty jobs in which the government denies involvement. In other words he is the ultimate in the cold agent who the left hand spy agencies deny knowing what The Right Hand is doing; as his section consists of Clay and his handler of three years Andrew Stedding.

His current assignment is to bring in missing Blake Nelson, dead or alive. Nelson who works in Moscow has failed to make contact in five days and the brass fear he may have turned greedy. Clay quickly learns Hungarian Marika Csontos has become a target for elimination by enemies who need to insure she remains silent as she accidently has uncovered top Russian secrets including a traitor selling America out for decades and an assassin targeting inside the organization.

The Right Hand is an exhilarating espionage thriller starring a hero who does the dirty jobs outside the law. Early on Clay’s black ops outside the law persona is set when he confronts Beto who has Intel connections. Filled with incredible action, fans will enjoy The Right Hand as he goes after traitors and enemy operatives with no regard to his safety or the law.

Harriet Klausner

Aftershock-Jill Sorenson


Jill Sorenson

Harlequin HQN, Dec 18 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780373777327

In San Diego, paramedics Lauren and Joe respond to an emergency call. However, an earthquake measured at 8.5 on the Richter scale wracks the city. Joe dies and Lauren is buried in a gigantic hole with highway debris including cars above her and thus trapping her inside.

Lauren searches for other trapped survivors and soon meets Iraq war veteran Garrett. With his help, they rescue a pregnant teen, an elderly man and his granddaughter. Three dangerous criminals also survive. Lauren and Garrett set up an emergency operation, but the felons demand the food, water, and medicine.

With a nod to the World Series earthquake and the Stallone movie Daylight, Aftershock is a great thriller that grips readers from the moment the tremor occurs until the final confrontation. The key to the strong storyline is that the romance between the lead couple is palatable but takes a back seat to the survival theme. Readers will appreciate Jill Sorenson’s superb tense romantic suspense as the thriller subplot comes across as genuine leaving readers feeling trapped alongside Lauren and Joe under the freeway.

Harriet Klausner

Friday, November 16, 2012

Rogue Rider-Larissa Ione

Rogue Rider

Larissa Ione

Forever, Nov 20 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780446574488

The angel Reaver removed Reseph’s memory of the terror he caused on earth as one of the Four Horsemen, Pestilence. Reaver sends Reseph back to Earth.

Jillian Cardiff fled Florida for blizzard conditions after the demon assault that left visible scars on her body and even worse on her soul. On her way back to her remote mountain cabin, Jillian finds a hunk lying naked in the snow. She helps him inside her lodging while learning he remembers nothing except he thinks his name is Reseph. The pair is attracted to one another, but their idyll ends when demons murder neighbors. As hunters arrive to kill the demons, Reseph reawakens to the paralyzing guilt of what he wrought as Pestilence.

The final Lords of Deliverance romantic fantasy (see Immortal Rider, Eternal Rider and Lethal Rider) is a superb finish to the strong The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse saga. The protagonists are star-crossed as lovers as he unleashed the demon horde that practically destroyed her. Fans will relish the climax as redemption seems a mountain too high for guilt-wracked Reseph with what he caused to humanity.

Harriet Klausner

The Bones Of The Old Ones-Howard Andrew Jones

The Bones Of The Old Ones

Howard Andrew Jones

Dunne, Dec 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312646752

In the eighth century Old Mosul is almost as ancient as the Assyrian ruins across the river. Seven Sebitti wizards have cast a spell on Persian aristocrat Najya binta Alimah to find The Bones Of The Old Ones, a source of great power. During a snowstorm blanketing the city, Najya escapes from these dangerous mages; and takes refuge in the home of Dabir ibn Khalil the scholar; also there is Dabir’s friend the swordsman Captain Asim el Abbas.

Dabir and Asim agree to keep Najya safe and liberate her from the Sebitti spell as her soul turns darker with a comingling spirit planning on an ice age like none before. As the pair begins their quest, the wizards send a lethal shapeshifting assassin to kill them. Meanwhile Asim increasingly acts as if Najya enchanted him while Dabir fears their beautiful charge may prove more dangerous to them and Mosul than the stalking killer or the wizards, they make a devil’s deal with their enemy Lydia the Greek necromancer.

The second thrilling eighth century Dabir and Asim sword and sorcery fantasy (see The Desert of Souls) is a great tale as the heroes struggle to stay alive while on their quest. Fast-paced and filled with action in a real locale, the cast makes the tale as Najya, Lydian, the assassin and the wizards provide depth to the adventures of the protagonists in the Jones mythology.

Harriet Klausner

The Lady of Secrets-Susan Carroll

The Lady of Secrets

Susan Carroll

Ballantine, Dec 11 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780345502957

In 1605, healer Margaret Wolfe feels relief with the death of her mad mom Cassandra Lascelles the witch. Now the Lady of the Faire Isle following the death of her beloved mentor Ariane, Meg returns home, accompanied by Contessa Seraphine Beaufoy, knowing everyone is wary of her power due to her mother’s mad misuse. She plans to lay low and enjoy the sense of feeling safe at last.

King James dispatches Sir Patrick Graham and Dr. Armagil Blackwood to Faire Isle to escort Lady Meg to his court where a witch’s curse devastates the royals. Meg is attracted to the kind Sir Graham while keeping her distant from the sullen physician. Trusting no one especially anyone engaging her heart, Meg deploys her bewitching powers to identify the culprit behind a dangerous magical spell that has placed the monarch, his family and his retinue in peril.

Though the Dark Queen is dead, Susan Carroll superbly continues her historical romantic fantasy saga (see Twilight of a Queen) with a fabulous entry that follows the adventures in magic and love of the newest Lady of the Faire Isle. Fast-paced from the moment Graham and Dr. Armagil Blackwood come for Meg, readers will appreciate this deep thriller as the heroine knows the risk she takes by deploying her paranormal skills at a time when curse phobia has led to witch burnings.

Harriet Klausner

Extra Credit-Maggie Barbieri

Extra Credit

Maggie Barbieri

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9781250001887

In Westchester County, New York, NYPD Detective Bobby Crawford and his ex-wife Christine celebra te their twin daughters’ nineteenth birthday. Family attending the bash is Bobby’s wife Professor Alison Bergeron and Christine’s husband and his four children. Christine’s brother Uncle Chick, who no one has seen or heard from in years, makes a surprise visit. He gives $5,000 each to the twins.

After the shock wears off, Bobby and Christine agree to return the loot to Uncle Chick. Bobby and Alison visit Chick only to find him near death. The police arrive and find $250,000 inside the mattress. The cops conclude suicide, but Christine believes someone murdered her sibling. While her friends (Max, Fred and ex-priest Kevin) warn Alison to not investigate, they assist her when she does.

The latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Physical Education, Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study) is an engaging extended family affair that reflects the complex relationships. The cast is solid in support of the heroine who feels out of her element hosting a teen bash but in her element detecting; while explaining to Max and fans why she obsessively must investigate. Readers will enjoy this entertaining whodunit

Harriet Klausner

Orders from Berlin-Simon Tolkien

Orders from Berlin

Simon Tolkien

Minotaur, Dec 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN 9780312632144

In 1940 Gestapo Chief Reinhard Heydrich has planted a mole inside British MI6. Meanwhile in London, someone shoves former MI6 Chief Albert Morrison over a banister outside his apartment. His horrified daughter Ava watches her dad plunge to his death, but cannot identify the killer due to the darkened streets.

Scotland Yard Detective Chief Inspector John Quaid almost immediately decides Ava’s husband Bertie killed his father-in-law. Quaid’s employee Detective William Trave believes the case is much more than a family matter as he believes the deceased’s previous occupation is involved with his death; especially after he found a strange note in Albert’s pocket and that the MI6 Deputy Chief Alec Thorn visited him earlier on that fatal day. Trave theorizes that the county’s ex spymaster was silenced before he could expose a traitor.

The third terrific Trave historical police procedural actually occurs almost two decades before the previous two investigations (see The Inheritance and The King of Diamonds). Filled with action and taut suspense, readers will believe they are in London during the Nazi air blitz as the raids impact the case. Orders From Berlin is a strong whodunit wrapped inside a powerful espionage thriller.

Harriet Klausner

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Alien vs. Alien-Gini Koch

Alien vs. Alien

Gini Koch

Daw, Dec 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407704

Jeff and Kitty Martini resigned their positions as Centaurion Division exterminators-commanders to raise their hybrid infant Jamie, who while in the womb sent fluids to his mom that led to her obtaining superpowers. The family moved to Washington DC as head diplomats at the recently established Centaurion Embassy.

Currently Kitty and Jamie are near the Kennedy Space Center visiting her in-laws at Martini Manor. Florida senior Senator Vincent Armstrong arrives from Miami after Kitty kept giving him excuses of being too busy to see him. He shows her naked pictures of Kitty with Chuckie Reynolds though both know they are fakes. Kitty wonders what the originators want to gain from these. Soon afterward, an android claiming Chuckie directed him, assaults Kitty leaving her to also wonder who wants to separate her from her strong support system of earthlings and Cantaurions and why.

The latest Kitty Katt Martini amusing satirical science fiction thriller (see Alien Proliferation, Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien Diplomacy) is a superb jocular entry that is filled with twists, spins and humor as the heroine seems to constantly step in it. Fast-paced, readers will believe the two species are real (as are other feral ETs); while the Jamie effect continues to nuke the lifestyle of the parents. Fans will appreciate Kitty’s nine lives as once again sh*t happens but the tongue in cheek manner hopefully rolls down someone else’s hill.

Harriet Klausner

Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters-Mercedes Lackey

Elemental Magic: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters

Mercedes Lackey

Daw, Dec 4 2012, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756407872

This solid nineteen short story collection focuses on Mercedes Lackey’s historical Elemental Masters fantasy with all entries no later than 1919. In Oahu, “Makana” (by Fiona Patton) tries to emulate his foster father, a fabulous fisherman but cannot be one with the waves. In ancient times, Kyria and Meto are sailing to their marriage when the sirens call in “A Song of the Sea” by Diana L. Paxson. In 1885 Fire Mage and Daily Clarion reporter Jane Emerson notices the little match girl at a time when arsons threaten New York City in Michele Lang’s “The Phoenix of Mulberry Street.” As McKinley is shot, injured black war veteran Nathanial obtains growing paranormal powers at a time his rage explodes due to overt racism in Georgia (Ron Collins’s “The Collector”). In “I Have heard the Mermaid Sing” by Mercedes Lackey, Miriam the air mage struggles to help a family friend earth mage in coastal Maine. Overall this is an enjoyable anthology in which Ms. Lackey’s fans will appreciate though the strife for the most part is kept to a limited personal conflict (i.e., racism, feminism, etc.).

Harriet Klausner

The Eyes of Sandala-Cathy Benedetto

The Eyes of Sandala

Cathy Benedetto

BlackWyrm, Oct 31 2011, $15.95

ISBN: 9781613181157

Inside their extinct volcanic Crater home in the Sea of Death, the Shala know they are to protect the humans living in the five nations on the continent of Sandala. Recently strange happenings worry the Shala that the five centuries of peace is coming to an end. Shala TahJeen Teir has a vision that affirms this belief and Sealand on the southeastern coast has closed its borders to its three neighbors.

Fearing what is happening with reports of marauding bands all over the continent, Dania King Sorbonne sends out former Sentinels like Devon to learn the truth. He journeys across Palaton and Sealand reaching the coastal city of Seadawn as an armada from the eastern sea invades the coastal city. From the western sea, another armada invades Dania. As betrayal haunts the Shala, TahJeen struggles to adhere to the prophecy he prefers to ignore in order to mount a counterattack against the invaders and their Quisling allies; having his 7-foot plus back is Ariann.

The first Sandala thriller is an exciting military fantasy though typical of the sub-genre. The storyline is fast-paced throughout though the climax sets up the next entry with little closure to The Eyes of Sandala. Still fans will appreciate the adventures of Devon and TahJeen in a realm where five hundred years of peace has left few if any ready for hostilities.

Harriet Klausner

Phoenix Rising-Ryk E. Spoor

Phoenix Rising

Ryk E. Spoor

Baen, Nov 6 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9781451638417

The prophecy of the cyclical Chaoswars plunging the Zarathan planet into a dark age appears on the brink of happening again; as apparently the Gods have spoken once more. At a gala in small Evanwyl near the western coast, the aristocratic family of Kyri are betrayed and murdered though she escapes leaving her beloved country behind in chaos; praying to return to free her people one day. Exiled Prince Tobimar Silverun hopes to one day return to his homeland Skysand in the Northeast.

Both flee across the lone known continent as she seeks an ancient armorer to create her a special sword to lead warriors against the forces of the dark that have devastated Evanwyl and he believes he will never go home even as he become a master swordsman. When they meet, each feels they have found a lost kindred soul. Soon a third champion, tiny Poplock Duckweed, joins them.

The keys that make this strong fantasy a great read are the vivid dark world of Ryk E. Spoor and the fully developed cast as the audience visit a planet on the brink while the good, the bad and the ugly seem genuine due to moments of reflective thought amidst the action. Fast-paced, readers will demand more escapades against the forces of the dark by the heroic trio on Zarathan as well as hints of previous Chaoswars leaving a fertile realm for further adventures of other champions.

Harriet Klausner

Silver Cross-B. Kent Anderson

Silver Cross

B. Kent Anderson

Forge, Nov 27 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765328625

In October 1864, Southern spy Rose Greenhow possesses a letter in which French Emperor Napoleon III informs Confederate President Jefferson Davis that he supports their noble cause and will provide aid in exchange for the “Silver Cross.” However, Greenhow drowns off the North Carolina coast near the mouth of the Cape Fear River while trying to deliver the message.

In the present, Federal Research and Investigations Office Deputy Director Meg Tolman finds out that her friend Dana Cable accidentally died while walking on a seawall below Kure Beach near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. At the funeral, a stranger gives Tolman the Napoleon III note that Greenhow was toting and soon believes her cellist friend from Pennsylvania was murdered. Tolman and History Professor Nick Journey team up again (see Cold Glory) in search of the Silver Cross in West Texas even while the Associates pursue them and rogue assassin Ann Gray will kill anyone who stands in her way of obtaining the relic.

The second Tolman-Journey thriller is an exciting tale that deftly merges a strange death over a century and a half ago with a strange death in the present. Fast-paced and filled with action (including acts of terrorism), readers will enjoy this taut storyline with a strong cast especially the protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Ghost Of Christmas Present-Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton

The Ghost Of Christmas Present

Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton

Howard/Simon and Schuster, Oct 23 2012, $16.99

ISBN: 9781451660395

In Manhattan Widower Patrick Guthrie still grieves the death of his wife Linda from an enlarged heart only he learns that the other person he loves in this world, their eight-year-old son Braden, is dying from the same condition. Adding pressure on Patrick is the loss of his job as a drama teacher and his affluent angry father-in-law Tom Cake is filing a custody suit based on his son-in-law’s inability to care for Braden; just like he feels his son-in-law failed his beloved daughter.

Child Protective Services social worker Rebecca Brody reviews the case at a time when a procedure could save Braden’s life. Thinking his son may be better offer with his grandfather, Patrick considers suicide, but concludes Braden needs him and he will do anything to be there for his beloved child. Needing a Christmas miracle, Patrick turns to Shakespeare and street performing to raise money before he appears in court.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is a charming holiday tale starring a desperate father seeking to make his own Miracle on 34th Street. His efforts change the attitudes of many as those who watch his performance are tenderly touched even coldly efficient Rebecca and Ted the scrooge begin seeing him in a different light. Readers will enjoy this warm Christmas tale.

Harriet Klausner