is a science fiction and fantasy book review site, written and published by accomplished reviewer Harriet Klausner. For more information, please check the About page.
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May 5, 2013
Hope Reborn: The General
David Drake and S. M. Stirling
Baen, Mar 5 2013, $13.00
“The Forge.” Over a millennium ago, the fall of the Galactic Federation left those civilizations on the fringe like planet Bellevue isolated. In a divided Bellevue, the Priests claimed that sin destroyed the Federation and one day the worshipped Computer Battle Central will return starting a holy enlightenment. In the present, Civil Government soldiers Raj Whitehall and Thom Poplanich explore the catacombs when they find Battle Central. The Computer places Thom is a suspended state while ordering Raj to save the planet. Reluctantly he accepts the mission after Battle Central displays the destruction if he fails to act against the Colonists.
“The Hammer.” Two years have passed since Battle Central sent Raj on his military mission. He returns to the catacombs for the first time since he left Thom there. Awakened Thom is stunned to have been left behind and missed so much. Raj argues that a new Southern Territories Expedition is needed though the previous one two decades ago proved a disastrous failure. Now a Brigadier General, Raj leads the expedition while corrupt leaders make success less likely.
The reprint of the first two rousing Raj Whitehall science fiction thrillers are exciting tales as the Bellevue world seems a plausible mix of nineteenth and twentieth century technology within a belligerent Holy Roman Empire feudal society. The battles are realistic especially the dark side of war as civilians are killed, maimed, raped and their assets taken. The insightful look at the worship of the silent Computer who abandoned the people but left behind the bible (manuals) is fabulous; especially the scholarly debates. Readers will enjoy this saga as the divided planet enables Raj opportunities to advance.
May 2, 2013
Daw, April 2 2013, $24.95
The heir to the Atevi leader of the Western Association Tabiniaiji, eight years old Cajerji celebrates his birthday with his people and select human friends he made. Meanwhile the Assassins’ Guild, responsible for security, is divided with many opposed to Tabini’s rule, preferring traditionalists like Ilisidi and others.
Not knowing who to trust, Tabini asks his friend human diplomat Bren Cameron to work with his aiji-dowager grandmother Ilisidi to protect his child and other guests. Tabini and Bren believe the enemies of the Atevi leader will use the gala to make a deadly statement with both of them, the heir and specific guests as the targets.
The latest Foreigner Universe thriller (see Intruder, Betrayer and Deceiver) is an entertaining tale with somewhat limited action, as once again C.J. Cherryh deeply develops political and ethnic themes with young Cajerji as the focus of opposing forces with diverse motives. Few besides his father and Ben care about his well-being as most see the lad as a pawn to further personal agendas. Fans will enjoy Cajerji’s happy birthday bash with unwanted fireworks part of the gala.
April 2, 2013
Flirting Under A Full Moon
Sourcebook, Apr 2 2013, $6.99
The text message informs Boston Uncommon waitress Brandee Hanson that she has been dumped. Her reaction is to swear off men, but Sadie Maven, the aunt of the owner the bar, tells the despondent woman that she had a premonition and reads her Tarot Cards that insist Brandee’s true love is coming for her. One-night stand Nick Wolfensen enters the establishment.
Over a century old, the former cop who hates taking or giving orders, Nick tells his recently married twin brother Konrad (see The Werewolf Upstairs) that he has become a private investigator. BPD Captain Hunter arranges for Nick to search for the mayor’s kidnapped stepdaughter. The girl is a fire mage unaware of her paranormal nature as the first inclination occurs at the first solar eclipse following the onset of puberty. Brandee notices Nick consulting with Sadie on a case in which the missing person must be her twelve year old cousin Kate due to the lack of pigment in her hair making it white. She follows him and witnesses his shifting into a wolf, but Mother Nature and a vampire erase the evidence and her memory. When they kiss, Nick knows he met his mate, but fears her reaction when he explains what he is.
The latest Strange Neighbors urban fantasy romance (see The Vampire Next Door) is an entertaining Bostonian romp. Although neither Nick nor Brandee feel developed enough to sell the existence of his species (or for that matter other paranormal types), fans will enjoy the hundred and one years old werewolf and the twenty-something mortal falling in love while Flirting Under A Full Moon.
March 14, 2013
The Wolf’s Surrender
Kendra Leigh Castle
Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 5 2013, $5.50
The violent shifter stalks Mia D’Alessandro, who runs in fear knowing her attacker toys with her as entrepreneur Jeff Gaines already bit her once. Blackpaw werewolf Nick Jenner finds the frightened woman and takes her to the safety of his pack. However, he fears for Mia’s well-being since the feral wolf already bit her, which means she could turn murderous if Gaines is not killed as Blackpaw assumes the rogue will not mentor her through her first shift.
However, Nick soon learns why Gaines wants Mia; the vile werewolf knows Mia is an Unseelie and wants her dark blood. Knowing how easily a shifter can turn malevolent from firsthand experience, Nick distrusts the female as Unseelie are dark essences though to his chagrin his guest has his heart palpitating at hyperspeed.
The Castle mythos makes for an enjoyable fast-paced werewolf romance. The lead triangle is fully developed with readers anticipating the confrontation between the good Nick, the potentially bad Mia and the ugly Jeff.
March 13, 2013
Dreams and Shadows
C. Robert Cargill
Harper Voyager, Feb 26 2013, $24.99
Proud parents Tiffany and Jared Thatcher love their newborn Ewan. However, after hearing Tiffany’s awful warble that only a bay would cherish, Dithers the Bendith Y Mamau blob abducts Ewan from his family’s seventeenth floor apartment and replaces the cooing infant with the Changeling Knocks. Tiffany realizes immediately something is not right with her newborn and claims he is not her baby; but Jared and others thinks something is not right with her.
Over the years Ewan and another abductee Colby meet and become friends in the Fey’s Limestone Kingdom. Together they escape to earth where Ewan falls in love in Austin. However, departing the Limestone Kingdom proves much easier than staying away as they are drawn back to their former realm as no one just leaves.
Though the Changeling snatch concept is not new, the denizen of the Limestone Kingdom brings freshness with their metaphysical debates on whether places like Texas exist beyond “… traveling through another dimension — a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone!” Fans will enjoy the escapades of the two BFFs in Austin and in Limestone as both places can prove bloody deadly.
March 4, 2013
A Turn of Light
Julie E. Czerneda
Daw, Mar 5 2013, $20.00
Marrowdell lies at the vortex of two worlds. The townsfolk recognize the uniqueness of their village belonging to both the magic and mortal realms yet also not part of either. Amongst the unique villagers, Jenn Nalynn stands out. She yearns to leave her hometown to see the worlds, but having been born in the Verge where the two realms overlap at A Turn of Light sunset, she cannot venture forth; a “turn-born” like her is the anchor to keeping the magic and the mortal from converging into releasing forces that would end two realms.
Though her father Radd, older sister Peggs and the rest of her family try to be there for her, she feels alone as she has all her life except for an invisible friend Wisp; sent there to keep Jenn from taking even one step outside of Marrowdell. As the Great Turn occurs, Jenn approaches her nineteenth birthday with the objective of seeking true love as she believes a husband will show her the world outside the Verge. She tries to create a mate only her invisible friend Wisp becomes the solid man Wyll. Then there is the other newcomer who has come to the village.
This is a terrific fantasy due to a strong cast and a deeply created location. Jenn’s dilemma brings a coming of age premise, but the superb storyline is much more as dreams may be misplaced but never totally gone especially when spring brings new hope after a dismal winter. Readers will relish visiting Marrowdell as Julie E. Czerneda deftly moves from science fiction to fantasy.
February 28, 2013
The Goddess Inheritance
Harlequin Teen, Feb 26 2013. $9.99
Kate Winters spent the nine months of her pregnancy in captivity. For most of her incarceration, her beloved Henry was led astray by Walter and Ava to believe Kate accompanied James searching for the missing Rhea. Kate believes her Henry finally knows the truth re her fate. Everyone seemingly wants the unborn as perhaps the most powerful being ever since Cronus the Titan claims the fetus is his (though Henry sired the child) and the Queen of the Gods Calliope makes sacrificial plans for Kate’s baby once born.
Kate knows she can do nothing against either super God as Calliope takes away her newborn Milo. Cronus offers her a deal he knows that she cannot refuse. He will spare her and her newborn Milo and limit human collateral damage in the war of the gods if she pledges her total loyalty to him. She understands the cost of committing to Cronus means Henry, her mother and the Gods will die; failure to pledge means Milo is gone forever and she, much of mankind and her loved ones will probably die.
The final Goddess Test urban fantasy (see the Goddess Test and Goddess, Interrupted) is a strong twisting ending to a fabulous series as a distraught Kate finds herself caught between the love of her family and saving the world by self-sacrifice. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans of the trilogy will enjoy the final confrontation though they will question Kate’s terrible decisions even factoring in the protagonist’s Olympus levels of stress and depression. Still Aimee Carter provides an engaging end to an entertaining thriller.
February 18, 2013
P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 19 2013, $12.99
In 1893 not every resident of Chicago enjoys the World’s Fair. Sixteen-year-old Emily Wheiler has no time for the Ferris wheels since her Mother Alice died in childbirth along with the male baby. Her angry martinet Father, Barrett, head of the First National Bank of Chicago, loathes his late wife for leaving him no male heir. He demands his daughter ignore her grief and teen girl fantasies to take over her Mother’s hostess duties to the city’s affluent and participate as a member of the General Federation Women’s Club feeding the homeless; as expected of the Lady of Wheiler House.
Frightened by her sire’s rage, she obeys her patriarch and begins the transition to replace her Mother. Emily also realizes something is wrong with her Father as he refers to her as frigid Alice. At her first hosted gala, Emily hits it off with Arthur Simpton but Father forbids her to see him or any male. Fearful of her increasingly abusive Father, she flees Wheiler House when he goes too far; only to have the Goddess of the Night Nyx, Marked her as a vampyre.
The latest House of Night Novella (see Lenobia’s Vow and Dragon Oath) uses Emily’s 1893 journal to tell the tale of her transition from female teenager to Neferet. The journey from coddled teen to Queen of the Night is well written as the Cast team enables readers to feel Emily’s changing myriad of emotions mostly depressingly pessimistic until the sly optimistic climax when she takes action. In spite of fans knowing what happens to Emily as Neferet over a century later, series fans will appreciate her “sweet sixteen” conversion as she finally reacts to her Father’s abuse.
February 1, 2013
The Devil’s Looking Glass
PYR, Feb 5 2013, $17.95
In 1593, Queen Elizabeth’s inner most circle of powerbrokers are afraid of what will happen since black alchemist magician Dr. John Dee vanished in possession of a doomsday weapon of mass destruction, the obsidian mirror that if ignited will cause an inferno around the world. Complicating matters with Dee’s disappearance is the magic defenses that prevent the Unseelie Court from devastating Elizabeth’s England are collapsing as the evil enemy begins turning London into an ice age.
Top operative Will Swyfte and his allies (Carpenter, Strangewayes, and Robert) are assigned to find and bring back to London Dee and the mirror. However, when Will obtains the obsidian mirror, he also learns this magical looking glass might help him solve the haunting mystery of what happened to his beloved missing Jenny abducted by the Fey over a decade ago. Delaying for a personal obsession means the sun will no long rise over England; so outing aside his compulsion to take care of his need, Will pursues Dee into the heart of the Unseelie Court in the New World’s Great Satan.
The third Sword of Albion Elizabethan Era fantasy (see The Scar-Crow Men and The Silver Skull) is an exciting action-packed thriller that once again effortlessly blends the paranormal with the historical. Though some of the key support players seem off their A game, the storyline is fast-paced from the moment Dee thinks with his lower head and never slows down. Readers will enjoy The Devil’s Looking Glass as Will faces a devilish opportunity cost between attempting to save his Jenny and attempting to save his country.
December 18, 2012
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Baen, Dec 4 2012, $25.00
The attack on Pearl Harbor left America especially its Navy reeling in shock and dismay as much of the Pacific Fleet especially the vaunted battle ships were destroyed by the Japanese air assault. Still morale remains high fueled by a need for retaliation. In June 1942, anticipating a glorious victory the US Navy prepares to engage the enemy near Midway. However, before the prime sea battle, Japanese subs sink two American carriers (Enterprise and the Hornet) and their planes and crew. The Japanese Imperial Navy wins an overwhelming victory in the Battle of Midway.
Former assistant principal, Admiral Spruance’s staffer Lieutenant Tim Dane survives the sinking of the Enterprise. At a hospital in Hawaii he meets civilian Nurse Amanda Mallard who is helping him recover from his injuries. Meanwhile the United States struggles to rebound from this pivotal defeat. The Japanese Army invade Alaska and the Navy blockades Hawaii. Admiral Yamamoto, who told the Emperor Japan cannot win the war, orders constant bombing of the American West Coast cities to try to end the hostilities by bringing the fighting to civilians, further crippling morale. As America fights back; Spruance adopts Dane proposal to fully take the war to Japan while the FBI investigates alleged enemy activity inside the country.
The latest Robert Conroy alternative WWII military thriller (see Himmler’s War) focuses on changing the outcome of a pivotal point due to an unfortunate plausible happenchance (if you are the Americans) at the Battle of Midway. However, the overarching premise feels similar to 1942 although that novel used Pearl Harbor as the change agent. Still readers will appreciate Rising Sun as Mr. Conroy brings his exciting version of the war.