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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April 19, 2013
Zombies Don’t Forgive
Medallion Press, Apr 1 2013
After the insane Zerker zombies attack left most residents of Barracuda Bay dead (see Zombies Don’t Cry), three sane zombies (Maddy, Dane, and Stamp) flee town. Their plan is to hide in plain sight from the Sentinel enforcers who demand they face justice. Three months since they went underground, the fugitives mix in amidst the Normals of Orlando; obtaining positions at the Great Movie Monster Makeover show.
Stamp relishes this new environment as he seems to have a different girl each week while Maddy and Dane prefer to stay safe. When Stamp meets enigmatic Val who insists on no pictures, Maddy and Dane become concerned that his girlfriend may be an undercover Sentinel.
The latest amusing Living Dead Love Story continues the zombie misadventures of kill first and ask questions later. Maddy and her two cohorts star in this tale once again primarily targeting the teen crowd, but other zombie-maniacs will enjoy the thriller too. The fab four seem fully developed as Val is devilishly delightful and Stamp an impish trouble magnet; while Maddy and Dane turn to one another. Fans will not forgive Rusty Fischer if he does not provide us with more zombie fever.
March 13, 2013
Calvert the Raven in the Battle of Baltimore: Flying Through History
J. Scott Fuqua
Bancroft Press, Mar 4 2013, $7.99 (trade), $17.99 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781610880787 (trade); 9781610880770 (hardcover)
At school in Baltimore, Daniel studies the boring War of 1812 musing how he will stay awake reading this ennui fight while also wondering why no cameras were invented to at least take still photos. His teacher writes “Terrible” on his report.
Calvert the raven shocks Daniel when he speaks to the lad saying he will prove firsthand that history is exciting. He takes the skeptical student back to 1814 Baltimore where the British army and navy attack Fort McHenry. Explaining to the stunned child that history is fluid as there is a distinct possibility that this time the Star-Spangled Banner may not wave comes morning.
The first Flying Through History tale is a superb historical (with speculative elements like time travel and anthropomorphism) as the illustrations enhance a deep look at the battle that led to the National Anthem. Elementary school students will want to sear back in time with Calvert as he makes his case that history is thrilling using “empirical experience”.
February 26, 2013
St. Martin’s, Feb 26 2013, $7.99
Having been drafted during the war between the Old and New Greek Gods, Army MASH Dr. Petra Robichaud, a hybrid fairy, pulled off a miracle; not the oracle prophesy she fulfilled that led to the cease-fire she fostered as the peacemaker, but instead finding love in Demi-God Commander Galen. As a reward for her valor and diligence, she becomes a part of a special MASH unit to the paranormal.
Her current patient is an over three thousand years old pregnant gorgon who fears telling her parents. After Petra informs Medusa of her delicate condition and telling her to come back for an ultrasound, Galen embarks on a needed but suicidal mission after ending their relationship. Meanwhile her former lover Mark arrives pleading with Petra to investigate a ghost causing havoc amidst the enemy. Neither is prepared for what they confront and learn nor another Oracle Prophecy.
The latest Robichaud MASH unit military urban fantasy is fast-paced from the opening scene in which the Doctor to the Gods (and wannabes) explains to Medusa that she got pregnant the old fashion way and never slows down until the final confrontation. Filled with satirical humor especially with placing the Greek pantheon in a modern day environment and loaded with action, readers will relish the adventures of the Army doctor though it helps to have read Immortally Yours to best understand the Fox mythos.
February 10, 2013
Tor, Mar 19 2013, $24.99
In 1917 at Corrective Camp 479 in the Kaziristani Mountains, guard Taras Demochev bullies the expendable Zek inmates into digging underground inside caverns when allegedly leaches attack. Six hours later, inspectors find one human part, Taras’ hand before poring cement in the tunnel.
In the present Pacific, zoologist Thatcher Redmond lies dead on a raft holding an empty jar that had been filled with fauna he took from recently nuked Henders Island. Crab-boat Captain Tezuka sends three sailors to check strange looking fauna when bugs kill two of them; the third returns with a captured specimen.
Russian tycoon Maxim Dragolovich modernizes Stalin’s underground bunker city Pobedograd. However, something kills his workers preventing the activation of the geothermal power plant. Dragolovich offers four million to recently married biologists Nell and Geoffrey Binswanger to change their honeymoon from Hawaii to the Kaziristani Mountains in order for them to identify the species residing in an unknown underground ecosystem filled with exotic fauna and flora. After barely surviving Henders Island along with Andy Beasley and five alien Hendros (see Fragment), the biologists have doubts, but come anyway. In Russia, the pair’s Henders Island copper-based horrors and much worse in the subterranean lake await to greet them.
The second ecosystem thriller is a terrific SF tale with an underlying horror premise of the creatures from within invading the surface (reminded me of the three versions of The Thing). The key is the use real science to support the concept of a thriving ecosystem beneath the surface. Fast-paced from the frightening 1917 scenario until the vast present day military operation, readers will enjoy Warren Fahy’s latest adventure into a unique nightmarish landscape filled with gruesome predators.
December 23, 2012
The Illustrated Stephen King Movie Trivia Book
Brian James Freeman, Hans Ake Lilja and Kevin Quigley; Illustrated by Glenn Chadbourne, Cemetery Press, Dec 31 2012
ISBN: 9781587673115 (trade – $19.95); 9781587673122 (hardcover – $40.00)
Obviously for fans of the renowned author, this collection asks trivia questions involving fifty four movies based on Mr. King’s works (including Bachman novels like The Running Man), his acting roles not all based on his novels (Nightriders), film sequels and the Dollar Babies (this is new for me; I would love a film festival of them). Each film is given its own chapter with numerous almost all multiple choice questions like whose name is on the bat Wendy used on Jack in the Shining and what cartoon show is Tad watching in Cujo? With over 1,000 questions (many of which were provided by fans) and numerous Glenn Chadbourne Illustrations taken from the movies, readers will enjoy this fun entertaining compilation.
December 5, 2012
Tor Teen, Nov 13 2012, $19.99
The City continues to be divided between the tyrannical Educators and the rebellious Truants. Neither side is prepared to end the conflict as Educators backed by their deadly Enforcers refuse to give up the power of centrally controlling what is learned; while many of the Truants believe the only way to obtain the freedom to think is to overthrow the ruling oligopoly through bloodshed. Thus the Educators and the Truants share in common a dogma that they are totally right and their enemy totally wrong.
While in-fighting continues unabated with the adversaries entrenched, a third party sees an opportunity to take over the City. Unless the Educators and the Truants can unite against a common foe, both will be eliminated.
The third Truancy thriller (see Truancy and Truancy Origins) is an exciting climax that takes an external spin to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” Extremists on both sides reject comprise even with a new threat that endangers both groups. Character driven by reflective rotating leads among the ensemble cast, fans will appreciate this thought provoking tale wondering what will happen to the City.
December 2, 2012
City of Dark Magic
Penguin, Nov 27 2012, $16.00
In Prague, affluent Maximilian Lobkowicz plans to convert the family’s Lobkowicz Palace into a museum. He offers Boston based Ph.D. candidate in neurological musicology Sarah Weston the job of cataloguing the Beethoven manuscripts and determining whether the alleged connection between a royal ancestor of his and the great composer is true. Excited with the work, obsessed over the suicide of her mentor Professor Sherbatsky and encouraged by Jepp the enigmatic dwarf, Sarah accepts the position.
Before she leaves the States someone draws an alchemist symbol on her ceiling. In Prague, Sarah learns the Lobkowicz family is divided into two hostile groups. Trying to remain focused, Sarah begins to find information on Beethoven’s “Immortal Beloved” and on Sherbatsky’s final days. When she tries the time altering drug Jepp gave her; she meets Beethoven, the long dead Lobkowicz princes; alchemists; and Jepp known as Nico back four centuries ago. As she falls in love, Sarah’s blind tweener student Pollina arrives in the Czech Republic to warn her teacher that someone wants her dead.
This is a terrific romantic fantasy that deftly combines time travel and Beethoven with conspiracies four-hundred years ago and today in Prague and DC. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Sarah escapades then and now as she guides us on an exciting lyrical tour of Prague.
November 28, 2012
The Steam Mole
PYR, Dec 4 2012, $16.95
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.
November 21, 2012
Diana Pharaoh Francis
Pocket, Dec 26 2012, $7.99
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.
November 11, 2012
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The Sum of Her Parts
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey, $15.00, Nov 27 2012
Namericans Dr. Ingrid Seastrom and Whispr the emaciated thief continue their effort to understand the data thread made from a material that cannot exist. Each has different motives as Seastrom hopes this is the beginning of saving a planet ravaged by centuries of manmade abuse and Whispr seeks to sell it to the highest bidder.
Genetically enhanced to be an army of one ruthless killer Napun Molé stalks them, they trek across Africa trying to reach a the South African Economic Combine (known as SICK) research facility in the Namib Desert where experiments have occurred. Embarrassed by his failures to assassinate the pair (see Body, Inc. and The Human Blend), Molé needs to kill them as much as for his self-esteem as for his mission. Besides the raging psychopath Molé, Seastrom and Whispr struggles from a lack of water, vicious animals seeking to make them meals and other predators wanting to control the filament.
The action-packed final Tipping Point futuristic industrial espionage science fiction satire is a fast-paced thriller that is fun to read though the constant danger and rescue seems over the top of Namibia’s Brandberg Mountain. Still fans will enjoy the misadventures of the doctor and the thief as the world has gone beyond the Tipping Point of what a human is.