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.
Please feel free to use the links below to navigate to book reviews alphabetically, either by Author Name, or Book Title, or else use the main left-hand links to main genres, or most recent reviews.
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December 5, 2012
L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Tor, Jan 22 2013, $27.99
Quaeryt’s brother-in-law, the ruler of Telaryn Lord Bhayar, names him subcommander in the army that is about to punish Bovaria for its recent annexation invasion of their kingdom as part of an effort to unite the five squabbling nations into what it once was as Lydar. Realizing the opportunity to prove the value of imagers like him, Quaeryt logically plans to display leadership, courage, worthiness and loyalty when he takes his unit into combat so that he and his peers become accepted by society as heroic rather than the pariahs they currently are.
However, Quaeryt’s obsession costs the lives of many of his troops in battle yet accomplish little in terms of acceptance. Even with the heroics performed by him and his soldiers, the anti-Imager adversaries at Lord Bhayar’s court and in the military continue their unrelenting assault on Quaeryt and his Imager peers.
The latest Imager Portfolio fantasy (see Princeps and Scholar) is a fascinating tale as brilliant Quaeryt learns that his rational thinking does not mean others will do likewise regardless of what he and his unit achieve. Though there is limited action considering this is a military thriller, series fans still will enjoy the thought provoking concepts generated mostly by a hero with a deep need to belong.
November 20, 2012
The Armageddon Rag
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, Jan 30 2007, $16.00
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.
November 9, 2012
Tears of Rain
AmazonCrossing, Nov 27 2012, $14.95
In the United States of Earth, thirty one years old Bruna Husky actually has lived for only six years and will die in four when her time expires. Though she has memories of a childhood, Bruna learns her recall of events over six years ago are false imprints; as she is a techno-human created in a lab to do work humans do not want to perform.
In 2109 in Madrid, there has been an angry assault on replicants; many murdered before there expiration date ends their lives. Detective Bruna Husky investigates the violent mysterious deaths of her peers; knowing she will likely end up like her dead colleagues. As she follows leads, Bruna realizes that behind the serial killings there is a world-wide conspiracy to take control of the globe.
With a nod to Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Tears of Rain is an exhilarating futuristic thriller that looks deeply into the psychology of being an individual with no rights who knows their shut off date yet possessing feelings similar to their human creators. The well written investigation enables the audience to compare the social and political realm of the natural born with the lab born in a divided world in which origin prejudice is prevalent. Although the prose at times feels out of place with a persistent Pollyanna optimism instead of Bruna’s dark environs, fans will enjoy the techno-human investigating the serial killing of techno-humans.
November 6, 2012
Ballantine, Nov 27 2012, $7.99
Once an outcast due to her compulsive obsessive behavior, exiled Natalya Stravinsky looks forward to rejoining her South Toms River, New Jersey werewolf pack. However, before she can come home, the Russian Mafia werewolf pack abducts her father. Putting aside her OCD to hoard holiday ornaments, Nat plans to rescue her dad.
Her ex-lover Thorn Grantham insists on helping her while her current boyfriend Nick the wizard wants to be there for her too. They head to Atlantic City on her quest while a who’s who of the supernatural stalk Nat for the mysterious goods she needs to deliver.
The second Natalya Stravinsky suburban romantic fantasy (See Coveted) is an amusing thriller due to a cast of neurotic and psychotic paranormal from several species. Nat remains a terrific, unique protagonist suffering from OCD, which can just as easily subtract or enhance her kick butt skills. The road trip with Thorn is fun as Nat the hoarder fights her attraction to two males and a sicko paranormal horde.
October 17, 2012
James A. Moore
Cemetery Dance, Nov 1 2012, $35.00
While her husband Tom brings in the income, Kathy Erinson is a stay at home mom caring for their three children. In her little spare time, she enjoys sketching, which she finds relaxing. Currently she is drawing the family farm’s landscapes, a place she is fond of and where she lived as a child.
Her only bad memory from childhood is her then tweener friend Mickey vanishing, along with five other children, without a trace. Over the years the cases grow cold. Several pleasant hours pass until she goes to meet her children at the bus stop. As the bus pulls away from the stop, a stunned Kathy swears she sees Mickey silently screaming inside. Over the next few days Kathy begins to recall forgotten memories of Mickey which Tom notices in her most recent drawings. Seeking closure, Kathy investigates in spite of distrusting her spotty memories in which she is not sure they happened and that many of those who lived in town the year that Mickey disappeared are dead or moved away.
This is a taut horror thriller as readers will wonder what is happening to Kathy and why. Enhanced by several grim B&W sketching (mindful of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”), readers will relish this taut novella in time for a scary Halloween.
October 11, 2012
The Cassandra Project
Jack McDevitt and Mike Resnick
Ace, Nov 6 2012, $25.95
In 2019, the United States remains in the throes of the Great Recession. Federal agencies are cut to the bone so that there is little strategic planning when surviving daily operations has become the norm. In that environs, NASA press director agent Jerry Culpepper is a long term thinker grounded in reality.
Jerry releases material from the 1960s Apollo mission that contains a shocking recording between Houston and Sydney Myshko, captain of the first test mission to circle the moon on which the astronaut says he is landing. In the second test mission, astronaut Aaron Walker wrote in his diary that he walked on the moon. Two now deceased men and apparently a few others claim to have taken that “… giant leap for mankind” before Armstrong did. Jerry seeks the truth while trying to contain what seems to be a scandalous cover-up that capitalist Bucky Blackstone plans to exploit for his private enterprise moon landings. President George Cunningham realizes he loses credibility no matter what happens.
This is a superb NASA thriller that works because the key players seem genuine especially in how they react to the information as it is found. With a nod to the movie Capricorn One but with realistic people and critically no odious villains, fans will want to know if Armstrong was fifth in the batting order and why the four astronauts to precede him were not acknowledged as walking on the moon.
October 6, 2012
Angels at the Table
Ballantine, Oct 23 2012, $18.00
Three angelic amigas (Shirley, Goodness and Mercy) and their apprentice Will visit the in-spot Times Square on New Year’s Eve to enjoy the festivities. As the Big Apple countdown winds down, Will notices two lonely people. Though he knows rule number on in the guardian angel handbook states no interference with humans, Will feels these two are made for each other; so he cause a slight bumping between Lucie Farrara and Aren Fairchild. At midnight Lucie and Aren kiss stunning both of them. However, whether the time was wrong or some other reason, the wannabe chef and the food critic go their separate ways.
Months pass with the couple remembering that enchanted midnight moment but never expect lightning to strike twice. Meanwhile the three bungling matchmaking angels try to rectify the inept rookie’s mistake, but each effort they make to correct the problem only sends Lucie and Aren further apart; as a universal law they seem unable to overcome is that a chef and a critic are like oil and water even when love binds them.
The latest Shirley, Goodness and Mercy holiday romantic fantasy is an entertaining lighthearted Christmas tale. Filled with humor, fans will enjoy the wonderful Angels at the Table even if the thin storyline follows the narrow path of least resistance that readers anticipate.
October 5, 2012
Pocket, Oct 30 2102, $7.99
Former special ops soldier Chase Noble has never truly found a place where he feels he belongs. Though frustrated, he continues to seek somewhere he can call home. Whether it is his Fae progeny or not, Chase senses he is destined to do something important once he arrives at “home.”
Her evil half-brother keeps Christiana MacDowylt imprisoned so he can use her paranormal gift of seeing the future. Christiana sees a warrior rescuing her, but her champion lives seven centuries into the future. Using fairy magic, she brings Chase back to her time to save her from her wicked sibling. Chase feels at home when he is at the side of Christiana, who never foretold he was more than just her champion.
The second MacDowylt clan time travel fantasy romance is an exhilarating thriller as this time the hero goes back from the present to the medieval era; reversing the trip of Warrior’s Redemption. Fast-paced fans will relish this modern day warrior fighting with seemingly primitive arms, but love proves the strongest weapon in his arsenal.
September 29, 2012
PYR, Oct 2 2012, $16.95
Summerside High student Ephraim “Eph” Scott found the coin that when flipped seemingly granted wishes. However, the quarter proved much more complex than simple magic as he learns basic multiverse physics since the coin is a cosmic traveling machine that sent him into alternate realities (see Fair Coin).
One year has passed since he stopped an evil version of his best friend Nathan from destroying his loved ones. The coin no longer works as he used its power to repair the evil Nathan’s destruction of the alternate universes. He gave it to his girlfriend Jena as part of a necklace. However, Zoe, a Jena counterpart from another realm arrives needing his help. Nathanial has sent an SOS. Unsure how Zoe got to his plane of existence since his coin died, Eph, accompanied by the two identical yet different girls he likes, investigates. They learn the multiverse is slowly committing suicide.
The second Coin science fiction is a terrific young adult thriller that makes great use of chaos theory and teen romantic angst. At times frantic-paced, yet the key triangle thrives and insures that Quantum Coin stays anchored. E.C. Myers provides a fabulous tale as seemingly heads the multiverse dies and tails the multiverse dies.
September 26, 2012
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Merge /Disciple: Two Short Novels from Crosstown to Oblivion
Tor, Oct 2 2012, $24.99
“Merge.” Lottery winner Raleigh Redman finds an alien in his home. He calls the ET Wood since the creature arrived on earth as a dead tree branch who, like others from their homeworld, needs to merge on earth to survive.
“Disciple.” Data entry minion Trent Tryman hates his tedious job. His life changes when he finds himself saving civilization.
The second double Crosstown to Oblivion novellas (see The Gift of Fire/On the Head of a Pin) contains two engaging science fiction tales though both themes have been used before.