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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April 8, 2013
Viking Adult, Mar 26 2013, $27.95
A decade has passed since art historian V.A. Verlaine last saw his beloved Sister Evangeline Cacciatore with wings on the Brooklyn Bridge (see Angelology). Since that haunting epitome, Verlaine, mentored by Bruno to lead in the humanity’s war against angels, has become a diligent rigid angel hunter with a blind devotion to eliminate their kind’s rogues though he uses a wider definition of his prey than the Society of Angelology.
Near the Eifel Tower, Verlaine watches a mutilated angel’s electric blue blood flow onto the street. Not impacted with observing death, Verlaine’s coldness turns to shock when he looks at the late angel’s identification; a New York State driver’s license issued to Evangeline Cacciatore. Meanwhile Godwin the angelologist scientist abducts Evangeline. He takes her to his research center compound in the Bulgarian Mountains where he studies the “Watcher” Fallen Angels seeking a toxin that will enable him to control Nephilim for personal reasons.
The sequel to Angelology continues the exciting human-angel conflict with a suspense laden thriller although Evangeline is mostly off stage. Though Godwin is a stereotype of the mad scientist, readers will enjoy the action-packed European adventures of the star-crossed lovers as Verlaine receives a horrific awakening in Paris.
December 3, 2012
David C. Cook, Jan 1 2013, $9.99
Chris Buckley knows his preference is to quit like his mom did to the bottle, but his conscience refuses to allow him to surrender even to Temptation. He has learned much about his dark DNA since coming to Solitary, North Carolina; home of his family, Pastor Marsh and other evil. Chris believes he is the chosen one to save the townsfolk though he has doubts he is up to the task having been unable to keep his beloved safe while facing one failed attempt after another until he just about gave up and fled town.
Now he is back in Solitary with renewed spirit and hope as he accepts his only ally is his belief that God is on his side. Distrusting everyone else especially family, Kelsey and religious icons, Chris with faith as his armor prepares for the final battle against evil with his soul and that of others on the line.
The final Solitary young adult tale (see Gravestone and Solitary) is an intriguing climax to a strong saga. The reluctant hero knows the time of reckoning cannot put off any longer though he prefers the Temptation of just being a teen while ignoring the wickedness that engulfs the town. Although it behooves the audience to read the previous entries to learn how far Chris has come, Travis Thrasher provides a powerful finish as the young champion faces benign-looking evil at stake is redemption of many souls vs. the loss of his.
November 10, 2012
Ashes of Twilight
St. Martin’s Griffin, Nov 13 2012, $9.99
In 1878 English astronomers detected a comet heading straight to earth. Mankind constructed the great glass Dome to protect the royals and selected others from the comet that ultimately burned the sky.
One hundred and ninety-eight years after people moved inside the Dome, some residents want out. Alex a Shiner tells his friend Wren that “The sky is blue” outside the Dome before he tries to escape the smog-laden city. Alex fails in his attempt; his body burned and placed on display as a warning to other wannabe radicals. However, Alex’s efforts stir Wren to begin a quest with friends at her side even as civil war seems imminent inside the Dome especially with coal running out.
The first Ashes of Twilight post-apocalyptic thriller is a great environmental cautionary tale starring a wonderful coming of age heroine. The Taylor world inside the Dome seems genuine as the residents face the scarcity of the non-renewable energy source at a time when the 1% remains disinterested in what happens to the masses as long as their lifestyle remains intact. Action-packed, fans will appreciate this strong alternate vision of a world struggling to survive two centuries after the great cataclysmic comet changed the planet.
October 10, 2012
Halo: The Thursday War
Tor, Oct 2 2012. $15.99
In 2553, the Unified Earth’s Office of Naval Intelligence assigns psyops unit Kilo-Five to occupy the Sangheili Covenant by causing internal troubles so that the enemy loses sight of what earth is doing to insure their permanent defeat. To accomplish their mission, the black-ops squad first must prevent the Covenant’s former military leaders the Elites from regaining control and second foster a civil war.
On recently liberated Onyx, the ONI interrogates captured Elite Jun Mdama who has his own plans for the human enemies. Meanwhile all is going well in Sangheili until Captain Serine Osman reports back to headquarters in Sydney that she lost contact with her Sangheili language and cultural awareness expert Professor Evan Phillips. Besides never leaving behind anyone and in this case his knowledge is too valuable to ignore, Osman knows she needs to mount an extraction from Sangheili unaware the professor is knee deep in Forerunner technology.
This is an exciting fresh spin to the Halo universe as the second post-war (see Glasslands) occurs after Halo 3 has several key players fascinatingly looking back at the moral decisions they made especially with deployment of the Spartans during the hostilities. The other major subplot is a deep look at the enemy’s civil war. Fans of the game will enjoy this tale though will need to adjust to the relatively minor role of the Spartans as they were created for war, so with a tentative peace their action is much less than it has been.
September 17, 2012
Werewolf in Denver
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Signet, Oct 2 2012, $7.99
Werecon2012 hosted in Estes Park near Denver focuses on the theme of “Our future in a changing environment.” Scottish were Duncan MacDowell the founder of Werewolves Optimizing Our Future (WOOF) and American were Kate Stillman the founder of “Honoring Our Werewolf Legacy” will debate marriage to human partners. Duncan supports the Wallace Experiment (see Werewolf in the North Woods and A Werewolf in Manhattan) while Kate believes that interspecies relationships are doomed to fail.
When the head WOOF and head HOWLER meet, they are chagrined by their attraction to each other. As they fight their feelings, he knows making her his mate will destroy his work and affirm hers. She knows he only will wed a human to validate his belief. Love may not be enough for this arguing pair.
The latest Wild About You romantic urban fantasy (see Werewolf in Seattle) is a clever lighthearted tale that will remind readers of the marriage between Mary Matalin and James Carville but with fur literally flying. The storyline is fast-paced as the lead couple fights each other and their respective hearts.
September 7, 2012
Kensington Aphrodisia, Aug 28 2012, $14.00
The three Alexandre Brothers (Drako, Talen and Malek) have been the leaders of the Black Gryffon for a decade since their father retired at fifty; as expected. Although Drako as the oldest is top griffin, his siblings understand the mission is to protect humanity and keep secret the sources of humanity’s power safe from the covetous Chimera. Proud of his offspring, their father reminds them it is time for wives and children so that they too can retire at fifty like he did.
Drako has found his woman Rin (see Darkest Fire). As the second Malek believes he has selected his mate in former sex slave Lei. However, though she is attracted to him, they have a problem with their relationship since both are doms. Adding further complications are Male is in a relationship with Brent and the Chimera targets Lei.
The second Black Gryffon erotic Celtic fantasy romance is an action-packed thriller with an intriguing love between two doms arguing who’s on top. However, neither protagonist feels three dimensional though sub-genre fans, especially those who read Darkest Fire, will enjoy the heated courtship.
August 6, 2012
Harper Voyager, Aug 21 2012, $14.99
At two in the morning, Josh White calls his sleeping private investigator partner and former lover Calliope Jenkins to ask her to tell his wife Laurel what is going on. After hanging up, the clawed thing tells Josh he is home before killing him. Her live-in lover is irate over the call; Calliope apologizes before telling him to move out.
Police Detective Darryl Johnson and Federal Special Agent Walker question Calliope after informing her that the body of Josh was found just outside Harper’s Ferry, Iowa. On her answering machine is a static call from Josh time stamped two hours after he died. Calliope looks over Josh’s files before heading to Iowa, but ends up in the Hidden Lands.
This is an exciting noir urban fantasy starring a wonderful heroine who seeks answers only to find more questions as she investigates the murder of her friend. Vikous her guide and mentor brings an aura of mystery to this enjoyable whodunit as the clues are not what they first seem. Though the amusing teasing between the protagonist and her companion can become distracting, readers will enjoy visiting the Hidden Land.
August 3, 2012
The Black Isle
Grand Central, Aug 7 2012, $24.99
In 1922, Ling was born a few minutes before her brother Li. She was the stronger of the twins so starting with the midwife and her parents, Chinese society blamed her for being a female. Her family doted on the male hero while Ling was treated as a lesser sidekick. However, over the next few years Li took care of his sister. When they are seven, they sneak to the park where an old man encourages Li to break the neck of a cat, which he does to the horror of Ling. His action causes a schism between the twins and she suddenly has the ability to see ghosts.
Leaving their mom behind, the twins and their father leave Shanghai during the Japanese occupation sailing to the Black Isle though lonely Ling watched a young ghost swim and kept her brother alive though their blood connection. Lonely Ling sees ghosts everywhere in the Black Isle but ignores them except when her once gentle but abusive father and other men in her life make demands of her. Deciding to embrace her talent, she changes her name to Cassandra.
This is a powerful twentieth century paranormal historical anchored in a gruesome realism that displays the worst of humanity. The storyline reads like an autobiography as Ling-Cassandra tells her epic adventures during several troubled decades. Ling’s voice makes for a discerning at times grisly (and repulsive but apropos) thriller in which fans will want to tour The Black Isle during this tumultuous era.
June 28, 2012
The Coldest War
Tor, Jul 17 2012, $25.99
The Soviet Union is winning the Cold War against Great Britain. By 1963, only the warlocks keep the Soviets from annexing the British Isles; however it is just a matter of time before the superpower crosses the Channel as each time a British wizard dies, the power balance shifts in favor of the Soviets.
Meanwhile, twins Gretel and Klaus were once Nazi experiments who became Soviet research specimens. Now with Gretel using her precognitive skills, to guide them while Klaus uses his super strength to break impenetrable barriers, they escape. Their destination is British secret agent Raybould Marsh as she has visions of him. Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk are caught in Milkwood while the Eidolons threaten both sides in the Coldest War.
Though this ends up as a middle book with no conclusion, readers will appreciate this strong alternate historical fantasy. Ian Tregillis cleverly captures the Cold War paranoia and anything goes attitude including collateral damage (that Neocons apparently still cling too like a comforting blanket) with Marsh beginning to question whether the end ever justifies the means. Gretel makes the storyline work as her twisting plot deploys. Readers will enjoy the second Milkweed Triptych (see Bitter Seeds) as the world spins on its axis or does it.
June 20, 2012
Next Page »
Atria/Emily Bestler Books, July 3 2012, $26.00
In 1537, the world’s greatest magus Johannes Faust plans on his resurrection. He places a piece of his soul into a mirror and buries all magic inside a ring.
His school expels fifteen year old Gavin Stokes for insisting he sees ghosts. His parents are at the end of their rope after he rushes into their bedroom claiming Miss Grey said his mom was dead. Since they received a hand written note from Aunt Gwen, his mom and dad exile the troubled teen to Pendurra, the Cornish estate where Aunt Gwen the flighty wiccan is the housekeeper. At Pendurra, Gavin meets other people who claim to have seen paranormal essences; most have suffered from the ridicule of others. When he and his new friends find a box containing a mirror and a ring, they unwittingly release the return of magic onto an unsuspecting world.
Advent is a great urban fantasy that uses everyday items like flowers to show the return of magic. The cast is solid especially the teen protagonist who finds rusticating unhealthy as he has doubts as to whom he can trust. Rotating perspective though most of the action occurs in the present as the two subplots converge, fans will enjoy this good and evil struggle with the betting line on the bad guys (and gals).