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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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 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.
October 9, 2012
Dunne, Oct 30 2012, $25.99
After the assault by the feral cannibalistic Can Heads left his Brooklyn police bat partner dead and him injured, NYPD police officer Jack Murphy, accompanied by his wife Christie and their two kids (Kate and Simon) go on Vacation to the Upstate fortified Paterville Family Camp. There he and his family eat old fashion real food, drink pure water, and have fun until he sacrifices himself to keep his beloved family safe (see Vacation).
Christie, Kate and Simon are shocked by what happened to their dad, but have no time to grieve if Jack’s last actions are to be meaningful. They barely escape from the Paterville Family Camp, but fear there is no sanctuary anywhere in a world gone mad. Still, the trio struggles to survive from the nightmares they know exist and even more horrid beasts they will soon learn exist.
The second Murphy family post-apocalyptic horror tale is a gripping survivor thriller as three innocents struggle to stay alive. Their ordeal is fast-paced but at times lacks vividness due to the frantic speed of the plot. Still readers will want to travel the road with the Murphy family who believe in Schwartz’s Law as their namesake’s law proves too optimistic.
October 4, 2012
P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
St. Martin’s Griffin, Oct 16 2012, $18.99
After the major disappointment that the Vampyre High Council failed her and her friends when they allowed Neferet to return as the High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night, teenager Zoey Redbird felt alone. However she now has mixed feelings as she feels great that her evil enemy has been exposed, but deeply mourns the loss of her mother to the Darkness, and the death of Dragon killed by the Aurox (see Destined). Thanatos is currently High Priestess at Tulsa’s House of Night. Zoey feels she will finally have time to grieve.
Raging Neferet refuses to vanish into the darkness. She deploys a brilliant stratagem to turn the human populace of Tulsa and the House of Night School residents into enemies. Realizing what the evil one has wrought, Zoey delays her mourning to battle her insidious adversary and to calm the frightened humans before a deadly incident becomes the point of no return.
Hidden begins a different relational dynamic in the exhilarating House of Night urban fantasy as Neferet has lost power and Zoey has gained some with the exposure. Rotating viewpoints, this strong pivotal entry enables readers to understand better what makes key cast members tick in a free will cosmos. Cast to the second power provides a terrific taut thriller as major chaotic change has come to Tulsa.
September 5, 2012
How to Drive a Dragon Crazy
Zebra, Sep 4 2012, $7.99
Eibhear the Blue dragon is part of the fierce Mi-runach special military unit who take on missions that no one with a sane mind would dare. His current assignment is to escort General Izzy the human, who fights for Queen Annwyl, home. The feisty female warrior was attracted to Eibhear but that was ten years ago before he joined the Mi-runach.
Izzy worries about her younger sister Rhianwen whose magic increasingly seems out of control. She and Eibhear enter the deadly Desert Lands to meet with her malevolent grandmother the witch, the only person Izzy knows who could aid her troubled Rhianwen.
The latest Dragon Kin romantic fantasy (see The Dragon Who Loved Me) is an engaging amusing entry starring two previous support characters who prove they can hold a storyline together while mocking and bickering on their way to grandma’s house. The action is fast and furious though the relationship between the protagonists is more straightforward than usual as no rivals soar to cause triangulation tsuris while also transitioning into the next generation. Fans will enjoy this jocular second chance at sarcastic love.
August 9, 2012
How to Lose a Demon in 10 Days
Kensington Brava, Aug 28 2012, $14.00
Grace summons Caspian a crown prince of Hell. He calls her witch and she calls him demon as they strike a deal in which she offers him sex his style and he deals with her problems caused by her former boyfriend violent Russian mobster Michael who legally gained custody of her son Nikolai.
As they team up to send Michael and his demon defender Ethelred on one-way tickets to hell, the witch and the crown prince find the sex heavenly. Grace and Caspian begin to wonder if there is any future beyond the bloody contract while dealing with his heated boss, her bewitching family, the avenging spirit of a hooker, and the Russian mafia.
This is an amusing erotic paranormal romance although the horde of characters requires a scorecard to decide who is on whose side as the cast can overwhelm the plot; hell it is hard to tell who is real or a demon Memorex moment. The twisting storyline is fun while there is also a serious undertone involving violence against women. Fans will enjoy the skin ripping banter between the demon and the witch as we learn “Faust never got laid.”
August 8, 2012
Jeanne C. Stein
Ace, Aug 28 2012, $7.99
Anna Strong misses her new boyfriend Stephen the reporter as Skype is good for greetings but not to exchange bodily fluids. Meanwhile her former human lover Drug Enforcement Agency agent Max informs Anna that he is worried about their friend, Culebra the shapeshifter owner of Beso de la Muerte. She has avoided Cuelbra since she learned about his life as a drug cartel assassin before he quit being a murderer after his family was killed. Additionally Anna has kept her distance from Max too after helping him on a recent case (see Crossroads).
However, Culebra’s friend Julio needs help as a cartel kidnapped his family. Culebra persuades Max to help him as the target is a drug kingpin and he wants Anna to help as as innocent civilians are involved. However, her instincts to stay out of this mission prove correct when betrayal and death stalk her.
The latest Anna Strong Vampire urban fantasy is a great stunner as revenge and redemption prove dangerous for anyone in the way. Fast-paced from the moment Culebra tells his sordid past to Anna and never slowing down; fans of the series will be stunned by this powerful twisting thriller.
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.
July 26, 2012
Hearts Of Darkness
Zebra, Aug 7 2012, $6.99
Norgard assigns Hart the mercenary werewolf to obtain a necklace. He watches the grieving human, alleged wearer of the necklace when Hart notices the ancient adversaries nearby. He muses over the bloody war between the self-proclaimed human protectors Kivati and the Drekar while detesting both sides but feeling the latter are honest in what they want.
Nurse Kayla Friday flies from Philadelphia to Seattle to identify the body in the morgue; her pregnant sister Desi lies dead on the slab. Stunned Kayla begins to do something that has Hart warning her to stop before she dies. He demands she give him the necklace he claims she stole from his employer while shocked that she is human. Hart finds the card of nasty Kivati Raven Lord Emory Corbette amongst Desi’s final possessions. He tells her to run back to Pennsylvania, but his advice proves too late when Rudrick and his thugs enter the morgue. Soon they are teaming up investigating her sibling’s murder, seeking the necklace and falling in an uneasy love that shakes the Aether.
This is an exciting romantic urban fantasy that has a horde of diverse paranormal running wild in the streets of Seattle. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this thriller from the moment Hart tells Kayla to run and never slows down to even a walk as Kira Brady provides a fabulous first act.
July 17, 2012
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Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $15.00
On Celta the Iasc sickness spreads rapidly killing everyone except private investigator Garrett Primross. Although he lived through this lethal plague, Garret grieves the loss of his woman and her baby while also struggling with survivor guilt. Celta healers want to learn why he lived when everyone else dies; he just wants to forget the nightmare but the Iasc sickness returns with a vengeance.
Several years ago healer Artemisia Mugwort Panax’s life imploded when her family was wrongly accused of participating in the Black Magic Cultist murders. Her blood went underground while she struggles to make a career out of being a healer as she is tainted by association. Garrett reluctantly agrees to be infected while Artemisia will serves as his only healer. Each knows they are HeartMates, but he remains in denial and rejection is a way of life for her. When the last missing Black Magic Cultist is executed, the pair and their Famcats are forced to investigate.
The latest Celta romantic fantasy (see Hearts And Sword and Heart Search) centers on two HeartMates, who are so traumatized they reject relationships as each knows even destined love hurts. The pair makes the tale as the guinea pig and the tester must learn to relate if they are to find the cure and identify the killer.