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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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.
January 11, 2013
‘Til The World Ends
Julie Kagawa, Ann Aguirre and Karen Duvall
Luna, Jan 29 2013. $14.95
Dawn of Eden by Julie Kagawa. The Red Lung pandemic devastated much of the world. Kylie is a rare person immune to the horrible disease. As the lethal virus proves even more gruesome to the dead, Kylie finds a slight flicker of hope when she meets Ben. This prequel to the Blood Of Eden post-apocalyptic series (see The Immortal Rules) is an engaging tale due to the lead couple and the Kagawa world.
Thistle & Thorne by Ann Aguirre. Following the toxic chemical spill that destroyed the United States, the affluent and their corporations established safe zones for those who could pay for sanctuary inside of fortresses. Others like Mari Thistle reside as scavengers in the dangerous Red Zone where a friend will kill you for your bottled water. Mari and Thorne Goodman meet and soon uncover a diabolical lethal plot to exterminate Red Zone survivors. The keys to this exhilarating post-apocalyptic thriller are the lead couple and the Aguirre environmentally devastated world.
Sun Storm by Karen Duvall. Sarah Daggot is a storm chaser who is outside when the worst solar flares ever recorded bombard the earth; leaving a devastated planet in its wake. She survives, but the immense radiant that blasted her changed Sarah into a Kinetic, who senses when storms from the sun and elsewhere are coming. When Sarah meets other Kinetics, they team up to prevent the final planetary destruction by the sun. However, to succeed, they need the only dissenter Ian Matthews to join them as they are one short. Sun Storm is an exciting doomsday thriller.
The three novellas contain strong protagonists, fabulous support characters and diverse dark earths.
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.
November 20, 2012
Touch of the Demon
Daw, Dec 31 2012, $7.99
Beaulac, Louisiana Police Detective Kara Gillian is a demon summoner who has a contract with demon Lord Rhyzkahl. However, Rhyzkahl’s apparent rival demon Lord Mzatal summons an uncooperative Kara into the demon realm. Kara expects Rhyzkahl will rescue her, but the Bayou cop is not waiting for that to happen; as she plans to free herself.
While Kara works on her extraction, she also wonders why her abductor wants to end her bond with Rhyzkahl as part of an end game she cannot fathom. She hypothesizes that Mzatal’s objective links with what she knows about FBI agent Ryan Kristoff, but not sure why and how she fits in the demon’s scheme.
The latest Kara Gillian Bayou fantasy (see Mark of the Demon) is a terrific entry that turns the Rowland mythos inside out as the heroine searches for answers to her questions but instead finds betrayal awaits her. Fast-paced, series fans will appreciate this stunning entry though newcomers need to read Sins of the Demon first as that storyline’s cliffhanging climax feeds Touch of the Demon
November 11, 2012
The Thieves of Genesis
William I. Levy
BlackWyrm, Sep 15 2012, $11.95
Irv is driving in Iowa when distracted by boring Heartland music; he fails to see the Hole. In Nexus the Crossroads of the Universe, City Father Timez and his apprentice Calla worry about disappearing humans who are coming home minus a heart. As the pair fight Zarthok “the Merciless” and his gang, Irv and his car drops through a Hole landing on Timez. Calla, after slicing Merciless’ hands, attacks Irv who shocks himself when he uses magic to stop her. Timez comes out of the rubble and assigns Calla and her protector Bumper the assassin to escort Irv to a safe-house.
On their journey, the trio travels through a Hole but fail to reach their destination as someone with power changed the Hole. Instead they land in Post Tarnum earth where the two males become prisoners while Callas is left behind. That changes when a tormentor threatens to capture and torture Calla, which leads Irv into a rage induced magical attack that injures his hands but frees the pair. When they catch up to Calla, she likes her skinny hero being protective of her, but Bumper wonder why this nobody seems be the most powerful mage in the land even if her Irv cannot control his magic.
William I. Levy’s exciting romantic fantasy stars an unlikely hero and a kick butt female warrior. The action-packed storyline is fast-paced throughout while Weng Shu’s words of wisdom at the start of each chapter adds humorous commentary. Although the extremely short chapters (averaging just over four pages per chapter) keeps the cast thin (even Rubensque Calla), readers will have a great time following the misadventures of The Thieves of Genesis.
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.
Tyler’s Third Act
Mick Garris; William Stout (Illustrator)
Cemetery Dance, Sep 2012, $35.00
Tyler Sparrow’s first act was as a television script writer. That gig ended with the 2007 Writers Guild strike as the stations’ management and accountant learned viewers loved cheaper reality shows so they inundated the market during and after the strike. Script writers like Tyler were unemployed in his second act.
Desperate as he is running out of resources, Tyler creates a third act. He develops a bloody gory show You Want a Piece of Me for an Internet only audience with a final curtain call that he believes will make him a household name as he will satiate the blood-curdle mob.
Mindful of the movie Network, Tyler’s Third Act shines a discomforting spotlight on reality shows and the culture that supports these shows through spectators observing a Christians and the Lions last person-beast standing competition as each new gig requires increasing violence. With strong illustrations enhancing the plot, readers will act like Tyler’s audience macabrely fascinated with a need to know the climax of Tyler’s Third Act in what is a solid contemporary allegory.
October 20, 2012
The 13: Fall
Robbie Cheuvront and Erik Reed
Barbour, Sep 1 2012, $12.99
In 2025, The Prophet begins sending warnings to the President of the United States that the Lord’s reckoning of judgment day is coming if the country does not return to the true faith. Concerned about national security as the messages threaten the country with terrorism but also fearing the source may be God, POTUS assigns an elite team to capture The Prophet. CIA agent Jon Keene blames God for his wife’s death, FBI computer hacker Megan Taylor is a devout Christian; and former special ops warrior Bozwell Hamilton has become a pastor.
At the same the trio searches for The Prophet, they struggle to form into a viable group as Keene ridicules the notion of Godly intervention labeling the prophet as a terrorist; while Boz somewhat embraces the concept of heavenly fire and brimstone on a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. At the same time, a high ranking official betrays the country by enabling the Chinese to enter America allegedly to drill for oil.
The first installment of The 13 is an exhilarating fast-paced suspense thriller in which trends since 9/11 are extrapolated one decade into the future. As the lead threesome go through the phases of Tuckman’s Model of Group Development especially with their debates re God, the readers will want to know whether the Prophet is the Lord’s messenger or a terrorist.
October 9, 2012
The Tangled Bridge
Tor, Oct 30 2012, $14.99
Tulane University Professor Madeleine LeBlanc, a psychologist, researched her family heritage in an attempt to avoid the shortcomings caused by the unique ability to see things that others cannot. She fears joining the long list of members committing suicide like her brother did (see A Twisted Ladder).
Madeleine vow to never use her power ends when she learns that Zenon, her great-grandmother Chloe the Voodoo Queen and their demons hunt a little boy she obsesses over keeping safe though he is the one who destroys her and her family. She and her friend Tulane neurologist Ethan Manderleigh finds a corpse physically murdered by a tall big woman controlled by someone else probably Chloe. Madeline looks back to the 1930s in New Orleans for answers to how to defeat her relatives.
The second Madeleine LeBlanc exciting urban psychological suspense fantasy is a family good and evil affair. Maddy is a complex individual who fears her bloodlines (either inheriting the darkness of century plus old malevolent Chloe or the schizophrenia of her father). The leisurely-paced convoluted storyline is atmospherically driven giving the plot a modern day bayou gothic feel. Not for everyone, fans who appreciate something interesting but different will want to cross The Tangled Bridge where past and present converge.
October 5, 2012
Next Page »
A Trace of Moonlight
Pocket, Oct 30 2102, $7.99
Maurice possesses the Key to the CrossRoads after stealing it from Abby Sinclair the TouchStone. Meanwhile Abby marries Elven Prince Talivar though her new mother-in-law wants to make her son a widower. However, a honeymoon must wait unto after she retrieves the Key.
The two rival males still vie for her affection yet Talivar and former incubus now mortal Brystion vow to help Abby when she confronts Maurice who threatens to terminate OtherWorld. Phineas the mini-unicorn joins their odyssey. To succeed she first must figure out the loophole in a deal she agreed to with a daemon that she does not remember occurring or what the pact is. Then she needs a replacement sacrifice for the Faerie Tithe or she dies for the second time.
The latest Abby Sinclair (see A Sliver of Shadow and A Brush of Darkness) fantasy is a taut good and evil thriller as each of the fab four knows what they voluntarily need to give up if they have any chance to prevent Maurice’s paranormal genocide from happening. Fast-paced with jocular graveyard bantering that at times feels out of place, fans will relish the confrontation between loving sacrifice and end of the world malevolence.