Alternative Worlds: Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Reviews

03rd April 2015

Fantasy and sci-fi book reviews

Alternative Worlds 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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Latest Reviews

March 8, 2014

Hope Rearmed-David Drake and S.M. Stirling

Hope Rearmed
David Drake and S.M. Stirling
Baen, Mar 4 2014, $14.00
ISBN: 9781476736303

“The Anvil.” Civil Government Governor Barholm Clerett fears popular General Raj “Savior of the State” Whitehall will overthrow him in a coup. At a council meeting to discuss invading the Brigade lost territories, Chancellor Robert Tsetzas wants to delay military action due to costs accrued by the previous action. Thus when Raj asks for forty thousand troops, he receives eighteen thousand. Accompanied by his wife Suzette who runs the civilian side of the invasion, Raj leads his troops to Stern Isle where he expects little resistance until the assault on Wager Bay, a powerful impenetrable fort.

“The Steel.” Whitehall’s troops take back Crown Peninsula and Lion City, but he knows they face overwhelming odds as the Brigade army outnumbers his forces by 5 to 1. Still they march forward destroying Brigade defenses and freeing towns on the road to Old Residence. The Brigade forces led by Ingreid Manfrond, with Howyrd Carstens providing the brains behind the counter operation, also head towards Old Residence. As the battle begins, a betrayal leaves Whitehall and his army in peril.

Hope Rearmed is an exciting reprinting of books 3 and 4 in the thrilling General science fiction saga (see Hope Reborn for the opening tales The Forge and The Hammer). The terrific blending of nineteenth and twentieth century technology within a feral Holy Roman Empire feudal society on a divided world makes for a strong background. However, it is the grim dark realism of war (in spite of comic book heroics by Raj) and the worship of the silent Computer who abandoned the people but left behind the bible (manuals) that make for a fabulous read.

Harriet Klausner

November 6, 2013

Star Corpsman: Abyss Deep-Ian Douglas

Star Corpsman: Abyss Deep
Ian Douglas
Harper Voyager, Oct 29 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061894770

Navy Hospital Corpsman Elliot “Doc” Carlyle understands firsthand the “hurry up and wait” credo of the military as he boringly sits inside a Katy orbital transport with 41 marines of Bravo Company. Their mission is to end a hostage situation on earth orbiting mining asteroid Atun 3840’s Capricorn Zeta before the neo-Ludds crash the rock into the planet. The platoon and Doc deploy their search and seize operation. Doc saves the life of injured Corporal Morrisey and a hurt M’nangat while his comrades in arms prevent the terrorist plot. However, as Doc does a DNA sweep, a newsie catches him in action, which violates security protocol during a combat mission.

Instead of a court martial, General Craig exiles Doc on a mission to the harsh watery planet GJ 1214 I better known as Abyssworld in which the oceans are boiling or frozen. On the Haldane vessel he, other Corpsman and a marine scout-recon element will investigate why the planet’s research facility abruptly went silent. Upon reaching their destination, an alien combat vessel floats above the planet while below the glacier awaits something even more feral than the combative orbiting enemy.

Star Corpsman Book Two (see Bloodstar) is an exhilarating military science fiction tale that feels genuine due to the extrapolation of modern day technology into the future; the medical data that Doc uses is relatively easy to follow and enhances the sense of being on the combat and first contact missions in outer space. Doc is a terrific lead character who holds the storyline in place while in and out of trouble with his by the SOPs superior officers back in headquarters. Action-packed throughout, Ian Douglas provides another entertaining thriller.

Harriet Klausner

July 6, 2013

A Spy To Die For-Kris DeLake

A Spy To Die For
Kris DeLake
Sourcebooks, Jul 2 2013, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402262852

Skylight “Sky” Jones may be the offspring of two assassins but killing someone is not in her nature. Thus, Sky works as a spy for the Assassins Guild to pay back what she owes them. She is at Starcatcher Restaurant on the grimy Krell Space Station eating a delicious bacon double cheeseburger when Rovers unsanctioned assassin Jack Hunter asks the waitress to serve him outside the diner because of his humongous height and size. Sky allows him to sit at her table.

Jack and Sky are instantly attracted to one another. However, working for assassin organizations, regardless which one, means trust no one; and working for rival assassin organizations means especially don’t trust your heart. When elite assassins target the pair, each realizes survival means teaming up for a chance to live or dying alone.

The second Assassins Guild romantic science fiction romance (see Assassins in Love) is an engaging thriller based on the generally accepted concept by society that assassinations are normal and that a dive on a slimy rock makes the best burgers in the universe. The two fully developed espionage agents are a wonderful pairing of “unreliable” rivals forced to unite against common foes. Although the main adversary is underdeveloped, readers will appreciate this enjoyable space station gender war.

Harriet Klausner

June 15, 2013

Sleeping With The Entity-Cat Devon

Filed under: Author: D,Fantasy,Title: S

Sleeping With The Entity
Cat Devon
St. Martin’s, Jun 4 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780312591465

In Chicago, Danielle Delaney plans to open up Heavenly Cupcakes, but the neighborhood business association led by bar and grill owner Nick St. George oppose Little Miss Cup Cake. Danielle cannot fathom why, as Nick hides his real reason from her. He and his clan of vampires want to stay below the radar and she would be the first crack in their concealment.

He tries to compel her to obey his order to leave, but shocking Nick and his clan she ignores his efforts. Instead Danielle uses her red velvet cupcakes to win support, but shocking her no one seems to have a sweet tooth for her sugary concoctions as this group prefers liquid red. As she opens up Heavenly Cupcakes, Nick becomes her protector only wondering who will keep her safe from his desire to taste her.

Sleeping With the Entity is a fun lighthearted vampire romance. The protagonists are a delightful coupling while the support cast is eccentric. The storyline cleverly uses irony to add humor (for instance, Danielle tells her friend that “all the good men are taken … the rest are vampires.”) to an engaging paranormal romance.

Harriet Klausner

May 13, 2013

Deep Space-Ian Douglas

Deep Space
Ian Douglas
Harper Voyager, Apr 30 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780062183804

Two decades have passed since the truce agreement with the Sh’daar ended hostilities and led to a cold war rivalry. The earth hero of that war (see Singularity), then Admiral Alexander Koenig is now president; so remains diligently alert for further combat especially in disputed areas as the enemy is known for its bellicose attitude towards other races.

Lately Sh’daar attacks on the Earth Confederation outposts and vessels have begun. Neither President Koenig or other leaders know why the hostilities have started again though most expected it to occur at some time; nor who the alien ally of their feral foe is as the Sh’daar, who trusts no other species, has deployed advanced weaponry they did not previously possess. Trevor Grey commands the Koenig’s old ship the CVS America as he heads into what appears to be the second war zone with neither side cognizant of the Black Rosette.

The fourth exciting Star Carrier science fiction saga (see Center Of Gravity) is an engaging Deep Space thriller as 2424 comes alive in Ian Douglas’ entertaining series of two species at each other’s throat. The storyline focuses on outer space race relationships and what has happened to key participants in the last war. Although there is too much repetitiveness of events especially slowing down the early storyline, fans will enjoy the heating up of the cold war conflict.

Harriet Klausner

May 2, 2013

Dark Wolf-Kate Douglas

Filed under: Author: D,Fantasy,Title: D

Dark Wolf
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia, Apr 30 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758288189

Alex Aragut calls his best friend Lily Cheval to tell her another raped and murdered victim was found near the Chanku Pack home in Montana. Living in San Francisco, Lily knows that makes five in her home state and three in her adopted city. She fears the rogue ripping out throats like a wolf will bring the humans agitated by Aldo to hunt her Chanku.

Sebastian and Lily attend the same gala. She wonders if he is shifter and evil like his father. He believes her aura is incredible. Lily is attracted to Sebastian but senses a dark magic yet it is not malevolent like his father. They run as wolves together, but abruptly he acts possessed and goes to rape her. Lily gets Sebastian back to normal. Sebastian is ashamed with what he did though he does not remember it. She shocks him when she invites him to her place for sex as both knows there is a connection beyond heat. However, evidence mounts that he is the rapist-killer.

The first Spirit Wild next generation Chanku romantic fantasy stars a nice surprising pairing as fans expected the two oldest offspring (Alex and Lily) to mate; instead each found a different mate (his being another pack offspring). The underlying premise of whether Sebastian is a murderer-rapist is deftly handled. Although the Chanku leaders failure to follow up on rogue military shifters seem out of character for these extremely cautious individuals, readers will appreciate Kate Douglas continuing her fabulous saga with a super twisting thriller.

Harriet Klausner

February 28, 2013

How To Seduce An Angel In 10 Days-Saranna DeWylde

Filed under: Author: D,Fantasy,Title: H

How To Seduce An Angel In 10 Days
Saranna DeWylde
Kensington Brava, Feb 26 2013, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758269171

Irate Falcon Cherrywood believes his punishment does not fit the crime. He admits he shot that pest Cupid in the butt with a fireball, injuring the pink-winged angel. However, he feels replacing Cupid is cruel and anti-angelic punishment since he does not believe in love. To make matters worse, he also is assigned Parole Officer duty.

His criminal is Drusilla “Tally” Tallow, who was sentenced for ten days for knocking the temporary love angel off his broom out of frustration of always finding love in the wrong places with the worst heavenly misanthropes. As Falcon and Tally fall in love, she fears the replacement Cupid will prove a pain in the ass; she’s just not sure whose.

The latest amusing “How to … in 10 Days” romantic fantasy (see How to Marry a Warlock in 10 days) is an amusing madcap tale. A lighthearted frolic, fans will laugh at the antics of Tally and Falcon; as each has strong reasons to ignore their attraction.

Harriet Klausner

February 23, 2013

The Office Of Mercy-Ariel Djanikian

The Office Of Mercy
Ariel Djanikian
Viking, Feb 21 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780670025862

Three centuries ago in reaction to Malthus proven right by 59 billion residents, domed biospheres like America-Five were created. Soon after those who went inside, the Alpha release the Storm that causes pandemic destruction reducing the planet’s population to a few hundred thousand and making the surface hostile. Inside, there is abundance. To achieve their merciful vision of World Peace, Eternal Life, and All Suffering Ended, America Five established the Office of Mercy. Their mission to perform mercy killing sweeps of the starving tribes just outside their dome in order to end the suffering of these plighted poor souls.

Twentyish Citizen Natasha Wiley an Epsilon is assigned to the Office of Mercy as a tracker of the tribes who venture within fifty miles of the dome. Her boss and love interest Jeffrey a Gamma assigns her to reset monitoring sensors on her first venture outside the dome while reminding her that the key to stepping outside is to adhere to the Ethics Code especially no rapport with the tribes. However, her trek outside the dome does not go according to procedure.

This futuristic dystopian thriller is an exciting plausible tale in which the heroine finds the beliefs that she and all of Epsilon and those Generations before them has grown up with contain false premises (sort of like learning the Ten Commandments were a Genesis hoax). Somewhat a coming of age story inside a somewhat muted action storyline, readers will appreciate the 1984 logic of the America Five’s “burden” of saving the external masses by mass mercy murders.

Harriet Klausner

January 19, 2013

Gates of Paradise-Melissa de la Cruz

Filed under: Author: D,Fantasy,Title: G

Gates of Paradise
Melissa de la Cruz
Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9781423157410

As the London coven has little to celebrate the New Year, Lucifer begins his final assault on the gate of Paradise as he believes victory is now. Supporting him is the powerful sibling angels Abbadon and Azrael, respectively known as Jack and Mimi Force elsewhere, who are assigned by Lucifer to kill their loved ones.

While Lucifer continues his attack, former vampire Bliss Llewellyn and Lawson the wolf team up to liberate his people from hell; Abbadon and Azrael prepare for the right moment for a betrayal. At about the same time Schuyler Van Alen, worried about Jack who she last saw in Egypt, becomes a prisoner in Hell where she thinks the only hope for Heaven and earth resides with doing what Michel refused to do when faced with the same crisis in Ancient Rome.

The final Blue Bloods urban fantasy (see Lost In Time and Bloody Valentine) is a super climax to a strong good and evil saga as the prime subplots are tied up. The cast is powerful from the diabolical Prince of Hell to the Force angels who expect death regardless of the outcome to the heroic sacrificing Schuyler ready to die in hell for a heavenly cause.

Harriet Klausner

January 17, 2013

Blue Bloods-Melissa de la Cruz

Filed under: Author: D,Fantasy,Title: B

Blue Bloods
Melissa de la Cruz, Robert Venditti (adapter) and Alina Urusov (art)
Hyperion, Jan 15 2013, $19.99
ISBN: 9781423134466

Only the elite Blue Bloods attend Manhattan’s ultra-exclusive Duchesne School. However though the students are a special breed as offspring of the movers and shakers, there is a caste system at Duchesne like any school. Below in the ooze underneath the hierarchal ladder is where Schuyler Van Alen and her friend Oliver Hazard-Perry reside or as far from superstar Jack Force or his twin sister Mimi is possible. That is until they change as their reincarnated vampire genes manifest with nightmarish looks as far back as seventeenth century Roanoke.

Duchesne student Augusta Carondolet dies at a nightclub; also there with her were the Force siblings, new pupil bad dude Dylan Ward, student Bliss Llewellyn and sneaking in for the first time Schuyler and Oliver. Soon after Aggie’s death, other Blue Bloods die. As she learns the truth about who she is, Schuyler also inquiries about a schism that goes back to the original Virginia colony as an avenging group the Silver Bloods have begun a killing spree.

This terrific graphic novelization of the first Blue Bloods young adult vampire thriller captures the essence of the original storyline and its high school age lead characters. Fans of the series will appreciate Robert Venditti’s wonderful adaptation enhanced by powerful Alina Urusov’s art as Melissa de la Cruz’s entertaining vampiric teen lit suspense (with two mysteries) comes vividly alive.

Harriet Klausner

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