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

December 11, 2012

Enchanted Ever After-Robin D. Owens

Filed under: Author: O,Fantasy,Title: E

Enchanted Ever After
Robin D. Owens
Luna/Harlequin, Dec 18 2012, $14.95
ISBN: 9780373803477

In Denver, Kiri Palger loves online gaming though her job of the last two years at a national computer firm has left her drained of more energy than losing at Fairies and Dragons. Needing to unkink after a long day on her butt at the office, Kiri takes a walk in Mystic Circle where she lives. A man with a runner’s physique accosts her saying he is from Eight Corps, Human Resources, parent company of Fairies and Dragons where she hopes to work at one day. He refers to her neighbor Jennie Weaver as a reference, but calls her Jindesfarne Mistweaver Emberdrake (see Enchanted No More). When he floats his business card to her, a frightened Kiri rushes home while hybrid Lightfolk Lathyr Tricurrent watches her retreat.

At a neighborhood party that Lathyr attends, Jennie hires Kiri to work on a new game. As she spends time with Lathyr, Kiri works on the new project while she finds herself obtaining mystical new powers. Soon she and Lathyr are on a magical quest as Kiri “tests” in real life the game she is helping to create.

The third Mystic Circle romantic fantasy (see Enchanted Again) is a fun entertaining thriller as the real and virtual worlds merge. Fast-paced, fans will enjoy Kiri’s lighthearted romp as she must choose between magically in love or ennui in the mundane.

Harriet Klausner

July 21, 2012

Sin’s Dark Caress-Tracey O’Hara

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

Sin’s Dark Caress
Tracey O’Hara
Harper Voyager, Jul 31 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780061783159

The three NYPD cops at the murder scene are not feeling very well as the homeless victim was ripped open like a can of corn to remove the baby inside of her. This is the second horrific homicide in two weeks. Detective McManus asked magic expert Dr. Bianca Sin the Forensic witch to look at a symbol. When she does, Bianca becomes sick as she realizes the Dark Brethren seal is on the alley wall.

She calls shapeshifter Oberon DuPrie with the news the worst that could happen has begun. He and the team race to the murder scene. War is coming in which the paranormal species and the humans will take enormous losses, but must unite or face even worse as evil is on the march. Bianca understands this as she opens her locket to meet her familiar Kedrax the dragon who warns her dark magic plans to enable the Dark Brethren to cross over.

The latest Dark Brethren urban fantasy (see Death’s Sweet Embrace and Night’s Cold Kiss) costars a nasty malevolent being who uses magic to impregnate chosen “fallen” women and then guts them to take the baby from them; this evil has great plans to bring hell on earth. Bianca, Oberon and the crew investigate in hopes of preventing the pandemic threat from happening. Their inquiry allows the audience to learn more about the secretive witch clans and to a lesser degree vampires and shapeshifters. This is a winner in the O’Hara mythos as time is running out on earth.

Harriet Klausner

July 17, 2012

Heart Secret-Robin D. Owens

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

Heart Secret
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 7 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425253144

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.

Harriet Klausner

March 19, 2012

Strange Flesh-Michael Olson

Strange Flesh
Michael Olson
Simon & Schuster, Apr 3 2012, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451627572

Harvard dropout James Pryce works for RedRook Security. A hacker of note, James is brilliant at locating those who have seemingly vanished off the grid by finding their electronic fingerprints. He especially take immense pleasure with using high tech vengeance against those who harmed a client.

Twins Blake and Blythe Randall hire RedRook Security with the stipulation that James takes the job. A decade ago, Blythe blithely broke James’ heart, but though she should insist not him, he cannot say no to her. Their brilliant multimedia artist sibling Billy sent them a video of his “Bleed” performance in which he simultaneously commits suicide and reanimates as an avatar in a decadent online world NOD. Blythe gets James masquerading as a documentarian into the GAME media collective where Billy recently played. He begins to unravel the virtual reality existence of Billy until James realizes he needs to enter NOD to find Billy.

This is an odd Bleeding of reality and virtual reality as James finds himself as a stranger in a strange land. Filled with sexual encounters of many kinds and with Strange Flesh, fans who appreciate something enjoyably different will want to journey into the land of NOD escorted in the first person by James.

Harriet Klausner

March 9, 2012

Forgiven-Jana Oliver

Filed under: Author: O,Fantasy,Title: F

Jana Oliver
St. Martin’s Griffin, Mar 27 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312614805

In 2018 seventeen years old demon trapper Riley Blackthorne struggles with abnormal teen angst thanks in part to her former boyfriend Simon; whose life she saved in a deal made in heaven and in gratitude he informed the Vatican’s Demon Hunters that she made a pact with Hell. They are coming for her and she knows they kill first before asking questions. Riley has made a promise to Lucifer and continues her quest to save her father body and soul. Her friend Beck remains irate with her and has more reason besides a Fallen Angel when the Demon Hunters take him hostage.

However, as she attends school in Atlanta, Riley also realizes something is not right. Demons, eternal solo acts, are conducting joint operations like a precise Special Forces unit. Worse they don’t die. Riley fears she knows who the puppeteer is; if she is right the final war between Heaven and Hell on battlefield earth is near.

Jana Oliver’s third super young adult Demon Trappers urban fantasy (see The Demon Trapper’s Daughter and Soul Thief) is an exhilarating thriller starring a delightful heroine. The storyline is fast-paced as Riley deals with the paranormal kitchen sink while also trying to enjoy high school. Although Beck’s chauvinistic double standard seems anachronistic inane, fans will relish Riley’s school days in which she matriculates in demon trapping and saving the world.

Harriet Klausner

January 18, 2012

Tangled-Erica O’Rourke

Filed under: Author: O,Fantasy,Title: T

Erica O’Rourke
K Teen/Kensington, Jan 31 2012, $9.95
ISBN: 9780758267054

In Chicago, St. Brigid’s High School senior, Maura “Mo” Fitzgerald witnessed the mob take out her BFF Verity; her thirst for vengeance led mousy Mo into a world of magic, prophecy and two mysterious hunks Colin and Luc (see Torn). Her need to avenge Verity’s murder changes to protecting those she loves but she fears she will never be freed from the Arcs, her mobster uncle, the Quartered and the Seraphim has all seem to have her in their crosshairs..

In one month since the homicide that changed her life occurred, Mo has a major dilemma as she has no one to take to the Sadie Hawkins dance. However wanting to be left alone to attend school and work at the diner is not an option; as the Chicago mob never lets witnesses live and the magic with the surges since the Torrent never lets practitioners especially one embroiled in the ancient prophecy quit. A grieving raging Constance is now the magical battleground.

The second Mo urban fantasy is a terrific thriller with a profound morality question cutting across the entertaining storyline as the resultant heroine deals with the unintended nasty consequences of her seemingly pristine actions in Torn. Action-packed, it is the second and third order effects that will have the enthralled audience wondering if the end justifies the mean even when that mean goes against your positive values. Tangled is a wonderful teenage thriller as Mo just wants to choose between secretive Colin and enigmatic Luc, but then fate may have chosen Billy for her.

Harriet Klausner

January 17, 2012

Enchanted Again-Robin D. Owens

Filed under: Author: O,Fantasy,Title: E

Enchanted Again
Robin D. Owens
Luna, Dec 20 2011, $14.95
ISBN 9780373803415

In Denver, genealogist Amber Sarga understands the cost of using her gift as a curse-breaker; every time she deploys her skill she reduces her life span dramatically as she ages. Thus she is wary to deploy her talent.

Friends Conrad Tyne-Cymbler and Rafe Davail visit Amber at her place in Mystic Circle so she can help them break their respective curses though Rafe ridicules the concept of the paranormal. Conrad’s wife Marta left him with their son Dougie and vanished. Based on what his father told him on their only encounter when he next sees his child he will die. In Rafe’s family history, the first born son dies before turning thirty-three. Amber wants to help both, but can’t even use a mirror as she looks ten years older than she is chronologically. She agrees to look into their ancestry to identify the curse and what can be done to stop it. However, she feels sympathy for both cursed men and is attracted to Rafe.

The second book Mystic Circle romantic urban fantasy (see Enchanted No More) is an engaging tale based on the premise that magic costs to the practitioner. This concept is the conflict as Amber faces a moral conundrum with between to do and die young, and not to do and die lonely. Although the romantic relationship between the generalist and the skeptic feels forced, readers, craving for chocolate brownies, will want to know the outcomes of the curse.

Harriet Klausner

November 12, 2011

Hearts and Swords-Robin D. Owens

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

Hearts and Swords
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Dec 6 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425243411

“Heart and Sword”. As supplies and calm temperament run out, Captain Kelse Bountry confronts a mutiny while seeking a planet for his earth fleet to colonize while his wife Fern has his back.

”Heart Story”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City Blush Willow hid her Heartmate Dri Paris from her murderous insane mother. Now a year after her mom died, she hopes to have a second chance with her Heartmate, but their past remains an obstacle and his family’s dire straits make her even more unacceptable.

“Heart and Soul”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in small Gael City Tinne Holly’s ex wife Genista Furze obtains work assisting a clockmaker as Nista Gorse. GentleSir Cardus Parry is attracted to her, but she has no wish for any mate after her scandalous divorce shocked the FirstFamilies.

“Noble Heart”. Over four centuries since the Colonization of Celta, in Druida City during the Passage, Walker Clover learns he has the Flair, which is so prevalent his family rises to GrandLord level. He must wed a member of the FirstFamilies, but wants none of them as he only desires the enigmatic Sedwy Grove.

This is a strong quartet as Robin D. Owens fills in some of the gaps in her terrific Celta romantic fantasy saga.

Harriet Klausner

September 3, 2011

Soul Thief-Jana Oliver

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

Soul Thief
Jana Oliver
St. Martin’s Griffin, Aug 30 2011, $9.99
ISBN: 9780312614799

In 2018 Atlanta, Riley Blackthorne knows first hand what it’s like to be the “popular” teen as demons know her by name and as the only female trapper. She, like much of the city, still struggles with recent deadly events as many of her male peers suffered fatalities and crippling injuries in the combat; her boyfriend Simon heals from his injuries and her late dad’s buried remains are stolen by a necromancer.

The residents no longer feel safe from the brutal demon assaults battering the city and what happened to the so-called protectors. The Vatican sends rival Demon Hunters to cleanse Atlanta while the demon Trappers try to figure out who betrayed them. What the newcomers fail to understand is the focus of this activity is the only female demon hunter and the evil targeting her is Grade Five.

The sequel to The Demon Trapper’s Daughter, Soul Thief is a complex near futuristic urban fantasy with a beleaguered heroine who is learning that death by demon is easier to accept than death by brokenhearted. The cast makes paranormal Atlanta seem real; for instance demons touring the zoo anchor the paranormal in normal environs. Readers will relish Riley’s struggles to find her dad and to avoid a one way ticket to hell while the two anti-demon fighting groups battle each other in an unhealthy rivalry to be coroneted as the top gun.

Harriet Klausner

July 21, 2011

Heart Search-Robin D. Owens

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

Heart Search
Robin D. Owens
Berkley, Aug 2 2011, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425241387

Avaricious Nivea Sunflower fooled teenager Huathe (Laev) T’Hawthorn into believing she was his HeartMate during his second passage. He failed to realize that thirteen years old Camellia Darjeeling was truly his mate. Her heart was broken that her mate never appeared but she is determined to stay strong.

Years pass until 421 After the Colonization, Widower Laev struggles with rectifying what his late wife did to others. At the same time Camellia runs two delightful popular establishments (Darjeeling’s Teahouse and Darjeeling’s HouseHeart) in spite of her felonious father Guri and her unctuous uncle Takvar trying to abuse and take advantage of her; even attempting to extort funds from Camellia by exposing who they are to her customers. Their respective FamCats bring the HeartMates together, but Camellia distrusts males and Laev searches for stolen family heirlooms that he suspects her family took.

The latest Celta Heart Mate romantic fantasy (see Heart Journey) is a terrific second chance at love between two wary next generation souls. The story line is character driven as Laev knows his “House” has not recovered from his monstrous mistake that has cost his family so much; while Camellia has learned from her father and uncle not to trust men. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest mating as doubting Thomas and Thomasine distrust the Heart Bond.

Harriet Klausner

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