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 9, 2013

Alien Research-Gini Koch

Alien Research
Gini Koch
DAW, Dec 3 2013, $7.99
ISBN 9780756409432

While completing Operation Sherlock A-C Ambassador Jeff Martini was named to fill the vacant New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat (see Alien In The House). His wife Kitty Katt-Martini remains the A-C Ambassador, a position they shared.

Protestors spoil breakfast with her daughter Jamie and their friends by a garbage assault on their limo followed by the new leader of Club 51 in her face telling her that the aliens and their human Quislings will soon die. Kitty returns to the Embassy only to learn some Congressional reps want the FBI to launch an inquiry into the events at Gaultier Enterprises and Titan Security. However she has no time to react to that undesirable news as A-C Embassy Security Chief Walter from his training site contacts Kitty with the fact that he and his staff are in trouble. The situation turns further dire when the impossible occurs with the hacking of the highly protected Centaurion files culminating with the destruction of the in-house data. Kitty knows that only the legendary rumored to exist Chernobog the Ultimate could have performed this task.

Although the trademark cultural misunderstandings humor is much less than normal in this darker than usual entry, readers will enjoy the latest Alien science fiction (see Alien Diplomacy). Once again the size of the cast expanded making the need of a Cecil De Mille sized cast scorecard a necessity while the paranormal rescues feel overused. Still series fans will appreciate this exhilarating thriller as Kitty Katt and company face several dangerous attacks.

Harriet Klausner

July 15, 2013

Anomaly-Krista McGee

Krista McGee
Thomas Nelson, Jul 9 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9781401688721

The nuclear war ended life on the surface; forcing survivors underground. Though rumors of a Designer as the ultimate power, Ten Scientists saved those who survived but to prevent conflict they genetically removed emotion from their subjects.

Thalli, the Musician of Pod C, concealed for spent years her outlawed abnormality while doing her job by playing instruments to stimulate the labor of her mates. When she was nine running laps with her Pod mates, Thalli was shocked when Asta the historian stopped and began oozing from her nose until the Monitors removed her as a Code 4 never to return. Thalli concludes Asta broke one of the most important rules of never be different while she hides her innate curiosity. Three years later Berk the Scientist departed with a gala celebrating his becoming a leader. A few years later, because of Bach, Thalli’s anomaly surfaces so she is removed and slated for Annihilation. With minutes counting down until she dies, Berk persuades his peers to keep Thalli alive to study her anomaly.

Anomaly is an exciting thought-provoking young adult dystopian thriller that has the teen audience pondering faith in a Designer when faced with an execution countdown due to displaying feelings. The McGee world feels like Alice fell into the realm of Huxley’s Big Brother yet at the same time the milieu feels underdeveloped. Still fans will enjoy the “Curiouser and curiouser” Musician’s adventures as she learns to keep the faith with someone mighty watching out for her.

Harriet Klausner

July 3, 2013

The Arrivals-Melissa Marr

Filed under: Author: M,Fantasy,Title: A

The Arrivals
Melissa Marr
Morrow, Jul 2 2013, $24.99
ISBN 9780061826962

Based on information from Governor Soanes, the Arrivals (Edgar, Francis, Mary and siblings Kitty and Jack, and others) go to a peace negotiation with the brethren. Instead the brethren attack using guns and magic killing Mary. While her allies kill the rest, using a spell and a knife, Kitty slays the demon monk though she takes a bullet and burns from his blood. They hope Mary wakes in six days; while in Covenant former ally and her ex-lover Daniel tells Kitty that her enemy avaricious Ajani wants her on his team of cutthroats who always come back from temporary death unlike her band who might not return.

Last night in DC Chloe Mattison saw her fiancé having sex with her boss in her place. She left and had her first drink in five years. Now she awakens in the Wasteland’s Gallows Desert as the newest Arrival. The siblings take her back to camp as she mumbles hallucinations. Jack and Edgar chat that they came from different eras and locales after committing murders on earth, but Chloe seems the latest date yet. Being the oldest Arrivals, Jack and Kitty know the Wasteland is changing as Chloe fails to fit the “rules”.

The Arrivals is an exciting fantasy as the indigent population and the Arrivals (and readers) wonder why the newcomers come to this beastly hell. The cold (and at times hot) war between the heroic cutthroats and Ajani’s thug army is entertaining, but never enables the realm to come into focus outside the desert band. Still readers will enjoy visiting the Wasteland while wanting more tales located there; preferably a series of interrelated short stories starring different characters who would provide depth to this strange hellish realm.

Harriet Klausner

May 11, 2013

As Twilight Falls-Amanda Ashley

Filed under: Author: A,Fantasy,Title: A

As Twilight Falls
Amanda Ashley
Zebra, Apr 30 2013. $7.99
ISBN: 9781420130393

Free-lance writer-photographer Kadie Andrews gets lost in Wyoming while working on a story about ghost towns. She crosses a wooden bridge during a storm but runs out of gas. Her cell phone fails to work. Vampire Darrick Vaughn welcomes her and takes the reluctant human to a tavern for coffee. He then takes her to a vacant house for her to stay. Vaughn claims her as his. However, master vampire Rylan Saintcrow says she belongs to him.

Human Donna tells her no one leaves town. Kadie tries to walk across the bridge but cannot complete the trek. She notices a special house that gives her the chills. At night Vaughn takes her to a restaurant but he does not eat. She joins a reading group where she learns the town contains a vampire coven of eight males and one female. They warn her of Saintcrow who no one has seen in years. Kadie tells Vaughn she wants to leave. He says she cannot and calls her his private stock. Saintcrow arrives and informs her everyone in town belongs to him. Saintcrow wonders why he needs Kadie as she is the first woman he invited into his Blair House. As they fall in love, the couple learns her father is aligned with hunters as he needs Saintcrow’s blood to save his dying other daughter.

Readers will believe vampires run a city in which humans cannot leave (the Eagles’ Hotel California) though with the horror in Cleveland, the concept becomes much more nightmarish. The star-crossed romance is nicely developed as is the transformation of Saintcrow although he is too powerful; ergo limiting suspense.

Harriet Klausner

April 8, 2013

Angelopolis-Danielle Trussoni

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

Danielle Trussoni
Viking Adult, Mar 26 2013, $27.95
ISBN: 9780670025541

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.

Harriet Klausner

March 31, 2013

Alizel’s Song-Bill Pottle

Filed under: Author: P,Fantasy,Title: A

Alizel’s Song
Bill Pottle
Ellechor Publishing House, Mar 3 2013, $16.99
ISBN: 9781937844882

Alizel the lowest Unranked angel muses over how fifteen billion years after the event, man stated: “In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth”; not relatively long after that, man called it the Big Bang though it was not big and there was no bang as there was no air. The mission-less angels, even the highest rank Seraphim Luciferel, was confused as to why He created another world besides Heaven. The official word from the Seraphim was to trust in the Father as all will soon be revealed.

Zebub the Virtue sadistically hurts Verin the Virtue in a duel until Cantos the desk keeper armorer, accompanied by a Principality and a Power, ends the match. An Irate Verin destroys Cantos and the Principality while Zebub does likewise to the Power. The vanished angels end in Containment; while their destroyers fly away free and witness Alizel cries for the first time not in joy. The first murder in Heaven is the genesis of a revolt. When the new realm includes an entity made in God’s image, Luciferel takes over leading the rebellion against the Father. Not long afterward (in heavenly time), those angels ridding themselves of God’s Energy forge a mission to destroy Man, who quickly abuses free will to commit sin.

Alizel’s Song is a deep “memoir” as Bill Pottle provides a superb retelling of Genesis and much more. Fast-paced, this profound biblical thriller grips the reader from the onset with all the angels, even those that remain loyal, in shock with what the Father has wrought. The unranked angel escorts the audience on a tour of Heaven while describing key events in those early days as Big Bang scientific theory converges with Creationism.

Harriet Klausner

February 17, 2013

The Arena Man-Steve Englehart

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

The Arena Man
Steve Englehart
Tor, Feb 19 2013, $28.99
ISBN: 9780765325006

In between his war against supernatural evil, former Vietnam grunt Max August the immortal but destructible magic practitioner and his apprentice lover Pam continue their unsuccessful search for the lost soul of his first wife Val. The pair ends their current investigation when they learn troubling information. The Necklace cabal of international magickal societal leaders and the demonic Belia’al have united. The powerful malevolent union plans to deploy Black Ops and magick to cause an attack that will gain everyone’s focus as thousands will die from their mass murder against man.

At the same time Alexsandra the diabola pretends to be the lover of the Gemstone leader of the Necklace Lawrence Breckenridge. She hides her real agenda behind her farcical tryst as her plot is to defeat Belia’al. Max takes over the identity of a dead conspirator (whose body he places in the Collective Unconscious) in order to get inside to learn what the cabal and the demon plot. At the same time, Pam seems trapped inside the Subconscious even as she needs to bring the Key to Max.

The latest Max August fantasy (see The Plain Man and The Long Man) is an exhilarating hyper-paced thriller. With a comic book style of non-stop action, series fans will relish this rousing entry as Max knows he must be a mad man playing the superhero to save those who disdain him against a seemingly invincible enemy who has the support of those same people he tries to rescue (to the PR goes the masses).

Harriet Klausner

February 1, 2013

Angel Of Syn-Mertianna Georgia

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

Angel Of Syn
Mertianna Georgia
ImaJinn, Jan 31 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9781610261180

The authorities declare Cara Augustine the Synemancer a criminal for committing the capital offence of “enslaving” Tom the werewolf. Her explanation that his becoming her familiar was an accidental by-product of her recently discovered power is no excuse under the law (see Syn In The City).

The Portalkind cops pursue the witch who hides in Beverly Hills; while she deals with a horde of males; many obsess over her binding them to her or want to bind her to them. Besides Tom, bodyguard Azrael the angel of death (assigned by her parents after a sub-demon attack on Cara) wants her. Etiene the werewolf challenges Tom for her though their Alpha Bart banished the familiar from the pack. Tom persuades her to accompany him to Santa Lacuna where his former pack is in trouble although she does not want to go there as her mentor Paul the wizard died saving her life. Finally Roman the Nightkind demands she marry him immediately. While protestors curse Cara for mistreating Tom as an animal (by making him her familiar) not a person who shifts, she and her retinue end up in the Garden of Eden where they find hell not heaven.

The second Cara Augustine urban fantasy is a fun fast-paced tale as the heroine’s male bonding problems continue unabated. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Cara returns to Santa Lacuna and never slows down especially when they enter “paradise”. Although the protagonist does not seem to have grown from her coming of age debut as her lack of confidence remains tropospheric in spite of her head to head with Texcatlopoca in San Francisco (see Syn In The City), fans will enjoy visiting the Georgian paranormal realm.

Harriet Klausner

November 20, 2012

The Armageddon Rag-George R. R. Martin

Filed under: Author: M,Title: A

The Armageddon Rag
George R. R. Martin
Bantam, Jan 30 2007, $16.00
ISBN: 9780553383072

In the 1960s Sandy Blair was a happy protesting radical. Under two decades later, Sandy is an unhappy establishment novelist in Brooklyn. He knows he has met the system and the system won. Hedgehog magazine publisher Jared Paterson offers Sandy an assignment. Sandy reminds the a-hole he fired him seven years ago, which Jared gleefully acknowledges that he sold the rag to the mainstream as he points out both of them sold out. The publisher wants his former reporter to do a story on the murder of Jamie Lynch, who once was promoter of the Satanic band Nazgûl. Excited as he has not been since he became a pulp fiction writer, Sandy agrees but on his terms.

Sandy learns that Nazgûl is making a comeback though the band collapsed with the murder of the lead singer Patrick Henry Hobbins during a live performance. Apparently promotor Eden Morse has replaced the late Hobbins with plastic surgery enhanced singer Larry Richmond who she calls Pat. Eden asks Sandy to promote Nazgûl as he did in their heyday.

This is a reprint of an early 1980s tale that takes a close look at how aging hippies fondly recall their protest days of less than two decades earlier through Sandy’s investigation. The paranormal elements never quite gel and the plot feels dated as only hippie geezers whose memories recall the good while ignoring the bad and the ugly will appreciate this tale. Still us geriatrics and DOPs (dirty old people to be politically correct) will appreciate this engaging tale with its references to the counterculture of our youths.

Harriet Klausner

November 17, 2012

Alien: The Illustrated Story-Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (Illustrator)

Alien: The Illustrated Story
Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson (Illustrator)
Titan Books, Sep 4 2012, $14.95
ISBN: 9781781161296

In outer space, the civilian mining ship the Nostromo completed its mission and is heading home with the crew sleeping in a cryo-frozen state. The Nostromo computer Mother wakes everyone up after receiving an alien distress message. They head to the source of the SOS and soon crewman Kane and others explore an alien ship where he finds an egg. At that moment humanity meets an Alien species.

This is a reprint of the great 1979 graphic comic book as Archie Goodwin brings the film’s plot to life while Walt Simonson’s fabulous illustrations enhance the tale with his pre computer generated art. Fans will appreciate this super adaptation of a fabulous horror science fiction movie.

Harriet Klausner

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