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

April 8, 2013

Kiss Of Temptation-Sandra Hill

Filed under: Fantasy,Title: K

Kiss Of Temptation
Sandra Hill
Avon, Mar 26 2013, $5.99
ISBN: 9780062064639

In 850 AD in the Norselands, Ivak Sigurdsson lived a perpetual hard life with lust being his driver until he chose his friend Serk’s wife only to be caught; Serk hangs himself. Filled with remorse, the blacksmith, whose spouse Ivak bedded, stabs him with a medal tine pitchfork. Michael the angel tells Ivak that neither heaven nor hell is his destination, but something worse for his sins of the flesh. He becomes celibate as one of God’s Vangal Viking vampire angel fighting against Satan’s vampire demons the lucipires.

In 2013, Ivak travels to Angola Prison where thirty-one year old Leroy Sonnier serves time for murdering his abusive father fifteen years ago after the drunk beat his mom and younger sister. Ivak’s mission is to protect Leroy’s sister Second Chance lawyer Gabrielle who failed again to get the parole board to free him; apparently because his rage for justice and criticism of the penal system has made him a media darling. While keeping Gabrielle safe from the lucipire, Ivak lusts like he never did before. He initially assumes it is because of his celibacy, but eventually realizes she is soul mate while lamenting that his heavenly debt is eternal.

This is a fun Deadly Angels paranormal romance (see Kiss of Surrender and Kiss of Pride) as the lustful Vangal deals with desire (mindful of the climax in the Devil and Ms. Jones) when he meets his protected one. Fast-paced with a condemnation of the file cabinet American system of justice, fans of Sandra Hill will enjoy Kiss of Temptation with the additional bonus of the return of Tante Lulu and the Ragin’ Cajun LeDeux family (see The Red-Hot Cajun).

Harriet Klausner

April 4, 2013

Let the Dead Sleep-Heather Graham

Let the Dead Sleep
Heather Graham
Mira, Mar 26 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9780778315056

In New Orleans, Danni Cafferty is in a hospital room as her father lies near death. Heartbroken she tells her dying dad she loves him and needs him to stay with her. He abruptly tells her he failed her when he delayed telling her of her inheritance; as he allowed his love for her to let her live a little longer as a normal. Before collapsing, her father insists she keep his curio shop she inherits and protect his ancient lore tome.

Not long after her father’s death, a distraught woman enters the shop to demand Danni take away an evil statue that killed her husband and will kill her next. Danni arrives at the woman’s home to learn she committed suicide and meets former NOPD cop turned private investigator Michael Quinn; the statue is gone. After informing her he collaborated on cases with her late dad, Michael further explains to her he is looking into strange deaths related to a Renaissance statue stolen from the grave of a malevolent monster. They team up in search of the missing artifact though both fear what will happen to them if they obtain this evil without precautions like having Catholic and Voodoo priests accompanying them.

The first Cafferty & Quinn romantic urban fantasy is an engaging tale though the love subplot between the protagonists seems more of an intruding sub-genre requirement. The New Orleans hunt for the malevolent killing relic is fun to follow even without a Krewe of Hunters for readers to rely on; as Heather Graham opens up her new series with an entertaining paranormal thriller.

Harriet Klausner

March 14, 2013

Keeper Of The Moon-Harley Jane Kozak

Filed under: Author: K,Fantasy,Title: K

Keeper Of The Moon
Harley Jane Kozak
Harlequin Nocturne, Mar 5 2013, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373885657

In Los Angeles, a serial killer targets Elven females by deliberately infecting them with the deadly scarlet pathogen. Among those carrying the death sentence in their blood is new named Keeper, Sailor Ann Gryffald.

She and shapeshifting club owner Declan Wainwright investigate the homicides while hiding how they feel about their partner from the other. Sailor has wanted Declan for seemingly ever, but assumed he did not reciprocate her desires as he showed no indication otherwise; likewise Declan did the same in spite of his long time attraction to her. However, as they team up to hunt down a lethal psychopath terrorizing the Elven populace and keep the Otherworld species from exploding in rage, the werewolf and the elf no longer conceal their attraction to one another.

The first Keepers L.A. is a thrilling action-packed romantic urban fantasy. Though the romance at times surpasses the hunt for the predator, the stars are a fascinating pairing of two individuals hiding their need for one another; but forced to work together, each confesses their feelings as lust turns to love.

Harriet Klausner

February 19, 2013

Knuckleduster-Andrew Post

Andrew Post
Medallion, Feb 1 2013, $14.95
ISBN: 9781605424934

Minneapolis war veteran Brody “Knuckleduster” Calhoun met battered Marcy a cancer victim at a community center where both slept on cots. Her boyfriend Jonah beat her up so Knuckleduster enters a bar to kick his butt. After the vigilante for hire takes care of business with his knuckleduster brass knuckles, Detective Nathan Pierce arrives to take him to the station for busting up a man’s face for the eighteenth time; both know the violence against women has been halved since he began to mete out an eye for an eye justice. Knuckleduster also needs to recharge the battery in his carotene contact lenses that enable him to see after the Molotov cocktail attack blinded him in Cairo.

Thorp Ashbury, who served with Calhoun in Egypt as peacekeepers a decade ago, invites Knuckleduster to his Illinois farm. When he arrives, Thorp tells him his kid sister Nectar enlisted over his objection. She went to Fort Reagan in Chicago for pre Basic class work training, but when Knuckleduster goes to talk to her he finds she has vanished. As the two vets search for the missing sibling, they begin to uncover a lethal mind-bending corporate conspiracy that leaves Knuckleduster wondering if he has become as crazy as his friend is.

This entertaining futuristic noir sets the tone with little interwoven activities like the electronic monetary card to exchange credits. The vigilante protagonist is a violent Daredevil butt-kicker who defends the downtrodden and paying customers (someone has to fund his expensive contacts). The exhilarating investigation grips readers with a pulp fiction excitement as Knuckleduster battles some nasty adversaries while thinking his paranoid friend is insane as there is no corporate conspiracy to wire wounded warriors.

Harriet Klausner

December 15, 2012

The Keepers: L.A. – Keeper of the Night-Heather Graham

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

The Keepers: L.A. – Keeper of the Night
Heather Graham
Harlequin Nocturne, Dec 18 2012, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373885619

Musician Rhiannon Gryffald relocates to Los Angeles as the new Keeper of Southern California; a tough place to enforce peace amidst the Others and the human species as Hollywood is loaded with performers. Her first major assignment as the Keeper to the stars is serial murders in which the evidence points towards a rogue vampire. Her investigation leads to Elven police detective Brodie Mac who is undercover as an actor on a show working the same case.

Rhiannon and Brodie agree to work the case together. They soon connect the victims to Brodie’s show. Believing they know the predator personally though not the identity of whom he/she is as the culprit remains hidden in plain sight; the pair tries to focus on ending the homicides though their attraction makes concentration on the killer difficult.

The first of a new Keepers series (future tales by Harley Jane Kozak and Alexandra Sokoloff) is an entertaining entry as the Los Angeles paranormal realm seems genuine with Brodie as an Elven cop anchoring the realism. The whodunit is cleverly designed as a combo matchmaker and Hollywood Homicide inquiry as the protagonists know they must solve the case quickly (with timeouts for kisses) without revealing the truth of the Others residing among the humans. Readers will enjoy Heather Graham’s tour of the SOCAL night life.

Harriet Klausner

December 6, 2012

Kalimpura-Jay Lake

Filed under: Author: L,Fantasy,Title: K

Jay Lake
Tor, Jan 29 2013, $27.99
ISBN 9780765326775

In Copper Downs, sixteen year old Green realizes her pregnancy especially the last month was a dull affair having been a courtesan, an assassin, a God creator and the killer of an Immortal. Breaking custom by delaying the naming ceremony for one week after giving birth to twins, Green and the sire of her babies Speto complete the rite praying for a long life under the protection of Endurance for their children Marya and Federo.

Feeling guilty for the changes she wrought to her friends in Copper Downs, Green feels strongly she must sail across the Storm Sea to Kalimpura in search of the kidnapped child of Ilona stolen by Bittern Court diplomats (see Endurance). However, she knows the voyage is too dangerous for her babies but fears leaving them behind as they will be vulnerable to the Copper Downs’ deities who would claim them (and her) as theirs or sacrifice them and even distrusts Ilona to keep them safe. Making matters more difficult for her is Green knows the Kalimpura Gods and the Bittern Court likewise demand the blood of her and her newborns.

Green’s latest awesome adventures showcase how far she has come since Endurance as she returns to Kalimpura, the Bittern Court and the Lily Goddess in search of the abducted child. The storyline is much more reflective (and consequently less action) than in Green and Endurance (even with the latter’s overly long soliloquys). Fans will enjoy the heroine’s struggle to keep her twins safe and keep a promise to Ilona but must breach yet avoid capture by the Bittern Court who she knows has plans for the slayer of the Immortal Duke.

Harriet Klausner

November 6, 2012

Kept-Shawntelle Madison

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

Shawntelle Madison
Ballantine, Nov 27 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780345529176

Once an outcast due to her compulsive obsessive behavior, exiled Natalya Stravinsky looks forward to rejoining her South Toms River, New Jersey werewolf pack. However, before she can come home, the Russian Mafia werewolf pack abducts her father. Putting aside her OCD to hoard holiday ornaments, Nat plans to rescue her dad.

Her ex-lover Thorn Grantham insists on helping her while her current boyfriend Nick the wizard wants to be there for her too. They head to Atlantic City on her quest while a who’s who of the supernatural stalk Nat for the mysterious goods she needs to deliver.

The second Natalya Stravinsky suburban romantic fantasy (See Coveted) is an amusing thriller due to a cast of neurotic and psychotic paranormal from several species. Nat remains a terrific, unique protagonist suffering from OCD, which can just as easily subtract or enhance her kick butt skills. The road trip with Thorn is fun as Nat the hoarder fights her attraction to two males and a sicko paranormal horde.

Harriet Klausner

October 6, 2012

Krampus: The Yule Lord-Brom

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

Krampus: The Yule Lord
Harper Voyager, Oct 30 2012, $27.99
ISBN: 9780062095657

In impoverished Boone County, West Virginia on Christmas Eve, songwriter Jesse Walker is raging and depressed since his wife Linda, taking their child Abigail with her, left their trailer park home to move in with crooked cop named Dillard. Jesse wishes Santa would return his family to him. However, he stops his wish-making when he observes seven devilish looking people chasing a man in a red suit. All eight enter a sleigh pulled by eight reindeers; who take to the sky. Stunned Jesse hears screams in the sky followed by a red satin bag falling near him. To his shock, Jesse realizes he has Santa’s magical sack, which he plans to use to bring his family home to him.

The horned Yule Lord Krampus escapes from the cave that Santa incarcerated him in centuries ago. He wants vengeance but his top priority is to take back what Santa took from him as the Yuletide season belongs to him. That means obtaining the red satin sack that Jesses possesses. Father Christmas meets Jesse first and they agree to prevent the Yule Lord from achieving his objectives while also enabling Jesse to win back his wife and child. Not sure who to trust the troubled Jesse cannot fathom the hostilities between these ancient enemies who have him in their crosshairs.

Krampus is an exhilarating gory Christmas tale as Santa and Lord Yule battle each other while the mortal matures as he gains confidence and esteem while moving away from self-pity and debasement. Fast-paced from the moment Santa and the devils fight and never slows down, fans will appreciate this coming of age holiday horror thriller

Harriet Klausner

September 3, 2012

The Kingsmakers-Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith

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

The Kingsmakers
Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith
PYR, Sep 4 2012, $17.95
ISBN: 9781616146740

Over a century and a half ago, the world was divided between the vampire and human zones. The “cold war “peace recently ended; hostilities between the humans and the vampires turning heated. Equatorian Empire Empress Adele leads her army against their more powerful opponents. On her side is Gareth the Greyfriar who saved her life from his sibling British Vampire Clan Lord Prince Cesare. Gareth believes his brother schemes to become the ruler of the Vampire Empire.

Cesare has double agents high in the human hierarchy of Adele’s forces as well as inside the vampire court. Adele and Gareth know spies are everywhere prepared to betray them and their cause to their more powerful enemy. Increasingly Adele and Gareth conclude their lone hope to snatch victory from defeat is for the queen to use her geomancy powers that she once rejected as genocide, which may destroy the vampires but also has a strong chance of eradicating the humans too.

The third steampunk Vampire Empire fantasy (see Greyfriar and The Rift Walker) is a superb finish as both sides fight to the death to determine who will be the dominant species. The Griffith world seems genuine as it has throughout the saga. However, this series belongs to and with the lead couple remain consistent the human empress who has matured from when Cesare kidnapped her and Greyfriar rescued her, and her beloved vampire prince who believes his love for her is doomed. Action-packed, readers will relish this great ending to a strong trilogy as the Griffith couple provides a fabulous climax.

Harriet Klausner

August 12, 2012

A Kingdom’s Fall-Douglas R. Brown

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

A Kingdom’s Fall
Douglas R. Brown
Rhemalda Publishing, Aug 1 2012, $15.99
ISBN: 9781936850556

In their thirst for oil for their war machines, the ruthless Tek invaders brutally devastated Epertase and annihilated Lithia. Taking advantage of the chaos of the crippling victory, Gildonese King Fice annexes land with his goal to become the ruler of the kingdom of Epertase. Besides his army, Fice uses his uncanny otherworldly talent to sway others even enemies to support his royal claim.

Epertase Queen Alina finds her nation has no time to heal from the invasion as a revolt from within has split the kingdom. Alina barely survives assassination attempts from allegedly loyal trusted advisors and supporters. Her only hope for her country resides with the hero of the Tek War, Rasi the former Epertase warrior turned anti-war farmer.

The second Light of Epertase military fantasy is a superb thriller that grips fans (especially those who read the exciting Legend’s Reborn) from start to finish. Once again Douglas R. Brown makes a powerful case that war is hell and should never be glamorized especially by armchair chicken hawks who send others to die. Mindful of Harold of Wessex having fought a powerful enemy force just before the Battle of Hastings in 1066 (see, readers will relish the action-packed A Kingdom’s Fall.

Harriet Klausner

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