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 28, 2014

Vampires…Need Not Apply?-Mimi Jean Pamfiloff

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

Vampires…Need Not Apply?
Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Forever, Mar 25 2014, $8.00
ISBN: 9781455546992

While on vacation in Mexico, affluent Spanish physicist Dr. Antonio Acero remains haunted by a woman pleading with him to free her. When he locates a mysterious Mayan tablet that allegedly will prevent the Apocalypse, obsessed Antonio tries to deploy the relic to open the gate restraining his enigmatic incarcerated female. Instead of success, an accident leaves Acero blind.

For seventy long lonely millennia, Ixtab the goddess of suicide has avoided the touch of humans after she accidently caused the death of her beloved. Wearing her veil to conceal her face and garbed in Goth mourning clothes, Ixtab arrives to help Antonio with his quest and regain his eyesight. To her astonishment, the philandering Spaniard not only looks like her memory of her one true love, but somehow survives touching her.

The latest Accidentally Yours romantic fantasy (see Accidentally in Love with…a God?, Sun God Seeks …Surrogate? and Accidentally Married to…a Vampire?) is a fascinating tale due to the lead Goddess’ dilemma that will remind readers of the X-Men’s Rogue. The hero thinks “Heaven Must be Missing An Angel” (Tavares) though he meets her while blind and she hides her visage behind her veil which in his mind means she must be hideous. Series fans will enjoy this fast-paced entry with over the top humor as the overarching theme of mad Cimil making life interesting moves somewhat forward.

Harriet Klausner

November 8, 2012

Vine: An Urban Legend-Michael Williams

Filed under: Author: W,Horror,Title: V

Vine: An Urban Legend
Michael Williams
BlackWyrm, Mar 28 2012, $11.95
ISBN: 9781613181256

Stephen Thorne teaches English and drama at North High School in Louisville, a far cry from the dreams Muriel had for him before the shootings at Kent killed his fantasies. He directs the senior play and an amateur summer theater. The production he leads this season is the Greek tragedy The Bacchae by Euripides

The crew and cast consist of eccentric individuals, making it difficult to create a cohesive production. However, Thorne’s efforts are well received by arcane forces who with his abetting them want to turn the tragedy on the stage into a real life tragedy in the theater and beyond.

Vine: An Urban Legend is a fascinating whimsical look at how individuals perceive their lives especially when mortality hits the gut. The cast whether they are Thorne, muses and other ancient ilk or townsfolk are fully developed with each major player containing critical flaws. At times difficult to read as the storyline shifts rather quickly, but worth the effort as fans will relish this twentieth century paranormal update of The Bacchae.

Harriet Klausner

June 6, 2012

Vacation With A Vampire-Michele Hauf, Lisa Childs, Kendra Leigh Castle

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

Vacation With A Vampire
Michele Hauf, Lisa Childs, Kendra Leigh Castle
Harlequin Nocturne, June 19 2012, $5.50
ISBN: 9780373885497

“Stay” by Michele Hauf. In Paris, after helping a friend by donating vampire blood Lucian Bellisario needs a human to replenish his drained supply. He chooses an American tourist possessed by his dead lover’s ghost.

“Vivi and the Vampire” by Leigh Castle. Underground city Terra Noctem vampire King Justin goes on vacation so his staff can have a respite. There he meets and falls in love with vampire slayer Vivi Martin.

“Island Vacation,” by Lisa Childs. For four years CPA Patricia Reynolds has had no time off from E. Graves Financial Planning, but recently she won her office vacation lottery so is off to an unknown island for two weeks of regaining her tan. Roarke Monterusso has waited four years to avenge the death of his cousin Rick at the hands of Piper aka Patricia, but now she is coming to his island where he will confront her with his brand of justice; he just never expected it to be desire.

These are three fun vampiric romances starring engaging protagonists.

Harriet Klausner

June 4, 2012

Voracious-V.K. Forrest

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

V.K. Forrest
Kensington, Jul 31 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780758255709

Clare Point, Delaware has been home to the Kahill vampire clan for centuries. They differ from ordinary vampires as they die as elders and are reborn as teens with the cycle eternal. Their mission is to save God’s humans from the undesirables.

Executioner Aedan Brigid returns to Clare Point for needed R&R after too many battles against evil. At the same time, Jay the monster who returns every half century to disfigure and murder females is back having mutilated a victim that reminds Aedan of what this beast did to his beloved Madeleine centuries ago. He vows this time to end his hunt of three centuries in death; Jay’s or his.

Jay stalks his prey in Rehoboth Beach where barmaid Dallas York and her daughter Kenzie reside. Aedan enters the establishment where Dallas works; and to each is amazement sparks fly when they touch. Dallas has the gift of seeing a person’s past and present life when she touches that individual. She knows Aedan is damned and regardless of how each feels vampires and humans cannot form a relationship. Aedan fears Dallas is Jay’s next selection.

The latest Clare Point Vampires romantic urban fantasy (see Undying, Eternal and Immortal) is an action-packed enthralling thriller focusing on the exploits of a good vampire protecting humanity from evil. Like his clan Aedan has been damned for choosing to remain blood Voracious pagans while rejecting the message of Christianity given to them by St. Patrick in the old country over a millennium and half ago. The Kahill has hopes for redemption by protecting god’s humans. His ability to love grips readers when he connects with autistic Kenzie. Then there is the anticipated High Midnight confrontation with Jay.

Harriet Klausner

May 11, 2012

Vengeance Moon-Lee Roland

Filed under: Author: R,Fantasy,Title: V

Vengeance Moon
Lee Roland
Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451236432

Seventeen years old Madeline Corso is filled with rage after three men killed her mom whose legacy to her was a vision of them and a curse to avenge her. Two years later she murdered one in Seattle and another in New York, but the latter was caught on camera. Convicted of homicide, Madeline is sentenced to twenty five to life at the Upstate New York Sisters of Justice Correctional College.

Now twenty six, Mother Evelyn offers Madeline a risky opportunity to escape incarceration. If she accepts and fails she will go to a maximum security prison. Madeline says if she fails she will be dead. The Mother assigns her to go to the Barrows in Duivel, Missouri to hunt down the third killer who has the Portal gem Madeline’s mom foolishly wore out in the open rather than protect as the Earth Mother decreed.

In Duivel, Madeline meets Michael and to her chagrin she feels an unwanted attraction. However, she has no time for matters of the heart as she is running out of time since an evil being plans to deploy the Portal to cause untold destruction.

The second superb Earth Witches romantic urban fantasy (see Viper Moon) is a great thriller as readers return to Duivel where the Earth Mother created a magical prison to contain the malevolent Darkness. The keys to this gripping storyline are that the paranormal seems normal and that the romance between Michael (a major player in the first novel) and Madeline is kept somewhat in the background as preventing the Portal disaster comes first. With a wonderful genealogical twist and a fascinating spin on what caused the curse, fans will appreciate Lee Roland’s exhilarating entry.

Harriet Klausner

Visions of Chains-Regan Hastings

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

Visions of Chains
Regan Hastings
Signet, Jun 5 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780451237309

First Daughter Deidre Sterling is tired of having constant protection and being unendingly used for the benefit of others as even her mom the President has done so. She is tired that the only men in her life are Secret Service, but also wonders why she sees a huge dog across from her apartment while her friend Shauna Jackson cannot.

She and Shauna belong to the peaceful Rights for Witches group protesting the state execution of five witches slated for burning. Shauna betrays her handing her over to the Witches Liberation Front whose leader Finn the Eternal plans to use Deidre to rescue the condemned five. In the ensuing battle, Deidre’s dormant witch skills surface as Finn saves her life knowing she is the mate he has waited for centuries to meet.

The latest Awakening romantic urban fantasy (see Visions of Skyfire and Visions of Magic) is a great tale in a fabulous thought-provoking series. The underlying premise that the government and militia patriots ignore the First Amendment rights under the guise of national security remains a timely theme as ethnic condemnation has occurred in our history. With a strong cast especially the confused almost schizoid heroine, fans will appreciate this deep paranormal political thriller. Once again Regan Hastings builds on her cautionary discourse that “They who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security, deserve neither liberty or security” Benjamin Franklin).

Harriet Klausner

April 12, 2012

Under Suspicion-Hannah Jayne

Filed under: Author: J,Fantasy,Title: V

Under Suspicion
Hannah Jayne
Kensington, May 1 2012, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758258946

In San Francisco Underworld Detection Agency’s only human Sophie Lawson starts to report to her superior that three of her clients failed to make their appointment with her, but stops when she learns her new boss is Vlad LeShay as he is the latest vampire promoted to top management by Dixon Andrade. She decides to check up on Mrs. Henderson the demon and two teenage children, but finds blood and destruction at their home. Nauseous she calls fallen angel Alex Grace who is on his way to Buffalo

No one at UDA seems interested in the Henderson case or the fact that more demons have disappeared as Sophie fears paranormal ethnic cleaning. However, when someone tries to kill Sophie, her stiff necked guardian Will, peers and management finally take notice.

Jayne’s third adventure as the only human at UDA (see Under Attack and Under Wraps) is a fun tale though the non-reaction by the heroine’s peers seem unlikely and over the top of the Twin Peaks. The heroine is her usual mix of angst and West Coast shtick as she investigates what is going on amongst the supernatural beings. Fans will enjoy her escapades as she becomes the target of sinister adversaries.

Harriet Klausner

January 21, 2012

Vampire Kiss-Veronica Wolff

Filed under: Author: W,Horror,Title: V

Vampire Kiss
Veronica Wolff
NAL, Mar 6 2012, $9.99
ISBN: 9780451235725

Off the Scottish coast lies the Isle of Night populated by vampires, tracers, watchers, acari and humans. Ronan the vampire tracer recruited from the University of Florida Annelise Drew (see Isle of Night). She is a second year acari student who understands that only the strong survive so she diligently works hard with one goal to get off the island; which means becoming a Watcher even though escape is doubtful.

Alcantara the vampire acts likes Drew enchants him when he accelerates her training so she can be placed on a mission with him. She is to act the part of a serving girl to seven vampires of whom her mentor states are evil. They seek Carden McCloud captured and most likely tortured by these malevolent bloodsuckers. Drew finds the rescue target and gives him her blood. When Alcantara and McCloud meet, Drew realizes they are enemies, which has her wondering why her mentor lied and who the wicked vampire is.

The latest Watchers urban fantasy is an enthralling, twisting thriller in which readers will appreciate the spellbinding in depth look at a vampire island community inside the wonderful world of the Wolff. Since escaping the Isle of Night is more difficult than getting off Alcatraz, Acari accept their role as gladiator students. Sanctioned fights between each other leave some dead; only the best live through the grueling ordeal their instructors call training. Drew is terrific as she completes the mission but learns a lesson to not trust anyone especially vampires as delineating the good, the bad and the ugly is impossible until it is too late.

Harriet Klausner

January 1, 2012

Voyage Across The Stars-David Drake

Voyage Across The Stars
David Drake
Baen, Jan 3 2012, $13.00
ISBN: 9781451637717

“Cross the Stars.” Captain Don Slade retires from the Hammer’s Slammers mercenary unit. He heads home to Tethys looking forward to quality time with his family especially the woman he loves and his son. However, the trek to his remote home is through some of the most outlaw planets in the galaxy and his orb is not euphoric about the return of a military hero.

“Voyage.” Don’s nephew Ned Slade knows his uncle “Mad Dog” deservedly is a legend. Ned does not expect to come close to the mythological heroism of his renowned relative. Trade-ship captain Lissea Doorman hires Ned as part of the crew of the Swift. Her guild masters send her from Telaria to the Lost Colony of Pancathe to retrieve an ancient alien artifact. The trek is dangerous as an adversary want to destroy those on board the Swift.

Voyage Across The Stars contains two entertaining sidebar Hammer’s Slammers outer space thrillers. Both are well written and exciting though somewhat similar in tone as each Slade battles a gauntlet of foes though one is at the end of a glorious career and the other is coming of age at the start. With respective nods to the classics Odyssey by Homer and The Voyage of Argo by Apollonius of Rhodes, readers will enjoy the escapades of the uncle and nephew in the Hammer’s Slammers galaxy.

Harriet Klausner

December 29, 2011

Vengeance Born-Kylie Griffin

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

Vengeance Born
Kylie Griffin
Berkley, Feb 7 2012, $15.00
ISBN: 9780425245261

Tormented Annika the Na’Chi hybrid daughter of the Na’Reish demon chief loathes her sire and his minions as her brutish father constantly with glee reminds her she is a Vengeance Born product of revenge. A healer, she dreams of escaping her torturous life but none of the human blood slaves have ever escaped from the demon realm and lived to tell the story.

The Na’Reish Horde has increased their invasions and abductions in the human realm. Kalan the Lady’s Chosen leader of the Light Blade defends humankind against the demons; he fears his side is losing a war of attrition as his warriors are shrinking in numbers and those still at combat aging. He argues with the Council that radical changes must be implemented now or the demons will soon overwhelm the human realm. When the enemy captures him, a despondent Kalan despairs the massacre is imminent. However, new hope arises when Annika, who he distrusts, offers to free him if he takes her into his realm. Distrusting her new ally but with no turning back as Annika knows her sire branded her for death.

The first Light Blade romantic fantasy is a terrific thriller as the endless war between demon and humans is reaching a critical survival stage for the latter. The lead couple is a strong pairing while the support cast, especially the Na’Chi, the warriors and the Council, enhance the internal squabble in the human realm. With an insightful look at racial intolerance in a time of long-term constant combat and security alert, fans will enjoy Vengeance Born.

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