Archive for January, 2011

This Side of the Grave-Jeaniene Frost

January 31, 2011

This Side of the Grave

Jeaniene Frost

Avon, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780091783180

In Ohio Ghouls have been attacking vampires without Masters.  There is a fear of a species war exploding unless the assaults ends.  Vampire couple Cat and Bones head to the Buckeye State to prevent the deadly combat.  Once the notorious half-breed government agent the Red Reaper who destroyed vampires Cat has evolved into a full Undead, but has skills no one has seen since the death in medieval times of Joan of Arc. 

Apollyon the Ghoul insists that Cat is proof that the vampires are trying to take over the world starting with his species.  Marie Laveau the Ghoul feels yanked in two directions that have friends and foes wondering who she sides with while Cat’s mother has turned into a vampire at a time when all hell is breaking loose within her family and across the paranormal communities.  Only with Bones does Cat feel comforted, but has little time for that respite.

The Night Huntress urban fantasy (see Destined for an Early Grave) continues one of the better series as the romantic subplot takes a back seat to the prime theme of the likely hellish paranormal species war.  The cast that runs the species gamut is fully developed while the lead heroes struggle with preventing a nasty war; as each has come a long way from innocence and uncle dearest.  Fast-paced and loaded with non-stop action, readers will appreciate Jeaniene Frost’s aptly titled exhilarating thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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Outside In-Maria V. Snyder

January 31, 2011

Outside In

Maria V. Snyder

Harlequin Teen, Feb 15 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210114

Trella led the Scrubs revolt that turned her world upside down as she and her rebels defeated the Uppers who previously ruled the world.  After the victory, she and others learn of the existence of the Outside world. 

Excited Trella plans to go back to being a quiet citizen living with her Upper, Riley.  However, winning at war is not governance as those now in charge learn.  Additionally something from Outside wants to enter; forcing Trella out of her short lived teenage retirement to unite her friends to prevent whatever from outer Outside achieving In.

The sequel to Inside Out targets older middle and younger high school students with an intriguing complex story line as the heroine learns what relativity means as Outside meant outside her cube, but now knows there is outside the outside.  There is less action than in the previous revolt against the dystopian society, but teen readers still will enjoy this exciting science fiction tale as Maria V. Snyder once again avoids dumbing down her complex premise treating young readers with respect as the author further complicates Trella’s run.

Harriet Klausner

Rogue Oracle-Alayna Williams

January 31, 2011

Rogue Oracle

Alayna Williams

Juno, Feb 22 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781439182819

Criminal profiler Tara Sheridan is an expert forensic psychologist who enhances her abilities with tarot card readings.   However her skills failed her when a psychopath nearly killed her.  Shaken to her bone marrow, Tara resigns from her position at the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Special Projects” unit.

Recently several of the unit’s former operatives have vanished under strange circumstances.  Tara’s former lover Harry Li asks for her help on his investigation partly because he needs her special skills and partly to keep her safe.  The clues lead to Chernobyl where the pair tries to prevent a second catastrophe from occurring.  At the same time Tara struggles with her dubious relationship with Delphi’s Daughters especially their chief.

This is an engaging thriller due more to the fascinating villain who steals the show because the motives that drive the adversary ring true.  In her second profiling appearance (see The dark Oracle) Tara is an intriguing blending of science and pseudoscience as she combines the paranormal with the profiling normal.  Although at times the plot slows down and the ending is too low key after a Chernobyl II countdown, readers will find themselves zoning out during long expository passages, and a very anticlimactic ending leaves you with a sense of dissatisfaction. Still, the great villain and good visual descriptions keep this from being a total loss.

Harriet Klausner

Accidentally Catty-Dakota Cassidy

January 29, 2011

 Accidentally Catty

Dakota Cassidy

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $15.00

ISBN: 9780425239605

Fortyish divorcee Katherine “Katie” Woods, DVM moves her veterinary practice to Upstate New York to begin her life anew as the new forty is thirty for the most part.  However, if she knew her patient would be an unconscious cougar her staff brought in from a nearby exotic animal park, she might have reconsidered relocating. 

The cougar scratches Katie who soon finds some odd bodily modifications such as her trimmed nails and the rest of hand has changed into something a bit more beastly needing a manicure; while the animal she caged over night is now a naked man suffering from amnesia.  Wanda Schwarz Jefferson (see the Accidental Human) and the OOPS unit arrive to assist Katie with her transformation.  However, even with her own zoo crew and the OOPS squad at her side investigating the mystery of the shapeshifting were-cougar, no one can help Katie with her animal need to make love with her patient; a taboo for a veterinarian.

.The latest “Accidental romantic urban fantasy (see Accidentally Demonic) is a lighthearted frolic that will remind readers of the 1930s screwball comedies.  The story line is fast-paced but never quite gels as everyone wants to be co- stand-up comics performing at the Improv Comedy Club in front of the in crowd.  Still readers will enjoy the fifth paranormal conversion.

Harriet Klausner

Lady-Protector-L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

January 29, 2011

Lady-Protector

L.E. Modesitt, Jr.

Tor, Mar 15 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765328045

Mykella had never expected to replace her father Feranyt as the Protector of Lanachrona because she had no psionic talent and several males including her uncle and cousin, and her brother were in line before her.  However, with her father’s death due to poisoning by his brother and nephew during a failed bloody coup, her latent psi skills surfaced.  She has become the first Lady-Protector since the legendary Mykella the Great created the position.  The new Protector knows she can depend on only her sisters Rachylana and Salyna, as traitors are everywhere.

However besides the family seditious deadly activity, Mykella learns that Lanachrona is bankrupt.  Additionally she immediately must prove her worth to the Arms Commander Areyst starting with no honorable funeral for the deceased traitors.  However, she has no time for her country’s healing and economic recovery; her military leaders warn her that neighbors like Midcoast or Northcoast see an opportunity to invade with a tyro female running a devastated divided nation.  An ancient magic arises within her that gives her hope to save her people and fear that the ancient enemy will also arise.

The latest The Corean Chronicles is an exciting political-military fantasy starring a strong heroine and a sold cast especially Areyst.  The story line overall is fast-paced though L.E. Modesitt, Jr. somewhat mutes the pace with interwoven references of the back story (see The Lord-Protector).  Still with a touch of romance, plenty of political intrigue and loads of life twisting lethal magic, fans of the saga will enjoy Mykella as the Lady-Protector even if she takes over a role too easily that she never trained for as she never expected to sit in the power seat.

Harriet Klausner

Under Wraps-Hannah Jayne

January 28, 2011

Under Wraps

Hannah Jayne

Kensington, Mar 1 2011, $6.99

ISBN 9780758258922

In San Francisco, beneath the police department is located the Underworld Detection Agency.  Their mission is to conduct investigations and negotiations especially involving humans for their paranormal clients.  In fact, the only “Breather” human working for UDA is administrative assistant Sophie Lawson.

Recently, the supernatural crowd is shocked when a serial killer begins a deadly murderer’s spree of the paranormal.  Sophie becomes worried when her nice boss Peter Sampson the werewolf vanishes without a trace as she fears he may have been a victim of the predator.  Never working the field, Sophie tentatively investigates her employer’s vanishing, which leads her to police detective Parker Hayes.  Though attracted to the cop, she begins to realize that he is not telling her something critical either about Peter or himself, so she distrusts him.

This is an engaging investigative urban fantasy that takes a while to get the elements in place, but once that occurs (about a fourth of the novel) turns into a delightful thriller, extremely diffuclt to put down.  Sophie the token breather keeps the story lien focused while her relationships to her werewolf boss and a vampiress roommate make the paranormal seem normal.  Fans will appreciate her adventures on and under the streets of San Francisco as she and the cop she desires with her heart but distrusts with her head search for the lost lupine shifter.

Harriet Klausner

Primal Bonds- Jennifer Ashley

January 28, 2011

Primal Bonds

Jennifer Ashley

Berkley, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN 9780425240786

Humans keep shapeshifters in run down squabble.  They also insist the beasts wear fae created collars to insure these monsters are unable to use their animal nature.

Half-breed fae-lupine Andrea Gray flees from a potential mate who insists she belongs to him.  She arrives at the Shiftertown section of Austin where she hopes to find protection.  Feline shifter Sean Morrissey, who possesses the powerful shifter soul release sword, claims her as his mate though he does so in name only to keep Andrea safe.  As the two alphas begin to investigate their desire for one another, they fall in love, but each fears to raise the issue of being true life mates as he expected no one due to his sword’s skill and she has always detested the concept of belonging to any mate even as she knows he is not just any mate.

The latest Shifters Unbound urban fantasy (see Pride Mates) is an enjoyable thriller as the Ashley mythos is further developed with a sense that shifters exist and what happens in Austen is genuine.  The story line is fast-paced with the sexual taut relationship between the feline and the lupine cutting across the action packed tale.  Readers will enjoy the Primal Bonds between two alphas who mate at the drop of a page to the delight of fans.

Harriet Klausner

Late Eclipses-Seanan McGuire

January 27, 2011

Late Eclipses

Seanan McGuire

Daw, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756406660

Half-breed private investigator Toby Daye finally believes she belongs in Faerie after leaving the land two years ago for San Francisco.  She even has made a shaky peace with an adversary Tybalt the Cat King.  However her serenity abruptly ends when her close friend the undine Lily the Lady of the Tea Gardens was recently poisoned and is dying.  She becomes further shocked when Luna the wife of liege lord Sylvester Torquil becomes ill.  Toby believes someone is targeting her through people she cares about.

At the same time Oleander de Merelands has returned.  She was a key part of a group that kept Toby trapped as a fish for years.   No one else believes Oleander is back as only Toby can see her, which leaves her friends wondering if the changeling has become insane.  Crazy or not, Toby investigates before something else horrific occurs to someone else she cares about.

The fourth October Daye urban fantasy whodunit series (see An Artificial Night, Rosemary and Rue, and A Local Habitation) is a fabulous thriller as the heroine burned by both sides of her DNA has a lingering distrust of everyone so her paranoia kicks in and she does what she does best: investigate.  Fast-paced, the case is personal as friends are dying; she is the accused; her enemy has surfaced; and her mom is somehow in the middle of what the heroine believes is a concerted effort to destroy her.  No one provides better Noir tours of San Francisco and Faerie than Ms. Daye does when she resolutely works an investigation.

Harriet Klausner

Blackout-Rob Thurman

January 27, 2011

Blackout

Rob Thurman

Roc, Mar 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451463869

Hybrid human-Auphe Cal Leandros awakens on a beach with no idea how he got there or why he is surrounded by dead spidery monsters.  Although his memory is gone, Cal believes in his gut he is a natural born killer as he heads into Nevah’s Landing, South Carolina.

Two men he does not recognize arrive claiming they are here to help him.  One of them says he is Cal’s purebred brother Niko and the other insists he is their friend Robin Goodfellow.  Niko explains they are BFFs also and run a private investigator business together.  He distrusts both of them as his instincts, especially his Auphe side, insist he do so.  That changes when more spidery monsters attack and they have his back as other enemies surface.

The latest Cal Leandros thriller is an exciting tale enhanced by a realistic modification in the relationship between the siblings.  While Niko is hurt by his brother’s behavior towards him, Cal continues to struggle between his dueling dual natures as Cal fears what he truly is since he has no memory of who he is.  Filled with action, Rob Thurman provides a terrific twist to the protagonist in the angst-laden Blackout (see Roadkill and Deathwish to fully understand the spin).

Harriet Klausner

The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse

January 27, 2011

The Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse

Steven C. Schlozman, MD

Grand Central, Mar 25 2011, $19.99

ISBN: 9780446564663

A zombie plague has been turned loose upon the earth, but the disease is not natural as it is man made.  The research has turned people into NGH, No Longer Human.  This leads to medical researchers on a remote island dissecting and experimenting on captured zombies seeking a cure with the belief that NGH types are classified as monstrous beasts who live to feed endlessly on human flesh. 

Nuclear bombs fail to end the spread of the epidemic.  Meanwhile on the coral atoll Bassas de India between Madagascar and Africa, a research center has been established to find a cure.  Led by renowned zombie expert Dr. Stanley Blum and Dr. Blanca Gutierrez, volunteers have come to help.  They conclude that the disease works similar to catching the flu with prions playing a key role.  They believe they are closing in on a vaccination, but abruptly they seem to have vanished.  However, Dr. Blum’s The Zombie Autopsies’ journals have been found and under review by the World Health Organization; as time runs out on Homo sapiens remaining the dominant species on the planet.

As Z books go, The Zombie Autopsies is a truly gruesome horror medical thriller; not so much due to someone creating the disease, but more because of the inhuman experiments on humanoid bodies by scientists mindful of Dr. Mengele and the Nazis.  Although the reader will understand the despite attempts to save humanity, the scientific saviors lose what makes a person human while conducting their research.  Dr. Blum and the Z crew put the faces to the tale as he knows he will never leave the island as he regrets what he believes he must do while fans will have to decide whether the zombie is a monster or sick grandma as this is a chilling, vividly gory thriller.

Harriet Klausner