Archive for February, 2011

Wolfsangel-M.D. Lachlan

February 28, 2011

Wolfsangel

M.D. Lachlan

PYR, Mar 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9781616143572

King Authun leads his men on a raid of a village; but before they arrive at their destination he warns them they will all die.  None are afraid as warriors prefer death in combat.  The monarch’s mission is to find the royal heir to his throne as prophesied by the Queen of the witches.  In a Christian church, Authun finds twin male babies.  He takes the pair with him leaving behind his loyal soldiers except one to die.  In the North Sea his last comrade raises his sword in combat before diving to his death as no one except the witch, the king and his wife will know the heir’s origin.

Several years later, one of the infants Prince Vali the heir lives with a rival ruler.  He loves Adisla and prefers working the land rather than fighting for land.  When raiders attack, Vali uses strategy to defend the village successfully though they capture Adisla.  Those he saved from certain death loath Vali for using unacceptable tactics as the warrior credo insists on fighting to the death.  Cerebral Vali and his feral brother Feileg raised by the Witch Queen as a warrior wolf join on a quest to rescue Adisla though neither realizes they are related.  The adventures of the twins are just beginning.

Using Norse mythology, M.D. Lachlan tells a strong quest fantasy that contains two distinct yet related story lines.  The first described above is a sword and sorcery thriller while the other subplot involved the intrusion of the Gods on the lives of mortals.  Fast-paced and loaded with plenty of action while establishing the Lachlan world order and setting up future escapades; readers will be hooked as the twins chase after raiders to rescue Adisla.  Interestingly even with long stretches without either of the polar opposite twin stars, Wolfsangel enchants the audience. 

Harriet Klausner

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja-John Flanagan

February 28, 2011

The Emperor of Nihon-Ja

John Flanagan

Philomel, Apr 19 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780399255007

In Toscana, the Aridi representatives led by Selethen negotiate a treaty with the Toscan Senate.  The two nations have had wars in the past, but with wiser leaders each sees the benefit of trade and security even as they deploy different military strategies.  At the same time that Will and Halt toss friendly insults at each other while watching the Toscan military perform under the leadership of General Sapristi, Alyss is part of the negotiating team. 

Meanwhile their friend Horace fails to communicate with his comrades in arms as he has spent months in the Nihon-Ja Empire.  However, something is not right as the popular Emperor Lord Shigeru is disposed of in a coup d’état.  Knowing he should stay out of the internal squabble between those loyal to the Emperor and the Arisaka led Senji rebels, but he feels injustice has come to the eastern kingdom.  Soon his worried Araluen friends (Selethen, Will, Alyss and Evanlyn) arrive in Nihon-Ja searching for him.

The latest Ranger’s Apprentice saga is a great thriller that grips the audience as all is quiet on the western front, but civil war has broken out in the east.  The story line is loaded with action from the moment the story line shifts to Nihon-Ja and never slows down with heroes’ regretting they have only one life to give to their emperor.  Fans will enjoy this powerful military thriller in the Flanagan realm as one person can clearly make a difference if he or she takes the risk.

Harriet Klausner

Enigmatic Pilot-Kris Saknussemm

February 28, 2011

Enigmatic Pilot

Kris Saknussemm

Del Rey, Mar 22 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9780812974171

In 1844 in Zanesville, Ohio, clubfooted inventor Hephaestus Sitturd; his Seal islands Creole wife Rapture and their genius five years old son Lloyd receive an invitation to move to Texas.  Hephaestus’s half-brother Micah claims they can make a fortune, but his message is enigmatic as he insists he cannot explain how on paper.

Although mystified by Micah’s odd note as war with Mexico seems imminent, the Sitturd family begins their odyssey across America.  Lloyd a gifted inventor of oddities learns how to play poker from watching St, Ives a riverboat gambler with a mechanical hand containing a saber; they become partners.  He works out the issue of humans flying and encounters robots masquerading as people after meeting the Professor and his two mute wives as ambassadors of Mars.  It is Miss Viola who teaches him the ways of seduction as two ancient arcane societies continue their epochal war with one another over the future of humanity with each believing the brilliant Lloyd will be a tipping point.  However it is teenage Hattie the escaped slave who teaches the lad how to love.

Starting in Zanesville but a couple of centuries earlier than Kris Saknussemm’s previous Zanesville dark futuristic thriller, preadolescent genius Lloyd holds the exhilarating but enigmatic tale together as he creates oddities and meets oddities.  Lloyd learns from the masters while teaching his mentors as well.  However, each time the audience feels comfortable, Kris Saknussemm throws a spitball that spins the moral code elsewhere.  The author extrapolates the present values back to the nineteenth century arguing that the American dream is a nightmarish facade for most and a dream for few even as early as the Antebellum period. 

Harriet Klausner

Blood Wicked-Sharon Page

February 27, 2011

Blood Wicked

Sharon Page

Kensington Aphrodisia, Mar 1 2011, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758250940

In 1820 Vivienne Dare knows only one way to obtain the money pay for the medicine her child needs to stay alive.  The former courtesan uses her body to bring in needed revenue.  She especially services affluent males.

When she is directed to sleep with Lord Heath Winthrop, she emphatically refuses.  She fears the Lord of Blackmoor will demand more than just a night and she will want to obey his desires.  Instead she is ignorant of what Heath wants from her; as the vampire plans to interrogate Vivienne using seduction to obtain answers from her as to what happened to his missing brother Raine.  He thinks she may have been involved or her father who made him ten years ago.

Blood Wicked is a terrific erotic Regency paranormal romance starring two individuals with similar needs and ultimately desires.  Whereas she willingly would sell her soul to save her child’s life, he understands how she feels from his human days as a father whose daughter died.  Character driven, Sharon Page provides another suspenseful Blood Deep historical romantic urban fantasy (see Blood Red and Blood Rose).

Harriet Klausner

In the Arms of Stone Angels-Jordan Dane

February 27, 2011

In the Arms of Stone Angels

Jordan Dane

Harlequin Teen, Mar 22 2011,

ISBN: 9780373210299

In Shawano, Oklahoma when Brenna Nash was fourteen years old, she came upon her best friend Isaac (White Bird) Henry rocking over the corpse of Heather Madsen in his hands and mumbling insanely.  She called 911.  Fearing retaliation from the townsfolk for her daughter doing the responsible thing, Mom takes Brenna with her as she moves to North Carolina leaving behind their family.

Two years later, Brenna’s maternal grandmother dies.  Mom accompanied by a reluctant Brenna returns home to fix up the house in order to sell it. Unable to ignore White Bird, Brenna learns he is in a catatonic state in an asylum.  Although she believes her Brenna was involved in the Madsen murder, Mom proves right about the town; Sheriff Logan also thinks Brenna was involved in the homicide and teens vandalize their home.  However, though warned to stay away from White Bird, Brenna somehow communicates with him when she touches him at the mental hospital.  The horror she “sees’ is the hell he resides in filled with demons and worse.  Her only recourse is to turn to Joe “Spirit Walker” Sunne who does not trust her.

In the Arms of Stone Angels is an engaging teen rural fantasy starring a strong cast who evolve as events happen, especially the young lead.  Brenna at first is overwhelmingly filled with remorse for turning in her BFF, but knows she did the right thing though her emotional regret supersedes her defense mechanism logic.  Although too many threads are left unanswered, readers will enjoy a stop at “A Town Without Pity” (Gene Pitney) as Native American mythos blends with a whodunit in Jordan Dane’s entertaining tale.

Harriet Klausner

WWW: Wonder-Robert J. Sawyer

February 27, 2011

WWW: Wonder

Robert J. Sawyer

Ace, Apr 5 2011, $25.95

ISBN: 9780441019762

Webmind the essence that consciously evolved from the internet continues to prove its altruistic intentions of helping humanity on a variety of fronts like the cure for cancer.  However, the American government pushed by the military-industrial complex wants Webmind destroyed under the guise of a major security threat to the United States. 

Having failed once to eliminate the A.I., the president invokes executive power to approve the Pentagon’s leading A.I. expert Colonel Peyton Hume to apply any force necessary to eliminate the threat to the security of the country.  Hume directs his team of underground hackers to overwhelm and rip away the awareness of being of Webmind.  However, his secure unit begins to vanish one at a time while Webmind’s BFF teenage mathematical genius Caitlin Decter vows to save the life of her buddy who gave her the gift of sight.

The third and final thriller in the WWW saga is an engaging climax to an intriguing story line.  Action-packed, it behooves fans to have read the previous two entries (Wake and Watch) as the tale ties up seemingly every thread (major and minor) so that at times it feels PowerPoint deep.  Still well written, readers will enjoy Robert J. Sawyer’s deep look at the Web age of American power in which leaders believe they need threats like Big Brother is watching you even when none exists.

Harriet Klausner

Con and Conjure-Lisa Shearin

February 26, 2011

Con and Conjure

Lisa Shearin

Ace, Mar 29 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780441020188

Raine Benares has always been the black sheep of her family as the seeker of the lost while her blood relatives are thieves; in fact her kin are the most infamous criminal clan in the seven kingdoms.  However, Raine turns to her family for help after she and the Saghred soul-stealing stone bond; not to de-link them but to help her pull off a necessary con to end the stalking by elves and goblins who want the power of the rock.

The King of the Goblins Sathik Mal’Salin and the darkest mage Sarad Nukpana each plans to use the Saghred for personnel gain at the cost of the kingdoms.  The elven leaders Taltek Balmorlan and Magus Carnades Silvanus send her former fiancé Rache Kai the elven assassin to hunt her down as her powerful enemies have no monetary problems.  With her allies Mychael and Tam and her con artist family, Raine sets in motion a diabolical counter scheme.

The fifth Benares fantasy is a terrific tale that moves forward the overarching saga theme of the apocalypse soon seemingly a certainty.  The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while the wise cracking heroine learns the depth of her power at the same time eluding a horde of foes who want to use her to use the stone.  Series fans will enjoy the latest entry (see Bewitched and Betrayed and The Trouble With Demons) as Con and Conjure is a sly family affair stone included.

Harriet Klausner

Shady Lady-Ann Aguirre

February 25, 2011

Shady Lady

Ann Aguirre

Roc, Apr 5 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451463258

Corine Solomon has the parapsychological skill of touching an object and learning its past.  Following the Kilmer, Georgia visit home fiasco (See Hell Fire), Corine is euphoric to be back at her pawnshop in Mexico.  She is about to touch the salt half of a salt and pepper shaker starring Eros and Psyche respectively.  However, Kel Ferguson, who seemingly can’t be killed, enters her store and tells her not to touch Eros as it is hexed.  Drug lord Montoya sent her the cursed object that would have killed her if Kel Ferguson had not intervened.

Corine knows that once again she owes her life to God’s Hand as this warrior, who believes if the Lord had given him the assignment he would have prevented the Holocaust, explains he is to protect her but must not interfere with free will.  Corine wonders how much celestial debt she owes between Kel and Maury the demon who saved her soul.  Kel explains Montoya is coming for her with everything in his arsenal, which includes warlocks and voodoo practitioners while she and the three males (Kel, Chance and Jesse) in her life must fight back to keep her loved ones safe.

The latest Solomon urban fantasy (See Blue Diablo) is a fabulous action-packed thriller that hooks grateful (except for the lack of sleep) sub-genre fans from the moment Kel rushes into Corine’s store and never slows down until the final confrontation with the Montoya mob of hit men and magical mobsters.  Fast-paced, readers will fully enjoy Corine becoming mob enemy numero uno when all she wants is to go back to being a touchy feely proprietor.

Harriet Klausner

Magic on the Hunt-Devon Monk

February 25, 2011

Magic on the Hunt

Devon Monk

Roc, Apr 5 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780451463913

Having done the impossible when they escaped death’s realm through the gate (see Magic at the Gate) lovers Allie Beckstrom and Zayvion Jones desperately need some R&R.  However, being back in Portland does not denote safe recuperation.  Instead Authority leader Sedra’s top assistant Dane Lanister arrives with weapons aimed to kill. 

He threatens killing Jones and tearing Allie apart limb by limb until she informs him where Jingo Jingo took the kidnapped Sedra as he believes her father’s consciousness inside of Allie’s brain will know.  At the same time, Dane threatens torture and death, magic practitioner Leander escaped from death’s realm, but needs a body to host his essence and believes he has found one in a prisoner locked in the Authority’s jail.  No time for the weary as Beckstrom and Jones must find Sedra and prevent Leander from causing hell to come to Portland.

The sixth Magic urban fantasy is a superb tale that has the heroic duet running around trying to prevent two disasters from occurring.  Without Sedra, the Authority Council will not just fall apart, but will fight for control.  Leander poses a different but as dire a threat at a time when the Council is internally headless.  Readers will enjoy trekking the streets of Portland with Beckstrom and Jones who believe they must have brought a bit of death back with them.

Harriet Klausner

Surrender the Dark-L.A. Banks

February 25, 2011

Surrender the Dark

L.A. Banks

Pocket, Mar 29 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451607789

Besides being a chain smoker Celeste Jackson is a chain drinker and a constant abuse victim.  However, in her mind, she believes she deserves punishment as she suffers from schizophrenia.  Her mental illness culminates when her abusive boyfriend Brandon threatens to kill her and Celeste sees a demon residing inside him that he commands to leave; as the horned figure flees the human host, Brandon crumbles in death.

Fleeing for her life, Celeste does what she always does when she hallucinates; she stops at a bar for a drink or ten and a pack of Newports.  Her thoughts are she has to get out of this place as Philly is not a safe haven for her.  Azrael the Angel who left the Light to protect Celeste meets her at the bar.  She thinks he is crazier than she is, which says a lot as he explains who she is and why opposing sides recognize she is critical in the war over humanity.  She feels safe with him and he tries to obtain her trust. Celeste must serve as a rallying cry to gather her hybrid angelic-human peers the Remnant and other sensitive receptors to stop the evil dark from continuing their rule over humanity.  However, Azrael’s attraction to his ward could cost him his wings and mankind their last chance for salvation; only Celeste’s addictions may prevent his obsession leaving him wingless forever.

This is a terrific urban fantasy with a throwback feel to when authors used the genre to spotlight social issues.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Celeste orders the demon out of Brandon and never slows down even while L.A. Banks looks deeply at what ails the country.  Readers will appreciate the battle for humanity between angels and demons as a schizophrenic addict serves as the pivotal essence in a war for eternity.

Harriet Klausner