Archive for August, 2011

The Fat Kid’s Wolfy Revenge: Not for the Weak Hearted or Mature Minded

August 31, 2011

The Fat Kid’s Wolfy Revenge: Not for the Weak Hearted or Mature Minded

Kristian J. Hanson

Outskirts, Apr 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781432773151

 

In Gilbert, Arizona high school student Joe Winnie is as uncool as a teen can be even living in a predominantly Mormon town.  He loathes school; the girls treat him like a pariah when they ignore him.  He especially detests his female peers who when they were younger were his friend, but now treat him like he possesses a contagious disease.

 

As he faces the fact he has no one to take to the prom, Joe watches a seven foot plus werewolf rip apart a door to door (always during a football game) Mormon missionary.  Although terrorized he may be the dessert, Joe watches the Lycan tear into faked boobs Heather.  He decides not to be the lunatic savior from movies like the Howling, but instead starts a blog following the murderous and raping exploits of the American Werewolf in Gilbert.  As his blog becomes the in thing, his new BFF the beast that bites leads Joe to ask the rich Brazilian beauty Fernanda to the prom as he assumes she does not have werewolf catnip AKA silicon transplants.

 

This gory yet entertaining urban fantasy lampoons the sub-genre’s tendency towards either heroic passionate paranormal hunks in tune with their feminine side or amateurs risking their lives (and souls) to take down the maniacal beast.  Although women are the prime victims of this brutal werewolf; those grotesque assaults are a key element in mocking the compassionate caring hero of romantic fantasy.  Nothing is sacred in Kristian J. Hanson’s “Not for the Weak Hearted or Mature Minded” except Joe’s staying power went from 30 to 156 seconds.

 

Harriet Klausner

A Vampire Christmas Carol-Sarah Gray

August 31, 2011

A Vampire Christmas Carol

Sarah Gray

Kensington, Oct 1 2011, $5.00

ISBN: 9780758266835

 

Buried seven years ago, Jacob Marley visits his former partner Ebenezer Scrooge to warn him that all the misery and isolation the latter has felt has been caused by vampires who want to insure he fails to fulfill his destiny.  Marley explains he will have three ghosts visit him to affirm what he has told Scrooge that the undead bloodsuckers have caused his rift with those he loved like his family, his former fiancée Belle and his employee Bob Cratchit.

 

The spiritual journey Scrooge undertakes leads him to better comprehend what has happened to him as he finally understands what caused the estrangement with Belle and learns of the personal hardships Cratchit and  his family face, and finally his only living blood relative Fred his nephew who still cares about his acrimonious misery uncle.  This is Scrooge’s last chance to save his soul as his loved ones are in mortal combat against the vampires.

 

This is an engaging retelling of the classic holiday tale as Sarah Gray provides a fascinating cause for Scrooge’s acrimony.  The story line follows the ghostly guides but gravely focus on the war for Scrooge’s soul between the vampires isolating him and his loved ones trying to save him.  Although lacking the satirical humor of similar reenactments like Steve Hockensmith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Wayne Josephson’s Emma and the Vampires, fans who enjoy paranormal renditions of Victorian and Regency classics will want to read this exciting but bleakly grayish vampiric Christmas Carol.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Vengeful Dead-J. N. Duncan

August 31, 2011

The Vengeful Dead

J. N. Duncan

Kensington, Oct 1 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780758255648

 

In Chicago FBI agent Jackie Rutledge struggles with all that has happened to her in a very short time (see Deadworld).  She grieves the death of her BFF Laurel Carpenter whose psychic skills apparently reach from the grave as she haunts Jackie in death almost as much as she haunted Jack when they were live partners.  Jack also knows she needs help for her Death Valley depression in which she feels stuck in a personal deadly version of Groundhog Day starring herself and Laurel; but choose to avoid the FBI therapist.  She also struggles with her new found paranormal skills that she does not want. 

 

When a murder victim pregnant Rosa wants revenge, the angry spirit chooses bodies to possess in her thirst.  One of Jack’s new undesirable talents is to sense ghostly homicides so she knows she must stop Rosa.  She ventures back into deadwood to confront The Vengeful Dead Rosa with her team (maybe lover vampiric private investigator Nick Anderson, his vampiric assistant Cynthia and his office manager Shelby the psychic).

 

The second deadwood urban fantasy police procedural is an enjoyable tale that starts slow as much of the first half focus is a deep look at Jack’s mental state.  About a little more than half way into the story line, the pace suddenly accelerates as the plot stops the mental case scenario to concentrate on the investigation; Jack and her paranormal crew try to prevent The Vengeful Dead with a cause that the kick butt heroine empathizes with from enacting her plan. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Bound by Blood-Amanda Ashley

August 31, 2011

Bound by Blood

Amanda Ashley

Zebra, Oct 4 2011, $6.99

ISBN: 9781420121322

 

As her college graduation present, her dad gives Kaitlyn Sherrad a little place in the country that happens to overlook Lake Tahoe.  Kaitlyn loves her father Drake the Master of the Carpathian Coven vampire and her once human mother Elena (see Bound by Night for their tale). 

 

Her parents return to the Romanian Old Country on urgent clan business so she goes to her luxurious cabin alone.  Kaitlyn meets and falls in love with casino owner Zackary Ravenscroft.  However, she initially is unaware that he is a six century old vampire whose family loathes the East European clan as much as hers detests these upstarts over a two decade old incident.  As the heir to the Carpathian Coven, Kaitlyn knows her beloved is forbidden fruit, but history apparently repeats the same mistakes especially with an unknown adversary plotting to take down the couple.

 

The second Bound romantic urban fantasy is a delightful tale of forbidden love starring fully developed protagonists and a well rounded support cast that deftly ties up threads from the first thriller.  The fascinating star-crossed second generation romance is fun to follow though the plot follows the expected course as there are no major twists.  Still sub-genre fans will appreciate Amanda Ashley’s wonderful paranormal romance.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Glow-Amy Kathleen Ryan

August 31, 2011

Glow

Amy Kathleen Ryan

St. Martin’s Griffin, Sep 13 2011, $17.99

ISBN: 9780312590567

 

The two ships (the New Horizon and the Empyrean) are the only hope for mankind to find a new earth as the old planet is dead.  However, Pastor Anne Mather on the New Horizon wants to establish a theocracy so believes her vessel must land on the new earth first and needs the young breeding females on board the sister ship; as there are none on her vessel.  She leads a preemptive attack killing most adults on board the Empyrean and abducting all the breeding age females and younger girls.

 

Pastor Mather explains to her female prisoners they were rescued to birth the next generation.  The young women and girls are stunned but turn to fifteen year old Waverly for leadership; she directs a passive resistance.  On the Empyrean rival teenagers, Waverly’s boyfriend Kieran and sly Seth, compete for control of the rudderless ship. 

 

The first Sky Chasers outer space thriller is an entertaining young adult science fiction.  The fast-paced story line rotates perspective between the twin ships fueled by betrayal (not just by Pastor) being the means of choice to achieve a certain end.  Although the male lead teens on the Empyrean seem incompetent with Kieran hesitant and Seth uncaring about others when compared to heroic Waverly who quietly leads her troops in opposition, readers will enjoy Amy Kathleen Ryan’s engaging tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

If I Die-Rachel Vincent

August 29, 2011

If I Die

Rachel Vincent

Harlequin Teen, Sep 27 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780373210329

 

Following the sudden death of math teacher Mr. Wesner, Eastlake hires Mr. Beck to replace him.  He is gorgeous and even his handwriting on the board is gorgeous.  All the girls are attracted to the hunk with many coming to school early and staying late just to see him.  The only two females not attracted to Mr. Beck are rivals for the heart of Nash the banshee, Kaylee the banshee screamer of death and Sabine the Mara bringer of nightmares. 

 

They realize why Mr. Beck is the fantasy of their female classmates; as he is an incubus whose sustenance is absorbing the desires of humans.  Kaylee and Mara believe that if Mr. Beck learns they know his secret, he will come after them.  As her current life span draws closer to her final soul scream for herself, Kaylee teams up with her adversary Mara to rescue the females of Eastlake from the handsomest male at school.  However, the incubus is more diabolical than Kaylee imagined as he forces her to do his bidding even if it means harming her relationship with Nash to save her friends’ souls.

 

The latest Soul Screamers urban teen fantasy (see My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Save) is an entertaining entry as Kaylee struggles to balance her teen life at school and at home with saving the lives of her schoolmates from the clever incubus.  Young adult readers will enjoy Kaylee’s exploits as she ponders not If I Die but when I die soon in an exciting twisting (perhaps too many spins) thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Darkest Surrender-Gena Showalter

August 29, 2011

The Darkest Surrender

Gena Showalter

Harlequin HQN, Sep 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9780373775811

 

Fifteen centuries ago, fourteen years old Kaia Skyhawk wants to be known as the strongest harpy.  Her only rival at the Harpy Games is Juliette the Eradicator.  Juliet captured a male but her new consort remains defiant.  Thinking she can make this warrior obey, Kaia, ignoring her mother’s admonition about men, frees him.  He goes on a rampage killing many harpies. It is fifteen hundred years later and everyone especially her mother blames Kaia the Disappointment for the massacre; she and her sister Bianka have been banned from participating in the games ever since.

 

For the first time since the disaster, the Skyhawks sisters are invited to the games.  Bianka and Kaia know someone is setting them up for something though it could be Juliette or even their mom, but each agrees they must attend.  She also tells Bianka that she believes Strider is her soulmate, but he and his demon Defeat refuse to accept their attraction to the notorious harpy.  However, he reconsiders his position of keeping his distance when he learns first prize at the games is the dangerous ancient Paring Rod that could kill him and his Dark Lord peers.

 

The latest Lords of the Underworld romantic fantasy (see The Darkest Secret) is a terrific refreshing entry due to the macabrely humorous yet lunatic Harpy culture.  The story line is fast-paced from the opening fiasco and never slows down as Kaia who tasted defeat refuses to accept it again except as the demon accompanying her Strider.  Madcap, the zany Harpy Games is fun to attend.

 

Harriet Klausner

How Firm a FoundationDavid Weber-

August 29, 2011

How Firm a Foundation

David Weber

Tor, Sep 13 2011, $27.99

ISBN: 9780765315052

 

The leaders of the five year old Charisian Empire has won many battles at sea against the much bigger Church of God Awaiting that declared Emperor Cayleb, Empress Sharleyan and their supporters as heretics.  The hero of the naval warfare, Cayleb understands the impact of the enemy’s religious terrorism and the diabolical isolation scheme, but is unsure what his small nation can do to end the reign of terror.

 

Besides an insidious propaganda campaign that excommunicates critics, the Church deploys assassins to kill the empire’s leaders and anyone on the Safehold mainland supporting Charisian.  The Inquisitors torture anyone to send the message to those who consider allying with Charisian.  In that scenario as the cruel foe tightens the knot around the island, the cybernetic avatar of long dead Merlin believes the answer lies dormant underneath Zion’s Temple in the heart of the Church of God Awaiting.

 

The fifth Safehold science fiction thriller (see By Heresies Distressed and A Mighty Fortress) contains the usual military warfare but at much smaller scale due to the reign of terror campaign.  The story line also focuses on the social and political issues facing those in opposition to the Church.  Safehold focuses on a theocracy that brutally stomps on individual rights.  The fear of freedom that Charisian represents is violently opposed by religious dogma that what the Church does is Godly even sacrificing the innocent.  Cayleb remains a strong hero though still somewhat Harrington-light as he is more confortable at war than at running a country.  Readers will relish David Weber’s latest powerful condemnation of those who equate their church is the state; or oligopoly dictating society.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

The Bible Repairman and Other Stories-Tim Powers

August 28, 2011

The Bible Repairman and Other Stories

Tim Powers

Tachyon, Sep 1 2011, $14.95

ISBN: 9781616960476

 

“The Bible Repairman”.  Torrez knows the cost of his blood as his soul has dwindled to almost nonexistence.  His descent started with a murder leading him to find the spirits of the restless dead and cleansing bibles of evil verses, but he could not save his late daughter or his marriage.  Now a wannabe client wants what is left of his tainted blood.

 

“A Soul in a Bottle”.  George meets highly regarded dead poetess Cheyenne who demands a second chance at life.   He will learn verses change as circumstances change.

 

“The Hour of Babel”. It has been forty years since the angel fell into the pizza parlor leading to a tragedy that still haunts the survivors.  One of whom wants to go back to 1975 to alter the past and subsequently change the time line.

 

“Parallel Lines”.  Septuagenarian Caroleen struggles with the return of her twin sister BeeVee who committed suicide when the cancer pain overwhelmed her.  Now Caroleen fears BeeVee wants to add the second date etched in her sibling’s stone.

 

“A Time to Cast Away Stones”.  With Byron and Shelly free of the succubus’s control (see The Stress of Her Regard), Edward wants to help the Greeks deal with the Nephilim.   

 

“A Journey of Only Two Paces”.  As the executor of the late John Ranald’s will, Kohler meets his Widow Mrs. Hathaway to complete the Letter Testamentary Kabbalah soul transmigration.

 

Although the six super selections have previously been published in diverse small prints, this is the first time together in one book to the delight of fans of Tim Powers, who provides exciting dark looks at the hearts of people forced to select between soul sapping evils.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Frail-Joan Frances Turner

August 28, 2011

Frail

Joan Frances Turner

Ace, Oct 4 2011, $24.95

ISBN: 9780441020706

 

Zombie was always a part of the population, but unless there was a significant outbreak, normal humans assumed these creatures were a George Romero Pittsburgh myth.  These reanimated corpses exist filled with maggots and rotting leaking flesh.  One bite of a living human changes the victim into a zombie. 

 

The Feeding Plague turned America to Dust changing humans and zombies into something else.  Amy is one of the humans in post-apocalyptic America who did not catch the Feeding Plague.  In fact in her small-town, Amy is the only pure Frail human left.  She befriends an Ex, Lisa, who like all of her species is invulnerable; as the Ex populace is stronger, faster, and deadlier than the two groups they evolved from.  The pair is kidnapped and taken to a community run by Exs who enslave the Frail.  Lisa protects and constantly saves Amy from the masters until she is brought to a scientific lab run by an Ex.  There she learns about the Frails and Humans, a place where both groups are treated equally.

 

Frail is an incredible horror thriller that contains  plenty of post-apocalyptic action while also asking what makes a sentient being human as readers will consider Descartes: “I think therefore I am.” and Sartre’s “I am, therefore I think.”  Amy is a courageous human who is very afraid but uses her fears to escape from essences who want to harm her.  Her relationship with Lisa affirms that diverse beings can become friends.  Joan Frances Turner provides a tense thriller that readers will devour.

 

Harriet Klausner