Archive for November, 2011

Skirmish-Michelle West

November 30, 2011

Skirmish

Michelle West

Daw, Jan 3 2012, $25.95

ISBN 9780756407018

 

In the Essalieyan Empire, the Terafin leader of the House Terafin is dead, a victim of demonic assassination.  A power struggle ensues as to who will replace the head of the most powerful House.  Former Averallaan street and Undercity urchin Jewel “Jay” ATerafin, encouraged by her late mentor, her den mates and her magical associates (two immortals, the Winter King stag and three giant winged cats who never shut up), considers applying for the vacant position.

 

Four candidates announce they want the job; Jay is not one of them.  Demons stalk and attack her while she deliberates whether she wants the job.  Peaceful transition is impossible as each side has human and magical allies that they deploy.

 

The latest House War political fantasy (see House Name and City of Night) is an engaging thriller as civil war to take charge of the most powerful House has begun.  Jay has come a long way since Rath, the late Terafin’s brother, found her (see Hidden City) and brought her to his estranged sister.  However, the key to this exciting thriller is the magic feels genuine and lethal as paranormal combat has begun.  Although fans will be disappointed in how Jay employs her skills, the demise of a major figure in the previous three entries brings freshness with death a real possibility to anyone in the House War saga.

 

Harriet Klausner

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Cobra Guardian-Timothy Zahn

November 29, 2011

Cobra Guardian

Timothy Zahn

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781451637656

 

Governor-General Chintawa seeks the only female Cobra Jin Moreau Broom.  Her second son Lorne pretends ignorance though he knows his mom and older brother Merrick illegally fought on the side of the Qasamans against the Troft invaders (see Cobra Alliance).  Merrick remains on Qasama receiving treatment for severe injuries while Jin travels with Siraj Akim the Qasaman Djinn to Aventine.   Chintawa assigns Lorne to find his mother; he also directs his new assistant Nissa Gendreves to help him.

 

Troft ships arrive at Aventine where they release deadly spine leopards.  Meanwhile a family reunion on Caelian occurs as the Cobra and the Qasaman become tentative allies in the hostilities against the Troft who are not entirely monolithic combative as the Cobra World Council previously thought.

 

The Cobra War Book 2 (see Cobra Alliance) is a terrific military science fiction tale as the conflict with the Qasaman has somewhat abated due to the heroism of the mother-son team.  The Troft show a schism as not all their houses are behind a second war.  Although the characterizations are very thin, the Jin-Siraj relationship is fascinating. Still with plenty of personal courage, fans of the saga will enjoy the latest escapades of those deployed in space military soldiers.

 

Harrier Klausner

 

Galactic Courier-A Bertram Chandler

November 29, 2011

Galactic Courier

A Bertram Chandler

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $12.00

ISBN: 9781451637632

 

“Star Courier.”  Former Federation Survey Service Commander John Grimes establishes the Far Traveler Couriers.  As owner and solo operator he makes deliveries from his home base of Tiralbin to Boggarty on board his Little Sister vessel until the Shaara capture him and display him as a low level beast.

 

“To Keep the Ship.”  Little Sister remains under arrest to be auctioned to pay Grimes’ fines on Pangst for taking native animals to the New Syrtis Zoo.  Grimes needs money so he takes the tedious job on the Bronson Star.  However, when he rescues Susie and her friends; they reciprocate by taking over the cruiser and threatening to kill him unless he cooperates.

 

“Matilda’s Stepchildren.”  On the Bronson Star, Grimes transport muckraker Fenella Pruin so that she can do a story on the sex industry of Venusberg.  The pair mutually detest one another though the boring voyage is made fun by fighting for top potion.  Grimes ends up in the midst of a clean-up operation and meets Underpeople Shirl & Darleen

 

“Star Loot.”  After Little Sister is sold, Grimes buys Epsilon Scorpii; which he rechristens as Sister Sue.  He joins the El Doradan Navy as a privateer. 

 

The third exciting John Grimes omnibus saga (see To The Galactic Rim and First Command) reprints his adventures as a Galactic Courier.  There is somewhat a sameness in tone as Grimes meets females fatales who “help” him step into the crosshairs of dangerous rogues.  The best two tales are the fresh Star Courier in which Grimes starts his new career and Star Loot in which much of what is going on is deftly tied together with an exciting climax.  Fans of Grimes will relish his time as a courier.

 

Harriet Klausner

Changeling Dawn-Dani Harper

November 29, 2011

Changeling Dawn

Dani Harper

Kensington Brava, Jan 1 2012, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758265180

 

Archeologist Kenzie Macleod is a lone wolf shapeshifter because she has never forgotten her running away from raging human vigilantes when she was a fledgling in Scotland.  That near fatal incident remains imprinted on her brain to trust no one even her kind as she conceals from both species what she truly is.

 

In the real final frontier of the Alaskan wilderness, Kenzie is driving towards a locale near Chistochina where she has permission to dig for Ahtna tribal artifacts.  She gives a ride to Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife expert Josh Talarkoteen who was stranded with two flats.  When a cub becomes endangered, c he fretfully thinks back to the nightmare of another child in Afghanistan.  Josh soon comes to Kenzie’s camp to search for the lost cub that he knows is a Changeling just like Kenzie is as he belongs to the Tahltan tribe who read auras.  As they try to help the frightened distrusting Changeling, Josh and Kenzie fall in love, but each has traumas to overcome while others have a different outcome in mind.

 

The latest Macleod werewolf romantic suspense (see Changeling Moon and Changeling Dream) is a superb thriller due to strong cast and location.  Both protagonists suffer from Post traumatic Stress Disorder which motivates them to save the child while others in the area kidnap the young Changeling.  Relationship driven with whether to trust or not to trust the key feelings, fans will enjoy this terrific taut tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

Well-Tempered Clavicle-Piers Anthony

November 29, 2011

Well-Tempered Clavicle

Piers Anthony

Tor, Nov 22 2011, $25.99

ISBN: 9780765331342

 

In Xanth, Picka Bones lives a rather mundane life.  His daily highlight is playing tunes on his ribs and exploring cemeteries with his sister Joy’nt. 

 

The two skeletons meet three former pets (Tweeter the bird, Midrange the cat, and Woofer the dog) who recently crossed over from Mundania.  The outside trio challenges the bony siblings to discover their magic.  Thus the quintet agrees to find and ask Princesses Dawn and Eve.  They soon learn Eve is visiting someone (or thing) in Hades while Dawn needs a prince charming (with a bit more substance).  Eve joins the traveling ménage who visit the good magician Humphrey.  He suggests they visit the very dangerous Caprice Castle guarded by Attila the Pun and the home of Pundora’s Box.

 

This is an entertaining Xanth fantasy filled with the usual inane but fun puns.  The zany story line is similar in theme to previous entries yet contains its own wild adventures.  Xanthophyll fans will appreciate this amusing entry as once again the punster prince Piers Anthony provides an amusing action adventure, Xanth style.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Rook-Daniel O’Malley

November 28, 2011

The Rook

Daniel O’Malley

Little Brown, Jan 11 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780316098793

 

In a London park, the woman awakens during a storm surrounded by corpses wearing gloves.  She has two letters on her so opens the one identified as first.  Inside a note is addressed to “Dear You from “Sincerely Me” as the writer explains the body hosting her was once that of the writer.  Thus Myfanwy Thomas, as the note calls her, follows the instructions of finding a safe house before reading the second memo.

 

The second letter explains her choices.  She can flee London to live a conformable life overseas or seek out those responsible for her lost memory.  Thomas number two soon learns her predecessor was a Rook who fought for the top secret Chequy organization against supernatural evil.  She also finds out she possesses a rare lethal paranormal skill.  As she decides at least for now to learn the truth of who betrayed her, Thomas number two struggles on the mundane plane against deadly children warriors and on the dream plane from an aristocrat who easily enters him subconscious.  The more Thomas two learns, the more convolute her inquiry turns as she struggles with what everyone she encounters assumes she knows; although that is a handicap Thomas two realizes she sees things differently than her Chequy mates enabling her to envision a diabolical conspiracy that others fail to fathom.

 

This may be the paranormal thriller of the year as Daniel O’Malley creates a fresh, fast-paced and entertaining tale.  A sort of urban fantasy version of the movie Memento, readers will enjoy the escapades of “You” guided by “Me” in what is a fabulous fascinating fall though the “Rabbit Hole”.

 

Harriet Klausner

Shattered Dreams-Ellie James

November 28, 2011

Shattered Dreams

Ellie James

St. Martin’s Griffin, Dec 6 2011, $9.99

ISBN: 9780312647025

 

Sixteen years old Trinity Monsour was raised by her paternal Gran in isolation in the Colorado Mountains hoping to keep her granddaughter safe from her maternal heritage.  When Gran died, Trinity’s Aunt Sara takes her orphaned niece to live with her in New Orleans.  Gran’s hopes to shelter Trinity from her DNA had already failed in Colorado as she suffered horrific nightmares about her late parents and visions of catastrophic happenings; just like her mom did.

 

At the new high school she attends in New Orleans, Jessica the cruel popular girl makes sure the newcomer is a pariah especially after her boyfriend Chase shows interest in Trinity.  Soon afterward, Jessica vanishes just as Trinity envisioned it.  While NOPD suspects Trinity of enacting revenge, she and Chase mount a rescue attempt.

 

Mindful of My Lunatic Life by Sharon Sala, Shattered Dreams is an entertaining young adult urban fantasy.  Narrated by the heroine, Trinity is a fascinating heroine who struggles to understand her paranormal skills and life in a New Orleans high school while no reader will look at Halo in the same way.  Although the story line jumps from one subplot to another at a disjointed too rapid rate, the first Midnight Dragonfly novel is a fun middle school age paranormal thriller.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Bitter Seed of Magic-Suzanne McLeod

November 28, 2011

The Bitter Seed of Magic

Suzanne McLeod

Ace, Dec 27 2011, $7.99

ISBN: 9781937007201

 

In London, with the witches deciding she is no longer a person of interest, Sidhe Genny Taylor welcomes a brief respite after recent harrowing events (see the Spellcrackers saga – The Sweet Scent of Blood and The Cold Kiss of Death).  However, her R&R time ends rather quickly as the body of a dead faeling is taken out of the Thames; the cause of death is related to the Curse.  Everyone knows that any curse is a bad thing especially to the recipients, but this one is horrific as the lesser fae become barren; losing their fertility means that magic will die along with the endangered species.

 

Genny is the focus of this insidious Curse.  She contains the means to end the wicked Curse by becoming pregnant.  The number of fae willing to do the deed could fill Wembley Stadium.  As she tries to find an alternate way to prevent another victim of the Curse, the raging Gods intervene.

 

The third Spellcrackers urban fantasy is a terrific twisting thriller as Genny learns the roots of evil.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment the faeling is found dead and never slows down as the beleaguered Sidhe heroine has run out of time to save several fae species from extinction.

 

Harriet Klausner

Dragon Fate-E.E. Knight

November 28, 2011

Dragon Fate

E.E. Knight

Roc, Nov 30 2011, $16.00

ISBN: 9780451463562

 

They are siblings, but the three dragons had diverse values.  AuRon the scale-less grey chose isolation with his mate Protector Natasatch and their offspring (Commander AuSurath, Aerial Host Varatheela and former Protector Istach) from the humans as he felt co-mingling was impossible and deadly to his kind; though he heeded his mate’s advice to get involved.  His sister Wistala the Green believed dragons and humans could live in harmony together.  Their brother Emperor RuGaard the Copper felt strongly that dragons were superior to humans who should obey their masters.  Their values led to differing alliances and a war of mass destruction in which they were aligned against each other (see Dragon Rule).

 

Wiser and war weary, the dragon siblings realize what they wrought to their dying species.  Each leaves the troubles they helped cause behind as the fight cost them family and friends.  Meanwhile the wars of man and dragon remain unabated as ancient sorcery is deployed.  To save their rapidly expiring race, the three siblings must unite for the first time since they were hatchlings, but AuRon remains bitter for what Copper did to him when they were young and none of the trio trusts the other to protect their wings.  Failure to come together means dragonkind will be no more as humans and even dragons fight against dragons as the second Civil War turns increasingly towards extinction. 

 

The sixth Age of Fire is an exhilarating climax to a strong fantasy saga, as the story line soars from the opening act and never decelerates to the tense climax.  Filled with political backstabbing intrigue and military combat, readers will enjoy the tale of the three adversarial dragon siblings as united might save dragonkind while divided they extinct their species.

 

Harriet Klausner

Himmler’s War-Robert Conroy

November 28, 2011

Himmler’s War

Robert Conroy

Baen, Dec 6 2011, $25.00

ISBN: 9781451637618

 

In mid June 1944 Germany, an American air raid turns into a dogfight with German planes.  The battle is fierce; frightened twentyish First Lieutenant Paul Phips flies away from the fight.  The Americans need to release their bombs to preserve fuel for the return trip.  They drop a cluster on a group of buildings, unaware that they kill Hitler and his inner command.

 

SS leader Heinrich Himmler becomes head of the Third Reich.  He methodically eliminates those fanatically loyal and connected to Hitler as he cements his control.  Himmler also liberates his generals allowing them to fight the war without Hitler’s tether.  The allies, especially Great Britain, are weary from years of war.  Many decide that Chamberlain not Churchill was right and push for a negotiated peace with Germany as the enemy has the atomic bomb, the American’s great leader FDR is dead and his replacement had only a few weeks to get up to speed.,.  However Harry S. Truman proves he has the mettle as he tries to rally the Grand Alliance to continue the fight knowing now that the Americans have superior weaponry.

 

Fans of Robert Conroy’s alternate history Red Inferno thrillers (1945, 1942, 1901 and 1862) and Harry Turtledove’s War that Came Early saga will fully relish this terrific tale that pivots with the death of Hitler just after the Normandy Invasion.  The fighting is seen through the eyes of the grunts on the ground and in the air.  They die and lose limbs while the leadership from the comfort in DC, London and Berlin makes policy that kill or maim millions.  The key to this superb tale is the flow of events following Hitler’s death seems plausible.

 

Harriet Klausner