Archive for August, 2013

Heart of Venom-Jennifer Estep

August 31, 2013

Heart of Venom
Jennifer Estep
Pocket Aug 27 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781451689006

In Ashland two giants attack Gin Blanco and Finn Lane, but the former assassin and her friend kill them. Finn suffered some bruises to his ribs so he plans to ask the Air-elemental dwarf Jo-Jo Deveraux to help him heal; Gin will use the disposal services of Jo-Jo’s sister Sophia the cook to get rid of the corpses.

Two days later, Gin and others enjoy a day at Jo-Jo’s salon when Fire-elemental siblings assault the establishment. They nearly kill the owner and snatch her sibling. Raging Gin needs to control her “Spider” as she needs to identify who the kidnappers are and why they obviously targeted Sophia. Although her estranged lover Owen Grayson understands the risk as the odds are humongous that they will die, he insists on having her back. Meanwhile Gin learns the details of Sophia’s first torturous abduction by Grimes.

The latest Elemental Assassin dark urban fantasy (see Deadly Sting) is a grim thriller with a mounting death toll as no one harms one of Gin’s buds and lives very long afterward though the Grimes may prove the exception to the rule. The plot enables the audience to learn what Grimes did to Sophia the first time she was held captive and fills in more of the protagonist’s past. Although the overarching premise fails to move forward, fans will enjoy Spider’s revenge.

Harriet Klausner

The Returned-Jason Mott

August 28, 2013

The Returned
Jason Mott
Mira, Aug 27 2013, $24.95
ISBN: 9780778315339

Agents of the International Bureau of the Returned arrive at the home of Harold and Lucille Hargrave in Acadia. Accompanying them is eight year old Jacob who drowned on August 15, 1966. The child tells his stunned father the same joke involving a cow he told him before the accident over five decades ago.

Harold refuses to accept the Returned is real though they have been in the news and this child knows Jacob inside out. Still he is convinced the lad is a fake yet he cannot explain why the global sham as more of the Returned comes home; many of them placed in camps guarded by the military like here in Acadia. On the other hand, believer Lucille is positive that God has created a miracle reversal of the rapture. Pastor Robert Peters initially thinks the devil is tricking everyone until his beloved returns. Other living want the Returned gone while those held in captivity want their freedom; confrontation arrives in Acadia and elsewhere around the world. Lucille vows to God to protect his miracles.

The Returned is a fabulous thriller that focuses on the impact on the living by the dead coming back to life. Incredibly deep, the profound storyline contains limited action with the emphasis more on how people like the elderly Hargrave couple think and react to Jacob and his kind; and the legal rights the deadly Returned have (who owns the estate of an executed will). Jason Mott provides a fresh unique take on the dead coming back to life.

Harriet Klausner

Wrath-Bearing Tree-James Enge

August 23, 2013

Wrath-Bearing Tree
James Enge
Pyr, Aug 20 2013, $18.00
ISBN 9781616147815

The son of the mighty Merlin Ambrosius, the hunchback Morlock knows he has quite a lineage to live up to especially since his father is a traitor. On top of that his siblings are do-gooders. Still he does his best.

The Graith of Guardians assigns Morlock and Aloe Oaij to investigate the murder of a lesser God in Kaen, a land not under their sworn jurisdiction. The two agents travel by sea before crashing onto the Kaen coast. They quickly find out that their nemesis Two Powers twin gods Fate and Chaos are involved once again (see A Guile of Dragons). Nothing is smooth on this trek as danger mounts from natural enemies fighting each other for power. Frightened Gods claim their protection as much as their souls; Andhrakar the demon has demands; acrimonious exiled Merlin thinks his offspring is mad; while A Guile of Dragons runs amuck causing havoc and further panic; but the worst of all to Morlock is his sister Ambrosia is involved at a time when the Balancer is no more.

The second Tournament of Shadows sword and sorcery fantasy continues the exhilarating prequel escapades of Morlock as a young dwarf (before his later epic adventures – see The Wolf Age, Blood of Ambrose and This Crooked Way). The thrilling fast-paced storyline grips S&S quest fans from the moment Merlin uses the brain of an atheist to escape a lesser God and never slows down until the final anticipated family affair.

Harriet Klausner

The Beasts of Upton Puddle-Simon West-Bulford

August 18, 2013

The Beasts of Upton Puddle
Simon West-Bulford
Medallion, Sep 1 2013, $9.99
ISBN: 9781605425207

In Upton Puddle, though she conceals her motive for employing the tweener from him, Mrs. Merrynether hires twelve year old Joe Copper to do menial tasks for her veterinary clinic after he came to her to help an injured raccoon. His new employer recognizes the tweener’s intelligence and kindness, traits he has used to deal with Duggan the bully and will need when he learns his true mission is to protect mankind from the Conclave of dragons by leading a force of various beasts; some considered mythical only.

Redwar industries CEO Argoyle Redwar wants to possess mysterious Merrynether Mansion and will use any amoral ruse to succeed. He cons Mrs. Merrynether into telling him where the Conclave’s Pyronesia Island is located and heads there with his menagerie to take control of the volatile dragons. Though not ready, Joe leads a team of mythical misfits as they try to prevent Redwar from seizing power.

Targeting middle school students, The Beasts of Upton Puddle is a wonderful fantasy starring a twelve year old boy whose caring empathy causes him problems and leads to errors in judgment when he commands his team as he struggles with any of them (and even the enemy) getting hurt. Holding the exciting storyline focused, Joe knows what it is like to lose someone so he hates for anyone to suffer pain or death. Yet he has a “two-front” war to fight as he, Mrs. Merrynether and their odd allies battle a ruthless avaricious psychopath and if they survive him and his horde perhaps one day soon the belligerent dragons.

Harriet Klausner

Pirates of the Timestream-Steve White

August 17, 2013

Pirates of the Timestream
Steve White
Baen, Aug 6 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9781451639094

Temporal Regulatory Authority Director Rutherford explains to (reactivated from retirement) raging Commander Jason Thanou that, in spite of the possible Observer Effect, Sam Asamoa left a message from 1791 Haiti where he leads an expedition into the causes of the revolution. Besides finding a cult that appears to have Transhumanist origins, Sam believes spaceship wreckage is on a mountainside. Rutherford orders Jason, the recognized expert on alien crafts since the late fifth century BC incident (see Sunset of the Gods), to investigate.

Jason leads an expedition that includes regional expert Dr. Henri Boyer, Special Ops Alexandre Mondrago and Pauline Da Cunha, and Authority representative Irving Nesbit back to the 1660s where they will join the crew of Privateer Captain Henry Morgan. Nothing goes right as the team finds Transhumanists abetted by Teloi establishing a cult and much more. Desperate, Jason aligns with strange bedfellows like Morgan and female pirate Zenobia to insure history follows the correct timestream.

The third Temporal Regulatory Authority thriller (see Blood of Heroes) is a rousing sea thriller in which Steve White blends futurism inside of a vivid late seventeenth century tale that grips the reader once Thanou and his team go back in time. Though a detour by the hero before the swashbuckling begins feels unnecessary, fans will relish the TRA escapades with Morgan and Zenobia as the Special Ops team struggle to survive yet complete their mission.

Harriet Klausner

Memory’s Door-James L. Rubart

August 16, 2013

Memory’s Door
James L. Rubart
Thomas Nelson, Aug 6 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9781401686079

Three decades ago, Reece Roth was a warrior for Jesus but a tragedy cost his faith. Recently God sent four tyros (Brandon Scott, Marcus Amber, Dana Raine and Tamera Miller) to the recluse; for Reece to train and lead them in their upcoming battle with the malevolent Wolf (see Soul’s Gate).

Each of the Warrior Riders has personal issues that give an edge to the Evil One adversary to exploit. Blind and severely depressed while struggling with his lost faith, Reese sees no future for him or his acolytes. As Dana rises up the ladder of success work-wise, she fears she walks the wrong path spiritually. Marcus remains filled with guilt and remorse as he remains gripped by grief over the death of his son; while also fearing he is going insane when he seems to end up in other realms. Meanwhile someone stalks Brandon at his concerts. The Wolf has begun to undermine the Warrior Riders using their human weaknesses leading the quintet to wonder who is friend and who is foe.

The second Well Spring inspirational thriller focuses on how the devil uses human doubts and desires to tempt even the most pious believer to sin. Once again the faithful fab five are fully developed, but it is the good and evil exciting biblical storyline fought as individuals as well as a group in a materialistic electronic age that makes James L. Rubart’s taut tale a great read.

Harriet Klausner

Sleep Tight-Jeff Jacobson

August 16, 2013

Sleep Tight
Jeff Jacobson
Pinnacle, Aug 6 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780786030781

In December knowing timing was critical, Roman put the special “suit” on Viktor in the veterinarian office in Yekaterinburg. Forty-three minutes later he dropped Viktor off at Koltsovo Airport where he caught the eighteen-hour flight to Chicago. Just before arriving at his destination, Viktor felt itchy all over and sick. He realizes the cargo is waking up as blood trickles down his nose when he feels the bite on his stomach; he kills an insect. Viktor struggles off the plane and gets a gun before Chicago PD Sam and Ed shoot him. A bat carrying the same bugs that bit Viktor escapes from underneath his shirt. Homeland Security and other alphabet suits arrive at the scene but none are aware that the first of the WHO Global Pandemic Phases has just begun.

By April Phase Two happens and in August Phase Three human infection begins. The bugs threaten Chicago with a deadly new virus as people begin dying from bites. Being a major international hub city, America and the rest of the world are in peril as transmission expands into larger and larger clusters (Phases Four and Five) with the virus adapting to humans. Not quite eight months since Viktor arrived with his illegal cargo, Phase Six spreading throughout the general population seems imminent. The only hope is a mad doctor.

Scratching from start to finish, readers will enjoy this taut thriller while also obsessively washing clothing and bedding several times in hot water. Though the key characters are not fully developed, the tale is action-packed from the moment Viktor carries the “dormant” illegal bats into O’Hare and never slowing down, fans will not Sleep Tight as these bed bugs do bite

Harriet Klausner

Warbound-Larry Correia

August 15, 2013

Warbound
Larry Correia
Baen, Aug 6 2013, $25.00
ISBN: 9781451639087

Sally Faye Vierra the Traveler believes she is a Grimnoir Knight though most Actives assume she will turn into a monster. Whisper advised her to seek Jacques Montand the Grimnoir Elder. When she finds him on a church rooftop, Faye dangles Jacques over the edge while explaining why she looked for him. He sends her to what was once Berlin, but now the Dead City to meet a zombie who sees the future.

At the same time Bureau of Investigation Chief J. Edgar Hoover assigns ex-convict Jake Sullivan a Grimnoir Knight Heavy to stop the Pathfinder. He begins to put together a team to breech the Imperium to obtain a Pathfinder Detector with the assistance of Francis Stuyvesant the Mover. As part of his rapid response recruitment, Jake travels to his former residence Rockville State Penitentiary to talk with prisoner Wells the Massive psychopath about the Pathfinder. Soon his mission and Faye’s quest collide.

The third Grimnoir Chronicles (see Spellbound and Hard Magic) is an exciting alternate historical fantasy. The Correia world is anchored by noted real persona like FDR, Congressional hearings, William Donovan and Hoover in somewhat limited roles as the prime plots center on the Actives being active with Sullivan and crew working the Pathfinder mission and Faye proving her worth. Readers will enjoy the 1930s as the Depression world seems Warbound.

Harriet Klausner

Codex Born-Jim C. Hines

August 14, 2013

Codex Born
Jim C. Hines
DAW, Aug 6 2013, $24.95
ISBN 9780756408169

Five centuries ago, Gutenberg discovered the true power of printed books when he learned to master Libriomancy. Now in the present, fourteen year old Jeneta Aboderin has introduced a new spin when she released a snake from her Smartphone that led to a Porters’ feeding frenzy as every practitioner wants to learn how she did it. Assigned by Gutenberg as one of the 12 elite Die Zwelf Portenaere Doorkeeper Porters Isaac Vainio is the lucky one as Jeneta works under his tutelage in Copper Lake, Michigan though he admits she is more the teacher with her unique knack to bring to life e-books.

Weres report finding the murdered corpse of a wendigo with the smell of a human nearby in the Upper Peninsula. Psychiatrist Nidhi Shah is assigned the investigation. Her girlfriend Lena Greenwood the pulp fiction Dryad and Lena’s boyfriend Isaac assist her. They soon realize the killer knows the Libriomancer organization as if he or she is a high ranking member and a long thought extinct rival group from the other side of the globe resurfaces with a vengeance. Isaac also fears the Devourers are playing behind the curtain wizardry.

The second Magic Ex Libris urban fantasy (see Libriomancer) is an exciting thriller with much of the fun coming from trying to name the title of a book in which an object was magically taken (how else to solve a murder mystery). Action-packed and filled with humor readers will relish this entry though to understand the complex science of Libriomancy it pays to have read the first tale as newbies will feel lost in Hines quantum physics otherwise.

Harriet Klausner

Daysider-Susan Krinard

August 11, 2013

Daysider
Susan Krinard
Harlequin Nocturne, Aug 6 2013, $5.75
ISBN: 9780373885756

In the San Francisco Enclave, Aegis Director of Field Operations McAllister has doubts about assigning his best operative Alexia Fox on a key illegal investigation as one year ago the Court deported her brother. Still he assigns her and her partner Michael Carter to break the fragile treaty by entering the zone to learn what she can about the new illegal Nightsiders’ colony.

At the same time their enemy the Opir dispatches Damon the Daysider to obtain Intel re the illegal human colony. When the two parties meet, each side denies the colony is theirs. Michael leaves to obtain additional help while Alexia and Damon team up to infiltrate the illegal colony, origin unknown. As the duo faces danger and fall in taboo love, Alexia loses her patch that enables her to eat food, she knows as a Dhampir only blood can give her sustenance.

This exciting romantic urban fantasy grips readers due to the brevity yet depth of the amazing Krinard world as readers will marvel at the variety of vampiric species. The lead protagonists are a wonderful pairing of star-crossed lovers with trust issues (her mom drilled her as a child) causing them unsuccessfully to fight their attraction. Although there is too much passive reflection, sub-genre fans will relish the tsuris caused by the Daysider and the Dhampir falling in forbidden love.

Harriet Klausner