Archive for August, 2008

Feast of Saint Bertie-Kathleen Popa

August 31, 2008

Feast of Saint Bertie

Kathleen Popa

David C. Cook, Sep 2008

ISBN: 9781434799876

 

In Saratoga, Roberta “Bertie” Denys buries her famous in Silicon Valley husband Larry who suffered from Parkinson ’s disease.  Her only regret is their adult son Garrett failed to show up at the funeral; Garrett vanished four months ago.  After the burial, Bertie comes home to find her house on fire; an arsonist struck.  Her neighbor Suzanne takes her into her home.

 

Bertie moves into a rural shed where she plans to pray every three hours and learn what her visions mean.  There she meets pregnant general store owner pregnant and single India, Russ, his ex wife Brenda and his ex partner Gil who is Brenda’s second husband.  Russ and his former father in law Boyd repair Bertie’s roof.  Bertie also helps at a food kitchen for the homeless where she sees Garrett who came in for a meal.  He promises to visit her soon even as letters from her late spouse begin to arrive once a week to help her move on.

 

This inspirational character study stars a strong female protagonist trying to move on after the death of her beloved spouse who suffered for quite awhile with his debilitating illness.  Part of her adjustment is from taking care of her late husband.  As she seeks an inner peace through prayer, Bertie wonders if she can find this need for “all shall be well” without first finding her son.  With a strong eccentric support cast, fans will enjoy Kathleen Popa’s fine contemporary. 

 

Harriet Klausner

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The Secret’s in the Sauce-Linda Evans Shepherd and Marie Everson

August 31, 2008

The Secret’s in the Sauce

Linda Evans Shepherd and Marie Everson

Revell, Sep 2008, $13.99

ISBN: 9780800732080

 

In Summit View, Colorado following the wedding of Evangeline and Vernon catered by the Potluck Club members, the women believe they have proven how good they are as everyone enjoyed the food.  They decide to open up a catering business.

 

They find success preparing meals for galas.  However, while their cooking and catering are proving triumphant, each has personal issues to face.  One of the members turns to alcohol; another’s torrid ancient history affair surfaces; a third just lost her beloved parent; and finally a fourth must choose between two lovers.  They turn to one another for solace.

 

The Potluck Club crowd decides to become professional caterers at a time when each of the members have personal issues.  The rotating lead never gets deep into anyone’s particular woes so their problems are minimized; almost trivialized.  Still fans of the series will enjoy the latest optimistic entry as the Potluck Club turns professional.

 

Harriet Klausner


Blinded by the Light-Morgan Hunt

August 31, 2008

Blinded by the Light

Morgan Hunt

Alyson, Books, Aug 2008, $14.95

ISBN: 1593500858

 

After battling cancer, nothing bothers Tess Camillo because she realizes the only thing that matters is the cliché of living life to the fullest.  Of course she would like a job since the firm she worked for downsized her.  When her friend Beth Butler offers her work refining software for her company in New Mexico Tess grabs it.

 

After Tess is through working at the Bryce Corporation she and Beth decide to visit the Lightning Field; conceptual art that at dawn and dusk turns into a masterpiece and during a storm is incredibly beautiful.  They stay at a cabin shared with four other people; they begin to bond after witnessing the Lightning Field at night.  However, the next morning Tess sees a body of one of the other guests in the field.  The medical examiner decides it is a homicide from an electrical gadget like a taser of cattle prod.  Beth has a taser and her fingerprints are the only ones on it.  When Beth is arrested, Tess investigates because she knows her friend is innocent.

 

Morgan Hunt has written an excellent amateur sleuth tale filled with plenty of red herrings and surprising plausible twists.  A subplot involving a bit of romance eases some of the tension, but the methodical investigation by Tess is what the tale is all about; in fact the kind hearted woman should consider going professional as she does a great job seeking the real culprit. Ms. Hunt is a great mystery writer

 

Harriet Klausner

Misspent Youth-Peter Hamilton

August 31, 2008

Misspent Youth

Peter Hamilton

Del Rey, Sep 16 2008, $26.00

ISBN: 9780345461643

 

In the near future former RAF pilot Jeff Baker invents the memory crystal that led to the datasphere, which replaced the Internet.  Jeff Baker made his creation available to everyone placing him on a par with Mother Teresa for altruistic adulation.

 

In 2040, the European Union scientists make an incredible breakthrough in genetics; they developed a new biotechnique that enables them to replace aged genes.  Jeff is the chosen one because of what he did with his memory crystal and the theory that his brilliance could solve the home energy crisis.  The conversion works as Jeff goes from a septuagenarian to a twentyish person.  Only Jeff finds his sex drive supersedes everything and everyone else including his used to be much younger wife and his teenage son.

 

Discounting some unnecessary English terrorists detracting from the fascinating thriller, MISSPENT YOUTH is an interesting look at the unintended consequences of science finding a Fountain of Youth.  The story line focuses on out of control Jeff who finds his former peers ancient and only sex matters.  In terms of relationships he succeeds as a born again sex machine, but the only intelligence he brings back from his years of experience is sex; thus narrowing the scope of an intriguing premise.

 

Harriet Klausner

Under the Blood Red Moon-Mina Hepsen

August 31, 2008

Under the Blood Red Moon

Mina Hepsen

Avon, Oct 2008, $13.95

ISBN: 9780061373251

 

In 1871 half Russian Princess Angelica Belanov detests going to parties, events, or anything with crowds because of her ability to hear what people think.  The chatter is overwhelming her mind; her preference is to avoid society and hide at her Russian father’s English estate reading a book.  However, with the family fortune in jeopardy with the disappearance of three ships they own, she is in London with her brother Prince Mikhail seeking a wealthy spouse.  However, the silent noise from others is driving her crazy.

 

Also in London is the head of the Eastern Vampire Clans Prince Alexander, who is on the trail of a serial killing vampire Sergey; he and his clans and those of the Northern Clans worry about their species dwindling numbers and Sergey exposing them to humans.  When Alexander meets Angelica, they telepathically communicate.  He assumes she is a vampire like him, but soon realizes she is a mortal.  As she learns he is vampire, they fall in love with Servey and an ally stalking them.

 

Readers will fully enjoy this exciting paranormal Victorian romantic suspense thriller as Mina Hepsen makes vampires living in Europe seem genuine and even more so Angelica’s ESP skills as the supporting details are wonderfully interwoven into a strong tale.  The lead couple is a strong pairing and the support cast enhances the belief in the supernatural as natural.  Sub-genre fans will welcome Ms. Hepsen with accolades and look forward for more exhilarating novels from her.

 

Harriet Klausner

Blood Memories-Barb Hendee

August 31, 2008

Blood Memories

Barb Hendee

Roc, Oct 2008, $14.00

ISBN: 0451462297

 

Youthful looking beauty Eleisha Clevon seems vulnerable and helpless, but in reality she is a survivor; being two hundred plus years old vampire.  She easily lures human predators into being alone with her before ripping open their throats to dine on their blood.  When she eats a mortal’s blood she also sees their lives mentally flash passed her.  Eleisha also is the prime caretaker for a senile vampire.

 

After being seen by cops when the vampire Edward killed himself, Eleisha accompanied by William flees Portland for Seattle.  They move into the home of Maggie also a vampire.  Meanwhile a vampire who has gone rogue is killing vampires with Eleisha and her friends on the undead death list.

 

BLOOD MEMORIES is a terrific vampire stand alone thriller that fans will enjoy but ironically when compared to the classic Barb and J.C. Hendee’s Noble Dean saga it somewhat pales; in fairness few supernatural novels attain that quality level.  The story is filled with action, but also contains a strong cast who insure vampirism in the Northwest seems real as readers learn the back-story of several of them through the characters practicing mental telepathy.  The heroine especially is an intriguing person; she detests killing humans although she knows she must yet limits her attacks to the dregs of society.  Still it is serial killing villain murdering his own kind who makes this a fine tale that the vampire crowd will appreciate.

 

Harriet Klausner

Broken-Daniel Clay

August 30, 2008

Broken

Daniel Clay

Harper, Sep 2008, $13.95

ISBN: 0061561045

 

In Southampton eleven year old Skunk Cunningham lives with her father, brother and au pair.  Skunk watches bully Bob Oswald batter teenager Rick Buckley; a few minutes after beating Rick up badly, Bob reports to the cops that the nineteen years old Buckley raped his thirteen year old daughter Susan.  No one messes with one of Oswald’s five daughters as the patriarch is not concerned with the truth; in this case the police Dr. Mortimer affirms Susan is a virgin.  Charges were dropped.

 

Skunk avoids the Oswald girls like they have the plague as they are as insane and violent as their dad.  Meanwhile Rick is afraid to go outside because he knows Oswald is not through with pummeling him.  Finally unable to remain self incarcerated as he is going crazy, Rick reenters society looking for someone to beat up.

 

Although the plot is skeletal, this is a dark bleak character study.  The Oswald brood is a fascinating family as Bob’s argument that Rick harmed his daughter is based on fear she overtly displays; he is unable to take responsibility that her fear is of him.  However, it is the metamorphosis of Rick from frightened shadow to avenger against those he feels affronted him like the female his age who told him his pecker was microscopic as well as the Oswalds.  Not for everyone as the desolation and hopelessness oozes throughout, fans who appreciate the dark side of human interactivity will want to read aptly titled BROKEN.

 

Harriet Klausner

The House Of Allerbrook-Valerie Anand

August 30, 2008

The House Of Allerbrook

Valerie Anand

Mira, Oct 2008, $13.95

ISBN: 0778326012

 

In 1535 unmarried Sybil Sweetwater is unable to take her post at court because she is carrying the child of married tenant farmer Andrew Shearer.  Her parents send Sybil into family exile and their sixteen year old daughter pragmatic Jane is to serve at the court of King Henry VIII.  Jane enjoys her time there especially as a lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne of Cleves but, her monarch’s persistent sexual assaults frighten her so she flees the court for Allerbrook assisted by Peter Carew.

 

Jane’s brother Francis, now the family patriarch, is irate with his sibling’s failure to appease the appetite of the king and bring acclaim not disdain on the Sweetwater family.  Additionally, a witness at the court fabricates what occurred.  To punish Jane and appease King Henry, Francis forces Jane to marry much older farmer Harry Hudd.  Although not used to the hard working of the land, Jane adjusts in part because of their son Tobias.  When her brother suddenly dies, Allerbrook becomes Jane’s; she plans changes in the lifestyles of her and her child.

 

This engaging sixteenth century historical tale pulls no punches when it comes to the plight of women of all walks of life in England as females are less valuable than cattle except in terms of bearing an heir.  Told over five decades, fans who enjoy a sweeping saga will appreciate the impact of royal intrigue on the HOUSE OF ALLERBROOK.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Private Concierge-Suzanne Forster

August 30, 2008

The Private Concierge

Suzanne Forster

Mira, Oct 2008, $6.99

ISBN: 0778325458

 

In Los Angeles, the rich and famous go to Lane Chandler to discreetly handle their whims and desires.  Lane’s firm THE PRIVATE CONCIERGE has earned a superior reputation for subtly and tastefully taking care of the legal needs of the elite.

 

However someone must have either hacked into her client database or is a TPC employee because in a short time customers have been exposed to scandal and one is murdered in a scandalous way.  LAPD investigates the homicide suspecting another TPC client Ned Talbert.  His friend former cop Rick Bayless thinks otherwise and begins to investigate starting with TPC and its owner whom he recognizes as arresting back in 1993 when she was the juvenile Lucy Cox.  She was innocent then and innocent now, but being innocent means nothing when it comes to the criminal system where money and power enable Lady Justice to look away.  Although she loathes cooperating with the man who forced her to change her name, Lane has no choice as Rick is her only hope to end the reign of terror.

 

This is a fascinating investigative romantic suspense as the beleaguered heroine knows her options are limited to working with a man she detests though to her chagrin is attracted to him.  The story line is action-packed from the opening salvo and never slows down as the predator assaults TPC with insider knowledge.  Nick is a unique protagonist who regrets what he did fifteen years ago as he falls in love with Lane; however what makes him refreshing (pun intended) is he a slob who leaves dirty plates on the floor for a mouse to clean.  Fans will enjoy Suzanne Forster entertaining tale.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Appearing-Kristen Wisen

August 30, 2008

The Appearing

Kristen Wisen

Credo House, May 2008, $24.99

ISBN: 9780978762087

 

Not to far in the future Homeland Security establishes the Domestic Investigations Unit to spy on churches and close them down if they break any of the anti-intolerance laws.  In Russia, Russian Preident Alexander Magorum has formed the Federation of World Powers and gets the Arabs to let the Jews build a new Temple.  He is working towards a a one currency and one religion in his new world order; taking advantage of corruption to bring all nations under his command.  At the midpoint of what some call the Great Tribulation, Alexander holds a news conference in his Jerusalem Temple; he reveals himself to be Hitler who was rescued by Lucifer after being in Hell for 666 months.

 

He wants the people who believe in him to wear his mark and those that refuse will die.  At Gracee Church, the elders who studied the end of times know the world is entering a period of extreme violence and injustice.  They move to caves in the North Carolina Mountains hidden by God’s angels  so that the authorities cannot kill them.  They are all true believers except for one who spies on them; this modern day Judas gives photos and other incriminating evidence to the authorities.  Only God can protect them if he sends his son again.

 

With some overall nods to obviously the bible and to the Tom LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins Left Behind saga, this is a fascinating tale of the rise of the Anti-Christ with billions joining him; as few recall what he did in WWII and will again because he has pandemic plans to eradicate non-believers.  The Rapture comes at the beginning of the Great Tribulation but differs from Left Behind in several key ways; this refreshes the religious thriller.  There is plenty of action and no wisely preaching yet Kristen Wisen makes her beliefs known.

 

Harriet Klausner