Archive for November, 2008

While My Sister Sleeps-Barbara Delinsky

November 30, 2008

While My Sister Sleeps

Barbara Delinsky

Doubleday, Feb 2009, $25.95

ISBN 9780385524926

 

Olympic level marathoner egotistical Robin Snow and her less athletic younger sister Molly the horticulturist do not get along for the most part though they share a sisterly bond especially when things go bad for one of them.  Molly resents her older sibling’s fame and accompanied gloating haughtiness so refuses to run with Robin as she trains.  When Robin running alone suffers a heart attack that leaves her comatose, Molly feels guilty for not being there for her.

 

As Robin’s health worsens, Molly’s feelings of guilt rise in a negative correlation.  Other family members like their brother Chris and their parents Charlie and Kathryn fail to cope with the increasingly ominous situation; Chris has a personal problem while Kathryn is in denial and Charlie turns to religion.  Thus every critical decision falls on Molly’s overly burdened shoulders as the doctor begins to believe Robin will never wake up.

 

Fans of Barbara Delinsky will enjoy this angst-laden character driven family drama that looks deep into relationships mostly between siblings.  Although the well written story line is extremely passive (which makes sense since one of the key characters is in a coma) and at times over burdened with too much personal torment that borders on hyperbolic emoting, WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS deeply showcases how people react differently to an unexpected health crisis. 

 

Harriet Klausner

Here Today, Gone to Maui-Carol Snow

November 30, 2008

Here Today, Gone to Maui

Carol Snow

Berkley, Jan 2009, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425225639

 

In Southern California, thirtyish Jane Shea looks forward to her week long vacation with her boyfriend, Michael “Jimmy” James although the weeks just before she considers what could go wriong like the flu, food poisoning or shingles.  However her fears seem for naught as Jimmy arrives at Jane’s home an hour early to take them to the Orange County Airport to fly to Atlanta to catch their connecting first class flight to Maui.

 

In Maui, Jimmy takes forever to get the car rental and then the Hyatt insists they never made reservations; Jimmy tells her no other hotel on Kannapolis has a room so he arranged for them to stay at a studio condo.  Soon after that Jimmy goes diving, but never returns.  A distraught Jane fears her boyfriend drowned, but soon finds herself in trouble she does not understand as the real Michael James stands up as someone she never knew.

 

Jane is an intriguing lead character as she learns that all her obsessive anxiety disorder musings pale next to the reality of the problems she suddenly faces due to the activities of her missing boyfriend.  Jimmy is an enigmatic person who the heroine (and readers) begins unpeels the mystery one petal at a time.  Fans will enjoy this lighthearted romantic suspense romp everything that she anticipated happening on her vacation did not occur, instead much worse did as Jane learns the hard way between worrying over possible trouble and real trouble.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Death of a Witch-M.C. Beaton

November 30, 2008

Death of a Witch

M.C. Beaton

Grand Central, Feb 2009, $24.99

ISBN: 0446196134

 

After heeding the advice of his friend to go abroad on his vacation, police constable Hamish Macbeth returns from a cheap off season holiday in Spain to his home village Lochdubhof in the Scottish Highlands. All he can think of is breathing Scotland’s air after a boring disappointing trip to the southern part of the Iberian Peninsular.

 

However, in his short time as a stranger in a strange land, Macbeth finds the village males acting even stupider than normal, which in the cop’s mind would have been impossible as stupid male is an oxymoron.  Newcomer Catriona Beldame seems to own the men as if she cast a bewitching spell on them.  She sells them elixirs that she claims cure all sorts of sexual malfunctions.  Macbeth learns of her dishonest past and warns her if she is peddling illegal concoctions he will get her.  Just after Macbeth foolishly in public proclaims he wants to kill the flimflam con artist someone takes his threat to heart killing Beldame and burning down her residence.  Knowing Inspector Blair will gleefully make him a prime suspect, Macbeth investigates, but is taken aback by the murders of three more women and a female not under investigation who has him distracted with thoughts of a kiss.

 

The latest Macbeth police procedural (see DEATH OF A GENTLE LADY) is a terrific whodunit as the hero will shock his fans with the key relationship question to ask or not to ask as Hamish meets women who are not suspects.  Filled with the usual humor, DEATH OF A WITCH is a delightful Scottish charmer that works on the investigative level as much as on the personal level.  M.C. Beaton provides her usual superior tale with the king of obstinacy Macbeth diligently working a homicide while pondering the foreign concept of romantic thoughts.

 

Harriet Klausner

Catopolis-Edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Janet Deaver-Pack

November 30, 2008

Catopolis

Edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Janet Deaver-Pack

Daw, Dec 2008, $7.99

ISBN: 9780756405144

 

Feline fantasy fans will enjoy these seventeen tales of life in a magical “city of cats” that resides alongside our mundane world, but is kept hidden.  Each tale is well written, but because the theme is somewhat limiting in terms of its catastrophic anthropomorphosis theme, readers should spread out enjoying the visit to Williams Lake, Wisconsin over a few weeks.  The contributors are a nice blending of famous writers like Esther M. Friesner, Ed Greenwood, Richard Lee Byers, Jean Rabe and Donald J. Bingle with relatively newcomers; though some have had several short stories published.  The tales range the spectrum from political to criminal to fantasy thrillers.  Once again all seventeen are interesting with personal favorites being “I Am King” by Edward Carmien which has relevancy in DC right now, Lee Martindale’s “Old Age and Sorcery” as “the life of Free Cats was not without its dangers”, and “The Persian, the Coon, and Bullets (Matthew Woodring Stover) as cats learn bullets may be the means but its humans who kill.  Readers will enjoy following the escapades of feisty felines like “The Guardian of Grimoire Hall” (Christopher Welsh) and the “Mentor of the Potala” (Bruce A. Heard) as CATOPOLIS is an entertaining compilation.

 

Harriet Klausner

 


Castaways-Brian Keene

November 30, 2008

Castaways

Brian Keene

Leisure, Feb 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780843960891

 

On a deserted island, a group of contestants compete for a million dollars on the reality based show Castaways.  The players must live off what is on the island and battle one another in various contests that the producer arranges.  The winner of the day is immune from deportation while the group votes on who is exiled.  The last person standing wins the prize.  The contestants and the support crew assume the island is deserted, but they will learn otherwise.

 

The natives live in caves, but as the show’s participants will learn they are hominid but not quite human.  They are covered in fur, never wash or use tools and communicate with one another without speaking in any known language.  It is also difficult for their females to become pregnant and those who are born are typically deformed.  Their plan is simply one of survival.; they will eat the male intruders and rape the females keeping them pregnant until they no longer can bear their offspring.  No rescue for the Castaways is in sight.

 

Although the tale of a reality TV show on an isolated Pacific island filled with monsters is not new (see Jaci Burton’s Surviving Demon Island), Brian Keene refreshes his version by placing his Castaway within a horror version of Christie’s And Then There Were None.  Fans of Survivor will enjoy the twist as there is no getting off the island for the humans who are either sustenance or child bearers.  The island paradise location adds depth to the horrific scenario confronting the show participants as Mr. Keene provides an enjoyable dark twist to reality TV.

 

Harriet Klausner

Night Hunter-Yasmine Galenorn

November 30, 2008

Night Hunter

Yasmine Galenorn

Berkley, Jan 2009, $7.99

ISBN: 9780425225462

 

In Seattle, the three half Fae D’Artigo sisters continue to work for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency.  Each has personal issues as Camille the good witch struggles with being an equal opportunity multi-species hunk magnet, Menolly is still adjusting to being a vampire; and Delilah the shapeshifting were-cat tries unsuccessfully to deny she has become a Death Maiden servant of the Autumn Lord as that makes her relationship with her human boyfriend Chase the police detective seem impossible.

 

Meanwhile Karvanak the Raksasas demon and his associate Vanzir the dream stealer have obtained the third Spirit Seal and are after the fourth.  To achieve their objective they abduct Chase, who is already in Delilah’s litter box for whispering some other woman’s name in his sleep while lying with her.  With the help of her sisters Delilah hopes to rescue Chase, but the Autumn Lord has demands for her too.

 

Once again in this excellent urban fantasy saga, the various types of paranormal species seem genuine and the good guys do not always win so expect the unexpected as the lead role rotates this time from Camille (see DRAGON WYTCH) to Delilah.  In spite of the non-stop action that never slows down for a moment and the myriad of support cast that can be a bit distracting, NIGHT HUNTER superbly builds on threads from the previous “Sisters of the Moon” books; yet can be read as a stand alone.  Yasmine Galenorn provides a strong entry as the love between the sisters and the males in their lives propel the D’Artigo trio to do what they can to save Chase, but never lose sight of keeping safe the two worlds they have their feet standing in.

 

Harriet Klausner

Real Vampires Don’t Diet-Gerry Bartlett

November 30, 2008

Real Vampires Don’t Diet

Gerry Bartlett

Berkley, Jan 2009, $14.00

ISBN: 9780425225646

 

For centuries old vampire Glory St. Claire is having a bit of a hissy fit because she is spending New Year’s Eve in Austin by herself.  Her boyfriend Jeremy Blade is traipsing off on some sort of rescue mission as his daughter was allegedly abducted by radicals.  She is not  quite by herself though as her telepathic dog Valdez tells her to go get a life when she plans for them to share a special bonding evening with chick flicks from hell (his not so subtle thoughts).

 

Infant vampire rock superstar Israel Caine invites Glory to a party he hosts; she knows he is drinking, a horrific error for a turned vamp so she rushes over to save him from himself.  They go out on a boat ride on his vessel the Star Snoops on Lake Travis only to rescue Aglaophonos, call her Aggie a siren.  Aggie informs Glory that she owes Circe three male vampires to break a curse and now has two captured albeit one is female and can only serve as a hostage.  Caine, trying to keep Glory safe, declares she is his fiancée which upsets Blade while Glory persuades Aggie to cut a deal in which she and Caine will bring to her the three vampires; she figures how hard can it be to find and capture three evil vamps in Austin.

 

The fourth Gloriana Real Vampire saga (see … HAVE CURVES, LIVE LARGE and GET LUCK) is an engaging urban fantasy filled with action and amusing chick lit asides.  Glory is terrific as she struggles with a way out of the fiasco that Aggie has her in without alienating Circe.  Fans will enjoy this fun lighthearted romp as Glory needs to deliver three vamps to lift a curse before she becomes a victim.

 

Harriet Klausner

Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand-Carrie Vaughn

November 30, 2008

Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand

Carrie Vaughn

Grand Central, Feb 2009, $6.99

ISBN: 9780446199537

 

After being bitten by a werewolf, Kitty Norville became one too (see KITTY AND THE MIDNIGHT HOUR).  When her lawyer Ben, who was also bitten, Kitty, saw him through the change, their wolves’ side knew before their human half understood they belong together.  As Denver’s werewolf population recognizes them as the alpha couple of their pack, they also maintain their contacts with their human family and human friends.  The pair decides to marry so Kitty’s radio show producers arrange for her to do a Vegas TV show.

 

Kitty initially saw the Vegas trip as a working vacation, but reassess her belief as the hotel she is staying at hosts a gun show with bounty hunters of werewolves attending.  She knows some of them will try to kill her because of her fame.  Odysseus Grant performs an old fashioned magic act that many think is the real thing, but refuses an invitation to do his act on Kitty’s show.  He also warns her to stay away from the animal act made up of shapeshifters at the Hanging Guardians run by Balthasar the King of the Beasts.  When Ben is kidnapped, Kitty has a whole group of suspects to pick from who committed the crime starting with the bounty hunters where she gets a shocking surprise.

 

KITTY AND THE DEAD MAN’S HAND is an exciting supernatural romantic suspense.  The protagonist and her mate have come a long way as they have adapted to being werewolves lifemates leading their pack while running their New Moon Restaurant, a paranormal neutral zone hang out.  Though the abduction and related investigative mystery comes late, it is fun to follow as readers wonder whether Kitty will come out with a roll of a natural or craps as she tries to rescue her mate.  Carrie Vaughn provides an enthralling and spellbinding urban fantasy as Kitty takes on Vegas.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Sweet in Between-Sheri Reynolds

November 29, 2008

The Sweet in Between

Sheri Reynolds

Shaye Areheart (Crown), Nov 2008, $23.00

ISBN: 0307393895

 

In Virginia seventeen year old Kendra “Kenny” Lugo fears the near future.  Her mom died years ago of cancer and her dad is serving time.  She lives with her dad’s girlfriend “Aunt” Glo who has two kids of her own (tweener Quincy and teen Tim-Tim) and her seven years old granddaughter Daphne, dumped on her by her oldest child.  Glo survives her responsibilities thanks in part to prescription pain killers.

 

Kenny fears Glo will kick her out of her home once she becomes an adult, which is soon.  The teen also struggles with identity issues especially hiding her feminine body.  When their alcoholic neighbor Jarvis Stanley accidentally kills a college girl, Kenny obsesses over the deceased as her morbidity makes her believe Glo will kick her to the curb soon.  Her plan is to soon become responsible and dependable; Glo will beg her to stay.

 

Told by the frightened Kenny, THE SWEET IN BETWEEN is a fascinating family drama starring a frightened teen filled with anger, remorse and fear.  The rest of Glo’s extended family is fully developed characters who enhance the at times subtle and other moments in your face story line.  However, this is Kenny’ tale as she sadly expects the worse but hopes for the best, which in this case is not being kicked out of the only shelter, albeit a relatively poor one, she knows at a time she wonders why she feels different from girls her age.

 

Harriet Klausner

Forever Princess-Meg Cabot

November 29, 2008

Forever Princess

Meg Cabot

Harper, Jan 2009, $16.99

ISBN: 9780061232923

 

Genovia Princess Amelia is looking forward to the near future as she will soon turn eighteen, graduate high school, go to her senior prom, and attend an Ivy League School or an equivalent in Europe.  Princess Amelia shows everyone her public upbeat persona especially with her kingdom about to hold their first elections.

 

Mia fears her make believe world is about to collapse.  Grandmere plans to host her eighteenth birthday gala in a style fitting a royal, which means no fun.  Her boyfriend J.P. has not asked her to the prom and for whatever dumb male reason he has not, she rationalizes though the clock is running out.  Finally all those schools like Yale, Columbia and Harvard have not tendered a student seat although she has everyone think they did.  Making matters more complicated is the triumphant return from Japan of her former boyfriend Michael, whose medical technology procedure has been adopted as the way to go.  Finally, even her medieval romance novel (see RANSOM MY HEART) written under the pseudonym Meg Cabot has failed to find a publisher.  Mia has less than one month before the big crunch implodes her world.

 

 The tie in to the “co-authored RANSOM MY HEART is fun and cute, as Meg Cabot and Mia Thermopolis write the novel, which in the final Princess Diaries’ tale includes excerpts.  Fans will appreciate the usual doubting Thomasina as Mia disparages herself for fear of failing even as she has grown from the frightened teen eleven episodes ago to understanding the significance of a strong front to hide a queasy stomach.  The audience will be elated with the climatic final tale wondering if all will go right as the heroine turns eighteen.

 

Harriet Klausner