Archive for May, 2010

Going in Circles-Pamela Ribon

May 31, 2010

Going in Circles

Pamela Ribon

Downtown, May 2010, $15.00

ISBN: 9781416503866

When Matthew Goodman walked out on his wife Charlotte, she was stunned as in her mind his ending their marriage came of nowhere as she thought she was his “Sunshine” even when she struggled to get out of bed in the morning. Matthew decides to come back home after a few weeks as a bachelor Charlotte struggles with his return.

Fuming with resentment as she had moved on in the phases of grief passed the denial stage to that of acceptance Charlotte walks out on a stunned Matthew.  She moves into apartment to ponder whether she wants to remain married to her husband.  However, she finds herself panicking over what she logically knows are nothings like weeping over a burrito while sitting on the curb.  With anxiety and depression ruling her, Charlotte turns to creating her Plan in order to eliminate having to choose between taco and burrito, and most important no more shocking revelations as a to do list will provide her with security.  Her family, her husband, her friends, and her co-workers demand not so subtly she must choose to be married or not to be married.  However her new office friend Francesca offers her something different to consider, physical release via roller derby for the soul.

This is an entertaining coming of age character study though the lead protagonist is a thirty year old nonentity.  Charlotte is a fascinating protagonist whose lack of confidence leads to crippling anxiety attacks.  Her husband never comes across as fully developed nor does his reasoning.  The rest of the support cast supports the heroine as she skates around the oval of life trying to learn to get up from the bumps and bruises her skinny butt suffers with every hit she takes for that’s life.

Harriet Klausner

A Visit from the Goon Squad-Jennifer Egan

May 31, 2010

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Jennifer Egan

Knopf, Jun 8 2010, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307592835

Record-company executive Bennie Salazar wonders where the years went as he listens to another horrific band of young untalented egos that believe they belong at the top.  Divorced, he feels removed from his tweener son as if he still lives in analog and the kid is digital.  Bennie thinks back to the late 1970s in the Bay area when he was young and part of the punk band Flaming Dildos that thought they belonged at the top.

Bennie’s former assistant Sasha is a mother hiding out in the desert after a youthful life of impulsive thieving.  Her tweener daughter Alison thinks her mom is out of step with the digital world.

Meanwhile Bennie meets Alex who dated Sasha.  He later hires him to obtain the services of fifty paid “parrots” to pretend to be fans of a group performing at a concert.  His target audience he informs Alexis is the silent future majority who text rather than speak.

The key to the five decades of Bennie and others is what happens to a person when cynical age fueled by addictions and complacencies overcomes youthful rebellious fervor.  Character driven with a powerful ensemble cast who all seem fully developed, the loci points anchor the epic story line are Bennie and Sasha.  Jennifer Egan is a virtuoso as readers will relish the changes of the information age as music is a terrific milieu as the industry travels from vinyl to cassettes to CDs to DVDs; mirroring society.

Harriet Klausner

Body Rush-Anne Rainey

May 31, 2010

Body Rush

Anne Rainey

Kensington Aphrodisia, Jun 2010, $14.00

ISBN: 9780758238993

“Secret Desires”.  The three BFFs make a sexual bet.  Prim and proper legal secretary Lydia  detests the pompous suits she works for during the day.  Lydia goes to a BDSM hoping to find satisfaction here.  Three hood hunks compete for her, but one of them with his heads un-hooded is the star of her nocturnal fantasy seemingly forever.

“Turn Me On“.  Neurosurgeon Dr. Roni is smart and sexy.  Like in the OR, she dominates in the bedroom; that is until the computer guru teaches her that she does not have to always be in charge outside the hospital.

“Tasty Treats”.  The biker shows up at her coffee shop every morning.  Owner Jeanette salivates with desire, but he never makes a move.  When she notices he seems to hunger for her she decides to offer herself as a dessert menu special.

These three interrelated novellas are heated vivid BDSM erotic tales starring likable women in lust and the men lusting after them.  Although the story lines lack plausibility, readers will enjoy learning what the stakes were, who won the wager were and how the winner was decided.

Harriet Klausner

Miranda-M.R. Sellars

May 31, 2010

Miranda

M.R. Sellars

Willow Tree, Jul 1 2010, $16.95

ISBN: 9780979453366

Annalise Deveraux was the previously unknown half sister of witch Felicity O’Brien.  Unlike her half-sibling, Annalise practiced voodoo using blood magic and invited the spirit of Miranda into her body.  Miranda died over a century and a half ago; she was a sexual sadist who relished pain and murder.  Annalise, at least what is still her as Miranda owns the shared body, are in a mental institution.

Miranda plots to leave the body shell of Annalise and enter the body of Felicity.  The only reason she fails so far to enter her new body is Rowan Grant prevents her.  Like his wife Felicity, Rowan is also a practicing witch; but unlike her he can also communicate with the dead.  He visits Annalise in order to confront Miranda, but she makes him lose control, which causes Felicity to have unnatural desires from her corporal usurper.  Miranda jumps out of Annalise’s body and cuts off Rowan’s communication with the dead.  She kills enough people to insure she has enough power to retake Felicity’s body as she has done before (see All Acts of Pleasure).   She succeeds, but family friends repel her leaving Felicity in a child like state and Rowan willing to do anything to get her soul back into her body.

Rowan Grant stars in another strong St. Louis urban fantasy as the evil Miranda returns to cause havoc (see the Miranda trilogy).  Rowan has worked the ethereal plane before, but when it comes to the vicious Miranda, he knows it is personal as he wants her out of his wife’s body and their lives forever.  Character driven, the lead couple shares a common belief to do what they believe is right even when it goes against the norm.  M.R. Sellars has written another superb magical horror mystery thriller as one of the best villainesses of the last decade co-stars with Rowan and Felicity in a triangle from hell.

Harriet Klausner

Red Hood’s Revenge-Jim C. Hines

May 31, 2010

Red Hood’s Revenge

Jim C. Hines

Daw, Jul 6 2010, $ 7.99

ISBN: 9780756406080

As a child, Roudette witnessed the Hunt murder her grandmother.  That was the impetus into turning her into the cold calculating assassin, Little Lady of the Red Hood.

Roudette’s current kill is Princess Talia better known as Sleeping Beauty.  However, the trail to the royal leads Red to Talia’s two regal pals, Princesses Danielle (Cinderella) and Snow (White).  The three royals have come a long way but each vows one for all and all for one as they unite to find the individual who hired Red Hood.  Their quest takes them to Arathea where Talia remaines wanted for murdering the prince who awakened her from her slumber.

The latest Hines’ royal treatment of female stars of fairy tale classics (see The Stepsister Scheme and The Mermaid’s Madness) is a terrific fantasy that contains plenty of action and adventure, but also a much deeper look at the desires, motives and mental barriers of the lead trio than previously.  Fast-paced, the somewhat thin plot focuses on Roudette’s hunting of Talia who prefers to take the fight to the queen of assassins.  Readers will enjoy the latest escapades while wondering who will sleep with whom; as the four ladies know for ever after is found exclusively in fairy tales.

Harriet Klausner

God of War-Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman

May 31, 2010

God of War

Matthew Stover and Robert E. Vardeman

Del Rey, May 2010, $15.00

9780345508676

Kratos the warrior knows that serving the Gods of Olympus means being a monstrous murderer.  He accepted his fate as a slave but feels being labeled by his fellow Greeks as a murderous monster is unfair when Ares or Athena demand you do their bidding; saying no is not an option until now.  The chains of the Blades of Chaos that bound him are broken as the Gods apparently abandoned him to his conscience as the Ghost of Sparta.

Hermes taunted Athena with news that her pet mortal was considering entering Hades.  She is stunned and upset but believes Kratos’ downfall into thinking of suicide started with the Grave of Ships mission that set sail on the Aegean; leading him to an inferno engulfing Athens.  His freedom from doing the biddings of Olympus was to kill Ares the God of War; someone Kratos loathes for atrocities on humanity that the God made him commit.  Athena advised Kratos that the Blades of Chaos, the weapon he is bound to, is the only thing that could kill the God of War.  He sought to confront Ares; with his goal that one of them will die, which one did not matter to Kratos.

Clearly intended for fans of the fantasy game, God of War provides an intriguing mythological thriller with an underlying message to watch what you wish for as sometimes you get what you asked for.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment Athena thinks back to the adventures that led to her mortal pet being depressed and suicidal.  Game players and Greek mythos readers will especially appreciate Kratos’ “final” (if he survives the Gods are a capricious crowd toying with their inferiors) quest.

Harriet Klausner

Veil of Justice-Regan Black

May 31, 2010

Veil of Justice

Regan Black

CreateSpace, May 2010, $11.99

ISBN: 9781452828138

In 2096 in Chicago, undercover agent Nathan Burkhardt is captured and held in solitary confinement as prisoner B-21187 by Dr. Leo Kristoff, whose illegal genetic experiments have him believing he is the Creator.  His guards are assigned to break B-21187, but they are ignorant of his link to sanity. He has telepathic trysts he dreamingly shares with Kelly when she sleeps.  However, she has severed their ties and without them he has no hope

His sisters Petra Callahan and Jaden Thomas search for him by searching for Petra’s missing assistant Kelly who is “dead” from any one’s radar.  Kelly had disappeared with Nathan’s Mustang six months ago and her history goes back only five years.  The target of the two siblings wants to die since the tragedy that engulfed her family resulted in the deaths of her father and six brothers.  Meanwhile the growing power of the demon goddess Nin continues unabated as she is the one who sent her minion who killed the Guardian- family but failed to retrieve the ancient artifacts they protected and she covets.  One adult Guardian remains; Calisto the sister-daughter sent away because females are never Guardians, but she changed her identity five years ago.

The third Shadows of Justice recurring late twenty-first century fantasy thriller is a great entry that moves the lead from Jaden and Brian the cop (see Judge Incarnate) and Petra with Gideon the cop (see Invasion of Justice) to their brother’s undercover tale.  The story line is fast-paced from the moment that a desperate Nathan fears his mind will wither until he goes insane if he fails to reconnect telepathically with his sanity link Kelly who has her own deity issues.  Readers will relish this terrific tale that stands alone; as the Shadows of Justice series is one of the best futuristic urban fantasies on the market today

Harriet Klausner

Discord’s Apple-Carrie Vaughn

May 31, 2010

Discord’s Apple

Carrie Vaughn

Tor, Jul 6 2010, $23.99

ISBN: 9780765325549

With her dad Frank dying, Evie Walker leaves Los Angeles for his home In Hopes Font, Colorado, to take care of her father.  She moves in with him, but is stunned by the attitude of the visitors who ignore her and barely greet her dad.  They insolently enter the basement and leave with hardly a farewell salutation toting out strange junk.  A comic book writer, Evie reflects on how the strangers are stranger than her characters.

In Troy, with the help of Odysseus, Sinon the “Liar” gets in the walled city.  He persuades the doubting Trojans that Greeks gave up their siege and left behind a large wooden horse.  His ruse enables the Greeks to win the war, but also angers Apollo with the dishonorable deception.  He ignores Odysseus holding the Liar culpable.  A furious Apollo kidnaps Sinon, forcing the Liar to become his cupbearer.

In Colorado, with the death of her dad, Evie takes over shielding the basement from those who have no business there.  Hera orders Evie to give her the golden apple that causes discord and actually began the Trojan War though some say that the affront by Helen’s stepfather to Aphrodite is where it began.  Evie fears what the Goddess will do with Discord’s Apple; her prime ally in refusing Hera is a stranger Alex, who conceals his agenda from the mortal he is falling in love with.

This is a wild super Rocky Mountains fantasy as Carrie Vaughn departs from her DJ werewolf novels to tell an intriguing epic adventure that includes a hodgepodge from Camelot, Greek mythology and even someone who claims to have known Jesus in his heyday.  The cast is strong including the basement storage facility and the fascinating artifacts as Evie and readers learn that the victors write the mythos of history.

Harriet Klausner

The Queen of Sinister- Mark Chadbourn

May 30, 2010

The Queen of Sinister

Mark Chadbourn

PYR, Jun 2010, $16.00

ISBN: 978161642001

The Dark Age of magic has rendered technology useless; the world we know vanished overnight with Beasts sending fire from the skies and creatures stalking humans across the British landscape.  Deadly chaos is the norm with most humans believing it could not get any worse; they are wrong.

A pandemic plague attacked Britain.  No one knows the source only those who catch it die violently and painfully.  Dr. Caitlin Shepherd tries her best, but the twenty-eight year old mom feels overwhelmed as she is too young to be in charge, but out of default is.  feeling helpless. She is hammered further when her beloved husband Grant and their son catches the deadly infection at a time the town is invaded by a horde whose purple mist causes incredible depression and despair.  Caitlin feels helpless between the plague killing her family and these Whisperers mentally destroying anyone unfortunate to get in their way.  However her friend witch Mary Holden introduces Caitlin to Professor Crowther; he insists the GP is a Sister of Dragons and the only hope to curing the plague.  All she has to do is enter the Otherworld is to find the magic elixir.  Caitlin and Crowther begin the quest accompanied by the female teen Magalia , the young male mute Carlton, , and Matt seeking his daughter he insists Faeries carried away.

This entertaining tale is not on the epic proportions of the Age of Misrule trilogy or this saga’s predecessor The Devil in Green.  Still The Queen of Sinsister is an intriguing fantasy as the heroine and her teammates cross into the Otherworld on a quest with little hope of success.  Filled with action throughout and an incredible twist, fans of the author will want to join Caitlin as she treks across a realm from Celtic mythos to save what is left of her local world starting with her two loved ones.

Harriet Klausner

Hostage Zero-John Gilstrap

May 30, 2010

Hostage Zero

John Gilstrap

Pinnacle, Jul 1 2010, $6.99

ISBN 9780786020881

In Virginia, former marine now homeless Harvey Rodriguez finds the kid near death and tries to help Jeremy Schuler survive as he had been left for dead; his roommate Anthony at the school for children of jailed parents remains kidnapped.  Not far away, posing as FBI Agent Leon Harris, freelance hostage rescuer Jonathan “Digger” Grave questions nineteen year old jailed prisoner Jimmy Henry while his associates Boxer and call me Ven-ee-chay” watch his progress and his back from different milieus.  He tells the teen the associates who hired him they do not want any information re the kidnapping or shooting to get out so he will bust him out, but if betrays him he will kill him.

Digger and his team seek to save the lives of Jeremy and Anthony.  The rescue expert is confused why these kids and others are being snatched as there is no ransom money available to make it worth kidnapping them.  Thus they begin the quest with the only one caught: Jimmy Henry.  However, though not one to put anything passed those in power, Grave is shocked when he realizes a connection between the government and the mob is behind the abductions.

This is an exciting thriller as the audience learns why the abductions occur, who the victims are, and what choices the older lads have between slave, overseer, or death.  Fans will be hooked from the moment Digger goes after Jimmy and then his associates in what is a fast-paced action-packed tale as the hero and his teammates learn the hard way that the enemy kills with No Mercy to the innocent.

Harriet Klausner