Archive for April, 2012

Shadow Blizzard-Alexey Pehov

April 30, 2012

Shadow Blizzard

Alexey Pehov

Tor, Apr 24 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780765324054

 

Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial.  His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered.  If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.

 

Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him.   However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial.  Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact. 

 

With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil.  Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent.  Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone.

 

Harriet Klausner

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Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais

April 30, 2012

 Effie: The Passionate Lives of Effie Gray, John Ruskin and John Everett Millais

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper

St. Martin’s Griffin, May 8 2012, $15.99

ISBN: 9781250016256

 

In 1854, Effie Gray, abetted and encouraged by Lady Easterly, wife of the head of the Royal Academy, did the unthinkable though she knew her action will ostracize her; she filed for an annulment after six years of marriage to famous art critic John Ruskin on the grounds she remained a virgin.  Soon after obtaining the dissolution of her marriage, Effie married Ruskin’s student, pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais and along with her sister Sophy became his muse and mother of their eight children. 

 

Suzanne Fagence-Cooper provides an intriguing biography that combines knowledge obtained from family correspondence mostly written by the upper class heroine with the state of Victorian art and aristocratic history.  Though insightful, Ms. Cooper also fills in gaps with speculation.  Those that are based on the state of Victorian art and high society seem reasonable and enhance the bio especially the annulment events; on the other hand those that are psychological fillers like Sophy’s relationship with Millais and Ruskin’s rejection of his wife ask too much of the reader.  Still this is an enjoyable Victorian biography.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Bird Saviors-William J. Cobb

April 30, 2012

The Bird Saviors

William J. Cobb

Unbridled, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9781609530709

 

Ruby Cole knows the world has gone wrong when the government pays hunters to kill birds she loves to count.  They rationalize the kills on a deadly flu fever blamed on birds, but do nothing about dust storms, fires and deadly felonious activity.  Her Colorado no longer has room for a Moon Bird or for that matter her. 

 

Meanwhile her dad “Lord God” the disabled Forsaken Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints preacher gives his daughter Ruby Cole two untenable choices.  She must give up her baby Lila or marry Page a man her dad’s age who has two wives because Lord God received a heavenly vision.  Deciding to not honor her martinet father, Ruby selects a third option when she decides to run away with Lila.  Her seemingly isolated act of defiance turns into a butterfly effect on Widower Ward Costello and other people involved in aviary population and criminal activity.

 

The Bird Saviors is a fascinating low-key character driven thriller starring a young woman who decides to take a chance on living instead of dying a slow domestic death.  The storyline starts slow as the world around Pueblo and the key cast are established during a difficult recession.  Once done, chaos theory takes effect as one thing leads to another in a world that seems to have gone mad.  Readers will enjoy Ruby’s impact as she becomes a bird savior while searching for a good happy life for her and her baby.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Wrong Man-David Ellis

April 30, 2012

The Wrong Man

David Ellis

Putnam, Jun 14 2012, $26.95

ISBN 9780399158285

 

After class, paralegal Kathy Rubinkowski heads to her SUV to go home when someone shoots her in her head.  Detective Frank Danilo and Mona Gregus arrest Iraqi war veteran Tom Stoller who is incoherent and apparently homeless in spite of an address.  Stoller was found with the murder weapon and Kathy’s purse near the homicide scene.  The cops get a confession out of the mentally unstable Stoller.

 

Tom’s Aunt Deidre Maley observes in court attorney Jason Kolarich destroy the testimony of a key prosecution witness in a murder case.  She pleads with him to defend her nephew as public defender Bryan Childress is leaving the office.  He agrees though the trial is in a few weeks and his client wants it over so a continuance is unlikely.  As he goes over the evidence and talks with his client, Jason begins to believe Tom confessed to a horrible event in Iraq not to the killing of Kathy.  He finds proof that Kathy was assassinated because someone wanted to end her inquiry into a terrorists’ money trail.

 

The third Jason Kolarich legal thriller (see The Hidden Man and Breach of Trust) is an exciting tale that is at its best in the courtroom and in client-lawyer meetings.  The attorney defends an individual suffering from PTSD triggered Disorganized Schizophrenia who mumbles okay though he apparently has no idea what he responds to.  When the case turns into an improbable thriller, the storyline remains fast-paced but loses some of its freshness of defending a person whose sanity seems unlikely.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The River Witch-Kimberly Brock

April 30, 2012

The River Witch

Kimberly Brock

Bell Bridge, Apr 6 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781611941234

 

Thirty years old Roslyn Byrne’s charmed life ended with the crash.  Her career as a professional ballet dancer on the Atlanta stage ended and while healing at her mom’s house, she gave birth to a stillborn. 

 

Worried about her daughter’s inability to move past her grief, Rosalyn’s mom pushes her to spend a summer healing on Manny’s Island; Georgia just off St. Simon’s.  Rosalyn rents a house from the Trezevant family.  Their tweener daughter Damascus adopts the grieving Roslyn by introducing her to gators and hoodoo magic as the ten years old knows loss too with her mom dead.  As Roslyn’s past and that of the Trezevant family become known due to the river where the dead rest, the former dancer begins to heal.

 

The gothic atmosphere makes for a strong character driven tale of people struggling with grief.  The support cast is solid especially ephemeral cousin Nonnie and patriarch Urey.  However, this haunting whimsical tale of soul healing belongs to the Sea Isle with its magical music by the riverbank and the two females; each barely coping with their respective losses until they meet.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

Shadow Blizzard-Alexey Pehov

April 30, 2012

Shadow Blizzard

Alexey Pehov

Tor, Apr 24 2012, $26.99

ISBN 9780765324054

 

Shadow Harold the thief seeks the horn to prevent the awakened Nameless One Dark Lord from destroying Sial.  His journey has been marked by the deaths of comrades in arms as they fight the forces of the Dark Lord, but though he would prefer to return to the shadows of thievery, Harold remains resolute in his quest to obtain the horn by breaching the impregnable Hrad Spein, a place no army, even that of wizards, has entered.  If he and those allies who live and have not betrayed him (yet) reach the dark underground palace, only Shadow Harold alone, as the Dancer in the Shadows can complete the journey.

 

Even if Harold obtains the horn and escapes Hrad Spein, he knows he remains behind enemy lines with orcs hunting him to recapture him.   However, Harold cannot think that far ahead as war explodes in Sial.  Before he can take the horn, he still has to confront deadly hindrances entering and leaving Hrad Spein; obstacles that have destroyed every fool trying to steal the artifact. 

 

With a nod to the Lord of the Rings, the Shadow Chronicles of Sial epic fantasy (see Shadow Prowler and Shadow Chaser) is an engaging trilogy as the third entry is a taut thriller that never abates the tension until the anticipated final confrontation between good and evil.  Shadow Blizzard contains greater tension than the previous novels as the jocularity that seemed out of place with so much death and destruction is virtually nonexistent.  Harold is terrific as he deals with immense pressure as he expects his destiny is death, but remains steadfast on his quest as he knows in the end he must go it alone.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Taken-Vicki Pettersson

April 30, 2012

The Taken

Vicki Pettersson

Harper Voyager, Jun 12 2012, $13.99

ISBN 9780062064646

 

Five decades ago Griffin Shaw private investigator was murdered.  His gig is collecting the souls of murder victims like Nicole Rockwell who in spite of a crushed larynx tells him she is a photographer not a hooker who due to the movie Ghost distrusts him to Take her soul to Everlast.  Unable to resist a crying female; he breaks the rules and allows her to change her clothing; allowing Anas of the Powers angels to claim the soul.  Griff’s efforts to prevent the theft angers Anas who clips his wings and returns him to life in a skin of sin.

 

Nicole’s friend Las Vegas reporter Katherine “Kit” Craig arrives as Griff flees.  Kit and Nicole were working on a child prostitution ring.  Meanwhile Griff figures since he is being punished by the heavenly powers, he will investigate the cold case murders of himself and his wife Evie.  However, he is given one last chance to regain his heavenly status: he must collect the soul of Kit Craig whose guilt and obsession to avenge her friend’s death has her facing death.  Falling in love Griff cannot deliver though it means damnation.

 

This is an engaging romantic urban fantasy as Vicki Pettersson deftly exaggerates the traits of the hard boiled 1950s detective with a soft boiled heart and the go into hell for a story reporter (Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday).  The paranormal hierarchy contains a uniqueness that is two-sword as the premise enables the reader to understand Griff’s “sin” and the universe he works, but the complexity of the Pettersson pantheon also slows down the storyline while never explaining his “fickleness” between Evie and Kit.  Still this is an entertaining paranormal as two souls defy heaven.

 

Harriet Klausner

Lethal Rider-Larissa Ione

April 30, 2012

Lethal Rider

Larissa Ione

Grand Central, May 22 2012, $7.99

ISBN 9780446574501

 

Thanatos the Horsemen of the Apocalypse Death rages over what has happened to him.  For centuries this Lord of Deliverance knew he must remain sexual abstinent to prevent his Agimortus seal from breaking.  An ancient prophecy claims that his offspring will save the world so two of his Horsemen siblings (Ares and Limos) drugged him so that Aegis Guardian Regan Matthews could seduce him in order to become pregnant (see Immortal Rider).

 

Feeling date raped and betrayed Thanatos abducts Regan in order to make her his sexual prisoner.  However, he finds an obsessive compulsive disorder individual filled with remorse and eight months pageant.  Stunned Thanatos realizes the baby is his Agimortus and the fourth Horseman Pestilence, whose seal was broken (see Eternal Rider), hunts them for he knows killing the infant will fuel the Apocalypse.

 

The third Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the moment Thanatos realizes he has been betrayed and never slows down until the final confrontation.  Though it helps to have read Immortal Rider as the drugged seduction occurs as a secondary plot; that is not necessary as this fast-paced story line filled with betrayals can be read alone; while setting up the Ione apocalyptic mythos final doomsday confrontation.

 

Harriet Klausner

Under Fire-Catherine Mann

April 28, 2012

Under Fire

Catherine Mann

Sourcebooks, May 1 2012, $6.99

ISBN 9781402245015

 

Pararescueman Major Liam McCabe and Rachel Flores worked together in the Bahamas rescuing people during an earthquake.  For the next six months he tried to make contact with her, but she refused to respond though she is attracted to Liam.  She has a problem with his multi failed marriages somewhat but deep down she knows her fears of commitment go back to her fiancé who died on a mission.

 

On Patrick Air Force base, Florida, Liam and his team provide external security for a NASA sponsored international summit.  This is the thirty eight year old soldier’s farewell mission after a career in the military though he knows he is going out with a whimper.  Rachel finds Liam’s car and breaks into it.  Meanwhile her house is ablaze due to an explosion.  Liam is stunned to find her and one of her rescue dogs Disco inside his vehicle.  She explains a flag officer has betrayed the country and wants her dead; she trusts only Liam to help her.

 

The latest Elite Force military romantic thriller (see Cover Me) is an exciting tale starring two individuals who met during the Bahamas rescue mission (see Hot Zone).  Fast-paced and filled with action, Liam knows that if he chooses his heart, he could lose his twenty year career retirement; but if he ignores his heart he will live with regret as his unit’s mantra “that others may live” haunts him especially since Rachel is the one asking him.  Fans will enjoy Under Fire as the protagonists, assisted by his squad, team up to try to bring down a highly ranked officer.

 

Harriet Klausner

COAST: An Act Of Burial-Xander Richards

April 28, 2012

COAST: An Act Of Burial

Xander Richards

BookBaby, Apr 25 2012, $7.99

http://www.bookbaby.com

ISBN: 9781620956076

 

Tactical Deployment and Response Team (TDR-12) chief special ops agent Corporal Ian McKinley assassinates his Uncle Brennan, weapons dealer who sold high-tech armament to terrorists.  He returns to his base under the streets of Nottingham where his superior officer General Sutton assigns TDR-12 to get to the Fort William navy supply ship that has foundered in the Persian Gulf because the vessel contains four trident nuclear warheads that they must possess.  McKinley and his teammates Carter and Brook arrive quickly, but are attacked and two nukes are gone.

 

At the same time, members of the TDR units are being murdered.  When TDR-7 is wiped out, TDR-12 takes over their mission traveling to Russia to meet arms dealer Vladimir Kholitczyn to learn what he knows about the two nukes.  They survive an assault as the Russian informs them to look back home.  Sutton realizes a traitor is betraying the TDR from within; so he sets up a scheme to find the operative who has betrayed his brothers in arms and his country.

 

This is an action-packed international espionage thriller starring a team of agents trying to prevent the use of the stolen bombs on British citizens and to uncover the diabolical killing traitor.  The entertaining plot can turn passively wordy when Xander Richards goes deep into the thought processes of TDR-12 during the planning, execution, and after action debriefing of an operation.  I found the insight fascinating but the action to the nth degree fan might not.  With a great twist adding to the fun, COAST: An Act Of Burial is a fabulous war against terrorism tale though Ian and company can use some R&R.

 

Harriet Klausner