Archive for May, 2012

Tin Swift-Devon Monk

May 31, 2012

Tin Swift

Devon Monk

Roc, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464538

 

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon.  Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven.  Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar’s sibling Wil the wolf.  The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense. 

 

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk.  Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise.  A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt.  Captain Hink leads the Swift glim “mining” ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors.  He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon.  As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

 

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly.  The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead.  Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

 

Harriet Klausner

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Seating Arrangements-Maggie Shipstead

May 31, 2012

Seating Arrangements

Maggie Shipstead

Knopf, Jun 12 2012, $25.95

ISBN: 9780307599469

 

The two extended families gather together for the marriage of seven months pregnant Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff at the former’s exclusive Waskeke Island summer home.  Daphne’s Boston Brahmin banker father Winn hits on Agatha the bridesmaid while his wife Biddy runs the wedding events like a General with her mantra to insure no scandals occur though she would prefer her daughter marry for love unlike what she did.  Their other daughter Livia remains heartbroken over Teddy Fenn dumping her, but considers a weekend tryst with one of Greyson’s brothers while rejecting another of the groom’s siblings who openly shows interest in her.  In between imbibing Daphne’s maternal Aunt Celeste looks over the male attendees like a shark seeking her next “marital” meal.

 

This lampooning of the American family is a jocular look at two clans merging into one during a marriage ceremony.  The ensemble cast comes across as fragile with each trying to hide their flaws with varying forms of bravado.  Mindful of Meredith Goldstein’s The Singles, although over the three day weekend very little happens beyond satirizing the sanctity of family, fans will enjoy this “Meet the” Van Meters and Duffs.

 

Harriet Klausner


Gold-Chris Cleave

May 31, 2012

Gold

Chris Cleave

Simon & Schuster, Jul 3 2012, $27.00

ISBN 9781451672725

 

At the Manchester Velodrome, nineteen year old Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows meet when each tries out for a spot on the Elite Prospects Programme for British Cycling.  Coach Tom Voss selects who he wants to train. Both teens are attracted to racer Jack Argall, but though Zoe hooks him first, Kate wins that competition as she marries him.

 

Thirteen years later, Zoe and Kate have remained friends but now compete for the sole British female cycling slot at the 2012 London Olympic Games and with their age it should be their last ride.  Kate, who gave up two previous games over the health of her eight years old daughter Sophie, ailing with leukemia; while Zoe is known as a serial sex fiend who plays hard in everything she does.  The thirtyish rivals will soon compete in a winner goes to the Games and the loser stays home.

 

This is an exciting look at the highest level of competitive cycling between two women tied together from the moment they met.  Their personalities are different as Kate is a dedicated mom while Zoe has the track only.  Jack is a cross between the two ladies as he is driven to win almost to the degree of Zoe but also knows his only important gold medal is his family.  Although Kate is too forgiving especially of Zoe who has relationship issues, this is an engaging read that takes readers behind the scenes and around the oval.

 

Harriet Klausner

Hide and Seek-

May 31, 2012

Hide and Seek

Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky

B&H Books, Jul 1 2012, $14.99

ISBN: 9781433671425

 

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, American military Foreign Affairs officer Amelia Lennon and the country’s First Daughter Jildiz Oskonbaeva meet at Blonder Pub to discuss the Manas Transit Center.  Jildiz explains that their next door neighbor the Chinese have offered 10 billion and the Russians 2 billion so the American offer of 60 million is not enough.  They leave, but the capital explodes into riots while three men try to abduct Jildiz.  Amelia uses her car to hit two of the kidnappers.  Jildiz get into her car as they flee from the third.

 

Ranger Master Sergeant J.J. Brantley is excited over seeing the ultrasound picture of his unborn twins.  He and his team are in Kyrgyzstan preparing to welcome the two new members.  However, before they can train together, Colonel Weidman assigns them to rescue Amelia and Jildiz in the midst of a tinder box that has erupted without bringing attention to American military roaming the streets.

 

This is a strong military thriller that brings to life the personal cost by those who serve and their family members as well as how volatile the situation in Kyrgyzstan can quickly become with the rivalry between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek populace.  The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the two females in peril from an angry pursuer or the team mounting a rescue.  Looming in the background is the Bush legacy of our inability to compete with the Chinese monetarily on the world stage while providing an entertaining discerning look at the military operating in a hostile scenario.  Hide and Seek is a terrific realistic thriller. 

 

Harriet Klausner

 

The Age of Miracles-Karen Thompson Walker

May 31, 2012

The Age of Miracles

Karen Thompson Walker

Random House, Jun 26 2012, $26.00

ISBN: 9780812992977

 

Only the night owls realized that something had changed; most people were ignorant.  On the sixth of October, a scientist states that the earth is “slowing”.  Many panicked seeking a haven, but the Slowing impacts the planet so there is no place run to.

 

In California, Julia, her dad and BFF Hanna ignore the rants of her mom that something hellacious has occurred.  Instead the two girls go outside to look around, but everything seems normal.  However, all will soon understand why hell has come to earth as the earth’s rotation continues to slow down impacting the size of a day and adversely affecting the environment.  Julia has enough social issues with her parents’ constant bickering, her seemingly unrequited first love and her grandfather’s senile behavior without worrying about the new norm of the Slowing.

 

With a nod to The Twilight Zone’s “The Midnight Sun”, The Age of Miracles is an exhilarating apocalyptic thriller.  The storyline is fast-paced and Julia is a precocious narrator whose struggles change from typical social fears to adapting to a changing world in which she has either a bleak or no future.  Although the cause for the Slowing is not provided, this coming of age tale is an insightful look at how people especially those within a couple of degrees of Julia react to the final countdown.

 

Harriet Klausner

Tin Swift-Devon Monk

May 31, 2012

Tin Swift

Devon Monk

Roc, Jul 3 2012, $15.00

ISBN: 9780451464538

 

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon.  Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven.  Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar’s sibling Wil the wolf.  The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense. 

 

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk.  Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise.  A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt.  Captain Hink leads the Swift glim “mining” ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors.  He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon.  As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

 

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly.  The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead.  Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

 

Harriet Klausner

The Long Earth-Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

May 31, 2012

The Long Earth

Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter

Harper, Jun 19 2012, $25.99

ISBN: 9780062067753

 

The Stepping process has enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths.  None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become.  Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those who can are in demand.

 

“Gold” fever has foolish people greedily Stepping out; many to their deaths.  Meanwhile the TransEarth Institute hires one of those with the rare skill Joshua Valiente, accompanied by Lobsang the AI who insists that in a previous life he was a Tibetan, to steer an airship across the endless Long Earth in order to explore the unknown for economic potential.

 

This is a fascinating science fiction tale that readers will enjoy though in many ways it reads like a series of anecdotal events.  The side effects of Stepping grips the audience as the rules of survival become known by early explorers (and readers) and quick visits to a series of worlds by the protagonists begin to shape what is out there.  Though the premise is intriguing and the storyline entertaining, The Long Earth would have been better as a series of short stories starring the early explorers not always surviving their visits to multiple earths.

 

Harriet Klausner

Getting Married and Other Mistakes-Barbara Slate

May 31, 2012

Getting Married and Other Mistakes

Barbara Slate

Other Press, Jun 12 2012, $14.95

ISBN: 9781590515358

 

It has been seven years of marriage when John tells Jo he feels guilty but needs space.  Jo a wedding photographer looks back at her bride photo and wonders if even then she thought she was making a mistake when she married John on the advice of her mom.  However, the shocking finality comes from a stranger Candy who says she and John need to raise Little John as a happy family.  She ignores her mom who coached her into marital defeat while her friends (Andrea, Timothy and Georgia) suggest a good lay, and therapist Dr. Rubenstein insists Jo has low self-esteem.  Jo wonders if she is a serial follower who never sees anything but someone else’s butt until she begins to look at the photos she took of the sad brides who tell her to heed her own advice; easier said than done. 

 

Using insightful jocular graphics, Getting Married and Other Mistakes is a fabulous amusing yet serious look at a woman who has ignored self-actualization by adhering to mom’s spousal mantra of perfection.  Filled with pathos and humor (the boyfriends and DontBeAnOldMaid.com are terrific segues), readers will root for the heroine to find her inner self besides being a devoted daughter to a control freak mom who believes a woman’s only roles are first and foremost being a wife and second a mother.

 

Harriet Klausner

Breakfast in Stilettos- Liz Kingswood

May 30, 2012

Breakfast in Stilettos

Liz Kingswood

Camel Press, Jul 15 2012, $13.95

ISBN: 9781603818780

 

Seattle Sun Times Senior Editor Kenner assigns thirtyish Lifestyles Editor Emily Royce to cover the city’s “slutterati” community.  Emily does some research and chats with her ex Seattle Zealot columnist Frank Trager who ended their relationship abruptly for no apparent reason.  When she has no one to go with her, prudish Emily agrees to allow Frank, who has been there, to escort her to the Slutterati Salon.

 

Emily meets six foot plus fetish friendly sex therapist Dr. Rachel Steiner and sub Pixie Caldwell as part of her research.  On line subs beg her to spank them.  As Emily waits on line for Frank to arrive so they can enter the salon together, she meets programmer Joe Stratton.  Inside, Emily is shocked yet excited by what is going on though Frank dumps her while Joe escorts her.  She begins to learn more about herself and Frank over a glass of wine.

 

Not for everyone, Breakfast In Stilettos is an intriguing unique BDSM second chance at love tale.  The magnificent Em makes the storyline work as her metamorphosis rings true albeit perhaps her acceptance is too fast; after she spent too much of the early plot moaning about losing Frank while everyone else groans too frequently he is a loser.  Fans will enjoy visiting the Slutterati Salon with Liz Kingswood as out escort.

 

Harriet Klausner

 

 

Burning Midnight-Loren D. Estleman

May 30, 2012

Burning Midnight

Loren D. Estleman

Forge, Jun 5 2012, $24.99

ISBN: 9780765331205

 

Detroit Police Homicide Division Inspector John Alderdyce worries about his son’s Mexican brother-in-law, Ernesto Pasada who has been seen hanging around the city’s Mexicantown with the local branch of the Maldados gang.  Alderdyce asks his friend private investigator Amos Walker to find a way to inform the Maldados to forget about Pasada.

 

Walker enters Mexicantown where the Maldados and the Zapatistas gangs compete for control of the turf.  Soon after he begins his mission, war breaks out between the rival gangs.  As he tries to end the hostilities, Walker finds evidence that an international mob is manipulating both Mexicantown gangs.  However what to do with his proof is difficult to decide; as he knows each gang prefers to kill first and ask questions later.

 

The twenty-second Amos Walker PI thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar and Infernal Angels) is a great tale that grips the audience from the moment Alderdyce becomes Walker’s surprising client and never let’s go until after a brilliant climax.  Readers will praise Loren D. Estleman as Burning Midnight will be on the short lists for thriller of the year.

 

Harriet Klausner