Archive for May, 2013

If The Shoe Fits: A Contemporary Fairy Tale-Sandra D. Bricker

May 29, 2013

If The Shoe Fits: A Contemporary Fairy Tale
Sandra D. Bricker
River North, May 15 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780802406286

In the enchanted village of Cincinnati, BFFs since childhood Julianne and Will are legal partners. Whereas she is pleased with their personal buddies’ relationship, he has loved her seemingly forever. With every man she dates, his heart breaks but he remains silent about how he feels.

At a near multiple car crash where she almost played caboose, Jules notices a hunk who she believes is her Prince Charming. He leaves before she can exchange contact information, but she picks up his toolbox and a boot that fell off his vehicle. Jules begins her quest for her charming “Prince” Paul while her desperate partner decides that “where there’s a will there’s a way to his beloved’s heart at the Bar Association gala.

This is an engaging contemporary version of Cinderella with the twist that sometimes you look so hard for the image you fail to see the gallant knight riding a ten speed bike. Although Jules comes across as too pathetic, readers will enjoy this modern day fractured fairy tale romance that pays homage with chivalrous puns to Jay Ward.

Harriet Klausner

Questions of Travel-Michelle de Kretser

May 26, 2013

Questions of Travel
Michelle de Kretser
Little, Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316219228

In 1966 in Sydney, Australia, her older twin brothers tried to kill two year old Laura Fraser after her mom died as they blamed this female “alien” for her death. In the 1980s her brother Cameron dies, but she has no grief as he clearly hated her. When the only person who cares about her Aunt Hester died, Laura inherits a lot of money. She begins a travel odyssey around the world seeking someone who would love her.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ravi Mendis dreamed of seeing the world though he has no hope to escape his Sri Lankan village except perhaps to live in nearby Colombo. He marries and has a daughter, but the brutal civil war forces Ravi to flee his homeland. In 2000s he and Laura meet in Australia.

Questions of Travel is a fascinating look into journeys (of the mind as much as the body). The underlying premise is that the treasure is not always at the end of the rainbow; instead you may trek from and to sh*t. Character driven by the fully-developed lead pair within rotating subplots, readers who appreciate something different will enjoy this tale of leaving home.

Harriet Klausner

Angel Baby-Richard Lange

May 26, 2013

Angel Baby
Richard Lange
Mulholland/Little Brown, May 14 2013, $26.00
ISBN: 9780316219822

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando “El Principe”; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe’s money.

Raging Rolando liberates American “El Apache” from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man’s wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Harriet Klausner

Magician’s End-Raymond E. Feist

May 26, 2013

Magician’s End
Raymond E. Feist
Harper Voyager, May 14 2013, $29.99
ISBN: 9780061468438

With the death of King Gregory, the Congress of Lords meets to select the new ruler of the Kingdom of the Isles. However, there are no blood ties so an obvious frontrunner does not exist. The Congress remains divided as to who should be anointed. While they dither, civil war seems imminent as the royal place in Rillanon is threatened. Hal the Duke of Crydee, his brothers Martin and Brendan, and Jim Dasher Jamison and his grandfather Lord James struggle to prevent the war.

Meanwhile Pug the Master Sorcerer, his son Magnus, Nakor, and Miranda struggle to escape the devious trap sprung by the Adversary. This foe has sent his only viable opponent to a different plane of existence with no chance of ever coming back to periled Midkemia. Inside the impenetrable Grey Tower Mountains, a deadly assault on the Star Elves has begun as the Adversary continues his plan to achieve his only goal: oblivion.

The supposedly final fantasy in the three decade long Riftwars is a fabulous fitting Feisty finish to an overall exciting saga of thirty books. The enjoyable storyline is for the most part fast-paced even with reflective asides and ephemeral encounters with characters not seen in a while. Although the fifth of the Riftwars series targets fans only as Magician’s End is no place to start nor is the Chaoswar Saga (see A Kingdom Besieged and A Crown Imperiled), Raymond E. Feist ends with a bang not a whimper.

Harriet Klausner

A Step of Faith-Richard Paul Evans

May 24, 2013

A Step of Faith
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster, May 7 2013, $19.99
ISBN: 9781451628296

Advertising executive Alan Christoffersen left Seattle when his beloved wife died and his partner Kyle Craig destroyed their business leaving the grieving widower with nothing but a need to get as far away as he can from the Pacific Northwest. His goal was to walk to Key West.

Alan awakens in a St, Louis hospital after falling unconscious on a roadside. He finds out that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor; so heads to Los Angeles for treatment. There his father, his loyal former employee Falene, and Nicole who nursed him after a mugging in Spokane are there for him, but he drives them away as Alan reflects on his life while pondering whether he should give up as he feels like a failed Job or continue his trek until he realizes what he lost.

The fourth Walk saga (see The Walk, Miles to Go and The Road to Grace) is an entertaining entry as Alan realizes what he wrought with his caustic behavior towards those who love him. Except for a visit to a cult that slows down the pacing, for the most part this is a strong character driven tale; as each step on the journey requires faith if the protagonist is to refill his spiritual void.

Harriet Klausner

Kneading To Die-Liz Mugavero

May 18, 2013

Kneading To Die
Liz Mugavero
Kensington, May 7 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9780758284785

When Warner Insurance downsized her public relations position, Kristan “Stan” Connor, accompanied by her significant other Nutty the Maine Coon cat, left West Hartford for a simpler life in Frog Ledge, Connecticut. While her boyfriend Richard wonders if she lost her mind by leaving the big city for Sleepy Hollow, Stan hears the neighbors brawl while she moves into her Victorian.

Stan likes her new neighbors; especially Char Mackey, homeopathic animal nurturer Amara Leonard and “Pet’s Last Chance” director Nikki Manning while they seem to welcome her and her special food that she makes for Nutty and soon the other town pets. Town veterinarian, Dr. Carole Morganwick visits Stan demanding she bring Nutty in as a patient before office hours. Though her stomach churns and her mind tells her not to, Stan and Nutty arrive for the early appointment only to find unpopular Morganwick buried dead in kibble. State trooper Jessica Pasquale and the locals look at the newcomer as the suspect when their pets become poisoned; so Stan seeks answers especially the source of what is harming the animals.

The first Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit with two mysteries for the heroine to resolve. Although the love of pets feels like a hammer used to frequently to even a cat and dog lover like me, readers will enjoy Stan’s investigative asides into the poisoning of pets and as a byproduct the vet’s homicide.

Harriet Klausner

Deadly Harvest-Michael Stanley

May 10, 2013

Deadly Harvest
Michael Stanley
Bourbon Street/Harper, Apr 30 2013, $14.99
ISBN: 9780062221520

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David “Kubu” Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor’s Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

Harriet Klausner

The Jericho Deception-Jeffrey Small

May 10, 2013

The Jericho Deception
Jeffrey Small
West Hills Press, Apr 30 2013, $15.95
ISBN: 9781933512440

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain’s left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The
“God Machine” as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation’s Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos “clone” to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small’s saga superbly fresh.

Harriet Klausner

Heart Of Iron-Bec McMaster

May 10, 2013

Heart Of Iron
Bec McMaster
Sourcebooks, May 7 2013, $6.99
ISBN: 9781402270307

In 1879 London, verwolfen Will “Beast of Whitechapel” Carver diligently continues to risk his life, especially with his being wanted, to protect the Blade ruler of the rookeries. However, danger from the Blade’s enemies is insignificant compared with Will’s unwanted feelings for Lena Todd that have grown almost out of control over the last three years. Perhaps Lena’s turning to the feral Echelon’s blue-blood Leo Barrons after Will rejected her offer of love hurts the verwolfen most of all.

Will learns his beloved Lena works undercover delivering coded messages for the Humanists in Whitechapel. He fears she is in danger as war seems imminent between the ruling Echelon and the rebellious Humanists. As Will vows to keep Lena safe, he remains unaware of the insidious threats demanding she betray him and others. Meanwhile the Prince Consort and four members of the council of Dukes seek an his assistance to forge an alliance with the verwolfen Scandinavian clans,

The second paranormal steampunk Victorian romance (see Kiss of Steel) is a fabulous thriller that cleverly uses political intrigue to keep the hero and readers wondering who to trust. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this masterful historical urban fantasy suspense as falling in love requires a heart of Iron if the couple is to survive the dangerous world of Bec McMaster.

Harriet Klausner

A Beastly Scandal-Shereen Vedam

May 10, 2013

A Beastly Scandal
Shereen Vedam
ImaJinn, April 15 2013, $14.00
ISBN: 9781610261241

In 1812 England, Lady Annabelle Marchant enjoyed the balls until she used her psychic powers to save a life, but failed. The man died and she became a pariah.

Lady Terrance pleads with Annabelle to help the ghost of her murdered late husband. Her son Lord Rufus demands Annabelle leave his family manor in Cheshire and preferably the village too as he has no time for frivolous females trying to trap him in marriage. The monarch warned Rufus he will explain his activity to the House of Lords as he is the only suspect in his father’s homicide. As Rufus investigates, additional killings occur and an angry ghost is running amuck. Reluctantly, Annabelle and Rufus team up to identify the real killer and enable the late Lord Terrance to obtain some peace before the new lord becomes a victim.

A Beastly Scandal is an entertaining paranormal Victorian amateur sleuth romance. The storyline is fast-paced while also enabling the audience to believe in the heroine’s psychic skills and ghosts exist. Although the protagonists’ attraction feels intrusive especially early in the otherwise engaging storyline, sub-genre fans will enjoy the exploits of the ghost whisperer and the murder suspect uniting in love to end a killer’s reign of terror.

Harriet Klausner