zaterdag 4 juni 2016

Anthology - Strange Brew

An anthology of stories edited by P N Elrod, published July 7, 2009.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: good

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Today's hottest urban fantasy authors come together in this delicious brew that crackles and boils over with tales of powerful witches and dark magic!

A lot of famous authors in this anthology, and the stories are sweet and short. I do know all the authors, but not all the stories/series those stories take place in.

Patricia Briggs - Seeing Eye

A blind witch is asked for help by a werewolf, to find his kidnapped brother, who is an undercover policeman. As the kidnapper is her evil father, Moira feels obliged to help him. But when touching him while working a spell, she can actually see again!
Great story, with a happy ending, and this couple is mentioned again the Patricia Briggs' books. I enjoyed it, but I have read it before in other anthologies.

8 stars.

Jim Butcher - Last Call

When Harry Dresden needs a beer and a sandwich, he goes to his favourite pub, where he finds all the patrons in need of medical attention. Apparently, someone has tampered with the beer, and it is up to Harry, his apprentice and police detective Murray to figure out who, why and stop them from.

A nice little story, and as Harry has an apprentice, a lot farther in the series than were I am at yet.

7 stars.

Rachel Caine - Death warmed over

Holly is a resurrection witch, and the police want her to resurrect the famous Andrew Toland, again. If she refuses the job, they will ask the next in line, and that is her biggest enemy, a woman who enjoys torturing those the resurrects. And so, very reluctantly, she complies. She had real trouble putting Andrew back to death the last time, and she doesn't look forward to the heartbreak again.
When she brings back Andrew, he remembers everything about last time and his previous life, and that should not be possible! How can she be in love with a dead man? But it is Holly who needs protection as someone is killing resurrection witches, and the police send to protect them…

A great story I enjoyed. I have read a short story with this couple before and it was nice to read the start of it. I am not sure if this is part of a series I have not read yet by Rachel Caine.

8 stars.

Karen Chance - Vegas Odds

Again a short story about a mage I have read another short story about before, but I think this one is the sequel of the previous one, so I was glad to have some back story. Lia is attacked in her own home, and nearly killed by her own students. But the one who is supposed to be behind it, is not the real one, something closer to home is behind it all, to protect his own secrets and evil deeds …

Good story, lots of action as I am used to with Karen Chance, and I hope to see Lia again. Part warmage, part werewolf and part human make for a very interesting mix.

9 stars.

P.N. Elrod - Hecate's golden eye

Charles Escott and vampire Jack Fleming form some sort of private investigation firm, and they are hired by Miss Mabel Weaver, to steal her precious yellow diamond pendant back from her cousin, before she can sell it to a collector. The stone has been in her family for generations, and she inherited it from their grandmother, while cousin Agnes inherited the house.

I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I liked the writing style, and her take on a vampire with Jack Fleming. I will try something else from her hand.

7 stars.

Charlaine Harris - Bacon

I am not a fan of the Sookie Stackhouse series, and this story seems to belong to that series. Vampire Dahlia takes her revenge on the witch and the werewolves who killed her husband, and I enjoyed reading this. I might try more of Charlaine Harris after all.

8 stars.

Faith Hunter - Signatures of the Dead

I think this is the very first story in the Jane Yellowrock series, and as I am a huge fan of it, I was glad to finally read this story. I don’t think I would have liked it as much without having read some of the books in the series, as there is not much of a background on Jane and her friend Molly. But knowing the series I really loved this short story, as there is some mention of it in start the series.

9 stars.

Caitlin Kittredge - Ginger

A short story in the Nocturne City series I believe. I haven't read anything by this author yet, but I liked this story and her writing style. A young witch with a werewolf cousin detective, who always is stronger and braver and faster, finally shows her own courage and saves some children in the process.

8 stars.

Jenna MacLaine - Dark Sins

Jenna MacLaine used to write the Sin Craven series, about historical vampires. It was and still is an amazing series and I loved it. But when the publisher pulled the plug on it, as far as I can find out, she never wrote another story. And that is a real shame as she is very good at it.
If you can find the books in this series (beautiful covers as wel!), give them a try!

So, discovering a new to me short story in this world was awesome, I enjoyed it very much.

10 stars.

All in all, a great anthology, with famous names and no duds at all. Recommended.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 3 juni 2016

Jess Haines - Smoke and Mirrors

The first book in the Blackhollow Academy series, published April 28, 2016.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: I don't like it.

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A girl who uses her illusions to fool the world into thinking she's just like all the other magi.
A dragon who sees through her lies.
Together they just might survive a world that wants to control or destroy them both.

Kimberly may wield ultimate cosmic power, but even a mage has to pay the rent. No one will hire her for her magic talents until she's got the credentials, so she's stuck in a crappy rent controlled apartment with her mother, yearning for treats she can't afford at her part time job in a cafe, counting down the days until she graduates the secret Blackhollow Academy school for magi. Only then will she have the certificate she needs to land her dream job in a coven.
The problem? She needs a familiar to graduate.
As an illusionist, she doesn't have the ability to summon or create a familiar of her own. Her only option is to convince a supernatural creature to let her bind it instead. Since having a powerful Other at her beck and call would guarantee her a place in a coven after she graduates - and legendary treasure hoards are an added bonus - she thinks binding a dragon as her familiar will solve all her problems...
Because sometimes a girl needs a dragon, not a knight.

I was asked by the author to review this book, which was a very nice surprise, and after reading the blurb, I quickly said yes. And I am not sorry at all, as I absolutely loved this story. It is set in the world of her Others, as Alec Royce is mentioned once and there were other familiar bits and pieces.

I soon fell for Kimberly, who does not have an easy life. She and her mother both work hard to be able to pay the rent for their shabby apartment and buy food and other necessities. She is a sorcerer in a world where sorcerers are reviled and killed on sight, so she has to hide that fact. Sure, she could use her powers to make her own money and buy what she wants, but she has standards and honor, and she won't do that, just to make life easier. I admire that about her. She goes to school, to work long hours in a small café, and then home to study. That's it. She doesn't have friends, although one might become one, or anything resembling a social life.
Kimberly is a last year student and Blackhollow Academy for magi. But her sorcerer's magic just can't do everything magi can do, so she uses a lot of her illusion magic to make it appear like she can do it. But one thing won't be possible to fake: to summon a familiar into a circle.
One of her teachers who knows what she is, suggests that she approaches an Other to ask for his of her acceptance of being bound as her earthbound familiar. And not just an ordinary Other: a Dragon! And she gives Kimberly an address and a name of someone who can help her: Cormack Hunter.
Cormack Hunter is a Dragon himself, but he hides the fact. He is not sure why Kimberly has been sent to him, but he does not trust it. So he wants to learn more about her first, before he reveals himself. But when he puts Kimberly in danger from a dangerous Wyvern called Viper, he is very sorry and will have to work hard to earn her trust back.

I enjoyed this story a lot, the places that Cormac takes Kimberly, the things she learns and about the Others she does meet. How she helps a herd of Centaurs and protects their land from a nearby werewolf pack.
The more Kimberly learns about familiars, and how the bond work, the less she wants to do it. But she needs to be able to bind a familiar to be able to graduate. And her dreamjob in a Coven doesn't seem so good anymore either. She will have to re-evaluate what she wants and how to live her own life. Kimberly is not a weak heroine, she is strong, and so is her magic. She can fight her own battles. And Cormac, he is a dragon, he is handsome, arrogant and rich, he is good in battle, what more can you want? But being around Kimberly changes him as well, makes him rethink what he has taken for granted. He can't buy her and she won't take charity.
There are no sex-scenes, but there are a few hot kisses.

I want more, and can't wait for the next book in this series. There are a lot of series out there, but this one feels fresh and original to me.

9 stars.

Love this book

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 2 juni 2016

Jeffe Kennedy - Negotiation

The prequel novella to the Twelve Kingdoms series, published May 23, 2015.
Genre: fantasy romance
Cover: nice

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A wounded warrior trapped by the sorceress who knows him better than he does himself...
General Uorsin escapes the last devastating battle, only to find himself alone on a mountain, feverish and no closer to finding the paradise that drives him on. Salena, greatest shapeshifter and magic-worker of her people, springs the trap she's set to protect her land - and to prevent the ravager Uorsin from ever reaching it.
Together, they spend a night setting the terms that will determine not only the rest of their lives, but the fates of the peoples of the Twelve Kingdoms - and the thirteenth.

I haven't read the series yet, but I do want to. Reading this novella gave me a taste of Jeffe Kennedy's writing style, and I like it.
Salena is a witch, a shape shifter, a seer, and she belongs to the Tala. To keep her beloved country safe, she convinces Uorsin to marry her and she will make him High King of the Twelve Kingdoms. But not of the Thirteenth Kingdom, she will do anything she can to prevent him to ever see it …
Almost dying, Uorsin doesn't have much choice, but he won't be a loving husband, he warns her. He will be brutal and he will cheat, and he forbids her to teach her magic to their children … Salena knows the faith that awaits her at his hands, and she knows it will be horrible, but it is necessary…

Yes, I enjoyed it, and I think if you have read the series, you will enjoy this little prequel novella and the insight in those two people.

7 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 1 juni 2016

New books to look forward to for June 2016

This is the list of new releases for the month of June 2016 I am looking forward to:

Christine Feehan - Shadow Rider - Shadow 1
Darynda Jones - The curse of tenth grave - Charley Davidson 10 HC
Heather Graham - The Rising HC
Julie Hyzy - Grace sees red - Manor of Murder Mystery 7
Julie Hyzy - Grace cries Uncle - Manor of Murder Mystery 6 HC
Lorna Barrett - Title Wave - Booktown Mystery 10 HC
Maggie Sefton - Knit to be tied - Kelly Flynn mystery 14 HC
Maggie Sefton - Purl up and die - Kelly Flynn mystery 13
Nora Roberts – Bay of Sighs – Guardians 2
Sherrilyn Kenyon - Born of Legend - League 11 HC
Kresley Cole - Sweet Ruin - Immortals After Dark 16 PB
Laurell K. Hamilton - Crimson Death - Anita Blake 25 HC
Nalini Singh - Allegiance of Honor - Psy-Changelings 15 HC
Stephanie Laurens - The Daredevil Snared - Adventurers Quartet 3 PB

I have read a total of 13 books in May, which is really not much. I hope to do better this month.

Did I match my reading solutions for last month? Nope, not by a long shot!

I have read 0 cozy mysteries, although there is one in my purse at the moment.

4 new books longer than 1 year on my shelf:
Anthology - Strange Brew
J.R. Ward -The King
Jennifer Estep - Deadly Sting
Eileen Wilks - Mortal Sins

and I re-read Dragonsong and Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey again.

1 historical romance:
Suzanne Enoch - Mad, Bad and Dangerous in Plaid

0 Nora Roberts books.

© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 31 mei 2016

Recommendations from Karin for May 2016.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


This time I want to keep my recommendations a little short as I want to concentrate on two very different books with two very different unusual heroines.
First I want to concentrate on the last book in the “Survivior-Series” by Mary Balogh. It`s

“Only Beloved”

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When I first started reading this series I found that there were ups and downs. I did not like every single book in the series as I liked some others but I had always been fascinated by the character of George Crabbe, Duke of Stanbrooke. The reason why he started the “hospital” for the wounded soldieres and the lonely female in the Survivor’s Club was clearly defined and yet I felt there was something else. Being the sucker for HEAs that I am I wanted him to find his perfect companion despite him being advanced in years (at least for that time! – not nowadays of course!!!)

Balogh let him find that perfect heroine in Dora Debbins, the elderly spinster sister to Agnes, one of the other heroines. As I said she is an unusual heroine for a Regency Romance. She is a mature woman (she is almost forty), she does not rely on relatives to feed her. After her mother ran off with another man, Dora had raised her younger sister, putting behind dreams of a successful season in London. Her father married a second time and Dora left her home to carve out a life as a music teacher in a small village.

This peaceful (albeit very solitary) life is interrupted by the proposal of the Duke whom she has met only when he visited one of the members of the Survivors. Dora has admired the Duke, she thinks of that visit quite often and she accepts the proposal.

This book has everything a reader could want: there is the short development of deep affection between two adult and mature people to something that is definitely love on both sides. There are secrets of the past and deep emotional scars to overcome, there is a villain included who gets what he deserves and there is this wonderful epilogue (I’m a big fan of epilogues!!).
A highly recommended book – if necessary it can be read as a standalone but you would miss out on a really good series if you did that.

The second book with an unusual heroine for this month is

Impervious by Laura Kirwan

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Meaghan Keele is a lawyer closer to her fiftieth birthday than her fortieth. She is lonely, loses her job and on request of her brother who takes care of their father (said father suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease) she moves to the town of Eldrich.

Meaghan had a difficult relationship with her father: a lawyer as well, he started drinking heavily. Meaghan has totally cut the ties with her father and keeps occasional contact with her brother.

In the tiny town of Eldrich she finds out that things are not always what they seem. There is more between heaven and earth than the eye can conceive and Meaghan is so important for Eldrich because she is so much like her father: she is impervious to magic – and boy! there is a lot of magic in this book.

It’s a very well written story and I think I’m going to read the next two in the series pretty soon.
This is it for this month. Until we meet again next month: Happy Reading.

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Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! One day I will read some Mary Balogh books, I do have plenty of them!

© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 28 mei 2016

Susannah Sandlin - Wild Man's Curse

The first book in the Wilds of the Bayou series, published April 5, 2016.
Genre: romantic suspense with a hint of paranormal
Cover: good

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The bones said death was comin', and the bones never lied.
While on an early morning patrol in the swamps of Whiskey Bayou, Louisiana wildlife agent Gentry Broussard spots a man leaving the home of voodoo priestess Eva Savoie - a man who bears a startling resemblance to his brother, whom Gentry thought he had killed during a drug raid three years earlier. Shaken, the agent enters Eva's cabin and makes a bloody discovery: the old woman has been brutally murdered.
With no jurisdiction over the case, he's forced to leave the investigation to the local sheriff, until Eva's beautiful heir, Celestine, receives a series of gruesome threats. As Gentry's involvement deepens and more victims turn up, can he untangle the secrets behind Eva's murder and protect Celestine from the same fate? Or will an old family curse finally have its way?

I have been following Susannah Sandlin/Suzanne Johnson for a few years now, and I really enjoy her books. She has some different genres, urban fantasy, paranormal romance and paranormal romantic suspense. I think this is the best one she has written so far. I was totally immersed in the story, and I could not wait to find out how it would all work out.
I liked Celestine from the start, but the best part is the setting. The Louisiana bayou. Something totally foreign to me as an European, but Susannah describes it in such a vivid manner, that I could imagine being there, and seeing what was happening.

The book begins a bit mysterious, with an old lady throwing the bones, and seeing her death in them. And her death sure knocks on her door, in a horrible way. Celestine is completely down on her luck in Nashville, where she is trying to build a career as a singer, when she learns about her great aunt's murder, and her inheritage. Celestine has fond memories about the old lady and spending summers there, until her father found out that she was learning the old ways, and forbade her to go back. And now she has inherited the place. As she was to be evicted from her crappy apartment the next Monday, she decided to go home, at least she would have a roof over her head.

While cleaning up the murder scene herself is not easy, it has to be done before it attracts gators and worse. Then she meets Gentry Broussard, the wild life agent who discovered her aunts body, and he tells her what he found. There is this attraction between them, and neither of them knows how to handle that in the beginning. Gentry has some strange ideas about her being an "entertainer", until he hears her voice…

But the murderer was looking for something, and he is still after it. Can he scare Celestine away from the cabin, or will he have to kill her as well?

I really loved this book, the atmosphere was wonderfully described, and I liked both Celestine and Gentry. Celestine was down on her luck in the worst way, but she never took the easy way out, she did not give in to demands of sleazy men. Her only possession of worth is her guitar. I liked how she became friends with Gentry's female collegue, and there was also the fun part about Gentry's dog. Not the big vicious one most men in the bayou keep as a pet …
Gentry was born and raised in the bayou as well, and after a few years as an officer in the big city, he came back home. He has been a loner ever since, and I liked how Celestine persevered in getting under his skin and in his arms.

Real suspense, and nice love scenes. Great characters and a wonderful setting. Susannah, I want more!

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 27 mei 2016

Robin D. Owens - Lost Heart

The first Celta Novella, published April 16, 2016.
Genre: fantasy romance
Cover: does not fit the rest of the series

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Barton Clover, Chief of Security for his large and noble family, is deeply aware of his responsibilities. When two young relatives repudiate the family and later disappear, he's determined to find them and convince them to return. He has no time or inclination for love . . . but his family disapproves of his nothing-but-work life. They decree that he must visit a matchmaker or lose his position. Enata Licorice, a revered librarian, has been doing research in a mysterious records vault . . . and is finding odd blanks in her memory. Lonely, she yearns for a good husband and arranges a matchmaking session of her own. It's love at first sight for Barton and Enata, but both are crucial members of their families. Clans who practice opposite lifestyles. And both families demand the couple's time and attention, causing strife. While trying to resolve their issues, Barton discovers Enata's secret and they must work as a couple to resolve the puzzle that includes Barton's missing relatives -- if they dare. And if they fail, more than their own lives are lost.

Robin D. Owens has finally started self publishing short stories, and this is the first of them. I sure hope there will be many more, as I love everything Celta. Writing that, I had to admit I do have some issues with this novella. For one, the romance is incredibly fast. They are not heart mates, they are matched by Celta's premier matchmaker, T'Willow. Enata has an appointment, T'Willow scans her, and he knows immediately that she will be perfect for Barton Clover. So he calls Baron and his family into his office, to meet Enata. They fall in lust, or love, or whatever, and are married that same evening. That was waaayyyy to fast for me. No discussions of where to live, what they like, nothing personal. Half of the novella is filled with sex scene after sex scene, and I had a few times: enough already, get on with the story!
Because the storyline takes a very unexpected twist. Perhaps if I re-read the other books again, I might pick up on it, but I doubt it. It was a good twist, it was a nice journey, but when they found it, I would have like some more time in that place.

Of course, there are 2 fam animals, one very young kitten for Baron, and an exotic bird for Enata. Those parts are always fun to read about. I do wonder what will happen next with this particular story line.

More Celta books please!

6 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian