donderdag 31 oktober 2013

Rachel Caine – The Dead Girls’ Dance

The second book in the Morganville Vampires series, published April 3, 2007.
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Cover: Meh. My book has a prettier cover.

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Good news, girls: your dates are here!
Claire Danvers has had her share of challenges – like being a genius in a school that favours beauty over brains, dealing with the homicidal girls in her dorm and, above all, finding out that her college town is overrun with blood-sucking fiends. On the plus side, so far Claire and her friends have managed to survive getting on the wrong side of some Morganville VIP’s… Vampire Important Persons. But their temporary peace is in danger of collapsing, thanks to the arrival of her new boyfriend’s scary father and his vampire-fighting supporters.
Bad news, girls: they’re dead.

The second book in this series is just as strong as the first one, and continues where that one ended. Michael is killed by Shane’s father and his biker friends. They have come to Morganville to kill vampires, and avenge the death’s of his mother and little sister. But money cannot make murder right, especially when the guilty party is never punished. Crazy Monica set fire to Shane’s house after he slighted her, and his little sister died because of that. His mother went almost mad with grief, and that same grief lifted the memory block the vampires implanted when they ran. They killed her for that, but did not see that Shane’s memories were coming back as well. And now, when things looked so dire for them, Shane called in his father. But Shane doesn’t want revenge anymore, there are just too many vampires here, they are too powerful. Those details were forgotten while living outside of Morganville but once back, every memory was restored. They have to get rid of his father and his cronies, before the vampires will execute them all. Amelie’s protection will only go so far.

And so it is a race against the clock for Claire and her friends. First item, stay clear of Monica Morrel, the mayor’s daughter, and her even more insane friend Gina. They are truly homicidal maniacs, and they want to kill Claire. And everyone else who irritates them.

When Shane is arrested for killing a vampire (which he did not do) Claire is determined to gather the evidence to set him free, before the vampires will burn him to a crisp in two days. Won’t his own father rescue his son? She doesn’t know who to trust anymore, Oliver wants to own her body and soul and mind, and Amelie does not interfere even though she knows the truth. And who is this vampire named Sam? The youngest one in town? He is Michael’s grandfather, and Eve likes him, but can they trust him?

A fast paced second book in the series, Claire finds out she has fallen in love with Shane, and he seems to like her a lot too. But is there a chance for Michael and Eve as well? After all, Michael is not really alive anymore. I just know that Claire is going to regret saving Monica, I sure wish she had let her burn. Still, Monica’s brother Richard does not seem to be a bad cop after all, he knows his sister is mental and he does stand up a bit against his father.

I am very curious what will happen next. I like the worldbuilding and the writing style, and all the different characters Rachel Caine has created.

8 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 30 oktober 2013

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

Last Sunday my best friend Maia and I went bookshopping together. And we both came home with a big shopper full of books. This is my list. So tell me, please, which series do you think I should start reading first?

65 Secondhand Books, bought from Naomi
Anthology – Strange Brew
Anthology – Angels of Darkness
Anthology – Heart of Darkness
Anthology – On the Hunt
Anthology – First Blood
Toni Andrews – Angel of Mercy
Toni Andrews – Beg for Mercy
Toni Andrews – Cry Mercy
Sharon Ashwood – Ravenous
Sharon Ashwood – Scorched
Sharon Ashwood – Unchained
Philippa Ballantine - Geist
Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris – Phoenix Rising
Sonya Bateman – Master and Apprentice
Sonya Bateman – Master of None
Jess Battis – Night Child
Jenna Black – Dark Descendant
Jenna Black – Deadly Descendant
Jenna Black – Glimmerglass
Jenna Black – Hungers of the Heart
Jenna Black – Speak of the Devil
Jenna Black – Secrets in Shadows
Jenna Black – Shadows on the Souls
Jenna Black – The devil’s playground
Patricia Briggs – The Hob’s Bargain
Meljean Brook – Demon Angel
Carolyn Crane – Double Cross
Kady Cross – The Girl in the Steel Corset
Jennifer Estep – Karma Girl
Tate Hallaway – Dead if I do
Tate Hallaway – Romancing the Dead
Tate Hallaway – Tall, Dark & Dead
M.L.N. Hanover – Darker Angels
M.L.N. Hanover – Uncleen Spirits
Leanna Renee Hieber – The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker
Leanna Renee Hieber – The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker
J.F. Lewis – Crossed
J.F. Lewis – Staked
J.F. Lewis – Revamped
Erin McCarthy – Fallen
Erin McCarthy – My immortal
Erin McCarthy – Smart Mouth
Erin McCarthy – The Taking
Erin McCarthy – You don’t know Jack
T.A. Pratt – Broken Mirrors
T.A. Pratt – Dead Reign
T.A. Pratt – Spell Games
Kat Richardson – Labyrinth
Kat Richardson – Poltergeist
Kat Richardson – Underground
Kat Richardson - Vanished
Margaret Ronald – Soul Hunt
Margaret Ronald – Spiral Hunt
Margaret Ronald – Wild Hunt
Diana Rowland – Blood of the Demon
Diana Rowland – Mark of the Demon
Lisa Shearin – Armed and Magical
Lisa Shearin – Magic Lost, Trouble found
Thomas E. Sniegosky – A hundred words for hate
Thomas E. Sniegosky – A kiss before the apocalypse
Thomas E. Sniegosky – Dancing on the head of a pin
Thomas E. Sniegosky – Where angels fear to tread
Lucy A. Snyder - Spellbent
Eileen Wilks – Blood Lines
Eileen Wilks – Tempting Danger

For review:
Andria Buchanan – Evanescent
Andria Buchanan – Infinity

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 29 oktober 2013

Rachel Caine – Glass Houses

The first book in the Morganville Vampires series, published October 3, 2006.
Genre: Young Adult Urban Fantasy
Cover: different, nice.

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Welcome to Morganville, Texas. Don’t stat our after dark.
It’s a small college town with quirky characters. But when the sun goes down, the bad comes out. Because in Morganville, there is an evil that lurks in the darkest shadows – one that will spill out into the bright light of day.
Claire Danvers has had enough of her nightmarish dorm situation The popular girls never let her forget just where she ranks in the school's social scene: somewhere less than zero. And Claire really doesn’t have the right connections – to the undead who run the town.
When Claire heads off-campus, the imposing old house where she finds a room may not be much better. Her new roommates don't show many signs of life. But they'll have Claire's back when the town's deepest secrets come crawling out, hungry for fresh blood.

I have to admit I am very pleasantly surprised by the first book in this series. I am not that big a fan of YA, but this book grabbed me from the first pages, when Claire is almost being killed by the older dorm girls who hate her for being smart. Claire knows she needs to find someplace else to sleep tonight, or they will kill her. They are not kidding; Monica and Gwen are true sociopaths. She was very lucky to survive getting thrown down the stairs with only a sprained ankle and a lot of bruises.

Claire is some kind of prodigy, she is just 16, much younger than the other kids in college and the dorm, and she would have loved to go to one of the major colleges, and they would gladly have welcomed her, but her parents refused to let her leave the state, which is why she ended up at the “party” college of Morganville. Claire will just have to endure it for the next two years, until she is 18, and then she will transfer herself to one of the top colleges.

And so she finds herself looking through the ads for rooms for rent. The first one is gone already, the next few are too creepy, but one of the last advertisements seems perfect for her. The Glass House has three tenants, and is looking for a fourth. And at first she seems to be accepted, Eve and Shane seem to accept her, and take care of her, something she is not used to. But when Michael wakes up, he is against her as she is still a minor, and it is against the local laws. Still, she defies him, very uncharacteristic for Claire, and he relents when she explains about the bad girls at the dorm, who will kill her.

That evening Eve explains a bit about the town to Claire, who does so not believe her. A town run by vampires? Really? They pay taxes in blood in exchange for Protection?
But while making breakfast the next morning, the police knocks on their door, searching for Claire, she starts to believe it. Eve quickly hides her in a secret room behind the pantry, but Claire can make out some of their conversation.

When Claire finally tells them the name of her nemesis, they are appalled. A few years ago, Shane got on Monica’s bad side, and she burned down their house. He managed to escape, but his twelve year old sister did not. And with Monica being the mayor’s daughter, and their family Protected by one of the most powerful vampires in town, nobody did anything against her. Shane even left town, but he returned when his best friend Michael asked him to.

But something is not right with Michael, he is not a vampire, they tested that, but he is also never around in daylight, nor do they see him leave the house or come home. And that while he is a very gifted musician. He should be out there, playing his music. When Claire finds out the truth, he makes her promise not to tell the others. Especially Eve, who really likes Michael.

But when the vampires get too close, hunting Claire and the others who are all unprotected, they need to find something to bargain with, fast.

A very intriguing story, the vampires are not the good kind you want to have a relationship with. They treat humans as pets (the Protected families) or as cattle, the ones not protected, like the students who come to collegue from out of town. There is some kind of forcefield around the city, making you forget what is happening in Morganville when you leave.

I liked Claire, she is a bit of a nerd as she loves school and studying and science. But she does have a backbone when necessary, and she makes sure she herself and her new friends are safe. She does not stay meekly inside when the vampires are hunting her.

Eve, Shane and Michael are wonderful secondary characters, each with their own unique and not so happy background. And the bad girls are really bad, evil and conscienceless. They enjoy torturing those who are weaker than they are.

The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I will dive into the second book right away. Glass Houses is a very enjoyable first book in a long series, and I do look forward to reading the rest of it.

8 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 28 oktober 2013

Carolyn Crane – Mind Games

The first book in the Disillusionists Trilogy series, published March 23, 2010.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: strong, but the knife does not belong there.

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Justine Jones has a secret. A hardcore hypochondriac, she's convinced a blood vessel is about to burst in her brain. Then, out of the blue, a startlingly handsome man named Packard peers into Justine's soul and invites her to join his private crime-fighting team. It's a once-in-a-lifetime deal. With a little of Packard's hands-on training, Justine can weaponize her neurosis, turning it outward on Midcity's worst criminals, and finally get the freedom from fear she's always craved. End of problem.
Or is it? In Midcity, a dashing police chief is fighting a unique breed of outlaw with more than human powers. And while Justine's first missions, including one against a nymphomaniac husband-killer, are thrilling successes, there is more to Packard than meets the eye. Soon, while battling her attraction to two very different men, Justine is plunging deeper into a world of wizardry, eroticism, and cosmic secrets. With Packard's help, Justine has freed herself from her madness - only to discover a reality more frightening than anyone's worst fears.

I’ve won this book almost two years ago, on Smexy’s blog and was very excited about it. But the first time I tried it, I really did not like it. But then, I am a huge mood reader and I really dislike medical things. I’ve picked it up again a few days ago, and this time, I was captivated by this strange and unique story.

Justine is a very unusual heroine, totally absorbed with the fact that she is dying of star vein syndrome, like her mother. Constantly alert the little pricks and pains associated as symptoms and running of to the ER for a CAT scan. Her boyfriend Cubby is getting tired and fed up with it. He thinks it is all between her ears, and she should get over it (of course he is right, and Justine knows it, but as a true hypochondriac, she can’t help herself).
And then suddenly, there is this strange but attractive man in the Mongolian restaurant they are having dinner at, that tells Justine he understands what she is going through, and he can help her get rid of it, be normal for real. Justine doesn’t believe him, but still, she wants to know what he is talking about, and goes back to the restaurant the next day.

This man, Packard, tells her he can teach her to zap her anxiety and fear into someone else, and be free from it, but only for a little while. And he can take it, that is his special power. He continues to tell her the most outrageous story, that he and a bunch of people like her, but with different fears and anxieties, are using their power for good. They disillusion evil people, criminals, kind of reboot their minds, and turn them good. And she can help them, as he has been searching for someone just like her for a long time. Justine doesn’t really believe him, but when Packard teaches her how to “zing” him, it works, and she feels so wonderfully light and free and normal, it is amazing. She refuses to join up though, and leaves the restaurant.

But the feeling doesn’t last, and a month later, she is desperate to get rid of her fears again, after a round of ER rooms and CAT scans. And when Packard introduces her to some of his other “minions”, Justine reluctantly agrees to help them. Packard wants her to quit her job, he will pay for her training and her work, and much more than she normally makes. But she has to keep quiet about her new job “in security” and is not allowed to tell her boyfriend about it. Besides, who would believe her?

Still, Justine struggles with the morality of it all, who are they to decide these people deserve to be disillusioned? To be changed? But the evidence provided to her, makes her agree to her first two targets. A woman who has killed her husband in a most horrible manner, and who has escaped justice. A man who is a serial killer and rapist. Both are secret hypochondriacs, and when Justine zings them with her own anxiety, their fear goes through the roof, and they are easy targets for her collegues to work on further.

Justine has admired Police Chief Otto Sanchez for a long time now, he really makes an effort fighting crime. Like the highcap telekinesist, who kills random people by slinging bricks. And now he is her third target, and she doesn’t believe that he is evil. Justine doesn’t have a choice, she has become dependent on Packard for her sanity, and she cannot refuse him. But when she gets closer to Sanchez, she can’t go on with it. Who is she to believe, Otto? Or Packard? She is attracted to both of them, for different reasons, but Packard lied to her and deceived her, effectively taking away her free will and enslaving her to do his bidding.

This story sure is strange, original, captivating. It is told in first POV, by Justine, and I have to tell you, I am so happy I am not afraid of getting all kinds of diseases. If you are, I don’t think you should read this book, although I have no idea if vein star syndrome is real. Or any of the other scary thinks mentioned. And no, I have no intention of googling them, I don’t want to know.
I liked Justine, she was so happy to be free, to be “normal”, without the constant fear of dying. But she was also thinking things through, morally speaking. Packard really had to convince her to do a job. But Justine gets trapped between the two enemies, Packard and Sanchez, and doesn’t know who to believe anymore. And I have to admit, I don’t know either. I also don’t know who she will end up with. She had to break up with her boyfriend Cubby, she just could not involve him in her dangerous new life, especially after the Silver Widow got her claws in him.
Justine is just a human being with a lot of flaws, and certainly not kick ass or with sudden super powers. She tries to do what is just and good, but she also wants to live.

Yes, I liked this book, and I certainly want to read the rest of the series.

8 stars.

I won this book on a blog

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 27 oktober 2013

Laura Childs – Postcards from the Dead

The tenth book in the Scrapbooking Mysteries series, published October 2, 2012.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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New Orleans is in the throes of another fantastic Mardi Gras celebration when the party gets crashed by a murderer. Now a scrapbooking sleuth is going to have to stop the partying to catch the killer...

There's a parade rolling through the historic French Quarter, with gigantic floats, silver beads, and dizzying lights - and Kimber Breeze of KBEZ-TV is broadcasting live from a small balcony on the fourth floor of the Hotel Tremain, interviewing locals and capturing the spectacle down below. Her next subject will be Carmela Bertrand, owner of Memory Mine scrapbooking shop. Carmela has never been a fan of Kimber, but she isn't about to turn down the chance of good publicity for her shop.
But before Carmela's shop gets its five minutes of fame, a killer slips onto the balcony and strangles Kimber with a cord, leaving her body dangling above the parade. Carmela is horrified, but she quickly discovers the nightmare isn't over. Because someone is now leaving strange postcards at Carmela's shop - signed by the dead Kimber. Now Carmela and her friend Ava will have to risk their own necks to find out who's posing as a ghost - and to expose a killer...

I am such a big fan of Laura Childs’ work, she was one of the first cozy mystery authors I started to read, and her books never disappoint me. She is a master at painting the scene, the atmosphere, and of course her characters. This series is placed in New Orleans, and the city itself is a big secondary character. I love it.

Mardi Gras is in full swing in New Orleans, and KBEZ-TV is broadcasting live. Carmela Bertrand is waiting to be interviewed for the program in the ballroom of Hotel Tremain, with about 50 other partying people. If she knew it was Kimber doing the interviewing, she might not have done this, but some free advertising for her scrapbooking shop, is never something to decline. While waiting for her turn, Carmela and her best friend Ava are cozying up to the cameraman, who is working from a distance this time, as the balcony is almost two small for two people, let alone with all the equipment he handles. But when something suspicious happens on screen for a second, it is Carmela who rushes out to Kimber, only to find her missing at first glance, and then hanging by a cable from the balcony. Some revellers in the street below have seen her, and start screaming. It is not a pretty sight, and Carmela wishes she could unsee it. But where did the killer go so fast? Did he jump to the next balcony, or up the fire escape to the roof? Then hotel security storms into the room, and on the balcony, and finally the people inside start noticing that something dreadful has happened, and they panic and start leaving the room. Carmela knows this is bad, they are potential witnesses, and they need to stay here, but there is nothing she can do about it. And so when the police arrives, there is almost no one left to question.

Carmela’s boyfriend and police detective Edgar Babcock is the second officer at the scene, and he is not pleased at all to find Carmela there. He knows she did not get along with Kimber, who has tried to frame her before.

Of course Carmela cannot help herself, she needs to investigate this murder, of which she was almost an eye witness, even though Babcock warns her off. She has to, what if it was her ex-husband’s best friend? Who was the last to be interviewed by Kimber. And who is leaving those spooky postcards for her to find? Like Kimber is sending messages from beyond the grave to Carmela to solve her murder? She does not really want to tell Babcock about them, but her shop assistant Gabby is smarter and does so anyway.

There are suspects galore, as Kimber was not a nice person, and she had started research for some criminal investigations. Like her own brother, who desperately needs money to keep his alligator farm going, and Kimber was not known for helping others. And what about the creepy new neighbour, Joubert, who is the owner of the Oddities shop next door?

I love this series a lot, mostly because of the vivid descriptions of New Orleans, the food they eat, the parties and restaurants Carmela and Ava visit. Like they are never home, or at work for that matter. Carmela has a scrapbooking shop, she is a designer by trade, and does a lot of workshops and fun projects. Of course her shop assistant Gabby is very competent, but she really is gone a lot.
Ava runs a voodoo shop, and is always at Carmela’s side when investigating. Dressed to the sexy nines, always looking for the next man to have fun with. Carmela is more quiet than Ava, but she still joins in the fun. She keeps running into her ex-husband Shamus a lot, and his horrible sister Glory. Carmela enjoys her little apartment and her quiet life, instead of the huge mansion in the Garden District they used to live in. It is the one thing she got out of the divorce settlement from Shamus, and now she is ready to put it up for sale. Her good friend Jekyl Hardy, who is an antiques dealer, interior decorator and a superb designer of Mardi Gras fleets, helps her with the photo’s.

I really think I enjoy this series more for the atmosphere of New Orleans, than the mystery part. I feel like I know the way around there, without ever having set foot in New Orleans (or America) myself. Yes, New Orleans still suffers from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but some parts a bit less than others. Both Carmela and Ava are just full of life, and they enjoy themselves with good food and wine, and parties. Although Carmela enjoys a quiet evening with her dogs too, it is not often that Ava lets her be. It is just fun to read, and entertaining.

And yes, the mystery was a good one, although I did solve it a few chapters before Carmela did.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 26 oktober 2013

Victoria Hamilton – Bran new death

The first book in the Merry Muffin Mystery series, published September 3, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery (with recipes)
Cover: sweet

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Expert muffin baker Merry Wynter is finally ready to turn her passion into a career. But when a dead body is found on her property, she's more worried about cooking up an alibi…

Merry is making a fresh start in small-town Autumn Vale, New York, in the castle she's inherited from her late uncle, Melvin. The house is run down and someone has been digging giant holes on the grounds, but with its restaurant-quality kitchen, the place has potential for her new baking business. She even has her first client—the local retirement home.
Unfortunately, Merry soon finds that quite a few townsfolk didn't like Uncle Mel, and she has inherited their enmity as well as his home. Local baker Binny Turner and her crazy brother, Tom, blame Melvin for their father's death, and Tom may be the one vandalizing her land. But when Tom turns up dead in one of the holes in her yard, Merry needs to prove she had nothing to do with his death—or her new muffin-making career may crumble before it starts...

I have read the first two books in the Vintage Kitchen Mystery series, and when Victoria Hamilton announced this new series, I wanted to read it as well. Who would not love to inherit a real castle? Even though it is in America instead of the usual Scotland ;)

Merry is 39 years young, and down on her luck after being accused of stealing in her last job. This was disastrous for her reputation in New York’s fashion industry. She inherited a castle with all it entails from her uncle Melvin, a man she hardly new existed. And in the months it has been for sale, no one has been interested in it. So she is now finally ready to move to Autumn Vale, and check it out herself. What has to be done in order to sell it, as she sure can’t afford to keep it herself.

Her first encounter with the citizens of Autumn Vale, where Wynter Castle is located, is not so positive though. The sheriff escorts her to her castle, as her navigation device is completely lost her in upstate New York. And to her horror, there are giant holes dug in the lawn and land surrounding the castle. No wonder no one wants to buy it! Who has done this, and why? Lucky for her, her local real estate agent has heard through the local grape vine that she has arrived, and he appears at once on her doorstep. McGill, she just can’t call him Jack, offers to fill in the holes for her, for a nominal fee, and Merry gladly accepts his offer. She understands that times are tough in this small town, a lot of the store fronts were boarded up.

And when McGill shows her around the castle, she can see the potential of the place, the beauty of it beneath the neglect. If only she had enough funds to do what she wanted …

But first she calls her best friend, explaining where she went and why. And before Merry knows it, Shilo has taken her up on her offer of coming over for a visit, with the intention to stay. Of course, the castle is large enough, and two bedrooms and a bathroom are quickly made inhabitable. Merry is very glad that Shilo has joined her, as she was feeling lonely in the big castle already.

But then the bad things start happening, the man Merry was convinced was ruining her property, is found dead in the latest hole he was digging, and Merry stupidly enough touched the murder weapon. What is going on in this small town? Was her uncle murdered as some one wants her to find out? Or was it really an accident, an old man in an old car on a frosty road? And his business partner and the man he was involved in a lawsuit with, Rusty, is he dead, murdered by her uncle Melvin as some think, or did he just leave town?

Merry makes some friends; she really has a weakness for strange characters, perhaps thanks to her own unconventional mother. But the more she digs into the mystery, the more dangerous it becomes. Until she literally stumbles upon the answer in her own woods …

I enjoyed this book, even though I did not have much reading time and had to be content with reading a few chapters here and there. The mystery was intriguing, and there is a small setup for the next book. But it was Merry who captured my interest from the start. Perhaps because she is more my age than most heroines in cozy mysteries. She is mature, and she has learned from her mistakes. She is also still grieving her husband, although he has died in an accident 7 years ago. Merry is a little bit interested in the handsome local sheriff, and she likes his mother a lot, but I don’t think there will be a romance blossoming any time soon.

I liked the fun accent Shilo provided to the story, her being there for Merry, but also going her own way, falling in love with McGill.

I will definitely read the next book.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 25 oktober 2013

Recommendations from Karin October 2013.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked my friend Karin from Austria to tell about the books she has read this month, and to give us a recommendation each month.


I have read 6 new books in the past month, and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Single Wolf Female by Jessica Simms

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2. Bare it All by Lori Foster

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3. A Modern Witch by Debora Geary

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I wasn’t very lucky this month with reading new books. The ones I mentioned above were really nice but that’s about all I can say about them. They are all part of different series, but I didn’t feel like I had to read the other books immediately. So, after thinking long and hard about what I would really like to recommend to Aurian’s followers on the blog, I came up with a book that hasn’t been published yet (but which I really enjoyed). I’m talking about

Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

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This is actually a free serial story that you will find on Ilona Andrew’s website. They are planning to publish it as an ebook around Christmas but you may feel free to head over and read the different chapters. It was a fun project for the couple. They published a chapter or a part of a chapter every other week or so on their website and I have to tell you that I was disappointed if I didn’t find a new chapter by Friday.

The story is about Dina, a young innkeeper. Her inn, the Gertude Hunt Bed and Breakfast, is magic, it is a living, breathing entity. It offers a save haven for creatures from all realms (and as it turns out there are lots of realms). Dina is closely connected to the inn that is in her care.
The characters include a yummy werewolf, several vampires who look even more yummy than Sean, the werewolf, and a monster that attacks randomly.
Dina is drawn into the political machinations among the vampires, she has to fight for her life (with a broom of all things), there may or may not be a love interest – well, it’s all there to make up a good book.

You may find it a bit annoying to go back and forth between the chapters on the website, but believe me it’s worth the effort. Myself, I hope that the book will be sold as a Kindle edition because I will definitely buy it.

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin, I will definitely check out Clean Sweep as I love Ilona Andrews’ books. I haven’t read any of the other books you read either, adding them to my wishlist.

How about you, readers? Did you follow Clean Sweep? Are you going to read it now? You can find it here

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 24 oktober 2013

ARC review: Jenn Bennett – Bitter Spirits

The first book in the Bitter Spirits series, to be published January 7, 2014.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: love it

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It's the roaring twenties, and San Francisco is a hotbed of illegal boozing, raw lust, and black magic. The fog-covered Bay Area can be an intoxicating scene, particularly when you specialize in spirits…

Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown's illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.
Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who's more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he's the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida's supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her...
On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise…

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, a turbulent period of time. Where alcohol is prohibited by the government, but of course it flows even more abundant now it is illegal. Lots of people are making a decent to great living out of it, from brewing it, to smuggling it into the country and to selling it in the hotels and nightclubs all over the country. But this story takes place in San Francisco.

Aida Palmer is a spirit medium, and a real one at that. Her abilities are not a scam, and she is becoming successful. She has a nice gig at the nightclub/speakeasy Gris-Gris, and a nice apartment in Chinatown, over a Chinese restaurant. The book starts when Aida is asked to come in immediately on her night of by the owner, Velma Toussaint. Aida really likes Velma, who has powers of her own. She is a sorceress, and practices hoodoo. She is also a very successful business owner.

As it happens, one of the towns top three bootleggers has stumbled into the club, asking Velma for help. He has been cursed by a stranger, and been poisoned, and now suddenly he is seeing ghosts, they even follow him around. So while Velma starts preparing a very nasty antidote when she has finally found out what the poison and the curse are, Aida needs to take care of the ghost of the dead prostitute. Winter Magnusson is a bit delirious from the poison, but he takes an immediate interest in Aida, as she is freckled all over, and he just has a fondness for that. And Aida in turn is taken by this giant of a man as well, hardly noticing the scar on his face. Especially when Winter has to take an ice bath, and she sees him naked, hold up by his aide and one of the clubs’ bouncers. Aida is not a shy virgin, but she is also not used to so much naked manly splendour.

After the cure, Winter still needs Aida’s help with the ghost in his office, and to find out who cursed him, and why. His own man, Bo, is send into Chinatown to find out who could be behind the attack, perhaps one of the tongs want to take over his share of the bootlegging action, but they are usually more openly attacking. And he has a good working relationship with most of the tongleaders.

And so Winter and Aida start working together to find out what happens, both are attracted to the other, and both are afraid to act upon it. Winter thinks his scars are a deterrent, and Aida has been warned away from love and relationships by her dead brother. Aida also doesn’t want to risk her career by becoming Winter’s mistress, but a short affair would be all right. Winter wants more, but after his disastrous first marriage, he is not willing to take that plunge again. The attacks are increasing, and not only Winter is the target, so is Aida, when her room is burned down with her inside, drugged with laudanum…

This book is amazing, I was glued to the pages, not wanting to go to bed, I just had to know what would happen on the next page. And so, instead of reading just a few chapters on a Sunday evening, I stayed up way too late to finish the book. It is that good.

I loved Aida for her resourcefulness, and her independence. She has built a career for herself, after losing everyone she loved time and again. Now she is all alone but she doesn’t give up. Aida lives in the moment, but she does safe and plan for the future. Having an affair with Winter is everything she ever wanted from a man and more, but she just can’t give up her career. What if he gets tired of her?
Winter is not used to a woman who wants nothing from him, but himself. She is not desperate for money or companionship, she just likes him for who he is. And he never thought he would like talking with her out of bed either, but he does. After the accident that scarred him and killed his parents and wife, he has become very careful and protective of his younger sister. His mistakes haunt him still, but Aida helps him see the truth behind him, and helps him to relax.

The romance was slow but went to truly sizzling when they became lovers, but the plot itself, the storytelling, the world building, that was what kept my interest so high. The secondary characters, the intrigue, the world of Chinatown and the tongs, bootlegging, it all was fascinating to read about it. Yes, there was violence and murder and real tidbids of history. There are actionscenes and humor and lovescenes and ghosts, all interwoven into one great story.
I can keep gushing an hour longer I guess, but I will just tell you to buy the book! I can’t believe you will be disappointed in it. I for one can’t wait for the next book to be written, but I know it will be a very long wait as I read this one so early.

And for all you zombie lovers out there, it has some kind of zombie as well ;)

10 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 23 oktober 2013

Sierra Dean – Secret Unleashed

The sixth book in the Secret McQueen series, published October 15, 2013.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: It is the same model every time. I like her, she looks kick ass.

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The darkest secrets are the hardest to unearth.

Secret McQueen, Book 6

After her last mission tested the limits of her humanity and took her out of this world, Secret's friends, determined to keep her safe from her old nemesis Alexandre Peyton, keep ushering her from one babysitter to the next.
Couch surfing would be a lot more fun if Alexandre would let up on her long enough to allow her to get in some alone time with her lovers. Including Holden, her self-appointed shadow.
As if living out of coffin isn't bad enough, Secret literally brings down the house while hunting a rogue, causing the council to exile her from New York - for her own safety, of course.
With her list of people to trust getting shorter and shorter, Secret ends up embroiled in a mystery to find a vampire warden gone AWOL and a missing artifact. Things go from bad to worse when she falls into the hands of a man who will prove that humans can be the worst monsters of them all.
Warning: Contains a cross-country journey, an unexpected family reunion, heated lovers' embraces and a hell of a lot of trouble.

It is very hard for me to write a coherent review about this book, without spoiling anything, so be warned, skip this review if you want to be surprised by it.

After the sad events in the previous book, the one vampire who hates Secret McQueen, Vampire Tribunal and Werewolf Queen, the most, has escaped his prison. He has also evaded being taken captive again for weeks now, and for her own safety, Secret is forbidden to return to her own small apartment. Being shuffled from friend to friend, not being allowed to go outside on her own, being escorted by one of her friends/lovers, is stifling. Secret’s dual nature makes her want to hunt, but she is protected from all the “fun”. Until she goes to her friend Shane’s house and meets his new girlfriend there. Shane needs their help in defeating Grendel, a notorious and gigantic vampire rogue. But it is all an elaborate setup, and Secret almost dies when the building blows up.
Sig, the Vampire Tribunal leader, has had enough, and sends her to San Francisco, to Hollywood, to help him out with one of his prodigy who is apparently behaving badly. If the man has gone rogue as the Tribunal over there thinks, Secret will have to deal with him. Secret doesn’t want to go, she does not want to leave her werewolf boyfriend Desmond behind, but she has no choice. She cannot possible arrive there with a werewolf in tow; it would destroy all her credit and the respect due to her rank. And so with only Holden with her, and Sig’s own personal daytime servant Helga (who seems to hate Secret more each day) they take a plane where the vampires will have to ride in the cargo hold. Secret is not pleased or amused by this, she hates small places, but she has no choice at all in the matter. It has been decided for her.

When Secret finds out what Sig has neglected to tell her about the missing vampire, she is livid. He made a fool out of her in front of the other Tribunals, he should have told her. And as the missing vampire is his progeny, where does that leave her? What is their bond? The attraction she is feeling beneath the terror, has suddenly turned very icky.
Secret also finds out that the Tribunal is lying to her, about the artefact they want retrieved, but she wants to find the missing vampire, it has become very personal for her now. And when they follow his trail, and Secret connects with him in his dreams, she does not heed the warning, and will regret that very, very much.

Sutherland has been taken captive by a human monster, who is determined to find out how vampires and werewolves and the likes work. And with Secret, he has a new type of specimen to dissect …

What a great story, action packed and with lots of twists and turns. I really felt for Secret, what happened to her was truly horrible, but she came out of it stronger. She has finally accepted herself for what she is, and that is not human. Secret takes a stand, even against Sig and the other Tribunal, and I admire her for that. But wow, what a lot of surprises in this book. And pain.

As for Secrets’ love interests, I already loathe and hate her werewolf King, Lucas. I hope he dies a horrible and painful death in the next book, as it did not happen in this one. I think Desmond is showing some more potential now, some more backbone, and I like that in him. But Holden truly loves her, he has seen her grown from a young girl in the woman she is today. And I have to admit, after this story, I have given up my preference for Sig. He is still intriguing and dangerous and he cares about Secret, but not in the right way. So, since Holden and Desmond have made some kind of truce, I do hope Secret will be happy for a while. After all, her vampire half wants Holden, and her wolf thinks of Desmond as her mate. But don’t think Secret is some kind of Anita Blake character (whom I love too), she only sleeps with one of her men in this book.

I really can’t wait to find out what will happen to Secret next. Of course her nemesis is still on the run, but with this new human development in the story, everything is possible. I love it.

Sierra Dean is a great author to have the series still so fresh and fun and intriguing after 6 books. I like her main characters, and the secondary characters are well fleshed out too. The evil is not in their looks but in their deeds, and sometimes there are just shades of grey between good and evil. The worldbuilding just got more interesting too, and her sense of humor and sarcasm is just what I like in a book. Heartily recommend to all lovers of this genre.

Although I did miss visiting with Calliope in this book, I really like her.

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 22 oktober 2013

Thea Harrison – The Wicked

A novella in the Elder Races series, published July 2, 2013.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: I like the owl, not the man

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The adventure of a lifetime might just end in turmoil, but when it includes meeting your future mate, who gives a hoot?

For a librarian with a focus on rare magic books, Olivia's new job is a dream come true. She has been hired as part of a team to help manage the safe transportation of the collection of books owned by the Vampyre sorceress Carling Severan. The fact that the library is located on a mysterious island in an Other land only heightens the adventure.
Head of security for the expedition, Sebastian Hale is tired of his rootless life of adventure and finds himself attracted to the calm, beautiful librarian. But he is living a personal nightmare. He has been hit with a curse that is slowly taking away his sight, and he doesn't know if he will survive the results.
But the powerful feelings growing between them, along with Sebastian's inner turmoil, take a backseat when they learn there is a traitor lurking among their expedition team. With Elder Races politics and a priceless library on the line, they'll have to rely on each other to survive the experience.

Warning: When a librarian who likes to nest meets an owl Wyr who has always lived for adventure, their romance won't just be fly-by-night...

Olivia is a human, and a witch. She loves her work at the library, handling all kinds of dangerous magical books. But she thinks her life is a bit boring. She hasn’t had a serious relationship, and she is in her thirties. Although she loves children, raising one on her own is not appealing to her. She loves her best friend Grace’s niece and nephew a lot, even though they are a handful. But Grace, the Oracle, and her lover Khalil manage them fine.

Olivia is about to start a new and exciting job. The Council has allowed the most ancient vampire of them all, Carling, to retrieve her library from her hidden Island. Her progeny and the new vampire King has banished Carling from his lands, and he wanted to get his hands on her library himself. Carling has permission for 8 people to travel through the underwater passage to the Island, and have them pack up her library. Security is entrusted to Sebastian Hale and his company, as he is the best there is. Sebastian is an Owl Wyr, but he does not belong to Dragos in any way. He is independent, and his firm is located on Jamaica. Sebastian is over 200 years old, and Owl shifters average 250 years. He is bored with his life, his existence and has been for some time. This is perhaps the cause of the curse that is laid upon him, a curse without a cure for so far anyone knows.
He is even bored with this exciting new job, until he sees a small woman appear in the meeting room, brought by a Djinn. And she has the temerity to call the Djinn in question a dimwit for forgetting to bring her luggage.

Olivia hates being the center of intention and is certainly not happy that Phaedra just took her up and brought her here. She could have taken a cab. But at the same time, she cannot take her eyes of the big man standing next to Carling. Olivia has no idea what is happening to her, she has never been this interested in a man this quick and this much! She really needs to focus on what Carling is telling them all.

A four man security team will take care of the three librarians / symbologists, and Phaedra will be guarding the underwater entrance to the Other Island. It will take them several weeks to pack up everything in Carling’s library, and they will be living in her house, living on the food still available at the island and what they can bring with them.
Olivia does not really like Steve, the third member of their team, and Dendera, who is their head librarian and symbologist, is kind but aloof and distant.

David does not let them leave without a fight though, and Olivia turns to Sebastian to protect her from David’s seductive vampire ways. She really hates feeling so drawn to this man, when she knows it is totally fake. And Sebastian goes all territorial over her, how dare David use his vampire lures on her? She is his to protect! Luckily, Phaedra comes to the rescue, but David still gets to search the ship, or else he will keep the other crewmembers on shore until Carling’s deadline of retrieving her library has gone. Sebastian has no choice but to give in. But he will keep Olivia safe from harm!

Finally on the Island, Sebastian and Olivia soon give in to their mutual attraction. They open up to each other like old friends, like they have never done to any other person. And Olivia just knows that Grace can help him fight the curse laid upon him. But first, they will have to survive this job …

I am a big fan of Thea Harrison, and I had almost forgotten about this novella. But I am glad I remembered it, as I really liked this one. It is somehow continuing the ongoing story, but also completely new with new characters to like and enjoy. I am intrigued by Sebastian, who is Wyr but does not belong to Dragos. Sebastian is a real alpha male, looking out for his employees and friends, and now for Olivia. He tries to tell her what will happen with them, but Olivia is not a doormat, and does not let him get away with it. She lays down her own rules for him, and what she wants out of their relationship.
I enjoyed how much she loves her job, and how she cares about her friends.

Of course, having this little glimpse into the lives of Khalil and Grace is fun too.

A very nice novella, to tie you over between two full length books. A must read for fans of the series.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 21 oktober 2013

Yasmine Galenorn – Autumn Whispers

Book 14 in the Otherworld / Sisters of the Moon series, published September 24, 2013.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: strong

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We're the D'Artigo sisters: savvy half-human, half-Fae ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. My sister Menolly is a vampire married to a wildly hot werepuma. And me? I'm Delilah, a two-faced werecat and Death Maiden. The Supe Community is in danger, and now it's up to us to unravel a mystery to which we may not want the answers…

When two vampiric software engineers approach us about a missing colleague, we don't expect to find much. But then Grandmother Coyote steps in and our simple missing persons case rapidly devolves into a nightmare of debauchery, slavery, and corporate greed. Now, we must infiltrate and destroy an underground organization of influential men, led by the mysterious Lowestar Radcliff, before they discover we're on to them. But one misstep puts our whole operation and our lives in peril, and I must unleash my powers as a Death Maiden, even if it means destroying someone I love.

This book has Delilah as the narrator again, the middle sister, the cat shifter / Death Maiden. Delilah has been training as a Death Maiden hard lately, and she is ready to go out on her own, and harvest those souls that are forfeited. If they are evil, they will be “recycled”, but if they have died a hero, they will be escorted to the light.

The quiet times are over, Iris is having her twins, and the girls are needed everywhere else. The Wayfarer is torched, resulting in 8 casualties and Menolly has a very hard time to deal with the loss and responsibility. Delilah gets bitten by a nasty kind of Elder Fae and they barely manage to safe her. This of course means they will have to hunt the nest down and kill them all, before more innocent people are murdered. They need Ivana the Maiden of Karask to tell them how to do this, and how and possible where to find them. I have to admit, I really like her character.
Grandmother Coyote also gives them an assignment which turns out to be extremely dangerous, but their old friend Carter the demigod can give them some valuable information on the building and its owners and history. They might have fallen into something really nasty, and perhaps to big for them to handle with their friends and lovers. But Carter also has some surprising news for them for their private lives, very intriguing.

And then Elqaneve falls, and the war has come to Otherworld for real. Death and destruction reign, and the girls lose some people very close to them. Can the forces of good really win against the massive power of the sorcerers and their allies? The sisters can’t stay and fight, they are needed to continue their fight Earthside. If Shadowwing collects all the spirit seals, Earth as we know it will be lost forever…

I really love this series, but this book is not one of the best. Most of the books have a finished ending, a minor plot is solved, while the overall story arc continues. In this book, nothing really is accomplished, and I was surprised that the book had ended where it did, leaving all the threads hanging.
Of course I love following the three sisters on their quest and adventures, and see them grow and evolve in their private lives through all the pain and hardship they face and endure. My favourite is still the sexy Moonwitch/priestess Camille, and her three gorgeous husbands. Camille with her half dragon fiancĂ©e and their third, the Autumn Lord himself and Menolly, the vampire with her vampire Prince lover/escort and her puma shifter wife are a tie. They are half Fae, and the Fae just are not monogamous. So don’t think the sisters are screwing around as they like, because they don’t. They are polyamorous, and their lifestyle fits them.

Yasmine Galenorn sure can write characters you cannot help but fall for. This series is a lot darker than most Urban Fantasy I read, and I have loved it from the very first book. I never know where the plot is headed, what they will have to endure and solve this time. I do really like the originality of switching point of view in each book to the next sister, making her the one in charge for that part of the story.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian