vrijdag 31 januari 2014

Joanne Fluke – Red Velvet Cupcake Murder

Book 17 in the Hannah Swensen series, published January 26, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery with recipes
Cover: the real book is a very pretty shiny metallic red

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This summer has been warmer than usual in Lake Eden, Minnesota, and Hannah Swensen is trying to beat the heat both in and out of her bakery kitchen. But she's about to find out the hard way that nothing cools off a hot summer day like cold-blooded murder...

It is still spring in Lake Eden, but it is already hotter than their usual summer. The bad news is that Doctor Bev is back in town, as the fiancée of one of the richest local man, Roger Dalworth. And after the trouble and pain she caused last time, nobody is happy to see her again, least of all Hannah Swensen and her boyfriend Norman. She tried to con Norman into marriage last time, and only Hannah and her sisters’ sleuthing got him out of it.

Roger Dalworth has turned the old Albion Hotel into an apartment complex, and Andrea, Hannah’s second sister, is the realtor who will have to sell them all. But the penthouse especially will be way beyond the budget of most Lake Eden citizens. Andrea invites Hannah to come with her and inspect the apartments, and of course tries to convince Hannah to “upgrade” her own condo with one of those new ones. But Hannah likes where she lives, so she politely declines. Only the penthouse roofgarden is not yet completed, the huge glass dome has not arrived yet, and it is not safe to get too close to the edge of the roof.

There will be a big catered party that night, to pitch the apartments to possible interested home owners, and Hannah has been contracted to provide dessert, a few hundred Red Velvet Cupcakes. So Lisa and Hannah have been busy baking them, but not ordinary Red Velvet Cupcakes, these have a surprise in the middle. And they are a huge success.

Then somebody falls from the rooftop all the way down, and that means the end of the party. But did Barbara really just fall off when she tried to see her house from up there, or did somebody push her? Mike, Hannah’s second boyfriend, and Bill, Andrea’s husband and the chief of police, start the investigation. Barbara does have some severe injuries, but she will make it. She can’t tell what happened though, as she has some brain damage due to the concussion. She keeps telling her brother tried to kill her, and is still trying, but she doesn’t have a brother as far as anyone knows…

Then Dr. Bev ends up dead in Eden Lake, and Hannah is the one to find her. When trying to resuscitate her is useless, Hannah calls the cops, not thinking for a moment she will become the prime murder suspect. Everyone knows that Hannah sure had the motive to kill Dr. Bev…. Mike is acting very cold and formal, and Hannah feels it as a betrayal, but the next day he begs for her understanding, and her help in clearing her own name. He will share with her what he can.

Another good story in this long running cozy mystery series. After every chapter there are some delicious recipes for cookies and such. But o, how I wish that Hannah would choose between Norman and Mike, who both want to marry her. Norman might be a little boring, but he loves her to pieces, and Mike is dashing and handsome but he has a roving eye. And more. She really should choose Norman, or put them both out of their misery, and me with it. Yes, a love triangle, though I don’t think Hannah is sleeping with either of them.

The mystery part was good, although I have to admit I did guess about the who and why of the brother. The murderer of Dr. Bev was kept secret a bit longer, but of course it had to be connected.

I do love this series, and have for quite a few years now. Joanne Fluke has a nice flowing writing style, and I want more and more, I just need to find out what happens with Hannah and her sisters and her mother. In the beginning, I really disliked their mother, Delores, but she has grown on me and she really is changing thanks to the influence of Dr. Knight. Not only the mysteries are good and worth discovering, but their private lives and friendships and everything are so much fun to read about. And yes, I admit, I am glad that Dr. Bev is dead now. But what will happen to her little daughter now?

Another great secondary character is of course Moishe, Hannah’s enormous cat. Lisa, Hannah’s partner in her cookie shop is a sweet girl, and she is always prepared to take over when Hannah has to go out to sleuth. And well, the cookies these girls invent, they sound soooo good.

I do recommend this series if you like cozy mysteries, or even if you just like to bake.

9 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 30 januari 2014

Faith Hunter – Black Arts

The seventh book in the Jane Yellowrock series, published January 7, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: kick ass

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Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker who always takes care of her own—no matter the cost....
When Evan Trueblood blows into town looking for his wife, Molly, he's convinced that she came to see her best friend, Jane. But it seems like the witch made it to New Orleans and then disappeared without a trace.
Jane is ready to do whatever it takes to find her friend. Her desperate search leads her deep into a web of black magic and betrayal and into the dark history between vampires and witches. But the closer she draws to Molly, the closer she draws to a new enemy—one who is stranger and more powerful than any she has ever faced.

Jane hasn’t seen or heard from her best friend Molly ever since she had to kill her evil sister, and she misses her and her children dreadfully. So when Molly’s angry husband Evan Trueblood tries to blow her house apart with his air magic, she is completely surprised. Why would he think that Molly came to see her? But at least he has brought her god children with him and Jane is so happy to see them again, and be able to cuddle them.
She promises to find out what happened to Molly and her two housemates immediately help in her quest. Alex “The Kid” is a whiz with computers, which is why he is on parole, but this time his big brother agrees to let him do his magic. After all, he knows what family means.

But then her landlady Katie calls, two of her girls went missing after a party they were not supposed to be at. Jane needs to find them, and kill the one who took them without her approval. Jane refuses to kill for Katie, but knowing that Katie will kill the person if she tells her his name, is just as bad. What is she to do? She doesn’t want to be a killer. But she will find the girls if she can.

That is not all on Jane’s plate, Leo is hosting a Gather the next evening, and he needs Jane to organize security. After her long absence, she doesn’t know all the new guys and girls yet, and she needs to find out asap, and beef up the security protocols. The last gather was a disaster when the werewolves invaded the ballroom through the roof, at least that won’t be possible this time. And when one of the new guys attacks her in the staff mess room, Jane has to find out who is behind it before she or her friends get hurt, big time.

A new (or rather old) and strong vampire has come to New Orleans, and he is bad news all along. He is supposed to ask for sanctuary from Leo, the Master of the City, but he is plotting and planning already with one of the more powerful vampires of Clan Arceneau, one who has a bone to pick with Jane … Will Leo support Jane in her fight against her, or will he protect the woman again? And what does he know about Mollie’s disappearance?

Can all those cases really be related?

I was so impatient to read this book, and it just would not arrive in the mail. A dozen others from the same pub date were already on my shelves, but this one was late. And then I had to wait for the weekend to read it, and I am glad to tell you, I am not disappointed. I was so stupid to read some reviews, and was a bit afraid of something, but well, I do not agree with that particular reviewer at all, sigh of relief. I really have to stop reading reviews of books I am going to read soon.

I love Jane and Beast, and I was sorry that there is little Beast in this book. Jane only changes one time to safe her life. I like her cool look at life and the ideas and memories she gives Jane. When a female black panther in heat lures away her mate Rick, Jane is devastated. But Beast wants to hunt them down, kill the female and punish Rick until she is through with him. Bruiser comes on to Jane at the wrong moments again, but I am still curious about what he has changed into, and if the can choose between Leo and Jane if he so desires.

Leo still doesn’t seem to know about the chain he has put on Beast instead of on Jane, and Jane is really unhappy with Beast’s attraction to Leo. Of course, all Beast wants is the strongest male to breed with, she doesn’t care for what he has done to Jane.

I enjoy how soft Jane is around her god children, and I did wonder why she did not ask Angelina about Mollie. The child knows much more than the adults around her want her to know. She is such a powerful little witch already.

A book filled with a lot of action, and preparations for action, which are fun to read about too. Jane keeps learning more about her own pasts, and the history of her people, the skinwalkers, the Warrior Women of her tribe. I enjoy that a lot.

I look forward to the next book already, which will be out in October.

9 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 29 januari 2014

Julie Hyzy – Home of the Braised

The seventh book in the White House Chef Mystery series, published January 7, 2014.
Genre: cozy mystery with recipes for a complete presidential menu!
Cover: pretty

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With the pressure of an upcoming state dinner that could make or break the president's foreign policy, White House executive chef Olivia Paras has precious little time to focus on her wedding plans—or to catch a murderer…
Tensions are running high as the White House staff adjusts to a new chief usher and prepares for a high-stakes state dinner, where everything must be perfect. But as the date for the event approaches, things go disastrously wrong when the secretary of defense is found dead in his home, seemingly killed during a break-in.
At the same time Olivia's fiancé, Gav, is looking into the mysterious murder of an old friend. Is there a connection? Despite an increase in security following the secretary's death, Ollie learns the president is in imminent danger at the dinner and must do everything in her power to get to him—before it's too late…

Ollie and Gav planned to be married within three days of the proposal, as that is how long it would take to get the marriage license. Unfortunately, the judge has an 8 week waiting period, as he is fully booked. And now Gav is getting spooked, as his first two fiancées died in accidents. How can he keep Ollie safe? So when he gets a call from an old collegue and friend who needs his help, and remembers that that friend became a minister, he thinks to solve to problems at once. First, help his friend, and two, get married quickly after all.

But when Ollie and Gav arrive at his friends’ neighbourhood, it does not look promising at all. Nor does the strange homeless person who tries to make them leave. When they find his friend and some other men murdered, only to be found at the crime scene by a Secret Service team in Hazmat clothing, trouble only just begins. The team leader is certainly not a friend of Gav, and he gives both him and Ollie a very hard time. Wanting to know if one of the victims talked before he died, but they were only inside for a minute. And they were all dead, due to a poisonous gas. How did the team know they would need Hazmat gear when they showed up so soon anyway?

In the meantime, Ollie is very busy at the White House. The President is hosting a state dinner for peace talks with the Durasi in a week, and Ollie and her team need to come up with a menu fast. The president’s personal chef, Virgil, is still a pain in their backsides in the kitchen and Ollie hopes to make him more a part of the team if she asks him to help them with this state dinner. But Virgil just gets more arrogant and ignores Ollie’s commands. Ruining some of their dishes with his own twists for the tasting.

The security in the White House gets extra help from the mercenary’s from Kalto, who are fighting in Durasi with the normal troops. But now that there are peace talks, their presence there is not longer necessary, and the government needs to find new jobs for them to honor their contract for the next two year. And so they will provide extra security for the staff, and especially for Ollie, who really needs it again after someone tried to kill her in the subway station.

Peter Sargeant is doing a good job as the new Chief Usher, and he and Ollie work well together. Of course Virgil wanted his old friend to keep the job, but that man was not cut out for it at all. And if Virgil is not careful, Ollie will fire him, after all, she is the executive chef. And this time, Peter will back her up.

This plot was amazing, and very evil, so I am glad that Ollie figured it all out, and that Josh was there to help her. Ollie was in danger again a few times, but somehow, she always manages to safe herself or the good guys pop in just in time. Which is a good thing of course, as I want many more White House Chef Mysteries to read.

Tom, Ollie’s ex-boyfriend and head of the White House Secret Service agents, was involved again, and this time he stood behind Gav and Ollie, in finding out who to trust and who not in this very convoluted plot. I am starting to like him a bit more. After all, Ollie never seeks out danger or complots on her own, she just walks right into it.

Ollie was at times very happy to be marrying Gav, and then disappointed when things did not work out as they wanted to. But her mother and grandmother, and her neighbour Mrs Wentworth are very happy for her, and want to be there. Of course I instantly saw through the plotting Bucky and Cyan did behind Ollie’s back and thought it fun.
Still, Ollie and Gav have not yet figured out where they will live and what to do with the furniture and such, which should be important decisions to make. And why doesn’t he stay the night a bit more often? Just get up a bit earlier, the drive will be the same.

I loved the ending, I did not see all if it coming, but a lot if it. Happy Sigh upon closing the book.

10 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 28 januari 2014

Lisa Shearin – Armed & Magical

The second book in the Raine Benares series, published April 29, 2008
Genre: fantasy
Cover: good

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My name is Raine Benares. Until last week, I was a seeker – a finder of things lost and people missing. Now, I’m psychic roommates with the Saghred, an ancient stone with cataclysmic powers. Just me, the stone, and all the souls it’s ingested over the centuries. Crowded doesn’t even begin to describe it.
All Raine wants is her life back – which means getting rid of the stone and the power it possesses. To sort things out, she heads for the Isle of Mid, home to the most prestigious sorcery school, as well as the Conclave, the governing body for all magic users. It’s also home to power-grubbing mages who want Raine dead and Goblins who see her as a thief. As if that’s not enough, Mid’s best student spellsingers are disappearing left and right, and Raine’s expected to find them.
Lives are at stake, goblins are threatening to sue, mages are getting greedier, and the stone’s power is getting stronger by the hour. This could get ugly.

This book continues right after the end of book 1. Raine Benares, her cousin Phaelan and their young friend and powerful spellsinger Piaras have come to the Isle of Mid under escort of Mychael Eiliesor, the Paladin and Commander of the Guardians of the Conclave of Sorcerers. Raine needs help to get rid of her connection to the Saghred, and there are no more powerful magicians than in Mid, where the University is. Piaras hopes to study under Maestro Ronan Cayle, who is the best spellsinger-teacher.
Mychael has promised to keep Raine safe and to get her the help she needs, but after all, he needs to listen to his boss, Archmagus Justinius Valerian. And the Archmagus needs the consent of the Seat of Twelve. And there is some heavy opposition against Raine, which only gets heavier when both the Elves and the Khrynsani Kobolds ask for her surrender. Of course, they all want to control the Saghred through her, but the Khrynsani also want their head shaman back, who was sucked into the Saghred when he tried to sacrifice Raine instead.

Raine’s first day on the Island ends in disaster when she recognizes Banan Ryce, commander of the Nightshades, an assassin guild of Elves, tries to kill both the Archmagus and the Paladin. Raine uses her augmented magic to prevent it from happening, but that was exactly what Banan Ryce wanted. And he gets away with a pretty blond young spell singer, using mirror magic. Raine needs to find her, before the worst happens to the girl, and the City’s Guard accepts her offer of help. But it is of no use, the girl is too terrified to show her anything, only that she is not alone in her cell.

A very action filled book, and I enjoyed every page of it. Raine tries to find and save the abducted spell singers, while all the bad guys are after her and Piaras, as he is so very powerful. Evil people deal in abducted spellsingers, so he is a hot commodity. Mychael and Phaelan try to keep Raine safe, with Phaelan being the more successful of the two. And then there is Tam, who is suddenly using the darkest of magics, and whose kiss is more magical than any Raine has felt before. But the Saghred is drawn to the use of dark magic, so being together is really not smart.

I really love Raine, she will do whatever it takes to safe her friends, and keep them safe, no matter the costs to herself. Men want to fight for her, but she can handle it all perfectly well herself. She can fight, and thanks to the Saghred, her magic is no longer moderate, it has broken the charts. Learning more about herself, her father, and especially the Saghred is important. Especially as the first Kobold who ever wielded it, is not dead yet, and after her and her friends too …

Lots of danger, lots of action, and only a little time for fun and relaxation, but I do look forward to book three already. When Phaelan’s father will come to Mid and help them make sure the magicians will do whatever they can to help Raine break her connection to the Saghred without killing her. If Phaelan has a bad reputation, they fear his father … And yes, there is still that hint of romance, and no idea who the lucky man will be. Tam or Mychael.

I enjoy Lisa Shearin’s writing style, her sense of humor, her characters and her unique world building and look on magic.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 26 januari 2014

Heather Webber – Trouble in Spades

The second book in the Nina Quinn series, published April 26, 2005.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: fun

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Landscaping is Nina Quinn's business, but trouble seems to be her middle name. Saddled with a recently expelled, faithless local-cop husband, a teenaged terror of a stepson, and the yappiest, most unhousebreakable Chihuahua in captivity, Nina needs a respite -- and the backyard makeover she's undertaking for her sister Maria and Nate, Maria's fiancé, may do the trick.
But, of course, Nate vanishes mysteriously, and Nina's gardening magic inadvertently turns up a corpse. And with a thief on the prowl who's preying on the neighborhood elderly, a suspicious Pandora's Box of a package arriving on her doorstep, and yet another body inconveniently turning up, Nina's going to have to dig into her community's dirtiest little secrets to regain her peace and sanity -- if she can manage to stay alive long enough to enjoy it.

After starting to read some books that really did not appeal to me, I just had to pick up a book I knew I would enjoy. So, I decided it was cozy mystery time, and this time an author I already love to read.

Nina Quinn’s life is extremely busy at the moment, her landscaping business has a major undertaking with her sister’s garden, a present from her father-in-law-to-be, and Nina cannot possible get out from being the matron of honor. The dress her sister has picked for her is extremely horrible, and Nina refuses to wear it. Even her mother cannot guilt her into it this time. But then the groom goes missing, is he having an affair with his new female boss, or is something more sinister happening?
Nina has to console her sister, deal with a tiny leaking Chihuahua, her almost ex-husband who seems to be sorry and wants her back but is still living with the woman he cheated on Nina with, and doing her job. Doing her job means working for her sister Maria’s boss, as a special favor for her sister, while she really doesn’t have time for it. But if the wedding is off, will she get paid for the landscaping job? She has contracted a lot of the work out, and those people need to be paid too.

Before he went missing, Nate sent a package to Nina to keep safe for him, and she really should not open it. But after more than a day, she cannot control herself anymore. And the inside is really shocking, and she needs her almost ex-husband Kevin to deal with this. He is a homicide inspector after all.

Nina’s neighbourhood is plagued with break-inns, although nothing valuable goes missing. But when one old lady dies of a heart-attack from an encounter with the burglar, it has gone too far. The neighborhood will have to organize a watch system, and Nina’s stepson Riley loves to be a part of it. Or is that just an excuse to meet up with his secret girlfriend?

A very entertaining read, I like Nina more and more. I don’t know why she puts up with her sister Maria, as she is a gorgeous totally selfsentric egoist. Must be real sisterly love after all. I like the people Nina works with, and her cousin Ana. The rest of her family, not so sure about them yet, although they do make for a great story. Let’s say I am glad they are not my family.

There really are vibes that Kevin wants to come back home to Nina, but well, he really should stop living with his girlfriend first. And not go from her bed into Nina’s. So I am glad that Nina is choosing for Bobby/Robert, her stepson’s vice-principal, who is not married after all, just wearing a ring for different reasons.

The mystery was a really good one. I have to admit, I did figure out the why pretty soon, as to why Nate went missing because of what he discovered, but not the who did what. The ending did manage to surprise me.

I am glad I have the next three books on my shelves, and will buy the missing two soon, if they are out in paperback.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

The book is sadly out of print, so I am happy that I do have this one, but you can buy the ebook at Amazon: here

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 25 januari 2014

Recommendations from Karin for January 2014.

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.


I have read 12 books this month and although some of them were quite lovely I want to grab this chance and recommend only one author and her books:

Anne Bishop: The Black Jewels

She is one of my favourite authors and as the next book in her “The Others”-series (which will be “Murder of Crows”) will be released on March 4th I want to call your attention to this excellent writer.

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Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop's "phenomenal" (Urban Fantasy Investigations) world of the Others - where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules...
After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.
The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard - Lakeside's shape-shifting leader - wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.
As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet - and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Reading Order “The Black Jewels”:

Daughter of the Blood (Book 1)
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Heir to the Shadows (Book 2)
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Queen of the Darkness (Book 3)
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The Invisible Ring*
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Dreams Made Flesh (anthology)
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Tangled Webs (anthology)
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The Shadow Queen**
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Shalador's Lady** (sequel to The Shadow Queen and I think it is my favourite book)
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Twilight's Dawn (anthology)
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*The Invisible Ring is a standalone novel which could be read before or after the trilogy but I’d recommend to read it after the first three books. Otherwise you might be lost and / or (even worse) bored.

**The characters in The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady are connected to the main characters in The Invisible Ring.

Bishop created a unique world, a very dark and violent world which is certainly nothing for the faint of the heart: the three main male characters aren’t called Saetan, Daemonar and Lucivar for nothing and Saetan is the High Lord of Hell. Add to these facts that the heroine of most of the books Jaenelle Angelline is all of seven years old when we first meet her and you can guess that you’re not in for a quick and easy read.

These books show us the realms of the Blood – people who are gifted with different Jewels at a Birthright ceremony and who can gain darker jewels when they make their Offering to the Darkness. These Jewels enable them to wield different kinds of magic, the darker the Jewel, the stronger the power the Blood wield.
The colour of their jewels puts them in different castes. The strongest males, the Warlord Princes, have a deep desire to connect themselves to the strongest females – the queens. A queen can rule anything from a small village to a large territory. The males are there to serve the queen (imagine that!!) A good queen will do anything for the benefit of her people but now there are two twisted queens who corrupted their courts and eventually their realm.
Those who know about her have been waiting for Witch – the strongest queen who will eventually clean the corrupt courts.

I bought the original trilogy in one book and it’s well over a thousand pages. If I recall correctly it took me about 6 days (and nights) to devour them. There are so many characters, events, side stories that you will find yourself smiling, laughing, gasping and perhaps even crying a little.

These books belong to the fantasy genre and frankly I haven’t read many series which managed to hold my interest over so many years as Anne Bishop has done with this series and her new one about The Others.
I believe Aurian has already recommended “Written in Red” and I want to emphasize how good this book is for me, too.
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I also want to draw your attention to C. L. Wilson’s (the author of Tairen Soul) finally to be published book “The Winter King”. It will be released in July. Ignore the cheesy cover (it’s almost as bad as the one that was used for her first German edition- and the title then was even worse and more misleading.) I think that might be a good book.

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After three long years of war, starkly handsome Wynter Atrialan will have his vengeance on Summerlea's king by taking one of the man's beautiful, beloved daughters as his bride. But though peace is finally at hand, Wynter's battle with the Ice Heart, the dread power he embraced to avenge his brother's death, rages on.
Khamsin Coruscate, Princess of Summerlea and summoner of Storms, has spent her life exiled to the shadows of her father's palace. Reviled by her father, marriage to Wintercraig's icy king was supposed to be a terrible punishment, but instead offers Kham her first taste of freedom - and her first taste of overwhelming passion.
As fierce, indomitable Wynter weathers even Khamsin's wildest storms, surprising her with a tenderness she never expected, Kham wants more than Wynter's passion - she yearns for his love. But the power of the Ice Heart is growing, dangerous forces are gathering, and a devastating betrayal puts Khamsin and Wynter to the ultimate test.

So – enjoy the Black Jewels while you are no doubt waiting for “Murder of Crows” as impatiently as I am.

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I absolutely love Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series, I have read them all often, and I have read Written in Red six times already. I am waiting most impatiently for a Murder of Crows. I am also a big fan of C.L. Wilson and pre-ordered Winter King three years ago, but the date just keeps moving further and further away.

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 24 januari 2014

DNF: Kylie Logan – Chili con Carnage

The first book in the Chili Cook-Off series, published October 1, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: nice

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Bean there…done that…
Romance is supposed to be the spice of life. But Maxie Pierce is so done with bad relationships—well, almost. She just has to get rid of the latest loser, Roberto. Besides, she has more important things to worry about. Her daddy, Texas Jack Pierce, king of the chili cook-off circuit, has been missing for nearly six weeks now. In his place, she must team up with her irritating half sister, Sylvia, to promote the family business at the Taos Chili Showdown, to be judged by celebrity chef Carter Donnelly.
But when Maxie discovers Roberto's body in the chef's trailer—only hours after publicly breaking up with him while wearing a giant red chili pepper costume—she suddenly finds she's the one in the spotlight as the police pepper her with questions. Now this Chili Chick needs to kick up the search to catch the real killer and get back to finding her father…

After not really enjoying my previous book by Kylie Logan, Mayhem at the Orient Express, I was not so sure about this book anymore, so it took me a while to pick it up and read. I did not get very far though. From the first pages, I disliked both the main characters, Maxie and her half sister Sylvia. They are supposed to be working together, making a living and finding their missing father. But they snipe at each other and fight and do everything but work together.
Maxie is almost continuesly dressed up like a giant red chili pepper, and tapdancing her way through the pages, and Sylvia is working hard in the back ground for her own goals.

So when the first few scenes have played out, I was too irritated already, so when the body is found, I was done with the story. I just have zero interest in finding out who did it, or what happened to their father.

This author’s voice is just not for me, her writing style, her sense of humor, her characters.

If you think you would enjoy this kind of humor, think perhaps Fawlty Towers, and you want to read this book, and the Orient Express one, let me know and I will send them to you.

1 star.

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 23 januari 2014

Robin D. Owens – Heart Change

The eighth book in the Celta series, published November 3, 2009.
Genre: sci-fi / fantasy romance
Cover: still ugly
Re-read for the third time.

Heart Change

Signet D'Marigold's lonely life is shaken when a prophet reveals she is a catalyst for change. But to accept her new life -and the charge of the noble child Avellana- means embracing a danger that may be fatal for them both. Especially when Signet's attraction to her new bodyguard signals a secret enemy sworn to destroy them.

Hmm. I have found this same blurb on three different websites, and it is just wrong.

Signet D’Marigold is the last of her line, living alone in her lovely sentient Residence. Her personal Flair is for cobbling, making shoes and boots, but what her main Flair is, no one knows. Not even the famous testing stones of T’Ash. Today is her 30th nameday, and she is just so lonely. The friend she made a few weeks ago has left Druida after some major changes in her life. As so many others before her. Signet really doesn’t know what to do anymore. She doesn’t think she can handle another disappointment it T’Ash cannot pinpoint her Flair. Then suddenly the young prophet Tinny T’Vine appears, and he knows what she is! Signet is a catalyst, and he desperately needs her services to guide his 5 year old HeartMate through her first Passage. Avellana Hazel tried to fly when she was three years old, which she could not, and has sustained brain damage from the fall out of a second story window. The Healers have done everything the can for her, and now only time will tell if Avellana will survive Passage.

The Hazel Family offers Signet a hefty fee if she can help their little girl survive. Vinnie’s visions are strong and true, and she is their only hope. But as she is living alone, they have also hired the services of the best fighter of Druida, and that is not a Holly, but Cratag Maytree, the head of the guards of T’Hawthorn. Cratag is not from Druida originally, but from a little village in Britain. After a lot of adventuring he wanted Family and a place he belongs, so he set out to find T’Hawthorn, the head of the Family where the Maytrees are a small branch off. He cares very much for HawthornHeir, the young Laev. Cratag is not happy with this job, that his Lord and Head of his Family can send him away that easily. Laev will soon go through his second Passage, and he wants to be there for him. But Cratag soon changes his mind when he meets Signet D’Marigold and the Marigold Residence.

Signet could not have foreseen how much her life would change in a single day. Her Flair is known, T’Ash is astonished by it, and vows he will find the right stone to test her. Her empty Residence is suddenly filled with a FamCat of her own, a man, and a very precocious little girl she loves at sight and Fams of their own. The Residence is also very happy with some more life within its walls. Signets free days are over, as Avellana loves living by a strict schedule. This young miniature adult really needs to be more a child.

Vinnie T’Vine also makes a habit of dropping in, and Cratag soon picks up a training schedule for himself and Laev and Vinnie. And when the first part of the Passage comes for Avellana, Signet is ready to help her. She has been practising with using her Flair now she knows what she should be able to do with it. She can see Flair, and can help the damaged Flair Avellana has to Heal, make new pathways for it. The Hazel Family is really grateful for her help.

Then one day, something horrible happens, and Avellana’s great Flair is revealed. She almost kills everyone in T’Ash Residence when it occurs, but of course she did not know what she was doing. And after that, accidents seem to happen way too often …

I loved this book. This time not a love story between one of the highest GreatLords or Ladies, but between a Commoner and a GentleLady. Cratag has so little Flair, his own Passages where over before he knew it, and he still doesn’t understand much about it, of about other things normal for the Nobility. The relationship between Cratag and Signet grows slowly, even when there is this attraction between them from the start, and even before. Cratag used to watch Signet during the Rituals where they both attended, dreaming perhaps a little about her. Signet soon feels he is her HeartMate, but is of course forbidden to tell him that. He has to come to her, accept their love, in his own time and of his own free will. He sees the different in their status as insurmountable, what does she ever need him for? And he refuses to be a kept man, and not contribute to their relationship, their Household.

There is a secondary storyline about Laev, and how he thinks he has found his HeartMate, but I think that is a scam, the girl is deceiving him just to marry a rich Lord. But well, a young man who thinks himself in love is stubborn and won’t listen to anybody.

I liked getting a closer look on Avellana and especially Vinnie, as he plays such an important part in all the previous books. But I loved Signet, how she is lonely but still an optimist, and her lovely Residence. She doesn’t care about status, she is just in love with Cratag and very happy with him. She takes care about Avellana and Vinnie as well. She is learning to come up for her self, to negotiate a good price for her services, to accept her own Flair and use it.
Cratag also is named in the previous books, a strong and silent and scarred hero. He is a true protector, and will do everything for the ones he loves. He struggles with his sense of self and worth, and I fell for this honourable man who wants nothing more than a Family of his own and a place to belong.

A great book, a lot happens in here, some storylines come together, some new ones are being introduced. Perhaps it took some focus away from the main romance, but I did like the slow pace, the time they took for each other, getting to know the other person, let their love grow.
And I am very curious about the couple in the next book, not a clue as to whom they will be. But I do know, I am going to enjoy the story very much, just like this one.

9,5 stars

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 22 januari 2014

Robin D. Owens – Heart Mate

The first book in the Celta series, published December 2001.
Genre: sci-fi / fantasy romance
Cover: cheesy
Re-read for the third time.

Heart Mate

“Today you will meet your HeartMate”. Rand T’Ash’s blood thrummed in his temples as he stared at his Divination Dice…
All his life, Rand T’Ash has looked forward to meeting his HeartMate, with whom he could begin a family. Once a street tough but now a respected nobleman and artisan, he has crafted the perfect HeartGift, which, in the custom of the psychically-gifted population of the planet Celta, is the way a man finds – and attracts – his wife…
Danith Mallow is irresistibly drawn to the magnificent necklace on display in T’Ash’s shop, but she is wary of its creator, despite an overpowering attraction. In a world where everyone is defined by their psychic ability, Danith has little, and thus is at the opposite end of the social spectrum from T’Ash. But T’Ash refuses to accept her rejection, and sees it as a challenge instead. They are HeartMates, but can T’Ash persuade his beloved to accept her destiny by his side?

After losing his parents, his family, and his inheritance at age 6, Rand T’Ash has been lonely his whole life. Escaping the men who murdered his family, he fled into Downwind, and survived. Grown up, he has taken his revenge on the men responsible, and taken up his position as a High Lord again. But he never regained the polish most nobles have effortlessly. He doesn’t know how to behave courtly, and he certainly has no idea how to woo a woman. Let alone the woman destined to be his HeartMate. But destined to be doesn’t mean she has no choice in the matter. She can still refuse him.
Danith grew up in an orphanage, and except from having a large family of her own, all she wanted was to have powerful Flair, but the testing stones never revealed anything. And now this High Lord, this jeweller is pursuing her. Sending her flowers, and jewellery. Well, she will not become his mistress! She has a paramour she is intending to marry already. The brother of her best friend, and he has a family that already loves her. But T’Ash is determined.
He is not allowed to tell her they are HeartMates, or that the necklace she so admires but stubbornly refuses to touch is a HeartGift only she can see and feel. And when it is stolen, he is furious. When his only friend, Holm Holly, is demanding his help in crafting an enchanted blade for his younger brother, calling in a debt of honor, T’Ash has no choice. He cannot go after his mate, nor the stolen necklace. Designing and crafting the blade will cost a lot of time and Flair, and will exhaust him. But he accepts the obligation, and in the meanwhile, a Hunter will track down the thief, who is a Null, and his Familiar, a large and ugly Cat, will track down his HeartMate. He doesn’t even know her name!
But nothing in life has gone easy for T’Ash, and the claiming of his HeartMate is no different. Danith keeps refusing him and his gifts, she wants nothing to do with him. The horror of becoming a GreatLady with all the obligations that entitles, boggles her mind. She has grown accustomed to her own freedom in the past years, to her own Flair-less friends, she doesn’t want to lose that.

But unrest is thrumming through Downwind, and street gangs are causing trouble. Young noble boys and street boys fighting, and when Danith is thrown in the middle of it, T’Ash has no choice but to rescue her. He is afraid of her seeing his troubled past, the darkness inside of him, but he will kill to keep her safe, and he will die to keep her safe. The only thing she wants, he can’t give her. The memories of his past. T’Ash keeps thinking that if only she accepts the HeartMateBond between them, all will be well. He just can’t say the words that he loves her, that she is everything he wants, and needs. And Danith doesn’t want to say the words until he has opened up to her, let her in. In spite of her struggles, she has fallen in love with him. But he also revealed her own powerful Flair, she is an animal healer, a power though lost, and so she rises from a commoner into the nobility overnight. A whole new life awaits her. So why does she need him anymore?

Be warned: gushing review follows.
I loved this book very very much. It reminds me a lot of Jayne Castle’s books of the planet Harmony, which I love. Of course there are differences, but also a lot of similarities. Magical abilities, animals who bond with their humans (though nothing can beat Dustbunny’s!)
But the writing style is different, and of course the worldbuilding. There are social castes, determined by the Old Families who came on the original spaceships, and new Houses based on magical power (Flair). The leading male of a House gets the T’ before the last name, and his lady wife D’. They are still busy settling the planet, honouring some old Earth customs, and adapting the animals and plants they brought with them. Some species really prosper, while others are almost extinct.

I loved T’Ash from the first page. A large dark powerful man, who felt deeply, but couldn’t express that. Guarded and alone, safe for his Fam Zanth. And that Fam certainly is a character on itself. Large, demanding, understanding and interfering. Zanth appeared in the box he was sleeping in one night, almost as big as T’Ash himself, and they have been together ever since. Fighting, surviving together. So of course T’Ash gives him everything he wants, jewellery to play with or give away, and the both of them are extremely fond of chocolate mousse …

And then Danith. She wants a family, she wants to be loved, but in a quiet manner. And the HeartMate thing sure is not a sedate love, but a blazing fire. Bonding with T’Ash would mean a public life, with all the obligations to fulfil. No more quiet private ceremonies, but big ones with all the other First Families in the Church. She certainly doesn’t want to loose her friends. She has a really hard time accepting that T’Ash really wants her, that he believes in them being HeartMates. But she loves Zanth, and when she finds out she is a powerful Flair as well, when T’Ash stirs her own powers alive, her life has already irrevocably changed. So now she has to choose.

A lot of the story is dedicated to T’Ash “courtship” of Danith, but there are also some battles, and interactions with other nobles. Both have not had an easy live, but together they are great.

When I am not feeling well, I allow myself to reread my favourite books and series. And I have to say, reading this for the second time, it is still a great story. I loved it all over again, and got myself lost in the world of Celta. I do recommend it.

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian