donderdag 31 december 2015

Cate Tiernan - Book of Shadows

The first book in the Wicca : Sweep series, published January 1, 2001.
Genre: YA urban fantasy
Cover: ok
Re-read: often, in Dutch

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Something is happening to me that I don't understand.
I see things, feel things in a new way. I can do things normal people can't do. Powerful things. Magical things. It scares me.
I never chose to learn witchcraft. But I'm starting to wonder if witchcraft is choosing me.

This was perhaps the series that set me on the path to start reading in English. I started buying the first 6 books in Dutch and became too impatient to wait for the Dutch translation of the next book, so I just bought it in English. And re-reading it again, after many years, makes me realize the Dutch translations are very much geared towards teenagers with their use of the language, and absolutely irritates me, while I have no problems whatsoever with the English language books.

I read the whole 15 book series again in just a few weeks, and loved it. Will I ever read it again, I don’t know. It is really good.

Morgan is just a normal 16 year old highschool girl, with strict Catholic parents, a gorgeous younger sister, and some good friends. She is also somewhat of a math geek, and knows she is not pretty. She dresses very casually, and drives an old German car, called Das Boot. I could relate to her. She just lives a normal life.
And then that life is set upside down, when a gorgeous new boy starts going to their school. He is a year older, but as Morgan is in some advanced classes, she does share a few with him. He is intriguing, he seems so genuinely interested in people, and he talks to everyone, gets along with all the different cliques and groups. Bree is fed up with her current boyfriend and has her eyes set on Cal now, but Morgan sure likes him as well, Still, she knows she has no chance against her gorgeous best friend, if Bree wants a boy, he doesn't stand a chance.
But Cal seems interested in Morgan, so what is she to do?
And then he invites some people to join him in a celebration, to form a circle with him, to do something called Wicca. Isn't that evil? She is Catholic, what will her parents say? But something about it all calls to Morgan, something seems to awaken deep inside her. And she stays. But she is different from her friends, somehow, she can do things, things no one else can …

A great first book in the series that makes you want to read more, find out what will happen to Morgan and what she will learn. Lots of books don't give out any details on rituals, and the meanings of objects, the powers of herbs, and this series gives me that. I am very much interested in it, and still, just like reading recipes I will never bake, I will never try anything like this myself. But as much as I can dream about a perfect cake, I can dream about having real powers and do some good with it. It is a fascinating world out there, and who knows what is real and what is not. In this world created by Cate Tiernan, it certainly feels like it is real.

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 30 december 2015

Gail Carriger - Manners & Mutiny

The fourth book in the Finishing School series, published November 3, 2015.
Genre: YA steampunk / urban fantasy
Cover: cool

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Espionage lessons aboard Mademoiselle Geraldine's floating dirigible have become tedious without Sophronia's sweet sootie Soap nearby. She would much rather be using her skills to thwart the dastardly Picklemen, yet her concerns about their wicked intentions are ignored, and now she's not sure whom to trust. What does the brusque werewolf dewan know? On whose side is the fashionable vampire Lord Akeldama? Only one thing is certain: a large-scale plot is under way, and when it comes to fruition Sophronia must be ready to save her friends, her school and all of London from disaster - in a decidedly dramatic fashion, of course.

It is their last semester at finishing school, and although Sophronia loves most of the lessons, she sorely misses her friend Soap, but he was turned into a werewolf in the previous book, and as werewolves can't float, he is no longer at the school. You see, the school itself is a giant floating dirigible, flying above the moors of England, hidden in the clouds.
In the previous book, the evil Picklemen (who are against all kinds of supernaturals and want to grab all political power for themselves) did something dastardly to all the household droids in London, and Sophronia is convinced they are up to something bigger, but no one wants to listen to her.
But then, while hosting a tea for the young evil geniuses at Bunson's, their counterpart finishing school for boys, all hell breaks loose. Flywaymen are attacking the school, and they all have to abandon it, which was the plan all along. The Picklemen repair the ship, and take off on it, to do their dastardly deeds. But Sophronia is still on board, without her friends to back her up, but help is there from some unexpected corners. Will she be able to thwart their plans, and save her school, her friends, London and her self? She is one of the best students the school has ever had, but she is still a young girl.

This book kept throwing surprises and twists and turns at me, and I never ever saw any of it coming. It was amazing. Filled with action, and hard choices, with casualties from friend and foe, and that was hard at times. Sophronia sure thinks about corners in figuring it all out. I absolutely loved it. She is certainly not invincible or tireless, she does get hurt, severely, and needs time to recover, but she is there where it counts. A book where friends are strangers, enemies become allies, and in the end, will love conquer all in a society that won't accept their relationship?

Yes, utterly amazing and so totally worth your reading time. But don't start with this book, you will be completely lost, you have to immerse yourself into this strange world from the first story. Unique characters and circumstances and a fabulous setting makes for a great story that will keep you guessing till the end, and at the edge of your seat. Action, danger and humor are written into a fast paced story that will enthral you.

I really hope for more books in this world, but I think this is the last in the series, as Sophronia and her friends are officially "finished" from school.

10 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 29 december 2015

Deborah Blake - Wickedly Magical

A prequel novella, published August 5, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: typical

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Known as the wicked witch of Russian fairy tales, Baba Yaga is not one woman, but rather a title carried by a chosen few. They keep the balance of nature and guard the borders of our world, but don't make the mistake of crossing one...

Barbara Yager loves being one of the most powerful witches in the world, but sometimes she'd rather kick back in her enchanted Airstream with a beer in her hand than work out how to grant the requests of the worthy few who seek her out.
But when a man appears with the token of a family debt of honor, Barbara must drop everything to satisfy the promise owed by her predecessor - and she isn't above being a little wicked to make sure the debt is paid in full...

I have read some reviews about the first books in this series, and finally I was determined to read it myself, and I certainly was not sorry that I bought the series after I read this first novella. It is fun, quirky and original. A witch, a talking dog that is really a dragon in disguise, an enchanted camper, and a motorcycle. And then a man who needs her help, when someone has stolen his wife (he could not care less), and his children (whom he desperately wants back).
Ancient magick has resurfaced, and is being misused, and Barbara Yager is on a mission. I loved how she carried that out, and I enjoyed her interaction with her sister witches. It sure is a series full of promise.
Humor, action and fairy tale origins. I did read as a child about the Russian witch Baba Yaga, who lived in a hut that wandered around on chicken legs, and flew through the air in a mortar and pestle, and had iron teeth. If she wants to, Barbara can look like that, but she is a modernized version of that witch. She can be evil, she can be wicked, and she can help out a worthy applicant if she wants to. And in this novella, she wants to.

Yes, certainly worth reading, and I hope to read the rest of the series soon, as this really wet my appetite for more.

8 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 28 december 2015

Sharon Lathan - The trouble with Mr. Darcy

The sixth book in the Mr & Mrs Fitzwilliam Darcy series, published April 1, 2011.
Genre: pride and prejudice variation/historical romance
Cover: nice, but I just see Colin Firth instead of this model.

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Sensual, happy, and steeped in all the luxuries of the lavish Regency period, Darcy and Elizabeth must still face the many challenges dat every married couple confronts after the honeymoon is over. Just as the most intense issues of their marriage begins to arise, George Wickham returns to Hertfordshire bent on creating trouble. Knowing Darcy as long as he has, Wickham knows just how to strike at his vulnerabilities. But Wickham is only a pawn for someone even more unscrupulous than he is - and much more powerful.
When everything Darcy cherishes most is thrown into deadly danger, and knowing that Wickham has nothing left to lose, Darcy must confront his enemy and his own demons at the same time.

I never thought I would enjoy Pride and Prejudice retellings, or variations, but I do. I guess the one book (okay, I mean the BBC mini-series) is just not enough for me, I want more. And I do enjoy this series especially, as it continues after the marriage ceremony. Elizabeth and Darcy are madly in love, and have to deal with every day things, like running the household and the business, but they do have plenty of time for each other, and their children.
Darcy's uncle George is back home from India, he is a physician and lives with them, and his expertise really comes in handy again, when Elizabeth suffers from a severe depression after the birth of her second son. But she does get over it, and they are closer than ever before.

Her younger sister Kitty is getting married in this book, the last of the Bennett girls to do that, to a worthy military man! But the Wickhams suddenly decide to be there as well, and that is bound for unpleasant encounters. Because Wickham really is up to no good, and he has evil plans for Darcy and his family.

Of course, in the end, Darcy triumphs, and I so loved that part of the book!

Darcy is portrayed as a very emotional man, who loves his family desperately, and will do anything for them, but he keeps himself under a very rigid control around outsiders. He is a wonderful involved father and husband, and I just enjoy reading about them.
Elizabeth is still a somewhat free spirit, and she enjoys needling Lady Catherine, and other people who need it and don't get it.
Caroline Bingley is still a mostly unpleasant woman, married to an even more unpleasant man, but a titled one! And all the friends and family frequently join together for events, like picknicks in Hyde Park, and for Easter events. It was really fun to read about, and I do recommend this series if you also want more of the Darcy's.

Yes, it did tug on my heart strings at times, and there are plenty of hot love scenes between them. I do read this series totally out of order, as I only have a few of them, but I don’t mind at all.

8 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 27 december 2015

Yasmine Galenorn - Autumn Thorns

The first book in the Whisper Hollow series, published October 27, 2015.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: I don't really like it, especially her pose. You just don't sit on a gravestone.

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In an all-new series, "New York Times" bestselling author Yasmine Galenorn invites readers to Whisper Hollow, where spirits walk among the living and the lake never gives up her dead

Fifteen years ago, I ran away from Whisper Hollow, Washington, a small town on Crescent Lake in the Olympic Peninsula. But truth is, if you were born here, you can never really leave. I'm Kerris Fellwater, and when I returned, I inherited my grandmother s house and her gift. As a spirit shaman, it's my responsibility to drive the dead back to their graves, because around Whisper Hollow, people and secrets don't always stay buried. When I was little, I was told my mother ran off. But now it looks like she was murdered. With the help of my mysterious neighbor Bryan, we begin to unravel the mystery of her disappearance, and in doing so, unearth a dark force seeking to bury Whisper Hollow. Now I must work with the dead, rather than against them, because our enemy will do whatever she can to destroy the town, and she means to start with me."

A new series by one of my favourite authors, of course I had to read it right away! Yasmine has created a whole new world, with 6 different types of ghosts and undead, and Kerris is one of the people protecting the living from their influence and evil. She is a spirit shaman, and together with her lament singer, and her protector (who is a shifter and her mate) she sets out to drive them back behind the Veil. Kerris and all those of her lineage and of some other families, were created for this purpose by the Morrigan, the power always follows the maternal line.
As Kerris left home at a young age, because she could not live with her grandfather another day, she did not learn nearly enough of her craft as she will need to know. And now both her grandfather and her grandmother have died, because the Lady of the Lake took them, she has come home to do her duty. In her grandmother's journals she hopes to learn enough to thwart the evil intend on destroying the town. And she also wants to find out the truth of her mother's disappearance when she was 3 years old.
But there are many long buried secrets and not everyone wants those secrets exposed … There are people working for the Morrigan's old enemy, and they want to stop her, for good …

I did love this story. So much originality, a lot of suspense, and action. Old friendships and new friends, and some of Yasmine's trademark hot and explicit love scenes. I can't wait for the next book and find out what will happen to Kerris and her friends and allies. She is a heroine I liked from the first page, and her hero sure is a strong character as well, and they just fit together. But I like her best friend as well, the only person she staid in touch with all those years.

9 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 26 december 2015

Heather Graham - Ghost Shadow

The first book in the Bone Island Trilogy series, published June 29, 2010.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: gloomy

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There are those who walk among us, no longer alive, but not yet crossed over. They seek retribution, vengeance, or to warn us. And among the living, few can even intuit their presence.
Katie O'Hara is one who can.
As she finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into a gruesome years old murder, whispered warnings from a spectral friend become more and more insistent. But Katie it compelled to discover the truth. Could David Beckett really be responsible for his fiancée's murder?
And worse. Is David, the man she is compelled to turn to for help, responsible for the body count rising in the Island of bones? A place where, as in the past, the dead are posed in macabre tableaux from the history.
Katie knows that the danger is increasing by the moment - especially as she finds herself irresistibly drawn to David. His fiancée's murder wasn't the last... and Katie's could be next.

Even though her books scare me (I have to read them in the afternoon, when the sun is shining), I can't resist reading them. Heather Graham has a way with words; she makes me see the streets where our heroine is walking, feel a part of the story myself. And yes, this one was creepy.
10 years ago, a young woman was found murdered, and placed in a tableau in some sort of wax museum, but with automatons. Her former fiancée was of course the main suspect, but his influential family vouched for his whereabouts during the time of the murder. Another suspect was never apprehended. And now David is back, just in time to prevent the sale of the museum to Katie O'Hara, who wants to reopen it. She loves the history of the place, and the masterful tableaux picturing important scenes. And while David is back in his home town, he is determined to find out who killed Tanya. His cousin is a detective on the police force, and he will help him to get his hands on the old case file and study everything.

But someone is not happy that David is pack, the prodigal son has come home. He wants David suffering, and in prison for a crime he did not commit. So, time for another set up …

Other players from back then have returned as well, like Tanya's brother, and Katie's brother, and Tanya's last boyfriend after she broke up with David … Could anyone of those men be the killer? When more people are murdered, and left behind in other historical significant places, David and Katie must join forces and find the real killer before it is too late. And Katie will have to hide her gift to talk to ghosts from David, as he absolutely does not believe in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena. But Katie's best friend is a ghost, and Bartholomew is determined to protect Katie and as he grows more powerful, he can make his presence known to other people as well…

A very scenic place for this series, but I really don't think I want to visit there! Yes, it was creepy, and full of tourists, and I did like Katie. She really had to struggle to hide her gift of seeing and talking to ghosts from other people. She has invented Katie-oke (karaoke) in her uncle's bar, and she a very nice girl. David used to be friends with her big brother, but after what happened, that stopped. And now David has to learn to see her as a woman grown, and no longer his friends little sister. There is a kind of taboo to that, sleeping with your friends' sister, but he is really attracted to Katie.
And Katie doesn't head the warnings from her friends and brother either, that he might me the killer after all. She doesn't believe so, and she really likes David. But can he believe in her and her gift?

A good story, very interesting back ground, and great characters. I do wonder if her brother will be a hero in the next book(s).
If you like creepy, and ghosts, go read some of Heather Graham's paranormal romance books. You will like them.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 25 december 2015

Recommendations from Karin for December 2015.

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


December has passed ever so quickly. I bought a couple of book bundles but there was nothing exciting among them. But I still lucked out. I really enjoyed three books this month. They were

Feel the Burn by G.A. Aiken

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Those of you who read these recommendations might know how much I enjoy G.A. Aiken/Shelly Laurenston’s books (Maia, I know you hear me right now!)
This was definitely another winner. I might warn you from the beginning: if you decide to try these books from the dragon realm you had better not start with this one – you would be completely lost. I feel this is a book that lays the ground for a continuation and yet another start for kind of new story arch. Lots of familiar dragons appear, you get an insight into their family situation and yet there is quite a lot of character development.
The love story is nothing worth mentioning, it feels like it was just thrown in as an afterthought but there is so much happening that I enjoyed reading about. Once again I found myself laughing out loud about Laurenston’s trademark humor and a snarky comment here and there. So, if you enjoy the dragons – I highly recommend this book.

I also enjoyed a (unfortunately) very short book by another one of my favourite authors:

Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

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This book is a spin off of Andrews’s Kate Daniels’ series and features Derek, the former boy wonder as the hero and Julie, Kate’s ward, as the heroine.
Albeit it being very short (and due to Julie’s young age there is no real love story just a hint of deep feelings) it grabbed my attention and kept me glued to the pages for the full hour it took me to devour this novella.
It has got everything a reader like me can ask for – lots of magic, action and - as I mentioned before – feelings. It also gives me hope that the title contains a subtitle: Grey Wolf Book 1. Being the genius that is me, I concluded there has to be at least a Book 2 and maybe more in the future. I sure hope so, as I enjoyed this one so much.

Finally I want to mention a book that has been recommended by Grace Draven (another favourite author of mine. I follow her on Facebook and thus tried this book):

Simple Man by Lydia Michaels

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This is completely different from my usual paranormal reading habit. It tells the story of a young man, who led quite a difficult life. His parents died and he had to drop out of school and take odd jobs to take over the responsibility for his younger sister. He lives in a run-down trailer, works in construction, hangs out with his friends and sees his life more or less pass by him without any real goals. That is until the moment he finds out that his sister, who was killed in an accident, made him the guardian of his nephew, a baby of a few weeks.
He has no idea how to care for a baby or what he is in for, but he doesn’t hesitate a moment: of course he wants to care for the little boy.

I think this is one of the best books (mind you, it is still fiction, I don’t believe a single moment that it could all happen like this in real life) that I have read where I liked the hero so much. In a sense I think one can safely say that one can watch the young man become a responsible adult, find the love of his life and get to a place where he can live – well: happily ever after. Highly recommended!

As this is the last recommendation from me for this year, I want to wish you all a happy holiday season and a wonderful, happy year 2016 filled with (among other things of course) lots of good books. Take care until next time.

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Aurian: Thanks for the recommendations Karin, and for giving me and my readers something different to try out during the year! I absolutely love the cover of the new Ilona Andrews novella, and I have to admit, Simple Man sounds wonderful. I will add that one to my wishlist. G.A. Aiken's dragons are not to my liking unfortunately.

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

Robin D. Owens - Heart Legacy

Book 14 in the Celta series, published November 3, 2015.
Genre: futuristic romance
Cover: beautiful

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After the death of the former GrandLord T'Yew years ago, the Yews withdrew to their self-sustained estate and disappeared from Celtan society. When a rash of politically motivated attempted murders happen - and a piece of evidence linking the crimes to the Yew family is found - no one can vouch for the Family's or current head of the household Loridana's integrity. To discover more, Draeg Blackthorn is enlisted to insinuate himself into the estate as a stableman for the stridebeasts - beautiful creatures that hold a place in Lori's heart no member of her family ever could…
Never officially acknowledged as GrandLady D'Yew, Lori has decided to abandon her bloodline and live on her won with her true family - her animals. She spends her days catering to the unfair whims of her Family, and her nights exploring the streets of Druida, plotting her escape. But the arrival of the new stableman, who seems to love her animals as much as she does, threatens to disrupt her plans for freedom. The growing bond between Lori and Draeg is real - even if the things he tells her aren't.

It has only happened once before, that immediately after finishing a book, I wanted to read it again, and that was Anne Bishop - Written in Red. So that will probably tell you how much I loved this book. But it was already past my bedtime when I finished it, so I read the second half again the next day. And still loved it so much! As I told my friend Peggy on Facebook: I closed the book with a smile, while the tears were still drying on my cheeks.
The bad thing was, it made me crave a re-reading of the rest of the series. And yes, I caved. So instead of reading some of my shiny new books, I am re-reading the Celta series, for the umptieth time.

As a young girl, Lori became the new head of the household, D'Yew, as she was the most powerful in flair. She has been raised very rigidly, always aware of her position, and not allowed any freedom at all. The residence herself or her family members who run the house and the estate, keep a very close eye on her, and don't hesitate to punish her severely for anything they don't like. She has two cousins who are spoiled and have all the freedom denied to her. Lori has found a FamCat last year, but he is not even allowed inside the Residence. Her cousin has even tried to kill it. The only joy she has, is in taking care of her stridebeasts, and breeding them, making them even better. But as she is only allowed to have six, that is not easy or fast. And now, as a boon, she is been given two Earthan horses to take care of, with the help of a new stablemaster, who is NOT family! He is not allowed inside the Residence either, he has a room above the stable.

Draeg can’t believe Loridana is behind the murder attempts, she really is an innocent young lady, who has no power at all over her Family or her Residence as she should have. What he doesn't understand is that she won't fight for her right, fight for what is hers. He doesn't know what she has endured, and she will never, ever have outsiders meddle in family matters again. Draeg falls for Lori hard, but when he learns of her plans of just leaving the estate, and go live south of Druida on a small estate her late father has left her, he plans to stop her, anyway he can. Abandoning ones' family is just unheard of in his book. But then, he doesn't know her family … And will she still love him when she finds out about his lies?

I fell hard for this story, I felt for Lori, and how she had to deceive her family and the Residence itself of her true feelings and thoughts. I rooted for her, to set out and make a life of her own, and to just give the reigns over to her nasty family. I understood her, while Draeg could not. And I kept wondering, did he really just want the woman, or the Lady and her Estate?
But Lori really grew in this story, into her Flair powers, and in character. She was strong, even at her young age, and I loved it. And her FamCat, who was not arrogant like so many FamCats I have read about before. He was truly supporting his FamWoman, and helping her.
It was a truly epic ending, and I did not really see it coming. The only thing I would have liked, was for Draeg to grovel … and that did not happen. Sigh. Heartmates.

Could you read this as a stand alone? Perhaps. I do recommend the whole series though.

11 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 24 december 2015

Darynda Jones - Fifth Grave past the Light

The fifth book in the Charley Davidson series, published July 9, 2013.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: purple

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Charley Davidson isn't your everyday, run-of-the-mill grim reaper. She's more of a paranormal private eye/grim reaper extraordinaire. However, she gets sidetracked when the sexy, sultry son of Satan, Reyes Farrow, moves in next door. To further complicate matters, Reyes is her main suspect in an arson case. Charley has vowed to stay away from him until she can find out the truth… but then dead women start appearing in her apartment, one after another, each lost, confused, and terrified beyond reason. When it becomes apparent that her own sister, Gemma, is the serial killer's next target, charley has no choice but to ask for Reyes's help. Arsonist or not, he's the one man alive who could protect Gemma no matter who or what comes at her. But he wants something in return. Charley. All of her, body and soul. And to keep her sister safe, it is a price she is willing to pay.

It has been a year and a half since I read the previous book, but I was not lost for a page. I tumbled right back into the story, as the book practically picked up where the previous one ended. It took me so long to pick up this book, as I did not really like the fourth grave book. It was too forced funny, it had to be a pun with every sentence, and the hype around Reyes failed to entertain me.
So I am very happy that I liked this book a lot more. Sure, it still has lots of humor and especially Charley doesn't seem to be able to be serious for a minute. But she did feel more grown up to me this time, even though she does tease her best friend and collegue Cookie continuously.
Someone is torching all the apartments and houses Reyes has ever lived in, was tortured in by his stepfather, and Charley thinks it is Reyes. So far there have been no casualties, but that could change with the next fire. But she is wrong, but the real arsonist is someone very close to Reyes.
Meanwhile, a "normal" P.I. job with a cheating husband goes horribly wrong, and Charley pays the price for that, big time. I do wonder why Reyes did not save her, why he did not sense her peril. It was her detective uncle who came to her rescue after …

Reyes has lot of surprises in store for Charley in this book, and I really liked them. And especially the last page! I do wonder what will happen next and I won't wait so long to read the next book. It is already on my shelves.
Garrett of all people tells Charley a bit more about herself, and her purpose, and I found that to be very interesting. And I do hope that Charley can make up with Rocket and his little sister after what happened.

8 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 23 december 2015

Barbara Bickmore - The moon below

A stand alone novel, published before 1990.
Genre: historical fiction
Cover: lovely
Re-read: at least 30 times.

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The daughter of a Newcastle coalminer, Hallie Thomas moves to Australia where she struggles to make a life for herself amid the beautiful purple mountains and eucalyptus trees of New South Wales.

This is one of my all time favourite books, and I have read it (in Dutch) so many times I lost count. And the rare thing is, even my mother and sisters enjoyed it and they do not share my taste in books.

The book is about Hallie Thomas, the young daughter of a coal miner, who is destined to marry a coalminer herself, and have the same dreary life as her mother and siblings. But instead, a young man she met only once, the younger son of the owner of the mine her father and brother work in, has asked her by letter delivered by their priest, to marry him and come to Australia, where he is living.
Hallie doesn't hesitate, and of she goes, on a 9 month journey by ship to the other side of the world. Chad is waiting for her, he really needs a wife who knows how to work hard and is not afraid of a hard life, like a woman of his own class would be. It doesn't hurt that Hallie is pretty either. Chad has big dreams: he wants to become the biggest sheep rancher, and breed the best race he can, own a large farm and start a dynasty with the children that Hallie will give him. His employees are prisoners, sent from England to long years of hard labor, often for only minor crimes. They won't have much, but it will be more than they ever had in England, and at least the weather is good and the environment is gorgeous, and they will be fed three times a day and have their own bed in the barak.
Hallie is to cook for them, and care for the garden, and any lambs that need hand feeding, as well as cleaning the house and kitchen, doing laundry and everything.

But she loves it all, and has no regrets of coming all this way to be with a stranger. Chad doesn't share much with Hallie, like the fact that he is going back to England for a few years, to create a market for their wool, and to tend to their ailing fathers. And so it is up to Hallie to tend to the farm and make all the decisions, especially when their foreman, whom Chad depended upon, is killed by an escaped prisoner. Lucky for Hallie, one of the women she met on the ship finds her, and she takes over all of Hallies duties in the kitchen and the house, so Hallie can do her husbands job.
And so, while Chad stays away longer and longer, she builds his dream out beyond his wildest expectations. The governor of the colony and the local banker, who are friends of Chads' support her in her decisions, otherwise she could never have done anything. So when he finally comes back, and he takes Hallie's injured brother Dannie and his wife and children, and her mother with him, she doesn’t know how to react. She doesn’t love him anymore, she is in love with Tristan, the local doctor, and she just might be pregnant…
How could she explain Beth to him?

And Chad doesn't know what he sees either. The town is his? The school, the store, the mill? He employes a shepard, owns a vineyard, and more sheep and acres of land than he has ever dared to dream about? His own dreams, succeeded by a woman? What is he to do? But then a dangerous sickness attacks his sheep, and he is the only one who knows what is to be done to fight it. But Hallie will fight alongside with him, she won't be relegated back to the household… But can Chad deal with a wife like that, now that he is there to take over again?

I absolutely adore this book. The descriptions of the pristine country that was just discovered and is being developed take my breath away, and I so want to visit someday. But the main focus in the book is Hallie, and I love how she grows from a young girl to a confident woman, who runs the largest farm in the country, who learns everything that she needs to know, and goes to school with her own children to learn to read and write and do numbers.
And ever years after her husband is back, she is still fighting. For other women this time, those who are arriving on the ships every week, and are taken home by men to be used, who don't want to marry them, or pay them. She is determined to give them a better chance in life, to find them gainful employment, or husbands.

I absolutely admire her, and I love her journey, and her growth. Especially in that time period. The book is loosely based on a real character.

If you have never read a Barbara Bickmore book, I strongly urge you to try one. Her books are compelling, set in all different kinds of countries, from Africa and the dreadful disease of lepra, to Asia, and the forbidden love between a white woman and a Chinese man, to the flying doctors of Australia or a love story set in America. I do love them all, but this one the most. Yes, they are older, but really not dated at all.

11 stars.

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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian