woensdag 30 november 2011

Anne McCaffrey – The Rowan

The first book in the Tower and Hive series, published September 1991.

The Rowan

The Talents were the elite of the Nine Star League. Their gifts were many and varied, ranging from the gently telepathic, to the rare and extremely valued Primes. On the Primes rested the entire economic wealth and communications systems of the civilised worlds. But Primes were scarce – only very rarely was a new one born.

And now, on the planet Altair, in a small mining colony on the western mountain range, a new Prime existed, a three year old girl – trapped in a giant mud slide, that wiped out the rest of the Rowan mining community. Every Altairian who was even mildly talented could “hear” the child crying for help, but no one knew exactly where she was buried.
Every resource on the planet was centered into finding “The Rowan” – the new Prime, the first ever to be born on Altair, an exceptionally unique Prime, more talented, more powerful, more agoraphobic, more lonely, than any other Prime yet known in the Nine Star League.

The Rowan, a new concept, a new legend, from the creator of the Dragons of Pern.

When The Rowan was three years old, she lost her family in a mudslide. She was only spared because her mother had left her in the hopper, while she ran through the rain to get some groceries inside. It had been raining for weeks, and no one new, the mud avalanche was building. Not one precog had forseen it. The whole planet heard her crying for days, until she was found.
As a Ward of Altair, The Rowan (named after the mining community she was born in, she could not remember her given name), should be in the care of Altair’s Prime, Siglen. But Siglen didn’t care much for children, and the woman who got the care of The Rowan kept making excuses for letting her stay with her and her children. Which Siglen happily accepted. But at the age of twelve, The Rowan had to go live with her, to be trained as a Prime, in the responsibilities of operating a Tower. Every major planet in the Nine Star League has a Tower, and a Prime, or perhaps a pair of T2’s, to take care of business. Sending cargo, messages and people vessels from one planet to the other, by means of telekinesis, with the help of mighty generators. They are the most important assets a planet has. Of course they earn a lot of money, but the responsibility and work ethic is drilled in them from a young age. The work is hard, and there is no one else who can take it over.
The Rowan is lonely, totally without a family of her own, except for Lusena, and Geraloman, who takes care of the generators in the Tower. And her special pukha, named Purza. An upgrade to a normal stuffed animal, a being programmed to offer comfort and reassurance to a lonely child. But there are no children to play with, or time to be a child.
Earth Prime Reidinger has concocted a scheme to bring her in contact with other Talented children, out of whom she someday has to form her own Tower personnel. At first Rowan tries to blend in, but she soon discovers that as she is the Prime, her word is law. They will have to listen to her, and respect her. Some she likes, some not, but none of them is becoming anything close to a friend.

When Rowan looses her Purza thanks to a jealous cousin of Lusena, she is inconsolable. Siglen is unfeeling about it, she should have been weaned from that toy a long time ago! But thanks to Geraloman, Rowan gets a barquecat, which is a huge honor, as they normally only live aboard spaceships. They are better and faster then the humans living aboard in finding minute leaks and vermin.

When Rowan has turned 18, Earth Prime Reidinger (who is a distant grandson of the original Peter Reidinger in the Pegasus books), assigns her her own Tower, on the moon Calisto. And there she lives and works hard for the next 10 years. Her agoraphobia preventing her from travelling to Earth or any of the other planets in the league. Which hurts, as all the other Talents, except the Primes, have no difficulty whatsoever with travelling through space.
Then someday, out of the blue, she gets contacted telepathically by a stranger, for the young planet Deneb VIII, which is supposedly under attack by aliens! Jeff Raven needs help, and he wants her to alert Earth prime and send in the cavalry. But of course, militairy decisions are not made quickly, until Jeff deflects a few missiles to Earth, and they suddenly believe him. And so Deneb is saved for the moment, and Jeff Raven has come to Calisto to meet The Rowan, and thank her for her help. They have an instant connection, and know they are meant for each other. Due to the mindmeld with all the other Prime Talents in the Nine World League, they already know each other intimately, even though they are still strangers.

Of course Deneb has to pay heavily for the help they have gotten, and thank to the weeks of attack, and the fact that 2/5 of their young population has been killed, they are virtually bankrupt. Jeff has been drafted by Earth Prime, but Deneb has not yet earned the privilege of their own Tower with a Prime. Will their relationship last, when The Rowan is unable to travel to her beloved?

I’ve read this series so often now, and I still highly enjoy it. Especially this book. And I absolutely adore that cover! Every time I read it, I stare at it for a few minutes.

The book is divided in parts, detailing a part of the life of The Rowan (Rowan for short). Her childhood and youth, her time on Calisto, the Deneb part, and of course, the last part ;)
You have to love and admire Rowan, she is such a great character, such a strong little girl to cope with everything that comes on her path. Her path is not easy, and often very lonely. With the small exception of her onetime summer fling, at 18.

If you like sci-fi with some romance thrown into it, with great characters, I heartily recommend this series. Totally no need to read the Pegasus series first. Anne McCaffrey has a very distinct writing “voice”. Very descriptive, a great pace, the books are never boring, though sometimes a little too much techno talk for me to follow.
I know, I am turning into a book pimp. Just wait for when I will be re-reading and reviewing the Pern series (again!).

10 stars.

New additions to my addiction

I have gotten some more books to display on my shelves:

Signed by Marliss Melton: Seal of my Dreams. And with a bookmark!
Laurell K. Hamilton - Divine Misdemeanors
Susan Krinard - Starcrossed
Bertrice Small - Betrayed

(but more are on their way ...)

maandag 28 november 2011

Anne McCaffrey – Pegasus in Space

The third book in the Pegasus series, published April 2000. So this one is written 10 years after part 2, and 37 years after the first book! No wonder it has a few discrepancies in it. Not really disturbing, but reading them back to back, I noticed. My book cover is much more pretty than this one!

Pegasus in Space

Peter Reidinger was the most brilliant and powerful telepath and telekinetic yet discovered on earth. He was also barely fifteen years old and a paraplegic who "moved” his body through kinesis. When the telepaths of earth suspected a plot to take over Padrugoi, the newly manned spacestation, they realized they needed his unique gifts to foil the insane plans of Barchenka, the space construction manager, but even they didn’t realise how strong were his abilities to “read” the minds of those about him and move heavy loads over vast distances.

As his career progressed, so his talents increased beyond the dreams of those trying to reach out into space. Peter Reidinger was going to be the salvation of man’s exploration of the stars.

And even as he became the most important man on earth, so his friendship with the tiny orphan girl found in the floods of Bangladesh grew and flourished. For Amariyah too had psychic gifts which no-one, at first, could define. But these “special” people were constantly at risk – hated and feared by the avaricious, the evil and the ignorant, whose constant ambition was to destroy Peter Reidinger and those like him.

This third book mostly continues where the second one ended. We see Peter Reidinger growing up, using to control his vast powers, and using them where needed. Many companies are read to offer him a contract when he turns 18, but Peter is almost obsessed with space, and he really wants to work on Padrugai, and help the Space Agency to build the new outposts on the Moon and on Mars. He has such dreams, he wishes to be able to “lift” whole starships to their destiny, shorting their traveltime by many years. Of only he could, and if there were more telekinetics with his abilities …
He has no idea how to explain what he is doing, when he is using gestalt, a generator to amp his psychic powers. And so far, only General Johny Green has accidentally found out for himself.

The bad guys encountered in the second book are being punished with labor for the rest of their lives, but they sure are not idle. They want revenge, and they will use whomever they can to get it. Peter hates being under guard almost all of the time, but it is necessary to keep him safe, even while he is doing his dream work, in space.
Yes, Peter has big and very important dreams, but can he make them come true?
The little Amariyah also comes to live at Dorotea’s, and becomes like a little sister to Peter. She is totally focused on gardening and has a real Talent for that. Something Dorotea enjoyes, as she loves gardening herself. But Amariyah has more Talent than for flowers and plants, as Peter finds out for himself after he has had a severe accident.

I devoured this book, again. I really like the characters Anne McCaffrey has created, the world she has build. And yes, I have dived in The Rowan immediately after finishing this one. No matter how many shiny new books are on my shelves, wanting to be read. I just have to read this series again first. Luckily, re-reading usually is a lot faster than reading a book for the first time. New details catch your attention, which is fun and give more insight in the story.

This book is mostly fast paced, lots of action, but also lots of technical talk, of which I don’t (want to) understand anything. Physics was not my best subject at school. I think this is a book or series you can share with your boyfriend/husband. Only a little dash of romance, and lots of spaceship / spacestation things.

8 stars.

zondag 27 november 2011

Anne McCaffrey – Pegasus in Flight

The second book in the Pegasus series, published October 1990.

Pegasus in Flight

Earth has reached its darkest moment. In subterranean warrens, the poor eke out precarious lives where jobs are scarce and children are sold for labor – while on the surface, a privileged few enjoy lives of luxury. As the population surges and unrest spreads, a disaster of epic proportions seems inescapable. The only hope: a platform under construction in space from which starships will be launched to colonize distant planets. But the project is critically behind schedule.
In the midst of the chaos, Rhyssa Owen and her fellow Talents – telepaths who read minds, kinetics who manipulate matter, and precogs to whom the future is an open book – struggle to survive. Then two children are discovered whose extraordinary psychic gifts have the potential to avert the looming catastrophe – or hasten its ominous arrival …

This second book in the series is published 27 years after the first one, and I have to admit, even though the technology used is again outdated by reality, I liked this one a lot better. It takes place many decades after the first one. It tells the story of Rhyssa Owen, the current director of the East American Center, some of her staff, and two young Talents. How they are discovered, and finally found, and brought “home”. Both their stories are not easy ones.

People are only permitted to have one child each, as the world is severely over populated at the time. The world has committed to build a huge shipyard in space, to launch spaceships, to populate new worlds. Lots of people are drafted to work there, but the Talents have tried it, and can’t cope with the bad conditions in space. Too small accommodations, and to much noise, and bad rations. Space Station Construction Manager Ludmilla Barchenka is not buying that nonsense: there is no sound in space! But she doesn’t believe in psychic noise. And why cannot the kinetics work for more than 6 hours a day, just like everyone else conscripted to the project?

Peter Reidinger got severely injured when a wall collapsed on top of him, while he was running away from a gang. He is paralysed, can only move his head. But his Talent awoke out of pure necessity, and he is discovered as the strongest kinetic ever found. He learns how to use his talent to move his own body, to walk and eat like there is nothing wrong with him. He also uses generators to amplify his talent, so he can lift the heaviest things imaginable. Like a whole spaceship!

Tirla is a young illegal girl, living in one of the huge Linears, that houses millions of people of all ethnical races. Her mother had one legal child, a son, who got legal ID. She also kept having other children, whom she kept and raised illegally, instead of have the medics “tie her off”. When the son died, the next child got the ID, until she sold it. Now Tirla is the only one left of her family, as her mother and other siblings died in an epidemic. She is a very smart girl of 12, capable of looking out of herself, surviving on her skills. She doesn’t know she is a Talent, but she can speak all the ethnic languages around her, interpret for her neighbours, and scrounge a living for her self. When the ID’s of her mother and brother expired, when they did not show up at some determined point, she vacated the room, and went to live underground.
There is a big problem, with illegal children being sold into slavery. To work in illegal factories, as sex slaves, or as organ donors. Tirla is determined not to share that fate! But she does understand why parents have the need to sell their children, to have some extra credits to buy stuff and food, to feed their other children. It is just how it has been done for ages.

When the Talents find out however, when a lot of young abused bodies wash ashore, they are horrified, and will do everything in their power to put a stop to this. The authorities have no idea there are so many illegal children in the Linears, they have not enough people to search it all, or find out before the mothers give birth. Illegal people are send to work at the space station, but what are they to do with the babies?

I liked both Peter and Tirla, for being such strong characters. Peter for learning to live with his Talent instead of a healthy body. And Tirla for managing on her own so well. Even when she gets everything she could not even dream of, she chooses differently.
Also, the other main and secondary characters are great, and the evil and bad ones, are really loathsome. I was very happy they got what they deserved.

I enjoyed re-reading this book and I will dive right into the third one, Pegasus in Space. Anne McCaffrey (who has passed away very recently) was a wonderful author, with a great talent of creating worlds and characters you have to love. There is always a tiny bit of romance in her books, which I love, but it is the journey, the adventure that I love to read about. I really do wish I had some psychic Talent and could go live in that world.
Anne McCaffrey has a beautiful writing style, easy to read, and very well paced. Clear descriptions of things and people, a wonderful sense of humor.

I am very glad I have all of her books, and I love all of her worlds, well, exept Doona, and I will give that one another try someday.

8 stars.

zaterdag 26 november 2011

Anne McCaffrey - To Ride Pegasus

The first book in the Pegasus series, published 1973.

To ride Pegasus

They were Extraordinary Women.
Who read minds, healed bodies, diverted disasters, foretold the future – and became pariahs in their own land.

Molly … was a nurse, whose hands could heal far better than the most modern medical treatments.
Charity … a hooker with a heart of gold and extrasensory skills that put her other talents to shame.
Barbara … could locate a crook on the lam as easily as she could find a missing pair of glasses, and she could also drive the Police Commissioner right up the wall.
Dorotea … a perfect baby in every way… and a little more perfect in some ways since she could screen others for hidden talents while she was still in diapers.
Amalda … at 22 she had the voice of an angel and the as yet untrained powers to broadcast emotions that could control thousands … in the wrong hands, she could become a lethal weapon.

They were the Talented, an elite cadre that had stepped out of the everyday human race … to enter their own!

This book is the first in the Talented series, where humans acknowledge paranormal talents, and can scientifically prove they exist. This first book is a collection of short stories, focusing on different characters and powers. I have read it multiple times, and love the spin-off series most of all. Talent is in children’s shoes in this book, but it becomes so much more. But do keep in mind, the book is written in 1973, so what then was though of as state of the art technologies, has been old fashioned for many years.
You would think the book is focusing on the female characters, but I find it more focusing on the leading male characters, the ones in charge of the new Center.

I love everything Anne McCaffrey has written during her long career, which sadly has ended this past Monday, November 21, 2011. I will miss her. I was still looking out for new books, and I am sad that the series she was working on will not be finished. I plan on re-reading some of my favourites soon.

8 stars.

vrijdag 25 november 2011

New additions to my addiction

This week I have received:

Julia Quinn - Just like heaven
Jude Devereaux - Scarlet Nights
Sabrina Jeffries - To wed a wild lord
Laurell K. Hamilton - Swallowing Darkness
Gini Koch - Altien Tango, signed! and with signed swag. Lovely!
Calender 2012 Nene Thomas (yeah, I got one of only 3000!)

But, I have been stupid again, to buy a book I already have. I meant to buy the latest one, which I did need, but I bought Laurell K. Hamilton - Swallowing Darkness again. Is there any one of my followers who would like this book? Remember, it is the 7th in a series and you cannot read it as a stand alone.

Lisa Kessler – Across the Veil

This very short novella won the Paranormal Authors Fight Club, hosted by Angie Fox, in 2009.

Across the Veil

Princess Talia from Summerland has been hiding across the veil in the human world for the past five years. Starring in a hit television show as human actress, Natalie Thurmont, her charmed new life is shattered when the past comes knocking on her door.

Faery Princess Talia fled the Summerland, when her boyfriend Keth broke her heart. She is supposed to be engaged to his older brother Faldo, but she can’t stand the man. But to have an affair while engaged, is a very big crime in the Summerland.
What she doesn’t know, is that Keth did it for her own good. Faldo has seen them together, and he will have them both killed for that, if Keth didn’t give her up. But now Faldo has found her, and he wants her to find Keth for her, or else he will bring her back home, to the Summerland, across the Veil.
Talia didn’t know that Keth followed her to the human world, why hasn’t he contacted her? She is a very wellknown actress, surely he would know how and where to find her if he wanted? So she uses some faery magic to summon Keth to her.
What Talia also didn’t know, is that Faldo has tried to kill his brother Keth for years now, by sending vampires through the veil. But Keth is a good warrior, and he has defeated them all.

But of course Faldo cannot be trusted to keep his word …

I was asked by the author to read and review this story.

Which is not an easy thing for me, to review a story of only 30 pages. I like the writing style, and the story itself is nice and original. You don’t often see a combination of feary and vampires.
I know 30 pages is not much to give a lot of background on the characters and worldbuilding, but I really would have liked some more of it. Only a few sentences would have been enough. Why the hate between the brothers, even before Faldo caught them? More about the vampires, where do they come from? What was Faldo’s reason for the things he has done? What I could not believe, was how quick Talia forgives Keth for everything. Okay, 30 pages, but still.
The ending sure was a surprise, nicely done, and I liked that, but again, very short and abrupt.

Hero: a bit disappointing
Heroine: too sweet by forgiving the hero, but a kick-ass Princess, which I liked
Secondary characters: evil
Romance: too short a story for that
Plot: good
Heat-level: not really there, a kiss and some groping
Writingstyle: good
Summary: I certainly would not have minded to read a much longer story.

Because I do have lots of questions left, and did not get a chance to like the hero of the story, 6 stars.

But I do think this is an author with a lot of promise, so I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a full length novel by her.

donderdag 24 november 2011

Victoria Laurie – What’s a ghoul to do?

The first book in the Ghost Hunter Mystery series, published April 2007.

What's a ghoul to do?

M.J., her partner Gilley, and their client, the wealthy, de-lish Dr. Steven Sable, are at his family's lodge, where his grandfather allegedly jumped to his death from the roof-although Sable says it was foul play. But the patriarch's isn't the only ghost around. The place is lousy with souls, all with something to get off their ghoulish chests. Now M.J. will have to quell the clamor - and listen for a voice with the answers...

M.J. and Gilley have a ghost hunter business. M.J. does the actual ghost part, while Gilley stays safe in the van, monitoring her as best he can. He is terrified of ghosts. They have been best friends for ages. As the business is not going so well, as M.J. has stopped giving readings to people, he is urging her to take the next rich client. Dr. Steven Sable’s grandfather has died a few months ago, and the police have ruled suicide. But Steven doesn’t believe it. His grandfather was a very positive person, and was taking care of himself.
Steven wants M.J. to come with him to the hunting lodge, and talk to his grandfather. M.J. refuses, she doesn’t want the client with her when she is confronting a ghost, that will only be a disaster. Later that night, M.J. gets set up on a blind date, and low and behold, the date is Steven. Who first insults her, and then tries to make it up to her by cooking her a nice dinner. She finally agrees to taking the case, and Steven with her.
The so called hunting lodge is a huge mansion, on a lot of acres of woodland. She will need Gilley to help her out inside as well, scared or not. But there are more ghosts around, someone pushes Gilley from the stairs, and both Steven and M.J. see Andrew Sable.

The ghosts are not the only scary characters in this story. Someone is following them around, there have been some burglar attempts at Steven’s house, and now a murder attempt on the two of them! And what is Steven’s estranged father doing all around town? It was Steven inheriting the estate of his grandfather, including the hunting lodge (or mansion), so why is his dad so interested in real estate?

After enjoying the Abby Cooper – Psychic Eye books so much, I was eager to start this new series. I already met M.J. in one of Abby’s books and liked her. But I have to admit, I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series. M.J. is very good at what she does, but in private, she is not such an interesting person, very careful not to get hurt. Her partner Gilly is gay and a very good computer hacker, but also very scared of the ghosts they hunt, and which M.J. puts to rest. But the major thing that kept irritating me, was the client, dr. Steven Sable. His background is Argentina/German, and his English is not good. He kept saying the wrong things, and M.J. keeps correcting him, and giggling a lot. And it just irritated me more and more. Sure, he is very goodlooking, but he is not my kind of hero.
At first he doesn’t believe in M.J, although he wants to hire her. Not like she is offering her services to him. And then he keeps questioning everything she does, interrupting her when she is busy. And he keeps making advances, while M.J. wants to wait till after the case, and has to keep him at bay. She needs to go slower.
So, when at the end of the book, it is clear he will be part of the business, I was not happy, as I was hoping for the end of Dr. Steven. New book, new case, new people to meet after all.

What I did like, is M.J.’s pet parrot. A very talkative one, she takes with her on the trip.

I did like the explanations of the ghosts, and how they can appear. How M.J. puts a horrible poltergeist to “rest”, and helps other ghosts cross over. How she carries messages to loved ones, that gives them peace. The mystery part was not so very difficult to figure out after all, but I liked the story. It’s just the characters I can’t connect with. So little background on any of them, except for Steven, as we learn more about him and his family.
Also, both his grandfather and father have not been keeping their marriage vows, both have had mistresses, with children. And the characters seem to find that perfectly normal, as the wives are not nice women.
I still like the writing style, which is fluent and action filled. I really, really will never do what M.J. is doing, staying in a haunted house at night! I love how she is not afraid, and both Steven and Gilley are. Some ghostbusters!

So, a good story, well written, but I just don’t like the characters.

7,5 stars.

woensdag 23 november 2011

Gail Carriger – Soulless

The first book in the Alexia Tarabotti series, published October 1, 2009.


Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations. First, she has no soul. Second, she's a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.
Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire -- and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.
With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London's high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

SOULLESS is a comedy of manners set in Victorian London: full of werewolves, vampires, dirigibles, and tea-drinking.

I was hesitant about reading this book/series, as it is classified as steampunk (and other things), and on the book itself it says fantasy/horror. But I have read so many enthusiastic reviews about the series, I had to try it. And I am certainly not sorry to have taken the plunge.

Gail Carriger has created a wonderful world, set in Victorian times, but it is shared with vampires and werewolves, who are also welcome in Society. It is believed that he few humans who can be successfully turned into a werewolf or vampire, have an excess of soul. And all the humans who die shortly after the transformation, had just a normal soul, or just too little of it. Scientists have been trying to find out how exactly, and how to measure a persons soul. Which is very important to both the vampires and werewolves, as they would like to expand their species. Very little females are transformable, so their role in both the vampire as the werewolf world is much more important than as a mere human woman.
And then there is that very rare soulless person. Alexia Tarabotti is one of those. When she was six years old, a nice man from BUR, the agency that registers and controls all the supernatural beings, told her she was preternatural, soulless, and what it signifies. It is not that she is undead or so, she just has to work on her personality, and sense of right and wrong. So she studied hard ever since, being interested in science, so unlike her mother, stepfather and two stepsisters. Her own father was soulless as well, and Italian, which gave her her dark complexion and big nose. But he died when she was very young, so he did not have the chance to teach her anything.

Being soulless means that she cancels out the supernatural powers that make a person vampire or werewolf. When she touches a vampire for instance, his fangs disappear, he cannot bite her, and his superstrenght diminishes as well. A werewolf would change back to being human. But only for the time she touches him.

Due to her looks, her mother found it not important for Alexia to have a formal coming out, so at age 15, she was practically on the shelf. Not that she minds that very much, she has her fathers library, and her own pursuits. She prefers visiting the libraries instead of the balls she has to attend with her family. When the book starts, she is enjoying some tea she ordered from the butler. Normally a very rude thing to do, but there were no refreshments at all in the ballroom, and she does like her tea and foodstuffs.
Her solitude is interrupted though by a young vampire, who tries to bite her. When that doesn’t work he is confused, by keeps trying. Strangely enough, he seems not to know who or what she is. And Alexia knows that all the vampire hives have been informed about her existence. In the days of old, the preternatural hunted down the supernaturals, but that is a thing of the past. There are far to few preternatural beings left, as they don’t tend to get old.

When the vampire keeps attacking her, Alexia has no choice but to defend herself, for which she uses her beloved parasol, and a sharp wooden hairpin. She even accidentally kills him. And at that point some dandies discover her near a dead body, so she does the only reasonable thing left to her: she screams in horror and faints.
Then Lord Maccon, Alpha werewolf of London and surroundings, and head of BUR and his Beta, Professor Lyal enter the room, and Alexia has to tell what happened. Alexia and Lord Maccon have been rubbing each other the wrong way before, so Alexia is not very polite (which of course I like!). She wants to work for BUR as one of their agents, but as a young lady of the ton, that is just not done.
Where did this vampire came from? Malnourished, and without any manners or knowledge of the vampire world? All new vampires are registered, and there are even parties when someone is successfully transformed.

Alexia is also good friends with the rove vampire Lord Akeldama, a real dandy. Which is not to the liking of Lord Maccon, who is developing feelings for Alexia. But treating her as an alpha female werewolf is not working, as she does not know the rules to being one. She definitely is an alpha female, but not a werewolf! Professor Lyal is very much amused by it all, and gives his alpha some tips. But can an alpha werewolf grovel?

As I wrote before, I really like the book. The steampunk angle consists of little gadgets, which I loved. Like the ability to make tea inside a carriage. Or special glasses. Airships like balloons, but with more technology. It is certainly not taking over the story. And the horror, well, the part were the new vampires (and automatons) are “made” is not a happy place, but to name that horror is a matter of taste. I didn’t mind it, and I really hate anything scary.

I like Alexia. She is very outspoken, and knows what (and who) she wants. Her family is just a bunch of silly people, who are no match for her. Lord Maccon is also a great character. He has his hands full of her, but that is just what he likes.
One minor point was for me, how they kept harping that she is not pretty. Her skin is too tanned, her nose to big, her curves too round. No, she is not an English rose, but she has a great personality, and is very intelligent. Which is much more important. But her family really cut down her self confidence by constantly mentioning it in one way or the other.

I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series, as I enjoyed myself with this book. A very original story.

9 stars.

dinsdag 22 november 2011

C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp – Hunter’s Moon

The first book in the Tales Of The Sazi series, published December 2004.

Hunter's Moon

Sue Quentin has reached the end of her rope – she’s desperate, and there’s only one way out: death. Her plan doesn’t include falling for Tony, the mysterious hit man she hires. He listens when she speaks and somehow convinces her that maybe her problems aren’t entirely insurmountable. He even thinks her little potbelly is sexy. So he’s a werewolf – everyone has flaws!
Sue enjoys being coddled by Tony, and, for his part, Tony likes the way Sue moans when he touches her. She begins to think she and Tony might have a shot at a future together, despite his unorthodox profession … and even though she doesn’t know his real name.
But when Tony’s enemies – not all of whom are fully human – decide Sue makes a perfect target, will Tony risk letting his darker side out during the day to save her?

This book comes with a recommendation by Laurell K. Hamilton on the cover and the back, and as I love her books, I had to read it. But I really have no idea what I think of this book. It sure is different from other urban fantasy or paranormal romance.

The whole book is told from the perspective of Tony, an assassin for hire. He was raised in the Family and is very loyal to them, especially Carmine, the boss. When Sue tries to hire him, to kill her, he is intrigued. He has only been a werewolf for a year now, and is still learning what it all entails. He likes how she smells, and so does his wolf. Tony agrees to listen to her story, for a fee. But not in this bar, he will take her to his hotelroom.

What he doesn’t realize, is that it is close to the full moon, and he will have to turn into a wolf soon. He wants Sue out before that happens, but she is stubborn, and totally not afraid of him, in neither form. She even takes care of him during the night, feeding him. The next morning he is surprised he did not attack her, he normally never remembers things from his wolf periods. But now snippets of memories are coming back to him.

Sue’s story is riveting, as she keeps telling parts of it. Her family has never appreciated her, cared for her, only used her. And since she has won the lottery last year, that has only gotten worse. They demand money from her, her mother doesn’t want her to have a life of her own, her sister stole her fiancée from her (weak man of course!) and they expect her to do whatever she can to make their lives more easy. Without any thought to her, or thanking her. And she is so tired of it. She bought her mother an enormous luxury apartment, but her mother wants to stay with Sue herself, so she injured herself on purpose, refuses a nurse, so Sue has no choice but to tend to her. Sue of course is a weak character, to allow that all to happen, to take the easy way out when she cannot handle it any longer.

Thanks to Tony, she is getting a backbone, with the help of some of his friends and a good therapist. But it is not easy, and she certainly does not change overnight.

In the meanwhile, the bond between Tony and Sue keeps growing, turning into a mating bond, and Tony has no idea what is happening, why he can see through her eyes, hear her talk to other people when he is miles away. And it is going both ways! Does he risk losing himself in her? But he also cannot deny her anything. He doesn’t need her money, he makes enough for himself being an assassin. And Sue knows what he does, it is why she sought him out in the first place. But can she really live with it, when she is a witness?

Only in the end, Tony learns about the world of shapeshifters, or Sazi, and that there are rules and laws to obey. And it is a very interesting world, I want to learn more about.

I have read this book in bits and pieces. It could not really hold my attention, but I also needed to read more. I still have no idea what to think of it. I could sympathize only a little bit with Sue, I find her weak, and I love books with strong female heroines. And for an assassin and mafia guy, Tony is too nice. He gives in to her, and her feelings, even when he has a job to do. So now I have finished the book, and I really have no idea what I think of it. It is an interesting world, I give you that. But I could not get real feelings for any of the characters. There are fun parts, which I like, and the world of the Sazi is interesting, and I want more of it. But this particular book? I don’t think I will re-read it.
I like the writing style, and the world building, and the idea behind it. Really strange to read from the male perspective.

For now, 6 stars.

This book meets my personal reading challenge, of reading one book a month that has been on my shelves for over a year.

maandag 21 november 2011

Laurell K. Hamilton – Merry Gentry series

Published between 2000 and 2009.

A kiss of shadows
A caress of twilight
Seduced by moonlight
A stroke of midnight
A lick of Frost
Swallowing Darkness

The past week I have immersed myself again in the wondrous world of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series. It is one of my comfort reads, I absolutely love this world. So, instead of writing a review about each book, I will write a series summary.

The lands of faery have been residing in the United States ever since the last war between the courts in Europe. They have gotten sanctuary from president Jefferson on two conditions: no war upon American soil, and they are not allowed to be worshipped as gods. The sidhe have willingly given up much of their power, but lately they have been fading. The objects of power have disappeared, and they themselves have diminished in power, and in fertility. The last child born to the sidhe was Princess Meredith Nic Essus, 33 years ago. Her aunt is Queen Andais, of the Unseelie sidhe. Her father was her beloved brother, until someone killed him when Merry was 16 years. Her mother belonged to the Seelie sidhe, and their marriage was only based on politics. Meredith’s uncle is King Taranis of the Seelie sidhe.
As Meredith does not only have both Seelie and Unseelie bloodlines, but is also part human and part brownie, neither courts wants her. She is just not Seelie enough. Due to her human blood, she is mortal, and they cannot forgive her for that. Centuries ago, the sidhe always bred true, no matter who they mated with, the children would be fully sidhe. But no longer. And there are almost no new children born in either court.

Meredith is third in the line of succession for the Unseelie thrown, and fifth for the Seelie thrown, but neither court want her to ever succeed in that. Meredith doesn’t want the thrown either, she wants to stay alive. And for that reason she fled Faery three years ago, and managed to stay hidden, living in Los Angeles. Due to her human blood, she doesn’t fade away with home sickness, she can survive in the mortal world filled with manmade metal and buildings. Which doesn’t mean she doesn’t miss it. But she likes her new life and her job at Gray’s detective agency. Until some case goes totally wrong, and she is exposed.

Her aunt wants her back at court, and has sent her favourite guard, Doyle, Darkness, to fetch her. Someone else wants her dead though, and he has convinced King Sholto of the Sluagh to do just that. But Sholto has his own agenda, and he wants something else from Meredith. Hunted by both, Merry tries to escape, but you cannot outrun the Darkness. The thing is, Queen Andais is infertile, she has spoken numerous human doctors, and she has to face the truth. If she wants a child of her bloodline on the thrown after her, she has to have Merry back. And so she offers Merry and her own son Cel, who is extremely cruel (like his mother, who is a sexual sadist) the opportunity: whoever gets pregnant first, Merry, or one of Cel’s bedmates, will get the thrown. Merry is to bed as many of the Royal Guards as she can. Merry really does not want it, but she has little choice if she wants to life. And to give up all of fairy to Cel’s sickness, is not something she can allow.

Both the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe used to be deities of nature, but living on American soil has changed that. They ape the humans in everything, in a futile try to be as fertile as they are, embracing monogamy. That was not the way things were before. When a couple produced a child, they are to marry, love or not.

But not all of faery is Seelie or Unseelie, there are many courts. Like the Goblins, and the Demi-Fey or the Sluagh. Merry’s father saw to it that she educated in the customs of each court, and strangely enough, she was more safe at the courts of the Sluagh or the Goblins, then with the glittering court of the Seelie, or the dark court of the Unseelie sidhe. And so she makes alliances with the Goblins and the Demi Fey. In exchange for her blood, they will be her allies, but only for a short period of time.

And so Merry and her chosen guards go back to Los Angeles, trying to make a living, and getting pregnant. But court politics won’t stop with Merry out of faery, the attacks keep coming.

The Goddess is using Merry to restore the magic to Faery, but no matter what happens, the sidhe won’t accept her. She brings back to live the roses, the hidden gardens, old relics and sidhe powers. And still they are afraid of her mortality. The guards however, love her. After a thousand years of forced celibacy, they can have sex again, but only with Merry. At first they don’t care for her, only for the chance to have sex again. But when they get to know her, and that she genuinely cares about them, and all of faery, the come to admire and love her. As Merry is falling in love with some of them. They can’t always keep her safe, they still have to obey Queen Andais. And the Queen hates Merry, hates that she is forced to keep her word, and refuses to see the evil in her only son Cel. O she likes the magic and power Merry is bringing back to her and her court, but it is not dark enough for her tastes. When the Goddess gave Merry the choice to bring back life to the dying lands of faery, she could do so by blood and death, or by sex and life. And Merry, being descendent from 5 different fertility deities, choose life. Queen Andais once had the same choice, and she chose blood and death. She revels in torture and blood and hates Merry’s too bright Sidhe side.

A lot happens in this series, each book has its own battles to fight, and new magics to discover. New men in Merry’s bed, and new enemies, new intrigues.

Yes, there is a lot of sex in those books, and you all know I am not into erotica. But I love those books, and the sex is fitting. Sex is the way Merry can bring back the magic to faery, the powers her lovers have lost, and everything. And of course, she desperately needs to get pregnant. She has to learn to be a real Princess, and perhaps someday Queen. She needs the guards to obey her, and not to be a puppet. So they need to respect her, and her choices. She knows her way with politics, and in the end, her guards are only men, with all their weaknesses and strengths, and to deal with all those different personalities is very tiring and difficult at times. But Merry has to be strong, and has to live with the decisions she makes.

If you like urban fantasy, a bit dark at times, but with a really really great world building, and awesome characters that grow on you, you really should try to read this series. You have to read past all the sex scenes (or enjoy them!) and follow the story itself. Which is just great. The main characters, the secondary characters, all the beings that make up faery, or live outside of faerie. I have read those books at least 5 times now, and they are still fresh and enchanting me. Keepers on my shelf forever more.

10 stars

vrijdag 18 november 2011

New additions to my addiction

I have been very bad lately, bought a lot of books, both new at the Bookdepository, as secondhand. So the books have been streaming in, early Christmas for me :)

I have received this week, from Bookdepository:
Kate Collins:
A rose from the dead
Acts of Violets
Dirty Rotten Tendrils
Evil Incarnations
Mum’s the Word
Night of the living Dandelion
Shoots to Kill
Slay it with Flowers
Sleeping with Anemone
Snipped in the Bud

Robin D. Owens:
Heart Choice
Heart Duel
Heart Fate
Heart Quest

Cherry Adair - Riptide.

and secondhand:
Susan Grant – The star princess
Jane Graves – I goy you, Babe
Jane Graves – Wild at Heart
Jane Graves – Flirting with Disaster
Kimberly Logan – The devil’s temptation
Geralyn Dawson – Her bodyguard
Adele Ashworth – The duke’s indiscretion
Connie Brockway – So enchanting
Jo Goodman – Crystal passion
Ashley March – Seducing the duchess
Kimberly Cates – The wedding dress
Maggie Shayne – Killing me softly
Janet Chapman – Loving the Highlander
Janet Chapman – Charming the Highlander
Carolyn Jewel – Indiscreet
Renee Bernard – Seduction wears sapphires
Stephanie Rowe – Must love dragons
Kylie Brant – Waking Nightmare
Lorraine Heath – In bed with the devil
Kieran Kramer – When Harry met Molly
Mary Jo Putney – Loving a lost lord
Shiloh Walker - Beautiful Girl (extra for free)
Patricia Rice – Merely Magic
Patricia Rice – All a woman wants
Mercedes Lackey – The Black Swan
Nora Roberts – Entranced
Nora Roberts – Charmed en Enchanted
Shirley Damsgaard – The witch is dead
Nora Roberts – Bed of roses
Georgette Heyer – Sprig Muslin

It's not going to be easy to make room for them all, but I love the sight of those stacks of shiny (almost) new books.

zondag 13 november 2011

Yasmine Galenorn – Courting Darkness

The tenth book in the Otherworld / Sisters of the Moon series, published November 1, 2011.

Courting Darkness

We're the D'Artigo sisters: sexy, savvy ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But being half-human, half-Fae means our powers go haywire at all the wrong times. My sister Delilah is a Death Maiden and werecat who belongs to the Autumn Lord. My sister Menolly is a vampire who's dating a gorgeous werepuma, and the godfather of the undead-set. And me? I'm Camille, Priestess of the Moon Mother, married to a dragon, a youkai, and a Svartan. But my dragon father-in-law has decided that he doesn't like having me for a member of the family...

It's Winter Solstice, and Aeval welcomes me into her Court of Darkness. With Morio still dangerously weak from his injuries and Vanzir alive only thanks to my silence, the thought of training under Morgaine doesn't seem as daunting as it did. But then, Hyto returns to shatter my life. Captured and swept off to the Dragon Reaches, can I manage to stay alive long enough to escape, even as Smoky's father intends to break my spirit, then my body?

This story continues right where the anthology Ice Shards ended. Camille, Smoky, Iris and the others have just returned from the icy Northlands, and Camille is looking forward to some rest and warmth and to seeing Morio and Trillian again, her other two husbands. But the moment they arrive at the house, Delilah comes charging out, telling her they need to get to the Wayfarer, Menolly’s bar for supe’s, there is someone there with a message for Camille, causing trouble. So there is no choice but to get back in the cars and head out.
The message contains a warning that Hyto, Smoky’s father, is after her. And after that, they get a call from Chase to come out to Tangleroot State Park, where a rogue Portal has appeared. He is scared of it, something is different from the portals he knows.
Camille and friends also don’t know what to make of it, though Camille senses very powerful Fay magic is behind it, waiting. And then Chase is sucked into the portal, and none of them can safe him. They don’t dare follow him, with no idea of where they will end up. So, no matter how tired Camille is, she and Delilah will have to go to Queen Aeval’s court and ask for help. Chase means a lot to them all, not only because he was Delilah’s first real love. He has become family, like a brother, to all of them. And having drunk from the Elixer of Life, there is no way to predict what he will become.

Aeval agrees to help them out, and comes to the portal with them, but when Aeval sense what is behind the portal, she is afraid. She will not go with them through it, but if they want Chase back, they will have to. So the next day Aeval will force the portal open for them. It is not an easy journey for Camille and Delilah, and they encounter some extremely powerful beings, one of them Herne, Lord of the Hunt. They barely manage to escape to the portal.
Back home, Camille is dead on her feet, and really needs to sleep, but first she and her three husbands engage in some great lovemaking.
The next day, Camille decides she has to confess about what happened in the previous book, knowing Smoky will get crazy with anger about it, so she sends Vanzir away from the house first. And yes, he does, and even wants her out of his sight for now. Which is not a good thing, as Camille gets kidnapped by Hyto.

Hyto takes her to his hidden lair in the Northland, where he abuses and rapes Camille. She has no choice but to obey if she wants to stay alive, knowing he will take his revenge on her family and friends if she escapes.

A lot of things happen in this book, I’ve only told a bit about the first part of the book. Once again Camille is the focus of this book, as each of the sisters tells her own story in the next books. I really like Camille, I love how she dresses, and is a priestess of the Moon Goddess. I only wish Yasmine Galenorn would give some more details about what that entails, perhaps some rituals or something. Camille is half Fae, half human, and a witch. Only her magic backfires a lot, unless she is practicing death magic with Morio, her third husband. She is getting more powerful, and I love her courage.
She survived Hyto, and although the scars are there, both mentally as physically, she will overcome them and enjoy life and love with her three husbands.

Camille also finds out more about her husband Smoky, a half white and half silver dragon. His father is a white dragon, his mother a silver dragon, and of the highest class in dragon society. His father got all the bad genetics of the white dragons, which is the reason he was kicked out of dragon society. He blames Camille for that, and wants to kill his son for marrying her.

The overall plotline of finding the Spirit Seals and fighting Shadow Wing is just a bit in the background in this book, but I am sure it will pick up in the next one.

This certainly is one of the best series I am reading. Yasmine Galenorn proves time and again why she is on my autobuy list. I love her writing style, her characters are so alive to me. When she describes something, like the scenery, it is so vivid, I can picture it before me, wanting to see it with my own eyes. I love all the different characters she creates, the different paranormal beings, how she incorporates elemental beings and mythical beings into her stories. Once the danger the D’Artigo sisters and their friends and allies are fighting, is over, I want to go and live there myself.

10 stars.

vrijdag 11 november 2011

Christine D’Abo – Double Shot

Book one in the Long Shot series.

Double Shot

Coffee shop owner Sadie Long has been lusting after her good friend Paul Williams for years. So she's more than a little intrigued when he invites her to a business meeting at Mavericks, the sex club where he works. While catering an event at the club is not quite the proposition she was hoping for, her business could use the boost. And she can't resist the chance to work closely with Paul in such a sexually charged atmosphere. Enter the club's hot owner, Josh, and suddenly Sadie's fantasizing about being part of a threesome.
Paul has always wanted Sadie, but never thought she'd see him as anything more than a friend. On the night of the party, he and Josh tempt Sadie to reveal her deepest desire—a desire both men are eager to help fulfil.
Giving in to her sensual side, Sadie enjoys a night of mind-blowing sex. But in the light of day, will she lose Paul as a friend, or gain him as a lover?

Sadie and her brother Ian and sister Paige have bought a coffeeshop two years ago, and it is really hard working. Ian manages the coffee shop part, Sadie handles all the baking and the catering on the side, and Paige is the organizer/bookkeeper, and steps in where necessary. Both Ian and Paige are very easy and outgoing, while Sadie, as the middle child, is happy to take a step back into the shadows. A bit shy.
She and Paul have been friends for over ten years now, ever since her best friend Rachel introduced him as her boyfriend. That relationship didn’t last long, and Rachel is very happy married to some one else. Sadie has also been in lust/love with Paul for all those years, but he never saw her as more than a friend he could talk with, take to the movies his girlfriends didn’t want to see. But now things seem to be different.
Paul invites Sadie to do a big catering gig at the sexclub were he works, called Mavericks.
Paul has finally realized why he doesn’t keep girlfriends for long, and not only because they can’t accept his relationship with Josh (Josh is the owner of the sexclub, and they have been close friends for a long time). He wants Sadie. But she has never given him any encouragement that she wants more. So at Josh’ pushing, he invites her to the club, where he takes the first step. He crowds her, teases her a bit, and wants to know her fantasies.
Which of course makes Sadie think of almost nothing else till they meet again. And that night, he promises to make all her dreams come true, if only she tells them. Josh is also a very hot man, and attracted to her. Sadie never believed herself to be attractive like her sister, but yes, both men do want her, and she wants them! Together!
Some really hot scenes follow.
But when Josh and Sadie tease Paul a bit afterwards, he gets jealous and runs out of the room. Will they be able to patch up their friendship?

This is the first erotica novel that I have read, and I am still not totally comfortable with it. Which makes it difficult to write a review. It is not really all the sex that happens, as that is not all that much or different from most romance books. It is more all the talking and fantasizing about it that happens.

I liked Sadie. She works hard, loves her family, and wants Paul. But she is too shy to approach him, and she really doesn’t want to loose or ruin their friendship. And Paul finally takes the first step to upgrade their relationship from friends to lovers, and perhaps more.
Josh really completes the story, and the three of them are just great together. And hot. There is not much background on any of them, the book is not that long, my ebook is 140 pages, and not all of that is the book.
The bits that make me uncomfortable, well, lets say Sadie’s tastes are not mine, but I did not skip those parts.

I like Christine D’Abo’s writing style. It is fluent, and paints very hot pictures. It sure is erotica, so be prepared for a hot threesome, M/F/M and a little M/M. And lots of talking.
So, why did I read the book as erotica is not really my thing? I won this book on Novel Thoughts book blog, and if I did not want to read the book, I should have let someone else win it. But I wanted to try, so I told the author I wanted it. And yes, I will try some more in the future, but not very often.

8 stars.

New additions to my addiction

Some new books found their way to my house:

Robin D. Owens - Heart Dance
J.R. Ward - Crave
Sherrilyn Kenyon - The Guardian

donderdag 10 november 2011

Victoria Laurie – Vision Impossible

The ninth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published July 2011.

Vision Impossible

Abby Cooper's next mission may truly be impossible...
Abby Cooper, the FBI's newest Civilian Profiler, is adding Spy to her resume. The military's digital photography software that captures one's aura- just like Abby can-sits in a drone aircraft that's been stolen. It's a major breach in security as every country's leader can be identified by their aura...
Abby springs into action to stop the criminals before they set their diabolical plan into motion, while making herself a prime target.

Abby and Dutch are drafted by the CIA, the FBI and the military to show their patriotism. A prototype drone has been stolen, which carried new secret technologies. The previous agents send to get it back were killed in a horrible way, and now they need someone with Abby’s abilities to get it back. She knows it Dutch goes on his own, he won’t come back, so she accepts the mission.
But first, a gruelling week of spy training, and meeting with their handler has to be survived. And then, of to Canada posing as an international arms dealer and his bimbo girlfriend of the day. Which is a role not to Abby’s liking, so she quickly converts it to assistant. They need to make contact with some dangerous people, to get to the auction and have a chance to retrieve the new program, or destroy it.

I have to admit it, I did not like this book. Abby is still great, Dutch is still great, the writing style. It is just the story I don’t like. This is no longer a (cozy) sweet mystery series, this really is another spy novel. With a paranormal twist, and some romance. But it is not what the series started out as. I had trouble finishing it. I missed all the secondary characters. And the ending, well, very unbelievable and painful. So no I am going to take a break from reading this author (was the last one in the series for now), and hope the next book will be “normal” PI work again.

8 stars.

woensdag 9 november 2011

Victoria Laurie – A glimpse of evil

The eighth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published July 2010.

A glimpse of evil

Professional psychic Abigail Cooper is about to discover that some cold cases are better off dead...
As the FBI's newest Civilian Profiler, Abby Cooper is using her powers of intuition to help solve a backlog of the bureau's cold cases. But when she's the only one who's convinced that several separate cold cases are related, she'll have to call on every intuitive bone in her body before she's the one put on ice...

Abby and her boyfriend Dutch took the plunge, and moved to Houston, Texas, to work at a new FBI agency, solving cold cases. Dutch will be in charge, with Harrison as his boss, and Abby got the job of civilian profiler. Due to economic trouble, her private practice didn’t give her enough to do lately, so she jumped at the chance of working together with Dutch.
Candice has already moved there, the inheritance she got in the last book making her a very wealthy woman, to be with Harrison, her new love.
Her job is to audit the cold cases, trying what she can find out about them, if they will be solveable after all, and to teach the other FBI agents to use their own intuition more. Needless to say, the other FBI agents are not happy with Abby. Using a psychic, that is just all nonsense! So it takes a while for the other agents to warm up to Abby, and solving a case, and almost getting killed is doing the job. Dutch and Harrison are furious that she and Agent Rodriguez didn’t follow orders. They almost got killed! Abby was not to be talking to witness or anything, they only had to find a car!

So while on suspension during an IA Investigation, Abby and Candice team back up together. They want to solve three cases of kidnapping, where little girls were murdered. They are sure there is a serial killer on the loose, and so far, the FBI has not made that connection. Of course this gets them in even more trouble with their significant others, as Candice has not yet gotten her PI license from Houston, and they are secretly working on FBI files!

Abby is getting a bit burned out, working full office hours for the FBI, auditing cases. When working on her own, she never could handle more than 6 views a day. So doing close to 50 now, is not good for her. Luckily, Dutch and Candice note that too, and they come up with a great solution.

Dave is doing fine, working for his brother-in-law, in construction, he and his “old lady” have even bought their first house together. And Milo is being laid of by the Royal Oak Police! He doesn’t really need the money from the job, and so another officer can keep on working. Will he join the rest of the gang in Houston?

A very good story once again. The suspense was very good, and the plot a real surprise for me. No wonder I kept reading way past my bedtime again. But, the books are getting darker in my opinion. I do prefer Abby working with people problems a bit too instead of crime all the time. There was a lot of danger again.
Candice and Harrison are really in love with each other, but neither can cope with that very well, no matter what Abby keeps saying about it. They stay on the verge of breaking up. So a lot of counselling for Abby. The end of the professional part has me a bit frowning, not sure I like where this is going to lead. Not really a cozy mystery anymore. But the personal ending for Abby and Dutch was so very sweet. Loved it.
So bring on the next book Miss Laurie!

9 stars

dinsdag 8 november 2011

New additions to my addiction

A lovely sight greeted me when I came home from the office this afternoon.

Shannon K. Butcher - Razor's Edge
Yasmine Galenorn - Courting Darkness
Lynn Viehl - Nightshine
and some swag from Lisa Kesller, which I won at Erin Quinn's blog.

Such things really make me happy :)

Victoria Laurie – Doom with a view

The seventh book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published September 2009.

Doom with a view

Business has been frustratingly slow for Abby. She reluctantly agrees to a job with the FBI, putting her at the center of an internal political struggle between two agents. Abby's skills and patience are tested, but when she helps them locate three college students who've mysteriously disappeared, they know she's the real deal.

Her intuition says these weren't random abductions. With her psychic eye wide open she sets out to find a kidnapper.

Due to the economic malaise, both Candice and Abby’s practices are low with work, and income. So when Dutch’ boss, whom they met on the previous case, asks for their help with a case the FBI is stuck at, they agree. They won’t get paid, but they do have the time. Only, the agent in charge with the case, totally does not believe in Abby’s gift, and he treats them with a lot of contempt, even though Abby passes all of his tests. Agency politics are really playing a big role, as this agent Harrison is pulling at the stops out at getting them dismissed of the case. His father was a big wig at the agency, and his uncle still is, and he is on the fast track to becoming one. He plays strictly by the book, and engaging a psychic is really not one of the rules. But he is overruled and has to play nice. Which he really can’t do.

The children from some prominent senators are being abducted, and the FBI can’t find a clue at all. Abby knows the first two are death already, and the third girl is still alive, but not for long! And she feels a fourth kid will be abducted shortly. But who that will be? First they have to find the connection between them, though the FBI thinks otherwise.
Thanks to Abby, the first two kids are found. When they are kicked of the case after that, the parents of the first kid hire them to find their daughter’s killer. And so, they keep investigating, and finding clues which the FBI can work with. It looks like they are finally believing in Abby, until she mentions ghosts. That really took away all her creditability. But of course she is right, and I have to admit, that last scene was extremely scary.

A really good mystery this one. Dutch had asked her to look into the case before, when she was still recovering, but she did not really get any clues back then. This time, she is totally open to it, although Harrison really hampers her with his disbelief and ridicule. She is totally scared of him. Harrison is Dutch’ boss, but Harrison’s boss is backing them up as much as he can. As I said, politics. Which is not Abby’s forte, but Candice really knows how to play them, and anger Harrison the most.
Okay, I did find out a tiny detail before Abby, but the whole case had me stymied. I did not see this coming. It was a bit scary, and suspenseful, and if you really think about it, very sad. Bad parents have a lot to account for. In books, but also in real life.

Dutch and Abby are still going strong, and Candice is my favourite secondary character. Not much of Dave and Milo in this book though. Though, ofcourse, Milo rats them out to Dutch again.

I have to admit, I find the use of all those titles tiring. Harrison wants to be called Agent, and not just mister, or something like that. Special Agent in Charge, Assistant Special Agent in Charge. And the political bigwigs also are called by their office. I don’t believe that is so important here in Holland, but then, I have no personal dealings with people so high up the political foodchain.

I really love this series, and I have two more books to go. And two other series by this author, so I am going on a reading binge for a while longer. I’m really enjoying myself, even though it is sometimes a bit scary (yes, I am a huge scaredy cat). Luckily, my boyfriend is very good at chasing away nightmares.

9 stars.

maandag 7 november 2011

Victoria Laurie – Death perception

The sixth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published September 2008.

Death perception

Abby Cooper's betting the house on her inner eye...
It took a while for Abby Cooper's FBI agent boyfriend, Dutch Rivers, to accept her psychic gifts as the real deal. But these days he knows better than to question Abby's visions. So when his favorite cousin Chase is kidnapped in Vegas, they both catch the next flight to Sin City. Abby's inner eye insists that Chase is still alive, but nothing else about the case adds up - especially Dutch's reluctance to involve his own Bureau.
On top of everything, Dutch is battling a mysterious illness, and Abby keeps having disturbing dreams that predict his death. Dutch wants Abby to promise that if the investigation goes south, she'll head home to safety. But when the chips are down, Abby won't fold without a fight...

The book starts with a sad note with a sad reading for Abby, but quickly continues on a fun note, with Dutch giving Abby a book called Cooking for Dummies, which makes her really mad. Dutch is a gourmet cook, and the only thing Abby can make, is breakfast. Which is more because her little dog Eggy is so fond of eggs. Dave, who is taking his sweet time fixing up the renovations to Dutch’ house, think it funny. He loves the invitations to dinner Dutch keeps giving him, his “old lady” also is not much of a cook apparently. But then Dutch gets a phone call from Las Vegas, and everything changes. His cousin is gone missing when the man he was bodyguarding was kidnapped. So Dutch and Abby immediately fly out for Las Vegas, to help Chase’s girlfriend, and try to find out what happened, and get Chase back alive.
The Las Vegas police detective who got the case is kind enough to let Dutch and Abby into the case, and even take them home with him for dinner, as his wife Nora is a great cook.

Dutch is not feeling very well, blaming the chicken salad sandwich Abby has made him for lunch. And Abby is feeling really guilty about it, especially when she went for pizza with her friend Candice instead. But he refuses to go to a hospital to get checked out.
Dutch is adamant about not involving the local FBI into the case, and he makes Abby promise to go hide out at her sister’ house when something happens to him. Abby doesn’t want to promise that, if Dutch is in trouble, she is needed right here in Las Vegas. But apparently, there are more things going on then he can tell her.

And then Dutch really disappears. Abby tries to track him down through the GPS in his cell phone, but they only find his crashed car at the bottom of a ravine, and a pregnant unconscious woman holding his cellphone in her hand … What happened to Dutch? The only thing her guides can show her, is a tombstone at the foot of an oaktree, that morphs into a palmtree. Abby really cannot imagine what that could mean. But looking at his picture she knows he is still alive, although his time is running out!
With the FBI hard on their heels, his chef trying to blacken his name, Abby, Cat and Candice are trying to get to the bottom of all this, finding out what happened, and how it all ties back to a murder 30 years ago. Luckily, they have Nora to help them, she sure is one tough woman!

A great new novel in a series that really grows on me. I know those will be on my keeper shelf. Abby doesn’t know all that much about Dutch, and when the FBI tells her he is not just an FBI agent, but also owns a private security firm and is worth a lot of millions, she is astonished. Sure, he buys a lot of things, and their hotel room is very expensive, but they don’t just talk about money. It is not like she hasn’t any of her own.
I loved it how Cat and Candice come to her rescue immediately. They pull some really awesome stunts, and together they are great. A lot of Candice’s past is revealed, and that was just awesome. The characters she knows (and who get hunted by the FBI as they are traced).

I really did not see the solution to his mystery, and was nicely surprised by it all.

9 stars.

zondag 6 november 2011

Stephanie Laurens – In pursuit of Eliza Cynster

The second book in the Cynster Sisters series, published September 2011.

In pursuit of Eliza Cynster

Eliza Cynster is on the hunt for a husband, with no potential suitors to be found among the cream of the ton, she knows she must look elsewhere. But her curiosity costs her dearly as she falls into an elaborate trap.
Brazenly kidnapped from her sister Heather’s engagement ball, Eliza Cynster is spirited north from London to Edinburgh. Desperate and determined to escape, she seizes upon the first possible champion who happens along – gentleman scholar Jeremy Carling.
Villains and rescues are a far cry from Jeremy’s area of expertise, yet he cannot abandon a damsel in distress. But danger lurks and hurdles abound in their race to elude the mysterious laird, until a final confrontation on a rugged, windswept cliff reveals what their future life could hold – if both are daring enough to seize and submit to their passionate desires…

Eliza is very happy that her sister Heather has finally found her hero. But her own future is not so clear. With all they Cynster males on the alert for another kidnapping attempt, she cannot go anywhere without an escort from her brothers or her cousins. And they are so totally suffocating her! So when a servant gives her an anonymous note from a gentleman to meet her in the back parlor, she goes. Not expecting anything to happen in a house full of Cynsters, she is not under guard at the moment. And that is when it happens if course. She is drugged, and abducted in moments. She only comes too on the road to Edinburgh. But not the main one, a secondary road where her family won’t be searching for her. And Eliza’s captors are more refined then Heather’s were, keeping her sedated for days with Laudanum, even though the Laird has given orders she is not to be drugged or harmed in any way.
She is given absolutely no chance to escape, or get someone’s attention. And if she would, her captures would just tell the tale that her guardian has tasked them to fetch her home. No one would believe her, and if they did, her reputation would be destroyed.
But just before they cross the border, Eliza gets a little chance. A carriage going the other way has a familiar gentleman driving it! So she presses herself against the window and calls for help! But when the carriage appears to be driving on, her capturers only laugh at her feeble attempt. She is to weak to try anything more, and falls asleep again.
But the gentleman in question, mr Jeremy Carling, brother to Leonore, did recognize Eliza from the time his sister took him to all the balls and parties of the ton. And as he just left Wolverton Castle, he also knows what happened to Heather, and the treat to the other Cynster sisters.
As there is no way to send a message south to warn Wolverton and the Cynsters, he will have to follow the coach herself, and try to rescue Eliza.

At the first stop, there is no possibility to take her away, as she is still too weak from the laudanum. So it will have to happen in Edinburgh, before she is handed over to the Laird. Luckily, he is well known in Edinburgh and has some friends there who will help with the rescue and the escape.

The rescue goes flawless, it is the escape that gives the problems, as Eliza is not a good enough horsewoman. And so, instead of going at all speed back to England and Wolverton, they have to walk, as hiring a gig is not so easy. And of course, they have to evade their pursuers. The Laird, and his henchman who won’t give up even though ordered to.

I really enjoyed this story. Of course, it is a lot similar to the previous book in the large storytelling line, the abduction, the rescue, the escape, all the walking, but Jeremy and Eliza are such different characters, I loved both from the beginning. They are not hero material, Eliza is a quiet kind of lady, not liking to walk or ride, but to play music and embroider. She is not daring like her sisters. And Jeremy is a scholar, not a warrior like the other heroes in Stephanie Laurens’ books. But they get along very well, and I liked how they handled things. Together. As equals, and not one trying to dictate the other.

The description of the country they have to traverse, is lovely and very clear. I could picture myself there easily. The kind people they meet on the way.
And there is a bit more about the Laird who has to capture a Cynster sister to safe his clan. I am very curious about him and his vindictive mother. The abductor himself is scarily fixated though, and gives a lot of suspense filled pages nearing the end. Loved it. (Scared the .. out of me when my phone rang during one of those!)

And even when they finally are home safe, the story keeps interesting, as no one of their extensive family can believe they are a love match after all …

Another good book written by Stephanie Laurens. And I am happy that I don’t have to wait very long for the third book in this series. The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. This will be Angelica’s story and I do believe the Laird is in for some rough times with this very willfull Miss!

If you have never read a Stephanie Laurens book (which I cannot believe if you are a lover of historical romance novels, she has written so many!) what can you expect? A character driven book, not really easy to read fast because of the language, she tends to use long words and descriptions, and a lot of thinking by her main characters. But the story is entertaining, and you will like if not love the main characters. She writes strong heroes and heroines, and I love it that most of them appear in the other books she writes as well. Of course there are some good love scenes, an adventure and a slow bonding between the main couple.

9 stars

zaterdag 5 november 2011

Victoria Laurie – Crime Seen

The fifth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published September 2007.

Crime Seen

Abby Cooper, Psychic Eye, is having a hard time getting over a gunshot wound from her last case-especially because she didn't see the shots coming. Out of work and second-guessing her abilities, she tries to get back in the saddle by helping her boyfriend Dutch with some of his FBI cases. And soon enough, her intuition returns-with a vengeance.

Abby has been recovering from almost dying for three months now. All that time she has lived at her boyfriend Dutch’ small house, hiding away from life. Not doing anything psychic at all. She is afraid her powers won’t work as she had no warning at all her own life was in danger. What if that happens in the middle of a session? And to top it off, Dutch’ cat is making her life hell. And Dutch only laughs at that, but Abby is totally serious. The cat wants her out, and she wants to go back to her own place. She has been living out of suitcases for way too long now.
Then her friend Candice calls, that she is moving in with her grandmother, and wants to rent office space with Abby, as she is starting her own PI firm! Abby is glad, that office space has been vacant for too long now, and she can use the money. Candice also convinces her to join her in the gym every morning at 6 a.m. for a workout, to get back into shape. As she will be working as a PI together with Candice, she needs to be able to outrun the bad guys!
Dutch asks her to look at some of his FBI cases for him, as he is totally stalled on them. Abby tries, and gets some clues for him. Accidentally, there is also another case on the desk, something Milo brought over, and Abby sure gets the info on that one! The guy in prison for the murder, did not do it, even though he confessed to it. And now his parole is coming up, and Milo wants him to stay in prison for his full sentence. After all, it was his former partner who was killed. Milo still feels guilty about that, that he wasn’t there to prevent it from happening. So Abby decides to go investigating with Candice on their own, and present Milo and Dutch with the results. They sure won’t be happy with it.

Abby sure gets in some dangerous scrapes in this book! But I liked it, I can so get into Abby’s head at times, we could be sisters (except for the paranormal part of course). Dutch is great in this book, letting her heal in her own pace, but when she asks for his help in toughening up again, he is happy to oblige her. Only he stands behind his cat …
The mystery in this one was partly obvious (to me), and partly a big surprise for me. But Abby and Candice do a lot of good to people who really need it, even when Dutch and Milo are very angry with them, and they even have to spend a night in jail.

And the end of the book, oooo that was so good! The things Dutch does to get Abby back with him. If you are a sucker for romance, you need to read the last chapter.

9 stars.

vrijdag 4 november 2011

New additions to my addiction

Two new books just fell on my doormat.

Catherine Coulter - The Valcourt Heiress. It has been years since I have read one of her historicals, though I love her FBI series very much.

And a book I won at RR@H NOvel Thoughts & Book Talk blog: Kate Hewitt - Zoe and the Tormented Tycoon. It is signed, and I will have to read it, or I should have let someone else win this. But according to Stella from Ex Libris, those books are sometimes hidden gems behind the awful title.

donderdag 3 november 2011

Ashley Gardner – A death in Norfolk – my first ARC Review

The seventh book in the Captain Lacey series, to be published November 2011.

Death in Norfolk

September, 1817
Captain Lacey travels with Lady Breckenridge to his boyhood home in northern Norfolk only to discover mysterious happenings in and around the Lacey estate. The underworld criminal, James Denis, uses Lacey's visit to Norfolk as an opportunity to have Lacey deliver a message to a local squire. A simple task--but one that lands Lacey squarely in international theft and murder.

Captain Gabriel Lacey is travelling to his ancestral home in Norfolk, as his betrothed wants to see it. He hasn’t been there in 20 years, and has many unhappy memories of the place. His only happy ones are those of his mother, his father was a tyrant and a brute of a man, always punishing them. His father has been death the past 8 years or so, and the place is partly ruined already.
He has also been tasked by James Denis, one of London’s lord of the underworld, to bring a letter to one of his neighbours. And as part of paying his debt to Denis, he has agreed to deliver it. Brigadier Easton is not happy to receive it, he is sure his days are numbered. So Captain Lacey helps him to escape on a fishing boat to Amsterdam. The next day, Denis’ thugs are tearing down the house, looking for stolen paintings Easton was supposed to deliver to Denis. They are also prepared to tear down the Lacey mansion, as it is a great hiding place as it has been abandoned for years. Captain Lacey doesn’t mind overmuch, if only they clear up the debris as well. The house needs to be gutted down before it can be restored.

When one of Denis’ men is found murdered, and his number one man missing, Denis takes residence in Easton House, and tasks Lacey with the job of finding Mr. Collins. He does not want to believe that Collins murdered this other man. Which puts Captain Lacey in a difficult position. He is expected to be social at the house of Lady Southwick, where his fiancée, Lady Donata Anne Catherine St. John, Dowager Viscountess Breckenridge, is residing as well.
But he does owe Denis as lot, so he agrees to go search the countryside and the marshes for the man.

And then, there is a local mystery to be solved when stolen silver from the chapel is found inside the Lacey kitchen chimney. If miss Helena Quinn really did elope with her admirer, and took the silver to finance their life together, why hide it? And how come no one has heard from her since she disappeared 10 years ago? Or is this another one of those village secrets, that everyone knows of but no one speaks about?

Some unpleasant discoveries are also made when his mother’s diary is found. And Gabriel has to face them, and live with them.

Ashley Gardner is another penname for Jennifer Ashley and Allison James. I love the historicals and her shifter series by Jennifer Ashley a lot, they are very well written, and filled with humor and wit and strong heroines, and original plots. I also love the Stormwalker series by Allison James. Have not yet read her other, more “hot” series.
So I am a bit disappointed that the humor I have grown accustomed to, does not appear in this book. It took me a while to get immersed in the story, and I really regret that I have not read the other books in this series first (which are out of print, but available as ebooks everywhere). But I was thrilled to get an ARC of this book.
I do wonder and admire how one and the same person can write so many different toned books.

I did like Captain Gabriel Lacey. He at first appears straight laced, but that is not the thing in the end. He is a wounded war hero, with no means, but his lady set her sights on him, and she caught him. The few scenes between them are nice. Lady Donata is certainly strong willed, she is a widow with a young boy, Peter. Her husband treated her badly, and she is determined never to listen to another man again, or do something because if would make them feel better. As she is very rich, she can do whatever she wants. So to persuade her to do something, is not an easy job. Also, she smokes cheroots, and can beat him at billiards and crocket.
As befits a cozy, the personal relationship is not a focus point in the book, the mystery is. Captain Lacey is determined to find out what he is after. Not only where the missing Mr. Collins is, but also what happened at his house 10 years ago, and with Helena. Even though Denis orders him to focus everything on Mr. Collins, he won’t give up.
As a secondary character, there is his friend Lord Grenville, who helps with the search and with his carriage, when Captain Lacey gets too tired to walk or ride more. Their manservants are brothers, so do they know a lot of what happens even before they meet.
Then there is James Denis, one of London’s lords of the underworld. He certainly knows many things about what happens. He intrigues me, and he does tell some things about his own background. He is remorseless, and cold and determined. Also without a single friend.

The mystery part is very good, I certainly did not figure it out beforehand. Neither story that is.

8 stars.

Victoria Laurie – Killer Insight

The fourth book in the Psychic Eye Mystery series, published September 2006.

Killer Insight

When a childhood friend of Abby's from Denver, Colorado, finds herself short one bridesmaid, it doesn't take a professional psychic to see the opportunity for a much-needed getaway. But one bridesmaid after the next is mysteriously flying the coop, and Abby's intuition tells her their final destination isn't pretty. With the wedding party falling apart and her gift of sight never quite so foggy, Abby has to save the date-and herself from becoming the next taffeta-clad target.

When Abby and her boyfriend Dutch break of their relationship on Valentine’s day, she is heartbroken. So when a childhood friend calls, and invites her over to Colorado for her wedding early, as she unexpectedly needs another bridesmaid, Abby agrees. A change of scenery will be great, and Dave can take care of Eggy, her miniature Dachshund, for her. Elly picks her up at the airport, and drivers Abby over to her great-aunt’s Vivian’s place to stay for the week. Abby is fine with that, she has always liked the old dear.
And wow, Elly’s brother Duffy sure cleaned up nicely! He is now a sheriff, and he sure needs Abby’s help. Abby soon senses that the missing brides maid did not just up and leaf, she is dead. She won’t bother Elly with the news, she is under enough stress already, a week before the wedding, and she is pregnant! Something nobody knows at the moment, but Abby. So Duffy asks her to keep quiet, and takes her with him investigating.

Abby also senses trouble ahead for Elly’s fiancée Eddy, and Elly is really upset about it. Then a second bridesmaid goes missing, she never makes it to the bridal shop for the fitting of Abby’s gown. At first no one is that worried, but when Abby sees her picture the next day, she is sure this one is also dead. So who is after those girls? And will Elly be safe? And what about the kidnapping Elly and Abby prevented the other day? This serial rapist, did he turn into a serial murderer? Duffy sure seems to think so, but the evidence is confusing at some points. And Abby just doesn’t know. Her senses seem to be a little bit on the fritz.
And although Duffy does console her, she still is heartbroken about Dutch. Why hasn’t he called her yet?

A lot of things happen in this book, which takes place about two months after the previous one. Their parents are still staying in Cat’s expensive guesthouse, and are driving her nuts. So she told them about the wedding, and they are determined to come as well, to meet up with their old friends. Abby sure doesn’t like that! Her parents have never accepted her, and to hear her own mother tell total strangers that she thinks her baby was switched at birth in the hospital, really hurts!
But Elly, Duffy and their parents are behind Abby, believing in her and her gift.
The book starts with Abby dying, so the whole book was a journey to that point. What happened, and who kills Abby? And why? And what happens after that? I know there are more books in the series.

So, another really good mystery, but I did have some idea of the who. The book was really full with suspense and action, and friendship that keeps. I liked Elly and Duffy and Vivian as the main secondary characters, and hope they will turn up again. This book really captured my attention, even more than the previous books, and I do believe they are getting better and better.

8,5 stars (because I did guess correctly).