maandag 30 september 2013

Recommendations from Karin for September 2013.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some friends to give us their recommendation of the month.

Karin: I have read 4 new books in the past month (and quite a lot of old favourites of mine), and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Lion and the Falcon by Eve Langlais
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2. Deception Cove by Jayne Castle
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3. Woman on the Run by Lisa Marie Rice
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The one I can recommend to all Aurian’s readers is however once again an all time favourite of mine:

Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale

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The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant -- and dangerous. He is London's mostnotorious rakehell - a charming, irresistible seducer possessing a brilliantmind and reckless passions. Until, in the wake of a shocking tragedy, he iscondemned to a world of shadows... and madness.Maddy Timms, an innocent beauty of modest birth and simple faith, once shefeared the dashing nobleman who awakened within her feelings she had neverknown. Now she has come to free him from his solitary torment - neverdreaming her warm, healing touch will eternally bind them together in need,in desire... and in love.

This is one of the books that you readers will either be unable to put down or you will hate it after 30 pages or so. I don’t think it leaves anyone indifferent.
Our hero – Christian – suffers what we would term a stroke in this day and age. In his time he is considered mad. In the “clinic” where he is banned to – almost unable to speak, a prisoner in his own body – he meets Maddy again. She is a Quaker and she uses the “old” language with lots of ”thee” and “thou” (which many native speakers consider irritating). She is actually a shy and timid person, but these two together experience a growth of character that is almost unbelievable and yet it feels real. As I was saying before – you either will love this book or you will consider me mad for recommending it. Still – if you give it a try you might be in for a thoroughly good read.

Thanks for the recommendations Karin! I have read Deception Cove as well, and loved it.
So readers, tell me, have you read this book? Do you want to?

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 21 september 2013

Blogging update

I am not going to be able to blog for a few more days. I am very busy at home with some remodelling and organizing, so I just have no time or energy to write some new reviews to post. Choosing new stuff for the house is not something I like doing, I especially hate shopping and I do foresee a trip to Ikea in my immediate future. This is the shop I usually have to be bribed for to enter, but I fear I have to this time. So wish me luck and success.

I have also been away with my boyfriend for a few days this past week, and although the weather was cold and wet, we enjoyed it a lot. We went to Saarbrucken, Germany, a town close to the borders of France and Luxembourg, and the scenery there is just gorgeous, even in the rain. Food was delicious and we just toured and toured and went sightseeing when it was dry.
I alsmost felt like an American tourist from the movies, when we visited 5 countries in one day on our journey back: France, Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium and of course my own Holland. Which is just flat and boring compared to the lovely mountains we visited.

I did read some good ones while on vacation though, and hope to be back in a week or so with a new post.

I wish you all a good time reading great books, and I look forward to interacting with all of you soon again.

donderdag 19 september 2013

Faith Hunter – Raven Cursed

The fourth book in the Jane Yellowrock series, published January 3, 2012.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: strong, I like it.

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Jane Yellowrock is a shape-shifting skinwalker and a vampire killer for hire. But lately, instead of just slaying vampires, she’s been working for them…
The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to Leo Pellissier, vampire Master of the City of New Orleans – and Jane’s boss - they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, Leo sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane.
But when a group of local campers are attacked by something supernatural, Jane goes from escort to investigator. It’s up to her to keep peace in the region, and unless she wants to face a very angry vampire Master, Jane will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny…

Jane is back in her hometown Asheville, North Carolina. On a borrowed bike, she calls Fang, as her own beloved Bitsa is still undergoing extensive repair. Weaponless, as the vamps she works for will transport her weapons to the hotel they will be staying at. Her job will be keeping Grigoire, a Master Vampire working for Leo, the Master Vampire of New Orleans, safe while he is in parlay with the local Vampire Master, Lincoln Shaddock, who wants to become a Master of the City himself. Grigoire has taken his favourite two Bloodservants with him, the twins Brian and Brandon. Jane likes them, and they are good at what they do.
Becoming a Master of the City means ruling his own territory, with his own scions and hunting rights and cattle (meaning humans). For this, he needs Leo’s permission. Grigoire is to investigate Lincoln and his scions, especially as his youngest scion only took two years to come out of dovoveo, and became sane again, while the average amount of time is 10 years. This sounds very promising for Lincoln’s powers as a master vampire.

Jane is happy to be back in her beloved Appalachian Mountains, able to see her best friend Molly again. But the relationship is not as good as it once was. Molly’s husband, Big Ethan believes Jane responsible for putting Molly and their kids in danger, and as Jane agrees with him, she can’t blame him for not wanting her in his house. But she does miss the dinners at their home, the contact with little Angelina, her goddaughter.

The some werewolves start killing campers in the mountains, and the sheriff blames it on the vampires. Jane is called in to investigate, and she recognizes it as werewolf attacks. Following the scent trail, she recognizes the two werewolves who were not killed with the rest of their pack, as they were in jail at the time. Apparently, they were let loose, and now they are trying to rebuild their pack by turning other humans. Biting the women, killing the men. But Jane also smells the grindylow, but something is just wrong with the smell. And why hasn’t it killed the two werewolves yet, this was not their first attack. The grindylow’s job is to enforce shifter law, and kill any shifter trying to infect humans.

Her lover Rick is also camping in the mountains, with Kem, the leader of the African Were Cats, who is supposed to help him change into his new cat form. So far it has not happened yet. What Jane doesn’t know, is that Kem blames Rick for his wife wanting to run of with Rick, and he plans to kill Rick right after his shift. Afterall, the grindylow killed his mate, and now he will kill Rick as revenge. But shifter law prohibits him from doing that before Rick has shifted. Rick’s tattoos are preventing the shift, but he does show a lot of cat traits. And he still wants Jane, and doesn’t mind what she is, or her claiming him as her mate in front of Kem.

Lucky for Jane, she has Derek and his team working with her on security detail, as Leo wants her to find the killing werewolves and bring them to justice. The Shifter coalition has sanctified the kills.

Something strange is going on with Evangelina. She was acting strange already while living with Jane in New Orleans, but it has gone worse. She is looking younger and prettier, and has lost weight, like she has a personality overhaul. But Jane senses her weaving magic on her coven sisters and Molly, and that is against witches law. The scent of vampire and werewolf is strong on her as well. And when even a little toddler asks her help against Evangelina, Jane knows she has to act. She has to convince Molly and Evan first, that Evangelina is using bloodmagic. But why? And how do they banish the demon in her basement …

And who is the Master Vampire who has sent his blood servants out to kill Jane?

This series just keeps getting better and better. The world keeps being built upon, and I keep having the feeling that I am missing an important prequel to the series, where Jane and Molly and her coven meet and fight vampires together.

This book is completely action filled. Jane is travelling all over the place, keeping track of the negotiations, helping in the search for the werewolves, both in Jane and in Beast form, keeping in touch with Molly and her sisters, and even making friends with a lonely female vampire. Jane learned only a little bit more about her own past, and none of it good. A guardian angel is introduced, and he helps fight the demon.
I loved it all, and was completely lost in this world for hours at a time. Especially the action at the end of the book, that was awesome.

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 18 september 2013

Kat Richardson - Greywalker

The first book in the Greywalker series, published October 3, 2006.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: dark, fitting the story.

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Harper Blaine was slogging along as a small-time P.I. when a two-bit perp's savage assault left her dead. For two minutes, to be precise.
When Harper comes to in the hospital, she begins to feel a bit ...strange. She sees things that can only be described as weird-shapes emerging from a foggy grey mist, snarling teeth, creatures roaring.
But Harper's not crazy. Her "death" has made her a Greywalker - able to move between our world and the mysterious, cross-over zone where things that go bump in the night exist. And her new gift (or curse) is about to drag her into that world of vampires and ghosts, magic and witches, necromancers and sinister artifacts. Whether she likes it or not.

I’ve had this book on my shelves for years now, and somehow, I never picked it up. But lately, a lot of people have reviewing the eight book in the series, claiming it to be one of the best there is, so I just had to start reading. I admit I had difficulty getting into the story, liking the main character. About halfway through, it finally grabbed me and then I read the rest of the book in one evening. So I am happy I kept on reading, on the advice of some readerfriends.

Harper Blaine is a PI who did not anticipated getting killed by the perp she was after. But he did manage to kill her, but she was revived in time. Only her life has not been normal since, and she has no idea what is happening to her.
When she complains to her brain doctor about the strange things she is seeing and hearing, and he finds nothing physically wrong with her, he sends her to a friend of his. And this couple does seem to know what she is talking about. There is another dimension connecting the normal world to a paranormal world, where the monsters live. It is called the Gray, and apparently, Harper is now a Graywalker, capable of entering that world.

Harper really does not want to be a Graywalker, she wants to be normal again, and finds it really difficult to believe what she hears. But Ben and Mara and their houseghost Albert really seam to know what they are talking about. Mara tries to teach Harper how to deal with it, but as Harper does not really want to, she is not very successful. As Mara is a witch, and not a Graywalker, she can only look into the Gray, not interact with it, so everything she and Ben are teaching Harper, is theory so far.

Harper has to work her cases as well. A strange foreign customer wants her to locate an old family heirloom, a parlor organ. And through some excellent sleuthing, Harper manages to locate it. But something is very wrong with it ... and with her customer.
A desperate mother has hired her to find her son, and when Harper does, her world just gets more and more strange. Cameron has been made a vampire against his will, and now his maker has tossed him out on the streets, without teaching him how to be vampire. Harper’s new job is to make Edward take Cameron back, but Edward is way more powerful than she imagined. And Harper keeps meeting more and more dangerous people.

She will have to learn the ropes of this new world fast, or die or worse…

But not all is bad, through her investigation of the organ, she also meets an auctioneer she likes very much, but can Will handle the strangeness that is her life? And the guy who sets her up with a fancy new alarm system after two tugs trash her office, seems to be pretty interested in her as well. Quinton is a bit strange himself, but very good at what he does. And he knows about vampires.

A very strange, confusing tale, it took me awhile to start to like it. Harper fights who and what she has become, but also wants to help her clients. She has signed a contract, and she will honor it. I really did like Ben and Mara, and how they are happy to help Harper. Being a Graywalker means that Harper will get sucked into strange cases more and more, as the ghosts and other beings are attracted to her. To them, she is radiant. I liked to be with Harper on her journey of finding out about herself and her supposed powers. She is not suddenly all powerful, she has to learn what she can do, and how. But she is also stubborn and does not give up, and I like that about her.
Will is a love interest for a little while, but I am more interested in the strange Quinton.

This story is a bit darker than my usual Urban Fantasy, but I came to enjoy it and will certainly read more of the books.

7 stars.

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

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 17 september 2013

Donna Augustine – The Keepers

The first book in the Alchemy series, published April 13, 2013.
Genre: urban science-fiction
Cover: different

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Two days ago, Jo Davids was a waitress by night and a college kid by day, with the unnerving problem of objects floating around her. One day ago, Jo's sexy boss, Cormac, noticed her for all the wrong reasons when she witnessed a man transform into a monster in the basement of his casino. Today, Cormac ordered her shot. If he's real lucky, she won't die. Because if she does, all hope is lost.

A few weeks ago, I read a review about this book on I Smell Sheep blog, and it sounded so good and original, I just had to have it. As it is not for sale at my bookshop,, the author was kind enough to send me an e-copy of the book. Of course, this does not influence my review or rating in any way.

I am really disappointed in this book. The premise is very original; I like the idea of ancient Alchemist making a deal with aliens they have met through a portal to other dimensions. The Alchemists got powers from the aliens, and control the portals between their worlds, not allowing the aliens to take over earth from the humans.
But the execution leaves a lot to be desired by me. I would have liked some more data on the past, how it all came about, and what all the Alchemists can do. Then there are Fae, but those are really aliens as well, and our heroine is half Alchemist and half Fae, and incredibly powerful.
Cormac is a rich jerk, who doesn’t tell her much, and keeps trying to teach her one trick that just doesn’t work for her. He is jealous and keeps her sort of locked up in his penthouse suite in his casino in Las Vegas. He is very much alpha, and keeps her too much in the dark. Jo is the heroine, and kind of whiny. She is unable to deal with being abandoned in a church as a baby, and going from foster home to foster home all her life. When she was 18, she bought a new identity for herself, going to med school to be able to find out what is wrong, different, about her. Her magic gets away from her, especially when she is sleeping.
She is also trying to find the church and the priest where she was left as a baby, to try to find out more about her parents. Nobody at the orphanage knew anything, and all the data was burned in a big fire.

And now Jo has finally met other people like her, and she makes no effort at all to be nice and try talking to them. She cannot abide Cormac ordering her around and makes it a point to do the opposite if possible. Okay, I agree with her not wanting to be ordered around, but she could have found other ways. There is this big attraction between them, and one time they almost get into bed together, and the rest of the book is just sparks between them. I understand why she does not want to sleep with Cormac, after he coldly ordered her killed before he knew what she is.

Jo is also jealous of Cormac getting friendly with her one and only friend, but she makes no effort whatsoever to keep in contact with that friend, and to tell her what is happening. That does not make a good friend in my opinion.
Also, she defies Cormac when possible, but when something is changing, she flees for him for safety and signs contracts without having any idea of its meaning. I think she should have waited and heard what was going to happen first and then make a decision.

There is the intrigue of rogue Alchemists working with some aliens on another portal, undermining Cormac’s power and authority. He needs Jo to help him find the guilty ones, and close down their portal. Jo is very na├»ve in thinking she can track down a man called Tracker where all of Cormac’s lackeys failed.
I like my heroine to be stubborn, and self reliant, but not stupid and juvenile. And my heroes need to share more and come across less like a feudal baron expecting blind obeying. The only thing I could see that made Jo fall for him, was his good looks.

So, my verdict. The story was promising, but I dislike the main characters and would have liked some more background. I totally did not care how much or Cormac’s money Jo was spending on clothes in the casino’s shops and what she bought all the time just to irritate and tempt him. I will probably read the second book, in the hope it will improve.

6 stars.

Buy from Amazon: here

© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 16 september 2013

Lynn Viehl - Nightbound

The third book in the Lords of the Darkyn series, published May 7, 2013.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: the green is nice, the guy … not

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Beaumaris of York has many secrets. No human can know that he's an immortal Darkyn assigned to Knight's Realm, the Kyn stronghold disguised as a medieval theme park. And none of his brethren can discover that he's a half-breed, rescued from slavery as a child. Lately Beau has been yearning for action - and he's about to find it with his new mission.
Brilliant archaeologist Dr. Alys Stuart is infamous for her extraordinary theories - especially those concerning the mysterious Knights Templar - and she is unaware that her research is funded by the Kyn coffers. When the Kyn sends a vexingly good-looking man to assist - and protect - her, she doesn't expect the surge of attraction she feels for him.
When a powerful Templar artifact surfaces, Alys and Beau must trust each other enough to stop mankind's greed for immortality from sparking a war between mortals and Kyn that will destroy the world.

High Lord Richard Tremayne is still looking for the Smiths’ jewels. He never stops scheming, and now he has appointed Beaumaris of York to oversee an archeological dig. Beau is sworn to the service of Lady Jayr mac Byrne, Suzeraina of Knights Realm Stronghold in Orlando, Florida. Her Seneschal Aedan mac Byrne is not pleased that Beau is supposed to hunt traitors to the Kyn, renegade tresora in secret, he would prefer a full out battle.

Beau is to protect and aid the archaeologist Dr. Alys Stuart in her quest for the emeralds Richard desperately wants. Alys has the laughed upon theory that the Templars fled to America to escape the French King’s wrath, and that they took some of their biggest treasures with them. Of course Beau cannot tell her that her theories were right, as she would never believe him to be a Knight Templar himself. And now she is hired by Highlord Enterprises for a nighttime dig in Florida. She doesn’t know why they insist she only works at night, but the money is too good to argue. Alys has brought a lot of equipment and some eager young students with her, and she is totally not interested in having a huge man looming behind her, watching over her shoulder while she works. And Beau soon discovers that his Kyn powers don’t work on Alys. But when Richard puts the pressure on, Alys has no choice but to accept him, and she will make use of his great strength to haul equipment when needed.

While the students will sleep in the hotel during the day, the dig cannot stay behind unprotected, and Beau has made a nice sleeping room in the ruins of the old monastery for the both of them. Some of the technology Alys has brought with her astound him, and he is totally surprised that she would share her hot water shower with him, powered by sunlight.
Alys has always been unable to connect with people, more an observer than someone who joins in. She has grown up lonely, and without knowing how to make friends. But strangely enough, she is attracted to Beau, and is not happy that all her young interns are falling over themselves trying to get his attention. They are here to work, as they only have a few weeks to find what they are after.

But they are not the only ones digging near the old monastery and Indian village, even though the property is owned by Highlord. And somehow Alys keeps having nearly fatal accidents. Someone is out there sabotaging her dig, and wants to kill her. And how come Beau can always find her, even when she takes care of disappearing without him noticing? And then there are his strange eating and drinking habits, and his enormous strength…

Alys refuses to give in to her attraction to Beau, until after she finds out the truth about him…

In the meanwhile, back at the Jardin, Suzeraina Jayr is interviewing candidates for the post of her new tresora. And she really likes this Devan Leeds, who lost his master and all his family when the Brethren burned their household in Italy. He is happy to be of service again, and he is very good at his job. Of course, Byrne doesn’t like him or trust him one little bit, and he sets Farlae, the spy master, on his trail to discover the truth about Leeds.
But every time Farlae gets close, something happens to sway him of his course. Which is strange, as leeds is mortal, without any Kyn powers … Farlae’s lover, the fool Rainer, is also not happy with the attention Farlae bestows upon the mortal…

I think someone who reads these three books back to back has more chance to understand the underlying mystery with the emeralds and the Smith who crafted them. His ghost keeps interfering in the lives of his descendants, and he has many. All the tiny threads come together I this third book, and I have to admit, I still have trouble understanding it all.

I liked Alys and her struggles to fit in a normal pattern with people. She really has no people skills whatsoever, but she believes in herself, works hard, and sees a lot. She does not give in to Beau easily, and I liked that in her.
Beau is very curious about this woman who can ignore his Kyn powers, and who keeps ignoring him as a man. She does not see her own beauty at all. He admires her for her work and her sharp intellect, and is ashamed of himself. His shady past, and the fact that he only recently learned how to read and write. He is totally intrigued by all the equipment she has brought with her, and intent on learning how to work with it. Beau is a very honourable man, and I really liked him for not forcing her into his arms. He was patient and waited for her to invite him. Most heroes nowadays just keep pushing, but I guess an immortal warrior learns patience over time.

I enjoyed catching up on Jayn and Byrne and their guests and the intrigue with Devon was fascinating.

NightBound is an action packed story with lots of intrigue and danger. Beau and Alys were totally new to me, and I enjoyed following them around the dig. And I sure would not mind visiting the Knights Realm, a Kyn stronghold masquerading as a medieval themepark. A very clever way to live openly amongst the humans and make money for its upkeep.

I still don’t think this series is as good as the original series, but I liked it enough to continue reading, and hope to get my hands on her totally new and different series soon.

7 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 15 september 2013

Heather Webber – Perfectly Matched

The fourth book in the Lucy Valentine series, published May 15, 2012.
Genre: psychic cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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The heat is on...
When Boston psychic Lucy Valentine finds herself involved with a group of eccentric mediums trying to fine tune their abilities, she is convinced a rare spring heat wave has flushed all the local crazies out of hiding. Adding to her theory is her newest client in the Lost Loves division of Valentine, Inc., her family's lucrative matchmaking firm. He's an animal whisperer who hires Lucy to locate his soul mate - because his cat told him so. Finding his purrfect match, however, isn't as easy as it seems.
But craziest of all is the Beantown Burner, a serial arsonist who is targeting private eye Sam Donahue, brother of Lucy's boyfriend, Sean. With the help of her kooky psychic group, Lucy must tap into hidden abilities to catch the firebug before the fires turn deadly. She never expected to discover that the motive behind the flames hits a little too close to home... and dangerously close to her heart.

With the help of Orlinda Batista, Lucy Valentine is trying to get control of her psychic powers, and develop more of them. So far, is it a bust though, and the other fledgling psychics under Orlinda’s wings are trying to get her kicked out. As an exercise for them, Orlinda has brought with her the teddy bear of a young girl who has been missing for six years. All of them have seen something of what happened, and Orlinda has confirmed it as truth, but Lucy doesn’t get anything. Add to that a Boston heat wave and defect air-conditioning, and tempers are running high.
Preston Bailey, the reporter and Lucy’s new friend, is also there to report on their progress. Her career is coming along nicely thanks to the human interest articles she is writing on Lucy’s Lost Love cases. But these psychics, or as she calls them, the Diviner Whiners, are getting on her nerves. She is also supposed to follow them all at work one day, and today is dr. Paul’s day.

While Orlinda is leaving Lucy’s office, she runs into Lucy’s new client, and they do know each other. Jeremy Cross is a total bad boy from the looks of him, and Lucy’s receptionist, Suz, is totally under his spell. Jeremy is a former student of Orlinda as well.
Apparently, Jeremy is an animal communicator, and his cat Ebbie has told him to go to Lucy and have her find his soul mate. While Sean is distracting Lucy, Jeremy leaves the offices, but he leaves Lucy with Ebbie… and without a way to contact Jeremy.

There is an arsonist in Boston, and so far, all his targets have been familiair to Sean, and his adopted brother Sean Donahue. Why is someone after Sam? Who is hating him so much? And will Sean be the next target? The moment Lucy’s father hears about this, he kicks Sean out of his million dollar apartment, as he does not want it to be the arsonist’ next target. Leaving Sean only one place to go: Lucy’s tiny cottage. This makes Lucy’s grandmother Dottie very happy, as she wants to have great grand children tomorrow if possible, and she has been haunting Lucy and Sean about it for weeks now. Giving them stuff, dropping totally unsubtle hints, and doing everything she can, short of locking them naked in a bedroom together.

So now Lucy has to find an arsonist to keep her boyfriend safe, a missing girl named Bethany, and a soulmate for a dangerous man who does not want to answer her questions of help in any way.

To top it all, a mugger snatches Lucy’s bag, she has visions or nightmares about the arsonist, and Preston claims Dr. Paul is a killer. And something is very wrong with Preston, but she does not want to acknowledge it. Nor does she want to alert her boyfriend, who happens to be Lucy’s halfbrother.

The mystery part took me completely by surprise as I was focuses on another guilty looking party. I was so glad when the mystery around Bethany was solved, and I really do wonder what would happen in real life to someone who did that. The personal life part of Lucy and Sean and all her friends was sweet and good and fun to find out. I really like all the characters, main and secondary, in this series. And I enjoy witnessing them finding happiness.
Lucy is a bit weirded out by her parents new relationship though, and Dottie sure is a grandmother to reckon with. She is spunky and fashionable and meddling and totally loveable.

Lucy is a good person, and she does her best to solve the cases she is working on for the police, even though they sometimes break her heart. It feels good to be able to give closure to a grieving family. Still, she is human and I enjoyed the little revenge she took on Annie Hendrix. I love how she takes in injured animals because her best friend, and vet, asks her. Like Grendel, her three legged cat who has abandonment issues, and the one eyed hamster. And now she just takes in Ebbie.

I do hope Heather Webber will write many more books in this series. The mystery parts are just so very well written, they keep me glued to the pages, but it are the characters who make me love the books.

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 14 september 2013

Susan Wittig Albert – The Darling Dahlia’s and the Confederate Rose

The third book in the Darling Dahlias series, published September 5, 2012. (But I had to wait for the paperback, published September 3, 2013).
Genre: historical cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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National bestselling author Susan Wittig Albert returns to the small town of Darling, Alabama, in the 1930s - and the Darling Dahlias, the ladies of a garden club who aren't afraid to get their hands dirty solving mysteries...

Just in time for the Confederate Day celebration, the Darling Dahlias are ready to plant Confederate roses along the fence of the town cemetery. Of course, Miss Dorothy Rogers, club member and town librarian, would be quick to point out the plant is in fact a hibiscus.
The Confederate rose is not the only thing that is not what it first appears to be in this small Southern town. Earle Scroggins, the county treasurer, has got the sheriff thinking that Scroggins' employee Verna Tidwell (also the Darling Dahlias' trusted treasurer) is behind a missing $15,000. But Darling Dahlias president Liz Lacy is determined to prove Verna is not a thief.
Meanwhile Miss Rogers has discovered her own mystery - what appears to be a secret code embroidered under the cover of a pillow, the only possession she has from her grandmother. She enlists the help of a local newspaperman, who begins to suspect the family heirloom may have larger significance.
With missing money, secret codes, and the very strange behavior of one resident, Darling, Alabama, on the eve of Confederate Day, is anything but a sleepy little town...

(Includes Southern-Style Depression-Era Recipes)

I am a big fan of Susan Wittig Albert books, be they the contemporary cozy mystery China Bayles series, which features herbs, or the Victorian/Edwardian cozy mysteries written under Robin Paige with her husband, or these 1930’s Darling Dahlia books. She is an excellent writer, even though it comes across as slow perhaps at times. Susan manages to capture the time spirit flawlessly, and I could just imagine myself walking around Darling and visiting the shops and the courthouse.

As usual in the small town of Darling, Alabama, there are a few story threads in one book, so you have to follow a few of the Darling Dahlia’s around. The main story evolves about Verna, a very capable woman who handles the Cypress County Probate Clerk Office, and now the Treasurer’s Office as well. Of course her boss, mr. Scroggings is supposed to be doing the job, but he is not at the office very much, and it is Verna who is doing the real work, with mr. Scrogging’s getting the credit. Something is just not right at the Treasurer’s Office, and Verna just can’t figure out what is happening. There was a second audit last week, and the auditor did not tell her anything, but she is sure he has found something. And why has the county 4 different bank accounts, with three of them outside the county? The ladies who have been working there have no idea why, they just did what their late boss ordered them to do, without any questions asked.
So when Verna gets a call from Scroggings, putting her on furlough, with the order to hand in her keys to the office, she gets very suspicious. Is he going to put the blame of embezzlement on her instead of conducting a proper investigation? Of course Verna will not let things stand, she will fight for her reputation and her job. And with the help of her best friend Lizzie, who works for the local solicitor, who is unfortunately out of town for a few weeks, she will find out the truth. Bits and bits of information come in, with the help of the other Dahlia’s and Verna will find out the sordid truth.

And who is telling the local newspaper man, Charley Dickens, gossip from the office, so he can write his scathing editorials about the missing funds for the roads and bridges?

Miss Rogers finally learns the truth about her family, when a horrible cat demolishes the only family heirloom she has, a pillow made by her maternal grandmother. When they discover some strange embroidery on the pillow beneath the cover, it might be code used in the Civil War.

And Abigail Biggs is behaving very strangely lately. But when her hair falls out while in the expert care of beautician Beulah, Beulah discovers the horrible side effects of the dieting pills Abigail has been using lately…

I enjoyed getting back together with all the Darling Dahlia’s and catching up on their lives. The Depression is getting worse, more and more people are loosing their jobs, and the Darling Dahlia’s have started a big vegetable garden to be able to feed their people. But of course they don’t neglect their flowers, their latest project is the Confederate Rose, which they are growing to plant in the cemetery for Confederate Day.

I really dislike mr. Scroggings, whose name makes me associate it with Scrooge. He is a really sleazy man, and I do love that he gets what he deserves in the end, and so does Verna. I really do recommend this 1930’s mystery series. To my totally ignorant opinion, this is researched very well, and told really compellingly. Decent people, trying to survive in times going bad.

A question to my American readers, is this Alabama State Day still celebrated? (on the fourth Monday of April).

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 13 september 2013

Darynda Jones – Death, doom and detention

The second book in the Darklight series, published March 5, 2013.
Genre: paranormal Young Adult
Cover: nice

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The normal part of Lorelei MacAlister's life didn't just slip away quietly the day Jared Kovach came to town. Nope. The normal part of her life shattered. It exploded. It burst into a gazillion shards of fleeting light.

It went out with a bang.
Goodbye normal.
Hello dark and eerie.

While her best friend, Brooklyn, is focusing all of her energy on helping Lorelei hone her abilities, Lorelei is dealing with the reality that Satan's second in command has taken up residence inside her body. Oh, and the fact that she has a crush on the Angel of Death. But what a beautiful death it is. If those weren't bad enough, something sinister has come to town and it wants nothing more than to hear Lorelei's dying breath as it strangles it out of her. Thank goodness the gang has a supernatural champion. But what happens when the only being who can save them switches sides midstream? How can a group of misfits capture one of the most powerful beings ever created? And will they find out how to bring Jared back to them before it's too late?

It has been a while since I read the first book in this series, but I had no trouble remembering the world and the characters, and I did enjoy it a lot. This is why I bought this second book, even though it is over my usual book price. My stepdaughter also enjoys the books, so I will probably buy the third book as well.

Lorelei is still not convinced she will safe the world because she is an oracle, the last descendant of the great seer Arabeth. She is just a young girl, nothing special really. But not only do her grandparents count on her, the whole Order has faith in her. Her best friends Brooklyn and Glitch spend almost all their time at her place when not at school, and Cameron (who was born for the sole purpose of protecting her!) is guarding her day and night. And then there is Jared, also known as Azrael, the Angel of Death.

Lorelei is still angry at her grandparents for not telling her about her heritage, her parents and all the other secrets they have kept from her all those years. And for telling Jared to back off. She is in love with him! Of course he is dangerous as the Angel of Death, but he will never hurt her!
And now her powers are getting stronger every day, she cannot stop the visions from coming when she accidentally touches another student, and their feelings of despair make her very depressed. She is not just watching while she is having a vision, she is living them. And now she also has a new ability, of sinking into the moments before a photograph is taken. Lorelei is learning more and more about herself and her past, and she is not at all happy with what she has found out. She is directly responsible for getting her own parents killed by the demons. And what to think of the demon living within her?

But then Jared is attacked and goes missing for a few days. And when he finally reappears, he is different. Cameron does not trust him at all. And what about that strange new kid at school, Vincent? Something is fishy about him too. Danger is escalating, and the war is near. And Lorelei sees no way to avoid it, and save the world, when she cannot even save herself.

Lots of things happen to Lorelei, none of them good. Lots of action as well. But Brooklyn and Cameron seem to find each other in this book, which is fun to witness. And Glitch is so jealous of Cameron and keeps prodding him. Which is stupid of course, as Cameron is a Nephilim and can kill Glitch with one hand tied behind his back. Glitch seems to have his own admirer, but of course, as a guy, he is totally oblivious about that.

A great YA series, without the heavy teenage angst or love triangle. I do recommend it to all lovers of YA and snark.

8 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 12 september 2013

Jayne Castle – Deception Cove

The second book in the Futuristic World of Harmony: Rainshadow series, published August 27, 2013.
Genre: sci-fi / fantasy romance
Cover: nice, my book has the small picture as cover.

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In the world of Harmony, Rainshadow Island is home to a mysterious preserve, secrets that have been kept for centuries, and a treasure worth killing for…

As a light-talent, Alice North has the rare ability to make things disappear, including herself - a gift that comes in handy during her magic act with her dust bunny Houdini. Business mogul Drake Sebastian is day-blind, since his sight was nearly destroyed in a lab accident. But he's the one man who can see Alice when she disappears - and he needs her.
On Rainshadow Island, two dangerous Old World crystals are missing, igniting a paranormal storm. Drake thinks Alice is the key to finding them, and proposes they head there, but only after a Marriage of Convenience. Alice's honeymoon on Rainshadow is guaranteed to be memorable, as the island - and the passion between her and Drake - is about to explode…

If you have been following my blog for a while, you undoubtedly know that Jayne Castle (aka Jayne Ann Krentz / Amanda Quick) is one of my favourite authors. She has written a lot of books, and I love them all. Whenever a new book lands on my doormat, I have to read it immediately.

Alice North has grown up as an orphan, something really unheard of in a world where family is the most important thing. There are two kinds of marriage, The Full Covenant Marriage, which is very difficult and expensive to get a divorce from, and the “try-out” marriage called the Marriage of Convenience. But when there are children, a Marriage of Convenience is automatically updated to a full CM.

Alice was working in the gift shop in a little museum in Crystal City, when a rich young man tried to sweep her of her feet. She really fell for him, but something kept her wary. Perhaps it really was too good to be true, so Alice refused to marry Fulton Whitcomb in a full Covenant Marriage. She also refused to sleep with him just yet. But he had information about her past, a family she never knew existed, and that was more than enough to seduce her.
Apparently, she is the great-granddaughter of Nicholas North, and she is the heir to his rights of half of whatever of value is found on Rainshadow Island. Of course, after she did agree to the full Covenant Marriage, or if he got her pregnant by slipping her the antidote to her pregnancy preventing medicine, she would not have lived long. Making Fulton her heir.

They went on honeymoon to Rainshadow Island, and entered the preserve within, with the help of a map drawn by her ancestor, Fulton got his hands on. Fulton needs Alice and her light talent though to read the map, and lead them to the hidden treasure. When Alice refuses to steal the stones they find, but wants to talk to the Sebastian Family instead, Fulton tries to kill her. Alice manages to hide thanks to her light talents, and run away, but gets lost in the forest. With the help of a dust bunny, she eventually finds her way back to civilization, to discover that her husband has died. Unfortunately, her ex-mother in law believes that Alice killed her precious son, and uses all the considerable means at her disposal to ruin Alice’s life. Alice has been on the run from Ethal and her hired tugs ever since, trying to make a living with Houdini (the dust bunny that saved her and stayed with her ever since) as stage magicians.

And now, she is found by Drake Sebastian, who thinks she is the one who has stolen the precious stones. And if not, he needs her help to get them back, as Rainshadow Island is about to blow up. Communications are already down, and they have to de-rezz the alien energy fast.
He offers her a job, and a lot of money, and another Marriage of Convenience to get Ethel and her thugs of her back. And Alice finds herself agreeing. But this time, there is real attraction between her and her new husband …

Getting to Rainshadow Island is not easy, but thanks to Drake’s talent, they land safely in one of the coves at the Island, but will have to walk across the whole island to the only town. And Rainshadow Island is not safe at night….

I loved this book (do you get tired of me typing these words yet?). Jayne Ann Krentz/Castle has the perfect writing style for my taste in characters and world building. Her characters are strong and confident, they handle what comes their way without whining about it. There are no big misunderstandings due to lack of communication. They do know their own hearts, even if they are scared at first.
The world of Harmony is awesome. Colonists from Earth have been living here for a few hundred years now, and are still looking for the secrets of the Alien ruins and catacombs. More and more is discovered in each book though, and I love that. And over the years, the humans’ psychic powers are growing and expanding. And of course there are the dust bunnies. They add a lot of humor to the story, and they do protect their humans.

Drake admires Alice, she won’t give up or give in to Ethel and even though the professional matchmakers have pronounced him unmatchable, he knows Alice is his perfect match from the moment he meets her. Now to convince her of that fact … I liked how proud he is of introducing Alice as his wife, and how he has her back.
And while Drake is busy in meetings with the residents of Rainshadow Island, to concoct a plan to safe them all, Alice does not sit idly. She just sets out to help in the only inn/restaurant in town. Serving food, cleaning up, playing with the children, helping wherever she can. I liked that a lot.

The mystery, the dangerous part, that was very well done too. Of course I did have my suspicions right away, which came true, but it was the execution that was the big surprise.

It is not the best book in the series, but still a very good one. I do not recommend you start reading Jayne Castle books with this one though. There are some previous couples in this book who had their own story first.

9 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 11 september 2013

Maggie Sefton – Poisoned Politics

The second book in the Molly Malone Mystery series, published August 1, 2013.
Genre: mystery
Cover: shiny

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Beltway doyenne Samantha Calhoun has learned many lessons in a lifetime of politics, and she relishes teaching certain young congressmen everything she knows. But when her latest fling, married U.S. Rep. Quentin Wilson, is found dead in Samantha’s home, she turns to longtime friend Molly Malone for support.
Putting to use her many well-positioned connections, Molly learns that Wilson had been researching a financial bill sponsored by a veiled coalition of politicians – the same bill that her niece Karen Grayson was investigating when she was murdered. Picking up the trail where Grayson and Wilson left off, Molly fears she will be the next victim of the shadowy cabal’s insatiable appetite for power.

This second book in the series takes place a few weeks after the first one, continuing with Molly Malone’s career as Senator Russell’s accountant and social hostess. Unfortunately, the book is not nearly as thrilling as the blurb makes us believe.

Molly’s best friend Samatha Calhoun, or Miss Thing as Molly calls her, is in trouble. She is having an affair with Quentin Wilson, and now some revealing pictures have been delivered to both their homes. Without a blackmail notice though, so they suspect Quentin’s wife is behind it. She is the one with the connections and the money, without her, he has no hope of being re-elected. And so they will have to break up their affair. Which is hard for Samantha, as this time her feelings are involved.
But when she finds Quentin’s dead body in her house the next morning (she spent the night elsewhere, while he would be collecting his things), trouble starts brewing for Samantha. She has made many enemies in the last decades, being the powerful woman in politics that she is. And they are now gloating about her downfall, and gossiping about her. Molly tries to do whatever she can to help her friend though, but she just won’t tell who she was spending the night with.

And the widow Wilson is not going easy either, trashing Samantha without naming her, but of course, the innuendo is enough. She is going for her husband’s seat, which is her right as his widow. But his staffers really dislike her, so they are looking for employment elsewhere in a hurry, like his right hand, Natasha Jorgenson, who was snatched up by Congresswoman Sally Chertoff.

Natasha tells Molly that Quentin was working on something that was not part of his job at all, something monetary. Loretta of the Congressional Research Service tells Molly that it was the same stuff her niece Karen was working on, before she was murdered, and this does make Molly start her own research again.

Still, not for one minute does Molly or any of her friends suspect murder in the death of the congressman, or the young man who supplied his drugs. Let alone the cabal she ran into in the first book. We do get lots of peeks into the thoughts and actions of the bad guys, but nothing is resolved or discovered in this book, so at the end I was thinking: why write this book when it gives no solutions or answers or discoveries plot wise? It is just filler. And although the drama with Samantha and the workings of American politics are intriguing to follow, I was missing a plot, something important, which I kept hoping would come.

Molly’s personal life is improving though, as her relationship with Danny goes to the next stage. Molly is a lot like Maggie Sefton’s other main character in the Knitting Mysteries though: they are both hardworking accountants who love numbers, they are addicted to coffee, and are cautious with their heart. And there is a lot of drinking beer and alcohol in this book.

And even though I did enjoy the book, I feel like this is only half a book. At this moment, feeling disappointed, I am not sure I will buy the next book, as those are twice as expensive as cozy mysteries.

6 stars.

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© 2013 Reviews by Aurian