donderdag 27 november 2014

Yasmine Galenorn – Murder under a Mystic Moon

The third book in the Chintz 'n China series, published January 4, 2005.
Genre: paranormal mystery
Cover: beautiful

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Delicious blends of tea aren’t the only draw at the Chintz ‘n China Tea Room – Emerald O’Brien, owner and medium also offers her customers tarot card readings. But Emerald, a single mother of two, never saw herself as a sleuth – which proves that even seers make mistakes...

With her teenage daughter’s birthday on the horizon and the Early Autumn Breeze Celebration in full swing, Emerald has her hands full with party preparations and teashop specials. But a request from her friend Jimbo has her using her abilities to look into the disappearance of his friend. In the woods surrounding the Klickavail Valley enclave, Emerald senses a strange energy manifesting itself – before literally stumbling across the body of Jimbo’s friend. While the police are willing to blame the death on a cougar attack, Emerald knows there’s something else wandering the forest – something that resembles the Klakatat monster of legend, but may be a monster of a more human kind ...


Emerald O’Brien is not amused when journalist Cathy Sutton from KLIK T.V. wants to interview her again. They had a few not so nice run-ins before. And now she wants her to let her intern George, a wannabe-psychic, observe her in action? There is such a thing as client confidentiality. So when George doesn’t get what he wants, and has to pay for some expensive china he destroys, he tries to destroy Emerald’s reputation by questioning her abilities as a psychic in public, or rather, on public t.v.. He even starts following her around trying to find out what she is doing, and trying to expose her.

When her friend Jimbo asks Emerald to come over and help him search for his missing friend, Emerald steps into her strangest adventure yet. The police don’t take it seriously, a missing biker is of no concern, good riddance. But Jimbo is certain something has happened to his friend Scar. When Emerald finds Scar’s mutilated body, the police, Murray’s commanding officer, is quick to write it off as a cougar attack, but they all know differently. A cougar would not hide the body, nor are the claw marks compatible. Case closed.
Of course Emerald, Jimbo and Murray don’t accept that answer, and Emerald reluctantly agrees to take a closer look around. Something has spooked some of the bikers in the Enclave lately, and Murray tells her about the legend of the Klakatat monster. Native American lore goes back way before the first white man set foot on their land.


I loved this mystery. The meeting between Emerald and the Klakatat monster is such a great surprise and so well written, it is unlike anything I have ever read before. Paranormal mystery at its best.
I disliked George from his first appearance in the book, and he does not improve over time. He might be Cathy’s cousin, but he has no redeeming qualities. A spoiled brat who doesn’t know what he gets himself involved in, and only wants the limelight.
Joe is showing his protective streak a bit too much, when he goes after a man who scares and threatens Emerald, only ending up in big trouble himself. He should know by now that Emerald is capable of looking after herself and needs him to love her, not to protect her.
And surprise, surprise, Murray and Jimbo have become an item, something her police friends will not like at all.
Harlow is still very pregnant, but she loves her new research job, and she is good at it.

I just love reading about Emerald and her kids and friends. She is such a capable woman, raising two kids on her own and owning her own shop. She deals with the paranormal stuff that the universe thrusts at her, with the help of her ghostly Nanna and friends. I like Murray’s aunt White Deer as well.

I don’t know if you should read this series out of order, but I think you can. This is the best of the 5 books in my opinion.

10 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 25 november 2014

Recommendations from Karin for November 2014.

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

Karin:

I have read 18 new books and 6 novellas this month. This amount comes from buying all those bargains that you can get for something under 1 €. The ones I would recommend most are:

This is a first for me: my number one books are a tie between

Burn for Me – by Ilona Andrews and

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Unbinding – by Eileen Wilks

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Far, far behind on number three I would put:

Kiss of Christmas Magic – one of those electronic bargains I’ve mentioned before.
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(Collection by Michele Bardsley, V M Black, Deanna Chase, Angie Fox, Eve Langlais, Michelle M Pillow, Molly Prince, Viola Rivard, Aubrey Rose, Mandy M Roth and Mimi Strong).

I don’t think I have to gush too much about Burn for Me. It’s simply a great book for me. The world – building is a little similar to Andrews’s novella “Silver Shark” which I fell in love with on first reading. All the characters are well developed, there is no “I see you and now I love you for the rest of my very long life”.
The heroine’s love for her family is very touching, the villains are evil, the hero is in a league of his own, the action is breathtaking and the end provides just the cliffhanger that makes me pant for the next instalment. My only complaint is that the book is actually a little short but perhaps there are readers out there who don’t mind that?

As for “Unbinding”- the reading order of the books in the World of the Lupi series is as follows:

1: TEMPTING DANGER
2: MORTAL DANGER
3: BLOOD LINES
4: NIGHT SEASON
5: MORTAL SINS
6: BLOOD MAGIC
7: BLOOD CHALLENGE
8: DEATH MAGIC
9: MORTAL TIES
10: RITUAL MAGIC
11: UNBINDING

In this case I would strongly recommend starting with the first book (or as I did: I stumbled upon this fascinating series with the help of the short story “Inhuman” in “On the Prowl”).

She then did something unheard of (for me at least). In Night Season the focus switches from Lily Yu and Rule Turner to secondary characters. Turned out that I almost loved this book the most.
Now with the latest instalment she did it again: the focus is now on Kai and Nathan from “On the Prowl) and this book is so full of suspense I was almost biting my nails while reading.
This is not really a paranormal romantic series and still the writer managed to write one of the most touching proposals that I have read.
Eileen Wilks has me waiting year by year by year (she usually publishes only one book per year) until the next book comes out; I usually have to catch up a bit because I get more forgetful as the years go by.

I highly recommend this series and for those of you who fall in love with it as I did – happy reading. And for those of you who are not interested – happy reading with whatever you love.

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I have read and loved the Ilona Andrews book as well. I am almost ashamed to admit that I borrowed the first book in the Lupi series from Maia over 4 years ago, also after reading that short story, and still have not read it. Perhaps this week I finally will!




© 2014 Reviews by Aurian


zondag 23 november 2014

Keri Arthur – Circle of Fire

The first book in the Damask Circle series, published August 31, 2001.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: nice

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Sixteen teenagers taken from their homes. Eleven bodies recovered, each completely drained of blood. Some believe vampires are responsible, but Jon Barnett knows it's something far worse. To stop the killers in Taurin Bay, he becomes enmeshed in a web of black magic and realizes he needs help. But fate gives him only one choice in the form of recluse Madeline Smith.
Madeline Smith has retreated to an isolated farmhouse, afraid of the psychic abilities she can't control-abilities that have killed. But when "ghost" Jon Barnett brings a warning of danger and her nephew disappears, Maddie has to leave her haven. She also has to learn to control the abilities she fears and place her trust in Jon Barnett, a man who is neither human nor ghost.
But as the search for the teenagers becomes a race against time, and the noose of sorcery threatens to kill Maddie and Jon, the greatest danger to them both could be the feelings they have for each other-feelings that they refuse to acknowledge.


I have tried a Keri Arthur book once before, and did not enjoy it at all. The random sex just for the sake of having sex is just my cup of tea. But this book is very different, and I did enjoy it.
The book starts with Madeline (Maddie) having a ghostly visitor who needs her help. She refuses to believe in him though, fearing she is going mad. But when he thinks her nephew is in danger, she has no choice but to believe him when her nephew does indeed disappear. Maddie’s family has always refused to believe in her psychic gifts, taking her from counsellor to psychiatrist and so on. But her gifts are real, and when her abusive husband tried to kill her, she killed him with her fire in self defense. Her brother in law, who is a police officer, does not believe her, and distrusts her. So when she warns about his son being in danger, he is certain that she is behind it. Didn’t she kill his best friend? He also refuses that his son has the same strange abilities that Maddie is, and his wife is not capable of standing up against him, although she knows what it did to Maddie when they were young girls. Maddie can only visit them in secret, when her brother in law is out of the house.
Maddie has become a recluse, living in a large farm house all by herself, content with growing and selling her roses. But now, for her beloved nephew, she will leave her house and try to find her “ghost”.

Jon Barnett is a shape shifter, working for the Damask Circle, an agency governing paranormal creatures who threaten to expose their existence to the human world, and who abuse their powers. He is investigating the strange disappearances of teenagers, who are found dead with no blood in their body. An evil sorcerer or sorceress is using them in a blood magic ritual and he will need to stop him or her. But before he can begin his investigation, he is left for dead in a well on a farm, with a wooden arrow made of white ash in his body. Someone knew just what he was, as white ash is deadly for shape shifters. To rescue her nephew, Maddie will need to find and rescue Jon first. Jon does not want to work with Maddie, he works alone. But when he finds her in the hotel room he has previously rented, he knows it can’t be avoided, he needs her help. Maddie doesn’t trust the night clerk of the hotel, he really is creepy, and why does he insist on searching her room when she declares everything is all right?

Jon and Maddie will have to work together, and keep an eye out for the other, especially when Maddie’s brother-in-law puts out an APB on her, making her a target for all the police searching for the missing kids as well. They can’t afford to waste the time it will take to convince the police that she is innocent and only wants to help.


I enjoyed this story a lot, it is more a paranormal mystery than a romance, and it was original. I have not come across this kind of paranormal world before, so I enjoyed that part. The bad guys are really bad and creepy, and I loved the end, the fight, the magic.

After the adventure is over, there is no immediate happy ending, with “I love you”s and “will you marry me”. It takes longer for that to happen, and I do like that. Although he could have contacted her sooner ...

I look forward to reading the next book. I have been assured it is even better than this one.

7 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 21 november 2014

Theresa Romain – To Charm a Naughty Countess

The second book in the Matchmaker Trilogy series, published May 6, 2014
Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice

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Can a reclusive Duke...
Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause – after first refusing his suit.
Win London’s most powerful Countess?
Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Stratton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael – her counterpart in an old scandal – returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of London society, Caroline realizes that she’s lost her heart. But if she gives herself to the only man she’s ever loved, she’ll lose the hard-won independence she prizes above all.


I really did not enjoy the first book in this series, so I am very glad that I did like this one. Caroline Graves, Countess of Stratton, is a rich and independent widow, and determined to stay that way. Eight years ago she was a toasted debutante, and she fell in love with Michael Layward, the heir of the Duke of Wyverne. When they were found in a compromising situation, Michael left town without a word for her, and her reputation was ruined. So Caroline had no choice but to marry the Count of Stratton, a man many years her senior, who wanted a lovely young wife to ease his last years. And Caroline dutifully cared for him. But now she is a widow, courted by many who would like to have their hands on her fortune. Like the current Count of Stratton, who wants the money his father left her, back.
But Caroline does not wish to remarry, and give up her indepence and her fortune, let another man rule her. She loves her life as it is, and if she wants to take a man to her bed, that is up to her to decide.
So when the Duke of Wyverne comes to London to find himself a bride, it has nothing at all to do with her ... Michael is rumored mad by his peers and the newspapers, he is a recluse and likes technology. He has spend all those years to improve his estates in Lancashire, as his father did die shortly after he left town and Caroline, and he has never been back. The long winter of 1816 (the year without a summer) has ruined his plans though, and he needs to marry for money. As he is a Duke, he thinks that won’t be too difficult. But his reputation precedes him, and he really has no idea how to act in polite society. He has no taste for the idle life of the rich.

Caroline never did stop loving him, but she refuses to marry him just because he needs a rich wife. She wants to be loved in return. So when he helps her get rid of an unwanted suitor who won’t accept no for an answer, she offers to help him find a bride. But first she will have to teach him how to behave himself in society.


I did enjoy this story, it certainly was refreshingly different. Michael has social anxiety, and that causes him to have sudden migraines and other things. But Caroline understood him, and his love of modern technology. Michael has only known duty in his life, he doesn’t know what happiness means. And he is a virgin, as he really does not like to be touched.
Caroline and Michael do fit together, and I did like how Michael make Caroline look at her own life closer, does she really enjoy this empty existence, or would she be happier as his Duchess, a woman needed by many?

8 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 19 november 2014

Yasmine Galenorn – Legend of the Jade Dragon

The second book in the Chintz 'n China series, published May 4, 2004.
Genre: paranormal mystery
Cover: pretty

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Delicious blends of tea aren’t the only draw at the Chintz ‘n China Tea Room – Emerald O’Brien, owner and medium, also offers her customers a tarot reading. But Emerald, a single mother of two, never saw herself as a sleuth – which proves that even seers make mistakes...

Legend of the Jade Dragon.
Tarot cards never lie. So when they predict chaos and bad luck for her last client of the day, Emerald gets more than a little worried. For her trouble, he leaves Em a charming jade statue of a dragon –and dies in a hit and run accident outside of her shop. When other terrible things begin to plague Em and her family, the only explanation is the jade dragon. To thwart its evil spell, she’ll have to follow a trail of heartache all the way back to China’s Ming dynasty and its ancient mysteries....


When a sad man enters The Chintz ‘n China Tea Room, Emerald O’Brien doesn’t really want to read his cards. There is some strange aura around the man. And when she does, there is nothing there for her to read. It is like he doesn’t have an aura. The man is not surprised by it, he has gotten similar readings before. When he stands up to leave, his coat pocket catches on a corner of the table, ripping it. Emerald helps him gather his belongings, and the man leaves. But then she spots something else, a lovely little statue of a dragon. So when she hurries out the door, hoping to catch the man before he disappears, fate intervenes. Just when she calls out to Daniel, and he starts turning around, he gets hit by a van. Emerald feels horrible about it, if only she had not called before he had crossed the street. And did he try to warn her about the dragon, or tell her to keep it?

Bad things start happening for Emerald and her family. Her shop gets robbed and destroyed, her house gets broken into, and she loses some really beloved heirlooms and other stuff. A real crime streak seems to have hit the town. Her prized neighbour Ida has to go away to help an injured friend, leaving Emerald with the task to look after her nephew Oliver, who has just been released from prison.

And when a drunk biker hits on her in a bar, and won’t take no for an answer, Emerald certainly did not have her day. She also doesn’t get much support from her boyfriend Andrew, who is a romance novelist and just got a movie deal for one of his books. He will be off to Hollywood. But even though the sex between them is amazing, the other parts of their relationship don’t really work. He can’t just seem to understand that she is a working woman with kids who come first. She can’t just up and leave everything behind to go away for a weekend with him. And there is Joe, the fireman, who wants to be much more than friends, but he is 10 years younger. And Em does not want to cheat on Andrew, especially after her ex-husband Roy did just that on her.

Finding out about Daniels past, and the history of the Jade Dragon really upsets Em. Even if she would sell the statue, or give it away, its curse would haunt her and her family. Every previous owner and his family have died in freak accidents. The only way to break the curse, is not something Em is willing to do either: bath the dragon in a thieves blood...

An action filled mystery, when Emerald stumbles upon some evidence of the theft of her things, and the culprit comes after her again and takes her son with him as insurance. And in desperate times, strange allies are made, when Jimbo the biker comes to her rescue.


I loved this story, it is certainly a bit creepy with the dragon parts, but it is human evil that is causing most of the mayhem.
I love Emerald, her family and friends and I am certainly curious about what will happen next in her love life. I did not really like Andrew, so, good riddance of him.

I will dive into book three very soon ...

9 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 17 november 2014

Yasmine Galenorn – Ghost of a Chance

The first book in the Chintz 'n China series, published August 5, 2003
Genre: paranormal mystery
Cover: pretty

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Emerald O'Brien, single mother of two, is the owner of the Chintz 'n China Tea Room where guests are served the perfect blend of tea and tarot reading. She never set out to be a detective, but once word gets out that she can communicate with the dead, there's no turning back...

It was definitely a ghost. There, at the foot of Emerald’s bed. A pen hovered above a piece of paper and scrawled these alarming words: I was murdered by my husband but nobody knows. Help me. True, Emerald was considered the town witch, but she owned a teashop, not a detective agency. What did the spirit expect? But after another darker entity emerges, bent on destroying her world and her family along with it, Emerald’s life takes a screeching detour onto a wild and dangerous road. As she careens into a web of deceit, lies and secrets woven around her ghostly visitor, death strikes again Now, along with her friends - an ex-supermodel and a cop-and her new love interest, Emerald must search for clues to put the killer behind bars-and this tortured soul to rest.


As most of you know, I am a big fan of Yasmine Galenorn’s Sisters of the Otherworld series. But I discovered her books through this series. The Chint’z ‘n China series. And I really do not want to call it a cozy mystery, as there is nothing cozy about it. This book does not shy away from the nastier things in life, abuse and such. Emerald divorced her abusive husband, her best friend the ex-supermodel is still fighting her boulimia problems and the paranormal parts in this book are not light and fluffy and fun either. It is very scary at times.

The fact that there is a ghost in her bedroom, does not frazzle Emerald, but that it claims to be murdered by her husband and asks for her help is. She did not know the murdered woman, a famous romance author living in their small town, but her best friend did. Harlow rubs elbows with the social elite in town, and she knows all the latest gossip. Perhaps together they can find out what happened to Susan, now the police have ruled it an accidental death.
But the ghost is not the only unwanted thing in her house. A darker entity is trying to hurt them badly. Apparently her precocious young son has been playing with his great-grandmother’s stuff to impress his friend. And he has called up something very, very bad. Now it is up to Emerald to get it out of her house, before it kills her, or her friends.

Emerald is busy enough as it is, raising her two children alone, as their father has no interest in them whatsoever, running her china shop and tea room, and getting ready for the busy Christmas season. This year she is determined to celebrate it properly, as the previous two years she did her best to ignore the festivities. But her children deserve more. And now there is even a new man in her life, who is connected to the ghost as well. Will he think her crazy and a witch when she tells him about her self, or will he accept it and stay in her life?


As I said, I do love this series, and I do admire Emerald. She is 36, starting to have some gray hairs, and she is not supermodel thin. She is a real woman, and a psychic. I do love it as it is so often that the heroines in cozy mysteries are young and very pretty. But I really don’t think I can call this series cozy. It is too dark for that. And there are lovescenes as well, which is unusual for a cozy mystery.
I decided to re-read this series, when Yasmine told on her blog that the series is re-published again, and she might write some short stories set in this world. Never again a full length novel, but I am allright with that. Re-reading did show me some things that made me wonder, as Emerald does go into danger alone which is not smart at all.
But I think Yasmine Galenorn but a lot of herself in this novel, and she showed that true evil can be both paranormal and human. And the humans are truly more creepy in being evil and enjoying it.

If you like something darker to read, I do recommend this series. So far there are 5 books. I am very glad I have the original books, with the beautiful covers as I really dislike the new covers.

8 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 15 november 2014

Recommendations from Peggy for November 2014.

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

Peggy:

I have read 10 novels in the past month, and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Under locke – Mariana Zapata

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2. Fallen too far – Abbi Glines

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3. Henry – Andria Large

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The one I can recommend to all Aurian’s readers is:

Mariana Zapata – Under locke

He was my boss, my brother’s friend, a Widower, an ex-felon, and a man I’d seen casually with a handful of women. But he was everything that gripped me, both the good and the bad. Worst case scenario if things turned awkward between us, I could go somewhere else. I’d gotten over epic heartbreak before, one more wouldn’t kill me.
After moving to Austin following six months of unemployment back home, Iris Taylor knows she should be glad to have landed a job so quickly... even if the business is owned by a member of the same motorcycle club her estranged father used to belong to. Except Dex Locke might just be the biggest jerk she’s ever met. He’s rude, impatient and doesn’t know how to tell time.
And the last thing they ever expected was each other.
But it was either the strip club or the tattoo shop.
… she should have chosen the strip club


If you’re looking for a dark MC novel to read then this book isn’t for you but if you’re looking for a big, grumpy, alpha man with a bad attitude who also has a soft side then this book is for you.

Iris Taylor has had a hard life. She lost her mother and grandmother in a short time and then became responsible for her younger brother. Now her younger brother is in the army and she has lost her job 6 months ago. Out of money and hope, she turns to the only one who has always been there for her. Her older half-brother Sonny has always helped her and this time is no difference.

So she packs everything in her car and leaves for Austin where her brother lives. Just like their father, her brother Sonny is a member of the MC Widower. After settling in with her brother, the first thing she needs is a job. But it isn’t easy to find one. Luckily her brother knows someone who can give her a job. So with little choice she starts working in a tattoo shop. Her boss Dex Locke (an ex-felon and also a member of the MC Widower) is a big, rude man and he has no patients at all but she needs the job. Although her boss isn’t helpful at all, the other guys who work there are very kind to her.

Her life is finally coming together when new trouble comes her way. Her father, who she hasn’t seen in many years, has made debts with some bad men. Now those bad men want their money back (with interest!) and they come knocking on her and Sonny’s door. And these people will stop at nothing to get their money back. So when her brother Sonny goes looking for their father, Iris has to move in with her boss Dex to hide and stay safe for the bad guys. This makes it harder for both of them to fight the attraction they’re both feeling for each other. Because the more they get to know each other, the more they like each other.

This is the first book that I read from this writer. The book has 497 pages and the writer really takes her time to tell the story, to build the romance. I really love this story. It made me think of Kristen Ashley. I really hope that there will be more books about this MC and the men who were part of this story.


Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Peggy! It is really not for me Peggy, but I am glad you enjoyed it. Anyone who would like this one ladies?




© 2014 Reviews by Aurian