vrijdag 19 december 2014

Gail Carriger - Soulless

The first book in the Alexia Tarabotti series, published October 1, 2009.
Genre: steampunk
Cover: nice
Re-read for the second time.


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?

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 the 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. This 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 she has always been 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 too 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. This 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?

I really like this book and series. 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. This is much more important after all. 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 again as well, as I enjoyed myself with this book. This is still a very original story.

9 stars.

Love this bookAutobuy author

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 17 december 2014

Ellery Adams – Lethal Letters

The sixth book in the Books by the Bay Mystery series, published November 4, 2014.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: nice

Lethal Letters photo w520118_zps9e3b183d.jpg

Restaurant owner and aspiring novelist Olivia Limoges is busy planning a delicious menu for Oyster Bay's biggest soiree of the spring. But she'll need to serve some justice as well after one resident gets eighty-sixed…
Everyone's got their hands full in Oyster Bay, North Carolina. Aside from two upcoming weddings, there's also the historical society's annual fund-raiser: the Secret Garden Party and Candlelit Ball. Adding to the excitement, Olivia witnesses the discovery of a time capsule in the foundation of a local church. The historical society president hopes to display its contents at their party, but when the items are finally revealed to the public, Olivia notices one of them has vanished.
After a frightening find beneath the pier—the body of Ruthie Holcomb—Olivia is certain there's a connection between the young woman's death and the missing piece from the time capsule. With the help of her fellow Bayside Book Writers, Olivia sets out to uncover some clues and ensure a killer has no reason to celebrate…

Another brilliant mystery by Ellery Adams. I loved every page of it. Olivia is getting married to the Chief, Rawlings, but she is still hesitant about setting a date. Is she doing the right thing? Will their lives match? Rawlings still spends a lot of nights in town in the house his former wife decorated when his job requires it, and Olivia stays in her own beach home with her beloved Poodle Captain Havilland. Her chef Michel is getting married as well, and he is driving everyone crazy as he wants everything to be perfect.
And when Olivia accompanies him to the church, the mystery starts when the renovation team discovers a time capsule hidden in the wall. Why is the pastor suddenly so afraid of its contents? Why does he run out to go get the President of the Historical Society? And why is one of the items missing when the box is displayed?

Does it have something to do with the death of a young woman on the beach? Who is the best and forbidden friend of said President’s daughter? The girl is devastated, and she blames her family. Is there truth in that?

And why is Olivia’s real father suddenly interested in starting some new businesses in town, buying real estate? Does he think she will welcome him in her life after all those years?

Lucky for the Bayside Writers, Harris is back in town, and he inspires them all to start writing again, and he is a big help in researching the case. Perhaps he has a future in the police department instead of a well paid job in the game company...

I did have a little hunch about the reason behind the murders I have to admit. But the real murderer, and another part of the plot eluded me. The murder weapon itself is very gruesome and Ellery, wow, well done! I have never come across something similar.
I really enjoy reading about Olivia and her personal life, her friends and family. She likes taking care of them. Little Bayside sure has its share of eccentric characters; I would love to visit sometime.

I also enjoy the new book that Olivia has started working on. The ending of the book was very romantic, and I loved that part as well. I look forward to the next book already, even though that will take some time as Ellery writes multiple series. But I love them all, so any new book will be treasured.

10 stars.

Love this bookAutobuy author

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 15 december 2014

Recommendations from Peggy for December 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.


I have read 7 novels in the past month, and the 3 books I enjoyed the most are:

1. Anna Campbell - Her Christmas earl

 photo w554161_zps3bc6f633.jpg

2. Anthology: Christmas brides – Suzanne Enoch, Alexandra Hawkins, Valerie Bowman
and Elizabeth Essex

 photo w511575_zps7e78cb3f.jpg

3. L.H. Cosway - Still life with strings

 photo 20725005_zps72105fcc.jpg

1. Anna Campbell - Her Christmas earl

 photo w554161_zpsd93d6500.jpg

No good deed goes unpunished...
To save her hen-witted sister from scandal, Philippa Sanders ventures into a rake's bedroom - and into his power. Now her reputation hangs by a thread and only a hurried marriage can rescue her. Is the Earl of Erskine the heartless libertine the world believes? Or will Philippa discover unexpected honor in a man notorious for his wild ways?
Blair Hume, the dissolute Earl of Erskine, has had his eye on the intriguing Miss Sanders since he arrived at this deadly dull house party. Now a reckless act delivers this beguiling woman into his hands as a delightful Christmas gift. Is fate offering him a fleeting Yuletide diversion? Or will this Christmas Eve encounter spark a passion that lasts a lifetime?

My favourite time of the year is here. Throughout the year I’m always on the lookout for Christmas stories. I must confess that I’m a romantic woman and I love nothing more than reading Christmas stories in the weeks before Christmas. And not only reading about it but I also listen to Christmas songs (and decorate the house for Christmas). As you can read, I’m really into the Christmas spirit at the moment.

So, when I discovered a Christmas story from one of my favourite writers, I naturally have to read it. And like always I really loved this story from Anna Campbell. Who wouldn’t want to be locked up in a closet with a handsome rake? I’m sure we all would love that. It’s certainly a different way of meeting someone and it changes a dull house party into an very interesting Christmas party. Philippa and Blair were both very lovely characters. I, especially liked the end of this story. It was the perfect end of a lovely story.

Another book I really enjoyed this month was the anthology ‘Christmas brides’. All four stories were wonderful reads. They’re four different stories about Christmas and finding love. I really love the combination of regency and Christmas. One of the traditions I love in these books, is the kissing under the mistletoe. Especially if it is a handsome man. (I wouldn’t mind kissing one under a mistletoe!)

Most Christmas stories are novellas. Those aren’t always easy to write but all the writers mentioned above did an excellent job of it.

This book has nothing to do with Christmas but it’s a wonderful read. I discovered this story ‘Still life with strings’ from L.H. Cosway in the anthology ‘Rockers after dark’. L.H. Cosway is a new writer for me. The writer has a special way of writing that is truly unique (at least that is what I think). Although her stories deal with ‘dark secrets and difficult subjects’, the writing is never dark. She managed to create a story about two people who aren’t perfect but they are perfect for each other. Her books take place in Ireland, that’s also different from most books. Like I said, I love this story very much and I’m very happy that I have discovered this writer.

This was my last review for 2014.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope that 2015 will be a fantastic year with lots of love, wonders and magic and filled with many wonderful books to read.

Love, Peggy

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Peggy! I am also a big fan of Christmas stories, but I can read them all year long. In fact, I just finished a Valentine’s Day anthology themed around hot chocolate. And as your book has a Suzanne Enoch story in it, I really need to have this one as well.
How about you ladies, do you like Christmas in your books this time of year?

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 13 december 2014

Gail Carriger – Waistcoats & Weaponry

The third book in the Finishing School series, published November 4, 2014.
Genre: Young Adult steampunk
Cover: nice

 photo w509987_zps8a4108f3.jpg

It’s one thing to waltz properly. It’s quite another to waltz properly with a bladed fan stitched into one’s corset.
Sophronia continues finishing school in style – with a range of deadly defences secreted in the folds of her ball gown, of course. Her fashionable choice of weapons comes in handy when Sophronia, her best friend Dimity, sweet sootie Soap and the charming Lord Felix Mersey hijack a suspiciously empty train to return their chum Sidheag to her werewolf pack in Scotland.
But when Sophronia discovers they are being trailed by a dirigible of Picklemen and flywaymen, she unearths a plot that threatens to throw all of London into chaos. With her friends in mortal danger, Sophronia must sacrifice what she holds most dear – her freedom.

Another Young Adult series I can’t get enough of. This is a sort of prequel to the Parasol Protectorate series, and when I finished this book, it made me re-read that series immediately. Because what happens in this book, directly impacts that series.

It is very hard to summarize a bit of what happens in this book, without spoiling the story if you haven’t read it yet. Sophronia attends a finishing school, which is not unusual for young ladies of quality. But this school is situated in a gigantic dirigible, floating in the aether. She not only learns all those things a young lady needs to learn, she also learns how to be a spy, and an assassin. She especially loves her new bladed fan.
Her friend Lady Sidheag Maccon gets some bad news, and needs to return to Scotland and her werewolf pack immediately. Sophronia and her best friend Dimity are on their way to Sophronia’s home to celebrate the wedding of Sophronia’s older sister, accompanied by Dimity’s brother and Sophronia’s beau, Lord Felix Mersey, who is the son of a Duke. The Duke is a high ranked pickleman, which is somewhat a problem for Sophronia, as they are enemies of the school. But perhaps she can sway Felix to her way of thinking ...

While at the wedding, something strange happens, when all the automaton servants start behaving not according to their programming. What is causing it? And when Sidheag shows up, accompanied by the Dewan (the Alpha of all the werewolves in England) and Captain Niall, a lone werewolf and one of their professors, they have to help their friend. No way will they meekly go back to school.

And so they find themselves in the midst of a plot between vampires and their archenemy Monique, who has left the school, and the Picklemen...

I love this series, and I am in awe of Gail Carrigers’ imagination. Sophronia is such a great heroine, she thinks fast on her feet, and doesn’t care about a person’s standing in society, like her friend Soap, who is a sootie (sooties, young boys, take care of the steam engines in her school).
She has a good grasp of politics and she is all for preserving the balance between the vampires, werewolves, and ordinary humans. The picklemen want to get rid of all the supernaturals, and the vampires and werewolves are always competing.

I hope the next book will be written soon, but first there is a new series on the horizon.

10 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 11 december 2014

Nalini Singh – Archangel’s Shadows

The seventh book in the Guild Hunter series, published October 28, 2014.
Genre: paranormal romance / urban fantasy
Cover: the poses are strange, especially the man on the motor cycle

Archangel's Shadow photo w518095_zps71176452.jpg

Return to New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh's sensual and painfully beautiful Guild Hunter world in her new novel of sacrifice, loyalty, and the choices of love that can shatter the heart.

In the wake of a brutal war, the archangel Raphael and his hunter consort, Elena, are dealing with the treacherously shifting tides of archangelic politics and the people of a battered but not broken city. The last thing their city needs is more death, especially a death that bears the eerie signature of an insane enemy archangel who cannot - should not - be walking the streets.
This hunt must be undertaken with stealth and without alerting their people. It must be handled by those who can become shadows themselves...
Ash is a gifted tracker and a woman cursed with the ability to sense the secrets of anyone she touches. But there's one man she knows all too well without a single instant of skin contact: Janvier, the dangerously sexy Cajun vampire who has fascinated and infuriated her for years. Now, as they track down a merciless killer, their cat-and-mouse game of flirtation and provocation has turned into a profound one of the heart. And this time, it is Ash's secret, dark and terrible, that threatens to destroy them both.

In the war against Lijuan and her people, Ashwini was badly hurt. She was working with Janvier and Naasir behind enemy lines when she was caught after planting bombs in a building in hands of the enemy. But now she is all healed up, and ready for some action. Janvier is not so ready to let her walk into danger again, and he is determined to be with her, every step of the way. He has sworn allegiance to the archangel Raphael, so he can act as a liaison between the Guild Hunters and the Tower.

Ash is sent to question a vet who reported the find of a mummified animal. And with the horror or Lijuan fresh in the minds of the population, this has to be investigated thoroughly. Janvier takes her on his bike, and she really enjoys that ride. So does Janvier, and he sure wants more from her than that, but she has always kept him at a distance. But now, perhaps, it is time to live for the moment. Because Ash knows it can never be more than that. And becoming a vampire herself, is totally out of the question. Due to her powers, of seeing inside a person’s head when she touches him or her, physical closeness is impossible for her. But she has never been able to read Janvier.

When next the mummified body of a woman is found in a dumpster behind a restaurant, the investigation becomes serious. This reeks of Lijuan’s power, did she leave some of her people behind? Ash and Janvier have to go into the underbelly of the vampire world, with the sex and blood clubs, the groupies and junkies who sell their blood for their next fix. Some vampires treat their donor’s with respect, but most of the vampires who frequent those clubs only see humans as cattle. To do with as they see fit. But when they find a likely suspect, he is alibied by the women he is keeping in his home, and who are completely in his thrall.

Then there is the new streetdrug Umber, that really affects vampires, awakening their bloodlust. It has to be stopped before the streets of New York color red with blood again.

In the mean time, Elena has to deal with a visit from her mother in law.
She is also interacting well with the Legion, making them feel at home and getting to know them individually. They are not used to act on their own instead of part of a hive mind, but she makes them more “human”. I loved how she finds out that they love to work with the earth, with plants, and need them around. She puts them to work in her green house.

And then there is Naasir. Elena wants to know what he is, and so do I. I am so very curious about him. He brought Elena a gift, and he only does that to people he likes. The whole Seven attended that evening to find out what he brought, as he has some outrageous ideas on proper gifts. He once brought a bucket of piranha’s...

A great new book in a great series. I loved Ashwini and Janvier together, and I do believe that Ashwini has legitimate reasons for not wanting a relationship. I did hurt for her and Janvier. The mystery part, the evil ones who are behind the drugs and the mummifications, that was very well done as well. I am glad justice was served.
I also liked the part where Raphael showed the vampires in town who really is the boss in town: not them!

I love reading about the other characters in this series, and find out more about their lives after they had their love stories. I can’t wait to read the next one, which I hope is about Naasir. Or Bluebell.

10 stars.

Autobuy author
Love this book

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 10 december 2014

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

My 19th new additions post for 2014. Here is a list of the new books I added to my collection in the past month.

From Bookdepository:
Jean Johnson – Damnation
Laura Childs – Eggs in a Casket
Duffy Brown – Geared for the Grave
Anthology: Night Shift – Nalini Singh; Ilona Andrews; Lisa Shearin; Milla Vane (three authors whose work I love, and one new one).

Books swapped with Blodeuedd:
Ann Aguirre – Blue Diablo
Vivan Arend – Turn it up
Dakota Cassidy – You dropped a blonde on me
Ellen Connor - Nightfall
Tessa Dare – A lady of Persuasion
Tessa Dare – Surrender of a Siren
Samantha Grace – In bed with a rogue
Jennifer Haymore – A hint of wicked
Leanna Renee Hieber – The Darkly Luminous Fight for Persephone Parker
Jillian Hunter – A Duke’s Temptation
Julie James – A lot like love
Julie James – It happened one wedding
Joanne Kennedy – Cowboy Fever
Joanne Kennedy – Cowboy Tough
Joanne Kennedy – How to handle a Cowboy
Joanne Kennedy – Tall, Dark and Cowboy
Ashley March – Romancing the Countess
Christie Ridgway – Can’t hurry love
Michelle Rowen – Tall, Dark and Fangsome
Lyndsay Sands – A bite to remember
Lyndsay Sands – A quick bite
Lyndsay Sands – Bite me if you can
Lyndsay Sands – The accidental vampire
Lyndsay Sands – Vampire, Interrupted
Lyndsay Sands – Vampires are forever
Elizabeth Vaughan – Dagger-Star
Carry Vaughn – Kitty goes to Washington
Tracy Anne Warren – Her Highness and the Highlander
Anthology – The Beast Within – Erin McCarthy; Bianca d’Arc; Jennifer Lyon
Anthology – Wolfsbane and Mistletoe

Thanks again B, this means many weeks of reading pleasure to me!

A Christmas present from Blodeuedd:
Maia Chance – Snow White Red-Handed

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 9 december 2014

Nora Roberts – The last honest woman

The first book in the O'Hurley series, published May 1, 1988.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: I prefer my book cover, it features a landscape. I really don’t like the title though.

The last honest woman photo n65660_zps09fb1dcc.jpg

The truth could NOT be told.
Abigail O’Hurley Rockwell was a desperate woman. Journalist Dylan Crosby was going to start digging up her past for the book he was writing about her infamous late husband. It was just research to him, but to her it was a painful reality that had to be kept under lock and key for the sake of her children. Abby would do anything to keep their world safe – no matter how compelling Dylan’s promises might be...

Abby is working hard to make a comfortable live for herself and her two little boys. She owns a little farm in Virginia, where she has just started breeding horses. Her husband was a famous race car driver, but their marriage was far from perfect. Chuck Rockwell swept her off her feet when she was 19, and their married quickly. She followed him around the world, until she got pregnant with their first son, Ben. His mother never approved of Abby, as she was just a third rate entertainer, and living with her for a while, was not easy for Abby. So she persuaded Chuck to buy her a little farm. But Chuck was not a man to settle down, he craved the racing world, the speed, the fame, the women. And after he died, his mother, who still ruled his trustfund, cut Abby and her children of without a cent. It has not been easy repairing the house and getting the farm up, but she managed it. And now this journalist wants to write about her husband, she will have to keep the ugly truth from him, to protect her sons... They don’t deserve to know everything about her husband ...

Dylan has this completely wrong idea about Abby: he pictures her as a money grabber who snatched herself a rich and famous husband and then stopped supporting him during his races. He expects a big wealthy ranch and lots of servants. After all, he has seen all those pictures of Abby in Monte Carlo, Paris, New York, wearing jewels and furs. He could not be more wrong ... To write the book, and interview her, he will have to live in her house for a while. But he refuses to acknowledge what he sees. Sure she must be leading him on. All women are born deceivers, his ex-wife taught him that. But he will get to the bottom of the truth, he has interviewed other people already, like Chuck’s latest mistress.

What he does not expect, is falling for her boys, and for Abby herself...

I know I have read and enjoyed the other O’Hurley books, but I can’t remember anything about this one, and I am sure I have read it before. I have the Dutch books in one big trilogy after all.

I liked Abby, she has always been the strong and dependable one of the triplets. She has built a good life for herself and her sons, and she wants to protect them from the uglier side of their father. She is not used to anyone taking care of her, apart from her mother, so when she gets sick and Dylan steps in, she doesn’t know how to react.
But by bit, Dylan gets the truth out of Abby. She did not know about his drug abuse, but she did know about his many girlfriends. She is the one who filed for divorce though...

I had a hard time liking Dylan, as he is a typical 80’s hero. Take charge, and just grab the woman if she doesn’t do what you want. Sure Abby is attracted to him, but she won’t just sleep with him because of that. And he doesn’t want to accept that. He wants her in his bed. And when she tells him she loves him, he doesn’t know how to handle that. He is a free spirit, he doesn’t want to settle down, or does he?

It was fun when Abby’s whole family descended upon the farm though, her bond with them is so great. Her father who doesn’t want to lift a finger if he doesn’t have to, who is a born entertainer, as is her mother. And her famous sisters Chantel and Maddy, they do pitch in, just like old times. But they all love Abby, and will protect her from Dylan if necessary.

A nice little romance, and I liked it. Perfect for a rainy afternoon.

7 stars.

Autobuy author

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian