zaterdag 13 februari 2016

Nora Roberts - Time Was

The first book in the Time and Again series, published December 1, 1989.
Genre: contemporary / timetravel romance
Cover: oldfashioned as it is an oldfashioned book

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Stranded in the present, time traveller Caleb Hornblower's biggest problem was not returning to the twenty-third century - it was falling in love with the beguiling Liberty Stone, who showed him a love more powerful than time itself. Though he belonged in the future, how could he leave the past - and Liberty - behind?

I know I have read this book a long time ago, in Dutch, but I did not remember much about it. Space ship captain Caleb Hornblower is on his way home, when he encountered an unregistered black hole, and that is how he crashed down on Earth, 200 years in the past. Libby was working on her dissertation in her little cottage in the mountains, and saw the plane crash happen during the thunderstorm. Setting out in her old truck, looking for survivors was the logical thing to do once the storm abated. And so she found Caleb, lying unconscious near the road, and took him home. The road was washed out already, so there was no way she could drive him to the hospital in the village.
Luckily, her career in anthropology had given her a more than rudimental education on first aid as well, and she took care of his obvious injuries.

When Caleb came to, he sure was in for a culture shock. In his time, most food is made artificial, so real eggs and coffee are a very rare treat for him. It took him a while to accept that he had gone back in time, and to learn how to adjust his behaviour. He is attracted to Libby, so he wants to sleep with her, and thinks it very strange that she tells him no. What is wrong with wanting to have sex? But Libby is not a casual relationship kind of girl, living her life studying the past has given her no time for the men of now. But there is something about Caleb …

When she finds Caleb's watch connected to her computer, and it talks to her, Caleb has no choice but to tell her the truth. He will also need her help to get him to his spaceship so he can repair it and go home. He doesn't belong in this timeperiod, his parents and brother will worry about him. But he has fallen for Libby, like he never has for a woman before, so how can he leave her behind?

I have to admit, I just didn't like Caleb. His attitude against Libby, how he did not want to take no for an answer, and kept pushing her to sleep with him. And how he acted when he thought she did not care that he would go home eventually. Men in the future are just as clueless and unable to talk as they are now. Libby was a shy kind of heroine, very smart and not used to interacting with men at all. Very care taking as well, cooking and cleaning and such, while he did not much in return. I did like her, for she is a very kind woman, but I did never connect with her.
I won't re-read this book, but I will read her sisters book, as I think to remember she is much more feisty than Libby.

6 stars out of 10.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 12 februari 2016

Anthology: A mother's way

An omnibus of novels by Lisa Cach, Susan Grant, Julie Kenner and Lynsay Sands, published May 1, 2007.
Genre: historical romance / paranormal romance / contemporary romance
Cover: fun

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Lynsay Sands - Mother, may I?

Was it the king who commanded Lord Jonathan to wed, or was it the diabolical scheme of his marriage-minded mama?

Lady Fairley wants her son to wed, but every young lady she ever pointed out to him, was rejected. So she persuaded the King to order Jonathan to get married in two weeks, or else.
She would just tell her son that the woman she really did want him to marry, the daughter of her best friend, was unsuitable. Of course that made the stubborn man even more determined to meet her. And when Lady Fairley pretended to be courted by the lady's really unsuitable uncle, Jonathan had to keep his eye on her, and he would take Alice with him while doing it. As cover, of course.
Spending time together made sure they got to know the other person, and Jonathan found himself liking spending time with Alice more and more, and he even asked her help in finding him a suitable bride amongst the many ladies his mother throws at him. Alice is confused by Lady Fairley's apparent dislike for her in public, while she has always been so nice to her. She won't marry Jonathan if it means her mother in law will hate her, as her own grandmother made her mother's life very miserable.

A nice enough story, but very predictable, with some fun elements.

5 stars out of 10.

Lisa Cach - The Breeding Season

After escaping her convent schooling, Miss Evelina Johnson wanted to sow her wild oats. Mrs. Johnson was planting different ideas.

A young lady is gaining a bad reputation as a flirt, and worse, as she likes kissing men. Her excuses? After her marriage, she won't get the chance and how is she to find out if her husband to be is a good kisser?
She also dresses outrageously, and wears too much face paint.

Her mother's best friend has a son, who is only interested in breeding his horses, and not in courting young ladies. So the ladies hatch a plan, where each one of their offspring is "punished" by having to spend time together. Evelina will teach Charles how to dress and act in public, and Charles will keep Evelina in check before she damages her reputation beyond all repair. Evelina discovers that she likes being outdoors, especially if she can paint, and Charles learns that dressing the part is not as bad as he thought, and with Evelina he has lost his shyness.

Again, a nice enough story, but I did not fall for either character.

5 stars out of 10.

Susan Grant - The day her heart stood still

Andie never expected the man of her dreams to fall from the sky-but when he did, her mother would make sure the earth moved!

Andie grew up with a mother who believes every alien story ever told, and she even has a museum dedicated to Roswell, and ET and such. Andie did not appreciate the other kids always making fun of her hippie mother. Now that she is an astronaut, about to achieve her life long dream, she doesn't need any bad publicity. While visiting her parents for a short vacation, she makes a wish on a falling star, or is it really? When her mother comes home, claiming there is an alien in her trunk, Andie doesn't want to believe her. It is just an attractive man her mother must have hit with her car or something.
But the evidence is there, when she activates a device intergraded in his arm. She falls hard for this alien, and they have to do their best to hide him from her mother's friends who know she is hiding something, and of course, the authorities.
She can't just give up on her dream, now that she is about to journey to Mars! Of course, Zefer can tell her lots of things about Mars and all the other planets and races out there.

I enjoyed this story a lot more, I connected with Andie, and how she reluctantly had to believe there really was an alien in her mother's museum. She did wish for a Soulmate, when he fell out of the sky…

8 stars.

Julie Kenner - Seeking Single Superhero

Jennifer Martin always wanted to marry the man she loved, but her mom knew the only ones worth having were superheroes.

Jenny's mother is working for the Protectors, and she wants nothing more for Jenny than to hook up with one herself. What more could a girl aks for? She herself was in love once, but choose to marry a mortal man instead, who left her shortly after, leaving her to raise Jenny on her own. But Jenny is not interested in a Protector for a boyfriend, they are arrogant and conceited, and look down on mortals. So when her mother has placed an ad in the company's newsletter, pretending to be Jenny and wanting a date with a superhero/Protector, she is livid. And so, to spite her mother, she starts going out with the very normal, mortal man repairing her mother's computer. Or so she thinks…
What Jenny doesn't know, is that Starbuck is a very undercover Protector, and he is there to investigate her mother. Secret data has been leaked to their number one enemy, and Daphne is the one with the access to all their data, as she has practically build the system.
But he doesn't mind spending time with Jenny, as she is gorgeous, and he really likes her and her mother. He has to find the traitor, and soon … preferably before Jenny finds out he is not a normal mortal after all …

As you might suspect, I bought the anthology for the Julie Kenner novella, as I really like her Protector / Aphrodite books. It was a fun story, and I liked both Jenny and Starbuck. (Except for his name!).
The plot was nice, the shenanigans Daphne went through to get her daughter to date a Protector, embarrassing but hilarious.

8 stars.

So, after all, not a book I can recommend. Perhaps you can buy the two paranormal stories as e-novella's?

Julie Kenner:Autobuy author

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 11 februari 2016

Jim Butcher - Princep's Fury

The fifth book in the Codex Alera series, published November 25, 2008.
Genre: fantasy
Cover: beautiful

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Tavi of Calderon, now recognized as Princeps Gaius Octavian and heir to the crown, has achieved a fragile alliance with Alera's oldest foes, the savage Canim. After a year of armistice, their occupation of Alera's shores has ended. But when Tavi and his legions guide the Canim safely to their lands, his worst fears are realized.
The dreaded Vord - the enemy of Aleran and Cane alike - have spent the last three years laying waste to the Canim homeland. And when the Alerans are cut off from their ships, they find themselves trapped alongside their former enemies - with no choice but to fight shoulder to shoulder if they are to survive.
Meanwhile, after the destruction of the city and High Lord of Kalare, war-torn Alera struggles to rebuild - while politicians and nobles manoeuvre for power. But from the south comes news of death and devastation unlike any have ever known - the Vord have come to Alera.
For a thousand years, Alera and her furies have withstood every enemy, and survived every foe.
The thousand years are over.

What a book. I almost stopped reading twice, when I found out about the Vord in the Canim lands, as I thought there was no solution there, only loss. But there was actually little fighting, and lots of planning and plotting. I was really proud for Tavi and his insights and daring actions, of thinking out side of the box and finding solutions to his problems. He has also gotten more mature and capable of wielding a little magic, even though he still can't manifest his own furies.
While Tavi and his friends are busy surviving in the Canim lands, the dying First Lord sends Tavi's mother to the Northlands. He needs Isana to make a truce with the Northmen, so the Legions tied up at the Wall can come south and fight the Vord. They are the best soldiers Alera has. But the High Lord in charge of the fighting doesn't believe Isana, or her companion, the Lady Placida, and he hates the First Lord with a passion. So he does what he can to thwart her attempts at peace talks, until she challenges him to a duel.
The First Lord also sends Bernard and Amara undercover to the Vord army, to find out who is helping the Vord with Fury power. They never had the power to manifest furies, and now they do, and that negates the only advantage the Alerans have always had over their enemies.

I ended up really loving this book. Horrible things happen, whole cities fall prey to the Vord, and lots of good people die horribly and at the hands of the traitor. But some good things happen as well, and the ending was amazing. I will read the last book soon, as I just have to know how it all plays out. Tavi and Kitai make such a good couple, and I love how she keeps him on his toes, as she has a very different outlook on live and everything that is happening.

And then there is that one traitor, the double agent, or triple? Or is he loyal after all? I can't figure it out, but I really do hope he chooses for Tavi in the end.

If you like to read fantasy, I do recommend this series.

9 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 9 februari 2016

Jim Butcher - Captain's Fury

The fourth book in the Codex Alera series, published December 4, 2007.
Genre: fantasy
Cover: gorgeous

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After two years of bitter conflict with the hordes of invading Canim, Tavi of Calderon, now Captain of the First Aleran Legion, realizes that a peril far greater than the Canim exists-the terrifying Vord, who drove the savage Canim from their homeland. Now, Tavi must find a way to overcome the centuries-old animosities between Aleran and Cane if an alliance is to be forged against their mutual enemy. And he must lead his legion in defiance of the law, against friend and foe-before the hammerstroke of the Vord descends on them all.

Book 4 takes place 2 years after the adventures of Book 3. The civil war is still going strong, High Lord Kalare is ruthless, and he has many experienced soldiers and strong magic at his disposal. The war against the Canim is also still being fought. Tavi is the Captain of the Legion, and his soldiers admire him, and are very loyal to him. But disaster strikes, when politics rear their ugly head. One of the Senators has determined it, that he will replace Tavi and lead two other Legions into the battle, and they will wipe out those barbarian animals. Why hasn't Tavi done that yet?
The Senator has no idea about war, it is all abstract to him, and people's lives mean nothing to him. Not his own soldiers, certainly not the enemy, or the helpless Aleran people caught in between. And so, after some intrigue, Tavi finds himself arrested on the accusation of treason, and send to prison.

Tavi is not interested at all at staying there. He has a plan to make an end to the war, freeing the three legions to join the fight against the High Lord of Kaldera. And as he has just found out about his true heritage, he has the means to do so!
And with the help from his loyal friends, he sets out to spring the previous ambassador of the Canim out of prison in the capital city of Alera, while being pursued by some lethal assassins, employed by the Senator. Or rather, the other High Lord he has sold himself too….

Meanwhile, the First Lord is on a dangerous mission of his own, with the help from Amara and Bernard of Calderon. And that certainly doesn't go as planned …

Amazing story, and again it kept me up way too late, and this time I had to work the next day. I love seeing how Tavi grows, and comes into his own. He has become a man, a real leader with a great sense of honor and duty. He even starts learning some magic, although he still cannot manifest a Fury of his own. Kitay is still at his side, as are Max and his halfbrother. When Max's stepmother disappeared, he finally got to build a relationship with his halfbrother (who is just as powerful and their father's Heir).
One of their most trusted officers is not who he seems to be, and his loyalty might be in question … or not?
I loved the interactions with the Canim, and how Tavi has learned their ways and customs. I look forward to reading book 5 very son.

9 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 8 februari 2016

Jim Butcher - Cursor's Fury

The third book in the Codex Alera series, published December 5, 2006.
Genre: fantasy
Cover: beautiful

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In his acclaimed Codex Alera novels, bestselling author Jim Butcher has created a fascinated world in which the powerful forces of nature take physical form. But even magic cannot sway the corruption that threatens to destroy the realm of Alera once and for all…
When the power-hungry High Lord of Kalare launches a merciless rebellion against the First Lord, young Tavi of Calderon joins a newly formed legion under an assumed name. And when as the ruthless Kalare allies himself with a savage enemy of the realm, Tavi finds himself leading an inexperienced, poorly equipped legion-the only force standing between Alera and certain doom …

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, and I have no idea why it took me so long to pick up book 3 in the series. I am absolutely not sorry that I did, as I loved the story. And after finishing it at 02.37 on a Monday morning (luckily, I was free that day), I started book 4 when I woke up again.

I love that this series does not completely focus on one hero, or heroine, but that more main characters are followed, when they fight for the realm. In my opinion, the main hero is Tavi of Calderon, a young boy who doesn't know his real heritage, who doesn't have the magic post people do have, but who is smart and resilient, and manages to save the day when it counts. Of course he fails at times as well, which keeps him human. It is based on the Roman empire, especially the army, although I am absolutely not an expert in that area. But the armour, the weapons, the names of the different ranks, all point to that. And I like it.

Two of the High Lord's want to take over the position of the current First Lord, who is getting older and has no Heir. Both are not a good choice, as they would only benefit themselves and not the people of Alera. Not that the current High Lord is a very good ruler, but he manages well enough and is extremely powerful. Gaius Sexus is the current High Lord and he is loosing power and influence fast. By playing his two main enemies out against the other, he hopes to survive a bit longer until his Heir is ready to be announced. Countess Amara is his most trusted Cursor, often away on missions for the Crown. She is secretly married to Bernard, Count of Calderon, and Tavi's uncle. Cursor's are not allowed to marry, but oh well. Some rules are meant to be broken.

Tavi is sent to the newly formed Legion of Alera, as the third subtribune of the Tribune Logistica. His good friend Max will join as well as Centurion, and weapons trainer, and their former Master, also a Cursor to the Crown, will join as Senior valet. This does make Tavi something of an officer, and as he doesn't know anything about the army, Max and Magnus will have to teach him as much as possible on their journey to the Legion.

Of course, a ploy to keep Tavi away from danger and out of the public eye and his many enemies, always backfires. Because when the High Lord of Kalare attacks the rest of the realm, his legion is sent to defend an important bridge. And when Alera is invaded by over 60.000 Canim, that bridge is essential to keep them from overtaking the rest of the country. The Canim don't use fury's as the Aleran's do, but they are not without magic altogether, and their first strike, is as deadly as possible, as it wipes out the commander's tent during a planning strategy. And suddenly, Tavi finds himself in charge of the Legion, as the highest ranking officer left….

I really like Tavi, he is young and so very resourceful and wants to do his best for all the people of Alera, and somehow he manages that. In the previous book he made a bond with Kitai, a young girl from the Marat, and she has followed him to his new post. It takes a while before he discovers her, but after that, they stay together whenever possible. She is a great help for him, with her different look at things, being so very alien at times.
I also like Max a lot, Tavi's best friend. Max is the bastard son of one of the High Lords, who never acknowledged him, and his wife has been trying to kill Max for years. So when his halfbrother is another Centurion in the Legion, his stepmother has joined as well, to keep her son safe. She is a gifted healer, something a Legion is always in need off. But she has some other reasons as well, as she is Kalare's younger sister …

If you like fantasy, intrigue, politics, corruption, fighting, magic, different races, you really should try this series. I love it.

9 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 7 februari 2016

Lori Handeland - In the Air tonight

The first book in the Sisters of The Craft series, published June 2, 2015.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: Lovely.

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Four centuries ago, in a small Scottish village, three baby girls escaped the wrath of a witch hunter. Today, one young woman will learn about her secret history, her heart's destiny, and the sisters she never knew she had...
With her blue-black hair and dark eyes, Raye Larsen has never fit in with the Scandinavian community of New Bergin, Wisconsin. Being adopted is part of the reason she feels like an outsider, but what really sets Raye apart is her ability to see dead people. Everywhere. She's learned to keep her visions to herself...until she stumbles onto the ghost of a murder victim who needs Raye's help.
Enter Bobby Doucet, a distractingly handsome homicide detective who has been tracking a killer all the way from New Orleans. Could this be the break in his case he's been looking for all along? Meanwhile, the deeper Raye gets involved with the case-and with Bobby-the closer she comes to unlocking the mystery of her own origins. What she discovers about herself could destroy everything she knows...and everyone she loves. Is finding the truth worth the risk?

I have enjoyed Lori Handelands werewolf stories for years now, and when she wrote a new series about witches, I was excited. It still is related to the werewolf books though, as Edward makes an appearance here as well.
So I bought this trilogy as soon as possible, but for some reason was hesitant to start reading them. When I finally started reading this book though, I was very pleasantly surprised, as I liked it from the first page.
Someone is trying to kill Raye, as a mad man with a hatchet shows up in her apartment. She manages to escape him, and runs outside on the street. Where she meets Bobby Doucet, a police officer from New Orleans on the trail of a serial killer. Raye doesn't have a clue who is trying to kill her, or why. But she can give Bobby a clue about his serial killer, but telling him, all the murder victims were witches. And when their relationship grows, she confesses to him that she can see and talk to ghosts. She proves it, by telling him about one of the ghosts around him, a murder case he never solved and that keeps bothering him. When his partner in New Orleans follows up on her lead, the case is solved at last, and Bobby has no choice but to believe her. There is a voodoo queen in his own ancestry, but he never wanted to believe in it.

Finally Raye finds out why she has been seeing the strange Quaker like ghosts and the wolf all of her life, and the truth about herself and her birth family.

It was an exciting tale, and I enjoyed it very much. An ancient society of witch hunters has been resurfaced, and is killing witches, and now they want to resurrect their old leader. And that is one of the reasons, the police never found the killer, as there is not one of them, but a lot of them, all killing in different ways and leaving no clues behind that tie the cases together.

I love how Raye handles it all, how she discovers hidden powers in herself, and falls in love with Bobby. She is a kindergarten teacher, and she loves her job. She has one good friend, who is so very different from her, and they are fun together. I really like her.

I am very much looking forward to reading the next book, about one of Raye's sisters. I do hope she had a happier childhood than Raye.

9 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 6 februari 2016

Deborah Blake - Wickedly Wonderful

The second book in the Baba Yaga series, published December 2, 2014.
Genre: paranormal romance
Cover: great

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Though she looks like a typical California surfer girl, Beka Yancy is in fact a powerful yet inexperienced witch who's struggling with her duties as a Baba Yaga. Luckily she has her faithful dragon-turned-dog for moral support when she discovers that a mysterious toxin is driving the Selkie and Mer from their homes deep in the trenches of Monterey Bay.
To investigate, Beka buys her way onto the boat of Marcus Dermott, a battle-scarred former US marine, and his ailing fisherman father. While diving for clues, Beka drives Marcus crazy with her flaky New Age ideas and dazzling blue eyes. She thinks that he's rigid and cranky (and way too attractive). Meanwhile, a charming Selkie prince has plans that include Beka. Only by trusting her powers can Beka save the underwater races, pick the right man, and choose the path she'll follow for the rest of her life.

I have fallen hard in love with this authors' writing style and this series. Beka is another Baba Yaga working in America, but she is very different from Barbara. She is very unsure about herself and her powers, and when she gets an assignment from the Queen of the Mer and the King of the Selkies, she is not sure she can do it. The former Baba Yaga who trained her, made sure of that, by always belittling her and her efforts, and now acknowledging how very strong her powers are. Like Barbara Yager, she also has her own Chudo Yudo to guard the Water of Life while she is out surfing, but her Chudo Yudo is a Newfoundlander. A dragon disguises as a huge dog sure keeps visitors away. Her hut on chicken legs is a schoolbus in this incarnation, and her mortar and pestle an environment friendly little car.

But not Marcus Dermott, who doesn’t like Beka, whom he thinks is just another flaky blond after he fishes her up out of the ocean, destroying his father's fishing net. He doesn't believe her excuse of rescuing a seal baby (in reality it was a mer baby). And when she wants to hire him and his boat the next day, to go for some treasure hunting, he flat out turns her down. But Beka doesn't hesitate to turn it around on him, by telling his father that she wants to hire the boat to take her out, as she knows he is the owner and really needs the money.

And when a gorgeous Mer prince starts paying attention to her, Beka is sure she can solve the problem the underwater people are having. Chudo Yudo doesn't like the prince though and doesn't trust his motives. But Beka doesn't have many friends and is determined to do her best. But it is the grouchy Marcus who has captured her romantic interest …

I enjoyed this story a lot, and I really felt for Beka, who was betrayed by someone she trusted. But in the end, she managed to solve the problem, with the help of Marcus and Chudo Yudo. I can't wait to read more stories in this very original and entertaining world. Ancient witches who help people on occasion, but also guard the earth.
Marcus was a great hero, he has some serious issues and scars, and I loved how Beka helped him with that, and with his fathers illness. He really doesn’t trust Beka, and he knows she is lying to him that she is diving for treasure. But when needed, he is there for her. And very jealous of a certain Prince …

9 stars.

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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian