donderdag 26 februari 2015

Gini Koch – Random Musings from the Funny Girl

A collection of stories, published February 28, 2014.
Genre: non fiction, humor
Cover: cute

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Want to know the untold story of Gini Koch? Did Gini really spend time in the Peace Corps? And did she really get arrested for stalking Nathan Fillion? Is she fluent in any language other than sarcasm? And what's the real reason she's banned from Denny's.
The answer to these and other burning questions are in this book! So what are you waiting for? Buy this book NOW! It's not getting any younger, you know.
Is if fact or fiction? You decide.


I am a big fan of Gini Koch’s books, and in awe of her creativity and originality and I love her sense of humor. So when asked if I wanted to review this book, I jumped at the chance.
It is a collection of short stories about her personal life, her friends and family, her pets, things she did and survived, people she met. It is fun, and I could certainly recognize and identify with some stories.

Some examples:
- stories about the hotel from Hell she stayed in twice!
- a friend who cannot navigate at all
- a friend who is so very accident prone, and who lives in a house that is tilted
- her beloved dogs and their farts
- tax day woos
- some stories she wrote in the earlier years and were published in magazines
- her dating adventures before she married her wonderful husband
- her crush on Tom Cruise and Nathan Fillion and others
- adventures when in New York for Halloween
- and my favourite: how Patricia Briggs pranked her once.

If you are a fan of Gini Koch, this is a must read. The stories are all short and fun and easy to read, so you can take your time and reach one a day, or just binge like I did.

9 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 25 februari 2015

Recommendations from Karin for February 2015.

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:

As I have promised last month I would like to talk a little about another author who is going to attend the LLC in Berlin. So this is not going to be one of the usual recommendations but rather an invitation (hopefully) for you to discover an excellent author who is also one of the nicest and most easy-going writers Peggy and I met at the first LLC.

I’m talking about Shannon McKenna.

We had a blast of a time with her and Lisa Marie Rice and I remember vividly Shannon saying, “Oh, I wish I could write a love scene that covers 50 or even more pages!”

Actually the love scenes in her books don’t cover 50 or more pages but nevertheless they are long and pretty steamy.
It seems that she has just published the last of her McCloud-series books. I haven’t read the latest yet.

The reading order:

1. Behind Closed Doors

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2. Standing In The Shadows

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3. Out Of Control

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4. Edge of Midnight

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5. Extreme Danger

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6. Ultimate Weapon

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7. Fade to Midnight

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8. Blood and Fire

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9. One Wrong Move

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10. Fatal Strike

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11. In for the Kill

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As you might guess from the titles these are romantic thrillers, they are suspenseful stories of alpha heroes (and I mean ALPHA) and their heroines who are by no means timid little misses who follow their heroes’ every whim. McKenna’s villains are so creepy that sometimes I needed a break but had to return to the book quickly. (I had guessed right – everything went well!)
I would not recommend to read the books one after the other too quickly (I did that with John Grisham and that was a really bad choice - the books tend to blend together after some time), take your time to savour them.
I personally liked “Out of Control” best, although Davy, the hero, is not an easy man to live with. He is overprotective, domineering, growly and the quintessential alpha.
Margot, the heroine, sure has courage although she is on the run and has this creepy stalker. She comes across as quite feisty but there is one moment in the book which would fall under the TSTL- category. Still – I could forgive her quite quickly.

So, if you are game for a few hours of biting your nails / fanning yourself while reading one and the same book – give the McClouds a try!!

Karin photo Karin 2_zps9oybhsee.png

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I did try her books a few years ago, for the first LoveLetter Convention, but those books are really not written for me. I am glad you enjoy them though!
How about you, reader? Have you read her books?



© 2015 Reviews by Aurian


dinsdag 24 februari 2015

Theresa Romain – Season for Scandal

The third book in the Season series, published October 1, 2013.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: naughty smile

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Jane Tindall has never had money of her own or exceptional beauty. Her gifts are more subtle: a mind like an abacus, a talent for play-acting – and a daring taste for gambling. But all the daring in the world can’t help with the cards fixed against her. And when Edmund Ware, Baron Kirkpatrick, unwittingly spoils her chance to win a fortune, her reputation is ruined too. Or so she thinks, until he suggests a surprising mode of escape: a hasty marriage. To him. On the surface, their wedding would satisfy all the demands of proper society, but as the Yuletide approaches, secrets and scandals turn this proper marriage into a very improper affair.


I have dual feelings about this book. I did like Jane’s character, she was very different and refreshing from the usual historical romance heroines. She tried to gamble (poker!) with money she did not had, to earn her indepence. But she was playing against a cheat, and so she lost. Big time. At the same time, Edmund Ware spoiled her disguise, exposing her true identity to her opponents. He then offers to pay off her gambling debts, not knowing it is 10.000 pounds. The exact sum of the dowry her cousin Lord Xavier has promised her. And so a marriage of convenience is made.
Edmund needs to marry soon, as he is afraid an old scandal will come to light, destroying him and his family, and he wants an heir before that happens. And Jane has secretly been in love with Edmund since she was a toddler, and so she agrees. But Edmund doesn’t want her love, all he wants is to make her happy and give her gifts she doesn’t need or want.

What he doesn’t realize either, is that Jane is a pour cousin and has always lived in the country. She never learned how to ride a horse, or dance, or etiquette. She has no idea how to be a Baroness. But she is very smart, and she learns manners by copying them from another Baroness she makes him point out.

Edmund is really suffering from the old scandal, and has been separated from his family ever since. Punishing himself. And really, I thought him such a stupid man, and totally not hero material as I like them. He goes out of his way to be nice to everyone, every single wallflower at a ball, and random people in the street. So when Jane can’t take her marriage anymore, as she wants more than Edmund can give her, more of his time, of himself, she is immediately being ostracised. How could she leave that nice Lord Ware.

The ending did make up for me disliking Edmund though, when Edmund finally shared his secret with Jane, to get her back, and how they decided how to deal with it. I enjoyed that very much.


If you like historical romances, but want something different from rakes and rogues and ballrooms now and then, try a Theresa Romain book. She always surprises me with her storylines, and her characters. She is firmly on my autobuy list.

8 stars.



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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 23 februari 2015

Robin Kaye – Back to you

The first book in the Bad Boys of Red Hook series, published December 31, 2012.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: nice

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Award-winning author Robin Kaye proves that home is where the heart is, even for the bad boys of Red Hook, Brooklyn ....
It would take a miracle for Storm Decker to return to Red Hook - or a tragedy. The neighborhood holds too many painful memories of his troubled childhood, along with the mistake that sent him running from the kindness of the ex-cop he'd come to consider his father. But when Pete suddenly falls ill, Storm is called home to face the past he tried to leave behind long ago...
Breanna Collins never expected to see Storm again after he left town without a word, breaking her heart. She's angry that he can't seem to appreciate all the changes in their hometown. But she still feels a powerful connection to her old flame. And unless she can remind him of all the reasons to stay, she knows he'll never stick around long enough to give their romance the second chance it deserves....


Twenty or so years ago, Pete took in three abused boys, and gave them a home. He also took in Breanna, when her father died and her mother became over protective of her. As kids, Storm and Breanna fell in love with each other, but Storm did not want to stay in Red Hook, there was no future for him there, only bad memories. And so he ran away. He has ended up in New Zealand as the owner of a successful firm, designing yachts, and racing yachts. The multi million dollar kind of yachts. Breanna stayed at Red Hook though, where she is managing Pete’s bar and restaurant, after modernizing it. But now Pete has had a heart attack, and she can’t take care of Pete, the business, and Pete’s newest charge on her own. And so she has called to Logan for help, Logan being one of Pete’s other foster kids.
What Bree does not anticipate, is that Logan has send Storm. Or that she still has feelings for him. But what use are those feelings if he does not plan on staying more than two weeks? Why would she risk falling in love all over again with a man who will leave her again? She has made a nice life for herself in Red Hook. She is an active member of a committee to revive Red Hook, and make it a good place to live. And they have been very successful. She also has to take care of her mother, who doesn’t leave her house at all anymore.

Storm is determined to show Breezy that he has changed, that he has grown up, but how can he convince her of that fact? Lucky for him, her friends are on his side, as they want her to have a love life. He is shocked at the change in Pete “Pop”, and he is determined to take care of him, Nicki, and of the business. He just is not very good at organizing things, or taking care of a kid. But Nicki reminds him so much of himself, he is determined to do his best.


Storm and Bree keep butting heads, and Bree keeps distrusting Storm. And I really do understand why, and agree with her. Why should she fall in love with a guy determined to leave again as soon as possible? And what kind of idiot teaches a 10 year old girl how to drive? She can’t even look over the steering wheel, or touch the pedals! The fact that he stole cars at that age doesn’t mean children should be able to drive at that age. And when Bree decides to just use Storm for sex, and nothing else, he refuses her as he does not want to be used that way, he wants more.

Still, I did enjoy the story a lot, and I liked all the main characters. Both Storm and Bree have their scars and past to overcome. Perhaps Bree has become too rusted in her ways, not really living or taking risks. Can Storm relocate from Down Under back to New York?

I look forward to reading the other boys’ stories and I can guess at one of the heroines being Bree’s good friend Rocki.

7 stars.



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© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 22 februari 2015

Susan Elizabeth Phillips – Hot Shot – Read for #LLC2015

A novel, published June 1, 1991.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: my book has a much prettier cover

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Dear Readers:
Of all the books I’ve written, I’m proudest of Hot Shot. This was a story I’d been longing to tell for years, the kind I love best – the story of a woman with the courage to take on the world of men. And was there ever a heroine more ill-equipped to do that than proper, well-bred Susannah Faulconer?
Susannah fled her society wedding on the back of a bad boy’s Harley and enters a world for which no etiquette book could ever prepare her. A world with men such a Mitch Blaine, a corporate genius who has no time for a rich socialite, and Sam Gamble, a charismatic visionary. You’ll also meet Yank Yankowski, one of those fabulous nerds I love writing about. Those three men will force Susannah to test both her courage and the power of her love in the biggest challenge of her life.
Come along. Take this journey with me.
Love, Susan Elizabeth Phillips.


The first part of the book deals with Susannah’s childhood, and that was bad. Her flighty, shallow and egoistical mother left her with her grandmother to resume her party girl life. But her grandmother was mad, and punished the little girl severely for every imagined infraction of the rules. And so Susannah became a little mouse, scared of her shadow. Until one day, her mother’s new husband came for a visit, and discovered her locked in the closet, and he rescued her.
He fell in love with her instantly, even more than with his own daughter, Susannah’s half sister Paige. But just when Susannah learned to enjoy life, to be a child for the first time, she was kidnapped, and left for death in the desert. Only to be rescued in the nick of time.

From that day on, her life was one of rigid security, and lived firmly within the rules. Obeying her new father, and doing everything she can to please him. She became the wife her mother could never be for this successful businessman. (But never in a sexual way! Don’t worry!)

But just a few weeks before her marriage, Susannah meets Sam. A free spirit, a rebel and a visionary, and for some reason, he sees through her facade to the passionate woman hidden within. Her father punishes her for having him meet with Sam, by giving her the cold shoulder (again). And when her fiancĂ© shows the same way of “punishing” her for disagreeing with him, she doesn;t know what to do anymore. She is only 25 and she feels like an old woman already. So when Sam crashes her wedding on his Harley and commands her to come with him, she does. Burning all her ships behind her, earning the vengeance of her father, her half sister and her fiancĂ©. Her half sister has been admonished to be like Susannah all her life, and she has rebelled against it forever, being disowned by her father because of it. But now that Susannah has left, her father needs her to stop in ...

And so Susannah enters the world of geeks, of visionaries, the time of the first personal computers and computer games. With Sam as the man with the vision, and his best friend Yank as the genius who can build it, and Susannah as the practical one who can hold it all together and organize everything, they start their own small computer company. It is a time for geeks to work out of their garages, Steve Jobs is doing the same thing with Apple, and the big companies are laughing at them. Personal computers as household goods? Who would want such a thing? Computers are gigantic things, filling whole rooms, and are only owned by big companies.



My first book by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and it certainly won’t be my last one. I was mesmerized by this story; I was totally submerged in it. It was so interesting and so well written and I loved Susannah and how she grew from an obedient daughter into a self reliant woman. From riches to rags to riches again. She literally only has the bridal dress on her back when she flees with Sam, as her father freezes all her accounts and gives her nothing. So he has to support her completely at first.

It was such an exciting time to read about. And see Susannah grow. She and Sam are in love, and they eventually marry, but Sam is just not good for her. He is a taker, and he won’t give in return. But she will never be sorry for those years spend together.

I really liked Sam’s mother, and hated how he treated her, she was never good enough, he wanted the best and she loves Elvis on Velvet and owns a very small hairsalon. He loves Susannah for her class, and her elegance, and her good taste.

So: amazing story, amazing characters, awesome timeperiod. What are you waiting for? Even though it is an “old” book, buy it and read it!

10 stars.



Love this book

Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Read for #LLC2015
For more info look: http://www.loveletterconvention.com/en/

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 21 februari 2015

Susan Mallery – Sweet talk – Read for #LLC2015

The first book in the Keyes Sisters series, published July 1, 2008.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Cover: fun, but I don’t get it at all.

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Is there anything sweeter than a first love?
Don't ask Claire Keyes. The twenty - eight - year - old piano prodigy has never had a regular boyfriend, much less a real romance. Her music career has left little room for friends or family - which is just part of the reason she hasn't seen the family bakery or her two sisters in years.
But now Nicole is sick, and Jesse is AWOL. Despite the fact that Claire can't boil water, she's determined to play caretaker. Connecting with her sisters tops her to - do list... along with falling in love, or at least in lust, for the first time.
Ruggedly sexy Wyatt just might fit the bill. Although he keeps saying that he and Claire come from entirely different worlds, he lights up hotter than a bakery oven whenever Claire is near. If this keeps up, she just might sweet - talk him into her bed... and her life.


I know Susan Mallery has written lots and lots of books, and is most famous for her Fools Gold series. This is my first Susan Mallery book, but it certainly won’t be my last. At first I thought it would be too silly for me to enjoy, a woman gets a phone call from her estranged younger sister, asking for help, and she drops everything she should be doing and heads on over. She even rents a car while she doesn’t really know how to drive and certainly does not feel confident doing it.
But I was proven wrong fast enough, when I got sucked into the story.

Nicole and Claire are twins, but they were separated when they were six. Claire blames Nicole for that, as she had to hear all about her sisters brilliance. And when she was 12, her mother joined Nicole, leaving Claire behind to take care of their younger sister Jesse, and their father. When their mother died in a car crash, and Claire survived, Nicole blames her for that as well, and told her at the funeral never to come back. They were 16 at the time.

Nicole believes that Claire has lived a charmed princess life all those years, but that is not true at all. When she was 3 years old, Claire discovered a piano for the first time, and she started playing it. Since that day, her life has been filled with lessons. A prodigy! Her mother and grandmother were so proud of her! When she was six, her grandmother took her on the road, giving concerts, practicing long hours, and travelling, from hotelroom to hotelroom. Never time to make friends, to be a normal kid, or to meet other children. She missed her twin sister and her family dreadfully. When she was 12, her grandmother could no longer be with her, and her mother came instead. But Claire’s life never changed. She was a famous concert pianist now, and very sought after.
Even while her mother was dying in the hospital, her manager made her go to her next engagement and play. And as a dutiful child who did not know better than to obey her manager and her mother, she went. She did not get any time to grief.

Nicole is 28 now, and is on the verge of a break down. Or actually, she did break down during her last show and had to be removed from stage. She needs to change her life, but she does not really know what she wants to do. She never learned anything else but play the piano.

So Jesse’s phone call came at just the right time, and she left all her obligations behind her, to take care of her sister. The sisters she hasn’t seen or heard from in 12 years. And not for lack of trying on her part. Nicole will need her now.

Nicole doesn’t want Claire in her home, but she has little choice. She needs to be taken care of, and as she has just kicked her husband out when she discovered him with her little sister, there is no one. She kicked Jesse out as well. Her best friend Wyatt has his own business and his little girl to take care off, so he can’t stay with her either. Nicole runs the family bakery, and Claire wants to help out there as well, but Nicole’s staff doesn’t want her there either, and she messes things up a bit at first. But like at the house, Claire perseveres, and slowly she gains the respect of the staff.

It takes a long time for Nicole and Claire to talk about their grievances. I liked how Claire just kept on trying, no matter how nasty Nicole was. She is sweet, and she is learning how to live a normal life. Doing laundry, driving, cooking, and even babysitting. Wyatt doesn’t like her, as he has been listening to Nicola for years, but he needs someone to look after his little daughter, who is deaf, now Nicole can’t do it.
I loved how Claire and Amy bonded, and how Amy could feel the music Claire was playing.

I really, really liked Claire. She realizes she misses her music, and she really needs to play, but she is in charge of her own schedule, and she will decide how often she will perform, and if she wants to live in Seattle, with or without Wyatt, she can do that as well.

The romance with Wyatt was slow. Wyatt comes from a big family of men who are lousy at relationships. He is divorced, his wife left him when Amy was 3 months old, and he has been a single dad ever since. So he is pretty clear with Claire, they will have an affair and that is it. He doesn’t want to marry ever again, or fall in love. He resents being attracted so much to her, why couldn’t it have been her sister, who is his best friend?


A nice romance, but the book really evolves around the three sisters, their misconceptions and how they can become friends. Jesse is hiding something, I can’t figure out what she is hiding about almost sleeping with Nicole’s husband. Was he trying to rape her? She really needs to do some growing up and acknowledge her mistakes instead of blaming others.

I look forward to reading the other two books in this trilogy.

8 stars.



Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Read for #LLC2015
For more info look: http://www.loveletterconvention.com/en/

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 20 februari 2015

Lisa Marie Rice – Reckless Night – Read for #LLC2015

Book 3.5 in the Dangerous series, published November 29, 2011.
Genre: romantic suspense
Cover: nice

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Victor "Drake” Drakovitch used to run a criminal empire, but he gave it all up for the woman he loves. Now his only wish is to live a long life with his beautiful wife, Grace. But how to thank the woman who has given him everything?
This Christmas, Grace already has what she wants – unquestioning devotion, fierce protection ... and the best sex a woman has ever had.
Grace, an accomplished artist, abandoned the life she knew in order to be with the one man she could never live without.
Until terror strikes and Grace realizes that the best gift of all is a dangerous husband.


When an assassin came too close to eliminate Drake in his own high security apartment in New York, the former weapons dealer faked his own death and fled with his wife to a private island, where they live in luxury, but seclusion. He has never known anything but danger and high stakes living, until he met Grace, and he fell in love. Keeping her safe and happy are his only intentions now.
Grace is an artist, and she fell in love with Drake the moment she met him, at gunpoint in an alley where he saved her life. She has given everything up to be with him, and she regrets nothing. She doesn’t want expensive jewellery, fur coats or other priceless items, she just wants him.
But now, he has given her a Christmas present she loves. A long weekend in Sydney, Australia, where they will visit the opera, the theater, restaurants. Everything she used to love doing in New York even when she was could not afford it.
Drake is confident they will remain anonymous. He never did much business in Australia, and after his plastic surgery, even facial recognition programs won’t recognize his face.

But danger still finds them ...


A little novella, and I loved it from the very first page. The story sucked me in at once. A bad guy who is retired, but not reformed. All he wants is to make his wife happy, and all his expensive gifts are insufficient. He admires the gifts she makes for him, as she is truly an amazing artist. And now she has thrown him his first birthday party ever. He doesn’t even know when he was born. He survived somehow on the streets of Odessa and became a very successful killer and businessman. And now he has found love. He learns to see beauty in things, because she does.

Yes it is a short story, but I absolutely adored it, and I am even gladder that he was not killed after coming out of hiding, as would have happened perhaps in romantic suspense.

9 stars.



buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

Banner 2015 photo BannerLLC2015versie5_zps31bfcccb.jpg

Read for #LLC2015
For more info look: http://www.loveletterconvention.com/en/

© 2015 Reviews by Aurian