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

vrijdag 5 februari 2016

Freya looks back at 2015, and shares her goals for 2016.

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, or share other bookrelated stuff. Today’s post is made by Freya from Holland.

Freya:

My first post for this year is a looking back post. I used to do it on my own blog, but since I stopped blogging there, Aurian lets me use her blog for this post.

Read

I’ve read 63 novels and 31 novellas last year, a total of 94 stories. Compared to earlier years that’s not bad, but it’s still not the 100 stories I set out to read. I didn’t make a last sprint in my Christmas vacation because of a sudden Dr. Who addiction.
The 100 will also be a target for this year. I hope I will reach that. I have to eliminate some distractions, but that should be possible. And there are very good books coming out, this year.

Bought

2016 saw my library growing with 418 books. Most came from Berlin. Aurian and I were at the Loveletter Convention. I got books from Annie West and Shannon McKenna. Also there were books donated by Kris, from the organization. After the convention Aurian got in contact with Kris and organized the “Great Book Haul of 2015”. I took 323 books from that pile of books Kris (and Aurian) didn’t want. The other 65 books were bought at The Book Depository (34), Second-hand (24) and at a bookfair (7). The seven books I was given and the book I won completes the list. Next to that I also bought 25 digital books, mostly at Amazon.

Spent

I spent about €525,- on these books. This is much less than other years (2013 € 900; 2014- € 720,-) and an average of €1.25 per book.
Unfortunately the price of BD books is getting higher and higher these years.

Loved

The books I loved the most were:
- Andrews, Ilona - Sweep in peace
- Bishop, Anne - Vision in silver
- Brockway, Connie - All through the night (reread)
- Draven, Grace - Radiance
- Harrison, Thea - Midnight's kiss
- Kennedy, Jeffe - The Talon of the hawk
- Robb, J.D. - Naked in death (reread)
- Singh, Nalini - Archangel's enigma
- Singh, Nalini - Rock hard
- West, Annie - The sultan's harem bride

Resolutions

My resolutions for this year are:
1. Read at least 100 stories
2. Finish the series I started, especially these:
- Cherry Adair – T-FLAC
- Lara Adrian – Midnight Breed
- Maya Banks – Kelly Group International
- Meljean Brook – Guardians
- Jayne Castle – Guinevere Jones
- Kresley Cole – Immortals after dark
- Alyssa Day – Warriors of Poiseidon
- Suzanne Enoch – Samantha Jellicoe
- Christine Feehan – Ghostwalkers and/or Sisters of the heart
- Angela Knight – Mageverse
- Gini Koch – Kitty Katt
- Lynn Kurland – MacLeod / Piaget
- Marjorie M. Liu – D&S
- Shannon McKenna – McCloud
- Karen Marie Moning – Highland
- Robin D. Owen – Celta
- Lynn Viehl – Darkyn/Kyndred
- Eileen Wilks - Lupi

3. Start reading these series
- Ilona Andrews – Kate Daniels and/or Edge
- Jennifer Ashley – Shifters unbound
- Mary Balogh – Survivor’s club
- Kirsten Callihan – Darkest London
- Anna Campbell – Sons of Sin
- Loretta Chase – Dressmakers
- Kim Harrison – the Hollows
- Karen Hawkins – MacLean Curse
- Larissa Ione – Demonica
- Alexandra Ivy – Guardians of Eternity
- Eloisa James – Dutchess
- Lisa Kleypas – Wallflower
- Elisabeth Lowell – Donovans
- Susan Mallery – Buchanan
- Alexis Morgan – Paladins of Darkness
- Mary Jo Putney – Lost Lords
- Nora Roberts – Night Tales; Stars of Mithra; Circle
- Gena Showalter – Lords of the Underworld
- Linnea Sinclair - Ghost
- Christina Skye – Draycott
- multi author – Royal house of Shadows

If I can do 2 and 3, I’ll get to realize 1. So hoping for a great year for reading and buying books!

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Aurian: Thanks for this summary Freya! I sure hope you will indeed read some of the great series you have already started years ago, as I know you will love those books.
But to tease you, I can tell my readers, that unless you shake your fascination for/addiction to anything David Tennant, you won't make it ;)



© 2016 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 4 februari 2016

Heather Blake - Ghost of a Potion

The third book in the Magic Potion Mystery series, published October 6, 2015.
Genre: paranormal cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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In the latest from the bestselling author of One Potion in the Grave, it's Halloween in Hitching Post, Alabama, and potion shop owner Carly Bell Hartwell has an especially spooky customer to handle...
With all the ghosts that haunt her at this time of year, Carly doesn't exactly rush to celebrate Halloween. Even a costume ball organized by her boyfriend Dylan's mother, Patricia Davis Jackson, holds little allure. But to please Dylan, who wants peace between the two women, Carly reluctantly agrees to go.
Gossip around town is that architect Haywood Dodd plans to make a big announcement at the party. But before he can address the crowd, he's found dead with Patricia standing over him, holding the murder weapon. Anxious to clear Patricia's name and perhaps broker a truce with her, Carly would love to use her snooping skills to find the real killer. Only she has bigger problems to deal with - ghosts are flocking to her for help, including a very persistent Haywood Dodd...


Carly is a witch with her own magical potions shop, and she hates Halloween. Those three dangerous days, the ghosts come out and if they find out she can see them, they won't leave her alone until she has helped them with whatever is preventing them to cross. She used to love this time of year, and helping ghosts find some closure until a very nasty experience with an evil ghost a few years ago. Nowadays, she just hides inside the house with a lot of comfort food and chick movies. Her cousin Delia thinks otherwise, she sets out especially to help as many ghosts as she can. But the best laid plans go amiss, when Carly is front and center at a murder scene, and the ghost asks for her help. And then he disappears as he doesn't want Carly to find out his secrets after all.

While searching for Haywoods ghost, Carly is noticed by Virgil Keane, and he needs to know his beloved dog Louella is all right, as he himself was killed in a hit and run car accident while walking her.

But Carly doesn't give up on her quest to find out the truth about who killed Haywood Dodd, after the why was pretty easy. More and more secrets are unearthed, and I was absolutely flabbergasted at the reason why Patricia dislikes Carly so much that she has been sabotaging her relationship with Dylan from the get-go.

Delia also doesn't have an easy Halloween, when she find Jenny Jane Booth. When a ghost comes too close, the empath/witch feels the ghosts' death, and as Jenny suffered a stroke, it is almost impossible for Delia to walk, and to communicate with Jenny. Finally Carly's father helps them when a note also doesn't work, by telling the ghost (who doesn't affect him) to keep her distance from the girls. Jenny Jane Booth wants to see her grandchild and so the mission is to find out where Moriah is living now, and to find a way to bring Jenny Jane with them, without her disabling them in the car. When the three days are over, the ghosts will fade and not be able to cross over until next year …


So, some good deeds are done by Delia and Carly, but the secrets that are unearthed have caused a lot of trouble and death by the people who wanted it to be kept a secret. But the biggest one is about Dylan, Carly's boyfriend, who is also a Deputy, and his mother, who is the main murder suspect. I was absolutely astonished about what I found out, and I can't wait to learn what will happen next.

Those of you who have followed my blog for a while now, know that I love cozy mysteries, and especially paranormal cozy mysteries. And I have to tell you, Heather Blake is one of the best authors I have read so far in this genre. Heartily recommended. It is the perfect mix of humor, suspense, danger, magic and love and great characters that makes this series a delight to read. Carly's family sure is eccentric!

10 stars.



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© 2016 Reviews by Aurian