woensdag 29 februari 2012

Lisa Kleypas – Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor (re-read)

The first book in the Friday Harbor series, published in 2010.

Christmas Eve
Entrusted with the guardianship of his orphaned niece Holly, Mark Nolan plans to marry his longtime girlfriend Shelby. But an unwelcome and tantalizing distraction appears in the form of Maggie Conroy, a young widow who has recently opened a toy shop at Friday Harbor. Mark is a cynic and a realist, but Maggie is a dreamer who hopes to make him believe in magic . . .

When Holly’s mother dies in a car accident, her brother Mark is stunned to find out he is appointed as Holly’s guardian. How on earth is he going to manage a 6 year old girl? It is not like he and his brothers had a good example growing up. Their parents fought constantly, and punished their children without much thought. His bachelor one-bedroom condo in Friday Harbor is no place to raise a child, so he convinces his younger brother Sam to let them move in with him. Sam has bought a vineyard with a huge rambling Victorian mansion, which has room enough for the both of them. It only needs an enormous amount of work to make it habitable and safe for a child. Of course, the very first rooms that are finished, are Holly’s bedroom and her bathroom, and then the kitchen.
Both men become attached to Holly very fast, never knowing they could actually feel love. And the brothers become closer to each other as well. But one thing worries them: since her mothers death six months ago, Holly hasn’t spoken a single word. The paediatrician tells them it will take time, and not to force anything, but Mark is worried about Holly.
Then one day, they are visiting the local toy store. Holly becomes entranced with a faery house up on display, and the owner of the toyshop explains everything about faeries to Holly. Mark is not so happy with that, as he sees no point to let Holly believe in things that are not real, like magic. But he has never seen Holly bond with a woman so fast, even taking her hand. He himself is also very attracted to Maggie, even though he has a steady girlfriend whom he is even contemplating marriage to. Of course he is not in love with Shelby, but still they could have a good life together.
Then Maggie gives Holly a large seashell, and tells her to whisper her secrets in it, to hear them come back at her, and after a while, Holly really does whisper, and suddenly starts talking to her uncle. Mark is so very relieved and happy with it, he doesn’t object any more.
Maggie is a widow of 28, who lost her husband to cancer. It was hard to see him die, and to stay strong for him, she doesn’t know if she can go through that again, but Mark and Holly are getting to her. Even though he has a girlfriend, she is attracted to him, something she hasn’t felt for a long time. Her family and friends want her to start dating again, after all it has been two years now, time to get on with her life.
When one night Holly gets very ill, Mark finally realises Shelby is not meant for him. It is Maggie he wants, and Maggie he needs in his life, and in Hollies too. But convincing Maggie of that, is not going to be easy.

I liked this little book, a lovely contemporary romance, with no suspense whatsoever. It has been a long time since I read something like it. I fell for the characters right away. Lisa Kleypas has a great writing style, she makes them come really alive for me. Humor and compassion are tightly interwoven. No rush rush romance, where they fall into bed at once, and are almost married at the end of the week. They have time to get to know each other, to know their own feelings.

I am really looking forward to the rest of the series, though I will always prefer her historical romances.

8 stars.

New additions to my addiction

Yesterday I received Pamela Palmer - A warrior's desire, which I won over at Preternatura book blog. Thanks Suzanne!
And today I received Shannon Stacey - Exclusively Yours, which I got from Christi from Smitten with reading book blog. Thanks Christi!

dinsdag 28 februari 2012

Kate Collins – Mum’s the Word

The first book in the Flower Shop Mystery series, published November 2, 2004.

Mum's the Word

I don’t meddle, honest! But can I help it if my nose for injustice is as keen as my green thumb? Now I, Abby Knight, law school dropout, am the proud new owner of Bloomers, my hometown flower shop. I’m devoted to making my business grow, but I’m no shrinking violet if someone needs my help to right a wrong – even if that person is already dead!
A thorny predicament.
So maybe Abby’s life isn’t the bed of roses she was hoping it would be. She adores her job, but a new low-cost competitor is killing her profits – and a black SUV just rammed her vintage Corvette in a hit-and-run. Determined to track down the driver, she accepts the help of hunky ex-cop Marco Salvare. But their budding relationship is threatened when the trail turns deadly. Now Abby is caught in a tangle of menacing phone calls, police corruption and murderous road rage. If she’s not careful, the next flower arrangement might be for her own funeral…

When Abby witnesses a big SUV bumping into her beloved yellow vintage Corvette, she is furious that the driver just goes of! The police don’t appear to be able to solve it soon, even though she has a partial numberplate, and there won’t be that many SUV’s in their small village. Abby’s father was a cop until he became disabled when chasing a drugdealer, who shot him. Which is one of the reasons Abby hates drugs, and drugdealers. So when she finds out, that the man she saw come running out of the ally, into his SUV and hitting her car in the process, might have been involved in a drug related murder, she intends to find him. She knows most of the cops in town, which ones are good cops, and which ones are not. And she just knows that one of them knows who that number plate belongs to, and won’t do anything about it. The police is certain that the murderer is a well known homeless man, by the name of Elvis, and set their caps for him, not listening to Abby when she tells them what she saw that morning.

With a little help of the new owner of the Bar and Grill next door, who is a retired cop and private eye (and veritable eye candy!), she sets out to find the person responsible for hitting her car, and who might also be the murderer, herself! Marco keeps trying to dissuade her from her “meddling” and to leave things to the cops, but Abby just won’t give up. If he cannot help her, she will investigate herself!
Then the harassment begins. Parking tickets for bogus reasons, nasty phonecalls in the middle of night, and it escalates when her brakes are cut, and when someone tries to run her off the road into the river. But still, Abby won’t give up.

There is also a second storyline involved, when Lottie’s cousin Pearl needs legal advice. Even though Abby warns Lottie (who used to own the flower shop first, and now works for Abby) warns her that she is not a lawyer, and not qualified to give legal advice. As it happens the woman, Pearl, and her handicapped son Tommy are abused by her husband. He does not hit them, but he punishes Pearl for every little thing. Taking away her grocery money, or her car. She knows absolutely nothing about their finances, her husband deals with all that. She doesn’t even own a creditcard or has a bankaccount herself. Pearl doesn’t want to go to a real lawyer, until Abby sets her up with Dave, the lawyer she was interning for while in law school. The husband of course doesn’t let go easily, he threatens Abby every time they meet, and he keeps pestering Pearl to come back home, and give up this foolish divorce (even though he has another girlfriend he is staying with).

Of course, there is a romantic element involved as well. Lottie fancies herself a matchmaker, and she wants to fix Abby up with the cute assistant DA on the case, who also happens to be Abby’s secret crush in high school. But he quickly looses his points when she is acting just like her former fiancée. Too full of himself, and he does not even remember her from high school! But she will need to be nice to him to find out what the police has as evidence against Elvis.
And there is the handsome Marco, the PI. He has a bad history with the police, which made him resign, and he hates dirty cops. Which is why he keeps helping Abby and of course because she is landing in too much trouble on her own already.

I have been looking forward to reading this series very much, as I love the Cozy Chick Blog, and Kate Collins is one of the lovely ladies on that blog. Unfortunately, I am a bit disappointed with this first book. I had the story figured out pretty soon, but our heroine could not even see the clues right in front of her. Only at the very last moments of the book, where she might have been killed, did she learn the truth, because she was told what happened. Not even that she figured it out herself. I really do like my heroines a fit smarter and faster!
I also really disliked that Marco kept harping on her “meddling” ways. Because she is a girl, she is meddling instead of investigating? Abby does have the right ideas, even if she cannot see the plot.

Abby also has her father, whom she loves, and a mother, who is extremely disappointed that Abby is not a lawyer or a doctor like her older brothers, but “just” a flowershop owner. But her mother still expects Abby to sell her very ugly pottery/art products in her shop. And she is expected for Friday dinner at the country club with the whole family. She reminds Abby of that multiple times a week, like she could forget. She hates those dinners, with the sisters in law who look down on her, and of course her ex-fiancé and his family having dinner there as well. Of course her mother still tries to bring them back together which is not something that will happen, ever.

Still, I did like the writing style a lot. Kate Collins has a nice style; it keeps flowing and never gets boring, even though Abby does some stupid things. It is never over the top. Abby is a nice heroine, she does whatever she can to help Pearl, even when it gets dangerous. She likes working with flowers, and doesn’t care what her mother thinks of that. I also liked the secondary characters, but I will have to get some feeling for Marco yet. Yes, he does save Abby in the end, but that is not enough in my book to fall for him.
I already mentioned Lottie, but there is also an older English lady who runs the coffee/tearoom that is part of the flowershop, as Abby keep trying new things to lure more clients.

I will read the rest of the series, as those are already on my shelf, but I do hope Abby gets a bit smarter in the next books. I like to be surprised by the plot, and not figure it out in the first half of the book.

6 stars

maandag 27 februari 2012

Susan Sizemore – Wings of the Storm

A novel, published February 1994. Don’t you love this cover? I have at least 4 books with this same cover!

Wings of the Storm

What was a woman to do?
When an experiment gone wrong landed Dr. Jane Florian in the Middle Ages, she vowed to make the best of things. And if that meant posing as Lady Jehane from the Holy Land, cleaning the castle from tower to dungeon, ousting the hounds from the banquet hall, and giving the mistress of the caste a makeover, then she would. Unfortunately, she hadn’t counted on her reaction to her new neighbour – the magnetic Sir Daffyd.
The Middle Ages might lack modern conveniences, but Jane had no complaints about the men. Sir Daffyd’s arrogant masculine sensuality fired her senses as no man from her own time had ever done. And yet, Jane’s secrets weren’t the only ones, for Sir Daffyd was a man of mystery himself.

Jane is working in an university lab studying energy signatures through time. Suddenly something happens, and she gets a glimpse of the future. Her young boss David Wolf is not happy with that, and before Jane knows it, he stuffs her in his timemachine, and sends her to the past, where she can do no harm. Unfortunately, the timemachine is not yet fully functioning, and she does not end up near a convent in France as was his intention, but somewhere in England. As Jane is an historian, and loves re-enactments and such, she is not lost. After all, David did sent her clothes appropriate for the timeperiod, and lots of trade goods that were worth a lot of money, like spices and jewellery and silk. So Jane makes up a story of having travelled from the Holy Land once she was widowed, to England to find a relative of her late husband. Unfortunately, all her servants have succumbed to a fever, and she is the last one standing. Her horse has run of, leaving her stranded in this fallen down tower.
Lucky for Jane, who changes her name to Jehane, he believes her, and he taker her home with him, as he is in need of a chatelaine. And Jane sure has her work cut out for her! His keep is a pigsty! And while Stephan goes of to secure his bride from his evil neighbour Hugh of Lilydrake, Jane goes to work. Getting the keep cleaned, the buildings repaired, and everything else that is needed. And when a very gloomy Lord Stephan comes home with his bride, and leaves almost at once to visit his liege lord, it is up to Jane to make Sibelle more attractive. The young woman was intended for a life in the convent, and now she has to be a bride. Which she doesn’t regret at all, as Lord Stephen is sure goodlooking, and she is already halfway in love with him. And so Jane puts Sibelle on a diet, and gives her plenty of exercise, making the young girl loose weight fast. And she puts her in a bath, so she finally discovers her one great feature: her long golden hair, which is shiny once it is finally clean. The nuns were not so big on bathing, but Jane sure is, and Sibelle grows to like it as well.

All would be well in Jane’s life, if it wasn’t for lord Daffydd, who keeps turning up in the most unfortunate events. He is some sort of landless knight, hunting for villains and marauders in the kings’ woods. He is good friends with Sir Stephan, and always welcome. But he sure rubs Jane wrong, and she just cannot hold her tongue as she is supposed to do around men. After all, a woman was only a possession back then.

And then King John (from Robin Hood!) is visiting. Jane really does not want to meet him, she knows too much about him, and she is just the type of woman he likes to “take his pleasure” with. And the King is so paranoia, he sees plots everywhere, and he kills whenever he likes it, guilty or innocent alike. So she does not want to meet him! What if she somehow changes history? Can Daffydd safe Jane from the King?

I sure did notice the age of this book, it was a bit dated. And it was also her very first book, according to my book bible, fantasticfiction.co.uk. It is a mix between historical romance and science fiction, due to the time travelling. Usually, this is done by magic, the fae, a curse, an object. But this time, by machine. And the machine really does work both ways after all.

I did like Jane, she made the best of the situation. She did not want to marry, but start her own convent, which was tricky in that time, as convents and priests were banned. Praying was not Jane’s thing, but she could do some good work every day. And of course, as Abbess/Prioress she can make her own rules. But fickle faith has other plans for her.
She dreadfully misses her coffee and chocolate, and proper sanitair. She would love a shower instead of taking a sponge bathe with cold water in the morning. Thanks to her hobby/study, she speaks the local language, which is not English nor French.
I love Susan Sizemore’s Prime series, mainly about vampires, and as I am a glommer, I just want her whole backlist. So I have some more historical romances on the shelf, waiting to be read. It did take me a while to finish this book, I just could not get into the story at first. So every now and then in the bath tub I read a few pages, until the story finally grabbed it, and I took it downstairs with me to finish it.

There was a lot I did like in the story, but also things I did not like. Some things were too modern I though, and everything went so easy for Jane. I did like the ending a lot though, and won’t be spoiling that for you. Susan Sizemore has a nice writing style, but I still prefer her paranormals. Still, I will read the other books I have someday 

6 stars

zondag 26 februari 2012

Yasmine Galenorn – Shaded Vision

Book 11 in the Otherworld / Sisters of the Moon series, published February 7, 2012.

Shaded Vision

We’re the D’Artigo sisters: sexy, savvy ex-operatives for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. But being half-human, half-Fae means our powers could go haywire at any time – usually the wrong time. My sister Camille is a wicked-good witch with three sexy husbands. My sister Menolly Is a vampire who’s dating a werepuma. And me? I’m Delilah, a two-faced werecat and a Death Maiden. I watch over things in the Supe Community, where trouble is about to go down hard…
It’s the night before Valentine’s Day and we’re preparing for our friend Iris’s wedding. But when we get word that the Supe Community Council has been bombed, things get really ugly. The coyote shifters – the Koyanni – are back and Newkirk, their new leader, has joined forces with a group of rogue sorcerers. Then, just as we think things can’t get worse, the demon lord Shadow Wing sends in a new front man, and life really goes to hell…

Short series update: Camille, Delilah and Menolly are send to Earth from Otherworld to find the 9 spirit seals that protect the portals between the Earth, Otherworld and the Subterranean Realms, which is where the Demons live. The Demons want to take over Earth as their own personal pleasure dome, and after that, Otherworld.
The sisters are half human, and half Fae, with Camille being a Priestess of the Moon Mother, Delilah a Death Maiden for the Autumn Lord, and Menolly is a vampire, and the official consort of Roman, the son of the Vampire Queen Blood Wyne, the head of the race.
They have to find clues to the spirit seals, retrieve them, and fight off the demons also looking for them. And of course, their adversaries are getting stronger and harder to fight. But also their friends and allies increase, adding more and more characters to the storyline.
Otherworld is the Realm where the Fae live, the Elves, and almost every other creature you can think of, though Earth has its own population, especially of Were’s. They are called Supes. And it is the Supe community who is helping them fight.
The books are told from different point of views, first book centers on Camille, the second on Delilah, and the third on Menolly, and so on, with them taking the lead and focusing on their feelings and private life.

This book has Delilah as the leading lady again, and although I like the bits with the Autumn Lord and her duties as a Death Maiden, she is not my favourite sister. Although she is growing up and facing more of life’s unpleasant reality. In this book we learn a bit more about Shamas, their Fae cousin. He is a sorcerer, which Camille finds a personal blow, as sorcerers and those who serve the Moon Mother are on opposite sides. Their last big war destroyed a big part of Otherworld. And Chase also finds out more about himself, and his heritage. Drinking the Nectar of Life has changed him, and he is no longer a FBH. The Triple Treat has been testing him, and he is still recovering from what they have told him.

The book started in a good way, with the preparations of Iris’ wedding. Of course, things could never go smoothly, not even for a day, as bad things start happening. The Supe Community Hall is bombed, and 5 of their friends are killed. Otherworld’ firebombs have been used, and rumors about sorcerers are floating. Camille, Delilah and Menolly thought they had gotten rid of Jaycee and Van, the sorcerers who where making and dealing in Wolf Briar, but they were wrong. They never left, nor did they work for Stacia Bonecrusher. They have been allied to Shadow Wing al along. And now they are creating hate groups, and stirring unrest between the Supes and the humans, culminating in hate crimes. It is not pretty, but thanks to some new friends and old friends, the public eye is being opened, and counter measures are taken.

As usual, this book is fast paced, lots of action, and little time for sleep and leisure activities, though Delilah and her boyfriend Shade, who is half dragon, and half something else, do have time for some nice love scenes, but also some serious talks about their relationship. I like those parts of the series, the evolving of their personal lives even against all the danger and action they are in.

I liked this series from the start, even though the amount of secondary characters seem to grow too much to remember everything. For instance, it took me a while to remember Hannah, and she has a big part in the previous book. And then there are the many guys living with them, someone always has to stay home to protect the house, Menolly’s lair and their baby gargoyle Maggie. (She would be a favourite demon snack).
The three sisters are great characters, they all have a bigger destiny though I am not sure about Menolly yet. The people they fall in love with are totally different and awesome, each in his/her own way, and so are their friends. The bad guys do not tend to stick around long, but they sure are something else. Mostly demons of course, but also really evil people.
And this book even had zombies to fight! I hate reading about zombies, I really do, but Yasmine Galenorn made it not too icky for me, thank you for that.

I really advise you to start reading this series from the start, don’t fall in the middle of it, because you won’t be able to follow everything, and I want you to like this as much as I do. What happens in their personal lives is as important as the overall story arc to understand and enjoy it all.

8 stars.

zaterdag 25 februari 2012

New addition to my addiction

Only one little book to add to my collection this week: Lisa Kleypas - Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor. I have already read it when it came out, but have now bought the paperback myself. Perhaps I will reread it, I did love it.

But the coming weeks will be busier I hope, as I have bought way too many books at Bookdepository.com lately. Even some series from new to me authors I have heard great things about.

vrijdag 24 februari 2012

J.D. Robb – Celebrity in Death

The 34th book in the In Death series, published February 21, 2012.

Celebrity in Death

Lieutenant Eve Dallas is no party girl, but she's managing to have a reasonably good time at the celebrity-packed bash celebrating The Icove Agenda, a film based on one of her famous cases. It's a little spooky seeing the actress playing her, who looks almost like her long-lost twin. Not as unsettling, though, as seeing the actress who plays Peabody - drowned in the lap pool on the roof of the director's luxury building. Talented but rude, and widely disliked, K. T. Harris had made an embarrassing scene during dinner. Now she's at the center of a crime scene - and Eve is more than ready to get out of her high heels and strap on her holster, to step into the role she was born to play: cop.

After the Icove mystery, Nadine Furst wrote a book about it, starring Eve, Roarke and Peabody. And now that book is made into a movie, and Eve and friends are invited to the set to meet the actors and everyone. Peabody is thrilled of course, she is a big fan of the actress who is playing her, but Eve could not care less. Unfortunately, there is no getting out from the obligations. That evening, there will be a dinner party. It still feels creepy, meeting her double, or the actor that plays Roarke, especially when he hits on her. But he is just a weak copy of the original.
The actress playing Peabody, named KT Harris is a mean character however. And when she ends up dead in the pool on the roof of the apartment, there are suspects galore. She picked fights with everyone, trying to get a bigger part in the movie, give herself more screentime, and did not hesitate to blackmail whomever she could.
And as the actors starring in the movie are very good ones, it is difficult to tell who is lying, or why. They all seem to have something to hide, but Eve will find out eventually. With three cops at the scene, a crime reporter, a psychologist, the murderer still is getting away with it. How come no one admits to having seen someone else go up to the roof, while they were watching some kind of promo film?
So Eve and Peabody will have to dig deep, to find the truth at last, and then to find the evidence to convict the person responsible. Even though KT was a horrible person, she did not deserve to get murdered because of it. And of course because of all the celebrities involved in this new murder case, the press has a field day, and Dallas and Peabody will have to face them. To Eve’s surprise, the new media liaison is actually some one she can work with, instead of pushing all the wrong buttons.

As always I loved this book, and read it in evening. Which made me way past my bedtime on a Wednesday evening, so today I was a bit groggy at the office. Still, no regrets, the book is worth it.
All the usual crew is there, Eve and Roarke, Peabody and McNab, Mavis, Leonarda and their Bella, even Trina makes a threating call to Eve about what to do with herself before the party. Mr and Dr Mira, Nadine Furst, Feeney and Whitney and Reo. It is just like visiting friends you don’t see all that often, immediately nice and cozy to catch up with them, but of course the book has its moments of suspense and action. Some nice love scenes between Roarke and Eve, some new toys to play with, but also a very beautiful moment with Peabody and McNab.

A good murder mystery, against a cast of great main and secondary characters you will grow to love over the course of this very long series. But they don’t bore me for a second, never do I have that same old, same old, feeling. Somehow, the mysteries stay fresh, and the personal relationship keeps evolving, getting better. JD Robb is an awesome author, and I can predict I will still be reading her books, this series, over 10 years.

If you are new to this series, I think you can read almost all the books as stand alones, but to get to know the characters best, and get a feeling for their relationships, I do recommend to start with book 1. You won’t regret it, even though I know it takes a lot of time to catch up with the series, and to stay catched up.

9 stars.

donderdag 23 februari 2012

Gini Koch – Alien Proliferation

The fourth book in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt series, published December 6, 2011.

Alien Proliferation

After the wildest wedding ever, Katherine “Kitty” Katt-Martini and her Alpha Centaurion husband Jeff are hoping life will settle down. But alien attacks are on the increase, and someone is testing a dangerous new drug on unwilling subjects within their group. As if that’s not enough, Kitty and a number of the A-C women are expecting their first babies.
No one is certain what this baby boom will lead to, but after almost losing Kitty in childbirth, they discover that their newborn’s talents are off the charts – and potentially dangerous. And just to add to their worries – the bad guys want their baby.
The last thing anyone in Centaurion Division needs after that is a conspiracy to kill the heads of the C.I.A.’s Extra-Terrestrial Division and the Presidential Terrorism Control Unit, otherwise known as Charles Reynolds and Kitty’s mother, Angela.
Then, suddenly key members of Alpha and Airborne start vanishing. Can Kitty, her remaining team members, friends old and new, and a totally unsuspected new partner rescue everyone and figure out how and why Kitty’s become a superhuman? Most importantly, can they pull it all off before the even Kitty dreads most – her Alpha Centaurion baby shower?

Kitty is very pregnant when this book starts, and feeling ugly, even though Jeff keeps reassuring her that she is beautiful and that he loves her and wants her. As bas as they were at planning their own wedding, they are even worse at picking out baby stuff. They cannot agree on anything. So when Kitty wakes up in the middle of the night, and cannot get back to sleep, they start browsing some more catalogues.
Then one of Kitty’s old school friends calls in a panic from Paris, that there are murderers after her. Jeff and Christopher set out at once to rescue her. And then for some reason, Kitty gets scared, and there is a creepy knocking on the door to her room. In Alpha Centaurion custody, no one knocks on her door, they all know she cannot get there to open it anyway. So who is knocking in the middle of the night? When security and Gladys also cannot help, and all the other friends hear the same knocking on their doors, there is James to the rescue. Braving the unseen dangers in the hallways and running towards Kitty. He didn’t see anyone or anything, but Kitty is so happy that he is there!
When the commotion is over, and all the members of security are found in their own rooms, asleep, with no memory how they got there, Jeff comes back, being his usual jealous self over Reader. Jeff felt Kitties terror while he was in Paris, but he could not abandon the mission to go back to her immediately. No matter he is gay, Jeff knows how much Kitty loves him, as a friend, but the man is gorgeous, for a human.

And then Kitty goes into early labor, and Jeff gets in total panicmode, having no idea what to do anymore. Tito tries to keep everyone out of the delivery room, but that is impossible. Not only Jeff and Christopher and Reader and her parents are there, the whole team of Airborne and Alpha is there. And when their little baby girl Jamie is born, she is way more powerful than anyone could ever have imagined. She will need all the help ACE, Jeff and Christopher can give her, to shield her from the emotions and thoughts of others.

Finally, Kitty sees Amy again, and asks her what happens, why she was chased and almost abducted by 20 men. Amy tells Kitty what she knows, even though it doesn’t make much sense to her, the whole division gets in lockdown. She was loaned by the company she works for to some other company they did business with, to sort out some environmental problems, and from that firm went to another and another, until she was sure, her own firm didn’t even know the firm she was working for at the moment. Accidentally, she overheard some talk about killing people she did not know, nor the agencies they work for, the acronyms where unknown to Amy, but she knew it was dangerous and she made a run for it. Apparently some old agent had given her a phone number to use if she ever got in trouble, and that was how she reached Kitty. As it so happens, the terrorists are after Kitty’s mother, Chuckie and some other people important in the anti-terrorist world. They go into lockdown immediately, pulling everyone even remotely in danger in. The ugly head of the Al Jhazeer terrorist agency is popping up again, even though Kitty killed their boss in the first book.
Not everyone is happy with the lockdown, especially this close to Christmas, and as nothing further happens, people get restless.

To her own astonishment, Kitty heals superfast from her pregnancy. She is turning into a superhuman, with her own sets of superpowers. The drug the bad people gave Jeff last year that altered him, has affected not only their baby, but also Kitty. And as the comic geek she is, she is totally cool with that!

As usual in this great series, a lot happens at the same time, multiple conspiracy complots are unravelled, mostly thanks to Kitty’s insight. With the help of her unsuspected new partner, Kitty saves the day; and Jeff and all the others of Alpha and Airborne team. But not without losses, which she totally regrets.

I like Kitty more and more. I totally do not share her taste in music, but it is fun how it is used in those books. Kitty is just a great character, she was hoping for some quiet new mom time, but the world needs rescuing again. Not from aliens this time, but from some old enemies. This time they have gone too far, and won’t get any mercy.
Then there is her husband Jeff. I still don’t like him very much, his excessive and totally unfounded jealousy (which Kitty seem to like) is really bothering me. Christopher has a big surprise waiting for him in this book, which I really liked. But for me, I still like Chuckie best. He is so smart, and always there for Kitty. He loves baiting Jeff, but sometimes they go too far and Kitty has to intervene.
The plot was again not something I could ever have figured out on my own, or could have thought up. Gini Koch is a great storyteller, the book has lots of surprises, twists and action. But due to their new baby sleeping with them, and all the action, not a lot of love scenes for Kitty and Jeff in this one, but the few that are there, are very hot.
I like it, a lot, and heartily recommend this series to everyone who likes a feisty, witty heroine, and a great cast of secondary characters. They just grow on you.

9 stars.

dinsdag 21 februari 2012

New addition to my addiction

Yes, finally it has arrived! Yasmine Galenorn - Shaded Vision.
But I am reading Alien Proliferation at the moment, and the new JD Robb is also hot on my pc ... Busy weekend ahead again, with little reading time :(

maandag 20 februari 2012

Jennifer Estep – Thread of Death

Elemental Assassin 5,5, published January 31, 2012.

Thread of Death

Gin Blanco, aka the assassin the Spider, might have finally killed her nemesis, Mab Monroe, but that doesn’t mean that it’s smooth sailing. Gin goes to Mab’s funeral to say her goodbyes and runs into some of Ashland’s most notorious underworld power players, including Jonah McAllister and Phillip Kincaid. McAllister wants her dead, and Kincaid has his own murky motives when it comes to the Spider, and Gin once again finds herself fighting for her life. Only this time, she might wind up in the cemetery right next to Mab….

It is a really short story, takes place a few weeks after Gin finally killed Mab Munroe. It took her weeks of healing, and she still feels a bit weak, but Gin is determined to go to the funeral and say her goodbyes. As it happened, all of Ashland’s underworld has come, trying to establish their might, and fill in the gap that Mab has left.
Mab’s favourite lawyer Jonah McAllister has been trying to find a new boss, but the other crime bosses are not all that interested in him. Jonah hates Gin for killing his son, and his boss. Even though he no longer has a need to be afraid of Mab, and walking on his toes around her, he misses the power being her right hand man gave him.

Then while the priest is doing the funeral ceremony, a sniper is taking shots at Gin and some of the mobsters. Of course she has to do something about that, which might not have been a smart thing to do, as it only confirms the rumors she is indeed the Spider, the assassin who killed Mab Munroe.

Hero: not really
Heroine: Gin Bianco, the Spider, an assassin for hire and owner of the famous BBQ restaurant called the Pork Pit
Secondary characters: the usual, JoJo and Sophia, Bria and Fin, Roslyn and of course Owen! The bad guys.
Romance: a little bit
Plot: good, nice setup for the next book
Heat-level: not really
Writingstyle: fluent and fast paced
Summary: Okay, very short story, but it got me in the reading mood at once. I am looking forward eagerly to the next book. And a little thing is revealed about Owen, yes! He has a past Gin knows nothing about…

I just love this series. What are you waiting for, go read it!

8 stars

zondag 19 februari 2012

Gini Koch – Alien in the family

The third book in the Katherine "Kitty" Katt series, published April 5, 2011.

Alien in the Family

Planning any wedding is hard enough, but Katherine “Kitty” Katt and Jeff Martini have a lot more to worry about than seating arrangements, because multiple interstellar invasions, Alpha Team in mortal peril, and inter-alien conspiracies are all on the guest-list – and the gifts they’ve brought contain some explosive surprises.
Kitty and Martini should be happily finalizing their wedding plans. Kitty’s biggest worries should be about winning over Martini’s mother, finding the right dress, and lining up her bridesmaids. But protecting the Earth from assorted alien threats seems to keep getting in the way.
The discovery that Martini is actually a member of the Alpha Centauri Royal Family brings additional bad news – emissaries are on their way to see if Kitty’s royal bride material. And they’re not the only things coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Amazonian assassins, spies, alien beasties, shape-shifters, and representatives from the Planetary Council, combined with a tabloid reporter who’s a little too on the mark, create a deadly situation for Kitty and the rest of Alpha Team. When the assassins strike far too close to home for anyone’s comfort, Kitty realizes it’s going come down to more than throwing the bouquet, she’s going to have to face an entire planetary consciousness and dethrone a monarch in order to make it to the church on time…

The book sure starts great, which Chuckie showing them all “strange lights in the sky”, but it is Kitty who finally understands what it all means …Jeff’s family is coming for a visit, and they might not be friendlies … Apparently, Jeff Martini is in line for the thrown of Alpha Centauri, and the fact that he found the woman he loves and wants to marry, is a big deal for some.
They have gathering in Las Vegas, at the request of Chuckie, head of the FBI ET-division. But someone has been aware of their moves already; the room has been bugged with something alien. Who planted it, and why? Jeff really hates Las Vegas, as Kitty and Chuckie had a great weak there, and some really great memories were made for them. If only Kitty had known that Chuckie was not kidding when he proposed …

Kitty is really insecure about her feelings at the moment, and the whole wedding planning has her almost desperate. She would love to invite her best friends to be her bridesmaids, but they don’t know anything about her current job, or that her lover is an alien. What should she tell them? But luckily James Reader is here, her new best gay friend, and he helps her see more clearly, and more importantly, he will help her shop for the best dress ever! After all, he has impeccable taste. But before the shopping spree can start for real, Kitty is accosted in her dressing stall by a strange woman, and James has disappeared. Kitty quickly overpowers the alien kissing her, and runs after James. But where did he go? Luckily, a young cute Hispanic maintenance guy can help her out, they are just in time before the dumpster where Reader was dumped in, gets emptied in the trash car. But James is very badly hurt, and it will take ACE to help him survive. But ACE knows it will kill both Kitty and his host if something happens to James. The maintenance guy is studying to be a doctor, and he can provide some very necessary first aid. Kitty hires him on the spot, as he has a lot of other very handy skills she can use in her team.

When the spaceship lands in the desert near Las Vegas, the inhabitants are quickly arrested by the AC’s and taken into custody. Kitty soon discovers that not all of them are humanoid aliens though; it is a right mixture of people from all the inhabited worlds in the sphere of Alpha Centauri. Some are hostile towards her, some are not. And the two real AC’s are distant cousins of Jeff and Christopher.

As usual, things happen very fast from there on. Plots are unravelled, battles are fought, and Kitty is the one to discover the truth behind things. And all that happens while Reader is very busy planning her wedding for this same weekend. All of her family is in Las Vegas already, and even Jeff’s mother seems to have mellowed.

Another great instalment in the Kitty Katt series by Gini Koch. I really never see the next turn coming. It is never boring, dull or predictable. I really like how Jeff is trying to fight his jealousy, but I know he and Chuckie will never be friends. Which is a shame, as I really like Chuckie. But for me, in this novel, Reader steals the show. How he plans the whole wedding, gets her to pick the perfect dress, and even gives her a bachelorette party! I wish I could have been there! In between the fighting and the mayhem and emergencies, all the traditions are observed, but that last scene in the church was really hilarious. But then, alien wedding traditions are at some points really different from human traditions, and some things humans should take over  And we finally get to meet the POOFS! Of whom I have heard so much already on Twitter and from reviews. I want one! They are so great and fun.

What more can I say? I really like all the characters in this series, and there are many of them. I like the plot, I like the intrigue, and I even like the steamy love scenes between Kitty and Jeff. Although why she is not hoarse every day is a riddle to me.
The book is fun, mainly because of the snark that is Kitty, the ribbing between the men in her life, but it is also really well written. The plots are not something I never could have figured out myself.

9 stars.

zaterdag 18 februari 2012

Stephanie Laurens – The wedding planner

This is a short story, published only as e-book before, and now added as an extra in the back of the Capture of the Earl of Glencrae. Originally part of an anthology named Royal Weddings, published April 5, 2011. It is only 85 pages.

Meg is asked to help plan the wedding between Juliette the Rochier and Prince Robert the Bourbon. They never expected the Bourbons to regain the throne of France from Napoleon, so now it has changed from a normal wedding between two young people in love to a royal wedding. And Meg has a lot of experience in planning weddings. First her sisters and her cousins, but never her own, as her fiancé died fighting at Waterloo.
She has little choice but to agree, and the task will not be easy. She knows her way around the British peerage, but not so much the French intricacies. Luckily, she will be getting some help. Gaston, who used to be penniless and landless, has been restored to be the Duc the Perigord, and when he finally found out she never married, is intent of claiming her as his wife. He really needs her by his side. When they first met, she was already engaged to a good man, and he had no inclination to come between them, even though the physical attraction between them was startling.
He will have to convince Meg to give them a chance though, she likes being in charge, and he will not be so easily led.

Hero: Gaston, Duc the Perigord
Heroine: Meg, Lady Margaret Dawlish
Secondary characters: her sister, and the bride-to-be and her mother
Romance: nice
Plot: Gaston wanting Meg for his bride, and plotting to be together with her, enchanting her.
Heat-level: nice, but no love scenes, just attraction
Writingstyle: good
Summary: a really nice and sweet short story, well worth the reading time.

7 stars

vrijdag 17 februari 2012

Stephanie Laurens – The capture of the Earl of Glencrae

The third book in the Cynster Sisters series, published January 31, 2012.

The capture of the Earl of Glencrae

We joyfully request your attendance at the wedding of Miss Angelica Cynster ... but not until she and her hero lay to rest an ancient grudge in the Scottish Highlands!

Headstrong Angelica Cynster is certain she'll recognize her fated husband at first sight. And when her eyes meet those of a mysterious nobleman, she knows beyond a doubt that he's the one. But her heart is soon pounding for an entirely different reason - when her hero abducts her!
The eighth Earl of Glencrae has no choice but to kidnap Angelica, the one Cynster sister with whom he hadn't wanted to tangle. But to save his castle and his clan, he must persuade her to assist him - and he's prepared to offer marriage to seal the deal!

With the Scottish Laird believed dead, Angelica Cynster has her freedom back. Both her sisters are happily engaged, and now it is her turn to find her hero. Eliza has given her the Lady’s necklace, and she is determined to find her hero and hunt him down. And when she spots a strange gentleman across the crowded ballroom, watching her, she feels he is it. But even though he is keeping an eye on her, he is not getting nearer, but keeping his distance. Which is not to her liking at all, she wants to know who he is! And so she ropes a family friend into introducing them. Lord Dominic Debenham is a reclusive English gentleman, who doesn’t come to London often, which is why she hasn’t met him before. More young ladies follow her example, and Debenham quickly is surrounded by admiring young ladies. But Angelica just knows he is her hero, and she wants to get to know him. When the dancing begins, Debenham just points at his cane, and politely refuses. The other gentleman in their circle dutifully lead the other ladies to the dancefloor, but Angelique refuses, she will keep Debenham company. She boldly asks him to escort her to the terrace for some fresh air, and even though he is clearly displeased with that, he agrees.
What Angelica certainly never could have foreseen, is that he promptly abducts her as soon as they are alone. It was never his intention to do that tonight, tonight was for reconnaissance, but he had to take the opportunity when she presented herself on a silver platter. Angelica is furious with him, and herself, but never for a single moment afraid. After all, he doesn’t hurt her even though he ties her down and lays her in his carriage wrapped in a blanket. He then returns to the soiree, it would not do to be missed together. And when at the end of the evening, her family is missing her, he makes sure he is seen by several of his acquaintances.

Back at his mansion, he takes her inside, and Angelica immediately finds out his servants will not be helping her escape. But when he tells her the truth about the abduction, and asks for her help, she cannot refuse. After all, he is her hero, and she will marry him, but it will be on her terms. Not to safe her reputation, but out of love.
As it happens, his father has been obsessed with her mother for years. He had arranged with Celia’s parents to marry her, but Celia did not want to, and eloped with Martin Cynster, the fourth son of a Duke. The Laird took it gracefully, but he withdrew from society, and never stopped obsessing about Celia. He had people following her, and keeping him up to date with all the happenings in her life. What she did, where she went, what she wore. And of her children as well. And it was well known in Edinburgh Society that he was obsessed with a married English lady. But he had to do his duty to his clan, so he married a Scottish lash. She knew full well that he did not love her, and neither did she love him. But she boasted to her friends that she would turn him, wrap him around her little finger and make him forget about the English lady. Which she could not. Mirabella never wanted for anything, but the love and attention of her husband. When she finally gave him a son, she expected him to change, but it did not. O, he loved his son, and gave him all attention, but not her. And her son also did not need her, he had the clan who raised him and thought him, and led him roam the highlands freely. So when she tried to turn him against his father, she could not do it.
But now his father has been dead for five years, and Dominic is Laird. And Mirabelle has finally found a way to exact her revenge on them all. If Dominic cannot present a certain Goblet in London on July first, he and the clan will loose everything they own. The Goblet was collateral for a big loan his father took out six years ago. Mirabelle doesn’t care about the clan or her son. She wants revenge. By making him abduct one of Celia Cynster’s daughters, she will make him lose his honour, which is very important to Dominic, and make Celia pay for everything she unknowingly cost her. That an innocent young lady is ruined is totally unimportant to Mirabelle. She has hidden the Goblet, and unless Dominic will do as she wishes, she will not give it up. She will see him and the clan thrown into poverty.

Angelica is a very strongwilled and capable young lady, and she wants to help Dominic, on certain conditions of herself of course. But she is a great ally, and he needs her help to escape her family and reach the highlands safely. Together they plan and plot their journey, and how to convince his mother she is truly ruined.

Of course, the Cynster males cannot sit back and do nothing, even though the woman are convinced that Angelica has gone willingly, that she is helping the Laird. But still, it takes them a few days to figure it all out, and find the identity of the Scottish Laird there are looking for. It is old Lady Clara who has the final clue, and then Celia will have to tell her story, why she eloped with Martin.

It was a surprise to be told the reason behind this series at the start of the book, but the following journey and adventure was great to follow. Angelica and Dominic working together, the great secondary characters of the servants. I loved Angelica. She is such a strong young lady; she knows what she wants, and when it is important to stand her ground and when to give in. She is used to overprotective big males in her life, so she is not afraid of the Earl. She has learned at the knee of the ladies in her family how to handle a man like that. And the Earl, well, he certainly does not know what he is getting into. He is losing control of the situation, but he cannot deny the wisdom behind her reasoning and her actions. She wraps his servants, his fellow clan members, around her fingers, assuming the duties as his duchess-to-be from the start.
Dominic is a very big man, strong and honourable. And having to disregard his honor is very difficult for him. He won’t force Angelica, not even to safe his clan. But to satisfy his mother, he will have to do a lot he doesn’t like. How can he see Angelica walk into danger, where he cannot protect her?

As usual, Stephanie Laurens writes in a very rich and compelling voice, and I loved this story from the start. It was different and almost new again, not cookie-cutter like the previous books. The romance between Dominic and Angelica was sweet, and believable. The lovescenes hot, as Stephanie Laurens can write really good and steamy ones. There is also subtle humor. A good story, with a great ending to the adventure. And in the end, a triple wedding.

9 stars.

donderdag 16 februari 2012

Joanne Fluke – Devils Food Cake Murder

Book 15 in the Hannah Swensen series, published February 2012.

Devil's food cake murder

Hannah Swensen has to admit that her life is pretty sweet. Things are going well in the romance department, and her bakery's delectable confections are selling almost as fast as she can bake them. Even her good friend Claire is on Cloud Nine, head over heels with her new husband, Reverend Bob Knudson. If only they could find time to take their honeymoon!
When Bob's childhood friend, Matthew Walters, comes to town, it seems like divine intervention. Matthew, like Bob, is a Lutheran minister with a stubborn sweet tooth. Since he's on sabbatical, Matthew is happy to fill in for Bob while he and Claire take that long-awaited honeymoon. It sounds like the perfect plan--until Hannah finds Matthew in the rectory, face-down in a plate full of Devil's Food Cake, a single bullet in his head.

It will take some sleuthing to sift out the killer, but Hannah is sure of one thing: even the most half-baked murder plot can be oh so deadly. . .

The previous book ended with a bombshell from Norman. He hired a female dentist, who just happened to be his former fiancée, as his new partner in the dental clinic. It was supposed to give him more personal time, but so far, Norman has not had much time to spend with Hannah. So it is not so strange that Hannah is a little jealous about Bev, who is so goodlooking and will liked across town. And when her other suitor Mike asks her to make dinner for Bev’s birthday party, which he is throwing for her, she wished she had refused.

And when she finds out from Norman, that both Mike and he are dating Bev on the night that Hannah is dating the other, she has no idea what to think anymore. Did he really stop loving her? She knows Mike has a roving eye, and if she married him she will never be sure that she is the only one for her, but she is almost ready to accept Norman’s proposal. But the way he has been acting lately, so distant and cold, Hannah is just confused. Should she fight for him?

But then Hannah stumbles upon a dead body again, the substitute Reverend Matthew. She was dreading it, ever since grandma Knudson asked her to check on him. He was not answering the church office telephone, and lunch is ready. A delicious chicken soup, of which Hannah immediately wants the recipe.
Matthew is substituting for their normal Reverend, who is on his honeymoon with Claire, one of Hannah’s friends, and the owner of a fashion boutique in town. Hannah’s mother Delores is filling in for her, which is not such a good idea in Hannah’s opinion, as her mother has no tact to speak of. Luckily, there is her sister Andrea, who has the time to help out, and she is very good with people. Her mother has a great fashion sense, but so does Andrea, and she can sell everything she wants to anyone.
Reverend Matthew used to live with Grandma Knudson at the parsonage for a year as a boy, as did his cousin Paul. Both their parents were missionaries, and Matthew followed in their religious footsteps, but Paul went astray … A few years ago, Matthew tried to find his cousin, when his aunt fell ill with cancer, but the private detective he hired could not find him. But he did found out that Paul has been in prison for armed robbery. At first, grandma Knudson is very happy to have Matthew back in her life, but after a few days, she is beginning to doubt he is who he says he is, and has Hannah investigate him. Luckily Hannah, with some help from Andrea, can reassure her. He really is Matthew, and on a sabbatical from the seminary for four months.

And now Hannah finds him in the church office, shot to death. Of course she needs to investigate, and Norman happily takes a week off from work to help her. He seems to be back to his loving self, and Hannah realises how much she has missed him. Between baking cookies and cakes and deserts, Hannah and Norman and her sisters set out to investigate the murder case. Which gets convoluted, as another man claiming to be Reverend Matthew appears. Which is the real one? And if the first Reverend Matthew was a fake, was in reality his cousin Paul, who is not an ordained Reverend, all the weddings and baptisms and sacraments he has done in the past week, are invalid!

The biggest clue Hannah gets to solve this case, comes from a talking bird …

Another great mystery, which I read fairly quickly. I just skipped all the pages with recipes between the chapters, and hurried on with the story itself. I was so keen to find out more about Hannah and her two suitors, and why Norman behaved as he did. And wow, was there a bombshell on the last page!
Also Delores might have gotten herself a new suitor, and Hannah is not sure what to think of that. There is not much new about Andrea and Bill, their life is going nicely. I did not really think Michelle was necessary for the story line either, I have no idea why she came home from college this time.
Moishe, Hannah’s cat, is a very lovable secondary character, and he has a new trick. That was fun seeing Hannah trying to find out. I did not really feel the customary pull from Hannah with her feelings for both Mike and Norman. Although Mike does appear in this book, as he leads the investigation, he is not giving Hannah a hard time about it, and even shares some news with her. Nor does he try much except some kisses. I do think Hannah is leaning towards Norman more and more, but well, maybe she was waited too long to choose …

A good mystery, and a good plot, but I admit, I read this one primarily to find out about the romance story line. And to be true, I am feeling a bit disappointed in this book. The secondary characters mostly stayed secondary, not much development for them. Let’s just hope the next one rocks again.

One book per year is way too little for my tastes! I really like reading about Hannah and her two suitors, her sisters, her bakery, and her mother. It’s never dull, or more of the same as the previous books. Her solution to every problem is chocolate. It sooths, it calms, and makes you smile. I really do wonder if American people eat cookies and pie and cake every day. And do they all bake and cook everything every day?
Even though the many recipes in this book sound good, I never tried to make one myself.

7 stars.

woensdag 15 februari 2012

Robin Paige – Death at Glamis Castle

The ninth book in the Victorian Mystery series, published March 2003.

Death at Glamis Castle

Lord Charles Sheridan and his American wife, Kate, are on an archaeological dig, excavating sections of Hadrian's Wall, when they are summoned to Glamis Castle by King Edward. Nestled in the rugged Grampian Mountains, Glamis is the most historic castle in all of Scotland, a place teeming with dark secrets and haunting shadows. While Kate winds her way through the elaborate manor, gaining inspiration for her next Gothic novel, Lord Charles discovers the reason behind their journey.
It seems that Prince Eddy, heir to the throne until his purported death in 1892, has actually been alive all these years. Deemed unfit for the throne, he has been living secretly at Glamis under an assumed name. But now the prince has gone missing - on the very morning that the body of one of his servants was found, her throat slashed in a manner eerily reminiscent of the Ripper's. Now, Charles and his clever Kate must find Eddy and clear his name - while keeping his true identity a secret.

Charles Sheridan and his wife Kate are on holiday in the north of England. Charles happily digging around Hadrian’s wall, and Kate making photographs. Then a telegraph summons Charles away, and of course Kate goes with them. A whole train is waiting for them, filled with soldiers, and apparently, Charles will be their commanding officer. They have no idea where the train is headed, but everything has been prepared for a very speedy journey. Kate is very much afraid Charles will be called upon to go to Africa, where the Boer Wars are not going well, so when the train goes north, into Scotland, they are both very much relieved.
Finally, having arrived at their destination, Charles is briefed, and Kate whisked away to the Castle to settle in and refresh herself.
Charles is stunned when he learns the truth about Prince Eddy. That he is still alive, and been in hiding in Glamis Castle for the last ten years. He has been content though, painting and reading, but lately he has been getting confused, thinking himself Bonnie Prince Charlie, and having a woman named Flora MacDonald as his personal servant is sure aiding him in that delusion. The prince is also quite deaf. And now the prince has gone missing, and Hilda MacDonald, Flora’s mother and another of his servants, has been found murdered.
The local constable has been unable to find a clue to the murderer, which is very difficult for him, as he has had his eye on Flora for a while now. And with her mother dead, she will need someone else in her life. Her cousin Herman will be of no help at all. He hasn’t seen the man for a day or so, and he really wanted to interrogate the man.

And while Charles is getting debriefed, Flora MacDonald is showing Kate some parts of the Castle, telling about its history. Kate’s alter ego Beryl is getting excited as well, seeing some new possibilities for books in the place. So many great things have happened here in its long history. The castle is filled with its ghosts. But when Flora breaks down, and Kate consoles her about losing her mother, perhaps Flora tells more than she intended to do.

The soldiers set out to seal of all the roads leading out of town, and around the castle, under the pretence of trying out new bicycles for the army. There is after all the very real danger that the prince has been kidnapped. He was not the sort of man to kill Hilda, or run away from his comforts. He was a sickly man and in his forties already. And when Charles finds the evidence that Hilda was killed in the prince’s rooms and carried out to the street leading towards the castle, he is convinced of it. They need to find the prince, and quick. If it is revealed he is still alive, the monarchy will not survive the scandal. And that is just what the young German Kaiser wants … even though the King is his cousin. War is looming on the horizon.

When Princess Victoria arrives suddenly at Glamis Castle, an astonished Kate also finds out the truth about the mysterious Lord Osborne: Prince Eddy is still alive and missing! She sets out to ask questions from the staff, convinced they know much more than their masters will think possible. And as usual, she is right, and discovers truths that help Charles in his investigation.

I was looking forward to the next Robin Paige book on my list, but I could only read this one by bits and pieces. I was just not that captivated with the story. It was darker than the rest, and I was not so interested in the historical character in this one. It is a conclusion to one of the previous books, in which Charles and Kate discover the truth behind Jack the Ripper (Death at Whitechapel).
It is not a bad book at all, as always it is a good mystery and an entertaining read. I just was not that much interested in the main secondary characters or in the mood to read this one. It did not help that Kate and Charles did not want to do this either, and just wanted to go home to Bishop’s Keep. It was not difficult to figure everything out before they did, as we were told things from the bad guy’s perspective as well. The ending, well, that was very well done.

The book ends on a note that this is all speculation on the authors part, there is no proof that prince Eddy lived a long time after his publicly announced death and burial.

7 stars

dinsdag 14 februari 2012

J.R. Ward – Envy

The third book in the Fallen Angels series, published September 2011.


As the son of a serial killer, homicide detective Thomas 'Veck' DelVecchio, Jr., grew up in the shadow of evil. Now, on the knife-edge between civic duty and blind retribution, he atones for the sins of his father - while fighting his inner demons. Assigned to monitor Veck is Internal Affairs officer Sophia Reilly, whose interest in him is both professional and arousingly personal. And Veck and Sophia have another link: Jim Heron, a mysterious stranger with too many answers...to questions that are deadly. When Veck and Sophia are drawn into the ultimate battle between good and evil, their fallen angel savior is the only thing that stands between them and eternal damnation.

After the recent loss, Jim Heron is determined to safe the next soul, and when Archangel Nigel does not want to tell him who that soul is, he makes a bargain with Davina, the demon, and his enemy. They are playing for opposite sites, but Davina has a weakness for Jim. No matter how she tortured him, he did not break. So, if she will tell them who they are battling for, he will be hers whenever she wants to.
The next soul is Thomas Del Vecchio Jr, son of a serial killer. His father is pure evil, and Veck has been afraid his whole life that he will turn evil as well. After all, he is his father’s son. There is darkness inside of him. He is riding that edge between good and evil very closely lately. Another serial killer has come to Caldwell, and though he has escaped, the police have confiscated his truck full of mementos of his victims. Pieces of flesh, clothing, jewellery. Veck just knows the killer will come back to the scene of his last crime, and when he finds him, he will kill him!
But some one, or something, beats him to it, and he finds the murderer with a torn throat, dying in the forest. His memory is gone, but he calls 911 nevertheless, convinced that he has gone over the line. But the Internal Affairs officer on his case cannot find any evidence of that. His hands and clothes and weapons are clean, no bloodspatter, and he did not have the means to clean himself up. But Sophia Reilly will have to follow the rules, and so she takes his weapons and his cellphone and his wallet, and tells him to go home, while CSI processes the scene. The murderer is rushed to the hospital in the ambulance, and Veck goes home on his BMW motorcycle. There is an instant attraction between Veck and Reilly, but both are professionals, and will not act on it. But when Sophia, who is staking out Veck’s house, sees him full frontal nude in his un-curtained bathroom window, she sure is flabbergasted! That is one fine male body!

The next day, as there is no evidence linking Veck to the crime, and the coroner decrees it was an animal attack, Veck can go back to work. But not on the serial killer case! And Sophia will be his partner for a month, keeping an eye on him. Veck decides on a missing person’s case, a young woman named Cecilia Barten, whom he suspects is one of the victims of Kroner. And he thinks it will be a backdoor into the investigation of the serial killer.

Of course, Veck is wrong. Cecily was one of Davina’s victims, and the one that Jim Heron wants to see freed from her wall of souls. But Jim also wants to find her body, so her parents can get some closure. Posing as FBI agents, Jim, Adrian and Eddy approach Veck to assist with the case. Adrian and Eddy are totally against it, they want Jim to focus on the battle, and not on a death girl that is beyond their help. She is just a casualty of the war, like so many others. But Jim refuses to see reason, and wants to do whatever he can to find his Cissy.
Veck doesn’t really trust Jim, there is just something off about that guy.

Sophia also does not trust Veck’s reasons for picking this case. They are supposed to be working on cold homicide cases, not missing persons. But the more she finds out about Cecilia, the more she knows this is not a runaway, but a good girl that encountered something bad. And she makes them promise, that the minute they find out, Cecilia is one of Kroner’s victims, they will back off.
Meanwhile, Kroner is recovering mysteriously well in the hospital. His doctor’s did not give him long, but somehow, he getting better. What they don’t know is that Davina has visited her minion … she still needs him to torment Veck some more.

The attraction between Veck and Sophia is off the scale, and neither can fight it for long. When Veck sees the shopping bags with the Victoria Secret logo on them in her trunk, his curiosity certainly spikes in interesting ways. And their pizza dinner never gets eaten … They both know it is a bad idea, she being Internal Affairs, and he being in her charge for the next month.

But of course, Davina doesn’t want them to be happy together, she has made very different plans for them … and playing people is what the devil is good at after all …

A lot happens in this very fast paced book, and it sure had some major surprises for me! Things I would never have seen coming. I have forgotten what happened in the BDB book that crosses over in this one, which vampire has almost killed Kroner, and why, but that did not matter at all. But I think I will be rereading some books in the near future to refresh my memory …

I really did like Sophia. She was strong, new what she wanted. And she was not shy to go after it. I really liked meeting her parents, and how that made Veck behave himself. He never met a girls’ parents before. Sophia is a very capable cop, and she believes in her job and what she stands for. Veck is a great hero in this book. He is so unsure of himself, he knows there is evil inside of him, and he is fighting to stay on the good side of the line. But Kroner made him plan to kill. And even though he did not go through with it, as someone beat him to it, he had the intention. And that sure makes him condemn himself.
Meeting his father, just a few days away from getting the needle, was an eye opener. True evil does exist.
But well, Jim Heron and his fellow angels sure made the book. Dissention in the archangels ranks, and a very very surprising ending. I have no idea where J.R. Ward is leading this series too. If this is just a way to make the series longer than 7 books or what. Of course, I dislike reading teasers and stuff, so I am willing to be surprised. And as I truly love those books for they are great, I will happily read however many there will be.

The writing is superb, the pacing is fast, the characters great but flawed and you just have to care for them, even love them, and you need to know what happens on the next page; the next chapter. The love scenes are hot, the emotions run high, and I dare you to read this book without needing a tissue. Jim Heron is a very strong character, I totally admire him for his dedication, and what he does, what he is willing to personally sacrifice, to reach his goal.

10 stars.

zaterdag 11 februari 2012

Yasmine Galenorn – Etched in Silver

An Otherworld Novella, prequel to the series. Published January 12, 2012. But earlier a part of the anthology Inked, which I still have not read, although it is on my shelves.

Etched in Silver

Camille D’Artigo, a wicked-good witch and an Otherworld supernatural agent, is on the trail of a sadistic serial killer, when an unexpected—and dangerously seductive—ally comes to her aid, setting in motion a magical ritual that may end up binding them together, body and soul. In this prequel, readers learn how Camille and Trillian first fell in love.

Camille, Menolly and Delilah are working for the Y’Elestrial Intelligence Agency, but due to them being half human and half Fae, they are not much liked by their collegues and bosses, and keep getting the most difficult and dangerous assignments.
Camille’s boss is setting her up for a big fall, tipping of the murderer she is after, about her. And he won’t help her, unless she sleeps with him, which she has no intention of doing. So she sets out to catch the man on her own, which is way too dangerous.
Unexpectedly, she meets up with Trillian, a Svartan Fae, a race despised by her own people, and her father. But the attraction between them is undeniable, and she likes him. He saves her life, and helps her finding her suspect. Things between them go very fast from there….

As all of Yasmine Galenorn’s work, I was captivated by this short story. Camille has always been my favourite of the sisters, and it was a fun peak in their world before they were sent to Earth. Lots of other paranormal creatures are mentioned. But of course, it is al about Camille and Trillian, and I loved it.

Hero: Trillian
Heroine: Camille d’Artigo
Secondary characters: bad guys, sisters and friend of Trillian
Romance: very good
Plot: good, surprising
Heat-level: hot
Writingstyle: awesome as always
Summary: A great novella, and you can read it anytime in the series.

9 stars.

New addititions to my addictions

Yesterday I received three books, and I want to read them all immediately!
Stephanie Laurens - The capture of the Earl of Glencrae
Joanne Fluke - Devil's Food Cake Murder
Jude Devereaux - Wild Orchids

And they came just in time, as I am leaving for a nice long romantic weekend with my boyfriend. It's almost time to wake him, and then to start packing and go driving for a few hours. For my Dutch readers: I'm going to Valkenburg. Never been there before, but I do love Limburg and its vieuws.

I'll probably be reading my email and Twitter messages, but I won't be reading and following my blogs. A stayed up way to late to finish J.R. Ward-Envy. But there is no time to write a review about it, that will have to wait till I get back. And of course I hope to read some more books. I am taking way too many books with me for those few days, but well, a girl needs to have a choice.

Have a great weekend you all!

vrijdag 10 februari 2012

Jennifer Estep – Kiss of Frost

The second book in the Mythos Academy series, published December 2011.

Kiss of Frost

At Mythos Academy, teen warriors in the making train to take up their roles protecting humankind. With her snarky, self-deprecating voice and strange gift of psychometry - the ability to know an object's history just by touching it - Gwen Frost is an outsider both to the students of the Academy and the rest of the world. But now that she's taking private tutoring with the Academy's most notorious young Spartan, and has Nike's own sword to protect her, she's ready to make mark...

After her encounter with the Reaper in the first book in the series, Gwen really needs to learn how to fight. So before school, she is getting lessons from her not so secret crush Logan, the Spartan, and his two friends, Oliver and Kenzie. Gwen really sucks at it though, she cannot even last a minute against Logan. Which is not really strange, as Logan was born a warrior, and has been training ever since he could hold a sword, and any other weapon there is. And after sword training, there is archery. Even though Gwen can hit the target, her arrows won’t stuck in it. Until something strange happens, thinking about her best friend Daphne, a Valkyrie, makes her hit the target dead in the middle, and the arrow going halfway through it! Somehow, she can channel the memories she had of Daphne at various tournaments, and training sessions.
Oliver doesn’t seem to like her very much, and the situation does not improve when she accidentally knocks his gymbag over, and touches his private notebook. Her psychometric powers kick in, and she sees him scribbling, and feels what he is feeling. And apparently, he has a crush on somebody. But before she can see who it is, he catches her and takes the notebook away from her. Logan has told him about her powers, and Oliver is afraid she might tell about what she has seen.
The next weekend, the whole school will take of for a weekend of skiing and parties up in the mountains. Gwen really doesn’t want to go, but when her grandmother tells her in a vision that she should go, and her best friend really gives her no choice, she decides to go after all. She cannot stay in the school al alone, all the teachers and staff are going there too. And perhaps she can forget Logan, who is making out with Savannah, one of the Amazons, all the time, right in front of her. There will be kids from the New York Academy as well, and perhaps she will meet someone nice.

To Gwen’s own surprise, she does meet a young man right away, and he seems to like her. At first she cannot believe he doesn’t have a girlfriend already, but he actually is talking to her, and soon they swap phonenumbers. Daphne and her boyfriend Carson take Gwen up the mountain, to teach her how to ski, using Daphne’s memories. All the other kids know how to already, and they can’t believe Gwen has never been on a ski vacation.
Gwen is actually having fun, when she spots a Fenrir Wolf in the treeline, watching her. Fenrir Wolves are known allies of the Reapers, and she knows he is there to kill her! How could she be so careless! Lucky, some other students appear to take the skilift, and she can join them. But she is so shaken from the experience, her joy in skiing is gone for the day. Daphne and Carson are not spooked at all when she tells them what she has seen; the Fenrir Wolves are living here in the wild after all, with lots of other wildlife. It is cool she has seen a Wolf upclose!

That night there is a party in the village, and Gwen really doesn’t want to go. The only purpose to the party seems to get drunk and make out, which is something she is not looking forward to. Only the thought of meeting Preston again, makes her want to go at last.

A lot happens in the next few days, good things and bad things and ugly things and happy things. And I really don’t want to spoil anymore surprises in this good story.

I finally took the time to start reading this book. I’ve read so many raving reviews about it, and I was not disappointed. Even though it is YA, which is NOT my favourite genre, I really like those books. Jennifer Estep sure created an unique world, and I would like to read more books in this setting.
I really liked Gwen. She is trying hard to fit into the Mythos Academy, but she still misses her mom and living with her grandmother. Her powers are evolving, and she likes that. The other kids don’t really accept her, she is just “that Gypsy girl”. And no, not the usual meaning of the word Gypsy. She also still has to work in the Library, where the librarian really seems to dislike her. Like it was her fault the library got trashed when she was fighting for her life? Gwen has a big crush on Logan, and it hurts that he doesn’t want her and has a new girlfriend every other week it seems.
I liked Daphne and Logan, they really care about Gwen, but they are also wrapped up in their love, like teenagers are at that age. And then there is of course the handsome Logan. He really likes to care for Gwen, but is still keeping his distance.
The setting of the book was great.

I think you can read this book without reading the first one, there is a lot of looking back on the happenings in the first book, but I do recommend reading them all in order. It will add to your enjoyment of the series and the many characters.
If you like great characters mixed with action and mythology and surprises in the plot, you really should try this series. And if you don’t want to read YA, try Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin series.

9 stars.

donderdag 9 februari 2012

Darynda Jones – For I have sinned

Charlie Davidson short story 1,5 published on Heroes and Heartbreakers website on March 19, 2011.

For I have Sinned

I have found this short story, and it is only about 40 pages in .lit, and really liked it. We get a glimpse of Charlie helping a young woman find out why she died, and to have peace to cross over. It really is a beautiful and sweet little story, if you like those books, you can’t miss it. And yes, Reyes is here as well!

Hero: not really
Heroine: Charlie Davidson, the Grim Reaper
Secondary characters: Jo Anne, the ghost
Romance: none
Plot: very nice
Heat-level: not really, even though Reyes shows up
Writingstyle: great
Summary: lovely short story, with a nice peak in the life of Charlie Davidson

8 stars.

woensdag 8 februari 2012

Lara Adrian – Darker after Midnight

The tenth book in the Midnight Breed series, published January 2012.

Darker after Midnight
Darker after midnight

I have bought the UK version, a big format paperback. I hate the cover of it. And it is not even the same as the first pic. The fangs and blood are missing here. It looks nothing like the heroine in the book. Hate those nails.

After existing in secret for many long centuries, maintaining a fragile peace with the humans who walk beside them unaware, a single act of retaliation has put the entire vampire nation at risk of discovery. It falls to the Order-a cadre of Breed warriors pledged to protect their own and humankind alike-to stop Dragos, the power-mad vampire at the center of the conflict, before his push for domination can explode into catastrophe. At the center of the Order's quest is Sterling Chase, once a morally rigid enforcer of Breed law, now a warrior fallen from grace, whose biggest battle is the one he wages against his own savage nature. With addiction beckoning him toward eternal darkness, Chase's path to redemption has never seemed more out of reach-until he finds himself drawn to a beautiful young woman who may be something much more than she seems . . .

I am totally incapable of writing a review about this book, without spoiling anything of the many surprises in it. I’ll just say, I loved it! So if you haven’t started reading this series yet, what are you waiting for? You won’t be disappointed!

O you do want more? Well, I liked Chase and his Tavia a lot. And almost all the previous heroes and heroines make an appearance in this one. Dragos at his worst is really horrible, but there is also a new twist, that will make new books possible. Am very curious what Lara Adrian is going to do with that.

10 stars.

dinsdag 7 februari 2012

New additions to my addiction

Today I received two books I am very eager to start reading:

Gini Koch - Alien in the Family
Gini Koch - Alien Proliferation

And I just finished Lara Adrian - Darker after Midnight, and WOW. Just WOW. Will have to write the review tomorrow.

zondag 5 februari 2012

Jean Johnson – Finding Destiny

The ninth book in the Sons of Destiny series, published January 2011.

Finding Destiny

Four brand-new novellas, from the national bestselling author of the Sons of Destiny series.

The slave...Chanson, a privileged Arbran dyara, discovers an unexpected connection with the excitingly different Eduor, a bracingly sexy war-slave who desires his freedom.

I very much enjoyed this short story. Very simple, but so lovely. Eduor regains his freedom when his master dies of natural couses, even though her heir wants to keep him. Luckily, he knows enough of the customs of the land he is travelling, to gainsay her, and walk away into the desert, with an Arbran Knight as his companion. When they reach a little village after two days of walking, they witness a small band of men leaving the village, apparently to go fighting in the neighbouring country. Edour is welcome to stay, and take care of the land and beasts of one of the men who is leaving. He likes the quiet life of a farmer, and soon feels at home in the small village. He makes some extra money, or extra goods for himself, with educating the children in the village, or working as a scribe.
Chanson, the Dyara, is very interested in the exotic Eduor. A dyara is a very important person in the desert kingdom of Sundara, he or she can control the rains that fall, and is a combination of a priest and a healer. Being a former sex slave, Eduor is really not that much interested in sex at the moment, let alone using his very long tong on a woman again. He was forced to use it almost daily, before he got any food.
Chanson understands him, and knows she must be careful with him, and not order him around, especially in bed. And so their relationships develops slowly over the year, and if the former owner does not return in a year, the land and house will fall to Eduor.

A very sweet story, with some hot love scenes. I really liked both Eduor and Chanson.

8 stars.

The knight...The Arbran diplomat Sir Zeilas must turn the Guildaran people from former enemies into allies. But in the case of their intriguingly beautiful leader, perhaps something more intimate is in order.

The Abran Knight Sir Zeilas (from the first story) has a new diplomatic mission from his king, to establish peace between Arbra and the new country of Guildara. What Sir Zeilas does not expect is to fall for Marta, the Guildaran leader.
Guildara is a country where technology is the most important thing, while Arbra is all about nature, and magic. Guildara needs magical help to protect their technological inventions from their enemies with the same weapons, who like nothing more but to conquer and enslave. Guildara has freed itself from the False God recently form the former country Mekhana, and is still building on its development as a peaceful nation.
Mekha had been an abomination, an unloved God who refused to fade away, and outright refused to die, though He had technically been slain over two centuries before. A Netherhell demon in disguise, sucking out and stealing away the life force which powered the spells of His mages. A False God, who cared only for His own selfish needs, and nothing for His supposed people.
Which does not mean, Sundarans won’t protect themselves from invaders. They are looking for allies among their neighbours, of which Arbra is one, and Sundaran another. Arbra is willing to become their alley, which is why they have sent convoys (diplomats) over.
But for Marta and Zeilas to form a relationship, will be frowned upon. They both acknowledge that, and their countries come before their personal relationship.

Until the day Warlord Durn the Dreaded invades their little country, and they will have to fight side by side. Marta is not a leader who stays behind; both she and her best friend Gabria are on a motorhorse in the first line of defence. Things are not going well, when Sir Zeilas falls, and Marta thinks he is dead. But then they are rescued in by Mage-Captain Elles of the Royal Guard of Aurula, and his warriors, who arrive by mirror gates.

I think this story can qualify as steampunk. Lots of mechanical devices mixed with magic. I really like the honourable Sir Zeilas and Marta together. They fall in love, but know their countries and duties come first. The little spare time they have, is spend together, but not in the bedroom. They get to learn about each other, and their countries. They have great respect for one another, and their falling in love is sweet and natural.
And the device that really had me laughing in the end of the story, was the crankman …

8 stars.

The mage...Gabria never expected to become a Guildaran envoy to Aurul. But the most stunning surprise was what waited for her in His Majesty's winter palace-and why.

Gabria was thankful for the help Captain Ellett and his troops gave them during the brief was, and so she agreed to leave for Aurul soon after. She has no idea what to expect, and is really uncomfortable with the two bodyguards she seemed to have acquired. And why does he keep calling her: Your Highness? She is not of royal blood, just a commoner, and a member of the Hydraulics Guild. And a mage, but one without much knowledge yet. Being a mage was very risky in her old kingdom, and Gabria is still getting used to the freedom of acknowledging being one. With the help of the four subsequent mirror gates, they travel what would have been a journey of months, in a few minutes. And so, from the fresh winter cold of Guildara, Gabria arrives in the tropical heat of Aurul. When she is led away to be properly washed and dressed, she is not really sad to get rid of her woollen and leather clothing. But reclining in a milk bad for two hours and getting multiple massages, is a bit much for her tastes. She is a working woman, not a pampered lady.
And when she learns, she is not in Aurul to be a convoy, but to marry their Seer-King, she is at a loss of what to do. She is grateful of their help, and she has promised to do whatever she can to help her country, but marriage to a stranger? That sure asks a lot of her. But she complies, and is terrified when she finds out that their Ruul, Deity, their God, really does reside inside of the King some of the time, giving him visions and prophecies. Meeting Mekha used to mean death, and she does not really know their new deity enough to feel comfortable around them, and now she is supposed to share her husband with one?

Luckily, the royal couple is ruled by tradition, and now they have three days to become acquainted with one another. After that, there will be three days of intimacy, and one final day of festivities, after which Devin will have to pick up his royal duties again. He is really relieved with this week of, doing whatever he wants, and getting to know his bride. Unlike Gabria, Devin knew who he was marrying. After all, she was handpicked for him by his God.

And so they learn about each other, and their very different customs. Gabria sure does not meekly accept everything that is suspected of her, she has her own opinion, and in their private quarters, she refuses to do things she finds inconvenient. Devin likes that about her, even though he finds it strange. But Gabria sure brings some new thoughts into the kingdom, and perhaps her insights can help find peace at sea …

I did like Gabria in the previous story, no matter how briefly I got to know her. She accepts her marriage, but still keeps being herself in those strange and very luxurious surroundings. Devin likes being the vessel for his God, and his duties to his people, he is a good King and Seer.
Together they make a great couple, and again, this is a sweet read of two people getting to know each other and falling in love. I would have like a longer story, with more explanations of the different customs and the duties of the King and his Bride.
Oh, an again, some hot love scenes, and the appearance of the crankman ...

8 stars.

The pirate...Captain Ellett would do anything for his king-even hunt down the pirates plaguing the Jenodan Isles. But he never counted on the seductive powers of the pirate's captain-beautiful, tempestuous, and impossible to resist.

In the previous story, Captain Ellett is ordered by his God/King to bring an end to the pirating of their ships by Jenodan privateers. They are taking there revenge too far! So, far they only steal the cargo, and send the ship and crew on their way home again. He is to take a ship called The Parrot’s Ride which will be attacked by the pirates. And only his “most gentle touch” will bring things to a speedy solution.
A prophecy that makes more sense, when the ship Ellett is on, is indeed attacked by the pirates, and he finds out their captain is a pretty woman. Not just any woman, or pirate captain, but a very strong mage as well. Locked in a mage battle, he applies that gentle touch by kissing her very softly, which makes her lose her concentration, and the battle. Ellett has gained the time he needs to get to the bottom of the problems between their nations, and how they can be resolved.
Ellett also doesn’t mind getting more closely and personally involved with Captain Mita, as the journey back to the Jenodan Islands will take a few days. Even with mage magic filling the sails of the ship. Mita shares her knowledge of ship magic with Ellett, while he teaches her how to move while locked in a mage duel.
Upon reaching their destiny, the plot is quickly unveiled and unravelled, and the culprits punished. Leaving their two countries open for piece negotiations. But Ellett has to go back to his duties as Captain of the Royal Guard, and he knows how much Mita loves her job as a ship captain, he cannot ask of her to join him at Aurulean Court. But perhaps his God has something to say about that …

Even the fourth story was very enjoyable. I liked Ellett from the previous appearances, he is a very honorable man. And Mita is a great character as well, not afraid of a stronger mage, and good at what she does. They really fit well together.
Good lovescenes, and a nice but simple plotline. Good main and secondary characters. I would not mind reading more books set in this world.

8 stars

For the book overall, I liked how all those stories are linked together. From one country to the next, with a few small references to Nightfall Island, where the focus of the first 8 books was. A nice glimpse in some of the other countries mentioned before.
This book is filled with four nice and sweet lovestories. Not much emotion, or background, or intensity, just nice. Great main and secondary characters, with perhaps interesting points for more books in this series.
Yes, I enjoyed it. You can read it as stand alone, but I liked the Sons of Destiny series very much as well (8 books about 8 brothers).

8 stars for the whole book as well of course.