vrijdag 30 mei 2014

Nora Roberts – All the possibilities

The third book in the MacGregor series, published August 1, 1985.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: typical, but I have a duology, called The MacGregors Alan – Grant. I like that cover better.

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Shelby Campbell's father, a promising politician, had been assassinated years before. Since then, Shelby avoided politics entirely. Then she met persistent, persuasive Alan MacGregor--and the stubborn Scot was a senator!! How could she resist a man who courted her with rainbows - and whose passion proved that anything was possible?

A typical Nora Roberts book; I really enjoyed the heroine Shelby. She is an artist, lives as she pleases and refuses to be bored. Her father was a Senator, running for President, when he was murdered in front of his children. Shelby adored her father, she was only eleven, but she was determined to live life to the fullest, and never marry a politician. She would not risk that kind of heartbreak again. Nor would she be molded to be a polished politician’s wife.
But when she met Alan MacGregor, another Senator who would undoubtedly run for President one day, she had to make the hardest decision of her life. She told him in no uncertain ways that she was not interested in him, in dating him, going out with him, but Alan did just not take no for an answer, and forced his way in her life and in her heart.
He knew that Shelby was the one for him, and he would have her as his wife. Sure, she was nothing like the cool blondes he usually dated, poised and elegant, Shelby was fire and life and unique. But he had to overcome her fear to get her to accept.

I liked Shelby a lot, determined to go her own way, not giving in to pressure. But I had a hard time with liking Alan. I know this is an 80’s book, but he really did not take no for an answer. He kept pushing and sometimes pushing to far. He did not accept her reasons. In my eyes, even if the woman loves you and desires you, no means no, and just pushing on, bedroom wise until she gives in at last, is just not the right thing to do.

It is just a short story, so Alan did not have all that much time to sway Shelby with more gentle ways, but it pushed the wrong buttons for me. I did love it when Shelby and Alan visited the MacGregor castle though, and the MacGregor tried to intimidate her with his loud ways, but as a true Campbell, Shelby was not afraid of him and stood up against him. He loved her for that, and accepted her in his family immediately. But Alan still had to make her accept his proposal at that time.
But well, what woman can say no to a man who gives her a rainbow instead of the standard roses?

I have read this book in Dutch, many years ago, and now I am slowly making my way through Nora’s backlist in English. And I am afraid I will never catch up with the pace she writes in. But like Alan, I will persevere.

6 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 29 mei 2014

My impressions of the Love Letter Convention 2014 in Berlin, Germany.

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Very early in the morning of Thursday, May 22nd, my best friend Freya (also known on this blog as Maia) and I started our journey to Berlin, Germany, for our third Love Letter Convention. As we would be gone for a week, we both had lots of baggage, and of course many books for the authors we would meet to sign. Of course we also had to bring some provisions for the long trip, and gifts for some of our favourite authors.

The Love Letter Convention is, as far as I know, the biggest Convention in Europe (not counting England) where there are not only a lot of German authors, but also authors from all around the world who write in English. Nalini Singh is from New Zealand, Annie West and Kelly Hunter are from Australia, Nancy Warren is from Canada, Fiona Harper and Sarah Harvey come from England, and of course a lovely lot are from America. As both Freya and I only read English books, we are very happy with the opportunity to meet those wonderful authors. So we gladly make the 7 hour drive from Holland to Berlin.

We had planned it all out, start early, and have time for some sightseeing in Berlin, as our hotel was near the Alexanderplatz. What we did not count on, was the fact that it was 30 degrees Celsius in Berlin, and way too hot to go sightseeing. We walked about one kilometer, when we had to stop at a nice shaded terrace, drink a lot of cold cola, and after a half hour break, we decided to go back to our nice air-conditioned hotel. There was a nice little restaurant next door to our hotel, where we decided to have dinner, not wanting to wander far in this heat to find another restaurant.

To our surprise, it was a very cheap restaurant, with a very nice waiter, and the dinner was good. The best part though, was the non alcoholic cocktail I discovered, very refreshing and a little bit sweet. A mixture of lime, ginger ale, cane sugar and crushed ice, delicious. The next day, Friday the 23, we met with our friend Peggy from Belgium, and went to Potsdam for some sightseeing. It was still a very warm day, and although the weather report foretold rain in the afternoon, it kept nice and dry until we were back in the hotel around 17.00 hours. And there we found our last friend Karin waiting for us, she had just arrived.

The hotel itself was very cheap, there was not even a lobby you could comfortably sit and chat. So I had arranged we could stay at the same restaurant as the one Freya and I went on Thursday, and have some drinks after dinner. There was plenty of choice on the menu for us to try something new, and of course, I wanted more of that delicious cocktail. Later that evening, I met another friend we would hang out with for the weekend, Jutta, also from Austria.

We came to the arrangement to meet for breakfast early, and then all go by taxi to the location where the Convention was held. It was not that far away, but it was still very early, 7.30 hours, and we all carried heavy book bags with books to be signed by the authors. And we would get even more stuff when we signed in at the convention.
What we did not count on, was a nasty wake up call at 05.00 hours, when the fire alarm went off. I absolutely panicked, roused from a deep sleep, by a blaring alarm and a man talking whom I did not understand at all. Until he told in English that there was a fire and we had to evacuate the hotel immediately. So I stepped in my pants and shoes, grabbed my coat and handbag on the way to the door, and one bag of books. When I opened the door to the corridor, there was smoke, so it was real and not a nasty drill. Of course I know you can’t use the elevator, and I did know where the emergency stairs were, so I quickly went to the right door. Lots of people followed me down stairs (I was on the third floor, fourth for you Americans), and went outside the front door. Now I was looking frantically around for my friends, Peggy and Freya were staying on the same floor, and Karin on the seventh. Peggy and Freya and Jutta soon showed up to my relief, but no Karin. As we learned later, the fire alarm was on the third floor, so the hotel only evacuated the second, third and fourth floor. Jutta called Karin awake on her cell phone. I really was so panicking and shaking, a pounding head ache had formed. Lucky for me, Freya brought me a chair from the breakfast room, so I could sit down. And she had some aspiring in her handbag I could take. After half an hour, the fire fighters told us we could go back into our rooms, everything was over. Apparently, some drunk English tourists were playing with the fire extinguisher and caused the fire alarm to go off. I was still shaken, and had no desire at all to go back to bed, so I took a shower, got dressed and went downstairs for breakfast. The other ladies arrived soon after that, as well as the newest addition to our party, Vanessa, a young German lady who had come to the Convention on her own. Of course we welcomed her into our group, as she is a very nice person as well.

Finally, the real start of our Saturday morning at the Love Letter Convention. We were early, and had to wait for the doors to be opened at 08.00 hours. A long line was forming behind us already. Karin had fetched herself some fresh coffee from a Turkish restaurant next door. Our first event for the day was a blind date with some English language authors, and we were quickly able to give out most of our gift bags. It was so great to see Nalini Singh, Maya Banks, Lara Adrian, Larissa Ione, Fiona Harper and Tina Folsom again, as we had met them before. But I made a Facebook friend in Annie West, and she was our first Blind Date author, and it was so great to finally meet her in person. She loved our goodie bag, and surprised us with a cute little koala bear, and a free book! There were 5 more authors to meet and the hour flew. The next event I attended was the Meet & Greet with Maya Banks, Sylvia Day and Nalini Singh. I was glad I went, because I did not see Maya Banks after that again.

At 11.00 hours there was another blind date with English language authors and I really think that is the most fun event on the schedule. You meet 6 new authors and they change tables every 10 minutes. Just enough time to talk a little and have the books signed. Every hour there are 6 to 8 events to choose from, and I learned in previous years that the mixed English/German events are just not for me, as my German is not good enough to follow even half of it. The English language authors all have an interpreter whispering in their ear on stage, but the audience is supposed to follow the German speakers. The last event for the morning for me was a Round Table conversation with Fiona Harper, Sarah Harvey, Kelly Hunter, Ann Major, Jane Porter, Nancy Warren and Annie West. I choose this event, because I also know out of experience that anything with the paranormal authors is overfull, and it was still 30 degrees in Berlin, and we were in an old school building with no air conditioning. And of course, I wanted to meet these new to me authors, and get to know them and their books a little. When I finally made the connection that I have actually read Ann Major, who writes for Harlequin, in my teens, the time when I devoured the Dutch Bouquet Reeks, I really was star struck. I loved her books! And now she was here!

I had not read a book by the other authors yet, except for Fiona Harper and Annie West, but I have been so lucky as to get some free books in English from most of them, and I certainly intend to read them. I really enjoyed meeting them all, and if they come back to Berlin some year, I want to be able to tell them that I did read their book(s) and talk about it a bit.

There was a barbeque lunch set up in the garden, which was big enough for a few hundred readers, the authors and staff of the Convention. It was a nice hour, and it was great talking to other booklovers I met in the previous years.

The afternoon and the Sunday were more of the same, lovely hours spend with authors in Q&A sessions, Round Table discussions, Blind Dates, Workshops and some games.

Saturday we had a nice but strange self-service and extremely cheap Italian dinner with our group of 6 and four lovely French ladies. I have met Fabiola Chenet on Facebook, and we talk now and then about books. It was fun meeting her and her friends in real life, and I sure hope to see them all again next year.
After dinner, we all went back to the hotel, and only Karin and I did not want to go to bed yet, it was still very early. So we spent a lovely hour together at our previous restaurant drinking cocktails. I love being in a group, but I prefer talking quietly one on one. It was good to catch up on each others life, other than on Facebook chat or email.

But the winner of the weekend was our dinner on Sunday evening, in a better Italian restaurant. Our group of 6, myself, Freya, Peggy, Karin, Jutta and Vanessa, and 5 authors: Annie West, Fiona Harper and Kelly Hunter had agreed weeks before, and Michelle Willingham and Nancy Warren joined us. We had a lovely dinner and talked for hours. It was so much fun. Larissa Ione and her husband visited for a few minutes, they had a good German dinner in a restaurant across the street.

So, and now you think, the fun has ended, but for Freya and me, it had not. Not yet. You see, we found out a few weeks ago, that Patricia Briggs, an author we both love, was staying in Germany as well. Not in Berlin, but in Lüneburg, where she was giving lectures at the University. And the lecture on Tuesday was open to the public. She was not able to come to the Love Letter Convention because her schedule was so busy. So Freya and I made our decision fast: we would go from Berlin to Lüneburg, and just extend our vacation by two days. We would go sightseeing in and around Lüneburg, and in the evening attend the lecture and have a nice chat with Patty.
It was even more fun than we anticipated, as Patty and her husband Mike were staying in the same hotel we did (it was still hot and this one did NOT have airconditioning!). Freya had had a nice email contact with Patty’s assistant Ann, and they were happy to see us, but were very tired with jet lag and the heat. Still, they took some time to talk to us, and we got some amazing metal bookmarks Mike had made himself. We kept running into them whenever we were downstairs for a few minutes, so that was fun, but I really did not want to think them we were stalking them.

Freya and me were both really tired after the adrenaline filled weekend in Berlin, and the long drive to Lüneburg. We took a touristic route and avoided the highways, so it took about 7 hours. Our sightseeing was very limited to the old part of town, and Freya visited a big church while I waited outside on a bench and read for a while. I really needed that bit of quiet time. After a real German lunch of Curry Wurst (which was huge!) we both decided to take a nap and meet later on downstairs to get ready for the lecture and think up some questions to ask Patricia Briggs. I had brought a whole bag of books with me for Patricia to sign, only three of my own but also a lot from (international) friends. Patty was so nice to sign them before we left the hotel, so I did not have to carry them with me. The university was at walking distance, only 5 minutes, and to my surprise, the lecture was about mythology in Urban Fantasy, and I really enjoyed it. Patricia Briggs is a gifted speaker, and she could have gone one for at least one hour more if I had a say in it. After the lecture there was time to ask some questions, and then we had to go back to the hotel for dinner. Our last dinner together this vacation, as on Wednesday we would drive home. And to be honest, I was ready to go home. So many impressions, so many events I had been looking forward to for months, and the heat really made me tired.

But yes, we will certainly be there again next year. It will be on May 2nd and 3rd 2015, and there are already 5 authors lined up: Julie Kenner, Erin McCarthy, Susan Elisabeth Phillips, Lisa Renee Jones and Lisa Marie Rice.

I have met Erin McCarthy and Lisa Marie Rice before, and they are both very nice. I have been ordered by all of my friends to start reading Susan Elisabeth Phillips, and I already have some of her books, and some of Lisa Renee Jones’s. I have actually read one Julie Kenner book, but I do have some more.

So now I will be busy reading the books I received for free, and reading books for the Convention 2015. Watch out for the LLC logo in my reviews! I have posted pictures on my Facebook page, so you are welcome to look them up: here

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 28 mei 2014

ARC review Jenn Bennett – Banishing the Dark

The fourth book in the Arcadia Bell series, to be published May 27, 2014.
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: nice, but not as good as the others in this series.

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In this new instalment in a beloved urban fantasy series, gutsy renegade mage and tiki bar owner Arcadia Bell faces the last danger standing between her old identity and a new future she desperately wants: herself. After surviving a supernatural battle with Hellfire Club leader Ambrose Dare, Cady and her demon boyfriend, Lon Butler, journey across California to find the source of her mysterious Moonchild origins. But the further they travel, the stranger the revelations about her parents' past occult lives. Can Cady keep what's rightfully hers, or will she have to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop her murderous mother from crossing the planes?

When Cady finally wakes up from her coma, she doesn’t remember everything that happened right away. It takes some time from Lon and his son Jupe to tell her everything and explain what happened in the past month. She won’t be prosecuted for killing Dare in self defense, that problem was taken care of. Only a few people know what really happened. And Kar Yee has been visiting her in the hospital often, so she is no longer mad at Cady for hiding her past from her.

As long as Cady’s mother thinks she is still in a coma, she will be safe from being taken over. But they will have to find the Moonchild spell her parents used when conceiving her, and try to reverse it, or she will never be free of her mother’s manipulations. Her mother has killed one of the more powerful demon Lords in the Aether, and now she is looking for a way to get back to earth, for good.

And what will happen when her mother finds out that Cady is pregnant, it can only mean disaster and danger for their unborn child. So there is only one solution: Cady must forget she is pregnant herself, so her mother cannot find that out from her mind. But putting the memory spell on Cady, makes her forget even more things: her love for Lon and the live they shared for the past six months. And so she tries to act like they are friends/polite strangers which is very hard on both of them. She doesn’t understand the attraction she feels for Lon, or the jealousy when some waitress is flirting with him.

Going on a roadtrip together to find out the truth, is not easy. Cady will have to sleep during the day, so she is awake when the moon shines and her mother’s powers are the strongest. Her own powers are erratic and she discovers new ones every day.

In the meanwhile, with some poking from Priya, Cady’s messenger, Jupe tries to find out things on his own while Lon and Cady are away from home. And he might just have found the missing pieces...

But will it all be enough to fight of Cady’s mother when she is determined to take over Cady’s body and more importantly, her powers?

After the evil cliffhanger ending of book three, I had to read this book as soon as the ARC became available (in January). I just had to find out what would happen.

I have to admit, after the action of the previous book, this one started out very tame. I kept waiting for the danger to start again, the action to make me sit on the edge of my seat. And well, it just didn’t happen until the very last few chapters of the book. So yes, I am a bit disappointed as I was expecting more.

Not that the story was not intriguing or bad, I really enjoyed it. Finding out what horrible things her parents had done in the past, how they used people and Cady provided a worthwhile background. But I just wanted more. Like, what demon did they use? Was that not the purpose of the pictures Lon took? And I still do not know what Mother of Ahriman means.

I truly loved Jupe in this book. Falling all over this girl he met, and trying to impress her. That was fun, and brave of him. I hope for a spin off book about Jupe some time, when he is grown up and finding his way in the world.

Yes, the end of a series can be a sad thing for a reader who has fallen in love with a world and the characters that live in it.

8 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 26 mei 2014

J.J. Cook – Playing with Fire

The second book in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade series, published January 7, 2014
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: nice. The dog in the picture is Hero, who is training to be a rescue dog, helping find victims in houses on fire.

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Welcome to Sweet Pepper, Tennessee. Nestled in the Great Smoky Mountains, it's home to the hottest and sweetest peppers in the world—as well as at least one ghost and a hotbed of secrets…
Fire Chief Stella Griffin is working to solve the mysterious death of her predecessor, Eric Gamlyn—who also haunts her cabin. Yet the more she learns, the more burning questions she must answer. Just as Stella thinks she has a lead from Deputy Chum, someone snuffs her hopes—and the lawman.
Adding fuel to the fire, Stella's parents soon arrive—with her ex-boyfriend—hoping to persuade her to return to Chicago. Now Stella is torn between the life she left behind and uncovering what happened to her ghostly friend. But she'd better think fast or more than her investigation could go up in flames…

It took me a very long time to get into the first book in the series, and only the ending made me decide to buy the next book. And I am glad I did, as this book captured my attention from the start. Fire Chief Stella Griffin is trying to find out who killed former Fire Chief Eric Gamlyn, her ghostly houseguest, 40 years ago. Slowly she gets to the bottom of the truth, but her parents really want her to move back home, to Chicago, and even fly out to Sweet Pepper to persuade her. But why they brought her cheating ex-boyfriend with them, she doesn’t know. She is really not interested in him anymore. She is casually dating a forestry pilot at the moment, and is enjoying life in Sweet Pepper. Especially spending time with Eric...

I really enjoyed the mystery, it sure was exciting and dangerous at times, and I still want to think the sheriff is the bad guy, with how he is behaving towards Stella. The whole town seems to think her rich grandfather is behind it though, but so far, there is no evidence about that.

The daily life leading the fire brigade and training her volunteers is very interested as well, as are the real fires they have to fight. And then there is the intrigue at her grandfathers’ mansion. Ben is over the moon that his daughter has come back home for a visit, even if she refuses to stay with him. His second wife and her son are less thrilled of course, they still hope to inherit when he dies, but he seems to ignore them mostly, and really despise his stepson.

I really enjoyed this cozy mystery, and I certainly want to read the next book.
8 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 25 mei 2014

Recommendations from Karin for May 2014.

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


I have read 11 books this month and I found a shiny new author - well at least she’s new to me. 6 of the books I’ve read are by Lindsay Buroker, and I’d like to recommend:


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The Emperor’s Edge (books 1-3): there are more, but I didn’t get to read them – yet.

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All these books play in a unique world: I would call it “light steampunk” if there is such a thing. There are definite elements of fantasy and “The Emperor’s Edge” is very light on romance. There is always hope that the spunky heroine Amaranthe and the remote and stand-offish assassin Sicarius form a relationship. But I haven’t got that far.
But mostly these books – all of them – grabbed me and never let go. They are a thrill ride, you turn a page and another critical situation springs up. You just have to know how this situation is solved and before you know it you are in the middle of another adventure.
I think I even liked “Encrypted” and “Decrypted” with Tikaya, the philologist – neither graceful nor a warrior, and Prisoner Five – also known as Rias (once Tikaya’s country’s greatest enemy) even a touch better than “The Emperor’s Edge”. But I will still read the rest of this series, as I just have to know how the story ends.

And now I would like to ask you a question: have you come across books where you dislike the name of the hero or the heroine? It happened to me again with “Amaranthe”. Who on earth would name one’s daughter after a cereal (hopefully I’m not offending anyone out there?!) I couldn’t help it, but it took me some time to stop snickering whenever her name was mentioned – and her being the heroine, it’s mentioned a lot.
I didn’t have this problem with the other persons as their names just sound foreign to me and I was able to pronounce them quite easily.
And then I have read books where the characters have Gaelic or Celtic names. I have to ask Mr Google for a decent pronunciation.
I mean I understand that “Joe, the ruthless and fearless vampire leader of yore” would sound a tad ridiculous. I expect a somewhat rare name, but please: I would so like to be able to keep the name in mind and not wonder every time I read it how to pronounce it.
I once read a book with a heroine named “Jaxon” (I won’t mention the writer’s name, although I’m sure many of you will recognize it). I liked the book a lot, but I kept seeing a town in Texas or some big boxer in my mind’s eye. Jaxon, the heroine, was small, beautiful and of course well endowed – so no resemblance to a boxer or a city.

I could go on with this list but of course I won’t do that, I wouldn’t want to bore you to death. But still: do you have a similar problem or am I the only one?

These recommendations are out a bit early this month as we’ll be spending the time around the 25th of May in Berlin, talking to fabulous authors, enjoying the company of people who understand when I keep talking about some fictional character for a lot of time, and generally we are going to have a good time.
So, I hope you enjoy your reading time as much as I do – ridiculous names not withstanding.

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! This is a new author to me, and one I will definitely check out. And I am so with you on the ridiculous names some authors use for their characters. Although the one you mention has no association for me, there are plenty of others. I think I know a heroine named Jaxon, but it does not have any associations for me either, though it does sound more male than female.

How about you reader, do you know Lindsay Buroker?

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 23 mei 2014

Heather Blake – The Goodbye Witch

The fourth book in the Wishcraft Mystery series, published May 6, 2014.
Genre: paranormal cozy mystery
Cover: lovely

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As Enchanted Village's resident Wishcrafter, Darcy Merriweather has the power to make other people's wishes come true, but what she really wishes is that she had the power to uncloak the invisible man who's stalking her best friend....
Darcy's closest friend and fellow witch, Starla Sullivan, hoped she'd never see her ex-husband, Kyle, again. Two years ago he tried to kill her, and he has been a fugitive ever since. Now Starla claims to have seen him back in Enchanted Village, but it seems she's the only one who can see him. To everyone else, her ex is invisible.
Darcy only wishes his motives were as transparent as the rest of him. Since the police can't arrest someone they can't see, it's up to Darcy to find the secret behind Kyle's latest disappearing act—before he does something they can't see coming….

I love this series, and especially how Darcy Merriweather is learning how to be a wishcrafter. A wishcrafter is a witch who grants wishes. There are lots of rules and regulations to learn, but Darcy loves it all. She is a very caring person, having raised her younger sister when their mother died at her birth, and their father pretty much neglected them after. But when he died, their aunt was finally allowed to tell them about their heritage, and she took them in. Darcy had just gone through a bad divorce, and she sure needed this change in her life. Her sister Harper is more leery of being a witch, but she came with Darcy to Salem, The Enchanted Village, and now owns the local bookshop. Which she has transformed into a place I would so love to visit!
Darcy has also found love again in local head of police and non-witch Nick Sawyer and his little daughter Mimi, who is also a wishcrafter. Her aunt Ve runs some kind of concierge business from her home, and Darcy loves to help her. They make the most impossible wishes come true.

Darcy also found a very good friend in wishcrafter Starla Sullivan. Starla is also divorced, and now happily in love with a man Darcy does not really trust, as he is a Seeker, desperately wanting to be a witch himself. She is not convinced that Vince Paxton truly loves Starla or is using her to find out the truth about witches. But for Starla’s sake, she tries.

And now Starla is scared out of her wits that her ex-husband is back in town, after he tried to kill her two years ago. His family has closed ranks against her at that time, not wanting to believe that their son and brother is capable of such violence. Kyle Chadwick and his family are mani-crafters, meaning they are good with their hands at crafts and such. Kyle escaped prison after being arrested, so why is he back now? He is a fugitive. Darcy will do whatever it takes to help and protect her friend, and Harper certainly will help as well. Starla’s day job is a photographer, and she has taken some pictures of Kyle near the ice-skating rink, but she was so spooked that she left her camera behind when she ran. When Harper retrieves it, they all want to see the pictures, but the memory card has been wiped clean. There is not much Nick can do, but he will alert his officers and be on the look out for Kyle. They know how he looks, as his almost identical twin still lives in the village.

The Chadwick family is not happy with what is happening, and they keep claiming that Kyle cannot possible be in town. His two brothers pay a visit to Darcy and Starla in Darcy’s house, where she and her brother will be staying for the moment, and it certainly is not a good visit. Darcy is convinced they know where there brother is hiding, and Harper sets out to follow them when they leave.

But the next day, Kyle’s body is found in Darla’s livingroom, and Darla becomes suspect number one. Especially police officer Glinda Hansel, a broomcrafter, is after her for murdering Kyle, but the evidence found is only circumstantial. Glinda really hates Darcy for taking Nick from her, although Nick has never been interested in her in that way.

Darcy has her work cut out for her, especially as the Elder herself asks her to snoop around and be her unofficial investigator into this crime, which has to have been committed by a crafter. And Craft laws supersede human laws in this village.
How did Kyle manage to become visible only to Darla? How did he break into her house, or into the police station to steal his wedding ring out of the evidence locker? Who helped him, and why?

I love this series very much. The interaction between Darcy and her family and friends, and especially the familiars, is so lovely to read about and discover. Her relationship with Nick is progressing well, and Mimi is a delight. I would trade her in a heartbeat for my stepdaughter. But there is heart break in this book as well, when a close friend is dying from old age. And how far would Darcy go to protect a love one? Would she give up her sister if she had murdered someone, or would she stand behind her all the way? Difficult choices, but thinking about all these things make her understand the Chadwicks for their choices.
Darcy’s birthday is also coming up, a day she would rather forget, as it was never a happy day for her after her mother died. But Aunt Ve seems determined to have a small dinner party ... or not so small ... I loved that part so much!

10 stars.

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 22 mei 2014

Almost time for the 2014 Love Letter Convention in Berlin, Germany.

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While you are reading this post, me and my best friend Maia are on our way to Berlin, Germany, to attend the Love Letter Convention. This is the third year the event is held, and the third year we are going.
We always have such a great time there. It starts of course with the anticipation of which authors will be attending, do we like them, read them, or are those authors we really want to start reading. I have discovered some great authors to read because they came to visit their European fans. Like Bella Andre, Pamela Palmer, Erin McCarthy, Maya Banks and Michelle Styles. And this year I started reading Sylvia Day and Larissa Ione.

We are also in the habit of bringing a little gift bag to the authors we admire, filled with some typical Dutch goodies. To let them know they do have fans in our small country as well, and thank them for the many hours or reading pleasure they provide us.

So the next step is figuring out which events to go to, a Question and Answer session, a Blind Date, a Workshop? There are often 6 things going in the same hour, so which authors do we want to meet, and how can we see as many as possible? Which book shall I take with me to get signed at the signing sessions.
Here is a list of some of the authors I am looking forward to meeting this year:
Nalini Singh, Lara Adrian, Maya Banks, Sylvia Day, Annie West, Larissa Ione, Kelly Hunter, Lisa Jackson, Tina Folsom, Fiona Harper.

Then of course there is a hotel to be found, as this year the Convention is in a bigger location. Which means more authors, yeah! We also plan some time for sightseeing, and it is Maia her job to find things we both want to visit and see. Of course it all depends on the weather as well, and this year the reports are conflicting. One site says hot, the other site says less hot and rain and storm. Just like here in Holland at the moment. But Berlin is often just a few degrees warmer.

I have already made some dinner appointments with friends we made the previous years, and new friends I met on Facebook or through blogging. We will meet up with Peggy and Karin, who you all know from their monthly recommendations. I look forward to that very much.
And that is so much fun! The Sunday evening has been reserved for dinner with some lovely authors from Australia and England. I do look forward to all our dinners this week. No cooking! Great food, great fun, lots of new and old friends to meet. The atmosphere at the Convention is so great, there are only people there who love to read, and most amazingly, the same genre of books I love to read!

Normally, we would leave Berlin on Monday to drive back home. But this year, we have added two more days to our vacation when we found out that Patricia Briggs is in Germany this year! She is not coming to the Convention, although we really tried to get her to alter her schedule, but we can go and see her in Lunenburg, where she is lecturing at the University. This means two more days of sightseeing, and on Tuesday evening, we will attend a lecture and meet Patricia afterwards. I am so thrilled, I love her books.

An added benefit is, that means the drive back home is shorter by at least 2 hours, as we are much closer to Holland already. We can take our time and avoid the highway for a bit, see some more of Germany’s lovely scenery. Although Holland is “next door”, it is so very different.

So I will be gone for a whole week. I have no idea if I will have access to the Internet while there, or even have time to check my email and blog. I have scheduled a few posts while I am away, but not every day. I am still a bit too restless to read and concentrate on reading, I have started multiple books lately but nothing keeps my interest for long. Especially some of the ARC’s I was over the moon about when I received them. I sure hope I will be cured when I get back home.

I hope you all have a great week, we sure will!

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 20 mei 2014

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

My 8th new additions post for 2014. Some books have been read and reviewed already, and others are destined to gather dust for a while.

From Bookdepository:
Amanda Quick – The mystery woman
Susan Wittig Albert – Widow’s tears
Jean Johnson – The Guild
Heather Blake – The goodbye witch
Alexis Morgan – A reason to love

Secondhand books:
I absolutely kicked my book buying ban out of the window, and went on a shopping spree at the Boekenfestijn with Sullivan McPig and Maia. We had such a great day, and I scored 34 books!

- Sarah Rees Brennan – The Demon’s surrender
- Carolyn Brown – One hot cowboy wedding
- Grace Burrowes – The Heir
- Jackie Collins – Drop Dead Beautiful
- Melissa de la Cruz – Serpent’s Kiss
- Melissa de la Cruz – Skinny Dipping
- Melissa de la Cruz – Witches of East End
- Janet Dailey – Happy Holidays
- Tawna Fenske – Believe it or not
- Marie Force – Everyone loves a hero
- Jayne Fresina – The most improper Miss Sophie Valentine
- Laura Anne Gilman – Weight of Stone (signed!)
- Laurell K. Hamilton – Star Trek TNG – Nightshade. Well, it is a LKH book, so...
- Lisa Renee Jones – The Danger that is Damion
- Lisa Renee Jones – The Storm that is Sterling
- Stephanie Julian – What a Goddess wants
- Robin Kaye – Romeo, Romeo
- Robin Kaye – Wild Thing
- Julie Kenner – The Givenchy Code
- Sherrilyn Kenyon – No Mercy
- Sharon Lathan – Miss Darcy falls in love
- Sharon Lathan – The trouble with Mr. Darcy
- Catherine Littlewood – Bliss
- Catherine Mann – Hot Zone
- Heather Lynn Rigaud – Firzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star
- Karen Robards – Sleepwalker
- Stephanie Rowe – Touch if you dare
- Elizabeth Sinclair – Garden of the Moon
- L.J. Smith – Heart of Valour
- Dana Stabenow – Dead in the Water
- Dana Stabenow – A cold day for murder
- Linda Wisdom – A demon does it better
- Linda Wisdom – Demons are a Girl’s best friend
- The Mammoth Book of Vampire Romance.

I have read the Robin Kaye books a few years ago as ebooks, and really loved them, so I am happy to have them in paper now. And even though I did bring my booklist with me, I managed to buy one book I already have, Heart of Valour.

So, what do you think of my new books? Which ones should I read first?

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 19 mei 2014

Jean Johnson – The Guild

The third book in the Guardians of Destiny series, published May 6, 2014
Genre: fantasy romance with some steampunk thrown in
Cover: love it

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Cult's awareness, it shall rise:
Hidden people, gather now;
Fight the demons, fight your doubt.
Gearman's strength shall then endow,
When Guild's defender casts them out.

For centuries, the mages of Mekhana have done their best to hide themselves and their powers from the rapacious needs of their so-called Patron Deity, Mekha. Greatest of their secrets is the Vortex, a Fountain hidden in the heart of the Hydraulics Guild. But even after the dissolution of Mekha and the freeing of his people, Alonnen isn't ready to reveal his guardianship to outsiders. Particularly when the remnants of Mekha's priesthood start looking for a new monstrosity to worship.
Rexei has hidden more than her powers for most of her life; she has also hidden her gender, wary of the hungers of the old priesthood. Only in the safety of the Hydraulics Guild's innermost secrets can she be herself. While the rest of her people struggle to reinvent themselves and find a deity they can trust, Rexei struggles to trust just one man, the Guardian of the Vortex. Events are moving fast, though; the priesthood is desperate for any new source of power, even a demonic one that requires certain sacrifices to access.

Another Jean Johnson book, what can I tell you that I haven’t written a dozen times before? I love her books, her writing style, the amazing world she has created in this series. The many different lands and cultures, where gods and goddesses are very real, and made powerful by the faith of their worshippers.

Prophets from a long time ago have foretold a series of events, and these events are happening now. The third verse is about Mekhana. Their Patron Deity was a false god, kept alive with machinery and stealing magic and life force from mages. At the convocation of the Gods, he was slain for good, and Mekhana is freed of him. As being a mage would get you captured and killed, the Mekhanan people had to develop their technology to do what other counties do with magic. The Guilds have grown strong and powerful to oppose the brutal priesthood. The priests are a bad bunch of men, preying on women and mages and doing whatever they please in the name of Mekha. But now their source of power has vanished and if they want to stay in power, they will need a new Deity fast. A foreign mage tells them how to bind a powerful demon instead, and using his power as their own.

A young woman named Rexei is working under cover in the main temple, examining a complaint from the servers guild about priests abusing the servers. When she overhears the foreign mage tell the local priests about summoning demons when suddenly all the signs of Mekha disappear from the temple walls and the priests’ robes, she knows he will have to be stopped. The priests quickly release their mage prisoners into the winter cold, trying to prevent a riot from the citizens they have abused for so long. The servers are thrown out of the temple as well. And so Rexei finds herself stemming the tide of a riot, and getting hauled away by the militia lieutenant to a place she did not know existed. There is a secret mage guild, and what she knows has to be shared with all the other countries and their Guardians. This demon summoning will have to be stopped, or they will all be overrun by demons from the Netherhells.

Rexei has been living on her own since she was 11, when her family was raided by the priests, and her mother was raped and taken prisoner. The priests breed their female prisoners to create more mages to feed their God, and the male mages who so choose, will join their ranks. Joining guild after guild as an apprentice, Rexei has managed to stay hidden for all those years, dreaming of a better time and a good Deity to lead her people. She has gathered a lot of knowledge over the years, learning all different kinds of trades and jobs and skills, staying where she was safe, fleeing when she was about to be discovered as a mage, or as a female, or if a priest shown attention to her.

But now, with her country thrown into a civilian war, with the militia and the priests battling for power, she needs to take her stand, and show her fellow mages and the various Guild Masters her vision of the future. A future based on the might and the structure of the various Guilds, with a benevolent Goddess named Guildra, and a new country name Guildara. They will have to act fast, before the priests manage to create a new God, keeping themselves in power. And Rexei will have to learn to trust the Mages Guild Master, and perhaps even find love in his arms.

But the priests are not happy that Rexei double crossed them, and they are after revenge, meaning to use her as a demon sacrifice...

I loved the book a lot, Rexei is one resilient young woman who has managed to stay out of harms way for so many years. Scared of getting close to someone, concerned about the rest of her family, her father and her half brothers. Always on the run. She is very capable of taking care of herself, but now there is no place left to hide, with everyone knowing who she is. With the mages hiding place overrun with the freed mages, she will have to share the rooms with the Master himself, and even his bed in this cold winter time. So when Alonnen discovers Rexei is no boy but a woman, which was fun. He is very gentle in getting her to trust him, and Rexei finds himself attracted to him, for the first time. She knows all about what happens between men and women, having been treated as a boy for all those years, but she is still a virgin. And seeing Alonnen naked has made her curious, as he doesn’t immediately try to jump her bones.

Alonnen is not only the mage Guild Master, he is also the Guardian of the Vortex, a source of magical power that has been kept hidden from their mad God. He is not trained like the mages or Guardians in the other countries but he does his best, and he will accept help when offered from the other Guardians. Rexei has to tell her story to them as well, and even when witnessing all those strange new things, she keeps her head cool.
Alonnen really is kind of nerdy, certainly not a gorgeous alpha male, and I enjoyed that aspect a lot too.

I really liked this mix of magic and technique; I totally see motorcycles and cars drive around there in a kind of medieval setting. It is fun, and very well written and plotted out. I think you can read this book as a stand alone but I really do not recommend that. Please start with book 1 to get a feeling for the world building and everything that has happened before. And if you can, you really should start with the Sons of Destiny series first.

The only thing I really did not like in this book, are the love scenes. At the end of this book, Rexei is still technically a virgin, so I think you can get my hint. I mostly skipped and skimmed them. Though the use of technical metaphors was fun and certainly original.

9 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 18 mei 2014

Heather Webber – Trouble in Bloom

The fourth book in the Nina Quinn series, published April 24, 2007.
Genre: cozy mystery
Cover: beautiful

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For a while it seemed landscaper Nina Quinn's life was one big bed of roses. Her garden makeover business, Taken by Surprise, was blooming. Her pesky ex was finally out of the picture, and a hunky new beau, Bobby MacKenna, was in it. But then the weeds started taking over when Bobby accepted a job in another state, nipping their blossoming relationship in the bud. However, he's back in town to appear with Nina on Hitched or Ditched, TV's sleaziest reality romance show, since they promised Bobby's lawyer cousin they'd help him dig up some dirt on the show's producer. Then an uncomfortable situation grows far worse when there's death behind the scenes . . . and it turns out the only reality is murder.
Nina would much rather be installing an indoor garden at the dysfunctional local nursing home than getting her hands dirty in this dangerous business. But if she doesn't uproot a cold-blooded off-camera killer, those invasive weeds may push her six feet under.

Nina has been getting over her heart break of Bobby MacKenna leaving for a new job in another state, and trying to rediscover herself, find out what she wants and needs in life. And now he is back in town to help his grandfather find a new place to stay. Bobby has also promised to help his lawyer cousin with a case, and so Bobby and Nina are a pretend couple in the tv show: hitched or ditched. The camera will follow both of them for a week in their usual life, and they have daily shoots at the studio, with some intimate questions. The audience will then vote at the end of the week, are they a couple truly in love, or should they ditch the other. There is also a great gay couple in the show, and I really enjoy how Perry gives Nina a make over, and how she likes the new her.

It is very hard for Nina to keep refusing Bobby, as she still has feelings for him, and he is very persistent in wanting back in her bed. But what future do they have if he is living so far away? And she also still has feelings for her ex-husband Kevin, who cheated on her with his partner. Her house is still a huge mess, thanks to her mother and her remodelling ideas, so Nina has been sleeping on the sofa for months now.

The hostess of the show is getting death threats, but is this real, or is she faking it to get higher ratings? After all, there is also a journalist from another tv station on scene, taping segments for his own show. Nina being her nosy self, soon finds out that all is not cozy with the people from the tv show. They all seem to be cheating on each other, so when the hostess is found dead in the hot tub, there are suspects everywhere. Nina wouldn’t be Nina if she would not try to solve the case herself. Especially after the second body pops up ...

I really enjoy this gardening series by Heather Webber. This time it is a bit light on the gardening, only one small project in a very high end nursing home. But there is some intrigue with her employee Kit, whose relationship is going down the drain. And Kit ending up at Nina’s house is the best thing that ever happened to Nina, as he sets her house to rights in no time.

As usual, Nina’s gorgeous cousin Ana goes after the most handsome man on the set, seeing Hollywood in her future already. I really love the little interaction between Nina and her neighbours and I admit, I am so happy her mother and sister are not my relatives. Those two are really ditzy, although Maria has a very important clue for them in the end.

The discovery of the murderer did surprise me; I honestly did not know who to vote for. But the book ended with a major cliffhanger concerning Nina and her relationship, and I have no idea what will happen next, or what/who I want for her. I will have to read the next one soon to find out.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

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© 2014 Reviews by Aurian


zaterdag 17 mei 2014

Maya Banks – After the Storm

The eighth book in the Kelly/KGI series, published January 7, 2014.
Genre: romantic suspense
Cover: ugly, they should have left his head of completely, so I could just admire his arms.

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The Kelly Group International (KGI): A super-elite, top secret, family-run business.
Qualifications: High intelligence, rock-hard body, military background.
Mission: Hostage/kidnap victim recovery. Intelligence gathering. Handling jobs the U.S. government can't…

Over the years, Donovan Kelly has fought relentlessly for justice, women and children always holding a special place in his heart. Working side by side with his brothers, Donovan has witnessed firsthand the toll it's taken—physically, mentally, and emotionally—on his loved ones, and the innocent lives caught in the crossfire. What he never expects is for his next mission to happen right on his home turf—or for it to take a very personal turn.
Picturesque Kentucky Lake is the perfect place for a soul in search of safe harbor. A beautiful stranger has arrived—desperate, breathless, and on the run from a dark past closing in on her and the younger siblings she has vowed to protect. Donovan must now draw on every resource at his disposal—if he wants to save a woman and the children who may prove to be his destiny.

I have read a few reviews about this book, when it was newly published. And those reviews made me decide to wait a while with reading this book, until I would have forgotten some of the negatives. To my own disappointment, I have to agree with the negative reviews, so I am sad that this book did not live up to my usual level of enjoyment a Maya Banks book gives me.

For me, this book lacks suspense, and battle scenes and planning. It has an enormous lot of feelings and emotions and Donovan thinking: they are mine, they are my family, I just know it, I will never let them go. In my eyes, he is a psychopath. The way he takes over their life completely, their care, how he is determined to deal with their bad past on his own, forbidding Eve to even think about it.
And his whole family just accepts this as normal behaviour, Donovan has not known these people for 5 minutes and he thinks as Eve as his, and her half brother and half sister as his kids. Yes, I know, in the other books his brothers acted much the same, just knowing the woman they are supposed to treat as a job, is much more, and can be the one. But there is still some courting, and not this complete taking over as Donovan is doing. He was creepy in his desires. Eve is still recovering from her injuries from the storm, very malnourished and weak, and he is determined to have her in his bed that same evening. No, just not. He talks about taking things slow, but he is a steamroller and just does whatever he thinks is the right thing to do.

And then there is Eve, who has been on the run from her stepfather for a while now, she is at her wits end. She doesn’t want to trust Donovan but she has no other choice. She also loves being his family, and with his family, something she has never known herself. (She grew up with an aunt as her stepfather did not want her, until recently). She fell for him, and did not question much about anything, until she thought he had betrayed her and only wanted the children.

I also did not really believe the behaviour of little Cammie, four years old, scared of everyone, and suddenly accepting of Donovan, wanting to call him daddy, and asking freely for food or toys, when she was absolutely conditioned not to.

What I did like was the little storyline of Rusty and Sean, which I had seen coming for a while now.

The other Kelly’s of course all play their part in this book as well, as it takes place in their hometown and later in the compound where they all live. The couples are all very happily married, and breeding like rabbits. But the attitude of those men for “the wives” really grated on me from time to time as well, keeping them out of everything, keeping them safe. Ignorant, pregnant and chained to the kitchen sink is more like it.

So, I liked the writing style, and the story itself, because it is Maya Banks. I would have DNF-ed the same book by another author for sure. I really dislike Donovan and his attitude in this book though, the characters act really unbelievable. I know this is fiction, but it still has to be believable in some sense for me to enjoy a book. I have to like the characters, and I really did not. Eve was not strong enough, she did not stand up for herself against Donovan and all those other Kellies who were just happy that Donovan found his future in her.

I liked the first part, with Travis working and supporting his sisters, but after Donovan took them into his house, I just did not like it anymore.

4 stars out of 10.

Autobuy author

Banne6 photo bannerLLC20146_zps5b7135ef.png

buy the book from The Book Depository, free delivery

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 16 mei 2014

Anthology – Blood by Moonlight

A collection of stories by Jocelynn Drake, Terri Garey and Caris Roane, published October 23, 2012.
Genre: paranormal romance / urban fantasy
Cover: I like it

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Just in time for the scariest season of all, three popular paranormal authors come together to tell original tales of romance where anything can happen under a Halloween moon . . .

Jocelyn Drake – Of Monsters and Men

Tempers flare and passions rise in Jocelynn Drake's Of Monsters and Men as the local werewolf pack clashes with the Winter Court's Wild Hunt . . .

I liked this short story a lot, wizard Gage is asked by the werewolf Alpha Jack to keep his pack safe from the Wild Hunt from the Fae Winter Court. And when he comes up with a non-lethal solution, the Winter Court abduct his Summer Court Fae girlfriend Trixie, so he has to get her back, no matter the cost ...

I want to read this series. As soon as my book buying ban is over, I will buy both of them.

8 stars.

Terri Garey’s – The Ghoul Next Door

In Terri Garey's The Ghoul Next Door, a witch and a warlock battle it out for possession of a haunted house, but the ghost may have her own agenda . . .

This was a fun short story, where the heroine is a witch, who wants to drive the man away who bought her ancestral house from her father, who was not allowed to sell it. But conjuring the spirit of her grandmother might not have been the best of ideas. The man in question interferes, and to keep him safe, she has to take some of his blood as well. What Cassie Calloway does not know, is that James T. Falco is not without powers of his own, and by mixing their blood, Cassie has unwittingly bonded them together. Which is exactly what her grandmothers spirit wants for her granddaughter ...
Together they will be able to fight the evil bent on destroying them both ...

I think I once read one of Nicki Styx books, and I don’t think I enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed this short story, which is in the same realm I think. I will have to re-read it if that is the case, and probably read the rest of the series as well. They have been gathering dust on my shelves for a while now.

8 stars.

Caris Roane – Trick or Treathen

And, in Trick or Treathen by Caris Roane, a master vampire struggles to stay away from the mortal woman who enflames his very soul.

A year ago, Jenna’s sister Britt vanished at Halloween, and Jenna just knows that a vampire has taken her. Treyne, the master of this area, can’t help her, as all vampire communities are autonomous, one master cannot interfere in the affairs of another master vampire. He knows whom has taken her sister, and he regrets that he cannot help Jenna, the human woman he has been falling in love with for a while now. But vampires and humans really should not mix, or bond together, he firmly believes that.
But now Jenna has finally grown strong and bold enough to try to sneak into his compound and make him help her, at gunpoint. Which is of course the most silly thing ever, his compound is guarded heavily, and he is so fast, she will never see him coming when he takes the gun out of her hand.

Overcome by mutual lust they go to his bedroom to indulge, and after that, he shows Jenna more about the truth of vampire law and the rules he must abide by. But his intention to drive her away from him backfires. And Jenna also does not give up on saving her sister. So when the evil vampire who has Britt, takes Jenna as well, Treyne just has to stop him, kill him and free Jenna and her sister, and all the other human woman the evil one has been abusing.

I did like this story least of all. A very big part is dedicated to love scenes, I would have like a few sentences explaining the difference between vampires and humans, as humans are not converted in to vampires in this world. Are they aliens? Secondly, some of the euphemisms really bothered me. Like taking or giving nourishment, when meaning feeding/sucking blood. Or “he put his fingers in her well” ...Yeah, no, just no.

6 stars

So, a really thin anthology with three short stories and two excerpts from other books to tease the reader even more. Still, overall, I enjoyed it.

7 stars total.

I think this book is no longer available in paper, at least not at Bookdepository, but you can buy the Kindle edition here: here

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian