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Full Moon Dreams

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If you're a fan of Lori Handeland's 'Nightcreature' series about werewolves and the jager-suchers who hunt them, you owe it to yourself to read "Full Moon Dreams". This is a story published in 1996 that provides an early look at Handeland's world of nightcreatures. It's an historical romance that takes place in America not long after the Civil War about a traveling circus. Even though it's not Handeland's best work, the glimpse it gave me into the beginnings of her now-popular series was fascinating.Emma is a female tiger tamer for her grandfather's traveling circus in 1870s America. She grew up in the circus and its the only home she's ever known and working with tigers is what she loves. Now, the presence of a werewolf stalking their circus has placed her life and her livelihood in danger. With four of her fellow performers dead, the appearance of any stranger is suspicious--so why can't she get the handsome wanderer Johnny out of her mind?John is THE doctor in his small town. He raised his brother, Peter, after the death of his mother and both of them managed to live through the War. Yet his brother disappeared at the end of the war and that haunts him. When Peter appears one night John is happy...until he sees Peter killed by a strange wolf with the eyes of a human. That same wolf attacks John but he manages to escape with severe wounds. His brother's dying words direct John to a traveling circus so he heads out with revenge on his mind. The suspicious deaths quickly make a believer out of John in the existance of werewolves, but to his horror HE changes on the first full moon after his attack too. Now he's falling in love with a gorgeous, free-spirited tiger tamer but he knows his presence is dangerous. He must kill the werewolf who 'made' him and then find the strength to kill himself before he hurts Emma.As I said, the story isn't Handeland's best and the date of the book, with all the attendant genre restrictions of the time, certainly doesn't help. But it is still a good story considering these things and a compelling look at how Handeland's writing skill and world changed with the passage of time.
The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker

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"The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Miss Percy Parker" is one of the strangest 'romances' I've read in a long time. Author Leanna Renee Hieber has penned a tale worthy of the title 'gothic' and just about as understandable.Miss Percy Parker is an albino. Abandoned as an infant on the steps of a convent in Victorian times, she grew up with only ghosts as friends. When she arrives to the Athens school in London, she is ever hopeful of finding a purpose for her life and equally fearful of the jibes and scorn of those who fear anything and anyone different. She's quickly taken by her dark and mysteriously handsome mathematics professor and dreams that he might not find her hideous.Alexi is part of the Guard of six who are in search of their seventh as foretold to them when they were young teenagers. Each was granted a gift that helps them fight evil spirits and lay them to rest. Alexi is their leader and especially anxious for the arrival of their seventh as he feels that she will be his love. But the prophecy revealed to them also foretold of a trap and a traitor...and now, not one but two women have appeared that may fulfill their prophecy...and Alexi and his guard must make the right choice or doom humanity to the demonic force that is the Ripper.A strange amalgam of history (the Ripper), gothic romance (G-rated, if that), and lore (Persephone and Hades)--I confess that the mixture was rough-going for me. Portents and omens and prophecies (oh, my) that were lain out without much explanation and only partially explained later in the plot. I'm sure there are many readers who will enjoy a modern version of the classic gothic paranormal...but I'm not one. I found the writing, while true to form, stilted and difficult to follow. I was actually relieved to finish and a bit disappointed with the ending even though I won't give it away. Like a true gothic, the ending isn't happy for everyone and some readers may find that a letdown. On the plus side, an albino as a heroine is unusual, even though she often (in my opinion) acted like a ninny.
Walking Dead

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Yet another series I CANNOT get enough of. "Walking Dead" is C.E. Murphy's latest in her 'Walker Paper' series about Joanne Walker, shamaness/auto mechanic/cop. Now if that combination doesn't make you want to read this series, I don't know what would!It's been a chaotic year for Joanne. Her otherworld mentor, Coyote, died in the last book. But as in real life, major events presage major life changes and Joanne has finally (well, mostly) come to terms with all the weirdness that goes with being who she is. She's even spending time learning and practicing. And that's a good thing when her Halloween party is crashed by a few ghosts looking for a body. Then she and her police partner are called to investigate a robbery/murder at the local museum. You would assume the murder part would be the worst...but that would only be true if the robbery didn't involve a relic called Matholwch's Cauldron. So now Joanne has to figure out how to find and destroy a relic while dealing with: the two love interests in her life, an insurance adjustor who's being nosy about Petite, zombies in graveyards, the Wild Hunt, and a teenager who's had a sure vision of Joanne's death! What's a shamaness to do?I enjoy this series so much. Joanne is NOT your typical heroine. She's almost six feet tall, more into muscle cars than muscle men, and is often resentful of what her birthright has given her. I guess that makes her the 'reluctant heroine' instead of the 'reluctant hero'. Yet her complaints fall just short of 'whine' territory and the combination of mystery, action, and magic is perfectly suited to my tastes.On a more serious note, this series has much less typical 'romance' and I would rate it PG which means I don't have any problems letting my sons read it...and they love it too! Another keeper for my bulging shelves and another long wait for the next chapter in Joanne's life.
Secondhand Spirits

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"Secondhand Spirits" is (hopefully) the start of a good mystery series by new-to-me author Juliet Blackwell. This story is a mixture of lore, witchcraft, mystery, and G-rated romance with a touch of history and personal growth thrown in.Lily is a powerful witch but has always been a loner. She's spent the last several years running from her past, but recently decided to settle down and chose San Francisco for its eccentric aura and people. She uses her 'gifts' sparingly and enjoys finding just the right vintage outfit for her customers at her new vintage clothing store. Not long after opening, one of her recent clothing donors is murdered and a neighborhood child disappears. Unable to ignore the situation, Lily discovers there's quite a history of disappearing children...and the death of her donor may have something to do with it. She's need all her skills to cope with her investigation while under suspicion by the local cops. Seems SHE was the last person (other than the murderer, of course) to see the old woman alive. Lily also has to deal with two new men in her life...and one demon familiar masquerading as a pig! One of her new attractions is a diehard skeptic and the other's a powerful male witch that she can't quite bring herself to trust. What's a witch to do?While the story does have a light feel, this is not a frothy, comedic mystery at all. I enjoyed the story of Lily and her evolving life as much as the mystery. As she goes from a woman trying to hide her nature to a woman not hiding...but not broadcasting either. A very interesting look at the life of a woman who's always felt (and been) DIFFERENT. The mystery was well laid out and there were plenty of suspects and clues. I didn't figure out the 'bad guy' til the end when the author 'exposed' them. Looking back, I can see the clues but they weren't 'easy'. I want to read more about Lily and her hunky guys and the author indicates the next book is titled "A Cast-Off Coven" and will be published in June 2010.
Big Bad Wolf

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I liked "Big Bad Wolf" by Christine Warren. It wasn't until I got home and began the story that I realized this was an expanded version of "Fur Factor" which was originally published as an ebook by Ellora's Cave in 2003. I enjoyed the original and I was pleased to read the expanded version which is actually the second of the 'Fantasy Fix' miniseries.Missy is the 'good' girl. She's a kindergarden teacher who likes children and dreams of the whole 'white picket fence' future. She's also about ready to give up since she's the 'good friend' type rather than the 'girlfriend' type. Of course that doesn't mean she can't still fantasize and one uber-sexy werewolf Graham is the current star of her nightly fantasies...even if he doesn't know she's alive. Until one night...Graham has plenty of women...he's actually bored with it. And he has enough to occupy his attention with his wimpy cousin trying to take over his pack so going without isn't such a big deal. Then he lays eyes...and nose...on HER. Now his mind is made up...he just needs to--convince Missy she's his mate, defeat his cousin's shenanigans, convince the pack to accept Missy, and...oh yeah, tell Missy she's pregnant after only one night! Hot and hilarious. Warren does a great job of portraying not only the poor Alpha who has to try and explain what' just instinct for him, AND poor Missy who's more used to cleaning up Play-Doh than blood. A fun couple that'll leave you fanning yourself!
Dreamfever

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Once again, I'm left in a quandry by Karen Marie Moning's latest "Dreamfever". It doesn't end on quite the same level of cliffhanger as "Faefever", but it was close enough to leave me wondering whether to scream in ecstasy or anguish. Ecstasy because this series is just so darn good...or anguish because now I'll have to wait (probably another year) for the final book of the series "Shadowfever".This series is intense and DARK. The author has said (several times) that it came to her as a whole and she has written it true to that 'whole'. So don't expect each book to have an ending...this is one story in five parts. So having said that...This may be my favorite so far (do I always say that?) in the series. The story opens exactly where "Faefever" left off--with Mac in the middle of a three/four (read the book and you'll understand) Death-By-Sex fae sandwich! And the things Barron must do to help her recover her mind...hmmm, wonder if I can find some Death-By-Sex fae? Anyway, the story starts with a bang and the action doesn't let up until the final page. I read this sucker in one sitting like gulping down a favorite milkshake (brain freeze and all).I can't possibly (and shouldn't anyway) try to recap the events of the book. If you're into this series, you need to go RIGHT THIS SECOND and get the book. If you haven't been reading this series, then you really don't care about the events, right? Suffice to say that Mac learns alot about herself, alot about Barrons (but never enough, eh?), and more than she ever wanted to know about what would happen if the 'Veil' ever fell. Because that's the one hint I WILL give. The 'Veil' falls, and all hell breaks loose.I loved the book, even with all its darkness and lack of a definite 'ending'. I will pace and mutter and bite my nails until I can find out when the final book in the series will be released. And I can say without a doubt that THIS is a series I will re-read...probably not too long after I finish the final book!!
Nothing But Scandal

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"Nothing But Scandal" is the first book by Allegra Gray. It's a charming historical with passion and a bit of intrigue and I found it a fairly quick read.Elizabeth Medford's father died recently, leaving her and the rest of the family broke. Although she's always been the dependable one, she just can't quite bring herself to willingly wed her despicable distant cousin Wetherby. He's cruel and seems to enjoy her fear and hurt. He only wants to marry her to improve his standing in society, so Elizabeth decides to ruin herself quite publicly, therefore taking herself out of his sights. But the rake she chooses just won't cooperate!Alex, Duke of Beaufort, can't get the beautiful Medford chit out of his thoughts. Was she actually serious about ruining herself? Or was her suggestion another piece of her late father's plot? Unfortunately, the more he sees of her, the more he realizes she is just the Duchess he's been looking for...if they can avoid yet more scandal.Not the most memorable historical, but for a first book I was much entertained. Allegra Gray is, for me, an author to keep an eye on as she gains experience.
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