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review 2018-02-20 21:42
Book Review of Fountain of Secrets (The Relic Seekers Book 2) by Anita Clenney
Fountain of Secrets - Anita Clenney

A relics expert with a nose for mystery is torn between her sexy billionaire boss and her hot bodyguard. Each would die to save her...and win her heart.

Kendall Morgan puts her sixth sense back to work in the second book of the Relic Seekers series, divining the history and location of ancient relics. Her boss, the gorgeous billionaire Nathan Larraby, sends her to Italy to safeguard a priceless treasure belonging to the Protettori, an ancient order of monks who guard four powerful relics that Nathan believes may be the cure for his dark curse. He also sends brooding mercenary Jake Stone to watch Kendall’s back—although her back isn’t all Jake has his eye on.

Nathan joins them, and all three tumble into a labyrinth of defenses created by the monks to protect their treasures, including the Fountain of Youth. They find themselves in England on the trail of the legendary King Arthur, who along with the Reaper, seems mysteriously connected to the Protettori. Sparks fly and bonds are tested as Kendall and Nathan’s pasts are revealed and Jake’s becomes even more mysterious. The trio must stay one step ahead of the mysterious Reaper if they want to survive.

 

Fountain of Secrets twists and turns through the shadows of myth and reality as Kendall races to uncover the Protettori’s secrets and fight her growing attraction to her boss and her bodyguard.

 

Review 4*

 

This is the second book in The Relic Seekers series. I loved it!

 

Kendall Morgan is a wonderful character. However, I sometimes wanted to shake some sense into her. She works for a billionaire as a relic finder. She has a special gift that allows her to track down, as well as know things about, the artifacts she procures for her boss. When her boss, Nathan Larraby, hires her to locate four powerful relics, little does she realise the danger she will face. Not just from Nathan's reclusive nemesis known only by the name of Reaper (as in Grim), who is also after the artifacts, but from her attraction to her co-worker, Jake Stone.

 

This is an urban fantasy romance with a twist. I started reading the story and was instantly hooked. The story is told through the view points of Kendall and Jake for the most part, but as it progressed, other characters, namely Nathan, also has his say.

 

I found myself on a roller coaster of emotion as the story unfolded. I enjoyed getting to know the characters better and we are introduced to quite a few new ones.

 

This story sees the trio thrown into danger as they uncover more secrets from the secretive Protettori, and unravel the secrets hidden in their own pasts. It continues from the end of book one. Jake and Kendall grow closer together and consummate their attraction, and Nathan finds out that the changes he is experiencing is linked to an event in his past. They also uncover a mysterious connection between the Protettori, King Arthur, and the fountain of youth. This sees them travelling from Italy to England in an attempt to find the lost fountain of youth, fabled to give anyone who drinks from it not an immortal life but a longer one. The mystery and suspense kept me reading until I'd finished the book. However, I was a little disappointed that the relationship between the three didn't develop as much as I thought it could have. There is definite chemistry between the three; Jake and Nathan not so much, but they both have feelings for Kendall. I could see the potential for a threesome, but the author seems to have shied away from this aspect. Perhaps they will get together in the third book? I guess I'll just have to read it and see. The book ends in a cliffhanger and I am now looking forward to reading The Lost Chalice as soon as possible.

 

Anita Clenney has written an intriguing paranormal romance full of action and adventure. I love her fast paced writing style and the flow is wonderful. I would definitely consider reading more books by this author in the future, and there is a high probability that I would add her to my favourite authors list too.

 

Due to the above mentioned scenes of a sexual nature (which are not explicit), as well as some violence, I do not recommend this book to young readers. However, I highly recommend this book if you love paranormal/supernatural romances/romantic suspense/urban fantasy/action/adventure or myths and/or legends genres. - Lynn Worton

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-20 00:34
The Magic Cottage by James Herbert (2017 Review)
The Magic Cottage - James Herbert

The Magic Cottage by James Herbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Top Read 2017 * * * * *

Tired of the hustle and bustle of the city of London, young couple Mike and Midge are determined to find a home that offers them a brighter - and quieter - future. Much to their delight, that perfect home comes in the form of Gramarye; a breathtaking, isolated cottage that appears too good to be true. Eager to move right in and settle down, they soon experience the enchanting wonders Gramarye has to offer, along with the sinister ugliness that lurks just beneath its surface.

(WARNING: this review contains spoilers.)

I genuinely didn't expect to discover such a hidden gem when I selected a book at random from my shelf. Having never picked up a Herbert novel before, I was soon stunned by the sheer beauty of the story, which included the subtle, yet increasingly unnerving horror element that primarily lingered in the background. I could be considered a nick-picky reader, or downright pessimistic; someone who doesn't dish out top ratings all too often because even the tiniest things can impact my enjoyment, so it's a surprise and a special occasion when I find something that ticks all the right boxes. And tick all the boxes it did, and then some. This one will stay with me for several reasons, the foremost being quite personal. I know very well the longing for the perfect home - somewhere that brings happiness and contentment. Gramarye in itself sounded like my dream cottage; it simply fascinated me with its extraordinarily close ties to nature, and the magic that enveloped its walls.

I quickly became attached to Mike and Midge, and rooted for their relationship throughout the entirety of the book. Both had their flaws; Mike could be selfish, whilst Midge infuriatingly stubborn, but I found them to be more relatable due to these faults. When they were on the verge of separation, I actually felt something; a sort of dread that perhaps a happy ending wasn't in store. That's the thing about this genre; happily-ever-afters aren't a certainty, there's just so much potential, and I couldn't stop my mind from racing. Of course, there were the side characters, and each and every one had their part to play. Val, in particular stood out, especially when she displayed such bravery and loyalty to her friends in the end.

The plot itself wasn't non-stop scares or gore, but rather a slow progression of laying down the foundations, and setting the tone, before the explosive finale. I can't say this way of storytelling works for everyone, but I found myself completely immersed, and never did I believe it to be stale. Herbert truly struck me as a writer that favoured the development of his characters, and of making the reader truly care for what's happening. I daresay it's so much better than cheap thrills that ultimately mean very little.

I really do need to mention the descriptive writing, and how it truly conveyed what Herbert wanted it to. There's a particular scene that takes place in the loft of Gramarye, involving Mike and a large number of bats. Don't get me wrong, I adore bats and have no fear of them, but I don't think I've ever been as disturbed when reading before - it almost made me feel a bit sick. Such in-depth detail that worked together extremely well, resulting in the magical moments positively feeling magical, and the eerie moments giving a clear sense of unease. This is what writing's really about.

Lastly, I should probably include that I actually cried at a certain point in this book. I'm usually not such an emotional reader, where I shed tears often, but I really loved that squirrel.

I'll never forget Rumbo.

Notable Scene:

The pink, hunched thing grew in size, frail shape glistening in the light of the torch. The tiny body oozed out, smoothly and wetly, taking form - an unsightly form - discharged from the womb like an oval blob of pink topping squeezed from an icing bag, to plop onto the mother bat's stomach, caught there and suspended by its life-chord. The mother immediately wrapped wings and pouched tail around the newborn, its head striving upwards and tongue flickering out to cleanse the sticky flesh body.

© Red Lace 2017

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/20/the-magic-cottage-by-james-herbert-2017-review
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-17 22:33
The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
The Darkest Torment (Lords of the Underworld) - Gena Showalter

The Darkest Torment by Gena Showalter
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Baden, former Keeper of Distrust, has something new living inside him, something darker than any mere demon. Bound to the King of the Underworld, he struggles to fit into his new role of assassin, however his biggest challenge comes in the form of Katarina - a dog trainer that happens to be the wife of a very troublesome man.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

Let me start by saying that this instalment's number twelve in an ongoing series (Lords of the Underworld), and at the beginning - it's been seven years since I picked up the first book - I absolutely adored Showalter's steamy and mythological world. My very first reviews are of this series, where I found the characters, the stories, and the sexual heat all new and captivating. I even gave five star ratings to a couple, The Darkest Pleasure and The Darkest Passion. I had nothing but praise.

That time has unfortunately passed.

Whilst these books will always have a place in my heart, and I'll probably, against my better judgement, continue on until they come to a final conclusion, I'm truthful to myself in that I'm not enjoying them as I once did. At this point I'm just regurgitating my complaints, and it feels more like a chore to get down my thoughts. I'll however try and be coherent about my reasoning - why do I now largely dislike what was once beloved?

- The characters tend to fuse together, becoming indistinguishable. They're too similar, often having the same mental outlook, the same behaviour and even the same dialogue. Say a bunch of them were in the same scene and it wasn't directly stated who was speaking, well, I honestly wouldn't be able to tell them apart.

- The sex has become stale and it fails to thrill me anymore. What was once downright dirty has turned tame. I don't need an excuse to prefer the eroticism that once dominated the romance.

- Plot inconsistencies are plentiful. I'm not even going to go into detail, but it's clear that Showalter made a decision to change already established storylines. Baden's past in particular completely confused me.

- The writing's declined on a monumental level. Full sentences are a thing of the past. Example:

Heart pounding, she jerked her hands away from him. “Sex...from me?”

“Yesss.” A hiss. “Only from you.”

Only. Amazing how one little word could send pleasure soaring through her, warming her. “You told me never to touch you.” Which she’d just done, she realized. My bad.


Which brings me to the dynamic of Baden and Katarina, and how she ultimately considered him an animal in need of training. When someone doesn't even think of their significant other as an actual person, then there's undoubtedly something wrong with the relationship. I liked the hellhounds, though, but that's the only thing, and it's not enough to justify a higher rating.

As for the whole William and Gillian debacle - I just didn't care.

In conclusion: I initially rated this two stars, however I believe one to be more appropriate in regards to how I feel. I'm not into this series anymore, but I feel an obligation to trudge onward. If only I could walk away.

© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/17/the-darkest-torment-by-gena-showalter
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review 2018-02-16 18:27
Am I a vampire or just super anemic?
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures - Aaron Mahnke

Only as I'm reviewing these books do I realize just how many 'scary' books I read at the end of last year (and how many more I've just now added to my TRL). That's how you know that I'm a 'whatever I feel like reading' reader/'I'm interested in this topic for the next 3 books and then I'm going to wildly change interests' reader. [A/N: I couldn't remember the term 'mood reader' to save my life when I was originally drafting this post. I chose to leave that crazy line in there because it cracks me up.] All of this is to set up today's book which is The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke. I saw an ad for this in a subway station and it wasn't the title that caught my eye but the author. I had been an avid listener of his podcast (named Lore unsurprisingly) last year and then as is my way (especially with podcasts) I had totally forgotten about it. Once I started reading the book I realized that it was essentially composed of transcripts from his podcast episodes. (Guess it's a good thing I didn't listen to all of them.) The book is broken down into categories about different creatures from folklore. Two examples: vampires and zombies. Vampires could have been created because of a disease whereby people were pale, sensitive to sunlight, and craved blood. (And then there was Vlad the Impaler who is perhaps the most well-known nightwalker. (Quick note: Nightwalker is not a cool name for a vampire like I had originally thought but I'm gonna just pretend that it is cause it's better than repeating the word vampire ad nauseum.)) Zombies were most likely inspired by victims of tuberculosis (the living dead) and the large numbers of people who were pronounced dead then subsequently rose from their graves. (This is a real thing and will perhaps explain why more people choose cremation these days.) Mahnke also discusses the history of hauntings and the popularity of the spirtualist movement among many other topics of the supernatural. He has a way of simultaneously debunking these theories while giving the impression that we should still remain open-minded. It's an interesting read especially if you haven't really delved too deep into this subject area and you want to get the rundown. 8/10

 

Monstrous Creatures is the first in a planned trilogy and I think there's also a tv show in the works. I guess I'm not the only one interested in the supernatural. ;-)

 

What's Up Next: Soonish by Kelly Weinersmith

 

What I'm Currently Reading: Gorillas in the Mist by Dian Fossey

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-02-16 01:49
ARC Review: Wolf And The Holly (Rowan Harbor Circle #2) by Sam Burns
Wolf and the Holly (The Rowan Harbor Cycle Book 2) - Sam Burns

In this 2nd book in her new series, Sam Burns gives us Jesse Hunter, brother to Wade, childhood friend to Devon, reluctant would-be Alpha wolf, who came back to Rowan Harbor five years ago after dropping out of college for reasons not entirely clear and has been sort of drifting along aimlessly ever since. He's the accountant for many of the business owners in town, still lives with his parents and doesn't want to take his mother's place on the town council.

The night before his 30th birthday, which is where the book opens, we find Jesse in the bar with friends, trying out one of Cassidy's new concoctions and generally feeling a little sorry for himself. The evening is interrupted when a rogue vampire named Sol enters the bar. He's known to both Cassidy and Max and warned immediately to not feed from humans, but register with the bloodbank. 

Jesse has a bad feeling about the new vamp - he smells wrong, and Jesse's wolfy nose is still perfectly functional, no matter how much he tries to deny the wolf inside. 

As Jesse leaves the bar and walks home, he smells blood in an alley way. Thinking the rogue vamp may have struck, he investigates and find his childhood friend Isla slumped at the end of the alley, unconscious and bleeding from a head wound. 

Thus the author has set the scene for what follows, and Jesse can no longer deny his instincts - the wolf wants free to protect his family and friends. 

This is billed as a paranormal romance, and there is a romance inside as Jesse finds his mate in Sean Anderson, who recently returned to take over the flower shop in town (a unique place, you'll see). The romance however takes a backseat as the paranormal and suspense parts of the plot unfold. 

The whole story is told from Jesse's POV. Sinister forces may be at work, and Jesse must use his wits and overcome his reluctance to figure out what is going on and how to stop it and who's behind it all. I still had questions at the end, and can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of book 3.

Most of the world-building was taken care of in the first book, and these cannot be read as standalones - don't even try. A lot of the background information provided in book 1 is needed to understand the dynamics and the events in this book, and I expect that the subsequent books will be no different. The author calls this a trilogy of trilogies so these must be read in order as well. There is also no HEA for Jesse and Sean in this book, only a HFN, which made sense to me because they have only JUST found each other. I also like very much that while there is a mating pull at work, the couples aren't automatically in love - they still need to learn about each other and forge a relationship. 

This book is alternatively edge of your seat intense and giggly fun (such as when Jesse gets zapped by Sean, as I knew he would), but there are also parts that really showcased the author's talent in creating fully fleshed-out characters, who are flawed and complex and don't always have their act together. Jesse's self-doubts, his fears, and the reason he's denied his wolf for so long - there were moments when I wanted to either shake him to pull his head out of his rear end or hug him and tell him that yes, he could become what he was meant to be. 

None of these characters are perfect, not Devon whose anger can make buildings shake, nor Wade who can be a bit grumpy, nor Isla who has been running for years for reasons explained within, nor Jesse, the wolf who left to find his place in the world, only to realize that his rightful place is home in Rowan Harbor, doing what he was born to do. 

The townsfolk have interesting dynamics. Some made me laugh and some made me think - especially since not all is as it seems at first. So well done.

At the very end, the author cleverly sets up the events to come in book 3 - I cannot wait. Is it March yet?



** I received a free copy of this book as part of a review tour, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. **

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