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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 SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-13 13:13
The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
The Devoured - Curtis M. Lawson,Jason Sprenger

The Devoured by Curtis M. Lawson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Desperately on the trail of his missing son, an old Confederate solider will stop at nothing to reunite the remnants of his family, even if he has to slay every trace of Utgard filth along the way. Finding unexpected companionship in a young orphan, the gunslinger closes in on the god responsible - Thurs, he who hails beyond the stars.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Curtis M. Lawson for giving me the opportunity.

If I wasn't so pessimistic about book to movie adaptations, I'd say this would make a brilliant film - in fact, I imagined it as such; Lawson's stunning use of words did wonders to create vivid imagery inside my head. I found myself thoroughly impressed by the intelligent, highly attractive prose, and by how each scene seamlessly came together to tell an exciting yet ultimately tragic tale. Despite being a short novel of less than two hundred pages, it expressed itself with a lot more substance than other full-length books I've read. A part of me wishes it was longer, but I realise it may have lessened the overall impact.

The character of the "old man" was probably the pinnacle; he was so utterly badass, and believe me when I say I don't use that term lightly. Smart, skilled, and completely unapologetic about his paternal devotion - he's someone I won't forget anytime soon. I'm not saying he was a perfect man, far from it, but he owned every scene he was in. He was the sort of being that would draw an entire room to his entrance, and not just because of his (suspiciously) large size. Emmett, however, whilst starting out with good intentions, truly lost his way as he succumbed to the unsavoury power of Utgard. I could relate with him in a way, in that I'm well aware of the pain of watching a parent slowly fade away. Nothing compares to that feeling of hopelessness, and if given the same opportunity, I'd have likely welcomed the same solution.

Moving on from that painfully honest bit of information.

As with all books I read, I tend to look deeper into things; for meaning in aspects that are probably meaningless. Both Emmett and his father shared a particular trait of being tall, bulky and at times, questionably strong. The fact that Utgard's a stronghold of giants, I was left contemplating a connection. Could it be, that the old man's ancestry is intermingled with otherworldly blood? If anything, at least, I can have my theories, incorrect and insignificant as they may be!

I can't say the Old Western theme has ever appealed to me, but I now feel inclined to seek out similar tales. Of course, few, if any, are going to have such a factual and accurate setting seeped in unforgiving folklore. The historic element of the American Civil War worked wonderfully with the touch of Norse and Native American mythology, and I was impressed with the knowledge poured into it. Either Lawson did his homework, or he simply knows his stuff. I also loved the brutality of the surrounding world- cannibals and witches, oh my! Seriously, sometimes witchcraft should be punishing, rather than glamorous.

In conclusion: The unnamed hero has been one of the coolest characters I've ever had the pleasure to read about. Whilst including both history and the supernatural, Lawson makes a short novel seem like an epic best-seller.

Notable Scene:

"Thought - critical, logical thought - that's what separates a man from an animal. That's what keeps us progressing further and further. That ability to think our way around any and every problem is why the Devourers fear us."

"And what about memory?" Hank asked.

"Memory is what keeps us strong in the toughest times, and it's what prevents us from becoming monsters when our hands are forced to kill. It's the memories of love and happiness that let us come home from the dark places where the world sometimes takes us. It's memory that lets a man find the strength to fight the gods themselves for what's right."


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/13/the-devoured-by-curtis-m-lawson
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review 2018-02-08 04:51
Eternal Samurai by B.D. Heywood
Eternal Samurai - B.D. Heywood

I didn't like Koji, I couldn't connect with Tatsu whose annoying overuse of Japanese made him even less appealing to me, I did not understand Arisada's love for a traitor and a cheater, I couldn't figure out why some of the characters were in the book to begin with, even less so why they deserved their own POV. Editing was poor. As in you're/your poor. Half imaginary star (since GR doesn't deal in halves) to make it up to 2 is for the truly evil villain. I liked him.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2018-02-03 02:32
Morium by S.J. Hermann
Morium - Stephanie Needleson,Hermann S. Füeßl

Morium by S.J. Hermann
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Whilst walking home one night, Alexandria and Nathan catch sight of something crashing to earth - some form of rock. Letting their curiosity get the better of them, they decide to seek out the object, but little do they know their lives will forever be changed. Gaining supernatural abilities, they find themselves having the power to rise up against the anguish that dominates their daily life.

(WARNING: This review contains spoilers.)

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to S.J. Hermann for giving me the opportunity.

Having been bullied in school, this book instantly struck a chord with me. The sad thing is, everyone's bullied in one form or another during those supposed "best days of your life" - a term I constantly heard as a child. I'm a firm believer that whilst school is necessary, it's a toxic environment through and through. There will always be a pecking order, and those at the bottom will undoubtedly suffer. Hermann did a good job in depicting the misery in which Lexi and Nathan had to endure. The descriptive writing, despite containing a few errors, successfully communicated their array of emotions. I genuinely felt for them, especially Lexi and Stacy, who were the most likeable.

At first I did feel sorry for Nathan, and his downward spiral toward villainy - he experienced power for the first time in his life, something able to stop his daily torment. The temptation was just too great, the pull too strong. It makes sense that he'd direct his anger toward those who wronged him, or those that prey upon the weak, but my pity for him evaporated when his actions became too indefensible. This is where I'm going to address the elephant in the room, but first let me state that I've no issue with adult themes. Many of the books I read delve into the uncomfortable and extreme, so the subject matter itself isn't why I'm bringing this up. You see, being labelled as "young adult", I admittedly found the rape and sexual tones to be a bit much. There's no question that it was sexual abuse; not only did Nathan feel up both Lexi and Stacy against their wishes via mind control, he also used his mind to impose his will upon a teacher, his intention to lose his virginity to her right there in a classroom.

I've read other reviews, and none have mentioned this aspect. Hell, someone complained about the swearing and self-harm, which absolutely baffled me, when there's literal murder and rape. The tone of the book was thus exceedingly dark, I'd even say too dark for younger readers. But I get it, I do - Nathan was a teenager, having never explored his sexuality, and suddenly he became intoxicated with otherworldly power. It's not far-fetched to believe a teenager would do horrid things with that sort of ability, but it sets the book, as a whole, to a more mature level. I suppose this relates to the name of the book itself; "Morium" in Latin meaning "character" and "morals". Hermann creates two similar people with the same adversities, yet they go down very different paths.

Moving on from that main critique of mine, the plot itself kept a decent pace, yet at times I truthfully felt a little bored, but being a relatively short book, it was easy enough to get through and reach the parts that piqued my interest. "The Gift" certainly did hold my attention, specifically the voices in Nathan's head.

It was very obvious that it would have a sequel, possibly even a third book following, as nothing at all was concluded in the end. I was left wanting to read more, to find out what happens to Lexi, her father Robert, Stacy and even Nathan. I always appreciate when an author pulls me in, in such a way that I'll gladly carry on with the story after the initial instalment.

In conclusion - My interest wandered off at some points, but when it got down to it, I enjoyed it. It's however my opinion that the themes included are more adult than young adult.

Notable Scene:

As the dust settled over the ground, a streak of energy made its way to every root buried under the burnt soil. From the root hairs, to the secondary roots, the energy travelled through the epidermis, flowing through the xylem and phloem, making its way up the stems and filtering into the leaves. The cell structure of the plants and vegetation altered as the mysterious energy invaded each of the plant's individual cells. It was photosynthesis on steroids and the exchange took place within seconds.
Energy flowed through each wilted plant, bringing them back to life, stronger and healthier than ever. The once decimated twenty-five-square-foot area where the objects had fallen was now teeming with scores of new life.


© Red Lace 2018

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Source: redlace.reviews/2018/02/03/morium-by-s-j-hermann
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review 2018-01-22 01:49
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson
A Taste of Honey - Kai Ashante Wilson

4.5 stars.

Recommended.

While the book was stunning, even without true romance, I can't give it five stars.

The last chapter ruined it for me. Not because how it ended but the way it ended. While I cheered for the MCs, I could not connect with that reality.

Don't want to say anything else for the fear of spoilers, I already gave away too much.

@Monica - thank you, my friend, for the amazing rec and gift :) *hugs*

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