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In modern day England, Professor Felix Guichard is called in to identify occult symbols found on the corpse of a young girl. His investigation brings him in contact with a mysterious woman, Jackdaw Hammond, who guards a monumental secret–She’s Dead. Or she would be, were it not for magic which has artificially extended her life. But someone else knows her secret. Someone very old and very powerful, who won’t rest until they’ve taken the magic that keeps her alive….

In Krakow in 1585, Dr John Dee, the Elizabethan Alchemist and Occultist, and his assistant Edward Kelley have been summoned by the King of Poland to save the life of his niece, the infamous Countess Elisabeth Bathory. But they soon realize that the only thing worse than the Countess’ malady, is the magic that might be able to save her…
As Jackdaw and Felix race to uncover the truth about the person hunting her, it becomes clear that the answers they seek can only be found in the ancient diary of John Dee’s assistant, Edward Kelley. Together they must solve a mystery centuries in the making, or die trying.

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Two stories; one problem.  As Jackdraw and Felix race to solve their problem and save a second teen, so did Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley race as well, to save their lives whilst not falling prey to the evil magic surrounding the Countess.  thesecretsoflifeanddeath

It doesn’t take long to understand that a “borrowed timer” is essentially a vampire. And, if you’ve had your ear to the historical ground, you might have actually heard of the **Countess Elizabeth Bathory.

Jack and Felix race against not only time to protect Sadie from two sets of threats, but also struggle to help Sadie understand what she is and what she must do to stay alive-ish. Jack struggles to trust Felix; Felix seeks understanding.

Dr. Dee and Edward Kelley struggle to save the Countess, despite the releasing of the evil needed to do so, as well as protect their own lives. If the Countess dies; so too, will they lose their lives. If the Countess lives……..

I think this is the first I’ve read by this author. Initially off to a slow start, the connection between the two stories wasn’t readily apparent for a bit. For the first bit, I found myself thinking, “Get to it already!” Once it got going though, whew!

5 out of 5 stars for this one. I especially love the historical element to this book. The author shares a bit of the actual history at the conclusion, which I appreciate.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

**The Countess is known as the most prolific female serial killer. The official record stands at 80 victims, as the witness’ recorded total of 650 victims could not be authenticated. Yes, this is the lady who killed and then allegedly bathed in the girls’ virginal blood. She was eventually tried, and walled up in her castle with small slots for ventilation and food. It took her 4 years to die in this solitary confinement. Her 4 other cohorts were summarily punished: 2 burned at the stake after having their fingers ripped off by hot pincers; 1 beheaded and body burned; the last one was imprisoned for life. She was later known as the ‘Lady Dracula’.

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[youtube:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HYTC66332M%5D

Go watch the video. I’ll wait. 🙂

Ok. Everybody here?

If you’ve been reading my book reviews, you’ll probably remember that I generally like Sigmund Brouwer’s books, and don’t shy away from reviewing them.

This one, though…… I’m starting off with my rating. I’d give this book 10 stars if I could.

Go. Read. It.

This is a story, which, while fiction, was inspired by the author’s own parents’ experiences. {That hooks me every time.} It starts with a picture of a young boy’s freedom, family life, and conflict with another boy of similar age. By the end of the book, we’ve gone full circle; right to old age and deeply buried secrets.  thiefofglory

The tale of those secrets- of love lost; assault; tragic decisions made by parents; protection- all revealed- is told through the eyes of an aged man, seeing through his childhood eyes.

Compelling. Riveting, Gut wrenching. Heartbreaking.

“Thus, in solitude one night all these decades later, while still cognizant of the words I spoke, I found the strength and courage to fold my hands together and bow my head and finally ask His mercy.

I etch these last words not from a need after my death to share and dissipate the shame of what I did on the night my mother died at the internment camp, but from a desire to comfort Laura and Rachel, who led me, for the first time since that horrible night, to find the courage in that solitude and pour out my soul in prayer and weep with all the anguish I had denied myself for far too long.”

It’s been a while since a book has affected me like this. I imagine it will be a good long while until I read another one like it.

Go. Read. It.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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“As dawn approaches in New York, literary agent Isabel Reed is turning the final pages of a mysterious, anonymous manuscript, racing through explosive revelations about powerful people. In Copenhagen, veteran CIA operative Hayden Gray, determined that this sweeping story be buried, is suddenly staring down the barrel of an unexpected gun. And in Zurich, the author himself is hiding in a shadowy expat life, trying to atone for a lifetime’s worth of lies and betrayals while always looking over his shoulder.  theaccident

Over the course of one long, desperate day, these lives will collide as the book begins its dangerous march toward publication, toward saving or ruining careers and companies, placing everything at risk—and everyone in mortal peril . . .”

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This book had a slow and confusing start. I was beginning to wonder if it was a dud. But, I felt obligated to read it, so I did.

There’s a lot of back and forth in this book; meaning, a lot of jumping around from character to character and year to year/time to time. It took a while and a lot of thinking to figure out what was going on. This was a Kindle edition, so I don’t know if the hard copy had those flashbacks italicized or not. That would have helped considerably. I love a good mystery, but this one was challenging to even understand. Once I got to that point, it was exactly as I thought it would be.

One thing that kind of bothered me was the body count. I mean, it was unreasonably high. It just seemed to me that given how the dead folks were related to each other (not family, but professionally), the cops would have been all over this in real life, which means much of the plot would have been much more complicated in order to work around a police investigation. There were parts that were too convoluted to do anything but get a chuckle out of the absurdity.

I’m giving this one 3 out of 5 stars. I would consider reading more by this author, but I don’t think I would go out of my way to do it.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Joan’s life took an unexpected, tragic turn when at the tender age of 4. Since her father’s beheading, everything has been a struggle for her family.  atripleknot

Joan’s close friendship with her cousin, the future King Edward III, leaves her in a difficult position, seeing as Edward has sworn to marry her. Joan, however, is disinclined, and Edward’s family agrees. They have plans to make a strategic marriage for her, as is customary.

Joan, however, is a Plantagenet. Or, in other words; headstrong. Temperamental. Blessed with striking good looks. Trouble. Being such, she has no plans to marry either the child molester or the homosexual the royals have in mind for her.

No, Joan wants to marry for love- even if her love is below her station. To thwart the plans of the dowager queen, Joan marries in secret……..

When Joan is forced to marry the royal family’s pick, it’s a race to the king to have him determine which husband she is really married to.

 

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I have read other books that detail the life of Joan of Kent, and I find her story heart-wrenchingly sad. I can say that, without a doubt, I have absolutely *zero* desire to have been born a royal in that, or really, any other time, less modern day {and even that is questionable}. As you probably know, women were chattel; to be used as the men in their lives saw fit. Horrible.

This tale in particular, is filled with the kind of drama that modern-day soap operas can’t come close to touching.

From the beginning, this book was hard to put down. The family guide in the beginning was helpful, but the huge amount of characters was a tad confusing, even when I knew the basics of the story. Because this was based on fact, there’s not much the author could have done about that, though.

The only thing that really bothered me was the shift in perspectives. I don’t think it added much to the story, because the shift took place quite a ways in. It felt unnatural and unnecessary. I think that unless there was the perspective change from the beginning, those chapters should have been left out entirely or modified to reflect Joan’s perspective to keep a more streamlined writing.

My edition was an un-proofed e-copy, but I didn’t see any real issues.

Because of the change of perspectives being annoying, I’m going to give this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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The only thing that Cassie Robichaud has ever really wanted is Will Foret, the love of her life. But when Will discovers that Cassie is part of S.E.C.R.E.T., an underground group devoted to helping women experience their deepest sexual fantasies, Will breaks it off. Heartbroken, Cassie dries her tears and focuses on her work with helping the latest S.E.C.R.E.T. recruit, Solange Faraday. Cassie also reignites her relationship with sexy bad-boy Jesse, even though she knows he can never love her as deeply as Will did. secretrevealed

Meanwhile, beautiful, brilliant Solange, a local news anchor and divorced mom, has a great career but a wilting love life. She rekindles long-lost passions, going deeper and hotter than any other S.E.C.R.E.T. candidates before her. Can Solange find what her heart most desires? And when Will realizes he’s made a tragic mistake, will Cassie be able to forgive him?

S.E.C.R.E.T. Revealed is the explosive, sexually-charged finale to the phenomenal S.E.C.R.E.T. trilogy.

 

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You’ll have noticed that I’m using the publisher summary instead of my own. Why, you might ask? In a nutshell, this is an x-rated book. 😯

This is the final book in the trilogy. Despite that, you don’t need to read the previous titles to get the gist of what’s going on. If you enjoy this genre, you will likely find this title fits right in. I’ve been reviewing for the Blogging for Books program for almost three years, and this time is the first time I’ve been stumped on what to write. There was a lot of “OMG!”s and “I can’t believe this book came from this publisher!”s going on throughout. I’ve been done with this book for over a month, and obviously, had a tough time sitting down to write the review.

Without a whole lot of detail, I can say it’s imaginative, although I’m absolutely sure the actual premise is something that I would never get into. ……

Anyhow. Because it’s the last in a series and I wasn’t lost; the writing was definitely descriptive; overall well-written, and because the only thing that gives me pause is the subject material, I’m giving this one 4 out of 5 stars. If sexually explicit writing is not your cup of tea, pass this one by. Really. Trust me on this. Don’t even crack the cover open.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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Ivy had no intention of attending her estranged father’s funeral. None at all. Until her agent- also known as her uncle, and her father’s brother- dragged her off to it.  abrokenkindofbeautiful

Talk about uncomfortable. Summers at her father’s with Marilyn- married to her father when Ivy was conceived- were never comfortable, either. Ivy always knew her father didn’t love her; didn’t want anything to do with her.

And now here she was, back for his funeral, on the explicit request of her agent uncle, who holds her modeling future in her hands. Not only is Ivy aging- almost 25- but now it appears she can’t keep her opinions to herself, which are affecting her contracts.

Learning she’s been dropped from her cosmetics contract, Ivy escapes home, leaving the town to gossip without her. Nobody cares about her broken past- or her broken future.

As Uncle Bruce relays the latest to Marilyn, Marilyn senses an opening. She’s been contemplating what to do with her latest bridal wear line. She needs a model. Ivy needs a job. Ivy can’t help but to note the irony, since she’s nowhere close to the pure bride wearing white.

Davis Knight has secrets of his own. Now working as a church maintenance man, he was resolved to never pick up a camera again, especially not to do any fashion photography. And then Ivy comes back…..

Ivy, who he can still see as the sad and tortured young girl during their childhoods all those years ago. Ivy, who  he sees as way more than just an empty head and a pretty face.

Davis is intrigued by Ivy. Intrigued enough to pick up his camera and be the photographer for Marilyn’s bridal line photo shoot?

Can they work together and keep their secrets intact?

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For me, this story revolved around redemption: redemption for past sins; redeeming relationships. Initially, I thought I was reading an author new to me, but with a little digging, I realized I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed another of Katie Ganshert’s titles, Wildflowers from Winter.

When I got this book, I thought the premise might be too far-fetched to enjoy. Characters were so well-written, though, that the occupation is really just a job, and secondary really, to the plot. I particularly liked the Marilyn/Ivy relationship development.

Now that I know I consistently enjoy this author, I’ll make a point to be on the lookout for addition titles. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars. Don’t miss it.

I received this copy for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

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They’d done it. They’d journeyed across the ocean and made it to Jerusalem in one piece. Problem is, Thomas still doesn’t know who to trust. He’d leapt into dark caves and followed cryptic instructions. He’d felt Isabelle die, only to find her alive again. How? Why? Who’s side was she on?  bladesofvalor

And Katherine. A part of Thomas wants to trust her, but her repeated deceptions have left him wary and confused.

Katherine and Sir William are in the same boat. Has Thomas been corrupted by the Druids? Or has he accepted his place as an Immortal?  Can he pass their tests and can they all come out alive at the end?

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If you’ve been reading along, you’ll remember that I picked up this series with book 2, Fortress of Mist; which I enjoyed tremendously. Actually, I liked this one so much, I went online right away to try to find the sequel, which wasn’t out yet. I waited, and did get a chance to read and review Martyr’s Fire. While still good, this one didn’t leave me waiting impatiently for the next book in the series. Honestly, I really didn’t see the point in traveling all the way to the Holy Land.

After reading the last book in the series, I’m still not sure what the point was. I am pretty sure they could have accomplished the same objectives in the story line while forgoing a sea voyage that didn’t really result in anything substantial, less the slave trade and subsequent traitor. Could that have been accomplished somewhere else? Perhaps. Either way, there wasn’t enough of voyage happenings that could have been added to spice that section up a bit. Have there been a bit of something more during that part of the voyage, I don’t know, maybe it would have helped my interest level.

This book was ok. The ending was resolved and that was nice. This wasn’t a stand- alone title for me- I really think you need to read the others before reading this one, because you will be completely lost, and the book would likely be nonsensical to you. Because I like the series overall, I’m still giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

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