Uncharted – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #2

Pages: 221

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Former Navy SEAL Callum Ward has one motto–live life to the fullest. He saw the worst of war and lost good friends, but now he works for Treasure Hunter Security. When he’s not providing security for archeological digs and invaluable museum exhibits, or off on daring treasure hunts, he’s rock climbing, racing, or skiing. Nothing–and no one–has ever tempted him to slow down…until on an expedition into the Cambodian jungle, he has to work with one opinionated, prickly photographer, Dani Navarro. But soon their straight-forward trek to find a lost temple turns deadly, and Cal and Dani find themselves under attack from a dangerous black-market antiquities ring prepared to kill.

Dani Navarro lives for her photography. For years, it’s been her escape from her family and their frivolous lifestyle, affairs, and dramas. With her camera in hand, she travels the world, capturing other people’s moments and avoiding messy entanglements. At first, she thinks Cal Ward is no different from all the other men she’s known, but as their expedition turns into a hazardous dash through uncharted jungle, she uncovers a tough, intelligent, and sexy protector. Together, they must outwit their pursuers and find not only a lost temple…but a priceless, powerful artifact.

Sometimes, aiming for simple is what makes something greater. I think this could be the case of the Treasure Hunter Security series. I know this is just the second book of the saga, but I’m startintg to see the pattern. Quick romance full of action is nothing that will rock your world forever, but it will keep you entertain long enough. Perfect book to just relax reading.

This time we follow Declan’s brother, Callum, in a journey to Cambodia for a mission that didn’t look that difficult. He just has to make sure a group of archeologists and a photographer are safe while searching for a forgotten temple. The mentioned photographer is not other than Dani Navarro, a tough woman who doesn’t fall for Cal’s charm at first sight. What started as a promising journey, becomes a run for their lives…

I said the same thing with the first book: the little facts and curiosities about the Cambodian history and mythology are the true treasure of the story. They are simple unexpected. They are introduced during the book with an easiness worthy of any good educational article meant for the general public. A small and entertaining history lesson is not something you expect in a Romance book of this kind, so it needs to be praised properly!!

The pace is non-stop action. I think more or less the first two books are similar in size, but this second one felt shorter. Not a single stop for breathing, between meeting the characters, the journey and the constant danger they have to endure. There is not a single dull moment or uneventful passage. But even though everything goes fast, there is enough time to get to know the main characters. Maybe not enough to make them special, but just the right amount of it to make the story work.

As I said before, the characters, Cal and Dani, are OK but nothing worth mentioning beyond that. Their dynamic is pretty classic: “I’m the over confident hunk who is going to be in your bed no matter what” opposite to the “I’m the strong woman who refuses your charm like for ten seconds before investing all in“. Even though is crazy fast, I have less issues believing this romance than the one in the previous book. Don’t ask me why. They somehow feel more real. And yet is not good enough to really enjoy the sex scenes. There are not many, but it is the only part of the book that I wished were shorter. It just took room from the good parts!! And having sex in the middle of an ancient temple can’t be healthy…

The book is pure enjoyment and I will keep reading this saga if this is what I’m going to get. Simple book, but very effective.

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2019 – Book Gallery

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Best Served Cold – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: First Law World #4

Pages: 661

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Springtime in Styria. And that means war. Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

There have been nineteen years of blood. The ruthless Grand Duke Orso is locked in a vicious struggle with the squabbling League of Eight, and between them they have bled the land white. While armies march, heads roll and cities burn, behind the scenes bankers, priests and older, darker powers play a deadly game to choose who will be king.

War may be hell but for Monza Murcatto, the Snake of Talins, the most feared and famous mercenary in Duke Orso’s employ, it’s a damn good way of making money too. Her victories have made her popular – a shade too popular for her employer’s taste. Betrayed, thrown down a mountain and left for dead, Murcatto’s reward is a broken body and a burning hunger for vengeance. Whatever the cost, seven men must die.

Her allies include Styria’s least reliable drunkard, Styria’s most treacherous poisoner, a mass-murderer obsessed with numbers and a Northman who just wants to do the right thing. Her enemies number the better half of the nation. And that’s all before the most dangerous man in the world is dispatched to hunt her down and finish the job Duke Orso started…

Springtime in Styria. And that means revenge.

It’s no secret that the last book of The First Law Trilogy left me with a huge stab wound on my back. One that I enjoyed immensely. I was afraid of reading the rest of the books, because the bar was pretty high. But my fears were pointless. Best Served Cold is a superb book that has nothing to envy to the first trilogy.

The time we follow Monza Murcatto and her band of merry men and women in a killing spree to satiate her thirst for vengeance. Seven targets are between them and the peace of mind Monza is seeking. One of those targets is Duke Orso himself, so the quest is far more dangerous that anyone could expect. Lucklily for Monza, she has a lot of gold to buy “loyal” assassins.

As in the previous books, this one has upstanding characters that make that fantasy world much more appealing and enjoyable. But the character development doesn’t hinder the pace. The story is a non-stop festival of different kind of actions: dark alley assassinations, undercover missions, infiltration ala Assassins Creed, skirmishes, full battles… Anything in the field of murder you could think of it is possibly in this book. The book is divided in seven parts, one for every target. Any of those feels different from the others, which is something very positive for such a big book. Obviously, there are better and worse parts. My favourite is the one to kill Mauthis, due to the weird sense of humor displayed in those chapters. The worst (but not bad) the part for the murder of Faithful Carpi… there were too many changes and I couldn’t get over one when the next was happening.

Maybe you are wondering if this story is linked with the shocking finale of the first trilogy. It is a different story, but the “new” political context is mentioned more than once. And Sulfur makes a lot of cameos along the story to let the reader know that the Big Bad Baldy is still out there being the Master Puppeteer I love to hate. The Eater made me so nervous every time he was in a scene. You never know when the kicks to the gut and groin are going to start with this writer… Because I have learned that with Joe Abercrombie is not a matter of IF… it’s a matter of WHEN those kicks will start.

And talking about guts… Man, the other books were bloody, but this one has increased the gore to a new level. It is mostly contained with one character, though: the mysterious Shenkt. A powerful something that is creepily strong and has no problem in using brute force in the most twisted and bloody way you can imagine. I’m talking about fingers drilling skulls or heartbreaking hand-to-hand combat… He is SO scary! But one of the best characters of the book. There are not many pages with him, but all of them are pure gold and full of “I was not expecting that” moments.

The catalog of interesting characters in this book is unending. All the main ones have something special to remember them by. We reconnect with Shivers, the Northman who wanted to claimed vengeance over Logen’s corpse but who changed his mind to pursuit a better life. He ends up in Styria, full of hope and good intentions, but second chances are hard to come by. Monza recruits him for her quest and the journey makes him a different man. His plot line is by far the saddest one. As a reader I felt hopeless and helpless with the events unraveling before me that transform Shivers into a bitter man. I am actually scared of him now…

The Master Poisoner Morveer and his sidekick Day are a joy for the reader. I love the way he talks, how he considers himself superior to everyone else. I know he is a perturbed individual that I should ignore, but the way he sees the world through the “blindfold” he wears is one of the most special characteristics of the story. On the other hand, Day was underused and underdeveloped. I would love to have read more about her. I have the feeling there is much more about her that what we learn.

Other character that should have had more time is Friendly. He is so weird and interesting. We barely get to know any of the background that made him behave the way he does. He may be cold, but his honesty makes him a beacon of light in a world plagued with too much smoke and too many mirrors. I hope he comes back in any of the following books to get to know him better.

We also reconnect with Vitari, but her part is not very important except for a revelation that would break your jaw. My brain is still boiling with all the implications… And we also have a lot more of Nicomo Cosca. In this book he shines with all his splendor and he has become one of my favourite characters in this saga. Even though I’m not sure if we can trust him, but I guess that’s the main trait of the character…

Monza… At first I was 100% pro-vengeance, so I was Team Monza all the way. But during the journey we get to know her quite a lot and I wouldn’t like to consider her my friend even if that could cost me my life (so dramatic!!). She is too self-centered. First me, then me and last… ME!! She sacrifices friendships and loyalties with an unsettling easiness and when we discover the truth about Benna… I wasn’t sure if I should support Monza or Orso. I need good guys and bad guys, but I should have learned by now that I’m not getting that with these books. The only good thing about Monza is that she is going to be a thorn in Bayaz’s mighty ass, so she is still on my “OK” book.

An awesome fest full of great moments. I have already bought The Heroes to keep with this saga sooner or later, because this is getting better and better.

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2019 – Book Gallery

 

2 Fuzzy, 2 Furious – Shannon Hale & Dean Hale

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Authors: Shannon Hale & Dean Hale
Series: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl novels #2

Pages: 323

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Squirrel Girl is BACK in an all-new adventure and things are about to get . . . hairy. Thanks to Squirrel Girl, Ana Sofia, and the Squirrel Scouts, the crime rate in New Jersey is at an all time low. It makes for safer streets but also bored-er squirrels. That’s why it’s super exciting when Doreen’s school announces a new mall is being built right next to their town. Mmmm . . . Doreen can smell the soft pretzels now. The corporation building mall has also announced that there will be a competition to choose the mall’s mascot. Because malls need mascots?Anyway, Doreen’s school will be voting for a cat and the neighboring school will be voting for a dog. As the relationship starts to unravel between the two towns, Squirrel Girl and her friends suspect something more sinister is at work. With the help of old friends like Ana Sofia, Tippy Toe, and The Mighty Thor as well as some surprising new ones, Squirrel Girl will squash a villainous plot and save everyone.The unbeatable Squirrel Girl is ready for more nuts AND more butts! Are you?

It happened again. I tried to follow a reading schedule that would allow me to read books and comics and I was able to stick to it for like 6 months before getting behind on comics. Almost a year has passed without reading one. I want to make some time for them, but I can’t see how. Between that and that my reading device died a true death, I guess I will have to accept that I’m not reading comics anytime soon. But books with Marvel superheroes? I have a clear schedule for them!

In this second book we get to follow Squirrel Girl adventures once more (otherwise the title and the cover would have been very misleading…). All the neighbours of her town are very excited about the new mall. The public relationships guy is doing a superb job at getting the town engaged for the opening. The students of two schools are being told to do a campaign for the mall mascot. The team that wins will be gifted with a pizza party. Doreen’s school is Team Cat and, with a superhero in their midst, it seem pretty unfair for the other school. But Team Dog is also quite strong and a weird animosity between them starts to brew. No wonder there is something fishy going on, the mall is run by one of the most villainous organizations of the Marvel Universe…

I said it before and I will say it again: The Unbeatable Squireel Girl rocks! One of the best superheroes out there with an amazing comic run written by Ryan North. The first novel based on that character was nice, but I felt that it was trying too hard to capture the epicness of the comics. This second book is much better. The more fluent style tells me that the authors are more comfortable with the character and with what they want to tell. The story is much better, the pace is much more lifely, the action is constant and the sense of humor is above awesome. It’s not perfect, but it is way closer to perfection than the first book.

Doreen is well known in the Marvel Universe for her epic victories against some of the biggest baddies from the comics. This book drinks from that idea and pairs her against a covert opeartion of Hydra. One of the worst organizations that has ever existed. Ask Captain America if you don’t believe me! A small town obviously has a small Hydra branch, but evil enough to create havoc that only Squirrel Girl and his army can solve. The lovely craziness of the story didn’t remind me of Ryan North’s comicbooks. It reminded me very strongly of G. Willow’s style in the Ms. Marvel comics. In case you are wondering, no, that is not a bad thing. Au contraire mon ami (I’m feeling my Gambit side, today! :P). It is the perfect approach for a book meant for a younger audience.

The story is a lot of fun, but the gold mine of this book rests in those chapters with group chats and forum posts. They are so, so… which word is greater than awesome? Nuts? I laughed a lot with those. Marvel humor at its best. The exchanges between some of the most popular characters (in both sides of the law) are legendary. I have had such a good time with those that I wish there were more. I would devour a whole book with just much more of that! That is the kind of humor my Marvel fan heart cherishes. The kind of humor thast is actually meant to be read by fans like me. Weirdly though, most adult fans would never read this book and most kids who read it won’t understand what they are being told in those chapters. In order to achive full enjoyment of the book, you need a rather deep knowledge of the Marvel Universe.

What it doesn’t work as smoothly as in the comics are the footnotes. Ryan uses the blank spaces of almost every page to write some comment or joke. This book tries to replicate the same. I bet in a printed edition they must look nice, but in my Kindle edition with a pretty old device (it has a complete keyboard!) reading the footnotes becomes tiresome pretty quickly. Navigating through them was an effort not worthy of my time.

It seems that there are zero plans for a third book, which is sad. I need to check more books based on Marvel characters to see if there is something interesting out there. Or even better, I should try harder to clear time for reading comics again.

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2019 – Book Gallery

 

Final Day – Megan Erickson

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Author: Megan Erickson
Series: Wired & Dangerous #2.5
Pages: 114

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When his boyfriend is murdered, Erick Lee makes it his life’s mission to hunt down the killer. The question is, how far is he willing to go to catch him?

Erick has been asked to team up by a dangerously captivating hitman who has reasons of his own to want this man dead. But can he trust another killer? And do two wrongs ever make a right?

Everett “Tarr” Hawk isn’t just some lethal hitman. He has his own code of honor. With Erick and Tarr facing a common enemy, it’s only by combining forces that they’ll survive. But Tarr’s code doesn’t include a fierce attraction for someone he’s sworn to defend with his life. Because in Tarr’s world, every night presents a new danger . . . and listening to his own heart could get them both killed.

I was looking forward to read this book. Erick is, in my opinion, the most enjoyable character of this peculiar group of hackers who barely hack. I was a bit sad to learn that he was not getting a full book, just a short novella. It was good, but I still have room for seconds… or thirds…

As I said, this short book follows the misadventures of Erick, Wren’s brother from the first book. After being saved by the mercenary Tarr, the hacker is way too much interested about the killer for hire. They do not like each other very much, but they have to join forces in order to save Tarr’s family.

One of the main reasons I was expecting this book eagerly was the fact that Erick is a lot of fun. He is witty, nerdy and good humored; which are the perfect ingredients for a nice round of banter. It is even better when the one recieving the lippy treatment is a serious, taciturn guy. The dialogs between Tarr and Erick during the first chapters are pure gold and the main reason of the high mark I have granted to the story. Those made me smile from ear to ear and that means the world to me when I’m reading.

The only good consequence of being such a short book is that it is action packed. There is almost no rest for the characters. Their constant runnig for their lives grants the book with a lively pace that is not very common in the Romance genre. Sometimes, in order to achieve a good romance, the author has to sacrifce the action or the other way around. In this case, both sides of the coin get their time in a very natural way.

But even though everything is great, the length of the book left me begging for more. The couple needed more time to blossom. The story needed more time to move the pieces together. And the ending… well, it’s not bad. Just a bit uneventful. They were in a really bad situation in one paragraph and in the following one everything is peachy again. Too easy.

The saga is far from over and I have a terrible feeling that it has been dropped. Not only because it is pretty weird that one of the most important characters gets such a short book. It’s also because the paperback version was cancelled and no new titles for the saga has been announced. Not good omens in the Romance world…

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2019 – Book Gallery

Defective – Mel Teshco

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Author: Mel Teshco
Series: The Virgin Hunt Games #1
Release day:  March 18th 2019
Pages: 274

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Melody Simmons desperately needs to fill her bank accounts with credits that could help her family climb out of near poverty. And in the Virgin Hunt Games, that means enticing as many hunters as possible to bed her. The downside? Billions of viewers from all parts of the galaxy would be watching her fall from virtue with avid interest.

Alien Damon Banscott despises everything about the Virgin Hunt Games. Except the fact he can now legally destroy his enemy in the games. He is in this only for revenge. Then Damon sees one of the beautiful hunted and, for a moment, his heart stops beating. He’ll fight to the death before allowing another hunter to touch and deflower Melody.

But while the hunters get more credits by pleasing their captive mate sexually, the hunted women received more by finding their pleasure with any of the hunters who weren’t their assigned mate.

The hunt is on…

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

You won’t find me reading Erotica too often, but when I saw the cover of this book and read the interesting blurb; I knew I had to request an ARC in NetGalley. I was lucky enough to be chosen as a reviewer. So, first of all, thanks for the chance given.

In this book we follow Melody, a woman from Earth who needs money desperately. She has never been with a man intimately, so being picked as one of the virgins for the game wasn’t so far-fetched. Her suitor is not other than Damon, a soldier from an alien planet who is only taking part on the game to get his revenge against another of the participants. Is that particular setting the best place for starting a relationship? It seems, it could be…

It’s pretty obvious from almost the beginning that the author has translated the Hunger Games into an adult version in space where sex and violence are the main course. Which is nice if you take it as it is. Do not commit my mistake of overthinking the Game, because there are a bunch of holes that could be hard to fill. That wasn’t the best metaphor in the context of the book… What I want to say is that there are several rules or character behaviours that don’t make much sense. First of all: why virgins? It looks like a hard constraint for such little reward. Second: pretty unbalanaced for the participants. If you are male, your boost credit reward comes from catching their chosen hunted and just have their way sexually. Females must hide from their chosen hunter and seduce another one, which seems much harder (the hunters are not paper pushers…). And lastly: if most of them are taking part for the money, why don’t strategize to maximize the income through bouts of sex? Reading the book I thought most of them were a bunch of idiots who weren’t listening when the rules were stated. As I said, it’s better if you don’t think too much about the game and just read the book. That would enhance your enjoyment of the book.

When I read the blurb, my impression was that every participant was a willing one. But pretty soon the reader discovers that most of the women have been blackmailed into taking part. That adds a very uncomformatble feeling while reading. What I thought was going to be consent uninhibited sex was at risk of becoming plane and simple raping. That would have ruined the book without any hope of recovery. Thankfully, such kind of actions are not present. Sometimes they are hinted, but never narrated. And yet, the sex scenes are not enjoyable. There are several of them, but they lack spice (even though that would mean much more credits…) and I soon lost my interest in them. Luckily, there is also a heavy presence of action scenes that make up for the uneventful sexual encounters and grant the book a perfect pace.

I don’t have much to say about the characters. They fill their roles, but nothing else. I like Melody much more than Damon. He is sometimes too “macho male“. His annoying protective instincts and the way he avoids adult conversations overpowering Melody through sex don’t make him a good character on my book. It doesn’t help that we don’t get to know many of his qualities. The only one that is mentioned over and over again is the size of his manhood. Actually, that is probably the only thing that is described about the hunters. It’s not that I can’t handle the dirty talk… it’s more like, so what? They barely use it… By the way, the epilogue is pretty unbelievable (too fast!!) and make this couple much more likely to fail miserably. It’s the classic ending of a Romance book and I wasn’t expecting it in an Erotica book…

So, in few words: nice book to kill time. Fast pace and easy to read. Ideal for lazy days. If you ask more of it, you will de disappointed.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Last Argument of Kings – Joe Abercrombie

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Author: Joe Abercrombie
Series: The First Law #3

Pages: 670

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The end is coming. Logen Ninefingers might only have one more fight in him but it’s going to be a big one. Battle rages across the North, the King of the Northmen still stands firm, and there’s only one man who can stop him. His oldest friend, and his oldest enemy. It’s past time for the Bloody-Nine to come home.

With too many masters and too little time, Superior Glokta is fighting a different kind of war. A secret struggle in which no one is safe, and no one can be trusted. His days with a sword are far behind him. It’s a good thing blackmail, threats and torture still work well enough.

Jezal dan Luthar has decided that winning glory is far too painful, and turned his back on soldiering for a simple life with the woman he loves. But love can be painful too, and glory has a nasty habit of creeping up on a man when he least expects it.

While the King of the Union lies on his deathbead, the peasants revolt and the nobles scramble to steal his crown. No one believes that the shadow of war is falling across the very heart of the Union. The First of the Magi has a plan to save the world, as he always does. But there are risks. There is no risk more terrible, after all, than to break the First Law…

Last book of the trilogy of The First Law, which I have taken my sweet time to read it and enjoy it. Thankfully, the author has written much more books based on that world. And, after the earth-shattering ending of this one, they are more than needed. I know they don’t follow the same story per se, but I’m hoping for enough winks and nods to put my mind at rest. Fingers crossed! By the way, this review will have heavy spoilers, because I can’t truly write about my feelings without them.

After the disappointment of ending their epic quest empty handed, the group go back home. Bayaz, Quai, Logen, Jezal, Ferro and Longfoot go to the capital of the Union and, from there, they say their goodbyes. Logen travels to the North to meet their friends and help them in the fight against Bethod. The rest stay in Adua with different objectives in mind. Meanwhile, the Gurkish Empire decides it has been in the background of the plot for far too long…

This last book is divided in two big chunks: the war against Bethod and the North and the war against the Gurkish Empire in the capital of the Union. I have enjoyed the later much more than the first one, but that doesn’t mean the brutish Northmen lack the abilty of hooking me up. I was just a bit sad while reading it. In the previous book, Logen blossomed as a character. I really wanted for him to be happy and I thought his going back home could be a first step. I was wrong. Very, very wrong. Ninefingers is miserable among his people. I wanted to take him back to Adua and Ferro and let him be happy, but it seems his honor demanded to see the war against Bethod handled. It’s pretty hard to read how his so-called friends turn on him little by little. Even the congratulations after the much needed victory feel empty (which is totally on point taking into account the very final chapter of the book…). The best moments of the plot in the North are those with the focus on West. The soldier shows a lot of cunning and leadership skills that I dind’t know he was capable of. My opinion of this character has improved greatly since the first book.

But the mamia is mostly in the capital of the Union. There stay most of the original team fulfilling diverse roles. Glokta is balancing his many masters in order toi keep his head. Jezal is being catapulted to the top of the noble life thanks to Bayaz. Ferro is Ferro, so she is looking for new ways to get her revenge on the Gurkish Empire. And Bayaz… I will talk about him later (do NOT expect nice words). Jezal is the subject of one of the most shocking and unexpected moments of the book. It made me smile from ear to ear. I was salivating thinking about the reaction of Glokta, so prone to jelousy when the former Captain is involved. Sadly, there is not much time to enjoy the new era due to the massive Gurkish armada attacking the Union. Unexpected allies and returns just in time are two of the main ingredients that save (barely) the situation…

The most important role in the events that are into play during the battle is the one conducted by Bayaz. He could be mistaken as the hero who stopped the dreadful Eaters of the Gurkish Empire. by far the most formidable adversaries. But it is also during the first days after the victory that all pretenses are dropped. Bayaz is bad news. Very bad news. He is a liar, a murderer, a tyrant, a master manipulator. Everything that happens was to enhance his glory, no matter if the puny mortals that surround him are oblitarated. He put all the pieces together to create and solve the issue, as if it were a simple game for him. The cruelty, the coldness, the emotional impact that he provokes in every character… I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I was fuming with pure anger. The real bad guy of the books was walking free… I was so invested in the story that I truly felt his traitorous backstabbing. I hate him with a passion. I can’t think of another character in any other book that I would like to see suffer as much as Bayaz deserves.

If Bayaz getting away with his crimes wasn’t bad enough, he leaves his “friends” in a sorry state. Ferro has been touched by the Other Side. She is hearing voices, but the First of the Magi doesn’t care at all. He has used her as a kleenex. Use once and drop it. Yulwei is trapped or dead in the Tower, after being left there by his supposed friend. Another one who has outlived his usefulness. West… man… that one is hard. After all he has done to get the North back and save the capital, he is affected by a weird illness that has transformed him in little more than a corpse. A disease released by Bayaz experiments. And it wasn’t an accident. He knew about it and he didn”t care. Even wrose, I bet he could do something to cure it… but he just shrugs and turns around. He despises everyone who is not Bayaz. Disgusting fella… Jezal’s situation is not better. He has been placed as King thanks to the lies of Bayaz, but the Magi expect full obedience. When he doesn’t agree with his methods, Bayaz uses his power to submit Jezal thorugh pain in a really cruel exchange that left me speechless and trembling. And I could keep going with Glokta, Logen and more.

I must congratulate the author on the mastery of the plot. He creates a fully character driven story through the first two books to make the reader at home with them. To make the reader feel like part of the group. Like a friuend to them if you get into books as much as I do. And then he drops the bomb and the reader is too close to avoid collateral damage. I have had a knot in my throat while writing this review. I don’t know when I will recover. I just wish that we will see Bayaz fail in the future books sooner or later. I am like Ferro now. Only driven by vengeance.

Well played, Mr Abercrombie. Well played. These books are going to be amongst the most special ones I have ever read.

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2019 – Book Gallery

Undiscovered – Anna Hackett

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Author: Anna Hackett
Series: Treasure Hunter Security #1

Pages: 249

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Finding undiscovered treasures is always daring, dangerous, and deadly. Perfect for the men of Treasure Hunter Security. Former Navy SEAL Declan Ward is haunted by the demons of his past and throws everything he has into his security business–Treasure Hunter Security. Dangerous archeological digs – no problem. Daring expeditions – sure thing. Museum security for invaluable exhibits – easy. But on a simple dig in the Egyptian desert, he collides with a stubborn, smart archeologist, Dr. Layne Rush, and together they get swept into a deadly treasure hunt for a mythical lost oasis. When an evil from his past reappears, Declan vows to do anything to protect Layne.

Dr. Layne Rush is dedicated to building a successful career–a promise to the parents she lost far too young. But when her dig is plagued by strange accidents, targeted by a lethal black market antiquities ring, and artifacts are stolen, she is forced to turn to Treasure Hunter Security, and to the tough, sexy, and too-used-to-giving-orders Declan. Soon her organized dig morphs into a wild treasure hunt across the desert dunes. Danger is hunting them every step of the way, and Layne and Declan must find a way to work together…to not only find the treasure but to survive.

Anna Hackett has been on my radar for quite a long time, but there were always some other book that took precedence and her work was being constantly pushed to the lowest positions of my TBR list. One of the main reasons was that I thought her books were most of them about Sci-Fi Romance, a genre I don’t pick very often. But, not so long ago I discovered that she has a saga about treasure hunters. I read the blurb and I knew I had to get my hands on them. Yes, this book has been my particular “Undsicovered”.

This books tells the story of Dr. Layne Rush, an archeologist who is digging a new discovery in Egypt. Sadly, the dig site is hit by some mercenaries and several of the relics are stolen. The University she works for hires Treasure Hunter Security to take care of the security (the company name says it all). It’s a company formed mostly by former soldiers (young, tall, muscular… you know, the whole romance package) and the owner, Declan, is the one that takes charge of the security of Layne’s work. She is not happy at first, but some flirting and life or death situations make her a believer…

I love the book as a whole. It’s more or less what the author promises and then some: lots of action and fun exchanges. There is always something hapenning in the book, which is its main strength to keep the reader entertained. When I saw the length of the book, I was afraid that the action and adventure parts would be shortened to leave more room for the romance; but it’s actually the opposite. There are hand-to-hand fights, pursuits through the desert, riddle solving and treasure hunting in general. No rest means more fun.

But it’s not just mindless action and eye candiness galore. My greatest surprise with this book were the several facts the author teaches us about Zerzura and Egyptian mythology in general. I was an utter newbie in the lost oasis legend and this book has made me check the Internet to read more about Zerzura and the expeditions to find it. A book that makes me learn something will always be a special book on my shelf. I wasn’t expecting it at all (it didn’t look like the book to enhance my Trivial Pursuits skills), so that has been a huge help to make me enjoy the story. Don’t get me wrong, without the beginner class about Zerzura, the book would still have been a really fun ride.

The characters are nothing out of the ordinary, but they fulfill their roles quite nicely, even though there are certains details that felt more unnatural than others. Layne is presented to us as a very independent woman who takes no bullshit and is capable of defending herself at any moment. At least that must be true when Declan is not around. When the former soldier is on the scene, Layne is usually reduced to a damsel in distress, so the leader of Treasure Hunter Security can polish more often his White Knight armor. I would never hate on that too strongly, otherwise I would never read Romance books, but it is something that has always rub me the wrong way. They are fun together, so I can easily forgive that misstep.

The romance itself is the weakest link of the story. At first is being brewed very slowly, as I like it. But when Hell is broken loose, the relationship speeds up so drastically that I felt dizzy. We go from a passionate kiss to “I love you” in barely a couple of chapters. I’m having a hard time to believe they have developed such strong feelings in such a short time. They barely know each other!! I know that under duress stuff is intensified, but it was too much too soon. And don’t make me start about the places they pick to keep themelves warm in a very intimate way (or to have sex, if you are not feeling poetic today). Naked time in those waters doesn’t seem a wise decision. You never know what kind of leeches or bacteria could be on those undiscovered places… I guess I’m not the adventurous type…

Very happy for having decided to start this saga. If this is what I’m going to get with the rest of it, I’m going to be a very pleased reader this year!

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