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review 2017-12-11 22:36
Deadly Sting / Jennifer Estep
Deadly Sting - Jennifer Estep

Most people shy away from blood, but for an assassin like me— Gin Blanco, aka the Spider—it’s just part of the job. Still, it would be nice to get a night off, especially when I’m attending the biggest gala event of the summer at Briartop, Ashland’s fanciest art museum. But it’s just not meant to be. For this exhibition of my late nemesis’s priceless possessions is not only the place to be seen, but the place to be robbed and taken hostage at gunpoint as well. No sooner did I get my champagne than a bunch of the unluckiest thieves ever burst into the museum and started looting the place.

Unlucky why? Because I brought along a couple of knives in addition to my killer dress. Add these to my Ice and Stone magic, and nothing makes me happier than showing the bad guys why red really is my color.

 

I couldn’t resist another installment of Elemental Assassin—I need a regular supply of urban fantasy if I’m to be happy these days!

Estep continues to provide action-filled plots, consistent with the world of Ashland that she has created for our reading pleasure. Nevertheless, it’s the action between Gin and Owen that rivets the attention in book 8, as we wonder if these two star-crossed lovers will find their way back together again.

This time around, we see Gin doing the patient Griselda routine, while Owen tries to sort himself out. She’s not happy about it, particularly as it seems that Owen and his sister Eva seem to continually need her assistance to get out or stay out of the clutches of Ashland’s underworld. Owen is willing to accept the assistance, but not necessarily Gin.

Gin actually gets some self-reflection time in this book—time to realize that she does make very pragmatic, unromantic decisions mostly and that this may be hard for those closest to her to live with. But she certainly proves that she is a strong, independent woman—Owen may be “needing some space,” but she continues to run her restaurant, take courses, spend time with her friends, and defend herself from all the opportunistic villains who want to take her down!

With her sister Bria and her pals, Jo-Jo and Sophia Deveraux and Roslyn Phillips, we are definitely getting into Bechdel test territory. Certainly they do discuss the men in their lives, but plenty more besides that. That’s what I like to see—a woman realistically surrounded by supportive women friends who are there to listen, support, and help when they can! More of this, please, Ms. Estep.

P.S. All the Southern cooking got to me--I ended up making Cornmeal Cheese muffins half way through the book so that I could concentrate on reading again!

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review 2017-12-11 22:33
Magic's Promise / Mercedes Lackey
Magic's Promise - Mercedes Lackey

The wild magic is taking its toll on the land, and even Vanyel, the most powerful Herald-Mage to ever walk the world, is almost at the end of his strength. But when his Companion, Yfandes, receives a call for help from neighboring Lineas, both Herald-Mage and Companion are drawn into a holocaust of dark magic that could be the end of them both.

 

How wonderful to have a more mature and thoughtful Vanyel to narrate the second volume of this series. Not there is no angst, but it is dealt with in a much more adult way.

A depleted & exhausted Vanyel returns from the battle front, only to discover that his family insist on his presence at home—not the most restful place for the young man. His father is having difficulty accepting Vanyel’s sexual orientation and his mother frankly refuses to believe him, proceeding to push any and every attractive young woman at him. If that wasn’t enough, he has to deal with his former master-at-arms and the local priest, both of whom made his younger life miserable.

However, Vanyel is now a hero, his exploits sung about by the bards, and he & his companion, Yfandes, are called to rescue another young man & Companion during their visit. Demonstrating his magic, skill, bravery, and good judgement, Vanyel is able to start the healing journey for his family relationships.

Book number 268 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy reading project.

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review 2017-12-11 22:32
Widow's Web / Jennifer Estep
Widow's Web - Jennifer Estep

Once an assassin, always an assassin. So much for being plain old Gin Blanco. With every lowlife in Ashland gunning for me, I don’t need another problem, but a new one has come to town.

Salina might seem like a sweet Southern belle, but she’s really a dangerous enemy whose water elemental magic can go head-to-head with my own Ice and Stone power. Salina also has an intimate history with my lover, Owen Grayson, and now that she’s back in town, she thinks he’s hers for the taking.

Salina’s playing a mysterious game that involves a shady local casino owner with a surprising connection to Owen. But they call me the Spider for a reason. I’m going to untangle her deadly scheme, even if it leaves my love affair hanging by a thread.

 

It really struck me as I was reading this volume of the Elemental Assassin series (number 7, if you’re counting) that Jennifer Estep is really working her way through all the relationship issues that a woman can have. The first couple of books revolve around being fixated on the wrong person—the one you’ve got chemistry with, but not necessarily shared values. The relationship that’s doomed from the start, but you’re still inexplicably drawn to (that would be detective Donovan Caine).

Then Gin meets Owen Grayson, someone she’s got things in common with—this is the stage where she’s found someone who could be compatible, but she’s not sure he’ll accept all of her, even the ruthless parts. They do the “do we really trust each other” dance for a couple of books, before seeming to settle into a pretty solid relationship.

The last book tested Gin’s commitment—bringing Donovan back into her life, seemingly anxious to reconcile. She passes on Mr. Caine, realizing that they still have polar opposite values and that it couldn’t possibly work. This book, its Owen’s turn, as his former fianceé Salina returns to Ashland, determined to get him back.

Things that I have complained about in earlier books—repetition, mostly—isn’t present in this installment. Estep seems to have either matured as a writer or found a much more stringent editor who doesn’t put up with it. As a result, the books are much more entertaining and my irritation quotient is dramatically reduced.

A nice little urban fantasy hit to keep my addiction alive!

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review 2017-12-11 22:30
The Drowned and the Saved / Primo Levi
The Drowned and the Saved - Primo Levi

The author tries to understand the rationale behind Auschwitz, Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen. Dismissing stereotyped images of brutal Nazi torturers and helpless victims, Levi draws extensively on his own experiences to delve into the minds and motives of oppressors and oppressed alike. Describing the difficulty and shame of remembering, the limited forms of collaboration between inmates and SS goalers, the exploitation of useless violence and the plight of the intellectual, Levi writes about the issue of power, mercy and guilt, and their effects on the lives of the ordinary people who suffered so incomprehendingly.

 

How in the world do I rate a book like this? I guess its four stars, because I didn’t find it to be quite as engaging as Night or Man's Search for Meaning, but it was still an un-put-down-able book. I’ll be reading more of Levi’s work, without a doubt. The voices of these Holocaust survivors become ever more important as attrition takes them from us and their story becomes doubted by some.

The Drowned and the Saved is a powerful metaphor for the concentration camp experience. Those who emerged became the Saved, those who perished became the Drowned. As in the two books that I referenced above, Levi tells us that those who appear to be the Saved had to do some brutal things to get that status. He goes so far as to say that all the good people were among the Drowned. So how was he to feel about himself, supposedly one of the elect? His death in 1987 was ambiguous—officially ruled as a suicide, but it may have been an accident.

He says that the Saved were the prisoners who didn’t actually touch bottom while in the camps. It seems that he may have hit bottom well after the fact.

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review 2017-12-11 21:55
Audio Review: Death Masks (The Dresden Files #5) by Jim Butcher (Narrator: James Marsters)
Death Masks - Jim Butcher
Death Masks

The Dresden Files #5
Jim Butcher (Narrator: James Marsters)
Urban Fantasy
Penguin Audiobooks
October 29th 2009
Audiobook
11 hours and 21 minutes
Library

 

Harry Dresden, Chicago's only practicing professional wizard, should be happy that business is pretty good for a change. But now he's getting more than he bargained for:

 

A duel with the Red Court of Vampires' champion, who must kill Harry to end the war between vampires and wizards...

 

Professional hit men using Harry for target practice...

 

The missing Shroud of Turin...

 

A handless and headless corpse the Chicago police need identified...

 

Not to mention the return of Harry's ex-girlfriend Susan, who's still struggling with her semi-vampiric nature. And who seems to have a new man in her life.

 

Some days, it just doesn't pay to get out of bed. No matter how much you're charging.

 

Goodreads

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Kobo

 

 

Death Masks is book five in The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.

 

I’ve been enjoy The Dresden Files. This time instead of reading I decide to give the audiobook a try. I have to say Narrator James Marsters was outstanding. He brought all the characters to life. Harry’s voice was just what I expected it to sound like. It was perfection. I plan to try out more in The Dresden Files series in audiobook formate. It was a superb listen.

 

As for the plot well several things are happening in this installment and not all of it was good. We have some grey areas, some bad, and some good. Harry’s got a lot to deal with.

 

Susan comes back to say good bye for good and to warn him. She’s been gone a year with no contact and just shows up out of the blue. She could have called Harry, but nope she’s back and finds herself involved in Harry’s investigation. Having her back is painful for him. I’m ready for her to go and not return. Close that door, please…

 

Besides Susan returning, he’s been sent out on another case to find a missing artifact and their’s a prophecy that involves him and this artifact. Oh Boy!! He’s got choices to make, but their are things that you just can’t walk away from.

 

And, last the Red Court still wants Harry dead and the war is going strong between Vampires and Wizards. As you can see so much to deal with. What could go wrong?

 

Death Masks brings us Demons, Vampires, a possible Apocalypse and so much more. I had a fabulous time listening to this story. The audio was well worth listing too. Can’t wait to see what happens next to Harry.

 

Rated: 4 Stars

 

 

 

Was this review helpful? If so, please consider liking it on Goodreads (Angela)!

 

 

Challenge(s): Library Love / Pick Your Genre (UF) / Backlist Reader (2017)

 


 

 

 

I was born and raised in Northern Indiana. I’m an outdoor sun loving reader living near San Fransisco. I’m a mother, wife, dog owner, animal, and book lover. I’m the owner, reviewer, and mind behind Angel’s Guilty Pleasures. My favorite animals are horses & dogs. As for reading I love all things paranormal & urban fantasy. My favorite shifters are dragons!

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Source: angelsguiltypleasures.com/2017/12/audio-review-death-masks-the-dresden-files-5-by-jim-butcher-narrator-james-marsters
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