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review 2016-05-28 10:00
Wet (Elemental Series Book 1) by Rose Wulf


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review 2016-05-17 04:49
Wet (Elemental Series Book 1) by Rose Wulf
Wet (Elemental Series Book 1) - Rose Wulf

Despite the fact that his family’s secret should be kept, Blake Hawke can’t resist telling Brooke about this ability to control water which is a good thing when he suddenly finds himself trying to protect his family and the woman he’s falling in love with from an enemy he never knew he had in this exciting paranormal romance. The author has created a fascinating world full of interesting characters with intriguing abilities which Blake uses in some amusing and some sensual ways that add flair and depth to the story. I was completely enamored with Blake and his family and I am looking forward to finding out what happens next.


“Copyright Night Owl Reviews”©



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review 2013-12-12 13:03
Early Review: The Spider by Jennifer Estep
The Spider - Jennifer Estep

I’ve often wondered about Gin’s early days and how she learned how to be one of the most lethal assassins in the Ashland area. The Spider goes back 10 years as we watch a young Gin Blanco go after her first target.


The story begins in the present when a mysterious package arrives. When Gin finally opens the package (after checking for magic, explosives, and explosive magics), she finds a bouquet of black roses inside with a cryptic “Happy Anniversary” message. Only one person would send Gin those roses and Gin begins to reminisce.


Gin tells the story of her first hit on the Vaughn family. Gin was still living with Fletcher and was learning her trade from The Tin Man himself. Finn provided the financial background and assisted during fight training. When Fletcher is approached for the hit, something just doesn’t feel right, but Gin continues to tail her mark.


What follows is the story of Gin’s early days when she was younger and more naïve. Gin gave her heart easily to Sebastian Vaughn, the son of her target. It was nice seeing a happy and more care-free Gin. As an added bonus, many of the supporting characters from the present day series appear in cameo roles. Owen appears as a knight in shining armor (well, he had a car and he was in the right place at the right time). Gin even meets a young girl who was a dead ringer for Bria.


You can really see the growth in Gin’s character from this book. Gin is young and more impulsive. She really wants to prove herself. Now she is much more meticulous and takes the time to properly research her marks.


The writing is kind of fun. The author likes to describe everything, so if that’s not your cup of tea, you may want to skip this series. Gin likes to cook and some passages read like recipes. Have a snack ready as you read. I wish the author would go ahead and publish the Pork Pitt cookbook already. There is still a lot of repetition of eye colors but that’s just the charm of this series. The story is good and it should keep the reader engaged.


The Elemental Assassins series is full of magic, corrupt officials, and really good barbecue. If you have not yet had a chance to start this series, give it a try. Gin is one kickass heroine.


Review posted on Badass Book Reviews. Check it out!

Source: badassbookreviews.com/early-review-the-spider-by-jennifer-estep
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review 2013-12-05 04:30
The Emperor's Knife by Mazarkis Williams
The Emperor's Knife (Tower and Knife) - Mazarkis Williams

I started reading this during my vacation, figuring that it was different enough from my other vacation reads that I wouldn't get everything confused. One review I read described it as being like George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire series, except set in a fantasy Middle Eastern world. Unfortunately, although some of the magic and political intrigue was interesting, it turned out to be a bit of a slog. I couldn't connect with the characters and had trouble caring about what was going on around them.

The politics and character relationships were complicated. Years ago, when Emperor Tahal was in power, everything was better. When he died, someone (maybe Tahal himself? I can't remember) arranged for all of Tahal's sons to be killed by Eyul, the Emperor's Knife, in order to avoid future power struggles. The only ones spared were Beyon, who became the next emperor, and Sarmin, who was locked up for the rest of his life, in case he was ever needed (fantastic idea, right?). In the book's present, Beyon has become a respected but sometimes brutal emperor. By his command, anyone found to have been patterned (mysterious pattern marks spontaneously appeared on their skin) is put to death. However, there are rumors that Beyon himself has the pattern marks and may eventually become a Carrier, a dead shell used as a tool by the Pattern Master.

I was a little confused about who was trying to accomplish what, and how. I think Nessaket, Beyon's mother, was doing whatever she had to in order to remain the most powerful woman in the palace, but she also potentially cared for her sons...maybe. Tuvaini was definitely trying to overthrow Beyon, put himself in power, and claim Nessaket as his wife (he seemed to both lust after her and hate her). Eyul wanted to serve the empire but wasn't sure whose orders would best help him do that. Sarmin would have done anything to protect his brother. Mesema, Sarmin's future bride, just wanted to figure out what was going on, learn what the patterns meant, and stay alive. I think I followed all that well enough, but I couldn't always keep the assassination attempts and reasons behind them straight.

It probably didn't help that there wasn't a single character I really cared about. There were some characters I liked more than others, and yet it didn't upset me at all when a couple of those characters died (don't worry, no spoilers). Of them all, Sarmin probably appealed to me the most, but having been locked alone in a room for nearly his entire life meant he wasn't the most comfortable of characters. When he first began exploring his magical abilities, I wasn't sure if what he was dealing with was actually magic or if he was as insane as Tuvaini said he was. After all, his advisers were faces he saw in the walls of his room. And he had almost no experience interacting with others. I thought his excitement at the thought of eventually meeting Mesema was nice and kind of sweet, until I realized that he viewed her as something like a present, someone that would belong to him alone.

I wish I could have liked Eyul, Amalya, and Mesema more than I did. Eyul, the world-weary assassin, was fascinating at first. However, he spent much of his time away from the palace, and I had trouble remembering why anything he did was important to the overall story. Some of the reasons why he disappointed me were also tied into my disappointment with Amalya.

Almost across the board, women in this world had little freedom and power. Even Nessaket, the most powerful woman in the palace, couldn't leave the palace grounds. She was powerful because she was the emperor's mother and previous emperor's wife, and, if Tuvaini got his way and became the next emperor, she hoped to stay powerful by becoming his lover. There was no way for her to be powerful that did not involve some sort of connection to a more powerful man.

The only women who had anything resembling power and freedom all their own were mages, and there were only two female mages in the entire book: Amalya and Mura. Mura was mentioned so rarely I had to look up her name just to include it in this review. She was the one female character Tuvaini met that he didn't view in terms of her sexual attractiveness to him, primarily because he was uncomfortable with the knowledge that a wind elemental was trapped inside her. Amalya was a much more prominent character than Mura, but unfortunately she didn't amount to much more. She used her fire elemental's magic a little, but it was mostly Eyul's skills that kept them safe. Amalya's greatest skill, it seemed, was cooking, and her primary purpose in the story was to give Eyul someone to fall in love with. She had so much potential, and it was all wasted.

I wanted to like Mesema more than I did, but she kept doing things that annoyed me. She supposedly loved Banreh, a man from her tribe who escorted her to her new home in the Cerani Empire, and yet she frequently insulted him. Years ago, he'd shattered one of his legs and could no longer ride well – not good in a culture that prizes riding skills. Mesema sometimes called him Lame Banreh. At one point, she said “You are barely more than a woman yourself...” (13.5%). Later, she thought of him as a “thrall” not once (41.3%), but twice (45.9%). There was also occasionally some pity in the mix.

And I was supposed to believe she really loved him? Had they interacted more and had Mesema done some groveling, then maybe, but instead I was left feeling like she just latched onto whoever was uppermost in her thoughts. When she wanted to go home, she loved Banreh best. When she was in the thick of things at the palace, Beyon began to attract her. Even though she was there when, earlier, Beyon threatened to kill Banreh.

It's possible that this series gets better, but I doubt I'll ever read the next book. I didn't like the characters enough to risk another slog.


(Original review, with read-alikes, posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2013-07-02 00:00
Elemental Magic - Sharon Shinn,Rebecca York,Carol Berg,Jean Johnson This book is an anthology containing four stories from various authors. I picked this book up on a whim at the library because I've read a couple of books from Sharon Shinn and she has pretty good stories. I didn't recognize the other authors, but it looked like an easy read, so why not?

The first story by Sharon Shinn is called Bargain with the Wind. It's a play on the classic Cinderella story with a twist. I thought it was rather charming the way the characters developed. I loved the narrator, that sort of maid in the background point of view. The elemental magic could have used a little more development, but for a short story, I think it was good. 3 stars. Sharon Shinn is a consistently good writer for fantasy and magic while building a world and community for this magic. She's probably not the best writer for innovation, but a lovely writer for what she does.

The other three really aren't that worth reading. Birthright by Jean Johnson was crap. I would have dropped that story in the first twenty pages if I didn't know it was a short and easy read. Arasa is going on a pilgrimage to see if she is the firstborn and the true heir. Elrik is a wandering mage that happens to join her party along the way. Plot twist: she's the princess. Oh, they fall in love. And look, there are enemies. Whoop-de-doo. Nothing new at all. But even beyond a cliche story-line, the writing is just not good at all. The dialogue is unwieldy and fake. Nobody talks like that. The romance is completely unbelievable - especially the way the two main characters go about telling the other person about their mutual attraction to each other (dialogue problems, see?). The entire plot seems very contrived and pretty much worthless. Honestly, motivations behind every action is unrealistic. And the main character's pilgrimage is a major event for the country - so why aren't other people researching what to do?
1 star. I probably won't read anything by this author unless a friend seriously recommends something to me emphatically. This is the worst one of the four.

The third story is Unmasking by Carol Berg. I also haven't heard of this author, but that's okay. Joelle is a Searcher - a partner that uses magic to protect the world against demons that corrupt people. Well, actually she's just a student right now trying to be a Searcher. But when Joelle stumbles across a suspicious man in the sanctified waters, she is unknowingly drawn into a battle bigger than she could imagine. For her to succeed, she'll have to work with this man to trick a spy from their enemies.
I thought it was okay. I think it was a disservice that it was only a short story because it had potential. But because of the word count limitation, I don't think the reader can fully understand the magnitude of their task - which makes a lot of their actions kind of pointless. I thought the magic system also wasn't developed as well as it should have been. But hey, I get it - it's a short story. But it does have some major plot holes and the conclusion was weak. The premise for task isn't really sound and the reason for why she keeps failing isn't resolved, even though it seems to be at the end. But Berg never explain exactly what changed. It doesn't make sense. But it wasn't bad. 2 stars because it was okay. I might pick something up from this author if I came across it.

The last story is Huntress moon by Rebecca York. Zarah is the daughter of a supposedly traitorous noble. She is sold into slavery. As a spy. But when she gets into contact with Griffin, her target, she falls in love. What's a girl to do?
Ugh, it's not a bad book. But it's just really gives off a tween romance. Well.... with the amount of explicit love-making... maybe not tween. But it still feels juvenile even despite those scenes. I felt like those scenes were also a bit of fan-service rather than helpful to the story. Rather, it felt a little trashy. Especially since the main characters call their emotions love after all of that forced (or what they call seduced) love-making. Please.
Griffin's secret and the resolution was basically a subplot to their romance, which is ridiculous since it touts itself as an adventure. Ha. The ending was bland and the romance worth an eye-roll. But I still read it, so ugh, it's not a bad book. I don't really have problems with York's writing, but I do have problems also with her world. She makes it a parallel universe to Earth, but with magic. However, the slang and speech patters seem way too similar to modern day times. It feels wrong because the story seems to be set in a much older time period with nobles and kings. And yet... we have slang. That's a problem.
2 stars because it was okay. Maybe 1.5 stars. I probably wouldn't pick up this author's books unless recommended. Or it had an extremely gorgeous cover haha.

Overall rating for the book: 2 stars. One story worth reading, the other three mediocre or bad.
Recommended for those who need a quick read of magic and fantasy. And aren't too picky about the quality of writing. Soooo... not really that recommended, to be honest.

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