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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 2017-12-08 15:29
An Excess Male / Maggie Shen King
Excess Male, An: A Novel - Maggie Shen King

Under the One Child Policy, everyone plotted to have a son.

Now 40 million of them can't find wives. China’s One Child Policy and its cultural preference for male heirs have created a society overrun by 40 million unmarriageable men. By the year 2030, more than twenty-five percent of men in their late thirties will not have a family of their own. An Excess Male is one such leftover man’s quest for love and family under a State that seeks to glorify its past mistakes and impose order through authoritatian measures, reinvigorated Communist ideals, and social engineering.Wei-guo holds fast to the belief that as long as he continues to improve himself, his small business, and in turn, his country, his chance at love will come. He finally saves up the dowry required to enter matchmaking talks at the lowest rung as a third husband—the maximum allowed by law. Only a single family—one harboring an illegal spouse—shows interest, yet with May-ling and her two husbands, Wei-guo feels seen, heard, and connected to like never before. But everyone and everything—walls, streetlights, garbage cans—are listening, and men, excess or not, are dispensable to the State. Wei-guo must reach a new understanding of patriotism and test the limits of his love and his resolve in order to save himself and this family he has come to hold dear.

 

I have to hand it to Maggie Shen King—she takes several assumptions and trends, plays them out to their logical conclusion, and makes a dramatic book out of it. Plus I always enjoy speculative fiction that isn’t set in North America!

First, take the Chinese one-child policy. Add to that the preference for having a male child to inherit your goods. Mix in a good dose of authoritarian Communist party, which like most authoritarian regimes is ultra-conservative. This is the world that King introduces us to—where women are so scarce that men compete to be second and third husbands in polyandrous households. We meet Wei-guo, an excess male, who is rather desperate to become someone’s husband and the household that he aspires to join: that of May-ling and her two brother husbands.

Unattached young men are always a dangerous potential source of upheaval in a society, so despite the extreme shortage of women, the Chinese government frowns on single men. Many of these men, like Wei-guo, spend their free time playing war games out in the countryside, something that the government keeps close tabs on, seeing it as a potential challenge to the state instead of a way of venting aggression. Illogically, the government also disapproves of homosexuality, which really they should welcome in their demographic predicament. When the government disapproves of both of these safety values for their society, things are bound to go wrong.

All of these tensions come together to produce a human drama that is well worth your reading time.

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review 2017-12-07 15:30
Dark and Dangerous – Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff @AlexSokoloff
Cold Moon - Alexandra Sokoloff

Alexandra Sokoloff has blown me away, with her Huntress/FBI Thriller Series. Huntress Moon, Book I (see my review here) continues through Blood Moon, Book II (see my review here) and I am unable to stop reading. It’s like Lays Potato Chips…you can’t eat just one. Well, I couldn’t read just one. I went through Book II, III and IV on a binge read. And…I see there is a Book V, Hunger Moon, and I aim to get my hands on that one too.

 

The covers are awesome and kudos to the designers. Cold Moon is done by…

 

Inkd

 

Cold Moon (The Huntress/FBI Thrillers, #3)

Goodreads  /  Amazon US  /  Amazon UK  /  Amazon CA

 

MY REVIEW

 

After reading Blood Moon, Book II, by Alexandra Sokoloff, there was no way I could stop. I kept on reading through Cold Moon and Bitter Moon. Now I see we have Hunger Moon, which would be Book V, and I will jump through hoops to get my hands on it.

 

The moon talks to Cara. Does it talk to you? What does it say?

 

We begin with Roarke’s nightmare, waking him. Cara…

 

She faces her own terror in the night, but vows IT will never take her.

 

“Fair as the moon and cold as ice.”

 

Roark’s team functions like a well oiled machine, even when personalities occasionally clash and opinions differ. They always get their ‘man’.

 

Cold Moon takes an even closer look into the depraved, the abused, the lost and those who care about them. Human trafficking of women and children, enslaved in prostitution, bought and sold, used and abused. Who will stand up for them, defend them, save them?

 

How can an online presence affect people, politics, legalities, courts…The anonymity of cyber activism.

 

I do not want to spoil any of the goodies contained in Cold Moon, the third book of Cara and Roarke’s story, so I will just throw out some hints and ask you…what would you do?

Evil…can you see it, smell it, touch it, feel it? Is it alive? Do you do something about it yourself?

 

Is it self defense, if you know evil is coming your way, and you take it out first?

 

My emotions are raging in anger and disgust. I know this goes on, day in and day out, and I wonder if those who, in real life, try to stem the flow of evil feel it is too big, there are too many. One by one they WILL fall.

 

“There is something larger at work…a force beyond the simply human. A female vengeance against outrages.”  Santa Muerte

 

“Sometimes death for one is salvation for another.”

 

I love the dark and dangerous, unique and original, direction Alexandrar Sokoloff takes in this story. I am afraid to google some of the online forums she talks about. I am afraid of what I will find out. Will evil know I am looking and come for me? She continues to thrill and amaze me, disgust and frighten me, leaving me ALWAYS wanting more.

 

I voluntarily reviewed a free copy of Cold Moon by Alexandra Sokoloff.

 

Animated Animals. Pictures, Images and Photos  5 Stars

 

Read more here.

 

MY ALEXANDRA SOKOLOFF REVIEWS

 

 

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Source: www.fundinmental.com/dark-and-dangerous-cold-moon-by-alexandra-sokoloff-alexsokoloff
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