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Thursday 28 April 2011

Tangled Threads

by Jennifer Estep
(#4 in the Elemental Assassin Series)

I was lucky enough to receive an electronic ARC of Tangled Threads earlier but will be buying the physical copy for that great cover. You can never go wrong with the Elemental Assassin series and Tangled Threads is no exception to that rule. I have been totally enamored of this series since Spider's Bite. Despite the heartache, hardships, and even, stolen good moments that occur in Gin's life she finds a way to persevere.

One thing that never changes, and is very prevalent in Tangled Threads is the descriptions of the environment. Despite Ashland, NC being a real city, Gin's Ashland is a world unto its own with its dividing line where stepping across one street means you are at serious risk from not only mere thugs, but, vampires, evil dwarves or some other badness you might run into that might not be fully human. Something that always strikes me about this series, and Jennifer Estep’s writing in general, are the vivid descriptions. For example, "green, glossy Kudzu vines curled around a trellis that partially obscured the porch. So did a thick cluster of rose bushes, although their branches were bare for the winter, except for the long, curved, black thorns that glittered like polished jet". This depiction immediately made me think of my great-grandmother's back porch that ran the length of the back of the house.

Another great thing about the books is the main character, Gin. Despite Gin's myriad edges there are parts of her that you can’t help but like and those parts even make you want to be like her, even if for just a few minutes. Maybe you would not go right out the door and whip out a silverstone knife and make someone pay for what they've done to make your day harder, or you might not bring a building down on someone's head, but, you sure can imagine it on a really bad day and it might bring a sly smile to your face.

The supernaturals in the Elemental Assassin books have been given an original perspective in the urban fantasy genre and the description of their powers and how they interact with other powers gives the books more depth. Jennifer Estep has taken the four elements and breathed a different life into them with her stories. Tangled Threads takes up the mantle and gives Urban Fantasy fans something in which to immerse themselves. The characters we have grown to love like Gin, Finnegan, Jo-Jo, Sophia, Xavier and Roslyn are there. But, now we have more of the new additions like Bria and Owen. We get to learn more about Gin's past and the build-up towards the inevitable crescendo between Gin and Mab is hanging in the air and making it hard to wait for the showdown.

Mab may not know who she is dealing with yet, but, she has brought in the big guns to take out The Spider. Elektra LaFleur's background is as dangerous and scary as Gin's. But, does she have what it takes to bring down Gin Blanco, retired assassin, The Spider? It is well worth the time to find out. This is an amazing addition to the Elemental Assassin series and I sure hope that Pocket and Jennifer Estep are interested in seeing where they can take Gin and the gang after the big showdown. I know that even with the impending showdown forthcoming Jennifer Estep has the skills to keep Gin's story moving forward.

Reviewed by LadyTechie

Friday 22 April 2011

Wink Murder

By Ali Knight

Wink Murder is a well-plotted and fast moving murder mystery, and I found that it kept me guessing all the way through and the revelation of ‘whodunnit’ was a genuine surprise.

But, it is also more than that. At the centre of the story is the examination of a marriage in deep crisis. The story looks at the issue of trust. Who can you trust? How do you know you can trust them? And ultimately, what is the nature of trust?

The story is written in first person, present tense which can be hard to pull off. But for this story it works well, especially in the later chapters where it lends a sense of immediacy to the plot.

Whilst the story is very plot-centred, I also found the characters very real and well realised. We spend the entire novel inside the head of the main character, Kate, and see the other characters through her eyes. Her relationships with other characters, and the extent to which she feels she can trust them is central to the story. The issues of trust between husband and wife are well-explored but Kate’s feelings about her husband’s ex wife and her husband’s brother also impact heavily on the outcome of the story.

The fact that ‘Wink Murder’ is set in the world of television adds an extra dimension as it raises questions about the power of the media and the nature of reality TV.

I recommend this book to all who like crime and mystery writing which is intelligent and well-rounded.

The book is published by Hodder and I’m grateful to them for providing a review copy.

Reviewed by Helen M Hunt

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Marrying Out Of Money

By Nicky Schmidt

"Marrying out of Money" is the story of a coffee shop heiress who is determined not to marry an aristocratic cad in an arranged marriage. In order to extricate herself, she decides to make herself as undesirable as possible, but things go awry when she finds herself falling for a man who repulses her.

This novel is brimming with great characters. I loved the main character of Lou, but the supporting cast were great too.

I particularly liked Fin who is Lou’s likeable but secretly vulnerable best friend and there are some amusingly ghastly characters including Lou’s mother, Victoria, and Lou’s boyfriend Hedge (or Bush as Victoria insists on referring to him).

The story follows Lou as she tries to resists her mother’s attempts to marry her off to an aristocrat in the interests of social acceptability, and the equally persistent attempts of his mother who is just as keen to make the match for financial reasons. The plot is full of twists and turns, and whilst it is a romance on the surface, there are also plenty of intriguing sub plots which throw disaster in Lou’s path on a regular basis.

I love the humour of this book. The comic moments come thick and fast and help to give pace to the plot as it covers the machinations of the dysfunctional characters. But there are some deeper, more emotional moments as well, particularly in the plot line involving the magnificent Fin.

Overall I would recommend this as a highly enjoyable and entertaining read. It caught me up in its unlikely but agreeable world and had me turning the pages to the end.

Reviewed by Helen Hunt

‘Marrying Out Of Money’ is published by Prospera Publishing, who kindly provided a review copy, and the paperback is out now.