Thursday, May 23, 2013

Spider's Revenge

Book: Spider's Revenge
Series: Elemental Assassins #5
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: After Elektra LaFleur's unsuccessful attempt to eliminate the Spider, Mab Monroe puts a bounty out on both the Spider and Bria. Gin and her team have to battle several bounty hunters before eliminating the most dangerous rival of all, Mab. But is Gin strong enough to defeat the woman with the strongest elemental power in the last 500 years? 

'Spider's Revenge' started off in the most frustrating way possible. Gin (**mild spoiler alert**) attempts to kill Mab but she is unsuccessful due to her lack of patience. Gin's specialty as the Spider is never rushing things, so it was so frustrating that she screwed up. Of course, it was necessary to set up the rest of the book, so we'll go with it. There were so many great parts of this book. Most of the bounty hunters were incompetent, but there was an older woman and young girl that were quite skilled in their quest to capture Gin and Bria. Speaking of Bria, she develops a love interest in this book (I won't reveal with who but it's exciting!) while Gin and Owen take some big steps forward in their relationship (yay!).  There was another frustrating segment where Gin knowingly walks into a trap set by Mab (she literally has no real plan to kill Mab, just show up at a party and hope an opportunity presents itself). Not surprisingly, Gin isn't successful but it sets up the final showdown between Mab and Gin which was exciting.  I will admit it seems like Finn could have shot Mab easily while she was staring down Gin but the magical fight was more entertaining. However-my favorite part of this book **spoiler alert** is that Gin has been outed as the Spider. What will happen now?! 

Also-this book did not rehash every detail of the previous books nor was it very repetitive. Loved it!

Grade: 5 stars

Tangled Threads

Book: Tangled Threads
Series: Elemental Assassins #4
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: After taking out Mab's number one enforcer, the Spider has a huge target on her back. And this time, Mab's hired assassin Elektra LaFleur to take care of the problem. Elektra is professional, smart and sadistic. She has strong elemental power and likes to electrocute people to death. Gin and Elektra seem to be evenly matched-the only question is, who will end up on top?

Out of all of the adversaries in the series, Elektra has been the best foe for Gin. They were very evenly matched and I like the cat and mouse game. I wish the final showdown between Elektra and Gin had Gin using more of her elemental powers but overall, great. There was a subplot involving a kidnapped child that shows how sadistic Mab Monroe is, which I think is important to the series because while we are told how evil Mab is in the prior books, this is the first time we really see her doing something nefarious firsthand. 

In terms of my final rating, the Elektra storyline is 5 stars, but a good portion of this book was a summary of previous books. It was very frustrating that so much of the book could be skimmed.  

Grade: 3.5/5

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Book: Venom
Series: Elemental Assassins #3
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: Gin Blanco agrees to help Roslyn, a local vampire who is being stalked by a giant in Mab's inner circle. Gin and her team work together to help Roslyn, while Gin also learns to embrace her stone and ice magic. 

I loved a lot of things about this book. First of all-the secondary characters that are part of Gin's team (that is how I consider them anyway) are well developed and funny. Gin's foster brother Finnegan Lane is smart, sexy and funny. Swoon! Gin's new love interest Owen Grayson-he has a fabulous back story and great potential. He is much more compatible with Gin than Caine. The dwarf sisters Sophia (we finally learn her special talent) and JoJo are a hoot and so loyal to Gin. The addition of Gin's long lost sister, Bria, is promising. I also enjoyed Gin embracing her powers and her realization that she will need to utilize her magic in addition to her knives. She is also morally conflicted which makes her more compelling.

What I didn't love about this book was the extreme repetition. Gin has five knives (2 in her boots, 2 up her sleeves, 1 along small of her back). Finn drinks chickory coffee.
Fletcher Lane was her mentor for 17 years. A lot of background on the previous 2 books. 

Overall-even with the repetition, I loved this!

Grade: 5 stars

Web of Lies

Book: Web of Lies
Series: Elemental Assassins #2
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: Retired assassin Gin Blanco is trying to live a normal life managing her restaurant when there is an attempted robbery. Gin is able to subdue the robbers with limited difficulty, but one of the punks has a powerful father who is one of Mab Monroe's (Gin's #1 enemy) inner circle. Even though Mab and her team don't know Gin is the infamous Spider, she has a target on her back. To complicate matters, Gin is approached by a friend of her late mentor who needs her help battling a powerful dwarf over a land dispute. 

I'm a huge fan of 'Burn Notice' and Gin Blanco reminds me of a female version of Michael Weston. Except of course, she's a former assassin who is ultimately trying to find out who killed her family while he's ex-CIA trying to find out who burned him. She also has some magical abilities, but ultimately, they both take on cases to help people who are in bad situations. Gin is also a little bit Dexter Morgan (another of my faves!) as they both follow a code instilled in them by their foster fathers. The action in this book was good and the dwarf was a good adversary for Gin. I was very excited about the addition of a new character and potential love interest, Owen Grayson. In Gin's words..Mmmm. I am hoping this book is the last we see of detective Donovan Caine, he hasn't resonated with me as a reader. 

So..Gin Blanco-love child of Michael Weston and Dexter Morgan is one awesome protagonist! There is a lot of summary of the first book so many parts of this book can be skimmed. Overall, fun read!! 

Grade: 4/5 stars

Monday, May 20, 2013

Bayou Moon

Book: Bayou Moon
Series: The Edge #2
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: William Wolf is a changling (shape shifter) living a solitary life in the the Edge. Changlings are considered very dangerous and unstable by people in The Weird (magical world) and William has lived a difficult life. Given to the government the day he was born, he was raised in Hawk's Academy (a prison like setting) that trained him to be a ruthless killer. Although he is no longer active military, William is approached to go on a mission in The Mire (a swamp in the Edge) to retrieve an object that is being hunted by the Spider. The Spider is a spy for Louisiana, a country in the Weird that is trying to start a war. 

Cerise Mar is native to the Mire and head of her family after her parents are kidnapped. They are rich in people, poor in finances. When a rival family takes over her grandparents house, Cerise has to prepare her family for a fight. Cerise and William meet up and eventually join forces traveling through the Mire. 

It's official-I'm in love with another series by Ilona Andrews!! While the romance aspect of the book wasn't as strong as book 1 in the series (there was very little conflict between the main characters), the overall plot was much meatier. We have an almost 100 year family feud, old magic, monsters in the woods, genetic experiments and best of all-the Spider. Although he is the bad guy in the book, I was so fascinated by him. He's bad, but he thinks he is doing his patriotic duty which makes him that much more dangerous. William was also so deliciously 'other'. Not human and not animal, it was great to be inside his head. 

Love!! If you are a fan of urban fantasy, check out this series. 

Grade: 4.5/5

The List

Book: The List
Author: Siobhan Vivian

Review: Every year, the Monday before homecoming, a list is published naming the prettiest and ugliest girl for the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior class. Told from alternating perspectives, we follow the girls for the week to see how they are impacted. 

Vivian tackles several issues that many young girls face including eating disorders, relationships (both love and friendship), co-dependent parents (or parent in this case) and self image. How do we see ourselves and how do we measure our worth? Is is through our own perception of ourselves or others perception of us? What is the definition of 'beauty' v. 'ugly' and how does it define our choices? 

Vivian did an excellent job crafting different voices for the girls and I was quickly drawn into the trials and tribulations of their high school life. High school was a long time ago for me but I don't recall it being quite so vicious and superficial. While most of the characters were unlikable, I did enjoy Danielle, the 'ugliest' freshman and member of the swim team. She was someone to route for. The eating disorder character (one of the 'prettiest') was also heartbreaking, and I kept wondering where her parents were in the story-there was no mention of them realizing she was losing herself. 

Overall-an enjoyable read and I was pleasantly surprised that it was more in depth than I thought. However I strongly disliked the ending. I appreciate that the stories didn't end tied in a red bow, because that would be unrealistic, but it just ends when one of the characters is crowned homecoming queen. A follow up chapter set in the future or something with a follow up on the girls would have been nice. 

Grade: 3/5 stars

Monday, May 6, 2013


Book: Hook
Author: Nicolas Tsamis
Format: ebook
Publisher: Lulu
Release Date: 8/6/2012
I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review.

Plot summary from Goodreads:
Shortly before he dies, an elderly enlightened Teacher in India finds a way to leave his body and remain suspended in a dimension somewhere between life and death. Only Rahul, his loyal student, knows about the Teacher's plans, as the dying man gives him instructions for the future before leaving his body. Meanwhile, Konstantinos, a successful 35-year-old bachelor and owner of a software company, finds himself in the middle of the Teacher's grand plan without realizing it. His life is radically changed, along with that of the woman he loves and everyone else around them, as they all become involved in something so huge, it could positively alter the course of humanity.

The Good: I really respect that Tsamis essentially cold emailed me (I'm not sure if 'cold email' is even a term?) asking me to read and review his book. Impressive self marketing! 'Hook' has a unique plot and is unlike anything I've ever read before. 
The Not So Good: 'Hook' is written with multiple narratives and while I'm normally a fan of this style, it didn't work here. The 'voices' of the characters weren't developed enough to sound like different people. It was slightly disconcerting while reading. Also, for a book that has a spirit talking through animals, a kidnapped scientist, lost love and an FBI (it may have been CIA) chase of sorts, it wasn't fast paced or that exciting.  Myrna (one of the secondary characters who potentially has a huge impact on the future of mankind) should have been an amazing character who came to life on the pages (she is one of the few enlightened people in the world) but for whatever reason, she never clicked with me. In fact, she was downright boring. There was a chapter included from her perspective about tantric sex which seemed completely unnecessary to the plot. **Minor Spoiler** Konstantinos has to give up his relationship with Myrna for the greater good and just so happens to have a single, gorgeous secretary who is already in love with him-guess what her name is? Aphrodite. And yes, she is blond. It just seemed like a little much. 

Overall, while I didn't love this book, it was okay. I have to hand it to Tsamis for creating something very unique. I have told a lot of people it because the plot is so different from anything else I've encountered. 

Grade: 2/5

The Great Gatsby

Book: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald

Review: I read this book in high school AND saw the movie (Robert Redford version) years ago and for the life of me, I could barely remember the plot of this book when I recently reread it. It is widely considered Fitzgerald's greatest work and one of the great American novels and I wanted to LOVE it, but it wasn't in the cards. I liked it well enough, but it's not a book I would ever recommend to anyone or choose to reread again. 

The basic plot: It's the 20's. A young man moves to Long Island and his wealthy, enigmatic neighbor befriends him. Add in some raging parties, a few love triangles that result in tragedy and presto!-we have ourselves a novel. First of all, '..Gatsby' is beautifully written. However, it is extremely short (almost a short story and I'm just not a short story person) and almost every character is odious (especially Daisy and her awful husband, I could not stand either of them). While it's descriptive in many ways, the basic plot was very simplistic. I can see why Hollywood has made this into a film several times-the book provides a good framework they can expand upon. 

If you like to read about the end of eras (in this case the roaring 20's) and you like shorter books, you may love this. 

Grade: 3/5

Spider's Bite

Book: Spider's Bite
Series: Elemental Assassins #1
Author: Jennifer Estep

Review: Gin Blanco, professionally known as The Spider, is very good at her job. She's one of the best assassins in North Carolina and her services don't come cheap. When an assignment goes wrong and her handler is killed, Gin will stop at nothing to avenge his death. That includes teaming up with a local police officer who wants her dead, for killing his partner. They agree to a truce until the case is over, after that, all bets are off. 

This is a very exciting year for me in terms of reading because I'm starting several new series and authors. And even more fun, I'm loving almost all of them!! Once again, another strong beginning to a new series. Estep has done a good job layering Gin's personality. It's only book 1, I feel like there is a still a lot to learn about our heroine. It's true, she kills people for a living, but they usually deserve it. Is Gin good or bad? Hard to say, but her preferred killing method is with knives people! She is the definition of bad ass! I will say she has some moral code and hey, she enjoys cooking, so she can't be all bad, right? Estep has created several interesting secondary characters with good back stories which I'm excited to learn more about. In terms of the mystery, I don't think the most antagonist was developed enough and the final fight was slightly anti-climatic, but overall, I really enjoyed this. 

Grade: 4/5

On The Edge

Book: On the Edge
Series: The Edge #1
Author: Ilona Andrews

Review: Rose Drayton lives in The Edge, a place found between two worlds: The Weird, a place where magic is strong and there is a strong aristocracy, and The Broken, essentially rural Georgia (human, no magic). Although Rose has a lot of magic herself, her life has been difficult. She works as a cleaning woman in The Broken and takes care of her two younger brothers. When Declan, a blueblood aristocrat shows up on her doorstep, she has to make it clear she cannot be 'won.' However, when strange beasts invade The Edge and start killing people, Rose and Declan have to team up to save her slice of the world.

A super fun start to a new series! I laughed out loud several reading this (loved Rose's dry sense of humor and Declan's clueless nature about some things) and I enjoyed the worlds that Andrews created. I've heard the series gets better with each book so I'm psyched to read the next one. If you enjoy paranormal romance or urban fantasy, check out this book. 

Grade: 4/5