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Immortal in Death by J.D. Robb

Set against the background of the youth-obsessed, drug-using fashion industry, this suspenseful tale sweeps from the glitzy to the seamy with all the flair and panache one has come to expect from Robb.

Title:Immortal in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #3
Publish Date: July 1, 1996
Genre: Fantasy suspense romance
Narrator: Susan Erickson
Publisher’s Description: When Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas investigates the murder of a top model, she is putting her career on the line, because the prime suspect is her best friend. Eve’s investigations lead her into the glamorous world of high fashion.

 

 



Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

Next on my re-read journey is Immortal in Death.

This book spotlights Mavis and hooks her with Leonardo.  Mavis is such a great person to be around.  Even though a grifter by trade, until meeting Dallas of course, she has the most up beat vision of life.  Eve loves her and is the first real friend Eve can count among her posse.

Mavis is accused of killing a bad tempered, vindictive and jealous model.  No possible way.  None.  Now, Mavis is scared out of her mind and Eve will prove her innocence come hell or high water.  This is also the book where Roarke meets Mavis and starts the long road to stardom for her.  What would we do without Roarke?

This is a good story, but it’s not as riveting as the ones before.  That doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it’s salt, though.  I enjoyed it and it created the link between Roarke and Mavis.  All of Eve’s friends will someday be Roarke’s friends too.  All these people that Eve brings with her into her relationship with Roarke makes him a happier man because none of them are after his money.  They love him because they love Eve.  I am fascinated at how the links are created and a family is built.

Our reviews in this series…

 

 

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Glory in Death by J.D. Robb

It is 2058, New York City. In a world where technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there’s only one place to hide a crime of passion-in the heart.

Title: Glory in Death
Author: J.D. Robb
Series: In Death #2
Publish Date: December 28, 1995
Genre: Fantasy suspense romance
Narrator: Susan Erickson
Publisher’s Description: It is 2058, New York City. In a world where technology can reveal the darkest of secrets, there’s only one place to hide a crime of passion-in the heart.

Even in the mid-twenty-first century, during a time when genetic testing usually weeds out any violent hereditary traits before they can take over, murder still happens. The first victim is found lying on a sidewalk in the rain. The second is murdered in her own apartment building. Police Lieutenant Eve Dallas has no problem finding connections between the two crimes. Both victims were beautiful and highly successful women. Their glamorous lives and loves were the talk of the city. And their intimate relations with men of great power and wealth provide Eve with a long list of suspects — including her own lover, Roarke.



Nervous Nellie’s nervousness necessitates knowledge of the novel. In other words …SPOILERS. *BEWARE*


Nervous Nellie says…

I’m still on my journey of re-reading or in my case, re-listening, to the In Death series by J. D. Robb.  Normally, my first choice is an Indie author, but J.D. Robb hooked me from the first mention of Roarke.

If you are familiar with Eve and Roarke, you know what I am talking about.  If you are not, please, for your own swoon worthy imagination, please partake.  Roarke charishes Eve like no other man I have every read about (and I am positive that no man living does).  This relationship is not perfect, but it’s one that makes me sigh.

Anyway, this story is incredible.  Again, these stories may be written in 1995, but they are still strong front runners even in comparison of books written now. I feel that after I finished reading the story, I would have thought the plot was fairly simple. While I was reading it, however, the plot was fed to me just as it would have been fed to Eve Dallas making it the puzzle.  The best part is that while reading the story, readers are treated to the inside day to day feelings and headaches Eve Dallas.  The reader is drawn in and becomes part of her family.

There is sex, swearing, murder, anxiety, flashbacks and adult situations involving the motivations of the murder.  These books are well written and will pull a reader in so far that it will be difficult to pause the book or put the book down.

One last warning: try really hard to remember prior stories because they will come back as references in current stories.  For instance, the folks in this story will be referenced in book #6. They aren’t integral in the story, but they are referenced and that is kind of cool.

Our reviews in this series…

 

 

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Betrayals by Lili St. Crow

Dru is back, and now that the first battle for her life is over, worse is yet to come.

Title: Betrayals
Author: Lili St. Crow
Series: Strange Angels, Book 2
Publish Date: October 29, 2009
Genre: young adult paranormal
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: She’s no angel…

Poor Dru Anderson. Her parents are long gone, her best friend is a werewolf, and she’s just learned that the blood flowing through her veins isn’t entirely human. (So what else is new?)

Now Dru is stuck at a secret New England Schola for other teens like her, and there’s a big problem—she’s the only girl in the place. A school full of cute boys wouldn’t be so bad, but Dru’s killer instinct says that one of them wants her dead. And with all eyes on her, discovering a traitor within the Order could mean a lot more than social suicide…

Can Dru survive long enough to find out who has betrayed her trust—and maybe even her heart?

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Kat Mandu says…

Betrayals takes place mere minutes after the events of Strange Angels. Dru, Graves, and Christophe have been relocated to a boys school for teenage werewolves and vamps. Then Christophe leaves, and Dru is left reeling, feeling out and place and fearful for her life. Graves, however, seems to find his place immediately, becoming an Alpha and respected on campus for being the rare breed of lou garou.

There’s a lot of reflection for Dru as she thinks about hunts with her dad, how he died, and her long-buried genetics that reveal she’s more than human. There’s even a scene I really enjoyed where her svetocha comes out to play. I am certain I’ll see more of that power later when she comes into it.

The descriptions of the action scenes sadly didn’t get any better, bouncing from one to the next without fluidity. I’m still not sure what really happened during the attack at the school, or the boss battle with Sergej at the end…everything just seemed so chaotic. Sometimes I wonder if the author intended for it to be that way, describing everything so awkwardly that you’re just as lost as the character and therefore are unable to predict the outcome. Then I wonder if it’s just me. I’m not sure, but I still don’t really follow the action scenes well.

Overall, a good read. The characters are great, I’m excited to see what happens next, I’m just hoping I’ll get a clearer view for future books. 3 stars.

Our reviews in this series…

Jackaby by William Ritter

If you dropped Sherlock Holmes into an urban fantasy setting, you’d get something like Jackaby.

Title: Jackaby
Author: William Ritter
Series: Jackaby, Book 01
Publish Date: September 16th, 2014 by Algonquin Young Readers
Genre: Historical urban fantasy
NarratorNicola Barber
Source: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionNewly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary–including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police–with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane–deny.

Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Mixing Sherlock Holmes with a female Watson and magic in an urban fantasy setting made for a fun story.

Jackaby is a competent, somewhat arrogant, socially-awkward scholar of magic. He can see supernatural creatures and forces others can’t.  Therefore, he has access to more information about the world, much like his counter-part, Sherlock Holmes, has because of his powers of observation. Jackaby fancies himself a detective on cases that involve the supernatural.

His Watson, Miss Abigail Rook, is a young female interested not in frocks and parties and marriage, but in having adventures and being independent. She forces her way into Jackaby’s investigations, and they make a good pair since Abigail can’t see magic and brings some grounded reality to the investigations.

I particularly enjoyed some of the secondary characters–the ghost and the duck, especially. The running joke about staring at the toad was cute as well.

As for the mystery, it was very interesting. However, this book did the one thing in mysteries that really bothers me. The mystery is solved by happenstance, not through any effort on the part of the detectives. I find this disappointing as it makes all their efforts to understand the case irrelevant.

Overall, the story is cute. The narrator does a good job of bringing the characters to life. It might be just about right as a young adult series, as it’s marketed. It’s not going to be on my must-read list, but I might eventually continue with the rest of the book in the series as long as the cases are actually solved by the protagonists.

Series Spotlight: Elemental Assassin by Jennifer Estep

I just finished a massive re-read of every novel, novella, and short story of the Elemental Assassin series. Actually, I listened to most of it, since all seventeen novels and one novella are available in audio. It was fabulous! I just love Gin and the gang and all the justice she brings to Ashland and beyond.

Author: Jennifer Estep
Series: Elemental Assassin
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Lauren Fortgang
Cover: Tony Mauro
Source: Purchased

Description (from Goodreads): The Elemental Assassin series focuses on Gin Blanco, an assassin code-named the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional Southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Invested Ivana says…

Seventeen novels and ten novellas/shorts make for a lot of time to invest in a series. But long series are perfect for a reader like me who invests heavily in the characters and their lives. Every new book is a chance to visit with my friends, and I always want to know what happens next in their lives because happily-ever-after just doesn’t happen. If you haven’t invested in the series yet, or have just dipped your toe into a book or two, here are some observations about the series that you might want to know.

Ashland is the Gotham City of the South.

By that, I mean that Gin’s world is governed by the rules, not of reality, but of graphic novels. Picture any Batman movie–Ashland, like Gotham City, is chock full of bad guys and their thugs/minions–probably more baddies than regular folk. And some of the “baddies” are actually the good guys! Though there is no Penguin, Catwoman, or Riddler, there is a mix of super-human citizens–giants, dwarves, vampires, and those with elemental magic–who, for the most part, are just as “human” as anyone else but with a few physical bonuses.

The world is highly stylized, with individuals and businesses identifying themselves via runes placed on everything from business cards to jewelry to kitchen decorations. Plus, some villains go in for a theme, dressing themselves, their minions, and their environments like Wild West cowboys, 1920-era mobsters, Renaissance-fair actors, etc. Thugs and minions are killed in droves, but their deaths are of consequence only if they drive the plot forward. Secrets are revealed from beyond the grave as though the deceased had uncanny prescience, and the elimination of each opponent brings a bigger, badder villain forward. And, of course, there are wildly wealthy people everywhere.

While the characters, their motivations, and their relationships are fully fleshed out, rich, and realistic, the sett

ing follows its own rules, similar to those of Gotham City. Understanding those rules allows your suspension-of-disbelief skills to flourish, and you’ll enjoy the story that much more.

There are three main story arcs (so far).

The other day, I was chatting with a friend who was criticizing long series for being “repetitive and formulaic.” Though I understand her point, I argue that it depends on WHICH STORY you’re focused on. As with all good TV and book series, there is the episodic story — each book or short — and there is the story arc — the events that tie a whole season together. I love story arcs. A well-written series pulls me from book to book because there is a compelling arc. Each episode fleshes out the characters, deepens relationships, introduces new players, and gives the characters new knowledge or skills that lead them toward the completion of the arc. Now, I admit that those arcs can be more obvious when you “binge” a series, like I just did. That is why I love rereading books; I get to see how all the pieces fit together toward the story arc. Some readers just don’t have that kind of patience with or invest that much in series, and that’s fine. Stand-alone novels, duologies, and trilogies are made for those kinds of readers.

From what I can see, there are three main story arcs in the Elemental Assassin series. The first five books or so deal with Gin’s back story and her nemesis. The next seven or so books explore the back stories of some of the other main characters while dealing with the consequences of the first arc, including a successor villain that turns the tables on Gin’s world view a bit. This arc may seem a bit meandering to some readers, but new characters are introduced, existing characters are fleshed out, and everything we learn about them pays off in the end. The final arc is in progress at the time of this writing, and I can already tell it’s going to be amazing. After finishing the most recent novel (Venom in the Veins), I’m on the seat of my pants to see what Gin finds out next!

Taken individually, each book is about Gin and her friends solving a mystery and fighting a bad guy, and I guess you could call that repetitive and formulaic if you want. But each episode adds something to the story arc, and that arc is what compels me.

The entire series takes place in a short amount of time.

Though the series has been in progress since 2010, far less than nine years have passed in book time. My best guess is that the whole series takes place over two to three years or so, not counting a couple of “flashback” stories. I want to say there have been two Christmas parties since the first novel — one at Owen’s and one at the Pork Pit (Jennifer–correct me if that’s wrong!) It would be interesting to see a calendar layout marked with the time frame for each book.

It can be hard for readers to keep “book time” and real time separate while reading a series, but it can often help put some things in perspective if you remember how little time has passed in Ashland since we first met Gin.

The audiobook version is fantastic.

If you’re an audiobook fan, you should know that Lauren Fortgang is superb at portraying Gin and all the characters of Ashland. I understand that the appeal of narrators’ voices can be subjective, so take that for what it’s worth, but not only do I find Fortgang fantastic, but after seventeen novels, she is SO totally ingrained in my head as the voice of the Elemental Assassin series. Unfortunately, that made listening to the only novella in audio, Nice Guys Bite, narrated by David Marantz, difficult. Marantz is a fine narrator, but he’s not “the” narrator for this series, and audiobook listeners feel strongly about the continuity of narrators.

So I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Audible for producing Venom in the Veins using Lauren Fortgang even though Pocket dropped the Elemental Assassin series (WTF, Pocket?) and Venom in the Veins was self-published (also thank you to Jennifer and to Tony Mauro for maintaining the continuity of cover art!) I also hope that someday, when publishing rights can all be arranged without breaking the bank, Jennifer can publish an anthology or two of all the shorts and novellas and that Audible will produce them with Fortgang as narrator. Because of Fortgang’s performance, Elemental Assassin is one of those series I’d rather hear than read.

Feeling like there’s no justice in this world? Gin can help!

Hopefully, my observations about the series will spark your interest in reading, re-reading, or listening to Elemental Assassin. But if not, here’s one that might: vicarious bloody justice. Right now, our world feels like Gotham City — full of wealthy, corrupt villains who too often get away with their evil deeds. Even well-adjusted, non-sociopaths need to indulge in a revenge-fantasy or two just to stay sane.

Reading the Elemental Assassin series is a socially-acceptable way to exercise your revenge fantasies. Assassin Gin Blanco goes after those wealthy, manipulating, corrupt, exploiting, entitled asshats, stabs them with her knives, and bathes in their blood. So the next time you feel oppressed by the wealthy, cheated by politicians, or angered by the news, crack open an Elemental Assassin book and let Gin take down the baddies for you.

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