By a Thread

Courtesy of jenniferestep.comSo after a bit of a break to re-read some Jane Yellowrock, I’ve come back around to Jennifer Estep’s Elemental Assassin Series. I started up again with book 6, By a Thread. This one picks up just a few weeks after Gin, a.k.a. – the Spider, killed the infamous Mab Monroe. Now there’s a power vacuum in Ashland and, oh yeah, every two bit thug is gunning for her. Whether it’s because of a bounty or to prove how tough they are, there isn’t a day going by where Gin isn’t killing a couple people just to survive.

Frankly, she’s getting tired of it and her foster brother, Finnegan Lane, talks her into a vacation with him, her sister Bria Coolidge and lover Owen Grayson. Bria talks them to Blue Marsh, which is where she grew up. Bria is anxious to catch up with her best friend/may as well be her sister Callie. Gin is more than a little jealous, mostly because she’s afraid that she’s going to lose Bria to moral indignation. See, Bria is a cop, and an honest one as well. This is a rarity in Ashland and the only other honest cop Gin met, Donovan Caine, broke her heart and left both her and the city.

So Gin tries her damndest to play stupid tourist and to enjoy Callie’s presence. It doesn’t always work, and she gets more than a little snarky from time to time with her fellow restaurateur. Bria’s less than pleased but the jealousy takes a back seat to trying to protect Callie as it becomes apparent that she’s in real danger from Blue Marsh’s version of Mab Monroe, Randall Dekes a vamp with a taste for elemental blood.

To make matters worse, cop Donovan Caine turns up as Callie’s fiancee. He still has a stick up his ass about Gin’s profession, and refuses her help when she offers. In the end, Gin decides to help anyway because Dekes made the stupid mistake of trying to get her and Bria killed in their own hotel room.

Of course, things don’t quite go to Gin’s plan. Usually she takes her time, feels things out and plans, plans, plans. But she’s in something of a hurry and wants to use Dekes’ upcoming press conference as an opportunity to strongly dissuade him from his course of action against Callie. Dekes almost kills Gin, but she gets away and luckily gets healed by Jo-Jo, whom Finn and Owen made sure to bring with them.

Thinking that the Spider is dead, Dekes kidnaps Callie, forcing Donovan to work with Gin and the others – much to their chagrin. In the end, Gin kills the bad guy (with the help of his own wife) and rescues the girl (in this case, girls). It wasn’t much of a vacation, but something important happened for Gin. She finally and firmly told Donovan to shove it when he said he still wanted her, wanted to be with her. Which kinda makes him even shittier in my estimation because he has a frickin’ fiancee! He’s ready to drop Callie like a hot rock because at the moment, he wants Gin? What an asshole.

Gin, however, is perfectly content and in love with Owen and leaves the old temptation of Donovan Caine behind. The only part I didn’t really like about this was Callie thanking Gin for letting Donovan Caine go. WTF? I think Callie could do a hell of a lot better than someone who clearly wants her to be a “good” Gin Blanco. Despite this little rankling of my feminist spirit, the book itself was quite good. Rating: A.

Practical Magic

Courtesy of goodreads.comI got this book because I really liked the movie and I’ve thought for years now Man, I should really try that out. I kinda wished I hadn’t bothered. Alice Hoffman wrote Practical Magic and I have to wonder if this is her first book. If it is, I might give her a little leeway. If it isn’t…well, then she’s not a good writer. I really felt that I was reading the equivalent of a little kid going And then, And then, And then the whole book. There was a lot of exposition and not really a lot of pay off.

If you’ve seen the movie, then you know Practical Magic is the story of two sisters, Sally and Gillian Owens, who’s family is comprised of witches all the way back to progenitor Maria. Sally and Gillian are raised by their aunts, Frances and Jet, whose names we don’t actually get until the very end of the book. Otherwise, they’re just referred to as the aunts.

There’s no mention of a family curse against men Owens women marry, which is a key factor in the movie. And you have to admit, a pretty good plot point. The book is just sort of a slice of life look at the Owens women with a little bit of ‘magic’ sprinkled in here and there. Gillian does run away and Sally does marry and get widowed.

However, in the book, Sally also leaves the nameless little Massachusetts town after losing her husband, moving to Long Island where she leads a normal, boring life and raises two kids, one of whom is an extreme bitch and the other of whom has been beaten down to a mousy pulp by her elder, bitchy sister. The younger child is semi-likeable. The elder is not, even taking into account that they’re both teenagers. I found it too hard to care about either of them.

I actually found it hard to care about either Sally or Gillian too, sad to say. Gillian’s life is a mess and she blames everyone but herself, something I’m far too familiar with in real life and don’t want to deal with in a book. Sally is just…uptight. And a little sanctimonious.

I was really disappointed that there didn’t seem to be much magic in the book, just sort of hints to it. And Gary Hallet, who plays a pretty large and central role to the movie, is barely there at all. There’s not much in the way of character development for him either. Nor is there for Ben Frye, who ends up winning Gillian’s heart.

I wish I’d spent my money buying the movie rather than the book. On that note, why in the world is the electronic version more expensive than the paperback version?! That makes no sense whatsoever. Unfortunately, this book was a strikeout for me and there doesn’t seem to be much new on the horizon. Hopefully Peace Talks or the latest Simon R. Green will be out soon. Until then, I’ll be rereading some of my good stuff. Rating: D-. Wish I could return it and it didn’t add anything to the movie.