‘She’s nailed the tone of her characters’. @deBieJennifer reviews #Ya #Fantasy Kill Karma by Kelly L. Marsh

Today’s team review is from Jenni. She blogs here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading Kill Karma by Kelly L. Marsh

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There is a fabulous energy to Kelly L. Marsh’s debut novel, Kill Karma. Yes, it very much reads like a first novel: the plot is a little messy, the mythology could stand a little more explaining in the early portions, and the characters don’t always quite act like the teenagers that they are supposed to be, but all of that can be laid aside because Kill Karma is pretty darn fun.

Pepper Bell is a teenager with a penchant for getting into and out of tight spots, Karma is a goddess Pepper doesn’t know exists yet, and someone out there wants to make a whole heap trouble for Pepper, her hometown, and the world. Along for the ride are a colorful cast of sometimes-trustworthy characters and expect a cliffhanger because you can bet your behind this is the first in a series.

If I started explaining the plot more than that, we’d end up in either spoiler or confusion territory— like I said, there are some story threads that could be a little tighter— so  I won’t go further with the specifics. Like I also said, this is a debut novel. This is Marsh’s first novel, and the first in a series. She has plenty of time to practice plotlines in later installments. The important thing is that she’s nailed the tone of her characters and the feel of her world, and that the vim and vigor she brings to this first installment is more than enough to get the ball rolling.

Written with an undeniably infectious energy, Kill Karma is not flawless, but is definitely fun enough to keep a reader hooked from the stakeout that opens the story, to the boat chase that closes it. Kelly Marsh has created a new YA heroine with spunk and a world with style, and this reader can’t wait to see what happens next!


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When Pepper turned seventeen, she expected to be released from probation and maybe even have a party. So, trekking through the pits of Hell, joining a squadron of assassins, and fighting demons was never part of the plan…

Pepper Li Bell has a high aptitude and talent that, in the past, she used exclusively to get into trouble. Despite the terms of her probation, she decided to use that knowledge and prowess to become an entrepreneur of sorts, beginning a karma-for-hire business. Pepper can’t stand to see karma go unserved, so when oppressors dodge justice, she’s ready to uncover their dirty little secrets—for a fee, of course.

But on her latest job, when she uncovers an insidious plot that’s been brewing for a decade, and now, it’s on the verge of fruition, Pepper is in way over her head. Demons have set up shop in her small Florida town, peddling soul contracts and possessing her neighbors. They await orders set for doomsday—All Hallows’ Eve—when the nefarious Syndicate will be unleashed from Hell, turning the forces of darkness loose and declaring war on Earth. The only thing standing in their way is goddess Karma, who wields the Scales of Justice, ensuring balance throughout the realms, and her assassins.

After unearthing secrets from her past, Pepper realizes she just might hold the key to bringing the demonic regime to its knees and saving everyone she knows and loves. The fate of Karma, every magical being, and all of humanity rest on her young shoulders…but can she rise to the challenge in time?

Armageddon is brewing, and Pepper is in the eye of the storm.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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The Thirteen Gates: Apprentice by Elton Gahr. Reviewed by Jenni for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Jenni

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Jenni has been reading The Thirteen Gates by Elton Gahr.

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Elton Gahr’s The Thirteen Gates: Apprentice reads like a juvenile novel.

When I say that, I don’t mean that it reads like a novel for juveniles or young adults – though that is obviously the age group it is geared towards—but rather the juvenile production of a young author, one who still hasn’t grasped the nuance of ‘show, don’t tell’, the finer points of foreshadowing, or the basics of plot structure.

In many reviews, this is where I would say something about how writing a novel is hard, it’s an arduous process and finesse comes with practice but Gahr has upwards of 15 distinct works according to his Goodreads page, so I’m not sure practice is the answer here.

The plot of Thirteen Gates follows teenaged Quinn, an accidental apprentice wizard, his best friend Tim (a Samwise Gamgee allusion who is introduced as such in literally the first chapter), and Hanna, an ifrit who maybe wants to kill the boys. Guiding from beyond the grave is Nate, a real wizard who sets the friends on their quest through a series of journals bequeathed to young Quinn in Nate’s will. Over the course of the novel our protagonists bound easily in and out of Gates that we’re told take decades to learn to traverse easily. These Gates lead to alternate worlds that we’re told can be deadly to the uninformed, but seem to mostly be populated by beings willing to help our protagonists once things are explained to them. The entire novel culminates in a showdown in New York City against the denizens of Olympus where, again, Quinn saves the day by doing something we’re told is extremely difficult and takes decades if not centuries to learn.

There are some interesting pieces to Thirteen Gates, but there are also strong intimations of other, better, YA fantasy books, like Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter, and The Mortal Instruments. If the author could mature into his writing and shape those pieces properly, there might be an exciting novel somewhere in the mix, but for my own preference, I’d just as soon re-read The Lightning Thief instead.


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The day that Nate died everything changed for Quinn. His long term mentor had helped him through the death of his father and far more. It also changed for everyone else, because Nate was a wizard who had closed the thirteen gates five hundred years ago. And now with his death those gates have opened and magic has returned to the world.

With corrupt wizards, monsters, fae, jinn and nameless elder abominations returning the world is almost entirely unprepared, but unbeknown to him Nate was teaching Quinn far more than it had first appeared. By convincing him to read books that explored the gods of Olympus, the adventures in Wonderland and many others he was teaching Quinn to be a wizard while hoping that the day the boy would need to learn to use magic might never come.
Now Quinn must prove that he isn’t a murderer, learn to control magic and protect the world from powers it hasn’t faced in five hundred years all while avoiding being killed by his best friend’s ex girlfriend.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @AlisonW_Editor reviews #Fantasy KEEPERS by @sacha_black

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Keepers by Sacha Black


This is the first in the Eden East Novels series and the first of the author’s novels. Eden is a Fallon – a royal Keeper whose role it is to ensure Balance in the world of Trutinor. The Keepers have different powers and are either Elementals, Shifters, Sirens or Sorcerers. Eden, an Elemental, is destined to be bound forever to another Fallon – a Shifter for whom she feels no attraction. But it isn’t up to her. Things change when there is a murder, and when Trey, a Siren who was Eden’s close childhood friend, reappears after a long absence, and confuses Eden further. They are forced together as they try to find the killers and avoid a fate that could have far-reaching consequences.

The author builds her world compellingly. There are some really well-crafted scenes here and the dialogue is, on the whole, authentic. Eden is a strong yet sympathetic main character and it’s always great to have strong female leads, whatever the genre. And Eden is also a character that a reader will care about – her strength is balanced well with her vulnerability, which adds depth to the narrative.

The writing is technically sound, and the plot has enough intrigue, mystery and surprises to hold the reader’s attention.

There were a few places where I felt the writing could be tightened a bit, and where the focus was too heavily on Eden’s reactions and feeling. There were also lots of characters that it was sometimes hard to keep track of. I do have a problem with fantasy books in that I always find the characters’ names and the names of imaginary places distracting– but I do appreciate that this goes with the territory. The definitions of the terms and traditions/conventions of Trutinor were also very long.

That said, this is a solid first novel from a debut author, and Eden has great potential for future books in the series.

Four out of five stars

Book description


Saving the world is easy: all Eden has to do is die.

Seventeen-year-old Eden East’s life is perfect… until her soul is bound to her worst nightmare. Then her parents are brutally murdered, and everyone’s a suspect, including her best friend.

As her world spirals out of control, a charismatic Siren, from a past she can’t remember, returns offering help, hope, and a heap of distractions.

Eden must put aside her grief to solve the mystery of her parents’ murder. In a race against time, can she break the binding to her enemy before he destroys her and her world?

Three lives.
Two murdered parents.
One deadly choice.

About the author

Sacha Black has five obsessions; words, expensive shoes, conspiracy theories, self-improvement, and breaking the rules. She also has the mind of a perpetual sixteen-year-old, only with slightly less drama and slightly more bills.

Sacha writes books about people with magical powers and other books about the art of writing. She lives in Hertfordshire, England, with her wife and genius, giant of a son.

When she’s not writing, she can be found laughing inappropriately loud, blogging, sniffing musty old books, fangirling film and TV soundtracks, or thinking up new ways to break the rules.

Sacha de Black

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