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The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Review: Lost Causes by Mia Marshall

Lost Causes
Author:  Mia Marshall
Series:   Elements 4
Publisher:  Match Books, September 22, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 354 pages
List Price:  $12.99 (print); $3.99 (Kindle eBook)
ISBN:  9780996628419 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

Review: Lost Causes by Mia Marshall
Aidan Brook has spent months living with the horror of what happened when she lost control of her magic. Now she’s searching for a way to manage her immense power, but she only hits one dead end after another.

On the run from a council intent on her death, Aidan, the bear shifter Mac, and the rest of her friends find themselves on a desperate chase across deserts and oceans in search of answers. Along the way, they encounter a living myth and a dual magic with secrets of his own—and they learn that the cure may be more deadly than the disease.

To save her own life, Aidan will need to confront the most dangerous foe she’s ever faced…herself.

Melanie's Thoughts

Lost Causes picks up almost immediately after the shocking events at the end of Turning Tides where Aiden loses control of her dual magics and kills someone.....a bad someone but she kills nonetheless. Along with her friends she is now on the run from the council in search of another dual who can help her learn to control her growing powers and stop her from going crazy.

I struggle to adequately describe how Marshall has structured the plot of Lost Causes. It starts out fairly linear with Aiden's race across the country to find another dual magic user all while being chased by the council. When she actually finds another dual she learns that the cure to stopping her magics from ripping her mind apart could actually kill her. At this point the story veers off into a slightly different direction. It is at this juncture where we learn about the 'first power' the beings that created the elementals and the shifters. This plotline continues for several more chapters when the switch gets flipped again and the plot returns to the council's pursuit of Aiden. Marshall does keep a frenetic pace to the story but not at the expense of character development, well the development of Aiden and Sera. There is an interesting plot twist in store for Sera that I didn't really see coming and therefore, enjoyed all the more. I thought that Marshall could have spent a bit more time with some of the other characters but she has developed them as a cohesive group of supporting characters that help to advance the plot. I think that Marshall also takes pity on us and resolves the 'will they/won't they' between Aiden and her bear shifter boyfriend Mac.

Lost Causes is a very enjoyable read. I slipped right back into the story as if I had just finished book 3 minutes before. It is also a very quick read despite all the action and adventure that takes place. Marshall does seem to wrap the plot arc up with a bow at the end, but there is one more book in the series to go. I am interested to see what Marshall has in store for these characters in the fifth and final novel in the Elements series.


Broken Elements
Elements 1
Match Books, February 26, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 338 pages

Review: Lost Causes by Mia Marshall
Magic, murder, and mayhem on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

For Aidan Brook, manipulating the power of water is as easy as breathing—until the awful night her magic fails, with deadly consequences.

Though Aidan tries to outrun her past, the grisly murder of an old friend draws her back to the scene of her crimes. In Lake Tahoe, she only finds more trouble. An estranged best friend, a dangerously attractive landlord, and a couple of FBI agents are determined to complicate her life…and for the first time in years, she doesn’t mind a few complications.

As the killer grows increasingly fixated on Aidan, her past and present begin to collide. To defeat the killer, she must learn to control her power—before her broken magic fails her for the final time.

BROKEN ELEMENTS is the first book in the award-winning Elements urban fantasy series.

Shifting Selves
Elements 2
Match Books, April 15, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 351 pages

Review: Lost Causes by Mia Marshall
Aidan Brook’s world was shattered when she uncovered long-buried secrets about her past. Secrets that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

Now, she craves peace and quiet, but that’s not an option when local children start vanishing. Soon, Aidan is drawn deep into the shifter world…a place where elementals like herself are decidedly unwelcome. To track the missing children, these longtime enemies must work together without too many claw marks or too much fur flying. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter, and Aidan’s life is anything but peaceful.

As Aidan and her friends zero in on the kidnapper, they discover Aidan isn’t the only one with secrets—or the only one who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden…

SHIFTING SELVES won the RT Award for best indie urban fantasy!

Turning Tides
Elements 3
Match Books, May 6, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 344 pages

Review: Lost Causes by Mia Marshall
Aidan Brook committed one too many magical crimes. Now, the water council insists she answer for them. Before they can deliver a verdict that will change her life, one of theirs is gruesomely murdered—and Aidan’s best friend is accused of the crime.

Before the body cools, Aidan is racing against the clock to prove Sera’s innocence. To make matters worse, her favorite bear shifter is struggling with the dangerous bond they now share. Aidan will do whatever it takes to save her friends…but the cost may be higher than she can pay.

A little murder, a little magic, and family and friends to help her through it all. On the outside, it looks like a typical Aidan Brook day, but she’s about to discover, when the tides start to turn, even a water elemental can’t control what happens next.

Review: Turning Tides by Mia Marshall

Turning Tides
Author:  Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 3
Publisher:  Match Books, May 6, 2014
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 344 pages
List Price:  $12.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976160 (print)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Author

Review: Turning Tides by Mia Marshall
Aidan Brook is hours away from a peaceful life. Once she accepts her future as a banished elemental, she can leave her family’s island and return to Lake Tahoe, where she’ll spend the rest of her days controlling her magic in a calm, stress-free environment. That plan hits a snag when a member of the elementals’ governing body is murdered—and Aidan’s best friend is accused of the crime.

Before the body cools, Aidan is racing against the clock to prove Sera’s innocence. To make matters worse, she must face the consequences of the bond she now shares with her favorite bear shifter—all while her sanity grows less predictable by the day.

Magic, murder, and mayhem: it may look like a typical Aidan Brook day, but she’s about to discover, when the tides start to turn, even a water elemental can’t control what happens next.

Melanie's Thoughts

I came across the Elements series by Mia Marshall quite by accident and really enjoyed the first two books Shifting Shelves and Broken Elements. I was really excited when I was given the opportunity to read an ARC of Turning Tides which is the third book in the series.

In this instalment Aiden has been forced to face the music and is back on the island where she grew up to face possible banishment from her family and her childhood home. She is on trial for events that occurred in the previous books that exposed the elementals to humanity. Everything changes when one of the councillors proceeding over her trial is quite gruesomely murdered in front of everyone. Her friend and fire elemental, Sera is accused of the crime and Aiden has only 3 days to prove Sera's innocence.  Her work cut out for her as the body count rises. Just to make her investigation more of a challenge her friends turn up with another puzzle to solve. Its not long before almost the whole gang is back together including her cat shifter friend Simon and the exceeding cute but equally foul mouthed otter shifter Miriam. They have brought Aiden's 'honey' and shifter bear Mac who has been ill ever since Aiden left for the island.  In between finding a killer Aiden has to cure Mac from a bad case of separation anxiety. If you have read the previous books you will know that Mac and Aiden are having as what can only be described as a 'slow burn' romance. We get teased in each book as they come closer and closer but it still continues at a snail's pace. To round out the Aiden fan club are her father, the fire elemental Josiah along with the FBI agent Carmichael and earth elemental Vivian who is helping out from afar. Despite having her friends close by finding the murderer isn't going to be easy and leads her closer and closer to the insanity that plagues those with dual elements. This could be the final straw that pushes Aiden to the point of no return.

I was surprised to learn that Marshall had another book out so soon as I thought she was taking time away from Aiden and friends to work on another series. Needless to say I was high fiving myself when I was offered the chance to review this ARC. I really like Aiden as a character and who wouldn't want friends who turned into cats and otters? Aiden has also grown up and not quite so wise cracky as in the previous books but that's not to say that there aren't so funny lines, as there are. The humour is more balanced with the dark and murderous events that play out as she battles with the duality of her elements - fire and water. I was quite surprised at some of the events towards the end of the book, to the point where I thought that Aiden may have crossed a few too many lines. Having said that it does keep the story fresh and avoids Aiden from being too one dimensional and virtuous. The events in this novel really work well for creating spin off story lines for future novels. Marshall just about hits everything right with Turning Tides with development of an interesting and funny lead character, equally interesting and funny secondary characters, a great murder mystery and the ramifications from making difficult decisions. I hope that Marshall can keep the pace in future novels and doesn't drag out potential romance between Aiden and Mac or her potential decline into insanity. Please don't leave me too long to find out what happens to Aiden and co. next!

p.s. LOVE the print covers!

The eBook cover:

Review: Turning Tides by Mia Marshall

Book 1
Review: Turning Tides by Mia Marshall

Book 2
Review: Turning Tides by Mia Marshall

Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall

Broken Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 1
Publisher:  Match Books, February 26, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 332 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976115 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

“It’s happening again, Aidan. We didn’t stop it, after all.”

As an elemental, Aidan Brook holds the power of water at her fingertips. A descendant of the earth’s oldest magic, she can cause tides to ebb and flow, put out house fires without calling 911, and give anyone who’s annoying her an impromptu shower.

But even her magic has its limits. After it fails her one terrible night, she hides from the world and everyone she once loved, trying to escape the memories that haunt her. Ten years later, her exile is brought to an abrupt end when her former best friend appears on her front porch. An elemental killer is once again murdering her friends, and she must return to the scene of her own crimes.

Lake Tahoe proves more than she bargained for. Between a sadistic killer, some clever FBI agents, an annoyingly attractive landlord, and way too many new roommates, she has a pretty full plate. Add in a past she’s desperate to escape and her own dangerously uncontrollable powers, and Aidan Brook is having a very, very bad month.

Shifting Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 2
Publisher:  Match Books, April 16, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 342 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976146 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall
You can’t fight your nature.

The cover for Shifting SelvesAidan Brook’s world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past–secrets even she didn’t know. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It’s a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.

Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

Melanie's Thoughts:

I thought I would review both of these books together as I read them one right after another. Broken Elements begins with an introduction to the main characters - Aidan and Sera although the story is told from Aidan's perspective. Both Aidan and Sera are elementals with the ability to control water and fire, respectively. Aidan has been a virtual recluse for the last decade and Sera has hunt her down in order to tell her one of their best friends has been murdered.  Aidan reluctantly agrees to return to Lake Tahoe with Sera to find the serial murderer who is has started killing again after a decade hiatus. As the story progresses we find out why Aidan has been in hiding and why the murderer has started killing again.

Book one, Broken Elements starts out with a gentle introduction to the two elementals - Aidan and Sera, the history of elementals, their society and the personal history of the pair. We are also introduced to their motley crew of friends including Simon the shape shifting cat (domestic that is), Mac the shape shifting bear and Vivian the earth elemental. The friends work together to solve the murders and in the process try not to become the serial killer's next victim. As part of the investigation Aidan discovers the identity of her father. Her mother led her to believe she was only a half breed elemental with one full blood parent (her mother) and a human father. Her mother sheltered her from almost everyone until she went to university and met Sera. Not only does she discover that she's not what she thinks she is but also the identity of her real father.

Book two starts almost immediately afterwards. This time Aidan and Sera have been asked to investigate the disappearance of two teenage shape shifters. There isn't a lot of trust between shape shifters and elementals and it takes all of their 'charm' to convince the shape shifter community that they are capable of finding their children. It isn't an easy job as being smart alecs comes a bit easier than acting competent but it does lead to some amusing scenes. One such scene comes about when Aidan discovers that there are shape shifting otters.  Both Aidan and I share a love of otters.  Who doesn't?  They are adorable. In fact I hazard to guess that some of the funniest lines I have ever read come from Aiden's first encounter with a shape shifting otter -
I wanted to treat her with the respect she was due rather than squealing about the super cute otter, but that was hard to do when I saw her face. She was in a word, adorable. Small ear, enormous, melting brown eyes, round cheeks, and a tiny button nose. I wanted to take her home and feed her and love her and pet her and call her George. Instead, I had to parlay like a reasonable adult. Life really wasn't fair.

I enjoyed these first two books of the series and looking forward to the next installment. Aidan and Sera are amusing but Marshall needs to be careful her characters don't run away with her. While the wise cracks are funny there can be too many or at times that are not convincing. Overall, Marshall has combined likeable characters and mysteries that get more complex as the series progresses. Marshall is taking a break from the Elements series to start another fantasy series but I hope she returns soon as I was just getting into what has started as an engaging series.
Review: Lost Causes by Mia MarshallReview: Turning Tides by Mia MarshallReview: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall

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