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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.



Previously

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.

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series


Please welcome Mia Marshall to The Qwillery. Lost Causes, the 4th novel in the Elements series, was published on September 22, 2015.



Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series




TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Mia:  Thanks! It’s great to be here. As for writing, I’m pretty sure I was telling stories as soon as I learned to read. I suspect they were terrible, though at the time I thought I was a genius. It was so easy then. No need for critiques or editing or even plot! I often killed people in those early stories, and there were a lot of orphans. Perhaps I haven’t changed all that much over the last few decades (though now there is editing and hopefully a plot).



TQAre you a plotter, pantser or hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Mia:  Pantser for life, though I occasionally delude myself that this time, for real, I’ll plot. Then I get distracted by a new shiny idea somewhere around chapter two and all my outline can do is whimper in pain. I like discovering the story and the characters as I go, and it’s amazing how it all comes together in the end. I’ve come to trust that my subconscious has a plan—it just rarely bothers to share it with me before the third act. I always know what the ending will be, in terms of setting up the characters and overall arc for the next book, but that’s about it.



TQDescribe Lost Causes in 140 characters or less.

Mia:  A group of elementals & shifters band together to save the day—except when they mess it all up. A mix of mystery, magic, snark, & friendship.



TQTell us something about Lost Causes that is not found in the book description.

Mia:  This book contains my favorite ending of all the books I’ve written. And I can’t say what it is without spoilers, but trust me. It’s a good ending. I might be a little biased, though.



TQIn the Elements series so far who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Mia:  Simon has always been the easiest to write. He’s a cat shifter—a house cat shifter. I’ve lived with cats my whole life and have spent too much time imagining what they’re thinking. Now I get to transcribe it.

The hardest one was Vivian, though that was way back in book 1. Most of my characters appear to me in a pretty advanced state, but she wasn’t so accommodating. Prior to being the nerdy, quiet computer genius she is now, she spent some time as an L.A. club kid and a hippie-esque earth goddess. Trust me, she’s much better as a nerdy hacker. Four books later, it’s hard to believe I ever saw her as anyone else.



TQWhich question about the Elements series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Mia:  No one’s ever asked why I chose the elemental/shifter combo. It was never really a question for me, so maybe it’s just been equally obvious to everyone else! Despite being categorized as urban fantasy, this series is set in the natural world and relies on an earth-based mythology, and these were the only magical races that felt believable as ones that could be born from the earth’s original creation magic. Vampires, demons, the fae, etc. always felt too "other", whereas I could imagine shifters & elementals always being part of this world.



TQWhat's next?

Mia:  I’m about to start editing an adventure fantasy set in a very alternate version of this world. There’s lots of action and romance and a dog called Rabbit, which are three things that probably won’t change in edits. That won’t come out till late 2016 at the earliest. Afterwards, I’ll write the fifth and final Elements book, which will come out sometime next year.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mia:  Thank you for having me!





The Elements Series
Mia Marshall's Elements series is all about magic and mayhem among the supernatural races of Lake Tahoe. Aidan Brook is the heroine, but the series also focuses on a group of friends that doubles as her makeshift family. These series is named after elementals, which were born from the very first magic and are a union between humans and the forces that created the planet. In addition to water, fire, and earth, there’s stone, desert, and ice (but no air). There are also shifters and a whole lot more going on in this world! If you haven't already gotten into the Element series, start with the first book, Broken Elements--currently free on Kindle.



Lost Causes
Elements 4
Match Books, September 22, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 354 pages

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
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.




Previously

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

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
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

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
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

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
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.




Note: The alternative Illustrated covers are still available.

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series






About Mia 

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Mia Marshall is the award-winning author of the Elements urban fantasy series. Before she started writing about imaginary worlds, she worked as a high school teacher, script supervisor, story editor, legal secretary, and day care worker. She has lived all along the US west coast and throughout the UK, where she collected an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film.
These days, she lives somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas, where she is surrounded by a small but deadly feline army.


Website  ~  Twitter @thismiamarshall


Facebook  ~  Goodreads



Interview with Suzanne Church - April 21, 2014


Please welcome author Suzanne Church to The Qwillery. Elements, Suzanne's upcoming collection, will be published on April 30, 2014 by EDGE.



Interview with Suzanne Church - April 21, 2014




TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Suzanne:  I've always imagined characters, plots, and settings in my head. Many of the ideas stuck around, clogging my brain, so I decided to write them down.

I began honing my fiction and submitting to markets after taking a writing workshop taught by Ann C. Cripsin at DragonCon in 2000. She taught me the basics of plot, character, and setting. I used her tools to bring the cast of characters in my head to life.



TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Suzanne:  I'm a little of both, actually. When I write short fiction I'm a pantser, often starting with one word, one idea, or one character. The story tends to evolve organically from there, sometimes after several massive-overhaul rewrites.

When I first started writing novels I tried the pantser approach, usually as part of my yearly participation in NaNoWriMo. Later, during the editing process for those first drafts I learned that the end result required too much of an overhaul. Now I plan out novels in more detail, using checklists and workbooks to guide me through the process.



TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Suzanne:  The daily routine of getting words on paper.

Pretty much every writing book or course will extol the virtues of writing every day. That's a tough gig for me, especially when my kids are around. I tend to work on one (or two or three) projects in clusters and then set the work on the backburner while I mull over the ideas.

As a compromise, I make sure to write at least 100 words before I call it a day, but allow myself the freedom to write practice words that aren't part of my current project.

So even though I'm not hitting the final word counts that would make me feel more productive every day, I'm always creating, even if it's more thinking than writing.



TQ:  What were some of your inspirations for the short stories in Elements? In which genres/sub-genres are the stories in Elements?

SuzanneElements includes several Science Fiction stories, a few Fantasy stories, and plenty of Horror stories. The subgenres include one steampunk story, one myth retelling, one cyberpunk trip, and some magic realism tales. I've always believed in ghosts and souls so they tend to pop up in much of my work.

As for inspiration, the majority of stories in Elements have hints of my personal experiences--places I grew up, people that influenced me, and couches I've owned.

The last story in the book was inspired by the artwork for the cover of Elements. I remember when Brian Hades the publisher at EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing sent me the artwork, I immediately told him I loved the cover. Then I asked if he'd be interested in including a story inspired by Neil Jackson's awesome cover art. Within a month we added "Soul-Hungry" to the book.

On my website, I've posted a story behind each story in Elements, including some photos of people and places that inspired the tales.



TQ:  In the stories in Elements who was the character who was the most difficult to write and why? The easiest and why? Which character surprised you the most?

Suzanne:  The most difficult character for me to write was Prime Minister Tecmessa in "The Flower Gathering." She's in charge of the colony on Titan but she's also a mother. Like mothers everywhere, she struggles to balance work and family. When she's faced with one of the most difficult events a mother can experience, I wanted to be sure to live in her head, feeling the emotions she was feeling; we moms have to stick together after all. When I was writing some of those scenes I'd either cry or get so emotional I'd have to take a break. And because the story is so long (almost 11,000 words) it took ages to edit it to a version that I was happy with.

The easiest character was probably Tank Lazier from "Everyone Needs a Couch." He's a writer and a loser and pretty much nothing goes his way. I've walked enough miles in Tanker's shoes that I can slip into his head pretty easily, as well as into the head of his ex-girlfriend Lorna, who tells their story from her point of view in "Waste Management."

The character that surprised me the most was probably Wanda in "Storm Child," which is ironic considering the story is a myth retelling and the base plotline came from a folktale. Probably what surprised me was how quickly Wanda evolved from the original Rwandan story. Wanda, Tom and Miseke--their farm, their lives, their history-- simply popped into my head one afternoon when I sat down to write the first draft. The final version is pretty similar to that first draft.



TQ:  In your biography, you mention that you're annual volunteer job as a reporter for the Daily Dragon. What draws you to DragonCon?

Suzanne:  As I explained above, I took my first writing workshop at DragonCon in 2000. Almost all of the participants in that workshop are still active members of my DC2K Writing group and they continue to inspire me, motivate me, and critique my work. Many of us volunteer each year as writers and copyeditors of The Daily Dragon, the official newspaper of DragonCon. Our editor, Eugie Foster, also took the 2000 workshop and her career has been so amazing since then, including winning the Nebula in 2009 for her Novelette "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast."

The best part of the convention--the reason I'm so eager to return year after year--is to chill with my writing group friends and catch up on all of our projects from the past year. To me, it feels like a family reunion. Plus, the costumes at DragonCon are as plentiful as they are breathtaking.



TQ:  What's next?

Suzanne:  It seems like I'm always working on one piece of fiction or another.

I'm shopping a couple of novels, both in the Young Adult Fantasy category. Since I'm fairly new to the novel format, I feel as though I have more to learn about crafting and marketing that length. On the other hand, I'm enthusiastic about my prospects, especially after receiving a couple of grants to work on one of the books.

I'll also continue to write short fiction because it's fun to write and I enjoy the thrill of having new work published every year. 2014 is a great time to be writing short fiction, especially when publishers like EDGE SF& F continue to produce so many quality anthologies



TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Suzanne:  Thanks for having me. I enjoyed answering these insightful questions.





Elements: A Collection of Speculative Fiction
EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy, April 30, 2014
Trade Paperback, 272 pages
Cover Illustration by Neil Jackson

Interview with Suzanne Church - April 21, 2014
Award winning author Suzanne Church’s cast of distinct characters asks “What if?” in this collection of science fiction, fantasy, and horror short fiction.

Can humanity survive an ice age? Will the storm man steal Wanda’s baby? When will Bob and Sebbee escape the relentless march of the Lost Circle? What is the cause of the taint in Faya’s courted ice? If you can’t escape hell, can you at least afford a trip on a teleporting couch?

Church infuses emotion into every tale. Whether quirky or horrific, the prose deftly snatches the reader onto a whirlwind expedition of laughter and sorrow.





About Suzanne

Interview with Suzanne Church - April 21, 2014
Suzanne Church juggles her time between throwing her characters to the lions and chillin’ like a villain with her two sons. She writes Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror because she enjoys them all and hates to play favorites. Her award-winning fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld, Cicada and On Spec, and in several anthologies including Urban Green Man and When the Hero Comes Home 2. Her book ELEMENTS: A Collection of Speculative Fiction is available at bookstores (April 1 in Canada and April 30 in the US) and Amazon from EDGE Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.



Website  ~  Twitter @canadiansuzanne  ~  Goodreads


Review: Lost Causes by Mia MarshallInterview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements seriesInterview with Suzanne Church - April 21, 2014

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