Snared by Jennifer Estep

snaredYou have to admire the way Estep manages to keep this series fresh and captivating after so many books and years.

There are still so many nooks and crannies to explore when it comes to Gin & Co. Plenty of secrets to uncover, and most importantly there is always an adversary waiting just behind the corner to try and eliminate The Spider.

In this 16th book in the Elemental Assassin series Gin has to find a criminal of the more everyday garden variety. A serial killer with a penchant for pretty blondes.

Now we all know Gin is a sucker when it comes to helping people, regardless of who they are. When one of the mob bosses approaches her for help finding her sister, she doesn’t even think twice about lending a hand.

At some point during the investigation Gin figures out that someone is pulling strings behind the scenes, she just isn’t sure whether they are trying to divert attention away from the killer or simply pointing her in the right direction.

Then there is the whole Hugh Tucker thing, it’s interesting. It sort of makes you wonder why he keeps stacking the deck in her favour. There must be more to it than simply liking Mama Snow. It’s not just my imagination right?

Estep knows exactly how to thrill and enthral both new readers and readers who have been following Gin and her Merry Band of Misfits from the very beginning. It is urban fantasy with a slice of snark and topped with a cherry full of violence, courtesy of our very own quirky assassin.

Buy Snared at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Unraveled by Jennifer Estep

unraveledThis is book 15 of the Elemental Assassin series by Estep. If you haven’t read any of the series yet then I can only recommend it. The great thing is that all of the books can be read as stand-alone novels.

In this book we get to see fun Gin and not just the assassin. In fact the whole gang has a right good giggle.

Nothing says friends quite like a vampire using social media to make sure your most embarrassing moment is captured online for eternity. I the way Gin and Co, can be in the middle of a really dangerous and life-threatening moment, and yet still find time to make jokes at each others expense,

This story takes place not long after the disastrous family reunion between Finn and his loving mother. Yes, loving mother is absolutely said with a tongue in cheek.

Finn finds himself on the receiving end of gifts from both parents. One has left an enigma wrapped in a puzzle and the other has left him his very own theme park. A western park, equipped with gun-toting cowboys, hip-swinging salon girls and a sharp-shooting sheriff.

Of course nothing is ever as it seems and a simple holiday quickly turns into a race against time to save someone from death…again.

I like the way Estep has been developing the back-story about Gin’s mother. A bit here and a little bit there has grown into a whole new dimension of opposition. Gin has a new enemy to sink her teeth into, and at the same time the reader gets to experience her reminiscing. Gin as the child before tragedy changes her life forever, but hey it also makes her the assassin we all enjoy reading about.

As always it was an excellent read and an amusing one at that.

Buy Unraveled (Elemental Assassin #15) at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

For more by Jennifer Estep read: Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) and Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) or Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) of the Black Blade series.

Or read more of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series here: UnwantedSpider’s Trap, Poison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow, Bitter Bite, Deadly Sting and Heart of Venom.

Unwanted by Jennifer Estep

unwantedThis is an add-on novella to the Elemental Assassin series, part 14.5. It focuses solely on The Spider’s stepbrother Finn.

Finnegan tends to play a solid but smaller role in the series, so it was nice to see Finnegan have his own time in the spotlight. Gin is such a strong character that the others often tend to sink into obscurity.

Still reeling from the betrayal in Bitter Bite (Elemental Assassin #14), Finn is finding it hard to spend time with anyone. He feels as if he has let everyone down, and in doing so he has caused the deaths of many good people. He has blood on his hands.

His boss seems to want to prolong his suffering by insisting that Finn be at every single funeral for each person killed in the raid. Being confronted with so much hatred is enough to drive anyone to desperation.

Finn finds himself dragged into an unexpected situation, which he has to or rather wants to solve by himself.

It will be interesting to see whether the events of Bitter Bite change the way Finn interacts with his friends and family in the future. Will this make him just a little bit harder and a lot more cynical?

It’s short and sweet, but with Estep’s usual flair for memorable characters and strong story-lines.

Buy Unwanted at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

For more by Jennifer Estep read: Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) and Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) or Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) of the Black Blade series.

Or read more of Estep’s Elemental Assassin series here: Spider’s Trap, Poison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow, Bitter Bite, Deadly Sting and Heart of Venom.

Bright Blaze of Magic by Jennifer Estep

blazeBright Blaze of Magic is the third and apparently the final instalment in the YA urban fantasy Black Blade series by Estep.

I am sorry to see it go, I have really been enjoying the Black Blade series. It is energetic, funny, ticks all the boxes for urban fantasy and is suitably YA without being over-the-top candy flossy.

The characters are strong and well-developed, although I have to say for me the real star of the book is the lochnessy monster under the bridge. It definitely steals the spotlight from Lila.

Little Miss Merriweather has come a long way since the first book. From thief, to bodyguard and now she is expected to save the day, the monsters and all the families. No pressure at all then.

Lila and gang have been working hard to thwart Victor Draconi and his nefarious black blade plans. Unfortunately they haven’t really thought everything through. The one day of the year when every member of each family is most vulnerable is when you should expect an attack, no?

Their attempt to stop Draconi leads to an escalation, deaths and the possible annihilation of the Sinclair family. Lila sees an opportunity to get revenge for the Sterling family and to save her new family.

In this book Lila makes a connection to an unusual set of allies with the help of her aunt. I wish this had happened sooner, because it has such great potential for a plot. The monsters collaborating with the magically inclined, now that would have made a great fourth book.

As always Estep takes the reader on a wild ride through a world of elemental magic, monsters, mobsters and the occasional fruit throwing tree troll. It’s fast paced and highly enjoyable.

Buy Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) and Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2)

More of the Estep’s Elemental Assassin series here: Spider’s Trap, Poison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow and Heart of Venom.

Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep

bitterBitter Bite has the same zest and power, as the first Gin B. novels. Nice to see Estep and Gin back on track and not pulling any punches.

In the Spider’s Trap the reader was left with big cliffhanger of a dead mother being just a wee bit alive. Unfortunately for Gin Finn’s very much alive mother is back in town and ready to connect with her son.

Finn is drawn to her like a moth to light, perhaps completely normal for someone who had to grow up without a mother. He sees her through red-tinted glasses instead of listening to warnings and sage advice, especially when it all seems to be coming from Gin.

Finnegan and Gin are family, perhaps not blood, but family all the same. The appearance of mommy dearest threatens to tear apart not only their close relationship, but also the legacy Fletcher left behind for them.

This time the reader gets a lot of new information related to Gin and the deaths of her family members. Everything leads back to the mysterious new baddies on the block, although Finn’s mother does quite a good job of filling the baddie shoes.

Estep does not disappoint with the newest fast paced part of the Elemental Assassin series.

Buy Bitter Bite at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Spider’s Trap by Jennifer Estep

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Getting another glimpse of the young Gin before she evolved into the Spider is always quite interesting. The reader gets a chance to understand her motivation a little bit better, and just how much Fletcher shaped her as an assassin and as a person.

This time it isn’t quite as obvious whether Gin has a new nemesis or not, because neither the target nor the intention of the new enemy is clear. Snippets of memory are dragging on Gin’s subconscious. Her gut feeling is trying to warn her and make her remember something she has locked away in a tidy little box in her head. It’s strange that Gin feels guilt rather than a sense of empathy with the actual target of the attacks. They have a lot in common, and yet perceive each other as enemies.

As a reader you can still feel the ripple of mega Mab being gone. So far not one person has lived up her evil scheming ways and ice-cold heart. Gin is just chewing them up and spitting them out like old bubble gum. Estep needs to make sure to keep the story fresh for long time readers and intriguing enough that new readers want to go back to the beginning. It’s time for a real challenge and not just another ode to her greatness.

Estep slips in the next potential threat in a very subtle way. A person who will certainly wreak havoc on Gin’s family and friends, Can’t wait to see the fallout from that in the next book.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.
To read more about the The Elemental Assassin series by Jennifer Estep: The Cold Burn of Magic, The Poison Promise, The SpiderThe Black Widow, Heart of Venom and Deadly Sting.

Cold Burn of Magic by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn

For Estep readers, who know the Gin Blanco ‘Spider’ series, you will know what I mean when I say Lila is kind of like a very young Gin. An abundance of energy with a will of steel, a tragic past and a need for vengeance.

Much like Gin, Lila also has a sort of mentor and guide, who watches over the orphan and her best interests. I think it is both interesting and surprising the way Estep has created a new character in an old environment. Indeed the popular recipe will probably work again, but I would really enjoy seeing her branch out and risk a few steps in new directions.

Of course that doesn’t detract from the fact this is a good story for both younger and older readers. A good old YA Urban Fantasy filled with magic and monsters. A reboot for Gin lovers.

Lila has made herself believe she doesn’t need any family, but I think deep inside she understands how much she needs Mo and now perhaps even the members of her new employer’s family. Everyone underestimates her powers and talents. Most importantly they have no idea just how tough she is under her girly exterior.

Despite having a healthy respect for her dangerous surroundings and the monsters lurking in the dark, she still has trouble controlling her gut reactions. It certainly does make for some awkward situations.

On a more personal note, I think I could do with my very own pixie to make my bed nd bring me treats. Where can I buy one? I will even take a bolshy one like Oscar. Added bonus to the story has to be the monster under the bridge. I need to make sure to take coins with me to pay the toll. Just in case.
I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley.

Buy Cold Burn of Magic ( Black Blade #1) at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2) and Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3).

More of the Estep’s Elemental Assassin series here: Spider’s Trap, Poison PromiseThe SpiderThe Black Widow and Heart of Venom.

Poison Promise by Jennifer Estep

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Why is it someone so clever, strong and streetwise always manages to end up being captured by the local psycho? You would think y now she would spend a lot more time listening to her inner alarms, then again maybe Gin just doesn’t have any. this time the torture flips a switch inside of her.

The torture or rather the effects of BURN seem to facilitate the opening of a door in Gin’s psyche. The flow of emotional baggage seems hard to ebb now it has started rolling over Gin like an avalanche down a mountain. She is confronted with her inner Pandora’s box of secrets and emotions she would rather not think about, hence locking them up deep inside.

Gin goes all omnipotent in her battle against the drug-lord, perhaps a wee bit over the top. Her reputation and her ego are placing her at the same level as her opponents. She is going to have to watch those boundaries from this moment forward, because if not it will eventually become very hard to differentiate between her and the bad guys.

I also think that Gin was and is surprised by the similarities between herself and her younger sister. Not in a good way either. Bria acting as if everyone is expendable to achieve a means to an end, despite the fact Gin often does the same I do believe it came as a bit of a shock to her.

Meanwhile in the midst of this new conflict it becomes clear how Gin is stepping into the footsteps of Fletcher. She is building a team, quite a large and very highly skilled team, without even fully acknowledging that fact. Her family and friends have always been around her and willing to support, save or rescue her, but this is starting to feel different.

At the end of the book we get to meet the new muscle in town. Literally the new and next generation of villains. I think Estep will try to bring back some of the Mab/Gin mortal combat magic, which always worked well for the characters and the series.

I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

Heart of Venom by Jennifer Estep

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After the lukewarm performance of the previous book in this series I am happy to say that both Gin and Estep have got their groove back.

After the unfortunate demise of Mab, Gin has been in dire need of a worthy opponent. The psycho sibling villain combo in this book fit the bill quite nicely. Gin has to settle an old debt from the Fletcher’s past. She gets all gung-ho and forest ninja to try to save an old friend.

I liked the fact that the author took Gin back to her feisty murderous self in this story. She doesn’t spend an entire book wondering about Owen or beating herself up about killing Salina. Gin goes back to her old mantra of some people just deserve to die and she is the one that should help them on their way.

After all the hardcore Spider action I wasn’t overly keen on the way the book ended, but who cares Gin got her groove back. It is a Gin with a huge slice of humanity bouncing round inside her though and I wonder whether that will have some impact on her insect antics further on down the line.
A cracking read.
I received a copy of this book via Edelweiss courtesy of the publisher.

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Deadly Sting by Jennifer Estep

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I have to be honest I kind of miss big bad Mab. Things were so much more fun when Gin was always trying to find a way to slay that nasty piece of work. Gin needs another arch-enemy asap.

Now you may wonder why I think that, well that’s because I think there were far too many giants in this story. In fact the author seems to have forgotten that there are actually other supernatural beings or elementals who could serve as villains. It made this all a bit one-dimensional. It was just all a bit easy for Gin.

True it might have been because the whole scenario takes place in the space of one night, which I must admit is quite an interesting concept. Gin does her version of Bruce Willis in Die Hard.

Owen deserves a slap round the face with a wet kipper as far as I am concerned. Talk about being a drama diva. He needs to wake up and smell the roses before Gin moves on to greener pastures. In fact I think the author should introduce a new hot-blooded male, preferably dark and dangerous, to get her pulse racing and to make Owen reconsider his actions. Gin needs someone who will accept her regardless of the fact she might have to kill the odd ex-girlfriend of her boyfriend’s. I mean that could happen to anyone right?

This did feel like an interim book. Sort of an in between morsel till the next. After the book with the epic showdown with Mab and Owen acting like a complete plonker, any book after that was going to have trouble living up to the hype. Not as strong as the previous ones perhaps, but one that fans will lap up anyway. I think Estep is keeping all her eggs in a basket for the next one in the series.
I received a free copy of this book via Edelweiss.