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review 2017-02-23 16:42
Spider's Bite / Jennifer Estep
Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep

My name is Gin, and I kill people.

They call me the Spider. I'm the most feared assassin in the South — when I'm not busy at the Pork Pit cooking up the best barbecue in Ashland. As a Stone elemental, I can hear everything from the whispers of the gravel beneath my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachian Mountains above me. My Ice magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don't use my powers on the job unless I absolutely have to. Call it professional pride.

Now that a ruthless Air elemental has double-crossed me and killed my handler, I'm out for revenge. And I'll exterminate anyone who gets in my way — good or bad. I may look hot, but I'm still one of the bad guys. Which is why I'm in trouble, since irresistibly rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this coldhearted killer needs when I'm battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction... especially when Donovan wants me dead just as much as the enemy.

 

I decided to start this series as the author will be attending a conference that I am registered for this summer. I like to have a feel for the work of the featured guests before the event.

If you are enamoured of urban fantasy, as I am, I would recommend this book to you. If, on the other hand, you find UF tiresome, pass this series by. For those of us who enjoy the genre, this is an acceptable series, with a number of good ideas.

Good ideas: (1) A female assassin. With magical powers, although she tries not to rely on them. (2) An interesting elemental magic scheme. (3) Gin (our assassin friend) is confident, competent & doesn’t even pretend that she’s a loner. She has friends who are like family & freely admits it.

The stuff that didn’t work so well for me? (1) The repetition. How many times do we need to be told where Gin carries all of her knives? Or how much she loves all of her knives? (2) The novel was filled with UF clichés, e.g. the main character has a tragic & damaging past (shades of Batman), she has a “code” (à la Dexter or Spademan in Shovel Ready). (3) Of course she is romantically interested in a policeman, he is as self-righteous as she is pragmatic, and every time she lays eyes on him all she can think about is sex

(but her little feelings are hurt when they eventually have sex & he still dislikes her).

(spoiler show)


The set-up of Gin’s world is a little grittier and darker than I would normally choose. Sexual situations are just part of the background (lots of prostitutes & their clients) and often described more graphically than other UF series that I have read. I realize that it is just part of Gin’s “wrong side of the tracks” world, but it grated on me a bit.

Still, I liked the book and will continue with the series, both to see if Gin can “go straight” with her restaurant business (I assuming not entirely or the series is named wrong) and if she does, whether Detective Caine will unbend a bit and meet her in the middle.

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text 2017-02-17 16:19
To pick up at the library on the way home....
Agent of Change - Sharon Lee,Steve Miller
The Conjoined: A Novel - Jen Sookfong Lee
Fire Touched - Patricia Briggs
Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man - David Fisher,William Shatner
Skinwalker - Faith Hunter
The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 3 - Holly Black,Peter S. Beagle,Stephen Baxter,Stephen King,Hannu Rajaniemi,Jeff VanderMeer,Meghan McCarron,Ted Kosmatka,Rachel Swirsky,Ken Scholes,Richard Bowes,Ted Chiang,Robert Reed,Elizabeth Bear,Kij Johnson,Paolo Bacigalupi,M. Rickert,Margo Lanagan,Maure
Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep
The Fall of the House of Wilde: Oscar Wilde and His Family - Emer O'Sullivan
Seven Skeletons: The Evolution of the World's Most Famous Human Fossils - Lydia V. Pyne

I will undoubtedly have plenty to read this weekend!  And it is a long weekend, Monday being Family Day here in Alberta.

 

Happy Friday everyone and enjoy the weekend.

 

Wanda

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review 2016-08-08 17:23
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep

Gin Blanco is a stone elemental and an assassin known as the Spider. She also works part time at the Pork Pit in Ashland, at the junction of North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. A job goes south when she discovers she has been set up and now an air elemental is after her, along with the local police. With her handler dead and her base of operations currently unsafe, her resources are limited. However, she does gain a temporary ally – Detective Donovan Caine. The stage is set for Gin to fail spectacularly – and she knows it. The knowledge that the cards are stacked against her won’t stop her from taking out those that set her up.

This was a fun addition to the urban fantasy genre! I liked that it was more action and character development than romance, though there is a touch of that sprinkled in here. The story starts off in a mental health asylum. Gin is there undercover as that is the only feasible way of getting to her target. I had a lot of fun with this opening as it was not what I was expecting. Gin’s limited morals make her an interesting character right from the start. I like that she doesn’t go all emo when it comes to killing people. She’s already figured out what her limits are and where the lines are drawn for her in the matter of killing humans.

Her adoptive family trained her and now act as her partners in the business. Fletcher Lane is her handler, setting up the jobs and keeping her from direct contact with those that require her services. Fletcher’s son, Finn, is really good with documents and can make nearly anything that Gin might need for her jobs. They’ve been working together for years, and with the Pork Pit as their base of operations, they have a really good thing going. That is until someone set’s the Spider up for assassination herself.

So I wasn’t expecting things to get personal for Gin in the first book, with her adoptive family targeted along with her. That made this story much more exciting! As the injuries occur and the body count increases, we meet other magical misfits that have worked with Gin and her family for years. Jojo is a Dwarf beautician and a healer. Gin definitely needs access to a healer. Regularly. Sometimes desperately. Jojo’s Goth sister, Sophia, is good at disposing of bodies; another must for the assassination business.  I really enjoyed Sophia and her usually monosyllable responses to queries. The image of a grunting, aloof Goth Sophia is awesome!

Then we have the problem of Donovan Caine. He’s a straight arrow detective and he has a personal beef with the Spider; his partner was killed several months back by the Spider and now he wants this assassin behind bars or dead. Yet Gin saved his life even as she was busy taking out targets that were there to set her up. So now he owes her and agrees to help her on this one case. Pretty soon it becomes clear there is an undercurrent of attraction between the two, even if it is an unwelcome distraction for Gin and an undeniable fact for Detective Caine. Gin had very good reasons for killing Donovan’s partner but she holds off on telling him. After all, she doesn’t have to defend her actions to this detective! Part of me wants Donovan to ask and learn all the facts and part of me wanted Donovan to figure it out on his own – he’s a detective after all! This situation added a delicious dollop of tension to the book.

In the end, I really enjoyed this story. It was a fun mix of magic and mystery. The romance was an undercurrent and didn’t become the main feature – which is just how I like it! Gin is a very interesting character that already has a strong sense of who she is and what she will and will not do. I liked that we learned some keys things about her past but the book wasn’t flooded with flashbacks. Over all, a most enjoyable urban fantasy romp!

I won a physical copy of this book from AudioGals (thanks!). As always, my opinion is my own.

Narration: Lauren Fortgang was great with her southern twang for the Spider. She had distinct voices for all the characters and her male character voices were masculine. She did read the one sex scene in a kind of monotone, like she was bored with it, but that is my only criticism.

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review 2016-04-07 09:32
Spider's Bite by Jennifer Estep
Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep

Gin has been on her own since her family was tortured and burned in a fire. She is eventually taken in by a BBQ restaurant owner and he teaches her the skills to be an assassin. She easily masters her craft and becomes known as The Spider. Soon she finds herself in trouble after a routine job doesn't go as planned, and she must fight, once again, to survive. She'll do whatever it takes to find the person responsible for turning her life upside-down.

This one was a little tough for me to rate. I really enjoyed the main plot. I felt for Gin and her struggles growing up alone, being taken in and taught to survive. She's made a life for herself and has a new "family" that cares for her. However, there were a few things that prevented me from connecting to the story. There were a couple of scenes that contained some steamy tension between Gin and a police detective. While it was good in theory, the scenes were so scarce and felt forced. I just couldn't believe what the author was trying to portray. The other main issue that got to me was that there were several phrases repeated. In almost every fight scene, or scenes where she was preparing for a fight, I was reminded everywhere she places her knives. Same places, every time. I found myself skimming those places because I knew what they were going to say. My initial thought was to rate Spider's Bite a 3, but ultimately I went with 4 because I did like how independent and confident Gin was. She made a great protagonist and I can see her skills as an assassin only getting better throughout the series.

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review 2015-06-02 00:00
Spider's Bite
Spider's Bite - Jennifer Estep I have read this before....or I have tried to read this before.

A few years back I was all about the paranormal romance, and I was specific. So specific in fact that not many novels would to. I was full of it at the time and not easily satisfied. I would get a few chapters in, and if the book didn't take me, if it didn't have that something special i would discard it like yesterday's papers. Somewhere in my travels I have stumbled on Elemental Assassin and discarded it.

Now I can say I am more than happy I've tried again. Lately I keep picking up books with whiney, spineless, pathetic heroines who can't seem to get trough a single day in their life without having some kind of mental breakdown, or need help to simply breathe.

Gin was such a breath of fresh air, I loved it. The I-don't-give-a-fuck, take no nonsense kind of girl that went on with her day. Something didn't happen the way it was supposed to? Shit deal, but life moves on.

She did what needed to get done and a focused train of thought was so refreshing. She wasn't second guessing herself every second of every day. She knew who she was and what was she capable of. No vanity, no insecurity, no cattiness. I really, really, REALLY needed this.

A normal chick with a healthy sex drive and a good appetite for food. Not some supa skinny, stick insect that spent all her waking moments thinking did the guy wink at her or simply blink?
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