books

Jennifer Estep

Books

Elemental Assassin: Spider’s Bite (2010)

Mythos Academy: First Frost (2011), Touch of Frost (2011), Kiss of Frost (2011), Dark Frost (2012)

 

Elemental Assassin

 

Spider’s Bite (2010)

Spiders BiteGin is an assassin called the Spider. She makes a good living, and her handler wants her to retire, but she’s not sure she’s ready–after all, she’s still young, what would she do? All of her family is dead, and the only people she’s close to are her handler (who is all but her father) and his son. She’s also a Stone elemental, but that magic has never gotten her anywhere good as far as she’s concerned.

There were several things I really liked about this story. The world building was very well done. The main character is a magic user, and there are vampires and dwarves and giants, but all of these things are simply background to the story–it’s noted in passing that someone is a vampire, but that’s rarely what’s important about the person. And because Gin rarely uses her magic, we slowly become familiar with magic in her world. By the end of the story we still don’t know the limits of Gin’s magic, but neither does she.

Another thing I liked is that almost from the beginning I thought I’d figured out a major plot point, but was pleasantly surprised to discover that I was only half right, and the part I was wrong about was the more important part. It’s good to be wrong–especially being right would have been annoying (to me).

I also like that Gin (and the other characters) believe in the importance of making sure someone is actually dead.

And then there was Gin. For someone with such a messed up childhood, she’s pretty stable and sensible.

Except…

GOOD GRIEF! ENOUGH ALREADY WITH THE SEX!

I mean really, you’re on a case. If you’re as professional as you are in everything else, why would you spend so much time thinking about BOINKING when you’re on the freaking job?! If she is that obsessed, how did she not die years ago?!

Yes, it really annoys me THAT MUCH.

However, aside from that the story really was very good. The mystery/secret was well done, the main characters were solidly done, and as I said, I loved the world building.

I just would have loved it more with out the obsession with sex.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Pocket Books.

 

Mythos Academy

 

First Frost (2011)

first frostGwen Frost has a Gypsy gift–when she touches things she learns about the people who held those items. In addition to that skill, she has a good dose of curiosity, that eventually shows her things she never wanted to learn.

This is a short story, and an introduction to Touch of Frost, the first book in the Mythos Academy series.

If you like YA, this is a good story to check out, to tell you if you’ll like the series. It’s self-contained, which is always good in a short story, but it did lead me to immediately start the first book. Just one more reason to love eBooks.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Kensington Books

Touch of Frost (2011)

touch of frostWhen I perused the reviews for this story, I almost didn’t get it. Too much sex for a YA the negative review cried. Aw crap, I thought. I hate boinking books, which is one reason why I like YA–much less boinking, and it’s mostly off screen.

But it was only $0.99, so I decided it couldn’t hurt to try.

Let’s clarify the boinking–the main character does not boink–she doesn’t even get kissed–but she is at a private school where other students are doing what 17 and 18 year old kids do. That does not make a boinking book. It’s an acknowledgement that lots of teens are sexually active, whether adults want to acknowledge it or not. But Gwen herself is not, and I think that’s an important distinction the negative reviewer failed to make. After all, any YA book full of kids who are NOT drinking and NOT being sexually active isn’t reality based in our current reality.

So yes, there is an acknowledgement of sex, but that’s all over TV, movies, and everything else. But this is NOT a boinking book.

Thank goodness.

Gwen Frost is a student at Mythos Academy. She was sent there after her mother was killed by a drunk driver, to learn more about her Gypsy gift and the magical heritage of not just herself but of others in the world–Amazons, Valkyries, Spartans–all these exist and a trained to fight Chaos.

I thought the world building here was especially good–because Gwen knows little other than how her gift works, we learn along with her.

Gwen is a typical teen, except for the fact she’s struggling with grief following the death of her mother. The school to which she is sent is NOT full of typical teens, but instead full of very rich, very spoiled, kids with supernatural powers who have grown up knowing they are destined to battle chaos and evil.

The secondary characters are also good–the boy Gwen has a crush on, and the girl who eventually becomes Gwen’s friend are interesting in and of themselves, and were enjoyable to spend time with.

And of course there was the story itself–I like the idea that there are people descended from myth still inhabiting the world, still fighting evil.

Read the short story first, and if you enjoy it, then I believe you’ll enjoy Touch of Frost.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Kensington Books

Kiss of Frost (2011)

Kiss of FrostGwen is now mostly settled into the Mythos Academy. She still feels like a fish out of water, but she has friends and is starting to enjoy at least some of her classes. But because she spent her childhood as a relatively normal kid, she now get private weapons tutoring sessions with Logan Quinn, her not-so-secret crush, and two of his Spartan Friends.

I’m really enjoying this series, despite the relatively high amounts of angst and teenage brooding. Partially because Gwen really does have good reasons for her angst and brooding, and partially because she’s stupid and angsty in ways that pretty much any teenager would be. And partially because she remains true to herself, despite feeling like a complete outside.

The other thing I’m liking is that the characters are complex. Morgan from the last book is still at Mythos, but because of the events in the previous book, she’s gone from being the head Mean Girl to an outsider of a different sort. And Daphne, although a loyal friend to Gwen, still does some rather borderline things. But, they’re things that a teenager WOULD do, so…

You could pick up this book without having read the rest of the series–there is a fair amount of backstory at the start.

There is drinking and smooching and mention of sex and hookups, but nothing explicit and nothing a high school kid wouldn’t know about. And to be honest, considering that these are kids that may well die in their twenties, that party-hard mentality makes sense.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Kensington Books

Dark Frost (2012)

Dark FrostGwen Frost is finishing up one last assignment before winter break ends: she and her friends Daphne and Carson are touring a museum looking at magical artifacts important from the wars against Loki and his Reapers of Chaos, as are lots of other kids in her class. But Gwen is distracted, trying to figure out what her goddess, Nike, really wants from her, and how she is supposed to stop the Reapers from freeing Loki.

This book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger per se, but a major plot point is introduced in the end, so we’ll have to read the next book to find out what happens. That said, it didn’t bother me. You saw this coming from the start of the book, and the book does end on several positive notes, with important threads being tied up.
Rating: 8/10

Published by Kensington

 

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