Tag: Jennifer Estep

Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep

Posted October 3, 2019 by Rowena in Reviews | 1 Comment

Buddy Review: Kill the Queen by Jennifer EstepReviewer: Ames, Holly, and Rowena
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep
Series: Crown of Shards #1
Publisher: Harper Collins, Harper Voyager
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Cliffhanger: View Spoiler »
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Add It: Goodreads
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Series Rating: four-stars

Gladiator meets Game of Thrones: a royal woman becomes a skilled warrior to destroy her murderous cousin, avenge her family, and save her kingdom in this first entry in a dazzling fantasy epic from the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Elemental Assassin series—an enthralling tale that combines magic, murder, intrigue, adventure, and a hint of romance.

In a realm where one’s magical power determines one’s worth, Lady Everleigh’s lack of obvious ability relegates her to the shadows of the royal court of Bellona, a kingdom steeped in gladiator tradition. Seventeenth in line for the throne, Evie is nothing more than a ceremonial fixture, overlooked and mostly forgotten.

But dark forces are at work inside the palace. When her cousin Vasilia, the crown princess, assassinates her mother the queen and takes the throne by force, Evie is also attacked, along with the rest of the royal family. Luckily for Evie, her secret immunity to magic helps her escape the massacre.

Forced into hiding to survive, she falls in with a gladiator troupe. Though they use their talents to entertain and amuse the masses, the gladiators are actually highly trained warriors skilled in the art of war, especially Lucas Sullivan, a powerful magier with secrets of his own. Uncertain of her future—or if she even has one—Evie begins training with the troupe until she can decide her next move.

But as the bloodthirsty Vasilia exerts her power, pushing Bellona to the brink of war, Evie’s fate becomes clear: she must become a fearsome gladiator herself . . . and kill the queen.

Kill the Queen is the start of a new fantasy series by Jennifer Estep. Set in a world where magic rules the land, this is a novel full of royal intrigue, evil machinations and in the center, a young girl of royal blood who just wants to be accepted for who she is…

Holly: Rowena chose this book for us, in part because it’s touted as “Gladiator meets Game of Thrones”. I hadn’t read Estep before, but I really loved her writing. So, what did you two think? Did you think it was GoT-esque?

Rowena: First off, nice intro Holly.

You know, I’m not even mad that I chose this book for us to read. I enjoyed it and I did think that the story overall was GoT-esque. I liked all of the royal intrigue and I liked seeing Evie really grow from the girl we first meet and the woman she becomes in the end. I’m mighty curious to see where this series goes so I’m definitely going to be reading the next book in the series. There were times in the beginning when I wanted to strangle Evie for not opening her mouth, for sitting on shit that she shouldn’t, for taking shit from people who were beneath her but all of my frustrations with her fell away when she becomes a gladiator. I really liked her friendship with Paloma and my heart hurt for her after everything with Isobel and her cousins. Yeah, this was a good one.

Ames: This was a good choice, Wena! I’m glad we read this one. I wasn’t slumping but I felt like I was in a contemporary romance rut and nothing was appealing to me. It did take me just a wee bit to get into a fantasy head-space but Evie’s story was engrossing so I had no problem jumping in either. I really enjoyed her character and I can see why she held on to what she did. She learned really fast that you couldn’t trust anyone at court and she held onto that lesson for her life.

Holly: This reminded me a lot of Amanda Bouchett’s Kingmaker Chronicles, but I think Estep did it better. Even though I got frustrated with Evie in the beginning, too, I was still totally engaged in the story. I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen and how she was going to deal with it.

Man, I was so sad for Evie when everything happened with Isobel. I wish we’d seen her reunite with Alvis, her mentor.

I really enjoyed watching her growth, too. The way she decided to stand up for herself, and stop hiding, was so great. I was totally cheering for her.

Rowena: Same. I was engaged the entire time that I was reading this book and I was going through a reading slump. You wouldn’t have known it by how fast I read this book, when I finally buckled down and read. Good stuff.

I would have liked to see Evie reunite with Alvis, the jewelry maker. Do you think he knew who and what Evie really was? I hope we find out in the next book.

Holly: I hope we see that in the next book, too. Are you planning to start it right away?

There’s a possibility of a romance. What did you think of that?

Rowena: Possibility of a romance? You mean between Evie and Sully? They better have a romance! Haha.

I’m going to wait a while before starting the next book, closer to the time that the third book comes out. You guys?

Ames: I’m like you Wena, I’m going to wait until closer to book 3 comes out before reading book 2.

I liked Sully’s character and we better see a romance between Evie and Sully. I liked how their relationship developed – the snarkiness at the beginning and how he pushed her, challenged her. And then when the truth comes out about both of them, their identities, I can see why he pushed her away. Book 2 will be interesting to see how Evie gets him to come around.

Holly: Yeah. I mean, it’s barely hinted at here. Obviously we want it to go forward, but were you satisfied with how it turned out here?

I might read the 2nd book now. Tracy read it and said it ends similar to how this one does. It’s not a cliffhanger but it’s open for more.

Ames: I loved the changes that Evie went to after she joined the gladiator troupe. She really got down to who she was a person and she was so strong. I really liked Paloma and how that friendship came about. Evie was just surprising everyone left and right with her talents. I liked that she wowed everyone by baking. LOL

I did feel bad about her losses though. Isobel was one of the only people who were kind to her in the castle. Alvis is a mystery and I hope we see him again.

Ok you guys, what did you think of that rhyme and what it means? I thought it was interesting that Evie just thought it was a children’s song and didn’t mean anything.

Holly: I think it means the Winter Queen will be harder and more badass than all the lame-ass Summer Queens. LMAO. I liked that she won everyone over by baking, too. Not gonna lie, those pies made me hungry.

Rowena: Yeah, I thought it meant that the Winter Queens were way more badass than the Summer Queens. That they were more important, and maybe in the coming books, we’ll find out why. I definitely think there were more Winter Queens than Summer Queens during Halloween in the kingdom.

Overall, this was an enjoyable book and I’d give it 4.25 out of 5 stars, what about you guys?

Holly: I agree. It was an enjoyable book and I’m anxious to see where we go from here. 4.25 out of 5.

Ames: I agree with you both, it’s a 4.25 out of 5. A strong start to a new and interesting series. I can’t wait for book 3 to come out so I can read book 2. You know me, preferring to read my series books closer together. 😛

Final Grades

Ames: 4.25 out of 5
Holly: 4.25 out of 5
Rowena: 4.25 out of 5



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Guest Review: Venom by Jennifer Estep.

Posted April 5, 2011 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of Venom (Elemental Assassins, Book 3) by Jennifer Estep.

“It’s hard to be a badass when a giant is beating the crap out of you. Luckily, I never let pride get in the way of my work. My current project is personal: annihilate Mab Monroe, the Fire Elemental who murdered my family. Which means protecting my identity, even if I have to conceal my powerful Stone and Ice magic until I need it most.

To the public I am Gin Blanco, owner of Ashland’s best barbecue joint. To my friends I am Spider, retired assassin. I still do favors on the side. Like ridding a vampire friend of her oversized stalker–Mab’s right-hand goon who almost got me dead with his massive fists. At least irresistible Owen Grayson is on my side. The man knows too much about me, but I’ll take my chances. Then there’s Detective Bria Coolidge, one of Ashland’s finest. Until recently, I thought my baby sister was dead. She probably thinks the same about me. Little does she know, I am a cold-blooded killer who is about to save her life.”

Venom is the third in Jennifer Estep’s series about an assassin named Gin Blanco–at least, that is her public name as far as Ashland’s social and business communities are concerned. In actuality, she is Genevive Snow, a Stone and Ice Elemental who has been sought by Mab Monroe for seventeen years in order to remove what she has been told is a person who will kill her. Under cover of this public identity since she was 13 years old, Gin has made her living as a paid assassin. Even though she “retired” several months before this novel begins, she is still caught up in the need to revenge the deaths of her mother and older sister at the hand of Mab and her henchmen, and in the process, gets caught up in the danger Mab’s current activities pose for Gin’s friends.

Gin Blanco is a complicated heroine, one that might be difficult to applaud under any other circumstances than in a novel. Yet underneath her cold and calculating exterior beats the heart of a caring and giving woman, one who really wants to be loved and accepted, who wants to be a part of a family, who wants the love of a good man–one who sees her and not what she does–and who wants to re-unite with her baby sister whose welfare and safety Gin was willing to preserve at the cost of her own life. Bria Coolidge is that sister, a detective who has come to Ashland to take the place of Detective Donovan Caine, the man who stole Gin’s heart and then smashed it with his moralizing rejection when he left Ashland. Bria doesn’t know that Gin is her older sister who protected her after their mom and sister were murdered. And even though they form an uneasy first acquaintanceship in this novel, it will be in the future before they come to know each other as they once did.

This is a marvelous and complex novel, filled with rare and wonderful characters, many larger than life and all of them with one foot in the real world and the other in the fantasy sphere. Individuals with magical abilities live and move among the mere mortals, while powerful dwarves and giants complicate life for ordinary people. Yet it is an emotional story that pulls at heart strings as Gin stands in the gap for a woman who is being stalked and whose life is in serious danger, a woman who wouldn’t be in this position if she hadn’t kept her word to protect Gin in another situation (see Web of Lies, Estep’s earlier novel in this series). The love for her sister motivates Gin to insert herself in several dangerous situations that could result in her death. Her love for her foster brother Finn is always there, running throughout every eventuality in the story, and her loyalty to Jo-Jo, Sophie, and Finn never wavers.

This novel is also full of action and the reader knows that with each turn of the page there will be danger, possible injury to good people, the incursion of corruption and the death of important characters possibly because law enforcement is in Mab’s pocket. The tension never lets up. Add to that the understanding that Gin has been nearly defeated in her own personal life by the rejection of Detective Caine, by his judgmental attitude toward her that eventually overcame his attraction for her. When Owen comes into her life and protects her during a very dangerous episode, she begins to wonder if perhaps here was a man who could wipe out the pain and insecurity left in Caine’s wake.

This is one really terrific read!! Estep tells a darn good story and even though I didn’t think I would like this series very well–why, don’t ask me–I don’t really know. But I have been enthralled by this series from the first, and unlike many series, each novel has successfully continued the strenght, tension, and action of the previous works. The story continues on after this book–another novel is in the offing, and I, for one, will be delighted to read the next “chapter” in Gin’s story. Admittedly, she is taking on Mab’s mob and that includes just about everyone in Ashland. She will also be furthering her relationship with Owen and I am curious to see where that goes. So stay tuned: I have a feeling that the best is yet to come. I give this book a 4.75 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Pocket Books. You can buy it here.

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Guest Review: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

Posted December 24, 2010 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 1 Comment

Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Judith‘s review of Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

My name is Gin and I kill people.

The call me Spider and I am the most feared assassin in the South–when I’m not 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 under my feet to the vibrations of the soaring Appalachians Mountains above me. My Ice Magic also comes in handy for making the occasional knife. But I don’t use my powers on the joy 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 kill 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 irrisisitably rugged Detective Donovan Caine has agreed to help me. The last thing this cold-hearted killer needs when I’m battling a magic more powerful than my own is a sexy distraction–especially when Donovan wants me dead as much as the enemy.
OK, so I like those espionage novels and the Cold War stuff like Ice Station Zebra and 007 and so on. This has that same strung-out, edgy feel to it with a heroine who you want to like and for whom you want to root, yet she’s a cold-blooded killer. A killer of bad guys, to be sure, and in the face of a police force where it is almost impossible to find a good guy, that’s probably the only kind of justice the citizens of Ashland, Tennessee can expect–the vigilante kind. But Gin Blanco, otherwise known as The Spider, is good at what she does, better than almost everyone, and a woman who has been trained to do this since she was 13 years old. She was orphaned 17 years ago when a Fire Elemental decided to destroy her family and for some reason has chosen to keep on murdering and seeking the last member of her family, her baby sister. But Gin is an assassin for hire, and she makes top dollar because of her success rate. Now she is hired to kill one of the top executives in a huge company only she is being pushed and shoved into a vulnerable position that could cause her death. And Gin doesn’t take kindly to such manipulation.
This story may have all the action and suspense any reader could want, but most of us want that romantic core that exposes the hearts of the characters. Estep hasn’t forgotten that. But she tells the story of a hurting a vulnerable woman who has learned the hard way that people disappoint and abandon the ones they love. She has built a wall around her emotions–well all except hate–and she doesn’t trust very many people. Underneath that tough exterior beats the heart of a wounded warrior, longing for companionship and love from someone who has the guts to look beyond her profession and see her. Having lost her family so many years ago she has constructed a family of sorts around her, a group of very odd and strange individuals to whom she is completely loyal and for whom she would not hesitate to lay down her life. So she is a woman of deep commitment and feeling, unswerving loyalty and love. So there is lots to like here and Estep has done a magnificent job of writing. She has found a way to put the reader into the world of her characters so that the personalities and their quirks literally seem to leap off the page. I really like that kind of book.
So I recommend this novel to lovers of action and suspense, paranormal and romance fiction. It is one of those books that are literally impossible to put down. And in spite of how strange some of these characters are, their participation in the story make this tale even more enjoyable. It has the feel of reality even though we know it is not real. So make room in your book-buying budget for this gem. I think you will glad you did.

I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The series:
Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, Book 2)Venom (Elemental Assassin, Book 3)

You can read more from Judith at Dr. J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Pocket. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Jennifer Estep Giveaway!

Posted September 16, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways | 34 Comments

Thanks to Jennifer Estep, we have an extra copy of Venom to giveaway today.

Book Cover

Leave a comment on this post telling us why you want it, and you’ll be entered to win! Contest ends Sunday, Sept 19 at 11:59pm.

For  a second chance to win, check out Jennifer’s guest post!

Please Note: This contest is open to residents of US and Canada only

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, Book 2)Venom (Elemental Assassin, Book 3)Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin, Book 4)

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Guest Author: Jennifer Estep – Recommended Reads

Posted September 16, 2010 by Holly in Giveaways, Promotions | 34 Comments

Today we have bestselling author Jennifer Estep here with us. Her latest release, Venom (Elemental Assassin, Book 3) is about to hit shelves. She’s talking about her books, and some of her favorite reads!


Greetings and salutations! First of all, I want to say thanks to the folks at the Book Binge for having me on the blog today. Thanks, guys!

Some of you might know me as the author of the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series. The books focus on Gin Blanco, an assassin codenamed the Spider who can control the elements of Ice and Stone. When she’s not busy killing people and righting wrongs, Gin runs a barbecue restaurant called the Pork Pit in the fictional southern metropolis of Ashland. The city is also home to giants, dwarves, vampires, and elementals – Air, Fire, Ice, and Stone.

The first two books in the series are Spider’s Bite and Web of Lies. Venom, the third book, will come out on Sept. 28. Tangled Threads, the fourth book, will be published in May 2011, while the fifth book (untitled) will be released in October 2011.

I’ve also sold a young adult urban fantasy series called Mythos Academy. The first book is called Touch of Frost and will be out in August 2011. The books focus on Gwen Frost, a Gypsy girl who has the gift of psychometry, or the ability to know an object’s history just by touching it. After a serious freak-out with her magic, Gwen finds herself shipped off to Mythos Academy, a school for the descendents of ancient warriors like Spartans, Valkyries, and more.

So today, I thought I would talk about books – namely, all the ones that I enjoy reading. My mom used to take me to the library every Saturday when I was a kid, and that’s how I fell in love with books and reading in the first place.

Despite my attempts to whittle it down, my to-be-read pile stays at about 20 books. Every time I go to the bookstore for my local book club meeting, I vow that I’m not going to buy anything … but of course, I always end up coming home with at least one book. What can I say? The pretty, shiny covers get me every time. 😉

Anyway, here are some of the authors that I’ve got in my TBR pile and others whose books that I’ve been enjoying:

Contemporary romance: I enjoyed Something About You by Julie James, and I’ve read and liked several books by Kristan Higgins. But one of my favorite authors right now is Linda Lael Miller. I really love the contemporary and the historical westerns that she writes. Then again, I’m just a sucker for westerns in general. LOL.

Also, I am desperate to get my hands on Lisa Kleypas’ new contemporary, which comes out in late October. Her Travis books are some of my favorites.

Fantasy: I read a lot of fantasy books, including urban fantasy authors like Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison. I also like Lisa Shearin’s Raine Benares series – that’s one of many series that I need to get caught up on. As far as epic fantasy goes, I also like Alex Bledsoe and Scott Lynch.

Paranormal romance: I enjoy Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series – I think she writes really strong heroines. I also like Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series and the spinoff books. A few years back, I did a major glom of Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series, and I need to catch up on the newer ones.

Thrillers/mysteries: Over the summer, I’ve been catching up on the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child. All of the Reacher books are just action-packed thrill rides from beginning to end. I also like mysteries by the likes of John Sandford, Robert B. Parker, and others. I read pretty widely, and as long as there’s plenty of action in the book, I’ll give it a try.

Young adult: I’ve been reading more and more young adult books lately. I’ve got a YA anthology, Kiss Me Deadly, to read, as well as Beastly by Alex Flinn. I love different takes on the Beauty and the Beast fairytale, and I’ve heard a lot of good things about Beastly.

Two of my absolute favorite recent reads are The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I thought both of those books were just excellent, and I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in the Hunger Games trilogy. They’re waiting for me in my TBR pile. Now I just have to find the time to read them – and everything else! 😉

What about you guys? What are some of the books and authors that you like? Which books are you looking forward to this fall?

By night, Jen­nifer Estep is an author, prowl­ing the streets of her imag­i­na­tion in search of her next fan­tasy idea.
By day, Jen­nifer is an award-winning fea­tures page designer for a daily news­pa­per with a wide range of media and jour­nal­ism expe­ri­ence. She’s also a cer­ti­fi­able fan­girl and an author­ity on fan­tasy lit­er­a­ture and cul­ture. Jen­nifer is a mem­ber of Romance Writ­ers of Amer­ica, Sci­ence Fic­tion and Fan­tasy Writ­ers of Amer­ica, and other writ­ing groups.
Jennifer’s books have been fea­tured in Cos­mopoli­tan, Enter­tain­ment Weekly, South­ern Liv­ing, and a vari­ety of other publications_______________________________

Thanks so much for being here today, Jennifer. I love that we love so many of the same books.

Would you like to win a copy of Venom? Leave a comment on this post answering the questions Jennifer asked above, and you’ll get your chance. Contest ends Thursday, August 23 at 11:59pm.

Spider's Bite (Elemental Assassin, Book 1)Web of Lies (Elemental Assassin, Book 2)Venom (Elemental Assassin, Book 3)Tangled Threads (Elemental Assassin, Book 4)

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