Saturday, February 20

Review: Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep (@Jennifer_Estep)

Bitter Bite

Elemental Assassin, #14
Jennifer Estep

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Pocket Books
Date of Publication: February 23, 2016
Number of pages: 400
Cover Artist: Tony Mauro

Available at the following retailers:
Amazon     BN     Kobo     OmniLit

Which is stronger: blood ties or a battle-tested friendship?

It’s not easy being queen bee of an underworld abuzz with crooks and killers. Wielding my potent Ice and Stone elemental magic will only get me so far—my real secret is my tight-knit makeshift family, a motley crew of cops and criminals, dwarves and playboys. My foster brother Finnegan Lane is my right-hand man, but when his suddenly not-dead relative comes back into the picture, I’m the one on the outside looking in.

It’s funny how life works: one minute your best friend is rock-steady, and the next he’s doe-eyed and buying into this whole loving-relative routine to the point of ignoring you. I’d like to be happy for Finn, I really would. But all of my instincts are telling me that beneath the syrupy sweet demeanor and old-fashioned charm, this sudden interloper is planning something. The whole shtick leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. This person might have avoided the grave once, but I’ll put anyone who hurts Finn in the ground—for good.
I walked to my car, which I’d parked half a mile from the cemetery entrance. When I’d first arrived, I had stuffed a white plastic bag into the driver’s-side window as if I’d had car trouble, so no one would wonder why the vehicle was sitting by the side of the road. But my car wasn’t the only one here now. An old, battered white van was parked a few hundred feet away, also with a white plastic bag hanging out of the window. Most likely Don and Ethel’s ride, to haul away any loot they might unearth during their grave robbing.

I ignored the van. In a day or two, someone would get curious—or greedy—enough to approach it. That person would either call the cops to report an abandoned vehicle or smash in a window, hot-wire the van, and drive it away to sell for scrap. I’d bet on the second option, though. This was Ashland, after all. Land of criminal conspiracies and malicious opportunity.

I unlocked my car, took the bag out of the window, and slid inside. Then I placed the casket box in the passenger’s seat, cranked up the heat, and drove home.

The roads around the cemetery were dark, curvy, and covered with snow, forcing me to drive slowly. Every time I reached a relatively straight patch of pavement, I glanced over at the box, wondering what secrets it held. The spider runes in my palms itched with anticipation, but I wrapped my hands around the steering wheel and forced my gaze back to the road. Fletcher had taught me to be patient, and I could wait until I got home to open it. Besides, I wanted to go through the box slowly, calmly, and carefully, despite my burning desire to pull over, crack it open right this very second, and dig through all the contents like a kid tearing through Christmas presents.
It's hard for me to believe that this series is at book 14. After all, it is rare to find a series continually focused on the same main characters throughout it's entirety, and to be able to not only be going strong after 10+ books, but to keep getting better. That's just what this series has continued to do over and over again.

Gin Blanco has grown as a character throughout the series. She's a flawed, yet captivating individual. As an assassin, she has no compunction with using her knife skills or her elemental magic to solve those messy problems that others shy away from. She's also a deeply moral person, sticking to her own unique compass of right and wrong, and never wavering. When she draws a line in the sand, she sticks to it. Gin's incredibly loyal to her friends and family, literally willing to kill for them (and has). We have seen this trait over and over again in the proceeding books. However this time, she has to be willing to let someone live, no matter how much she feels they deserve to die, for her family.

One very interesting thing in this book were memories of Gin and Finn's teen aged interactions. There are some short stories available on the author's website, but not much in the prior novels. The scenes shared with us, highlighted their early relationship and demonstrated what they mean to each other. See what they have been through, really cements their current bond.

There were many unexpected revelations this book. It's definitely not one to miss if you are following the series, as a major new story arc is introduced. I'll give you a hint... is all about Family. I stand by prior assertions that starting at this point in the series does a disservice to no one but yourself. Start at the beginning and read them in order. Once again, Gin's unique and detailed world earned a 5 star review from me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Pocket books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
2 Giveaways: 
Author Bio:
Jennifer Estep is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author prowling the streets of her imagination in search of her next fantasy idea.

Jennifer writes the Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series for Pocket Books. Bitter Bite, the 14th book in the series, will be released on Feb. 23.

Jennifer also writes the Black Blade young adult urban fantasy series. She is also the author of the Mythos Academy young adult urban fantasy series and the Bigtime paranormal romance series.

To connect with the author online:

Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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