Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Spider's Bite: Review & Giveaway

Spider's Bite
Elemental Assassin Book #1
Author: Jennifer Estep
Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
Publisher: Pocket
Available at Indie Bound, Powells, Barnes & Noble

Summary: The Elemental Assassin series focuses 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.

I received Spider's Bite from the publisher for review and as part of the blog tour, but I had been reading really good things about the book and the author before that, so I was thrilled to take part. It's the first of the Elemental Assassin series, which is a gritty, urban fantasy with some very interesting elements. First off, the main character, Gin, is a stone elemental, an assassin and a mighty fine cook. Yes, Gin has taken culinary classes at the local college for years, when she's not knocking off bad guys. I loved this aspect of the character, especially in a darker urban fantasy. Here is an example:

...I had two turkey-and-Gouda sandwiches on chewy pumpernickel bread. I added a kosher pickle and a couple of baby carrots to each plate, along with some double chocolate chip cookies. Color and presentation were the key when it came to food preparation.

Now, the contrast between that scene and this one is amazing:

I flicked my wrist, and the sharp point of the screw zipped across the room and sank into her throat, puncturing her windpipe. Ace. Evelyn's scream turned into a whistling wheeze.

Gin is not a sociopath. She has rules that she lives by; she doesn't kill the good guys, she never tortures, even when they deserve it. The cooking makes sense to me. Gin needs something in her life that is normal, plus I think it's a way of comforting not only herself, but the people she loves.

Spider's Bite is not a romance; it's dark and it's gritty with a fairly rough sex scene. I love complex heroines who kick butt, and Gin fits the bill. If you are a fan of Caitlin Kittredge, Marjorie M. Liu or Kelly Gay then you will love Jennifer Estep.

You can read a prequel short story from the author for free here:

Leave me a comment with an answer to this question: Do you like your urban fantasy where the heroine has a happy relationship by the end of the book, or are you okay with her struggling with romance?

If you don't have an email connected with your Google profile please leave me one in the comments. The contest will end February 28th, 2010 and I'll announce the winner on Monday.



Ellz said...

I really want to read this. I am a big fan of Kelly Gay. Also love a strong heroine.

I am ok with a struggling romance in a series. As long as she finds some happiness at some point. Not necessarily a knight in shining armor, but someone who is right for her.


throuthehaze said...

I think it is a little more interesting when there is a struggling romance. I guess it is more believable.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

WickedLilPixie said...

I like the struggle, its much more realistic! We all know love doesnt come as easy as a lot of books make it out to be!

Lisa Richards/alterlisa said...

I like a little romance but in UF especially I don't expect a HEA. One of the reasons I love series is that I expect the hero to suffer more in her pursuit of love and it to be a long bumpy road. Now if it's considered a PR I expect more romance.

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

Oh, this books sounds right up my alley. I love the sounds of this book. I REALLY have to get to it. I enjoyed the review. I like how you added a few lines from the book to it. I really like reading the authors you have listed here so I have to get it now. Thanks!

Melissa (My words and pages) said...

How did I miss there was a giveaway with this review? I was so drawn to your review and thinking how much I want this book I must have missed those capital red letters. LOL. Wow!

Well, I of course would like to say I would like to see everyone happy in the end. But if it is a series it kind of helps if there is a little bit of struggle. But, if we are on a stand alone book its nice to have ends tied up and pleasant at least. If not with who I want then with the thought that there is someone out there for them.

Thank you for the chance on this one!

Persephone said...

As long as the heroine finds some kind of love or happiness by the end of the series I am fine. I am a sucker for romance, so I like to see a little in the story.

patronus89013 at yahoo dot com

doreen lamoureux said...

I like the ending to be happy unless there is another book to follow. That's just me.

dorcontest at gmail dot com

Sarah said...

Great review - I really want to read this one :o)

When I'm reading UF series I've come to expect the main character is going to have difficulties with love but I kind of like everything to be tied up by the end of the last book. If it's a stand alone book then I do like there to be a resolution at the end of the book

Sarah said...

I forgot to leave my email address:

sarahsreviews at ymail dot com

LSUReader said...

Struggling with romance (and life) is fine. I like heroines who are intelligent, strong and determined. Gin certainly sounds like she is all that.

E.J. Stevens said...

I like my characters to struggle through the first book but it is nice if they can get together by the second or third. :)[at]gmail[dot]com

Diana Dang said...

Hm, as long as it ends well for her later on if it is a series. But I guess I wouldn't mind a non happy ending, change is nice.

faked_sugartone at hotmail

booklover0226 said...

I don't mind the heroine struggling with romance as long as she isn't playing musical beds....

Tracey D
booklover0226 AT gmail DOT com

justpeachy36 said...

Please enter me in the giveaway.

I don't mind of the heroine is still up in the air about her relationships. Because I usually struggle too....

Unknown said...

Please enter me too in the giveaway.

It depends: usually I don't mind if the novel does not end with a happy ever after ending for the heroine, IF it is part of a series, and I know the story will continue in the next installment. However, if it is a stand alone novel, I prefer to have a neat ending, which doesn't leave me biting ym nails, wondering how things will turn out.

My e-mail is: stella.exlibris (at) gmail DOT com

Lynsey Newton said...

I agree with a lot of the other comments - I like a bit of a struggle because it's more realistic. Love NEVER works out the way you think or without any problems. I think I like a struggle with a happy ending!

Please enter me for the giveaway (

Wrighty said...

Great giveaway! I can't wait to read this one! If there is some conflict it makes the story more interesting. Happiness is a good thing too though!


(Your blog looks great!)

sRy_ said...

Hi! Is it international?? :)

IsabeLeeta said...

I think characters in general are much more appealing if they struggle with something, right? I am not a fan of romance novels, so a book like Spider's Bite is right up my alley. I suppose, Urban Fantasy books could be likened to the bad boy crush: he's gritty, rough, mysterious, thrilling, and nothing good can come out of being with him other than an amazing, fantabulous, and exhilarating ride, because he's simple: pure adrenaline.

So yes, I'm definitely OK with characters who struggle with romance.

Unknown said...

I don't mind the struggle, for example the difficulties Anita Blake has ongoing, but I like to see some happiness / fulfillment at times, or at least something resembling it by the end of a series :)

I would love a copy of Spider's Bite - it sounds awesome! I'd like to do a review too for the new blog Full Metal Librarian.

my email address is toby[dot]tremayne[at]gmail[dot]com

Reading said...

I know I'm a bit sappy, but I like a happy ending in a book.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Lindsay Frost said...

I REALLY want to win this!
Thankyou!! :D:D:D
I like a ending with a struggle.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind an ongoing love struggle in my urban fantasies.
I would love to be entered in your draw.

Heather Y said...

Thanks for hosting a great giveaway!

I love a struggle... honestly, it's more realistic. Nothings perfect in life either...

heather y