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DNF Q&A: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

Title: Killer Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #6

Genre: Teen Paranormal

Rating: 0 stars (DNF)

The Overview: I’ve battled the Reapers of Chaos before–and survived. But this time I have a Bad, Bad Feeling it’s going to be a fight to the death … most likely mine. Yeah, I’ve got my psychometry magic, my talking sword, Vic–and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at my side, in Logan freaking Quinn, but I’m no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. I may be Nike’s Champion, but at heart, I’m still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about. Then someone I love is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside me snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good … or I am.

The DNF Q&A:

This is a reviewing feature I’ve been eyeballing on one of my favorite book blogs There Were Books Involved for a couple years now because I think it’s an excellent way to talk about an unfinished book fairly. I’m incredibly grateful because Nikki (the brains behind the blog, who has a most excellent name)  kindly allowed me to steal the idea and questions for my own blog. As my list of “amazing books to read” continues to grow, I find I have less and less time and patience to devote to the books I’m just not enjoying. I never would have considered DNFing a book ten years ago, but then I came across a quote, “Read the best books first, for you might not have the chance to read them all,” and have since made it my personal mantra. Life’s too short to read books you’re just not enjoying. So let the Q&A begin!

Did you really give Killer Frost a chance?

Yes – especially when you consider it’s book 6, the final book in the series. The series took a nosedive around the fourth book, and I’ve been just trying to get it over with ever since (which is an awful sentiment – who wants to read anything “just to get it over with” like it’s a chore?). As harsh as that sounds, I did try, making it halfway through Killer Frost before putting it down.

Have you enjoyed other books in the same genre before?

You mean all of the YA Paranormal books that I can’t live without? Yes, I’ve enjoyed those. Here are some of my favorites:

Yes, Twilight is on there. Leave me alone.

Did you have certain expectations before starting it?

Sadly, I think I expected exactly what I got – senseless rehashing of the same concepts over and over again; the random enemy attacks with no discernable strategy; and no real depth of character. Maybe that’s not totally true – maybe I expected more going into the finale of the series, so was even more disappointed when faced with the same issues I’d been noticing all along.

What ultimately made you stop reading?

Frustration that I had already invested so much time in this series and it STILL wasn’t showing any improvement. As I mentioned, I read more than half of this book before finally putting it down, and at least 75% of that half was dialogue and speculation about what the problem was… very little action. Then the bad guys would sporadically show up, gloat, take something, then leave. Same stuff, different day. I ended up taking five minutes and skimming, reading only the first and last paragraphs of each chapter until I got to the end. And you know what? I feel like I got the entire essence of how the story ended without any of the fluff.

Another colossal disappointment was the great concept that never lived up to its potential. All of the students at Mythos Academy are descendents of Spartans, Ninjas, Valkyries, and many other kickass entities throughout history. They all attend this school to learn how to harness their powers and use them to fight the bad guys. The trouble is, aside from a handful of sparring sessions in the gym, none of those great ideas are explored anywhere THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE SERIES! I wanted to attend school with the characters and learn with them, kind of like what I got to do in the Harry Potter and Percy Jackson books, but instead all we got to do was hang out at the library… A lot. Don’t get me wrong, library was a cool setting, but there were no classes there and everything seemed to revolve around it. I can’t seem to find the exact words to describe how disappointed I am in what I feel is the promise of a school for magic-users unfulfilled. They might as well have been at a prep school that offered a few fencing classes rather than a school for gifted kids. Such a great idea completely unrealized.

Was there anything you liked about Killer Frost? 

This book specifically? No. The series in general? Yes – I really enjoyed the first two books and thought the concept behind the whole thing was really creative. It just failed on delivery. I honestly think it would’ve been a lot stronger condensed down to three books – I’m positive Estep could have included all of the main conflicts and cut out all of the endlessly repeating plot points and speculation. Maybe if she had made the school a bigger part of it… Bah – I’ll never get over that one.

Would you read anything else by this author? 

Honestly, I’m not too sure anymore. I read the first book in her Spider series and enjoyed it, but now I’m almost afraid to keep going. What if I invest all of that time and wind up just as disappointed in the end? Maybe if I allow myself to stop reading as soon as I see it going south… what a sad sentiment.

So you DNF’d the book – would you still recommend it?

No… I don’t think so. Perhaps the first three are recommendable, but why encourage someone to read a series that doesn’t really go anywhere?

Overall, I’m bummed.

I’m also curious if I’m the only one who felt this way about the series… Did anybody else happen to finish it? What are your thoughts?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Spider’s Bite by Jennifer Estep

Spider's BiteTitle: Spider’s Bite

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Elemental Assassin #1

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Overview: 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.

The Review:

I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought I was going to. I’ve been reading the likes of Briggs, Harrison, and Butcher lately, so I was understandably nervous that Spider’s Bite might fall short of such high standards. While it wasn’t quite as brilliant, it definitely holds its own within the urban fantasy genre.

I now more than ever appreciate Jennifer Estep for her great ideas. This urban fantasy world contains Elementals who, you guessed it, control the elements. On top of that, there’s the usual array of paranormal creatures, so the combination of magic and paranormal (of this specific variety) is within itself an interesting twist that I haven’t come across before. Considering how many urban fantasies I’ve read, that’s getting harder and harder to do. Top everything off with a kickass assassin with an interesting back story, and I’m sold! It had the same creative appeal as her Mythos Academy series (which I also enjoyed).

Even though the ideas and themes behind the book were my favorite elements, I also appreciated the characters. As I mentioned before, I really liked Gin and especially appreciated how she handled herself in deadly situations – she’s definitely one tough cookie! She was also an incredibly consistent character, by which I mean she didn’t turn into a pansy when something tragic happened, thereby maintaining her assassin persona. Although she was sad, her focus quickly shifted to getting even. I definitely don’t mind when characters get emotional within books, but a simpering heap of an assassin would have ruined her badass character profile. I also loved Caine as a potential love interest and enjoyed the dynamic he and Gin had right from the start.

Really, there weren’t many things I didn’t like about the story. Sure, it lacked a little bit of complexity (as the story was pretty straightforward), but what was there was done really well. The only thing that bothered me a little is almost too stupid to mention (which means I’m going to talk about it for at least a paragraph): Estep had a reoccurring descriptive lead-in that fixated on the characters’ eyes. “I looked at him with my gray eyes,” “he peered at me with his golden eyes,” “her green eyes widened in surprise.”… You get the idea. It was actually a clever way to draw attention to a unique feature, but it happened so often (at least once a chapter) that it was almost funny. My hazel eyes are going to light up with delight if I catch more than a couple in the next book. :-)

Overall, I consider Spider’s Bite and entertaining read and definitely worth your time if you’re a fan of the urban fantasy genre. I will definitely be continuing on in the series.

Other books you might like:

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep

 Killer frostTitle: Killer Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #6

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Release Date: February 25, 2014

The Overview: I’ve battled the Reapers of Chaos before–and survived. But this time I have a Bad, Bad Feeling it’s going to be a fight to the death … most likely mine. Yeah, I’ve got my psychometry magic, my talking sword, Vic–and even the most dangerous Spartan on campus at my side, in Logan freaking Quinn, but I’m no match for Loki, the evil Norse god of chaos. I may be Nike’s Champion, but at heart, I’m still just Gwen Frost, that weird Gypsy girl everyone at school loves to gossip about. Then someone I love is put in more danger than ever before, and something inside me snaps. This time, Loki and his Reapers are going down for good … or I am.

Killer frost 2

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Okay, I’ll admit I lost a bit of steam for this series around book four, but I’m still dedicated to seeing it through to the end. I fell in love with the first two books and am still waiting for the author to take the story where I think it has the potential to go (somewhere amazing!). Here’s hoping I get what I’ve been waiting for in Killer Frost!

 What book are you waiting on?

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Spartan Frost by Jennifer Estep

Spartan-Frost2-200x300Title: Spartan Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #4.5

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 1/5 stars

The Overview: Professor Metis and Nickamedes say that I’m fine, that Loki and the Reapers don’t have a hold on me anymore, but I can’t risk it. I can’t risk hurting Gwen again. So I’m leaving Mythos and going somewhere far, far away. I know Gwen wonders what’s happening to me, whether I’m safe. I can’t tell her, but this is my story. . .

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The Review:

It’s always fun to read from the love interest’s point of view, and I think Estep picked a great time to introduce Logan’s perspective – the events that happened in book four were incredibly pivotal for his character. While the storyline for this novella was entertaining, it left me wanting more… a lot more.

Spartan Frost was repetitive. I’d say about 75% of it was recap and reflection of what’s happened in the series so far. As this is a novella four books into this series, I think it would’ve been safe to assume that only fans of the series would be reading it (especially since it’s labeled book #4.5). Also, throughout all that recap, there was very little talk about what Logan went through. It might’ve been his voice, but the story was still centered around Gwen’s experiences.

Logan has been a great side character up to this point, but after reading this novella I get the impression he’s not as well-rounded as he could be. His struggles and thoughts were thin and often focused outward rather than inward. I was hoping to gain some insight to his character, and what I got was reflection and recap – and very little growth. Overall, I don’t think this short story added anything to Logan’s development – at least, no more than was added from reading the rest of the series from Gwen’s perspective. I think it actually revealed more to me about Sergei and Inari then it did Logan (and as those two are incredibly minor characters, it wasn’t a good thing for them to outshine the “hero”).

Recommendations: Take out all the recap, and what happened in a few dozen pages here could have been summed up in a two-page conversation in book five. It didn’t really add anything to the series and in fact detracted from my impression of Logan as a whole (from a characterization standpoint). I am disappointed and wish the author had taken the time to develop it into something deeper. I likely won’t be recommending this anytime soon.

Thank you, NetGalley, for the chance to read and review this book.

by Niki Hawkes

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Book Review: Crimson Frost by Jennifer Estep

Crimson-FrostTitle: Crimson Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #4

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Rating: 3/5 stars 

The Overview: I should have known that my first official date with Logan Quinn was destined to end in disaster. If we’d gotten into a swordfight, or been ambushed by Reapers, I’d have been more prepared. But getting arrested mid-sip at the local coffee hangout? I didn’t see that one coming. I’ve been accused of purposely helping the Reapers free Loki from his prison—and the person leading the charge against me is Linus Quinn, Logan’s dad. The worst part is that pretty much everyone at Mythos Academy thinks I’m guilty. If I’m going to get out of this mess alive, I’ll have to do it myself…

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The Review:

Crimson Frost wasn’t my favorite of this series so far but it definitely was a lot better than Dark Frost (Book #3). Even so, I’m not sure it really redeemed the series. Estep does a lot of things fairly well – such as characterization, relationships, reflection, and originality – but as I sit here and evaluate the series as a whole, I’m noticing a lot of areas that might have made the books stronger.

Each book has contained some sort of mystery for the main character to solve – an element I really appreciate as an official “armchair detective.” Dark Frost had some issues in this department as Estep smacked the reader in the face with painfully obviously clues every couple of pages – clues that the main character somehow remained blind to. A good writing tip: if your average reader is smart enough to figure out what’s going on, it’s probably best if your heroine has that ability as well. No one likes screaming at the book for the character to: “Look over there! Are you friggin’ blind?! It’s right in front of your face!” (true story). Anyway, I think I’m trying to say that the author handled it a lot better this time around, which made it entirely more enjoyable.

The drawbacks I’m starting to notice in this series have to do with story. This is the fourth book that has taken place at the Academy, and while it’s a great setting, I’ve been sort of expecting the plot to grow beyond the borders of the school at this point and broaden the conflicts – much like Richelle Mead did in her Vampire Academy series when she took it to Russia. Instead, the author seems contents to keep the character stationary and repeat the same organized attack whenever Gwen’s alone in the library (which, by the way, happens all the time despite many security measures the school supposedly has… It’s a bit of a disconnect).

Frankly, if we are going to continue to spend so much time at the school, I’d like to learn a lot more about it – maybe attend some classes, meet a few teachers, even suffer through a little homework for the sake of learning more about the place. I love books that take place in schools, but the school in this one doesn’t seem to be that important. It’s a shame too, because the initial idea for it is so cool!  Children of Ninjas, Valkyries, Vikings, Spartans, and Amazons all attend this school but I know practically nothing about them even after four books. This is the biggest tragedy to me, because I was looking forward to that otherworldly feel I loved so much in the Hex Hall novels and even in Harry Potter. The author could have easily left out some of the fifty pages or so of recap and reflection to expand on this great concept.

Another plot point that’s been letting me down a bit lately is the magic system – specifically Gwen’s. Of Gypsy descent, she has a what’s known as “touch” magic. Everything she touches that has some sort of strong emotion attached to it sends her all memories of people and events surrounding that object. What was a cool concept has now developed into an inconsistent and rather convenient solutions to the character’s problems. Sometimes the magic works one way and other times it works another – I’m actually convinced the author is changing the way it works to suit whatever works best for the scene… It’s a little less effective.

My final point is probably more of a rant than anything constructive – I normally keep those to a minimum in reviews but I’m feeling a little sassy today – and it revolves around the conundrum of the falsely accused. Sure, having someone accused of a crime they didn’t commit can heighten the conflicts in a story and get the reader even more on the characters side.… but it’s also incredibly frustrating. There always seems to be enough evidence to back up the main characters’ cases, but somehow every rational human being – especially the upholders of the law – manage to have collective aneurysms during the trials and wind up siding with the enemy. The case built up against Gwen in this book was thin and rather pathetic. Honestly, the only reason it worked is because the author wanted it to. This might just be a personal thing, but I would avoid putting anything that’s truly frustrating into a story – especially if you’re writing for a genre that’s meant to be light and fun. It just seems counterproductive.

Well, as you can tell I got a little more fired up than I usually do. It really is not an awful series, and I’ve enjoyed it up to this point. I just hate that it’s not as good as it could be when I can see specific reasons why. At this point, I would still give the series a 3/5 stars as a whole.

Overall, I’m not nearly as excited about Mythos Academy as I was when I first picked it up, but it’s still one that I think House of Night fans would really enjoy – especially if they also liked the Percy Jackson series (it’s kind of a neat hybrid of the two). I’m hoping the next book (Midnight Frost out July 30th) continues this one’s upward trend, as it really was a lot more enjoyable than the third book.

Other books you might like:

 Hex Hall Review   •   The Selection Review

by Niki Hawkes

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Coming Soon: Midnight Frost by Jennifer Estep

july 30, estepTitle: Midnight Frost

Author: Jennifer Estep

Series: Mythos Academy #5

Genre: Teen Paranormal Romance

Release Date: July 30, 2013

The Overview: Just when it seems life at Mythos Academy can’t get any more dangerous, the Reapers of Chaos manage to prove me wrong. It was just a typical night at the Library of Antiquities — until a Reaper tried to poison me. The good news is I’m still alive and kicking. The bad news is the Reaper poisoned someone else instead. 

As Nike’s Champion, everyone expects me to lead the charge against the Reapers, even though I’m still hurting over what happened with Spartan warrior Logan Quinn. I’ve got to get my hands on the antidote fast — otherwise, an innocent person will die. But the only known cure is hidden in some creepy ruins — and the Reapers are sure to be waiting for me there …

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Nik’s Notes:

Fans of House of Night should definitely check this series out – it’s a neat hybrid of mythology and paranormal. While book 3 let me down a  bit, I absolutely devoured books 1 and 2 (and thus far, book 4 seems to be redeeming itself). Anyway, it’s a neat concept and I’ve categorized it in my personal “beach-read” favorites list.