Book reviewer - PNR/UF Addict. Lover of make up and all things cute.
Gin Blanco returns in book two of the Elemental Assassin series, Web of Lies. Retired, she no longer is killing people for money, and is instead running the Pork Pit, a BBQ restaurant that her former handler owned. I wasn't sure what to expect this time around since book one left off where she went on vacation and was giving up her life of being an assassin. Though I should have known not to worry since trouble seems to follow Gin.
Two would be robbers attempt to steal the cash from her register one night and foolishly take one of her customers hostage. After that matter is resolved Gin is approached by a college girl that has someone attempting to kill her. Toss in some prostitutes, a new sexy love interest, and some crazy people with strong powers and you have a story that kept me wondering what the heck would happen next. I highly recommend this series if you're a fan of Urban Fantasy with a strong female main character.
Note: This review will have some spoilers for those who haven't read the first book
What happens when an assassin retires? They get bored. And what happens when a former assassin gets bored? They find trouble. Or it finds them. At least that's how it worked out for Gin in Web of Lies. Surprised? Me either. What fun would it be if Gin's retirement were quiet and peaceful?
As soon as I started listening to Web of Lies I started kicking myself for taking so long to pick it up. I read Spider's Bite in September 2013 and didn't pick up Web of Lies until October 2014. Well that was dumb, because Web of Lies was great!
I just love Gin's personality - she's a smart aleck and likes to pretend she's hard as stone. And, while she can use her elemental stone magic to make her physically HARD AS STONE, she's a softie deep down. And she's still feeling a bit hurt from the events of Spider's Bite. She feels a little bit betrayed, because she feels like maybe she didn't know Fletcher after all. Why does he have the folder about her past and why hadn't he told her he knew that her sister was alive? What does he want her to do with this information?
Gin's frustration, though, became mine. Ok, you're feeling a bit lost. But golly gee whiz, can you stop moping about the folder Fletcher left you and do something about it? If, like me, you were hoping this book would have a lot to do with the contents of that folder, you're in for a disappointment. For all but maybe the last 10% NO progress is made on that front. Gin just wonders about it the whole book.
Ultimately that was okay, because Web of Lies had plenty of action to keep me happy. Fletcher's life before Gin and Fin (his son) comes to light and sends Gin down a very different, and yet somehow familiar, path. The good detective Donovan Kane is back for the fun - once again trying to figure out the balance between what's legal and what's right - not to mention how his feelings for Gin factor in. A new potential love interest and big player also shows up - Owen Grayson - and I'm VERY interested. He may just be better for Gin than Donovan. Or he may be trouble - I'm not quite sure.
For me, the highlight was once again the magic/world that Jennifer Estep has created. It's so intricate and even after leaving it for more than a year, I easily slid back in and had no trouble remembering how things work. In fact, it was so easy to reorient myself, I found myself saying things with the narrator - Lauren Fortgang. I think this was mainly that there was a bit of predictability - not boring in the least, but takes away some of the potential wow factor. It could also be that Lauren's narration is so slow paced. I love her voices for the characters and for me, she's the perfect Gin, so I'll definitely be continuing in audio. She just has slightly longer than I would like pauses - sometimes I would think I accidentally hit pause or something, they would be so long. Not a deal breaker, especially if you can speed up your playback (I can't on my Audible app).
If you're a fan of action, snarky main characters, and well developed worlds, I recommend this series. I'm eager to see if the next book will dig further into the mystery of Gin's past than Web of Lies did!
If you thought the first book liked to reiterate plot points (like what happened to Gin's family, or who characters are or where Gin stashes her knives), then buckle yourself in because you're likely to fall asleep at the wheel and crash your car listening to this monotonous repetition of everything. Don't worry if you didn't read the first book, this one tells you what happened. Several times. Then, in case you got lost on the current 'plot' it will remind you of that too. Forgot that Gin's family is dead? Don't worry, she'll remind you. Forgot who Mab Monroe is? Don't fret! Another long winded description is only a page or two away! The book was better than half over before anything like plot started happening. I have to wonder if the entire plot line with the lawyer's son wasn't added in to make the thing actual novel length.
As though that was't bad enough, we have the continuation of the forced 'relationship' between Gin and the detective ("His eyes met mine. Grey on gold." gag). I don't understand why Gin is so determined that the fact she's a (retired) murderer shouldn't matter to the only non-corrupt cop in the city. Are we really supposed to take her side on this? She goes on and on about how he should overcome his morals because he's physically attracted to her. What? It makes no sense to me.
Anyway, moral of the story, I won't be buying any more of this series.
I love this series! The narrator is great also! I love that the narrator is the same for each book.
Jennifer Estep has a way of making it real!
I'm a Canadian book blogger who loves audiobooks. My favourite genres are sci-fi and fantasy, especially anything paranormal.
I enjoyed Gin’s character and her antics. She’s sassy and straight forward and knows her mind. She’s a fun UF heroine who is a pleasant to watch work. The narration is a great voice for Gin, and is very easy to listen to.
I have only listed to Lauren Fortgang narrate this series, but I like her style. It really fits this series.
One thing I did notice about this book that I didn’t enjoy was the amount of repetition in it. There seemed like a lot of things were repeated over and over until I just wanted to scream. I’m not stupid, I don’t need the same details spelled out for me repeatedly.
Sci-fi, detective, cozy. Only give 5s to those books I think stand above the rest. 4 is a good solid book. 3 is average, nothing special.
A bit better than the first one, not much. Her writing has settled down a bit. However, there I still have no emotional attachment to any of the characters, and while there is a mild interest in how the story turns out, it's just mild.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
When I read "Spiders's Bite", the first book in this series. last September I thought the series showed promise because, Gin Blanco, the Elemental Assassin of the title, was refreshingly amoral and because Lauren Fortgang's narration brought the book alive.
"Web of Lies" has some good things going for it - if it hadn't I would never have made it to the end of the book because it also has a lot of things wrong with it.
There is a basis for a really good series here. The characters continue to develop. We learn more about them through well-handled back-story and by seeing how they behave under physical and moral pressure. Estep makes sure that Gina Blanco is not one-dimensional, giving us just enough reasons to care about her to want her to win and to explain the loyalty others show her, while making her just broken enough to do the violent things that are asked of her.
The cast of characters continues from the previous novel and new ones are introduced that you know you will enjoy learning more about. The goody-two-shoes Detective male interest of the first novel gets what he deserves.
There is clearly a book-spanning story arc and it's intriguing enough for me to want to see how it plays out.
The plot for the novel, a basic "Magnificent Seven" set up, is well handled and has enough sub-plots to keep me interested and it's set in spectacular places that are well described.
The dialogue works well. The actions scenes and the violence are convincing and engaging without being pornographic and the magic has enough constraints and consistency to make it convincing.
So what could possibly go wrong?
Estep's editor seems to have been asleep at the wheel. There are number of times when passages giving back story are repeated, sometimes word for word, a few chapters apart. It was like listening again and again to a "Previously, on Elemental Assassin" segment designed for readers who either haven't been paying attention or suffer from short-term memory loss. I can tell you without any reference to the text that Gin was with Fletcher for seventeen years, that's she's been an assassin for seventeen years, that she has a rune on her hand: "a small circle with eight radiating lines, a spider rune, the symbol for patience." because they are repeated so often they are almost a chorus.
It's natural for authors to repeat themselves from one scene to another, including use the same words. Its the editors job to find and eliminate these repetitions.
A good editor would also have prevented Estep from over-using phrases like "I looked at him with my grey eyes" After the third time I was wondering if Gin either had eyes of another colour that she could have used instead or was able to use something other than her eyes to look at people.
A good editor would have corrected the grammar, at least to the point of getting endings and tenses right.
A good editor would have prevented Gin Blanco from going "Mmmmm" EVERY time she sees Detective Doright.
I was left wondering if this book had an editor at all.
My experience of the book was then worsened by the audiobook production standards.
I know Lauren Fortgang can be a good narrator. I enjoyed her reading "Shadow and Bone" and she made "Spider's Bite" come alive but this time I felt that I was listening to a sight-reading in a rehearsal rather than the finished product: stresses where in the wrong places, she ran out of breath and there were inappropriate, pointless pauses. This all adds up to poor production in my view.
Then there's the sex scene. It's not really a sex scene. It's a "Romance Writer's of America", guaranteed -not-to-offend, scene with all the erotic impact of a cold shower. Lauren Fortgang's decision to read this passage slowly, in what I assume was an effort to inject some passion into the dull prose, had me reaching for the "play at twice normal speed" button on my iPod.
I'm going to stick with the series to find out what happens. I just Jennifer Estep got an editor who can help her make her books as good as I think they could be and a producer who gives the narrator an opportunity to do more than phone in their performance.
I seldom write a review, and even more seldom a negative one. the first book in this series was pretty thin (compared to the Jane Yellowrock series, for example) and this one is worse. the use of the deep south as a background is weak, and the settings could have been Chicago or Toronto for that matter. the Jane Yellowrock, Sookie Stackhouse and the "Mark of the Demon" series are also about supernatural women set in Louisiana. the Sookie Stackhouse series gets it right (I was born in Mississippi) to such a degree that those books are as much southern novels as they are vampire genre books. This series just hasn't got any gravitas; the trials and tribulations are stated but not demonstrated; we never really get inside the characters, never feel that there is a reason to invest in the character... I thought the reader did a decent job with the script handed her, but I cannot recommend this series.