Always forever maybe book cover

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer Estep

Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) by Jennifer EstepTouch of Frost (Mythos Academy, #1) by Jennifer Estep
Published by Kensington -Teen on August 1st 2011
Pages: 350
Goodreads
four-stars

My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy; a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest. But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why; especially since I should have been the one who died...

I’ve been reading a lot of books lately featuring characters finding themselves forcibly shipped to supernatural or mythical boarding schools. These types of books seem to be in an upward trend lately, some good and some not-so good, so needless say, I was both anxious and weary of what Mythos Academy was like.

I found that Touch of Frost wasn’t too unique when it came to characterization. Our main character, Gwen Frost is Mythos Academy’s underdog. Basically in the beginning of the book, she’s on the outside looking in. Surrounded by tons of warriors-to-be, Gwen feels like an outcast. Although she has an, in my opinion, wicked cool power called psychometry (ability to see flashes and witness the history that comes along with touching certain objects and people), it doesn’t really help her when giant panther-like prowlers decide she’s a tasty meal. Thankfully though Mythos’ sexy and dangerous, Logan Quinn, resident bad-boy and bad-ass Spartan keeps an eye out for Gwen. Gwen, who I should mention, is also sometimes referred to as “Gypsy Girl”. Throw in a bunch of rich-snobbish Valkeryies, Mythos’ popular, girl clique, and you’ve got the plot for a half-a-dozen other books. This review might sound kind of negative, but don’t me wrong, I did like this book. A lot. There’s just a few bones I had to pick, including the not-so original character lineup.

Like I was saying, this book might have some downward moments, but there’s also a lot of good quirks too. Gwen Frost, although not super-strong or super-fast like many of her classmates, is pretty kick-ass in her own way. She’s feisty in the sense that even when Logan Quinn starts to sweet talk her, she makes it known, multiple times, that she’s not going to be another one of his many female playmates. Rumors around Mythos’ claim that he’s the play-boy type, and although as a reader we haven’t learnt if this rumor is completely true, I was still proud of Gwen for standing strong. She’s not easily bullied and I really respect that.
This is me sort of rambling but… I wanted to give a small shout out to Gwen’s grandma. I don’t know if it was solely the writing or the fact that I miss my own grandma a bit (being away school sucks at times); but I basically loved grandma Frost. She’s very wise, in many ways. Not just because she’s been around and seen many things, but also because of her gift to glimpse the future. She’s basically the only real, steady rock in Gwen’s shaky life. Also, she make’s very yummy cookies and other baked goods. Best. Gramma. Ever. Right!? Okay back to actual reviewing…

Touch of Frost was a fun ride. The writing style was very easy follow and flowed very well. There was a nice balance of description and dialogue so it was easy to pay attention and not lose focus. Although, not incredibly-original, the various characters, Logan, Morgan, Daphne, Gwen, and so forth, were very likable and believable. Morgan, Mythos’ second-most popular girl, and “known” wi-atch, was completely believable in the sense that you couldn’t stand her.
Another aspect of Touch of Frost that I really enjoyed was its compilation of various myths and religions throughout the world. Most books tend to focus on just one set of gods and goddesses, Greek, for instance. However in Touch of Frost a plethora of different gods and goddesses and their warriors were introduced such as Roman, Egyptian, Japanese, Irish, Norse, and so forth. I think including all the different mythological gods, heroes, and creatures, was a great idea. It really opened the story up to more possibilities. I could easily see spin-offs and other stories branching of from these original novels. With a school full of heroes-to-be there’s endless, unique possibilities for new adventures and stories.

I should also mention that although Touch of Frost is classified as a YA book there’s quite a bit of mature and almost vulgar dialect (a little bit), so I’d say this book is for older teens and up.

four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) by Jennifer Estep

Bright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade #3) by Jennifer EstepBright Blaze of Magic (Black Blade, #3) by Jennifer Estep
Published by Kensington on April 26th 2016
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-stars

Bad Things Always Come In Threes…

As a thief, I'm good at three things: hiding in the shadows, getting in and out unseen, and uncovering secrets. I put these skills to work for the Sinclair Family, one of the magical mobs that run the tourist town of Cloudburst Falls.

Everyone knows Victor Draconi wants to take over all the other Families--and kill every last Sinclair. What they don't know is that I'm on to him, and no way will I let the man who murdered my mom get away with hurting all the other people I care about. Especially when I've got places to break into, stuff to steal, and Devon Sinclair fighting right by my side…

Bright Blaze of Magic is the third book in the Black Blade trilogy by Jennifer Estep. All the events in books one, two and three take place in the span of one summer in the magical tourist trap known as Cloudburst Falls.

Lila Merriweather is sassy, clever, strong, sneaky, and hilarious. Honestly, Lila is everything you could want and hope for in a book’s heroine. She’s a go-getter. You need something done? Lila’s got the bad-ass stealth and fighting skills to get the job done.

Lila is the star of the series not just because she is the heroine or that she has an awesome supernatural ability, but rather because of whom she is as a person. She’s kind, caring and brave. Lila’s fiercely protective of those she cares about.

The town Lila lives in isn’t just oozing with magical creatures like; tree trolls, copper crushers and the lochness monster, it’s also chock-full of mobsters. Since birth, Lila’s mother taught Lila to respect the local monsters and distance herself from the mobsters. In Cloudburst Falls, there’s humans that are even more “monster” than the monsters.

Since book one Cold Burn of Magic, the main plot of the series has been building towards Victor Draconis (head of the Draconis family mob) attacking Claudia Sinclair (head of the Sinclair family mob), as well as any other families that side with the Sinclairs. This attack actually happens in the first couple chapters of Bright Blaze of Magic. I loved how we were able to jump right into the action however, the middle part of the book, which occurred in about a 24 hour span was very long and dare I say lackluster. Claudia, Mo and the majority of the Sinclairs are kidnapped by Victor, while the rest of the gang, Lila, Felix and Devon are working to get them back. A lot of the middle section felt like filler. I think Bright Blaze of Magic could have been just as a compelling story if a quarter or so of the book had been shaved off.

The last section of the book however was great! It was full of action and shocking twists. I had chills of excitement during the final showdown between the Draconis’ and Sinclairs.

I really enjoyed the Black Blade series but I don’t love it like I did Estep’s Mythos Academy series. I’m sad to say goodbye to Lila, but I feel like her character arc peaked. I don’t think I want to read another book in her POV but I’d definitely be into another character taking over, say Deah, who still has a lot of emotions to work through. A magical place like Cloudburst Falls filled with monsters, mobsters, and mayhem definitely has more stories to tell that I’d be interested in!

If you like snarky heroines that kick ass, a lot of action, slow budding romance and of course the lochness monster, you should checkout this series. It’s so easy to jump into these books and have a great time!
four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2)\ by Jennifer Estep

Dark Heart of Magic (Black Blade #2)\ by Jennifer EstepDark Heart of Magic (Black Blade, #2) by Jennifer Estep
Published by Kensington on October 27th 2015
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-stars

"Jennifer Estep is a genius!" --Simply Nerdy

Something Wicked This Way Comes . . .

As a thief, I stick to the shadows as much as possible. But when the head of the Sinclair Family picks me to compete in the Tournament of Blades, there's no escaping the spotlight--or the danger.

Even though he's my competition, Devon Sinclair thinks I have the best shot at winning what's supposed to be a friendly contest. But when the competitors start having mysterious "accidents," it looks like someone will do anything to win--no matter who they hurt.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about, mobster Victor Draconi is plotting against Devon and the rest of my friends, and someone's going around Cloudburst Falls murdering monsters. One thing's for sure. Sometimes, humans can be more monstrous than anything else...

Last March I devoured Jennifer Estep’s Cold Burn of Magic, the first, in what I knew then, would be an awesome new series. I have to admit though, I was pretty confident that Lila Merriweather and her adventures would become a new favorite of mine due to the fact that I’m a huge fan of Estep’s Mythos Academy series. Estep knows how to write smooth story lines with kick-ass heroines that you can’t get enough of therefore, book two, Dark Heart of Magic was on the top of my to-read list. When I got my hands on a copy I stopped reading my current book (sorry – Scorpion Rules) so I could see what zany feats Lila was up to in the latest installment. I was not disappointed!

Lila lives in a magical tourist trap. Her town is inhabited by all kinds of magical creatures including trolls, pixies, and the lochness monster. A few powerful magic-wielding families(read: mobs) run and make profit from the various attractions. In Cold Burn of Magic we learned that Lila’s mother Serena was killed by Victor Draconis, the head of most feared family in town. Victor, who for a while has been trying to eradicate the other families so he could reign supreme, feared Serena and her strong magical abilities. In Dark Heart of Magic we see Lila continue to work towards her ultimate goal of making Victor pay for what he did to her mother. But Dark Heart of Magic isn’t all about revenge. There’s also some romance…

Lila’s feelings for Devon, which developed in book one, continue to intensify in book two. Lila sees how good, strong and kind Devon is, yet she’s torn because she has plans to ditch town once the Draconis problem has been removed and she doesn’t want to get too attached to Devon. I applauded Lila for sticking to her guns but I also felt sorry for her. There’s so many people in her life now who care about her like Oscar, Devon, Mo, and Felix, but she still keeps them at an arm’s length. In this latest installment Lila really comes to realize how important family is and that the possibility of losing someone doesn’t mean you should have never been close to them in the first place. You’ve got to live life to the fullest while you can because you never know how short it will be, especially in Lila’s town.

Although Victor Draconis is the overall problem in this series, Estep doesn’t rely on just him to be the villain. There’s other dangers lurking in town and it’s up to Lila to figure out what’s going on before the body count begins to rise.

I love this series. It reads quick and keeps you hooked. This is the first book in a long time that had me staying up late to finish. I just didn’t want to put it down because the ending was smashing! Figuratively and literally. Hah!

 

four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer EstepCold Burn of Magic (Black Blade, #1) by Jennifer Estep
Published by Kensington on April 28th 2015
Pages: 323
Goodreads
four-stars

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It's not as great as you'd think, living in a tourist town that's known as "the most magical place in America." Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I've got my mom's bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend's pawn shop, and I have to make a call--get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn't. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I'm stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I'm going to end up just like her. . .

Cold Burn of Magic (Black Blade #1) by Jennifer Estep
Published by: Kensington on April 28, 2015
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 323
Goodreads
Rating: 4 stars

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call–get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her. . .


I’ve never been a huge fan of mobsters, but trade guns for swords, and add a dash of magic, and I can get on board. Cloudburst Falls is open and proud of their pixies, ogres, and yes, even the lochness monster. A handful of powerful families have turned the town into a magical tourist attraction, and sure, a tourist might disappear occasionally, but business still booms.

Lila, our main character, is a spitfire. Sharp, resourceful, and sarcastically hilarious, Lila really holds her own when it comes to dealing with the local monsters and mobsters. She’s an accomplished thief with the skills to get out of the stickiest situations. Being an orphan, Lila knows the consequences that come from being involved in mob business.

Cold Burn of Magic is dark and funny. Murder isn’t taboo; it’s a way of life in Lila’s world.

I loved how magic in this book was limited. In fact, the magic in this series was closer to X-Men in the sense that some individuals had just one, maybe two, extraordinary abilities.

The monsters/mythical creatures were also a fun and creative addition to the story.

If you like contemporary fantasies, and sassy heroines, grab Cold Burn of Magic. Jennifer Estep, author of multiple series, including Mythos Academy, is skilled when it comes to spinning unique and addicting stories.

four-stars
Always forever maybe book cover

Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy #4) by Jennifer Estep

Crimson Frost (Mythos Academy #4) by Jennifer EstepCrimson Frost (Mythos Academy, #4) by Jennifer Estep
Published by K-Teen on December 24th 2012
Pages: 354
Goodreads
four-half-stars

For a moment, a face flashed before my eyes—the most hideous face I’d ever seen. No matter how hard I tried to forget what had happened, I saw him everywhere I went. It was Loki—the evil god that I’d helped set free against my will.

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…

Thanks KTeen for providing me with this ARC in exchange for a honest review.

When it comes to Mythos Academy, no matter what I’m doing, or whatever mood I may be in; I can easily pick up one of these books and get completely sucked into the story. Estep does a great job of keeping the reader enticed with the perfect blend of action, humor, romance and suspense. The Mythos books are formulaic, always leaving off on a cliffhanger by way of the predecessor’s suspenseful first chapter. When Crimson Frost picked right up where Dark Frost left off, a very WTF-moment, I kissed going to bed early that night–good bye!

For me, Gwen Frost is an all-around likable character. She’s got a good mix of smarts, snark, and lots and lots of guts. She’s not afraid to jump right into a brawl when her friends and family are in danger. However, on the flip-side, she tends to jump in head-first not really thinking the situation through. A lot of planning is “fly by the seat of her pants”. I don’t hold any of it against her though because her heart is always in the right place. When it comes to protecting those whom she loves, to Gwen, no sacrifice is too great.

Where would this review be without mention of Mythos Academy’s most bad-ass Spartan, Logan Quinn. My reviews for the previous books haven’t really mentioned Logan that much. You can tell that I have completely fallen for him by this point. In Crimson Frost were reminded once again why we love this gorgeous yet deadly, blue-eyed beauty. To most of the characters in this book, Logan Quinn appears cool and dangerous. Back when reading book one, I can remember having mixed feelings towards him. In novels there’s usually two types of bad boys; the ones who occasionally appear sweet but end up being ass-y through and through; and two, the ones that appear ass-y in the beginning but through time it’s revealed that they’ve got an extra-thick shell that needs to be cracked (like Logan). Logan’s vulnerable side peeks out more in Crimson Frost. We learn a lot about his family dynamic, including the animosity between him and his father. I loved seeing the interaction between these two. Logan’s father immediately takes a disliking of Gwen so it’s great to see how Logan reacts. Lets just say that Logan shows us once again how uber-protective and charming he can be.

The characters, both main and supporting, continue to amaze me. They have been doing a lot of growing in the last couple books. They all started out with quirks such as pettiness, lack of confidence, fear of intimacy, shyness, and so forth, and have been slowly but surely moving past these limitations.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I just love how this series encompasses all types of mythology. At Mythos Academy you have ninjas, vikings, amazons, Spartans, gypsies and more! It’s wonderful having the world so wide open because there’s so many possibilities. I can easily see potential spin-off(s) in the future. *crosses fingers*

From start to finish, Crimson Frost had me hooked. With great pacing, character development and plot, this is easily one of my favorite books in the series. In each book, the situations become more dire and the danger more real. After the disastrous event that happened at the end of book three and the secrets that were revealed, Gwen is more than ever prepared to fight for not just her family and friends, but for the world itself in.

I give Crimson Frost 4.5 stars. I was so close to giving it 5 stakes but I just couldn’t. There is one bone I have to pick. I haven’t mentioned it before, but the reminders thrown throughout books 2, 3 and now 4 are driving me nuts. A little refresher here and there is fine, even though this isn’t really the type of series you start reading out of order, but enough is enough. Some things such as that Gwen regularly finds used condoms in the back of the library stacks, is a fact I don’t need to read every book. Some things are worth re-mentioning for memory purposes, others, not so much.

four-half-stars