The Edge of the Abyss

26219455by Emily Skrutskie
Science Fiction
4 of 5 stars

I have been waiting for this since I read the first book last year and it did not disappoint! More pirates, more adventure, more mayhem, more kissing!

Cas has had a tough three weeks since she pledged her loyalty to the pirate queen Santa Elena. But keeping busy with training lets her avoid Swift as much as possible, which is perfect. Then the crew of the Minnow discovers that Bao isn’t the only unregistered Reckoner in the NeoPacific—sightings of the untrained sea monsters, dubbed Hellbeasts, start popping up everywhere, threatening the entire ocean’s ecosystem (not to mention all the ships). Cas must find Bao and train him to fight the Hellbeasts if they want to restore balance to the ocean.

This book is filled with manipulative mind games from Santa Elena and the broken pieces of a relationship between Cas and Swift and I loved every page of it. All three women are ambitious, stubborn, ruthless, selfish, and constantly abrasive to each other. The power dynamics here are just addictive as Swift and Cas try to see if equal footing is even possible, and as Santa Elena challenges them to see who will be her successor. It’s a satisfying character study of pushing people to the brink of their conscience to see what they’ll do.

I felt like I could smell the sea the entire time, this story feels that real! I’m still impressed by how much the writing crams into such a short space. Every sentence is working hard and yet it’s easy to read. This short duology is a swashbuckling adventure you shouldn’t pass up!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, The Edge of the Abyss is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • The Rose Society by Marie Lu – Adelina chose to embrace her powers and it is leading to a rift between her and her sister Violetta, and her allies. It’s also opening a darkness within her that she must face before it destroys her. See my review here.
  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Kestrel and Arin engage in games of deception that affect the war between their nations and the warning desires in their own hearts. For power plays and mind games there’s no better book than this! See my review here.
  • Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – A fun romp of a graphic novel about shape-shifter Nimona’s goal to become a villain’s sidekick. The usual themes of good vs evil, what makes a monster, does your past define you, what is justice, with plenty of good jokes thrown in the mix! See my review here.

What to read again:

Ever since Harry Potter I’ve enjoyed re-reading the previous books in a series before the next one comes out. You get to soak up all the nuances and speculate about what’s going to happen next—it just makes the whole experience richer and more fun! What am I going to start re-reading?

The Bone Season series by Samantha Shannon

This is a case where the first book was on the fence for me in spots, and the second book was amazing! (You can see my reviews here and here). This is a seven-book series set in a futuristic London where clairvoyants (voyants) are hunted by Scion (the government). Paige is a Dreamwalker, a powerful voyant part of a criminal underworld gang (as most voyants are in London) kidnapped as part of Bone Season XX. She learns that behind Scion is an even more powerful, otherworldly force determined to hunt down and destroy the voyants in organized waves known as Bone Seasons. As you can see from my attempt at a summary, the world-building is complex, and that includes a huge cast of characters and vocabulary. I have to say though, that this is a world that sticks with you and I’m very excited for the next installment!

Originally scheduled for a November release, this was delayed until March 2017. However, these books are bit hefty so I decided to promote this re-read with enough time to get through them both, because I have a feeling you’ll need a sharp memory to jump into book three. If you need some assistance, Recaptains has the first book summarized here but there will be spoilers! Get on board now and re-enter Scion in March!

Note: Bloomsbury decided to repackage this series and designed simpler covers for the remaining books. The design on the left is the regular version. The design on the right that matches the previous covers is a special collector’s edition that was available as a pre-order. Both versions will be released on the same day. Going forward, the publisher will be releasing both versions so that if you want, all the hardcovers can match.

Cress

13206828by Marissa Meyer
YA Fantasy / Science Fiction
3 of 5 stars
Third in a quartet

I feel like the last person to read Winter since it came out…four months ago? But I wanted to re-read the entire series first so I spent all of February doing just that! At first, I debated whether I’d even read Cress again (I know) because I felt so pressed for time and I didn’t remember enjoying it all that much the first time I read it. It felt slower, I didn’t connect to Cress as much as I did with Cinder or Scarlet, and if I skipped its 550 pages I’d be reading Winter that much sooner! But thanks to Erin’s encouragement and Kiwi’s review, I picked up a paperback and gave it a second chance. I’m so glad I did! I actually changed my rating on Goodreads (something I’ve never done before) from 2 stars to 3 stars. It’s still my least favorite in the series so far, but the writing is good and this story has none of the errors warranting 2 stars on my rating scale. Unfair rating – overturned!

Cress has spent the last seven years living on a Lunar satellite spying on Earth (particularly Prince Kai and the Commonwealth) for Queen Levana. And secretly protecting Earth and subverting Luna whenever she could. Her skills with hacking and programming are top-notch, which is great, because Cinder’s team needs to stay hidden. When they rescue Cress from her satellite, she thinks her fairy tale dreams are about to come true—until she and Thorne crash-land in the desert, separated from the rest of the crew.

The break-neck speed of the first two books doesn’t last in this one. The pacing loses any sense of urgency as we meander from satellite to desert to final mission. I understand Cress is experiencing the world for the first time, but her lengthy observations and constant emotional assessments drag the action to a gentle walk. Despite all the time we spend in her head, she never feels as concrete as Cinder, Scarlet, or the rest of the crew. She’s understandably coping with issues from her extreme isolation and abusive upbringing, and although this is realistic and well-done, it means her point of view lacks some focus and depth.

However, there’s still plenty of wry humor, laugh out loud moments, and adventure. Kai and Cinder’s complicated relationship gets more time in this book, and Iko is hilarious. Definitely one of the stronger YA series on the market, and I can’t wait to see how it ends!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Cress is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – I feel like Carswell Thorne and Nikolai would get along famously or tear each other apart. This remains one of my favorite “middle books” in a series due to all the action and the fantastic characters. Alina can’t leave her identity as the Sun Summoner or her past with the Darkling behind no matter how far she runs. New allies, new enemies, more dark magic. Alina must make sacrifices to save her country from the Darkling’s rule.
  • Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas – The second in the series finds King’s Assassin Celaena Sardothien surrounded by potential allies and enemies in the court. A greater destiny is calling her that won’t be put off by her petty attempts to undermine the King’s rule. See my review here.
  • A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan – Rosalinda Fitzroy awakens from 62 years of statis to find that everyone she loved is dead, and she is the missing heir to her parents’ interplanetary empire. Rose just wants to pick up the pieces of her life, but not everyone is happy to see her again. This is a dark Sleeping Beauty retelling with an amazing character arc.

 

Scarlet

13206760by Marissa Meyer
YA Fantasy / Science Fiction
4 of 5 stars      
Second in a quartet

We left Cinder with the startling realization of her identity and we pick up with Scarlet, an ordinary girl living on her grandmother’s farm in rural France. Scarlet’s grandmother disappeared three weeks earlier, and Scarlet is worried sick about her. But the police have no leads and no interest, and she doesn’t know what to do—until a mysterious street-fighter named Wolf shows up. He is both charmingly naïve and ruthlessly tough, and he has the only lead to her grandmother, if Scarlet can trust him.

I love Scarlet—I know her temper and trusting nature might not endear her to everyone, but I actually felt given the stress of her situation she was pretty grounded. As a follow-up to Cinder’s practical expertise (and snark), Scarlet was an interesting protagonist with her own goals and opinions. There’s a lot of fast-paced adventure and betrayal in this book and although there are still visible nods to the original fairy tale of Red Riding Hood, that doesn’t make the story predictable.

Most of this book takes place over a 48-hour period! While Cinder is escaping prison with the help of fellow fugitive Carswell Thorne, Scarlet is trekking across the French countryside by ship, train, and foot. Of course they are going to meet up—but the journey there provides a surprising amount of time for character development in between shootouts and frenetic chases. When you finish, all you want is the next book!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Scarlet is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan – A sci-fi retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Rose wakes up after 62 years in suspended animation to find that everyone she loved is dead and she is the heiress to the largest company in the world. But not everyone is excited about her return, and she has to find out who her real allies are before someone makes her disappear again.
  • The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey – This feels similar to me in a weird way, just with the combination of magic and intrigue in the real world. It’s a very fun story about Echo the thief who decides to steal something the world wants: the firebird. See my review here.
  • Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey – Killashandra isn’t talented enough to be an opera singer, but when the opportunity for a lucrative mining position opens up, she takes it immediately. Mining the valuable crystals requires tuning the tools with her own voice, and Killa may have found something more satisfying than being on stage after all. This is an older sci-fi story that is rather unique.
  • Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo – The second book in this YA fantasy trilogy follows Alina and Mal as they try to escape the Darkling. But Alina’s powers are hard to hide, and she begins to realize that beating the Darkling to the legendary living amplifiers of Grisha power might be the best way to stop him.

To Hold the Bridge

23213811by Garth Nix
YA Fantasy/Science Fiction
3 of 5 stars

Reviewing a book of short stories is hard, even if they are all by the same person. In a collection this size, there were some that I absolutely loved–so much that I wished they were full-length novels–and there were others I struggled to get into, despite knowing they would only be 20-30 pages long. Overall, I’m a fan of his work, and I would recommend these as a way to explore a bunch of worlds and premises in a short amount of time. These are well-written and the majority do an excellent job of pulling you into some level of suspense within the first few pages.

I was most excited about the Old Kingdom novella, To Hold the Bridge. The Old Kingdom Trilogy (Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen) is one of my favorites, and I was excited to get back into that world. It wasn’t quite what I’d hoped–much of the novella is set-up, and the only action occurs at the very end. There’s a lot of exposition, but I was hoping for more from the characters. As always, it just left me wanting more of the Old Kingdom! Another story is a prequel to his novel Shade’s Children, so fans of that book would probably enjoy this peek at that world. It made me want to read it!

The rest of them were a nice surprise and I enjoyed the obvious creative freedom he had with this collection. It felt like anything he ever felt like writing about but couldn’t put into a book deal was included in this volume, and it’s a fun read!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, To Hold the Bridge is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Sabriel by Garth Nix – My favorite Nix novel and the first book in the Old Kingdom trilogy. Sabriel must fight the Dead as she tries to save her father and their kingdom. See my review here.
  • Shade’s Children by Garth Nix – The enigmatic computer-generated Shade rescues children from the Overlord’s dormitories before they are killed and harvested to make war machines. All he wants in return is for them to provide information from increasingly dangerous missions. I haven’t read it yet but this sci-fi novel is one of his more well-known works.
  • Rags and Bones edited by Melissa Marr and Tim Pratt – This collection of short stories crosses all genres with a paranormal thread running through all of them. See my review here.

Ender’s Game

375802by Orson Scott Card
Science Fiction
5 of 5 stars
Debut novel – first in series – 1985

I regret that it took me so long to read this book, especially since I can give it such an excellent rating. I loved every page of this story! The edition I read came with an introduction from the author that added insights about critical and popular reaction to its publication. Much of the debate was based on the fact that he wrote it as simply as possible. His style reminds me of Hemingway, the ultimate dry writer, but I like it much more. The author discussed the strange idea that declares any fiction understood by the masses isn’t worthy of acclaim or isn’t thought-provoking, and how that just isn’t true. Metaphors, subtle themes, and symbolism don’t mean a story is better or for better people. That belief is evident here. It’s one of the few times that an author’s ideology has felt very present without detracting from my enjoyment of the story.

The technology is believable–not just believable, but an accurate prediction in most cases–the characters are compelling, and the pacing is perfect. It’s undeniably science fiction (humans are in a star-ship war with aliens) but not much time is spent on space-travel or weaponry itself. The characters are always “on-screen” and driving the plot, so there are no huge chunks of exposition getting in the way.

The key relationships in the story are between Ender and his equally brilliant siblings, which isn’t something I come across often. Their interactions and reactions were the most interesting, especially as they demonstrated how clever people often find themselves being manipulated but can’t stop it. This story will leave you uncomfortable and thoughtful.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Ender’s Game is available on Goodreads and its parent company Amazon. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!


Similar reads:

  • Acorna: The Unicorn Girl by Anne McCaffrey and Margaret Ball – A saga following an alien girl discovered by some miners. They travel the galaxy on several quests, exploring themes of injustice and genocide.
  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – The flip side of an Orwellian future; in this story everyone is controlled through pleasure, not pain.
  • The Time Machine by H. G. Wells – A short but poignant meditation on the human condition as the time-traveler explores the future.
  • Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – In an alternate timeline, the Axis Powers won WWII, and a Jewish girl named Yael escaped is on a mission to kill the Fuhrer. She just has to win a cross-country motorcycle race first. And she has to do it by impersonating the previous year’s winner. See my review here.

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