Review: The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie

May Contain Spoilers

I love, love LOVE the concept of this series.  The execution – maybe not so much.  Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the US is now comprised of small independent territories, and the oceans are havens for pirates.  Without citizenship on the land, people on the sea are forced to live in flotillas and floating islands. They depend on pirates for the goods needed to survive, so piracy flourishes. In order to combat them, Reckoners, huge water beasts, are bred and trained to defend a ship that they have been bonded with.  What happens when the pirates try to harness the power and brutality of the Reckoners for themselves?  Mass chaos and a threat that puts the ocean biosphere at risk.

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Review: Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I was offered a copy of Hook’s Revenge for review, and how could I possibly refuse? Pirates!  Sword play!  Adventure! It was a no-brainer to load this on my Kindle and start reading.   Following Jocelyn, Hook’s 12 year old daughter, on her grand adventure to Neverland, I was captivated from the first page.  Jocelyn is a rough and tumble girl, with no patience for manners, baths, or hair brushing.  She’s brave and intelligent, but when she’s sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies to learn how to behave in polite society, she bristles at every lesson.  She gets off on the wrong foot with her classmates, and once they discover that she’s the dreaded Captain Hook’s daughter, watch out!  Nobody wants to be her friend, and one of her roommates begins bullying her unmercifully.  While there is little that Jocelyn is afraid of, she is miserable and friendless at school.

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Review: The House of the Four Winds by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I admit it!  I wanted to read The House of the Four Winds because of the cover.  I think it is absolutely breathtaking.  We all know the problem with judging a book by its cover, though.  Sometimes the story doesn’t live up to that gorgeous cover.  In this case, I’m glad I did pick it up.  While the pacing was occasionally frustrating, The House of the Fours Winds was a gripping read none the less.

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Interview with Cassandra Rose Clarke, Author of The Assassin’s Curse

Cassandra Rose Clarke is the author of the fantastic Strange Chemistry release The Assassin’s Curse.  I loved this book, so I am super geeked to have her in the virtual offices today!  Please give her a warm welcome.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] A writer, reader, movie watcher, dinner cooker, and amateur artist.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Assassin’s Curse?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] The Assassin’s Curse is a YA adventure novel about a lady pirate and an assassin who are thrown together when the pirate accidentally activates a curse that had been placed on the assassin before they met. The story has tons of magic, swashbuckling, and adventurous peril — and a teeny hint of romance.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I wanted to write a high fantasy story because I’d never written one before. Originally, The Assassin’s Curse was going to be a short story, and the character of Ananna was going to be a witch, someone more like Leila. However, as I was working on her character, I thought it would be interesting to make her a pirate — I’ve always liked pirates, and you really don’t see that many stories about them. Naji was always going to be an assassin, though, because assassins are just cool.  Really, the novel grew out of an amalgamation of character types and tropes that I find interesting, or that I wanted to play with or subvert.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Naji?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Mysterious, intelligent, moody

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Ananna had a theme song, what would it be?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably “Warrior,” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  Ananna feels like a Yeah Yeah Yeahs kind of girl in general, but I think “Warrior” really captures her personality — as well as her adventures in the book!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Naji’s biggest regret?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably casting the spell that gave him his facial scar — Naji always struck me as the sort of person who would put a lot of stock in being conventionally attractive, and when that was taken away from him, he had some trouble adjusting. That being said, his biggest regret is liable to change over the course of the book and/or the sequel 😉

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things will you never find in Ananna’s pockets?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] This is a hard question! I mean, there are the obvious answers, like a cell phone, a ballpoint pen, or a flash drive. Those things don’t currently exist in her world and won’t ever exist in her lifetime. But if we’re pulling from items that do currently exist in her world? It’s hard to say there’s anything that would never show up in Ananna’s pockets. She’s resourceful. She could find usefulness in pretty much anything.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I pull a lot of influence from popular culture, and I love playing around with tropes. It’s so awesome how you can take these patterns that show up over and over again in books, movies, TV shows, video games, and whatever else, and when you put them together it creates something totally new. It’s a bit like piecing together a scrap quilt.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Quiet: I can’t write with music playing in the background at all. My computer: I’ve never been fond of writing by hand — whenever I try it I wind up throwing out everything I came up with. Daylight: I hate writing at night — or doing any kind of work at night, really. Fortunately my day job gives me a fairly flexible schedule so this isn’t an issue.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] Probably Among Others, by Jo Walton. I devoured it in about two days and then couldn’t get it out of my head for a week or so after. What I loved most about it was the narrator’s voice — it just carried you along with the story. I’d care one or the other about the old school science fiction references, but I loved the 1970s boarding school setting bunches.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I can’t honestly remember I time when I didn’t enjoy reading.  The first book I remember being OMG obsessed with was Mary Downing Hahn’s Wait Till Helen Comes.  I’d read plenty of books before it, of course, but that book was the one that made me realize just how powerful stories can be. Everything about it captured my attention: the isolated, rural setting, the fact that the family has moved into an old church, the strained relationship between the narrator and her sister, and of course Helen, who remains the creepiest ghost I’ve ever encountered. I reread the book a few years ago when I was home sick, and it still creeped me out!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] I love watching TV and going to the movies, and I love talking about TV and movies even more, so I’m often doing one or the other. I also love to cook, draw, and paint, and I do Zumba classes a couple of days a week, because Zumba is awesome.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Cassandra Rose Clarke] There are loads of ways to get in touch with me! My Twitter handle is @mitochondrial. You can also leave a comment on my blog (at www.cassandraroseclarke.com) or email me at cassie@cassandraroseclarke.com. I always try to reply when people contact me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

You can purchase The Assassin’s Curse from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the links below.  Digital edition is only $4.84!

 

About the book:

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Fall into Fantasy Hop-Win The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke!

Welcome to my Fall into Fantasy giveaway,  hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Write Path.This hop runs from October 16 to October 21, and you can win lots of new reads.  Click here for a complete list of blogs participating in the hop.

I recently read The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke and loved it.  I am giving away an ARC of the book, because I know that you’ll enjoy it, too!

About the book:

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her. 
And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.

Entering is easy! Just fill out the widget below. Earn extra entries for following! US addresses only, please.

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Review: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

 

Title:  The Assassin’s Curse

Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke

Publisher:  Strange Chemistry

The Assassin’s Curse Digital (Only $6.01 for the eBook!)

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ananna of the Tanarau abandons ship when her parents try to marry her off to an allying pirate clan: she wants to captain her own boat, not serve as second-in-command to her handsome yet clueless fiance. But her escape has dire consequences when she learns the scorned clan has sent an assassin after her.

And when the assassin, Naji, finally catches up with her, things get even worse. Ananna inadvertently triggers a nasty curse — with a life-altering result. Now Ananna and Naji are forced to become uneasy allies as they work together to break the curse and return their lives back to normal. Or at least as normal as the lives of a pirate and an assassin can be.


Review:

I love books like The Assassin’s Curse.  The premise sounded intriguing, but when I first started reading it, I wasn’t sure that I would like Ananna.  She’s rough and unpolished, the daughter of pirates.  She’s a thief, she lies with aplomb, and she just didn’t seem like someone I wanted to know better.  But like Aria in Under the Never Sky, by the time I reached the fourth chapter, I had a drastic change of heart. While Ananna could be crude and violent, she was also brave and ready to fight for her own freedom.  After fleeing from an arranged marriage, she opens a huge can of worms that includes an assassin with her name on his hit list, a curse that she unwittingly unleashes, and an adventure the likes of which she could have never imagined.  Neither could I, when I first sat down with Ananna and Naji.  By the last page, I wanted more of their story and more of their larger than life journey. Even more than that,  I wanted them to be happy, and to be safe from the dangers that stalked them. 

I read The Assassin’s Curse in less than a day.  It is a fast read, one that you won’t be able to put down.  Ananna careens from one life-threatening situation to the next with the speed and trajectory of a pinball, and the only thing she has to keep her alive is her courage and her razor sharp wits.  She may not have had the benefit of an education like Naji or her ally Marjani, but she is far more clever than either of them.  She also has a steadfast confidence in her own abilities, which gave her an edge in every thing she did.  Ananna is street smart and street savvy; she has been raised among cutthroats and thieves, and she fully expected to take her place as a pirate ship’s captain, whether she was a girl or not.  Her gender just gave her more of a challenge to make her dream of owning her own ship, with her own colors, come true, and she wasn’t going to give that up.  Ditching her stupid fiancé was easier than ditching the scary, shadowy assassin his family set loose on her, but Ananna didn’t even back down from Naji and his deadly, mysterious blood magic. 

I loved the gradual friendship that develops between Ananna and her would be killer.  Naji didn’t strike me as the kind of guy who could take money to commit murder, but when pushed, he suddenly turned into a freaking badass.  One with little common sense, but with all of that magic at his command, he was able to move mountains.  Literally.  What happened after that, well, that was anyone’s guess, especially when he depleted his energy so much that he could barely remain upright.  Given his impulsiveness and, at times, his complete lack of common sense, I wasn’t surprised that he was the victim of an impossible curse.  That Ananna, his would be target, set the curse into motion made the premise of the book that much more enjoyable.  These two extremely diverse people are stuck with each other, not able to venture far apart, and they must learn to get along and, more importantly, learn to work together, to find an answer to Naji’s problem.  As long as the magic shackles them together, Ananna is a target of a different sort.  Powerful magical beings want Naji, and they will do anything to get him, including using, or hurting,  Ananna. 

My one nick pick with the book is, as usual, the lack of an ending, but I felt optimistic and happy when I reached the last page.  I don’t even know why, because Ananna and Naji are left with more questions and challenges than answers at the end.  I think that I just enjoyed spending my time with them so much that Ananna’s optimism rubbed off on me.  She knows that they will overcome all of the impossible tasks before them, and she knows that, one way or another, all of her dreams will come true.  Even though she despairs at Naji’s cluelessness, and even though his disregard cut to the bone, both Ananna and I know this one thing; Naji’s impossible curse has at least one possible cure.  It’s a pity that we must both wait until the next book for him to finally open his eyes to the answer that is sitting right in front of him.

Grade:  B+/A-

Review copy provided by publisher