Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}

Drowning Instinct by Ilsa J. Bick {Audio Review}Title: Drowning Instinct
Author: Ilsa J. Bick
Publisher: Brilliance Audio on February 1, 2012
Format: Audiobook, 9 hrs and 46 mins
Source: Purchased
5 Stars
Summary

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Jenna Lord’s first sixteen years were not exactly a fairytale. Her father is a controlling psycho and her mother is a drunk. She used to count on her older brother—until he shipped off to Afghanistan. And then, of course, there was the time she almost died in a fire.

There are stories where the monster gets the girl, and we all shed tears for his innocent victim. (This is not one of those stories either.)

Mitch Anderson is many things: A dedicated teacher and coach. A caring husband. A man with a certain… magnetism.

And there are stories where it’s hard to be sure who’s a prince and who’s a monster, who is a victim and who should live happily ever after. (These are the most interesting stories of all.)

Drowning Instinct is a novel of pain, deception, desperation, and love against the odds—and the rules.

My thoughts

After reading Katie’s review of Drowning Instinct over at Blook Girl, I picked up the audio version, and I’m so glad I did.

Jenna is rescued from a near-drowning and while in the hospital, an officer gives her a tape recorder and asks her to record what happened, how she ended up in the frozen lake. So she starts at the beginning: her troubled home life, her arrival at a new school and everything that happens after. She pulls no punches and spares no details.

Jenna is a hot mess. She’s had an unfortunate upbringing which includes a fire that nearly killed her, being molested, living with a drunk mother and a super controlling father, being abandoned by her military-bound brother and self cutting. Unsurprisingly, she has some issues. She was a likable character, though. She had her moments of whining or brattiness, but she deserves some slack.

The infamous teacher, Mitch, well… I had some issues. He’s relatable and nice enough, and I understand he has his own issues, but he’s an adult. I’ve seen many reviews that say this story shows it’s not all black and white, that there are some gray areas, but I disagree. An adult is an adult is an adult. He should know better, no matter what’s going on in his life. But, let’s put that aside for now and just go with it, for the sake of this review. As a general character, I did like Mitch. He was kind and friendly and I think he truly wanted to be there for Jenna, who clearly needed someone to be on her side.

The other characters were there to be mean or bad to our 2 main characters, so we’d feel sorry for them. And they succeeded. They weren’t full characters, more like caricatures of people. But that’s okay, they served their purpose and I really just wanted to spend more time with Mitch and Jenna. Because even though I would oppose such a relationship in real life, I loved reading about it! They had some great scenes together, very sweet and romantic (if maybe a bit clinical).

Ilsa J. Bick has a way with words (not a surprise to me, having read her book Ashes), but I was still impressed with the way she weaved the story together. There was a bit of action, a lot of mystery, some romance and even witty dialogue. Several times I found myself anxious to know what happened next, and this was the only frustrating part about listening to the audio version – where I would normally skip a bit to get to the next scene, because I just couldn’t wait, I was forced to wait for the narrator to get there.

Speaking of the narrator, Kathleen McInerney did a fabulous job of bringing the story to life. At first I thought she sounded too young, but it worked and she soon became Jenna. Also, since the entire story is Jenna speaking into a microphone, there was a certain “rightness” of listening to the story, as opposed to reading it.

This is sometimes a hard story, for the subject matter, but it’s an interesting one. The writing is taut and kept me on the edge of my seat many times. And you know that bit from the book’s summary:

There are stories where the girl gets her prince, and they live happily ever after. (This is not one of those stories.)

Keep that bit in mind.

The sum up

I love everything about this book.

About the author

ilsa j. bickAmong other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I’m supposed to write things like, “Ilsa J. Bick is .” Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I’m not in the room. Helloooo, I’m right here . . . So let’s just say that I’m a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

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Review: Shadowlands by Kate Brian

Title: Shadowlands
Author: Kate Brian
Publisher: January 8th 2013 by Hyperion
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Southern ARC Tours
Series: Shadowlands | Untitled
3 owls

 

Summary

Rory Miller had one chance to fight back and she took it. Rory survived… and the serial killer who attacked her escaped. Now that the infamous Steven Nell is on the loose, Rory must enter the witness protection with her father and sister, Darcy, leaving their friends and family without so much as a goodbye.

Starting over in a new town with only each other is unimaginable for Rory and Darcy. They were inseparable as children, but now they can barely stand each other. As the sisters settle in to Juniper Landing, a picturesque vacation island, it seems like their new home may be just the fresh start they need. They fall in with a group of beautiful, carefree teens and spend their days surfing, partying on the beach, and hiking into endless sunsets. But just as they’re starting to feel safe again, one of their new friends goes missing. Is it a coincidence? Or is the nightmare beginning all over again?

My thoughts

Rory is taking a shortcut through the woods on her way home when she is attacked by one of the teachers from her school. She manages to escape before he can hurt her, and she and her family are put on lockdown while they search for the teacher, who turns out to be an infamous serial killer. Afraid he’ll come back and finish the job, the police send Rory and her family into witness protection. They end up on a vacation-destination island and though it’s hard, they all start to adjust. Then weird things start happening and Rory can’t decide if the killer is on the island, or if she’s just being paranoid.

The story started a minute or two before the attack, so there was no time to get to know Rory and her family before everything started to happen. For me, it was hard to feel sorry for her and all she was losing because I never really knew her. Rory’s sister, Darcy, was a spoiled brat and I never really learned to like her at all. I kept wondering why their dad (or Rory) didn’t just tell her to shut the hell up already. Of course, he was pretty absent emotionally, thanks to the death of their mother a few years before. The friends they met on the island were entirely one-dimensional and we never learned anything about them.

There were a few moments when I was nervous while reading the book, but I was never actually scared. Once or twice, I skipped a paragraph or two so I could get the suspense over with. After finishing, there were a few questions I still had, and I’m glad there will be another book to follow this one because I would hate to have the story end like it did. Speaking of the ending – it was intended to be a huge revelation, though I had suspected it for at least the last few chapters. But that didn’t stop me from going back and re-reading parts of the book, to make it all fit together in my mind.

Some parts of the book were just too unbelievable for me. For instance, when the police send the family off to witness protection, they just hand them a packet and keys to a new car while standing in their driveway and say “Good luck, and don’t tell anyone who you really are.” That’s it. They didn’t escort them to their new home or even check around to make sure it was safe. Someone could have just followed them to their new home. They didn’t have an emergency number to call or a local contact for just in case. The behavior of some of their new neighbors was bizarre. At some point, I would think someone would have said “That’s just too odd. Something weird must be going on.”

The cover is very pretty, and fits the mood of the story but the model has the wrong color hair. We know Rory had long blond hair, because the killer was obsessed with it and tasted it during the attack at the beginning of the book.

The sum up

Though I had a few issues with Shadowlands, I’m looking forward to picking up the sequel. I definitely need my lingering questions answered.

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Review: For What It’s Worth by Karey White

for what its worthTitle: For What It’s Worth
Author: Karey White
Publisher: December 2012 by Cedar Fort
Format: Paperback, 240 pages
Source: I Am A Reader, Not A Writer Blog Tours

 

Summary

Twenty-four year-old, Abby Benson has dreams of owning her own wedding cake shop. An inheritance from her aunt gives her the ability to make those dreams come true. She hires Dane, a handsome contractor, to help her get the bakery up and running and soon they’re moving toward their own happy ending.

Unsure what to charge for her cakes, Abby has a crazy idea to let the customers decide what they think their cake is worth. This plan has its ups and downs, but the novelty of the idea makes her a local celebrity. When she is interviewed on television about the unusual idea, business booms and Abby has cake adventures she never dreamed possible. But as her fame grows, Abby is swept up in a whirlwind that threatens everything she values. With the challenges that face her, will she be able to determine what is worth the most?

My thoughts

Abby has just lost her beloved aunt, who was very generous in her will.  Aunt Grace left Abby a large sum of money and suggested she start start a bakery with it. She even mentioned a location that would be perfect. After some pondering (she could use the money to buy herself a nice little house and relax), she decides to follow her heart. She and her hottie contracter hit it off until the bakery starts making it big. Suddenly it looks like like Dane and Abby may have different goals in life.

All of the characters in For What It’s Worth were lovable and easy to like. Abby was a lovely, nice young woman who got caught up in the excitement of a new business, and all the work that involved. Dane was a nice young man just waiting for the right girl to come along so he could settle down. Abby’s parents, brother, sister and brother-in-law were all nice and very supportive of Abby and her dreams. Dane’s family was nice and looked out for his best interests. Do you sense a theme here? Everyone was very nice. There were no bad guys or potential rapists or thugs. Even Mr. Not-Right, whom Abby went on a date with, was nice. His only flaw was his enthusiasm.

The real crux of the book was whether Abby and Dane would be able to make it work. They seemed so right together, yet they had a serious inability to communicate with each other, which caused all sorts of problems. Sometimes I just wanted to shake them and say “Just tell him how you feel!” or “Ask her about it already!” Of course, that could just be the sign of a very engaging book…

The plot moved along at a quick pace, except for about 3/4 of the way through when Abby and Dane had their problems. I thought that part dragged a bit, and there was a lot of… whining. I think it aggravated me that they couldn’t just talk to each other. Even after certain issues were out in the open, they still acted too scared to say what they were thinking. Instead, they skated around the real problems and stayed miserable.

This was a very clean book – nary a bad work or adult beverage in sight. It was actually kind of nice to read a book where all the couple did was hug and kiss, even after 9 months. There was never talk about sex, or whether they should or shouldn’t. It just wasn’t an option, so it was never put out there by either of them. Religion played a part in the book, because it was an important part of the character’s lives. They discussed their religion, went to church every week and did a lot of praying.

Also – I think I gained 10 pounds just reading the book. Every chapter started with a new recipe, and most of them were scrumptious. I bookmarked 2 to try later.

The sum up

The next time you’re looking for a sweet and clean story, give this one a try and you won’t be disappointed.

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Review: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

dash & lily's book of daresTitle: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
Author: Rachel Cohn, David Levithan
Publisher: October 26th 2010 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback, 260 pages
Source: NetGalley

Summary

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the “New York Times” bestselling authors of “Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.” Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My thoughts

Lily is (unhappily) all alone during the holidays, thanks to her parents ditching her for a long-awaited vacation. In an effort to find someone who “gets” her, she leaves a red notebook on the shelf of a public bookstore. Dash, (happily) alone at Christmas after leting each of his divorced parents think he was spending the holiday with the other, is enjoying this quiet time to himself when he stumbles upon a red notebook on a shelf in The Strand. The notebook challenges Dash to complete a task and once he does, he challenges the notebook’s author right back.  So begins a weekend of getting to know each other by writing their thoughts, dreams and desires in the notebook.

Dash and Lily were fun characters. They were both sweet and kind. They were each dealing with their own personal issues, though none were what I would call “deep”. They both seemed to know exactly what they wanted out of life, and how to get it. They had great senses of humor and were both willing to try something new and be adventurous. Before they met for real, you just knew they were going to get along fabulously.

There were a few things that bugged me, like the fact that Lily knew (or was related to) at least 1 person in practically every one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. That eventually became too unbelieveable. Also, their characters were just too hipster for me. Like David and Rachel were creating the coolest, most nonconformist characters they could think of. But there were also things I enjoyed about the book, like the alternating points of view (Dash and Lily, natch). They were both authentic and that made it easy to get into their heads. I loved the little snippets of New York sprinkled throughout the book.

The cover is adorable and perfect for this light holiday read. The snow, the city street signs and the little heart in the crosswalk sign all work together magically.

The sum up

A quick and fun read full of Christmas spirit.

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Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

slammed by colleen hooverTitle: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morril
Format: Hardcover, 256 pages
Publisher: November 13th 2012 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Edelweiss
5 owl rating

Summary

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question.

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).

But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After a wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.

Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be.

My Thoughts

Julia is a by-the-book kind of gal. She always does exactly what’s expected of her, and nothing less (or more). She’s excited about this once in a lifetime trip to London; she can finally see the places she’s only read about. She’s bummed her bestie can’t make the trip with her, but hey, at least she’ll be in London. Once there, Julia is assigned as a ‘buddy’ to class clown Jason. At first, she’s upset she will have to babysit Jason, but it turns out he can be kind of fun. He convinces her to go with him to a party, where she drinks too much and ends up giving her number to any number of guys. When one of them starts to text-flirt her, she and Jason go on a mission to find the mystery guy.

I’m going to be honest, Julia was a hard character to like. She was always correcting someone when they used the wrong word, or pronounced something the wrong way. She was kind of uppity and judgmental. But she could also be nice and was willing to try new things (when Jason could convince her). Jason was also not a clear winner, as far as personalities go. He was a bit of a douchecanoe to Julia (he called her Book Licker for most of the book), and he was kind of pushy and mean. But, he was also protective and funny and even had a sweet side. I did like the fact that they both kind of mellowed out as the book went on. They learned things about themselves and each other and really grew.

There was no doubt where this book was heading (you can figure it out just be reading the book’s blurb, for pete’s sake), but I enjoyed it nonetheless. Once they got thrown together and started annoying each other and pushing each other’s buttons, it was quite amusing. There were several chuckle-out-loud moments; the two of them had lots of fun with verbal sparring. There were even a few swoon-worthy moments. The writing was fun and real, with a fast pace and no lagging. In fact, I’m surprised that this was Lauren’s first novel. There was also a bit of a twist near the end, so the journey for Julia and Jason wasn’t quite what you might expect.

Beautiful cover. What more can I say?

The sum up

Sweet, funny and romantic. Classic YA for the romance fan.

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Review: Illuminate by Aimee Agresti

Title: Illuminate
Author: Aimee Agresti
Format: Hardcover, 514 pages
Publisher: March 6th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Source: Library
Series: Illuminate | Infatuate

Summary

Haven Terra is a brainy, shy high school outcast. But everything begins to change when she turns sixteen. Along with her best friend Dante and their quiet and brilliant classmate Lance, she is awarded a prestigious internship in the big city— Chicago—and is sent to live and work at a swanky and stylish hotel under the watchful eyes of a group of gorgeous and shockingly young-looking strangers: powerful and alluring hotel owner Aurelia Brown; her second-in-command, the dashing Lucian Grove; and their stunning but aloof staff of glamazons called The Outfit.

As Haven begins falling for Lucian, she discovers that these beautiful people are not quite what they seem. With the help of a mysterious book, she uncovers a network of secret passageways from the hotel’s jazz-age past that leads her to the heart of the evil agenda of Aurelia and company: they’re in the business of buying souls. Will they succeed in wooing Haven to join them in their recruitment efforts, or will she be able to thwart this devilish set’s plans to take the souls of her classmates on prom night at the hotel?

Illuminate is an exciting saga of a teen’s first taste of independence, her experience in the lap of luxury, and her discovery she may possess strength greater than she ever knew.

My thoughts

Haven and her two friends are chosen (out of the blue) to work in a prestigious up-and-coming new hotel. I’m not sure what kind of public school system they’re a part of, but they get to leave school and live at the hotel for an entire semester. It’s almost too good to be true. All of the hotel staff are young and impossibly gorgeous and Haven feels pretty special just being a part of it.

Soon enough, odd things start happening (a plant spontaneously catches fire, photographs do weird things, people disappear) and Haven becomes suspicious. Throw in a diary in which passages suddenly appear and seem to give Haven directions, and she really gets freaked out. I have to admit, I would have become a little nervous much sooner than Haven and her friends did.

Haven was an okay protagonist, though I had some issues with the way she handled some things. She had some scars on her body and didn’t know where they came from (she was an orphan, found on the side of the road), and when in danger, her scars started to hurt. Um, hello? Big fat warning sign. Does Haven pay that any mind? No. When the aforementioned plant catches on fire, she just tosses the thing and forgets about it. Besides the previous nitpicks, I did like how real she was. She was shy and nerdy, but also kind and friendly. I love the way she and her best friend Dante talked to each other, like they’d been friends forever. Lance was a nice addition to their duo and I especially liked how he and Haven grew as friends.

Haven’s love interest Lucian and her boss Aurelia (anyone else think of areola when they see that name? No? Just me then?) were supposed to be just regular people, but I never fell for it. They were too perfect and beautiful and cunning and powerful. I never believed they were just normal, so it made it hard for me to be shocked and upset when Haven found out the truth and felt that way.

The dialogue was standard stuff, nothing too artsy fartsy or simple. The mystery part of the story was interesting, although I think anybody else would have come to the obvious conclusion sooner than Haven did. But I’m probably just nitpicking. The length of the novel was way too long. The entire middle part dragged on and on. The beginning was interesting, as we learned about the characters and their environment and the ending was fast and held my interest, but the middle was unnecessarily long, without a lot of action or new information to move the story along.

The cover is beautiful and appropriate. The wings are subtle (I didn’t even notice them at first) and she actually wears a similar dress in an important scene in the story, so props for that.

The sum up

I wasn’t as excited about this book overall as I was in the beginning. It had a lot of promise and started off well, but didn’t finish as strongly as it could have.

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Review: Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

boy meets boyTitle: Boy Meets Boy
Author: David Levithan
Format: Paperback, 185 pages
Publisher: May 10th 2005 by Alfred A. Knopf
Source: Purchased

Summary

This is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.

When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it. The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.

This is a happy-meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy-wonderful world.

My thoughts

Paul is lucky to have a supportive and loving family who accept him as he is. He’s apparently screwed up his chance with the one who might be “the one” and his best friend Joni is losing herself in a new relationship. The ex-boyfriend (who broke his heart) seems to want him back and his closeted gay friend is drowning in his parents’ religion. It’s a big mixed-up world and Paul is only trying to find a way to make sure everyone (including himself) is okay, if not happy.

On the one hand, I liked this book a lot. It had the same writing style that made me love David Levithan so much. There were funny, sweet and sad moments. I cheered (on the inside), I smiled and I was sad. On the other hand, Paul’s neighborhood was just too fantastical to be believable and some of the story was just too cutesy for me.

The characters were the real draw in this book. Most of them are well fleshed out and complete. Even better, I actually cared about them and what happened to them. With so many characters in the story, it was difficult to know them all, but I felt like I had a good grasp on them. Infinite Darlene, the cross-dressing homecoming queen quarterback, reminded me of a kinder version of Tiny from Will Grayson, Will Grayson. She was loud and proud, but not quite as loud as Tiny. She was a wise shoulder for Paul to lean on when he felt out of control. Joni was a perfect example of a girl disappearing into her new boyfriend. Suddenly, she only wanted to do what he did, when he did. And anybody that pointed that out to her became an enemy. Several times, I wanted to smack her on the head and knock some sense into her. I felt so sorry for Tony, whose intolerant parents prevented him from being the person he wanted to be. But I was also glad he had friends like Paul and Infinite Darlene, to help him when he needed it. Poor Kyle had realized his mistakes and was trying hard to atone for them.

The writing was similar to David Levithan’s previous works, which was a good thing. It was seamless, and really helped set the scenes. Though this is considered contemporary, there really was another world for David to build, and he did it well. This also led to the things I did not like about the book. The book was based in a town that was about as inclusive as you could want. There were gays, lesbians, bisexuals, cross dressers, transvestites, straights and everything in between, and they were all just considered normal and average. While it was a nice idea (and I would love it if the whole world were like that), you have to suspend your belief long enough to enjoy the story. While that in itself wasn’t hard, it seemed to me that, in an effort to create a fun and whimsical world, David got a little too cutesy. For example, the town’s local music store is described like this:

I stop at the tune store, where I’m greeted by Javier and Jules. Half the store is Javier’s, half is Jules’s—they have entirely different musical tastes, so you have to know going in whether the tune you’re looking for is more like Javier or Jules.

The bookstore was similarly unusual:

…I’m headed to Spiff’s Videorama, where newbies are discouraged. Spiff is the reason most of us still have VCRs-he’s a tapehead like djs are vinyl freaks. He refuses to carry DVDs or any of the new technology.

Spiff arranges the videos in his store according to his own logic. American Pie is filed under Action/Adventure, while Forrest Gump sits in Porn along with other international classics. Spiff will never, ever tell you where a tape is, or even if it’s in. You have to find it for yourself or leave empty-handed. He doesn’t give a damn about any of us-just the movies.

Maybe Spiff doesn’t need his business income because he’s independently wealthy, like the janitors?

The janitor’s closet has the usual brooms, mops, and buckets. At its center, though, is a state-of-the-art computer. Our janitorial staff is one of the richest in the country because of their day-trading skills. They could have retired long ago, but they all have a compulsion to clean schools.

Seriously? This was just too cheeky for me. It was like David was trying too hard to come up with unusually cool things for this make-believe small town. The little things like that pulled me out of the story, which was a shame.

The cover is perfection. Simple, classic and just cute enough.

The sum up

Though it had issues, Boy Meets Boy was entertaining and sweet. Perfect for contemporary or romance fans.

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Review: The Assassin’s Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke

the assassin's curseTitle: The Assassin’s Curse
Author: Cassandra Rose Clarke
Format: Paperback, 416 pages
Publisher: October 2nd 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Source: Southern Book Bloggers ARC Tours
Series: Book 1 in The Assassin’s Curse series

Summary

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.

My thoughts

This was my first attempt at reading something from the Fantasy genre, and I’m surprised by how much I liked it. I’ve always considered myself a Contemporary gal, but the synopsis sounded interesting so I decided to give it a try. You could say I was leery when I started, but I was determined to give it a fair shake.

Ananna and her family were part of The Confederation, a loose organization of pirates. She was a tough girl who said exactly what she wanted when she wanted, and she could definitely take care of herself. We only briefly met her parents in the beginning, but based on the fact that they were forcing her into a marriage, I didn’t like them much. Naji, the assassin sent by her spurned would-be husband, was a mystery; he didn’t talk much and when he did, he was very good at not actually saying anything important. I was surprised that Ananna let him keep so many secrets, it seemed so against her nature.

The dialogue and grammar were something I had to get over fast, because Ananna did not use proper grammar. The very first sentence set the tone:

I ain’t never been one to trust beautiful people…

But I got used to the unusual dialogue and soon I didn’t even notice the non-traditional tone. I especially liked Ananna’s snarkiness. Usually she kept it to herself, but every once in a while she let one fly.

From the runaway bride (via camel!), to the magic, to the assassins that can become part of the shadows, I found the plot very interesting. The writing just grabbed me right up and wouldn’t let go, plus the world-building was incredible. I could really picture the pirates, the desert and all the unsavory characters they met along the way. I was surprised to learn this was Cassandra Rose Clarke’s debut novel.

There was a lot of tension as Ananna waited out her assassin, then as they traveled, seeking a way out of their curse. They weren’t exactly excited about sharing the journey together. Because, you know, he’s supposed to kill her and all. Eventually, though, they’d worked out a sort of respect for each other. The romance was a bit off for me; we had no idea what Naji was thinking, so it seemed one-sided. Maybe that will be better fleshed out in the sequel?

The cover is beautiful and so appropriate. It’s probably one of my favorites.

The sum up

The Assassin’s Curse surprised me in every way possible. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

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Other opinions

Insomnia of Books
Katy Times
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