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review 2017-07-17 01:10
The Edge of Awakening (The Soul Tamer Series #1) by Alanna J. Faison
The Edge of Awakening - Alanna J Faison
Jasmine died. She died in utterly terrible, awful conditions.
 
But for Jasmine death is not the end - she has a destiny and a mission to train for as she and her allies prepare for the battles ahead
 
But how much was her family hurt by this destiny?
 
 
 
This book is a spin off series of the Rayne Whitmore Series, following Rayne’s dead sister, Jasmine. Jasmine is destined to become a Soul Tamer, joining a team of other new Soul Tamers, trained by Micah and other mentor Soul Tamers into their powers, skills and missions.
 
This adds a whole lot of interesting world building to this already excellently rich world. I think it’s an excellent idea to use a new protagonist to do this as Rayne couldn’t exactly stretch to cover this without severely distracting her own story and generally slowing things down
 
Instead using a new character and a new world we have an excellent chance to build into more world building, using the first book in a series to have the usual introduction to a series without derailing an already ongoing plot line.
 
And this world building is extremely good and interesting - the general use of ghosts and demons, the different powers and abilities and how they work and interact. I really like the little nuances like how simply being the most powerful doesn’t make you the most effective.
 
But more than the general world building is the personal stories of her fellow Soul Tamers - albeit some of the needing more development. All of them are young and all of them have had tragic pasts - but their pasts point to a lot of terrible injustices in the world, from starvation and poverty to hate crimes that starkly covers a lot of this diverse cast.
 
A lot of this book covers their training and I do like some of the interractions - probably Cas and Rayne the most because they do strike sparks - there’s respect and competitiveness and they’re probably not a great fan of each other but it’s not full on girl hate we see quite often in urban fantasy and young adult.
 
Her closest companion is probably Jayce, but Jayce is the LGBTQ representation in this book and it’s not really done well (another character may be a lesbian or bisexual but she also may be asexual, it’s not clarified yet). At one point he calls someone out for assuming bisexuals are just looking to have sex with anyone all the time - which is great. If that pretty much wasn’t the sum total of Jayce’s character. He exists to hit on guys, and that’s basically his characterisation even when said guys are not interested in him.
 

Her mentors and fellow Soul Tamers come from many different races - Micah is biracial and from segregation America, Dorian is Middle Eastern, Kenji Japanese and Atara, one of her peers is described as having brown skin
 
We also have minor passing characters not part of Jasmine’s group who are also racially diverse
 
Jasmine herself is Black.
 
This is an extremely racially diverse book and we do not have racial stereotypes or tropes clinging to them and that diversity extends from both minor characters to the protagonist herself
 
There’s also some brief looks at class as Jasmine is very aware of her family’s great wealth that she became so used to and stands out starkly against her fellows who faced hunger and debt.
 
I do think that Jasmine’s mentor etc were both not very forgiving and kind of dismissive about what she went through. How she died, how she became their chosen one, the implication that they were behind her “earlier” death. There seemed to be little acknowledgement that she was only 14 or how her death deeply affected her sister and led her to take some very severe risks. Yes, everyone has had a tragic past - but hey that kind of makes me question the way they treated everyone, rather than think Jasmine needs to suck it up and move on. While there’s a lot of bonding there’s also a real sense of judgement at times where they’re quite harsh, make no allowances expect a lot of her and even a little gaslighting. Like they seem to use the team to guilt her for feeling, for hurting, for feeling angry. It had an edge of manipulation that made me considerably suspicious of the powers that be here and I’m not sure I was meant to regard them with this level of suspicion - because part of me is kind of expecting them to get a severe call out or be revealed as a villain. But I think I’m getting the utter wrong end of the stick there.
 
 
 
 
 
Source: www.fangsforthefantasy.com/2017/06/the-edge-of-awakening-soul-tamer-series.html
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review 2017-07-07 06:23
Naked Edge by Pamela Clare
Naked Edge - Pamela Clare

Three months after he’s saved her life, when she was injured in a rockslide, Gabriel Rossiter comes to Katherine James’s rescue once more, when a cop pulls her by her hair out of a sweat lodge as the Native ceremony is interrupted. Gabe finds the police raid on Mesa Butte more than strange and decides to help Kat, an investigative journalist, look into the matter...Although her motives are not as altruistic as they seem. Plain and simple, he wants her, and more she resists, more he wants her.

When Kat’s life is in danger, Gabe is once more there to protect her, and appoints himself her personal bodyguard, despite knowing deep down he should keep his distance. Because the woman is dangerous to his heart, his body, and his own convictions.


Even hours after finishing this book, I still find it hard to actually put to words my thoughts, and my feelings about it. The rating could be enough, I suppose, and no review could actually convey what a great story this was. But I shall give it a try.

While the rest of the full-length novels in this series were truly romantic suspense books, I’d categorize this one as more of a romance with a “side dish” of suspense. But I will simply call it a love story. Yes, there was suspense, there was a murder, and there was danger, but to me this was simply Kat and Gabe’s love story.

Unlike the previous books, the romance was at the forefront of everything her, dominating the story, hoarding “screen time”, and keeping me reading and turning pages. And what a beautiful romance this was.
It progressed from that first victim-savior moment to acquaintance, from respect to budding friendship, all spiced up by the unmistakable chemistry and attraction, and budding up into a strong, unshakable bond of love, a love story that culminated in that heart-rendering scene at the end of chapter 30.

Kat and Gabe were perfect for each other. Both strong, both independent, both with issues from their past, issues that came out throughout their story, as they slowly healed and saved one another, though Gabe needed a lot more TLC that Kat. The woman knew just what she wanted, and knew her heart, and her feelings perfectly well, and yes, her issues weren’t as deep or as “traumatic” as Gabe’s was.
The man was a mess, although the issue that made him such an asshole was rather horrible, it was also very predictable, and quite easily solved, if he weren’t a man, obviously. It was easier bottling it all up, than working and talking it through, and he ended up where he ended up. And then Kat came along, and he had no idea what was happening to him.
His inner monologues were a hoot to read, and his slow recovery, and acceptance truly beautiful. Pity, it took him so long to speak up his mind, with a serious threat once more needed to resolve everything.

Granted, that last “miracle” was a bit too much, especially after the ordeal of reading the pivotal scene in chapter 30 and those few paragraphs of chapter 31. It was a too simple solution, a Deus ex Machina ploy, and overly “fictitious”, but, damn it, it worked, and I loved it.

Compared to the love story, the suspense had no other options than take the back seat, and although the motive remained a mystery until almost the very end, the true villain of it was rather predictable, or maybe my intuition kicked in, I don’t know. The fact is, the big reveal wasn’t as much a surprise as it could’ve been.
Still, the suspense element was solid and well-paced.

What struck me most about this book, besides the love story that is, was the feel of it. I don’t think the voice or narrative style was different, since the author is the same, but the feeling of reading it was different.
It started in the prologue, as Kat’s drove to the park and hiked, and continued throughout the story, and the epilogue...Although the story was rather fast-paced, the suspense intriguing, and the romance wonderful, and yes, I wanted to learn what happens next, I felt the urgency to do so, there was no I-have-to-turn-the-page-as-soon-as-possible feeling. It was all strangely peaceful and relaxed. I don’t really know how to explain. Weird, right?

Anyway you look at it, this was an amazing story. Loads of information about Native Americans, and their culture, religion and mythology, wonderful characters, absolutely amazing love story, good suspense, and tons of pathos, especially with that big tearjerker scene...

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review 2017-07-06 12:55
The Edge of the Abyss by Emily Skrutskie
The Edge of the Abyss - Emily Skrutskie

This review will include spoilers for the first book. You’ve been warned.

At the end of The Abyss Surrounds Us, Cas decided to stay with the Minnow and her crew. I wish I had written down her reason for doing so, since one of my problems with The Edge of the Abyss was that I couldn’t remember why she’d have wanted to stay when staying seemed to cause her nothing but grief.

At any rate, she stayed - I think because she wanted to get more evidence on the guy who was trading Reckoner pups to the pirates, and because she loved Swift so much? Except the latter reason turned out to be less than wonderful, because right after deciding to stay with the Minnow, Cas learned that Swift had personally been responsible for Durga’s death.

So that’s Cas’s emotional state for much of The Edge of the Abyss: upset at Swift for what she did, upset at herself for essentially turning traitor and staying with pirates, and perversely drawn to Santa Elena and whatever scraps of praise she was willing to give out. Bao is somewhere out in the ocean, and Cas mistakenly thinks he’s the only free Reckoner. He very much is not - the crew of the Minnow discover others, which they nickname Hellbeasts. Every last one of them was a Reckoner pup illegally obtained and improperly raised by pirates, and they’re complete destroying the ocean ecosystem. If life in the ocean is to be saved, the pirates, all of them, will somehow have to band together, admit their mistakes, and defeat the Hellbeasts.

Considering that I disliked the first book, I should not have continued on with the series. However, I did, because I wanted to find out what happened to Bao. He was literally the only character I cared about - all the humans could have gotten eaten, for all I cared.

Unfortunately, it took half the book for Bao to show up. Until that point, I had to deal with Cas and Swift’s relationship angst. First Cas would be angry at Swift for being directly responsible for Durga’s death. Then Swift would be upset with Cas for effortlessly becoming Santa Elena’s favorite. Occasionally things would be okay between them for a short while, but it was never long before everything got fouled up again. All it took was one wrong look, or someone waking up on the wrong side of the bed, or Santa Elena smiling at the wrong trainee. I think Cas and Swift only had maybe 10 pages total in this whole book where they weren’t hurting each other in some way.

That’s really not what I want from a romance, and it didn’t help that Cas’s situation seemed more and more like Stockholm syndrome to me. Santa Elena had been manipulating Cas’s emotions from day one, and I hadn’t forgotten that Cas and Swift’s relationship had gone from dislike and wisps of something nicer to full-blown “I’m throwing away my entire former life for you” in the space of a day. I spent so much of this book wishing that Cas and Swift would just break up already. Cas had enough on her plate just trying to figure out what to do about the Hellbeasts and processing her dawning realization that she’d made a terrible mistake by staying on the Minnow.

Even though this book had more Reckoners and Reckoner battles, it was somehow more boring that the first one. I missed Bao, and Skrutskie’s decision to write this series in first person present tense sucked the life out scenes that should have been exciting or painfully intense. Unfortunately, things didn’t improve much once Bao was finally found again - watching Cas remind him of his training wasn’t nearly as enjoyable as watching her train him in the first place. Also, one revelation about him really bugged me. If there was anyone I’d have liked to be exempt from this book’s great gobs of relationship awfulness, it was Bao. At least Cas treated him better in this book than she did in the first one.

I wish I had liked Skrutskie’s writing more, and I wish I had been more invested in Cas and Swift’s relationship. Since I didn’t and I wasn’t, The Edge of the Abyss was a drag to get through and an absolute relief to finally finish. However, I’d absolutely recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book and wanted Cas and Swift to work out as a couple. Cas and Swift had some really good scenes near the end, ones where they actually worked together. For me, it was too little, too late. I did at least appreciate that none of the characters I kind of liked died.

 

(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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text 2017-07-06 01:50
Reading progress update: I've read 281 out of 281 pages.
The Edge of the Abyss - Emily Skrutskie

I'm finally, finally done. OMG, I made it all the way to the end.

 

The first person present tense POV irked me less this time around, mostly because other things irked me more. Overall, even though this book featured more Reckoners and Reckoner battles, I'd say it was more boring than the first one. And I absolutely hated Cas and Swift's romance. The book started off with the two of them at odds (to put it mildly -

Cas found out that Swift personally injected Durga with the poison that slowly and painfully killed her

(spoiler show)

). They'd take one step forward, things would be good for a couple pages, and then something would happen, usually to do with either Durga, Santa Elena, or Cas's feelings of self-loathing whenever she remembered that she was technically a traitor, and they'd end up two steps back. It was enormously unpleasant.

 

I can see how the ending would be good and satisfying for someone who actually enjoyed the first book and were rooting for Cas and Swift's romance. For me, the "good" moments were too little, too late. But hey, at least Bao survived. I still think Bao was one of the best things about this series. Cas didn't deserve him.

 

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text 2017-07-05 13:20
Reading progress update: I've read 238 out of 281 pages.
The Edge of the Abyss - Emily Skrutskie

I'll have to make use of the grace period, but I'm almost done with this, and I'm so relieved. Cas finally realized how Santa Elena had been using her, Cas and Swift's relationship is 100% raw angsty pain (I think they've had maybe 10 pages total of non-painful moments in this entire book), and even poor Bao has screwed up relationship stuff going on. If Skrutskie has Bao sacrifice himself for Cas in the book's final big battle, I'm going to be so mad.

 

Oh, and I finally get to roll again after I finish this. I haven't looked at the rules update yet, so that'll be the first thing I do.

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