Bound by Blood and Sand (Untitled Series #1) by Becky Allen Review


Jae is a slave in a dying desert world.

Once verdant with water from a magical Well, the land is drying up, and no one remembers the magic needed to keep the water flowing. If a new source isn’t found soon, the people will perish. Jae doesn’t mind, in a way. By law, she is bound by a curse to obey every order given her, no matter how vile. At least in death, she’ll be free.

Lord Elan’s family rules the fading realm. He comes to the estate where Jae works, searching for the hidden magic needed to replenish the Well, but it’s Jae who finds it, and she who must wield it. Desperate to save his realm, Elan begs her to use it to locate the Well.

But why would a slave—abused, beaten, and treated as less than human—want to save the system that shackles her? Jae would rather see the world burn.

Though revenge clouds her vision, she agrees to help if the kingdom’s slaves are freed. Then Elan’s father arrives. The ruler’s cruelty knows no limits. He is determined that the class system will not change—and that Jae will remain a slave forever. (via Goodreads)


I had been trying to decide what to read and finally settled on this. Bound by Blood and Sand was a good pick because it’s fun and reads quickly without compromising on the storytelling or character development.

Bound by Blood and Sand is the debut novel by Becky Allen and normally I’m very wary of debuts but decided to give this one a chance because I found the blurb very interesting. I really enjoyed it and was actually disappointed when it ended. Granted it’s the first book in a yet-untitled series but still. Having said that, the book does end well.

The writing was simple and yet effective. The world and setting were described in vivid detail, so much so that often one could feel the oppressive heat of the desert, the hot and dry winds. The narrative itself, is split between the two main characters, Jae and Elan although, I think Jae had more screentime.

What I really liked about the book was the way Jae was written. She and her twin brother had been slaves and abused their entire lives by those in power. But she and her brother were very different. While her brother, Tal, was still someone who could the silver-lining on the horizon, she had become hardened and jaded. And once she gained her powers, it was easy to why she would use them the way she did. She felt no sympathy for those in power. If she showed any restraint, it was because of her brother. But she wasn’t especially likeable and that was ok. I was happy to see her make the choices she did. And I liked that it was a conscious choice on her part to help her oppressors and there was real inner conflict there. I liked she didn’t suddenly turn into an all-forgiving saint.

The bond between Jae and Tal was one of the best things in the book. They truly loved and cared about each other. While Jae was the hard one, Tal was the one who was tender. He cared for her and brought her small things when he could manage it. While reading the book, you really felt that they were two halves of a whole while still being completely realised individual characters. They always supported each other and that never changed.

Then there was Elan, the other protagonist and he was likeable from the start. He was one of the oppressors but unlike the others, he didn’t abuse the Closest. He was on the quest for something that would save the lives of everyone, not just the ones in power. Once he realised that everything that he had been told and taught was a lie, he was quick to support and help Jae even going so far as to lose everything he had known all his life, his position, his power, his family.

Another thing liked about Bound by Blood and Sand was that there was no romance here. They came together because they didn’t have any alternative but Jae didn’t trust Elan in the slightest. It took her time to come around. Elan also for his part, takes time to come to terms with everything that happened. The only thing that kept them together was Tal, if not for him, Jae and Elan would not have been able to work together. By the end of the book, Jae and Elan had become friends who trusted each other.

There were a bunch of other characters who are worth mentioning like Lady Shirrad. She started off as entitled and shallow. But as the narrative progressed, you started to see the steel in her backbone. She didn’t have a great track record when it came to the way she treated the Closest but she didn’t want see them abandoned and left to die. She didn’t abandon her home, and she stayed behind and stayed with her ‘slaves’. Her character went through an 180 degree change.

Bound By Blood and Sand was an engrossing and fast-paced read and one that I really enjoyed…

Dreams Made Flesh (The Black Jewels #5) by Anne Bishop Review

dreams-made-fleshI loved the first three books and I loved the characters and I liked the way that arc ended. The trouble with Dreams Made Flesh is that ideally it should have focused on secondary characters, like the other queens instead of sticking with Jaenelle and Daemon. Allow me to explain.

I liked the first story about the creation of the Web of Dreams, it was interesting, like an origin story. Then there was the second story about the courtship of Lucivar and Marian and even that was enjoyable. But in that story, we met Luthvian and Roxie yet again. Luthvian may have redeemed herself at the end of Queen of the Darkness but here she was far from that version of herself. She was hateful and manipulative.

I liked Lucivar and Marian. They were a sweet pair and I liked that Marian wasn’t afraid of letting Lucivar know when he was behaving like a neanderthal. For his part, Lucivar tried to be patient and mostly succeeded. And perhaps, most of all I enjoyed their interactions with Jaenelle (the first time she, Marian and Saetan go shopping was hilarious) But then the irritants started piling on. I’ve already mentioned Luthvian. Then there was Roxie. She is so vile, like a disgusting insect, except even they serve some purpose. She was just vile and I couldn’t understand why Luthvian let her stay with her when she knew that she made her son uncomfortable. She knew what Lucivar had gone through in Terielle and she still let Roxie parade around him. Here she was even more outrageous, letting people think that not only was Lucivar sleeping with her but when that didn’t work, she planned to accuse him of rape and let him wear the Ring of Obedience. Thankfully that didn’t happen thanks to Marian.

I didn’t read the story about Hekatah making Saetan’s life miserable, I had seen enough of her in the first three books and I had no intention of reading more about her. The final story is about Daemon trying to help Jaenelle after the events of the Queen of the Darkness. She lost her dark Jewels but gained a new one, the Twilight’s Dusk. In addition to seeing Daemon try to reach Jaenelle and rekindle their relationship, there was also the additional (and unnecessary plot) of another aristo woman, Lektra trying to lure Daemon to her bed.

She spreads rumors of his infidelity and when that doesn’t work, she tries to sabotage the carriage that Daemon and Jaenelle were in and when even that backfires, she decides to insinuate to Daemon that Jaenelle had taken another lover. I mean seriously! Give me a break. Haven’t we already dealt with women like that? And of course, once again Roxie was back. Why wasn’t she dead? I thought all the Blood who had Dorothea and Hekatah’s taint had perished. If anyone in the Dhemlan had their taint, it was Roxie so why was she still alive. So she’s also back stirring trouble.

While it was fun seeing more of Jaenelle, Daemon, Lucivar and Surreal, that joy was undermined by the sheer frustration with regard to the plot. I’ll admit, I wasn’t very worried that the women’s hair-brained schemes would work just because by now, the reader has a very clear idea about just how deep Daemon’s devotion to Jaenelle is and that he genuinely loves her. Having said that, it was gratifying to see the women get what they deserve. They tangled with the Sadist and had no idea what they were getting themselves into.

The frustration stems from the fact that the plot feels repetitive. We’ve seen these themes before and not much has changed here. It was engrossing the first time but then it got dragged for three whole books. In Dreams Made Flesh (and in the final story to be precise) the plot just feels old. There was nothing new here, nothing exciting. Which is why I said that it would have been better to focus on secondary characters instead of going back to the original protagonists time and again. Their story concluded and concluded well, let them be. I would have liked to see Karla (one of my favourite characters from the first three books) or Gabrielle or some of the other Queens. But far from focusing on them, they didn’t even appear.

I’m going to give these books a break now, if at all, I’ll read Tangled Web but not anytime soon. I think I’m done with this universe and I want to leave while I still like the series.

Queen of the Darkness (The Black Jewels #3) by Anne Bishop Review

queenofthedarknessThe Black Jewels Trilogy was every bit as frustrating and exasperating as it was amazing. I am going to refer to it as a trilogy because, for the most part, this will be a review for all of the three books in the series. I read Written in Blood by Anne Bishop and liked it enough that I wanted to read other books she had written. That Daughter of the Blood was her debut novel is truly astounding for the sheer scale of the world she had built and the richness of the characters who inhabited it.

Like the two books before Queen of the Darkness, this one too was told from multiple points of view. I guess I’m getting used to it because I didn’t hate the multiple POV quite as much as I normally do. It could also have to do with how the book and the different perspectives were structured and arranged. They fit well together with no disjointed chapters. They flowed into each other seamlessly so that, often the transition from one character to another was almost unnoticeable.

While reading this, there were a few days when I wasn’t sure I wanted to continue reading this, part of it was because the narrative felt too heavy and intense and the other was that the villains refused to die or give up (more on that later) But I decided to stick with it and I am very happy that I did. I loved Queen of the Darkness and its oddball list of characters.

One of the things I loved about Bishop’s writing was how easily she weaved in some truly hilarious scenes in situations that were downright volatile. There were a number of laugh-out-loud moments in the books that were a delight to come across because they provided a much-needed break in tension, for the characters as well as the reader. Also, Bishop knows how to build tension and keep it at boiling point. All of the three books so far have been so tense that at times I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read the next one immediately after finishing the previous instalment. I even took it slow with Queen of the Darkness and yet, as I got closer to the end, I finished it one sitting and I could not stop reading till I had reached the end.

I love how well Bishop writes the grey characters. This can be said for the protagonists too. But at the end of the day, they are wonderful characters that are a delight to read about. All of the protagonists in the series are grey characters. They are characters who have done horrible things and are still capable of doing horrible things but choose not to and when they did do them, they didn’t derive any pleasure from those actions.

Another thing about her writing, is that she writes amazing villains. The villains are truly despicable. And if the villains are hateful, there is another category of characters that is even more vile and that is the category of the ignorant fools. Fools who are so sure of their own power, knowledge and ego, that they often do more harm than the actual villains and are very convenient and even eager pawns in the plans of the evildoers.

The characters are wonderfully written. There are the human characters and then there are the kindred. Those who are animal in form but have the ability to use Craft and can communicate with the humans. I’m not going to get into the specifics, that would just take ages. But I loved the kindred. I noticed this even in Written in Blood, Bishop writes animals so well. Their way of thinking and seeing the humans is often hilarious and they are all so loveable! I loved them! I liked how diverse the various characters were and that they were distinct. The list of characters is long and for those many characters to be memorable and diverse is definitely no easy feat.

There were a tumble of characters that I loved. I loved Gabrielle and Karla. Especially Karla, I adored her, and her “Kiss-Kiss”. I loved that she treated everyone the same irreverence (literally, everyone from Saetan to Lucivar. She was funny and a lot of trouble. She was also the only one who always believed in Jaenelle and Daemon when no one else could see what they were planning. She was my favourite among the Queens. Then there was Saetan, the deadly High Lord and yet, his exchanges with the young Queens was nothing short of hilarious. I also really liked Titain and Sylvia. I would love to see more of Draca.

Of the men, I really liked Chaosti and Morton (I still remember the first time he met Saeten and delivered Karla’s letter, that was priceless). Of the kindred, I loved Greysfang (and his interactions with Surreal), Ladvarian and Kaelas.

Then there are the main characters, Saetan, Lucivar, Daemon, Surreal and Jaenelle. As far as main characters go, these five were amazing. They were such a mixed bag. One of was an assassin, the other two were powerful warlord Prices and extremely powerful and then there was the High Lord of Hell, the one who controls those cross over into the Shadow Realm. And then there is Jaenelle, the Witch, the most powerful witch in all the realms and Queen. These characters are so powerful that it would have been easy for them to turn into dull and stagnant. But that is so far from what happened. They grow over the course of the three books and become fully-rounded people, with strengths and weaknesses. They all had their blindspots and had their moments of of frailty but they rose above it. I like all of them but my favourite among them was Surreal. Surreal was an assassin and definitely a bitter pill. She wasn’t interested in being nice or polite. She kicked ass and was a worthy opponent. She was also a very deadly assassin so more points for that. I love Surreal and i definitely want to see more of her in the next books!

The antagonists were suitably repulsive. I hated Kartane and I was so pleased when he got what he deserved. It was very satisfying. As for Hekatah and Dorothea, few characters have inspired the kind of hatred these two did in me. They were absolutely horrible with not a single decent bone in their entire putrid bodies. But as awful as they were, there were others who were so blinded by their own ignorance, ambition and greed that they were actually worse. Jorvall and Hobart come to mind. And then there was Alexandra and Philip. Alexandra’s wilful ignorance was hard to swallow and in the end, I felt that she got what she deserved.

The only thing that was perhaps frustrating about the trilogy was that the villains were left too long to play their game. Sticking with Dorothea and Hekatah over the course of three books was a bit much. After a point, as a reader, you just feel irritated that these same characters were still around and kicking. There were new lesser characters in each of the three books to keep things a little fresh but it wasn’t enough. I felt that these two got dragged on for far too long.

There were also a number of deaths in the Queen of the Darkness, and even though most of them were secondary characters, I was still very sad to see some of them go. I hope that they didn’t all die and perhaps may return in one of the other books.

Before finishing this book, I had decided to take a break from this series for a bit, now I’m not so sure, there are characters that I want to meet again and see where they are what they are upto. But I shudder at what the new threat facing them will be and therefore, for the sake of my sanity, maybe a break is the wisest course of action.

The Beauty of Darkness (The Remnant Chronicles, #3) by Mary E. Pearson Review

Beauty of DarknessI really enjoyed The Beauty of Darkness, it was every bit as interesting and gripping as the two previous books and the climax was very satisfying and earned. However, before I started reading, I had read some reviews (very unwise) and while they generally praised the book, they cribbed about Lia and that her character was annoying more often than not but more on that later.

Much like the previous books, the narrative was told in four points of view; Lia, Kaden, Rafe and Pauline. Unlike the those books where it often felt disconnected from the rest of the plot, for once Pauline’s POV felt connected to the larger plot where in the others. The primary focus was still on Lia and her POV drove the narrative forward. The pace was even and consistent with few moments of peace and quiet. Far from feeling chaotic and frenzied, there was instead a sense of urgency and the writing was coherent that made for a rewarding reading experience. The Beauty of Darkness also picks pretty much where The Heart of Betrayal ended which was good because things weren’t looking too positive for our protagonists.

The Beauty of Darkness also had moments which were beyond frustrating but that had more to do with the characters. This time that frustration stemmed from certain characters whose behaviour felt, on the surface, inconsistent with how they behaved previously. But if you look carefully at their prior behaviour , the signs are all there. And this is where I really like Pearson’s approach, she gives all sides of the story and doesn’t condemn anyone, she tries to be objective. I also loved how well-written these characters were. They were fully realized and far from perfect. They were stubborn, proud but also loyal, protective and loving.

I’ve liked Lia since the beginning and she has come a long way from where she was when we first met her, where initially she was impulsive and quick to fly into a temper. She has become someone who waits and observes what’s happening around her. She has grown more confident in her abilities, understands them better and has begun to tap into them. What I also liked about her was her fierce sense of independence. She is truly her own person and makes her own decisions and I especially loved that she refused to let anyone coddle her, even is she loved them. She makes her own decisions and sticks to them. I didn’t see how any of her actions were what those reviews described. I thought she was well within her rights to feel and act the way she did. If anything, Rafe was out of line and his actions were uncalled for, irrespective of how he justified them to himself.

I was glad that we met her mother and understood her better, her actions and the motivation behind them. She loved Lia and all her actions had been to protect her from what destiny had in store for her.

I had loved Rafe in the previous books, he was kind, brave and he loved Lia. But for most of this book, we saw a very different Rafe. He was blunt, stubborn and entirely unwilling to see things from Lia’s perspective. He was so thickheaded that it was close to impossible to sympathise with him. He finally did see sense but by then their relationship already had splinters in it. His actions hurt Lia and broke the trust she had in him.

I really liked Kaden in The Beauty of Darkness, and thankfully he was no longer pining for Lia. He understood that while she cared for him and did love him in some capacity, it was very different from what she felt for Rafe. He tried to make amends for his actions and while he could never wipe the slate clean, it was a fresh start for him. We saw the kindness and courage that Pauline and Lia saw in him. He stuck by Lia when everyone else doubted her and her plans.

Then there’s Pauline, Berdi and Gwyneth. Pauline was a pillar of strength, her friend, someone Lia desperately needed. There were always there for each other. She too had changed, become a harder person. Berdi and Gwyneth were among the first believers in Morrighan. They stuck by her when everyone believed the worst of her. Then there was Natiya, the child who had her childhood stolen from her.

I really enjoyed The Beauty of Darkness, it was a fitting end to the trilogy, it felt appropriate. It left a good feeling and one that didn’t feel forced or contrived. It was a very satisfying end to a trilogy that was thoroughly enjoyable.

The Heart of Betrayal (The Remnant Chronicles #2) by Mary E. Pearson Review


Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny. (Via Goodreads)


I really enjoyed The Heart of Betrayal. It was fast-paced with a levelheaded heroine. This will be brief since I want to start The Beauty of Darkness.

This time we find ourselves in the dreaded land of Venda with Lia as a hostage and a prisoner. She is surrounded by people who would much rather see her dead. Her captor, Kaden is under the  misguided notion that despite being taken to a kingdom responsible for killing her brother, somehow she would fall in love with him (excuse me while I go throw up) More on him later. Then there was Rafe, the prince who pretended he was a farmer, but he follows Lia only thinking of trying to save her, even if it meant going into enemy territory by himself. We finally meet the Komizar and while there are instances where the reader can see the man he was, the man he is in the present is someone who is ruthless and hungry for power.

The Heart of Betrayal was fast-paced and engrossing. Most of the chapters were from Lia’s perspective but there were some that were from Rafe and Kaden’s point of view and the odd chapter from Pauline’s perspective. The world building is good and the characters are excellent, especially the secondary characters. They were memorable and you couldn’t help but care about them. Pearson made the kingdom of Venda more hospitable through the people who greet Lia, from the servants to the various clans. We come to care for these weary and hardy people, they are far from the monsters that the other kingdoms think them to be.

I loved the characters. I really liked Lia, she was cunning and willing to bide her time. She was willing to play on the insecurities of those who had captured her. She was playing the long game. She used the gift to her advantage and also gained the loyalty of the clans and those believed in the Gift.

Kaden was someone I wanted to hit on the head repeatedly for his obliviousness. He was convinced that Lia would fall in love with him and she could live out her life in Venda. This couldn’t be further from the truth. She was constantly in danger, if not from the other councillors, then from the Komizar himself. And yet Kaden refused to see what was in front of him.

Rafe, in contrast was like a breath of sunshine. He played his part and he too played the long game. Gaining the trust of those around him. And while, he had moments of being overprotective towards the Lia, he soon saw sense and trusted her to take care of herself.

I was initially concerned about a love triangle but thankfully, Lia chose Rafe and stuck with him. And truly, in my opinion there was no competition. One kidnapped her while the other rode into certain danger to try and rescue her, was I meant to conflicted?

Starting The Beauty of Darkness now, can’t wait to see how that turns out.

Suicide Squad (2016) Review

SSDirector: David Ayer

Cast: Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Viola Davis, Jai Courtney, Cara Delevingne, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbage, Joel Kinnaman, Karen Fukuhara

Run time: 123 minutes

Spoilers below…

I wanted to like Suicide Squad, I really did. I haven’t had a great track record with the previous DC films, I hated Man of Steel and Batman vs Superman, but the Suicide Squad trailers gave me pause. They were vibrant, energetic and chaotic (in a good way) and the best thing? If the trailers were any indication, we were in for a rare DC treat, a film that was actually fun. Alas, it was not to be.

Suicide Squad was a hurried and disjointed mess. It was a film about a bunch of anti-heroes forced to work together by a manipulative woman who works in the shadows. There was so much potential and most of it was squandered. DC doesn’t really know how to introduce characters (remember the way Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg were introduced via an email attachment?) well, the introduction in Suicide Squad was marginally better. Their introductions were messy and what was with all that text? Suicide Squad tried very hard to go the Deadpool way but lacked the will. Where Deadpool was daring, Suicide Squad only teased those moments of badassery but failed to commit fully. The film, therefore, feels half-baked.

The music and editing are both awful. Don’t get me wrong, the choice of songs is great, their usage, not so much. More often than not they seemed to be randomly assigned to characters, so as long as you can appreciate the song and the visuals separately, you’re good. The editing, though, is what really brought down the film. It was so choppy and clunky, it was meant to look stylised and dynamic, it didn’t. It only succeeded in making an otherwise tolerable film, borderline insufferable. It jumped from one character to another with no apparent design or logic. The chaotic cuts might have worked well for the trailers but that doesn’t mean that they also work for the film.

DC casting choices are also nothing short of baffling, they cast actors who are great in other films and yet horrible in their films (case in point, Amy Adams) but for once, the casting choices seem to work in Suicide Squad. Not that they have much to do, even here there is a mess. DC doesn’t know how to equitably divide screen time so all characters are developed and grow and this inability plagues Suicide Squad. They have a group of competent (and some very good) actors on their roster and most of them feel underutilized. It’s not entirely their fault; the script just doesn’t give them a lot to do. Slingshot, the token Native American was killed, mere minutes after being introduced. Katana, played by Karen Fukuhara, didn’t have much to do, which was sad, because she seemed so badass in the trailers. Jai Courtney’s Captain Boomerang was actually likeable, Jay Hernandez as El Diablo was also engaging as the reluctant anti-hero.

Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress was plain weird, I initially liked the way June Moone turned into the witch but pretty much everything after that was painful to watch. For the life of me, I couldn’t understand why her body kept moving, almost as if she was doing some strange dance. It was distracting and made it impossible to take her seriously. Also, they should have stuck to her initial look, her ‘powered-up’ avatar just looked bad with that weird disk thing on her head. We were supposed to care about her relationship with Rick Flagg but it was so rushed and just had no time to grow organically. The audience was basically told that they spent time together and then they fell in love, that’s not how you get emotionally involved. Joel Kinnaman’s Rick Flagg was also frustrating, for all his high-handedness to Deadshot, they were more similar than he cared to admit, they were both killers, only their paymasters were different. Viola Davis as Amanda Waller was also great and every bit as despicable as she is in the comics.

Much has been said about Jared Leto’s Joker, ranging from his ‘method’ acting to the strange things he did on set while he was in his ‘Joker’ frame of mind. All I can say is that it was an utter waste. His performance as the Crown Prince of Crime was lackluster and failed to inspire anything. It was hard to see why Dr. Harleen Quinzel would fall for him or how he inspired terror in those he dealt with. There was something very cumbersome about his performance.

This film actually belongs to Will Smith and Margot Robbie. They were superb in the film and fit their roles perfectly. Especially, Robbie’s Harley Quinn was spot-on. She was irreverent, unapologetic and absolutely nuts and you could see the fun Robbie was having with the role. And yet she also infused the character with vulnerabilities, made her more human, someone you could relate to (kind of). However, she was the most fun and engaging when she was with the group, her scenes with Joker, in contrast, seemed stilted and added nothing to the broader plot.

The Joker-Harley relationship is extremely abusive and while I was relieved that they didn’t play the relationship quite the way it turns out in the comics, it was still toxic and that should have been addressed. The film actually presents the Joker in a sympathetic light, as someone who loves Harley Quinn, but doesn’t hesitate to abandon her at the bottom of a lake after she screams that she can’t swim. And while she did have some agency, it was negated when Joker chose to torture her, knowing full well that given the choice she would have helped him of her own accord. The relationship in the film is even more troubling because of the mixed signals the film gives out.

Smith’s Deadshot was a similar story, he made his character someone you wanted to root for. Smith played Deadshot with his customary wit and charm and elevated the character’s personality. He also probably had the best dialogues of the entire lot. Smith and Robbie also had amazing chemistry (far better than Robbie and Leto’s)

The strongest aspect of the film was the ensemble cast, the scenes where the group spent time together were among the best in the film and actually made the film fun and watchable. The group played off each other really well and they were entertaining. It would have been far better if they had focused more on the actual Squad. Case in point, there were moments between Harley and Deadshot that spoke of friendship and solidarity and it was done well. We needed more moments like that in the film. We could have done without Leto’s Joker entirely, he added nothing and only served to slow down the narrative and bogged it down.

Suicide Squad is worth one watch at least. It is so much better than Batman vs Superman, there were moments in the film that were actually funny and engaging, great moments between the different characters. Sadly, it was bogged down with bad editing and bad writing. The trailers for Suicide Squad were uniformly amazing and set the expectations very high. If your primary motive for watching the film are the trailers, you should skip the film because you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. The film had so much potential and it was all squandered. So far DC isn’t inspiring any confidence in their Cinematic Universe and if they don’t start fixing whatever it is that’s broken, they’re only going to make things worse for themselves.

P.S – Fervently hoping that Joker doesn’t show up in the Harley Quinn film, instead, let’s have Katana show up or even Poison Ivy..

The Abyss Surrounds Us (The Abyss Surrounds Us #1) by Emily Skrutskie Review


For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

There’s no time to mourn. Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup, make sure he imprints on her ship, and, when the time comes, teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. And she’s not about to stop. (Via Goodreads)

More like 3.5 stars. Went in with no expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it considering that I had finished Endsinger not too long ago.

The world building was solid and coherent and the characters were well written. I really liked how the romance was portrayed. That the characters wanted to be on an equal footing even though they were clearly attracted to and were starting to fall for each other. Skrutskie really managed to convey the frustration of the characters as well as their inner turmoil.

There was also a lot of moral ambiguity which is always a plus. Initially, Casandra is convinced that the pirates are the bad guys and having their vessels destroyed doesn’t really bother her. It is only when she starts living with the pirates (as a hostage) that she realises that the lines aren’t as clear as she was led to believe. She starts seeing them as people with families of their own. Even with regard to Swift, she’s definitely a grey character, someone who doesn’t take pleasure in the more violent aspects of her duty but who does them just the same.

I would have liked to see more of the other Reckoners and hope that that’s something we see in the next installment. I am also curious how the issues between Cas and Swift are going to be resolved. I also loved that their sexual orientation was dealt with so casually and in a matter-of-fact manner. That was very refreshing.

The Abyss Surrounds Us was just what I needed. It was fun, though a bit on the short side (which works in its favour)