Tag Archives: f/f

Review of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie

I purchased a paperback copy of The Abyss Surrounds Us, by Emily Skrutskie.

Description from Goodreads:

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. 

Spoilerish Review:

Those in my book circle seem to love this book and I can see why. Perfectly readable writing, YA lesbian leads, a bad-ass female pirate captain, racial/identity/economic diversity, acknowlegement of power differences, dads and brothers who play domestic roles while women work, all things it’s nice to encounter, and even better when gender norms are perverted, not just swapped. The characters are natural in their role and the author doesn’t play it up for points. 

But the simple overall fact of the matter is that, despite liking aspects of the book, I didn’t enjoy the book. I felt that Cassandra’s sudden siding with her captors simply because she’d gotten to know some of them was beyond plebeian. Her sudden willingness to kill her own because she’d become attached to one person made me grit my teeth. It’s far too weak a motivation. 

And the ending? Well, I feel like the villain won. Nothing in the ending felt satisfying. I didn’t feel like Cassandra accomplished anything or grew. In fact, she put herself in the hands of her enemy. Nope. I was not happy with the ending.

Review of The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (Montague Siblings #2), by Mackenzi Lee

I borrowed an audio copy of Mackenzi Lee’s The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy from my local library. I reviewed the first book in the series, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, last year.

Description from Goodreads:

A year after an accidentally whirlwind grand tour with her brother Monty, Felicity Montague has returned to England with two goals in mind—avoid the marriage proposal of a lovestruck suitor from Edinburgh and enroll in medical school. However, her intellect and passion will never be enough in the eyes of the administrators, who see men as the sole guardians of science.

But then a window of opportunity opens—a doctor she idolizes is marrying an old friend of hers in Germany. Felicity believes if she could meet this man he could change her future, but she has no money of her own to make the trip. Luckily, a mysterious young woman is willing to pay Felicity’s way, so long as she’s allowed to travel with Felicity disguised as her maid.

In spite of her suspicions, Felicity agrees, but once the girl’s true motives are revealed, Felicity becomes part of a perilous quest that leads them from the German countryside to the promenades of Zurich to secrets lurking beneath the Atlantic.

Review:

I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. Hmmm, that’s not quite right. I actually did really quite like it. I liked the representation and diversity of the book. I liked the wit and writing in the book. I liked Moira Quirk’s narration. I liked Felicity. I liked what she wanted and demanded in life. I liked that she was smart and determined and uncompromising.

I liked her feminism! But even as a staunch feminist myself, this same feminism was my biggest problem with the book and kept me from truly loving it. I’m not sure exactly how to explain this. Because I agree with Felicity 100% that she deserved to be allowed to study. That women deserved not to be stifled and protected from their own ambitions. But this is just such a modern ideal. It’s not that there weren’t women who strived to be more than mothers and wives, but Felicity kept acting as if she could reasonably expect different reactions from the men of society. That they, not her were the abnormal ones. The same society she had been raised in, with the same underlying mores. Most of her internal musings sounded horridly anachronistic to the time period the book is set in. It clashed jarringly. Eventually it started to feel like didactic lecture on what should be, instead of an engagement of what was (and to an extent still is). And in the end, undermined my ability to suspend my disbelief enough to truly immerse myself in the story.

Review of The Year of the Knife, by G.D. Penman

I received a copy of G.D. Penman‘s The Year of the Knife from the author.

Description from Goodreads:
Agent “Sully” Sullivan is one of the top cops in the Imperial Bureau of Investigation. A veteran witch of the British Empire who isn’t afraid to use her magical skills to crack a case. But Sully might need more than a good education and raw power to stop the string of grisly murders that have been springing up across the American Colonies. Every one of them marked by the same chilling calling card, a warning in the form of a legion of voices screaming out through the killers’ mouths: “It IS tHe YEAr oF the KNife.”

Sully’s investigation will drag her away from the comforts of home in New Amsterdam, the beautiful but useless hyacinth macaw that used to be her boss, and the loving arms of her undead girlfriend, in a thrilling race against time, demonic forces and a shadowy conspiracy that will do anything to keep its hold on power and ensure that Sully takes their secrets to her grave, as soon as possible.

Review:
Generally really enjoyable. There is some good humor and the writing is fun. I liked the cast of characters and the little bit of softness Sully shows when it comes to Marie. Which is especially notable because the book does suffer a bit from tough woman must be tough syndrome. By this I mean the common occurrence where authors want to make a woman seem strong and capable, so they make her overly violent and prickly. Gleeful violence is Sully’s first response to everything and it leaves her a little hard to relate too.

Certain aspects of the book confused me. I never wholly got my head around the political and geographic landscape that the story occurs in, and the confines of the magic system are vague. So, I never understood the limitations of what is or isn’t possible.

All in all, however I really liked The Year of the Knife and look forward to more.