I rarely read sci-fi and even less pirates’ stories but this year I decided to read a few books that throw me out of my comfort zone. I’m glad I’ve chosen this one. Anna Burke is a new promising author and ‘Compass Rose’ is her debut book. For this novel she received the Golden Crown Literary Society’s Sandra Moran scholarship, created to mentor young writers like Ms. Burke.
‘Compass Rose’ is set in a dystopian world in 2513 in which the sea levels on Earth have risen and land is either flooded or too polluted to live on. Humans live on sea stations mainly located in the North Atlantic Archipielago. Compass Rose is a navigator born with an extraordinary ability: she can always tell her exact location and get the best nautical routes to a destination. When her Admiral orders her to work alongside mercenary Captain Miranda Stillwater to defeat the pirates that threaten to rule the Atlantic, her world turns upside down. But even her exceptional navigational skills won’t prepare her for Miranda’s captivating persona and for her threatening crew.
This novel is written in first person from the point of view of Compass Rose except for a brief Captain’s log at the beginning of each section (East, South, West, North, Center).The world the author built is very imaginative in its unpleasant and threatening nature. The dangers come in the form of gigantic squids, murdering pirates or greedy politicians. The beauty of this book is that even in this imaginary world we can see humanity at its best and worst. Ms. Burke’s use of nautical metaphors is beautiful and poetic.
Compass Rose makes a well rounded main character with all her extraordinary abilities and her shortcomings. Ms. Burke isn’t afraid to depict her as an unwilling heroine stressing on her fears and her anxiety coping mechanisms (her mantra ‘North, south, east, west’ is an amusing example). The cast of secondary characters is presented with no rush so each one can be recognised for their own physical appearance and personalities. The author doesn’t sugarcoat their cruelty or ferocity which makes the story very credible.
The romance is too much on the side for my liking but I understand the logic around it. This is not a romance but a fast-paced adventure novel. Despite that they are not together much, the chemistry between Rose and Miranda is sizzling and believable.
Overall, a very good pirates’ adventure novel for fans of dystopian sci-fi. Great debut novel by a promising author. 4.5 stars.
Rowan is the daughter of a merchant who unknowingly gives her a cursed rose taken during an ill-fated hunting trip. The rose was in a land of eternal winter inhabited by a mysterious woman called the Huntress. Furious at the merchant for killing her wolves and stealing her rose, the Huntress irrupts into the merchant’s house and takes the rose back along with Rowan. Trapped in the Huntress’s realm of eternal winter and curse, Rowan will have to choose between her family loyalties and her growing feelings for the Huntress.
Following my new year resolution to read more books out of my comfort zone, I chose a genre that I seldom read: fantasy. ‘Thorn’ is a retelling of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. In this novel, according to the author, bravery and not beauty defines Beauty. As in her previous book ‘Compass Rose’ Ms. Burke is very poetic in her metaphors, this time changing naval comparisons for winter ones. Her depiction of the freezing landscape with its vast gamut of whites, menacing beasts and dimmed sunlight acts as an ideal backdrop to this beautiful story.
This novel is written in first person from the point of view of Rowan except for a few short sections written in third person point of view from the Huntress. Both main characters are well-rounded and believable and the reader cannot help but feel the pain of both: the Huntress as a victim of her own arrogance and Rowan as a casualty of her father’s weakness. Underneath lies a heavy criticism to the patriarchal system, in which women are traded as goods in the name of their fathers’ interests, and the confict between family loyalties and a woman’s search for true love.
‘A rose for a rose, a thorn for a thorn’. With each repetition of this mantra, the reader sees this phrase in a different light. The tone of this novel shifts back-and-forth from poetic and romantic as a rose, to hurting and heartbreaking as a thorn. Similarly, the pace changes from slow-burn romance to fast paced thriller. This book has been a pleasure to read and shows that Anna Burke is quickly becoming more than a promising writer.
Overall, a very good lesfic retelling of the classic ‘Beauty and the Beast’. A tale of suffering, bravery and love conquering all. 5 stars.
ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
This year has started a bit slow in the lesfic releases but here are some books recommendations to get 2019 rolling. Enjoy!
Recommended new releases:
‘Year of the kiss‘ by Gisele Fox
In New Year’s Eve artist Sasha and PhD student Naomi meet by chance and they briefly enjoy an incredible kiss. But things get complicated fast and they both go separate ways without knowing anything about each other. Will they be able to meet again and find out if that initial chemistry has potential to develop into something more permanent?
This is an entertaining, sweet and erotic novella with quirky secondary characters and funny banter. 4.5 stars.
Emily Sanders is facing a few challenges in life. She’s recently divorced from her husband, her mum passed away and she has to take care of her 23 year old Down syndrome sister. But the biggest challenge of all comes in the shape of her new co-worker, Andi Marino who is beautiful, caring and a lesbian. Andi not only becomes her best friend but makes Emily wonder about her own sexuality.
This is a light and humorous story of the ‘friends to lovers’ trope along with a late coming out. 4 stars.
After a quick hookup with her boss Casey at their work’s Christmas party, Ellie tries her best to avoid her gorgeous manager. But that is about to change when they both get trapped inside an elevator for hours and have to face their feelings for each other…
Part of the ‘Dirty Bits’ collection by Carina Press, ‘Going Down’ is a well written, entertaining and hot erotica novella. 4.5 stars.
‘Compass Rose’ is set in a dystopian world in 2513 in which the sea levels on Earth have risen and land is either flooded or too polluted to live on. Compass Rose is a navigator born with an extraordinary ability: she can always tell her exact location and get the best nautical routes to a destination. When her Admiral orders her to work alongside mercenary Captain Miranda Stillwater to defeat the pirates that threaten to rule the Atlantic, her world turns upside down. But even her exceptional navigational skills won’t prepare her for Miranda’s captivating persona and for her threatening crew.
This is a very good pirates’ adventure novel for fans of dystopian sci-fi and a great debut novel by a promising author. 4.5 stars.
Maverick Homicide detective Tori Hunter is forced to team up with the hot-tempered, gorgeous and very straight Samantha Kennedy to investigate a serial killer. But soon things get complicated in both the investigation and Hunter and Samantha’s personal lives.
Published in 2005, Ms. Hill presents a page-turner thriller combined with a passionate romance between two very different characters. 4.5 stars.