As promised, I have packed the blog with guest posts and giveaways from now until the end of the year. Today I am excited to welcome debut author Cassandra Rose Clarke author of The Assassin's Curse. This is a fun action adventure book that features a feisty pirate paired with an unlikely ally, the very assassin who was sent to kill her. What follows is mayhem and more as the two find themselves flung together for better or worse. I invited Cassandra here today to share with you all her thoughts on kick butt heroines. Here is Cassandra's bio:
Cassandra Rose Clarke is a speculative fiction writer living amongst the beige stucco and overgrown pecan trees of Houston, Texas. She graduated in 2006 from The University of St. Thomas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and in 2008 she completed her master’s degree in creative writing at The University of Texas at Austin. Both of these degrees have served her surprisingly well.
During the summer of 2010, she attended the Clarion West Writers Workshop in Seattle, where she enjoyed sixty-degree summer days. Having been born and raised in Texas, this was something of a big deal. She was also a recipient of the 2010 Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund. You can find Cassandra on her website, twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.
Here is Cassandra on Kick Butt Heroines: (note to prevent any issues with using photos illegally I have linked the characters for their pictures and further information).
Heidi @Rainy Day Ramblings asked me to share a list of my favorite pirates, assassins, and other kick-butt characters in order to celebrate the general kick-butt spirit of The Assassin’s Curse. I’m happy to oblige! I also decided to stick to favorite kick-butt ladies, because why not?
Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies: Ripley is listed first because she is the Queen Mother of all kick-butt heroines. Everyone on this list is certainly capable of taking care of themselves, but they’ve also never had to face a space outpost full of xenomorphs. If they did, they would want Ripley around.
One of the things I like about Ripley is that she’s just doing what she needs to do to survive. She isn’t trying to “be a man,” nor is she trying to prove how tough she is. She’s just trying to get out of these (increasingly horrible) situations alive. Plus she takes the time to rescue cats and little girls, often at risk to herself, because she is just that awesome.
Asha Greyjoy from A Song of Ice and Fire: Another character from these books, Brienne of Tarth, was a close runner-up (especially the TV show version), but I decided to go with Asha because she’s more comfortable in her own skin. She’s another character who is what she is and isn’t necessarily trying to prove anything. It’s not so much that she can fight, but that she’s managed to attain a certain amount of independence in a society that’s rigged against her as a woman. She knows it, too, and, in true kick-butt fashion, comments on it.
The Bride from Kill Bill: So here’s my token assassin. What’s not to love about the Bride? She’s called the Bride, first of all, which is the greatest assassin code name of all time. Her speciality weapon is a katana, but that doesn’t mean she can’t pick up basically any other weapon and wield it just as effectively. She impressed Pai Mei enough that he taught her the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. Black mambas won’t even bite her! I could go on, but it would just involve laying out the entire plot of both of the Kill Bill movies.
Angelica from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: I’ve talked about Angelica before, back during The Assassin’s Curse blog tour, but since I wanted to include both a pirate and an assassin on this list, I figured she was worth another mention! There is a distressing lack of lady pirates in popular culture, but Angelica is still pretty awesome. As I said in my previous post, she’s basically the female counterpart to Jack Sparrow — not in terms of being his love interest (although she sort of is that, too), but in terms of wiliness. Their relationship is a bit like the one between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, in that I’m pretty sure Angelica could trick Jack Sparrow out of everything if she wanted.
Dr. Girlfriend (aka Dr. Mrs. the Monarch aka Queen Etherea aka Lady Au Pair) from The Venture Brothers: I’ll admit that The Venture Brothers is a bit of an acquired taste, but Dr. Girlfriend’s kick-buttitude is definitely capable of transcending its oddness. Unlike the other characters on this list, she isn’t a fighter. The closest archetype is probably “evil scientist” even though she isn’t particularly evil (although she is a villain). She kicks butt intellectually and is in fact much, much smarter than her husband, the Monarch — not just in terms of books smarts but in terms of common sense as well. All that plus she’s got a super-classy Jackie O thing going on, style-wise. Kick-butt perfection!
So there you have it, Cassandra's list of favorite ass kicking heroines. That is quite the lineup! A big thanks to Cassandra for being here today. Be sure to check out The Assassin's Curse available now and her upcoming titles for 2013: Her adult novel The Mad Scientist's Daughter in January 2013 and The Pirate's Wish (Book two of The Assassin's Cuse) out in June 2013.
The good folks at Strange Chemistry Publishing are allowing me to offer you all a chance to win a copy of The Assassin's Curse. Please fill out the Rafflecopter to enter after you read the Contest Policies. This is for U.S. Residents only. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Assassin's Curse (The Assassin's Curse #1) by Cassandra Rose Clarke
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.
Paperback, 1st Edition, 320 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Strange Chemistry
Four stars: A book with a head strong female pirate!
Ananna struggles in the tight silk gown. She is on her way to meet her affianced. She had no idea she was to be married until her parents sprung it on her. Now she is face to face with the man she is supposed to marry. She makes a split decision and dashes for a tied up camel. Without looking back, she jumps on board the camel and flees. Ananna has her dream: to be the captain of her own pirate ship, not the wife of a pirate who is beneath her in status. As she rides away, her betrothed shouts after her that his parents will send an assassin to kill her. Soon Ananna is being hunted, but when the assassin attempts to kill her things take a strange turn. Can Ananna be friends with an assassin?
What I Liked:
- I am a huge fan of headstrong, kick butt heroines and Ananna does not disappoint. It isn't often you run across pirates and a female pirate is almost unheard of at that. Ananna is fierce and determined. She is certainly no lady having spent her entire life aboard a pirate ship. She is capable and downright funny. I certainly admired this plucky female lead who can hold her own and wield a mean sword in a battle. She is sassy and stubborn and she has a bit of a jealous streak. She kept me laughing. She is unlike any female character I have encountered and for that I applaud Ms. Rose.
- I liked that this book featured pirates and assassins, again something you don't encounter on a regular basis and it is unheard of in the YA genre. I definitely liked that it also had magical elements and a dash of paranormal as well.
- Naji, the assassin, ended up surprising me. At the first meeting, I thought he would be a cold, calculating killer, but instead he is kind and scarred physically and emotionally. He has plenty of secrets and he always kept me guessing. I liked that he was brooding and mysterious and unexpected.
- I loved that this story is packed full of action and adventure. From the moment Ananna snatches the camel, there is rarely a dull moment. Ananna and Naji are constantly chased as they attempt to free themselves from the curse that binds them together. If you like a fast moving action adventure you will enjoy this one.
And The Not So Much:
- The climax and ending of this book are anti-climatic. After all the struggles and action, the final buildup is a bit disappointing. I was expecting it to go out with a dramatic punch instead it just kind of fades quietly preparing you for the continuation of the story in the next installment. There isn't a cliffhanger per say but there are many unresolved issues.
- I wished there was more background information on the pirates and the assassins. The assassins are especially elusive and there is very little information on the order that Naji comes from and what the life of the assassin is like until the final pages when Naji divulges a bit of his secrets. I was ultimately left hungering for more detail. I was enamored with Ananna's pirate upbringing and would have loved more of her stories. I especially loved her papa's words of wisdom that she was constantly recalling and I wished that her father had played a bigger part.
- This is a personal issue, but I am a grammar snob. Ms. Clarke to make Ananna's voice a bit more authentic gives her a rather uneducated form of speech. Ananna is always using double negatives and improper grammar that made me shudder, but again I realize that this was part of her character. A pirate child does not go to school and so her speech and mannerisms mirror the environment she grew up. That means that she is a bit crass and lacks polish.
- I was a bit disappointed that there was no romance in this one. I was expecting sparks to fly between Ananna and Naji, but that does not happen. One of them by the end has strong feelings toward the other but the other party seems oblivious. I am hoping that the romance will bloom in the sequel because the stage is set for it.
The Assassin's Curse is a fun book that features a funny, feisty pirate heroine that has a strong will and refuses to accept anything but her own ship. When paired with an unlikely comrade, you have a an interesting action adventure. I enjoyed the numerous scrapes the pair found themselves in, and can't wait to see how their story continues.
"Beautiful people, things are too easy for 'em. They don't know how to survive in this world. Somebody's ugly, or even plain, normal-looking that means they got to work twice as hard for things."
"This was shy I hated beautiful people. They build you up and then they destroy you."
"And a cure is one letter off from a curse."
"You don't realize how much you miss something till it comes back to you, and then you wonder how you went so long without it."
"Sure, sirens are a pain in the ass, but how could he not see all the beauty that was out there---the starlight leaving stains of brightness in the water, the salt-kissed wind?"
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.