Series Spotlight: The Razorland Trilogy (ENCLAVE, OUTPOST, HORDE) by Ann Aguirre

I flew through this series in just a few days. Read book 1 in one day, book 2 in one day, and book 3 in 2 days (but only because I was getting sick; otherwise, I would have finished it in just a day as well). Guys, this is now one of my favorite series ever. And I’m the kind of reader who is usually slow at following up on sequels. Even if I love the first book, it’d take me months or years before I pick up the next book in the series. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because sequels can be potentially disappointing? Or maybe there’s just way too many books on my TBR list. *shrugs*

But this series? Yeah, 1,2,3, boom! And I was done. It’s a post-apocalyptic world crawling with zombie-like Freaks, and you’d think that would be so cliched by this point, but no. There’s great characterization, excellent worldbuilding (in that it’s such a believable scenario), and the writing is tight. The main character, Deuce, belongs to the Definitely Strong Female Protagonist list, but Ms. Aguirre wonderfully balances Deuce’s strengths with her weaknesses so that we don’t just have a kick-ass protagonist for the sake of being kick-ass, but a three-dimensional character who has a lot to learn.   

Book #1: ENCLAVE

7137327New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks–who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight–guided by Fade’s long-ago memories–in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

 

 

 

Book #2: OUTPOST

10193062Deuce’s whole world has changed.

Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

 

Book #3: HORDE

10596724The horde is coming.

Salvation is surrounded, monsters at the gates, and this time, they’re not going away. When Deuce, Fade, Stalker and Tegan set out, the odds are against them. But the odds have been stacked against Deuce from the moment she was born. She might not be a Huntress anymore, but she doesn’t run. With her knives in hand and her companions at her side, she will not falter, whether fighting for her life or Fade’s love.

Ahead, the battle of a lifetime awaits. Freaks are everywhere, attacking settlements, setting up scouts, perimeters, and patrols. There hasn’t been a war like this in centuries, and humans have forgotten how to stand and fight. Unless Deuce can lead them.

This time, however, more than the fate of a single enclave or outpost hangs in the balance. This time, Deuce carries the banner for the survival of all humanity.

 

About the Author:

Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes all kinds of books, emo music, action movies and Doctor Who. She writes all kind of fiction in multiple genres, both YA and for adults. (Source: Goodreads)

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: Winter’s Regret, An Anthology published by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press

So this one is dear to my heart because…I have a short story included in this anthology!

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Blurb:

To be human is to have regrets, to question decisions, even to doubt our own abilities and capacities. Whether it’s because of a path not taken or a decision made for selfish or – perhaps worse – unselfish reasons, we all have had moments and decisions we regret. We might regret not recognizing an opportunity. In the end, the choices we make help shape our future.

The final anthology in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press’s “Seasons Series,” Winter’s Regret includes stories from P.S. Carrillo, Liz Coley, Sakura Q. Eries, Morgan George, Michelle Hauck, Kelly Heinen, Amanda Hill, Precy Larkins, Robert Wayne McCoy, Mindy McGinnis, A.T. O’Connor, Jeff O’Handley, Paul Parisi, Matt Sinclair, A.M. Supinger, Charlee Vale, and Cat Woods.

To learn more about Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, visit their website and blog.

My review:

There are 18 stories in this anthology, which means you get 18 chances to explore different voices, worlds, and characters. The common theme is regret, but each story showcases its own interpretation of regret, and it was fun to see how varied our perspectives can be. In Perfection by Mindy McGinnis, for instance, regret rears up its ugly head years later when the mother misses the time she could have spent with her children. In Do Dead Psychics Smoke Cigarettes by Robert McCoy, there’s a sci-fi-ish twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting, and the main character’s regret comes a day too late.

The starter story, Second-Chance Sunday by Liz Coley, explores the main character’s inner demons and the dark irony of second chances in life. When Stars Align by A.T. O’Connor is any young woman’s nightmare. Adrift by Matt Sinclair is about a couple’s marriage and the little things, little decisions, that make a difference in their relationship. One Way Out by M. Arthur Stone was deceptive–I had to read it twice to understand what was going on. It’s not what it seems at first glance, and it will leave your heart pounding.

Anguish by Kelly Heinen is something that parents fear. An Unexpected Reunion by Jeff O’Handley tells of a man carrying the burden of his past on his shoulders. The Rose by Amanda Hill is one teen boy’s bumbling mistake. A Life on Fire by Morgan George is of a man watching his life go up in flames, and the decision that he must make afterward. Navigator by Paul Parisi is of a careless act the main character would soon regret. Through the Fence by Cat Woods is a moment of bravery…or not. One Hundred Nights by Sakura Q. Eries is a story of What-If.

Los Sufridos by P.S. Carrillo opens up the possibility of a place where one can leave their regrets behind. Island of Blood and Horns by A.M. Supinger has unicorns! Though it is not of the fluffy-happy-rainbow-type variety. A Gift of Roses by Charlee Vale explores love and immortality. The Unfinished Task by Michelle Hauck is of a young woman’s sacrifice to save what she loves.

Rimorso is my brain-child. This story took shape while I was looking at pictures of Venice, Italy. I’ve always wanted to travel, and Italy is one of those places that has such an allure you can’t help but be drawn to it. In Rimorso, an unusual young woman wishes for love and finds it in an unusual way. But some wishes born of greed have deadly consequences. I love this story so much, and I truly enjoyed writing it. I hope you will enjoy it, too.

These are well-written stories. Some aim to entertain, while others seek to dig deeper into the human psyche and prompt the readers to ask questions. I’m honored to have my story be included in this anthology.

****

Winter’s Regret is available for purchase now:

Amazon Kindle and print format
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