Echoes of Blood by Halo Scot
Echoes of Blood is everything its predecessor — Edge of the Breach — was: intense, disturbing, emotional. But it builds on those emotions and feelings, turns the dial all the way up to 11, and dares you to keep up.
For about 95% of the book, that’s a good thing. Halo Scot is as quick with the pen as ever. The action is as brutal, the sex as intense, the emotions as dramatic as they were in the first book…and then some. Echoes of Blood is bigger (literally) and better in just about every way, and Rune and Kyder are far more fleshed out this time, even to the point where they end up more like each other than they would want to admit.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a passage, roughly three-quarters of the way through, that will likely trigger some into putting the book down. It’s dark. Disturbing. Disgusting, to the point where you might wonder how in the world someone could come up with all this. It’s understandable if it makes you stop reading. I nearly did.
Still, I pushed through (mostly just to see the perpetrator eventually get theirs), and I was rewarded with an ending that was equal parts surprising, emotionally satisfying, and the perfect set-up for the next book (there are four installments to this series, after all).
Echoes of Blood isn’t just a worthy follow-up to Edge of the Breach, this sequel surpasses its predecessor in every way.
Echoes of Blood is available on Kindle and paperback.
A Dangerous Game by Madeline Dyer
Set in the same universe as the Untamed series, yet a completely separate tale, Madeline Dyer’s A Dangerous Game is an action-packed adrenaline ride. A page-turner because that’s the only way to keep up with all the drama, action, violence, tension…you’ll find yourself putting this book down solely to catch your breath, gather your bearings for a few moments before diving in again.
Many of the rules Dyer established in her dystopian series are front-and-center in A Dangerous Game, but we’re instead put in the perspective of Keelie, an adrenaline junkie who seems to be everyone else’s punching bag (seriously, it seems like everyone in this book acts like everything that happens is her fault, which…welcome to adolescence, I guess?).
Characters from the main series appear, and are referenced, but Keelie is the focus. Her doubts, her fears, her memories, her certitude when it comes to the one thing she knows she’s good at. The one thing she knows she enjoys.
And yet, there’s little joy to be found here. That’s dystopia for you, and Dyer’s one of the best at the genre.
Fans of the Untamed series will no doubt find plenty to like about A Dangerous Game, but it also serves as an excellent jumping-on point for those unfamiliar. Equal parts world-building and character study (hidden behind all that tension and action), A Dangerous Game will have you trying to catch your breath and keep up.
A Dangerous Game is available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook.
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chan
This is a book everyone should read, whether they’re asexual or not.
It’s educational, it’s revelatory, and it has a lot to say not just about asexuality, but the oversized role sex takes in all our lives. For this reason, Ace is beneficial even for those who are not asexual, and that understanding goes beyond simply understanding asexuals better.
Equal parts personal and informational, Ace probably is not the definitive book on the subject, but it is likely one of the most accessible and the one that will have applications to people across multiples sexual orientations. This is a macro look at a micro topic, and in taking that overhead, big-picture view, Angela Chen is able to make the subject less intimidating to those not in the know and comforting to those who may have been, but lacked the language to articulate it.
Given sex’s prominence in American society–both from those who love it and those who seek to oppress it–it can be easy to let it overwhelm our lives (whether we’re actively engaged in it or not). Ace attempts to put sex in its proper context, to look at personal realities beyond the glitz and the glamor and the “you’ll like it, we promise.”
This is the sort of book I wish I’d been able to read as a teenager.
Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex is available in hardcover, paperback, audibook and ebook