I heard that book 2 was better than book 1, and while usually the 2nd in a series is often my least favorite, This 2nd totally stands up and yeah I think perhaps it Is better than the first! Okay, they are equally great, and stand apart. I can't wait for book 3.
OutPost: Fleshed out characters, a great new story line, and leading us to a new world for book 3. Ann is connected to her characters and cares for them (it is obv, but she also tweeted me about it a few times.)
And regarding the free short story, Endurance, I hope to see more of Stone & Thimble.