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Flames to Embers {Spring 2014}

Flames to Embers

I’m not able to get to all the books I receive for review consideration, so to reduce stress and start with a clean slate each month, I feature the ones that I didn’t get to read in Flames and Embers. All the books I request start out as flames in my heart, but for various reasons, some of them burn down to embers and I lose desire or time to read them. I hope that you find something that draws your interest though!

Welcome to the first edition of my new feature Flames and Embers! This is going to be a roughly monthly feature where I talk about the books that I received for review consideration but didn’t end up reviewing before their publication date (with the occasional DNF included). Sometimes I’ll manage to read a review copy after the publication date because I really really want to read it, but to reduce my stress about being “behind on overdue” review copies, I’m going to clean the slate by officially setting aside books that I’m no longer excited to read.

Memory of Water by Emmi Itaranta With the lyricism of Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, and the world building brilliance of Atwood, Emmi Itäranta’s effortless and poignant debut novel is a coming of age story full of emotional drama and wonderment.

Some secrets demand betrayal.

‘You’re seventeen, and of age now, and therefore old enough to understand what I’m going to tell you,’ my father said. ‘This place doesn’t exist.’

‘I’ll remember,’ I told him, but didn’t realise until later what kind of promise I had made.

When Noria Kaitio reaches her seventeenth birthday, she is entrusted with the secret of a freshwater spring hidden deep within the caves near her small rural village. Its preservation has been the responsibility of her family for generations.

Apprenticed to her father, one of the last true tea masters, when Noria takes possession of the knowledge, she become much more than the guardian of ancestral treasure; soon, she will hold the fate of everyone she loves in her hands.

I was really excited about Memory of Water when I first spotted it because I love seeing speculative fiction from other countries translated into English if done well. However, I still haven’t read Not a Drop to Drink and for some reason want to read that before this one since they seem to have similar premises. I’m crazy, I know. Memory of Water is a book I’m very likely to try to get back to at some point just to see if the beautiful writing translates well into English. Anyone read it?

The Immortal Crown by Richelle Mead The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Vampire Academy and Bloodline series returns with the second installment in her acclaimed Age of X series.

Gameboard of the Gods introduced religious investigator Justin March and Mae Koskinen, the beautiful supersoldier assigned to protect him. Together they have been charged with investigating reports of the supernatural and the return of the gods, both inside the Republic of United North America and out. With this highly classified knowledge comes a shocking revelation: Not only are the gods vying for human control, but the elect—special humans marked by the divine—are turning against one another in bloody fashion.

Their mission takes a new twist when they are assigned to a diplomatic delegation headed by Lucian Darling, Justin’s old friend and rival, going into Arcadia, the RUNA’s dangerous neighboring country. Here, in a society where women are commodities and religion is intertwined with government, Justin discovers powerful forces at work, even as he struggles to come to terms with his own reluctantly acquired deity.

Meanwhile, Mae—grudgingly posing as Justin’s concubine—has a secret mission of her own: finding the illegitimate niece her family smuggled away years ago. But with Justin and Mae resisting the resurgence of the gods in Arcadia, a reporter’s connection with someone close to Justin back home threatens to expose their mission—and with it the divine forces the government is determined to keep secret.

I quite enjoyed Gameboard of the Gods, though it was a slower read. I think that slowness is what made me hesitant to start The Immortal Crown since I just haven’t been in the mood for a slower-build sci-fi at the moment. I’m sure as soon as the third book’s cover is revealed, I’m going to be highly tempted to catch up with the series ;-).

The Blasted Lands by James A. Moore The sequel to SEVEN FORGES

The Empire of Fellein is in mourning. The Emperor is dead, and the armies of the empire have grown soft. Merros Dulver, their newly-appointed – and somewhat reluctant – commander, has been tasked with preparing them to fight the most savage enemy the world has yet seen.
 
Meanwhile, a perpetual storm ravages the Blasted Lands, and a new threat is about to arise – the Broken are coming, and with them only Death.

I wasn’t over the moon about Seven Forges, but I was feeling in the mood for quirky fantasy when I spotted The Blasted Lands, but by the time I was approved I had lost the urge. I’m thinking I could really use someone’s recommendation here. Anyone know if the second is better than the first in terms of plot?

Child of a Hidden SeaOne minute, twenty-four-year-old Sophie Hansa is in a San Francisco alley trying to save the life of the aunt she has never known. The next, she finds herself flung into the warm and salty waters of an unfamiliar world. Glowing moths fall to the waves around her, and the sleek bodies of unseen fish glide against her submerged ankles.

The world is Stormwrack, a series of island nations with a variety of cultures and economies—and a language different from any Sophie has heard.

Sophie doesn’t know it yet, but she has just stepped into the middle of a political firestorm, and a conspiracy that could destroy a world she has just discovered… her world, where everyone seems to know who she is, and where she is forbidden to stay.

But Sophie is stubborn, and smart, and refuses to be cast adrift by people who don’t know her and yet wish her gone. With the help of a sister she has never known, and a ship captain who would rather she had never arrived, she must navigate the shoals of the highly charged politics of Stormwrack, and win the right to decide for herself whether she stays in this wondrous world . . . or is doomed to exile

Urgh, I know that I really should have gotten to this one D: I’ve read several great reviews, but for some reason I just haven’t felt quite in the mood. Since I just finished House of the Four Winds, I think I need a break from fantasy set on the sea for at least a little bit. I also have never been in love with portal fantasy, so that doesn’t draw me in as much as the cover first did >.>.

The Queen of the Tearling On her nineteenth birthday, Princess Kelsea Raleigh Glynn, raised in exile, sets out on a perilous journey back to the castle of her birth to ascend her rightful throne. Plain and serious, a girl who loves books and learning, Kelsea bears little resemblance to her mother, the vain and frivolous Queen Elyssa. But though she may be inexperienced and sheltered, Kelsea is not defenseless: Around her neck hangs the Tearling sapphire, a jewel of immense magical power; and accompanying her is the Queen’s Guard, a cadre of brave knights led by the enigmatic and dedicated Lazarus. Kelsea will need them all to survive a cabal of enemies who will use every weapon—from crimson-caped assassins to the darkest blood magic—to prevent her from wearing the crown.

Despite her royal blood, Kelsea feels like nothing so much as an insecure girl, a child called upon to lead a people and a kingdom about which she knows almost nothing. But what she discovers in the capital will change everything, confronting her with horrors she never imagined. An act of singular daring will throw Kelsea’s kingdom into tumult, unleashing the vengeance of the tyrannical ruler of neighboring Mortmesne: the Red Queen, a sorceress possessed of the darkest magic. Now Kelsea will begin to discover whom among the servants, aristocracy, and her own guard she can trust.

But the quest to save her kingdom and meet her destiny has only just begun—a wondrous journey of self-discovery and a trial by fire that will make her a legend…if she can survive.

The Queen of the Tearling introduces readers to a world as fully imagined and terrifying as that of The Hunger Games, with characters as vivid and intriguing as those of The Game of Thrones, and a wholly original heroine. Combining thrilling action and twisting plot turns, it is a magnificent debut from the talented Erika Johansen.

I was supposed to love it, but I actually DNF’d The Queen of the Tearling at 27%. I’m just not captivated by this one at the moment. It’s heavy on the descriptions very much like GoT so I guess that description is accurate, but my Vicodin-drugged brain couldn’t care less. I might try it again in the future since the setting does sound cool in theory. But but but, I just don’t want to pick it up again even though I read lots of adult epic fantasy D:

So those are the five books that I didn’t manage to review over the past few months even though I had every intention to when I first requested them *sigh*. Do you think I’m completely missing out by skipping any of these? Since this is my first time with this feature, do you find it useful? Interesting? Waste of time? ;-)

Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings -Anya

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers Audiobook {4 Stars}

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers is a sequel to Grave Mercy but so much more. Dark Triumph is Sybella’s story and because Sybella is a much different character than Ismae, Dark Triumph is a much different book than Grave Mercy. I loved the adventuring across the countryside, the daring escapes and battles, and the added darkness that Sybella’s past brings to every decision she makes. I also enjoyed the romance plotline much much more since I absolutely adore the guy Sybella falls for >.>. There will be some spoilers if you haven’t read Grave Mercy, but these are chronological companion books, so most of Ismae’s story isn’t even brought up.

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers Audiobook {4 Stars}

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (His Fair Assassins #2)
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on April 2nd, 2013
Genres: Historical Fantasy, YA
Length: 385 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

When Sybella arrived at the doorstep of St Mortain half mad with grief and despair the convent were only too happy to offer her refuge - but at a price. The sisters of this convent serve Death, and with Sybella naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, she could become one of their most dangerous weapons.

But her assassin's skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to the life that nearly drove her mad. Her father's rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother's love is equally monstrous. But when Sybella discovers an unexpected ally she discovers that a daughter of Death may find something other than vengeance to live for...

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 7/20/14

Updates from the Lair

Updates from the Lair is my weekly wrap-up post that includes what happened in my real life, what I’ve been reading, my posts from the week, and what I’m thinking about reading next week (and would love your advice on!). 

I’m writing this post a bit earlier since my flight is delayed getting home and the airport seems like a great place to get caught up on blogging ;-). The other reason is because as you read this I’m somewhere in Minnesota where the internet availability is incredibly spotty since the boy’s parents have been resistant to wifi, ha. Anyway, I went to Canada this week and presented my research for the first time and it went absolutely awesome! I got lots of questions and people expressing interest and ideas for future work along with compliments on my public speaking :D. I was horrendously nervous beforehand, but I had practiced so much that the actual presentation was actually quite fun. I need to work on speaking slower under pressure, but that’s a bit hard to practice much without pressure, hehe. I did get some reading done on the plane rides, but one was overnight and I gave in to sleep not too far in, oh well!

My Week

The House of the Four Winds GiveawayThe prologue for The House of the Four Winds was actually my favorite part and I was a bit disappointed that the rest of the book didn’t keep up that fun and fresh approach to swashbuckling adventure. That being said, overall the book was quite enjoyable and definitely recommended for when you are in the mood for swashbuckling with a bit of magic. Also, I made a Fan Art Up post-it art for it :D. Keep an eye out for an awesome giveaway and review coming in a week or two ;-).

Trial by Fire I have also been reading Trial by Fire here and there. My reading group gave up on it which makes me a bit sad since I’m quite enjoying the mix of science and magic once Lily gets to the alternate world. I’m not sure how I’m going to classify this one once it is review time since it is fantasy with some pretty accurate science behind it plus parallel worlds :D. Also, how much interest is there for a giveaway of this ARC?

And in case you missed it, these were my posts this week:

Reports from Other Lairs

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The Fire Wish Giveaway!

Book Giveaway

The Fire Wish Blog Tour Giveaway

I just finished The Fire Wish a couple of weeks ago and really enjoyed it. I think my favorite thing is that I’m finally getting to read YA fantasy from a major publishing house that is set in the Middle East and with jinn! My review is coming later in the week, but for now you get to win a copy to enjoy for yourself :D.

The Fire Wish by Amber Lough A jinni. A princess. And the wish that changes everything. . . . 

Najwa is a jinni, training to be a spy in the war against the humans. Zayele is a human on her way to marry a prince of Baghdad—which she’ll do anything to avoid. So she captures Najwa and makes a wish. With a rush of smoke and fire, they fall apart and re-form—as each other. A jinni and a human, trading lives. Both girls must play their parts among enemies who would kill them if the deception were ever discovered—enemies including the young men Najwa and Zayele are just discovering they might love.

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Sci-fi and Fantasy Friday {ARCs and $5 Giftcards Weekly!}

Sci-fi And Fantasy Fridays

Link-up Your Sci-fi and Fantasy Reviews and Giveaways!

I’m a huge sci-fi and fantasy fan, to the point that that is really all I read anymore. Therefore, I decided to start a weekly feature where I get all of you to gather the sf/f reviews and giveaways you’ve published and found so that we can all discover new books, blogs, and giveaways in our favorite genres!

Another crazy week for me so I wasn’t able to collect many links, which means more for you all to add :D. Some recent releases from the ARC list that you might be excited to win:

The Queen of the Tearling Sworn in Steel

Every week I’ll pick a random link and the email address that submitted that link will get $5 at Amazon or an ARC from my SFFF-Books shelf!

Here are the more stringent rules concerning links for the giveaway:

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5 Inspirations for The Fog of Forgetting

Fog of Forgetting by G. A. MorganToday I’m happy to welcome G. A. Morgan to the blog to talk about her upcoming book The Fog of Forgetting which you may remember from the awesome necklace giveaway going on still :D. 

Hi everyone, I’m G.A. Morgan, author of The Fog of Forgetting, the first book in my middle-grade fantasy trilogy called The Five Stones. It’s an exciting day for me because the book is being released as you read this, which means that if you like the sound of it by the time you finish this post, you can order the book today, read it over the weekend, and write me back! I’m excited to hear what you think. Before I get into the story, let me thank Anya for hosting me today and for being such a terrific supporter of books and sci-fi/fantasy, in particular. I want to thank all of you, too, for taking the time that you do to dive into these kind of books that try and tackle big topics in a creative way, and for supporting Anya. It takes a village to keep the dream, and we are doing it together—one book at a time!
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Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian de Castell eARC {4 Stars}

Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian de Castell is one of those fantasies that has only a smattering of magic but lots of banter, swordplay, and epic adventures. I knew going into to Traitor’s Blade that it would likely be a great book for me since I’ve seen so many positive reviews and I highly enjoy banter and swords. What I wasn’t expecting, though, was the amusing and unique narration from the main character, Falcio. Falcio has such a unique voice and a rather clever explanation for how the story came to be written down. Even though Falcio sometimes got on tangents while telling his tale, I never got bored since he was just so darn entertaining!

Note: I received Traitor’s Blade through Edelweiss for review consideration. Some things may have changed in the final version.

This book has adult content.
Traitor’s Blade by Sebastian de Castell eARC {4 Stars}

Traitor's Blade by Sebastian de Castell (Greatcoats #1)
Published by Jo Fletcher on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss, Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

The King is dead, the Greatcoats have been disbanded, and Falcio Val Mond and his fellow magistrates Kest and Brasti have been reduced to working as bodyguards for a nobleman who refuses to pay them. Things could be worse, of course. Their employer could be lying dead on the floor while they are forced to watch the killer plant evidence framing them for the murder. Oh wait, that's exactly what's happening.

Now a royal conspiracy is about to unfold in the most corrupt city in the world. A carefully orchestrated series of murders that began with the overthrow of an idealistic young king will end with the death of an orphaned girl and the ruin of everything that Falcio, Kest, and Brasti have fought for. But if the trio want to foil the conspiracy, save the girl, and reunite the Greatcoats, they'll have to do it with nothing but the tattered coats on their backs and the swords in their hands, because these days every noble is a tyrant, every knight is a thug, and the only thing you can really trust is a traitor's blade.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness ARC {5 Stars}

Today my awesome mom is stopping by to review The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness :D.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness was a very thoughtful gift from my book-blogging daughter who got the (signed!) advanced readers copy for me at BEA.  I set it aside to read when I “had time” in my busy schedule, but, after succumbing to curiosity, I literally did not put The Book of Life down but to sleep and go to work… and I was tempted to skip work.  Harkness has brought to life our star-crossed lovers of different magical species as they return to the 21st Century to face formidable foes with the support of their increasingly varied collection of family and friends.

The Book of Life is a heady blend of science and magic, of faith and love, of steel-willed resolve, and of historical and modern.  It moves along crisply, letting the Bishop-Clermont family and reader have a few moments to rest and recover, but those moments are all the more precious for their loving detail and sense of respite in the seas of vast and long-reaching changes.

This is a third book, so there are spoilers for the previous books below!

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Book of Life from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness ARC {5 Stars}

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness (All Souls Trilogy #3)
Published by Viking Adult on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Length: 576 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

After traveling through time in Shadow of Night, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s enchanting series, historian and witch Diana Bishop and vampire scientist Matthew Clairmont return to the present to face new crises and old enemies. At Matthew’s ancestral home at Sept-Tours, they reunite with the cast of characters from A Discovery of Witches—with one significant exception. But the real threat to their future has yet to be revealed, and when it is, the search for Ashmole 782 and its missing pages takes on even more urgency. In the trilogy’s final volume, Harkness deepens her themes of power and passion, family and caring, past deeds and their present consequences. In ancestral homes and university laboratories, using ancient knowledge and modern science, from the hills of the Auvergne to the palaces of Venice and beyond, the couple at last learn what the witches discovered so many centuries ago.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson is the first in a new series about a princess that has a lot to learn, an assassin who is rather conflicted, and a prince who is nothing that you’d expect. While that makes The Kiss of Deception sound like a typical YA fantasy, you would make a horrendous mistake to leave it at that. The world that The Kiss of Deception gives us glimpses of has the potential to be truly epic and could rival adult epic fantasy for its scope and depth. The plot and character dynamics could easily have fallen into tropes, but beautifully escaped being quite what you’d think. On top of all that the writing is addictive and you’ll easily sprint through this 500-page book and be begging for book two with the rest of us! Yes, all right, I really darn enjoyed this one!

Note: I received The Kiss of Deception from the publisher  for review consideration. Some things may have changed in the final version.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson ARC {4.5 Stars}

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles #1)
Published by Henry Holt and Co. on July 15th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Length: 496 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

In a society steeped in tradition, Princess Lia’s life follows a preordained course. As First Daughter, she is expected to have the revered gift of sight—but she doesn’t—and she knows her parents are perpetrating a sham when they arrange her marriage to secure an alliance with a neighboring kingdom—to a prince she has never met.

On the morning of her wedding, Lia flees to a distant village. She settles into a new life, hopeful when two mysterious and handsome strangers arrive—and unaware that one is the jilted prince and the other an assassin sent to kill her. Deception abounds, and Lia finds herself on the brink of unlocking perilous secrets—even as she finds herself falling in love.

4.5 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 7/13/14

Updates from the Lair

Updates from the Lair is my weekly wrap-up post that includes what happened in my real life, what I’ve been reading, my posts from the week, and what I’m thinking about reading next week (and would love your advice on!). 

I’m in CANADA! I’m writing this on Saturday so I’m currently preparing to leave for Canada, but by the time you read this, I will be waking up in Canada and frantically practicing for the first presentation of my research ever! And I can’t freaking get rid of this freaking headache D: I’ve been slowly responding to comments and commenting back, but between being completely exhausted, drugged, and traveling for three weeks straight, it has been a bit rough. So if I haven’t responded to you yet, it isn’t because I don’t love you, it’s because I love you too much to write a crappy response ;-).

Update on back pain and life stuff (feel free to skip to the books ;-) ):

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