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The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley ARC {4 Stars}

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley is an incredibly ambitious and wonderful epic fantasy that throws out every rulebook trope of the genre to create a truly magical experience. The Mirror Empire combines awesome magic dependent on which star is most present in the sky with parallel worlds battling for their very survival as an apocalypse approaches that occurs every 2000 years. Forget fantasy based on Medieval Europe with kings and knights, bring in a number of matriarchal societies, plus societies with completely different gender norms (5 genders) and marriage arrangements (understandable with 5 genders), and did I mention the swords that grow out of warriors’ wrists?? This description only barely scratches the surface of all the cool things that The Mirror Empire brings together, but if you love world-building and want a truly unique fantasy read, just trust me on this one ;-).

Note: I received an advanced copy of The Mirror Empire from the publisher. I have been informed that a fair amount has changed and been added in the final version.

This book has adult content.
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley ARC {4 Stars}

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley (Worldbreaker Saga #1)
Published by Angry Robot on August 26th, 2014
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Length: 544 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past... while a world goes to war with itself. 

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.

Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war; a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father's people or loyalty to her alien Empress.  

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself. 

In the end, one world will rise - and many will perish.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini ARC {4 Stars}

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini combines magic with science, fantasy with sci-fi, and parallel worlds with love shapes of all kinds ;-). I found Trial by Fire to be better than I had expected with lots of little details that made me squee, while it also stumbled at other times. The magic of Trial by Fire has a strong basis in chemistry and Trial by Fire brought up some actually quite thought-provoking ideas about the benefits and costs of scientific progress in our world where magic could rule in a parallel world.

Note: I received an advanced copy of Trial by Fire from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini ARC {4 Stars}

Trial by Fire by Josephine Angelini (The Worldwalker Trilogy #1)
Published by Feiwel & Friends on Sept. 2nd, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Genre-bender, YA
Length: 384 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Love burns. Worlds collide. Magic reigns.

This world is trying to kill Lily Proctor. Her life-threatening allergies keep her from enjoying many of the experiences that other teenagers take for granted...which is why she is determined to enjoy her first (and perhaps only) high-school party. But Lily's life never goes according to plan, and after a humiliating incident in front of half her graduating class Lily wishes she could just disappear.

Suddenly Lily is in a different Salem - one overrun with horrifying creatures and ruled by powerful women called Crucibles. Strongest and cruellest of all the Crucibles is Lillian . . . Lily's identical other self in this alternate universe. This new version of her world is terrifyingly sensual, and Lily is soon overwhelmed by new experiences.

Lily realizes that what makes her weak at home is exactly what makes her extraordinary in New Salem. It also puts her life in danger. Thrown into a world she doesn't understand, Lily is torn between responsibilities she can't hope to shoulder alone, and a love she never expected.

But how can Lily be the saviour of this world when she is literally her own worst enemy?

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 8/31/14

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!). 

Hello lovelies! The school semester has started up for me once again which means dodging undergrads and having to schedule my work hours around the madness that is football home games on campus (seriously, there have been riots at times). I’m taking two actual classes and one short seminar and I’m quite excited for all of them! This is my last year having to take classes for my PhD so I’m really close :D. I’m taking Parallel Processing (learning how to write programs to use the multiple cores all computers have these days) and a Computational Biology class (learning how to write programs to analyze DNA information) and then the seminar class is on teaching evidence-based biology. I’m not sure that I’ll ever have the chance to teach biology, but I like learning about teaching anyway ;-). Oo, I was also really good and went to the gym three times this week! *gold star for me*

My Week

Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs I just finished Shifting Shadows a day or two ago and looooooved it! I’m normally not a fan of short story anthologies, but this was a great collection of stories from lots of secondary characters in the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega books. They mostly took place earlier in the series so you’d be safe reading them even if you aren’t caught up except for two outtakes at the end. However, there is a nice intro for each story to tell you when they take place and give some context so you have warning about any spoilers :D.

Snow Likes AshesSnow Like Ashes has been my “I’m at the gym for two hours so I can read what I want!” book and I’m really loving it! The magic/world is interesting since there are four kingdoms that have forever one season and are called by that season and then four kingdoms called Rhythms that go through all four seasons normally. The magic is passed through the royal line and different kingdoms always have female or male heirs with magic power so there is some nice balance to the gender roles. Things are going in a love triangle direction, but it is one that makes some sense (arranged marriage versus actual feelings) so I’m okay with it so far ;-).

The Midnight Queen Finally, I just started The Midnight Queen and was initially put off by the main character’s stutter just because it is annoying to read, but the writing style is one of those quirky and sometimes breaking the fourth wall styles that I like, plus cool magic! Also omg that purple cover is GORGEOUS and I’m heart-broken that it isn’t coming out in hardback D:. But enjoying it!

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Spoils, Tribute, and Planning to Pillage

Spoils and Tribute

Spoils and Tribute is a feature of On Starships and Dragonwings where I tell you about the books I’ve bought and received recently (my version of Stacking the Shelves). I promise that I paid for all my spoils and I’m not letting the “tribute” go to my head ;-). Planning to pillage is just my version of Waiting on Wednesday where I share books that have caught my eye!

It’s been so long since I did a Spoils and Tribute post! I keep being tempted to do other fun things on Saturdays and letting the books pile up, but I’m also really excited about all these awesome new things to read so I have to share :D. There are still some things popping up from my book buying binge the other month, but I think I’m done after this so it’s time to lick my wounds and try to get this TBR shrunk ;-).

Tribute

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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!

Congrats to Marie for winning last week and snagging my ARC of Trial by Fire, hope you love it!! This week I aimed to get a few different tempting upcoming releases for you all so hopefully there is something you’re excited about ;-).

Divinity The Fire Artist The Mirror Empire

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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The Jewel by Amy Ewing eARC {4 Stars}

The Jewel by Amy Ewing is a daring mix of dystopian and fantasy elements that brings a breath of fresh air to the YA dystopian trend. I honestly hadn’t even planned on reading The Jewel since it looked like just another dystopian with a dress on the cover, but I’m so glad I gave it a go! The Jewel is full of action and suspense along with a very cool magic system and a world that is far different from our own. The Jewel also pleasantly surprised me by pushing the magic abilities in directions I’ve never read about before, which is saying something given my love of new magic ;-).

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

The Jewel by Amy Ewing eARC {4 Stars}

The Jewel by Amy Ewing (The Lone City #1)
Published by HarperTeen on Sept. 2nd, 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Fantasy, YA
Length: 358 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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White Cat by Holly Black Audiobook {4 Stars}

White Cat by Holly Black is the first in the Curse Workers trilogy and introduces us to a world where everyone knows that magic is real, but generally controlled by several families mob-style in the USA. I’ve been meaning to read this trilogy for over a year ever since I met Holly Black at a signing, and I’m so glad that the audiobook was available and of solid quality so that I can finally fit this great series in! If you enjoy the idea of an alternative history mixed with a dash of magic, definitely check these books out and maybe even the audio versions ;-).

White Cat by Holly Black Audiobook {4 Stars}

White Cat by Holly Black
Narrated by Jesse Eisenberg
(Curse Workers #1)
Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books on May 4th, 2010
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, YA
Length: 320 pages
How I got my copy: Purchased
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Cassel comes from a shady, magical family of con artists and grifters. He doesn't fit in at home or at school, so he's used to feeling like an outsider. He's also used to feeling guilty; he killed his best friend, Lila, years ago.

But when Cassel begins to have strange dreams about a white cat, and people around him are losing their memories, he starts to wonder what really happened to Lila. In his search for answers, he discovers a wicked plot for power that seems certain to succeed. But Cassel has other ideas and a plan to con the conmen.

4 Stars

Strengths:
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Top Ten SF/F Books I Need to Buy

Top Ten Tuesday

Thanks to the gals of The Broke and The Bookish for hosting this meme every week!

I feel the need to start this week’s topic out with the confession that I own A LOT of books and I tend to buy them very soon after they come out even if I know I won’t have a chance to read them very soon >.>. Therefore, it was rather hard for me to go through my entire TBR list and find books that I’m still really excited about but don’t own! And so I cheated a bit by including books that aren’t out yet ;-).

Because they aren’t published

Dead Heat Unbound Captive Firefight

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Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke eARC {5 Stars}

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke combines the favorite sci-fi topic of parallel worlds with music theory for some truly awesome world-building along with the adorable teen romance that we’ve come to expect of the YA genre. On top of all that goodness, Dissonance contains family relationships and develop and actually matter to the plot, a whole lot of feels, and some crazy plot twists of deliciousness. Dissonance really is as awesome as you’ve been hearing ;-).

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

Dissonance by Erica O’Rourke eARC {5 Stars}

Dissonance by Erica O'Rourke (Dissonance #1)
Published by Simon & Schuster on July 22nd, 2014
Genres: Sci-fi, YA
Length: 496 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
Amazon - IndieBound - Book Depository - Goodreads
Purchases made support this blog

Delancy Sullivan has always known there’s more to reality than what people see. Every time someone makes a choice, a new, parallel world branches off from the existing one. Eating breakfast or skipping it, turning left instead of right, sneaking out instead of staying in bed ~ all of these choices create an alternate universe in which an echo self takes the road not travelled and makes the opposite decision. As a Walker, someone who can navigate between these worlds, Del’s job is to keep all of the dimensions in harmony.

Normally, Del can hear the dissonant frequency that each world emits as clear as a bell. But when a training session in an off-key world goes horribly wrong, she is forbidden from Walking by the Council. But Del’s not big on following the rules and she secretly starts to investigate these other worlds. Something strange is connecting them and it’s not just her random encounters with echo versions of the guy she likes, Simon Lane.

But Del’s decisions have unimaginable consequences and, as she begins to fall for the Echo Simons in each world, she draws closer to a truth that the Council of Walkers is trying to hide ~ a secret that threatens the fate of the entire multiverse.

5 Stars

Strengths:
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Updates from the Lair 8/24/14

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!). 

This week I aimed for relaxing and getting in some good reading time before my classes start up again next week D: . I read four books for Bout of Books and just have about twenty pages left in a fifth, yey!

My Week

AtlantiaI borrowed an ARC of Atlantia from a friend this week so I made sure to read that first. It isn’t really a mermaid book, but more a blend of sci-fi future with a bit of magic. I did end up enjoying it quite a bit, though I’m disappointed that it is a standalone since we didn’t get as much info and description as I would have liked.

The Terror of the Southlands I then wanted something light and fun so I read my eARC of The Terror of the Southlands. Downside of reading this electronically was that all the cute letters and newspaper articles don’t show up well on a Kindle and can’t really be zoomed in on since it was a .mobi format. I think for the third book I’ll just buy a nice hardcover so I can get the full experience hehe.

Yesterday's KinWhen I spotted Yesterday’s Kin on NetGalley I got super pumped for another Nancy Kress read and I was definitely not disappointed. Nancy Kress did a great job of a believable and biological sensical way for aliens to be able to communicate and interact with humans. If you’re looking for a fast sci-fi read, definitely check this one out next month, it’s only 200 or so pages.

The Mirror EmpireFinally, I started The Mirror Empire this week and have been reading 100 or so pages everyday since it is pretty darn intense. I have only about 20 pages left, but the boyfriend wants to watch a movie so I probably won’t be able to finish before Bout of Books is over, curses! If you are interesting in some absolutely amazing fantasy world-building, this is your book.

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