(book review) Death Sworn by Leah Cypess & Giveaways!

With everything taken from her, Ileni steps toward her death. After spending most of her 17 years obtaining the training necessary of a Renegai sorceress, she enters the Assassins’ Caves an expendable failure, spurred by the distance she put “between herself and all the people who thought she was worthless”. She was sent there by the Elders and sworn to discover why two of their own had died within the past half year. Ileni was also charged with tutoring the young assassins in magic and uncovering the truth of her predecessors all while trying to stay alive and not revealing her own powerful secret.

Along the way, she discovers truths she hadn’t even admitted to herself, finds an unlikely ally, reveals long-kept secrets more fearsome than her own, and learns that the first step toward truth is the hardest.

Character I’d most like to have coffee with: The Master, while he is ruthless and coldhearted, his ability to sort through, process, and act on information is legendary… and he always has a reason, even if at the moment it makes sense only to him.

Yes, I’d also love to ask Ileni over for some coffee and talk about her plans too, but there’s the next book for that! ;)

deathsworn-coverDeath Sworn
by Leah Cypess
Published March 2014 by Greenwillow / HarperCollins
352 pages

find your copy: GoodReads | Powells | Amazon | WorldCat

UNTIL MARCH 18 2014, this book is part of a Goodreads Giveaway! Enter for your chance to win.


A Second Giveaway! The author kindly provided me with several bookmarks to give away. Between now and midnight EST on 31 March 2014, please leave a comment and tell me which character (from any book you like) you’d to chat with over a cup of tea or coffee. Why that character?

My only requirement is that you also comment on just one other post with open comments on this site first.

Note: I moderate first time comments and will attempt to process them through promptly. I’ll use a random number generator to choose winner(s) based on the number of responses. I’ll email the winners directly on Tuesday 01 April 2014. Winners will receive at least ONE bookmark, I’m still deciding what else to include… I have a nice collection of bookmarks and other reader friendly gifts.

I received a copy of the ARC from the author as part of a blog tour. All thoughts are my own.

immerse yourself in a beautiful book

Last summer I heard about an amazing novel that a friend of friends wrote. Beautiful Wreck caused readers to stay up all night to finish. I like novels like that! The novel was a magical blend of science fiction, fantasy, time travel, Iceland, and even included Vikings. I knew I wanted to read it.

But before I tell you more, let me send you on a brief diversion. Today while I was finalizing this post, I came across an article on NPR’s website about a Sensory Fiction project out of MIT’s Media Lab. Augmented fiction that would help me to actually feel what characters feel while I’m reading? Wow. That sounds more like far science fiction. I think that would be lots of fun.

After hearing so many good things about the book, I begged the publisher, aka Shannon for an early copy in exchange for a review posted to goodreads and amazon. (disclaimer: CP is a client for other projects and publisher of a book with one of my designs. All thoughts and opinions are my own.)

After much begging on my part and promising to not fall behind in work, I received the ARC on a very good Monday mail day, and fell in love with it that weekend. As I had warning that it was a stay-up-all-night-to-finish book, I (somehow) waited until Friday night to start and then spent much of the next day finishing it. It was good. Very very good. So good I knew if I kept the ARC in the house I’d reread it immediately and that wouldn’t be good for deadlines. I asked if I could send it on to Melanie so I could have another someone to talk to it about before it was released. With a yes, I sent it on and worked while I waited to learn that she loved it too.

That book is now available for sale and there’s a very special promotion for tomorrow, Friday 07 February 2014. There are additional incentives for purchasing and even more if you post a review. You see, the author is not just an amazing writer, she’s also a very talented knitwear designer. Over the course of researching and writing this book, a pattern collection was designed. Please learn more about the promotion, purchase the book and add your review!

My initial thoughts on this book are below, but I really think Melanie’s is the review I wish I could write. I’m excited to buy a copy so I can immerse myself again in this wonderful book while the gulf between fiction and reality blurs.

Beautiful WreckBeautiful Wreck
by Larissa Brown
Published 2014 by Cooperative Trade

Without a doubt, Beautiful Wreck is one of the best novels I’ve read recently. While on the surface it could be categorized under certain genres such as fantasy and romance, it dispenses with the usual clichés associated with these classifications and tosses them away to forge a new path. We are transported from a near-future, which is enthralled by visions of the past, to the imagined past of Iceland in the year 920 which full of beauty and hope for the future.

We watch Ginn discover a reality thought unattainable and beyond her wildest dreams. She has yearned for an immersion of indistinct boundaries where she could actually experience “art, magnificent in its fervent detail”, what happens to her when the impossible arrives?

Brown’s writing describes a world that makes me wish for the tank. Ginn’s experiences draw you in from the very start without any desire to tap out, so plan ahead and clear your schedule (or prepare for a sleepless night).

some summer reading

I recently finished a few books and gathered together my thoughts to write some words about them. This grouping is of three fantasy novels and one memoir. I have a very large stack of knitting books to write up my thoughts on, I hope to get through those soon! There are many good books out there!

Alphabetical by author:

In the Body of the World: A Memoir In the Body of the World: A Memoir
by Eve Ensler
Eve Ensler best known for her play, The Vagina Monologues, has penned a very moving and at times raw memoir of her experience with uterine cancer. Ensler explains how this fast-moving and not-quite-linear memoir is similar to a CAT Scan, a roving examination. The time-out-of-place juxtaposition of presents, pasts, friends, family, despair, and hope gives the pages depth and the use of strong words are at times painful but important to read through.

(note: I received my copy of this book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.)

The Ocean at the End of the LaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane
by Neil Gaiman

I purposely kept myself in the dark about this title until I could check it out from the library and discover it for myself. My friend Beverly has written the review I would if I could properly craft the words for this wonderful short novel. It is the story of childhood imaginings told through that still-slightly frightened and unsure adult voice. Because:

Grown-ups don’t look like grown-ups on the inside either. Outside, they’re big and thoughtless and they always know what they’re doing. Inside, they look just like they always have. Like they did when they were your age. The truth is, there aren’t any grown-ups. Not one, in the whole wide world… Except for Granny, of course.

Yes. This is why Neil Gaiman’s stories are highly awarded and enjoyed.

Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #6)Hunted (The Iron Druid Chronicles #6)
by Kevin Hearne

Hearne has once again blended together enjoyable characters, modern/urban fantasy, and all the mythology references one could ever want in a fun quick read. (another reviewer calls it “kitchen-sink mythology”, I love that term!)

As with the other books in the series, I found myself trying to read faster I wanted to know what happened next to Atticus, Granuaile, and of course Oberon. I thank Heather Ordover with introducing me to this series several years ago. Please start with Hounded, but be prepared to gather up the other books in short order.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine, #1)Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs

This title came with lots of press and for some reason or another I did not rush for it, perhaps because I found the cover and a few other pictures that were publicised disturbing and worried it would be a scary book. While I’ve learned that many of the books from my childhood that I thought would give me nightmares are actually delightful (case: Dracula) and not as scary as I thought, I am still hesitant to open them, and there are so many books to read, I can’t read them all. I was looking for something short and different and decided that despite seeing poor reviews, I could give this title a chance. I agree, it’s a book with quite a bit of potential, but falls flat.

steampunk & penguins, some light reading

It’s been some time since my last what I’ve read recently post. While I spend all day immersed in words, I haven’t had much time for pleasure reading. I’ve learned to sneak in moments when I can by scattering the house with the half-finished books that gathered dust on my night stand for years.

I finally finished Fraser’s Penguins and The Difference Engine. They are two very different books and there is no reason why they gathered dust for so long. Are they perfect? No. But I am pleased to have read them.

. . .

Fraser’s Penguins is the story of the Adélie penguins, in theory. It’s really both much more and much less. I confess, I picked up this volume up based on the word “penguins” in the title. For years, I’ve been embarrassed at how little I knew about penguins, even though I’m, well, Penguin Girl. Did I learn more than I know before I started the book, yes. Is it the best book to learn about penguins? No. Through a meandering narrative, Montaigne explores the history of the Antarctic through historic expeditions and their interactions with penguins, Fraser’s modern research, and the rapid climate shift that is threatening this species and many others today. Because he worked with Fraser’s research group, we are given some insight into this scientist’s research and the conclusions he draws, but it isn’t what I expected at all before I started to read. That’s ok. I learned quite a bit about a region and a species of which I was ignorant. I cautiously recommend this title to college students wanting to understand the process of field research, though be warned I only had a two-week Latin America field-assistant gig (for psycholinguistics) and Montaigne is a journalist. I’m sure there are other titles out there that provide better introduction to what field scientists (and assistants) do both on the job and off… But I enjoyed these insights into that life. When all the disparate parts of the book are brought together, I found Montaigne does paint a picture of the rapid climate change affecting Antarctica and what that means for the Adélies, several other species, and us.
Fraser's Penguins: A Journey to the Future in AntarcticaFraser’s Penguins: A Journey to the Future in Antarctica
by Fen Montaigne
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 9th 2010 by Henry Holt and Co.
1 star for book review 1 star for book review 1 star for book review 1 star for book review no star for book review

. . .

Oh Steampunk and London there is so much I love about you. The Difference Engine is a classic steampunk novel set in Victorian England and features two names I expected to find Charles Babbage & Ada Lovelace, though there is little direct interaction with them. I often felt as if this novel was put together after a random sort to the punch cards. Because I read it off and on over the span of almost three years, I’m sure much of the plot was lost on me. But that’s ok. I enjoyed experiencing scenes of an alternate history version of Victorian England. As this book is 21 years old, there are many reviews of this now classic title out there, this review made me smile, though I’d specify the tins as in oil instead of water. Did I enjoy it? Yes, to a degree, because I’ll devour almost any book on London. Did I want to throw the book across the room several times? Yes. I read it (and finished it) because I felt it was something I needed to read to understand the steampunk that is being published today. Are you interested in Steampunk and like to knit? Needles and Artifice may be the book for you.

The Difference Engine The Difference Engine
Paperback, 429 pages
Published February 1992 by Spectra (first published 1990)

1 star for book review 1 star for book review 1 star for book review no star for book review no star for book review

. . .

Have you recently finished a book that you’d been meaning to read for a while? What book?

filling fantasy

I read, actually that’s not true, I didn’t read them. I devoured two fantasy books this past week and while they have weaknesses, I enjoyed both. I recommend them with the warning that, as of yet, sequels are not yet available. Read them at your own risk.

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle: Day One) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The first few chapters left me unsure of this book, but once I plowed past them it improved greatly. I am struggling to decide what write for a book which totally engrossed me and had me put aside things I really needed to do in order to read 300 pages last night in order to finish before I had to return it today (due to my not thinking about the due date). The Telling of the story, the character, world, and development completely engrossed me. It also reminded me of parts of my past that I had set aside and were now missing from my life. I am slowly bringing those back and the joy they bring me are priceless.

I wish I had realized that The Wise Man’s Fear, Day Two will be released in April 2009. I will wait impatiently for it’s publication.

Havemercy Havemercy by Jaida Jones

I picked this book up more because Jones is a Barnard Alumna (’08) than for any other reason.

I enjoy dragon stories, but the mechanical yet magical-ness of the dragons did not catch and hold me to this story, and thus it fails to earn it’s fifth star.

It does earn four however for the following reasons:
the pace, the language, and the relationships of the story, while not perfect, kept and held me until I had devoured this book. I thought about the world in which it was set and contemplated the “outside the scenes” actions … that sort of thing hasn’t happened for me in a while. That earned this book three stars.

The fourth was earned because I was impressed by the language choices and really enjoyed the fresh-ness of it. I’ve read plenty of “street” stories and rarely have I found a character who felt free to be him or herself and cuss and they needed to.

However, this is not the novel I thought it was and I found many failings in character (and to some degree, world) development. I was not impressed with the dragons as there wasn’t enough discussion of them. The brief descriptions of their workings felt stuck in there like a post-it and detracted because it left me daydreaming about how it could happen.

I also wonder why the women characters are portrayed as they were, though based on my Barnard experience I may (falsely) understand.

I look forward to reading more from Jones and Bennett in the future.

Please feel free to view all my reviews at goodreads.