Monday, February 23, 2015

BOOK REVIEW: The Sin Eater's Daughter by Melinda Salisbury

I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss, and was SO. EXCITED. when I saw the approval! I have been dying to read this book ever since I saw the cover (holy beautiful!) and read the description (holy fascinating!). Here's the bio from Goodreads, if you were wondering:

     Seventeen-year-old Twylla lives in the castle. But although she’s engaged to the prince, Twylla isn’t exactly a member of the court.
     She’s the executioner.
     As the Goddess embodied, Twylla instantly kills anyone she touches. Each month she’s taken to the prison and forced to lay her hands on those accused of treason. No one will ever love a girl with murder in her veins. Even the prince, whose royal blood supposedly makes him immune to Twylla’s fatal touch, avoids her company.
     But then a new guard arrives, a boy whose easy smile belies his deadly swordsmanship. And unlike the others, he’s able to look past Twylla’s executioner robes and see the girl, not the Goddess. Yet Twylla’s been promised to the prince, and knows what happens to people who cross the queen.
     However, a treasonous secret is the least of Twylla’s problems. The queen has a plan to destroy her enemies, a plan that requires a stomach-churning, unthinkable sacrifice. Will Twylla do what it takes to protect her kingdom? Or will she abandon her duty in favor of a doomed love?

This book was so great. The world building was incredible, and I loved the different rituals that were woven throughout the cultural narrative. It made my anthropological heart soar. :) The writing was strong and the character--while flawed--still felt very realistic and easy to relate to. And those villains! So creepy and skin-crawly. This book would appeal to fans of Rae Carson's GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS trilogy, and well as fans of Rosamund Hodge's CRUEL BEAUTY.

I loved the twists woven throughout the book, even the ones that I saw coming (Highlight for spoilers: Like Lief! I never trusted him for a second. It was way too convenient that he showed up right as the other guard got sick... Although I didn't predict  how he got there, and was honestly a little disappointed that he wasn't as evil as I gave him credit for.) I do wish that the major plot twists had been revealed a little differently though. As it was, it felt like they were pretty much just told to Twylla. I would have liked to see a little more discovery on her own, and the fallout that comes from people not just outright telling her. That would have helped with the amount of backstory throughout the novel, too.

I loved the way the fairy tale of The Sleeping Prince was woven in. It was reminiscent of Hodge's CRUEL BEAUTY in the best way, and by the end of the novel I was desperate to reread the fairy tale and catch everything that I missed.

Needless to say, I am so excited for book two. With such deliciously evil villains and protagonists that I love to root for (and sometimes yell at), THE SIN EATER'S DAUGHTER is a must read for 2015. You can buy a copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble--it comes out TOMORROW!

*I'll be posting a brief shoutout to this book with the WordNerds this Friday, as well, and will link to that when it's up*

Friday, February 20, 2015

i am doing A THING

So I haven't officially announced this yet...but here it is! You're going to be able to buy a book THAT I WROTE PART OF. I am so excited!

We've been pretty tight-lipped on the details, only revealing small facts like the theme -- CONSTELLATIONS! -- and the genre -- YOUNG ADULT SCIENCE FICTION! -- but everything else? A mystery. But no longer!

Today, we are revealing the title of the newest anthology put out by Patchwork Press, the authors involved, the constellations the stories are inspired by, and the mythology behind each star cluster. We'll begin with the title reveal. Drumroll please...


Polaris Awakening
is the title of the newest Patchwork Press anthology! Each of the seven stories in the anthology take place aboard the space station of Polaris. The station of Polaris is the brightest star in the galaxy, with it's shining technology and renowned space academy. But not everything on Polaris is perfect -- there's a tilt of balance in social classes, and those below are beginning to awaken to the injustice of their leaders. A rebellion is thrumming through the ship, and the characters of each story all play a part in the ripple of discontent.

There are seven stories contributing to the anthology. And our authors (in order of appearance) are: Kellie Sheridan, Erin Latimer, Erica Crouch, Janna Jennings, Hannah Davies, Terra Harmony, and Meghan Jashinsky.


Kellie Sheridan's story will not only open the anthology, but it will be peppered throughout the anthology, interspersed between the other pieces. Kellie's story doesn't focus on one particular constellation or origin myth, but rather she is writing as the embodiment of Zeus (you know, Mr. Lightning Bolt, the Big Guy in the Sky). Zeus is personified as the supercomputer operating Polaris, and he's more aware than you'd expect, which could lead to some danger for our characters...


After Kellie Sheridan's introduction, we have our first full story from Erin Latimer. Erin's story centers around the constellation Ophiuchus. The constellation represents the god Apollo struggling with the huge snake that guards the Oracle of Delphi. After Apollo slew the snake, he was ordered by Zeus to host the Pythian Games as a form of penance.


Next up is Erica Crouch with her story based on the constellation Lyra. In the original myth, Orpheus -- a musician with almost supernatural talent -- falls in love with Eurydice. But their love is doomed, and Eurydice dies, stolen away to the Underworld by Hades. When Hades hears Orpheus's mournful music, he strikes a bargain: Orpheus will be returned his love if he continues playing his music. Eurydice will follow him from the Underworld, but if Orpheus doesn't trust Hades and turns around to check that Eurydice is still with him, he will lose her forever. The deal is made, and Orpheus plays his lyre, but when he walks over pine needles and can no longer hear Eurydice's footsteps, he turns around and Eurydice fades away, gone forever.


Following Erica's piece is Janna Jennings's story of the constellation Gemini. The Gemini twins, Castor and Pollux, were both born from Leda, the Queen of Sparta. Their sister is Helen of Troy and there are several myths about them, including sailing with Jason and the Argonauts to find the golden fleece and fighting in the Trojan War to bring their sister Helen home. Castor is a renowned horseman, and Pollux is a great boxer.


Then we have Hannah Davies's story, inspired by the constellation Scorpio. Scorpio has a few different mythologies to chose from, but the one Hannah chose was a story about Orion and Artemis. Orion boasted that he was the greatest hunter in all the land and could kill any animal. Artemis -- Goddess of hunting and also protector of beasts -- sent a scorpion after Orion to defeat him. The scorpion stung Orion's ankle, killing him. Zeus was impressed by the scorpion, so he made a constellation for it. In the sky, the scorpion is at the opposite side of the horizon to Orion to keep them apart.


Terra Harmony's story follows next, and she was inspired by the constellation Virgo. Persephone, beautiful daughter of Zeus and Demeter, is tricked by Hades who carries her off to the underworld to be his wife. Her mother was so upset by this, she completely neglected her duties as goddess of agriculture, and famine spread over the entire world. The solution was for Persephone should be with her mother for half the year, and go to the underworld with Hades for the other half of the year. When Persephone is gone, agriculture essentially dies until she returns again six months later.


And finally, to close the anthology we have a story from Meghan Jashinsky, based on the constellation Taurus. From the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh, the goddess Ishtar sends Taurus to kill Gilgamesh because he spurned her. In the sky, this is why the constellation Taurus seems to be facing off with Orion (who is representative of Gilgamesh).

Patchwork Press's Polaris Awakening is going to be a whirlwind of a read! With so many spectacular myths interpreted into the science fiction world by an array of talented authors -- all with strong, unique voices -- we're readying for an epic read. You can expect the cover reveal in March, and trust us, you won't want to miss it! The release day is scheduled for April 28th, one day before Patchwork Press's second birthday! So let us know...


Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Spoiler-Free Book Review: INCITE by Erica Crouch

I got a copy of INCITE (book two in the IGNITE trilogy) through NetGalley. Since I loved IGNITE (and in case you didn't know, I also love Erica Crouch, since we are fellow WordNerds!), I was so excited to get my hands on INCITE. I pretty much started reading it immediately. Here's the description from its Goodreads page, in case you are interested:

Earth is in ruins, and the war of Heaven and Hell has spilled over into the mortal world. In the frozen wasteland of the apocalypse, Azael and his band of cohorts search for Pen and Michael with orders to kill. Little does he know that his sister has incited a rebel army of her own. 

Angels and demons alike stand side by side, ready and willing to fight for a future they didn’t realize they could have. Change doesn't come easy, though. Pen is wary of joining New Genesis's revolution, but when Azael shows his hand and Pen learns all that he holds over them, she chooses to fight back, no matter the risk. She only has to survive, one hour at a time.

I loved this book! When I read IGNITE (book 1), it felt like the main focus was the romance, and Pen's development through that romance as she came to accept that maybe she didn't fit in Heaven or Hell. INCITE took a significantly darker turn, and we got to see the really twisted parts of both Heaven and Hell. This book is about Pen coming into her own, and deciding what side she will stand on in the war between Heaven and Hell--and that maybe that gray area she feels like she is in could become a lifestyle, not just something that keeps her running and hiding.

The darkness in this book was a pretty stark contrast to book one. IGNITE had some gritty elements, particularly in the beginning, but it was mostly overshadowed by the romance. In INCITE, the darkness is the driver. There are a few torture scenes that may be surprisingly grim for readers who were drawn predominantly to the romance in book one, but I personally loved it. Erica has such skill, and the way she wove in beautiful descriptions with the truly awful things going on left me wanting to read more long after I had finished the book.

Lastly, the characters. GOSH, the characters. We are introduced to several new ones, and the diversity of the series is dramatically increased. I love Kala and Ana, and can't wait for their novella! Everyone has beautiful character growth. I especially loved Azael and the inner conflict he had between desperately wanting power, while also desperately wanting Pen to want to be at his side as he succeeded. His point of view was the perfect addition to this series.

Basically, I can't wait to get my hands on the third book, INFINITE! If you haven't read IGNITE yet, you can purchase it on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo! If you have read IGNITE, then you can buy INCITE from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo, as well!