Critical Sirens Update

Due to delays in the renovation of the Hotel Talisa in Vail, Sirens is moving to the Park Hyatt in Beaver Creek for our 2017 conference. Attendees will need to make new hotel reservations at the Park Hyatt as soon as possible. Please click here for reservations and other information about this relocation.

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Sirens Support

When we created Sirens, we created something different: something smart, something friendly, something inclusive. Something that is as much a community as it is a conference. An inviting space full of respect, brilliance, and inspiration, where people both speak and listen, and where many people now feel at home.

In order to foster that community, we include elements in Sirens such as our Thursday afternoon tea and our keynote addresses that bring all attendees together, often over a shared meal. These elements raise Sirens’s costs significantly.

Yet, despite these costs, we remain committed to keeping the price of Sirens as low as possible, so that more individuals have an opportunity to attend our conference and participate in our community. As a result, we run an unusual budget structure: the costs of presenting Sirens exceed our registration revenue by over $12,000. In fact, every time someone registers for Sirens, we lose money.

We’re asking for your help. Each year, Sirens covers that monetary gap by raising funds, in three ways, from those who can perhaps provide a bit more support. These funds go directly to covering Sirens’s costs, and are critical to our ability to continue providing registrations at lower prices so that our community can continue to flourish.

We hope that you’ll consider supporting Sirens this year in one of the following ways.

 

MONETARY DONATIONS

Each year, thousands of dollars of the costs of presenting Sirens are offset by monetary donations, in amounts ranging from $5 to $1,500. The donors are members of the Sirens community, friends and family, and even strangers who simply believe in our mission of providing a space to discuss and debate the remarkable, diverse women of fantasy literature. All monetary donations go directly toward the elements of Sirens that provide immediate value for attendees: catering, t-shirts, registration bags, audiovisual equipment, event insurance, and so forth. (In fact, it’s worth noting that Sirens does not incur many of the indirect expenses that most events incur, such as salaries or office space rental, as our staff are volunteers who not only donate their time, but also use their personal computers, cellphones, and living space to plan Sirens.)

If you’d like to make a donation, in any amount, please visit our donations page. We will acknowledge you on our website, in our program book, and at Sirens.

For those of you particularly interested in programming, very soon you will be able to sponsor individual presentations for $35, and in doing so, support and encourage particular presenters or the inclusion of particular topics on our schedule. If you’d like to sponsor a programming presentation, please visit our accepted programming page. (We expect to begin posting summaries of accepted presentations July 24!) We will acknowledge you in connection with your chosen programming presentation on our website, in our program book, and at Sirens.

For those of you particularly interested in other elements of Sirens, we’re always happy to discuss sponsorship of other programming and events. If you’re interested, please email us at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

AUCTION

The Sirens auction has become an unexpected source of significant revenue in recent years, and one that we especially love: while raising money for Sirens, we’re also providing attendees the opportunity to obtain amazing items and services. Our auction includes both a silent component, culminating at our Toil and Trouble Ball, and a live component, which provides an always-raucous element to our final breakfast.

All items in our auction are donated by individuals: Sirens staff, Sirens attendees, and other Sirens supporters. These items are frequently fun, sometimes one-of-a-kind, occasionally startling, and often a terrific deal on professional services. We’ve featured everything from unique articles such as t-shirts, pillows, journals, and jewelry; to professional services such as manuscript critiques and query letter reviews; to art pieces such as custom digital artwork, character naming rights for upcoming books, and original watercolors.

The sky’s the limit, and if you are interested in donating an item or two for our auction, please email us at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

NARRATE BOOKSTORE

A few years ago, Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting 501(c)(3) charitable organization behind Sirens, began operating the Sirens bookstore as a fundraiser. This gives us the opportunity to use the bookstore profits to support Sirens. But it also gives us the opportunity, in defiance of the commercial market, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women—books that we and the Sirens community love.

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, our community frequently donates new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers, but more often, these attendees are simply Sirens supporters who want to help make our bookstore as wonderful as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to the following address, to arrive no later than August 1, 2017. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, CO 80135

 

TAX DEDUCTIONS

Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting organization behind Sirens, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, all donations to Sirens are eligible for tax deduction in accordance with U.S. law.

 

THANK YOU

Regardless of whether you are able to provide us with additional support this year or not, and if so, regardless of the type or amount of that additional support, we thank you. This community means the world to us, and we’re both honored and humbled to say that we’re presenting our ninth year of Sirens this October.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 9, Issue 7 (June 2017)

In this issue:

 

2017 MILESTONES SO FAR

Last week, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink wrote about Sirens’s unprecedented growth, elaborated on this year’s conference theme of women who work magic, and waxed poetic on our nine-years-in-the-making community: “One that’s becoming increasingly brilliant, increasingly inclusive, increasingly confident, increasingly vocal. One that believes in itself and each of its parts. A once-a-year respite, where you can repair your armor, replenish your magic, and remember how truly remarkable the women of fantasy literature—from queens to readers—are.” Read the full post here.

 

INCLUSIVITY AT SIRENS

This month, we also kicked off an important series of posts addressing diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality at Sirens in order to highlight voices that are both vital to our community and are too often unheard. In our first post, Faye Bi shares her Sirens experience and offers some food for thought for new and returning attendees: “[Sirens] doesn’t feel like battle, when so much of my daily life does. That’s a feeling to ponder, but also one to protect.” Read the rest of her post here.

 

REGISTRATION UPDATE

At this point in time, Sirens is sold out for 2017.

To individuals who have submitted programming proposals, a reminder that you have until July 9, 2017, to register and be paid in full for this year’s conference, after which the registration that we are holding for you will be made available to the public.

We’ll continue to post updates on registration availability on this blog, on our Twitter, and on our Facebook page. If you are still seeking a registration, we recommend that you check back on July 10. Please also watch our Twitter for announcements of any individuals seeking to sell their registrations.

 

PROGRAMMING

After the presenter registration deadline of July 9, we’ll be revealing this year’s presentations in small batches on this blog and on the Accepted Programming page! If you proposed programming and missed the email with the result of your proposal, please email (programming at sirensconference.org) right away. Thank you again to everyone who proposed programming this year!

 

HOTEL

This year, we have already had to ask the Hotel Talisa to make additional rooms available at the discounted Sirens rate twice! We are pleased to report that, as of last Monday, there are again discounted rooms in our block—but we strongly recommend that you book yours as soon as possible. You can find reservations information here.

 

ATTENDING AUTHORS

If you are a published author attending Sirens this year, let us know! We’d like to make sure we have your books available in our bookstore—and if you’d like, a place for you in our author signings. Please email Amy at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org).

 

BOOKSTORE DONATIONS

Speaking of our bookstore, a few years ago, we began operating our own bookstore as a fundraiser for Sirens. This gives us the opportunity, in many ways in defiance of the commercial market, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women.

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, the Sirens community frequently donates new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers or are donating books that they’ve written, but often, these attendees simply want to help make our bookstore as amazing as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to the following address, to arrive no later than August 1, 2017. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST

Sirens veterans know that we select a variety of popular, controversial, and just plain brilliant books related to our theme—and invite attendees to bring their breakfast on Friday and Saturday mornings of the conference to discuss. Here are this year’s selections:

Friday, October 27

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
This Strange Way of Dying by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Saturday, October 28

A Feast of Sorrows by Angela Slatter
Bayou Magic by Jewell Parker Rhodes
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
The Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
Silver on the Road by Laura Anne Gilman

For 2017, we’re spotlighting three books per month, so you can plan your reading and join us! Check out our post on The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Slice of Cherry, and The Land of Love and Dreaming here.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

Sister Mine

For June, Sirens co-founder Amy Tenbrink read Nalo Hopkinson’s Sister Mine. Read her review, coming out later this week, over on the blog and on Goodreads.

 

READ ALONG WITH FAYE

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

This month, Faye read Emily Croy Barker’s The Thinking Woman’s Guide to Real Magic in pursuit of the 2017 Reading Challenge, which she recommends for readers who “like reluctant heroines…[and] can stomach unlikable protagonists.” Check out her review on the blog and on Goodreads.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…


Interesting Links

 


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

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Sirens Support

When we created Sirens, we created something different: something smart, something friendly, something communal. A place where people feel welcome to both speak and listen, where people respect others and their differing opinions, and that, to many people, now feels like home.

In order to foster that community, we include elements in Sirens, such as our Thursday afternoon tea and our keynote addresses, that bring all attendees together. Those elements raise the cost of presenting Sirens significantly, and challenge our commitment to keeping the cost of attendance as low as possible for all attendees. As a result, we run an unusual budget structure: the costs of presenting Sirens far exceed our registration revenue.

We’d like to talk for a moment about how Sirens makes up that gap, and how you can help. Each year, Sirens raises in excess of $10,000 in monetary donations, auction proceeds, and bookstore revenue. Each of those is vital to the continued success—and availability—of Sirens, and each of those depends on the support of the Sirens community. We hope that you’ll consider supporting Sirens this year in one of the following ways.

 

Monetary Donations

Each year, thousands of dollars of the costs of presenting Sirens are offset by monetary donations—and it’s worth noting that none of our staff receive a dime (or a free registration or hotel room) in exchange for their work on Sirens. All monetary donations go straight toward the elements of Sirens that provide immediate value for attendees: catering, t-shirts, registration bags, audiovisual equipment, dance floor rental, and so forth.

We are always thrilled to take donations in any amount. Many of our monetary donations come in from our staff, but we also receive donations from attendees, friends and family of attendees, and from strangers who believe in our mission of supporting the remarkable women of fantasy literature. For those of you particularly interested in programming, you can sponsor individual presentations, and in doing so, support particular presenters or the inclusion of particular topics. For those of you particularly interested in other elements of Sirens, we’re always happy to discuss sponsorship of other programming and events.

If you’d like to make a donation, please visit our donations page.

If you’d like to sponsor a programming presentation, please visit our accepted programming page.

If you’d like to discuss a different sponsorship or donation, please email us at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

Auction

Quilt-NoSignatures AuctionPile-3

The Sirens auction has become an unexpected source of a significant amount of revenue in recent years, and one that we especially love: while raising money for Sirens, we’re also providing attendees the opportunity to obtain amazing items and services. Our auction includes both a silent component, culminating at our Insurgents’ Ball, and a live component, which provides an always-raucous element to our final breakfast.

All items in our auction are donated by individuals: Sirens staff, Sirens attendees, and other Sirens supporters. These items are frequently fun, sometimes one-of-a-kind, occasionally startling, and often a terrific deal on professional services. We’ve featured everything from unique articles such as t-shirts, pillows, journals, and jewelry; to professional services such as manuscript editorial letters to synopsis drafting; to art pieces such as custom digital artwork, character naming rights for upcoming books, and original watercolors. The sky’s the limit, and if you are interested in donating an item or two for our auction, please email us at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

Narrate Bookstore

BookstoreThursNight-5 BookstoreThursNight-1

A few years ago, Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting 501(c)(3) charitable organization behind Sirens, began operating the Sirens bookstore as a fundraiser. This gives us the opportunity, in many ways in defiance of the commercial market, to stock our bookstore exclusively with fantasy books written by, or featuring, amazing women. But more than that, this gives us the opportunity to fill a bookstore with books that we—and the Sirens community—love.

In many ways, our bookstore operates like any other bookstore: we acquire new books for sale just like anyone else. But in two ways, our bookstore is different. First, we frequently have attendees donate new books, just to make sure that the bookstore includes them in its inventory; sometimes these attendees work for publishers, but more often, these attendees are simply Sirens supporters who want to make our bookstore as amazing as possible. Second, we have a used section of our bookstore where we offer gently used fantasy books for $5 each. That section of our bookstore is stocked entirely through donations.

If you would like to donate books to our bookstore, please send your books to this address, to arrive no later than September 19, 2015. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, CO 80135

 

Tax Deductions

Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting organization behind Sirens, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, all donations to Sirens are eligible for tax deduction in accordance with U.S. law.

Regardless of whether you are able to support us financially or with in-kind donations or not, and if you do donate, regardless of the type or amount of your donation, we thank you for your support of Sirens. This community means the world to us, and we’re both honored and humbled to say that we’re presenting our seventh year of Sirens less than two months from now.

 

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Sirens Auction and Bookstore

At Sirens, we’re committed to keeping the cost of attendance as low as possible for all attendees. Because of that commitment, we run an unusual budget structure: the costs of presenting Sirens far exceed our registration revenue.

Each year, exceptionally kind individuals, many of them on our staff, cover approximately half that gap through thousands of dollars in donations. And each year the Sirens auction and bookstore raise thousands more dollars to cover the rest of that gap. In other words, our donors’ generosity, and our auction and bookstore, are necessary to making Sirens, a space that discusses and celebrates the remarkable women of fantasy literature, real.

And you can help.

 

Auction

Our auction includes both a silent component, during our Insurgents Ball, and a live component, during our final breakfast. The items, all donations from wonderful individuals, have ranged from unique articles such as t-shirts, pillows, journals, and jewelry; to professional services such as manuscript editorial letters to synopsis drafting; to art pieces such as custom digital artwork, character naming rights for upcoming books, and original watercolors. The sky’s the limit, and if you are interested in donating an item or two for our auction, please email us at (donate at sirensconference.org).

Quilt-NoSignatures AuctionPile-3
 

Bookstore

Once a year, we dig through our bookshelves, inquire of our friends, and stock a bookstore full of (almost) entirely fantasy works written by women. While we select much of our new inventory, friends of Sirens have been known to send us new books that they want to make sure we have for sale. Our bookstore also contains a used section, where every book is only $5, and that section is stocked with donations of gently used books. If you would like to donate fantasy books by or featuring remarkable women, whether new or used, please send them to us at the following address, so that they arrive no later than September 19, 2015. (And remember, if you’re shipping only books, the USPS media mail option is terrifically cheap, but terrifically slow, so please leave time for your package to arrive.)

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, CO 80135

BookstoreThursNight-5 BookstoreThursNight-1
 

Monetary Donations

We are always delighted to accept monetary donations as they defray thousands of dollars of Sirens’s costs each year. You can donate here. In July, after our programming is finalized, you’ll also have the option of sponsoring a programming topic that inspires your fancy and show your support for presenters.

 

Tax Deductions

Narrate Conferences, Inc., the presenting organization behind Sirens, is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Therefore, all donations to Sirens are eligible for tax deduction in accordance with U.S. law.

 

To everyone who donates to Sirens—whether cash, auction items, books, or time—we thank you.

You are the fairy godmothers who make Sirens possible.

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 8 (June 2015)

In this issue:

 

SIRENS SCHOLARSHIPS AND DEADLINES
This year, because of the generosity of the Sirens community, we are pleased to offer scholarships in three categories: via Con or Bust, for programming proposal merit, and for people with financial hardships. Each scholarship includes both a Sirens registration and a Sirens Shuttle ticket. Con or Bust is coordinating the first set of scholarships (and two were claimed at the time of this writing), and to be eligible for a programming merit scholarships, presenters opted in during the submissions process. Sirens is taking financial hardships scholarships applications until June 15, 2015. If you need assistance, we hope you’ll consider applying for a scholarship.

 

PROGRAMMING DECISIONS ARE COMING!
Notices regarding programming proposals will be sent no later than June 8, 2015 (and you should expect them close to or on that date, rather than sooner). Please note, however, that if we’re still tracking down your co-presenters, a decision may be delayed. Thank you in advance for making sure that all proposal collaborators have checked in! We’ll be sending programming scholarships decisions with the decisions on proposals. The vetting board and the scholarships committee both thank you for your participation, and are giving thoughtful consideration to your proposals.

 

REGISTRATION PRICE INCREASE AND PRESENTER REGISTRATION DEADLINE
The last day to register for Sirens for $195 is July 7; the price increases to $205 on July 8. July 7 is also the deadline to register for presenters; if you’re a presenter and need an extra day or two to register and pay, be sure to coordinate with (programming at sirensconference.org) so that your accepted presentation is not dropped from the schedule.

 

SIRENS STUDIO
For the first time, Sirens is delighted to offer a pre-conference option for readers, writers, scholars, and professionals! The Sirens Studio will start Tuesday morning and feature two days of workshop intensives, discussion, networking opportunities, and flexible time for you to use however you wish. Check out the schedule, workshops, and faculty here.

 

SIRENS SUPPER
If you’ll be in Denver on the evening of October 7, 2015, perhaps you’d like to join us for the Sirens Supper. Each year, our conference staff hosts a dinner for a limited number of attendees and friends, where we get to know each other before Sirens starts, and you’re welcome to come. The menu: petite greens with jicama, orange segments, cilantro-lime dressing and cornbread croutons; local corn and roasted poblano chili chowder; a medley of fresh, seasonal vegetables; black bean rice pilaf; fresh baked rolls and butter; baked salmon with Yucatan spices and coconut; cane sugar-rubbed roasted pork loin with Creole mustard sauce; quinoa-stuffed eggplant with roasted pepper marinara; margarita cheesecake; fruit empanadas; and coffee and hot tea. Tickets are $60, and those who also register for the Sirens Studio get $10 off the dinner price.

 

SIRENS SHUTTLE
Ground transportation in Denver is expensive, and Denver’s public transportation isn’t what it could be. In addition, the Inverness Hotel, the location for Sirens, is out of the way. Sirens offers discounted group transportation so that you can ride to and from Denver International Airport. We’ll pick you up and return you to the airport for $60, less than other vendors want for a one-way trip. You can add tickets for yourself or friends on a new registration or to an existing registration. Get more information and the Sirens Shuttle schedule here.

 

AUCTION AND BOOKSTORE DONATIONS
Each year, Sirens covers thousands of dollars in operating expenses with the proceeds from our conference auction and bookstore. While the bookstore does purchase its new inventory, Sirens attendees and supporters always generously donate both auction items and used fantasy books in order to help us raise these necessary funds. Auction items can—and have been—everything from custom artwork to professional services, advanced reader copies of fantasy books to t-shirts, pillows, and journals. Anything that might interest fantasy readers, writers, or professionals is welcome. Similarly, we accept gently used fantasy books by female authors or featuring complex female protagonists for the used section of the bookstore. If you are interested in donating an auction item, please email Amy Tenbrink at (donate at sirensconference.org) to let her know that you’ll be supporting our auction; if you are donating used books, please send them so they reach us at the following address no later than September 19, 2015 (and you can use media mail!):

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

Thank you for your support!

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

TheMirrorEmpire

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. June’s book is The Mirror Empire (Worldbreaker Saga #1) by Kameron Hurley. Join the discussion here on Goodreads, starting on Saturday, June 6.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

We are saddened to hear of the passing of Tanith Lee (1945–2015)

Fairy tales, fantasy and dangerous female desire: Celebrating Angela Carter, the literary link between Bros. Grimm and ‘50 Shades’”

Subversive Pleasure”: On Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber

5 Black Women Authors Everyone Should Be Reading”

Dear Marvel and Sony: We Love Movies for Their Kick-Ass Female Heroes, Too, You Jerks”

Feminist Thor Selling Way More Comic Books Than Dude Thor”

2015 Locus Awards Finalists

2014 Shirley Jackson Awards Nominees

The 2015 Norton Award jury has convened and seeks entries; young adult and middle grade books with speculative content published in 2015 are eligible

Lumberjanes optioned for a live action movie

 

Recent Releases:
This month, we’re changing how we tell you about recent releases. In July’s newsletter, we’ll give you the June roundup. We love to hear about new books, whether yours or those you’re anticipating; please send the details to (help at sirensconference.org).

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
We’d love a few more volunteers to supply us with short reviews of works they have read and loved. If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, we would be pleased to have your recommendation for the Sirens newsletter.

Review squad volunteering is flexible; we simply ask that you share information about books you’ve enjoyed. (We are, of course, especially interested in fantasy books by and about women, and we hope you’ll consider interesting, diverse selections.) You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you. Please visit the volunteer system and, when we ask you what position you’re interested in, type in “Book Reviewer.”

 

This month, 2009 Sirens Guest of Honor Sherwood Smith offers us a look at two recent releases.

Crimson Bound, Rosamund Hodge
Uprooted, Naomi Novik

Some twenty, twenty-five years ago, I recollect a lot of scorn poured on the pastoral fantasy. Which is fine—no every subgenre pleases every reader, blah blah—but (as people will) the pastoral novel was derided as being not only twee but backward-looking, especially compared to the Cool New Cyberpunk, which was all about the edge of the future.

Of course there were readers who cheerfully admitted to liking both. I remember rolling my eyes and bailing discussions as soon as they devolved into if-this-is-good-that-has-to-be-bad. Especially when “pastoral” was narrowly defined as twee stories about sweetly eccentric English hedge witches and revampings of Beatrix Potter. (To which I once responded, have you actually reread Beatrix Potter recently? Or the poetry of William Blake?)

Anyway, for whatever reasons, pastoral fantasies largely went out of fashion, at least I hadn’t seen any until this month when two came out within days of each other. They contained a lot of similar elements, they were not set in an idyllic England, and they are very, very not twee.

These are Crimson Bound, by Rosamund Hodge, and Uprooted by Naomi Novik.

Before I talk about them, I want to address what I think pastoral fantasy is. This is an old form that resurfaces every few generations, in art, poetry, and fairy tales. It’s not always twee or cute, though there is an emphasis on natural beauties. But pastoral fantasy can explore beauty that is dangerous, inspiring but unsettling, powerful and even subversive because it has not been neatly clipped into box hedges, cemented over, and civilized into an urban pretense of order.

CrimsonBoundPastoral fantasy is not grimdark, which emphasizes the ugly and grinds down the dispossessed; it permits the tangle of the forest to get its roots and leaves into the urban walls and streets. Pastoral fantasy can be dark and dangerous but also full of beauty, hope, and tenderness: you can die in the same wilderness you go to experience peace, beauty, and calm. Alone in nature, you become aware that you are not the most powerful force there.

I think that that is the most important distinction of pastoral fantasy: that humans are not the most powerful force.

Neither of these two new novels takes place in fantasy England: Uprooted is set in a semblance of eastern Europe, and Crimson Bound in a fairy tale France circa the seventeenth century—which was a time of dynamic change.

In both, the woods play a fundamental role—a threatening, dangerous, horrific role. Some of the most evocative writing in both books is about the forest and its dangerous nature.

From Crimson Bound:

Erec led them through the Chateau, and it was almost the forest. Bleeding through the marble hallways, Rachelle saw labyrinthine paths between trees whose branches wove together overhead until they seemed like a single plant.

Birds called with warbling, half-human voices. The wind dug its fingers into her hair, burned at her eyes.

From Uprooted:

There was a falling tree stretching across the space, a giant, its trunk taller across than I was. Its fall had opened up this clearing, and in the middle of it, a new tree had sprung up to take its place.

But not the same kind of tree. All the other trees I’d seen in the Wood had been familiar kinds, despite their stained bark and the twisted unnatural angles of their branches: oaks and black birch, and tall pines. But this was no kind of tree I had ever seen.

It was already larger around than the circle my arms could make, even though the giant tree couldn’t have fallen very long ago. It had smooth gray bark over a strangely knotted trunk, with long branches in even circles around it, starting high up the trunk like a larch. its branches weren’t bare with winter, but carried a host of dried-up silvery leaves that rustled in the wind, a noise that seem to come from somewhere else, as though there were people just out of sight speak softly together.

I’d say both books are New Adult or above; both are centered around seventeen-year-old girls who gain terrific powers, tackle adult relationships, and fight their way against terrible odds. Uprooted is pastoral fantasy but also horror, and Crimson Bound, while not horror, is more of a dark fantasy; while it doesn’t have the Die Hard body count of Uprooted, it is no slouch in dealing with duels and death.

UprootedAnd in both the woods are compellingly dangerous.

In spite of these similar elements, they are very different books. To read one is not at all to have read the other. I talk about them more specifically on Goodreads here and here; though they head in different directions (and I’m not getting more specific lest I tread into spoiler territory), there is one important element they share: their exploration of female emotional growth, and agency.

These heroines are not looking backward, nor are the thematic elements of their stories. They are playing out, in entertaining format, what life will be like for young women moving into positions of authority. That includes the cost of moral and ethical choices, and the inexorable ramifications of decisions made when you have the power to effect others’ lives.

Both are immersive, compelling reads, and in spite of the retro-fantasy setting, have a great deal to say about issues right now. –Sherwood Smith


Questions? Concerns? Please email general queries to (help at sirensconference.org) and questions about programming to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Travel Edition (October 2014)

In this issue:

 

CHECK-IN AT SIRENS
Our Registration Desk will open at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 16. We’ll be located in the Baker room in the conference center at Skamania Lodge. To pick up your registration, please bring photo identification and a copy of your registration confirmation.

The official check-in time at Skamania Lodge is 4:00 p.m. If you arrive earlier and you wish to store your luggage, please talk to the hotel’s front desk.

The Narrate Conferences bookstore will be located in Baker. In the Rainier room, afternoon tea will be available beginning at 3:00 p.m. and evening appetizers at 5:00, and we’ll also host fantasy games, meet-ups, and space to chat.

If you’re arriving early and would like to meet others for lunch, please stop by the Cascade Dining Room at noon on Thursday, October 16. If you’d like to meet others for dinner, either in Skamania Lodge or in nearby Stevenson, please stop by Rainier at 5:00 p.m. on October 16. Even if you aren’t looking for company, if you’d like recommendations on places to eat, we’re happy to oblige.

If you’re attending the Sirens Supper on Wednesday, October 15, you should have received information via email; if you did not, please write to (help at sirensconference.org).

 

CONTACTING US DURING SIRENS
Many of our staff will be traveling to Stevenson as early as Friday, October 10, to prepare for Sirens. While we are in transit and when we’re on site unpacking and setting things up for the conference, we will not be able to monitor our emails as closely as we do at other times. If you have an urgent inquiry during this time, please send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we will get back to you as quickly as possible.

During the conference, the best way to contact us is in person! If you have any questions or would simply like to chat, please stop by our information desk in Skamania Lodge’s Baker room starting at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 16.

 

SIRENS SHUTTLE MEET-UPS
Does your flight arrive early on Wednesday or Thursday, or are you driving to Portland International Airport (PDX) and meeting the shuttle there? There will be meet-ups for attendees at PDX on Wednesday, October 15, and Thursday, October 16, for anyone arriving early who’d like to connect with other attendees. Once you have claimed your bags, please feel free to join us as we gather for a little conversation and perhaps a bite to eat before it’s time to board the Sirens Shuttle. There is no host for these meetups, and lunch is on your own.

Location: Beaches Restaurant and Bar, outside the security checkpoint for Concourses D and E at Portland International Airport
Time: Noon and later

Sirens Shuttle check-in point, both Wednesday and Thursday:
Seating area near Baggage Claim 2/Southwest Airlines baggage assistance desk/TriMet MAX light rail exit from the airport
Time: Please gather by 3:00 p.m. to ride the Sirens Shuttle.

 

REGISTERING AT SIRENS
We have very few on-site registrations available, and those will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Thursday, October 16, when the information desk opens at 3:00 p.m. If you have been thinking about coming and don’t yet have a registration, you might check the message boards; there may be a few for sale by people who can’t make it this year.

 

VOLUNTEERING DURING SIRENS
We still have many openings for volunteers, and we’d love to have your help! The shifts are usually no more than an hour or two long. We’re always in need of room monitors, who typically stay in the room during presentations, help the presenters get situated, and keep things running on time.

If you’re interested or would like more information, please take a look at the schedule on our Volunteer page and email us at (volunteers2014 at sirensconference.org) with your top three shift choices and the number of shifts for which you’d like to volunteer. Thank you in advance!

 

BOOKSTORE
Thank you to everyone who has donated books! We really appreciate your support for our mission, and we hope you’ll stop by during Sirens to browse and maybe find a new (or new-to-you) book to add to your collection. We will also continue to accept donations on site; if you have a moment, please contact Amy Tenbrink at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org) with what you plan to donate. If you’re planning to shop, we’ll have books by the guests of honor, from the Books and Breakfast list, and by attending authors, as well as a selection of other really good reads.

 

AUCTION
Do you have an item to donate for this year’s auction? Please let us know by the end of the day on Thursday, October 16. All sorts of items are welcome! If you’d like to donate an item or you have questions, please email Amy Tenbrink at (amy.tenbrink at sirensconference.org). She’d love to hear what you’re planning and address any concerns you might have. Thank you in advance for your support!

 

TRAVEL TIPS
Packing and Weather
October in the Pacific Northwest generally ranges from the upper 40s to low 60s Fahrenheit (about 7–17 Celsius), and there is always a chance of rain. Be sure to pack comfortable, casual layers to make the transition between indoors and outdoors—and the temperature that you prefer in your room and the temperature of the conference space—more comfortable. Sturdy closed-toe walking shoes are recommended, as is a raincoat or umbrella. For more packing tips, please check out the Travel page of our website.

Driving Directions
Directions for those driving to Skamania Lodge from the north, south, or east can be found on our website.

Where to Eat in Stevenson
Skamania Lodge has two restaurants on site, both featuring locally sourced regional cuisine. River Rock, the bar and restaurant next to the lobby, is the more informal of the two and typically has slightly lower prices. The Cascade Dining Room, which is farther down the hallway past River Rock, is more formal and has fantastic views of the Columbia River. On Sunday mornings, the Cascade Dining Room hosts a champagne brunch, which might make a nice splurge if you’re leaving late; be sure to make reservations in advance. The hotel gift shop has snacks and grab-and-go items. The lobby offers free tea, coffee, and cocoa in the mornings. Room service is available from 7:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m. The hotel will also offer grab-and-go options like juice and pastries in the Conference Center Lobby if you need a breakfast to bring to Books and Breakfast.

If you’d prefer to have a meal outside the hotel, the official Stevenson website offers a listing of area restaurants on their Dining page, and you can check the last pages of your program book for our list of nearby eateries. Please note that the hotel does not provide shuttle service to Stevenson.

 

TWITTER SCHEDULE
Beginning on Thursday, October 15, we will be posting the conference schedule on our Twitter. If you prefer not to receive these reminders, you may want to mute or unfollow @sirens_con until Monday, October 20. (The schedule will not be posted on Facebook, though a few highlights might be.)


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 10 (September 2014)

In this issue:

 

REGISTRATION DEADLINES
Sirens is just over a month away! If you haven’t purchased your registration yet, or your Sirens Shuttle or Sirens Supper ticket, please make sure to do so before September 13. All payments for registrations and tickets are due no later than September 20, 2014. If you have any questions, please contact us at (registration at sirensconference.org).

Please keep an eye on your inbox to find out where to check in for the Sirens Shuttle, where to find the Sirens Supper, and how to pick up your registration materials when you arrive at Skamania Lodge. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

 

HOTEL RESERVATIONS
If you haven’t yet made your hotel reservation, please do so as soon as possible. Skamania Lodge is a resort, and so some reservation and guarantee policies are different than standard hotel policies, including a requirement to reserve rooms well in advance. Please see the hotel page on our website for more details. Hotel reservations must be made no later than September 25, 2014. Please expect other groups to be in the hotel, and know that there may not be rooms available at the last minute; Skamania was sold out for the Friday and Saturday nights of Sirens last year. If you find you have questions during your reservation process, or you have concerns that we need Skamania to address, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org); we are often able to assist, including helping to communicate with the hotel.

If you’d like a roommate (or two or three), please check out our Facebook page and website message boards, where there is at least one person in need of a roommate!

 

PROGRAMMING
Check it out: we’ve posted the conference schedule for October 16–19. Pre-planners, please feel free to download and highlight your copies—though, as always, if your first-choice presentation is at capacity, know that there are great alternatives. Roundtable discussions and workshops, particularly, can fill up quickly. If we scheduled just one presentation during a time slot, we’ve made sure that all attendees will be able to find a seat.

Speaking of programming, Erynn Kerwin has been accepted to present “Graphic Fantasy Femme Fair,” an interactive offering for sharing comics and other graphics-oriented work. If you would like to share your collection during the presentation, please contact Erynn through her sign-up form.

Thank you to Nancy Werlin and Margaret Johnston for sponsoring programming presentations!

 

NARRATE BOOKSTORE AT SIRENS
Narrate Conferences, Sirens’s 501(c)(3) presenting organization, will again be running a bookstore during Sirens this year. It’s a great fundraiser that helps Sirens continue, and it means that we get to share a great selection of books by and about women in fantasy.

The bookstore will feature new books, of course, as well as an always interesting array of used books (each of which will cost only $5!). We do stock our own inventory of new books, but we’ve found over the last couple years that people sometimes donate new books they want to make sure are on our shelves for others—and our used section is stocked entirely by attendees, friends, and families. We hope you’ll stop by during Sirens to see what we have available.

We hope that you’ll consider donating new or gently used books, both for the support it provides Sirens and also because our attendees are always great next readers. If you’d like to donate books, please send them to us at:

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

The last day we can visit the box before Sirens is September 19, so please be sure to ship books in plenty of time. If you use the US Postal Service and ship only books, you should be eligible for media mail rates.

 

AUTHOR SIGNINGS
Sirens hosts time for author signings on Friday and Saturday during the conference. If you are a published author attending Sirens and you’d like to participate in our author signings, please email us at (help at sirensconference.org) as soon as possible, preferably by September 19. We’d love to have you join us, whether to sign your latest work or just chat with readers and new friends.

 

SUPPORTING REGISTRATIONS
If you can’t make it this year, we will miss you, and we hope that you’ll please consider purchasing a supporting registration. This helps us present Sirens this year and offer Sirens in future years, and you’ll receive a 2014 program book following the conference. Supporting registrations cost $50; $35 of each supporting registration is a donation to Sirens, and because Narrate Conferences, Inc. is a charitable organization, that amount is eligible for tax deduction in the United States. (The other $15 covers the cost of the program book and our mailing costs.)

 

VOLUNTEERING AT SIRENS
Would you like to help out during Sirens? Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but most are fairly short and low-key, and you’re always able to ask a staff member for assistance if you encounter a problem. Most volunteer shifts are during programming and allow you to attend presentations; you might help people find seats, turn microphones on or off, give presenters their five-minute warnings that time is up, and gather lost and found items. See the volunteers page on our website for more details. If you’re a returning volunteer, you don’t need to fill out the form—just keep an eye out for email from the Google Group. We’ll be sending information about available volunteer shifts to group members. Many thanks in advance!

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
One of Sirens’s chairs, Amy Tenbrink, is reading “hauntings and the haunted” books in preparation for October. Since she keeps talking to us about them, we thought she should talk to you, too! If you’d like to read along, there are already discussions up on the Sirens Goodreads Group for Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García, Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, and The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. We’ll close out this year with October’s pick, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, if you’d like to read ahead.

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Don’t forget that Books and Breakfast will be held on Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18. For those of you who are new to Sirens, this is where we invite you to bring your own breakfast and join us for informal chats about books before presentations begin in the morning. It’s perfectly okay to join in Books and Breakfast if you haven’t read any of the books, but if you’d like to come prepared, the schedule is listed below. Conference volunteers will be waiting to welcome you to their tables!

This year, our reading list includes tales of hauntings and the haunted. Some of them are new, some of them were game-changing or controversial, and some we just loved and wanted to share.

Friday, October 17, 2014
The Demon Catchers of Milan, Kat Beyer
The Diviners, Libba Bray
The Red Tree, Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Frangipani Hotel, Violet Kupersmith
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol
Comfort Woman, Nora Okja Keller
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
My Real Children, Jo Walton

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…
Sirens! This month, we’re going to send out a special newsletter edition with September book releases (and some lovely new things we missed in our August newsletter) and any breaking news later in the month. Of course, we always welcome links and book news at (help at sirensconference.org).

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
The review squad is on vacation for September and October, but they’re already planning what to read this autumn and will be back in November.


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 9 (August 2014)

In this issue:

 

REGISTRATION DEADLINES
Sirens is just over two months away! If you haven’t purchased your registration yet, or your Sirens Shuttle or Sirens Supper ticket, please make sure to do so before registration closes on September 13. All payments for registrations and tickets are due no later than September 20, 2014. If you have any questions, please contact us at (registration at sirensconference.org).

 

HOTEL RESERVATIONS
If you haven’t yet made your hotel reservation, please do so as soon as possible. Skamania Lodge is a resort, and so some reservation and guarantee policies are different than standard hotel policies, including a requirement to reserve rooms well in advance. Please see the hotel page on our website for more details. Hotel reservations must be made no later than September 25, 2014. If you find you have questions during your reservation process, or you have concerns that we need Skamania to address, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org); we are often able to assist, including communicating with the hotel.

If you’d like a roommate (or two or three), please check out our Facebook page and website message boards, where there is at least one person in need of a roommate!

 

PROGRAMMING UPDATES AND SPONSORSHIPS
We’ve posted some of the presentations offered up by Sirens attendees on the accepted programming page, with more to come as we finalize details, verify presenters, and tidy up the descriptions. If you see one you love, consider sponsoring the presentation under your name or on behalf of a group! Presentation sponsorships cost only $35, and the proceeds go entirely to Sirens 2014 expenses. We appreciate your donations, and if you sponsor a presentation by September 1, we’ll be able to list your donation not just on the website, but in the printed program book that all attendees receive.

A schedule for the weekend will be posted soon; please keep an eye out on Twitter and Facebook for an announcement later this month.

Speaking of programming, Erynn Kerwin has been accepted to present “Graphic Fantasy Femme Fair,” an interactive offering for sharing comics and other graphics-oriented work. If you would like to share your collection during the presentation, please contact Erynn through her sign-up form.

 

NARRATE BOOKSTORE AT SIRENS
Narrate Conferences, Sirens’s 501(c)(3) presenting organization, will again be running a bookstore during the conference in 2014. It’s a great fundraiser that helps Sirens continue, and it means that we get to share a great selection of books by and about women in fantasy.

We will have new books, of course, but a fun part of the bookstore is our used section. Readers can pick up copies of older (and perhaps out of print) books, or try new-to-them authors. Our attendees, our friends, our families, and sometimes people we don’t even know send us fantasy books by or about women, and each of these books will cost our attendees only $5, with the proceeds going toward the conference.

We hope you’ll consider donating your gently used books, both for the support it provides Sirens and also because our attendees are always great next readers. (We also take new books, if you’d like to augment our bookstore with some of our favorites, as donors have done in the past.) If you’d like to send books—new or used—please send them to us at:

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

The last day we can visit the box before Sirens is September 19, so please be sure to ship books in plenty of time. If you use the US Postal Service and ship only books, you should be eligible for media mail rates.

 

AUTHOR SIGNINGS
Sirens hosts time for author signings on Friday and Saturday during the conference. If you are a published author attending Sirens and you’d like to participate in our author signings, please email us at (help at sirensconference.org) as soon as possible. We’d love to have you join us.

 

SIRENS AUCTION
Each year, a significant amount of our Sirens expenses are funded through our auction of always interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes important items during the conference. In the past, we have auctioned off everything from reader kits to first editions, from editorial development letters to custom artwork. All of our auction items come from friends and attendees of Sirens, and if you’d like to donate an item or two, please contact Amy at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

VOLUNTEERING AT SIRENS
Would you like to help out during Sirens? Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but most are fairly short and low-key, and you’re always able to ask a staff member for assistance if you encounter a problem. Most volunteer shifts are during programming and allow you to attend presentations; you might help people find seats, turn microphones on or off, give presenters their five-minute warnings that time is up, and gather lost and found items. See the volunteers page on our website for more details. If you’re a returning volunteer, you don’t need to fill out the form—just keep an eye out for email from the Google Group. We’ll be sending information about available volunteer shifts to group members. Many thanks in advance!

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

New and Recent Releases:

August2014Collage
Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

 

Prisoner, Lia Silver (June 29)
Night’s End (Indigo Court), Yasmine Galenorn (July 1)
Alias Hook, Lisa Jensen (July 8)
The Shadow’s Curse, Amy McCulloch (July 8)
Dissonance, Erica O’Rourke (July 22)
The Time of the Fireflies, Kimberley Griffiths Little (July 29)
Smiler’s Fair, Rebecca Levene (July 29)

Crushed, Eliza Crewe (August 5)
Dust and Light, Carol Berg (August 5)
Evil Fairies Love Hair, Mary G. Thompson (August 5)
Gates of Thread and Stone, Lori M. Lee (August 5)
The Girl from the Well, Rin Chupeco (August 5)
Greta and the Glass Kingdom (Mylena Chronicles #2), Chloe Jacobs (August 5)
The Guild of Assassins (Majat Code #2), Anna Kashina (August 5)
Jim Henson’s Enchanted Sisters: Autumn’s Secret Gift, Elise Allen and Halle Stanford, ill. Paige Pooler (August 5)
The House of the Four Winds, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (August 5)
Mortal Danger, Ann Aguirre (August 5)
Of Metal and Wishes, Sarah Fine (August 5)
Revenant (Greywalker #9), Kat Richardson (August 5)
Servants of the Storm, Delilah S. Dawson (August 5)
The Wandering Dragon (Children of the Dragon Nimbus #3), Irene Radford (August 5)

Black Ice (Midgard #2), Susan Krinard (August 12)
Cursed Moon (The Prospero’s War #2), Jaye Wells (August 12)
Heiresses of Russ 2014: The Year’s Best Lesbian Speculative Fiction, Melissa Scott and Steve Berman, eds. (August 12)

Between the Spark and the Burn, April Genevieve Tucholke (August 14)
Fiendish, Brenna Yovanoff (August 14)
Fool’s Assassin, Robin Hobb (August 14)
The Only Thing Worse Than Witches, Lauren Magaziner (August 14)
Sisters’ Fate (The Cahill Witch Chronicles #3), Jessica Spotswood (August 14)

The Ripper Affair (Bannon & Clare #3), Lilith Saintcrow (August 19)
Storm Siren, Mary Weber (August 19)
Visions (Cainsville #2), Kelley Armstrong (August 19)

Amity, Micol Ostow (August 26)
Faces of the Dead, Suzanne Weyn (August 26)
Ghost House, Alexandra Adornetto (August 26)
Greenglass House, Kate Milford (August 26)
Feral, Holly Schindler (August 26)
Into the Grey, Celine Kiernan (August 26)
The Island of Excess Love (Love in the Time of Global Warming #2), Francesca Lia Block (August 26)
We Will All Go Down Together, Gemma Files (August 26)
Uni the Unicorn, Amy Krouse Rosenthal, ill. Brigette Barrager (August 26)

The Fire Prince, Emily Gee (August 27)

Circle of Stones, Catherine Fisher (August 28, US edition)

 

Interesting Links:

Trailer for Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers.

Nnedi Okorafor reads “Poison Fish.”

First episode of Outlander (TV series version) by Diana Gabaldon available August 2.

World Fantasy Award nominees for 2014; Ellen Datlow and Chelsea Quinn Yabro to receive lifetime achievement awards.

Obituary Note: Mary Rodgers, who might be known to readers of genre fiction as the author of Freaky Friday, passed June 26.

J. K. Rowling expanded the Potterverse with a new short story on Pottermore.com (registration required).

Interested in cover design? Check out the 2014 Chesley Awards finalists.

2014 Locus Awards winners.

You might be familiar with Mette Ivie Harrison’s fantasy work, so you might be interested to know that her forthcoming mystery The Bishop’s Wife is one of Publishers Weekly’s most anticipated books of fall 2014.

Warner Bros. has optioned the rights to Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon Riders of Pern.

Trailer for the movie of musical Into the Woods.

Holly Black to write installment in Dr. Who book series.

A good illustration for the existence of Sirens.

Do you have exciting book news or fantasy links to share? Send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll include it in the next newsletter. We appreciate your contributions!

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
In the not-so-distant past, we had a review squad: volunteer readers reviewing books that they would recommend to others interested in women in fantasy. We’re pleased to bring back the review squad, and to feature their book reviews in the Sirens newsletter. If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, please visit the volunteer system and on the third page, where you are offered different volunteer team choices, indicate that you’d like to be a book reviewer in the section that says “Please tell us of any specific position you are interested in.” Review squad volunteering is very flexible; we simply ask that you share information about books you’ve enjoyed. You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you.

 

CityofHeavenlyFireCity of Heavenly Fire
Cassandra Clare

City of Heavenly Fire is the sixth and final installment of the Mortal Instruments young adult urban fantasy series. The series was originally supposed to be a trilogy, ending with City of Glass, before Clare decided to extend it another three books. As a devoted fan, I eagerly read the second “trilogy” of the series, only to be rather disappointed by the first two books. So if City of Heavenly Fire was going to “save” the series, it had big expectations to live up to—especially considering the ending of City of Glass was pretty much perfect.

City of Heavenly Fire follows Shadowhunter Sebastian Morgenstern, who has chosen to turn against his kind and ally with demons in a bid to take over not only our world, but the demon realms. In his quest for power, he takes the Shadowhunter’s most sacred object, the Mortal Cup, and uses it to create the Infernal Cup, a device capable of stripping Shadowhunters of their souls and turning them into mindless killers loyal to him. Now, Sebastian is determined to turn as many Shadowhunters as possible so he can get revenge on those who wronged him (namely his Shadowhunter mother, Jocelyn, his sister, Clary, and her boyfriend, Jace, of whom Sebastian is jealous) and rule the world. The war that he creates pits Shadowhunter against Shadowhunter and strains their fragile alliances with the faeries, vampires, werewolves and warlocks, threatening to send the entire magical world into chaos and, ultimately, ruin.

While I was hoping for a little more dramatic of a conclusion, I have to say I enjoyed this book. It felt more like the first three, like I was “home” with friends I really cared about. That may be because the group of five (Clary, Jace, Isabelle, Alec, and Simon) were together through most of the book, giving the story a great group dynamic. Many of the characters retained the signature qualities that made me fall in love with them, while Jace and Simon matured to men who think of others before themselves. While this maturity somewhat dampens Jace’s snarky sarcasm, it also makes him a character worthy Clary’s affection. Simon, too, matures admirably, allowing him to make decisions that change the fate of everyone involved, especially his own.

Some reviewers have criticized the story, saying that while their world is coming to an end, the characters are focused in their love lives and don’t have their priorities straight. First of all, the book is young adult, so it makes sense that the characters will be thinking about love (it’s what you do when you’re a teenager). Plus, it’s not just love interests that consume the thoughts of the characters, but parents, siblings and friends. In many ways, the story is about relationships, with others and with ourselves. It’s about overcoming what we think we want to be able to see what we truly need – all wrapped in a page-turning adventure that will keep you wondering who lives and who pays the ultimate price.

Fair warning: about a third of this book is setup for Clare’s next Shadowhunter series, The Dark Artifices. The prologue and a subplot are devoted to introducing the next generation of Shadowhunters and getting us to like them enough to want to read their story. It didn’t work with me, and so much time was spent on them with so little impact to the main plot of this book that it felt forced. Similarly, the frequent nods to the Infernal Devices series (the prequel series to this one, set in the Victorian era) also drove me crazy. I didn’t care about past and future. I just wanted to know what happened in this story. But, thankfully, that was something I was able to look beyond.

Despite these shortcomings, City of Heavenly Fire is a good conclusion to the series. While I still think City of Glass was stronger, it was a pleasant reading experience and I’m happy to know how things turned out for my favorite characters. If you’re into the Mortal Instruments, I think this will provide a satisfying conclusion. – Nicole Evelina


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 6, Issue 8 (July 2014)

In this issue:

 

REGISTRATION PRICE JUMP
Registration for Sirens increases to $205 on July 6. Beat the deadline and save that money for books!

 

SIRENS SUPPER AND SIRENS SHUTTLE TICKETS
The price of tickets to the pre-conference Sirens Supper and for the shuttle from Portland International Airport won’t go up on July 6, but about half of the tickets for the Sirens Supper are already gone. You can find more information on the registration page.

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Books and Breakfast will be held on Friday, October 17, and Saturday, October 18. For those of you who are new to Sirens, this is where we invite you to bring your own breakfast and join us for informal chats about books before presentations begin in the morning. It’s perfectly okay to join in Books and Breakfast if you haven’t read any of the books, but if you’d like to come prepared, the schedule is listed below.

This year, our reading list includes tales of hauntings and the haunted. Some of them are new, some of them were game-changing or controversial books, and some we just loved and wanted to share.

Friday, October 17, 2014
The Demon Catchers of Milan, Kat Beyer
The Diviners, Libba Bray
The Red Tree, Caitlín R. Kiernan
The Frangipani Hotel, Violet Kupersmith
A Stranger in Olondria, Sofia Samatar

Saturday, October 18, 2014
Long Lankin, Lindsey Barraclough
Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol
Comfort Woman, Nora Okja Keller
White Is for Witching, Helen Oyeyemi
My Real Children, Jo Walton

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
One of Sirens’s chairs, Amy Tenbrink, is reading “hauntings and the haunted” books in preparation for October. Ghosts, specters, memories, visions, and other patterns show up across fantasy, horror, and non-genre fiction, and she keeps talking to us about them, so we thought she should talk to you, too! If you’d like to read along, there are discussions up for Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina García and Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma, and the following books will be featured on the Sirens Goodreads Group in coming months.

July: The Ghost Bride, Yangsze Choo
August: In the Shadow of Blackbirds, Cat Winters
September: The Woman in Black, Susan Hill
October: The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson

 

NARRATE BOOKSTORE AT SIRENS
Narrate Conferences, Sirens’s 501(c)(3) presenting organization, will again be running a bookstore during the conference in 2014. It’s a great fundraiser that helps Sirens continue, and it means that we get to share a great selection of books by and about women in fantasy.

We will have new books, of course, but a fun part of the bookstore is our used section. Readers can pick up copies of old, but perhaps out of print, favorites, or try new-to-them authors. Our attendees, our friends, our families, and sometimes people we don’t even know send us fantasy books by or about women, and each of these books will cost our attendees only $5, with the proceeds going toward the conference.

We hope you’ll consider donating your gently used books, both for the support it provides Sirens and also because our attendees are always great next readers. (We also take new books, if you’d like to augment our bookstore with some of our favorites, as donors have done in the past.) If you’d like to send books—new or used—please send them to us at:

Sirens
c/o Narrate Conferences
P.O. Box 149
Sedalia, Colorado 80135

The last day we can visit the box before Sirens is September 19, so please be sure to ship books in plenty of time. If you use the US Postal Service and only ship books, you will be eligible for media mail rates.

 

SIRENS AUCTION
Each year, a significant amount of our Sirens expenses are funded through our auction of always interesting, sometimes fun, sometimes important items during the conference. In the past, we have auctioned off everything from reader kits to first editions, from editorial development letters to custom artwork. All of our auction items come from friends and attendees of Sirens, and if you’d like to donate an item or two, please contact Amy at (donate at sirensconference.org).

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

New and Recent Releases:

July2014Collage
Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

 

Guardian, Jo Anderton (June 6)
Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Vol. 6, Shinobu Ohtaka (June 10)
Edda: A Little Valkyrie’s First Day of School, Adam Auerbach (June 24)

Elisha Magus (The Dark Apostle #2), E. C. Ambrose (July 1)
Fireborn, Keri Arthur (July 1)
Unwept (The Nightbirds #1), Tracy Hickman and Laura Hickman (July 1)
The Seat of Magic: A Novel of the Golden City, J. Kathleen Cheney (July 1)
Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #4), Maggie Stiefvater (July 1)
Through the Woods, written/.ill Emily Carroll (July 1)
The Vast and Brutal Sea (The Vicious Deep #3), Zoraida Cordova (July 1)

The Child Eater, Rachel Pollack (July 3)
The Mark of Cain, Lindsey Barraclough (July 3)

Demon Derby, Carrie Harris (July 8)
The Kiss of Deception, Mary E. Pearson (July 8)
Midnight Thief, Livia Blackburne (July 8)
The Queen of the Tearling, Erika Johansen (July 8)

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3), Deborah Harkness (July 15)
Dirty Wings (All Our Pretty Songs #2), Sarah McCarry (July 15)
Loretta Mason Potts (reissue), Mary Chase, ill. Harold Berson (July 15)
That Night, a Monster…, Marzena Sowa, ill. Berenika Kolomycka (July 15)

Endless, Kate Brian (July 22)
The Fire Wish, Amber Lough (July 22)
Poison Promise, Jennifer Estep (July 22)

The Four Seasons of Lucy McKenzie, Kirsty Murray (July 24)

Magical Cross Stitch Designs: Over 60 Fantasy Cross Stitch Designs Featuring Fairies, Wizards, Witches and Dragons, Various Authors (July 28)

Cast in Flame (Chronicles of Elantra #10), Michelle Sagara (July 29)
Magic Breaks (Kate Daniels #7), Ilona Andrews (July 29)
Oceanborn (The Aquarathi #2), Amalie Howard (July 29)
Silver Shadows (Bloodlines #5), Richelle Mead (July 29)

The Fourth Wish, Lindsay Ribar (July 31)

 

Interesting Links:

TU BOOKS has opened the review period for the New Visions Award, a path to publication for MG and YA books by authors of color writing speculative fiction, with entries due October 31.

The Sunburst Award Society for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic announced the shortlist for the 2014 Sunburst Award (including some great reads you just might have heard of).

The 2014 Mythopoeic Awards finalists have been announced.

The New Visions Award is accepting submissions until October 31.

Andre Norton’s young adult novels.

MIND MELD: When Genre Intersects Classical Literature and Myth.

Erynn Kerwin has been accepted to present “Graphic Fantasy Femme Fair,” an interactive offering for sharing comics and other graphics-oriented work. If you would like to share your collection during the presentation, contact Erynn through the sign-up form.

Do you have exciting book news or fantasy links to share? Send it to (help at sirensconference.org) and we’ll include it in the next newsletter. We appreciate your contributions!

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
In the not-so-distant past, we had a review squad: volunteer readers reviewing books that they would recommend to others interested in women in fantasy. We’re pleased to bring back the review squad, and to feature their book reviews in the Sirens newsletter. If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, please visit the volunteer system and on the third page, where you are offered different volunteer team choices, indicate that you’d like to be a book reviewer in the section that says “Please tell us of any specific position you are interested in.” Review squad volunteering is very flexible; we simply ask that you share information about books you’ve enjoyed. You can contribute once or on an ongoing basis, and on a schedule that works for you.

If you’re with a publisher and are interested in providing review copies or similar, please contact us at (help at sirensconference.org). On to this month’s reviews!

 

TheLostThe Lost
Sarah Beth Durst
Harlequin MIRA (2014)
eBook edition

A silver hoop earring. The other black flip flop. A recipe for blueberry coffeecake. I’ve lost other more important things. My way in my early twenties. A belief in love after the demise of a relationship. Trust in a friend.

Sarah Beth Durst’s The Lost introduces us to the place where all of these things go when they are lost, including people who have lost their way physically, mentally and emotionally. Stuck in a rut professional, twenty-seven-year-old Lauren Chase, Durst’s narrator, is facing a reality at home she just doesn’t want to deal with. So, she does what we’ve all thought about doing at some point: getting in the car and just driving. She wants to get as far as she can on one tank of gas.

It’s in the first two chapters Durst develops a claustrophobic, arid atmosphere which helps the reader to feel Lauren’s panic. When she finds herself on a stretch of road with no exits, no towns and a sandstorm, Durst’s power of imagery chokes the reader with alarm. Then we meet the strangest character of the whole book—and that’s saying a lot because there are some odd ones—the town of Lost.

If the claustrophobic imagery of this book hits you in the gut, then Durst’s character development is a perfect knockout. She forces you to scrape the veneer of trash and dirt from her cast and begin to peer into the broken humanity in Lost. Beauty emerges in the brokenness. And Lauren Chase evolves from fugitive on the run from her mother’s illness to discovering that she’s “interesting.” And, of course, we get to meet “The Finder” of Lost, who just happens to be a mysterious, tattooed man who spouts passages from literature. Swoon!

Durst, author of both adult and YA novels, offers a journey full of cacti, trash and beauty. It’s an unexpected combination and it works in this adult novel. When I picked it up I had no idea it was the first in a trilogy. Now, I’ll be waiting for the void to spit out the second in this series. That will make sense once you read this stellar novel, which you should do now. – Courtney Marquez

 

ApparitionsMiyuki Miyabe, Apparitions: Ghosts of Old Edo (first published as あやし = Ayashi, 2000; English trans. Daniel Huddleston, 2013)*

Apparitions includes nine tales threaded by the supernatural. It could have been on the official Sirens reading list this year if not for publication timing, given its multifarious engagement with hauntings and situation of female characters. The one commonality amongst the stories, aside from their early nineteenth-century setting in Edo—now Tokyo—is shopkeeping. Each story features a shop’s family, employees, and the unspoken rules that bring individual and communal voices into conflict. The collection’s first two stories, “A Drowsing Dream of Shinjū” and “Cage of Shadows,” are perhaps the most straightforward; from there the tales become more complex. My favorite story of the set is “The ‘Oni’ of the Adachi House,” in which two women who have married into a shopkeeping family muse upon the mother-in-law’s unusual past in ways that encircle the shop’s fortunes yet stand somewhat apart from them, at once independent and dependent.

Haikasoru, publisher of the English translation, has taken pains to include Masao Higashi’s learned yet pithy introduction to the original publication. Higashi asserts that Miyabe balances a Japanese spirit tradition with a slightly dizzying array of anglophone influences. These stories may also be read as slice-of-life historical fiction, however, evocative of times and places when sane adults talk to dead relatives and when spirits (kami) are adjacent to everyday existence. If the reader doesn’t mind the stories’ absence of trains, motor vehicles, and telephones, then several of the stories could nearly be set today, with multiple ways to construe their interest in the nuances of social convention, socioeconomic barriers, and transgression.

Huddleston’s translation reads smoothly for someone who (like me) doesn’t read Japanese. He expects the reader to be minimally familiar with Japanese culture, however, which means that some key terms are left unglossed, such as shinjū (double suicide), the annual Obon festival, woven floor mats called tatami, -cho to indicate a location, and the O- prefix on women’s names (not matched in the volume by -san or similar). One may look these things up easily via the internet, of course, and they help to maintain the sense of a slightly opaque setting. In a few places it seems that Huddleston or the editor has decided to take pity upon the unwary reader; after someone addresses a character named Yonesuke as “Mr. Rice,” for example, the narrative adds a bit clumsily, “using a nickname based on the first kanji of Yonesuke’s name” (p. 241).

I’ve enjoyed Apparitions well enough to want more, and it turns out that Miyabe is not only prolific but relatively well translated into English. Available to me are Crossfire (1998, English trans. 2005) and Shadow Family = R.P.G. (2001, English trans. 2004), whose original publication dates bracket Apparitions neatly. Both have contemporary thriller settings from a US-inflected genre perspective, Crossfire with a paranormal bent and Shadow Family a police procedural. Three others—ICO: Castle in the Mist, The Book of Heroes, and Brave Story—are available from Haikasoru. Miyabe’s first translation into English, All She Was Worth, should also be mentioned. There is a single-volume treatment of Apparitions = Ayashi in manga form, Oedo Fushigi Hanashi Ayashi (お江戸ふしぎ噺 あやし, published 2010), but it appears not to be translated into English, whether officially or by fans.

* Throughout this review, Japanese names are written surname last; if the review were in Japanese, names would appear surname first.– thistleingrey

 

BOOK GIVEAWAY
Post a comment of at least two sentences on our blog or LiveJournal by July 20, 2014, and tell us which June release you’re most excited about and why. We’ll choose one lucky winner from the participants and contact them for a mailing address, and that person will win a copy of the book they chose. (U.S. addresses only, please!) Current Sirens staff members are not eligible to win, though they may leave a comment, but all volunteers, attendees, and I-wish-I-could-attendees are welcome to tell us their favorites.

 

JUNE GIVEAWAY WINNER
Congratulations to Kate Larking, who picked Rain! Please email us at (help at sirensconference.org) to arrange for your book to be sent.


Questions? You can comment here or write to us at (help at sirensconference.org).

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