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Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 10 (August 2015)

In this issue:

 

INTERVIEWS WITH GUESTS OF HONOR

Kate Elliott Yoon Ha Lee

We recently posted Sirens interviews with two of our guests of honor for 2015: Kate Elliott and Yoon Ha Lee, and they’ve got some fascinating things to say about reading, writing, and women in fantasy. Coming soon, we’ll interview our third guest of honor, Rae Carson, as well!

 

REGISTRATION DEADLINE
The deadline to register for Sirens is fast approaching. If you haven’t purchased your registration yet, please make sure to do so before registration closes on September 12. After that, you must register at the door at an increased price. If you have any questions, please contact us at (registration at sirensconference.org).

 

TICKETS
Tickets for the Sirens Shuttle, Sirens Supper, and Sirens Studio are still available. The Sirens Shuttle offers discounted group transportation to and from Denver International Airport, for you and any friends or family who’d like a ride too. The Sirens Supper is our annual pre-conference dinner, and a great way to kick off the conference. Finally, our new offering, the Sirens Studio, features two days of workshop intensives (for readers, writers, and professionals), discussion, networking opportunities, and flexible time for you to use however you wish. If you’d like to join us for some—or all—of these, tickers can be added to a registration until registration closes on September 12 . Tickets for these events are unlikely to be available at the door.

 

HOTEL RESERVATIONS
Don’t forget to make reservations to stay with us at the Inverness Hotel in the south Denver metro area. Rooms are filling up quickly, especially for the Sirens Studio days (and nights)! If you’re seeking roommates, let us know on Twitter so we can retweet your search, or make a post on Facebook or our website message boards. If you have any issues making a reservation and getting the Sirens discount rate, please do let us know at (help at sirensconference.org); if we can help, we certainly will. Read more about why staying at the hotel helps us and why you will want to stay at the Inverness.

 

PROGRAMMING SPONSORSHIPS
You can see the presentations we’ve accepted from Sirens attendees on the accepted programming page. (The schedule is undergoing proofreading as you read this!) If you see a presentation 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’ expenses. We appreciate your donations, and if you sponsor a presentation by August 21, we’ll be able to list your donation not just on the website, but in the printed program book that all attendees receive.

 

VOLUNTEERING
Would you like to help out during Sirens? Volunteer shifts vary in length and responsibilities, but 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. Thank you!

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

InGreatWaters

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. August’s book is In Great Waters by Kit Whitfield. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT…

Books for Friday’s Books and Breakfast and Saturday’s Books and Breakfast have been announced.

Sherwood Smith: Influential Fantasy for Heroines

Hallie Tibbetts: Sirens Accepted Programming for 2015: Papers

June Recap: Sirens News, Book Releases, and Interesting Links has become its very own special feature, with links, book releases, and more. We’ve rounded up June, and July is on its way…

Yoon Ha Lee: Six Fantasy Works for Sirens

Shveta Thakrar: Seven Fantasy Books Featuring Non-Western Mythology and Folklore

Kate Elliott: Five Fabulous Epic Fantasy Works by Women

Hallie Tibbetts: Six Fantasy Books with Non-US Settings

Testimonials and a Love Letter

 


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 9 (July 2015)

In this issue:

 

PRICE INCREASE
On July 8, 2015, the Sirens registration price increases from $195 to $205. Register now and save! Sirens registrations include access to everything that happens at Sirens between 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, October 8, and noon on Sunday, October 11: all guest of honor keynotes, all programming, all events, and a conference t-shirt. Tickets for the Sirens Shuttle, Sirens Supper, and Sirens Studio won’t increase in price, but remaining spots are limited. Registration closes September 12; after that, you must register at the door.

 

PRESENTER REGISTRATION
July 7 is the deadline for presenters to be registered for Sirens. If you’re a presenter and need an extra day or two to register and pay, please be sure to coordinate with (programming at sirensconference.org) so that your accepted presentation is not dropped from the schedule.

 

SCHOLARSHIPS
All recipients of scholarships (and those who didn’t receive a scholarship this year) have been sent an email about how to claim their registrations and shuttle tickets. Thank you to everyone who applied!

And thank you again to everyone who donated to support our scholarship program! In the end, we were able to provide nine scholarships.

 

PROGRAMMING SPONSORSHIPS
As we finalize details, verify presenters, and tidy up descriptions, we’ll be posting presentations offered up by Sirens attendees on the accepted programming page. If you see one you love, we hope you’ll consider sponsoring the presentation, whether anonymously, under your name, or on behalf of a group! Programming sponsorships cost only $35, and the proceeds go to covering Sirens’s expenses. (You can sponsor a presentation by clicking the link that says “Sponsor Programming” on that page.) We appreciate your donations, and if you sponsor a presentation by August 21, we’ll be able to list your donation not just on the website, but in the printed program book that all Sirens attendees receive.

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

 

BOOKS AND BREAKFAST
Books and Breakfast will be held on Friday, October 9, and Saturday, October 10. For those of you who are new to Sirens, each year we select unusual, controversial, and popular books within our theme, and invite you to bring your own breakfast and join us for informal chats about books before programming begins 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 (and it’s a lot more fun if you come having read at least one book each day), here are the 2015 selections. Ready? Start reading!

Friday, October 9
Bitterblue, Kristin Cashore
The Book of Phoenix, Nnedi Okorafor
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
Fire Logic, Laurie J. Marks
The Summer Prince, Alaya Dawn Johnson
2015BooksandBreakfast-Friday
 
Saturday, October 10
Alif the Unseen, G. Willow Wilson
The Goblin Emperor, Katherine Addison
The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, Ambelin Kwaymullina
The Mirror Empire, Kameron Hurley
The Young Elites, Marie Lu
2015BooksandBreakfast-Saturday

 

TRAVELING TO SIRENS
If you’re flying to Sirens, you’ll likely arrive at Denver International Airport. Denver International is a hub for air travel and most major airlines will take you there.

Ground transportation in Denver is expensive, but Sirens offers the Sirens Shuttle so that you can ride to and from Denver International Airport with other attendees for much less than it costs to travel alone! We’ll pick you up and return you to the airport for $60. We have Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday arrival options, and a Sunday departure; please make sure to check the Sirens Shuttle schedule before booking your flights. You can add tickets for yourself or friends on a new registration or to an existing registration.

It’s also time to make your reservations at the Inverness Hotel. The Inverness rate for standard rooms for Sirens attendees, regardless of occupancy, is $129 beginning the night of October 4, 2015, and ending the night of October 13, 2015. If you’re sharing, you might be especially pleased to know that there are cozy nooks on each floor that might make excellent places to hang out if your sleeping patterns don’t match those of your roommate(s).

Please note that, like most conferences, Sirens commits to filling a certain number of guest rooms at the Inverness in order to hold the event at the hotel. By staying at the Inverness, you’ll not only ensure that you’re part of Sirens around the clock, you’ll help us cover the costs of presenting Sirens as well!

1bed 2beds nook

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

RedQueen

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. July’s book is Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.

 

JUNE BOOK RELEASES AND INTERESTING LINKS
We’ll be sending these your way later this month. Keep an eye on our Twitter or Facebook for the good—and interesting—news.


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

 

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).

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 6 (April 2015)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING DEADLINE APPROACHING
The deadline to submit programming proposals to Sirens is May 15, 2015.

We look forward to receiving your proposals. Remember, all programming at Sirens is created and presented by attendees. Submit your proposal now!

You can get information on how to put together a programming proposal on our website, and we’ve posted our annual programming series on our blog. Check it out for help turning your idea into a presentation, as well as for thoughts and experiences from others who’ve presented and how they made a proposal.

If you’re looking for co-presenters, why not place an ad on Facebook or the Sirens message boards?

If you’re still thinking about what to present, please join us for a chat. We’ll be talking about programming ideas on Sunday, April 19, from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern. This link will take you to a chat on the Sirens website during that time; no software or downloads are required, but you may need to refresh the page.

#SirensBrainstormMonday on Twitter has topics free for the taking (and if you have too many ideas, please feel free to contribute your extras). We recently held a chat on Twitter, too, where ideas were floated for anyone to take. Here are just a couple examples:

  • Bring It On: Are Girls More Fearless in Fantasy Literature?
  • Forgiveness and Revenge in Fantasy
  • Murder, Mistake, Rebellion, Revolution: Our Changeable Thresholds of Female Villainy in Fantasy Literature
  • Homicidal Asylum Prisoner to Practically Perfect Authorial Insert: The Many, Many Faces of Alice of Wonderland
  • “How about something with women-led societies and matriarchal lines: Sorrow’s Knot, The Demon King, Queen of the Tearling?”
  • “40+-year-old women in fantasy lit: Paladin of Souls, A Crown for Cold Silver, Granny Weatherwax…”
  • Handbook of Revolution: Deploying Your Dragons, Mages, Spies and Wannabe Queens

We believe involving everyone in the dialogue of the conference is critical, and that’s why our only presenter requirement is that you be old enough to attend. Please know that we value hearing from everyone—and if a topic interests you, it probably interests other attendees, too. If you have any questions about programming, please write to (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

REGISTER
Staff members recently visited the 2015 site for Sirens. We’re happy to report that the lobby space at the Inverness Hotel has been renovated! Now better than ever, the hotel boasts ample natural light, outlets for all your power needs, a new fireplace, and plenty of cozy seating. In addition, the dining locations have been renovated, and a new coffee bar serves your favorite caffeinated drinks until early afternoon. We can’t wait to share this lovely space with you.

InvernessLobbyRenovated

Register now for Sirens in Denver, Colorado.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB

TheYoungElites

Come read with us! Sirens co-founder Amy leads the Sirens Book Club each month. April’s book is The Young Elites by Marie Lu. Join the discussion here on Goodreads.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Marvel is spotlighting female heroes in their new bi-monthly anthology.

Awesome: Women SFF artists redesign female characters.

Ursula K. Le Guin on Kazuo Ishiguro: “Are they going to say this is fantasy?

From Harper Voyager: Fiona McIntosh remembers Sara Douglass.

Princess Rap Battle: Cinderella vs. Belle.

From Esquire: A look at genre vs. literary fiction.

From NPR: A Girl, A Shoe, A Prince: The Endlessly Evolving Cinderella.

From The Guardian: Kapow! Attack of the feminist superheroes.

Matrilines: The Woman Who Made Fantasy: Katherine Kurtz.

 

Recent Releases:

2015AprilCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

March 1:
The Mermaid’s Sister, Carrie Anne Noble

March 3:
Dead Heat (Alpha & Omega #4), Patricia Briggs

March 10:
The Doll Collection, Ellen Datlow
Persona, Genevieve Valentine

March 17:
The Witch of Painted Sorrows (The Daughters of La Lune #1), M. J. Rose

March 19:
The Glorious Angels, Justina Robson

March 24:
Medicine for the Dead (Children of the Drought #2), Arianne “Tex” Thompson

April 1:
By Tooth and Claw (Clan of the Claw), S. M. Stirling, Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, Jody Lynn Nye

April 2:
The D’Evil Diaries, Tatum Flynn

April 7:
Awakening, Shannon Duffy
Dark Heir (Jane Yellowrock #9), Faith Hunter
Emissary: The Second Book of the Seven Eyes, Betsy Dornbusch
Empire of Night (Age of Legends #2), Kelley Armstrong
Every Breath You Take (Jensen Murphy, Ghost for Hire #3), Chris Marie Green
Garden of Dreams and Desires (Crescent City #3), Kristen Painter
Genuine Sweet, Faith Harkey
Miss Mayhem, Rachel Hawkins
Palace of Lies, Margaret Peterson Haddix
Rolling in the Deep, Mira Grant
Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner #16), C. J. Cherryh
Vengeance of the Demon (Kara Gillian #7), Diana Rowland

April 9:
Lumberjanes #1, Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke A. Allen (Art)

April 10:
Lagoon (U.S. edition), Nnedi Okorafor

April 14:
Bloodkin (The Maeve’ra Trilogy #2), Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
Dream a Little Dream, Kerstin Gier
Forged (Taken #3), Erin Bowman
Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, Liesl Shurtliff
The Second Guard, J. D. Vaughn
The Water and the Wild, K. E. Ormsbee and Elsa Mora (Illustrations)
Window Wall (Glass Thorns #4), Melanie Rawn
The Wondrous and the Wicked (The Dispossessed #3), Page Morgan

April 15:
Vermilion, Molly Tanzer

April 21:
Beauty’s Kingdom, A. N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
Becoming Jinn, April Goldstein
Castle Hangnail, Ursula Vernon
The Decaying Empire (The Vanishing Girl #2), Laura Thalassa
Desert Rising, Kelley Grant
Red Girls: The Legend of the Akakuchibas, Kazuki Sakuraba
Pirate’s Alley (Sentinels of New Orleans #4), Suzanne Johnson
The Silver Witch, Paula Brackston
Stolen Magic, Gail Carson Levine
War of Shadows (Ascendant Kingdoms #3), Gail Z. Martin

April 28:
Charm, Sarah Pinborough
Deception’s Pawn, Esther Friesner
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir
The Eternity Key, Bree Despain
The Game of Love and Death, Martha Brockenbrough
The Girl at Midnight, Melissa Grey
Hunted Warrior, Lindsey Piper
The Jumbies, Tracey Baptiste
Legend: The Graphic Novel, Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon, and Kaari (Art)
Magonia, Maria Dahvana Headley
Medusa the Rich, Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams
The Memory Painter, Gwendolyn Womack
Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, Maggie Stiefvater and Jackson Pearce
Rogue, Julie Kagawa
The Shattered Court, M.J. Scott
Of Noble Family (Glamourist Histories #5), Mary Robinette Kowal
Rook, Sharon Cameron
Valiant, Sarah McGuire

 

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 love to have your recommendation for the Sirens newsletter.

Review squad volunteering is quite 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.”

 

InterrogationofAshalaWolfThe Interrogation of Ashala Wolf
Ambelin Kwaymullina
Candlewick

When I started The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf, I kept flipping to the flap copy—was this book two? At the beginning, Ashala aks her captor philosophical questions and refers to past events in a way that feels very much like a sequel. Yet, this was Kwaymullina’s first novel, so I knew I had to read on. Over the course of the first fifty pages, I gathered a handful of ideas. The world we know has ended, and 300 years after that, the scant human population shares space with sentient cats and saurs, and is asking a great question: Should all humans be allowed to live freely, and are all humans included in the old definition of human? Soon after, I realized that the story didn’t start in the wrong place—instead, I had a mystery to unravel.

In the time of rebuilding, there are humans who have developed abilities, most of them related to manipulating the natural world. The government won’t allow them to be citizens, for the most part, and too often, children found to have abilities die during the identification process. Ashala, leader of a Tribe of children with abilities who hide in the Firstwood, has been captured and taken to a detention center, where new technology, a computer, can look into her brain for information about rebels. If anyone can fight the interrogation, it’s Ashala, who can Sleepwalk and perform amazing feats while she dreams. Soon, however, all her stories begin to unravel, and her ability to protect the Tribe, and herself, is endangered. The problem is that her memories are suspect, and it’s not clear who she can trust.

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf is a fascinating example of both near-future fantasy and of nonlinear storytelling. Kwayamullina, an Aboriginal writer and illustrator from the Palyku people in Australia, is shaping a series about the Tribe, and an author’s note at the end of The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf explains a bit of how her cultural beliefs influenced the story. If you’re looking for a page turner, I recommend trying this book. – Undusty New Books


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

 

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 5 (March 2015)

In this issue:

 

REGISTRATION PRICE INCREASE
The next price increase for Sirens will happen on March 31, 2015.

It is currently $185, and jumps to $195 at the very end of March. Visit http://www.sirensconference.org/attend/ for more information or to register now.

Registrations for Sirens include access to all of our conference programming and events, including the keynote addresses by our guests of honor (and accompanying meals or receptions), as well as a conference T-shirt available only to attendees.

 

PROGRAMMING NEWS
Starting next week, we’ll be posting our annual guide to programming, with information applicable to all types of presentations. If you’d like to submit a programming proposal, we hope you’ll take a peek at our tips.

The deadline for programming proposals is May 15, 2015.

Offering opportunities to discuss and debate the remarkable work of women in fantasy literature is vital to Sirens, and the voices of our attendees—including your voice—are critical to those discussions and debates. Therefore, as you know, Sirens’s programming—the presentations, panels, roundtables, and workshops that make up most of our daytime schedule—is created, submitted and presented by our attendees, for our attendees. Our schedule can be as extraordinary as our collective brilliance, but also, as you might expect, when we receive more programming proposals, the Sirens conversation, and our programming schedule, becomes more diverse and more vibrant.

We know that presenting a programming topic isn’t for everyone, but we very much hope that, as you consider whether to do so, you know that your voice is essential, your thoughts are unique, and you are just as welcome to submit and present programming as anyone else attending Sirens. Please see the guidelines section of our website for more information on putting a proposal together. If you’re curious about past programming, check out our archive.

 

PROGRAMMING BRAINSTORMING!
If you’re looking for programming ideas—or you have ideas for programming you’d like to see others present—why not share them on Facebook or on Twitter using #SirensBrainstormMonday. Or why not come to one of our programming chats or Twitter brainstorming sessions? They are a great way find co-presenters or just think out loud.

Our first programming chat will be March 16 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here: http://www.sirensconference.org/chat/.

Our first Twitter programming brainstorming session will be March 28 at 4:00 p.m. Eastern; our Twitter is @sirens_con and our hashtag is #Sirens15.

In the meantime, why not put together a proposal for one of the topics from #SirensBrainstormMonday, listed below? You can find more via the hashtag—and you can contact people other than @sirens_con if you might want to collaborate with them on a topic they’ve shared. (We didn’t want to give away any ideas you contributed to the hashtag here, just in case they were already in progress as proposals.)

  • Rebellious Reading Choices: Diversity, Representation, Revolution
  • That’s Logistics: Operations of a Successful Revolution
  • Covert Operations: Spies, Assassins, and Guerrillas in Fantasy Fiction
  • Rise Like a Girl: Hallmarks of Women-Led Revolutions
  • Whispers of Dragons from Across the Sea: Propaganda, Rumors, and Lies in Revolution
  • Writing as an Act of Revolution
  • Lessons Fantasy Literature Learned from The Art of War (or The Prince)
  • If I Only Had a Brain: The Role of Strategists and Tacticians in Revolution

 

2015 SIRENS READING CHALLENGE
As many of you know, each year Sirens posts a reading list featuring works by that year’s Guests of Honor and other thematic works by and about women in fantasy literature. The list generally tops 60 books, and we never thought of it as a reading challenge—more of a place to go to start with your thematic reading for the year.

But it turns out that you want a reading challenge—so now we have one! Each year, our staff reads widely in women in fantasy literature, partly within our theme and partly more broadly, and we’d love for you to join us. So we present the 2015 Sirens Reading Challenge. Just like our staff challenge, it’s 25 books, some that are required and some that you’ll select from a variety of lists. Finish it by September 12, and we’ll give you a special button at Sirens, suitable for gloating. Game on.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
Sunbolt In our revolutionary year, why not join us in reading some revolutionary books? Each month leading up to Sirens, co-founder Amy will read a fantasy book, written by a woman, about revolutionary women—and will then post thoughts on our Goodreads group. This year, she has already read Of Metal and Wishes by Sarah Fine, The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison, and for this month, Sunbolt by Intisar Khanani.

As Amy said in her review of Sunbolt, “Give me a disobedient girl who makes her own decisions, and I’ll give you a revolutionary.” Come read with us!

We also continue to post our weekly reading on our Sirens Twitter feed, using #FridayReads. We hope you’ll share with us what you’re reading; until we’re completely buried in our to-be-read pile, we’re looking for more recommendations!

 

GUEST OF HONOR SPOTLIGHT
Each year Sirens features a fantasy-related theme—and in 2015, that theme is rebels and revolutionaries. Women are revolutionary in countless ways, whether their interests lie in political, domestic, scientific, creative, or divine arenas. To further our discussion, we have invited three guests of honor, each of whom writes powerfully and provocatively about rebellion and revolution: Rae Carson, Kate Elliott, and Yoon Ha Lee. This month, we’d like to highlight Yoon Ha Lee.

ConservationofShadowsAVectorAlphabetofInterstellarTravelFAndSFClarkesworld

Yoon Ha Lee is a Korean-American science fiction and fantasy writer who majored in math and finds it a source of continual delight that math can be mined for story ideas. Yoon’s fiction has appeared in publications such as F&SF, Tor.com, and Clarkesworld, as well as several year’s-best anthologies, and has ranged from military science fiction to fairy tales. Yoon’s work includes 2010 WSFA Small Press Award finalist “The Pirate Captain’s Daughter,” Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award nominees “Flower, Mercy, Needle, Chain” in 2011 and “Ghostweight” in 2012, and 2014 World Fantasy Award finalist “Effigy Nights.” Conservation of Shadows, a debut collection of short fiction, integrates tropes of science fiction with elements of myth and is a finalist for the William L. Crawford Award. Yoon graduated from Cornell University, majoring in mathematics, and earned a master’s degree in secondary math education at Stanford University.

For more information about Yoon, please visit Yoon’s website, blog, or Twitter.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Obituary: We regret to hear of the passing of Suzette Haden Elgin (1936-2015).

The Finnish National Opera performs a ballet of Comet in Moominland.

Under the Radar spotlights Eat the Sky, Drink the Ocean, a collection of speculative feminist short stories featuring writers, illustrators, and editors from India and Australia.

Via Ellen Kushner (@EllenKushner): My Winter Queen Story: “The City in Winter.”

To the Best of Our Knowledge highlights African Genre Fiction.

Gender on The Mirror Empire and Ancillary Justice.

For Steampunk Hands 2015: The Raj Revised: Steampunking History.

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America announce the 2014 Nebula Award nominees!

A Webcomic About A Sworn Maiden, Raised As A Boy, And A Deadly Trial.

Colleen Atwood wins the Excellence in Fantasy Film award at this year’s Costume Designers Guild Awards.

Short film Oya, Rise of the Orisha, an African superhero film with two Black women protagonists, is available to stream.

Disney is launching a Latin-inspired Sofia the First spinoff.

 

Recent Releases:

2015MarchCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

February 10:
The Glass Arrow, Kristen Simmons
The Oathbreaker’s Shadow, Amy McCulloch
Sword, Amy Bai

February 12:
Banished: Book One of The Grimm Laws, Jennifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole

February 17:
Unseen (Unborn Series #2), Amber Lynn Natusch
Welcome to Shadowhunter Academy (Tales From Shadowhunter Academy #1), Cassandra Clare

February 23:
Mantle of Malice (The Tudor Enigma), April Taylor
Unicorn Seasons, Janni Lee Simner

February 24:
Who Needs Magic?, Kathy McCullough
A Wicked Thing, Rhiannon Thomas
The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales, Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth, ed. Erika Eichenseer

March 1:
Prairie Fire (Dragon Slayer of Trondheim #2), E. K. Johnston

March 3:
Bone Gap, Laura Ruby
The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy #3), Shannon Hale
Razorhurst, Justine Larbalestier
Flunked, Jen Calonita
Infinity Bell (House Immortal #2), Devon Monk
The Boy Who Lost Fairyland (Fairyland #4), Catherynne M. Valente, ill. Ana Juan
The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2), Marie Rutkoski
Of Silk and Steam (London Steampunk #5), Bec McMaster
Vision in Silver, Anne Bishop
The Storyspinner, Becky Wallace
Death Marked, Leah Cypess
Kin, Lili St. Crow

March 10:
Burning Kingdoms, Laura DeStefano
Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2), Rachel Hartman
The Orphan Queen, Jodi Meadows
Nightbird, Alice Hoffman
The Infinite, Lori M. Lee
The Exile, C. T. Adams

March 17:
Prudence, Gail Carriger
Dr. Critchlore’s School for Minions, Sheila Grau, ill. Joe Sutphin

March 24:
Catalyst, Lydia Kang
Half Wild, Sally Green
Shadow Study, Maria V. Snyder
The Walls Around Us, Nova Ren Suma
The Haunting of Sunshine Girl, Paige McKenzie with Alyssa B. Sheinmel
In the Time of Dragon Moon, Janet Lee Carey
The Door in the Moon (Chronoptika #3), Catherine Fisher

March 31:
The Cemetery Boys, Heather Brewer
King (The Dragon King Chronicles #3), Ellen Oh
Sisters of Blood and Spirit, Kady Cross
Voyage of the Basilisk: A Memoir by Lady Trent, Marie Brennan
The Lost Track of Time, Paige Britt, ill. Lee White
The Wicked Will Rise, Danielle Paige

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
We’re looking for 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 love to work with you to publish your critique right here in our Sirens newsletter.

Review squad volunteering is quite 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.”

 

PropheciesLibelsDreamsProphecies, Libels, and Dreams: Stories
Ysabeau Wilce
Small Beer Press (Oct 2014)

Prophecies, Libels, and Dreams: Stories is a collection of seven tall tales and brief adventures from the brilliant Ysabeau Wilce. Fans, like myself, of Wilce’s Flora Segunda series, will quickly recognize the magical world of Califa represented here, but even readers who have never visited Califa before will be swept up in this dark, gritty, yet sparkling world. Califa is a thoughtful and highly original mash-up of modern California, the Wild West, Victorian Europe, and Mexican myth, among other cultures and times. The swash-buckling characters who inhabit this kaleidoscopic world are as magnetic as they are complex.

Take, for example, the devastatingly gorgeous Hard Hands, reluctant keeper of his small niece (and fiancée), Tiny Doom, a bouncing and mischievous young lady who attracts abundant trouble. Hard Hands wants nothing more than to conjure a bad-ass demon drummer, rock out in front of his adoring hoardes, and then ka-noodle with one of his lovers, but, much to his chagrin, Tiny Doom consistently lures him into misadventure and mayhem. As gruff and self-absorbed as he is loving and brave, Hard Hands is featured in four of these stories and frankly, I couldn’t get enough of him.

Although the Flora series was marketed as young adult, Wilce has brought Califa soundly into adult literature with this collection. Califa is rife with tarts, dandies, and demons of frightening lust and hunger. In the arid lands outside the city, there are re-animated corpses and monsters who terrorize the foolish or smug. Wilce has a background as a scholar of military history and has lived and traveled in many regions of the world. Her mastery of language and character is extraordinary and I highly recommend this collection to anyone who enjoys their fantasy with some grit and intrigue. – Edith Bishop


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

Sirens Newsletter – Volume 7, Issue 4 (February 2015)

In this issue:

 

PROGRAMMING: COME ONE, COME ALL!
February is here! Time to think about what papers, panels, workshops, roundtable discussions, and afternoon classes you’d like to submit to Sirens this year. Sirens’s programming is proposed and presented by attendees—and regardless of your age, profession, or experience with Sirens, your voice is vital to our community. Readers, industry professionals, scholars, librarians, teachers, and writers have all submitted brilliant, successful presentations in the past, and we would love for you to submit a proposal this year.

We appreciate thoughtful topics and proposals that are focused on fantasy literature, particularly the remarkable women of fantasy, and related issues of interest. This year, we’re especially excited by our theme of rebels and revolutionaries. Bring on the aspiring queens, brilliant strategists, military tacticians, and crafty spies! How about a panel on “Writing as an Act of Revolution”? Or a roundtable discussion on “The Role of Strategists and Tacticians in Revolution”? Other examples of possible topics can be found in our Twitter feed using #SirensBrainstormMonday. Jump in with your own ideas!

Our annual series on preparing a proposal for submission to our vetting board begins in March. Proposals are due May 15, 2015. Time flies and the more proposals we have, the stronger our program will be. So whether you are a returning attendee or new to Sirens, we welcome your proposals. Please feel free to brainstorm ideas and seek collaborators on our Sirens Twitter feed, message boards, Facebook, or in the comments here. If you have questions, please contact us at (programming at sirensconference.org).

 

GUEST OF HONOR SPOTLIGHT
This month, we are delighted to highlight Kate Elliott. Ms. Elliott has attended our Sirens conference before and this year we welcome her as an esteemed Guest of Honor as Sirens focuses on rebels and revolutionaries.

ColdMagicColdFireColdSteelTheVeryBestofKateElliott

Kate Elliott writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, all with a romantic edge. Kate’s most recent work, the Spiritwalker trilogy (Cold Magic, Cold Fire, and Cold Steel), is an Afro-Celtic post-Roman icepunk Regency adventure fantasy with airships, sharks, and lawyer dinosaurs. Kate completed the Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors’ Gate), which is an “HBO-style” fantasy with a focus on character and landscape, and an epic plot. Kate also wrote the seven-volume epic fantasy series Crown of Stars, set in an alternate European landscape where magic has been (literally) woven through the land. The first volume, King’s Dragon, was a Nebula Award finalist in 1998. Set in a speculative future, the Novels of the Jaran follow the nomadic people known as the jaran after their first contact with the technologically more advanced society of Earth. Kate co-wrote the bestselling fantasy novel The Golden Key with Melanie Rawn and Jennifer Roberson, a 1997 World Fantasy Award finalist. Forthcoming for Kate are The Very Best of Kate Elliott, a short story collection, which will be released by Tachyon Publications in February 2015; Court of Fives, a YA fantasy, which will be released by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in August 2015; and Black Wolves, volume one of a new epic fantasy series, which will be released from Orbit Books in fall 2015.

For more information about Kate, please visit Kate’s website, blog, or Twitter.

 

REGISTRATION PRICE INCREASE
The next price increase for Sirens will happen on March 31, 2015. Registration at the current price is available until midnight Eastern on March 30.

Registration cost includes entry to conference programming and events, including the three keynote presentations by our guests of honor and a conference T-shirt available only to attendees, as well as four meals or receptions. Currently, the cost of registration is $185. It jumps to $195 at the very end of March. Visit http://www.sirensconference.org/attend/ for more information or to register now.

 

AMY’S BOOK CLUB
Come read with us! As we prepare for Sirens this year, Sirens co-founder Amy has selected nine new-to-her fantasy books to read over the coming months. All her selections are written by women, and feature rebels or revolutionaries prominently—though not always in an overthrow-the-queen sort of way (women are, of course, revolutionary in many, many more ways than that!). Amy will post on our Goodreads group each month, and we hope you’ll read along with her as she tackles critically acclaimed works, popular works, diverse works, and not-yet-released works. This month’s selection? The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison.

We also continue to post our weekly reading on our Sirens Twitter feed, using #FridayReads. We hope you’ll share with us what you’re reading; until we’re completely buried in our to-be-read pile, we’re looking for more recommendations!

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…

Interesting Links:

Indian comic creates female superhero to tackle rape.

DC announces Vixen, the first animated series starring a Black female superhero.

Sneak peek at character art from the upcoming illustrated edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes to be adapted as a television drama!

If Hermione were the main character in Harry Potter.

From BookRiot: 2015 Is the Year of the Feminist YA Novel.

Kirkus lists 100 Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror books to watch for in 2015.

Panel Conversation on Afro-futrism between Nnedi Okorafor and Sofia Samatar.

 

Recent Releases:

2015FebruaryCollage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

Hostage, Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith (January 6)
Wildalone, Krassi Zourkova (January 6)

All the Answers, Kate Messner (January 27)
Chaos, Lanie Bross (January 27)
A Cold Legacy, Megan Shepherd (January 27)
The Empty Throne, Cayla Kluver (January 27)
The Mime Order, Samantha Shannon (January 27)

The Storm, Virginia Bergin (February 1)

Beastkeeper, Cat Hellisen (February 3)
Cherry Bomb, Kathleen Tierney (February 3)
Dearest (The Woodcutter Sisters), Alethea Kontis (February 3)
Get in Trouble: Stories, Kelly Link (February 3)
Karen Memory, Elizabeth Bear (February 3)
Shadow of the War Machine (The Secret Order), Kristin Bailey (February 3)
Shutter, Courtney Alameda (February 3)
Soulprint, Megan Miranda (February 3)
Villain Keeper, Laurie McKay (February 3)

The Price of Blood (Emma of Normandy Trilogy), Patricia Bracewell (February 5)
The Shadow Cabinet, Maureen Johnson (February 5)
Worry Magic, Dawn McNiff (February 5)

The Country of Ice Cream Star, Sandra Newman (February 10)
The Diabolical Miss Hyde, Viola Carr (February 10)
The Eterna Files, Leanna Renee Hieber (February 10)
One Witch at a Time, Stacy DeKeyser (February 10)
Red Queen, Victoria Aveyard (February 10)
The Ruby Circle, Richelle Mead (February 10)
Seeker, Arwen Elys Dayton (February 10)
Signal to Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia (February 10)
The Very Best of Kate Elliott, Kate Elliott (February 10)

The Bargaining, Carly Anne West (February 17)
Emissary: The Second Book of the Seven Eyes, Betsy Dornbusch (February 17)
Find Me: A Novel, Laura van den Berg (February 17)
Fortune’s Blight, Evie Manieri (February 17)

A Darker Shade of Magic, V. E. Schwab (February 24)
Dreamfire, Kit Alloway (February 24)
Echo, Pam Munoz Ryan (February 24)
Feral Pride, Cynthia Leitich Smith (February 24)
Fields of Wrath: A Renshai Novel, Mickey Zucker Reichert (February 24)
Grave Matters (Night Owls #2), Lauren M. Roy (February 24)
Mark of the Thief, Jennifer A. Nielsen (February 24)
Salt & Stone, Victoria Scott (February 24)
Shadow Study, Maria V. Snyder (February 24)
The Sin Eater’s Daughter, Melinda Salisbury (February 24)
Touch, Claire North (February 24)
The Uncanny Reader: Stories from the Shadows, ed. Marjorie Sandor (February 24)
Unleashed, Sophie Jordan (February 24)

The Fire Sermon, Francesca Haig (February 26)

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
Did you fall in love with a book recently? Are you excited for a new release in the coming months? If you think you could contribute a book review of at least 250 words sometime during the next year, we would love to work with you to publish your critique right here in our Sirens newsletter! Review squad volunteering is quite 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.”

 

TheMirrorEmpireThe Mirror Empire
Kameron Hurley
Angry Robot (August 2014)

When all of the 2014 “YOU MUST READ” lists appeared, I kept noticing The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley. I have a deep seated reluctance to read things that everybody says I should, which probably stems from having a bachelor’s degree in English. Nevertheless, I was intrigued enough to read this huge novel recently.

I’m not going to go as far as MUST READ for this title, but I now understand why it made so many lists. I had to give the book a solid 150 pages before I was fully invested in the characters and the plot. Some of my ambivalence stems from being thrown head-first into a seriously alien culture, with many characters introduced quickly amid aggressively malignant flora and fauna. I appreciate books that demand the reader exercise her literary skills and do some of the work, but this novel goes to extremes. Eventually, however, I was hooked by political intrigue, alien invaders, strange celestial bodies that govern the magical system, and romantic entanglements. Added into that mix, Hurley’s world posits more than a binary understanding of gender and females tend toward dominance. The world-building for The Mirror Empire is immense and impressively well developed.

Some philosophies suppose that anything is possible, and that maybe multiple variations actually co-exist over many planes of existence. Essentially, if it didn’t happen in this version of the world, it could happen in some other one. In The Mirror Empire, the world’s variations collide with the appearance of a dark satellite in their skies. The meetings historically have led to great upheaval and military solutions. Many factions (from different planes of existence) advance their own solutions to the coming turmoil—none of which are facile and nearly none are peaceful.

If you feel the desire to immerse yourself in a completely foreign environment, with no clear-cut “good v. evil,” and you can engage both time and effort in your reading, this is a great title. If you are looking for easy entertainment values (my favorite kind of reading when stressed), this might need to wait for another time. – Kristen Blount


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

Sirens Newsletter – Last-Minute Shopping Edition! Volume 7, Issue 2 (December 2014)

In this issue:

 

SIRENS GIFT CERTIFICATES
Sirens gift certificates are always apropos! (Seriously, we give them for the holidays, but also for birthdays, coffee dates, and Mondays.) You can buy them in any amount, and they can be used for 2015 Sirens registrations or tickets. We, of course, provide a certificate suitable for printing and gifting. If you have a friend thinking of making the trip to Denver in October, help her out!

 

REGISTRATION PRICE JUMP
You might also consider, especially if you’re giving gift certificates, that the registration price for Sirens will increase on January 1. Right now, the price for all programming, events, and meals (excluding only the pre-conference Sirens Supper and the Sirens Shuttle) is $175. On January 1, that becomes $185.

 

CAFEPRESS FLASH SALES
Until it’s too late to ship for Christmas, we’ll be running flash sales on our CafePress store. Sometimes that means discounts, and sometimes it means products that aren’t available the rest of the year. If you’re looking for hoodies, water bottles, colored t-shirts, pajamas, or other fun things, check out the store and keep an eye on our Twitter for flash sales. (Also, we expanded our store in November to feature a lot more products, including some with our 2015 rebel logo!)

 

WHAT IS AMY GIVING THIS YEAR?
Books! Amy, a founder of Sirens, gives books year-round, but never so enthusiastically as at the holidays, when she happily drops stacks in the laps of unsuspecting recipients. If you’re at a loss as to what to give a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a toy drive, here are some ideas:

This year Amy is giving her mom: The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. Mom is a huge mystery and thriller fan, and while she doesn’t often read fantasy works, Amy’s positive that she’s going to love Beukes’ breathtakingly clever story about a time-traveling serial killer and the girl he thought he killed who tracks him down…through time.

This year Amy is giving her best friend: Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee. Yoon is, of course, a guest of honor for Sirens in 2015, but Amy will blissfully tell you that Conservation of Shadows is, despite a long list of brilliant books read, the best book she’s read since Code Name Verity. Since the last book Amy and her BFF both loved was Code Name Verity, she’s crossing her fingers for a repeat.

This year Amy is giving her grandma: The Frangipani Hotel by Violet Kupersmith. Amy’s grandma loves history, and while she tends to read American history, Amy thinks that The Frangipani Hotel, with its deft weaving of history and legend in ghost stories about Vietnamese identity in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, will appeal.

This year Amy is giving her co-worker: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Amy’s co-worker, today an immensely successful businesswoman, once toiled away as an English literature major. Since The Night Circus skillfully walks the very thin, very porous line between genre fiction and literary fiction—and ingeniously combines a dazzling love story with an exquisite ruthlessness—Amy thinks this will be just the fantasy book to turn a literature fan on to the wonderful world of genre fiction.

This year Amy is giving her three-year-old niece: Dangerously Ever After by Dashka Slater. Princess Amanita laughs in the face of danger. She loves her brakeless bicycle and plants flowers such as grenapes (which explode three seconds after being picked) and heckle-berries (which…you know). When Prince Florian arrives with roses, Princess Amanita loves their thorns, but of course, things go downhill and a danger-loving princess must save herself from what might be too much danger after all.

 

YOU’RE EXCITED ABOUT…
Keep reading for interesting articles, and covers and dates for new releases. We love to have your contributions—and we are happy to hear about things we might have missed. Please send the news to (help at sirensconference.org).

Interesting Links:

How fairytales grew up,” Marina Warner in The Guardian.

Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier shortlisted for the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards 2015.

A discussion about the Arabian Nights stories, via SurLaLune.

The History and Modern Relevance of Fairy Tales,” an interview with Ellen Kushner, Maria Tatar, and Marina Warner.

Omenana, for speculative fiction writers from across Africa and the African Diaspora.

The Radical Joanna Russ.”

Ursula LeGuin presented with Lifetime Achievement Award, and then SPEAKS.

Top Ten Reasons Girls Should Read Fantasy” by Cinda Williams Chima.

2014 World Fantasy Awards.

How Sleeping Beauty is Accidentally the Most Feminist Animated Movie Disney Ever Made.”

Fall 2014 issue of Interfictions.

 

New Releases:

December2014Collage

Click the image for a closer look at the covers.

Stitching Snow, R. C. Lewis (October 14)
The Future Falls, Tanya Huff (November 4)
The Retribution of Mara Dyer, Michelle Hodkin (November 4)
The Halcyon Bird, Kat Beyer (November 11)
The Name of the Blade, Zoë Marriott (November 11)
The Last Changeling, Jane Yolen (November 28)

Ticker, Lisa Mantchev (December 1)

Boundary, Heather Terrell (December 2)
The King’s Deryni, Katherine Kurtz (December 2)
Wickedly Wonderful, Deborah Blake (December 2)
Darkness Falls, Keri Arthur (December 2)
No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Mercedes Lackey (December 2)
The Vault, Emily McKay (December 2)
Seduction, Molly Cochran (December 2)
City of Eternal Night, Kristen Painter (December 2)
Ravencliffe, Carol Goodman (December 2)

Suspicion, Alexandra Monir (December 9)
The Lady, K. V. Johansen (December 9)
Gathering Darkness, Morgan Rhodes (December 9)
Princess of Thorns, Stacey Jay (December 9)

Myth and Magic: Queer Fairy Tales, ed. Radclyffe and Stacia Seaman (December 16)
Cold Hillside, Nancy Baker (December 16)

No Life But This, Anna Sheehan (December 18)

The Dress Shop of Dreams, Menna Van Praag (December 30)
Stonehill Downs, Sarah Remy (December 30)

 

SIRENS REVIEW SQUAD
SeaofTimeMortal Heart
Robin LaFevers

There aren’t enough stars in the sky to show much I loved Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (no way is five enough)! I haven’t had a book touch me so personally since reading The Mists of Avalon back in 1998.

But before I get into why this book affected me the way it did, a little explanation of the story. Mortal Heart is the third and final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy. The trilogy centers on a convent of nuns in medieval France who are devoted to one of the nine old gods of Brittany, Mortain, the god of death. As Death’s handmaidens they are trained to be assassins to carry out His will. This fictional setup is blended seamlessly with actual historical events of the time, namely a 13-year-old duchess’ fight to keep Brittany independent from the French.

Each book is told from a different character’s point of view, but is part of a continuing story. The first book, Grave Mercy, is told from Ismae’s point of view and is very much about politics and court intrigue. The second, Dark Triumph, is Sybella’s story, one of adventure and heart-pounding action. In Mortal Heart, Annith finally gets to tell her story, one of romance, love, and faith. (If you haven’t read the rest of the series, start with Grave Mercy. You’ll be lost if you pick up with Mortal Heart.)

Throughout all of the other books, Annith has patiently waited in the convent where she was raised for her turn to be sent out to do Mortain’s work, which is her life-long dream. She’s watched Ismae and Sybella be sent out before her, even though she is the most skilled. When she finds out that the abbess has other plans for her, ones that involve her never leaving the convent, she must make a decision whether to obey the rules as she has always done, or seek Mortain’s will on her own. Her choice leads her on a journey not even the convent seeresss could have predicted, revealing long-held secrets that threaten to unravel everything she’s ever believed about herself and the convent and send her straight into the arms of Death himself.

Being a fan of love stories and fantasy, as well as someone who is fascinated by religion, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that this my favorite book of the series. It delves much more deeply into the religion and mythology of the series, placing a truly devoted nun, Annith, at the fore. As someone who used to want to be a nun (although, not the assassin kind), I deeply related to Annith. I understand what it’s like to “be in love with” your God, to want to do his will more than anything else in the world, as well as the frustration of not understanding how you’re supposed to bring this cherished dream to fruition. Add to this that the old gods are based on the Celtic pantheon (which is near and dear to my heart), and that this book deals with the intersection of the old religion and Christianity, and how the gods and mortals interact, and you have what is personally for me, a life-changing book.

But I also realize that most people won’t have this personal connection to the book. Even if you don’t relate to it on the level I do, I believe you will be moved by the themes of love, trust, faith, and hope—things we all struggle with, no matter what our personal beliefs are. Mortal Heart is also very much about the lengths to which we are willing to go for those we love, and the impact of the secrets that each and every one of us carry around with us. There is something for everyone in this richly layered tale of devotion, love, and adventure.

Maybe it’s because this is the final book in the trilogy, but I felt like I was much more a part of the world of this book than in the previous books. It was a joy to see Ismae, Sybella, and Annith together again and learn the final resolution of the political situation I’ve been invested in since the first book. I also loved getting to see the inner workings of some of the other orders devoted to the old gods.

There is so much more I want to say about this book, but I can’t because it involves spoilers for key plot points. Please trust me on how wonderful this book is and give it, and the series, a chance. Even though it’s marketed as YA, it certainly doesn’t read like a YA book. To me it’s a wonderful historical fantasy perfect for those who love their fantasy with strong female characters, unlikely love, a bit of mystery, and a dash of danger. – Nicole Evelina


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

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).

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).

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).

Presented by Narrate Conferences, Inc.

 

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December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2016
December, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March

2015
November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2014
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, March, February, January

2013
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2012
December, November, October, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2011
December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2010
December, November, September, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

2009
December, November, August, July, June, May, April, March, February, January

 

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