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

In this issue:


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!


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.


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!)


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.


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

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:


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)


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

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