Waiting on Wednesday: Deathsworn by Leah Cypress

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

leah cypress

Learn more

coming march 4, 2014

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

c.j.'s thoughts

So, I was trawling the 2014 young adult releases on Goodreads and I stumbled across this gem.  Deathsworn, I thought.  That sounds like fantasy.  To my incredible glee, it is!  And not only fantasy, it's high fantasy.  Which just happens to be my favorite genre, and something painfully underrepresented in young adult fiction (which is why I give so much credit to Sarah J. Maas for Throne of Glass, not to mention it's a kickass book).  Deathsworn promises a clever and capable heroin, assassins (which, come on, they're awesome; just ask Naji from another of my favorites, The Assassin's Curse by Cassandra Rose Clarke), magic (I LOVE MAGIC), and a romance that is mentioned but does not take up the entire book blurb.  Which means there might actually be a PLOT.  So yes, I'm thrilled for this book and will be stalking ARCs eagerly.  Even if it breaks the one-word title rule.  

Side question:  Has anyone read Leah Cypress' other work?  She appears to have a ton of it.  

Announcement: I'm out of hiding!


Hi, lovely friends and readers.  In case you were wondering, I was not, in fact, kidnapped, drugged, and forced to perform clarinet solos for a kingly underground bear.  I've just been in the midst of some academic chaos.  Which might be worse than the clarinet.  

However, I've gotten through the inherent depressive slump that accompanies academic chaos and I'm ready to get posting.  I have five (yes, FIVE) books all ready to be reviewed, so get ready for an onslaught of bookish opinions!  

I've missed you all, and I hope that you'll forgive me my somewhat abrupt absence. 



Giveaway: June New Release Hop (INT)

welcome to the june new release giveaway! 

In collaboration with Book Twirps, I'm giving away a June new young adult release from the Book Depository or Amazon!  

Don't forget to go to the rest of the hop for more great prizes! 

International as long as TBD ships to your country! 

This giveaway will run until June 30th 

This giveaway is open to anyone whom Book Depository ships to.  

The winner of the giveaway must respond to my winner e-mail within 48 hours to claim the prize. 

Thanks for stopping by!  


Book News: Young Authors Give Back Panel

                      young authors give back

This summer, four brave and lovely young adult authors embarked on a grand quest:  road trip across the United States to hold workshops for young, aspiring writers.  The authors were Sarah J. Maas (my writing idol and author of Throne of Glass), Susan Dennard (author of Something Strange and Deadly), Erin Bowman (author of Taken), and Kat Zhang (author of What's Left of Me).  

I was flabbergasted and amazed that I got to go.  Author tours don't usually hit my area, so it was like a dream come true.  Not to mention, these are all authors of books I either already love or have been dying to read.  They're authors whose careers I've been following on the blogosphere.  I spent the car ride there in a giddy stupor and nearly died when, as I waited with my computer in the back of the bookstore, Susan Dennard passed me.  Then nearly died again when Sarah recognized me from Sarcasm and Lemons.  Then again when Susan and I bonded over the unnecessary presence of Tom Bombadill while waiting for the cafe.  It was seriously one of the best days I've had, and one of the most inspiring steps in my writing career.  

Didn't get to go?  Here are some highlights from the queens of YA.  Keep in mind that these are from my notes.  

Ask why questions.  Why is the world this way?  Why would this character do this thing?
Use what you know to ground fiction in reality.  That means you can write outside of what you know--because somewhere, you have an experience that can relate.  

Listen to inspiration music.  People watch.  Read great books.  

Try writing freeform.  Or, try an outline.  Write out the whole chain of events or pick a few big ones and write around them.  Try a bunch and see what works for you.  

Set goals you can control.  I will submit to 10 agents, not I will get 10 requests for fulls. 

Find a critique partner who works for you and will do the level of critique you want.  Trade a few pages first and see if you're a good fit for each other.  

Carve out writing time, no matter what.  

Practice writing pitches.  And synopses.  And check out Susan Dennard's fantastic guide for help.  

Don't query all your favorites at once.  Try some and then rework the query if it's not working.  

Always be working on something.  While you're querying one project, be writing the next.  

Stop comparing yourself to other writers.  You're unique.  That's a good thing.  

Don't give up.  

Wonder what they like to read?  Some of their most loved authors and YA books.  Because I asked, and they have good taste.  

Robin Hobb 
Melina Marchetta 
Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity
Rainbow Rowell (Fangirl
Jandy Nelson (The Sky is Everywhere
Garth Nix (Sabriel


Waiting on Wednesday: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Waiting on Wednesday

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a feature hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine to feature yet-to-be-released books.

sarah j. maas

Learn more

coming august 27, 2013

After a year of hard labor in the Salt Mines of Endovier, eighteen-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien has won the king's contest to become the new royal assassin. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown – a secret she hides from even her most intimate confidantes.

Keeping up the deadly charade—while pretending to do the king's bidding—will test her in frightening new ways, especially when she's given a task that could jeopardize everything she's come to care for. And there are far more dangerous forces gathering on the horizon -- forces that threaten to destroy her entire world, and will surely force Celaena to make a choice.

Where do the assassin’s loyalties lie, and who is she most willing to fight for?

c.j.'s thoughts

I have borderline inappropriate affections for Throne of Glass.  I mean, not really.  I just love it in a way that I haven't loved a YA fantasy since the glory days of Tamora Pierce, as you might notice from my glowing review and the fact that I've featured it at least once.  I also happen to adore the author, but that came later.  What struck me was the authenticity of the first book and how closely it stuck to traditional high fantasy while still being fun and new.  I think sometimes, fantasy authors these days try so hard to be original that they avoid any cliches that might brand them "trite."  This means getting rid of wizards, assassins, evil empires, dragons, etc.  Sure, that's okay.  You don't want to rewrite The Lord of the Rings.  But there's no reason you can't stick to elements people love and make them fresh.  That's what Maas did in book one, along with a badass female heroine and an appropriately-paced love interest.  I'm dying for book two and I hope to see some of the same thrills, adventure, and tight writing.  


Musing: Just watched the Game of Thrones season finale

George R.R. Martin
just destroyed
my soul. 


Review: Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor


title:  Daughter of Smoke and Bone

author:  Laini Taylor

pages: 432

format: Hardcover

isbn/asin: 0316134023

buy it: Amazon  Goodreads  B&N

rating: 4/5 [in the genre] or 7.5/10 [all books I’ve ever read].

recommended for:  Fans Cassandra Clare (e.g. City of Bones),  tragic romance, exceptional worldbuilding, and angels and demons. 

My Ratings Explained

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When one of the strangers—beautiful, haunted Akiva—fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

the basics
I went into this book expecting to fall madly in love with it.  I did, and then I didn't.  The writing is gorgeous, like something out of a poem but with more edge and more accessibility.  The characters are witty, rich, and authentic.  The back story and worldbuilding is some of the best and most unique I've seen in fantasy, hands down.  I drank up the atmosphere like a drug--you know, the kind you drink?--and giggled with thrills from how clever it was, how interesting the chimaera and the teeth and the wishes, how eerie and beautiful and rich the world and the plot.  I loved absolutely everything--until I got to the romance.  

Then I wanted to kill it with fire.  The twist is crazy and clever and wildly cool, but instead of sloughing off the stain of insta-romance for me, it just gave me another instance of insta-romance.  I would have loved everything about this book if the initial romance had built up realistically, but I found myself groaning over another Romeo and Juliet retelling.  That said, everything else about the book was near perfection and I will be reading the rest of the series and hoping that Taylor's incredible talent will take the sour taste of instalove from my mouth.  But to be fair, it's hardly the worst instance of instalove I've seen, and it could almost be excused as strong attraction at first sight turned love.  So not enough to keep me away from the sequel.  

plot . 4/5
So, you know why that point is gone.  Oh, right.  I see you, I love you, OMGSTARSANDRAINBOWS.  Yeah.  I don't have a problem with attraction at first sight or lust at first sight or liking at first sight, but I felt that the connection between the two characters was a little extra-strong for my taste.  My opinion now isn't as extreme as it was when I first read.  The backstory does excuse the instalove that first irked me.  However, I still would have enjoyed seeing more of how the two characters fall in love rather than being told that they do.  Then I would have been okay with the quick connection, as Veronica Roth brilliantly describes.  Complaints out of the way: this was a well put together book.  The plot unfolds at a good pace, leaving you tantalizing hints that rip you along.  I think the only bad part was the very extended flashback, which yanked me out of the action and sort of made me forget what was going on by the time I got back to the present.  That said, the twist was fantastic, the ending came at a great place, and I had a super hard time putting it down.  

concept . 5/5
Fantastic.  Think you know angels and demons?  Ha.  You a'int seen nothin' yet.  Taylor takes old myths and combines them with dreams from her own imagination, creating a secret world of seraphs and chimaera who inspire the religions of humans but have their own myths and their own wars.  The angels are made out to be kind of bad guys and I'm hoping for more nuance later, but it's a really richly detailed world, so I can't much complain.  The magic system--pain for power--is clever and exciting.  I'm also in love with the concept of the wishes.  

characters . 4/5
Am I the only one not in love with Akiva?  Honestly, I found him to be kind of tritely stoic and self-righteously martyr-y.  Blech.  I loved Karou, though.  I think I loved her even more when she was just the art student.  She's witty and delightful.  A little Mary Sue-ishly beautiful and talented, but I think she has enough faults to keep her likeable.  Brimstone and the other chimaera are some of my favorites.  Especially Kishmish, weirdly enough.  And Zuzanna, the obligatory best friend, is spunky and awesome and given way more screen time than the usual best friend, which I found refreshing.  A main character who actually cares enough about her relationships not to abandon them totally for some hot fantasy guy?  Yes please!  The Madrigal storyline was pretty awesome and I enjoyed her character (while still finding her somewhat naively you-mean-I'm-pretty? annoying), but I wish Taylor hadn't strayed into the mean-homely-girl-jealous-of-pretty-girl trope.    

style . 5/5
Karou is an art student and you can tell that in every inch of her perspective.  The world we're given is colorful, tactile, vibrant.  Taylor layers each page with rich descriptors and unusual phrases that are so spot-on.  It's not overwhelming or purple though, just very beautiful.  

mechanics . 4/5
Like I said, the extended flashback was disorienting.  I would have preferred parallel stories and then later seen how they came together.  

take home message
A vibrant, richly detailed epic of good and evil, with a freshly unique world and unforgettable atmosphere.  

Note: I purchased this copy.  The price of the book and its origin in no way affected my stated opinions.