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Tough Traveling: Curses!

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The Thursday feature “Tough Traveling” is the brainchild of Nathan ofReview Barn, who has come up with the excellent idea of making a new list each week based on the most common tropes in fantasy, as seen in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynn Jones. Nathan has invited anyone who is interested to come play along, so be sure to check out the first link for more information. Compulsive list-maker that I am, I’m very excited to take part!

This week’s tour topic is: CURSES

CURSES are long-standing ill-wishings which, in Fantasyland, often manifest as semi-sentient. They have to be broken or dispelled. The method varies according to the type and origins of the Curse: {Can include}

- Curses on lands, Curses on families, Curses on BUILDINGS, Curses on RINGS and SWORDS, Curses on people, Curses with conditions.

 Mogsy’s Picks

The Godless USThe Godless by Ben Peek

After a war between the gods, their dead and dying laid scattered across the world becoming part of the forests, mountains, and other features of the land. Since then, men and women have awakened with strange and spectacular powers that are derived from the fallen gods’ bodies. Ayae, the young apprentice of a cartographer is one such individual, who discovers she is “cursed” after emerging completely unharmed from the flames that devoured her shop.

TiganaTigana by Guy Gavriel Kay

In this book, a whole land and all of its people are cursed! When Brandin the sorceror’s son is slain in a battle with the principality of Tigana, he destroys the remnants of their army in his grief, but doesn’t stop there. After burning their books and demolishing their structures, he makes it that no one born in there can even speak, hear or remember the land’s name.

ChangesDresden Files by Jim Butcher

There are curses aplenty in the Dresden Files series. A type of dark magic, there’s a particularly nasty one called the “death curse” which is a wizard’s last spell. Another type of curse is the entropy curse, which causes luck to turn against the victim. There are also hereditary or bloodline curses that kill everyone related to the person cursed, no matter how distant the connection.

The Curse of ChalionThe Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold

A debilitating curse hangs over the royal family of Chalion, one that can only be drawn back by the gods through the will of someone who lays down his life three times for the House of Chalion. Cazaril accepts a position as a tutor for the Royesse Iselle, half-sister to the king, and in doing so finds himself drawn into the mysteries of the curse.

London FallingLondon Falling by Paul Cornell

This book has an example of one of the most bizarre “curses” I’ve ever encountered. While on a case, a team of police officers discovers a connection between a series of child abductions and a long-standing curse related the West Ham Football Club, caused by a witch who kills any soccer player who scores a hat trick against her favorite team.

e2cd8-theleopardThe Leopard by K.V. Johansen

This first part of the Marakand duology introduces us to Ahjvar, the assassin also known as the Leopard. Ahjvar is bound by a horrible curse and he  only wants to die, taking the burden to his grave. That changes when he is offered an opportunity to complete a mission on behalf of a goddess, who promises to free him from his curse if he succeeds.

Wendy’s Picks

Paladin of SoulsPaladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold

The curse that plagued Chalion has been lifted and Lady Ista freed from her god-touched state, but the gods aren’t done with her yet! Her travels take her to another kingdom suffering from a plague of sorcery, and Ista must choose whom to sacrifice in order to free them.

the last wish the witcherThe Last Wish by Andrzej Sapkowski

No better place to find curses than in fairy tales. But sometimes, the stories that are told at night don’t tell you who the true monsters are, such as king whose infidelities turned his daughter into a striga or the beast and his deadly beauty.

37600-anaturalhistoryofdragonsA Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

Dragons are attacking the village, and, shortly after the “outsiders” visit the ancient ruins, ominous signs appear. Surely it is the curse of the twisted dragon king! Well, maybe it’s not, but you know those pesky villagers and their pitchforks, ready to chase away anyone who disrupts their quiet way of life by bringing on the wrath of undead demons.

King of ThornsKing of Thorns by Mark Lawrence

The thing about eating a necromancer’s heart is that, with great power over the undead, comes some pretty haunting ghosts, the results of Jorg’s not so nice deeds.

Tour Review + GIVEAWAY! The Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey

***Be sure to check out the giveaway at the end of this review for a chance to win a copy of THE BLOODBOUND!***

The BloodboundThe Bloodbound by Erin Lindsey

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Series: Stand Alone

Publisher: Ace (September 30, 2014)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Erin Lindsey is also E.L. Tettensor, author of the mystery-fantasy Darkwalker that I enjoyed so much last year. So needless to say, I was really excited to read her new novel The Bloodbound, a sword and sorcery adventure with a more romantic bent.

The book introduces readers to Alix Black, a soldier and scout in the king’s host. I always enjoy it when I come across fantasy stories that feature both men and women fighters, and seeing someone like Alix, who is a noblewoman of a sort, in the army is doubly refreshing. Despite being one of the Greater Houses, the power and influence of the Blacks have waned over the years, leaving only Alix and her older brother Rig. Alix has left the life of luxury behind, trading in her gowns and lavish balls for leathers and her blood blade, swearing her service to King Erik.

But what she didn’t expect was actually becoming Erik’s bodyguard. When the king is betrayed on the battlefield by his own brother Prince Tomald, Alix rescues Erik and is named his protector. Leaving her comrades in the scouts behind, Alix becomes Erik’s personal guard but also a trusted confidante as the two grow closer. Complicating matters is Alix’s relationship with her former fellow scout and more-than-just-a-friend Liam, but what is a loyal soldier to do when her sovereign ruler requires her protection and the fate of their entire kingdom rests on the outcome of a brutal war?

While The Bloodbound might not be breaking new ground, it has all the ingredients for a winning fantasy novel. It has a strong female protagonist, who is deadly capable without being a cutting, embittered warrior. No damsels in distress here; we see a gender role reversal from the norm, with Alix doing her fair share of the rescuing, saving Erik’s kingly hide time and time again. There’s also an intriguing, fast-paced plot involving a traitorous royal brother and an invading foreign army. The world building is also rich but subtle, with plenty of the magic, history and politics of the book’s world getting through to the reader without ever becoming overbearing. And then, of course, there’s the romance.

I’ll admit, I had my reservations when I first encountered the love triangle. Torn between Erik and Liam who have both expressed their true feelings to her, Alix knows that eventually she will have to choose between them. But love is not as important as duty when you’re a king, a noblewoman, or even a common soldier who may be more than he appears. Meanwhile, a usurper threatens to take the throne and an attacking enemy force has the dark magical power to do great evil, so the Alix-Liam-Erik situation is further muddled by political need.

While I knew going in that The Bloodbound would have strong emphasis on romance, the love triangle still threw me off a little. Considered a staple of the Young Adult novel, at first I wasn’t sure how I felt to see it in my adult epic fantasy. However, after pondering the matter, I realized that even though love triangles are a common trope, my problems that stem from them have nothing to do with the love triangles themselves, but actually how they are written. Erin Lindsey ends up avoiding a lot of the common pitfalls, opting to forego the angst and melodrama, sparing me a lot of frustration and eye-rolling. Without the drawn-out dramatics of your typical love triangle, I ended up enjoying this one quite a bit. The romance is almost in perfect balance with the rest of the novel, and doesn’t distract too much from the overall bigger story.

All in all, this makes The Bloodbound a very special book. It mixes the modern with the classic, with the result being an epic fantasy type novel that would also be very easy to get into for fans of YA romance or Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance. An engaging love story is something I feel is missing in a lot of epic fantasy, so this book worked very well for me. It gives equal weight to both the romance and the fantasy world-building elements.

All told, this is a very well-written novel that I believe has wide appeal as well as the potential to connect with many kinds of readers. It can be read as a standalone, with a satisfying story and no cliffhangers, though it does keep the door open for future possibilities. I love the author’s style: simple and elegant, which is how I like it. No matter what name she writes under, I’m a fan.

4 stars

A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to Ace Books!

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THE BLOODBOUND GIVEAWAY

The Bloodbound

Here’s what you’ve been waiting for! We have one print copy of The Bloodbound up for grabs in this giveaway to one lucky winner. As per the publisher’s policy, this giveaway is open to residents of the US only. Entering is super easy, all you have to do is send an email to bibliosanctum@gmail.com with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “BLOODBOUND” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Friday, October 10, 2014.

Only one entry per household, please. The winner will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner and sending them their book. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.

So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!

Waiting on Wednesday Banner

Waiting on Wednesday 10/01/14

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that lets us feature upcoming releases that we can’t wait to get our hands on!

Mogsy’s Pick:

Clash of Iron by Angus WatsonApril 14, 2015 (Orbit)

You might have seen my adoring review for Age of Iron last week, so it should be no surprise that I’m itching to get my hands on the sequel. Barring any delays, the release date is apparently only about six months away! *fist pump*

Clash of Iron“The second book in Angus Watson’s epic Iron Age fantasy trilogy.

LEADERS ARE FORGED IN THE FIRES OF WAR

Iron Age warriors Dug and Lowa captured Maidun castle and freed its slaves. But now they must defend it.

A Roman invasion is coming from Gaul, but rather than uniting to defend their home, the British tribes go to battle with each other — and see Maidun as an easy target.

Meanwhile, Lowa’s spies infiltrate Gaul, discovering the Romans have recruited British druids. And Maidunite Ragnall finds his loyalties torn when he meets Rome’s charismatic general, Julius Caesar.

War is coming. Who will pay its price?” 

Mogsy’s Fall Reading List + WWEnd Reading Challenge Update

As ever, I’m going to keep doing seasonal reading lists because they’ve become something of a tradition, but I’ll be tackling them somewhat differently this time around. I still have a lot of personal reading/purchased books to get to and a bunch more to read towards my Worlds Without End Reading Challenge goals, but until I get caught up a bit on review books, making these ambitious reading lists that are 10+ to dozens of titles long is going to be futile (I only managed to polish off a paltry 7 out of 19 books on my Summer Reading List)!

I’m going to take a page from Wendy this time around and keep Fall’s list short, sweet and manageable. I sense a theme coming on here. I call this my “Countdown to…” list:

A New Dawn  War Crimes  The Masked Empire  Last Flight

Care to guess why? If you answered they’re all books related to major TV or video games releases this fall, you’d be correct. It’s my way of tiding myself over while counting down the days to some great things in the next couple of months. A New Dawn is the prequel for the television series Star Wars Rebels that I’m really looking forward to check out. I also need to catch up with the latest World of Warcraft novel before the next expansion Warlords of Draenor comes out. Same goes for the Dragon Age novels, before DA: Inquisition hits shelves this fall.

So, I should have plenty of time to fit those in before the end of December rolls around. If you’re curious about what my reading list looks like for the more immediate future though, behold my October Priority TBR:

October tbrDaring  Willful Child  Ancillary Sword  Broken Monsters

I expect to be getting to most of these this month (I’m not so delusional as to believe I’ll get to ALL of them…but I can try!) so keep an eye out for the reviews.

Now for the WWEnd Reading Challenge updates. At the beginning of the year, my co-bloggers and I decided to participate in their Roll-Your-Own Challenge and I chose to do three:  the Women of Genre Fiction Challenge, the Young Adult Reading Challenge, and the Read the Sequel challenge.

The titles I’ve chosen towards these goals have changed somewhat, due to various factors like new releases, availability of the books at the library, and of course, WWEnd updating their database so that a lot more options are open to me now, and I was able to redo my lists using a lot of the books I’ve reviewed earlier this year.

WWEnd Women of Genre FictionWWEnd YAWWEnd Read the SequelTechnically, I’m pretty sure I’ve completed all the challenges already. In spite of the expansion to their database, it’s still not comprehensive and there are a bunch of titles I would have liked to put on that aren’t up there. But the way I see it, 2014’s still far from over, and that just keeps giving me something to work towards.

Angry Robot Backlist Boost: An Interview with Cassandra Rose Clarke

Cassandra Rose ClarkeEarlier this year I got an email from Angry Robot about their Backlist Boost, and I loved the idea. After all, we always hear so much about the new and upcoming books, it can be easy to forget there’s a whole trove of wonderful preceding titles that deserve more attention too.

A book and author that came to mind immediately was The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I read this wonderful novel earlier this year, and in case you missed it, here’s my review. So much has happened since its publication, including a nomination for the Philip K. Dick Award as well as new books and deals for Cassandra, so it’s great to be able to catch up. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming her to The BiblioSanctum and I hope you enjoy the interview!

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Mogsy: Hello, Cassandra! Welcome to the BiblioSanctum and thanks for joining us today!

Cassandra Rose Clarke: Glad to be here!

M: As part of Angry Robot’s Backlist Boost feature, I’d love to talk to you about The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, a book I read and enjoyed earlier this year – and one that I feel is deserving of a lot more attention! For those not familiar with it, can you tell us a bit more about the book?

45739-themadscientist27sdaughterCRC: The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is a science fiction fairy tale that follows the relationship between Cat, a human woman, and Finn, a life-like android her father brings home when she’s a child. They grow up together, but when Cat becomes an adult, she’s forced to confront what her relationship with Finn really means.

M: From Romeo and Juliet to Cat and Finn, I have a weakness for tales of forbidden love. What made you want to explore this theme?

CRC: I’ve always loved forbidden love, too! In particular I like forbidden love that comes from the characters themselves, where they’re sabotaging their own happiness because of their own biases and misperceptions (as opposed to the sort where the relationship is challenged from the outside). That was one of the big things I wanted to explore with MSD—what are the emotional and moral considerations of being in love with an android?

But at the same time, I also just wanted to tell an epic, angsty love story. One of the big inspirations for this book was actually gothic romances like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights—I wanted to capture the feel of those books in a science fiction milieu.

M: Finn is an interesting character, being a completely sentient robot that looks and acts human, but at the same time he is specifically programmed to help perform duties for his owners. Did you draw inspiration from anywhere when writing his character?

CRC: Probably my biggest inspiration for Finn was Data, from Star Trek: The Next Generation. I was rewatching the series during the same period that I was working on the book, and it got me thinking about the idea of robots wanting to be human, or wanting to experience human emotion. Part of me wonders why they would want to experience such a thing—it seems like human hubris to assume that a robot, our creation, is automatically going to want to be like us. (Our flesh and blood children don’t turn out like us most of the time.) So with Finn, I was interested in writing a character who did not want to be human but instead had humanity foisted on him by the people around him, including people that he loved and cared for—it wasn’t enough for him to love them as a robot, but he had to love them as a person, too. It ties back into my wanting to look at the implications of falling in love with a robot.

M: Cat ends up in a pretty tough place, torn between her feelings for Finn and knowing that their future together is uncertain. There are a lot of intense, heart-wrenching emotions involved on all sides. Did that present any interesting writing challenges?

CRC: I loooooove writing emotional scenes like that. I find most people, when they’re writing, have certain scenes they write toward, “candy” scenes that help them get through the connecting scenes they may not be as excited about. The heart-wrenching scenes were my candy scenes. I tend to get really emotionally invested in my books and in my characters, and there’s something so cathartic about throwing characters together and having them bounce off each other the way they do in The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. It’s like watching a sad movie. Sometimes you just want to cry at the end of something.

Android ABCs
A pic of one of Mogsy’s favorite shirts (sorry, it just seemed so perfect to include it here): Know Your Android ABCs

M: What are your favorite books, movies, shows, stories, etc. about robots, androids, cyborgs and automatons?

CRC: I really like Data on Star Trek, as I talked about above. I also love the synthetics in the Alien movies. There are four of them total and they all have different personalities, different motivations, different levels of self-awareness, and different ways of interacting with the humans around them. I think it’s interesting how what’s essentially a twist in the first movie (“He’s a damn robot!”) became an integral part of the mythology of the series later on. In terms of written robots, one of the best robot stories I’ve ever read is a story called “The Robot’s Twilight Companion,” by Tony Daniels. It’s about a robot-robot, as opposed to an android, and it’s absolutely harrowing and heart-breaking.

M: Of course, you have written a lot of other works, including several Young Adult novels that were published by Strange Chemistry. Briefly can you tell us about those books? 

CRC: The YA books are considerably different from Mad Scientist’s Daughter! They’re a series of YA adventure fantasies, the first of which is called The Assassin’s Curse. The book follows the adventures of a pirate named Ananna as she gets tangled up with an accursed assassin named Naji. It is another love story, though!

The first two books in the series form a duology. The third book in the series, The Wizard’s Promise, is the start of a new duology about Hanna, a young fisherman’s apprentice who was named after Ananna and seeks to live up to her namesake. She gets thrown into her own adventure, too! Sadly, plans for completing the duology are up in the air due to the closing of Strange Chemistry this year, although I do hope to finish the series eventually. I really love the characters and the world and want to return to it soon.

cee1d-theassassin27scurse  The Pirate's Wish  The Wizard's Promise

M: I’m an avid reader of adult speculative fiction but I’m also a firm believer that the Young Adult genre should not be overlooked. What are some great things about writing YA? You bio also states The Mad Scientist’s Daughter was your first adult novel. Were there any interesting new experiences?

CRC: I actually wrote The Mad Scientist’s Daughter before I wrote my YA series! I began the YA series as a challenge to myself—not to write YA specifically (I wasn’t really thinking about the age group) but to write something plot-driven and centered around adventure and general awesomeness. Having gone through a graduate creative writing program, I was most comfortable with interior-driven literary fiction. Writing The Assassin’s Curse was definitely interesting. One of the biggest differences was that I had to do a lot more rewriting and re-outlining than I did with The Mad Scientist’s Daughter, which more or less came to me wholesale. But it was so satisfying to see The Assassin’s Curse finally come together in the end.

To answer your first question, one of the great things about writing YA, particularly speculative YA, is that you don’t feel as beholden to certain tropes and expectations they way you might in adult science fiction. There’s a lot more rule-breaking that goes in YA that’s a lot of fun to write.

M: I saw recently on your site that you had signed a new book deal with Saga Press. Congratulations! What’s the new book or other projects can we look forward to from you in the future?

CRC: Thank you so much! The new book is another adult novel about robots, although it’s much different in its scope and approach than The Mad Scientist’s Daughter. Its called Our Lady of the Ice and it follows four people living in a domed Argentine colony in Antarctica as various factions—robots, humans in favor of Independence, gangsters—struggle for control of the city. I had a lot of fun writing this one and I can’t wait until its out in the world, which should be fall of next year.

NaNoWriMoM: I also saw that you were a NaNoWriMo participant! Wrapping things up here, are there any parting words of wisdom you want to share with those (including myself and my co-bloggers!) who will be heading into NaNo this November, or any writing advice in general?

CRC: NaNo is great! The funny thing is that, while I have written 50K on one project in a month (Mad Science Daughter was such a project), I’ve never officially “won” NaNo. Yet I still join up every year, because I love the community that builds up around it! I think anyone interested in writing should participate in NaNo at least once. For those of you who already planning to participate, I think the best thing to remember is that even if you “lose,” you really didn’t. I mean, you still got some words down, right? Whether it’s 50K or 50, you’ve got started on a story, and that’s what counts.

Thanks so much again, Cassandra! It was awesome chatting with you! For more information about Cassandra Rose Clarke and her books, please visit her website at:

http://www.cassandraroseclarke.com

Wendy’s Fall Reading List

I’m just finishing up the last book on my Summer Reading List, but since the outdoors currently look like this:

BydYkF-CUAEysdB

It’s about time I get started on my Fall Reading List. I’m still working on that to-read pile beside my bed, with a focus on my various Worlds Without End Roll-Your-Own Reading Challenges. But with life getting busier and busier with all my commitments, I’m going to keep this list short and sweet and manageable.

80628-emperorofthornsmy soul to keepparable of the sower by octavia butlermidsummer night aetherial tales freda warrington

 

Emperor of Thorns continues my obsession with Mark Lawrence’s Jorg of Ancrath, while Parable of the Sower continues my obsession with the works of the incredible Octavia E. Butler. I really enjoyed book one of Fred Warrington’s Aetherial Tales, so it’s time for me to read the sequel for my challenge. My Soul to Keep fulfills several challenges.

My Goodreads challenge says I’m about eight books behind on my 150 book goal, but that’s okay. I think I’ve done pretty well this year, considering all of my other commitments. And the year’s not over yet!

 

 

 

Lootz: Mogsy’s Book Haul

Welcome to this biweekly feature where I showcase all the books I bought/won/received for review in the past fortnight. First, the physical pile:

Book Haul 8

Fiend - Requested from Blogging for Books because I wanted to give their program a try, plus I found out recently that this is a zombie book! I love zombie books, but they tend to be hit or miss with me, so I hope this one will be good.

Silverblind Last year one of the first books Tor ever sent me unsolicited was Copperhead, and even though it was the second in a series and I hadn’t read Ironskin, I gave it a shot. To my delight, it was pretty enjoyable! This year Tor once again  surprised me when they sent Silverblind, book three. Since I was able to jump on board book two with no problems, I may just check out this follow-up.

Falling Sky My thanks to Pyr for sending the finished copy of this along, and I’m reminded I should probably read this one soon!

The Free - Two surprises from Orbit Books landed on my doorstep a couple weeks ago, the first being The Free, a title that that had previously escaped my notice until it popped up on NetGalley last month. At the time, I knew too little about the book to put it on my to-read list, but now my interest is piqued and I just might fit it in if I have time.

War Dogs – The second surprise from Orbit, this book might prove to be too “hard sci-fi” for me, but I’ve never read Greg Bear and I’ve always been curious. We actually own a boatload of Bear’s books because my husband was apparently quite a fan of his before we got married, and I know he’s already eyeing my ARC.

WoW

Here’s also something different this week that I want to feature. Obviously I’m a avid reader, but I’m also an artist and a gamer, so it probably won’t be a surprise to know I’m a collector of art books, especially from video games. My friend Brian sent me these beauties that he was originally going to toss or bring to the used bookstore, and I was more than happy to take them in and give them a good home! I have played/do play Warcraft and World of Warcraft, and I have to say the art team at Blizzard are always phenomenal.

Not too much to see in the digital pile this week, because I didn’t request or buy anything. The NetGalley TBR is starting to grow out of hand again and let’s face it, it’s not even October but I’ve already put together my reading list for the month and I’d be lucky to get through it as it is. But I did finally get approved for this one book:

Broken Monsters

Broken Monsters - after sitting as “pending” for weeks, my request finally got approved one day before the book’s release date, but Mulholland also gave me auto-approval! I’ve been looking forward to this for a while, so I’m excited – and I think it will be a great horror/suspense book to read closer to Halloween.

A Book Blog for Speculative Fiction, Graphic Novels… and more!

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