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Monday, February 28, 2011

February in Review

February is almost behind us, and that means it's time to see what fun and exciting things have happened here at What Book is That? in the past month!




Exciting fruits are already being borne of the Off the Path tree!  Not only did we feature a really fun series of posts on social media by Sasha Soren, author of Random Magic, but we also featured Renee Reardon, author of Moonlight Bleu, and one lucky ready won a copy of the book!  For those who missed the posts the first time around, here's your chance to relive the action:


Off the Path Guest Post: Social Media with Sasha Soren, Part 1
Social Media with Sasha Soren, Episode 2
Social Media with Sasha Soren, Episode 3
Social Media with Sasha Soren, Episode 4
Social Media with Sasha Soren, Episode 5

Off the Path Author Interview: Renee Reardon
Off the Path Guest Post: The Road to Publication with Renee Reardon

Reading Challenge Update: (reviews completed are linked, otherwise, reviews are coming soon!)





Hosted by Dark Faerie Tales, the rules of engagement for this one are to read 24 new paranormal romance novels, and 12 paranormal romance novels of your choice in 2011.  Given how near and dear PNR is to my heart, I'm totally stoked to be participating in this one!
Progress so far:
1. Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh- new book
2. Gideon by Jaquelyn Frank- old book
3. Elijah by Jacquelyn Frank- old book
4. The Vampire Voss by Colleen Gleason- new book
5. This Side of the Grave by Jeaniene Frost- new book
6. Master of Smoke by Angela Knight- old book
7. An Unwanted Hunger by Ciana Stone- old book
8. Dreams of a Dark Warrior by Kresley Cole- new book
9. Eternal Flame by Cynthia Eden- old book

Totals so far: 4/24 new books read, 5/12 old books read






Support Your Local Library Challenge: 50 books checked out from the library, crossovers okay.
Progress so far:
1. When He Was Bad by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden
2. Deep, Dark and Dangerous by Jaid Black




Shifter Challenge: read 20 books that feature a shifter as the main character, crossovers okay.
Progress so far:
1. When He Was Bad by Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden
2. Yours, Mine and Howls by Kinsey W. Holley
3. Elijah by Jacqueln Frank
4. Under Her Skin by Jeaniene Frost, Meljean Brook and Ilona Andrews
5. Master of Smoke by Angela Knight



IAD Reading Challenge: follow along to read the whole series in a year!
Progress so far:
January 21: "The Warlord Wants Forever"





Show Me the Free Challenge: read 12 ebooks that I legally obtained and that were free to me.
Progress so far:
1. An Unwanted Hunger by Ciana Stone

Also, I hang my head in shame, I did not meet my reviewing goal for this month.  Better luck next month!

I'm definitely aiming to have a lot more reviews posted in March, and I've been reading a ton of great books lately, which definitely helps!  I also have two more Off the Path authors to feature, as well as a ton of other good stuff!  What's on your horizon in the coming weeks?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Review: An Unwanted Hunger

An Unwanted HungerTitle: An Unwanted Hunger
Author: Ciana Stone
Page Count: short novel length (kindle book)
Publisher: Ellora's Cave
Genre: science fiction romance
Copy for review was obtained as a free read from Amazon by me
Show Me The Free Challenge info: I got this book for free from Amazon on 10/18/10

50 words or less: As a Dhampir, Resa's calling in life is to exterminate Vampyres, including Constantine, even though he makes her heart go pitter pat. When Resa discovers that nothing in her world is what it seems, the possibility of a relationship with Constantine suddenly becomes real.  And as it turns out, everything Resa knew about Vampyres was wrong too...boy howdy...

Let me start off by saying that this book is still a free read over at Amazon, so if the story sounds like something tantalizing and tasty for you, head on over and pick it up absolutely free!

On to the review- As I read this book this morning, I realized I'd completely forgotten what the story was about and why I'd downloaded it back in October.  I figured I'd dive right in and figure things out as I went along.  I realized this was a free read when I went to pull up the product page later in the day.  I'm pleased to say that this story was a pleasant surprise and seems to be the first in at least a trilogy, although I couldn't find any information on those books and what they would be about.

I do need to be fair and honest- this book is all over the place in terms of plot and story elements.  We have the paranormal element represented by the idea of the Vampyres (and I use the word idea very deliberately as nothing is as it seems in the world of this book) the science fiction element represented by Constantine's people and what their secret actually is, the erotic romance element represented by the fact that once Resa and Constantine give in to the attraction between them you need a crowbar to keep them apart, and there are elements of mythology and mystery in there as well.  There is a lot, and I mean a lot, of world building crammed into a relatively short novel, and the names of some of the people and places may be confusing or off-putting to people who aren't keen on those kinds of details in science fiction books.  If you like your plots nice and linear and your storylines straightforward and all your elements introduced in a nice row right in the beginning, then you may not enjoy the setup and delivery of this book.  I'm just saying.

This isn't to say that this is a bad book by any stretch of the imagination.  No, in my opinion, all of these elements worked really well together and jived to form an interesting, unique story.  Resa and Constantine, although they fall together fairly quickly considering all the obstacles they have to face, are a cute and sweet couple who are totally devoted to one another.  The setting and the big reveal about Constantine's people and what's really going on took this book in an entirely different direction from what I was expecting, and not many folks would attempt to take what appears at first blush to be a straightforward vampire PNR in this direction. 

Besides, who can argue with the price!  This book was a fun way to spend a Sunday morning.  I did a lot of searching to try to find the next book in the series and was disappointed that it's not yet available.  I'll definitely stay on the lookout and I'll definitely be reading it when it finally is released.

Overall Grade: A-

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Review: Eternal Flame

Eternal Flame (Night Watch)
Title: Eternal Flame
Author: Cynthia Eden
Page Count: 352 pages
Publisher: Brava
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the fine folks at Paranormal Haven in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less:  Zane Wynter is a Night Watch bounty hunter and a demon-human hybrid whose life was, he thought, relatively simple until Jana Carter, a human firestarter called an Ignitor, walked into it. From there it was all bloodlust and craziness and wait...what's this...a happily ever after?

The Night Watch series rolls on with this third installment, and while I definitely did enjoy this one, don't get me wrong, it didn't grab me quite as intensely as the first two (Eternal Hunter and I'll Be Slaying You) did.

Don't get me wrong- this book was still a lot of fun, very spicy, and the couple had to overcome their share of obstacles in order to have a chance with each other, so the plot moved along at a good pace.  There was just something...different...in this book that didn't quite work for me.

If I had to put my finger on it, I'd blame that on the fact that I don't really understand the concept of the evil entity that seeks to punish paranormals but is, somehow, staffed by self-hating paranormals.  How does this situation happen?  Project Perseus, in this case, plays a central role in the conflicts of the book, and in Jana coming to grips with her past and her version of justice, but I was like, why do these people with powers of their own hate paranormals so much? I know prejudice and bigotry don't play by any logical rules in the real world, but somehow I always find myself wanting a better explanation in the fictional one.

Zane and Jana themselves were good characters- Zane is a snarly alpha with a strong personal moral code and Jana is used to taking care of herself and not relying on others, so they have typical sorts of misunderstandings between them on their road to couplehood.  Both of them have to deal with their hangups, and I appreciate that.

We see some of the past couples make appearances here, as well- Jude and Erin are here in full force, and we get a little glimpse of Simon and Dee as well, and they all seem to be doing well.  The stage is set for future couples in the series as well, and while some folks don't enjoy set up like that, I personally don't mind it

I do, however, want Catalina to freaking take a position and stick to it, instead of starting to make a stand and then running away.  I'm not sure if I'll be excited for her book or not; so far, as a character and as a leading lady she doesn't have a whole lot to recommend it.

If you're a fan of paranormal romance or of this series then I would definitely still read this book,  but I would go into it expecting it to be different from the previous two.  Different doesn't mean bad; it means different, and while maybe Eternal Flame wasn't the rock 'em sock 'em extravaganza I was expecting, it was still worth reading.

Overall Grade: B

Review: This Side of the Grave

This Side of the Grave (Night Huntress, Book 5)Title: This Side of the Grave
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Page Count: 384 pages (although I read my copy on Kindle)
Publisher: Avon
Genre: paranormal romance, urban fantasy
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less: Cat and Bones get out of their own way in this installment and unite, not only as a couple, but as a force against a ghoul uprising when Cat's new abilities threaten to upset the balance between the ghoul and vampire world.

*Warning: this review contains spoilers for previous books in the series.*

I am proud to say that This Side of the Grave is now my favorite book in the Night Huntress series, and not just because it's the most recent one and therefore the most fresh in my mind.  No, the same elements that seem to have, for lack of a better word, disappointed so many other readers- the focus on the relationship, the less intense bad guy, the seemingly slower pace- were actually the elements that made this story my favorite.

I think the reason I enjoyed this story so much was that it resolved and soothed a lot of issues I had with the last two books in the series.  The biggest issues, for me, revolve around the drama that permeated the relationship between Cat and Bones up until this book.  For me, the conflict and pseudo-breakup in Destined For an Early Grave felt forced.  Very, very forced.  I mean, come on people, Cat thought Bones was DEAD in At Grave's End/! Vlad had to literally talk her off the edge in her grief, and she had to prepare herself for having to take on the mantle of leadership that Bones had left behind, and she was given a second chance that she didn't even know existed, and yet these two STILL managed to seriously cock things up to the point of despair just prior to Cat fully completing her change.  For such an explosive couple, both of them had such serious trust and relationship issues that it seemed like they would never a) learn from the past and b) get over this stuff.  A new conflict was definitely needed at this point, and the presence of a united front between Cat and Bones was critical, otherwise frankly, at this point the series would be talking in circles.

The fact that Cat especially did learn from the past and did get over stuff in This Side of the Grave made me forgive and forget all the relationship drama that came before.  Cat is still fiercely independent, headstrong and stubborn (which is why we love her, let's be honest) and Bones is still extremely protective, devoted, and used to being in charge (which is why we love him, let's be honest) but they are able to use these personality traits to make their relationship stronger instead of constantly being in turmoil.

In a way, I think the relationship between these two being so much stronger than it was in past installments is part of what made the conflict with Apollyon and the ghoul uprising seem less intense- it's amazing how much you can get done when you're not fighting two battles at the same time!  I enjoyed the interplay with Marie Laveau and am interested to see how the new goodies she bestowed on Cat will play out in future books.

Overall this book is the perfect bridge between the angsty-yet-still-delicious, running around like crazy people dramafests that were the first four books (and don't get me wrong, I LOVE them, love them love them love them,) and hopefully some new adventures and shenanigans in the upcoming books.  We have four more Night Huntress books to look forward to as well as at least two books in a new series starring Vlad, so there are a whole lot more opportunities for awesome things to happen.

Overall Grade: A

Friday, February 25, 2011

Illustrated Friday: A Dignity of Dragons: Collective Nouns for Magical Beasts

A Dignity of DragonsAhhh this book is GORGEOUS.  It's a simple concept- illustrations of groups of magical creatures and the corresponding name that might be assigned to them, but the illustrations are breathtakingly beautiful and detailed and the variety of creatures represented here made me want to dig out my mythology books.  There's a helpful glossary in the back that identifies all the creatures and tells a little bit about their stories.  This would be an awesome gift for any fan of mythology or anyone with an active imagination.  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

eBites:

Blog With Bite

I've been neglecting my eBites lately, which is a real shame, since there are always some tasty little morsels out there to be discovered. I won't torment you with upcoming titles this week- instead, these two are both released and ready to be devoured!

One Thousand KissesOne Thousand Kisses by Jody Wallace-
When one path closes, another opens—if they survive the journey.

The Fey Realm, Book 2

Embor Fiertag, Primary of the Court, has overcome no tougher challenge than the three facing him right now: get reelected, capture the rogue agents who tried to murder him, and improve his love life. The third one should be easy—except he hasn’t exactly told Court trainee Anisette Serendipity she’s his foretold bondmate. Plus, she’s dating his chief political rival and doesn’t seem to like Embor. At. All.

Ani has good reason to avoid the stern, serious Embor. Her wayward sister almost got him killed once, and now he monitors Ani like he expects her to do worse. But Ani’s not the adventurous type. She can’t even break up with Warran Torval, a man she knows she doesn’t want, a man who spends half his time plotting Embor’s downfall.

When Torval attempts to force a bond with Ani, Embor senses her fear and steps in…directly into an unsavory political strategy gone all too right. Forced to flee together to humanspace with a manipulative magical cat, Embor and Ani must find the courage to reveal—and heal—their vulnerabilities before the fabric between the Fey Realm and humanspace is ripped to shreds.

Warning: This title contains sex, fairy drugs, rampant gnomes, bloodshed, and cats ruling the world. As they should.

Turn It Up: Turner Twins, Book 2 Turn it Up by Vivian Arend-
She wants it. He’s got it…and a whole lot more.

Turner Twins, Book 2

Maxwell Turner considers his stubborn and resourceful attitude a plus. After all, it usually gets him what he wants—except for Natasha Bellingham. The long-time family friend may be ten years older than he, but so what? He’s plenty old enough to know they belong together. Now all he has to do is convince her.

Over the past few years Natasha’s love life has degenerated into a series of bad clich├ęs. Her biological clock is ticking—loudly. As a proven architect with her own house-design company, she’s financially ready for a baby. Who says she needs a permanent man in her life for that? She just needs a “donation”.

When Max discovers Natasha’s future plans include artificial insemination, he’s outraged. She wants to get pregnant? No problem. He’s more than willing to volunteer—no turkey basters involved.

But there’s one non-negotiable clause: He wants forever. And he intends to do everything in his power—fair and unfair—to make it happen.

Warning: This title contains one younger man ready, aimed and hell bent on giving one woman everything she wants. Includes interludes against the wall, in a Jacuzzi, on a car hood and even—shockingly enough—on a bed or two. Oh, and about that porch swing? Yup…

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review: Magic Strikes

Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3)Title: Magic Strikes
Author: Ilona Andrews
Page Count: 310 pages
Publisher: Ace
Genre: urban fantasy
Copy for review was purchased by me

50 words or less:  Kate Daniels is back and trying to infiltrate the Midnight Games, a super secret, super lucrative, super illegal fighting tournament in order to save Derek, the boy werewolf wonder.  If things were only that simple, life would be a lot easier.  Too bad they're not...

I devoured this book over the holidays while I was traveling.  I mean literally devoured, they're calling my flight and I'm not responding, eyes glazed over, not attending to anything around me devoured.  I wised up and bought this book for Kindle so I couldn't accidentally leave it on the plane and therefore would have it to revisit whenever I wanted.  I had high expectations for this book going into it and I wasn't disappointed.

Kate Daniels is probably my favorite urban fantasy heroine.  She is tough as nails, smart, has a snarky sense of humor that I really, really appreciate, but she's not some meathead idiot who can't manage to solve problems or have feelings.  She's complex; she's loyal to her friends and her unorthodox family; she knows that the power she wields can corrupt as easily as it's pulled her fat out of the fire all these times.  She makes mistakes, sometimes big ones; she really, really wants to be loved but doesn't want someone else to have to bear the burden of loving her; she knows that even bigger conflicts perpetually loom on the horizon because of who her father is.

That doesn't stop her from having some seriously intense adventures.  When she finds out that Derek, the young werewolf from the Pack who was sworn to protect her and now does so out of his own free will, has been busted breaking into super creepy Saiman's apartment, she's determined to find out why.

Turns out Derek is in deeper poop than Kate had figured; he was trying to steal tickets to the Midnight Games, an illegal underground fighting tournament that members of the Atlanta Pack are forbidden from entering or even attending.  One thing leads to another and Kate finds herself having to enter the games to fulfill a promise and catch a killer; one by one, the cast of characters we know and love from this series, including Raphael, Andrea, Derek, Jim, and even Curran himself are caught up in the maelstrom.

There are twists and turns in abundance in this story, and we see Kate and Curran growing closer as well.  The development of their relationship from uneasy allies to weird friends to something more is fun to read.  The Midnight Games, too, are more than they appear on the surface.  Kate is a great fighter and her skills are becoming more honed with each battle; the enemies in this book are not to be taken lightly though.

At the end of the book, the stage is set for some delicious developments in the next book- I shotgunned these books one after the other so I can verify that book four lived up to my expectations as well.   If you haven't read this series yet, why not? Do something about that!

Overall Grade: A

Sunday, February 20, 2011

February Full Speed Ahead

Even though it's the shortest month it's hard for me to wrap my mind around there only being a week left in the month of February.  I really need to get cracking and write some freaking posts already, so I'll leave you with two important facts.

 First, I'm guest posting today over at Presenting Lenore as a part of Dystopian February!  I'm posting a dystopian style mashup, and you'll have to head on over to see which character who survived a dystopia has now found herself (oooh, a hint) launched into another book!  Check it out!






The Ultimate Reviewer's Challenge is rolling on, and I need to crack the whip if I'm going to make my goal of 25 reviews posted in the month of February!  Here are some of the titles I'm hoping to review:

Deep, Dark & DangerousArchangel's Consort (Guild Hunter)Gideon (The Nightwalkers, Book 2)Elijah (The Nightwalkers, Book 3)Seeing Eye MateCheckmateWilder's Mate: Bloodhounds, Book 1Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels, Book 3)Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels, Book 4)Ascension: A Dark Breed NovelCold Magic (The Spiritwalker Trilogy)Song of ScarabaeusTempestuous (Wondrous Strange)Motor City WitchOn the Edge (The Edge, Book 1)Blood & Flowers


Time to start reviewing- these plus some surprises should get me to 25. Full speed ahead!
 
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