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Saturday, November 24, 2012

2013 Monthly Key Word Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Bookmark to Blog and all images in this post originate from the challenge post.  Kim has chosen key words to go with each month of the year in 2013 and the challenge is to read a book that lines up with one of the keywords.  Here are the guidelines straight from her:

GUIDELINES

* The title you choose can be a variation on one of the key words. For example- your title could include the word 'snowing' or 'snowflake' even though the key word is 'snow.'

*Key words can be tweaked. For example- You could read "Cinder" or "Ashes" for the key word 'Fire' and that would be just fine. If the key word is 'family' then your title could include the word 'sister' or 'mother.'If the key word is 'food' then your title could include the word 'cake.'

I'm adding another dimension to this challenge for myself, which is that I'll be trying as best I can to read books that I already own, whether they be paper books or Kindle books or whatever. It's kind of ridiculous that I've accumulated so many books.  Don't we all have this problem though? Be honest now.

Anyway, I'll leave you to check out the sign up page for yourself to see the complete list of key words for each month, but I'll make my list here of books that I'll be reading and what keyword they fit with.

January: Fire
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

February: Animal
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer

March: Magic
Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews
Love's Magic by Traci Hall

April: Home
Elfhome by Wen Spencer

May: Shatter
The Shattered Dark by Sandy Williams

June: Sea
A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch (which means I'll have to read A Stranger in Mayfair as well :D)

July: Night
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

August: Clear
Throne of Glass by Sara Maas (hey glass is clear)

September: Space
Gabriel's Ghost by Linnea Sinclair (space romance)- this one is a stretch, I know

October: Witch
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

November: Number
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

December: Throne
A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

2013 Nerdy Non-Fiction Reading Challenge


This challenge is hosted by Bookmark to Blog and runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.  The rules are as follows:

Levels:

Geek: 4-6 books in at least 2-3 different categories
Dork: 7-10 books in at least 4-5 different categories
Dweeb: 11- 14 books in at least 6-7 different categories
Nerd: 15+ books in at least 8+ different categories

Categories:

* Health, Medicine, Fitness, Wellness
* History- US, World, European, etc
* Religion, Spirituality, Philosophy
* Technology, Engineering, Computers, etc
* Business, Finance, Management
* Sports, Adventure
* Food- Cookbooks, Cooks, Vegan Vegetarianism, etc
* Autobiography, Biography, Memoir
* Art, Photography, Architecture
* Music, Film, TV
* Self Improvement, Self Help, How To
* Home, Garden
* Science-Nature, Weather, Biology, Geology
* Anthropology, Archaeology
* Animals-Insects, Mammals, Dinosaurs, etc
* Family, Relationships, Parenting, Dating, Love
* Crime, Law
* Poetry, Theatre
* Politics, Government, Current Affairs
* Literary Criticism/Theory
* Cultural Studies
* Travel
* Crafts

*  It is not necessary to pick your categories ahead of time, but try not to read more than two books in each category so you can broaden your horizons.


I'll be participating at the Dweeb level (11-14 books) with my target being to read one nonfiction book per month.  I'm challenging myself to read specific books that have been languishing on my TBR pile for longer than I'd care to think about.  Those books are:

Packing for Mars: The Curious History of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
The Mental Floss History of the World: An Irreverent Romp Through History's Best Bits
Maphead by Ken Jennings
Eating for Autism by Elizabeth Strickland
Autism's False Prophets by Paul A. Offit
Crochet!
Millionaire Teacher: Nine Rules of Wealth You Should Have Learned in School by Andrew Hallam

I'm adding another level to my personal approach to the challenge- I have a ton of articles from my ABA classes waiting to be read, it's kind of sad.  I'm challenging myself to read at least two articles per month from my backlist of articles.

This should be fun!  I've been saying for a long time that I want to read more nonfiction for a long time and this challenge is the perfect way to go about it.  

Review: Impulse

Title: Impulse
Author: Moira Rogers
Page Count: 270 pages (digital)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review sent by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Back Cover Summary:
Her submission can heal him. His dominance can free her.

Southern Arcana, Book 5

Sera Sinclaire is a New Orleans rarity: a submissive coyote trapped in a town overrun by dominant shapeshifters. Worse, she lacks the willpower to deny the alphas-in-shining-armor who need her soothing presence, even when their protectiveness threatens to crush her hard-won self-reliance.

The only shifter she doesn’t want to push away is Julio Mendoza, a wolf so dominant he’s earned a place on the Southeast council.

Julio doesn’t have the luxury of indulging in the vacation his psychic shrink insists he needs. He can't turn his back on responsibilities he’s beginning to wish he’d never shouldered. When an obsessive ex endangers Sera, though, instinct drives him to get her out of town. Watching her come to life outside the city makes him feel like he's finally done something right, and her touch ignites desire he doesn’t want to ignore.

But soon, lighthearted flirting becomes a dangerous game of seduction, where every day spent falling into each other is another day avoiding the truth. Sera's ex isn't the only one who’d disapprove of their relationship. There are wolves who would kill to get Sera out of Julio's life—starting with his own blood kin.

Product Warnings
Contains endless summer road trips, family drama, redneck werewolves, sexual power games and a taboo love affair between a submissive coyote who’s among the last of her kind and a dominant wolf who loves his heroine’s ass. Literally.
*****

Well! This was an anticipated book for me since I'm a big fan of this series.  The events leading up to those included here are broad, so I don't recommend picking up the series here just because I wouldn't want you to miss out!  Instead, I would start with the first book (Crux) and enjoying the whole journey from page one.

Anyway, this is Julio and Sera's story, and it's a spicy one, with plenty of getting over old issues and moving forward into the future and all the good stuff that makes for a satisfying story.  Sera is dealing with a creepy, abusive ex-husband and the issues with finding her own way as an individual when she's never really been an individual before; Julio is recovering from a traumatic injury and trying to feel his way around being a Council member and all the responsibilities that go with it.  By all accounts, neither is really ready or looking for a relationship, but this is Romanceland, which means a relationship is exactly what they find.

Sera and Julio are perfect for each other, but unfortunately for them a lot of other people don't see it that way.  It's hard to get too detailed without spoiling previous books in the series but suffice it to say that if there was ever any confusion about Julio's extended family being full of prejudiced morons, that confusion is thoroughly resolved here.

My favorite part of this story was definitely the road trip- by not having anyone else to talk to or any other distractions, both Sera and Julio have to confront their issues and decide if dealing with the obstacles and headaches that would be their lives together are worth the gains.  Julio also gets to see firsthand that the Council has really not been leading in an efficient way and that there are a lot of marginalized people who need to be represented and supported.  Winning the challenge to become a councilor was only the beginning, and Julio really didn't understand that until mid-road trip.

Like I said, I wouldn't start this series here, because way too much has happened in the previous books that's important to enjoying this one.  That's not a bad thing, just something to be aware of, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Overall Rating:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! Oh, and Hello Again!

Well! After another unexpected work/school/life related hiatus, it's now Thanksgiving break!  I'm not traveling and so am looking forward to spending now until Monday morning wearing various pairs of yoga pants and eating as much as possible. Somewhere after the food coma and before I finally get around to catching up on classwork (oops) I'm looking forward to reading/reviewing some as well.  Having time to do fun things is nice!

I've also started considering challenges for 2013! As usual, there's a ton of great choices, but as I'm looking to diversify my reading as well as revisit some old favorites in 2013, I'm sure I'll find a good starting place.

In the meantime, I hope everyone has a happy Thanksgiving, surrounded by friends, family, and some good books.  Enjoy!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Once Burned

Title: Once Burned
Author: Jeaniene Frost
Page Count: 346 pages
Publisher: Avon
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:

She's a mortal with dark powers...

After a tragic accident scarred her body and destroyed her dreams, Leila never imagined that the worst was still to come: terrifying powers that let her channel electricity and learn a person's darkest secrets through a single touch. Leila is doomed to a life of solitude...until creatures of the night kidnap her, forcing her to reach out with a telepathic distress call to the world's most infamous vampire...

He's the Prince of Night...

Vlad Tepesh inspired the greatest vampire legend of all—but whatever you do, don't call him Dracula. Vlad's ability to control fire makes him one of the most feared vampires in existence, but his enemies have found a new weapon against him—a beautiful mortal with powers to match his own. When Vlad and Leila meet, however, passion ignites between them, threatening to consume them both. It will take everything that they are to stop an enemy intent on bringing them down in flames.
*****

Of all the reviews posted here lately, this is the one where I disagree the most with others who've read the same book.  In general, it certainly seemed that lots of people loved Once Burned and Vlad as the hero of his own spinoff series.  Try as I might, I really didn't and i think at the end of it all it was the uneven power dynamic that finally tipped the scales for me.

Let me start off with the positives- Leila was a believable heroine given the raw material she had to work with.  She's a human, but she's aware that supernatural whatnots exist because she is one (she shocks people and sees their deepest shame, the result of an electrical accident earlier in life) so she doesn't fall into the trap of being unable to accept supernatural powers that belong to other people (as an aside, this is one of my biggest pet peeves in paranormal romance.)  She realizes that people will think she's a complete crackpot if they find out about her abilities or her perceptions so she keeps them under her hat as best as possible and tries to staff off radar.

Her cover is blown when some vampire flunkies kidnap her and she makes a telepathic connection with Vlad Tepes, a major player from the Night Huntress series and yes, he is THAT Vlad.  He's intrigued by Leila and rescues her from her captives.  He has to make sure she's not a spy and that she's telling the truth and all that, which means she has to come stay with him while he figures out why this latest bad guy wants to kill him.

This is where things start to go downhill, in my opinion.  Vlad is certainly an anti-hero, in that he's out for his own gain and lives by his own moral code, lopsided though it may be, and that's fine, but I feel like if it were anyone else (that is, not a pre-established sort of historical person) or he hadn't had some page time in the Night Huntress series where he seemed a little bit more vulnerable, for lack of a better word, he would have just come off as a controlling asshole.  Friends, anyone who impales your loved ones, regardless of the reasons, is not a nice person, and you should probably hold off for someone who's a little less murderous.

Then there's the issue that Leila doesn't really have any recourse against him- he's faster than her, stronger than her, has lived longer than her, has endless resources at his disposal whereas she has the clothes on her back, and even her powers, formidable as they are against every other character in the book, are worthless against him.  She's dependent on the fact that he's attracted to her for her safety and the safety of her family and loved ones, and even the moments when he does sweet things seem kind of odd in light of the fact that he's also so cold and calculating the rest of the time.  It veered out of romance territory and into creepy territory.

I'm not sure if some of these issues will be addressed in future books, since there are at least two more books planned that feature these two, but I certainly hope that they are.  I found the imbalance of power killed the romance for me even more than the "Leila is going to die and Vlad isn't" element, and admittedly that's usually a deal breaker in PNR for me too.

Overall Rating:

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Review: Iloria

Title: Iloria
Author: Moira Rogers
Page Count: novella length (54 pages according to Goodreads)
Publisher: self-published
Genre: romance, fairy tale retelling
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
After three years at war, the First Warlord of the Forest alone faces the newly won peace with trepidation--a curse ensures the wolves of Farran’s family line are fit only for violence. Denied an enemy, he would prefer to return to his remote keep alone and turn that inevitable rage inward. Unfortunately, there’s the small matter of the bride he took in a moment of madness.

Iloria is a gently reared lady, trained from childhood to be the wife of the High Lord himself. Instead, she finds herself wed to his brutish commander, a man who offered kindness in her weakest moment. She’s more than willing to turn her dreams toward building a life with Farran, but her new husband seems reluctant to speak to her, much less bed her.

Farran’s isolated castle offers him little respite from the temptation of Iloria’s stubborn affections. Every encounter with her chips away at his self-control--a dangerous thing for a cursed man. If he takes her to his bed, he won’t stop until he’s mated his virgin bride...but if he fails to consummate their union, he risks losing the only person who’s ever made him feel like more than a beast.
*****

This story's release totally snuck up on me but what a good surprise!  I've read and reviewed Sabine and Kisri here at WBiT? and was totally stoked for book three, especially because I knew it was a marriage of convenience story and in the style of my ALL TIME FAVORITE FAIRY TALE, Beauty and the Beast!

The expectations were high, but the ingredients were all there for a good story and they were blended excellently.  Iloria is a great heroine who overcomes a lot of cultural baggage and indoctrination in a short while in the pursuit of her own happiness, and at the same time she manages to convince Farran that their relationship is not only a good thing, but worth fighting for and strengthening.

Farran is a beast only when he's possessed by lunacy on the night of the full moon, but since the curse is inherited, he's seen plenty of examples of how repulsive people think he and his ancestors are, or so he thinks.  His curse has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and he's convinced that the only reason Iloria married him is to save herself the shame of being cast aside by the High King.  While that may have been the first instant's motivation, she's determined to have a real, loving marriage, and he's determined not to hurt her, even if ignoring her is hurting her.  It's a sticky wicket.

This is a really, really short story so there isn't a lot of time devoted to backstory. It's a good length though, and was a perfect way to relax after work one day.  And at $2.99 per story, I can highly recommend buying all three and enjoying them one after the other.  Do yourself a favor!

Overall Rating:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Review: Gunmetal Magic

Title: Gunmetal Magic
Author: Ilona Andrews
Page Count: 326 pages
Publisher: Ace
Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:

After being kicked out of the Order of the Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. She tries to put herself back together by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend. When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano--the male alpha of the Clan Bouda, and Andrea's former lover--die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate. Now she must work with Raphael as her search for the killer leads into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta. And dealing with her feelings for him might have to take a back seat to saving the world...
*****

This was one of my most, if not actually my most anticipated books for 2012, and it lived up to my expectations in every respect.  It's a little more on the romance side than the straight up urban fantasy side, but let's face it, the resolution of the drama between Andrea and Raphael is what we came for, right? Right.

Andrea Nash is one of my favorite female characters and despite having up until now been a supporting character in the Kate Daniels series, is entirely kick ass in her own right.  She's had a terrible history and works hard to overcome her past and to be a person of integrity and honor in the present along with being a serious force to be reckoned with.  She has secrets on top of secrets and has learned never to trust anybody. Period.  She made an exception for Kate.

It looked, for awhile, like she had made an exception for Raphael too.  They were madly in love, crazy about each other, and in Raphael's opinion that would be enough for Andrea to get over her past issues and be ready to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after.  It seems like an arrogant as hell way to look at things, but realizing that Raphael has always had the love and loyalty of his family and the strength and support of the Pack it makes sense that he wouldn't understand how devastating Andrea's history truly was.

This is the backstory that all happened before the start of this book.  In this book, Andrea and Raphael have to work together to figure out why four of Raphael's employees were horribly murdered.  This means they're going to have to confront their hurt feelings and their history and figure out whether their relationship is salvageable.  Both of them had some growing to do, and watching them go through their changes made the ultimate ending believable.  I was so pleased.

The subplot of who is behind the murders was interesting too.  In the tradition of this series, a Supreme Badass is on the loose and, grossly outnumbered and outarmed, Andrea, Raphael, Kate, Curran and the rest of the characters from this series have to save us all from doom.  Also in the tradition of this series, they meet with varying degrees of success.

I can't say enough good things about this book- like I said, it totally blew away my admittedly high expectations.  I do want to mention that I wouldn't start here if you're new to the Kate Daniels series- you should go back and read from the beginning and enjoy.

Another good thought- since, according to the author's blog, this book did very well in terms of sales expectations, I'm hoping we can look forward to more Kate Daniels World books in addition to the regular Kate Daniels books.  Jim and Dali anyone?

Overall Rating:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review: Dark Storm

Title: Dark Storm
Author: Christine Feehan
Page Count: 370 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
Return to the seductive world of Christine Feehan's New York Times bestselling Carpathian novels as roiling passions collide in a perfect storm of dangerous desire that only a precious few can hope to outrun . . .

Awakening after all this time in a world of absolute darkness and oppressive heat, Dax wonders in how many ways the world above must have changed. But it is how he has changed that fills him with dread and loathing. Buried alive for hundreds of years in a volcano in the Carpathian Mountains, Dax fears that he has become the full-fledged abomination that every Carpathian male fears, a victim of the insidious evil that has crept relentlessly into his mind and body over the centuries. But there are some things that never change.

His name is Mitro, the vampire Dax had hunted all these long centuries. Second in command to the prince of the Carpathian people he is the epitome of everything malevolent, and perpetrator of one of the most shocking killing sprees known to man - and beast. Even his friends and family weren't safe from Mitro's bloodlust. Neither was Mitro's lifemate, Arabejila, an extraordinary woman with extraordinary gifts. But now that Dax has re-emerged, so too has Mitro. The ultimate battle between good and evil has been re-engaged. Between Dax and Mitro, a violent game has begun - one that has marked Riley Parker, the last descendent of Arabejila, as the reward.
*****

First of all, I grabbed the back cover summary from Goodreads, and I have no idea why it says that the volcano that plays such a huge role in the story is in the Carpathian Mountains- it isn't.  We're still in the jungle, and at no point in the story do we go to the Carpathian Mountains.  If you were hoping for that, stop, because it didn't happen in this book.

Second of all, spoilers may follow in this review, but honestly at this point I don't think so, because nothing is happening in this series and therefore there really isn't anything to spoil.  Be that as it may, I'm putting a spoiler warning here so nobody can say they weren't informed.

Moving on, this book was conflicting for me.  I enjoyed the whirlwind relationship between Dax and Riley, but I'm starting to seriously resent the fact that this series is going absolutely nowhere.  I've mentioned before that I'm not sure that the series needed more characters at this point, and I stand by that statement now.  I would have been over the moon if this book included any forward yardage on the plot at all; sadly, it didn't.

If anything, this installment in the series actually moved the plot backwards, because things that have been canon in this series are now in question.  We've been running on the assumption that certain things are the basis of the events in the story for a long time- years, in real life time- at this point, so to kind of throw all that out and start over is annoying for me as a reader.

Oh what the hell, I'll get more specific.  The big example of this is that there still isn't a full resolution as to why the Carpathians have such a hard time having children and keeping them alive once they're born.  For years (since Dark Demon in 2006) we've been told that Xavier is the reason, that he's corrupted the soil with parasites, and that he's alive and waiting to deliver the killing blow to the Carpathian species.  Fast forward to this, book 23, and Xavier is dead (for real this time,) there's a way to purify the soil (albeit inefficiently) and theoretically things should be at least a little brighter now that the supreme enemy of the Carpathian race is dead.

If you think that, you're wrong!  Apparently there's some ancient fertility ritual with a flower that's critical to successful procreation for Carpathians and somehow nobody remembered this until recently, which is how two HUMAN associates of the Carpathians (Gary and Jubal) ended up in the rain forest looking for the flower, and that's how they run into Riley and, by extension, Dax.  The pieces fit together but they sure don't make a neat puzzle.

I find that at this point, the most enjoyable part of the story was the whirlwind relationship between Riley and Dax, but it was enjoyable because it precisely fit the mold of every other hero/heroine in this series.  Sudden, almost accidental meeting, instant attraction, improbably odds (Riley's mom is murdered on screen so it's a really natural time for her to start a seriously long-term relationship) and happily ever after where they're both Carpathian at the end (albeit after a pukey, convulsive, organ-shifting conversion.)

I have a hard time giving a good review to a book whose best parts are ones that have been done a thousand times in the same series at this point.  I know that this author works with the "my characters speak to me" method of plotting the series but at this point I'm kind of hoping they go back and read their own past installments so we don't end up just starting the whole story arc over again on accident.

I know Skylar and Dmitri's story is going to be a long, LONG way off, but at this point that is the one I want to read.  It may not be a bad idea for me to take a break from this series and pick up later.  Much later.

Overall Rating:

Happenings (3): When It Rains, It Pours

Hello again! I've been super busy the past two weeks with work projects, getting back on my training schedule (I've registered for an 8k walk on November 17th) and starting my next class for my certification as a behavior analyst. I've been working on the same book this whole time and am currently being a TERRIBLE library patron by keeping it past its due date to finish it. Considering that I've returned about thirty books late in the last two weeks due to my insane schedule, though, I figure I'll just pay my debt to society and move on.

I actually have time to blog today because I and the rest of my region are expecting some out of town company:
Yes, Hurricane Sandy is apparently coming to dinner, and therefore school is cancelled for tomorrow. Totally the right decision (safety first) but this means that I have some unexpected free time to work on other projects.

Also, fun fact!  Awhile ago I got a wild hair and decided not to use IntenseDebate anymore.  I went to try to enable the standard Blogger nested comments and couldn't figure out how to do it without messing with my code and things that a) I don't have time for, sadly, and b) I don't trust myself not to screw up.  The solution was to go with Disqus, which solves my problem and works and all that, so now commenting is re-enabled on my posts.  Please feel free to comment, as I miss talking to people about books and other good stuff!

Anyway, it's time for cartoons and writing book reviews and hoping the power doesn't go out. If you're in the path of Sandy, please stay safe and follow directions and be prepared.  Have a good week everyone!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Run the Risk WINNER!


Random.org has spoken, and the winner of a finished copy of Run the Risk is...Diane Sallans! She has been emailed and has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to all who entered!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happenings (2)- Waiting at the Airport

I'm sitting and waiting for my flight back home after an excellent weekend celebrating a great wedding, so there isn't a whole lot to report, reading-wise.  I'll do my best though:

Finished listening to: A Hunger Like No Other. Fun fun fun. Started listening to Stealing Kathryn by Jacquelyn Frank. Xe Sands may be my new favorite narrator. Seriously.

Still working on No Time to Lose and An Affair With Mr. Kennedy. Hopefully I will finish them this week.

In a perfect world I will also write some reviews for this week later tonight. I will certainly try.

Have a good week everyone!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Review: The Beekeeper's Apprentice

Title: The Beekeeper's Apprentice
Author: Laurie R. King
Page Count: 384 pages
Publisher: Bantam
Genre: mystery
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:
Long retired, Sherlock Holmes quietly pursues his study of honeybee behavior on the Sussex Downs. He never imagines he would encounter anyone whose intellect matched his own, much less an audacious teenage girl with a penchant for detection. Miss Mary Russell becomes Holmes' pupil and quickly hones her talent for deduction, disguises and danger. But when an elusive villain enters the picture, their partnership is put to a real test.
*****

This was an engrossing book- the kind where the subtle details and the narrative really grabbed me.  I forget where I'd first come across this book but was especially pleased to find that it's the first in a really well-established series.  I love when that happens!

I really like books that show to advantage the author's enjoyment of a particular genre or character.  That's totally the case here- you can tell that the author really loves Sherlock Holmes and as a result has gotten the tone and surrounding narrative pinned down.  Using that as a base, the new element (a young lady who thinks the way Holmes does and is as quick on the uptake as one can be) is introduced and you end up with something that feels new but retains the qualities of the original.  It's a rare feat.

Mary Russell and Holmes are an incredible team, because both of them have to challenge their prejudices and work together.  A working relationship blossoms into friendship, and friendship is becoming something more, especially at the end of the story.  The novel is even set up in the story collection style of the original Holmes books, where the different segments are shorter stories that tell the story of one of the cases that Mary and Holmes worked together.  They're all connected, though, so don't think it's an anthology, but there are natural break times that make sense within the story.

Upon finishing this story I immediately checked my library to see if the next story (chronologically) was available, and it was! It's now in my pile of books to be read, and I'm looking forward to writing about that one too.

Overall Rating:


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Review: Kiss of Steel

Title: Kiss of Steel
Author: Bec McMaster
Page Count: 448 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: steampunk romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Back Cover Summary:
A brilliantly creative debut where vampires, werewolves, and clockwork creatures roam the mist-shrouded streets of London...

When Nowhere is Safe

Most people avoid the dreaded Whitecapel district. For Honoria Todd, it's the last safe haven. But at what price?

Blade is known as the master of the rookeries--no one dares cross him. It's been said he faced down the Echelon's army single-handedly, that ever since being infected by the blood-craving he's been quicker, stronger, and almost immortal.

When Honoria shows up at his door, his tenuous control comes close to snapping. She's so...innocent. He doesn't see her backbone of steel--or that she could be the very salvation he's been seeking.
*****

One word- AMAZING. I picked this book up after reading glowing reviews at Parajunkee's View and Goldilox and the Three Weres and I'm super happy I did.  Kiss of Steel has made the list as one of my favorite books of 2012 for its superior worldbuilding, awesome leading couple, and great start to a series that's going on my auto-buy list.

Just when you think there's nothing new beneath the sun, suddenly there is!  This book takes elements of the paranormal in the form of a vampire elite and adds in the sinister element of a virus causing the condition, with the ultimate end being death for all the infected.  It's the great leveling- no matter how rich you are, in this society, if you're a blue blood (blood drinker) you will eventually succumb to madness and have to get your head chopped off.  The question isn't if, it's when.

Except for one- Blade.  He's devoted his life to flourishing outside the control of the Echelon and has built a loyal following in Whitechapel outside the long arm of the law.  When he meets Honoria, he knows she's hiding something, so being the only one who can protect her from the evil evilness out to get her and her siblings puts him in a unique position to discover those secrets.

This dynamic right here is one of the reasons I loved this book.  The power dynamic between Blade and Honoria is extremely uneven- Blade has all the power and Honoria is at his mercy.  Blade doesn't abuse this power, however- he sees Honoria as someone who needs a leg up, not as someone to take advantage of.  He wants Honoria to like him, and it bothers him when it seems like she doesn't.  Honoria, on the other hand, has been abandoned by everyone who was ever supposed to be on her side and carries a tremendous amount of responsibility around with her every day.  Even so, she doesn't fight the inevitable and realizes that underneath his swagger Blade is a great guy.  She ends up being the instigator in their relationship, and Blade can't resist her.

If the sole focus of the book was Honoria and Blade, it would still be an awesome book.  There's more though!  The issue of Honoria's father and the implications of his unfinished research, the lives of her siblings (especially her sister Helena, the heroine of book #2) and the supporting characters who move in Blade's circle all lend depth and detail to the story.  I was up way too late on a work night because I wanted to see how everything ended.

I also enjoyed how the ending provided just enough explanation to give hope where previously there hadn't been any.  It doesn't 100% explain anything and there isn't an epilogue where we see the couple fifty years from now, true, but I think there's plenty to go on and that it will be great fun to see where the series goes from here.  Enjoy!

Overall Rating:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Lori Foster's Run the Risk GIVEAWAY!

Thanks to the folks at Meryl Moss, I have a finished copy of Run the Risk by Lori Foster to give away!  To enter, simply fill out the form on this post.  US and Canada only please!  The giveaway will run until October 14th, 2012 at 11:59 EST.

Also, check out the book tour website for a list of all the tour stops and more contests and giveaways!

Review and EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Run the Risk

Title: Run the Risk
Author: Lori Foster
Page Count: 379 pages
Publisher: HQN
Genre: romantic suspense
Copy for review provided by Meryl Moss Media Relations in anticipation of an honest review

Back Cover Summary:
When Detective Logan Riske goes undercover to find Pepper Yates, a potential link to his best friend's unsolved murder, he vows to gain her cooperation by any means necessary. But the elusive beauty is more suspicious—and in far more danger—than he expected. And the last thing Logan needs is to start caring for her….Pepper has spent years dodging the corrupt club owner who will stop at nothing to keep her silenced. She can trust no one, not even the handsome new "construction worker" who's moved in next door. The heat between them is undeniable. But will surrendering to passion bring her the safety she so desires—or will her feelings for Logan draw them both into a killer's crosshairs?
*****

This book was a second chance romance in a lot of ways- the characters get a second chance to do things properly after royally screwing up the first one in the first half of the book, and I took a second chance with romantic suspense from this author after being thoroughly underwhelmed with my last encounter, Savor the Danger. Although this book wasn't without its flaws (most aren't, let's face it) I do think that this offering was a lot more tightly plotted and the characters were definitely more interesting to me.

Pepper's sole goal in life is protecting herself and her brother Rowdy from the human trafficking scumbag who's out to kill them. Her path crosses with Logan's when he's investigating his best friend's murder and thinks she and her brother may be leads. She's hiding undercover as a demure bluestocking, he's hiding undercover as a construction worker, but neither of them does a good job hiding their mutual attraction. Sparks fly.

Fast forward to when Pepper has learned the truth about Logan and is all kinds of mad. She has a right to be, sure, but these moments were where the book had its strongest times. Logan realizes that he didn't handle things well when he first met Pepper, but he thinks that she's the real deal and he's going to do a better job the second time. He's determined, in a non-creepy way, that there will be a second time, and he's determined that it will be better. That was the nugget of romance that kept me reading- I knew the bad guy was going to get caught and I didn't care about the heckling that everyone took from Dash and Reese, two other officers who are helping to keep Pepper hidden, but I kept reading because I enjoyed that despite all the other half-hearted deception, Logan was honest that he was going to legitimately pursue Pepper and Pepper was honest that she was going to make him work for it. That felt authentic and that worked for me.

The ending, too, was very sweet, where these two make decisions about their future.  Logan wins the prize for cheesiest yet sweetest proposal (come on people, it's not that much of a spoiler) and you'll just have to read the book to find out.

Is this my next favorite book of all time? No, but it was a much stronger and tighter offering and a good start to a new series.  I would be interested in finding out what happens next.

Check out the EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT below the rating!

Overall Rating:



EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT FROM LORI FOSTER'S RUN THE RISK


He disappeared off the balcony and she just knew he was coming inside to corral her in the narrow hallway.

Why wouldn’t he leave her alone?

The apartment building was…unpleasant. Peeling paint from the walls, mold in the corners, carpet with stains she didn’t want to investigate too closely…

She knew why she was there.

Why was he?

Happenings (1)- I Have a Cold, and Things are Crazy.

photo credit
It's that glorious time of the year- the leaves are changing, it's cooler finally, and I have to determine whether the sore throat and runny nose I have are because my allergies are yanking my chain or because one of the little darlings in my care have thoughtfully shared their germs.  At the moment, I feel that option two is the winner, sadly. Boo.

In an effort to try to not neglect things around here so much I've started scheduling posts- reviewing is always what I've enjoyed best about this project so it makes sense to focus on that when I can and to not stress out about the rest.  This weekly dealie is a chance for me to check in with my own reading and also to note when I finish a book, since my finished date tends to be pretty different from my review date.  Maybe I'll note some thoughts and what have you there as well. We'll see!

Books Finished This Week:

Dark Storm by Christine Feehan- I told myself I was going to wait a bit to read this one, that I'd let the Kindle price come down and blah blah blah, and then I found myself in a doctor's waiting room on the book's release date and I'd forgotten to pack something to read.  The Kindle app on my phone recommended this and then I was reading this book on its release date.  I don't know what happened.





What I'm Reading Now:

An Affair with Mr. Kennedy by Jillian Stone-  really enjoying this one so far!









No Time To Lose: A Life in Pursuit of Deadly Viruses by Peter Piot-  A super interesting book, but there's a lot to take in so I've been enjoying it in small doses.









What I'm Listening To Right Now:

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole- Holy crap, if you think reading the IAD series in print is awesome then you need to stop what you're doing and start the audiobooks.  Seriously.









I'm headed out of town for a wedding next weekend and so the scheduling bonanza will have to begin early, since I'll be decided unavailable :D.  Have a good week everyone!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Review: The Seduction of Phaeton Black

Title: The Seduction of Phaeton Black
Author: Jillian Stone
Page Count: 335 pages
Publisher: Brava
Genre: paranormal/steampunk romance, first in a series
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Back Cover Summary:

In the gaslit streets of Victorian London, phantoms rule the night, demons dance till dawn, and one supernatural detective dares to be seduced by the greatest power of all. . .
He's The Man With The Magic Touch

A master of deduction, seduction and other midnight maneuvers, Phaeton Black is Scotland Yard's secret weapon against things that go bump in the night. His prodigious gifts as a paranormal investigator are as legendary as his skills as a lover, his weakness for wicked women as notorious as his affection for absinthe. But when he's asked to hunt down a fanged femme fatale who drains her victims of blood, he walks right into the arms of the most dangerous woman he's ever known. . .

She's The Devilish Miss Jones

Pressing a knife to his throat--and demanding he make love to her--Miss America Jones uses Phaeton as a willing shield against the gang of pirates chasing her. As deadly as she is, with a derringer tucked in her garter, Miss Jones is not the vampiric killer he's been staking out--but she may be just what Phaeton needs to crack the case. As the daughter of a Cajun witch, she possesses uncanny powers. As a fearless fighter, she can handle anything from Egyptian mummies to Jack the Ripper. But when an ancient evil is unleashed on the world, she could be his only salvation. . .or ultimate sacrifice.
*****

Well.

I picked this book up expecting a breezy, fun read for a Saturday morning where I woke up way too early and didn't want to get out of bed yet, so I suppose those standards were met.  This kind of lukewarm reaction kind of sums up my reaction to the entire book.

I guess my biggest issue with the story comes from the fact that even though I know that Phaeton and America were slowly coming to care for each other over the span of the book, I didn't feel like they really were a couple- more like a boss and his administrative assistant who bump uglies at every opportunity.

I should probably back up here.  This book is an alternative history slash steampunk slash paranormal romance, which means there's a lot going on and a relatively few number of pages in which to expand on all that.  Phaeton Black is an unofficial agent for Scotland Yard, which means he's the guy they call when things don't make sense and they want to be able to blame any future failures on a crackpot.  America Jones is trying to avenge her father's murder and salvage his shipping company, and these two cross paths fairly early on.  They soon realize that each can benefit from the other's particular areas of expertise, and a partnership/"relationship" takes off from there.

I didn't find either character all that likeable, actually.  We first meet Phaeton sampling the house wares at the whorehouse whose basement he rents out, and the only reason that's important is that he doesn't really discriminate between any of the female characters in the book.  They could be the whores who are his upstairs neighbors, the heroine, your aunt Margaret- if he can tab A their slot B then that's pretty much where his interest lies.  This kills the romance for me pretty quickly:

image credit (I freely admit I have no idea what this site is talking about)

There's a supporting cast of characters that I admit were not particularly memorable- my evidence is that I didn't read this book all that long ago and I've already forgotten them and what they were there for. Except for one- Dr. Exeter is some kind of weird Phaeton protector and his introduction is what gets the plot moving. Unfortunately for him, there is only room for one Exeter in my life.

Ultimately, the problem is this: even though the hybrid genre appealed to me, the characters didn't. I was reading this book and my dearly beloved came in and said, "so how are you enjoying your clank porn?"  I was all set to rise to this book's defense and found that I really couldn't. There was some clank, there was a lot of horizontal rodeo (yee-hah) but not too much else.  Are you a bad person if you're into that sort of thing?  Not at all!  Did this book ring my bell? Nope, and that'll happen sometimes.  On a semi-related note, I'm reading the first book in this author's other series (An Affair with Mr. Kennedy,) and I'm LOVING it!  Different strokes for different folks.  Okay I swear I'm finished now.

Overall Rating:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Busy Busy!

Hello again! Things are crazy as usual, and that means that sadly writing reviews has had to wait its turn along with everything else.  All things in good time though, and I'm looking forward to finishing up my final for class this weekend (yay!) and rewarding myself with some review time. Even with all that's going on, I've done a lot of reading lately- always a good thing!

Here are the reviews that are coming up here at good old WBiT?:

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews- every bit as as good as I'd hoped!










 Iloria by Moira Rogers- I've been waiting so long for this story and it was awesome.
Jaran by Kate Elliot- deep, interesting, thought-provoking book.  This was a random book off my shelves and I'm super glad I made time for it.
 Kiss of Steel by Bec McMaster- an awesome addition to steampunk romance and one of my favorites of 2012 so far.
Once Burned by Jeaniene Frost- my review of this book is probably the one most people will not agree with.  I'm prepared for that.
The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King- what an addicting series!  Sherlock Holmes meets his match.
The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone- a review wherein I muse on what makes a book romantic and explain the origins of the phrase "clank porn."
Impulse by Moira Rogers- the hits just keep on coming in the Southern Arcana series.










And that's that!  What is everyone else up to?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: Dark Nights

Title: Dark Nights
Author: Christine Feehan
Page Count: 432 pages
Publisher:
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the publisher in anticipation of an honest review

Cover Summary:
DARK DREAM
Book #7 in Dark Series
Previously in After Twilight & Dark Dreamers

She’s known him since she was fifteen. Every night, he is with her: his face, his voice. Tonight, Sara Marten will meet the man who is both angel and demon, salvation and temptation: Falcon—the Carpathian, the banished hero. Tonight, Sara will meet the dark-eyed destroyer destined to be her mate..


DARK DESCENT
Book #11 in Dark Series
Previously in The Only One

In this version of Dark Descent there is an additional hundred pages. I rewrote it from the original version as I felt it was too short. I do not plan on doing this for the other re-prints, but I hope you enjoy the newest version of Dark Descent.

In a cave of mystery and wonder deep in the Carpathian Mountains , bodyguard Joie Sanders encounters a most remarkable being. Proud, strong, immortal, he is called Traian, an ageless hunter, locked in a life and death battle with enemy vampires and he will be her salvation in a labyrinth protected by the ingenious traps of a mysterious ancient race. What awaits them in the darkness is not known, and each step could be their last as their destined path leads them toward a fiery passion that will illuminate the perilous dark night.
*****

This is a guilty pleasure series of mine. I read the books, I love them, I reread them over and over again, and I am able to completely overlook the issues with the books that are obvious at this point and would totally tank another book for me any day of the week.

Seriously- in addition to the fact that the overall plot of the series has not advanced a yard in some time now, this series is rife with heroines who can instantly rub someone the wrong way, and heroes who do what they want regardless of whether or not anyone consented to the plan.  The heroines are smart and independent, damn it, and you know this because they tell you over and over again, not because they do anything particularly smart or independent.  Likewise, the whole series is based on the premise of lifemates and the fact that if a dude is biologically compatible with you because of some mythological mojo, then he can marry you without asking you first or even introducing himself, and can drink your blood and make you drink his until your insides totally melt and reform and you wake up from your vomity painful hell ordeal a member of a different species. And they all live happily ever after.

Do I care about any of this? NO I DO NOT.  I sit and I eagerly await each new installment in the series and then I read it in one sitting (although I'm not sold on the next one that's coming out, I'm not sure if the series needs more characters at this point) and I am happy as a clam afterwards.  This is the only series where I've been even remotely interested in reading reissued stories with expanded content, which is what this book is.  If you've read these stories in their previous versions, there isn't anything really new here, but if you're a fan of the series these are a fun read.

The summaries from Goodreads do a pretty good job of telling you what's going to happen in the stories, so I won't get into it here, but the take home points are as follows:

1.  These are not new stories, they were previously published in other collections.

2.  I hadn't read the un-expanded version of Dark Descent so I can't really comment on whether or not the added materially added anything to the story except length.

3.  The characters who star in these stories are mentioned in some of the full-length novels, so it was interesting to read how they met each other and all that jazz.

4.  I approve of this being released in mass market paperback, since the material is reissued.

All in all, this was a good way to relax after work.  No groundbreaking material here, but hopefully it isn't too backhanded of me to say that I don't expect that from this series.

Overall Rating:


Monday, September 17, 2012

Review: Shadow and Bone

Title: Shadow and Bone
Author: Leigh Bardugo
Page Count: 358 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Genre: young adult, fantasy, first in a series
Copy for review obtained via the public library

Cover Summary:
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart.
*****

I put this one on hold at the library after reading so many positive reviews from other book bloggers. I confess I didn't get quite what I had hoped for, but reading the book was a decent enough way to pass the time.

The use of a fantasy-based reimagined Russia as the setting is what first attracted me to this book, but beyond that there isn't anything here, at first, that hasn't been done before. We have the young person of mysterious origins who somehow has not noticed her tremendous powers until now, we have the endless adolescent musings on how literally everyone on the planet is prettier than her, and we have the magical boarding school. There were about fifty pages where I thought we were veering dangerously close to Harry Potter Knockoff Land.

This isn't to say that the book was bad, not by a long stretch. The establishing chapters were where most of the been-there, done-that took place, and once the rules of engagement were established the unique facets of this story started to shine through. The Darkling, who intially comes on the scene as the savior of all people and a man who can do no wrong, and his true motivations are a shocker. The political underpinnings and the implications of Alina's power and what it means for her people are going to take time to explore- I'm glad there are two more books so those stories can be done justice.

I also think Alina grew up very quickly in many ways over the course of the story- her biggest strength as a character was her own self-awareness (notwithstanding the Tremendous Powers thing) and she understood very quickly that all was not as it seemed at the Grisha palace. Her willingness to believe what she sees with her own eyes kept the narrative moving and showed that she's a quick study and can adapt to any situation. I think those characteristics will come in handy in the future stories.

Was this the be all end all of fantasy novels? No, but I was sufficiently engaged to want to know what happens next.

Overall Rating:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review: Death at Bishop's Keep

Title: Death at Bishop's Keep
Author: Robin Page
Page Count: 296 pages
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: historical mystery
Copy for review obtained via my public library

Cover Summary:
Kate Adrleigh is everything the Victorian English gentlewoman is not--outspoken, free-thinking, American...and a writer of the frowned upon "penny-dreadfuls." When Kate arrives in Essex, England, she shocks the household at Bishop's Keep -- and captures the interest of amateur detective Sir Charles Sheridan as they begin their first case together.

A dead body has been uncovered at a nearby archaeological dig. The investigation provides the perfect research for Kate's fiction. But the curious writer may be digging too deep -- especially when the trail leads her into a secret occult society known as the Order of the Golden Dawn...
*****

I LOVE IT when I discover a new to me series that's already really well established. I had seen this title recommended in the Outside the Box: Best Adult Mysteries list over at Alison Can Read and it sounded interesting, so it went on one of my million lists of books to remember and I picked it up at the library. I'm so glad I did- this was a fun one!

Kate is all the things I enjoy in a female lead character- she's a smart person who uses her resources and is observant and emminently Practical. She's leading an interesting double life as a novelist in a time when novels weren't the omnipotent entertainment source they are now, and they certainly weren't supposed to be written by women. She's making a way for herself on her own and finds herself being offered employment by a previously-unknown relative and is off to England.

Once she gets there, she finds there are actually two relatives she didn't know about- a nice aunt (the one who offered her the job) and an evil hell-beast of an aunt, who takes personal pleasure in making the household staff miserable. Nobody can figure out why Hell Beast Aunt Jaggers is around since absolutely nobody likes her- could it be that she's holding something over her sister?

I loved the way everything became an inspiration for Kate's books, even the dead guy that turned up at a nearby archaeological dig.   Through her poking around at the scene, she meets Sir Charles Sheridan, who finds himself intrigued by Kate's plain speaking and observations.  She's certainly nothing like anyone he's met before, and her insights are key to figuring out the puzzle of the murder. It's pretty broadly shared that these two end up married as well, and I'm looking forward to reading more in the series to see how that all comes about.

I should be clear, though, this is definitely an historical mystery first and a romance a distant, distant second.  There are enough romantic elements to make it clear that we're headed in that direction but the historical elements and the solving of the murder take center stage.  I enjoyed the obvious research that went into the book, especially the information about the spiritualist movement and the renewed interest in ancient Egypt.

Because this series is a longstanding one, it was a bit of a challenge to track down the next book in the series (I'm reading in the order of the events in the series, and not release date- that was confusing too.)  Paperback Swap came through for me though, and I'm looking forward to getting the next book so I can dive in.

Overall Rating:

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Did It Get So Late So Soon? Or, Welcome to September!

It has come to my attention that today is the first of September, school starts for my class on Tuesday, and that summer vacation is over.


Seriously, when did this happen?  This time of year is always a little crazy but time definitely slipped away from me.  I spent a lot of extra time getting my classroom set up and my paperwork/organizational stuff in place and I'm really pleased with how it came out! Hopefully my students will enjoy and benefit from it as well.

I didn't mark the occasion with a post, but What Book is That? is officially three years old!  The blog has grown tremendously since its humble beginnings, and thank you to everyone who continues to follow, subscribe, read, and comment!  It all means a lot to me.  Here's to another great year!

I didn't end up getting through my entire review queue for the Review Copy Cleanup in August, but I still reviewed some of the books in the queue, some of which had been there since 2010.  I still consider that a success.

I have some reviews to write (yay!) and want to get back on track with some kind of posting schedule- we'll see what happens!  Typically I do a great job making a schedule and then a less than great job sticking to it, but it's good to have goals.

What are you all up to this month?  Have you read anything awesome lately?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review Pile Cleanup Review 5- Cipher


Title: Cipher
Author: Moira Rogers
Page Count: 280 pages (449 KB Kindle format)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Back Cover Summary

Fourteen months ago, Kat Gabriel’s life changed forever when she used her empathy as a weapon. Now she can’t escape the weight of those deaths–or the loss of the easy friendship she and Andrew once shared. Obsessed with her mother’s violent past, Kat is determined to learn the truth of her inner-darkness by understanding her legacy.

Since the attack that turned him into a wolf, Andrew Callaghan has done everything possible to make himself stronger. More capable of protecting Kat–both from the supernatural world that forced her to kill, and from their own volatile connection. Pushing her away hurt them both, but he’s finally made himself into the protector she needs.

As Kat’s quest leads her into the darkest underbelly of the psychic world, Andrew is determined to be at her side. But every step forward reopens old emotional wounds and shakes their control. For a dangerous alpha and a deadly psychic, distraction could be fatal–especially when the greatest threat they pose is to each other.

Warning: This book contains a dangerous shapeshifter who could kill you with his bare hands, an empathic hacker who could kill you with her mind, a psychic cult determined to kill everyone, a lot of violence, a little bit of hope, and a happily-ever-after seven years in the making.
*****

Yay for Cipher!  I had been excited about reading Kat and Andrew's story from when we first meet them earlier in the series, and I was thoroughly satisfied with the way things worked out for them. This was an interesting hybrid of the friends to lovers and second chance romance sub-areas, and I was totally on board for this combination for this particular couple.

We start the story with a little bit of a flashback, so we can see the big event that drove a huge wedge between Kat and Andrew.  Until then, Kat was an empath, Andrew was human, and they were playfully flirting and all was right with the world.  Then, Andrew is turned to a wolf shifter during an attack that was meant for Kat, and Kat turns their attackers' brains to mush, not in self-defense, but in defense of Andrew.  This causes a lot of turmoil for her, because underneath it all she's not a person who embraces violence.  This isn't to say that she judges people negatively because violence is a part of their lives, she just doesn't use it as a problem solving method for herself.

She's also terrified that if she could hurt the attacker bad guys inadvertently, she could hurt someone she  loves- like Andrew.  The funny thing is, Andrew is worried about the same thing, except coming from his newfound strength and instincts that are hard to control.  Naturally, these two don't talk about the problem or anything, so we're coming off fourteen months of painful silence and both of them have hurt feelings the other didn't even know were festering under the surface.

I think my favorite part of the book (other than the happily-ever-after, that is) was Kat really making some hard decisions and growing a lot as a person.  She's known for resenting the smothering presence of her cousin and the other brooding alphas in her life, which is basically every guy she knows, but at the same time, if she doesn't want other people to bend over backwards to shield and protect her, then she's got to learn to handle her business herself.  This doesn't just mean getting a leash on her powers, although that is a big part of it- it means figuring out how she feels about Andrew instead of mooning around and waiting for something to happen.  She has to be in charge of her own life, otherwise someone else is going to take over that role by default.

Kat and Andrew figure out pretty quickly that their feelings are returned, and they act on them- sexy times!  They have to figure out how they're going to maintain a relationship without actually crushing or brainwashing each other, and that will take time- now if only they can figure out what's going on with Kat's mom's history and how that affects Kat, maybe they will get to enjoy that time.

I definitely recommend starting the series from the beginning and meeting all of the characters in order- the books are quick and enjoyable and you could easily read the entire series to date quickly.  This is a good thing, because the next book comes out September 4th!  I'll be reviewing it here as well, so stay tuned. :D

Overall Rating:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review Copy Cleanup Review 4- Deadlock

Title: Deadlock
Author: Moira Rogers
Page Count: 264 pages (975 KB Kindle format)
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the author in anticipation of an honest review

Back Cover Summary:
Abandoned by her wolf shifter father and raised by her human psychic mother, Carmen Mendoza can’t deny she’s different. She craves things most women shy away from–and she has a trail of shapeshifting ex-boyfriends to prove it.

Working at a clinic for supernatural creatures, she’s escaped the notice of her father’s legacy-obsessed family. Until they need a pawn in their bid for power. Snared by a vicious spell designed to wake her inner wolf, Carmen’s only hope is to trust the one man strong enough to soothe her darkest instincts.

Alec Jacobson was once the heir apparent to the wolves’ ruling elite, until he walked away to marry the woman he loved. She paid with her life. He lives as a rebel, a black-sheep alpha who protects the supernatural residents of New Orleans from the wolves’ barbaric class system. Too bad he can’t protect himself from his need for Carmen.

Yet staking his claim on his enemy’s niece will turn his city into a battleground. Unless he can find a way to stop breaking the rules–and start making them.

Warning: This book contains a renegade alpha wolf, a smart empathic doctor, very dirty sex with psychic safe-words, the occasional dominance game in and out of the bedroom, and a group of supernatural citizens ready to take on the corrupt leaders of their world.
*****

This is one of those times where I confess my kind-of failure as a reviewer.  I've had this book in my review stack for over a year!  I haven't decanted it yet because I knew I would love it; I was holding on to it for some special occasion that never happened.

That occasion was today, and I'm super glad I did!  I had high expectations for this book and wasn't disappointed.  I don't really recommend starting here with this series, as the first two books are also excellent and do a good job of setting up the events that happen here, but if you're willing to take my word for it that lots of things happened before this book and you promise you will go back and read the first two, you can start here as well.

Before I forget, you can get the first book in this series, Crux, for FREE from Amazon right now until 8/15 by clicking here.  You're welcome.

Anyway, what's not to like about this book?  The book disclaimer says it all- the characters are great, the conflict is intense, and there are appearances by all the familiar characters from the first two books.  Alec is a lovable dope who thinks he has to take care of everyone and Carmen is looking for someone who won't try to use her.  Carmen's father wins the douche of the year award, but we get to meet her family, and I know that these guys will show up in future installments of the series.

Can I talk for a minute, without giving anything away, about how excellent the ending was?  There were a few loose ends from the previous two books that didn't seem like they'd get resolved, but then they totally did, and in a way that set things up nicely for the next book.  I'm a big fan of books where the good guys totally whomp the bad guys, and this book fits that category nicely.

Overall this was an excellent installment in a series that I already enjoy and recommend.  I have the next two books in this series for review, including the forthcoming Impulse, and I pinkie swear and spit shake that it won't take me as long to read those, especially after I enjoyed this one so much.

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