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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
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review provided by the publisher in anticipation of an honest review

Cover Summary:
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..

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?
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