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Monday, April 30, 2012

Review: Enemy Within

Title: Enemy Within
Author: Marcella Burnard
Page Count: 352 pages
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: science fiction romance, first in a series
Copy for review was purchased by me

Synopsis:
An intergalactic cold war-and some heated passion- from an inventive new voice in futuristic romance.

After a stint in an alien prison, Captain Ari Rose wonders why she even bothered to survive. Stripped of her command and banished to her father's scientific expedition to finish a Ph.D. she doesn't want, Ari never planned to languish quietly behind a desk. She wasn't built for it, either. But when pirates commandeer her father's ship, Ari once again becomes a prisoner.

As far as pirate leader Cullin is concerned, Ari's past imprisonment puts her dead center in Cullin's sights. If she hasn't been brainwashed and returned as a spy, then he's convinced she must be part of a traitorous alliance endangering billions of lives. Cullin can't afford the desire she fires within him and he'll stop at nothing, including destroying her, to uncover the truth.
*****

Gracious I love a good science fiction romance.  This one was definitely unique, and not for the faint of heart- Ari has overcome a lot of trauma in her past and that trauma is almost a character in and of itself.  Trigger warnings should abound so consider them included prior to anything else.

By all accounts, Ari Rose shouldn't be alive.  After a stint as a prisoner of war under some ugly, grotesque, tentacled, reptilian horrors who don't typically leave survivors, Ari is trying to overcome a crippling case of PTSD and somehow pull her life back together.  People walk on eggshells around her and she absolutely hates it but at the same time she understands that the trauma she's experienced does set her apart from others; people just don't understand what she's been through and how that affects her.

So there she is, working on an advanced science degree under the tutelage of her father, a famous scientist himself, and into her world crashes Cullin Seaghdh, a space pirate and a whole lot else.  I can't get into a whole lot about Cullin's true identity because that would be telling, but suffice it to say that he is much, much more than he appears and he has an agenda that has to be seen to be believed.

The fact is, Ari is an unusual person because of her ordeal, and because of many other factors that are revealed throughout the story.  The level of detail in this story is perfect- not so much that the plot grinds to a halt but not so few that the pacing is off.  The supporting cast, too, is excellent; I especially enjoyed reading about Ari's relationship with her father.  Turns out everyone gets things wrong sometimes, and the resolution of that conflict was sweet in many ways.

This book is also interesting because there are definitely parts where it's more of a sci-fi novel and parts where it's more a romance.  Cullin and Ari are perfectly matched; they like the same things, have the same values, and Cullin understands the impact that Ari's experiences have had on her and is on her side.  I loved the ongoing element of the Art of the Blade and the role that it played in their relationship, as they're two most skilled practitioners.  The fact that Cullin is a bit of a fanboy for Ari even before he meets her is very sweet.

Like I said, there were parts of this book that were tough to read, but I understand why they were included.  Not everyone would approve, and that's okay, but if you're willing to give it a go then I highly recommend Enemy Within as an example of really engrossing science fiction romance.  I can't wait to read book #2 and beyond!

Overall Grade:

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Review: Alpha Instinct

Title: Alpha Instinct
Author: Katie Reus
Page Count: 398 pages
Publisher: Signet
Genre: paranormal romance
Copy for review was purchased by me

Synopsis:
Fear has a scent. So does desire…

Ana Cordona has been a strong leader for the lupine shifters who survived after all the males and most of the females in her pack were mysteriously poisoned. As tough as she is, with no Alpha male, the pack is vulnerable to the devious shifter Taggart, who wants to claim both their ranch and Ana as his own. When Connor Armstrong comes back into her life, promising protection, it’s almost enough to make Ana forget how he walked out on her before—and reluctantly accept his offer to mate.

The minute Connor sees Ana again, it reawakens a raw hunger. He must have her for his bondmate—his wolf cries out for it. But his human side knows he must proceed with caution because of their complicated past. If he is to truly have her body and soul, he must go beyond his burning desire and win back her heart. Whatever it takes, he is determined not to leave her side again.

But Taggart and his rival pack are not their only enemies. A human element in town is targeting shifters. Their plan not only threatens Ana and Connor’s future, but the lives of the entire pack…

I freely admit a couple of things, to start this review off honestly- I read this book back in February, and I had really, really (perhaps unfairly) high expectations going into it.  With that said, I don't feel as if this book completely lived up to my expectations, but I would be open to reading more books in the series to see if some of my issues are resolved in future installments.

I think this book suffered from having too much going on all at the same time. There's the unsolved poisoning that killed many, many members of Ana's pack, the political uneasiness that was caused by the power vacuum left when Ana's father died, the emotional drama caused by Connor reappearing on the scene, Taggart's icky advances, and all of the supporting characters (of which there are legion) having their own issues meant that there were many things going on and not a lot of forward momentum in the plot until the very end.  Not every story has to be single-minded with the only focus being on getting the main characters over the HEA finish line and I love a complex plot as much as the next person but some of the side stories here probably should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

If I had to pick a word to describe the relationship between Ana and Tanner, it would probably be awkward.  Tanner reappears after a fifty year absence, and has loved Ana the whole time, but he has a hard time understanding why Ana is so skittish around him.  I feel like heroines get a bad deal in these types of situations because obviously the guy had Reasons for doing what he did and she should just accept them and be happy, but feelings don't work like that!  There were a lot of circumstances behind their separation and I thought it was unreasonable for Ana to just blindly accept everything at face value.

I'm not completely letting Ana off the hook, though, because she had no trouble accepting lots of other things at face value when a little bit of critical examination would have saved a lot of heartache.  Both her and Tanner are imperfect, which is fine because all people are imperfect, but in life there's no page limit to tell a story, and in a book there is, and the overall forward motion of the story wasn't as consistent as I would have liked.

As a side note, the fact that every single member of Connor's pack is an unmated male looking to settle down was a little Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for me, and not so much in a good way.  This is an issue I have with the genre as a whole and not specifically with this book but I wanted to bring it up anyway.  Seriously, not one of these guys could have found a mate outside of this group they want to move in with? I know it serves the purpose of setting up future installments in the story but still.

With all of this having been said, I do want to point out that the story still kept me reading start to finish and I was happy for the main characters when they finally reached happiness together.  I would definitely be interested in reading another book in this series to see how things progress from here and as a first in a series I do understand that there was a lot that had to be established for the sake of future books.  I'd be interested in seeing the series grow from here.

Overall Grade:

Saturday, April 28, 2012

News from the field.





Finding the time to blog has been really challenging lately! As we wind down the school year I have more work projects than I know what to do with, and adding in the fact that I've gone back to school and am trying to do things like cook, clean, and exercise more (I'm training for a 5k- race day is next Sunday) and I've found my reading/blogging/lounging time has been put to use for other things.

This isn't a bad thing, not at all, and kind of goes along with my overall plan for 2012 for the blog, which was to focus on quality and not quantity when it comes to posts and reviews and all that.  I've done a pretty good job so far, but in order to keep things up in that arena I've had to make some tough choices, and they are as follows.

As of today, What Book is That? is closed for review submissions.  I had to face the music that I have more books to read than I know what to do with and it's not doing anyone any good if I never get the chance to read any of them.  Instead, I'll focus on the ones I already have by not accepting any more into the pile.  My review policy will be updated accordingly and I will post again if/when submissions reopen.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to attend Authors After Dark 2012 in New Orleans in August. This was a serious bummer but I took a long hard look at my finances and there isn't any way to make it happen unfortunately. With that said, I'll do my best to fulfill the author feature slots for which I've already received information, but I won't be openly pursuing any more as that wouldn't be fair to other bloggers who are actually attending the con and want the author features completed prior to attending.

In light of all the recent unpleasantness in the blogosphere, and I won't be linking to any of it because that won't be helping the situation, I think it's important for everyone to take a second and check your own priorities and ways of handling things.  I've done this myself, and while blogging is and always has been something I do for fun and to connect with other people, and not something that defines me or who I am as a person.  Tom Robbins (my favorite writer of all time) in Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates (my favorite book of all time) included a character of a talking parrot, and that parrot always said "people of ze wurl, relax!"  That's what I say to all of this: People of the world, relax.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Tips for New Bloggers

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!


This week's theme is Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers.  This topic seems to come up every so often but my advice remains pretty much the same.  I'll be celebrating my third blogging birthday in August and when I look back on what I've learned since I started some themes definitely stand out.

Before we get started, here are some other posts that I've written on the subject (in no particular order:)
Find My Voice? I Didn't Know I'd Lost It!
You Have to Grow Where You're Planted, or, Why You Shouldn't Let People Tell You How to Write
Make it Stop! Make it Stop! (Writing Really Negative Reviews)
Wipe Up the Drool: Writing Extremely Positive Reviews

Hopefully you'll find those trips down memory lane to be...interesting. Anyway, on to the top ten!

Top Ten Tips for New Bloggers
1. There is no right or wrong way to review a book. Format the review any way you want to, include the details that you want to include, and review the book honestly. If you liked it, say why. If you didn't like it, say why.

2. Spellcheck. Even though this isn't anything that's being submitted for a grade or anything like that, it's still for public consumption and you want to put your best foot forward. By that same count, remember that spell check doesn't catch everything and you need to proofread too. Remember- a heroin addict is someone who needs rehab, while a heroine addict is someone who needs a book club. Just saying.

3. The preview feature is your friend. Blogger has this feature, and I'm sure Wordpress has something similar, but preview your blog posts before you post them. You'll catch a lot of weird formatting, awkward phrasing, or junk code that way. I know I do!

4. Don't stress out about getting review books.  They will come, if that's something that you're concerned about.  If you decide to never accept a review book and only want to review books you get from the library, that's totally fine too!  The point of book blogging is to talk about books with other people.  The source of the books isn't the deciding factor.

5. Reply to comments.  Everyone has phases where they're busier than others, but this is one area that's easy to work on and doesn't really take all that much time.  I figure, if someone took the time to comment on something I wrote, I can take the time to acknowledge what they said and keep the conversation going.  It's a work in progress but I'm working on it!

6. Turn off Captcha/any other word verification.  In three years of blogging I have never had enough spam comments to make an extra step like this worthwhile.  It's annoying, it keeps people from commenting, and if someone wants to spam they can do it anyway.  Turn. Off. Captcha.

7. If you want to do memes, do memes.  If you don't, don't. There are a ton of good ones out there, and this in and of itself is a meme so I do them too!  Personally I like a nice balance of meme and content (reviews, interviews, etc.) but it's your blog and you can party rock if you want to.

8. Be nice. I don't mean be fake- I mean follow the rules of common courtesy.  If you write a negative review, don't tweet the review link to the author.  If someone is rude to you, take the high road and ignore them.  Don't spam other people's posts- leave meaningful comments.  Basically, if you can't handle the rules of basic social interaction, learn how, and if you can follow those rules in real life, follow them online as well.

9. Write your own stuff. People that plagiarize or copy and paste recklessly and without proper citation will be caught. Besides, when you write your own stuff you have a finished product that you can be proud of!

10. Have fun. For most of us, blogging is a hobby that we turn to after a long day of doing whatever it is we do. It's very easy to take things too seriously and to have the fun be leeched out. Don't let that happen. Read the books you love and then talk about them with other people. Easy as that!

Link to your Top Ten Tuesday post in the comments so I can take a look see!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Adventures in Rereading: Immortals After Dark, part I

One of my projects for 2012 is to reread and enjoy again some of my favorite series.  One of the things I found I missed the most about my reading was going back and enjoying books that I had already read and/or reviewed so I went ahead and officially gave myself permission to reread a book or series if I felt so inclined.

First up is the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole!  I somehow got behind in this series and haven't read Lothaire yet, probably because it came out in hardcover right after Christmas when my book budget was a little on the thin side, but be that as it may, I'm getting back in the swing of things!  I've read the first five full length novels so far and am stoked to keep working my way through the rest of the series.  As a result, rather than writing individual reviews for each book, especially when I've already reviewed some of the titles and not others, I'll be using these Adventures in Rereading posts to log the books and to give a quick rundown of my thoughts after finishing them for the second (or more) time.



A Hunger Like No Other- Rereading this one was what made me decide to jump in with rereading the entire series.  It also motivated me to get both this book and the second one in the series from Audible when they were on sale a few weeks ago. Dreamy!








No Rest for the Wicked- I think this is one of the most often overlooked books in the series, which is a shame because it's fabulous!  Sebastien is such a beta hero but he totally falls for Kaderin in such a sweet way that I root for them the whole time.  Especially when they get the chance to complete both their families! Sigh.  This one is going to be excellent as an audiobook as well- lucky me!







Wicked Deeds on a Winter's Night- While this one is also excellent, as are all the others, I think Mariketa is one of my favorite heroines in a book, period. I love how she's such a badass but so real at the same time, and her reactions to all of Bowen's actions, good bad or indifferent, feel really real to me.  She also helps Bowen get his head out of his ass, and that's a good thing.  This audiobook comes out in June, I think, and I'm really looking forward to that too.






Dark Needs at Night's Edge- I take it back, this is probably the most under-appreciated or under-hyped book in the series, which is a shame, because Neomi and Conrad are awesome!  Both are so different from other characters out there but both are such a good fit for the other. I forgot how spicy this book was too.  Rereading is even more fun when you get to re-discover a fun book you'd kind of forgotten about.







Dark Desires After Dusk- This book is the reigning champion for my favorite book in the series.  Cade and Holly are such an odd couple but that's what makes them so endearing.  Cade is noble to a fault and Holly is a little bit nutty but totally badass at the same time.  The ending of this book is super sweet too.  Hopefully future books will feature more of these two.





What book or series of books do you love to reread, or would you reread if you had the time?  What keeps you from rereading books?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Prime Obsession

Title: Prime Obsession
Author: Monette Michaels
Page Count: Super novel (length according to publisher's website,) Kindle format
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Genre: science fiction romance, first in a series
Copy for review was purchased by me
Buy a copy here

Synopsis:
Melina Dmitros is a seasoned battleship captain for the Galactic Alliance. Calls from ships in distress are not all that uncommon in the outermost spirals of the Milky Way. Calls from the warlike Prime were. Now that they were allies, Mel figures she’d better get used to working in conjunction with the chauvinistic race. She never expected to be attracted to one of them.

The Prime, one of the oldest species in the galaxy, were known for going their own way. But with problems on Cejuru Prime and increasing attacks by the Antareans, the Prime joined the Alliance to lend their expertise in battling the warlike reptilian species--and ultimately, to survive as a race.

Captain Wulf Caradoc, the eldest son and heir apparent of the Prime leader, looked forward to the trip to the Alliance ambassadorial planet. His mission is ostensibly to deliver the diplomatic team to the new Prime embassy. His real mission is to meet his fated mate, his gemate, one of the Lost Ones. Wulf hadn’t anticipated the diplomatic mission being attacked by pirates--and he especially hadn’t anticipated his gemate, Melina Dmitros, being the one sent to rescue his ship.

Two strong people pulled together by biology and fate. Their union will be forged in a crucible of survival, treachery and duty.
*****

I am enjoying the heck out of my spring break right now, and among the things on my list to do and enjoy  this week is to get caught up (hopefully) on reviews!  I was inspired to read Prime Obsession after Sandra Sookoo recommended it in her guest post back in February. Incidentally, make sure to read her book, Ricochet, while you're at it.

Anyway, Prime Obsession is a fun story for a variety of reasons. I love a good space-based science fiction romance, first of all. Load me up with intergalactic alliances and drama and politial intrigue and I am a seriously happy camper. Prime Obsession doesn't break any new ground in this area, but an engaging setting is established with a bigger conflict that will carry on through future installments in the series and still maintain its momentum.

Second, I enjoyed the subtle but still important twist on the fated mate trope that shows up in romance all the time. I don't have an issue with this element at all, far from it in fact, but I think it's a good thing when an author takes something that's tried and true and reworks it into something novel. In this case, the element was the idea of battle mates- sort of like super charged fated mates who also complement each other as fighters. The idea was used well here to kind of propel our hero and heroine into getting to know each other and quit bickering a little sooner, which worked for me in this story.

This isn't a perfect story- there are a lot of cliches in the writing, both from the science fiction angle and from the romance angle (I'm totally okay with a futuristic world having regular hours instead of standard hours, and if I ever own a racehorse I'm going to name it Throbbing Member) but they didn't overly detract from my enjoyment of the story. The language of the story is also something that I tend to notice one time when I read a book and not another- I initially read this book back in February cover to cover and didn't notice the language that time around, but as I flipped back through the book in preparation for writing this review it definitely stood out to me more.  Still a fun story though!

According to the author's website, the next book in the series is called Prime Selection and while no release date is provided that I could see, I definitely enjoyed reading this first installment enough to be on board for the second.  It's worth noting as well that this book isn't available through Amazon, my vendor of choice, but then again I don't think any Liquid Silver Books titles are available via Amazon.  Please correct me if I'm wrong though!  As it stands now, this was a fun, spicy space romance with plenty of room for the series to grow from here.

Overall Rating:



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Charity Hop Giveaway Winner!



I'm a little late to the party on this one, but I'm happy to announce that the winner of my Charity Hop giveaway for the $15 gift certificate to the winner's vendor of choice is...Angela Winesburg! She has been contacted, thanks to everyone who entered and stick around for more great things (promise!) here at What Book is That?!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday- One Day Reads




Top Ten Tuesday is brought to you by The Broke and the Bookish! 


This week's theme is top ten books that can be read in a day! This is especially useful considering that this time next week I'll be parked in a chair at the beach that's down the street from my house- lucky me!


The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook- I LOVE this book!  The setting is so engrossing and the romance is top notch.  Once you start reading you won't be able to stop.









Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn- Another winner!  It's a combination of historical mystery and romance that's super engrossing. It's also the start of a series, which is always fun when you have to figure out what to read next!








Magic Bites by Kate Daniels- Speaking of start to a great series, I can glom volume after volume of this series with no problems.  These are perfect books for traveling, because ignoring all the grumpy people in the airport suddenly gets a whole lot easier.  Yay!







A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore- Anything this guy writes is hilarious, but this book is particularly suited to reading in a day because a) it's an excellent story, and b) it's a standalone book (as far as I know anyway) and that seems to be pretty rare these days.







Tinker by Wen Spencer- Elves + physics + romance = win.  The third book in this trilogy comes out in July and I'm super excited!









The entire Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh-  I wouldn't start the series with Kiss of Snow although I definitely read it in a day when it first came out.  No, I would start at the beginning of the series and shotgun them one after another.  Yum!








The entire Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole- Another series that I definitely wouldn't start in the middle but instead would enjoy start to finish.  I'm in the middle of rereading it now actually.








The entire Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling- I remember being on vacation with my family in high school and carting my copy of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince to the beach and burning to a crisp when I was so engrossed that I forgot to flip over.  Life is rough sometimes.







The entire Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger- in all its steampunky goodness!  This is another series that I'm looking forward to getting caught up on soon, although now that the last one has been released I almost don't want to get to the end.  Again, life rough sometimes.







The entire Agent Pendergast series by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child- and now for something completely different!  I love that this list runs the gamut from steamy romance to wizardry to people getting ripped apart by monstrous creatures in the Museum of Natural History.  I just started revisiting this series last summer (again while at the beach) and it was good, good times.  I need to get further!






What are your top books to read in a day?  Also, are you participating in Top Ten Tuesday?  If so, leave a link in the comments and I'll check out your list!  Happy Tuesday!
























Monday, April 2, 2012

March in Review: Spring Has Sprung :D

Spring has indeed sprung, and that means that days at the beach here at my neck of the woods should be here soon! Spring break is next week for me, and I'm looking forward to parking it in my lawn chair and reading some of the books that have been hanging out on my TBR pile as well as getting caught up on other things. I was signed up to be a part of Bloggiesta this past weekend and I'm ashamed to say that I totally borked it- I didn't get anything done! I worked on a lot of other projects I've had half finished so it wasn't like the weekend was wasted, I just didn't really get the urge to do blog related stuff which is a shame. Hopefully the time off that's coming will get me jumpstarted to accomplish some of my blog-related projects. In the meantime, here's how things played out in March:


Books Reviewed in March
Jane's Warlord by Angela Knight
A Brush of Darkness by Allison Pang
The Shadow Reader by Sandy Williams
Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

Books Listened to in March
The Rabbit Factory by Marshall Karp (LOVED it, as usual- review forthcoming)
still working on The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook

Reviews to Write, In No Particular Order
Enemy Within by Marcella Burnard
Alpha Instinct by Katie Reus
Prime Obsession by Monette Michaels

I've also reread the first five books in the Immortals After Dark series by Kresley Cole and am hoping to finish the rest of the series soon so I can finally read Lothaire- I'm so behind! What are you all up to?
 
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