Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Book Bonanza!

I've really enjoyed Waiting on Wednesday.  I've discovered some new blogs, had my blog discovered by others, and found some new-to-me books to add to my wish list.  But I'm going to take a little break from the meme for a while.  I'll still do my Book Pimpin posts as books come up but I want to work on writing more reviews for the site.  I thought I'd go out with a bang and list a bunch of my can't-wait-to-read books.  Thank you for visiting and be sure to check back next week when I'll post a bunch of books that are of notable interest, even if they haven't made it on to my can't-wait-to-read list.  So, without further ado, here's your weekly meme:

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights anticipated upcoming releases. This week my can't-wait to-read books are:

by Meljean Brook
Drops September 4, 2012

A century after a devastating volcanic eruption forced Iceland’s inhabitants to abandon its shores, the island has become enshrouded in legend. But the truth behind the legends is mechanical, not magical—and the mystery of the island a matter of life and death for a community of women who once spilled noble blood to secure their freedom.

Five years ago, Annika unwittingly endangered that secret, but her sister K√§lla took the blame and was exiled. Now Annika serves on an airship, searching for her sister and longing to return home. But that home is threatened when scientific expedition leader David Kentewess comes aboard, looking to expose Annika’s secrets. Then disaster strikes, leaving David and Annika stranded on a glacier and pursued by a madman, with their very survival depending on keeping the heat rising between them—and generating lots of steam

As far as I am concerned, Meljean Brook is one of the best steampunk writers out there.  (As well as one of the best paranormal writers, too.)  Her stories are built on complex mythologies that continue to reveal new depths with each read.  She's a crackerjack storyteller and her books are filled with action, high stakes danger, and steamy romance.  Her male characters are great but where she really shines is with her female characters.   I've already pre-ordered Rivetted and can't wait for it to come out. 

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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Quick and Dirty Reviews: "C" Ya Around

Two books from two of my favorite authors.  What a drag that both were... underwhelming.

Oracle's Moon (Elder Races, #4) by Thea Harrison
After a long hiatus away from writing, Harrison burst back into the scene with the well-received and enormously entertaining Dragon Bound, the first book in her Elder Races series.  Less than a year later she has released the fourth book in the series, Oracle's Moon, the story of Djinn Khalil and Grace, the newest Oracle.  This book has all the hallmarks of a Harrison tale.  Super hot hero, feisty heroine, magical hijinks and danger.  So why am I meh about it?  Maybe because if the supernatural aspect is removed, you're left with a (decently written), Harlequin.  Or it could be Grace's niece and nephew, straight out of cute kid central casting, who, improbably and immediately, bonded with the hero, a trope common to romancelandia kids.  (Have I mentioned that I am not a fan of kids in books?)  Or it could be the hero, an intense, alpha-arrogant, djinn who never transcended the type.   The heroine, too, remained a character type, one I feel like I 've read too many times before.  23 years old, she becomes guardian to her young niece and nephew when her sister and husband die in a car accident. She also inherits her sister's power, becoming the new Oracle.  This doesn't mean life is rosy.  She lives a fairly isolated life, with virtually no emotion support from anyone.  She has no one to rely on.  She is on the verge of declaring bankruptcy and relies on foodstamps to help feed her family.  Along comes super powerful, rich guy and suddenly life starts to get better.  The plot was disjointed and the bad guys seemed peripheral to the story, only there to give Khalil a reason to have to save Grace.  Moments that should have felt, well, momentous, such as when Grace fully accepted her power or when she is confronted by Khalil's crazy-assed daughter, were anticlimactic.  A shame, really because those were events I expected and wanted more from.  The book wasn't dull but it also wasn't particularly engaging.  Like I said, take away the supernatural aspect and this could have been a category romance, not terrible but nothing to write home about either.  The next book is supposed to revolve around Pia and Dragos, from book one, so hopefully, the series will return to its former level.
Grade: C+

Undone Deeds (Connor Grey, #6) by Mark Del Franco
This is the final book in the Connor Grey series and one I have been anxiously awaiting.  Finally, a series that actually ends and gives some resolution instead of stringing the reader along with never ending adventures of the paranormal kind.  (I like my series, I do, but at some point, a girl needs some closure.)  I'm ambivalent about this book, though.  It's not Del Franco's best effort.  A majority of the book is spent with Connor laying low, as he is now considered a terrorist, and rehashing things that occurred in the previous novels.  And, somehow, Connor manages to get kidnapped three times so I guess he's not that good at hiding out.  We meet Connors parents for what solely seems to be a chance for them to impart some crucial information about Connor's past; there's no other reason for them to be in the book and they add little too the story.  The book wraps things up in the end but, I have to tell ya, I'm not sure I completely understood what happened.  I mean, I understood the events but not what they meant.  I cannot say that I was disappointed; I'd have to have understood the book better to be disappointed.   I will say that one of the appealing things to me about the Connor Grey series was how nicely paced each book was.  Unfortunately, the pacing was off in Undone Deeds.  A bummer since it was the last book and I wanted to end the series on a  high note.  We do get some answers in this book but, ultimately, I was left feeling unsatisfied.  There was a lack of cohesion to the story and I was left confused by the end.  I have read other reviews that say that if you are knowledgable about Arthurian legends, the end makes much more sense.  I have a fair amount of knowledge but I still didn't get it.
Grade: C

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday:: The Killing Moon

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights anticipated upcoming releases. This week my can't-wait to-read book is:

by N.K. Jemisin
Drops May 1, 2012

In the city-state of Gujaareh, peace is the only law. Along its ancient stone streets, where time is marked by the river’s floods, there is no crime or violence. Within the city’s colored shadows, priests of the dream-goddess harvest the wild power of the sleeping mind as magic, using it to heal, soothe... and kill.

But when corruption blooms at the heart of Gujaareh’s great temple, Ehiru—most famous of the city’s Gatherers—cannot defeat it alone. With the aid of his cold-eyed apprentice and a beautiful foreign spy, he must thwart a conspiracy whose roots lie in his own past. And to prevent the unleashing of deadly forbidden magic, he must somehow defeat a Gatherer’s most terrifying nemesis: the Reaper

Here ya go: Read SAMPLE CHAPTER1

N.K.Jemisin is the real deal, not only a good storyteller but also a sharp writer.  I am woefully behind in completing The Inheritance Trilogy but that won't stop me from grabbing The Killing Moon when it is released.  She is one of the best new writers to come around in years and her writing is rich, filled with lots of layers, fresh and thoroughly entertaining.  Plus, she's a fellow New Yorker, so how can I not support her?  She's friggin fantastic.

***Don't forget to leave a comment if you're participating in Waiting On Wednesday with a link to your can't-wait-to-read so I can swing on by!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Excerpts! Get Your Excerpts Here!

The thing with can't-wait-to-read books is that, well, I can't wait to read 'em.  To hold me over until the books come out, I googled around for some excerpts.  Wet my whistle and rack up the anticipation at the same time, as it were.  And I thought I'd share the love with you all.  So here are some excerpt links to the books I am most looking forward to.  Not familiar with the authors?  Check 'em out.  You may find something you like.

Sacrificial Magic by Stacia Kane excerpt with a link to download the first 3 chapters!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

I can't remember how I first discovered Seanan McGuire.  Sure, she's a female author who writes about kickass female protagonists in fantastical worlds and, sure, that's the kind of story that gives me a big ol' book boner, but that also describes the majority of urban fantasies and there are plenty of those I haven't gotten around to reading yet, as evidenced by my (way too large), TBR pile.  Somehow I found her though, and I became an immediate fan, reading not only every book in her October Daye series but also the Newsflesh series written under the name Mira Grant.  One of the things that stands out for me with McGuire's books is how inventive they are. She often starts with a familiar mythology that quickly turns into something unique and special, whether it's due to the complex and uncommon details she brings to her stories or the fact that the stakes are always high.  Both series are super and when the prolific McGuire announced the beginning of a third series, I knew I had to get my hands on it as soon as it came out.

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire
Incryptid, #1
ISBN: 0756407133
ISBN13:  9780756407131
Published March 6, 2012 by DAW Books
Grade: A
Blurb: Ghoulies. Ghosties. Long-legged beasties. Things that go bump in the night... The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity-and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she'd rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and is spending a year in Manhattan while she pursues her career in professional ballroom dance. Sounds pretty simple, right? It would be, if it weren't for the talking mice, the telepathic mathematicians, the asbestos supermodels, and the trained monster-hunter sent by the Price family's old enemies, the Covenant of St. George. When a Price girl meets a Covenant boy, high stakes, high heels, and a lot of collateral damage are almost guaranteed. To complicate matters further, local cryptids are disappearing, strange lizard-men are appearing in the sewers, and someone's spreading rumors about a dragon sleeping underneath the city...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Gunmetal Magic

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights anticipated upcoming releases. This week my can't-wait to-read book is:

Gunmetal Magic
by Ilona Andrews
Drops July 31, 2012

Some people have everything figured out — Andrea Nash is not one of those people. After being kicked out of the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, Andrea's whole existence is in shambles. All she can do is try to put herself back together, something made easier by working for Cutting Edge, a small investigative firm owned by her best friend, Kate Daniels. 

When several shapeshifters working for Raphael Medrano — the male alpha of Clan Bouda and Andrea's former lover — die unexpectedly at a dig site, Andrea is assigned to investigate ... and must work with Raphael.  As her search for the killer leads her into the secret underbelly of supernatural Atlanta, Andrea knows that dealing with her feelings for Raphael might have to take a backseat to saving the world ...

If you haven't been reading the Kate Daniels series, start.  Now.  Written by a husband and wife team under the name Ilona Andrews, this is a series that has gotten better with each book.  Seriously.  The whole series is awesome-sauce.  

Gunmetal Magic, unlike the previous books in the series, focuses on Kate's best friend, Andrea and it's probably best if you read the proceeding books before picking this one up.  Especially the novella, Magic Mourns, from the anthology Must Love Hellhounds.  (A solid anthology, by the way.)  This book should raise the stakes even higher in the complex, volatile world of the Kate Daniels series and also promises some heavy duty sparks clashes  romantical drama between former lovers Andrea and Raphael, both of whom are FANTASTIC characters.  This is an urban fantasy, though, so expect plenty of action, violence and things that go boom.  After all, Andrea is a weapons specialist and more apt to take on the bad guys with heavy duty artillery than relying on her shapeshifter skills.

You can find links to chapter one excerpts from Gunmetal Magic here.

***As always, don't forget to leave a comment if you're participating in Waiting On Wednesday with a link to your can't-wait-to-read so I can swing on by!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Archangel's Storm

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event hosted byJill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights anticipated upcoming releases. This week my can't-wait to-read book is:

Archangel’s Storm
By Nalini Singh
Drops September 4, 2012

Enter New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh’s darkly beautiful world of archangels and immortal power, as a pact is sealed between two souls bound by blood, stirred by desire, and driven by vengeance…

With wings of midnight and an affinity for shadows, Jason courts darkness. But now, with the Archangel Neha’s consort lying murdered in the jewel-studded palace that was his prison and her rage threatening cataclysmic devastation, Jason steps into the light, knowing he must unearth the murderer before it is too late.

Earning Neha’s trust comes at a price—Jason must tie himself to her bloodline through the Princess Mahiya, a woman with secrets so dangerous, she trusts no one.  Least of all an enemy spymaster.

With only their relentless hunt for a violent, intelligent killer to unite them, Jason and Mahiya embark on a quest that leads to a centuries-old nightmare… and to the dark storm of an unexpected passion that threatens to drench them both in blood.

How am I going to wait until September for this book?  Seriously.  How?
Singh is one of the best paranormal writers out there.  Her world building is stellar, her plots are gripping, her characters intriguing, and the romance is sexy as shit.  Her books are multi-layered and uncommonly good.  Thank god her next book, Tangle of Need (Psy-Changeling, #11), will be out in May so at least there's that.  But the book I can't wait to read is Archangel's Storm, the fifth book in her Guild Hunter series.  The series took a bit of a dip with the third book but the fourth book slam kicked it up to a whole new dark, dangerous, provocative level.  (And it landed a spot on my keeper shelf.)  I have high, high hopes for this book.
If you're not familiar with Singh's work, I suggest you check it out.  Either the Psy-Changeling series or the Guild Hunter series.  Both are terrific, with depths not usually found in paranormal romances.  Plus, did I mention, the books are also hot, hot, hot?  'Cause they are.

***Don't forget to leave a comment if you're participating in Waiting On Wednesday with a link to your can't-wait-to-read so I can swing on by!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When a Book Is Released Before it's Official Release Date

So, it's no secret that I am a huge, huge fan of Seanan McGuire's books.  She is one of my favorite authors (which you'd know if you read my About Me page.)  That's why I pre-ordered Discount Armageddon last week from Barnes and Noble.  I wanted that book in my hot, greedy little hands the minute it was released and when the book arrived early, on March 1st, I was surprised and a little giddy.  I read it immediately and today I sat down to begin working on my review.  (I loved it, by the way, and, hopefully, the review will be up later this week.) I started googling around just to gather some background info and came across this post by McGuire in which she asks readers to wait until the official release date to buy the book.  Any books bought before the official release date do not count towards the first week sale numbers.  At this point, I suppose it doesn't matter since the book has now been officially released but I feel a little bad.  While getting a book early is beneficial to me as a book blogger, I don't want to contribute to hurting an authors sales when it could potentially decrease the likelihood of the series continuing.  And I want this series to continue.  It was so much fun.

But, as a consumer, I also want what I want when I want it.  I am happy resigned to wait until a book has been officially released before receiving it but if the book arrives in the mail before it's hard release date, I won't turn it away.  Receiving Discount Armageddon so quickly was unexpected but, at the time, I thought nothing of it.  (Partly because I only knew the book was due to be released very soon, not the actual date of release).  And, it turns out, McGuire's book was not the only book I received early.  I had also ordered Thea Harrison's Oracle's Moon (release date March 6) which arrived on March 2nd. (Already read that one too.)

The bottom line: this is a problem between the bookstores and publishers.  If first week sales are as important as they seem to be then it is up to the publishers/booksellers to come up with a solution.  I see absolutely nothing wrong with an author asking her readers to wait until the officially release to purchase a book, however, it will not solve the problem.  Because the problem isn't with the reader, it is with the distributor.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Link Love

It's Friday and you know what that means - links, links and more links! 
Let's get the ugliest topic out of the way first.

Unfortunately, children are now being exposed to same-sex marriage in your toy store. This is the last place a parent would expect to be confronted with questions from their children on topics that are too complicated for them to understand. Issues of this nature are being introduced too early and too soon, which is becoming extremely common and unnecessary.
You know, children don't question same-sex marriage unless they have already been taught that it is wrong.  There is nothing complicated about gay marriage, no issues to be explained.  Two same-sex adults fall in love and decide to spend the rest of their lives together.  That's it.  It only becomes "complicated"  and an "issue" when prejudice and hate are brought into the mix.  I feel sorry for the parents who's children come to them with questions about this issue and they are forced to explain what a bigot is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Quick & Dirty Reviews: Eh, Whatever

So far, this year has not been a great one for me in terms of my book reading.  I'm reading less due to real life obligations and quite a few of the books I have managed to read have turned out to be duds.  It's been a bit disheartening and made me a tich grumpy.  But I persevere.  I know a great book is just around the corner.  Below are a couple of quick reviews of some of my recent reads.    

Wild Cat (Shifters Unbound, #3) by Jennifer Ashley
I find the world building in this series really interesting - Shape shifters are forced to wear collars that inhibit their aggression and they must live in "Shiftertowns".  They are barred from using certain types of technology such as the Internet, cable, and dvds, and it is legal for humans to hunt and kill uncollared shape shifters.  In this world, I am not sure Shifters are even considered 2nd class citizens.  More like 3rd or 4th.  Not something I'm used to seeing in paranormal romances.  It is really fascinating.  But the romance part is kinda ordinary and a little dull and doesn't live up to the world it takes place in.  There's a hunky Latino cop and an unimpressive Feline shifter heroine. He's a standard beefcake hero who doesn't really stand out in my mind from all the other hot cops out there in Romancelandia.  The heroine is the second-in-command at the Shiftertown... but I couldn't tell you why.  She is kind of a pussy (no pun intended), and when she comes face to face with the dude responsible for the death of her mate, the dude who has also been trying to kill her, she ultimately forgives him because he had a good reason.  Seriously?  And she's the second toughest shifter in Shiftertown?  Despite that, this is an ok read, light and quick moving.  The world is arresting, the main couple underwhelming but inoffensive, and the long-term story arc is deepened further.  Throw in a bunch of action scenes plus some sexy sex and your left with a decent bedtime fantasy read.  GRADE C+  

Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles, #3) by Kevin Hearne
In the third volume of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Atticus and a bunch of magical dudes set out to kill Thor, stopping along the way for some boring male bonding, peppered with cheap fan geek jokes, while occasionally wondering if they are acting “too gay.”  I guess that no matter how old you are, no matter how powerful your powers are, no matter the life you have lived and the cultures you have encountered in your long, long lifetime… a guy still worries about being thought a fag.  These guys have been around for hundreds and hundreds of years but you’d never know it by the way they act.  As with the first two books, Atticus is not believable as a thousand year old druid.  In the past we have heard how he cultivates a certain personality so he can pass as a 21-year-old human except its not that hard because, emotionally, he is a 21-year-old, filled with unsuccessful snark and lame quips.  There is a lot of death in this book but who cares?  These characters are dull and ordinary despite being extraordinary beings.  It's a cliche that men don't share their feelings; if you go by this book it's because their feelings are boring, petulant, and self-involved.  The book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger but I couldn't muster up the energy to care.  GRADE C-

Where'd I Get 'Em:  I received both books via