Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Book Review: Heaven's Queen

From the moment she took a job on Captain Caldswell's doomed ship, Devi Morris' life has been one disaster after another: government conspiracies, two alien races out for her blood, an incurable virus that's eating her alive.

Now, with the captain missing and everyone -- even her own government -- determined to hunt her down, things are going from bad to impossible. The sensible plan would be to hide and wait for things to blow over, but Devi's never been one to shy from a fight, and she's getting mighty sick of running.

It's time to put this crisis on her terms and do what she knows is right. But with all human life hanging on her actions, the price of taking a stand might be more than she can pay.

Absolutely 100% loved this book with every fiber of my being. Glorious, appropriate ending to a glorious crazy ride.

+++

(let's continue the trend of how I open these reviews eh?)  So you're a kick ass merc who, through no fault of your own find yourself flung through hyperspace unguided with the ship mate you formerly was repulsed by, but found out you share an intense relationship with that he wiped from your memory for your own good just so you wouldn't be chased from one end of universe to the other.  Luck being the bitch it is you run into your former lover (who told you about the cursed ship that landed you in this mess), your former captain is part of the detail that is hunting you down and shooting first, asking questions later and oh yeah that pesky attraction to Rupert....

What would you do?  Well if you're Deviana Morris you threaten EVERYONE within an inch of their lives and then do the reckless thing just because you can.

Please let us take a moment to mourn for Lady Gray, who valiantly and without fear fought with Devi through everything.  Never once faltering and always, always being the wind beneath her wings.  Even more then Rupert.

As the final book in what was a roller coaster thrill ride of a trilogy, I was hopeful this would live up to all my expectations.  Bach has, through this trilogy and her fantasy series (under Rachel Aaron), never given me room to doubt that she will end with a bang.  Her characters don't know what "quiet" or "subtle" even means quite frankly.  Even the ones who claim they do (looking at you Rupert).  And since Devi is hell of a lot more of a ACTION YEAH chick then anyone in the Eli Monpress books ever was, I expected a lot of explosions and fighting.

Bach didn't disappoint.

Let's get this out of the way--awwww Rupert!  That man...he's just...there are no words for this man that would do him justice.  Not since Valek have I been so enamored of a fictional guy before.  He could literally do NO wrong in my (or Devi's apparently) book.  Shady past? Big deal.  Shady present? Pfft who cares.  A way with words that could charm a girl out of her Paradoxian armor quicker then you could say "Sacred King"?  Oh my sainted stars.

I liked that Bach had Devi seriously consider every angle about what being Rupert would mean.  She doesn't take any of it lightly and doesn't allow Rupert to underestimate her.  When Devi wants something nothing in the universe will stop her from having it.  Her dream of being a Devestator led her to join a cursed ship with a 100% turn over rate on security personal for crying out loud.  The two finally communicating on equal terms did a lot to making me handwave some of their less then smart moments.

The resolution to Devi's problem, as well as the Phantom problem and the Daughter system and Ma'at and even Rupert's issues was so freaking easy I almost laughed.  Not that getting it done was easy, but the actual trigger was really easy.  At one point Caldswell says that they should have just talked to Rupert and Devi and worked with them instead of fighting with them.  Well duh. 

And Devi is, as always, marvelous.  Whether its when she's fighting to stay calm (her mother always said her anger would be the death of her), struggling to understand the Phantoms or having a truly divine moment Devi is Devi.  Her choice is almost always 'hit it until it stops', but you know what?  You can't argue with what works.

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

PR Special Edition: Sharon Lynn Fisher Guest Post!

Poisoned Rationality Special  Edition

Welcome to another Poisoned Rationality Special Edition!  Today we  welcome Sharon Lynn Fisher, author of the recently released (and awesome) The Ophelia Prophecy and Ghost Planet!
+++
Summary
Our world is no longer our own.
We engineered a race of superior fighters--the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us.
In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.

Asha and Pax—strangers and enemies—find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource—information—viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.

Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

But neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other's secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

+++
 
 Uncrossing the star-crossed lovers in THE OPHELIA PROPHECY

On book tour I always ask for post suggestions from bloggers — when you're writing two dozen, it can be maddening to come up with something original for each one. I really liked Poisoned Rationality’s suggestion for this one: "crafting Pax and Asha's bond over time to make it believable they'd trust each other with their lives."

I'll tell you right now that was one of the trickiest aspects of this book. I'd thought the couple in my first book, GHOST PLANET, were star-crossed, but they had it easy compared to Asha and Pax. Frankly, Romeo and Juliet had it easy compared to Asha and Pax.

When these two find themselves abandoned together on a beach, neither with any memory of how they got there, it takes Asha a few pages to figure out they're enemies. Enemies as in HIS kind (a genetically engineered race of human/insect beings called the Manti) released a virus that all but wiped out HER kind (the humans, who created the Manti).

Furthermore Pax believes she might be a spy, so he forces her to board his ship so he can interrogate her.

And probably I should also mention he has a genetic oversensitivity to pheromones that makes him behave very … *aggressively* toward her in the first chapter of the book.

As a writer I am mostly a pantser, though I do have a high-level summary I work from in the early stages of development. I know the general direction I'm headed, and more or less how the story will end. But the romantic arc … for me it's not something that can be planned. It has to develop organically.

As I progressed with this story, the romance began to slowly slimmer. The chemistry between them felt thick and inevitable. But as each new plot development unfolded, in the back of my mind I was fretting a bit. How would these two ever let down their guard enough to come together? Particularly when Asha kept running from him, and regularly encountered other characters more sympathetic to her plight.

The answer was little by little, beginning with the moment in chapter one when Pax realizes his body has "tuned" to Asha as his mate. His physiology drives him to make her his, but his human side fights to protect her from those subconscious drives. That becomes the foundation for a slow growing, but very powerful emotional — and yes, eventually physical — bond.

I remember one of my early readers, a science fiction fan who's in one of my yoga classes, demanding, "When are they going to have sex?" I loved this, because what it told me was she was buying the romance.

I don’t usually include reviews in my blog posts, but the one from RT Book Reviews is very special to me. Having read this post, I think you’ll understand why!

a sexy, irresistible take on the enemies-to-lovers trope. […] the development of this slow-burn romance feels authentic, organic and totally satisfying.

  +++

Thank you Sharon for perfectly illustrating why these two worked so well! I can fully attest to the fact that from the first it seems unthinkable that they could ever get to a point where trust is granted, never mind anything else.  Want to know more about what I thought?  Check out my review :) 

About the Author

A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2015).

Author Links:



Follow Sharon on her Blog Tour!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Avon Addicts Application is Live!

http://www.avonaddicts.com

Remember some time ago when I was talking about being an Avon Addict?  Its Avon's "super reader" program for passionate readers who love romance.

For 6 months you'll have access to exclusive content such as author chats, reader discussions, events, blog tours, books and so much more! 

And once you're an Addict you're always an Addict.  Read about my experiences in my "Confessions of Being an Avon Addict" post from last year.

Applications close May 1st, 2014 so make sure you toss your hat in!  Click the image above or go to Avon Addicts Application.


Requirements:

• You must be 18 or older to apply.
• Open to U.S. residents only.
• You must answer all the questions as completely as possible for consideration.
• You can apply again once a year for this special program.



Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Ilona Andrews "BURN FOR ME" Cover Reveal!


Summary:  #1 New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews launches a brand new Hidden Legacy series, in which one woman must place her trust in a seductive, dangerous man who sets off an even more dangerous desire…

Nevada Baylor is faced with the most challenging case of her detective career-a suicide mission to bring in a suspect in a volatile case. Nevada isn’t sure she has the chops. Her quarry is a Prime, the highest rank of magic user, who can set anyone and anything on fire.

Then she’s kidnapped by Connor “Mad” Rogan - a darkly tempting billionaire with equally devastating powers. Torn between wanting to run or surrender to their overwhelming attraction, Nevada must join forces with Rogan to stay alive.

Rogan’s after the same target, so he needs Nevada. But she’s getting under his skin, making him care about someone other than himself for a change. And, as Rogan has learned, love can be as perilous as death, especially in the magic world.

Release: October 28, 2014

My Reaction: What can you say about a book you're so excited for?  I think it looks wonderful - it fits the more romantic tone of the book, and oh hey look at that look Nevada is giving!  I'm eager to see what scene this fits (as Ilona says below) as well. Plus who doesn't like a destroyed city in the background of a romantic scene?

It is such a gorgeous, distinctive cover, melding together unique paranormal aspect of the world and the sizzle of the relationship between Mad Rogan and Nevada. It's rare when the cover captures a scene from the book exactly the way the author had imagined it. You learn to resign yourself to it. Covers aren't meant to be a literal representation of the narrative, but BURN FOR ME is.  It actually shows a pivotal scene, especially when combined with the aerial view splashback.  If you read the book, you'll know exactly what I mean. When I got the cover file, I sent it to a friend.  She emailed back in minutes.  The email said, "Who did you sacrifice to Cover Gods to get this?"
—Ilona Andrews on her reaction to the cover for BURN FOR ME

BURN FOR ME is a slight departure from Ilona Andrews’ other bestselling urban fantasy series. There’s still the trademark snappy dialogue/narrative and action-packed scenes, but there’s a stronger romance thread here that we wanted to get across right away with this cover.  Our hero Rogan is not just hot and sexy, but he’s powerful.  Like kill-you-with-a-stare powerful.  And Nevada is just as strong, only she doesn’t realize her full potential yet.  So I wanted to show off our couple, have that intimacy between them and not lose any kickass-ness (I know, not a real word, sorry).  The background with the exploding buildings around them…the idea was Ilona’s and the execution is just exquisite. 
—Erika Tsang, Ilona’s Editor extraordinaire



About the Author: “Ilona Andrews” is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing team. Ilona is a native-born Russian and Gordon is a former communications sergeant in the U.S. Army. Contrary to popular belief, Gordon was never an intelligence officer with a license to kill, and Ilona was never the mysterious Russian spy who seduced him. They met in college, in English Composition 101, where Ilona got a better grade. (Gordon is still sore about that.)

They have co-authored two New York Times and USA Today bestselling series, the urban fantasy of Kate Daniels and the romantic urban fantasy of The Edge and are working on the next volumes for both. They live in Texas with their two children and many dogs and cats.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Discussion: BookCon (formerly Power Reader Day) at BEA


All right folks let's get some information out there and boost the signal (so to speak) to maybe mitigate the backlash later on.

Two years ago BookExpo America (BEA) implemented their "consumer" day known as the Power Reader Day.  It was meant as a chance for every day passionate readers, not bloggers necessarily or industry related people, to have a chance to join in the fun that is BEA.  It was met with varying levels of wariness and muted excitement. 

To be frank there was a lot of mismanagement and bad handling of that first year.  Registration was confusing, picking up badges was insane, there was little to no guidance for the Power Readers so they didn't understand the "basics" of BEA and since no rules were given to them there was a lot of bad behavior that could have been avoided.  The second year (last year) was handled better--there was an orientation of sorts, a packet handed out with information and a better understanding of what a "Power Reader" was.

There was still bad behavior, though honestly it wasn't completely limited to their group, and there was a growing discontent amongst the publishers AND attendees about the Power Readers.  Some of them were lovely, wonderful people.  I spoke with a few in lines and answered their questions whenever they seemed confused.*  But its never the wonderful ones who get the light its the pushy, entitled, rude ones who do.  And there were some that just did not take a hint.

This year's Power Reader Day was met with the same level of trepidation and wariness amongst my friends, though we were doing our hardest to help educate anyone who expressed an interest.  Registration opened and Power Reader Day was an option.

A few days ago those who registered as a Power Reader received an email announcing the change over to "BookCon".  Information was at first scarce and jumbled.  Information is still rather scarce and jumbled as different reps are explaining things different ways.

Those of us who are obsessively linked into the BEA culture knew something would happen this year.  Its rather what BEA does; a sudden change is announced halfway to the conference and it leaves many of us floundering.  Usually it effects bloggers however--the change to the rules for bloggers, the BEA Bloggers changeover--so there's more discussion.  This change for Power Readers does not, to put it bluntly, effect bloggers.

Many of us have already (or are in the process of) registered as a blogger (or press).  For us BEA changing Power Reader Day to BookCon does not seem like something we need to worry over.  However because of this change it does effect us by proxy.



This is cut out of the exhibit hall floor plan.  If you look at the bottom right corner of 2577 you'll see a red dotted line that continues downwards.  That's the "consumer" line.  Everything to the Left is the "BookCon" area and everything to the right is not available to them.  2577 is the "autographing" table area and the teal-green area is where Publishers on the other half of the Consumer Line can set up smaller booths for BookCon on Saturday.

If you zoom in you can see some of the bigger publishers on that side:


Outside the Consumer Line:
Harper, MacMillian, Lerner, Penguin, Sourcebooks and Bloomsbury

Inside the Line:
Disney, Little Brown, Harlequin, Random House, "Simon & Schuster" and Spencer Hill

For Thursday/Friday this isn't a big deal.  Saturday is the big deal day as that's "BookCon".  As any veteran attendee knows the last day is usually the "quietest", though even that is relative.  The exhibit hall closes up earlier (3pm instead of 5pm) and many publishers will start closing up shop by 1:30pm (signings usually ended around 1pm at the Tables and between 1-2 for the booths).  By having the autographing area inside the Line however, it has the potential to become a large tangled web.

In the Publishers Weekly article Lance Fensterman says he "[...] is aiming to draw 10,000 visitors to BookCon this year".  BEA pass holders have access to that area, while BookCon holders can only stay in that area (of the Exhibit Hall, there are panels set up as well outside the Hall).  BEA suffers from having too much crowded into the space it uses already--the autographing table area especially. 

That's 10,000 people cordoned off in one area with the possibility (and likelihood) of thousands others walking in and out. 

Here's what we don't know:
+ How they will handle checking badges - on Saturday if the BookCon people can't come into the other part of the Exhibit Hall how will they check?  Will it be like when we enter, security guards checking for our badges?  How will that effect those of us who tend to ping pong back and forth between the Autographing Tables and the Booths?
+ How much books will cost - I'll pay for books. Especially if they're not out yet (not ARCs but early finished copies) or I can get a really good deal.  Hell my first BEA I thought I had to pay for them! But will there be discounts like at ALA where you can get a finished not yet released hardcover for $5 (instead of $29)?  Will it be retail?  Will there be a discounting structure all publishers adhere to?
+ Honoring the before Announcement Power Reader Registrants - in the BEA Goodreads group, one participant mentioned that their friend had received assurances that if they registered for PRDay before January they'd have all the same perks as last year. Um huh?  So the people who registered in good faith days before the announcement won't have those perks? 
+ Why the 11th Hour announcement? - Much like with the original announcement for Power Readers this BookCon announcement came out of the blue with little to no warning.  Why?  Why offer the Power Reader option then snatch it away 3 months later?

Here's what we do know:
+ Clarification of "business to business" - in the official FAQ for BookCon it states "What Fans won’t have access to are the “Business to Business” oriented booths that don’t have any content for fans".  Jessica (of the Midnight Bookworm) explained "business to business" this way:
The "business to business" are generally the vendors that are there, from the book industry (physical books or digital things or like Google Play will have a booth), that don't actually have any books with them that you can have. They're there to sell things on site or make contacts with people who will eventually buy their products, not give out samples like publishers do with ARCs. Those booths are useless to the general public as they're not looking to make contact with the general public since it's usually selling things on a wholesale level. 
That should be made more abundantly clear on the official FAQ of course, but that's why there's all of us.
+ Who is on which side of the "Consumer Line" - pretty much everyone listed in booth 2500 on up is on the "BookCon" side and everyone 2499 and down is part of the regular Exhibit Hall. Booths 2865 to 3153 are pretty much the "satellite" publisher booths so those on the other side of the divide can set up shop (on Saturday only) on that side as well.  We do not know who will have a satellite booth yet however.
+ Power Reader Day was an "experiment" - I don't think Rosato meant this as bad as it sounds (in the official BEAN blog post on the subject of BookCon), but I'm not sure you can count this as part of that "experiment" since the entire structure is different.  Power Readers had access to the WHOLE exhibit Hall floor.  BookCon attendees are only getting a small portion of that.  And while they claim that "All of the publisher booths and content that is a core part of BEA will be available on the BookCon Show Floor." this is misleading as attendees will only have access to the stuff publishers wish to show them on their side of the divide. 

Other People's Posts -

A few people have made other blog posts on the subject, so I thought I'd highlight them as we have several different opinions across the board.

- My Life in Books: Why BEA and BookCon Make Me a Rage Monster 
Christina is not happy.  She paid for her ticket in good faith expecting to have access to BEA and the industry opportunities therein, not to have limited access to a section where the publishers will be selling their books and less networking opportunities.

- Nicole Wolverton: BEA vs BookCon: What's the Difference?
Nicole takes a much more cautious attitude with the changes made.   She takes a much more practical view of the changes, though she is disappointed in how "BookCon" is being sold as.


- Wands and Worlds: My thoughts on BEA and BookCon
Sheila is relieved (happy even) that the feedback she offered last year to Reed was taken into consideration.  She understands that Reed is attempting to give "passionate readers" more opportunity for what they want without having to wad through sections that don't pertain to them.

More Official Announcements:

- the BEAN (official BEA blog): And Then BookCon was born....
- Publishers Weekly: BookCon to make Debut at BEA
- BookCon Official Press Release

So tell me, how do you all feel?  Does anyone have any more information?  Please feel free to fact check me on anything I said above, I'm not perfect and I may have misunderstood something.

(*) despite my sarcastic exterior I do genuinely enjoy helping people with their BEA journeys