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Best of 2008 List: Reviewer Janine

Janine was our third “Ja(y)ne” here at Dear Author. She provides beautifully written, well articulated reviews. She has varied tastes and puts an emphasis on well written prose. Janine is a slow, but careful reader:

  • DELICIOUS by Sherry Thomas*, Grade A
  • CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs, Grade A
  • PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS by Sherry Thomas*, Grade A-/A
  • WICKED INTENTIONS by Lydia Joyce, Grade A-
  • “LOS CONVERSOS” by Jesse Sandoval, in the anthology TANGLE, Grade A-
  • “EMBER” by Bettie Sharpe**, Grade A-
  • THE EDGE OF IMPROPRIETY by Pam Rosenthal, Grade A-
  • THE DUKE OF SHADOWS by Meredith Duran*, Grade A-
  • “REMEMBER” by Astrid Amara, in the anthology TANGLE, Grade A-
  • YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS by Loretta Chase, Grade B+/A-
  • GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre, Grade B+/A-
  • “LORD RONAN’S SHOES” by Astrid Amara, in the anthology TANGLE, Grade B+/A-
  • QUEEN OF DRAGONS by Shana Abe, Grade B+
  • “FERAL MACHINES” by Ginn Hale, in the anthology TANGLE, Grade B+
  • LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH by Emily Giffin, Grade B+
  • MINE TO POSSESS by Nailini Singh, Grade B+

*Full disclosure from Janine: Meredith Duran and Sherry Thomas are my good friends and critique partners, but since I enjoyed their 2008 books very much, I felt it would be a glaring omission not to include their them on my list of favorites.

**Added by Janine in 2009: Readers should know that I am now exchanging critiques with Bettie Sharpe as well. However, that was not the case when I read “EMBER.”

Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven books. Examples include novels by Shana Abe, Loretta Chase, Patricia Gaffney, Cecilia Grant, Judith Ivory, Carolyn Jewel, Laura Kinsale, Julie Anne Long, Alison Richardson, Nalini Singh and Pam Rosenthal. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, "Kiss of Life", appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com. or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

20 Comments

  1. Maya M.
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 12:59:24

    *thud*
    the sound of me fainting at the thought of having sherry thomas and meredith duran as critique partners

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  2. roslynholcomb
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 13:11:33

    Oh gee thanks, as if Janine hasn’t already got me strung out on one new (to me) author. I haven’t read any of these authors, so I’ve got my work cut out for me in the 2009. Nice to see reviewers who’s taste is similar to my own.

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  3. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 13:19:38

    *thud*
    the sound of me fainting at the thought of having sherry thomas and meredith duran as critique partners

    I know! It’s an embarrassment of riches. I feel like pinching myself sometimes.

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  4. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 13:29:07

    Roslyn, I always feel torn between giggling and cackling when you post about that! As a reviewer, it’s a beautiful melody to my ears. I’m glad you loved Cry Wolf so much (as well as the prequel, the novella “Alpha and Omega” in the anthology On the Prowl, which I recommend readers read first).

    I hope the rest of my recommendations work for you too.

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  5. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 13:33:07

    I feel compelled to add that Bettie Sharpe’s fantabulous novella, Ember, is available free on her website.

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  6. Lisa J
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 14:24:32

    Janine is right on target with the Nalini Singh book. The whole series is wonderful.

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  7. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 14:33:13

    Janine is right on target with the Nalini Singh book. The whole series is wonderful.

    Thanks, Lisa. After reading Slave to Sensation a couple of years ago, I caught up on the rest of the series this summer. I didn’t have time to review them, but Caressed by Ice was my favorite, followed closely by Mine to Possess.

    I am eager for Branded by Fire. The excerpt on Singh’s website is soooo hot.

    We were discussing the Psy/Chageling series on the DA email loop a few months ago and Jennie and I agreed that we would also love to see a book with Faith’s father, Anthony, as the hero.

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  8. Wendy
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 14:49:35

    Duh! Forehead slap me for forgetting Ember. Thanks for reminding me of the outstanding story of the year.

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  9. JulieLeto
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 15:11:35

    I read EMBER this summer on the recommendation of my plotting partner, Leslie Kelly. I was utterly blown away by its brilliance. I also read and loved PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. A couple of the other books are on my TBR (or downloaded to my Kindle) pile.

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  10. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 15:24:04

    Duh! Forehead slap me for forgetting Ember. Thanks for reminding me of the outstanding story of the year.

    Glad you enjoyed it! :)

    I read EMBER this summer on the recommendation of my plotting partner, Leslie Kelly. I was utterly blown away by its brilliance. I also read and loved PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS. A couple of the other books are on my TBR (or downloaded to my Kindle) pile.

    Glad you liked these also, Leslie. I hope you enjoy the others too.

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  11. Lisa J
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 16:09:31

    @janine: Visions of Heat was my favorite, because I love Vaughn. I know everyone says it is the weakest, but there was something in the story that touched a cord in me.

    I think I read a teaser on Nalini Singh’s blog that there might be more about Faith’s father coming down the road, maybe a book. He is a fascinating character.

    Branded by Fire does sound great and the cover looks hot (it is posted on Nalini’s blog). Also, Dev’s story is supposed to come out in November. I hate waiting so this is the best news.

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  12. Janine
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 16:15:11

    Lisa, Visions of Heat was my third favorite, ahead of Slave to Sensation and Hostage to Pleasure. I still haven’t read the novellas — I need to get those.

    I am so glad to hear there’s more coming about Faith’s father since I agree he’s fascinating. I think there’s also a new series about angels coming soon. It should be interesting as well.

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  13. Lisa J
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 16:17:43

    Jane commented on another thread she read the first book and liked it. I am looking forward to it.

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  14. Kimber An
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 08:36:16

    As far as I can tell, GRIMSPACE is the only book we at Enduring Romance also liked of all your Top Tens and ours. Tells you something about individual tastes.

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  15. Ginn Hale
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 13:58:32

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time and consideration to read and review so many books. Reviewers do a great service for both authors, like myself, and readers…uhm that would be me as well. So thank you!

    All my very best,
    Ginn

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  16. Janine
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 14:22:44

    As far as I can tell, GRIMSPACE is the only book we at Enduring Romance also liked of all your Top Tens and ours. Tells you something about individual tastes.

    Kimber, we haven’t finished posting our top tens yet — Jane, Jan, Janet/Robin and loonigrrl still have to post their lists, so we are only halfway through.

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  17. Janine
    Dec 19, 2008 @ 14:24:35

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time and consideration to read and review so many books. Reviewers do a great service for both authors, like myself, and readers…uhm that would be me as well. So thank you!

    Thanks Ginn! And may I say that had Wicked Gentlemen been published in 2008, it would have been on my list as well? I’m really looking forward to the sequel. Does it have a title or pub date yet?

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  18. Ginn Hale
    Dec 20, 2008 @ 00:43:26

    Right now the sequel is planned for release in the spring/ summer of 2010. The working title is Lord Foster’s Devils,(though more than likely that will change, since I’m terrible with titles. Wicked Gentlemen started out as, That Devil Story I’m Working On then went on to be called Hells Below, Mr Sykes and the Inquisitor and lastly That Manuscript Nobody Will Buy). :)

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  19. Janine
    Dec 21, 2008 @ 12:00:14

    As far as I can tell, GRIMSPACE is the only book we at Enduring Romance also liked of all your Top Tens and ours. Tells you something about individual tastes.

    Kimber, I just went to your site and looked at your top tens (what fun). From what I can tell, your lists were not confined to books published in 2008, right, just to books read in 2008? Ours had to be works published in 2008. That right there accounts for the variation and differences in large measure IMO, though of course, you’re correct that individual tastes are also a big factor.

    Ginn Hale-

    Right now the sequel is planned for release in the spring/ summer of 2010. The working title is Lord Foster's Devils,(though more than likely that will change, since I'm terrible with titles. Wicked Gentlemen started out as, That Devil Story I'm Working On then went on to be called Hells Below, Mr Sykes and the Inquisitor and lastly That Manuscript Nobody Will Buy). :)

    LOL. I am glad someone bought it. I will look forward to the spring/summer of 2008 then — can’t wait for more of Belimai and Harper. And I actually like the title Lord Foster’s Devils, for what that’s worth.

    Do you have any other writing projects in the works?

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  20. Janine
    Dec 27, 2008 @ 00:13:21

    I edited my “Best of 2008″ list to include Lydia Joyce’s Wicked Intentions. I’m currently visiting with relatives and don’t have time to write a full length review (Jennie is planning to review the book since she can get to it sooner), but I finished reading this dark, steamy book while stranded in an airport earlier this week. I loved it and highly recommend it. I think it is Lydia Joyce’s best book thus far.

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