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Best of 2008 List: Reviewer Jennie F

This week we’ll post the “best of 2008″ list for each reviewer. Feel free to use this as a commenting launch pad but also as a way for you to measure your taste against the reviewer’s taste.

Jennie F is one of our “new-ish” reviewers. She reviews sporadically and has ecletic taste.   Her list includes a variety of fiction books, not all of which are romance:   

  • VICTORY OF EAGLES by Naomi Novik, Grade A
  • THE EDGE OF IMPROPRIETY by Pam Rosenthal,  Grade: A
  • DELICIOUS by Sherry Thomas, Grade A
  • FROM DEAD TO WORSE by Charlaine Harris, Grade A
  • PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS by Sherry Thomas, Grade A-
  • YOUR SCANDALOUS WAYS by Loretta Chase, Grade A-
  • WHERE SERPENTS SLEEP by C.S. Harris, Grade: B+
  • DUKE OF SHADOWS by Meredith Duran, Grade B+
  • LOVE THE ONE YOU’RE WITH by Emily Giffin,  Grade: B+
  • CRY WOLF by Patricia Briggs, Grade B+
  • POWER PLAY by Deirdre Martin, Grade B+

has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

12 Comments

  1. April
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 15:16:32

    I gotta say…I’m lovin’ Sherry Thomas too. I just finished Delicious and am blown away by the subtley of her writing style. The reader can feel the romantic/obsessive tension between the characters without the characters ever touching or laying eyes on one another. Crazy!

  2. Lam
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 15:21:15

    I have to agree with the choice of THE DUKE OF SHADOWS. I loved that book and for a first time author I thought it was fabulous.

  3. Jorrie Spencer
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 15:29:06

    I loved Duke of Shadows too! I’ve read the first three Temeraire books, but need to read the fourth and Victory of Eagles. I guess I’m worried that I will have forgotten books one to three by now. And I plan to read Cry Wolf during the holidays.

    Anyway, interesting list. I love reading best-of lists.

  4. Heather Massey
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 21:44:30

    Looking forward to your future reviews, Jennie F! I just finished PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS and loved it.

  5. Janine
    Dec 15, 2008 @ 23:28:04

    I have to say, Jennie and I could almost be twins separated at birth when it comes to our tastes in books. My Best of 2008 list has eight books on it, and six of them are on Jennie’s list. There are five books on Jennie’s list that aren’t on mine, but I haven’t read four of these, and the fifth, Love the One You’re With by Emily Giffin, got a B+ from me as well and almost made it to my list.

  6. Jennie
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 00:10:57

    I've read the first three Temeraire books, but need to read the fourth and Victory of Eagles. I guess I'm worried that I will have forgotten books one to three by now.

    I think I forgot a lot of the details from earlier Temeraire books. I just don’t have the memory for that stuff that I used to. I regret it, but I try not to let it bother me *too* much. It doesn’t keep me from enjoying series, mostly.

    The Novik books are nothing compared to the Sookie Stackhouse books in that regard; Harris’ plots have so many characters and events, I’d need to create some sort of complicated matrix/spreadsheet/flow chart to even begin to get a handle on the plot at this point.

    I was watching Heroes (last Monday’s episode) yesterday, and there was a reference to Nate and Peter being on opposite sides of the Big Battle Between Good and Evil, and I was like, “What?” because I remembered the previous week’s episode, and Nate and Peter were working together in that one. But my confusion in that case may have less to do with my faulty memory and more to do with the fact that Heroes has completely ceased to make sense, and in any given episode about half a dozen characters undergo complete personality transplants.

    I have to say, Jennie and I could almost be twins separated at birth when it comes to our tastes in books. My Best of 2008 list has seven books on it, and six of them are on Jennie's list. There are five books on Jennie's list that aren't on mine, but I haven't read four of these, and the fifth, Love the One You're With by Emily Giffin, got a B+ from me as well and almost made it to my list.

    Aw, sweetie, that’s why I’ve long thought of you as my canary in the mine. When I’m not sure if I want to read a book, I think, “maybe Janine will read it and tell me if I’ll like it!” I’m sure this is quite selfish of me, but in my defense, I am one of those people who has to finish a book once I’ve started it, and I know you can toss them aside, so I feel like you’ll suffer less when you come across a bad one.

  7. Janine
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 01:06:43

    I amended my post above to say eight books because I remembered another one that should be on my list and promptly emailed Jane to ask if it wasn’t too late to add one. Which it probably isn’t. One of the nice things about blogging is the up-to-the-minute editing.

    When I'm not sure if I want to read a book, I think, “maybe Janine will read it and tell me if I'll like it!” I'm sure this is quite selfish of me, but in my defense, I am one of those people who has to finish a book once I've started it, and I know you can toss them aside, so I feel like you'll suffer less when you come across a bad one.

    LOL! I’m just as selfish, because I’ve had the same thoughts about you! Actually probably more selfish, given that I know about your compulsion to finish any book you start.

    I should clarify that there are some books we differ on, like the Sookie Stackhouse series. Dead Until Dark was a B for me, even though I intensely disliked Bill, but when I tried Living Dead in Dallas, I had an epiphany that I no longer liked Sookie all that much either. I dropped it a couple of chapters in and have no intention of picking it up again. Though the notion of Eric with amnesia is terribly tempting, I just don’t think I can wait for three or four books to get there.

    It may not be the best example though because I rarely stick with series that follow the same characters. Take the Temeraire books — His Majesty’s Dragon was an A for me, and Throne of Jade an A-. So by all rights I should be hankering for book three, yet there it sits on my TBR shelf, feeling like quite the wallflower. Books about characters I haven’t encountered before entice me so much more.

    Also, you like biographies and autobiographies better than I do… and I think I like science fiction better than you do. Still, so often I find myself nodding along with something you say. Like in your review of Where Serpents Sleep, where you talked about not reading mysteries for the mystery plot. That was a “Me too!” moment for me.

  8. Janine
    Dec 16, 2008 @ 12:59:37

    A TOUCH OF IMPROPRIETY by Pam Rosenthal, Grade: A

    This title is actually The Edge of Impropriety.

  9. Jennie
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 00:27:26

    This title is actually The Edge of Impropriety.

    D’oh! I always get that title wrong!

  10. Janine
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 15:15:16

    I just revised my list (which will run tomorrow) to include my B+’s as well as anthology short stories and novellas. It had previously included only whole works that I’d graded B+/A- and up, so it’s now much longer, and has less overlap with your list, Jennie.

  11. Jia
    Dec 17, 2008 @ 19:32:30

    The original list I sent Jane included only those books I’d graded with an A/A- but I revised it when I realized how embarrassingly short it was, thereby not making it very useful to people trying to calibrate their tastes with mine or those looking for new books to read.

  12. Jennie
    Dec 18, 2008 @ 01:30:24

    I think readers have different ideas about what letter grades might mean. For me, a B+ is a pretty decent grade; I don’t really give out that many A range grades.

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