Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Open Thread for Readers for February 2012

Got a book you want to talk about? Frustrated with a book or series? In love with a new one? Found a buried treasure? An issue that keeps popping up in the books you are reading? Just want to chat about stuff in general? Post away.

Don’t forget you can check out the new releases at our Coming Soon page.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.


  1. carmen webster buxton
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 13:25:57

    I want to know when publishers are going to take responsibility for proofing and fixing their ebooks. Most of the egregious errors (paragraphs repeating, accent marks as garbage) don’t happen anymore but I still see a lot of run-together words and excess hyphens.

  2. Estara
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 14:20:08

    The UK edition of Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity is coming out on February 6th! This is not romance, but female friendship in the face of World War 2 of two young women from completely different walks of life. Both get involved with the war effort, one even becomes an ATA pilot (the author is a pilot herself) – and then the drama really starts when one of the girls falls into the hands of the Gestapo in occupied France.

    If you enjoy dramatic stories with both internal drama and outside action and a celebration of female friendship, you might want to give it a try (It’ll come out via Hyperion in May in the US, and I know there’ll be a Canadian publisher, too). It seems to be promoted as YA, but the girls in question are in their 20s.

    Egmont UK did a nice atmospheric booktrailer for Code Name Verity featuring quotes from the book and music and paraphernalia of the times.

    FULL DISCLOSURE: I checked an early version of the book for correct German behaviour, being one myself (not to mention a teacher of history).

    Oh, and it seems as if Book Depository is shipping the UK edition early ^^.

  3. Carolyn
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 14:23:56

    I’ve started a book called Mesmerized by a new-to-me author, Candace Camp. It would never pass a First Page critique, lol.

    Lots of exposition and backstory these first two chapters, but I’m hoping things will pick up. The heroine is supposed to have second sight and is a member of a family society calls the Mad Morelands. The plot sounded like somenthing I’d like, so fingers crossed.

  4. JB Hunt
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 16:41:05

    I have a few lit fics in the TBR pile — THE LAST NUDE and THE ART OF FIELDING.

    In romance, just finished (and loved) Cecilia Grant’s debut, A LADY AWAKENED.

    Eager to read Manda Collins’ debut, HOW TO DANCE WITH A DUKE.

    Also ready to jump into RAISED BY WOLVES (Barnes), STORM’S HEART (Harrison), COLLISION COURSE (Archer).

  5. Jess
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 17:10:22

    Hi there–I’m a long-time lurker who has never posted before. I read a really beautiful essay today at The Rumpus: and I was wondering if any of you know of any historical romances where the heroine has really strong female friendships–the kind that exist not just so that a sequel can be written about the friend. There’s examples of close familial friendships (I’m thinking of the sisters in Loretta Chase’s Silk is for Seduction, though they’ll each get their own book), and Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflowers are probably as close an example I can think of. I feel like there’s more of these kinds of friendships in contemporary romances, but Rapp’s essay is so exquisite and made me wish these kinds of friendships were more present in historicals.

  6. joanne
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 17:34:19

    @carmen webster buxton: OMG, the hyphens. I was half-way through a book last week that I thought might have a secret code in it because of all the dashes. WHY?!

    Recommended read, *not as a romance*, is The Angel Makers by Jessica Gregson. It’s a historical fiction based loosely on a true story where the women of a village realize that they were better off when the men of the village were away at war. So when they returned the women started to kill off the men. I don’t know, maybe you have to be in the right mood – like after cooking a bazillion holiday meals, but it’s nicely written and I enjoyed it! .

  7. rebyj
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:06:52

    I went in search of some erotica series since I liked Cherise Sinclair series and Loreilei James.

    In that search I found and read Divine Grace [The Divine Creek Ranch Collection] by Heather Rainier this week. It’s from 12/2010 so it’s not a new book but is the first in a series.
    Erotica/ menage .

    I have to talk about this book though because it was off the charts in so many ways. Easy to fall into the story, well written in that way. There are some poignant moments and some HOT moments. But omg at the LOL moments. It’s one that I sat and read parts out loud to the man.

    The heroine is overweight, which I’m glad to see more of in any book but the author talks about her “damp folds” way too many times and the wording is such in one place that I read it aloud to the man, after he caught his breath he said he has never seen a folding/unfolding hooha which made me laugh so hard I coughed for an hour. I thought he’d need cpr when I read him the horse porn parts. They are horse breeders and watch videos to teach our heroine how to assist in the breeding program. My poor old honey laughed so hard then demanded to know what the HELL was I reading!!

    I enjoyed the story, I REALLY enjoyed the lol moments that may not have been meant to be funny but yeah, they were F U N N Y.

    It has some quirks and story issues if one wanted to nit pick, love comes fast in this book and the dialogue read aloud will floor you but over all I can say I spent $7.69 on it and it was worth it so I have no problem recommending it to others.

  8. Cheryl McInnis
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 18:50:19

    @ Jess….if you enjoyed the Wallflower series, then Jacquie D’Alessandro’s Mayhem in Mayfair series would probably work for you as well. I think the first novel (of four) is Sleepless at Midnight. All four are about a group of friends who form a book club to read novels that aren’t quite the norm for ladies of their station. They were pretty enjoyable, mostly because of the close friendship between the four.

  9. erinf1
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 19:43:34

    @Jess – crap I wish I could think of some for you! But my mind just went blank. I have a vague description in my head… but they’re all sisters and each sister does get a book… the first book, the eldest sister’s horrible husband falls down dead, they put him literally on ice until they can finish the season, high jinks ensue with the sisters concealing the death, then his twin brother comes back from somewhere and it comes out that the dead husband was actually impersonating the brother, so the brother just slides right on in and they end up falling in love anyway. Something Countess… lol… but that doesn’t narrow it down much. Sorry!

    I’m actually really excited cuz I’ve gotten my reading mojo back. Been breezing through books in my TBR pile and I’m hoping that it continues. 2011 was the curse of the “mehs” for me and I hardly read any of the new releases that I was so eager to get.

    Hope everyone has a good week!

  10. cleo
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 20:51:10

    I have a question for anyone who’s read the Dirk and Steele series by Marjorie Liu. Do they have to be read in order? Are the books self contained or are there story arcs that go over several books? I read Tiger Eye over the holidays and I LOVED it. I read the second book and I liked a lot – but I’m not sure I’m ready to commit to another complicated and emotional paranormal series after finally catching up on Nalini Singh’s psy/changeling series. I’m trying to figure out how much a commitment this one is. Thoughts?

  11. cleo
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 21:09:59

    @Jess: Thanks for the link!

    Eloisa James writes female friendships well, although they usually each get a book. She has three series featuring friends or sisters; the Duchess Quartet, the Essex Sisters, and Desperate Duchesses. The first two are regency and the last one is Georgian. I especially like the friendships in Your Wicked Ways (although it’s one of those polarizing books that people either love or hate).

    Amanda Quick also often has good female friendships – and they usually aren’t sequel bait. I can’t think of titles off the top of my head, of course. But her heroines often have a best friend or close female relative.

  12. courtship
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 21:31:59

    I’m reading an older historical romance called The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. It was highly recommended by a friend and I like it so far. The interesting/different thing about it is that the hero has Aspergers/autism (back in the times when they didn’t know what it was.) It is causing a very fascinating courtship for sure.

  13. CK
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 22:27:04

    I recommend Kristen Callihan’s Firelight. It’s a historical paranormal and I totally enjoyed.

  14. Merrian
    Jan 22, 2012 @ 22:57:26

    I’ve read books talked about in the comments threads here on DA. ‘Angelfall ‘by Susan Ee is an atmospheric post-apocalypse novel about a world destroyed by God’s Angels and Penryn a 17 year old just trying to keep her family together and alive. I highly recommend this book. I also discovered Martha Wells’ backlist but particularly ‘Wheel of the Infinite’ which has a woman of colour who is 45 years old and who lead a failed coup as heroine. Maskelle has a lovely relationship develop on the side with a lone swordsman.
    Both these books have romantic elements but are fantasy primarily. WofI’s story and relationship is contained in the one book. Angelfall is the start of a series.

    I have also read and enjoyed Aleksander Voinov’s Dark Soul novellas 1/2/3. These are m/m books whose protagonists are in the Italian mafia and are quite violent. They are not traditional love stories e.g. Stefano is married and loves his wife. They are about intense attraction and about loving more than one person. Silvio the hero is honourable in his own twisty, slightly disturbed, extremely violent and loyal way. Sunita reviewed the first book here on DA. Books 4 & 5 are due out in the next couple of months.

    Andrea Speed’s ‘Josh of the Damned’ m/m short stories are fun reads about a young guy who works night shift at a supermarket near a hellmouth. He is being courted by a Yeti who brings him fungus and dead creatures and his boyfriend Colin is a vampire.

  15. Janine
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 01:07:41

    @Jess: The main ones that come to mind are Penelope Williamson’s The Passions of Emma (though it’s more than a touch bittersweet) and (if you want to read one where something comes between two cousins’ friendship and then it’s mended) Mary Balogh’s Dark Angel.

    It’s interesting, for some reason female friendships seem more common in contemporary romances than in historicals. I wonder why that is? Nora Roberts writes wonderful female friendships.

  16. Lindsey
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 01:48:53

    I’m currently reading Raised by Wolves, and loving it. I didn’t know there was a sequel until someone manning the DA twitter mentioned it, and unfortunately, in my eagerness to add it to my wishlisht, I found it, but the first sentence of description for the sequel contains a major spoiler for the first book. So now I’m a bit bummed that I know how it ends, but still looking forward to finishing Raised by Wolves.

  17. Junne
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 05:04:14

    There’s also Julia Quinn’s Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever and What Happens in London, the two heroines are best friends. In 1st book, Miranda even marries her best friend’s brother. I liked both books but they are very sweet romances, so if you’re looking for something darker, probably not your cup of tea.

  18. Ruthie
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 08:41:23

    I’ve been reading a bunch of Theresa Weir’s re-released romances from the 90s. AMAZON LILY (which won a Rita), LONG NIGHT MOON, and AMERICAN DREAMER are my favorites so far. Her writing is wonderful, with some really unexpected turns of phrase and great humor. The romances themselves are wonky, the plots imperfect and sometimes frustrating, but they’re always worth the read. She makes one free every week or so, too, so it’s worth keeping an eye on the prices if you’re looking for a bargain (or following her anne_frasier account on Twitter).

  19. RachelT
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 11:04:30

    @JB Hunt: I read the ARt of Fielding while on holiday in the US last October. I had just been to my first baseball match (the friends we were staying with are Phillies fans, and needed no encouragement to take us to a ballgame to extend our education) so I was able to follow the story. I really enjoyed it, but didn’t think it is the A+++ book that some commentators would have us believe. I would give it a B/B+. Incidentally it does include a couple of love stories, although it isn’t a romance.

    After lots of recommendations, I am reading LA Witt’s Cover Me series (M/M) and really enjoying their grittiness (an advantage lots of M/M suspense/cop books have over M/F). I wondered about trying one of her Lauren Gallagher books, but see that they are quite different.

  20. Las
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 11:11:20

    I read How the Marquess was Won. I was on the fence about reading it, but a friend loaned me her copy. I thought it was…okay, I guess. If it had been by any other author I would have liked it a lot more. It’s just that what I really love about JAL’s writing is how good she is at showing how a couple grows to like and then love each other, and we’re obviously not going to see that when the h/h fall in love at first sight. I also really love how JAL writes families, and since neither the hero nor the heroine are part of either of the two main families in the series, and don’t have any family that we get to see, well, I missed out on that, too. I’m just annoyed that this book is part of the series…it doesn’t make a bit of sense. To top it all off, there was no real conflict in the story. The hero wants some property…that’s it. There was no pressing reason why he couldn’t just run off with the heroine any time he wanted. (Yeah, I’ve already forgotten their names.)

    I also finished The Hunger Games trilogy. I don’t know if it’s the writing, the genre, the first person POV, or my own expectations, but I wasn’t thrilled. I had an idea of the direction the story and characters would take after the first book, and things didn’t go that way at all. I felt that Katniss never grew as a character, and that she was constantly punished for being strong (in an attempt to make her more likable, maybe? Because gods forbid a woman is unapologetically powerful without being put in her place). And if anyone needs an example of what exactly people mean when they complain of authors telling instead of showing, just read Mockingjay.

    That said, I love the idea behind the series, even though the execution left a lot to be desired. Any suggestions for a non-YA version of The Hunger Games?

  21. Laura
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 12:10:19

    I read Raised by Wolves and enjoyed it, but I didn’t like the sequel as much. One of my peeves was the way the narrator handled cursing. When someone cursed she didn’t repeat the curse, she edited it, and that bugged me. I can’t remember what language she used, but it took me out of the story because I couldn’t figure out why the author didn’t just leave cursing out in the first place if she didn’t want her characters to curse. It made the narrator (and writer, I guess) seem young and immature. (The author is young. I think she’s in college or graduate school now, but published her first book when she was 18 or 19.)

  22. JenM
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 13:19:31

    For female friendships, I’d recommend Tessa Dare’s newest series. There’s only one book out so far (plus a novella) called A Night to Surrender, but it focuses on a small village that’s nicknamed “Spinster Cove” (the actual name of the village is Spindle Cove). The female friendships are very strong and the book itself was one of my favorite Regencies last year.

    Another series that comes to mind was written by Cara Elliot. It’s called the Circle of Sin series – I’ve read the first two and they featured a group of bluestockings who get together regularly. Finally, I believe Christie Kelley wrote a couple of Regencies that are linked through a group of friends.

  23. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 14:12:21

    I’ve been saying it all over the place,but I can’t reccomend Michelle Moran’s Madame Tussaud highly enough. It’s real history fictionalised, dramatised and everything -ised. I just loved, loved, loved it.

    I am just finishing another new to me author Eleanor Brown’s The Weird Sisters. It’s not a romance, but it is very strong on female friendship/sisters, something that I think is much underwritten. Really enjoying it and not wanting it to end.

    I am also continuing with my discovery of Suanna Kearsley’s books, with The Rose Garden next on my list. I came to her because of a review here of The Winter Sea and this is my third in two months.

  24. Marguerite Kaye
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 14:16:37

    And I should have said that I’m STILL waiting on my copy of Cecelia Grant’s debut, which Amazon have now postponed three times. The trials and tribs of not having an ereader. I think I must be the only writer on this planet without.

  25. Tory
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 16:59:54

    @erinf1…..the saries you were talking about is by lynsay sands (i think). The books are The Countess, The heiress, and The brat.

  26. Janine
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 18:46:00

    @Las: Wow, you and I had the same problems with How the Marquess Was Won which you can find detailed in my review.

    As for The Hunger Games for adults, I’ve heard that Battle Royale, which preceded The Hunger Games, has the same premise. I have never read it (or watched the film version) though.

  27. Jess
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 20:07:18

    @Cheryl: thanks so much for the Jacquie D’Alessandro recommendation. I checked it out–and I LOVE that it has literature-loving ladies. I can’t wait to read it!
    @cleo: I was actually thinking of Eloisa James after I posted that–I haven’t read the ones you mentioned, but read When the Duke Returns with a bottle of wine on a warm Texas winter Sunday a while back and thought about the friendship between Isidore & Jemma (is that right?)
    @Junne:thanks so much for the recommendation–It’s ridiculous I haven’t read Julia Quinn.
    @Janine:thanks for the Balogh recommendation–looks like I’m going to wean myself off my kindle and order a paper copy.
    @courtship: I really recommend The Many Sins of Lord Cameron from that same series–there was a DB/SA podcast that talked about it (the hero was married to an abusive woman).

  28. Janine
    Jan 23, 2012 @ 20:36:52

    @Jess: The Balogh is available electronically in a 2-in-1 package that also includes Lord Carew’s Bride. Lord Carew’s Bride continues the story of the first heroine’s cousin/friend and is also quite good so you may want to read both of them anyhow.

  29. Merrian
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 00:03:55

    @cleo: There are recurring characters and a story arc about the coming war but they are not so interwoven like Singh’s series. You might not appreciate some characters e.g. one shifter who was a bad guy and is now on the side of the D&S crew without reading them in order though. I would say read them as you find them. Shadow Touch is probably my personal favourite in the series.

  30. cleo
    Jan 24, 2012 @ 09:19:42

    @Merrian: Thanks – that’s really helpful. Looking through the blurbs, I can see that some look more interesting to me than others, so I’ll probably go mostly in order, but skip the ones that don’t appeal. I actually started the psy/changeling series that way, and then I got interested in the larger story arc and read them all in order.

  31. Laura P
    Jan 31, 2012 @ 14:59:05

    I just discovered Emily March’s Eternity Springs series. I’ve finished the first book, “Angel’s Rest”, and really enjoyed it. I loved the main characters and the secondary characters were delightful. I suspect each of the secondary characters will have their own stories told in the sequels.

  32. Dabney
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 11:01:26

    I am looking for a well written YA book written in the past year for an ad hoc bookclub I’m running. We just read Divergent which was a great bookclub book because it generated lots of conversation and no one hated it.

    Any suggestions? This group is all women, ages 40-55, most have teen age or older kids.

  33. Estara
    Feb 23, 2012 @ 17:41:44

    @Dabney: How about trying The Booksmugglers blog – they mostly read sf&f YA books – also horror and dystopia ^^ – they also explain what they like about a book and not in detail – so it’s a good way to make up your mind. This post is about their best of 2011books – they reviewed them all in detail, too.

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