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What Jia’s Been Reading in December

Despite all my hopes for more time to read, I still managed to get swallowed up by the holidays. Oh well. Still, here’s what I read during the month of December.

Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla
One day I’ll find a female assassin book that satisfies me. One day. And maybe the heroine will be something other than a redhead! (Full review.)

Agony/Ecstasy edited by Jane Litte
I will of course offer the disclaimer that this antho is edited by DA’s owner, who is my fearless leader and also my friend. I figure anyone reading this already knows that but just in case, for transparency’s sake. The anthology offers a variety of stories in different genres and categories, which I liked. It might have been nice to see more types of kink — I do feel like spanking might have been overrepresented but that might be more a personal perception than due to any hard numbers.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Maybe I need to accept the fact that soft fantasy is not for me. Is soft fantasy even a category? What I mean by this is fantasy with very weak, hand-wavy worldbuilding that depends very strongly on a reader’s assumption that all fantasy takes place in a pseudo-medieval European-esque setting. Obviously, I take issue with that on several levels but honestly, the world was so generic and vague. Combined with a romantic relationship I detested (sorry, it’s not in me to cheer for a hero who physically abuses the heroine and no, I do not think he was “justified” at all) and a plot that hinged on a mistaken assumption that really should not have been assumed in the first place, this book was a whole lot of fail. I don’t even know how I finished it. Full review to come.

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A few months ago, Michelle West released six previously published short stories related to her DAW books in digital format. I’d already read a couple of them but it was nice of her to offer me the chance to reread them as well as the other four I hadn’t. I figured it’d be an excellent way to prepare for reading Skirmish, the next installment in her House War series. (Freebie download here)

“Echoes” – This is one of the two stories I’d already read. It’s technically set during Sea of Sorrows (part of the Sun Sword series) and is a glimpse into Kallandras’s past and how he first became an assassin. I think the thing that surprises me the most about this story was the revelation that Kallandras was originally born in Annagar. A lesser clan, to be sure, but Annagar, nevertheless.

“Huntbrother” – This is my favorite story of the six. It tells the story of Lady Cynthia and what happened to her after the Hunter duology. We did catch a peek at her godborn son in The Sun Sword but I always wondered what happened to poor Cynthia after Stephen died and she made her deal with the Hunter god. It’s a graceful story and one I greatly enjoyed, of a woman who loved, lost, learned to love again, and raised the son of a god in a way that broke all tradition.

“The Black Ospreys” – This is the story of how Duarte formed the Black Ospreys. Self-explanatory. It didn’t really hit any of my buttons, which is a surprise because I loved the Ospreys in the Sun Sword books but then I realized that’s because I loved Auralis, Kiriel’s interactions with them once she joins, and how Valedan insinuates himself into their circle and the force that was created to kill Annagarians now must protect one. Since that’s not the focus of this story at all, it’s no surprise I was ambivalent.

“Weapon” – An origin story about the foundations of the Empire and what drove a woman to vanish and then come back with two half-god sons who’d go on and become the Kings of Justice and Wisdom.

“Warlord” – I recall hearing about this story several years ago and how it told Avandar’s origins. Because of that, I’m not sure if I built it up in my head but this was kind of underwhelming. And also, somewhat irritating because it tells the story of Jewel and Avandar’s meeting again. I don’t know. I apparently have a tic about this sort of authorial retreading.

“Memory of Stone” – This is the other story I’ve previously read and it focuses on the Makers Guild, which is the group that’s rarely featured in the books. It’s a story about genius and madness that reminds me about the one stable truth of this fantasy world: there is always a price and that when it comes to saving the world, sacrifices must be made even if they are at your own expense.

Right now, I’ve started to read Skirmish by Michelle West. I’m reading it a little slowly, mostly because I’m torn between excitement and dread. Excitement because this is the first novel set in the present timeline of the universe (finally). Dread because I’m not sure I can handle all the tension (ha). Has anyone else ever felt that way when reading a book?

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So what about you guys? Have you read any of these? What about other memorable reads this month?

Jia is an avid reader who loves fantasy and young adult novels. She's also currently dipping her toes in the new adult genre but remains unconvinced by the prevalent need for traumatic pasts. Her favorite authors are Michelle West and Jacqueline Carey. YA authors whose works she's enjoyed include Holly Black, Laini Taylor, Ally Carter, and Megan Miranda. Jia's on a neverending quest for novels with diverse casts and multicultural settings. Feel free to email her with recommendations at [email protected]!


  1. Mikaela
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 13:44:23

    I have started the quest to conquer my TBR pile. One of the books I have read this week is The Gods of Dream. I enjoyed it. It was a well written, fairy tale like fantasy.

    Except for that, I discovered Eve Langlais, and Shayla Black. Which made me want to buy up their backlist. Except that I have 200 books I need to read first. Ah well. I’ll get them later.

  2. Merrian
    Jan 04, 2012 @ 23:06:16

    “” “Huntbrother” – This is my favorite story of the six. It tells the story of Lady Cynthia and what happened to her after the Hunter duology””

    I still mourn Stephen and so am glad to know of this story. I have found the short stories available on Smashwords and I have spent the afternoon reading them. Thanks for telling us about them.

  3. Sabrina
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 02:00:45

    I’ve been waiting for Skirmish for ages and ages… and now I’m almost afraid to order it because I know my tensions are going to be just as high… and then I’m going to have to wait a whole year or more before War is published. So I’m reading through the earlier books in the series now, to refresh my memory, and to keep me from dissolving into a quivering pool of nerves waiting and waitng for the final novel in the series.

    It’s been a long time since I felt that excitement/tension for a series. I had a small hint of it reading The Hidden Goddess by M.K. Hobson, sequel to Native Star (which I absolutely adored). Unfortunately, the ending of the sequel was a total confusing mess, which has left me all but uninterested in the third book.

  4. cead
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 08:30:21

    I had the same reaction to the last two volumes of the Sun Sword series, so this time around I’m buying each of the House books as they come out, but not reading them until they’re all published, because otherwise I don’t think I could take the tension either. (When the time finally comes, I’m going to re-read both the Hunter duology and Sun Sword. It will be epic.) This is completely ridiculous, I know, but I think otherwise I might explode. I love Michelle West so much; I wish there were more authors out there writing fantasy of that calibre. She writes exactly what I want from fantasy, and in the last four-five years I’ve had a very hard time finding anything else half as satisfying.

  5. Jae_Lee
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 11:25:27

    Thanks for the heads-up on the short stories. I’m not generally a fan of the short story, so it almost never occurs to me to look for them. But I will buy whatever Michelle Sagara/West writes.

    For November/December, I went on a Juliet Marillier jag, catching up on the Sevenwaters series. I intend to carry this on until I’ve reread all of her books. She’s another author whose books I will buy without even looking at the synopsis.

  6. Estara
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 18:12:23

    Hah, I dove into Skirmish directly and relentlessly and am on the last hundred pages. There is so much culmination of things that have been foreshadowed that the time line is utterly compressed (C. J. Cherryh does that to with the Foreigner books and I don’t mind because everything is so fascinating as I’m totally invested in the characters by now) but the whole thing so far is a major pay-off – oh and the Memory of Stone plot gets a nod in here! At an appropriate place ^^.

    I LOVED the huge transformation of that certain place around page 250! I just wish Jody Lee had remembered that Jewel is mostly Voyani in her colouring because otherwise the cover is PERFECT!!!!

  7. orannia
    Jan 05, 2012 @ 18:24:54

    You have Skirmish? Ohhhhh!

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