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What Jia’s Been Reading, Late November

Apparently a vacation was exactly what I needed to kick me out of my reading funk. Here’s what I’ve been reading the past couple of weeks.

Steampunk! edited by Kelly Link and Gavin Grant
An anthology of steampunk stories that covers the spectrum. I like the variety of settings, characters, genres, and ideas but overall, there were only a couple standouts. On the other hand, there were only a couple stories I didn’t like. The rest were average. That tends to be about right in terms of how well anthologies work for me. I rarely love every single selection for an anthology. I just wish I could have discovered new authors I’d love to seek out rather than confirming what I already know. (Full review)

Open Minds by Susan Quinn A | BN | S | K
This is my first foray into the world of self-published YA fiction but it worked out well. It’s a SF novel in which due to mutations, humans have become telepathic. Unfortunately, this sucks for anyone who isn’t telepathic, such as the novel’s protagonist. It’s action-packed and there’s a lot of plot. Not a whole lot of the emo introspection you usually find in YA so if you’re looking for a change, this might be worth a try. Lots of good ideas and I definitely liked how the SF aspects were worked into this, showing how society changed with everyone becoming telepathic. Full review to come.

Hot as Hades by Alisha Rai
I felt like I’d been reading nothing but YA and fantasy for a while, so I wanted a change. I remembered January reviewing this a couple weeks ago and decided to give it a try since I was in the mood for a quick read. I’m a big fan of the Hades and Persephone myth despite all the twistedness about it. I enjoyed this and the whole uncle and adopted niece reminders didn’t really bother me. True, the tone was more modern than not but I guess in my head, they were still gods and I let it go.

Burning Skies by Caris Roane
I’ve had this one in my TBR pile for a while after joining the circle of shame several months ago and reading the first book, Ascension. I suppose I needed a crack replacement after giving up on the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Since the Alisha Rai novella put me in the mood for a full-length romance, I pulled this up on my Fire. I actually really enjoyed this a lot. As Jane mentioned in her review, this isn’t a cracky as its predecessor. I was a little surprised by that. I don’t think it’s entirely because I was inured to the badness so I’m not sure what the difference was. Did the writing improve? Or was the plot just not as over the top? The jury’s still out on that and now I have to get the next installment.

The Fallen Queen by Jane Kindred | A | BN |K | S
I made a note to read this after having enjoyed “The Devil’s Garden,” the novella Kindred wrote for Carina. As I’m coming learn, the beginning of Kindred’s works and I never get along. This time, I was presented with several pages of social hierarchy for the worldbuilding with lots of names and locations, and I was seriously wondering what I was getting into. But I made an effort to forget the glossary and just read the book, which worked out much better. (After I finished the novel, I went back and looked at the glossary and that was much easier to take since I had context.) As for the novel itself, it’s hard to describe in a few sentences. It’s sort of an angelic retelling (mirroring, really) of the Anastasia story in which the ruling angelic family is usurped and everyone is slaughtered except for one survivor who’s hidden in the world of men by a pair of demons. It’s very much an epic fantasy (and reads that way) but also takes place in modern times. It draws quite a bit on Russian lore and for the first time in quite a while, there’s a Faerie character who actually demonstrates how beautiful, frightening and disturbing the Fae can be. Overall, an enjoyable read for people wanting a little something different in their fantasy. Full review to come.

Currently, I’m reading Shaedes of Gray by Amanda Bonilla, which is either an urban fantasy or paranormal romance. I’m not completely sure which it’s supposed to be or if it’s a hybrid. It’s going all right so far. There are some parts I like and some parts that really annoy me. The big question in my mind, however, is why are there so many redheaded assassins?

So what about you guys? Read any of these? What did you think? Are the holidays, past and upcoming, treating you well in terms of reading time or has it been a struggle?

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. John
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 11:58:39

    Has anyone read this book?
    I just an amazing book “From Athletics to Business” it talks about Why do so many athletes end up in financial ruin? This book uncovers the principles that make athletes and millionaires more susceptible to economic ruin and bad behavior. Discover the 12 universal attributes that athletics teaches that should help mold athletes into prime candidates for post career success. This book may be the first of its’ kind to offer true insight into the epidemic of financial ruin that has plagued athletes for almost a century and offer the solutions to end this affliction. I got my copy from but I believe you can also buy it on its web site

  2. Na S.
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 12:10:18

    I haven’t read any of these but I have a steady TBR pile I can’t wait to dig into to. As for the holidays, it hasn’t sunk in yet but I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

  3. Estara
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 16:34:46

    I look forward to your The Fallen Queen review – that short summary sounds intriguing.

  4. John
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 16:54:34

    You and Jane keep bringing me back into wanting to read the BDB and the Caris Roane books. I did enjoy the first BDB book, and I will probably enjoy the rest + Roane’s work as well. They seem like the best kind of WTF crack. It’s enjoyable, in a weird way, to see something that is clearly so ridiculous and author-indulgent that manages to capture you as a reader.

  5. Jia
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 18:12:13

    @Na S.: Ha! I still need to go Christmas shopping. It might be a giftcard kind of year.

    @John: I do think the BDB books go off the rails around the 5 or 6 book. I made it to book 8 but skimming book 9 told me I was mentally done with the series. Roane’s work isn’t quite as intense as BDB but I think Roane’s female characters are better handled and not quite the afterthoughts they are in the BDB.

    In terms of premise though, Roane’s takes the cake because I never seen so many concepts crammed together in one book.

  6. erinf1
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 22:26:58

    I feel the same way about the BDB. I think I fell out sooner than you did. The major macho/badass thing eventually annoyed me to the point I lost interest in the books. Plus, they were all way too tortured/broken and that got old. The older I get, the more independent I am and so it really bothers me the whole “I’m stronger, pretty, more badass than you so I can make better decisions for you *whether you agree or not* so just shut up, sit down and take it!” trope. end of rant :)

    I’ve downloaded the Roane books a while ago for my kindle, now fire (happy dance for getting it as an early Christmas present) but I was afraid of the aforementioned trope and haven’t read them yet. But now I’m interested again and will give them another try.

    I’m also really interested in the Fallen Queen book, but that is one fuuuuuugly cover. I know about the whole don’t judge a book by it’s cover, but just sayin….

  7. Brian
    Dec 07, 2011 @ 22:55:19

    I read BDB through book 6, but it started going south for me around book 4 or so.

    The Fallen Queen sounds possibly interesting.

  8. Jia
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 03:36:45

    @erinf1: The cover is terrible, isn’t it?

    With the Roane books, I do feel like the first two were more about the heroine’s story. That is to say, the plot hinged on the heroine rather than the hero. Don’t get me wrong. The hero had a storyline too but his was more emotionally driven?

  9. Estara
    Dec 08, 2011 @ 14:11:55

    @John: Oh it’s the real John and not a spammer ^^ – yay and hope you have good Christmas time.

  10. BlueRose
    Dec 09, 2011 @ 00:26:42

    As a Kiwi Im interested in the backstory behind Gethsemene – I had a quick look but couldnt find anything obvious online. So can’t fill in the gaps, sorry.

    But I can recommend her Dreamhunter/Dreamquake books that were possbily written in the same world, YA steampunkish fantasy that was completely different from anything else, and was about friendship, family and finding the truth about yourself and was really really excellent

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