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What Jia’s Been Reading, Week of August 16

The problem with finishing a long, intense read is that it’s hard for me to bounce back and dive into other books. The number of books I tossed aside this past week was alarmingly high. But these are the ones I stuck with and finished.

Heist Society by Ally Carter. I’m a big fan of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl books about the teenage spies so when I needed a change of pace from epic fantasy, I picked up her teenaged thief book. In itself, this is a great change of pace from all the YA paranormals out there. The protagonist comes from a family of thieves and is trying to go straight. But she gets dragged back into the family business when her father is targeted by a Russian mobster who thinks he stole something from him. The characters, especially the heroine, are smart and I thought the romantic subplot with Hale was great. If you’re into caper novels, put this on your list.

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The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff. A YA novel told from the POV of the changeling. I’ve never been too into faeries but I was in the mood for something creepy. I liked this novel’s vision of faeries — ugly, twisted, grotesque. The town of Gentry has a long-standing pact with the local faeries: they sacrifice a child every seven years and the town has continued prosperity. It’s only superficial prosperity, of course, because while everyone knows what’s going on, no one talks about it. Classic recipe for resentment and bitterness. I liked how the book played with the idea of genetics versus environment. Are you born the way you are or does outside influences have any effect? It got me interested enough in Yovanoff’s writing that I’m looking forward to her forthcoming novel.

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“Lady Blade” by Jenn Reese. A short story about a cursed sword imbued with the soul of a general’s wife. Meh. With short stories, I think they need a lot of oomph to make up for the short length. I thought the end peetered out. Might have worked better at novella length, because the various story elements never came together for me.

The Devil’s Garden by Jane Kindred. Reminded me quite a bit of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel books except with more magic and transgendered and genderqueer characters. Maybe more a cross between Jacqueline Carey and Storm Constantine then? A surprisingly layered story for a novella of this length. I probably would have enjoyed seeing this as a novel. I think it would have helped with the beginning, which had an overload of self-conscious worldbuilding that I almost stopped reading. But I kept on and was pleasantly surprised, although the ending might not be the uplifting resolution some readers expect. After finishing this, I’m interested in checking out Kindred’s debut novel coming out in a few months.

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So what is everyone reading? Anyone read any of these? What did you think? Got any recommendations for caper novels, creepy reads, and authors who are reminiscent of Jacqueline Carey? (I feel like the last one is a popular refrain of many Carey fans, but it’s worth a shot.)

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. Carin
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 10:27:38

    I think you and I have very different tastes, so I don’t really have recommendations. I DO share in the reading funk that comes after finishing a book that was really good. Everything else just seems less interesting.

    I read Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison and loved it. I think I’ve started and put down four other books that are probably good, but just aren’t cutting it. I’m finally back in the groove with Jennifer Esteps’ Tangled Threads.

    Good luck finding your next caper novel or creepy read!

  2. hapax
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 10:58:38

    Scott Lynch’s LOCKE LAMORA books are the best capers I’ve read for a long time. But he’s left us at a cliffhanger for a while.

    A lot of people say that Bishop’s BLACK JEWELS are reminiscent of Carey, but I don’t see that myself. I’m sure you’ve already read the fabulous N. K. Jemisin. Have you tried the HAVEMERCY series by Jaida Jones?

  3. De
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 11:27:00

    I love Heist Society. The audiobook version is a lot of fun. The sequel, Uncommon Criminals, is good as well.

    I’ve not managed to try reading the GG books, but I did try the audio for the first one. OMG what a horrible mess. Note to the company there: If you want me to believe the whole teenage spy thing, don’t have the reader do a little kid voice. *shudder*

  4. Brian
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 11:36:03

    The problem with finishing a long, intense read is that it’s hard for me to bounce back and dive into other books. The number of books I tossed aside this past week was alarmingly high.

    I find that when this happens re-reading one of my favorites gets me back on track.

    I’ve not run across anything quite like Carey yet although goodness knows I’ve looked.

  5. Christine Rimmer
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 11:57:20

    Was thinking of you, Jia. I had read Hunger Games and Catching Fire. Was blown away by the first, still in the game with the second, but getting a little edgy about the direction Collins seemed to be going. Then I thought that I bet you’d reviewed at least one of the trilogy. Don’t know why. Just a feeling. Maybe I read the review you wrote of Mockingjay back then. Anyway, looked it up and read it again. I was crushed, as I love the characters of this trilogy and I knew I would hate where she went with the last book. I read a couple of Loretta Chase books (I love her books), got my HEA quotient up a tad and then I couldn’t resist. I had to read Mockingjay, to see how it all turned out.

    I was so grateful I’d read your review, because I was able to put aside my own expectations and just approach the book for where Collins took it. I loved it. But I would not have loved it in the least if I hadn’t read your review first and had time to prepare myself. Thanks, Jia.

  6. Estara
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 11:59:51

    Jia, in case you’re reading P.C. Hodgell – Baen has released the eARC of her newest book Honor’s Paradox at Webscription. I’m doing a re-read of the series now in preparation of diving into this ^^.

  7. Julie
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 12:40:21

    I loved both The Replacement and Heist Society. I will have to check out the Jane Kindred novella. Looks like we have similar tastes.

  8. John
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 13:11:11

    Loved loved Heist Society. It’s the perfect FUN book. Carter really nails that caper feel to it, too. Uncommon Criminals was a worthy sequel, so read that when you can. :)

    I actually haven’t read The Replacement. It’s in my TBR pile for DA but…I’ve been afraid to touch it. Ditto with Plain Kate. I’ve heard conflicting things about both. If you want something dark, though, you’d probably want to try the other Merry Sister of Fate, Tessa Gratton. I’ve heard Blood Magic is quite the dark little book at times.

  9. Jia
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 16:21:17

    @Carin: That reminds me. I have a copy of Dragon Bound somewhere around here. I should give that a try since I’ve heard such good things about it.

    @hapax: I read Locke Lamora a few years ago. That had a great voice to it but yeah, Scott Lynch has been dealing with some personal problems so who knows when the next one will come out?

    @De: I hear such good things about audio books and in theory, they would work for me since I have a long commute to and from work. But it seems like hit or miss when it comes to the narrators, which can really make or break one. That GG books have a great voice but yeah, while I do think Cammie sounds young (I mean, she is 15!), but she’s not a little kid.

  10. Jia
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 16:29:35

    @Brian: When I can’t make anything stick (by switching genres or what have you), I usually retreat to reading manga for a few days.

    I’m glad to know I’m not the only one participating in a fruitless search for more Jacqueline Carey.

    @Christine Rimmer: I’m glad the review helped! The Hunger Games was the rare trilogy in which I actually reviewed every book. When it comes to series, sometimes I skip one or we switch/rotate with other reviewers. I definitely think if I’d come into Mockingjay with a different set of expectations, I would have liked it more. Well, maybe not liked but appreciated what she was trying to do more. At the time, I just felt very manipulated and preached to.

    These days, when I have friends who are starting the trilogy, I always tell them not to read Mockingjay if they’re feeling down or on a rainy day.

    @Estara: I haven’t read her yet but I think I have a couple of her books somewhere around here. One day I’ll get to them.

  11. Jia
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 16:34:45

    @Julie: The Jane Kindred novella isn’t YA but I thought it was interesting. Different from what’s out there in traditional fantasy and that’s something I always like to see.

    @John: Ally Carter writes such fun, feel good books. It’s a nice change of pace in the YA genre and really a good pick-me-up read overall.

    I hadn’t heard of Plain Kate before you mentioned it, but I’ll probably check out Blood Magic at some point. I don’t know what it is but when we start approaching the colder seasons, I do prefer reading darker things.

  12. MaryK
    Aug 26, 2011 @ 16:58:34

    @Jia: I participate in AAR’s Speaking of Audiobooks group on Goodreads. It has a lot of useful narrator information if you want to browse through sometime. The group bookshelf has audio specific reviews.

    I’m also a commuter. I don’t think I could do it without audiobooks.

  13. Lucy V. Morgan
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 08:17:25

    Short stories in any kind of other-world setting are a pain in the proverbial to write. I think by the time you get invested in a new world as a reader, you’re always disappointed to let go of it so quickly. It takes a certain amount of closure to make up for that.

    Jane Kindred’s upcoming novel is brilliant. There is a Carey flavour, you’re right there; it’s the eloquence of the voice and the violence of the subtext (or the desires). But The Fallen Queen has its own unique set-up, and the worldbuilding was fluid for me. I almost didn’t notice it.

  14. Renee
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 12:25:24

    Putting Kindred’s novel on my goodreads. I’m another one looking for more Carey-esque books. In fact I finally replaced my copy of Kushiel’s Dart for the third time (because I keep loaning it out and it never comes back) and of course started re-reading it.

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