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Laini Taylor

What Janine is Reading in February and March 2012

What Janine is Reading in February and March 2012

I was really, really lucky in my choices of reading material in February and early March. Five of the nine books I read between the beginning of February and the first day of spring have been books I would grade at B+ or above, which means that they’re recommended (by me) reads. It made me wonder if I’m failing my readership by not being selective enough, but the thing is, I honestly feel those five books have been that good.

The Temporary Wife by Mary Balogh

This is one of Balogh’s most beloved traditional regencies, up there with The Notorious Rake as far as being many Balogh readers’ favorite Balogh. It was recently reissued in a 2-in-1 edition with A Promise of Spring and I took the time to reread and review it. I found that it was even more enjoyable the second time around. What I love about it is the transformation of the hero (and his relatives) from joylessness to joy. Grade: B+/A-

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A Promise of Spring by Mary Balogh

This one, on the other hand, was a disappointment. It started out wonderfully, as a sweet and tender older woman/younger man romance. The heroine had lost a child who happened to be illegitimate in her youth, and the hero’s total acceptance of her was so romantic. If only the book hadn’t gone downhill from there, with kitchen sink plotting, rushed resolutions, and contrivances that made both characters (but especially the hero) seem stupid or inconsistent. Review here. Grade: C-

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Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

I’m so glad this urban fantasy/police procedural was recommended to me. Its hero, Peter Grant, is a new London Metropolitan Police constable who discovers that he has some paranormal abilities. Under the tutelage of an older (who knows how much older?) police inspector/wizard, Peter learns to cast spells and pursues a dangerous supernatural villain who threatens those close to him. Witty, snarky, and immensely entertaining. Review here. Grade: B+

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Fair Game by Patricia Briggs

What a blast I had reading this book. It wasn’t perfect by any means but I was grateful to discover that even three books and one novella into the Alpha and Omega series, my love for Charles and Anna has not faded. I especially loved seeing how strong Anna has grown. Her cleverness shines in this book. I didn’t love the way Charles’ conflict was resolved, but there is something so tender about their relationship, especially considering they are up against violence their own monstrous nature, and I find that so touching. Here’s Josephine’s review. My grade: B+/A-

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Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

My husband and I recently finished reading this YA fantasy which Jia reviewed a while back (the book was also in DABWAHA). A mystery wrapped in a roller coaster ride, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is poetic and romantic. The more time goes on, the more the book stays with me. I think it’s the kind of novel that can be reread as soon as one finishes it because once the secret at its center is uncovered, it casts the whole book in a new light. I love books that do that. Oh, what the heck. I think I’ll grade this one A-.

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Confessions from an Arranged Marriage by Miranda Neville

This book took a while to really grab me, but once it took off, it became a very emotional story. We recently had a guest post on heroines and shame, but in this book, it’s the hero who carries a shameful secret, one that causes him to pretend an indifference that he does not feel. The journey Blake and his new bride, Minerva, undergo, is bumpy to say the least, but it leads them both to grow into people who can understand and accept one another, and that’s a big part of what love is about. Review here. Grade: B+

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Thunder and Roses by Mary Jo Putney

I saw that Putney’s classic Fallen Angels series has been reissued electronically and since once upon a time it was a favorite series of mine, I decided to revisit it. I’m currently rereading this, book one in the series, and so far, it’s not holding up to my memories of it. It’s never been one of my most favorite Putneys but now I find I have mixed feelings about both the hero and the heroine, as well as their central values conflict over whether sex outside marriage is wrong (her view) or natural and desirable (his) . I still love the strip billiards scene but it isn’t enough to make up for the other problems. Review here. Grade: D

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A Monster Calls: Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd by Patrick Ness

This was another one I read with my husband. It’s a fantasy about a thirteen year old boy whose mother has cancer. One night a monster comes to visit Conor, and as these visitations continue, the monster tells him stories and insists Conor will have to repay in kind, by telling the true story that terrifies him. The book was inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, who died of cancer herself before she could write it. This made me feel Scrooge-like for being underwhelmed. My review can be found here. Grade: C+

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Tangle of Need by Nalini Singh

Book #11 in the Psy/Changeling series won’t be out until May 29 but I read the ARC in March in preparation for a joint review Jennie and I have in the works. There are developments on several fronts here, but the central romance is that of Adria (Indigo’s young aunt) and Riaz, both wounded souls. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that Riaz’s wolf has already recognized its mate, and it isn’t Adria. While this wasn’t one of my top favorites in the series, I did very much appreciate that it dared to explore some tough questions about the nature of the mating bond. Joint review with Jennie to come.

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What about you? What have you been reading lately? Have you read any of the books I mention above and if so, what did you think of them? And are you on a hot streak or in a reading slump?

What Jia’s Been Reading in February

What Jia’s Been Reading in February

It looks like my reading’s slowed down a bit compared to last year but I’m determined to keep putting these together on a monthly basis. Last month I discovered I hadn’t read any books not for reviewing purposes, which is rather sad, so I aimed to fix that this month.

Blackout by Rob ThurmanBlackout by Rob Thurman
This is the sixth book in the Cal Leandros series. I realized I’d fallen behind and that the next one was coming out soon! It was pretty good and delivered what you’d expect from the series. In this installment, Cal has amnesia and as readers, we get an interesting double vision: what Cal knows (the books are told in first person POV) and what we know from previous books. After Roadkill (book 5), this was a needed breather book and I think it might have been the rare series novel in which new readers could pick up with no problem. (Thanks to the vehicle of Cal’s amnesia.)

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Legend by Marie LuLegend by Marie Lu
Another book from the crowded YA dystopian genre. This takes place in California, which has since become a totalitarian state. It’s about a girl prodigy who’s the darling of the regime and a boy who’s the regime’s #1 outlaw. A decent read if you don’t think too hard about the worldbuilding. There’s not much explanation and while I’m not a fan of overexplaining, a little information would have been helpful regarding the different factions of the U.S.

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Cross My Heart by Sasha GouldCross My Heart by Sasha Gould
This one’s about a girl getting inducted into a Venetian secret society of women. Given the premise, I expected there to be more intrigue than there actually was. A disappointing read overall. Full review to come.

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Starters by Lissa PriceStarters by Lissa Price
I think this one is being called a dystopian but its premise is more strongly rooted in science fiction than what you normally see. The basic idea is that a genocidal war engulfed the world and the result was that in the U.S., everyone between the ages of 20 and 60 is dead. Technology has allowed lifespans to be increased but this has also caused a massive rift in society between Starters (people under the age of 20) and Enders (people over the age of 60). Essentially, Enders have all the power and Starters, especially Starters with no living relatives of Ender-age, are treated like slave labor. (Yes, this is YA. Why did you ask?) Anyway, the protagonist (an unclaimed minor named Callie) chooses to rent out her body to Enders. This means that an Ender is given control of her body and can experience being young again. Except Callie’s renter wants to use her body to commit crimes, not go partying. This is one of those books where I wish it had been written for adults rather than teens. I think more could have been done with the premise had it not been constrained by the genre. Full review to come.

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Lips Touch Three Times by Laini TaylorLips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor
After reading Daughter of Smoke and Bone last year, I wanted to read more of Taylor’s work. This one is a collection of three novellas – all about girls and their run-ins with the supernatural. None of them are quite up to the level of Daughter of Smoke and Bone but you can definitely see that book’s beginnings in this one.

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What about you guys? Have you read any of these? What did you think? Or if you haven’t read any of these, have you fallen behind on a series? Do you find it strange to pick through an author’s backlist to read their early work? Let’s chat.