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

Rob Thurman

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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.

ACE/ROC Holiday Giveaway

ACE/ROC Holiday Giveaway

Welcome to Ace and Roc’s fabulous forthcoming books giveaway, just in time for the holidays!

Thanks again to Dear Author for giving me this opportunity to let you know about some of our terrific upcoming titles. As always, there are too many great books for me to mention all of them, so you can look at our site ( to see everything we publish.

Read the bottom of the post for the giveaway details.


0441017975.01.LZZZZZZZ TORN by Julie Kenner

This is the second book in Julie’s "Blood Lily Chronicles", an urban fantasy trilogy we’re publishing back to back. (This means very little waiting for the next installment, which is a good thing with such a fast-paced and exciting story.) Lily Carlyle has always lived on the edge. But after she died while avenging her younger sister, she came back to life as someone else-’and was recruited as an assassin for the light. At least that’s what she thought-. Now Lily is in trouble of the deepest kind, since it turns out the bad guys she was killing actually weren’t the bad guys at all. With a little help from half angel, half demon Deacon Campshire, she must try to take down the enemy from within as a double agent.


Many of you will be familiar with Marion Zimmer Bradley’s powerful female-centric retelling of the Arthurian mythos, THE MISTS OF AVALON. After its publication, Marion wrote a number of prequels. When Marion passed away, Diana Paxson, her long time collaborator, completed PRIESTESS OF AVALON and went on to write more beautiful historical fantasy novels set in this world. SWORD OF AVALON is the origin story of the forging of Excalibur. It includes fascinating historical detail and tells of the love between a girl training to be a priestess and the young man who is destined to wield the sword.


0441018130.01.LZZZZZZZ DEADTOWN by Nancy Holzner

We wouldn’t be Ace and Roc if we didn’t have a fabulous new urban fantasy series for you, and this one is fresh and fun and worth a try for Vicky’s hapless zombie apprentice alone. DEADTOWN features shapeshifter Vicky Vaughan, professional demon-slayer and dreamwalker, who keeps Boston safe from nightmares of all shapes and sizes. While single-handedly saving Boston from destruction won’t be easy, it gets harder when Vicky’s got a foolhardy zombie apprentice to worry about, a mysterious demon-plagued client (who keeps firing her), and a shifter-niece kidnapped by a “research facility” (which is really more like Dr. Moreau’s island for paranormals).

0451463110.01.LZZZZZZZ THE SPIRIT LENS by Carol Berg

Carol writes complex, character-driven fantasy, the kind of book you can curl up and get lost in, and THE SPIRIT LENS is no exception. The first of her new Collegia Magica trilogy, it’s set in a kingdom on the verge of a renaissance, where natural science has supplanted sorcery. For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery’s decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life’s bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria’s last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the King of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

0451463072.01.LZZZZZZZ BLOOD CROSS by Faith Hunter

Vampire hunter and skinwalker Jane Yellowrock is back in the sequel to urban fantasy SKINWALKER. But this time she finds herself on the other side, working for the vampires. Jane’s been hired by the Vampire Council of New Orleans to hunt and kill one of their own, who has broken ancient rules. With the help of her witch best friend and local vigilantes, Jane finds herself caught between bitter rivalries-’and closer than ever to the secret origin of the entire vampire race. If you’re still not convinced, don’t forget: Jane’s love interest is a hot Cajun biker!


0451463099.01.LZZZZZZZ UNKNOWN by Rachel Caine

I really love Rachel’s Outcast Season series. It’s set in her Weather Warden universe, where certain humans have the ability to control the powers of weather, fire, earth, but from the point of view of one of the djinn. And not just any of the djinn, but Cassiel, one of the most powerful (and aloof). But when she defied her ruler, she was cast out and forced to take human flesh as punishment. As a being that has spent millennia viewing humans the same way we do ants, becoming mortal really puts her through culture shock. Especially when she starts falling for one of them-

0451462734.01.LZZZZZZZ EXCEPT THE QUEEN by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

It’s funny, I didn’t notice it until I was putting this together, but EXCEPT THE QUEEN has a similar theme to UNKNOWN, except it has fairies getting cast out instead of djinn. This is a wonderful contemporary fantasy novel, from authors who are highly regarded in the field. Two sisters are proud members of the high court of the Fairy Queen-’until they discover a secret Her Highness would like to keep hidden. Cast out from court and stripped of their powers, they are banished to the mortal realm. There, each bonds with a troubled mortal: one with a young girl bearing an ornate tattoo, a magic symbol that will draw evil to them; and the other with a homeless boy whose mind is plagued by dark visions and nightmarish creatures. The sisters know that these signs point to a force whose power is rising-’one that threatens both the fairy and human worlds.

Anne Sowards is an executive editor at Penguin Group (USA) Inc., where she primarily acquires and edits fantasy and science fiction for the Ace and Roc imprints. Some of the great authors she works with include Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Anne Bishop, Ilona Andrews, Karen Chance, Jack Campbell, and Rob Thurman. When she’s not reading, she listens to Chinese rap and spends way too much time playing video games. Follow her at


  • TORN / Julie Kenner – 2 ARCs
  • DEADTOWN / Nancy Holzner – 2 finished copies
  • THE SPIRIT LENS / Carol Berg – 2 ARCs
  • BLOOD CROSS / Faith Hunter – 2 ARCs
  • UNKNOWN / Rachel Caine – 2 ARCs
  • EXCEPT THE QUEEN / Jane Yolen & Midori Snyder – 3 ARCs

We are giving away one book to 15 random commenters. Please leave a comment identifying your first and second choice AND your own ACE/ROC recommendation.