February Reads

I may just title these posts Monthly Reads and leave the exact month to your imagination 😉

Here’s what I read back in February (I’ve almost finished logging my March books, though don’t hold your breath…).

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Mixed Magics (Chrestomanci, #7)Mixed Magics by Diana Wynne Jones (children’s fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I fell in love with Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books last year, and this collection of four short stories was the one remaining Chrestomanci book that I hadn’t read yet.

It’s a slim book, but with trademark DWJ story-telling and sly humour throughout – “Stealer of Souls” with Cat and Tonino was my favourite short because of all the previous characters who make an appearance, and yeah, it was just plain fun to see Cat and Tonino again.

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The Salisbury KeyThe Salisbury Key by Harper Fox (contemporary m/m romance)

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very good story that pushed the right buttons for me – I was completely engrossed from beginning to end.

I generally love Harper Fox’s stories, and this was another winner. It’s a lot of story to pack into one book, but she manages it rather well. You have the emotional arc – the book starts off with Daniel dealing with the suicide of his partner, working (very painfully) through the aftermath, fumbling through the start of a new relationship – combined with a rather complicated mystery plot (when Daniel’s lover’s legacy brings a decades-old cover-up to light), which in turn then kicks the action elements into full gear.

In style, this book was rather similar to Harper Fox’s Driftwood – lots of angst and emotion to start off with, before segueing into some rather OTT action scenes, and then a slightly prolonged ending, with the loose ends tied up just a tad bit too neatly and conveniently (though satisfyingly!).

I very much connected with Daniel – this book is in his first-person POV, and there is no getting away from the raw emotions evoked by his partner’s suicide. And Rayne, the uptight soldier who becomes an unexpected rock in Daniel’s grief, was incredibly appealing and engaging. The chemistry was there and very believable. And as with her other books, the Britishness of the setting comes to life.

One of my favourite reads for this year.

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The Warrior's Path (Sisters of the Sword)The Warrior’s Path by Maya Snow (children’s)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this up due to Thea’s review at The Book Smugglers. I probably didn’t love this book as much as Thea did, but it was an enjoyable read and I would get the next book, especially if the series grows in complexity.

I really liked the Japanese setting and traditions, which lent depth to the story. Kimi is a great heroine – I found myself rooting for her throughout – and I loved her relationship with her sister, Hana, as well.

Niggles I had: I hate foreshadowing, and this book does it in spades throughout (especially in the epilogue!). And there was possibly too much time spent on fighting scenes for me, but I can definitely see its appeal to younger readers.

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Tortall and Other Lands: A Collection of TalesTortall and Other Lands: A Collection of Tales by Tamora Pierce (YA fantasy)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A mix of previously-published and new stories from Tamora Pierce – of course I was going to buy this collection, being a long-time fan of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall stories.

I admit I was secretly hoping for an Alanna story, but oh well. We got Alanna’s daughter, Aly, instead – it was interesting to have a glimpse into Aly and Nawat’s married life and what happened after Trickster’s Queen.

Funnily enough, I think I liked the contemporary non-fantasy story, “Testing”, best. I’m not sure short stories are Tamora Pierce’s forte, but this was worth buying, and the sneak peek for her next novel, “Mastiff”, reminded me of how much I am looking forward to that coming out.

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The High King's Tomb (Green Rider, #3)The High King’s Tomb by Kristen Britain (fantasy)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I did finish this book, but it took a while. I was in the sort of reading mood where I just wanted to read a couple of chapters a day, and this probably suited the pacing of this book, because it was rather slow-moving all the way until the last few chapters.

Too many POVs meant I never really connected with the characters. The main character, Karigan, came across as a bit Mary Sue-ish and I don’t think she was charismatic enough to carry the book – much more a plot-driven than character-driven book, IMO. The most fascinating aspects of the world came at the end, when Karigan & co explored the underground tombs – this was possibly explored more in previous books, but I admit I can’t recall much about them.

All in all, the book suited my mood at the time, but I doubt I’ll pick up the next book in the series when it comes out.

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Barnburner (Jennifer Pierce Maine Mystery #1)Barnburner by Sharon Lee (mystery)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I loved the retro contemporariness of this book (yes, I just made that phrase up)… it’s set in the late 1980s and you have dial-up modems! Local BBSs! Cameras with actual film! Old-style computer menus!

Okay, I’ll stop now. That aside (though those details really made the book for me), this was an enjoyable mystery and I loved the fact that Jennifer was not a TTSL heroine. The resolution sort of snuck up on me – I was not expecting the (e)book to finish when it did as I was so busy taking in – and just plain enjoying – the small-town Maine setting and the characters.

And yeah, I bought its sequel Gunshy as soon as I finished.

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Speed Dating (Harlequin Nascar)Speed Dating by Nancy Warren (category romance)

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

One of the free reads offered by Mills & Boon/Harlequin, I downloaded this because I enjoyed Erin McCarthy‘s stock car racing books and was hoping this would be in a similar vein.

While I liked the initial setup (and having a heroine as an actuary), the romance lacked zing and I never connected with the characters. Quick way to spend an hour, but not really a memorable romance*.

*Obviously proven by the fact I said I hadn’t read a category romance in years when I posted last week.

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GhosTV (PsyCop, #6)GhosTV by Jordan Castillo Price (paranormal m/m romance)

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the strongest PsyCop books so far, IMO – though not one to start off with.

I love reading series that have a long-running relationship over the course of several books as you get to see what happens after the initial HEA, which to me, is equally as interesting, if not more, than the initial attraction and falling in love part.

And we have this in GhosTV – Vik and Jacob’s relationship continues to develop, there’s still strong chemistry combined with vulnerability on both sides, which makes for great relationship dynamics. And of course, with Vik being an excellent protagonist of the smart-ass type, this makes for a wonderfully funny and satisfying read.

The mystery plot was strong too, and I have to say that I was still thinking about the PsyCop world a day later, which just shows how much this world has captured my imagination.

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6 thoughts on “February Reads

  1. I STILL have to get Salisbury Key. It’s one of those books that I’ve had in and out of my ARe shopping cart like a million times. After your review, it’s definitely staying in there for my next purchase!

    Isn’t Vic awesome? I love how he’s grown thru the PsyCop series, yet still retained some of his neurotic tendencies. And, you’re so right about how his and Jacob’s relationship has some great dynamics! Can’t wait for the next installment.

    • I loved Salisbury Key even more than I did Driftwood, so yeah, totally recommend.

      I didn’t realise there was another PsyCop book coming out, so GhosTV was a surprise, but a good one! I need to start on her other series (Channeling Morpheus?) – have you read them? If they’re as good as PsyCop, I foresee a glom coming on.

      • I’ve had the 1st bk from the CM series for ages. I haven’t read it yet, and I don’t know why, given how much I love PsyCop. Must rectify that.

        Have you read her standalone, Hemovore? That was the first I read by JCP, and it was REALLY good!

      • I did – agree! I started reading her PsyCop books first, IIRC – they’ve becoming so much better as the series progresses (not that they weren’t good to start off with!).

  2. Looks like a good assortment of reading. I am working my way through Diana Wynne Jones books at the moment. I tend to read something by her, really enjoy it, but then take forever to get back to anything else… Trying to remedy that this year!

    • It was actually a pretty good month for reading! I read the first four Chrestomanci books in a row, and then had to track down the others, so it’s taken me a while to finish the series off. I still have loads of DWJ books still unread though.

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