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Reading List by Jennie for June 2012

Dedication by Janet Mullany

My review is here. I liked this quite well, in spite of the fact that I rather embarrassingly didn’t remember that I’d read the original version. I Am Old.

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Lust Ever After by Rose de Fer

My review here. Eh.

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The Dark Knight by Elizabeth Elliott

My review here. Unfortunately a bit of a letdown, though it looks like other readers liked it better than I did.

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Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

Still reading this – I believe I started it in the early days of Obama’s presidency [/slight exaggeration]. Almost done, finally. I”m unsure if I should continue with the other books in the series. My only motivation is that it seems like a legitimate way (yes, I know these are my own arbitrary rules) to spoil myself for future seasons of the HBO series. But I’d have to get through the whole second book, I think, which is probably a jillion pages long (GoT is over 800 pages) before I got to read anything that I haven’t seen on the show already.

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Wild by Cheryl Strayed

I think this is an Oprah bookclub pick, which annoys me even if I think Jonathan Franzen is an asshole. But I started it before Oprah announced it, so nyah-nyah, I guess. Anyway, this is Strayed’s memoir of hiking the Pacific Coast Trail in the 1990s as a way of coming to terms with her mother’s untimely death at age 45. Strayed is a very good writer, and I relate strongly to women grieving over their mothers (as I still am, eight years on), so this book worked really well for me.

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Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

Still working my way through Austen, which I know I should’ve done ages ago. So far I like this better than Emma but not as much as Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. I’m having a little trouble keeping the peripheral characters straight, for some reason. Fanny is a sympathetic heroine (though a little drippy) but so far this one isn’t quite as compelling or humorous as I’ve come to expect from Austen. I’m only about a third of the way in, though.

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Ravishing the Heiress by Sherry Thomas

Jane’s review is here. I mentioned in the review comments that I acknowledge some of the book’s weaknesses, but my feelings about it (and my grade) were very similar to Jane’s. It’s rare these days for a romance to evoke as much emotion in me as this book did.

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Tempting the Bride by Sherry Thomas

I just finished this one. Like the other books in the trilogy, it’s pretty compelling though flawed. It’s interesting to me, actually, that characters throughout the three books share some of the same flaws that make them less likable/sympathetic/believable: a certain blindness and willingness to go on for years maintaining a status quo with which they are unhappy. In the hands of a less skilled writer, this would bug me more. I’d give this an A-/B+.

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50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Lazaraspaste’s review is here. I’m reading this for a book club thingie. Hold me, I’m scared (I just started it; Anastasia is SUPER-ANNOYING).

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has been an avid if often frustrated romance reader for the past 15 years. In that time she's read a lot of good romances, a few great ones, and, unfortunately, a whole lot of dreck. Many of her favorite authors (Ivory, Kinsale, Gaffney, Williamson, Ibbotson) have moved onto other genres or produce new books only rarely, so she's had to expand her horizons a bit. Newer authors she enjoys include Julie Ann Long, Megan Hart and J.R. Ward, and she eagerly anticipates each new Sookie Stackhouse novel. Strong prose and characterization go a long way with her, though if they are combined with an unusual plot or setting, all the better. When she's not reading romance she can usually be found reading historical non-fiction.

12 Comments

  1. EGS
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 11:41:45

    Mansfield Park is my least favorite Austen, and isn’t as “bright and sparkling” as Pride and Prejudice or Emma. Even Austen’s mother described Fanny as insipid.

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  2. Dabney
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 13:49:16

    It’s interesting you so liked Tempting the Bride. I have loved almost all of Sherry Thomas’s books and adored Ravishing the Heiress. I really disliked Tempting the Bride. Not one thing about it worked for me. I hated the plot device–I think I’ve never read an amnesia story I liked–, couldn’t stand the self-abnegation of the hero–he’d been so interesting in the first two books–, and the love story left me stone cold.

    I do think the book is better in Thomas’s hands than it would have been in many others but even her lovely writing didn’t elevate this novel for me.

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  3. Annemarie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 14:24:28

    I started on GoT a couple of days ago. I gave up on the ebook and just bought the print so I can flit back and forth between pages when I need a refresher while reading. Definitely sucked me in with the first chapter and I can see why the series is so wildly popular.

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  4. Jennie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 15:28:20

    @EGS: I thought Northanger Abbey was the consensus least favorite Austen, which is why I’m avoiding it. But I’m wondering if it would be more entertaining than MP.

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  5. Jennie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 15:32:13

    @Dabney: The hero didn’t bother me because I felt like we were getting to see him from his POV, which was naturally more complete than the previous glimpses we got of him. I still wonder at dragging out the amnesia trope, though.

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  6. Jennie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 15:34:44

    @Annemarie: Have you watched the show? If not, you’re in for a treat!

    I did end up buying the second book. I may not love Martin’s writing the way some others do, but I am invested enough in the characters at this point to want to follow along in print.

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  7. Dabney
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 15:38:08

    @Jennie: I liked him better when I didn’t know him so well….

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  8. Janet Mullany
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 19:17:33

    Oh, I LOVE Mansfield Park. It’s such a sexy book. Really. The scene with the gate? Mary Crawford? Wowsa.

    Thanks for the mention of Dedication. It’s so long ago I almost forgot I wrote it.

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  9. E
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 23:03:12

    @Jennie:

    Jennie, Northanger Abbey is a great read, if you are familiar with some of the gothic novels, particularly any by Mrs. Radcliffe (The Mysteries of Udolpho) and Lewis (The Monk). The first time I read NA without the other works, it didn’t really make any sense. When I read it again in college as part of an eighteenth-century British novel class, Austen’s sense of humor shone through brilliantly as a satire of the gothic novels, and now I quite enjoy it.

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  10. Jennie
    Jul 30, 2012 @ 23:14:30

    @Janet Mullany: Okay, I will persevere with MP. Sigh.

    @E you make me more interested in trying NA – thanks!

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  11. Rosario
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 04:12:56

    Re: 50 shades: Ah, that was me the last three weeks. I tried to read it for my book club, but only managed to get through about half of it. The urge to strangle Anastasia forced me to put it down every 10 pages or so. On the plus side, we did have a fantastic discussion at book club!

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  12. EGS
    Jul 31, 2012 @ 08:49:16

    @Jennie: Northanger Abbey is my favorite after P&P! Henry Tilney is a dreamboat. I highly recommend it.

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