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What Jennie’s Been Reading

I haven’t been finishing books that quickly lately; first the holidays interfered and then work interfered. I read and reviewed The Lost Book of Mala R. and Lily. Here’s a rundown of what else I’ve been reading:

The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: I started this on the recommendation of a friend; it’s her favorite book. I’m about halfway through, and…it’s good. I wouldn’t say I love it the way my friend does, but it has a nice atmosphere to it. Wikipedia says it’s an epistolary novel; I had always thought epistolary=letters, but I guess it can include other documents (in the case of this book, diary entries and legal statements form a good part of the story).  I’m interested in the resolution and how the disparate elements come together. I had previously had some vague idea that this was a ghost story, but it’s really more of a mystery with an unusual structure and some intriguing characters (the affable yet menacing Count Fosco chief among them).

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Pure by Julianna Baggott: I’m still fairly early on in this dystopian YA novel. So far, so good, though I find the world-building a little confusing. That’s not unusual for me, though (one reason I am wary of fantasy and sci-fi books). I plan to review this one.

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Leningrad by Anna Reid: I’ve been reading this one for a while but haven’t made a huge amount of progress. I was expecting it to be more composed of personal anecdotes of those who lived throug the Siege of Leningrad, but so far, while there are some of those, there’s also a lot of big picture stuff about the war, troop movements, Hitler and Stalin, etc. This doesn’t interest me quite as much, especially when it gets very military-focused – battle stuff bores me to tears. I still have hopes, though. I am having trouble keeping all of the Russian names straight – I wish there were a glossary or something similar to help me with that.

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The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman: I have heard about this book forever – I think Jayne is a fan, perhaps? Having caught up with the late author’s medieval mystery series (written as Ariana Franklin), I broke down and ordered this from overseas. I’m about 2/3 through it and enjoying it a lot. Penitence Hurd, colonial Puritan turned London actress turned mistress to royalty is a unique and fascinating character. I have to say, I have read a lot of books featuring Charles II lately, and I swear I like him less each time I read about him. Seriously, he appears to have been a real douche canoe, both as a monarch and a man.

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Until next time,


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.


  1. Laura Lee Bayne
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 11:02:47

    “Douche canoe”? Fabulous turn of phrase and a very apt description of Chuck II. :)

  2. gabrielle
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 15:47:33

    Along the lines of Leningrad – “City of Thieves” and “The Madonnas of Leningrad” created intimate pictures of the experience of the siege from two very different character and setting perspectives. Both novels were memorable and heartening and provided a fascinating immersion in history while remaining quick, engaging reads.

  3. AmyW
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 18:03:05

    I loved The Woman in White. Laura is TSLT, but I <3 Marian Halcombe.

  4. Susan/DC
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 20:44:28

    I loved “The Vizard Mask”. It’s got one of the best first lines ever (“The plague and Penitence Hurd arrived in London on the same day.”) and the rest of the book lives up to the standard. I don’t remember disliking Charles, but definitely found some of the members of his court dispicable. Thought Prince Rupert was a fascinating character, however.

  5. Amy
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 00:19:09

    Hi Jennie,
    I read an advanced copy of Pure a couple of weeks ago, stick with it. I found the different chapters jumping between characters a bit difficult to read but I did enjoy the book all the same. It is a tough read particularly about 2 thirds in and most of the story line is tied up in the last ten or so pages but it is a good read. I even found myself tearing up at couple of moments.
    I hope you like it

  6. Jennie
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 00:47:05

    @gabrielle: Thanks for the recs. I find the story of the Siege of Leningrad fascinating, though of course quite grim.

  7. Jennie
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 01:03:10

    @AmyW: I know! I’m almost done with it and I keep hoping Walter will throw over drippy Laura for Marian.

  8. Jayne
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 07:16:16

    Yes, I am a fan of Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin! And this is actually one of the ones I haven’t read yet. Nice to hear good things about the one that I vaguely recall getting from an overseas source too.

  9. Molly O'Keefe
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 08:20:11

    City of Thieves (by David Benioff one of the masterminds behind bringing Game of Thrones to television) is one of the best books I’ve read in years. Hilarious, scary, human, cinematic – I loved it. It made me buy 600 Days which I can’t get through.

  10. Keishon
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 09:44:57

    I loved The Vizard Mask. Hope you will review it. Somebody. I loved Blood Royal too. Another one of her OOP titles. I bought her entire backlist. She is just awesome and the heroes she creates are memorable.

  11. Jennie
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 16:21:18

    @Keishon: I like The Vizard Mask a lot but don’t love it. I’m almost done with it, and I feel like the denoument is being dragged out for years (presumably to coincide with historic events). I liked the first part of the book better. But I definitely plan to track down her other books.

  12. Keishon
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 16:59:06

    @Jennie: I agree that the first half was much, much better than the second but I loved Henry King (the hero) and I tend to have a (bad) habit of overlooking any flaws within the story’s construct (a weakness I am sorry to say) but I am so glad you are liking it a lot at least ;-) Glad you mentioned this book and I realize no review will probably be forthcoming because it is OOP.

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