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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Suddenly Sunday (January 30)

Hosted by Svea from Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog

Happy Sunday dear readers.  I hope this finds all of you well.  Things have been quite hectic here on the triangle. Since I have been back to work, I have been super busy.  I have this big in-house education thing due next Friday, and my subject material is enormous.  So much bigger than i anticipated.  My session will rock of course,  but I am starting to panic that it won't be done in time.  Hence, I have not been out and about on the interwebs lately, and I do apologize.  Things should be back to normal in no time.

In addition, I accepted another teaching assignment for the local community college, and that starts on Tuesday.  So I have been busy preparing for that as well.  Crazy Jenny I know, but I need spending money for vacation and I couldn't pass it up.  Other than that, not much else is going on.  Work, gym, shower and sleep.  Oh and cook meals on Saturdays for the week.  Eating healthy requires planning, preparation, and time people. 

On the reading front, I have been good with not accepting review copies, except for the ones I really truly want.  The TLC books are always a treat and I limit myself when choosing.  I recently picked up a few books from the library which were recommendations from fellow bloggers, which leads me to my question of the week:

How do you keep track of who recommends what?  Spreadsheet, Goodreads?  Is there a way in Goodreads I don't know about?  Just curious.

Today I am starting Maisie Dobbs recommended by Julie from Booking Momma.  I remembered this one because I requested it from the library as soon as I read her review.  I just finished When We Were Strangers and it was excellent.  Enjoyable and satisfying.  It was for TLC Book Tours and my review will post on February 10th, so be sure to check it out.  I also have a few old but recent reviews I need to post and may do that this week.  We'll see.  No promises!

Well until next time my friends, happy reading, and take care :)

And don't forget!  You have until midnight tomorrow to enter my contest for a copy of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy.  Check this post for details.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Review: Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Genre: Fiction
Trade paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating: 92/100

From TLC Book Tour home page:

In the small village of Edgecombe St. Mary in the English countryside lives Major Ernest Pettigrew (retired), the unlikely hero of Helen Simonson’s wondrous debut. Wry, courtly, opinionated, and completely endearing, the Major leads a quiet life valuing the proper things that Englishmen have lived by for generations: honor, duty, decorum, and a properly brewed cup of tea. But then his brother’s death sparks an unexpected friendship with Mrs. Jasmina Ali, the Pakistani shopkeeper from the village. Drawn together by their shared love of literature and the loss of their spouses, the Major and Mrs. Ali soon find their friendship blossoming into something more. But village society insists on embracing him as the quintessential local and regarding her as the permanent foreigner. Can their relationship survive the risks one takes when pursuing happiness in the face of culture and tradition?

My Thoughts:

Major Pettigrew is a 68 year old, widowed, proper English gentleman, who has come to a cross roads in his life.  The Major is feeling his age, and now his only brother has passed away.  In addition, his only child, a son named Roger, lives in London and is too busy with the finer things in life to appreciate his father or where his roots are.  Roger hardly pays attention to the Major, unless he needs something. 
The Major realizes times are changing.  The old ways of civility and honor are fading, just like him, until he meets Mrs. Ali.  Lovely, soft spoken, gentlewomanly Mrs. Ali.  She is Pakistani and has continued running her deceased husband's shop in the village.  Through their love of  Rudyard Kipling and tea, the Major and Mrs. Ali embark on a long, tentative, romantic journey together.  Their road to a full blown love affair is filled with obstacles: their cultural differences, societal attitudes, and their very opinionated friends and family.  All of these themes are woven through marvelously in this story.  It is like they are there, but they are not. 

I loved this book!  It was charming, enjoyable and had me wanting a cup of tea every time I picked it up.  Simonson pulls the reader in immediately with the Major and his close call with depression. So, when he finds the beginnings of happiness with Mrs. Ali you are pulling for him all the way.  The Major also has a dry sense of humor, and his observations and comments throughout the story made me laugh. 

Simonson also paints a beautiful picture of the English countryside and its inhabitants.  It was effortless to imagine myself beside the Major in his daily escapades with the residents of Edgecombe St. Mary.  All of the characters in this book were quite easy to conjure because, you have probably come across one or two of them in your lives: the snobby one, the righteous one, the pretty perfect one, etc.  One of my favorite scenes was towards the end of the story where the Major must "rescue" Mrs. Ali, and it was just delightful.  These two are such a cute couple and I enjoyed my time with them.  This was truly a very sweet story and I wouldn't mind visiting with the Major and Mrs. Ali again.

For more information about Helen Simonson please visit one of the following:
*Her webpage
*Her Facebook page
*Her Goodreads page

For more information about this book tour please visit the master page for the tour at TLC Book Tours.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours for my review copy.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen

The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Fiction, historical fiction
Trade Paperback, 400 pages
Book Source: the publisher, Sourcebooks
My Rating: 95/100

From Goodreads:

Convinced that the lovely Elizabeth Bennet is her brother's soul mate, Georgiana Darcy enlists her clever and not at all snobbish cousin Anne de Bourgh in ensuring that pride and prejudice aren't able to keep these two hearts apart. All is going according to plan until Lydia Bennet brings scandal on the family by eloping with George Wickham, and Darcy is called away from Elizabeth's side before he has a chance to propose. It will take all Georgiana and Anne's considerable matchmaking talents to ensure that Elizabeth and Darcy are reunited in time to claim their happily ever after.

My Thoughts:

I am very leery when it comes to reading Austen inspired fiction, re-writes, or sequels. However when it comes to Simonsen's work all bets are off. Simonsen's past Austen inspired books were quite good and The Perfect Bride is no exception. I really liked and enjoyed this one immensely. Simonsen uses the basic premise of Pride & Prejudice condensing the original source work into a few chapters at the beginning. Kind of like a summary, but a quick telling of events to get the reader up to speed. The bulk of this match making story takes place after Elizabeth refuses Darcy at Rosings. Simonsen adds to P&P by expanding upon situations form the book, making them her own.

For example, when Darcy writes the letter to Lizzy to explain his side of the story, he first pours his heart out to his cousin Anne de Bourgh, who he is very close with. This is where Anne steps in and she is wonderful! Nothing like her mother or the portrayal we are used to seeing in the movie versions of P&P. That's what made this story refreshing for me. Expansion of characters, getting into their heads, reading about their background. This goes for Georgiana and Colonel Fitzwilliam as well.

As for elaborating on situations, Simonsen delves into what happened with Lydia in Brighton, Fitzwilliam's family history, and shows how Caroline Bingley truly is a witch. Caroline certainly gets her comeuppance, and those scenes were delicious yet painful to read at times, because you just know she is not getting Darcy despite what she thinks.

As for Lizzy and Darcy, Simonsen wonderfully builds anticipation between the two of them. Each with their own thoughts and apprehension of seeing each other, "Do I look good...will my feelings be returned." I was very eager for them to get together. Just speak your mind Darcy!

All in all I really enjoyed this book. It was like getting together with old friends who I haven't seen for a while and they had stories to share. All of the characters were wonderfully drawn and I felt like I was in the room when events happened. I also loved the fact that Simonsen used the previously unexplored characters of Georgiana and Anne as the impetus of the matchmaking and all of the machinations of the match making was cute. So if you are looking for a fun and interesting read, pick this one up. You will enjoy it.

Giveaway 411:

So would you like to win a copy of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy?
Courtesy of the fabulous Danielle from Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of Mary's book for giveaway.

The rules are as follows:

Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.
Leave a comment with a way to contact you on yesterday's guest post.
+1 entry for visiting and commenting on this review.  I think it works out to two entries.

Deadline for entries is midnight, EST, January 31, 2011.

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my ARC and giveaway copies.


I am an Amazon Associate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Giveaway & Guest Post by Mary Lydon Simonsen, author of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy

Dear Readers, 
Please welcome today's guest blogger, Mary Lydon Simonsen.  She is the author of The Prefect Bride for Mr. Darcy, which was published this month by Sourcebooks.

Welcome Mary and glad to have you :)

Hi Jenny, It’s good to be back at Jenny Loves to Read, one of my favorite blogs. You have asked me to discuss a few topics regarding Jane Austen and her work, and I am happy to do so.

First, why do I think Jane Austen is still relevant in today’s society? Probably because the characters and situations she created are as familiar today as they would have been in 1811 when Sense and Sensibility was first published. For example, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood and Jane and Elizabeth Bennet all wanted to marry for love, and in order to do that, they had to meet that special someone who could provide for them. That is no different than what I want for my two daughters and what Mrs. Dashwood and Mrs. Bennet wanted for their children. Additionally, we know these people. The cast of characters in Austen’s novels are our friends, classmates, co-workers, fellow congregants, and people we wish to avoid, such as Mr. Collins. Most of us went to school with a Caroline Bingley or Fanny Dashwood, and I had a boss who could give Lady Catherine a run for her money. And thirty-five years ago, I was fortunate enough to find my own Mr. Darcy.

What makes Austen so timeless? Excellent writing, such as Austen’s, will survive the ages. But I think one of the reasons so many of us are still reading Austen nearly 200 years after her death, instead of, say, Fanny Burney, is because she had great wit. Look at the first line in P&P: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” It’s brilliant and someone is probably paraphrasing that line as I write. Another reason is that I think her characters are approachable. I can easily imagine having a conversation with Elizabeth Bennet and Anne Elliot, and although Darcy is from an elevated rank, I think he is “gettable,” and that is why women all want a Mr. Darcy in their lives.

What makes her a favorite of mine? That’s easy. I love Austen mainly because I love Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy and Anne Elliot and Frederick Wentworth. Those are the characters that I write about when I write Austen re-imaginings. And Austen made it possible for me to write my stories because she leaves a lot to the reader’s imagination. There are no excessive details about ball gowns or drawing rooms. She provides us with a stage on which to build our own set. Because of this, I was able to take two minor characters from Pride and Prejudice, Anne De Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy, and use them to move the plot forward in my latest novel. In The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy, it is Darcy’s female relations who understand that Darcy and Elizabeth are perfect for each other, and so they plot and plan ways in which to bring the two together at Pemberley. If either female character had been more developed in Austen’s novel, it would have been much harder for me to do that. I think Austen trusted her readers to fill in the details.

Finally, part of Austen’s appeal is that most of us think that we could be these characters and star in a film or television adaptation of her novels. I most certainly could play the retiring Anne Elliot or Elinor Dashwood. I know that there are times when I am as self-absorbed as Emma, and I would like to think that I have Elizabeth’s spunk and Catherine Morland’s sense of wonder. And then there are the rewards of playing these likable female characters. I get to capture the heart of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley, Captain Wentworth, or Mr. Tilney. What’s not to like about that?

Thank you for having me. It’s been a pleasure.


If the two of them weren’t so stubborn…

It’s obvious to Georgiana Darcy that the lovely Elizabeth Bennet is her brother’s perfect match, but Darcy’s pigheadedness and Elizabeth’s wounded pride are going to keep them both from the loves of their lives.

Georgiana can’t let that happen, so she readily agrees to help her accommodating cousin, Anne de Bourgh, do everything within their power to assure her beloved brother’s happiness.

But the path of matchmaking never runs smoothly…


Mary Lydon Simonsen’s first book, Searching for Pemberley, was acclaimed by Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and RT Book Reviews. She is well loved and widely followed on all the Jane Austen fanfic sites, with tens of thousands of hits and hundreds of reviews whenever she posts. She lives in Peoria, Arizona where she is working on her next Jane Austen novel. For more information, please visit and, where she regularly contributes.

Thank you very much for stopping by today Mary.

Giveaway 411:

So would you like to win a copy of The Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy
Courtesy of the fabulous Danielle from Sourcebooks, I have 2 copies of Mary's book for giveaway.
The rules are as follows:

Open to U.S. and Canada addresses only.
Leave a comment with a way to contact you.
+1 entry for visiting and commenting on my review which will post tomorrow.

Deadline for entries is midnight, EST, January 31, 2011.

I am an Amazon Associate.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Post by Lou Aronica, author of Blue

Today dear readers I have a lovely guest post by Lou Aronica, author of yesterday's book Blue. 
I asked Lou his thoughts on the following topics: Why fantasy?  What is it about fantasy that you like so much?  Your earliest fantasy influences?

And now, Lou's post:

The first writer whose work truly resonated with me was Ray Bradbury. I’ll never forget picking up a copy of his story collection, I Sing the Body Electric before going on a six-hour car trip with my parents when I was twelve or thirteen. I have no recollection of that car trip because Bradbury had completely transported me. Right then, I became smitten with fantastic fiction. This affection followed me into my professional life, where my first real gig in the publishing business was starting Spectra, the science fiction and fantasy imprint of Bantam Books. One of the singular experiences of my life was, at age twenty-five, getting to meet Ray Bradbury not as a fan, but as his publisher.

In spite of my affection for the genre, though, when I started to write my own fiction, it was not fantasy. My first novel, The Forever Year (published under the name Ronald Anthony because I was too nervous about my skills to publish under my own name), was an homage to my father and there was no place for fantasy in it. My second novel, Flash and Dazzle (also Ronald Anthony), was about male friendship. I suppose I could have set it in a medieval kingdom with dragons and wizards, but I set it in an ad agency in Manhattan instead. I was very happy writing about places I knew and populating my stories with people whose lives were similar to those in my circle.

For my third novel, though, I had a different goal in mind. I wanted to write about things that truly mattered to me (which is not to say that my father and my male friends didn’t matter to me), and I wanted to do it in a way that would sweep readers up in the story. I realized that most of the stories that truly captured my heart – from “ET” to John Crowley’s Little, Big to “Field of Dreams” – employed the fantastic in some way. I realized with some irony that if I wanted to make the emotions in my next novel as real as I could, I needed to write a fantasy.

My new book, Blue doesn’t have any dragons, wizards, vampires, magic rings, or anything of that sort in it. Instead, it uses a gentler type of fantasy, one that Ray Bradbury taught me about so many years ago, the kind of fantasy that shifts our reality to let the purity of the experience come through. Blue is about what happens when a bedtime-story world comes to life for reasons none of the characters understand until the end of the novel. The three main characters are a man in his early forties, his largely estranged fourteen-year-old daughter, and the young queen from the imaginary world they created when the daughter was much younger.

I chose to use the tools of fantasy for this novel because doing so allowed me to switch things up for the characters just enough to let their true feelings emerge. The world that Becky and Chris create is a manifestation of their closeness when Becky was a child. When divorce enters their lives, they stop telling the fantasy story because Becky doesn’t want to pretend any longer. And when the world they created suddenly gains form, they learn an enormous amount about the nature of their relationship, the quality of their dreams, and the need they have for something to create together.

An ad agency wasn’t going to work for this story. I needed the possibilities of the improbable to make this story real. If even one person has the experience with Blue that I had with Ray Bradbury on that car trip, I will be a very happy man.


Thank you so much for stopping by Lou.  I really enjoyed reading this post, and wish you much luck and success with Blue.


I am an Amazon Associate.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Review: Blue by Lou Aronica

Blue by Lou Aronica
Publisher: Fiction Studio
Genre: fiction, fantasy
Trade paperback  394 pages
Book Source: the author
My Rating: 80/100

From Goodreads:

Chris Astor is a man in his early forties who is going through the toughest stretch of his life. Becky is Chris's fourteen-year-old daughter, a girl who overcame enormous challenges to become a vibrant, vital young woman - and now faces her greatest obstacle yet. Miea is the young queen of a fantasy land that Becky and Chris created when Becky was little, a fantasy land that has developed a life of its own and now finds itself in terrible, maybe fatal trouble. Together, Chris, Becky, and Miea need to uncover a secret. The secret to why their worlds have joined at this moment. The secret to their purpose. The secret to the future. It is a secret that, when discovered, will redefine imagination for all of them. Blue is a novel of trial and hope, invention and rediscovery. It might very well take you someplace you never knew existed.

My Thoughts:

This was an interesting yet tough story for me to read in some respects.  On the one hand you have this lovely young girl Becky with an incredible story of survival, who discovers the fantasy world she created with her Dad to escape difficult times actually exists.  On the other hand, Becky is caught in the middle of  her parents divorce, and I must admit, I wasn't crazy about either mom or dad.  Becky's mom Polly is just ridiculous, and her father Chris is not a very strong person.  That is about all I can say about those two people.  Becky was the highlight of the story as well as her fantasy world Tamarisk.  The story alternates between here and Tamarisk and I found myself skimming the parent parts to get to Beck'y parts.

In Tamarisk we meet Miea, who is the Queen and she has some problems of her own to deal with.  Yet, Miea takes time out of her busy and difficult day to listen to Becky and show her the world she has created.  I really got a feel for Tamarisk and it's inhabitants and it was a very fun and interesting world.  Becky also get to show more of herself in that world which was another reason I liked those parts.

The other thing that I wasn't crazy about, was that early on in the story, I figured out the ending.  The ending may not be happy, but finding out so early made the remainder of  the story a bit boring for me.  It is not spelled out, but the writing is clearly on the wall.  The ending itself although sad is sweet and hopeful when you think about it.  It is also an event no one should have to go through.  My last quibble, is that some of the dialogue in the story was a bit clunky or not quite right, but that is kind of minor.

Overall I like the idea for the story and some parts of it, but the journey to get there not so much.  I do feel bad to say this wasn't my cup of tea, because I think the writing of this story was a very personal journey for Aronica; possibly cathartic.  I know Aronica drew from very personal and passionate issues to write this story, and this made the book and this review difficult to write.  Aronica's personal stake is the reason why I finished it.

Honesty is what you expect from me and that is what you are getting.  Just because I didn't like it, doesn't mean you won't like it either.  So, if the summary blurb above intrigues you, give this book a go.
As a counterpoint to my review, here are some other reviews I found on online:
Confessions of an Overworked Mom
Mel's Books and Info
Niki's Book Reviews

And a blog tour by Pump Up Your Book, here's the home page

For more information about Lou Aronica, Blue, or about Fiction Studio his creative development company, please visit this website:

I am an Amazon Associate.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Review: Nocturne by Syrie James

Publisher: Vanguard Press
Genre: Fiction, paranormal romance
Hardback 264 pages
Book Source: Wunderkind PR
My Rating: 90/100

From Vanguard Press' website:

From international bestselling author Syrie James comes a haunting and deeply romantic story of forbidden love that will steal your heart and never let you go.

When Nicole Whitcomb’s car runs off a Colorado mountain road during a blinding snowstorm, she is saved from death by a handsome, fascinating, and enigmatic stranger. Snowbound with him for days in his beautiful home high in the Rockies, she finds herself powerfully attracted to him. But there are things about him that mystify her, filling her with apprehension.

Who is Michael Tyler? Why does he live alone in such a secluded spot and guard his private life so carefully? What secret—or secrets—is he hiding? Nicole has secrets of her own and a past she is running from—but Michael understands her better than anyone she has ever known. Soon, she is falling as deeply in love with him as he is with her—a profoundly meaningful experience that is destined to change their lives forever.

As the sexual tension between them builds, however, the clues mount up. When Nicole learns her host’s terrifying secret, there is nowhere for her to run but into the blizzard raging outside, and Michael may be the only one who can save her life.

Three Reasons Review:

1.) Reasons you chose this book

I accepted this book for review because I read James' other book, Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, and loved it.  Also, I have heard wonderful things about Dracula, My Love, and Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte.  So I figured, lets give this one a try, shall we?

2.) Reasons you liked or disliked this book

Reasons for liking: I liked Michael's character and the vampire background and myth James created.  Michael is a very sweet guy, but inside him lurks a monster, that he cannot always control.  Therefore he choose to live in the middle of nowhere, with very little contact with humans.  A recluse and very private person, although he does miss the human contact and interaction.  But again, there is the monster thing.

I also liked the set-up of bringing Michael and Nicole together, the car crash, etc.

Reasons for disliking: Nicole, plain and simple.  For some reason, the woman worked my nerves.  This stranger saved you and states how private he is.  You can tell from his surroundings and demeanor, that he is recluse.  Therefore, why, oh why, do you keep torturing this man with questions?  I understand it moves the plot along, and gets Michael to open up, but ...I just wasn't crazy about her.  I feel as though Nicole didn't take Michael's feelings into consideration when asking all of her pesky questions.  Basically I didn't like Nicole, and because of that, the story was just meh for me.

3.) Reasons you are or are not recommending this book

Although this book was not for me, I did finish it.  It's a quick read at only 264 pages.  Also, considering there are only two characters in the story, kudos to James for the writing and coming up with all of the conversations between Michael and Nicole.  James' writing is very descriptive, and she puts you right into the story. Hence the 90/100. 
Even though I didn't like this book, it won't stop me from reading other other works. 
For more information, please visit Syrie James website:

Thanks to Elena from Wunderkind PR for my review copy.


I am an Amazon Associate.

Friday, January 7, 2011

DNF Review: The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
Genre: Fiction, Classic
Paperback, 400 pages
Book Source: the library
My Rating:  DNF therefore no rating

From Goodreads:

In this powerful book we enter the world of Jurgis Rudkus, a young Lithuanian immigrant who arrives in America fired with dreams of wealth, freedom, and opportunity. And we discover, with him, the astonishing truth about "packingtown," the busy, flourishing, filthy Chicago stockyards, where new world visions perish in a jungle of human suffering. Upton Sinclair, master of the "muckraking" novel, here explores the workingman's lot at the turn of the century: the backbreaking labor, the injustices of "wage-slavery," the bewildering chaos of urban life. The Jungle, a story so shocking that it launched a government investigation, recreates this startling chapter in our history in unflinching detail. Always a vigorous champion on political reform, Sinclair is also a gripping storyteller, and his 1906 novel stands as one of the most important -- and moving -- works in the literature of social change.

My Thoughts:

This was a book club pick for the club I was in way back when in 2009.  I really tried to read this one but I just couldn't finish.  I got about 180 pages in and that was enough for me.  I will not go into the gory details because believe me they are gory, disgusting, unbelievable, and mind boggling.  However, this is how it was back then.  That's why Sinclair wrote this book exposing the ills of the meat packing industry.  My God how they treated people, who were mostly immigrants, and how they pulled the wool over the public's eyes.  Let me tell you, it makes you think about what goes on today as well in the food industry.

That is one of the reasons why I couldn't finish the book.  I like meat, and I don't want to know, fictional or not, where my tasty steak comes from.  Yes, I am an ignorant Amercian in this respect, and I'm okay with that.  This is a very depressing story and at the time I was reading this, I was in the middle of some scary health concerns.  Therefore, the last thing I wanted to do was read a depressing story.  So I pout the book down.  I did skim through the remainder, and the story didn't get any better.  Poor Jurgis.  My heart truly went out to him, and all of the characters in this story.  It is a sad reminder of again, what people will do to one another in the name of greed or just plain meanness. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Genre: Fiction, YA, sci-fi
Hardback 374 pages
Book Source: the library (2009)
My Rating: 95/100

Summary from

Twenty-four are forced to enter. Only the winner survives.

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. Each year, the districts are forced by the Capitol to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the Hunger Games, a brutal and terrifying fight to the death – televised for all of Panem to see.

Survival is second nature for sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who struggles to feed her mother and younger sister by secretly hunting and gathering beyond the fences of District 12. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My Thoughts:

Loved this book!!  What else can I say about this story that already hasn't been said??  Great idea for a story, wonderful characters to follow, the world it is set in is believable, and Katniss and Peeta are inspiring.  Each comes from one side of the tracks but have much in common, whether they realize it or not.  They are forced into a set of circumstances that is horrifying and unbelievable, but never underestimate the lengths that people in power will go to to maintain their power.

This book brings up issues that make you think.  What would you do if you were Katniss and Peeta?  What about the people who live in this post-apocalyptic world?  Fighting for food, fighting to survive, and oh yeah, send your kids off to fight to the death. 

I sweated, worried, bit my nails, and prayed for these fictional characters as I read this book.  I think that says it all.
For more information about Suzanne Collins, please visit her website:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chunkster Challenge 2011

I have seen this around the interwebs for some time, and I have always thought about joining.  Now is the finally my time.  This challenge is hosted by Wendy at the Chunkster Reading Challenge Blog, and the rules are as follows:

Definition of a Chunkster:

A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) ... A chunkster should be a challenge.

If you read large type books your book will need to be 525 pages or more ... The average large type book is 10-15% longer or more so I think that was a fair estimate.

The Rules:

*No Audio books in the chunkster. It just doesn't seem right. Words on paper for this one folks.

*No e-Books allowed - we are reading traditional, fat books for this challenge.

*Short Stories and Essay collections will not be counted.

*Books may crossover with other challenges

*Anyone may join. If you don't have a blog, just leave me a comment on this post with your progress (and to let me know you are playing)

*You don't need to list your books ahead of time.

*Once you pick a level, that's're committed to that level!

So the level I'm picking is the Chubby Chunkster, which is defined as "for the reader who wants to dabble in large tomes, but really doesn't want to commit to much more than that. FOUR Chunksters is all you need to finish this challenge. "

I can definitely do 4 chunksters.  I plan on reading Bleak House, don't I?

Thanks to Nan from Nan's Corner of the Web for posting about this contest and thus enticing me to join :)

Please visit the sign-up page if you feel like joining.  Come on!  Whatcha waiting for??


1. Queen By Right  by AE Smith  484 pages

Review: The Lie by Fredrica Wagman

Author: Fredrica Wagman
Publisher: Zoland Books (April 7, 2009)
Genre: Fiction
Trade paperback, 214 pages
Book Source: FSB Associates, publicist

From Frederica Wagman's website:

Coming of age in the 1950's America, Ramona Smollens takes her cues about female sexuality from Hollywood movie stars. None is more voluptuous than Rita Hayworth, the redhead who knows how to please a man and becomes a volcano of passion at her lover's touch, whose image inspired American flyers on their missions in World War ll and even graced the first atomic bomb tested at the Bikini Atoll. Ramona marries young to escape her mother's house shortly after the death of her father. She takes with her a dark secret, the sort of secret one simply did not talk about and that would stalk her as she matured into her role as wife and mother, remained a devoted daughter to her own aging mother and secretly harbored an obsession with the iconic Hayworth.

The fictional story Wagman tells of one woman's struggle with the conventions of her day is a bold literary achievement. Underpinning it all is the sad, unspoken truth of the real-life, flesh-and-blood Hayworth, who was sexually abused by her father for most of her growing up. "Men go to bed with Gilda," she used to say, "but wake up with me." During Hayworth's lifetime, the public had no understanding of the depth of meaning and pain behind Hayworth's seemingly self-effacing words. To Ramona, and millions of women like her, Hayworth's on-screen persona seemed the ideal, but was in fact "the lie."

My Thoughts:

Ramona and Solomon (the man she marries) are two people who have experienced severe major traumas early in their young lives. Solomon found his father murdered and Ramona was sexually abused by her father. Psychological therapy back in the 1950s was not how we know it today, so they were unable to process and work through their resultant mental health issues. Unfortunately Ramona and Solomon are haunted by their pasts for the rest of their lives. But for all the sorrow, doubt, and difficulty they experience, they somehow manage to find each other, albeit somewhat accidentally.

There is a saying, "Every pot has a lid." Ramona and Solomon exemplify this to a T. Things go well for a while but the past is hard to overcome and their life starts to unravel. Ramona begins to fixate on Hayworth and Solomon is ill equipped to deal with Ramona's obsessions and mental health issues. This is an extremely sad tale, but my biggest issue with this book was the way in which it was written. It is one continuous ramble of an unsettled person. For example:

"...For those fleetingly precious moments when the best in both of us came soaring out of all the boredom and suspicion like some exquisite bird in flight...a hawk or an eagle, it was like walking out into the sunshine again after a hospital stay and becoming part once more of that one big beating heart of creation...that one big soul of the whole entire universe that hovers just above the sidewalk as I gazed in infinite gratitude at the whole big autumn afternoon - the trees - the sky - the clouds...happy as I'd walk through Rittenhouse Square filled with a wild sense of joyful freedom because love is freedom..." pg. 95

I understand this is to set the tone of the book and events; put you in the mind of the characters. It was too much for me. It drove me insane.

The cover of this book is what drew me in. I'm shallow and like pretty things. I admit it. So what is up with Rita Hayworth? As mentioned earlier, Hayworth was also sexually abused by her father, so I guess it's supposed to be ironic that Ramona gravitates toward her. Wagman does have an interesting essay about her use of Hayworth on her website.

This was a very dark, disturbing, and sad read for me. I accepted this book because it is out of my normal comfort zone. I tried to expand my horizons. Unfortunately for me, this book was not a good idea. It's just not my thing.
Many other people have liked it. Wagman is a very successful writer.
So, I gave this one a shot. Remember, "Every pot has a lid". This lid just didn't fit my pot.

My Rating: 70/100

Thank you to FSB Associates for my review copy!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander

And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander
Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Historical fiction, mystery
Hardback 320 pages
Book Source: Free Library of Philadelphia (2009)
My Rating: 83/100


For Emily, accepting the proposal of Philip, the Viscount Ashton, was an easy way to escape her overbearing mother, who was set on a grand society match. But when Philip died on safari soon after their wedding, she felt little grief. After all, she barely knew him. Now, nearly two years later, she discovers that Philip was a far different man from the one she had married. His journals reveal him to have been a gentleman scholar and antiquities collector who, to her surprise, was deeply in love. Emily becomes fascinated with her dead husband, immerses herself in all things ancient, and begins to study Greek.

Emily's desire to learn more about Philip takes her to the quiet corridors of the British Museum. There, amid priceless ancient statues, she uncovers a dangerous secret involving stolen artifacts. As she sets out to solve the crime, her search leads to more surprises about her husband and causes her to examine her role as a woman in Victorian society.

My Thoughts:

This is the first book in Alexander's Lady Ashton series.  I accidentally read the second one, A Poisoned Season, before this one, and it's probably a good thing that I did.  I was not a fan of Emily in this book.  At all.  If I had this one first, I never would have continued with the series.  At first I liked Emily.  Her resolve to be single as long as she could. Her independent spirit, all the things I liked in Poisoned Season were here in Deceive.  However once Emily comes to love Philip's spirit and she realizes what she lost, she becomes very melancholy, and melodramatic.  Granted she needed time to grieve and she felt like a low human being since Philip adored her, and she didn't return those feelings during his lifetime, I felt as though she grieved too much, or too long.  I felt like that dragged the story a bit.

The mystery and suspense, the London environment, the clothing and other characters were all superbly done, but Emily herself worked a nerve for a chunk of the book.   I'm certainly glad she grew and changed her tune in Deceive, but I don't think I would have continued with the series, if I had read them in order.  Weird huh?

For more information about Tasha Alexander, please visit her website:

Definitely visit her website, because there are a ton of lovely pictures and information about the places the characters visit in these books.

Monday, January 3, 2011

DNF Review: Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean

Publisher: Broadway Books (Double Day Publishing)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback, 415 pages (150/415)
Book Source: Free Library of Philadelphia
My Rating: None since I couldn't and didn't want to finish it.  DNF should cover that.

From Goodreads:

Delia Chandler, an eighteen-year-old southern girl, marries Viscount Ivor Conisborough just before WWII, and becomes part of the Windsor court. It’s every girl’s dream come true. But Delia is jolted from her pleasant life when she realizes, after the birth of her two daughters, that Ivor chose her only to bear an heir to his estate. Shortly thereafter, she begins an affair with her husband’s handsome, titled, and frequently scandalous best friend.

When Conisborough is appointed as an adviser to King Fuad of Egypt, Delia exchanges one palace circle for another, far different one.While she regards Egypt as a place of exile, separating her from the man she deeply loves, her two daughters regard Egypt as their home. It is a division of loyalties that becomes increasingly marked as Egypt struggles to free itself from British occupation, and only when war comes to Cairo—and Delia finally reveals the secret she has kept for so long—can she begin to heal the divisions separating her from those she loves.

My Thoughts:

Ack!  This book started out so well with so much promise.  Wonderful setting, characters and situations were pretty good, albeit slightly predictable.  Beautiful costumes, and interesting plot movement, that is... until... Delia learns that she must leave England and move with her famously wealthy and important to the Empire husband to Egypt.  Delia just cannot abide by this.  Her beautifully charmed and privileged life is crashing around her.  Mind you she suffered very little during the war and has an "understanding" with her husband.

I just could not stand Delia after this point.  She worked my nerves and I had no desire to finish this story.  I tried too, but then her children came into the story, and they spoke, and then I was truly done.  Her children were utterly ridiculous and worked my nerves just as much.  I must admit I have never before come across a characters that made me instantly want to shut a book like Delia did with me in this story.  I felt as though it was a 180 for her.  Too childish and petty for someone in their late 30's to act.  Therefore I was done with her and this book.

I did skim the remainder of the book and the plot points I discovered made me glad I didn't finish the book.  In a word predictable.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Support Your Local Library, Historical Fiction,


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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Suddenly Sunday (Jan. 2)

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Svea from Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog

Happy Sunday dear readers and friends!  I hope this finds you well and ready to seize 2011.  I for one and am ready to get this year started.  My knee is feeling much better and I think most of that is due to your heartfelt thoughts for a speedy recovery.  Thank you so much for all your support.  I appreciate it immensely.

In the spirit of "out with the old, in with the new", this week is clean up week here at Jenny Loves to Read.  I have had several reviews hanging about my draft folder, that I am kicking to the curb.  Some are books I read back in 2009, and others are just ones I put off for no particular reason.  It is time to start fresh, and these reviews simply have got to go.

In current reading and reviewing news, I have been keeping somewhat current.  I only have a week left for sick leave and then it's back to work for me.  Therefore, I would like to have everything tidied up before hand.  I also have a project for work I need to start and I am hoping to get going with that this week. 

Currently I am reading Nocturne by Syrie James.  It releases on January 4th, and my review will post this coming Saturday.  I am about half way through, and I'm on the fence.  There are only two characters Nicole and Michael, and of course, Nicole is working my nerves.  What is it with these female characters lately?  Is it me or what?  Love him, the plot, and it reads quick.  Nicole is just a bit annoying.  Oh well, but you have to give it to James, the woman knows how to write a story.  She has sucked me in regardless of my feelings so, there's that.

After that, I'm torn about what to start next.  I have two more library books I need to read, Soulless and Season of the Witch but I also have a book due for review on the 28th, that I am also anxious to read, Major Pettigrew's Last Stand.  What is a girl to do?  What is your suggestion?  Mind you I can check Soulless back out 2 more times, whereas Season has only 1 more check out....hmmmm. 



So that's about it for me.  What do you have planned this week?  Eager to start 2011 with a bang?

Thanks as always for stopping by, happy reading, and have a great day :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My 2011 Reading Resolutions

Here are my reading resolutions for 2011:

Read the following books:

Bleak House by Charles Dickens
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
A book by Hemingway
East of Eden by Steinbeck

84 Charing Cross Road

The Great Gatsby

Do the following things:

Be even more super selective in accepting review books.

Be more selective in joining challenges. (1/1/11-So far so good.  Fingers crossed)
Continue to write more concise reviews in a timely fashion.Try to be more concise in my reviews.

Be a better commenter. (Again, always room for improvement.)

Read more from my shelves of books at home.

For those of you who know me, I'm sure these look familiar, since they are the same from last year.  If at first you don't succeed, try, try, again :)


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2011 Reading Resolutions Challenge

The other day I discussed how I stunk up my own challenge.  I also said I may revisit the challenge and indeed I am.  I believe in a glass half full and always trying to do your best.  Therefore I believe in trying to meet those reading and blogging goals which I set for myself last year, but didn't accomplish.

You are free to join along with if you choose.  Just post a link to your personal reading goals page in your comment.  If you don't want to join that's cool too.  You know me, I'm easy.

So here are the details:

*As the name implies, the 2011 Reading Resolutions Challenge, is basically new year's resolutions for your reading. They can be anything you would like to accomplish in the coming year in the realm of reading, book blogging, or perhaps personal growth.

*Create your personal reading resolutions for the upcoming year in a post and link to it in the comments. If you don't have a blog, that's cool too. Post your resolutions and updates in the comments of this post
Make sure to link back to this page so others can visit your pages and blogs.

*Get started on your resolutions! Each quarter, starting around April 1st, I'll have a post to check-in and see how everyone is doing. Kind of as a reminder to you to check your own progress.

*Challenge runs from January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2010.

And again, just like last time, there is no pressure or consequences with this challenge. I view it more as a personal challenge I can grow from.


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