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Monday, December 31, 2012

Goodbye weren't half bad

I don't keep very good records of my reading, even though I have the best intentions every year.    So this 2012 in review post is not so much about books, or how many pages I read, but thoughts on what I consider a pretty good year for me.

When I think back on everything that occurred in 2012, and how I've grown in many different ways, I can say 2012 was a good year.  Lessons learned in 2012:

  • How to eat better and make good food choices.  Being adventurous when it comes to food is a good thing.
  • Saying no to all the review requests.  I've cut down a lot and there are a select few I accept.  I used to feel bad for that first time author, but I am not the only book blogger on the net.  There are plenty of new and reliable bloggers who will happily accept your books.  Just not me.
  • Become more selective with my TV shows.  I don't have much free time, so either stimulate me or entertain me intelligently, or you're out.
  • I do not need to be friends with everyone I meet, or be someone's therapist at work, just because we work together.  When I choose not to, it doesn't make me a bad person.
  • True friends, really true friends, the ones I will still keep in touch with when I leave the area, are few and far between.  And that's ok.
  • I am really good at my job, and I am a valuable asset to my employer.  Whether my boss fully respects and appreciates this is hard to tell at times.  It's his loss.
  • Puppies are little furry babies who need constant attention.  Oh how I had forgotten about that.
  • The news is not news.  It is weather, traffic, and what some idiot on Facebook has to say.  Seek out real news at reputable sites, and take everything with a grain of salt.
  • Students today, young or old, expect everything to be easy.  I have a day job too, you know, and I can't do your work for you.
  • I no longer feel guilty about not blogging, blogging too much, not reading as much as others, etc.  I blog because at the end of the day I Love to Read!  I have discovered great new authors, and am always learning how to refine my thoughts and write a post better.  But most importantly, I've met some pretty fabulous people in blogland whom I call friends.  I chat with them more than in-person "friends".  And that's ok.
  • Twitter is not all that bad
I know some of these seem silly, or may not be lessons to you, but for me, this past year made me clarify things about my self, and my world.  I feel like I'm really getting to know myself or who I should be.  Oh my gods I think I am maturing people!

So that brings me to 2013.  This will be a big year for me.  I turn 40 (shut the frack up! I know!!).  The blog turns 5 at the end of the year.  And the hubby and I are following the steps in our grand plans to eventually live in paradise.  Life is good, so let's enjoy it.

Bring on 2013!!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

Hope you enjoy your day doing whatever it is that makes you happy :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Suddenly Sunday...and my 500th Post!

No way! Yes way!  500 posts...who would have thought?  Certainly not me.  Seems kind of fitting since my 4th Blogiversary was December 3rd.  So much has changed in 4 years, but for the better.  My reading goals, blogging, and thinking have evolved, and definitely for the better.  Enough of that though.  I'll reminisce when the blog hits 5 years.  For now, it's woo-hoo and let's carry on!

Hopefully you are all prepared for the upcoming Christmas day extravaganza, whatever that may be. For me, it's Christmas dinner with my parents coming to my place to feast.  That's it.  We have been keeping it super simple the past few years.  I didn't even decorate this year, because life has been so hectic.  I did make Christmas cookies last weekend, but made less than usual.  We don't need those evil little suckers hanging around forever.  Even though they are freaking tasty!

On the reading front, I am thisclose to finishing Bleak House.  It got a little slow there for a while, but I pushed through.  I am also reading The Midwife's Tale by Sam Thomas and boy is it a page turner.  Takes place in 1644 and I haven't read something from that time period in a long time.  I am enjoying the historical setting of the story, and Lady Hodgson is a delightful character, ahead of her time for sure.

On the knitting front, still knitting away on various projects.  Lately, I have been working through lunch at work, and then been too tired at night to knit, so not much progress.  Close to finishing a sweater for Kona, and since the weather has turned down right frigid, baby will appreciate it.

That's about it for me.  Life is speeding by, books are being read, yarn is being knitted, and blogs are getting visited, finally!

What has been going on in your neck of the woods lately?  Any good books lately?  

Take care and enjoy your Sunday everyone :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Pin-it and Do-it Challenge: Complete!

The lovely Trish from Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, has been hosting this Pin-It and Do-It challenge for I think most of the year.  I haven't participated until now, because I did not want to get sucked into the vortex that is Pinterst.  However, I could not resist Trish and her cute little button for December's round of the challenge.

Pinterest can be a time suck, but there are many ideas to draw inspiration from as well as beautiful pictures to view.  I don't visit too often, but when I do I always find something to pin.

I chose the Timid Pinner level which is 1-3 pins.  I Pinned and Did two items.

First up is Crispy Edamame

Trader Joe's usually sells frozen shelled edamame but they didn't have any when I went.  So I bought frozen edamame, let it defrost a bit, and then shelled them.


That was a pain in the butt.

Followed the directions for roasting, and here they are:

They did not come out as crispy as I thought they would, but maybe because they were not frozen.  Edamame is very filling, so I only ate a little at a time.  Brought the remainder to work and ate them cold.  They were tasty to me.  I will definitely make this again.  My Pin.  Original Pin.

Second Pin was Spinach Parmesan cakes.

Very easy to make.  Used two bags of fresh spinach but you could easily used chopped frozen spinach and let it defrost. Followed the recipe but would omit the salt next time.  A bit too salty for me.
They are delicious and I will make these again too!  Great for adding a veggie to your lunch at work\, and calorie conscious too.  My Pin.  Original Pin

And that's my post for the Pin-It and Do-It Challenge.  I had fun and I just may do it again.  Two pins per month is doable :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Bleak House Read-along Mid-Way check in post

That is a wordy title, but that is what this post is all about.  Checking in to see where everyone is with this classic tome.  There have been conversations and musing happening on Twitter too, so feel free to pop in there as well #bleakalong.  We've also had a song written about Bleak House by Jill of Fizzy Thoughts.  The women is crafty is all I can say.  And she makes me laugh, which is always a good thing.

With respect to other readalongers, how far along are you?  I know some were doing both the audio and the written version.  Some readers were having difficulties due to the characters out the wazoo to keep track of.  Still others are continuing along doing both, because it helps them.

As for me, I am cruising right along.  I'm up to Chapter 42 - In Mr. Tulkinghorn's Chamber or page 589 of 881.  However, I'm getting a bit bleh.  I enjoy Bleak House when I read it, but there's no umph in there for me.  Bleak House is like a nice stroll along a country road, looking at the flowers and such and occasionally saying, "Oh look at that!", but then settling back down to that leisurely stroll.  That's fine, I just feel like I need a little something, something.

So what is Bleak House all about, really?  Well, there is this long drawn out court case called Jarndyce and Jarndyce in Chancery Court.  There are many invested parties, probably too many to count.  People have lived and died, and I think a generation may have passed, and still this suit is not settled.  People have been destroyed both financially and mentally by Jarndyce and Jarndyce.  Interestingly enough Mr. Jarndyce himself is a lovely and generous man, but even he doesn't know which way is up in this suit.  I don't think this case will ever be settled.

This case is the backdrop for Dickens' cast of characters, each of which demonstrates what is wrong with British society at this time.  People interested in far away causes, while their children  go hungry and dirty.  The whole court system and it's community of lawyers, clerks, and bullshit that goes along with court cases, all the while not even caring that the case will never be settled.  The law system accepts the ineptitude that is Chancery Court, and this is appalling.

The characters themselves are numerous, and every one is connected in some form or fashion with J and J, either directly or indirectly.  The most prominent of characters is Esther, and by extension Ada and Richard.  Esther has a guardian angel in Mr. Jarndyce, and was brought to London to be Ada's companion.  Ada is in the story certainly, but I'm pretty far along, and she's not that important.  Esther is.  Through Esther, we meet other characters and learn how tough life can be for women during this time, and how unscrupulous and powerful family lawyers can be.  Oh Esther!  Are you supposed to be the only bright shiny thing in this story?  The only good that comes out of everything?  Esther is so kind, always knows what to say, how to counsel others, she truly is a saint.  Yes, this is a bit snarky, but really the girl does no wrong.  The more I think back on her, the more I realize that she is the only unaffected person in the J and J suit, and that she is nearly perfect in all ways.  Ok enough of her.

Here are some random thoughts about other characters and events thus far, but no spoilers.  (btw, did Dickens have a chart or graph with all of these characters as he wrote this book?  Just saying that's a lot to keep track of, so it speaks to his literary genius I guess.)

  • At the beginning when Esther is a child, her godmother, what a piece of work.  The maid too.  I guess it would have killed her to be a bit nicer.
  • Mrs. Jellyby - a slap across the face would do nicely for her and her African causes.  When your oldest daughter needs you at one of the most important times of her life,  you cop attitude  really, you dirty fat piggy.  Can you tell I don't like her.
  • Peepy - oh sweet little boy how i would take you home, give you a good bath, and a decent future.
  • Mrs. Pardiggle - sternly reading bible verses will not make poor people less poor or give them food to eat.  Just saying.  Oh, and your kids despise you and will probably grow up to be lazy louts!
  • Jo the street sweeper - by far he is my favorite character, and who my heart goes out to the most.  He is I think 10 years old and has experienced so much bad in his young life, yet he is one of the most decent people you'll ever meet.  
  • Mr. Tulkinghorn - may you catch something in your zipper.  Damn!  don't think they had those back then.  Regardless, you give lawyers a bad name, and are a disgusting creature.
  • Mr. Smallweed - Ditto!
  • Mr. Guppy - please stop trying to be a big man in the law, you're just a clerk and a weasel and could never hope to obtain the hand of someone as wonderful as Esther 
  • Richard - speaking of weasels, you never wanted to work a day in your life so stop this charade. I hope this suit never gets settled and you end up alone, cold, and miserable.
  • Mr Jarndyce - no ill will towards you, really.  You remind me of an absent minded older relative.  Kudos for taking an interest in the wards of J and J, and for being a generally nice guy.  Although possibly a bit too nice at times.  Love the growlery and the wind is in the east!  Much better than my usual ,"I'm not in the mood, so back the frack off!"
  • Lady Dedlock - I don't know what to say.  In some respects I empathize with you and your issues.  (Saw that one coming, and it's subsequent consequences/affects.)  Yet, you still maintain this air of coolness and superiority.  That's exactly what's wrong with the class divide. And yet your issue is the complete opposite and has nothing but your best interests at heart.  Isn't it ironic, don't cha think?
  • Mr. Turveydrop - My dear sir, you and your patron the Prince Regent would be appalled at my deportment on a daily basis.  And I love it!  
  • Caddy Jellyby - adore her to death.  Didn't like her at first, but she certainly came around under the guidance of Esther.  Good work Esther.  And Caddy is handling life the best way she can.  
  • Mr. Skimpole - why anyone helps you is beyond me.  They should drop you off in the slum area of London and see how you make out.  You are a complete idiot and don't deserve the breaths of life you are given.  
  • Ada - what is your purpose in this story except to be a silly little pet of Esther's.  
  • Charley - another young lady I adore to death.  Your guardian angel was certainly looking out for you sweetie!  Glad it has worked out well.
Other thoughts that are spoilery so highlight to read:

I'm thinking Esther had either smallpox or chicken pox, since her face was scarred afterwards, and her eyesight left her for a time.  That can happen with chicken pox cases that occur in adults.  Did it even exist back then?

Oooh!  Esther is Lady Dedlock's child.  As much as I was like HA! hope this brings you down, once I read the circumstances, I felt bad for the Lady.  She thought her baby died, and then to find out and miss all that time with her, that was just sad.  And they still can't have time together.  As for Tulkinghorn's finding out, don't get me started.  He's such an asshole, because he acts like he is protecting his client, but he likes to see the Lady squirm.  I think he holds his clients in contempt, and likes to torture them when he can.  

I think this post is long enough, don't you?  Overall, I like all the little side stories and things that occur  it's just quite a long book!

So, how are you doing with Bleak House?  Like it so far?  Don't?  Want out of the readalong?  The choice is yours and I won't be mad.  We'll still be friends :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Suddenly Sunday: It's Holiday time!!

Good Morning Readers!  I hope this finds you well this Sunday after Thanksgiving here in the U.S. And thus, the madness begins, of both Christmas and the shopping season.  Not for me on the shopping bit.    I enjoy baking, decorating, and spending good times with friends and family.  But hey, whatever floats your boat.

Currently Reading: Bleak House and enjoying it.  Why did I wait so long to read Dickens?  The length is a bit much, but the characters, oh my they are a trip.  I also started reading The Grail King by Joy Nash for a change up during Dickens.  It's Nash's version of Druids and the holy grail before King Arthur.  Very easy, light reading, and helps to play off the chunkster that is Bleak House.  By the way, if you are currently reading Bleak House because of the read-along or just because, there are some conversations happening over at #bleakalong on Twitter  jump on in :)

Knitting: Almost finished a cardigan but still need to find buttons.  I will probably end up buying them online because there are no fabric shops close to me, and AC Moore sucks for buttons.  I also decided to knit my dog a sweater because the weather is turning colder, and baby is short haired, so she feels it more than I do.  I have some yarn that's perfect for her, and why not?  I knit for other people might as well knit for my dog.  Oh and here's a picture of my two best friends and I at Stitches East back in October.  I'm in the middle in case you didn't know.  I don't post a lot of photos of myself because I hate how they turn out.

What is Stitches East you ask?  A weekend filled with yarn buying fun for knitters and crocheters.  Lets just say I have enough yarn for quite some time.  It was a crazy weekend and I had tons of fun.

School:  Can't wait until this semester is over.  Professor Jenny needs a break!

Work: I keep getting suckered into projects, however when one of the big wigs keeps looking at you when he says he needs participants, you don't say no.  Smile say yes, and shit pants later.  Whatever, keeps me busy.

Nutrition and Fitness: ha-ha-ha no seriously, I'm doing alright.  Lost about 15 pounds, but want to lose like 10 more. Hard getting to the gym because of previously mentioned cold doggie, but at least I walk. If I didn't walk, lord only knows.  Holidays will be tough, but after eating pretty decent for the past few moths, I hate to eat bad food.  Sounds a bit snobby, I know, but apparently I've made changes to my eating psyche, so that's good.

And last, but certainly not least....Pin It and Do It Challenge for December: this is being hosted by the lovely Trish.  I am doing the Timid Pinner at 1-3 pins.  I'm always looking for recipes and I already found one to try so I'm on my way.  Not sure how sucked into Pinterest I'll get, because I'm already spread thin, but some of the photos are gorgeous and inspiring for sure.  So, if you are new to Pinterest like me, and curious about what it's all about, try this challenge.

I think that's enough from me for today.  That was a lot!  What have you been up to lately?  Hope everything is well in your neck of the woods and see you around the interwebs :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TLC Tour Stop and Book Review: Lucky Bunny by Jill Dawson

 From TLC Book Tours:

Daring, clever, and alluring, Queenie Dove has spent a lifetime developing the skills of an accomplished thief. Born into a criminal family in London’s East End during the Great Depression, and trained by a group of women shoplifters during the Blitz, Queenie soon graduates from petty street crime to far more lucrative heists and the seedy glamour of the city’s underworld. But giving birth to a daughter will make Queenie finally try to go straight . . . until the opportunity to take part in one last, audacious robbery tempts her back to the life of danger and excitement she once lived to the fullest.
Told in Queenie’s captivating and singular voice, Lucky Bunny is a richly colorful tale of trickery, adventure, and heart.

What worked for me:
  • The overall story of a child from the wrong side of the tracks, growing up during some of the most turbulent and changing times in history.
  • Glimpses of life in London during the blitz, and the underside or street life way of living.  People will do anything to survive and even during the most terrible times some things never change. 
  • How children were sent out to the country during the Blitz.  I can't even imagine.  Both parents and children were scared half to death.
  • Nature vs. nurture affecting how children grew up.  Queenie and her brother dealt with their issues differently yet, in some ways were similar.  Crime was a way to get by, and I can understand that.
  • Queenie’s various escapades   How people stole things, getting the key money, basically saying you will sleep with a guy but you need money for a room first, then taking off with the money, and of course, the grand finale.
  • Where bad teenagers go.  Any type of home or jail is scary even to adults.
  • Getting to see Queenie get to a good point in her life, when at times I didn't think that was going to happen. 
  • This story and it’s characters were easy to visualize and there were some moments when I felt Queenie’s quick breaths or how scared or nervous she was. 

What didn't work for me:

I hate to say it, but Queenie herself.  I never clicked with her, and it’s hard to put my finger on.  It started off well, but as she was growing up and life happened to her, I just couldn't connect with her.  I don’t think it’s that I disliked her.  I wasn't that truly invested in her, if that makes any sense.  Yes, I wanted things to turn out better for her, but I didn't anxiously await that to happen.  At times I felt that for as smart as Queenie could be, she never stood up for herself or was strong.  But I think that was because she had no role models growing up or stable parents to support her.
However, now that I think about it, maybe she was strong but I didn't realize it.  She wasn't one of those people who blame their parents for making them the way they were.  You know the type, “I was poor so it’s not my fault.”  Queenie takes what life has dealt her and does her best.  I know people that have grown up in similar circumstances and turned out the best they can be, so Queenie really was a Lucky Bunny in the end.

Final Thought:
Overall this was just okay for me, but you may have a different opinion.  Please visit the other tour stops below and see what they thought.

For more information about The author, Jill Dawson, please visit her website:

My Rating: 82/100

PublisherHarper Perennial (October 30, 2012)
Genre: Fiction
Trade paperback, 384 pages 
Book Source: TLC Book Tours

Jill’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, October 30th: Peppermint PhD
Thursday, November 1st: Unabridged Chick
Monday, November 5th: A Reader of Fictions
Thursday, November 8th: A Library of My Own
Thursday, November 8th: Walking With Nora
Friday, November 9th: Tina’s Book Reviews
Monday, November 12th: The House of the Seven Tails
Tuesday, November 13th: West Metro Mommy
Wednesday, November 14th: Reflections of a Bookaholic
Thursday, November 15th: Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, November 16th: Creating Comfort

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy!

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, November 12, 2012

TLC Tour Stop and Book Review: Blood Line by Lynda L a Plante

From the author's website:

Under the watchful eye of DCS James Langton, DCI Anna Travis takes charge of an investigation for the first time. But is it purely a missing person’s case – or a full blown murder enquiry? An ominous pool of blood and no victim lead Anna on a desperate
hunt for a man who has disappeared without trace.

As Anna becomes obsessed with seemingly irrelevant details, Langton fears that she
is losing control. They still have no body and Anna is under increasing pressure to
make an arrest…

My Review:

DCI Travis is back to work shortly after the murder of her fiance.  She does this because grief has a strangle hold on her, and work can help her forget about that big hole in her life for just a little while.  Travis also needs to return to work to show her superiors that she was worthy of the new position they gave her.  It's not easy being a female DCI.  Travis is asked to investigate a presumed missing persons case, and she does so begrudgingly.  This case is eight weeks old, mind you, and she is not pleased.

The more Travis tries to turn this missing persons case into a dud, the more things don't add up, leading her to believe the victim is not missing of his own accord.  Someone wanted him missing, possibly murdered.  There are so many questions, and the case becomes multi-faceted with quite a few dead ends.  Just when Travis thinks she has her suspect, something comes along to derail her case.  As infuriating as this case may be, it winds up being the best therapy Travis' emotional wounds.

So here is what I liked and worked well:

  • How the murder inquiry played out and finished.  I didn't think this case would ever get solved!
  • Anna Travis - liked her immensely and could relate to how she threw herself into her work
  • All of the other characters were well drawn and easy to picture
  • My love of British based stories; hello BBC America, this would make a great special or something
  • This book is part of a series but was totally stand alone.  No worries.
So here is what I didn't like:
  • I felt the story took too long, like we meandered for a bit there.  I don't think
    I would have minded so much, if there wasn't quite so many repetitive parts.
  • The repetitive parts.  Every time a suspect was brought in for questioning or someone had to be brought up to speed, it felt like every fact was repeated.  I understand that has to happens to a certain extent, but towards the end of the book, I knew all the facts by heart because I read them so many times.  I knew what the characters were going to say in the interrogation room.  
Overall, I liked DCI Travis and would definitely read another story with her as the lead.  As a matter of fact, a check of  La Plante's back-list shows a few older books with DCI Travis.  Also, La Plante's the author of Prime Suspect, and inspiration for the popular British version, and not so popular U.S. version.  (Not surprised, our TV rating system sucks, and hello, pseudo-reality TV).
Anyway, point being I liked Blood Line enough that I would check out her other works.

For more information about Lynda La Plante, here is a link to her website:

And this book is out on a new imprint called Bourbon Street Books.  Visit their Facebook page here.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

My Rating: 90/100

Publisher: Bourbon Street Books (Harper Collins)
Genre: Murder mystery, detective novel
Large paperback, 465 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours

tlc tour host.png

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And so it begins....The Bleak House read-a-long aka The Bleak-a-long

So today kicks off our reading of Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  For details about this read-a-long, please visit the announcement page.  You can join up at any time, or if you have read previously read this classic, and would like to add your comments please do.  The more the merrier. 

Now I admit, I started early, because as hostess I felt that I should.  Plus, I couldn't wait, to be quite honest. I  had a break in my schedule and I pounced.  I am over 100 pages in and enjoying it quite a bit.  More than I thought I would to be honest.  I like the characters, and damn you Charles, you make me smirk as I read your story.

The only insight I can provide you as you begin your Bleak-along, is to keep track of the characters you encounter.  Either make a list or print this list from Cliff Notes as a guide.  I also sensed some recurring themes, so I read up on Mr. Dickens here at PBS.  Quite interesting and confirmed my suspicions of Dickens being concerned about social injustices, which I think are important in Bleak House.

Lastly, the Chancery Court which figures prominently in the beginning and probably throughout the whole book.  Don't try and figure it out, because you can't.  The Chancery Court is a joke, and I believe that is the point.  I only mention this because it was driving me crazy, like what is it's purpose, and then I realized that is exactly what Dickens wanted me to think and feel.  Sorry if you think this is a spoiler, but I felt it had to be said.

That's all for now.  I may post some observations in two weeks, around the 16th or so, only because I have accumulated quite a few to date.  However, I don't want you to feel as though you have to as well.  I didn't want to burden participants with having to write all these posts to participate.  I just want you to read and enjoy.  If you want to do your own post, great.  Put a link in the comments.  If not, no worries, join in on mine.  All my posts will be labeled as Bleak House, so you can zero in on those.

Until then, happy reading and have yourself a cup of tea :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, October 29, 2012

Book Review: The Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony

My Rating: 97/100
Book Source: Sourcebooks

From Sourcebooks:
The Ruins of Lace reveals the extreme desire for forbidden lace that pulled soldier and courtier alike into its web.  It’s told by sharing the points of view of seven different characters. Some are strangers and will never meet, but they will all ultimately affect the outcome of each other’s lives. 

My Thoughts:

Who knew lace was such a dangerous commodity?  I always knew only the very rich possessed it, and I had always heard of Flemish lace being quite sought after, back in the day.  However, I never knew about the destruction that lace left in its wake.  A terrible legacy to be sure.

The Ruins of Lace is interesting in the way that it's story is told.  Each chapter is a different view point of someone who is immediately affected by the lace trade.  You know those movies that have several plot lines that seem separate and distinct, but at the end they are all related to one another?  That's what The Ruins of Lace is, and I enjoyed it immensely.  The following view points are considered in the story (courtesy of Sourcebooks):

Lisette Lefort: When Lisette was seven years old, she ruined a priceless lace cuff that was owned by The Count of Montreau. It was a mistake that would haunt her family for many years.

The Count of Montreau: Drowning in gambling debt, struggling with his desires towards men and the disappointment of his father, the Count will go to any lengths to make sure he gains his inheritance.

Alexandre Lefort: His love for Lisette will drive him to travel across borders to find the coveted piece of lace that will ultimately free the love of his life.

Katharina Martens: Katharina has lived in a convent for twenty-five years, where she was trained to make beautiful and highly coveted lace, and is considered the best.  Now her eyesight has begun to fail, and it’s only a matter of how long she can hide it.

Heilwich Martens: As Katharina’s older sister, she has been trying to pay for her sister’s release for years but keeps coming up short. How far will she go to earn the money she needs to save her sister?

Denis Boulanger: Denis has been struggling as a border patrol officer and can’t seem to find any of the forbidden lace being smuggled into France. He has searched loaves of bread, coffins, and dogs… Will an accidental meeting with a stranger be the biggest break of his career? 

le chien: Used to smuggle lace into France, dogs paid the biggest price. Le chien’s best friend was killed, and he’s caught between two masters—one loving and one terribly abusive. He longs for freedom from the “bad master,” but first must succeed in his most important mission yet.

Anthony's writing drew me into the story immediately   Each character had their own voice, and because of Anthony's exceptional writing, I empathized with each character for different reasons, even the unsavory Count of Montreau.  I didn't like him but understood where he was coming from.  I am not even sure which character I felt the most sorry for .  I can tell you the fictional dog, le chien,  killed me.  I wanted to cry whenever his turn came up.  I even skipped ahead to see what happened.  Don't worry, no spoilers.

The Ruins of Lace was a wonderful book, and for me it was a page turner.  Almost made me miss my subway stop a few times too.  I love books that find nuggets of history that haven't really been explored as of yet, and Anthony has certainly done that with this story.

Iris Anthony's website:

The Ruins of Lace home page from Sourcebooks:

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Paperback, 336 pages

Thank you Sourcebooks for my review copy.

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Review: The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Reissue by Sourcebooks
Genre: Fiction, mystery/suspense/supernatural
Paperback, 432 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks
My Rating: 93/100

From Sourcebooks:

Verity Grey decides she needs some excitement in her life and leaves her stable job at the British Museum to join her former fling on an archaeological dig in Scotland. When Verity arrives, she finds out the dig is being led by Peter Quinnell, a widely discredited man who has dedicated his life to finding the final resting place of the mysterious lost Roman legion. To add to the madness, he’s chosen this new dig site based solely on the fact that a local boy named Robbie believes he saw a ghostly Roman soldier on the grounds. Verity is ready to pack her bags, but stays when she meets David Fortune, a friendly and attractive, but emotionally distant,Scottish archaeologist.

But mysterious things keep happening at the site…Could the boy be telling the truth? As she becomes entangled in a subtle web of treachery and danger, Verity begins to believe in the Roman sentinel haunting the site, and he’s there to do more than guard the bodies of his fallen comrades. He is trying to protect the people of the present day, and deliver them a warning…

First thoughts? 

An archaeological dig, a bit of mystery and a handsome Scotsman...What else could you ask for in a book?  This book has a little bit of everything which makes for a good read.  We have the mystery of how the dig came about and whether anything will be found; a supernatural element, which I thought was a nice touch to the story, and a wee bit of romance for the lassies out there.

All of the characters are interesting and likable  even the ones that made me a bit disappointed by their behavior.  It was explained int he end.  Our heroine Verity Grey, is very likable   She is just your average smart woman who is good people.  You could not help but like Verity.  She was not whiny  or silly; she acted like a normal person, which apparently I haven't come across too often lately. On the dig she meets David Fortune, the Scotsman.  Quiet, unassuming, gentle, the perfect gentleman a lass could fall in love with.  Family man too.

I could talk about all the characters, because I have something good to say about each and every one.  Kearsley described them all so perfectly so they were easy to picture while I was reading.  This book drew me from he start and I enjoyed it immensely.  Last thing, the supernatural element.  To me it was  totally believable, and not corny or ill placed at all.  The setting is Scotland, where there is already a belief in the supernatural.  The way this piece comes about in the story was well done.  Not what you typically see in today's more popular supernatural books.


Absolutely! this was a fun enjoyable read, that sucked me on the first few pages.  Easy to lose yourself in, and nicely paced. Several of Kearsley's books have been published lately, and I will be sure to read them soon.

Would I change anything?

Nope!  Not one thing.  But I would enjoy reading about Verity and David again.

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy.

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Announcing the Bleak House Read-a-Long

Another read-a-long?  Really?  Yes, really, but only if you want to.  This classic has been on my must read  list for some time.  Bought the book over two years ago, and I think it's high time I read it.  Plus I got all fancy, and took the picture above for this read-a-long.
So here are the particulars if you're thinking of joining in:

Who: This idea was cooked up between me and Trish.  We both want to read it and would like some company.

What: Bleak House by Charles Dickens.  According to the back cover of my edition, this novel is considered to be one of  Dickens'greatest works.

When: November 1st to December 31st, 2012.  My copy is 881 pages, so I think 400 pages per month is reasonable.

Where: Right here at this blog beginning with an intro post on November 1st, a mid-way post on December 1st, and a wrap up post on or around December 31st.  It may not be the exact date, but close enough since, it's New Year's Eve and all.

Why: This classic has been on my list for some time, and I bought the book over two years ago.  Several years ago, Masterpiece Theater did a mini-series of this book, and I can't possibly watch it until I read the book.  Plus I've never read Dickens.  A Christmas Carol doesn't count in my book.

How: Write up a quick post saying you're joining in and leave a link in the comments so we can visit each other.  You can read the old school paper back like me, listen to the audio, or go techie and read digital.  Whatever works for you.

So what say you?  Are you in for a right 'ole classic guv'nor?

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Suddenly Sunday - finally feels like Fall edition

Hello!  How the heck are you?  I am fine and no I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.  Sorry, but activities in real life take precedence over the blog, especially when it's your job.  Got to pay those bills.  It's  struggle to juggle everything including crazy coworkers, but that's a topic for another day.  Anyways, here's me catching up:

It along: Ah no, this book was so not for me.  I got to page 300 and threw the book in the trash.  Literally.  This book reminded me why I stopped reading King.  Too long and drawn out, and sorry not frightened in the least.  There's one more King book I'll try but not until at least next year.  Maybe it was the back-to-back of The Stand and IT, not sure, but certainly didn't help.

Demise of Feedburner: Wth?  I really have been busy.  Not sure what to do about this, but I guess make sure everyone can resubscribe some way?  I assume Blogger has a gadget for that?

TV: Bit too busy for new TV shows, so going with the old standards of Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, Fringe (last season sniff-sniff), Once Upon a Time.  Tried Revolution, and couldn't do it.  In the middle of episode 2, I realized I liked no one, and wanted them to all die.  That's when you know the show is not working for you.  I will say Giancarlo Esposito...I love you baby, but even you can't save this show.

What I'm reading now: Ruins of Lace by Iris Anthony, and enjoying it quite a bit.  I've read quite a few good books lately, and yes reviews are coming, even if they are short and sweet.

Future reading: I have two big classic chunksters I want to read: Bleak House and The Three Musketeers.  I was going to start Bleak House in November, and do a read-along, but I think this may be too sad for holiday time???  Whereas sword fighting and camaraderie is good anytime of the year, especially the holidays.  Plus, I know Trish has both of these on her list of classics to read.  So, let me know in the comments your choice is.  Whatever has the most votes will be read starting  November 1st.  since both are quite big and it's the holidays, the read-along will go until January 31st.  Check-in posts maybe every two weeks, or is that too much?

Well I think that's all for now, at least all that's important.  No one wants to hear about work.  Soon, I'll update you on the knitting front.  Speaking of, for any of you knitters out there, I'm going to Stitches East next weekend with my knitting posse, so if you're going to be there, drop me a line.

What's new with you this Sunday?  Hope all is well for you and thanks for hanging in there with me and my sporadic blogging and commenting.  You are da best!  Have a wonderful week and happy reading :)

(Trish, thanks for poking me.  Sorry I didn't make that Wednesday deadline.)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Tour Stop and Book Review: Written in the Ashes by K.Hollan Van Zandt

Publisher: Balboa Press
Genre: HF
Trade Paperback, 416 pages
Book Source:
My Rating: 90/100

From the Tour Home Page:

Who burned the Great Library of Alexandria?
When the Roman Empire collapses in the 5th century, the city of Alexandria, Egypt is plagued with unrest. Paganism is declared punishable by death and the populace splinters in religious upheaval.
Hannah, a beautiful Jewish shepherd girl is abducted from her home in the mountains of Sinai and sold as a slave in Alexandria to Alizar, an alchemist and successful vintner. Her rapturous singing voice destines her to become the most celebrated bard in the Great Library.
Meanwhile, the city’s bishop, Cyril, rises in power as his priests roam the streets persecuting the pagans. But while most citizens submit, a small resistance fights for justice.
Hypatia, the library’s charismatic headmistress, summons her allies to protect the world’s knowledge from the escalating violence. Risking his life, his family, and his hard-earned fortune, Alizar leads the conspiracy by secretly copying the library’s treasured manuscripts and smuggling them to safety.
When Hannah becomes the bishop’s target, she is sequestered across the harbor in the Temple of Isis. But an ancient ceremonial rite between a monk and priestess inside the Pharos lighthouse ignites a forbidden passion.
Torn between the men she loves, Hannah must undertake a quest to the lost oracles of Delfi and Amun-Ra to find the one thing powerful enough to protect the pagans: The Emerald Tablet.
Meanwhile, the Christians siege the city, exile the Jews, and fight the dwindling pagan resistance as the Great Library crumbles.
But not everything is lost. . .

My Thoughts:

Written in the Ashes is about how attitudes towards paganism changed, as a result of a rising tide of Christianity,  in the Great city of Alexandria, thus possibly dooming the Great Library and it’s head librarian Hypatia.  Early Christianity was not a tolerant religion and certainly couldn’t abide by intelligent outspoken women.  Therefore, Hypatia was an easy target for radical Christian leaders in Egypt.  Hypatia was a philosopher, and strove to expand mankind’s knowledge by making copies of every strip of text that found it’s way to Alexanderia, and keeping them safely in the Great Library.  Unfortunately, the Great Librbay was ultimately destroyed and with it the hopes for survivial of all the pagan religigons that were in Alexandria at that time.  All of this is of course supposition on the part of the author, however to me it made perfect sense and a great vehicle for what this book was truly about; to me anyway.

Before the Great Fire, we learn about several major pagan religions through the eyes of Hannah, our storyteller.  Hannah, a Jewess, enters into Alexandria as a slave stolen from her father.  However fate or a great force has different plans for her.  Hannah is fortuitously bought by a man named Tarek, and is ultimately owned by a wonderful and intelligent man named Alizar.  Alizar by far, is my favorite character from this book.  Alizar is many things, a vinter, a philosopher, a protector of knowledge, and most of all very respectful of everyone he meets, evens his slave Hannah.  

Hannah has a very good life and through her eyes we learn about several pagan religions: the rites of the Priestesses of the Temple of Isis, the beliefs of the Brotherhood of the Nuapar, a gentler sect of the Christian religion, and finally the followers of Amun-Ra.  Although terrible events happen in this story, the basic story to me was how, regardless of your individual beliefs we are the same men and women who basically believe the same thing, just in a different way.  We should all just learn to get along, for goodness sake, and be respectful of one another.  I think this quote says it best:

"You see, the one God, the Great I am of Moses, is a radiant mystery, like a light through colored glass, like a light that is too bright to look upon.  And so we interpret that light through colored glass, a bit like the dome in the Great Library.  Each color is a name we give it: Yahweh, Ahura Mazda, Krishna, Isis, Poseidon, Demeter, Elohim.  It is though we can only describe that much greatness by naming it in part.  By definition, I think God, or Goddess, must be beyond our intellectual comprehension, the way geometry is beyond what a fish can ever know."  (page 285)

So religion aside, the journey to get this message was a pleasant one.  Hollan Van Zandt’s descriptions of ancient Egypt and Alexandria were fabulous.  I tasted the sand in my teeth and was scared to death when the Parabolani were in the area.  I did lose myself in the story as I read, and I love it when books do that.  I liked all of the characters, even the ones that were mean (looking at you Cyril).  There were two issues I had with this story.  One, I never got a good grip on Hannah’s age, and although it seems silly, it sometimes affected the way I interpreted her actions, and her character in general.  I did like Hannah, however at times she worked a nerve.  My favorite female character would have to be Hypatia, and I will be researching her in the future.    

Two, the character of Tarek and something he does at the end.  I don’t want to give it away, but I thought it was rather obvious and couldn’t believe the other characters in the story couldn’t figure it out.  For as smart as they were, and in consideration of how Tarek acted throughout the story, I just felt this action was a given.  Otherwise I enjoyed the story immensely, and would recommend it.  Especially for those of you who love Ancient Egypt.

For more information about the author and her work, please visit her website:

Thanks to Teddy Rose of Premiere Virtual Author Book Tours for my review copy and including me on the tour.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, September 10, 2012

BBAW 2012: Bloggers I Appreciate

Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) was created by Amy of My Friend Amy. This is the fifth year of the event and it's all about showing your love of all things people and book blogging.   

Today's post prompt for BBAW 2012 is to list the bloggers or blogs you appreciate. I would rather not call specific people out, but instead list what I appreciate.
So here goes:
  • First and foremost I appreciate my dear readers and commenters.  You provide more love and support then I think you realize.  You're there to cheer me up, provide a shoulder to cry on, and remind me what this blogging world is all about.  So thank you.
  • I appreciate those bloggers that call attention to issues in the community, such as plagiarism, bully commenters, copyright issues, all the craziness that happens with book covers in the U.S.  These are issues I never considered before or never heard of, so thank you for bringing attention to these issues.
  • I appreciate bloggers who write honest reviews, regardless of the source of the book.  I want your opinion, not how you think you should feel.
  • I appreciate bloggers who force me to try a book I never would think to read before, or try cooking a meal that's brand new to me.  Strongly suggesting I broaden my horizons.
  • I appreciate bloggers who make me reconsider how I feel on a subject; making me analyze why I think the way I do and why.  You help me to grow.
  • I appreciate all of the individuality of the book blogging community.  There are blogs out there for every person under the sun.  The choice is yours on who to read.
  • I appreciate the friends I've made through blogging.  I know everyone says that, but it's true.  There have been times when I've thought about giving up blogging, but then I think about the friends I've made.  I would miss them.  How can I give this up?
  • Overall, I appreciate the sense of community I have discovered through book blogging.  Each one of us contributes a little piece to this community, and don't you forget it!
You may think this post is a cop out since I didn't post specific blog names.  But you know what, that's what I appreciate about this book blogging community the most: being able to do what I damn well please on my own blog and having people respect it.

What do you appreciate in this community?

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Suddenly Sunday....Suddenly Fall Edition

Hello dear readers!  How are you? Hope the weather has cooled down and dried out wherever you may be.  Here in Philly, there is a bit of crispness in the air and I love it.  Now if my allergies would just calm down all would be right in my world.

September brings many things to me this year. Teaching classes this semester, which requires preparation, but I enjoy it.  And my students seem like good eggs, so that's always a plus.  This month at work is always crazy due to annual education there, that needs to be created and presented.  I always poop my pants thinking I won't be ready, but I pull it out every year, and it's always well received.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week is this coming week (9/10 to 9/15) and although there are no awards (which I'm glad because it was driving the organizers crazy) there are daily topics to post about.  Think of BBAW as a time to reflect on why you really blog, what you like, and why you continue to do it.  That's my plan anyway.  That and try to get some reviews done.  Been trying for three weeks and have not been successful.  However, on Thursday the 13th, I am a tour stop on the Written in the Ashes book tour, so will definitely be finished in time :)  So if you have a minute, do stop back on Thursday and see what's up with this ancient Egyptian novel.

On the TV watching front, summer TV on the whole has been disappointing.  Warehouse 13 has turned everyone into idiots.  Alphas has some promise but I'm not as sold on this season as I was last year.  There were two highlights of the season though.  Boss with Kelsey Grammer on Starz.  He is one mean SOB.  The mayor of Chicago and the crazy world that is Chicago city hall politics.  Everyone on that show is amazing and I look forward to it every week.  The other highlight was Longmire on A&E. This is about a sheriff in Wyoming dealing with murders, personal loss, and relations with the reservation.  This show is as much about the man as it is about solving crimes.  Supporting cast is great (Lou Diamond Phillips, Katee Sackoff) scenery is gorgeous, and writing is smart and witty.  I highly recommend jumping on this bandwagon, and at only 13 episodes, it's easy to catch up.

Labor Day weekend saw me finally finish Battlestar Galactica (the new version), and I am sad it has ended.  I know you're thinking Sci-Fi, really, but this show which came out after 9/11 explores what it means to be human, and what is faith or god, really?  Black is white and white is black, and the characters are all lovable and interesting.  I remember people were disappointed with the show finale, because not all questions were answered, but in this post LOST era, I am much more forgiving if the show wraps up most big elements.  (This doesn't mean I have forgiven LOST, because I haven't.)   I think watching all of the episodes back to back, instead of at the time, week to week, influenced my perception as well.  I didn't have time to dwell on minutiae. That being said, BSG is one of my all time favorite shows, and I will always rewatch it, given the chance.

I think that is enough scoop for now.  So go enjoy the beautiful weather, with or without a good book, and have a fantastic day!  See you all later :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

I am at Scene of the Blog Today!!

Throw your hands up!  You read correctly.  Cathy from Kittling: Books has featured me today on her weekly Wednesday Scene of the Blog.

And yes, my full is Jennifer.

Here is the direct link to the post so you can stop by.

So please pop on by and visit.  We would love to have you.  You may also discover a new blog to read, by checking out the index of past featured bloggers .  Lord knows I've visited quite a few.

So hope to see you at the Scene, and thanks so much to Cathy for asking me to be featured and for writing such a wonderful post.  I am truly honored.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Ain't Scared of No Clowns! Bring IT on!

It's an IT Read-along hosted by Softdrink aka Jill from Fizzy Thoughts and Princess Clown Nose from Reading Thru The Night.  I'm thinking that's not her real name, even though I am not famailiar with her.
Here is the sign up page and the particulars:
What: We’re reading Stephen King’s IT. You can read it, or listen to it, or heck, even watch the film version. Whatever floats your boat. But please think about joining us…our goal is to make this fun! (Because rumor has it, it’s one scary-ass book.)
When: Now through October 14th. Like Trish’s Standalong (why mess with a good thing), we’ll be doing a mid-way check-in, as well as a final post.
(Basically, this whole adventure is because of The Standalong. We heart Trish so much, we decided to torture her and make her keep reading Stephen King. (Also, getting ahead of myself, but I want to mention this since I’ll most likely forget…I really think we should consider The Shining next. Only because I so want to use the hashtag #shineon.)
Suggested reading/posting schedule (don’t worry, we won’t kick you out of the clown car if you don’t stick to it):
  • Sunday, September 16th: read through Part 3, but not the Third Interlude,  and post your thoughts. In my copy, this is page 608 of 1098, making it slightly more than halfway.
  • Sunday, October 14th: finish, and post your final thoughts.
Where: Both here and on Princess Clown Nose’s blog, Reading Thru The Night. I will post here with Mr. Linkies on 9/16 and 10/14 so you can link up to your mid-way and final posts. If you’re on twitter, we’re using #italong for any IT-related tweets. And just like the past few weeks, we will continue with the occasionalclownish interlude (including encouraging you all to post your clown nose pics after the noses arrive!)
Why: Because clowns are fun! And there’s safety in numbers! And because you know you want a clown nose (but supplies are limited, so make sure you hurry on over to the Princess’s blog and email her). Also, because King’s is pretty entertaining, even if his books are ridiculously long.
And Why Am I Doing This: I have a few reasons:
  1. I am such a joiner!  Who doesn't know that.
  2. This is the other King book that I never read, that everyone says you must read.  I just remembered another one that I have to read (Salem's Lot) but I'll save that for 2013.
  3. Trish talked me into it, although I didn't need much pushing
  4. I would like to see just how scary this book is.  Granted clowns are creepy by themselves, so they don't need much to push them over the edge into evil territory.  But I want to see if I get freaked out and have trouble sleeping.  Or going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
So, are you in?  Come along and join us.  I'll even let you hold my hand, cause I ain't scared of no clowns!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, August 17, 2012

Book Review: The Anatomy of Death by Felicity Young

My Rating: 95/100

From GoodReads: 

A woman. A doctor. A beastly science.

At the turn of the twentieth century, London's political climate is in turmoil, as women fight for the right to vote. Dody McCleland has her own battles to fight. As England's first female autopsy surgeon, she must prove herself as she also proves that murder treats everyone equally...

After a heated women's rights rally turns violent, an innocent suffragette is found murdered. When she examines the body, Dody is shocked to realise that the victim was a friend of her sister - fuelling her determination to uncover the cause of the protester's suspicious death.

For Dody, gathering clues from a body is often easier than handling the living - especially Chief Detective Inspector Matthew Pike. Pike is looking to get to the bottom of this case but has a hard time trusting anyone - including Dody. Determined to earn Pike's trust and to find the killer, Dody will have to sort through real and imagined secrets. But if she's not careful, she may end up on her own examination table.

First thoughts? 

There are two story lines entwined in this story: the murder mystery and the women's suffrage movement in England before WWI.  Dody McCleland recently finished medical school and the only position available to her is as a part-time Medical Examiner, utilizing the burgeoning forensic science methods that are starting to become popular.  Women were not granted staff priviledges at hospitals other than the women's hospital, so for Dody this is a grand opportunity.  Dody's sister Florence is prominent in the suffrage movement, so although Dody is some what sympathetic she doesn't condone some of the tactics used by both the women's groups and the government.

While trying to solve the murder of a prominent suffragette, the reader is granted access to the inner workings of the movement, along with it's scary moments.  In case you were not aware, women who imprisoned for marching would often go on hunger strikes.  So as not to lose face, the prison would institute force feeding, a scene of this nature is described in the book.  My goodness!  I don't even know what to say, except these were very brave souls.

While reading this story, at times I felt as those this book was more about the movement than it was about the mystery.  Also, there was not much medical examining going on either.  A lot of time was spent setting up this series, because we learn about Dody, her sister and their background, as well as Inspector Pike.  He is someone I want to learn more about.  All of the characters were interesting and I felt like I good a good baseline to work with.

Again this story didn't have much mystery or medical stuff, but I still enjoyed it.  I guess that speaks to the author's ability for creating a good story even if some of the elements are lacking.  I felt the London fog, and stench of the tenements.  I felt scared while the women walked the streets at night.  Maybe if the story was longer, the author would have added some more medical elements.


Yes, because it was an interesting, easy breezy read, and brought the suffrage movement back to mind.  Those women deserve to be remembered.  The story was quick and the pages flew by.  Just know the mystery is not much.  Hopefully this will be rectified in the next book, now that Dody has her Inspector to work with.  All Ladies need an Inspector, and vice versa!

Would I change anything? 

Yes, add more mystery and medical examining please!

This book was recommended by several bloggers, but I am sorry to say I can't find my notes on who exactly.  So thank you to those recommended this to me :)

Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Mystery, Historical fiction
Paperback, 320 pages
Book Source: borrowed from the library

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"