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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Book Review: Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

From Goodreads
When Nadia Kinsella meets Jay Tiernan, she's tempted. Of course she is. Stranded together in a remote Cotswold pub, with a snowstorm raging outside—let’s face it, who would ever know? But Nadia’s already met The One. She and Laurie have been together for years—they’re practically childhood sweethearts, and she still gets goosebumps at the sight of him. Okay, maybe she doesn’t see that much of him these days, but that’s not Laurie’s fault. She can’t betray him. Besides, when you belong to a family like the Kinsellas—bewitchingly glamorous grandmother Miriam, feckless mother Leonie, stop-at-nothing sister Clare—well, someone has to exercise a bit of self-control, don’t they? I mean, you wouldn’t want to do something that you might later regret.

First thoughts?

Mansell's books always feature several potential couples in and out of relationships, and this one is no different.  However with this book, one side of the romantic equation are members of the Kinsella family.  We are talking everyone including the youngest sister.  Each member brings a different aspect to romance, Miriam the Grandmother who brings lost love, her son, James, who is kind a sorta looking for love, but is too nice and shy to ask a woman out, and his daughters Claire and Tilly, both of whom are trying to sort romance and all it's trappings out.  Last but not least is Nadia, our "heroine".  She becomes caught between two men: Jay who is shiny and new and can offer something new but unknown, and Laurie, who was the love of Nadia's life, but broke up with her and now wants her back.  Shiny and new vs Old and Unreliable (in my opinion).

With these characters we have our story.  Mansell is one of my favorite authors, however this book fell flat for me.  The story seemed a bit too long; it meandered.  The story also dealt with other issues besides romance, which I liked and thought added a different element to the story.  However, I think it was some of the characters involved with those issues that made me not care as much.  Or rather, I thought a few characters deserved a nice slap, and that didn't happen.  Which brings me to the reason why I didn't enjoy this book as much as Mansell's other works.  There is always a character that I don't like or can't stand in almost every story.  That's cool, I get that.  It's required for other elements and you can't like everybody.  However with this one, there were several characters I couldn't stand and felt they really detracted from the story. Their story lines almost made me stop reading this one.  I loved Nadia but these other people were taking the story away from her, and it worked a nerve.


Mansell always has interesting characters, and I realize the reasons I didn't like it, may appeal to you.  You know, many different flavors of ice cream and all of that.  I am also an emotional reader, so if things in real life are bringing me down, they may influence my reading as well.  In the end, there were parts of this book that I didn't like, and skimmed in order to finish.

So recommend or not...not sure.  I didn't like it but you may.  Here are what some other readers thought:

Royal Reviews
Diary of an Eccentric
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Would I change anything?

Try and shorten the story a bit, maybe.  I don't know.  

My Rating: 80/100
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Romance, British chic-lit
Trade paperback 480 pages
Book Source: Sourcebooks

Thanks to Sourcebooks for my review copy :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank you and Happy Memorial Day

Please be sure to take a moment and remember those who fought for our country and those that continue to serve today.

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Suddenly Sunday (May 27)

Suddenly Sunday is a weekly event hosted by SveaThe Muse in the Fog Book Review. 

More like Suddenly Sunday Afternoon!  Hello my chick-a-dees!  How are ya?!  Hope this finds you well and enjoying the weekend.  I can't this month has flown by!  I finished teaching one class, and another one started up right after.  It can be a lot reading and work, but I enjoy it greatly.  Plus I always learn something either from my preparation or from my students.  Teaching is an outlet for me when compared with my day job.  Which is working a nerve right now.  Lets just say there are some major butt holes out there, and that Bitches get Stitches.  You read correctly and that's all I'm saying.

I also celebrated my birthday this month.  It was a low key affair because it was during the week and next year is a big one.  So quiet and understated was the theme this year, although my sweetie did send me flowers at work.  He is just the best.

As for reading I've been plugging along and have some reviews to write.  There was one excellent book, The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner, that I just loved, but I have to write that review without revealing anything.  That can be tough.   Gortner better be writing a sequel is all I'm saying :)  Also trying to finish up some reads in anticipation of The Standalong.  I almost started it the other day, but I held off.  I read school work instead.

There's also Armchair BEA coming up on June 3rd.  I thought I had missed it, but when I went to catch up and saw I was early, I was super excited.  I met some really interesting bloggers last year, and enjoyed all the posts and things that go along with Armchair BEA.  So it's not too late!  Visit the site and join in on the fun.

Otherwise, not much else is going on.  I do want to do a Friday Fitness post, and chat about my 2nd nutritionist visit.  Let you know how things are going, but that damn day job keeps getting in the way.  Oh also getting work done on the house.  That also puts a damper on things.  However I couldn't let another Sunday go by without stopping to say hello.  So I'll be by your way eventually this week.  In the mean time have a wonderful day, holiday and fabulous week!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review: Lost and Found by Jacqueline Sheehan

Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: fiction, loss, dogs
Paperback, 278 pages 
Book Source: from my shelves, but originally from a friend
My Rating: 85/100

From Goodreads: 
Rocky's husband Bob was just forty-two when she discovered him lying cold and lifeless on the bathroom floor . . . and Rocky's world changed forever. Quitting her job, chopping off all her hair, she leaves Massachusetts--reinventing her past and taking a job as Animal Control Warden on Peak's Island, a tiny speck off the coast of Maine and a million miles away from everything she's lost. She leaves her career as a psychologist behind, only to find friendship with a woman whose brain misfires in the most wonderful way and a young girl who is trying to disappear. Rocky, a quirky and fallible character, discovers the healing process to be agonizingly slow.
But then she meets Lloyd.
A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky's world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder. And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast. As the unraveling mystery of Lloyd's accident and missing owner leads Rocky to an archery instructor who draws her in even as she finds every reason to mistrust him, she discovers the life-altering revelation that grief can be transformed . . . and joy "does" exist in unexpected places.
 1.)Reasons you chose this book 
A friend had given this book to me quite some time ago and it's been sitting on my shelves.  I'm reviewing the follow-up to this novel, Picture This, in June, so I thought I better read this one first.  Plus the story features a dog.

2.)Reasons you liked or disliked this book 
I have mixed feelings about this book.  First the good feelings.  Rocky is a great main character who drives the whole book.  What she goes through with her husband's death is so raw, revealing, and unimaginable.  Rocky eventually comes out of her depression and finds purpose again, although it's not an easy road.  But once Lloyd came into her life, it becomes easier.  
The title of the book Lost and Found, applies to everyone in this story.  I see all of them as lost until Lloyd comes into the picture is and is able to help them find themselves, hence found.  Dogs have a sense and presence that helps us humans deal with the tough things in life.  They are unwavering friends, there to stand by us through thick and thin.  Dogs can read our behavior, and act accordingly.  Lloyd has this healing effect on everyone he meets.  Being a dog lover, I totally get that and believe in it.

Another enjoyable aspect of the story was the small island town.  The friendliness, the smell of the sea, the quiet, I want to be in that kind of place, so the setting really sucked me in as well. 

Now for the bad feelings.  While I liked Rocky and could never imagine going through the things she went through, it was the secondary characters that were a bit meh for me.  Several characters are dealing with an issue, and Lloyd the dog helps them to overcome said issue.  But these stories just felt like they wrapped up too clean or I flipped a page, and poof the problem was gone.  I guess the one that bothered me the most was the young girl Melissa.  Her issue is quite weighty, and I had difficulty that it could resolve that quickly.  On the other hand, this book is a quick and relatively light read, so to expect in-depth characterization or resolution is probably foolish on my part.  Some parts just felt too neat and clean.  
3.)Reasons for recommending 

I would recommend this book if you are in the mood for light quick reading.  It would make a great beach read, or curling up in a chair when it's raining outside.  If you are not a dog person, don't worry, you don't have to be.  It's the relationship that animals have with their people that is explored here.  
For more information about the author, please visit her website: 
 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, May 21, 2012

Take a Stand! Join the Standalong

One of my favorite and dear blogger friends is hosting a read along for The Stand by dear old Stephen King.  Now Stephen and I are friends from way back, but we had a falling out when I soon discovered you could skip big chunks of some of his novels, and not miss a beat.  Needless to say, I dropped him like a hot potato.  Recently though, I've been thinking of slightly rekindling my relationship with Stephen, especially with respect to some of his older works, namely The Stand and It.  So when Trish mentioned a read along, I was in like Flynn.  So here's the scoop:

The Stand...along Basics:

What: Readalong of The Stand by Stephen King. I'm calling it the Standalong. :)

When: June 1st through July 27th.

Where: Sign up on this post. Midway post will go up July 1st. Wrap-up post will go up July 27th.

How: However you want. Original (shorter) version, Uncut version, Audio version. Post on your blog or don't. You don't have to have a blog (but it does make it fun). Chitchat on Twitter. Think I'll be using #standalong or maybe #thestand. Input?

Why: Why not?? Ok, don't answer that. To have fun!!!

Standalong Get to Know You (if you're posting about the readalong, which I would loooourve if you did but understand if you don't, answer the questions below so we can all get to know you better and where you stand with The Stand) - from Trish but I would like to know too!

1. What makes you want to read The Stand?

It's one of those book I've always heard that one just had to read.  I have seen bits and pieces of TV movie and thought that was pretty good.  It's a doorstopper of a book, so this read along will give me the push I need to read this tome.

2. Describe your preconceived notions of The Stand.

It's about the ultimate battle of good vs evil.

3. What was the last scary(ish) book you read or movie you saw?

Book... escaping me right now, but I know there have been a few.  Movie....Saw, Hostel, family movies like that.

4. Which version of the book will you be reading from?

Complete and uncut at 1141 pages (OMG)

5. What are you previous experiences with Stephen King?

Started out well, but then he just disappointed me.  See intro paragraph above.

6. Anything else you'd like to add (bonus points for being extra random).

I hope this book is compelling reading, and that I enjoy the story.  Whether it scares me or not, I just want a good story.  Please Stephen!  Make it happen!

So what say you?  Are in and taking a Stand???  Hope to see you there.

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Review: The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction, Edwardian
Hardcover, 272 pages
My Rating: 94/100
With some apprehension, the Torrington family is about to celebrate the twentieth birthday of Emerald, the second of three children. Their housekeeper, Florence, plans an elaborate dinner for the family and a few close friends. Charlotte and her children—the romantically handsome and callow Clovis; nine-year old Imogen, known as Smudge, who plots a “Great Undertaking” for the evening; and Emerald herself—are disconsolate at the thought of losing Sterne, their beloved family home.
Originally purchased by Horace Torrington, Charlotte’s first husband and the children’s father, Sterne has become too expensive for the financially strapped family to maintain. Since Horace’s death and Charlotte’s remarriage to Edward Swift, the house remains an important link to the past, a symbol of the family’s position that is intertwined with their sense of identity.
As Edward sets off for Manchester in hopes of obtaining a loan, the rest of the family begins preparing for the dinner party. An evening unlike any other awaits them. Little can the Torringtons imagine, that more than just a few intimate friends are about to arrive at Sterne . . .
My Thoughts:
Lovers of Edwardian stories, listen up!  This one is for you.  This story contains great examples of the Edwardian behavior that we love to read about: the pretense of perfection during a crisis, being super nice towards a person when inwardly you loathe or think ill of the other person, secrets between the staff and the Lady of the house, bickering between the servants, and of course the usual behavioral trappings that come with hosting a dinner for friends.  The Uninvited Guests, though short, gives insight into each character and by the end of the story we see them change for the better, due to circumstances that occur in story of course.

Speaking of the story, the arrival of a certain unexpected guest causes quite an upheaval.  Not only can this gentleman see through to the character's very core, but he makes them behave in the most impolite ways.  Or is it just their true feelings coming out,when they are not suppressed by Edwardian ideals?  Probably a bit of both I would imagine.  It's the characters behavior that drives the story and most of the action as well.  Some of it is quite appalling, but in the end everyone, even high minded John Buchanan becomes less of an ass.  

My favorite character is poor little Imogene, better known as Smudge.  Everyone forgets about her, and her "Great Undertaking" is hilarious.  Smudge is an odd child, but an innocent one nonetheless.  I think she just needs a little bit more love.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed The Uninvited Guests.  I apologize for the somewhat cryptic review, but I don't want to give plot points away.  It's such a short story, taking place over two days, mostly in one night.  There are some funny bits, head shaking bits, and redeeming bits, all with the idea of exploring human nature. This was a super quick read, and one would that I would read again.  

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy, and for other opinions of this delightful novel, please stop by one of the other tour sites:

Sadie’s Tour Stops

Tuesday, May 1st: “That’s Swell!”
Wednesday, May 2nd: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Thursday, May 3rd: Jenny Loves to Read
Monday, May 7th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, May 8th: Paperback Princess
Thursday, May 10th: Stiletto Storytime
Monday, May 14th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, May 15th: Amused By Books
Wednesday, May 16th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, May 17th: Picky Girl
Friday, May 18th: Chaotic Compendiums
Monday, May 21st: Life In Review
Tuesday, May 22nd: Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, May 23rd: Colloquium
Monday, May 28th: My Bookshelf
Tuesday, May 29th: The House of the Seven Tails
Wednesday, May 30th: A Library of My Own

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"