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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Friday, June 29, 2012

Book Review: The Tudor Secret by C. W. Gortner

Publisher: St. Martin's
Genre: HF, mystery
Trade paperback, 324 pages 
Book Source: won in a contest at The Eclectic Reader (Teddyree )

From Goodreads:

The era of the Tudors was one of danger, intrigue, conspiracy, and, above all, spies.
Summer 1553: A time of danger and deceit. Brendan Prescott, an orphan, is reared in the household of the powerful Dudley family. Brought to court, Prescott finds himself sent on an illicit mission to the king’s brilliant but enigmatic sister, Princess Elizabeth. But Brendan is soon compelled to work as a double agent by Elizabeth’s protector, William Cecil, who promises in exchange to help him unravel the secret of his own mysterious past.
A dark plot swirls around Elizabeth’s quest to unravel the truth about the ominous disappearance of her seriously ill brother, King Edward VI. With only a bold stable boy and an audacious lady-in-waiting at his side, Brendan plunges into a ruthless gambit of half-truths, lies, and murder. Filled with the intrigue and pageantry of Tudor England, The Tudor Secret is the first book in The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles.

First thoughts? 

I haven't read many Tudor era books lately because I got a bit burnt out there for a while on all things Tudor.  Same characters, but a slightly different story, this point of view, that point of view, etc.  However, this book has made me love the Tudor era again!  The point of view of a servant at court with a mysterious past sets the tone, and the action or movement of the plot is pretty rapid.  Never a dull moment for sure, and I lost myself in the story at times.

Brendan is sent to court and quickly learns that he must keep his own counsel, choose his side, and know the consequences of that choice.  Brendan is at first loyal to the Dudleys but begins to see their true colors, and it bothers him.  This is not how he was raised.  Soon after his arrival to court, Brandon meets Princess Elizabeth and immediately he knows that she is the one he should be faithful too.  Elizabeth has this thing about her that draws people to her and remain loyal.  There is a reason why this woman was such a force and brought England into a golden age.  It was refreshing to read about a young Elizabeth.  Truth be told Gortner drew her in such a way that I was drawn to her too.

The story covers the time period surrounding the death of King Edward VI, the only son of Henry VIII.  The Dudleys are one busy little family of schemers, and there isn't a court faction they haven't tried to work to their advantage.  I've never liked Robert Dudley and this book gives me the impression my instincts were right. This time period is ripe for a good story and Gortner made an excellent choice by starting his Spymaster Chronicles series with these events.

As for the other characters and plot, I enjoyed everything about them and the book.  The pages flew by and I started to finish the book so quickly, I put it down to save it.  I didn't want the story to end.  I look forward to the next installment of this series, which the author said would be out in Spring of 2013.  I can't wait!


Absolutely!  I liked the intrigue, mystery, and informational chats between the characters.  Even though Brendan is a fictional character, he was interesting and provided a fresh perspective with which to tell Tudor era stories.  Plus he "collaborates" with Cecil the Spymaster, what's not to love?  Cecil was one hell of an asset for Elizabeth!

This book also contains Author's notes, an interview, a timeline, and Reading Group Guide.  Excellent back matter as well.

Would I change anything?

No, not at all.  Also,

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Suddenly Sunday (June 24): Slowing Down

Hello dear Readers!  How are you? I hope this finds you quite well, enjoying a fabulous book and general all around happiness.  Life is good for me also.  My students take their final this week and then it's off for the summer.  Woo-hoo!  More reading time for Jenny.

The redecorating of our living room is complete, and I love it!  Should have done this a few years ago, but such is life.  The puppy also enjoys the new carpets as well.  No accidents or marking of territory, just sleeping and lounging.

What I really want to chat about today is the state of my blogging activities.  The posts have been few and far between, responding to comments has been slow in coming, and not much new material on the blog.  I know, believe me I do, and there are several reasons for the lack of my presence.

First, we have several big projects at work that have tight deadlines.  I used to be able to take a few minutes here and there, and that is becoming quite difficult.  Also, when I do have a few minutes, I would rather read someone's blog and comment than write a post.  Then when I come home at night, the last thing I want to do is continue to stare at a computer screen.  The puppy needs a walk, dinner has to be prepared, and my brain needs to decompress.  The free time I have had lately, I have been using to knit.  The current project I just started keeps calling my name and I must oblige.  When the knitting mojo is rolling, you don't mess with it.

And to be quite honest, the thought of blogging has begun to wear me down.  I'm starting to feel quite meh about it.  I'm losing my blogging mojo.  I'm starting to feel like it's a chore and a hassle to write a post.  When I have time to be on line I would rather spend it reading your posts and comments, rather than creating posts for my blog.  Maybe it's self imposed deadlines or activities in my head that are messing with me.  I do feel like I should be "blogging something" but a bigger part of me, doesn't feel like it.  Not good people.

I am losing steam with blogging, so before it disappears completely, I am going to cut back my posting.  I have two scheduled book tours, no problem with those.  Liking one book (The Queen's Vow) and looking forward to the other (Let the Devil Sleep).  The Standalong which I started, no worries there.  Other than that, I have some drafts and things I can post.  I have some reviews to write, but they are not going anywhere either.

So what does all of this mean?  I am not disappearing completely, but only expect one post a week from me.  I am going to try and manage that at least.  I like you all.  I've made some really great friends in this community and it's the community piece that I am lacking in.  So the more I can visit blogs and comment, the better.  That will make me happy right now, and lets face it, a happy Jenny is a good thing.

So don't fret me pet.  All is well but I just need to recharge my batteries and see what's out there in this great book blogging community we have!  See you all soon.

Happy reading and have a fantastic week :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Day 4: Armchair BEA: Beyond Your Blog

So, you enjoy writing do you? Would you like to be involved elsewhere on the interwebs or possibly start writing for your local paper? Perhaps you'd simply like to start drawing an income from your blog? 

Today we'd love you to share your top tips for getting beyond your blog! Have you done any freelance writing? Are you monetizing your blog and how so? How do you make connections outside the book blog community on the internet? If none of these apply we'd love for you to share a fun aspect about your blog or life that may be completely separate from books!

On the topic of writing…I do and don’t enjoy writing.  Once I get going I usually can’t be stopped, but then I have issues with how to end it.  All throughout school I always hated that ending paragraph.  Still do even at work.  The actual writing process I’m pretty good with, although I haven’t taken a writing course since college English.  I think a refresher course would be valuable, since I feel as though I ramble in some of my reviews.  A bit disorganized jumping from thought to thought. 

Freelance writing sounds interesting, but not sure it’s something I want to do.  Maybe for lack of time and subject matter.  What in the world would I write about?  Not sure I’m super knowledgeable in one particular area, except for Medicare and coding rules, that could translate into freelance writing.  I could attempt an article for a professional magazine, but then there’s this whole process thing that goes with getting “published”, and I’m just not that interested in it.  I guess I’m a bit of an underachiever.

On monetizing my blog….I’ve flirted with that idea, but I am not a hard core blogger.  Also, I started blogging for personal reasons and there are many personal posts on my blog, so to open myself up even more….eh I don’t think so.  I know once something is up on the web it’s there for everybody, but monetizing means more people looking and that’s not who I am.  Besides, that why I work several jobs so there’s no need to include blogging in there as well.

On making connections outside the book blogging community…I’m a bit of a loner, so I don’t make too many connections.  I have my two knitting girlfriends, who are my closest friends anyway.  I attend professional meetings, where I hook up with acquaintances, and hang out with co-workers from time to time.  However, when I eventually move from Philly, there will only be a few people I will stay in contact with.  I have lots of “friends” but have always been comfortable being by myself.  Don’t get me wrong, I make friends everywhere I go, the gym, other dog owners, but deep down connections, not really.

On a fun aspect of my life or blog….oh I don’t know.  You know about the knitting and the TV watching.  I recently started teaching college level course, and that’s kind of fun.  It’s a great deal of work but I enjoy it.  I learn from my students every semester, and I’ve been lucky to have wonderful students.  Interesting people really.  All in all I’m a pretty easy going, go with the flow kind of person.  I will try almost anything, and try to see the bright side of life.  It’s too short to be sad and unhappy.

Lastly, sorry for not participating too much this week.  I will be getting around to see people and chat, it's just that real life got in the way.  Darn it!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Review: Picture This by Jacqueline Sheehan

Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: fiction
Trade paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating: 75/100

From the Tour home page:

Jacqueline Sheehan made serious waves with her much beloved runaway bestseller, Lost and Found(“The best book I’ve read in a long time” —Susan Elizabeth Phillips). Now she treats readers to a sequel, Picture This—a story of rebirth and personal redemption that is as moving, funny, and heart-soaring as its predecessor. Whip-smart contemporary women’s fiction with heart and soul, in Picture This, Rocky Pelligrino is back on Peaks Island off the coast of Maine, along with Lloyd the dog, the beautiful black Labrador retriever who gave her a new “leash” on life. But this time a new wrinkle warps the fabric of her world when a young girl shows up on Rocky’s doorstep claiming to be the long-lost daughter of her late husband.

First thoughts?

Not what I had in mind when I accepted this book for review.  I read and reviewed Lost and Found (review link) about two weeks ago.  In that book, Rocky lost her husband suddenly and she had a great deal of sorrow and loss to go through.  I felt like she conquered that and was ready to move on.  However, with Picture This, I felt that all of the growth and acceptance she had made was now thrown away because of two events.  I'm sorry but I couldn't accept that. I know people deal with grief differently and you don't know how you will grieve when your significant other passes, but a "possible" long-lost daughter shows up and that's it; you lose it and welcome her into your home because she may represent a piece of your deceased husband?   Maybe it's just my city girl instinct talking, but I wouldn't open my home and start planning my life around a shady young stranger who claims to be a long-lost daughter.  And this is the main reason why I had issues with the majority of the book.  I think I also thought more time would have passed between the two stories, but Picture This picks right up where Lost and Found leaves off.  Maybe that's why Rocky just falls to pieces?  I don't know, but unfortunately I couldn't reconnect with Rocky and this story fell flat for me.

With respect to the other characters, Melissa, Tess, Lloyd, etc., they help to move the story along, and it's their parts of the book that I did enjoy.  Rocky purchases a house on the island, and even the House has some things to say, and those parts were enjoyable as well.

As for Natalie, the long-lost daughter, I don't want to give anything away.  However, I will say as bad as I feel for her, because she had a rotten paper route through life, she is quite a sullen person.  I don't know if she could have ever been saved, but she did make some strides in the end.


All I can say is please read what other people had to say and don't base your decision solely on my review.  Sheehan is quite popular for a reason.  I think this book is a little too much "Women's Fiction" for me.  I normally steer clear of those books, and so the blame lays with me, not the book.  It just wasn't my cup of tea.  Again, chocolate or vanilla ice cream for a reason.

For more information about Jacqueline Sheehan, please visit her website and Facebook page 

For other points of view on Picture This, please visit one of the wonderful bloggers below:

Tuesday, May 22nd: Silver & Grace
Thursday, May 24th: Iwriteinbooks’ blog
Monday, May 28th: Hospitable Pursuits
Wednesday, May 30th: Chocolate & Croissants
Tuesday, June 5th: Just Joanna
Wednesday, June 6th: Jenny Loves to Read
Friday, June 8th: Kritters Ramblings
Tuesday, June 12th: Peppermint PhD
Tuesday, June 12th: BookNAround
Wednesday, June 13th: Peeking Between the Pages
Thursday, June 14th: My Bookshelf

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Armchair BEA Interview Day 2012

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

I am Jenny, and I've been book blogging since December 2008.  I started reviewing books, for two main reasons.  First, my friends were getting tired of hearing me gush about books, and second I wanted to keep my writing skills up.  The writing I do for work is business related and technical.  With the blog I can be creative and expressive.  My review style has changed over the years, and the way I think about books has changed as well.  My blogging makes me constantly refine what I both read and write about.  It's changed my thinking as well.  I believe I have become more critical or analytical.  And I certainly don't put up with books I don't like anymore.  I give a book 50-100 pages and that's it.

2. What literary location would you most like to visit? Why?

Tough choice but I would have to say England.  Most of the HF I've read takes place in England, and then there is my love of British television: Doctor Who, Torchwood, anything on BBC America really.  England has tons of castles, and the countryside is just gorgeous.  If I ever had to live abroad it would be England.  I just feel a connection with that country although I have never visited.

3. What is your favorite part about the book blogging community? Is there anything that you would like to see change in the coming years?

Book bloggers are so diverse and the community is ever expanding, yet, I find myself drawn to the same bloggers time and time again.  It's not that I don't want to discover new bloggers, it's just the new ones I find have content I am not interested in or are in love with every single book they read.  Really??  However, Armchair BEA is one event which has helped me to discover new bloggers I like.  Bloggers I connect with, and enjoy talking with.  So thanks Armchair BEA :) 

The one thing I would like to see changed in the blogging community is the flame wars and the plagiarism issue.  Yo, you know you stole the content...fess up.  Plain and simple.  Be a woman and own your mistakes.  But, weasels will be weasels, and followers will think, "What? Nothing wrong was done."  That's what happens when the the web is at it's most impersonal.  It's easy to hide behind a screen, but I digress.  Really I just want everyone to get along, enjoy reading good books, and spreading the goodness of literacy.   A well read society is one that evolves.  

4. Have your reading tastes changed since you started blogging? How?

Yes my reading tastes have definitely changed.  I'm more willing to try books that are not from my usual genre choices of fiction, mystery, and HF.  I've discovered YA, non-fiction, and some chic-lit.  I also have a renewed interest in the Classics of literature.  I read many classics when I was younger, and then stepped away from them.  Book blogs have introduced me to many fine books I would have never considered before or I may have forgotten about.

5.Where do you see your blog in five years?

I am not sure.  I know where I want to be or want to be doing in my real life 5 years from now, so I imagine my blog will probably reflect that.  My blog is an extension of me so possibly more personal, more focused on books I want to read vs. review copies.  We all know how we can become inundated with those :)  More selective reading choices, I guess.
So that's a little bit about me.  Sorry if I meandered a bit.  I tend to do that.  
Do leave a comment.  I would love to meet you as well :)  Enjoy day one of Armchair BEA!

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"