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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Suddenly Sunday: Not much going on here

Hi ya!  How are you this fine Sunday?  Hope you are all well and warm.  It's been Arctic here in Philly, and enough is enough I say.

Not much going on with me lately.  Busy with work, reading some good books, and doing a lot of knitting.  I should be doing work on the weekends, but I'm so tired form being busy during the week, I just sit and knit and veg out.  Watching lots of crappy TV too.  More like background noise really.
Although, I have been keeping up with Downton Abbey season 3 (episodes available online at Masterpiece Theater).  I've been enjoying it, but the last episode started to wear on me a bit.  When will Bates get justice?  When will the Crawleys come round to economizing?  Has Edith finally found herself?  Oh Ethel!  My heart does break for you.  I do lose sense of time when I watch this show.

The other thing I have to share is knitting.  The first thing is my sweater for Kona, who celebrates her one year anniversary with us this week.  Yea Kona!


Isn't she such a great model?  She would wear this all day long if she could, especially with this cold weather.
And for me I made a beret from left over yarn from a previous project:


This was done for the Use It or Lose It (UILI) challenge on Ravelry (Ravelry link) from the Stash and Burn podcast.  Basically, any yarn that you have been holding onto in your stash, for whatever reason, it's time to use it or lose it.  No hard and fast rules, but like Mt. TBR and finally reading those books, UILI is all about finally knitting that yarn you've been hanging onto for a while.  So you can be sure there will be more of these projects coming your way.

That's all I have for this week.  don't forget you still have time left to enter my January 2013 Culling of the Book Shelves contest, if you are so inclined.  Until next time, happy reading and hope your week is fantastic!  :)

© Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, January 25, 2013

HFVBT Tour Stop & Review: The Midwife's Tale by Sam Taylor

From the tour homepage:

In the tradition of Arianna Franklin and C. J. Sansom comes Samuel Thomas’s remarkable debut, The Midwife’s Tale.

It is 1644, and Parliament’s armies have risen against the King and laid siege to the city of York. Even as the city suffers at the rebels’ hands, midwife Bridget Hodgson becomes embroiled in a different sort of rebellion. One of Bridget’s friends, Esther Cooper, has been convicted of murdering her husband and sentenced to be burnt alive. Convinced that her friend is innocent, Bridget sets out to find the real killer.

Bridget joins forces with Martha Hawkins, a servant who’s far more skilled with a knife than any respectable woman ought to be. To save Esther from the stake, they must dodge rebel artillery, confront a murderous figure from Martha’s past, and capture a brutal killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks. The investigation takes Bridget and Martha from the homes of the city’s most powerful families to the alleyways of its poorest neighborhoods. As they delve into the life of Esther’s murdered husband, they discover that his ostentatious Puritanism hid a deeply sinister secret life, and that far too often tyranny and treason go hand in hand.

First thoughts?

I am sitting here struggling to write this review.  I don't know why, since I enjoyed this book immensely.  So much so that I hope Lady Bridget and her sidekick Martha have another book that features them.  The door has certainly been left open.  The mystery itself was not terribly difficult.  I didn't figure it out, but it wasn't super complicated.  Goes with the time period I guess.  The historical features and the practice of midwifery are as equally important in this story as the murder was.

This story takes place in York in 1644 and I had forgotten how chaotic this time period was in England.    Religion is strong, Papists vs. Church of England.  Women have no rights and are property, unless you are fortunate to be a lady of means as is Lady Bridget.  Bridget has a fortune, no husband, stature in the community, friends in high places, and above all else, a kind soul.  She is only about 30 years old, but remember it's 1644.  That's a bit advanced.  Bridget is also a midwife, so most of her information gathering comes while delivering babies.  That is another society unto itself.  I didn't realize women and giving birth could be so socially complicated, with their gossips, and etiquette.  I don't want to give too much away, but it is super interesting to say the least.

Martha, who becomes Bridget's maid, is quite a character.  I liked her quite a bit.  She comes to Martha's door under odd circumstances, but Bridget gives her a chance.  Bridget and Martha become BFFs rather quickly, and some may quibble about that.  Me, I didn't mind because it made for a wonderful side story.  There was one piece of the side story, from Martha's past that I thought wrapped up too quickly, but it doesn't detract from the over all story.

There was a great blend of historical information with the mystery and I don't think we see that too often.  Sometimes HF mysteries have aspects that seem modern or overworked, and this one does not.  I appreciated learning about midwifery in 1644.


Absolutely!  Bridget and Martha make a fabulous baby delivering, mystery solving team.  Each brings skills to the table that allow for justice to be served, and they respect and trust each other.  They are certifiable BFFs by the end, and no one can say otherwise.

This was a page turner for me and all of the characters were enjoyable; even the few that wanted to do my Lady harm.

There better be a sequel in the works Mr. Thomas.

Would I change anything?

No not really.  Maybe make the story a little longer.

My Rating: 95/100
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Trade paperback, 320 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours (Thank you Amy!)

For more information please visit the author, Sam Thomas' website:

For more opinions of this page turner, please visit some of the site below:

Monday, January 7
Review & Giveaway at A Chick Who Reads
Review & Giveaway at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, January 8
Review at The Novel Life
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Wednesday, January 9
Review & Giveaway at Ageless Pages Reviews
Review & Author Interview at A Bookish Libraria

Thursday, January 10
Review at Raging Bibliomania

Friday, January 11
Review at The Musings of a Book Junkie

Monday, January 14
Review at A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, January 15
Review at Book Journey
Review & Giveaway at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, January 16
Review & Giveaway at Book of Secrets

Thursday, January 17
Review & Giveaway at The Book Buff

Friday, January 18
Review at Sharon's Garden of Book Reviews

Monday, January 21
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee

Tuesday, January 22
Review at The Bookworm

Wednesday, January 23
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

Thursday, January 24
Review at Book Dilettante
Review at Confessions of an Avid Reader

Friday, January 25
Review at Jenny Loves to Read
Review at Impressions in Ink 

Monday, January 28
Review at So Many Books, So Little Time
Review & Giveaway at Stiletto Storytime

Tuesday, January 29
Feature & Giveaway at Passages to the Past

Wednesday, January 30
Review & Giveaway at Oh, for the Hook of a Book!

Thursday, January 31
Review at The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Friday, February 1
Review at Reading the Past

© Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, January 18, 2013

January 2013 Culling of the Book Shelves

2013 is a big year for me.  I’m turning 40 (gasp, swoon) the blog turns 5 in December, and I’m simplifying my life.  No more holding onto stuff I’ll never use.  And no more holding onto books that realistically, I’ll never get to, or I’ve read and probably won’t crack open again.  However, it doesn't mean someone else out there might not want these books, so my loss is your gain.  If you’re interested, of course.

This month I am offering up your choice of the following :

The Grail King and Deep Magic by Joy Nash (Two books together)
On the Run by Iris Johansen
Six Seconds by Rick Mofina and Murderers’Club by P.D. Martin 
(Two books together.  I received them together so I’m giving them away together.)
Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani
A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi
The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

Here are the rules: 
  • U.S. addresses only and no P.O. Boxes.  (sorry!)
  • Leave a comment on this post with your email and your first and second choice of book(s)
  • There will be two winners: 1st place will receive their first choice of book, and 2nd place will also get their   first choice, unless it’s taken, thereby receiving their second choice of book.
  • Contest runs until midnight, EST, Friday February 1, 2013.

Good luck everyone J

 © Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, January 11, 2013

TLC Book Tour Stop and Review: Raylan by Elmore Leonard

My Rating: 97/100
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Paperback, 288 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours

From the Tour homepage:

When Dickie and Coover Crowe, dope-dealing brothers known for sampling their own supply, decide to branch out into the body business, it’s up to U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens to stop them. But Raylan isn’t your average marshal; he’s the laconic, Stetson-wearing, fast-drawing lawman who juggles dozens of cases at a time and always shoots to kill. But by the time Raylan finds out who’s making the cuts, he’s lying naked in a bathtub, with Layla, the cool transplant nurse, about to go for his kidneys.

DISCLAIMER: I have been watching Justified, the show which stars Raylan Givens, since Season 1.  And I LOVE it!  I do not miss an episode and am sad when the season is over.  So this review is definitely biased. 

Now that  that’s out of the way, let’s get to the review of Raylan.  The title character made his debut as a secondary character in Pronto,  so this book, Raylan is the third full length book to feature Raylan Givens.  Although the character is well established, it doesn’t take away from the story at all.  Raylan is like a day in the life of Raylan Givens, US Marshall.  And what a life it is, filled with criminals, and people who are interesting in their own right.  There isn't much background or delving into the characters themselves.  That gets picked up by reading between the lines, or interpreting their actions.  I also know them already from Justified.  Comparing the book and the show, the transition is seamless.

This story contains three mini-events: organ thieves, the protection of a coal company woman, and a criminal from Raylan’s past seeking to right wrongs.  The characters in each event are richly drawn and easy to imagine.  Everyone in this book is quite the character and memorable.  The dialogue in this book is also unique.  The story takes place in Eastern Kentucky so the characters have a regional accent, but it’s not what you may think.  It’s a bit Southern but their sentences are clipped or shortened.  This also adds to the richness of the story, and it’s another seamless transition between the book and the show.  It’s one of the reasons I enjoy the show so much, the dialogue.  The book continues that flavor.

I apologize for comparing the book and the show so much, but for me it’s unavoidable.  Aspects of the events in Raylan were used for Justified, but they were definitely changed quite a bit.  Both versions have their merits.  Overall Raylan was an enjoyable, easy reading book, and it’s a wonderful introduction into either Justified or Elmore Leonard’s other works.  Leonard has written over 45 books, and has quite a following, so the man is doing something right.  I know I will definitely be reading his back list , and not just those featuring Raylan Givens.

For more information about Elmore Leonard and his other works, please visit his website.

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for asking me to join the tour.  Please visit the other tour stops to see what others thought of Raylan.

Elmore’s Tour Stops

Wednesday, December 26th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, December 28th: Book Addict Katie
Thursday, January 3rd: Helen’s Book Blog
Monday, January 7th: My Life in Not So Many Words
Tuesday, January 8th: Chaotic Compendiums
Thursday, January 10th: Jenny Loves to Read
Wednesday, January 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves
Monday, January 28th: Luxury Reading
TBD: EmSun

© Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Book Review: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

My Rating: 95/100

I have avoided all spoilers of this book since it came out.  To that end, I can't even reprint a summary without giving bits away.  So if you must know the summary, here is a link to the GoodReads page.  

My Non-Spoilery Thoughts:

I know this book caused quite a stir when it was released because I remember reviews being mixed, readers felt let down, and there was a general meh-ness about this book.  For me, I liked it.  Not as much as Catching Fire, but I still devoured every page all the same.  The plot had to change a bit, although the same themes that have been present in the prior two, are repeated here again in Mockingjay: Katniss being a pawn, Katniss undecided about her feelings regarding Peeta and Gale, no one has that many options available to them.

This book wrapped up all the plot lines and did so quite well.  It may not have been super exciting, but I think at this period in time all parties having growing and deciding to do.  Mockingjay may not have had the ending everyone wanted or liked but with the dystopian world of the book, I thought the ending was believable and finished the story appropriately.  There was one I thought unnecessary death at the beginning of the end, that I was disappointed with.  However, it cemented the other story elements in place.  No person or government is above doing anything for personal gain.

In conclusion, I enjoyed this book greatly.  It has a different feel than the previous two, and I was satisfied with the ending.  For more of my specific feelings towards the book read the spoiler review that follows.  If you dare!


There were parts that were a bit boring, but it was for story telling sake.  Totally knew Coin, the leader of District , had a hidden agenda regarding Katniss.  Also, with such a powerful role model who has the potential to sway followers, Coin can't have Katniss running around loosey goosey.  However, that does not excuse, the killing of Prim.  I was floored.  I did not see that coming.  Also the conversations Katniss had with Snow, like him or not, he was always almost honest with her.  Snow knew and saw Katniss' potential, so why lie.  Katniss knew this too, and also realized that District 13 and dreams of true freedom and living were never going to happen for her.

As for the Peeta brainwashing, not surprised.  The Capital was brutal and their methods were unbelievable   Peeta and Katniss ending up being together.  I think that was the best possible outcome.  Both of them are damaged goods.  There was never going to be a totally happy ending.  It wouldn't be right and it doesn't match the tone of the books.  Hollywood better not change it either.  You hear me?!
I really had  no problem with how the book ended.  I've read that people thought there were loose ends.  Not sure what they mean, although its been a while since I read this.

Katniss killing Coin: she had to to.  The cycle of violence would have continued had she not.  All the other Games winners dying, very sad as I read those moments.  I liked them greatly.

That's about all I can think of.  Overall the pacing was different than the previous two, but I enjoyed Mockingjay very much.  I think it ended the series quite well.  I also read Catching Fire and Mockingjay back to back and that may be why I think the way I do.  I didn't have to wait a year, like everyone else.

Now onto Battle Royale by Japanese author Koushun Takami.  Supposedly Hunger Games is a rip off of this story.  I'll let you know :)

Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Dystopian young adult
Hardback 390 pages
Book Source: borrowed from the library

 © Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, January 7, 2013

Review: The Collector by John Fowles

Publisher: Little, Brown &Co. (1963)
Genre: Thriller
Hardback 305 pages
Book Source: borrowed form the library
My Rating: 93/100

Hailed as the first modern psychological thriller. The Collector is the internationally bestselling novel that captured John Fowles into the front rank of contemporary novelist. This tale of obsessive love- the story of a lonely clerk who collects butterflies and of the beautiful young art student who is his ultimate quarry- remains unparalleled in it's power to startle and mesmerize.  (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

I don't normally give away spoilers, but I must with this review due to the way the book is written.
This book is divided into two stories about the same events: the kidnapper's version and the victim.
Frederick Clegg is the kidnapper who gives his version of the events first.

From the start the reader knows that Clegg is "off".  The way he speaks, the things that have happened to him, and the way he adores Miranda.  Clegg is obsessed.  The reader knows within the first few pages that he is going to kidnap Miranda.  Clegg prepares well to bring his love, Miranda, to her new home.  Clegg is a butterfly collector and he approaches Miranda in the same way; something to be protected and cherished, like a rare butterfly.

Clegg has almost no social skills.  How he has survived this long is amazing.  And in his twisted mind, Clegg loves Miranda and I think believes he is doing right by her.  Who wouldn't want to be loved, protected, and taken care of forever, by someone who adores them?    At first, I couldn't believe what I was reading, and didn't think he could pull it off.  But Clegg did it.  And as evil as his act is, half way through his side of the events, I started to see his point of view.  Fowles' writing made me empathize with Clegg.  I started to rationalize to myself Clegg's actions, considering his history, etc.  However, as slowly as I came to see Clegg's perspective, I abruptly changed my mind once I started Miranda's side of the story.

In the beginning of Miranda's story much of what we read at first is expected.  She is scared, frightened, and trying to devise ways to escape.  Checking for cracks around the walls, looking for potential weapons to use, etc., anything to use or do against Clegg.  She is the victim and I felt bad for her, and rightly so. Eventually Miranda quiets down a bit and thinks about her friends and family at home and how they must be so upset. There is an older guy that she was kind of sorta seeing, and she thinks about him and what he would say.  Through these reflections, I came to see Miranda in a much harsher light.

While Miranda reflects, Clegg begins to open up to Miranda and expose himself; placing himself into a very vulnerable position emotionally with Miranda.  Miranda can clearly see Clegg is a bit unhinged, and I understand she is the victim here, however Miranda is a contradiction.  As much as Miranda says she is for the people, and money is not that important, she's anti-establishment (it's the 1960s), she clearly sees herself as better than Clegg, regardless of the kidnapping.  If this kidnapping would have never occurred, Miranda would have never given Clegg the time of day.  He is beneath her in both intellect and class, plain and simple, despite her highbrow thinking.

As you can see reading this book, caused me to sway back and forth in my feelings for both Miranda and Clegg.  However, in the end neither one is quite likable.  Both are flawed in their thinking, and suffering from not being loved enough or properly.  This book details a terrible situation with no good way out.  With this book being written in the 1960s, there are aspects that make it dated.  However, the underlying themes (love, acceptance, class and society) Fowles' explores are universal and transcend time. Fowles' writing was thought provoking, engrossing and this is a book I would certainly read again.  I also plan on reading one or two more of this great author's works.

I do apologize for the unevenness of this review.  I read this book in the summer of 2011 and should have written this review sooner.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Saturday, January 5, 2013

It's Over Charles (the conclusion of the Bleakalong)

[Link to mid-way review post]

Dear Charles,

It's finally over between us.  While the first half of Bleak House was quite an interesting story, with loads of crazy characters, interesting relationships, and compelling societal commentary, it was that commentary that began to grate my nerves.  I get it.  London at this time was pretty much a cesspool, chock full of unsavory characters, chief among them the lawyers and moneylenders.  The good people like Esther (Eleanor, inside joke), Ada, Mr. Jarndyce, Caddy Jellyby, and poor little Joe, were few and far between.  Little Joe really hurt me the most Charles.  Did you have to do that to poor Joe?  I know there are thousands more like him roaming the streets of London who met a similar fate, but still, couldn't you have been kind to him?

I am glad that most of my favorite characters had happy endings despite the ultimate outcome of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce.  Richard learned a hard lesson, but I still have no sympathy for him.  Esther most of all, her final outcome made me most pleased.  Because I have to tell you Charles, I gagged when she promised herself to her guardian Mr Jarndyce.  I know marriages between young ladies and older men were common, but he was like a father figure to her, so ew!  Not cool.  I'm glad Mr Jarndyce changed that situation around to Esther's benefit.  I also like how he handled Mr Guppy at the very end too.

Well Charles, this brings me to the final outcomes for your other major characters   I'm sure other readers feel the same as I do.  Your writing makes me feel something different for each and every one:

Both Lord and Lady Dedlock: sympathy.  He really did love her. She did not have to go out that way.
Mr Tulkinghorn: disgust.  Phew!  I spit on you and only wish you suffered more.
Dectective Bucket: boredom.  Nice guy, but bored to tears.
George Rouncewell: man's best friend.  Reminds me of a very sweet, well meaning shaggy dog.  So glad he reconnected with his family and found purpose.
Skimpole: more disgust and ew. Glad he was eventually found out and kicked out the door.

So Charles, although my interest waned towards the end, it does not deter me from giving one of your works a try.  Your creativity is amazing and although written during the Victorian period, you are quite readable.  What you suggest Charles?  Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Tale of Two Cities?  I'm just not sure.  Whatever I decide, I'll make sure I block off two months to read it as I'm sure it will be another chunkster.

Until next time Charles!


With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I figured a few extra days may be needed for wrapping up Bleak House.  So what did you think?  Will you ever read another of Dickens' work again?  Overall I enjoyed it, even though it was a bit long.

Thank you so much for joining me on this readalong.  It was the first one I hosted.  I think next time I'll post a chapter schedule with questions so we can chat during our reading.  I thought the timing of this wouldn't allow for mini-discussions, and to be honest, I wasn't sure what to expect from Bleak House.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this sojourn and I look forward to spending time with you again in the future :)  Three Musketeers anyone????

Please post a link to your final thoughts in the comments section!

© Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A plethora of mini-book reviews: Shadow Divers, Anna Dressed in Blood, Still Life, and The Unit

For summary of the book, click each title and it will take you their respective Goodreads pages.
I really intended to do a proper review for each book, but that's never going to happen at this point, so pertinent points will do.  Lets get to it shall we?

Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
My Rating: 95/100
375 pages

Great book about the perils of deep sea ship wreck diving.  True story of two divers who become friends and find a wrecked German submarine from WWII off the coast of New Jersey.  Part of the adventure comes from diving and exploring the wreck.  The other part comes from the two of them trying to determine the submarine's name so the families will know what happened to their loved ones.  They eventually name the submarine and delve into it's history and that was fascinating too.  Submarines were basically a death sentence, and this one left Germany about a year before the end.  They didn't want to, but had they had no choice.

This was a nonfiction page turner.

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
My Rating: 95/100
316 pages
Recommended by Ju-Ju 

Like his father before him, Cas kills ghosts for a living. He is  the male equivalent to Buffy.  There I said it, but they do also in the story.  Cas is lonely and conflicted because as much as he wants to carry on his father's work, he craves a normal life.  Being able to live in one place, not change schools, have friends, have normalcy.  Cas moves to yet another town to kill the infamous ghost Anna Dressed in Blood.  However, what he finds instead is the ghost of a young girl who has much in common with him.  A ghost he can talk to, when she's not killing people.  But why does Anna kill people?  She doesn't want to, but she needs Cas to help her stop killing?  Will he?

Page turner YA with a boy as the hero.  Wonderful change of pace from the typical supernatural books out there, and I enjoyed the twist at the end.  Book 1 in a series.  Loved it!

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist
My Rating:60/100
268 pages
Recommended by Naida

Takes place in a future where a country has decided that once you reach a certain age, and you are not married, have no children, or have a job that is important fro society, you are sent to the Unit, to wait out your days donating bits and pieces of yourself to those left in society.  Great premise that put me in mind of Never let Me Go, however the main character Dorritt inspired no empathy from me at all.  I did not like her, and felt like she knew her time to go to the Unit was coming, but she did nothing to avert it.  Dorritt didn't become a rebel and fight the system, didn't try and suck it up to get married or find a career.  Dorritt sort of fights the system once at the Unit, but at that point I thought too little, too late.  I did like the other characters in the Unit and felt for them, however they were not the lead of the story.

Great idea, but I had no connection to Dorritt, so I didn't enjoy this story.

Still Life by Louise Penny
My Rating: 95/100
Detective Story
293 pages
Recommended by: who hasn't recommended this series!

First in the series featuring French Canadian Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, Still Life features the crime from both the Inspector's point of view, and the survivors point of view.  The story takes place in an idyllic small town but not all is what it seems.  Most of the town's inhabitants are characters in the story since they knew the deceased, and all have their quirks.  Penny's writing is delightful and it was easy to imagine everything in this story.

As for Inspector Gamache he is awesome  and makes the story.  He has a loving wife, is tough, and works for the victim, even if it may cost him his job or career.  Gamache is a good study of people.  He is quiet and unassuming and sees himself as a mentor.  The story also sheds light on how murders are worked and solved North of the border and that made for interesting reading as well, since those characters also come into play.  The reader is thrown right into the thick of office politics and it's a nice side story that I assume plays out later in the series.

Brilliant page turner.  Add me to the list of Louise Penny and Inspector Gamache fans.  Oh and this how I pictured Gamache.

I know he's Italian (Giancarlo Giannini) but he pooped into my head and stuck.

© Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!!!

celebrations,confetti,holidays,New Years,noisemakers,parties,favors,special occasions,decorative elements
Happy New Year!!!  May 2013 bring you health, happiness, and good times.

 © Jenny Girl - 2013 "All Rights Reserved"