Thursday, June 25, 2009

Booking Mama's Book Giveaway!!

This book looks like a fun summer read. Julie P. over at Booking Mama has posted another giveaway. Enter to win the book A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand. Julie P over at Booking Mama also has the honor of having a blurb from her review printed on the book! How cool is that! Trust me it is the dream of many book bloggers.

I am adding this one to my TBR list!! I am sure finding alot of summer reads to add to my list! Make sure to enter for you chance to win!

Happy Reading!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Giveaway @ Booking Mama

This book looks like a fun summer read. Julie P. over at Booking Mama has posted a giveaway to win the book Looking For Salvation At the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore.

I am adding this one to my TBR list!! Make sure to enter for you chance to win!

Happy Reading!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's On Your Nightstand? - 6/23/09 Edition

What’s been on your nightstand this month? The folks at 5 Minutes for Books would like to know. See what everyone else is reading and discover some new titles to add to your TBR pile! Mine is ever growing!!

Books I have Read in June, 2009

In the Kitchen
by Monica Ali - (ARC from Simon and Schuster) (my review)
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer-June Selection for Book Group. (book group this Thursday!)
The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb (my review)
The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett - a short novella borrowed to me by a friend. Must read and return very soon!

Jen's Reading Plan for June -
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha - ARC from Random House
No One You Know - Michelle Richmond (Book Group Selection)
Sacred Hearts - Sarah Dunant - ARC from Random House
Await Your Reply - Dan Chaon -ARC from Random House

Happy Reading!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mailbox Monday: 6/15/09

Mailbox Monday is a weekly event hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page. It is exciting to received new books to review. I do like the slower pace at which they are coming in as I am able to read a few library books as well.

This week, I welcomed one new book into my home and onto my ever growing TBR pile. I received Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant from Random House to review. I am looking forward to reading this book. I previously read, Sarah Dunant's Birth of Venus and am looking forward to reading this one!
Product Description from
The year is 1570, and in the convent of Santa Caterina, in the Italian city of Ferrara, noblewomen find space to pursue their lives under God’s protection. But any community, however smoothly run, suffers tremors when it takes in someone by force. And the arrival of Santa Caterina’s new novice sets in motion a chain of events that will shake the convent to its core.

Ripped by her family from an illicit love affair, sixteen-year-old Serafina is willful, emotional, sharp, and defiant–young enough to have a life to look forward to and old enough to know when that life is being cut short. Her first night inside the walls is spent in an incandescent rage so violent that the dispensary mistress, Suora Zuana, is dispatched to the girl’s cell to sedate her. Thus begins a complex relationship of trust and betrayal between the young rebel and the clever, scholarly nun, for whom the girl becomes the daughter she will never have.

As Serafina rails against her incarceration, others are drawn into the drama: the ancient, mysterious Suora Magdalena–with her history of visions and ecstasies–locked in her cell; the ferociously devout novice mistress Suora Umiliana, who comes to see in the postulant a way to extend her influence; and, watching it all, the abbess, Madonna Chiara, a woman as fluent in politics as she is in prayer. As disorder and rebellion mount, it is the abbess’s job to keep the convent stable while, outside its walls, the dictates of the Counter-Reformation begin to purge the Catholic Church and impose on the nunneries a regime of terrible oppression.

What books came into your house last week? Don’t forget to stop by The Printed Page and leave a link to your Monday Mailbox post for others to view!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Jen's Notes: June 14, 2009

Do you have notes all over your work space?? Do you use sticky notes or scraps of paper to remember important information? I tend to find sticky notes and scraps all over my desk at home and work. They might contain websites, books to read, or review sites to join. All important stuff that I seem to misplace! So this feature will allow me to organize my sticky notes and actually find the info at a later date. What a novel idea!!

I spent a fair amout of time this evening reviewing book blogs. The following is a list of books that interested me and where I read about them.
Book Recommendations:
  1. Julie and Julia
  2. The Cradle - Patrick Somerville (Bookmarks Book Review Newsletter)
  3. Columbine - Dave Cullen (Bookmarks Book Review Newsletter)
  4. Prayers for Sale - Sandra Dallas (Reading Group Gold Recommends)
  5. The Glassblower of Murano - Marina Fiorato (Reading Group Gold Recommends)
  6. Honolulu - Alan Brennert (author of Molokai)
  7. The Worst Hard Time - Timothy Egan (The Sleepy Reader)
  8. The Beautiful North - Luis Alberto Urrea (Booking Mama)
  9. Leaving the World - Douglas Kennedy (Fluer Fisher Reads)

Blogs Added to Site:

  1. The Sleepy Reader
  2. Booking Mama
  3. Me, My Book and The Couch
  4. Stephanie's Written Word
  5. The Book Case (blog of the editors from BookPage)
Other Items of Interest:
  1. Entertainment Weekly's The New Classics List - the 100 best reads from 1983 to 2008.
  2. TLC Book Tours - Read "Be a Tour Host" and Signed Up.
  3. Discovered Rave About Reads Challenge - the site has a list of particpants and their list of books. Could be a good place to find some books to add to my TBR list!

My info is all safe and sound!! Time to throw away my sticky notes until next time.

Happy Reading!

Library Loot: June 10-16, 2009

I have not been to the library in a few weeks. My hubby has been picking up a few books for me, but it has been pretty slow on reserves as well. I have enough books around the house so it isn't like I am ever without a book to keep me company.

Saturday, June 13, 2009
1. April & Oliver - Tess Callahan
2. Google Blogger for Dummies - Susan Gunelius Hubby picked this up thinking I might like it. Isn't he so sweet to think about me!

I am off to see what others have checkout from their library this week and fill up my TBR list!

Interesting Books from Other Library Loot Posts:

1. Leaving the World - by Douglas Kennedy (Fleur Fisher Reads)

Library Loot Event is a weekly event hosted by Eva at The Striped Armchair that encourages bloggers to share the books they have checked out from the library. I always find many new books to add to my reserve list!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Vote For My Son, Josh!!!

Please vote for my son in the Windows Brand Ambassador Semi-Finals!

Thanks A Million!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Review: In The Kitchen by Monica Ali

Title: In the Kitchen
Author: Monica Ali
Pages: 448 pages
Publisher: Scribner (June 16, 2009)
ISBN-10: 141657168X

I was so excited. The cover of the book had me thinking immediately that I would love this book!! This book appealed to me due to many of my loves, such as my love of cooking, British Authors, Hell's Kitchen and all things Gordon Ramsey!! Unfortunately, I could not find a graphic of the book cover I have.
Gabriel Lightfoot is the executive chef of a once majestic London hotel, the Imperial Hotel. He has a diverse group of kitchen help and a bully of a restaurant manager. He has aspirations for his future that include, starting his own restaurant, marrying Charlie and reconnecting with his family. In the Kitchen begins with the discovered of the death of one of the restaurants porters, Yuri. Yuri was a Ukrainian who seemed to have been living in the basement of the hotel. The death of Yuri is the beginning of many complications in the life of Gabe.

Shortly after Yuri’s death, Gabe discovers Lena in the basement. She had been staying with Yuri prior to his death. Gabe is drawn to Lena and an odd relationship begins between the two of them. He is haunted by a dream concerning the death of Yuri. Gabe’s father is diagnosed with Cancer and Gabe’s relationship with his fiancĂ©, Charlie goes sour. Gabe’s life begins to spiral out of control.

My Review: I have not read Brick Lane, so I cannot compare this work to Monica Ali’s previous work. This book struggled to hold my attention, especially towards the middle. I found the characters to be interesting, but never developed to a level where I cared what happened to them. I thought some great issues were touched on in the book such as: immigrant slavery/labor force and mental illness. The diverse restaurant workers all had a story of their immigration, but the lack of development of them was a real missed opportunity to me.

I found myself feeling like I was always getting just a piece of the story. I wanted to know more about Gabe’s mother and her illness/life, more of the story of the lives of the diverse immigrant work force. I didn’t really find Gabe’s recollections of the time he spent with his father at the Mill to add much to the story.

I struggled to keep picking up this book. I wasn’t too concerned about getting back to Gabe. The story does start to gain some momentum towards the end as Gabe spirals into what I can only guess is a manic episode. But as quickly as Gabe’s manic episode began it ends very abruptly without any real intervention. The momentum of the ending came a bit too late for me!

3/5 – OK/ An Average Read (the ending caused me to bump the book up from a less than satisfying rating)

Happy Reading!

Review: The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb

Title: The Hour I First Believed
Author: Wally Lamb
Pages: 752 pages
Publisher: Harper (November 11, 2008)
ISBN-10: 0060393491

Caelum Quirk narrates Wally Lamb’s newest book, The Hour I First Believed. Caelum is a high school English teacher struggling to maintain his third marriage. Caelum and his wife, Maureen moved to Littleton, Colorado to start a new life after Maureen’s infidelity. Both take jobs at Columbine High School; Caelum as an English teacher and Maureen as the school nurse. Caelum goes to be with his aunt after she suffers a stroke in Three Rivers, Connecticut. Caelum’s aunt dies shortly after he arrives. Back in Colorado Maureen finds herself in the middle of the rampage created by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold within the Columbine School Shooting.

Maureen is in the school library with a student, Violet, when the shooting begins. Maureen hides in a library cabinet, listening to students being taunted and shot. Maureen struggles greatly with PTSD after this tragedy. Her life spirals out of control. Caelum and Maureen struggle to put their life back together after the shootings.

They decide to move back to the family farm in Three Rivers, Connecticut to recover from their ordeal in Colorado. Maureen struggles to regain her life, but experiences life altering tragedy. Caelum discovers in the farm house a family history archive of letters, diaries and news clippings. He begins to piece together the life of his ancestors and family secrets emerge. Caelum struggles with unexpected discoveries and continues with his quest for meaning and direction in his life.

My Review: I am once again blown away by the storytelling on Wally Lamb. He introduces us to a wide range of rich characters. What I like about the characters, especially Caelum, is they are just average people, trying to make sense of a world that is wrought with tragedy. The description of the shootings in Columbine are heart wrenching. I listened to this book and found the drama of the shootings to be very intense and had a profound effect on me.

Generally books with a lot of side stories are not enjoyable to me. The Hour I First Believed is the exception. The Columbine shooting falls into the background of the story as life and tragedy continues to plague Caelum. It almost felt like a new story once Caelum starting his discovery and research on his family history. But throughout the book the struggle to maintain the relationship between Caelum and Maureen is ever present.

To me the theme throughout the book is that life isn’t easy and neat. Terrible things happen to people for unknown reasons. This story though filled with tragedy portrays the strength of the characters to overcome the tragedies of their lives and find hope and purpose for in their lives. Don’t we all have tragedy in our lives at some level? It is all about our journey through the tragedy and who we are on the other side. One can only hope we continue to find hope in life after it is all said and done. It was inspiring to follow Caelum, Maureen and Violet in their journey to hope after an imaginable amount of tragedy.

4.5/5 – Highly Recommended

Happy Reading!