Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Wondrous Words Wednesday-Sept. 30

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

I have been finding quite a few new words as I have been reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Aperture:  an opening, as a hole, slit, crack, gap, etc.

Here is how aperture was used on page 22:
From this aperture, the subterranean rivers traveling under sixty-two kilometers of ice shot into the open with an airblast like a jet engine's exhaust.

Prelapsarian:  characteristic of or pertaining to any innocent or carefree period.

Here is how prelapsarian was used on page 30:
Thirty-five years later, the Balti still lived with the same lack of modern conveniences, but after even a few days in the village, Mortenson began to see that Korphe was far from the prelapsarian paradise of Western fantasy.

Soliloquies: [suh-lil-uh-kwees]an utterance or discourse by a person who is talking to himself or herself or is disregardful of or oblivious to any hearers present.

Here is how soliloquies was used on page 102:
But much as he enjoyed the first fond soliloques about Pope John Paul, Mortenson learned that, after enough vodka, Dudzinski simply spoke to no one in particular.

Bharal:  a wild sheep.

Here is how bharal was used on page 116:
A 1973 trek with Schaller through western Nepal to study the Bharal, or blue sheep, became the basis of Peter Matthiessen's stark masterpiece The Snow Leopard.

Caravansary:  an inn, usually with a large courtyard, for the overnight accommodation of caravans.

Here is how caravansary was used on page 245:
They stopped for the night at Sost, a former Silk Road caravansary reincarnated as a truck stop for Bedfords plying the road to China.

Messianic: a zealous leader of some cause or project.
Mullah:  a title of respect for a person who is learned in, teaches, or expounds the sacred law.

Here is how messianic and mullah were both used on page 244:
Their simple belief in a messianic, puritan Islam which had been drummed into them by simple village mullahs was the only prop they could hold on to and which gave their lives some meaning.

So what kind of new words did you learn in your reading adventures?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fall Into Reading Challenge 2009

Katrina at Callapidder Days is hosting the Fall Into Reading Challenge that is running from September 22nd to December 20th.  I've decided to join this challenge as I've found this is a great way to help me stick to those review commitments that I have.  Here is the list of books that I will be reading for this challenge:

1. Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin--Completed 10/3/2009
2. The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walters--Completed 10/7/2009
3. A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve--Completed 10/22/2009
4. Made in the U.S.A by Billie Letts--Completed 11/1/2009
5. Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran--Completed 11/14/2009
6. My Antonia by Willa Cather--Completed 12/1/2009
7. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffeneger--Completed 12/10/2009
8. A Lucky Child by Thomas Buergenthal--Completed 12/13/2009

If this challenge sounds interesting to you please check out the complete rules and sign up to join in on the fun
here. I will be updating this post with my progress.

Review: The Light, The Dark and Ember Between

Here is a summary of The Light, the Dark, and Ember Between by J.W. Nicklaus from Amazon:

This book is a collection of uplifting images that delve into the reflections of the human condition. These stories will cause you to think, laugh, and even cry at the beauty of emotional memories. You will smile at the thought of love lost and found again in "Paper Doll." You will think about your life's choices in "10:18." You will cry tears of joy while reading about the hidden gift in "Winter Rose." This is a must-have collection of thought-provoking reflections perfect for your bedside or the beach.

My Review:

It is not very often that I pick up a book of short stories, but I am glad I took the opportunity over this last summer to let these stories into my heart. This book is a compilation of short fictional stories that have a way of tapping your emotions from within your soul. As I started reading a couple of these stories, I was asking myself, "Where in the world could this possibly be leading?" But then by the end of the story I would find my hand covering my heart as the story took a turn that was so beautiful and unexpected.

I am not going to go into the details of each individual story, as they are each beautiful in their own way. I think that if you are looking for a book to bring along with you on a trip, or even if you think you may be stranded in waiting rooms for a long period of time, this book would be the perfect accompaniment. Please stop by the webpage of J.W. Nicklaus to find out more information about the author and this book. You can also wish him a Happy Birthday since his birthday is this month!

My Rating: 5/5

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday's Movie-Yes Man

A Novel Menagerie asks us to post about a movie that you watched the week before. We usually watch quite a few movies over the weekend and it is sometimes difficult to only discuss one.

The movie that we really enjoyed this weekend was Yes Man with Jim Carrey.

Here are some of the details from the film:

Genre:  Comedy

Starring:  Jim Carrey, Zooey Deschanel, Bradley Cooper

Runtime:  1 hr, 44 mn.

MPAA Rating:  PG13

Here is a summary of the film from the MSN Movie website:

Based on Danny Wallace's autobiographical book, Jim Carrey stars as a man who decides to spice up his life by saying yes to everything in his life that he would normally say no to. Fun With Dick and Jane's creative team of director Peyton Reed and writer Nick Stoller head up the production. Zooey Deschanel co-stars as the romantic interest, with Bradley Cooper appearing as Carrey's best friend. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, All Movie Guide

My Movie Thoughts:

We always love a good comedy in our home and this one definitely fit the bill.  Jim Carrey plays the character of Carl Allen, a man who is always making up excuses to avoid spending time with his friends.  It's not until he misses his best friend's engagement party that he realizes that maybe he is missing out on some important life events.  Carl attends a seminar and makes a contract agreeing to say yes to everything.  As he starts saying yes to everything that he possibly can, he finds new doors are opening in his life.  He notices positive changes taking place with his job, his romantic interests, and with his friends.  This was a very enjoyable movie and a good reminder that we need to embrace what life has to offer before it's too late.  I'm rating this one 4 out of 5 bags of popcorn.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Finds-Sept. 25

Should Be Reading asks you to share what books you discovered this week that interest you!

I can't believe it has been almost a month since I have posted a Friday Find, but I guess not much has caught my eye lately.  Today I want to share with you a book that I found over at Cerebral Girl's Mailbox Monday post. 

The following is a summary of The Postmistress from the Barnes and Noble website:

Filled with stunning parallels to today's world, The Postmistress is a sweeping novel about the loss of innocence of two extraordinary women-and of two countries torn apart by war.

On the eve of the United States's entrance into World War II in 1940, Iris James, the postmistress of Franklin, a small town on Cape Cod, does the unthinkable: She doesn't deliver a letter. In London, American radio gal Frankie Bard is working with Edward R. Murrow, reporting on the Blitz. One night in a bomb shelter, she meets a doctor from Cape Cod with a letter in his pocket, a letter Frankie vows to deliver when she returns from Germany and France, where she is to record the stories of war refugees desperately trying to escape.

The residents of Franklin think the war can't touch them- but as Frankie's radio broadcasts air, some know that the war is indeed coming. And when Frankie arrives at their doorstep, the two stories collide in a way no one could have foreseen. The Postmistress is an unforgettable tale of the secrets we must bear, or bury. It is about what happens to love during wartime, when those we cherish leave. And how every story-of love or war-is about looking left when we should have been looking right.

This sounds like an excellent book to me and I am going to definitely try to get my paws on this one!  I think the cover may be influencing me on this one too, I think it's just beautiful.  So did you find anything new this week?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Current Giveaways!!!

The BBAW may be over for this year, but there are still plenty of fabulous giveaways out there, and here are just a few that I found:

The Burton Review is giving away Mademoiselle Boleyn and The Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn by Robin Maxwell--Contest ends 9/26.

Bermudaonion is giving away The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks--Contest ends 9/27.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood--Contest ends 9/27.

At Home With Books is having a big September Bookshelf Cleaning Giveaway--Contest ends 9/29.

hist-fic chick is giving away The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory--Contest ends 9/30.

Cerebral Girl is giving away Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell--Contest ends 10/4.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away Supreme Courtship by Christopher Buckley--Contest ends 10/4.

Bloody Bad is giving away Benny and Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti--Contest ends 10/5.

Luxury Reading is giving away A Separate Country by Robert Hicks--Contest ends 10/7.

Bloody Bad is giving away The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick--Contest ends 10/21.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova--Contest ends 10/24.

And don't forget about my contests for Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran that ends 9/30, and the Hispanic Heritage Month Giveaway that ends 10/13.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giveaway to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month!

I want to give a special Thanks to Valerie from Hachette for offering this giveaway on my blog! Three lucky winners will receive all of the following books:

  1. Zumba® By Beto Perez , Maggie Greenwood-Robinson
  2. Evenings at the Argentine Club By Julia Amante
  3. Damas, Dramas, and Ana Ruiz By Belinda Acosta
  4. Tell Me Something True By Leila Cobo
  5. Amigoland By Oscar Casares
Here is how to enter:

To enter this contest you must be 18 or older and live in the US or Canada. No PO boxes please!

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

You will have until October 13th to enter and I will draw for a winner on October 14th.

Good luck everyone!

Wondrous Words Wednesday-Sept. 23

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

Here are a couple new words that I learned while I was reading The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal:

Septuagenarian: [sep-choo-uh-juh-nair-ee-uhn] of the age of 70 years or between 70 and 80 years old.

Here is how septuagenarian was used on page 174:
"A safe gun-toting septuagenarian Indian is an oxymoron."

Ayurvedic: the ancient Hindu art of medicine and of prolonging life.

Here is how ayurvedic was used on page 258:
"I tried everything, including ayurvedic and homeopathic medicines," he continued.

So did you learn any new words this week?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Review: The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Here is a summary of The Day the Falls Stood Still from Cathy Marie Buchanan's website:

1915. The dawn of the hydroelectric power era in Niagara Falls. Seventeen-year-old Bess Heath has led a sheltered existence as the youngest daughter of the director of the Niagara Power Company. After graduation day at her boarding school, she is impatient to return to her picturesque family home near Niagara Falls. But when she arrives, nothing is as she left it. Her father has lost his job at the power company, her mother is reduced to taking in sewing from the society ladies she once entertained, and Isabel, her vivacious older sister, is a shadow of her former self. She has shut herself in her bedroom, barely eating—and harbouring a secret.

The night of her return Bess meets Tom Cole by chance on a trolley platform. She finds herself inexplicably drawn to him—against her family’s strong objections. He is not from their world. Rough-hewn and fearless, he lives off what the river provides and has an uncanny ability to predict the whims of the falls. His daring river rescues render him a local hero and cast him as a threat to the power companies that seek to harness the power of the falls for themselves. As their lives become more fully entwined, Bess is forced to make a painful choice between what she wants and what is best for her family and her future.

My Review:

This is one book that I can say I wanted to read because of it's cover attraction. There is just something about this cover that reached into my heart and mind saying "Read this one Jo-Jo!" Well I am certainly glad that I did because this story was so beautifully told and full of historical information that I really didn't have any knowledge of before I opened it's pages. This novel also gives the reader a good visual of how the hydroelectric power plants affected the flow of the river and Niagara Falls.

This story is told through the viewpoint of Bess, a seventeen year old girl who has had the opportunity to live a privileged life thus far. She has been attending the Loretto Academy, where her beautiful and older sister, Isabel, previously graduated from. Before Bess is able to complete her education, the Heath family is suddenly trodden with a financial hardship. Bess is pulled out of school and taken home and will never know her pampered lifestyle again. Her mother is a dressmaker and takes Bess under wings, teaching her the in's and out's of what it takes to be a successful seamstress. Together, these two women are able to keep the family afloat from their dressmaking enterprise.

Along the way, Bess runs into a riverman named Tom Cole. Tom is very famous throughout the area and comes from a strong heritage of rivermen. He seems to have a sixth sense about the river and how it flows. One might even say that it seemed that Tom may have the river water running through his veins. Through his eyes, we are given such a vivid picture of the magestic falls and the river that they seem to gain almost a magical quality.

Bess found herself falling in love with Tom Cole, against her parents wishes. This novel takes place during the Great Depression, so since the family had already lost all financial security that they had known, they had hoped that their daughter would marry a young man that brought them back into good social graces. With Tom being a riverman, he did not fit the bill.

I really don't want to give too much of this book away, but I loved being with Bess and Tom as their relationship grew. Tom found himself taking a job that went against everything he believed in for the people he loved, and although Bess enjoyed the financial security, she did not enjoy the changes that she saw in Tom.

In the beginning of this book a tragedy takes place that has Bess questioning her belief in God. She struggles with this throughout the story and I found this to be a very touching and important human element of the novel. Here is an excerpt that I wanted to share from page 215 of the Advanced Reading Copy:
We all matter so very little, not at all after a generation or two. And it is the same for all mankind; not even the greatest of men amount to anything that will survive the forward march of time. It is in these moments of despair I most miss the idea of God, the idea that life has meaning, the idea that we are something more than the products of the random variations and natural selection Charles Darwin put forth.

This was such a beautifully told story that I loved from beginning to end. I think during the time that we live in now, it's also important as we are looking for alternative means of energy, to be aware of how these alternative methods affect our landscape. I also find it interesting that Buchanan based her character of Tom Cole after William "Red" Hill's life. A couple of Red Hill's heroic acts of bravery are retold in this story as Tom Cole. I just loved this story and definitely recommend it!

My Rating: 5/5

Here are a few other informative reviews of this book:
The Burton Review
Peeking Between the Pages
The Reading Journey
Savvy Verse and Wit
Book Chatter and other stuff
Booking Mama

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 22

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin is the next book on my list, so even though I haven't started reading it yet, here is my teaser:
He lunged toward Mortenson, grabbed the azarband, which hung outside the infidel's trousers, and tucked it inside the waistband. "It is forbidden to wear as such, " Manzoor said.

pg. 67

Monday, September 21, 2009

Monday's Movie-Frost/Nixon

A Novel Menagerie asks us to post about a movie that you watched the week before. We usually watch quite a few movies over the weekend and it is sometimes difficult to only discuss one.

The movie that I found very interesting this weekend was Frost/Nixon.

Here are some of the details from the film:

Genre: Drama

Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Sam Rockwell

Runtime: 2 hr, 2 mn.

MPAA Rating: R

Here is a summary of the movie from the MSN Movie website:

Hollywood heavyweight Ron Howard adapts playwright Peter Morgan's West End hit for the silver screen with this feature focusing on the 1977 television interviews between journalist David Frost (Michael Sheen) and former president Richard Nixon (Frank Langella). At the time Nixon sat down with Frost to discuss the sordid details that ultimately derailed his presidency, it had been three years since the former commander in chief had been forced out of office. The Watergate scandal was still fresh in everyone's minds, and Nixon had remained notoriously tight-lipped until he agreed to sit down with Frost. Nixon was certain that he could hold his own opposite the up-and-coming British broadcaster, and even Frost's own people weren't quite sure their boss was ready for such a high-profile interview. When the interview ultimately got under way and each man eschewed the typical posturing in favor of the simple truth, fans and critics on both sides were stunned by what they witnessed. Instead of Nixon stonewalling the interviewer as expected, or Frost lobbing softballs as the truth-seekers feared, what emerged was an unguardedly honest exchange between a man who had lost everything and another with everything to gain. In this film, viewers are treated to not only a recreation of that landmark interview, but a behind-the-scenes look at the power struggles that led up to it as well. Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, and Brian Grazer team to produce a film adapted for the screen by original play author Morgan (The Queen and The Last King of Scotland). ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide

My Movie Thoughts:

This was such an interesting movie that portrayed a part of our U.S. history that I would have been too young to remember. I'm sure most Americans have heard of the Watergate scandal that President Nixon was involved with, and this movie is about the interview that took place after that scandal. Not only is the movie about the interview, but also the important events that led up to that moment in history. David Frost was an Australian journalist and many of his peers did not think that he would be diplomatic enough to be able to handle an interview with Nixon. He spent months before the interview looking for financial backers to help cover the cost of Nixon's hefty fee, but it seemed that very few were willing to invest in his journalism abilities. This was a movie well worth watching, and if you haven't heard of this interview, as I haven't, I would highly suggest watching this. I'm going to rate this 4 out of 5 bags of popcorn.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Winner of my BBAW Giveaway!

I am pleased to announce that I have a winner for the contest that I held for BBAW! The winner can choose between Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane or This One is Mine by Maria Semple. And the winner is.............


Congratulations Kerri! I will be emailing you shortly to find out which book you prefer and to also get your mailing information.

Friday, September 18, 2009

BBAW Giveaway: Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran

With BBAW coming to a close today, I thought it would be nice to include this giveaway in the fun! I didn't get to spend half as much time checking out new blogs as I would have liked this week, but I think I will spend some time doing that this weekend. It's been crazy busy for me! Don't forget to also check out the BBAW giveaway page to see some more amazing contests!

I am so excited to be able to offer another International giveaway here at Jo-Jo Loves to read, thanks to Michelle Moran.

Since I haven't had a chance to read this book yet, here is a summary from her website:

The marriage of Marc Antony and Cleopatra is one of the greatest love stories of all time, a tale of unbridled passion with earth-shaking political consequences. Feared and hunted by the powers in Rome, the lovers choose to die by their own hands as the triumphant armies of Antony’s vengeful rival, Octavian, sweep into Egypt. Their three orphaned children are taken in chains to Rome, but only two—the ten-year-old twins Selene and Alexander—survive the journey. Delivered to the household of Octavian’s sister, the siblings cling to each other and to the hope that they will return one day to their rightful place on the throne of Egypt. As they come of age, they are buffeted by the personal ambitions of Octavian’s family and court, by the ever-present threat of slave rebellion, and by the longings and desires deep within their own hearts.

Selene’s narrative is animated by the concerns of a young girl in any time and place —the possibility of finding love, the pull of friendship and family, and the pursuit of her unique interests and talents. While coping with the loss of both her family and her ancestral kingdom, Selene must find a path around the dangers of a foreign land. Her accounts of life in Rome are filled with historical details that vividly capture both the glories and horrors of the time. She dines with the empire’s most illustrious poets and politicians, witnesses the creation of the Pantheon, and navigates the colorful, crowded marketplaces of the city where Roman-style justice is meted out with merciless authority.

Based on meticulous research, Cleopatra’s Daughter is a fascinating portrait of Imperial Rome and of the people and events of this glorious and tumultuous period in human history. Emerging from the shadows of history, Selene, a young woman of irresistible charm and preternatural intelligence, will capture your heart.

How to enter:

This is an international contest, so as long as you have reliable mail service, feel free to enter.

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

The winner will also receive this gorgeous pair of earrings from Michelle Moran!

You will have until September 30th to enter and I will draw for a winner on October 1st.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Current Giveaways!!!

Here are some great contests that I wanted to share with you all:

Find Your Next Book Here is giving away New Moon by Stephanie Meyer--Contest ends 9/18.

Write Meg is giving away The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf--Contest ends 9/19.

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away A Disobedient Girl by Ru Freeman--Contest ends 9/19.

Jenn's Bookshelves has a great Book of Your Choice giveaway--Contest ends 9/20.

Carol's Notebook is giving away The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson--Contest ends 9/20.

The Tome Traveller's Weblog is giving away The Calligrapher's Daughter by Eugenia Kim--Contest ends 9/20.

Ticket to Anywhere is celebrating her birthday this month by giving away a $32 gift card to an online bookstore--Contest ends 9/20.

The Tome Traveller's Weblog is giving away Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell--Contest ends 9/21.

Booking Mama is giving away The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb--Contest ends 9/21.

Park Avenue Princess is giving away How it Ends by Laura Wiess--Contest ends 9/22.

Booking Mama is giving away The Virgin's Daughters by Jeane Westin--Contest ends 9/22.

Park Avenue Princess is giving away a Bookcase!--Contest ends 9/24.

Diary of an Eccentric is giving away Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell--Contest ends 9/27.

She Reads and Reads is giving away The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker or No One You Know by Michelle Richmond--Contest ends 9/27.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood--Contest ends 9/27.

Bloody Bad is giving away Your Roots are showing by Elise Chidley--Contest ends 9/30.

Talk about contests galore, hey? You can even find more of them at the BBAW giveaway page. And then don't forget about my contest to win either This One is Mine by Maria Semple or Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane that you can enter here. I will also be having another special contest from Michelle Moran coming soon, so be sure to check back in the next day or so.

BBAW Because of a Blog

Today for BBAW we are asked to share a book that we read because of a blog, and maybe share a little bit about that book. The book that comes to mind for me is The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick. I just finished this book and I loved it! I will be posting my review in a couple of weeks but I will share with you that when I realized that this book was about King Arthur, I was a bit turned off by it.

But I took the time to read the review that was provided by Dar from Peeking Between the Pages and decided that I had to read this book. About a month after reading Dar's review, I won my own copy from So Many Precious Books, So Little Time, so Thank You ladies! I am so thankful for the reviews that I read that help me open my mind to read a book that I may not have considered otherwise.

Winner of The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

And the winner of The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran is ..... etirv!
I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information so this book can be sent out to you ASAP.

I want to give a special Thank You to Michelle Moran for offering to give this book away on Jo-Jo Loves to Read!!! Please be sure to check back in the next day or so for another Michelle Moran surprise.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Audiobook Review: 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith

Here is a summary of 44 Scotland Street from Alexander McCall Smith's website:

Welcome to 44 Scotland Street, home to some of Edinburgh's most colorful characters. There's Pat, a twenty-year-old who has recently moved into a flat with Bruce, an athletic young man with a keen awareness of his own appearance. Their neighbor, Domenica, is an eccentric and insightful widow. In the flat below are Irene and her appealing son Bertie, who is the victim of his mother’s desire for him to learn the saxophone and italian–all at the tender age of five.

Love triangles, a lost painting, intriguing new friends, and an encounter with a famous Scottish crime writer are just a few of the ingredients that add to this delightful and witty portrait of Edinburgh society, which was first published as a serial in The Scotsman newspaper.

My Review:
I had a feeling that I would enjoy listening to one of Alexander McCall Smith's books on audio, and I was right! This was such a delightful book to listen to that even had me laughing at loud during certain parts and other segments had me sympathizing with their misfortunes. We are introduced to a very interesting and colorful cast of characters in this book. Pat is a very shy gal who finds herself moving into a flat at 44 Scotland Street with an arrogant roommate, Bruce. Also residing in the complex is the eccentric widow Domenica, and the child prodigy Bertie with his parents.

Pat happens to be employed by an art gallery that is owned by Matthew. Although Pat is usually very soft spoken, when a specific painting comes into the gallery Pat recognizes it as possibly being a valuable work of art. She mentions this to Matthew and this painting sets the tone for the novel.

Back at 44 Scotland Street Pat finds herself increasingly growing fond of her roommate Bruce. Since Bruce made a rule for himself never to become romantically involved with his flatmates, he seeks affection from another woman's arms. Pat's emotions are in turmoil from Bruce's actions and she doesn't understand how she could possibly fall in love with a man that considers himself 'God's gift to women'. By the end of the story she finally sees Bruce's true colors and I think her romantic intentions are headed in a direction where she will find a welcoming mate.

Matthew decides that the painting may be too valuable to keep in the gallery so he asks Pat to take it to her flat for safekeeping, where no one would expect it to be. When Pat goes to retrieve the painting from where she has it hidden in the flat, she is shocked to find that it is gone! As they track where the painting could possibly be we are introduced to a few new and interesting characters. We are taken on a journey through Edinburgh that brings us to second-hand shops, underground tunnels, homes of well-known authors, and even gives us a glimpse of a secret society that many thought had dissolved years ago.

This was such an enjoyable audiobook and I will probably listen to the rest of this series sometime in the future. I can tell that this series is probably a bit more spicy than The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency, but I find that fun and risque. After listening to this book I know the next time I see a man in a kilt I will be wondering if he is actually wearing underpants! You will have to read this one yourself to know what that means.

My Rating 4/5

BBAW Reading Meme

So for this BBAW Reading Meme I decided to answer the following questions.

Do you tend to mark your books as you read, or does the idea of writing in book horrify you?

It's not because the thought horrifies me to write in a book, but I have found if I want to take notes that post its work much better for me. I have especially found for my book club reads that it helps me find specific items I may be looking for much more quickly. If you see one of my books with post-its hanging out from almost every page, you know that I've been enjoying it.

Do you prefer series books or stand alone books?

Although I am reading a couple of series right now I think that I actually prefer stand alone books. I've just started listening to the Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum series on audio and that is very enjoyable. I've also been reading The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith with my book club. We have been reading one book from this series every year and we've found that although we have a couple of favorites within the series, that not all of them are going to be great. I guess I just don't want to find myself getting bogged down reading series when there are so many other wonderful books out there waiting to be read.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 15

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

My teaser is from The Sari Shop Widow by Shobhan Bantwal:
She wasn't in love with Kip, thank goodness. Her feelings for him were based on lust and genuine affection.

pg. 24

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Special Thank You to Some Special Book Bloggers!

Today for the BBAW we are asked to give a special thank you to some of our favorite blogs didn't make the short lists for nominations. I do have a few that I want to share with you.

Peeking Between the Pages always has well written reviews and fabulous giveaways! She was also one of the first bloggers to make me feel welcome in this community so Thank You!

At Home With Books has such a wide assortment of reviews that you really don't quite know what to expect. But once you get there it's fabulous!

Passages to the Past has an amazing Historical Fiction blog. If you have a question about something historical or want to find the latest historical fiction books you can probably find it there.

L. Diane Wolfe is an author and motivational speaker. I've just recently had the chance to get to know Diane over the last couple of months as I participated in her blog tour for The Circle of Friends Book III: James. I love her blog because it is so much more than advertising her book series as she also shares things that will help us be the best possible people that we can.

Although all of the book blogs that I encounter on a daily basis are very special to me, these are the ones that I wanted to give a special Thank You to. Go check them out if you are not familiar with them.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My BBAW Giveaway

For the BBAW this week I have decided that I am going to have a contest that will allow one winner to choose between This One is Mine by Maria Semple or Names My Sisters Call Me by Megan Crane.

This is an international contest, so as long as you have regular mail service, feel free to enter.

Here is how to sign up:

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win.

The contest will run until September 18th, and I will draw for a winner on September 19th.

Good luck everyone and don't forget to check the giveaway page at the BBAW website for more great contests!

Friday, September 11, 2009

2009 BBAW Festivities Sept. 14-18

I missed the BBAW last year, but I am very excited to be able to participate this year. I am looking forward to being able to take some time to go and discover some new blogs out there. Every day next week there are going to be separate topics for you to post about. If you want to start working on your posts you can go here to find out what those topics are.

There is also a giveaway page so it makes it super easy to go and find some contests to enter. I'm going to offer a giveaway for this occasion, but I am kind of stuck on deciding upon which book to giveaway. So I will give you a choice between two books, but you will have to come back next week to see which books you could win.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Current Giveaways!!!

Here is just a sample of the great contests that are out in blogland right now:

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away Millie's Fling by Jill Mansell--HURRY because this one ends tomorrow 9/11.

Outnumbered 3 to 1 is giving away The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews--Contest ends 9/13.

He Followed Me Home...Can I Keep Him is giving away The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks--Contest ends 9/15.

Crazy for Books is giving away The Way Home by George Pelecanos--Contest ends 9/15.

A Novel Menagerie is giving away The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha--Contest ends 9/18.

Books 'n Border Collies is giving away The Devil's Queen by Jeanne Kalogridis--Contest ends 9/19.

Drey's Library is giving away The Smart one and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik--Contest ends 9/20.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry--Contest ends 9/22.

Bookfoolery and Babble is giving away The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik--Contest ends 9/27.

Wendi's Book Corner is giving away The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik--Contest ends 9/30.

You should also check out the BBAW giveaway page and you still have time to enter my contest for The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran here that ends 9/15.

Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: The Last Bridge by Teri Coyne

Here is a summary of The Last Bridge from the Random House, Inc. website:

For ten years, Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. With an endless supply of bourbon and a series of meaningless jobs, Cat is struggling to forget her Ohio hometown and the rural farmhouse she once called home. But a sudden call from an old neighbor forces Cat to return to the home and family she never intended to see again. It seems that Cat’s mother is dead.

What Cat finds at the old farmhouse is disturbing and confusing: a suicide note, written on lilac stationery and neatly sealed in a ziplock bag, that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo

One note, ten words–one for every year she has been gone–completely turns Cat’s world upside down. Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be: her tyrannical, abusive father, now in a coma after suffering a stroke? Her brother, Jared, named after her mother’s true love (who is also her father’s best friend)? The town coroner, Andrew Reilly, who seems to have known Cat’s mother long before she landed on a slab in his morgue? Or Addison Watkins, Cat’s first and only love?

The closer Cat gets to the truth, the harder it is for her to repress the memory and the impact of the events that sent her away so many years ago.

Taut, gripping, and edgy, The Last Bridge is an intense novel of family secrets, darkest impulses, and deep-seated love. Teri Coyne has created a stunning tapestry of pain and passion where past and present are seamlessly interwoven to tell a story that sears and warms in equal measure.

My Review:

This was a very powerful book that really dealt with what the negative effects of abuse can be when the victim just keeps trying to run away from the reality of what happened. Although this was a difficult story to read at times, I found that I couldn't put this book down. I devoured the pages in just a couple of sittings, which is a very rare occurrence for me. I was mesmerized from the first line of the book that began like this on page 3:
Two days after my father had a massive stroke my mother shot herself in the head.

So the story begins with Cat returning to the family home after her mother's death. Cat hates to be in her hometown, let alone the family home where she was the recipient of extensive physical abusive from her father, that the only way she can manage to stay there is by drinking herself into oblivion. She would drink until all emotional feelings were dead to her.

This is one of those stories that the author decides to give us snippets of Cat's life by changing the timeline from past to present throughout the book. This method of writing definitely enhanced this story. I won't go into the details of the abuse but it did escalate violently throughout the novel. When Cat did try to tell an authoritive figure what was happening to her, she just received a worse punishment when she got home.

Although her father was abusive to her mother, Cat seemed to be the recipient of most of his violent outbursts. I guess because everyone in her life seemed to ignore what happened to her as a child, she thought it would be ok to just not deal with it herself. This is how Cat let alcoholism take over her entire life. This was very realistic to me as I watched Cat deal with her raw emotions in this way.

When Cat is reunited with her brother and sister she thinks that they have it all together. Little does she know that they are both dealing with their own demons, some from current events, and some from the guilt of not helping Cat all those years ago when they had the chance. I loved how this story ends because it wasn't picture perfect. Cat finds that it is a daily struggle to keep her alcoholism under control, but she has found a reason to try to make it work.

This is probably one of my favorite books that I have read this summer and I want to give a special Thank You to Kaitlin from Random House for providing me with this review copy. I know that some of you are very sensitive when it comes to reading about child abuse, so this may not be the right book for you. As difficult as the journey of this book was, I thought it was very well written. This is Teri Coyne's first novel and I find it fascinating that she is also a stand up comedian! You can check out her website here.

My Rating: 4/5

You can view another insightful review of The Last Bridge over at Books and Cooks.

Wondrous Words Wednesday-Sept. 9

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

Here are a couple of new words that I learned while reading The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick:

Whelp: (wělp) An impudent young fellow.

Here is how whelp was used on page 15:
With immense difficulty, she repressed the childish urge to stick her tongue out at the mongrel whelp.

Trireme: (trahy-reem) a galley with three rows or tiers of oars on each side, one above another, used chiefly as a warship.

Here is how trireme was used on page 43:
Branwen hauled her upright and ploughed forward, a trireme under full oar.

Amphorae:(am-fuh-ree) A two-handled jar with a narrow neck used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to carry wine or oil.

Here is how amphorae was used on page 68:
The place was empty save for a tumbled heap of wooden crates, several piles of discarded sacking, a few cracked amphorae and what looked like a battered saddle.

So did you find any new words this week?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 8

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

I've had a pretty slow reading week, so my teaser is again from The Kingmaking by Helen Hollick:
That was no way to catch a man. You must dig a hole, hide the net, lure him forward and let him fall headlong in; not allow him to see the trap dangling!

pg. 180

Friday, September 4, 2009

2009 RYOB Challenge Completed!

Hooray! I've completed this challenge that was hosted by MizB here. It really does feel like quite an accomplishment to have another challenge under the belt. You should be able to click on the titles below if you are interested in reading any of my reviews from this challenge.

1. The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman-Completed 1/11/2009
2. Peony in Love by Lisa See-Completed 1/24/2009
3. The Triumph of Deborah by Eva Etzioni-Halevy-Completed 2/7/2009
4. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne-Completed 2/10/2009
5. This Side of Heaven by Karen Kingsbury-Completed 2/18/2009
6. Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas-Completed 2/28/2009
7. Bedlam South by Mark Grisham and David Donaldson-Completed 3/10/2009
8. The View from Mount Joy by Lorna Landvik-Completed 3/23/2009
9. Shanghai Girls by Lisa See-Completed 4/5/2009
10. Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert-Completed 4/20/2009
11. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Housseini-Completed 4/30/2009
12. The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner-Completed 5/10/2009
13. Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay-Completed 5/17/2009
14. Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons-Completed 5/20/2009
15. Two Brothers-One North, One South by David H. Jones-Completed 6/16/2009
16. Cutting Loose by Nadine Dajani-Completed 6/25/2009
17. Beach Trip by Cathy Holton-Completed 7/10/2009
18. The Circle of Friends Book III:James by L. Diane Wolfe-Completed 8/2/2009
19. Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith-Completed 8/8/2009
20. Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas-Completed 8/15/2009

Although I really did enjoy all of these books, the titles that received my highest rating were:
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
Shanghai Girls
A Thousand Splendid Suns
The Last Queen
Beach Trip

I seem to be making pretty good progress on my other challenges. I must admit that I am getting a little nervous about the Chunkster Challenge, since I've just started my first book for this challenge earlier this week. But I guess it isn't the end of the world if I don't complete that challenge!

Have a relaxing Labor Day Weekend everyone!