Friday, April 30, 2010

Giveaway: The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith

Thanks to Valerie  from Hachette I am able to offer up to three copies of this book away on my blog! The Secret Speech would make an excellent bok club selection as the paperback edition will feature a Reading Group Guide that includes a Q&A with Tom Rob Smith and discussion topics and questions. Here is a summary of The Secret Speech by Tom Rob  Smith from the Hachette website:

Soviet Union, 1956. Stalin is dead, and a violent regime is beginning to fracture-leaving behind a society where the police are the criminals, and the criminals are innocent. A secret speech composed by Stalin's successor Khrushchev is distributed to the entire nation. Its message: Stalin was a tyrant. Its promise: The Soviet Union will change.

Facing his own personal turmoil, former state security officer Leo Demidov is also struggling to change. The two young girls he and his wife Raisa adopted have yet to forgive him for his part in the death of their parents. They are not alone. Now that the truth is out, Leo, Raisa, and their family are in grave danger from someone consumed by the dark legacy of Leo's past career. Someone transformed beyond recognition into the perfect model of vengeance.

From the streets of Moscow in the throes of political upheaval, to the Siberian gulags, and to the center of the Hungarian uprising in Budapest, THE SECRET SPEECH is a breathtaking, epic novel that confirms Tom Rob Smith as one of the most exciting new authors writing today.

Now on with the giveaway!

I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of three books to give away.

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. 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 May 22nd to enter and I will draw for winners on May 23rd.

Good luck everyone!

This Giveaway is closed.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Current Giveaways!!!

Here are some giveaways that caught my eye over the last week:

Broken Teepee is giving away the audiobook of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith--Contest ends 5/3.

Luxury Reading is giving away The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow--Contest ends 5/4.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away the audiobook of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith--Contest ends 5/6.

Readaholic is giving away Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz--Contest ends 5/6.

The Tome Traveller's Weblog is giving away Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt--Contest ends 5/9.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker--Contest ends 5/13.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Daughters of the Witching Hill by Mary Sharratt--Contest ends 5/15.

Good luck everyone!  And be sure to check back as I will have a couple new giveaways coming up soon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Audiobook Review: Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

Here is a summary of Dear John from the Hachette website:

An angry rebel, John dropped out of school and enlisted in the Army, not knowing what else to do with his life--until he meets the girl of his dreams, Savannah. Their mutual attraction quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah waiting for John to finish his tour of duty, and John wanting to settle down with the woman who captured his heart. But 9/11 changes everything. John feels it is his duty to re-enlist. And sadly, the long separation finds Savannah falling in love with someone else.

My Review:
I will start this review I will tell you that I have only read a couple books by Nicholas Sparks and quickly decided that his writing just wasn't my cup of tea.  When a good friend of mine couldn't stop raving about Dear John I decided to give it try...and I'm very glad I did.

This book is narrated by John and he starts out by telling us about his background.  His mother walked out on him and his father shortly after he was born so his father did his best to raise John on his own.  They seemed to live in an area where many families were financially thriving, so John always felt a bit left out around the other kids.  Having to save his money all week to buy a burger on the weekend and spending time working when his friends were enjoying life was just what he became used to. 

As John grew into a teenager he seemed to distance himself from his father.  He couldn't understand it, but for some reason his father never seemed to want to take the initiative to strengthen their relationship.  All his dad seemed to care about were his daily routines and his coin collection.  John becomes so frustrated with his father that it really is not a surprise when one day he decides to join the Army in an attempt to distance himself from his father as much as he possibly can.

John grows up in the Army and probably learns more about being a man that he learned from his father.  He still goes home on his Leaves and finds that with his newfound wisdom he is able to continue a relationship with his father.  It is when John is based in Germany that he comes home on a Leave and meets Savannah, who will leave an impression on his heart forever.

It is easy for John and Savannah to start a relationship because as they spend time together they feel comfortable as if they have known each other for a lifetime.  Before they realize what is going on they find themselves confiding their secrets, dreams, and fears with each other.  Savannah sees a piece of John that no-one has ever had access to, and she also helps him to understand his father in a whole new light.  The development of the father-son relationship is one of my favorite parts of this book.

John and Savannah are caught up in the whirlwind of their romance and understand that they will have to part soon.  John will have to return to Germany and Savannah will have to return to college.  They vow to keep in touch with each other and they do manage to successfully carry on a young relationship for quite some time.  During the difficult time of being apart they both look forward to when John's service is complete so they can spend the rest of their lives together.

I'm not going to share any more about this book as I don't want to give too much away.  Parts of the story were predictable to me and I think that is why I have steered away from Sparks novels in the past.  I probably will continue to not actually 'read' his books, but I will be adding him to my list of audiobook authors that I do enjoy.  I also loved the voice of the narrator of this book-it was like running into a young and polite serviceman on the East coast.  If you are a Sparks fan I think you will enjoy this one.

My Rating: 4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from my friend  Miranda for my own entertainment.

Check out more great book reviews at Book Review Party Wednesday at Cym Lowell's Blog.

Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations!

Peter, the fellow who runs Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations, just got in touch out of the blue. He's making a concerted effort to increase the number of book lists in his Book Club Books category.

Interested in writing a book list? Think you know a number of books that would make a good addition to his collection of book club recommendations? Get in touch with Peter at and he'll fill you in on the details.

My book club is just getting ready to select our books for the next year and I think this website would be a great tool for us.  Since we have been together for six years we may even be able to compile a list ourselves!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday-April 27

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!

This week my teaser is from Black Hills by Dan Simmons:
He could not have stopped the mare if he'd tried.  Her lathered sides were flowing with her own blood, and the boy realized that she'd been shot several times with rifle and pistol bullets and that there was an arrow sunk deep in her flesh just behind Paha Sapa's right leg.

Pg. 19

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mailbox Monday-April 26

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.

Only one book again last week, but it was unexpected so it's kind of like a bonus surprise!
The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

So were there any surprises in your mailbox last week?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Audiobook Review: Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith

Here is a summary of Espresso Tales from the Random House website:

Back are all our favorite denizens of a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh. Bertie the immensely talented six year old is now enrolled in kindergarten, and much to his dismay, has been clad in pink overalls for his first day of class. Bruce has lost his job as a surveyor, and between admiring glances in the mirror, is contemplating becoming a wine merchant. Pat is embarking on a new life at Edinburgh University and perhaps on a new relationship, courtesy of Domenica, her witty and worldly-wise neighbor. McCall Smith has much in store for them as the brief spell of glorious summer sunshine gives way to fall a season cursed with more traditionally Scottish weather.

Full of McCall Smith’s gentle humor and sympathy for his characters,
Espresso Tales is also an affectionate portrait of a city and its people who, in the author’s own words, “make it one of the most vibrant and interesting places in the world.”

My Review:
Although things are now a bit different at the flats on Scotland Street, they are definitely still interesting. There are changes within all of the characters, but the change that I enjoyed the most was probably with Bertie's father, Stewart.  Pat is still living in the flat with Bruce, but since he was fired from his position at the surveying companay, he decides that he will embark on a new career as a wine merchant.  

After Pat's experience with Bruce in the first installment of this series, she has resolved with herself that she no longer has any romantic interest in Bruce so she has been able to stay on as a roommate in his flat.  She finds herself smitten once again when Peter enters the picture.  Once she learns everything she can about Peter how long will that relationship actually last?

Irene and Stewart are Bertie's parents and I remember thinking after listening to the first book "What kind of people just leave their car in another city and forget about it?"  Because that is exactly what they did!  They left their car in another city for about a year and after arguing about who left it there and where exactly it was, they finally decided to search for the car and bring it home.  Irene has been the overpowering mother, planning out Bertie's day from beginning to end as if she were raising a prodegy rather than a young boy.  From psychotherapy sessions, saxaphone lessons and yoga class, poor Bertie doesn't have a moment to spare for himself.  He becomes horrified to go out in public because his mother seems to think that the best thing for young boys to wear is a pair of crushed strawberry dungarees.  He also doesn't want to have any boys come over in fear that they will see the pink bedroom that his mother painted.  I couldn't help but rejoice when Stewart finally puts his foot down, which allowed Bertie to finally enjoy being a little boy.

Many other characters return in this novel including Matthew, Domenica, Angus Lordie, and the Dunbartens.  It seemed to me that not a lot was happening with these characters in this segment, but some groundwork was laid for some interesting stories to take place for them in future installments.   I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and if you are a fan of Alexander McCall Smith you may want to check out this series for yourself.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from my local library and listened to it for my own entertainment.

Winner of This One is Mine!

I have drawn a winner for my hardcover copy of This One is Mine by Maria Semple and the winner is....................................................

Congratulations Sue!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information.  Thanks to all for stopping by and entering the contest and reading the interview.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday-April 21

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 is a new word that I learned last week while reading Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani:

I'm going to list a few definitions for this word because I'm not sure which one it actually is...maybe you can help me!
Courant:  Represented as running.
A piece of music in triple time; also, a lively dance; a coranto.
A circulating gazette of news; a newspaper.
Here is how courant was used on page 218:
June looks at the drawing and nods.  "That man was ahead of his time.  The wide straps, the button details.  Look at the heel.  Wide at the base, into a spindle at the tip.  Completely courant and the man has been dead ten years."

I wonder if the word is actually using a combination of all these definitions?  What do you think?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday-April 20

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!

This week my teaser is from Where Grace Abides by BJ Hoff:
There was something behind her.  Slowly, carefully she twisted her arm and fumbled for her back, but she was stiff and sore and couldn't reach far enough around to feel anything.

pg. 115

Monday, April 19, 2010

Mailbox Monday-April 19

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.

Here is what was in my mailbox last week:
The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais

So it's only one book, but considering how big my review pile has gotten over the last month, I'm ok with that!  So what was in your mailbox?

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday Finds-April 16

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

I went to the website of Alexander McCall Smith to look up the next book I plan on reading in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series and found that another book in this series is going to be released next week!

Here is a summary of this book from his website:

Readers will agree that this touching and dramatic new installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s beloved and best-selling series is the finest yet. In this story, Precious Ramotswe deals with issues of mistaken identity and great fortune against the beautiful backdrop of Botswana’s remote and striking Okavango Delta.

Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi head to a safari camp to carry out a delicate mission on behalf of a former guest who has left one of the guides a large sum of money. But once they find their man, Precious begins to sense that something is not right. To make matters worse, shortly before their departure Mma Makutsi’s fiancĂ©, Phuti Radiphuti, suffers a debilitating accident, and when his aunt moves in to take care of him, she also pushes Mma Makutsi out of the picture. Could she be trying to break up the relationship? Finally, a local priest and his wife independently approach Mma Ramotswe with concerns of infidelity, creating a rather unusual and tricky situation. Nevertheless, Precious is confident that with a little patience, kindness and good sense things will work out for the best, something that will delight her many fans.

This is the 11th book in the series and since my book club has been reading at least one of these books a year I can't wait to tell them about this one.  The next one we will be reading together is The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, which is the 7th book in the series, so it will be a while before I get to the newest one.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Current Giveaways!!!

Here are some giveaways going on in blogworld right now:

hist-fic chick is giving away Claude and Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell--Contest ends 4/23.

Readaholic is giving away The Postmistress by Sarah Blake--Contest ends 4/23.

So Many Precious Books, So Little Time is giving away Stay a Little Longer by Dorothy Garlock--Contest ends 4/30...and tell her Jo-Jo sent ya!

A Sea of Books is giving away Apologize, Apologize! by Elizabeth Kelly--Contest ends 5/7.

A Bookworm's World is giving away Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz--Contest ends 5/15.

Good luck everyone!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Review and Blog Tour: The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson

Here is a summary of the book from the Harper Collins website:

"I want you to know something if you don't already. Life is choosing whom and what you love. Everything else follows . . ."
Among the longleaf pines and family farms of eastern North Carolina, days seem to pass without incident for Margaret Clayton and Bernice Stokes until they discover each other in a friendship that will take them on the most important journey of their lives. Margaret, droll and whip smart, has a will of iron that never fails her even when her body does, while Bernice, an avid country-music fan, is rarely lucid. Irreverent and brazen at every turn, they make a formidable pair at the home where they live, breaking all the rules and ultimately changing the lives of those around them. Lorraine, their churchgoing, God-questioning nurse, both protects and provokes them while they are under her watchful eye, as her daughter, April, bright and ambitious, determinedly makes her way through medical school. Rounding out the group of unlikely and often outrageous friends is Rhonda, the Bud-swilling beautician who does the ladies' hair on her day off and whose sassy talk hides a vulnerable heart, one that finally opens to love. 

Weaving this tightly knit and compelling novel in alternating chapters, each woman gets to tell her story her own way, as all five learn to reconcile troubled pasts, find forgiveness, choose hope, and relish the joy of life. Rich with irresistible characters whose uniquely musical voices overflow the pages, The Sweet By and By is a testament to the truth that the most vibrant lives are not necessarily the most visible ones. 

My Review:
I really enjoy stories that give you a bit of Southern flair, and The Sweet By and By sure delivered!  Each chapter in this story is narrated by one of the main characters in the novel, which gives us an opportunity to watch each woman grow in her own way.  They become connected by the time they spend together in a nursing home, so a couple of the characters are elderly residents.  Margaret is one of the residents that seems to be mentally intact but physically limited while everyone is sure that Bernice has lost her marbles.

Johnson puts us right in the minds of these nursing home residents and helps us to realize what they may be feeling inside.  To realize how frustrating it must be for these people who have always lived productive and healthy lives, only to be slowed down by age and weakness, can be humbling to us as readers because we will all be in the same boat some day....God willing!  Here is an excerpt from page 127 where Margaret talks about the physical pain that many of her neighbors endure:
Some folks here won't take a bath because the people that give them are too rough.  It's not because they're senile and don't want to be clean; it's because it hurts goddamn it.  Just moving a body can hurt, which is something that no person can understand until it's too late for them to be sympathetic about it because they've left the ranks of the ignorant and joined the ranks of the suffering.

Lorraine is an LPN at the nursing home where both Margaret and Bernice reside.  We find out bits and pieces of Lorraine's life, including some of the burdens that she has had to learn to live with.  I think that the loss that Lorraine endured early in her life helped her to become the compassionate person that is needed to be a successful nurse that cares for the elderly.  She devotes her life to the people she takes care of knowing that the time they will have together will be short-lived.  It really takes a special person to open your heart to so many people knowing that your time together will not be as long as most relationships.

I really enjoyed Rhonda's place in the story because she just kind of fell into her place as a hairdresser at the nursing home.  I think that Rhonda planned on just trying out the job for a day and expected to not enjoy it, so she wasn't planning on returning.  She found herself connecting with the residents and developed a special bond with both Margaret and Bernice.  Since Rhonda was never able to develop a relationship with her own mother it was heart-warming to see her open up in this way to these women.  I probably related to Rhonda the most considering that I lost my own mother when I was quite young, so I've had my own special ladies that I look up to in this fashion.

My mother was an LPN herself at a local nursing home so I really was able to connect with this story.  I've been walking in and out of nursing homes since I have been three years old and it is so important to remember that all of these people are individuals that helped bring your community to what it is today.  My grandma has been in the nursing home since before Christmas and although we are hoping she will be coming home this month, we know the care that she does receive is excellent.  My grandma loves to repeat her stories and this book reminded me that it is important to allow her to do that.  I'm sure there is so much more that she wants to remember so it is important to allow her the freedom to share what does come to her mind.

I really loved this story and the writing was written in such a way that came across as beautiful prose.  I think it would also make a great book club selection and you can bet that I will be passing this one on to the gals in my group.  With themes of love, aging, compassion and letting go, this book has a lot to offer beneath the surface.  I want to thank Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  If you are interested in checking out more reviews of this book you can view more stops on the Blog Tour here.  If you are lucky enough to live in the South you may be able to stop at one of these locations and meet Todd Johnson yourself.

My Rating: 4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review as part of this blog tour.

Teaser Tuesday-April 13

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!

This week my teaser is from Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani:
Is she really taking me to Italy for an education so that she might eventually hand off the Angelini Shoe Company, or is something else going on here?  I expected Gram to go to Eva Scrivo and come home with a version of her old haircut, short, full, and silver, instead she walks in here looking like the senior-citizen version of Posh Beckham at an assisted-living bingo night.

pg. 187

Monday, April 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday-April 12

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for hosting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. You can go to her blog to see what everyone else got last week or to play along.
Since I missed last week's Mailbox Monday I get to share the books that came into my house for the last couple of weeks:
The Passage by Justin Cronin

The Local News by Miriam Gershow

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (audiobook)

And then I received the following books from the bargain bookstore:

Who By Fire by Diana Spechler

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons

And then from Barnes and Noble I purchased:
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Well that is quite a haul for me and considering The Passage is a pretty big book. I think I will have to probably start turning down review requests for the next couple of months!  So what was in your mailbox?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Giveaway: The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

Thanks to Valerie  from Hachette I am able to offer up to three copies of this book away on my blog!  Here is a summary of The Cradle by Patrick Somerville:

Early one summer morning, Matthew Bishop kisses his still-sleeping wife Marissa, gets dressed and eases his truck through Milwaukee, bound for the highway. His wife, pregnant with their first child, has asked him to find the antique cradle taken years before by her mother Caroline when she abandoned Marissa, never to contact her daughter again. Soon to be a mother herself, Marissa now dreams of nothing else but bringing her baby home to the cradle she herself slept in. His wife does not know-does not want to know-where her mother lives, but Matt has an address for Caroline's sister near by and with any luck, he will be home in time for dinner.

Only as Matt tries to track down his wife's mother, he discovers that Caroline, upon leaving Marissa, has led a life increasingly plagued by impulse and irrationality, a mysterious life that grows more inexplicable with each new lead Matt gains, and door he enters. As hours turn into days and Caroline's trail takes Matt from Wisconsin to Minnesota, Illinois, and beyond in search of the cradle, Matt makes a discovery that will forever change Marissa's life, and faces a decision that will challenge everything he has ever known.

Elegant and astonishing, Patrick Somerville tells the story of one man's journey into the heart of marriage, parenthood, and what it means to be a family. Confirming the arrival of an exuberantly talented new writer, THE CRADLE is an uniquely imaginative debut novel that radiates with wisdom and wonder.

I think this sounds like a great book and considering that I live in Wisconsin I will definitely be bringing this one to the attention of my book group. There is also a Reading Group Guide available to help with some ideas for your book group.

Now on with the giveaway!

I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of three books to give away.

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. 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 April 30th to enter and I will draw for winners on May 1st.

Good luck everyone!

Giveaway is closed.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Java With Jo

Well it looks like I am about ready to get things back to normal around here!  We arrived back home Monday evening--Just in time to see the Duke Blue Devils win the NCAA tournament.  We only seen the last ten minutes of the game but that was quite intense, and considering they are my all-time favorite team I was bouncing off the walls! 

Our vacation in Mexico was very fun and relaxing.  We didn't really plan on doing a lot of activities while we were there so we kind of stayed around the resort most of the time, except for when we did a little shopping downtown or planned a nice dinner out.  We were in Cancun, which I'm sure you have heard can be quite crazy during Spring Break.  We were pretty lucky as the resort we were staying at was pretty much out of the way of the party crowd.  We are not the type of people to go "clubbing" all night long either so Spring Breakers were not a hindrance for me in any way.  Sunday we spent the day taking a big sailboat over to Isla Mujeres, which is a little island not too far from Cancun.  That worked well also, considering that my whole family was quite concerned with becoming seasick.  We stayed healthy and enjoyed the entire boat ride and found Isla Mujeres to be just a little gem of an island.  I told my husband that we should plan our next vacation to be there!

After returning from vacation I did work for about a day and a half, but then left work early on Wednesday to head to the Bon Jovi concert in St. Paul!  This band never ceases to amaze was a fabulous evening!  Up until the concert date I really had no idea who was opening for Bon Jovi, but then I found out that there was a contest held for local bands to win the chance to play the opening act.  This was a great opportunity for these bands but we ended up getting at the arena just as they were finishing.  It was a four hour drive for us to get to the concert and since we left a little later than anticipated it took us awhile to find somewhere to eat dinner.  I can only say that if you are a Bon Jovi fan you need to see this concert!  I know it's a lot of money for one ticket but Jon will make it worthwhile it for you! 

If you missed my review of the Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful book, you can view it here.  I feel that I should mention after reading a couple of comments that I don't think this book would be considered a memoir, but more of a coffee table book.  It does have bits and pieces of an interview that was done for the Showtime documentary though.

So after attending a wine-tasting this evening, life should be pretty much back to normal for me.  I am going to have a couple of great contests coming up so stay tuned. But I want to leave you with this picture of Jon Bon Jovi from the concert that I was at Wednesday evening from the Excel Energy website:

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Review: Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful by Bon Jovi

Here is a summary of Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful from the Harper Collins website:

BON JOVI: WHEN WE WERE BEAUTIFUL is an intimate look at one of America′s most enduringly popular bands after 25 years of hits, fame, tours and troubles. It is the companion to a major documentary to be released in Fall 09 to coincide with the band′s anniversary. The documentary follows the band on their 2008 Lost Highway tour and at home, talking about everything from life on the road and onstage to band members′ own personal crises. 

The book is illustrated with gorgeous new photos and stills from the documentary, providing unprecedented insights into a band that is known for staying away from the media. Archival photographs provide the complete picture of the band′s extraordinary reign at the top of the charts. Jon Bon Jovi is writing an introduction and text throughout the book, and the other band members, including Richie Sambora, are contributing extended captions. This is a unique portrait of rock legends after 25 years together, reflecting on their past as well looking forward to the future.

My Review:
Let me start by saying that if you are a Bon Jovi fan, this is a book that you will want to have on your coffee table.  You can only imagine how tickled pink I was to open this book and find so many full page photographs from the very same concert that I attended in 2008!  This book gives you an honest look into the lives of the band and the path they followed that brought them where they are today.

As they look back at the beginning of their career it seems to me that when they hit it big, they hit it big fast.  Although the stardom I'm sure was fun and exciting for them I think it was also hard having to keep up with such a fast pace.  When they were doing those early tours they didn't even own homes but seemed to just live from hotel to hotel and I can't even imagine that.  I also remember a period of time when you really didn't hear much about Bon Jovi.  This would have been the time when they took a much needed break, and they talk about this time in the book.  It was a tough time for everyone and I think they all seemed to have their own ideas for the future of the band.

It was after this break when Jon approached the members and said that they need to get their minds in order before they can succeed as a band again, and that is when he suggested that they all see a 'shrink'.  Even though they were pretty hesitant about this idea they went through with Jon's suggestion and found it was probably the best thing they could have ever done.  This act put them on a path to better communication and let them realize that they all have different gifts to offer to the band.

Jon shares with us in this book how important it is for him to write songs that move people.  He also shares with us how he wants people to enjoy their songs just as much ten years from now as today.  Here is an excerpt from page 87 that I want to share where Jon talks about his inspiration for the Keep The Faith album that stems from the LA riots after the Rodney King beating:
"Keep the Faith" was a reaction to what we'd witnessed but we intentionally did not get specific.  Hopefully people will understand the power of the lyric and what inspired it but in a year-or ten-it still needs to resonate.  You want things to be timeless and classic.  You want things to be there forever.  So, it's not catering to this's for all generations.  So we hone the lyric.  We universalize it.

Well I am definitely hoping to see the documentary that this book was made to accompany.  I am probably biased because I have been a Bon Jovi fan since high school in the eighties, but they are still my favorite!  Unfortunately, because of my location I did not have the opportunity to see Bon Jovi live back then.  I wasn't able to go to my first show until a couple of years ago, and I can tell you one thing that I said:  "I will never miss seeing this band again!"  It truly was an amazing concert and if you enjoy their music you will not be disappointed!  They have successfully reached out to all generations because when I looked around that arena I saw ages of people that ranged fifty years.  And I also want to say that they put on the best show that I have ever seen!  I can't wait to see them in concert tonight!

So I think you can tell from my review that I enjoyed this book, and if you enjoy Bon Jovi I think you will also.  So I'm curious-Do you have a favorite Bon Jovi song?  My favorite is from a few years ago-Have a Nice Day!

My Rating: 5/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me from Janina from Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.