Monday, January 31, 2011

Blog Tour and Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

I am very excited to be participating in this blog tour that is being offered by TLC Book Tours.  Here is a summary of Wench from the Harper Collins website:

An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses.
wench \'wench\ n. from Middle English "wenchel," 1 a: a girl, maid, young woman; a female child.
Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.

Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.

To run is to leave behind everything these women value most–friends and families still down South–and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances–all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.

An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

My Review:
This was a beautifully written novel that gave me such a vivid picture of the historical resort that this book depicts.  Not only do we have an image of resort known as Tawawa House, but also of what the lives were like for the slaves that also were  kept as mistresses to their owners.

Every summer for a few weeks, a group of white southerners head to Tawawa House for a break from the everyday life on their plantations.  They take along with them their favorite slave mistresses while leaving their wives at home, which allows them the time to be free with these women who are basically outcasts of society at the time.  Not all of the patrons of the resort agree with slavery, so these men choose to stay in some cabins that are behind the resort rather than in Tawawa House itself.

We learn a lot about these mistresses during their vacation as they don't have the regular demands that are required of them as they are back at the plantations.  Even though they still must cater to their owners when they are around, the ladies are left alone quite often, which allows them quality time to bond and just be themselves.

Lizzie is the gal that we get to know the best throughout the novel and as the other slaves long for freedom it seems that Lizzie is content with her life for the most part.  She seems to love her owner and what she longs for the most is freedom for her children.  She has been lucky enough to give her owner two beautiful children, but she worries endlessly about them having to grow up as slaves like she did.  As Lizzie confides with the other mistresses and they all share their hopes and dreams she starts to reconsider the direction that her life seems to be heading.

I really enjoyed this story with it's themes of morals, humanity, and love.  Although I didn't read it with my book club I am definitely suggesting it to the ladies because I am sure that they would all enjoy it as much as I did.  I'm confident that this would make a great book club selection and spark a lively discussion if you are looking for a book club pick.  I have no reservations about recommending this book!

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher to participate in this blog tour and provide an honest review.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Review: The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert

Here is a summary this novel from The Missionary website:

Yesterday, David Eller was an American Missionary in Caracas, Venezuela. Today, he's an international fugitive.

David and his wife Christie rescue impoverished children in the slums of Venezuela. But for David, that's not enough. The supply of homeless children is endless because of the corrupt policies of the Venezuelan government.

In a rare moment of anger, David lashes out publicly against the government, unaware of the chain reaction that will soon follow.

When the CIA offers David a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a key role in a "bloodless" coup, he decides to go for it. But little by little, he falls into an unimaginable web of deceit that ends in a desperate, life-or-death gamble to flee the country with his wife and son, with all the resources of a corrupt dictatorship at their heels.

My Review: 
When I offered to review this Christian Fiction novel I did not expect to be taken on a journey full of action, suspense and intrigue, but that is exactly what I received!  Although I have only listened to James Patterson's books, this novel seemed to be written in a similar style to Patterson, as things happened quickly and I found myself not wanting to put it down.

David and Christie Eller help to run the Hope Village mission in Caracas, Venezuela.  Money is tight for the mission and if they only had more funds available they could help out the children and community so much more.  David thinks that he may have found himself a golden nugget when he accidentally runs into a man named Carol Edwards one day that seems to take a special interest in Hope Village.

Venezuela is run by a dictator who does not take into account what would be best for the citizens of the country.  Guzman is a greedy, power-hungry leader and many secret organizations and drug rings would do what is necessary to render him powerless.  When David is confronted with a plan to complete this task, he struggles with his faith and what is best for his country and family.  But David is offered a large sum of money to complete just a mediocre task in the overall coup and finds that he can't pass up the opportunity that will in the long run benefit Hope Village financially.

Unfortunately the attempted coup goes awry and David finds himself and his family in grave danger.  They flee Hope Village and after David finds safety for his wife and son he must find a way to save himself.  First he must figure out who exactly he can trust, and to do what he needs to learn who hired him.  Was it a governmental agency like the CIA or could have been some blood-thirsty drug lords?

David's struggle with his faith is really what brought on his problems in this novel, and finding his way back is what saved him.  I enjoyed that about this novel.  It showed us that even devout Christians that have a strong faith still make mistakes, and even big mistakes at that, but can still find their way back to the right road.  I've only read a few Christian fiction novels and found myself starting to avoid them because they were only filled with the almost perfect ideal what we strive for through Christianity, but not what we actually endure.  I think you can see that I enjoyed this novel and definitely recommend it.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me from Arielle at Bring It On Communications in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Winners of Hell's Kitchen!

I'm very excited to announce the winner of the Hell's Corner audiobook by David Baldacci is:

Congratulations!  I will be emailing you both shortly to get your mailing information to forward to the publisher.  And thanks again to Anna from Hachette for offering this great contest on my blog!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-Jan. 25

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 Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas:
Maudie would have ripped off her fiery clothes, then lain down on the bed and suffered for hours.  As she put her arm under Maudie's pillow, Hennie felt an an angel crown under the woman's head and knew that the little mass of feathers wadded up in the pillow meant the woman didn't have but a little while left on this earth.

pg. 132

This is my second time reading this book, this time with my book club.  I had forgotten what a special story this is and I may be enjoying it more this time than the first time around.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Mailbox Monday-Jan. 24

First off, How about those Packers!!! 

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for starting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. Although Marcia isn't going to be hosting Mailbox Monday any longer, she set it up so different bloggers have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time. This month the host is Rose City Reader so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

 Sing You Home by Jodi Piccoult

I've only read a couple of books by Piccoult by I enjoyed them both.  This one I was really not expecting so it was a nice surprise!  So was there anything good in your mailbox last week?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chunkster Challenge 2011

Yes, believe it or not I have decided to take a chance and give this challenge a shot again this year that is hosted by Caribousmom once again.  I failed miserably at this challenge in 2009 so I didn't sign up for it last year. Well after all was said and done I realize that I would have completed this challenge in 2010 if I did sign why not!

You can read the complete rules on the sign-up page yourself, but I have decided to participate at the Chubby Chunkster level.  This means that I need to read at least four books that have 450 pages or more between February 1, 2011 and January 31 2012.  I will  update this post as I complete books for this challenge.

Now I just hope that 2011 turns out better than 2009 did with this challenge!

1. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran--Completed 3/4/2011
2. The Help by Kathryn Stockett--Completed 8/7/2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Java With Jo

Wow, has life been exciting for me!  I realized that I haven't posted a Java With Jo excerpt for quite some time, so obviously it is time to share some news that has been happening in my life.  I'm super excited to announce the engagement of my son to the beautiful young lady that he has been dating for the last 6 years!  They started dating during their senior year of high school and plan on getting married in June 2012. 

I thought this would be a nice family picture to share since it will include our new addition to the family!  Kim and Ryan (the new engaged couple) are on the far left, and then continuing from the left are Bill, myself, and Vicki.  We took this picture last summer when we went out to celebrate our 24th anniversary at the original Famous Dave's in Hayward, Wisconsin. 

I've been seriously considering changing the name of my blog over the last few months.  The name that  seems to ring true to me is Bookin' Along With Java Jo but I would love to hear what your thoughts are.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions, or what do you think of the name that I came up with.  I really am not a very creative person so any help would be greatly appreciated!

I'm also excited to share that my daughter has now started a blog to share her thoughts and feelings about her Christianity and also her craft projects.  The name of her blog is Vintage Fall so if you feel inclined, head on over to welcome her to this great community of blogging!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau

Here is a summary of Drinking Closer to Home from the Goodreads website:

There is nothing like ten days with one’s family to bring forth old obsessions and stir up childhood memories. When Anna, Portia and Emery’s mother, Louise, suffers a massive heart attack, the three grown children return to Santa Barbara to be with their father, Buzzy, as they wait for Louise to either recover or die.

Anna can’t stop thinking about sex with strangers, although in junior high she was terrifyingly certain that her free-loving parents had syphilis (from which they would shortly die). Portia’s beach-bunny teen years feel far away as she struggles with an unfaithful husband who has left her feeling boneless and unsure. And though Emery’s greatest childhood fear was that The Law would catch up with their parents for any one of their numerous transgressions (marijuana plants in the backyard; peeing in public; the time Louise quit being a housewife and gave Emery’s care over to eight-year-old Portia), now his only worry is that he won’t be able to create his own family, a newer, better, improved version that will trump the impetuousness and chaos that ruled his childhood home.

But this time together will also bring to the surface sometimes painful, often heartbreaking secrets that will shake the foundations of everything the three siblings know about themselves and assume about their family. Secrets that may, perhaps, change the way they view the past as well as the future.

My Review:
This is the kind of book that has a way of getting under my skin (in a good way) as I'm reading, and even moreso as I ponder it upon completion!  This story gives us the nitty, gritty details of about the most dysfunctional family I could imagine by bringing us into the lives of three siblings.

Buzzy and Louise have raised their three children in a remote area of California and now that they have grown they seemed to have disbursed throughout various sections of the United States.  After Louise has a heart attack the children flock back to the home nest to offer support to both of their parents. While they are visiting we are given glimpses of childhood memories that it seems they may have been keeping locked away for years.

Anna is the oldest daughter and the one that seemed to take charge of the kitchen and housework when her mother decided that raising children wasn't something that she wanted to do any longer.  She could not stand the messy household that they were forced to live in and did not have any respect for her mother whom she suspected was having an affair.  I find it interesting how Anna was the one to become the most promiscuous of the siblings when she was the most concerned about her mother's infidelity.

Portia was the middle child and although Anna was considered the housekeeper, Portia seemed to be the one to keep a close watch over their little brother Emery.  Portia was always quiet and withdrawn and for some reason the family considered her to be mentally slow because of this.  They were all surprised, but not quite as much as Portia, when she was accepted into Berkely.  Although this did help to instill confidence in her, she still spent her life striving for love and acceptance.

Emery was the youngest and always felt out of place.  Since his parents always had marijuana plants growing he just knew that one day his family was going to be ripped apart because they would be thrown in jail.  Emery was always dirty and it seemed that his sisters really didn't want to be near him most of the time.  It took Emery a long time to be honest with himself and his longings so it really took a while for him to develop a healthy dose of self respect.

These parents really confused me as I couldn't imagine deciding to have three children but then still grow marijuana plants in your backyard for your own personal use.  Although Louise was the smoker, Buzzy seemed to take satisfaction in growing a superior crop for her.  Buzzy appeared to be a successful lawyer so finances were not a problem for this family as they muddled their way through life.

I really enjoyed this book as I can personally say that I know people that grew up in similar environments to this one.  I know many ladies that would say this is not even possible and it makes me sad to think that some people cannot even imagine the life that others have survived to get where they are.  This book had me laughing while at other times saddened by what these children had to endure.  So if you are interested in a book that paints an honest picture of what a family life can be with selfish parents then I definitely recommend this book.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This e-book was provided to me from the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Jan. 18

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 The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert:
They knew he had the briefcase, and the mercenary he'd handed the first one off to had probably given them his description and reported that the handoff had been at Los Tiburones.  The restaurant manager and Rita the waitress knew his name and knew he was from Hope Village.

Pg. 198

I finished reading this book last week and will posting my review very soon.  I will tell you right now that this was definitely more action packed than I was expecting.  It was a great read!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Current Book Giveaways!!!

I didn't receive any books in the mail last week so I thought I would share a few giveaways with you instead!  If I missed posting about your contest please feel free to leave the link in the comment section below.

Yankee Romance Reviewers is giving away the audiobook of The Wolves of Andover by Kathleen Kent.  Contest ends 1/18.

Bookin' With Bingo is giving away the audiobook of A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay.  Contest ends 1/30.

Metroreader  is giving away Get Energy by Denise Austin.  Contest ends 2/5.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Whole Truth by David Baldacci

Here is a summary of The Whole Truth from the Hachette website:

"Dick, I need a war."

Nicolas Creel is a man on a mission. He heads up the world's largest defense contractor, The Ares Corporation. Dick Pender is the man Creel retains to "perception manage" his company to even more riches by manipulating international conflicts. But Creel may have an even grander plan in mind.

Shaw, a man with no first name and a truly unique past, has a different agenda. Reluctantly doing the bidding of a secret multi-national intelligence agency, he travels the globe to keep it safe and at peace.

Willing to do anything to get back to the top of her profession, Katie James is a journalist who has just gotten the break of a lifetime: the chance to interview the sole survivor of a massacre that has left every nation stunned.

In this terrifying, global thriller, these characters' lives will collide head-on as a series of events is set in motion that could change the world as we know it. An utterly spellbinding story that feels all too real, THE WHOLE TRUTH delivers all the twists and turns, emotional drama, unforgettable characters, and can't-put-it-down pacing that readers expect from David Baldacci-and still goes beyond anything he's written before.

My Review:
In The Whole Truth, Baldacci sets a scenario for us of how countries can go into a war by being led on from evidence that has been placed by some greedy individuals.  These private parties are looking for a war just to benefit their personal wealth.  Ron McLarty did a great job of narrating this action packed thriller.

Shaw is our hero in this novel and he works for an unnamed international secret agency that helps to enforce the laws in various countries.  Let me verify that we aren't talking about speeding or parking tickets, but more along the lines of drugs, espionage, and assassinations.  Shaw has been doing this job for a long time and events have played out for him that bring him to the decision that it is now time to retire from this dangerous line of work.  His boss, who is much older than him basically tells him that he can be done with the work when the agency no longer needs his services.

As this story plays out, items are planted that could be the beginning of a war between Russia and China.  Shaw must track the evidence to get to the bottom of this escapade.  As he uncovers more unnerving information he finds himself becoming personally involved in the situation and decides that he will do whatever is absolutely necessary to bring a stop to this madness.  Not expecting to live through the events that are about to take place, Shaw finds himself in imminent danger.

This was an action-packed audiobook that had me holding my breath praying that Shaw would pull through in the end.  I did find that the book did get a little bogged down for me with all of the global politics that were taking place and my mind tended to wander during those parts.  Besides that, I loved the characters and the rest of the story and look forward to listening to the next installment of this series.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday-Jan 12

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 while reading The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert:

Necrotize:  To undergo necrosis or cause to necrose.

So that description didn't help much as I had to look up necrosis:   the death of one or more cells in the body, usually within a localized area, as from an interruption of the blood supply to that part.

Here is how necrotize was used on page 29:
"There's a particularly stubborn bacterial form of necrotizing pnemonia known as MRSA working its way through Caracas's children." 

This is turning out to be more of an action packed book than I ever suspected.  I will hopefully be posting my review soon! 

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-Jan. 11

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 Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez:
They should have been surprised the white men allowed them to go to Dayton.  But they had come to learn that in this place with the magical water, things were different.

pg 196-197

I actually finished this book last week but still wanted to post a teaser from it because I just enjoyed the story so much!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Mailbox Monday-Jan. 10

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for starting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. Although Marcia isn't going to be hosting Mailbox Monday any longer, she set it up so different bloggers have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time. This month the host is Rose City Reader so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

Here is what was in my mailbox recently:
Hell's Corner by David Baldacci (audiobook)

Cleopatra: A Life by Stachy Schiff (audiobook)

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin (audiobook)

So I think I received enough audiobooks to keep me busy for that audiobook challenge that I signed up for!  Was there anything good in your mailbox this week?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

ARC 2011 Reading Challenge

I didn't join this reading challenge last year, probably because you had to create a list in advance of the books that you were going to read, but this year that is not required so here I come!  I'm very thankful to So Many Precious Books, So Little Time for offering to host this challenge again.  All the ARC's that are read from January 1 to December 31, 2011 will count towards this challenge.  I am going to sign up for the Bronze Level of this challenge and you can see for yourself what the various levels and rules are and sign-up here.

I will update this post as I read books for this challenge.

1. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez--Completed 1/6/2011
2. The Missionary by William Carmichael and David Lambert--Completed 1/14/2011
3. The Brave by Nicholas Evans--Completed 2/1/2011
4. Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie--Completed 2/6/2011
5. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin--Completed 3/17/2011
6. The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry--Completed 3/22/2011
7. Night Road by Kristin Hannah--Completed 4/09/2011
8. The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair--Completed 4/24/2011
9. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin--Completed 5/23/2011
10. The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson--Completed 6/15/11
11. Too Jewish by Patty Friedmann--Completed 6/27/11
12. Sweet Jiminy by Kristin Gore--Completed 7/2/11
13. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See--Completed 7/17/11
14. Lamb Bright Saviors by Robert Vivian--Completed 7/25/11
15. The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent--Completed 8/19/11
16. The Good Daughters by Joyce Maynard--Completed 8/30/11
17. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand--Completed 9/6/11
18. The Soldier's Wife by Elin Hilderbrand--Completed 9/10/11

So how about you?  Are you going to give it a shot?

Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Audiobook Challenge

I'm very excited to see this challenge that is being hosted by Theresa's Reading Corner because I am listening to audio books all the time!  Seriously, I love my alone time in my car because that is when I get to listen to books, and when others are riding with me they usually do not like the experience quite as much as I!  The challenge runs from January 1st through December 31st, 2011 and here are the various levels of participation:

Curious: 3 Audio Books
Fascinated: 6 Audio Books
Addicted: 12 Audio Books
Obsessed: 20 Audio Books

So I am going to take a chance and sign up for the addicted level and try to listen to at least 12 books during 2011.  I will update this post as I complete books for this challenge.  Sound like fun to you?  You can join in the challenge at the sign-up page here.

1. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens--Completed 1/12/2011
2. The Brave by Nicholas Evans--Completed 2/1/2011
3. The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader--Completed 3/4/2011
4. An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin--Completed 3/17/2011
5. A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnday--Completed 3/31/2011
6. Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson--Completed 4/15/2011
7. When Will There Be Good News by Kate Atkinson--Completed 5/9/2011
8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley--Completed 5/29/2011
9. The Good Guy by Dean Koontz--Completed 6/10/11
10. Love Over Scotland by Alexander McCall Smith--Completed 7/1/11
11. The Camel Club by David Baldacci--Completed 8/2/11
12. Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand--Completed 9/6/11
13. To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal--Completed 10/7/11
14. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta--Completed 10/31/11
15. One Summer by David Baldacci--Completed 11/12/11

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Historical Fiction Challenge 2011

I usually find myself reading a few books throughout the year that would be considered Historical Fiction so I have decided to go ahead and sign up for this challenge for 2011.  Historical Tapestry is hosting this challenge and you should head on over to check out the rules and guidelines if you think this might interest you. 

Here are the levels of participation:

Severe Bookaholism: 20 books
Undoubtedly Obsessed: 15 books
Struggling the Addiction: 10 books
Daring & Curious: 5 books
Out of My Comfort Zone: 2 books

So I am going to sign up for the Daring and Curious level, which means I need to read 5 Historical Fiction Books between January 1 and December 31, 2011.  I think I can do it!

I will update this post as I complete books for this challenge.

1. Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez--Completed 1/6/2011
2. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran--Completed 3/4/2011
3. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows--Completed 3/31/2011
4. Too Jewish by Patty Friedmann--Completed 6/27/11
5. Dreams of Joy by Lisa See--Completed 7/17/11
6. The Traitor's Wife by Kathleen Kent--Completed 8/19/11
7. The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy--Completed 9/10/11

Audiobook Giveaway: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

Thanks to Anna from Hachette I am able to give away up to 2 copies of this book!  Here is a summary of Cleopatra: A Life from the Hachette website:

Her palace shimmered with gold but was richer still in political and sexual intrigue. Cleopatra, the wealthiest ruler of her time and one of the most powerful women in history, was a canny political strategist, a brilliant manager, a tough negotiator, and the most manipulative of lovers. Although her life spanned fewer than forty years, it reshaped the contours of the ancient world.

At only 18 years old, Cleopatra was already one of history's most remarkable figures: the Queen of Egypt. A lethal political struggle with her brother marked her early adulthood and set the tone for the rest of her life; a relationship with Julius Caesar, forged while under siege in her palace, launched her into a deadly mix of romance and strategy; a pleasure cruise down the Nile followed, a child, and a trip to Rome, which ended in Cleopatra's flight. After Caesar's brutal murder, she began a nine-year affair with Mark Antony, with whom she had three more children. Antony and Cleopatra's alliance and attempt to forge a new empire spelled both their ends.

The subject of gossip and legend, veneration and speculation in her lifetime, Cleopatra fascinated the world right up to her death. In the 2000 years since, myths about the last Queen of Egypt have been fueled by Shakespeare, Dryden, and Shaw, who put words in her mouth, and by Michelangelo, Delacroix, and Elizabeth Taylor, who put a face to her name. In Cleopatra, Pulitzer prize-winning biographer Stacy Schiff accomplishes a feat that has eluded artists and writers for centuries: capturing fully the operatic life of an exceptionally seductive and powerful woman, whose death ushered in a new world order.

Now for the giveaway!
I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of two audiobooks to give away.

Winners will be subject to the one copy per household, which means if you win the same title on another blog you will receive only one copy of the title.

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. Use a spam-thwarting format such as myemail.address AT gmail DOT com or myemail.address [at] gmail [dot] com.

You will have until January 29th to enter and I will draw for winners on or after January 30th.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Review: The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith

Here is a summary of The Good Husband of Zebra Drive from Alexander McCall Smith's website:

In the eighth installment of Alexander McCall Smith's endlessly enjoyable, bestselling series, the judicious Precious Ramotswe comes to discover what is true, stable, and genuine in an ever-shifting world. There is rarely a dull moment in the life of Precious Ramotswe, and on Zebra Drive and Tlokweng Road many changes are afoot. Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni wants be put in charge of a case involving an errant husband, and Mma Makutsi is considering leaving the agency, taking her near perfect score on the Botswana Secretarial College typing exam with her. Meanwhile, Mma Ramotswe has been asked to investigate a series of unexpected deaths at the hospital in Mochudi. Along the way, she encounters other tricky mysteries, and once again displays her undying love for Botswana, a country of which she is justly proud.

My Review:
This was another heart-warming installment of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series delivered by Alexander McCall Smith.  As all of our favorite characters are settling into their lives with the changes that have taken place in the previous books, many seem to feeling a bit of stagnation from the daily tasks that are becoming monotonous.

The mysteries within these series are usually so minimal, but they really help us to get to know the characters in a personal way.  How they go about solving these capers is really a glimpse into each one's personal being.  Mma Ramotswe is one who just sits back and pays attention while events unfold without making judgements beforehand.  While Mma Makutsi is very judgemental up front and really hasn't figured out how to work with her instincts yet.

The characters are restless in this novel as J.L.B. decides that he has more to offer to the business than being a mechanic and should have a shot at the detective work as well.  Mma Makutsi believes there is much more out in the world to offer her since she did score 97 percent at the secretarial college.  Even one of the apprentices is longing for more out of life and decides to take a chance in the business world.

I've been reading this series with my book club and we've enjoyed every one so far.  These are usually very simple stories with strong moral messages laced within the pages and I do not hesitate to recommend this series to other book clubs.  With themes of pride, obligations, Africa, and just a bit of mystery you may enjoy this book also.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal collection and I read it as a book club selection for my own entertainment.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Winner of Sundays at Tiffany's!

I'm giving a big drum roll for the winner of Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson.  Without further suspense the winner is...........

Congratulations!  I will be contacting you shortly to get your mailing information to forward to the publisher.  Thanks again to Valerie from Hachette for offering this giveaway on my blog.  Stay tuned for more giveaways coming soon!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Final Results for the 100+ Reading Challenge 2010

I was very excited to join this challenge that was hosted by  J. Kaye's Book Blog in 2010.  You may recall that I really didn't intend to read 100 books, but I just wanted to have a complete list of books that I read during the year.  So I only read a total of 51 books throughout the year and I know for many of you that is small bananas, but that is pretty darn good for me!  I'm hoping to read more than that in 2011.

Here is the complete list of books that I read during 2010 and you should be able to click on the title if I have posted my review:

1. The Cost of Dreams by Gary Stelzer--Completed 1/10/2010
2. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman--Completed 1/16/2010
3. Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful by Bon Jovi--Completed 1/17/2010
4. Matrimony by Joshua Henkin--Completed 1/27/2010
5. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley--Completed 2/5/2010
6. Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith--Completed 2/10/2010
7. Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin--Completed 2/22/2010
8. Dear John by Nicholas Sparks--Completed 2/28/2010
9. The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani--Completed 3/2/2010
10. The Circle of Friends Book V: Heather by L. Diane Wolfe--Completed 3/13/2010
11. The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris--Completed 3/14/2010
12. The Sweet By and By by Todd Johnson--Completed 3/28/2010
13. The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini--Completed 3/31/2010
14. Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner--Completed 4/13/2010
15. Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani--Completed 4/17/2010
16. Where Grace Abides by BJ Hoff--Completed 4/20/2010
17. Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge--Completed 4/27/2010
18. The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova--Completed 5/17/2010
19. Black Hills by Dan Simmons--Completed 5/17/2010
20. The Age of Orphans by Laleh Khadivi--Completed 5/28/2010
21. Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons--Completed 6/1/2010
22. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith--Completed 6/2/2010
23. The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen--Completed 6/13/2010
24. Cross Country by James Patterson--Completed 6/19/2010
25. The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks--Completed 6/22/2010
26. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais--Completed 6/30/2010
27. Absolute Power by David Baldacci--Completed 7/20/2010
28. 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan--Completed 7/22/2010
29. Labor Day by Joyce Maynard--Completed 7/27/2010
30. Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch--Completed 8/9/2010
31. Home in Carolina by Sherryl Woods--Completed 8/30/2010
32. The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker--Completed 9/1/2010
33. Finny by Justin Kramon--Completed 9/13/2010
34. The Passage by Justin Cronin--Completed 9/19/2010
35. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood--Completed 9/21/2010
36. Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson--Completed 9/24/2010
37. Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi--Completed 10/5/2010
38. Four to Score by Janet Evanovich--Completed 10/9/2010
39. The Auschwitz Violin by Maria Angels Anglada--Completed 10/12/2010
40. The Island by Elin Hilderbrand--Completed 10/28/2010
41. The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent--Completed 11/1/2010
42. How to be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway--Completed 11/8/2010
43. Private by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro--Completed 11/9/2010
44. Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani--Completed 11/17/2010
45. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith--Completed 11/28/2010
46. The Whole Truth by David Baldacci--Completed 12/2/2010
47. Oogy by Larry Levin--Completed 12/9/2010
48. Drinking Closer to Home by Jessica Anya Blau--Completed 12/11/2010
49. The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund--Completed 12/26/2010 
50. The Swimming Pool by Holly LeCraw--Completed 12/27/2010 
51. Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah--Completed 12/28/2010 

My favorite books out of this list are the following:
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
Ellen Foster by Kaye Gibbons
Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
Finny by Justin Kramon

My favorite audiobooks included:
Worst Case by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks
Absolute Power by David Baldacci

A couple of special interest books that I enjoyed were:
Bon Jovi: When We Were Beautiful
Denise's Daily Dozen by Denise Austin

And then last but not least is the Christmas book that I just completed:
Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

So I think that was a pretty good reading year for me and here's to surpassing 51 books read for 2011!