Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review: Comfort and Joy by Kristin Hannah

Here is a summary of Comfort and Joy from Kristin Hannah's website:

In this modern-day fairy tale, New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah gives us a very special gift: the heartwarming story of a woman at a crossroads, caught between two lives, who finds a second chance at happiness.

Joy Candellaro used to love Christmas more than any other time of the year. Now, as the holiday approaches, she finds herself at loose ends. Recently divorced and estranged from her sister, she can't summon the old enthusiasm for celebrating. So without telling anyone, she buys a ticket and boards a plane bound for the rural Northwest.

Yet Joy's best-laid plans go terribly awry. The plane crashes deep in the darkness of a forest. Miraculously, Joy and her fellow passengers walk away from the wreckage as the plane explodes. There, amid the towering trees, Joy makes a bold and desperate decision to leave her ordinary life behind and embark on an adventure…just for the holidays.

Daniel O'Shea has returned to the small town of Rain Valley, following the death of his ex-wife. Now he is a single father facing his son's first Christmas without a mother. Six-year-old Bobby isn't making it easy-the boy has closed himself off from the world, surrounding himself with imaginary friends.

When Joy and Bobby meet, they form an instant bond. Thrown together by fate, these wounded souls will be touched by the true spirit of Christmas and remember what it means to be a family.

Then a dramatic turn of events shows Joy the price of starting over. On a magical Christmas Eve she will come face-to-face with a startling truth. Now she must decide: In a time of impossible dreams and unexpected chances, can she find the faith to reach for the love she has found…and the new life only she believes in? 

My Review:
I know the Holiday season is over but you might want to keep this one in mind for next year!  The only Holiday themed book that I seem to read during the Christmas season is the one that is selected by my book club.  This genre has been hit or miss with our group so after reading one holiday book I am usually ready to move onto something that offers more intellectual stimulation.  So you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was to find that I absolutely loved this book!

Life hasn't been very good for Joy considering that her sister is marrying her ex-husband.  When Joy decides that she just can't take any more she flees the world she knows before she can receive more bad news, by hopping on the next plane out of town.  Little does she know that this plane ride will impact her life even more.

When events take a life-threatening turn, Joy finds herself plunged into the lives of a young boy and his father that appear to be just as lost in this world as she is.  Could it be that she needs this father and son as much as they need her so they can all move on with their lives?

I really don't want to give any more of this book away as it was such a magical Christmas story that reached deep in my heart.  I can honestly tell you that it was thoroughly enjoyed by all of the ladies in my book club, and that doesn't happen often!  With themes of love, forgiveness, believing, and Christmas miracles, I highly recommend this Holiday themed book.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  I purchased this e-book from Amazon and read it as a book club selection for my own entertainment.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Java With Jo

It seems that life has been one big whirlwind for me lately!  My last day at the small private college where I currently work is this Thursday, and although I am looking forward to my new job, I will definitely miss working with students.  It's exciting to think that I will finally be able to utilize all of my skills during my regular workday. 

I must say that with all of the excitement in my life that February is not turning out to be a very good reading month for me at all!  I'm currently reading Nefertiti as my book club selection and it seems that when I sit down to read I am constantly interrupted!  I am loving the story but I really need to be able to sit down and read more than five pages at a time.  I'm looking forward to discussing this one with my group next week.

If I hadn't lost my sister to her colon problems almost two years ago she would be turning 35 years old this Saturday.  Gosh I really miss her!  Life can be so lonely when your siblings and parents are no longer with you and I am so grateful for the wonderful women that are in my life now.  My daughter is growing into such a wonderful young lady and when I don't think I could be any more proud of her she does something that amazingly blows me away!   And my girlfriends have helped me fill a void in my life that makes me shutter to think of what life would be like without them.  So Thank You to all the special ladies in my life!

I have also recently realized that because of my job change and not having enough vacation time accrued yet I will not be able to attend the BEA in New York again this year!  Next summer my son is getting married so I won't be able to go then either, so now it probably isn't feasible until, that's a long way off!

So that is all the news in my life right now...happy reading everyone!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday-Feb 21

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 Library of Clean Reads so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

So this is what was in my mailbox last week:
Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran

And then last weekend you may recall that I had a little shopping trip with the ladies.  We happened to stop into Half-Price Books and I really did not have any intention of purchasing books that day....well I only came out with two so that's not so bad right?  Here is what I got from there:
The Queen's Bastard by Robin Maxwell

Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

So those are my latest book acquisitions.  Did you get any new books in your house?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Current Giveaways!!!

These are some giveaways that you might be interested in this week.  If I missed posting about your contest please feel free to leave the link in the comment section below.

Savvy Verse and Wit is giving away Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran--Contest ends 2/19.

Historically Obsessed is giving away Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran--Contest ends 2/22.

Pudgy Penguin Perusals is giving away Haunting Jasmine by Anjali Banerjee--Contest ends 2/25.

Passages to the Past is giving away The Second Duchess by Elizabeth Loupas--Contest ends 2/26.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away When We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt--Contest ends 2/26.

Laura's Reviews is giving away Mr. Darcy's Secret by Jane Odiwe--Contest ends 3/4.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Winner of Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff

I'm very excited to announce that the winner of the Cleopatra: A Life audiobook by Stacy Schiff is

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

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Postcard Killers by James Patterson and Liza Marklund

Here is a summary of The Postcard Killers from the Hachette website:

Paris is stunning in the summerNYPD detective Jacob Kanon is on a tour of Europe's most gorgeous cities. But the sights aren't what draw him--he sees each museum, each cathedral, and each cafe through the eyes of his daughter's killer.

The killing is simply marvelous

Kanon's daughter, Kimmy, and her boyfriend were murdered while on vacation in Rome. Since then, young couples in Paris, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, and Stockholm have been found dead. Little connects the murders, other than a postcard to the local newspaper that precedes each new victim.

Wish you were here

Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson, who has just received a postcard in Stockholm--and they think they know where the next victims will be. With relentless logic and unstoppable action,
The Postcard Killers may be James Patterson's most vivid and compelling thriller yet.

My Review:
This novel by Patterson made quite an action packed audiobook for me.  There are multiple narrators telling us this disturbing story including Erik Singer, Katherine Kellgren, and Reg Rogers.  Jacob Kanon takes it upon himself to track down these killers all over the globe after they claim his daughter as one of their victims. 

Jacob finds that he needs to enlist the assistance of Dessie, a foreign reporter.  After they spend time together on this quest for justice a relationship does bloom and she helps him to recover from the loss of his daughter.  After thoroughly investigating several crime scenes they conclude that the killers seem to be trying to duplicate famous works of art.  After making this realization they are led to the killers who happen to be a brother/sister team with a very disturbing relationship.

Jacob and Dessie are confident that all is safe after the Rudolph's are locked away, but before too long another murder takes place.  Senior officials decide that a mistake has been made with the arrest and allow the Rudolph's to go free.  This will lead our investigators to find that this crime spree is much larger than just the two individuals that were suspected and they must figure out how to put a stop to it.

I did enjoy this audiobook and as I said earlier it was definitely action packed.  There were plenty of sound effects, especially at the end that had me jumping in my seat.  If you are a Patterson fan, you probably won't want to miss this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me from Anna from Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

You can check out more great book reviews over at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-Feb. 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!

This week my teaser is from Nefertiti by Michelle Moran:
"I won't be anything less, Mutny.  I won't be some lesser wife thrown into a palace that Pharaoh comes to visit only every two seasons."

Pg. 20&21

Monday, February 14, 2011

Java With Jo!

Life has been so exciting for me that I haven't even been able to post daily on my blog, so my apologies everyone!  A couple of months ago I had indicated the frustrations that I have been feeling with my current job, and low and behold, I have been offered a position with another organization!  This is an Accountant position through our County government so I am very excited for this opportunity to start a new chapter in my life. 

I will be starting my new position on March 1st, and I am anticipating that I will not be able to post daily until I get used to my new work schedule and job duties.  Since I will have off on Mondays I think I will use those mornings for getting blog posts and book reviews done.  That is my plan now, but we will see how it develops.

I had a great weekend in the Twin Cities with friends and family!  We were able to bust my daughter out of her on-campus apartment and she was able to enjoy all of the shopping, eating, and card-playing that took place over the weekend.  Thanks to a great bunch of ladies I'm confident in saying that a good time was had by all!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Get Modern with CSN Stores!

Every time that I go to the CSN Stores sites I am amazed at the variety of products that they have to offer.  Quite often I look around my house and realize that a lot of my furnishings are outdated.  This is where the modern decor that is offered by CSN comes in handy!  By replacing just a couple of items in your home with a modern product you can give an entire new look to a room and make it appear more up-to-date. 

I will be reviewing one of their products in the very near future so I urge you to stay tuned.  As I struggle with trying to pick an item to review I decided that it is time to get with the times a bit and finally get a new toaster!  I'm sure the toaster that we have is at least 15 years old, so lets retire that beast and learn to make toast the modern way!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Audiobook Review: Oogy by Larry Levin

Here is a summary of Oogy from the Hachette website:

In the bestselling tradition of Rescuing Sprite comes the story of a puppy brought back from the brink of death, and the family he adopted.

In 2002, Larry Levin and his twin sons, Dan and Noah, took their terminally ill cat to the Ardmore Animal Hospital outside Philadelphia to have the beloved pet put to sleep. What would begin as a terrible day suddenly got brighter as the ugliest dog they had ever seen--one who was missing an ear and had half his face covered in scar tissue--ran up to them and captured their hearts. The dog had been used as bait for fighting dogs when he was just a few months old. He had been thrown in a cage and left to die until the police rescued him and the staff at Ardmore Animal Hospital saved his life. The Levins, whose sons are themselves adopted, were unable to resist Oogy's charms, and decided to take him home.

Heartwarming and redemptive, OOGY is the story of the people who were determined to rescue this dog against all odds, and of the family who took him home, named him "Oogy" (an affectionate derivative of ugly), and made him one of their own.

My Review:
I absolutely loved listening to this audiobook that was read by Joe Barrett.  I listen to my audiobooks in the car and when I walked in the door at night after listening to this book I just wanted to give my dog a big hug for being such a special part of our lives!

Oogy is obviously a very special dog that was introduced to the Levin family during a time of need.  The ugliest dog that they could ever imagine seemed to find a place in the family's hearts immediately.  They adopted Oogy as just a puppy thinking he was going to grow to about 50 pounds, but not realizing that he was a rare breed of dog not very common to the U.S., he grew much larger than anticipated.  Oogy was just a few months old when he was adopted and to think that he was mangled to disfigurement from being used as a bait dog for dogfighting is just heartbreaking.  So be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged if you decide to pick up this book!

Knowing the pain and hurt that Oogy had already endured, the Levin family was very hesitant to enforce obedience with Oogy within the home.  I can hardly blame them, as I probably would have acted the same way.  This did create quite the challenges for the family as Oogy basically found himself running the household.  It wasn't uncommon to have Oogy climb on the dinner table during mealtime or even raid the refrigerator when no-one was looking. 

The lives of the Levin family obviously changed to help Oogy settle into their household.  As Oogy became such a special member of their family they wanted to protect Oogy and keep him safe just as much as that dog wanted to protect them.  When Oogy started to face some medical challenges it was heartbreaking for the family to watch Oogy in such physical pain as he seemed to lose his spirit and fun personality.  They worked together to get Oogy healthy again and so his happy demeanor eventually returned.

Once again I can't help but say that I loved listening to this book!  Learning about how Oogy was treated as such a young puppy was very hard to listen to, but I think it is also important.  I have often heard about how inhumane dogfighting is but I guess I have been sheltered as to what the extent of the abuse actually is.  If you are looking for a non-fiction book that will bring you into the life of a family as they take in this special dog and let him become one of them, then this book is for you.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me from Anna at Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mailbox Monday-Feb. 7

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 Library of Clean Reads so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

Here is what was in my mailbox recently:
Hidden Wives by Claire Avery

I'm a fan of the Big Love HBO series so I am looking forward to reading this one soon!  Were there any surprises in your mailbox last week?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

One More Time....GO PACK GO!!!!!!

Well the day is upon us!  In just a few hours will be the kickoff for the Superbowl.  Before I get ready to sit back and watch this evenings game, which I'm sure will be quite eventful, I just felt the need to share one last item!  Here is to the Green and Gold anticipating bringing a trophy back to Title Town!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Java With Jo...Go Pack Go!

Do you really think that I could live in Wisconsin and not post something about the Packers?  You can just feel the excitement everywhere you go in our little town in Northern Wisconsin.  As we anxiously await Sunday's game we will be planning our menus, grocery lists, and decorations as we prepare to watch our team play in the biggest game of the year!  How many potlucks and tailgating parties do you think can be held in between now and Sunday?  Plenty!  I guess there is even going to be a Packer Parade down our Main Street on Saturday afternoon! 

You may recall that on New Year's Eve my son became engaged to a lovely young lady.  Well here is a picture of the happy Cheeseheads at Lambeau Field earlier in the season!
I have a feeling that I will be posting more about the Green and Gold before Sunday's game, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Current Giveaways!!!

Here are some great giveaways that caught my eye recently.  If I missed posting about your contest please feel free to leave the link in the comment section below.

The Eclectic Reader is giving away Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran--Contest ends 2/7.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away Lily of the Nile by Stephanie Dray--Contest ends 2/12.

Book Bird Dog is giving away The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli--Contest ends 2/15.

Good luck everyone!