Friday, June 29, 2012

Audiobook Week: Listen Up!

To finish up Audiobook Week, our host,  Devourer of Books,asks us these questions:

Where do you learn about great audiobook titles? Find reviews? Buy your audiobooks? Share your secrets with the rest of us!

A few of my favorite audiobooks were recommended from my friend Miranda.  I can tell you that I probably would not have listened to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins or Still Missing by Chevy Stevens without her consistently telling me, "You need to listen to this book!"  So Thank You Miranda!

I'm always reading audiobook reviews of other bloggers too.  Since most of the blogs that I read give such honest reviews about the books they read and listen to, I find this to be a very reliable source for me.

I don't really have to buy any audiobooks as my local library has an excellent selection.  Audiobook Jukebox is also an excellent resource that has been very generous with their review copies.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Review and Giveaway: The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

Here is a summary of the book from the Simon and Schuster website:

Together for over a decade, Kyra and David Winter are happier than they ever thought they could be. They have a comfortable home, stable careers, and a young son, Michael, who they love more than anything. Yet because of their complicated histories, Kyra and David have always feared that this domestic bliss couldn’t last - that the life they created was destined to be disrupted. And on one perfectly average summer day, it is: Michael disappears from his own backyard.

The only question is whose past has finally caught up with them: David feels sure that Michael was taken by his troubled ex-wife, while Kyra believes the kidnapper must be someone from her estranged family, someone she betrayed years ago.

As the Winters embark on a journey of time and memory to find Michael, they will be forced to admit these suspicions, revealing secrets about themselves they’ve always kept hidden. But they will also have a chance to discover that it’s not too late to have the family they’ve dreamed of; that even if the world is full of risks, as long as they have hope, the future can bloom.

Lyrical, wise, and witty,
The Winters in Bloom is Lisa Tucker’s most optimistic work to date. This enchanting, life-affirming story will charm readers and leave them full of wonder at the stubborn strength of the human heart.

My Review:
This book had me wrapped up in the characters from the very beginning.  When David and Kyra's son, Michael disappears, both contemplate who from their past could have done this to them.  They have taken every precaution to keep their little boy safe, only to have him taken in the blink of an eye.

Kyra has been struggling with her problems since her mother walked out on the family when she was a young girl.  Kyra became closer to her sister Amy, but somehow failed to realize that the day her mother left, is the day that a piece of Amy died also.  They went through the regular motions of high school and boyfriends, until Amy veered off-track when they left for college.  Amy made all the wrong choices, from drugs, alcohol, and men, until she decides to desert her sister in search of something that will help her feel whole.

David seemed to have a good childhood, although he was always a bit on the emotional side.  He found himself attracted to girls that seemed wounded and frail.  This led him to his first marriage that ended in a disaster that left him shattered and uncertain of trusting anyone in his life again.

When young Michael disappears David and Kyra both realize that they must confront their pasts to get the answers they need.  Tucker did a wonderful job of bringing these character's pasts to life for us and revealing the situation in a way that made me crave for this book when I wasn't able to read it.  With themes of love, resentment, and forgiveness, I feel that this would  be great to read for leisure or  as a book club discussion.  I highly recommend this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Now for the Giveaway!
I was lucky enough to receive a hardcover copy of this book also, so that is what I will be giving away.
To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada.

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.
Good Luck Everyone!

**This giveaway is closed**

Monday, June 25, 2012

Audiobook Week: My Audiobook Year

This is my first time participating in Audiobook Week, but I figure since I love listening to audiobooks, why not?  This event is being hosted over at Devourer of Books, so you can pop over there to find out what is going on for the week.  This week is going to get pretty busy for me with my son getting married on Saturday, but I can at least participate in today's discussion.

Here is our topic for today:
Are you new to audiobooks in the last year? Have you been listening to them forever but discovered something new this year? Favorite titles? New times/places to listen? This is your chance to introduce yourself and your general listening experience. 

I love audiobooks!  I started listening to audiobooks about five years ago when one day I finally got tired of listening to the same junk on the radio.  We moved about ten miles out of town so I was finding myself in the car for at least a half hour a day.  One day when I stopped at the local library I noticed the nice audiobook section they had and my love for listening to books had  bloomed!

Here are some of my favorite audiobooks.  You should be able to click on the title if you would like to read my review:

Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Bone Man's Daughters by Ted Dekker

You may have been wondering why you don't see Mockingjay on this list yet.  Well, I've been holding off on listening to this one because I just don't want it to end! 

I know that many of you listen to audiobooks on your Ipod, but I have decided that since I only listen to them in my car I would stick with the archaic cd's.  This has on occasion been a point of frustration for me as I have checked out a few audio's from the library that were so badly scratched and damaged that I missed most of the story.

Since my cd player in my car works properly this is the mode that I prefer to use right now.  It does act funny every now and then, as it doesn't always want to eject my cd's.  So I am waiting for the day that I will not be able to just pop a cd in there anymore.  I have an Ipod, and know how to put audiobooks on it, but I just don't want to use that for audiobooks.  It already takes me long enough to get in and out of my car with all of my junk, and adding an Ipod to my routine will just slow me down.  I have a feeling I will be forced to do this in the near future though.

So what are your thoughts on audiobooks?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Review: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

Here is a summary of Heart of the Matter from Emily Giffin's website:

Tessa Russo is the mother of two young children and the wife of a renowned pediatric surgeon. Despite her mother’s warnings, Tessa has recently given up her career to focus on her family and the pursuit of domestic happiness. From the outside, she seems destined to live a charmed life. 

Valerie Anderson is an attorney and single mother to six-year-old Charlie---a boy who has never known his father. After too many disappointments, she has given up on romance---and even, to some degree, friendships---believing that it is always safer not to expect too much.

Although both women live in the same Boston suburb, the two have relatively little in common aside from a fierce love for their children. But one night, a tragic accident causes their lives to converge in ways no one could have imagined.

In alternating, pitch-perfect points of view, Emily Giffin creates a moving, luminous story of good people caught in untenable circumstances. Each being tested in ways they never thought possible. Each questioning everything they once believed. And each ultimately discovering what truly matters most. 

My Review:
I wasn't sure what to expect before starting to read Heart of the Matter by Giffin.  This is the first book I have read by this author and I think I stereotyped her as one of those fluffy romance creators, when this book turned out to be so much more.  Giffin puts us in the middle of a very unfortunate situation that spins out of control.

Tessa is one of our main characters who seems to have the perfect life with her plastic surgeon husband and two young kids. When she started to have children, Tessa decided to give up her career so she could focus on being a full-time Mom.  She loves her children but knows she falls short compared to the perfect neighborhood mothers that bring the perfect snacks to school and throw the ultimate kid parties.

Valerie is a single mom struggling to have a successful career and also be a good parent.  Her son Charlie attends a private school that is full of over-privileged children.  She doesn't believe in the lifestyles that most of the families from his school lead, but she finds a way to allow acceptance, knowing that Charlie needs to have friends.  When Valerie lets Charlie to spend the night at his friend's birthday party, she cannot foresee how events will spin out of control, and change her priorities and outlook on life.

I think many people may look at Giffin's books and feel that they are just fluffy women's fiction.  Personally, I felt this book was much more than that.  Giffin gave us a front row view of a very difficult situation from opposing perspectives.  After about the first seventy-five pages I admit that I didn't like where the story was going, but did not intend on putting the book down for any reason.  With themes of love, forgiveness, parenthood, and honesty, I think this book is going to make a great discussion for my book group and would also recommend it as a nice summer read.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

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

I've been learning a few interesting Yiddish words while reading an American Family by Peter Lefcourt:

Golem:  Jewish Folklore, a figure artificially constructed in the form of a human being and endowed with life.

Here is how golem was used on page 86:
And to people who were both old and Jewish he became a sort of golem, returned to earth to avenge two thousand years worth of persecution and indignity. 

Tsuris:  (Yiddish) aggravating trouble.

Here is how tsuris was used on page 98:
And the one thing that Meyer Perl did not want at this stage of his life was tsuris

This is a fun book to read so far as the author does a wonderful job of setting up the time period.  He creates some great pictures for us to imagine! 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Mailbox Monday-June 18

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive.  Different bloggers now have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time.  This month you can see what everyone received over at Burton Book Review.

This audiobook showed up in my mailbox:
More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi

I think this will be the next audio that I will listen to.  This will be my first experience with Vincenzi and I'm excited to get started on it!

Well, my son's wedding is less than two weeks away.  Sigh.  I'm going to get my hair cut and colored this morning so there should be no roots apparent for the special day!  Have a great Monday everyone!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Winner of my BEA Giveaway!

My apologies to those of you that have been chomping at the bit waiting for me to announce the winner of the giveaway!  Life just doesn't get any easier-no rest for the wicked I guess!

So the winner of my giveaway that will get to choose between 3 books is......

Congratulations!  I will be emailing you shortly to find out which book you would like and to also get your mailing information.  Thanks for stopping by everyone, and maybe, just maybe, a few more of us will be able to make it to the BEA next year!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Audiobook Review: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Title:  Catching Fire

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Narrator:  Carolyn McCormick

Unabridged Length:  11 hrs, 41 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

Against all odds, Katniss has won the Hunger Games. She and fellow District 12 tribute Peeta Mellark are miraculously still alive. Katniss should be relieved, happy even. After all, she has returned to her family and longtime friend, Gale. Yet nothing is the way Katniss wishes it to be. Gale holds her at an icy distance. Peeta has turned his back on her completely. And there are whispers of a rebellion against the Capitol-- a rebellion that Katniss and Peeta may have helped create.

Much to her shock, Katniss has fueled an unrest she's afraid she cannot stop. And what scares her even more is that she's not entirely convinced she should try. As time draws near for Katniss and Peeta to visit the districts on the Capitol's cruel Victory Tour, the stakes are higher than ever. If they can't prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that they are lost in their love for each other, the consequences will be horrifying.

In Catching Fire, the second novel of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins continues the story of Katniss Everdeen, testing her more than ever before... and surprising readers at every turn.

My Review:
In the second book of this trilogy Collins takes us back to Panem adding a whole new set of problems to the lives of Peeta and Katniss, who were the winners of the last Hunger Games.  One would think that life would be easy for our new victors, but the Capitol is doing everything in their power to be sure they don't step out of line.
I think it is during the Victory Tour when Katniss first notices the additional security detail assigned to her entire group.  She becomes even more alarmed when spectators are reprimanded or even murdered for speaking out during the tour.  She only knows that she needs her behavior to be acceptable by the Capitol, so she acts appropriately, even with the rumors of rebellion  becoming more believable.

Tension builds up in this audiobook as the next Hunger Games grow closer.  Every twenty-five years marks the Quarter Quell games, and this year is time for the next Quarter Quell.  The game makers strive to make the Quell games as memorable and action packed as possible.  The Capitol can change any rules they want for these special games.  During a past Quell they even had each District provide double the amount of tributes so the blood bath was that much more intense.  Let me tell you that when the requirements of the current Quell were announced, my jaw dropped as I sat in my car listening to it.

I'm not going to tell you any more about this book, except that it was awesome.  With themes of survival and friendship once again, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat or in my case, gripping the steering wheel.  If you read The Hunger Games, you will not want to miss this next novel.  I'm sure you could read this one without reading The Hunger Games first, but I do think you will have a much more gratifying experience by starting with the first book before reading Catching Fire.  I highly recommend this book!

My Rating:  5/5

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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-June 12

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 An American Family by Peter Lefcourt:
As he listened to Lyndon Johnson tell his countrymen that he was officially changing the name of NASA's Cape Canaveral space center to the John F. Kennedy Space Center, all Jackie Perl could think of was the late Detroit field goal that had kept the Packers from covering the spread.  Now he'd have to hit Mickey up for a grand.

pg. 19

Monday, June 11, 2012

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

Here is what I finished reading on my Kindle:
I decided to read The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker since I've had the ARC for quite some time.  I really enjoyed this story that got me caught up in the drama of the characters lives.

What I'm reading now:
Since I am part of a blog tour for An American Family by Peter Lefcourt in July I decided to pic this one up next.  I haven't had much time for reading over the last couple of days so I really am not far enough along to form an opinion yet.

This may change, but as of right now I am planning to read A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama.  I just love reading novels that give me a glimpse into another culture!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post: Paula Paul, author of Sins of the Empress

I'm pleased to welcome Paula Paul to Jo-Jo Loves to Read today!  You can read all about Sins of the Empress here, but today I asked Paula to tell me about her idea of a perfect summer evening.  From her guest post we get snippets from her book that give us just enough to want to read more!

Here is what Paula has to say:
  A Russian summer night stays only long enough to shake the stars out of its hair before the gaudy sun returns and chases it away.  Yet we were able to make the most of the night’s short visit, Greshenka and I, winding our way, candles in hand, down the long and sultry outdoor passage to the royal baths.
            That’s the opening paragraph for Chapter 34 in my novel Sins of the Empress.  When I was asked to write a guest blog about my idea of a perfect summer evening, those are the words that came to mind.  You’ve just witnessed Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and her lover, Grigory Potempkin, whom she called Greshenka, on a summer evening at the palace in St. Petersburg in the 1770s.  They will make love in the palace bath house on this night and on many more summer nights.
            Later, on another summer night, they will steal away by boat and carriage, traveling separately to meet eventually in a tiny chapel in the country side.  There, a priest will perform a secret marriage ceremony.  Afterward, Catherine will return to her throne and Greshenka to his regiment because to allow their marriage to become public knowledge would spell disaster for both of them.
            I have to confess that my idea of a perfect summer evening is much less interesting—a gathering of family and friends on our patio.  Good food, a little wine to sip later while we talk, with the laughter of children coming to us from the lawn.
            Ah, but Catherine’s summer gatherings were much more interesting.  She hosted outdoor banquets, not just hamburgers on the patio table with the neighbors.  This one, a mechanism in one of her schemes, occurred when she was still a mere duchess:
            I was dressed as Helen of Troy in a slender gossamer gown…The weather was perfect—balmy with a slight breeze but not enough to disturb the elaborate hair styles most of the women wore. A trumpet herald called us to dine. . .  The highlight of the evening began when we heard music from a distance, and the guests were compelled to turn toward the grand avenue leading from the palace grounds to my garden. . .Twenty oxen appeared at the end of the path, each ox festooned with garlands of fresh flowers.  They pulled a large wooden cart I’d had designed by Antonio Rinaldi.  The cart was enormous—large enough to hold an orchestra of sixty musicians and singers while twenty costumed male and female dancers cavorted around it as it moved. I’d had the music and songs composed especially for the event. . .(Later,) another trumpeter, this one dressed as a mountebank in flamboyant colors, called everyone to the opposite end of the garden where two tents had been set up, one to dispense free lottery tickets and the other to redeem the tickets for porcelain, flowers, gloves, ribbons, fans, and other finery,
            It just never occurred to me to have twenty oxen pull a cart full of singers and musicians surrounded by cavorting dancers down my street and into my backyard.  I’m afraid it would frighten Sydney, the two-year-old next door.
            I also confess that I have never spent a summer night as Catherine did on this night when she seized the throne:
            I rode out of St. Petersburg leading 18,000 guardsmen toward Peterhoff and Oraninbaum.  We had hardly left the edge of the city when we saw horsemen ahead of us. Long before I could discern a face, my instincts informed me that it could be non other than a contingent of Peter’s guards. . . (The head guardsman) raised his sword and told me he would rally troops against me.
            With a glance over my shoulder at the 18,000 troops who followed me, I said, “You are free to try.”
            I’ve never spent a single summer evening leading 18,000 troops into battle to seize a throne, although I did once chase away a big dog who was snarling at my little mutt.  But that was mid-day in winter, not a balmy summer evening
The truth is, my ideal summer evening is perfectly boring, but I will get up the next morning and create any number of exciting or sexy or poignant or hair-raising scenes on my laptop and hope that people will read them.  You could start with Sins of the Empress.
**End of guest post**

Thanks for stopping by today Paula!  I have to admit that I would not want to spend a summer evening leading troops into battle, but it sure would make an interesting journal entry.

Paula Paul is the award-winning author of 25 novels for both children and adults.  She also had a career as a newspaper journalist and has won several state and national awards in that field.  A native Texan, she grew up on a cotton farm/ranch in Bailey County, a county named for her ancestor who died at the Alamo. She loves playing the piano and learning how to or about just about anything. Oh, and big family get-togethers with her two children and their families.  She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with her husband.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA Giveaway!

In celebration of the 2012 Armchair BEA I have decided to have a giveaway that allows the winner to choose between the three books shown below.  These are gently used copies from my personal collection.

Here are the books the winner can choose from:

 Night Road by Kristin Hannah

 Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos

Now for the giveaway!
To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada.

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.

This is going to be a short contest as it will end on Saturday, June 9th.  I will draw a winner on or after June 10th.

Good luck everyone!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Armchari BEA: A Few Things About Me!

I really wanted to head to the BEA in New York City this year, but with my son getting married at the end of June, I knew it would not be a possibility.  So it looks like this is as close as I will get!  That's ok, because now I can start planning for next year.

Design Credit: Emily
of Emily's Reading Room

Armchair BEA was created for us book lovers who are not able to actually attend the event, but still have a good time celebrating our love of books together.

So here are a few things about me:

1.  Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?

A. Well, my name is actually Joanne and I live in Northern Wisconsin.   My four year blogiversary will be in October-Wow, time flies fast!  I basically started blogging as a creative outlet for me to share some of the books I read.  I also belong to a wonderful book club, but I wanted something beyond that.

2.  What are you currently reading, or what is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

A.  My favorite book so far this year would have to be The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran.  My favorite audiobook so far is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  These books are obviously on opposite sides of the genre spectrum, but they are sure awesome!

3.  Tell us one non-book-related thing that everyone reading your blog may not know about you.

A.  Did anyone say Doritos?  I have to admit that I have an unhealthy love for these cheesy tortilla chips!  If there is an open bag near me, it won't be there for long!

4.   Where do you see your blog in five years?

A.  My blog has already changed so much!  I went from posting every day to maybe posting as little as twice a week.  Since I've been trying to do some writing myself, I may try to implement some of my work into my blog.  We will just have to wait and see where it takes me!

5.  If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?

A. I would love to sit down for tea with Mma Ramotswe, the lead character from The Number One Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith!  She is depicted as such a loving and genuinely delightful woman that I would love the opportunity to share bits of her wisdom with me.

 Thanks for stopping by today to find out a little more about me!   Don't forget to stop over at some other blogs to see what they had to share!