While some of the books I review on my site are furnished by the publishers, authors, or publicists for the purpose of review all of my reviews are truthful, honest, and my sincere opinion.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Review: Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog & the Woman She Rescued by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher

Thank you to the Blogging For Books group for sending me a copy to review.

About the Book

Laurie had her own shattered dreams before she came to work at Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch—the ranch of rescued dreams—where broken horses and broken children encounter healing every day. Reaching out to save a dog in need, Laurie soon realized that the dog was rescuing her.

An inspiring true story told through the engaging voice of Kim Meeder, Blind Hope reveals poignant life lessons Laurie experienced from her ailing, yet courageous canine friend. Despite the blindness of her dog—and her own heart—Laurie uncovered what she really needed most: authentic love, unconditional trust, and true acceptance, faults and all.

As Laurie and her dog, Mia, both learned to follow the lead of a master they couldn’t see, Laurie discoverd the transforming power of God’s selfless love even for imperfect and selfish people—and she experienced a greater love than she has ever known.

“Love is a bridge that stands firm through difficulties and connects one heart directly to another, not because of how it looks, but because of what it is.” --Kim Meeder, Blind Hope

My Review

Since I love animals I was again destined to fall in love with this story. And since one of my dogs just happens to be an Aussie I was even more attached to Mia's story.

Not a whole lot of information was given about Mia's background, other than she was malnourished and was living under a rusted out car. But the story doesn't really need her background info as she creates such a great story without it.

Mia could easily have been put to sleep, and even though Laurie's intentions in saving Mia might not have been honorable at first Mia soon changed her heart. I've always been a firm believer that dogs are smarter than we give them credit for and if we just "listen" to what they have to tell us that we will be amazed. Laurie and Mia's story just strengthens that belief.

Mia, who despite all her problems, was just a dog who loved her owner and was happy to be alive. Many times throughout the book it is mentioned how she is so content with her life the way it is, and that her faith that her master will do no wrong by her is enough to keep her content. Laurie, who had struggled with her faith in God learns from Mia how to truly have faith and live in the light of God.

So while this is a story about a dog it is also a story about faith and finding your path to God. It is really inspirational. I cried many many times reading this one. I think the struggles that Laurie went through are not uncommon to struggles that many of us have gone through at one point in our lives. Her connection with Mia helps her to see how her relationship with God is not unlike Mia's relationship with her.

Seeing Laurie change was inspiring, and seeing how Mia is able to persevere through her obstacles is even more inspiring to me. And while I've said it before it is worth saying again: even though I know not all abused/abandoned animals can be saved it is so refreshing to read about one with a happy ending.

Blind Hope: An Unwanted Dog and the Woman She Rescued

Review: Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love by Larry Levin

Thank you to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this book.

About the Book

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

Being an animal lover I'm a little biased to how great this book was.... But I think it'd take a person without a heart to be at least a little touched by the story of Oogy.

Oogy is a rescue dog who was horribly disfigured, apparently as a bait dog to train fighting dogs. The poor dog suffered through his pain and despite the odds was nursed back to health by a vet who did all Oogy's work for free!

Oogy's story is full of mischievousness, love, compassion, and sadness. As Levin explains what he's learned of Oogy and how he got to be where he was I cried. Animal abuse is so heart-wrenching. And while I know they can't all be saved it warms my heart to read stories like this, ones with happy endings.

Oogy's antics are sometimes hilarious, as I can see my dogs trying some of the same things (although I must admit they're not yet smart enough to open the refrigerator, but I wouldn't put it past them). The story doesn't just follow Oogy but it follows the entire family as they grow as a unit.

This was a very quick read. I finished it in one setting and it only took me two hours. It's so well written that I could envision exactly what Levin is describing (although the pictures at the beginnings of chapters did help me to build an image in my mind).

Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love

Review: Just After Sunsent: Stories by Stephen King

Thanks to Book Cove Reviews for sending me a copy of this to review.

About the Book

Stephen King -- who has written more than fifty books, dozens of number one New York Times bestsellers, and many unforgettable movies -- delivers an astonishing collection of short stories, his first since Everything's Eventual six years ago. As guest editor of the bestselling Best American Short Stories 2007, King spent over a year reading hundreds of stories. His renewed passion for the form is evident on every page of Just After Sunset. The stories in this collection have appeared in The New Yorker, Playboy, McSweeney's, The Paris Review, Esquire, and other publications.
Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating -- and then terrifying -- journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, "The Gingerbread Girl" is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable -- and resourceful -- as Audrey Hepburn's character in Wait Until Dark. In "Ayana," a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, "N.," which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient's irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside...or keep the world from falling victim to it.

Just After Sunset -- call it dusk, call it twilight, it's a time when human intercourse takes on an unnatural cast, when nothing is quite as it appears, when the imagination begins to reach for shadows as they dissipate to darkness and living daylight can be scared right out of you. It's the perfect time for Stephen King.

My Review

After reading the fist few stories in this one I was thinking to myself "King has lost his touch". The first few stories were so predictable. But then it started getting really good. There were only a handful of the stories in this one that I didn't love. It wasn't that they were bad, they were just predictable.

I think my favorite stories were Stationary Bike, The Things They Left Behind, and N. I really think that they could have been turned into full-length novels. But they were still really good as short stories. N kind of had a IT feel to it. The Things They Left Behind was just weird, but in a good way. Stationary Bike was also weird. I thought it would be kind of like Thinner when I started reading it.

I usually don't like to read short stories, as I don't get enough time to connect with the characters and it's hard for me to get a real feel for things. With a few exceptions in this collected that was not the case. King's ability to write a short story that doesn't seem abrupt was great. And the characters were all fairly well-rounded.

This one did take me a while to read. Although at 539 pages it didn't take me nearly as long as I thought it would. The short stories were fairly fast paced and so they lent themselves to be read very fast.

Overall it was pretty good. The preview of Under The Dome in the back has me chomping at the bit to get my hands on that one.

Just After Sunset: Stories

Review: The Lion by Nelson DeMille

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Books for sending me a review copy of this title.

About the Book

In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The Lion's Game, John Corey, former NYPD Homicide detective and special agent for the Anti-Terrorist Task Force, is back. And, unfortunately for Corey, so is Asad Khalil, the notorious Libyan terrorist otherwise known as "The Lion." Last we heard from him, Khali had claimed to be defecting to the US only to unleash the most horrific reign of terrorism ever to occur on American soil. While Corey and his partner, FBI agent Kate Mayfield, chased him across the country, Khalil methodically eliminated his victims one by one and then disappeared without a trace.

Now, years later, Khalil has returned to America to make good on his threats and take care of unfinished business. "The Lion" is a killing machine once again loose in America with a mission of revenge, and John Corey will stop at nothing to achieve his own goal -- to find and kill Khahil.

You can get more information about The Lion by visiting Hachette's website.

You can visit Nelson DeMille's website.

You can also "Like" The Lion on Facebook.

My Review

This was a great story! I wasn't instantly drawn into it, but once it got going I couldn't pull myself away from it.

I hadn't read the first in this series, so there was a bit that I think I was missing from this one, but I don't think it deterred from the story at all. I was able to piece together what had happened in the first book and pieced together the back story.

I've never read DeMille before, but I'd heard great things about his writing. I wasn't disappointed! There is quite a bit of wit in the writing. I don't know if it was just the nature of the main character, John Corey, or if it's a common thing for DeMille, but it made this story easier. I think without the witticisms this could have been a very difficult and dark book.

I really liked Cory. He was witty, he was strong, and (like us all) he had faults. His drive to finish what The Lion started was so strong. While not all of The Lion's actions were meant to egg on Corey, Corey seemed to take them all quite personally. Although since The Lion promised Corey that he would be back to finish what he started I guess there was a vendetta to settle, and since Corey knew what The Lion's plans entailed I can see how he took everything personally.

The story was pretty intense. But again, the wit helped to break it up. It didn't make the story any less serious, but it made it not so dark and hopeless.

The narrator was pretty good. He wasn't mundane, but he wasn't the most lively narrator I've ever listened to. He gave the characters their own voices, and did a pretty good job at helping the listener to differentiate who was talking.

The Lion

Review: The Mask of the River King by Jules Wellesley

I won a review copy of this title from a giveaway on LibraryThing.

About the Book

Frey has spent his life as a slave mining ancient ruins left behind by a lost race, the Anunai. But when an explorer comes searching for a powerful relic, Frey joins him on an adventure that spans worlds. From floating cities to cloud ships, every step of Frey's journey takes him closer to battle with the evil Dravikos, whose quest to control the Mask of the River King threatens all life.

My Review

I've been reading this book for a long time. It's got a good premise, and the world that Jules creates in this one is beautiful. I just can't seem to keep things straight in this one. I don't know why, but it's been very difficult for me to read. Every time I pick it up I have to go back and re-read a bit of it to re-orient myself as to what is going on.

I really want to like it. I like Frey, the main character. He really seems to be coming into his own. The other characters are so neat. The way some of them are mixed breeds is a cool concept. They're not mixed like characters we're familiar with, from mythology or something, they're really unique mixes.

The idea of the Nexus is a really cool idea. It gives the book endless possibilities.

I just, for whatever reason, can not get situated with this one. I really want to like it, and I've been trying to. I just can't get there...

It's got some great qualities. The world(s) that Wellesley creates are amazing. I would love to give this a much better review, as I think it has the potential to be a great book.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Giveaway: Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Books I can giveaway 5 copies of this one!

About the Book

Willow Tarata is a Guardian who trusts no one. She hunts those who prey on the vulnerable. And she's driven by a vengeful goal-find the man who murdered her mother. Yet suddenly Willow's quarry now has her on the run . . . straight into the sights of San Francisco's most dangerous detective.

Three bizarre murders have Inspector Rick Ramirez baffled-and determined to uncover the truth. But to catch the real killer, he needs the help of his prime suspect, Willow Tarata, even though this fierce and sexy blonde is challenging his professional cool. And now, unless they believe in each other and trust their deepest instincts, a relentless evil will end both Willow's and Rick's life-and claim this Guardian's extraordinary powers forever . . .

To find out more about Tempted by Fate please visit Hachette Book Group.

You can also read my review here.

Giveaway Info

The giveaway will end 12/21/10 at 11:59pm (EST)

From here on out I will only be taking form entries. Comment entries will no longer be accepted. Thank you everyone for helping make the forms a success!

1) Only winners from the US and Canada
2) No PO boxes

To enter:
1) Fill out this form.
2) Get an extra entry for following my blog.
3) Get a third entry for mentioning this giveaway: On your blog, facebook, twitter... anywhere (Make sure to leave me a link or your SN so I can verify!)
5) "Like" Just Jennifer Reading on Facebook.

Please RT: @JustJennReading: New Giveaway: Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry Ends 12/21/10 http://tiny.cc/txhis

Remember to use this form. Comment entries will no longer be valid entries into the giveaways.

You can see the current entries here.

The winners will be randomly drawn and notified by email.

Good Luck and thank you for reading my blog!

Review: Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book Group for letting me be a part of this Blog Tour!

About the Book

For more information about Tempted by Fate please visit Hachette's website.

You can also visit Kate Perry's website or her blog.

Kate Perry is also on MySpace and Twitter.

My Review

This was a really good story. I'd kind of gotten burn out on historical romance so I'd left romance alone altogether for a little while. This is the first romance I've read in a few months and it was refreshing to get back into the genre with such a well written specimen.

Willow was a great main character. She was spunky, witty, independent, and everything else you could want from a heroine. I liked her. Ramirez was nice... I used the model on the cover as a basis for what Ramirez looked like, and he is very nice :-) But my favorite character was Morgan and Lita was a close second. But Morgan is a computer genius. While I'm far from a computer genius I am a bit of a nerd so I was able to connect with her. She also plays as Willow's better judgment, as Willow doesn't always use her own good judgment... And Lita was such a sweet character. She was so knowing (beyond just the knowing the comes with being a grandmother) and was able to see what the future was going to hold for Ramirez and Willow.

I haven't read the first two in this series and I didn't feel lost in this one. While I do want to go back and read the first two I didn't feel like I was missing a piece of the puzzle.

The story itself was a good one. Willow, a guardian of the wood scroll, is trying to find the bad man who killed her mother when she was a young girl. The search has lead her to San Fransisco where she meets Ramirez. The chemistry between them is great, even though they both try to fight it.

I liked the story and I loved the characters. I really do want to get the first two in the series and get the background of the guardians and then I want to see where the next book is going to go, as this one set the stage for something really big. I can't wait to see what it is!

Tempted by Fate (The Guardians of Destiny)
Today we have a guest post from author Mark Hersberger author of Tokyo Lives. Today he's going to talk a little about his book and the setting of the book.

Welcome to Shibuya, Tokyo’s hippest, most happening neighborhood. By day teenagers and young adults from across Japan flock to the trendy department stores and boutiques. Schoolgirls in their “sailor suit” uniforms roam in packs, while well-manicured office ladies tote $1,000 handbags. The silver, cylindrical Shibuya 109 presides as a youth fashion Mecca and Shibuya’s literal and figurative epicenter.

As night falls the vibe transforms and Shibuya re-casts itself as one of Tokyo’s raunchiest, most decadent red-light districts. In a tangle of alleys known as the Dogenzaka—or Love Hotel Hill—bright neon signs glowing pink and red light the maze of streets. Fleshy female images tease passersby. The strip clubs, porn shops, and prostitution houses cater to every sexual fantasy imaginable—and some that are unimaginable. Salarymen, Japan’s black-suited army of corporate warriors, canvass the alleys in small groups as they look to blow off steam after another 14-hour day. And the Dogenzaka is ruled with an iron fist by the yakuza, Japan’s shadowy, secretive network of organized crime families.

I chose to focus on Shibuya for this blog post because it is essential to the plot of Tokyo Lives, my mystery novel. The neighborhood is as unique as any character in the book, and in many ways plays a dual role of setting and character. Shibuya has its own life and pulse, its own identity and personality. Shibuya breathes, it shows emotions. It lusts, it desires. When Megumi, a teenage runaway turned prostitute is murdered, Shibuya weeps and mourns her passing. Shibuya is by turns tragic hero and ruthless villain.

Shibuya’s personality is as layered as any character’s in the book. By day it’s young and fanciful, even innocent. At night it’s dark and foreboding, electric and energizing. Its mood can change day by day, minute by minute, block by block.

Each character has a unique, personal relationship with Shibuya. Megumi flees her rural roots, lured to Shibuya by the chance at money and a new life. Shibuya is to be her savior, though it ends up killing her. By contrast, The Snake, a grizzled, whiskey-swilling gangster, is from Shibuya and will do anything to escape. Corruption, greed, and family in-fighting drive him to the brink of emotional despair. But there’s too much holding him back. Shibuya and its rag-tag collection of gangsters, mama-sans, and hustlers will never let him leave.

Everyone who’s visited Shibuya has a deeply personal relationship with the neighborhood. For me, Shibuya was the ultimate microscope through which to study Japan. The clash of teenage innocence and exuberance colliding with the adult word’s deepest, darkest secrets left me fascinated. A casual stroll through the back alleys reveals glimpses of all its characters: teenage runaways huddled in corners using their backpacks as pillows; slick-suited yakuza prowling for their next scheme; thrill-seeking salarymen looking for an escape. Simply put, there’s nothing like Shibuya in the United States. The neighborhood served as my muse, and I had to write about it.

I love that you let the location "tell" the story. I have lived in some seedy places in my life (like my first apartment with the 6-ft barbwire fence around the property and bullet hole in the window) so I was able to get some of the location, but I don't think even with my experience I can fully appreciate Shibuya. I also think that using the location as the catalyst for the story was a great idea. There was so much in this one that related to the city, it was (as you said) as if the neighborhood was a character.

You can read my review of Tokyo Lives here on justjennifereading.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Party Today! "No Hope for Gomez!" Birthday Party. Win kindles, iPods, and get free books!

“It's the age-old tale:
     Boy meets girl.
     Boy stalks girl.
     Girl already has a stalker.
     Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”

It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since I handed in the final proofs for my weird little book ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ To celebrate this, and the fact that it just became a finalist in 2010's Best Book Awards, I decided to throw an international party. As I’ve had a debilitating fear of throwing parties and no-one showing up since early childhood, I’d be more than delighted if you’d come!

Of course, with every cool, international party comes a gift bag. Here's just some of the stuff attendants will get:

  • Exclusive short story collection
  • No Hope for Gomez: The Lost Chapters
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signed hi-res poster + bookplate

(These are all exclusive items and will not be available again)

Additionally, several lucky attendants will win a Kindle or an iPod!

Oh yeah, you can bring as many friends as you like, just don't bring your crazy uncle who drinks too much and then tries to get me to go to the attic with him to see something wonderful. I've fallen for that before and I don't mind telling you, I came away very disappointed!

Find out how to attend HERE

Sunday, November 28, 2010

"No Hope for Gomez!" Birthday Party. Win kindles, iPods, and get free books!

“It's the age-old tale:
     Boy meets girl.
     Boy stalks girl.
     Girl already has a stalker.
     Boy becomes her stalker-stalker.”

It's hard to believe, but it's been a year since I handed in the final proofs for my weird little book ‘No Hope for Gomez!’ To celebrate this, and the fact that it just became a finalist in 2010's Best Book Awards, I decided to throw an international party. As I’ve had a debilitating fear of throwing parties and no-one showing up since early childhood, I’d be more than delighted if you’d come!

Of course, with every cool, international party comes a gift bag. Here's just some of the stuff attendants will get:

  • Exclusive short story collection
  • No Hope for Gomez: The Lost Chapters
  • Making of Gomez: behind the scenes eBook
  • Signed hi-res poster + bookplate

(These are all exclusive items and will not be available again)

Additionally, several lucky attendants will win a Kindle or an iPod!

Oh yeah, you can bring as many friends as you like, just don't bring your crazy uncle who drinks too much and then tries to get me to go to the attic with him to see something wonderful. I've fallen for that before and I don't mind telling you, I came away very disappointed!

Find out how to attend HERE.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Review: A Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart

Thanks to Barnes & Nobles's First Look Book Club for letting me review this one.

About the Book

One moonless night in February 1895, a young landowner in Texas cow country loses his wife in childbirth. In the lonely years that follow, his new son, his fourth, grows to become a skillful, aggressive jockey and his father, with equal fervor, stakes his land and fortunes on his success. In 1910, father and son, distant, yet strangely joined in this venture, race to a point of no return for the entire family. What happens to the son beyond that juncture will not reconfigure his past, but it will burnish him into unexpected maturity. (Hand-selling tip: Of this first novel, one early reader wrote, "If Evan S. Connell, William Faulkner, and Norman Maclean had been born as one person, he might possess the extraordinary gifts of Bruce Machart.")

My Review

This one took me a while to get into it. The writing was very "slow". Since I read this as part of a book group I didn't want to get to far ahead. So I'd read and get into the story, then when I got to the stopping point I found I had a hard time getting back into it. Had I read it straight through without stopping I probably would have liked it much more.

I loved how the author gave everything a feeling. The landscape, the animals, everything was described to have a sens of feeling. It was a nice change, but I think it became a little to much, as it just seemed to drag the story down some.

I didn't really get to connect with any of the characters. In fact there were some places in the book where I was confused as to who was talking, who was doing what, what was being done to who. I was just so lost at some points that it really frustrated me.

The story, if you take out the "extra" was pretty good. And it was an endeering story about lost love, in many forms, and how that can affect a person their whole life. The relationships between the characters was sad, and that sad feeling was the tone of the entire book. Everything was just sad.

I think if I had sat with this and read it straight through without taking breaks I would have liked it more. But as I said each time I picked it up I had to "get back into the story" and I think that took so much away from it for me.

The Wake of Forgiveness

Review: Tokyo Lives by Mark Hersberger

Thank you to Mark Hersberger for sending me a copy of his book to review.

About the Book

When a teenage runaway-turned-prostitute is found murdered in the dark alleys of Tokyo's raunchiest red-light district, no one seems to care...except The Snake, a grizzled, whiskeyswilling yakuza. It's an affront to his authority: No one gets away with murder on his turf.
Determined to render justice and restore his reputation, The Snake juggles his investigation amidst an impending gang war and an effort to get the Governor of Tokyo elected Prime Minister. The victim's former best friend holds the key to the mystery, and a romance blossoms while they chase the killer.

As the couple wades through their familiar milieu of ruthless gangsters, elite hostesses, and corrupt politicians, they reveal a cover-up that threatens the highest levels of power. Ancient yakuza codes of honor give way to betrayal as The Snake is torn between lifetime loyalties and justice.

The seamy back alleys of Tokyo come to life in this thriller folded as tightly as origami. These Tokyo lives aren't the ones you read about in travel guides-they're the ones that prey on the flaws and indiscretions of a nation.

For more information about Tokyo Lives please visit the book's website.

My Review

This was a really good book. It had a bit of everything in it. There was a hint of a love story. There was a really good murder mystery. It had emotions. And it was just exciting to read. I really liked it.

The main character The Snake was a great character. He is a gangster who is loyal to his "family", he is also ready to be done with the life he leads. That internal dilemma leads to some great twists in the story. While some of the other characters play fairly large roles in the book I connected the most with The Snake.

The story was really good. It was so suspenseful. While I thought I had the "whodunit" figured out at the beginning I kept second guessing myself, and I wasn't even close as to the why!

I've never been to Tokyo, but Hersberger does a great job of painting the pictures for me. Using my experience living in various "not so nice areas" I was able to paint a pretty good idea of how the neighborhood looked. Even the smells were ones that I could easily draw from my experiences...

The story itself was really good. The twists that the story takes really keeps you guessing through the whole book. Given the predictability of some of the recent mystery novels I've read this was quite refreshing. The twists weren't anything that seemed to "out there". Everything was plausible and fit really well into the story line. Even tying up the ending was done well. I felt like everything that needed to be "finished" was and the things that you were supposed to keep guessing about were left open. The ending also didn't feel rushed.

I really liked all the different stories that were going on. There was the murder mystery. There was the changing of the guards, so to speak, within the yakuza. There was the governor's race going on. The seedy lives of the prostitutes and call-girls. And everything just melded so well together. It took me a while to pick it up, but once I did I didn't want to put it down.

Tokyo Lives

Review: Audiobook: The Brave by Nicholas Evans

Thank you to Hachette Audio for sending me a copy of this title for review.

About the Book

Tom Bedford is living alone in the isolated wilds of Montana. Having distanced himself from his own troubled past, he rarely sees his ex-wife, and his son, Danny, is away in Iraq and hasn't spoken to him for years. Tom hasn't always been so removed from society. As a boy, his mother was a meteoric rising star in the glitzy, enchanted world of 1960s Hollywood. There, she fell in love with the suave Ray Montane, who played young Tom's courageous onscreen hero, Red McGraw, the fastest draw around. Tommy and his mother lived in a glamorous, Hollywood version of the Wild West. Everything was perfect, until the gold flaking on their magical life began to chip away, revealing an uglier truth beneath. Ray was not who he seemed. Tommy and his mother fell into a deadly confrontation with him, and they fled Hollywood forever, into the wilderness of the real West.

As a man, Tom has put all of that behind him--or so he thinks. Unexpectedly, his ex-wife calls, frantic: Danny has been charged with murder. In the chaos of war, his son has been caught in a violent skirmish gone bloodily awry. The Army needs someone to pay for the mistake. Tom, forced into action, is now suddenly alive again and fighting to save the son he'd let slip away. To succeed, he must confront the violence in his own past, and he finds that these two selves--the past and the present--which he'd fought so long to keep separate, are inextricably connected. As father and son struggle to understand one another, both are compelled to learn the true meaning of bravery.

Beautifully interlacing the past and present, the author of The Horse Whisperer reminds us that we are tied to the glories and mistakes of our own history. The Brave lives up to its name, as one the most courageous and full-hearted novels of our time.

For more information about The Brave please visit Hachette's website.

Watch the Trailer for The Brave on You Tube.

Visit Nicholas' website.

You can also "Like" Nicholas Evans on Facebook.

My Review

This book was beautiful. Which sounds like a weird way to describe a book, especially one with a few murders in the plot... But beautiful is such a great word for it.

The characters were all great. I loved Tommy and Diane. Cal was another great character. The story follows Tommy through his life growing up in England, moving to Hollywood, and eventually "settling down" in Montana. The whole way through I was so captivated by what he was going through. The opening scene with Tommy and his mother is so captivating that I couldn't help but care what happens to Tommy through the rest of the story.

The writing was beautiful in this story. Since it was an audiobook that I read I can imagine some of the imagery was as much from the writing as it was from the narrator's voice. But either way I could see everything that was going on. The descriptions weren't long and drawn out, but everything I saw in my head was on a large scale. I didn't just see where the action was happening, if they were in a room I saw the whole room, if they were outside I could see the whole scaling landscape around the area. I think the writing and the narration were such a perfect fit for each other that this book really was able to take on a life of it's own for me.

The story itself was great also. The story jumps around in Tommy's life. Each part of the story answers one question and then raises another. Even when the story jumps forward it somehow is able to answer the questions from the past... The story wasn't always fast-paced, but it wasn't boring either. Everything about this story just hit that perfect balance.

The narrator for this one was amazing. I don't like to see who narrates before I start and audiobook because then as I'm listening to the book all the characters take on the narrator (especially if it is someone famous). While I was listening I kept thinking to myself this voice is so familiar, and when I finished and looked to see who it was I realized why I liked the narration so much. Michael Emerson has such a great voice. I loved Lost, and even though I didn't so much like Ben I do like the guy who plays Ben. He was able to give each of the characters their own voice, without making them sound fake or "put on". I loved the narration as much as I loved the story.

The Brave: A Novel

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

Thank you to Hachette Book for sending me a copy to review.

About the Book

NYPD detective Jack 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 restaurant through a killer's eyes.

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 become victims of the same sadistic killers. Now Kanon teams up with the Swedish reporter, Dessie Larsson. Every killing is preceded by a postcard to the local newspaper--and Kanon and Larsson 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.

For more information about The Postcard Killers please visit Hachette's website.

My Review

I've only read a few James Patterson novels. I've always heard great things about his writing and I really wanted to start reading some of his stuff. My only problem thus far is that everything of his I've read has been so predictable. I've had such high expectations for each of his books and I've been let down with each one.

Having said that I don't hate his books. I think that the sheer number of books that he has released, with co-authors, has lead to a bit of overkill. I like the story lines, I like the characters, but it's so easy to predict the end of the book.

This one was no different. While it did have a bit more of an emotional connection than I've felt with the other Patterson novels it was still predictable. I liked the characters. Dessi was a great character. She was very well rounded, she had such a great back story, and as her past starts popping up she becomes even more likable. For her to come from where she came from and be able to do what she's done it was very touching. Jack wasn't an unlikable character, but I didn't really connect with him. I did feel sympathy for him, but that was about the extent of my connection.

The story was pretty fast-paced. Things happened pretty quickly in this one. It didn't take long for the killers to get going, actually that's how the book opens. As the reasoning behind the killings come out, it is pretty shallow. But I guess a killer doesn't really have to have a good reason to kill (killers are crazy after all).

Since this was an audiobook I have to talk about the narrators. There were actually three of them in this story. I liked the differences in the narrators. It helped me to keep track of when the story changed. When I'm listening to an audiobook I find it easy to get lost as far as what's going on, and who's doing what but the three different narrators would at least keep me on track as to who the story was following. I have to say that I wish more audiobooks were read like this, I really liked it.

The Postcard Killers

Review: Healing With Words by Diana Raab

Thank you to Diana for sending me her book to review.

About the Book

Healing With Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey is a memoir and self-help book highlighting Diana’s cancer journey. In 2001 at the age of forty-seven, happily married and the mother of three, she was diagnosed with early breast cancer and five years later, diagnosed by seemingly unrelated and incurable blood cancer—multiple myeloma. The book candidly chronicles in a wry and inspirational tone, her experiences, using reflection, poetry and journal entries. At the end of each chapter writing prompts and blank journaling pages are provided for readers to express their own personal story. The book also contains extensive appendices with support organization and writing tips.

Raab considers journaling to be like a daily vitamin—healing, detoxifying and essential for optimal health. Since early childhood, Raab has found solace in writing after her mother gave her a journal to cope with the loss of her beloved grandmother. In lieu of allowing cancer to destroy and take over her life, she has gracefully embraced the experience and views it as a positive turning point in her life.

Get more information about Healing With Words from Diana Raab's website.

Read the guest post Diana posted here on JustJenniferReading.

You can also "Like" Healing with words on Facebook.

My Review

I think everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. I've lost a few family members to cancer and there are also a few survivors in my family. I'm sure I'm not alone in that. While I've never had cancer I know what the fighter is going through in their battle. Most people have their own way of dealing with cancer, but for those who don't I think this book could be very helpful.

The book is both a biographical story and a journal. I liked the format that it was written in. Raab talks about different points in her cancer journey and then gives prompts for the reader to write about their journey. She gives small prompts like "Describe your admission to the hospital". I think these are the kinds of things that are difficult for people to talk about, but I also think that keeping all these feelings bottled up inside is not the way to deal with them.

I also liked the poetry that Raab wrote through her journey. She talks in the book about the different emotions she was feeling and these emotions come through in the poetry she has dispersed throughout.

For someone who is dealing with cancer I think this book could be a beneficial tool to help the cope with what they are going through. While I've never written anything significant I used to keep a journal and also wrote poems and short stories. I've always found writing to be therapeutic. And while cancer is a disease of the physical body the medicines and treatments do little to heal the mind and soul.

If you, or someone you know, are struggling with cancer I would recommend this book. It was sometimes difficult to read and it was very emotional. But at the same there were moments of hope and I think that those are the things that we all need to hold on to, regardless of what kind of struggle we are going through.

Healing With Words: A writer's cancer journey

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry

Thank you to Glass Road PR for letting me participate in this blog tour.

About the Book

Billy Allman is a hillbilly genius. People in Dogwood, West Virginia, say he was born with a second helping of brains and a gift for playing the mandolin but was cut short on social skills. Though he’d gladly give you the shirt off his back, they were right. Billy longs to use his life as an ode to God, a lyrical, beautiful bluegrass song played with a finely tuned heart. So with spare parts from a lifetime of collecting, he builds a radio station in his own home. People in town laugh. But Billy carries a brutal secret that keeps him from significance and purpose. Things always seem to go wrong for him. However small his life seems, from a different perspective Billy’s song reaches far beyond the hills and hollers he calls home. Malachi is an angel sent to observe Billy. Though it is not his dream assignment, Malachi follows the man and begins to see the bigger picture of how each painful step Billy takes is a note added to a beautiful symphony that will forever change the lives of those who hear it.

Get more information about Almost Heaven on Chris Fabry's website.

My Review

This was a great book! The story was so touching. It's got so much love, and yet so much pain inter-weaved into the story of Billy Allman.

Right from the beginning of the story both the love and pain show through. We first met Billy as an adult, and he really doesn't come off as being anyone special. But as the story goes back to the early part of his life it starts to get pretty interesting. There were so many times in this one that I wanted to cry for Billy. He had such a difficult life. It seemed that just as things would get good something horrid would happen to him.

I really liked to double narrative in this one. It helped move the story along when there wasn't much going on. The angel in this story was a great addition. I liked being able to see a different side of what happened and how Billy ended up where he did.

When I started this one I knew it was a work of fiction. However, as I was reading I kept thinking that this would be even more inspiring if it were true. The way some of it was written it had a feeling of a true story. So I decided to look at the author's website and found that while it is fictional it is also loosely based on the story of a real person.

Almost Heaven

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Review: A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

I won this book in a giveaway on Library Thing.

About the Book

The sleepy town of Newbury, Connecticut, is shocked when a little girl is found brutally murdered. The town’s top detective, perplexed by a complete lack of leads, calls in FBI agent Leia Bines, an expert in cases involving children.

Meanwhile, Dr. Peter Gram, a psychiatrist at Newbury’s hospital, searches desperately for the cause of seven-year-old Naya Hastings’s devastating nightmares. Afraid that she might hurt herself in the midst of a torturous episode, Naya’s parents have turned to the bright young doctor as their only hope.

The situations confronting Leia and Peter converge when Naya begins drawing chilling images of murder after being bombarded by the disturbing images in her dreams. Amazingly, her sketches are the only clues to the crime that has panicked Newbury residents. Against her better judgment, Leia explores the clues in Naya’s crude drawings, only to set off an alarming chain of events.

In this stunning psychological thriller, innocence gives way to evil, and trust lies forgotten in a web of deceit, fear, and murder.

You can find out more about Circle of Souls by visiting the book's website.

My Review

This was a really gripping story. I was drawn in right from the beginning. The story is so fast paced that it kept my interest and I finished it in almost one setting. Even the "down-times" in the story were interesting. The author's background (culturally and educationally) lent themselves really well to this book. Nothing that happened in the story seemed far fetched, as tends to happen in murder mysteries sometimes. I could tell that the author knew the intricacies of the story he was telling. I didn't get the feeling that he was just making stuff up to keep the story more interesting.

The characters in this one were so well developed. I fell in love with Naya. She was such a sweet little girl. As soon as she was brought into the story I liked her. The characters were so well developed that I could picture them and was able to "predict" their reactions. Not that the story was predictable, but similar to how when you've known someone for a while you can kind of guess what they might say or do.

The story itself was very well written. The dialog was real. The story was plausible. And it was really a mystery. I thought I had it figured out a few times. And even despite the possible endings my brain was coming up with I didn't expect it to turn out the way it did! The book was able to create a mystery without going into overly gory detail. It wasn't a gratuitous use of gore, it was done with taste.

I have to say that this is one of the best books I've ever read. It really was a quick read, at almost 350 pages it only took me 3 settings to finish it. It was just so captivating and fast paced that I didn't want to put it down.

A Circle of Souls

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Toy Stories Reading Challenge

I'm going to try this one. It might be a bit of a challenge with everything else I have going on, but I really liked the idea of this one so I'm going to try it!

I got this challenge from the GoodReads Group Romance Readers Reading Challenges

Toy Stories Reading Challenge

Put together by Valorie and the ever active members that contribute in the Challenge Suggestions thread, here is a reading challenge inspired by popular toys.

Read 10 books plus an option of bonuses within a six month period. You may begin anytime you want, as long as you put your start date and end date.

Duration: 6 months
Total No. of books: 10 required + 2 bonus of your choice

Earliest start date for this challenge is its launched date: October 10, 2010.

Enjoy playing, everyone.

1. Barbie: Read a book with a character that is a fashion designer, interior designer, writes about fashion or is just really into fashion.

2. GI Joe: Read a book with a character that is in the military or was in the military, or the story takes place during a war of some kind.

3. Easy Bake Oven: Read a book with a character that is a chef or baker, owns a restaurant or bakery, or there is a type of food in the title or on the cover.

4. Hot Wheels: Read a book with a character that works on cars or races cars, or there is a car, motorcycle, or some type of vehicle on the cover.

5. Lite Brite: Read a book with a colorful cover (3 or more colors) or has a color as part of the title.

6. Rock'em Sock'em Robots: Read a book with a character who is a boxer, fighter, or warrior of some kind.

7. Cabbage Patch Kids: Read a Young Adult novel or a book with a character that is a child or teenager.

8. Etch-A-Sketch: Read a book with a character that is an artist of some kind, draws, or is a graphic artist or read a graphic novel.

9. Connect Four: Read the 4th book in a series or has 4 words in its title.

10. Raggedy Ann & Andy: Read a book with a red cover or a book with a character that is a red head.

Bonus two: Pick your favorite toys and post your own book categories!
11. Playing House: A book about a marriage, or a wedding
12. Pound Puppies: A book about a dog, with a dog on the cover

My List:
1. A Writer's Engagement by Robert Wacaster 4/31/11
2. Lipstick in Afghanistan by Roberta Gately - 4/16/11
3. Happy Hour by Michele Scott
4. Nora, Nora by Anne Rivers Siddons - 3/11
5. Tokyo Lives by Mark Hersberger - 11/24/10
6. The Last Key by Rob Steiner - 1/11
7. Wild Legacy by C. Fern Cook - 2/11
8. No Home For Gomez by Graham Parke - 1/11
9. How Sweet It Is by Sophie Gunn - 2/11
10. Islands of Instability by MC Miller
11. How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling
12. Oogy by Larry Levin

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Wild Justice by C. Fern Cook

Thanks to C. Fern Cook for sending me a copy of her book for review!

About the Book

In book #1 of the Wild Series, Wild Evolution, Colorado rancher Dan Tucker's life is turned upside-down. After surviving a mutant canine attack, Dan discovers the animal he killed is not a wild dog, but a man. To protect himself even though it was a self-defense killing, he covers up the murder. With his quiet life as bachelor rancher transformed into a constant battle of wits to keep his deep, dark secret safe, Dan finds himself at odds with everyone, including his girlfriend and his former best friend - and most of all, himself. In book #2 of the Wild Series, Wild Justice, we find Dan worrying about keeping his nocturnal life a secret as his wedding gets closer. He soon discovers that's the least of his worries...

You can visit C. Fern Cook's website.

You can also read the two guest blog posts she's done here on JustJenniferReading: post 1 post 2

See my review for book 1 in the Wild Series Wild Evolution.

My Review

After reading the first book in this series I was excited to get this one read. The cliff-hanger at the end of the first book really had me anticipating how the second book would deal with that issue. I have to say I was not disappointed!

My favorite character in book one was Angela, so I was hopping she had a larger role in this book, which she did. The new characters introduced in this book were fairly good characters. Kyle I despised... Which I think was the point, and Cathy I felt sympathy for. She was caught in a seemingly loveless marriage, her only true companion is her pot-bellied pig, Miss Piggy. While I would have liked to gotten "inside" Cathy's head a little more I did think these two new characters were a great addition to the story. Dan I'm still not sure of. He comes off as being a bit of a jerk at times still and at other times he's so sympathetic and understanding. But this second book had led me to lean more towards liking him.

There was a lot going on in this book. Dan's got a whole new set of obstacles to deal with. Angela, being Dan's rock also has a lot to deal with. Then there's the animals that Kyle acquires. There were a few times when I had to put the book down because some of what happens to the animals in this one is hard to read. Being a lover of all animals made it that much harder. But the treatment of these animals justifies the end of the book and I think that just deserts were in order!

As with the first book we're left with a cliff hanger in this one and I can't wait to get to the third book! Another great story from C. Fern Cook!

Wild Justice: Book 2 of the Wild Series (Volume 2)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: David Trotter

Today's post isn't necessarily a normal guest post for me. Normally I let authors write about whatever they want to write about. However today's guest blogger, David Trotter, asked me to give him a question to answer. Because I had a question I was really wanting to ask I did (just remember that I'm a bit long-winded when you read my question!). So here is today's guest post, and be aware there is a bit of a ***SPOILER***!!!

The emotion in this book was so raw, I am honestly surprised that I didn't cry many many times (as I too have been on the "giving" end of an affair). When writing a fiction book that carries this emotion I would imagine that the author is able to disassociate themselves from what is happening in the story. Being that this wasn't a story, this was your life, it had to be such an emotional ride to bring all this back to the surface, for both you and your family. So my question is, was it difficult to write this, not only for you but for everyone involved, Laura, Kurt, Ron, Dyno, your kids, etc? Did the pain lessen because of writing, or did writing make it new and raw again?

David Trotter:
From the day the ‘other woman’ left me in April of 2008, I had a sense that I’d share my story one day. I have lived a rather public life, and I don’t mind allowing people into the inner recesses if there is possible benefit for their own lives. As I hit rock bottom, I was coming to a realization that I lost my 14 year marriage, 10 year career, and the woman I left it all to pursue. I had no clue how my life was going to unfold, but I knew it would be a wild ride nonetheless. Thankfully, it ended up including a reconciliation with my wife and children as you read in the “Lost + Found.”

In December of 2008, I was flying back from a humanitarian trip with some friends in India, and I felt like it was finally time to capture the story in an outline format so that I would have ‘breadcrumb memories’ to re-trace my steps. I spent a couple of hours on that flight typing up the entire outline for the book, but I didn’t look at it again for an entire year. Every time I even thought of starting to write the memoir, unbearable pain would gush toward the surface...the guilt of harming my wife and children, the remorse of hurting so many people who trusted me, and even the wounds of being left by the other woman. It was just too much to bear.

A year later, I was feeling stronger and more confident in my ability to re-visit the story of my own life in detail. Although I had been processing the events with my wife, our therapist, and close friends since the moment it all began, writing about it in story form seemed to feel like such a daunting task. In fact, I felt like I needed someone to walk with me in the process, and I ended up hiring a writing coach (Stacey Robbins) who my wife and I both trusted with the crafting of the story. My coach’s help on a regularly basis provided me with the needed encouragement to allow the depth of the memories to come to life...not as a mere recounting of events, but as a true-to-life experience for the reader.

Each time I would sit down to write, I would close my eyes and allow my memories to transport me back to the very moment in time. A great deal of the book was written with my eyes closed as I replayed the scenes over and over in my mind’s eye. At certain points, I would draw upon collateral materials that I kept in a special envelope which helped me tell the story in more detail...correspondence, photos, blog posts, etc. Although it would have been easier to keep a ‘safe distance’ from the emotion of my story, I truly wanted the reader to experience every moment along the way. I wanted them to feel the highest highs and the lowest lows...even if they hated me in the process.

In the process of crafting the book, I would write for large blocks of time...up to an entire day. At first, I tried writing for shorter periods of time, but I found it difficult to re-enter my ‘new normal’ with my wife and kids. It tweaked my mind and heart to go back and forth in the midst of all the emotions. As each chapter was written, I found that my own raw pain began to dissipate. I started to feel a deep healing radiate through my soul as I was willing to take a look at my own hurtful actions and process the painful results. Toward the final chapters, I was giving myself at least an hour of down time to allow all those thoughts, memories, and emotions to settle before re-engaging with my family. Otherwise, I found that it was too difficult to bounce between the two lives...my old life and my new one.

Please know that this memoir wasn’t written as a proof of my transformation or to gain the approval of others. I wanted to share the story of my redemption against the backdrop of my own depravity. It was written to inspire people to invest in the relationships they already have and challenge them to re-think the allure of an affair. Ultimately, I wanted to give hope to those who have experienced an affair and shine a light down the road of forgiveness. Grace and transformation are available.

Thank you so much for that response. I love to get "inside" the heads of authors, especially when it's a subject so dear to their hearts

Again, thank you David for writing this book. Many of you will never know the heartache that goes on inside a person who is committing an affair (and I pray that you never will be on either side of that situation). It's a difficult situation for all parties involved.

I want to clarify to my readers that the reason this book resonates so much with me is that I have cheated in my past. In my situation I was not married, but I was engaged which doesn't make it any less hurtful to the man I cheated on. Admitting I've been in that situation is different from sharing the circumstances that lead to it and I do not think I could ever open myself up in this way for everyone to see. I know I regret to this day my actions and wish I could take them back. I hope that none of my readers think less of me for admitting this act from my past. I can not rationalize my actions, I can only ask for forgiveness from those I have hurt.

If you would like more information about Lost + Found please visit David's website.

You can also read my review of Lost + Found.

Giveaway: Lost + Found by David Trotter

Thank you to the author David for letting me host this giveaway!

About the Book

After 10 years as a pastor, David was burned out and stuck in a life and marriage that lacked passion. His desire for an intimate partnership led him to leave his mistress of ‘ministry’ and run into the arms of a real-life mistress — his wife’s best friend. After moving in with one another and spending forty days together, the woman abruptly left to go back to her husband and four kids, and David’s life hit rock bottom.

This first-hand account of what led to his burnout and life implosion takes the reader on a raw and intimate journey…from illicit affair to hospitalization and ultimately to reconciliation with his wife and family. This is a powerful story of redemption that will leave the reader both challenged and inspired

Visit David Trotter's website.

Follow David Trotter on Twitter.

You can read my review and also a guest post from David.

Giveaway Info

The giveaway will end 11/9/10 at 11:59pm (EST)

From here on out I will only be taking form entries. Comment entries will no longer be accepted. Thank you everyone for helping make the forms a success!

1) Only winners from the US and Canada
2) No PO boxes

To enter:
1) Fill out this form.
2) Get an extra entry for following my blog.
3) Get a third entry for mentioning this giveaway: On your blog, facebook, twitter... anywhere (Make sure to leave me a link or your SN so I can verify!)
5) "Like" Just Jennifer Reading on Facebook.

Please RT: @JustJennReading: New Giveaway: Lost + Found by David Trotter

Remember to use this form. Comment entries will no longer be valid entries into the giveaways.

You can see the current entries here.

The winners will be randomly drawn and notified by email.

Good Luck and thank you for reading my blog!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Giveaway: Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched The World by Vicki Myron

Thanks to Anna at Hachette I can giveaway 3 copies of this one.

About the Book

How much of an impact can an animal have? How many lives can one cat touch? How is it possible for an abandoned kitten to transform a small library, save a classic American town, and eventually become famous around the world? You can't even begin to answer those questions until you hear the charming story of Dewey Readmore Books, the beloved library cat of Spencer, Iowa.

Dewey's story starts in the worst possible way. Only a few weeks old, on the coldest night of the year, he was stuffed into the returned book slot at the Spencer Public Library. He was found the next morning by library director Vicki Myron, a single mother who had survived the loss of her family farm, a breast cancer scare, and an alcoholic husband. Dewey won her heart, and the hearts of the staff, by pulling himself up and hobbling on frostbitten feet to nudge each of them in a gesture of thanks and love. For the next nineteen years, he never stopped charming the people of Spencer with his enthusiasm, warmth, humility (for a cat), and, above all, his sixth sense about who needed him most.

As his fame grew from town to town, then state to state, and finally, amazingly, worldwide, Dewey became more than just a friend; he became a source of pride for an extraordinary Heartland farming town pulling its way slowly back from the greatest crisis in its long history.

To find out more about Dewey please visit Hachette Book Group.

You can Like Dewey on Facebook.

Giveaway Info

The giveaway will end 11/9/10 at 11:59pm (EST)

From here on out I will only be taking form entries. Comment entries will no longer be accepted. Thank you everyone for helping make the forms a success!

1) Only winners from the US and Canada
2) No PO boxes

To enter:
1) Fill out this form.
2) Get an extra entry for following my blog.
3) Get a third entry for mentioning this giveaway: On your blog, facebook, twitter... anywhere (Make sure to leave me a link or your SN so I can verify!)
5) "Like" Just Jennifer Reading on Facebook.

Please RT: @JustJennReading: New Giveaway: Dewey ends 11/9/10

Remember to use this form. Comment entries will no longer be valid entries into the giveaways.

You can see the current entries here.

Review: Principle of the Path by Andy Stanely

Thank you to Book Sneeze for allowing me to review this book.

About the Book

Your Direction, not Your Intention, Determines Your Destination.

There is often a tension between where we want to end up in life and the path we choose to get there. We fail to see that having good intentions is never good enough. Like Charlie Brown, we wrongly believe there’s something to be said for trying hard. We need to understand why, in spite of our good intentions, we may have ended up at the wrong destination with our finances, our marriages, our careers, or a host of other dreams. So how do we get from where we are to where we truly want to be? The Principle of the Path is a road map to proper direction and discipline.

My Review

The message in this book was a great one. Good choices and intentions are not all that lead a person to where they want to be. Not being a very spiritual person (in the sense that I don't go to church) I sometimes forget that if I do not let God into my life then my choices aren't what God wants me to choose. And even though I'm not spiritual I do realize that if I block God from my life than my life will not take the path I am supposed to be on.

Having said that I have to say that this one took me forever to read (literally I think I've had this for a year and a half). It has a good message, I didn't feel it as being "preachy", and I agreed with most of what the author was saying. The problem was that I got so bored with reading it. It wasn't stimulating enough to keep my interest very long. I would read a few pages, set it down and dread coming back to it. The other day I realized I only had 50 or so pages left so I made myself set down and finally finish it, and even 50 pages took me forever.

Again, I liked the message I just didn't connect with the writing.

The Principle of the Path: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Review: Wild Evolution by C. Fern Cook

Thanks to C. Fern Cook for sending me a copy of her book for review!

About the Book

The night Dan Tucker defends his livestock against a wild canine attack, he is put in a 'kill or be killed' battle. Planning to take the head of the wolf-like creature in to be tested for rabies, Dan discovers he has the head of a man instead of an animal. Fearing no one will believe the human head was taken from a wild dog he killed in self-defense, he is forced to cover up the murder. As a werewolf by contamination, Dan's strength and senses are heightened, including his passion for the wild. When his cantankerous neighbor plans a new housing development that threatens the habitat of local wildlife, Dan has no choice but to try and stop construction. But things don't go according to plan, and now Dan has a second body to dispose of. This edgy eco-thriller is fast-paced, full of suspense, and guaranteed to surprise.

You can visit C. Fern Cook's website.

You can also read the two guest blog posts she's done here on JustJenniferReading: post 1 post 2

My Review

This was definitely not a "normal" werewolf story. I don't know if it is my lack of reading werewolf stories, but I don't ever remember reading a werewolf story in which the reader is let into the mind of the werewolf while he/she is in werewolf form. Most of the ones I've read the person is not "conscious" of their actions while they are in wolf form. I really liked that angle in this one. But like I said, don't know if it is my lack of experience with the genre or if it is a new way of writing.

Being an animal lover I really enjoyed Dan's connection with nature and animals. Even in his wolf form he is aware of other animals and is careful of his actions. The pain that was caused to him and his dogs in the beginning of the book is brought back to memory a few times. And while it was sad and difficult to read (I cry while watching ASPCA commercials) it really made me like Dan as the main character. I think without that "link" to him I would have easily been able to find him despicable. Even knowing that it wasn't really him it was the change from becoming a werewolf that made him so rude sometimes, I still could have easily disliked him.

I liked Angela, she reminded me of me. She was a warm and caring person and she was willing to put up with Dan and his behavior because she is in love with him. I'm the same way with people, loyal to a fault at times. While she wasn't a huge focus in this first book I'm hoping that she has a larger part in the rest of the series.

Like I said earlier, I haven't read many paranormal stories so this may be a lack of experience on my part but I thought this was a very different take on the normal paranormal story. It was refreshing to read. And once I got the time to really sit with the book it was a very fast read.

Wild Evolution

Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: e-Book Follow the Money by Ross Cavins

Thank you to the author, Ross Cavins, for allowing me to review his book.

About the Book

From one of America's most unknown authors comes a book so humorous, so vile, so inane ... it could only be a cry for help.

If you're searching for a refreshing style that's a tad demented, with characters that burrow deep into your mind and never leave, you've found the right book. "Follow the Money" is a collection of ten interconnected short stories that will grab you, wrestle you to the ground and squeeze you until your funny bone snaps in two.

A botched kidnapping, a money scam, a not-so-average convenience store holdup ... each story flows (with the money) through a series of interesting, and sometimes bizarre, plots. Layered and interweaved with seamless complexity, recurring characters and everyday motifs bind the ten stories into a single universal plot*.

Ingenious in its conception, flawless in its execution, "Follow the Money" is a hilarious, detailed study on the many facets of the human condition. Greed, Pride, Lust ... the seven deadly sins have never been so entertaining.

Prepare yourself for a raunchy, gritty ride you'll never want to end.

* (Note: Not one single vampire, zombie or sorcerer was thought about during the writing or editing of these stories)

For more information please visit Ross Cavins' website.

My Review

This book was hilarious. Right from the dedication through to the end. I still hate to admit that I have a sick and dark sense of humor, but the fact that I laughed through most of this book I think just sets that even more in stone...

The stories were so weird. They all seemed to revolve around, what most people would consider, "trash". Sadly though there were a few characters that when I started reading them I thought to myself "This is just like ..." It was both a frightening and liberating, it meant I could laugh at it because I was part of it.

For being short stories the characters are very well developed. The fact that some of them carry through one or two of the stories helps build them even more. I think the ability to create such developed characters within the limitations of a short story is a sign of a great author.

The stories are well written. Sometimes it took me a minute to find the "connection" to the previous stories, but once I figured it out it all really started to make sense. Again I have to mention the humor that was so well-placed in the stories. I don't want to give anything away but my favorite bit of humor is the toe/thumb... (That's got you thinking doesn't it???) Like I said, it's kind of dark twisted humor.

While I didn't get lost in the story, and the characters were all fairly despicable I do have to say that I really enjoyed myself while reading this book. I really hope Cavins writes something else because I think I'm going to have to read this a few times. Not only to pick up some of the things I may have missed but also because I enjoyed it so much.

Review: e-Book Common Sense by Thomas Paine

I bought this to help my sister with a paper she had to write.

About the Book

Thomas Paine arrived in America from England in 1774. A friend of Ben Franklin, he was a writer of poetry and tracts condemning the slave trade. In 1775, as hostilities between Britain and the colonies intensified, Paine wrote Common Sense to encourage the colonies to break the British exploitative hold through independence. The little booklet of 50 pages was published January 10, 1776 and sold a half-million copies, approximately equal to 75 million copies today.

My Review

I can't say that I liked this one, but I didn't hate it and I actually found it fairly interesting. It was intriguing and as Paine made his arguments for why we should revolt I kept having to remind myself of the time that this was written. It really made me think had we not had people like Paine in our history where would we be today? How different of a world would we live in if there had not been revolutionists?

The language took me a bit to get used to. I realized how nice the dictionary feature on the nook really is... There were quite a few times that I had to look something up because I was lost as to what Paine was trying to get across.

Overall I think it was a compelling piece of literature. At the very least it was thought provoking and gave me a better idea of the place America was in politically and socially before the revolution.

Review: Audiobook: When I Stop Talking You'll Know I'm Dead by Jerry Weintraub

Thanks to Anna at Hachette for letting me review this audiobook.

About the Book

Here is the story of Jerry Weintraub: the self-made, Brooklyn-born, Bronx-raised impresario, Hollywood producer, legendary deal maker, and friend of politicians and stars. No matter where nature has placed him--the club rooms of Brooklyn, the Mafia dives of New York's Lower East Side, the wilds of Alaska, or the hills of Hollywood--he has found a way to put on a show and sell tickets at the door. "All life was a theater and I wanted to put it up on a stage," he writes. "I wanted to set the world under a marquee that read: 'Jerry Weintraub Presents.'"

In WHEN I STOP TALKING, YOU'LL KNOW I'M DEAD, we follow Weintraub from his first great success at age twenty-six with Elvis Presley, whom he took on the road with the help of Colonel Tom Parker; to the immortal days with Sinatra and Rat Pack glory; to his crowning hits as a movie producer, starting with Robert Altman and Nashville, continuing with Oh, God!, The Karate Kid movies, and Diner, among others, and summiting with Steven Soderbergh and Ocean's Eleven, Twelve, and Thirteen.

Along the way, we'll watch as Jerry moves from the poker tables of Palm Springs (the games went on for days), to the power rooms of Hollywood, to the halls of the White House, to Red Square in Moscow and the Great Palace in Beijing-all the while counseling potentates, poets, and kings, with clients and confidants like George Clooney, Bruce Willis, George H. W. Bush, Armand Hammer, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, John Denver, Bobby Fischer . . .well, the list goes on forever.

And of course, the story is not yet over . . .as the old-timers say, "The best is yet to come."

As Weintraub says, "When I stop talking, you'll know I'm dead."

With wit, wisdom, and the cool confidence that has colored his remarkable career, Jerry chronicles a quintessentially American journey, one marked by luck, love, and improvisation. The stories he tells and the lessons we learn are essential, not just for those who love movies and music, but for businessmen, entrepreneurs, artists . . . everyone.

You can Like Jerry Weintraub on Facebook.

My Review

I liked this book. I had heard the name Jerry Weintraub before but I never really knew who he was. After hearing all of the things he has accomplished in his life I now realized that I've probably heard his name a million times but since he's not the star of anything I've never really paid that much attention to who he was.

This book is like sitting with your grandfather listening to the stories of his life and taking in all the advice he has to give. It was very enlightening. Jerry never really had a formal education, he just had the mindset that if he wanted something he was going to get it. His entire life he made things happen for himself, weather he was "prepared" for them or not. I wish I would have kept a pen and paper near by while listening to this one as there were so many nuggets that I can't even begin to remember them all.

I think this without realizing it this book has started to make subtle changes in my life. Since I've finished this I've had a bit more of a positive outlook and have been stepping outside my comfort zone to get things accomplished. Jerry says throughout the book that if a kid from the Bronx can do it... And while I don't think being from the Bronx is a detriment in life I do get what Jerry is trying to say. That he's nothing special, he's just another person, and if he can accomplish these things there is no reason that anyone else wouldn't be able to reach their goals.

What I really liked was that Jerry has such a great sense of humor. There were so many times in this one where he was able to laugh at himself. Even though he is a millionaire and has worked with Sinatra, Elvis, John Denver, Bob Dylan, Led Zeppelin, Brad Pitt, and so many others he gives off the feel that he is a truly humble person.

As I first started listening to this book I thought Jerry's voice would get a bit irritating, but the longer I listened the more I was endeared to Jerry because of his voice. I know it was his story, but he read the book like he was just sitting down and having a conversation. You could hear the emotion in his voice as he talked about the moments that really changed his life. He made a great narrator.

I really liked this book. It made me want to meet Jerry. And I keep calling him Jerry because after spending 8 hours with him and his life story I feel like I know him. I feel like if I were to be given the chance to speak with him it would be like catching up with a long lost friend.

When I Stop Talking, You'll Know I'm Dead: Useful Stories from a Persuasive Man

1 Star Books

The Disappearance of God by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Extraordinary by John Bevere
Yesterday's Promise by Linda Lee Chaikin

4 Star Books

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Almost Heaven by Chris Fabry
Barely A Lady by Eileen Dreyer
Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer
Audiobook: The Brave by Nicholas Evans
Audiobook The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie
A Cheater's Promise by Maurice Derrick Geter
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard DiLallo 
Colin Preston Rocked and Rolled by Bert Murray
The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers by Angie Fox
Deadly Fear by Cynthia Eden
Deadly Heat by Cynthia Eden
Deadly Lies by Cynthia Eden
Audiobook Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci
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Desperate Deeds by Dee Davis
Duma Key by Stephen King
An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage
Eyes Wide Open by Jud Wilhite
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Find Your Strongest Life by Marcus Buckingham
Forever Hilltop by Judy Baer
Frigate: November by Robert Wacster and Paul DeGeorge
Ghellow Road by T.H. Waters
The Glamour of Grammar by Roy Peter Clark
Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult
Healing With Words by Diana Raab
The Help by Kathryn Stockett 
Home for Broken Hearts by Rowan Coleman
Hot House Flowers and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin
How Perfect is That by Sarah Bird
How Sweet it is by Sophie Gunn
How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling
How to Never Look Fat Again by Charla Krupp
Hull's Landing by James Melzer
I'm Perfect You're Doomed by Kyria Abrahams
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Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann 
Journey on the Estrada Real by Glenn Cheney
Just After Sunset: Stories by Stephen King
The Kingdom Hall no More by Daniel Chamberlayne 
Kiss the Darkness by Robert Wacaster
The Knight Life by Keith Knight
The Kwame Sutra
ebook: The Last Key by Rob Steiner
Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe
Lost + Found by David Trotter
The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn
Audiobook Men and Dogs by Katie Crouch
A Mile in my Flip Flops by Melody Carlson
Night of the Living Dead Christian by Matt Mikalatos
Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt
One Scream Away by Kate Brady
Outlive Your Life by Max Lucado
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The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout by Jill Abramson
Pure Heart by Rita Hsu Syers
Put Your Dreams to the Test by John C. Maxwell
Ravens by George Dawes Green
Ravished by a Highlander by Paula Quinn
Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates  
Salem the Safety Seal by Otto Scamfer
The Secrets of Newberry by Victor McGlothin
Sexaholics by PYNK
Shattered Wings by Bryan Healey
Shawls Two (Vogue Knitting on the Go)
Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoos by Robin Jones Gunn
A Slaying in the Suburbs: The Tara Grant Murder by Steve Miller and Andrea Billups
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
Soul Harvest by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins
Street Boners by Gavin McInnes
Tattoos on the Heart by Greg Boyle
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Tempted by Fate by Kate Perry
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Wild Evolution by C. Fern Cook
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