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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Review: Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale

Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Romance
Paperback 384 pages
Book Source: the publisher, Sourcebooks
My Rating: 85 (Solid B)

Rumors of ruined maidens, coldblooded duels, swindles, and murder swirl around the impoverished 'Devil Earl.' But Faelan Savigar hides an even darker secret.

Roderica Delamore longs for a normal life but fears she'll end up mad or suicidal like the forebears from whom she inherited her "gift" of sensing others thoughts and emotions. As the two find their way to each other against all odds, Roddy's growing love for Faelen may end up saving him or destroying her… A breathtaking historical romance filled with poignancy, darkness, love, and an unexpected twist of Gaelic magic…

My Thoughts:

Nine-teen year old Roddy and 35-ish Faelan are quite the pair.  He has the delvish looks of dark hair and blue eye, while Roddy resembles a fairy with her golden wispy hair, slight form, and odd all seeing gray eyes.  Roddy has a telepathic gift, so when she has a chance meeting with Faelan, the Devil Earl, and she can't read his mind, she sets her marriage hopes on him. Never mind his devilish reputation, she just knows he is her only hope for a good and normal life. Plus there is just something about her that makes her breathe quicken. Faelan stirs up emotions in Roddy she never knew she had.

The pair marry quickly and set for his estate of Iveragh, in a remote corner of Ireland. Need I say more? Ireland with its magical history and eartheal beauty is the perfect setting for these two. Roddy and Faelan fall deeper in love with each other during the course of the tale, despite each harboring a secret from the other. There is some mystery and a wee bit of intrigue included as well. And lets not forget, the passionate love scenes as well.

This story has all of the elements I like in a story, however I had a few issues. First, Roddy was initially presented as a headstrong, risky girl. She seemed strong and determined. However, as the story continued, Roddy changed into a shy, sometimes petulant child. I felt like this was not the girl that I started with in the story. My second issue may in fact be influencing how I view Roddy. Faelan calls Roddy his "little girl" quite often. She was much younger and immature than him, I get it. However, the "little girl" started to creep me out, especially when he would say it and then passionately kiss her. I'm not a prude, but come on.

My last issue was Faelan's secret and the magical element of the story. I kept waiting to find out what this big secret was, and when I did I thought it was meh. The book was a originally published in 1987, so maybe it had a bigger impact back then. Today you could trip over the number of books with magical elements in them. It has become commonplace.

I think these issues are minor because they certainly didn't stop me from finishing the book.  If anything I am curious to read Kinsale's other works. 

Laura Kinsale's website

My Rating:  85/100  A solid B because as ling as I skipped over those two words I was cool.  It was a decent story, if a little dated.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction, Reading Romance

Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my review copy.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

LOST: The End

What follows are my thoughts on the final episode of LOST.  If you haven't seen it, then please don't read this post as there are spoilers.  Plus you should watch it for yourself and get your own impressions.

Well, what can I say? I am semi-disappointed however I wasn't expecting too much to begin with.  I realized early on that the side-ways was a bit wonky, because the people in love would meet up and then say "See you there later." Why are they meeting up? Oh don't tell me they are all dead! Well apparently they are! But according to Jack's father, they were waiting for Jack in order to move on together, because they all spent a significant amount of special time together. According to Christian Shepard, everyone in that church was dead, either before or after Jack. Yea, not liking that.  I spend a significant amount of time at work.  Does this mean I may eventually end up with those people in the after life?   Please Lord no.

I do like that everyone found one another.  Jin and Sun, Sayid and Shannon, Sawyer and Juliet were the most special for me.  I liked these characters the most.  As far as the island story line wrapping up, I felt it was too predictable and didn't jive for me.  You drain the life force of the island and Smokey becomes human, thus being able to kill him.  Water into wine, water into blood.  Come on!  I did like the two Star Wars references right off the bat though.  Nice touch.  And Hurley taking over the island, with Ben as his number two.  That made sense.

No, this show didn't wrap-up nicely at all. Lots of unanswered questions and things just cast aside.  For instance, Dharma, how Widmore got there, the Other others: what happened to them?  The Asian guy and the temple: what was up with that?  I'm sure there are other things I could think by why bother.  My point is made.

My main problem is the series itself. The writers keep saying it was a character driven show and blah, blah, blah, and yet that is NOT how this show started out. It was about the island and the sci-fi, mystical stuff going on. Maybe some good vs. evil because of the Others.  But the loves and lives of the characters, religious themes of redemption and sacrifice, they were not prominent.  It was about the crazy crap that happened on the island.  Polar bears showing up, time travel, the island moving!  The show evolved into something totally different than when it started. I understand that shows evolve and change but not that much.  My friend at work seems to think LOST started to change when J.J. Abrams lessened his influence.  That's certainly a plausible theory and would make sense.

So, everyone in the church is dead. Why is Claire with a deceased baby Aaron, if he didn't die? How did Penny die? The side-ways was a purgatory for them to deal with their issues before moving on. Ben
wasn't ready to move on, so he stayed outside. The writers have always maintained the show wasn't about Purgatory but apparently it was.

Most of the stuff I have read not on blogs is mixed.  Some love it, some hate it.  You can't please everyone.  As for myself, I was only watching to see how it all ended because I invested the time. I am not surprised that I'm not totally happy, but I wasn't expecting to be. If that makes sense.

Am I glad I watched it?  I don't know, it's a T.V. show.  Some people say it changed they way they watched T.V.  For me that is not the case.  But I think that's because the way I watch changed years ago with, you guessed it, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Now that was a show that was character driven and sci-fi.  Another show was ER, back in the good days, but I digress. 

It's over and I have some books to read now :)

For more LOST stuff:
here is a video with tons of unanswered questions from LOST.  I laughed at it.

Oh and this little interesting article:

Come on guys, really??  You didn't make enough money?  I think this says it all.

I am an Amazon Associate.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Suddenly Sunday (May 23)

Suddendly Sunday is hosted by Svea from Confessions and Ramblings of a Muse in the Fog. Please stop by there to read hers and others Sunday posts.

Well hello my dear readers!  And how are you today?  Hope this finds you as well as I am.  Although it is true I am a wee bit sad about the end of LOST tonight, I am happy to finally see the end.  As much as I enjoy the show, I do feel that at times I was taken for a joyride with no hopes of getting that hour of my life back.  Now I will have that time back to use on another T.V, show. 

Speaking of which, I just found out that Legend of the Seeker has been cancelled (IMDB link).  This is  a fun show that delivers every week.  It's based on Goodkind's series of 9 tomes, which I have yet to read, although the first one is on my nightstand. It was filmed in New Zealand, so I'm sure it was quite expensive to film, but the scenery was gorgeous. 

If you are sad about the end of LOST, an excellent I highly recommend is Fringe.  You can catch up over the summer.  The writing and acting are some of the best around.

As far as reading goes, because I do read books in addition to watching all of this TV, I am in the middle of Stealing Lumby, the second book in the series by Gail Fraser.  So far this is a nice, easy, cozy read.  After my latest trip to Lumby it is on to the Cornish Coast of England with  A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware, my new favorite author.  Definitely looking forward to that one.

On the review front, I am behind. I know I say this every week, but unfortunately it is true.  I finished Uncertain Magic which was alright.  I also have Shana Galen author of the Making of a Duchess coming to visit in early June, so I really need to get cracking on that review as well. 

I have been busy watching hockey since my boys in the orange and black are doing so well. Game 5 and possible series clincher is tomorrow night. They haven't been to the Finals since 1997, so I am excited. The city will go nuts. Not as crazy as for the Phillies, but nuts all the same.

Other than that, life is pretty busy.  Work is always busy, but I have time sensitive work that needs to be finished.  No pressure :)  Oh, and as far as the teaching thing goes, the class I was scheduled for was cancelled, but I have another opportunity coming up in July.  That class is two nights a week, but it's more structured.

Well enjoy your week, especially you lucky gals heading out to BEA in New York.  Have lots of fun and I wish I was there with you.  Although with all of those books....maybe it's a good thing I'm not there.  Still, would love to meet you all someday.  Peace out home slices and happy reading :)

Go Flyers!

 I am an Amazon Associate.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Review: The Handy Law Answer Book by David L. Hudson Jr.

The Handy Law Answer Book by David L. Hudson Jr.
Publisher: Visible Ink Press
Genre: non-fiction, law, history
Paperback, 450 pages
Book Source: Online Publicist
My Rating: 90 (It's non-fiction)

From the publisher:

Combining practical legal tips with an exhaustive overview of the law in the United States, The Handy Law Answer Book provides a history of the U.S. legal system, including the personalities who shaped it.

Chapters include: The Bill of Rights (including James Madison's speech to Congress in which he argued for the Bill of Rights), Criminal Procedures, Employment Law, and Family Law. Through these, as well as others, you get an introduction to various laws, important cases, court opinions, and how they might affect you.

You'll learn how to find a lawyer; what happens when you file a lawsuit or are sued by someone; what your rights in the workplace are; and what you can expect when you have your day in court. Plus, you'll get tips on how to read those legal citations, as well as discover some fascinating--and quirky--legal cases.

My Thoughts:

So you are probably thinking, what in the world is this book and why is Jenny reviewing it?  Well, I agreed to review this book because it includes the history behind the birth of our Constitution and system of law.  In addition,  law cases of note are highlighted in each chapter, and I like reading that kind of stuff.  Way back when, I had an intro to law class at Temple U. (where I obtained my Masters in Pinochle) and the law has always interested me.  So what exactly does this book contain?  Lets get to it.

The book has nine chapters which cover topics that people are most likely to encounter during their life time:
  • Constitutional law
  • Bill of Rights and 14th Amendment
  • Court System
  • Lawyers and Law Suits
  • Criminal Procedures
  • Credit and Bankruptcy
  • Employment 
  • Family Law  
  • Personal Injury 
The chapters are presented in a question and answer format which is easy and simple to read and understand.  This is a good thing, because when it comes to the law, I think the eyes of most people tend to glaze over.  The writing is also done in an easy to understand language.  It is not legalese, which again can be discouraging to most people, except lawyers.

The first couple of chapters deal with the birth of our Constitution and legal system, so there is more history here than in later chapters.  These were the most interesting to me, but that is because of my interest in history.  Due to the current economic climate, some may find the latter chapters more interesting, because it can be tough talking to someone about bankruptcy or family matters.  I think these chapters provide a good background for research when looking for a lawyer for a particular problem.  If you have medical issues you consult the Internet first before going to your physician, don't you?  Well if you have some legal questions, you can check this book first, before seeking a lawyer.  Although it should not replace the services or expertise of a lawyer.

This book is easy reading and is something you can pick up and down at any time.  People who enjoy TV programs such as Law and Order, or may be considering a career in law, would probably benefit from this book. This book also contains a full copy of the Constitution in the back.  This is for all you Americans who don't know what the electoral college is.  My opinion may be knit-picky, but I think as an American, you should know the basic rules of the land you live in.

If you want to learn more about legal system and it's history, check this book out.  As final food for thought, I leave you with a quote, albeit lengthy, from Billings Learned Hand.  I had never heard of him before, but he is considered to be of the best judges in history.  And he never served on the Supreme Court.

"Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.  While it lies there it needs no constitution, no law, no court to save it.  And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women?  It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes.  That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. 

A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few; as we have learned to our sorrow.  The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs interests alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of Him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned but never quite forgotten; that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side by side with the greatest."  (pg. 107)

My sentiments exactly!

My Rating: 90/100.  It's non-ficiton so it's tough to rate.

Thanks to Lisa the Online Publicist for sending me a copy.

I am an Amazon Associate.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

It's my birthday! Throw your hands up!

Yes my fellow bloggers, it is my birthday today!  I will not tell you my exact age, but lets just say it is north of 35.  I never would have thought I would be this number.  It doesn't bother me.  It just feels weird.  I guess I always thought that people should act a certain way as they aged, but I still feel like my same goofy self.  As I have been my whole life.  I still like sci-fi and YA shows, and I am still as open minded today as I was in my twenties.  I may be a little crazier than usual, but whatever!  I guess these years of experience have taught me that it doesn't matter what people think and I have finally embraced that.  Just be yourself and the rest will come.

So what are my exciting plans?  Give the dog a bath today and go out to dinner at some point.  Nothing too exciting, since I had plenty of excitement last night.  My beloved Flyers, pulled off history and have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals!  Holy crap people!  They were down 3 games in the series, came back to force game 7, and promptly gave up 3 goals.  Oh yes, there was a whole lot of cursing in my house last night, but they crawled back and won last night.  They gave me an awesome birthday gift indeed. 

The Flyers are the only home team I am truly emotionally vested in.  Yes, I am a Phillies fan, but the Flyers are my first true love.  So now they face Montreal, who pulled off an amazing playoff run themselves.  And I'm okay with whatever happens.  Neither team should have made the playoffs, so the fact that they are both still here, speaks volumes about all of the players and their dedication.  So good luck to all.

As far as reading goes, I am currently reading Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale.  I am flying through it, but I am still puzzled by one aspect of the story.  I really want to know what's up with Faelan.  Will I find out what his big dark secret is?  I better!

And I am almost finished with Prima Donna by Megan Chance.   I am on the fence with that one though.  My review for that will appear first on Royal Reviews.  I am sure you have all heard by now that Alaine, Teddy, and Annie, have stepped down from running the blog.  Those gals have done a super awesome job but need to step back and slow things down a bit.   Fortunately, a blogger named Angela stepped forward to take up the mantle of RR.  So I thought I would help a sister out and continue doing guest posts.

Oh and the usual, I'm a bit behind in writing up some reviews.  Are you surprised, because I'm not :)

Well that's it for now.  I have some things to do, and fun to be had, so I'll chat with ya later.
Happy Reading and enjoy your weekend :)

I am an Amazon Associate.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

LOST: Across the Sea

"You can't do that because it is against the rules. One day you will make your own rules".


 If you do not want to knom then stop reading.

Here's goes with my random thoughts and musings on last night's episode.

Well Jacob has certainly done that, hasn't he? This was a fantastic episode. Even though many of my questions were answered, the episode still left me with some new questions, but you know what/ We are not going to get all of the answers we seek, so we have to accept that. Some things may just not be answered, like what is the light source? I interpreted it to be like the tree of Wisdom, and the island a sort of Garden of Eden. The Donkey Wheel does drop you in the Middle East where all of the Bible stories originate. (The exact place name is escaping me at the moment.) If I remember correctly, Island Mom said the Light is the source of good, evil, life, death, and answers to any questions. It must be protected or man will abuse it.

Which brings us to Island Mom. I do wonder where she comes from, but then again, where does the Light come from. I can deal with never learning her exact origins, because the story of Jacob and the Man in Black (MIB) explained a lot. The skeletons, how Smokey came to be, and Jacob's background. Poor MIB, never gets a name. My husband thinks his name will be a bomb dropped in the finale. Possible.

Back to crazy Island Mom. OMG! Bad enough she killed the twins birth mom, but then what she did to MIB was so sad. MIB agreed with her opinion of men, being evil, greedy, and corrupt, but he didn't care. All he wanted was off the island, any way he could. He questioned his existence, and didn't take things for granted, like Jacob did. MIB questions everything and Jacob just goes with the flow, like a sheep following the herd. I guess curiosity killed the cat. Oh and the wine that Island Mom made Jacob drink. Does that make him or contribute to his eternity? See, crazy Mom. Normal Moms don't damn their children to eternal life, regardless of what they need to protect.

Now that I think about it, you could consider this story to have religious overtones, with Island Mom being God, and Jacob and MIB being angels. There is one who never questions their god (Jacob) and the troublemaker (MIB aka Lucifer the fallen angel). Or am I making too much from it? Possible. But how about the fact that Jacob turned his brother's soul, if you want to call it that, into Smokey. Talk about guilt. And that is how Jacob's game came to be. He was responsible for unleashing Smokey, so he is now responsible for controlling it.

My girlfriend at lunch said people all over the web were angry with last night's episode, but I wasn't. What are your thoughts? Are you angry? Are you satisfied with the answers you are getting? I agree some are tied up prettily with a bow, but what did you expect?  And btw, my hubby is apparently not pleased and can't wait for it to be over. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Suddenly Sunday (May 9)

Suddenly Sunday is hosted by Svea from Confessions and Musing of a Muse in the Fog.  Be sure to stop by there for more Sunday posts.

Happy Sunday and Happy Mother's Day!  Hope you are all enjoying your weekend and special day.  My mom and I spent a lovely day together at a flea market, her favorite thing to do.  As usual, we got a little lost, because we always do, but we also laugh our butts off the whole day too.

So, as far as reading goes, I am currently reading Prima Donna by Megan Chance.  Interesting although a bit sad.  And lets just say the frontier land of Seattle in the 1870's is one tough place to live.  Whew!  Thank goodness for paved streets and clean water.  I am also reading the Handy Law Answer Book by David L. Hudson, Jr.  This book so far is chock full of information, but so far so good, it reads well.  Next up is Uncertain Magic by Laura Kinsale.  I believe it was released a few days ago.  Yes, I'm a bit behind, but that is because I was away last weekend.

Where you may ask?  Oh, a place I would advise against going to...ever.  My husband had a free trip offer to Reno, Nevada, so we figured how bad could it be?  Lets try it.  Luckily, we have fun wherever we go, because other than that, it was not fun.  I'm sorry if you like Reno and are offended, but honey, Atlantic City, New Jersey is better.  And that is saying something.  I am not a fancy girl by any means, but I'm glad I have street smarts.  Lets just leave it at that.  I think if we would have stayed at the Peppermill Resort we would have had a better time.  Our trip was from Harrah's so we had to stay there. 

I did meet Debbie Macomber though.  I was sitting at the Peppermill, knitting a shawl, and this woman walked by, stopped and said, "I knit too!"  We chatted for a couple minutes and then she tells my "I'm Debbie Macomber."  "Oh you write books!"  I felt bad because I haven't gotten around to reading any of her work, but I have knit several of her patterns from said books.  Long story short, she was in town for a book signing, and she was a very lovely person to meet.  Unfortunately I couldn't knit with her, but I did drop her an email and told her to look me up the next time she is in Philly.  I better read one of her books pretty soon.

My Flyers were also able to stave off elimination and being swept Friday night against the Bruins.  Next game is Monday in Boston  As much as I keep hope alive, I am not a fool.  My boys were lucky enough to get in the playoffs at all, so it's all good.  However, I will say this, I have watched many of the other hockey games this playoff season.  I have never seen so many calls go Pittsburgh's way in my life!  My goodness, can you fix the games any more Gary Bettman!  If you call things one way, you have to call them the other, and the refs don't in any of the Pittsburgh games so far.  Now I know I may be slightly biased, but seriously, it's very obvious how you want these games to go.  Hockey will never be as popular as football or baseball.  Deal and move on.  Stop ruining the sport! 

Breath Jenny....breath.  Ok rant over. So other than work being insane, everything else is going well.  I'll find out soon if my first summer class is a go.  I am also going to teach another class in the second half of the summer.  That one is a definite go.  I am excited and such a nerd, aren't I? Oh well, but that's me!

Well, enjoy your week and happy reading :)  See you around blog land!


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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Fiction
Trade paperback 391 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating: 97/100

In the small river town of La Luna, Louisiana, Calla Lily Ponder bursts into being, a force of nature as luminous as the flower she is named for. Under the loving light of the Moon Lady, the feminine force that will guide and protect her throughout her life, Calla enjoys a blissful childhood – until it is tragically cut short. From her mother, Calla learns compassion and healing through the humble womanly art of “fixing hair.” On the banks of the La Luna River, she discovers a sweet, succulent first love that is as enticing as the music, food, and dancing of her Louisiana home. When heartbreak hits, Calla leaves the familiarity of her hometown and heads downriver to the untamed city of New Orleans, where her destiny further unfolds.

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is the story of a pink-collar heroine whose willingness to remain vulnerable in the face of adversity opens our hearts to the possibility of love growing from sorrow.

My Thoughts:

This is the story of Calla Lily Ponder who grew up in the small town of La Luna nestled along the Mississippi River in Louisiana. We meet her family and friends, but most importantly her mother, whom she calls M' Dear. Call Lily has a wonderful loving relationship with her mom. They are best friends as well as mother and daughter. Everything Calla Lila is and grows up to become, is due to her mother and their special relationship. It is because of M'Dear that Calla Lily chooses to become a beautician, and grows up to be one of the finest young ladies I have read about in quite a long time.

Calla Lily is a sweetheart! She is kind to everyone she meets, and strives to see the best in people, She tries not to be mean or judgmental towards others. Calla Lily has also inherited what M'Dear calls healing hands. This is the ability to make her salon clients feel whole again. To ease their cares and worries with the touch of her hands and sometimes the kindest of words. Calla is truly what I cal good people.

During the course of the story, Calla Lily experiences some of the toughest heartaches of her life. But she manages to pull through with the help of friends and family, and of course, the Moon Lady. Who is the Moon Lady? Well, you can read about her in the beginning of the book and then here and there throughout the story. Basically, according to M'Dear, the Moon Lady is the benevolent force who watches over Calla Lily and the residents of La Luna. I interpreted her to be like Mother Earth, except she is the Moon.

I loved this story. Wells' writing placed me firmly in the story with her descriptions of small town Southern life in Mississippi, and again when Calla moves to New Orleans. The accented dialogue, the food, the weather, everything made me feel as though I was in Louisiana. I did have one complaint, at first. Sometimes it seemed as though Calla never grew up. She was almost childish in her thinking at times. However, I realized that is exactly what I liked about her. Calla never becomes jaded or angry like adults can be. Her positive attitude and way of living are simple and uncomplicated. With so many sad and mean people in the world, it was nice to escape from that for a while. So my complaint, is really not a complaint after all!

So, if you are looking for an enjoyable read, that transports you down South in the company of good people, then this books is for you. After reading this one, I will definitely check out Wells' other books as well.
My Rating: 97/100

If you are interested in hearing an interview with Rebecca Wells, stop by blogtalkradio to listen in.  This was recorded last night, May 5th.

And to read Rebecca's thoughts on her love of book clubs stop by here.

2010 Challenges Met: 100+

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for asking me to join this tour. 


 I am an Amazon Associate.