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There are TWO posts today...Sorry about that :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Publisher: William Morrow
Genre: Mystery, paranormal
Trade paperback, 352 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
My Rating: 85/100

From TLC Book Tours home page:

Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville. While growing up, Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual at every funeral: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words, “Sleep well, and stay where I put you.”

Now Maylene is gone and Bek must return to the hometown—and the man—she abandoned a decade ago, only to discover that Maylene’s death was not natural . . . and there was good reason for her odd traditions. In Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected—and beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. From this dark place the deceased will return if their graves are not properly minded. And only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk. . . .

My Thoughts:

The town of Claysville entered into a contract with supernatural forces long ago for the protection and well being of its residents.  Two families pay the high price the contract demands: the Barrows,  women who serve as Graveminders for the dead and, currently, the Montgomerys, the men who serve as the Undertakers for the dead, and coincidentally operate the only funeral home in town.  It is now time for Rebekkah and Byron to assume their roles, unfortunately they have no idea what awaits them.  They have been kept in the dark about their ultimate work by the families who loved them dearly, and wanted to see them have normal lives, at least for a bit.  Once Rebekkah and Byron assume their duties as Graveminder and Undertaker, everything changes. 

I loved the world and plot Marr created in this book.  The world of the living and dead being side by side, how things worked, the traditions, the back story, etc.  It is interesting and fresh to me.  What I didn’t like and almost made me put the books down, was the relationship between Rebekkah and Byron.  They have a history together that goes back to their high school days.  There was a tragic event and they felt guilty about it, almost as if they were the impetus for it.  Regardless, there is a chemistry between them, a pull neither one can shake; and over the years they have come together as lovers, and then parted on bad terms, usually with Rebekkah doing the breaking up.  I get all that.  Rebekkah has issues.  However, when she and Byron meet up again, Rebekkah came across to me as a bit of a tease. 

At first, it was bearable, but then I felt as though Rebekkah’s behavior was too much. She knows Byron loves her and only her, but she continues to lead him on and shut him down, refusing not to talk about their relationship.  Yet, hold me close because I’m lonely and scared.  I felt like Byron was a puppy and Rebekkah was teasing him with treats.  I disliked Rebekkah greatly and almost put the book down, but….I sucked it up and finished the book, because of the overall arc.  I wanted to know what was going to happen.

Thankfully by the end of the story, Byron stood up for himself like a man, and Rebekkah wised herself up.  Together, they tackled the problem of the worlds of the living and the dead being side by side.  This book finishes nicely and does not end on a cliffhanger.  However, Marr has left her options open and the overall arc is nowhere near finished.  There are clues in both worlds that something is not right and issues need to be addressed. 

With the exception of the relationship issue, I did enjoy this book.  Marr has a way of writing and world building that allows for the real world to melt away.  I would read the next one in the series, however I’m not waiting on pins and needles.

For more information about the author, Melissa Marr, and all of her books, please visit one of her many social media sites:

For other reviews and points of view, check out some of the other tour stops:

Tuesday, January 17th: Unabridged Chick
Tuesday, January 17th: The Road to Here
Wednesday, January 18th: Raging Bibliomania
Thursday, January 19th: Wordsmithonia
Friday, January 20th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Monday, January 23rd: Books Like Breathing
Tuesday, January 24th: Jenny Loves to Read
Wednesday, January 25th: Life in Review
Thursday, January 26th: Reviews by Lola
Tuesday, January 31st: Elle Lit.
Wednesday, February 1st: The Scarlet Letter
Thursday, February 2nd: Savvy Verse & Wit

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on the tour :)

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on the tour :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fitness Friday: Weights and Strength Training

This week you should be thinking about adding some weights to your routine.  All of the cardio and dieting in the world is not going to give you that definition you are looking for.  You will lose weight, sure, but the definition or toned look comes from weight training.  And don't worry, women don't bulk up like men, unless you take steroids or something.  Our bodies are just not built to do that help without help.

Strength training not only tones your muscles, but makes your body a more effective furnace for calories.  Muscle burns more calories while inactive than fat.  Also, strength training helps fight age-related loss of muscle mass, in addition to osteoporosis.  Our bones and muscles work together to strengthen and support our body as a whole, protecting our joints and internal organs, and helping us to stand up straighter.  But we need to challenge our bones and muscles to make them stronger.  Capisce?

There are many ways to strength train.  You can start off with just your body weight or you can use free weights.  These can be purchased or Target or Walmart.  You can also make weights from items in your house, such as soup cans, water bottles, or filling empty water bottles with sand.  The ideas is to start with a weight that you can lift with good form and not strain,  however the last few reps should be difficult.  If you never lifted weights before, go easy.  You can start with 3 lbs. to be on the safe side.  I started with 5lbs. and worked my way up from there.  It took quite some time.

The plan is to do 2 sets, 10-12 reps of each move.  The following are beginner exercises and what I used when I first started out.  I would recommend checking YouTube to watch the correct way to perform these moves and try doing them in front of a mirror.  And if a move is painful don't do it.  Find something else.

  • Biceps curl
  • Chest press
  • Deadlift
  • One arm kneeling row
  • Lunges OR squats (just be sure not to let your knee go past your toes; some days I can't do one or the other due to the bad knees)
  • Seated shoulder press
  • Triceps kick back OR overhead press
  • Single calf raises (one leg at a time)
  • Crunches
  • Superman move (laying on your stomach, strengthens your back)
If these seems too much or you would rather try moves using strictly your body weight, this link will give you a program from Livestrong.  It's a good program and I do many of these moves myself, minus the jumping ones towards the end.  The knees don't like it.

Well I think that's enough food for thought for this week. Before we chat again in two weeks, 

tell me, how has the past two weeks of cardio gone for you?  Enjoy it, see any improvement?  What would you like to add to your routine?  Any topics you like to see in an upcoming Fitness Friday?

DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert.  Anything I post on here is from my own experiences or from books, magazines, or websites I have read.  You do what you will with the information I provide.

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: The Luxe by Anna Godbersen

Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA
Hardback 433 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 97/100

In the self-contained world of young Gilded Age Manhattan socialites, Elizabeth and Diana Holland reign supreme. Or so it seems. Scratch the surface, though, and you can detect festering jealousies that threaten to topple them. Elizabeth suffers a more literal fall when her carriage overturns and she is carried away by the swift East River current. That's only the beginning of the action and suspense in The Luxe, the launch volume in a teen series by Anna Godbersen. (From Goodreads)

My Thoughts: sinful.  These are the wrods that immediately come to mind after reading The Luxe.  The plot is not difficult.  It is actually very simple and to me completely predictable.  It was however the journey in finishing the book, the delight I had while reading this book, that made it's simpleness palatable.  The basic plot is this: rich, young, gorgeous people in 1899 New York, that must marry certain people for family's sake.  They gossip, party, and waste their days away thinking how awesome they all.  Now although all of the characters sound totally vapid, there are one or two that make the story redeemable.  There is Diana Holland who tries to buck convention.  She likes to read, dress differently, and speak her mind.  There is also Henry Schoonmaker who starts out as quite a despicable character, but when he meets the woman he really loves, he changes his ways.  At least the best that he can.  His character becomes much more likable.  I would be remiss if I didn't mention Penelope the trouble maker.  She is quite a piece of work, and every story needs a villain, don't they? 

Overall, the book has the feel of soap opera, something I don't normally read.  But for whatever reason, I completely lost myself in this book.  One could say Godbersen is trying to demonstrate how women had little freedom, and family was everything, but to analyze this book in that way seems false to me. The Luxe is a guilty pleasure, plain and simple.  It allowed me to escape life and imagine being a fly on the wall in 1899 New York, and for me that is the sign of a good read.  I can't wait to get my hands on the second in the series, Rumors.  

{Previously cross-posted on Royal Reviews}

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, January 9, 2012

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers-and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.(From Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Those who hail Jackson's work as a masterpiece are correct.  This book is deliciously creepy.  Just read these lines below:

"No human eye can isolate the unhappy coincidence of line and place which suggests evil in the face of a house, and yet somehow a maniac juxtaposition, a badly turned angle, some chance meeting of roof and sky, turned Hill House into a place of despair, more frightening because the face of Hill House seemed awake, with a watchfulness from the blank windows and a touch of glee in the eyebrow of a cornice.  Almost any house caught unexpectedly or at an odd angle, can turn a deeply humorous look on a watching person, even a mischievous little chimney, or a dormer like a dimple, can catch up a beholder with a sense of fellowship; but a house arrogant and hating, never off guard, can only be evil.....It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope.  Exorcism cannot alter the countenance of a house; Hill House would stay as it was until it was destroyed." (pg. 34-35)

Jackson is masterful at creating a frightening air of suspense and I honestly belive this book is the inspiration for many horror story tropes that are famailiar today.  A group of people decide to investigate a purportedly haunted house by staying at said house.  In our group we have the doctor or eminent authority in the field of the supernatural, the snarky flirty girl, the hot guy, and last but not least, the girl who has issues, with a mysterious history, and seems a wee bit odd.  This book was written in 1959, and haven't we all seen this group of people before?  Oh and lets not the forget the house itself.  Hill House is more of a character in this story than some of the people I previously mentioned.  Hill House influences its visitors, and eventually allows them to feel its wrath.  Or does it?  

You see, shortly after the guests arrive they begin to experience paranormal phenomenon.  Doors propped open close themselves, wind rushing through the house, voices, something scratching and banging to be let in your bedroom door.  Is it the house, ghosts, or another cause.  Jackson creates these scenes so well, that the reader can not help but be scared.  I read these passages so quickly I started to skip words.  I had to go back and re-read.  I had goosebumps, was creeped out, but had to know what happened.

This is not a long book, and I read it quickly because it was such a page turner.  My edition is from the Stephen King Horror Library with an introduction by King himself.  I started to read this first but realized it gave some of the story away, so I read it after.  I think this enhanced my reading experience.  I had read for years that this book is considered to be one of the best ghost stories or thrillers.  I have to concur.  I will definitely hang onto my copy and read it again in the future. 

My Rating: 100/100
Publisher: Viking Penguin (Penguin Group)
Genre: thriller, ghost story
Hardback 246 pages
Book Source: my shelves (Paperbackswap)

© Jenny Girl - 2011 "All Rights Reserved"

Friday, January 6, 2012

Fitness Friday: Getting Started

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Welcome to my first ever Fitness Friday!  I’m starting this to keep myself on track and to provide ideas, thoughts, poking, and prodding to others you may need it.  Many have said they want to get moving or lose  weight, so why don’t we try to help each other and do it together. 

This week is about getting started.  If you have good weather where you are, this can be as easy as going for a walk outside.  However, if you have to stay indoors like me, then I have an option for you to try.  Not everyone can afford a treadmill or elliptical for their house.  Space can also be an issue.  But luckily today’s cable providers have OnDemand which includes a channel called Exercise or Fitness.  In that section you can find many different types of workouts and fitness instructors.  The workouts are usually grouped by type, such as Cardio, 30 Minute, Dance, etc.  Today I will introduce you to the two instructors I started with, and inspired me to keep going on my fitness path.

Leslie Sansone is like the queen of walking at home to be fit.  She has a 1 mile and 2 mile program, and I would recommend either one.  The 2 mile is longer at about 30 minutes, and I think is a great starter work out for the home.  You don't need tons of room, and the moves are easy.  The best part is Leslie, because she is so personable, friendly, and encouraging.  It's walking with a friend.

Sansone has videos you can buy, but for a free taste of her workout check your OnDemand section of your cable provider or this YouTube video:

If you like this and want more, on the YouTube page, in the upper right hand corner is Part 2, to this video.

If you want something a little tougher, try something by Chris Freytag. Her workouts are a little longer, have some different moves and may include light weights.  Again Chris is warm, friendly and encouraging, and she always makes me work up a sweat.  Again, I discovered her workouts OnDemand.  Freytag also does a 10lb slim down plan and let me tell you, that sucker works. Some of it is a bit hard core , well it was for me, so ease your way into it.  Here is a sample from You Tube (I couldn't find the one that I used from Comcast):

So, what do you think?  A good start....something you can do....or is it inspiring other ideas in your head that you may try?  If you try these instructors, let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a fitness expert.  Anything I post on here is from my own experiences or from books, magazines, or websites I have read.  You do what you will with the information I provide.

© Jenny Girl - 2011 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What's up Wednesday?

Hello Everyone!  Hope this finds you all fine and doing well early in 2012.  I really meant to post this earlier but the day just got away from me.  You know it’s that work thing.  The last few weeks, I have been trying to clean up for 2012; write those old reviews, organize things, plan what to do for 2012.  The next several book reviews will be ones that have been hanging since last year.  I’ve also decided not to do that wrap up of DNF books from last year, because do really want to hear about that?  I didn’t finish the book because it wasn’t for me, for whatever reason.  We have all done it.  You know how these things happen.  So why rehash that.

On the reading front, things are going pretty well.  Currently, I am participating in a yearlong read-a-long of Middlemarch hosted by dovegreyreader at dovegreyreaderscribbles.  She is from Devonshire in the U.K. and her blog is quite interesting.  You should check it out and if you’re interested in the read-a-long, search for posts labeled Team Middlemarch.  We are reading it according to how the original work was published in 1871.  There are 8 parts and the first one, titled Miss Brooke, was published December 1, 1871.  This section should be completed by January 22, 2012, for discussion purposes.  If you so choose.  Here’s the link to the post kicking things off.  The post is also chock full of information about Middlemarch.  I really liked Miss Brooke and didn’t take me that long to read it.

In non-reading news, I will also start posting bits and pieces about fitness every other Friday.  I plan on calling it Fitness Friday, because you know, it’s got to rhyme.  Many people have said how they want to get moving, lose weight, stay on track, whatever, so I figured I would try and help out or assist.  I am by no means a fitness guru, but I do the best I can, and I love to share information.   The first post will be this Friday.  (Ha! And I said I wanted to simplify my life.)

Well I think I’ve chatted enough today.  What do you all have going on?  Hope your day is wonderful and your books are fab J

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Reading Goals for 2012


Seems so ominous doesn't it?  It's not.  I start every year with grand plans but half way through the year, I get side tracked.  I start accepting all kinds of review books, borrowing books from the library, and neglecting those poor books that I own.  You know, the books on my shelves, the books in the corner of my room, the books hidden in a bag in the closet.  Oh and did I mention the drawer full of books I have at work. From an empty office, I re-appropriated a nice, deep two drawer filing cabinet.  One drawer has work files, the other is books, mostly unread by me.  I have issues, I know.

Therefore, I am declaring 2012, the Year of Reading From My Shelves, or Nooks and Crannies if you prefer.  I will still read some review and library books, but am setting limitations for both categories.

Review and library books will not exceed 15 for the year, starting as of January 1, 2012.  Currently I have 7 of those spots filled, so I'll have to be super selective with the remaining 8.  An additional limitation for my library borrowing, is that any books I borrow, must be from a series I haven't finished, like the Percy Jackson series.  I've been thinking lately of how many series I have started and never finished.  I became mad at myself, because these are series I would love to finish, but if I keep accepting books, I'll never get to them.

With respect to challenges, I am saying No.  No reading challenges for 2012.  I keep signing up for these things, mainly because they have a pretty picture.  Then I forget to keep track, or don't have books that will fit, and I don't complete the challenge.  I  must stop the madness.

As usual, my yearly goals of timely reviews, improving my commenting, responding, visiting blogs, etc. is an ongoing process.  I improve every year, but could always do better.

As for personal goals, I'd really like to lose 20 pounds (who wouldn't), be a better person and more accepting of others, and try new things, like making my own bread.  I try to eat right, or at least semi-healthy, and I love my bread.  But trying to find a healthy bread option that doesn't cost an arm or a leg is near impossible.  So, I thought if I could make my own bread, like whole wheat, I would be better off.  Keep you posted on that.

I also want to explore writing.  It's not something I can do all the time, but when I'm in the right frame of mind, I can just go on and on.  I would like to explore new outlets, learn new things, and generally do whatever I want to do.  Simplify, improve myself, and be happy.

Apologies for turning this into a rambley post, but it appears these items are all related.  Books are a big part of my life, and my reading goals tend to mirror my overall general life goals. So 2012 is like a back to basics year, and I hope you enjoy the ride with me.

Do you have any specific goals for 2012, reading or personal?  I'd love to hear them :)

Book Source: © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome 2012 ! ! ! !

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From Microsoft Download Center

Happy New Year everyone!  May 2012 bring you health, wealth, and happiness. 
Love you and enjoy your day :)

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"