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

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Suddenly Sunday: And Suddenly the End of July

Hello dear readers!  I hope this finds you all well and either happily reading, watching the Olympics (am I allowed to use the name of the event), blogging, and/or knitting on this lovely hot day.  Can you believe its the end of July already?!  I can and can't.  I am tired of the brutally hot weather, as is everyone else I assume.  I'm looking very much to Fall and not running my air conditioner.  But as much as I enjoy the Fall, the summer flying by so quickly just blows my mind.  I know we all say this every now and then, but seriously, where does the time go?

Anyway, on the reading front, I have several books going.  First is The Stand for the Standalong.  After I wrote the mid-way review post, about three days later the book just died for me.  To the point that I was going to give up.  But I didn't.  I have skimmed along and have about 30 pages left to read.

Second I borrowed Catching Fire (#2 in the Hunger Games trilogy) from the library.  I LOVE IT!!!  I would stay home form work and read all day if I could.  I should have never waited so long between Fire and Games, either.  Fire does drop bits of info from Games but I had to sit and think to remember the details.  I won't be waiting so long for Mockinjay I tell you now.

Third, I started Written in Ashes about a young girl named Hannah and her discoveries in the Great Library of Alexandria.  Only about 40 pages in but quite good so far.  Enjoying the descriptions of ancient Egypt, and Hannah is a sweet character so far.

I have a few posts to write for the blog, but otherwise all quiet on the blogging front.  I am liking this easy does it blogging thing I have going on.  Before I forget, anybody up for a Bleak House read-along? I'm thinking November to start and that's as far as I got.  I'll keep you posted on the details.  

On the home front, this weekend has been all about fussing over the puppy.  Kona was spayed yesterday and we have providing lots of TLC.  She was out of it last night from the pain meds, and today she has been sleeping most of the day, but her little eyes look back to normal, don't you think?

That's about it from me folks.  It's a lazy Sunday here, and I'm glad.  Hope you are enjoying yours :)

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tour Stop and Review: Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon

My Rating: 93/100

From TLC Book Tours:

Dave Gurney, the most decorated homicide detective in the history of the NYPD, is still trying to adjust to life in upstate New York when a young woman who is producing a documentary on serial killers asks for his input.  Soon after this conversation, odd events begin occurring in Dave’s life: There is a strange problem with his tractor, a razor-sharp hunting arrow lands in his yard, and he narrowly escapes serious injury in a booby-trapped basement.  As things grow more bizarre, Dave finds himself reexamining the case of “The Good Shepherd”–which, 10 years before, involved a series of roadway shootings and a “Unabomber-like” manifesto expressing rage at society.  The killings ceased, and a cult of analysis grew up around the case with a consensus opinion that no one would dream of challenging–no one, that is, except Dave Gurney.  Mocked even by some who’d  been his allies in previous investigative outings, Dave is only heeded when the reawakened Good Shepherd proves by his actions that his agenda is more complex than previously thought.

My Thoughts:

I tend to shy away from detective novels because the lead character is usually battling drug or alcohol abuse,  divorced, fired from the job and a generally an unhappy and unlikable person, in my opinion.  Detectives are just not my thing.  However, retired detective Dave Gurney has me second guessing my decision to steer away from detective novels.  Sure,Gurney is a little crabby because he is recovering from almost dying from three gun shot wounds, but I would be too.

While recuperating, a friend asks Gurney a favor.  Could he please keep an eye on her daughter Kim, who is currently working on a television project involving the family members of those murdered by The Good Shepherd.  Who just happens to have never been found.  Gurney agrees because he is a nice guy, and then things start to get hinky.  Events raise Gurney's detective sense, and he starts probing the facts of The Good Shepherd cases, realizing there are many things wrong with the case file.  The story goes off from there and it is one good ride.

Gurney is a likable hero and detective. Watching over Kim and her project turns into the thing that pulls him out of the depression or rut he is in and kinda sorta realizes, but doesn't want to admit.  If you say it out loud it's true, and Gurney will not say it out loud.  The story takes off from here so I won't go into any other specific details.  The way the story unfolded was interesting and there were parts that had my blood pumping.  The suspense was palpable.  I was reading so fast to find out the outcome that I skipped over words.  I love it when books make me do that, even if it means going back to re-read.

I enjoyed almost all of the other characters in the book: Gurney's family, his snarky detective friend Hardwick (who made me chuckle), the murder victim's family members, who all had their little quirks and personalities, the FBI agents.  Everyone was so well drawn and easy to picture, thus adding to the reading of the story.  The only character I wasn't crazy about was Kim, and I think that may have been just me.  I immediately associated that name and character with someone from a TV show I didn't like, and it was hard to shake that dislike.  It could be Kim's age also, because she is in her early twenties thus being naive and not smart.  There is this side issue she is going through that's connected with her project and  she is not smart about all.  Lets just say that if she ended up dead, I wouldn't have been upset.  Too mean?

Lastly, as for the "correct" solving of the The Good Shepherd case, I didn't figure it out at all.  There was a moment early on that I thought might be the key, but no.  Gurney's investigations and thinking are included in the story but not enough for the reader to solve it.  It answer dangles in front of you but it's not until the suspenseful end that all is revealed.  I also want to point out that Let The Devil Sleep is the third book in a series, but totally stand alone reading.  The previous two cases, which I assume are the previous two books are mentioned, but not enough to spoil you from going back and reading them.  Which I think I just may do!

All in all an excellent book that reminded me not all detective novels are the same.

464 pages
Book Source: TLC Book Tours
Publisher: Crown Publishing

Thanks to TLC Book Tours for my review copy.

John Verdon’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS:

Tuesday, July 24th:  Wordsmithonia
Wednesday, July 25th:  Jenny Loves to Read
Thursday, July 26th:  Jen’s Book Thoughts
Monday, July 30th:  A Bookworm’s World
Tuesday, July 31st:  Sara’s Organized Chaos
Wednesday, August 1st:  Life in Review
Thursday, August 2nd:  Colloquium
Monday, August 6th:  Booklover Book Reviews
Tuesday, August 7th:  Stacy’s Books
Wednesday, August 8th:  Book Addict Katie
Thursday, August 9th:  House of Crime and Mystery
Monday, August 13th:  Crime Fiction Lover
Tuesday, August 14th:  A Novel Source
Wednesday, August 15th:  Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
Thursday, August 16th:  Bewitched Bookworms
Monday, August 20th:  Girls Just Reading
Wednesday, August 22nd:  Thoughts of Joy
Monday, August 27th:  Musings of a Bookish Kitty

© Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tour Stop and Book Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W.Gortner

Publisher: Ballantine Books/Random House
Genre: HF
Hardback 400 pages
Book Source: Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
My Rating: 90/100

From HFVBT Home Page:

No one believed I was destined for greatness.
So begins Isabella’s story, in this evocative, vividly imagined novel about one of history’s most famous and controversial queens—the warrior who united a fractured country, the champion of the faith whose reign gave rise to the Inquisition, and the visionary who sent Columbus to discover a New World. Acclaimed author C. W. Gortner envisages the turbulent early years of a woman whose mythic rise to power would go on to transform a monarchy, a nation, and the world. 
Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she and her brother are taken from their mother’s home to live under the watchful eye of their half-brother, King Enrique, and his sultry, conniving queen. There, Isabella is thrust into danger when she becomes an unwitting pawn in a plot to dethrone Enrique. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, torn between loyalties, until at age seventeen she suddenly finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man she loves yet who is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragon.
As they unite their two realms under “one crown, one country, one faith,” Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor Torquemada even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when the Moors of the southern domain of Granada declare war, a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, one that will test all of Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny.
From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and the intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile.

My Thoughts:

Queen Isabella of Spain:
  • Mother and Grandmother to several famous historical figures
  • Protector of the Roman Catholic Church and devout follower of Jesus Christ
  • Patron who launched Christopher Columbus' voyage to the New World
  • Started the process of uniting Spain and bringing her into a wonderful age after years of neglect, lawlessness, and corruption
So who was Isabella and how did she have such fortitude to do so much in a time when women were not highly regarded?  The Queen's Vow seeks to answer these questions by providing the reader a look into the early life of this amazing Queen.  From a young age, Isabella was a devout Catholic and gained strength and conviction through her faith of God.  This allowed Isabella to make the tough decisions that were required of her during her life and long reign.  

When one pictures Isabella, I think we tend to view her as this older, stern, religious figure, questioning Columbus about his proposed voyage.  The Queen's Vow succeeds in reminding us that Isabella was once a young, pretty, intelligent, and happy woman.  The Queen's Vow changes the reader's perception of Isabella.  She loved her family and her friends, and never thought she would be ruler of Castile.   Although her marriage to Ferdinand may have started as a political power play, The Queen's Vow suggests that this marriage became a love match, with Ferdinand and Isabella sharing power and having a strong and loving relationship.  

The Queen's Vow is a wonderfully imagined read about the early life and times of Queen Isabella of Spain.  Gortner's writing planted me firmly within Isabella's world with his descriptions of the clothes, the alcazar, the viper's of the Spanish Court, everything.  It was so easy to imagine and feel what Isabella may have been going through whenever she faced a tough decision or foe.  

Almost every work Gortner has produced is about a famous historical woman who has been inaccurately portrayed and often maligned throughout history.  In each case, Gortner captures the essence of  what these women may have been like and how they came to be such dominant forces in their respective times.  Gortner has done the same with Queen Isabella in The Queen's Vow and I hope readers enjoy getting to know this famous Queen who helped find America.

For more information about C.W. Gortner and his other works, please visit his website:


C.W. Gortner is the author of The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici and The Tudor Secret.  He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis in Renaissance Studies from the New College of California.

In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. His novels have garnered international praise and been translated into thirteen languages to date. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues.

He's currently at work on his fourth novel for Ballantine Books, about the early years of Lucrezia Borgia, as well as the third novel in his Tudor series,The Elizabeth I Spymaster Chronicles (US) or Elizabeth's Spymaster (UK).

Half-Spanish by birth, C.W. lives in Northern California. 

 Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Mid-point Review: The Stand by Stephen King

Here are my thoughts on The Stand half-way through The Standalong.  For details on that click here.

Be cautious!  Spoilers are ahead because I feel it's kinda unavoidable.

  • I am so not surprised that the U.S Government engineered a super flu that wiped out mankind, AND spread the infection to other countries so as not to be blamed.  Par for the course wouldn't you think?  I do believe we are one or two sneezes away from a mistake and a world catastrophe, unless it's intentionally done.
  • Story moves along quickly since the point of view changes continually, for the most part.  It's not choppy, and as soon as one character may be wearing out their welcome, their story ends and another comes in.
  • Stu Redman from Texas is by far my favorite.  Stand up guy, not as old as I thought he was, and a has a tough paper route through life so far.  Thinking he will be the main hero.
  • Larry from New York was pretty despicable in my eyes in the beginning.  He was your typical no-responsibility, what's in in it for me, why do I have to do x, kind of guy.  Thought nothing of himself.  Takes a while, but after the death of Rita (no surprise there) and meeting up with Joe and Nadine, he is growing on me.  I think he is finally becoming a man.  
  • Nadine = trouble..Enough said.
  • The little boy Joe is sweet and such a sad story.  Like how he came around.
  • The Dark Man is freaking scary and creepy!  He is the evilest of evil and has been around since the Garden of Eden.  If he shows up at your doorstep you are in trouble my friend.
  • I could not imagine being stuck in a jail cell when everyone else dies.  Enough on that.
  • The chapter on the people who didn't die from Captain Tripps but from like a bike accident or a broken leg...priceless!  Never thought about those situations happening, but yes, when you're all alone you are most vulnerable to anything!
  • Trashcan Man: want to feel sorry, but I don't.  Don't care for him or his story and with his bits I tend to skim rather than read.
  • Frannie and Harold....Harold is bad news and Frannie....she should know better.  I get that she is vulnerable and a bit scatter brained due tot he events, but come on, the issues with Harold are going to fester.  As much as I want to like Frannie, I can't completely.  She is a little too sweet for me.
  • Mother Abigail: enjoyed her back story and she is a doll.  And a prophet apparently.  Can't remember what happened to her in the movie or anyone else for that matter so curious to see if she has any hidden powers like the Dark Man.
I am up to page 575 and the gang has just left Mother Abigail's farm.  Overall I am enjoying the story.  There are some parts that I feel are over described or explained and I tend to skim those. Like I didn't need five pages to tell me how evil the Dark Man was.  However, one thing I have noticed is that the characters don't seem that developed or something.  They are kind of flat.  Each one is described but they don't really grow.  Is that because of the short time frame that is taking place?  The one character that has grown is Larry, which means he is probably destined for something.  With respect to Stu and Harold I feel like they were holding back and their characters are coming out now.

That's about all I can think of right now.  I am just enjoying the story and letting it played out.  No real deep thinking so far.  Well Mr. King, so far you are not disappointing or pissing me off as you have done in my past experiences.  Kudos!

Be sure to stop by the The Standalong Check-In Page for other people's thoughts so far.

 © Jenny Girl - 2012 "All Rights Reserved"