Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Random Musings

It's not really a musing but more of a bookish word for the day. My friend sent me this and I thought it was too clever not to share.

Urban Word of the Day: Tree-Book

Definition: A book printed on dead trees, i.e. paper, as opposed to an e-book, which only exists electronically.

Example of usage:

Thomas: Hey, how do you like your new Kindle?
Andrew: I don't know, I haven't used it yet. I'm still trying to finish all the tree-books I'm reading.

I'm a Tree-Book girl and darn proud of it!!

Continue reading the review...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Jenn's Review: The Cart Before The Corpse

Summary: Famous southern carriage-horse trainer Hiram Lackland, a handsome widower, dies mysteriously after retiring to a farm outside Mossy Creek. His estranged daughter, Merry Abbot, also a horse trainer, arrives to settle his estate. But Merry quickly plunges into bit-chomping dilemmas when her father's friend and landlord, mystery-novel maven Peggy Caldwell, insists he was murdered.

Before Merry can so much as snap a buggy rein, a handsome and annoying GBI investigator, Geoff Madison, is on her case. Then there's the troublesome donkey: Don Qui. Short for Don Quixote. And the fact that Hiram was teaching all of Mossy Creek's lonely women how to--ahem--drive his carriage.

Can Merry rein in the truth? What kind of horse play was her rakish dad involved in, and why would someone want to giddy-yup him into an early grave?

Stay tuned for the answers in this first episode of, "As the Carriage Wheel Turns."

Review: If you are a huge fan of Murder, She Wrote, this book is for you. Otherwise, this is brutal. This is the first time I've ever been able to say that I couldn't put it down because I couldn't wait for it to be over.

Where do I start? The writing was... floundering, at best ~and that's ignoring all the grammatical and punctuation errors in the uncorrected manuscript (this was an Advanced Reading Copy, so these things are to be overlooked). The character's are never developed and wander around the town (as well as the book) haplessly. I didn't find any of them compelling and didn't really give a damn about what happened to any of them, except perhaps the animals.

I realize that this is a spin off of a Mossy Creek series, but it is touted as a start to a new stand alone series. If this be the case, then there should at least be some development to the character of Merry, who is new to the town. However, there is no substance to what should be emotional and dramatic time for Merry. Peggy, who is portrayed as being the 'Jessica Fletcher' of Mossy Creek, suddenly becomes a capable stable hand and horse handler. Random relationships are thrown together for different characters at the end of the book with nothing to support them.

There are way too many plot devices, only a few of which are well managed. It meandered from scene to scene with no real sense of flow. It also didn't help that the narrative kept jumping voices each chapter making it seem even choppier. As for the horses, I like horses as much as any suburbanite girl, but there was a lot of technical jargon about carriages that bogged down an already lumbering story. As for the culprit, I won't spoil it for those who plan to prove me wrong, but I thought him/her quite incapable of the murder; it was rather ludicrous, actually.

Somewhere, there might have been a story in there, but it was buried by too many ideas and poor execution. I have never put down a book while reading it's climax (I'd rather be ridiculously late than be interrupted then), but I walked away from this for half a day right in the middle of the showdown between the protagonist and antagonist. Please don't waste your time.

Oh, and this was my first eBook. More on that to come...


Final take: 1.0/5

Continue reading the review...

Monday, March 29, 2010

GJR in a new Book Lover's Journal

Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers by Rachelle Rogers Knight brings exceptional works of fiction to the attention of readers while inciting their overall enjoyment by exploring thoughts, feelings and emotions through the course of reading. The journal features dozens of cross-referenced lists of literary awards and notable picks and offers more than 2,500 suggestions to help readers discover great literature and new authors. Users can record books read, jot down thoughts and ideas, and keep track of recommendations, books borrowed and loaned, and book club history.

We are delighted that Girls Just Reading was included in the reference pages in this reference/source book. I received mine over the weekend and truly enjoyed flipping through the pages. The one thing I didn't enjoy; realizing how many books I've never read. ;)

I also noticed that a lot of the book blogs I read are mentioned in the references with us. As well as some that I don't currently read, that will be added to my blog roll.

I think that Read, Remember, Recommend: A Reading Journal for Book Lovers would be a fantastic gift for the bookworm in your family.

She also has one specifically for the YA reader in your house. Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens: A Reading Journal for Young Adult Book Lovers

The author, Rachelle Rogers Knight has her own blog, Bibliobabe where she incorporates parts of the journal into her blog. I have added her blog to my favorites as well.

Continue reading the review...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Julie's Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Summary: Emily Benedict came to Mullaby, North Carolina, hoping to solve at least some of the riddles surrounding her mother’s life. Such as, why did Dulcie Shelby leave her hometown so suddenly? And why did she vow never to return? But the moment Emily enters the house where her mother grew up and meets the grandfather she never knew—a reclusive, real-life gentle giant—she realizes that mysteries aren’t solved in Mullaby, they’re a way of life: Here are rooms where the wallpaper changes to suit your mood. Unexplained lights skip across the yard at midnight. And a neighbor bakes hope in the form of cakes. Everyone in Mullaby adores Julia Winterson’s cakes — which is a good thing, because Julia can’t seem to stop baking them. She offers them to satisfy the town’s sweet tooth but also in the hope of rekindling the love she fears might be lost forever. Flour, eggs, milk, and sugar... Baking is the only language the proud but vulnerable Julia has to communicate what is truly in her heart. But is it enough to call back to her those she’s hurt in the past? Can a hummingbird cake really bring back a lost love? Is there really a ghost dancing in Emily’s backyard? The answers are never what you expect. But in this town of lovable misfits, the unexpected fits right in. ~amazon.com

Review: I'm hungry. Specifically I'm hungry for North Carolina BBQ. Oh and now I want to try a Milky Way cake and I don't even like Milky Ways!! Making you hungry now? Then be prepared to be hungry while reading Sarah Addison Allen's newest magical book The Girl Who Chased the Moon. While Jenn didn't really get into Emily's story; I found both her's and Julia's to be interesting but on different levels. I can't possibly understand what it's like to lose a parent when you are a teenager, it obviously adds a whole layer of complexity to already trying years. While I didn't identify with the loss of a parent, every one knows how hard it is to fit in especially when you are new. For Emily that is doubled because well Mullaby doesn't like her mom. She can't figure out why since her mom never even told her about the town she grew up in. Heck she didn't even mention that Emily still had a grandfather!!

I really liked Julia. She was interesting, quirky and troubled. She only wanted to be back in Mullaby for 2 years. That was her plan. Come and finish her dad's business and go rejoin her life in Baltimore. Well we all know that the best laid plans never amount to much right? Her's is an interesting story and one that has a couple twists. One I saw coming and one I didn't. Julia and Emily bond instantly. Julia takes Emily under her wings and shows her Mullaby.

I think my favorite secondary character was Vance. He was wonderful. I loved him. He was such an interesting character. Here he was a giant and he was the most gentile man. He only ever tried to do right by his daughter and because of unforeseen circumstances inadvertently led her down the wrong path. Although in the end, Dulcie turned out well and it was leaving Mullaby that did that for her.

There's a lot of other things that go on in the book but I want to leave it for you to discover the magic.

Sarah Addison Allen's books always deal with the past. For Emily it was coming to terms with her mom's past and not letting that define her. For Julia, it is dealing with the person who hurt her the most and loved her perhaps the most and realizing that life is something that happens when you aren't looking. (Yeah I know that's cliche but it works).

Julia's story was very personal for me for reason I can't say or it'll ruin the book. :) And then ending to it was so sweet and perfect, that writing the review I'm getting welled up.

I truly love her writing. The prose sucks you in and doesn't let you go. I finished this book last night and dreamt about it. I know it affected me.

I can't quite give it a 5 but it is on par with Garden Spells for me. Some of it was a bit too predictable but not in a bad way. You just can see it coming.

If you want to see what Mullaby looks like click here to find out.

Final Take: 4.75/5

Related Links: Jenn's Review

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Book Spotlight & Giveaway: Life Choices

This is a little something new that we are trying out, here at GJR, so let us know what you think. It's hard to review a self-help book because people come to them for certain reasons, so instead we are spotlighting one.

Photobucket About Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths If you feel “stuck” in a situation that appears to be beyond your control, these stories will show you how others have coped with crisis and uncertainty, made tough choices and positive changes in order to find deeper meaning and satisfaction in their relationships and learned to live with purpose every day. Rarely do we find a book that addresses so many different challenges. Life Choices does this in a powerful and inspiring way. This book is about experiences, the people who lived them, and how they created successful lives. From values and self-fulfillment to legacy, this book offers new resources for people who have tough choices to make every day.

Filled with wisdom and love, this book is a soothing companion for anyone searching for the courage to make a choice to change his or her circumstances. These authors and their stories prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that success belongs to everyone, no matter where they come from or what has happened to them. They are living proof that miracles can and do happen. You can be one of these people. You can navigate through difficult times and find your pathway to the life you choose to lead. Put the strength of others to work for you. Courage is not the absence of fear or pain. Courage is taking the steps to move through it.

Authors appearing in Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths include:
Aimmee Riley
Andrea Chestnut
Anne Abernathy
Anne Dreyer
Bob Walker
Charlotte Foust
Dan Roberts
Deborah Clark
Dr. Casey McNeal
Edie Raether
Elle Swan
Ginette Bedsaul
Jennifer Joseph
Jennifer Tarlin
Jesse Ferrell
Judi Moreo
Karen Phillips
Mary Monaghan
Nancy Todd
Rev. Cattel
Sandra Gore Nielsen
Sandy Kastel
Sherial Bratcher
Stephen Philpott
Susan Haller
Vickie Lane

About Judi Moreo
Photobucket Judi Moreo is the author of You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman’s Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power, and it’s companion, Achievement Journal. She is also the co-author and compiler of Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths (Turning Point International). Judi is an award-winning businesswoman and motivational speaker. Her superb talent for customizing programs to meet organizational needs has gained her a prestigious following around the world. Her passion for living an extraordinary life is mirrored in her zeal for helping others realize their potential and achieve their goals. With her dynamic personality and style, she is an unforgettable speaker, inspiring motivator, and an exceptional life coach.

If you would like to find out more about the woman behind Life Choices: Navigating Difficult Paths, visit www.judimoreo.com. If you would like to find out more about the book, visit www.lifechoicesbook.com.

I want to thank Dorothy at Pump Up Your Book for sending me the information on Life Choices to spotlight.

We'd also like to offer 1 copy of the book to giveaway. Please leave your email address in the comment section by Midnight ET on April 6th to qualify.

Continue reading the review...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Julie's Review: The Help

Summary: What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. ~amazon.com

Review: The Help will go in my "Why didn't I read this sooner?" category. I've never read anything like this book and I don't think I probably ever will again. The novel is unique, inspiring, and heart-wrenching. This is definitely a book I will be picking up again at some point in the future. It will also be mandatory reading for my daughter when she's grown.

The story is told from 3 different points of view: Miss Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny. Each of these characters have their own rich voices, that makes the story come alive. I can't say that I had a favorite character out of the 3 of them, they were all so different, individual and distinct. Each has had different experiences but those different experiences bring them together in ways that no one in the mid 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi could fathom.

There are some humorous points in the book along with the poignant. There are some fantastic secondary characters in the book. My favorite was Miss Celia. I could so picture her in my head and often felt sorry for her. Of course there's the character that you just can't stand and can't wait until she gets her just desserts and The Help definitely has one of these.

Ultimately these women are brave. Each of them risking their lives and the lives of their loved ones to create change. Race relations is the forefront of this book but in the end it's about women. Our relationships and how we are all similar even if we don't realize it.

I don't often read the afterword by authors but I found Ms. Stockett's to be extremely raw and moving. It brought a whole new element of realism to the book for me.

So, run don't walk to your favorite bookstore and buy this book. I don't think you'll regret it.

Final Take: 5/5

Related Links: Lisa's Review

Continue reading the review...

Saturday, March 13, 2010

An Hour with Jodi Picoult...again

On Wednesday my sister and I went to see Jodi Picoult read from her new book, House Rules and then answer questions. The only question she won't answer is about the end of any of her books. She doesn't want someone to ruin it for other fans.

She read 3 chapters from House Rules, each in a different character's voice. I love hearing an author read. It makes the characters even more real than they are when they already jump off the page.

After she read she took questions for 30 minutes and then she signed books. Of course, authors are like rock stars to me, so I wasn't going to miss out on this opportunity even though I did the same thing 2 years ago.

If you have an opportunity to see her or any author in your local area. I highly recommend it.

I was able to take some pictures as well.

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Myself, Jodi and my sister, Rebecca


Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Julie's Review: Mission Canyon

Summary: After a hit-and-run accident leaves a friend dead, Evan Delaney wants justice. But she underestimates the power of the person responsible. When the witnesses begin dying one by one, Evan is unprepared for the dark places retribution will take her. ~amazon.com

Review: From the description, I thought this was a flashback to Jesse's accident that left him in a wheelchair. It's not. I takes place after China Lake but it deals with Jesse's accident and what happened. Mission Canyon: An Evan Delaney Novel is a solid thriller and entry into the Evan Delaney Series.

Evan always seems to find trouble or does trouble find her? Regardless, she does manage to find her way out of it by using her brain. This one like China Lake, is intensely personal for Evan. The man who paralyzed Jesse, killed his friend Issac is back in town and Jesse is looking for justice. Of course things are never so easy and never so black and white.

The book has a ton of interesting characters and by interesting I mean shady and slimy. It's about cover ups, fraud and greed. It's about having your vices used against you. It's about your past coming back to haunt you and affecting your present day life.

I can't give too much away otherwise,you won't want to pick it up and read it for yourself. I will say that I'm still not sold on Jesse Blackburn. I understand he had a major life altering accident but I have a feeling his attitude was the same before this happened to him. Some of the things he says to Evan in the course of the book are rude, hurtful and untrue. I think it's some of his own insecurities coming through and he takes it out on her.

There are some great twists and turns in the book. My favorite addition of characters are the CIA agents, or are they CIA agents? I really do hope to see them back in a future Evan Delaney novel.

All in all, this is a great 2nd novel in what I think is a brilliantly written series.

Final Take: 4/5

Continue reading the review...

Monday, March 8, 2010

And the Winner Is...

Congratulations to Heidi V for winning the autographed copies of The Rasner Effect and Without Hesitation by Mark Rosendorf. Photobucket

Please email me (Julie) your mailing address so Mr. Rosendorf can send these off to you as soon as possible.

Thanks to all of you for participating. As always, I used Random.org to produce the winner.

Continue reading the review...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Julie's Review: The Forgotten Garden

Summary: A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913. She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book -- a beautiful volume of fairy tales. She is taken in by the dockmaster and his wife and raised as their own. On her twenty-first birthday they tell her the truth, and with her sense of self shattered and with very little to go on, "Nell" sets out on a journey to England to try to trace her story, to find her real identity. Her quest leads her to Blackhurst Manor on the Cornish coast and the secrets of the doomed Mountrachet family. But it is not until her granddaughter, Cassandra, takes up the search after Nell's death that all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled. At Cliff Cottage, on the grounds of Blackhurst Manor, Cassandra discovers the forgotten garden of the book's title and is able to unlock the secrets of the beautiful book of fairy tales.

Review: Ok I admit it, I've never read The Secret Garden (HarperClassics). I did see the movie a long time ago with my dad, so there will be no literary comparisons in this review. That being said, The Forgotten Garden: A Novel is brilliant and compelling. I just loved this book. I loved how Ms. Morton wrote it. I loved the character's voices. I loved how the book itself is a maze that you slowly find your way through.

We see the events of the book uncover through the eyes of Nell, Eliza and Cassandra. All three of these are strong, distinct voices in the book. As with all books where the narration goes back and forth, it takes a bit to get into the flow but once it does, you don't want to put it down. Each of these three women has been through their share of pain and suffering, each in different ways.

I'm not much of a fairy tale girl but the stories that Ms. Morton weave throughout The Forgotten Garden add another layer of storytelling to an already tightly woven novel. I'm going to have to do a little research to see if Ms. Morton wrote them herself.

I don't know if I would call this book a fantasy as I would a historical fiction with some fantasy aspects wrapped into it. There's something about a seaside cottage that just sounds romantic and wonderful.

The true story is about families and finding out who you are not matter what bloodline flows through you.

As with a lot of books I can't really delve into details without giving away the twists and turns. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, the book would move in another direction, causing me to think twice about what I had just thought I figured out.

I highly recommend reading this book. In fact, drop what you are reading and pick this up now. Anyone who likes to get wrapped up in a great book and get carried away in a novel will love The Forgotten Garden.

Final Take: 4.5/5

Related Links: Lisa's Review

Continue reading the review...

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