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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Review: Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker

Author: Nicole Barker
Publisher: Golden Road Press, LLC June 2009
Genre: Fiction, YA
Paperback 170 pages
Book Source: the author

Blurb from

Beth is a lucky girl... She comes from a loving family. She has three best friends. She loves to surf and lives five minutes from the beach. She also recently discovered that the boy she's grown up with has the most amazing green eyes... Beth has every reason to smile. Every reason to be happy. Every reason to feel blessed.

Then why is she sticking her fingers down her throat?

My Thoughts:

This is the story of four teenage best friends who decide the way to happiness and popularity is paved by losing weight. They decide to restrict their food intake eating only a pieces of fruit and water at meals. Two of the four girls have deep seated reasons, other than popularity for losing weight. Beth has issues with her Dad and Rachael has issues with her Mom. Jenny is the best friend who will do anything to support her friends and Melanie is the "Mom" of the group.

Although it is a short book, their reasons for unhappiness are laid out pretty well and I completely empathized with Beth and Rachael. The thoughts and feelings of these two girls are so sad and desperate...they broke my heart. If they only knew how foolish they are, but that is one of the sobering truths of anorexia and being a teenage girl. You don't know any better. People who suffer from anorexia see themselves differently and tie their self worth to their distorted vision.

My only complaint with this book was Beth's burgeoning sexuality. It came out of left field and I though it was gratuitous. It did not enhance the story and could have been left out. I know she wants to be loved and accepted, but there must be a better way of getting that across to the reader.

Overall it was a quick read, starting out sad and ending hopeful. Not all anorexia stories end happily, but if this book gets people talking about this disease...then it's a win/win. I think parents would probably benefit from reading this book also. It's not always easy to see your children are hurting emotionally and physically.

My Rating: 93/100
I got sucked into these girls' lives and emotions right away. I could totally see shades of these girls in my friends from back in the day.
(I was always the MOM of the group.)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Musing Monday (Oct. 26)

Musing Monday is hosted by Rebecca from Just One More Page

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about note taking…

Do you take notes while reading – either for your reviews or for yourself? How/where do you make these notes (on the page, post-its, scrap paper, notebooks etc)?

I only take notes for my reviews, which I do for every book now. There are things I want to remember or observations I make, that if I don't write down, will be lost forever.

I DO NOT write in books. Even if I own the book, I just don't. I have a notebook I write all my stuff in. Notes, reviews, interview questions, the whole lot. Sometimes I use scraps of paper or post-its, if my notebook isn't handy.

The only time I don't take notes, is if the book is engrossing and I don't want to put it down. When I'm finished reading for the moment, then I'll jot of few notes down.

How about you? Are you a note taker?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Reflections (Oct. 25)

It's Sunday, and it has been a crazy week for me. When you rather spend the day at the hospital with your Dad, than go to work...well that speaks volumes, doesn't it. Did get some reading and reviewing done and am happy with that. I have another two reviews going up on Royal Reviews, so please stop by there if you get the chance.

I was also a little under the weather this week. Just not feeling quite right. Plus I didn't get a lot of sleep because...the boys are going back to the World Series!

YEA! They did not have a stellar year, the closer is not on top of his game, and pitching is suspect. But, they play their hearts out in every game and give it their all. And that's all I can ask for.

Besides, no one wants the Yankees to win, unless you are a Yankees fan.

Have a great week reading and go Phillies!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Jenny Loves to Read has received some very lovely awards lately. This post is a way overdue thank you, to those friendly, lovely, great blogger friends who were so kind enough to give them to me.

So without further ado...

The Humane Award from Celi.a at Adventures of Ceclia Bedelia.

This award is to honor certain bloggers that are kindhearted individuals. They regularly take part in my blog and always leave the sweetest comments. If it wasn't for them, my site would just be an ordinary book review blog. Their blogs are also amazing and are tastefully done on a daily basis. I thank them and look forward to our growing friendship through the blog world.

A Top Commenter Award from Teddyree at The Eclectic Reader

This is the Honest Scrap award. I received this award from Jennifer at Between the Lines

It is for those bloggers who write from the heart. The rules are to pass it along to seven bloggers and then list 10 honest things about myself. Here are those deserving of this honor, bloggers who write from the heart and touch me because of it:

1.) Staci from Life in the Thumb
2.) Toni from A Circle of Books
3.) Rebecca from Just One More Page
4.) Teddyree from The Eclectic Reader
5.) Blodeuedd from Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell
6.) Dolleygirl from The Maiden's Court
7.) Nice' from Under the Boardwalk

Now here are 10 honest things about myself:

1.) I am a huge hockey fan. I bleed orange and black.
2.) I am obsessed with figuring out a way to move to Hawaii.
3.) I try to eat healthy and work-out, but plop a hot fudge sundae down in front of me and all bets are off.
4.) I love roller coasters, and will wait in line for two hours by myself to ride one.
5.) I enjoy almost any kind of music, except country and hard core rap...and maybe some of the popular rap music today. Make an original beat people. Eric B. and Rakim, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Tuff Crew....they didn't need to sample to come up with a song. But I digress.
6.) I swear I belong in another country sometimes, like England or something. And it's not just all the shows on BBC America that I watch. I just feel like I belong elsewhere.
7.) I sometimes curse too much when I knit.
8.) Knowing what I know now, I should have considered medical school or something close to it.
9.) My husband is my best friend.
10.) I am proud of where I come from, and how I was raised. My parents deserve all the credit in the world and I am grateful for having them.

Please stop by and visit some of these bloggers if you get a chance. You will not be disappointed :)

Teaser Tuesday (Oct. 20)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I have two again this week:

"Margaret could not remember when she had laughed so much. Guillaume was teaching her to skate on the frozen lake in the Hesdin castle park, and it was a painful beginning."
pg 319, Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith

"By that evening, his anguish was so strong that he knew he could not wait another day, or the fear itself would kill him." Every noise he heard could be Anansi, coming to cut him up."
pg 169, A Circle of Souls by Preetham Grandhi

What can you teaser me with today? For more teasers, visit here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Reflections (Oct. 18)

This week we have very late reflections for you. Sometimes the day just gets away from you, ya know?

Last week was a busy. I managed to finish and review Pendragon's Banner. Then had Helen Hollick here for an interview. Her answers were quite interesting. Definitely someone you could sit down with over a cup of tea and some cookies.

I also read Dancing with Ana. It's only 170 pages, so for those of you doing Dewey's Read-a-thon next weekend, this would be a good one to include. Sad story, but anorexia is a reality and should be on all parents minds. Now I just need to write that review.

Did manage to review The Lie, so that will be forthcoming.

Currently slogging my way through Daughter of York. The story is very s-l-o-w.

Therefore I started reading Circle of Souls. Got sucked in quickly, so it has become a challenge to put it down and go back to Margaret of York. It's not her, personally, just her story.

Otherwise, oh yes! That's right! I will have a guest post at Royal Reviews this week. It is Fantasy week so be sure to stop by and check all the books on review. I'll be there next week also for Anything Goes. Actually I'm just thinking my book was more paranormal romance than fantasy. But really, the definition for fantasy has kind of grown hasn't it? Previously when I thought of fantasy I thought Dungeons and Dragons, etc. The book I originally wanted to do, Wizard's First Rule, is huge. I would have never finished it in time. But fighting demons is fantasy isn't it? Oh well, guess I had a brain fart :)

Well I hope your week is full of great reading and reviewing. Enjoy your week and try not to work too hard.
And thanks, as always for stopping by. I greatly appreciate it :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Interview with Helen Hollick

Please welcome Helen Hollick, author of the re-telling of the King Arthur Trilogy: The Kingmaking, Pendragon's Banner, and Shadow of the King. My review of Pendragon's Banner is here.

(Helen) My pleasure to be here!

1.) England's history is so vast and storied. Why the early Middle Ages? Was there a specific event, person, or something in particular which led you to choose this time period?

I have always been drawn to Roman Britain – ever since reading Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel Eagle of the Ninth as a young teenager. I “discovered” Arthur as a post-Roman warlord in Mary Stewart’s books the Hollow Hills and the Crystal Cave – she mentioned in her author’s note that if Arthur had existed (it is not certain that he actually did) he was more likely to have lived between the going of the Romans and the coming of the Anglo Saxons; 450 – 550 A.D. As I had never liked the stories that set Arthur in the 11th/12th century this really caught my interest.

2.) Do you have a mentor, now or ever? Someone you can go to, who can guide or remind you of the intricacies of Middle Ages England.

From the writing point of view I think it is essential for an author to have someone to trust to talk things over with – an agent or an editor. Someone who will tell the truth – it is no good being told “oh that scene is fantastic” if it isn’t. For authors who are self published this is even more important as the book is entirely theirs from concept to publication. I discuss my books a lot with my present editor – Jo Field (who has also taken the plunge and written her first historical novel.) I discuss plots and character development with her (and with a few very close friends) and Jo is quite knowledgeable about history too.

3.) Arthur has been widely debated and written about throughout the years. How and why did you decide to choose his history to write about? (see above, question 1) Were you nervous since Arthur is so well loved and been told countless times?

No, I didn’t really think about it. Basically, I wanted to write what I wanted to read! I had not found a story of Arthur that I could say “yes, that is how it was” – so I wrote my own. Arthur, I think, is one character who can be written about over and over again, and in any genre.

4.) I had read somewhere that the Kingmaking took you 10 years to write. How long did Pendragon's Banner take? Did you envision three books from the beginning?

Yes, it took me about ten years, though not all of that was solid writing – and the manuscript ended up as the Kingmaking and half of Pendragons Banner, so I suppose Banner only took me about a year. I had no idea that I had written what was to become a trilogy. My agent (now ex-agent) when she took me on announced that the manuscript I’d sent her would make a trilogy. You could have knocked me down with a feather!

5.) How excited were you over the Staffordshire Hoard and have you seen it yet?

Oh it sounds fabulous! What a lucky find! I plan to see it in November, I haven’t time at the moment. I have seen the Sutton Hoo treasure in the British Museum though.

6.) Now for some not so serious stuff. What books are you currently reading?

I have just finished Suzanne McLeod’s fantasy novel Sweet Scent of Blood – second in the series. ( ) “Magic Just Got Murderous” is her tag line. A “who-done-it” with witches, goblins, vampires, set in London. Great fun – for adults, and not meant to be taken seriously!

7.) Bookmark or dog ear?

Bookmark! (dog ear? Eek!!!) While working in the library I once found an uncooked rasher of bacon used as a bookmark!

8.) Any hobbies?

My daughter’s horses, walking the dog – I live near Epping Forest, lovely this time of year (when it isn’t raining!) I do a bit of gardening but I’m not very good at it. I forget what I planted, and then have to guess what things are if they bother to grow.

9.) What would be an ideal vacation for you?

If I had a wish - sailing (as a passenger, not crew!) on a tall ship. Preferably somewhere that has nice weather, or in reality, I love Devon and Dorset in the UK – the beach and the sea, Park me by the sea and I’ll be happy! One day I will have a holiday in Cornwall – I have never had a holiday there (well apart from when I was 4 – but I don’t remember that!)

10.) You have truly made Arthur and his companions come alive, made them become tangible.

Thank you

Is there another time period, or historical person you would like to tackle?

I am enjoying the Golden Age of Piracy and my adventure-fantasy pirate-based Sea Witch series – and I am getting interested in the period after the English Civil War (Charles II – mid 1600’s) but whether I will write about that…? I do plan on doing a third Saxon book to follow on from Harold the King, (1066 and the story of the Battle of Hastings) but that will have to wait until next year to be started.

Thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions. I am really enjoying your book and feel connected to the characters. Gwenhwyfar and the other women are just as strong and passionate as the men in the story.

I haven't had the chance to read The Kingmaking yet, (shameful, I know) but I instantly picked up the story, knew where the characters were coming from. Your writing is amazing. I look forward to reading The Kingmaking and the conclusion In the Shadow of the King. And your other books too. They sound interesting too, and if they are anything like what I'm reading now...excellent!

(Helen) Thank you, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself as your guest!


Main Website:
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Muse and Views Blog:
Monthly Journal:

I hope you all enjoyed that interview and thank you very much for stopping today.

I 'd also like to thank Paul from Sourcebooks for sending my review copy and assistance with this interview.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Review: Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

Author: Helen Hollick
Publisher: SourceBooks
Genre: Historical fiction
Trade paperback, 464 pages
Book Source: Paul from SourceBooks, the publisher

Brief synopsis from Sourcebooks:

After claiming his throne on the blood-soaked fields of Rutupiae-striking fear into the hearts of his enemies-only Morgause "the witch" dared to challenge Arthur in this sequel to Helen Hollick's The Kingmaking. In a deadly game of politics and back-stabbing, Arthur must deal with the reality that taking a kingdom is far different from keeping one. This book span six years, from 459-465 A.D., and details Arthur's struggles to stay in power and keep his family alive.

Two enemies in particular threaten everything that is dear to him: Winifred, Arthur's vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the mother and malevolent Queen of the North. Both have royal ambitions of their own.

This is not a fairy tale or fantasy. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot. This is a tale of battle, intrigue and an irate Morgause who delights in nurturing the belief that she is a witch-especially after her very public curse on Arthur's sons...This is an account of Arthurian legend, based on historical evidence and meticulous research; a story of King Arthur as it may have actually unfolded.

My Thoughts:

This story picks up right after Arthur has been made King, October 459. Rome has long since fallen and all of her lands are up for grabs. It is a ruthless and lawless time. Arthur is 24, has a young family, but no place to call home. Arthur must constantly patrol his new kingdom squashing brash upstarts, while making treaties with the Saxons and appeasing those leaders who still believe Rome may come back into power. Gwenhwyfar is his beautiful wife and the perfect mate for him. Gwen is very strong, willful. She fights for what she believes in and cherishes her family.

What strikes me most about this book is the realness of these characters. Their emotions and thoughts are so gut-wrenching at times. You feel their love for each and their pain. Believe me, Arthur and Gwenhwyfar probably have more than their fair share of grief, however, given the times they live in, it's probably par for the course. I have read or watched several incarnations of the Arthur and Gwenhwyfar story, but never before have these characters been represented in this manner. Arthur's love for Gwen, his pain and sorrow over personal losses are palpable. Arthur's immense loneliness at times makes you want to hug the guy. It's not easy being King in the early Middle Ages. You have no one to trust but yourself and your wife of course. (hopefully)

With respect to Gwenhwyfar, she has her own hopes and fears. She knows her husband is King, and must constantly battle to keep peace and stability in the land. However there is a part of her that despises his title and the choices that come with it. Being King takes Arthur away from her and their children. Gwen is fearful that one day Arthur may not come home. All Gwen wants is safety, security, and a home. Arthur does too, deep down, but he loves his country as much as he loves his wife. He wants to do what is right by all the peoples of the land. Gwenhwyfar is a warrior wife, and by the end of this tale you will be amazed at what she can do. Don't do wrong or try to come between a woman and her family. You will certainly pay the price, as Morgause finds out.

Ah Morgause, another strong willed woman who wants control of England and her own destiny. She uses whatever and whomever she can to her advantage. Morgause is the great manipulator. You have to give the woman credit for trying.

There are many factions vying for control of England. Each one is as brutal and conniving as the next. There are several battles fought in the book but Hollick's writing makes them interesting and suspenseful. I must admit, I was a little nervous from time to time about the outcome and the fates of the characters. I was sad to see some of them pass away.

All in all this was an excellent book about characters who have been hotly debated, probably for centuries. Hollick has made both Arthur and Gwenhwyfar real and down to earth. I did not read the first book, The Kingmaking, before this one, and I had no difficulties in picking up the story or it's characters. This can be a stand alone book, although it will leave you wanting more. Pendragon's Banner is a great story of a charismatic leader during Britain's infancy. It is easy to see why people are always so fascinated with Arthur and his story. Hollick's version brings an added dimension to the King Arthur tale and will fascinate you as well.

My Rating: 96/100

This Friday, October 16th, Helen will be stopping by for an interview. Please stop by if you can.

Thank you to Paul from SourceBooks for sending my review copy. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (Oct. 13)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading.
Here are the rules:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

She looked at herself in the mirror. Some of her mascara had begun to streak under her eyes. "What are you doing?" she asked, searching her reflection for a hint of an answer.
pg. 54 Dancing With Ana by Nicole Barker

Margaret did not know that her name would be forever linked to the challenge that was given to Anthony, Lord Scales, that day.
pg. 163 Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith

What is your teaser today?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Reflections (Oct. 10)

Happy Columbus Day Weekend everyone! This weekend in my neighborhood we celebrate our Italian heritage with a food festival and music. Always lots of fun. This holiday is another reminder of how young the Americas are in comparison to Europe.
Speaking of Europe, my mom and I went to the Renaissance Faire yesterday.

We laughed and had fun because there were so many visitors who dressed liked they worked at the faire. Even the people who worked the Faire commented on it. In some cases it was hard to tell who was who, but the people who were paid to walk around in Renaissance clothing were dressed exquisitely. It took quite a bit of restraint not to stare. They even had their own Queen Elizabeth, but I felt too weird taking a picture of her, especially since it was mostly small kids who wanted their picture with Her Highness. All of the "actors" speak the Queens English, and by the end of the day, it was a bit much. My mom and I were definitely ready to fare thee well.

The Faire grounds consist of shops, eateries, and stages for shows. Except for one show, they were all excellent. One of the highlights was the Jousting tournament.
The gentleman on the left is Sir Walsingham, on the right Lord Howard (?? can't remember for sure), and the Master of Horse on that beautiful horse.

Below is the best I could do trying to capture one of the jousts.

Yes, they did actually joust. Either that or they have excellent props, because all of their shields were pretty beat up. They also did a few tricks on horseback which was very cool. My mom was a little disappointed because she thought there would be wandering minstrels and ye old music playing all the time, but that was not the case. It was still a lovely day out with mom though. We have a good time no matter where we are.

Speaking of the Queen's English, this week I'm reading Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith for the War of the Roses Week (November 8) over at Royal Reviews. The book is okay. The plot moves a little slowly. It's either that, or I know these characters and events too well.

I am thisclose to finishing Pendragon's Banner. Speaking of which, on Friday I have an interview with Helen Hollick which will be posted. I can't wait to read her answers, although I hope it wasn't too strenuous for her.

I also started Dancing with Ana by Nicole Barker. It is a fairly short book, and I figured it would be perfect as an alternative to those wily Yorkists.

With respect to my reviews....working on that :) I have one and a half done, so I'm feeling good. Otherwise that's about it. Oh yeah, I have hose cleaning to do, but that always needs to be done. I plan on having a productive week, fingers crossed.
Hope you have a wonderful week too, and see you around blogland :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teaser Tuesday (Oct. 6)

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading.

Here are the rules:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Still reading Pendragon's Banner, so here is another teaser from this excellent tale:

"If you were free of me, would you take another as husband?"....."I have no wish to be free of you." Gwenhwyfar smiled adding with a jest, "At least not most of the time. When you are in full flood with some raging anger, then I might be occasionally tempted."
pg. 329, Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick

Great read and hoping to finish it this week.
What is your teaser for today? Here are some more teasers.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Musing Monday (Oct. 5)

Musing Monday is hosted by Rebecca from Just One More Page.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about books on your wish list…

Last week we talked about keeping a wish list. Why not pull out that list and show us some of the books you’ve been eyeing off?

A wish list for books...for me that would be the same as my paper tbr list. I write down these books I want to read. There are definitely some more than others though.
he first one I can think of is The Thief by Megan Whaler Turner. The last time I dropped by Borders, I couldn't find it. I searched pretty hard too.

Lady Macbeth by Susan Fraser King is another one I must have.

I could go on and on but the books that I have in my possession now, may get a jealous :)

How about you? What is tops on your wish list?
For more musings, stop by here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Sunday Reflections

A lot of people, like 463 to be exact, participate in the Sunday Salon . This is a weekly post where you read your books throughout the day, jot down your thoughts, and then post about it. For me, Sundays are a time of reflection. A time to think about the past week and plan out the week to come. Although I like to be spontaneous, I do like having a plan or rough outline of what I will try to accomplish this week. I sketch out my work activities, so why not my blogging activities? Plus I thought this would be a good way to let people know what I have been up to with respect to reading.This post could also include my thoughts on stuff and anything cool I may have found cruising around the web.

No disrespect to the Sunday Salon or it's participants. It is a phenomenal blog event. I just wanted to do something different. I think this will work for me, and besides, I like being a little different. Feel free to join me.

So here are my reflections this week:

I am currently reading 3 books I committed to guest post about on Royal Reviews. They are due one week after the other. I don't mind, but I didn't realize this when I signed up for it. And actually, I may be able to use these books for some of my challenges. You know, those challenges I am woefully behind on. Oh well. I consider it lesson learned for next year.

So here are the three books I MUST have read and reviewed:

1.) The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
2.) Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine
3.) Daughter of York by Anne Easter Smith

Once the reviews are posted there, then I can post them here.
Speaking of reviews, I have one unfinished review from June....yes June, that I still would like to post. I didn't finish the book, but I still want to post a review anyway. It was a ground breaking novel.

I also have to write a review for The Lie by Fredrica Wagman. I'm perplexed though, because I wasn't crazy about the book. Not sure what to say about it, so it makes it a little tougher.

Lets see, what else. Oh yes, currently reading Pendragon's Banner by Helen Hollick. I will have an interview with her on Friday, October 16th. Stop by if you can.

Very interesting retelling of King Arthur and his life. Much more realistic and gritty. I love Excalibur too, but I'm pretty sure that's not how the events occurred.

Otherwise, that's about it for me. I am trying to squeeze some other books in there when I can, but I can't always read more than one book at a time. Depends on the book and what I have going on in work. I read a lot for work too.

So, what do you have planned for this week? Feel free to join me, if you like. If not, that's cool too. Take care and happy reading :)