The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Title: The Great Gatsby
Author: F. Scott Fitzgerald
Pages: 180
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Scribner (Simon & Schuster)
Pub. Date: April 10, 1925

I first read The Great Gatsby in junior high or high school. I didn't remember anything about it except that I didn't mind it so much. (I have never been a fan of reading assigned books even though I now would enjoy half the books I was made to read then). Anyway, I've been wanting to re-read this for a while, but I was especially motivated after seeing the trailers for the December release of the movie featuring Leonardo DiCaprio.

This is one of those books where the aftertaste seems to have more of an effect on me than the actual process of reading it. For me, it's reflecting back on what the story stands for that makes it good. The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick Carraway, a man of wealth who has learned to not let it affect the type of person he is. He lives next door to Jay Gatsby in the West Egg. Gatsby is a wealthy man who throws lavish parties; the kind of parties where half the guests don't even know Gatsby; it's just the place to be. As opposed to Nick, Gatsby revels in his money, though he has another reason for this. Gatsby is secretly longing for the love of his life, Daisy Buchanan, who happens to be a cousin of Nick's. The problem is Daisy is married to Tom Buchanan. Though, Tom has his own little mistress on the side, so why should Daisy stay loyal to him? Daisy is ultimately lured toward Gatsby, as he wishes, and drama ensues that has tragic consequences for everyone.

The Great Gatsby is a book about money, high society in 1920's New York City, and what this kind of wealth does to people. It's a love story of sorts but a tragedy too. I still feel like there are parts to this book that I didn't "get" or pick up on. On the one hand it's a fairly simple story, but on the other hand there may be a lot of symbolism I'm missing out on. Regardless, the story is good and it will give you something to talk about. It wasn't my favorite, but I enjoyed it, and I can see (with all the drama and gossip) why my high school self would have enjoyed this book.

Imperfect Justice by Jeff Ashton with Lisa Pultizer

Monday, June 25, 2012

Title: Imperfect Justice
Subtitle: Prosecuting Casey Anthony
Author: Jeff Ashton, Lisa Pulitzer
Pages: 322
Genre: Non-fiction; Legal; True Crime
Publisher: William Morrow (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: November 15, 2011

I don't think this one takes much explaining. We all know about this trial unless you totally haven't tuned into current events over the past 3-4 years, but since you're reading this review on a book blog online, I'm assuming you have tuned in at some point or another! This case hit close to home for those of us in the Orlando area. And during the entire time this case was playing out from the time little Caylee was "missing" to the verdict being read at the trial, I worked for child advocacy center in the county adjoining Orange County, where this trial was held. We all streamed the trial to our computers every day (shhh, don't tell...) and watched, though we felt that working at the child advocacy center, wasn't it relevant? I put off reading this book for a little while because I thought it might be overkill. Did I really want to immerse myself into all this even more? I mean, you couldn't turn on the tv in this area for those years without hearing about this case. But, as it turns out, I really enjoyed reading this book and actually feel that it might be a good way to wrap everything up and let our brains fully process everything that happened.

The author, Jeff Ashton was one of the prosecutors on this case. He wrote honestly and frankly in this book about his experiences working this case. He both commended and criticized others when relevant. And he inserted his thought processes throughout the various components of this case from its conception through the trial. He provided some background information that the media didn't know about (or did but twisted). It's crazy because reading this book and putting everything together chronologically and reading the detail about the experts' findings makes it even crazier to me that the jury landed on the verdict they did! But it was sort of interesting to me, personally, because I recognized some of the "players" in this case including investigators and one of the psychiatrists who was almost used by the defense. (The psychiatrist is someone who evaluated many of my clients when I worked for DCF and whose evaluations I still see a lot of now that I work in mental health).

Another interesting aspect of reading this book as compared to watching/hearing about it on tv was the forensic/scientific evidence discussed. I'm not sure if they went into as much detail and explanation at the trial (I mean, I assume they must have), but it was certainly more clear reading about it here. That's probably because in reality it's not like I was able to pay close attention to the trial...after all I was working. But things like odor composition... I didn't pay much attention to that but reading about it here was very interesting whether it was related to this case or not! But as it relates to this case, Ashton provided information about every aspect of it and the witnesses, what made it more challenging for the prosecution, how the jury was almost pre-destined to be made up of those who would find her innocent (he spoke about this a little at the UCF Book Festival), and also managed to provide an in depth look into how the judicial system works overall.

I've always enjoyed reading about the court and legal system, fiction or non, so I found this book interesting for that reason. But followers of true crime books will like this book as well. If this case was of interest to you, or if the judicial system is an interest of yours, I would recommend this book. I also do feel that by taking all the information, in total, and laying it out chronologically with his commentary, I was able to process and piece it all together in my head, even though it's all so crazy. And turns out this is also being made into a Lifetime movie with Rob Lowe playing the part of Jeff Ashton...?? I'll have to tune in!

The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D by Nichole Bernier (Review & Giveaway)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Title: The Unfinished Work of Elizabeth D
Author: Nichole Bernier
Pages: 305
Genre: women's fiction
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Random House)
Pub. Date: June 5, 2012

How well do you really know your closest friends? That's the question Kate asks herself the year after her friend, Elizabeth, dies in a plane crash and she is given the task of reading through all of Elizabeth's journals. Further enticing her to do so is the fact that in one journal that was left out, her husband read that Elizabeth had been flying to California to spend time with a "Michael". Who is Michael? And what exactly was Elizabeth doing?

Upon reading the journals, however, Kate realizes there were a lot of things about Elizabeth that she didn't know, even down to the thoughts Elizabeth had about her husband, her kids, and her friends. Although she was supposed to be relaxing on vacation, Kate feels both obligated and drawn to finish reading the journals. And when she finishes the journals, she has the task of relaying to Elizabeth's husband the truth of what was going on with Elizabeth.

I've seen some pretty rave reviews for this book, but I have to say that I wasn't as taken by this book as others. One of the main reasons is that I didn't feel I could relate to it. A majority of this book is really about motherhood and the way this changes someone as well as the plans they had for themselves and how this changes after motherhood. I didn't realize this would be such a big part of the storyline, but it certainly isn't a storyline I have any interest in for my own reasons. I couldn't tell if this was something I would have enjoyed more if my circumstances were different or not. Overall, too, the feeling that nagged at me was because this starts out a year after Elizabeth's death, I wasn't able to care much about her character; so I wasn't invested in who Elizabeth was. There was some build up of her character through flash backs and through Kate's memories of situations the journals allude to, but for me it wasn't enough.

There was also a slight tie in about how the world changed after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. Elizabeth's plane crashed the summer before 9/11, so Kate reflects on the fact that Elizabeth's death was sort of forgotten or overruled. And even though they are on an extended vacation, Kate's husband has to take multiple business trips to other countries which causes Kate some anxiety.

So overall, it wasn't the book for me, but there were women's issues in this book that some mothers will certainly relate to.

The publisher sent me a second copy of this book to give away to one lucky winner! To enter just fill out the form below. I'll announce the winner on Saturday the 30th.

All Woman and Springtime by Brandon W. Jones

Monday, June 18, 2012

Title: All Woman and Springtime
Author: Brandon W. Jones
Pages: 370
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Workman Publishing)
Pub. Date: May 1, 2012

All Woman and Springtime is an important book because it sheds light on an issue that isn't talked about all that much. International human trafficking is one of those egregious crimes that is happening all around us, but we tend to be easily sheltered from it because of its underground nature.

Gyong-Ho (Gi) and Il-Sun are two young girls growing up in an orphanage in North Korea. All they know is a life of praising the Dear Leader, staying in the orphanage, and working at a garment factory. Gi and Il-Sun end up becoming friends, and Gi admires and looks up to Il-Sun (whom she thinks of as "all woman and springtime"). We are shown through some flashbacks that prior to living at the orphanage, Gi was worked and tortured in a North Korean gulag which has led to her lack of emotional affect and initial inability to connect with anyone. She also has a genius ability with numbers that might be her way of managing her anxiety and escaping into her mind. Il-Sun on the other hand lived a nice life prior to ending up in the orphanage and also has her beauty to rely on. It's this beauty and slightly rebellious nature that leads her and Gi into trouble. Their naivete that is a result of the environment they grew up in leads to their being easily manipulated. The girls are sold into sexual slavery first in South Korea and then in the United States. In some graphic scenes, we're exposed to the truth of what girls in this situation are forced to do as well as the factors that lead to their imprisonment and inability to escape.

This book fit a lot into its pages. First you have to really get to know and like the characters before the meat of the plot happens. But even the first part was an interesting look into life in North Korea for who don't know much about it. (I, on the other hand, feel like I've read a lot on this topic but still found it interesting). It was heartbreaking to read about what these girls went through. And in this case, the girls have been so isolated in their home country that they have to juxtapose gaining an understanding of the rest of the world with the seedy environments they're in. And seeing the ways the pimps and madams were able to manipulate them into believing that they had no choice to stay by perpetuating the lies the North Koreans gave them adds to the heartbreak.

It was easy to get invested with these characters, especially Gi. I almost feel like the book could have been even longer, as it had spanned a large amount of time and events and even at close to 400 pages, it seemed we had to skim over some parts. But other than that, All Woman and Springtime was an opportune and eye opening novel.

Giveaway Winner: Gift Card!! (And a quick note)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Last week, during part of Armchair BEA, I offered a $10 gift card giveaway to one lucky winner. The offered gift card was for Barnes and Noble, but any chosen bookstore is fine as long as it can be purchased online. 

So, our winner, chosen randomly through, is....

That's actually really cool, because while I PROMISE this was a randomly chosen winner, she happens to be someone I learned is actually local! 

Also, real quick housekeeping item... the roadrunner e-mail account I use ( was somehow hacked/cloned/whatever and is now sending out spam mail to some people I recently e-mailed from that account. I still haven't figured out how to stop it, but since I've been having some trouble with that e-mail for a while, I'm going to switch everything over to my gmail account. If you would like to block the one please feel free! My current e-mail is now listed under my "about Jenny" page.


Kid Konnection: Play These Games by Heather Swain

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Title: Play These Games
Subtitle: 101 Delightful Diversions Using Everyday Items
Author: Heather Swain
Pages: 232
Genre: Entertainment, Activities
Publisher: Perigee (Penguin)
Pub. Date: May 1, 2012

I'm sure we've all lamented at one time or another how the age of internet and video games has changed life for children and adults alike. We, adults, find ourselves in sort of a zone, addicted to electronics, and feel relief mixed with anxiety when we "unplug". And children all over (this country, anyway) often have to be encouraged to play outside more and take a break from the computer or game systems. But isn't it true that sometimes the simpler things in life are the best? I remember, as a child, playing games in the yard or with household items; I remember making a mancala game "board" using an egg carton; I remember, rather than buying movies, recording them when they played on tv. Sure, we had to fast forward through the commercials, but there was something liberating about this "organic" way of playing and watching movies. (And I'm sure it's liberating for the pocketbook too...)

Play These Games is a book full of these "organic" activities using every day items that you would either have at home or basic craft items that you may already have or are easy to find. This book is broken into 17 categories of activities by the main item used including balloons, books, cardboard boxes, hula hoops, plastic soda bottles, and paper. There is also a last category of 15 variations of the game of tag. It's a great way to teach children how to be creative with the things they have around them and how to have fun without plugging in a machine. In addition to the actual activities that include a materials list and instructions, each category starts off with fun information about that item. Then almost all the activities end with a related fun fact. Each activity also has small illustrations or diagrams to use.

Do you remember bean bags?? I remember at the babysitter's house, actually, making our own bean bags which are fun just in and of themselves, but Play These Games has a whole category of games that can be played using bean bags. Now, some of these games are more complicated than others, and many definitely require adult supervision or help. There's one game using craft sticks that is so simple but that I bet is really fun. It's called "stick toss" and requires putting dots on one side of three craft sticks and the backside of one stick striped. You're then awarded various points based on the combinations you get from throwing the sticks in the air. It actually reminds me of a very popular Korean game, so I know this is one I'd like. The accompanying fun fact states, "This game is based on a Native American game called Pa-Tol. Other games, such as Lacrosse, Pic-Up Sticks, Cat's Cradle, and Marbles, are also based on games that Native American children played for centuries." (p. 92). And here's a fact included about buttons at the beginning of its chapter. "Which came first, the button or the buttonhole? Turns out, it was the button. The earliest buttons didn't hold anything closed. Insetad, they were worn for decoration during the Bronze age..." (p. 47).

Some of the activities are more complicated while some are quite simple, but there is a good variety of both. This would be a great book to inspire fun games around the house (though quite a few require a small group of children). But it would also be a great way for parent and children to bond. For some more inspiration, check out this website about "Caine's Arcade", a child who created his own "arcade" out of cardboard boxes. Maybe check this book out for fun ideas for the summer!

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Monday, June 11, 2012

Title: The Chaperone
Author: Laura Moriarty
Pages: 367
Genre: Fiction, Historical (1920's-1940's)
Publisher: Riverhead Books (Penguin)
Pub. Date: June 5, 2012

I didn't know who she was prior to reading The Chaperone, but Louise Brooks was a silent film actress in the 1920's and 1930's known for her difficult attitude and sexually liberated personality. In the early 1920's before she was famous, she took a trip to New York City from Wichita, Kansas to study with the Denishawn dance company. Her parents were unable to accompany her, so a woman in the community was requested to chaperone her trip to NYC. Moriarty's The Chaperone imagines this trip, focusing on the relationship between Louise and the chaperone but more so on how this trip ultimately changes the life of this chaperone.

Although the trip and chaperone component were true, as well as the facets related to Louise herself, the actual chaperone in this book was a fictional character. I'm not sure how much else of her story is fact or fiction.

So, Cora Carlisle is a the woman who volunteers to accompany Louise Brooks to NYC. Her two boys have gone to work on a farm for the summer before college, and she has her own reasons for wanting to go to the city. Poor Cora has no idea what's in store for her dealing with a 15-year-old, rebellious, Louise! But she manages, not without shock at Louise's escapades, and fulfills her own reason for visiting the city. After she drops Cora off at the dance school each day, she goes off into the city to search for the answer to who she is, not necessarily finding the answer she wants but learning so much about herself and her own happiness.

One of the focuses of this novel as told through the experiences of Cora Carlisle is that of all the social change that was happening during this era. Cora is a fairly traditional woman and has trouble at first opening her eyes to the new ways of thinking, what with all the new feminist values (including those risque fashions) and prohibition; not to mention the social events from when Cora was a child including the orphan trains. Through Cora and Louise, the various points of these social arguments are presented. But through Cora's mission to learn more about herself and her reflections on her experiences with Louise, she begins to see things differently. And even though this book takes place in the early 1900's, it's relevant to today in many ways, as we continue to experience social changes and controversies. (There were a lot of issues in here that would lead to great discussion and might be good for a book club.)

I'll admit, Louise's character drove me nuts. I can't say that I liked her. I adored Cora, though, and I loved seeing the growth she made throughout the book. She's dealt with some difficult things in her life, too, and seeing the resolution to all of this was sweet as well.

I finished this book the same day I started it. It's definitely one of my favorites of the year so far!

And a total side note, I found this slightly altered cover online and love it. I think it might be the UK cover?  I really like how they incorporated the NYC skyline.

Armchair BEA, Day 5: The Future of Blogging

Friday, June 8, 2012

Today's topic is the future of blogging. Our posts are to be about "asking the experts" or providing tips about blogging. Now, I'm not an expert by any means, but I feel pretty comfortable with the experiences I've had over the past few years so I'm just going to write briefly about my own "tips" or, rather, my own philosophies on blogging.

As much as the book blogging community is a wonderful place, it also has the same challenges as any other community out there. Therefore, t's vital that each blogger know what their purpose is so they don't feel pressured to conform to any other standards, thus turning the reading and blogging of books into a frustrating task rather than an enjoyable hobby. That is truly my main piece of advice (that I need to remind myself to follow as well). In fact, I would encourage bloggers to physically write out their purpose/goals in order to encourage their own completion of these goals but also as a reminder to not feel swayed one way or another by how other people are working their blogs.

My main purpose in creating this blog was certainly not to make money from it (still not a goal) and not to get free books (I didn't even realize that would be a side effect of the blogging). It was truly to have a way to share my enjoyment of the books I was reading, to write about them so I wouldn't forget (as I typically do). I figured doing these things would encourage my continued reading and that blogging as a hobby would be a fun outlet. But I've fallen into the pitfalls many others have. What I need to look out for is how many review books I take on. I find that I dislike the obligation and often, I find myself really interested in a book only to lose interest either by the time it arrives in the mail or by the time I need to read it. So either I feel guilty for not reading them or I slog through them (even if they might be good I slog through because that's not what I wanted to read right then) and turn reading into a non enjoyable experience. I still deal with this all the time, but I'm trying to stop. Especially because I have experienced how great it feels to read what I want when I want and also find that this leads to an increase in how much I read... which leads to more blog posts which are easier to write because I have a higher level of enthusiasm. Seems like a simple enough process! But it's something I have to constantly remind myself about. And yet I'm constantly asking for more review books, requesting them on net galley, etc. LOL

The other thing is not comparing to other blogs. There are other people who have a different purpose with their blogs, yet I'll find myself comparing mine to theirs and thinking I need to do that too. And I don't! This is 100% my blog and I make all the rules here. And there are things that I would like to be able to do, but I just don't have the time or desire to put that much energy in to my blog. I rarely check my stats, and I don't do anything to try to increase them either. There are those who put focus into maximizing search engine optimization and are constantly marketing their blogs. If this is your purpose (aforementioned) then cool. But if it's not, then don't stress it! I mean, I would like the result of those things, sure, but when it comes down to it I'm not willing to do what it takes. It's too much time and stress and my purpose in this blog is not those things but to focus on my actual enjoyment of reading and writing about my reading. That's all.

As for the community involvement, I used to "follow" many hundred blogs but in reality I clearly wasn't reading every one of the posts or commenting and engaging in conversation with each of those people. I've learned the hard way that it is best to keep to a more focused community. There are a lot of blogs that focus on books I don't read or have interest in, so I tend to focus on reading blogs/ interacting with other bloggers who have similar interest in books that I do and/or whom I am able to have actual interaction with. Everyone I follow now is either or both of those things.

So those are my tips. Identify what it is YOU want for your blog and stick to it. And feel good about it!

Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharpe

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Title: Coming of Age on Zoloft
Subtitle: How Antidepressants Cheered Us Up, Let Us Down, and Changed Who We Are
Author:  Katherine Sharpe
Pages: 298
Genre: Non-fiction; sociology/psychology; memoir
Publisher: Harper Perennial (Harper Collins)
Pub. Date: June 5, 2012

Although I'm not as passionate about the topic of medication as I once was, it's still a subject I find interesting and that, at times, still does enrage me. It's not that I think medication is bad. On the contrary, I think it is very beneficial for some people. But I have also found that we live in a society that relies on them too much and that has allowed medication to become a quick fix (specifically as it relates to children). My first job out of college was as a case manager in a foster care group home, so I sometimes had to take children to appointments. I will never forget the maybe three minute conversation that the psychiatrist had with a child I took there. He literally said, "are you sad?" and received a shrug in reply. He prescribed this child an antidepressant. The group home I worked in was a regular foster care group home, but "med checks" were a regular thing, and most of the children were on medications. That was several years ago and now I'm a mental health therapist so I feel much more justified in my now "clinical" opinions and still find that people are way over-prescribed medication. Keep in mind that my issues are mainly regarding children, but I find the topic interesting overall which is why I was drawn to this book about antidepressants.

Katherine Sharpe's Coming of Age on Zoloft is part memoir, part interview, and part expose on the history and current trends of antidepressant use. Sharpe's motivation stemmed from her own experiences with antidepressants throughout high school and college that left her wondering about how using these medications for an extended period of time affected her personal development. She also interviewed many other individuals about their experiences and thoughts of how they were affected both by the use of medication as well as the stigma of their mental health. She also provides the history of mental health, specifically depression, and of antidepressants.

Overall, this book was informative, and I'm sure every reader will get something different out of it based on their backgrounds and personal experiences. I do think that for those who are considering starting the use of antidepressants or putting their children on antidepressants that this would be a beneficial read. Not only does Sharpe provide her viewpoints, she provides a plethora of quotes from other people in their 20's and 30's who have used antidepressants, many from a young age. Their thoughts are varying so this would be a good way to gain a thorough understanding of the different factors that might affect you or your child. I also like that she included her experiences with therapy and really provides her evidence for why therapy can be completely beneficial in its own way, maybe even more (or at least differently) than medication.

I do wish, though, that this book had included a larger variety of sources. The interviews for this book were mainly done with college students, likely upper middle to upper class. I think that there are whole populations of people whose input would have added a ton to this book and for whom there are different types of implications. There were times when I felt the information or arguments in this book became repetitive, so I think there would have been room to add those other sources. I also had a couple personal gripes with the clinical information provided... while it was technically accurate, I didn't always agree. She remarks on how easy it would be to be diagnosed with "depression" when really it might just be a normal reaction to a stressful event. She states that this person would fit the criteria for the diagnosis. But my thought is that yes, someone could justify that, but a good clinician would make a better judgment and use critical thinking skills to provide more accurate assessment. And another thing is yes while, technically, the new diagnostic criteria slated for 2013 will be the first to have a rating scale, current diagnoses of depression can be specified as mild, moderate, or severe, so the argument that all depression is depression is depression is the same wasn't quite accurate in my mind.

So overall, I do think there is benefit, for sure, to reading this book, but I would only recommend it to those who have an invested interest in the topic.

Armchair BEA, Day 4: Beyond the Blog

Today's topic is beyond the blog. We're to write about writing in other arenas as well as anything interesting about us outside the blog.

I sort of dread this topic because I have so little going on outside the blog except work! Many of you know I am a mental health therapist doing contract work which means I see clients according to my own schedule but it entails an extremely large amount of paperwork that I have to do on my down time at home since the daytime hours are spent seeing as many clients as I can. I've always wanted to engage more in writing, but I write so much for my job (assessments, etc.) that I'm sort of worn. Even writing my blog posts is tiresome sometimes. That being said, one day I'd love to write a book. I'm just lacking the creativity right now. (I'd love to take a creative writing class, though!) I mentioned earlier I'd like to write essays, though I haven't gotten around to it yet. Really, I think freelance writing sounds so fun, but I haven't even started to think about how I could do that... mainly because I have no energy after the work I already do.

As for my life outside the blog, lately I feel like there hasn't been much. My husband and I are big fans of the Orlando Magic, but, honestly, I paid hardly any attention to basketball this year because I was annoyed with the NBA lockout at the beginning of the year and then the drama with Dwight Howard and Stan Van Gundy (I side with Gundy) and all that. So that was a big change from the last couple years when we had partial season tickets and it seemed we were at the Amway all the time! We also have annual passes to Universal Studios/Islands of Adventure so we try to take advantage of those as often as we can, although we haven't done much of that recently either. So that's pretty much it. We don't have kids so we do try to do fun things in Orlando, theater, things like that. But everything costs money so we've also learned to become very content with hanging out at home for fun!

Armchair BEA, Day 3: Networking in Real Life

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Book Expo America week is here! For those who are unable to attend BEA in New York City, there is Armchair BEA... so, assuming I keep up, every day this week I'll be posting according to Armchair BEA's agenda.

Today's topic is networking in real life. We were asked to share a real life experience with books, book events, partnerships, etc.

I've been pretty fortunate, I think, with the book events I've been able to attend. I've gotten to know fellow bloggers in the Orlando area (as well as met non-local bloggers as well!) Book events are so fun. They're a great way to get to know other bloggers and to celebrate a love for reading. I've also met some amazing authors. Here is a summary of the book events I've attended/documented over the past few years.

The first actual major book event I think I attended was BEA/BBC in 2010! My husband attended with me and we spent a lot of time with fellow blogger friend, Jennifer, who I had previously "known" through and being a games moderator over there.

Then there was the UCF Book Festival last year and this year where I was able to hang out with fellow Orlando bloggers. I won't recap who all those Orlando bloggers are or all the wonderful authors I met because it's all written in those posts, but go check out those posts if you haven't already! We, bloggers, were also able to attend the author reception(s) the night before the festival and ended the festival with a blogger dinner. So fun!

It seems like we rarely have author signings in Orlando, so I have driven over a couple hours south of here to go to the Vero Beach Book Center (usually picking my sister up on the way) to attend author signings there including Kristy Kiernan, Kristin Hannah, and Jen Lancaster. I haven't had any kind of "partnerships" with any indie book stores, but if there were one I'd want to promote or be a part of it would be this one. They're amazing!

I'm excited to attend more of these in the future. I had a mishap with trying to attend SIBA (Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance) in Daytona Beach a couple years ago when I was going to try to attend while on call for my then job... I was called in when I was about 10 minutes away! I may try to attend again this year (with my fellow Orlando bloggers) since it's in Naples and turn it into a mini-vaca!

Armchair BEA, Day 2: Giveaway!!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Book Expo America week is here! For those who are unable to attend BEA in New York City, there is Armchair BEA... so, assuming I keep up, every day this week I'll be posting according to Armchair BEA's agenda.

Today's topic is giveaways, or best books of 2012, or most looked forward to for the year.

First I'll start with my giveaway. Rather than pick out specific books to give away which was my plan, I'm going to give away a $10 gift card to Barnes & Noble or Amazon (or an indie book store if you have one you prefer that I can get online) so you can choose the book. To enter the giveaway, fill out the form at the bottom. Anyone with an e-mail can enter!

Below are just some of the BEA "buzz" books that I'm looking forward to reading in the coming months!(Click on the cover to go to a description of the book)

Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Monday, June 4, 2012

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Pages: 427
Genre: Fiction, Thriller
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group (Random House)
Pub. Date: June 5, 2012

Wow! I decided to read this after hearing some early buzz about how great and twisted it is and am so glad I did it. Gone Girl was crazy in all types of ways. It started off fairly basic enough (in terms of mystery/thrillers). Nick Dunne's wife, Amy, disappears on the their fifth wedding anniversary. When Nick gets home, he sees the living room a mess and the furniture overturned. As the investigation progresses, the evidence against Nick begins piling up. Nick fails to have an alibi; and though he could provide them with some more information, Nick finds himself lying and/or omitting information as well which adds to the presumption of guilt. Further hurting Nick's case is the fact that his and Amy's marriage hasn't been the best and rather than a day of celebration, the day is more of a tense evaluation for them of where their marriage is headed.

The story alternates Nick's present day narration of the investigation with Amy's diary entries from the time they meet up until she disappears. Amy's diary entries chronicle a marriage that was falling apart and that may provide some clues into what's happened to her. In the meantime, the public and the media vilify Nick, camping out in his yard and and at his work. They judge his every move and his every facial expression at the press conferences.

I don't very often find myself having to be vague about the plot or themes, but this is truly one of those books that I can't fill you in on much. What I can say is that it's crazy, and when you think it's crazy enough, it becomes a whole 'nother kind of crazy. There are some themes in here even though it is a mystery and a thriller of sorts, one of the prominent ones being marriage and what challenges can quickly abound. It's also a testament to how our backgrounds can shape who we become or who we choose to become. It's insane and un-put-downable. This is a MUST read!!

Armchair BEA, Day 1: Introductions

Book Expo America week is here! For those who are unable to attend BEA in New York City, there is Armchair BEA... so, assuming I keep up, every day this week I'll be posting according to Armchair BEA's agenda.

Today's topic is introductions. I've answered five of the questions they provided below.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging?  

My name is Jenny. There's nothing really exciting to tell! I work as a therapist which takes up a lot of time, and in my free time I pretty much enjoy reading and blogging. I got into blogging initially because of where I saw other readers talking about their blogs. My main purpose was just to have a fun hobby writing about what I read since I usually forgot everything about the books I read. But it turned out to be a pretty huge part of my life. I've also met so many people, been able to attend so many fun events (more to come on this Wednesday), and have overall really enjoyed my time in the blogging community. This summer will make four years of blogging!

What is your favorite book you have read so far in 2012?

I've read some pretty good books, but my favorites so far have been Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. I actually found some similarities in the two books so I guess this isn't a surprise. =)

Where do you see your blog in five years?

I hope my blog is still around in five years and that it's something I'm still interested in. I'm really not one of those that has huge aspirations for my blog because it needs to remain a hobby and escape for me. I don't think I have the energy to make this about more than that. That being said, I would like to start actually writing more and maybe writing "essays". I may post here if they are book related, but that's not something I've put too much thought into yet.

If you could eat dinner with any author or character, who would it be and why?  

You know, as much as I enjoy reading and all that, I don't think I've ever had a specific author (or character) that I felt like I HAD to talk to in person. But part of that might just be the fact that I know I'm often uncomfortable in those situations. I can say, though, that I really admire Jean Kwok (author of Girl in Translation) and based on Facebook interactions I feel like she's someone I'd really like in real life. And actually, if I had to pick a character, it would be Kimberly from the same book, and this that book is semi-autobiographical, I guess that sort of makes sense, ha! I think Tayari Jones (Silver Sparrow, Leaving Atlanta) is another author I'd love to have dinner with. I actually met her last year at a book event/signing and she was sooo nice. I feel like their books alone would give us enough to talk about. Yes, these two are who I would choose.

What literary location would you most like to visit? Why? 

This one is sort of a cheat question for me. I can't really think of any book I've read where I thought I need to go visit that location. BUT, I am big on location in books. My two favorite cities in this country are New York City and Washington D.C., so I love reading books that take place there. And I've been fortunate enough to have visited these cities multiple times each so I will stick to those. I even have a shelf (virtual and literal) devoted to books about or that take place in New York City -- the New York Shelf

That's it for today, I will be back tomorrow with giveaways! 

May in Review

Sunday, June 3, 2012


Reading and Reviewing
I made some great improvements in my work this month and at improving my efficiency overall. It seems to be leading closer to my preferred amount of reading time, so that's an exciting thing for me. But overall I'm going to try to stop making such a thing out of it. Here are the books I reviewed this month.
(Those weren't all from this month, though... some were read earlier!)

Here's what I read this month but have not yet reviewed here:
  •  The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • Coming of Age on Zoloft by Katherine Sharp
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (review posting tomorrow!)

Are You Armchair BEAing?
I signed up to do this but now I'm not sure if I want to. I typically prefer to keep my posts here specifically about the books I read, and I have some reviews I wanted to post this week so now I'm not sure. Are any of you participating in it?

 That's about it for this month.... nothing else interesting to report. Hope everyone has a great reading month!