New Years's Reading Resolutions...

December 28, 2010

A new year is just around the corner. I'm not one for making resolutions, because I tend to break them before I even finish stating the resolution. However, I'm going to make a few reading resolutions for 2011. I figure these have a better shot of being kept than a vow to lose my holiday/baby weight (even though my baby is 1 1/2).

So, here they are:
1. To discover at least one new author- if not more.
2. Read a book from a genre I normally don't read.
3. Try to go to an author signing this year.
4. Make my bookstore gift certificates last a month.
5. Read 1 Nicholas Sparks book I haven't read yet.

These are all I can think of right now. If I think of more I can always add to my list later. Here's hoping I have lots of reading success in the coming year. If you have set any reading goals for the coming year, I wish you much success with them. I'd love to hear what they are if you would like to share. We can cheer each other on!

Jen's Christmas- Reading Review

December 26, 2010

Now that Christmas has come and gone, my time allotted for Christmas reading has done the same. I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of the books I read this year. I found some new books that will be added to my annual holiday reading list (The Christmas List), and I found a book that I never plan to pick up again (The Revenge of the Christmas Box).

I hope if you read any holiday themed books over the last month that you enjoyed them. There is just something about Christmas that translates very well into books. It's like the magic they hold is already there. Christmas books are a special breed all unto their own. I look forward to next year's books and wonder what I'll discover then.

I want to thank all of you who read my Christmas posts and commented on them. I loved hearing from you and reading your thoughts. I enjoyed sharing some of my Christmas Traditions with you. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!!

Let's do this again next year!!

Jen's Christmas- The Mischief of the Mistletoe

December 21, 2010

The Mischief of the Mistletoe
By: Lauren Willig

326 Pages

Arabella Dempsey's dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson's Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls' school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. She hardly imagines coming face to face with French aristocrats and international spies...

Reginald "Turnip"Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation- has blundered into danger before. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French, "Meet me at Farley Castle," the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens' modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? Is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella's and Turnip's hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding? --

The Pink Carnation series is back and in time to celebrate the Christmas season! I loved reading this book. The characters were great and fun to read. I loved the banter between Turnip and his sister, Sally. Sally was just a fun character to read and get to know. I'm hoping Lauren Willig does a book with her as the main character sometime in the future.

Lauren Willig is amazing at combining good plot and good characters. They way she wove Jane Austen into the story was genius. Truthfully, that was one of the main reasons I was drawn to the book. I do wish there was more of the spy hunt in the book, but I thoroughly enjoyed what there was.

I apologize for the poor job I have done on this review. I am doing this among planning a big Christmas dinner and getting presents wrapped. I have by no means done this book justice and I will not be able to apologize enough for it. I almost decided to hold off on posting it, but wanted to give you guys the chance to pursue it if you wanted to. This was a series I loved in the beginning, but became disenchanted with over time. The first book, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, remains my favorite but this book is up there with it. It was good to see a great series bounce back!

Rating: Borrow From the Library/ Buy It

Jen's Christmas- Favorite Christmas Movies

December 20, 2010

Christmas is right around the corner. In my house that means Christmas movies will be playing-a lot! I thought I'd give you a list of my favorite ones!!

1. The Muppet Christmas Carol
This is the Muppet's take on the classic Dickens's work A Christmas Carol. I grew up on the Muppets, so this was an instant Christmas favorite for me. It gets played every year. My Mom and I would watch it together with a big bowl of popcorn. I still curl up with it, only now my 4 year old daughter will join me!

2. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
Whenever I watch this movie I know I'm going to be giggling and laughing from the opening credits to the closing ones. This movie is HILARIOUS!! If you're big on physical comedy, you will thoroughly enjoy this movie. Chevy Chase decides to host a family Christmas at his house and what ensues is funny!

3. While You Were Sleeping
Lucy loves a man she sees every morning. The fact that she doesn't know anything about him means nothing. However, everything changes when she saves his life after he's pushed onto the train tracks. Before she knows it, she's mistaken as his fiance and welcomed into his family. A cute holiday comedy.

4. The Nightmare Before Christmas
In this Tim Burton holiday movie all the holidays are their own separate towns- never knowing about the others. But what happens when Jack, from Halloween Town, stumbles upon Christmas Town? How well can Christmas and Halloween blend together? So creative and fun to watch, this is my favorite Tim Burton movie.

5. How The Grinch Stole Christmas
My daughter was too young to enjoy the original cartoon, so we always played the Jim Carey movie when we'd entertain. I thought they did a great job remaking the movie. The movie is visually stunning. I love the make-up, hair, costumes, and sets were great. I also thought Jim Carey did a great job as the Grinch.

There you have it. Now you know what will be on in my house on any given time. I hope some of the movies that made my list are your favorites, too.

Jen's Christmas -- Christmas Eye Candy

December 17, 2010

I wish I was here!! I would be in a town like this at Christmas time. Throw in some ice skating and I'd be a happy visitor... just teach me how to ice skate first.

I'm getting presents wrapped for a Christmas get together with family tomorrow. I was able to wrap my youngest daughter's presents as well. Now I just have to find the time to wrap my oldest daughter's presents and finish up my Christmas shopping.

I hope to finish The Mischief of the Mistletoe over the weekend. I've enjoyed reading it and almost hate to have it end.

Hope all of you are doing well. Hopefully the holiday stress has missed you guys!

Jen's Christmas- Our Tree

December 14, 2010

Our Christmas Tree!

I thought I would give you a little insight into Christmas at my house. For starters, our tree is fake- hubby's doing, not mine. It's full of ornaments we've collected over the years we've been married. We have a tradition every year: we each get an ornament that represented us. We'd also get an ornament with the year written on it. My husband is a HUGE Star Wars fan, so there's Darth Vader, Darth Maul and others from the movies all over the tree. When our oldest daughter was born, we started getting her an ornament for her every year as well. She loved Sesame Street, so we have lots of Elmo, Grover, and Abby Cadabby ornaments. Both girls have numbered ornaments to mark the first 5 Christmases they have. Each year we add a number.

When we put up the tree, the hubby puts it together and strings the lights. Then we, as a family, put on all our ornaments. The first two to go on the tree are a bride and groom that was hand made for us when we got married, since it was the bride and groom that started it all. We play Christmas music, eat Christmas cookies, and have a great time decorating our tree. In the last couple of years we've included Grandparents in our tree decorating. My parents now come over and my husband's Dad lives with us, so they all get to be part of the fun. Decorating the tree has become a tree decorating party.

A lot of people have themed trees, or decorated in specific colors. While ours doesn't really have either of those, I guess you could say it's our family's history. You'll find ornaments that show little parts of our personalities on our tree. I can't wait to see what ornaments we get each year.

Jen's Christmas- 'Tis The Season

December 11, 2010

'Tis The Season
By: Lorna Landvik

Heiress Caroline Dixon has managed to alienate nearly everyone with her alcohol-fueled antics, which have also provided near-constant fodder for the poison-pen tabloids and their gossip-hungry readers. But like so many girls-behaving-badly, the twenty-six-year-old socialite gets her comeuppance, followed by a newfound desire to live a saner existence or at least one more firmly rooted in the real world.As Caro tentatively begins atoning for past misdeeds, she reaches out to two wonderful people who years ago brought meaning to her life: her former nanny, Astrid Brevald, now living in Norway, and Arizona dude ranch owner Cyril Dale. While Astrid fondly remembers Caro as a sweet little girl, Cyril recalls how he and his late wife were quite taken with the quick-witted teenager Caro had become when she spent time at the Dales ranch as her father was dying. In a series of e-mail exchanges, Caro reveals the depth of her pain and the lengths she went to hide...

This book had some cute parts and some dull parts. Overall it was a mindless read that makes for good filler while in between books. You won't finish the book and think "I want to read it again". I'm glad I read it. If you're looking for an easy read that isn't heavy and takes you out of your world for a bit, you may enjoy this book.

The whole time I read this book I kept picturing the main character, Caroline, as Lindsay Lohan. (In my defense, Caroline and Lindsay seemed to have a few physical traits in common.) I enjoyed reading the antics Caroline got herself into. Mistaking an urn for a toilet takes some talent- or A LOT of alcohol. Either way, I got a chuckle from it. It was nice to see a spoiled rich girl get her act together and walk out a better person. I also liked reading about the memories Caroline has of Astrid and Cyril. I was glad they all came together. I didn't even mind how predictable the ending was.

Rating: Borrow From The Library

Jen's Christmas- Revenge of the Christmas Box

December 9, 2010

Revenge of the Christmas Box: A Parody
By: Cathy E. Crimmons & Tom Maeder

Okay, I'm all for parodies- when they're funny. This one was just wrong. Not offensive wrong, but just wrong. When I discovered this book at my library, I thought it was going to be funny. I couldn't wait to read it. As soon as I picked it up from the library I dug right into it. 30 something pages later, I put it down. Yeah, it was disturbing- in my opinion. In all the ways I thought this book could parody The Christmas Box, I didn't think this was the direction they would take.

Revenge of the Christmas Box is a collection of little parodies based on the actual book. For those who aren't familiar with The Christmas Box, it's about a family who moves into an elderly lady's home to help her take care of it. As I said, I love a good parody. This is not a book of good parodies.

Take the little parody called The Christmas Icebox. This is the story of a lady who kept her daughter criogenically (sp?) frozen in a tube in her attic. OK. However, The Christmas Boxing Helena remains the most disturbing one- by far. In this story a cardiovascular surgeon places an ad for a couple to live in his home. Looking back, his ad should have been a tip off. When asked why he retired so early, his response was he did so for love. Well, his "love" is right there in his attic. She's alive, though I don't know how well. She's in a box- with no arms or legs. It seems the surgeon cut those off. The surgeon also teaches the husband how to do this so he can do the same to his wife. Yeah. Like I said, the book was just wrong.

I don't even know if you can get this book anymore without buying it used. B&N online doesn't have any new copies available. I found this book in my library's listings when I was checking to see if they had The Christmas Box.

Rating: Return It!

Jen's Christmas- The Christmas Box

December 7, 2010

The Christmas Box
By: Richard Paul Evans

125 Pages

When a couple and their daughter move into the house of an elderly woman they had no idea what awaited them.

This is the debut novel of Richard Paul Evans. This beautiful novel was on the bestseller lists for weeks. It's an amazing story of love. The Christmas Box is another one of those books I tend to read every year at Christmas time. I can curl up with it and read it in one afternoon because I get lost in the story. I was given this book and told to read it. I am so glad that I did.

Mary Anne Parkin places an ad in her local newspaper. She's looking for a couple who could move into her house (mansion, really) and help her run it, as she's getting too old to do so. The couple who answer the ad and their daughter move in soon after. Upon putting their things in Mary Anne's attic, the husband (who's name is escaping me right now) finds a beautiful wooden box which inside hold what appear to be love letters.

Fairly soon after the young family move in Mary Anne poses a question to the husband: Do You Know What The First Gift of Christmas Was? He soon discovers the answer to this question, the reason why Mary Anne's Bible has so many tear stained pages, the secret they feel she's hiding, and the wooden box he found in the attic are all connected.

This book is another amazing Richard Paul Evans read. It's a beautiful, touching story that I was blessed to read. Once you start this book, you will probably get sucked into it like everyone else has. The story reminds you that love is at the heart of everything important. I warn you, tears may fall. I hope this story works it's magic for you as it has for the millions who have read it. May it touch you like it touched me.

Rating: Buy It!!

Jen's Christmas- The Christmas List

December 6, 2010

The Christmas List
By: Richard Paul Evans
349 Pages

A case of mistaken identity introduces James Kier to what people really think of him. He then makes a list of people he has hurt and sets out to right the wrongs.

Oh My Gosh!! This was an amazing book! A phenomenal book! I was glued to the story and almost hated to see it end. I have another book to add to my yearly Christmas reading list.

James Kier is a selfish man. A man driven by money and his own interests. Whether that be screwing over friends, serving his wife with divorce papers while she's seriously ill. He's not even above encouraging someone to make a bad financial decision that leads to them losing their house and life savings. And while he does all this he never bats an eye or thinks twice. He's never remorseful.

All that starts to change when a paper mistakenly runs his obituary. Upon going to the newspaper's website Kier reads the comments people have posted and they are anything but sad. This leads James to make a list of 5 people he has hurt. He intends to make up to them what he has done. With varying results, James Kier sets out a path that eventually leads to him to what really matters in life- mostly his life.

The bulk of the book is the journey of James Kier and the realizations he comes to. If you like A Christmas Carol, you will probably like The Christmas List. I warn you, the odds are pretty good that you will cry when one character dies. Despite that, you are in for a heartwarming read. I immediately went to the bookstore and bought the book.

Rating: Buy It!!

She Stoops To Conquer (Journey Through The Classics)

December 4, 2010

She Stoops To Conquer
By: Oliver Goldsmith

This book isn't on the Barnes & Noble Classics list I've been reading from. This was one of the classics that came with the eReader my hubby downloaded onto my phone. I had never heard of it before and, upon reading the brief summary, I wanted to read it. Now that I have, I can say there's a reason it isn't a classic you heard a lot of.

I'd love to tell you the plot of the play, but I'm not quite sure what is was. All I can tell you is that it was a confusing read. I know that a father wanted to arrange a marriage for his daughter, but neither the bride or the groom were interested. I got lost in the numerous characters and the conversations they had that, truthfully, had me forgetting what was supposed to be going on.

I was really looking forward to reading the play and was disappointed it didn't turn out well. Who knows, maybe I'll give it another try eventually. As for now, I have cut my losses and hope to have better luck with the next classic.

Jen's Christmas- Christmas Vacation

December 1, 2010

Now that December has arrived, the countdown to Christmas has officially begun. And what better way to kick that off than with a movie that will have you laughing so hard you may cry. I give you another of my favorite Christmas movies and one that helps kick off my Christmas season. Readers, I give you...
This movie is beyond hilarious!! It's a holiday classic for a good reason! If you love physical comedy (I'm a HUGE fan of it), you will love this movie. What better way to deal with all the stress the holiday season brings that with a movie that puts a comedic twist on it all.

In case you haven't seen National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, let me tell you about it. Clark Griswald has always wanted a traditional family Christmas: family coming to stay, getting the tree, decorating the house. Well, he gets it and far more than he bargained for. As one thing after another goes awry, Clark's sanity starts to wobble.

My favorite scene is when Clark and family go to the snow hills to enjoy sledding. Clark has been working on a special kind of varnish at work, and decides this would be the best time to try it out. (Never mind that the varnish is meant for food and not aluminum sleds) Well, he races down the hills at lightening speed. It's hilarious.

There's also his Christmas lights display. After overdoing his house lights a bit, the first attempt yields no results. However, when he finally does get the lights to work, he shorts out the city. (My husband enjoys that scene)

This movie is one laughing scene after another. Curl up with a bowl of popcorn, a warm blanket, and enjoy to your heart's content.

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