Category Archives: Blog Post

A Glimpse Inside Chelsea Cain’s Portland

On Monday, I introduced you all to the thrilling & bone-chilling world of Chelsea Cain.  As I mentioned, setting in Cain’s novels are like a character in and of themselves, so I thought it would be perfect to get a real glimpse inside the world of Chelsea Cain’s Portland. Following are just a few of the Portland, OR-area sites mentioned in Evil at Heart:

Pittock Mansion was the home of Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919. The mansion serves as a monument to all the contributions the family made to Portland. The home was equipped with progressive features including a central vacuum system, intercoms, and indirect lighting. The mansion was opened to the public in 1965.  In Chelsea Cain’s Portland, the Pittock Mansion is one of Gretchen Lowe’s many crime scenes.

Portland’s Rose Gardens was created in as a place for Georgiana Burton Pittock to exhibit her roses for her friends and family.  It’s renowned for it’s tens of thousands of rose varieties.  Unfortunately, this beautiful, scenic garden was yet another on of Gretchen Lowe’s crime scenes.

The Columbia River Gorge, an 80-mile geologic wonder that forms the border between northern Oregon and southern Washington, is proof of Nature’s unbridled strength. Glacial floods thousands of years ago carved this 1,200-mile-long river, which is the only sea-level passage to cross the Cascade Mountains.’ve guessed it correctly, it’s another crime scene.

Following is a video of Chelsea Cain herself, touring through Portland.  She also describes how she was inspired to write about a female serial killer.  She starts at the beginning, with  scenes from Heartsick. Be careful, there are some spoilers!

I hope this glimpse inside Chelsea Cain’s Portland hasn’t tainted your feelings about this great city!

Don’t forget, you can still enter to win the entire Chelsea Cain “Beauty Killer” library! Contest ends on 4/26!

I’d be remiss not to thank Jen from Jen’s Book Thoughts for arranging Detectives Around the World! She did an outstanding job!  I discovered several new blogs and authors, so THANK YOU JEN!!

The Party’s Over! Bloggiesta Wrap-Up


I had a very productive Bloggiesta! Ok, so I didn’t get all of my tasks completed, but that’s only because I added new ones!  Here were my initial goals:

  1. Clean up images (Not completed)
  2. Fix Formatting: (Not completed)
  3. Write Reviews: (Wrote 1!)
  4. Reply to Comments Completed!
  5. Launch Tales of a (Former) Reluctant Reader Completed! Button has been created (after literally spending hours obsessing over it!) and TFRR will launch later this week!
  6. Clean up Google Reader Completed!



In addition to the goals listed above I also:

  • cataloged review copies I’d received
  • helped out a bunch of bloggers on Twitter with their #bloggiesta questions
  • Helped a dear friend Geri launch her own blog, One More Funny Notion!



Overall, I *only* devoted about 10 hours to Bloggiesta.  Hopefully, with better planning (and perhaps a babysitter or two!) I plan on participating a bit more during the next Bloggiesta.  So, thank you Natasha for yet another outstanding Bloggiesta!!

Bloggiesta: Let’s Get This Party Started!!


It’s the beginning of the new year.  What a perfect time to do a little blog maintenance!  Natasha from Maw Books Blog is once again hosting Bloggiesta, your excuse to spend the entire weekend working on your blog (like you needed one!).

To assist you in improving the look of your blog, ten mini-challenges have been established:

Be sure to check out these great challenges. If you participate and comment, you will be eligible to win some great publisher-sponsored prizes!

I participated in Bloggiesta last year and, admittedly, came up with some pretty elaborate goals for the weekend.  I’ve learned my lesson this go round and come up with six fairly easy goals:

  1. Clean up images: When I moved to self-hosting from my blogger blog, I lost a lot of images.  I’m going to go through all my old posts and fix the images.
  2. Fix Formatting: Yet another thing that didn’t transfer over well from Blogger was the formatting.  Several posts have wonky spacing, etc. that needs to be corrected.  So, while I go through all my old posts to fix the pictures, I will fix the alignment as well.
  3. Write Reviews: We’re barely in to 2010 and I’m already behind on my reviews.  I plan to write at least five this weekend.
  4. Reply to Comments: I love it when my followers leave comments! I did have a process of going through posts weekly and responding to comments, but this process has fallen by the wayside! 
  5. Launch Tales of a (Former) Reluctant Reader: This is my ten-year-old son’s new feature in which he, as a former reluctant reader, will spotlight books that got him excited about reading.  I still (HELP!) need a button for this feature and need to schedule the posts, but I’m really looking forward to this project!
  6. Clean up Google Reader: I can admit that I’m subscribed to way too many blogs.  I can’t remember the last time I cleared my reader down to zero (without marking all as read).  So, it’s time to unsubscribe to those blogs I don’t really follow anymore.



Sound easy enough?  I hope so, because I also have to take down the Christmas tree and do all sorts of work around the house!

Book Spotlight: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez


Situated in the free state of Ohio, Tawawa House offers respite from the summer heat. A beautiful, inviting house surrounded by a dozen private cottages, the resort is favored by wealthy Southern white men who vacation there, accompanied by their enslaved mistresses.

Regular visitors Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet have forged an enduring friendship. They look forward to their annual reunion and the opportunity it affords them to talk over the changes in their lives and their respective plantations. The subject of freedom is never spoken aloud until the red-maned, spirited Mawu arrives and voices her determination to escape. To run is to leave behind the friends and families trapped at home. For some, it also means tearing the strong emotional and psychological ties that bind them to their masters.

My thoughts so far:

I’m halfway through my reading of Wench and I can’t help but state how drawn I am to the characters already.  Each of the women have a compelling story and a specific reason for not opting to run when the opportunity presents itself.  The storyline itself is heart-wrenching and powerful.  Never before have I read fiction about slavery that haunts me so.  When I’m not reading the book, I can’t get my mind off of the characters and their brutal histories. When I am able to devote some time to reading it, I instantly become absorbed in each of the women’s lives. I guarantee this novel is going to garner a lot of well-deserved attention and praise.  Please come back on January 25th for my full review of this novel.


About Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s fiction and essays The Kenyon Review, African American Review, PMS:  PoemMemoirStory, North Carolina Literary Review, Richard Wright Newsletter, and SLI:  Studies in Literary Imagination.  She is a 2009 finalist for the Robert Olen Butler Fiction Award.  A graduate of Harvard and a former University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Dolen splits her time between Seattle and Washington, DC.  She is a faculty member of the University of Puget Sound where she teaches Creative Writing.  Wench is her first book of fiction.  You can visit Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s website at, her blog at or connect with her on Twitter at

A Belated Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone! Life caught up with me and I didn’t get a chance to do a 2009 wrap up post!

I still wanted to write a short post about new things coming up on Jenn’s Bookshelves:

  • Reading more books from my TBR piles!  This year, I vow to be a bit more selective when accepting review copies.  My poor TBR piles are about to collapse and I need to pay some attention to them!


  • My son, John-John, will be launching a new feature entitled “Tales of a Reluctant Reader” in which he will focus on books that interested him, as a reluctant reader.  I still need a button for this feature.  Anyone willing to help out? Also, if you are a publisher or author with a book geared for reluctant readers, John-John is accepting review requests! Simply fill out the Review Request Form.


  • I was recently diagnosed with pigmentary dispersion syndrome.  It’s a mild form of glaucoma.  Basically (if you don’t want details skip the rest of this!) the pressure build-up in my eye is causing the pigment to fleck-off and drift into the black part of my eye.  In addition, I also have a small rupture close to my optic nerve.  I go back to the dr. on the 18th for more tests and to discuss my options.  More than likely, I will have a procedure in which they use a laser to create a small “vent” to help alleviate the pressure.  If this doesn’t work, I will have to use eye drops to alleviate the pressure.  What does this mean? Lots of dr. appointments and not a lot of free time.  So, publishers and authors, if I have agreed to review your book, please be patient with me.


Ok, I think that wraps it up!  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and once again, HAPPY NEW YEAR!

My Secret Santa Gift Arrived!


Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE this time of year!? Today I came home to find a shoebox sitting on my porch. Realizing I would have never purchased a size 7 boot for myself, I realized it MUST be my Secret Santa Gift! I ripped it open (I’m so impatient when it comes to opening gifts!) and below is what I found. 102_1568

Inside was a note from my Secret Santa, Molly & Andy from The Bumbles Blog:

Happy Holidays via the Book Blogger Holiday Swap!  We do hope you enjoy your gifts.  We tried to keep your interests and suggestions in mind while also providing some personal touches of our own:

  • Neil Gaiman’s “Graveyard”: From your Amazon wish list-so you can complete your Middle Grade Challenge–this is a clever book!
  • A bookmark: From your suggestion list-in the “book thong” style which Molly is a faithful fan of ever since another blogger made one for her a year ago.  Hers doesn’t have a cool pendant on it though.  She picked out “Beauty” since, especially in reading, it is in the eye of the beholder.
  • A Coffee mug: From your suggestion list–unsure of what kind you enjoy brewing, we thought it best to provide you with the vessel instead. It carries an inspiring quite from one of our fellow New Englanders whose pond we recently visited.
  • Chocolate expresso beans: From your suggestion list-keeping with the coffee theme we thought you might like these treats to munch on with your coffee and book.  These are oe of Andy’s favorite treats.
  • John Connolly’s “The Book of Lost Things”: Bonus!  One of Molly’s favorite recent reads and based on our research of your blog, something we thought you might enjoy too.  We couldn’t confirm whether or not you had read it already so took a chance that if you haven’t, you will love it and if you have, you loved it and wouldn’t mind a copy to keep or share with others.
  • A Bumble of your own: A token of our little mascot to keep your handsome sons amused and of course, something to remember us by.

So thoughtful!  So thank you SO MUCH Molly & Andy!

That’s How I Blog!



Nicole from Linus’s Blanket hosts an amazing Blog Talk Radio Show called “That’s How I Blog“, during which she chats with various bloggers about their lives, how they blog, their favorite books, etc.   She’s chatted with quite a few outstanding bloggers, including:

Trish, Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

Kathy, BermudaOnion

Beth, Beth Fish Reads

Michelle, Galley Smith

During the last portion of the show, Nicole and the blogger have a quick 20 minute book club and discuss a a book.  Tonight at 9 PM Eastern Time, Nicole will be chatting with book blogger extraordinaire Amy, from My Friend Amy.  Once the interview is over, they will chat about Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater.   Be sure to log-in to the very lively chat room or call in (646-381-4606) to ask your questions.

Next Tuesday at 8:30 PM Eastern Time, I will be chatting with Nicole about my blog!  Our book for discussion will be Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane! There’s still time for you to read the book and join in on our discussion!

If you have any questions to ask about me that you’d like to be asked during the call, you can send them to Nicole at: nicole AT linussblanket DOT com before the show!


It’s That Time of Year Again! Time for the Book Blogger Holiday Swap!


The holiday swap is a way for book bloggers to connect and celebrate the holiday spirit by sharing gifts. It’s done secret Santa style; all of the participants are randomly assigned a blogger to send a gift to, and these assignments are kept secret until the gift has been delivered. So no one knows who their gift is coming from!

The swap was started two years ago, in the winter of 2007, by Ana. Dewey, a very involved book blogger, promoted the event in 2007 and helped co-host in 2008, before her sudden passing in November of that year.

I participated in my first swap last year and it was a very rewarding experience.  I met a new blogger and got some great bookish gifts!

Interested in learning more? Head over to the Holiday Swap Web site  and out the Introductory Post or FAQ page.

What do you need to do to sign up? Visit the Holiday Swap Web site and fill out the Google form! But make sure you do so before the deadline of November 12, 2009 So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and fill out the form now!

Happy Halloween! Thunder & Blood Winners Announced

First of all, a belated Happy Halloween to you all!  I intended to post yesterday, but with all the festivities I didn’t have the opportunity.  Here are a few pictures of my boys right before we began trick-or-treating:


Snake Eyes & Duke Show Off Their Moves!


And here are pictures of all the candy obtained after almost three hours of trick-or-treating:

John's Candy

John's Candy

Justin's Candy

Justin's Candy

After he sorted his candy, John-John decided he wanted to pose for one more picture!

Serious Snake Eyes!

Serious Snake Eyes!

So that was our Halloween evening!

Ok, time to announce the winner of the Thunder and Blood Contest!

Grand Prize Winner (signed copy of Thunder and  Blood): Annarkie

Runners Up (signed Thunder and Blood bookmarks):





A. F. Stewart

Winners, please email me with your mailing address at jennsbookshelfATgmailDOTcom.  Your winnings will be sent out by the end of next week.  I will wait 48 hours for a response.  If I do not hear from any of the winners, new ones will be announced.

Thanks to all who entered, and I hope you all had a Happy Halloween!

Harper Teen Relaunches Pitch Black: Books With a Bite!

Harper Teen has recently relaunced their Pitch Black: Books With A Bite Web site, just in time for Halloween!  Find book recommendations based on your “type”:


For you “Lovers” out there, Harper Teen suggests Claudia Grey’s Evernight Series or Ellen Schreiber’s Vampire Kisses series. 

For the Fighters, check out Diana Peterfreund’s Rampant or Kelley Armstrong’s Darkest Power series.

And finally, for you Biters out there, be sure to check out L.J. Smith’s Vampire Diaries series!

And before you leave the site, be sure to check out the revamped Pimp My Coffin section.  You’ll literally get sucked into decorating your very own customized coffin!

So, what are you waiting for!  Head over and check it out now!