Category Archives: The Sunday Salon

TSS: Murder, Monsters & Mayhem Week 1 Wrap-Up

Brrr! The week has come and gone, Mother Nature leaving us with brisk Fall weather. I shouldn’t complain; it feels nice to have the windows open with a cool breeze blowing coming in!

This is the perfect weather for the first week of Murder, Monsters & Mayhem.   There’s nothing like curling up with with a scary book on a dark Fall evening!

Following are the first few posts of Murder, Monsters & Mayhem! Remember, if you posted a horror or thriller review recently (it doesn’t have to have been in the last week!) link it up here!  I love seeing all the dark and twisty books everyone is reading!

TSS: Week in Review: September 14, 2014

Fall is here! experiencing some pretty hot & humid weather, the past few days we’ve been gifted with cool, breezy weather. I kind of love it!

I love Fall for many reasons: changing color of leaves, cooler weather, wearing scarves and sweaters.  One of my favorite things, however, is the start of fall television series. The return of my favorite series, the start of new. I’m giddy with anticipation.  What are your favorite fall series?



Topping my favorite thing about Fall, however, is Halloween.  The one time of year I can celebrate all thing spooktacular!  I will once again be hosting Murder, Monsters, & Mayhem.  I encourage you to sign up as well!

What are your favorite things about Fall?


In case you missed it, here’s what took place on the blog recently:

TSS: A Week in Review

Yet another wonderfully relaxing summer week.  Teen son was off at Scout camp so we were down to just one child this week. We go through this every summer, yet somehow I forget how demanding of time our youngest is when his older brother is away. We spent the evenings reading and watching movies so it was actually a really fun experience. It’s interesting to see how his personality changes when his older brother is not around!

Yesterday, we spend most of the day working on redoing/clearing out our home office.  We had file cabinets that were not being used that were blocking a huge bay window. Much to my husband’s dismay, I pulled those out and made myself a new reading area.  I’m sitting there now, drinking a coffee, the morning sunlight streaming in. It is quite enjoyable.

The most exciting part of all this was the shelf that my youngest son & I repainted. Shelf space is a premium in our house.  I wanted something small, with purpose, that I could use to hold my review copies.   When I found a rotating (yes, it spins!) bookshelf for $20 at yard sale, I knew it had to be mine:


10353510_701698116545960_7691865460006382422_oSo, it’s not the prettiest thing I’ve seen but it fit the purpose.  So I sanded it down, painted it in my favorite color, and voila, a beautiful shelf:


BsX_lBUIQAEKxS0Needless to say, this is where I’ll be spending a lot of time, curled up in my reading chair (if I can get the cat to move) with a book!  Most importantly, the new reading space opened up some space the boys have taken over as their own reading nook. They lined up pillows on the floor and have created a really comfortable place for them to read or work on homework.

Here on the blog, I had a pretty excellent few weeks as well. Here’s a quick recap:

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m going to lose myself in a book once more…have a wonderfully bookish week!

TSS: A Week in Review (June 8)

This post is going live far later than I had anticipated! I guess that’s what happens when you forget to hit “publish!”  Oh well, it gives me a chance to add a few things!

My ankle is slowly healing from my pre-BEA injury. I’m wearing fairly normal shoes, though it’s still quite swollen.  It’s forced me to take things at a slower pace, certainly not something I’m used to!

My brain is also slowly returning back to normal after losing all the BEA brain fog!  I’m finally getting back into a regular reading grove again which is always nice.

In case you missed it, here are the books I reviewed this week:

I spent a lot of time outdoors this weekend creating a patio garden.  When the weather cooperates, I spend as much time out on the patio as I can and this patio garden adds a much needed punch of color!

The most exciting part of the weekend, however, was meeting Piper Kerman (the author of Orange is the New Black and the inspiration for the hit Netflix series).




By far, it was one of the best author events I have ever attended (and I’ve attended quite a few.)  Here are a few nuggets of information I took away from her talk:


  • the increased percentage of people (and women in particular) in prison is staggering.  So many are serving life terms for non-violent crimes, terms that Kerman believes (as do I!) that these terms could be served elsewhere.
  • In most federal prisons, inmates with mental illnesses are not seeking adequate treatment for their illnesses. Rather than receiving psychiatric treatment for their conditions (therapy, etc) they are instead treated soley with medication. In many cases, the circumstances and setting make their conditions worse, rather than better.
  • Piper has now devoted her life to helping women in prisons. She is involved on the Board of the Women’s Prison Association, “the nation’s oldest service and advocacy organization committed to helping women with criminal justice histories see new possibilities for themselves and their families.”
  • While in prison, she did a substantial amount of reading, much like the fictionalized Piper. Some prisons have libraries, but many, like the one she served her sentence in, do not. The inmates receive books from family members and then pass them around to others in a communal library system.  Desperate to clear out some books from your house? Dozens of programs exist that collect reading material for inmates. Just google it.
  • On a lighter note, while she does state that the Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, deviates from what actually happened during her 15 month stint in prison, she admits that adding a bit of fiction is necessary to creating an engaging television series. She does get a say in what happens on the series and often makes appearances on the set.

Now, after the event I did have to wait in line for 90 minutes to get my book signed but it was more than worth it. Since I majored in Criminal Justice, I know all about the inequalities and issues our country’s prison system faces. This event certainly reminded me of what made me passionate about this field years ago, revitalizing something in me that has been dormant for some time.

So, there was my reading week. How was yours? What were your favorite books read? Attend any outstanding author events?



TSS: A Month in Review: May 2014

Books Reviewed

Total books reviewed: 10

Picks of the month: The Secret Life of Violet Grant, The Three, and The Book of You

Miscellaneous Posts:

Looking for something to read in June? I list my favorite upcoming releases:


I spent most of last week in Book Expo America. I had a really excellent time, meeting some of my favorite authors and reuniting with great friends.  I came back home with so much, including a sprained ankle. I didn’t let that stop me from having a wonderful time. Stay tuned…I’ll do a wrap-up once the BEA-fog fades!

How was your reading month? What were your favorite reads?


TSS: A Week in Review

The boys were on Spring Break this week so we used it as an excuse to take the week off and head the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. We stayed in a 100 year old cabin for five days and, I must say, the time away from busy city life was grand!  The cabin was about 20 minutes from the closest “town.” so if we had to go anywhere, we really had to plan for it.

We had time to read, play games, but we also did some touristy stuff. We visited the Virginia Cultural Museum where the boys got to watch sheep being sheared and got to walk through depictions of centuries old Irish and German villages. It was here that we discovered the abandoned sanitarium/prison. IMG_2389 IMG_2390

No, we didn’t attempt to go in but I was certainly tempted.

Yesterday, as we’ve done for the past several years we took a day trip to Old Town Alexandria where we visited some cute shops, including our favorite children’s bookstore, Hooray for Books. We then took the water taxi over to National Harbor and visited the Peeps store. Yes, it’s a thing.


Finally, we wrapped up the day with a visit to One More Page Books, our favorite independent bookstore. Between the two stores, we had a great book haul by the end of the day:


Today, we’ll spend the day at home with our traditional Easter dinner of ham and scalloped potatoes. I can’t say I’m ready for vacation to end!


Although I was out of town, following are the reviews that posted this week:

Happy Easter, everyone!

TSS: Anniversary Special: Pros & Cons of Blogging

  Yesterday, Jenn’s Bookshelves turned six years old! I must say, it’s been a wonderful six years. As I was contemplating how (or if) I was going to celebrate this year, I reflected back on some of the more interesting things I’ve experienced as a blogger.  A few years ago, I shared some advice that I’ve learned and discovered over the years, a post called Things I Wish I Knew as a New Blogger.

This post has certainly gone through several revisions. First I focused on the more negative experiences I’ve had as a blogger. Then I tried to soften it up a bit and found myself reminiscing on the fun things I’ve experienced since I started this blog.  The end result: I’ve combined the best of both worlds in this Pros & Cons of Blogging post!  I tend to ramble so I’m going to do my very best to keep this short! Cons:

  • Entitlement. It’s such an ugly word, in my opinion. We, as people, as bloggers, are entitled to nothing. Truly. As I say over and over again, having your name on an area of the interwebz entitles you to nothing. I don’t care if you have 5 or 50 or 500 or 5,000 followers. Making a scene because you didn’t receive a particular ARC or access to a particular author doesn’t make you look important, it makes you look like an idiot.  I’ve seen it online and in person and it’s embarrassing and insulting to see bloggers behave this way.
  • Hoarding/bragging:  I always say you aren’t obligated to review every ARC you receive. True statement. That said,  you should probably review at least some of the copies you receive. After any major book conference, dozens of posts or videos will pop up, bragging about the books they snagged. How many of those are actually reviewed? The books are there they can get promo prior to publication. Not to serve as a bragging point. Not sell them on ebay. Or, you know, if you’re not actually a blogger anymore, maybe you should stop asking for review titles entirely?
  • Bullying: Bullying is not accepted from children, so why do people find this acceptable as adults!? Don’t gang up on someone because they didn’t like a book you loved.  Or conversely, if you didn’t like a book, fine. State your opinion, but not brutally. Book bashing is simply an attention-getter. There are more professional means of displaying your opinion.

And now, the lighter side of blogging, the perks of blogging!

  • Friendships-some of the friendships I’ve formed over the past six years are some of the strongest I’ve had my entire life. We all have a connection, a love of books. A need to tell others about them.
  • Community- Side-by-side with friendships, the community of book reviewers and bloggers is an amazing one. We’re supportive of one another, providing advice and support when needed.
  • Opportunity: the connections formed during this six years of blogging have provided me with endless opportunities, including opportunities to provide books to the less fortunate, introduce children to some really phenomenal books and authors, as well as opportunities to write for various publications.

Notice I didn’t mention access to review copies at all? While this is a benefit of blogging, it is most certainly outweighed by the benefits I have mentioned above.

So there you have it. My pros/cons of blogging, based on my six years of experience. What are yours?  Are there benefits I didn’t mention, or pet-peeves I’ve overlooked?

TSS: Week in Review

Another week has come to an end. We’ve been teased with spring weather this week but the cold temps and snow are just around the corner again. As usual, the boys are keeping us active with all their activities: skiing trips, school concerts, basketball, & birthday parties. I really am glad they are so active!

Since our oldest was off with his scout troop skiing this weekend, i assumed I would have more time to read. Not so much. Instead, since our youngest had no one to bother or annoy, he decided to spend ALL his time with me. I know, I know, it’s time spent together that I will miss as he gets older.  So, while I didn’t get to do as much reading as I would have liked to yesterday, there’s still today, right?

Although I didn’t get a lot of reading in this week, I did have the opportunity to really outstanding historical fiction as well as look ahead to books I can’t wait to read:

How was your reading week?

TSS: A Week in Review


I’m baaack!! My insane travel season is over and I’m finally getting back in to my reading groove!  It’s definitely a gradual thing; I have discovered that since I haven’t had a lot of time to read, I’ve definitely become a pickier reader. So many books have been started, only to be put down, some temporarily and some permanently.  I simply don’t want to waste my precious reading time on a less than stellar book!

This week I featured some of those outstanding reads. You may sense a theme with a few of them. All in all, great books perfect to curl up with on a cold winter’s day. A few are dark and chilling while others are warm and uplifting. Outstanding reads, all of them:

How was your reading week? Any books that stood out above others?

TSS: A Week in Review

Here’s to a new year full of fresh new starts and new beginnings!  While I enjoyed all the time off, the busy travel season for work has started for me.  While airplane time means more reading time, it’s quite exhausting by the time it’s all over!  So, bear with me if things slow down  and my posts aren’t as frequent. By the beginning  of February, though, things will be calm again…well at least for a little while.

In case you missed it, here’s what happened on the blog last week:

Review: Return to Tradd Street by Karen White
A Year in Review: 2013
Review: Starter House by Sonja Condit
Review: The Descent by Alma Katsu

So, how has the start of the new year gone for you? Read anything you’ve loved?