Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Night Roads by Kristin Hannah


Title: Night Road
Author: Kristin Hannah
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (March 22, 2011)
ISBN -10: 9780312364427
Pages: 400 pages
Format: audio book



About the Book: (from

For a mother, life comes down to a series of choices.
To hold on…
To let go..
To forget…
To forgive…
Which road will you take?

For eighteen years, Jude Farraday has put her children’s needs above her own, and it shows—her twins, Mia and Zach—are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill moves into their small, close knit community, no one is more welcoming than Jude. Lexi, a former foster child with a dark past, quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable.

Jude does everything to keep her kids safe and on track for college. It has always been easy-- until senior year of high school. Suddenly she is at a loss. Nothing feels safe anymore; every time her kids leave the house, she worries about them.

On a hot summer’s night her worst fears come true. One decision will change the course of their lives. In the blink of an eye, the Farraday family will be torn apart and Lexi will lose everything. In the years that follow, each must face the consequences of that single night and find a way to forget…or the courage to forgive.

NIGHT ROAD is vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, identity, love, and forgiveness. It is a luminous, heartbreaking novel that captures both the exquisite pain of loss and the stunning power of hope. This is Kristin Hannah at her very best, telling an unforgettable story about the longing for family, the resilience of the human heart, and the courage it takes to forgive the people we love.

Related Media:

About the Author: (from author’s page)

Image of "Kristin Hannah"Kristin Hannah was born in September 1960 in Southern California and grew up at the beach, making sand castles and playing in the surf. When she was eight years old, her father drove the family to Western Washington which they called home.

After working in a trendy advertising agency, Kristin decided to go to law school. "But you're going to be a writer" are the prophetic words she would never forget from her mother. Kristin was in her third-and final-year of law school and her mom was in the hospital, facing the end of her long battle with cancer. Kristin was shocked to discover that her mother believed she would become a writer. For the next few months, they collaborated on the worst, most clichéd historical romance ever written.

After her mom's death, she packed up all those bits and pieces of paper they'd collected and put them in a box in the back of her closet. Kristin got married and continued practicing law.

Then Kristin found out she was pregnant and was on bed rest for five months. By the time she'd read every book in the house and started asking her husband for cereal boxes to read, she knew she was a goner. That's when her husband reminded her of the book she'd started with her mom. Kristin pulled out the boxes of research material, dusted them off and began writing. By the time their son was born, she'd finished a first draft and found an obsession.

The rejections came, of course, and they stung for a while, but each one really just spurred her to try harder, work more. In 1990, Kristin got "the call," and in that moment, she went from a young mother with a cooler-than-average hobby to a professional writer, and has never looked back. In all the years between then and now, she have never lost her love of, or her enthusiasm for, telling stories. Kristin feels truly blessed to be a wife, a mother, and a writer.

My Review:  I read a number of reviews of Night Roads by Kristin Hannah on various book blogs and decided I needed to read it as well.  I reserved the audio book from my local library.  Previous to reading Night Roads, I had only read one other book by Kristin Hannah.  We read Firefly Lane in my book group last year. 

I found the characters in Night Roads very well developed.  I had strong feelings about a number of the character and could relate to their emotions, fears and heart break.  Night Roads is an emotional roller coaster of a book, which kept me very engaged in the story. 

Night Roads centers on the Farraday family.  Miles and Jude Farraday along with their twins, Mia and Zach are the all American family.   They seemed to have it all, until a single event changes their lives forever.  Of the twins, Mia is shy and struggled socially until she met Lexi Baill.  Mia and Lexi quickly become inseparable.  Lexi is a very resilient teen, having made her way through the foster care system.   Lexi has now found a family in the Farraday family as well as with her Great Aunt Eva.  Her life is finally going well.  Lexi is a very sweet girl with a immense sense of responsibility.  I just loved the person who Lexi was and tried to continue to be.   

I could really relate to Jude, being a parent myself that is a bit over protective.  I remember the worry caused by my children’s teen years.  Jude is a good mother, but her entire identity is tied up in being a mother.  I do remember when my oldest moved out on his own, I thought, now who am I??  I have always been Josh’s mom!  I don’t want to go too much about my feeling towards Jude as it would give too much of the story away.  Jude shows the reader the depths of a mother’s love and the power of forgiveness.  

I was most profoundly struck by how the events of Night Roads could happen to any of us, even me.  Teens don’t think about how the consequences of one decision could change their entire lives forever as well as the lives of many others.  I was satisfied with the ending of Night Roads, but did want to know what happened to the characters I had begun to care so much about in the years to follow.  

My Rating: 4/5 – I really liked Night Roads by Kristin Hannah. I laughed, cried and worried right along with the characters. I drove around the block one more time to hear just a few more minutes of the book. I snuck my headphone on in the middle of the night when I woke up. Night Roads by Kristin Hannah will especially resonate with parents of teens.

Other Bloggers Reviews:

Book’d Out

The Compulsive Reader

Chick Lit + 

A Novel Source

Happy Reading!


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Book Blogger Hop: 6/18/11

Book Blogger Hop

This week, Crazy For Books asks  “How many books are currently in your To-Be-Read (TBR) Pile?”

Well, the number of books in my house is very few, maybe 20 to 30.  I wanted to free up space in my home a few years ago, so I sold most of my books and donated the rest to a woman’s prison program.  Instead I decided to just keep a list of the books I am interested in reading and buying them as needed or checking them out from the library.   This is must easier on the wallet as well.  And when I do buy a book, I buy it on my kindle so there is still no piles of books to contend with. 

So I keep my TO READ list on Good – whenever I see a book I want to read I simply add it to my every growing TO READ list!   I love that my list is accessible from any computer.  If I need a name of a book…I can access it from my smart phone or the library computer.   Easy enough and no piles of books over taking my house.  Currently I have 320 books in my TO READ list at Good Reads.  I can sort them how I want on the list and I like to use random number generator such as to select a number and read that book.  I always struggle on what should I read next????   Eliminates that problem.  

Happy Reading!!

Jen C

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Review: A Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay

Title:  A Secret Kept
Author: Tatiana de Rosnay
Publisher: St. Martin's Press; Reprint edition (September 14, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0312593317
Pages: 320 pages
Format: Audio & Hard Cover

About the Book: (from This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood. Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer. When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash. Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death. Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children. How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself? Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

Setting: Paris France/Noirmoutier Island

My favorite part of a book review is researching the setting. This was especially enjoyable for A Secret Kept. I did not realize the disappearing road, “ the Passage du Gois” existed.  I loved looking at pictures of Noirmoutier Island, such a beautiful place!


Le Passage de Gois ou Gôa is a natural, periodically flooded passage leading to the island of Noirmoutier in France. It is located between Île de Noirmoutier and Beauvoir-sur-Mer, in the department of Vendée. It is flooded twice a day by the high tide.

Every year, a foot race – the Foulées du Gois– is held across it, starting at the onset of the high tide.

port-noirmoutier Noirmoutier island lies off the coast at Beauvoir-sur-Mer, on the other side of the Passage du Gois. This passage is passable at low tide. In 1971, a bridge was built at Fromantine, so that it is now also possible to reach the island at high water by car. The island has a rich maritime history shown by the ratio between the number of boats on the island of Noirmoutier and compared to occupants.

Related Media:

About the Author:
Tatiana de Rosnay was born on September 28th, 1961 in the suburbs of Paris. She is of English, French and Russian descent. Her father is French scientist Joël de Rosnay, her grandfather was painter Gaëtan de Rosnay. Tatiana's paternal great-grandmother was Russian actress Natalia Rachewskïa, director of the Leningrad Pushkin Theatre from 1925 to 1949.
Tatiana's mother is English, Stella Jebb, daughter of diplomat Gladwyn Jebb, and great-great-granddaughter of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the British engineer. Tatiana is also the niece of historian Hugh Thomas. Tatiana was raised in Paris and then in Boston, when her father taught at MIT in the 70's. She moved to England in the early 80's and obtained a Bachelor's degree in English literature at the University of East Anglia, in Norwich.

Returning to Paris in 1984, Tatiana became press attaché for Christie's and then Paris Editor for Vanity Fair magazine till 1993. Since 1992, Tatiana has published ten novels in France (published at Fayard, Plon and EHO).

Sarah's Key is her first novel written in her mother tongue, English. Sarah's Key is to be published in 30 countries and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Film rights have also been sold and a movie starring Kristin Scott-Thomas has been released.

Tatiana is married and has two children, Louis and Charlotte. She lives in Paris with her family.

My Review:

I had big expectations when beginning to read, A Secret Kept as I simply loved Tatiana de Rosnay’s previous book, Sarah’s Key.   I liked A Secret Kept, but did not find the story as engaging nor the characters as likeable as in Sarah’s Key.  I chose to read this book due to really enjoying Sarah’s Key, which I read for my book group, Books and Babble. 

The main characters consisted of Melanie and Antoine Rey.   Brother and sister left motherless at a young age.  They have a special bound.  Melanie is single with no children.  Antoine is divorced from Astrid with three children:  Arro, Margaux and Lucas. 

Other characters include Clarisse (mother of Melanie and Antoine), Angele (Antoine’s lover) and Astrid (Antoine’s ex-wife).  Antoine as a character sort of bothered me.  I wanted him to just pick the pieces of his life and move on.  I understood his desire to know his mother, but didn’t find the “secret” so shocking.  It certainly was in the time it happened, but not so much when Antoine discovered the secret.   I thought the relationship between Melanie and Antoine was very believable as was Antoine’s relationship with Astrid.   I actually really like Astrid.  Despite the divorce Astrid was doing her best to co-parent and maintain a good relationship with Antoine.   As for Antoine’s relationship with Angele, the mortician, I just didn’t get it.  That relationship in my opinion didn’t add much to the story. 

Themes within Sarah’s Key include:  family secrets and their impact, loss/grief, acceptance and parenting issues.  Overall, the pace of this book seemed a bit slow to me. I listened to the audio of A Secret Kept and I think that helped to keep my attention. I would have skipped over some of the words in the book due to being unsure of them, so the audio added a dimension to the story that I would have missed if I had read A Secret Kept.

My Rating:   3/5 – I liked Secret’s Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay and may have liked it more if not comparing it to Sarah’s Key in my head.  Liked the book, but did not find myself burning the midnight oil to read a few more pages. 

Other Bloggers Reviews:

Jo Jo Loves to Read

Brain Candy Book Reviews

The Fiction Garden

Sacramento Book Review

5 Minute for Books

Reading, Beading ….and more Reading. 

Happy Reading!

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Monday, June 13, 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?–June 13th

It’s Monday! What Are you Reading? is hosted by Shelia of Book Journey. It is a chance to share what you have read and what you plan on reading in the upcoming week. I enjoy seeing what everyone’s reading plans for the week. I always find some titles that I just *had to add to my TBR list.

I had a good reading week.  I was home sick on Monday, so was able to finish two books that day.  It is rare that I am able to get that much reading done in one week.  Now I need to work on getting my reviews completed as I have 5 books awaiting review.  



Finished the Following Books:

  • The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels - Ree Drummond. – 4/5
  • The Cross Gardner – Jason F Wright – 3/5
  • Promise Not to Tell – Jennifer McMahon – 3/5

Currently Listening – Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Currently Reading – Come Sunday by Isla Morley

My Plans for this week:

Going to start Come Sunday by Isla Morley this evening as my random selection from my To Read List on Good . 
Finish listening to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.  I am currently about 1/2 done with this audiobook.

I will start this audiobook once I finish Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.   The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is the monthly selection for my book group, Books and Babble.  


Island of Lost Girls – Jennifer McMahon – next selection from my TBR list on
impossible Impossible - Nancy Werlin
(from Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that she is the latest recipient of a generations-old family curse that requires her to complete three seemingly impossible tasks or risk falling into madness and passing the curse on to the next generation. Unlike her ancestors, though, Lucy has family, friends, and other modern resources to help her out. But will it be enough to conquer this age-old evil?
A beautifully wrought modern fairy tale from master storyteller and award-winning author Nancy Werlin.Inspired by the classic folk ballad "Scarborough Fair," this is a wonderfully riveting and haunting novel of suspense, romance, and fantasy

Those are my reading plans for the week. What are your reading plans???? Join in with Shelia at Book Journey and share what you reading plans are for the week!

Happy Reading!!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?? - June 6th, 2011

It’s Monday! What Are you Reading? is hosted by Shelia of Book Journey.   It is a chance to share what you have read and what you plan on reading in the upcoming week.   I enjoy seeing what everyone’s reading plans for the week.   I always find some titles that I just *have to add to my TBR list.

Last week looked like this for me:
Finished the book: Night Road – Kristin Hannahreally enjoyed this audiobook – slow to start, but very emotional.  -  4/5

Currently Listening  – Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Currently Reading  - The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond.

Blog Posts this week:

Participated in the following blog events:

My Plans for this week:

Finish Reading - The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels by Ree Drummond.
7948230 Finishing Listening to – Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

From Good – Tom Franklin's extraordinary talent has been hailed by the leading lights of contemporary literature—Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Lee Smith, and Dennis Lehane. Reviewers have called his fiction "ingenious" (USA Today) and "compulsively readable" (Memphis Commercial Appeal). His narrative power and flair for character-ization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O'Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far—an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas "32" Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they've buried and ignored for decades.

NEXT UP???  

The Cross Gardner by Jason F. Wright
(Book Group Selection – June 13th) (Audio Format)

Promise Not To Tell  – Jennifer McMahon – next selection from my TBR list on

Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
(Book Group Selection – June 23rd) (audio format)

Island of Lost Girls – Jennifer McMahon – next selection from my TBR list on

Those are my reading plans for the week. What are your reading plans???? Join in with Shelia at Book Journey and share what you reading plans are for the week!

Happy Reading!!

Summer Fun : Keep Your Kids Reading and Learning


It is almost summer time.  The school year is coming to an end in Minnesota.  My youngest son has had another wonderful school year.  We were blessed with another wonderful teacher this year that helped to instill a love of reading in our little guy.  Trust me, this “bookworm mama” is very happy about that. 

He has discovered a love of mythology through Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.  He also discovered that a book *is* better than a movie through J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter Series.     He and the neighborhood boys run around with sticks as wands exclaiming spells to each other.  I might have to sew him a cape yet.  Isn’t it amazing what a book can do for a child’s imagination! 

In our house we have always tried to promote reading and learning over the summer.  With my older kids we would have reading contests even when they were in middle and high school.  I would compete with them and sometimes their friends too.  The prize would be $20 and who ever read the most pages won!  That was a lot of fun and we would post the results on the wall and keep an eye on our competition. 

My hubby and I have always felt it was important to maintain the learning environment over the summer.  Here are some activities or places we have or plan to visit over the summer to continue the learning environment with our family.  Plus having a “bookworm mama”, she loves any excuse to do anything related to reading and learning! 

Summer Activities and Learning:

Guided Tour of St Paul Central Library ( bookworm mama’s pick)

Science Museum – King Tut Exhibit – 3rd grade learned about mummies this year so T is excited about this!

Wild Rumpus Bookstore – Minneapolis

The Landing – Minnesota River Heritage Park, - formerly Murphy’s Landing (part of the Museum Adventure Pass Program)

Geocaching – this is not a place …it is a scavenger hunt you do with a GPS to look for the hidden cache. They are hidden all over.

Chaska Valley Family Theatre –  Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka is the summer 2011 performance.  A family favorite in our house!  July 28th – August 7th, 2011

Wildlife Science Center – Forrest Lake, MN

Gibbs Museum of Pioneer Life – St Paul, MN

The Works – Hand on Engineering Museum – Edina, MN  (part of the Museum Adventure Pass Program)

Make sure you check out the Museum Adventure Pass program at the area libraries.   The Museum Adventure Program invites you to use your library card to check out a pass for up to 2 free admissions to participating destinations.   Participating destinations can be found on the program’s website


Don’t forget to check out your local library for more summer fun!   The following information is regarding the summer reading programs of the Ramsey County Library.   We go to the library once a week as a family and load up of books and movies.  The library is a great resource for summer fun and FREE!!!

Bookawocky: A Celebration of Summer Reading Children's Summer Reading Program


Program Dates:  June 11 - August 21, 2011

Get reading with "Bookawocky," Ramsey County Library's 2011 Summer Reading Program! Designed to inspire and encourage children of all ages to read as much as they want throughout the summer, the Summer Reading Program is a fun way to explore new books all summer long.

To participate:
Ages 4 and under -
Pick up a special reading record at your local library. Color in an item each day you read or have books read to you. After 10 days of reading, bring the record to any Ramsey County Library for a prize!

Ages 5 - 12 - Track the amount of time you spend reading with a reading record from Ramsey County Library. After recording 10 and 20 hours, present your reading record to library staff to receive prizes.
The Summer Reading Program is sponsored by the Friends of the Ramsey County Libraries and Metropolitan Library Service Agency (MELSA), with additional contributions from Minnesota State Fair, Culver's Family Restaurants and Waterpark of America.

Special Events:
Ramsey County Library’s annual summer reading program kick-off will be held on Saturday, June 18th from 10am to 4 pm. 

Refreshments, crafts, entertainment and, of course your summer reading materials will be available a the festival.  Community sponsored activities include the Roseville Fire Department large ladder truck, Culver’s ice Cream, members of the Ramsey County K-9 Unit and Ramsey County Historical Society informational table.  Don’t miss your chance to participate in out first-ever hula-hoop contest for a chance to win a family pack of tickets to the Waterpark of America. 

Many other events are scheduled at your local libraries, ranging from Family Film Night to Wii Gaming for the Under 10 Crowd.   We love the Library!!

Summer Book Clubs
The following book clubs are geared towards students entering 4th and 5th grade.  Find book titles on the library’s website or by calling the hosting library.  Space limited; register early at the library. 

Wednesdays, 2pm
June 15, 22, 29/July 13, 20
RCL – Maplewood 
Registration not required. Bring your own book.
Thursdays. 2 pm
July 7, 14, 21, 28
RCL – White Bear Lake

POSTER_SummerRead2011Summer book clubs also offered at the following libraries:  Shoreview, Mounds View, North St Paul, and Roseville.    Call your library for more details. 

**Summer reading program information from RCL publication: BookaWocky a Celebration of summer reading. 


Great Online Resource:

Book Adventure is a free online program that gives students in grades K-8 even more reasons to discover the joys and rewards of a good book.

Kids can:Book Adventure

  • Create book lists online from more than 7,000 titles
  • Take interactive quizzes
  • Earn points towards prizes


Suggested Third Grade Books and Authors

*provided by Mrs. Norman, Magnuson Christian School – 3rd Grade Teacher

A Cricket in Times Square
On My Honor
Taste of Blackberries
Charlotte’s Web
How to Eat Fried Worms
The Cay
There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom
Freckle Juice
Abel’s Island
The Drinking Gourd
Fantastic Mr. Fox
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
The Indian in the Cupboard
Sign of the Beaver
The Doll People
From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Old Yeller
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
A Wrinkle in Time
Maniac Magee
The Summer of the Swans
Missing May
Walk Two Moons

Authors and Book Series Worth Reading

Kate DiCamillo
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series
Percy Jackson
Tina Nolan
Holly Webb
Geronimo Stilton Series
Guardians of Ga’Houle Series
A Series of Unfortunate Events
Little House on the Prairie
Philip Pullman
Patricia MacLaughlin
The Babysitters Club Series
Just Grace Series
John Coy
Schooling Around Series
Mike Lupica
Harry Potter Series
Carl Hiaasen
Andrew Clements
Gary Paulsen
Beverly Cleary
Rick Riordan
Judy Blume
Chronicles of Narnia Series
Roald Dahl
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Ann Martin
Matt Christopher

Worthwhile Websites


Summer is a wonderful time for family fun, learning and adventure.  I hope you find the time to make memories together as a family this summer.  Children learn by example, so pick up a book and sit outside on a lovely summer day and enjoy a book together!!  Summer seem to go by so quickly, so make your plans early!  


Friday, June 3, 2011

Library Loot: June 4th, 2011

The Adventures of a Intrepid Reader and Claire from The Captive Reader. This weekly event encourages bloggers to share the books they have checked out from the library. I always find many new books to add to my reserve list!

If you’d like to participate, just write up your post and link up. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

Library Loot: June 1 - 8th


This last week I finished the following books:

Night Road – Kristin Hannah – 4/5

Started off shaky for me….but ended up really liking the book!    Stay tune for a review in the next week or two.

My Library Loot for this week:


From  - Forty-one-year-old school nurse Kate Cypher has returned home to rural Vermont to care for her mother who's afflicted with Alzheimer's. On the night she arrives, a young girl is murdered—a horrific crime that eerily mirrors another from Kate's childhood. Three decades earlier, her dirt-poor friend Del—shunned and derided by classmates as "Potato Girl"—was brutally slain. Del's killer was never found, while the victim has since achieved immortality in local legends and ghost stories. Now, as this new murder investigation draws Kate irresistibly in, her past and present collide in terrifying, unexpected ways. Because nothing is quite what it seems . . . and the grim specters of her youth are far from forgotten.

More than just a murder mystery, Jennifer McMahon's extraordinary debut novel, Promise Not to Tell, is a story of friendship and family, devotion and betrayal—tautly written, deeply insightful, beautifully evocative, and utterly unforgettable.


My favorite place to visit each Saturday….Our local Library! 

I hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful weekend.   Summer may have arrived in Minnesota!!   Whew…what a week.   Even being a short week, this week has felt long.   June!   How can it possibly be June already??  It is nearing the end of the school year and life is very busy!   We seem to have something almost every night or I am working late.   I am looking forward to the carefree days of summer.   Not that they are that carefree anymore, but there will be a reprieve from school and church commitments.   We had our first outdoor movie on Friday night, a sure sign that Summer is here!!

My youngest son was in his first Drama Club production this week.   It was amazing.  What a fun school he attends.   June promises to be busy with Zoo Trip, Wipe Out Party, Murder Mystery Night with friends and the return of Outdoor Movies in the backyard.  It must finally be summer!!!!

Happy Reading!

My Rating Scale:  1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Review: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet–Jamie Ford

Title: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Author: Jamie Ford
Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 6, 2009)
ISBN-10:  0345505344
Pages: 301 pages
Format: Audio Book
Setting: Takes place in the 1940’s and 80’s

About the Book: (from - In the opening pages of Jamie Ford's stunning debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol.
     This simple act takes old Henry Lee back to the 1940s, at the height of the war, when young Henry's world is a jumble of confusion and excitement, and to his father, who is obsessed with the war in China and having Henry grow up American. While "scholarshipping" at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship - and innocent love - that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. And after Keiko and her family are swept up in the evacuations to the internment camps, she and Henry are left only with the hope that the war will end, and that their promise to each other will be kept.
     Forty years later, Henry Lee is certain that the parasol belonged to Keiko. In the hotel's dark dusty basement he begins looking for signs of the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot begin to measure. Now a widower, Henry is still trying to find his voice - words that might explain the actions of his nationalistic father; words that might bridge the gap between him and his modern, Chinese American son; words that might help him confront the choices he made many years ago.
     Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope. In Henry and Keiko, Jamie Ford has created an unforgettable duo whose story teaches us of the power of forgiveness and the human heart.

Setting:  1940 in Seattle – Panama Hotel and Camp Harmony

images_earlyhotel 800px-Seattle_-_Panama_and_NP_Hotels
1940’s – Panama Hotel Panama Hotel – Today

Camp Harmony was the unofficial name of the Puyallup Assembly Center, a temporary facility within the system of internment camps set up for Japanese Americans during World War II. Approximately 7,390 Americans of Japanese descent in Washington state were sent to the camp before being sent to the Minidoka relocation center near Twin Falls, Idaho.



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About the Author: Jamie Ford is the New York Times bestselling author of HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, which was an IndieBound Next List selection, and a Borders Original Voices pick.

Jamie is the great grandson of Nevada mining pioneer Min Chung, who emigrated from Kaiping, China, to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name "Ford," thus confusing countless generations. An award-winning short-story writer, Ford is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers and a survivor of Orson Scott Card's Literary Boot Camp. Having grown up near Seattle's Chinatown, he now lives in Montana (where he's on a never-ending quest to find decent dim sum).

My Review: I  read this book for my book group: Wine, Women and Words.  Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict we had to cancel group, but we hope to discuss this book in June along with our next book. 

The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet went along at good pace and kept my interest.  I enjoy historical fiction and like to research the events during that time in history.  I felt the portrayal of the Japanese families evacuation to the internment camps was realistic.  Ford did a good job of portraying the emotions and fear of the Japanese families.  Many things in The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet made me sad, the evacuations to the camps, Henry’s relationship with his father and the button that said “I am Chinese”.   I had an emotional reaction to the button.  How could one little button make the difference in identifying a child a friend or enemy of America. 

I loved the character of Keiko, her kind heart and spirit.  Despite that Keiko was an American born person of Japanese heritage she and her family were treat as enemies of America.  That was very hard to understand.   In my research I came to the conclusion that the treatment of the Japanese in the camps were a lot worse than described in this book.  To me the young Henry from 1942 seemed very mature. I am not sure if that was oversight by the author or if in that time and circumstances the Chinese and Japanese child had no choice but to be very mature due to the things happening in their lives.  At times, I admired Henry Lee and his dedication to Keiko and his wife, Ethel, other times I just wished he would go find Keiko already.  How could he have waited so long??  

Themes in The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.include: male relationships and their difficulty, fear, prejudice, lasting  friendship and the dedication to one’s wife. 

In honesty, I must say I enjoyed The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but thought I would devour it in no time after all the rave reviews I had read about it.  I did not find this to be the case.   I was not satisfied with the ending of The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  I was not ready for Henry’s journey to end without more detail.  I was left wanting more. 

My Rating: 3/ 5 – Good read – I would recommend to others.  I was able to put The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet down each night to fall asleep. 

Other Bloggers Reviews:

The Book Lady’s Blog

The Literate Housewife Review

Hey Lady! Whatcha Reading??

Bookworm’s Dinner


Happy Reading!

My Rating Scale: 1 – didn’t like it; 2 – it was ok; 3 – liked it; 4 – really liked it; 5 – it was amazing