Monday, December 17, 2012

From Our Family to Yours……………..


Merry Christmas!!!

Jen C and Family

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy Holidays!!!

Wondering where I have disappeared to??   The holiday season is so busy and I have not been reading at all.  Can you believe that??    My family is participating in Lil Light O’Mine’s campaign to Light Em Up!   We are lighting up our community with Random Acts of Kindness.   So I will return in the New Year rested and reading again!

If you would like to see what we have been up to stop by our family blog, Jen’s World.  

Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? October 15th Edition


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.

Accomplishments/Reviews Since Last Posting:

Rules of Civility – Amor Towles   (My Review)

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society – Ann Hill Hearth (My Review)

The Secret Keeper – Kate Morton  (My Review)

Wringer – Jerry Spinelli  (Tommy’s Review)  - Reading in White Bear Lake is very excited to introduce our newest book reviewer, Tommy. Tommy is the youngest son of Jen C. Tommy is a 5th grader, who loves reading, soccer and hanging out with friends. His favorite series are the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books. Look for more reviews from Tommy in the future. Leave a comment to encourage our young reviewer!! He would love to hear your feedback. – I have finally found time to sit down and start using the website  Wow, I wish I would have taken the time earlier when a friend mentioned the site to me.  I love it!!  NetGalley is a service to promote and publicize forthcoming titles to readers of influence. If you are a reviewer, blogger, journalist, librarian, bookseller, educator, or in the media, you can use NetGalley for FREE to request and read titles before they are published.  I have been reading a number of wonderful book from this site!  I have discovered some new favorite authors as well.  If you are a professional reader, you are really missing out if you haven’t checked out NetGalley.   All you need is a electronic reader such as a kindle and you are on your way to discovering some amazing new books!

Our Reading Plans for This Week:

Finish Reading: (Jen C)

Goodnight, Beautiful by Dorothy Koomson  (Book Club Read)

Eight years ago, Nova Kumalisi agreed to have a baby for Mal and Stephanie Wacken. Halfway through the pregnancy, the couple changed their minds and walked away, leaving Nova pregnant, scared and alone.

Eight years ago, Stephanie was overjoyed at the thought of becoming a mother - until she found a text from Mal to Nova saying, "Goodnight, beautiful". Terrified of losing her husband to his closest friend, Stephanie asked him to cut all ties to Nova and their unborn child.

Now, Nova is anxiously waiting for her son, Leo, to wake up from a coma, while childless Stephanie is desperately trying to save her failing marriage. Although they live separate lives, both women have secrets that will bind them together for ever

Tommy – is reading

The Mark of Athena – by Rick Riordan  (Tommy’s Current Read)

In The Son of Neptune, Percy, Hazel, and Frank met in Camp Jupiter, the Roman equivalent of Camp Halfblood, and traveled to the land beyond the gods to complete a dangerous quest. The third book in the Heroes of Olympus series will unite them with Jason, Piper, and Leo. But they number only six--who will complete the Prophecy of Seven?

The Greek and Roman demigods will have to cooperate in order to defeat the giants released by the Earth Mother, Gaea. Then they will have to sail together to the ancient land to find the Doors of Death. What exactly are the Doors of Death? Much of the prophecy remains a mystery. . . .

With old friends and new friends joining forces, a marvelous ship, fearsome foes, and an exotic setting, The Mark of Athena promises to be another unforgettable adventure by master storyteller Rick Riordan.


Listening To: (Jen C)

Casual Vacancy – J.K. Rowling (

When Barry Fairbrother dies unexpectedly in his early forties, the little town of Pagford is left in shock. Pagford is, seemingly, an English idyll, with a cobbled market square and an ancient abbey, but what lies behind the pretty façade is a town at war. Rich at war with poor, teenagers at war with their parents, wives at war with their husbands, teachers at war with their pupils…. Pagford is not what it first seems. And the empty seat left by Barry on the town’s council soon becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen. Who will triumph in an election fraught with passion, duplicity and unexpected revelations? Blackly comic, thought-provoking and constantly surprising, The Casual Vacancy is J.K. Rowling’s first novel for adults.

Next Up ??

7331435 A Visit From The Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan (

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

Frozen  – Mary Casanova (Netgalley)

Sixteen-year-old Sadie Rose hasn't said a word in eleven years-ever since the day she was found lying in a snowbank during a howling storm. Like her voice, her memories of her mother and what happened that night were frozen.

Set during the roaring 1920s in the beautiful, wild area on Rainy Lake where Minnesota meets Canada, Frozen tells the remarkable story of Sadie Rose, whose mother died under strange circumstances the same night that Sadie Rose was found, unable to speak, in a snowbank. Sadie Rose doesn't know her last name and has only fleeting memories of her mother-and the conflicting knowledge that her mother had worked in a brothel. Taken in as a foster child by a corrupt senator, Sadie Rose spends every summer along the shores of Rainy Lake, where her silence is both a prison and a sanctuary.

One day, Sadie Rose stumbles on a half dozen faded, scandalous photographs-pictures, she realizes, of her mother. They release a flood of puzzling memories, and these wisps of the past send her at last into the heart of her own life's great mystery: who was her mother, and how did she die? Why did her mother work in a brothel-did she have a choice? What really happened that night when a five-year-old girl was found shivering in a snowbank, her voice and identity abruptly shattered?

Sadie Rose's search for her personal truth is laid against a swirling historical drama-a time of prohibition and women winning the right to vote, political corruption, and a fevered fight over the area's wilderness between a charismatic, unyielding, powerful industrialist and a quiet man battling to save the wide, wild forests and waters of northernmost Minnesota. Frozen is a suspenseful, moving testimonial to the haves and the have-nots, to the power of family and memory, and to the extraordinary strength of a young woman who has lost her voice in nearly every way-but is utterly determined to find it again.

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

Happy Reading!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Book Review: Wringer by Jerry Spinelli


Title: Wringer

Author: Jerry Spinelli (Author Website)

Publisher: HarperTeen (September 7, 2004)

ISBN 10: 0060592826

Pages: 256 pages

Age Level: 8 and up

About the Book:

Not all birthdays are welcome. In Palmer's home town of Waymer, a boy's tenth birthday is more than just another birthday -- it is considered to be the biggest and most honorable day of his life. When a boy turns ten he has finally earned his place as a wringer at the town's annual Pigeon Day. On this day 5,000 pigeons are released into the sky only to be shot down by the town's men. It is the job of wringers to retrieve dead birds from the field and to wring the wounded birds' necks.

Although all proceeds from Pigeon Day go to pay for the town's park maintenance and he is assured that wringers "humanely" put the dying pigeons to death, Palmer cannot shake the dreadful feeling that he does not want to be a wringer. Unfortunately, '"this not wanting to be a wringer" conflicts directly with the expectations of his clique of friends -- for them, being a wringer is the highest honor, an honor only a wimp would refuse. Not to be a wringer would mean going against his friends, his family, and the town and risking ostracism.

Palmer's life becomes further complicated when he befriends Nipper, a pigeon who likes to roost in his closet and sit atop his head. Now Palmer has a very important reason to strike out against his friends and the town's traditional Pigeon Day. In this gripping and thought-provoking novel, Spinelli tells of one boy's courage to overcome peer pressure and unquestioned tradition -- to stand up for what he believes.


About the Author

Jerry Spinelli is the author of the 1991 Newbery Medal-winning book Maniac Magee. His novels are regularly praised for their humor, poignancy, and realistic characters -- many of whom are drawn from his real-life experience as a father of six children. Jerry lives with his wife, Eileen, who is also a writer, in West Chester, Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Gettysburg College.

Meet Tommy!!!
  Our Newest Review at Reading in White Bear Lake!


Reading in White Bear Lake is very excited to introduce our newest book reviewer, Tommy. Tommy is the youngest son of Jen C. Tommy is a 5th grader, who loves reading, soccer and hanging out with friends. His favorite series are the Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books. Look for more reviews from Tommy in the future. 

Interview with Tommy about Wringer by Jerry Spinelli:

Jen C : Why did you decide to read Wringer?

Tommy:  Because it looked like a real scary book and I wanted a scare.

Jen C :Who was you favorite character in Wringer?  Why?

Tommy:  Beans – also known as Author Dodds – he was really funny.   He was very obnoxious and disgusting in a really funny way. 

Jen C: What is a wringer? 

Tommy:   A Wringer is someone who on Pigeons Day , when they are shooting pigeon out of the sky, grabs the the pigeons by the neck and twists to kill them. 

Jen C :How would you feel about being a wringer at age 10

Tommy:  I would not want to do it because I wouldn’t want to kill the pigeons.  I like the pigeons.

Jen C :Why does Palmer not want to be wringer?

Tommy:  The same reason as me basically, He just doesn’t want to kill the pigeons because he wants to have them as pets and play with them. 

Jen C : What is the treatment?

Tommy:  The treatment is when on your birthday, a kid named, Farquar punches you really hard on the arm on your birthday.

Jen C :  Your birthday is coming up, do you want the treatment?

Tommy:  No

Jen C :What was you favorite part of the book?

Tommy:  When Palmer first allowed Nipper (pigeon) into his house.

Jen C : What emotions did you feel while reading Wringer?

Tommy:  Sad because Beans, Mutto and Henry wanted to take Palmer's pigeon and wring his neck. 

Jen C :  Are there any life lessons that can be taken from this story?

Tommy:  Do not be a bully.  Stand up for what you believe.

Jen C :  Did you liked the ending of the story?

Tommy:  Yes – it kinds of left you hanging and I am wondering if there will be a second book to the series.

Jen C :Would you recommend this book to a friend?  Why should they read this book?

Tommy:  Yes – because it is really funny, adventurous, sad and emotional.  

Tommy's Rating: 4 – I really liked it!

Happy Reading!!!


** Leave a comment to encourage our young reviewer!!  He would love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Book Review: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton


Title:  The Secret Keeper

Author: Kate Morton (author website)

Publisher: Atria Books (October 16, 2012)

ISBN 10: 1439152802

Pages: 496 pages

Format: Advance Copy provided by the publisher via

About the Book:  (from publisher)

The new novel from the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of The Distant Hours is a spellbinding mix of mystery, thievery, murder, and enduring love.

During a party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the road and sees her mother speak to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy.

Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to the family farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by questions she has not thought about for decades. From pre-WWII England through the Blitz, to the fifties and beyond, discover the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths people go to fulfill them, and the consequences they can have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers, and schemers told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Setting:  England – 2011, 1961 and 1940



About the Author:

Kate Morton was born in Berri, South Australia. Morton is the eldest of three sisters. Her family moved several times before settling on Tamborine Mountain where she attended a small country school. She enjoyed reading books from an early age, her favorites being those by Enid Blyton.

She studied Speech a Drama at Trinity College London. Later she earned  first – class honors for her English Literature degree at the University of Queensland, during which time she wrote two full-length manuscripts (which are unpublished) before writing the story that would become the 2006 novel The House at Riverton.

Following this she obtained a scholarship and completed a Master's degree focusing on tragedy in Victorian literature. She is currently enrolled in a PhD program researching contemporary novels that marry elements of gothic and mystery fiction.

Kate Morton is married to Davin, a jazz musician and composer, and they have two sons; they live in the Brisbane suburb of Paddington.  (


Related Media:  Kate Morton talks about her new novel, The Secret Keeper.

My Review:     The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton starts out with Laurel as a child in 1961 witnessing a tragic event.  Then the story flashes to present day, Laurel is a successful actress that returns home and starts to piece together the secret history that led to of this tragic event.  She begins to piece together the tale of three individuals,  Jimmy, Dotty and Vivien  and the events that intertwined their lives together during the London Blitz in the 1940’s.   I like that the past portion of this book was based during the time of the London Blitz.  I have read many other books set in this time so it really came alive for me. It is an interesting time in history when lives change very quickly for people. 

To be truthful, I generally find that the use of flashbacks as a writing technique takes away from the flow of the story.  That is not the case with The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton.  The flashbacks are expertly executed and add so much to the telling of the story of Jimmy, Dotty and Vivien.  Their story is slowly revealed to the reader in bits and pieces, which adds to the suspense and mystery of the story.   Morton develops complex characters that evoke emotions from the reader.   You truly get a great feel of who Laurel was as a child as well as an adult.  Jimmy was definitely my favorite character.  I think I might have fallen a bit in love with Jimmy.   I just loved him!   And if I ever wanted to smack a character, that would have to have been Dotty. 

So that I don’t give away any of the secrets, I will say the 2nd half of the book really got me hooked.  I was so absorbed in the story that I read the last half of the book in one evening.  There was no way I was going to go to bed without knowing the ending to this story!  And let me tell you this, the ending does not disappoint!   I loved the ending!   You will just have to read The Secret Keeper to experience the slow reveal of the secret history of the characters.   Secret Keeper will be released on October 16th .  If you are looking for a good read……The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton is just that. 

My Rating: 4+  –  I really like this book!   The Secret Keeper is the first book by Kate Morton I have read and it will not be the last!!!  Just writing this review has me so excited to get my hands on another book by Kate Morton.  I know one is in my very near future.  The Secret Keeper did not grab me initially, but keep with it, I promise you will not be able to put it down in the 2nd half!  Kate Morton is a masterful story teller.  Oh, and I did lose quite a few hours of sleep over this book and read it in all the most inappropriate times and places….that is a sign of a truly good book in my world! 

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

Other Bloggers Reviews :

Red Headed Book Child

So Many Books, So Little Time

Ageless Pages Reviews

Under a Gray Sky


Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Advance copy of The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Book Review: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth

13547429 Title: Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society

Author: Amy Hill Hearth (
author website)

: Atria Books; Original edition (October 2, 2012)

ISBN 10: 1451675232

Pages: 272 pages

Format Read: NetGalley provided by the publisher

About the Book: (from

A brilliant debut novel from a New York Times bestselling author about a transplanted wife from Boston who arrives in Florida in the 1960s, starts a literary salon, and shakes up the status quo.

In 1962, Jackie Hart moved to Naples, Florida, from Boston with her husband and children. Wanting something personally fulfilling to do with her time, she starts a reading club and anonymously hosts a radio show, calling herself Miss Dreamsville. 

The racially segregated town falls in love with Miss Dreamsville, but doesn’t know what to make of Jackie, who welcomes everyone into her book club, including a woman who did prison time for allegedly killing her husband, a man of questionable sexual preference, a young divorcee, as well as a black woman.

Setting: Florida, 1962

hearth About the Author: Amy Hill Hearth (pronounced "HARTH") is a New York Times bestselling author and Peabody Award-winning writer who specializes in stories about the lives of women. She is the author or co-author of seven nonfiction books, including the oral history HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANY SISTERS' FIRST 100 YEARS, a New York Times bestseller for 113 weeks which was adapted to the Broadway stage and an award-winning television film. Amy Hill Hearth attended the University of Tampa, graduating with a BA in creative writing in 1982. She worked as a reporting in the 1980s in Florida. She met her future husband, Blair, who was raised in Collier County, while reporting in Florida.

Her first novel, Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society, is inspired by her mother-in-law, Jacqueline B Heart, who did create a radio show called Miss Dreamsville in Naples, Florida. This novel is set in Florida, 1962. Amy Hill Hearth moved to South Carolina in 1965 as a six year old child. This contributed to her understanding of the Deep South during that era.

My favorite tidbit about Amy Hill Hearth is that she and a childhood friend rescued turtles trying to cross the road as children. Amy still rescues turtles today, where ever she is.

Related Media: Amy Hill Hearth Reads from her book, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society

My Review:   Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a novel which touches on issues such as racism, homophobia and feminism in a heart warming and humorous way.   Though these issues are heavy this story is entertaining and evokes real emotions about the various characters.  Jackie a housewife from Boston and her family move to the Deep South in the racial charged 1960s.   Jackie starts this controversial Literary Society when moving to Collier County.  This novel is narrated by Dora, one of the lovable misfits that make up the Literary Society.    Each member of the Literary Society bring something different to the table during a time in history when different was not a valued attribute.

The members of the Literary Society are colorful and lovable.  I can’t even chose a favorite character as I loved them all.  I especially would love to see a movie made of this book just so I can see Dolores, the alligator hunter.  My image of her in my mind is pretty entertaining!!  The Literary Society is a group of people who are different, but develop a real friendship despite their differences.  Change is possible when people look beyond their difference and find their common ground.  For this group one common ground discovered was reading/books.    Jackie, the Literary Society originator had good intentions and wanted to change the injustices she saw in her new home, Naples. She didn’t always approach the issues in the best manner and was not always successful, but her intentions were good.

After this group has an incident with the Ku Klux Klan, it looks like all was for naught.   Can things really change??  But everything turns around for the group and the ending is very satisfying.  The group leaves a lasting impression on Naples, Florida.  I loved the ending!
Miss Dreamsville and The Collier County Women’s Literary Society is a debut novel by Amy Hill Hearth and will be available for purchase on October 2, 2012.  If you enjoyed The Help by Kathryn Stockett, you will love Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society.  The characters really make the story!!

My Rating: 4 – I really liked Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society – The story flowed well and the characters were wonderful!   I still smile thinking of the image in my head of each character.  A wonderful debut novel that kept me up a few nights later than a girl who needs to get to work on time should stay up!

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

Other  Bloggers Reviews:

A Chick Who Reads
Silver’s Reviews
The Book Garden
Mysteries Etc

Happy Reading!

**Disclosure – Advance copy received from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Book Review: Rules of Civility–Amor Towles


Title:  Rules of Civility

Author: Amor Towles (author website)

Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (June 26, 2012)

ISBN 10: 0143121162

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Audio Book – Borrowed from Library

Reading Guide

About the Book:  (from Good

On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar with her boardinghouse roommate stretching three dollars as far as it will go when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker with royal blue eyes and a tempered smile, happens to sit at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a yearlong journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool toward the upper echelons of New York society and the executive suites of Condé Nast--rarefied environs where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve.

Wooed in turn by a shy, principled multi-millionaire and an irrepressible Upper East Side ne'er-do-well, befriended by a single-minded widow who is a ahead of her time,and challenged by an imperious mentor, Katey experiences firsthand the poise secured by wealth and station and the failed aspirations that reside just below the surface. Even as she waits for circumstances to bring Tinker back into her life, she begins to realize how our most promising choices inevitably lay the groundwork for our regrets.

Setting:  New York, 1937


About the Author:

Born in 1964, Amor Towles was raised in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College and received an M.A. in English from Stanford University where he was a Scowcroft Fellow. He is a principal at an investment firm in Manhattan, where he lives with his wife and two children. He is on the boards of the Library of America and the Yale Art Gallery.

Mr. Towles is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.

His novel, Rules of Civility, was published by Viking/Penguin in July 2011 and reached the bestseller lists of The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. The book was rated by The Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2011. The book’s French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. The book is being published in 15 languages. 

(from author’s website)

Related Media: – Book Trailer

My Review:  Rules of Civility by Amor Towles was the selection of the month for my book group, Books & Babble.  I really didn’t have an notion of this book before starting the audio book.  At times I wished I would have had the book instead of the audio.  Towles has a way with words that had me wishing I could highlight the descriptions to share at a later time!   One of my favorite things about Rules of Civility is the language or prose of Amor Towles.  On the flip side, listening to Rules of Civility was wonderful to listen too. The language was elegant and flowed very well.  The audio was well performed and I felt like it was 1938!

The cast of characters were many and even minor characters were well developed.  Mostly the Rules of Civility revolves around three friends, Eve, Katey and Tinker.  Katey was intelligent and witty. She was a hardworker, but knew how to have fun.  And oh how fun New York City was in the 1930’s!  The boarding houses, jazz clubs and restaurants were so lively. Towles really has you feeling like you are experiences the city in the 1930’s. 

Rules of Civility is a love story that bridges social class and is tested by many events.  In order to climb the social ladder the characters of Rules of Civility are willing to risk everything for wealth. Katey was my favorite character with her love for books, her persistence, determination and spunk.  Will the characters find love and happiness in the end??

My Rating: 4 – I really liked Rules of Civility – The 1930’s in New York was very entertaining and fun to experience through the lives of Eve and Katey.   I loved the audio and would recommend it to others.  In discussing Rules of Civility at book group there were many details in the book that not everyone caught.   In discussing the book your understanding and appreciation of Rules of Civility grows.

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

Other Bloggers Reviews :

Literate Housewife

1776 Books

Bookworm Meets Bookworm

Booking Mama

Literary Inklings


Happy Reading!

Monday, September 3, 2012

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading – September 3rd


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.

Accomplishments Since Last Posting:
Making of Us – Lisa Jewell (Review)

Such a Pretty Face – Cathy Lamb (Review)

Library Loot – Sept 1st Edition - see my loot from our weekly visit to the library.

Reading Plans for This Week:

Finish Reading:
 secret_keeper_thumb The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton 1959 England. Laurel Nicolson is sixteen years old, dreaming alone in her childhood tree house during a family celebration at their home, Green Acres Farm. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and then observes her mother, Dorothy, speaking to him. And then she witnesses a crime.

Fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress, living in London. She returns to Green Acres for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday and finds herself overwhelmed by memories and questions she has not thought about for decades. She decides to find out the truth about the events of that summer day and lay to rest her own feelings of guilt. One photograph, of her mother and a woman Laurel has never met, called Vivian, is her first clue.

The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams, the lengths some people go to fulfill them, and the strange consequences they sometimes have. It is a story of lovers, friends, dreamers and schemers, play-acting and deception told against a backdrop of events that changed the world. (from

Listen To:
 7826803 Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel (Audio Book)
England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?
(from Good

Next Up ?? –
 untitled1_copy2 Ten Days - Janet Gilsdorf
In a riveting debut novel infused with uncommon insight, Janet Gilsdorf draws readers into an unforgettable story of love, heartache, family, and renewal.

After six years of marriage, Anna and Jake Campbell have settled into a routine of daily responsibility and familiar comforts. The demands of raising two small children—three-year-old Chris and baby Eddie—take a toll, especially combined with Jake’s schedule as an orthopedic surgeon. But together, cautious Anna and calm, optimistic Jake negotiate, sometimes gracefully, sometimes not so much, every obstacle that comes their way. Until the night Eddie gets sick.

When Anna phones Jake at work to seek advice, he reassures her that Eddie has just caught her cold. But with the morning light comes the terrible realization that her baby is seriously ill. Guilt-ridden, deeply angry, and shell-shocked, Anna spends bottomless hours alone in the ICU where Eddie teeters on between life and death. In the days that follow Eddie’s diagnosis, grief gives way to recrimination and accusations. Anna, focused only on her younger son, ignores Chris’s need for attention, while Jake is drawn to an old temptation. And the six steady years Anna and Jake have spent together—years of give and take, hope and hardship, inside jokes and shared memories—seem suddenly fragile and fleeting.

Ten Days
is a beautifully written and compelling story of the simple, momentary choices that come to shape our lives, of love tested to the limit, and of the myriad small triumphs that can become our greatest joys.

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

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Book review: The Making of Us by Lisa Jewell


Title:  The Making of Us

Author:  Lisa Jewell

Publisher: Atria Books; Original edition (August 14, 2012)

ISBN 10: 1451609116

Pages: 416 pages

Format: Galley from

About the Book: (From

From the internationally bestselling author of After the Party comes a delightfully funny, brilliantly poignant novel about three strangers who are brought together by the father they never knew. Lydia, Dean and Robyn don’t know one another. Yet. Each is facing difficult challenges. Lydia is still wearing the scars from her traumatic childhood. Wealthy and successful, she leads a lonely and disjointed existence. Dean is a young, unemployed, single dad whose life is going nowhere. Robyn is eighteen. Gorgeous, popular and intelligent, she entered her first year of college confident of her dream to become a pediatrician. Now she’s failing her classes. Now she’s falling in love for the first time.

Lydia, Dean and Robyn live very different lives, but each of them, independently, has always felt that something was missing. What they don’t know is that a letter is about to arrive that will turn their lives upside down. It is a letter containing a secret—one that will bind them together and show them what love and family and friendship really mean.

“So good that I practically inhaled it,” praised the Daily Mail (London). The Making of Us is a literary gem that will remind readers of the miracles that happen when we bring life into the world and share our lives with those we love.

Setting: London

Lisa Jewell

About the Author:  (from Good

Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph's Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).

Related Media: – Lisa Jewell on Creating Characters

My Review:  This was the first galley I have read and I was so pleasantly surprised.   Making of Us is the story of three children born of the same donor father.  All raised in different homes with different moms and different experiences.  But moms who wanted them so much and went to the clinic to have the child then so deeply desired.   Many issues are brought to mind in this story, the rights of the children to know who their father is, the right of the sperm donor to remain anonymous.  The bond of family and wanting to feel like you belong and able to see yourself in your family.  The desire to not feel alone in the world but connected in a meaningful way to others. 

The Making of Us is emotionally charged and very believable. I loved the characters and how they change throughout the book, especially Lydia.  She really blossomed once she gained confidence,  felt she belonged and had family.   It was good to watch Dean mature and grow as a person/father. I enjoyed how the author wrote each chapter with a different narrator.  This allowed you to know the characters thoughts as well as their thoughts about the other characters as well.   This technique lead to very strong character development, though this was confusing the first few chapters to get the characters straight.  Luckily, I always take notes to help me get a solid understanding of the characters early on.  It takes away form the story if the confusion lasts too long!

I finished Making of Us a few hours ago and I have been trying to figure out why I was so struck by this book.  I think I was most struck by the emotions of the children wanting to belong or feeling like something was missing for them.  But they each felt like something was missing and that was all brought together when they met their siblings. People that were like them and looked like them.  The sense of belong and being a part of “Us”.  The emotions of the characters are right on – a donor father or absent father the emotions to belong and be a part of “us” is so strong.  It is amazing to me how siblings raised by different mothers can have so much in common – but they can, I have seen it!   Making of Us is a great story about finding family and importance of family.

My Rating: 4 – really liked it! – I could have devoured Making of Us in one sitting if I didn’t need to sleep!  A great emotional read about families and our need to belong.

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

Other Bloggers Reviews :

Girly Scribbles’ Book Reviews

International Chick Lit Month

Quirky Bookworm

Curious Book Fans


Happy Reading!


Galley received from publisher via in exchange for a fair review.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Library Loot: September 1st Edition


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

New this week from the White Bear Lake Public Library:

index The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Acclaimed, award-winning author Margot Livesey delivers her breakout novel: a captivating tale, set in Scotland in the early 1960s, that is both an homage and a modern variation on the enduring classic, Jane Eyre.

Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.

But Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal, secrets and lies, redemption and discovery that will lead her to a life she's never dreamed.


This week Claire from The Captive Reader is hosting Library Loot. Stop by to check out what treasures others have found at their local libraries!

Happy Reading!!

Book Review: Such a Pretty Face by Cathy Lamb


Title:  Such A Pretty Face

Author:  Cathy Lamb

Publisher: Kensington; 1 edition (August 1, 2010)

ISBN 10: 0758229550

Pages: 352 pages

Format: Paperback – borrowed from the library

About the Book:   In this warm, funny, thoroughly candid novel, acclaimed author Cathy Lamb introduces an unforgettable heroine who's half the woman she used to be, and about to find herself for the first time...Two years and 170 pounds ago, Stevie Barrett was wheeled into an operating room for surgery that most likely saved her life. Since that day, a new Stevie has emerged, one who walks without wheezing, plants a garden for self-therapy, and builds and paints fantastical wooden chairs. At thirty-five, Stevie is the one thing she never thought she'd be: thin. But for everything that's changed, some things remain the same. Stevie's shyness refuses to melt away. She still can't look her neighbors' gorgeous great-nephew in the eye. The Portland law office where she works remains utterly dysfunctional, as does her family - the aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her in when she was a child. To top it off, her once supportive best friend clearly resents her weight loss. By far the biggest challenge in Stevie's new life lies in figuring out how to define her new self. Collaborating with her cousins to plan her aunt and uncle's problematic fortieth anniversary party, Stevie starts to find some surprising answers - about who she is, who she wants to be, and how the old Stevie evolved in the first place. And with each revelation, she realizes the most important part of her transformation may not be what she's lost, but the courage and confidence she's gathering, day by day.   (from – About the Book)

Setting:  Ashville & Portland Oregon  - 2005


About the Author(from –Author Page)

Cathy Lamb was born in Newport Beach, California. As a child, she mastered the art of skateboarding, catching butterflies in bottles, and riding her bike with no hands. When she was 10, her parents moved her, two sisters, a brother, and two poorly behaved dogs to Oregon before she could fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming a surfer bum.

She then embarked on her notable academic career where she earned good grades now and then, spent a great deal of time daydreaming, ran wild with a number of friends, and landed on the newspaper staff in high school. When she saw her byline above an article about people making out in the hallways of the high school, she knew she had found her true calling.

After two years of partying at the University of Oregon, she settled down for the next three years and earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in education, and became a fourth grade teacher. It was difficult for her to become proper and conservative but she threw out her red cowboy boots and persevered. She had no choice. She had to eat, and health insurance is expensive.

She met her husband on a blind date. A mutual friend who was an undercover vice cop busting drug dealers set them up. It was love at third sight.

Teaching children about the Oregon Trail and multiplication facts amused her until she became so gigantically pregnant with twins she looked like a small cow and could barely walk. With a three year old at home, she decided it was time to make a graceful exit and waddle on out. She left school one day and never went back. She likes to think her students missed her.

When Cathy was no longer smothered in diapers and pacifiers, she took a turn onto the hazardous road of freelance writing and wrote about 200 articles on homes, home décor, people and fashion for a local newspaper. As she is not fashionable and can hardly stand to shop, it was an eye opener for her to find that some women actually do obsess about what to wear. She also learned it would probably be more relaxing to slam a hammer against one's forehead than engage in a large and costly home remodeling project.

Cathy suffers from, "I Would Rather Play Than Work Disease" which prevents her from getting much work done unless she has a threatening deadline. She likes to hang with family and friends, walk, eat chocolate, camp, travel, and is slightly obsessive about the types of books she reads. She also likes to be left alone a lot so she can hear all the odd characters in her head talk to each other and then transfer that oddness to paper. The characters usually don't start to talk until 10:00 at night, however, so she is often up 'til 2:00 in the morning with them. That is her excuse for being cranky.


My Review: I read Such A Pretty Face for my book group, Wine, Women and Words.  My group had previously read Henry’s Sisters by Cathy Lamb and really enjoyed it so we were excited to read, Such a Pretty Face.  I found myself really connecting and caring about many of the characters, especially, Stevie Barrett.  She was a great character, unsure of herself and slowing gaining confidence.  You could not help rooting for her to have a better life and come to terms with her own personal demons and insecurities.  Stevie was fun to watch develop and blossom throughout the story.  Such a Pretty Face shows what family secrets can do to a family and how they can keep you prisoner.  While Stevie was my favorite character in Such A Pretty Face, all the characters were very well developed.  Many of the characters were quirky in nature, but were dealing with their own issues, and I likes most of them!  I did not have must sympathy for Stevie’s Uncle, Herbert.  He is a character you love to hate!  

Stevie and her two cousins Lance and Polly were great characters and their relationship was great.  I found myself sneaking to read a few more pages of Such A Pretty Face, I thought about the three cousins when I wasn’t reading the book and wanted to get back to see what they were up to.    You could not help but have sympathy for Stevie’s mother, Helen who suffered from Schizophrenia.  She was quirky in a different, sadder manner.  Each character was overcoming their own demons.  It was great to see them gain the confidence and strength to address their individual issues and become stronger people through out the story.

The story would not be complete without Zena, the wonderfully inappropriate friend of Stevie’s that will make you laugh out loud with the things she says . She is great!  Such A Pretty Face addresses themes of love, family, acceptance and overcoming the pain and reality of family secrets.  Such A Pretty Face is told in the voice of Stevie with the use of flashbacks to her childhood and present day.

My Rating:  - 4/5 stars – really liked it – I found the characters exceptionally likeable and cared a lot about them.  I continued to read wanting to know what would happen my new friends.  Powerful read addressing many issues.  Worth the read and I actually enjoyed Such a Pretty Face more than Henry’s Sisters also by Cathy Lamb.

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

Other Bloggers Reviews :

Readers Café

Crowded Leaf

Curled Up With a Good Book

Maniac Readers

Happy Reading!

Monday, August 27, 2012

It’s Monday! What are you reading?? and Library Loot–August 27th


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.

Accomplishments This Week:  

          Finished Listening to :   Rules of Civility – Amor Towles

      Finished Reading:    State of Wonder  - Ann Patchett

          Heading Out to Wonderful (Review)

          Library Loot, August 25th Edition – see my loot from our weekly visit to the library. 

My Plans for this week:

gone-girl-book-cover-med Reading – Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around

(from Good
7826803 Listening – Wolf Hall – Hilary Mantel  (Audio Book)

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

(from Good

These are my reading plans for the week. What are you reading plans for the week??? Join in with Shelia at Book Journey and share your reading plans for the upcoming week!!Happy Reading!!