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 fa├žade 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.