Welcome To The Secret Garden Party!!!

Welcome to the Secret Garden Party…. “SSSQQQQUUUEEE!”  Thank you to everyone who joined me on this adventure of reading The Secret Garden.  This was my first time through this book and I listened to it on audio. 

Here is how todays party will work:

For those of you who have signed on to do this read-a-long and are posting your reviews and thoughts today, the link to add your posts is below where it says click here.

Since this is a party… we have some fun giveaways – if you link your review that gives you one entry… for participating in the discussion questions you will get a second entry.

Whats up for the giveaway?

A new copy of The Secret Garden DVD


A new copy of Little Lord Faunterleroy (also written by Frances Hodgson Burnett)


Garden goodies!



Here are the questions for our discussion:

1.  When Mary loses both of her parents to the epidemic, why do you feel she expresses no grief for them but is more concerned with who will now take care of her?

2.  Mary and Colin are often described as being unpleasant and rude. Martha, in fact, says Mary is “as tyrannical as a pig” and that Colin is the “worst young newt as ever was.” Why are both of these children so ill-tempered? Whom does Burnett hold responsible for their behavior—themselves or their parents? How does this fit into one of the larger themes of the novel, that of the “fallen world of adults”?

3.  Upon Mary’s first encounter with Dickon, Burnett describes the boy in this way: “His speech was so quick and easy. It sounded as if he liked her and was not the least afraid she would not like him, though he was a common moor boy, in patched clothes and with a funny face and a rough, rusty-red head. As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them.” What is significant about this passage? Are there any particular motifs that seem to be connected specifically to Dickon?

4.  Why do you feel Mr. Craven has avoided his son Colin so?  In the end, is Craven worthy of Colin’s forgiveness?

5.  What role does the robin play in the book?

6.  How does “Indian-ness” function in the novel?   How does class and status?

7.  Which characters are most strongly associated with the world of the manor house? Which characters are most strongly associated with the secret garden? What does this opposition suggest?

8.  Which narrative features were employed by the author to make The Secret Garden speak to children? Why do you think this novel appeals to an adult audience as well? What makes it a classic?

9.  Was the Secret Garden what you thought it would be?  What did you enjoy most about this read?  What do you think makes it a classic?

(in the comments – you may answer as many or as few as the questions you like as well as add your own questions to the discussion.)

*Note ever if you have not participated in this read a long please feel free to participate in the conversation and respond to the questions – one non read a long participant who joins in the discussion in the comments will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.

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All winners will be announced on Friday June 1st during the Morning Meanderings.


I would love your input on what our next party should be… please vote!

The Secrets Of Mary Bowser by Lois Leveen

Mary Bowser has been a slave all her life.  She worked for the Van Lew Family in Virginia until one day she is sent away to get an education… and her freedom.

By being educated Mary learns much.  She learns about the Civil War and gets a taste of what it is like to hold some power over what is happening around you.  Taking ownership of herself returns to Virginia to be with her father, but also finds herself posing as a slave to keep a close on eye on the dealing of President Jefferson Davies.  While information was getting out to the North, Mary was never suspected…

How much does freedom really cost?

How about this alternate cover? It creeps me out… then it draws me in…

Pre gush.  I really enjoy enjoy fictitious stories based around a non fiction character.  The fact that Mary Bower was in fact a real woman who really was a freed slave who came back into slavery to save others is fascinating.  That alone was enough to get me setting aside time on a very rainy weekend for this book.

Gush:  But Mary Bowsers story is so much more… this extremely well written book dives into this woman’s history with painstaking details… fact of fiction, in the end I felt as though I had a good feel for who Mary was and what she stood for.  We can all only hope to leave even a fraction of such a legacy. 

I admit I am not a huge fan of war related stories, however Marys part in what was happening around her made the book flow well with the war while being a large topic, was not the main story line.  Mary carries the book. 

The underground railroad has always fascinated me… such a rich history we have that is we do not take the time to dig into it, it will pass us by and we will be lesser people for never knowing, never caring.  Thank you to Mark Bowser and to Lois Leveen for writing such a vivid story I am left wanting more… in a good way.

Thank you to TLC Book Tours for trusting this

treasure of a book to be placed in my care and the chance for my

fingertips to type and try to do the book justice.

Morning Meanderings… How Much Is Thay Doggy In The Window?


Good morning!  Another overcast day… but I think the weather is supposed to break today…. *fingers crossed*  AND another day closer to BEA….. I really need to start packing…

You may recall that in April, on the 11 to be exact, my friend Kerri brought along a little friend to book club that night.  Normally I would be alarmed because this guy was REALLY REALLY hairy… and because we are a group of all girls…

however, he also had 4 legs, and was a stray dog, so he was allowed in. 

(Bailey our 13-year-old left.. Sam the “new guy” right)

The deal was that Sam could visit while Kerri looked for a home for him.  She had seen him running around for four days on the roads, all muddy and matted… no tags, no collar.  When she seen him on a hwy that fourth day she put him in her car.  She called all the local and vets and HART our local impound, no one had turned in a missing dog.

When she brought him to our house, I too made calls around….  no one was looking for him.  I took him to the vet and to the groomer.  They believe he is between one and two years old.  The way he loves to play, I think he is closer to that one year mark. 

When I would be on my laptop, Sam (as hubby named him) wasn’t too far away.


As time went on, Sam just fit right in. We discovered that he loves to be in windows.  We have a bench in out bedroom in front of a window and Sam loves to climb up in the windowsill and watch the back yard.  In the living room he will get up on hubby’s recliner and then on to the tall coffee table to be in that window.  I can see him when I come home – sitting in the window sill…. waiting.  He doesn’t hurt anything and it is so cute, we let him do it.  Although, I do occasionally refer to him as “cat-dog”

He really is such a good dog.  When I come home he launches himself at me like “I can not even believe you came back!”  We have a five-minute session where I get down to his level so he can jump and tell me how much I was missed.  😀  Everyone needs a friend like that!

Sam has made a wonderful companion for Bailey.  Bailey has been so sad since we lost Elmo last fall… in a way, they think we all have been.  Sam brought a little life back into our home.  😀

As for today:

WORK!  Need to get done here and head in, lots to do with me being gone next week.

Tonight – depending on weather, I would like to go to Group Power and kick boxing but if it is nice, I may ride bike instead.  Later I have to get on the lawn… but that can wait until evening.. 😀

Enjoy your Wednesday!  😀

Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay

This book caught my eye right away, I love this cover.  After Camryn reviewed it and talked

to me about it I felt this would make a wonderful beach read.


Love and Leftovers

Love and Leftovers is a story written by Sarah Tregay that is about sixteen year old Marcie, who moves to New Hampshire with her mother after her parents’ marriage falls apart.


Marcie’s mom has had depression for a while, but it got even worse after her mom found out her husband was gay. Marcie and her mom live in the summer vacation house, and Marcie gets very lonely. Not only does she miss her super cute emo-rocker boyfriend, Linus, from back home, but she also misses her best friend, Katie, along with all of her other friends, nicknamed the Leftovers. They are called the Leftovers because they are the kids that didn’t really fit in with anyone, or we leftover.


When Marcie’s loneliness starts to get too painful to bear, she starts to notice the perfect J.D., a jock from her new school in New Hampshire; the problem is, she hasn’t ended her relationship with Linus yet. As she and J.D. get closer and closer friends, she wonders if she can stop herself before it’s too late, or if she will have to say goodbye to Linus for good. After a visit from her dad, Marcie is swept back to her hometown, Boise, Idaho, because her mom cannot handle taking care of her anymore. As she sees the Leftovers for the first time, will she tell Linus the truth? Can she fix her broken friendship with Katie? Or will she be back to being lonely?


Love and Leftovers is a book that is portrayed in-verse, or in poems. It is a good and easy book to read. I did find myself tearing up just a little at some parts. While I did not enjoy it as much as Hereafter or The Selection, I felt this one held its own … almost in a different category, and certainly in a different way.

Camryn is 12 years old, soon to be thirteen and enjoys reading YA books of the fantasy and romance genre. A few of her favorite books are “Hourglass” by Myra McEntire, “The Other Countess” by Eve Edwards, “Hush, Hush” by Becca Fitzpatrick, “The Immortals” series, the “Marked” series and the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series.  When she’s not reading she enjoys watching Gilmore Girls or going to book sales for more books to add to her ever-growing collection.

Morning Meanderings… Rain Rain… Go Away… and other annoyances

Our Minnesota weather is starting to annoy me.  😯

A week ago when College Son and I were at the cabin it was nice on Saturday, pouring/storming on Sunday and cold, and then nice on Monday.

Since then it has been rain off and on Tuesday, storms and power outages last Wednesday, Thursday rain all day, Friday overcast and cooler as the day went on, Saturday rain off and on and storms all night long, Sunday rainy in the morning and then suddenly cleared around 1:00 pm enough time for us to make plans to have friends over to grill, set up the deck and have a nice evening… then stormed all night again.

Monday, Memorial day the day started out nice.  I prepped for a picnic we were going on, bringing my baked bean side dish.  By the time we were at the event and ready to eat, it stormed and hailed (luckily we had the option to be inside).  Then the sun came out and I ran a few errands and went to the cemetery.  By the time I got home it stormed again, cleared and stormed again. 

This morning I am in the house with coffee cup grumpily looking at yet another overcast and gloomy day.  I would love to ride my bike a bit before I go to New York and time is ticking down.  I come back from New York and go into a 150 mile bike ride the same day so I really wanted to get in some ride time.


On a happier note… I am going to BEA and leaving for the cities this coming Saturday evening and flying out Sunday morning.  Suddenly what I have been waiting for FOREVER… is now almost here and I am going through the whole, “What to pack?” “What is their weather like (hopefully better than ours)?”  “Who will I meet?”

Yesterday I posted about what to know when you head to BEA that first time.  I wrote out everything that helped me before I went as well as what I learned myself that would have been helpful to know prior to going.  If you know anyone going to BEA this year for the first time, direct them over… hopefully I can help them feel a little more relaxed going into the wonderful world of books…

Todays agenda:

Work until three (wow it is Tuesday isn’t it?  That bonus day off is going to mess with me all week!)

Pick up some parts for our lawnmower

IF the weather clears I would LOVE to take a bike ride

If weather doesnt clear I may read late afternoon and hit gym later yet

Late night – I am working on posts for this week and trying to prep some posts for while I am away….  does anyone know who heads up the Armchair BEA?  I have an idea….

A Guide To BEA – What to bring, wear, do, see, money, etc…

Their definition:  BEA:  Book Expo Of America – an event that takes place yearly for book sellers, media, and publishing houses and authors all to mingle together in promoting books that will be coming out yet this year and possibly next spring.

My definition:  Heaven for Book Lovers.  

Before my love affair with book reviewing, I had never heard of BEA.  In 2010 when I first did finally hear about it and what it was… I only knew one thing…. I had to go.

For me – this was HUGE.  I didn’t plan trips alone.  I didn’t just go off on a whim, to states I had never been to before, but this had to happen.  I connected with a couple of bloggers on-line that I planned to be roommates with to cut that cost down.  And I went.  LOVED IT.  Went again in 2011….LOVED IT! And now I am on schedule to go again this next week.  I can’t explain the magic of being surrounded by books and book lovers for almost a full week.  All I can say is that if you are ever considering going, GO.  Don’t hesitate.

So what got this little girl from Central Minnesota to go to New York and feel confident enough to do it?  Well, honestly, Book Bloggers.  In 2010 a group of book bloggers decided to each take a day for a week and write a post about what to expect at BEA.  I devoured everything I could about the subject. 

I am going to pass on to you now what I learned either on my own, or through others, but all of it valuable if you are new to the BEA experience.  Some of this I wish I had known going in….  I am happy to pass it on to you and hope there is something you can take from this.


What to pack?

At the Expo I would suggest wearing business casual – jeans and a nice shirt, capris or springy skirts for women, cargo style pants… remember you are there representing your blog.  Pack one outfit a little dressier for an evening out… maybe a pair of dressier pants or skirt with a couple different tops. Definitely pack  comfortable shoes, even if you are like me, and wearing a heel doesn’t bother you if you are on your feet all day.  You will walk the exhibit floor many many times for hours each day.  You may be walking through New York as well to check out the sites.  Myself and Reagan walked almost everywhere… not only did it save money on taxi’s but we could see things so much better than from inside a car. 

Also – a little trick I picked up for myself, pack a couple unfolded boxes  in your suitcase and your own packing tape.  The shipping companies (I will get to them below) will charge you for the box – and if you use the post office (which I will recommend) they will also have you buy the tape. 



What to expect?

So this is a picture of me year one…. LOL, ok not exactly me, but yeah…. pretty much.  When we got to the Javits Center that first day people were lined up hours before it opened and of course, we got in line and hung out there.  When the doors did open I was pushed with the crowd into the center and right into a table where a book was jabbed into my hands.  “What is this craziness” I thought.  The book was I Am Number Four.  I had never heard of it.  Now, it is a movie….  crazy, crazy stuff…

After that – year two…. day one… looked like this:

Yup.  Reagan and I did not get in the line at all. We walked around a few exhibits on the outside of the main center.  Then we seen this abandoned Info booth with tall comfy chairs.  I told Reagan I was going to sit there, she said we shouldn’t but I said whats the worst that will happen…. they ask up to move?  The funny thing is, we started answering questions.  AND for awhile we had a line of people waiting to ask their question.  AND funnier yet, we knew the answers, so we were actually helpful…

Where is the children’s breakfast?

Where can we get maps of the exhibit area?

Where is Starbucks?

Can I still get tickets to Author breakfasts?

Where do I register?

When can I get into the exhibit hall?

My point in sharing this is to let you know to just have fun.  Once the doors open people rush in and you are in within minutes of the mob and that is much nicer. 

Once inside… have fun, everywhere you look you will find exhibits, in many cases, ARC’s of books as well.  Choose wisely… don’t hoard.  If you are not going to read it, don’t take it.  These publishing companies want to get the word out about their books and they want them in the hands of those who will do it.  Not just bloggers, but book sellers.  AND please be polite, going to the Expo is a privilege, not a right.  Say thank you when receiving a book.  Don’t push or grab.  Seriously, I seen some bad behavior from bloggers last year that was just embarrassing to all of us.  This may seem harsh – but if you are not mature enough to go….. don’t go.

Make a point to see the publishing houses that send you books.  Meet with them, introduce yourself… build on that blogger/publisher relationship. 

The books being handed out change frequently.  If you have a list of what you are hoping to receive an ARC of, watch your publishing booths for it.

Oh and the autograph area, that is so fun.  Books handed out by the authors and they are signed.  LOVE that.  Be sure to notice the box that says recommended donation per book $1.00. 

Of course – you will see bloggers too…. but that… is another topic. 😀

Oh yeah, and I know this post is late so I apologize, a business card is wonderful to put into publishing houses hands that you want to connect with, as well as exchanging with the bloggers you meet.  I get mine through Vista Prints…. 500 cards, custom two-sided…. $34.00

Authors, and Publishers, and Bloggers…. oh my!

One of the best things I was told that first year I attended was to not overbook yourself.  As a newbie to New York I had an agenda…. I wanted to see an exhibit, I wanted to go to a show…

That first year one on my roommates and I (*waves at Esme from Chocolates and Croissants*), stayed an extra day after everything ended.  That was the best thing I did. 

The reason you do not want to overbook yourself with commitments too early is that new offers may come up.  You could meet up with a group of bloggers friends who all want to go out to dinner, or you may get an invite to hang out with authors or publishers and it would be sad if your favorite author invited you to come and hang out with a group and you have to bow out because you have tickets to Wicked…. (not that Wicked would not be incredible to see on Broadway!)  😛

Both years that I have attended I have had something going on every night and occasionally two things.  The publishing houses have get together, I went to dinner with my roommates and a group of new authors which was so much fun because they had questions for us like how to do giveaways or promote their books which was so cool because one of those authors has since made a movie deal with that first book.  AWESOME.  I also connected with many other bloggers who would get together for dinner…. oh and that bonus day?  I took in the Harry Potter Exhibit, and the first year seen Mama Mia, and last year Mary Poppins.  😀

And still… I bought a ticket for my first time this year to an authors breakfast and two weeks later received an invite to a brunch being hosted by one of the publishing houses… same day and same time as the author breakfast.   Uhh… yeah, I am going to the brunch.  😆

**Absolutely make time to connect with your fellow book bloggers…. it is so fun to meet in person and you could make friends for life.  (Reagan (Miss Remmers Reviews) called me this past February on my birthday and sang to me over the phone)….. priceless.



Make a Schedule and check it twice!

Packing a little notebook/agenda with you is a great idea.  You can capture information for upcoming books, and addresses for possible meet ups.  It is useful for putting where you need to be and when.  When you are invited to Publishing houses you want to have the times written down and addresses…. this will also help you so you don’t double book or you can at least look at times to events if you need to try to make two…

Seriously, BEA and all that surrounds it makes me laugh and say “Is this really my life, dinner with authors and cocktails with Publishers?  😀



Stretching the dollars!

That first time I was going to BEA a friend of mine here in Brainerd told me “Food is expensive there, you can easily spend $50+ on a meal.  That freaked me out a bit.  Well, I can honestly tell you that yes, if you want to go out and have a great New York experience, you certainly can and find high price and meals worth taking pictures of (uhhh…. I have), however I found prices to be not that different from where I live here.  Your going out to a nice dinner (without drinks) will cost between $8 and $20.  You can also stop and pick up a slice of pizza or a burger for a few bucks…

In the hotels I stayed in the past two years they had continental breakfast so I would eat there and grab an extra banana or apple for my bag I carried to the Javits Center.  The Javits has food available but it is a bit pricey!  I would recommend bringing a bottle of water with you and maybe an energy bar or granola.  Outside the Javitz and not too far walking distance are many restaurants that are nice too for a lunch break and a chance to sit down. 

Also – coffee drinkers like me, grab your joe on the way to the Javits… the line that wraps around Starbucks in the early start up hours has been known to be up to a 40 minute wait.  Been there.. done that….


How do I get my books home?

No doubt even if you are new to the BEA experience, you have heard about the wonderful opportunity to take home some much coveted reads?  As you travel the hallways and aisles you will pick up some books.  I can not even imagine any book lover being able to pass on  them all… and that leads to the next question… how do you get them home?

The Javits Center offers Fed Ex and UPS in the building for your convenience.  On the main floor you will find Fed Ex and I think the first box (and only box) I sent through them that first year was a standard size box and I paid around $45 to have that shipped.  My next box I took downstairs (by where you register that first day) and that is UPS.  The beauty of UPS is that they let you grab a box in the morning (no charge) and fold it tape it and write your name all over it and leave it down there on a long table and you can add to it all day long.  Once full, they have people right there that will assist you and ship it.  That 2nd box cost me around $32.00.

Then… I learned that there was a post office not all that far from the Javits.  You can fill up a book bag or two and then go to the post office and ship from there.  (This is where the tape and boxes I mentioned in your packing come in).  For a large size box at the post office with insurance I paid around $18.00 media mail.  It takes a few days longer that UPS or Fed Ex but by the end of the week I returned home, the boxes were there.   Here is a link to a map of the are around the Javits.

That’s about all I have for now.  I am sorry I am posting this so close to event time… I have been planning it for weeks but life and stuff… 😀 

For those who have gone before, please add any advice you can think of to the comments below.  I appreciate your input and I am sure I am forgetting much 😀

Oh and one more thing, remember that year two picture of Reagan and I at the info booth, over an hour later the dude that was scheduled to be working there showed up and I got a picture:

Oh and P.S.  If you are going and want to connect, let me know.  I am going to email out my cell number to my regular readers who wish to meet.

Here are a couple other BEA posts I have seen recently:

Miss Remmers Reviews

The 3 R’s Blog

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Welcome to It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading!  This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling me how many you visited.  **You do not have to have a blog to participate! You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

This past weeks winner:

Lauren from Gimme More Books!

Congratulations!  Please email me your book choice out of the recently cleaned up and LOVELY Reading Cafe at journeythroughbooks@gmail.com. 

A BUSY holiday as it turns out for me – what stared out to be a rainy dreary day turned into a sunny day with a plan!  I went from sweater and jeans to a tank and capris in the afternoon, cleaned up out back deck – hauled out the patio set, went grocery shopping and had two other couples over for dinner.  FUN.  YES.

Here is what happened here this past week:

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (Review by Camryn)

Blue Asylum by Kathy Hepinstall

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie (ooh so good!!!!)

Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner

City Of Bones by Cassandra Claire

Eat This!  NOT That! By David Zinczenko (a book that will make you think before you eat…)

I will post what I am reading this upcoming week tomorrow morning.  It has been a gorgeous day in the sun and now I just want to hang out a bit with my hubby and the TV 😀  I have tomorrow off from work (woo hoo!!!!) so I should make it around to visit many of you, be sure to link your Monday posts below!

As for this weeks agenda, this will be an interesting week as after today with the holiday it will be a short week and I will be in New York by next Sunday so I will keep it a little lite…

She was the world’s biggest-ever ship. A luxurious miracle of twentieth-century technology, the Titantic was equipped with the most ingenious safety devices of the time. Yet on a moonlit night in 1912, the “unsinkable” Titantic raced across the glassy Atlantic on her maiden voyage, with only twenty lifeboats for 2,207 passengers. A Night To Remember is the gut–wrenching, minute-by-minute account of her fatal collision with an iceberg and how the resulting tragedy brought out the best and worst in human nature.

I have always wanted to read this book… I recently acquired it on audio and I think I will be listening to this one in my car.

Based on a remarkable true story, The Secrets of Mary Bowser is an inspiring tale of one daring woman’s willingness to sacrifice her own freedom to change the course of history

All her life, Mary has been a slave to the wealthy Van Lew family of Richmond, Virginia. But when Bet, the willful Van Lew daughter, decides to send Mary to Philadelphia to be educated, she must leave her family to seize her freedom.

Life in the North brings new friendships, a courtship, and a far different education than Mary ever expected, one that leads her into the heart of the abolition movement. With the nation edging toward war, she defies Virginia law by returning to Richmond to care for her ailing father—and to fight for emancipation. Posing as a slave in the Confederate White House in order to spy on President Jefferson Davis, Mary deceives even those who are closest to her to aid the Union command.

Just when it seems that all her courageous gambles to end slavery will pay off, Mary discovers that everything comes at a cost—even freedom.

In October 2006, the night before he was to turn forty, Rich experienced a chilling glimpse of his future. Nearly fifty pounds overweight and unable to climb the stairs without stopping, he saw where his sedentary lifestyle was taking him. Most of us look the other way when granted such a moment of clarity, but not Rich. Plunging into a new way of eating that made processed foods off limits and prioritized plant nutrition and daily training, Rich morphed—in mere months—from out-of-shape midlifer to endurance machine. Ninety days into his physical overhaul, Rich left the house for a light jog and found himself running a near marathon. It was time to scale up his goals.

How many of us take up a sport at age forty and compete for the title of the world’s best within two years? Finding Ultra recounts Rich’s remarkable journey to the starting line of the elite Ultraman World Championship competition, which pits the world’s fittest humans against each other in a 320-mile ordeal of swimming, biking, and running. Following that test, Rich conquered an even greater one: the Epic5 Challenge—five Ironman-distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.

That’s the plan – I am looking forward to seeing yours!  Here is the link:

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