Will Grayson Will Grayson by John Green – (Second time around just as AWESOME!)

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Prelude:  When I drive to our cabin that is 3 1/2 hours away I love to listen to audio.  This past weekend with my now graduated from College son, we listened to Will Grayson Will Grayson.  When I tell my son we will listen to audio he eye rolls but appeases me.  I… do not want to be appeased.  I… want him to love audio too.  And this is how it happened…  ~Sheila

 

Will Grayson is 16 years old and has a best friend named Tiny Cooper.  Tiny… is anything but. Tiny is humongous and his heart is just as big as he is.  Tiny is gay – Will is not.  Will takes a lot of crap for having a larger than life best friend who is gay but Will just puts his head down and plods on as each class brings him closer to the end of the school day where he can go home and get away from the drama that is high school.

When Will meets Jane, a girl he may or may not like… things become interesting.  Jane is part of the Gay/Straight Alliance in their school and Will is not sure which one of those heading she falls under  but she seems to like him.  Perhaps… life just became a little more interesting.

Will Grayson is 16 and has fallen for a guy he met on-line named Isaac.  Isaac.  What a great name…  but this is not the Will Grayson who is best friends with Tiny Cooper.  No… this is another Will Grayson, or soon to become known as OWG (other Will Grayson)…

and things are about to get interesting.

 

 

Alright alright – it is honestly really hard to describe this book and why I love it so much.  It has the untethered bound of John Green’s wit.  It has the incredible narration of David Levithan that makes me laugh out loud as the guy is simply brilliant as he makes his way through this book with fantastic voices and occasionally breaking out into song.  Yes song.  Tiny is writing a musical… but that – is another part of the story.

I adored this audio when I listened to it in 2012 immediately following listening to Fault In Our Stars for the first time.  Same author – John Green, in case you did not catch that.  I was basking in Green.  Literally and I wanted to share his incredible writing and audio with the world.  Listening to it again two years later I fell in love with this story again.

So the verdict with my son?  I gave him full veto rights to tell me to stop the audio and I would with no arguing or sideways glares as we drove.  Instead – he enjoyed it too and so much in fact when we arrived back home on Monday he downloaded Audible to his phone so he could finish listening to it on his way home to the cities.

I promised him I would not gloat… but…

mission achieved :)

If you have not treated yourself to the amazing narration of David Levithan I highly encourage you to give him a try.  If you have not listened to a John Green audiobook woo!  You are missing a great level to his writing.  I highly recommend Will Grayson Will Grayson on book or audio.  Some day I want to read this one…  I bet it is FABULOUS!

Morning Meanderings…. Event Hangover

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Good morning!  Yes I am still around.  Last Friday was Wine and Words 2014 and it was a GREAT time.  Our authors were:  Lorna Landvik (emcee), Benjamin Percy Nicole Lea Helget, Randy Susan Meyers, and Barbara Claypole White.  The last few weeks have been a lot of communication between our local book store who orders us the books to sell at our event, the local wine guy who provides all the wine for free at the event, the check in teams, set up teams, silent auction team prep….. you get the point :)

About 1/4 of the auction.  We had 114 baskets of items up for bid.

About 1/4 of the auction. We had 114 baskets of items up for bid.

 

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Opportunities to photo prop :)

Opportunities to photo prop :)

 

210 people at the event

210 people at the event

 

The check in team

The check in team

 

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me bidding!

 

Love the after gathering with the authors!

Love the after gathering with the authors!

Final numbers are still out but looks like we are around $7,000 profit.  It was a great night!  I will post some more pics on Saturday for Saturday Snapshot.

 

I then left the next morning for our cabin on the North Shore with my son and we stayed until Monday afternoon.  It was AWESOME.  Books and movies and pub style pizza.  What is not to love?  :)

Today I will finish up on the deposit for Wine and Words, figure out are totals, communicate with Book World our local book store and start my thank you’s.

I have reviews to write and should be back on line now as that is the last big jump for awhile ;)

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Hey there!  Welcome to It’s Monday, What Are You Reading!

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. Fair warning… this meme tends to add to your reading list! ;)

Hey all!  I have pretty much been off the radar for the last 4 days and left the blog and you Monday Meme joiners hanging.  My apologies :)  Wine and Words was on Friday and I started working on it at 6 am on Friday and went all the way to about 2:00 am Saturday morning then left for the North Shore with my son by 1:00 pm.  I came home about two hours ago.  It was a great event… a great relaxing weekend.. and now I hope to settle into a slower paced norm for a while… (at least until the book sale at the end of September).

You can find pictures of the Wine and Words event on the Wine and Words Facebook page.

 

I am reading, and I am flying through a few audio.  None of which I am going to post about as I want to get this posted so you can still link up as I am SUPER LATE.  And… I want to do laundry.  And start supper.  And maybe get back into that book I was reading this weekend.

 

So here is the link:

 

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Morning Meanderings… EEP! It’s Thursday!

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Good morning!  It has been a crazy week with a personal appointment that put me off the radar for a couple of days.  And all Wine and Words week!

Seriously?  Who plans out my life schedule?  ;)

I sit here sipping a delicious cup of coffee this morning feeling pretty good about tomorrow’s event.  I have a couple of things to take care of today, a few signs to make, other than that… we are ready.  I have friends meeting me here tomorrow morning at 8:00 am to start loading up auction baskets to take to the event.  I have about 70 baskets here and another 45 at the Library.

The next few days will be pretty crazy but I will pop in when I can :)

The Matchmaker by Elin Hilderbrand

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48-year-old Dabney Beech is Nantucket.

Ask anyone.

Everyone knows her friendly smile and her involvement in anything Nantucket.  Dabney also has had a lifelong gift for matchmaking.  She can see when people are right for each other and with 42 happy couples all saying Dabney knows a good match when she sees it… its hard to argue the facts.

The only relationship that Dabney can not seem to get right is her own.  Meeting Clendenin “Clen” Hughes back when she was in school was the highlight of her life and when she let him so… she thought she was doing what was right for both of them. Yet 27 years later when Clen walks back into her life, Dabney feels all those feelings come surging back as though they had never left.  Trouble is Dabney is married to a wonderful man, who while he does not make her heart beat fast like Clen does, would do just about anything to save his marriage to the woman he truly loves.

Torn between what is right.. and what is true… Dabney struggles to make the right decisions, all the while her world is falling apart around her.  When her health seems to be battling against her, and she is missing an alarming amount of time from work for a variety of reasons – Dabney has to decide is making this one last match is worth all the trouble it will cause… even if it is her most desired wish.

 

 

There is just something summery sweet about an Elin Hilderbrand book.  Almost like biting into a perfectly ripe peach.  ~Sheila

 

The Matchmaker is a book I have been excited about.  Gorgeous cover, and the promise of a good Hildebrand storyline made me anxious to get started on this one.  While there was a lot to like about The Matchmaker (sunny days, Nantucket, romance, I want to be Dabney’s friend…) I actually found a bit in this one that I did not enjoy.

Dabney is OVERLY described in the beginning of the book as being adored by everyone…. in several ways in long drawn out descriptions it is very clearly made that Dabney is beloved. There is also a long drawn out decision to open an email or not… reading the title over and over again. It felt a bit forced and I started to think of the beginning of the book as “word fill”… just putting in as many words as you can to stretch it out.    Between that and the description of Clen’s eyes as being “weak tea colored” – that exact description being mentioned three times that I counted… it honestly was almost a deal breaker for me.  The whole perfect matchmaking story was a bit over the top and the only character that was described well and felt real was Dabney herself.

I am not sure what happened here with this book as normally Elin Hilderbrand has delightful engaging stories.  It took quite a while for me to get into this read and for a while I even considered calling it a DNF and moving on.

If, like me, you do hang in there and finish the book the story does redeem itself a bit but I am not sure enough to have me recommend it.

I would be interested in hearing other thoughts from those of you who finished this book as I am surprised by how disjointed I found it to be.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (June 10, 2014)

 

 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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Hey there!  Welcome to It’s Monday, What Are You Reading!

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. Fair warning… this meme tends to add to your reading list! ;)

Mid August?  Can you believe it?  I am 4 days out from Wine and Words 2014.  CRAZY as I have been working on this since late January when I worked on lining up the authors, building the website info and ticket sales going live in March.  We have been doing a lot of final detail work this past couple of weeks but I did manage to post a few things:

Orphan Train Bookies Review, Anniversary and Event with the author

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (audio)

Learning how to extract honey!

Buried Memories by Irene Pence  (true crime)

Scary Stuff…. my little dog gave us quite a scare on Saturday.

 

I will probably be mostly audio this week as my schedule is pretty crazy this week.  Tomorrow we will put the final touches on the baskets for wine and words.  Tuesday and Wednesday I am out for an appointment and not sure if that will allow any reading.  Friday Wine and Words and Saturday I head for the cabin with my son.  Here is what I hope to get started on:

For My Ears

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If you refuse to believe me, I will no longer consider you my son.

Daniel believed that his parents were enjoying a peaceful retirement on a remote farm in Sweden. But with a single phone call, everything changes.

Your mother…she’s not well, his father tells him. She’s been imagining things – terrible, terrible things. She’s had a psychotic breakdown, and been committed to a mental hospital.

Before Daniel can board a plane to Sweden, his mother calls: Everything that man has told you is a lie. I’m not mad… I need the police… Meet me at Heathrow.

Caught between his parents, and unsure of who to believe or trust, Daniel becomes his mother’s unwilling judge and jury as she tells him an urgent tale of secrets, of lies, of a crime and a conspiracy that implicates his own father.

 

 

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In January 2010, Aubert de Villaine, the famed proprietor of the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, the tiny, storied vineyard that produces the most expensive, exquisite wines in the world, received an anonymous note threatening the destruction of his priceless vines by poison – a crime that in the world of high-end wine is akin to murder – unless he paid a one million euro ransom. Villaine believed it to be a sick joke, but that proved a fatal miscalculation and the crime shocked this fabled region of France. The sinister story that Vanity Fair journalist Maximillian Potter uncovered would lead to a sting operation by some of France’s top detectives, the primary suspect’s suicide, and a dramatic investigation. This botanical crime threatened to destroy the fiercely traditional culture surrounding the world’s greatest wine.

Shadows in the Vineyard takes us deep into a captivating world full of fascinating characters, small-town French politics, an unforgettable narrative, and a local culture defined by the twinned veins of excess and vitality and the deep reverent attention to the land that runs through it.

 

I thin that is all I am going to plan on this big week.  Anything more is bonus.  :D

 

What are you reading this week?  What did you read last week?  Please add your link to your own It’s Monday What Are You Reading below where it says click here.

 

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Morning Meanderings.. Scary Stuff

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

My life.

NEVER dull.

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen my post yesterday afternoon.

 

Emotionally wiped out. It looks like our oldest dog Bailey had a stroke this afternoon. He had no balance and his eyes kept going back and forth rapidly. He is 16 years old. He is resting now and drinking and eating a little. All errands I had to run have been put on hold. Staying home and watching him. ‪#‎neverreadyforthis‬

 

I was working at the kitchen table on the Wine and Words website when Bailey stumbled by my chair yesterday.  His eyes were twitching left and right rapidly and it was like his legs were not working.  His neck stretched up and sideways awkwardly and when I reached for him he jumped.  I thought he had gone blind as he appeared to not be able to see me and he stumbled as though he could not find his balance.

I quickly called Al who was down in the shop behind our home.  Tearfully I told him he had to come to the house there was something wrong with Bailey.  We both watched Bailey for about an hour.  I had called our vet who said the symptoms sounded like a stroke, we could bring him in but there was not much they could do for him at his age and they were swamped with a surgery on another dog so he would have to wait in the waiting room.

Bailey seemed calm and we put him up on the couch where he went to sleep and I decided all the errands on my check list could wait until today so instead I stayed home with him.  He ate the little bit of food I gave him and slept a lot – which he does anyways… he is a 16-year-old shih-tzu after all.  As he slept I carried on with tasks around the house and even went outside and painted the chalkboard paint on the doors for Wine and Words on Friday.

When Al came in the house in the evening Bailey was acting as though nothing had happened. Walking around, wagging his tail, and no eye twitch.  I am shocked really, the way he had looked I figured there was no coming back from that and the tough decisions had to be made.

 

Bailey, Book Journey, SHeila DeChantal

This is Al with Bailey (right) after we picked him up. He was Al’s fathers day gift the year that Al broke his ankle working at UPS.

 

Bailey, Sam, Book JOurney, Sheila DeChantal

Bailey and Sam a couple of summers ago. They love to climb on things (especially Sam!)

 

Bailey, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Bailey this morning. Still in bed and that is normal. He looks good. He had a good nights sleep and today is a new day.

 

The books.  Here is what came into my home this week:

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Early Decision by Lacy Crawford

The Ship Of Brides by Jojo Moyes

No Longer and Not Yet by Joanna Clapps Herman  (a win!)

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae-Lee

 

There are the books.  I may read a bit this afternoon after I run the errands I meant to do yesterday.  I need to plan my outfit for Wine and Words and make sure I am ready to go as this week will be full steam ahead all the way to the event, and then next Saturday I am going to the cabin with our youngest son Justin for our annual summer hang out time.  It will be a crazy full week but a good one.

What are you doing with your Sunday?

 

Buried Memories by Irene Pence

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Texas 1985.  Police were led to believe that Fire Department Captain Jimmy Don Beets’ body was on the property of his wife, 48-year-old Betty Lou Beets.  Their search led to them finding the man’s body inside the wishing well carefully covered in a sleeping bag.  While tips and intuition paid off in this case… the police were in for a surprise.

Further down in the well, they found the body of Betty Lou’s fourth husband, who was claimed to have left her years before without a word and without his truck, Doyle Wayne Barker.

Now the police had a chilling realization.  The soft-spoken, petite blond woman who was adored by so many, was not who she portrayed herself to be.  In fact as they dug deeper into her past they found out a few things that apparently had missed their attention:

  • She had tried to run over her third husband with a car.
  • She had shot her second husband in the back (claiming self-defense)

While husbands two and three survived the outrageous attempts on their lives, as they now knew…. all were not so lucky.

Betty Lou Beets was sentenced to die by lethal injection and in February of 2000, she was the second woman to be executed in Texas since the Civil War.

 

 

 

I do have diverse tastes in my reading… and yes, for whatever reason I am drawn to the occasional true crime.  As in this case, often I have never heard about the crime prior to reading the book or listening to it on audio.  I am not someone who enjoys watching the news and I rarely take time to read the newspaper…. maybe that is why I am in the dark about many of these things.  I choose not to watch the news because I find so much about the state of our world to be sad and I can not put that on me day after day without becoming sad myself… yet occasionally, as in this story – I want to know what in the world happened and what in the world would cause someone to do what they did.  (Apparently I can take my true world crimes only in small doses and in my timing…. go figure. )

 

Buried Memories is narrated by George Newbern.  He has the ideal voice and tone for such a read.  The true story takes you back through Betty’s life as a young mom, and details about where she would meet her future husbands and what she looked for in a husband.  Betty’s formula was definitely premeditated.  She became known as the Texas Black Widow.  More heartbreaking, is the way she involved her son and daughter in her doings…  in one case, having her adult daughter come over and help her move the body.

A strange and powerful retelling of Betty’s horrifying crimes without being graphic or gory (two things that would have been deal breakers for me).

Readers of True Crime would appreciate this retelling of Betty’s troubled life and the psyche that led her to become the woman she was.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 15 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: July 16, 2014

 

 

Morning Meanderings: Learning Something New – Extracting Honey

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Happy Saturday!  Another week has flown by!  This week I have been working in my office on rewrites, research, a couple of days dedicated to the baskets for the auction next Friday prep,Book club and an author event, and I spent some time extracting honey.  Yup honey.

For this weeks Saturday Snapshot and Weekend Cooking I thought I would share some pictures of the amazing process of honey extracting.

My friend Amanda started raising bees a little over three years ago.  The fun thing about her story is that she is pretty much self taught between books (yay books!) she purchased at our local book store and You Tube Videos.  What started out as a hobby has grown into a full grown commercial bee business from rearing her own queens, splitting hives, providing bee nucs for other companies (pretty much a bee starter kit), pollinating almond trees in California – and of course producing and selling honey.

Her business, Buck’s Busy Bee’s has grown exponentially and as of this fall she will have over 2,000 hives.

A few months ago I was contracted to write her story for our local magazine Her Voice.  That article came out this week but unfortunately while in magazine format, has not yet been put on line so I am unable to link to it.

I have helped Amanda off and on through the years from going into the hives, to building the frames that go into the boxes they live in, to harvesting honey, and now most recently; extracting the honey.  When giving my notice recently to invest more time into the writing opportunities that are coming in, Amanda asked me if I would want to assist her with the bees when I am able to.

Uhhh…. YES.

I really do enjoy learning about the bees and this is the final push before the bees are trucked off to the warmer states – Florida and California where they will spend their days in the sun, probably in the next 5 weeks or so.  Amanda’s husband owns a trucking company so he takes the bees to their warmer destination as they do not do well in the cold Minnesota winters.  Lucky bees!

So here is the process:

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, s Busy Bees

This is a bee yard. Amanda has 53 of these around the area. They are secured with electric fencing to keep critters out such as bears. Each box holds 9 to 10 frames. The frames are where the bees make brood (babies!) and honey. When the frames become full, another crate is added to the top of the stack so they have more room to do their thing. If a hive remains full and no box is added, the bees can become frustrated (panic mode) and leave the hive as a swarm. It is important to keep them happy :)

 

Book journey, bucks busy bees, Amanda Buck, Sheila DeChantal

When the honey is harvested from the hives, it is loaded into boxes and then taken to the Honey House, a sanitized area that the honey will be processed in.

 

 

Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

The frames are now individually processed by using a special tool to gently scrape the capped honey. This loosens it up for the next step. Both sides of a frame will have honey on it.

 

Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

The frames now go into this great device that will spin the honey out of them. I am sure there are more technical terms… but this is the basics of what happens next!

 

 

Bucks Busy Bees, Sheila DeChantal, Amanda Buck, Book Journey

Here is the “Extractor” in all of its glory. I call it Dorothy because it reminds me of what they used in the movie Twister to put the little balls in the air to create read outs of tornado conditions.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Just a quick visual of Dorothy from the movie Twister…. ;)

 

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Bucks Busy Bees, Amanda Buck

Up close and personal – this is what it does. The honey runs out into these screened buckets. The screen captures all the wax and filters out the pure honey into the bucket. It takes approximately 30 minutes for “Dorothy” to spin out 10 to 12 frames.

 

Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Bucks Busy Bees, Amanda Buck

The next step (which I neglected to take a picture of) is pouring the honey from a bucket with a spout on it into assorted honey jars. That is what I helped with. The honey is prepped, then capped, and ready for sale.

 

Each host home, (a home that has given space for there to be hives on the property) will receive a case of honey as a thank you.  The rest of the honey will first go on sale at the Little Falls Craft Fair which is the 6th and 7th of September and after that what is left will be on sale on her website.

It really is a fascinating process and who knows… maybe someday I will write a book about bee keeping, or have a bee keeper character in it.  ;)

Stop by Buck’s Busy Bee’s on Facebook and like the page.  Giveaways are going to start on Monday on the Facebook page and winners will be drawn from the page likes :)

This post is a part of Saturday Snapshot where people all over the world post pictures of what they are doing, or what they have done in the past.  It’s great fun so pop on over to West Metro Mommy Reads and see what others are taking pictures of :)  I am also linking this to Weekend Cooking found over at Beth Fish Reads because this is kind of a foodie post too :)

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

1caaLauren Elliott dreams of being a bride but Todd, her boyfriend of many years avoids the subject like it is the plague.  When Lauren’s younger sister who is already married announces she is pregnant Lauren feels even more strongly that it is time to make moves towards what makes her happy, and that may very well mean moving on without Todd.

BethAnne Scranton is the happiest she has ever been in her life with her second husband Max.  He is everything a husband is supposed to be (caring, loving, passionate, a friend and companion) and everything her first husband was not.  The only thing not perfect is the fact that Max’s business is so far away he maintains a separate household and that seems to make BethAnne’s ex think there is room to wiggle back into her life.

Lydia Goetz owns the local yarn store called ‘A Good Yarn’.  She worries about her store and how to think of unique ways to bring in business… it seems however someone is secretly helping her with that.  Baskets of yarn and needles are showing up around the town with a message to knit a scarf and bring it into A Good Yarn where it will be donated to someone in need.  The yarn is all coming from Lydia’s shop… but who?  And why?  Although Lydia is not complaining as her business door is opening more and more to new customers.

How will these women’s lives intertwine?  Who’s relationships will survive the bumps? 

 

 

A long time ago I had dabbled in the Debbie Macomber series, Cedar Cove.  I loved how each book was a street address and you learned about the people who lived at that address and their association with the others in the town.  Then the next book would be a different address and from that person’s perspective in the same town.  Really, it is a brilliant series.  As my reading expanded, Debbie Macomber and Cedar Cove were put aside for other books, and I never did find my way back to Cedar Cove, or for that matter, to Debbie Macomber.

Until now.

On a whim…. this book, Blossom Street Brides sounded kind of light and fun, and just the right audio length to hold my attention during the beautiful summer drives.  And… I was right.

Blossom Street Brides is a sweet read centered around three women and their relationships with spouses, boyfriends, and children.  While romance reading has never been a “go to” genre for me, Macomber never lays it on thiick so I am able to enjoy her smooth style of an engaging storyline.  There are a couple of happenings in the book that made the independent woman in me think “oh come on!”, but over all putting reality aside, I found enjoyment in the read.

Going into this book, I did not realize it was part of a series until I finished it, but I never felt I was missing any previous information.  I listened to this one on audio with Cassandra Campbell as the narrator and I enjoyed it.

Fans of Macomber will enjoy this fun look into the three women’s lives.

 

  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 59 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: March 25, 2014
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