ARMADA by Ernest Cline


Zach Lightman takes after the father he has never known…. he is a gamer.  Living alone with his mother, when he is not at school he loves to hang out on line playing war games with his friends.  Escaping the reality of his own world while listening to loud 80’s jams is the ultimate way to complete a day.

Then, one day while looking out the window of his classroom he sees it.  “It” being a space ship.  Actually it looks a lot like a war ship much like the ones that he flies when playing the game Armada with his buddies.  But that can’t be right.  Clearly he needs to start getting more sleep.

Until… that space ship opens and the person who comes out of it calls Zach’s name.


Turns out there is a very real war being battled, has been being battled for decades and now Zach is being called upon to help save the earth.  Save his mothers life, his friends, and work to keep civilization going as we know it.

But Zach is just a teenager…. what can he possibly have to offer?




Full on geek on.  When I first heard that Ernest Cline had a new book coming out I went coo coo for cocoa puffs.  I adored his book Ready Player One.  I read it and I listened to it on audio.  Three times.  Yes, three times.  I quickly checked the audio version and had a double victory lap when I seen that it was indeed Wil Wheaton doing the narration.

Seriously, Will Wheaton could read the back of a cereal box to me and make it sound interesting.

As soon as (and I mean AS SOON AS) this book was released I downloaded the audio and began my adventure into audio.  Let me say this…  if you do listen to audio, even if you just dabble occasionally, audio is the way to go with this one (and Ready Player One for that matter but again I digress).

I enjoyed Armada on audio, not as much as I enjoyed Ready Player One but it was still a good listen.  Armada is a much stronger war game book (not my thing) as opposed to Ready Player One being more of a strategy game… absolutely my thing.  Also, Ready Player One’s awesome references to 80’s music, movies,and games made me giddy.  I know,  know… I really need to quit talking about Ready Player One.  Did you hear it is going to be a movie?  Ok, I will stop.

Armada is a good strong listen.  Although as I mentioned I am not much on war games, Will Wheaton’s animated narration brought the story to life for me.  What I didn’t think I would get… I got.  In the end, the message is an impressive one… something I did not see coming.

I have heard mixed grumbles on this one but I for one enjoyed having Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton match up again.  Any time those two are brought together – I am in.

All in.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 58 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: July 14, 2015


Morning Meanderings… So, About That Bookish Connection


“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

~Alice IN Wonderland

Where oh where have I been?

It is a great question…

As I mentioned on Saturday my good friend Connie has passed away.  This bit of events put me in a tailspin of activity. On Saturday we started the Meal Train.  That evening we spent time with friends at a cook out.  Sunday friends came into town to help me with the plans for the upcoming bike ride (July 25th-26th), Monday we had the visitation, Tuesday the funeral, Wednesday the burial…  and in-between all of that library meetings, Bike Ride prep, Wine and Words planning….


So when I received an email from my bookish friend Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and roommate year one of the Book Expo, that she was coming to my home town and could we do dinner on Tuesday – I immediately said yes.

Of course… when I said yes, I was exhausted, and thought she meant next Tuesday…..  ;)

When Tuesday afternoon rolled around and I received a text from Kim that she was on her way I had to really think about what to do.  It was the day of the funeral.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I had come home around 2 pm, put on my yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt and took a nap. I had no intention of going out again and was looking forward to grilling with my hubby as I had not seen him the last two days.

But… I also really wanted to see Kim.

I counter offered, explained my mix up and asked if it would be possible to do breakfast or supper on Wednesday instead.  Breakfast it was.


Left: Me and Kim

It was great seeing her again.  We talked about books – or for both of us lately, lack there of….  audio (which we both love), we exchanges titles that we enjoyed and just caught up on life.

A cool bonus to this whole Blogging experience is that you can find friends in almost any state.  Since l met Kim in 2010 when she was one of my roommates for the Book Expo, we have connected on other events as well, and yesterdays meet up was awesome.

Today – I am hoping to keep life to a low simmer.  I have a BIG weekend coming up with the camp ride for Connie.  Tomorrow we will run around and get all the final details in place.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Let’s Talk About The Queen


I love this picture.  This is my book club this past Tuesday after we had a great potluck dinner, talked books, and had our Queen event.  We look happy.  We look fun.

Even me.

Every July for the past hmmmmm… I don’t know how many years, we have had a Queen event.  We dress up, we perform a talent (or not) and say why we would make a good Queen of the Book Club.  It is all in fun, the Queen really only comes into play when we have a tie on books to read or when we can’t decide where to meet.

This year I went back and forth.  Do I participate?  I didn’t want to.  I wanted to wear Capri’s and a t-shirt and take pictures.  They would have understood.  Yet I knew that Justin would be so sad to know I changed how I did life so I instead put on a prom dress, a little princess crown, looked up and said, “This is for you kid.”

Off to be a Queen participant….


Why is my head so freakishly small?

It was a good time.  We were at my friend Lori’s home.  We discussed the books we had read last month (free read month) and then had our event.  My “talent” was a story about a girl who decided to create a book club so she could expand on her reading.  I ended the story with how after many years the group became so big they had to limit how many came and how close all the Bookies became to one another.  Friends.  Other talents were, speeches, songs, mime, a quiz, and even a violin playing rendition to The Devil Went Down To Georgia.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Our Queen for 2015-2016 is Brenda.  If you look closely at her beautiful white dress you will see that the top (and along the bottom) is made from a book.  She will be a wonderful Queen.



A few of us had a little “after party” at a nearby pub… an ongoing tradition after the Queen event. After you are all dressed up – you should have somewhere to go. ;)

Morning Meanderings…. Words Are Sometimes Not Enough


I almost want to say, “welcome to the sad/depressing blog Book Journey.  I may or may not talk about books.  I will be your host today.”


I last posted on Thursday morning talking about the business of life even when the last thing you want to be is busy – the “to do’s” are still there.  Shortly after I posted, I was making muffins to take to the hospital to see my friend Connie when I received the call.

Connie had passed away peacefully in the night.

There are moments in our life when the world seems to stand still.  That moment would be one of them.  Everything became quiet as I absorbed the loss.

Another loss.

Another big one.

Even though we knew it was coming, it is still difficult to take in.  And suddenly – my busy post –

didn’t matter.

Instead I spent my day trying to help out the family where I could.  Putting together a meal train, being available for whatever and putting to use what I have learned about grief these past few months into action.  My son… and now my friend….

my heart stacks the grief on grief.


Left to right: Nancy, my son Justin, and Connie at last years Wine and Words event in August. It is so crazy to have two of the three gone.


I really do plan to talk about something fun one of these days soon.  I have reviews to write, I have the Queen Event to share.  Not all in my life is overwhelmingly sad, there are small breaks of happiness.  Happy actually seems to strong a word.  Maybe thankfulness is better… when I am surrounded by good friends, sharing what should be a good time, and knowing that I am surrounded by angels…

in Heaven as well as on earth.

Enjoy this weekend.  We will be at a friend’s house this evening grilling and planning a trip in January that at this time I have no interest in whatsoever but trying to find a way to move a bit forward in the tiniest of ways.  Tomorrow I will start working on the baskets for Wine and Words with my friend Gail,and then next week will be filled with things every day as I celebrate my friend’s life early in the week and by the end of the week take part in a two-day bike ride raising money for the non profit she loved, Camp Benedict in her honor.

Life keeps on moving.  There is a new layer to me that sees how fragile everything is.  Love unconditionally.  See the good in everyone and everything.  My friend Connie had that gift.  So did my son Justin.

Morning Meanderings… I Didn’t Mean To Go ______________________


Good morning.

I didn’t mean to go….




Under cover?

I don’t know.  I guess I just didn’t mean to go.

The past two weeks have been so out of my control that I am just doing what I have to do to get through the days.  With two large events just around the corner I am trying hard to find balance.  You throw in the mix my friend Connie, a big storm that requires clean up attention, commitments, people I need to want to spend time with, and my own grief….

and yeah. 

Just trying to get through it.

And so – with all of that, I find I do not get here – HERE as much as I would like.  I am still not firing on all cylinders which makes all of these things that I could normally handle feel heavy and hard to do just the easiest of tasks.  I am so easily…


Yesterday and today I have tried hard to slow down.  I have had things I had to do every day and I am feeling the strain on putting my grief to the side to get things done.  For the record, I have discovered that does not work well… it exhausts me and leaves me pretty nonfunctional come the end of the day.  Tomorrow my “to do’s” bump up again, the weekend is full of activity and next week…

I don’t even want to think about next week.


1I do have posts to write.  I have a couple of audio I have finished and just downloaded Armada this morning which I am SUPER EXCITED about.  We also had the Bookies Queen event this week which took a lot of energy but I am so glad I participated.  L♥ve this group of gals.  I will write a post up all about that – maybe today.


Just a sample from the Tuesday Bookies Queen event

That’s it for this morning.  I have a few things itching at the corners of my brain reminding me I need to do them… and I do, so off I go.  Enjoy THIS day.


Morning Meanderings… Day 100. Really?


Imagine taking all your emotions – everything you could possibly feel and putting them in a blender.

That’s the way I feel.

I can not even believe it has been 100 days since I lost my beautiful son.  It is a crazy mixed up world we live in and I struggle daily trying to find my fit in it – the commitments, the want to’s, the things I say “Yeah!  I want to do that!” when the old me peaks out for a second and then later I am horrified that I agreed to do something that I know is too much for me to take on.

I am up.  I am down.

I am mostly down.

After my last post about my friend Connie my emotional gauge has been off the charts.  I do what I need to do to get through the day.  I make the connections I need to and when the day is done I am home, exhausted physically and emotionally, a bundle of mixed feelings – glad I accomplished something… overwhelming sadness lying just under the surface, tired… so tired.

Connie, as of this morning is the same.  I will stop by this morning and check on her.  Yesterday we ran the Color Run for Justin.  is team that he started working on in March.  We finished it and 21 of us ran the 5k in Justins memory.  As you can imagine it was an amazing and horrible thing all rolled into one.  I am so thankful for his friends and mine, so glad that they pushed on to do this – and so sad knowing Justin would have been amazed at the friends who gathered to run for him.  Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind… it is ridiculous that I am typing such a thing and he is gone.

Color Run St Paul, Shine, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team before the run

Book Journey, Color Run St Paul, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team after the run

Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price, Book JOurney, Color Run St Paul

My friend Amy and me

and then last night…. a big storm hit Minnesota:


I love this tree.  I have a sweet pic of the boys climbing up in it when they were young.  I think we can save part of it and I hope it will grow back again.


Still here.

Morning Meanderings…. I Am Listening


Good morning.

Thursday already.  I feel like this week has been a cluster of activity that fits in so many different areas of my life that I feel like it is a box of puzzle pieces that have been dumped on the table to sort, turn, and try to find their place.


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, my good friend Connie is in the hospital for what looks to be the last time. I have been spending time with her usually twice a day morning and evening.  Between that I am working on my house projects, company, commitments, and two three events coming up fast – the Color Run, the Camp Bike Ride and Wine and Words shortly after.  I definitely feel whelmed all the while with my own grief just bubbling below the surface.

I have been too tired to read lately although I do try.  The same book has followed me from the bed stand to the living room several times throughout each day but I never get to opening it.  I have been listening to audio while working in the yard, mowing the lawn, and writing addresses on cards I need to mail.

I am anxious for life to slow down again.


Movie: Jurassic World

Jurassic world, Book Journey

On July 4th Al and I were keeping our day pretty low key.  We stayed close to home and then in the afternoon decided to go and check out the movie Jurassic World.  I grew up around the Jurassic movies and remember the excitement of imaging that such a park could exist and of course, the implications around having such a park exist.


We really enjoyed the movie.  It was like the next generation of Jurassic Park.  They were trying again to create the park that once failed all those years ago.  Now they were trying to keep up with the ever changing demands of this world – not just wanting to see a dinosaur… but a bigger, scarier, dinosaur then ever seen before.

Super sizing is not always the way to go.

It’s actually a great idea and an apparent win (according to an article I read this morning the movie is well on its way to becoming one of the biggest movies of all time).  Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are pretty amazing in their roles.  Chris playing Owen, the “Raptor whisperer” with the smoking good looks and kick ass attitude, and Bryce playing Claire a stuffy over achiever who is all about her job and has little time for anything or anyone else.

If you get the chance – see this one at the theater for the BIG screen feel.  We went to the 3D version (mainly due to the timing) and found it to be well done.

Morning Meanderings… Each Day Is Precious


What a weekend.

Originally I was supposed to go to the cabin on Sunday with my good friend Belinda and we were going to hang out and bike until Tuesday afternoon.  I freed up my schedule and thought it would be a nice little break.  When Mater had surgery on Wednesday the plans changed as I had “dog care duties” and instead I invited Belinda to come hang out with me here in Brainerd and we could bike around here, grill, and maybe have use the fire pit.

Sunday morning (my last meandering post) I was out delivering strawberry cobbler to the neighbors when I received the call.  My good friend Connie had been struggling with her health all year and it seems that things were taking a turn for the worst.  Friends and family were asked to come to the hospital to see her.

Life changes on the drop of a dime.

Connie Statz, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey

Connie and I at a banquet fund raiser

I went to the hospital on Sunday and my friend Belinda who also knows Connie met me there.  I was there two hours holding Connie’s hand and just being with her and her family.  Yesterday I went in the morning and again in the evening.  This morning I plan to go again.

Connie has been an amazing part of my life these past 5 years.  I learned much from this strong-willed, big-hearted woman and wish now I could take away all her pain.

The weekend clearly did not go as planned, but what really does?  Instead Belinda and I offered a place for people to gather and stay if they wished as they visited Connie because my home is about 3 miles form the hospital.  We cooked, we cleaned, we hung out on the deck talking with friends.

Today Belinda heads back home.  I have my lawn to mow.  A little audio listening. A mailing to finish.  perhaps a little flower planting project I have my eye on.  2015 has been a hard year for many.  I am emotionally exhausted in my own personal grief as well as my grief for my dear friend.

Fat Chance by Nick Spalding


Once you listen to this audio sample you know that this book is going to be a funny take on losing weight as a middle age couple takes a challenge (and journals all about it) for a chance to win $50,000.  Truly brilliant and fun.  ~Sheila

Zoe and Greg Milton were quite the good looking couple. Zoe the stunner turned heads wherever she went.  Greg was toned from all the rugby he played.

Of course…

that was many years ago.

Decades later Zoe has added 5 stone (70 pounds) to her frame and Greg more than that thanks to a more relaxed lifestyle, good cooking and many beers.

When Zoe’s best friend Elsie who works at  radio station tells Zoe about a competition they will be sponsoring called Fat Chance, Zoe is appalled that Elsie though of her and Greg.  When Zoe hears that the winner “biggest losers” of the competition win $50,000… she is not so appalled; after all she and Greg did need to lose some weight….

And so begins the 6 month competition that Zoe and Greg journal (part of the competition rules)…. through thick and hopefully thin, through bad diets and poor work out choices…. to the final weigh in.

I had read somewhere that this audio was hilarious.  Listening to the audible sample, I had to agree.  When you take a couple who have become quite stagnant in their ways and offer a nice prize package to change the habits… life can get interesting.  I loved the personal journal entries from Zoe’s funny results with the Cabbage Soup Diet to Greg’s hilarious attempts with work out fads.

Fat Chance is a fun story line with realistic weight battles.  It was a lot of fun to listen to.  I admit, I had to look up on-line how many pounds equaled a stone and the answer is 14 pounds.   See?  I learned something.  Bring on Jeopardy.

I really enjoyed this listen.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 38 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Release Date: October 7, 2014



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