Author Archives: Sheila (Book Journey)

Morning Meanderings…. ESCAPE. Renew. Do It Again.



Another day.

I am looking out my window this morning.  If you don’t look at the ground (which I can not see from my spot at the kitchen table) it looks like fall.  Blue skies.  Crispy leaves still hanging on the trees.  I can not see the frost on the grass from this spot and I like that.  Let’s keep believing winter is not coming.  SO far…. that has worked.

One thing for certain – no matter what is going on in someone’s life – whatever heartbreaks they are enduring or mountains they are struggling with …. the sun does rise every single day.

Today I am leaving for our cabin.  I am taking a mini break to clear my head from the past 7 months and prepare for the next big upcoming holiday that sits ever present at the corners of my mind.  I have not spent any time really alone through all of this and I feel that I need to do a little of that.  Later today my friend Belinda will join me until Tuesday and possibly Farrah.  I hope if it is not too cold to do a little hiking, a camp fire, hang out, watch movies…  another friend may join in at some time as well.  When they leave I will spend time reading, writing, and BREATHING.  I am not sure how many days I will do that but plan to stay until Thursday or Friday.  Maybe Saturday….


Recently when looking for audio to download I thought I wanted something non fiction.  I do love a good non fiction listen.  Yet when I went on Audible nothing was catching my attention in that genre.  Instead… I went a different route and chose these two:


Both of these books on audio were excellent!  In If You Only Knew,  letting go of her ex-husband turned out to be harder than Jenny thought it would be – especially when the ex’s new wife is sweet and adorable and wants to be Jenny’s best friend.  When Jenny moves into a new apartment to open her own business she finds she has her hands full with her sisters marriage problems, her mother’s constant undermining, and oh yeah… the good looking guy downstairs.

With After I Do, after a fairy tale like romance Lauren is stunned when Ryan says he needs time apart from her.  She is further shocked when he says he wants a year apart and no contact to see where they are at.  Burying herself in her work and family activities to keep her mind off Ryan, Lauren learns things about herself she did not know were there.

I plan on chatting about them over the next couple of days – but seriously, if you are looking for fun audio – these were great.  now…. I want more like this.  Great audio listening is a good way to keep my mind busy while doing other things.

That’s my Sunday.  I am out – ROAD TRIP means audio. Got to like that. ;)

A Book Club, A Review, and Talking about FOOD!


Ahhh…. a post about one of my favorite subjects.  Well, two really….. books and my book club “The AMAZING Bookies”… ok, they are really just called the Bookies but you know… I love them.  I would take a punch for them.

A couple of weeks ago we met at a restaurant to discuss the book Delicious by Ruth Reichl.  I had read and reviewed this book two years ago and LOVED it then and was so excited to have my book club choose it for our November read.  Ruth Reicht used to be a food critic for the New York Times.  She writes about this in the highly recommended read, Garlic and Sapphires (another one my book club read and boy did we have fin with that review!)

Delicious is Ruth Reichl’s first dab into fiction.  It is about a young girl who takes a job at a magazine called Delicious.  When the magazine goes under, she is kept on the payroll for an additional year to handle the guarantee hot line that Delicious offered to its readers.  Yet Delicious is so much more than that…. it is about that – it is about taste, and smell, hidden rooms, secret recipes, relationships, friendships, and more.


The Bookies the night of our review.  We were only missing one.  We had to take a couple of pictures since I asked our waitress several times if she would take a group picture of us and – well… we did it ourselves.  :)


We rarely go out to restaurants any more.  We usually meet in homes due to the size of our group and that we do not want our discussion to be a distraction to other diners (ie… loud voices, laughter, difference of opinions, topics of discussion depending on the book….) however this restaurant had a large private room that we could close the door to.  The food was well…. Delicious, which is what we were going for.  I had a mushroom pasta that made me want to try to duplicate it at home:


Another sweet thing about this room that we were in is that they hang books from the ceiling.  SOOOOO COOL.  I thought I had taken a good picture of the ceiling but I guess I did not, however in the below pic you can see some of them hanging.


To take this discussion to the next level we all shared a recipe that was a favorite.  We were suppose to make copies for everyone and share why that recipe had special meaning to each of us.  I LOVED this part of our discussion.  It was a common theme as we went around the room that each of the recipes had connections to family somehow – either a tradition, a wedding or a funeral…. there was something special about each related to the food.  I shared my white chicken chili recipe which was one of Justin’s favorites.  If he was coming into town and I asked him what he would like for dinner, this one was almost always on his list.


Over all, the Bookies game Delicious a slightly above average rating.  Some of us (like me!) loved it.  A few found it too spread out – several story lines between the hidden messages, underground railroad, etc… left them feeling there was too much going on, some found it predictable.  No matter what we each thought, the book lead to a wonderful discussion.


What Makes Delicious A Good Book Club Choice?

There is much to discussion in Delicious.  If your group enjoys food that goes with the book, this is a winner.  The food described in this book is so mouth-watering (the cake discussed will be at our Bookies Christmas party this year).

Between sharing recipes, talking about how the book mirrors Ruth Reichl’s real life (yes some of the things in this book actually did happen to the author!), the underground railroad connection, your group will be able to have a lively discussion.

Discussion group questions (as found at LitLovers)


I am connecting this discussion to both Saturday Snapshot and Weekend Cooking.

Morning Meanderings…and then there were four


A week ago I posted about a book club sort of thing that my aunt and I have connected over.   Basically it started as visiting and coffee but our conversation led to books and I have been feeding her books I think she will enjoy and I so enjoy talking with her about the books once she has read them.

I am so excited about this common connection over books.  It made me realize that there are a lot of dormant readers out there that just need the right book and the right person to connect them to the book to awaken that love of reading.  A few months ago I did not know my aunt used to be a reader.  Now, she is one again.

Last Friday my Aunt invited me over for lunch.  I knew she was also inviting a couple of the neighborhood ladies, one who was a very good friend of my mom’s (Helen),and an older lady (Jan) I had not met yet even though she is my neighbor and has lived in that house for almost two years.


While preparing for the lunch I grabbed a few books to share with my Aunt.  We had recently talked on the phone and I had told her my love for the book Delancey.  I also talked to her about the book ROOM and how it was about to become a movie.  I had two copies of ROOM so I grabbed them both in case Helen would like to read it as well.

After lunch I pulled out the books that I brought and much to my surprise, both Helen and Jan were chatting books as well.  Helen took the additional copy of ROOM as well as Gone Girl which my Aunt had just finished.  Jan showed an interest in the book Winter Street and I talked to her about what she liked to read.

I told them all about the post I had written about the book club of two and how exciting it was to have people in our neighborhood to talk books with.  We joked about how the book club had now become four.

I believe the biggest kick I am getting out of this is that how easy it was to connect to others through books.  I guess I should not be surprised- isn’t that what we all do here?

I mentioned before as I process through this I have something in the planning that I am still thinking through bit for now, I extend a small challenge to you.  As you go about the holiday weekend, where ever you go – or whoever you see… I challenge you to bring along a book that you love and share with someone that book.  Even if (especially if) they are not big readers.  I would love to hear what happens.

The Residence by Kate Andersen Brower (BEST of 2015)



We all see the First Families as they go about what they do on TV.  Speeches and events, there to celebrate triumphs and stand tall when the world has been shaken to it’s core…

The Residence gives us a peek into what we do not see. Told from the point of views of those who have worked in the White House, maids, cooks, butlers, florists, doormen and more share their stories of what it is like to work for the First Family.

Who makes their own bed in the morning, or insists on monitoring every meal, who watched personal expenses closely, and who frivolously needed fresh flowers in every room daily.  What have these people seen through the years of working for the Presidents and their families?  What stories will warm your heart and which ones will make you sad or shocked?


I absolutely devoured this book.  I listened to it on audio and so enjoyed the narration by Karen White.  Beautifully spoken each story was so interesting.  Author Kate Andersen Brower shares the stories of those who spoke to her about their time working in the White House. Everything from the Kennedy Assassination and who stood alongside Jackie Kennedy as she came back home that evening still wearing the blood stained dress to Nixon’s resignation and how the Clinton household functioned during his impeachment.  This book is a side to the stories you have never heard before, quite literally an inside scoop.

While one may think this may read like tabloid tell all, it does not.  The Residence is a tasteful close up on the First families in good time and in bad.  I learned so much while listening to this book.  Highly recommended.


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 16 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • Release Date: April 7, 2015


Morning Meanderings… I Renounce My Review Status


Tuesday.  23 degrees in Central Minnesota and nice out.  I know to some around the globe that is cold, but to us Minnesotan’s that is t-shirt weather.

WordPress is annoying me this morning with a new format.  GAH.  Liked the old one and this post has taken a painful amount of time while I figure out (AGAIN) where to upload the picture, how to link it, etc….

I think it was last week I was all like “Yeah, I am soooo going to catch up on writing reviews!  I am on it!”  And then….


I can not even explain what happens these days where I believe I am absolutely going to get something done and then the day slips away and I do not know where it went or why I never did what I said I was going to do.  It is not only here, it is in everything I attempt to do – I have a plan…. plan fizzles.

Today however as I look at the list of books I have yet to review and fear there are some missing that I can not even recall that I read let alone reviewed, I want to renounce that review status and come back to really chatting about books.  REALLY.


Here is what I need to review:


Yeah.  I look at these books and I want to tell you about them.  Some I am so surprised I have not reviewed yet because I GUSHED about them in my head as I read.  One for sure here is a best of 2015 for me.  One is a huh… I don’t get the hype.  I would say at least three here are a must read.

So reviews… I will write.  (Yes, Yoda style)

On another sweet note (I really love sweet notes!) my order came in yesterday as I had mentioned and hoped….so what is it?


It is a new GPS watch the Garmin 220.  I treated myself to the covetted watch as a way to (hopefully) get a little motivated.  I have spent the last 7 months shutting down and I am struggling to find the motivation to get back on track with healthy habits.  I was doing great at the beginning of the year and I want to slowly work my way back to taking walks, hiking, running, whatever….  This watch sets to my specifics, keeps track of heart rate, plans work outs, lets you know personal bests, uploads your workout to a site where you can keep track of your progress, etc….  I will keep you updated.

Off now to write a review – YES.  REALLY.  Trying to make lunch plans with my son Brad, and I hope to set up my watch to take out on a maiden voyage ….  roads are dry, maybe I will go on a bike ride.


It’s Monday and I Need Some Advice From The Readers


Brief disclaimer….  It’s Monday What Are You Reading has moved from me to Kathryn at Book Date.  She is rocking this so please definitely go and check out how awesome she is and keep on sharing your reading! 


For me… I am not reading.  Or I guess I could say I am… but not making progress.  Same book as last week, same audio…. a quick visual refresher:


Becoming Steve Jobs (my fascination with all things Jobs) is so interesting.  A road trip to the cabin later this week will certainly put a healthy dent in this audio book.  Wildalone is also interesting and my cabin time will certainly finish this one as well and I expect allow me to start others.


the real reason I am writing this post today is that I need a little assistance from those of you who use e-readers more frequently than I do  (I have one.  I think I know where it is.)  A friend of mine from High School asked me this question via Facebook this morning:

Dear Sheila, Being your friend on Facebook, I am aware that you are an avid book reader. I have an idea that may solve my gift giving dilemma indefinitely for one or two of my toughest recipients, and in pursuit of that notion I would like to take advantage of your knowledge and opinions as such. I would like to gift an enrollment in a book of the month club for e-books. I have leaned of a few “streaming” services that offer unlimited reading, but that offer no guidance in choosing the books -and I think that’s the best part. And there is one ‘of the month club’ that offers this that I keep running into, but there catalog seems small. If I have to, I will give the Amazon unlimited thing along with a subscription to a BOMC community newsletter or forum.

So there it is.  He specifically said no need to research yet now that the question has presented itself, I feel it is one that perhaps others have thoughts on – or may like to know as well.  I have never used an e book of the month subscription but I bet some of you do or have.  So the question stands as…

1.  What is the best service to consider?

2.  Are there ones to avoid?

Any feedback on what makes them awesome or not so much would be wonderful

That’s all for today.  I have a lunch date with a friend that I am looking forward to and other than that I will be working on a few projects this week for the Library. Pretty low key and I think that is about where I need to be right now, this week especially.  Oh – and I am expecting an exciting delivery today that hopefully will start a whole new conversation here, one that I used to do frequently but rather fell away…. more on that soon.

Happy Monday all!


Morning Meanderings… Life Is Hard.


It looks like snow weather this morning.  The skies are hazy.  The ground is still covered with morning frost as I type from the comfort of my warm home with a delicious cup of coffee within reach.

Life Is Hard.

I can feel the presence of the upcoming holiday.  My mind flashes to “Thanksgiving Past” with the boys and lots of food and board games and movies.  This is about the time I would be sending out the group text for Brad and Justin to tell me what they wanted.  Inevitably there would be requests for shrimp cocktail, blue cheese and grape salad,  mashed potatoes….  last year Justin and I were destroying the kitchen making 25 pumpkin rolls for friends and family…. there was powdered sugar everywhere…

instead I am planning on how to get through it with the least emotional damage as possible.

Cursing the pilgrims has become a daily ritual.

And today is a good friend of mine’s father’s birthday.  Her father passed away a couple of months ago and I know today is one of those days for her as well…. a day of reflection mixed with loss.  And the list of those who have lost this year, or past years where holidays are just HARD is endless.  I know.

Last night I had a little mini break.

A group of us went out for what was called the “best Bloody Mary” in the area…  more important than the draw of the drink – was of course the people.  I spend most of my time at home now and getting out is good for me as I fear that someday I will just become socially awkward.  Perhaps… I already have.  ;)


I only stayed a couple of hours but it was nice just to be with friends.  Around that group there was other loss… other struggles and we all just needed a moment to laugh, to share.

Today. I am making white chicken chili for the Library decorating group that is meeting at noon to give the library a holiday feel.  I am also making calico beans for the football game later where we will go to a friends home and eat good food and watch the game.  (Well… some will watch the game… I am going more for the chance to hang out with friends).

And isn’t that life?

It is hard.  Every single day. But… as a friend told me recently… I am doing it.  I get up every morning and while that may not seen like a big accomplishment.  It is.  I take the little victory’s along the way.




P.S.  In case someone is curious about the bloody mary.  I don’t know if it was “the best” but it was very good and sure came with an impressive array of goodies which is really the sell for me.  Shrimp, salami, pepperoni, pickled mushroom, green olive, black olive, artichoke, peppercini, asparagas, carrot, cocktail onion, green bean, sweet pickle – even an orange slice!

Morning Meanderings…. Oh, The Weather Outside is FRIGHTFUL


I woke up this morning to this:


A few of days ago it was this…


but now… THIS


It is cold and windy too.


I knew it was coming… I just really liked my fiction Minnesota world where perhaps there would be no snow this year.  I could have a green winter – in fact, I wouldn’t even call it Winter…. I think I would call it Swinter.  A summery end of the year would have been nice.  Green grass…  grilling… sitting at the fire pit.


since apparently this is going to happen I need to keep ahead of this.  Today I plan to clean up the “beensittingtoolongand inneedoflove” book room.  The books I purchased at the Fall Library sale are still not put away.


The book room today and reviews.  I knew I was behind on reviews…. I didn’t realize how far behind.  I went to link a review I wrote yesterday and realized I never wrote the review.  In fact, I am afraid to say that there are some books that probably will not get reviewed because honestly I have forgotten that I read them. :shock: I started a list this morning of the ones I can recall and thankfully Audible keeps a record of everything I have listened too.  I am hoping to take some time this afternoon and write out the reviews and prep them for posting.  If that actually happens… we will have a stream of reviews happening here over the next couple of weeks.

I would like that.

SO today is catch up and clean up.  Tomorrow and through the weekend my agenda picks up so this is the day to get er done.

Happy Thursday all.  How is your weather holding?


Morning Meanderings…. The Best Books of 2015. Huh. You Might Need To Tell Me.


More rain here in Central Minnesota.  While I do have a few more yard things to attend to…. I am still thankful for the rain over snow.  I am never ready for snow and even more so this year.

I don’t think I have ever felt more out of the loop on what are the best of the best when it comes to books for 2015. I have not stayed on top of reading the great blogs that I enjoy or following up on the It’s Monday meme to see what everyone is reading.  I have tried looking up best of the best on line and you can find many on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble, Publisher Weekly… etc, but interestingly enough… they all seem to have their own lists of what is considered the best.

Here are a few that I found to be showing up consistently….


The Girl On The Train was released in January 2015.  It was said to be “The next Gone Girl” and for that reason my interest was peaked… the book has an interesting synopsis referring to a woman who witnesses something while riding on the train.  I read it.  To put it lightly… I was not a fan.  I was a not a fan to such a degree…. I went on to rant about it a bit on a post I called Girl Fight!  Where I discussed why Amy from Gone Girl could take Rachel from Girl On The Train in a fight.  It was a passionate post and one I discovered reading it again now… it was fun to see that old passion in me.




Released in February of 2015, Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale has been a book I have heard much about but have not gone there myself.  This aversion I seen to have about WWII reads has got to stop as I know I am mission out on several great titles that I have yet to read (Unbroken included).






The Wright Brothers became available in May of 2015.  This is one that I would like to read.  I love non fiction and seeing this one of best of the best lists keeps this one on my “hope to read” list.






Between The Worlds and Me released July 2015.  Has anyone read this?  It sounds interesting.







Dead Wake by Erik Larson released in March 2015.  I really enjoyed this one and just discovered I never reviewed it.  (I have a LOT of review to catch up on).  I have enjoyed everything I have read by this author.




I know there are so many more.

Have you read any of these? If so do you agree that these books are the best of the best?  What books of 2015 am I missing?


Today I am cleaning up around the house and working on a few projects. Tonight I have the City Library Board meeting but for the most part it is a quiet day here which I am thankful for the time to just be quiet in my spirit.  Enjoy your day and I wish for you time as well to just…. BE.


Morning Meanderings…. A Two Person Book Club


It’s raining here in central Minnesota.  I have the back door to the deck open so I can listen to it.  It is almost soothing and makes me think that this is good reading weather.

My Mom’s sister, my Aunt and I have become closer over these hard months of impossible change.  She lives just a few homes down from us and she has been very kind by visiting often, calling to check in, and just being there in general.  In the early months she would always come to me, and now that I venture out a little more… I stop by to see her.  We have coffee, occasionally I will bring her something I have made like white chicken chili, soup, or apple pie… (to this day I still cook too much food for Al and I).  We will chat about life happenings, memories, and surprisingly….


I did not know my Aunt was a reader.  In all honestly – I am not sure she knew she was one either.  This summer she had knee surgery so I put together a care basket for her knowing she would not be able to do much for 6-8 weeks.  I put together magazines, coffee, chocolates, Kind bars, hand lotion, movies, and of course books to pass the time.   I had no idea what she would like to read if she did read so I guessed…

my original delivery consisted of:


When she finished those and gushed over Mary Kay Andrews I sent her home with these…


Success again….  and we were talking books at our weekly get togethers either on the phone or at one another’s home. So then I went with more discussion worthy reading…


She loved the Help and is currently reading Gone Girl which I have told her to call me when it goes crazy and assured her… she would know when that was. ;)

I find many things very satisfying about our time together.  One…. obviously it is nice to connect and I value the time I have with her.  Two…. I love the idea that it really only takes two to make a book club (my Bookies Book Club started with 3). I also very much am aware that in a time when statistics say that reading books is on the decline due to the increase in the use of technology through our phones and having movies/video games and pretty much anything at our fingertips 24/7…. I find it both enlightening and positive to think that many of us, like my Aunt… had forgotten their enjoyment of digging into a good book.  It just took another book lover to show them the way.

Anything is possible.

I know… there is another post in there somewhere…



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