Author Archives: Sheila (Book Journey)
Saturday morning. Saturday has always been my favorite day of the week. When I was younger it was the day of no school (and no school the next day to worry about!) and when I grew up (term used loosely) it was the day off of work, home with my kids, and no work or school the next day. Now I still like Saturdays. They have become the day that Al and I usually go out for a while in the late afternoon to a movie or for appetizers, or to some other adventure. I like that we take the time to connect when even now with me at home, we still are busy running in different directions during the week.
This past Tuesday our book club met for the review of The Life We Bury. There are many things I adore about our book club and the little extras we do really make me smile. With the protagonist being from Austin Minnesota, the home of SPAM, we had some fun. Here are a couple of recipes that you could use when you read the book, or just because you are fascinated with meat in a can like I am. :) I am posting these recipes for weekend cooking.
You will need:
a package of Hawaiian rolls
a can of SPAM
a package of Swiss Cheese slices
a tasty mustard
Set over temp to 350 degrees. Open up each Hawaiian roll and lightly butter. Slice SPAM into 1/4 inch slices and place one slice on each roll. slice in half of fourths (depending on your cheese size) the Swiss cheese and place a slice on each roll on the spam. Add a little slice of onion, optional. Place all rolls in a 13 x 9 cake pan and place in oven until cheese is melted and sandwich is hot to the touch – 7 to 10 minutes. Serve hot with the mustard or mayo. Great for a movie night or any gathering.
I personally was surprised that I liked these. I have SPAM memories as a kid and I think that was the last time I ate it. SPAM today is not like SPAM was then, the jelly coating I remember around the meat that grossed me out is no longer there. The sandwiches were actually tasty and if I had not known it was SPAM I don’t think I would have guessed.
Cheesy Baby Reds (as found on the SPAM website)
- 1 12-ounce can SPAM® Classic, diced
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 medium red bell pepper, diced
- 12 ounces whipped pimento spread
- 24 baby red potatoes, cut in half
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives, for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F. In large skillet, in butter, heat the SPAM® Classic until lightly browned. Drain well.
- Whip the pimento cheese spread in a blender until smooth. Place pimento cheese spread in a large bowl. Add the SPAM® Classic (reserve about 1/3 for garnish) and diced red bell pepper.
- Thoroughly wash and clean the potatoes. Cut in half and scoop out the center of each with a spoon or Parisian scoop. Mix the olive oil, salt and pepper in a bowl. Coat the potato halves with the mixture and place on a baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 400°F for about 25 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.
- Remove from oven and fill center with the SPAMento™ cheese mixture. Garnish the filled potatoes with the reserves SPAM® Classic, chives and a dusting of cayenne pepper, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 48.
These were so good and I would totally make these!
As for a little Saturday Snapshot, I thought I would add a picture of our dogs this past week. Bailey(the white one) is 18 years old. Really, the miracle dog. A couple of years ago he started having seizures and then after a month they went away and we did not see him have another one until last month. It is horrible to see, but remarkably he comes out of them and goes on like nothing happened. The vet says he is not suffering in any way, he is not in pain and lives for his age a healthy lifestyle. Sammy ( the black one) has just recently taken to hanging out with Bailey a bit more. This was a cute picture of sleeping close together. Almost like Sammy is protecting him or being supportive.
Beatriz Williams is an author I was introduced to a little over a year ago. Her books open worlds I have not walked in but love the opportunity to join her rich vibrant characters on their journeys… this book, like her others, is a treasure to embrace.~Sheila
Pepper Schuyler has the world by the tail in 1966. She is beautiful and she knows it. She is confident, and captures side ways glances from most men when she walks into a room. She is also, currently, pregnant. No worries though, Pepper has recently restored a beautiful vintage Mercedes that has just sold for an astonishing price. This, Pepper thinks, will set her and the baby up nicely.
Annabelle Dommerich is thrilled with her new car purchase. Sure, she paid way too much, but this particular car and she have a history and that makes it all worth it. And when she meets the young and vibrant Pepper, Annabelle almost has to laugh, Pepper reminds her so much of herself when she was that age.
Annabelle takes an astounded Pepper under her wing and invites Pepper to stay with her. And as the two women become fast friends, Annabelle’s story unfolds, of house parties, an injured acquaintance, a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, and a hair raising escape in one Mercedes years ago.
Ahhhhh. Reading (or listening in this case) Beatriz Williams books is something that I find hard to describe. The stories are vivid and of a time I have not lived, but the writing makes me wish I had. I enjoy reading about protagonists like Pepper, strong-willed women of a time when strong women were the exception.
The Infinite Sea is told in the time of Pepper and Annabelle meeting one another in the 60’s, with Annabelle’s story of her own youth being weaved in throughout the book. It is a brilliant read. One I personally devoured every chance I could get.
I listened to this on audio, Kathleen McInerney is a narrator I have enjoyed before and she has the perfect narrative voice for this book. Highly enjoyable.
Note: There are other books featuring the Schuyler sisters (Pepper is one of three). To my understanding this is actually the third book, I believe each book stands on their own and I did not feel that I needed the other two books to make sense of this one. The other books would be: The Secret Like of Violet Grant and Tiny Little Thing. Both books, I hope to enjoy sometime soon.
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 15 hours and 43 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Penguin Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: November 3, 2015
Steve Jobs has been called many things from genius to jerk. When it came to his work life and his vision he did not care if you were family, friend, or person who could make his life a whole lot easier. He was focused to a fault. He was outspoken, irritating, irrational, and cocky. So how did such a man who was even fired from his own company, make such a big impact on the way we live today? How did someone like this carry a vision that literally has employed millions of people all over the world and his products become practically a household staple?
Statements taken from those who knew Steve well from family members, friends, co workers and competitors, paint a picture of Steve and it is not necessarily the one you think. Here you will learn about the man who struggled with his failings and worked to maximize his strengths. Always ambitious, always forward thinking, Steve Jobs.
If you have hung around here long you probably know I have been fascinated with Steve Jobs for a long time. I have read many books and listened to many audio about this man. I don’t condone the way he treated people – but much like in my own life, when I see someone acting out or in a way I find aggressive, I always wonder what the underlying story is. I have felt this way about Steve. I believe another reason I like reading about him is that I LOVE the fact that he was not necessarily the brains behind the company. He was the visionary and what he could not do himself, he found people who had the power to take his vision and make it real. I too love to come up with the “what if’s” and bring other people into that vision to make it a reality. I hope I don’t do it as aggressively as Steve, but I sure hope I tap into that passion.
Honestly, no matter how you feel about the man – I think most of us have to admit to owning an Apple product or an IPAD, IPOD, IPHONE, ITunes… Think of how our world has changed around these products…. think about how we connect so much more than we once did, and how Steve’s vision raised the bar for all who follow in his footsteps to make the next big thing.
I did thoroughly enjoy this book. As I mentioned, I have read much on Steve Jobs and this book was not rehashing the same information. This book, personalized him and I really liked that. It gave me more insight in to why Steve was the way he was. I liked hearing about the man behind the hype. This book will take you from the start of Apple, to the competitors he battled as well as friended, all the way to his final battle with cancer, that sadly, he did not win.
I listened to this on audio with George Newbern narrating. It was a wonderful insightful listen that I would encourage anyone to take the time and listen to. No matter what your opinion of Steve, I feel the world suffered a great loss of a man with amazing vision and an ability to have others respond to his vision.
Listening Length: 16 hours and 21 minutes
Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (March 24, 2015)
- Hardcover: 464 pages
- Publisher: Crown Business; First edition (March 24, 2015)
I swear some days my sheltered world surprises me.
I am not a newspaper reader. I am not a news on TV watcher. I do not follow any website for the “happenings” in our world – either entertainment wise or real world stuff. I used to…. but now my world is all a little too real and raw and so I miss much of what is going on unless someone tells me. I like living in my Hobbit Hole.
And that is how I missed hearing about the new Harry Potter book.
and honestly, I am not sure how I feel about it.
Of course back when the books were coming out and we were drawing to a close in book 7….. I wanted more. Shoot – who didn’t? Yet as time went on it became a household discussion here. I still wanted JK Rowling to find a loop hole in her ending and bring the story back…. perhaps the rebuilding of Hogwarts and continue the story through the next generation, Harry’s, Ron’s Malfoy’s kids. I honestly wanted to keep the magic going…
and Justin did not.
When we talked here, Justin (wiser than me and clearly less muggle in him) knew that continuing the story would only create dissatisfaction. The books were too good, he would tell me. They are better off left as is.
And as time went on, as much as it pained me to admit it, I began to agree with him.
So here we are.
In case any of you were as oblivious as me (thank you for that if you were) here is the basics of what I know:
JK Rowling, after years of saying there would not be a continuing story, has indeed written an 8th book that will release as the others did, on midnight of July 31st. As I type this, there is a lump in my throat because it was Justin and I who would plan crazy things to grab the book hot off the shelves at midnight each release. I have to wonder, how I do it this year.
To my understand, as I try to catch up, there is a play in London with the same title as the book. The push was that HP fans who were unable to get to London to see the play wanted a book so they too can be a part on this experience. JK Rowling and the Publisher Little Brown came to an agreement to give the fans what they wanted.
The official synopsis is:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
It’s new. Admittedly it is exciting. And of course for me, a bit sad. “It’s happening,” I think…. and I have to do this one alone.
What do you think of this new development? Are you YAY for it? Or NAY leave it alone? Is Rita Skeeter retired now? What ever happened to Hagrid? I would love to know your thoughts. :)
I recently reviewed the book The Life We Bury. This post is my book clubs review.
I was excited for this review and curious what the Bookies would think about this read by a Minnesota author, centered around a college student, an autistic brother, a non reliable mother, and a dying murderer.
Our discussion was really centered around the character development in the story. Each of the characters are well-developed, something we agreed that we like in our reading. We had a chance to get to know everyone represented – and each of them had something in their life that they buried. It really made the title so appropriate, after all… don’t we all have something in our life that we bury, work to keep from resurfacing?
We felt as a whole that book was one that was easy to fall right into. From page one many of us sank right into the smooth writing. While the group felt over all that the story was a little predictable, no one faulted the book because it was such a well written read.
Each of the characters that surround this book have a story. Some, as in most books, we were able to see flush out more than others. Author Allen Eskens however gave us enough bread crumbs on the less developed characters to see who they really were as well.
Over all the book for us rated a solid 4 out of 5. We enjoyed the book and enjoyed the Minnesota setting which we found familiar. Plus… we learned a little more about SPAM. ;)
Why Does This Book Make For A Good Book Club Read?
- The life We Bury provides a Midwestern setting that is evenly paced. The book never feels overly hurried, giving readers a chance to really sink into the character development.
- There are great opportunities to discuss what we feel we bury in our own lives – either past or presently.
- The fact that our protagonist Joe is from Austin Minnesota, the home of SPAM (which Joe states in the book) opens up some fun opportunities for your group to explore SPAM either through cooking or through trivia. Our group did a little of both :)
Above: We had fun finding food that went with the book. Thai Curry spam meatballs, spam with cheese and red potatoes, fish to represent the fishing in the book, and lots of yummy extras of wild rice soup, bread, bars, dips, crackers, bread and cheesecake.
Note: The sandwiches upper right were my quick recipe of wanting to make something with SPAM. They were Hawaiian rolls, spam, and Swiss cheese. I heated them in the oven until the cheese melted. I called them SPAMwiches, Spliders (SPAM Sliders), and SPAM burgers. ;)
Or perhaps, they all are.
This one however is a reminiscent morning. I am sitting here quietly thinking over the last 24 hours. Yesterday was my birthday and another day to get through. This one had a lot of hold on me for two reasons…
- This birthday would officially make me the oldest living member of my immediate family (mom, dad, sister), something that I have thought about for years.
- This would be the first one without Justin.
Getting through it, defenses up seemed the way to go.
I had explained to friends early on that I did not have any desire to celebrate this birthday. I asked that they let me go through this as quickly and as quietly as possible. Just another day. I really struggle(d) with the thought that I was getting older, and my son would not.
However, friends, like loopholes…. and while they did not 100% follow my wishes, they were very sweet about it. As a “Valentines Gift” I received a “Dammit Doll” (a doll that you are supposed to use when you are frustrated, smacking her on the table saying… you guessed it, “Dammit Dammit Dammit.” I decided she looked a little like me and she had enough so she will not be beat by me…. instead she sits on a shelf in the book room.
My friend Gail sent me a “Happy February” card with a promise of a custom made rack to let beans grow on for my garden this spring. My friend Wendy had lunch with me yesterday and celebrated “February” by giving me a beautiful wine sign and a woozie, a wine cozy.
Then last evening was book club and we had an excellent review of The Life We Buried and fun with Spam (more on this later today so be sure to come back!), but they also had a little celebration of my birthday which was unexpected. There was cheesecake (really my favorite cake), and a few gifts. It was very sweet of them to do as I read cards through tears.
The little item on the black wrap is a charm for my Pandora bracelet… it is a clover which represents Justin and I and our times together. He had a tattoo of a clover to commemorate our annual trips to Florida (it is the symbol used at the Irish Pub we always stopped at), and this spring I too got the clover tattoo in memory of him and our times together.
So that was my day yesterday. Not quite as quiet and straight on through it as I had planned – but honestly, my friends were very sweet and while it was a hard birthday, the kindness of those in my life really helped me walk on through this too. Justin, I know would be cheering.
When 14-year-old Audrey is the target of bullying at school, she finds that she struggles to even leave the comfort and security of her own home, finding dark glasses to help her move through day-to-day life. Diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder, Audrey works with a counselor to help her take steps towards a more normal life style.
One that Audrey could really not care less about.
When her brothers best friend Linus starts to frequent her home. Audrey’s interest is piqued. Linus is not like other boys. He doesn’t seem to be startled by Audrey wearing dark glasses inside or her inability to go out into the world. Instead, Linus seems to enjoy Audrey’s company, even coming over to the house to see her. The connection Audrey makes with Linus is one that not only is helping her, but her entire family.
Finding Audrey was a fun listen. I have read Sophie Kinsella before (I’ve Got Your Number) which was a light fun read. This one is still fun as YA goes, but it also has a more serious undertone to it that makes you really think about what Audrey is going through. You also can not help but cheer on Linus, what a great character! Over all Kinsella comes through again with a heartwarming story that I think will speak well to young adults and all ages alike.
On a personal note: I found with my own life these past 10 months that I could relate to Audrey. I get the desire to feel safe and secure in my own home as well, never knowing what you can be dealing with in the real world. By no means am I at where Audrey is at, I can and do go out and carry on as I used to – I just find it takes more energy to do so. I only mention this because it helped me understand what Audrey is going through a little more.
- Age Range: 12 and up
- Grade Level: 7 and up
- Audio CD
- Publisher: Listening Library (Audio); Unabridged edition (June 9, 2015)
- Listening Length: 6 hours and 36 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
Joe Talbert is a College student with an assignment. He must interview a stranger and write a biography of that person’s life. Having procrastinated on getting started mainly due to his college work load, a mother with a lack of parenting skills, and an older brother at home 2 1/2 hours from Joe’s college who is autistic, Joe decides to go to a local nursing home to see if he can talk to someone who has led an interesting life. What Joe discovers is more than he could have planned.
Carl Iverson has been given only a few months to live as he is losing the battle of prostate cancer. He is a Vietnam Vet with the Purple Heart award. He is also a convicted murdered. He has been medically paroled to the nursing home to spend his last days under constant care that the prison can not provide.
As Joe digs into Carl’s story, he struggles with the hero Carl was in the war and the cold-blooded killer of a 14-year-old girl that he is convicted for. Carl eludes to his innocence, but with no real passion after all his life is practically over and what is done is done. Joe feels there is something missing in Carl’s conviction, vital evidence that was overlooked that could possibly clear Carl’s name before he dies. Yet the clock is running against Joe as he juggles his school work load, his job, and his mother’s inability to take proper care of his brother. Thank goodness for the female College student who has the apartment next to Joe’s and her interest in helping to uncover the truth.
But at what cost?
Funny background story to this book. It was first put on my radar last fall after Wine and Words when my co-chair suggested this author for Wine and Words 2016. Neither of us had read the book or heard much about it so that thought was back-burnered. In the last few months I looked for the book in my personal library, swore I had a copy but could not find it so again…. I moved on. Then last month a girl in our book club brought the title up for nomination out of the blue. The book won the vote and I was thrilled to finally have my hand forced to move forward on reading the book. I bought the book…
and there it sat.
Last week a friend of mine in another local book club text me and asked if I had a copy of The Life We Buried because that is what their book club was reading for February. I called her and told her I had to know how they picked that title. She said the lady hosting in February had found it and thought it sounded good. I laughed and told her that our book club was also reading this same title.
A couple of days ago I was feeling tired and went early to my room with this book. I planned to read only a few chapters to get a feel for it. Once I opened the book the story line clicked for me. The reading was easy to get into and I found myself liking it right from the very start. I read for hours, slept, opened the book again the next morning and finished it.
In a word.
Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant. It was an excellent way to see how Joe struggled trying to move forward with his own life and at the same time carrying around the guilt of what his brother had to deal with back in his home town 2 1/2 hours away.
There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement. I highly encourage you give this title a try. My Co-Chair of Wine and Words is listening to it on audio now. My book club will review it this coming Tuesday evening and on Wednesday I will pass the book to my friend in the other book club so she may read it as well.
is a fun story.
- Paperback: 303 pages
- Publisher: Seventh Street Books; First Paperback Edition edition (October 14, 2014)
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog from 2006 -2009 and then was taken up by me here at Book Journey from Feb 2009 – Fall 2015 and then I passed it to Kathryn at the Book Date. We have worked to keep the torch of It’s Monday burning! :)
I have not been as consistent on this meme as I hoped to be, but I am working at it. This past week here is what I posted:
What Was Mine by Helen Klein Ross ( holy wow!)
Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson (new fiction TLC tour)
Wildalone by Krassi Zourkova (interesting Paranormal YA)
in a dark, dark wood by ruth ware (ooh!!!)
Not a bad reading week, actually not a bad audio week. I have really been flying through the audio while working on house projects.
For this week….
For My Eyes
Widower Jack Harris has resisted the dating scene ever since the shooting of his wife Molly by a fifteen-year-old boy three years ago. An early morning run along the Hudson River changes that when he spots a woman in last night’s party dress, barefoot, enjoying a champagne picnic alone, reading his favorite novel. Everything about her reminds him of what he used to have with Molly. Eager to help Jack find love again, his best friend posts a message on a popular website after he mentions the encounter. Days later, that same beautiful stranger responds and invites Jack to meet her in person at the waterfront. That’s when Jack’s world falls apart.
Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?
For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets, to absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him?
For My Ears
Each of the three Schuyler sisters has her own world-class problems, but in the autumn of 1966, Pepper Schuyler’s problems are in a class of their own. When Pepper fixes up a beautiful and rare vintage Mercedes and sells it at auction, she thinks she’s finally found a way to take care of herself and the baby she carries, the result of an affair with a married, legendary politician.
But the car’s new owner turns out to have secrets of her own, and as the glamorous and mysterious Annabelle Dommerich takes pregnant Pepper under her wing, the startling provenance of this car comes to light: a Nazi husband, a Jewish lover, a flight from Europe, and a love so profound it transcends decades. As the many threads of Annabelle’s life from World War II stretch out to entangle Pepper in 1960s America, and the father of her unborn baby tracks her down to a remote town in coastal Georgia, the two women must come together to face down the shadows of their complicated pasts.
Indomitable heroines, a dazzling world of secrets, champagne at the Paris Ritz, and a sweeping love story for the ages, in New York Times bestselling author Beatriz William’s final book about the Schuyler sisters.
That’s my plan for now. It is Book Club this week and a Great Gatsby meeting. I do love bookish weeks :)
Be sure and add your Its Monday What Are You Reading to the sign up link here, or at least let me know in the comments what you are reading this week.
Lenora ( goes by Nora) is a crime fiction writer. She has found that as the years go on she is quite content to stick to the comforts of home surrounded by all that she loves , typing out stories and meeting deadlines for her publisher. When an invitation arrives from an old friend to join in a pre-marriage celebration at a secluded home in the woods, Nora is hesitant yet feels the pull to perhaps reconnect. Many invites went out but in the end it is six people who make the celebration weekend.
48 hours later Nora wakes up in the hospital with no recollection of how she got there or what had happened. All she knows is that she has a sickening feeling that someone she knows is dead and with a police officer outside her hospital room she has a feeling that whatever happened… somehow she is involved.
Here Author Ruth Ware, explains the book:
With a title like that how could I refuse? In A Dark, Dark Wood drew me in by its synopsis, despite the comparison to Girl On The Train (not a fan). I liked the idea of old friends gathering together and a mystery to be solved…. felt a little like an 80’s thriller!
The book is a fast read/listen but a good one. Nothing felt dragged out, the book moved at a nice pace throughout the story with just enough of a dangle of the mystery throughout the story line to keep you guessing. In the end my guess of the “who did it” was wrong…. and I like it that way.
I listened to this one on audio, Imogen Church narrated and while she is a new narrator to me, I found that I liked how she mastered her way through the multitude of dialogue between the six characters.
Recommended on audio, but I think this one will read well too.
- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 34 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: August 4, 2015
- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press; Later printing edition (August 4, 2015)