Category Archives: Book Review

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

the night sister, Book Journey, Jennifer McMahon

The Tower Motel was once a place where people stopped and stayed… a continuous flow of activity.  Now, many years later the hotel lays in despair and the girls who used to play there; Amy Piper, and Margo only have their memories.. and the memory of what happened that destroyed their friendship.

When a crime is committed that Amy is accused of, Piper and Margo are forced to relive what they had hoped they would never have to speak of.  The secret that had been held in the past – generation to generation… to come to light now.


Author Jennifer McMahon has amazed me before with her books such as Promise Not To Tell, Winter People, and The Island of Lost Girls. She has a way of adding an element of darkness to her stories.

Such is the case with Night Sister, once again Jennifer McMahon weaves a dark tale, but this time I just did not connect.  I just found the story too far fetched and the back and forth feel of the girls in modern time searching out the clues to the flash backs of what happened in the past… I don’t know.  It just didn’t work for me.  I finished the book hoping for some big revelation but it never really came.

Here are a few different opinions I found on line:

View From My Home   Highly recommended for fans of the author, coming of age stories in rural settings, mysterious suspense, and those willing to take a chance on a story with a plot ending you would never see coming when you started out.

Tales Of A Book AddictThe way this book unfolds is so impressive. It’s like Ms. McMahon just lightly peels away layer after layer until you’re finally at the heart and soul of the story.

The Caffeinated Book Reviewer I have been in the mood for suspenseful reads and The Night Sister with its creepy vibe and paranormal elements/lores was just the perfect fix.


I listened to this one on audio, the narration by Cassandra Campbell is almost always a draw for me and while I didn’t love her narration in this one (some of the females were too winy voiced) she is a narrator I admire and will continue to watch her work.



  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 22 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: August 4, 2015


The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

shelley pearsall, the senth most important thing, book journey, the seventh throne of heaven

I grabbed this book that had just come from the publisher off the table as I left for the cabin last week.  The title intrigued me and it looked to be a fairly easy middle grade read – just what I needed for this cabin trip.  Turns out… I grabbed the right book at the right time.  ~ Sheila

Thirteen year old Arthur Owens is having a horrible year.  With the sudden accident that killed his father Arthur feels that his family is just going through the motions.  When Arthur comes home one day to find that his mother has cleaned out his fathers things from their home, his mood only darkens.

It was a bitter cold day when Arthur Owens throws the brick at the Junk Man’s head.  Lucky for him, the Junk Man had moved to pick something up and the brick missed his head, instead damaging his arm.  It wasn’t for racist reasons.  It wasn’t for the sad state of dress the Junk Man wore.  Arthur had his reasons for throwing that brick but it would not be reasons that would make his mom or the judge change their mind.

With Arthur on a one way path to juvie, it is the Junk Man himself who comes up with an alternative for the judge.  Arthur will work off his 120 hours of community service working for the Junk Man.  Arthur will be the one who takes the rickety old shopping cart around looking for the seven moth important things:  glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, light bulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors.  Arthur thinks the Junk Man is a few fries short of a happy meal, but has no choice but to do as he is told.

It isn’t long before Arthur understands that there is more to the Junk Man than one first sees.  The “trash’ he is collecting has so much more meaning… a meaning that Arthur soon finds to be filled with lessons he will carry with him for the rest of his life.

I really enjoyed reading The Seventh Most Important Thing.  As each item reveals it’s purpose I found myself not wanting to put the book down, wanting to know what the next item could mean.  The connections Arthur makes throughout the book with class mates, teachers, his probation officer, as well as the community is a bigger vision to this story.  I loved that the book appeared to have a hidden agenda…

and as I ended the read I found out what it was – and I was blown away.

I can not share that part of the story as much as I want to as I feel this is something for each reader to find out for themselves.  However, never one to miss a chance to discuss a book further, I will put the info on a spoiler page for those of us who have read the book and wish to discuss it in more depth.


Over all, a Middle Grade read that will leave the reader with a little something more than they thought they were getting, and an excellent discussion book for a parent and child.

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 0760 (What’s this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (September 8, 2015)


A Week At The Lake by Wendy Wax

wendy wax, a week at the lake

Emma Michaels, Mackenzie Hayes, and Serena Stockton used to be the best of friends.  Every year they would spent one week together at a cabin owned by Emma;  laughing, sharing, and eating way too much ice cream.  Then one year, Emma stopped inviting Mackenzie and Serena.  The girls no longer spent their annual week together and without knowing what happened, they drifted apart.  Now, 5 years later, Emma feels it is time to clear the air and share a secret she knows can destroy them all.

As the girls all arrive for their planned weekend, Emma is in a serious car accident and Mackenzie and Serena start to piece together what had happened all of those years ago on their own.



I have always enjoyed Wendy Wax’s books (my first was Leave It To Cleavage and has a funny story to go with it).  Her books tend to be about relationships and friendships and never over the top but more like good summer reading (insert large sunglasses, ice tea, and a light snack here).

In many ways A Week At The Lake fit in with much of what I just said about Wendy Wax.  For the most part the book is a good summer read. I have to mention a few moment that didn’t feel real, or a little far fetched – it was still worth the read.  I like stories of women’s friendships and this book fit that genre perfectly.

A quick read that will wish you long for a beach chair.



  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (June 23, 2015)
  • Language: English



Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble

whisper beach, Shelley Noble, Book JOurney

Vanessa “Van” Moran stands right where she left twelve years before.  Having left her home town as a young girl heartbroken, betrayed, and alone, she had vowed she would never come back.

And yet, here she was.

When her cousin’s husband dies in a freak accident, Van comes to pay her respects.  Her plan is to get in and get out as quickly as possible and move on to her true vacation at a fancy resort many miles from Whisper Beach.  Since leaving Van has created a wonderful business in Manhattan that has made her quite successful.  Part of her reason for this brief visit is for everyone to see that she was now established, doing well, and this town had not broken her spirit.

Things never go as planned.

When the woman who helped her all those years ago Dorie, asks Van to stay a few days to help her with some business decisions, Van decided a few days can not hurt.  Her good friend Suze is also staying at Dories and it would be fun to catch up.  As long as Van can avoid the one guy who broke her heart and the girl that stole him away – she will be just fine.  Anyway, she can leave anytime she wants.

As I said, things never go as planned.




I really enjoyed Whisper Beach.  Once again I find myself locked in a beachy read centered around a triangle of old friends working on healing old wounds.  (When you read enough beach reads you really find a pattern).  It didn’t matter.  I liked Van.  I liked that she was successful through everything she went through in her younger years.  She was strong and broken – but not beyond repair…. I can not say the same for others in the book. ;)

Author Shelley Noble flushes out some very real issues with this book and those within.  I found her writing style to be engaging and while some of the characters you meet in Whisper Beach you really would rather not know- I still wouldn’t mind popping in and hanging out at the Blue Crab with Dorie, Van, and Suze…. and oh yeah… Joe.  I think there could easily be more to this story and I for one would be happy to come and visit Whisper Beach again.

Looking for a good read this summer?  Add Whisper Beach to your list.



  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 16, 2015)


bookends by Jane Green

bookends, Jane Green, Book Journey

After recently finishing one Jane Green book (Summer Secrets), I went to shelf that one and found this one that I picked up at a sale years ago…. with a title like that, how I could pass on it?  ~Sheila

Catherine, Simon, Portia, and Josh were the inseparable four during their college years.  Catherine (Cat) always the side kick who blended well with the rest enjoyed her cozy life and circle of friends and like her comfy sweater, she was happy with things just as they were.  Simon (Si) was always looking for love with just the right guy but love – true love for whatever reason eludes him.  Portia is tall, slender and gorgeous.  She is used to getting whatever she wants with just the blink of an eye but carries a coldness within her.  Josh wishes he could win Portia’s heart but has more or less given up on that dream.

Then one fateful night of poor choices and damaged egos breaks the group apart and Portia finds herself left behind.

Years later Josh is married to the delightful Lucy.  Cat and Si are still very single… Cat happily and Si not so much.  The four get together frequently for dinners and talks.  When Portia suddenly arrives back in their lives, her appearance unleashes events that threaten to push apart the friends.  At a time when Cat is starting to believe in love again she instead has to deal with her old friend and the damage that can be done when trust is not an option.

Score another one for Jane Green!  bookends was a delightful read and surprised me when I found out that bookends is actually the name of a book store within the book.  Well hello good story!  I enjoyed spending time with this group of friends as they lived out their dreams and their worst nightmares.  I find that it is a bonus when a book makes you wish you knew the characters in real life and that is what bookends did for me.

Jane Green once again surprises me with a fun light read with real life issues.  In bookends you will get it all – the fun, the pain, the reality of living in today world… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It’s good to have good friends to help get you through.

Jane Green fans do not miss this one.  If you liked Summer Secrets, I think you will enjoy bookends as well.  Jane Green will be an author I keep an eye on.

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 27, 2003)


Summer Secrets by Jane Green

Summer Secrets, Jane Green, Book Journey


Cat Coombs always seemed to struggle in finding her place in her world of London.  She did not fit into the popular crowd, but eventually discovered that with a few drinks in her, she could bring on the liquid courage that seemed to make her fit.  In her teen years and into her 20’s it became known that the party had not started until Cat had arrived. Sure, Cat did not always remember events that took place in these crazy drinking binges, and she did not always make it to her job as a journalist on time, but being “absent” from a dad that does not seem to really care and a mom that keeps her distance isn’t so bad.

When Cat meets Jason, a handsome guy who is a recovering alcoholic Cat tries to stop drinking for him (although she is sure she doesn’t have a problem) but a bombshell dropped by her mother sends Cat not only into a shock… but also to the states and Nantucket to stay with family she doesn’t know.  This family is a lot of fun and Cat slips easily into old habits. A serious mistake destroys relationships all around her and sends her back to London planning never to return to Nantucket again and put what happened out of her mind.

But…. things have a way of popping up when not dealt with.

As Cat grows into her 40’s, now a recovering alcoholic who understands the importance of her meetings and never drinking again, she finds herself stuck on the 9th step in her recovery:  Made direct amends to such people, wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

While Cat has completed most of this step, she has not addressed what happened in Nantucket or the people she hurt deeply.  When an opportunity arises for Cat to write a story on Nantucket and she is able to spend two weeks there, she knows it is time to face whatever happens… even if it means risking it all.




I have to admit Summer Secrets surprised me.  I found I liked Cat.  This is the first book I have read that really placed me inside an AA meeting and I found that interesting.  Of course I have heard of the steps, but learning more about the meetings through Cat’s character was interesting and really thinking how hard that 9th step has to be – to face those you have hurt, has to be so hard and yet so lifting as well, no matter what the outcome.  Author Jane Green did an excellent job of covering this topic through Cat’s character without it ever feeling heavy or draining.  Well done.

Summer Secrets has a great mix of people, places, and situations.  This is not your typical “Nantucket read”.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and think that this would make a great book to pick up and enjoy this summer.  If you enjoy summer reading, realistic family dynamics, great friendships, and learning a little something along the way do not miss out on this book.



  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (June 23, 2015)



All The Single Ladies by Dorthea Benton Frank

All The Single Ladies, Dorthea Benton Frank, Book Journey

If you are looking for a fun read with women friendships, a wonderful southern low country buzz running through the background and the smell of something good cooking on the stove with a tasty drink in your hand, reach for a book by Dorthea Benton Frank.  ~Sheila

When Lisa St Clair watches her favorite patient Kathy Harper lose her battle with cancer, she is impressed with the two friends that stayed by Kathy’s side during her long battle.  Carrie and Susan have been placed in charge of taking care of Kathy’s personal things and Lisa offers to help in any way she can.  The three women become closer as they try to solve the mysteries of Kathy’s past that she had kept so quiet.  With relationships popping up everywhere, a crazy greedy landlord, a wonderful 99-year-old woman, a young adult making poor choices and a dog named Pickles, who knows what will happen?

When I had an opportunity to invite a group of friends over to discuss this book I quickly said yes.  If it has Dorthea Benton Frank’s name on it, of course I would say yes!  At the time of our gathering none of us had read the book but we all received it that afternoon.  I started the book later that day.

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal

Upper left – the food that was suggested to make for the get together: Ritz crackers with cream cheese and red pepper jelly, cheese straws (mine were cheese bars), and shrimp with the seasonings sent in the book package Upper right – The All The Single Ladies Drink: vodka, with a splash of cranberry juice (we diluted this with 7 up) Lower left – Sweet Tea! Lower right – the entire cast of goodies

Having a fun event is a great way to kick off reading a book.  I enjoyed All The Single Ladies by Dorthea Benton Frank.  It is an easy summer read.  I liked the cast of characters and the story line was set up as a light mystery centered around a woman who I wish I as well as the three protagonists knew a little better.  Kathy sounded like someone worth knowing.  There are a few life lessons mixed within the pages, light sprinkles of wisdom when it comes to family dynamics, I suspect each of us as readers can find someone within this book or some situation that is discussed that hits a familiar note.

A sweet easy read and perfect for Summer time.

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (June 9, 2015)


So That Happened by John Cryer

So that happened, JOhn Cryer, Two and a half men, Book JOurney, memoir


If you ever seen the movie Pretty In Pink than you have to remember the delightful and magnetic Duckie… and if you do, then you know Actor now Author, John Cryer in his earliest roles.  In So That Happened, John shares what it is like to be an actor when you don’t carry the natural confidence that many actors do… in fact, John Cryer will tell you that he is actually a lot like the character he plays on Two and a Half Men, Alan Harper.  John speaks openly about his co-workers including Molly Ringwald, John Hughes, Robert Altman, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, and of course…. Charlie Sheen.




In full disclosure….  (embarrassing full disclosure) it was not until recently that I realized that “Duckie” from Pretty In Pink was John Cryer.  True statement.  I clearly know him from Two and a Half Men and I think the role from then to now was so different… I just didn’t pick up on that.  That said, I picked up this audio because I do enjoy Two and a Half Men and I do enjoy books written and narrated by actors I enjoy.

As I listen to a fair amount of audio books narrated by actors, I know I enjoy hearing the stories behind the shows, the acting, the co-stars, funny happenings….  What I don’t like is whining about missed parts, what is believed to be unfair casting, and well whining in general.

This audio has a mix of both.

I of course wanted to hear about John’s role in Pretty in Pink and of course his many years of being on Two and a Half Men and working with the unpredictable, eventually fired Charlie Sheen.  For the record, the later does not get mentioned until disc 6.  The first 3 to 4 cd’s of this audio book are interesting however John has a lot of strong opinions of fellow actors as well as about others taking credit for something that was his doing.  To me… that felt a bit whiny.  At the same time I imagined an editor saying “John, be vulnerable, be angry… niceties do not get the book sales!”  So, that said… perhaps John was coerced.

I did enjoy the later half of the audio where the real meat of the book seemed to be.  When John talked about Two and a Half Men and what was happening there it seemed a bit more real.

Looking at the rating of this one on-line, I am in the minority.  For the most part people have found this memoir to be hilarious and well done.  This can very well be a case of “it is not John, it is me”.

I would love to hear from others who have read or listened to this one.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 8 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio
  • Release Date: April 7, 2015





The Lost Recipe For Happiness by Barbara O’Neal

Barbara O'Neal, The Lost Recipe For Happiness, Book Journey

In apparently continuing with my trend of reading foody books (they feel pretty safe), I bring to you a review of a woman, her dog, a restaurant, and learning to let go.  ~Sheila

Elena Alvarez has just been offered the deal of a lifetime.  She has been offered the opportunity to run her own restaurant, something she has only dreamed about.  Being an experienced Chef, this is the first time she will be in the leading role from staff hiring, restaurant look and feel, and the menu planning.  Haunted by an accident that she alone survived with her back broken in 4 places, Elena knows what it is like to withstand the odds.  Arriving in Aspen Colorado with a restaurant project may just be the change she needs to reboot her life and it doesn’t hurt that her new boss, Movie Writer Julian Liswood is easy on the eyes.

For Elena, every move she makes is a risk.  The restaurant business is physically hard on her body and the ghosts of the past, do not let go easy.

There is a lot to like about The Lost Recipe For Happiness.  I liked the idea of a fixer upper project with Elena the one to call the shots.  I do like a good project!  I also found I liked Elena.  For what she has literally lived through, she is a strong independent woman with dreams and goals.  I also enjoyed the back up players in this book, while I never did get a full handle on Ivan, I think (I think) I liked him.  Patrick is wonderful and you have to love Julian and his daughter Portia.  Ivan the dog?  Also pretty awesome.

What I didn’t like so much was there are a couple off intimate descriptions that the wording actually made me cringe… I think the opposite of what the author would be looking for at that moment.  It also took me a while to understand the ghost part of the book and the first appearance of Elena’s sister, well, I thought she really was there.

All in all I think there is a lot of cultural history within this book that is slowly mixed in and that was interesting because I did not know about the Day Of The Dead traditions, or about the meal.  While the book was not an over the top “wow” for me, I did find it interesting enough to follow it all the way through.. curious about the Julian and Elena storyline, as well as the restaurants success.

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Discovery (December 30, 2008)


The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig

The Cake Therapist, Judith Fertig, Book Journey, June 2015 release

Claire “Neely” O’Neil finds her way back to her home town of Millcreek Valley Iowa to open a bakery.  Claire feels she needs the break from her own life to sort out the flavors of what decisions she needs to make as well as the desire she has to bring flavors and tastes to others.  Claire has an unusual talent of adding the right flavor combination together to bring out a customers secrets, fears, desires… a talent Claire does not always want, but one that has brought great success when helping potential clients choose a wedding cake that suits them both, or a flavor to mend a broken heart.

Claire certainly doesn’t have to worry about much down time as messages and packages keep arriving from her husband she is separated from,  her goth girl employee tries to cover her secrets and pain with dark-colored make up, an older woman of the neighborhood brings about stress, and a handsome man from Claire’s past makes her wonder what would have happened if she had chosen the path not taken.

There is plenty going on around Rainbow Bakery to keep even the pickiest customer coming back for more.



The Cake Therapist was a light and sweet read. Early on in the book the story jumps into Claire’s talent of knowing what flavors work with what customers however I found that part confusing and if I had not first read the synopsis I would not have understood what was happening when Claire opens the bakery door and describes the flavors separating into light.  There is also a lot going on in this book.  A LOT.  Between Claire’s own storyline unfolding, her employee Jett’s troubles, and a story set 100 years earlier following along in alternating chapters, the book felt a little choppy too me.  I had trouble figuring out what the historical story had to do with the current story and things did not flow well until half way through the read.

The Cake Therapist was a good read and I enjoyed the characters although there was no great aha moment.  When things do piece together in the end it is quick and eve though answers were revealed I don’t think enough of it was said earlier on for the reader to have that true “Oh!  Of course!” moment.  When the story ends it feels as though more could be said – but not enough for a second book.


My recommendation is to try The Cake Therapist for yourself as with my current life happenings I do not necessarily trust my feelings on this one.  As a lighter read this book would make for a good summer read.  Don’t expect a lot of “wow”, but you can expect to feel good.



  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (June 2, 2015)



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