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Lock In by John Scalzi

JOhn Scalzi, Lock In, book journey

In the future, a virus blankets the earth.  For some, the symptoms are flu-like and than they get better… for others… the virus causes what becomes known as “lock-in. victims are fully alert and aware of their surroundings but unable to move or voice a response.

25 years later, the results of this virus is now called ‘Haden’s Syndrome.’  Newly appointed FBI agent Chris Shane is assigned to a case that appears to be a Haden related murder. The suspect is an “integrator” – someone who can let the locked in borrow their bodies for a time. If the Integrator was carrying a Haden, then naming the suspect for the murder becomes that much more complicated.

As Chris and his partner Van start to dig into the crime, what they find is bigger than they had imagined.



Recently I posted about a book I reviewed that I was hoping a bit more dystopian than it was and a little less sci fi than it was…. and now, with Lock In, I found what I was looking for.  Lock In gave me the dystopian I was craving and while this synopsis was a bit out of my league… it was the narration by Wil Wheaton sold me on giving it a try in audio format.  Wil Wheaton is one of the few narrators I have actually tracked by what they narrated because they are so incredible at it.  Nicely played John Scalzi.

Lock In was brilliant.  While it took me a while to fully picture what was happening, once I got it, it was a fun listen.  With John Scalzi’s quick wit writing and Wil Wheaton’s perfect execution of the narration – readers are in for a pretty sweet ride.  Treat yourself to this one in audio.

I see author John Scalzi has used Wil in other audio as well which I will be checking out soon.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: August 26, 2014




Dirty Chick: Adventures Of An Unlikely Farmer by Antonia Murphy

Dirty Chick, Antonia Murphy, Book Journey

Antonia Murphy was born in San Fransisco and never really pictures herself as the farm girl type.  Later in life she settles with her husband in New Zealand after her son was diagnosed with a rare genetic condition and they felt a slower more laid back style of life might be just the ticket.

The decision to start a farm was probably not as slow and laid back as they had anticipated, but it sure makes for some fun writing.


Obviously, the title captured my attention.  While I have had this book on the shelf for the better part of a year, it was the audio version I fit into my schedule and found it quite entertaining and distracting while mowing my lawn.   Much of what happens in dirty chicks is fairly funny.  Imagine starting out with animals you know little about but you soon learn….. (I swear, I will never look at a duck the same way again.)

There is much to like about this book, and for me – I also found some things I personally didn’t like.  As this is a memoir and I often hesitate to review some memoirs due to the impossibility of separating the book from the writer, I will refrain from giving my opinion here on what I did not like.  After all – it is just my personal opinion.

I am glad I had a chance to experience this book.  Antonia does narrate this book herself which I always find impressive and she did a good job of narrating.  If you are ever thinking ooh starting a farm could be a lot of fun,” you may want to test this book out first.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 20 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: January 22, 2015


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)


The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand, The Rumor, Book Journey

Longing for a good summer read centered around beautiful Nantucket, author Elin Hinderbrand is an excellent “go to” choice for just such a read.  ~ Sheila

When Grace Pancik sets her mind on something there is really no stopping her.  When Grace decides that she wants the most beautiful gardens in all of Nantucket, she hires the easy on the eyes Benton to be her guide.

When Madeline King, Grace’s best friend, struggles with writers block with an ever pressing deadline… she panics and reaches for a story line she knows that she should not be telling, but what could it hurt?  And who would know?

When Eddie, Grace’s’ husband gets in over his head in a real estate windfall gone bad, he makes some hard and most definitely not legal choices…  but with Madeline King insisting on her money back that she and her husband gave Eddie in trust and is constantly calling threateningly a lawsuit, and the bills stacking up around him… what is a guy to do?

Grace’s hanging out almost daily with the gardener.

Madeline is writing a steamy tell allbut what is her inspiration?

Eddie is having secret conversations with Madeline.

Grace’s twin teenage daughters are up to their own schemes while their parents are so preoccupied.

Madeline rents a studio apartment.

and that is how Rumors get started….

I have enjoyed Elin Hilderbrand in the past and The Rumor was no exception.  Author Elin Hilderbrand once again creates an easy and engaging summer read that is just plain fun.  I enjoyed each of the story lines in the book and how easily one can misinterpret what is really happening… as well as how often what we think could not possibly be true – actually is.

Narrated by Kathleen McInerney (who also occasionally narrates for Mary Kay Andrews), the book on audio flowed well.  I found myself engaged in what would happen next.

Definitely a go to author for me, I recommend Hilderbrand’s books for those who love a good summery read based on the island of Nantucket.. where truly… anything can and will happen.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 48 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • Release Date: June 16, 2015


Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens, Those Girls, Book JOurney

The Campbell sisters never had what you would call an easy life.  Living with a mostly absent and when present, abusive father, the girls did their best to stay out of his way.  Teenagers Jess, Courtney, and Danny worked on a ranch to earn enough to keep their home and purchase a little food, wondering (and dreading) when their father would next make his appearance and what kind of mood he would be in.

One night, when their father returns – things go too far and the girls find themselves on the run.  As things go from bad to worse, the girls live through a nightmare that haunts them for the next 18 years.

The sisters try to make lives for themselves and for the most part they do… but one sister… one can not forget that night.  And her choices affect all of them.



Chevy Stevens is one of those authors that I pretty much drop any reading plan for and grab their latest works.  I have raved about Chevy’s books in the past and when Those Girls was coming out I was soooooo excited.  A spooky sinister synopsis, amazing cover – I was all in.

The story starts out strong and very “Chevy Stevens like”… right away I fell into the story, and for the first two thirds of the book I was really involved with what was happening even if a few things seemed to come together a little easy….

It was the final third that I found I could no longer suspend belief… the happenings in this part of the book that take place 18 years later undid me.  It was too believable the way it plays out.  I am being careful to avoid spoilers here, but for me this book did not live up to the Chevy Stevens quality I have experienced in the past.

I wanted to be blown away…

I wasn’t.

Please look at other reviews for this one to develop a better opinion of the book.  I see that many have enjoyed this one, as did I, I just did not love love it.

That’s What She Reads found it to be a good summer thriller

Booking Mama highly recommended it

debbishdotcom found this Stevens read to be back to her better work


I did listen to this one on audio and enjoyed the narration by Jorjeana Marie (Narrator), Emily Woo Zeller (Narrator), Nicol Zanzarella (Narrator).  Not always a fan of multiple narrators, this one worked.




  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 29 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio
  • Release Date: July 7, 2015



Fever by Mary Beth Keane

Fever, Mary Beth Keane, Typhoid Mary, Mary Mallon, Book Journey

The amazing story behind “Typhoid Mary”,  truly had no idea.  ~Sheila


Mary Mallon was 15 years old when she left Ireland to come to New York.  Mary ha a stubborn streak and she knew what she wanted and how to get it.  She worked hard laboring in kitchens learning skills as a cook until she became quite good.  Soon she found her sought after by New York’s elite families wanting the hard-working Mary with the skills of a chef to be theirs exclusively.

Then the families of those Mary cooked for began to get sick.  Some even died.  A particular keen-eyed Medical Engineer zoned in on Mary as being the common denominator.  He called this out openly, saying Mary was a “asymptomatic carrier” of Typhoid Fever.

For three years Mary was kept in isolation, away from those she loved and from anything to do with other people.

This is her story.



We have probably all heard at one point or another about “Typhoid Mary”.  At least in name.  For myself, that is all I knew.  When I discovered this book Fever on audio I felt this would be an opportunity to learn more of this woman.  I am glad I did.  Narrated by Candace Thaxton, Fever was an interesting listen about Mary Mallon’s life.  I enjoyed learning of her tough exterior. She was a strong woman who carried herself well even through the hard years.

Learning more of her story was very interesting.  I would recommend this one in either book or audio format, I feel both will come off well.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 53 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Release Date: March 12, 2013


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.

Dead Mountain: The Untold True Story of the Dyatlov Pass Incident by Donnie Eicher

Dead Mountain, Book Journey, Donnie Eichar, Dyatlov Pass, Russia

1959.  Nine excited college students planned to hike the Russian Ural Mountains and reach Ortorten, a challenging trek.  All 9 in the party (7 boys and two girls) were experienced hikers and used to mountain expeditions.  They had trained, and planned, and envisioned victory. The group left on January 27 with plans to communicate once they reached Vizhai which they believed would be around February 12th, but perhaps a little longer.When February 12th came and went, there was no panic. however when February 20th came around a rescue team was sent out to look for the nine hikers.

On February 26th the rescue team found the camp site of the hikers where the tents had been partially torn down and cut open with knives from the inside.  Inside the tent were also the shoes of the hikers.  Tracks could be seen of stocking feet as well as bare feet around the site and the rescue team followed.  As they searched the area all nine of the hikers bodies were found in different states of dress, looking as though they had abandoned the tents in a hurry.  But why?  What would cause this experienced group to venture out into the cold snow without their shoes or jackets?  What would cause them to destroy their tents from the inside?  What were they trying to escape?

While it was believed they died of hypothermia, some of the hikers had extreme injuries, blows to the skull, chest fractures and one was even missing his tongue.

Photo footage and journals found left by the hikers showed that the communication ended on February 2nd.  Yet all of these years later, a solid answer to what happened has never been found.



Book Journey, Dyatlov pass, dead mountain, 1959


Book Journey Dyatlov Pass Incident, 1959, Dead Mountain


Once again I embark on a read that I have no idea about.  I admittedly had never heard about the Dyalov Pass or about this extreme tragedy.  When browsing the audio sale this one caught my eye as I seem to be drawn to unsolved mysteries.  At around 6 1/2 hours of audio listening this was a doable listen.  I tend to like my audio to be around that 6-9 hour mark if I have no relationship with the author or narrator to cause me to invest more time.

Donnie Eichar plays many roles in this audio.  Not only is he the author and narrator, he is also telling the story not as a third person observer – but as first person, as Donnie was part of a team that followed in the tracks of the hikers in 2012, trying to bring in new answers to an old mystery.

I did enjoy this listen.  It was very interesting to learn about the hiking group, listen to parts of their journal and discoveries, and try to piece together what may have happened.

While this book will not give you a full out positive answer as to what did happen, it does go over many theories which Donnie Eichar will tell you why some theories hold merit and others do not.  In the end, Donnie will also give you his thoughts on the mystery that surrounds the Dyalov Pass tragedy.


Other stuff:  A movie is 2013 called Devil’s Pass is about 5 filmmakers who retrace the steps of the 1959 hikers.

You Tube has an Unsolved Mysteries video with good insight and pictures of the hikers:


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 23 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Audible Studios
  • Release Date: March 18, 2014




Notes To Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn’t Share In Public by Pamela Ribon

notes to boys, pamela ribson, book journey

Notes To Boys is a memoir of the awkward (occasionally cringe worthy) letters that best-selling author and screen writer Pam Ribon wrote to boys when she was growing up…. some sent (she had a tendency to always make a copy), some not sent… and some she hopes she didn’t send but has a weird feeling that she probably did.

Growing up in a small town in Texas and the internet and cell phones still a long way off, Pam spent time writing letters, LONG deep, and teen angst letters that now – years later she share. Pam laughs at herself, filling in the gaps behind the letters, and adds laugh out loud commentary as she questions this younger version of herself’s motives.

Now married with a child, Pam finds “Young Pam” to be at times a little sad, but mostly a strong boy crazy gal struggling to find who she is and who she will be.




To give my thoughts on this particular audio book I think I need to break it down.

Why I listened to this audiobook:  I enjoy memoirs that are read by the author.  While I admit I had not heard of Pam Ribon (remember at times I do feel like I live under a rock), I thought the synopsis of this one sounded interesting.  After listening to the audible sample, I enjoyed Pam’s fast talking fun way of narrating and her occasional cracking herself up.

What I liked:  Pam is a fast talking funny gal.  Impressively so… how she doesn’t stumble on her words sometimes is a wonder. Her stories in most cases are pretty funny. Tiny warning:  occasionally a bit raunchy.  I enjoyed that to “protect the innocent” each of the boys she wrote about had an alias such as “Holly Hunter Boy” (the boy she watched Broadcast News with) and “Super Mario Brothers Boy.”  She has a quick wit and I liked how she would rabbit trail while reading but never to the point that I was lost.

What I didn’t like:  While there are a couple of moments in the book/audio where Pam shares some deeply personal and painful past happenings, it almost doesn’t fit with this style of book.  Her funny moments are so over the top funny that when she switches gears to share something serious it is like a record scratching.  In most cases this works in memoirs and would have if the letters were not so funny and her narration is so over the top fun that the sad parts were a bit “oh… OH… she is serious here.”  I also have to mention the volume of her narration.  At times Pam becomes very loud even shouting and for me, at one point I was listening in the living room after Hubby had gone to bed and I had to keep adjusting the volume lower for when she became loud and turn it up when she spoke softly.  The same thing happened when I was mowing the lawn and had ear buds in – the volume had to be adjusted so I didn’t hurt my ears when she shouted (and she really shouts!)

Overall:  Pam does do a great job at narration and most of the letters are quite funny.  I had to imagine what kind of girl writes long letters to boys and makes copies?  Then I reminded myself that I am the girl who wrote poetry about EVERYTHING (boys included and one about socks too..and placed my poems in photo albums.  (Remember old school photo albums with that sticky top layer?  Yes – those.)  I recommend giving the audio sample a listen.  I think in book format this would come off well, however if this sounds like your kind of listen, even with the volume adjustments, this is a unique listen that reminded me a bit of Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 17 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Rare Bird Books
  • Release Date: June 18, 2015





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