Monthly Archives: October 2011

It’s Monday! What are You Reading?

Hello and welcome to another fun addition of It’s Monday!  What Are You Reading?

This is a great way to plan out your reading week and see what others are currently reading as well… you never know where that next “must read” book will come from!

I love being a part of this and I hope you do too!  As part of this weekly meme I love to encourage you all to go and visit the others participating in this meme.  I offer a weekly contest for those who visit 10 or more of the Monday Meme participants and leave a comment telling me how many you visited.  **You do not have to have a blog to participate! You receive one entry for every 10 comments, just come back here and tell me how many in the comment area.

Last weeks winner:

Sharon from Sharon’s Garden Of Books!

WOO HOO!!!!  Please choose an item out of the Reading Cafe Grab Shelves  and email me your choice with your mailing address as well!

This week… was a hard week.  Probably the hardest I have had in a long long time and I am still recovering.  If you have been here this week… you know what I am talking about.  Here are the posts that I put up this past week:

Sleepers Run by Henry Mosquera (book review)

Water For Elephants DVD Release!

My Heart Is Broken Over The Loss of A Dear Friend.  😦

The Night Strangers by Chris Bojalian (audio review)

We The Animals by Justin Torres (audio review)

Halloween Giveaway – Laura Child’s book – Skeleton Letters, personally signed hard cover copies!

Reading went out the door after Monday and with all the happenings this week I pretty much shut down other than audio.  This weekend however at the cabin led me back to Monsters Of Men by Patrick Ness which actually felt good to read and let go of all the pain. 

This week I leave for the Cities on Friday afternoon and to Honduras Saturday morning.  I will be gone until the following Friday.  Yes, It’s Monday is planned to go on while I am away and yes, if I can get my head together here there will be posts while I am away.  As for the reading plan…

Yes… yes, I am still reading.  BUT – I will finish this week and I am LOVING it (and seriously need the distraction).

Frank W. Abagnale, alias Frank Williams, Robert Conrad, Frank Adams, and Robert Monjo, was one of the most daring conmen, forgers, imposters, and escape artists in history. In his brief but notorious criminal career, Abagnale donned a pilot’s uniform and copiloted a Pan Am jet, masqueraded as the supervising resident of a hospital, practiced law without a license, passed himself off as a college sociology professor, and cashed over $2.5 million in forged checks, all before he was 21. Known by the police of 26 foreign countries and all 50 states as “The Skywayman,” Abagnale lived a sumptuous life on the lam – until the law caught up with him. Now recognized as the nation’s leading authority on financial foul play, Abagnale is a charming rogue whose hilarious, stranger-than-fiction international escapades and ingenious escapes – including one from an airplane – make Catch Me If You Can an irresistible tale of deceit.

I seen the movie, found the audio on sale and I am LOVING this! 

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod’s family . . .

Still in a bit of creepy October spooky mood, this one should be just the fix… plus I have always wanted to read Gaiman.


Tuesday watch for my fun audio review of Snow Flower and The Secret Fan as well as a movie review and giveaway!

That is all I am going to plan for this week as I suspect as Friday ekes closer I will be busy planning and prepping. 

What are you reading this week?  I am excited to see so please add your Monday What Are You Reading post to the linky below where it says Click here.

Powered by Linky Tools

Click here to enter your link and view this Linky Tools list…

Halloween Weekend – signed Laura Childs Books Giveaway

Happy Halloween weekend all!  I am on a two-day “break” with some friends at our cabin but wanted to leave you with this fun giveaway.

My pal Laura who writes the Tea Shop Mystery cozies and the Scrapbook mystery cozies has offered me two personally signed hard copy editions of Skeleton Letters.  That my friends is sooooo SSSQQQQQQUUUEEEEE worthy 🙂

Check out the fun trailer:

To enter – simply leave a comment here with a fun Halloween tradition (past or present)

For a second (BONUS) entry…. become a follower by signing up for my email subscription on the right hand side bar and in a separate comment let me know that you did.  😀  If you are already a subscriber let me know that in a separate comment as well.

That’s it…. I will choose two random winners on Halloween and then send Laura the winners info and she will sign the books and mail to you personally.

In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!

We The Animals by Justin Torres

Three brothers, the unnamed 7-year-old narrator, Joel, and Manny (both slightly older) .. the three sons to a white mom and a Puerto Rican father who can barely take care of themselves, let alone three sons.  As the boys watched their parents through love and war,

Lacking basic care such as food and shelter…. the brothers go about their days wearing hand me down clothes tied with cords, entertaining themselves through make-believe war games, exploring their environment, and trying to understand this thing called life. 

As the story continues and the boys grow the narrator finds he is drifting from them and the “we”, becomes “they” and eventually…


Author Justin Torres



Rough.  Raw.  We The Animals has left me in a bit of awe…. its hard to describe and as I try to write a synopsis of the book – I know I am not doing it justice.  On audio, as I experienced it, it is a jumble of life stories from the one sons perspective.  Each chapter tells a story… piecing together a life story.

The boys mimic what they see… they use the language of anger their parents use towards each other and the words of forgiveness they also have witnessed.  They mimic, and they share, and they learn…

At first the audio feels chaotic, story to story…. rushing to and from one thing to the next.  I find myself piecing it together… it felt crashing and rolling….

and then it changes, a change I did not see coming and as I listen to it on the audio I pull in my breath tensing against what I believe is being told… what  I know… is being told.


Is it a love story?  Yes 

Is it a story of adolescence?  Yes

And it’s also about family, about poverty, about hardships, and family, and strength, and about growing into who you are… no matter what that may mean.

Overall… I am surprised I was unaware of what this book was coming too, but in a way – I am also impressed with the author’s choice to take an already good book… to another level.  I am sitting here after the audio has ended… processing what I had not seen…


Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include We The Animals


I received this audio from Blackstone Audio

Morning (Mourning) Meanderings… Stages Of Grief

Good morning.  I have been up since 5:30 when sleep… left me.

It has now been two and a half days and I swear I am going through the stages of grief. 

1.  Denial – I keep making deals in my mind that I want him back…. after all there is no way what just happened…. happened.

2.  Anger – I have blamed me for not choosing to keep him with us longer…. I blame the vet (poor Steve….. he really is a fantastic guy) for assisting us in making the decision, I blame my husband for not feeling the level of pain that I do.

3.  Bargaining – I have decided that if I wake up in the morning and Elmo is back I will not question that… (knowing full well as I type this that is just crazy….) I do want to take it back.  I do.

4.  Depression – no doubt about it.  I am quiet.  I am having trouble eating and my heart is mourning. 

5.  Acceptance…. I feel is around the corner.  I know we did the right thing.  Deep down, I do know this.  However, acceptance does not seem to make it hurt any less.

I apologize for being such a downer these days… believe me – this is not where I want to be either.  Somehow though, putting it out here… helps.  All I can say now it that this too… will (MUST) pass… and please bear with me as I process my way through.

I am going to the cabin late this afternoon with my cousin’s wife Rhonda, and three other girls I have become friends with through the MS bike rides.  This trip was planned out weeks ago and while I struggle with going… I think it will be a good thing to just take a couple of days to breathe in and out like a normal person.  🙂

My reading has suffered this week… I have not been able to concentrate on words on pages and as much as I long to pick up one of the many books waiting patiently for me… my concentration is not there.  Thank goodness audio has filled some of that emptiness in my car and throughout my time at home. 

ASUS, (laptop) will not be making this trip with me… if I get organized today, I am hoping to set a couple of reviews up for the next couple days.  Other than that, please know I will be back in full force and I am excited to actuality have time to visit those of you with blogs and see what is happening in your worlds.  🙂

The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian

After Airline Pilot Chip Linton’s emergency landing in Lake Champlain resulted in the death of most of his passengers on his small plane, Chip moved his wife Emily and their ten-year old twin daughters to a remote Victorian home in Northern New Hampshire. 

The plan was for Chip and his family to start fresh after the accident, but Chip is haunted by the memories of the crash, as well as it seems he is haunted by passengers that died on that fateful flight.  While Chip is battling the inner demons of the 39 lost people on his flight, a long ago sealed door is found in the basement of their home with 39 six-inch long carriage bolts.


While Chip makes a frightening discovery behind the bolted door… his wife Emily finds herself drawn to a group of herbalists in the area who seem to have taken an obsessive interest in her twin daughters.  Torn between the strange behavior her husband is now producing as he spends more and more time in the basement, and the odd women herbalists giving her children new names… Emily is left struggling to maintain her family when all she really wants to do is pack up and get far away from this strange place.

I am kind of digging this cover...

It’s hard to believe now that in my early 20’s horror/thrillers were my favorite genre.  Then, I read everything that Stephen King and Dean Koontz put out there.  As years went on, I went away from King, still enjoy a good Koontz, but have really moved on to a tamer, Harlan Coben for my fix. However, occasionally I have a craving (much like I do for 80’s music), where I want to dab a bit into the spooky genre, hoping to bring back the old thrills I used to get reading them.

This fact, along with my desire to read something by Chris Bohjalian, brought me to Night Strangers.  For this time of year, if just felt like it could be spooky good.

So… is it?

Well no doubt about it that Night Strangers will make you hear every bump in the night.  Putting anything in the basement is pretty spooky for me and that is barely touching the hair-raising happenings of Chris Bohjalian’s tale of the paranormal. 

I definitely got what I was craving and then some… I tend to lean more towards the good old spooky ghost stories than the modern paranormal horror so at times there was a bit of “WHOA!”  For the most part… I would call this book a ghost story with a triple energy drink kick. After all what s not to love about a book where not all your characters are living?  😯

If you are looking for a little spooky in your pre-Halloween week, look no further for great writing that will definitely make the hair on your neck tingle and have you checking the basement door. 


Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading map has been updated to include Night Strangers

I purchased this audio from

Morning Meanderings…. Recovery (ing)

Good morning.

As you probably can imagine from yesterdays post that I am beyond heartbroken over the loss of our pet (friend, companion) Elmo.  I get that this is going to be a slow process, I knew someday I would be writing the post that I did, but I did not anticipate this level of pain.

Yesterday was a busy day which was probably a good thing.  I am going to Honduras on November 5 – November 11 and two of the guys on the team are from the Ukraine.  Dima is 28 and a Pastor in the Ukraine and he is here for the first time in the United States staying with our Pastor through Thanksgiving who met him many years ago when he was in Ukraine on a mission trip.  Dima speaks little english.  Boris is 25 and Dima’s interpreter. Yesterday I took both of them in to get their shots for the Honduras trip.  It was kind of fun (and a great distraction from life) to go and assist them with the paperwork.  They say our hospital is nothing like the hospitals in Ukraine.

They are both extremely nice and I am excited to see them on this Honduras trip with us. 

Today I work (also good) and tonight I have dinner with friends for a long overdue baby shower get together.  (also good).

I have reviews to post and books to read and while life is difficult right now to say the least, I know that I need to move ahead.  Thank you all who sent kind words… while its hard for me to talk about, I really do appreciate every comment and it means the world to me to have all your kind support.

My Heart Is Broken Over The Loss Of A Dear Friend

In Memory of Elmo Jo DeChantal

September 18 1997 – October 25 2011

 Elmo came into our life in late 1997.  My son Justin and I went and picked him out at a kennel.  He was nothing but a 6 week old fur ball with eyes.  He was born with a hernia, had a scratch through one eye and a heart murmur…. he was perfect!

Bailey and Elmo on lake Superior in the wind

I tucked him inside my coat and we brought him home to surprise the family.  We all loved Elmo from day one… he was just what our family needed. 

In 1999, while talking to the boys at the dinner table one January evening, we discovered

AL with Bailey and Elmo

that Elmo had got off the leash while outside and he was gone.  I followed his tracks in the snow down our driveway where I could see he had been in the ditch and then I seen where a car had pulled over and picked him up.  I was devastated and unable to go to work the next two days.  The boys and I made signs and hung them up from the bar down the road all the way to every business all the way to the Casino which is about 40 miles away.  Four days later my husband took a phone call while I was at work from a bartender down the road.  He said a woman had stopped in earlier in the week and said she had just picked up a dog on the highway and she was going to take him to her daughter who worked at the casino.  Later that same night a second phone call came in from a

Justin with Elmo

girl who worked at the casino but claimed she found him wandering the streets around the casino.  She had taken him in, fed him from the buffet at the casino and took him home to Peirz Minnesota (about 40 miles away in a different direction).  Al loaded up the boys and went and paid the reward we had offered to get Elmo back.  What a miracle!

In 2000 while I was at work the boys were home from school one June and left the door to the deck open.  Sure enough, I get home from work and Elmo is gone!  I jump in my car driving up and down the roads near us, not knowing how long he had been gone or what direction he had went.  I spoke to my aunt who lives down the road and an hour later she called me – he had been found down the road on the other side of the

Brad and Elmo

busy highway about 4 houses down.. they were bringing him back to me now.  Again, we got lucky.

In 2009, I was cleaning the house one weekend and Elmo must have followed me outside when I took the garbage out.  Soon after my neighbor is knocking at my back deck door trying to be heard over my vacuuming, she had Elmo in her arms and said he had just been hit by a car.   I rushed him to the vet as he was bleeding from the mouth and after being checked over he was discovered to have…. road rash.  That’s it.  This 10 pound dog survived being hit by a car!

I share these stories with you because Elmo truly was a miracle in our lives.  We all loved him and he was truly the best dog I have ever – or will ever have.  Letting him go this afternoon was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do and I am a wreck. 

Our boys are now 21 and 23… that shows you how long Elmo has been with us.

He completed our family.  He was my constant reading companion.  I will miss him forever.

Elmo the afternoon of October 25th, 2011

Water For Elephants DVD Release Soon!

As the story opens, Jacob is living out his days in a nursing home and hating every second of it.  Now in the last stages of his life, he recalls a happier, carefree time, when he literally had run away from it all and joined the circus. 

It had not started as a happy journey however.  Jacobs parents are killed in an auto accident week before he is about to complete his college medical exams to become a veterinary.  Once he has buried his parents, Jacob learns that the home he live sin was mortgaged for his schooling and he is about to lose it all.  With nothing left but the shirt on his back, he takes off and jumps a train, soon to be discovered as a Benzini Brothers (second-rate at best) Circus Train.

Water For Elephants is the story of Jacobs time with the circus, starting from the bottom of the bottom and working his way up not only in stature, but also in the eyes of Marlena, the wife of the jealous and abusive animal trainer, August.

In 2009, my book club, The Bookies, read Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen.  In a phrase, we loved it from “I am ninety. Or ninety-three. One or the other.”  Our group loved this book and it led us to such a great discussion of the realities and harshness of the inner workings of the circus.  Later, when it came to out year in review awards that we do every year, Jacob won for our favorite male character in a book club read for 2009, and Sara Gruen took our best newly read author award. 

On November 1, the DVD release of Water For Elephants will hit the stores. (SSQQUUEE!!!!) I was offered a pre screening of this movie to post my thoughts on and having loved (LOVED!) the book so much I jumped at the chance to see the DVD.

I did not have time to get the Bookies together for a screening, but still plan to do so…. instead, I treated myself to the viewing of this movie one evening and was as giddy as a school girl to experience it.  Robert Patterson (Jacob) and Reese Witherspoon (Marlena) are cast well.  I was very impressed with how they handled both the parts. 

Although it has been two years since I have read the book, it easily came back to me through the movie.  Charlie, Camel, Kinko… there are some colorful characters in both book and movie!

I would have liked to have seen more of the flash backs we see in the book of older Jacob to young Jacob, but honestly, I feel the movie works and is a beautiful compliment to the book.

If you have not read the book I highly encourage you to do so, and certainly make sure you get a chance to see this movie as well.  For those of you who have, or will be, experiencing both book and movie, I am attaching a page of questions for you to review with your book group or friends. 

Book to Movie Study Guide

Morning Meanderings… A Little Heavy Hearted

Good morning.

A little heavy hearted this morning as I write this. 

Our dog (companion, friend…) of 15 year has been struggling lately with his breathing off and on.  I think he has tumors in his throat, I feel little marble size lumps.  Yesterday afternoon when it was dinner time he would not eat which forced me to do the thing I have been dreading… call our vet.

We have an appointment for this afternoon at 4:40 and I am trying to be optimistic…. knowing very well the odds are against me.  I have pretty much turned into a teary eyed weepy version of myself.  I have never had to do this before, we live near a busy highway and all of our dogs from me growing up here to moving here with my husband, have met their demise on that highway….

Not Elmo.  Although he too has been on that road, all 8 pounds of him survived.  He is our miracle dog.

This is last Christmas when both boys were home: R: Brad, Elmo, and Justin. Both of my boys currently have this as their Facebook profile pic



SO … that is current.  Moving on to something lighter, I worked out at Group Power yesterday morning and feel really good.  I can not wait to get back into a routine- NEED to get back into a routine. 

Today I have a busy day at work, we are cleaning a large storage area so I will be busy and keeping my mind off later today and that will be a good thing.  Bookish wise… I have not made a dent…. but audio has been flowing as I am almost done with my two current audio, Snow Flower and The Secret Fan and We The Animals.

I hope everyone has a great day 🙂

Sleepers Run by Henry Mosquera

Eric Caine, a War On Terrorism veteran, finds himself in a hospital with no recollection of the car crash that put him there.  A missing persons report has been filed on him and that was 8 days ago!

Eric is feeling lost, confused, and alone when a chance encounter at a bar helps Eric gain a little perspective.  He relocates to Venezuela where he had spent his childhood and then things take a turn again as a catastrophic event threatens the stability of the country.  Eric now finds himself running for his life from a team of CIA assassins as he works to uncover a conspiracy that is nothings as it seems. 

I am not much of a terrorist/war/CIA/assassin/politics type reader.  Admittedly this book wasa bit of a genre stretch for me, yet I wanted to read and review it anyway.


Genre stretching is a good thing and I have found that sometimes a book out of my genre zone will grab me and if not for my willingness to stretch myself, I may have missed it. 

Take Sleepers Run for instance.  I did enjoy the action packed read and if ACTION is what you enjoy, Sleepers Run has it in spades.  There really is no release button as you follow Eric’s story from the beginning to the breathless end 345 pages later. 

Eric himself is a bit over the top as characters go…. picture MacGyver, Superman, Jason Bourne, Jackie Chan, and maybe a little Indiana Jones… all rolled into one character.  Yup.  Eric has moves.   While at times I found this almost humorous as I thought, “how will he get out of this one….”, it still kept me turning pages to see where it was all going.

Friend and foe alike are tossed in throughout this read and I honestly never felt connected to any of them, Eric included.  The book to me became more about the action and page turning then getting to know and care about any of the characters…. in the end, as I reflected on the read… I was not even sure that this was necessarily important.  Perhaps a different take than my normal reading style but not a bad one… just different. 

Fans of espionage type reads will probably get into this more than I did, but for this being a stretch for me… I was held enough to read through the book and enjoy it. 

Amazon Rating

I received a copy of this book from

Meryl L. Moss Media Relations, Inc.