The Bremer Library and Literacy Leadership Institute (and me)


Last week I was thrilled to be a part of the initiative for this new program to build the strength and integrity of libraries and literacy programs throughout the state of Minnesota.  6 libraries and 6 Literacy partnership  agencies were chosen to partake in this institute.  3 people were sent from each area, I represented the Brainerd Library along with the Librarian and another Library employee.

The institute was this past Thursday and Friday.  It involves another weekend in November, an assessment in January, and a wrap up in May of 2013.  To be a part of the Institute you have to be available each step of the way. 


Our common goal? 

“The foundation funding of $388,540 will support an initiative to strengthen the leadership of rural libraries and literacy organizations in order to enhance the service these organizations provide to their communities. The initiative will offer training sessions to small cohorts of library and literacy leaders on critical aspects of running a rural library or literacy organization, from budgeting and board development to strategic planning and cultural competency.”

as seen on the Otto Bremer Foundation site

Our first day we spent going over our strengths as individuals.  We all had taken the Strength Finders test as past of this group (I reviewed this book a while back and if you have never took the test I highly recommend it – it is enlightening – the code to take the test is sealed in the back on of the book).  They then explained the strengths and how they work together with those in our own groups, as well as with other in the Institute.  I had taken this test over a year ago for work and it was fun to do it again and see how my strengths lined up this second time:

My current top 5 are:


Strategic:  (Talent driven, these people are innovative, inventive, original, and resourceful. 


Arranger:  (someone who can take the role of team leader or team player as needed, arranging ideas in a creative way people with these strengths tend to come up with more ideas for brainstorming)


Maximizer:  (someone who sees something good, and has the skills and ambition to make it even better.  By nature these people enjoy taking full advantage of their talents, enjoy playing games for fun.)


Adaptability:  (A free spirit who is seldom thrown off task by unexpected events and comments.  Instead you react to things as they occur.  You are quite comfortable at letting the future unfold at its own pace.  You do better if you are free to respond to demands as they arise.  Understandably you dislike being forced to follow someone else’s plan of action. 


Empathy:  (You are aware of the fluctuating moods of individuals.  You can adjust your responses by how the persons mood is set.  You may be known as a giver, not a taker.  You sense when someone could use assistance. 


It really is quite fun!

That evening we had a dinner where they sat us together by our top strengths.  I was with a table of Strategic people and we had questions we would answer as table discussion.  It was interesting to get to know the other participants. 

On Friday we switched gears and had discussion on raising money which normally is not something I enjoy but a particular discussion had me taking notes like crazy, talking to people afterwards for more information, lining up a phone meeting and well… I dont want to say too much right now but I hopeful that I am on to something that could be rather exciting and raise funds next year for our Library and Literacy programs locally. 




As Friday went on we had the lunch speaker, author Kao Kaila Yang who I wrote about on Saturday.  Later in the day we spent time discussing goals with our assigned mentors who will be guiding up through this seven month process. 

I really enjoyed my time working with this institute and learning more about our local Library and how it functions as well as the literacy obstacles we need to overcome as a state (funding cuts in schools, etc…)  It really is an honor to be a part of this and I will keep you informed each step of the way. 

Here is some more information on what we are doing. 

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Welcome to 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: West Virginia Red Reads

Congratulations!  Please choose a book or bookish item from the Reading Cafe!

**Please note I am way behind on sending out books so if you are waiting on a book from me I do apologize.  I am planning on packaging and taking a trip to the post office this Tuesday so be sure if you are waiting on a book from me that you have sent your mailing address (not PO box numbers) to my email at

I have still not surpassed that reading slump.  I don’t even think “slump” is the right word because its not that I don’t want to read, its that time has not allowed for reading and by the time I get home from whatever I am too tired.  That should change a bit this week as I leave for Florida on Thursday morning and will have plane reading time and a little down time too while there with College Son visiting Navy Son through the weekend.  😀

Last week here are the posts I put up:

Good In Bed by Jennifer Weiner

Building a Pole Barn to survive a Zombie Apocalypse

I Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge



SO here is what is on the reading plan for this week:

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating mistrust and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings. Now eighteen and emancipated from the system with nowhere to go, Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But an unexpected encounter with a mysterious stranger has her questioning what’s been missing in her life. And when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

This is out book club pick for November.

Nashville music star and family man, Cole Michaels, is persuaded to embrace an ‘American Dream’ theology that promises comfort, happiness, and success. But when the unimaginable happens, Cole blames God and abandons his faith. More vulnerable than ever, he is clueless that an evil character with an unspeakable secret is using every available resource to find him.

Can two old sages, a beautiful blonde, a violin called the Mysterious Lady, and a Triumph motorcycle help prepare Cole for his ultimate trial?

Many years ago I fell in love with Randall’s writing – I devoured the three books he had out and waited and waited for more but nothing came…. here is where blogging gets cool – when he wrote this book – he found me, emailed me and asked me to review it.  😛

Based on more than forty interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Walter Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and searingly intense personality of a creative entrepreneur whose passion for perfection and ferocious drive revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing.

At a time when America is seeking ways to sustain its innovative edge, and when societies around the world are trying to build digital-age economies, Jobs stands as the ultimate icon of inventiveness and applied imagination. He knew that the best way to create value in the twenty-first century was to connect creativity with technology. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.  

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written nor even the right to read it before it was published. He put nothing off-limits. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. And Jobs speaks candidly, sometimes brutally so, about the people he worked with and competed against. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

Just a book I have really been interested in.





In search of a place to call home, thousands of Hmong families made the journey from the war-torn jungles of Laos to the overcrowded refugee camps of Thailand and onward to America. But lacking a written language of their own, the Hmong experience has been primarily recorded by others. Driven to tell her family’s story after her grandmother’s death, The Latehomecomer is Kao Kalia Yang’s tribute to the remarkable woman whose spirit held them all together. It is also an eloquent, firsthand account of a people who have worked hard to make their voices heard.

Beginning in the 1970s, as the Hmong were being massacred for their collaboration with the United States during the Vietnam War, Yang recounts the harrowing story of her family’s captivity, the daring rescue undertaken by her father and uncles, and their narrow escape into Thailand where Yang was born in the Ban Vinai Refugee Camp.

When she was six years old, Yang’s family immigrated to America, and she evocatively captures the challenges of adapting to a new place and a new language. Through her words, the dreams, wisdom, and traditions passed down from her grandmother and shared by an entire community have finally found a voice.

I met Kao this past week at a literacy conference and she blew me away… I could not wait to read her book!




That’s the plan – what is yours?  I would love to see what you are reading and what you read this past week as well.  Please link up your What Are You Reading post below where it says click here.  I am going to try to get around to your posts as I can this week. 

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and those of you who read mainly children’s through YA reads – please ALSO link your post here:

I, Michael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

Life has never really been easy for Detective Michael Bennett.  After he and his wife adopted ten , children (not a typo), she took ill and eventually died of cancer.  For years non Michael has been making it work with the help of Grandpa Seamus and the live in nanny Mary Catherine.  He juggles life between the kids and his job and for the most part it works.

Then Michael finds himself with the opportunity to be part of taking down a big time crime lord and after the set up is launched and the gun smoke has cleared, a good friend and fellow officer is left dead and the crime lord has escaped.  Michael feels as though he is about to crack in two, and instead grabs the whole family, Seamus and Mary Catherine too and  heads to the sanctuary of their family cabin in Newburgh New York. 

At first this time away is bliss, kids splashing in the lake, burgers and steaks on the grill.  really just what the doctor ordered – but as Michael has learned all to well time and again… things are not always as they seem.  When two of his kids get caught up with some local gang members things go bad very quickly… what starts out as looking random is soon discovered it is not.  It looks that Michael and hid family are being targeted.

Whats a guy got to do for a little “r and r”?


I just seen this new cover…. is that what Michael looks like? Is it? Is it???? 😉


I have enjoyed the Patterson/Ledwidge author combo in this series since I first listened to the first book in this series, Step On A Crack, which explains the Bennett family dynamics.  This series is not as gruesome as some of Patterson’s books can be, the family dynamics really give it a nice level feel without being overly gushy the other direction…. Michael is still a detective in New York and the crimes are sometimes harsh.

As this series goes on I am really enjoying it.  The story line has not become old for me, I enjoy the family and the underlying possible relationship (someday…. maybe…) between Mary Catherine and Michael.  The kids, ages 3 to 13, offer a fun addition to the books to as kids will be kids… the little ones adorable… the older boys getting into mischief as you will see in this book. 

I have seen on-line a bit of grumbling about how this one ends and some others saying they didn’t know they would have to read another book. To that I say…. hello….. you are in the middle of a series and no one has said “Michael Bennett – The End yet. 😀  If I were to guess, I am going to say that due to the way this one ended I think the series is going to wrap up soon with this one big case. 

If you like a good detective story with really good characters and writing, give these books a try.  I have thoroughly enjoyed them all on audio.  Something about Patterson’s narrated books that are pretty AWESOME! 

Sunday Check List, MONSTER Dash, and A WHOLE LOT OF Fun Books!

Good Morning.  😀  For a while now I have been wanting to put my own twist on a Sunday post.  I like the Sunday Salon, but wanted to implement another cool thing I have seen occasionally around the blogs and that is when people kind of check list what they have going on in different areas of their life.  Today I am going to give it a test run and see how it goes.



I am reading The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang


I am listening to I, Steve Jobs (IPOD), Late Late at Night by Rick Springfield (kitchen CD player), Child 44 (car)


I am hoping today…. I can finish a book, write a couple of reviews, visit some blogs


I am working on… getting ready to go to Florida later this week


I am looking forward to… Florida and hanging out with both of my boys!


I need to… prep some books for mailing, laundry, return some items around town


I want to… watch a movie tonight with popcorn and a warm blanket


I am watching… a light snow fall


The books that entered the doors this week are:


All are review books except Lord Of The Flies is a win from Banned Book Week and fall to grace was a book I bought after a raving recommendation by a friend.

For those of you who know that I did the Monster Dash yesterday morning (and if you didn’t you do now! :razz:), it was cool out but wasn’t cold until I stopped running then I got COLD fast!  My friend Amy (AKA Wonder Woman) was a trooper and waited for me when I had to make an unplanned bathroom stop at an Assisted Living Home on route as I was not sure I would make it the whole way.  GAH.   I will post more picks of this event next weekend for Saturday snapshot but for one of us in action:

Running in the Monster Dash! Me and my friend Amy who will do just about anything crazy with me!

So that’s my morning post.  Hope your Sunday is wonderful.  Are you doing anything fun?

Sometimes A Book Comes Along That Makes You Drop Everything Else You Are Reading


For the last two days I have been a part of a Rural Library and Literacy Leadership Institute that is embarking on a seven month journey together.  This was our first meeting together and I was thrilled to be a part of it, representing along with two others, the Brainerd Minnesota Public Library.  I will write more later about what we are doing as a group, but this morning I wanted to share one happening from yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon when we broke away for lunch our lunch time speaker was Kao Kalia Yang.  She is a Minnesota author that not only overcame great hurdles to learn English, but wrote a book, The Late Homecomber that has won two awards.  I am sad to say that prior to this encounter yesterday I was unfamiliar with Kao or her book.

When we walked to our seats where we would be dining I was excited to see that we each had a copy of the book waiting on our chair.  I whispered to my teammates that I loved events where books were given out!  As we started our salads, this petite 31-year-old woman took the microphone and I wish (WISH WISH WISH!) that I had recorded what she had to say, but wasn’t sure if that was the polite thing to do and she spoke so elegantly, so passionately that I am not sure I could have held my phone up anyway.

I found this speech of hers on You Tube, don’t be frightened by its length, if you can listen even to the first 4 minutes of it you will get why I was so impressed on. 



When Kao spoke yesterday I was so impressed by the passions she carried for her book.  I have heard other authors speak about hardships in their memoirs and it is like after talking about it so much they lose the power of the words they speak of – does that make sense?  Its like when they talk, it is so longer themselves they are speaking of but some other person.  This is not the case with Kao.  When she read from her book with such genuine emotion I knew I had to read her book… and read it this weekend.

SO this morning I will be putting on a wedding dress and zombie make up and participating in the Crosslake Monster Dash, but this afternoon… I will be reading The Late Homecomber and if it is as good as I think it is going to be…. look out Bookies Book Club I will be plugging this to you as well.  😀


Kao and I. Kao was born in Thailand’s refugee camp and immigrated to Minnesota when she was six. Kao is currently a Professor at Minnesota State University.

Morning Meanderings… The Comprehensive Plan For Surviving a Zombie Apocalypse

Good morning!  I like this picture because it really captures most mornings for me…. coffee coffee coffee, like fuel to a car. 😛

Those of you who have blogged for any amount of time have probably had offers made for people to guest post on your blog.  The truly funny ones are ones that have nothing to do with what you blog about, they could be offering to share with your readers about tires for your car, UGG Boots, vitamins and vacation destinations… all of which have been plugged to me…. and no they did not offer anything in return or I may have caved on the vacation one and Book Journey would have become “Traveling With Book Journey” or something like that…. and I would go to fascinating places like Hawaii and Aruba and telling you what I was reading while sipping some delicious fruity drink and sporting some amazing tan…


a girl can dream.

I digress..

SO, a couple of days ago I receive the email says that they noticed I talk about zombies from time to time.  😯

I do?


This is a stretch but their may have been zombie like creatures in the Passage that I read a couple of years ago… Flyers or Virals I believe they were called…  hmmmm….. well anyway, it was the next line that caught my attention…


we thought your readers may like detailed information on how to prepare a barn or garage for the zombie apocalypse.

Well… what sort of person would I be if I did not pass this vital information on to you?  And seriously, what if this post…. saved a life?  😛


And honestly, we are still five days out from Halloween… plenty of time to grab a couple of buddies and put up a pole barn.  😉  AND as the article says, since money will soon be useless, why not opt for the concrete floor?  This will lead to avoiding zombies tunneling under your building.

The article goes from how to design your pole barn, to how to stock it, the weapons you need… a team.  One of my favorite parts of the article is choosing your team…

Choosing Your Survival Team

As with everything in life, it’s all about the people you know. The last thing you want to do it be holed up with a useless, hysterical mob.

Stay away from:

  • People in the entertainment industry* (actors, singers, models, etc.)

  • People in useless white collar trades like SEOs, marketing professionals, accountants, and salesmen

  • People who are overly bubbly or overly depressing (you’d wind up throwing them to the zombies eventually)

*The exception to this rule might be comedians…everyone needs a good laugh!

Your ideal team of Zombie Apocalypse survivors will include:

  • Someone with military and/or police experience, preferably an expert marksman

  • Someone with hunting/foraging experience

  • A nurse, doctor, or veterinarian (honestly, a vet might be your best bet if you also have livestock)

  • Someone with farming/gardening experience

  • A handyman who has mechanical experience

  • A genius who dabbles in everything from computers to mechanical engineering

  • A few “blue collar” folk not afraid to get their hands dirty, learn new things, and do some grunt work



Isn’t that awesome?  That’s my funny for the day.  I am still in the cities at the library/literacy Leadership Training.  Day one was good and in about an hour we will kick off day two.  I will be heading back home tonight after 5.   Hope your day is wonderful.  I am listening to I, Michael Bennett this morning on my IPOD,  love that series.  🙂


Oh… and if you want to read the rest of the article on Surviving the Zombie Apocalypse, ummm…. you know, just for ummmm…. research.  Feel free to do so here.

Morning Meanderings… Dropping Off The Face Of The Blog



I have to say that going into this week I had no idea that I was going to go MIA this week.   Life has a way of zapping all my time and energy lately.  I thought this week was going to be mellower, but if this gives you any inkling of how things are going, I am currently in a car going to the cities for a Library Assessment/two day meeting. 

No… I am not driving.  😛

I did actually write a fun post yesterday morning and my computer did that AWESOME thing again where I hit post it logged me out of wordpress and I had lost half of the post and no time to rewrite before work. 

So anyway I am alive, just still living a crazy life that should (really…) slow down after I get back from Florida that first week of November.  I will keep in touch now throughout the weekend – I am in a hotel in the cities tonight so should have some time to review and write a little.  😀