Monthly Archives: February 2013

The Sky Is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

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Oh wow!  I laughed out loud and at times stifled a cry at the tone of this book.  Jandy Nelson writes like John Green and that is a HIGH HIGH compliment coming from me.

~ Sheila

17-year-old Lennie and her older sister Bailey are two peas in a pod.  Being raised by their grandmother the two girls find comfort and companionship with each other after their mother had went out “exploring” one day and never came back.  When Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie is beside herself with grief.  When Bailey’s boyfriend Toby starts hanging around they console each other and Lennie feels that Toby may be the only one in the world who feels the pain of loss as deeply as she does.

Then a new boy comes to town.  Joe is everything Lennie would like to be.  He is confident and talented and oh soooo good-looking.  When they meet each other in music class Lennie feels a spark she never knew existed and they start hanging out together.  Yet Toby is still there and when Lennie is with Toby she feels as though she is close to Bailey as well, even though her attraction to Toby disgusts her and she feels guilty that he was her sister’s boyfriend; and as she finds out along the way – even more than that.

How do you move on from a life that centered around a sibling that knew you as well as you knew yourself, that not only shared your room… but shared your heart.  How does one go on living… go on breathing the air in a world you once shared?

 

 

 

First off…. every one who has already read or listened to this book and raved about it please feel free to kick me for not reacting sooner.  It always amazes me when an incredible read is sitting right under my nose and by the time I pick it up I am stunned to realize it is a book I am probably going to love forever.

Meet The Sky Is Everywhere.

I listened to this book on audio while I was painting and it engaged me right away (always a plus).  I was not bogged down with an overload of background story, characters to remember, places to recount, and facts to store…  Nope.  Right away The Sky Is Everywhere opens up and reveals its heart and it’s heart is Lennie. 

For someone who has experienced grief over the loss of a sibling, I can honestly say Lennie’s pain, Lenny’s attempts to hold on, were very real.  My heart broke with hers as she clung to her sisters memory trying to stay within its shadow and not let any light in.  I have been there.

Yet – miraculously, life does go on, if we want it to or not.   In this book Lennie’s moving on is wonderfully “teenagerish” (yet growing up too) , as well as engaging listening.  Kudos to the narration by Julie Whelan who had me at times laughing at Lennie’s reaction to her environment and at times holding back a sob.  Honestly, I have not been this excited about this style of read since I discovered John Green.

I believe if you enjoy John Green, you are totally going to get The Sky Is Everywhere and feel like gushing about it too.  Do not hesitate to run to your local book store and pick up this wonderful book.  Oh and then be sure to come back and tell me here how FABULOUS it was! 

Morning Meanderings… What Are The Odds Of Character Names Like That?

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Hee hee.  I look like the above picture this morning.  HELLO Coffee 🙂 

Over the weekend if you have been hanging out (lurking?  😛 ) around here you know I took on a MASSIVE painting project. While painting 12 hours over the weekend I listened to and finished two audio books, A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty, and The Sky Is Everywhere.  What was interesting about these two books (well, one of the things that was interesting) is that they both have a pretty important character named ‘Big’ in them.  Yes, Big.

SO I finished listening to A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty where our main girl lives with her Grandmother, Big.  Then I move on to The Sky is Everywhere and as the book starts I hear the narrator talk about Uncle Big and I am thinking I heard wrong.  I can imagine there being two Bobs or Jenny’s or John’s.  But Big?  I can not think of any other book I have read in all my years of reading that had a character named Big. 

Now I can mention two.

😛

I have yet to write-up the reviews but expect to see The Sky Is Everywhere today mainly because I can not stop gushing about this book and that is all I can think about as I try to choose my next audio knowing there is a pretty good chance it will not be as good as what I have just listened to. 

Alright, I must go get ready for work.  Any books or audio that you have LOVED this much recently?  Please share titles!  😀

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

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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.

Under the new and hopefully improved 2013 guidelines, the winner each week will receive a $5 Amazon gift card.  This past weeks winner is:

POGUE !!!!

 

Well another week has gone by and while my list of accomplishments is much… my reading is not.  However… after paining for 12 hours over the weekend I am thrilled to say I have devoured quite a bit of audio – finished two and almost done with a third.  😛

 

SO here is what I did manage to post this past week:

 

The Lost Summer by Louisa May Alcott (Soooooo good!)

 

 

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes (Fans of Gone Girl, you much check this one out!!!)

 

 

Love Is The Cure by Elton John  (fantastic information on the continued fight against AIDS)

 

 

Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly  (Superb!)

 

 

One book, three audio.  Thanks goodness for audio!  😛  For this week I have going:

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Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life – and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.

I have books to finish and not really sure at this time where I will go from here so I am going to leave at this, but want to say I am currently listening to The Sky Is Everywhere and LOVING it so if you know any more books like this one let me know because I am flying through it. 😀

What are you reading this week?  Please add you link below where it says click here.  I would love to see your posts!

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For those of you who review mainly Middle Grade (MG) and/or Young Adult (YA) reads, please also add your link to this meme as well:

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Killing Kennedy by Bill O’Reilly

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John F Kennedy took the White House by storm.  He was young, we was intelligent and with Jackie Kennedy by his side they were a power team.

Yet behind the big white doors all was not well in what was commonly referred to during the Kennedy’s reign as Camelot.  Kennedy had a liking of women and many throughout his tears as president visited the White House and John, while Jackie, knowing of some, suspecting more, of her husbands flings would take long weekends away from the White House giving both her and her husband space.

Camelot was a place where actresses were entertained by both John and Jackie.  Lavish parties were held by the couple, and while the above states an unfaithful man, in the end John really did love Jackie and Jackie loved John.

Of course, being President is not all fun and games and campaigning and keeping the country in order was a lot of work for both of the Kennedy’s.  While in the White House Jackie had given birth to a son who passed away being premature, and of course she had the two children Caroline and John Jr.

This read however is not only about the time in the Presidency, but a war is at hand and a dark shadow that has been following JFK for some time… inches closer and closer.

 

 

Bill O’Reilly is not only an engaging writer, he is also a remarkable narrator.  Much like when I listened to The Killing of Lincoln by this very same author, I was fully emerged in the world of the Presidency.  No one can deny that the Kennedy’s were fascinating people.  John’s battle with back pain *which according to this author eventually may have contributed to his death* , the delightful Jacklyn always holding it together even when things were not as they would seem, their children Carolyn and John Jr, and of course John’s brothers… especially Bobby.

If this subject is remotely interesting to you I highly recommend listening to it.  All of the background of the JFK presidency, and the underlying side story of Oswald and his insane behaviors and political views.  I thought it was a very good telling of the Kennedy murder.

Morning Meanderings…Sunday Things

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Good morning and happy Sunday.  There are many great things about today.  1) I finished the BIG painting project.  I am tired, I am sore, but thrilled with the results.  (Oh and if you are curious if painting burns calories, check out my finds here).  If you are my Facebook friend (Sheila DeChantal), you can see the pictures I posted this morning.  Blog readers, I will post the pics here next Saturday for the Saturday Snapshot.  2) Tonight we have a special event at work for leaders that I am kind of excited about.  We are honoring volunteers and I am planning a little “Willy Wonka” like surprise for our group. 😛 .  And 3) and most importantly…. Al comes home this afternoon.  SSSQQQQQQQQUUUUEEEEEEE!!!!!!  He has officially been gone since February 4th at the equipment auctions in Florida.  He had a great time, spent a couple of weekends with our Navy son, friends of ours spent about 4 days with him, but now he is returning home and I am so glad.  😀  (Oh and for those of you who had seen my messy table post…. I have cleaned that up.) 

It was a light book week here, two books graced my doorstep:

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And speaking of reading… my book time this past week has been horrible, however my audio time is rocking.  I listened to audio the entire time I painted and made it through two audio books.  YAY!!!  This week should be a better reading one.  With Al home I will have help around the house and should get a wee bit more down time.

Love Is The Cure on Life, Loss, And The End Of AIDS by Elton John

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In the 1980’s, in the heart of the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic, Elton John watched helplessly as friends too numerous to count, succumbed to this frightening illness.  It wasn’t until he was in a waiting room one day and read an article on Ryan White, the young boy born a hemophiliac, who contracted AIDS through blood transfusions and then was attacked by the school district and parents of students who did not want him to return to school and put (as they thought at the time) their own children at risk of contacting AIDS.

Elton John was furious about the treatment of Ryan White.  While working on cleaning up his own addiction to drugs at the time he conquered this and befriended White and his family.  This began Elton Johns campaign to help others move beyond the stigma of AIDS. 

Love is the Cure is about Elton’s work through The Elton John AIDS Foundation that has raised over $275 million dollars as of the date of this book to fight the disease worldwide.  Impressively, Elton’s campaign has done wonders in third world countries where AIDS is extremely high due to rape, and unprotected sex. 

 

 

I have huge compassion for people with AIDS.  I am a part of a local camp that raises money for AIDS awareness and have met wonderful people through this.  People that I am proud to call my friends. 

When I seen Elton’s book I knew I had to listen to it to hear his thoughts on AIDS.  For the most part, I liked what he said.   It was interesting to listen to this audio, narrated (BRILLIANTLY) by him, as he talked about the early years of AIDS his lack of attentiveness, and to now all that is being done around the world and what has yet to be done. 

Elton had and has powerful connections to Presidents, Musicians, and Actors.  I was impressed to hear all that Bill Clinton has done in the war against AIDS.  I was also saddened as Elton John talked about some of the brilliant people who lost that war, Freddie Mercury (QUEEN), Rock Hudson, Liberace, Anthony Perkins, Issac Asimov, Robert Reed, just to name very few…

Elton’s book is factual, and it is personal.  I am always stunned by the numbers, 34 million people as of 2010 who has been reported as having AIDS, that number is in fact considerably greater as some states to this day do not report AIDS cases and  many never seek treatment and go undiagnosed. 

An eye-opening look at the battle that while not as talked about as it once was, is still being fought to this day. 

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Morning Meanderings… Snapshots of My Minnesota Life

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Good morning!  Happy Saturday.  I am in the middle… no, that’s not right… I am in the first third of a MASSIVE painting project.  I decided I was going to paint our downstairs addition yesterday so off I went to buy paint and all the fixings.  This is a HUGE undertaking.  We finished off the basement in 2004 and the area I am painting is all of that… the wall at the top of the stairs, the stairwell wall area, a couple smaller areas and then an open family area.  Basically about 5 gallons of paint worth.  😯  It sounded like a great idea yesterday to surprise Al with this but after not getting started until 5:30 pm last night and working on it until 10:30 pm and knowing I have about 5 or 6 more hours of paining ahead of me… yeah….lets just say I better LOVE this color a LONG time.  😛  Pics of this next weekend.

Today however, I thought it would be fun to show you some pictures (for Saturday Snapshot)of what my Minnesota life is like.  Not all of you live in areas that have winters like we do, or if you, you may not heat your home the way we do.

We heat our house with hot water heat.  Yes, that was a new term to me about 8 years ago too.  

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The stove sits outside between our business (DeChantal Excavating) and our home. It burns wood that heats pipes that are filled with water – so essentially hears out home and business with a hot water heat that is a clean heat.

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In cold temps it can be a real pain, but this winter has been fairly mild so usually it is filled once in the morning, once mid afternoon, and once at night. You control the heat in house with a temperature dial.

 

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Here is our business, far behind the house. Initially the stove was going to be just to hear that, but when installed we discovered it was only a couple hundred dollars more to run the pipes to the house as well.

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For me the wood pile can be a real pain. I search out pieces I can lift and since I can not pick up the great big ones that fill it fast, it takes me about 10 – 15 trips to fill the stove.

 

 

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This is the back up pile in the event that what we have cut up does not make it through the winter. We purchase the wood locally.

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One fun bonus – about 7 wild cats live in the excess woodpile. No idea where they came from but sometimes in the afternoon I will see them when I fill the stove and they will watch me. Occasionally I leave them scraps but they are all rather healthy looking so they are finding food somewhere. I was hoping to get some pictures of them but they were not out this morning.

So there is a little about my life beyond the books.  😀  For more Saturday Snapshots, stop by Alyce’s At Home With Books.

Into The Darkest Corner by Elizabeth Haynes

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In 2007 Catherine Bailey is afraid.  She is afraid to leave her home.  She is afraid to be in public.  She double checks door locks. Locked in her own world of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) her inner fears have completely taken over her life.  (If you have ever seen the movie Copy Cat – and I highly recommend you do – it is something like that).

But things were not always this way for Catherine Bailey.  Flash back 4 years to 2003 and you find Catherine was a bright confident business woman.  She has a great group of friends and enjoys the company of men.  One man in particular has her captivated and really… this is where Catherine’s life starts to unwind in a way that seems to spiral faster and faster out of control….

Written in a “then and now” sort of style, readers slowly see what happened to cause Catherine’s world to collapse as the past connects to the present and beyond… and things really are not over… until they are OVER.

 

 

My thoughts…

Holy creepfest batman.

As I prepared to write this review I am still dealing with a multiple of thoughts running through my head.  One thought thinks, “this felt a little like Gone Girl… crazy twists and turns!”  Another thought is going “I want to watch Copy Cat again… this book reminded me of the beginning of that movie!”  But as I write… I know saying either of these things (even though I did) does not give the book its own identity and I can tell you, Into The Darkness deserves its own identity. 

Is it flawless?  Of course not.  There was a section that felt a little long-winded to me while I waited to get to something… something… more.  (Fear not dear reader, MORE is exactly what I got.

Overall… the word “IMPRESSED” seems to really sum it up.  Well written, exciting, and a warning that there are a couple harsh moments (gory?  graphic?) that I feel I should mention, but I must say that they are again, well written, and dare I say necessary to give you the full reality of what is happening. 

Looking for a good evening curl up and say “NO WAY!” read?  Grab a copy of Into The Darkness. 

 

 

Thank you to the AMAZING team at TLC Book Tours

that placed a copy of this thought provoking read in my hot little hands.

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The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott

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While her sisters dream of love and romance and marriage, Louisa May Alcott dreams of freedom.  As the family packs up to move their home under their fathers guidance, Louisa is unhappy with the decision and can not wait until she can afford to move away on her own and become the writer she knows she can be.

When Louisa meets the handsome Joseph Singer, she finds him irritating and does her best to ignore him, but Joseph is made of stronger stuff then that and is not so easily led away, much to Louisa’s annoyance, and pleasure.  When she finally allows herself to give her heart to Joseph, she soon learns that she has been foolish and everything she always thought about love was spot on… something she certainly did not need in her life.

Louisa may find a way to physically head into the direction she wants for her life, but she finds it is not so easy to move the heart.

What a delightful read!  (See, a few hours caught up with this “Little Womenesk” type read and I even talk like them!)  The Lost Summer does give you a taste of the Little Women as is it a fictitious writing about the author of that very book.  Louise is my kind of character.  She is strong and independent to a fault.  She is determined and does proceed with the plans she had made for her life.  I love that!  Yes she also has a softer side and I find, I love that too.

If, as rumor has it Louisa May Alcott did develop the character of Jo (Little Women) after her own image, then this book is spot on.  (My goodness, I really am typing like they talk… perhaps I need a spot of tea?)

I found the book to be quite (eep! again!) enjoyable and an easy yet fulfilling read.  I have heard some say that this book reads like a YA book and I tend to agree, it does mostly center around Louisa and her sisters when they are in their teenage years, and reads like a secret diary.

Quick and fun, allow yourself to take a walk through this one with Louisa.

Morning Meanderings… I Would Be A Messy Single Woman

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Good morning!  Happy Tuesday, 😀

I am now over two weeks with AL (hubby) having been in Florida at the Equipment Auctions.  I suspect looking at equipment for our business to him, is much like me going to the book expo…. EXHILARATING!  However, as much as I enjoy coming home and not having to cook a meal or wash as much laundry… I do miss him and this week I am counting the days until he is home.

I have also noticed, I am not the super neat person I thought I was.  Without anyone here but me, the table has become my domain.  From papers to review, books to mail, books to write reviews, agendas, and even my tennis shoes from last nights workout at the gym, a hair clip, and even a stray sock…. I am somewhat of a mess…  😛

Seriously – I took a picture of it:

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Wow right?  Now you know too much about me. 😀  I will have to get this cleaned up before Al gets home… he will think I have lost it.  😛

In bookish news, I am reading, not as much as I would like – but I am getting there.  I can’t complain about a busy life because I like the diversity of all I do from researching books, to writing, to working out, to hanging with friends, to being on committees, to filling a wood stove, to being a friend, to watching cheesy movies, to working in an environment I love. Getting up early… staying up late.   Challenging myself to be a better version of me.  I really… wouldn’t change a thing. 😀