Monthly Archives: May 2015

Moonlight At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

moonlinght on butternut lake, mary mcnear, book journey

The final book in the Butternut trilogy.  The past two days I have reviewed Up At Butternut Lake and Butternut Summer.  This final installment of the series is an excellent completion that left me wanting more time at Butternut Lake.  ~Sheila

Mila Jones is running from her past.  When an opportunity comes up for her to take a Home Care Nurse position over 200 miles from her current situation she takes the offer.  After all, staying in a cabin on a lake in a quiet town like Butternut Minnesota sounds like the perfect escape.  Taking care of a wheelchair bound man named Reid Ford sounds like a pretty easy task compared to the life she is trying to escape.

Reid Ford however turns out to be anything but easy.

After Reid’s car accident that left him wheelchair bound, Reid has become a bitter shell of the confident always on the go man he once was.  Hating to rely on anyone for help, Reid has already chased off many in home health care aids with his biting sarcasm and unwillingness to help himself in any way.  When Reid takes one look at the young small woman named Mila he sees someone else who will be easy to run off.  Yet Reid notices something in Mila’s eyes he did not see in the other home care aids, a stubborn look of determination.


could get interesting.

I really enjoyed Moonlight on Butternut Lake, perhaps even to the point of saying it was my favorite of the three books.  I liked Mila’s background story.  Reid is the brother of Walker Ford who we meet in the first book which helps the reader have a peek into the man that Reid was before the accident.  The change in him is startling and believable.  I found this book to have strong topics that felt realistic and I enjoyed how the characters from the past books play a role as this final story plays out.

Mila and Reid make for great protagonists.  Their differences played well off one another.

I have to admit, the Butternut Lake books brought me a nice comfort while I spent time with them.  I enjoyed how they all were separate books but together lay out quite a nice story about the powers of a small town in Minnesota.

  • Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy (Book 3)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (May 12, 2015)


Butternut Summer by Mary McNear

Butternut Summer, Book Journey, Mary McNear

Yesterday I reviewed Up At Butternut Lake, the first in this trilogy.  While Butternut Summer can be read as a stand alone, I think you will find that you may enjoy the residents of Butternut Minnesota enough to want to meet them all.  I would recommend the whole series.  ~Sheila

Caroline has had no trouble running a diner and raising her now adult daughter Daisy on her own.  That said, you can imagine her shock when her ex-husband Jack who she has not seen in 18 years strides in one day looking tan, strong, and healthy.  Double the shock when Caroline discovers that this is her daughter Daisy’s doing.  When Caroline learns Jack is trying to make amends for his leaving them all those years ago she is furious with his confidence, and admittedly a little flattered that he would try….

Daisy is also finding herself in unusual circumstances.  Always the girl who put her schooling before pleasure she finds herself to be distracted by a guy she used to know in High School.  Did Will always look this good?  Has he changed his bad boy ways?

One thing Caroline and Daisy can be sure of…. summer can bring about a lot of things and change is certainly in the air.

Butternut Summer is the second book in the Butternut trilogy.  While characters from the first book pop in and out of the story line it is not a necessity to read the first book to know what is happening.  Butternut Summer is mainly centered around Caroline and Daisy, Jack and Will. I found this book to not be as good as the first one.  Many situations in Butternut Summer seem to resolve themselves too easy.  On one page a character may be upset but it never escalates and all is forgiven in another page or two.  While an ok read and I was very happy to spend more time in Butternut Minnesota, this one is my least favorite of the trilogy due its easy resolutions and non happenings.

Still…  enjoyed the pace of the read.

  • Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy (Book 2)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (August 12, 2014)


Morning Meanderings….A VERY EARLY Morning


Good morning.  3:26 am when I am writing this.  I popped out of bed at 2:30 am this morning.  My sleep schedule is all over the board and for now I just go with it.  Yesterday morning I woke up TIRED.  I think the full schedule of the day before – company most of the day and then a City Library Board Meeting in the evening over exhausted me.  Too much of me being “on” or “present” wipes me out.  I completed a couple of tasks yesterday morning and went back to bed by 11:30 and up around 3 pm.

See?  Crazy sleep patterns.

So today….

Since my early rise this morning I have….

Stood out on the deck staring into the night

sent two emails out to the Friends Of The Brainerd Public Library

Created an agenda for the Monday Friends Meeting

Put clothes in dryer

Folded other clothes and prepped to put away

had a glass of ice tea

wrote a review

I am hopeful that by the time I write this post I will be able to go back to bed.  I have a 9 am coffee date here at the house and a wedding tomorrow in Duluth I need to prep for.  Being up this early does not appeal to me.


PicMonkey Collage

As for weekend reading the above is what will be traveling with me over the weekend.  I am looking forward to Jon Cryer on audio during my drive time.  A Hundred Summers sounds like it will be good cabin reading and I am not sure if I can handle The Rules – but we will find out.

This morning, in an alternative world, I would be flying back in from New York and the Book Expo today.

I think I am ready to go back to bed.

Up At Butternut Lake by Mary McNear

Up At Butternut Lake, Minnesota, Mary McNear, Book Journey

It is amazing what the right timing can do when reading a book… Up At Butternut Lake has been on my shelf since last fall, now in this season of my life I not only read it but devoured the two follow-up books in this trilogy as well.  Yes – bonus – all three books are available AND I will be reviewing them over the next three days.  ~ Sheila

When Allie Beckett’s husband left for Afghanistan, Allie had no idea that would be the last time that she and her three your old son Wyatt would see him.  Now after two painful years Allie moves with Wyatt back to a family cabin located on Butternut Lake in Minnesota.  What Allie is hoping for is a quiet slower pace than the city life she is used to and hopefully a fresh start for her and Wyatt.

The Beckett’s are warmly welcomed by Jax, Allies high school friend, and by Caroline the owner of the local diner, Pearl’s.  There are also new faces, like Walker Ford who lives in a large cabin across the lake from Allie’s.  Walker pretty much keeps to himself until he takes an interest in the young pretty woman with a sadness in her eyes and her little boy.  Allie however is not likely to get to know Walker in the ways he would like to know her.  Still carrying the loss of her husband and his memory on her finger, she is not looking for anything more than peace and healing.

Yet there is something about Butternut Lake and all of its tranquility that seems to soften ones heart and open you up to possibilities never thought possible.

Up At Butternut Lake was a perfect read for my mood.  It was a gentle story set in my home state which helped me to picture the sweet solitude of a cabin on a lake.  Going through my own loss at this time, I could relate to Allie’s story of trying to find a new normal and all the while not wanting to let go of what was.  For a time, in these pages, she and I were kindred spirits.

I enjoyed this book immensely.  The writing style felt a little like the comfortable writing of Nicholas Sparks.  Smoothly written, no big surprises, and an engaging read that left me picking up the second book in this trilogy as soon as I closed the last page.  This is exactly what the type of book I look for when I am looking for good summer reading.  I know that not everyone can find their way to Minnesota to a cabin on the lake, however opening up this book can be the next best thing.

  • Series: The Butternut Lake Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; First Edition edition (April 8, 2014)


Second Chance Friends by Jennifer Scott

Second Chance Friends, Jennifer Scott, Book Journey,

I was drawn to this book because I do enjoy books about friendships as well as the fact that this author Jennifer Scott wrote The Accidental Book Club which was a fun read.  This one does not disappoint.  ~ Sheila

Three women in a local diner one morning are witnesses to a horrible accident right outside the diner window.  While each of these women are alone and do not know the others, they are drawn back to the diner weeks later in a state of shock and acceptance and eventually… a friendship.

Karen has an adult son who can not get it together.  Constantly in and out of jail Karen is bailing him out and dealing with his most recent girlfriend and mother of his child who is always looking for a handout and using the child as a bargaining tool.  This time he is in jail for a fight that has left a man in a coma.  Karen’s patience and wallet are growing thin.

Melinda the paramedic loves what she does. She has a husband who is so excited to start a family and the whole time Melinda is hiding the fact that she is taking birth control with a fear of bringing a child into such an unstable unknowing world.

Joanna has a loving and loyal boyfriend while she hides a deep secret that even she wonders if she can accept.  Really can the life and lie she is leading really be so bad if it keeps everyone else happy?

And then there is Maddie, a now widowed soon to be mother. The accident outside the diner took the life of her husband who she loved with all of her heart.  Maddie has lost all desire to go on and she is pretty sure she does not want the child growing inside of her, a symbol of the love she has lost.

As Karen, Melinda, and Joanna start meeting at the diner and sharing life stories while developing a friendship, they decide it is up to them to try to help Maddie out of her depression and help her see that there really is a reason to go on, as painful and as new as this world may seem… and maybe, just maybe, helping Maddie, helps each of these women see what is truly important.

Second Chance Friends was a little hard for me in parts due to the subject matter.  Thankfully the accident in the book is in the beginning and while it is the glue of the book – it is not the soul.  The soul of the book is what I appreciated and that was the friendships that came out of nowhere.  A wise person once said (my son), that people come into our lives for a reason.  Those who do not get you will drift away and that is ok because better people will come into your life who will genuinely love you.  This is what makes Second Chance Friends a good read.  The friendships that come out of tragedy.  Seeing what is real and what is important and as you will see in this book (as I see in my own life), sometimes we grab onto the wrong thing and put all of our time and energies into trying to make that work when what we are doing is wasting our time on something that will never work.

A good read on friendship and life choices.  I found this book to be another good read from Jennifer Scott, an author I will be watching.

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL (May 5, 2015)

Morning Meanderings… Setting A Pace


Wednesday morning here in Minnesota.  Yesterday I had lunch with my Aunts and they were chatting about an article I had written for a local magazine that had just come out that day.  I was unsure what they were talking about until they explained further and it was something I had written in early March when life was well… not this one.  I had completely forgotten about the article although I knew I would have written the magazine release date down in my agenda.  My agenda that I lived by day to day with all my “to do’s” and my “where I should be’s” and my “don’t forgets”.

Now that agenda lays under a pile of papers on my kitchen table.  I only open it if I must to check on the dates of something.  Now I can’t stand living by an agenda because it reminds me of the me who filled up all my time DOING DOING DOING and honestly for whatever reason it reminds me of who I was and this new and fragile me doesn’t like that busy person.

Even though I know it does not change a thing.

Now I live by a rule of if it gets done – it gets done.  I want to complete things, I do… but my focus is not there.  I am careful with my heart right now and I know I am not strong enough to charge ahead and make things happen.  Perhaps someday, but hopefully not to the extent where I was… living by an agenda.


Today I have a friend coming over for coffee.  This after noon another friend is coming over to work on my hosta garden with me and plant the two bleeding hearts I bought for Mother’s Day.  Tonight I have the City Library Board meeting…. my first one since…

That’s enough of an agenda for me.

Many of our bookish friends are at the Book Expo that opens up today in New York.  I am excited for them as this event has been one of the highlights of my year every year since 2010.  I hope this one is also amazing.

Have a good day everyone.

The Pocket Wife by Susan Crawford and narrated by Cassandra Campbell


When Dana Catrell’s neighbor Celia is found and it looks to be murder, Dana’s world is shaken to the core.  After all, Dana is quite possibly the last person to see Celia alive but the details surrounding her encounter with her neighbor are fuzzy.  Dana knows they had words, she knows there was quite a bit of Sangria, there was the picture of her husband, and she is the only person who has a key to her neighbor’s home.

But could Dana have committed murder?

While the evidence is pointing towards Dana, Dana is working through her own personal demons to try to clear her foggy memory of the afternoon she spent with Celia.  With an unsympathetic husband and her insecurities this is no easy task. Hopefully Dana can clear her own mind all the while wondering if she really does have the capacity to take another persons life.





*I started listening to The Pocket Wife in March.  I state that now because in March I was in a different frame of mind then I am now.  I finished listening to this in May and there are many things that may contribute to my thoughts on this book so read this review with all of that in mind.  (Basically if I have finished this one in March my thoughts on this may have been different but I do not think by much)  ~ Sheila


I wish I could recall why I chose to listen to The Pocket Wife.  Quite possibly it could have been the narrator, Cassandra Campbell, who I have enjoyed in other books. I know there was something that intrigued me… perhaps it was reviews or the synopsis I can not recall.  I think going into this one if I had known it was centered around another unreliable narrator (more on that later) and around a female protagonist that had a problem with drinking and seems unstable to boot, I probably would have passed on this one.  After all, I did not enjoy Girl On The Train and that was very similar in all of these things I just mentioned.

The Pocket Wife’s protagonist was one I could not like.  Dana was weak minded and whiny.  I need to point out that I listened to this on audio and the narration of Dana as being this weak and soft person only added to my dislike.  This in no way is related to poor narration, in fact I would say just the opposite, Cassandra Campbell is an excellent narrator and I believe she captured the essence of Dana as she was written to be.  I also know in this trend of unreliable narrator (there it is again) that I am in the minority as to how I feel about these books.

Ok, briefly let me explain unreliable narrator.  This is something we see in books like Gone Girl and Girl On The Train.  It is a book written so you are unsure if what you are reading from the view point of the narrator is true or accurate.

Admittedly I enjoyed this one a bit more than Girl On The Train but still struggled with Dana and my love for strong female protagonists overpowers my ability to be sympathetic to Dana.  As they say on Shark Tank, with that being true for me, I am out.

If you enjoyed Girl On The Train you will more than likely enjoy The Pocket Wife as well.  The similarity of the books is there, yet The Pocket Wife I felt brought a little more to the table, a little more to grab hold of and that is what readers will enjoy.


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 14 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • Release Date: March 17, 2015

Morning Meanderings…. In The Quiet


It was with a heavy heart this morning that I read the email of my confirmation of my flight out this morning from the Minneapolis Airport to New York for the Book Expo.  The flight left, but I was not on it.

2015 would have been my 6th year in a row of attending the expo.  I love the people, the pace, the books, the friendships, the general buzz of the publishing world.  Yet  I knew a week ago that as much as I wanted to go and be that person – for this year I am not her.  Thank you to my wonderful roommate Candace (Beth Fish Reads) for being so understanding. I absolutely will miss hanging out with the good friends that I have met in the years of doing this event and I am hopeful that we will all be together in 2016.

Bitter sweet?  You bet.  Yet I know I am making the right decision as hard as it is. For those of you attending, please take lots of great pics and send them my way – I want to feel like I am there even if I am not.

My house…

is quiet.

The dogs are sleeping in random spots around the house and I am at my laptop with my COFFEE and wondering what this day will bring with it.  I woke up in tears but that is not really unusual these days other than the fact that I am amazed that I have the tears to cry every single day.  On the flip side of that, as I look at Justin’s picture… I know he is worth every single tear and many many more.  If I cry for every bit of love I have for him.. then I will cry forever.

Over the weekend Al and I went to our cabin on the North Shore.  It was nice to go but as you can imagine also another hard step as the cabin is filled with so many memories.  I read and I slept.  I had no cell phone coverage in the area so I had nothing else to do but just BE.  I finished the Butternut Lake series which turned out to be just the right level of read for me.  I am now working on William Kent Krueger’s Tamarack County.  With William (Kent) being a Wine and Words author this year I wanted to read more of him.

I hope to put up some reviews this week.  I have quite a few to write and like the little “mind breaks” that talking books creates for me.  In the meantime know that I am still here on the other side of the screen – maybe not at full capacity, but I am here.

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Little Beach Street Bakery, Jenny Colgan, Book Journey

*Note – you may notice my reading of late has turned to a lighter side.  That would be true.  In light of my life at this time I have been reading books that are fairly light reads, not too heavy and easy on me.  And with a cover like this one, how could I go wrong?  🙂  ~Sheila


When Polly’s life seems to be falling apart with a relationship FAIL, all Polly wants to do is get away and start somewhere new.  When she goes with her friend Kerensa to visit a quiet seaside town she finds comfort in the extreme solitude of a small worn down flat above an old closed down bakery.  Where Polly sees a new start, Kerensa sees nothing but a run down town with a tide that closes the road to traffic and leaves access to where Polly would live not only inaccessible, but dangerous.

To keep herself busy Polly starts to use her talent of making bread to feed the fisherman that come in by where she lives each day.  When her hobby starts to bring more and more people to her door, with the help of a handful of new friends, a goofy but handsome local beekeeper, and a lot of elbow grease, Polly might just be on to something.



The Little Beach Street Bakery is being compared to the likes of Chocolat.  My distance from the Chocolat read can neither confirm nor deny this comparison.  From what I can recall of the other book, I would say that Little Beach Street Bakery is quite a bit lighter in writing and technique.  While there is a little romance kneaded in throughout the read, it is not the deep compassion of Chocolat.

That said, LBSB is a sweet book of finding your own way in the midst of feeling directionless.  I could relate to this book.  The characters are a mix of fun and quirky – enough so that you never take the book seriously.  The book itself could be compared to a hot loaf of bread; it is fresh, looks wonderfully delicious, and it is comforting.  The honey on top is just the bit of sweetness it needs to bring it all together.

Little Beach Street Bakery is just the type of book I am drawn to this time of year.  A book to read while sitting in the sunshine.





  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (March 31, 2015)


Morning Meanderings…. Day 45 and Waiting for Sunshine


Tuesday.  Mornings are hard and they start early.  I usually wake up between 4 and 5 am these days.  It is not ideal as it just makes the day L O N G E R.  With the constant rain of late I can not get outside to plant flowers, tend to my hostas, and mow the lawn – all things I would rather do than sit within these 4 walls.  I have plenty I could be working on and no desire to do any of it.  I get a few things done each day but I am not the whirlwind of production I once was by any means.

I do read and started the Butternut Lake series a couple of days ago and find comfort in this gentle Minnesota based book.  I know I have all three books in the series and while I am reading the first and can visibly see the third book, I am hopeful to find the middle book around here somewhere.  I am sure I have it.

I have a friend coming over this morning for coffee and another one this afternoon who will help me go through some boxes and work on a project.  This helps to move me through the day.  Today I hope to read… and I hope to write.


the sun will come out.