Monthly Archives: July 2015

Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

Chevy Stevens, Those Girls, Book JOurney

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

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

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



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

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

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

I wanted to be blown away…

I wasn’t.

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

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

Booking Mama highly recommended it

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


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




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



Morning Meanderings… STRENGTH



Isn’t it funny how even when you think things will slow down they do not?  I was sure this week was going to be a quieter one.  Monday was filled with library activity but I thought Tuesday I would just relax and nope – instead I was cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, working on Wine and Words stuff, gathering items for the silent auction…

well, Wednesday I thought… Wednesday will be slower…. but no, I spent hours at the library prepping more baskets for the silent auction, bank errands, thank you card mailings, then went shopping (why is it that everything seems to run out at once…. body wash, facial cream, deodorant, bar soap….)…

I came home and hit melt down.

There was a lovely card in the mail yesterday (thank you Kris!).  As I read it the tears rolled down my face.  The card told me I was a strong person, that they were in awe of what I have accomplished these past few hard hard hard months and how I have been able to some how keep going.

I don’t even know myself how I do it…

I do know that being strong was never a choice.  I have to be.  I hear that a lot, about what a strong person I am.  I feel like a weak mess, but I guess because I get out of bed each morning and try to find some form of my former self is a strength quality.  Honestly, I believe the strength comes from the wonderful people who surround my family.  The calls, the cards, the kind words, the things I know my son was so proud of me for being involved in – I cant stop doing.

I can’t.

I go on for me… and I go on for him.  Inside… I am a mosh pit.

Yesterday evening I went to a friend home and hung out on her deck with another friend.  This was nice.  We caught up on each others lives, and talked until the sun went down and the mosquitoes drove us inside and then we talked some more.

This is where my strength comes from.  My support team of friends, connections, and family are like a battery pack of love.  I recharge….


I try again.

book journey, sheila dechantal, laura campbell, amy price

Left/back: Amy, me Front: Laura

Fever by Mary Beth Keane

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

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


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

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

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

This is her story.



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

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



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


Morning (nope!) Afternoon Meanderings… Lets Talk About What You Are Reading


I feel….

wiped out.


A long weekend with the bike ride, a long week with the funeral prior to that, a long two weeks of my friend Connie in the hospital before that…. and yesterday a full morning of Wine and Words prep meeting and our last Author of the summer.

Exhausted comes to mind.  Emotionally and physically.

A few people have inquired about the meme that I have ran since early 2010, Where Are You Reading.  Yes, it is coming back.  I hope this Sunday.  Through everything of this year I hardly remember what day it is.  My final really big event for the year is Wine and Words and I am hopeful that life will level out at that time. Currently I feel “spikey”…. I can function for events and for people, but then I hit a grief wall when I have down time.  I can make myself be “ON” if I need to be… but I pay for it.

I only have a couple more weeks of needing to be ON.

The bike ride, was fun.  A fair turn out and I think we brought in some new riders.  I will talk about this more for Saturday Snapshot. In the meantime… here is a little sample:



I am listening to audio and hope to pick up a book soon.  A few good ones have come my way I want to start 🙂


ARMADA by Ernest Cline


Zach Lightman takes after the father he has never known…. he is a gamer.  Living alone with his mother, when he is not at school he loves to hang out on line playing war games with his friends.  Escaping the reality of his own world while listening to loud 80’s jams is the ultimate way to complete a day.

Then, one day while looking out the window of his classroom he sees it.  “It” being a space ship.  Actually it looks a lot like a war ship much like the ones that he flies when playing the game Armada with his buddies.  But that can’t be right.  Clearly he needs to start getting more sleep.

Until… that space ship opens and the person who comes out of it calls Zach’s name.


Turns out there is a very real war being battled, has been being battled for decades and now Zach is being called upon to help save the earth.  Save his mothers life, his friends, and work to keep civilization going as we know it.

But Zach is just a teenager…. what can he possibly have to offer?




Full on geek on.  When I first heard that Ernest Cline had a new book coming out I went coo coo for cocoa puffs.  I adored his book Ready Player One.  I read it and I listened to it on audio.  Three times.  Yes, three times.  I quickly checked the audio version and had a double victory lap when I seen that it was indeed Wil Wheaton doing the narration.

Seriously, Will Wheaton could read the back of a cereal box to me and make it sound interesting.

As soon as (and I mean AS SOON AS) this book was released I downloaded the audio and began my adventure into audio.  Let me say this…  if you do listen to audio, even if you just dabble occasionally, audio is the way to go with this one (and Ready Player One for that matter but again I digress).

I enjoyed Armada on audio, not as much as I enjoyed Ready Player One but it was still a good listen.  Armada is a much stronger war game book (not my thing) as opposed to Ready Player One being more of a strategy game… absolutely my thing.  Also, Ready Player One’s awesome references to 80’s music, movies,and games made me giddy.  I know,  know… I really need to quit talking about Ready Player One.  Did you hear it is going to be a movie?  Ok, I will stop.

Armada is a good strong listen.  Although as I mentioned I am not much on war games, Will Wheaton’s animated narration brought the story to life for me.  What I didn’t think I would get… I got.  In the end, the message is an impressive one… something I did not see coming.

I have heard mixed grumbles on this one but I for one enjoyed having Ernest Cline and Wil Wheaton match up again.  Any time those two are brought together – I am in.

All in.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 11 hours and 58 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: July 14, 2015


Morning Meanderings… So, About That Bookish Connection


“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”

~Alice IN Wonderland

Where oh where have I been?

It is a great question…

As I mentioned on Saturday my good friend Connie has passed away.  This bit of events put me in a tailspin of activity. On Saturday we started the Meal Train.  That evening we spent time with friends at a cook out.  Sunday friends came into town to help me with the plans for the upcoming bike ride (July 25th-26th), Monday we had the visitation, Tuesday the funeral, Wednesday the burial…  and in-between all of that library meetings, Bike Ride prep, Wine and Words planning….


So when I received an email from my bookish friend Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and roommate year one of the Book Expo, that she was coming to my home town and could we do dinner on Tuesday – I immediately said yes.

Of course… when I said yes, I was exhausted, and thought she meant next Tuesday…..  😉

When Tuesday afternoon rolled around and I received a text from Kim that she was on her way I had to really think about what to do.  It was the day of the funeral.  I was EXHAUSTED.  I had come home around 2 pm, put on my yoga pants and a comfy t-shirt and took a nap. I had no intention of going out again and was looking forward to grilling with my hubby as I had not seen him the last two days.

But… I also really wanted to see Kim.

I counter offered, explained my mix up and asked if it would be possible to do breakfast or supper on Wednesday instead.  Breakfast it was.


Left: Me and Kim

It was great seeing her again.  We talked about books – or for both of us lately, lack there of….  audio (which we both love), we exchanges titles that we enjoyed and just caught up on life.

A cool bonus to this whole Blogging experience is that you can find friends in almost any state.  Since l met Kim in 2010 when she was one of my roommates for the Book Expo, we have connected on other events as well, and yesterdays meet up was awesome.

Today – I am hoping to keep life to a low simmer.  I have a BIG weekend coming up with the camp ride for Connie.  Tomorrow we will run around and get all the final details in place.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Let’s Talk About The Queen


I love this picture.  This is my book club this past Tuesday after we had a great potluck dinner, talked books, and had our Queen event.  We look happy.  We look fun.

Even me.

Every July for the past hmmmmm… I don’t know how many years, we have had a Queen event.  We dress up, we perform a talent (or not) and say why we would make a good Queen of the Book Club.  It is all in fun, the Queen really only comes into play when we have a tie on books to read or when we can’t decide where to meet.

This year I went back and forth.  Do I participate?  I didn’t want to.  I wanted to wear Capri’s and a t-shirt and take pictures.  They would have understood.  Yet I knew that Justin would be so sad to know I changed how I did life so I instead put on a prom dress, a little princess crown, looked up and said, “This is for you kid.”

Off to be a Queen participant….


Why is my head so freakishly small?

It was a good time.  We were at my friend Lori’s home.  We discussed the books we had read last month (free read month) and then had our event.  My “talent” was a story about a girl who decided to create a book club so she could expand on her reading.  I ended the story with how after many years the group became so big they had to limit how many came and how close all the Bookies became to one another.  Friends.  Other talents were, speeches, songs, mime, a quiz, and even a violin playing rendition to The Devil Went Down To Georgia.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Our Queen for 2015-2016 is Brenda.  If you look closely at her beautiful white dress you will see that the top (and along the bottom) is made from a book.  She will be a wonderful Queen.



A few of us had a little “after party” at a nearby pub… an ongoing tradition after the Queen event. After you are all dressed up – you should have somewhere to go. 😉

Morning Meanderings…. Words Are Sometimes Not Enough


I almost want to say, “welcome to the sad/depressing blog Book Journey.  I may or may not talk about books.  I will be your host today.”


I last posted on Thursday morning talking about the business of life even when the last thing you want to be is busy – the “to do’s” are still there.  Shortly after I posted, I was making muffins to take to the hospital to see my friend Connie when I received the call.

Connie had passed away peacefully in the night.

There are moments in our life when the world seems to stand still.  That moment would be one of them.  Everything became quiet as I absorbed the loss.

Another loss.

Another big one.

Even though we knew it was coming, it is still difficult to take in.  And suddenly – my busy post –

didn’t matter.

Instead I spent my day trying to help out the family where I could.  Putting together a meal train, being available for whatever and putting to use what I have learned about grief these past few months into action.  My son… and now my friend….

my heart stacks the grief on grief.


Left to right: Nancy, my son Justin, and Connie at last years Wine and Words event in August. It is so crazy to have two of the three gone.


I really do plan to talk about something fun one of these days soon.  I have reviews to write, I have the Queen Event to share.  Not all in my life is overwhelmingly sad, there are small breaks of happiness.  Happy actually seems to strong a word.  Maybe thankfulness is better… when I am surrounded by good friends, sharing what should be a good time, and knowing that I am surrounded by angels…

in Heaven as well as on earth.

Enjoy this weekend.  We will be at a friend’s house this evening grilling and planning a trip in January that at this time I have no interest in whatsoever but trying to find a way to move a bit forward in the tiniest of ways.  Tomorrow I will start working on the baskets for Wine and Words with my friend Gail,and then next week will be filled with things every day as I celebrate my friend’s life early in the week and by the end of the week take part in a two-day bike ride raising money for the non profit she loved, Camp Benedict in her honor.

Life keeps on moving.  There is a new layer to me that sees how fragile everything is.  Love unconditionally.  See the good in everyone and everything.  My friend Connie had that gift.  So did my son Justin.

Morning Meanderings… I Didn’t Mean To Go ______________________


Good morning.

I didn’t mean to go….




Under cover?

I don’t know.  I guess I just didn’t mean to go.

The past two weeks have been so out of my control that I am just doing what I have to do to get through the days.  With two large events just around the corner I am trying hard to find balance.  You throw in the mix my friend Connie, a big storm that requires clean up attention, commitments, people I need to want to spend time with, and my own grief….

and yeah. 

Just trying to get through it.

And so – with all of that, I find I do not get here – HERE as much as I would like.  I am still not firing on all cylinders which makes all of these things that I could normally handle feel heavy and hard to do just the easiest of tasks.  I am so easily…


Yesterday and today I have tried hard to slow down.  I have had things I had to do every day and I am feeling the strain on putting my grief to the side to get things done.  For the record, I have discovered that does not work well… it exhausts me and leaves me pretty nonfunctional come the end of the day.  Tomorrow my “to do’s” bump up again, the weekend is full of activity and next week…

I don’t even want to think about next week.


1I do have posts to write.  I have a couple of audio I have finished and just downloaded Armada this morning which I am SUPER EXCITED about.  We also had the Bookies Queen event this week which took a lot of energy but I am so glad I participated.  L♥ve this group of gals.  I will write a post up all about that – maybe today.


Just a sample from the Tuesday Bookies Queen event

That’s it for this morning.  I have a few things itching at the corners of my brain reminding me I need to do them… and I do, so off I go.  Enjoy THIS day.


Morning Meanderings… Day 100. Really?


Imagine taking all your emotions – everything you could possibly feel and putting them in a blender.

That’s the way I feel.

I can not even believe it has been 100 days since I lost my beautiful son.  It is a crazy mixed up world we live in and I struggle daily trying to find my fit in it – the commitments, the want to’s, the things I say “Yeah!  I want to do that!” when the old me peaks out for a second and then later I am horrified that I agreed to do something that I know is too much for me to take on.

I am up.  I am down.

I am mostly down.

After my last post about my friend Connie my emotional gauge has been off the charts.  I do what I need to do to get through the day.  I make the connections I need to and when the day is done I am home, exhausted physically and emotionally, a bundle of mixed feelings – glad I accomplished something… overwhelming sadness lying just under the surface, tired… so tired.

Connie, as of this morning is the same.  I will stop by this morning and check on her.  Yesterday we ran the Color Run for Justin.  is team that he started working on in March.  We finished it and 21 of us ran the 5k in Justins memory.  As you can imagine it was an amazing and horrible thing all rolled into one.  I am so thankful for his friends and mine, so glad that they pushed on to do this – and so sad knowing Justin would have been amazed at the friends who gathered to run for him.  Ridiculous is the word that comes to mind… it is ridiculous that I am typing such a thing and he is gone.

Color Run St Paul, Shine, Book Journey, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team before the run

Book Journey, Color Run St Paul, Sheila DeChantal, Justin DeChantal

The team after the run

Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price, Book JOurney, Color Run St Paul

My friend Amy and me

and then last night…. a big storm hit Minnesota:


I love this tree.  I have a sweet pic of the boys climbing up in it when they were young.  I think we can save part of it and I hope it will grow back again.


Still here.