Monthly Archives: August 2015

Morning Meanderings: Sunday Stuff


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Good morning!  Sunday and I have a wee bit of anxiety here.  I am meeting in less than an hour, one of the girls from Honduras (Eva) who has been here all summer staying with friends.  We are meeting up for lunch today and normally that would not be a big deal – however she was in Honduras with Justin in March, just two weeks before the accident so it will be bitter sweet seeing her.  She leaves in just a few days and I know I would regret not seeing her but at the same time I feel like I am setting myself up for hard moments.

So basically…

nothing new here.

Books that came in the mail this week… always a fun thing to talk about:


Ahh books… where would I be without you?

Circling the Sun by Paul Mclain – Audio  (I love female aviator stories!)

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella – audio (looks fun!)

Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami – audio (I have always wanted to read this author)

Field Trip by Gary Paulsen – audio (looks like a fun middle grade!)

Avelynn by Marissa Cambell (interesting!)

Twist my Charm – The Popularity Spell by Toni Gallagher (Oh this one sounds cute!)

The Girl In The Spiders Web by David Lagerkrantz (hmmm… the series continues)

The Debt of Tamar by Nicole Dweck (looks good!)


Thats the haul… later today I am prepping notes for tomorrow’s Wine and Words recap meeting.  We are doing a breakfast thank you so I will be making egg bake and prepping fruit, yogurt, etc… should be a good meeting.


Morning Meanderings… It’s All A Bit Crazy


*Deep Breath*

Today I wanted to share the pictures of the bench that was dedicated to my son at the Brainerd Public Library.  It is one of those things that I am a little surprised I have not already posted the pics (I did post the prep of the area pics but never the finished area).  And then as I plan to write this post the tears start rolling.

How my life has changed these past 5 months…

It is in all honesty quite surreal and surely requires a reality check from time to time.  How can this all be real?  How can 5 months ago I had this vibrant amazing kid in my life and we were making plans and hanging out and then…


Now I have benefits, and Color Runs, and tree plantings and ribbon cuttings…

and a very very broken heart.

However, this is not what this post is about.  Well it is and it isn’t.

If you can put a shed of light over this tragedy I am trying to live through…  what I am posting here is a spark of life and love and well….  here it is.

A brief background story to the bench if you do not know it…. when my son died in a car accident this past April the book blogging community took a stand and wanted to do something to honor my love for books and the library and my great love for my son. Money was raised quickly for this project, bloggers and publishers, and authors, all came together to make this happen. 

I still can not write this or talk about this without tearing up… what an outpouring of love during the hardest part of my entire life. 

Two members of our friends group Dawn and Sherri spoke at the ribbon cutting

Two members of our friends group Dawn and Sherri spoke at the ribbon cutting.



There was a nice gathering of people for the ribbon cutting… friends, family, and community.


Justin's bench.

Justin’s bench.



And the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library group contributed $10,000 to add in 4 more benches and a picnic table to the area for people to enjoy.





Thank you to every one who contributed.  Coming through the way the book community did at such a time as this was such a gift to myself and my family.  This heart felt generosity will not be forgotten.

(This post will be linked to Saturday Snapshot, where people share their stories through pictures).

Morning Meanderings… The Opportunity With Reading The Hot New Titles As Soon As They Hit Your Door Step


It is a COFFEE Morning.

Recently I had mentioned I had several reviews to write and I was so excited to have the time to actually write them now that the big events I was working on are now behind me.  And write them… I did.

The one thing I forget about (constantly) is release dates.  So I wrote this gushing review on The Seventh Most Important Thing and gush gush gush -even a spoiler page and…..

it doesn’t release until September 8th.

So… ok.  I draft it to go live on that day and no biggy, but I did not have time to write another review for that day so I decide I will definitely post a review the next day when I write another.

And I do.  I write my review of Hand To Mouth by Linda Tirado and this one is not a gusher… in fact it is rather a heated review but they can be fun as well… and…..

it releases on September 1st.



I listened to it on audio and that releases on October 2nd.

Double bugger.

With fries.


I know that I could post these reviews, but if they are not released yet I like to post either on release day or close to it so if someone does want to read the book… they can!

Ahhhh… well.

Today is a day of mowing the front lawn, prepping notes for a meeting on Monday, uploading pictures from Wine and Words to website, and hopefully a little reading of Gone With The Wind.  It is Friday and I have been home without major commitments for over a week now and it is sooooo nice.

Maybe I will write a review.  (After I check release dates)  😀


WILD by Cheryl Strayed

wild, cheryl strated, reese witherspoon, book journey

After Cheryl’s mother was diagnosed with cancer at a young age and lost her life to it, Cheryl could not seem to escape the spiraling downward pull of her own life.  Her marriage was a loss, her father non-existent…

Four years later with nothing really changing Cheryl makes a decision.  With no prior training; just a stubbornness to succeed at something, she decides to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.  And do it alone.

What happens… well that is the story of WILD.



This is a book that I would say for me has been a bucket list book.  I have always been fascinated by those who go out on a pilgrimage to find themselves.  For myself, my own hard life, I have felt the pull to do something like this… now, that pull is even stronger.

I am not sure what took me so long to get to this book.  I have had it on the shelf for years.  When the movie was released I put it on my radar to read soon and then, more recently, downloaded the audio book with narration by Bernadette Dunne.

From this book I received many things I had hoped to….  I found out that it is possible to do such a hike without years of training (maybe not recommended – but certainly doable).  I learned from Cheryl’s own mistakes of what one should pack, what is a necessity and what is not.  I enjoyed how the other hikers she met along the way (well.. most of them), were like kindred spirits and they bonded together, helping one another – building friendships.

What I didn’t need to know….

As in pretty much any non fiction I read, memoirs, etc… I do not care to know about ones sexual escapades.  I am truly 100% not interested and am still a little baffled why these details are included in such reads. Occasionally in some books there is a point to such discussion.. this was not one of those books.  I have to wonder if it is a draw for some readers and maybe I am the minority – but really… I am a believer in TMI.  Yay for Cheryl for being prepared?  Yay for her willingness to be open and ready for anything?  I don’t get the appeal.

Overall – yes I am glad I read the book. I enjoyed the narration very much and thought that it was the perfect voice for Cheryl.  Other than what I mentioned above, I really enjoyed Cheryl’s story and still am searching in my own way for such a pilgrimage for myself… maybe not the time commitment that she put in, but I would love to some day dedicate a month to six weeks for something like this.  Thank you to Cheryl for showing that a woman can go out and succeed in such an adventure and for sharing the realities of how this changed her life.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 6 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio
  • Release Date: March 20, 2012


Morning Meanderings… Landing Somewhere Between Burnt Toast and A Smile


I don’t own a toaster.

It’s true.  Counter space to me in valuable and I used a toaster so infrequently that when the last one puttered out I did not replace it.  Instead, now when I crave toast I set the oven on low and put bread inside to toast a bit before I doctor it up with whatever…. butter, or peanut butter, or jelly…..

today was such a morning.

I prepped the oven and popped in the bread and went back to answering emails, working on laundry… and then as you can probably guess  (the set up of my plot here is given away by the title of my post….) I burned it.  Yup.

Currently I am toastless.

Ever the optimist, I will have to try again…

In other thoughts this morning, thank you to those of you who send me the occasional card of kindness.  Seriously.  You know who you are and I have to tell you when I open my mailbox and find a kind note or card from one of these awesome book connections I have here, I really do smile through my tears.  I appreciate you all so much.  Thank you for lifting me up.  Each day is a little battle that I expect I am going to struggle with for a long long time… your kindness by taking the time to tell me you are here… you are caring.  Seriously.  No words.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

My car had a flat tire yesterday.  SO today I will probably ride my bike to the library while waiting for the tire to be fixed.  That is life..  I go on day to day, as I suspect many of you do as well… finding the middle road, trying to stay positive…

somewhere between burnt toast and a smile.

Morning Meanderings… CrAcKiNg a really REALLY big book


Some mornings I wake up in a funk and that is pretty much my whole day… there have been quite a few of those lately where my heart is heavy, I have no energy, and I am more than happy not to talk to anyone or go anywhere.

And then…

there are days like today.

I woke up early (3 am) that is not unusual these days.  Walked about a bit, stood on the deck in the dark… and back to bed at 3:30 am. Up at 5:30 am and for whatever reason… sad, but energized.  I completed a load of laundry, sent emails to the library about window plans, talked to a friend on the phone before she went to work, sent out potential cabin plans to another friend, text a message to another friend about meeting up this week, read emails, and drank a lot of COFFEE.

It is days like these that I see that glimmer of the old me fighting through and knowing that Justin would be cheering me on, “Come on Mom!”, he would say, “I know you go this!”  I try… every day… for him.

gone with the wind, book journey bookies

So I mentioned a BIG book.  Yes my book club reads a classic every October.  I have insisted on this for years because I think it is important that we attempt the greats (and trust me… some are not so great but still fun to discuss).  And this year our vote went to…

Gone With The Wind.

Have you read it?  Have you tried to read it?  Have you seen the movie?


For me… this is a bucket list book.  I don’t like reading about war, or about women in large frilly dresses… but my friend Gail swears by this book.  SO MUCH that a couple of years ago she gave me a beautiful hard covered copy for my birthday.  That I promptly placed high on a shelf with the promise that someday I would read it.

That day has come.

I cracked that baby open yesterday afternoon and entered Scarlett O’Hara’s world.  A world of parties and boys and jealousy and plantations – and that is only the first 59 pages!  I have until the second Tuesday in October to finish this book.  I will… and for fun, our book club is planing to attempt to make the curtain dresses (I LOVE my book club!) and we will dress the era, eat the food – and possibly go on a hayride after because…

why wouldn’t we?

Anyhoo…. that’s what is happening here.  The sun is out for the first time in days.  I will finish mowing the lawn, run errands, read a little, and get through one more day.

A Week At The Lake by Wendy Wax

wendy wax, a week at the lake

Emma Michaels, Mackenzie Hayes, and Serena Stockton used to be the best of friends.  Every year they would spent one week together at a cabin owned by Emma;  laughing, sharing, and eating way too much ice cream.  Then one year, Emma stopped inviting Mackenzie and Serena.  The girls no longer spent their annual week together and without knowing what happened, they drifted apart.  Now, 5 years later, Emma feels it is time to clear the air and share a secret she knows can destroy them all.

As the girls all arrive for their planned weekend, Emma is in a serious car accident and Mackenzie and Serena start to piece together what had happened all of those years ago on their own.



I have always enjoyed Wendy Wax’s books (my first was Leave It To Cleavage and has a funny story to go with it).  Her books tend to be about relationships and friendships and never over the top but more like good summer reading (insert large sunglasses, ice tea, and a light snack here).

In many ways A Week At The Lake fit in with much of what I just said about Wendy Wax.  For the most part the book is a good summer read. I have to mention a few moment that didn’t feel real, or a little far fetched – it was still worth the read.  I like stories of women’s friendships and this book fit that genre perfectly.

A quick read that will wish you long for a beach chair.



  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley (June 23, 2015)
  • Language: English



Sunday Salon… So It Is Like That Is It?


I am not much of a meme joiner upper but I have always loved this picture (above) hosted by The Caffeinated Reader.  It also seems to fit who I am these days, sitting back with maybe not slippers (I prefer flip flops), but definitely in my pajamas a little longer than I usually am these days.  Coffee?  Check.  Newspaper?  Well no, but replace that with my lap top and you pretty much have me in the above pic.

So basically, this meme is supposed to reflect on our week, our books, our plans… and well, that is what I kind of do here anyway so here goes.

I have another blissfully low key day here today and I am so glad.  While these quiet days are definitely more emotional for me as I have no one to be “on” for… that is ok.  He is worth the grief and he will be worth it forever.  Every tear.  This afternoon I am going to have lunch with one of Justin’s friends who is in town and I am looking forward to that.  I know there will be stories, I know there will be tears… but like kindred spirits it is nice to have people in my life who get exactly where I am at and want to hang out with me anyway.

book journey

My support team. Always on stand by.

I am hoping this is me coming back into a good blog routine.  I feel that this is a safe place to share not only what I am reading and listening to – but also what I am going through.  Thanks to the Morning Meandering being around all these years, my sharing my life is nothing new…. it is different now, but you all knew me then… and thank you for being here now.


3a - Copy

Of course there are new books in the house.  Now I am not going to post all the books and audio that have come in to my home since I last posted about the books… that would be a bit scary!  Instead I grabbed the books that I have not put away yet from my counter and table, the ones that have come in over the last week maybe two.


Pokergeist by Michael Phillips Cash (yes you read that right… I read The After House by him and liked it…plus, this one came with a deck of cards.  Yeah… I am a sucker for swag.  😉 )

Unfriended by Rachel Vail (eeps!  I do love a good YA read! )

Parchment and Old Lace by Laura Childs (every time this amazing woman writes a book she sends it to me…. good reading for a cool fall evening!)

Unprocessed by Megan Kimble (I love foodie books and this journey of eating unprocessed foods for a year sounds fascinating!  I could last maybe a week….)

The Afterlife Academy by Frank L Cole (An MG read not sure how I got this one but my memory is shot these days so I probably signed up for it… MG reads can be fun!)

Until I Find Julian by Patricia Reilly Giff (Another MG not sure how I received it but it looks good!)

History and Hauntings of the Halloween Capital by Roxy Orcutt (This one I picked up at our local book store.  I had no idea that the town of Aitkin Minnesota (about 40 miles from me) has been declared by congress to be the Halloween Capital of the World.  You would think I would know something like that!)

TITANIC The Great Lakes Connections by Cris Kohl (I purchased this one in Grand Marias Minnesota last week.   I do love Minnesota history!)

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury (It’s Bradbury.  ‘Nuf said)

Brown Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas (hmmm… a little different for me but we shall see)


This afternoon after the lunch date I am hoping to just READ.  I need to sink into a good book.  Hope you all have a nice Sunday.


Saturday Snapshot: Wine and Words 2015

Wine and Words, Minnesota, Brainerd, Grand View Lodge, Sheila DeChantal, Peter Geye, Lorna Landvik, William Kent Krueger, rica Spindler, Nadia Hashimi, Kathleen McCleary, Book Journey

Left: Gail (Co-Chair), Me (Co-Chair), Jill (Team Member), Lorna Landvik (Author/MC), Peter Geye (Author), Kathleen McCleary (Author), William Kent Krueger (Author), Nadia Hashimi (Author), Erica Spindler (Author), Sue (Team Member), Doreen (Team Member), Brenda (Team Member)


This weeks Saturday Snapshot is going to be about Wine and Words, the literacy event that our Friends of the Brainerd Public Library sponsor each year.  This is year three and we had 320 guests at our sold out event.

As you can imagine, this was not the easiest of years for me to push through this event.  I thankfully had secured our authors in February of this year and Nadia Hashimi joined us in late March (only a week before my life fell apart).  The website and the ticket sales were already in place by then so the team was able to move on with the planning without me until I was able to assist again in June.

We were at a larger venue (Grand View Lodge) that allowed us to accommodate 120 more guests than last year.  It has been so exciting to watch this event grow from a “do you think this will work in Brainerd?” to a “holy smokes we need a larger venue!

We had a great team of people willing to work on the silent auction, ticket sales, handing out brochures, and this year we even worked on sponsorship’s!  As you can see in the above picture, we had an excellent author line up – a good mix of genres and the authors were so well spoken – talking about their writing, their books, and their relationship to libraries.  Seriously.. I was a bit giddy.

Here are a few of the many many pictures taken of our event this year:

Check in and the social hour

Check in and the social hour

Social hour

Social hour


One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book

One of our Team Members, Sherri talking with William Kent Krueger about his book


Part of the book sale team... Friends Members:  Rhonda and Amy

Part of the book sale team… Friends Members: Rhonda and Amy


The guy who puts the "wine" in Wine and Words - our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor

The guy who puts the “wine” in Wine and Words – our local Liquor man, Mark from Cash Wise Liquor


Its always fun to see people get excited about books!

Its always fun to see people get excited about books!


Ahhh… what the heck, here is what the event really looked like:

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage2 PicMonkey Collage3 PicMonkey Collage4 PicMonkey Collage5 PicMonkey Collage6

We gave away gift cards and a Kindle Fire.  Justin’s friends also purchased a table in his name and attended, just as he would have – and just as he had, the last two years.  ♥  There are no words for what that means to me…

Justin 2015

As far as how we did… I am finishing up the last bit of calculating today so I can give our team an accurate look at the total win for Friends of the Brainerd Public Library… and trust me on this…

it was a win. 🙂

Check out other Saturday Snapshots here and see what awesome people are taking pictures of around the world.

The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand, The Rumor, Book Journey

Longing for a good summer read centered around beautiful Nantucket, author Elin Hinderbrand is an excellent “go to” choice for just such a read.  ~ Sheila

When Grace Pancik sets her mind on something there is really no stopping her.  When Grace decides that she wants the most beautiful gardens in all of Nantucket, she hires the easy on the eyes Benton to be her guide.

When Madeline King, Grace’s best friend, struggles with writers block with an ever pressing deadline… she panics and reaches for a story line she knows that she should not be telling, but what could it hurt?  And who would know?

When Eddie, Grace’s’ husband gets in over his head in a real estate windfall gone bad, he makes some hard and most definitely not legal choices…  but with Madeline King insisting on her money back that she and her husband gave Eddie in trust and is constantly calling threateningly a lawsuit, and the bills stacking up around him… what is a guy to do?

Grace’s hanging out almost daily with the gardener.

Madeline is writing a steamy tell allbut what is her inspiration?

Eddie is having secret conversations with Madeline.

Grace’s twin teenage daughters are up to their own schemes while their parents are so preoccupied.

Madeline rents a studio apartment.

and that is how Rumors get started….

I have enjoyed Elin Hilderbrand in the past and The Rumor was no exception.  Author Elin Hilderbrand once again creates an easy and engaging summer read that is just plain fun.  I enjoyed each of the story lines in the book and how easily one can misinterpret what is really happening… as well as how often what we think could not possibly be true – actually is.

Narrated by Kathleen McInerney (who also occasionally narrates for Mary Kay Andrews), the book on audio flowed well.  I found myself engaged in what would happen next.

Definitely a go to author for me, I recommend Hilderbrand’s books for those who love a good summery read based on the island of Nantucket.. where truly… anything can and will happen.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 48 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio
  • Release Date: June 16, 2015