Monthly Archives: January 2016

Morning Meanderings…. The End Of January 2016

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Sunday and the last day of January 2016.  While filling the outdoor wood stove this morning (yes, some of us in Minnesota do that 😉 ) I found myself really thinking about this past year.  It is just crazy to think that in two more months it will be a year…

It doesn’t feel like that can be true.

I have struggled daily.  Lately, this last month… I am searching for a way to assemble some sort of life… goals…. a way of going on – NOT moving on, but going on.  This time of my life has been the absolute hardest of anything I have ever experienced.  I am glad at least that I am starting to want to get started with something again and have been slowly working on reconnecting with my contracts and the outside world.

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Bitter sweet to see me using an agenda again.  It is one of the geeky things I have always loved to do and I quit last April and didn’t touch my agenda for the rest of the year.  I love to write things down and see what I have completed and what I have planned.  It took a while to bring this back.

 

New books in the house (because apparently I am rambling today….)

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Look at these fun titles.  Makes me want to read RIGHT NOW.

The Life We Bury is our book club pick for February.  Minnesota author.

Odysseus Abroad came in from Vintage Books a division of Random House

The Immortals looks fun and is going to be a part of an upcoming giveaway!

The Good Liar has a tasty title doesn’t it?  Harper sent this one.

The total Package…. ahh Stephanie Plum, we have a love-like relationship but I still cant resist seeing what this is about 🙂  TLC Blog tour

The EX I picked up at the library yesterday while changing out the window.  Love the title…. sounds good 🙂

The RAMBLERS has a fun synopsis that has me curious.  TLC blog tour.

 

So that’s all I am going to chat about today.  I have a full day of prepping for two Library related meetings tomorrow.  One in St Paul, and one in my home town.  It will truly be a Library Day 🙂

 

 

 

 

Saturday Snapshot…. Foods Of Cancun

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The weekend is here!  Yet… I don’t feel in my usual relaxed weekend mode.  After I write this post I am going to go and change the window out at the library, then list some printers we no longer use on Craig’s List, work on securing authors for Wine and Words, and start to prep our Friends Annual meeting agenda that is Monday evening.  Hopefully later this afternoon Al and I will meet up with our son Brad to eat and catch up.

Speaking of food…

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One of the great things about vacation is of course, all the delicious food and no cooking it!  We recently returned from Cancun, a trip we took to Moon Palace, an all inclusive resort with friends.  I am normally a big picture taker, but not so much this time so relying on those that were with us to come up with great pics – however… I did grab some food pics.  You know that crazy person that is in a restaurant and whips out their camera to take a picture of their food?  Say hi next time, that is me.  😉

 

PicMonkey Collage1

Above:  By the pools there were several places you could grab a quick bite to eat.  They had everything from chicken wings to burgers…. salads to cookies…. nachos to hot dogs on the grill.  And yes, they had pizza.  We had the pizza a couple of times during the week we were there.  They made it in front of you and cooked it in this cool brick oven.  The pizzas cooked in about two minutes.

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Below:  One of the days a few of our group went into Cancun to see the shops.  They had beautiful items for sale but I am not a big fan of the hustling and the pushiness of the vendors.  Still, it was nice to say that I did go into Cancun.  Before we headed back to the resort we grabbed a bite in a Mexican restaurant in the area.  The food was tasty!

PicMonkey Collage2

 

Below:  My husband Al, and a couple of the other guys, Ray and Jim, went fishing one morning.  They caught quite a few fish in the few hours they were out including this big Mahi Mahi which the chefs at the resort cooked for us that evening for our dinner.  It was a great experience for the guys and it was fun to taste the fresh fish they caught.

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I am adding this post to the Saturday Snapshot meme and Weekend Cooking.

Morning Meanderings…. The Beauty Of Connections

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Friday!

What a first week back in Minnesota!  I had big plans of what I was going to accomplish this week and for the most part none of it happened. My life went in a totally different direction and I pretty much became a “Girl Who Lunches” this week.

For whatever reason, I had a lot of connections this week.  Calls and messages to have coffee or lunch.  On Wednesday I had two coffee dates and a lunch date.  I am not complaining, I like my friends and I like seeing them.  When hanging out with one group this week one of the ladies said, “You just know so many people within the different things that you do.”

That made me think.

My son Justin was a connector.  If there is such a  thing (and if not I am making it a thing right now), Justin brought people together.  His work friends met his life friends, his hang out friends met his college friends, and so on.  The nice thing about this connecting is that these people (kids really) now have each other in his absence and they will say again and again how it was Justin who brought them together.  I am so glad they have that kind of connecting support.

This week I spent some time thinking of myself as a connector.  For whatever reason I decided to make a chart this morning of the different relationships we probably all have within our lives in something like this:

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Some of the titles may change, but you probably have a similar grouping if you wrote them down.  Mine are defined as:

Book Friends:  People I relate to through books.  My book club, authors, publishers, well… YOU.

Adventure Friends:  The friends I can call up to do a 5k, mud run, stomp the grapes dressed as Lucille Ball…. they know who they are.  😉

Work Out Friends:  The friends that will take walks with me, ride bike, meet me at the gym

School Friends:  The people I still connect with from my school days either on Facebook, email, and occasionally in Real face to face life.

Church Friends:  Friends I have made through church.

Movie Friends:  That awesome list of people I can text to go to a movie with.

Family Friends:  Family members who are friends to me as well… they fall into several f thee categories.

Friends You Volunteer With:  I may have met these friends through volunteering somewhere.

Library Friends:  Friends I have made through my love for the library.

Coffee Friends:  You know who you are… we catch up over a great cup of Joe….or two…. or three

Group Friends:  Friends I have made through a group I hang out with.  These are people I usually meet up with when we are doing a group thing.

On-Line Friends:  People I have met through this blog and through other on line things I participate in.  While some may argue that is not a friendship, I beg to differ.  Quite a few of you who I have “met” through this website, I have also met in real life. I do consider you friends.  A few I have not met in RL have sent me cards and encouragement this year.  I consider you friends.

Friends Of Friends:  People I met through your friends.  I may not go and do something without the mutual friend, but some day I might.

Phone Friends:  I think we all have them.  They are friends, they re people we know in RL… but for whatever reason can never get together and basically keep up through phone calls and texts.

Work Friends: The people I met through a job and enjoy.

Lunch Friends:  These friends I mainly hang out with over a lunch date to catch up.

Common interest friends:  Friends I made through taking a class or doing a study.

Business friends:  People I have met through our business or my Freelance business who could fall into one of these other categories.

 

I should have a point to this.  I think I do.  When I look at these groupings I can see where a friend may have started in one but is now also in one or more of these groups.  For instance our book club started through a job I used to work at.  Since Bookies started that way, the initial start up group was work friends, and some that are still in the book club so the work friends also become book friends.  Business friends would be like the people we went to Australia with last year who, because of that trip, we also took this trip to Mexico this year and they also fall into Lunch Friends, where we meet and catch up.

Anyway… I am constantly in awe of connections and how they work into our lives.  This weeks connections led me to two potential job opportunities through my freelance.  That was a bonus to my meet ups this week. So while I did have other plans for my week, these meet ups really worked out well in the direction I was planning on going this week anyway which was to start working on lining up a few freelance jobs.

It’s funny how things can work out.

 

The Three Weissmann’s Of Westport by Cathleen Schine

the three weissmann's of westport, book journey, cathleen schine

Betty Weissmann could not have been more shocked than when her husband Joseph, at the age of 78 declared that he wanted a divorce.  Having been the loving doting wife for most of her life, Betty did not really know what her next step would be.  She was almost as equally shocked when she discovers the woman he works with is his mistress and Betty is exiled from their New York apartment because Joseph has been sweet talked by his mistress that the apartment would just be too much of a burden for poor Betty.  While the divorce has everything on lock down until things are sorted through, Betty finds herself left with no choice but to go and stay at their run down beach cottage in Connecticut.

Betty’s daughter’s Miranda, an impulsive literary agent and Annie a level headed Library Director, come to Betty’s side to stay with her at the collate while things are sorted through.  Both girls find themselves the products of a broken home at middle age.

 

 

The Three Weissmann’s Of Westport is a book I pulled off my shelf for our recent trip to Mexico.  It looked like just the type of read I would enjoy while sitting at the pool.  I was right.  The book I found right from the start shocking, a 78 year old man after spending more than 50 years of his life with a woman decides to throw it all away for a younger, prettier, and quite honestly…. gold digger.  I found myself flying through the pages waiting for Joseph to come to his senses.

Does he?

Well…. I can not tell you that.  I can say the ending was not as I had thought it would be.  It left me thinking.  That’s not a bad thing.

This book has been compared to a modern day Sense and Sensibility.  I will let you be the judge of that.  Over all a pleasant enough read.  The characters are not always likable, the story line at times is frustrating, and still…. there is something about the Weissmann’s.

Beach read worthy?  Yes.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books; First Edition edition (February 2, 2010)

 

1st Book Of The Year: Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling (a different kind of review)

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If you have read me here at Book Journey for any amount of time you know that I am a huge Harry Potter nerd.  You also know, my son Justin was as well and it was this book – THIS BOOK, where he and I first started to connect on reading and talking books.  It became a wonderful connection for us when he was in Jr. High and continued to be “a thing” with us for all the days of his life AND will always ALWAYS carry wonderful memories for me.

I have this first book of the series in a beautiful 20 year anniversary edition.  I have it also in Spanish, in soft cover and in hard cover, in audio, and with the new cover (a gift from Justin Christmas 2014).  However this copy of the book I am holding will always be my favorite copy because THIS is Justin’s original 1st copy of the book.  It has long since lost its dust jacket (he always took them off to protect them while reading) and the cover is well-worn…. the signs of a beloved book.  And now… it still sits on his book shelf.

I loved choosing this book as my first book of the year because it was as I said… a place where we connected.  I liked knowing that each page I touched, he had as well.  Every word my eyes fell upon… his eyes had read these very same words on this very same page.  I do not know what I was hoping for when I read this book again for probably the 5th, 6th, or 7th time…. at first the reading felt like work.  It made me more sad than peaceful.  The words did not come easy and my mind drifted during the early pages of Harry and the Dursley’s, and the snake, and the closet under the stairs.  It wasn’t until the entrance of Hagrid where I started to fall once again into the familiar writing and I whisked myself and hopefully Justin too away to Hogwart’s.

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For those of us who love the Harry Potter books…. we know they contain a bit of magic that one can not explain to the common muggle.  I enjoyed getting to know Harry again as a first year, and remembering Hermione when she was all know-it-all and bushy eyebrows, and Ron when he was quiet and shy before he became a force to reckoned with.  I had to once again sit in awe as I read things in this first book that I know will not come to full light until the last book… the clues we don’t recognize as clues until much later, and I have to whisper the word “brilliant” as I turn each page.

I owe JK Rowling a dept of appreciation.  Her writing changed my life.  That may seem dramatic, but it is true.  These books connected my son and I on a level that we would not have reached without them.  These books are why we went to Florida three November’s in a row and had planned on a fourth…. these books – made magic come to life.

And I for one, am forever grateful.

The Harry Potter books to me are the new classics.  These are the books that need to be passed from generation to generation… it is something special to be among the first group who read them.

 

 

Morning Meanderings… Author! Author!

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Tuesday.  Afternoon really…. no longer morning.

My morning had consisted of a COFFEE run, mailing, a phone call, coffee date scheduling, lunch planning, and yes… I am writing in the agenda book again which still carries mixed emotions for me (I struggle a lot with the idea of “life going on”, but I do what I can as I can.  I am trying to wrap my head around positive plans for this year and putting me back on some sort of track, even if it does seem to be in the slow lane at this time.

I created a post card this morning for the Gatsby event in March and I am confirming authors for Wine and Words in 2016.  I enjoy looking up authors and watching what books are receiving hype and I love to extend the invite.  I have to say the Publishing Houses as well as the authors I connect to are all so nice and polite.  I would say from the invites I send out, 98% respond, even if it is to say thank you but the event does not fit in their schedule this year.  I appreciate the response.

In other news…. last evening I finished my first book of the year.  I have thoughts….

 

 

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Rainbow Rowell, Book Journey, Carry On, Harry Potter, Simon Snow

Simon Snow is The Chosen One.

*Groan*

He, in his opinion, is the absolute worst choice for such a  title.  He can not keep the spells straight and half the time his wand doesn’t even work.   His roommate Baz (who Simon is pretty sure is a vampire) avoids Simon like the plague, and his girlfriend is on the verge of being done with him and quite honestly Simon doesn’t blame her.  Relationships are weird and he never knows what he is supposed to do.  And now…. it seems that he has been chosen… or drew the short straw… to help solve a murder.

Seriously?  Why can’t he just have a normal life?

 

 

I was drawn to Carry On because of a blurb I read that said Harry Potter fans were going to flip for this one.  I am a pretty easy sell if you tell me a book is going to be like Harry Potter.  For the record… it wasn’t- not really, and honestly nothing ever has come close to HP for me so it’s not a big disappointment.  There were similarities to the Potter books that I thought were a little too close to a brilliant idea already taken.  For example, Simon, like Harry, was an orphan.  And Simon, like Harry was considered The Chosen One.  There is also a creepy monster like character that had some of the similarities of a Dementor (see Potter books).

That said, Rainbow Rowell does carry off an interesting unique read that while it may have used the Harry Potter books as a jumping off point…. the book then takes it’s own direction.  I don’t want to give anything away but I can say that RainbowRowell likes to take her characters in directions you may not expect.  Simon surprised me.  The book surprised me.

I listened to Carry On on audio and the audio music throughout the listen (don’t worry – it is not continuous or annoying) was brilliant and exciting.  I enjoyed the narration very much, even enjoyed hearing some of the wording that is often used through out the Harry Potter books…. the accent brought me back.

I have to agree that Harry Potter fans will find a little dose of happiness in this book.

 

 

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 13 hours and 42 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio
  • Audible.com Release Date: October 6, 2015

 

 

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (October 6, 2015)

 

 

Morning Meanderings…. Vacation Books

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This is my 4th day home since we returned to Minnesota from Mexico last Thursday evening.  My weekend was fairly uneventful.  I am still battling this cold/sinus infection so low energy and lots of laughing and blowing my nose have been priority.  I cleaned up our vacation laundry… but have not quite got the suitcases entirely cleaned out.  I read a little.  Cleaned my carpets.  Listened to audio.  Caught up on emails.

I always like to see what people are reading when on vacation.  I can not help myself but strain my neck to catch a title as I pass people with their noses in a book while at the pool or laying on the beach.  I no longer ask people about the book they are reading unless they speak to me first…. after the “incident” in Costa Rica many years ago.

The four of us, Al, myself, Justin, and Brad went to an all inclusive resort in Costa Rica.  The resort was beautiful and I spent most afternoons by the pool with a good book.  One day I was walking to the pool when I seen an older gentleman lounging with a copy of The Davinchi code in a different language.  That really should have been a clue.  But no…. I had enjoyed The Davinchi Code so I attempt to strike up a conversation with him, pointing excitedly at the book and rattling on about how much I had liked this book and what did he think of it?  (Picture Hermione talking excitedly about a new spell she has learned…. I imagine I looked something like that).

Crickets.

The man just stared up at me.

AWKWARD.

I smiled and walked away.  Now more than likely, he did not speak English.  Or he could have thought I was rude.  OR both.  Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop; the world may never know.

 

Now…. I just look at the titles.

Here are a few of the books I seen in Cancun and this is only a few.  I also seen author names such as Debbie MaComber, Steve Berry, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts….  I wanted to write down author names but I never did.

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The books I read while in Cancun were : The Three Weissmanns of Westport and Maybe In Another Life.  I started The Butterfly Cabinet and read a bit of Angle of Declination given to me by one of the ladies in our group and written by a friend of her and her husband’s.

 

Today I will go to the library to meet with our Head Librarian to discuss the book in the bags and accompanying information to go with them. Book In The Bag is sponsored by the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library.  It is 10 copies of a popular title that can be checked out all at once for reading groups.   I am going to work with this program to help with questions to be included with each title, suggestions to take your discussion to the next level, and food that goes with the book.  I think this will be a fun project.

I am also sending out the letter today for our Annual Friends Meeting that will take place a week from today.  This is an open invite to all of our friends to join us for a potluck supper while we share the past years highlights as well as what is coming up for 2016.  At that time I will also be revealing the authors who have committed to Wine and Words 2016 so far.

I think Mondays may become library days. 🙂

Between The World And Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates w/ Bookies Book Club Review

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Between The World and Me is a series of letters written by author Ta-Nehisi Coates to his 15-year-old son.  The letters consist of racial history and walks us through Coates life from a impoverish child in a hard part of Baltimore to attending Harvard.

 

Between The World and Me was our book clubs pick for January of this year.  I was really proud of the book club for choosing this book because not only is in non fiction, it is on a hard subject.  I was excited to discuss such a book as a group. For myself, Between The World and Me was at times fascinating, Coates, has a wonderful way with worlds that made me think about things more deeply… but towards the end of this book I found myself a bit exhausted by what started to feel like heavy negativity towards our world and felt as though their was little hope for someone born African-American.  When I finished the book I was not really sure, and I am still not, on how I feel about it.  I am glad I had the opportunity to read it, however as I am a white woman, I can not express with any certainty of if what Coates is saying is how it is.  I have not walked in his shoes.

The book club discussion was everything I had hoped it would be.  Over delicious food and wine, we discussed our feelings about the book.  Granted, we are a group of mostly mid-western women but I think we did a good job of discussing what is happening in our world today (Minneapolis is 2 1/3 hours from where we live and there has been recent issues there with African-Americans and the police) as well as around the US.  Coates, we agreed did a good job of sharing what it was like for himself to grow up as he did, however most of us agreed that these letters to his son were fairly heavy for a 15-year-old, and in my opinion, left a hopeless sort of feeling for any positive future.

This was one of those discussions I wish I would have recorded.  It was passionate and deeper in a direction we have never gone before as a group.

Over all the book rated just below an average rating for us. Some liked it less and some a little more.

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Why is this a good book for a book club/ reading group?

Between The World and Me brings much to be discussed and the discussion flows almost without questions.  For reading groups that have been together a while,  this book will take you to another level.  Groups may experience a difference in opinion on how they feel about this book and that makes for good discussion.

Ideas….

Ask your group to write down their favorite quotes from the book to be discussed.

Have your groups share current issues from the news involving race and discuss.

 

 

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Spiegel & Grau; 1 edition (July 14, 2015)

 

Paper Towns The Movie Based Off John Green’s Book Of The Same Title

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Its been a long time since I have had a lazy day where I have spent a Saturday morning or afternoon watching movies, but that is what I did today.  Granted a miserable head/sinus cold, fever, and drowsy feeling helped.  So me, a couple of books to movies (Paper Towns an Scorch Trials), hot tea, Kleenex, and I was set.

Paper Towns is a book by John Green.  When I first started reading John Green I was told that your first John Green book will be your favorite.  I never was able to test that theory because my first John Green was Fault In Our Stars and yes, it is my favorite.

Paper Towns the movie was actually better than I thought it as going to be.  I had forgotten about the great friendships displayed in this book.  I also really enjoyed the lead roles of Margo and Quentin,  it was a good fit from the book to the movie.

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Looking over my review today of Paper Towns I found I had the same thoughts about the movie that I did about the book.  Margo frustrated me then and she does now.  I think I understand why she does what she does but at the same time her ability to disconnect from everyone baffles me.  As in my review, I found the friendships in the movie to sustain me and leaving me enjoying both.

 

Overall movie thoughts?  Yes, rent it.  Its a good story and in the end, while it is not the end I would have hoped for…. it still leaves a good impression and message.