Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich

stephanie evanovich, book journey, the total package

Tyson Palmer has the world by the tail.   He has a winning arm, a promising football career, and is on track for that Super Bowl ring.  And then, with an addiction to alcohol and pain killers and a night that throws his marriage and career  away…

Tyson is at rock bottom.

Then, the owner of the Austin Mavericks makes Tyson an offer he can not refuse, he will be sent to a private rehab, get cleaned up of all his addictions, then go to a personal trainer to get him back on his game and make the come back of a lifetime as a Maverick player bringing them to the Super Bowl.  Tyson has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

When Tyson Palmer emerges back on his game, he is in the best shape of his life both mentally and physically.  He is determined to make the best of what he has been given.  Yet a blast from the past has the potential of derailing everything.  Dani Carr is a top reporter and working her way into playing with the big boys.  She also knows Tyson a little too well from a night of passion back in College where he left her without so much as a word before daybreak the next morning.  Now forced to work together, Tyson has to admit Dani looks better than ever, and Dani has to keep her guard up and keep her eye on her journalistic goals.



I do enjoy a good Stephanie Evanovich read so I jumped at the chance to read this one.  When I read the synopsis I was at first thinking it all sounded a little predictable, of course I thought, Tyson and Dani will wind up together and this book is just about the how.  I was thrilled to discover there was more meat to this read than I had initially anticipated.

The Total Package, really was just that, the total package.  Tyson is an interesting protagonist and I enjoyed the detailed process of his come back. I even may have learned a little about football. Dani was a bit back and forth and confused me when one thing was said and then it changed but honestly, Tyson was written so well that I can overlook that – and in the end…

well.  You are just going to have to read it.  Let me just say….. Winner Winner – chicken and brown rice dinner!

UPDATE:  A little update to my post as I see comments are thinking that this author is the author of the Stephanie Plum books…. one for the money, etc….  Stephanie Evanovich is being mistaken for Janet Evanovich (the more well known of the Evanovich’s).  Janet is actually  Stephanie’s Aunt — as Janet is married to Stephanie’s father’s brother.

Hope that helps 🙂  While I have read both authors, I have not read Janet Evanovich’s books for years and Stephanie has a different writing style which I found that I personally prefer.


  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (March 15, 2016)


Purchase Links: HarperCollins | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Author Links: Website and Facebook
I enjoyed going through rehab with Tyson thanks to TLC Book Tours!
TLC Host



Morning Meanderings….The Joy Of Reading


Thursday and I made it!

I had commitments for days from Saturday run arounds, Sunday Easter-Get-Through-It, Monday trivia night with friends, Tuesday Library time and Wine and Words start-up meeting, and Wednesday City Library Board meeting.  Now I have 4 days of calm that I have purposely left open and non-committal as I make my way towards the one year mark.  These next days will be days of last time memories (tomorrow will mark 1 year since I went to stay with Justin in his apartment the night before the interview with Scott Eastwood), these are the anniversaries of the last time I seen my son and as painful as they are, I would not trade them for the world.  I had this time with him…..  it was because of this blog that I was there.  Crazy…. but true.

But this…. is not supposed to be about that.

I am instead talking about the joy of books.  You may remember that I have mentioned that last summer when my Mom’s Sister had knee surgery I brought her a basket of books, magazines, movies, and snacks to pass the time while she was healing.  It was then that she and I bonded over books.  I did not know she was a dormant reader…. someone who had always enjoyed reading but with life and other commitments had moved away from it.  Since that time last summer, I meet up with her every couple of weeks and I bring her new books she may enjoy and we discuss the ones she read.  It is a coffee date and a book club for two.

Over the past few weeks with my schedule I had been unable to connect with her.  Then last week she had surgery on the other knee.  Yesterday, I went through the book room choosing books for her recovery time.  At first, I was picking up books that I felt would stretch her a bit, they were not the normal genres that I bring her, and some were books that I had not yet read myself…

and then my eyes landed on The Fault In Our Stars and I could not help but smile.  I wondered if she would enjoy dabbling into a brilliantly written YA read.  And from there I seen my row of books from Claire Cook and my smile broadened.  She had enjoyed Mary Kay Andrews, Dorthea Benton Frank, and Elin Hilderbrand’s books.  I knew she would adore Claire Cook.


When I came home yesterday after my visit with my Aunt and Uncle as well as the book delivery, there was a package in the mail.  As I was opening it I felt a lump in the book and thought that our mailman had again squished a book into the box and bent it… but no, that was not it.  The lump was a luggage tag and it went with the book that was in the package:


The word that came out of my mouth when I seen what had been delivered was “Fun!”  I love the little extras that publishing houses do and now this book is calling to me.  I have one I am in the middle of, and just finished an audio book this morning so soon Mary Kay Andrews, soon I will join you to busy my mind with others lives and happenings…. the joy of books. 

Lucky Me by Saba Kapur

lucky me, sabu kapur, book journey

Eighteen year old Gia Winters really could be defined as having it all.  She lives in a beautiful Hollywood home, has a movie star father and an ex-playboy bunny for a mother.  Her closet is stocked with high-end clothing and shoes and she will be graduating soon from her prestige High School.

Yet when Gia’s father receives a disturbing envelope in the mail everything changes.  Suddenly Gia and her brother Mike have body guards to be by their side 24/7.  And while Jake, Gia’s bodyguard is in his early 20’s and is definitely easy on the eyes, he puts a large cramp in Gia’s style.  On top of it all, they have to keep the whole body-guard thing a secret, so Jake is introduced at school as a family friend who has come to stay with them; something that does not sit well at all with Gia’s boyfriend Branden.

Then Gia starts receiving the mysterious texts and eventually phone calls…. someones says they are watching her and they do seem to know a lot about who she is with and where she will be.  When Gia is asked to be a host at the Golden Globes she is thrilled; but is she making herself an easy target for the creepy stalker who has said in not so many words that he will be at the Globes event and that he will be getting his revenge.


For what?



This is one of those books that I don’t think I would normally pick up.  It’s a little YA meets Valley girl…. it’s lite and fun and about rich kids and their families….. but what sold me on this one is the witty dialogue that runs throughout this entire book.  Saba Kapur writes in a way that makes me smile and she had me from the synopsis.  And just the starting paragraph of this book let me know that I was in for something a little different, but I was pretty sure I was going to like it:

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you need to step back and consider the hand you have been dealt.  I’m not going to lie to you; some people have it way easier.  I am not going to sit back and tell you the world is fair, because truthfully, you’s laugh your head off and throw a drink in my face.  I guess it probably won’t hep to mention that I’m someone who has it fairly good in the luck department.  At least I suppose that is what you would call someone who’s been born and raised in a world of glitz and glamour.  Lucky.  So before you go and complain about how I’ve got it all, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.


This book seriously was a joy to read.  Protagonist Gia is witty and funny.  The dialogue is amazing in this book and I have to hand it to author Saba Kapur who has written this book at the age of twenty and is releasing this as her first novel.  I enjoyed getting to know Gia very much.  The playful banter between her and Jack is a lot of fun to read…. add Milo to the mix and well…. yeah.  Even better.   At moments I felt a few vibes from the movies Clueless and Legally Blonde…. but also a sense of a younger Janet Evanovich series….  (I think it is the whole Jake, Milo scenario…. it felt like rooting for Morelli or Ranger)

Admittedly there are several moments that I had to suspend belief while reading this book.  There were times I though “that could not happen”, but all in all I really enjoyed reading this fun lite book and reality be dammed; I enjoyed it. I read this book in two days curious about what was going to happen.  I had a hard time putting it down.

I recommend giving this book a try.  I for one will be curious as to what this young author comes up with next.  I would not mind seeing some of these characters revisited.


A little Author Q and A

  1. What inspired you to write Lucky Me? Where were you when the idea came to you? When did you decide to write it?11

The idea for Lucky Me actually came to me in the shower! I was in tenth grade, and had been spending a lot of time in the library. High school drama was at its peak, and I found my solace among books. I think that’s where most of my urge to write came from. This idea just popped into my head and I typed up a rough first chapter, and decided to continue from there. I never wrote it with the intention of having it published; it was initially just a hobby. The idea for the book developed from various places. I had noticed that, particularly among my generation, the focus on young celebrities was growing in Hollywood, which really intrigued me. I wanted to write something that was funny but also had an element of mystery, as those are my favorite kinds of books to read.


2.  How did your love for fashion influence the characters and story?
Fashion is something that I’ve always been interested in, and because of the setting of the novel, it was easy to incorporate it throughout the book. There is no singular definition of fashion, and I love that it’s so subjective and fluid, because it allows you so much opportunity for fun and creativity. I tried to integrate this sentiment into Gia’s personality, but of course tailored (no pun intended) to suit her lifestyle. The importance of looking good is extremely influential among my generation, especially with young celebrities as role models. I felt that Gia would be incomplete or inauthentic without including her love for fashion


3. Did you base Gia’s character off of anyone in particular?
Gia is a product of many influences. I tried to develop her as a combination of some of real-life celebrities and my favorite female characters, taking a few personality traits from each one. Gia definitely has elements of Cher Horowtiz (from one of my favorite movies, Clueless) with her love for fashion, and Blair Waldorf (from the books and TV show, Gossip Girl) who I spent most of high school pretending to be! In reality, Gia is really a heightened depiction of my own personality. We are different in so many ways (namely, I don’t make as many poor life choices and do not own a single pair of Louboutins). But we are very similar through our sarcastic and witty personalities. Gia also shares my love for Audrey Hepburn, who I have idolized ever since watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in seventh grade.


4. What authors do you look up to and why?
This may sound a little clichéd, but I try to learn something from every book I read. If there’s a particular writing style I like, I try to incorporate it into my own writing. I have such respect for so many authors, particularly those who write in my preferred genre, such as Meg Cabot, Janet Evanovich and Sophie Kinsella. They have completely mastered the art of mystery, humor and romance.


5. What are your favorite books? In what ways have they influenced your writing?
It’s a little ironic that I couldn’t even get through a novel without giving up out of boredom, until about sixth grade. I truly owe J.K. Rowling a lot, as Harry Potter was probably the first series of books that I decided were just too good to give up on. Janet Evanovich, Meg Cabot and Sophie Kinsella are the authors who have had most influence over shaping my writing style. Every time I read one of their novels, it really motivates me to make my writing as endearing as theirs. That being said, my favorite book of all time is The Godfather, by Mario Puzo. It’s my father’s favorite book, so it’s extra special to me that we can share our appreciation for the story.



  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: Amberjack Publishing (April 5, 2016)



Shopaholic To The Rescue by Sophie Kinsella Narrated by Clare Corbett

shopoholic to the rescue, wophie kinsella, book journey

When Becky’s father disappeared one day without a trace, the family goes a little nutty.  Not only is her father gone, but it looks like the he took the husband of her best friend Suze with him as well.  Becky’s mom is beside herself with a mixture of worry and anger, Suze is distraught and Becky knows she must pull herself together and figure out what is going on for the sake of her family.

When it is found out that Becky’s father and Suze’s husband are working together on some sort of secret mission in Las Vegas… the answer is obvious…. they must all go to Vegas to figure out what is going on and bring the men back home.

Viva Las Vegas!



I am not a big follower of the Shopaholic books but once in a while, I like to check in on Becky as the books keep coming!  Not a lot has changed in Becky’s life except I see now she has been working hard on curbing her spending habits.  The audio was a delicious break from reality of just fun listening.  Narrator Clare Corbett worked the narrative well with her accent.  Without spoiling anything I have to say I loved the Ocean’s 11 references…. it gave me ideas. 🙂



  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Unabridged edition (November 10, 2015)



Morning Meanderings…. Easter Eve


I woke up to a chill in the air and a sprinkling of snow on the ground.

It is nothing that a little sunshine won’t cure, yet as I drink my coffee and look out the window it feels appropriate to my mood.


It is once again the day before Easter.  Last year this day before Easter was the worst day of my life.  It is weird now to have to go through Easter a 2nd time before we hit the one year anniversary of the accident.   I am still not ready to do family holidays.

So what will tomorrow entail?  I honestly do not know at this time.  I talked to my older son yesterday after he posted this on Facebook:

I Love My Brother.

It breaks my heart to know he is hurting, and really – we are all hurting.  There is nothing I can do to take away the pain and the great loss. Instead as a family, we hobble along, trying to make it work a little lopsided where once we were four and now we are three.

I absolutely hate that.

Today I will look in the paper and see what brunches are happening in the area.  I am still not ready to sit down like a family at the table like we used to for holidays, the absence to too raw and Al and Brad get that.  I will find us some place to eat, and maybe something to do – like a movie or bowling, or maybe come back here and play board games…

I don’t know and I am not ready.

Time is a crazy thing.  I can not even believe it has been a year.  I look around and feel like I have lost time.  I am sure I have.  I am not the same… I am a sadder version of me.  I can laugh and talk and do all I used to do but there is a new undercurrent always running through me… a profound sadness I imagine will always linger in some form or another.

I have friends that will be having a wonky Easter too – due to jobs, and grown children out of town they are not really doing much either.  In an odd way I take comfort in that we are not the only family trying to make it through another day.


As for you all my Blog connections…. I hope that your Easter is a wonderful one.  Enjoy and cherish every moment whatever you do with your day.


The Status Of All Things by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke Narrated by Amy McFadden

the status of all things, Liz Fenton, Lisa Steinke, book journey, audio, amy mcfadden

Kate is 35 and is addicted to Social Media.  It is no surprise then that when her fiance Max decides to break it off at their rehearsal dinner, Kate turns to Facebook to write all about how hurt she is and how she wishes she could do the last month over.  Then something odd happens.  It seems that whatever Kate posts on Facebook, comes true.  When she wakes up the next morning, it is a month earlier and she and Max and still happily engaged.  With her new-found power at her fingertips, Kate goes back in time to change a few things that will make Max hers again. When Kate lets her two best friends in on the secret and tries to improve their “statuses” as well… Kate finds out that things don’t always go as you hope, and perhaps it isn’t possible to really change fate.



What a fun idea for a book!  In the day and age of social media I loved the idea of our Facebook Status being a way to represent the status we really wish for.  With Amy McFadden as the narrator at the wheel – this was a great listen!  The combination of the two authors is interesting but however they do it – it works!  I thoroughly enjoyed this book on audio, it was interesting to see how Kate tried to make changes that would in the end be better for her, but some how the wording would miss its mark… a really fun listen!



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Release Date: July 13, 2015



We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

we all looked up, tommy wallach, book journey

Peter the star basketball player for his High School works hard to keep his grades up and keep his high maintenance girlfriend happy.  He is not sure if it is love, but she is the cutest girl in the school and any guy would love to be in his shoes…. but is he doing what he wants, or what everyone expects of him?

Eliza just wants to graduate and escape.  Her mom left a long time ago, her father is slowly dying and she is tired of it all.  Escape is the answer.  Escape this town, these people, and her reputation.

Anita is the perfectly put together straight-laced student.  She doesn’t party and she is on the fast track to Princeton,  She has dreams but her parents have done what they can to squash them.

Andy lives to skateboard, drink, and smoke it up.  He doesn’t understand what all the fuss is about planning for the future by knowing what he wants to do with his life.  He has years to decide.

Or does he?

A blue star seems to have ripped its way into the atmosphere.  Experts say it is an asteroid on a collision course with the earth that will have the effect of a million nuclear bombs.  As the time ticks down to the asteroids arrival, for these seniors as well as the rest of the world, suddenly everything that was once important… grades, futures, statistics, college…. none of it really means anything at all.  So what, when it comes down to it is really important?




This book had me from the cover.

I was in a book store looking for a different title when this one called to me.  I loved that mysterious cover.  What are they looking at?  And I loved the title.  The synopsis, a “Breakfast Club” type grouping of misfits int here own way, and an end of the world scenario.  SOLD.

There was much to love about We All Looked Up.  I loved that Peter is a jock with a heart and a conscience, I loved Eliza’s black and white look at the world…. nothing gray.  Anita with her hidden passion, Andy who goes along with the wrong crowd even when he knows he should choose better for himself.  Underneath it all… these kids have heart.

As much as I want to gush over this book…. I admit I might have been a bit started for a good sort of YA potential dystopian read.  AND there was much I did love about it.  Unfortunately there was so much put into this book so much happening in such a short time frame that I have to admit I don’t think it was fully flushed out.  This could easily have been broke down into a three book series and dealt with the many loose ends to keep the reader engaged all throughout the countdown.

I did pass this book on to a friend and I am curious as to what she will think.  I still love the book…(there are great literary references!)I just feel there could have been more to it.  In the end I had questions about many things unanswered in the book.  The book was still a win for me, I am just a little disappointed that it had all the makings of a home run read and I feel left between second and third base.



  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (March 24, 2015)



Morning Meanderings… In The Lull


Mmmmmm COFFEE.

And… the sun is out.

Good start to the day.

It seems odd to be sitting here enjoying a cup of coffee, seeing the sun, and typing away on my laptop here.  The past few weeks there was little to none of that.  I feel as though I have hurtled through the Spring Book Sale, jumped through a flaming hoop to run the marathon to Gatsby, and sprinted to  a board meeting in St Cloud on Saturday.


its quiet.

I like it.

Sure there are things still happening.  I am sending out a letter to attendees of Gatsby about our Friends group.  Hey, we are fun, they need to know it. 🙂  This afternoon I am helping clean up empty boxes from the book sale and bringing them back to the library to fill again for the next sale.  This is all minimal though and I am truly thankful.  This weekend will be Easter.  My first “second” without Justin.  It sort of snuck up on me.  It is, as Easter tends to be, ahead of the one year anniversary.  Last year, Easter was the day after the accident…. this year it is before and will be a sort of emotional kick off I think, to the actual date.  That week, was full of Justin activity, because I was with him and those memories are flying at me in full color and I do not want to ever let them go.  I think I need to write down what those days were like with him, those amazing days that turned out to be our final days….but they were so good and I am SO THANKFUL for them.

PicMonkey Collage

I am taking a little more time to READ these days, while I am listening to audio throughout my day, at night I have been opening up a book, finding solace in the pages of someone elses story.  I recently flew through We All Looked Up (review later today), and The Total Package ( book tour later this month).  Currently I am reading Lucky Me by Aba Kapur for another book release.  I am also LISTENING….. I just finished Shopaholic To The Rescue, and am currently listening to NURSE by Lee Gutkind and narrated by Tavia Gilbert on my phone, and listening to A Touch Of Stardust by Kate Alcott and narrated by Cassandra Campbell.

The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker and Narrated by Chris Patton

the dorito effect, mark schatzker, audio book, audie awards

In a world of fad diets, carb and calorie counting, and food programs like Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig… we still seem to be heading the wrong direction.  Record numbers of obesity and diabetes pop up every year.

So what are we doing wrong?

Author Mark Schatzker tells us how since the 1940’s we have slowly been losing the flavor in our foods.  Through faster growing procedures, making our fruits, vegetables, and meat larger faster, we have taken away the main thing that makes food satisfying…


Foods that once were considered healthy are now more like junk food having been zapped of the needed nutrition built into the growth process that causes foods to contain what our bodies need to feel full, healthy, and satisfied.



Chris Patton’s narration in The Dorito Effect was engaging and thought provoking. He held a tone that kept me fully engaged in this book. 


I found this book to be filled with interesting facts that I had not really thought of.  Being a consumer, not a grower, I had not given much thought to the taste of the large visually appealing tomatoes I find in my local super market, or the lack of taste in the grilled chicken breasts I prepare for dinner after I marinate them or cover them in herbs and spices to make them into a tasty meal.  When presented with the facts in this book, it was an eye opener when they spoke of chicken that our grandparents would prepare with the yellow fat…

I had forgotten all about the yellow fat.

And as I listened to this book on audio with the well spoken narrator Chris Patton, I became more and more aware of what they were saying was true.  Food has lost its flavor.  That tomato I buy at the store does not have that delicious taste of the ones I grew up with.  While our produce may look larger and more colorful than any in history, they have lost what is important…. the flavor and the nutrients that make us feel full and satisfied.  As our food has become blander, flavor technology has stepped up to replace the natural flavor with artificial ones.

I found the Dorito Effect to be very interesting.  I had thought for a while now about having a garden like the one I grew up with and after listening to this book, I am even more sure that this spring I want to do just that.   As a reader or a listener, I think you will find The Dorito Effect to give you your own “aha” moment when it comes to our food choices and why.  I enjoyed the narration of Chris Patton very much, he had an engaging tone that made this an easy listen.

Narrator Chris Patton has been nominated by the APA for the 2016 Audie Awards for this non fiction book.armchairaudies-300x300


  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 8 hours and 17 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Release Date: May 5, 2015


My Advice…. Dream and go BIG


Over the past few weeks (ok months really) I have been chatting here or there about the idea of a Gatsby event in our home town. It stuck in my head a couple of years back when I heard that the Roseville Library in the Cities had such an event.  To quote Harry Potter just because I want to I thought the idea was brilliant.

The author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a Minnesota author.  Gatsby, set in the 20’s has a lot of appeal right now with swing dance lessons being popular, the clothing styles, and just the ability to dress up in fun and gorgeous costumes.

When our Friends board decided to give it a go our main draw was to attract a new group of people beyond those that come to our Wine and Words event.  We knew there would be some overlap of attendees to both events, but felt this might appeal to the 20’s to 40’s age group (which it did…. and then some!)

In a book I recently read… the question was presented…

Do you think it is better to fail at something worthwhile, or succeed at something meaningless?

I dreamed for Gatsby to be worthwhile.

From the start, I had a vision in mind of a jazz band, dancers, a photographer, awards, and 20’s style drinks to try.  It slowly came together.  The Brainerd High School jazz band said yes to using volunteer community hours to play for us.  My good friend and photographer Joey Halverson offered to be our event photographer, a local lady who knew my mom made our trophies and donated the printing which brought our cost way down, and the venue we used, Arrowwood Lodge was willing to work with us on providing a drink option called The Bee’s Knees and a Mary Pickford.

Our goal was 100 guests.  We closed out 2 days prior to the event at 191.  If we would have been able to keep selling tickets we would have been over 200.  Most amazingly, almost everyone of those people dressed up.  I would say close to 98%.  People really got into it.  But you don’t have to take my word for it…


PicMonkey Collage 1


PicMonkey Collage 2

PicMonkey Collage 3

PicMonkey Collage 4

PicMonkey Collage 5

Besides the great 20’s look, amazing photos, excellent jazz music, food, drinks, and dancing – the local newspaper also came and took a ton of pictures for the paper as well as made an amazing video of the event.  Not only did we attract a younger age group, we had an amazing diverse mix of ages which was an awesome bonus.  We would call this a wonderful success.

You can see all the pictures on our website page.  You can see the fun short video here.

I will add this to Saturday Snapshot this week…. a walk back in the 20’s that is what I have been up to.

Next up… Wine and Words.