Monthly Archives: April 2016

Morning Meanderings… Going to the Benefit


Today, as I sit here with my COFFEE this morning, it is a quick moment of relaxation before I jump in the car to head to ST Paul.  Today is the ‘Be The Change You Want To Be” benefit for my son.

Bittersweet as you can imagine.

It is easy to get caught up in the to do’s.  There is a Silent Auction, inviting people, making signs for the event…

but it is never far from my mind why we are doing this.

Justin’s friends Branden and Heather are hosting this and I am so proud of them.  They are doing it to honor their friend, gather with memories, and raise money for Justin’s passion, the kids of Manuelito in Honduras.

My son had many passions.  He loved living and experiencing life to the fullest.  He loved his friends fiercely.  And he loved going to Honduras and spending time with these kids who had become friends to him. One of our last conversations two days before his accident was about Manuelito and the kids.  He had thought before leaving on this trip in 2015 that it would be his last.  He was no longer in College and felt it might be time to focus on his future.  Yes when he came back in March of 2015 he said,

“Mom, I just can’t give it up.  I cannot imagine not being a part of that mission.”

So here we are.  Honoring Justin’s wishes and loving him all rolled into one.   I can’t imagine not.

If you find interest in Justin’s passion and the kids of Manuelito.  You are welcome to give using this link, and in the comments put DeChantal Memorial.  My mother heart of course thanks you.

For todays Saturday snapshot, a couple pics of Justin in Honduras.




Thanks everyone.  I am off.

Texts From Jane Eyre by Mallory Ortberg and Narrated by Zach Villa and Amy Landon


What would have changes with our favorite literacy characters if they would have had the ability to text?  Would Scarlett O Hara be texting Ashley furiously about her need that he only have eyes for her?  Would she have an acronym…. “FDD” for Fiddle dee dee?  Would Daisy Buchanan text and drive?  Would Ron be texting Harry about for infuriating Hermione is at the same time he is texting Hermione to see is she wants to go to the Quidditch game with him?

All this and more….



Texts From Jane Eyre has always held a bit of intrigue for me ever since I first heard about it.  When this audio version came up for an audio award, I decided to go forward and see if it is as good as I hoped it was.

While Texts From Jane Eyre has it’s funny moments, for the most past many of the short conversations did not feel like texts. Another thing to mention is the books they share in their short snippets are books you are unfamiliar with, the humor to the message is lost in translation.  I really wanted to enjoy it more, but unfortunately have to say I was glad it was a short listen.

Now here is when it becomes interesting when talking about the narrators.  The narration was brilliant.  Zach Villa and Amy Landon play off each other smoothly and I imagine they had a lot of fun doing it.  Wonderful job of back and forth and voices… OMG the voices.

I honestly wish I would have liked this one more.  I see by looking at online reviews I am for the most part in the minority.   I think even though it wasn’t for me, it would make a fun gift for the literary lover you know!



  • Listening Length: 2 hours and 22 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Release Date: January 21, 201


Morning Meanderings… Books In The Mail


Wednesday.  Already.

COFFEE CUP in hand, sun is out.  Day has begun.

Yesterday afternoon I received a book package.  For those of you who review books like myself I have to ask,

“Is it ever not exciting?”

I mean, even though I have been doing this since 2009 (EEP!), I still get excited about the package in the mailbox or on my doorstep.  I cant wait to rip into that manila envelope and expose what is inside.

Is it a mystery?

A new friendship?

Something that will make me laugh?  Cry?  Think?

Will I learn something new?

Will it be a book I talk about long after that last page is turned?

book journey, alex grecian, lost and gone forever

This is the book that graced my doorstep yesterday.  I opened the package.  I looked at that cover.  I think something like “ooooh” escaped my lips. Yup, you can not take the book geek out of the girl.

Seriously though LOOK at that cover.  LOOK at that title.  How could you not want to know?

So that’s my thoughts this morning.  I have coffee with my aunt to get to, a meeting at the mall, things to prepare for the benefit, and later the City Library meeting.

Talk to me about your books at your door.  If not at your door, at that local book store.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?


I feel….


Like, I have a little spark in me today that is both a little exciting and unfamiliar.  I have been so worried about what my life holds now that I really have no idea what I want to do or the desire to do it if I even knew what it was.  Heartbreak and grief coat my days.

And then…

there is a spark.

This morning as I am in my usual spot drinking my COFFEE looking out the window, I find my mind thinking about the upcoming Book Expo in Chicago in a few weeks… and who will I see, what will it be like, and planning (yes planning!) an itinerary and thinking of organizing my contacts for the different publishing houses as I have not done that in two years….

and I am thinking about my day today… a lunch date, planning things for the library, and tonight…. trivia at Prairie Bay and putting the message out to the team to make sure everyone can make it, and this weekend Justin’s benefit which is crazy cool and crazy hard and makes me happy and sad all rolled into one but- there are things to do and I am so thankful that people do want to get together to honor my son….

A spark….

AND of course this.  I LOVE It’s Monday, but I rarely do it anymore.  I think about it.  Then I don’t do it.  So what is this?  This morning I am writing this post in my head… and then I thought…. how about I ACTUALLY write it?


here we go.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog from 2006 -2009  and then was taken up by me here at Book Journey from Feb 2009 – Fall 2015 and then I passed it to Kathryn at the Book Date.  We have worked to keep the torch of It’s Monday burning!  :)


I am posting.  Not as frequently as I wish I was… but I am posting.  Here is what managed to get on here this past week:


No One Knows by J T Ellison and narrated by Terri Schnaubelt and Nich Podehl 

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman (Bookies Book Club review!)

I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out by Lee Gutkind and narrated by Tavia Gilbert  (this narration is up for and audie award!)

Farewell, Sweet Prince (Minneapolis, the day that Prince died)

Almost Interesting by David Spade and Narrated by David Spade ( this narration is up for an audie award!) 

Well, I guess that is not a bad week.  The whole list is audio books, yes I am reading but have for sure been listening to more audio lately with the Audie Awards coming up (SQQQUUUEEEE!!!!!) that I will be attending…. (SSSSQQQUUUEEE!!!!) in Chicago (SSSQQUUUEEE!!!!)

For this week here is what is on my end table and in my car and on my phone and well… you get it.



alegiant, divergent, movie, book journey, audio

What if your whole world was a lie?

What if a single revelation – like a single choice – changed everything?

What if love and loyalty made you do things you never expected?

Yes, yes, I am embarrassingly behind on this last book on the trilogy.  I found this as a down load from my library and figured it was time to finish this so I can watch the movie 🙂



furiously happy, book journey, audio, audie award, Some people might think that being ‘furiously happy’ is just an excuse to be stupid and irresponsible and invite a herd of kangaroos over to your house without telling your husband first because you suspect he would say no since he’s never particularly liked kangaroos. And that would be ridiculous because no one would invite a herd of kangaroos into their house. Two is the limit. I speak from personal experience. My husband says that none is the new limit. I say he should have been clearer about that before I rented all those kangaroos.

I have listed to Jenny before, years ago with her first book.  I have met her and respect her as a fellow blogger.  This one is up for an audie award…. lets see what happens 🙂

texts from jane eyre, book journey audie award, mallory ortberg

Everyone knows that if Scarlett O’Hara had an unlimited text-and-data plan, she’d constantly try to tempt Ashley away from Melanie with suggestive messages. If Mr. Rochester could text Jane Eyre, his ardent missives would obviously be in all-caps. And Daisy Buchanan would not only text while driving, she’d text you to pick her up after she totaled her car.

This one is also up for an audie award… and just sounds like good fun.


auntee lees chilled revenge, tour, book journey,

Rosie “Aunty” Lee—feisty widow, amateur sleuth and proprietor of Singapore’s best-loved home cooking restaurant—is back in another delectable, witty mystery set in Singapore.

Slightly hobbled by a twisted ankle, crime-solving restaurateur Aunty Lee begrudgingly agrees to take a rest from running her famous café, Aunty Lee’s Delights, and turns over operations to her friend and new business partner Cherril.

The café serves as a meeting place for an animal rescue society that Cherril once supported. They were forced to dissolve three years earlier after a British expat killed the puppy she’d adopted, sparking a firestorm of scandal. The expat, Allison Fitzgerald, left Singapore in disgrace, but has returned with an ax to grind (and a lawsuit). At the café one afternoon, Cherril receives word that Allison has been found dead in her hotel—and foul play is suspected. When a veterinarian, who was also involved in the scandal, is found dead, suspicion soon falls on the animal activists. What started with an internet witch hunt has ended in murder—and in a tightly knit, law-and-order society like Singapore, everyone is on edge.

Hmmmm…. we will see 😉


end of your life book club, will schwalbe, book journey, bookies book club

During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of care giving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.

I have been curious about this one for awhile.  Now my book club is reading it and I am hoping it is a great one!



That’s the plan.  To be a part of Its Monday!   What Are You Reading, stop in and check it out at The Book Date.  You never know where you may find that next great read!

David Spade is Almost Interesting Narrated by David Spade

david spade, book journey, almost intersting, audio, audie awards

You probably know David Spade best for his time on Saturday Night Live (SNL), movies such as Joe Dirt, Tommy Boy, and Grown Ups, as well as TV shows like Just Shoot Me and Rules of Engagement.

In Almost Interesting David talks about the hard road to breaking into stand up comedy with no money or even a car to his name.  He shares his experiences of making his way on to SNL and working alongside legendary comedy giants such as Chris Farley, Chris Rock, and Adam Sandler.  There are moments of sadness, when David shares of his friendship with Chris Farley, and moments of freakishness, when Eddie Murphy threatens to pound David into the ground and does not talk to him for years, as well as many moments of laughter.




I listened to this audio book because it is up for an Audie Award.  While I am familiar with David Spades work, I am not what you would call a fan.  Still, I do love a good biography/memoir.  I went into this one not expecting much but am happy to admit I was pleasantly surprised.  Other than a few bumps in the narration and occasional long pauses that made me think my battery went out on my audio player, David Spade did a nice job.  One of my favorite parts in the audio is when he shares a joke and he starts to laugh a bit, and I think he cracked himself up.  That was fun and it made the experience feel all the more real, like David was just chatting about his life.

Overall I found this audio book to be engaging.  I really enjoyed the back stage pass to SNL and everything it takes to get on stage and continue to be on stage.  As a fan of Chris Farley’s work, I enjoyed listening to David’s friendship with Chris and how they kidded around together.  David does a great impression of Farley.  I especially found interesting how David got him start and how hard it was to break into the “funny” crowd.

I can see now why it was nominated for an Audie Award.  I have new insight and respect for David Spade having listened to this audio bookarmchairaudies-300x300.




  • Listening Length: 6 hours and 32 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Release Date: October 27, 2015


Saturday Snapshot…. In The Right Place At A Sad Time… Prince

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

On Thursday of this last week, a few friends and I had tickets to the Amy Schumer comedy show in Minneapolis Minnesota.   For myself, this was a big move as I have become a sort of hermit this past year, I can go out and do things but I like to come home afterwards and this was an overnight event.


Before I left town Thursday afternoon for the show a friend of mine had text me…

Prince died!

Having lived in Minnesota all of my life and growing up around Prince’s music it was a shocking message.  I started trying to do the math in my head… how much older was Prince than myself?  I could not recall if he was old, or had health issues, I honestly had not followed his career in probably a decade.

That afternoon I picked up my friend Amy and we drove the 2+ hours into Minneapolis.  We had a nice dinner before the comedy show and as everything was very close to our hotel, we walked to the event.  I did not realize as we were walking that we would be so close to the bar where Prince received his first big break, 1st Avenue.  While Farrah had mentioned that maybe after the comedy show we stop by that bar, I thought we would have to take a taxi there.

We went around a corner and this was the scene:


Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

I was amazed. It was around  8:15 pm and this was the crowds in the street in from of the First Avenue bar.  The venue we were going to was actually on the same block, putting these crowds right outside the venue we would be at.  First Avenue had received permission from the city to have an all night dance party for Prince.

We went into the show and enjoyed Amy Schumer’s humor.  We were not allowed to take any pictures at the event so unfortunately, you just have to take my word for it. I was there. 🙂  She hits a few hot button topics, which unfortunately caused two front row attendees to be removed from the show for  rude comments.  That – was something I had never seen before.

After the show, we stepped outside the venue into this:

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Helicopters were flying overhead filming the crowd, police and security were working to keep everything under control. We made an attempt to go into the bar, but there would be none of that.  The crowd as you can see was immense and I spoke to a few people leaving the masses and they said they had been waiting outside the bar for over two hours.  I made the suggestion that we all go back to the hotel and sleep until 4 and then come back then.  Of course, by the time that we went to the hotel and sat around talking until after 1:00 am….  4 am…. was not going to happen.  We were all exhausted and I thought what would I do at the bar at 4 am… I really just wanted to step into it and look around, I had never been in it.

Instead, we woke up at about 6:30 and Amy and I grabbed some coffee and walked down to First Avenue bar to see if we could see anything at the time of the morning.  Some of the signs at different venues had been changed…

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

  The bar was closed, there were about twenty people coming and going to stop and pay their respects at the memorial that had sprung up in the last 20 hours.

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

Book Journey, Prince, Mnneapolis, First Avenue Bar, Sheila DeChantal, Amy Price. Farrah McKinney

It was a bitter sweet experience.  It was a wonderful time hanging out with the girls catching up, talking, the show…. and even getting out of town and out of my own head for a night.  Seeing the Prince memorial and being among the crowds of people mourning his loss and celebrating his life was priceless.  It was a moment of history in the making and I was right there in it.  Once again a reminder of how fragile life is and how each moment should be lived out as much as possible with no regrets.

Thank you for the music, the memories, for your originality, for allowing Minnesota to be your home.  Sleep well sweet Prince. 


This is my post for Saturday Snapshot this week.

I Wasn’t Strong Like This When I Started Out – True Stories Of Becoming A Nurse by Lee Gutkind, Narrated by Tavia Gilbert

i wasnt strong like this before, lee gutking, tavia gilbert book journey

A collection of true narratives from nurses and their careers.  From their first birth, to their first death – to what they deal with as well as what they see on a day-to-day basis.  Stories that are at times life changing, overstepping boundaries with an AIDS patient, and the nurse who was the only one who showed up at the funeral of one of her patients.



So this particular listen is both right up my alley – and not.  I do enjoy a good non fiction read.  At the same time I knew this one would be a bit touchy for me on a personal level and I was nervous going into this listen.  While there were moments that hit a little too close to home, this audio was not only doable – but interesting.

This book of short personal stories of these nurses is both enlightening and heartbreaking.  Yes there were moments for me that were harder to listen to than others.  I suspect that would be the case for many in such a read.  When talking about the different things that nurses do and the types of patients they encounter, I suspect it is easy to touch the reader/listener personally in many ways.

Adding to the mix is of course the narration of Tania Gilbert, who I have enjoyed listening to many times and this book was no exception.  Her diversity in the stories is once again a powerful performance and a narrator I always smile abut when I see her name on audio books I wish to listen to.

My overall thoughts are that this is an interesting listen and while I am probably not the best audience for this, I am still glad I had a chance to experience it and get a little insight to what it is really like to live out your career as a nurse.


Tavia Gilbert, narrator of I Wasn’t Strong Like This Before is nominated for an Audie Award. armchairaudies-300x300



  • Written by: Lee Gutkind
  • Narrated by: Tavia Gilbert
  • Length: 8 hrs and 36 mins 
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Release Date:08-04-15
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio


A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman narrated by George Newbern (Recommended by Bookies Book Club)

3a - Copy

Ove is the kind of man most tend to avoid.  He is 59 years old and retired.  He likes things the way he likes them and that is all.  He is a rule follower.  He doesn’t understand people who just can’t mind their own business and for Gods sake.. follow the basic rules.  Most refer to him as a crabby old man and worth avoiding but Ove could care less.  Is he supposed to plaster a stupid smile on his face and pretend that the local idiots are ok?  Ove doesn’t think so.

Then one day new neighbors move in and in the princess of doing so they hit Ove’s mailbox because clearly they have no idea how to back up a U-Haul.  Seriously?   And they are chatty… this family of “The Pregnant One”, the “Lanky One” and their two little ones. What Ove does not expect is how much this family will turn his world around… in surprising ways for all involved.


A Man Called Ove was our book club pick for April.  Having just come off a not-so-delightful read, A Man Called Ove sounded lighthearted and funny and who doesn’t like that?  For myself, I listened to it on audio and enjoyed the narration of George Newbern, a narrator to keep an eye (or ear?) on as he has narrated several audio books I have thoroughly enjoyed.  While I enjoyed this book, and occasionally smiled at the things that Ove would say or do, it was not the funny award-winning read that I had hoped for.  This could be because I may not have been fully engaged when listening to the audio, or it may just not have lived up the hype that I was expecting and that in a nut shell is the problem with hype.  🙂  It may have been better not knowing any opinions on the book prior to listening.

My book club, The Bookies, all read the book version.  There was great discussion over the different themes that flow through this book:  depression, self-worth, relationships at all levels, the importance of community…  listening to them share about the book I almost wish I would have read it just for the fact that I think that I may have not been in the right frame of mind for such an audio and missed some things by listening instead of reading in this particular case.

Over all the bookies rated this one in the high 4’s to 5 on our scale of 1-5 on book ratings.  They enjoyed Ove very much and we all discussed the Ove’s we have in our own life.  I actually came in at the lowest rating of a 3, which is not bad.  I found it to be an average read, good but not over the top great.  Perhaps this is one I need to someday read again.

If you read my morning post you seen all the delightful food we had centered around this book.  We tried a few Swedish recipes.  I made a sausage and potato hot dish as Ove liked to eat that dish every day.   Oh… Ove.  🙂


Why A Man Called Ove makes for a good book club book:

The book lends itself to many topics that are discussion worthy…. relationships, generations, suicide, depression, aging…

As I mentioned, most of us know an “Ove”, someone set in their ways and see things as black and white and never gray.  Talk about your “Ove”.  How do you relate to this person?  Do you see underneath the hard structure?

The Swedish background allows for some creative food to go with your discussion.  There is a lot of food and drink mentioned within this book and experiencing this as a group is fun.

Several movies come to mind when you are discussing AMCO.  Consider watching one of these movies with your book group… Grumpy Old Men, Gran Torino, About Schmidt, As Good As It Gets…



  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 9 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Dreamscape Media, LLC
  • Release Date: August 5, 2014



Morning Meanderings… A Man Called…..


I am sitting here this morning with COFFEE CUP in hand contemplating the amazing way people intertwine in your life, weaving their way through certain parts of our lives.. filling a spot here, covering a need there…. conversations, and meet ups, and plans, and hang outs, and reaching into each other lives….


Last week was book club and that usually puts me in this place I am now.  Amazed at how people connect and what brings them together.  I adore my book club.  I adore the mix of personalities that become more and more vibrant as the years go on. The discussions and even just sitting back and watching how everyone interacts with one another.  At one time we were just a random group of girls who liked to read.  Together… we are magical.

Our review was for A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Bachman.

3a - CopyA grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.  ~Goodreads


We utilized our library’s Book Club In A Bag program and I chose to listen to it on audio.  More on the book itself in a post coming up.  The book was originally written in Sweden and is set in Sweden.  Our group had a wonderful time with the Swedish themed food for this review…Swedish Meat Balls,  Swedish fish, Persian cookies like those in the book, and even a swedish style cake.



A+ for creativity Bookies book club!  I will say this, A Man Called Ove definitely brings out some good themes for discussing.  Seems like everyone has an “Ove” in their life. 😉



No One Knows by J T Ellison (Otherwise Known As Gone Boy ;) )

no one knows, j t ellison, book journey, review, audio

It has been five years since Aubrey’s husband disappeared.  Five long years of wondering what happened that night at the bachelor party when Josh was going to meet Aubrey in the bar and never showed up.  There were signs that pointed to the real possibility of Josh being murdered, but why?  Josh was one of the good guys, working hard to provide a wonderful life for himself and Aubrey, always doing the right thing.  Five years have gone by and the state of Tennessee has declared Josh officially dead.  Aubrey can now move on.




Much like how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, what draws me to this kind of read the world (and I) may never know.  I was at first drawn to the cover… seriously….look at it.  It’s beautiful. Mysterious.  I wanted to know more.  Then the synopsis… what happened?  How do you just disappear?

No One Knows gave me the happy vibes of Gone Girl, except in this case… it is Gone Boy.  Josh is gone, and through a series of flash backs you learn a lot about both Josh and Aubrey as they grew up, what their lives were like, how they met, and what they were like as a couple.  Carefully woven together with a whip smart pen, author J T Ellison creates mysteries woven within mysteries… a bread crumb trail of clues leading up to what really did happen the day that Josh was gone.

I listened to this on audio, narrated by Terri Schnaubelt and Nich Podehl who together, grasp the emotional wave of this book firmly and they do not let the listener go until the end.  Well read.

I really enjoyed this listen. Nothing was predictable and I had moments of “Wait!  WHAT?” as everything comes to a thrilling close…..



  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 9 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio
  • Release Date: March 22, 2016