Monthly Archives: January 2018

Turtles All The Way Down by John Green w/ Bookies Book Club Review


Ahhh John Green… you are one of those authors that can do no wrong.  When I hear you have a book coming out my spidey senses tingle and I eagerly await the release date to see what brilliance you are going to add to my life as well as how the tears will this time form in my eyes.  ~Sheila

 

16-year-old Aza is constantly in a battle with her own mind… germs, ways to die, diseases occupy her thoughts beyond her control.  She is trying so hard to be like everyone else but if they only knew.

When her friend Davis’s billionaire dad disappears and there is a hundred thousand dollar reward on the line, Aza’s best friend Daisy is eager to get involved solve what happened and claim that reward.  Imagine what they could do with that kind of money!  Aza wants to be a part of it all despite all that goes on within her, and doesn’t it just feel good to be of something?

A long time ago I was told that when someone reads John Green, their first John Green will be their favorite.  I will never know if that is true as my first John Green was The Fault In The Stars and yup – that was my favorite.  I have since read all of his books and still feel while they are good, nothing has come close to The Fault In The Stars.

Coincidence?

I still hold to that after reading Turtles All The Way Down.  The book is good, it is a John Green after all which is like owning something classy and name brand, like “OOOH… is that a John Green?”    Yet my thoughts, as well as my book club who recently read it, is there is no big WOW.  Much happens, and perhaps this one is sadder in its own way as a John Green book goes – and plenty to think about – yet left none of us with a big WHOA.

Should you read it?  Yes.  If you have liked John Green in the past, or even if you are new to John Green – yes.  It is after all a John Green… it is deep, it is about young adults, and it hold its worth, for me however it landed as an average read.

In Bookies fashion of course we had food for our review… there were plenty of Turtle candies, a mock turtle soup, and extras.  One of the girls even made turtle bars… gooey caramel and chocolate… need I say more?

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

This book hit the spot and was the right mix of quirky crazy physiological craziness to make me laugh and cringe and SOOOOO glad I chose this book as my first book of the year.  ~Sheila

 

Paul Strom is so excited.  He is finally getting away for a lovely weekend with his wife Mia.  She has not been feeling well lately and Paul feels that perhaps this break from the pressures of running a household, working and their children has been perhaps a little too much for her lately.  This day- THIS DAY, will be the best day ever.

Yet things are not as they seem.  Mia seem out of sorts and edgy, and Paul is having interference from people calling him that know they should not be calling him.  He has already gone over this.  How can he keep their day on track and keep it the best day ever?  And in they could just get to their special place, so he can give Mia the special surprise he has awaiting for her.  She will be so surprised!

 

Oh I needed this.  I absolutely loved listening to YOU by Caroline Kepnes  and reading this synopsis made me wonder if lighting could possibly strike twice.  The answer, is awfully darn close.  While Paul does not quite hit the craziness level of Joe in YOU and Hidden Bodies, he sure is a good runner up.

I devoured this book.  I could not get enough of the story line and where it was going.  I wanted badly to know what was going to happen.  Paul made me laugh and he made me think…  professional crazy at its finest.

If you love a good physiological thriller, that is not over the top graphic or gory – this book is one to try.  An absolute delight on audio – Graham Halstead (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) nailed it. 

 

 

 

Morning Meanderings: My Crazy Amazing Encounter with Sue Grafton

 

Good morning.  Or Afternoon.  Or evening.  Wherever you are and whenever you are reading this.  It is morning here in Minnesota on this exceptionally COLD day.  The coffee is brewing and I am capturing a few minutes to myself before my day explodes into activity.

You are probably familiar with the name Sue Grafton.  She was the author of the long running books that started with A is for Alibi, a series she started after having penned 7 previous books.  It was this alphabet series that went on to make her the famous author she had become.  She passed away in December, and although she was not an author I read (yet) she is one that holds a special place in my heart.

I have a personal story about her.  It was at the Penguin Bash in New York during the Book Expo of 2013.  I was at this event with my good friend Allison and my roommate that year Cindy (Cindy’s Love of Books).

I was siting and talking with a group of book reviewers when I believe it was Jill (Rhapsody in Books) who ran up to me and grabbed my arm.  “You have to come and meet Sue Grafton!” she said.  I remember feeling like a little kid putting the breaks on. I had not read Sue Grafton’s books and what would I say to a big name author who I had not read?

I was introduced and I came up with something awkward and surely cheesy by saying, “So.. you are on W.  What happens when you get to Z?  I mean, AA already means something and AAA means something else.”

GAH.

For some reason, she liked me.  We talked for about 15 minutes about writing and my wanting to do so myself and having yet (even now) to find my direction.  She gave me her email and told me to write her anytime to discuss writing.

Wait…

what?

Well as most things Expo for me…  I have HUGE plans when I return home, however life kicks back in and many things, such as emailing Sue Grafton about writing… fall to the way side.  It was a few weeks later the letter arrived.

It was a beautiful letter from Sue Grafton hoping that she was mailing the girl that she talked to about writing.  (Gulp)  I had not given my information to her but somehow she had come up with my mailing address and sent me this personal letter encouraging me to follow my passion.  It was beautiful.  Amazing.  And somewhere I still have that letter.

From that year on, she sent me a Christmas card every year.  Now, January 12th, I have put away all the Christmas cards of 2017… except hers.  Hers is still on my refrigerator.  I am savoring the memory of her, the conversation, the letter and knowing that this is the last Christmas card I will receive from this amazing author…  who changed the world – and ended the alphabet with Y.

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Sue Grafton and I  2013

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

There are some constants in life that you can cause you to breathe a little easier because you know they are there.. or they are coming.  Elin Hildebrand’s book releases are on of these constants.  She is consistently good in her writing, and consistent in putting out a book a year just as I am craving a little of that Nantucket sand between my toes.  ~Sheila

 

Harper Frost is that laid back girl next door with a beer chaser.   She has her own style and it is casual.  She doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  She tends to leap… and suffer the consequences later.  She is typically in between jobs and that is ok.

Tabitha Frost is dignified.  She wear only designer clothes and is much like her fashion icon mother, Eleanor Roxie Frost.  Appearance – is everything.  Tabitha’s teenage daughter Ainsley, begs to differ.  She is abrasive to her mother in full on teen rebellion…  what she needs, well what she needs is a dose of Harper – Tabitha’s identical twin.

The sisters, have lived on islands 11 miles apart yet have not connected in over a decade.  As their lives are splintering, the twins call a truce to see what they can do to fix things before it is all too late.  By switching places can they repair the damage done by lies, deception and gossip?  And is there any hope that what threw the sisters apart all those years ago can be repaired?

MMMMM  I love me some Hilderbrand.  Her books tend to be of the Nantucket persuasion which I love.  A little of knowing what you are going to get, at least setting wise… but there is so much more.

Harper and Tabitha are well-developed characters and I enjoyed this story line so much.  Hilderbrand does a nice job of fully developing the story lines of their worlds separately as well as together.  I love love LOVED Eleanor.  If you have not tried Elin Hilderbrand, I recommend highly that you do.  There are some delightful laugh out loud moments here, as well as a wonderful story of sibling rivalry, family secrets, and well.. basically a typical family trying to make it work.

SON by Jack Olsen


I admit, I have always been a bit fascinated with true crime.  That – I realize feels weird to say.  How to put this… the human mind is a fascinating thing, when you add in whatever makes psychopath’s do what they do… and usually justify it – I don’t even know what to say.  ~Sheila

 

Disclaimer…  I see as this year starts out my reviews have been ummmm… border line murderous?  Those of you who have read my reviews (or look at my review list) know better.  I read all over the board – just for some reason as I am catching up on reviews I see I have had a series in a row of these reads – not as dark as this one I am about to share with you.. but mystery dark all the same.  I assure you, lighter stuff is on the way 🙂  There have been some re-reads for book groups I am involved in such as Left Neglected (sooooo good), The Husbands Secret (ooh!), Big Little Lies (I will talk about this discussion soon), and Turtles All The Way Down for my book club that meets tonight).  See – they are coming 😉

SON.

I believe, if I recall correctly, I found SON while choosing audio on Audible.com.  I do, as I mentioned, enjoy (cringes at the word) the occasional true crime and SON’s synopsis of being an old crime and then rewritten with a new forward by another author.  That caught my attention.  Why rewrite a true crime? 

SON is about a serial raper in the Spokane Washington area in the 1980’s.  Fred Coe raped more women than can be actually known over a two year period.  He was described as handsome, kind, and a down to earth attitude that would not make you think twice about him (Bundy?).  He mainly watched bus lines or jogging trails for women alone.  The crazy think IMO – was he was not that good at it and I was mostly baffled by how long it took to capture him.

What do I mean?

Well, often his face was not covered.  He threatened the women of course to not tell or he would be back, and they did not.  Often – he could not perform.  He would ask the women if they enjoyed what he was doing, using vulgar language, etc…

A newspaper offered a reward for the rapists arrest – as it turns out, Gordon Coe, the editor of the newspaper took the calls that came in about the reward, only to later find out it was Fred Coe – Gordon’s son who was the rapist.

This book (I went with audio) was way longer than it needed to be.  The narration took a bit of getting used to, a monotone style voice that was used when they described the rapes and what the women said or what Fred said, grated at me for a large part of the audio as I felt it did not fit the scene.  The book is (IMO) over detailed, dragging out way longer than it needed to be.  I mainly kept listening as I was baffled by all that was said, that it took local law enforcement so long to capture him.  I had to know what finally happened.

As true crime goes, I would not recommend this one.  As mentioned, it was too drawn out for me, and while it held my attention, it was not something I could not wait to get back to. Unless you have connection to the Spokane area or the crimes themselves, I would say pass on this.

 

Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens


Yes, my Esken’s gush continues from yesterdays posting of The Heavens May Fall.  A brilliant writer who I have found to capture a bounty of talent within a binding.  Allen Esken’s never ceases to surprise me.

~Sheila

 

Detective Max Rupert has never come to terms with his wife’s death, the result of a hit and run.  When evidence is found that proves Max’s suspicions, that her death was no accident but cold-blooded murder,  Max falls into a world of grief and despair and an unquenchable desire to seek revenge on those involved.

As Max follows the clues he becomes more consumed to the point of not carrying what his decisions going forward could mean for himself.  When his obsessive need for revenge brings him to a cold and frozen lake on the far outstretches of Minnesota somewhere where his actions may never be brought to light, Max steps over a line that he himself had convicted many people for less.

Whoa and whoa.  Seriously whoa.  This book, and its nature really starts in Heavens May Fall as you learn more about Max’s growing obsession with his dead wife.  As heaven’s May Fall comes to a close, facts (bread crumbs) are dropped into the reader’s mind that all that surrounds Jenni Rupert’s death is not as it was to seem.  Deep Dark Descending really is all about what Max does with this new-found knowledge that his friend Boady placed in his care.

Deep Dark Descending is dark, however I will say understandably so.  If you follow Max’s love for his wife and her untimely death as well as other factors that are revealed in this book, you can indeed follow Max down the spiral rabbit hole of Deep Dark Descending.

For myself, I am fascinated with what Allen Esken’s brings into a book.  Knowing his background as an attorney makes it all the more fascinating for me as I imagine he is pulling from his own experiences and then adding his own spin to what happens when someone is pushed right to their breaking point.

I devoured Deep Dark Descending on audio, listening every chance I had to know what would happen as Max uncovers hard truths and makes even harder decisions of what to do with these truths now that they are fully revealed.

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens


Allen Eskens is a Minnesota gem.  His works are drawing attention all over and he is not only a best seller but has won many awards for his writing.  I am thrilled to have met him in New York at the Book Expo and he and his lovely wife attended Wine and Words in 2016.  He is an author I watch to see what he will put to paper next.  His first book, The Life We Bury was a delight to review with The Bookies.

~Sheila

Boady Sanden has happily enjoyed his retirement, that is until his friend Ben Pruitt shows up on his doorstep broken and grieving announcing that his wife, Jennavieve has just been murdered and he, Ben, is considered a suspect.  Boady, who still carries guilt over an innocent client from years ago feels this may be his chance to lift the burden a little and agrees to come out of retirement and represent Ben.

Detective Max Rupert is friends with Boady but does not share in Boady’s strong belief that Ben is innocent.  Max, carrying the weight on his own wife’s murder 4 years earlier, finds that Ben’s situation is stirring things in him that have never been resolved.

In a case that has friends on opposite ends of the court room, Boady and Max agree to disagree as both men work to unravel the mystery surrounding Jennavieve’s untimely death.  What will be the final verdict for all involved?

As I mentioned, you don’t have to sell me on an Allen Eskens book.  Lets just say, you had me at Esken’s.  I listened to this one on audio while painting my office recently and the story line, smooth narration by R. C. Bray (Narrator),‎ David Colacci (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) was the perfect mix.  Nothing makes a project go by smoother than great audio.

I loved it.  The twists the turns had me all the way through… just when I thought I knew.. BAH.  I knew nothing.

Note:  You meet Boady and Max in The Life We Bury, although you do not need to have read The Life We Bury to dig into this read.  In fact for myself, I had forgotten that I had met these two men in a previous book with over a year for me between the reads.  I do however recommend you read this one before you read Esken’s next book, The Deep Dark Descending. 

In DDD, you really follow Max Rupert down a rabbit hole and I feel you need The Heavens May Fall to grasp where Max is at.  I have two friends (well I have a few more but this scenario is about two of them…) one read them as I suggested here and LOVED Deep Dark Descending. The one who read Deep Dark Descending without reading this one first found it to be dark, and did not fully grasp how Max Rupert came to be where he is in that book. 

Morning Meanderings… A Week Of Experiences

A week in!  Anyone else feel like a rock star?  Or just amazed that the first week of 2018 is coming to a close.  I am a mixed bag of both 🙂

This week for me was a little crazy…  I accepted a position (YAY!!!) that takes me out of my office at home a little more and into the world of marketing which I LOVE LOVE LOVE – yet it is new and I am adjusting to the change in my availability while still hanging on to the commitments I have with non profits, friends, and other projects.  I need to borrow from my good friend Amy her word, BALANCE.

I read a little (thank you Jill Anderson!) and I listened to a little audio… I have reviews to write (Huzzah!), W9s to fill out, invoices to send, power point to design, and this recap of the week.

SO Experience….

January 1:  COLD The 10k in ST Paul at 20 below zero.  6.2 miles.

January 2:  Love and Friendship…  a beautiful gift in the mail, my friends had their little boy

January 3:  BOOKS.  The donations at the library are overflowing.  A few of us hauled books from the library to the sale spot set for spring.  More book donations than I have ever seen at one time!

January 4:  Purpose.  I started my first day in an office in town.  I was a little nervous, I have worked mainly out of my home office since July 2014.  It went well.  The others were super nice, I felt good, and I felt I had purpose, which surprised me in good ways.

January 5:  Heartbreak.  Bailey, who has been around for 20+ years was put down (horrible words). He was getting to be too much to handle – above assisted living care.. he needed someone all the time to carry him outside and in, he was blind and deaf and the HARD decision had to be made.  UGH.

January 6:  Creativity.  I attended two jewelry making classes today – one for a necklace and one for a bracelet centered around our words of the year.  I have never been to a jewelry making class before so this was new, exciting, fun, and took my mind off of (for a little while) the sorrow over Bailey.

As for today, the 7th… I do not know yet.  The day is young…  I am planning to stay at home for the most part and prepping some things to take pressure off my week…  and it will be a week!  Tomorrow Friends meeting, take down decorations at library, Author, Books Burgers and Brews in the evening, Tuesday office and lunch with friends, Wednesday gym, book hauling, a couple of meet ups for work, Thursday office, 2nd Thursday Happy Hour For A Cause in the evening, somewhere in the middle maybe some shopping for vacation next week, Friday gym, office.. somewhere in the week I should consider tanning as well….

Welcome to 2018.  How was the first week for you?

Morning Meanderings… Experience Has A Bad Rap


Good morning from Minnesota.  *Yawns.  Stretches.*

I am starting to feel that my word for the year “Experience” has a bad rap.

When looking up inspirational messages for my word, I am finding that often experience is connected negatively.  Exhibit A:

Really Oscar Wilde? REALLY?

I was actually surprised as I dug more into the word.  My 2016 word COURAGE was so inspirational and strong.  My 2017 word SHINE followed suit and everywhere you looked positive things were said in regards to SHINE.

So what is up with Experience?

I don’t see it this way.

Experience is not something you get when something bad happens.  Well – it sure can be, but that is not what the word is to me.  I was thinking way more positively. EXPERIENCE is moving forward and EXPERIENCING what this world/life has to offer.  Doing something new, EXPERIENCING an event, a taste, a challenge, an accomplishment.  It is getting up, getting out, and moving in a positive direction.

I plan to run my 1st half marathon in July of this year.  That is an experience I am excited for.  I am signed up to do RAGBRAI, a 7 day bike ride across Iowa.  THAT is an experience.

I am not saying my year will be all sunshine and lollipops.  Of all people, I know better than that.  I also know that some experiences would be ones I would have rather passed on if given the choice.  There may be painful experiences ahead – but guess what?  The year of Courage and Shine also had their moments.


Thank you Emily.  I have always liked you.

When I looked at the lists of words that are suggested for your One Word of the year, Experience does not even make the list.  I kind of like that.  I have always been an outside the box kind of girl and I kind of like the thought of turning Experiences reputation and the way we think of it around.

Challenge accepted.

If I can keep up with my own ambitions (ha ha … always a challenge) I will share with you here the experiences of each day… come what may –

It will be an EXPERIENCE.

January 1st…  ran a 10k in 20- zero weather in St Paul Minnesota…  Experience was:  COLD, Invigorating, Inspirational… great way to start the New Year

January 2nd:  Started a new position with a company I so enjoy working with.  My friends had their baby, a little earlier than expected – but he is beautiful and he is a fighter.  I received a lovely gift in the mail… a Gryffindor scarf (HOW have I not already had one of these?)  And a beautiful copy of The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice.  Something I have never read, but would like to.

Experience was:  Excitement, Joy, and a little sadness too mixed in as milestones and holidays tend to do that to me.

How are you?  If you chose a word this year, how is it working for you these first few days?  How are you implementing it in your life?

First Book 2018 Updated


Good morning!  Happy January 2nd.  It has been fun to watch my E-mailbox fill with these pictures and stories about to be/being enjoyed.  Each title inspires me and as some of you noted on yesterday’s post – with as many entries as we have, there is not one duplicate.  I love that in so many ways.  The diversity in our choices.

This morning, my friend Mary sent in her book choice of Gone Girl with a message that her son asked her to read it so they can discuss it.  This opened up a flood of memories for me.  On our last trip to Happy Potter world in 2014,  Justin and I went to the movie.  I had already seen the movie, and I had already read the book prior to that, and wanted to EXPERIENCE (see what I did there?) this with him.

He loved it.  We left the theater in an Orlando mall and we immediately walked over to the malls book store where he purchased the book.  We talked about it for weeks afterwards. Differences between the book and the movie, plot…  I cherish those conversations.

AND that is just one of the many delights of a good book.  Not only experiencing it for yourself… but sharing it.  I love the book you hand to a friend and say, “Call me… as soon as you are done.  We need to talk about this.” 

Here is the UPDATED post of the 2018 books.  93 of you in all submitted your First Book.  Thank you.  This is always so much fun to do and kick starts my year in books, and in blogging, off right.  I am bringing over much of the info from yesterday’s post (the places and the book links) to this post so you can click away and perhaps find your second book here.

(The top 2 sets are the newly added pics)


Here are the areas where these books were sent in from:    Alabama, Arkansas, Australia, Bermuda, California, Canada, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Jamaica, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, New Zealand, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Scotland, Singapore, Switzerland, Tennessee, Texas, UK, Virginia, Washington DC, Wisconsin and Wyoming

First Books:

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie

Just Between Us by Rebecca Drake

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

The Hearts Invisible Furries by John Boyne

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

The Colour of Magic by Terry Pratchett

The Sandcastle by Iris Murdock

Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs

A Distant Heart by Sonali Dev

The Wake Up by Catherine Ryan Hyde

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Ginger Snapped by Gail Oust

Wonder by RJ Palacio

The Promise Between Us by Barbara Claypole White

Copy Cat by Alex Lake

Jack Reacher The Midnight Line by Lee Child

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Every Breath You Take by Mary Higgins Clark

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

Bear Town by Fredrich Backman

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

Tremontaine by Ellen Kushner

The Papers of Tony Veitch by William McIivanney

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Curse on the Land by Faith Hunter

Degrees of Love by Lisa Slabach

Killers Of The Flower Moon by David Grann

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

My Antonia by Willa Cather

A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms by George RR Martin

Freya by Matthew Lawrence

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu

The Chalk Man by CJ Tudor

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks

American War by Omar El Akkad

Palo Duro by Max Knight

American Indians American Presidents

Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

The Reminders by Val Emmich

The African Trilogy by Chinua Achebe

Year One by Nora Roberts

Reset Reset Reset by Ellen Pao

The Mayflower Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

Crown of Stars by Sophie Jaff

180 Seconds by Jessica Park

Jacqueline Willoughby by Schuyler Randall

The World To Come by Dara Horn

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Those who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

White Bodies by Jane Robins

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

I liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Origin by Dan Brown

Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage by Hugh Brewster

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

The Listener by Robert McCammom

What If God Wrote Your To Do List by Jay Payleitner

The One Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith

In the Moment by Karen Kingsbury

A Man Called Ove by Frederick Backman

The Perfect Girl by Gilly MacMillan

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Hunger by Roxanne Gay

The Man In The Black Suit by Sylvia Reynard

Glittering Images by Susan Howatch

Christmas Cakes and Mistletoe Nights by Catherine Matthew

I Am A Truck by Michelle Winters

Sitting Murder by AJ Wright

Swimming Lessons by Claire Fuller

Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

Weave A Circle Round by Kari Maaren

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

River City Secrets Stories from Richmond by Lana Krumwiede

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas