Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Lightning…. sometimes… can strike twice… sometimes. ~Sheila

Ready Player Two is the follow up to one of the most GUSH WORTHY books I have ever discussed, reviewed and passed on to others. I originally read Ready Player One in 2011 and was HOOKED – 80’s culture, gaming concept, virtual world…. what’s not to love and I was all about it… ALL OF IT. I have listened to this book on audio more times then I care to admit and have reviewed it three times… gushing every single time.

Ready Player Two is based on the same original concept with the same protagonist (YAY!!!) and another quest put before them (kind-of-yay), once again the High Five Gang gets together to save the world from evil all the time having a good solid hint of what is too much virtual reality and the importance of balance. Three years have passed since Wade won the first quest. (Well, what? That’s not a spoiler! The book has been out for 9 years… my spoiler alert rule holds for 7 :D)
A few things have changed for the group and a little distance has grown between them – some more than others.

My thoughts…
A long time ago I remember having a discussion with my son Justin when there were rumors of another Harry Potter books coming out after the series had ended. I remember being absolutely giddy about the possibility of a revisit.. a continuation of sorts in familiar territory. My son, was against it. Justin felt that bringing back something that was so well done – and trying to add to it could be disastrous. It could never live up the the hype we had built up in our minds.

This… is a little like that.

I listened to this on audio because Wil Wheaton is an AMAZING narrator and adds so much to the book as he did with the first book. As the synopsis begin to unfold, I admit I found myself a bit disappointed even though I had no preconception of what this book would be about. (I really wanted that lightning to strike twice).
As the book continued, I warmed up to it. Where ready Player One focuses on a lot of great 80’s references, Ready Player Two put more focus on the 90’s. I found myself engrossed in stats about Prince, a lot of 90s music that caused me to pull them up on Spotify so I could fully emerge in these great references. Gaming, Narnia, A fun Hogwarts reference and more… it was well worth the listen.

I have not read any other reviews on this book at this point as I really wanted this to be my own opinion and not influenced by what someone else said although, I am super curious what others are taking away from this. My biggest disappointment was I felt that each step of the quest was solved way too simply and did not have the sense of great battle that I felt during the first book. Nothing… was all that hard.

Was that just me?

Overall – still a good listen/read. Whil Wheaton again knocks it out of the ballpark. Taking a ride in the Little Red Corvette? Narnia references? Sonic the Hedgehog? Game battles? Revisiting the characters? Totally worth it. Was it as good as the first one? No. Will I listen to it again? Probably. At least one more walk through as it has been a busy week and I listened to this in pieces between work and Family and Holiday happenings…

If there was a third book would I be in? Probably. While I have no idea where they go from here.. I would still be curious.

If you have read/listened to this I would love to hear how you felt it stacked up.

Morning Meanderings.. Pretty Real Thanksgiving.

Good morning Day-After-Thankgivingers. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I actually did. COVID changed our plans slightly, we usually go to my son’s home for his Friendsgiving event at his house and have done this since Justin’s accident in 2015 as I have had no desire whatsoever to make a traditional Thanksgiving meal or have a traditional Thanksgiving.

COVID called check-mate on that.

Certainly, I could have still changed it up… Chinese food sounded wonderful, even pizzas and a good movie…. Al had other plans. He decided that we were having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and he was doing the cooking.

Yes. Stop the presses.

So here was my dilemma…. I could certainly tell him no I wasn’t up to it and go with my other thoughts of anything-but-a-turkey. Of course doing so felt awful, like I would be crushing him just because I struggle with post-Justin traditions. Of course, I went with his plan.

It all went well. I started my day with the annual Turkey Trot 5k that was cancelled, and I did it anyway on my own – well with my dog. It’s good for me to start any holiday with a plan that makes me do something. After the chilly walk, I came home to make homemade stuffing and a corn pudding side dish, the rest was all Al. We had turkey (of course), cranberries, dinner rolls, stuffing, cottage cheese, corn pudding ( it was ok but I would tweak it if I were to ever do it again) and Cheesecake for dessert.

Prior to eating I threw the traditional pie in my son’s Brad face so at least I was able to see him for a bit on Thanksgiving and have a few laughs. In fact thinking about it today – I think yesterday was the first year I did not cry on Thanksgiving in 6 years… and honestly THAT makes me want to cry.

I worked on a puzzle, watched a movie with Al (I See You – it was kind of weird and meh) and listened to my audio book, Ready Player Two while cooking.

I decided that the Traditional Thanksgiving 5k has been such a good thing for me throughout the years that I should make a commitment to do one every day during what is the hardest time of the year for me… so that is that plan, a 5k a day from now through Christmas. I like the idea of the challenge. I like that it excites me and has me planning on how to maneuver it through days that I am working or otherwise committed yet I know it is doable. If interested, I welcome you to join me from wherever you are. You can complete the 3.2 miles however you would like – walk, run, dance… treadmill, elliptical… doesn’t matter – you are moving and making a good positive decision for yourself.

If you are interested – let me know in the comments.
Have an awesome day all! How was your Thanksgiving?

It is…. Ready Player Two Release Day!

It has been a LLLLLLOOOOOONNNNGGGGG time since I have been this excited about a release date.

When the Harry Potter books were being released, I would be at the store at midnight (usually hours earlier to get in line) to be one of the first to get my hands on the book. Often, arriving home and cracking the spine immediately around 12:30 am and reading as long as I could keep my eyes open. I have incredible memories of three copies of the Rowling books all being read at once as myself, Brad, and Justin were all reading at the same time. The last book release involving post it notes in Justin’s copy on the pages after something incredible happened of my saying things like “WHOA! Can you believe that just happened?” just so I knew when it was safe to start gushing about something in the book with him.

True Story.

I have gushed many times here about Ready Player One. The pop culture references, Will Wheaton narrating (to this day he is the only Narrator I have stalked and listed to everything he has read AND maybe I should not say that out loud ;P )

I have listened to ready Player one more times then I care to admit. Every time wondering if I can do it again, and every time as I hear that opening dialogue knowing, yeah… I can do this again.

The Ready Player Two release was not quite like my Harry Potter days. I did pre-order the audio (obvi.). I did not however stay up to watch it land in my Audible feed like a gum ball being dropped down the shoot… in hindsight, I question why I did not… Instead, I went to bed at a respectable 11 pm, and woke up feeling a bit like Snow White (pre-apple) surrounded by cartoon birds and rabbits (actually my two dogs) as I remembered that today… IS THE DAY.

While I haven’t listened to much yet… I am already all in. While readying for my day and making my coffee I listened to the opening and have already laughed out loud at the sheer brilliance of a password 8675309 and a voice-code, “Everybody Wants To Save The World.”

Absolutely giddy.

Now, I work from home some days. Our office tends to social distance and we try to “pod up” meaning only certain people get together for work so if a team gets COVID, we go as a small group and not wipe out the entire team. It is a weird, and at times ,a scary world we live in. A good mind break – whatever that is for you (a walk, Face timing or talking on the phone with a friend, a good tv series, or even a great read/audio) is definitely in order.

If… you did not listen to my annoying request years ago for EVERYONE to experience Ready Player One, I encourage you to do so now. I feel you need the first experience in order to thoroughly enjoy this second one. This book will appeal to gamers, pop culture enthusiasts, 80s reference junkies (you know who you are – don’t be shy! one-of-us! one-of-us!), sci-fi lovers, Will Wheaton fans, and more.

Are you Ready Player Two?

My Original Review of ready Player One

2nd Time I Reviewed Ready Player One

3rd Time I reviewed Ready Player One

Has there ever been a book that you had on the calendar for the release date? Have you ever done anything as memory-making as waiting in line at midnight for a release, or gone to a release party? I would love to hear about it

Daughters Of The Lake by Wendy Webb

A beautiful story from the past and the present. ~Sheila

When Kate Granger returned to her childhood home on Lake Superior, she did not expect to find a woman’s body enwrapped with her newborn in the shallows of lake Superior. While no one knew her identity, Kate felt she had seen this woman before – in her dreams.

A long time ago, many many years before Kate was event born, a young romance ends in tragedy…

Now, the lake has chosen to bring the past into the present and allow justice to be served. What this has to do with Kate, remains to be seen.

I read this book a couple of years ago with my book club. I thought I had written this review, however while reviewing Wendy Webb’s latest book I found that I had not. I am definitely distanced from the book now so I can not share a lot of details – I can share that I enjoyed it and it made for a wonderful discussion with our book club.

The Girls Weekend by Jodi Gehrman

Perfectly creepy in a Hitchcock sort of way, The Girls Weekend was a delightful “who done it’ that kept me guessing to the end.” ~Sheila

June Moody has long since moved on from the high school competitiveness she had with her frenemy, Sadie MacTavish. It’s been over a decade since her school days when an invitation to a weekend long baby shower for a mutual friend comes in the mail, hosted by non other than Sadie herself, now a successful Author. June is more than happy to say, “Hard -pass.”

No one needs that kind of drama.

However, for June, the days leading up to the shower result in an unforeseen breakup with her boyfriend. The desire to get away for a few days and see some of her old friends causes June to change her mind. As the guests arrive at the gorgeous home and the drinks are poured, old rivalries rise to the surface. The guests awaken the next morning to the house in shambles, a blood stain on the staircase and Sadie is gone. What’s more, no one seems to recall fully what happened the night before, each girl with vague recollections of a disagreement but nothing more. As the weekend wears on, and Sadie does not return, the police start a search for what is not a missing person. As each girl is questioned it is revealed that everyone attending the party had a reason to want Sadie out of the picture.

spooky good. Not over the top and while at times you need to suspend belief, an overall good read that kept me guessing. Reading this right before I left for a girls weekend? Even better. LOL – keep your friends close…

Always the Last To Know by Kristen Higgins

Ha! Every family I think has one, that person that feels like everyone knew before they did! Such a good read! ~Sheila

Juliet and Sadie are as different as sisters can be. Juliet, with the successful career as an architect, charming Brit husband and two magnificent daughters; and Sadie who is single and teaches by day yet dreams of becoming an artist.
When their father John has a stroke that leaves him with little speak and gaps in his memory, the girls coming rushing home to help their mom. As the family gathers the cracks begin to show, their parents marriage is not as all as it seemed… Juliet spends more time in the closet having a panic attack then she would ever wish anyone to know, and Sadie finds herself back in her home town where the love of her life still resides and she is the reason they are not together.

Set around a familiar setting of adult children returning home to care for an ailing parent or home left in their name, there is still something to say for a comfortable narrative. Higgins, takes this comfortable setting that feels like a good cup of soup and spices it up with some interesting twists such as impending divorce that goes awry.

Higgins lets the story unfold from the perspectives of the different characters as times hilarious, and at times sad, I truly had my favorite I was rooting for (hint hint – always a fan of the underdog!) I absolutely loved Barb and her conversations with her friend about what she knew about John.

Overall, worth the read. I love a good solid story even with a familiar foundation.

GREENLIGHTS by Matthew McConaughey

I love memoirs on audio that are narrated by the author and I love to learn more about the famous people I have enjoyed. ~Sheila

This is the audiobook listen that almost wasn’t. While browsing through Audible for my next listen I came across this gem and was so exited to know that Matthew McConaughey had written a memoir. What did I know about Matthew? Now a whole lot. I knew I enjoyed many on his movies. I knew he was (or came off as) arrogant. I knew I had some vague recollection of an encounter with police that involved nakedness….and bongos.
So yeah.. not much.

I listened to the sample of the audio and that is what almost made this a no…. Yes people, that small snippet of an audio, or that blurb about a book on a dust cover is important. What I heard was Matthew fast talking like a rap-poem and not all all what I hoped to listen to. A quick browse through other audio options brought me back to Greenlights and I decided to give it a try. After all, one of the beauties to Audible is that if you do not like the audio – you can return it – no questions asked.

Turned out, I really enjoyed it. In fact I enjoyed it so much I finished it – and promptly listed to it again.

Sheila, why would you do that?

When listening to audio I am usually multi -tasking; cooking, cleaning, painting, crafting … something. So while I am listening, it is not like a book where I can pause, and reread a line to let it sink in more. In Greenlights, Matthew had some pretty interesting thoughts on life, and quotes I wanted to remember. It was worth the listen. BOTH times. (Yes, he talks about the bongos incident)
What I heard was someone that grew up around the craziness of being accepted as an actor with little to no experience but a drive – an inner need, that is impressive. Coming out the other side I found a whole new side to this actor I knew little about – coming out more mature, a firm believer in himself and God and finding joy – even in the mistakes along the way. All in all, a healthy and beautiful way to view life.

Highly recommended for fans of his movies…. don’t let that audio sample fool you. 😉

ZOOM Discussion: The Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

Hey all, my book group, Books Burgers and Brews will be discussing this book, Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda, on Monday, November 16th at 6 pm Central time VIA ZOOM. Books Burgers and Brews is an open invite book group that used to meet at Prairie Bay in my home town, prior to COVID. Now we continue through ZOOM.

If anyone wished to join us in the conversation or even tune in just to listen, you are welcome to do so. Here is the free registration link:


You can see more details on the Books, Burgers, and Brews Facebook page.

The Haunting of Brynn Wilder by Wendy Webb

Perfectly woven by Webb. ~Sheila

After a painful loss, Brynn Wilder decides to take a little time for herself in a quaint little town on Lake Superior. She finds a room at a Boardinghouse and finds herself among some long term guests who quickly ease into her life. Among these guests would be Alice, the sweet elderly woman with Alzheimer’s, who is being cared for by her ex-husband and his partner, and Dominic, a young handsome mysterious man who catches Brynn’s eye.

Brynn soon learns that one of the rooms is locked and unavailable to guests because an unknown woman had broke into the boardinghouse when it was closed over the winter and apparently stayed unbeknown to anyone, and died there as well. The details remained under investigation.

Haunted with this knowledge, and enwrapped in a new world with new friends, Brynn begins having bizarre dreams. In her dreams, she goes into the locked room, often speaking with Alice within these dreams and slowly learning of things, she could not possibly know.

“People get so caught up in themselves and their dramas, or they get ensnared in their own sorrows and tragedies, they forget to appreciate the beauty around them.” 

Full disclosure, I love Wendy Webb. Her books usually contain a bit of gothic/supernatural aspects to them that I enjoy. The Haunting of Brynn Wilder is no different. There is so much entwined within this book that I do not wish to give too much away as that is part of the beauty – discovering these things for yourself.
What I can say, is I could easily envision this quaint town among the lake, towns people all up and curious about any newcomer, and the delight in discovering someone who reaches into your soul – even if they scare you a bit at the same time. I have to say the ending left me in tears… good ones.
If you enjoyed Wendy’s previous book, Daughter’s of The Lake, you will see this book is set in the same fictional town and has character or two you will recognize, like revisiting an old friend.

Final thoughts: A three tissue read (maybe four)
A perfect read for anyone who lives to dive into the “what if’s”

A Woman Alone by Nina Laurin (A Bookies Book Club read)

“many of us dream or joke about a self cleaning home, dinner ready by the time we walk in the door after a long day at work – so often we learn – the grass is not as green on the other side….” _Sheila

When Cecelia has an extremely traumatic experience, she no longer feels safe in her home. She, her husband, and young daughter move to a wonderful neighborhood where smart homes are offered. These homes are deemed to not only make you feel secure, they provide above and beyond comforts – such as knowing what temperature you like your water for bathing, when you want the lights on and off, notifying you when someone is approaching you home as well as who they are and if you wish to answer, as of course – how you take your coffee.

At first all seems well in this dream home. And then, things change. The homes AI (artificial intelligence) Saya, starts to play music that she claims Cecelia requested. The bath water is scalding hot and the coffee waiting for Cecelia in the morning is not at all the way she takes it. Cecelia felt at first that this was a malfunction in the home, until Saya starts calling Cecelia , “Lydia”, even though they are supposed to be the first people in this home. As things continue to malfunction in all areas of Cecelia’s life, she finds she has no one to turn to. Her husband is becoming more distant, and she has no real friends since the move. Cecelia learns that is she wants to survive she is on her own to do so.

I read this with my book club and was fascinated with the “smart” home. I would love dinner to be ready when I came home! In fact, I enjoyed most of the story line. At times it felt stretched and as my book club pointed out, there were lose ends that went no where and a few underdeveloped characters that we felt could have added to the story – but its hard to care about people you don’t really know.

I always enjoy a book that is unique in its telling and I have to give Nina Laurin credit for that. I listened to this one on audio while painting and enjoyed the story line and found the ending to be a surprise – which I loved.

Give it a go if you are looking for something different and a good thought provoker. I would love to hear what you think if you do.