The Retreat by Mark Edwards


Sometimes you need just a good solid mystery to wrap your mind around….



Julia’s world fell apart when two years previously she lost bother her husband and daughter Lily in the same day.  Her daughters body never surfaced and Julia, trying to move on but not sure how, remains in the same home which she has now opened up as an Author’s Retreat Center.

Lucas, an author who writes Horror, has come to the retreat escaping his own demons.  When he hears about Lily’s disappearance, he becomes obsessed with finding out what really happened.

Surrounded by a town that believes deeply in old superstitions, quirky characters and deep secrets – what is about to come to the surface is not at all what anyone expects.


I dove into the retreat looking for a good mystery to release my mind from the non fiction I had been reading of late.  A book about an Authors Retreat and a solid disappearance was just the ticket.  I enjoyed the mix of Author attendees at the retreat and the mystery of Lily had just the right amount of spooky flavor to not be over the top.  I thoroughly enjoyed this read – surprised in the end.


This was my first time reading author Mark Edwards, and it will not be my last.


5Sheila DeChantal writes book reviews at Book Journey as well as writes on other subjects including Life, Grief, Food and more at I Guess I Am Doing This.

Theft By Finding: Diaries 1977 – 2002 by David Sedaris


A long time ago I discovered David Sedaris.  I have enjoyed him on audio while working on things and laughing out loud.  It is a good combination and it was fun to return to him and catch up.



I can not recall when I first found Sedaris.  I am sure it is in my archives here but I am being lazy drinking coffee and putting off what I should be doing so… meh.

I pulled this book out a list of audio I recently downloaded so I could listen while I painted the kitchen.  Sedaris proved to be as funny as ever and while painting I enjoyed some real laugh out loud moments.  Theft By Finding is snippets that he has taken from his diaries, of funny thoughts, happenings, and a solid reflection of the way he looks at the world.

Sedaris fans may find this book at times to not be as solidly funny as his other books, sometimes you only get a sample of where he is going, and at other times the story may be more about family and life events.  Still – I enjoyed it.



5Sheila DeChantal also writes at I Guess I am Doing This where she talks on other things besides books such as Life Happenings, Food, Adventures and Grief.


Artemis by Andy Weir


The Martian was my first dabble into the mind of Andy Weir and I loved my stay.  Artemis is one of those titles that sat in my mind way too long before I finally pulled it to the top of my list.  
What took me so long?



Jazz Bashara lives on the only inhabited are of the moon, Artemis.  She is snarky and resourceful, doing small smuggling jobs to keep her in barely enough coin to cover a place to stay and a little food to eat.  You do what you need to do to get by.

When a chance to do a large job with a big payout falls into her lap – Jazz can not resist the possibility of having a big pay day.  With a little help from her friends she dives in with a few miscalculated bumbles and an error that reveals a much larger plot that appears to threaten all who live on Artemis.


In a word… Jazz is a hot mess.  She is mouthy, quick witted, always in trouble and I adored her.  I listened to Artemis on audio and hearing those first few snarly words brought me right back to The Martian.

I was giddy with happiness.

Absolutely treat yourself to a a ticket to Artemis. If you enjoy Andy Weir’s style – this book will not disappoint.


5Check out my writing on other topics such as Food, Adventures, Life and Grief at I Guess I Am Doing This.

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis


This is my first dabble into Rachel Hollis… and it will not be my last.



As I try to think how this came on my radar – I get little snippets of memory.  In the office – I am sure it was mentioned,  then at a lunch with friends… I started to see the book show up on “Must Read” lists, blogs, and in stores… and then…

it was in my home.


And now for my confession.  I tend to look (or I guess looked… past tense now) at books like this as Self Help, a Genre I never had much time for.  If I am totally honest – I had an opinion on these books to be full of things we should already know….

  • Get up – Its a new day!
  • You are the controller of your actions and reactions
  • One Step at a time
  • RAH! RAH!
    • etc… etc…

AND…. honestly (again with the honesty) when I started reading this book – I had a friend in mind who I wanted to pass it to and told myself I would see if it was a good fit for her.  I started reading it with that mindset of “Oh yes, this will be good for her to read.  Oh – that’s perfect for her

AND… for all of that – I am sorry.

BECAUSE – As I read Girl, Wash Your Face it started to resonate with me.  It went from being a book for my friend…. to a book that slapped me in the face.  There are things in each of our lives I feel we believe or hold back because of – something in your childhood, the way you were brought up, something that happened – or did not happen…etc etc… your own self perspective that makes you who you are today and why you do some things and why you don’t do others.

I really hope you are following…

I could go on and on here.. and in fact I may pull out the SPOILER Button here so as I process through this those who choose to can follow and share as well…

Bottom Line – we all got STUFF.  It makes us who we are – for better or for worse and I find the message that Rachel sends out to the world is the same one I try to live by –

Live life to the fullest.  No matter what your stuff is, you can take it and make it into a part of building you up and into a positive.  I know – (believe me I know) that does not always come easy.  If fact you are probably thinking of some of your stuff – harsh losses, broken relationships , deaths, finance issues, sickness….  and wondering how how how do you possibly turn that around to something.

Let me end with this – I found Girl Wash Your Face to be just the voice people want to listen to and know is out there.  Rachel Hollis is real and raw and lives much the way I choose to live my own life.  She wears her heart on her sleeve and shares her hardest and darkest moments coming from the “one of us” Team which speaks volumes in today’s society.  It’s nice to know there is someone out there that has been through it and come out the other side – not perfect – not having it all together – but broken like so many of us and still doing it.
THAT I can relate too.

If you haven’t given Rachel Hollis a try – I recommend you do.

Rachel Hollis website

Rachel Hollis Podcast:  RISE Together

And. yeah…. if you want to go there.. I think I have more to say.  ;P

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann


Most likely, not a book I would have chosen on my own.  This Book is a Books Burgers and Brews pick for our community Book Club read.  Pleasantly surprised, I enjoyed the book and learned a bit along the journey about the Osage. The Murders and the FBI.


In the 1920’s, the Osage Indians were the richest people per capita in the world.  Land was given to them was later discovered to be hiding a wealth of oil – oil that now belonged to the land owners.
Or at least… one would think.

One by one the Osage started to die.  Mysterious ways looking anywhere from drowning, food or alcohol poisoning, and downright murder.  Anyone who looked to closely at what may be happening to the Osage either disappeared or was found dead themselves.  As the death tole climbed, the newly organized FBI took on the case.  What followed was cover ups and corruption and eventually – a truth that becomes known as one of the biggest conspiracies in history.


Continuing my reign of terror on my house – I listened to this book on audio so I could paint, scrub, sand and clean up while enjoying this book.  A series of narrators:   Will Patton (Narrator), Ann Marie Lee (Narrator), Danny Campbell (Narrator) make up this read flawlessly.  I never rally noticed the voice change as the story unfolded.

David Grann captures details of American History that I think is safe to say – little known. The book held my attention as the details came to light of  sinister undertaking of greed and privilege.  I am astounded that I did not know about this.

History buffs, non fiction readers will take to this book.  I look forward to our discussion in our group.



Becoming by Michelle Obama


Honestly, Becoming was not really on my radar of “Must Reads” until I saw the number of people on the “First Book Of The Year” post that planned to read this as their first book of the year.  Seven of the ninety-nine participants had this book in their photo – far more than any other book chosen.  So.. who am I to argue with the logic of the worlds book lovers?  ;P


Michelle Robinson grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a home that was shared with her Aunt’s family as well as her own.  She and her brother Craig were raised in a loving home with parents that did not dictate their comings and goings or saddle them with curfews – they believed that you installed good habits and good examples in your home and your children will make their own decisions based on their upbringing.

It worked.  Craig, who loves sports and could open up a conversation in any room, was accepted into Princeton.  As his little sister, Michelle, followed suit taking an interest in Law and also made her way to Princeton.  Later, while working in a position at Sidley Austin in Chicago, she would meet a young attractive colleague named Barack Obama.  And the story of a journey to the White House would begin….

I listened to this book on audio while working on house projects.  The book is narrated by Michelle herself and I would highly recommend anytime you choose to read a Memoir/Biography go with audio if they are narrated (and they often are) by the author.  There is just something about the authors voice being put to their life story that takes it to the next level.

I was not disappointed with Becoming.  Michelle’s modest upbringing, her friendships, relationships, and even her struggles to fit in sometimes with an all too white-washed society was all very real.  I admit to cheering at some of the stories such as while in College a mother had her daughter removed due to Michelle’s color and I think “some day that lady can recall that she had her daughter moved away from a young girl that would someday become the First Lady.”

I found the book moving, and I enjoyed hearing of Michelle’s life as a child, to her schooling, to meeting Barack; her struggles with politics, Barack’s drive and the family struggles as it led to the decision to run for President.  To both of them I found a renewed appreciation for what they took on – come what may.

Overall – quite an enjoyable journey – one I recommend that you take as well if you have not already.  This is a delightful look into Michelle’s drive and the First Family.

Also recommended:  First Women by Kate Andersen Brower and The Residence by Kate Anderson Brower

Elevation by Stephen King


Chosen as our January book club read…  small in size but it is King.. and our adventure began…


Scott Carey has always been a big man but something is changing.  He doesn’t know why, but he is losing weight.  Not in the usual… clothes are getting lose, change in appetite and diet or even illness… Scott was losing weight according to the scale but his outer appearance looked the same.  He can be fully dressed with rolls of quarters in his pockets or stripped down to just his boxers and the scale would read the same.

As the scale seemed to dip a couple of pounds a day no matter what he ate he knew that whatever was going on, he knew he did not want to be poked and prodded.  He trusts a handful of people with his secret, and chooses whatever this is, he is going to make the most of it and he wonders what happens when he reaches 0.

Confession:  I like to sink into a book.  I like to spend time with the characters, getting to know them and developing the scene.  While Elevation, in its short stature (146 pages) does a good job on putting together a cast you want to know more about – you do end up feeling a little short changed (pun intended) as the story moves along as rapidly as Scott’s weight loss.

In the end, it is a good read – but not a great read.  King Fans, by all mean read it, yet go in looking at it as a delicious small dessert – sweet and then gone all too quickly.



Sheila DeChantal

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