Category Archives: Book Review

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

Who wouldn’t want to enter a group of people who are all about strengthening their marriage… it sounds so innocent so amazing…  trust me – it’s not.   ~Sheila

In The Marriage Pact, Alice and Jack are newly married and receive an unusual gift from a client of Alice’s.  The gift is a beautiful wooden box that inside it carries a book called The Marriage Pact along with two pens, to sign the agreement.  The Marriage Pact, by all indications, is a group of married people who support and encourage one another.  There are good things to be reminded of such as…

Always answer the phone when your spouse calls.

Exchange a thoughtful gift monthly

Plan a trip quarterly

Never talk about The Pact to anyone

Alice and Jack want to give their marriage the best shot they can and feel The Pact would be a fun social and practical way to keep on the right track.    They sign the pact.

What Alice and Jack do not know, is that the pact, like marriage, is for life.  The Pact will go to great lengths to enforce the rules within…  once again reminding all of us – never sign something you have not thoroughly read…

*Whew*.  The Pact for me was a refreshing romp through something new and different.  I love books that go outside of the norm so such an unusual premise pulled me in from the beginning.   This was one of those books that I did not want to put down and read every chance I could.  As soon as I finished it I passed it to a friend, and then to my Aunt so she could read it as well.  And isn’t that the truth about great reads?  You want to share them with the world.

Highly recommended.  This one was read by our Book Club the Bookies (who also enjoyed it and the discussion) and I am hopeful that once it hits paperback we will have it as a Book In The Bag at the library as well so it can be used for a Books Burgers and Brews discussion.

My thoughts:  Read it.

Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris (Bookies Book Club Review) Audiobook review

A Bookies Book Club read and one I was glad I had an opportunity to explore….creepy good. 


Jack and Grace are the couple to envy.  Jack is handsome and attentive, has money, a good job, and charm… every girls dream in a guy…  he is contemplative to Graces beauty and shyness. 

But what happens behind closed doors?  Why is it that Grace never has her friends over that she used to hang out with all the time?  Why is that every time she is asked to go out to lunch she says yes, yet cancels hours before actually going?  And why is it the few places that you do see Grace, Jack is always there?  Always.   And Grace is looking thinner and thinner every time she is seen….

OOH yeah…  This was our Bookies Book Club pick for April.  The synopsis of this one made this book an easy win for our vote and we were not disappointment.  There is much that goes on in Behind Closed Doors and soooooo appropriately named.

Admittedly, I struggled a bit with Grace, it is no secret that I like to read about strong independent women and some of Graces choices (or lack there of)made me grit my teeth. The longer she stayed in the situation, the more power it seemed that Jack gained.  Of course on the flip of this – if Grace had been stronger…we would not have had this book.

Our book club had a good discussion over this book and the overall rating came in around a 3.75 out of 5.  For the most part the book was enjoyed.

Of course, we always need to get in to the book so here is our pictures from our review…

Recommended for book clubs because there is great discussion topics such as abuse, awareness, self-esteem….

Did you know that June is Audio book month?
I enjoyed this book on audio and loved the smooth narration by Georgia Maguire.



Safe From The Sea by Peter Geye (audio book review) Bookies Book Club Read

First up…. I love Peter Geye.  He is genuine and funny and writes a pretty great story as well…  I hope you will indulge me here as I tell you about this one, and I do hope you pick up one of his books sometime soon.

When Noah returns home to the North Shores of Minnesota to be with his dying father, he has much apprehension.  After all Olaf, has been fairly estranged from his son for many years and an absent father since the since the ship he was on sunk and Olaf was one of the few survivors while his shipmates lost their lives to the harshness that can be Lake Superior.  Noah now married and trying to have a child with his wife, struggles with the decision to go and be with his father while at the same time, how can he not?

What Noah learns about his father, and the shipwreck changes Noah’s whole misconception of his father.  The time they spend together as Olaf shares what really happened that cold stormy night all those years ago, the first time he had ever shared the whole story with anyone.  As Olaf’s story unfolds, Noah comes to realize that one does not fully survive such a tragedy, and there is much more to his father then he had ever known…

My book club The Bookies, chose this as our June read.  Author Peter Geye is one of our Wine and Words authors coming this fall, and he was one of our authors in 2015 as well.  I was excited we chose this book to read as I had yet to read it.  Due to a busy June, I chose to listen to it on audio and I was so glad I did. Narrator David Aaron Baker lent the right voice to this book, while gardening, I was easily immersed into the lull of his voice as he brought forth the story of Noah and Olaf…

The Bookies enjoyed Safe From The Sea.  It was interesting as going in, for some reason I had my head wrapped around that this was going to be a “guy” book… meaning more appealing to men as it centered around a male protagonist, boats,and fishing.  I can tell you, I was wrong.  This book weaves a story of family, and tragedy, and coming to terms with what was and what is and what will be.  Well played Peter, well played.

The discussion was centered around family and around the setting as we all are familiar with the North Shore setting, the beauty of it and the dangers of Lake Superior.

Over all the book rated a fairly solid 4 our of 5 from the Bookies as a whole.


Did you know that June is Audiobook Month?
Be sure and try this book on audio –

recommended by Book Journey.


The To-Hell-And-Back Club by Jill Hannah Anderson

Jill Anderson is a Friend of the Brainerd Public Library, on the Wine and Words committee, and a personal friend of mine…  I can not be more thrilled for her and her first book as well as having the chance now to share it with all of you.


Peyton Brooks has plans for her life now that her youngest has graduated.  She has left that her life has been put on hold for years and now – finally she feels that she can start her life by moving on from her marriage that has never even held a spark.

When tragedy strikes, taking away those that Peyton was closest to, she is left reeling.  How do you go on when your support team is no longer there?  How do you even breath when all you want to do is wish that you were gone as well?

The Hell and Back Club seems to hold the answers.  Connected to a group of women who have their own personal hell, Peyton starts to learn to deal with not only the present situation, but also the past in ways she never dreamed possible.  Yet just as she seems to think she is moving forward in small ways, she uncovers secrets about her friends that spirals her downward again….

This was my travel book when I went to the Book Expo this year.

How much can we really know anyone?  Even those closest to you can be holding on to the deepest and darkest of secrets…  and Peyton needs to come to terms with her own as well.

This is one of those books that I look at and think, why didn’t I think of that?  While this book hits on a hard topic for me, Jill Anderson did an amazing job of covering details and hitting on the emotions involved in such a story.  I was impressed by the details and the strong emotions that I felt as the story line unfolded.  Always a fan of books about friendships and strong women, I found The To Hell And Back Club to be a book that had this in spades.

As each character was flushed out I could see how they all fit into Peyton’s life and why.  Living in the area that Jill talks about in this book, I loved being able to visualize the places the group frequented and the roads they traveled.

I highly recommend this book to fans of strong women and  friendships.  I believe this would make for a great book club read as there is so much to discuss about friendships, and tragedies, and the moments that change us forever.  I am so excited to read the next book that Jill writes and see where that takes me!

Jill and I at a recent event




The Circle By Dave Eggers



Mae Holland can not believe her luck!  When she is hired on to be employed by The Circle, the largest Internet company she jumps in with both feet.  After all, what is not to love?  Great pay, live entertainment in the evenings, dorm rooms to stay in if you need to work late, groceries, stores, free medical, a gym on site… and a chance to work with some of the most brilliant minds in the world!

Everything is connected from your email to your banking to your social media.  Transparency is key…  and really why would we not want to be transparent?

Yet when Mae finds herself in the office with Supervisors asking her why she always clocks out right at 5 and doesn’t stick around to take part in the after hours activities and why she is not more transparent on her social feeds as to what she does in her down time…  Mae has to decide to show her new employers just how transparent she can be…or choose to look for work elsewhere….

What happens when the lines between right and wrong get fuzzy?

I have been wanting to read this book for a while.  The synopsis of a futuristic company taking over (much like Google or Amazon…) peeked my interest.  I do love a good futuristic novel.  What I found interesting is that I could see where The Circle life style could become appealing…  If you did not have a family of your own… single, young, energetic a place where work provides you with on site entertainment, a group of like minded peers, a dorm room with clothes in your size, food, etc…. I could see where that could be appealing.

I for the most part liked Mae, (at least the early on Mae) until the job changed her to the point of losing right from wrong… I understood her ambition…

Over all I liked the book.  I am looking forward to the movie coming out later this month as I want to see how it compares and honestly…. you put Tom Hanks with Emma Watson…  how can I not watch?

Here’s To Us by Elin Hilderbrand


Laurel Thorpe, a quiet natural beauty.  Belinda Rowe, a gorgeous well-known movie actress.  Scarlett Oliver an exotic eye-popping long-legged pretty girl.  All three women have two things in common.  1.  Their love of Deacon Thorpe.  2  Their loathing of one another.

All three are remarkable intelligent women who at one time were married to the famous chef, Deacon Thorpe.  They have made a career out of avoiding one another.  All of this comes to a screeching halt when Deacon is found dead and one of his final wishes is for all three women with his children come to the home on Nantucket to pay their final respects to this man.

Now all three women are trapped in the ransacked home on Nantucket that Deacon so dearly loved.  Left to face each other with all the secrets they each hold.

Over one long weekend in Nantucket the drama will reach a wave crashing level, there will be anger, and shouting, and tears… but in the end their will also be laughter and memories shared of the man who stole each of their hearts and how he did it.



June 2016 – Chicago Book expo – Elin Hilderbrand was signing this book and with every book you get a Corona… Hilderbrand tradition 🙂

It is no secret that I adore Elin Hilderbrand’s books.  Her writing of strong female friendships and Nantucket always feel like a familiar path that I am happy to travel.  After a busy summer of not as much reading as I had hoped, this book was toxic for me.  I did not want to stop listening (audio).  I LOVED the narration of Erin Bennett (who read many of Hilderbrand’s novels).  Erin maneuvers around that many voices of the Nantucket cottage with ease, I could easily flow from one person to the next and know exactly who was talking.

I would not be doing this review justice if I did not talk about the food.  Foodies alert!  The food mentioned in the book (along with a few recipes too!) is mouth-watering.  Each time they mentioned a specialty of Deacon’s restaurant I wanted to make it.  I already plan to nominate this book for our book club choice so we can talk about the crazy characters and make the delicious food.

Over all… this book was a fun summerish win for me.  I really enjoyed the story line, the back and forth as you learn of each woman’s relationship with the man we only get to know after he is gone… and in the end.. in the end…  hearing what happened that last day….

powerful way to close the story that’s all I can say about that.  Don’t miss this treat of a read.



  • Audio CD
  • Listening Length: 12 hours and 30 minutes
  • Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; Unabridged edition (June 14, 2016)
  • Language: English






The Mind-Gut Connection by Emeran Mayer, MD


Most of us have experienced a feeling of queasiness before walking in to a large meeting or to speak in front of a group.  Or we have had that “gut feeling” when we know something is not right.

What is that?

How does our mind connect to our gut ?  Why is the gut sometimes called “the second brain?


I love this kind of stuff.  I find it fascinating and I am honestly surprised that I have not thought about this before, why does my gut hurt when I have to do something that makes me nervous?

I can not even express how much I enjoyed this.  I learned so much about serotonin (where your gut stores the most) and had no idea that your gut actually has control of your over all well-being.

I enjoyed reading about the connections between what we eat and how our diet affects everything for brain functionality to over all gut feelings.  Literally. I know about diet and healthy habits obviously, but the connection of the mind and gut to the diet was something I liked reading more about.

Over all a thoroughly enjoyable book.  It has been a busy season here for me and I honestly have not had a lot of time to sit down and read. The book did not read over my head.  It is well written and easy to understand.   I was glad to find out this book was interesting, informative and held my attention.



  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Wave (July 5, 2016)
  • Language: English


Thank you to TLC Book Tours for connecting my mind to my gut. 


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)



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)



The EX by Alafair Burke

the ex, alafair burke, book journey

Jack Harris has avoided even thinking about dating ever since his wife Molly was shot and killed by a teenage boy three years ago.  Yet, one early morning while jogging he comes across a bare foot beautiful woman wearing a party dress sitting in the grass drinking champagne right out of the bottle and reading a book.  She holds the bottle up in a cheers motion, as he jogs by.  Unable to get the image out of his head, Jack shares this experience with his best friend who posts about it on-line hoping someone would be able to know who this woman is and connect her to Jack.  Days later, the mysterious woman responds to the on-line post, and a meet up with Jack is planned.

Olivia Randall is a Defense Lawyer.  When she hears that her former fiance Jack Harris has been arrested for  triple murder she knows there is no way that Jack could be guilty of such a crime.  Clearly Jack has been set up.  But by who?  And why?

Olivia chooses to represent Jack to make up for the way things had ended between them so many years ago.   Yet as the evidence comes out, there is more and more that looks like Jack may have committed this crime.  Is Olivia able to defend Jack if she is starting to have her doubts?  And if he did do it, did she ever really know him at all?



The EX was full of surprises for me.  I liked the synopsis and the set up of the mystery woman in a party dress in the early morning hours.  The book held my interest as it reveals the history between him and Olivia and what had happened three years before when his wife was killed.  For myself, I honestly did not have a clue how it was going to end or who was the murderer. The story line was fast paced and for me, time well spent.

I recommend The EX.  It was a good book to sink into.  An excellent legal thriller.



  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)