The Other Wes Moore – Invite To ZOOM Discussion

Good morning! I hope you all had an AMAZING weekend – I mostly worked but had a chance to hang out with friends in a Fish House for a pretty cool experience and Saturday we had dinner with friends we have not had a chance to hang out with for quite a while. I also spent some time reading The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore for tonight’s Books, Burgers and Brews Discussion – 6 pm Central time.

The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his.

Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, The Other Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.

This has been an enlightening read that I will be reviewing in the next few days. In the meantime, feel free to join us for this discussion. You can register here.

Laurel Hall from our local library and myself Co-Host this monthly books discussion, now on it’s 4th year. We used to meet in a local restaurant with anyone that wanted to join in the discussion we averaged around 40 people per discussion, at time have counts as high as 80. We hope to get back to the restaurant at some point, for now we are making it work by ZOOM. The cool thing about OZOM is, we can offer the discussion beyond our community. We would love to have you!

Happy Monday!


2021 – Books to Movies – What Are You Excited About

My friend Angie shared this link with our book club recently. Books To Films coming in 2021. I love stuff like this! I like to go through and make lists as to what I want to definitely see!

Here is my list and thoughts:

I am so beyond excited about this! I have loved this book and series since I first read it and felt out of all the Patrick Ness books I have read this is the one I wanted to see become a movie. Can’t wait to see how they do the NOISE!
My review: The Knife Of Never Letting Go

The Nightingale!!! This will be fantastic and what a cast!
I read this with Books Burgers and Brews and see I did not write a review. (what????)

I am excited about this book AND the movie. I have not read this yet but plan to.

We read this for Books Burgers and Brews and was surprised how much I enjoyed this read. Excited about the movie as well.
My book review.

I loved The Martian by this author and I really enjoyed Artemis as well. So glad to see this become a movie!
My review of Artemis

Loved this book so much and enjoyed the play! I absolutely want to see the movie version.
I looked for a review, instead I found this strange interview with myself from 2010. So… that was interesting.
Interview with a Witch

This is my favorite book by Francine Rivers – I think I read this even before I was reviewing. This may be worth a re read in anticipation of the movie.

This was an interesting listen on audio. I enjoy Liane Morarty’s books and curious what this one will be like as a movie. I’m in!
My review: Nice Perfect Strangers

That’s what I have for starters. There a re a few more on the list I would like to read. What books are you excited to see as movies?

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig (Bookies Book Club Read)

What if you had a chance to go back and take the road not taken… what if there was a place that contained every story of you that was not written…
but it can be.

Nora Seed is not a happy person. Her choices have included a dead end job, a a long term going nowhere relationship, and her friendships have gone to the wayside. Nora feels she has let everyone around her down including herself.
Then she finds herself in the Midnight Library. The library holds every moment of her life, endless shelves of books of her story she left unwritten. The no, that could have been a yes, the left turn as opposed to a right.. the guy who under the right circumstances could have been “THE GUY” if only she had made that choice….
Now Nora is given the opportunity to visit the roads not taken. Each book holds a different version of herself and Nora has been given the rare opportunity to choose different life – knowing that once she moves to a different book – there is no going back.

This book was selected as our January read for my book club. It is also the book I chose as my first book of the year, not because it was was the book club book, but because it genuinely had me at the title and the synopsis.

You may recall my love for the book Summerhouse by Jude Deveroux. I reviewed in here in 2008, and again in 2020. In fact, Summerhouse was my first book of 2020. What I love about that book is this story of four friends who have a chance to go back to take the road not traveled. I absolutely loved this story of second chances and the opportunity for a different life outcome. It is also one of my favorite all time book discussions because I feel it was one of the first times our book club really went deep into a personal level and shared some deep what ifs.

I was really really really hoping this book was going to be like that.
And honestly – perhaps here in lies the rub.

Nora never really reached a point where I was rooting for her. The stories within the story are short and some extremely so where you don’t really get a feel for what she is experiencing because in a flash she has moved on. Other stories have a few more pages to them and I was uncertain why and then story I hope she chooses… well…

I am writing this portion of my review about 15 minutes before my book club will meet VIA ZOOM. I am doing so intentionally as I want to put my feelings down before they chime in. For myself – I would rate this an average read, it never became the page turner I hoped it would be, but it also wasn’t like I didn’t want to finish.

Bookies Book Club Thoughts on The Midnight Library:

The Bookies met tonight to discuss The Midnight Library. We had a good discussion around the “road not traveled” theme as well as choices we would make. A few of the girls shared points in their life that a decision was made that led them to where they are now (job, partner, Minnesota…) as well as a time when a choice was given but not taken that could have changed everything.
The resounding message was that our root lives (what the book calls our current life), is exactly where we should be. Overall Bookie rating: 3 out of 5. Average read.

Over all take away – A good message. Could have gone deeper. Love the term root life

The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher

Twisty, turny, spiderwebs – EVERYWHERE.

Juno had thought she knew the Crouch family. Nigel, Winnie and their teenage son Samuel seemed like they had an ideal life. Juno had observed them many times taking walks together, laughing, and appearing to enjoy each others company before she made the decision to move in with them.

Things change however when you are all under one roof. You hear and see more truth… often more than you want to know… and other things you can not un-hear. Juno knows this now, but she can not say a thing…
because the Crouch’s do not know she is living in their home.

Sounds good right? Honestly I am giving you a little more information then the synopsis of the book does and I think that is a good thing. In fact, a piece of information I just gave you would have quite possibly made me enjoy the first part of this book more – because honestly when it all began… I was pretty confused about what has happening

(like in the Movie The Sixth Sense sort of way)

In the beginning I was not certain how I felt about this book. I found it confusing and off in so many directions I considered a couple of times just stopping – yet I kind of wanted to know where this was going.

It is in many ways worth the wait. Good things -or odd things depending on your point of view start to untangle from this phycological thriller web. And just like that… I can’t put it down.

The book still leaves me a little up in the air. It was good, yes. It felt like it all came together FAST as it neared the end and I am torn between wanting that to be more spread out evenly through out the book and wondering if that rush of pieces falling into place and feeling like you are falling off a cliff towards the rocky waters is just what it should have been.

In other words… is it just me?

I listened to on audio

I have not read Tarryn Fisher before however I did recognize her name for her book The Wives, a book I have not read but still want to – even more so now as I would love to compare my experience between the two books.

If you have read this book or Author I would love to hear your thoughts!

Morning Meanderings… Books In The Mail

I love Sundays. They are usually low-to-no-commitment days. Mainly meaning that if a dawdle a little longer with my coffee that is ok. Hanging out in the house making a small plan for my day – dropping off a check up town, considering snowshoeing later this morning, afternoon planning something tasty for dinner and diving into the Book Club book for this coming Tuesdays discussion.

This week two books arrived in my home that I am pretty excited about.

A Gentleman’s Murder by Christopher Huang: This looks to be a 1924 mystery involving a prestigious club and a dead man found in a vault with a letter opener to the neck… Lieutenant Eric Peterkin is the right man for the case.
Why am I intrigued? My friend Ryan chose this book as his First Book of the year. I have through the years picked many books that were first brought to my attention by Ryan. The fact that this was the first book of the year only adds to my desire to give it a try.

The Next Wife by Kaira Rouda: As stated on the back of the book, there are no limits to the lies, suspicion, and secrets that can poison the perfect marriage… The book is centered around Kate Nelson who is happily married to John and they have a wonderful daughter Ashlyn. They seem like the perfect family until John leaves Kate for a younger woman, Tish.
Tish is youthful, ambitious and goes after what she wants and almost always gets what she wants. Now she has John. But does she? Kate didn’t just go away as Trish had thought she would. Now Tish has suspicions of John’s infidelity and it centered around his ex-wife.
Neither woman sees what is about to come next.
Why am I intrigued? Author Kaira Rouda has blown me away more than once. In fact, her book Best Day Ever was my choice as First Book in 2018 and I was thrilled with my selection.

There you have it. I am listening to The Wrong Family by Tarryn Fisher on Audio. Jury is still out on this one…

Enjoy your Sunday!

Why Fish Don’t Exist by Lulu Miller

You ever choose a book and later wonder what drew you to the book mainly because what you thought you were about to read is NOTHING like what you read?

Or is that just me?

Author Lulu Miller is a NPR Reporter who while dealing with her own struggles, becomes fascinated with David Starr Jordan, who among other things was Stanford University’s first president and along with his students, identified over 2500 fish species.
If that doesn’t capture your attention… he may have also been a murderer.

Yes, there is something for everyone here.

If you know what I usually read, you may wonder what drew me to this book. I believe initially I was fascinated with this person and thought it was going to be more about life lessons and I would come out with some small take-a-way. And honestly, maybe I did. The book is a little less than 4 hours on audio and by listening to it I may not have experienced it as fully as I could have while bustling around my home or in the car – but I did have one small aha moment.

There is a point in the book where Lulu Miller discusses that back in the day, people were encouraged to live in full reality. They were told it was not healthy to believe beyond your limitations or in other words dilute yourself. As time went on, it was found that the people who did live by this were far less happier people, often depressed. Where those who lived a little on the edge of fantasy, perhaps believed a little more in themselves then they should, over inflated their abilities, strengths, etc… were overall happier and healthier people. This was a game changer.

I really liked that part of the book because that is something I firmly believe in. If you constantly feel that this is the box you live in – with 4 walls and a floor and a ceiling and there is no room to move, grow, imagine, dream… well…. that is not for me.

Admittedly, that is probably not the best take away for this book. I know for a fact someone could read or listen to this book and take away far more fascinating things about David’s life, discoveries and intrigue that surrounded his days. I honestly am not sure how I feel about it as to properly do this, I feel I would need to listen to it or read it again and I do not feel I am that invested.

See reviews on Good Reads, there are a lot of people that loved this book and had huge responses to it. My timing simply was off.

Gunflint Burning by Cary Griffith

An intimate look at the details and the devastation behind the 2007 wild fire in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota that became one of the most destructive fires in Minnesota history. Passionate, compelling, and a book that is truly hard to put down.


Gunflint Burning is the account of the events of the Ham Lake Fire in May of 2007. What started out as a camp fire made by a well seasoned explorer of the Boundary Waters, turned out to become a fire that would burn for nearly two weeks, engulfing 75,000 acres of forest and 144 buildings.

This book by Author Cary Griffith takes you through the events of not only the devastation of the fire, but the people of the Boundary Waters, the Firemen and authorities who fought the fire, as well as the man behind the match.

Let me start here. I am a Minnesotan and LOVE the Gunflint area as well as the Boundary Waters. I live about 5 hours away. Its amazing to believe that there are still places in this world that I can drive to and not have cell phone reception. It is a freeing feeling.

In 2013, friends of mine as well as a couple of their friends decided that they wanted to take a 5 day canoe trip through the Boundary Waters. I was asked if I would like to go along, and always up for an adventure that was a definite YES. We loaded up with all of our food, clothes and gear and ventured out. I had been to the Boundary Waters before but not like this. Five girls out adventuring each day, carrying our canoes through trails and grass and landing where we landed each night. It was an experience of a life time and one I will always cherish.

This trip was six years after the devastating fire and you could still see the signs of it where there was a lot of new growth, but many trees were not there. While I knew of the fire, I never dug into what had happened until years later when I would meet Author Cary Griffith through our local event, Wine and Words. When Cary signed on to speak about his new book I was fascinated. I love a good non fiction, and one in my home state and as interesting as the details of this fire peaked my interest. When Cary spoke at the event that I knew I needed to read this book as as soon as possible.

Cary described in vivid detail how he came to write the book and the investigation behind it. Honestly out of our five authors present at this event in 2018, it was Cary Griffith that left me with the biggest take away.

The book is broke into chapters and dates – starting with May 3rd, 2007 with Steve Posniak on the day he started his annual camping trip into the Boundary Waters. This would be his twenty seventh trip, and unknown at this time, would be his final trip.

I actually read this book in late fall of 2018 after the August Author Event with Cary. I only noticed in the last couple of days that I had never reviewed it for no reason other than I tend to get busy and forget to review what I have read… always amazing me at the end of the year when I see my book count on Goodreads and know I have read a heck of a lot more than that, but can not always recall what is missing. As I figure that out – I will be reviewing these missing books.

I recommend Gunflint Burning to anyone enjoys a well written true story. You do not need to be from Minnesota or have experienced the Boundary Waters to appreciate the enormous impact of this historical event.

If you ever do have the opportunity to come this way, I highly recommend experiencing the Gunflint Trail as well as the Boundary Waters. Both are rich with history and adventure.

Morning Meanderings… One Word For 2021

Graffiti Burst: Pomegranate Infused White Tea

Happy Sunday! I do love me a good Sunday with things to do – but not must do’s, ya know? Like I have nowhere I have to be… checking things off my list like laundry, dog walking and refrigerate organizing can easily turn into book reading, card writing and working on a puzzle while listening to a book on audio.

That kind of day.

As many of you know – I choose a word for the year every year as opposed to a resolution. I make a big deal out of the word (just like I do out of First Book). It has to speak to me and be something I know that will stick. If I don’t, then within a couple of months I am trying to recall what the word was and how to implement it in my life. *Wah Wah so to speak.

Some years, I just know what it will be and come in like a jouster on top of my steed. Other years… I am struggling to find the right one right up to go time. They are always best when a story accompanies why it became my word.

And that is what happened this year.

For must of 2020 I felt my word for 2021 was going to be Enough. The act of determining what was enough and being ok with saying no. Something, admittedly I can struggle with. However as 2020 came to a close and most of the big hurdles I dealt with had been conquered and no longer as pressing and hard as they once felt – I did not want to waste my word on something I felt I was already doing. So January 1st came, and I still did not have the word I felt fit for this new year.

Have you ever heard of Strength Finders? It is an online assessment that identifies your top 5 strengths. A book accompanies this and once you know your strengths you can read up more about them and then utilize this knowledge when developing teams for work, etc… I first learned about this in a Minnesota Library Group Training session in 2012. I was fascinated to learn these things about myself and since then everyone I know who has taken this assessment what it identifies as their top strengths I have found to be spot on.

Through the years, I have taken the assessment 3 times, the last time in 2018 when a new Strength came to the top of my list that I had never seen on anyone’s list before – let alone mine. It identified my #1 strength as a MAXIMIZER.

This was explained as: Excellence not average is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strength’s rather yours or someone else’s, fascinates you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out looking for the telltale signs of a strength. You are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. Rather you want to capitalize on the gifts which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And it’s more demanding.

So…. on January 1st, after being up until almost 2 am working on the First Book post, I was taking my own sweet time getting to work (there was not set time to be there). My boss gave me a call to see what time I was planning to be in and I explained to him that I had been up late working on all the pieces of the First Book. He was sharing how he too had been up late with his wife binge watching a tv series, and I continued how if I had not had to be so detailed I would never have been up that late. You know me I said, “I had to maximize the post – make sure it was easy for people to find the books in the pictures and put on their own reading lists if they chose. And of course I wanted to identify where the authors were, I thought that would be fun….”

And there it was.

Maximize is my word for 2021. I want to take the everyday – and level it up. I guess, live intentionally so to speak. I am a big believer that each day is a gift and I am also someone who knows first hand that you only get that day the one time. Once your through it, you don’t get to go back and make it better. Might as well put in the extra effort and have something worth being proud of, worth remembering… and I absolutely love looking back and saying, “Yeah I did that.”

Yeah, that was a bit long. I am curious if you chose a word for 2021? If you did please share it? I find saying things out loud make it stick much better than secretly keeping it to yourself. Also if you had a word for 2020, I would love to hear how it went. I find almost consistently that what I think a word will mean at the beginning of the year means something different to me by the end. My 2020 word was Define. I had no idea that 2020 would be what it was and my word turned out to really mean something stronger than I thought it would. I feel in some ways we were all defined in 2020. 2020 revealed true character in how we each handled these world changes. Turned out to be a great word for 2020.

(and here is the link to StrengthFinders 2.0)

Have an amazing day!

First Book Origin and Update

Good Morning! Well, morning in Minnesota anyway. I have my COFFEE and still basking off what a great first day of the year I had. I feel good. I hope you do as well. Every year First Book energizes me and this year – if you took part in it – congratulations, you were part of a record breaking year. We had 134 entrees sent in! Well…133. The Harry Potter book; I noticed a friend posting about as her first read – and well…. it is Harry Potter after all so I asked her if I could add it. I solicited that one. Anyhoo… congratulations. What you are seeing above is the pics that came in yesterday after I made the BIG post. To see them all in their glory as well as all the 13 Authors mixed among them, check out yesterdays post.

This is First Books 8th year as being part of this blog. First Book for me started much longer ago. I was thinking about it yesterday and I would say possibly 30 years. Long before I did this (or even knew what a blog was), I was a big reader. For some reason, the first book of the year was always a special decision. It was after all, the book that often brought me into the New Year and that felt like it kicked off my bookish year. When I did start this blog in 2009 (Can you even believe it????) I still was doing First Book solo, but in those early days of working with publishing houses and authors and often reading on their agenda not mine – First Book became me guilty pleasure book. It was the book I chose because it was what I wanted to. It could be a re- read of a favorite, one I had been waiting to read, whatever it was – it was just for me.

Fun Fact – in the early days of my personal First Book – my first book of the year every year was a True Crime. Honestly. I know that may sound a little creepy, but that is what I picked every year as my one true crime book of the year.

This year, I chose The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. This is also my book club’s pick for January. I did not pick it because it is the Book Club book as well. I picked it because I am genuinely excited to dig into this book. From what I have heard, it is exactly what I love…. a little bit of magical fantasy and a whole lot of what if’s. I am all in.

I was going to talk to you about my word for the year as well today, however I don’t wish to ramble and that can wait until tomorrow.

Happy reading all!

Introducing….First Books of 2021

This is one of my favorite posts of the year. The moment I get to reveal all the books you have shared with me. Thank you to everyone who sent in pics of your First Book, the response was incredible. Books came in from Scotland, Australia, Canada, and all over the United States. We went over 100 pictures sent in this year.

*If you sent me a picture and do not see it here please let me know. Pics come in from Facebook, email, and text, and try as I do, I could have possibly missed something. Also – every year a few pics trickle in late so if you are reading this and did not turn in your first book, however, wish to – you certainly can as I update again tonight and repost tomorrow and additions. You can email me pics at

Under the pics I have listed the book titles as well as a few fun facts – I will identify the authors in the pictures (see if you can find them – there are 13!) as well as what book shows up most frequently for this year’s collection.

That was a lot of fun! I love seeing what everyone is planning to read first this year! Did you find me and my pick? I’m pretty well disguised! Promised land by Barack Obama takes the lead with 5 people selecting this as their first read. Fredrik Backman’s Anxious People comes in second! Thanks again, everyone. Hopefully, you find a few interesting reads out of this group to add to your own list. I know I did.
Happy New Year!