Morning Meanderings…New Years Eve Eve Book Fail

It’s the Eve before the Eve. I recently have been listening to a new audio book and usually if I do not enjoy something I just move on… not every book is for everybody ya know? Yet this book was such an epic fail I literally groaned out loud when I finally decided enough was enough. I am talking about Jerry Seinfeld’s new book, Is This Anything?

I love good humor. I adore quick witticism. While I don’t per se usually sit down and watch a comedy act, I do enjoy good funny shows etc… I have listened to many a funny person on audio as they narrate their life and share their journey and have come out the other side just fine for doing so. Some examples would be David Sedaris (hilarious!), David Spade, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Justin Halpren, Kevin Hart, Jim Gaffidan… you get the picture. All funny… all laugh out loud funny. Even typing about them makes me want to listen to some of them again…

And then there is, Is This Anything? At first I thought it was just the start of the book…. like a prologue. A robotic woman’s voice announces the joke, then Jerry tells the joke. THEN the robotic woman’s voice announces another joke. Jerry tells the joke.
And again.
And again.

And again.
Seriously who thought this was a good idea?

I was listening in my car or when I was cooking dinner. The voice was jarring. The audio had no smooth rhythm. The jokes were not like chapters, they were like speed bumps so you literally had a new joke and a new robot voice every 30 seconds to a minute.
It was awful and after an exasperated “ARGGGHHH” Charlie Brown style, I shut it off.

Life’s too short.

Nothing against Jerry, I enjoy him on Seinfeld. This was just not a win for me.

Is This Anything?
No Jerry, it is not.


Have you experienced a book or audio that you could not get through do to choppy formatting? Weird voice? Or other fingernails on a chalkboard happenings?


Oh… and two more days to First Book 😀

What’s YOUR One Word for 2021

I don’t do resolutions. They are messy and usually within weeks you have forgotten all about what you were planning to do anyway.


Or… is that just me?

In 2014 I heard about One Word. There used to be a cool page called One Little Word, that had a list of words but I see now it has been removed. You can also find books on this now, and here today I found this page called oneword365.com .


But honestly, you don’t need all the bells and whistles.

It wasn’t until 2016 that my word really took hold. 2015 was, well, some of you were there with me through all of that. I was at a point in my life where I didn’t want to go anywhere. I didn’t want to do anything and I sure as hell didn’t want to be anywhere people were – especially happy people. My word for 2016 was COURAGE and honestly it changed everything. I used my word when I didn’t think I could do something. When the word “No” was right there on the tip of my tongue and then my word would come to mind… and I would instead say, “I can do this.” COURAGE was the right word for me that year, a friend gave me a key that said COURAGE on it, I had it on a bracelet and I owned it.

In 2017 my word was SHINE. 2016 gave me what I needed to feel like I could breath again, and in 2017, I really did SHINE in so many ways. In 2018 I went with Experience. I wanted to experience new things and not waste the life I was given. In 2019, my word was Spark and in 2020 it was Define.

I chose Define because I wanted to define who I was. I wanted to be the person I was on the inside as well as on the outside. One of the great things about choosing a word is what I usually think it is going to mean for me…. it tales me in a whole new direction. (2015 was Emerge – the hardest of all my word posts to read -and there was a time when I hated it, before I began to understand that it would have a different meaning then I had anticipated).
Define for 2020. Well…. who wasn’t defined in 2020? 2020 brought out true colors in people like I don’t think we have ever experienced before. You had fear, hate, anger, defiance, ugliness, cruelty, as well as hope, kindness, love, teamwork, those who rose above the chaos and looked to where they could lend a hand. While Define was not at all what I thought I was going to do with it, I feel I lived it well.

So here we are at the crossroads to 2021. I am still undecided. Choosing my word is a big deal to me. I thought I had it, and now I am not so sure. When I have it, I will let you know.
Feel free to join in. It is most definitely a personal choice and what you feel you need for the upcoming year. It can be personal. You can share it here, you can also send me a private message if you wish to share it with someone. It is entirely up to you. It is after all your one word.

Here is another great list for words – really it can be anything.

(Oh also – don’t forget First Book! I am getting excited!)

~Sheila

Lessons From An Online Book Sale

Friends Book Sale in 2019

2020 has brought many challenges to so many – in so many ways. Non Profits are no different. With the inability to have our book sales as we normally do twice a year, not only do we not have the income that the book sales usually make, we do not have an outlet to put books in our communities hands. With MANY books being donated weekly by our generous community, and no sale in over a year, as many non profits are doing, we had to think outside the box.

The Friends of The Brainerd Public Library book sale moved online in late October. This was due to a dedicated team of Volunteers who set up the sale just like you would if we were opening the doors to a regular sale. They categorized the donated books and we set up the website to offer people a chance to go on line and purchase a bundle of their favorite genre… OR… choose an Experience bundle that would be a mix of great reads to try. You could also message the Book Sale Team and let them know if you were looking for specific titles, and they would communicate back; and if they had it, they set up a pick up time and customers could pay at the door. It’s like curbside pick up…. for books.

My part of all of this is the website and really why I am writing this today. I have been volunteering at the book sales for about 12 years now. I love talking to people about books, recommending books and seeing what they can recommend to me. In all the years of doing this, I found that this online sale has a few things happening that I did not anticipate – but I certainly appreciate.

Volunteers filling book orders that have come in through packing lists and online ordering
  1. It is a more personal experience. You see the customer place their order and they share with you authors they like, and genres they like. Someone from the book sale team takes their request and fills their order based on what they have said – like a personal shopper.
  2. You see new trends. When orders come in and customers are choosing their books, you really get to see what people are looking for. In turn this helps our Book Sale Team know what is popular when the donations come in. Non Fiction, for instance, has had a much bigger request then I thought it would.
  3. Teachable moments. Recently we had an order come in requesting Cozy Mysteries. If I see an order come in where someone requests a specific author or something like this, I will add a little note to it to assist the team filling the order in where to find the books. For this particular request, I made a note for the team saying they probably already knew this but just in case, I explained what a cozy mystery was (Sconed to Death!) as well as a few of the popular Cozy Mystery Authors. Later, one of the Book Sale Chairs told me that they had a fun time finding those books and had a fun discussion and learning what a Cozy Mystery was. 😀
  4. Phone calls for specific books. We now have a master list of people who have shared what they are looking for. There is the guy who will take all Bibles donated. There is the lady who will take any crochet books. And of course thanks to Queen’s Gambit, there is a run on anything Chess.

When the in person sale is happening, it is so crazy busy you don’t really have the time to spend with one person as they choose their books. You might wave to someone or help for a couple minutes, and then you are flying off to assist the next person. As in many things, this is a slow down and more focused process that thanks to the dedicated Volunteers, is working.

I am sure the Book Team could share a lot more cool stories – these are just mine from the comfy chair at my house and watching the orders come in.
For those of you who live elsewhere, what is your Library or Friends Group doing at this time? I would love to hear other ideas!

Oh and don’t forget to submit your First Book of the Year!

For those that do not know, I am the President of the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library. I do this because I have always had a love for books and connecting people to books they will enjoy. To me, the best gift is sharing a book you love with someone else. It is like you gave them keys to another world where they may be living in the marsh of North Carolina, or saving a futuristic world, or even a young boy riding a train for the first time to a school of magic.

Be well.

~Sheila

Keeper of the Light by Diane Chamberlain

After a horrific shooting, Dr. Olivia Simon rushed to the emergency room to do her best to save a young woman’s life. As all attempts fail and the patient dies while Olivia is doing everything she can, Olivia realizes she knows the woman…

it is Annie O’Neil. The woman that Oliva’s husband, Paul, is in love with.

As details unfold and Paul has to deal with this enormous truth, Olivia struggles with her own truths. Desperately trying to save her marriage, while trying to understand her husband’s overwhelming grief for a woman he was merely infatuated with, Olivia finds herself looking deeper into Annie’s world, including Annie’s own husband and children for answers.



This was a real whoa. As crazy as the details of this book are, you cant help but know that in todays this world this is an absolute possibility. I was annoyed with Paul, rooting for Olivia, and all the in-between. Definitely a page turner to the very end. If you are looking for a wonderful Diane Chamberlain read, this is it.



Big Lies In A Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

It’s refreshing to find an author that shakes it up in their books so much…. they can still pleasantly surprise you. ~Sheila

Morgan Christopher has found herself in a bad way. After lying for her boyfriend regarding who was driving a car that was involved in a serious accident that injured an innocent person, Morgan is spending 3 years in a Women’s Correctional Facility while the boyfriend gets away free.


Well, at least, she was spending 3 years in a correctional facility.

Now, Morgan finds herself released early to a stranger who has given her one task to complete in exchange for her freedom… restore an old Post Office mural that has been long neglected for almost 80 years. Puzzled, but wanting her freedom more than anything, Morgan accepts the request knowing she does not have the knowledge or the skill to accomplish what she has been asked. What she does have is determination.

Through Morgan’s research of the mural, the quirky habitants of the small town, and even in the mural itself, Morgan begins to restore more than the painting itself… but also details to a long since buried secret involving deception, lies, and possibly murder.


In the fall of 2014, I found this author Diane Chamberlain while looking for something to listen to while I worked 12 hours a day with bees in Florida. (True Story). Once I started listening to this author, it was like I couldn’t stop. Each story was a stand alone and I loved it. Some authors, have a set style and you know when you read them what you are going to get even before you crack the spine. Not so with Diane. She writes in such a way that while it may be a mystery – its not one set scene…. or one set formula… and with a vast array of interesting characters you can not help yourself but fall all in…. until you turn that last satisfying page. This book was no exception.

I adored this story line and the details in solving the mystery of the mural. The flash backs to the original painter were smooth and interesting where you could easily see this as a movie, with a stroke of a paint brush you were in another time witnessing what happened to cause the artist to capture this on the canvas.
I highly recommend this author and this book. If you have not experienced Diane Chamberlain, do not stop here. I have quite a few I have enjoyed:

Pretending To Dance

Necessary Lies

The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes

The Midwife’s Confession

The Silent Sister

Morning Meanderings… A Little Book GUSHING

Happy Sunday! I had to connect here real quick to show you what came in yesterday’s mail. The Next Wife is Author Kaira Rouda’s books that will be available to the public May of 2021. These two copies here were part of a giveaway we offered at Wine and Words this year. These delicious copies arrived in my mailbox yesterday and while I am super excited to hold them…. alas they are for the two winners, and not me. 😀

I first experienced this author in 2018 with her book, Best Day Ever. It reminded me a bit of You by Caroline Kepnes that I listened to 2016 (not a creep-tastic Netflix series) I adored both crazy books and was in awe in both cases that they were written by women as the main protagonist in both is a very deranged man.

Have you read either of these books? What books are you looking forward to in 2020? I would love to know!

Here We Go! First Book of the Year 2021

Year 8 of First Book. YAY! I spent a little time this morning looking through this website at all the previous First Book posts, including the very early ones where I just shared what I was reading. The first official First Book post where I invited all of you to join in was in 2014. Since then, it has become a tradition to do this every year and when I am a little late on putting this post up there are a few of you that message and ask if I am doing it.



Of course we are doing it!

So what is First Book?  First Book is the first book you plan on reading in the New Year.  It can be a long-coveted read you have not had time for, a guilty pleasure read like a re-read of a favorite…  really it can be anything – it is, after all, YOUR First Book.

Make it AWESOME.

Then, once you have picked what it will be, email/ Facebook message me a picture of you with the book (send it to sdechantal@gmail.com).  This adds to the excitement of the First Book.  You have between now and December 31st to send in your choice.  On January 1st I will post all the pics in a collage format of all of you around the world that are doing First Book.  I do hope you will join me – friends, family, fellow book lovers, a friend of a friend of a friend… you there in the corner looking at this crazy site for the first time – you as well 😀 I enjoy putting this together every year and seeing all the great books and pics come in really makes my heart smile.

Here are just a few of the books that came in last year:

ZOOM Book Discussion: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens #DoubleFeels

Hey all! A quick invite to let you know we will be discussing A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens VIA ZOOM on Monday, December 21st, at 6:00 PM (Central time). This is an open discussion so anyone may join in. Grab a copy online, audio version or book style – all accepted!

My gorgeous copy in the picture was purchased by my mom in 1991 (she always signed her name and year she bought a book on the inside cover) so it holds double feels for me. I read this quite a few years ago with my book club and I am now excited to revisit it again.

Zoom Registration is here (it is free and easy)


AND… here is a free link to the book for you to downloads if you wish.

Hope to see you there!


Morning Meanderings… Its Getting Weird…. but Good Weird


Happy December! How the heck did that happen? We have been experiencing mild weather here in Minnesota which I LOVE LOVE and little of the “S” word…. (also makes me happy).

With the mild weather, my 5k a Day plan from Thanksgiving to Christmas has been going for the most part smoothly. Last weekend when I kicked it off on Thanksgiving that was easy as I didn’t work Thursday or the weekend. The work week turned out to be a bit trickier to maneuver and a few later nights scraping it in but every day I have completed it. I’m starting to find a rhythm and planning where I will fit it into my day. Today will be day 10. WOOT!

In bookish news, I have a couple of Diane Chamberlain books to review with you that I am excited to share! You know how some authors are very consistent with their content, theme, style…. her, not so much and in good ways. I do not think I have ever read a book I have not liked of hers. Other than that, my book club will be discussing The Haunting Of Brynn Wilder this coming Tuesday via ZOOM and I am listening to Ready Player Two, one more time before I put that one aside. (I know… I know…) – but its Wil Wheaton, and 90’s nostalgia and….

Ok. Moving on. I have a busy morning to mid afternoon so need to get moving. Let me know what you are reading or what you would recommend I dive into next.
Happy weekend!

~Sheila

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.