Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Wicked in ways that are relatable – Girl Power hits a whole new level. ~Sheila

Sloane, Ardie, and Grace have all worked for the Truviv Law Firm for years, earning high salaries and doing what they can to keep up in the ever changing and competitive corporate world. When you work this long with a group of women, friendships develop over working lunches and after work cocktails. And often the topic on the table is their boss, Ames, who has been at the company as long as the girls and now is looking to be next in line for CEO.

These women have heard the whispers circling around Ames and the liberties he takes as boss around the women who work with him. Sloane, Adie and Grace have their own stories as well – both known, and unknown – things they have seen and/or heard. Advances that were made… actions that were taken, most unwanted.

When a new girl is hired at the company, young, pretty, energetic Katherine, Ames takes her under his wing and the ladies feel their spidey senses tingle. When a ” BAD MEN of DALLAS” list starts to circulate of men in power positions who take liberties that are not theirs to take, Ames name is quickly added to the list.

As the women begin to open up more about what has happened to them, a camaraderie starts to build that empowers them to take actions they never would have considered on their own.

What unfolds is a powerful battle that not all will survive.

A whisper network is an informal chain of information passed privately between women. It is typically a list of powerful people in an industry alleged as being sexual harassers or abusers. The information is often shared between women by word of mouth or online in private communities, forums, spreadsheets, and crowd-sourced documents. The stated purpose of maintaining these lists is to warn potential victims of “people to avoid” in their industry. Whisper networks also purportedly help victims identify a common abuser and come forward together about a serial abuser.

The term “whisper network” was newly popularized during the #Me Too Movement after several private lists were published outside of private networks.

The Whisper Network was a book chosen for one of my reading groups. I was intrigued by the comparison to the movie 9 to 5 , a movie from 1980 starring Dolly Pardon, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin, where they turned the tables on their inappropriate boss. (And yes, I realize I just dated myself).

The Whisper Network is of course way more intense then the above mentioned movie. It is not 1980, and the powers of the workforce have certainly changed since then and not necessarily for the better.

What we have here is a powerful story that ties right in with the Me Too Movement. Whisper network is told in a way that is unique and engaging. As the story unfolds, pages of Deposition Transcripts are sprinkled throughout, mostly prior to even a mention of is a case so you know something big is being alluded too.

Admittedly, I did not have this book finished by the time we discussed it as a group on ZOOM. While the discussion was good about the content, the book overall did not rate high with the group. I was invested enough at the time of the review to not be discouraged. Even though I learned some things about the ending of the book, I was still curious how it all played out.

I am glad I continued. Whisper Network is a book of heavy dialogue and many characters – two things I do not normally find myself drawn to as I like to really feel I know the characters and often when there are many different voices I feel some do not get flushed out well. I did not feel this way in this book and felt every voice was heard which is a way, is really what the book is about. Being heard.

While the book at times felt long, I would still recommend it. There is much to think about in this book and I have thoughts on all involved. I wish I had completed this in time for the discussion. Having finished it I now have a lot to say.



Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

It’s been a while since I book made me literally laugh out loud. I did that several times while listening to this joyful, fun read. ~Sheila

Boston Medical Specialist Nora Stuart knows all about set backs. After a freak accident puts her in the hospital and hovering near death in her hospital bed, she overhears her boyfriend hit on another doctor.

Wait. What?

On a leave of absence to take time to recover from both of these blows, Nora heads back to her home town in Maine to recharge and reconnect to a place that didn’t exactly embrace her 15 years ago. Hashtag #TheOtherDaughter. Reconnecting with her hardened mother and an angst filled niece who stays with her grandmother while her own mom/ Nora’s sister sits in a Women’s Correctional Facility.

Well, if you are going to do it. Do it BIG.

“I was hit by a car, and according to the Hallmark Channel, I’m supposed to come home.”

“I opened the night table drawer and closed it fast. Okay, then. Mom still had womanly needs. Good for her. I’d get some eye bleach and erase that memory, stat.”

“the harsh world of junior high, where cliques were carved in stone, and cafeteria seating was more complex than the British peerage”

Kristan Higgins is an author that every time I read her… I wonder why I don’t do that more. I purchased this book on audio during the Audible sale. It’s always nice to have feel good not overly hard reads in my arsenal at all times. These are books that I turn to when I need a mind break or something good to wrap my head and heart around during intense calendar times in my life (and that is completely another topic). By no means do I mean to make light of Higgins books. They are from my experience quite wonderful and I want to gush a little on this one.

First up. Xe Sands as the narrator was spot on. The perfect voice for this read. She brought the words to life and hit just the right tone for the many “punny” moments in this books and quick wit responses in dialogue that I so love.

Secondly… and honestly maybe even a second firsty… the Harry Potter references sprinkled within did this girls heart good. Kristan Hannah I have to know… are you a Harry Potter fan? I think you are. I LOVED it.

Third. There were several laugh out loud moments and that does not happen often. Event this morning as I finished this listen, shortly after I had awoken and in the bathroom washing my face with half open eyes I burst out into very not me at the moment of waking laughter. Honestly, I think I want a sequel.

That all said, the book is more than punny moments, quick whit, and just the right sprinkle of teenage sarcasm. Its also a legit story of family, relationships, and some serious fear as well. Higgins put together a cast of likeable characters that felt three-dimensional. As in, yes I would go visit them in Maine and wouldn’t mind hanging out with Nora and Poe.
Just waiting for my invite….

Loved it. Recommend this book to those who love a good story, a good mix of humor, and of course…. Harry Potter.

Morning Meanderings… New Books, Cool Sunshine, Introverted Raking

Happy Sunday! It’s been a FULL week, 6 days of people and honestly – this introverted girl is wiped out.

Don’t get me wrong… I love people, I love being out there, love my family/friend time, I love everything I do and wouldn’t change a thing… however, because of the way I am wired – even hanging out with people and not doing anything more than sitting and chatting, wipes out my energy. I need a day of alone time just doing what I want… things like this… blogging, cleaning, raking, walking the dogs, and recharging my batteries. Seriously. That’s how it works.


Always has.

By the end of today I will be firing on all cylinder’s again and planning out my week and itching to connect.

What. A. Weirdo. ;P

The best book I ever read (really listened to) about this was The Power of An Introvert by Susan Cain. Seriously, highly recommended to anyone who sometimes feels guilty because they just don’t want to, craves an evening or weekend of not leaving the house, or feels drained after meetings and group participations.


“Introverts, in contrast, may have strong social skills and enjoy parties and business meetings, but after a while wish they were home in their pajamas. They prefer to devote their social energies to close friends, colleagues, and family. often feelings they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror of small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.”

“The highly sensitive [introverted] tend to be philosophical or spiritual in their orientation, rather than materialistic or hedonistic. They dislike small talk. They often describe themselves as creative or intuitive. They dream vividly, and can often recall their dreams the next day. They love music, nature, art, physical beauty. They feel exceptionally strong emotions–sometimes acute bouts of joy, but also sorrow, melancholy, and fear. Highly sensitive people also process information about their environments–both physical and emotional–unusually deeply. They tend to notice subtleties that others miss–another person’s shift in mood, say, or a lightbulb burning a touch too brightly.”

The books in the picture are those that graced my door step this weekend.

The Kristen Hannah books, Firefly Lane (I read so many years ago it was before I was writing reviews) and Fly Away the follow up book that I honestly may have read… and can not recall. Neither of these books were on my book shelves (until now). The renewed interest is of course due to the Netflix series, Firefly Lane that I recently watched and fell in love with the story line yet again. (I have this long ago memory of being on a bus in Honduras and crying as I finished what I recall as Firefly Lane… it may have been the sequel… )

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead: Promises to be an interesting and probably hard read about the true story of the horrors that happened in the 1960’s in Tallahassee at the reform school for boys, Nickel Academy. This is our Books Burgers and Brews ZOOM discussion on April 19th. Anyone is welcome to join in.

Wolf Kill by Cary Griffith: LOVE Cary Griffith! Gunflint Burning is a book I recommend for anyone who loves history, Minnesota history to be specific and the famous Gunflint Trail and the fire that destroyed so much. This new book I am very excited about as well. Thank you Cary for dropping that in the mail for me!


Have you read any of these? Have you read QUIET? What books are in your world this week?

ROBIN by Dave Itzkoff

Robin is the biography of Robin William, a portrait of the life and time of one of the world’s greatest comedians.

From his early stand up comedian days to his first break out role with Mork and Mindy, Robin Williams was one of a kind. Said to have a photographic memory, Robin could reads lines to a script and have it down. His comedy acts were mostly unrehearsed and he could switch gears and go off on a completely different direction and be hilariously funny all the way.

Robin’s brilliance did not come without demons. He feared the days he would not be funny, the days when he did not receive the approval he very much craved. He struggled with addiction and divorced twice.

Yet for a time, he was a brilliant shining actor and comedian, a household name and someone not to be forgotten.



“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived here. This is to have succeeded.”

~Robin Williams

I grew up in the time of great comedians such as Eddy Murphy, Billy Crystal, John Candy, Ellen Degeneres, and of course Robin Williams.

I listened to this book on audio (fantastic narration by Fred Berman) and loved the trip down memory lane to movies I loved and now after listening to this, I want to have a Robin Williams day (or possibly week) where I watch all these greats:

Dead Poets Society – interesting to hear in the book the struggle not only to get Robin to do the part, but to get someone to make this idea a movie, only to become an Oscar Winning movie.

Good Morning Vietnam – a movie where Robin really was allowed to be himself, off the cuff humor what required little direction.

Mrs. Doubtfire: Interesting to hear the poor review from Roger Ebert comparing Dustin Hoffman’s Tootsie to being brilliant acting as opposed to Robin’s Mrs. Doubtfire basically just being Robin playing a woman with yet another of his voices. (personally I loved it and still laugh)

Good Will Hunting: Robin won an academy award for best supporting actor

Jumanji – so so good

And these are just to name my favorites.

He was of course not always politely correct (what comedian was/is) and a lot of his material he would not have got away with in todays world. There is one part where the books talks about a running joke he would use regarding the Hell’s Angels – until, at one show, Robin encounters some of the Hell’s Angels who tell him in no uncertain terms that his bit about them – has to go.
And, it does.

If you enjoyed Robin Williams I highly recommend listening to or reading this book. I really found his life story interesting. As the book closes in on his final days and you start to interpret how he was saying good bye, you can not help but be saddened. He was a brilliant man and we were lucky to have had even just a piece of his magic for a little while.

Morning Meanderings… Signs of Spring


I love the early days of winters end. It’s not quite spring, yet you can smell that it is coming. The air is crisp yet inviting. There are moments when the sun hits you just right and you know…

spring is on the way.

It’s been a crazy week of Beta Testing recipes, heavy work loads, friend time, dog walking and book discussing. There were a couple of nights I did not head home until 7ish. Full days but not complaining – the opposite I know all too well does not work for me.

The above pic are the books that found a new home with me this week.

Cemetery Road by Greg Isles was gifted to me by a friend.

Goodbye Lark Lovejoy was a Goodreads win.

And…. The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton is one I stumbled on while browsing and could not let go of the synopsis:

Aiden Bishop knows the rules. Evelyn Hardcastle will die every day until he can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest at Blackheath Manor. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others. With a locked room mystery that Agatha Christie would envy, Stuart Turton unfurls a breakneck novel of intrigue and suspense.

For fans of Claire North, and Kate Atkinson, The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is a breathlessly addictive mystery that follows one man’s race against time to find a killer, with an astonishing time-turning twist that means nothing and no one are quite what they seem.

And…
there is a map.


And…
it is being picked up by Netflix.

So… I’m totally excited about this one.

Anything new books grace your doorstep/night stand/ mailbox/coffee table/shelves this week?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Happy weekend!

Sheila

Morning Meanderings… Taking My Hour BACK

I have never been one that struggles with Daylight savings time. You spring forward. You fall back. I did as well. My 6 am alarm goes off and I bounce out of bed like Tigger. I play 80’s music LOUD and I put away dishes, fold laundry, drink coffee, water plants and boogie around my house – eventually getting ready for work.

Until now.

This is the first time that I can recall that I woke up on Monday morning as my 6:00 am alarm went off and looked at the darkness.

Why? Just why?

For the last two days I have shut that 6 am alarm off and fell back asleep. I have had no desire to get up at 5 …errrr… 6 am when there is no sign of light yet. Or I have to turn on the closet light to take a picture that is not completely black so I can write this post that came to my groggy mind as I groped to shut off the alarm this morning thinking,


“I’m going to write about this insanity of getting up when it is still dark.”

And so here we are. Now 7:20 am… I really do need to get ready for work. Last night’s Books Burgers and Brews discussion of Whisper Network was good, review will come soon.

Happy Tuesday all. Do you struggle with Daylight Savings Time?

Morning Meanderings… The Whisper Network ZOOM Discussion

Hey all! Happy Monday! A quick plug for our ZOOM discussion tonight before I rush out the door to the job that lets-me-buy-the-things 😀

Whisper Network has been described as “The Firm meets 9 to 5”. That is pretty accurate. I think we are in for a good discussion this evening at 6 pm Central Time. The beauty of ZOOM is anyone can pop in – if you have read the book or not please feel free to join in and listen and see what Books Burgers and Brews is about. We would love to have you.
ZOOM LINK

Next month on April 19th we will be discussing The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.

Enjoy your day!
~Sheila

Morning Meanderings: Inching Towards an In Person Book Sale

I had a wonderful opportunity yesterday morning to stop in to our book sale space at the local mall. Our Book Sale team has worked HARD this past year with moving the sale location twice, and coming up with unique ways to still accept the gently used books that are donated as well as connect people to great reads.
It started out with coming up with ways to “shop” on line through our website. Then more recently, they opened up the sale to people who schedule a time to come in – by doing this they are able to control how many people are in the space to shop through the books. The steps they have taken have helped our sale not become overrun with books coming in as donations and nothing going out.

What you are seeing above is my findings while at the sale space yesterday. I could have done more damage – but this was on my way to work. Before they go on my shelves I thought I would share my reason for these books in particular as I am certain you are seeing some familiar titles there.

My book room

So… this is my book room. On that antique desk you see is where I do most of my writing, working, etc… I love this room and love being surrounded by books. If you really investigated my shelves, you would definitely find duplicates. I call this “Book Rescue”, when you see a title you have read and loved and want to either

A) have it on our shelves or

B Have it or a duplicate of it available if anyone is looking for a good read.


I love having an extra copy that I can just give someone and I love being surrounded by books that speak to me. Often I think this library is not only for me, but for everyone… and isn’t that what a library should be?

So… the Meg Wolitzer book, The Interestings, I picked up because I LOVE LOVE LOVED her book, Belzhar.


Left neglected by Lisa Genova – Genova is an amazing author and I recommend everything she writes. Yes I have a hard cover copy of this one on my shelf… now I have a soft cover copy as well. Book Rescue. 😀

A Woman Alone by Nina Laurin – so so good. I listened to this on audio for a book club discussions last year. I did not have a book copy.

A Certain Age by Beatrice Williams – Beatrice Williams is another author to watch. I have read Along The Infinite Sea and A Hundred Summers and enjoyed them very much. I listened to Overseas on audio and now see I missed reviewing it… hmmm, may need to listen to again. 😀

Last Words by Shari J Ryan – you were probably starting to wonder if I grab a book that has no connection to me already….i.e. I have read the author before, already read it,; the answer is I do. The cover and synopsis grabbed me here.

Leota’s Garden by Francine Rivers. I read Rivers a long long time ago. I see I reviewed The Atonement Child, but did not review Redeeming Love which is INCREDIBLE. Seriously – check out the review count on Goodreads!

77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz – Back in my early 20’s when my author pool was set to certain authors – I read everything Koontz wrote. I couldn’t wait for his next book to come out! I think my first read of his was The Funhouse and then there was no turning back. I have reviewed many Koontz books here, yet not the early ones before my blogging days. I still enjoy most of his books and I am excited for this one.

Artemis and The Martian by Andy Weir. I have read and reviewed both of these books. I did not think I had copies of them as I completed both on audio. Turns out I do have a copy of Artemis. Both excellent reads.

The Art Of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein. Now a movie I don’t think I can watch, the book was fantastic. I don’t read a lot of dog books because honestly… they can be sad. This one – well, it is sad. And its also brilliant. I listened to it on audio in 2011 and I can still recall bawling in the bathroom as I was getting ready for work (fruitless really, I was crying so hard). I do have a copy of this book. Now I have two. Absolutely read or listen to this one. So so good. Book Rescue.

When You Are In Engulfed In Flames by David Sedaris. I started listening to Sedaris on audio in 2013 while painting this very book room. I laughed so hard and then went on over the next few years to continue to listen to him. Dry humor and so so funny. Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls, Me talk Pretty One Day, Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, Naked and Theft by Finding.


Almost Missed You by Jessica Strawser. New author, new book to me. Picked it up on cover alone… then synopsis.

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan – This is our May Discussion book for Books, Burgers, and Brews. Gorgeous cover.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. I could go on and on about Sarah Pekkanen. I won a trip to the Book Expo with her in 2010. When I looked through my archives here, I had to go back 4 pages of posts that I mention her in to get to the info about that win and to verify the year. I love her books and her partnership with Greer. For the life of me I thought I had listened to this one on audio and se it in my audios however I cna not recall. Ahhh well, I have the book now. Opposite of Me, Skipping a Beat, These Girls, The Best Of Us. And now I feel like I am missing reviews. Need to catch up!

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I know I know. I have read it. I have written a spoiler page to it so I could rant and rave (with almost 400 comments I think that is my wildest spoiler page). I compared the book to the movie.I created a fight club pitting Amy from Gone Girl against Rachel from Girl on The Train? Guess who won? It wasn’t a fair fight. Yes I already have a copy. Now I have two. Fight me. 😛



So that is my haul. Curious – are you a book reader and returner? A Library user? A gifter? A keeper of books and if so, what books qualify for the keep worthy? I always say – there are worse things I can do with my money….
~Sheila

The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett

Desiree and Stella are identical African American twins born in the south in the 1950’s. Stella is light in color as opposed to her sisters darker coloring. At the age of 16, they run away together to St Louis, however soon separate with different thoughts on their own identity. Stella decided to live her life as white and non are the wiser. She marries a white man and has a white daughter. Desiree finds a man darker than she and has a dark skinned daughter. Living apart and with separate lives – will their worlds ever connect again?

You ever read a book you really really want to like – and just find it doesn’t click for you?

I read this for our Book Club and was looking forward to the book that was receiving positive attention and hitting best sellers lists everywhere. I listened to this one on audio, fair warned by a friend that it had a slow start – yet it never did connect for me.


At first I thought it was my attention (or lack there of) to it – its been busy around here and perhaps I was not in the right frame of mind to listen to a book. However many of the girls in my book club were saying the same thing I was- some from audio and some from book format, finding it hard to follow, dragging in parts, and disjointed.

Not all would agree. A couple of girls in the discussion found the book thought provoking, and still thinking of it long after the final page was turned. We did have a good discussion on the books title and how it was an appropriate fit.

My personal thoughts are that I found it interesting, but not a “WOW”. It held my attention, yet at the same time it felt that it jumped here and there and I would struggle to catch up trying to figure out how this was relevant. In the end – I finished, but I can not say I enjoyed the book. Good reads and Amazon have strong positive ratings on this book, clearly I am in the minority on this one.

If you have read the Vanishing Half, what were your thoughts on the book? I would love to hear them!

Morning Meanderings…. Books In Da House!!!

Happy weekend! Another wonderful weekend of yoga pant mornings and sipping coffee while planning out my day.
This past Tuesday we had our book club meeting here at my house to discuss The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett. While the book made for some interesting insightful discussion, it had some mixed ratings with our group of 16. That review will be posted later this morning.

One of the girls in our group (hi Angie!) has some solid connections to receiving books for our group. As we had not met in person for several months, she had a lot to choose from and through random drawings, we were able to chose books we would like to read. I wound up with:

Qualify by Vera NasarianI am pretty excited about this one. I could use a good Sci Fi/Fantasy read in my life 😀

Grounds For Murder by Tara Lush A cozy mystery setting with coffee? Mmmmmmm

Unfetted Journey by Gary Bengierooh another futuristic read… I miss these!

Truth Of The Matter by Jamie BeckGreat synopsis!

And….

Woman 99 by Greer Macallister – I ordered in this one as it is our book clubs April read. Greer is also one of our Wine and Words authors for 2021!
So that’s it…

Happy Saturday!