Best Day Ever by Kaira Rouda

This book hit the spot and was the right mix of quirky crazy physiological craziness to make me laugh and cringe and SOOOOO glad I chose this book as my first book of the year.  ~Sheila

 

Paul Strom is so excited.  He is finally getting away for a lovely weekend with his wife Mia.  She has not been feeling well lately and Paul feels that perhaps this break from the pressures of running a household, working and their children has been perhaps a little too much for her lately.  This day- THIS DAY, will be the best day ever.

Yet things are not as they seem.  Mia seem out of sorts and edgy, and Paul is having interference from people calling him that know they should not be calling him.  He has already gone over this.  How can he keep their day on track and keep it the best day ever?  And in they could just get to their special place, so he can give Mia the special surprise he has awaiting for her.  She will be so surprised!

 

Oh I needed this.  I absolutely loved listening to YOU by Caroline Kepnes  and reading this synopsis made me wonder if lighting could possibly strike twice.  The answer, is awfully darn close.  While Paul does not quite hit the craziness level of Joe in YOU and Hidden Bodies, he sure is a good runner up.

I devoured this book.  I could not get enough of the story line and where it was going.  I wanted badly to know what was going to happen.  Paul made me laugh and he made me think…  professional crazy at its finest.

If you love a good physiological thriller, that is not over the top graphic or gory – this book is one to try.  An absolute delight on audio – Graham Halstead (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) nailed it. 

 

 

 

Morning Meanderings: My Crazy Amazing Encounter with Sue Grafton

 

Good morning.  Or Afternoon.  Or evening.  Wherever you are and whenever you are reading this.  It is morning here in Minnesota on this exceptionally COLD day.  The coffee is brewing and I am capturing a few minutes to myself before my day explodes into activity.

You are probably familiar with the name Sue Grafton.  She was the author of the long running books that started with A is for Alibi, a series she started after having penned 7 previous books.  It was this alphabet series that went on to make her the famous author she had become.  She passed away in December, and although she was not an author I read (yet) she is one that holds a special place in my heart.

I have a personal story about her.  It was at the Penguin Bash in New York during the Book Expo of 2013.  I was at this event with my good friend Allison and my roommate that year Cindy (Cindy’s Love of Books).

I was siting and talking with a group of book reviewers when I believe it was Jill (Rhapsody in Books) who ran up to me and grabbed my arm.  “You have to come and meet Sue Grafton!” she said.  I remember feeling like a little kid putting the breaks on. I had not read Sue Grafton’s books and what would I say to a big name author who I had not read?

I was introduced and I came up with something awkward and surely cheesy by saying, “So.. you are on W.  What happens when you get to Z?  I mean, AA already means something and AAA means something else.”

GAH.

For some reason, she liked me.  We talked for about 15 minutes about writing and my wanting to do so myself and having yet (even now) to find my direction.  She gave me her email and told me to write her anytime to discuss writing.

Wait…

what?

Well as most things Expo for me…  I have HUGE plans when I return home, however life kicks back in and many things, such as emailing Sue Grafton about writing… fall to the way side.  It was a few weeks later the letter arrived.

It was a beautiful letter from Sue Grafton hoping that she was mailing the girl that she talked to about writing.  (Gulp)  I had not given my information to her but somehow she had come up with my mailing address and sent me this personal letter encouraging me to follow my passion.  It was beautiful.  Amazing.  And somewhere I still have that letter.

From that year on, she sent me a Christmas card every year.  Now, January 12th, I have put away all the Christmas cards of 2017… except hers.  Hers is still on my refrigerator.  I am savoring the memory of her, the conversation, the letter and knowing that this is the last Christmas card I will receive from this amazing author…  who changed the world – and ended the alphabet with Y.

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Sue Grafton and I  2013

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

There are some constants in life that you can cause you to breathe a little easier because you know they are there.. or they are coming.  Elin Hildebrand’s book releases are on of these constants.  She is consistently good in her writing, and consistent in putting out a book a year just as I am craving a little of that Nantucket sand between my toes.  ~Sheila

 

Harper Frost is that laid back girl next door with a beer chaser.   She has her own style and it is casual.  She doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  She tends to leap… and suffer the consequences later.  She is typically in between jobs and that is ok.

Tabitha Frost is dignified.  She wear only designer clothes and is much like her fashion icon mother, Eleanor Roxie Frost.  Appearance – is everything.  Tabitha’s teenage daughter Ainsley, begs to differ.  She is abrasive to her mother in full on teen rebellion…  what she needs, well what she needs is a dose of Harper – Tabitha’s identical twin.

The sisters, have lived on islands 11 miles apart yet have not connected in over a decade.  As their lives are splintering, the twins call a truce to see what they can do to fix things before it is all too late.  By switching places can they repair the damage done by lies, deception and gossip?  And is there any hope that what threw the sisters apart all those years ago can be repaired?

MMMMM  I love me some Hilderbrand.  Her books tend to be of the Nantucket persuasion which I love.  A little of knowing what you are going to get, at least setting wise… but there is so much more.

Harper and Tabitha are well-developed characters and I enjoyed this story line so much.  Hilderbrand does a nice job of fully developing the story lines of their worlds separately as well as together.  I love love LOVED Eleanor.  If you have not tried Elin Hilderbrand, I recommend highly that you do.  There are some delightful laugh out loud moments here, as well as a wonderful story of sibling rivalry, family secrets, and well.. basically a typical family trying to make it work.

SON by Jack Olsen


I admit, I have always been a bit fascinated with true crime.  That – I realize feels weird to say.  How to put this… the human mind is a fascinating thing, when you add in whatever makes psychopath’s do what they do… and usually justify it – I don’t even know what to say.  ~Sheila

 

Disclaimer…  I see as this year starts out my reviews have been ummmm… border line murderous?  Those of you who have read my reviews (or look at my review list) know better.  I read all over the board – just for some reason as I am catching up on reviews I see I have had a series in a row of these reads – not as dark as this one I am about to share with you.. but mystery dark all the same.  I assure you, lighter stuff is on the way 🙂  There have been some re-reads for book groups I am involved in such as Left Neglected (sooooo good), The Husbands Secret (ooh!), Big Little Lies (I will talk about this discussion soon), and Turtles All The Way Down for my book club that meets tonight).  See – they are coming 😉

SON.

I believe, if I recall correctly, I found SON while choosing audio on Audible.com.  I do, as I mentioned, enjoy (cringes at the word) the occasional true crime and SON’s synopsis of being an old crime and then rewritten with a new forward by another author.  That caught my attention.  Why rewrite a true crime? 

SON is about a serial raper in the Spokane Washington area in the 1980’s.  Fred Coe raped more women than can be actually known over a two year period.  He was described as handsome, kind, and a down to earth attitude that would not make you think twice about him (Bundy?).  He mainly watched bus lines or jogging trails for women alone.  The crazy think IMO – was he was not that good at it and I was mostly baffled by how long it took to capture him.

What do I mean?

Well, often his face was not covered.  He threatened the women of course to not tell or he would be back, and they did not.  Often – he could not perform.  He would ask the women if they enjoyed what he was doing, using vulgar language, etc…

A newspaper offered a reward for the rapists arrest – as it turns out, Gordon Coe, the editor of the newspaper took the calls that came in about the reward, only to later find out it was Fred Coe – Gordon’s son who was the rapist.

This book (I went with audio) was way longer than it needed to be.  The narration took a bit of getting used to, a monotone style voice that was used when they described the rapes and what the women said or what Fred said, grated at me for a large part of the audio as I felt it did not fit the scene.  The book is (IMO) over detailed, dragging out way longer than it needed to be.  I mainly kept listening as I was baffled by all that was said, that it took local law enforcement so long to capture him.  I had to know what finally happened.

As true crime goes, I would not recommend this one.  As mentioned, it was too drawn out for me, and while it held my attention, it was not something I could not wait to get back to. Unless you have connection to the Spokane area or the crimes themselves, I would say pass on this.

 

Deep Dark Descending by Allen Eskens


Yes, my Esken’s gush continues from yesterdays posting of The Heavens May Fall.  A brilliant writer who I have found to capture a bounty of talent within a binding.  Allen Esken’s never ceases to surprise me.

~Sheila

 

Detective Max Rupert has never come to terms with his wife’s death, the result of a hit and run.  When evidence is found that proves Max’s suspicions, that her death was no accident but cold-blooded murder,  Max falls into a world of grief and despair and an unquenchable desire to seek revenge on those involved.

As Max follows the clues he becomes more consumed to the point of not carrying what his decisions going forward could mean for himself.  When his obsessive need for revenge brings him to a cold and frozen lake on the far outstretches of Minnesota somewhere where his actions may never be brought to light, Max steps over a line that he himself had convicted many people for less.

Whoa and whoa.  Seriously whoa.  This book, and its nature really starts in Heavens May Fall as you learn more about Max’s growing obsession with his dead wife.  As heaven’s May Fall comes to a close, facts (bread crumbs) are dropped into the reader’s mind that all that surrounds Jenni Rupert’s death is not as it was to seem.  Deep Dark Descending really is all about what Max does with this new-found knowledge that his friend Boady placed in his care.

Deep Dark Descending is dark, however I will say understandably so.  If you follow Max’s love for his wife and her untimely death as well as other factors that are revealed in this book, you can indeed follow Max down the spiral rabbit hole of Deep Dark Descending.

For myself, I am fascinated with what Allen Esken’s brings into a book.  Knowing his background as an attorney makes it all the more fascinating for me as I imagine he is pulling from his own experiences and then adding his own spin to what happens when someone is pushed right to their breaking point.

I devoured Deep Dark Descending on audio, listening every chance I had to know what would happen as Max uncovers hard truths and makes even harder decisions of what to do with these truths now that they are fully revealed.

The Heavens May Fall by Allen Eskens


Allen Eskens is a Minnesota gem.  His works are drawing attention all over and he is not only a best seller but has won many awards for his writing.  I am thrilled to have met him in New York at the Book Expo and he and his lovely wife attended Wine and Words in 2016.  He is an author I watch to see what he will put to paper next.  His first book, The Life We Bury was a delight to review with The Bookies.

~Sheila

Boady Sanden has happily enjoyed his retirement, that is until his friend Ben Pruitt shows up on his doorstep broken and grieving announcing that his wife, Jennavieve has just been murdered and he, Ben, is considered a suspect.  Boady, who still carries guilt over an innocent client from years ago feels this may be his chance to lift the burden a little and agrees to come out of retirement and represent Ben.

Detective Max Rupert is friends with Boady but does not share in Boady’s strong belief that Ben is innocent.  Max, carrying the weight on his own wife’s murder 4 years earlier, finds that Ben’s situation is stirring things in him that have never been resolved.

In a case that has friends on opposite ends of the court room, Boady and Max agree to disagree as both men work to unravel the mystery surrounding Jennavieve’s untimely death.  What will be the final verdict for all involved?

As I mentioned, you don’t have to sell me on an Allen Eskens book.  Lets just say, you had me at Esken’s.  I listened to this one on audio while painting my office recently and the story line, smooth narration by R. C. Bray (Narrator),‎ David Colacci (Narrator),‎ Amy McFadden (Narrator) was the perfect mix.  Nothing makes a project go by smoother than great audio.

I loved it.  The twists the turns had me all the way through… just when I thought I knew.. BAH.  I knew nothing.

Note:  You meet Boady and Max in The Life We Bury, although you do not need to have read The Life We Bury to dig into this read.  In fact for myself, I had forgotten that I had met these two men in a previous book with over a year for me between the reads.  I do however recommend you read this one before you read Esken’s next book, The Deep Dark Descending. 

In DDD, you really follow Max Rupert down a rabbit hole and I feel you need The Heavens May Fall to grasp where Max is at.  I have two friends (well I have a few more but this scenario is about two of them…) one read them as I suggested here and LOVED Deep Dark Descending. The one who read Deep Dark Descending without reading this one first found it to be dark, and did not fully grasp how Max Rupert came to be where he is in that book. 

Morning Meanderings… A Week Of Experiences

A week in!  Anyone else feel like a rock star?  Or just amazed that the first week of 2018 is coming to a close.  I am a mixed bag of both 🙂

This week for me was a little crazy…  I accepted a position (YAY!!!) that takes me out of my office at home a little more and into the world of marketing which I LOVE LOVE LOVE – yet it is new and I am adjusting to the change in my availability while still hanging on to the commitments I have with non profits, friends, and other projects.  I need to borrow from my good friend Amy her word, BALANCE.

I read a little (thank you Jill Anderson!) and I listened to a little audio… I have reviews to write (Huzzah!), W9s to fill out, invoices to send, power point to design, and this recap of the week.

SO Experience….

January 1:  COLD The 10k in ST Paul at 20 below zero.  6.2 miles.

January 2:  Love and Friendship…  a beautiful gift in the mail, my friends had their little boy

January 3:  BOOKS.  The donations at the library are overflowing.  A few of us hauled books from the library to the sale spot set for spring.  More book donations than I have ever seen at one time!

January 4:  Purpose.  I started my first day in an office in town.  I was a little nervous, I have worked mainly out of my home office since July 2014.  It went well.  The others were super nice, I felt good, and I felt I had purpose, which surprised me in good ways.

January 5:  Heartbreak.  Bailey, who has been around for 20+ years was put down (horrible words). He was getting to be too much to handle – above assisted living care.. he needed someone all the time to carry him outside and in, he was blind and deaf and the HARD decision had to be made.  UGH.

January 6:  Creativity.  I attended two jewelry making classes today – one for a necklace and one for a bracelet centered around our words of the year.  I have never been to a jewelry making class before so this was new, exciting, fun, and took my mind off of (for a little while) the sorrow over Bailey.

As for today, the 7th… I do not know yet.  The day is young…  I am planning to stay at home for the most part and prepping some things to take pressure off my week…  and it will be a week!  Tomorrow Friends meeting, take down decorations at library, Author, Books Burgers and Brews in the evening, Tuesday office and lunch with friends, Wednesday gym, book hauling, a couple of meet ups for work, Thursday office, 2nd Thursday Happy Hour For A Cause in the evening, somewhere in the middle maybe some shopping for vacation next week, Friday gym, office.. somewhere in the week I should consider tanning as well….

Welcome to 2018.  How was the first week for you?