Playing Many Parts

Great Book – Great Person

I don’t even remember where I heard about this book, which is a real shame, because I owe someone a really big thank you!  My favorite line:  “Screw it – just do it!.”  I liked that line so much, I let it inspire me and I am finally starting that business I have been dreaming of for years.  So to say this changed my life is actually a true statement for me.

I have made it a new habit this year to read through some great business books on my way to work.  It was either find a way to make my very stupid, overcrowded, long commute through very backed up Chicago traffic more enjoyable; or go to jail for smashing my way through to get to work in a reasonable amount of time.  Since my commute isn’t changing anytime soon, and jail will definitely NOT work with my claustrophobia, I decided I need to put this time to good use.  Audiobooks that teach new things are really a great way to learn all kinds of new things, and may just make me more successful at the same time.

Back to this book.  I didn’t really know who Richard Branson was before I read the book.  And yes, I do live under a rock so don’t judge me.  I had heard of that crazy entrepreneur who did the balloon trip and who was trying to plan vacations to the moon, but I knew nothing of the Virgin companies or him personally.  I can say with all seriousness now that I find him completely delightful and want to be a business owner like him someday.

This book is for anyone involved in business, but I think anyone who would like to be a great leader should read it.  He gives very practical advice on how to do business better, greener, and with more integrity than any other book I have read so far.  He seems fairly honest and open about what makes his company both unique and fun to work for.  I found myself making lots of lists on how I want to do things differently as I setup my new business.  I was inspired to both keep reading and to keep thinking about ways to deliver value to any future customers and employees.  I put the link here to the book because I think everyone in business should read it, and I really do plan to have all my friends, family and employees read this book.  It will be a graduation gift I give out for at least the next couple of years, or until my next great read.


Can’t Help It – I Love YA Fiction



I admit, I am a grown woman, but I still love Young Adult Fiction, especially if it is also fantasy!  From C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien to Suzanne Collins and Marissa Meyer.  Perhaps I should also admit upfront that the best job I ever had was working in the Student Affairs Office at a major college and I still run a teen basketball program in my community, so I think the argument could be made that perhaps like Peter Pan, I never grew up.  And I am ok with that!

I finished reading the book Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles Book 1) in a few hours over three nights.  The best testament to my enjoyment of the book is that the very next day I went out and purchased the second book in the series Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles, Book 2) (The Lunar Chronicles).  I like very much that she appears to have three stories here that have some aspects of three different fairy tales and that they are much darker than the Disney versions.  I also love that the main character of this first book is a techno geek (my own day job) and that the heroine from the second one is a farmer (my dream job).  There is enough action and suspense to have me turning pages and enough character development and romance to feed my need for love.  I will get back to you on books two and three, but so far, so good.  I would put this series at a high school reading level, by the way, since there is a familial death that may be harder for younger readers to deal with.

Book Review via Road Trip to Maryland

This past weekend I spent 26 hours driving to and from Maryland to visit family.  I have always liked road trips, and since we

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

had 4 drivers, most of my hours were spent on my favorite hobby, reading.  I got Sandra Brown’s Mean Streak as a Christmas gift so it seemed the obvious choice.  I really like this book.  I had read Gone Girl in September last year and was a bit worried that it was the same book. And while they are similar, somehow Brown’s book left me feeling a bit happy and upbeat while Flynn left me weeping for humanity.  Often mystery books like Mean Streak are predictable and you  see the end coming early, but this wasn’t that book.  While it was sad in some spots, it has a positive message and tone that is important to me in my book choices.  I want to be inspired by what is good in this world, not brought further down by the reality that most people suck and we are all dying.  I know that; I want more from my forms of entertainment.  Besides, 2015 is my year for embracing optimism.  I have vowed to try and see the glass half full instead of always looking for the leak that is causing my glass to be mostly empty.

Speaking of seeing the glass half full, while in Maryland we stopped to do a quick wine tasting, ’cause it isn’t really a weekend if you don’t have some wine!  We picked a quaint tasting room in downtown North East called Turkey Point Vineyard.  We enjoyed the wine enough to purchase a few bottles to take home.  We are anxious to go back in a couple of years when they have harvested their newly planted Moscato grapes.

Schaefer's Canal House

Schaefer’s Canal House

And what is a trip to the East Coast without a few seafood dinners!  We stopped at two very different restaurants and had two different experiences.  We had some of the best calamari I have ever eaten just outside of Baltimore at a place called Crackpot.  The crab cakes were good, the lobster tail was delicious and the steak was not very good at all.  The atmosphere was nothing special, and that doesn’t bother me if the food is outstanding.  The food here was ok.  I would go back for appetizers anytime, but would not try dinner again and would definitely not recommend the surf and turf.  Schaefer’s Canal House on the other hand was outstanding.  We had dinner late on a Sunday night in the middle of winter, but I imagine in the summertime this place is absolutely stunning.  The drinks and drink menu were original.  The tuna appetizer was delicious and perfectly cooked.  The surf and turf came with perfectly cooked steak and amazing lobster tails, the crab cakes were filled with huge lumps of delicious crab and the service was top notch.  If you are ever anywhere near Chesapeake City Maryland,  on the north side of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, just west of the Chesapeake City canal locks, stop in and have dinner on the Canal, it is a beautiful place to be, even in the winter.

Book Review – #Girlboss

I got the audio version of this book free a while back, and honestly didn’t expect to ever actually read the book.  But I found myself on an unexpected long car trip recently with nothing else new in my Audiobooks app.  I was very pleasantly surprised at how entertaining and smart this book was.



I had never heard of Nastygal before.  This is most likely because my slightly overweight, over 40 body can’t fit any of their adorable clothes.  After reading the book, I had to check the site out and realized that they sell the exact clothes I WOULD wear if my body would just cooperate and allow some of this middle-aged fat to fall off.  I probably will purchase shoes and accessories as soon as my checking account stops bleeding money due to Christmas.  I digress. . back to the book.

I really like Sophia Amoruso, but I have always loved underdogs and rebels, so no real surprise there.  I think this book is perfect for 20 somethings wanting to start out on their own, 30 somethings thinking about starting something of their own, and 40 and 50 somethings looking to break out of mid-life career tar.  Sophia’s story is inspiring and she is right on.  I know not everyone can turn their dumpster diving into a million dollar business, but not everyone needs to.  I love how she repeatedly points out that hard work and determination are what really got her where she is.  I guess that is kinda the message of this book in a very tight nutshell anyway. . .work hard, dream big, and get it done.

Fun New Detective Series – by Joanne Fluke

cccmurderThe Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder is a fun book that came highly recommended, and free, from a friend. I don’t think I would have picked it up off the shelf, because I am ashamed to admit that I often base my book buying decisions on the cover art, and this one is sadly lacking.  It is a quick, easy read that is entertaining on a couple of levels.

I am still trying to decide if I liked the mystery or the included recipes best.  I really appreciate the main character, Hannah Swensen, as she is a strong, independent small business owner.  Hannah is not intimidating or overwhelming, and is therefore very believable as a main character from a small town.  Both the strong tie to the setting, Minnesota in this case, and the relationship between Hannah and her mother had me remembering my first Stephanie Plum mystery.  I haven’t tried any of the cookie recipes that were included throughout the book, but I do have plans to do so this weekend and will report back with pictures and a full review then.

For now, if you are looking for a cozy mystery to read at the beach or poolside, I would recommend this one for a quick and easy read.

Book Review – Innocent In Death by J. D. Robb

innocentindeath1I love Nora Roberts, and I love murder mysteries, so it is no great surprise that I am now completely hooked on reading all of the books she has written as J. D. Robb.  I discovered her back in 200o and at that time I went through and read everything she had ever written, but I did not read any written under the Robb pseudonym.  A friend had this book on her desk the other day and I commented about loving Nora Roberts so she insisted I read this one.  I am glad I did, but my family will be missing me soon, as I have found another series that is nearly impossible to put down.

Innocent In Death is a who-done-it murder mystery with just enough romance thrown in to keep it interesting and personal.  I love Nora Roberts’ characters, especially the women; I always find her heroines strong, passionate and sincere.  I will admit that sometimes the plot is a bit predictable, but the story is usually told well enough that it is still fun to follow along.  I read to be entertained, and I always find entertaining characters in anything Roberts’ writes.  As I finish the last pages of this book, I am already searching Amazon and Paperback Swap for other books with Eve Dallas as the main character.

Book Review – The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

A review of the Young Adult book The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood.

Book Review – Booked to Die

Booked to Die (Cliff Janeway Novels) is my first John Dunning novel, and it won’t be the last. I am actually looking for a copy of his book Deadline now.  I wasn’t sure what to expect with Booked to Die, as I hadn’t heard of it or the author before, but bookedtodie1when I read the synopsis over at Paperback Swap, I figured I may as well give it a chance. It is a mystery about a bookseller that combines two of my passsions, mysteries and books, which seemed worth a read.

The story line did keep me guessing a bit, but in the end, I did figure out who-done-it before the author revealed it. So I guess it is a bit predictable, however, I think it has enough twists and interesting turns to keep most readers interested. While it isn’t a complicated book, it is the perfect mystery for a blustery weekend in the Midwest when the roads are bad but there is plenty of coffee and soup to keep you toasty and happy.

And speaking of soup, if you are gearing up for a long weekend of reading, here is a link to an easy little recipe for homemade chicken soup over at Lifehacker.

Book Review – The Loop by Nicholas Evans

The Loop is certainly not a new book, and after meaning to read this for about 5 years now, I finally finished it this weekend.  It wasn’t that the book was hard to read or anything, I just keep getting side tracked every time I tried to read it.  It was a good book, and I enjoyed it a bit more than I did The Horse Whisperer, which was my first Nicholas Evans book.

The Loop is set in Montana‘s Big Sky Country, which is a fantastic place to spend a few hours in ones imagination.  I found myself wishing I was actually riding horseback through the streams and mountains that were being described.  As the cover indicates, some of the main characters of this book include a pack of wolves who have been reintroduced to the wilds of Montana.  I did a quick survey of this issue back in college, and the quick overview of the wolf situation in the book is actually pretty well done.  Both sides of the reintroduction program a covered quite well and it is difficult to choose a side, however, in the end the authors bias becomes the readers as well.

If you liked the Horse Whisperer, you will like The Loop.

Book Review – The Shack by William P. Young

My mom bought me a copy of this book and said I just had to read it.  As usual, Mom was right!  This book is amazing, and it is right up there with Randy Alcorn’s books on the same theme.  I was drawn to Randy Alcorn’s books after my first reading of Deadline.  Randy is a Christian author who takes what I have found to be a somewhat unique perspective on Heaven.  None of us knows for sure what Heaven will be like, but how many of us have really considered what it may be like?  Revelation reveals to us what the end of this Earth will be like, but does it really explain what Heaven will be like before the end times?  After the end times?   I can’t answer that, but I have learned from Randy that challenging preconceived ideas of Heaven can be a rewarding exercise that usually brings me to a deeper appreciation for the God of the universe.  Like Randy Alcorn did with Heaven, William P. Young has also encouraged me to go back to scripture to check out his assumptions, and mine, about who God is and what he expects.

So while I may not agree with every idea William P. Young puts forth in his book, I think that it is a very good book for adults to read.  I think that people who will read this book, and then go back to scripture and look for answers to questions that it will raise will really enjoy it and get a lot out of it.  I am even going to encourage my DD to read this book, as I think she has a deep enough theological basis to read it from.  But be warned, some of the ideas in this book are not traditional.  I believe that the main point of the book is very scripturally sound and is therefore good for instruction and has redemptive value. 

One more word of caution;  have plenty of tissue handy.