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Reviews Written by
Sheila A. Dechantal RSS Feed (Brainerd, Minnesota)
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The Sky is Everywhere
The Sky is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
Edition: MP3 CD
Price: $14.99
2 used & new from $14.99

5.0 out of 5 stars If you like John Green you are going to like this book., February 28, 2013
This review is from: The Sky is Everywhere (MP3 CD)
Oh wow! I laughed out loud and a t times stifled a cry at the tone of this book. Jandy Nelson writes like John Green and that is a HIGH HIGH compliment coming from me.

~ Sheila

17-year-old Lennie and her older sister are Bailey are two peas in a pod. Bring raised by their grandmother the two girls find comfort and companionship with each other as their mother had went out "exploring" one day and never came back. When Bailey suddenly dies, Lennie is beside herself with grief. When Bailey's boyfriend Toby starts hanging around they console each other and Lennie feels that Toby may be the only one in the world who feels the pain of loss as deeply as she does.

Then a new boy comes to town. Joe is everything Lennie would like to be. He is confident and talented and oh soooo good-looking. When they meet each other in music class Lennie feels a spark she never knew existed and they start hanging out together. Yet Toby is still there and when Lennie is with Toby she feels as though she is close to Bailey as well, even though her attraction to Toby disgusts her and she feels guilty that he was her sister's boyfriend - and as she finds out along the way - even more than that.

How do you move on from a life that centered around a sibling that knew you as well as you knew yourself, that not only shared your room... but shared your heart. How does one go on living... go on breathing the air in a world you once shared?

First off.... every one who has already read or listened to this book and raved about it please feel free to kick me for not reacting sooner. It always amazes me when an incredible read is sitting right under my nose and by the time I pick it up I am stunned to realize it is a book I am probably going to love forever.

Meet The Sky Is Everywhere.

I listened to this book on audio while I was painting and it engaged me right away (always a plus). I was not bogged down with an overload of background story, characters to remember, places to recount, and facts to store... Nope. Right away The Sky Is Everywhere opens up and reveals its heart and it's heart is Lenny.

For someone who has experienced grief over the loss of a sibling, I can honestly say Lennie's pain, Lenny's attempts to hold on were very real. My heart broke with hers as she clung to hr sisters memory trying to stay within its shadow and not let any light in... I have been there.

Yet - miraculously, life does go on, if we want it to or not. In this book Lenny's moving on is wonderfully "teenagerish" (yet growing up too) , and engaging listening. Kudos to the narration by Julie Whelan who had my at times laughing at Lenny's reaction to her environment and at times holding back a sob. Honestly, I have not been this excited about this style of read since I discovered John Green.

I believe if you enjoy John Green, you are totally going to get The Sky Is Everywhere and feel like gushing about it too. Do not hesitate to run to your local book store and pick up this wonderful book


Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955
Devastation on the Delaware: Stories and Images of the Deadly Flood of 1955
by Mary A. Shafer
Edition: Paperback
44 used & new from $9.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frightening and fascinating all rolled into one very good read!, February 15, 2013
Delaware in 1955 was experiencing a drought like no other. Crops were crispy dry, and farmers feared an entire loss for the harvest season. When hurricane Connie and Diane were in the area farmers had hope that the rains they would bring would save the crops. And at first... that's what seemed to be happening.

Then on August 18th the rain storm took a turn for the worse. The two hurricanes brought down record rainfall over the next three days, causing some parts of the river to raise 30 feet within 15 minutes. Homes were torn from their foundations, vehicles overturned, resorts were washed away and 400 children were to be rescued from a camp ground by helicopter.

When all was done, nearly 100 people were killed, some of the bodies undiscovered until 30 years later and some still, have never been found.

Devastation On The Delaware is both fascinating and devastating at the same time. There were times while reading this I held my breath, feeling was about to happen as the pages turned and there was nothing I could do to stop.

Sadly, this is one of those world events that I had never heard of prior to my book club choosing to read this book for our February review. I have read many true stories on disasters through my life and this one in the beginning drew me in as it felt a little like the movie Twister, where the people had little to no warning before the waters went from the lake to encompassing the city.

While a book of this topic could seem a heavy read, Mary Shafer expertly keeps the reader engaged with stories from survivors that are both at times lite and funny, and yes, of course sometimes bring tears to your eyes. The book is also filled with engaging pictures of the flood and maps of the areas affected by this horrific storm. While Mary talks about weather pattern and other storm related data but not in a way that it goes over this readers head. She speaks in terms that I could certainly comprehend and imagine what the storm had to be like.

Mary brings a lot of people into the telling of the disaster and that is my only real struggle with the book is that I like to know the people being written about and many people are hard to follow who is who and usually sends me (and did) back paging to find the person again and go "oh yeah, that's the one that....". This is truly a "me" thing and others may have no trouble navigating the stories and those within each one.

Written in such a way that I felt I could have been there watching that water rise, Mary's book is one not to be missed by those who like to read about history and events that changed our world and the people who experienced it forever. I was truly appreciative of the book and this will be one I will certainly keep on my shelf and refer to in the years to come.


The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
by David Wroblewski
Edition: Audio CD
56 used & new from $0.24

3.0 out of 5 stars A book that had great potential, February 6, 2013
Edgar Sawtelle, born mute, lives a fine life at his home in Wisconsin. He works on the family farm training dogs. When Claude, Edgar's uncle and brother to his father shows up, life takes a sharp turn for Edgar. When Edgar's father suddenly dies, Edgar thinks something suspicious is going on. When Edgar sees his Uncle pushing his way into the role of his father, in more ways than one, it is the final straw.

Edgar flees from the only home he has never known with his three dogs. While away his travels cause him to grow up and prepare himself to return home and face his fathers murderer.

It's hard to explain what I thought of this audio. While the storyline is interesting, it felt long and not overly eventful. As I type that this sounds harsh. I can't quite put my finger on why it wasn't a great listen for me. It is well written and an interesting synopsis. I think there are several loop holes in the book, for instance, there is a lot of questions brought up about the dogs but it never is a completed thought. There is also a section (my favorite) where Edgar meets a man named Henry, this part of the book later to me comes into question as it felt like it was left as an unfinished segment of the story. Or... maybe in both these cases author David Wroblewski is writing brilliantly and counting on the reader to be able to complete the thought of the unknown and I just didn't get it


A Stolen Life: A Memoir
A Stolen Life: A Memoir
by Jaycee Lee Dugard
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.60
300 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Be ready to be horrified, but also amazed., January 30, 2013
In June of 1991, Jaycee Dugard was like any other 11-year-old. She went to school, she had friends, and rode her bike. She lived in California and had a one year old baby sister.

Then just like that, she was stolen.

A van pulled up, a pretense of asking for directions and she was gone.

For the next eighteen years of her life, Jaycee was held captive by Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy. She was kept in a locked and hidden shed in their back yard. During her first six years of captivity Jaycee gave birth to two of Phillips children. By the age of seventeen she was a mother twice over all the while painfully missing her own mom and wondering if she would ever find her way home again.

In August of 2009, Jaycee and her daughters were discovered and rescued.

In her own words, this is her story.

When I first seen this book on the store shelf I was vaguely familiar with the story. I brought it home and started reading it and be sure when I tell you this, the first 50 pages of this book are hard to read mainly because of the detailed telling of what happened to Jaycee at the age of 11. I think it would have been easier to handle if the book would have been written by a third-party, but the fact that Jaycee wrote this book and relived the details of her early days of captivity gave it an even more impact of emotion on me.

This is not to say it is not a worthwhile read. What Jaycee endured all of those years is shocking, painful, insane, and yet you see this young girl hang on to hope and a dream of someday being free.

At first I was not sure I would like the writing, the beginning of the book felt a little cold and matter of fact when Jaycee described in great detail what happened those first few days and weeks. I felt as though perhaps she had distanced herself from this painful period by writing as though she was writing about what happened to someone else. Then, almost as quickly as I had that feeling, it went away and Jaycee's story of eighteen years of dealing with two very disturbing people pulls you in page after page. I found myself wanting to get back to the read whenever I could because I wanted to know what happened and how she would finally be discovered and rescued.

"The more knowledge I gain, the more like an adult I feel. I never got this chance to become an adult."

~Jaycee Dugard


The Gilly Salt Sisters
The Gilly Salt Sisters
by Tiffany Baker
Edition: Hardcover
90 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Pass the salt please! AWESOME!!!!, January 27, 2013
This review is from: The Gilly Salt Sisters (Hardcover)
In the village of Cape Cod, the Gilly's are known for their salt farm. The sisters grew up working the farm and knowing the hard work of mining salt under the watchful eye and guidance of their mother. Jo, the older of the two, embarrassed what the salt brought to her community and to her life, Claire however felt differently, being pretty and popular she could not get wait to get away from the burden that to her was all the salt offered... and she would find a way out no matter what....

even if it meant marrying the son of the family who caused the Gilly's the most grief... wealthy Whit Turner. When a fire destroys the relationship between the sisters, and Claire's high school sweetheart turns his heart to other things, Claire escapes into her life with Whit.

Of course, as Claire soon learns, money and prestige are not everything.

Then the tides turn again and Claire finds herself brought full circle, back to the past she had escaped, and along with her the pregnant mistress of her husbands. Jo and Claire together work to make things right in Cape Cod, learning to accept each other and seeing that sometimes all you need is a little pinch of salt.

I have had my eye on this book since I first seen the cover. The title is catching and the cover drew me in. Thankfully, this book was not just a surface love, within its pages (or in this case, within the audio)I found a tale that was both interesting and delightful all rolled into one. Author Tiffany Baker (who is also the author of The Little Giant of Aberdeen County) has a fun wit about her and there are so many great quotes in this book...

"There was no etiquette guide in the universe that told you how to handle waking up in a house you'd fled from as a teenager with your estranged sister in one room across the hall and your husband's pregnant teenage mistress in the other."

It was really interesting learning about the salt, and I liked the almost "magical" aspect they gave it... not knowing what the salt would do and believing that ones fate could be tied to the salt. There is also the strong differences between the sisters that you can appreciate, Jo always loyal to a fault, and Claire strong and independent to the point of her own almost destruction... together they level each other out.

Narrator Angela Brazil had a nearly flawless performance as she seamlessly made her way through the cast of interesting characters without pause. This was one of those books you could not wait to know how it is all going to end, and at the same time you dread knowing how it is all going to end because that is of course... the end. And honestly, I did not want it to end.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of this amazing read. While I listened to it on audio, I suspect it is just as wonderful and engaging in book format. Keep your eye on Tiffany Baker, with writing like this I cant wait to see what she comes up with next.


Ashes
Ashes
by Ilsa J. Bick
Edition: Paperback
Price: $6.24
88 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Another interesting read involving EMP's this time in YA, January 26, 2013
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This review is from: Ashes (Paperback)
Alex has her own demons to face. Having been dealt a hard hand in life, she decides to take a long hike up into the woods for some time alone to ponder and to take care of some unfinished business with her parents. Her alone time dreams are brought to a stop when she meets up with an elderly gentleman and his granddaughter Ellie along the way. Alex finds no harm in being polite and spending some time with them before being on her way.

Suddenly a flash pulses through the sky and before her eyes the elderly gentleman slumps over, dead and Alex finds herself coaxing a very scared young Ellie and her dog to join her as they try to get out of the woods and figure out what is going on.

Along the way Alex and Ellie find that people have changed and some, not for the better. Some teens seem to have gone mad, killing one another and Alex is not sure who she can trust. When she meets up with Tom in a circumstance that causes her to trust him, she learns that the flash was an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that has wiped out the world's electricity - no computer, televisions, IPODS, MP3′s, cell phones, watches, and most cars are just a sample of what has changed in the flash.

But what is up with the changes teens, and as Alex moves forward and meets more people how does she know who she can trust in a world she no longer feels familiar with...

Yowza. Ashes took me by surprise and pulled me right into the story. I liked Alex and sympathized with her cause. And this whole EMP topic, really gets you thinking. (I first read about EMP's in One Second After).

I listened to this one on audio and while Katherine Kellgren kept a sweet and engaging pace in her reading, her voice didn't seem to feel right for the characters she was reading. She has almost a sophisticated tone to her voice and right from the start it seemed off for the book, although I enjoyed the story so stuck with it and by the end it didn't bother me so much except for the occasional screeching. (Mmmmmmm hmmmmmm screeching)

That aside, the book is fast paced and interesting. Warning: it does end rather suddenly and at a sort of cliff hanger moment too that can be taken as "OOOH exciting" or "What the" annoying. I fell somewhere in the middle. I, was surprised that it was over, even checked the audio to be sure, but curious to want to know what is next. Thankfully, Shadows, the second book in this trilogy is out and I ordered it right away - but this time in book format.


Will to Murder: The True Story Behind the Crimes and Trials Surrounding the Glensheen Killings
Will to Murder: The True Story Behind the Crimes and Trials Surrounding the Glensheen Killings
by Gail Feichtinger
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.81
64 used & new from $0.40

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating reading., January 25, 2013
On June 27th, 1977, an intruder broke into the Glensheen Mansion located on Lake Superior in Duluth Minnesota. The only occupants in the large home at the time were the lone heir to the million+ dollar estate, Elisabeth Congdon (83) and her nurse Velma Pietila. The intruder would leave with a basket of jewelry and a few other small items, but not before they murdered the nurse beating her to death with a candlestick, and smothering Elisabeth with a satin pillow.

The investigation quickly led in the direction of Elisabeth's adopted daughter Marjorie and her husband Roger. According to Elisabeth's will, upon her death Marjorie would receive 8 million dollars. Three days prior to the murders, Marjorie had authorized a paper stating that once her inheritance came to be, her husband would receive 2.5 million of the given amount. When police investigators turned up where Marjorie and her husband were staying, missing items from the house were found in their possession; which Marjorie claimed were copies of the real jewelry made and given to her perviously by her adopted mother, Elisabeth.

50 years earlier Elisabeth Congdon in her early 30′s having never married, adopted two daughters, Marjorie and Jennifer. Marjorie had always been one looking for the quick fix, expecting everything to be handed to her even long after she had married and moved away. She continuously asked Elisabeth for money for one idea or another, even stooping as low to forge a doctor's letter saying her husband had a serious illness.

As the case went on, Roger and Marjorie were both tried for the crimes, Roger was convicted, and a year later Marjorie was acquitted. What follows in the book is a continued investigation into Marjorie's life, her growing up as a Congdon and her continued self-destructive lifestyle that led to even more deaths... none of which she was ever arrested for.

The Congdon story is one that is quite close to me literally. The mansion itself is located in Duluth Minnesota, 2 1/2 hours from my home in Brainerd Minnesota. The trial was moved to Brainerd and in July of 1978 the jury found Roger Caldwell (Marjorie's husband) to be guilty of the crimes.

At the time all of this was taking place I was 10 years old. It would be 12 years before I would hear about the murders and with my husband's property in Finland Minnesota, find that I drive by the Glensheen Mansion every time I go through Duluth to the cabin. After the first time I toured the mansion with my sons and husband, I wanted to know more about the family and what had happened.

There are many books out there about the Glensheen Mansion, the Congdons, and the murders. I have read quite a few but find this one to be the most detailed account of the property, the background, the trial, and the continuing craziness of all the surrounds Marjorie to this very day. There is even later DNA testing that was not available at the time but was found to link both Roger and Marjorie to the crimes and calls into question her acquittal.

Yes, this book is true crime but it is much more than that. It is the story of a home that took many years to build, its the story of a family, and of an adoption. It is a piece of Minnesota History.

I have probably toured the Mansion 10 times now, mostly because I have friends who want to stop and do the tour that have not been there before. It is always well taken care of, like stepping back into time, the original fixtures remain, pictures on the wall, furnishings... Originally they had the third floor not available for tour (this was the floor that contained Elisabeth's bedroom) but in the last few years they have expanded the tour to include the third floor as well as the attic which contains large rolls of curtains that the family would use to change out the drapes seasonally as well as all their Christmas decorations.


Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay
Born This Way: Real Stories of Growing Up Gay
by Paul Vitagliano
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.45
88 used & new from $0.01

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Real Stories od Growing Up Gay, January 24, 2013
Paul Vitagliano knows first hand what it is like to grow up gay. Even in today's day and age it is still hard to find acceptance without judgement so in 2011 Paul started the blog site "Born This Way" which is a place to share stories and support for the LGBTQ community. The blog exploded with responses, so much so... Paul wrote this book, Born This Way, filling it with pictures of boys and girls at young ages and their stories about when they knew and what it was like when (and if) they came out and told their families and friends.

The short stories share what growing up was like. In some cases there was name calling and bullying which led to many of these children keeping to themselves and doing anything they could to avoid conflict.

The book is a quick read, the stories are short and sometimes funny, and sometimes heart breaking. In many cases, by the time they told family and friends, they had known and were just waiting for them to tell them. In other more heartbreaking (and thankfully rare) circumstances, families turned their backs... not understanding. Yet story after story no matter what the outcome, each person said life was so much better once they said it out loud and were their true selves.

This book is a short read but a powerful one. I smiled at the stories, occasionally laughed, and yes, at times my heart broke a little too. Everyone deserves to be accepted and Paul Vitagliano has taken great steps towards doing just that.


Level 2 (Memory Chronicles)
Level 2 (Memory Chronicles)
by Lenore Appelhans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.03
71 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars And now for something completely different..., January 22, 2013
Felicia Ward is now in a place that is out of this world. Literally. Since her death right before her eighteen birthday things has been a little...
off.
Felicia now lives in a place called Level 2 where she and the others there spend time in "pods" where they access memories from their life day after day after day.
Then one day someone that Felicia knew on earth breaks into her chamber and this is no memory, this is real! Julian in life was a dangerous distraction... and now here on Level 2, Felicia has to wonder what his motive is for looking her up. Julian wants to break her out of her chamber saying there is a war going on and Felicia is a big part of if they succeed or fail. Though reluctant to trust Julian, he makes her a promise that is she goes with him now, he will make sure she sees Neil again, the one she loved more than anything.
Felicia follows Julian and learns there is way more to Level 2 than meets the eye and a battle is about to begin... a battle of souls and Felicia is right in the heart of it all.

Level 2 is my favorite type of YA fiction, when you take our world and make it different.... JK Rowling did it in the Harry Potter books, and Lenore Appelhans does it in Level 2. See, in both of these books/series, the world as we know it still exists... there is just something more that we do not know about it.
Lenore creates a sub world that is both dismal and intriguing, after all- on one hand you have full access to your memories and you program them in your mind just like you would watch a DVD that was programmed into your mind, reliving all your favorite moments with all the feelings and all the emotions... on the other hand that is all you have is your memories.
I enjoyed Level 2. I like Felicia's spunk, Julian's mysterious ways, and Neil's goodness. Level 2 itself is a great world character filled with new unthought-of things that fully engaged me and at times, frightened me... (wait until you hear about the lakes of the underworld....)
Level 2 is a wonderful read and in the end it left me feeling there must be more, I hope there is more.


The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime That Scandalized a City & Sparked the Tabloid Wars
by Paul Collins
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.27
207 used & new from $0.01

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars AN interesting historical fiction based off a true crime, January 21, 2013
1a6

June 26, 1897, New York. A farmer in Long Island is startled when he finds that his duck pond, and his ducks are red with blood. Meanwhile, two boys playing on a pier on the Lower East Side discover a human floating torso wrapped in oil cloth. In Harlem, blueberry pickers find neatly severed limbs in a ditch.

Who was this mystery man? No witnesses... no suspects, and there was no head.

In the midst of this hideous crime two of the big media moguls Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph's went after the media side of the case without holding back. The headlines battled one another, reporters lurked around looking for suspects, awards were posted for the finding of the head and even children took to the streets for a chance at winning the loot.

Considering this is based on a true crime... truth really can be staggering than fiction.

In the end, what is discovered is beyond imagination for the time....

Murder of The Century was interesting. I had not considered before what newspapers went through to get the big scoop and in this read you discover that not too much is off-limits, including one part where the one newspaper company sends all of its reporters out to cut the lines on the phone booths so when the other newspaper got there to call in their notes, they would not be able to.

As the murder unfolds and people come forward a trial starts that is also quiet interesting and eventually a solution to the crime that is both surprising and through provoking.

My only complaint is that somewhere int he middle it bogged down.... suddenly the audio felt long and I was waiting to get interested again, which I did... but not a big fan of books or audio that drag out.

Fans of true crime I think will enjoy this for the amazing story and a gruesome crime that is unthinkable and when you hear the motive behind it....


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