The Astronaut Wives Club (A True Story) by Lily Koppel

The austronaut wives club, Lily Koppel, Book JOurney, audio

Thank you to my friend Gail for recommending this one to me!  ~Sheila

1959.  We have all heard of the astronauts that have graced our history books… the first man in space, the first on the moon, those who followed, those… who did not make it.

Starting with project Mercury behind each of these original 7 men were 7 women who suddenly found themselves the center of the world’s attention.  What did they eat for breakfast?  How did they raise their children?  What were their greatest fears?  Their greatest triumphs?  It was all a bit much to be under this constant magnifying glass by NASA as well as the public.  These wives were expected to be perfect, look perfect.  After all… they were representing America.

Some of them thrived in the lime light, other worked hard to keep the details of their marriage under wraps.  The world expected nothing but perfection.  This led to the women creating the Astronaut’s Wives Club.  Together the women supported one another as each man went into space.  They were their, first and foremost, when as it happened, that the husband did not come back.

The wives from Project Mercury, The Kennedy Years, Gemini Missions, and finally the Apollo program were women who didn’t sign up for this assignment but they received it any way.  Some eventually divorced, and one, can not handle the great price her husband paid.  All….

had a story to tell.

This audio book was amazing.  It was so interesting to learn about the women behind the names we know.  If you think it is hard to be shot into space… imagine being the wife left back here on earth trying to hold it together while cameras and reporters are everywhere (even in your house) can capture your every emotion.

I really enjoyed listening to this in audio format.  Narrator Orlagh Cassidy is a new narrator to me and perfect for this book.  In fact many times I checked the case to read her name trying to submit it to memory so I can look up what else she narrates.  (For the record, it looks like she narrates many David Baldachi books).  Her smooth voice flowed through this listen, never a flaw.

I highly recommend this book or audio to those who enjoy non fiction history.  The book is like reading a fiction novel, it is not a difficult read at all and I enjoy spending time with these amazing women.

Side note:  I just read that this became a series on ABC, Thursdays 8/7c starting on June 18th.   Might be interesting!

  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 46 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Unabridged edition (June 18, 2013)

Morning Meanderings… A Place To Contemplate


Half way through the weekend.

Yesterday my cousin came over in the morning and helped me with a little project.  As I had mentioned before, friends had given us a wonderful memorial bench to put in the yard.  I moved it from one tree to another and could not find a place that I liked… a place where I thought I would use it.

Last Sunday while up town I seen our local grocery store had perennials on sale.  I am not very knowledgeable about plants but read their descriptions and picked out some I liked that would bloom at different times between spring and fall.  This is what my cousin and I worked on yesterday…

Book Journey, planting, memorial bench, Minnesota

My cousin Lesli

and then…


and even better… the night view…

PicMonkey Collage


I really like it even though I admit it drives me crazy that I have a need for a memorial bench in our yard… the very yard I grew up in… the yard I have walked and ran and played in since I was three years old and probably walked over this space so many times not having a clue what it would one day have placed on it.


I just don’t know how to do this.


Bookish news… I think I am starting a Shelley Noble book at some point today.  Beach Colors looks promising.  I leave here in a few minutes for a meeting in St Cloud and later on today a birthday party.  I am listening in audio in the car, just started Dead Wake: The Last Crossing Of The Lusitania by Erik Larson.  Its a little longer than I like at 13 cds but we will see how it goes today.

How are you spending your Sunday?

Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble

whisper beach, Shelley Noble, Book JOurney

Vanessa “Van” Moran stands right where she left twelve years before.  Having left her home town as a young girl heartbroken, betrayed, and alone, she had vowed she would never come back.

And yet, here she was.

When her cousin’s husband dies in a freak accident, Van comes to pay her respects.  Her plan is to get in and get out as quickly as possible and move on to her true vacation at a fancy resort many miles from Whisper Beach.  Since leaving Van has created a wonderful business in Manhattan that has made her quite successful.  Part of her reason for this brief visit is for everyone to see that she was now established, doing well, and this town had not broken her spirit.

Things never go as planned.

When the woman who helped her all those years ago Dorie, asks Van to stay a few days to help her with some business decisions, Van decided a few days can not hurt.  Her good friend Suze is also staying at Dories and it would be fun to catch up.  As long as Van can avoid the one guy who broke her heart and the girl that stole him away – she will be just fine.  Anyway, she can leave anytime she wants.

As I said, things never go as planned.




I really enjoyed Whisper Beach.  Once again I find myself locked in a beachy read centered around a triangle of old friends working on healing old wounds.  (When you read enough beach reads you really find a pattern).  It didn’t matter.  I liked Van.  I liked that she was successful through everything she went through in her younger years.  She was strong and broken – but not beyond repair…. I can not say the same for others in the book. ;)

Author Shelley Noble flushes out some very real issues with this book and those within.  I found her writing style to be engaging and while some of the characters you meet in Whisper Beach you really would rather not know- I still wouldn’t mind popping in and hanging out at the Blue Crab with Dorie, Van, and Suze…. and oh yeah… Joe.  I think there could easily be more to this story and I for one would be happy to come and visit Whisper Beach again.

Looking for a good read this summer?  Add Whisper Beach to your list.



  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (June 16, 2015)


Down The Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison

Down the rabbit hole, Holly Madison, Playboy mansion, Book Journey

Ok ok…. if you recently read my review of Suddenly One Summer and I said it was a bit racy for my taste this audio choice may surprise you – but let me say… this audio surprised me in a good way.  Narrated by Holly Madison herself about her time in the Playboy Mansion and beyond, this is actually way less graphic (in fact pretty much graphic free!) . Recommended – Interesting!  ~Sheila

Holly Madison was eventually known as the “#1 girlfriend” of Hugh Hefner after trying hard for quite a while to be asked to live at the Playboy Mansion.  This book is Holly’s story as told by herself, on working her way into the Playboy Mansion, the years of living with many other girls all hoping for their shot in the magazine or on TV,  and her career after.  Holly shares what living in the Playboy Mansion is really like, Hef’s very strict rules for the Bunny’s (like only two nights out a week and they had to be back by 9 pm and no boyfriends other than him- either of these two indiscretions would get you kicked out of the mansion.  Let’s just say – all is not as it seems.  Each girl had an allowance and a leased car that they paid for our of their allowance and was revoked if they decided to leave the mansion.  Plastic surgery and salon needs were unlimited.  The girls were never allowed to go out on their own or stay anywhere else but the mansion.

Holly shares what is was like living at the mansion for ten years, the girls that came and went, and the remaining three (including herself) that were the stars of the TV show, The Girls Next Door.  Down The Rabbit Hole, with fun references to Alice In Wonderland between chapters, is a tell all of one girls dreams to hit it big, what it cost her, and what she learned about herself along the way.

This choice of a read may shock you but I hope it doesn’t.  I chose to listen to this one from and Audible has a policy that is you don’t like it, you can return it and get your credit back.

What drew me to this audio?  1.  Cover.  I have to admit I like the cover.  2.  I like true stories and I especially like them when they are narrated by the author.  3.  As long as it wasn’t crude and rude, I was curious about Hef’s amazing way to lure in these poor young girls… was it money he offered?  Was it just the prestige of being a Bunny that was the draw?  What did they all do day to day?  4. I listened to a sample of the audio and was sold.  The few reviews that were up on the audio all raved about Holly’s tell all and I thought why not?

Honestly, I really enjoyed this audio book.  I knew next to nothing about the Playboy mansion other than what it was and of course the magazine.  I didn’t know that Hugh paid rent on each of the rooms he used for himself and each of the girls bedrooms as well as the Magazine owns the mansion, not Hef.  It was also really interesting to hear about all of Hef’s odd rules and angry blow ups including stomping is feet, screaming, and faking tears when he didn’t get his way.

When you hear all of this (including how old the items in the mansion were, that money was not invested in upgrades or new carpet which was stained with dog well you know… ), and a crotchety old man who is truly full of himself, you (I) have to wonder why Holly stayed as long as she did.  Holly covers that topic well and you start to get a real picture of these young girls wanting nothing more than attention and affection and living to be a Playboy Bunny.

The audio goes on to what Holly did after she left the mansion as well including her time with The Girls Next Door (and awkward scenes after she had left Hef), and Dancing With The Stars.

I realize that this is one person’s story – but if even half of what she says is accurate… wow. Very good listen and thankfully, a clean listen.  There is only one mention of what Hef expected from the girls (not as mush as one would think or probably have heard) and it is brief and thankfully not graphic.

Memoir lovers? Like to learn new things?  Add this one to your To Be Read (listened to) list.

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 10 hours and 51 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Harper Audio
  • Release Date: June 23, 2015

Morning Meanderings… Another Friday – Planting… Books… Weekend Happenings


Friday morning.

I woke up and looked at the clock… not quite 6:00 am.


But I am up… and awake… so moving on.  Laying in bed after I am awake does nothing good for me.

This morning I am going to work on a little out-door project, still trying to find the best place to put Justin’s bench and think I have a plan.

Book JOurney, Justin DeChantal, Sheila DeChantal

I found some perennials on sale last weekend and today I plan to dig out this section of lawn and lay down dirt and plant these lovelies around the bench.  I will do that sooner rather than later trying to avoid the high temps of the sun.  I am looking forward to seeing the final look of this.

While doing this I will finish up listening to Down The Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison (yeah – pleasantly surprised on this one!)  and afterwards finishing up Whisper Beach which I tried to complete last night but was just too tired to finish.  I have a coffee date early afternoon and maybe if Al gets home at a decent time we can go to a movie tonight.

Tomorrow we have a birthday party for a friend, and Sunday I have a morning road trip to St Cloud and then an afternoon birthday party for a child.

It sometimes amazes me how the world doesn’t stop and I have to find a way to hop back on the merry-go-round of life.  I do what I can and try to make appearances but at the same time know that when I am done I need to be done and I make no excuses for that.

Going into the weekend, what books/audio are accompanying you?

Suddenly One Summer by Julie James

suddenly one summer, Julie James, Book Journey

Victoria Slade prides herself on her “take care of herself attitude”.  As a divorce lawyer, she has seen her share of relationships gone wrong and has interest in adding her name to the list of relationship casualties.  When circumstances shake her stable world and cause her to move into a new apartment she finds her new neighbor Ford’s conquests to be unsettling.  Sure he is easy on the eyes but apparently she is not the only one who thinks so.

When Victoria winds up helping Ford’s sister with a case she finds herself teaming up with Ford who turns out to be an Investigative Journalist.  As Victoria and Ford try to keep a professional distance, they find a growing attraction for each other.  Yet Victoria still carries with her some remains of her past shake up that she is working through, and she wonders if Ford is the right person to put her trust in… and her heart.




Suddenly One Summer is a summer read with a few occasions of “hot writing”.  The story line is simple, predictable, and done before, with a few new twists added to change it up just a bit.  I personally could have lived without the frequent sexual happenings that were described in great detail.  Things seemed to move awfully fast for the neighbors who in the matter of days seem to go from avoidance to a hot passionate relationship.

I think I accidentally stepped into an author that now as I read more about her is known for her steamy romance writing.  I chose this one on the synopsis and the title (love that word Summer!) and probably read this one not realizing it was out of my comfort zone.

I listened to this on audio and the narration by Karen White was fun.  She narrated with a fast paced jaunty tone that I enjoyed giving a “fun feel” to the happenings in Victoria’s life.  I did enjoy that.



  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 9 hours and 43 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio
  • Release Date: June 2, 2015


Morning Meanderings… If Wishes Were

meme Another lovely day here in Central Minnesota. I am up early as usual.  COFFEE cup in hand I explore the deck off the back of the house, my way of bonding with the weather of the day deciding how to dress and mentally ticking off the “to do’s” of the day – or more likely in this time in my life, the lack of “to do’s”.  Just “being” is about all I can do right now.

I am having these…. moments. Moments I think, “What would Justin say about that?”  Imaging conversations in my head about his take on life happenings, Bouncing off the “what if’s” and planning for future get togethers. Get togethers I know (I know I know) can not happen. I think I am going to pick up a nice notebook and start writing things down that I would say to him just to put it out there. So much I have to say and no where to put the words.

Born with teeth, Kate Mulgrew, Whisper Beach, Shelley Noble   Books have really been my salvation.  I bury myself in reading and audio every chance I get.  Safer now to be in someone elses world than my own.  Yesterday I started Whisper Beach by Shelley Noble and I am devouring it…enjoying the beach atmosphere once again, friendships renewing, and a lovely vision of the Blue Crab Cafe which in my mind carries delicious aromas every time it is mentioned in the book.  Born With Teeth I am just getting into, still learning about Katie Mulgrew’s childhood…. new to my Audible listening is Down The Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison, a once “top bunny” of the Playboy Mansion (so that may sound like an odd choice to listen to but the sample was really good, so we shall see…)

Today I may tackle a garden project… undecided at this point but I have perennials to plant and an idea forming in my head.  Nothing big on my agenda today (thankfully!) and I think a quiet day here at home is just about as good as it gets these days.  My upcoming weekend has slowly filled up with “to do’s” and it makes me nervous to be that FULL.  I know life goes on, I see it all around me but I am not moving anywhere near the pace that it is.

bookends by Jane Green

bookends, Jane Green, Book Journey

After recently finishing one Jane Green book (Summer Secrets), I went to shelf that one and found this one that I picked up at a sale years ago…. with a title like that, how I could pass on it?  ~Sheila

Catherine, Simon, Portia, and Josh were the inseparable four during their college years.  Catherine (Cat) always the side kick who blended well with the rest enjoyed her cozy life and circle of friends and like her comfy sweater, she was happy with things just as they were.  Simon (Si) was always looking for love with just the right guy but love – true love for whatever reason eludes him.  Portia is tall, slender and gorgeous.  She is used to getting whatever she wants with just the blink of an eye but carries a coldness within her.  Josh wishes he could win Portia’s heart but has more or less given up on that dream.

Then one fateful night of poor choices and damaged egos breaks the group apart and Portia finds herself left behind.

Years later Josh is married to the delightful Lucy.  Cat and Si are still very single… Cat happily and Si not so much.  The four get together frequently for dinners and talks.  When Portia suddenly arrives back in their lives, her appearance unleashes events that threaten to push apart the friends.  At a time when Cat is starting to believe in love again she instead has to deal with her old friend and the damage that can be done when trust is not an option.

Score another one for Jane Green!  bookends was a delightful read and surprised me when I found out that bookends is actually the name of a book store within the book.  Well hello good story!  I enjoyed spending time with this group of friends as they lived out their dreams and their worst nightmares.  I find that it is a bonus when a book makes you wish you knew the characters in real life and that is what bookends did for me.

Jane Green once again surprises me with a fun light read with real life issues.  In bookends you will get it all – the fun, the pain, the reality of living in today world… the good, the bad, and the ugly.  It’s good to have good friends to help get you through.

Jane Green fans do not miss this one.  If you liked Summer Secrets, I think you will enjoy bookends as well.  Jane Green will be an author I keep an eye on.

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (May 27, 2003)


All The Summer Girls by Meg Donohue

All The Summer Girls, Meg Donohue, Book Journey

Kate Harrington, Vanessa Warren, and Dani Lowenstein were inseparable in their youth.  Then one summer choices that were made, a loss of a beloved friend and brother, and secrets separate the girls.

Now 8 years later, Kate is newly (and surprisingly) dumped by her fiance.  Vanessa loves her life as a stay at home mom but recent circumstances have her thinking about the guy she left behind so many years ago and wondering if she made the right choice.  Dani has a passion for writing but her old party habits of drugs and alcohol make holding down a day job near impossible.

When Kate calls the old friends together for an emergency “forget about him”  weekend at her fathers beach house in Avalon, Vanessa and Dani jump at the chance to reunite and escape their own worlds for a while.  Yet can the girls return to the setting of their unraveling?  Can the secrets that have been hidden all these years remain buried?  Sometimes those you think you know so well you find out you really don’t know at all.




Yes, yes, it is another book with three women looking out over the water… much like the last book I listened to.  I admit it, the covers call to me… they speak of friendships and I like reading about friendships.

All The Summer Girls is a book with teeth.  While at first sight you may think that this is another light beach read that is good but will not really stick you beyond the last page, but I have to say that is not the case.  All The Summer Girls surprised me – a few twists caught me off guard and I was impressed with what I did not see coming.

I listened to this book on audio and enjoyed narrator Heather Henderson’s voice for the book.  A good quick listen/read with a story line that impressed me.


One funny happening while listening to the audio that I have to share….  there is a part where the girls go out and are dancing.  A guy approaches Kate and when she introduces herself I thought he responded, “I’m gay.”  When listening I thought, oh good, he is just looking for someone to dance with then.  A couple of chapters later when he comes up again, I catch it this time… his name is Gabe.  :oops:  That one is on me.  ;)




  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 7 hours and 27 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • Release Date: May 21, 2013


Morning Meanderings… The Morning After


Sunday morning.  Feeling…





Yesterday was the benefit for Justin in St Paul.  I was jittery all week about it… the day looming over me.  Honestly, I had no idea how crazy hard is would be to see your child’s face on a poster for a benefit.  It’s one of those things you look at and you say, “that just can’t be right.”  Justin’s co-workers and friends are so AMAZING.  What an outpouring of love this event was.  Al and I had friends trickle in as well… it’s a good 2 1/2 drive from Brainerd to St Paul so we didn’t expect many to come from Brainerd but were happy to see a few that made the trek.

One nice surprise was a girl I graduated with.  Tina and I go back all the way to grade school when her mom made us Little House on the Prairie dresses for something going on at school.  I remember we both had the long dresses and bonnets and thought we were “it.”  :)  It was so good just to have a chance to catch up a bit… part of the craziness of all this that is going on in my life is the amazing support of friends and this is just another example.

Sheila DeChantal, Tina Beyer

Tina and I

and then before we left part of the staff at Sweet Pea’s came and had a picture taken with Al and I.

Al DeChantal, Sheila DeChantal, Book Journey, Sweet Peas, St Paul, Minnesota

Three of Justin’s amazing co-workers: Will, Hollie, and Erica with Al and I


So today… laying low.  Another holiday, Father’s Day.  Brad is coming over later with his girlfriend Brittany and we will grill for dinner.  Looks like it will be a beautiful day here in Central Minnesota and that is good.  I need to find the beauty in each day.  Maybe a little reading on the deck this afternoon and maybe I get to mow a bit (you know I love to mow).



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