First Book Update!

Hey all -how is January going for you? Minnesota is as expected… SNOWY. Not my favorite time of year by any means however it does lend itself as more “indoor girl” time which means… more reading. While I have nothing impressive to report yet – (my days have been filled with work, meetings, event planning, article writing, and Kylie time!) – I do have vacation starting at the end of this month which I hope to fill days in the sun… with great reads 🙂

Here is the update to our First Book entrees for 2023. Thanks to all who participated – for the full list of books (linked) as well as all the pics for 2023 (this is just the update) – see the original post.

Have an amazing rest of your weekend!


1st Book of the Year 2023

This is definitely the most disorganized First Book event I ever hosted. Yet despite my lack of creating the event, posting my intention on Good Reads, and overall communicating – many of you came through with a first book! HUZZAH!
That said – if you did not get in on this year, I am extending photos to come in through January 7th. You can Facebook Message me (Sheila DeChantal) or email me I will update this post next Saturday.

For those of you who sent in – thank you! I believe I captured all of you in the following photos – if I missed you let me know. Below the photos, you will see the list of the books selected this year with links for you to find them yourself. You will also find several authors in the mix – and for myself… I show up twice as I could not make up my mind. 😀
It was an interesting year with few duplicates unlike past years – a diverse set of reads!

Thank you again! Happy New Year!

First Book of 2023 – The 10th Annual!

It’s Happening! I am excited to announce that this is the 10th Year of The First Book Event! If you put “First Book” in the search on this page you can bring up the years of fun posts and pictures of people all over the world with their first book of the year that they are planning to read or are reading into the New Year! It’s a great way to get ideas on what is being read and what to add to your own To Be Read list!

So what is First Book?  First Book is the first book you plan on reading in the New Year.  It can be a long-coveted read you have not had time for, a guilty pleasure read like a re-read of a favorite…  really it can be anything – it is…after all…YOUR First Book.

Make it AWESOME.

Then, once you have picked what it will be, email/ Facebook message/ text me a picture of you with the book (send it to  This adds to the excitement of the First Book.  You have between now and December 31st to send in your choice.  On January 1st I will post all the pics in a collage format of all of you around the world that are doing First Book.  I do hope you will join me – friends, family, fellow book lovers, a friend of a friend of a friend… you there in the corner looking at this crazy site for the first time – you as well.  I enjoy putting this together every year and seeing all the great books and pics come in really makes my heart smile.

Here are just a few of the over 100 books that came in last year:

It’s fun. It’s easy to do.
1. Take a photo of you with the first book you plan to read for 2023

2. send it to me – – or if you have my number text it to me or send it on messenger through Facebook.

Have FUN!!!! Happy Christmas!!!


The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

How crazy and sad to read about a woman who made a great impact on life as we know it – someone I had never heard of until I read this book. Elizabeth Packard – I will not forget. ~Sheila

In 1860, When Elizabeth Packard didn’t believe in religion in quite the same way her husband did, having her own beliefs and speaking her mind – her husband did what he had every right to do – he had her put in an asylum.

Mother of six, intelligent, and independent Elizabeth was sentenced on her husband’s word alone – no trial – to the Illinois State Hospital in Jacksonville, Illinois, overseen by Dr. Andrew McFarland. The conditions are horrific, and unclean, with the inability to go outside. Elizabeth quickly discovers she is not the only sane woman in the asylum – imprisoned for such things as – laziness, opinionated, and crazy – decidedly so by no court – but an opinion.

Elizabeth stays strong in her beliefs, fueled by the reality of what she is seeing, and makes it her mission to not only secure her own freedom – but of those who are also wrongfully accused – not only for the present but for the future as well.

My book club read this book for our September 2022 discussion. I for one was amazed I had never heard of Elizabeth Packard and the great strides she made for women. The book was engrossing and at times hard to read. I found myself looking things up to go deeper into the research of what had happened – including the list I found of things that women were sent away for. By that list, as you can see in the above picture of my book club that was present the night of the discussion – we all could have been put away for something.

I have been talking about this book to anyone who will listen. An important read that brought forth a deep discussion of the current changes in our world. Highly recommended. This was my favorite book discussion so far this year.


The Trivia Night by Ali Lowe

A little been there- done that… with a new twist. ~Sheila

From the wealthy community of the Sydney Suburbs, parents do what it takes to put not only their children in the lime lite – but themselves as well.
Amanda, newly relocated to this school is trying to make connections with the right women… in seemingly in all the wrong ways.
As the school’s Trivia Night fundraiser arrives in all of its glory the night takes a turn when the alcohol flows a little too freely and conversations go from polite to partner swapping to …

well, you are just going to have to read it for yourself.

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed Big Little Lies when it read it – AND I enjoyed it as a mini-service as well. The theme was fun and the book was good. When I read the synopsis of this book it gave me all the vibes of BLL, which in most cases is a cookie-cutter repeat no is a no in my book – however, I thought I would give it a try.

Let’s say – there is A LOT going on here. The multiple characters and changes lead to a confusing (for me) listen (I did this on audio). While parts were funny and I loved the narrator – there was a heck of a lot going on here and continues to pile on hitting all the hot issues throughout the book.
The opportunity (IMO) is that you never really get a chance to feel for any of the characters because there is no in-depth connection to them. With the players switching often, it took energy to follow who was who and in the end, it felt like I read a book I could not tell you a whole lot about.
It could have been me. Wedding season as an Event Coordinator splits my downtime into shreds and quite possibly my feelings about this one could be I did have the bandwidth to follow it as I properly should have. I would love other opinions on this one as for me – it was not the win I thought would be.


The Second Mrs Astor by Shana Abe

Lover of all things Titanic – I enjoyed this historical novel immensely. ~Sheila

Basked in the era of Titanic, Madeleine is seventeen years old when she catches the eye of John Astor. While Madeleine comes from money and is already seen as a high-class socialite, the name ‘Astor’ is nothing to scoff at. Recently divorced and 29 years her elder, John captures Madeleine’s hand and the attention of the Press’s pen. As they embark on a wonderful long honeymoon and Madeleine soon finds herself with child – the press is at bay even if some are still clucking their tongues about the second /Mrs. Astor.

As the couple makes plans to return home in April of 2012, they find themselves aboard the luxury ship, Titanic, about to set out on its maiden voyage. On that fateful night of April 14th, as Madelaine is placed into a lifeboat she has no idea that this is the last time she will see her husband.

Gorgeously written, this historical love story is both engaging and heartwrenching. There are many touching moments throughout the book ( oh the dog!!!) as well as a personal look behind the scenes of Madeleine and John’s relationship. I enjoyed this different look at those who held a first hand experience of Titanic.
For lovers of Historical Fiction, do not miss out on this book – or enjoy it on audio as I did.


Summer’s Child by Diane Chamberlain

You can always count on Diane Chamberlain to weave together a story that will keep you guessing and make it hard to put down until the very last page and you know the truth. ~Sheila

When 11-year-old Daria Cato sneaks out early from her North Carolina home to look for shells along the beach, she finds a newborn baby left along the shore. With no evidence of who the baby girl may belong to – Daria’s family adopts her, naming her Shelly and providing her a safe and happy home to grow in.

Twenty years later, Shelly is a young gorgeous woman who still lives with Daria in the Cato home. Daria as well as her sister Chloe love Shelly like a sister and will go to great lengths to protect her. When an old neighbor of the sisters comes back to the area set on digging into the mysteries surrounding Shelly’s birth – old wounds are reopened and a town that takes care of its own is found to have more buried secrets than anyone could have imagined.

I picked this book up recently at our Friends of the Brainerd Public Library sale and it came with me to Boston this past week. I first was introduced in Diane Chamberlains books in 2014 when I was helping a friends with her bees in Florida (true story). I spent many a long day working with bee hives and listening to Diane Chamberlain books on audio. I fell in love with her writing style – she has such a unique way of drawing you in and leading you to a conclusion that you do not see coming.

I have to say, out of all of the Chamberlain books I have read – this is my least favorite. While it still had the twists and turns I have come to know and love – there were several areas of this book that did not flow for me. Without going into too much detail so as not to create spoilers –

  1. Some of the language (words) used to describe certain characters felt outdated and improper – almost cringeworthy when I read them. (In her defense, maybe this was intended for setting the full feel of the book) yet every time I found this in the book it stopped the flow of reading for me.
  2. The way a few spots came together did not quite fit or flow as they should. I found myself thinking that it came together too easy, there eshoudl have been follow up questions, this should have raised a flag, etc… and yet it did not.

This is a book originally written in 2000 – so quite honestly, it is an older title of hers, and I belive possibly the oldest of her writings that I have read. While I still enjoyed the characters, the setting and the outcome (yes, I was surprised again – yet have follow up questions), I belive I will stick with her more recent publications.

If you have not read Chamberlain – I highly recommend you do! Her books are typically fantastic in book format as well as audio. Here is a link to reviews of her books I have read and enjoyed:

Big Lies In A Small Town
Keeper of the Light
Pretending To Dance
Necessary Lies
The Secret Life of Cee Cee Wilkes
The Midwifes Confession
The Silent Sister


The Scoop on The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Beautiful and heart Breaking… ~ Sheila

At first read, you would want to believe this is historical fiction – it has all the feels of one. So much so – I used “The Google” to see if there was an actress this was based on (oh, don’t pretend you didn’t check too ;P). Author Taylor Jenkins Reid was partially pulling from Elizabeth Taylor’s life, who had been married eight times – seven different men, as well as a few other actresses of the era including Ava Gardner who hired a ghost-writer to share openly in the book, The Secret Conversations. However she came up with the combination, it was brilliant.

But – I’m getting ahead of myself,

The Seven Husbands Of Elizabeth Hugu, is about an aging Hollywood Actress preparing to auction off a few gowns she famously wore in her hit movies. While many publications are chomping at the bit to get an exclusive to this story, Elizabeth chooses an unknown journalist,  Monique Grant.

While Monique is thrilled, she too is curious as to why she was selected. Even more so when Elizabeth discloses that she did not choose Monique to write about the dress auction, but instead, to write her memoirs – the truth of her life and each of her husbands, to be released upon her death.

What follows is an engaging tale of Elizabeth’s hard-won steps to stardom and the compromises she makes along the way. While Monique shows up day after day to record the star’s story there is much to reveal as well as a big reveal that is sooooo worth the wait. Quite literally, unputdownable as page after page pulls you into the storyline.

Hurrah for Taylor Jenkins Reid! I read this author years ago: Forever Interrupted and After I Do, and while these books were light and fun, they do not hold a candle to the TSHOEH. Admittedly, I have not read Daisy Jones and The Six (yet), which to my understanding is also a pretty amazing read.

My thoughts: Read The Seven Husbands Of Elizabeth Hugo. I believe you will be glad you did. Netflix is saying they are making a mini-series out of this book – exciting stuff (I will watch it) but as always – read the book first.

Banned Book Webinar Event

Holy missing blogger Batman! Where the heck have I been?

Well, I am here… and I am reading…. it just seems like there are not enough hours in a day to do “all the things.” (and I really really want to do ALL the things.)

I did however want to check-in to tell you about something that I hope is going to be cool. If you know me, you may also know that I have a huge passion for banned books. You know… it’s like someone picking on my friends…. and that – just can not happen. I will be hosting a live webinar this coming Tuesday, June 21 from noon to 1:30 pm Central Time. I will be covering the history of book banning as well as the current climate on banned books.

I hope you can join in! There will be an opportunity to send in questions during the webinar as well as those registered for this live event will be entered to win a few great titles!

Registration Link
Minnesota Association Of Library Friends

Morning Meanderings… Encanto… Why Didn’t Mirabel Get Her Gift

Good morning. *Insert COFFEE here*

I’m going off the beaten path this morning to talk about Encanto, one of Disney’s delightful movies. I had the opportunity to see this one in the theater, and then again more recently at home.
I loved it just as much the second time.

I won’t bore you with details – you probably know about the movie and that each one of the Madrigal family remembers receives a magical gift once they turn a certain age. Some of the gifts are more useful than others – but hey, it’s the luck of the draw… or in this case, it’s the turn of a knob.

The storyline centers around Mirabel, who, when it is her turn to receive her gift… nothing happened.


Don’t worry – the movie plays on and all is wonderfully well in the end. The question of course is, why didn’t Mirabel receive her gift like all the others in her family?
I am certain there are a gazillion theories as people dig into the clues and fun easter eggs that Disney is so great at tossing into their moves for those who like to level up. I have a thought and I am curious what your thoughts are as well.

*Spoiler Alert*
If you have not watched the movie – we are going into spoiler territory.
My thoughts on Mirabel in a nutshell….

she was the gift.

While the others all received a specific gift, I feel that Mirabel was meant to be the one to carry on after her Grandmother no longer can. Of all of her family, members she is the one who appears to be more carrying of others, more grounded, and accepting. A simple door to a room was not a big enough gift for her –
and the house knew it.


I could be completely off.

That’s my thoughts…. if you have seen it, what are your thoughts on Mirabel’s delayed gift?
(If you haven’t seen I recommend that you do!)