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.
Zippo.
Nada.
Nothing.

Awkward.

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.



And….

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!)

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel

an incredibly engrossing read that touched my heart in so many ways. ~Sheila

Penn and Rosie have a houseful of boys. Four to be exact. When Rosie becomes pregnant for the 5th time, both Penn and she feel this time it will be a girl; but alas they find they have another perfectly wonderful boy.

Claude is a complete joy and the perfect addition to the happy family. When Claude chose to play dress-up over trucks, Penn and Rose were happy to oblige. When Clause wished for his hair to grow long, they let his hair grow. When Claude wanted to wear a party dress for his first day of school and carry a purse as a lunch box; while his parents hesitated, ultimately they want their child to be happy and comfortable in his choices, so a party dress it was.

And here is where it begins.

While Penn and Rosie could keep their child perfectly happy when he was in their home, the outside world was not so open.

When the school called to say the way Claude was dressing was a distraction to the other students.

When people whispered when the family went on outings.

When the kids begin to tease…

“For my child, for all our children, I want more options, more paths through the woods, wider ranges of normal, and unconditional love.”
― Laurie Frankel, This Is How It Always Is


This is a book you must experience.

Admittedly, this took me a while to write this review. I wrote… I deleted… I wrote again. I wanted to get it right. There is so much that is so good in this book.


Is it perfect? No. And it shouldn’t be. Rosie and Penn are amazing parents. Weaved within the pages, Penn, a stay-at-home novelist, tells a wonderful story to the children centered around a non-descriptive character called Grumwald. Rosie, a Doctor, balances a career and her family. As Claude encounters new obstacles, the parents make decisions that they hope will be for the better of all; upending their lives in ways that can and will spin out of control.

I really enjoyed reading this book and found it to be different than anything I have read before. It made me think. My only small complaint is the end wraps up a little too quickly and neatly – but again, that could be my perception and perhaps I am just bitter that it had to end at all.

A timely read. This would be a wonderful discussion book as there are so many things to discuss. I can’t wait for others to read this book because I really do want to talk about it.

*Author Laurie Frankel writes this as a fictional book, that also touches a little on her own experience of raising a transgender child. Be sure to check out her website (I recently downloaded another of her titles: One, Two, Three. )

So This Is January…

There is something about January.

Maybe it’s the end of the holidays, the slightly slower pace of life…

or maybe it’s just that it is a new year… new possibilities.

January seems to be the time when I turn more to my love of books and to this site where I can talk books with other book lovers. Book Journey after all was the beginning. This site was how I learned about the Book Expo in New York and attended many years and met many amazing reviewers that I am proud to call friends. This is where I connected to my local Library and became involved in the board; not only with the Friends Board but the City Board as well as State. This is where I started connecting to Authors and Publishers which led to Wine and Words (about to celebrate 10 years!)….
and all of this…
It is why my son’s bench (funded by fellow bloggers, friends, and Publishing houses) sits at the Brainerd Public Library to this day.

So this is the why. The why I love this site and while I go a little radio silent when my life gets busy… I always return.


The heart wants what the heart wants….

So… On to the books. The books, pictured above are the books that have come into my home this week.

The Barrens by Kurt Johnson and Ellie Johnson (sent from the Author) :

Two young women attending college decide to have a summer adventure canoeing the rapids-strewn Thelon River that runs 450 miles through the uninhabited Barren Lands of subarctic Canada. Holly made the trip once before with a group of skilled paddlers she trained with at camp, and she wants to share that experience with her friend and lover, Lee, believing it will draw them closer. But a week in, Holly, the risk-taker, falls while taking a selfie near the edge of a cliff. She is left injured and comatose, and soon dies. Their locator beacon for summoning rescue was smashed in Holly’s fall. It remains to Lee, the inexperienced paddler, to continue the grueling and dangerous trip alone, to save herself and return her lover’s body to civilization and Holly’s family.

The Why: The author sent me an email and I thought it sounded interesting.

House Of GUCCI by Sara Gay Forden (given to me by my friend Brenda Johnson):

On March 27, 1995, Maurizio Gucci, heir to the fabulous fashion dynasty, was slain by an unknown gunman as he approached his Milan office. In 1998, his ex-wife Patrizia Reggiani Martinelli–nicknamed “The Black Widow” by the press–was sentenced to 29 years in prison, for arranging his murder. 

Did Patrizia murder her ex-husband because his spending was wildly out of control? Did she do it because her glamorous ex was preparing to marry his mistress, Paola Franchi? Or is there a possibility she didn’t do it at all?

The Gucci story is one of glitz, glamour, intrigue, the rise, near fall and subsequent resurgence of a fashion dynasty. Beautifully written, impeccably researched, and widely acclaimed, The House of Gucci will captivate readers with its page-turning account of high fashion, high finance, and heart-rending personal tragedy.

The Why: Brenda purchased for herself but could not get into it. I know a little about the story but nothing I really followed – we will see 🙂

The Fashion Orphans by Randy Susan Meyers and MJ Rose (sent by Randy Susan Meyers):

Estranged half-sisters Gabrielle Winslow and Lulu Quattro have only two things in common: mounds of debt and coils of unresolved enmity toward Bette Bradford, their controlling and imperious recently deceased mother.

Gabrielle, the firstborn, was raised in relative luxury on Manhattan’s rarefied Upper East Side. Now, at fifty-five, her life as a Broadway costume designer married to a heralded Broadway producer has exploded in divorce.

Lulu, who spent half her childhood under the tutelage of her working-class Brooklyn grandparents, is a grieving widow at forty-eight. With her two sons grown, her life feels reduced to her work at the Ditmas Park bakery owned by her late husband’s family.

The two sisters arrive for the reading of their mother’s will, expecting to divide a sizable inheritance, pay off their debts, and then again turn their backs on each other.

But to their shock, what they have been left is their mother’s secret walk-in closet jammed with high-end current and vintage designer clothes and accessories— most from Chanel.

Contemplating the scale of their mother’s self-indulgence, the sisters can’t help but wonder if Lauren Weisberger had it wrong: because it seems, in fact, that the devil wore Chanel. But as they being to explore their mother’s collection, meet and fall in love with her group of warm, wonderful friends, and magically find inspiring messages tucked away in her treasures — it seems as though their mother is advising Lulu and Gabrielle from the beyond — helping them rediscover themselves and restore their relationship with each other.

The Why: Sent to my by the author, sounds like a fun and interestign read.

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens (purchased by me at the airport):

Laura’s business trip to the Channel Islands isn’t exactly off to a great start. After unceremoniously dumping everything in her bag in front of the most attractive man she’s ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel only to realize she’s grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation? The irresistibly appealing contents of the case: a copy of her favorite book; piano music; and a rugged, heavy knit fisherman sweater only a Ryan Gosling lookalike could pull off. The owner of this suitcase is Laura’s dream man–she’s sure of it. Now, all she has to do is find him.

The mix-up seems written in the stars. After all, what are the odds that she’d find The One on the same remote island where her mom and dad had first fallen in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their epic romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like her best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents’ footsteps. And if beneath Ted’s gruffness lies a wit that makes their cab rides strangely entertaining, so much the better. But as Laura’s long-lost luggage soulmate proves difficult to find–and as she realizes that the love story she’s held on a pedestal all her life might not have been that perfect–she’ll have to rethink her whole outlook on love to discover what she really wants.

The why: It looked good fom the airport selections and they have travel bags on the cover lol

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse (purchased by me at the airport):

Half hidden by forest and overshadowed by threatening peaks, Le Sommet has always been a sinister place. Long plagued by troubling rumors, the former abandoned sanatorium has since been renovated into a five-star minimalist hotel.

An imposing, isolated getaway spot high up in the Swiss Alps is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But Elin’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when her estranged brother, Isaac, and his fiancée, Laure, invite her to celebrate their engagement at the hotel, Elin really has no reason not to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge–there’s something about the hotel that makes her nervous. And when they wake the following morning to discover Laure is missing, Elin must trust her instincts if they hope to find her. With the storm closing off all access to the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

Elin is under pressure to find Laure, but no one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they are all in.

The Why: Looks a little spooky and there was a refernce to The Shining

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave (my purchase for our February Book Club Read):

Despite her confusion and fear, Hannah Hall knows exactly to whom the note refers: Owen’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Bailey. Bailey, who lost her mother tragically as a child. Bailey, who wants absolutely nothing to do with her new stepmother.

As Hannah’s increasingly desperate calls to Owen go unanswered; as the FBI arrests Owen’s boss; as a US Marshal and FBI agents arrive at her Sausalito home unannounced, Hannah quickly realizes her husband isn’t who he said he was. And that Bailey just may hold the key to figuring out Owen’s true identity—and why he really disappeared.

Hannah and Bailey set out to discover the truth, together. But as they start putting together the pieces of Owen’s past, they soon realize they are also building a new future. One neither Hannah nor Bailey could have anticipated.

The Why: Book Club selection – sounds good and I have been curious about this author.

There they are. It’s the weekend, I have a little house cleaning to do, the Peloton awaits, and I work later today until late afternoon. Hopefully a little reading time later.

Happy weekend!
~Sheila

The Fashion Orphans by Randy Susan Meyers and MJ Rose Virtual Launch Invite!

I love me some book mail! And I love love me some author mail so you can imagine my delight when a package came this week from the amazing Randy Susan Meyers with this gorgeous book. I have had the pleasure of hanging out with Randy twice now at the local Wine and Words event, and I met MJ Rose while at the Book Expo in New York. Having a book in my hand that is a combination of these two authors’ talents?


EXCITING STUFF!

Two estranged sisters find that forgiveness never goes out of style when they inherit their mother’s vintage jackets, purses… and pearls of wisdom

You can see the full synopsis on Goodreads. The book release date is February 1st AND YOU ARE INVITED to a virtual book launch on February 3rd at 7:00 pm Eastern time.

I hope to see you there!

~Sheila

The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

A historical fiction read based on the midwest Blizzard of January 1888

Om January 12th, 1888, a winter storm came out of nowhere on a relatively mild day. Children in schoolhouses were not dressed or prepared for such a storm – nor were the young teachers, barely older than some of the students they taught.

Two sisters, Teachers of two different schools that were in the path of the storm make very different choices. One becomes a hero, and one will spend the rest of her life seeking absolution.

In the end, over 235 confirmed deaths, many of them children, were the result of this storm that covered states such as Minnesota, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. 

They deserved to be treated like people, not rungs on the ladder to heaven.
~ The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin

This book was our Bookies Book Club read for January. We thought it would be an interesting read due to the storm taking place in Minnesota and it being a January storm. I missed the group discussion of this read as I was in Florida so the review here is mine alone.

I found the book interesting and the fictional story that wove throughout the pages held my attention. It is a part of our history that is surreal and heartbreaking. While not the easiest of reads, I am glad I had the opportunity to read it.


Would this make a good book club read? Yes. Based on a true story there is much to talk about the storm as well as the liberties the author took to create the fictional thread.

An article about the storm

The Keepers of Metsan Valo by Wendy Webb

“Wendy Webb brings the mystical … the what ifs, every single time. You can always count on a bit of magic in one form or another and it’s one of the things I so love about her books.”
~Sheila

Anni Halla is once again returning to Mersan Valo, her family home set on Lake Superior where she holds many of her fondest memories. This time however, it is because her cherished Grandmother Takia, keeper of the most whimsical stories, has passed away, and Anni is angry at herself for not having returned sooner.


As the family slowly arrives for the final goodbye and the reading of the will, Anni is joined by her twin brother Theo, her mother Arden, Aunt Gloria as well as cousins and other family members – all with an assortment of reasons to be there – some more honorable than others.


As they settle in, strange occurrences start to happen – although that in itself is not unusual for those who have spent time ay Metsan Valo, especially for the twins. This time however, there is something off, almost sinister in the air, leaving Anni wondering how much of her Grandmothers stories were actually stories, and what is to happen now that the storyteller is gone.

Wendy Webb once again does not disappoint. I know I am always in for a read that will have me thinking long after that final page is turned. I love not only the stories, but the bonus of having the settings in areas that are familiar to me just adds to the mystical journey.

I enjoyed this tale centered around folklore. It made me think of my own Great Grandmother and the tales she used to tell as I sat raptured as a child with my head filled with the imagery of her words. The Keepers of Metsan Valo brings with it not only colorful, but likable characters (even the ones you kind of at times.. don’t like so much). A recommended read and one I very much enjoyed sinking into while on vacation.

Book Club Worthy? You bet! There is much to discuss surrounding folklore, tales handed down through the generations, your own strange encounters, as well as a lot of tasty food mentioned that would be fun to make as well.


Wendy Webb is the author of many delectable gothic suspense reads. She resides in my home state of Minnesota.

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

I loved it… and then it changed… and then I loved it again. ~Sheila

Fifteen seconds. That’s all it takes to completely change everything about a person. Fifteen seconds that we’ll never get back.

Lily’s life was never one you would define as easy – in fact, it is probably anything but. And that is exactly how we find her in the opening of this book – on an apartment building rooftop contemplating the non-eulogy she has just completed that afternoon as Ryle Kincaid walks into her life.

Ryle is a neurosurgeon and looking for a little mental break on the roof that evening and Lily can not help but notice he is not hard on the eyes. While they have a friendly chat, Ryle is very clear that he does not believe in relationships beyond a night – and Lily is very clear that is not something she would ever be interested in. The two of them part ways with no intentions of ever running into one another again.

Until they do.

As a friendship starts with a possibility for more – Lily finds that for the first time in a long time she can imagine a future with an incredible guy. When an unexpected blast from the past turns up, Lily is left with more questions than answers and finds that everything she believed is about to be twisted in ways one could not imagine.


This is my first book of the year. First Book for me doesn’t work like it used to where I usually have that book read within a day or two of the new year. Nope. Between work and life commitments sitting down with a book is not as often as I would like… which is why here we are a week into the new year and I have just finished my first book.

You know those books that grab you right from the first page? This is such a book. I started reading it on a plane two days ago with every intention to read a bit and then sleep as the day had started at an ungodly early time…. yet the book grabbed me in such a way I could not put it down. I read the entire 3 hours on the plane, and then again that evening and finished by a pool in Florida yesterday afternoon.

I absolutely loved the flow of the book and loved where it was going.

and then it turned.


With that turn I didn’t see coming and didn’t want to happen, I suddenly was unsure of how I felt about the book. I wanted it to be a fluke and keep on the way it had started.

But it wasn’t. And it didn’t.

And then, I loved the book again – for a whole lot of other reasons. I loved its strength and its hard truth – and Lily for being… Lily.

I believe this is my first Colleen Hoover book. It will not be my last. I highly recommend this book for so many reasons. It will leave you wanting to talk about it. It will leave you with something more than when you started.

~Sheila

First Book Update and What’s Up 2022!

Happy 2022 ya all! I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend and are ready to roll into this new year with good thoughts, intentions, and of course – good reads.

I updated the First Book post this morning to add in the pics that came in yesterday. Check it out – the list is a good one and I picked up a few new reads for myself as well.

In my pic, I have my Bookish Secret Santa gift that I am so excited about! This is Author Wendy Webb’s latest book, The Keepers of Metsan Valo. I love Wendy. She is a Minnesota Author and I have hung out with her several times (a couple of those times at Wine and Words!). Wendy writes fantastic Gothic Suspense books and I believe I have read everything she has written.

This book, along with a few others I will be chatting with you about over the next few days, will be going with me to Florida later this week when I get a little sun time for 10 glorious days. I love that our vacation is so early this year – for one… 2021 was a HARD work year with many weeks working 70 to 80+- hours a week as an Event Coordinator and I can really use the reset. Secondly, starting a new year with time to actually read always inspires me to get back into the routine of blogging here and sharing all the things – which I miss doing, however, time does not always allow.
Perhaps… this is the year.

Is this time of year a good time for you to read? Is there a season where you tend to read more?

Check out Wendy Webb here!

~ Sheila