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.

Sheila

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.



Sigh.
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.

Sheila



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.

Sheila

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

Enjoy!
Sheila


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