Wednesday, June 30, 2021

I have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg


Title:  I have Something to Tell You

Author: Chasten Buttigieg

Read by:  Chasten Buttigieg

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 7 hours and 18 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio.  Thank-you! 

What is your favorite memoir?  What type of memoirs do you like to read – political figures, Hollywood figures, etc.?

I love to read about the spouses of politicians.  With June as Pride Month, I thought it was time to read about the spouse of the first gay man to run on the national stage for president.  Chasten Buttigieg is Pete Buttigieg’s husband.  I had heard a brief summary of their love story, but I didn’t really know much about Chasten Buttigieg himself.  I love Pete Buttigieg.  I loved him as a presidential candidate and I’m very impressed by his performance so far as the Secretary of Transportation. I’ve been reading articles about how he gets along with everyone on both sides of the aisle and really knows his infrastructure facts.  As an engineer, infrastructure is something I love.  I was happy to hear in this audiobook that he will talk about sewer management in detail.  I am ready to go out to dinner with Peter and Chasten Buttigieg.

The world may know him as Mayor Pete, but to Chasten, he is his husband, Peter.  In I Have Something to Tell You, Chasten writes a heartfelt memoir that was humorous at times, but also serious.  Chasten wrote about his childhood growing up in conservative Northern Michigan and the difficulties of coming out as a gay man.  He had a period of time where he contemplated suicide and he has experienced sexual assault.  He went to college at a local community college and then in Wisconsin at UW-Eau Claire.  He also went to college in Milwaukee as well.  He had been unlucky in love, until he met Peter Buttigieg.  Chasten was up front on their first date that he was looking for a serious relationship.  This made me laugh out loud, as I think many of us have been there.  As Chasten grew used to his role as First Gentleman of South Bend, he also found a fulfilling job as a teacher.  Things were thrown into a loop when his husband decided to run for President.

Chasten wrote openly and honestly about life on the campaign trail as the spouse of a candidate.  It seems that he dealt with things well, but I felt for him that he didn’t get to see Peter much.  The book ended with them back in South Bend after the campaign was over.  My only sadness is that it didn’t continue the story to their current life in Washington DC.  I’ll be ready for his next memoir.

I feel like I’m not adequate here for how much I loved this memoir.  Chasten seemed very down to earth and really told his story warts and all.  One of my favorite parts of the book was when he was very stressed out about Peter finding out about his college and medical debt.  Peter took it all in stride, got out a spreadsheet, and taught Chasten how to manage his finances.  I loved that so much.  They both seem like such good people.  I really enjoyed learning about his work with middle school kids as a teacher and for the LGBTQIA+ community while on the campaign trail. 

I related to Chasten as I also grew up in a rural conservative community in Michigan and now live in Wisconsin.  I am not LGBTQIA+, but I am an ally.  I felt like this book was very down to earth and as I said before, heartfelt on explaining the joys and difficulties of coming out as a gay man in America.

I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by the author Chasten Buttigieg. I always love when an audiobook is narrated by the actual author, especially a memoir.  Chasten Buttigieg is a middle school drama teacher, and this fact made his narration so fun to listen to.  Some authors are a bit dry but Chasten was always so interesting.

Overall, Chasten Buttigieg’s I Have Something to Tell You is a great memoir exploring the life of a political spouse that is genuine, warm and enjoyable.


My Sister, Daisy by Adria Karlsson

My Sister, Daisy is a beautiful picture book.  Narrated by a big brother, it tells the story of how his little brother was born and they played together as children.  One day his little brother came home and said he was a girl, and his name was Daisy.  He explained he now wanted his pronouns to be she/her.   Big Brother and his parents question it, but they accept it.  “I realized that you were still the same person, and we could play the same games.  We still had fun!”  The family uses books to educate themselves and other childhood friends on being transgender. 

 The book goes through the emotions of the big brother where he has good days, but bad days where he is frustrated and called Daisy by the wrong name.  He was also jealous of the new clothes and items Daisy gets.  He expresses his frustrations to his parents, and they tell him, “Daisy is the same person.  And now we understand what to call her and who she is inside.”  The family works through it, and it ends on a happy note.

 The illustrations are beautiful, and I love the note from the author at the end describing when their daughter figured out, she was transgender.  The author couldn’t find any good books to share with her older son to understand so she wrote this book.  I love that.

 I thought this book was a great book to explain transgender to all kids.  It’s a bit young for my 10-year-old, but she has been asking questions, so we read it together.  It helped her a lot to understand what transgender means.

 Overall, My Sister, Daisy is a wonderful children’s picture book that explains a sensitive subject in a heartfelt way.


Monday, June 28, 2021

One Last Stop by Casey McQuiston


What is your favorite book or movie that contains time travel elements?

I have loved time travel since I was a kid watching Star Trek, Back to the Future, and Somewhere in Time.  I love to read any books with time travel elements involved.  One Last Stop is the June selection for the Brenda Novak Book Group, and I was excited to read it.

August has moved to New York City and has found a new job at a diner, and an apartment full of eclectic characters.   As she gets to know them, they become a family.  August meets a mysterious and attractive woman named Jane on the subway.  Soon she starts to wonder why she only sees Jane on the subway and never anywhere else.   She determines that Jane is stuck in a time loop.  How can she get to know Jane and break her out of the time loop?

Characters are one of the most important elements to me in a novel, and McQuiston writes excellent characters in One Last Stop.  Jane and August were fully fleshed three dimensional characters, and the supporting cast was wonderful as well.  I loved that McQuiston was able to give a voice to LGBTQIA+ characters and show their struggles and joys.  I really loved Jane.  She was part of so much in the 1970s as a queer Asian woman.  I feel like she could have a spin off novel of her own.

My one negative with this novel is that it got bogged down in the middle.  A lot of it had to do with the paranormal and time travel elements not making much sense.  After listening to Brenda Novak’s interview with Casey McQuiston, it’s starting to make sure more sense to me.  She’s going for more the Kate & Leopold vibe where love prevails, but you don’t really know why it does with the paranormal / time travel element.

Favorite Quotes:

“Truth is, when you spend your whole life alone, it’s incredibly appealing to move somewhere big enough to get lost in, where being alone looks like a choice. . . “

“But engineering as a career kind of murders your soul, and my job pays me enough.”  Hey – I like being an engineer!

“Nobody tells you how those nights that stand out in your memory – levee sunset nights, hurricane nights, first kiss nights, homesick sleepover nights, nights when you stood at your bedroom window and looked at the lilies one porch over and thought it would stand out, singular and crystallized, in your memory forever – they aren’t really anything.  They’re everything, and they’re nothing.  They make you who you are, and they happen at the same time a twenty-three -year0old a million miles away is warming up some leftovers, turning in early, switching off the lamp.  They’re so easy to lose.”

“Sometimes I wonder if I fell out of time because I never really belonged where I started, and the universe is trying to tell me something.”

“Those are the worse reasons to break the laws of space and time.”

Overall, One Last Stop is a unique novel with great characters that does get a big bogged down with the time loop details.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Net Galley and St. Martin’s Publishing Company.  Thank-you!


Sunday, June 27, 2021

From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle


From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle

Title:  From the Ashes

Author: Jesse Thistle

Read by:  Jesse Thistle

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 9 hours and 55 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio.  Thank-you! 

 What book by or about Indigenous people have you read or is on your "to read" list?

 At the start of June, I read the sad news story of the remains of 215 Indigenous children that were found at a boarding school in Canada. It inspired me to read From the Ashes by Jesse Thistle. I first learned about these boarding schools as an adult teaching at a local college. A couple of my students told me about how they had existed in Wisconsin and had wiped out much of their tribal culture. I was horrified.

 From the Ashes is author Jesse Thistle's memoir of what it was like going up Indigenous, but not knowing about his culture. He had a very hard life and always felt displaced. The police took custody of him and his two older brothers one day when his dad didn't return home. Jesse was three years old. His paternal Grandparents raised him until he disobeyed their rules and was found with drugs. He was kicked out and homeless.

 Jesse spiraled into years of drugs, homelessness, and bad decisions. It was hard to read about. He finally was able to turn it around and pull himself back up into a good life filled with love. He reconnected with his mother and learned the history of his people. He earned a college degree and married the woman he loved. He is now an expert on homelessness in Indigenous cultures. It was very inspiring, and I would love to read more from Jesse Thistle.

 I listened to the audiobook which was narrated by the author Jesse Thistle. I always love when an audiobook is narrated by the actual author, especially a memoir.

 Overall, From the Ashes was a very inspiring and heartfelt read. 

Under Currents by Nora Roberts

Under Currents was the June read for the Page Turners Book Club at the Kewaunee Public Library.  We had a lovely lunch time meeting this month in the library garden.

Zane Bigelow is abused as a child by his domineering father. Unfortunately, his mother is in denial about the abuse that she also receives and calls it love.  A tragic event changes the trajectory of his life.  As an adult, Zane has moved back to his small town.    He meets a beautiful and mysterious landscaper, Darby, and is ready to start life afresh.  Forces work against the two of them to make their lives very difficult.  Will they be able to move on from the past?

I enjoyed this book, and we had a good discussion about it.  The toughest part for I think everyone was reading the horrific child abuse at the start of the novel.  Warning that if this is a trigger point for you, this would not be a good book for you. Abuse was an experience that Zane and Darby shared and understood about each other. The first part of the novel set up the villain for the novel, the middle part of the novel Zane and Darby fall in love, and in the last part of the novel they battle the forces working against them.  My one downfall for this novel was that there was not one, not two, but three different villains in this novel to contend with.  It seemed a bit over the top to me.

It was a fun part for the novel for me that Nora Roberts made Jane Austen connections.  The bad ex husband was named Trent Willoughby and the characters point out that he is Willoughby like in Sense and Sensibility.  Unfortunately, this meant when another character showed up with a Jane Austen villain last name later in the book, I knew who he was instantly.

I liked the small-town setting and how Darby’s business was able to grow through word of mouth.  I also loved how friends and family came together to help everyone out.  It was refreshing to read about.

Favorite Quotes:

“Nice to live where people knew you and took time to say hello.”

“She couldn’t think past the two children, living in cruelty and fear and violence.  And somehow surviving it, not being dragged down by those ugly currents.

Overall, Under Currents is an enjoyable suspense novel that has a few too many villians.

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library – Thank-you!

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao


Title:  Rent a Boyfriend

Author: Gloria Chao

Read by:  Emily Woo Zeller & Feodor Chin

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 9 hours and 56 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio.  Thank-you! 

Chloe has a problem.  Her Taiwanese – American parents already disapprove of her going to the University of Chicago and majoring in Economics.  Now they are pushing a rich man, Hong Bo, on her as a potential husband.  Hong Bo is a terrible person and has been bullying Chloe her entire life.  In desperation, Chloe rents a boyfriend from “Rent for your ‘Rents.” 

Drew is estranged from his own strict Taiwanese – American family as he has dropped out of college and is an artist.  In order to make ends meet, he works for Rent for your ‘Rents and is specially trained to impress strict Asian parents.  What he doesn’t expect is to fall for one of his clients. As Chloe and Drew continue their fake dating, will they form a real relationship?

I greatly enjoyed this audiobook. This book had a dual narrative between Chloe and Drew that were voiced by two different voice actors, Emily Woo Zeller and Feodor Chin.  I LOVED this.   It made it such a fun listening experience.  I loved the banter between the two characters.   This novel had a great mix of humor, romance, and dealing with the Taiwanese American experience.

I also enjoyed that at the start of the novel, author Gloria Chao explained that renting a boyfriend is a real life practice in some Asian Countries.  Women will rent a boyfriend over holidays like the Lunar New Year to alleviate pressure from their family to marry.  Chao fictionalized this and put it in an American setting. 

This is a Young Adult novel and was a clean novel.  There is some kissing, but nothing more than that.  It was more about the romance and family relationships.  I liked the struggle that both Chloe and Drew have as they try to make their way in America, but still hold onto traditions their family has from the old country.

I started listening to this audiobook in May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, but I didn’t finish it until this month.

Overall, Rent a Boyfriend was a delightful and fun book.  I greatly enjoyed it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer

Family Reunion is a perfect summer story set on the beautiful island of Nantucket.  Eleanor Sunderland has retired to her big, beautiful, old home on Nantucket Island.  Her husband has passed away, but her family comes to visit for the summer and the holidays.  Her daughter Alicia, and son, Cliff, feel that she should sell the family home for the millions it is worth and split the money with them.  Eleanor’s only grandchild is Alicia’s daughter Ari.  Ari has recently completed college and broken off her engagement, much to her mother’s dismay.  She decides to spend the summer with her grandmother.  Will Eleanor and Ari be able to figure out where they want to go in life?

I enjoyed this family drama.  I especially loved the special relationship between Eleanor and her granddaughter Ari.  I had my own special great grandmother that I used to visit in Indiana every summer.  I love that Eleanor and Ari understood each other just as I felt my Great Grandma Norma and I understood each other.  I also loved that Eleanor was one of the main characters as a seventy something woman.  I love when older people are the focus of the story.  It seems that most novels only feature 20- or 30-year-old.

The only complaint I had about this novel was that the dialogue was clunky at times.  Cliff and Alicia also drove me nuts with their focus on their mother’s estate and feeling that they deserved the money.  Unfortunately, this does seem to happen in families. I did love that Ari and Eleanor focused on helping the kids at Beach Camp.  I also loved that Ari was focused on what made her happy and helped others rather than focusing on money.

I read Family Reunion in May for the Brenda Novak Book Group.  I greatly enjoyed Brenda Novak’s interview with Nancy Thayer at Nancy’s house on Nantucket.  It was great fun.  You can still see this interview on Brenda Novak’s Facebook page, and I highly recommend it.

Favorite Quotes:

“Summer was almost here!  Eleanor Sunderland sat on her deck looking out at the eternal Atlantic, savoring the view.  Above in the sky, diamond-tipped stars were appearing, one by one, and Eleanor could hear the gentle shush of the waves on the shore far below her.  The scent of long, sunny days drifted in with the light salty breeze from the sea.”  I loved the vivid descriptions of the island and thought this was a great opening paragraph!

“Soon the house would be gone.  But the ocean would always remain.”

“I’ve never been happier in my life.” – I loved this ending line!

Overall, Family Reunion is a good Women’s Fiction and Family Drama novel with a beautiful setting.  It’s a perfect summer read!

Book Source:  Review copy from Netgalley and Ballentine Books.  Thank-you!!

Thursday, June 10, 2021

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides


What is your favorite thriller novel?

I’ve been hearing a lot about The Silent Patient and I was very excited to win it through a giveaway on Instagram from @booknerdwatercolor.  I finally read it last week and I couldn’t put this book down!

Alicia Berenson is a famous painter married to her beloved husband, photographer Gabriel.  One night when Gabriel returns late from work, Alicia shoots him five times in the face.  She never speaks a word again but does paint a haunting self-portrait.  Psychotherapist, Theo Faber, is obsessed by Alicia’s story and jumps at a chance at a new job at the facility where she is staying.  He wants to work with her and get her to talk again.  Will Alicia finally reveal what made her snap?

I loved the short chapters that kept the plot moving through this novel.  I found the mystery to be very intriguing.  I really wanted to know why Alicia wouldn’t talk and what caused her to murder her husband.  Unfortunately, I did figure most of this one out.  I had read an Agatha Christie novel in the last few months with a similar reveal.  If I wouldn’t have read that book, I don’t think I would have figured it out.

Favorite Quotes:

“Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband.” – Great First Line!

“We’re all crazy I believe, just in different ways.”

“Love that doesn’t include honesty doesn’t deserve to be called love.”

Overall, The Silent Patient was a riveting thriller.

Book Source:  Won from @booknerdwatercolor on Instagram.  Thank-you!

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen


Title:  Pride and Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Read by:  Alison Larkin

Publisher: British Classic Audio and BMA

Length: Approximately 13 hours and 29 minutes

Source: Purchased from Audible.

 Pride and Prejudice is my go-to book for a relaxing read.  It’s a book I’ve read many times and enjoyed and will continue to enjoy into the future.

I’ve reviewed this novel several times on this blog, so I won’t go into a detailed review here.  I do love listening to it as an audiobook.  Austen was meant to be read out loud as it was in her original time to her family.  Every time I reread Austen; I always get different points out of it. My random thoughts this time were as follows:

  •         I just love Elizabeth Bennet. Her personality just shines off of the page.  I love that she has her own opinion and doesn’t just follow others.  I also love her wit.
  •          Mr. Darcy’s change is so wonderful.  He is certainly dismayed by Elizabeth probably being the first person in his life to tell him that he wasn’t always behaving properly.  I like that he reflected on it and worked to rectify the situation.
  •          I felt so bad for Jane.  When Bingley came back, she wasn’t sure what to do.  Were things going to pick up again?
  •         I get so used to watching the movies, that I forget just how long the ending is in Pride and Prejudice.  There is so much good detail that I enjoy that the movies all cut out.
  •         I always loved Mr. Bennet in my teenage years, but I get more annoyed by him with every read of this book.  He is funny, but he certainly is indifferent to the problems in this family.

 Alison Larkin is a wonderful narrator.  I enjoy her light British accent and soothing tones.  Her mannerisms and voices for the characters are wonderful.  I always look for her as a narrator now when I’m searching for audiobooks.

There are also Regency songs sung by Alison Larkin at the end of this audiobook that I enjoyed.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is a wonderful book to treasure and the audiobook by Alison Larkin is excellent.

Monday, June 7, 2021

White Ivy by Susie Yang


Title:  White Ivy

Author: Susie Yang

Read by:  Emily Woo Zeller

Publisher: Simon & Shuster Audio

Length: Approximately 12 hours and 51 minutes

Source: Review Copy from Simon & Shuster Audio.  Thank-you! 

 White Ivy is an epic American story of one woman’s quest to live the American dream.  Ivy Lin appears to be a sweet and quiet young Chinese girl.  She has a special something that draws people to her.  Her grandmother uses her as a cover to steal things at yard sales and thrift stores.  Ivy learns from her how to become a great thief herself.  She has one best friend, Roux Roman, who has a complicated home life as well.  In middle school, she develops a crush on Gideon Speyer.  Gideon is the son of a senator and lives a gilded blue-blooded life that Ivy envies. After she lies to her parents to attend a party at Gideon’s, they send her to visit relatives in China for the summer.  When she returns, she discovers her parents have bought a house in another state.  Her relationship with both Gideon and Roux is gone.

 As an adult, Ivy returns to Boston as a teacher.  She runs into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, and soon is dating Gideon.  As their relationship progresses, Ivy wonders, what does she want out of life?  Can she achieve her American dream?  What lengths will she take to ensure this?

 Ivy is a complicated anti-hero that reminded me strongly of Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind or Becky Sharpe from Vanity Fair.  I wanted to like her as she is the heroine and root for her story, but she is an unlikeable person.  I did admire her determination. 

 I really liked the overall story and was surprised by how things went in the story.  It really drew me in.  It reminded me of a modern day An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser or The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton.  These are two of my favorite novels.  I really like the story of a person going to any length to achieve the American Dream and pull themselves up into a higher class.  I will be reading more works by author Susie Yang.

 Besides Ivy’s social climbing, this book was a great coming of age novel.  Ivy’s relationship with her mother and her grandmother is complicated.  I really enjoyed the growth of these relationships throughout the novel.


For any that read this book – what did you think about this ending?   I thought it was interesting that Ivy had her “happy” ending unlike the endings for Clyde Griffiths of An American Tragedy or Lily Bart of The House of Mirth.  Is Ivy’s ending really happy though?


 I read this book in May for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month with the #diversiteareadingchallenge hosted by @booksnparchment on Instagram.   White Ivy was also a Read with Jenna selection.

 Emily Woo Zellner was a wonderful narrator and I thought of her as the voice of Ivy.  It was a compelling audiobook to listen to and I couldn’t stop listening to it!

 Favorite Quote:

"All her life, she had sought something she couldn't name. Love? Wealth? Beauty? But none of those things were exactly right. What she sought was peace. The peace of having something no one could take away from you."

 “That was the thing about getting too much happiness at once. Without time to adjust, the pain of not having it suddenly became unbearable.”

 “In the same way water trickles into even the tiniest cracks between boulders, her personality had formed into crooked shapes around the hard structure of her Chinese upbringing.”

 Overall, White Ivy is a compelling story with a complicated heroine trying to live the American Dream. 

Friday, June 4, 2021

A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

I read a Pocket Full of Rye as the May selection for the Read Christie 2021 challenge.  The theme for May was a story featuring tea.

Rex Fortescue has just drunk a new cup of tea when he has a violent reaction and dies at a nearby hospital.  Mysteriously his pockets are found full of rye.  What caused his death?  Inspector Neele is immediately on the scene.  He discovers there are many who would wish Rex’s death, including his own family.  When Miss Marple arrives on the scene, she helps him to realize that the death is part of a story rhyme. “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocketful of rye. . .“  Who is the killer and where will they strike next?

I thought I had this one figured out – but Agatha Christie got me again.  I love her twists, turns, and surprises at the end.  This was my first Miss Marple mystery and what surprised me is that she wasn’t present until about one hundred pages into this novel.  I was surprised that she didn’t appear for so long and was a secondary character to the main inspector.  I’m interested to learn whether this is true for all of her novels or not.  Nemesis, another Miss Marple mystery, is the selection for this month.

Favorite Quotes:

“Confronted by the unexpected, her poise was shaken.”

“Human nature is much the same everywhere, is it not?”

Overall, A Pocket Full of Rye is an another great Agatha Christie mystery.  I can’t get enough of them!

Book Source:  Purchased from

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Pride and Prescience (Or a Truth Universally Acknowledge) by Carrie Bebris

Pride and Prescience is the first novel in the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series.  I read this book when it first came out in 2004, but just read it again as one of the May selections for the JASNA Northwoods Book Club.  I was glad to read it over again as with the passing of time, I had forgotten much of the story!

Pride and Prescience starts immediately after Pride and Prejudice.  Miss Elizabeth Bennet has just wed Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and is displeased that Miss Caroline Bingley has used their wedding breakfast to announce her own engagement to the mysterious Mr. Frederick Parrish.  Miss Bingley and Mr. Parrish’s relationship has proceeded quickly, and they are soon married with an elaborate celebration.  Soon after strange occurrences threaten Miss Bingley, as well as Elizabeth’s beloved sister Jane and brother-in-law Charles Bingley.  Will Darcy and Elizabeth be able to find out who is causing their loved ones harm?

Author Carrie Bebris captures the personality of Austen’s characters and their actions very well. This felt like a true continuation of their story.  The mystery was very interesting, and I was hooked into this story quickly.

I read this book for the May JASNA Northwoods Book Club meeting.  The club enjoyed this book, although they didn’t like that it delved into the supernatural at the end.  That being said, they still would like to read the second book in the future.  I had read a few of these in the past, but I haven’t finished the series yet!  I love supernatural elements myself.

Favorite Quotes:

“Darcy, sometimes your manner lends the air of a personal attack to an observation on the weather.  You can be very intimidating, you know, especially to strangers.”

“It was Darcy’s experience that while many men might bluster out dire warnings, especially in the heat of an argument, most of them possessed enough conscience to stay on the decent side of the line between threat and action.”

Overall, Pride and Prescience is a fun mystery involving one of literature’s favorite couples as the sleuths.

Book Source:  Purchased from

The Heiress by Molly Greeley


The Heiress is subtitled “The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh.”  The Heiress gives a long overdue story to poor Anne de Bourgh.  Anne is a minor character in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and is Mr. Darcy’s cousin.  Lady Catherine de Bourgh is overbearing and insists that Anne and Darcy were meant for each other.  Anne barely speaks and seemingly has no personality.  She is discussed as being too sick to participate in life.  Why is she sick?

In The Heiress, Anne de Bourgh is given laudanum as a baby and grows up addicted.  Whenever she goes off the medicine she is “too sick” to continue as she goes through withdrawal and is put back on the medication.  Although her father and a governess try to help, Anne grows up in a haze.  Her only happiness is driving her ponies in the morning before her first dose of the day.  After her cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam visits with his new bride and invites her to London, Anne takes a chance and travels to London while her mother is out of town.  Will Anne be able to break her addiction? Will she be able to become her own person?

I LOVED Anne’s journey. SPOILER ALERT:  This explanation of laudanum addiction fit with the character from the original novel.  I enjoyed Anne’s journey as she realized what she wanted out of life.  I also greatly enjoyed when Anne was able to finally put Lady Catherine in her place and kick her out to the dower house.  Anne gains a great love for another woman, Eliza, in this book and their romance is the focus of the last part of this novel.  I thought this was fascinating.  I thought it was interesting how Mr. Watters offered for Anne to have a marriage of convenience understanding that they would live their separate love lives.  I wonder how many of those marriages existed during Regency times?  I loved how Anne realized that she wanted to control her own fortune and future and that any marriage would take that away from her.  SPOILER END.

I read this for the JASNA Northwoods Book Club that was in May.  We had a great discussion about this book.  I think everyone enjoyed Anne getting her own story and happy ending.  The only negatives were that some felt the beginning was too slow and depressing.  I didn’t have a problem with that as it set up the story well for Anne making a change.

This would make a great read for Pride month.

Favorite Quotes:

“Ladies are sometimes seen as idle creatures, are we not?  But women do work, and our work is important – vital, even.  It just happens to be quieter than the work done by men.”

“But . . . I have been made small – have allowed myself to made small – for the entirety of my life.”

Overall, The Heiress is a wonderful literary story that finally gives Anne de Bourgh her due.  I highly recommend this for all lovers of Pride and Prejudice.

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow.  Thank-you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain

Big Lies in a Small Town was the May Book Club selection for the Kewaunee Library Book Club.  I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this novel, but I quickly was absorbed into the story and couldn’t put it down!


Morgan Christopher’s dream of becoming an artist is derailed when she is jailed for a drunk driving accident.  She is released from jail under special circumstances that include that she must restore an old post office mural from the 1930s.  An artist that she had idolized has somehow selected her for this project to rehabilitate herself.  He left very specific instructions in his will.  Why was she selected for this project?  As she works on the mural, she uncovers all sorts of mysteries painted into the mural.  What happened to the original artist?


Anna Dale is an artist from new Jersey.  She is very excited to win a national contest to paint a mural for the post office in Denton, North Carolina.  Anna’s mother has recently died, and she needs to make her way alone in the world.  As she gets to know people in Denton and begins on her project, she discovers prejudices and secrets hidden in the town.  Why does her work get erratic?  What happened to her after she finished?  Why was her work never displayed in the post office?

This book was fascinating!  I didn’t really know much about the painting of post office murals and I enjoyed the history of it.  We have a mural here in the City of Kewaunee that I enjoy looking at in the post office.  I really enjoyed the mystery.  Both timelines were equally engaging.  My other book club members enjoyed this book as well.

I also liked the look into racial issues of the time.  In particular there is a great scene where Anna visits an African American student, Jesse, who is helping her with the mural.  “As soon as she pulled into the long driveway of the white, two-story farmhouse, she knew her expectations had been wrong.”  I like how she got to know people and learned not to make assumptions based on race.

Favorite Quotes:

“The children knew it was finally spring, so although the air still held the nip of winter and the grass and weeds crunched beneath their feet, they ran through the field and woods, yipping with the anticipation of warmer weather.”  Great first line and it gets even better!

“You have to make peace with the past or you can never move into the future.”

Overall, Big Lies in a Small Town is an engaging novel with a great dual time narrative.

Book Source:  Kewaunee Public Library.  Thank-you!