June reads: New authors bring new perspectives

June's featured books are: "Her Summer at Pemberley" by Sallianne Hines, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls and "The Dark Net" by Benjamin Percy.

June's featured books are: "Her Summer at Pemberley" by Sallianne Hines, "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls and "The Dark Net" by Benjamin Percy. Theresa Bourke / Brainerd Dispatch

June was full of authors whose works I had never read before, and they did not disappoint.

Sallianne Hines brought me back to the time of Jane Austen, whose Regency Era romances are some of my favorites.

Jeannette Walls taught me never to take what I have for granted and that determination can take you far.

Benjamin Percy introduced me to the techno-thriller genre, helping me branch out of the comfort zone once more.

‘Her Summer at Pemberley’ by Sallianne Hines

Sallianne Hines picks up where Jane Austen left off in her classic 1813 novel “Pride and Prejudice.” But Hines’ story focuses on Kitty Bennet, who plays a minor role in Austen’s original work as one of heroine Elizabeth’s younger sisters.


Kitty is the fourth of the five Bennet sisters and lived much of her life in the shadow of little sister Lydia, a spitfire who disgraced her family’s name by secretly running off with the dishonest George Wickham at the age of 16.

After Lydia leaves home, along with older sisters Jane and Elizabeth, Kitty is left with her often hysterical mother, dull and introverted middle sister Mary and her father, who still sees Kitty — now nearly 19 — as the silly, empty-headed little girl who flounced around with Lydia and cared for nothing except the lace trim on bonnets and the attention of handsome men.

Kitty abhors her boring life at her family’s estate of Longbourne and longs for something different. A summer trip to visit Lizzy and her husband — the famous, brooding Mr. Darcy — is just the ticket.

While at the Darcys’ Pemberley estate, Kitty finds new friends, including her brother-in-law’s sister Georgiana, and begins to find herself as well. An accomplished horsewoman, she freely rides around the grounds — something her father did not like her doing at home — thinking long and hard about the woman she wants to become.

In true Austen fashion, Kitty meets several eligible bachelors and must follow her heart when deciding her future.

Though written in 2020, “Her Summer at Pemberley” made me feel like I was right back in Jane Austen’s world. I adored Hines’ depiction of Kitty, a character we didn’t get to know very well in “Pride and Prejudice,” and I fell even more in love with the beloved Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, both separately and as a couple. All in all, it was a delightful read.

‘The Glass Castle’ by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls’ memoir “The Glass Castle” might as well be a how-to manual for pulling yourself up by the bootstraps.

Walls and her three siblings grew up in various places around the country, including Phoenix and West Virginia, living in poverty as her father drank away the family’s money and her mother often refused to work, preferring instead to stay home and paint. There were some good times — when either parent might have a job for a while, and the whole family would enjoy a nice steak dinner. But plentiful were the times where Walls found herself rifling through the garbage at school, picking through the food other students threw away just so she could get something in her stomach that day — if she was even enrolled in school, that is.


But there were other good times, too, when Walls’ dad was sober for a stretch here and there and taught his kids about physics, geology and history, while encouraging them to read and to explore.

Times were still tough enough, though, that Walls and her siblings got their own jobs as early as they could and began saving money in hopes of escaping to New York for a better life.

Walls tells her story so well to where the reader doesn’t just feel sorry for her but roots for her through all the obstacles and never loses hope that things will get better. It’s a story of love, hardship, perseverance and everything in between.

‘The Dark Net’ by Benjamin Percy

Benjamin Percy is this month’s honorary Minnesota author. Though originally from Oregon, Percy now lives in Minnesota, where his most recent novel, “The Ninth Metal” is set.

I, however, chose his 2017 techno-thriller “The Dark Net,” set in present day Portland, where dangerous technology is threatening to take over the city.

Lela Falcon is a technophobic journalist, trying to uncover what may be the biggest story of her career when a strange company takes ownership of an infamous building in town with a dark past.

Hannah is Lela’s 12-year-old niece, left mostly blind by a disease called retinitis pigmentosa. But when the latest technology called Mirage helps Hannah to see once more, she soon realizes she may have a special connection with the technological world.

Mike Juniper runs a homeless shelter, where the basement plays home to his secret arsenal. He needs all the weapons he can get to fight the literal demons in his life.


Lela, Hannah and Juniper are the good guys, fighting against dark net hackers to save not only themselves but the city of Portland and everyone living there.

I can only describe this book as intense, with its vivid descriptions of the horrors that inhabit the dark net — the deepest depths of the internet where none who visit have any good intentions. When those abominations break out of cyberspace, making their way to the real world, the imagery grows even darker and more heinous.

“The Dark Net” is not a novel to pick up for a bit of light reading. It’s sinister and twisted, compelling the reader to think about the limitless reaches of technology and how that could impact — or destroy — everyday life.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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