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Friday, December 29, 2017

The Keeper of Lost Things: A Novel by Ruth Hogan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A charming, clever, and quietly moving debut novel of of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us.

Lime green plastic flower-shaped hair bobbles—Found, on the playing field, Derrywood Park, 2nd September.

Bone china cup and saucer—

Found, on a bench in Riveria Public Gardens, 31st October.

Anthony Peardew is the keeper of lost things. Forty years ago, he carelessly lost a keepsake from his beloved fiancĂ©e, Therese. That very same day, she died unexpectedly. Brokenhearted, Anthony sought consolation in rescuing lost objects—the things others have dropped, misplaced, or accidently left behind—and writing stories about them. Now, in the twilight of his life, Anthony worries that he has not fully discharged his duty to reconcile all the lost things with their owners. As the end nears, he bequeaths his secret life’s mission to his unsuspecting assistant, Laura, leaving her his house and and all its lost treasures, including an irritable ghost.

Recovering from a bad divorce, Laura, in some ways, is one of Anthony’s lost things. But when the lonely woman moves into his mansion, her life begins to change. She finds a new friend in the neighbor’s quirky daughter, Sunshine, and a welcome distraction in Freddy, the rugged gardener. As the dark cloud engulfing her lifts, Laura, accompanied by her new companions, sets out to realize Anthony’s last wish: reuniting his cherished lost objects with their owners.

Long ago, Eunice found a trinket on the London pavement and kept it through the years. Now, with her own end drawing near, she has lost something precious—a tragic twist of fate that forces her to break a promise she once made.

As the Keeper of Lost Objects, Laura holds the key to Anthony and Eunice’s redemption. But can she unlock the past and make the connections that will lay their spirits to rest?

Full of character, wit, and wisdom, The Keeper of Lost Things is heartwarming tale that will enchant fans of The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, Garden Spells, Mrs Queen Takes the Train, and The Silver Linings Playbook.

my thoughts:

What a charming and delightful story! I absolutely LOVED The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan! It was the perfect book to read over the holiday - armed with a cuppa and some chocolates I devoured it in one sitting.

Anthony has lost his beloved Therese and the keepsake she had given him to forever cherish.  Mired in grief, he promises to safeguard the lost items he finds and begins a collection.  He's a writer, so not only does he jot down where and when he found the item, but he also writes a story to go along with it.  As the years go by, his collection grows, until he's amassed too many items to handle.  So, he hires an assistant named Laura.  When Anthony passes away, he tasks her with the job of reuniting each lost item with their owner.  Talk about a daunting task!   And yet, Laura agrees to it.  Why?  Well, Laura has her own personal issues to work through and believes that accomplishing this huge challenge will show her family and herself that she can handle anything.  Alongside this story, we get to know Eunice and Bomber, two other characters with a story all of their own.  Eunice lands a job working for Bomber, who she falls in love with. They become best friends and her love goes unrequited.  The connection between these two and Anthony comes up eventually.  Oh, and did I mention the ghost of Therese - yep, she's haunting Anthony's home and she's not a happy camper.  And that is all I will write about the story, because you absolutely need to read it for yourself.

Hogan has written a feel-good story that is truly a treat to read.  The characters are unforgettable and such fun to read about.  The story itself is imaginative and captivating.  And this idea of rescuing lost things - well, that is simply the best.  Who doesn't wonder about the objects they find on the street or left behind on a park bench?  Especially, if its something you've lost.  To imagine someone finding your lost watch or book and safeguarding it for you - how crazy, but sweet is that?!  To be the rescuer of lost things - what a job that must be?! I can't stop imagining all of the items Anthony must have "rescued" over the years - oh my!

I would most definitely recommend The Keeper of Lost Things to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you are going to LOVE this book!!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Keeper of Lost Things
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, December 22, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Christmas baking.  My sister and I spent two days baking up a storm, while listening to Christmas music. It was fun and exhausting at the same time. We made banana bread, fudge (with and without walnuts), Linzer cookies, pecan bars, sugar cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, and peanut butter blossoms. We taste-tested it all - YUMMY!  And then we packaged it up and delivered it to family and friends.  I am so glad we only do this once a year - I now need a vacation from all the baking.

2.  Books.  I finished reading just the one:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/785093.Stiff_Upper_Lip_Jeeves

I just love me some Wodehouse.  Always clever and funny to read, his books are truly a treat.  This delightful story had Bertie trying to ensure he didn't have to marry Madeleine Bassett - his worst nightmare is having to get married.  Of course, his task is not an easy one as complications abound.  Luckily, Jeeves is on the scene to ease the dramatics.  Definitely a must-read for Wodehouse fanatics. 

3.  New Books.  Happy mail arrived in the form of these two:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34964995-just-between-us?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35356382-the-chalk-man?ac=1&from_search=true

Talk about new and exciting reads! Just Between Us is about four friends trying to cover up a deadly crime - I guess life in suburbia isn't all bake sales and yoga classes.  The Chalk Man is about a group of friends growing up in the 80s who draw "chalk men" to leave each other messages; except one of the messages leads them to a body and nothing is ever the same.  Whoa Nelly, these books sound like fun! I can't wait to devour them over this holiday weekend.  What about you? Which books will you be gobbling up?

4.  Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.  Yep, its back. And I have to admit that I found the premiere episode to be rather lackluster.  In truth, I'd forgotten about all of the drama from last season, so it took me awhile to figure out why all they held grudges against one another.  Anyhow, the ladies are back and ready to share about their glamorous lives - private planes, never-ending closets, shopping sprees, mansion remodels, last minute trips to anywhere they want to go, etc..  And of course, all of the drama that comes with being "friends".  Here's to a new season! 

5.  Happy Holidays!!  Wishing you all the best this holiday season!! Hope you are having a wonderful time with your loved ones!!  And, I do hope you are enjoying some great reads as well. 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Honeymoon: A Novel by Dinitia Smith

(Thank you to Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Based on the life of George Eliot, famed author of Middlemarch, this captivating account of Eliot’s passions and tribulations explores the nature of love in its many guises

Dinitia Smith’s spellbinding novel recounts George Eliot’s honeymoon in Venice in June 1880 following her marriage to a handsome young man twenty years her junior. When she agreed to marry John Walter Cross, Eliot was recovering from the death of George Henry Lewes, her beloved companion of twenty-six years. Eliot was bereft: left at the age of sixty to contemplate profound questions about her physical decline, her fading appeal, and the prospect of loneliness.

In her youth, Mary Ann Evans—who would later be known as George Eliot—was a country girl, considered too plain to marry, so she educated herself in order to secure a livelihood. In an era when female novelists were objects of wonder, she became the most famous writer of her day—with a male nom de plume. The Honeymoon explores different kinds of love, and of the possibilities of redemption and happiness even in an imperfect union. Smith integrates historical truth with her own rich rendition of Eliot’s inner voice, crafting a page-turner that is as intelligent as it is gripping.

my thoughts:

I've never read George Eliot's writing, and yet I was eager to read a story about her life.  Is that weird? Maybe not. I just find that I was more interested in learning about her, than I was in reading her writing - until now.  After having just finished The Honeymoon by Dinitia Smith, I am now obsessed with reading all of Eliot's works.  I can't help it. I've fallen in love with her through this wonderful fictionalized version of her life - the history, the relationship, the writer - all of it has captured my heart and imagination.  And now, I can't wait to dive into her books and Dinitia Smith's books.

The Honeymoon captures a specific period in Eliot's life - the last few months of her life, when she's honeymooning with her new husband, John Walter Cross.  She's sixty, he's twenty years younger than her, and she's grieving the loss of her beloved companion, George Henry Lewes.  What's a woman to do?  Especially at that age, when questions about aging, loneliness, and the future loom rather largely all of a sudden.  Smith explores Eliot's frame of mind through this fictionalized account of her honeymoon - inventing encounters with fellow authors, aggressive gondoliers, etc.  She also weaves a detailed account of the author's personal history throughout the story, which I found to be extremely fascinating.  Marian Evans (aka George Eliot) was quite the intellect, who penned several classics (Middlemarch, Silas Marner, The Mill on the Floss, and Daniel Deronda to name a few), and wound up being rather famous (she wore a lace mantilla to cover her face so that no one would recognize her!).  I loved getting to know her through Smith's perspective - she seemed to really capture the essence of Eliot.  And she's made me want to reach for one of her books ASAP.

All in all, The Honeymoon wound up being one of favorite reads this year.  The writing was superb, the history was richly detailed, and learning about Eliot was such a treat.  I think this book is a must-read for fans of George Eliot - you are going to LOVE this story!!  And if you are a fan of historical fiction with a memoir-ish bent, then you will definitely enjoy this book.  I would happily recommend it to anyone looking for their next great read.

And now, I'm off to find a copy of Middlemarch.  Happy reading and Happy Holidays!!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Other Press...

is where its at!  I'm serious.  This publishing house is one of the BEST.  They offer literature, nonfiction, short stories, and poetry from authors around the world.  I have found some of my favorite books through them:

http://www.otherpress.com/books/the-unit/http://www.otherpress.com/books/the-parthenon-bomber/

http://www.otherpress.com/books/quicksand/http://www.otherpress.com/books/elle/

http://www.otherpress.com/books/inheritance-from-mother/http://www.otherpress.com/books/the-pen-and-the-brush/

http://www.otherpress.com/books/at-the-existentialist-cafe/http://www.otherpress.com/books/brief-stop-road-auschwitz/

And come 2018 I am positive that I will find more favorite books to add to my list.  Other Press is just superb! I thought I'd give them a shout-out, just in case you are still looking for great reads to stuff in your loved ones' stockings.  Check out their site to find out more about them and their fantastic catalog of books: Other Press

Now, I'm off to continue reading one of their upcoming novels, Eventide by Therese Bohman:
http://www.otherpress.com/books/eventide/

Talk about a must-read!! A story about relationships - personal and professional - focused on answering the one question we all ask ourselves at one time or another: how can we be happy with what we have?  I am in deep with this story and am enjoying every minute with it!

Happy reading!! And, Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Stocking Stuffer!

Here's an idea for the perfect stocking stuffer:

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)

The deluxe paperback edition of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery is out now and makes a darling gift for fans of the beloved classic and for anyone who loves to read.  This new edition is chock full of great additions - a foreword by J. Courtney Sullivan ( author of Maine and Commencement) and an introduction by an L. M. Montgomery scholar, Benjamin Lefebvre.  Plus, there are early writings by Montgomery herself that describe the creation of this coming-of-age tale, starring the literary icon, " Anne with an e".   And that cover - wow!  Look at the colors - so vibrant and cheerful. And those fun illustrations depicting images from the story.  You can't help but want to pick up this story and start reading - I know that I did. I absolutely LOVED reading all about "Anne with an e" - the clever, scrappy girl who gets sent to a farm by mistake.  The owners (a pair of siblings) wanted to adopt a boy to help out on their farm, not a little girl.  Yet, they soon find themselves warming up to our quirky little heroine, the precocious redhead named Anne.  Soon, she is settling in at the farm and in town - seems that no one can help but fall in love with "Anne with an e". 

What a fun story! I can't believe that I'd waited so long to read it - what was I thinking!?! At least now I know which book I want to share with my little cousins and friend's kids this holiday season - they are going to just LOVE getting to know "Anne with an e". 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Odd Child Out: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

How well do you know the people you love…?

Best friends Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol’s Feeder Canal, Abdi can’t–or won’t–tell anyone what happened.

Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tragedy strikes and what looked like the simple case of a prank gone wrong soon ignites into a public battle.  Noah is British.  Abdi is a Somali refugee.   And social tensions have been rising rapidly in Bristol.  Against this background of fear and fury two families fight for their sons and for the truth.  Neither of them know how far they will have to go, what demons they will have to face, what pain they will have to suffer.

Because the truth hurts.

my thoughts:

Wow! Talk about a riveting read.  I absolutely LOVED Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan. Its the second book in her DI Jim Clemo series, but can definitely be read as a standalone.  I've read the first book, What She Knew (and LOVED it as well), so I was definitely excited to pick up this next book in the series.  I just knew that it would be another unputdownable story chock full of drama, suspense and mystery - which happens to be my favorite kind of book to read during the holiday season.

Odd Child Out focuses on two best friends, Noah and Abdi.  Considered to be two peas in a pod, everyone is shocked when both boys are involved in an accident that leaves Noah comatose.  Abdi refuses to talk (at all) and tell anyone what happened.  Noah can't talk.  So, their parents are left to wonder what happened to both boys and how Noah wound up floating in the canal where he was found.  DI  Jim Clemo is called onto the scene to piece together the events leading up to Noah's accident.  Its his first case since being on mandatory leave, so he's definitely eager to be back on the job.  Clemo and his partner begin their investigation into the boys and their friendship - trying to figure out the truth as quickly as possible.  You see, Abdi and his family are refugees from Somalia, and the news media is using that fact to target Abdi as the villain. Of course, this creates even more drama and makes handling the case even more difficult for Clemo - especially as the main journalist happens to be his ex.  Talk about bitter exes! Now, I won't tell you what happened between Noah and Abdi, suffice it to say - Be prepared!   

Odd Child Out is a terrific story that explores the complexities of friendships; the hot button issues of race, immigration, and news media; and the realities of battling a terminal illness.  Macmillan's writing is top notch and her characters are unforgettable.  This is one book you won't want to miss!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Odd Child Out
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, December 8, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Books.  Is it crazy that I want to purchase multiple copies of my favorite books? I want all of the different covers and editions. Is that too much? Or is every bookaddict doing this?  Here are some of the books I am coveting:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/117728.A_Confederacy_of_Dunceshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/8108445-cat-s-cradle
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27845657-my-name-is-lucy-bartonhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32874103-anything-is-possible
https://juniperbooks.com/store/kurt-vonnegut-set/
2.  TV.  I have not watched TV this week. Okay, so I did watch the news a few times and maybe one Christmas movie on Hallmark, but that was it. I just found that nothing really interested me this week. The Christmas I did watch was on a whim. It was called Engaging Father Christmas and was a sequel to a movie I have never seen. Its basically about this young woman who found out who her father was the year before. Turns out he was a famous actor who cheated on his wife with her mother! Anyhow, he's passed away and so has her mom.  The family he's left behind take her into their fold, but at a distance.  Of course, she's met someone in the small town the family lives in and gets engaged when she returns (hence the title) to visit with her new family.  Along the way, she runs into her ex, who she confesses her secret to - that her dad was a famous actor. And suddenly, she's getting texts threatening to reveal the truth about her parents. Now she's worried that her new family will drop her like a hot potato once they found out that their secret is out. In the end, everything works out and she gets the man she loves and her new family's trust - plus, the home her father first bought.  Its a bit unrealistic, but still heartwarming. And I loved it.

3.  NetGalley.  So many great books to choose from! I am getting addicted to requesting again - OMG! I just go approved for these three and can't wait to devour them:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297314-the-glass-forest?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35734062-women-in-sunlight?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29736467-the-beauty-that-remains?ac=1&from_search=true

4.  Christmas shopping. I am nearly finished - Hurrah! I've been buying so many things online lately - its a huge help.  I'm headed to the shops this weekend and can't wait to finish off my list.  For some reason, its been a lot of fun buying gifts this year. And I'm looking forward to wrapping them all up, too. I think its the holiday spirit in the air that's cheering me up lately and I love it!

5.  Music.  Christmas music and Selena (not Gomez).  I was in Target the other day and found a Selena CD for 5 bucks and bought it on a whim. And now, I can't stop listening to it. 

And now, I'm off to re-read A Lesson in Secrets by Jacqueline Winspear.  Hope you all have a great weekend! Happy reading!!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My Christmas Wish List...

Its nearly Christmas and that means making lists. I've already made a few and crossed some names from them.  Now its time to make a list of my own.  Of course, mine is filled with books, but I can't help it. I'm bookworm at heart and all I want for Christmas are books.  Here are some of the titles I have on my Christmas Wish List:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29936927-the-best-we-could-do?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30347689-literature-class-berkeley-1980?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31212863-the-wide-circumference-of-love?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31130686-smitten-kitchen-every-day?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31944834-the-river-bank?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32452160-strange-practice?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33163378-moxie?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33395084-the-complete-stories-of-leonora-carrington?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33830437-far-from-the-tree?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34390247-go-went-gone
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31117613-tin-man?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32905835-the-lost-art-of-letter-writing?ac=1&from_search=true
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31690144-the-lost-plot?ac=1&from_search=true

What do you think? Not a bad bunch, right? My fingers are crossed that I'm gifted some of these lovelies for Christmas.  What about you? Are there any books you're hoping making it into your stocking this year? Here's to hoping we each have a book-tastic holiday season!
 
Happy reading! And, Happy Holidays!!

Friday, December 1, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Its December 1st and that means Christmas is on its way - hurrah! My tree is up and fully decorated. I have ordered gifts, crossed names off lists, and have stocked up on wrapping paper. My cookbooks are out and ready to be perused, so that I can choose a few (or a lot) of recipes to bake this holiday season. Christmas music is playing throughout the house and in my car - I love it!  I'm ready to watch Love Actually and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation over and over again.  And I'm making a list of everything I need to do this holiday season - yikes!

2.  TV shows.  I am still watching the Housewives shows on Bravo. I'm addicted, so what can I do?  The OC's reunion was rather lackluster.  Although I do hope that Vicki and Tamara are friends next season, because this past season was seriously dull.  NJ is beyond ridiculous and I'm starting to wonder why I watch it. Dallas was seriously the best, but way too short - they only show 10 episodes compared to the other shows which get over 20.  And BH is coming back this month - woo hoo!  I've stopped watching TWD - its just so boring lately.  They really need to defeat Negan and move on.  Stranger Things 2 was so much fun. I loved the Snow Ball at the end - it was one of the highlights of the season.  Plus, the 80s music was awesome - who doesn't love Cyndi Lauper?  And I finally discovered Ghosted, starring Adam Scott and Craig Robinson. OMG! What a fun and ridiculous show - I loved it!

3.  Books.  My reading has fallen to wayside. I can't seem to find a book that I actually want to get lost in. So, I've been re-reading the Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear. I love these books and tend to re-read them every year.  I'm currently on the third book in the series, Pardonable Lies. I'm near the end, where Maisie is discovering the truth about one of her clients. She's been through the ringer with this story - realizing that slaying one's dragons isn't as easy as she had imagined. Its definitely one of my favorites in the series. Oh, and I just found out that Winspear's next book (To Die But Once) in the series comes out next March - woo hoo!!

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7432.Pardonable_Lies?ac=1&from_search=truehttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35068555-to-die-but-once?ac=1&from_search=true

 4.  Planners.  I have recently fallen down the planner rabbit hole on IG and YouTube - OMG! So many planners and so many ways to plan. I decided to try the Hobonichi Techo. I love the covers and the idea of using different planners for different things. I hope that I can stick with it - I usually start a new planner and then forget about it midway through. I tend to write lists and jot down appointments on notepads.  Wish me luck!  And let me know what type of planner you use - give me some new ideas.

5.  Photograph by R.E.M. featuring Natalie Merchant. Two of my absolute favorites!! I hadn't heard this one in ages:

And now, I'm off to go through the latest issue of Vogue. I just received it in the post and can't wait to check it out.  Happy reading!!