The Lost For Words Bookshop: A Review

June 12, 2019

The Lost For Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

The Lost For Words Bookshop Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Booksellers and Bookshops, Books About Books, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Young Loveday Cardew works in a bookshop and prefers books to people. Her discrete tattoos feature a few of her favorite first lines. Even though the bookshop is her sanctuary and a place where she can hide from her secrets, some mysterious packages with links to her past arrive and shatter her sense of safety. With support from a caring boss and the kindness of a young poet, can she find the courage to face her past and find hope for a bright future?

Amazon Rating:  4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

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A Book You’ll Love, Mom!

May 10, 2019

Here’s a book recommendation I think you’ll love, Mom!

The Gown
by Jennifer Robson

The Gown Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Royal Wedding, 1940s England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Gown is, in part, a behind-the-scenes story of the making of Princess (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding gown. As the people of England endure a harsh winter and post-war shortages and rationing, news of a Royal wedding brightens the country’s spirit. Told from two perspectives, we hear the imagined story of two young women who work for the famous fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Although the girls are accustomed to working on exclusive gowns for high profile clients and the Royal family, the newest assignment of a wedding gown for Princess (Queen) Elizabeth brings extraordinary pressure and excitement. A third perspective (and modern timeline) follows one of their granddaughters who travels to London a half-century later to unravel her grandmother’s mysterious and secret past. There’s more to the story than the dress as the author gives us an idea of what life was like in 1940s London, and explores themes of friendship, family, and love.

Amazon Rating:  4.6 Stars

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The Gown: A Review

April 26. 2019

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Royal Wedding, 1940s England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Gown is, in part, a behind-the-scenes story of the making of Princess (Queen) Elizabeth’s wedding gown. As the people of England endure a harsh winter and post war shortages and rationing, news of a Royal wedding brightens the country’s spirit. Told from two perspectives, we hear the imagined story of two young women who work for the famous fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Although the girls are accustomed to working on exclusive gowns for high profile clients and the Royal family, the newest assignment of a wedding gown for Princess (Queen) Elizabeth brings extraordinary pressure and excitement. A third perspective and modern timeline follows one of their granddaughters who travels to London a half century later to unravel her grandmother’s mysterious and secret past. There’s more to the story than the dress as the author gives us an idea of what life was like in 1940s London, and explores themes of friendship, family, and love.

Amazon Rating:  4.6 Stars

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Meet Me at the Museum: A Review

*this post contains affiliate links

January 18, 2019

Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson

What is the chance that a letter to a stranger will lead to a deep friendship?

meet me at the museum cover

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Literary Fiction, Epistolary, Friendship, England, Denmark, Archeology

Summary:

Told in epistolary form, the story in Meet Me at the Museum unfolds from alternating viewpoints as we meet the two main characters through their letters. Tina is a hard-working, loyal, and duty bound English farmer’s wife, mother, and grandmother, and she is also grieving the recent loss of her best friend, Bella. In thinking of the past, she remembers the promise that she and Bella made to each other to visit the Silkeborg Museum in Denmark to see the mummified Tolland Man from the Iron Age. Life intervened and now Tina is in her 60s and her friend is gone. She is inspired to write to Professor Glob, author of The Bog People, who mentions school children in the dedication of his book (our fictional Tina is one of the school children). Tina isn’t aware that Glob has died, so quiet, kind, and introspective Anders, curator of the Denmark museum, writes back to Tina. Tina and Anders begin a thoughtful and heartfelt correspondence. Anders is grieving the recent loss of his wife and through letters, Anders and Tina share intimate details of their lives with each other and express thoughts that they have difficulty sharing with anyone else. As they discuss archeology, the Tolland Man, their philosophies of life, grief, and their families, they develop an endearing and unique friendship that could possibly lead to more.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

Letter writing: “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways.

I happen to love epistolary novels and Meet Me at the Museum is in the tradition of Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, 84, Charing Cross Road, and Last Christmas in Paris with the tenderness of finding a soul mate later in life as in Our Souls at Night. Even though the story unfolds in letters, we become interested and invested in their lives as they each navigate an unexpected crisis.

Youngson’s writing is poignant, beautiful, reflective, and thoughtful. Meet Me at the Museum is character driven and meant to be savored. The depth of friendship (hope of love?) that develops through old-fashioned letter writing is heartwarming and inspirational. The author does an exemplary job of reminding us of the traditional joys and art of letter writing and how it serves a purpose that can’t be replaced by email or text messages.

As a bonus, I also learned a great deal about The Tolland Man from the Iron Age.

tolland man

 

Themes. Meet Me at the Museum has some thoughtful themes including: sacrifice, choices, regret, meaning and purpose, grief, loneliness, second chances, friendship, listening, encouragement, gentle advice, and “holding onto the softness and elegance” of the old ways. Book clubs might enjoy discussion topics such as:

  • Do you think everyone finds a soul mate?
  • Does a biological father have a right to know about the birth of a child?
  • Is it ever too late to pursue a lifelong dream?
  • Do you believe in second chances?
  • In what ways have you experienced the beautiful craft of letter writing?
  • What can be learned from older characters (60+)?
  • How would you apply the raspberry metaphor to your life?
  • Realistically, what is the likelihood of two strangers who have never seen each other and live hundreds of miles apart finding comfort, understanding, and friendship solely through the written word?

Recommended. Fans of character driven stories, literary fiction, and reflective writing will find Meet Me at the Museum an enjoyable read. Book clubs might find some thoughtful discussion topics, and, of course, if you enjoy the art of letter writing this is a must read. If you’re looking for a fast paced, page turner filled with suspense and lots of action or if you know you don’t enjoy epistolary format, you might want to skip this one. Meet Me at the Museum is more than the ‘women’s fiction’ category suggests. I tend to associate women’s fiction with ‘chick lit,’ and I assure you it’s not that. It’s a read that grew on me and one that I enjoyed more and more as I delved deeper into the story, their lives, and their relationship. It’s a quiet story and perfect for reading in front of the fire on a winter night or on a porch swing on a lazy summer day.

An interview with the author, Anne Youngson.

Host Tip: Book Clubs will want to serve raspberries for dessert!

My Rating: 4 Stars

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meet me at the museum

Meet Me at the Museum

Meet the Author, Anne Youngson

anne youngson

Anne Youngson had a long and successful career in the motor industry after finishing a degree in English from Birmingham. Now, Anne Youngson is retired, lives in Oxfordshire, and is studying for a PhD at Oxford Brookes. She has two children and three grandchildren to date. Meet Me at the Museum is her first novel and was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award.

 

*It brings me the greatest joy to read, review, and support debut authors!



Happy Reading Book Worms

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Looking Ahead:

Next week, I’ll post a review of a lighter book, The Late Bloomers’ Club by Louise Miller.

late bloomers club

I’m also reading Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (a work in progress and review date TBD)

leadership in turbulent times



Links

A beautifully written piece on Black Coffee With White Friends: Black and Lovely

This is important! Why getting lost in a book is so good for you according to science!

Check out Hillsdale College Free Online Courses

I’ll be updating my Winter TBR as I read and review selections. So check back often!

Don’t miss my Most Memorable Reads of 2018 post here.



In Movie News….

For Fredrik Backman fans, Britt-Marie Was Here will be a movie!

Reese Witherspoon to produce “Where the Crawdads Sing” and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

And….here’s the trailer for Where’d You Go Bernadette starring Cate Blanchette.

(You might want to put these four books on your ‘want to read list’ in preparation!)



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

I’m curious….are you a fan of the epistolary format? If yes, which have been your favorites?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

Review: The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter

November 2, 2018

Do you love lighthouses?

The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter by Hazel Gaynor

***Celebrating my 100th read of the year!***

The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Summary:

Inspired by true events, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter shares the story of Grace Darling, an extraordinary young woman who helps her father keep the Longstone Lighthouse on the Farne Islands off the coast of northeast England. One day in 1838 during a furious storm, Grace and her father rescue nine shipwreck survivors. Grace gains notoriety and finds herself the subject of poems, ballads, and plays. The dear friendship that develops between Grace and one of the survivors and the survivor’s brother continues to impact lives 100 years later.

In 1938 at another lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island, nineteen year old Matilda is sent away from Ireland in disgrace to live with a distant relative who happens to be an assistant lighthouse keeper. As Matilda stumbles upon an old chest containing artifacts from her family history, she uncovers the story of Grace and the connections Grace has to Matilda’s great-great-grandmother. Although Matilda’s part of the story is pure fiction, the hurricane that hits the east coast of the U.S. in 1938 is historic.

Author, Hazel Gaynor, creates strong connections between two time periods and two story lines including hurricane events of 1838 and 1938, complex connections between past and present family members, and lighthouse themes between the stories.

Amazon (Early) Star Rating (November): 4.3 Stars

My Thoughts:

It’s always challenging to write a review when there’s so much to say!

Stars. First, I awarded this story all the stars because it is an engaging page turner with a complex plot, poignant themes, inspiring and well drawn characters, and the story tugs at the emotions. Any time I’m left with a bit of a reading hangover, I know it’s a 4 or 5 star read. While it’s a solid 4.5, I bumped it up to 5 on Goodreads because of the excellent writing.

Characters. One of Hazel Gaynor’s strengths is in creating and writing about strong, memorable female characters. Grace Darling is a real person and a good portion of the story explores the true events that surround her life. In the 1830s, she remarkably takes on responsibilities at the lighthouse that are usually assigned to men. In fact, she can take care of the lighthouse as well as her brother can and has more passion for the job, yet at that time in history, the assignment of lighthouse keeper is given to her brother. Grace also shows initiative in rescuing and caring for nine shipwreck survivors. Grace is a heroine and a role model for women in 1838. Her courage and determination inspired an independently minded and troubled Matilda later in the story.

Even the brave were once afraid. The sum of generations of strong, courageous women who came before her, an echo of them all lingering in her soul.

While Grace is a real person, the strong women characters we meet in 1938 are fictionalized, but they represent the work that women accomplished as lighthouse keepers. All four women characters in this story are brave and formidable as they draw strength from each other.

The inspiration Matilda is able to draw from Grace and the strong women in her family, reminds me how grateful I am for the strong generations of women in my own family. I think the spirit of courage, bravery, and determination is passed along from generation to generation. Do you have stories of strong women in your family?

Even though the connection between all the characters comes together neatly in the end, I feel it is a touch too coincidental, convenient, and easy……but still emotionally rewarding.

The Wikipedia article on Grace Darling can be found here; however, I recommend NOT reading it until after you’ve read the story to avoid spoilers.

Plot. A complex and multilayered plot, multiple perspectives, two time periods, and two locations will keep you engaged! I enjoyed how the two different time periods complimented each other in setting, family ties, facing hurricanes, and the characterizations of strong women.

Setting. If you love the sea and lighthouses, you will absolutely love the settings described in this story. Author Hazel Gaynor creates a delightful sense of place in both England and Rhode Island seaside locations. Even the detail of the collected shells connects both story lines.

Themes. Inspirational themes abound in the Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, and if you read my reviews you know that the presence of important themes often make or break my reading experience. I can overlook a lot in the presence of great writing and themes. In this story, poignant themes include father/daughter relationships; the lighthouse as a symbol of protection, guidance, safety, and protection; found family; strong and independent women finding their way and their voice; and family heritage.

Writing. In addition to the compelling story lines, you will enjoy excellent writing. I love a story in which I can appreciate the beautiful writing but it doesn’t interfere with the story. The writing flows as the author creates vivid images, memorable characters, and transitions between story lines. Hazel Gaynor is also the co author of the Last Christmas in Paris, one of my favorites of the year.  She has secured a place on my “auto buy” author list!

Lighthouses. Do you love lighthouses? Do you have a favorite lighthouse location? Do you have a nostalgic lighthouse story?

My personal lighthouse story: Several years ago my hubs and I traveled to York, Maine so that my hubs could meet his biological sister for the first time in his life! The Nubble Lighthouse is well loved by his sister’s family, and now it’s our favorite too! Here’s a pic my hubs and I took in front of the lighthouse marking the occasion of birth siblings reunited!

nubble lighthouse

Nubble Lighthouse, York, Maine

 

Recommended. Highly recommended for readers of historical fiction, for fans of stories with important themes, for those who savor stories of strong, independent women, and for all who are looking for an engaging and well written story.

My Star Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded up to 5 stars on Goodreads)

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lighthouse keeper's daughter

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Hazel Gaynor

Hazel GaynorHAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from the Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she has published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris. Hazel was selected by US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and her work has been translated into several languages. Hazel lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.



Happy Reading Book Worms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Did you  see the results of the PBS Great American Read? Who did you vote for? I voted for Gone With the Wind (which came in at #6).

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year.



Looking Ahead in Fiction:

I’m in the process of reading: Bridge of Clay by Marcus Zusak (The Book Thief).  It’s a slow read for me and I’m not sure I’ll be able to finish it before it’s due back to the library in three days, and in that case I’ll be reviewing Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen next week.

 

 

 

 



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

One title that I’m considering is In Pieces by Sally Field. Beginning with The Flying Nun, Sally Field has played a lifelong prominent role in my entertainment life!

In Pieces

 

Another consideration is the new release by Doris Kearns Goodwin, Leadership: In Turbulent Times. I’m almost certain that this is what my hubs will be reading for “Nonfiction November” as Doris Kearns Goodwin is one of his “auto buy” authors!

leadership in turbulent times



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
So far I’ve read nine out of my twelve titles (three more to go!).



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Do you have a favorite lighthouse location or lighthouse story?

What are your reading plans for November? I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27!



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.