Friday, February 17, 2017

Review: The Keeper of Lost Things

Title: The Keeper of Lost Things
Author: Ruth Hogan
Publisher: 31 January 2017 by Hachette Australia - Two Roads
Pages: 320 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: fiction, contemporary, adult
My Rating: 5 cups


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 accidentally 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 a 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

When he had started gathering lost things all those years ago, he hadn’t really had a plan. He just wanted to keep them safe in case one day they could be reunited with the people who had lost them.

Sometimes a rare book comes along that moves you in so many ways. This is one such book - it is absolutely delightful. The imagination and creativity that, right from the outset, lures you in and will not let you go until you turn the final page. You will laugh, you will cry, you will pause and ponder and you will walk away richer from reading this book. I adored it.

Laura could see that these were so much more than things; much more than random artefacts arranged on shelves for decoration. They were important. They really mattered.

This is a book with many tales (something I usually don’t go for) but Hogan does it so well. The expertise with which she weaves not only the two stories running parallel to each other (you will impatiently await for when the paths will cross), but also interweaves the most amazing array  of back stories to the ‘lost things’, is awe inspiring. Gosh this book has it all! Romance, magic, ghosts, family, relationships, heartbreak, illness and loss. That’s quite a lineup, yet the respect with which each is given, creates such a genuine understanding for just about every character presented.

A hush is a dangerous thing. Silence is solid and dependable, but a hush is expectant, like a pregnant pause; it invites mischief, like a loose thread begging to be pulled.

This book is full of charm and spilling over with wisdom. It is beautifully written and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

I know it is likely that most of the things are worthless, and no one will want them back. But if you can make just one person happy, mend one broken heart by restoring to them what they have lost, then it will have all been worthwhile.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Review: Summer Hearts and Paper Kisses

Title: Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: 22 December 2016 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 432 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, chick lit
My Rating: 4 cups


I keep my eyes closed in the shower so that I can hold onto the pretence of sleep for just a little while longer.”

Christie Chapman is a single working mother who spends her days commuting to her secretarial job and looking after her teenage son, Finn. It can be tough just getting through the day but Christie has always found comfort in her love of crafting and any spare time she has is spent working on her beautiful creations. From intricately designed birthday cards to personalised gifts, Christie's flair for the handmade knows no bounds and it's not long before opportunity comes knocking. All of a sudden Christie sees a different future for her and Finn - one full of hope and possibility, and if the handsome Max Alexander is to be believed, one full of love too. It's all there for the taking.

And then, all of a sudden, Christie's world is turned upside down.

Christie knows something has to give, but what will she choose? Will she give up her dreams and the chance of real love? What price will she pay for doing the right thing? Can Christie find her happy ending in Paper Hearts and Summer Kisses?

My Thoughts

I’m always up for a Carole Matthews tale, you can rest assured you are in for a satisfying read. For anyone interested in crafting/scrapbooking, there is an added bonus here.  The main character Christie, is a mad paper crafter and that is a nice added dimension for us ‘crafty scrappers’ out there. This is a definite appealing aspect because this could (in some respects) be a tale about anyone from the suburbs who finds themselves in the humdrum of life and looking for a creative outlet.  A forty something heroine also makes a nice change:

‘My forty-odd-year-old face takes quite a lot of time to reassemble itself into the right symmetry after being reshaped by the pillow all night. Seriously, it’s a good half-hour these days before the creases go.’

A single parent, Christie spends her evenings, weekends and any spare moment she finds crafting and watching the Crafting Channel - ordinary and relatable.  A challenge to always make ends meet is proven that more difficult when a couple of dramatic bombshells push Christie to her limits - but she shows great strength and resolve when dealing with them. In fact, these circumstances force Christie into making some radical and life changing decisions. There is also a good cast of supporting characters I especially loved Christie’s devoted parents.

‘I’d always dabbled with crafts, but I guess I started doing it in earnest when Liam first left. What can you do at night on your own when you’ve got a child upstairs in bed?’

My only criticisms were that it was a tad long and could have done with some good editing. At times it got somewhat repetitive and that led to it getting bogged down and a bit dull. I also found the ending to be a bit too neat, that took it from being relatable to unrealistic. However, if you love crafting, family and happy endings with a splash of forty something realism then Carole Matthews new book is for you.

‘And I’m still not interested. Besides, I like crafting. You can rely on paper hearts much more than love-struck ones.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Review: New York Nights

Title: New York Nights (Heart of the City #2)
Author: C.J. Duggan
Publisher: 1 February 2017 by Hachette Australia
Pages: 320 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: womens fiction, contemporary romance
My Rating: 4 cups


Sarah Williams is a spirited, independent Aussie who has always dreamed of New York City. So when a job opportunity arises to become an au pair for a successful businessman in the heart of Manhattan, Sarah jumps at the chance to follow her dream.

What she didn't bet on was a beautiful newborn and a distant, abrasive man whose eyes hold a million anguished secrets. Determined to care for his daughter and face the challenges of the impossible Ben Worthington, Sarah was always prepared to follow her heart; she just wasn't prepared to lose it to a complicated man like Ben.

My Thoughts

I’m really happy that I took the plunge to read a  C.J. Duggan novel.  New York Nights is the second book in the Heart of the City series, but each are most certainly standalone stories. What they have in common is the theme of love in a big city with young women who are chasing their dreams. C.J. Duggan’s writing is bold, lively and really quite funny at times.
“Holy shit, did I really just say that? Did I just question his parenting skills? Someone hand me the hammer and nails for my coffin.”
I really liked the leads in this story. Finding herself in a foreign country and most certainly out of her comfort zone, Sarah exhibits real strength, persistence and dedication. The family she works for  has many hidden secrets, yet she remained true to herself and confidently spoke out.

“I could just imagine the eye roll that would result from saying I was heading to Tiffany’s. Screw it. The Worthingtons’ secrecy made me want to be nothing but an open book.”
Ben exudes all that is dark and mysterious - handsome yet broody at finding himself a single father. Just like Sarah, one is not sure of the reason - but slowly the plot is revealed and the causes become devastatingly clear.  There is definite chemistry between Sarah and Ben right from the start, yet they each try not to cross that professional working line.

“All that was missing were some candles and some Barry White crooning in the background. Was this crossing the line?”
Although it would have been nice to see things develop at a slower, deeper level, I have no complaints as  New York Nights is light and a quick read that I demolished in a weekend. There is romance, there are secrets, scandals and there is New York!

“There was no mistaking I was in New York in this park –there was a certain vibe here. The arch, the fountains, the artists, the performers, the students, the lovers, the loners and me.”
If a quick, light and entertaining read is what you are after, then this is the book for you. Remember it is a standalone and I definitely recommend it for some light escapism.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release