Sunday, March 12, 2017

Book Review: The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman


 
The Hope Chest

Viola Shipman

 

Book Description:

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

 

Publish Date: March 21, 2017

Pre-order now:



 
My 5-Star Review:

 
From the author of the heartwarming novel, The Charm Bracelet comes a new novel filled with as much warmth and charm as its predecessor. The Hope Chest by Viola Shipman is a beautifully written story of never-ending love, hope, and beautiful memories.

Mattie grew up with loving parents at a cozy beach house. As she grew older, the beach house became hers and her husband’s Don’s home. Filled with memories, Mattie is saddened in her old age to leave it behind. But she is struggling with ALS, and can no longer care for herself. Her husband is a loving and tireless caretaker, but he can’t do it alone, so they hire a woman, Rose, who has a young daughter, Jeri, to help care for Mattie. As time goes on, the older woman grows to care for Rose and her daughter. One day the young girl opens the old hope chest and suddenly the memories of Mattie’s childhood come alive. Mattie has a charming story to tell for each item in the chest, and the reader is shown her world, one item at a time.

A lovely story woven between the past and present, The Hope Chest is sure to pull at your heartstrings. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a story of family, love, and hope.
 
(I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

 

 
About the Author:

VIOLA SHIPMAN is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a popular, award-winning memoirist. Rouse chose his grandmother’s name, Viola Shipman, to honor the woman whose charm bracelet and family stories inspired him to write his debut novel, which is a tribute to all of our elders. Rouse lives in Michigan and writes regularly for People and Coastal Living, among other places, and is a contributor to All Things Considered. To date, The Charm Bracelet has been translated into nine languages. He is at work on his next “heirloom novel.”

 

 
Read my review of The Charm Bracelet

 

Cheers,

Deanna

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Bingeing on Alice Hoffman

Hi all,

Over the past couple of months, I have been alternating between working on my latest novel and reading. Like some people binge on a Netflix series, I have been bingeing on Alice Hoffman books. Since The Red Garden, which I read and reviewed previously, I was hooked. I can't believe I've been reading all these years without finding these magical books by this talented writer. Thank goodness I'm finally reading them!

Since I am intent on finishing writing my novel, I haven't had time to review each of these books individually. But who am I kidding - they are all 5-Star reads! So instead, I am only going to share the ones I've read so far with you in the hope that if you haven't been lucky enough to read Alice Hoffman's books, you'll try them.

Here we go...


Seventh Heaven

 
Book Description:

 
A New York Times bestseller about a 1950s suburb transformed by the arrival of a divorced mother: “part American Graffiti, part early Updike” (The New York Times).

On Hemlock Street, the houses are identical, the lawns tidy, and the families traditional. A perfect slice of suburbia, this Long Island community shows no signs of change as the 1950s draw to a close—until the fateful August morning when Nora Silk arrives.

Recently divorced, Nora mows the lawn in sling-back pumps and climbs her roof in the middle of the night to clean the gutters. She works three jobs, and when her casseroles don’t turn out, she feeds her two boys—eight-year-old Billy and his baby brother, James—Frosted Flakes for supper. She wears black stretch pants instead of Bermuda shorts, owns twenty-three shades of nail polish, and sings along to Elvis like a schoolgirl.

Though Nora is eager to fit in on Hemlock Street, her effect on the neighbors is anything but normal. The wives distrust her, the husbands desire her, and the children think she’s a witch. But through Nora’s eyes, the neighborhood appears far from perfect. Behind every neatly trimmed hedge and freshly painted shutter is a family struggling to solve its own unique mysteries. Inspired by Nora, the residents of Hemlock Street finally unlock the secrets that will transform their lives forever.

A tale of extraordinary discoveries, Seventh Heaven is an ode to a single mother’s heroic journey and a celebration of the courage it takes to change.  


 

(My note: I loved this story. On the outside, people try to pretend that their lives are perfect but you never knows what goes on in the houses on your block. Vivid characters. I think it’s one of Ms. Hoffman’s best!)

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audiobook.

 

 

Blackbird House

 
Book Description:

With “incantatory prose” that “sweeps over the reader like a dream,” (Philadelphia Inquirer), Hoffman follows her celebrated bestseller The Probable Future, with an evocative work that traces the lives of the various occupants of an old Massachusetts house over a span of two hundred years.

In a rare and gorgeous departure, beloved novelist Alice Hoffman weaves a web of tales, all set in Blackbird House. This small farm on the outer reaches of Cape Cod is a place that is as bewitching and alive as the characters we meet: Violet, a brilliant girl who is in love with books and with a man destined to betray her; Lysander Wynn, attacked by a halibut as big as a horse, certain that his life is ruined until a boarder wearing red boots
arrives to change everything; Maya Cooper, who does not understand the true meaning of the love between her mother and father until it is nearly too late. From the time of the British occupation of Massachusetts to our own modern world, family after family’s lives are inexorably changed, not only by the people they love but by the lives they lead inside Blackbird House.

These interconnected narratives are as intelligent as they are haunting, as luminous as they are unusual. Inside Blackbird House more than a dozen men and women learn how love transforms us and how it is the one lasting element in our lives. The past both dissipates and remains contained inside the rooms of Blackbird House, where there are terrible secrets, inspired beauty, and, above all else, a spirit of coming home.

From the writer Time has said tells "truths powerful enough to break a reader’s heart” comes a glorious travelogue through time and fate, through loss and love and survival. Welcome to Blackbird House.

 
(My note: I love when Ms. Hoffman tells multiple stories through the ages that center around one place. Loved this!)

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, and Audiobook formats.

 

 

The Probable Future

 
Book Description:

 
Alice Hoffman’s most magical novel to date—three generations of extraordinary women are driven to unite in crisis and discover the rewards of reconciliation and love. 

Women of the Sparrow family have unusual gifts. Elinor can detect falsehood. Her daughter, Jenny, can see people’s dreams when they sleep. Granddaughter Stella has a mental window on the future—a future that she might not want to see.

In The Probable Future this vivid and intriguing cast of characters confronts a haunting past—and a very current murder—against the evocative backdrop of small-town New England. By turns chilling and enchanting, The Probable Future chronicles the Sparrows’s legacy as young Stella struggles to cope with her disturbing clairvoyance. Her potential to ruin or redeem becomes unbearable when one of her premonitions puts her father in jail, wrongly accused of homicide. Yet this ordeal also leads Stella to the grandmother she was forbidden to meet and to a historic family home full of talismans from her ancestors.

Poignant, arresting, unsettling, The Probable Future showcases the lavish literary gifts that have made Alice Hoffman one of America’s most treasured writers.


 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook Formats.

 

 

The Ice Queen

 
Book Description:

Be careful what you wish for. A woman who was touched by tragedy as a child now lives a quiet life, keeping other people at a cool distance. She even believes she wants it that way. Then one day she utters an idle wish and, while standing in her house, is struck by lightning. But instead of ending her life, this cataclysmic event sparks a strange and powerful new beginning. After the lightning strike, the chill in her spirit starts to have physical manifestations. She feels frozen from the inside out, and everything red looks as colorless as snow. Hearing of a fellow lightning-strike survivor - a man who was apparently dead for forty minutes, then simply got up and walked away - she goes in search of him. Perhaps Lazarus Jones, as he is known, can teach her to live without fear. He turns out to be her perfect opposite, a man whose breath can boil water and whose touch scorches. As an obsessive love affair begins between them, both hide their most dangerous secrets - what happened in the past that turned one to ice and the other to fire. And everyone in her fragile network of friends and family will be drawn into the conflagration of their joining. Alice Hoffman has written a magical story of passion, loss, and renewal. With a sparseness and immediacy that only a master could achieve, she illuminates the bonds and mysteries that connect mother and daughter, sister and brother, woman and man.

 
Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook formats.

 

Practical Magic

 
Book Description:

My note: (You’ve seen the movie – so why read the book? Because the book is different than the movie, beautifully written, and gives you so much more of the story than the movie does. A must read!)

For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape.

One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic...

“Splendid...Practical Magic is one of [Hoffman's] best novels, showing on every page her gift for touching ordinary life as if with a wand, to reveal how extraordinary life really is.”—Newsweek 

 Buy now on Kindle, Paperback, Hardcover, or Audiobook formats.

 
Cheers,
Deanna

 

 

 

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