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Posts Tagged ‘Kathleen McCleary’

The entries in this contest were so fun to read!  Here’s a sampling of the answers to “Home is ….”

  • wherever you’re happiest
  • where my kids are
  • where my fiance is
  • where you can always feel like you and where memories are made
  • full of cats
  • where my family is

There are 44 other submissions, find them here.   And if you haven’t yet had a chance to, check out author Kathleen McCleary’s guest post.

 

I used random.org to choose the winner…

Here are your random numbers:

48	

Timestamp: 2008-09-20 13:32:00 UTC

melanie!  Her answer was “Home is where my husband and I are, together.”  Congratulations, Melanie!  Please use the “contact me” tab to send me your mailing address and I’ll get your package in the mail.

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In an interview on the Voice website, Kathleen McCleary indicates that Coffee@home, Ellen Flanagan’s coffee-and-home-funishings shop in the novel House & Home, is based on a local independent coffee shop in Virginia.  I wondered if “Hole in the Wall Books”, a setting in the novel,  had roots in a real bookstore.  Kathleen offered to write a guest post for She Is Too Fond of Books, sharing how real-life observations and her creative imagination combined to form this inviting bookstore (that I’d love to visit, if only it existed outside the novel!).  Read what she has to say about creating this fictional shop:

Several readers have mentioned that one of their favorite scenes in my novel is the scene that takes place in a little independent bookstore in Manning, Oregon, somewhere between Portland and Cannon Beach. While many of the places mentioned in the book are real (the Lazy Susan Restaurant, Paley’s Place, etc.), Hole in the Wall Books is completely a figment of my imagination. But as a lifelong bookstore aficionado, I used many bits and pieces of real bookstores in creating it.

I got the name “Hole in the Wall Books” from a used bookstore right here in Falls Church. I’ve never actually been inside Hole in the Wall, but I love the name. The exterior of the bookstore in my novel looks exactly like an antique store I used to visit in the Adirondacks, in upstate New York. The interior of the store, with comfy chairs for reading and little nooks of books, was taken from my memories of Annie Bloom’s, a lovely independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, where I used to live. My kids and I used to spend hours in Annie Bloom’s sitting on the floor and looking at books.

Another inspiration was Crawford Doyle bookstore on Madison Avenue in New York City, from which I took the old wooden floors, mix of new and used books, and friendly, knowledgeable sales people. Dottie, the bookseller in my novel, is based on my aunt, Dorothy McCleary, who has worked at Crawford Doyle for many years. (I gave Dottie some peculiarly northwest touches, though, like the nickname “Dottie” and wearing clogs!)

The idea of grouping books by place was entirely my own. As someone who has always been profoundly influenced by place – be it my house, the view out my window, my town, or my state – I loved the idea of categorizing authors by geography. The work of many writers is absolutely inseparable from the places those writers loved, in my mind. There are many authors who are so profoundly tied to places that I can’t think of them without their settings: Willa Cather (Nebraska), Isak Dinesen (Africa), James Joyce (Ireland), Mark Twain (Mississippi) – you could go on for forever. More recently, Stephanie Meyer and Washington’s Olympic peninsula seem forever intertwined now that I’ve read Twilight.

I’d love to hear about your favorite bookstores. And, I’d love to hear about the authors you associate strongly with particular places. Maybe they’ll provide fodder for my next novel!

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  • House & Home by Kathleen McCleary
  • Publisher: Voice (July 1, 2008 )
  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401340735
  • In creating Ellen Flanagan, the protagonist in House & Home, author Kathleen McCleary introduces readers to a woman that you’ll want to sit down and read more about.  Ellen is a creative hard-working woman who puts a bit (sometimes more than a bit!) of herself into everything she does – she loves her children fiercely, is a loyal friend, adorns her successful coffee-shop-turned-home-accessories-shop, Coffee@home, with personal touches, shows her sense of style in the casual yet chic clothes she wears, and until their mounting financial problems came to a head, loved her fun-loving happy-go-lucky husband, Sam, with all her heart.  Above all else, Ellen immerses her personality, and her very soul, into her house.

    The first paragraph of this gripping emotional novel sets the scene:

    The house was yellow, a clapboard Cape Cod with a white picket fence and a big bay window on one side, and Ellen loved it with all her heart.  She loved the way the wind from the Gorge stirred the trees to constant motion outside the windows, the cozy arc of the dormers in the girls’ bedrooms, the cherry mantel with the cleanly carved dentil molding over the fireplace in the living room.  She had conceived children in that house, suffered a miscarriage in that house, brought her babies home there, argued with her husband there, made love, rejoiced, despaired, sipped tea, and gossiped and sobbed and counseled and blessed her friends there, walked the halls with sick children there, and scrubbed the worn brick of the kitchen floor there at least a thousand times on her hands and knees.  And it was because of all this history with the house, all the parts of her life unfolding there day after day for so many years, that Ellen decided to burn it down.

    Having reached the end of her patience with her husband Sam and his hare-brained unsuccessful inventions, and their subsequent spiral into financial straits, Ellen decides that she and Sam would be better off living separately.  Unable to afford the mortgage on their home of ten years, Ellen and Sam put the house on the market and it soon sold to a young couple who have big plans for renovating and updating the little yellow Cape.

    What follows is an emotional journey for Ellen as she sorts out what is really important to her.  She learns the importance of friends, the strength of family, and the important distinction between “house” and “home.”

    McCleary’s writing style is inviting – she draws the reader in with details that give authenticity to the characters and settings.  Describing Ellen’s days at the coffee shop, McCleary notes “the grateful way peopled cradled their cups against their palms.”  The Flanagan’s basement is decorated with drawings of turtles created by daughters Sara and a friend for their “turtle club.”  Mentions of the local stores, parks and sports teams will connect with those familiar with Portland and its suburbs; she talks of the home buyers’ desire to “trade up” from Beaverton to Portland.  The characters are three-dimensional; although Ellen is the one we know the deepest, we also learn what motivates her husband Sam, the buyers Jordan and Jeffrey, and more peripheral characters such as neighbor Joanna and co-worker Cloud.

    I enjoyed House & Home, and felt the depth and breadth of Ellen’s emotions as she struggled to let go of her connection to the physical house while sorting out the personal history attached to it.  I highly recommend this engaging and well-executed debut novel.

    Kathleen McCleary is a reporter and writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and Health.  Visit her official website for more information about the author and her writing.  The site has a spot where readers are invited to submit their story about a home they’ve loved (I think this is a great exercise; I’m still recovering from an out-of-state move over a year ago!) This video features the opening paragraph (above), as well as a short conversation with Kathleen, in which she says “… it is the emotional truth in the book that people respond to … the sense of wanting to make a home that feels like home … a universal feeling.”  I agree; that is what makes House & Home universally appealing, as well.

    Many thanks to TLC Book Tours for asking my to review this book, and to Voice publishers for providing the review copy.

    In conjunction with this review and Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I’m offering a House & Home prize package to one lucky reader.  The gift pack includes:

    • A hardcover of House & Home
    • Yankee Candle “Home Sweet Home” votive candle
    • Lead crystal candle holder
    • “What makes a house a home” gift plaque
    • Magnetic memo pad to list your “things to do around the house”
    • “Home Sweet Home” embellishment set for scrapbookers and card-makers
    • Home card (includes envelope for mailing, or suitable for framing)

    To enter, simply leave a comment below, completing this sentence:

    Home is …

    Entries will be accepted through midnight on September 19, the last day of BBAW.  Winning name (random drawing) will be announced on Saturday.

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    I’m posting my Week Ahead a day earlier than usual this week – it’s going to be a busy week!  There’s a lot happening here and on other book blogs in conjunction with Book Blogger Appreciation Week … check out this partial listing of what’s going on in my little corner of the world:

    Monday 9/15 – I’m starting the week out as a tour host for Kathleen McCleary’ novel House & Home, working with TLC Book Tours.  I’ll have a book review and themed giveaway posted today!

    Tuesday 9/16 – A bonus guest post by Kathleen McCleary, which will also serve as an early Spotlight on Bookstores this week.  If you’ve read the novel, you may be curious about the origins of “The Hole in the Wall” bookstore …

    Also, I’ll be announcing the winner of Joshua Henkin’s Matrimony today (enter by midnight on Monday 9/15 for your chance to win an inscribed copy of the paperback!)

    And, if that’s not enough … today is the day that BBAW intereviews with bloggers will be online.  She Is Too Fond of Books will have a VIP guest that I’m thrilled to interview; now it’s your turn to get to know her better …

    Wednesday 9/17 – BBAW award presentations begin today!  Click over to My Friend Amy’s blog for the complete schedule (her blog should be on your “Favorites” or in your Google Reader … read early, read often!).  I can’t wait to watch all the award-winners walk the red carpet … will Joan Rivers be there critiquing what everyone’s wearing?

    Thursday 9/18 – I have a few reviews to post this week, look for The Madonnas of Leningrad and Guernica.  Interesting connection between these two novels, each has a story line that involves removing art from museums in order to protect the masterpieces during a war.  Read the Comments below to find out which museum and which war in each case.

    Friday 9/19 – I’ll have my weekly Friday Finds post, sharing the books that have come into my life over the week.

    And, ahoy, matey!  September 19 is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! (I’m not kidding!)  Practice your “yo ho ho”s and “arrr”s while reading one of our favorite children’s books, How I Became a Pirate by Melinda Long and illustrated by the ever-amusing David Shannon.  You can translate any phrase into pirate-speak at the official site of Talk Like a Pirate Day; try it, it’s fun!

    OK, time for me to put my feet up and relax for a bit before the week begins 🙂  I’m going to just sit back and crack open a book …  What are you most looking forward to this week?!

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    TGIF!  It has been a long week here, with plenty of rain to keep us climbing the walls inside the house.  I’d like to say that I’ve been able to spend that time curled in a cozy chair with a good book (or two!), but, there was that wall-climbing going on …  Without further ado, I’ll report that I did find time to open several packages that UPS, USPS and FedEx were kind enough to deliver.  MizB at Should be Reading asks, and here are my Friday Finds:

    I received House and Home by Kathleen McCleary.  I’m going to read and review this novel in preparation for an author blog tour coordinated by Lisa at TLC Book Tours; this is the first book/author I’ve promoted with TLC Book Tours and I’m looking forward to working with them – the tour stops at SheIsTooFondOfBooks on September 15!. 

    We moved about a year ago and I understand the angst of having strangers assess your house and ultimately make it their home; what makes a house a home?  Read on:  The story of a woman who loves her house so much that she’ll do just about anything to keep it.

    Ellen Flanagan has two precious girls to raise, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop to run, terrific friends, and a sexy husband. She adores her house, a yellow Cape Cod filled with quirky antiques, beloved nooks and dents, and a million memories. But now, at forty-four, she’s about to lose it all.

    After eighteen roller-coaster years of marriage, Ellen’s husband, Sam–who’s charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible–has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with, and they’re getting divorced. Her daughters are miserable about losing their daddy. Worst of all, the house that Ellen loves with all her heart must now be sold.

    Ellen’s life is further complicated by a lovely and unexpected relationship with the husband of the shrewish, social-climbing woman who has purchased the house. Add to that the confusion over how she really feels about her almost-ex-husband, and you have the makings of a delicious novel about what matters most in the end . . .

    Set in the gorgeous surroundings of Portland, Oregon, Kathleen McCleary’s funny, poignant, curl-up-and-read debut strikes a deep emotional chord and explores the very notion of what makes a house a home.

    Cheryl Jarvis’ The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Changed Their Lives will be published September 9.  The premise of this non-fiction book is very interesting:

    Four years ago, in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a local jewelry store display window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women, with the goal of sharing it.

    I received my first “graphic” book, The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story by Marian Henley.  This is a memoir written in graphic format, complete with dialogue bubbles and whimsical drawings.  I loved this book and have already posted my reviewThe Shiniest Jewel will be released for sale on September 15.  Here’s what the publisher has to say:

    At 49, cartoonist Marian Henley hasn’t committed to marrying the man with whom she has been dating for seven years. But as the Big 5-0 looms, she realizes that above all else she wants a child. Her story follows the heartbreaking ups and downs of going through the international adoption process; deciding when it’s time to grow up and maybe even get married; and in the end, it’s the story of a daughter’s relationship with her father, and how becoming a mother finally led her to understand him. THE SHINIEST JEWEL is a touching narrative, accompanied by Marian’s winsome drawings, that beautifully weaves together her realizations about the joy, and sometimes heartbreak, of building a family.

    I enjoyed The Shiniest Jewel so much that I’m ready to take on a few more books in the graphic format … any suggestions?

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