Today I have the great pleasure of hosting Kathleen McCleary on her House and Home book tour sponsored by TLC Book Tours. I very much appreciate the invitation to participate in this tour as well as the opportunity to read Kathleen’s novel. Please click on Kathleen’s name below to visit her website. Click on the TLC Book Tours graphic for more information on this wonderful new book tour program.
By outside appearances, Ellen Flanagan had it all: a loving husband, two beautiful daughters, a house she decorated and maintained with love and dedication, and Coffe@Home, a business that merged her passion for antiques with her interest in coffee and fine tea. All was not what it seemed. Sam, her adventurous and creative husband, had a passion for inventing. When he created a baby beeper he thought would make it big, the couple put a second mortgage on their home. When the baby beeper didn’t pay off, that second mortgage cost them the home Ellen so dearly loved and her 18 year marriage. As time got near to vacate the house they sold, Ellen found she couldn’t part with it. She decided that she’s rather see it burn than to allow another family to call it home.
The opening paragraph to this novel, after explaining Ellen’s attachment to the home, ends by saying that she would burn it down. I was instantly curious, especially since this seemed pretty hard core for a novel with such a beautiful and inviting cover. That paragraph brought to mind the song “Sunny Came Home” by Shawn Colvin. I was eager to find out what it was about Ellen or the house that drove her to even think about arson. When at first I couldn’t find any logical explanation for her planning something so destructive, it was frustrating. Ellen wasn’t mentally ill, she and Sam were on amicable terms despite the fact that they were divorcing, her business was thriving, and she had the most thoughtful and supportive best friend in the world. Why? Then it occurred to me. As much as she loved that house, her fixation was a protective cover. She believes that burning down her house will keep others out. Truthfully, if not subconsciously, what she’s doing is making all that she has lost and all that she is losing tangible and visible, especially to Sam.
This is really a novel about relationships, both the good and the bad. Sometimes there is a cost to starting them. Sometimes there is a cost to losing them. There are times when the cost may be too high; but in the end, you can’t live your life fully without them. Be they with your best friend, your lover, your family, business associates, or even mere acquaintances, your interactions with other people teach you how to play, work, love, hurt, forgive, learn, laugh, cry, hold on, and to let go. Ellen spent the first 44 years fighting to control her life. House and Home is the story of how she learns that what makes life worth living requires you to constantly take leaps of faith.
Kathleen McCleary is a clear and concise writer and she brought some wonderful characters to life. You can feel Ellen’s pain and the anxiety brought about by her need to be in control from the start, even if you don’t completely understand it at first. You can see how it blinds her to what she has. House and Home is a reminder that when life feels like one crisis after another, the only way not to get lost in it all is to focus on your friends and loved ones. It is a celebration of friendships, relationships, and family. If you’re like me, you’ll find this novel every bit as heartwarming as the cover suggests.
Literate Housewife’s 100th Book Review Contest
I am so excited about today because it marks the day I am posting my 100th book review online. My blog started on Blogspot and it was called “52 Books or Bust.” I started it in January, 2007 to give me a way to be accountable to my personal goal of reading 52 books that year and to also provide me with a way to remember what I read. It was from those meager beginnings that The Literate Housewife Review started. I had no idea that 21months later I would be celebrating today.
In order to mark this day, I wanted to hold a contest to thank you, my readers. Without your comments and support I can’t say that I would still be doing this today. In honor of reaching the 100 book mark, I’m going to give one of my lucky readers a copy of House and Home and ten other books I’ve read to date. Here is a picture of the book and the links to those reviews:
The Last Wife of Henry VIII by Carolly Erickson #24
Portrait on an Unknown Woman by Vanora Bennett #37
Gilding Lily by Tatiana Boncompagni #66
The Lady Elizabeth By Alison Weir #70
Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan #78
Mrs. Lieutenant by Phyllis Zimbler Miller #81
Regina’s Closet by Diana M. Raab #84
The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson #88
37 by Maria Beaumont #89
Castaway Kid by R.B. Mitchell #94
When Kathleen McCleary read that this was my 100th review and would be holding a contest in its honor, she wanted to get in on the fun, too. So, to sweeten this contest even further, the winner will also get the opportunity to talk with the author personally! What a fun and wonderful opportunity! And that’s not all! The second and third place winners in this contest will also get their own autographed copies of House and Home!
Have I peaked your interest enough? Are you wondering what you need do to enter? Here goes:
1. Leave a comment to this post by 11:59 EST on September 9 and you will receive two entries. Comments left beginning on September 11 at midnight receive one entry. If you comment includes a question about House and Home, for Kathleen McCleary, or about any of the other books in the contest, you will receive an additional entry (three entries possible).
2. If you have a blog, write a post about this contest by 11:59 EST on September 9 and leave me a message with the link to earn two entries. If you do not have a blog, you can send an email telling 3 or more friends about this contest (copy me) by 11:59 EST on September 9 for those two entries.
Selecting the winners: I will be out of town starting Friday, so this is going to be a quick contest. I will be using the List Randomizer on random.org to enter the names and will it will determine the winner at noon on Thursday, September 11 EST. [I have wised up since my last contest. No more writing names down on sheets of paper, cutting them out, folding them, and putting them in a box and asking my beloved husband or bewildered co-workers to pick them out.]
Posting the results: I will be posting the names of the winners at 1pm EST. The name of the person in lucky number 1 spot wins the copy of House and Home, the selection of 10 books I’ve previously reviewed, and a phone conversation with Kathleen McCleary! The names of the people in lucky spots number 2 and 3 (assuming that there aren’t any repeating names – if there are, the second and third unique names) will also receive an autographed copy of House and Home.
Good luck to everyone who enters and a special thanks to Kathleen McCleary for making this contest that much more special!
To buy this novel, click here.