Friday, February 5, 2016

Review: The Things We Keep

The Things We Keep
by Sally Hepworth

Why I chose this book? the similarity to Five Days Left
When I read this book? January 2016
Who should read this book? readers who enjoyed Five Days Left and Still Alice
Source: Reading Group Gold
Here is a synopsis of The Things We Keep from Goodreads

Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Eve Bennett is suddenly thrust into the role of single mother she finds herself putting her culinary training to use at Rosalind house. When she meets Anna and Luke she is moved by the bond the pair has forged. But when a tragic incident leads Anna's and Luke's families to separate them, Eve finds herself questioning what she is willing to risk to help them.

My Review

When I saw that Reading Group Gold was offering ARCs of this book I grabbed it. The synopsis reminded me a bit of Five Days Left and Still Alice. While I didn’t like it quite as much as I did those, it was a fantastic read! In this story two young people are suffering from different forms of dementia: Anna has early onset Alzheimer’s which results in progressive memory loss for her, and Luke has frontotemporal dementia which results in his slowly losing his ability to speak coherently. There is also a secondary story of Eve Bennett who suddenly finds herself with financial difficulties and a young child to care for. Though she is a trained chef, she takes a job as a cook at the assisted living facility where Anna and Luke live in order to keep her daughter at the school she loves.

I thought the author presented a very realistic picture of what it must be like for people coping with dementia, both as patient and as caregiver. While at times Anna was completely lucid and able to reason, at other times, she was disoriented and unable to function. This of course go worse as time progressed. It was interesting to see Anna was able to recognize that she was no longer thinking clearly and to understand why this was happening. This was very frustrating, not only for Anna, who knew she was not always making sense, but also for her family, who while they knew why this was happening, still couldn’t quite grasp how much she had deteriorates. I also enjoyed many of the characters we met, especially the older married couple, Laurie and Clara, who shared a suite at the assisted living center, and Bert, the ‘grumpy old man’ with a soft heart!

The secondary story of Eve was one I didn’t enjoy so much. While I appreciated Eve’s ability to see through the disease and appreciate Anna and all the residents as people, I thought some of her actions were unrealistic, and the resolution came about a little too easily. At the same time, I felt that her story was left up in the air, and we don’t really know what happened down the road with her romantic interest.

Despite this minor short-coming, I enjoyed the book very much!  This was a story of hope and redemption that showed us that even when very bad things happen, good things can come out of it. This will be another great pick for book clubs to discuss, with topics ranging from ‘what would you do’ as one of the characters, to what makes a person’s life worth living, priorities, and more! I found a discussion guide online at Book Browse, but I think a group could have a great discussion centered around this book even with no guide!

My Rating:  ★★★★½              4½ Stars

I received an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book from Reading Group Gold.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Wondrous Words Wednesday - February 3, 2016

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to learn some new words! Wondrous Words Wednesday, hosted by Kathy at Bermuda Onion, is a meme which encourages us to share words we have learned while reading. The words I share will sometimes be completely new to me, and other times they will be words I am familiar with, and maybe even use correctly, but when I think about how to explain the meaning, I’m lost — I have to look it up. It’s all about expanding my vocabulary!

I’m still making my way through The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher, so I have a couple of new words from that one.

truculent - aggressively self-assertive; easily annoyed or angered
“Usually the spirit was affable, as had been the man, except when encountering a sitter he did not like; then he became truculent, a force to be feared.”  - page 125

gimcrack - showy object of little use or value
“In a Cleveland hotel banquet hall a gimcrack band played ragtime.”  - page 137

I also have a few words I came across while reading The Things We Keep by Sally Hepworth

veritable - real or true
“Every morning and afternoon, the nurse rolls her table-on-wheels through the halls with the baskets, a veritable candy woman of pharmaceuticals.”  - page 7

gormless - stupid, dull
“Just like that, his gormless smile is back.”  - page 75

secateurs - pruning shears
“He drops his secateurs into a bucket and dips to snatch up a larger pair of garden shears.”  - page 83

What new-to-you words have you discovered this week?

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Big Library Read: Vote Now!

Have you heard of Big Library Read? Chances are if your library uses Overdrive as a source of ebooks, you have. This is a ‘book club’ of sorts, sponsored by Overdrive, that attempts to enable the ‘whole’ world to read the same book at the same time. Several times each year, Overdrive chooses a book and makes unlimited copies available for two weeks through participating library systems. During this time, you can check out the ebook as usual with NO wait list. And all your friends can do the same, so you can all read it at the same time and discuss it.

Though I’ve thought of participating each time, I’ve only actually done so once, and that was last October. The book chosen was In The Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. Truthfully I didn’t expect to read it, but it was sitting there waiting for me to check out, so when I found I had a little extra reading time on my hands [the Cardinals were eliminated from the postseason early :( ] I picked it up. And I enjoyed it very much. My only disappointment was that, even though ‘everybody’ was reading this book, I didn’t see anyway to discuss it with the world, but perhaps there were programs available through the library that I’m not aware of.

What I am leading up to is this — there is another Big Library Read event coming up next month, March 17-31. And this time, YOU can help choose the book that is offered. (I really don’t know if voting was done in the past, but this is the first time I’ve voted.) There are about two dozen books to choose from, all from the memoir/biography genre. Why don’t you take a look and see if anything interests you? If enough bloggers are interested in the final choice, maybe we can figure out a way to do a read-along and discussion together.

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Monday, February 1, 2016

February 2016 Reading Map

It’s the beginning of the month and time to plan out my reading. I do this with a ‘Reading Map’. This is like a road map of my reading journey. Each month I do a ‘check-up’ to help me see what I’ve accomplished towards my reading goals and to help me see what needs to be done next.

First I like to take a look at what I’ve accomplished over the past month.

What I read in January

What I DNF’d

What I’m currently reading.

And now it is time to look ahead for this month. You may remember that this year I am going to split my reading map into two legs. The first leg will consist of ‘must-read’ books; books that I have committed to read for reviews in the next few weeks. The second leg will be books that I want to read, and am currently in the mood to read, but there is no pressing need or commitment to read them now. Depending on my reading moods and what may come along this month, I may or may not complete the second leg!

February 2016 Reading Map

Leg 1: Must-reads

Leg 2: May-reads

Do you have a ‘map’ to help guide your reading? If so, share it below in the comments. Maybe I’ll see something I want to add to my list! Happy reading!

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