Talking About ‘The Keeper of Lost Things’ with Bibliobeth

The Keeper of Lost Things

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Once a celebrated author of short stories now in his twilight years, Anthony Peardew has spent half his life lovingly collecting lost objects, trying to atone for a promise broken many years before.

Realising he is running out of time, he leaves his house and all its lost treasures to his assistant Laura, the one person he can trust to fulfil his legacy and reunite the thousands of objects with their rightful owners.
But the final wishes of the Keeper of Lost Things have unforeseen repercussions which trigger a most serendipitous series of encounters…

With an unforgettable cast of characters that includes young girls with special powers, handsome gardeners, irritable ghosts and an array of irresistible four-legged friends, The Keeper of Lost Things is a debut novel of endless possibilities and joyful discoveries that will leave you bereft once you’ve finished reading.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions of this book?

BETH: Generally, I thought that it was very easy to read and almost fairy tale like in its execution, particularly with the little short stories that we are told about the lost objects. Some I enjoyed more than others but overall, it seemed to be an intriguing little read.

BETH: How would you describe this book to someone who was interested in reading it?

CHRISSI: It’s a difficult one because it fits into so many genres, so you can’t exactly market it as in a specific genre. I think if I had to pick a word to describe this book it would be whimsical. It’s a story of two parts that meet together even if you don’t expect that they will.

CHRISSI: How does the story of Eunice and Bomber relate to Laura and Anthony’s story? Did you find the two plot strands difficult to juggle, perhaps too distracting? Or do the two tales enhance one another?

BETH: There is a reason for the inclusion of Eunice and Bomber’s story and I won’t go into it too much but it relates to the lost objects that Laura is looking after/trying to find homes for. I wasn’t sure at first how the two stories were connected and to be perfectly honest, preferred the current day story of Laura and Anthony to that of Eunice and Bomber. This is quite a departure for me as usually I much prefer a timeline set in the past compared to a contemporary one and I’m not sure why. Eunice irritated me slightly as a character so perhaps this put me off.

BETH: Which character did you connect with most in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Ooh that’s hard because I really enjoyed two of the characters. I loved Laura and really felt for her at the beginning. She seemed incredibly broken and I really wanted a fix for her. I wanted her to be happy. A character that I really connected with was Sunshine. I thought she was an extraordinary character. I loved her insight. She easily understood things that others didn’t. I loved her view of the world.

CHRISSI: Did you connect with both Eunice and Bomber/Laura and Anthony?

BETH: Haha, I’ve managed to ramble right into the next question!! I didn’t really connect with Eunice as a character I have to say and Bomber was just a bit so-so for me. I found his sister, Portia to be a much more fascinating character to read about although there were some tender moments in the narrative involving these characters and their parents which I really appreciated. Laura and Anthony I liked more but the character who I enjoyed exploring the most was probably Sunshine who be-friends Laura quite near the beginning and becomes a very important part of the novel.

BETH: Did any of the stories about the objects stay with you and if so, which one and why?

CHRISSI: I wish I did have a story that stood out for me, but I really don’t. I thought all of the stories were intriguing in different ways. However,  there were so many of the stories that I couldn’t really focus in on one. There wasn’t one that immediately stuck with me. That’s not to say they weren’t well written. They were! Some were incredibly charming.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare with others in its genre?

BETH: I’m not quite sure where to place this book genre wise. Some parts of it are historical, others contemporary, others kind of magical and fantastical. As a fantasy novel I think there’s a place for it but it’s much more gentle and not as complex as other books in the genre. For me, this was a decent read that I enjoyed but I wasn’t completely blown away.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would. I thought this was an impressive debut. It read like it was from a very established author.

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Yes! 3.5 stars

CHRISSI: Yes!

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Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- The 2018 books are revealed!

2018 brings yet another year of Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit, which has been a fun feature on our blog! As usual, Beth and I have picked 6 books each.

Here are the choices…my choices are in purple, Beth’s in red!

JANUARY – The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader -C.S. Lewis

FEBRUARY- Matilda-Roald Dahl

MARCH – The Girl Of Ink And Stars- Kiran Millwood Hargrave 

APRIL- Ratburger- David Walliams

MAY – The Wide Window (A Series Of Unfortunate Events #3)-Lemony Snicket

JUNE- The Face On The Milk Carton-Caroline B. Cooney

JULY – Murder Most Unladylike- Robin Stevens

AUGUST- The Creakers- Tom Fletcher

SEPTEMBER – Tales Of A Fourth Grade Nothing -Judy Blume

OCTOBER- Nightbirds on Nantucket  (The Wolves Chronicles #3)- Joan Aiken

NOVEMBER – Number The Stars- Lois Lowry

DECEMBER- Time Travelling With A Hamster- Ross Welford

Have you read any of this books? Can you spot a favourite in there? Let us know!

Banned Books #42- The Agony Of Alice

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books post! This month we read The Agony Of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.

The Agony of Alice (Alice, #1)

First published: 1985
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2006 (source)
Reasons: offensive language and sexually explicit

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: This is one of the older releases on our Banned Books list for this year (not quite as old as me but nearly there!) and comes with a fantastic vintage eighties cover that did bring a smile to my face. On reading the synopsis and seeing the front cover, I was intrigued as to why this book might be challenged/banned. I think I’ve mentioned before that I deliberately try to avoid seeing the reasons until after I’ve finished the book. Probably so that I can get even more outraged at them but that’s besides the point. I finished The Agony Of Alice at a bit of a loss to understand what problems people could have had with this story and on reading the reasons why I have to admit I’m at even more of a loss.

CHRISSI: This book is older than me! 😉 It was a really interesting one to look at, especially because it made the challenged list in 2006. I was really intrigued to see why this book could be banned. Quite often I can see why a book may have come into some trouble, but I’m completely stumped with this one. I have no idea why it was challenged. Genuinely. I didn’t find anything offensive about the language and as for sexually explicit? Pah!

How about now?

BETH: This book was first published in 1985 and you might think that some attitudes have relaxed over thirty or so years? However….this book was put on the challenged/banned list in 2006, just over ten years ago so that doesn’t really make very much sense. More importantly, I see no reason at all why this book stirred up so many obviously negative feelings towards it. Offensive language? Sexuality explicit? Give me a break. This book is a story of a normal (sometimes slightly annoying) young girl on the cusp of puberty going through normal emotions and struggling with daily life without a mother figure to support her on the journey. If sexually explicit means sharing an innocent first kiss on a piece of cardboard whilst playing a game of Tarzan oh my goodness please ban every single book in the world because they are all bound to have an offensive scene like this! The only way I can get my head round this is that on the list, it says the series of Alice books has been questioned and perhaps further books in the series, as she becomes a teenager have more explicit material in them that has ruffled a few feathers? I’ll just be over here in the corner, rolling my eyes.

CHRISSI: As before, I don’t really understand. I really am at a loss. There are a lot more explicit pieces of literature out there and nothing that happens in this book would be offensive to our modern day young ‘uns. It’s about a girl who is just about to go through puberty. It’s normal. I don’t see why it was challenged. I really, really don’t. I think it’s so dangerous to challenge books such as this!

What did you think of this book?:

BETH:  I can’t lie, it wasn’t the best book in the world for me but I’m obviously not the target age range. I swayed backwards and forwards over Alice as a character but loved the relationships she ended up developing. It’s a quick, easy read and a good introduction to adolescence for those children teetering on the edge of being a teenager. I also enjoyed the fact that it wasn’t a conventional family set up and the author explored what it was like for Alice to be in a family without a mother.

CHRISSI: It’s an okay read, but I didn’t connect with it very much. Baring in mind, I’m not the target audience I think others might really enjoy it. Alice annoyed me a little as a character and I don’t think I’ll be continuing her story, but many others will and have done!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: Probably!

CHRISSI: Yes!

Thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed our Banned Books posts in 2017, we’ve really enjoyed doing them. Join us again on January 1st 2018 when we’ll be revealing our Banned Books list for 2018! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all.

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Witch Child

Witch Child (Witch Child, #1)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Enter the world of young Mary Newbury, a world where simply being different can cost a person her life. Hidden until now in the pages of her diary, Mary’s startling story begins in 1659, the year her beloved grandmother is hanged in the public square as a witch. Mary narrowly escapes a similar fate, only to face intolerance and new danger among the Puritans in the New World. How long can she hide her true identity? Will she ever find a place where her healing powers will not be feared? 

Thoughts:

I am always excited to read books that involve witches as I enjoy reading that kind of book. However, I felt a little let down by this book which wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be. I’d even go so far to say that I was a little bored when reading it. It was simply the author’s writing style that kept me reading. Her writing was particularly easy to read.

The story centres around Mary. Her grandmother is accused of being a witch and is hung in the town. We learn about Mary’s stories through entries in her diary. Mary flees the town. She is able to get onto a boat that is leaving the continent for the New World. Mary lives within a Puritan settlement. She tries to hide her true self, but becomes a target of hate. Mary just wants to be accepted somewhere and not be feared for her healing powers.

The reason why this book didn’t work for me, was because it didn’t feel original at all. I also didn’t feel like there was enough going on to really capture my attention. I understand that I’m probably not the target audience, but I’m not sure there’s enough for any age to be fully drawn into the story. Perhaps I’m wrong, so I think it’s worth giving the book a try, if you’re into historical fiction.

It’s not all bad though. The plot is particularly light and it’s a quick read! It just didn’t work for me.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:
It’s not for me!- 2.5 stars

Next up in the Beth and Chrissi do Kid-Lit Challenge (December):
Finding Jennifer Jones-Anne Cassidy

Banned Books #41- George

Welcome to this month’s Banned Books post! This month we read George by Alex Gino.

Note: This month’s book was supposed to be The Color Of Earth by Kim Dong Hwa but unfortunately we have not been able to get hold of a copy for a reasonable price so we’ve had to make a last minute switch!

George
First published: 2015
In the Top Ten most frequently challenged books in 2016 (source)
Reasons: challenged because it includes a transgender child, and the “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.”

Do you understand or agree with any of the reasons for the book being challenged when it was originally published?

BETH: I’m really looking forward to hearing Chrissi’s thoughts on George, she said to me she had “a lot to say,” and I’m very intrigued! I found out about this book a while ago through my sister who has already read and done a full length review of it on her blog. I could have already guessed why the book might be challenged but I was really hoping that it wouldn’t be for the reason stated. *Sigh* of course it is. I was really hoping that in 2016, when this book was originally challenged (published in 2015) we were much more enlightened as a species about transgender issues and a book aimed at children about this subject would not be a big deal. Sadly, I was wrong.

CHRISSI: It actually hurt my heart that this book was challenged. It’s aimed at elementary children and in my eyes isn’t inappropriate at all for that age group. It actually makes me mad that it is challenged. The reason why it’s challenged was because ‘the sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels.’ I mean WHAT? Many children know from an early age if they feel like they’re in the wrong body that they were born into. It’s told with a child’s voice. How can it be challenged? I really, really don’t get it.

How about now?

BETH: As George is a very recent release, I’m sure attitudes have not changed very much in the year that it was first challenged. I’d be upset to see it appear again when the list for 2017 comes out but you’re always going to get those people that feel uncomfortable with children’s sexuality, particularly if it happens to be a child determined that they are the opposite sex from the body they have been born into. I think this book is entirely appropriate for the elementary level as it is handled in a very intelligent and sensitive way. In fact, I think children definitely shouldn’t be shielded from these things because in a way, isn’t that confirming to them that being transgender might be strange/wrong (when obviously it is not?!). Of course, if it can help a child that is struggling with their gender assignment and can see themselves in George then that can only be a good thing, I think.

CHRISSI: It definitely has a place for elementary aged readers and those beyond. I think it’s such an innocent read about a topic that isn’t talked about enough. I have experienced teaching a child who is absolutely determined that she’s a boy. It wouldn’t surprise me if she was transgender. I know a lot of people think it’s just a ‘stage’ and for some children it is, but we’re devaluing those for which it’s not by challenging a book like this. Argh, it makes me mad. Children should read books like this, so they know they’re not alone and that people are different. Such a valuable lesson.

What did you think of this book?:

BETH: I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a sweet, quick and easy to read novel. I loved the characters and the message it conveyed although I was quite cross for a little while with a couple of the characters which you might understand if you’ve read this book yourself!

CHRISSI: I think it’s an inspiring read. I’m really pleased I’ve read it and I’d certainly recommend it to elementary aged children!

Would you recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

Talking About ‘The Roanoke Girls’ with Bibliobeth!

The Roanoke Girls

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Vowing to discover the fate of her missing cousin, a woman returns to her family’s Kansas estate where she spent one haunting summer as a teen, and where she discovered the dark heart of the Roanoke clan that left her no choice but to run.

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. Allegra, abandoned by her own mother at birth and raised by her grandparents, introduces Lane to small-town life and the benefits of being one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But there is darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. “Come home,” he beckons. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago. Her return might mean a second chance with Cooper, the boyfriend whom she loved and destroyed that fateful summer. But it also means facing the terrible secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.

As it weaves between the summer of Lane’s first arrival and the summer of her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

CHRISSI: What did you make of Amy Engel’s first step into adult fiction?

BETH: I haven’t actually read any of her young adult fiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect from her writing. I’m really glad now that I went into this book not knowing what to expect as I think that’s definitely the way it should be read. I had heard so much buzz about it on Twitter and read some really great reviews from bloggers I love and trust so I was really excited to get stuck in. I also managed to avoid any spoilers which is fantastic as this is definitely a book that could be spoiled if a reviewer isn’t careful.

BETH: You had some quite conflicting feelings about this novel. Can you try and explain them?

CHRISSI: I can’t really articulate my feelings around this book because they’re so complex! At some points I thought it was brilliantly dark and deeply disturbing which I don’t mind in a book. I didn’t like any of the characters…again, not something that bothers me, so it can’t exactly be that. It’s incredibly hard to explain my feelings about this book in a way that doesn’t spoil it for future readers. Let’s just say, I didn’t like the way some aspects of the book weren’t challenged by the characters. I couldn’t feel empathy with them because of that. No one seemed to care or challenge issues. That frustrated me.

CHRISSI: Discuss the complex relationship between Lane and Allegra.

BETH: Lane and Allegra are cousins and when Lane’s mother dies, she comes to live at the Roanoke house with her grandfather, grandmother and cousin Allegra who has been raised there from a baby. At first, the two girls are delighted to be reunited and desperate to get to know each other, especially as they are of a similar age. It isn’t long though before tensions mount and their relationship becomes a lot more fragile which is one of the many factors that leads to Lane leaving and Allegra disappearing.

BETH: Without spoilers, did the main shock of the novel come as a big surprise to you?

CHRISSI: It didn’t. I started to guess what was going on as the story progressed. I was hoping it wasn’t going to be that way, but it was! This book is disturbing and I do feel that it should be approached with caution if you’re sensitive about some subjects that could trigger you.

CHRISSI: Discuss the small town setting of the novel and what this adds to the story.

BETH: Amy Engel captures all the quirks of a small town perfectly. Everybody knows who everybody else is and this means they also think that they’re entitled to know all their business too. There isn’t much to do in the town, purely because of the size of it and its distance from neighbouring towns so this gives some of the inhabitants, particularly our female protagonist Lane, the feeling of being too tightly enclosed and trapped. We also see when Lane returns as an adult how many things have stayed exactly the same (including people that she has left behind) and how frustrating this is for her as she fights to be free.

BETH: How do you think this book sits in the genre?

CHRISSI: I think it stands out as a book that is quite polarising. I can imagine some people will love its deep and dark subject matter. Others like me, would hope for some more sensitivity given the subject matter. It’s certainly a dark and gritty read. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t mind reading this book and it didn’t take long to read…it’s just not something I’d personally re-read.

CHRISSI: I had a love/hate relationship with this book. How did you feel about it?

BETH: I know you had quite an interesting reading experience with The Roanoke Girls where you couldn’t quite make up your mind whether you liked it or hated it but for me I think it was a bit more black and white. I did really enjoy this novel, purely because it was so dark and twisty which was a welcome bonus – I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be as disturbing as it was! I didn’t particularly like any of the characters at all but I don’t think you have to like a character to appreciate a good story either, sometimes I feel the best novels are where you have such strong feelings of DISLIKE for a character! It also had a great little twist at the end which I kind of guessed just before the final scene but was still a fantastic end to the novel.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I think I would. I didn’t hate the writing style, I found it particularly engaging! I would be interested to read the YA fiction that the author has had published!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! (With caution)

Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit- Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles #2)

Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2)

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase

Synopsis:

‘Wait, wait! Save us! What’ll we do?’

Simon is determined to become a painter when he grows up so he sets off to London to make his fortune. But the city is plagued by wolves and mysterious disappearances. The Twite household, where Simon is lodging, seems particularly shifty. Before he even gets a chance to open his glistening new paints Simon stumbles right into the centre of a plot to kill the King. And worse than that Simon is kidnapped and sent to sea! Luckily there are two friendly stowaways aboard – the feisty Dido Twite and the spoiled young Justin. But when the ship catches fire things look pretty dire. Can they escape? Will they save the king in time?

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed the first instalment in this series intended for children but totally readable for adults. It has an old-fashioned feel to it which I absolutely love. We learn about a minor character (Simon) from the first book. We are also introduced to new characters such as Dido Twite. I love that this book can be read as a standalone book. You don’t need to read the first one to enjoy this one!

In this story, Simon goes to London to learn how to paint. He’s in search of Dr Field, but no one seems to know where he is or much about him at all. There’s some conspiracy against the King and the Duke and Simon combines studying and working to try and figure everything out.

It’s a book where you have to go with the plot. It’s crazy and silly, but that, in my opinion, is totally its charm. Some things are very unbelievable, but it’s worth going with it for the sheer fun that is this series. I have really enjoyed Joan Aiken’s writing style in the two books I’ve read so far. It’s easy to read and has humour within the story, something I think is very important in keeping young readers engaged.

I have to admit to being a little frustrated with the slang in the book. I know it fit with the character, but I felt it made my reading experience a little stilted which is what affected my enjoyment of the story as a whole. That said, it’s so worth reading, especially if you’ve read the first book in the series.

For Beth’s wonderful review, please check out her blog HERE!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Next up in Beth and Chrissi Do Kid-Lit Challenge (November):
Witch Child – Celia Rees