Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan – #Audiobook Review – #TuesdayBookBlog

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

A Reading Ireland Month bookSt Patty's Day Hat

“Heavy is the head that wears a crown.” 

Book Blurb:

It is 1985 in a small Irish town. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant and family man, faces into his busiest season. Early one morning, while delivering an order to the local convent, Bill makes a discovery that forces him to confront both his past and the complicit silences of a town controlled by the church. 

Already an international bestseller, Small Things Like These is a deeply affecting story of hope, quiet heroism, and empathy from one of our most critically lauded and iconic writers.

My Review:

Released just in time for Christmas last year, this beautiful tome should have been described as a novella—as you can see–even the audiobook is very short.

Small Things Like These by Claire KeeganIt is, upfront, an unapologetic tale of the Magdalene Laundries and the Catholic Church nuns who administer the enterprise, now having been exposed as a shameful part of Irish history.

Bill Furlong was the child of an unwed mother who was under the employ of a well-to-do widow. The child and his mother were allowed to stay and he grew up under the roof of the kind widow. Bill eventually marries and has five daughters of his own. He has become a successful entrepreneur providing coal to homes in his village for heating. One of his customers is the large monastery where delivering coal just before Christmas he discovers by accident a young girl who begs him to help her escape the nunnery. He cannot at that moment but is haunted by what he saw.

Oh, my… This emotional and poignant little narrative seems to be deeply character-driven while it craftily lays out a powerful indictment on one hand and the generous magnitude of a man with five daughters of his own on the other. The story carefully paints the beauty of the time of year, the level of humanity exhibited by the townspeople in the spirit of the season, and juxtaposed the horrific conditions of the girls in the nunnery. It’s a heart-wrenching vision that tears at the emotions.

It’s a story that has you wondering where it’s going while it quietly lays out the backstory sufficient to give you the moral code engrained in Furlong. So perhaps the conclusion doesn’t come as a big surprise as much as the abrupt end to the tale. I guess you don’t really need a picture—you can fill the rest in—and each reader will do so in their own way.

A sweet little piece that has you reeled in only to realize after it ended how special it is.

Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Small Town & Rural Fiction, British and Irish Literary Fiction
Publisher: HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books
ASIN: B09N42GCTT
Listening Length: 1 hr 57 mins
Narrator: Aidan Kelly
Publication Date: December 17, 2021
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: Small Things Like These [Amazon]

 

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

 

Claire Keegan - authorThe Author: CLAIRE KEEGAN was raised on a farm in Ireland. Her stories have won numerous awards and are translated into more than twenty languages. Antarctica won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and was chosen as a Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. Walk the Blue Fields won the Edge Hill Prize for the finest collection of stories published in the British Isles. Foster, after winning the Davy Byrnes Award—then the world’s richest prize for a story—was recently selected by The Times UK as one of the top 50 novels to be published in the 21st century. Her stories have been published in the New YorkerThe Paris ReviewGranta, and Best American Stories. Keegan is now holding the Briena Staunton Fellowship at Pembroke College, Cambridge. [Amazon]

[Goodreads: Claire Keegan was born in Wexford in 1968. A member of Aosdána, she lives in Co. Wexford. Photo attribute]

© V Williams V Williams

Reading Ireland Month 2021

The Red Button: The Sweet Romance Prequel to A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Keith Eldred – #BookReview – Victorian Historical Romance

Book Blurb:

The Red Button by Keith EldredFind fresh affection for A Christmas Carol with this classic prequel and enjoy the new holiday tradition of the Red Button.

The untold story of the doomed romance. 

Belle Endicott and Ebenezer Scrooge are young, bookish, hardworking Londoners drawn together by button-making. His brand-new factory threatens her family’s tiny shop, yet they fall in love and start planning their future. When personal and business calamities strike, they confront them vigorously side by side, but ultimately something has to give. We know what it is. They do not.

His Review:

Can a person serve two masters? Becoming the richest person in the world or a happily married man are the tasks before Ebenezer Scrooge. He is smitten with the lovely Belle Endicott and she is the daughter of a famous button manufacturer. This is at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Belle and her father have long been one of the finest button manufacturers in the world. Belle learned her craft from her mother and works with her father. Ebenezer wants to mechanize the process. He also has a very deep interest in young Belle.

The Red Button by Keith EldredA red button is at the heart of the story. The button is given to Ebenezer by Belle and he carries it with him everywhere. If the button is not in his pocket it is around his neck. The Endicott family and Scrooge develop a production alliance whereas the Endicott group prepare hand- crafted special order buttons and the factory produces the mass-produced buttons for clothing manufacturers. The Red Button chronicles the mental struggles encountered by Ebenezer.

This is a great read for anyone who wishes to excel in life. The age-old adage of trying to serve two masters is evident. Can the drive for world domination be done concurrently with making a happy life with a spouse? Ebenezer desperately hopes that this is true. However, cornering the clothing fastener market in the British Empire takes much of his time. He does not have the time to court Belle and corner the market.

The give and take of the struggles are well documented by The Red Button. Belle is smitten with her “Ben” and would entertain his proposal, but work always seems to get in the way. This middle school novel paints an interesting picture of who the young Ebenezer Scrooge might have been. It is a fun, fast, and interesting read. 4.5 stars – CE Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author without expectation of a review and these are my unbiased opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four point Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Holiday Fiction, Victorian Historical Romance
Publisher: This is RED 
ISBN: 097676461X
ASIN: B08L9MY4F2
Print Length: 250 pages
Publication Date: October 22, 2020
Source: Direct author request
Title Link: The Red Button

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Keith Eldred- authorThe Author: Keith Eldred created the THIS IS RED project with his wife Janet, a public library director diagnosed with early-stage dementia. With Janet’s condition making every day precious, they decided to make the most of 2020, the year of their 30th anniversary, by publishing 20 books. All profits from these titles go the Hollidaysburg Area Public Library, where Janet works. See more at http://www.thisis.red.

Keith is also helping his granddaughter Brook Johnson (age 8) create a book trilogy about her character The Puppy Queen.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan Hatler – a #BookReview – Christmas Mountain Clean Romance Book 8

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan Hatler

Book Blurb:

City girl and former foster child Lacey Lane arrives in Christmas Mountain to do research for a hit reality dating show she produces. If the location gets approved for filming then she’ll receive a bonus that will allow her to buy her own house–a forever home after a lifetime of moving from place to place.

Jacob Curtis is a small-town guy who doesn’t want his hometown exploited for ratings. Lacey might think he’s her tour guide, showing her all the best places to film her show, but he has a different agenda: show her all the reasons the town wouldn’t appeal to her TV audience.

Lacey catches on quickly to Jacob’s goal to undermine her research and soon they’re engaging in a dance that takes them from one end of Christmas Mountain to the other. Before long, she’s charmed by the town and its people, including Jacob, who is funny, heartfelt, and honest. For once in her life, she’s slowing down long enough to focus on things other than her career.

But when it’s clear Lacey and Jacob have developed feelings for one another, Lacey is torn. Regardless of where the show is filmed, will she return to the city to buy her dream house? Or will she stay in Christmas Mountain and make a home with the man of her dreams?

My Review:

Looking for a quick little Christmas read, I stumbled upon this holiday romance, rom-com. Before you start rolling your eyes at me, no, I didn’t realize it would be quite so saccharine, but there is a plot and all the cliques you’d expect.

A Sugar Plum Christmas by Susan HatlerPopular right now to introduce the main character as a foster child, fiercely independent, unattached and staying that way. She is excited about her scouting trip to beautiful little Christmas Mountain to find the sites and scene settings for their fourth season of her reality romance TV show series.

Descriptions of the little town and the friendly people certainly bring that small home town nostalgia to focus, imagining the little shops, their decorations, and lights. Meeting the townspeople, contending with the temperatures and snow and learning about their traditions is sweet.

Of course it wouldn’t be complete unless she stumbled, literally, into the fella who’ll become the romantic interest. And actually, seems she stumbles quite often. Clumsy. He’s gorgeous, unattached, and talented with his wooden projects, loves his family and his small town.

Totally enjoyed the interruption to the love fest when the boss from New York showed up. All right! A little conflict! (As if a cross country romance isn’t conflict enough.)

My first romp with the series and the author. Those who are fans of small town romances will greatly enjoy and those like myself will have no problem reading as a standalone.

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher and NetGalley. These are my honest thoughts.

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Book Details:

Genre: Fiction Classics, Holiday Fiction, Holiday Romance
Publisher: Hatco Publishing

  • ASIN : B07XYK2HS1

Print Length: 210 pages
Publication Date: December 14, 2020
Source: Publisher and NetGalley
Title Link(s): A Sugar Plum Christmas [Amazon]

Susan Hatler - authorThe Author: SUSAN HATLER is a New York Times and USA TODAY Bestselling Author, who writes humorous and emotional contemporary romance and young adult novels. Many of Susan’s books have been translated into German, Spanish, French, and Italian. A natural optimist, she believes life is amazing, people are fascinating, and imagination is endless. She loves spending time with her characters and hopes you do, too.

***** To receive a FREE BOOK, click the following link now to sign up for Susan’s Newsletter: http://susanhatler.com/newsletter *****

You can reach Susan here:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/authorsusanhatler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/susanhatler
Twitter: http://twitter.com/susanhatler
Website: http://susanhatler.com
Blog: http://susanhatler.com/category/susans-blog

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