The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

Ruth Hogan, the international bestselling author behind the The Keeper of Lost Things returns with an irresistible novel of unexpected friendships, second chances—and dark secrets…

They say friends make life worth living…

Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, Masha’s life was forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds comfort in her faithful canine companion Haizum, and peace in the quiet lanes of her town’s swimming pool. Almost without her realizing it, her life has shuddered to a halt.

It’s only when Masha begins an unlikely friendship with the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice and a penchant for saying just what she means, that a new world of possibilities opens up: new friendships, new opportunities, and even a chance for new love. For the first time in years, Masha has the chance to start living again.

But just as Masha dares to imagine the future, her past comes roaring back…

Like her beloved debut, The Keeper of Lost Things, Ruth Hogan’s second novel introduces a cast of wonderful characters, both ordinary and charmingly eccentric, who lead us through a moving exploration of the simple human connections that unite us all.

March 15, 2019
5 of 5 stars

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes Review

A special thank you to NetGalley, and Crooked Lane Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I loved this book so much I immediately wanted to read it over again! This story was written to perfection from the opening line to the amazing ending. The language is beautiful, yet I found myself skipping over some of the poems and impressive vocabulary to race through the story! Another reason to read it again!

“Life is full of small joys if you know where to look for them.”

What I particularly loved about this book is there was intrigue and mystery from the very start. There was no dump of back-story to weigh it down, yet each concise chapter leaked another clue. It was very much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. And I LOVE jigsaw puzzles.

The introduction of the main characters in the opening chapters set the stage pretty quickly around graveyards, swimming pools, and the subject of drowning. Masha appears to be obsessed with them all. Masha spends a great deal of time wandering the graveyard with or without her dog Haizum, having conversations with the occupants of the various grave sites. She considers them ‘my Family on the Other Side.’

As the stories unfold for “Sally”, Masha, Alice, and Mattie, (in order of introduction) the theme of death, grief, and dark secrets begins to evolve.

“When the music ends for someone you love you don’t stop dancing. You dance for them as well.”

It was right around Chapter 50, I was lying in bed, my mind turning over the chapters I’d read the night before, when I had the AH HA moment!! So much for sleeping in!

At that point, I was excited to finish it, to see if I am right, and at the same time afraid I am! For the next couple of chapters, I convinced myself I was mistaken, but then another clue. Reading it on my Kindle, I was beginning to hyperventilate at the 95% mark. HOW was she going to finish this in so few pages? The ending was PERFECT!!!!! I couldn’t believe the beautiful way Ruth completed the story.

I laughed, I cried, I wondered, and I loved. All of the things a great read should do for you!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The incredible story of the Auschwitz-Birkenau tattooist and the woman he loved. 
Lale Sokolov is well-dressed, a charmer, a ladies’ man. He is also a Jew. On the first transport from Slovakia to Auschwitz in 1942, Lale immediately stands out to his fellow prisoners. In the camp, he is looked up to, looked out for, and put to work in the privileged position of Tätowierer– the tattooist – to mark his fellow prisoners, forever. One of them is a young woman, Gita, who steals his heart at first glance. 
His life given new purpose, Lale does his best through the struggle and suffering to use his position for good. 
This story, full of beauty and hope, is based on years of interviews author Heather Morris conducted with real-life Holocaust survivor and Auschwitz- Birkenau tattooist Ludwig (Lale) Sokolov. It is heart-wrenching, illuminating, and unforgettable.

December 31, 2018
2 0f 5 stars

I enjoyed the beginning, it read like an historical novel. However, towards the end it read more like an agenda. Then at the end, it seemed almost biographical. When I got to the epilogue, it totally read like a true life story. Get to the disclaimer at the very last page… “…a work of fiction…”
Really confused and a tad bit annoyed. 🙁
Did Lale and Gita REALLY exist or????

The Sex Effect

With hilarious wit and sharp insights, The Sex Effect draws on history, psychology, religion, and sociology, and combines innovative research and analysis with captivating anecdotes to reveal just how much sex shapes our society. Blending quirky trivia (discover the real origins of corn flakes, vibrators, and Viagra!) with compelling questions (Why are our most successful leaders also the friskiest? How could building a gay neighborhood save Detroit from economic ruin?), The Sex Effect shows how the influence of sex and our sexual attitudes is everywhere and highlights how we can use this knowledge to improve our everyday decisions and better understand the world in which we live.

The Sex Effect Review ~ March 3, 2017
5 of 5 stars

A special thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.    

A laugh out loud, eyebrow raising, and demystifying, tale about SEX! This book should be in every university bookstore in North America, and could easily be the subject of a complete sociology course. But don’t let text book status scare you, it’s a highly entertaining read for anyone.

The history of bees

In the spirit of Station Eleven and Never Let Me Go, this dazzling and ambitious literary debut follows three generations of beekeepers from the past, present, and future, weaving a spellbinding story of their relationship to the bees, to their children, and to one another against the backdrop of an urgent, global crisis.

England, 1852. William is a biologist and seed merchant who sets out to build a new type of beehive, one that will give both him and his children honor and fame.

United States, 2007. George is a beekeeper fighting an uphill battle against modern farming, but he hopes that his son can be their salvation.

China, 2098. Tao hand paints pollen onto the fruit trees now that the bees have long since disappeared. When Tao’s young son is taken away by the authorities after a tragic accident, she sets out on a grueling journey to find out what happened to him.

Haunting, illuminating, and deftly written, 
The History of Bees joins these three very different narratives into one gripping and thought-provoking story that is just as much about the powerful bond between children and parents as it is about our very relationship to nature and humanity.

January 26, 2018 ~ 4 of 5 stars

The History of Bees Review

A special thank you to NetGalley, and Simon & Schuster for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A compelling look from three different perspectives, and three different time lines, at how bees play a role in day to day life. There is plenty of mystery and intrigue in this novel to keep the pages turning. The opening lines of the story are beautifully descriptive, and that style of language is carried throughout the book. It invokes a sympathy from the reader for the plight of the characters.

Unfortunately, with my schedule and commitments, I’m a read 10 pages, back up and reread 3 or 4 the next time I get to sit down with it, so the continuity is sometimes lost. Tao’s story was my favourite, and when I reached the end, I felt that hers was the only story clearly summed up. William I lost several chapters before the end, and George disappeared as well. I went back several chapters to reread the ending to see if I missed something. I was more satisfied after my reread, but I still feel William was left to ones imagination more than I would have liked.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, its subject matter and its characters.

I will definitely read more from Maja Lunde!