#100 ~ House and Home & My 100th Review Contest

September 8, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Books, Family, LIfe, My Life with Books, Reading, Secrets and Lies | 50 Comments
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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.

House and Home by Kathleen McCleary

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.


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  1. This novel looks great. I definitely want to read it. My question for Kathleen is simply, “What was your inspiration for writing this book?”

    I did blog about it too…

    Congratulations on 100 reviews. Terrific accomplishment.

  2. Congratulations on your 100th review – it was another great one. Please enter me in your contest.

  3. Wow. This is a crazy contest Jennifer! I should probably just hope for 2nd or 3rd place, because I already own or have read most of the books on your list but, on the other hand, I really want “The Lady Elizabeth”!

    “House and Home” hadn’t really appealed to me (I’m not sure why – title? cover?), but now I think it sounds fantastic. I think I would like to ask Kathleen how she feels about her own home (her favorite thing about it, etc) and whether that influenced her in writing a character that loved her home enough to want to burn it down.

  4. I’ve been seeing mention of this book around, but your review is the first one. It sounds great! I’d probably ask the author whether her own life experiences influenced the book in any way. It’s hard to come up with questions when I haven’t read it myself!

    This is a great celebration contest and I’d love to enter! Congratulations on 100 reviews and let’s hope for at least 100 more!

  5. Holy cow, that’s a great contest! Plenty of books there I would love to read!

    My question for Kathleen is “What surprised you the most about your story or characters while writing this book?”

    Also, FYI, the link to the TLC Book Tours website is wonky… maybe missing an http?

  6. Thanks to all of you for you responses! You’re all entered.
    Fyrefly, I’ve updated the link. I used a www instead of an http. Thanks for the heads-up!

  7. You don’t need to enter me in the contest (I’m swimming in books right now!), but I wanted to stop in and say “Great review!” and wonderful post. I agree with your conclusions about the book – it is definitely about relationships and what is really important (and also how “things” can represent our memories of events or people).


  8. Congratulations on the 100th review. Please enter me in the great contest. My question would be about the Catherine Parr book, wondering if there is much of the book devoted to her role as a stepmother to Elizabeth I??


  9. Thank you so much, Wendy! I really appreciate your comments.
    Linda, regarding Catherine’s relationship with Elizabeth 1, there is a good portion of both The Last Wife of Henry VIII and The Lady Elizabeth devoted to that relationship. You get it from both perspectives if you read both books. If you are interested in that, you should be very happy if you win this contest. Thanks so much for the question!

  10. Congrats on the 100th review! My question for Kathleen is, “What kind of research, if any, did you have to do for this book?”

  11. I blogged about it here:


  12. Awesome giveaway! I amazingly only have one of those great books so I would love to win:)! Love your review! My question is for Katleen, What is you’re writing process?

  13. I haven’t read any of the books you have listed, so here’s my entry! I really am impressed that you find the time and energy to devote to reading–and promoting reading.

  14. Congratulations on your 100th review!

    I love the cover for Kathleen’s book. I enjoyed your review and it’s going on my wish list 🙂

  15. Congratulations on your 100th review…that is awesome! And what a great giveaway. I’ll blog about it soon. 🙂

  16. As soon as I read to the part when you mention Ellen will burn her house down to keep others from owning it, I can’t help thinking that the cover is deceptively calm! But you have my interest peaked now, I’ll check this book out! 🙂

  17. Congratulations! I hit my 100th post today, but I’ve got a long way to go get to to 100 reviews.

    I blogged about your contest here and I hope I win!

  18. I read *House and Home* (excellent!), and will be reviewing it next Monday. I have several of the books in your prize pile, so no need to enter me in the contest … I just wanted to say congratulations on posting 100 book reviews – that is impressive! (and more than one a week, which was your original goal, right?)

  19. Congratulations on your 100th Review!!

    My question for Kathleen would be: How do you schedule your writing time? Do you plan certain hours of the day to write or is it more when the whim strikes you?

    Thanks Jennifer, for the email! I think I got my computer fixed now!

  20. BTW–I got a good laugh out of your description of your previous method for picking winners….that’s exactly how I do it (husband & all)!

  21. Congratulations on your milestone review! And thanks for giving us all a chance to win some really cool books. I’ve got my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed (someone else is braiding my hair!)
    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  22. Hello and thanks for a *great* book giveaway contest. I think I’m in time for two entries … and for my third entry, my question for Alison Weir would be:

    “With all the books already written about Elizabeth, what new aspect, or flavor, did you hope to bring to this novel? In short, what made you *want* to write a book about Elizabeth?”

    Thanks again for a wonderful opportunity!


  23. Congrats on your 100th! What a great contest. My question for Kathleen would be: “Are the antiques, coffee and tea topics in your book something you are interested in and know about or things that you had to research? Thanks!

  24. Congratulations on your 100th post! What a great contest! My question is about “The Gargoyle”: How is The Gargoyle structured? How do the various stories connect together?

  25. I was shocked for a moment when I read that Ellen would rather burn down her home than lose it to others. My home burned down when I was a teenager and it still comes back to me sometimes how horrible that was. That’s quite the metaphor for feelings.I wonder how she came up with that idea for her story? Please enter me, thank you. And well done on your 100th review.

  26. Congrats for finish 1oo reviews!

    And my question for Kathleen is:

    How much do you think faith is important in any relationship?

    Wouldn’t I just love to win the books?!!!


  27. Congrats on 100 reviews! That’s phenomenal.

    For Kathleen- Was House & Home at all personal for you? I often wonder if sometimes writing novels is like getting feelings out but just in a different way than writing in a journal does.

  28. Congrats on your 100th Review!!! I’m a new blogger so it’s inspiring to see how others have grown here in blogging world!

    Great contest! My question for Kathleen is:
    “Do you personally identify with any of your characters?”

  29. Sounds like a great book. I’ve also mentioned the contest at my blog…http://shswarriormom.blogspot.com/2008/09/another-contest.html.

  30. Congrats on your 100th review!

    My question for the author is: where did you get the inpiration for your novel? Is it something that you had completely planned out from the beginning, or did the story kind of develop itself?

    Great contest Literate Housewife!

  31. […] her 100th review and she is having an amazing contest where you can win up to 11 books!  Click here for details. […]

  32. OK, I’ll play. Congrats on your 100th review!

    Question for McCleary: What, do you think, connects us to houses/places. Sure, we lived there, but what makes that bond so strong?

  33. What a great contest! I am thrilled to have a chance.
    My question for the author would be, “We all have to give up things in life, what is the hardest thing you ever had to give up?”

    I posted about your contest here

  34. […]  The Literate Housewife on Monday, September 8th **includes a giveaway! […]

  35. Hey.. congrats on your 100th review!:) it is such a cool achievement!:) Do enter me for the giveaway as well.. my question for Kathleen –
    “What made you pick that particular picture for the cover of the book? I totally loved the warm, cozy look of the room!

  36. Congrats on your 100th review! That’s a ton! Thanks for the contest 🙂

  37. Congratulations!! I’d love to be entered! The book sounds like a great read, and this is a great contest!

  38. Congrats for your 100th post.

    So here is my question for you both….

    What book have you read that has changed the way you look at the world and how has it changed?!

  39. Happy Tuesday! Congratulations on reaching your 100th book review! That is quite a milestone. I wish you many more happy and healthy reviews! I love the cover of your book. To me, a cover can say so much about a book. There is such a distinct difference between the words house and home, I think. Please enter me in your delightful book giveaway drawing. Many thanks,

  40. Congratulations on your 100th review! I just discovered your blog and am having a great time “catching up.” I would love to be entered in your contest, as you have me curious if slightly unsure about what I can expect from House and Home. So my question is this: Is there another book of similar tone/theme that you (or the author) would compare it to?

    As for the other titles in your giveaway, I LOVED The Gargoyle (though I already have an ARC myself) and have been wanting to read Stewart O’Nan’s latest.

  41. Congrats to you! I am new to your blog but you write very nice reviews and I will definitely be adding you to the google reader immediately. 🙂 Please enter me in this contest, as I’d of course love to win all these books!!

  42. I’ve got way too many books to read, so I don’t think I should be entered in the contest (and boy were those words hard to type). But I wanted to say “Congratulations!” on your 100th review. I don’t really number my reviews, so I’m not sure how many I’ve done, but it probably isn’t anywhere close to 100. At any rate, you are to be commended!

  43. Congratulations on #100 and keep on blogging!!

    My question for the author, since you mentioned Sunny Came Home, is “Do you listen to music while writing/plotting your books, and if so, what do you listen to?”

  44. Congrats on your hundredth post! I love the song Sunny came home.

  45. Thank you everyone who has entered or commented to this post! I am having so much fun with this and I have my little file of everyone’s entries. I’ve compiled your questions for Kathleen and have sent them to her. I’m hoping that we’ll hear back from her very soon!
    Alessandra, The Gargoyle begins with the narrator’s car crash and aftermath. Once Marianne Engel enters the story, the historical aspect of the novel starts as well through stories she tells the narrator in current time.
    What would I compare House and Home too… that’s a good questions, Tracy. This novel is written to and for women and has a tone similar to women’s fiction. The theme would most closely relate in theme to other women’s fiction relating to coping with divorce and/or loss of a child/miscarriage.

  46. […] 11 books to one lucky commenter, and runner up prizes of House and Home by Kathleen McCleary.  See here for […]

  47. I just found your blog today, Jennifer, and I am adding it to my bookmarks. I always have plenty to read, but that doesn’t stop me from looking for more, so please enter me into your “House and Home” sweepstakes. Keep up the good work!

  48. […] TLC Book Tours – Literate Housewife […]

  49. Okay, I don’t know if I still have time to enter, but I’m going to try! This book sounds interesting. I’m a big homebody, so I think I understand the premise of it.

    My question for the author would be – What propelled you to write about a woman losing her home? It’s definitely a hot topic right now with the way the economy is declining. Does the author have any personal experience with the depression/heartache that goes along with such a big loss?

  50. Susan, you squeaked in as the last entry. 🙂 The winner will be posted at 1pm, everyone!

    Thanks again for everything!

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