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review 2016-11-18 00:00
The House at the End of Hope Street
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag While there were moments that fell a bit short, I found this one overall charming; played well with my assumptions, made me think and made me want to visit the place, sounds like a great place for a break.
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review 2016-04-02 06:48
The House at the End of Hope Street
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag

I think my first experience reading about a house that was 'alive' might have been A Discovery of Witches; it was the first one to make an impression, anyway, and I was thoroughly charmed by the idea.  The House at the End of Hope Street makes the house a central character, and I just ate it up.  I love the house and Mog.


Alba is a child prodigy working on her PhD in modern history at Cambridge, at the age of 19, when personal disaster strikes and with no where to go, she finds herself at 11 Hope Street, being welcomed in by Peggy, the mistress of the house.  As Peggy and the house welcome her, she's told she can stay for 99 nights, no strings attached, so that she might find her way again.  Also staying in the house are Greer, an actress looking at the end of her career, and Carmen, directionless, broken and needing to hide from the world.


I think I liked this book better than The Dress Shop of Dreams by just a smidgen; the characters felt more tightly tied to the plot and their stories felt stronger.  Alba is a bit too preciously fragile at the beginning but the author does such a good job of weaving her storyline that I bought it; I never wanted to smack her or shake her.  Van Praag managed to get me with a twist in Alba's story, but that's probably got as much to do with my own special brand of obliviousness as it does with her writing talent (all due respect).


If magical realism appeals, I'd definitely recommend giving this book a go; it's not perfect, but it's really good.

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text 2016-02-26 01:38
Book Haul for week of Feb. 26th
Death of a Harlequin - Mary-Jane Deeb
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag
Up in Seth's Room - Norma Fox Mazer

Only 3 this week, and they are all MT's fault because he asked me to order him a stack of new books to read.  How can I possibly go onto a book site and not buy myself a few books?  Especially since BetterWorldBooks was doing it's clearance sale thing where all books are $7 after you buy 5 of them.


So I got the last book in a series I read and loved years and years ago (Death of a Harlequin) and since I liked the Dress Shop of Dreams, but ObsidianBlue did not like her latest one, I decided to try The House at the End of Hope Street instead.


Then I bought Up in Seth's Room in a fit of pre-teenage nostalgia. This was the book we secretly passed between ourselves (one of them anyway... Forever by Judy Blume anyone?) and didn't want our parents to catch us with.


Total books bought:  3

Total books read: 3 

Total physical books TBR: 208

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review 2015-01-25 00:00
The House at the End of Hope Street
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag Though the synopsis only mentions Alba and Peggy there are actually two other women in this book as well. We also have Carmen, who is hiding something dark in the garden of the house. And we have Greer, who is fresh off dumping her fiancee after finding him with someone else.

The house itself is an entirely other character. Seriously I wish this house existed and I could visit it.

When Alba wakes all she can see are books. Thousands line every inch of every wall and the ceiling, some drift through the air like birds, lifting off from one shelf and settling on another; precarious stacks are spread across the room like skyscrapers. For a moment, Alba thinks she is dreaming.
The house does mysterious things and we also have former residents who in Alba's case she can see and talk to via the portraits on the wall.

So here's the thing. I really did like this book a lot. I really love the magical realism genre and wish that there were more books out there in this genre. However, looking back at it a day later I realized there were a lot of execution problems with this book that made it veer all over the place. I think if we had just had Alba as the main character with Peggy it would have made the book flow better. However, including Carmen and Greer's stories just made the book feel like three books in one. I was not wholly invested in anyone's story's at all throughout the entire book. And in Greer's case I was tired of her storyline by the end.

That said, the epilogue also just kind of happens and everything was wrapped up way too neatly.

I wish we had seen some of the things happen that get mention in the epilogue occur naturally in the book.

I do have to give Ms. Praag kudos for totally fooling me on a plot concerning the next house caretaker though. Other than that, this was a quirky book that I liked. I still love Ms. Praag's The Dress Shop of Dreams much better though.
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text 2014-03-30 04:51
New Book Releases To Check Out
The House at the End of Hope Street - Menna van Praag
The Cruelty - S. Bergstrom
Stay Where You Are And Then Leave - John Boyne,Oliver Jeffers
Byrd - Kim Church
Every Day Is for the Thief: Fiction - Teju Cole
Riding a Crocodile - Paul A Komesaroff
  • The House at the End of Hope Street: A Novel by Menna van Praag (March 25, 2014 by Penguin Books [Goodreads]
  • The Cruelty by S. Bergstrom (March 15, 2014 by JKSCommunications) [Goodreads]
  • Stay Where You Are And Then Leave by John Boyne (March 25, 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)) [Goodreads]
  • Byrd by Kim Church (March 18, 2014 by Dzanc Books) [Goodreads]
  • Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole (March 25, 2014 by Random House) [Goodreads]
  • Riding a Crocodile by Paul A Komesaroff (March 11, 2014 by River Grove Books) [Goodreads]
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