Cover Image: The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes

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Member Reviews

This book was outside of my usual sphere, but an interesting, thought-provoking approach to a dark subject. Telling the tale from various points of view was an interesting approach in this fast-paced story.
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I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this book. I'm usually a reader who loves thrillers and horror...but as I have gotten older I have been broadening my reading horizons. This book is very sad at times and made me tear up a few times. Over all this was a wonderful book that I feel could resonate with many different people and I would recommend it to people who I think would enjoy something like this.
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan is about a woman who befriends a homeless woman named Sally. Sally is talkative and gives advice. 
This is a good book, but it's so sad. It's about love and tremendous loss. The loss of a child. The child was her only reason for living. It's unbelievably sad.
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes
by Ruth Hogan 
Crooked Lane Books

This book will touch you heart make you laugh cry, and ponder life and death. It will keep you turning pages as fast as you can, late into the night. You will love and bond with the will developed caracters, touching your heart on each page. A wonderfully written book that I loved till the very end. Touching on the subject of love, loss and, the road to healing starting anew.

Thank you to Netgalley and Crooked Lane Books for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
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Fantastic read from a talented author. Thank you to the author and publisher for a chance to read and review.
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I enjoyed this book. The characters and story are wonderful and entertaining. I really enjoyed how the characters met and their lives were intertwined
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The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes was a wonderful and heartbreaking story!  I enjoyed it so much!  It made me laugh and cry.  The story is told by two POV, Masha and Alice.  We learn that Masha has suffered a terrible loss and after years have passed since it happened we can still see that she is suffering.  At the same time we learn about Alice who is living a good life with her son, but as the story unfolds life begins to play a hand in changing it.  I liked that with each chapter I read I learned more about each one and how those around them played an important role in their lives.  Sally of the red shoes was a delightful character and played an important part in Masha's life.  
I highly recommend this book!! Be prepared to get emotional, but it is very well worth it.
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This was my first read by Ruth Hogan and won't be my last!  It made me laugh, made me cry and made me think.  What more could you ask for?  I enjoyed the characters and didn't want the story to end!
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This is the story of two women living difficult lives resulting from past events. Masha’s son disappeared when he was a toddler and believed to have drowned. She spends her life visiting the local Victorian cemetery, hoping for the existence of heaven for her son. She daily encounters a gruff woman who feeds the crows and dubs her “Sally Red Shoes.” Grief is Masha’s constant companion.
Alice lives to protect her teen son, to his extreme dismay and irritation. She longs to go back to the days when she was the only person in his life.
There is so much between the pages of Masha’s transformation and Alice’s search for atonement.
It’s a slow read but worthwhile and touching.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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ANOTHER GREAT BOOK! When I say that 2019 has been an amazing year for books, I am not exaggerating.  I have been able to read so many books because every one of them is so darn good and I cannot stop reading. I have never read so much or stayed up so late with a book in my hands.

You will adore The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan. And just look at the beautiful cover.

Life has a habit of throwing you a curve ball every once in a while, and there’s nothing you can do about that, but you can always choose how you deal with it. You can lie down and roll over, or you can stand up and fight. But you don’t need do it on your own: there are people who can help. All you need is the wisdom and courage to let them. 

Masha is drowning. Once a spirited, independent woman with a rebellious streak, her life has been forever changed by a tragic event twelve years ago. Unable to let go of her grief, she finds solace in the silent company of the souls of her local Victorian cemetery and at the town’s lido, where she seeks refuge underwater – safe from the noise and the pain.

But a chance encounter with two extraordinary women – the fabulous and wise Kitty Muriel, a convent girl-turned-magician’s wife-turned-seventy-something-roller-disco-fanatic, and the mysterious Sally Red Shoes, a bag lady with a prodigious voice – opens up a new world of possibilities, and the chance to start living again.

Until the fateful day when the past comes roaring back.

Though the subject matter is heavy, the writing is not. It’s beautifully written with quirky characters and a little bit of dark humor.

Due out May 3.
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I enjoyed reading this book.  It had several twists I didn't see coming and the end of the book  was a shock.  Three very different women become friends and learn more about themselves as they get closer.  Masha's life changed 12 years ago and she has been living in denial ever since.  She goes every day to the local pool and tries to drown herself.  Kitty's life changes when meets Sally red shoes.  It takes time before she learns much about Sally's life but Kitty befriends the crazy lady from the cemetery that feeds the crows.   This is a sad dark story about how some people handle grief and life.  I received a copy of this ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.
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Does a book have to have a purpose? This is contentious but no, I don't think a driven plot is required. Although, I also don't think a meandering plot is enjoyable to read. I felt lost and uninterested. Between the switching perspectives and changes in first person to third person, it doesn't have consistency. I much rather prefer a clearer juxtaposition from Marsha to Alice but it wasn't there. I could see the roots of logic, two mothers. One who lost her son, the other is starting to lose hers too. 

In the meantime, what we have is long, drawn out drivel of a woman living out her "quirky" life. I know I'm being harsh, but Marsha is not in the least bit interesting. I don't find her funny, charismatic, or anything else that makes up a personality. It also seems like a lot of the characters written make a short appearance and then disappear. When they do surface, they come across as vapid, rude, and intense. You have people like Hugo who is a caricature of misogyny. Flo is the nosy baker, store owner who makes coffee and tells Marsha she needs some dick in her life. I do like Edward and his relationship as a father figure to Gabriel. It was one of the only wholesome, nonirritating things. Alice was not any better. Maybe, this book could do well to focus on less things to emphasize the theme.

So that brings us to a couple of points I ultimately have. What does it say when the aforementioned Sally and her red shoes make an appearance one third of the way in and has no meaningful impact. We get a loose interpretation of coping with grief. Life doesn't stop after someone dies because you're still alive. As crude as that sentence is, it's basically what this book boils down to. I was hoping that there would be more nuance and to some extent there is. Marsha experiments with death in semi-suicidal tendencies of drowning to frolicking in a cemetery. She is living as if she were the one that died. So the book is more or less about her discovering reasons to continue living.

What falls flat is the pacing and writing. Really, it was the writing that got me. There were times where I think we could have edited out some internal thoughts to rephrasing to make a scene flow smoother. I just don't understand if this is supposed to be comedic or sad because it definitely isn't a dark comedy. The varying tones were jarring to switch up hence some scenes I thought were inappropriate. I would have much preferred a lighthearted take minus 50% of the characters and a central focus on Marsha, her professional practice, swimming pool adventures, nonromantic trips to the cemetery, and three friends. The hijinks her parents get up to, plays, dinner parties, potential love interest, and delinquents were not necessary. They took up more space to really flesh out the theme. I get that this is what happens after but I don't want to read about it. Stories have the luxury to skip the inane parts of life and hone in on the emotional values.

I recommend this book to people who like to literally live in someone else's shoes as if we're watching a nonstop live stream.

Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for an advance copy in exchange for a fair review!
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4.5 Stars

This story begins with an older woman in a graveyard, who “throws open her arms and exhales with a perfect top C,” a note that soars past the headstones through the graveyard, down the hill, who no one else hears except the creatures in the trees or those scampering about gathering acorns. She’s momentarily lost in memories of another day, another year, a moment when she was wearing a fine silk gown almost the same shade as the dilapidated red shoes she wears now, along with her tattered tweed coat.

Masha is a woman who has suffered a great loss, and holds onto her grief as if she feels it is a way of proving her love is still strong, that she hasn’t forgotten the tragedy of her life. She prefers the company of those who reside in the cemetery, takes solace in the preservation of the memories that abound on each headstone, the flowers which are left as a token gesture to show they have not been forgotten. The only other love she has in her life is given to Haizum (named for the heavenly horse of the archangel Gabriel in Islamic tradition), her wolfhound who has guided her through years of despair. If not in the graveyard, she can usually be found under water at the Lido, holding her breath and appreciating the silence found there. And yet, while she still has a way to go before she can allow true moments of happiness into her life, there are moments that show her belief that there may be something life still has to offer her, perhaps even love.

Through her friendships with Kitty Muriel, as well as with Sally Red Shoes, among other friends, she finds a way to begin healing, and perhaps even to give herself permission for the possibility of more.

There’s a charm to this story, despite the theme of grief and loss, Ruth Hogan has once again managed to weave enough of her charm through this story to keep it from being overly dark, while at the same time allowing us to feel the all encompassing grief that has kept Masha from moving on for so many years. As well as to share in the joy she allows herself, with the help of Kitty and Sally Red Shoes, to experience as well.

Pub Date: 11 Jun 2019

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Crooked Lane Books
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I received an ARC of this novel from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a novel about finding happiness after tragedy.  I loved the message and that fact that it allowed people to grieve without judgement.   The ending was shocking and very satisfying.
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Twelve years ago Masha lost her toddler son, Gabriel. That loss has changed her forever. She is living in a state of grief. Her friends now are the ones who lie forever in her local cemetery where she visits every day and if she isn't there, she is practicing drowning in the local pool.

Sally is the local odd ball. She dresses odd and feed crows and sings at the cemetery. She may sound daft, but she is a very wise woman who had a much different life at one time. Most of the women in this story have lived lives of joy and deep sorrow. The question is how does one live with such pain?

In the next town over a woman is dying of cancer. Her 15-year-old son Mattie is her primary concern. A long time ago Alice did something horrible and now she must make it right before she dies and leaves her son alone.

This was a real slow starter for me. Rambling and I was frustrated when I got to the end and thought, "Really?". 

NetGalley/June 11th 2019 by Crooked Lane Books
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I really enjoyed this book. It’s a haunting tale of two mothers with lots of sadness. Pulls at your heartstrings.
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Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books for allowing me to read an advance copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I loved this book! It's an inspiring story whether you have gone through a season of loss or not. The characters are vibrant and unique, adding depth and soul to the story. Thank you Ms. Hogan for writing such a beautiful story!
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Haunting tale of two mothers’ stories, filled with grief and sadness, separated by time and place, leaving the reader to wonder if or how they are connected in any way. Along the way, a cast of delightful characters lighten the narratives, bringing us to the perfect ending.
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I am in the minority I know, but I just didn’t LOVE this book. I did think the plot was well thought out and mostly well written. I also enjoyed the plot twist. Howevrr, The ending felt rushed compared to the rest of the book.
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I can’t believe I’m reading about death and cemeteries so soon after my own father’s passing. Or maybe all literature is like that, always obsessed about life and death. 

I wish I could have rated this higher, however there are too many parts that were a bit boring and long-winded in an almost confusing way. I guess the crazy writing is part of the charm, but sometimes it works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. 

There were a lot of unfavorable comments to other people’s taste in fashion (and general personality) that I know are meant to be funny, but a lot of it felt unnecessary and even insulting. There was also a lot of extra trivia that seemed all over the place so I was distracted from the plot several times. 

Masha is one of the most judgmental and cynical characters ever. I am glad to see her journey from a person drowning in grief to someone full of love and hope. I was also really hooked to the mystery of Sally and of Alice & Mattie. I was underwhelmed with the former, and satisfied that my guess turned out to be correct for the latter, but the execution was far from satisfying. I feel that I didn’t get to learn enough of the truly interesting characters, and got more of the rather minor ones. I just wish it was the other way around. 

That being said, I still loved the book for its meditation on grief and death. It is definitely one of the most honest books out there. It gave me a lot to think about in terms of moving on after the loss of a family member. ‪My favorite takeaway is this: believe that one day, the joy of being alive would be brighter than the despair of a loved one’s death. ‬

‪I promise I will believe. ‬
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