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Objects of My Affections (2012)

Personal organiser Lucy Bloom is in a pitiful situation. She has been recently dumped, her first book on organising sold hardly any copies and she had to sell her house to pay the enormous fees at a drug rehab centre for her son. After giving up everything she owns - including her most personal belongings - Lucy finds herself sharing a bedroom with a five-year-old and hoping that she can find a job that will bring in some quick money. Luckily, she meets with a man named Will who needs someone to organise the home of his mother - a world-renowned artist and hoarder. As if it isn't hard enough to clean out the home of a hoarder, it also has to be done within a certain amount of time. While Lucy is thrilled to have the job (it comes with a very big bonus if finished on time), she's also a bit sceptical that she can finish it since Marva is so intent on holding on to everything. Literally, everything - even things that seem to be trash. But, Lucy has it in her mind that she will finish on deadline and she will get her son better and make a new home for him to return to. However, life throws her curve balls in every direction when her son leaves rehab abruptly, she stumbles upon a secret diary of Marva's that reveals some not-so-good secrets and her ex makes a return and tries to help her with her problems. Considering everything she's facing, it's safe to say that Lucy is a brave and formidable character, who gave up everything, even her own chance at happiness, for the one she loved most. Whether or not she succeeds in cleaning out Marva's home, it seems that just being around the older woman has influenced Lucy and makes her stand on her own two feet. This is a great novel that is easy to associate with - after all who doesn't have a love of "things"? Often we have too many and have trouble letting go, just like Marva. And Lucy, who is selfless and loving, even though she shouldn't be, is a great character who represents the true bond between a mother and her child. Jill Smolinski hit the nail on the head and wrote a novel that is so true to fact that it could be a real life story. Don't miss it! (AS)

The Next Thing on My List (2007)

Make this book the next one on your list - it has one of the freshest plot concepts of the year and a heroine worth rooting for. June Parker works for a LA carpooling agency. On the way home from a Weight Watchers meeting, she offers a lift to a woman who has just lost over 100 pounds, taking pity on her walking for the bus in stiletto shoes. As Marissa unbuckles her seatbelt to reach into the backseat to pull out a taco soup recipe from her bag, June swerves to avoid a dresser falling off the back of a truck. Marissa is flung through the windscreen and dies. June finds a list that Marissa has written - 20 Things to Do Before my 25th Birthday. Six months later, she runs into Marissa's brother, Troy, at the cemetery and still feeling guilt-ridden is compelled to finish off the list. The tasks range from running a 5km race, going on a blind date and changing someone's life. As she races through the list to beat the birthday deadline, it looks like it might be her own life that she's set the change.

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