Book Review : The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

Some times the names of books call out to you. This was one such book. Until I read the description, I absolutely had to read it.

So I requested it on Netgalley. Got rejected. I planned to buy it but I had so many books to read already that I decided to wait (and also because I’m a cheapskate, I could buy it during a sale).

Normally on netgalley, once you’ve been rejected you can’t request for it again. This book, when I checked on an off chance, came up with the request button. I wasn’t going to let it go, and requested it again and forgot all about it. I hadn’t been in the frame of mind to request books during Sept/Oct/Nov time frame.

In December, I got this lovely surprise when I got an email from the publishers that they approved me for this book! Talk of Christmas presents!

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Amy Harris and Sara Lindqvist are pen pals. They’ve been exchanging letters for two years, and Amy has invited Sara who lives in Sweden to visit her in Broken Wheel in small town America. Sara, a girl who prefers books to people, who has never stepped outside of her country, lands in Broken Wheel only to find out that Amy has just died and Broken Wheel isn’t the most exciting of places. Sara doesn’t know what to make of things but when the rest of the town assure her that Amy would have wanted her to stay the duration of her vacation, she stays.

Broken Wheel is a town which has given up hope, almost. Most young people have moved away as soon as they possibly could. Most businesses have shut shop. She gets acquainted with the very interesting characters that remain. Living in Amy’s house rent free and unable to pay for anything at all because of the generous and warm folk of Broken Wheel, Sara decides to do the only thing she knows enough about – she sets up a book store with Amy’s books. In a town where nobody seems to read, this is not quite welcome, however it changes things up.

A delightful book, full of literary references, a book about books and a story that is partly narrated through letters, it is a charming book to read. A book that could easily be cheesy but just about manages to steer away from. Full of vibrant and distinct characters, the book was a pleasure to read. I’ve highlighted so many portions of the book, in many ways I could identify with Sara, although I wouldn’t call myself as oblivious to the real world as her or as dismissive of the real world as she is.

A lovely book. If there is something to detract from the book, it would be the ending. It became a bit melodramatic for my taste, but all in all, a delightful book.

My rating : 4/5

Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
tarina Bivald grew up working part-time in a bookshop. Today she lives outside of Stockholm, Sweden, with her sister and as many bookshelves she can get by her. She’scurrently trying to persuade her sister that having a shelf for winter jackets and shoes is completely unneccessary. There should be enough space for a book shelf or two instead. Limited success so far. Apparantly, her sister is also stubbornly refusing to even discuss using the bath room to store books. 

Katarina Bivald sometimes claims that she still hasn’t decided whether she prefer books or people but, as we all know, people are a non-starter. Even if you do like them, they’re better in books. Only possible problem: reading a great book and having noone to recommend it to.

Book Review: The Secret Daughter by Kelly Rimmer

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I think I picked up this book first by the cover. It just called out to me, and when I read the blurb, I knew I had to read it.

38 year old Sabina is all excited. She has just found out that she is going to become a mother. And she can’t wait to tell her parents, she is sure that they would be just as excited as her. Her parent’s reaction to her pregnancy was one that she had never expected. Shocked at her mother’s reaction, she prodded, until told that she is adopted. It had taken them 38 years to admit this truth. Shocked and blindsided by the revelations, Sabina is completely confused. The only thing she knows is that she want to know more of her birth mother. What made her give her baby up? And why was her parents(adoptive) being so cagey. What were they hiding?

Sabina goes on a journey, finding out more about herself and her parents than she had ever imagined. A beautifully handled story, it had me in tears, had me hoping, had me crying, and had me desolate when I read about Sabina’s birth mother, Lilly’s story. Lilly’s and Sabina’s story progress in parallel, with us the readers gaining an insight into what actually happened all those years ago which resulted in Sabina getting adopted. The mystery of why Sabina’s parents never divulged the fact that she had been adopted bubbles along until close to the end.

The book touched upon the horrors that young unmarried pregnant girls went through in those days where it was all frowned upon. The treatment meted out to them, by the society, and even worse, by their own parents, was heart-breaking to read, to say the least. To think that while this was a fictional account, this could well have been a true account for so many helpless young girls. I can’t even begin to imagine..

The narrative had me from the start. I loved the way it started, had me hooked from the start and as the story progresses, it just got better. The characters felt real, and identifiable. Sabina’s reaction to the bombshell(s) dropped on her feel real. I could feel her pain, her utter confusion at the revelation that changed everything that she knew about herself. To be honest, I can’t even imagine how it must feel, to find out, out of the blue, that the two people you have known as parents, the people with whom you share that unbreakable bond, are actually not your birth parents. In Sabina’s situation, it is even more tough, given that she is pregnant herself, and so far, had been extremely close to her parents. The author has done a brilliant job in bringing out all the emotions that Sabina, Lily and her mum go through. It’s heart-breaking and heartening at the same time. A book I would definitely recommend.

A 4/5 read. A book that I thoroughly enjoyed, and one that I’m sure a lot of my friends would enjoy reading. This was my first Kelly Rimmer read, but having read this one, I’m sure she goes on to my ‘favourites’ list.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers, Bookouture for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
Kelly Rimmer is an Australian Fiction writer. She lives in rural Australia.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

  

Adrian lived a perfect life. Two ex-wives, one wife and a five children. All living in perfect harmony. Everybody loves each other. Maya’s Adrian’s wife babysits for Adrian’s ex-wife Caroline. They even go on holiday together. Life is as perfect as could be.

Perfect until Adrian’s wife died. She stumbles onto the path of a bus, drunk. Was it suicide or was it an accident. Either way, it changed Adrian’s life in a way he had never imagined possible. Forced to confront the reality that he had hid himself from, Adrian now needs to introspect and think.

We come across Adrian’s ‘The Third Wife’, only after her death. As the story unfolds, we get to hear Maya’s story as well as Adrian, his ex-wives and children. An interesting take of a blended family. A family that looks perfect on the surface but digging a little reveals secrets of all sorts. The book does a great job analysing the impacts of a broken family on all the members involved. Even the seemingly fine ones, may have deep secrets hidden. I particularly liked the characters. Each of the characters were vividly portrayed. One may or may not like them, but they felt real, like people around us. I couldn’t stand Adrian, but could understand him and his motivations. The story could be happening around us, may be there are families just like these. I really enjoy books like these where characters have shades of grey, who may not be likable and yet you want to know what happened to them and why.

I haven’t enjoyed all of Lisa Jewell’s books, but this one worked for me. It was an interesting read. I’m not entirely sure of the ending. I’m not sure if I completely bought it, however, it was as good as an ending as any. A 3.5/5 read for me. One that I would still recommend, for the story and the treatment of the story.

Have you read this book? If so, how did you find it?

Thank you, Netgalley and the publishers for the review copy of this book.

About the Author
Lisa Jewell (born 19th July 1968, Middlesex, London) is a popular British author of chick lit fiction. Her books include Ralph’s Party, Thirtynothing and most recently 31 Dream Street. She lives in Swiss Cottage, London with her husband Jascha and daughters Amelie Mae (born 2003) and Evie Scarlett (born 2007).

Book Review: Reflection by Diane Chamberlain

If you browse through my reviews, you’ll find a lot of Diane Chamberlain books on there. Just goes to show how much I like her style of writing, doesn’t it?

I chanced upon this at my now-very-irregular lunchtime library run. I’ve started reading on the Kindle far more, and work has been really busy, plus I’m late most days in the mornings, so I make up for it by minimising my lunch time. It’s been fine apart from the fact that I don’t seem to reach the library these days. So, where was I? Oh yes, I found this book on one of my lunchtime library run. And having enjoyed Chamberlain before, picked it up without checking reviews on Goodreads.

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Rachel Huber has not been to Reflection, a small town in Pennsylvania Dutch country, for twenty years, when a terrible incident forced her to leave the place she grew up in. Now, twenty years later she comes back to nurse her ill grandmother, Helen, who was struck by lightening. Rachel, a teacher by profession, comes back to a town still stuck in the tragedy that happened then, and realises that most people still held a grudge and held her responsible for what happened then. While she had expected some amount of it, the scale of the hatred that she faced left her shaken. The town hadn’t moved on at all, but then how easy it, to move on? When families have been destroyed, lives uprooted…

Thankfully for Rachel, she’s not completely alone in an antagonistic town, she has support in her old childhood friend Michael and unexpectedly, her grandmother Helen, with whom she realises, she shares a lot more than she had realised. Her time in Reflection, for Helen, becomes a time for coming to terms with her past, to stop running away from the ghosts of her past and facing up to the demons that haunt her. A beautiful story of love, loss and forgiveness.

A beautiful book, full of sub plots, and intricate relationships. It had so many elements to it, so many layers and yet, everything beautifully balanced, an absolute page turner, keeping the suspense going until the very end. Characters you empathise with, characters you understand, even when they have completely divergent stands or points of view. The title especially, I felt was very apt. This will be one of my favourite Diane Chamberlains so far. I’ve found that her books are advertised as ‘Jodi Picoult type’ books, but I do think that she has a flavour of her own, a style that I quite enjoy.

A 4/5 for me.

Book Review: About Last Night by Adele Parks

A book that I picked up on a whim. I clearly go through phases with books. Some times I meticulously check out books on Goodreads before picking them up, or the spate of ordering from Amazon kindle books, or when I just go and pick up a book from the library, just because. This was one of those books, picked up on the lunch time run to the library.

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‘I need you to say that I was with you last night’

This was the last thing Pip expected to hear from Stephanie. Stephanie needed Pip to lie to the police about her whereabouts.

Two best friends, inseparable friends right from childhood, friends who have been around for each through the ups and downs of life. Stephanie is strong, unflappable one. Always dependable, sensible and never puts a foot wrong. Stephanie is living the life that could easily be the envy of many. Comfortable, married to the perfect man, with three wonderful children, she wants for nothing. Pip, on the other hand, is a single mother who has to try hard to work out decent life for her young daughter and herself. Stephanie is Pip’s biggest champion. She has been the rock for Pip, always there when Pip needs her. Pip, the scatty, muddle headed one is who always ends up asking for Stephanie for help, although admittedly never to lie to the police. What had Stephanie done that she needed Pip to lie for her? Why was the police after her?

How far would you go for a friend? Would you lie for your best friend? Especially one who is always there for you? A friend who has been through thick and thin with you? And if so where would you draw the line. What is that line that you cannot cross? The book is built on this premise and does a great job of building up to it. The characters are real and interesting although Stephanie’s character did run the risk, initially of being just too good to be true. Thankfully that was soon rectified.

An interesting book, starts well, and keeps the interest going till the very end. I like the author’s style and the pace of the book over all. A page turner, and a quick, interesting read. A perfect holiday read, perhaps. A 3.5/5 book for me.

About the Author
Adele Parks was born in Teesside, NE England. She studied English Language and Literature, at Leicester University. She published her first novel, Playing Away, in 2000; that year the Evening Standard identified Adele as one of London’s ‘Twenty Faces to Watch.’ Indeed Playing Away was the debut bestseller of 2000.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: The Rosie Project ( Don Tillman #1) by Graeme Simsion

I came across this book in one of the www Wednesday posts. It sounded very interesting, and stayed on my to-read list, until I chanced upon it in the library.

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Don Tillman is a genetics professor. A man who has never gone past the first date. Methodical and systematic, he has come to the conclusion that he needs a wife and has also decided the best way to go about it. Don, being Don, has obviously, selected the most scientific way possible of selecting a partner for himself. ‘The Wife Project’. He has his criteria listed, his questionnaire ready, all he now needs is for people to apply and for him to select the most appropriate candidate. Beats going on dates and making social mistakes hands down. Or so he thought.

Until he meets Rosie. She hasn’t applied to be part of the ‘The Wife Project’, is completely unsuitable and yet seems to throw Don’s ordered life into disarray. Rosie isn’t the least interested in the ‘The Wife Project’, she has a project of her own, ‘The Father Project’.

It’s a charming book. Don shows all the characteristics of Asperger’s but is blissfully unaware. He just considers himself just a super organised person with bad social skills. His matter of fact acceptance of himself is so endearing. And also an insight into how it must be for people with different social skills. It is an insight into how some of the social behaviours that we take for granted might take huge amounts of efforts for people who are a little different from us. Towards the end Don also makes the point about how all of us are rigid in ways that we don’t even realise. I absolutely loved that bit.

The book is full of interesting characters, Don himself, his friends, Rosie is, of course, another beautifully crafted character.

It’s a lovely, funny, endearing and thought-provoking(in a way,you don’t expect) book, one that I would happily recommend. A book that I found hard to put down, I only put it down because I was in the middle of a course where I had no option but to do my homework and study. I’m certainly looking forward to reading the next one from this author

About the Author

Graeme C. Simsion is a New Zealand born Australian author, screen-writer, playwright and data modeller. He recently won the 2012 Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award for his book, The Rosie Project.

Prior to writing fiction he was an information systems consultant and wrote two books and several papers about data-modelling.

This book is available from Amazon(UK).

Book Review: Capital by John Lanchester

A book I downloaded on the Kindle just like that. I don’t think I even checked the reviews. Ages ago. As usual it sat on my Kindle for months. Until I ran out of books to read.

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It is set in Pepys Road, residential street in London. A row of terraced homes with a variety of residents, ranging from high flying city professionals, pensioners to young aspiring footballers. Each of the residents and those who work in or around the street are chronicled. Their lives, loves and motivation, each as different as possible from the next.

Roger is a high flying city professional who works in a financial institution. He leads the kind of life that is the envy of others. Big houses, fancy holidays, and his wife Arabella who spends money without a thought. They live life like there’s no tomorrow. Buying stuff, renovating their house, employing nannies.. the works. Roger regularly gets a bonus that is larger than his already massive salary.

Mrs Howe lives on Pepys Road, in the house that she shared with her husband for years. The house has been in her family for years. Getting on with her years, she misses her daughter and has started feeling a little rundown.

The tale takes us through the ins and out of lives in and around Pepys Road. The au pairs who work in the luxurious houses, the builders and workers who make the houses as luxurious as they come to be, traffic wardens who are hated by everybody, the Pakistani family, which ran the corner shop… Some who have lived there all their lives, others who are immigrants, out to make a better life for themselves. Different people. Different lives, but they had one thing in common. Each of them, living on that street had a postcard popping in through their letter boxes, ‘You have what we want’.

It’s an interesting, epic of a book, sometimes a tad tedious, but yet interesting, for me. I’ve come to realise that I like epic books like these, full of vivid details, full of seemingly unconnected lives which are bound together in ways that they are completely oblivious to. Books that take you the place they describe, seemingly effortlessly. I would recommend it, only if you like books of this sort, books which don’t have a definite end, and may even seem purposeless, but give you a flavor of the life that the protagonists lead

About the Author
John Lanchester is the author four novels and three books of non-fiction. He was born in Germany and moved to Hong Kong. He studied in UK. He is a regular contributor to The New Yorker and was awarded the 2008 E.M. Forster Award. He lives in London.

This book is available on Amazon(UK).