The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Katarina Bivald)

It is seriously difficult not to enjoy a book where not only does the main protagonist share your name, but also a great number of your personality traits, but I really found this one enjoyable for other reasons/

I started this book based on a recommendation from my mother. As much as it still pains me to admit it, even now that I’m in my 30s, I usually like most of the books she suggests. Nancy and Plum, Harry Potter… let’s just say this isn’t a first.

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The story picks up with Sara Lindqvist arriving from Sweden in Iowa for a visit with her pen pal, fellow book lover Amy Harris. Her timing, as it turns out, is not great: she arrives in time for the end of Amy’s funeral. The rest of the story follows Sara and the people of Broken Wheel, Iowa as they navigate this aftermath.

I don’t want to give too much away, because I think you should just read the book. It’s worth it and was a relatively quick read. The story itself reminds me a great deal of Billie Letts (Where the Heart Is, The Honk and Holler Opening Soon, Made in America), with the sort of fish out of water scenario in a small middle American town with a cast of unusual characters and the idea of friends that become a family you build for yourself. I absolutely love Billie Letts, so I couldn’t help but find this books appealing as well. Broken Wheel didn’t have quite the same drama to it, but the similarity is there.

The only place where I think she let me down a little was that there were plenty of opportunities to flesh out the characters more. There are hints to their back stories I wish could have been explored more in depth. I know, I know. We are meant to fill in some of the details in our imagination. But all the same, there were quite a few characters and there were plenty of tantalizing allusions to their pasts, particularly in the letters from Amy to Sara. I really think that the author could have explored some of those stories a little more.

I couldn’t help but like seeing so much of myself in Sara. Name aside, she is a somewhat shy woman who takes great comfort in the mere presence of books. She feels that there is a book out there for everyone, if they don’t read it’s simply because they have not yet found the right one. That is an idea I can wholeheartedly agree with. For what little good it does me, I try to encourage reading to everyone I know. My life would certainly be far poorer without it.

At any rate, this was Katarina Bivald’s first book, so I will definitely be looking forward to others as this one was very enjoyable. Although, so far her newer books appear to only be in Swedish, a language I obviously lack proficiency in, so for now, I will eagerly await.  All in all, The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was a cozy sort of book that would go excellently with a warm beverage and comfy reading nook.

Throwback Thursday: Rimwalkers (Vicki Grove)

Welcome to Throwback Thursday!  This is a new thing I’m trying out where I’ll take another quick look at books I loved as a kid.  Of course, I realize that at this point anything I do here is new.  We’ll call it a tryout.

Anyway, today I’ll be taking another look back at Rimwalkers.

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Tory and her younger sister Sara are off to their grandparents farm for the summer, along with their cousin Elijah.  Shy Tory is looking forward to a summer with her projects and time with her cousin, while outgoing Sara is distraught at a summer away from her adoring friends.  Upon arrival, they are both surprised to find their rebellious cousin Oren, also joining them for the summer.

Tory, Elijah and Oren develop a close bond, while surprisingly Sara drifts away.  For them the summer will hold adventure, a ghostly mystery and ultimately, a terrible tragedy.

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To me this book has always just felt like a drowsy, golden, childhood summer to me.  It reminds me of visits from out of town cousins at my grandparents as a kid.  We never had real ghosts, be we sure wished to see them in the old, empty mill across this street.

I absolutely love it.  For me, this book has held up surprisingly well.  I can still pick it up on a hot summer day for a quick read and enjoy it just as much as ever.  I definitely suggest this for kids looking for something to read as well as any adults looking to recapture some childhood nostalgia.

 

Modern Romance: An Investigation (Aziz Ansari, Eric Klinenberg)

Let me preface this by saying that I have some guilt about this review. Firstly, because I hate making my first review a not entirely positive one. Secondly, because I think Aziz Ansari is brilliant, and incredibly funny. But I truly struggled with this book. Give me a few days and I can finish about any book. It took me more than a month and a library renewal to force myself though Modern Romance.

And I feel unbelievably terrible about it. Particularly when everyone else I know that read it thought it was great. I normally don’t really care about going against the crowd, but sometimes when it comes to books, I have more difficult time of it. I want to like books. All of them. I really, really, really wanted to love this one. I just couldn’t do it.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this issue lately. Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America’s Gutsiest Troublemakers. Yes, Please. Bossypants. All written by comedians I typically can’t get enough of, all absolutely painful for me to get through. Nothing against Nick Offerman, Amy Poheler, and Tina Fey. They seriously rock my face off 99.9% of the time.

Modern Romance is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an in depth look at dating and love in modern society. I’ll be honest: I was in this for the comedy. I care about the dating world insofar as I have participated in it now and again. That’s where my interest ends. I’m certainly not interested in analyzing it to death.

There was plenty going on in the book that would seemingly apply to my life. I met my boyfriend online, which is a huge part of the book. I’ve had issues in the past with social media/cellphones being involved in infidelity. Despite that, I had trouble getting through more than a few pages without losing the battle with sleep. So, on the plus side, it did help somewhat with my insomnia.

I just don’t have a great deal of interest in sociology. It was boring beyond belief in college and it was boring for me now. To me, this just proves that even with the most interesting voice, I’m never going to be a fan of the topic.

I won’t say there wasn’t any humor here. There were a few chuckles. There were also a few parts that hit close to life for me. It was certainly not the worst book I’ve ever read. It just wasn’t for me. Overall, I just can’t recommend this book. But, if sociology is your thang… well you might love it.