Book Review, Update

Book Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

One of my latest book club reads turned out to be really enchanting: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.

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This was just a really cute, light read. It starts out with a young Swedish woman Sara who arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa to meet her elderly pen pal only to discover that she’s just died. The people in the small town take her in and, in return, she touches and challenges each of them. There are a ton of literary references that I also enjoyed in this book – I can see a lot of myself in the bookish, reclusive Sara. This was a fast read, and I hope my book club ladies enjoy it (we won’t be discussing it until April).

There was quite a bit of romance in this novel, and it did seem incredibly contrived, but sometimes I’m in the mood for that. Still, I felt like it was worth mentioning. If you want realistic, organic character development and you want to feel like love stories are earned through genuine depictions of life and psychology, then this might not be for you. However, if you just want a happily-ever-after and aren’t terribly worried about the details getting you to that point, the romance might not bother you much.

Overall, I was really charmed by this book, and I’m glad I had occasion to read it. I’d definitely try another by this author.

 

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Big Little Lies on HBO

It’s no secret that Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty is one of my very favorite novels! I’m so excited that HBO is turning this into a mini-series. I’ve been counting down the months until it arrives, and it is finally arriving tonight!

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I hope that HBO can do this amazing book justice. It is one of the best books that balances character and plot so well. I think it’s probably the book that has impacted me most as a writer, and I would love to meet Liane Moriarty in person some day. Feel free to check out my review of the novel for more about that gem.

Book Review

Book Review: Small Great Things

Jodi is a tour de force in contemporary literature, and her latest book is no exception. Small Great Things is a book that is timely and tackles the difficult subject of racism in America.

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In this book, an African American nurse named Ruth is on trial after a baby in her care dies. This baby’s parents are white supremacists who had requested that Ruth not be allowed to touch their child. But when the baby starts having a medical emergency when Ruth is on duty, she has to make a decision whether to jump in anyway or respect the parents’ racist request.

This book is told from three different perspectives: the nurse, her public defender, and the white supremacist father. It took me quite a while to get into this book, but the ending was really great. While a lot of characters seem to rely on stereotypes, I felt like there were really good intentions by the author, and I think that a lot of people will hopefully understand the world a little better after reading this book.

I found that I identified with the public defender’s perspective more than the other two perspectives, so I enjoyed those sections more. However, the sections from Ruth the nurse’s perspective were also very enlightening. I’m sure Picoult was trying to be balanced by including the white supremacist father’s perspective as well, but I must admit that I skimmed over most of his portions and rolled my eyes a lot. I know people like him exist in the world, but it’s pretty impossible to sympathize with him in any way.

Overall, I think this is a good book with a slow beginning. However, the ending more than makes up for the beginning. I would definitely recommend this one to people looking for contemporary fiction. This doesn’t tackle racism as deeply as other books do, but it is still a good read.

Book Review

Book Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

Things have been very busy for me lately between work and school and my writing projects. Normally, when this happens, I pick fluffier things for my leisure reading to help me escape for a while each day. One book that I picked up a few years ago during a similar time of life is one that has stuck with me: Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella.

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This is a fun, feel-good romp through the world of journalism and credit card debt. Becky Bloomwood is a funny protagonist who makes lots of mistakes but feels constantly endearing. As she pursues her dreams and has to try to learn how to take care of herself, she finds happiness in unexpected places.

This book inspired a movie by the same title, but it is actually VERY different from the movie. I love them both in very different ways. The movie is actually a bit more lighthearted than the book, but I so enjoyed the tone of the book and the additional character development. Currently, there are 8 books in this series, and I really enjoyed the first 3. The later books in the series were less engaging, but I couldn’t help but continue to read them to see what would happen to Becky Bloomwood.

So, if you’re looking for a fun escape, I highly recommend giving Confessions of a Shopaholic a try.

Book Review

Book Review: The Rosie Project

As I’ve stated before, I don’t typically gravitate towards romance. However, I read The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion for one of my book clubs and it was a very fun read.

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This book centers around a professor named Don Tillman who has decided that he is ready to find a wife. He is quite awkward socially since he is on the autism spectrum, and he creates very specific criteria for his ideal mate and systematically tries to find her. However, he finds himself falling for someone whimsical who doesn’t meet his criteria, and she challenges him in ways he didn’t even know he needed to be challenged.

This was an adorable romance with other fun subplots. Don is an interesting, quirky main character (kind of like Sheldon Cooper on the TV show The Big Bang Theory). Although it was an adjustment to read in his character’s perspective, the character does come across as endearing. The character of Rosie is also a perfect foil for Don, and watching their relationship progress was a lot of fun.

I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who loves both romance and psychology or genetics (both of those topics play a large role in the plot and are detailed well). This was a strong debut novel, although I was disappointed in the sequel The Rosie Effect. To me, this was a perfect stand-alone.

Book Review

Best Books of 2016!

To be completely honest, I felt like I didn’t read as many masterpieces in 2016 as I have in previous years. I had several readings slumps where I just didn’t like anything, but some gems did still appear! Here are the top 7 books I read in 2016:

1. The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney

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This contemporary fiction novel follows the lives of four siblings who have to restructure their lives after the nest egg that they were expecting is suddenly threatened. Read my full review here!

2. Peach Pies & Alibis by Ellery Adams

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This is the second book in this cozy mystery series which centers around a witch who bakes magical goodies. It’s a fun bit of fluff that I found more engrossing than the average cozy mystery.

3. Love Your Enemies by Sharon Salzberg

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I’m sure we all have that one person in life who grates our nerves. This self-help nonfiction book helped me change my perspective and find compassion instead of irritation.

4. The White Magic Five and Dime by Steve Hockensmith

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This was a great mystery about a tarot-card reading con artist who has to solve her mother’s murder while considering whether or not she’s making the right choices in life.

5. Girl Online by Zoe Sugg

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This was such a fun bit of YA fiction. It centers around an anxiety-ridden blogger whose worst fears are realized when her online persona becomes public.

6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

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I know I’m late to the party on this one, but I love it. This one is historical fiction about a family in Afghanistan. It was heartbreaking but beautiful.

7. Murphy’s Law by Rhys Bowen

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I really enjoyed this book that launched a historical cozy mystery series about an Irish immigrant. I appreciated that, while still cozy in tone, the series has been dealing with a few darker issues. I’ve only read the first three books so far, but I’m very curious to see where everything is headed.

I’m very excited for 2017! I have a lot of reading and writing goals, and I hope I’m able to share some great content with all of you. Have a lovely rest of your 2016!