Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sara's closest friend is one she's only met through letters. Their correspondence began due to buying, selling, and sharing books, and it grew to include stories of their lives and especially of Broken Wheel, the tiny town where Amy lived. Once the bookstore in Sweden where Sara worked went out of business, Amy persuaded her to come to America for a long visit. Unfortunately, Sara arrived in town only to discover Amy's house was full of mourners after her funeral.

The locals view Amy's bewildered guest as "their" tourist and take her under their wing. Sara becomes frustrated when they won't let her repay them in any way, so in desperation for something to do and as a way to give back to the community, Sara decides to open a bookstore in a vacant shop Amy had owned. She is convinced that getting this town of non-readers to share Amy's large collection of books is something Amy would have loved and the best thing she could do to compensate them for their many kindnesses. Her efforts are aided by a long-standing rivalry with a nearby town and eventually breathe life into the dying village.

Unfortunately, her visa is only for three months and doesn't allow her to work while she's visiting, so when she comes to the attention of the local immigration authorities, some of the townspeople hatch a plan to keep "their Sara" by marrying her off to an eligible the mortification of both.

This was a wonderful vacation read--quiet and peaceful. I enjoyed getting to know the people of Broken Wheel and watching Sara blossom as a person, groaning when she and Tom failed to recognize their mutual attraction, grinning at the shock of each townsperson when she or he actually enjoyed reading a book Sara had recommended. My sole complaint is with regard to the abruptness of the ending--I actually flipped back to see if I missed something! It seemed like the author was leading up to John having a larger role to play, and then he witnessed that kiss...and then it was the epilogue. Wait, what?! There should have been a couple more chapters to resolve Sara's situation (as well as George's). Still, a very enjoyable read.

For readers' advisors: character and setting doorways are primary. Some swearing and mentions (but not descriptions) of sexual activity. Good choice for book groups, especially thanks to the discussion questions included at the end of the book.

I received a free eGalley (ARC) copy via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

I'll Always Love You

I'll Always Love YouI'll Always Love You by Paeony Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My daughter and I LOVE this book. The story is about a little bear who accidentally breaks his mother's favorite honey bowl while trying to surprise her by fixing her breakfast. He's afraid she'll be so mad she won't love him any more, so he tests the waters before he confesses by making up various scenarios of misbehavior to see how she reacts. She always responds with "I'll always love you, but you will have to [insert appropriate consequences here]."

I love that this board book shows children they will be loved no matter what mischief they get into, and there are logical consequences for actions--if you get paint on your baby sister, you will have to give her a bath, etc. I also love that it depicts a child telling the truth even when he knows his mother will be upset and that his relief when he knows he's forgiven allows him to think of a solution for replacing the broken bowl. His "flat brain" becomes three-dimensional again (see Jim Petersen's book Why Don't We Listen Better for reference).

This is a great choice for parents and grandparents (or any other adults) to read to little ones.

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