Katarina Bivald’s novel The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a delightful story about the love of books and new friendships. Sara has decided that now is the perfect time to visit her pen pal Amy in the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. While her family finds this abrupt vacation a bit odd, especially since it will be her first time visiting the United States and she is going to a tiny town of no importance, she is incredibly excited to stroll the streets of a town she has come to love through Amy’s eyes. However, things don’t go as planned and Sara arrives for Amy’s funeral. Instead of heading home, the town convinces Sara that she must stay for her vacation. Thus begins Sara’s journey from pen pal to town tourist and eventually to small business owner as she realizes how badly Broken Wheel residents need a bookstore and reading in their lives.
What an enjoyable story this is for any book enthusiast. Bivald includes wonderful books for her characters to discuss and, even better, a complete list of books at the end of the book for readers to enjoy. Her characters are charming and determined and the town, while a bit run-down, is quaint. I enjoyed how all of the characters developed and changed the longer Sara is in town. It was so refreshing to see how a few book suggestions can really open the eyes of people and get them out living their lives. If you are needing a book that will renew your faith in people and leave you with a heartwarming feeling at the end, then this is the perfect read. The book really captures one of Sara’s bookshelves, ” Happy Endings When You Need Them”.
Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies is an engrossing story about three women, an elementary school, and a murder. Jane is new to this small beach-side community, eager for a fresh new start and a fabulous first year of school for her son. Madeline has been in the community for years. Her children have all gone to the same primary school, but now her ex-husband has moved to the small suburb with his new wife and daughter. To make things worse, his daughter will be in the same class as her son-seriously? Celeste appears to have it all. The big mansion on the beach, the rich husband, and two incredibly rambunctious twin boys. However, things are not always as they appear for these women and each one is hiding something.
I really liked this book. Moriarty told the story in such a clever way with the details of the days leading up to the “night” and the interviews of parents regarding the incident being blended into each chapter. There is always the driving force of discovering who was murdered but it was also easy to get caught up in the daily drama and wonderful characters. Moriarty also captures the atmosphere of the beach community in Australia. You can really see yourself having coffee on the beach. I wouldn’t classify this as mystery or thriller novel, it is very much a contemporary fiction novel with a side of murder. This would also be a great book club read.
The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure is a fascinating historical fiction novel set in Paris during World War II. Overrun by German soldiers, the citizens of Paris are left distraught. Architect Lucien Bernard is asked to design factories for the Germans and persuaded to start building secret nooks inside the walls of houses for people to hide. To some he is a traitor and to some a hero. His new, rather lucrative albeit dangerous career is never as simple as one hopes and soon Lucien finds himself forced to make life altering decisions that will forever change the person that he is.
It was intriguing to read about Paris during WWII and how the people felt while being occupied. Most people are fighting to survive and yet there are others who are so consumed with greed that it astounded me. The Paris citizens were faced with cruelty on a daily bases from both Germans and other Frenchmen. The were forced to decide to either help others to survive or turn a blind eye. The intense look at humanity was both heartbreaking and joyful. Written by an architect this book was clearly a nod to design and building, but also a wonderful book on the human condition.
Jojo Moyes creates wonderful novels that are eloquently written and filled with amazing characters. Her latest novel is One Plus One and it is filled with funny mishaps and witty conversations. This is the tale about a mom who is trying to keep her family happy and safe, which has become a daunting task since her husband left them. To make things even more complicated, Jess is trying to find a way to stop her son from getting bullied as well as frantically trying to come up with money to send her genius daughter to an elite private academy. The only way she is going to get enough money for the school is if she can get her daughter to a math competition in Scotland. The trip doesn’t go as planned, in fact it goes worse than planned. Jess finds herself unable to get to Scotland until she runs into Ed, who has problems of his own. Now the dysfunctional family is whisked off in Ed’s car in hopes of turning their lives around.
This is a great contemporary British novel that is rich in atmosphere and character charm. It was fun getting lost in the chaos of the family and I instantly fell in love with all of the characters. The dynamic between Jess and Ed is really entertaining. They are both strong individuals who are fighting their own personal demons and are reluctant to let another person in for fear of being hurt, creating the perfect recipe for banter and drama. Overall what I enjoyed the most was the warm feeling you get when you read the novel. Even with all the mishaps you can feel the love and the joy of being a member of this non-traditional family.
I love Sophie Kinsella’s novels! Her books are always funny and filled with delightful mishaps. Her latest paperback Wedding Night is the story about a boy and a girl who decide to get married immediately instead of dealing with their dysfunctional lives . Of course their friends and family are completely against this rash decision and realize that it will never last. I mean really, the two love birds haven’t seen each other in over 15 years. Now the rush begins as Fliss attempts to prevent her sister Lottie from having her wedding night so that she can still get an annulment.
This was such a fun read. The entire time you are thinking, oh it can’t get any worse but of course it just keeps snowballing. What I really liked about this book was that it was told from both sisters perspectives so that you could really see how every action effects everyone. It was also a fun look at sisterly love and all that goes along with trying to look out for each other. As always, Kinsella created a charming and entertaining read.
JoJo Moyes The Last Letter From Your Lover was amazing! I typically don’t read books set in the 1960’s but I decided to give this one a try, and I am so happy I did. Jennifer Sterling wakes up in hospital with no memory of who she is or how she came to be injured. She is soon released to go to a home she does not remember and live with a husband she does not know. Deciding to get reacquainted with her old life, Jennifer starts to go through each room in hopes of sparking a memory. Her memories are slow to resurface, but she does discover old love letters sent to her from a man who only goes by the letter “B”. In 2003, Ellie also stumbles across mysterious love letters that she believes originated around the 1960’s. Fueled by the beautiful words and incredible emotions being portrayed, she decides to track down the owner and find out what happened between the two. Did they get their happily ever after?
Moyes wrote an incredible story. Her language is so elegant and beautiful that I found it easy to get lost in the pages. She portrayed the morals and culture of the time period perfectly. I felt instantly transported back in time to a generation that views the world quite differently; women are only beginning to enter the working world and the thought of divorce is non-existent. I really enjoyed the way Moyes told the story. She started the book in the present time for Jennifer but would go back a few months to tell the reader the events leading up to the accident. It was such a fun way to learn about this passionate love story. I thought I would be annoyed when the time suddenly changes to 2003 and involves all new characters, but I was pleasantly surprised by how clever this technique was in learning about what happened between Jennifer and Anthony. This is a great love story with fantastic characters-perfect for any historical or contemporary fiction reader.
The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton is a dynamic story about friendship and family. Frankie and her husband leave their Chicago life behind and move to California. New friendships blossom as she starts taking her children to the park, and before long the Wednesday Sisters Writing Society has formed. All of the women love literature and it just seemed natural for them to start writing. Of course, life often interrupts the Writing Society.
I really liked this book. I thought that Waite Clayton’s characters were excellent. They were easy to relate to and I was immediately drawn into their lives. Some of the women were quirky and they were all incredibly likable. I also liked that each one was very different from the others and yet they all meshed perfectly. Waite Clayton captured the sixties perfectly; it was fascinating to read about the political turmoil and how the characters responded to it. I have already started The Wednesday Daughters. I am excited to catch-up with the next generation.
Meg Waite Clayton will be joining us on Saturday July 27th for a book signing from 1:30-3:00 PM. Be sure to stop in the store to meet Meg Waite Clayton and get her latest novel autographed.