Thursday, May 30, 2019

[Book Review] The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book Charmer (Dove Pond, #1)The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

New York Times bestselling author Karen Hawkins crafts an unforgettable story about a sleepy Southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.

Sarah Dove is no ordinary bookworm. To her, books have always been more than just objects: they live, they breathe, and sometimes they even speak. When Sarah grows up to become the librarian in her quaint Southern town of Dove Pond, her gift helps place every book in the hands of the perfect reader. Recently, however, the books have been whispering about something out of the ordinary: the arrival of a displaced city girl named Grace Wheeler.

If the books are right, Grace could be the savior that Dove Pond desperately needs. The problem is, Grace wants little to do with the town or its quirky residents—Sarah chief among them. It takes a bit of urging, and the help of an especially wise book, but Grace ultimately embraces the challenge to rescue her charmed new community. In her quest, she discovers the tantalizing promise of new love, the deep strength that comes from having a true friend, and the power of finding just the right book.

“A mesmerizing fusion of the mystical and the everyday” (Susan Andersen, New York Times bestselling author), The Book Charmer is a heartwarming story about the magic of books that feels more than a little magical itself. Prepare to fall under its spell.

Part 2: Recommendation

I love books set in small towns, books about librarians and books about books. The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins has all of that. This is the second book I've read in the magical realism genre and so far, I'm liking this genre.

The plot is not complicated at all. But all the characters in it are so vibrant and realistic, you just can't help but want to hang out with them and get to know them more. The writing flows effortlessly and the magic, once it grips your attention, it never lets go until the last page. So be prepared to wield some self-control if you want to have 10 hours of sleep every night like I do. Just so you know, I lost and ended up sleeping for 6 hours every night until "the end." I tried to relish the words and read slowly but that obviously didn't work. You just want to keep reading.

Just read it especially if you enjoy reading about small towns, librarians and books. Definitely the perfect summer/vacation read.

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Monday, April 22, 2019

[Book Review] The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman

The Bookshop of the Broken HeartedThe Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of Penguin's First To Read Program, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

Tom Hope doesn’t think he’s much of a farmer, but he’s doing his best. He can’t have been much of a husband to Trudy, either, judging by her sudden departure. It’s only when she returns, pregnant to someone else, that he discovers his surprising talent as a father. So when Trudy finds Jesus and takes little Peter away with her to join the holy rollers, Tom’s heart breaks all over again.

Enter Hannah Babel, quixotic small town bookseller: the second Jew—and the most vivid person—Tom has ever met. He dares to believe they could make each other happy.

But it is 1968: twenty-four years since Hannah and her own little boy arrived at Auschwitz. Tom Hope is taking on a battle with heartbreak he can barely even begin to imagine.

Robert Hillman has written a number of books including his 2004 memoir The Boy in the Green Suit, which won the National Biography Award, and Joyful, published by Text in 2014. He lives in Melbourne.

Part 2: Recommendation

I requested this book mainly because of the word Bookshop in the title and because of the compelling description but this was not at all what I thought it would be. Yes, there is a bookshop but it was mostly mentioned in passing which was disappointing for me because I was hoping that the story would highlight the bookshop as a place where broken hearted people found healing. Such was not the case.

Instead we have all these broken, very sad people linked to each other through Tom Hope, a farmer in a small town in rural Australia. I liked Tom as he's a very reliable, hard-working man with a big heart. While other reviewers of this book look at Tom as being a weak man for having the ability to forgive and take back the women who walked out on him and for having the ability to truly love a child not his own, I find him to be full of strength and virtue. Tom’s character reminds me of how God loves us. No matter how bad we are in this earthly life, God forgives us and takes us back every time we walk away from Him and come back to Him by being repentant.

As for the other characters in this book, it was really hard for me to relate to each of them. But one thing is clear, we are all broken in one way or another and the path to healing is to be with Tom. The same in true with God. He is the only one who can heal our brokenness.

The plot of this book is a bit jarring in the sense that whenever I get settled in the present, the next chapter would be Hannah’s past and then when you get settled in that time frame, you get thrown back into the present time. It makes me wonder if the reading experience would be drastically altered if the reader reads all the Australia chapters first up to the first encounter between Tom & Hannah then read all the flashback chapters then go back to where Tom & Hannah left off. I'm not going to read it again at this point. I have other books to read. I’ll leave it up to future readers to read it in the way I suggested above and see if it makes for a better sense of continuity that way.

This is a hard book to recommend despite the beautiful, well-written words because I had such a beast of a time staying motivated to read through it. It's a very sad book. So, if you are one who enjoys reading historical fiction, maybe you’ll like this but if you're picking this up because of the bookshop factor, forget it. This is not at all about the bookshop.

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Monday, March 18, 2019

[Book Review] The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

The Stationery ShopThe Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: As a member of NetGalley, I received this galley in exchange for an honest review.

Part 1: From The Book Cover

From the award-winning author of Together Tea—a debut novel hailed as “compassionate, funny, and wise” by Jill Davis, bestselling author of Girls’ Poker Night—comes a powerful love story exploring loss, reconciliation, and the quirks of fate.

Roya is a dreamy, idealistic teenager living in 1953 Tehran who, amidst the political upheaval of the time, finds a literary oasis in kindly Mr. Fakhri’s neighborhood book and stationery shop. She always feels safe in his dusty store, overflowing with fountain pens, shiny ink bottles, and thick pads of soft writing paper.

When Mr. Fakhri, with a keen instinct for a budding romance, introduces Roya to his other favorite customer—handsome Bahman, who has a burning passion for justice and a love for Rumi’s poetry—she loses her heart at once. And, as their romance blossoms, the modest little stationery shop remains their favorite place in all of Tehran.

A few short months later, on the eve of their marriage, Roya agrees to meet Bahman at the town square, but suddenly, violence erupts—a result of the coup d’etat that forever changes their country’s future. In the chaos, Bahman never shows. For weeks, Roya tries desperately to contact him, but her efforts are fruitless. With a sorrowful heart, she resigns herself to never seeing him again.

Until, more than sixty years later, an accident of fate leads her back to Bahman and offers her a chance to ask him the questions that have haunted her for more than half a century: Why did he leave? Where did he go? How was he able to forget her?

The Stationery Shop is a beautiful and timely exploration of devastating loss, unbreakable family bonds, and the overwhelming power of love.

Part 2: Recommendation

This being the first book I've read from author Marjan Kamali, I really enjoyed how well-written this book is and how the plot just continues to build up, and the characters just comes alive at every scene. I love how this book showed how the Iranian culture is very rich in symbolism and tradition and how this book clearly portrays the patriotism that burns in every young man's heart only to grow disillusioned with age. War, of any kind, is never an easy subject. It tears apart everything in it's path and negatively affects the lives of everyone around it but despite the turmoil, grief and pain, love wins in the end. The heart of this story is about Mr. Ali Fakhri's and Mrs. Badri Aslan's past that affects Roya's & Bahman's future together. Despite how everything else turned out okay, this book has that dark cloud of sadness hovering over each page. The pain of not knowing why and yet continuing to pine for the one person, your first true love, the one who broke your heart is just heart-breaking and utterly sad.

If you are one who enjoys reading about other people's cultures, social classes, history and believe that first love never dies, then this book is for you.

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