Thursday, May 30, 2019

[Book Review] The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

The Book Charmer (Dove Pond, #1) by Karen Hawkins

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars
EPub Edition, 344 pages
Genre: Fiction, Magical Realism, Women's Fiction

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.

Monday, April 22, 2019

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

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars
EPUB Edition, 247 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction

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. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

[Book Review] The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars
EPUB Edition, 320 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction

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.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Time And Yarn Flies By So Fast

Wow! I can't believe it's the end of February already and I'm still in a reading funk. Not good at all. I've gone through my GoodReads TBR list but that didn't help and emails from Netgalley and Penguin's First To Read Program announcing new books up for requests didn't spark any interest either until one book caught my eye. The book is called The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman, a historical fiction set in 1968 rural Australia. I sent in my guaranteed request but approved readers won't get to download it until March 5th. I think I lost my reading mojo while reading the Echo Trilogy by Lindsey Fairleigh because I was reading it on my phone as it was an Amazon Kindle exclusive book and as you all know, I don't have a Kindle. I really wish Kobo will update their operating software on all Kobo devices to where you can download and install other reading apps like you can do with the Energy Sistem brand from Spain or the GoodeReader brand of eInk devices. And no, I don't like reading on an iPad or Amazon Fire HD or any other generic tablet out there. The glare and horrible lighting from the screens hurt my eyes! It's bad enough that I stare at a computer screen for 8 hours a day during the work days. But anyway, go get the Echo Trilogy by Lindsey Fairleigh especially if you love time travel and Egyptian Mythology. It's really good. 

Anyway, I am 110 rows out of 198 rows of the blanket that I'm making for someone special and it is heavy. I seriously doubt this will be used as a throw/blanket to cuddle up with. I feel like it is more suitable as an area rug and it should be fine as such since it is a blend of acrylic and nylon. Really durable fiber content on that yarn for sure.  I had to stop working on it for 2 days to avoid further risk of injury to my left wrist. It was hurting so bad I had trouble using keyboard shortcuts on The Beast during work.  

Only 1 original painting this month and a larger version of I Dream of Mermaid that is yet to be framed but that's okay because I've re-learned 2 new songs on the piano which I have yet to record. Still working on polishing the 2 pieces though so hang tight. I feel like I'm slowly getting behind here now that everything is written down and staring right back at me.

Ferrero Hazelnut Eggs

Well, I hope you all had a relaxing, safe and warm Valentine's Day if you celebrate it. My husband and I did and if you're ever in Colorado, definitely try out the Tempura Cheesecake from Sushi Ai (or Ai Sushi?). Just thinking about it already makes my mouth water. With that said, I really hope Easter comes sooner rather than later because I absolutely don't have self-control when it comes to these addicting Ferrero Hazelnut Eggs. I'm indulging way too much. My justification: because they only come out once a year around Easter! And the husband goes out and buys another tiny bag or bags for me. Sweet but so not helpful. So much for trying to eat healthier this month. 

Tropical Sunset

Currently Reading 

Currently Crocheting

Ball Blanket - yarn I'm using is Bernat Beyond, Cream colorway, 85% Acrylic, 15% Nylon, Super Bulky weight; using a Clover Amour hook US size L/8mm - I want this blanket to be a surprise for when the recipients receive it so no photo on this project until it is done and delivered


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

2019 Goals

This year's phrase is Let Go. With that said, the husband and I spent the last days of December 2018 and the first few days of January 2019 organizing and tidying up the entire house. From our closets to kitchen cupboards, the fridge and freezer, the kitchen pantry, and the basement rooms and crawl space. Kitchen goal: keep the spice cabinet organized and the freezer to only have meat items in it that are either hard to come by or one that we will be cooking up the following week. That way, we will have less food items to throw away at the end of 2019. Fingers crossed.

I've let go of stash yarn that I'll never use, of crafting tools that I don't enjoy using, of small kitchen appliances, cookware and utensils that we don't use anymore and clothing and shoes that only take up space in the closet because we haven't worn them in the past year or more. I also frogged that scrap yarn granny stitch blanket and made preemie hats out of the yarns and donated them to my church before I took any pictures. Sigh… I know!!! I also realized that the teal colored lace socks that I made back in April was not getting worn at all because I prefer solid socks (obviously not lacey socks) and all the shawls that I made are not getting worn either because my neck is way too sensitive … grrr. So those will need to be frogged and turned into hats for myself and for preemies so I can get some use out of them. Lesson learned: just make hats and socks for myself since my head and feet are not so sensitive to yarn. I'm letting go of my dream to crochet sweaters, tops and skirts because of skin sensitivity issues even if it's not wool and it's the softest acrylic or cotton yarn you could possibly get. It still doesn't work. So hats and socks it is for the time being and maybe the occasional blanket.

Another crafty goal this year is to continue with the watercolor painting and to keep my yarn stash to a minimum aka only buy yarn when using it for an active project and to finish that active project first before starting up a new project. The exception to this is for skeins of yarn bought while traveling but obviously, I will need to use it all up first before I can buy new yarns. I've always been a monogamous crocheter but the last 6 months, I'm working on 2 projects at a time. I definitely want to go back to working on 1 project at a time but with it being winter here in Colorado, I need more crochet socks and I promised someone special a blanket by the end of April. So, no yarn buying as well as no starting a new project for me starting this month. I also realized that for me, it's actually using and wearing the yarn that makes it enjoyable for me and that we die sooner or later and honestly, it will be one less thing for my husband or family member to go through and figure out to whom to give my yarn stash to. 

Continue with eating healthy and working out, do better with walking the dog daily and do better with playing the piano, practice patience and learn to let go of worries, of resentments and all the negativity that surrounds us and I hope we can all help each other reach our goals this year.

Is 40:11

Mt 7:24

Buried In Yarn

Happy Gnome, Happy Home

I Dream Of Mermaid

Books I've Read Since Last Blog Post

Currently Reading 

Finished Objects

More Plain Jane Socks - yarn used was Loops & Threads Woolike, Chocolate, 85% Acrylic, 15% Nylon, Superfine weight, total amount used was 61 grams; used a Clover Soft Touch hook US size C/2.75mm

Currently Crocheting

Ball Blanket - yarn I'm using is Bernat Beyond, Cream colorway, 85% Acrylic, 15% Nylon, Super Bulky weight; using a Clover Amour hook US size L/8mm - I want this blanket to be a surprise for when the recipients receive it so no photo on this project until it is done and delivered


Just in case, I would like to share the blogs and/or podcasts I'm really enjoying which are also listed on the side bar...and these are in the order I discovered them...hope you'll enjoy them too!