Talking About ‘The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend’ with Bibliobeth!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

How did I get it?:
Beth bought it for me!

Synopsis:

Sara is 28 and has never been outside Sweden – except in the (many) books she reads. When her elderly penfriend Amy invites her to come and visit her in Broken Wheel, Iowa, Sara decides it’s time. But when she arrives, there’s a twist waiting for her – Amy has died. Finding herself utterly alone in a dead woman’s house in the middle of nowhere was not the holiday Sara had in mind.

But Sara discovers she is not exactly alone. For here in this town so broken it’s almost beyond repair are all the people she’s come to know through Amy’s letters: poor George, fierce Grace, buttoned-up Caroline and Amy’s guarded nephew Tom.

Sara quickly realises that Broken Wheel is in desperate need of some adventure, a dose of self-help and perhaps a little romance, too. In short, this is a town in need of a bookshop.

CHRISSI: What were your first impressions? Go on, did you judge it by its cover?

BETH: Oh man, you know me too well! Yes, I did judge it by its cover and I was praying that I was going to like it as the cover was just SO beautiful. I have a special Goldsboro books edition that has lovely blue spayed pages and the image is a girl snuggled in an armchair with a book up to her face. Of course, if you’re a loud and proud bookworm like myself, this picture is pure bliss and definitely made me want to read the story. A book about books- I mean, what could be better?

BETH: Parts of this book are told in the form of letters between Sara and Amy. Did you enjoy this and how do you think it added to the story?

CHRISSI: I did enjoy this! I really like when there are little snippets of different media in a storyline. I don’t know why, but for me as a reader, I think it gives the reader an even deeper reading experience. Especially in this story, where we don’t often read from Amy’s point of view. I think the letters made it special and enhanced the storyline. I felt like I knew Amy.

CHRISSI: What affect does Sara have on the inhabitants of Broken Wheel?

BETH: She has an effect on every singing inhabitant of Broken Wheel that she comes into contact with, either directly or indirectly or even visitors to the town from the larger neighbouring town of Hope. Sara is a quiet, quite reclusive type that loves her books so passionately that it encourages everybody to try reading for themselves, especially when she opens a bookshop of her own and manages to find a book for everyone. I totally believe that there is a perfect book for everyone, if you’re not a reader, maybe you haven’t found that perfect one yet?

BETH: How do you think Sara and Tom’s relationship developed over the course of the novel and did you buy into it?

CHRISSI: Interesting question. Initially, I wasn’t sure about Sara and Tom’s relationship. I mean, I really like them as characters, but I was worried about Tom’s reluctance. I’m not sure I completely bought into the relationship, but it was a sweet enough romance despite some bumps in the road.

CHRISSI: How does Sara change through her experience of coming to Broken Wheel?:

BETH: As I mentioned in the previous question, Sara comes to Broken Wheel as quite a quiet and shy individual who is not used to socialising with many people and doesn’t have many friends, dreams or prospects in her life or back home in her native Sweden. Her life changes for the better when she comes to Broken Wheel. Through her love of books and the letters that she shard with Amy, (former inhabitant of Broken Wheel) she discovers a whole new world. She learns the joys of friendship, socialising with other people, falling in love and realises what her dreams for the future really are.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: Hmm, that’s a tough question as there were quite a few characters that I enjoyed reading about. I did like reading Amy’s letters though. I kind of wish there was more from her as I think she was a fascinating character and I thought she was incredibly sweet. I love how Amy and Sara connected as fellow bibliophiles. If I can’t pick Amy, I’d pick Sara as I found some of what she said about books highly relatable!

CHRISSI: I found it hard to classify this book. What would YOU classify it as?

BETH: Gosh, that’s a difficult question! It’s kind of contemporary fiction, kind of romance, humour…basically it has a bit of everything. GoodReads has a special category which classifies it as Books About Books’ which I think is perfect! If you love books that mention other books, you’re sure to love this little treasure!

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?:

CHRISSI: Yes! I think she has a very charming writing style and I was very impressed that this book was her debut!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

 

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Talking About ‘The Forgetting Time’ with Bibliobeth!

The Forgetting Time

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth

Synopsis:

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for seven years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.

CHRISSI: Did you have any first impressions about this book before you started?

BETH: I don’t think so. I thought the synopsis was intriguing if not a little confusing and was eager to find out how each character was connected to each other and how the story would slot into place. I thought it might be quite an emotional read as it deals with a little boy that has multiple issues. The strangest thing about Noah however, is that he keeps telling his mother he wants to go home i.e. to his OTHER mother. What I wasn’t expecting was the reasons behind his thoughts and feelings.

BETH: Who was your favourite character in the novel and why?

CHRISSI: Argh, that’s a tough one, so I’m going to pretend that I’m allowed to pick two. I loved Noah and his mother, Janie, but for differing reasons. I just found Noah so intriguing and I wanted to know what was going on with him. I enjoyed reading about Janie because of her love for her child. She would do anything for him and that warmed my heart.

CHRISSI: Discuss how Tommy’s mother Denise reacts to Noah and how meeting him helps her come to terms with her loss.

BETH: I felt so sorry for Tommy’s mother! She lost her son Tommy when he was quite young and it has broken her family it seems for good. She blames herself for what happened and so does his older brother. When Noah comes into their lives and certain revelations occur she finds things a bit hard to accept at first (like we all would!) but also has a gentle hopefulness that now they might get some answers about where Tommy is – sadly, no trace of him has been found and he is still registered as a missing person. I thought her reaction to Noah was very believable but I especially enjoyed Noah’s interactions with Tommy’s older brother.

BETH: Noah and his mother Janie have a very close relationship but it is fraught with difficulties. How do you think their relationship develops over the course of the novel?

CHRISSI: I loved the relationship between Noah and his mother Janie. It was clear that they had a special bond and that Janie would do anything to protect her child. It really was about what lengths a mother would go to, to protect her child. Their relationship did run into difficulties, especially when Noah kept on speaking about his other mother. I can imagine that puts a strain on any relationship. However, I believe Janie would do anything for her son and that motherly love is strong throughout despite any bumps in the road.

CHRISSI: Talk about the ending of the novel – do you feel there is a resolution for all the characters?

BETH: Hmm. Unfortunately the ending of the novel was a place where I felt slightly disappointed. Certain things were wrapped up very smoothly i.e. the mystery behind Tommy’s disappearance, so I was glad to see a resolution for that family. I think the relationship between Janie and her son Noah was strengthened considerably by what they go through in the novel so that was also nice. However, I did want to see something more about Jerome Anderson and perhaps what life would be like for him now the situation was at a close. I enjoyed him as a character and felt things were left a bit up in the air with him at the end. I don’t know… something just didn’t feel right and I don’t think I got the full closure I was hoping for.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I would! I really enjoyed Sharon Guskin’s debut. I think she’s an author to watch!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3,5 stars.

Talking About ‘Missing, Presumed’ with Bibliobeth!

Missing, Presumed

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

Mid-December, and Cambridgeshire is blanketed with snow. Detective Sergeant Manon Bradshaw tries to sleep after yet another soul-destroying Internet date – the low murmuring of her police radio her only solace.

Over the airwaves come reports of a missing woman – door ajar, keys and phone left behind, a spatter of blood on the kitchen floor. Manon knows the first 72 hours are critical: you find her, or you look for a body. And as soon as she sees a picture of Edith Hind, a Cambridge post-graduate from a well-connected family, she knows this case will be big.

Is Edith alive or dead? Was her ‘complex love life’ at the heart of her disappearance, as a senior officer tells the increasingly hungry press? And when a body is found, is it the end or only the beginning?

CHRISSI: Discuss the choices that Manon makes – both professional and private.

BETH: When I first started this book I honestly wasn’t sure what to make of Manon but it wasn’t long before I was completely won over. I love how we really get to know her character through a much more thorough exploration of her private life than is usually found in crime novels. She has quite a colourful love life in her search to find “the one,” parts of which were really very funny and made me warm both to the character and the author. Later on in the novel, she also makes a hugely personal decision regarding a child to call her own and this made her much more relatable and “real” as an individual. Generally speaking, she is very professional in her workplace but there are a couple of wobbles…. which again, made her more human in my eyes.

BETH: There are strong female characters in this novel. Discuss whether crime novels feel different with female leads centre stage.

CHRISSI: I do think they feel different with female leads at the centre of the novels. Quite often, there are male leads in crime fiction and I think it feels really refreshing to have a female lead. Especially one as strong as Manon!

CHRISSI: Discuss how Susie Steiner structures the novel to create tension?

BETH: I think the author does this in a great way by using multiple narratives which I love in a novel and in this one, they are particularly effective. We get to hear from Manon, her colleague Davey and the missing girl’s mother Miriam, amongst others. At times, it almost felt like each perspective ended on a little cliffhanger before a different one started. This meant that I was always eager to read “just one more chapter,” so I could get back to the thrilling perspective that I had been reading beforehand, if that makes any sense!

BETH: Who was your favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI:  I really liked the character Manon because she’s such a strong female lead. I liked how she was so independent and headstrong but she had a vulnerability about her at the same time. I also loved reading about her dating mishaps. It made her incredibly relatable.

CHRISSI: Did you find the book predictable in any way?

BETH: Maybe at times but it didn’t affect my enjoyment on any level at all. I think I always had an idea in my head about who was responsible (either directly or indirectly) for the disappearance of Edith but the way in which everything unravelled was excellent. Also, I didn’t guess the reasons behind why Edith went missing – that was all very complicated and quite extensive.

BETH: You’re not normally a crime fiction fan – did this book change your mind in any way?

CHRISSI: If I’m totally honest, no. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. I did. I just don’t think crime fiction is my thing. It’s certainly not my go to genre.

CHRISSI: How does this book compare to other crime reads that you’ve read?

BETH: Very favourably! As I know you’re aware, I always worry that crime reads are going to be a bit “samey” for me and there was something about Missing, Presumed that made it stand out in the genre. Perhaps it was the humour running through it, which I really appreciated or perhaps it was the characters who I really enjoyed getting to know, especially Manon. Either way, it’s certainly a series that I would be interested in continuing.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: I liked Susie Steiner’s writing style so I’d certainly consider it!

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: 

CHRISSI: Yes!

Talking About ‘The Widow’ with Bibliobeth

The Widow

How did I get it?:
I borrowed it from Beth!

Synopsis:

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…

But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.

Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.

The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

CHRISSI: Discuss the interaction between Kate and Jean and the ethical limits of investigative journalism.

BETH: First of all, I loved how we got to hear the story of The Widow through a number of different viewpoints i.e. The Reporter (Kate), The Widow (Jean) but also The Detective and The Husband so there were a lot of individual voices with their own particular clues as to what was going on. The interactions between Kate and Jean were among the most interesting – Kate is not a terrible person in her own right but she is hell-bent on getting the story she feels she deserves and is very good at manipulating people, especially those who may be slightly weaker than herself so that she gets what she wants. It’s not that she doesn’t care about Jean or her feelings but she realises that she cannot get too emotionally involved as it may cost her the story and at the end of the day, she’s there to do her job. Journalists can often be thought of as vultures, especially in more emotive cases when vulnerable people are hounded and I think, in a way they have to switch off from the more “human” aspects to be able to get a story.

BETH: This is Fiona Barton’s debut novel. How do you think it compares to other debut novels you have read recently?

CHRISSI: Ooh good question. I have read some very good debuts so far this year. I do think Fiona Barton’s stands out as a decent debut. I’ve read quite a few psychological thrillers now, as you know, some of which have been debuts. I feel like it stands up well to other debuts. It’s definitely memorable. It’s made me want to read more from the author.

CHRISSI: Fiona Barton is a former journalist. Do you think that has influenced her writing style?

BETH: I hadn’t realised this previously but looking back on The Widow, I believe it can only have been an advantage for the novel. It is told in short, snappy, very readable chapters that certainly made me want to read “just one more” before closing the book for the night! The style of writing itself was thrilling and although I didn’t particularly warm to any of the characters they were all fascinating enough to keep me reading until the end.

BETH: What are your opinions on the character of Jean? Did you feel sorry for her?

CHRISSI: Another interesting question Beth, you’re rolling them out today. I was very confused with the character of Jean. At times I wondered what she had gone through with Glen. I knew there was something more to the story than first met the eye. During some points of the story, I thought Jean was quite a weak character. I felt like Glen had some sort of hold over her. Then I started to doubt her. I felt sorry for her in some ways but towards the end of the story my feelings began to change towards her. I don’t want to spoil it, so I won’t say anything else. She really was a mixed bag character for me.

CHRISSI: Did you find this book predictable in any way?
BETH: I’m not sure whether predictable would be the right word. I don’t think the author is deliberately keeping anything from us, everything seems to be somewhat out in the open and fairly easy to interpret. I guessed quite early on which character(s) had done wrong, it was just exactly what they did and to what extent that was hidden until the end.

BETH: Do you believe that Glen really loved Jean?

CHRISSI: That’s a hard question to answer because I don’t feel we really ever hear much from his perspective. I would hope he did love Jean, but there’s no real evidence to show this. He certainly doesn’t act like someone madly in love. He comes across as very controlling.

CHRISSI: We read widely in the genre, how does The Widow compare to books in the genre?

BETH: Ooh, yes we do love a good psychological thriller! For me, it holds its own against other books in the genre, I loved the plot-line, the way it was written from multiple viewpoints, the jumping back and forward in time, the characterisation and the exciting final reveal. It’s everything I look for in a thriller and I look forward to reading more from Fiona Barton.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author?

CHRISSI: Yes, I would. I loved the short and snappy chapters and the overall plot.

Would we recommend it?:

BETH: Of course!

CHRISSI: Yes! 3.5 stars