Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

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*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Author: Katarina Bivald

Publisher: Bond Street Books

Publication Date: August 2015 (paperback)

ISBN: 9780385683593

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Synopsis from Goodreads:
It all began with a correspondence between two quite different women: 28-year-old Sara from Haninge, Sweden, and 65-year-old Amy from the small town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. After years of exchanging books, letters and thoughts on the meaning of literature and life, Sara, mousy, disheveled, who has never been anywhere in her life–has really lived only for her work in a beloved bookshop, which has just closed its doors for the last time–bravely decides to accept her unknown friend’s invitation to visit. But when she arrives, she finds her house empty, the funeral guests just heading home. . .

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Looking for something light-hearted and quick to read as we transition into fall? Bivald’s The Readers of Broken Wheel will bring a smile to your face with it’s sweet and quirky story about a town unlike any other. Broken Wheel, Iowa isn’t much to look at, and there’s nothing there worth doing. Most of the citizens have packed up and left, but a ragtag group still remains. Their lives are brightened by the arrival of the strange, book loving tourist, Sara. She’s determined to help out in the community and she’s even more determined to get these folks to read.

While this story isn’t exactly a masterpiece of literary genius, it certainly is extremely entertaining and humorous. It quite comfortably fits into the genre of chick lit. I read the entire book in a single evening, but it wasn’t a life changing story. Bivald’s characters will put you in a  great mood with their over the top determination and their outrageous mastermind plans. Although many of them struggle with their own demons, these characters are open to change and simply light up with positivity that Sara brings to town.

I’m always up for a story about books and book lovers, so I thoroughly enjoyed Bivald’s novel. It’s most definitely a book that I’d read again as a pick-me-up or to brighten a dreary day. It’s fun, cute, and simple. It’s great light reading.

Review: I Crawl Through It by A. S. King

23203744*I received this book from Hachette Book Group Canada in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: I Crawl Through It

Author: A. S. King

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Publication Date: September 2015

ISBN: 9780316334099

I Crawl Through It

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Four teenagers are on the verge of exploding. The anxieties they face at every turn have nearly pushed them to the point of surrender: senseless high-stakes testing, the lingering damage of past trauma, the buried grief and guilt of tragic loss. They are desperate to cope, but no one is listening. So they will lie. They will split in two. They will turn inside out. They will even build an invisible helicopter to fly themselves far away…but nothing releases the pressure. Because, as they discover, the only way to truly escape their world is to fly right into it. The genius of acclaimed author A.S. King reaches new heights in this groundbreaking work of surrealist fiction; it will mesmerize readers with its deeply affecting exploration of how we crawl through traumatic experience-and find the way out.

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I wasn’t sure what to expect when I agreed to read and review A. S. King’s latest novel, but I’d loved Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future so much that I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. Yet again, King has blown me away with her skills as a story teller. I Crawl Through It is a surreal story with a purposefully disjointed narrative that expresses the anxiety of a group of misfits just trying to make survive those tumultuous teen years. Each copes in a different way, struggling and often failing to maintain a grasp on reality.

King has a voice that is uniquely and utterly her own. Although her story is strange, each character and each elements weaves together to create an ingenious tale. Characters thoughts flow freely, sharing their inner most fears and desires, their struggles and regrets. Their anxieties are so truthful that although you, dear reader, may not understand completely what is occurring, you understand the emotions and drives that each character discloses. It’s not important what exactly is happening, but the importance lies in listening to the experiences and in believing that someday things might be okay. The plots are captivating and teasing. It’s a wonderful first experience for anyone who has not yet encountered a work of surrealist fiction, and for anyone who loves this delightful genre.

This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite books of this year. It’s a surprise and a delight. Set your rational mind aside and just allow yourself to experience. King’s words will take you on an incredible journey in this latest book, I Crawl Through It. Five stars.

Review: Grand Menteur

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*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*

Title: Grand Menteur

Author: Jean Mare Ah-Sen

Publisher: BookThug

Publication Date: October 2015

ISBN: 9781771661300

Synopsis:
The secret world of Mauritian street gangs is not for the faint of heart. Fraught with peril and mischief, its inner workings are a mystery to the daughter of one of its most valued members: Serge, the Grand Menteur. A liar of exceptional caliber whose sole responsibility is to purposefully confuse police with alibis, the Menteur fears for the criminal future he has unwittingly introduced into his daughter’s life, when her clear knack for violence attracts the notice of senior gang members. Mauritian Kreol, English, and French blend together into a heady brew of language in Grand Menteur. Written in a nuanced style reflecting the island-nation’s convoluted history of colonialism, this debut novel by Jean Marc Ah-Sen sheds an unflinching light on the poverty and down-and-out hardship of a shadow class of immigrants from the 1940s to the ’80s.

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Ah-Sen’s short novel tells the story of Serge, the Grand Menteur, from the point of view of his daughter. While we know Serge is involved with a Mauritian street gang known as the Sous, it is never quite clear what the gang’s objective is. We see into their group through the daughter from the perspective of a young girl to a woman. She is not privy to the gang’s activities and so we come to know the men that make up this strange group, rather than the crimes they commit. The daughter is given a codex to detail the group’s activities and to help her know her secretive father better, however she never really deciphers it for us, if she is even able to understand it herself. There’s a sense that she is never fully able to understand her father or the group when, in the novel’s final pages, her lifelong companion Cherelle, makes reference to her own codex in full understanding. The daughter is isolated from the group, and so are we the reader. Perhaps she is never meant to fully know the inner workings of the Sous

Ah-Sen’s writing is a bit of a struggle to adapt to. I found myself pulling out my dictionary to define a few words throughout, an experience that doesn’t happen often for me. Ah-Sen does not assume that his reader is unintelligent. He expects you to keep up and to follow along. He certainly has a masterful grasp of diction and many of his sentences are delightful and fascinating. It’s a story that demands your full attention. I found it a bit of a struggle to retain the story  because of the complexity of the sentences and the infrequency of large blocks of time to sit down and read. This is a book meant to be read in one sitting. The longer period of time I had to read, the more captivated I was by the story. I hope you all enjoy checking this debut novel out.