Posted in Book Review

Book Review: News Of The World by Paulette Jiles

“This is writing.  This is printing.  This tells us of all the things we ought to know in the world.  And also that we ought to want to know.” ~Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (in Paulette Jiles’ novel News of the World)

Hi Ho, Dear Bloggites.  This book review is on January’s Books & Broads Book Club choice.  In January, the book club read News of the World by Paulette Jiles.  The setting and premise of the book was interesting.  The book was set in 1870 North Texas.  Of course, I was immediately intrigued because that is the part of Texas where I live.

News of the World by Paulette JilesThe book was about Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly man who travels through Northern Texas and stops in towns reading the latest news from papers he picks up along the way.  In Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd is approached to take a young orphan, Johanna, who had been kidnapped four years earlier by Kiowa raiders after killing her parents, back to her relatives in San Antonio.  The journey was a 400-mile trek through rough terrain, but Captain Kidd agreed to return Johanna to her family.

Pretty good premise, yes?  Sadly, I did not like this book.  Many, many times I found myself wondering what the purpose was of the author, Paulette Jiles, when she decided to write this story.  Not only was it boring, but there seemed to be no core purpose in the storyline aside from traveling 400-miles.  I know fiction does not have to have a purpose, but it does have to make sense and this book did not make sense to me with how it was formatted.

When it seemed like some action was going to happen, I was disappointed to see nothing happen, and the minimal moments when there was action it was underwhelming.  The characters were not as developed as I like and there were moments of humor and moments of emotion, but not enough to keep me engaged as much as I could have been.

There was great imagery and some clever sentences in the book, but it did not help this book capture my attention like so many other books have.  Throughout the book you followed Captain Kidd and Johanna as they travel on the road and he tries to reteach her the English language while learning what certain Kiowa words meant.  I know the author really tried to engage the audience, it was almost palpable during many scenes, but she just could not take it the rest of the way through.  Kudos to the author for writing a passion project, because that is the only thing that makes sense to me after reading this book.

I give News Of The World by Paulette Jiles 2 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders

living-in-italy-the-real-deal-by-stef-smuldersIf you have not figured it out yet, I love ALL things Italian and it is not just because I am Italian…LOL  I was once again honored by an author, Stef Smulders, asking me if I would mind reading his book Living In Italy: The Real Deal and providing a review for it.  After I stopped jumping up and down, I emailed him back and said I would love to read and review his book.  The author sent me a free copy of the book, so here is my review, Dear Bloggites.

This book is about the author and his husband Nico’s exploits when they transplant their Dutch selves to Italy in order to open a bed & breakfast called Villa “I Due Padroni” and as soon as I opened this book and began reading, I could not put it down!  Oh, my goodness, Stef Smulders is a very talented and snarky author that I felt was a kindred spirit to me and my snarky self!

The challenges faced by Stef and Nico and all the Italians they came into contact with in order to see their dream become a reality made my heart go out to them, but not in a “ooh, I feel so sorry for them” kind of way, but more of a “I love how they handled their challenges and still found humor in it” kind of way.  The book gives a wonderful background on what brought the duo to Italy and how that temporary stay became a full on dream of living there permanently.

The author, Stef Smulders, gave me a copy of the English version of the book.  He has already released it in his home language and (I believe) in Italian and now they are sharing it as an English version for all to enjoy.  One of my bucket list items is to go visit my ancestral homeland of Italy in 2020 and I now have a definite stop and stay on my list, Stef and Nico’s Bed & Breakfast!

The book was written in a very conversational tone and throughout the book, the author added in different Italian phases or words with the description of what it meant without breaking the conversational flow of the book.  One of the greatest things I was pleasantly surprised about was that at the back of the book there was an entire glossary of all the Italian words used in the book and what they meant in English.  It gave me such a new drive to start learning Italian for my future trip.

The only fault I would find in the book was some of the translation aspects added an ‘s’ on the end of some words that were not needed and it ended too soon for my liking. 🙂  I was so invested in this book that I feel I know Stef and Nico and their wonderful dog, Saar.  I hope when I make my trip to Italy, I will enter my ancestral homeland with two friends ready to greet me.

I give Living In Italy: The Real Deal by Stef Smulders 5 out of 5 Bookmarks!  Thank You, Stef and Nico, for entrusting me with the honor of reading and review your book.  I hope I did it justice.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

“People were strange like that.  They could be completely uninterested in you, but the moment you picked up a book, you were the one being rude.” ~Sara (in Katarina Bivald’s book The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend)

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Long time since I wrote a book review and how I The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivaldhave missed it!  Life seems to thrive on getting in my way when it comes to my reading and blogging…LOL

The Books & Broads Book Club voted on reading a book I recommended (my first).  The March book club book was The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  This is a debut novel written by a Swedish author, so it was interesting to read a book that was translated into English.

The storyline in The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend is about a shy, book nerd from Sweden named Sara, who decides to go visit her American pen pal, Amy, in Broken Wheel, Iowa.

When Sara arrives in town she finds that her long time pen pal has died and the day of her arrival was the day of Amy’s funeral.  This is the beginning of a fun, entertaining story about a person trying to find their way in a new country and a town full of quirky residents at best.

I loved this book, Dear Bloggites!  From the very first line in chapter one (“The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous”) to the very last line written, I found interesting tidbit phrases that the author, Katarina Bivald, used to describe the people or places and characters that I can see myself in throughout the storyline.

Throughout the story you watch Sara grow from a timid, unsure girl into a confident, outspoken woman.  Sara’s evolution in the book is due to the different people she interacts with in the town and her strong bond she built with Amy over the years as a pen pal.

Katarina Bivald did a wonderful job making Amy known even though she was dead from the different letters written by Amy to Sara that were placed before each new chapter.  A rather ingenious idea, if you ask me.  I cannot remember a time when I was able to truly get to know a character in a story so well when they are dead.  Most of the books I have read usually only share different aspects of a character through flashbacks of a living character in the book.  The way Amy was written in this storyline, you would believe her alive and well and not dead and buried.

Even though the characters were colorful, they were rather predictable as most small town characters go.  You have your rebel, single-parent struggler, moody bachelor, town drunk now sober, judgmental spinster, and so on.  However, even though the character types were typical, the author did a good job adding a slight twist to each of them.

One of the things the book club ladies felt about the book was that the author seemed to throw in every type of controversial personality in the story.  Some of the topics seemed forced on the characters by the author instead of letting the characters flow naturally.

The ending was also predictable as you are reading the book, but it was a fun predictable instead of a typical predictable.  The story overall was fun and light-hearted and was centered on books (which I love) and a foreigner finding her way in small town U.S.A.

I give The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 5 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Go find a copy and enjoy a fun, light-hearted read.

~4-Ever, P


Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Kindness Of Strangers (Penniless Across America) by Mike McIntyre

“I’ve never understood what people mean when they say they have to find themselves.  We know who we are.  The hard part is being that person.  It’s always so much easier to be someone else.” ~Mike McIntyre, The Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers by Mike McIntyreToday was our Broads & Books Book Club Meeting.  The book we discussed  is The Kindness of Strangers by Mike McIntyre.  The theme of the book captured me right away.  I always try to see the kindness in others and I believe people are inherently good.  This book is a non-fiction work about the author, Mike McIntyre, who decides to face his fear of life in general by quitting his job and traveling across the United States with no money and being wholeheartedly dependent upon the kindness of strangers on his journey.

I believe the biggest factor with fear is a lack of knowledge and understanding on the subject that causes the fear in you.  Mike McIntyre decided to conquer his fear that has ruled his life by becoming completely dependent upon strangers.  The author leaves his job, girlfriend, and the city he lives in for the unknown world of America.  The leap of faith Mike McIntyre took in trusting that he would find kindness from strangers along his journey is a big leap.  He is dependent upon unknown people who are willing to show kindness to make this journey a success.  Great concept, right?  Sounds amazing, yes?  Well it is not, at least not in the way the author has written this book.

The book, The Kindness of Strangers (penniless across America), left me feeling disappointed.  Throughout the book, I just felt like I was reading the notes from the author that he took because the stories he told in the book were written with a detachment by the author.  He seemed to have no connection with the stories that he told aside from witnessing them.  I felt the author exuded a bit of an ego and kept with his stereo-typical assumptions of people that he has formed throughout his life.

There were only a few moments of epiphany that the reader felt in the book, but those moments were few and far between.  There were moments of brilliant writing and statements in the book, however, I think the author damaged his story by looking through his journalistic lens instead of actually living in the moment of the experiences he came across.

This story does help open the reader’s eyes to a different world that they may not be familiar with and does help give a little hope for the people in this world.  A hope that not all we see and hear is evil and crap in the world.  There are truly kind people who would not think twice about assisting a stranger that is in need.  I like this fact because all too often people have a jaded view of the world we live in and it saddens my heart.  I love the world I live in and appreciate the people I have the pleasure of coming across along my own personal journey in life.

I give The Kindness of Strangers by Mike McIntyre 1 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  I do not recommend this book for you to read.  Hopefully his other written works are better than this one.

~4-Ever, P