Today we’ve got two book reviews, with a giveaway for multiple copies of one of them. So, what links them? The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald and The Promise of Home by bestselling author Darcie Chan are quite different novels; however, they are both heartwarming stories about the power of community to heal. I loved them both and, since for me November is about recognizing how much we have to be thankful for, I think it’s the perfect time to talk to you about them. And two of you are going to win copies of one of them, so be sure to enter our giveaway!
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is Katarina Bivald’s debut novel but you’d never know it from reading it. She has taken what might just be a fish out of water story and transformed it into something beautiful.
Sara Lindqvist lives in Sweden and loves books in a way that only a fellow bookaholic could begin to understand. She was overjoyed to find a fellow bookaholic pen pal in Amy Harris, a resident of Broken Wheel, Iowa, of all places. Despite their vast distance and huge cultural differences, Sara and Amy become the best of friends as they discuss favorite novels and authors along with their feelings about what they’ve read. Their relationship grows ever stronger as they recommend and send books to each other and then relish their respective insights about those works. It’s a friendship that they both cherish – two kindred spirits connecting their two worlds.
Amy has urged Sara to come visit her and, although she demurs at first, Sara finally decides to take the plunge and travel all the way to Iowa to meet the woman she’s come to think of as her very best friend in the world. She not only decides to visit but to visit for an extended stay – two months. After all, if she’s going so far, she wants to make the most of her visit. Both of them can’t wait for the day she will arrive and all the fun they will have not just meeting face-to-face but getting to talk long into the night about books.
Unfortunately when Sara arrives in this place that feels so alien to her, she finds that she waited just a bit too long to make the trip. Amy has just passed away; however, she did arrive in time for the funeral. She may have known Amy had some health issues but she had no idea Amy was that sick. Now Sara is thousands of miles away from home and finds herself in quite a fix.
The only thing she really knows about the small town of Broken Wheel is Amy and her love of books. What she soon learns is how much Amy’s love of books has affected this town and how much she gave to the town. Amy made such a difference in this small, dying town that her loss is immense – not just to Sara and those closest to Amy but to everyone in Broken Wheel.
Sara feels that she should put her time there to good use, since she’s basically stuck in Broken Wheel for two months, and how better to do that than to pay tribute to Amy by opening a bookstore. There’s no evidence that a bookstore has a hope of succeeding in this town but that doesn’t stop Sara. People in town believe this Swedish visitor is off her rocker for even thinking about doing it but that doesn’t stop Sara. After all, what does she have to lose? And what a wonderful homage to Amy if it works?
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend is a book for bookaholics everywhere. Maybe that’s why I loved it so much. Who but a bookaholic would talk about the way old books smell vs. new books or about the subliminal power of people appearing to be reading even if they aren’t? Who else would think it’s a grand idea to put old armchairs in a bookstore’s window and have them be a cozy place to read? Who else would take a seemingly death-defying leap and open a bookstore to pay tribute to another bookaholic even in the face of all logical evidence that says it will never work?
Sara is the breath of fresh Swedish air that this small town needs but didn’t know it needs. And Broken Wheel is exactly what Sara needs, which I strongly suspect Amy knew all along. The feeing I got while reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend was that Amy was looking down at everything going on and clapping her hands with glee. This novel is heartwarming and touching, yes, but it’s also filled with all the small town eccentricities and dynamics that I used to think were peculiar to Southern small towns but now know are indicative to some extent of small towns everywhere.
Katarina Bivald has to be a bookaholic to have nailed bookaholics so perfectly. I’m still finding it hard to believe this is her first novel. It grabbed me immediately and would not let go. I couldn’t put it down and I’ve been itching to share it with you for months now! I have no hesitation in recommending The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend.
Can’t wait to read it? You’ll find it available for order or pre-order at your favorite online bookseller, so just click on the link below. It is currently available in some formats because it was published in limited formats in June 2015. The paperback and e-book formats can be pre-ordered now, since they will be available in January 2016. If you pre-order the e-book, it will be automatically downloaded onto your reader the second it’s available.
I’d love to get your comments on The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, Katarina Bivald and/or this review.
Our second novel today, and our multi-book giveaway is for The Promise of Home from the Mill River series by bestselling author Darcie Chan. Click here to read my review of Mill River Redemption from that same heartwarming series. FYI: These novels also read well as stand-alone books. If you’re a fan of the types of novels Maeve Binchy, Debby Macomber, or Jan Karon write then I predict you’ll love this series about the people in the beautiful small town of Mill River, Vermont! And two of you are going to win copies of it, so be sure to enter our giveaway!
Time has moved on, as it invariably does, since we read about Emily DeSanti, her sister Rose, and her mom moving to the small New England town of Mill River. Emily’s now working to renovate the huge McAllister mansion on the hill. Its new owners want to turn it into a deluxe B&B, which will not just save it but revitalize it with new purpose. Kyle Hanson and Claudia Simon are neck deep in planning for their upcoming wedding and they’d really love to hold it at the newly restored mansion if it’s finished in time – no pressure, right?
Meanwhile Karen Cooper and her husband Nick have their own pressures. He’s shipping off to Iraq to do some on-site contract work for his company. Although he tells Karen there’s nothing to be anxious about, she can’t help it. The Middle East is so unstable that anything could happen, no matter how many safety measures the company has in place. Still she tries hard not to let him see how worried she is.
Then two things happen:
First, Emily finds a chest underneath the old floors she’s replacing in the mansion and, despite being told to leave it locked, she can’t resist opening it and reading the letters inside. Has she opened Mill River’s version of Pandora’s box? What can she do that won’t end up destroying lives in this town she’s grown to love.
Second, Karen’s fears come true when Nick disappears in an area that gives a whole new meaning to hot bed of violence. Feeling incredibly helpless and not buying the company’s reassurances, she turns to her local elderly priest, Father O’Brien for support and guidance. But what she doesn’t know is that the Church is questioning whether Father O’Brien is even still capable of performing his duties as parish priest to Mill River’s community or whether he should be forced to retire.
Small towns everywhere have their dramas, and Mill River is no exception. At the same time, small town people tend to rally around each other and hold each other up when things go wrong. Large cities also have dramas but somehow those personal OMGs tend to get subsumed in much bigger issues. The exception is when a huge tragedy befalls a city, as happens with a major earthquake or horrific storm that causes widespread destruction. Then it’s heartwarming to see people who rarely even spoke to each other reaching out to give each other a helping hand. Those humane gestures in small and large places restore my faith in human-kind’s ability to be compassionate and kind, and I’m thankful for that.
Darcie Chan’s Mill River series, including The Promise of Home, is almost like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life yet it isn’t all idyllic. She does include some of the less than ideal aspects of small-town life while giving us what we all need every once in a while, a happy ending. You know I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers throughout the year, and some of those can get very dark. This time of year, I’m drawn to novels like The Promise of Home. I need to be reminded that things do usually turn out for the best even if I’m not sure I can see how that will happen at the time. Does that make sense? I’ve really enjoyed this whole series and recommend it to anyone who loves heartwarming stories, so I’ve provided links for all three Mill River books below.
Can’t wait to read it? The Promise of Home is available in all formats from your favorite online bookseller below. Just click the link to go get it and you can have it to read immediately.
I’d love to get your comments on The Promise of Home, Darcie Chanand/or her other work, and/or this review.
Two lucky readers will win a copy of The Promise of Home by Darcie Chan! One reader will win an ARC (advance readers copy) and one reader will win a finished trade paperback copy – which will be chosen by randomizer software to make it as fair as possible.
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 11/21/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
5) If you already follow PopcornReads on Twitter or Linky, you must still complete that part of the Rafflecopter form for your follow to count as an entry.
6) If you do not provide a complete mailing address in the Rafflecopter form, your entry will not be eligible. We will use your mailing address to ship your book to you. Please allow 2-3 weeks for book delivery.
7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!
Click here to go to the home page, where you’ll find even more book giveaways you’ll want to enter!