Book Review: Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend – Katarina Bivald

Author: Katarina Bivald
Publisher: Sourcebook Landmarks

Series: Stand Alone
January 19th 2016
Rating: 4.5/5

Warning: once you let books into your life, the most unexpected things can


This is a book about books. All sorts of books, from Little Women and Harry Potter to Jodi Picoult and Jane Austen, from to Stieg Larsson to Joyce Carol Oates to Proust. It’s about the joy and pleasure of books, about learning from and escaping into them, and possibly even hiding behind them. It’s about whether or not books are better than real life.

It’s also a book about a Swedish girl called Sara, her elderly American penfriend Amy and what happens when you land a very different kind of bookshop in the middle of a town so broken it’s almost beyond repair.

Or is it?

The Readers of Broken Wheel has touches of 84 Charing Cross Road, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chocolat, but adds an off-beat originality and intelligence all its own.

This book is 100% for anyone who loves book, which I presume is everyone? From the first chapter I was hooked on this book with its beautifully thought out characters who are all different in their own special way but are all equally as lovable, in addition to the lovely story-line about a quiet girl with a passion for books and a pen pal from half way across the world.

This girl is Sara – a quiet girl from Sweden who has spent her entire lift with her head in a book, engrossed in their story-lines and the feelings that fill her with joy. I’m pretty positive that any person who loves books and finds it a comfort and an escape to be buried in a book once in a while will relate to Sara in one way or another.
She gets invited to the small town of Broken Wheel by her pen pal Amy, whom Sara had grown quite fond of through their many letters discussing their favourite books. Throughout the book we get to see some of the letters that were sent by Amy describing her little home town of Broken Wheel and some of the peculiar, yet completely brilliant residents of town. Despite never actually meeting Amy in the book, we form a bond with her through her passion for books and the stories from her past which show us how much of lovely character she is.

In addition to Sara’s story, we also get taken on a journey of the other members of Broken Wheel. There is George – one of the loveliest characters you will ever meet. An ex-alcoholic who had lost almost all purpose of living after his wife left him and took with her their daughter Sophie, until Sara came and they formed such a beautiful friendship as she helped him do stuff with his day. He is also a fan of Bridget Jones’ Dairies.
Then Caroline. Although she is a very controlling, bossy and  in some aspects quite a miserable woman, she is still an excellent character who also goes through extensive character development, as Sara challenges her through defiance and she becomes involved with an unexpected lover.

A favourite character of mine has got to be Tom. He again, can be perceived as being somewhat miserable and bit of a meanie in the first instance but as the story progresses we get to know more about him and understand why he is the way he is.
Just like every good novel, this one has a romance. This romance, in addition to Caroline and her mystery man, is between Tom and Sara. They’re relationship is the loveliest thing I have ever read, its so complicated and confusing but beautiful and heart-warming at the same time. Neither of them know how they truly feel about one another and there are sparks of passion throughout that just leaves you craving for more.

The town of Broken Wheel itself is everything you can imagine from a small town. It has a hardware/grocery store, a diner, a bar and a church. Although it is very minimalist and doesn’t really have anything spectacular, you can’t help but just think of it has something extraordinary. The bond between all the town folks and the fight to make it the striving place it once was gives it that little extra something.

In addition to lovely characters, there are also physically beautiful characters also such as Andy and Carl. Despite Carl being gay everyone in the town, even the straight men believe Carl to be a beautiful specimen of a human being. He is physically beautiful with lovely dark hair and a sculptured body as well as being a lovely man who despite being a little harsh on Sara the begin with but is really a sweetheart deep down.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and filled me with joy every time I began reading it. It has such a lovely plot line with so many events that fill you with warmth and leave you praying for things to work out for certain characters. 100% recommend this to everyone, especially those in book clubs.

Book Review: Rebel of the Sands -Alwyn Hamilton

Author: Alwyn Hamilton
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Series: Rebel of the Sands #1
Published: February 4th 2016
Rating: 5/5

She’s more gunpowder than girl—and the fate of the desert lies in her hands.
Mortals rule the desert nation of Miraji, but mystical beasts still roam the wild and barren wastes, and rumor has it that somewhere, djinni still practice their magic. But there’s nothing mystical or magical about Dustwalk, the dead-end town that Amani
can’t wait to escape from.

Destined to wind up “wed or dead,” Amani’s counting on her sharpshooting skills to get her out of Dustwalk. When she meets Jin, a mysterious and devastatingly handsome foreigner, in a shooting contest, she figures he’s the perfect escape route. But in all her years spent dreaming of leaving home, she never imagined she’d gallop away on a mythical horse, fleeing the murderous Sultan’s army, with a fugitive who’s wanted for treason. And she’d never have predicted she’d fall in love with him…or that he’d help her unlock the powerful truth of who she really is.

By far my favourite book of the year currently. I haven’t read many, but this book tops all those I have read in the past 6 months. Thinking back, there is not one thing that I dislike about this book, everything is just utter perfection. The mythological creatures and fantasy of this book is what makes it so exciting, with myths and legends such as Djinni and skinwalkers, drawing you in as you learn more about them and the powers that they hold.

The protagonist Amani is absolutely lovely. She lives in the desert with her aunt, uncle and several cousins as her parents died when she was younger. To earn her stay and keep her aunt and uncle happy, who aren’t the nicest pair of relatives, she has to work in the family shop and saves every penny she gets so she can run away to Izman – the Hunger Games capital of the book – and escape her miserable life. From an early age she has learnt to shoot a gun, aiming at tin cans and become an absolute pro at it, resulting in her never missing a shot ever.
In order for her to gain more money as she becomes desperate to leave, she goes to a gun fighting center to bet her money and compete. Whilst there she comes across a lovely foreigner named Jin. Jin is one of those extremely charming and mysterious characters who you just can’t seem to get enough of. From the offset we don’t really have a lot of information on Jin apart from that he isn’t from those parts of the desert and that he has a secret agenda.
As the book progresses, we gain more insight into Jin as a person and fall in love with him even more after each page.

Throughout my time as a reader, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that has had so many shock twists and revelations where you’re left saying to yourself – ‘Oh my God, you’re kidding me, I can’t believe it’ – I was literally like that for the whole of this book as secrets where revealed and you found out new things about each character.
Like any book, there are bad guys and good guys. The bad guys in this book are the Sultan, his oldest son Naguib and leader of the royal army, and the Gallan soldiers, a group of men whom the Sultan has an alliance with and are ruthless, disgusting people who desperately need to be wiped out. With the bad guys being so horrible, you are constantly left rooting that they are defeated and that the good guys are triumphant in their mission as a rebellion. Yes, there is a rebellion, and good one at that.

As you can see, there is never a dull moment when it comes to this book and it’s full of all things exciting and interesting. Everything about it is brilliant and you will not want to put it down (no matter how cliche that saying is, it’s very true). My only problem is, is that with it only being recently released, I’m going to have to wait a while for the second book, but I’m sure it will be worth more than the wait!


Book Review: Risuko by David Kudler

Author: David Kudler
Publisher: Stillpoint Digital Press
Series: Seasons of the Sword #1Risuko: A Kunoichi Tale
Published: June 15th 2016
Rating: 4.5/5

Goodreads Overview:
My nation has been at war for a hundred years, Serenity is under attack, my family is in disgrace, but some people think that I can bring victory. That I can be a very special kind of woman.

All I want to do is climb.

My name is Kano Murasaki, but everyone calls me Squirrel.


Though Japan has been devastated by a century of civil war, Risuko just wants to climb trees. Growing up far from the battlefields and court intrigues, the fatherless girl finds herself pulled into a plot that may reunite Japan — or may destroy it. She is torn from her home and what is left of her family, but finds new friends at a school that may not be what it seems.

Magical but historical, Risuko follows her along the first dangerous steps to discovering who she truly is.

Kano Murasaki, called Risuko (Squirrel) is a young, fatherless girl, more comfortable climbing trees than down on the ground. Yet she finds herself enmeshed in a game where the board is the whole nation of Japan, where the pieces are armies, moved by scheming lords, and a single girl couldn’t possibly have the power to change the outcome. Or could she?

Historical adventure fiction appropriate for young adult and middle-grade readers.

First thing first, I really enjoyed reading this book and am still suffering from a book hangover several days after reading it. I was a bit apprehensive when reading this book as I believed it started off a little slow and found it somewhat difficult to be fully immersed by it, but eventually I got to the point where I just couldn’t put it down. If you are a sucker for anything mythological (which I won’t say much about because of spoilers) and learning about other cultures then this is the perfect book for you. One of the most interesting things about reading this book is the amount of detail that goes into transporting you to another world and another culture, including descriptive details of beautiful and not-so-beautiful places and allowing you to gain great insight into a newly founded world and culture.

The protagonist Murasaki, aka Risuko, is such an amazing character. She is taken away from her mother and sister without any explanation or time to say goodbye, lost her father when she was a child and had to adjust to a complete new environment, doing things she has never done before, whilst trying to make friends with those who dislike her and figuring out what all this is about. To me, she is an extremely strong character and becoming one of my favourites. In addition to her brilliant attitude to life and her tragic-background, she also shows great character development as she goes from you average ‘quiet girl’ who does as she is told, to someone who breaks the rules and risks her life to help the ones she cares about.

Risuko faces many challenges throughout such as trying not to let the miserable Toumi, an orphan taken from her family the same time Risuko was, bring her down and bother her despite her rude and unnecessary remarks to everyone, as she seems to dislike everyone and everything. In addition to this, at her new home she is made to complete useless tasks such as butchering animals for meals for her ‘training’, which would be tiresome and awful for any young girl. However, Risuko does make some friends in this peculiar place. There is Emi, who also arrived with Risuko and Toumi and although she doesn’t smile and has her defense up all the time, she grows to become a mysterious, yet lovely character who you can’t help but like.
Then there is Musugu. He is a lieutenant and a samurai who has a sense of mystery about him, making him all the more attractive and appealing to some female characters in the book.  A good book wouldn’t be a book without a little bit of romance thrown in for good measure. Although it isn’t obviously stated that there is anything between Risuko and Musugu, I kind of got the feeling that she had a bit of a ‘thing’ for him and I really hope their relationship does blossom.

Although everything seems straight-forward throughout this book (despite the ending) there was always a sense of unknowing about this book, as it left you with unanswered questions and as you reached a new chapter or page it was slowly unraveling these mysteries and you could see the light at the end of the tunnel where all your answers would be. The best thing about this, despite the agonizing need to know things, was that it truly connected you with the characters, in particular Risuko as you found things out as she did, and I really like the idea that you was taken on a journey with her and thought it helped in understanding and sympathizing with her and other characters throughout the book.

I would definitely recommend this book to read as it was very cleverly and beautifully written and despite not knowing much about the Japanese culture, it was an easy read and didn’t cause any confusion whatsoever. I can not wait to find out more about Risuko and her journey to becoming a new woman with extraordinary talents which she is yet to discover and refine.