The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend paperbackThe Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

I wanted to love this book. The premise is fun, and the emphasis on books seems like it be a definite winner.

Except.

The premise and emphasis on books is all that keeps this from turning into a rant about the book, and as it is I can’t believe it’s a best seller. The supposed “charm” of the book felt fake and ridiculous, the characters were so cardboard I had a hard time remembering who they were, and the resolution was contrived and cringe-worthy. There’s also a side-plot that was impossible to believe, and some dangling plot elements that annoyed me to no end. As if that wasn’t enough, it was way too long and drew out what littleaction there was with tons of padding. I like big books, but I don’t want them to be long and boring. This one? Kind of boring.

Often after I finish a book I disliked I find myself perusing Goodreads reviews to see if I’m the only one with those negative opinions. Typically I can find other negative reviews (like this one) that capture the issues I had with the book, which is always satisfying. Yes! It wasn’t just me!

As disappointed as I was in this book, I would keep an eye out for future titles by Bivald – this was a debut and I can hope that the issues I had would improve with more experience. I feel like she’s got the potential there, and this one had potential as well. It just didn’t happen.

Not recommended. Save your reading time.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Once you let a book into your life, the most unexpected things can happen…

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara, who traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her pen pal, Amy. When she arrives, however, she finds that Amy’s funeral has just ended. Luckily, the townspeople are happy to look after their bewildered tourist—even if they don’t understand her peculiar need for books. Marooned in a farm town that’s almost beyond repair, Sara starts a bookstore in honor of her friend’s memory.

All she wants is to share the books she loves with the citizens of Broken Wheel and to convince them that reading is one of the great joys of life. But she makes some unconventional choices that could force a lot of secrets into the open and change things for everyone in town. Reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, this is a warm, witty book about friendship, stories, and love.

Book Details

Title: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend
Author: Katarina Bivald
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 2 Stars


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cover Love: The Well of Lost Plots

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book to review by NetGalley (although I actually read a library copy because the NetGalley copy wasn’t cooperating with my Kindle). I was not required to post a positive review (I guess that’s probably pretty obvious though), and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links – thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Book Itch by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

The Book ItchThe Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie

An engaging and accessible way to tell the story of Lewis Michaux, founder of the National Memorial African Bookstore in Harlem. The illustrations help bring the era and setting to life, and are a reason to not get the book in the electronic version – I originally borrowed the book for my Kindle and couldn’t really see the illustrations well enough to appreciate the book. Get the print version!

Although it’s a picture book, it’s not one for toddlers, and even my new kindergartner wasn’t interested in listening in for it. The second grader was a better fit for it, and I think it could easily be read to or by children through fifth or sixth grade, up until they’re ready for Micheaux Nelson’s middle grade book about Michaux, No Crystal Stair.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In the 1930s, Lewis’s dad, Lewis Michaux Sr., had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore.

Book Details

Title: The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore
Author: by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Category: Juvenile nonfiction
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from NetGalley, but I actually read it as a library book (the illustrations were impossible to see in the advance copy I had). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Book Review: The Tarantula in My Purse by Jean Craighead George
Two years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 24)

Man Enough by Nate Pyle

Man EnoughMan Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood by Nate Pyle

If it seems strange that I read this book, well, I had a couple of reasons for wanting to. Thanks to Twitter I discovered the author, Nate Pyle, who is a pastor at a church in the Indianapolis area – since that’s where I live I began following him and wanted to read what he had to say. And as my son grows up, I find myself thinking about how he is maturing; what kind of man am I raising?

I appreciated with his premise (that manhood shouldn’t be defined by cultural ideals and expectations) and enjoyed parts of the book quite a bit. One of the strongest sections is when he writes that as Christians (whether male or female) our focus should be on becoming more Christ-like. He notes that “when characteristics are godly, they transcend masculinity and femininity and become traits that all people should seek to embody.” The final chapter was also excellent as it talked about risk aversion and vulnerability.

It’s very personal, with much of Pyle’s story informing the structure and examples given throughout the text. Unfortunately, it ends up being fairly repetitive, and feels like he’s continually circling around the same concept, without ever developing it further.

There was a small section that talked about parenting boys, and I would have loved to see more there – how do we as parents avoid raising our sons into aiming for the cultural male-ideal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Man Enough challenges the idea that there is one way to be a man. The masculinity that pervades our church and culture often demands that men conform to a macho ideal, leaving many men feeling ashamed that they’re not living up to God’s plan for them. Nate uses his own story of not feeling “man enough” as well as sociological and historical reflections to help men see that manhood isn’t about what you do but who you are. It’s not about the size of your paycheck, your athletic ability, or your competitive spirit. You don’t have to fit any masculine stereotype to be a real man.

In our culture and churches more thoughtful, quieter, or compassionate personalities, as well as stay-at-home dads, are often looked down upon; and sermons, conferences, and publications center on helping men become “real men”. This pressure to have one’s manhood validated is antithetical to Gospel living and negatively affects how men relate to each other, to women and children, and to God.

Man Enough roots men in the Gospel, examines biblical examples of masculinity that challenge the idea of a singular type of man, and ultimately encourages men to conform to the image of Jesus – freeing men up to be who they were created to be: sons of God who uniquely bear his image.

Book Details

Title: Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood
Author: Nate Pyle
Category: Nonfiction / Christian
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 6), the nonfiction

Out of Darkness

Out of DarknessOut of Darkness: My Story of Finding True Light and Liberation by Stormie Omartian

Hard to read at times, because the subject matter is so heart-rending. Omartian had a horrific childhood and it’s amazing to read her story and realize what she overcame.

The writing is fine, but more serviceable than spellbinding. If you’re familiar with her books such as The Power of a Praying Wife (and all the other related titles) it’s inspiring to learn how she developed into the woman of prayer she became.

If you’re not a believer, I don’t think the book would be as interesting to you. It also helps if you’re familiar with her writing or musical career. I had no idea of her musical abilities and hadn’t heard of her husband Michael Omartian (that probably says more about my obliviousness than anything else).

She’s got a previous memoir, Stormie, but I never read that and can’t say how this one differs from it.

Recommended for those who have liked her other books, or those who looking for a story of transformation and redemption.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Stormie Omartian tells her compelling story of a childhood marred by physical and emotional abuse that eventually led her into the occult, drugs, and tragic relationships.

Finding herself overwhelmed by fear and on the verge of suicide, she shares the turning point that changed her life and reveals the healing process that brought freedom and wholeness beyond what she ever imagined.

In this poignant drama, there is help and hope for anyone who has been scarred by the past or feels imprisoned by deep emotional needs. It is a glorious story of how God can bring life out of death, life out of darkness.

Book Details

Title: Out of Darkness: My Story of Finding True Light and Liberation
Author: Stormie Omartian
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

From Stray Dog to World War I Hero

From Stray Dog to World War I HeroFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First DivisionFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division by Grant Hayter-Menzies by Grant Hayter-Menzies

I’m a dog lover, but don’t usually like dog stories. So often they seem to be written just to elicit tears, and that’s not the sort of book I want. Bring in some history with the story though, and you’ve got my interest. So the description of this one sounded like a great choice for me: a little-known story from World War I, about a dog who was a hero for the US.

Except, while I *wanted* to love the story, and while I can appreciate what Rags did from an intellectual standpoint, the book itself left me unaffected. It would have benefited from the emotions those other dog stories bring to their books.

Other reviews all seem to mention the beautiful writing, but clearly I’m still a cranky reader, because I found it to be serviceable writing, but nothing deserving special mention.

Overall, I found myself wishing that a picture book author would discover Rags’ story and turn it into a beautiful children’s book. The known facts of the story are thin enough that it simply doesn’t support a full book like this, but it could work really well as a children’s book, or in a compilation like the National Geographic Kids Animal StoriesNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal Kingdom book I love so much.

If you’re a dog lover and history buff, you may still enjoy this, but I wouldn’t make much effort to track it down if your library doesn’t already have a copy. It’s fine, but not worth searching out or buying for yourself.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
On the streets of Paris one day in July 1918, an American doughboy, Sgt. Jimmy Donovan, befriended a stray dog that he named Rags. No longer an unwanted street mutt, Rags became the mascot to the entire First Division of the American Expeditionary Force and a friend to the American troops who had crossed the Atlantic to fight. Rags was more than a scruffy face and a wagging tail, however. The little terrier mix was with the division at the crucial battle of Soissons, at the Saint-Mihiel offensive, and finally in the blood-and-mud bath of the Meuse-Argonne, during which he and his guardian were wounded. Despite being surrounded by distraction and danger, Rags learned to carry messages through gunfire, locate broken communications wire for the Signal Corps to repair, and alert soldiers to incoming shells, saving the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. Through it all, he brought inspiration to men with little to hope for, especially in the bitter last days of the war.

From Stray Dog to World War I Hero covers Rags’s entire life story, from the bomb-filled years of war through his secret journey to the United States that began his second life, one just as filled with drama and heartache. In years of peace, Rags served as a reminder to human survivors of what held men together when pushed past their limits by the horrors of battle.

Book Details

Title: From Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First DivisionFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division by Grant Hayter-Menzies
Author: Grant Hayter-Menzies
Category: Nonfiction / History
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Reading After Having Children

The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill by Andrea Warren

The Boy Who Became Buffalo BillThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren by Andrea Warren

An excellent biography for children and younger teens. It doesn’t have the depth I’d want to recommend it as a full biography for adults, but for the target audience it’s well-written and engaging. Warren does an impressive job of sifting through the embellishments of Cody’s life, and of detailing some of the tragedies of his childhood in a way that still keeps it readable by younger children.

I especially enjoyed it because of having recently read Eiffel’s Tower, which included a little bit about Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show as it appeared at the Paris World’s Fair. After reading in that book about what a showman he was, and how much his shows delighted Paris (and much of the rest of Europe, before and after the World’s Fair), it was enlightening to read about how he became that man.

While I don’t think it’s a must-read as an adult, it was still one that adults can appreciate. I’d be careful before handing it over to younger elementary students but upper elementary and older should be fine with it (although, as always, know your readers and their sensitivity levels. There are some harsh moments in the book.)

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The greatest entertainer of his era, Buffalo Bill was the founder and star of the legendary show that featured cowboys, Indians, trick riding, and sharpshooters.

But long before stardom, Buffalo Bill—born Billy Cody—had to grow up fast. While homesteading in Kansas just before the Civil War, his family was caught up in the conflict with neighboring Missouri over whether Kansas would enter the Union as a free or slave state.

To support his family after a pro-slaver killed his father, Billy—then eleven—herded cattle, worked on wagon trains, and rode the Pony Express. As the violence in Bleeding Kansas escalated, he joined the infamous Jayhawkers, seeking revenge on Missouri­ans, and then became a soldier, scout, and spy in the Civil War—all by age seventeen.

Award-winning author Andrea Warren brings to life the compelling childhood of an adventurous, determined boy who transformed himself into a true American icon.

Book Details

Title: The Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding KansasThe Boy Who Became Buffalo Bill: Growing Up Billy Cody in Bleeding Kansas by Andrea Warren
Author: Andrea Warren
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction / Biography
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books Read in 2014 – the Compiled List

Out of Sorts by Sarah Bessey

Out of SortsOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey by Sarah Bessey

Bessey’s first book, Jesus Feminist, was one of my most disappointing reads last year. It wasn’t the book I expected it to be, and that aggravation and disappointment made me unable to fully appreciate the book that it was.

Bessey’s new book, Out of Sorts, had no such issues for me. I expected it to be a faith memoir, and that’s precisely what it is. This time I enjoyed the personal angle she brought to the discussion of faith and religion.

If you liked Jesus Feminist, you’re almost certain to enjoy this one. And even if you didn’t care for Jesus Feminist, Out of Sorts is a stronger, more cohesive account, that takes her story, and makes more universal.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In Out of Sorts, Sarah Bessey—award-winning blogger and author of Jesus Feminist, which was hailed as “lucid, compelling, and beautifully written” (Frank Viola, author of God’s Favorite Place on Earth)—helps us grapple with core Christian issues using a mixture of beautiful storytelling and biblical teaching, a style well described as “narrative theology.”

As she candidly shares her wrestlings with core issues—such as who Jesus is, what place the Church has in our lives, how to disagree yet remain within a community, and how to love the Bible for what it is rather than what we want it to be—she teaches us how to walk courageously through our own tough questions.

In the process of gently helping us sort things out, Bessey teaches us how to be as comfortable with uncertainty as we are with solid answers. And as we learn to hold questions in one hand and answers in the other, we discover new depths of faith that will remain secure even through the storms of life.

Book Details

Title: Out of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving FaithOut of Sorts: Making Peace with an Evolving Faith by Sarah Bessey
Author: Sarah Bessey
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir / Faith
My Rating: 4 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley for review. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Cooking the Book: Good Cheap Eats by Jessica Fisher

Passenger on the Pearl by Winifred Conkling

Passenger on the PearlPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling by Winifred Conkling

An extremely overdue review, but don’t take that as a reflection on my feelings towards the book.

This is an excellent resource for students wanting a look at slavery in the US, and how it impacted an individual family.

Despite touching on horrific aspects of American history, the way the story is told makes it readable by younger children – I would probably not hesitate to use it for middle grade or even upper elementary readers. Know your reader of course, but I would think if you’re willing to let your child read about slavery in general, nothing in this story should be a problem. One possible exception/caution is because of some references to the threat of sexual slavery and abuse Emily and her sister faced. Nothing is graphical described, and oblivious readers may not even catch it, but be aware it’s in there.

The straightforward writing style, while having the advantage of keeping it from being too graphic for more sensitive or younger readers, does end up making it a drier read. It’s an incredible story, with connections to significant events in American history, but the writing makes it not as compelling to keep reading.

It’s a very educational read, and one of the strongest points of the book is in the resource list – it ends up working well as a starting point, to then find more information about particular aspects of slavery in the US. Emily’s story is fascinating, and I appreciated the follow-up provided on her family (when it was available).

Recommended for children or younger teens looking for material on the topic. It doesn’t have enough depth to be one I’d recommend for older teens or adults, but for the target audience it’s a worthwhile resource.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The page-turning, heart-wrenching true story of one young woman willing to risk her safety and even her life for a chance at freedom in the largest slave escape attempt in American history.

In 1848, thirteen-year-old Emily Edmonson, five of her siblings, and seventy other enslaved people boarded the Pearl under cover of night in Washington, D.C., hoping to sail north to freedom. Within a day, the schooner was captured, and the Edmonsons were sent to New Orleans to be sold into even crueler conditions. Through Emily Edmonson’s journey from enslaved person to teacher at a school for African American young women, Conkling illuminates the daily lives of enslaved people, the often changing laws affecting them, and the high cost of a failed escape.

Book Details

Title: Passenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson’s Flight from SlaveryPassenger on the Pearl: The True Story of Emily Edmonson's Flight from Slavery by Winifred Conkling
Author: Winifred Conkling
Category: Juvenile Nonfiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book from NetGalley, but I actually read it as a library book (the advanced copy I received wasn’t cooperating with my ereader). I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 27)

Get Yourself Organized for Christmas by Kathi Lipp

Get Yourself Organized for ChristmasGet Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the SeasonGet Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the Season by Kathi Lipp by Kathi Lipp

There are a lot of Christmas organizing guides out there. I’ve even written about them before. What makes this one different? Lipp doesn’t seem to be trying to create THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO EVERYTHING HOLIDAY. (And that’s a good thing.)

Her focus is on keeping Christmas simple (whatever that means to you – and you’re going to figure it out working through the book) so that you can enjoy the holiday season. Even better, you’ll make it even easier for yourself next year, as you’ll be keeping track of everything you’re doing this year in one convenient place.

If you’ve already got a good handle on your Christmas plans, I wouldn’t bother with this. If you’re trying to scale back, start new traditions, or just figure out a way to make it manageable for yourself, you might give this a look.

It’s written in such an encouraging, you-can-do-this way it feels like you’ve got a friend right by your side cheering you on. And giving you a nudge to make sure you’re working on things a little bit at a time. 🙂

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Have you lost your Christmas joy? Does the thought of jam-packed malls, maxed-out credit cards, overcrowded supermarkets, and endless to-do lists give you the feeling that maybe Scrooge was on to something?

In Get Yourself Organized for Christmas, Kathi Lipp provides easy-to-follow steps to reduce the stress of the holiday season, including tactics for how to

  • put together a holiday binder you’ll use year after year
  • determine a budget that won’t break the bank
  • gather your elf supplies
  • get your gift list together (including ideas for various ages and relationships)
  • collect your recipes and prep your kitchen

By putting into practice Kathi’s tricks and tips, you’ll finally be able to fully enjoy this most wonderful time of the year.

Book Details

Title: Get Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the SeasonGet Yourself Organized for Christmas: Simple Steps to Enjoying the Season by Kathi Lipp
Author: Kathi Lipp
Category: Nonfiction
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley for review. I was not required to post a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New on My Bookcase (vol. 25)

Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen

The Tale of RescueThe Tale of RescueThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows

I’m not entirely sure how to review this book. It’s a sparse tale, and despite the potential for gripping action, it ends up being almost slow and gentle, with an old-fashioned feel. The illustrations are the standout – they’re fantastic, and reason enough to get the book in print not an electronic version.

Where I struggle to recommend the book is with the target audience age. The illustrations and limited text make it tilt younger, but the writing style and tone tip it older. I enjoyed it as an adult, so don’t be put off by thinking it’s only for children, but be aware that it’s very short.

Even with some misgivings about the book, I did enjoy it, and would easily recommend it as a library book. I’d hesitate to advise purchasing it without previewing it, except for die-hard animal lovers who will want to read any and all texts featuring dog heroes.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
When a blizzard traps a family outside in a whiteout, a cattle dog devises a stunning rescue in a moving, suspenseful, and gorgeously illustrated story.

A family—a mother, a father, and their ten-year-old son—have come all the way from Florida to the Appalachian foothills to experience the wonder of a snowy weekend. At a nearby farm, a cattle dog is working, as she does every day, driving her forty head of cattle from pasture to corral and back again. And then, suddenly, a blizzard descends. The family is trapped outside, disoriented in the whiteout. They are panicked, exhausted, freezing, and stranded in waist-deep drifts. From off in the distance, the cattle dog has heard their faint, snow-drowned cries. Her inexhaustible attention turns to saving them. This stirring tale is both a compelling story of survival and a meditation on the tremendous will of man’s best friend.

Book Details

Title: The Tale of RescueThe Tale of Rescue by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows
Author: Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows
Category: Juvenile Fiction
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: I received this book for free from NetGalley for review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan
Two years ago: Ebook Review: Simple Scrubs to Make and Give by Stacy Karen
Three years ago: Using Goodreads