Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner: A Novel by Jenny Colgan

A librarian in Birmingham (the UK one not the US one) gets laid off, and decides to open a mobile bookshop -- in Scotland. Sounds like a fun premise for a light read, right? And after all, I like books about books, because usually I get at least one good title to put on my wishlist. And a light read is sometimes just the ticket.

Aside from being completely misnamed, "The Bookshop on the Corner" was indeed a

Even with my ARC frustrations, I still enjoyed the book. I'd like to thank the publishers and Library Thing early reviewers program for my copy of the book, and the author for one of the more entertaining Message to Readers.

2016-read, advanced-reader-copy, books-about-books, early-review-librarything, made-me-look-something-up, read 
quick, light read. ("On the corner" makes the shop sound land based, when in fact, it is in a van, and rides the country side. Also, the actual name of the shop is "The Little Shop of Happy Ever After", which I expect was the original title of the manuscript, but that some editor found too twee, and changed it. I have no problems with changing the book title, but make it fit the book!) The main frustrations I had with it might be because I was reading an ARC. I am in the habit of looking up words I don't know as well as books mentioned which are unfamiliar. In this case, I looked up probably 17 words, two of which I was able to find meanings for. The others, thinking they possibly could be British slang I sent to various British and Scottish friends, who also were stumped. I can only assume I have somewhat unaware friends, or else these are typos that will be corrected before the final publication. As to books, aside from well-knowns, like Harry Potter or Swallows and Amazons, I was also singularly unsuccessful, even using I sincerely hope there is a glossary of books mentioned for readers who wish to follow-up on interesting sounding books. But as I said, these may be ARC frustrations, and really didn't interfere too much with the telling of the story.

Time and Time Again by Ben Elton

I got a little snitty reading this book, complaining to my self, and to husband, that if someone's going to write a time-travel book, at least they should know history. I even went to tweet about it, but then had the sudden thought that the things that were bothering me, might actually be a plot element, and I shouldn't go all history major on the author, but be patient and read the book. Glad I listened to myself (and  stopped the tweet before I hit "post"). It allowed me to figure out one plot twist, but be surprised still by another. 

Let me ask you this: if you could go back in history and change one thing to fix the wrongs of the world, what would it be? I love a book that's food for thought.

tags: 2016-read, made-me-look-something-up, made-me-think, read, science-fiction, thank-you-charleston-county-library, time-travel-reincarnation-etc

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier

I never come away from a Chevalier novel without knowing I have gained something. Sometimes that "something" is a wonderful bit of fiction, but often, it also is that more elusive classroom of life, where I have learned a bit more about the subject of which she's written. It can be painting a masterpiece, weaving one of my favorite medieval tapestries, finding fossils, or as in this book, more about trees and our nation's history in the early to mid 1800's. The story starts in the swamps of northwest Ohio (okay, I admit it. I didn't know there were swamps there) with the somewhat hapless and luckless Goodenough family, who are, indeed, good enough to make a mess of things, including planting the orchard that would allow them to claim ownership of their land. (Now that decree I did know about: to claim a sake of farmland, there needed to be 50 trees planted as an orchard in 3 years of settling, to show you were really serious about farming the land.) The story bounces back and forth between James and Sadie, sometimes sideswiping their surviving children, and then moves to follow the youngest, Robert, as he travels west. (The day Robert first saw the giant sequoias of California was the day I also discovered old family pictures from 1962 when my own family discovered them as well.)

Chevalier has woven two actual figures into the novel, both of whom have crossed my interest radar in the past: John Chapman (aka Johnny Appleseed) and William Lobb, each of whom helped transport trees (actually seeds, seedlings, and saplings) from their natural environment to new ones, often miles and growing zones away.  Fascinating stuff, how we changed our world through plants. And because that fascinates me, the story built around it interested me, too.

Tags: 2016-read, an-author-i-read, made-me-look-something-up, read,  taught-me-something, thank-you-charleston-county-library