This is a book that has been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read since it released in 2017. It happens, something makes you buy the book with every intention of reading it immediately, but then you don't get to it and it's placed on a shelf, waiting until you find it again. I finally picked it up again recently, this time to read it!
There was a great deal of buzz and interest in Sarah Miller's Caroline, due to its appeal to fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Little House books. The book is a sort of retelling of Wilder's Little House on the Prairie through the point of view of Caroline Ingalls (aka Ma in the Little House books). It's an interesting concept that opens the Little House world up to a broader audience, drawing in adults who may not have been able to relate to Wilder's children's books.
Being a longtime Little House and LIW fan, I was excited when I heard about Caroline's release and was quick to grab a copy for myself, even if I ended up not being quick with the reading of it. Flash forward 2 years later, I finally got around to reading it. I found Caroline an enjoyable read, helped by the fact that I was already familiar with the characters through LIW's Little House on the Prairie. It was interesting to see the story unfold through an adult's perspective and helped round out the original story.
As I said above, Caroline was an enjoyable read, though I will say it was a bit long on prose and spent a little too much time in the character's (Caroline) mind, rather than the story surrounding her. There were sections dedicated to particular activities and such that I felt were over done, drawn out, and took up a great deal of room that could have been devoted to other, more interesting details.
Miller seemed to zero in and focus on the act of Caroline breastfeeding the baby (Carrie) multiple times for long stretches. To be clear, I have absolutely no issue with breastfeeding, it is a beautiful act of feeding and nurturing your child, but in this case, it weighed the book down a great deal, so much so, it runs the risk of turning the reader off from the overall story. In fact, it seemed that the author had an odd interest in Caroline's breasts and body as a whole, to the point where there were sections of the book that I had to just skim over because it just got to be too much to wade through.
The only other big issue is that I would imagine it would be harder to get into this book if you were not already familiar with the characters originally created by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Part of this book's charm and selling point is the fact that it plays off of LIW's books, it's geared toward her fans. Miller doesn't spend a whole lot of time developing the characters herself, obviously relying on the fact that most readers have already read LIW's books, but that is indeed a dangerous tactic, for it can alienate new readers who have never read the original Little House books. To them, I would imagine the characters would seem a bit underdeveloped.
All in all, though, I would say that Caroline was a fairly enjoyable read, one for Little House fans to add to their reading repertoire, if not their shelves.
I give it a 5/10.
I came across Phaedra Patrick's The Library of Lost and Found through a recommendation on Amazon. I happen to love that feature on the site and have had an overwhelmingly positive experience with it, finding awesome books to add to my shelves. This was the rare occasion when it failed me.
I bought this book with great hopes of it continuing my streak of great bookish themed reads, unfortunately that wasn't the case. The Library of Lost and Found has a few big issues. Its pacing is far too slow and stilted, it makes for a less than enjoyable reading experience. There were several points in reading this book when I found myself seriously contemplating whether or not to just stop, which is something I rarely experience. I had a hard time getting into the story itself due to the lack of flow of the writing and structure.
I found the main character of Martha to be too much of a "poor pitiful me" martyr when in reality, most of her problems were due to her not having backbone enough to stand up for herself and take charge of her own life. She spends most of the book bemoaning her life and feeling sorry for herself. One good thing that happened towards the end of the story was that Martha does finally take some charge and stand up for herself, but it still feels a bit weak.
Another issue is with the characters. The author spends a great deal of time developing some characters, who end up not having a major role in the overall book, and not enough time on the characters that do! Early on in the story, you get the feeling that a handful of characters are going to play a larger role only to find out fairly quickly that they don't and kind of just drop off. The two characters that could've used more developing and time spent on them were Siegfried and Owen. These two characters played, or rather should have had a larger role in Martha's life and as a result, in this book.... but they didn't.
Overall, the book meandered and floundered too much to be enjoyable. It was long on words and short on story development. I've read quite a few reviews of The Library of Lost and Found, to see if anyone else felt the way I did about the book, and found that a great deal of its readers agreed with me. I also learned that Patrick has published other books that were evidently far better than this one. Most of her readers made it clear that her other books were much better and that they were disappointed with this offering. So maybe this book is just a fluke, not a reflection of the author's capabilities. Either way, I'd pass on this one. I'll be giving my copy away.
I give it a 3/10.
I stumbled upon Amy Meyerson's The Bookshop of Yesterdays while browsing the new releases on Amazon. Starting in 2018, I wanted to make a point of adding new releases to my reading list, which up to that point was severely lacking new books. I've been extremely lucky in new book picks, I have yet to be disappointed, in fact, I'm usually delightfully surprised to have found a new favorite read. ;)
Released in May of this year, The Bookshop of Yesterdays is part mystery, part family drama, and all around a bookish soul's delight. An excellent debut from Meyerson, the book follows Miranda Brooks (I LOVE that her last name rhymes with "books") as she works through her troubled family history to reveal a long held secret. Growing up, Miranda loved her Uncle Billy and the adventures he'd take her on. Uncle Billy loved a good riddle and would often send Miranda on a scavenger hunt using books along the way. One night, there was a fight between Miranda's mother and Uncle Billy, causing Billy to break contact until his death.
Fast forward several years, Miranda is a history teacher living with her boyfriend when one fine day she receives a package. The arrival of the package and the news that Uncle Billy has passed away sends Miranda on one last scavenger hunt in order to solve the riddle and uncover a family secret that could change everything. Miranda makes new friends and works to save her Uncle's beloved bookshop along the way, with the book coming to a satisfying ending.
I was hooked into this story immediately and could not put it down. The characters were well-developed, unique, and interesting. The plot was absolutely fascinating, one that kept you turning the page. Meyerson does an excellent job hooking the reader and drawing them into solving the riddle. Around chapter 7, I had a hunch as to what one of the secrets the book was building towards revealing was going to be, and was pleasantly surprised to find out I was correct in my deduction. Though I will say, I had no idea how it would all fall into place. This is one of the best books I've read this year so far. I'd highly recommend it. There's a little something for everyone in it.
I give it an 8/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....