Monday, December 19, 2016

The Bookshop on the Corner

The title: The Bookshop on the Corner
The author: Jenny Colgan
Publication: William Morrow Paperbacks, 2016
Got it from: Chapters

I haven't read anything else by Jenny Colgan, but I liked the premise of this one so I got it from the library, and then ended up buying a copy for a relative.  Nina Redmond is a 29-year-old librarian in Birmingham whose library is being converted into an "information hub."  Being an old-fashioned book lover, Nina is neither willing nor able to work in this sort of environment.  As a librarian who despairs of the creeping business model of libraries and all the attendant "business speak," this book made me nod my head in agreement.

At first, Nina is lost and unsure of what to do with herself.  All she knows is matching people to books, so that's what she decides on.  Without much of a plan, she heads to an isolated town in Scotland to buy a van to transport all the books the library is throwing out.  Naturally, she ends up staying as she gets to know the locals, including a romantic train driver who goes through the town every night and her grumpy-yet-surprisingly-sexy landlord.  Before she knows what's happening, she's got everyone in town hooked on reading and finds herself falling in love with the village.

This book is feel-good, through and through.  It put a smile on my face.  Even though it was predictable, it was cute without being cutesy and I really liked the descriptions of the Scottish countryside and all the sheep. 

Sunday, December 4, 2016

No Relation

The title: No Relation
The author: Terry Fallis
Publication: Douglas Gibson Books, 2014
Got it from: Terry Fallis podcast

Terry Fallis writes the kinds of books you like to read when you need something to ground you: something light, funny and uncomplicated, where everything will be tied up in a happy ending.  Although it didn't have the feminist humour of Pole to Pole or the biting satire of The Best Laid Plans, I enjoyed listening to Terry Fallis reading No Relation on his podcast. 

The basic joke of the book is that the protagonist is named Earnest Hemmingway.  Spelled differently from the famous author and "no relation," as he would have you know.  There are a lot of classic Fallis tropes on display here.  The protagonist starts out with a rotten string of bad luck, losing his job and his girlfriend on the same day.  But in typical Fallis fashion, he turns it around to his advantage.  After a video of him getting to a fight with a DMV clerk about his name goes viral on YouTube, Earnest starts a meetup group for people with famous names called Name Fame. Befriending Diana Ross (who really can sing), Mahatma Gandhi (who has anger management issues), Mario Andretti (who can't drive) and others, Earnest must exercise the ghost of the real Earnest Hemmingway to find his inner writer.  As his travels take him to Paris, Pamplona and Key West, he also has to deal with his dad's expectation that he'll take over the family underwear manufacturing business.

It wasn't my favourite Fallis, but it was enjoyable in a comforting, lighthearted way.