ARC REVIEW: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

 Katarina Bivald

PUBLISHER: Sourcebook Landmarks


RATING: 2 out of 5

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads): 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.


I received an advanced reading copy of this from Sourcebook Landmarks via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for supplying me this.

Writing Style

Katarina Bivald is a Swedish author whose love for books is unfathomable. It wasn’t difficult to jump into her style. She wrote with the careful assumption of having both young adults and adults as her readers. This book promised to be witty and in a sense, Bivald’s writing style granted that. However, you know how some authors can get pretty thorough on thought descriptions reading them becomes a huge endeavour? Bivald’s writing style is one of them. The character’s thoughts crept along enough for me to take a long interlude from reading it. Some were redundant, some leaving


Okay. Let’s get this bad part over and done with. Truth be told, the plot was flat and boring. There’s not much action happening and this dragged on for too long. I have to say there were a few good points that bequeathed me the slightest urge to pursue. But, these were eclipsed by the overall slow-as-a-snail dynamics of the plot. As abovementioned, the investment on thought descriptions on the whole was gargantuan, leaving relatively few spaces for action.

The first parts i.e. before Sara’s decision to put up a bookstore, was outright a hitch. There’s practically nothing much happening except sauntering around the cornfields and an occasional trip to the bar. I get that this is the acclimatization part for a new bean in town but why does it have to hang heavily?! What a waste of trees! Rude remark but I’m sorry for nothing.

Thankfully, “after the bookstore’s birth” the plot somehow sparked a little static. The story didn’t just focus on Sara’s day-to-day grind – which was a drab – since then. A refreshing scene. There were numerous pit stops in between, nevertheless, but it was a huge improvement in comparison. I particularly liked it when the spotlight was on George. I enjoyed the too scarce events he had with her long-lost daughter, Sophie. The schmaltzy monster in me was unleashed.

Let me allot another paragpaph for the holier-than-thou Caroline. In a small town as Broken Wheel where news spread like wildfire, to make an act that’s not very sanctimonious according to the Caroline Moral Standards is enough to make people stop their life and gossip. This was just a supporting event but for me, it was one of the peaks of kicks and buzzes. But then again, like an infection that spread throughout the book, everything happened real slow and I mean it not in the most positive sense.



The few good aspects of this novel is the set of characters. It showcased several personalities that represented people from different walks of life. Despite Sara’s boring character, I like her reason for setting up the bookstore. There may be people who bask in the pleasure of free passes and freebies thrown out by others, but Sara wasn’t. It’s hard to feel indebted to people you hardly know. Tom is a good representation of a lot of people who wanted to take off from a life so monotonous as in Broken Wheel but for some reasons, he couldn’t. It’s hard bidding our comfort zones goodbye, yeah? And then there’s also George. He’s on the verge of recuperating from chronic alcoholism. There’s no reason that could condone such time spent wasted on moonshine but what happened to him is undoubtedly tragic. I also like to  highlight Caroline, a mirror of so self-righteous beings that walked on the planet. No matter how strongly she held on to her principles, people are people capable of surrendering to temptations.


Despite this practically scornful review, I have nothing against the author. In fact, I want to sit with her for a cup of tea and chew over book talks. I’d love to hear out her long rants about John Grisham and Dan Brown. These quotes here are just my favorites.

“Sarah’s list of unreliable authors included John Grisham. How someone could write books like A Time to Kill and The Rainmaker and then come out with completely flat, idiotic stories the rest fo the time was a mystery.”

“Dan Brown also belonged here, she thought. He was so reliable that you got the exact same story every time.”


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  1. I love that despite the two star ratings you still talked about the good parts about the book–most people who give negative reviews don’t usaully try to find a saving grace for the book. And girl no you do not sound scornful at all!

    Another thing I love is how detailed and to the point your review is. I always like it when reviewers explain exactly why they loved or hated a book. Helps me to decide whether or not to pick up the book. Judging from this review I think I’ll stay away from this one! :p

    Hope your next read is better!😊


    • Ahh well a book can never be out-and-out horrible, can’t it? I know how much sweat and blood was drained writing this book and it’s just nasty bad-mouthing about it entirely. Haha! I’m not pointing out the good stuff just because of the author’s effort though but more because it merits the credits. 🙂

      You never fail to make me blush, Tanaz! Thank you so much! 😊😍😚

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Aww. The premise of this book is pretty interesting, actually. I mean, opening a bookstore? Traveling halfway around the world to meet your penpal? Yes to all of these. Unfortunately, based on your review, I probably wouldn’t read this book. I’m all for setting up the story, but I have no patience for boring plot.

    Ohmygod that quote about Grisham is so freaking true. Honestly, I am a big fan of his earlier books (The Rainmaker!), but the last five or so were just meh.


    • The premise is actually the reason I went to request for an ARC of this. You were right about that. I’m guessing you might not really like this at all given you’re mostly on action-packed, thick-paged plots as Brandon Sanderson. Haha!

      At some points, those funny quotes about these authors are what kept me reading. I wonder how John Grisham and Dan Brown would react reading this. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hahaha. Am I too obvious? Sanderson’s books are not always action-packed though. He took his sweet time setting up the world and the story, but at the end it (usually) paid off.
        Actually, I sort of want to read it just for those quotes. Maybe one day after I make a dent in my TBR.
        Hahaha I dunno, someone should ask them (or not). They’ll probably just laugh it off. xD


  3. I love how much thought you’ve put into this review. The title and premise of this book immediately piqued my interest, and I like the sound of those characters too. It’s a shame it doesn’t work for you, but thank you for sharing your thoughts! 🙂


    • Thank you, Cilla! The premise got me too that’s why I immediately requested for an ARC of this. To be fair to the author, I will still market this as something recommended if you’re up for something (slightly) funny and light. 😉😉


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