Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Title: The Bookshop Girl
Author: Sylvia Bishop
Illustrator: Poly Bernatene
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Pages: 144
My GoodReads Rating: 

I can never resist books about books or bookshops or the writing process. And so, I naturally gravitated towards this one, and it helped that this charming story was a treat and the illustrations were beautiful.

It is the story of a five-year-old girl whose parents forget her in a bookshop, the White Hart, owned by Netty Jones and her 10-year-old son Michael. The Jones treat her kindly and make her part of their family. And because she is somebody’s lost property, she is named Property Jones.

When the story begins, Property is 11 years old, and we come to know of a dreadful secret, one that Netty and Michael have never suspected, and that secret is that Property cannot read.

It is at this time that the family comes to know of the Object of Wonder, a contest run by Albert H Montgomery, the owner of the Great Montgomery Book Emporium, the biggest bookshop in Britain, and probably in the world.

The Joneses go on to win the prize, which includes a very surly kitten, named Gunther, who is as far from a pet as you can imagine. You might think that it would be the beginning of a happily-ever-after for them. But that is not the case. 

There is no story without conflict, and it is the same here. A huge challenge threatens, forcing the Joneses out of their Book Emporium and even out of the White Hart Book shop. It will be up to Property, with a little help from Gunther, to save the day. But how can a little girl who doesn’t even know how to read go about saving the only family she has?

The pace is breathtakingly fast as Property works hard to win back her family home.

The book was originally written in German. The English translation was sweet and quaint and the illustrations a total delight.

The book conjures up amazing visual delights, not unlike the world created by Roald Dahl in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I’ve always imagined Paradise to be crammed with books from floor to ceiling, similar to the library in the Beauty and the Beast, but the Book Emporium has a device that ups the ante, adding ambience to enhance the effect.

Another delightful aspect of this book was the friendly manner in which the narrator addressed the reader, talking to us in the second person.

The book evokes so many of the feelings that are close to a book lover’s heart, the smell of the books, how we love them even when they are old and yellowed, the sound of pages rustling. I also liked the fact that this book makes a strong case for abilities, in the face of inabilities, pointing out that every skill has its significance. The importance of the family is underscored here, as being the people that care about you, no matter what.

We don’t get much backstory about Netty and Michael, nor about Property, and we don’t care. It is this adventure that concerns us. Even so, the few details that we gather are enough to make us care for this family of Joneses.

I liked Michael. He loves dictionaries. I do too. On winning the Great Montgomery Book Emporium, Michael’s face lights up at the thought that they will have every book in the world. What a treasure that must be!

Property has amazing powers of observation; she can tell a lot about books even though she cannot read. She can figure out the genre of a particular book by the cover and the thinness of the paper alone.

My daughter and I both enjoyed this book very much.

(I read this book through Edelweiss.)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Book Review: THE GOOD TWIN

Title: The Good Twin
Author: Marti Green
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Pages: 263
My GoodReads Rating: 

The book begins in September 1990 when 17-year-old Sasha Holcolm gives birth to twin girls and gives one of them up for adoption. 

Twenty-six years later, Mallory Holcolm is a waitress who hates her miserable life. The only positive aspect in her life are the art classes she takes twice a week, in hopes of making it as an artist.

When a guest at her restaurant mistakes her for Charlotte “Charly” Jensen, insisting that the resemblance between them is uncanny, Mallory first becomes aware of Charly, rich heiress and owner of an art gallery, married to Ben Gordon, her childhood sweetheart. 

Subsequent investigations reveal to her that Charly is the twin sister she never knew she had. Her attempt to connect with Charly leads her to Ben, who is excited about meeting Mallory for reasons of his own. 

A middle-class man, Ben hates his job at his father-in-law’s hedge fund company but enjoys the perks of being rich. His marriage is stale but he would never leave his wife for his lover, because a prenup would mean giving up the lifestyle he can’t do without.

Ben has his own plans for Charly and they don’t include the two sisters ever meeting. Lying to Mallory that Charly is a bitch who worships money and hates her family, Ben turns Mallory’s heart against her rich sister. Mallory resents her sister for her rich lifestyle, her life of abundance, and is easily persuaded.

He makes an offer. If they were to get Charly killed, Mallory could pretend to be her dead sister, and they could split the money. One billion dollars each. It’s an offer she can’t refuse.

But is Ben to be trusted? And will Mallory fulfill her role in this devious plan? Will they get away with murder?

The story is written in the 1st person past tense PoV of Mallory and Charly, divided in two parts. Ben’s 3rd person past tense PoV is interspersed in alternate chapters. The third part is taken up by Mallory again.

We get to see very little of Charly in Mallory’s account, and come to know of her motivations only in the second part, which features her PoV. The third part once again shifts to Mallory’s account.

I found the pace better in Mallory’s account. Charly’s was unnecessarily rushed. It seemed as if it was in a tearing hurry to fill the gaps that peeked out in the earlier account. Of course, none of it mattered because in the end, neither of the two sisters came across as being likeable. On the contrary, such were the bizarre twists and turns in the third part, that I thought both the sisters were nice and obnoxious, at the same time.

One big boo-boo was the fact that the dialogue with reference to the same scene changed, depending upon the person whose first person account it was. This happened twice, once in connection with a scene at which the two narrators were present, and the other relating to a phone conversation.

Other than these issues, it was a fun read, one not to be taken seriously.

All said and done, I’m still wondering which one was the good twin.

(I read this book through NetGalley.)


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