Tag Archives: bookstores

Review: The Printed Letter Bookshop, by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop, by Katherine Reay (Thomas Nelson, 2019)

Friendship, self-discovery, love, and a celebration of reading—and of independent bookstores.

Maddie Cullen had a knack for engaging with her customers and knowing the right book to suggest. When she died, she left envelopes for her two employees and her estranged niece. Each woman’s letter included a Bible passage and a list of books.

Madeline, her niece, inherited the store but doesn’t want to keep it. Claire and Janet, Maddie’s employees who supported her through her final days, wish the new owner would just let them carry on the business as usual. As the three women work together, each also reading the books Maddie’s letter “assigned,” they develop a strong friendship and each grow toward the potential Maddie had seen in them.

Each woman’s point of view is written in a different tense: first-person past, third-person past, and third-person present. I always find that sort of delivery jarring, and I confess I also had a hard time connecting with the characters. All three were a bit of a mess at first.

I’m glad I stuck with it, because it’s a heartwarming story. As it progressed I grew to care for each of them. And I wish I could visit the bookstore!

For more about Katherine Reay and her books, and for book club resources, visit katherinereay.com.

[Review copy from the public library.]

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Review: Cooking the Books, by Bonnie S. Calhoun

Cooking the Books cover artCooking the Books, by Bonnie S. Calhoun (Abingdon Press, 2012)

When Sloane Templeton fled her abusive husband, she moved into an apartment above her mother’s bookstore in Brooklyn, NYC. Her mom’s sudden death left her co-owner of the store, and business partner with store manager Felicia Tyler.

Sloane’s not the bookstore type. She’s a computer forensics pro. But she’s not ready to let go of the connection to her mother and move on with life. Especially not now, when community business owners are under pressure to sell out to a big developer and she can still hear her mother’s thoughts on the subject.

Sloane is a vibrant, sassy character with a penchant for strays (of the human variety). Her self-appointed mother-hens, Felicia and Aunt Verlene, are as supportive as they can be. Sadly for Sloane, that support comes in the form of shooting lessons, fear-inspiring home cuisine, and a concerted attempt to set her up with nice young men despite her current relationship.

Then the email threats start. Her former boyfriend (not the ex-husband, he’s trouble of a different sort) wants her back. Rude but wealthy men compete for a valuable book. And the developer piles on the pressure to sell. What’s a girl to do?

The characters make the novel. Felicia and Verlene are larger-than-life comedic individuals like you’d find in Janice Hanna Thompson’s Weddings by Bella series. Between the fast-paced banter and all that’s going on in Sloane’s life, it’s a fun read. And a good mystery: who’s behind all this?

When the immediate mystery is solved, there are enough threads left to warrant a sequel. Always a good thing… I hope we’ll see more Sloane Templeton Mysteries. For a bit of fun, click this link to meet Sloane Templeton.

Bonnie S. Calhoun is director of the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance and owner/publisher of the popular Christian Fiction Online magazine. Cooking the Books is her first novel, and it fits her tag line: snark & suspense. For more about the author, visit bonniescalhoun.com. And check out Vonda Skelton’s interview with Bonnie.  You can also read the first chapter of Cooking the Books.

[Review copy from my personal library.]