Review – Beartown by Fredrik Backman

 

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Title: Beartown

Author: Fredrik Backman

Publisher:Simon & Schuster

Rating: 5/5

 

This was my first introduction to Backman’s writing. He expertly handled this story dealing with such delicate subject matter. His use of multiple perspectives only enhanced the impact of this poignant story. He truly had his finger on the pulse of what it is like to live in a small town. It felt like a real place and so did his characters. This story is absolutely fantastic. It’s a page-turner, but it’s also extremely thought provoking and a great conversation starter. There is so much about this book that makes you cognizant of the topics that we need to cover with our children or just have open dialogue about as a society. There are so many topics in this that are relevant issues right now and that we see frequenting our newspapers. I think everyone should read this in order for us to be able to have greater empathy and to foster the deeper discussions we need to be having regarding these divisive issues.

 

This story was heartbreaking, but we see it happening far too often. I can’t wait to dive into the sequel and see what is happening in their community.

 

I don’t want to give too much of this one away, so here is the Goodreads synopsis:

 

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Overeturns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

 

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

 

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

 

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

 

Have you read this one? What did you think? Have you read the sequel?

Review – The Shadow of the Wind

 

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Title: The Shadow of the Wind

Author: Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Publisher: Penguin Books

Source: I purchased for a read along

Links: Goodreads , Amazon

Rating: 4/5

   The Shadow of the Wind was equally dark and beautiful. The prose was eloquent and witty. I feel like it takes immense talent to write a story that is both disturbing and comical. This story is set in Barcelona in the year 1945. Daniel’s father owns a bookstore and he has a deep love of stories and words. He happens upon a book, The Shadow of The Wind by Julian Carax. This is a very rare book and not much is known about its author. It becomes Daniel’s ambition to learn more about the author and his writing. While he is trying to learn more, he ends up in the midst of a darker, dangerous plot. Someone has been destroying all of Carax’s work.

   This story has several elements. It’s a story about the love of reading and writing. There’s a mystery with several twists and turns. Also, there is a love story and a city that is in a severe state of turmoil post-war. There are characters that are deeply troubled and circumstances that absolutely break your heart.

   Zafón perfectly portrays a post-war world. There is tremendous chaos and people have seen or done some deplorable things. It may have permanently altered others; while  some characters demonstrate considerable resiliency. I feel like a great example of this would be Fermin’s character. He is definitely a shining light in this dark tale. He tries to find humor where he can despite his circumstances. War leaves no one untouched though. There will always be shadows left behind.

Review – Daughter of Smoke and Bone

 

 

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Title: Daughter of Smoke and Bone

Author: Laini Taylor

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Rating: 4/5

Links: Goodreads Amazon

 

   Daughter of Smoke and Bone was a phenomenal read. Laini Taylor created a fascinating world and heart-breaking characters. Her prose was elegant and infused with beautiful vocabulary. She developed enchanting imagery with her character descriptions and you could feel the emotionality of her characters.

 

   Karou is our main character. She is an artist who lives in the human world, but her sketches of creatures and other worldly things just might be real. Even she seems to have unique qualities like growing blue hair, she can speak several languages, and she disappears for days at a time only to turn up again beaten and bruised. Strange things start happening in her other world. There is this guy, Akiva, they seem destined to be enemies; however, there is a strong pull that neither of them can explain.

 

   We follow Karou on this journey of self discovery.  This books has major themes of discrimination, stereotyping, and prejudice; which, have led to an all encompassing war that has been ongoing for as long as anyone can remember. Karou means hope. Is there any hope for these characters locked into the societal norm or can they break the mold? I can’t wait to follow the rest of this story.

 

   “Hope can be a powerful force. Maybe there’s no actual magic in it, but when you know what you hope for most and hold it like a light within you, you can make things happen, almost like magic.”

Review – Daughter of the Pirate King

 

 

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Title: Daughter of the Pirate King

Author: Tricia Levenseller

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Rating: 3/5

Links: Goodreads Amazon

 

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller was an enjoyable read. I was able to surmise our main character’s secret, but that did not ruin my reading experience.

 

Our main character, Alosa, is the daughter of the Pirate King. She is the only person he relies on or puts his trust in. He convinces her to have herself captured by a rival band of pirates in order to obtain the missing pieces to an elusive treasure map. She possesses many skills that make her a strong female character. She is physically strong, agile, skilled in combat, clever, self-assured and is a well-respected leader. She puts her crew before herself. With her being a female captain, she has also decided to have a crew made up of many strong, capable women.

 

The characters can be a bit frustrating with the whole will they won’t they thing, but it’s not a deal breaker. I don’t think I’ve read a book based on pirating which definitely made for a refreshing read. While she is aboard the pirate ship with her captures; she is forced to spend a great deal of time with the first-mate, Riden. This book is not subtle about the hate/love relationship that they have for each other, but I still find myself anxiously awaiting for the time that they finally confess their true feelings. I do greatly enjoy the romance portions of books and that may not be your thing.

 

This plot moves smoothly and the characters are well developed. There is a lot of girl power in this story and if you enjoy that and this genre then you will like this book.

Where the Crawdads Sing Review

 

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Book: Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Rating: 5/5

 

Delia Owens created a beautiful, breathtaking debut novel.  This is one of the most wonderfully crafted mysteries I’ve ever read. Meet Kya, also referred to as the Marsh Girl. You are brought alongside Kya as she grows from a young, timid, little girl into a woman shadowed by prejudice and hardship. This book flashes back and forth from past to present time setting. In this small North Carolina town, one of its other well known residents, Chase Andrews is found dead. Delia developed magnificent character foils. Where Kya is known for being the poor outcast; Chase is the star quarterback whose family is well off and has a prominent business within the community.

This book explores prejudice, racism, love, loss, and the human condition. Reading this story was an extremely visceral experience. I could feel the magnitude of Kya’s isolation. These characters are very well developed and the plot flows expertly.

The Invisible Library Review

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Book: The Invisible Library

Author: Genevieve Cogman

Rating: 4/5

      Genevieve Cogman’s The Invisible Library is a fun, whimsical story following a librarian on a mission to collect books from different realities. The librarian, Irene, is given her first apprentice Kai. We follow them into this other world on a quest to retrieve a specific book for the library. They have to deal with several obstacles and they end up playing detective in order to find what they are looking for. This book is fast paced and I couldn’t put it down. I haven’t read anything quite like this, so it was refreshing to read something that hasn’t been overdone. Cogman’s influences shine in this novel. Her love for books really brings the story to life. This is a great read about a character that also enjoys the reading life. It feels very meta. Cogman makes many references to beloved characters and authors, such as Sherlock Holmes. This one will make your literary heart happy.

This Is How It Always Is

If you haven’t read This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel then I highly suggest you run to the nearest library or bookstore. This story is about a family and their struggles with feeling unaccepted because they are different. Rosie and Penn meet, fall in love, and build a family together. They have 5 boys (they kept trying for a girl) and their youngest son Claude likes to wear dresses and wants to be a girl. They struggle with how to deal with everyone’s opinions and reactions to their family. They are open, loving, and completely supportive of whatever makes Claude happy. The real struggles stem from how everyone else will treat Claude. Within their story there is a deeper story that could help foster conversations about this topic and hopefully lead to some greater understanding in the community.

 

This book is doing great things. You truly feel the love this family has for one another. It really makes you question why we have to make it so much harder for the people around us. Why is it so hard to accept everyone for who they are even if it’s outside the boundaries of what you consider normal? Why does that threaten someone else? The beauty in the world comes from our differences. I went through so much heartache right alongside this family. It makes you realize we all have differences and struggles and we need to be more compassionate and more understanding. I sincerely hope you check this out. This book grew a little bit out of Frankel’s family being able to relate to her characters. It’s not based on her family’s story specifically, but she certainly drew a lot of inspiration from elements they can relate to.