Finished Books: Beartown

Beartown by Fredrik Backman31445590

  • Published: 2017
  • Pages: 336

Link to Goodreads summary

Going into reading this book, I had read A Man Called Ove and had started Britt-Marie was Here.  Both books were full of quirky characters and were darkly humorous.  I knew immediately when I started Beartown that it was not like those two, and I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not.

I loved it.  I cannot emphasize enough how much it stuck with me and made me think.  Backman uses simple yet beautiful language to draw a town and fill it with color and shading and details that tug at your heartstrings.

In the book, there was an event that occurred that polarized the hockey-loving Swedish town.  It brought together people who had nothing else in common and it drew friends and families apart.  I live in a small town and I can imagine a similar event would have the exact same effect in this town.

There are a lot of characters in this book.  Just like how everyone involved with a hockey team has a role, everyone in the book had a role to play.  Backman writes intricate characters who have complicated motivations for their actions (or non-actions).  He examines human nature by illustrating moral ambiguities in his characters’ lives.

There are not many books to which I give 5-stars, or that I want to re-read (how would I ever get to all the other books?!), but I will most certainly be purchasing a copy of this book and re-reading it over the years.

Rating: 5 stars

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.*

Finished Books: Quick Recap

Ah, those times when life gets in the way and all you want to do is curl up with a comforting book rather than write any reviews about them.  Does that only happen to me?  Oh, well.

Here are a few quick reviews of some of the books I have finished recently (if by recently you accept anytime within the past month).  They are very brief reviews that will mainly give you a quick view of some appeal factors that might help you determine if this book is right for a certain reader.

Books Quick Review #1


Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough

  • Published: 2017
  • Pages: 306

Link to Goodreads summary

A domestic suspense novel with unreliable narrators.  Told from multiple points of view in two different time periods (one is the past version of one of the main characters).  Reader will need to be able to suspend disbelief for some elements of this story, particularly in the end.


The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin

  • Published: 2015
  • Pages: 500
  • Audio length: ~15 ½ hours
  • Narrator: Robin Miles
  • Series: The Broken Earth #1

Link to Goodreads summary

A genre-blending novel that walks the line between fantasy and science fiction.  Follows plotlines for multiple characters.  The world-building is slow and develops over the course of the entire book, leaving the reader confused at times due to unfamiliarity with the mechanics of the world.  Good narration; nice to listen to the names and places rather than struggling to determine pronunciation for the written words.


Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner

  • Published: 2001
  • Pages: (376)
  • Audio: 5 hours, 45 minutes (Abridged)
  • Narrator: Paula Cale
  • Series: Cannie Shapiro #1

Link to Goodreads summary

A nice, light book that explores themes beyond the main character solely searching for the love of her life.  The audio book had a narrator who paced the narration well with the character’s emotions.  There wasn’t a lot of difference between the narrator’s characters, but overall it was easy to determine who was speaking.


Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

  • Published: 2014
  • Pages: 324
  • Audio: 8 hours, 43 minutes
  • Narrator: Kristen Bell
  • Series: Veronica Mars #1

Link to Goodreads summary

With Kristen Bell as the narrator, this audiobook felt just like an episode of Veronica Mars.  Bell created distinct characters in her narration, using accents as necessary to portray different people.  The book seemed like it would work well even for a reader who was not familiar with the television show.  However, there were references to plotlines from the show and the movie that would help delineate distinctive aspects of the characters in their current roles.  This book is great for fans of private investigator procedural books with snarky dialogue.


Britt-Marie was Here by Fredrik Backman

  • Published: 2014
  • Pages: 498 (Large Print)

Link to Goodreads summary

Another fantastic character-driven book full of eccentric, quirky characters.  An adult coming-of-age story.  Open-ended and hopeful.  Backman really writes stories about real people with real struggles and makes you want their stories to continue far beyond the scope of his novels.


That’s all, folks!  Happy reading!


Edited to add: You can see how on top of things I am since I included a review of an audiobook I have already reviewed on this blog.

Finished Books: Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line

Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham

  • Published: 2014
  • Pages: 324
  • Audio: 8 hours, 43 minutes

Link to Goodreads summary

Title details for Veronica Mars by Rob Thomas - Wait listWith Kristen Bell as the narrator, this audiobook felt just like an episode of Veronica Mars.  Bell created distinct characters in her narration, using accents as necessary to portray different people.  The book seemed like it would work well even for a reader who was not familiar with the television show.  However, there were references to plotlines from the show and the movie that would help delineate distinctive aspects of the characters in their current roles.  This book is great for fans of private investigator procedural books with snarky dialogue.

 

 

Rating: 3 stars

Finished Books: Heartstone

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White

  • Published: 2017
  • Pages: 352

Link to Goodreads summary

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Advertised as Pride and Prejudice with dragons, I felt I needed to read this book.  I am not a purist, nor have I read all of Jane Austen’s works, but as a late-comer to her stories (I only read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago), I feel being older really helped me understand and enjoy P&P with the wisdom that comes with a little bit of age.

With a playful nod to Jane Austen, White interweaves unmistakeable elements from the original into a fantasy world on the brink of war with giant monsters.  Many fundamental details remain intact, so fans of the original will follow along merrily, knowing approximately what is going to happen.  Yet there are enough differences that set the world apart (dragons, anyone?), that readers who have never read the original will feel drawn into the realm that White creates.

Rating: 3 stars

 

Finished Books: A Man Called Ove

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

  • Published: 2012 (Large Print published 2015)
  • Pages: 477 (Large Print version)

Link to Goodreads summary

22779179This enthralling novel had me from the first page.  An old curmudgeon, Ove, was berating the employees while trying to purchase a computer.  It wasn’t the scene that absorbed me, though.  It was the language the author used.  Fredrik Backman has a knack for picking out a character’s idiosyncrasies and turning a phrase around it which consistently strikes my funny bone.  From Ove to Parvaneh & Patrick to Anita & Rune and all the others, Backman created quirky characters whose lives will warm your heart.  This introduction to the Swedish author makes me want to read everything else he has written.

Rating: 4 stars

 

Finished Books: Let Me Die in His Footsteps

Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy

  • Published: 2015
  • Pages: 327

Link to Goodreads summary

23398925I will admit to not having read enough mystery novels that were not part of a series.  I’m familiar with police procedurals, cozy mysteries, amateur detectives, and many of the typical tropes associated with the mystery genre in general.  Those books were all part of my comfort reads until recently.  So when I read Let Me Die in His Footsteps, the winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel in 2016, I was perplexed.  Primarily by my own ignorance.  Why haven’t I read more stand-alone mystery novels?

The plot unfolded gradually, much like a slow summer afternoon in Kentucky, the setting of our story.  Roy’s descriptions of the atmosphere evoked images of dusty roads and hazy skies.  Switching back and forth a generation in time, the story emerges from Sarah’s and Annie’s narrations.  The reader finds out the intricacies of the relationships between characters through the eyes of those two girls: their sisters, their families, their friends, their neighbors, and the townsfolk.

While I wasn’t on the edge of my seat, gripped with terror or filled with suspense as the story climaxed, curiosity about the accuracy of my hunches kept me reading, wanting to find out how it ended.  Readers who like a deliberately paced story, and don’t mind shifting time frames, will enjoy discovering the family and neighbor dynamics of this sleepy Kentucky town.  Not solely for mystery fans, but perfect for fans of general fiction as well.

Rating: 3 stars

 

Finished Books: Ginny Moon

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

  • Published: 2017
  • Pages: 362 (e-ARC)

33664768Link to Goodreads summary

Ginny Moon is an unconventional main character, to say the least.  She is a girl with autism who has recently been adopted into her Forever Home, but she cannot stop trying to get back to her Baby Doll to make sure she is okay.  She schemes to find ways to contact and reconnect with her abusive birth mother, Gloria, by lying to and deceiving those who care about her.  Her actions frighten her Forever parents, causing tension in her home environment and making her feel like she doesn’t belong anywhere.

Ginny’s exceptional way of narrating her own story will keep readers captivated.  She tells things like it is, or how it is to her, which is probably not how it is to the majority of us.  She draws the reader deep into her mind with her, explaining her reasoning (she keeps her mouth shut so that she doesn’t tell any lies; she can’t answer someone if they ask more than one question at a time).  Readers will cheer when she stands up for herself and cringe when she unintentionally sabotages her plans.  She is curious and caring, cautious and clever.  A unique story told through the eyes of a young girl trying to navigate life with a new family while being drawn back to her old family.

Rating: 4 stars

*I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher. A positive review was not required.*