Book Review

Book Review: Beartown (Beartown #1) by Fredrik Backman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fiction + Sports
Length: 432 pages
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: April 25th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

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.

AN IMPORTANT NOVEL.

This left me awestruck. What an amazing and poignant story that brought to life so many things wrong with our culture.

I connected a lot with the life emphasis on hockey. As someone who knows the depths of Southern football, it can rule your life. The pressure to win, be the best, and always do right can be intensely overwhelming. These boys are under way too much stress from parents and other adults who care a bit too much about hockey.

Because I swear, if I heard one more character mention “putting the club before anything else.” I was going to through my Kindle through a window. HOW DARE THEY. Oh I was so angry. Which I’m sure was the intention, which is also why I loved this book so much. I felt so many feelings and reevaluations run through my mind.

As a parent I feel like the story itself hit me on an even more emotional level. I can’t even began to fathom this happening and knowing what to do about it. The strength and courage that some of these characters exhibited in a horrid and disgusting situation was stirring.

I could not put this book down. The rotation of the point of views throughout the story allowed an insight into so many character minds and rounded out the effects this type of story has on an entire town. Each character responded uniquely and while I didn’t love some responses I appreciated the importance of seeing all sides.

Note: contains strong subject manner that is detailed and hard to read, please read at your own discretion

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary fiction + sports
  • Language: a lot of strong language (one of the only things I would change)
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: physical & verbal assaults – see Trigger warnings for more details
  • Trigger warnings: aggravated rape, teenage drug & alcohol use, off & on screen domestic abuse, sexual harassment, suicide, suicide ideation, depression, homophobia

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Book Review

Book Review: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fiction
Length: 368 pages
Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Everyone knows Daisy Jones & The Six, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock and roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.

ACHINGLY CAPTIVATING.

First off, listen to this as an audiobook if possible. It was so cool having so many voices. It really brought everything to life. I felt like I was listening to one of those MTV Behind the Music shows about some band. It made it a really quick listen (it’s only 9 1/2ish hours, not sped up).

The only thing iffy about listening to it fast, and on audio is sometimes it would get choppy switching to character after character. It wasn’t every single page, but I did notice it occasionally.

This was super addicting. I didn’t know how I was going to feel about it when I started, but dang, I couldn’t stop listening. It truly was a lot of sex drugs, and rock n’ roll. Holy cow. I was shocked by all of the things that this band did and went through. And yet, it was even more shocking, because these kind of things probably happened at a time or another with bands.

I honestly hated every character at one point, and loved them at others. I loved how at odds I was with each person’s choices, but how I wanted them to be happy and fulfilled anyways. I was happy to understand decisions and have true endings to everyone so I could feel like the story had closed.

At times I was so distraught with the emotions brought out by the story line. I anxiously awaited what tore this band apart, and y’all, it was exactly what this story needed. The little twist made sense and really hit home the struggles that can occur in these situations.

Reese Witherspoon is amazing at choosing books for her club, I yet again really enjoyed reading another one of her picks.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fiction
  • Language: a lot of strong language
  • Romance: a lot of sex, but not detailed; more, they had sex over there, they did that last night kind of explanations
  • Violence: underage drinking, drug abuse, parental neglect
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse, drug and alcohol addictions, abortion, depression

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Book Review

Book Review: The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Contemporary New Adult Romance
Length: 388 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

THIS. WAS. STELLAR.

Tear-shedding (yes, one scene totally had me shedding a few tears), heart-stopping, and utterly devastating, this book took me to some high highs and some low lows. I’m still speechless thinking about it.

I started off really not loving Calla. She was materialistic, vain, selfish and more. I dearly hoped she would have a turn around in this book, and I’m so happy she did. Calla became more lovable as a character to me and all I wanted to do was give her a hug. She went through a lot in 400 pages.

The story itself, focusing a lot on her Dad left me crying y’all. I know I already mentioned it, BUT IT HAD TO BE SAID AGAIN. I don’t generally cry reading. Granted, it was 2 AM so being really tired probably contributed, but still. There was one scene in there that I *can’t* handle. I loved watched Wren and Calla figure out each other and actually open up. There wasn’t heavy drama between them. It really focused on remembering how important family is and soaking up any time you get to have them. The awkward first encounters turned into deep conversations where they had a chance to know about each other’s lives.

Now, we know I have to talk about the romance. OHEMGEE. Jonah. My rugged space cowboy Jonah. I was totally impressed with how this was done. There was so much angst I could barely stand it. It was amazing. Fantastic banter that left me chuckling (and a few good pranks that made me squeal). Sweet, loving moments where all the emotions came out. All of it. Tucker turned the span of a few weeks into this magical romance that makes me so happy I picked this book up.

While I still don’t want to fly on tiny planes. This book also gave me major wanderlust. I wanted to be in Alaska. Seeing these gorgeous sites in my mind wasn’t doing it justice. The beautiful writing made it feel like I was really in this small towns and rugged landscapes.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a mildly detailed love scene and others more glossed over
  • Violence: plane crash
  • Trigger warnings: divorce, terminal illness (cancer), loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fiction/Sci-fi
Length: 303 pages
Author: Karen Thompson Walker
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: January 15th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a freshman girl stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics who carry her away, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. Then a second girl falls asleep, and then another, and panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. As the number of cases multiplies, classes are canceled, and stores begin to run out of supplies. A quarantine is established. The National Guard is summoned. 

Mei, an outsider in the cliquish hierarchy of dorm life, finds herself thrust together with an eccentric, idealistic classmate. Two visiting professors try to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. A father succumbs to the illness, leaving his daughters to fend for themselves. And at the hospital, a new life grows within a college girl, unbeknownst to her—even as she sleeps. A psychiatrist, summoned from Los Angeles, attempts to make sense of the illness as it spreads through the town. Those infected are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, more than has ever been recorded. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?

TOO THOUGHT-PROVOKING.

I never thought I’d say this about a book, but my head hurt after reading this. I’ve sat on this review for a bit because I was gathering my thoughts.

This book actually spooked me out a bit (note: easily spooked). I started thinking about what would it be like if this actually happened and started spiraling. Seriously, how scary?! Especially when they kept going back to the family with the baby. My intense Momma Bear voice was raging in my head trying to protect them.

I also felt sad reading this. A feeling I generally don’t like to find when reading (unless purposely chosen or previously known beforehand). A lot of this was making my heart hurt. Watching one character drop after another. Having to deal with being quarantined. Some never waking, really hard-hitting stuff.

Everything was too philosophical. One of the characters even offered up those philosophical puzzles that make you run around in circles. It was a battle of who to save, who was worth it, and I didn’t want to make those decisions! This isn’t as light as it may seem, even when it’s only 300 pages.

I was bummed with the resolution. It wasn’t anything spectacular. Things were all of sudden solved. I think that was supposed to be the mystery of the entire illness itself, but it left me wanting more. I personally like endings where I feel all loose ends are tied up and I’m not asking too many questions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction/Sci-fi
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a kiss, a vaguely implied night together
  • Trigger warning: suicide

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Book Review

Book Review: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Mystery/Fiction
Length: 449 pages
Author: Stuart Turton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The Rules of Blackheath:

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. 
There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. 
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. 
Understood? Then let’s begin…

Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…

The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.

WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH THE FOOTMAN.

Okay. I liked this book.

But I’m going to start this out with saying I can not figure out what in the world was happening with the footman. He was there, doing all of these things, but had no context. Never learned his name, anything about him, NOTHING. I literally knew he was hired by another character and that was it. I know he’s a side character, but he was so frequently involved (and in the mind of the main character) that I really wanted some back story. I think I was supposed to hate him, but I became so indifferent from lack of information.

Now, momentarily, back to things I did like.

Y’all, this book is trippy. I am SO impressed with the way the author kept up with the timeline and all of guests at Blackheath. I was surprised at how easily I kept up and things made sense. Serious kudos for keeping things straight.

What also impressed me was that I didn’t figure out the final twist! I had surmised most of the story, but then things started breaking down even more and that last reveal moment had me like WHOA. There was never a lot of fingers pointed at one person so it made it difficult to nail down who I thought was the murderer. I honestly can’t believe that many people died. Totally insane.

Okay, back to the last frustrating bit I had.

There was no background to Blackheath itself. When the “boss” (trying to remain spoiler-free and as vague as I can) showed up and gave the narrator the low-down, it left me hanging. Who came up with this idea? How does this idea work? Is there magic involved? Also, WHAT TIME PERIOD ARE WE IN?

Unfortunately, I was left with more questions than answers which is why I had to knock off a few stars.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction/mystery (thriller? maybe a little)
  • Language: The use of b*tch was used once
  • Romance: kiss, a very little detailed morning after scene
  • Violence: guns, knives, physical beatings, poison, murder (a lot of murder)
  • Trigger warnings: some implication that one of the hosts has raped/sexually assaulted multiple women

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Book Review

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Craw

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Adult fiction/historical, language, explicit content, trigger warnings
Length: 384 pages
Author: Delia Owens
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: August 14th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Fans of Barbara Kingsolver will love this stunning debut novel from a New York Times bestselling nature writer, about an unforgettable young woman determined to make her way in the wilds of North Carolina, and the two men that will break her isolation open.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark.

But Kya is not what they say. Abandoned at age ten, she has survived on her own in the marsh that she calls home. A born naturalist with just one day of school, she takes life lessons from the land, learning from the false signals of fireflies the real way of this world. But while she could have lived in solitude forever, the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. Drawn to two young men from town, who are each intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new and startling world–until the unthinkable happens.

In Where the Crawdads Sing, Owens juxtaposes an exquisite ode to the natural world against a heartbreaking coming of age story and a surprising murder investigation. Thought-provoking, wise, and deeply moving, Owens’s debut novel reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

ODE TO MARSH GIRL.

I follow Reese Witherspoon’s book club (Hello Sunshine) and occasionally I’ll read whatever she’s picked for the month if it sounds appealing, and I’m so happy I did!

Kya was such a strong, independent, and tough. Because WHO ABANDONS A 10 YEAR OLD? My heart was crumbling watching her youth be shattered by callous individuals. In her entire life, Jumpin’ remained her only steadfast friend. Family and “friends” flowed in and out like the marsh, as was convenient for them. She spends most of the book reverting back to this childlike state thinking her Ma is eventually coming home. The shame and anguish she feels forces a lot of anxiety and anger to bubble up. Even when she says she’s perfectly fine being alone.

This coming of age story really resounded when she met her first love, Tate. He’s such a sweetheart and their first official meeting with the feathers was precious. And while he made some mistakes with Kya (I may have said “what a jerk” a time or two), his sould always knew where home was.

Chase on the other hand could have been dropped from that fire tower and it still wouldn’t be enough. It was hard, hard to get through this section. Kya is naive in thoughts of love and intimacy and is taken advantage of in the worst ways.

The chapters with the Sheriff and Doctor as the POV were a bit silly. The dialogue wasn’t strong enough. They just flitted in and out til the official trial.

There’s a lot of poetry in here that strongly pertains to the story. The final poem especially had me. This mystery is finally solved. It was a twist for me and hopefully it’ll be for you!

Overall audience notes:
– Adult historical fiction, mystery and romance
– Language
– Detailed sexual scenes
– Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault/attempted rape
– Some violence