I received Beartown in exchange for an honest review
Backman’s huge hit A Man Called Ove didn’t blow me away and I’m not really a sports fan, so initially I wasn’t sure about tackling this hockey-focused story. But after seeing so much hype, I went for it. And I’m glad I did. This refreshing, emotional read was a huge change of pace for this author tackling some meaty topics, but in my opinion he’s completely pulled it off.
Beartown is a small, somewhat isolated town in the Swedish forest. It’s got little going it for, except for hockey. And the town is literally obsessed with the sport; they sleep, eat and breathe it – it’s their only chance to become more than they are; to put Beartown on the map.
“Sometimes the entire community feels like a philosophical experiment; if a town falls in the forest but no one hears it, does it matter at all?”
In the first part of the novel Backman takes his time setting the scene; I could almost feel the ice cold temperatures, and the claustrophobic single-mindedness of the secluded town with one shared goal. The author introduces a whole host of characters, from the club coach, manager and president to the parents and the children who dedicate most of their lives to succeeding at the sport. It was a little difficult to keep up to start with, but the author takes his time laying the foundations introducing the town and a whole host of residents and the passion they all share. There’s one thing that underpins this community: hockey – like it or not, they all have it in common, but they all carry their own secrets and differences too.
I finished this book around lunchtime, and by the evening I was actually missing the story and it’s characters. It’s a gorgeous little gem of a book – I wasn’t expecting it, and now I have no idea why it took me so long to try this author.
In a run-down street just out of the city, in the 1980s, there’s a music shop. It’s a place where you can come when life gets too much and the shop’s owner, Frank, will find you a piece of music to help. Music is more than just music in this shop, it’s something which connects people, which lifts them up and takes away their worries – even just for the length of one song, they can escape. Frank is the man who makes it happen.
The owner, Frank, is happy with his lot – he has a little community on Unity Street where he lives and works, he’s passionate about music and enjoys sharing it with others. He’s stubborn and set in his ways, and that’s enough for him, until a foreign woman who claims she doesn’t even like music faints outside of his shop, and everything starts to change. Continue reading
It’s the first time this year I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday – and the first since it moved over to That Artsy Reader Girl! I’m excited to be back and loving the new logo. This week’s theme is definitely one I can relate to – my TBR list seems never ending, so I’m joining in to look back on some of those poor neglected books that have been on the list the longest. Continue reading
I received The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock in exchange for an honest review
I read a lot of debuts; it’s always a risk – but I love finding those hidden gems when they’re still relatively undiscovered. This book was promoted as Vintage’s debut of the year and, whilst I hadn’t heard much about it from my fellow reviewers, I was drawn in by the gorgeous cover and the promise of mermaids, and went for it.
I would love to fall in love with every book I read, but unfortunately this one wasn’t really for me. It had a lot of promise – combining history, romance and magical realism, this book should work for me, yet I found myself struggling through the slow, meandering plot about characters who I just couldn’t care for. Continue reading
I received Genuine Fraud in exchange for an honest review
I loved E Lockhart’s We Were Liars, it felt unique, both the writing style and the plot itself, so I was keen to read the author’s latest novel. Genuine Fraud is less original – the writer admits in the introduction that it draws inspiration from other novels, particularly The Talented Mr Ripley. It was a fast-paced, entertaining novel but lacked some depth and character development. There’s not really enough length for me to feel truly invested in the characters, and none of them were really likeable – although I think this was intentional.
Lockhart does tell the story well; starting in 2017 we meet Jule. 18 years old and staying in a luxury hotel Mexico alone, it’s clear she’s running from something. She has a selection of wigs and identities which she changes at whim, and when she suspects her cover has been blown, she quickly makes a run for it. The story unfolds backwards from there. Continue reading
I received The Toymakers in exchange for an honest review
I read this novel over Christmas, and it was the last book I read last year. It was the perfect finish to my 2017 reading; not quite what I expected, but something even better.
The cover and blurb for The Toymakers alludes to it being a heart-warming, whimsical Christmas tale. I expected something light-hearted, and I got that in places but a lot more as well. Don’t be fooled by the cute, festive cover – this book has hidden depths.
“Are you lost? Are you afraid? Are you a child at heart? So are we.”
Teenager Cathy is pregnant and scared. She wants to escape the control of her parents and, when she sees this advert in the newspaper, she sees an opportunity to do so. She embarks on a journey to London, to Papa Jack’s Emporium. Continue reading
I received The Child Finder in exchange for an honest review
This was a surprise gem of a book. At first glance, I took it for a regular missing child mystery – a plot which has been covered many times – and I nearly passed it up. I’m so glad I didn’t because this is an elegant, atmospheric novel which tells a fairly unoriginal story in a unique, creative way.
Set in the heart of an Oregon forest, where it seems to always always be snowing, this is a beautifully atmospheric tale – you can almost see the snow topped mountains and feel the bitter cold. Denfeld makes the missing child story her own, bringing her setting and characters to life with rich, almost lyrical prose, interweaving fairy tales and magical realism with dark reality. Continue reading
Happy new year, folks! I hope you all had a great one. I can’t believe it’s my third year of doing a yearly wrap-up on this log – seriously, where does the time go?! I’ve got pretty busy this year and unfortunately my blog and my reading have been neglected – I set myself a challenge of 55 books this year and only got through 40, my lowest yet. But I did read some good ones, and I enjoy looking back at them, so here goes my top ten for 2017… (covers link to Goodreads or my review) Continue reading
There’s been countless takes on Conan Doyle’s famous detective over the years but, as far as I’m aware, this is the only series that was officially sanctioned by the Estate. And I’m so pleased it was Horowitz that was given that honour, as I loved his take on Sherlock Holmes.
The plot itself opens in typical Holmes style, with a frazzled client turning up at 221B Baker Street. I found the section a little slow, as personally I didn’t really enjoy this story; ‘The Man With the Flat Cap’. If you’re feeling the same as I did, hang on, – there’s a much deeper, darker mystery here still to be explored; The House Of Silk.
The House Of Silk is a great modern take on the classic series; it retains the atmosphere of the era and captures the characters wonderfully, but eliminates some of the more archaic language and views which (I’m sorry to admit) held me back from completing loving the original books. Continue reading
I received Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore in exchange for an honest review
This was a wonderful, quirky surprise, quite unlike anything else I’ve read this year. A twisty mystery thriller, packed with eccentric characters, bookish references and hidden secrets.
The Bright Ideas Bookstore has its regulars, those bookseller Lydia has affectionately named ‘Book Frogs’. Mainly men, the Book Frogs are lost and lonely, those who’ve slipped through the cracks of society and finding a peaceful refuge in the store. And they seem harmless, until Lydia finds one of them hanging from the ceiling, with an old photograph of her tenth birthday party in his pocket.
Joey was a little different, but Lydia liked having him around the store. “He was a shattered young man, Lydia often thought, haunted but harmless – a dust bunny blowing through the corners of the store.” His death shakes Lydia, but she’s drawn in deeper when she finds out he’s left the entire contents of his flat to her, including a stack of books with hidden messages which leads her on a journey into her own past. Continue reading