Posted in Book Review

Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

“People don’t have useful things anymore.  People just have shit.” ~ Ove (in Fredrik Backman’s book A Man Called Ove)

Life is a roller coaster full of twists, turns, and loop-de-loops.  This is a much delayed book review on the Books & Broad’s Book Club choice for JULY!  As many of you have read, Dear Bloggites, my Paternal Half of the Parental Unit (Dad) is dying of Cancer.  A few weeks ago, he suffered a stroke that rendered him incapacitated on his right side of his body and a crooked smile like my beloved pup who I had to put down almost a year ago.

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik BackmanAs you have all guessed, I did not get to finish this book, but I did learn quickly within the first few paragraphs that Ove is my Dad.  My Dad is Ove!  The July book club choice was A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  This is Fredrik Backman’s first novel and it is a winner!  From the first utterance from Ove asking if the tablet in his hand was an “O-Pad”, I was hooked and laughing and crying and just giggling my head off.

The talent of the author, Fredrik Backman, with infusing the different characters with such quirky traits while keeping the storyline on target was amazing to me.  The author is a Swedish writer and so the novel was translated into English.  Many books that are translated tend to lose the impact or purpose the author is trying to convey throughout the novel.  This did not happen with this book.  The translation was on point and the reader understood the purpose of the storyline.

A Man Called Ove is story about an old, grumpy man with many quirks that are off-putting to all he comes in contact with throughout his life.  The entire story, Ove unsuccessfully tries to kill himself because there are certain things that must be made right before he goes to see his wife or else he will have hell to pay once he is dead.

Sounds like it is a sad story, huh, Dear Bloggites?  It is not.  From the moment Ove’s new neighbors move across the street, he is constantly being interrupted during his quest to kill himself.  Add a stray cat into the mix, and you have the makings of a great storyline.

All the characters were developed and complex.  Everyone had a backstory that you learned about throughout the book but did not break the streamline effect of the overall story.  The descriptions given in the story from Ove’s point of view, allowed the reader to truly feel as if they were standing right next to Ove witnessing the silliness or stupidity of the world around him.  Unexpected friendships, new purpose in life, and a life worth living in the end makes this an amazing book for any reader of any age.

I give A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  To steal a phrase from the books description, “Ove is all you need.”

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This month’s Books & Broads Book Club novel was Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.  I must preface that I really was not excited about reading this book due to the content of the storyline – Suicide.  I am a glass is half full kinda gal and I believe there is nothing so horrible in your life that would justify taking your own life, Dear Bloggites.

That being said, I do understand what would bring a person to that point in life.  I have been there when I was younger and I was there when I had my car accident in 1995.  I do believe everyone has a right to die on their terms if they are suffering from a terminal situation, however, it really should be a last resort type of decision and not a spur of the moment one.

Me Before You by Jojo MoyesThe novel, Me Before You by Jojo Moyes, is about a man, Will Traynor, who was a hard-core outdoor man who found himself a quadriplegic after a freak accident.  Due to the situation Will finds himself in, he decides to end his life by assisted suicide.  His parents begrudgingly agree but request he wait six months.  Enter in Louisa Clark.  Louisa is a woman who does not know what she wants out of life and the demands of family and responsibility put her under a lot of pressure.  Louisa agrees to take a six month job as a home aide helper for Will.

The storyline hits home to me on many points with the different situations each character faces due to current personal situations I am having to deal with in my life right now with my Parental Units.  The author, Jojo Moyes, did a wonderful job at creating true to form characters that the reader instantly connects with them.  We have all felt a struggle in our lives that at least one character is dealing with that the reader finds themselves connecting on an emotional level throughout the story.

I consider this book a tragic love story because Louisa battles death for Will’s life.  During Louisa’s six month job, they fall in love, yet Will’s mind is made up and Louisa tries hard to change it by helping him learn that even though he is a quadriplegic, his life can still be lived and enjoyed.

The book is written in first person (which I do not like), but due to the content and the desired effect the author was going for, it works well in this format.  There were a couple of places where the author changed the format on the writing style that may throw the reader off and on one of these places, it seems the author forgot which character’s point of view she was writing about and wound up changing to the main character’s point of view.

All in all, I give Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure

Long time, no blog, Dear Bloggites.  Life loves to get in the way of my ability to blog.  ThisThe Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.jpg book review is very late and is over the novel my Books & Broads Book Club read in May.

The novel we read was The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure.  The storyline was about a down and out architect, Lucien Bernard, who accepted a commission to create a hiding place inside a home for Auguste Manet during the German invasion of Paris, France.  The hiding place was for Manet to hide any Jewish people the Germans were searching for in Paris.  One of the twists in the novel was that Lucien, through Manet, also received commissions from the Germans to build military style compounds for additional weapons to be stored or made during the war.  This commission brought about an interesting friendship that was built between Lucien and a German officer, Dieter Herzog, who also was a structural engineer for his home country of Germany.

Intrigue is an appropriate word I would use for the overall theme of the storyline.  Living the double life through Lucien and Manet helped the reader find themselves investing in the good guys winning in the end while wanting the bad guys to suffer for the injustices they doled out to any Jew or Parisian.  The different descriptions of the various architectural buildings was fascinating to me.  I love architecture and have always had an infatuation with how architects were able to construct the amazing buildings I see.  Charles Belfoure helped the reader delve into the mind of an architect through Lucien.

That being said, Lucien is not a very likable character and many of my Books & Broads Book Club Mates did not like him even at the end of the book.  I found him to be very weak and selfish at the beginning of the book.  He was the type of person who always put himself first over all others, however, by the end I did warm up to him when he finally found his true calling in life.

The author, Charles Belfoure, did a wonderful job with addressing the war-time era without taking away from the storyline.  I cringe each time I am to read a book that has any kind of war theme behind it because I find too many novels lose the storyline in the description of the war atmosphere.

The characters throughout The Paris Architect were well developed and gave the reader some kind of emotional response, be it hate, love, disgust, admiration, etc., the reader did form an opinion on each character.  The descriptions of Paris during the invasion was just enough to give a visual in the reader’s head but not so much that it overpowers the characters in the novel.

I did feel the author left some of the characters unfinished in the story, so much, that I felt they served no purpose in the book.  I understand the author was looking to give some kind of visual of the Jewish people and the suffering they went through, but I felt each character was an afterthought thus putting a bit of a bad taste in my mouth for the story.   Aside from this factor, I did enjoy the novel, The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure, and would consider reading additional novels by him.

I give The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Give it a whirl, Dear Bloggites, if you like to read about the challenges people faced during wartime.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa Lenhardt

Stillwater A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa LenhardtThis month’s Books & Broads Book Club novel to read was Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa Lenhardt.  I was very excited to read this book because it is written by a local author in the DFW area of Texas.  One of the book club members had the opportunity to speak with the author, Melissa Lenhardt, and she offered to join our book club this month to discuss the book in more detail.  If you happen to be in the DFW area on Friday, April 8th, come join us and meet the author at 11am at the Burleson Public Library.

Now, onto the review.  The book, Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa Lenhardt, was full of intrigue, mystery, drama, romance, and some humor.  I was pleasantly surprised that the book had so many facets to it as I read the novel.  The storyline is set in a small Texas town and follows the Chief of Police, Jack McBride.  A big city ex-FBI agent turned small town cop, Jack found his first day on the job dealing with a murder-homicide.

You may think I am giving away the whole storyline, but this is just the beginning.  Throughout the novel, the author managed to take a simple scene of interaction between two characters and create a new element of intrigue in the storyline.  All the characters were well-rounded and easy to like or dislike.

The flow of the story was smooth in transitioning from one scene to the next.  I found myself anticipating the next move by each character and amazed at the twist that move turned into.  There is some parts of the storyline that are predictable, such as how Jack’s son, Ethan, would react or respond in his teen-angst mindset, but it did not take away from the overall experience of reading the book.

You have your typical arch-enemy storyline between the new and former chief of police, but it had a new flavor to it.  The “bad guy” was a very likeable person to all the residents of Stillwater and as the information unfolds you start seeing the tarnish on the shiny image of the former police chief and residents of Stillwater, Texas.

The only fault I would find with the book was how it ended.  The ending was on a cliffhanger (this is the first book in a series) that left the reader a bit put out.  I personally love cliffhangers, but many do not care for them.  I think the author could have concluded the storyline with the same effect without the cliffhanger and still give the full impact she was wanting to give.

I give Stillwater: A Jack McBride Mystery by Melissa Lenhardt 5 out of 5 Bookmarks.  Go out and grab yourself a copy.  For those who do not like cliffhangers, don’t fret, she has the second book in the series scheduled to be released later in the year.  Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

“People were strange like that.  They could be completely uninterested in you, but the moment you picked up a book, you were the one being rude.” ~Sara (in Katarina Bivald’s book The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend)

Hello, Dear Bloggites.  Long time since I wrote a book review and how I The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivaldhave missed it!  Life seems to thrive on getting in my way when it comes to my reading and blogging…LOL

The Books & Broads Book Club voted on reading a book I recommended (my first).  The March book club book was The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald.  This is a debut novel written by a Swedish author, so it was interesting to read a book that was translated into English.

The storyline in The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend is about a shy, book nerd from Sweden named Sara, who decides to go visit her American pen pal, Amy, in Broken Wheel, Iowa.

When Sara arrives in town she finds that her long time pen pal has died and the day of her arrival was the day of Amy’s funeral.  This is the beginning of a fun, entertaining story about a person trying to find their way in a new country and a town full of quirky residents at best.

I loved this book, Dear Bloggites!  From the very first line in chapter one (“The strange woman standing on Hope’s main street was so ordinary it was almost scandalous”) to the very last line written, I found interesting tidbit phrases that the author, Katarina Bivald, used to describe the people or places and characters that I can see myself in throughout the storyline.

Throughout the story you watch Sara grow from a timid, unsure girl into a confident, outspoken woman.  Sara’s evolution in the book is due to the different people she interacts with in the town and her strong bond she built with Amy over the years as a pen pal.

Katarina Bivald did a wonderful job making Amy known even though she was dead from the different letters written by Amy to Sara that were placed before each new chapter.  A rather ingenious idea, if you ask me.  I cannot remember a time when I was able to truly get to know a character in a story so well when they are dead.  Most of the books I have read usually only share different aspects of a character through flashbacks of a living character in the book.  The way Amy was written in this storyline, you would believe her alive and well and not dead and buried.

Even though the characters were colorful, they were rather predictable as most small town characters go.  You have your rebel, single-parent struggler, moody bachelor, town drunk now sober, judgmental spinster, and so on.  However, even though the character types were typical, the author did a good job adding a slight twist to each of them.

One of the things the book club ladies felt about the book was that the author seemed to throw in every type of controversial personality in the story.  Some of the topics seemed forced on the characters by the author instead of letting the characters flow naturally.

The ending was also predictable as you are reading the book, but it was a fun predictable instead of a typical predictable.  The story overall was fun and light-hearted and was centered on books (which I love) and a foreigner finding her way in small town U.S.A.

I give The Readers Of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald 5 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Go find a copy and enjoy a fun, light-hearted read.

~4-Ever, P

 

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel

“(Let me) Be as a whetstone for others to be sharpened upon” (Latin-fungar vice cotis) ~Anonymous

This book review is on the Books & Broads Book Club February book, Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel.

Flame Tree Road by Shona PatelIntellectual dishonesty, I despise intellectual dishonest, and that is what I felt this author wrote: an intellectually dishonest book.  Intellectual dishonesty is when someone fails to apply standards of rational evaluation that one is aware of, usually in a self-serving fashion.  Reading this book, I felt that the author was only interested in what she wanted to write about and not caring if she kept the storyline true to form for the audience.  Extreme opinion from me?  Probably, but that is the feeling I had reading this book the entire time.

I know all novels are works of fiction, that I have no issues with that, however, this author was intellectually dishonest (in my honest opinion) starting with the description of what the book was about on the cover.

This book claimed to be about a man, Biren Roy, who uses his law degree to pioneer academic equality for girls.  Sounds good, right?  The actual storyline did not even come close to the description until two-thirds of the way into the book.  Most of the story focused on Biren’s parents and their relationships with others when Biren was a young child.  This really started me on believing this was written with intellectual dishonesty.

Throughout my reading of Flame Tree Road, I toggled between wondering when the author was going to start writing about the descripted storyline to thinking I was reading a botany text book.  There were beautiful descriptions of trees found in India, such good descriptions that you could close your eyes and see all the details of each tree.  Shona Patel also did a wonderful job describing the landscaping in India.

I wish the author would have put as much time and energy when it came to the different characters in the book as she did with the trees and landscaping.  Throughout the book, I felt the characters in the story were more background players compared to the trees.  This feeling was due to the fact that I did not feel the author was as committed to her characters as she was to her native country of India.

This book did have many interesting facts about the social caste (hierarchy) that the people of India followed, however, I still had a hard time delving into the story because of my feelings of intellectual dishonesty on the author’s part.  There was an amazing analogy given in the story about how certain people are like certain types of trees which was really cool.

Overall, there were minimal quality nuggets in the story and the characters were undeveloped.  I felt the author, Shona Patel, really lost her way in this book and forgot her main purpose of what the storyline was about.  I may decide to reread this book down the road for the simple hope of finding something to enjoy in the book aside from the trees.  Until then, I have a bad taste in my mouth for this author and will probably never read another book by her (unless it is a botany text book).

I give Flame Tree Road by Shona Patel 1 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Read something wonderful but not this book, I cannot recommend this book to anyone to read.

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” ~Dr. Finch (in Harper Lee’s novel, Go Set A Watchman)

Go Set A Watchman by Harper LeeIt has been quite a while since I blogged about a book review.  Busy holiday schedules and family affairs have kept me from one of my favorite loves: reading.  In this book review, I will be reviewing our Books & Broads Book Club choice for January: Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman.

Harper Lee is best known from her novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and some of the beloved characters in the novel are also in this novel as well.  Go Set A Watchman is about Scout, AKA Jean Louise, when she is coming of age and really seeing the world through her own eyes instead of the eye’s of her father, Atticus Finch.

I have always found Harper Lee an easy read and this book is no different.  When reading this book, I must warn you, Dear Bloggites, that there are some parts in the book where you have to have a thick skin in order to read through the bigotry sections.  Fortunately, there are not many parts that emphasize the segregation during the era of the book.  Most of the book is about how Jean Louise, AKA Scout, learns some harsh truths about life in her hometown after being gone for many years.

Harper Lee’s writing style provides a lot of historical information in this book and allows us to feel the turmoil that Jean Louise goes through as all that she ever believed in is now challenged and destroyed.  She begins to truly see her father as a man with flaws and not this god-like entity she had grown up believing.

The feelings throughout the book toggles between a strong, heady atmosphere to a light, playful atmosphere.  When Jean Louise is struggling with something, the author does a good job of creating that sense of heady feelings, however, when Jean Louise is interacting with some people, the author created the fun, playful feelings as you read along.

Go Set A Watchman lacks the depth of character strength as you read in “To Kill A Mockingbird”, but I think it is because this novel was technically the first novel Harper Lee ever wrote, even though the main character is older.

I give Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee 3 out of 5 Bookmarks, Dear Bloggites.  Happy Reading!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace

“There are no Christians in war.” ~Michael Wallace, Crow Hollow

I am not really one for historical novels, so when I come across one that I truly enjoy, it always comes as a surprise Crow Hollow by Michael Wallaceto me. 😀  This book review is about Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace.  This was a book I would not give a second thought to reading except for the fact that it is this month’s book of choice by the book club I am a member of (thank goodness they get me out of my own way).

Crow Hollow is a bit of a historical romance with a twist of intrigue.  I love novels with intrigue.  The story follows James and Prudence on a journey into Indian Territory when the Americas were first created and during the height of the different wars between the settlers and Indians.  The purpose of each character to travel into Indian Territory are completely different.  James works for the King of England and is on a quest to find out what really caused the war between the Indians and settlers at Crow Hollow.  Prudence, or Prudie as James calls her, is determined to find her daughter that was left with the Nipmuk Indians while she was freed by the Indians.

As the two travelers are forced to face harsh weather while on the run from some very bad settlers, they begin to understand each other better.  Prudence is realizing that James is a man who cares deeply for country and countrymen and the betterment of both, while James is learning that Prudie is a woman who has more strength than he ever dreamed she would have.

Michael Wallace did a good job with building up the suspense in the novel, Crow Hollow.  The novel starts off slow and then begins to pick up pace once the travelers leave Boston and begin their journey to the territories.  Crow Hollow is written in the third person voice, which makes me ecstatic, as you, Dear Bloggites, know.

The author did a good job of capturing the essence of the times with the characters and settings throughout the book.  You are not on an emotional roller coaster, but you do find yourself invested in the characters by the end of the book.

Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace is a slow-paced read full of intrigue and a little romance.  The reader will find themselves in anticipation of the next challenge faced by the main characters while wanting the journey to end on a happy note.  You won’t know, unless you read the book, how it actually ended.  Did they both survive?  Did Prudie find her daughter?  Was James able to solve the riddle of what truly happened at Crow Hollow?

I give Crow Hollow by Michael Wallace 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you enjoy intrigue, romance, or historical pieces in your reading material, you will enjoy this book.

Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!

~4-Ever, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

“Books are more than doctors, of course.  Some novels are loving, lifelong companions; some give you a clip around the ear; others are friends who wrap you in warm towels when you’ve got those autumn blues.  And some…well, some are pink candy floss that tingles in your brain for three seconds and leaves a blissful void.  Like a short, torrid love affair.” ~Jean Perdu (in Nina George’s novel, The Little Paris Bookshop)

Whimsical.  Say it with me, Dear Bloggites, Whimsical.  This one word wraps up the feel of the book, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George.  I enjoyed the ‘feel’ of this book the entire time I was reading it.  Whimsical describes all aspects of this book, from the cover style of the book to the various characters found within the pages.  The storyline exudes a fun, light-hearted whimsy feel throughout.The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I must apologize for being so delayed on my book reviews, Dear Bloggites.  Life tends to get in the way of my chances to read thus delaying my reviews until now.  The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George was the book club’s pick for October, 2015.  One of the ladies in the group picked this book simply because of the name and nothing else, so we book club members did not know what to expect.  The lack of knowledge on the book and the author could have gone two different ways: pleasant surprise or torturous read.

I am glad to announce this book was a pleasant surprise for me.  The storyline is about a man, Jean Perdu, who owns a boat filled with books that he sells to different people after listening to what ails their hearts and minds.  The Literary Apothecary (as Jean Perdu named his boat) is meant to help people deal with life issues they are facing by reading the ‘prescribed’ book suggested to them by Perdu.  Even though Perdu uses his books and boat to help others, he does not take the proverbial medicine he is dishing out.

Jean Perdu had his love of a lifetime walk out on him many years ago with no word as to why she left except for a letter he refused to read…until now.  Once Jean brings himself to read the letter, he decides to set sail to the homeland of his love who left him.  On the journey, he is joined by a reclusive writer and a hot-tempered chef.  Throughout the book, Nina George gives you a nice, descriptive narrative that allows the reader to envision the journey Perdu is on with his unlikely friends.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a fun, light-hearted read but does drag in some places.  I enjoyed to storyline and style of writing (third person-YaY!) and was able to relate to the various characters in the book.  Although I did not feel like I was 100% invested in each character’s life, I was able to enjoy the different personalities I read about and traveled with throughout the book. 😀

I give The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George 3 out of 5 Bookmarks.  If you enjoy a light-hearted, feel good storyline, this book is for you, Dear Bloggites.

Happy Reading until next time!

~4-Every, P

Posted in Book Review

Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian by Andy Weir“Yes, of course duct tape works in a near-vacuum.  Duct tape works anywhere.  Duct tape is magic and should be worshiped.” ~Mark Watney (in Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian)

This month’s book club novel is The Martian by Andy Weir.  As you know, Dear Bloggites, I love reading debut books from new authors.  Any Weir has a unique story about his novel.  He offered it for free for a while before deciding to sell it at the lowest cost on Amazon.com.  Once readers from Amazon read the book, Andy Weir’s novel became a high demand item and even won an award from Amazon.

The book became so popular that the author was offered a movie deal and this movie is scheduled to be out in theaters on October 2nd.  I plan on watching the movie to see how well they follow the storyline.  Now, for my review. 🙂

The very first line caught my attention and (to me) was a genius move on Andy Weir’s part.  It immediately caught my attention.  It will catch anyone’s attention whether in a good way or a bad way, depending on if you find cuss words offensive.  However, this line worked.  I was immediately intrigued because I wanted to know why the statement was made and how it tied into the novel I had just started reading.  Kudos, Mr. Weir, Kudos.

As far as a first time novel goes, The Martian was written well.  Andy Weir has a back ground in science and has been fascinated by space all his life, so on occasion, the storyline would go into a lot of detail with several acronyms that may or may not have been explained at the time it was introduced into the storyline.  Like all new authors, Andy Weir, needs to learn who his audience is when writing his books.  Several times throughout the book, I felt that the author forgot his audience was writing to himself.

The storyline is genius.  When most people think of Martians they envision aliens invading Earth and attacking the human race.  Andy Weir turned that imagination around and made the human the invading species to a different planet, hence, the Martian (not to mention the storyline takes place on Mars…LOL).  It is this generation’s equivalent to the movie, Castaway, where we witness the challenges of one man thrown into a situation he never would have imagined could ever take place in his life.

One of the things I absolutely loved was the snarky, sarcastic personality of the character, Mark Watney.  I am a very sarcastic person and so I completely related to the character immediately.  I love reading books that I can personally relate to throughout a storyline.  There were several times throughout the novel that I was laughing out loud, literally, in my bed as I read this book!  I loved it! 😀

The vibe of the book was that of never letting a situation get the better of you.  The message was one of perseverance with a side of humor.  No matter what situation a person faces, they have a choice: make the best of it and overcome or allow the situation to get the best of them and give up.  I dig that.  I believe that vibe and live it daily.  The challenges faced in the book by the character make the reader think about how they would handle the challenge if they were in the situation that Mark Watney found himself in.  The book, The Martian, makes the reader think, “What if?” and that, Dear Bloggites, is the making of genius at work!  Andy Weir brings about a unique genius in his novel and I look forward to future works of art penned in his name. 🙂

I give The Martian by Andy Weir 4 out of 5 Bookmarks.   I recommend you read this book and if you feel up to it, go watch the movie when it comes out and compare the two.  That is what I am going to do.

Happy Reading, Dear Bloggites!

~4-Ever, P