Beartown and Us Against You [Book Reviews] #throwbackthursday

October 8, 2020

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman #throwbackthursday

Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (covers)

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my reviews of Beartown and Us Against You by Fredrik Backman, atmospheric stories of sports, small towns, and community…

This week’s Throw Back Thursday is a bit different because I’m throwing back to TWO books: Beartown and Us Against You. They are a series and Us Against You cannot be read as a stand-alone.

I read Beartown before I started blogging, so I don’t have a full blog review for linking ….I’ll include a brief review of it below and then link to my Us Against You blog review.

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Thoughts on Beartown

As the author develops characters and establishes the setting in his unique style, tension builds like the distant rumbling of an approaching severe thunderstorm The action is a bit slow in he beginning but once it picks up, the tension is sustained as the story plays out. Hockey fans will find this story particularly enjoyable. Filled with fascinating characters and infused with complex and important themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, and a girl’s “no.” This multilayed, thoughtful, and challenging read would make a highly discussable book club selection.

TW: a rape storyline and some crude locker room language and humor

A few favorite lines from Beartown include:
“People are standing in silent lines with their eyes half-open and their minds half-closed.”
“We’re not supposed to develop ‘products.’ We don’t manufacture anything at all. We nurture human beings. Those [hockey] guys are flesh and blood, not business plans and investment targets. The youth program isn’t some factory, regardless of what some of our sponsors seem to think.”
“Being a parent makes you feel like a blanket that’s always too small. No matter how hard you try to cover everyone, there’s always someone who’s freezing.”
“Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.”
“In the summer the rain seeps into the cracks in the bricks, then when the temperature slips below zero the moisture freezes to ice, and the bricks break. She will remember that that’s how it felt to grow up as the little sister of a dead big brother. A childhood that was one long, desperate attempt not to be liquid, not to seek out the cracks in your parents.”
“Maya knows all too well that this silence can be like water. If you let it make its way too far in, it can freeze into ice and break your heart.”
“And when enough people are quiet for long enough, a handful of voices can give the impression that everyone is screaming.”
“Sometimes life doesn’t let you choose your battles. Just the company you keep.”
“She and the girl rest their foreheads together. Say nothing, because they couldn’t have heard anything anyway, the echo of the screams in their hearts is deafening.”

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (Beartown #2)

My Summary:

“In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first).  After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand-alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.”

Continue here for my review of Us Against You by Fredrik Backman …

So much more than hockey….

QOTD: Have you read Beartown or Us Against You or are they on your TBR? Are you a Backman fan?

Anxious People [Book Review]

September 11, 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a man and woman stand with backs to the camera on a balcony looking into the distance

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Literary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Anxious People is the story of a bank robber and a group of hostages at an open house…a bunch of idiots, really (in the most endearing sense of the word). But the real story behind the circumstances is about a bridge and so much more.

My Thoughts:

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Simon the Fiddler [Book Review]

June 26, 2020

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles

Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles (cover) Image: a gold toned western landscape including a river

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Post-Civil War Southwest, Western

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A diverse, scrappy, hard-working, risk-taking, and loyal group of four forms a band…and Simon pursues love.

Simon is the fiddler and leader, and other members include Doroteo (guitar player), Damon (whistle player), and Patrick (bodhran and bone player). On the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon notices a lovely Irish girl, Doris, who is an indentured servant and governess for a colonel’s daughter. Simon can’t forget Doris as his ragtag group travels Texas striving to put their lives back together at the end of the Civil War and build their reputation. He vows to find her again, rescue her from her dire situation, and propose.

an old fiddle

My Thoughts:

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A Better Man: A Review

August 30, 2019

3 pines

A Better Man by Louise Penny

A Better Man Review

Genre/Categories: Mystery, Detective

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A better man or a bitter man?

In #15 of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, A Better Man, a dangerous spring flood causes the river to rise, social media displays its cruel side, and the search for a missing woman intensifies. Meanwhile, life is complicated for Gamache who returns to the Surete du Quebec as second-in-charge and reports to Beauvoir.

Typical of Louise Penny’s stories, the setting of Three Pines is a safe haven, cases are complicated and sometimes morally ambiguous, and the character of leaders is explored and tested. Will Gamache return as a better man or a bitter man?

My Thoughts:

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The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy: A Review

July 26, 2019

Have you read well-loved author, Rachel Joyce?

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy Review

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Love Story

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

If you’ve read The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, you know that Harold has set out on a walking trip across England to visit his former coworker Queenie Hennessy who is dying from cancer. He tells her to wait for him and believes that his pilgrimage will help keep her alive. In The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy we hear Queenie’s story including all her secrets and relive the spirit of Harold’s pilgrimage from her perspective. This is not a prequel or a sequel; it is a companion to Harold’s story. When the two works are put together we are able to construct a complete picture of their lives.

Amazon Rating:  4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:

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A Fall of Marigolds: A Review

April 19, 2019

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

A Fall of Marigolds Review

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Drama, Tragic Events

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

A beautiful scarf with a marigold design connects two women who experience traumatic and personally devastating events almost one hundred years apart. Clara witnesses the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of 1911 in Manhattan while Taryn witnesses the collapse of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. Both young women suffer loss and experience the effects of PTSD. This is a story of their healing journey and their decision to risk love again.

Amazon Rating:  4.5 Stars

(more…)

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful for Ten Favorite Contemporary Authors

November 20, 2018

Top Ten Tuesday: Thankful For Ten Favorite Contemporary Authors

Today I’m linking up with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Thanksgiving Freebie. Of course, I’m filled with gratitude for family, friends, faith, good health, God, and all my wonderful blessings; however, I’d like to include wonderful contemporary authors to that list! Reading brings me great joy and I spend countless, delightful hours immersed in the worlds that authors create.

The following list of authors is only a partial list of contemporary authors I enjoy. In part, I’ve chosen these authors to spotlight because I have likely read more than one of their titles and these titles are among my top reads of the year. Certainly, these authors fall into the “auto buy” category for me in that I would order or check out the book based solely on author’s reputation.

You can find reviews for some of the books mentioned in this post in the A-Z index. Titles are Amazon affiliate links.

authors spotlight

In no particular order, these are ten contemporary authors that are among my favorites:

Frederick Backman

Fredrik Backman

My favorites include Beartown, The Deal of a Lifetime, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, and Britt-Marie Was Here.

Louise Penny

Louise Penny

I love Penny’s entire Inspector Gamache series, but How the Light Gets In, A Great Reckoning, and Glass Houses are three examples of the stories to which I’ve awarded four stars. (it’s best to read the series in order starting with Still Life) The newest installment (#14) will be released next week!

Stephanie Dray

Stephanie Dray
Laura Kamoie
 Laura Kamoie

For the purpose of this top ten list, I’m counting Dray and Kamoie as one author because they coauthored America’s First Daughter and My Dear Hamilton, two favorite reads.

Rachel Joyce

Rachel Joyce

I loved The Music Shop and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.

Mitch Albom

Mitch Albom

Two favorites include Tuesdays With Morrie and The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.

Kate Morton

Kate Morton

Always a solid women’s fiction read, my favorites include The Lake House, The Forgotten Garden, and The Secret Keeper (her newest The Clockmaker’s Daughter was OK but not a favorite and The Distant Hours has been on my TBR for a long time.)

Hazel Gaynor

Hazel Gaynor

I first discovered Hazel Gaynor when I read The Last Christmas in Paris (coauthored with Heather Webb) and I immensely enjoyed her recent release The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter. I look forward to more from this author.

Yaa Gyasi

Yaa Gyasi
fatima farheen mirza
Fatima Farheen Mirza

Two debut authors that have earned a spot on this list are Yaa Gyasi author of Homegoing, and Fatima Farheen Mirza author of A Place For Us. Both authors were in their late twenties when they wrote their debut novels, and I anticipate years of more wonderful books from them.

Ron Cherow

Ron Chernow

I’m going to include one of my husband’s favorite contemporary authors to round out this list because I often hear him raving about Ron Chernow’s work. My husband’s favorites by Chernow are Grant, Washington: A Life, and Alexander Hamilton.



Please share in comments your favorite contemporary authors.



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love

Are you missing loved ones during the holidays? Enjoy this reflection from Mitch Albom: “Empty Chairs, Empty Table, Still Thanksgiving.”

My blogging buddy, Rhonda, at The Thankful Heart focuses on gratitude and the spirit of Thanksgiving all year long.

This is an excellent and enticing promo for Kingdom of the Blind!

If you’ve read My Dear Hamilton by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie and provide a review on social media or Amazon, you can fill out this form to receive FREE bonus content!

Have you voted in the 2018 Goodreads Awards?  Final voting is Nov 13-26. To vote, follow this link. Honestly, I’m discouraged with this year’s voting because my favorites of the year didn’t make it to the final cut in most categories. Did yours?

Have you seen The Hate U Give movie? Here’s the THUG trailer. 
I’ve read positive reviews with some saying it could be one of the best movies of the year. Of course, the movie is never as good as the book so don’t miss this important read.



Looking Ahead in “Nonfiction November”

What do you have on your TBR for “Nonfiction November”?

After some deliberation and indecision, I settled on House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg for my Nonfiction November read. Review will be posted Friday.

In addition to nonfiction, I’m certainly looking forward to the new Louise Penny release on November 27! So many books, so little time!



My Fall TBR

I’ll be updating my Fall TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!



Sharing is Caring

Thank you for reading today! I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



 Let’s Discuss

Who are your favorite authors?

I’d love to hear updates on your November reading! Do you plan to read a nonfiction selection?



***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price. This money will be used to offset the costs of running a blog and to sponsor giveaways, etc.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Us Against You [Book Review]

June 15, 2018

So much more than hockey…

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: two kids stand with ice skates on at the edge of a snowy village

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Sports, Hockey

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

In this sequel to Beartown, Fredrik Backman continues to cause readers to care deeply about the Beartown community and hockey (yes, it’s important to read Beartown first).  After the act of violence in Beartown, the community has to figure out how to trust each other again and restructure its hockey team. Many of the star hockey players have left the Beartown team and now play for the rival team in Hed. In fact, in Us Against You, the entire community is at risk economically and on the brink of losing everything. In addition to many returning characters from Beartown, readers are also introduced to a manipulative and cunning politician and become better acquainted with The Pack.

Us Against You is a multi-layered, compelling story filled with danger, heartbreak, and sadness as it addresses themes of prejudice, bullying, secrets, parenting, sexism, friendship, loyalty, community support, competition, politics, courage, violence, conflict, leadership, and hope. This is not a stand alone story; reading Beartown first is essential.

Amazon Early Rating (June): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

A dedicated Backman fan, I’ve read all of his work. As a fan and reader, I appreciate his thought-provoking writing, his courage to take a creative risk, and his commitment to writing about important and difficult topics. I think he’s an exciting and provocative author worth reading even though your appreciation of his individual works may vary. He’s on my list of respected writers from whom I’ll automatically preorder a new work without considering reviews.

Us Against You is an emotional read and filled with pain and sadness. Backman’s writing ability, thought filled observations, and unique style moved me forward. The hope readers find in the story comes through individual determination and courage and in the community standing together to support, pick up the pieces, rebuild, and heal.

A professional reviewer (Green Valley News) refers to Backman as “the Charles Dickens of our age.” You might know that Dickens is a great English writer and social critic, and this comparison is an important consideration when reviewing Backman’s work. When looked at solely from this perspective, I would award Us Against You 5 stars.

When considering Beartown and Us Against You, I notice they have slightly different tones and Us Against You is more focused on social issues (similar to Dickens). Overall, Beartown is my favorite. The difference for me in the two stories is that in Beartown I felt immersed in the story and bonded with the characters as if I were a community member. Whereas in Us Against You, I felt like an observer. It seemed like Backman was asking me to analyze and form an opinion rather than participate in the story. Instead of the story capturing me and allowing me to draw my own conclusions, I was aware of Backman’s analysis of social issues. In place of investing in the story alongside the characters, I spent time pondering Backman’s statements and wondering to what extent I agreed or not. Like Dickens, his story is focused on social issues, and his points are important, thought-provoking, and promote engagement. Although my preference is for more story telling, Backman is a gifted writer and the story is filled with quotable passages such as these (I could have filled a journal):

“People always choose a simple lie over a complicated truth, because the lie has one unbeatable advantage: the truth always has to stick to what actually happened, whereas the lie just has to be easy to believe.”

“No one bows their heads around here, for the simple reason that many of our worst deeds are the result of never wanting to admit that we’re wrong. The greater the mistake and the worse the consequences, the more pride we stand to lose if we back down.”

“You become someone else’s property the first time you hear your child cry. You belong to that little person now. Before everything else. So when something happens to your child, it never stops being your fault.”

“A long marriage consists of such small things that when they get lost we don’t even know where to start looking for them….In the end the weight of carrying each other’s broken hearts becomes unbearable.”

Recommended for readers who have read Beartown and wouldn’t mind something grittier, darker, and sadder; for those who love sports and competition; for readers who like issue-centered books; and for readers who appreciate thoughtful, excellent, and creative writing. If you have more questions after reading my review, please consider reading additional reviews before making your reading choice.

Trigger Warnings for locker room talk, homophobia, fighting and conflict, and references to suicide and rape.

RELATED:
My brief review of Beartown by Fredrik Backman here.
My review of Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.
My review of Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman here.

My Rating: 4 Hockey Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

Us Against You

Us Against You Information Here

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick BackmanFredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. He has also written BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE in addition to the BEARTOWN books and a few novellas. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @backmanland, or on instagram @backmansk or @backmansports.



QOTD:

Have you read Beartown and Us Against You or are they on your TBR?

Are you a Fredrik Backman fan?



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text



Links I Love:

More about summer reading for children in this link: The Ardent Biblio: How to Design a Summer Reading Program For Your Kids

In case you missed it: my post highlighting some diverse reading recommendations for MG children here.

If you are a fan of the Louise Penny “Inspector Gamache” series, here’s a new interview with the author who has a new installment in the series coming out in November.

This is an interesting podcast featuring an interview with Gail Honeyman, author of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”



Looking Ahead:

I’ll be reading and reviewing “Convenience Store Woman” by Sayaka Mukata from my Summer TBR. By the way, I’m updating my Summer TBR with star ratings as I read titles (if you want to check my progress from time to time).

convenience store women

Convenience Store Woman Information Here



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***Blogs posts may contain affiliate links. This means that at no extra cost to you, I can earn a small percentage of your purchase price.

Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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