Beartown ( Bjornstad #1) by Fredrik Backman

Book Description:

Published: April 25, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

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.

Review –

This novel concerns a Swedish youth league hockey team and its  place in a declining town. “Hockey is just a silly little game,” he writes. “We burn and bleed and cry, fully aware that the most the sport can give us, in the very best scenario, is incomprehensibly meager and worthless: just a few isolated moments of transcendence. …But what the hell else is life made of?”

Beartown quickly turns dark as the author exposes the one-track hearts and minds of some of Beartown’s residents. The isolated community in the novel is in Sweden, but “Beartown” is a universal story of homophobia, sexism and politics that could take place anywhere.

“Small towns need a head start if they’re going to have any chance in the world,” Backman writes, and, as readers soon learn, covering up a heinous crime is not up for debate if the town is going to make economic and social advances. It’s why Backman’s descriptions of screeching hockey parents who yell at coaches and other parents during games — we’ve all seen them — seem almost comical set against the ugly group mentality that takes over after a teen is raped and the Beartown Ice Hockey Club’s star player is accused of the crime.

Current fiction may have no more courageous young female character than Maya, who faces hate and threats after she comes forward about the rape. Backman writes a gritty, heart-stopping account of the sexual assault after which the novel then pivots into even more ominous territory as the town turns on her and her family.

Beartown is not just about a sexual assault; it’s also about Beartown families closing ranks and perpetuating falsehoods to protect themselves and the hockey team. It’s also about the all-encompassing culture of youth sports — the physical, mental and emotional commitment demanded of the players (not necessarily a bad thing) and the way that team sponsors, coaches and fans treat players like products rather than human beings.

So, although the book initially seems to be about the sport of hockey in a very small Swedish town, it is about sooo much more than that.

Five stars and I highly recommend it.

 

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Glass House (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #13) by Louise Penny

Book Description:

Published: August 29, 2017

Format: Audio/OverDrive

When a mysterious figure appears in Three Pines one cold November day, Armand Gamache and the rest of the villagers are at first curious. Then wary. Through rain and sleet, the figure stands unmoving, staring ahead.

From the moment its shadow falls over the village, Gamache, now Chief Superintendent of the Surete du Quebec, suspects the creature has deep roots and a dark purpose. Yet he does nothing. What can he do? Only watch and wait. And hope his mounting fears are not realized.

But when the figure vanishes overnight and a body is discovered, it falls to Gamache to discover if a debt has been paid or levied.

Months later, on a steamy July day as the trial for the accused begins in Montreal, Chief Superintendent Gamache continues to struggle with actions he set in motion that bitter November, from which there is no going back. More than the accused is on trial. Gamache’s own conscience is standing in judgment.

In Glass Houses, her latest utterly gripping book, number-one New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny shatters the conventions of the crime novel to explore what Gandhi called the court of conscience. A court that supersedes all others.

Review –

I love this series,The Chief Inspector Armand Gamache Series, because of the  group of close knit quirky characters and the quaint village of Three Pines where they reside. Within the characters there is a baker, a painter, a book seller, a B&B owner, a bistro owner,  an old, no holds barred poet and Armand Gamache, now chief of the Sûreté du Québec.

There is a murder in the village caused in part by the emergence of a Black Robed Figure (the conscience) stalking someone in the hamlet.  But did the dark thing come for a villager or for one of their guests? The appearance of the black thing coincides with the visit of four out-of-town guests. They are friends from the Université de Montréal who meet for a yearly reunion at the B&B in Three Pines, usually in August but this year it happens to be November first.

All of this is being related by CI Gamache, on the  witness stand in a horribly hot Summer, explaining how over the course of a few days the masked man grew into a fixture on the village green and morphed slowly into an omen.

Conscience is an overarching theme in Penny’s latest Gamache novel, seeping into the courtroom narrative as Gamache grapples with an enemy much larger than the dark thing, a war on drugs and two separate drug cartels, he took on as the new Chief Superintendent. His victory depends on the outcome, and the path, of this murder trial.

While certain installments in Penny’s bestselling series take Gamache and his team to the far reaches of Québec, others build their tension not with a chase but instead in the act of keeping still—this is one such book. The tension has never been greater, and Gamache has sat for months waiting, and waiting, to act, with Conscience watching close by.

Fantastic story and on the edge of the  seat suspense  and a lot of tears when I feared that a favorite character might have met their end in  gun battle that occurred in the bistro. Thankfully, at the end of the book the character in still in critical condition in the hospital with brain damage but I have every faith in the author, Louise Penney, that she will bring this character back to us in the next installment of this series, which comes out in August of this year.

Under the Lights (The Field Party #2) by Abby Glines

Book Description:

Published: August 23, 2016

Format: Audio/OverDrive

In the follow-up to Abbi Glines’s #1 New York Times bestseller Until Friday Night—three teens from a small southern town are stuck in a dramatic love triangle.

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.
Review –
It had been since November of 2015 when I  finished the first book in this series, Until Friday Night, but I was easily able to pick right up with the story line and I love it when books/authors make it easy for you.
 
It’s been six years since Willa has been to Lawton, Alabama,t o live with her nonna, who is the cook and housekeeper for the wealthy Lawtons, and reconnects with childhood friends.
 
Willa spent her childhood here, inseparable with the second son, Gunner Lawton, and his best friend, Brady Higgens.
Now seniors, the three revive their friendship in what appears to be a love triangle. Gunner’s distant relationship with his unloving parents and Willa’s abandonment by her own mother draws them close, as revealed in first-person chapters that alternate among the three teens. While away, Willa did something she regrets that resulted in a short stint in a correctional center, and  plans to keep her head down and stay out of trouble, but her two former best friends, Brady and Gunner, have missed Willa. Worried about her, both boys try to help Willa, even as both have fallen for her.
She finally tells Gunner her secret and he’s there for her so when the Lawton’s family secret comes out ( it’s a WHOOPER) Willa is there for him. They both realize that they love each other and plan a future together.
It was a sweet story, though very predictable and there was a lot of cursing for a YA book, but I guess that’s normal (?)  What do you think?

 

Divided We Fall (Divided We Fall Book 1) by Trent Reedy

Book Description:

Published: January 28, 2014

Danny Wright never thought he’d be the man to bring down the United States of America. In fact, he enlisted in the National Guard because he wanted to serve his country the way his father did. When the Guard is called up on the Idaho governor’s orders to police a protest in Boise, it seems like a routine crowd-control mission … but then Danny’s gun misfires, spooking the other soldiers and the already fractious crowd, and by the time the smoke clears, twelve people are dead.

The president wants the soldiers arrested. The governor swears to protect them. And as tensions build on both sides, the conflict slowly escalates toward the unthinkable: a second American civil war.

With political questions that are popular in American culture yet rare in YA fiction, and a provocative plot that could far too easily become real, DIVIDED WE FALL is Trent Reedy’s very timely YA debut.

Review –

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started listening to this book but the further into it I got the more i was hooked.  The narration was done by several people and that made the story really come alive.

The premise of Divided We Fall is frightening because it could all to well happen in our life time. I’m not one to spout political views but all you have to do is listen to the news and the talking heads to see that what’s happening in our country today would have been unthinkable even ten years ago.  Never say Never!

The main character, Danny Wright, is 17 and has enlisted with the Idaho National Guard, partly because his father died in the war. He has completed summer training, and until he graduates, his commitment will be minimal. Then the governor of Idaho gets into a squabble about sovereign rights with the president.

Danny’s unit is called up to help contain  a riot in Boise; when a rock hits him, he accidentally shoots a protester.  As each side’s position hardens, Danny is caught in the middle, wanted by the feds, and protected by the state. As the situation spirals out of control, Danny’s choices become narrow and inevitable.  Danny tries to keep life normal with football, rodeo, his best friends and his devoted girlfriend.
At one point the Idaho border is closed and no one can enter. You leave but you can’t come back. Food and all things needed to sustain life in Idaho have been shut off and Danny’s mother is stuck in Washington state for a month, until he decided he has to go get her, All of his friends accompany him and they make it out of Idaho easily but coming back they were shot at by Washington troops and helicopter and Danny’s mother is killed.The ending comes shortly after that and was a complete surprise until I found out that there is a follow-up book that I will be listening to very soon. I rated this book five stars *****.
The author  does a very good job of presenting all sides’ opinions, especially through the tweets and news reports that end chapters. This has the dual advantage of giving readers an action-filled story that will also make them think. The ending came as a complete surprise until I found out that there is a follow-up book that I will be listening to very soon.
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Somebody’s Angel (Rescue Me Saga #4) by Kallypso Masters

Book Description

December 22, 2013
When Marc d’Alessio first rescued the curvaceous and spirited Italian Angelina Giardano at the Masters at Arms Club, he never expected her to turn his safe, controlled life upside down and pull at his long-broken heartstrings. Months later, the intense fire of their attraction still rages, but something holds him back from committing to her completely. Worse, secrets and memories from his past join forces to further complicate his relationships with family, friends, and his beautiful angel.Angelina cannot give all of herself to someone who hides himself from her. She loves Marc, the BDSM world he brought her into, and the way their bodies respond to one another, but she needs more. Though she destroyed the wolf mask he once wore, only he can remove the mask he dons daily to hide his emotions. In a desperate attempt to break through his defenses and reclaim her connection to the man she loves, she attempts a full frontal assault that sends him into a fast retreat, leaving her nobody’s angel once again.Marc finds that running to the mountains no longer gives him solace but instead leaves him empty and alone. Angelina is the one woman worth the risk of opening his heart. Will he risk everything to become the man she deserves and the man he wants to be?
Review –
This installment of the Rescue Me Saga was very very intense and emotional, especially the last third of the book.
 
I hadn’t realized in Book One that Marc had so many hangups and dark places that he was hiding and they all came out in this story. Sometimes I just wanted to take him by the shoulders and give him a good shake, but that wouldn’t have worked either because he had trust issues when it came to women and he is a Dom so he wouldn’t let himself be topped. His ex-Marine Master Sargeant, Adam and a couple of other ex-Marine buddies agreed to do  a RACK scene with him(Marc video taped his consent) that had no hard limits or safewords to help him break through the things he couldn’t remember or didn’t want to. It was awful. Just the reading of it made me shudder.
I won’t go into the outcome but know that by the end he’s in a much better place.
Excellent read.
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Raising Stoney Mayhall by Daryl Gregory

Book Description

June 28, 2011

From award-winning author Daryl Gregory, whom Library Journal called “[a] bright new voice of the twenty-first century,” comes a new breed of zombie novel—a surprisingly funny, vividly frightening, and ultimately deeply moving story of self-discovery and family love.

In 1968, after the first zombie outbreak, Wanda Mayhall and her three young daughters discover the body of a teenage mother during a snowstorm. Wrapped in the woman’s arms is a baby, stone-cold, not breathing, and without a pulse. But then his eyes open and look up at Wanda—and he begins to move.

The family hides the child—whom they name Stony—rather than turn him over to authorities that would destroy him. Against all scientific reason, the undead boy begins to grow. For years his adoptive mother and sisters manage to keep his existence a secret—until one terrifying night when Stony is forced to run and he learns that he is not the only living dead boy left in the world.

Review –

I chose this book because the synopsis promised a different slant on the “normal” Zombie book and let’s be honest, Zombies have been written about to death. So, I was ready for something new. The author, Daryl Gregory, did not disappoint. He could have included the normal Zombie head decapitations and gore but did not, he could have made it about chaos and hopelessness, but he did not. Instead, the book is about family, love of family, friendships, loyalty, and doing what’s right. I cried a couple of times but mostly at the end and how many of you have ever cried for a Zombie (or should I say an LD-Living Dead?)

I rated this book 5 stars *****

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From the Trade Paperback edition.

Destroyer Angel (Anna Pigeon #18) by Nevada Barr

Book Description

April 1, 2014

Anna Pigeon, a ranger for the U.S. Park Services, sets off on vacation—an autumn canoe trip in the to the Iron Range in upstate Minnesota. With Anna is her friend Heath, a paraplegic; Heath’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Elizabeth; Leah, a wealthy designer of outdoor equipment; and her daughter, Katie, who is thirteen. For Heath and Leah, this is a shakedown cruise to test a new cutting edge line of camping equipment. The equipment, designed by Leah, will make camping and canoeing more accessible to disabled outdoorsmen.

On their second night out, Anna goes off on her own for a solo evening float on the Fox River.  When she comes back, she finds that four thugs, armed with rifles, pistols, and knives, have taken the two women and their teenaged daughters captive. With limited resources and no access to the outside world, Anna has only two days to rescue them before her friends are either killed or flown out of the country.

Review –

I’ve read every Anna Pigeon book ever written but I had my doubts about this one when I started reading. Fortunately, my doubts were for nothing because this book is one of the author’s best works.  This one was grisly, violent (it takes real scum to shot a dog) and darker than her usual books but the location, the characters, and the story line are all interwoven into a story that had me turning pages well in the early morning hours.

I’m ready for the next one.

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Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity #1) by Elizabeth Wein

Book Description:

Published: February 6, 2012

 

Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun.

When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. As a secret agent captured in enemy territory, she’s living a spy’s worst nightmare. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution.

As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity uncovers her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

A Michael L. Printz Award Honor book that was called “a fiendishly-plotted mind game of a novel” in The New York Times, Code Name Verity is a visceral read of danger, resolve, and survival that shows just how far true friends will go to save each other.

 

Review –

Rarely do you find Young Adult books that deal with subjects other than vampires, zombies, teen angst,young love, and paranormal activity and that’s why this book is so special.  It’s takes place in Europe during World War II and revolves around the lives of two very brave teenage girls. Friendship, loyalty and love of country draws them together in a way that not even they could understand,  It is truly profound reading.

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Side Effects by Michael Palmer

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Book Description

Publication Date:January 26, 2011
Kate Bennet. A bright hospital pathologist with a loving husband and a solid future. Until one day her world turns dark. A strange, puzzling illness has killed two women. Now it endangers Kate’s closest friend. Soon it will threaten Kate’s marriage. Her sanity. Her life. Kate has uncovered a horrifying secret. Important people will stop at nothing to protect it. It is a terrifying medical discovery. And its roots lie in one of the greatest evils in the history of humankind.
Review –
This book has a great  plot, strongly developed characters, good description is action packed and fast paced and will scare the socks off of you when you realize this very thing is probably happening somewhere right now. Michael Palmer did it again!!
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Finale (Hush Hush Saga #4) by Becca Fitzpatrick

12751687Prodect Description:

Published: 2012

Will love conquer all?

Nora and Patch thought their troubles were behind them. Hank is gone and they should be able to put his ugly vendetta to rest. But in Hank’s absence, Nora has become the unwitting head of the Nephilim and must finish what Hank began. Which ultimately means destroying the fallen angels – destroying Patch.

Nora will never let that happen, so she and Patch make a plan: lead everyone to believe they have broken up, and work the system from the inside. Nora will convince the Nephilim that they are making a mistake in fighting the fallen angels, and Patch will find out everything he can from the opposing side. They will end this war before it can even begin.

But the best-laid plans often go awry. Nora is put through the paces in her new role and finds herself drawn to an addictive power she never anticipated.

As the battle lines are drawn, Nora and Patch must confront the differences that have always been between them and either choose to ignore them or let them destroy the love they have always fought for.

Review –

Now that Nora has taken an oath to lead the Nephilim Army and they want a war with the fallen angels and she doesn’t, she has to find  a way to stay the leader without others trying to take over or kill her.  People she thought were friends turn out not to be and little does she know that a simple blue drink COULD be her undoing.  I’m not going to say how the series ends(you’ll have to read it and find out) but I will say a favorite character doesn’t make it.   Fantastic Series. I gave all four books **** four stars but I consider the series itself worthy of ***** five stars.

 

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