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.

 

Wild Reckless (Harper Boys #1) by Ginger Scott

Book Description:

Published: March 17, 2015

Kensington Worth had a vision for her senior year. It involved her best friends, her posh private school in downtown Chicago and time alone with her piano until her audition was perfected, a guaranteed ticket into the best music programs in the world.

Instead, a nightmare took over.

It didn’t happen all at once, but her life unraveled quickly—a tiny thread that evil somehow kept pulling until everything precious was taken from her. She was suddenly living miles away from her old life, trapped in an existence she didn’t choose—one determined to destroy her from the inside, leaving only hate and anger behind. It didn’t help that her neighbor, the one whose eyes held danger, was enjoying every second of her fall.

Owen Harper was trouble, his heart wild and his past the kind that’s spoken about in whispers. And somehow, his path was always intertwined with Kensington’s, every interaction crushing her, ruining her hope for any future better than her now. Sometimes, though, what everyone warns is trouble, is exactly what the heart needs. Owen Harper was consumed with darkness, and it held onto his soul for years. When Kensington looked at him, she saw a boy who’d gotten good at taking others down when they threatened his carefully balanced life. But the more she looked, the more she saw other things too—good things…things to admire.

Things…to love. Things that made her want to be reckless.

And those things…they were the scariest of all.

Review –

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When I started reading this book I thought it was a Young Adult novel, but the more I got into it, I changed my mind. I thought it would fit into the New Adult category, but by the ending I’m sure that it is somewhere in-between.

The plot of this story isn’t new: Girl from the city moves to a small town and right next door to the town’s BAD BOY and at first there is only indifference/hatred between them. But of course we all know that eventually the good girl will fall in love with the bad boy and will do things she knows she shouldn’t. What makes this NOT  young adult book is all the talk of drugs, alcohol and sex throughout the book, but don’t get me wrong, I LOVED IT, but I’m not a YA or a NA, so I can read anything I like. But, I wouldn’t want my teenage daughter (13-17) reading this because it makes sex, drugs and alcohol seem perfectly okay and it’s like no big deal .

The author writes a very steamy and descriptive  first time,Kensi was a virgin, sex scene between Owen and Kensi that is also beautiful. I was listening to it on Audible and it was in Chapter 21.

We learn that Owen has a train trunk full of baggage and why he is the dare-devil that he is. You can’t help but feel sorry for him and more than once I found myself yelling at the book, “Oh, good God, give the boy a break.” Kensi is also troubled but it’s because she learns the move was brought on by her father’s affair with her best friend and a weak mother figure,(most of the time).

As in all good YA or NA books there is a HEA and there isn’t another couple in the fiction world that deserved it more than Owen and Kensi.

Five stars *****

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The Ruth Valley Missing by Amber West

Book Description:

Published: November 18, 2012

Jameson Quinn is sick of trying to find herself in the big city. After a gallery opening ends in a trip to the ER and an argument with her self-involved boyfriend, she decides to take off for the peace and quiet of a small town — Ruth Valley.

The small town has everything Brooklyn lacked: simple people, peaceful surroundings, and a feeling of safety. Jameson even finds the perfect house to rent from the town’s most eligible bachelor, Sheriff Jack. Life is finally headed in a promising direction.

But something isn’t right. A young man is mysteriously injured, then disappears — and Jameson finds he isn’t the only person to suddenly vanish. The suspicious behavior of an abrasive nun and a creepy priest set her off on an investigation of what’s really happening. Will she figure out the secrets of Ruth Valley before she’s the next to go missing?

Review –

This is a great eerie story of a small town where several people, almost all being men, have disappeared over the years and no one seems too concerned. But when Jameson Quinn, to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city, moves to town she notices things aren’t as they seem to be and even at church barbecues  there is a strangeness in the air. She with the help of a priest who doesn’t much act like a priest find out the secret to the missing men and to the meat served in the barbecue.  Yup!  Creepy!!!!!   Great book.

five stars *****

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The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

Book Description:

Published: February 17, 2015

The fact that neither of her parents wants to deal with her is nothing new to Penny. She’s used to being discussed like a problem, a problem her mother has finally passed on to her father. What she hasn’t gotten used to is her stepmother…especially when she finds out that she’ll have to spend the summer with April in the remote woods of Washington to restore a broken-down old house.Set deep in a dense forest, the old Carver House is filled with abandoned antique furniture, rich architectural details, and its own chilling past. The only respite Penny can find away from April’s renovations is in Miller, the young guy who runs the local general store. He’s her only chance at a normal, and enjoyable, summer.But Miller has his own connection to the Carver House, and it’s one that goes beyond the mysterious tapping Penny hears at her window, the handprints she finds smudging the glass panes, and the visions of children who beckon Penny to follow them into the dark woods. Miller’s past just might threaten to become the terror of Penny’s future….

Review –
This is a really creepy, read in the dark, murder mystery, who-dun-it!
Penny, not all liking her step-mother,April, is forced to go with her to help renovate an old spooky house out in the woods into a bed and breakfast so it can be resold. Right away Penny notices that things are a bit off here in the woods and in the creepy house with a mural on one bedroom wall which includes a boy with red hair and green eyes. The more she looks into the real story behind the mural the more she gets creeped out and finds out that April has been having the same feelings. After many bazaar,macabre things happen they live and go back to the city and live HEA. (I couldn’t resist)
Truly the story is wonderful and the characters have many layers and the mystery is solved at the end and it is something you don’t see coming.  Really creepy.   Five stars *****
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Undead Sublet (Half Moon Hollow #2.5) by Molly Harper

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In “Undead Sublet” by Molly Harper, executive chef Tess Maitland is banned from her five-star kitchen in Chicago to recover from “exhaustion”. Choosing a random rental house in Half-Moon Hollow to spend time in, she’s unaware that the house comes with a strange man.

Even though Sam Masden’s ex-wife has rented the house out from under him, the divorce settlement allows him access to it for another ninety days. With Tess unable to go anywhere else, and Sam unwilling, a war of epic proportions is declared – and romantic sparks and heavy pots fly.

 

Review –

This was an audio book and at first I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it but the more I listened the more  I became invested in the characters, the plot and the humor of it all.  This story, I take it, is part of a larger volume which I have not read, but I may have to find it and add it to my “to read list”.  I will definitely be looking forward to the next installment.  Very good and the narrator had a pleasant voice.