Book Review: Beartown by Fredrik Backman

BEARTOWN

Ok, let me start by saying that for the first fifty pages or so, I had a hard time getting into Beartown. Maybe it was my mood, maybe it was the amount of characters introduced (there are many), but I almost gave up on it. This, friends, would have been a huge mistake.

Beartown is set in a town much like my own; tiny, somewhat dying, where people have little to hold onto aside from their hockey team. With the whole town’s hopes and dreams riding on them, the players are left with a heavy weight of responsibility to carry. The pressure is high and morality often takes a backseat to winning. When one act of violence brings a family to their knees, Beartown forces readers to evaluate their own ethical standpoint. It’s smart, honest and feels very real.

Beartown is beautifully written and touches so many important subjects from rape-culture, to homophobia, to peer pressure, that I feel like this novel should be a mandatory read in every high school. I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never read anything by Fredrik Backman before. After reading Beartown, this will change. And if you haven’t picked up any of his work yet, it should change for you too.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup

 

Top Ten Book Dedications

Hi Everyone!

Although I realize that I’ve been MIA over the last little while, I’d like to assure you that I’m still very much alive and well. Life got in the way as it so easily does and I had to shelf the blog for a little bit. That being said, I will do my best to post more regularly (pinkie promise, as my children would say).

Since I’m currently trying to word the dedication for my third novel (easier said than done), I’ve decided to feature my top ten book dedications.

 

  1. Austenland, by Shannon Hale

 

For Colin Firth

You’re a really great guy, but I’m married, so I think we should just be friends.

 

  1. Anansi Boys, by Neil Gaiman

You know how it is. You pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you. Not this time. Because we haven’t yet met/have only a glancing acquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven’t seen each other in much too long/are in some way related/will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other! This one’s for you. With you know what, and you probably know why.

 

  1. East of Eden, by John Steinbeck

Dear Pat, You came upon me carving some kind of little figure out of wood and you said, “Why don’t you make something for me?” I asked you what you wanted, and you said, “A box.” “What for?” “To put things in.” “What kind of things?” “Whatever you have,” you said. Well, here’s your box. Nearly everything I have is in it, and it is not full. Pain and excitement are in it, and feeling good or bad and evil thoughts and good thoughts- the pleasure of design and some despair and the indescribable joy of creation. And on top of these are all the gratitude and love I have for you. And still the box is not full. JOHN

 

  1. The Little Prince, by Antoine De Saint Exupery

To Leon Werth I ask the indulgence of the children who may read this book for dedicating it to a grown-up. I have a serious reason: he is the best friend I have in the world. I have another reason: this grown-up understands everything, even books about children. I have a third reason: he lives in France where he is hungry and cold. He needs cheering up. If all these reasons are not enough, I will dedicate the book to the child from whom this grown-up grew. All grown-ups were once children—although few of them remember it. And so I correct my dedication:

To Leon Werth, When he was a little boy

 

6. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, by Jenny Lawson

 

I want to thank everyone who helped me create this book, except for that guy who yelled at me in Kmart when I was eight because he thought I was being “too rowdy.”

You’re an asshole, sir.

 

5. The House of Hades, by Rick Riordan

 

To my wonderful readers: Sorry about that last cliff-hanger. Well, no, not really. HAHAHAHA. But seriously, I love you guys.

 

4. Don’t Panic: Douglas Adams & The Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Neil Gaiman

 

Because she’s threatened me with consequences too dreadful to consider if I don’t dedicate a book to her…

And because she’s taken to starting every transatlantic conversation with “Have you dedicated a book to me yet?”…

I would like to dedicate this book to intelligent life forms everywhere.

And to my sister, Claire.

 

3. The Land of Stories, by Chris Colfer

 

To Grandma,

For being my first editor and giving me the best writing advice I’ve ever received: “Christopher, I think you should wait until you’re done with elementary school before worrying about being a failed writer.”

 

2. The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
To Lucy Barfield

My Dear Lucy,

I wrote this story for you, but when I began it I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from some upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand, a word you say, but I shall still be your affectionate Godfather,

C.S. Lewis

 

1. A Series of Unfortunate Events(books 1–13), by Lemony Snicket
To Beatrice– darling, dearest, dead. (The Bad Beginning: Book The First)

 

For Beatrice– My love for you shall live forever. You, however, did not. (The Reptile Room: Book The Second)

 

For Beatrice– I would much prefer it if you were alive and well. (The Wide Window: Book The Third)

 

To Beatrice– My love flew like a butterfly Until death swooped down like a bat As the poet Emma Montana McElroy said: “That’s the end of that.” (The Miserable Mill: Book The Fourth) 

 

For Beatrice– You will always be in my heart, In my mind, And in your grave. (The Austere Academy: Book The Fifth)

 

For Beatrice– When we met my life began, Soon afterward, yours ended. (The Ersatz Elevator: Book The Sixth)

 

For Beatrice– When we were together I felt breathless. Now you are. (The Vile Village: Book The Seventh)

 

For Beatrice– Summer without you is as cold as winter. Winter without you is even colder. (The Hostile Hospital: Book The Eighth)

 

For Beatrice– Our love broke my heart, and stopped yours. (The Carnivorous Carnival: Book The Ninth)

 

For Beatrice– When we first met, you were pretty, and I was lonely. Now I am pretty lonely. (The Slippery Slope: Book The Tenth)

 

For Beatrice– Dead women tell no tales. Sad men write them down. (The Grim Grotto: Book The Eleventh)

 

For Beatrice— No one could extinguish my love, or your house. (The Penultimate Peril: Book The Twelfth)

 

For Beatrice— I cherished, you perished. The world’s been nightmarished. (The End: Book The Thirteenth)

Book Review: Contamination (Feast of Weeds #2) by Jamie Thornton

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000037_00034]

Sequels can be hit or miss, however Jamie Thornton nailed it with her second book in the Feast of Weeds series, Contamination.

Although the story picks up roughly where the first left off when it comes to timeline, Contamination follows a brand new set of characters in their journey to survive the outbreak that is quickly turning the population into rabid zombie-like beings.

I really enjoy how Thornton ties in the past characters to the new ones, and I appreciate that the author gives some explanations as to how the virus began and the scope of the spread.

Another aspect of the novel that I like is Corinna’s backstory. The glimpses into her past make it easier to understand her decision making throughout her stuggles. As for Dylan and her “friend” Jane, well… I didn’t like them much however I don’t suspect that the reader is supposed to.

Honestly, I preferred Contamination over the first book of the series. It’s just as action packed as Germination however since Contamination is a full-length novel instead of a novella, I feel that Thornton was able to offer so much more to her readers.

All in all, Contamination is a can’t-put-down zombie thriller that will have you reading into the wee hours of the night.

NOTE: I received a free copy from the author in exchange with an honest review.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup

 

Book Review: He Knew a Firefly by Smita Bhattacharya

hkaff

He Knew a Firefly by Smita Bhattacharya centers on Akshara who has the ability to see the futures of the people she loves. However her “gift” is more of a curse than a blessing as it seems that every life she touches is thrown into turmoil. Akshara must try to light the dark paths of her loved ones before fear and guilt consume her.

Bhattacharya writes in a graceful, almost lyrical style that I’ve rarely encountered in past novels and this poetic talent is certainly her strong suit. Seriously, her writing is exquisite.

I also really enjoyed having a glimpse into some of the different cultures of India. The author does this with ease, even adding words from her native tongue into the dialogue of the story without losing her English readers.

Where I encountered some problems was in the plot. Bhattacharya has created three loosely connected stories, all tied together by Akshara’s relationship with them which in theory is great however I found the storylines were somewhat difficult to follow. Because of this confusion, it made it hard to connect with some of her characters.

If I were to give a rating on the story alone, He Knew a Firefly would get 3 cups of java. However, because I feel that Bhattacharya’s writing itself is so beautiful, I have given the novel a 4 out 5 cup rating.

NOTE: I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup

GIVEAWAY! Pretty Dancer by Cora Graham

Do you know what’s better than books? FREE books, that’s what.

Enter your name and email in the comments section below for a shot at winning an ecopy of Cora Graham’s novel Pretty Dancer. Contest ends November 20th at 9pm Atlantic time.

pretty dancer

Meet Lilly – talented dancer, quick mouthed, take no shit tough girl who’s also good at hiding the fact that she’s scared. She doesn’t believe in true love or happily ever afters. Unless you count the unbreakable love she has for her overprotective, bullheaded twin brother, who also happens to be her knight in shining armor – which she doesn’t. Kind of hard to love when you can’t trust, and trust was something that got shattered along with the rest of her years ago. A lot was taken from her at a young age. She’s never gotten over it as much as she’s just refused to deal with it.

Her twin brother and quirky best friend are the only ones she lets see her true self. Her only dream is to get accepted into The Elite Academy of Dance and spend the rest of her life dancing on a stage, away from all that haunts her. To her, that’s easier than dealing with the demons from her past and the scars they left on the person she has become today. She’s more than willing to tuck all those dark and nasty things away, and go on pretending. Never hoping for anything more. Never allowing herself to feel.

That is, until a certain guy walks into her life like he was always meant to be there and refuses to go away. He turns her world upside down and confuses her to no end. He makes her wonder if there really is something more worth fighting her demons for. But then a secret comes to light that has her questioning if her shattered heart could have been saved all its hurt so many years ago.

A story about a girl who fights to overcome her past and dances her way into the future she wants. And maybe, just maybe, along the way finds a way to trust again, to love again.

Love, Humor, Passion, Artistry, a story of acceptance.

Book Review: Missed Chances

missed chances

Missed Chances is a collection of five short stories that all feature themes of love and loss. The book was edited by M.R. Nelson and the authors include L.M. Montgomery, Kate Chopin, Rabindranath Tagore, Helen Hunt Jackson and Constance Fenimore Woolson. What is unique about this book is that although all of the writers lived in the 1800s, their stories are still relevant and have stood the test of time. They are heartwarming, melancholic, with just enough humor to keep it lighthearted (Aunt Philippa, I’m looking at you).

Speaking of Aunt Philippa, she is by far my favorite character in the book. She’s a man-hating woman and an absolute riot to read. Her simple explanation of “that’s the men for you” for every undesirable situation that arises with the opposite sex is funny to say the least. I don’t want to give too much away but there’s a cute twist at the end that I rather enjoyed. Bonus: the story takes place in PEI, which isn’t too far from my corner of the world.

The stand out story for me is The Victory by Rabindranath Tagore. As silly as it may sound, it reminds me of a rap battle gone wrong between two poets (read it – you’ll know what I mean) which obviously wasn’t how the author intended it when he wrote it back in the 19th century but for some reason that’s how I imagine the scene would go down if it happened in today’s day and age. Rap battle aside, Shekhar’s decision at the end reminds us that it’s important to never give up as we don’t know what the future holds. Sure, the ending is sad but then who doesn’t love a good love tragedy?

I’m really happy that the publishing company, Annorlunda Books, approached me to review this book. I wasn’t familiar with any other the authors and I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to discover their work. Some stories I liked better than others, but overall it was a pleasant read. The book may not cater to everyone depending on taste however if you’re a fan of romantic tales from the Victorian era, pick up Missed Chances – you’re sure to enjoy it.

Note: This book was given to me by the publishing company in exchange with an honest review.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup

Book Review: A Fist Full of Evil by Rebecca Chastain

A-Fistful-of-Evil-Ebook_medium_small-220x320

A Fist Full of Evil is the first book in the Madison Fox, Illuminant Enforcer series by Rebecca Chastain. The story revolves around a Madison, a woman who is behind on bills and doesn’t have her life quite in order, who lands a job as an illuminant enforcer. What’s an illuminant enforcer? Madison has no idea and yet somehow she is left with the daunting task of figuring it out in order to rid evil from her region.

I’ll say this; the first half of the book really had me. It was fresh, playful and funny. On a few occasions, it even had me laughing out loud. I applaud the author on her creativity since the world she has created in an overly saturated market of YA fantasy is refreshingly unique. Madison is an interesting character with a temper and her decision making isn’t always the smartest, but I liked her better for it. Her somewhat serial man-crushing and raging hormones were also pretty entertaining. I enjoyed following Madison as she discovered who she really is and what it means to have “soul-sight”. My only complaint though is that somewhere around the middle the novel seems to fall into a slump of sorts. It was also a little long for my liking and I believe that if it had been shorter the lull I experienced wouldn’t have been so noticeable. It did keep me engaged enough to want to finish the story though and happily, by the end, I did feel like I would be interested in picking up the second book and seeing where it goes.

Overall, it’s a good start to a new series. There’s potential here and I look forward to reading more work from Chastain.

Note: I received this novel for free from the author in exchange with an honest review.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup

Book Trailer: Capering On Glass Bridges by Jessica Hernandez

The Utdrendans have spoken. Sixteen-year-old Kaia Stone is amongst the two whom they have named. If she accepts the task presented to her and succeeds, it will be made possible for the accursed Kingdom of Mar to be freed. Although the assignment itself is simple, the path to success is sure to be anything but; not all is as it seems, and forces determined to work against Kaia are gathering—for many will stop at nothing to ensure that Mar remains forever cursed.

Will Kaia choose to abandon the only life she’s ever known—perhaps indefinitely—in pursuit of the greater good…in pursuit of her purpose?

Purchase on Amazon

Purchase on Barnes and Noble

Purchase on Apple ibooks

Purchase on Kobo

Book Review: The Quantum Door by Jonathan Ballagh

image

There’s something almost Spielbergian about Jonathan Ballagh’s sci-fi novel The Quantum Door that brings me back to the glory days of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Set in the not-too-distant future, two young brothers, Brady and Felix, get more than they bargain for when they decide to ignore a No Trespassing sign and hop a fence into the unknown. They soon find themselves thrown into a dark technological world filled with secrets and danger around every corner.

Ballagh’s writing is solid and readers are quickly transported inside his imaginary scientific alternate world. Thankfully, even the techy stuff is easily understood. I feel this important considering the novel falls under the “tween” age group so super complex storyline and scientific terms could have lost young readers (and likely me as well). Although it’s aimed at readers between the ages of 10-14, The Quantum Door is fun for fans of sci-fi of any age. The characters were intriguing and I especially enjoyed the bond that forms between the two brothers.

I’d like to highlight the cover and inside art work done by Ben J. Adams. I loved the illustrations and felt they related beautifully with the story.

The Quantum Door is an impressive debut by author Jonathan Ballagh and I would recommend to fans of adventure and sci-fi.

Note: I received this book from the author in exchange with an honest review.

coffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cupcoffee cup