Beartown is a story about a small town, who’s existence revolves around ice hockey. The junior team, this particular year, is headed for the semi-finals with a good chance at winning the finals.
In essence we see, when bad things happen and controversy strikes, the heavily ingrained ‘ice-hockey’ culture affects the overall views and culture of the town-folk. People begin to take sides.
It seems the entire town is explored from players to coaches, teachers, parents, students, local factory workers, the local pub owner, hockey club board members, sponsors … We learn who is on the right side and who is on the wrong side.
One observation (not a complaint) is that the author, seems to be vested in all of his characters as, in addition to the main story, many tidbits of information about the various character’s past, present and futures are included. The over development of characters works well in this small-town story.
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a well written, well thought out story. The first half is devoted to laying ground work and building characters, the second half is to the engrossing plot.
Set in the time period around 1980, I’ve tagged this novel as Historical Fiction as it describes the times of that period (making me feel old). I remember the history and time period well.
I read/listened to Little Fires Everywhere in starts and stops and found it was no problem picking up where I left off and no problem enjoy each and every chapter. The narrator, Jennifer Lim, did an excellent job.
At the heart of this story are two families, at different sides of the spectrum, one very domestic and middle-class with a mother, father, and four children and the other a mother and daughter who are nomads. The children are adolescents. The focus of the novel is the mother/child relationship. I am amazed at the number of perspective Ng manages to bring into this story.
While I have marked this novel as Historical Fiction, the 1980s were not too long ago and the issues at the heart of this novel have not changed much.
In Ng’s previous, debut, novel, Everything I Never Told You, family dynamics and disconnects were central to the story. So far, this is common theme in her work.
I wont go into too much detail in this brief. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone.
While stranded in the middle of nowhere, in a frozen, desolate mountain range, between Salt Lake City, Utah and Denver, Colorado, an extraordinary hero, Dr. Ed Payne takes one step at a time to survive.
On the surface The Mountain Between Us is a story of survival. On a deeper level it is about the bonds that tie people together.
The author Charles Martin explores what it means to be truly in love.
I easily pictured the wilderness and enjoyed each moment of the story. I felt it was cleverly written and well done.
I’ll just say the ending brought a few tears to my eyes.
What Others Have To Say
This was a great love story. A real one. Not cheesy at all. – Debbie Stone
It’s a book that is both plot driven and also manages to get inside people’s emotional heads. – Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
My Notorious Life: A Novel by Kate Manning is historical fiction and takes place mainly during the second half of the nineteenth century in New York City. The protagonist, Axie Muldoon, daughter of Irish Immigrants, becomes an orphan and then becomes the notorious Madam X, searched out for her superior mid-wife skills as well as treatment for other female troubles.
This is a long novel (approximately 20 hrs.); however, I breezed right through it. I must admit, having my own Irish ancestry, grandparents arriving in NYC in the early twentieth century, I was automatically fond of Axie. She tells her story in the most interesting and fun way, even though the main topics are very serious.
I am also fond of Historical Fiction. The author, Kate Manning, does a suburb job in representing this era. Women of all classes come to Axie for help under their dire circumstances. Axie does not turn them away, despite the peril she places herself in. I doubt I will ever forget Axie.
Whatever side of women’s issues you find yourself on, I think you will enjoy this novel.
I highly recommend the audio version of this novel. Axie has an Irish/New York accent and way of speaking which adds to the enjoyment of this novel.
What Others Are Saying
“Axie’s profane Irish brogue is vividly recreated with virtually no anachronistic slips, and though a certain degree of polemical crusading is unavoidable given Axie’s proclivities, her voice never fails to entertain. – Kirkus Review
“Kate Manning has written a compelling novel about the plight of women and reproductive rights, and of course, the battle over these issues continues today. Highly recommended!” – Book of Secrets
The Lost Girls is told in a steady, very somber/dark tone. It is multi layered with many surprising twists.
There are two narrators for this novel. One narrative is about three young sisters and their relationship while spending the summer at the family’s lake house,. It is told by one narrator in the voice of the middle sister, Lucy.
The second narration is about Lucy’s grand-neice, Justine, who inherits the house. Justine has two daughters.
Having two different narrators was very effective. Lucy is writing about that summer for Justine to read and know about what happened. The author, Heather Young’s talents are clearly on display.
The Lost Girls gives you pause for thought about families, the relationships that exist behind closed doors and the evil that may be lurking there.
If the author’s second novel, Lovelock, is as good as her first, The Lost Girls, it will be a doozy.
“I enjoyed THE LOST GIRLS despite the gloomy feeling that seemed to overshadow everyone. Ms. Young has a marvelous, descriptive writing style that helped you understand and connect with each character and each situation. Her writing just pulled you into the story. ” – Elizabeth of Silver’s Reviews
“Young’s intricately wrought family drama tarries over details of time, place, and emotion as it gradually reveals her debut’s tragic core.” – Kirkus Review
About The Author (from the author’s website)
After a decade practicing law and another raising kids, Heather decided to finally write the novel she’d always talked about writing. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars, and is an alumnus of the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop and the Tin House Writers Workshop, all of which helped her stop writing like a lawyer. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and two teenaged children. When she’s not writing she’s biking, hiking, neglecting potted plants, and reading books by other people that she wishes she’d written.
She is currently working on her second novel, Lovelock.
“Hilarious and big-hearted, The Nest is a stellar debut.” — People
“Humor and delightful irony abound in this lively first novel.”— New York Times Book Review
A warm, funny and acutely perceptive debut novel about four adult siblings and the fate of the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and their lives.”
I’m sorry, I did not see much humor in The Nest. This novel is much more serious.
Each chapter starts out with the focus on a particular character’s lives/issues or people in their lives. The story progresses this way which I thought was enjoyable.
Four siblings were to inherit a lot of money that they where counting on when the youngest reached 40. They called this ‘The Nest’. However, the older son got into some trouble and his mother bailed him out with most of ‘The Nest’.
Each of the siblings have different lives: two with life partners, one with a husband and set of twins, and one who roamed from women to women.
It felt like there were two or more interesting, underdeveloped separate novels in this story. However, it was overall an entertaining read.
This is the author’s debut novel and I would definitely consider reading more by her as she writes well. The characters and their issues felt very real (nothing sugar coated) and Sweeney presented them well.
“The Nest was an enjoyable beach/vacation read and I whole-heartedly recommend it for a weekend diversion.” – JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing
“The story weaves the past and the present together in such a way that I felt as though the characters were people I might meet. Even the supporting characters were fleshed out, enriching the tapestry that made each of their lives real.” – Laurel-Rain
““The book is very much about the thing that everyone inherits, which is a place in a family narrative,” Sweeney says.” – A Conversation With Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney — Kirkus Reviews
Book Trailer Link
About The Author (From the author’s website)
“Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney is the New York Times bestselling author of The Nest, which has been translated into more than 25 languages and optioned for film by Amazon Studios with Sweeney writing the adaptation. She has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and children. The Nest is her first novel.”
Once I started it, I enjoyed The Woman In Cabin 10 and listened to it over the course of a couple of days. I listened to the enjoyable English accent of Imogen Church out-loud as I don’t like to wear headphones, if I don’t have to.
There was a lot of cursing, which didn’t bother me as it added to the tension in the story. However, my husband, hearing nearby, expressed some shock!
The main character in the story, Lo Blacklock, suffers from anxiety. When she is thrown into a whodunit murder mystery, her anxiety intensifies. I thought the continual anxiety was a little overkill. On second thought, that is the nature of anxiety and the author, Ruth Ware, captured it well.
To the author and narrator’s credit, I was, in a way, glued to my seat until the end. While I didn’t feel it was a particularly clever plot, I rated it 5 Stars since it was entertaining.
On the Simon & Shuster’s website there are links for the book trailer as well as a reading group guide.
Ruth Ware grew up in Lewes, in Sussex and studied at Manchester University, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer.
Her début thriller In a Dark, Dark Wood and the follow-up The Woman in Cabin 10 were both Sunday Times top ten bestsellers in the UK, and New York Times top ten bestsellers in the US. She is currently working hard on book three.
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens has some violence in it, but it is about a murderer, so it fits the story well. The novel is fast paced and well written. I listened to it in just a few days as it held my interest.
At the opening of the story, the convicted murderer, Carl Iverson, is an old dying man in a nursing home. Joe Talbert, a young college student, on a school assignment to write a biography of an older person, begins a quest to find out the truth about the rape and murder of a fourteen year old girl, thirty years ago.
I enjoyed Eskens’ characterizations. In a short amount of time he was able to bring his characters to life and make them seem very realistic and in some cases sympathetic.
The various characters added another facet to the story, Among the character’s were Joe’s bipolar mother and autistic brother and the college girl who lives next-door to Joe, but keeps her distance. Another facet is Carl’s story from when he was a soldier in Vietnam.
The Life We Bury is an apropos title as it smartly shows, in several instances, the past that people move on from and in a sense bury.
The narrator, Zach Villa did a great job and was very easy to listen to.
First Paragraph (from library book)
Published 2014 by Seventh Street Books an imprint of Prometheus Books
I remember being pestered by a sense of dread as I walked to my car that day, pressed down by a wave of foreboding that swirled around my head and broke against the evening in small ripples. There are people in this world who would call that kind of feeling a premonition, a warning from some internal third eye that can see around the curve of time. I’ve never been one to buy into such things. But I will confess that there have been times when I think back to that day and wonder: if the fates had truly whispered in my ear – if I had known how that drive would change so many things – would I have taken a safer path? Would I turn left where before I had turned right? Or would I still travel the path that led me to Carl Iverson?
What Others Are Saying
“Allen Eskens had a way of capturing Joe’s voice in this book. The addition of what his family/home life was like was brilliant.”
“There are not many books in the last year that I can say I fell in love with right from the start, but this one earned that statement.” – Sheila @ BookJourney
“There’s a lot of action and tension so I found myself turning the pages as fast as I could.”
Allen Eskens is the award winning and USA Today-bestselling author of The Life We Bury, The Guise of Another and The Heavens May Fall. He is the recipient of the Barry Award, Rosebud Award and the Silver Falchion Award for his debut novel, The Life We Bury, which was also named a finalist for the Edgar® Award, Thriller Award, Anthony Award and the Minnesota Book Award. Allen honed his creative writing skills through the MFA program at Minnesota State University as well as classes at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. He is a member of the Twin Cities Sisters in Crime.
If you are curious about the famous man who created famous art work, Vincent Van Gogh, then this book is for you. The reason I rated it four stars instead of five is that it seemed a little too long. Other than that, it was very insightful and entertaining. This is historical fiction largely based on facts. The novel was initially published in 1934.
The author, Irving Stone, based his story on Vincent’s letters written to his bother Theo. Theo was Vincent’s benefactor and supported him throughout his life.
Vincent wrote Theo over 600 letters during his short lifespan.
In the novel, it is mentioned that Van Gogh wanted to know his subjects more so that he could better paint them. Knowing more about Van Gogh helps to better understand his art. I didn’t know much about Van Gogh and feel now, after reading Lust For Life, I can understand his art work much better.
The narrator kept my interest, however he used the same type of voice for several of the different female characters. The time periods were distinct, so it really didn’t matter much.
In the past author, Colleen Hoover, wrote for entertainment purposes. It Ends With Us, while entertaining and fictional, is different in that it is more personal to Colleen.
It Ends With Us starts out with a Fifty Shades of Grey type of sexual tension between florist, Lily Bloom and brain surgeon, Ryle Kincaid.
Ryle avoids long-term relationships, but finds Lily irresistible.
Lily occasionally thinks about her first love, but falls for Ryle.
While their romance is hot and heavy, the story suddenly takes a very dark and serious turn.
Colleen Hoover gives us a nice balance between the dark and lighter sides of the story.
It Ends With Us, touched my heart as it is about resilience in the face of tremendous obsticles.
What Others Are Saying
“A beautiful story of bravery, strength and hope – this book will change people’s lives. It’s without a doubt Colleen’s best work.” – Brandie @ Brandie is a Book Junkie
“A beautifully sad and inspirational story about breaking cycles, making hard choices, and loving the one you are meant to be with, even when someone else is also the love of your life.” – Laural Rain Snow
Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum is a Jewish holocaust story focused on the question of the culpability of Germain citizens. The author uses great vocabulary and descriptions. However, like these stories are, it was upsetting and disturbing to listen to. These descriptive stories of atrocities tend to make me sleep less well.
The narrator, Suzanne Toren, has a pleasant voice and added a nice touch of reality, using the German language and accent in different parts.
While listening to the ~16 hours, I fell asleep a couple of times and needed to backtrack. The story goes back and forth in time. My audible version of this novel does not have chapters label correctly, which made it difficult to backtrack.
HarcourtBooks, 2004 (from my local library)
Trudy and Anna, 1993
The funeral is well attended, the New Heidelberg Lutheran Church packed to capacity with farmers and their families who have come to bid farewell to one of their own. Since every seat is full, they also line the walls and crowd the vestibule. The men are comically unfamiliar in dark suits; they don’t get this dressed up for regular services. The women, however, wear what the do every Sunday no matter what the weather, skirt-and-sweater sets with hose and pumps. Their parkas, which are puffy and incongruous and signify the imminent return to life’s practicalities, are their sole concession to the cold. …
Anna and Max,
The evening is typical enough until the dog begins to choke. And even then, at first, Anna doesn’t both to turn from the Rouladen she is stuffing for the dinner that she and her father, Gerhard, will share, for the dachshund’s energetic gagging doesn’t strike her as anything unusual. The dog, Spaetzle, is forever eating something he shouldn’t, savaging chicken carcasses and consuming heels of bread without chewing, and such greed is inevitable followed by retching. Privately, Anna thinks him a horrid little creature and has ever since he was first presented to her five years ago on her fourteenth birthday, a gift from her father just after her mother’s death, as if in compensation. It is perhaps unfair to resent Spaetzle for this, he is also chronically ill-tempered, snapping with his yellowed fangs at everyone except Gerhard; he is really her father’s pet. And grossly fat, as Gerhard is always slipping him tidbits, despite his hallowed admonitions to Anna of Do not! Feed! The dog! From! The table!