OK, so it has been a while since I have popped on here. I know last time I said I would be more consistent. Unfortunately, life can get super busy. Hoping to change that and become more regular. 😉
Now over to the good stuff; what have I been reading? These past few months I’ve been reading longer books which have slowed me down a bit. Here is a snapshot
Honestly, looking now at these titles, it is quite a diverse group. Hind’s Feet and HTWF&IP are both book club picks.
Okay for Now – this was a reread back in January. So, glad I did! Doug Swieteck is such a great character you can root for. Probably, my favorite of Schmidt’s books so far. Set in the late ’60s and tackles some heavy topics.
Hind’s Feet in High Places – So, our book club’s pick for January, it’s a YA allegory, but kinda weird. Much-Afraid desperately wants to follow the Shepherd to the high places, but faces many obstacles on the way. Cannot say I loved this one. Hurnard had some new-age beliefs and I think she left Christianity later in her life.
Just Like That – My sister has been wanting me to read this for a while now. I finally agreed. This is a sequel to Wednesday Wars and continues Meryl Lee’s story. Tackles grief in a good way. What can I say Schmidt is a good author even if this is MG fiction. 😉
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – I’ve seen this around the blogosphere, but didn’t know much about it. Probably my favorite new to me book so far. Eleanor sticks to routine and follows the same schedule each week. She decides to shake things up a bit with some help from the IT guy at work, Raymond. I found this one hilarious and in the vein of A Man Called Ove. A bit odd, but enjoyable and a quick read.
A Prayer for Owen Meany – This book, hmm, I keep coming back to it. Took me almost 2 months to finish, but finish I did. Despite the title, I would not consider this to be a Christian book. It does delve into faith, but not quite in how you would expect. Owen is born with a squeaky voice, and he believes that he will be God’s instrument for an event. His best friend John isn’t so sure. Bits I loves, while other section, mostly the Vietnam rants were a bit much.
The Word is Murder – A friend of mine recommended this to me, and glad they did. A murder mystery where the author is a character. We see the whole mystery from his perspective. So far of the 3 books in the series I’ve read, this one is the best. Hawthorne asks Horowitz to write a book about the case they are solving. Complex and I had no idea who was the killer.
How to Win Friends & Influence People – Our book club’s pick for March. Super interesting. Carnegie gives tips on how to work with people and win them to your way of thinking. Many of his examples are set in the 1930s, but still very applicable today.
Tale of Two Cities – This was another reread. It has been years since I read this. On reading it a second time, I think I picked up on more of the politics involved and certain other aspects like Darnay’s identity. Not my favorite Dickens novel, but very similar to Les Miserable.
Well that’s a wrap! I feel caught up now. 😉
How has your winter gone? What have you been reading? Thoughts on any of these books?
I have had this post simmering in my mind for a while now, and am excited that I have a bit of free time to do it. 🙂 2022 wasn’t the best year for TV shows. I saw a few that were just kinda meh. However, there are a few that stand out.
Let’s get started!
Alex Rider – YA, Action
Honestly, I stumbled across this on Amazon Prime while I was sick. Looked intriguing and up my alley. I know nothing of the books or the previous movie.
I liked the whole vibe!! The show gave me Sherlock vibes which surprised me as before this I had not found anything close to Sherlock. The acting was well done in my opinion. Point Blanc was intriguing, but the show hit its stride in the second season. Likable characters and it is relatively clean.
Once Upon a Time – Fantasy
I was browsing with my sister to find something short to watch. This is what we found. Years ago, I knew several friends who enjoyed it, but I felt like it wasn’t my thing. Growing up, I was never a princess fan.
However, Once did surprise me. The plot was different. All these fairy tale characters are trapped in a town by an evil queen. She has erased their memories so all they know is modern life not who they were beforehand. Except for one day, a detective shows up and things begin to unravel.
The one big complaint I have is the acting. Gosh, at times it is bad. Especially Prince Charming, eek. Snow White is not much better. Currently midway through season 2 and sort of took a break.
Rings of Power – Fantasy
There was so much hype for The Rings of Power and I was on the fence for the longest time. Overall I’m glad I did, but I still have a few reservations about the big reveals. I did want to like it.
It takes place during the second age which is many years before Lord of the Rings. Bits of the story come from The Silmarillion which is Tolkien’s history book of the First and Second age and the Appendixes.
First, I did like Elrond and Durin. Their relationship felt the most realistic to Tolkien’s works. Disa added to the story as well. Numenoor was neat to see as that’s where Aragorn’s people come from. Galadriel was only so-so. For me, I just did not care one way or another about her mission. There was no reason to care. The Harfoots added nothing to the story except maybe finding young Gandalf and even then he didn’t do much.
The cinematography had some beautiful shots, but I did not really feel like I was in Middle-earth. Will see what happens in the next season.
SurvivorDavid Vs. Goliath– Reality show
I remember seeing a handful of episodes growing up and knew the concept of Survivor, but this was the first time I actually watched a full season.
David Vs Goliath is a later season and had quite a few twists and turns. Definitely better then some of the other seasons we watched. Fans Vs. Favorites was horrible; we quit a few episodes into it.
There was more strategy during this season and lots of alliances. It surprised me that the two tribes kept their separate identities even after the merge. If I remember right, even a sacrifice of an immunity idol. I rooted for the David tribe as they were very much the underdogs. We liked Christian, he got along with most of the tribe. Overall it was just a tight season.
Stranger Things – Sci-fi, Horror
I was super excited to see season 4 as Stranger Things is one of my favorite shows. We got hooked on the show pretty soon after season 2 aired so I feel like we have gotten to know these characters. I was discussing with my sister why the certain thing that had occurred hurt so much, and we concluded that we have seen these characters grow up. This is why I think that waiting in between episodes or seasons can be a good thing
The characters are created realistically I think. We have Steve who goes from a jerk to becoming an adult and wanting a family. Yet, not every character grows in a good way, I mean Jonathan kinda wonders down a rabbit trail, but that happens in real life. Hooper grows as a dad and figures out how to help his daughter. The boys reach high school and Nancy finds her love of journalism.
Season 4 packs a punch. At one point my sister and I almost quit. It got pretty dark, especially with Vecna, but we stuck it out and things begin to be explained. We get a glimpse into Eleven’s previous life. Good characters die, while others are put in the ringer.
Is this a show for everybody? No, but that’s alright. Is it dark and at times scary? Yep, but there are good things as well.
Anyway, that’s the end of my little discussion. Any shows that stuck out to you in 2022? Any recommendations? Do you like any of these?
I’m back for a bit at least. My year has been jam packed. So many changes happened this year. Mostly I want to look back on my reading. Not surprisingly my total amount of books plummeted with all my busyness My total was only * drum-roll please * 43. With two DNF’s.
Each of these books stuck out to me as having relatable characters and left me wanting more. This year sort of became my year for YA. I didn’t really plan this, but I had a blast anyway. I listened through the Hunger Games series as well as Harry Potter. Both are unique and I can see why they caused a splash. Also, I read two more Miss Peregrine books, but think I’ll stop the series there as the ending was perfect.
Let’s start with my favorites! 😉
#9 Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico
Honestly, don’t know how I had never heard of this quaint book?? It tells the story of an elderly cleaning lady whose husband died in the war. While cleaning Lady Dant’s house, she stumbles upon a Dior dress. In that moment Mrs. Harris decides then and there she will buy her very own Dior dress. What a journey she has!
“The world in which Mrs. Harris, now approaching the sixties, moved, was one of perpetual mess, slop, and untidiness.”
“For it had not been a dress she had bought so much as an adventure and an experience that would last her to the end of her days.”
#8 The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
This was such an emotional book for me! I absolutely loved the characters! Ponyboy had this rough life and I just wanted to give him a hug. Impressive to me that Hinton started writing this when she was 16.
Ponyboy lives with his two brothers Darry and Soda Pop. They look out for one another, but not always in the best way. They are all apart of the Greaser gang from the East side who have a reputation to uphold. They have been seeking a rumble with the Socs gang from the West side. Before the rumble Ponyboy is attacked which leads to him running for his life.
“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home”
“We’re almost a close as brothers; when you grow up in a tight-knit neighborhood like ours you get to know each other real well.”
“Stay gold Ponyboy. . . stay gold”
#7 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
To be honest I don’t remember everything that happened in this one. I do know this was Sirius Black’s first appearance as well as Lupin’s. Ah, Lupin. He is one of my favorite characters. He begins teaching Harry some important skills that come in handy. He is a fount of wisdom. We also get a bit of time travel. Yea! The ending of this one, so good! This book was so tight and concise which gets lost in some of the later books.
” I solemnly swear I am up to no good”
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
“What you fear most of all is —fear. Very wise…”
#6 Mirror of Souls by Wayne Batson
I’ve been waiting for this next installment for a while. Anytime something new comes out by Batson, I get super excited. This did not disappoint. It is the 4th book in his Myridian Constellation series. It picks up right where The Forsaken Continent left off.
There are so many characters and plot lines. I’ll just mention a couple. Telwyn Coldhollow is returning from his trek to the forsaken continent only to see his friends in danger yet again. King Lochlan is still on the run from Morlan. He decides to attempt to take back his kingdom from the menace that pervades it. Abbagael Coldhollow misses her husband Alistair and embarks to find him wherever he is, no matter the cost.
“Jak Alastair Coldhollow, you are a gift from the First One, and I love you with all my heart. Your father loved you, loves you too, but he has gone missing. I have to go and find him. It’s not fair, I know to leave you so soon.”
“What is this talk of payment?” Alec asked. “We are all children of the Starmaker. This is what we do for each other. “
Abbagael stared out over the black water. “I think I’m going to need to pray. . . a lot more” “And we will pray for you even as we return to Willowdell” Alec said. “The Maker of the stars is worthy of your trust.”
# 5 Catch me If you Can by Frank Abagnale
This book came as a recommendation from a friend. Not surprisingly, I had never heard of this book, but the premise sounded intriguing. I’m a fan of White Collar and this is similar in a way.
After his parents get a divorce, Frank Abagnale decides to runaway, and eventually becomes a conman at the age of 19. He goes through a series of invalid jobs from Pan am pilot to pediatrician, and even a university teacher.
“You’ll learn Frank, that when you’re up they’re hundreds of people who’ll claim you as a friend. When you’re down, you’re lucky if one of them will buy you a cup of coffee.”
“The TWA first officer was probably back in the pilot’s lounge by now, telling others TWA crewman he’d just met a Pam Am jerk who flew washing machines.”
#4 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Well, the mystery woven throughout HBP is amazing. There was a lot happening in this book and I listened to it in a very short amount of time. So, I apologize if I forget details. Dumbledore finally made some smart choices and showed Harry key memories that help explain why Voldemort became the wizard he is now. We also get to see a glimpse of kindness in Snape which felt long overdue. Romantic feelings were sprouting like flowers everywhere. I like Jinny, but I’m not sure how I feel about them together. Harry does make some more mature choices and grows up a bit.
“Once again; Lord Voldemort fails to grasp that there are much more terrible things then physical injury.”
“Voldemort’s mistake, Harry, Voldemort’s mistake. . . Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.”
#3 The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Creel
I really liked this book! It was sweet and charming. Sometimes all you want is a simple story, nothing complex or out of this world. This book fits that very well.
Olivia Dunne is the oldest of her three sisters which has led to come contention at home. Her mom suddenly dies due to cancer and afterwards Olivia becomes pregnant. Her father then arranged a marriage for her which crushes her dreams of becoming an archeologist. At first Olivia is not a fan of the move or her marriage, but slowly she comes to appreciate and develop friends in her small town. There are a few moments where I did get frustrated with her mopiness.
Quotes – “Not yet silver, the moon reflected the honey gold of the setting sun, lighting her face from continents away.”
“”Sure enough,” he said. “But that’s not why I’m standing here. I wanted to listen better.” I stopped stirring. Then he told me, “You were singing to yourself.”
#2 Boy Tales from Childhood by Ronald Dahl
This was our December pick for our book club. Ronald Dahl wrote an autobiography of his life. Now he even mentions that autobiographies can be boring, so he just wrote about the interesting bits. And indeed Dahl know how to write! I found myself laughing way to hard at his antics as a boy. You can see where he got some of his ideas for his books just based on his childhood. I highly recommend for all ages!
“The sweet ship in Llandaff in the year 1923 was the very center of our lives. To us it was what a bar is to a drunk or a church is to a Bishop. Without it, there would have been little to live for.”
“That was 1924, and taking out a child’s adenoids, and often tonsils as well, without any anesthetic was common practice in those days, I wonder thought what you would think if some doctor did that to you today”
#1 A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
Our book club has read a few of Backman’s books and enjoyed them. On a whim, and a need for a new audiobook, I gave Ove a try. It was fantastic!! Who would have thought that a grumpy curmudgeon could be so funny.
Ove has a routine that he sticks too and follows the same pattern everyday. Yet, losing his wife has messed with how structure. It’s Ove’s job to ensure the neighborhood is safe from pesky visitors. He recently was fired from his job, and now Ove sees no point in living. So, he decides to commit suicide. His new neighbors though keep interrupting him.
I love that we see flashbacks to Ove’s life before this. We see his rough childhood and life as an orphan. As well as how he meets his wife. So many touching moments.
There are a few content issues to be aware of for Ove. There is descriptions of his suicide attempts as well as some rough language.
Well, that took longer then I expected! Whew! Hope you enjoyed that! How was 2022 for your reading life? Any favorites? Have you read any of these?
I know, I know, I disappeared there for awhile. Once school began up again, I have been busy. I am hoping to spend some more time on here. Have a few post ideas in the works, just need the time to actually do them. 😉 Anyway, Happy Fall!
It’s hard to believe that we are through October already. Mid-September put in the mood for more spooky reading, excited to share some of these with you!
Let’s get started!
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J. K. Rowling
Genre – Fantasy
Series – 7th book in the Harry Potter series
Rating – PG-13 for fantasy violence and peril
I finally finished the series! Took me almost a whole year to do it. If I remember right, I started Philosopher’s Stone in January. This has been a great ride and I’ve enjoyed my trip to the Wizarding World.
Rowling really did a good job creating characters who are unique and quirky, but lovable. I think on the whole this concluded each characters stories well. Certain individuals seemed to have matured more then others. However, that epilogue, awe, a hit to the chest. Teared up just a smidge. 😉
I just want to mention a few of my favorite bits:
* Lupin becoming a dad – still is one of my top characters
* Harry saving Malfoy – wish there was a bit more reconciliation there
*Voldemort & Harry in forest
* Battle for Hogworts – so many heroic moments
*Neville and the sword –
* Snape & the stag – Loved that we actually get to see an explanation
I’ve been trying to figure out which book is my favorite. I’ve narrowed it down to a top three – Prisoner of Azkaban, Half-Blood Prince, & Deathly Hollows.
My next book is more in the spooky vein, and I’ve been waiting to read it most of the year.
Phantom of the Opera
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Genre – Gothic, Horror, Mystery
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for kidnapping and violence
A couple years ago I watched the 25th anniversary stage version of the musical. Fell in love with the music! Roughly a year or so ago found out that it was based upon a book. Finally got a chance to read it this past month.
I have to say the book is different than the musical. There are quite a few similarities, but the book gives us more details into the lives of some of the characters.
One big difference is that Leroux focuses more on the mystery of this spectral phantom and the tension it brings. But I found myself struggling to like any of the characters. For me Christine felt more wishy-washy in the book, she cannot make up her mind to tell Raoul about the Angel of Music for fear of Raoul’s life. While Raoul was super impatient and almost clingy regarding Christine.
Honestly, the best character was the Persian. He actually had a bit of backbone and some much needed wisdom for Raoul. The whole torture chamber was well done! Really felt like I was there trapped with them.
Overall this book is more plot driven, than character, which is fine. However, its weaving multiple plot points, some of which are slower then others. Glad I read it, just not my favorite gothic literature.
“And Richard turned a terrible look on Moncharmin, which seem to say: “Give me back the twenty-thousand francs, or I’ll tell the whole story.” Moncharmin understood what he meant, for, with a distracted gesture, he said: “Oh, tell everything and have done with it!”
“A ghost, ” he said, “Who, on the same evening, carries off an opera singer and steals twenty thousand francs is a ghost who must have his hands very full!”
Last, but not least – Dracula
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Genre – Gothic, Horror
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for spookiness & vampire violence
So, this was our book club pick for October. Before Dracula, I had never read a vampire story. This was new for me. It reminded me at times of Frankenstein which I loved.
OK, so right off the bat, Jonathan Harker’s first section hooked me. I loved the whole mystery surrounding the count’s odd behavior. Harker’s whole journey just to get to the castle was a trip in itself. This whole section was well written, concise, & to the point. Not nail-biting per say, but definitely spooky.
Then his journal stops and we move to Mina. This is where I slowed down and drew me out of the story. Throughout the rest of the book, I never really connected with Mina or Lucy’s segments. Not exactly sure why? Lucy especially, I just didn’t care and was relived when her part ended.
Of all the characters, Van Helsing was my fav. He had the smarts and deduced things that Jonathan, Stewart, and Morris missed. Morris was good as well. Wished Lucy had picked him instead of who she actually chose.
One qualm I have is the whole ending. I was expecting a fight between our heroic party and Dracula and instead it is rather anticlimactic. It was just a bit of letdown.
“Once again. . . Welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
“No man knows til he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.”
“I am longing to be with you and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air.”
Anyway Dracula is worth a read, and is a classic for a reason.
Up Next – I’m still working on my reread of The Silmarillion. Eek, I’ve taken way to long with this. Its been a back burner book. I read a chapter then stop, so much detail that its better in smaller bits.
How is your fall going? Read anything spooky? Have you heard of these? What are your thoughts?
Wow! It’s hard to believe that August is already upon us! My summer has flown by and honestly, been a bit slow on the reading front. My brother got married in June which was exciting. A lot of thought and preparation went into the wedding. It surprised me how many little details were involved.
Anyway, I have a few books that I’ve finished and have been simmering on the brain. One of which I still can’t decide whether I liked it or not.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
Genre – Fantasy
Series – Harry Potter Book 5
Age – YA
Rating – PG-13 for violence
This has been my year for reading my way through the Harry Potter books. I’ve found these to be very enjoyable, especially via audiobook as Jim Dale does a great job creating voices for the characters.
Most people have at least heard of these books. This has been my first go. Honestly, been surprised by them as I was excepting flimsy writing and childish characters. By The Order of the Phoenix, I’ve grown to like so many of the characters. The story has progressed and become more complex throughout the books.
What I Liked –
~Fred and George’s Antics – When Harry gave them his winnings from the tournament, I was excited to see what they’d do with it. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes such a good joke shop name. I love the twins! They provide the levity needed to brighten the dark tone.
~Neville’s Parents – We finally find out what happened to Neville’s parents. It’s heartbreaking, but reveals Neville’s loyalty. Plus, nice to see Neville actually succeed in the D. A. meetings. He fought so hard to master the defensive charms. Also, mimbulus mimbletonia. 😉
~The D. A. meetings – These provided some of the best moments in the book. These students actually took to learning on their own, and they were able to hide it from the rest of the school.
~ Mentor Lupin – It has taken me a while, but I’ve decided that Lupin is my favorite character. He is gentle with Harry, and yet, speaks to him like a man. Lupin gives us some insight into what Harry’s father was like. We also see his struggles as well.
~Snape’s background – Although a brief snippet, we come to understand why Snape has such a strong hatred for Potter. I felt sorry for him. Hoping we get to see more of his past. Maybe a softening between Harry and Snape?
~ Harry’s Emotions – My goodness! This boy goes through so many! The author especially shows his anger. I’m glad we find out why, but on the whole I thought Harry was very whiny. I wanted to smack him on the head and tell him to buck up.
~ Tea with Cho – On the whole, I don’t mind Cho. However, I can’t say she worked well with Harry. Her relationship with him felt forced and more admiring what he did for Cedric.
“Thoughts are not etched on the inside of skulls, t0 be perused by any invader. The mind is a complex and many-layered thing, Potter . . . or at least, most minds are. . .” He smirked” (P. 530).
“”It was worth it though,” said Fred, who was taking order from clamoring Gryffindors. “If you want to add your name to the waiting list, Herminone, it’s five Galleons for your Basic Blaze box and twenty for the Deflagration Deluxe. . . .” (P. 634).
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kruger
Genre – Historical Fiction, Mystery, Coming of Age
Age – Adult
Rating – PG-13 for innuendo and violence
I was browsing at Barnes & Noble and stumbled across this book. A couple years ago I’d read one of Kruger’s other books called This Tender Land. It was unique and left a imprint on me. So, I was curious about this one set in the 60’s.
Ordinary Grace tells the story is told from the perspective of Frank Drum, a preacher kid. Frank and his brother Jake enter a summer that will change both of their lives. A string of deaths will test what really holds a family together and see how grief effects lives differently.
~ Characters – Kruger has way of speaking directly to you through his characters. Frank is your typical 13 year old boy, and despite his tendency for trouble, he loves his family. Jake was a character painted in subtle tones, but we we see his wisdom and maturity for his age. Also, really liked Nathan, their dad. The author shows respect for the position of a pastor. Nathan loves his congregation and desires to see them grow. Plus there is Gus, hard not to like him, although he is stubborn as a mule.
~Small Town – You can tell the author grew up in the Midwest. He captures life in a rural town so well: The barber shop meet zone, railroad tracks, even the quarry swimming hole.
~Mystery – The four deaths that rock this town to the core are each complex. Some of them we never do get a reason why they occurred. This felt realistic, sometimes we don’t get all the answers.
~Ending – For me the epilogue really sealed the deal. I loved the time jump and seeing Frank and Jake as adults brought closure to the story.
~Karl Brandt -His secret, while it explained Ariel’s behavior, felt unnecessary.
~ The whole Emil Brandt situation – just no.
“In my own life, the two trains of this problem are the summer of 1961 and the present. And they collide every year on memorial day in the cemetery in New Brennen” (P. 301).
“I just wasn’t afraid anymore. I mean, maybe nobody else would even think of it like a miracle, but for me it felt that way. . . If we put everything in God’s hands, maybe we don’t any of us have to be afraid anymore” (P. 282).
Next: A River Runs Through It
A River Runs Through It
By Norman Maclean
Genre – Historical Fiction
Age – Adult
Rating – PG for some mild innuendo
I saw the movie a while back and was curious to see if the book was much different. It is very much a summer book as most it discusses fly fishing. It tells the story of the Maclean family, Norman and Paul grow up in Montana are the sons of a Presbyterian minister. Fishing is their way of life. Norman eventually becomes a teacher, while Paul a reporter. Its small stories that are all connected.
I struggled with the fly fishing sections as most of it went over my head. I’ve only been fishing a handful of times and those using worms as bait. For me I struggled to visualize certain movements. However, I can appreciate that fly fishing is an art form that takes years to master.
I loved learning about Norman and Paul’s upbringing, how they were taught. Their father seemed to be a hard man to please. Fishing was something that brought the three together. I believe most of the book was based upon the author’s real life. It does make me want to go visit Montana and fish by the river.
“In our family, there was no clear line between religion and fly fishing.” (P. 1)
“As a Scot and a Presbyterian, my father believed that man by nature was a mess and had fallen from an original state of grace” (P. 2).
“My father was very sure about certain matters pertaining to the universe. To him all things – trout as well as salvation come by grace” (P. 85).
Lastly: A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove
by Fredrik Backman
Genre – Contemporary fiction
Rating – PG-13 for language and attempts of suicide
I’ve read two previous books by Backman: Brit Marie was Here and Deal of a Lifetime, and have found him to be a decent writer. Brit Marie was different, a breath of fresh air. After finishing an audiobook, I was on the hunt for something new. Decided to try this Backman book as it had high reviews.
To be honest, I still have an hour left, 😉 but I have really enjoyed Ove so far. Backman really knows how to make characters that speak to your soul. They are relatable and he doesn’t shy away from showing the sad parts of life.
Ove is a fifty some year old curmudgeon who has has had enough of life. He just wants to die. He tidies his house and does his morning inspection of the neighborhood for burglars and rule breakers before prepping to install a screw in the ceiling. During his inspection, he sees the new neighbors who have moved in: a husband and his Iranian wife & kids. Ove is not impressed. Through a series of events, Ove’s neighbors show him a brighter side of life and that one is needed.
We find out about Ove’s past through a series of flashbacks. We hear how he met his wife, their trials medically, and her death. Ove was truly dedicated to his wife. She brought a ray of sunshine into his life.
I know it sounds like a depressing and sad read, but it isn’t. In fact, I have found myself laughing as I’m driving. Parvaneh cracks me up. She can be just as sarcastic as Ove. Puts a smile on my face before I head to work. While Ove has a crusty outside, we see how he defended Sonja or how he helps the neighbors. His friendship with Rune really shows how much time can sneak by without us realizing it.
Now, he does attempt to kill himself three times. However, each time, he is interrupted by a doorbell or someone who needs his help. He begrudgingly does, and each time there is humor regarding Ove’s situation.
My one complaint is the gay character that gets stuck in towards the end. He doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the book and feels more like a statement.
“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”
“He was a man of black and white. And she was color. All the color he had.”
“It’s been six months since she died. But Ove still inspects the whole house twice a day to feel the radiators and check that she hasn’t sneakily turned up the heating.”
Soon, I’m hoping to finish Can’t Hurt Me by David Groggins.
Have you heard of any of these books? How is your summer reading going? What have you enjoyed reading?
I’ve taken another rather long hiatus, and I’m Sorry about that. Life has proceeded to bring changes which take some adjusting to. My sister and I recently moved, only a few miles from where we were, but a move just the same. It was my first time which kinda stressed me out.
We have been at the new place for about a month. Due to all this, my reading kinda went into a slump. Before moving I was reading, Suns Will Rise, took me like three weeks to finish. After that I read our book club pick of Skeletons on the Zahara which was fascinating. Both of these are not light-hearted.
After those, I needed a reread! And this weather put me in the mood for Anne. So far I’ve reread the first 2 books in the series and hope to read the third soon.
Anne of Green Gables & Anne of Avonlea
By L. M. Montgomery
Genre – Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age
Rating – PG for mild peril and adventures
Synopsis – These two books tell the story of an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who has imagination and spirit to match her red hair. Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert are seeking to adopt a boy to help them around the farm as they are getting on in years. Along he way a mistake is made and Anne is sent to them instead. They must decide whether or not to keep her. Anne has quite a way of finding adventures and misshapes as she grows into a young lady.
My Thoughts –
This is such a sweet story to come back too. Both of these books are filled with vibrant descriptions of plants and the changing of seasons. They make for perfect summer reads.
Throughout the years I’ve read both multiple times, although I’ve read Green Gables more then Avonlea. For the longest time, I disliked Anne of Avonlea because it felt so much slower then the previous book. Plus, the whole Ms. Lavender’s romance dragged on for a while. I will say I was able to appreciate it more this go around. Mainly due to the fact that I’m a preschool teacher. So, I related to her trials with her students. It can truly be like walking a tightrope to juggle kiddos with a wide range of personalities! I love Anne’s gumption and spirit. She wants her students to excel and to take away life lessons.
There are so many fantastic characters in these novels. Anne of course is very relatable. Seems like every chapter she is getting into mischief, although mostly unintentionally on her part. She takes everything to heart and tends to crash when things don’t go as expected. There is a bit of Anne in me, especially my younger self. 😉
Gilbert Blythe is true rival of Anne despite his attempts to appease her wounded pride. I will say that he is very patient. I mean he waits 3 years for her to forgive him, that is a true gentleman.
Matthew is my second favorite. Now, he doesn’t say much, but when he does, you better listen. He can match his sister Marilla in stubbornness. He has genuine sweetness about him and is such a hard worker.
If you are looking for a film version, I highly recommend the 80’s versions with Megan Follows. While they don’t strictly follow the book, they capture the essence. Plus, they would make for a great family movie night.
“”I should say not. What good would she be to us?” “We might be some good to her,” said Matthew suddenly and unexpectedly” (P. 29).
“Oh Marilla,” she exclaimed one Saturday morning. . . “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (P. 120).
“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet” (P. 176).
These books hold up well and they are so accessible that anyone could read them. But especially MG or YA girls. There is an innocence in these first 2 books. I’ve really enjoyed rereading and going back to Prince Edward Island. I’d love to visit someday.
Have you ever read either of these books? Do you have a favorite in the series? Who do you relate to the most?
Up Next – After finishing Anne of the Island, I might give Anna Karenina a go, but no promises there.
It feels like forever since I’ve popped on here! Feel a little bad about that. 2022 has been an interesting year so far and has lots of changes in store. I’ll be moving soon which, honestly, not sure if I’m ready for it. Also, have a family wedding soon. This brings me to my point, I’ve been doing more listening than reading. I’m still counting audiobooks in my overall reading count. For me, it has just been easier.
Without further ado, I’ll mention some books that I’ve enjoyed over the past few months.
The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel – Read
The Magic of Ordinary Days by Anne Howard Creel
Genre – Historical Fiction
Series – Stand-a-lone novel
Rating – PG for discussion of pregnancy before marriage
My Thoughts – Honestly I don’t remember what lead me to put it on my list for this year?? I saw the movie a few years ago and enjoyed it, but at the time had no idea there was a book behind it. I must have seen this book somewhere on around the blogosphere.
However, I really did love this book!! The setting is beautiful, and takes place in 1944 on a Colorado farm in the fall. Olivia and Ray really drive the novel. All Olivia wants to be an archeologist visiting far off places. However, after her mother passes, Olivia falls for a Edward who is preparing for deployment. She ends up pregnant. He father arranges a marriage with a bean farmer, Ray. While there she becomes friends with two Rose & Lorelei, Japanese Americans who are in a camp. I really liked the portrayal of Ray and Reverend Cass’s faith. They both have a simple trust in the Lord and reverence for the Bible which was nice to see.
My only dislike was that Olivia got whiny and had trouble making up her mind. I almost wished the author could have alternated every other chapter with Ray.
MaidHard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
Maid by Stephanie Land
Genre – Memoir, nonfiction
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for language and domestic violence
Age – Adult
This was one of our book club’s picks for April. Stephanie’s story is fascinating, especially since I have little knowledge regarding how people on such a low income live. Maid reminded me of the Pursuit of Happiness. Some sections irked me a bit with her whole attitude toward certain things. However, she truly worked hard to provide for her daughter. My favorite parts where her stories about the different houses she cleaned. To be honest I would not do well with all the black mold she had to clean. Her client Henry was so sweet! Most of the chapters titles are names for the different houses.
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azakaban by J. K. Rowling
Harry Potter & the Prisoner of Azkaban
by J. K. Rowling
Genre – Fantasy
Series – 3rd book in the Harry Potter series
Rating – PG for some name calling and peril
Age – YA
Now, this by far was my favorite of the first three. We see the characters mature a bit and get more backstory of Hogwarts before Harry. Surprised that we got a decent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. Lupin was the mentor that Harry needed! He has a calmness about him. Honestly, I wasn’t sure about Sirius, however, he grew on me. It was sweet hearing his defense of James and Lily. Of the three kids, Ron is my fav! If I was someone in real life, I’d be Nevil Longbottom. 😉
Well folks, that’s all I have for now!
Have you read any of these books? What’s your take on them? Favorite characters?
It’s hard to believe that April is almost here!
Up next – I wanted something easyish so am reading Hollow City, the second in Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series.
I know its been awhile since I’ve popped on, but excited to share the book I just finished. Back in November I was looking for a movie to watch and stumbled on The Outsiders. The plot sounded interesting so I gave it go; ended up loving the story. After the movie ended, I went and looked up the book that it was based upon. I remember seeing Hamlette @ https://theedgeoftheprecipice.blogspot.com/2016/09/the-outsiders-by-s-e-hinton.html mentioning how much she loved the book. I promptly put the book on my TBR list. Now that we are in the doldrums of February, I decided why not give it a read.
The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton
Genre – YA Fiction
Series – No
Rating – PG-13 for gang violence and death
Ponyboy Curtis lives with his two older brothers, Soda and Darry, who have raised him since their parents’ death. They are apart of a gang known as the greasers, who are known for living on the poor side of town and for causing trouble. Pony is a dreamer and has never quite fit in the gang, and the same goes for Johnny Pony’s best friend. After an incident, Pony and Johnny run away. Leading to Pony looking back at his life and figuring out what matters.
My Thoughts –
Wow, I ended up really loving this book!! I can already tell this will probably end up on my favorites list. 😉 Pony and Johnny really stood out to me as characters and I fell for both hard. Johnny especially needs a big hug. I loved how the author helps us understand why they do what they do. She doesn’t put a halo around the gang, but neither does she make it too dark.
Considering she was 14 when she started writing this book, I find it incredible that Hinton created such vibrant characters. Ponyboy feels like someone you’d meet on the street. There are many families with a similar environment to Johnny’s. As we slowly understand the Socs and greasers, I loved how Pony became aware that Randy, a soc, was just a boy like him. I feel like I should talk about Sodapop and Darry. Soda has such a cheery outlook on life, which makes him very likeable.
When I watched the movie, I didn’t like Darry much. He seemed so distant and cold. However, the book makes him more human, and by the end he made sense to me. The same goes for Dally. Hated him in the movie. Yet, we see just how much Johnny means to him. Dally truly wants Pony and Johnny to remain innocent and not pick up his bad habits. He has his flaws for sure, but there is a caring side too.
Hinton’s writing style is super simple which lets the plot and characters shine. Being that the novel is only 180 pages, it runs at a clip. I kept wanting the author to slow down a bit and explain who some of the minor characters were. By the end I just wanted more time with Pony, Soda, & Darry.
Johnny’s letter brought the book to a nice close and tears to my eyes. I knew it was coming, but it still hurt.
“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.” (P. 1).
“We’re almost as close as brothers; when you grow up in a tight-knit neighborhood like ours you get to know each other real well.” (P.3)
“It seemed funny to me that the sunset she saw from her patio and the one I saw from the back steps was the same one. Maybe the two different worlds we lived in weren’t so different.” (P.40-41).
“Darry did care about me, maybe as much as he cared about Soda, and because he cared he was trying too hard to make something of me.” (P. 98).
“”Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay gold . . .” The pillows seemed to sink a little, and Johnny died.” (p. 148).
Content -Super surprised that there was hardly any swearing to speak of and very little innuendo. A few comments from Dally and that’s it. Now we do see some gang violence. Johnny ends up killing a Soc to save Pony’s life. We also see fights, and injuries on both sides. Johnny sustains third degree burns across his body and breaks his back while saving kids in a fire. He does end up dying.
I’m surprised I never found this book in my high school years because I know I would have loved it then. I am grateful I did end up reading The Outsiders. Gives an interesting perspective to a different world then I am used to seeing. One thing that did seem odd was having Pony like Gone with the Wind. Just seemed like an odd choice. Overall, a fascinating read! Highly recommend it!
Up Next – Honestly, I need to finish Live not by Lies, but it has been a struggle.
How is your February going? Read anything surprising? Have you read The Outsiders or seen the movie?
If you’ve read very many of my posts, you’ve probably figured out that I dig fantasy. Probably started when I was little. My mom read aloud a variety of books including Narnia, Wind in the Willows, and The Secret Garden to me and my siblings. Fantasy has a way of sparking the imagination of children and adults alike. It takes real concepts like faith, love, betrayal and spins them in way to be more palpable. As well as introduce you to new worlds and peoples.
Long story short, I remember the first time I found one of Batson’s books at a bookstore and bringing it home. Even just the cover was appealing. It was The Door Within. From there spawned a new fan who avidly devoured whatever series came next. One Christmas my grandparents gifted me with The Sword in the Stars, the original version from 2011. Of all his books, this was and is my favorite. The Myridian Constellation series feels deeper then some of his previous works. We have dark villains who last for multiple books and heroes who die. This is his latest installment, and it did not disappoint.
Mirror of Souls by Wayne Thomas Batson
Genre – Fantasy, Christian Fiction
Series – Book 4 in The Myriadian Constellation
Rating – PG-13 for violence and foul creatures
Myriad is in ruins as Morlan Stormgarden has conquered most of the continent. Recently coming back from a brutal war eradicating the Gorrack nation, Morlan considers himself invincible. Locklan Stormgarden has other plans. He has quietly been growing an army to try to depose his evil uncle and to take back his rightful throne. Meanwhile Abbagael Coldhollow is recovering from the birth of her baby, Jak. She is disquieted and believes her lost husband, Alastair is still alive somewhere. Abbagael sets out to find him, even if it costs her everything she has. Telwyn is taking up the mantle of being the Halfainin which means he must sacrifice himself for his friends safety.
My Thoughts –
I’ll be honest my synopsis does not do the book justice. Also bear in mind this being the fourth book, lots of stuff has happened previously. I do recommend starting in order. I even struggled at the beginning remembering where everyone was at and what they were doing. Been too long since I read the previous book. 😉
I kinda looked like this as I red. Trying to put all the pieces together.
Anyway, let’s talk about what I liked.
Batson is the king of throwing twists and turns into a story. There were several throughout this book. A few I had anticipated, while others surprised me. He has a way of building the story and climax as to hold your attention. Some authors you reach the climax and could care less what happens to the characters. Not with Batson. The last two chapters were so hard! Why!? He ends it on several cliffhangers. I wish there was more to read. Oh, well. I’ll probably have to wait.
I honestly think his characters are some of the strongest I’ve read. He isn’t afraid to show you their dark side whether that be alcoholism or craving power. We see quite a bit from Morlan’s perspective which can be gritty. He truly wants absolute power. My absolute favorite character is Alastair Coldhollow! A few books back, he left the main story and his fate was unknown. Very much hoping Batson hasn’t ruined my favorite! Abbagael has grown on me especially in these last two books. She has a fire to her and a strong moral compass. Telwyn also is becoming a man who speaks truth. He is a Jesus like character, several moments were very touching and had me almost in tears!
Loch has never been a favorite of mine, but he does some soul searching and I am looking forward to seeing what lies ahead for him. We had some new additions Xerk & Strylun who are very viking like and I enjoyed seeing some new faces. In fact I am curious if these are same two characters that Batson had written a short story for a few years ago? Anybody know??
We are introduced to a new part of Myriad which is fun. Plus a sea turtle that has a mountain on his back!!! It’s why I love fantasy, literally anything can come to life.
There are two scenes are really loved!! One being Telywn and Morlan’s showdown. So good to see Morlan get a taste of his own medicine. Telywn is completly good and can handle almost anything. They also throw snide comments at each other which was kinda funny. Second, Telwyn revealing himself to Loch. Very emotional!
Batson is a believer so he weaves Christian themes throughout most of his books which is super cool. Self-sacrifice is a big one as well as loyalty, & perseverance. We saw the coming of the Halfainin, basically a Jesus type character, in the first book The Sword in the Stars. Here we see his death and how it breaks the death key. Also, Loch sees himself in mirrors revealing just how sinful he was. Love the picture of a chasm that he cannot cross, but Telwyn made a way.
My one dislike was that it took awhile to get going. This could all me on me. As I felt out of the loop, but I struggled actually getting into it. After the first 100 pages though things started clicking.
“Jak Alastair Coldhollow, you are a gift from the First One, and I love you with all my heart. Your father loved you, loves you too, but he has gone missing. I have to go and find him. It’s not fair, I know to leave you so soon.” (p. 92)
“Abbagael stares out over the black water. “I think I’m going to need to pray. . . a lot more.” “And we will pray for you even as we return to Willowdell,” Alec said. “The Maker of the Stars is worthy of your trust. Let Him be your compass.”” (p. 113).
“That is purity, Morlan” Telwyn declared. “It consumes your wickedness, and by that, I mean… it consumes you.” (p. 156).
Content – No language, a few suggestive comments here and there, but not much else. Now violence is a biggy. We see just how truly evil Morlan is as he has stolen gifts from people and uses it to kill any who oppose him. Also, quite a bit of blood in certain sections. Morlan literally liquidizes his enemies’ blood. Cythraul too can be quite cruel.
The book ended sooner then I had expected with the last chunk being a short story about how Alastair leaves behind his life as an assassin. For me that was nice surprise. It is hinted at in the previous books, but never fully revealed until now. Overall this is an intense story filled with flawed heroes trying to do what is right. The mark of good author is when you can tune out the world around you and be totally swept away by the story. Where it feels like you are in it. This happened for me. I do highly recommend this series!! I feel like I will be doing some rereading soon!
Have you read this series? Or maybe some of the authors other works? Who do you like/dislike? Why?
Up next – Before I read my next Christmas book, I need to read – A Short History of Canada for book club.
Where to even start! This book was never on my radar until recently mostly due to the fact that all I knew of it was that teens killed teens. Several people in my sphere mentioned it including my book club. On a whim I thought I’d listen to the audiobook. Having a 15 minute drive to work, gives me plenty of time for listening. Well, I finished it a few days ago. After mulling it over, I thought I’d lay out my thoughts.
So here goes!
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Genre – Dystopian, YA
Series – 1st in The Hunger Games series
Rating – PG-13 for violence
America no longer exists, and Panam has taken it’s place. Panam consists of twelve districts which are ruled by the Capitol. Most of the districts live in poverty and surrounded by rules & restrictions. Years ago the districts rebelled against the Capitol which resulted in district thirteen being obliterated. Now to remind the people of their submission, the capitol takes a boy and girl from each district and forces them to compete in a game to the death. Katniss loves her sister more then anything. Being from one of the poorest districts, Katniss has learned how to hunt and provide for her mom and sister. During the reaping, her sister’s name is called, and instead Katniss takes her sister’s place as tribute. She is whisked off to the Capitol with her fellow tribute, Peeta.
My Thoughts –
First off the narrator was fantastic! She gave each character a unique voice and captured their emotions well. I was impressed. For me the narrator can make or break a book. Even if the book was well written. So, liked that she did a good job.
Second, hats off to the author for being able to create a world grounded in our own, yet unique enough to be interesting. She had a way of writing that draws you into the story. For me this was more plot driven then character driven. The whole backstory and setting were well created. I liked how each district had it’s own resource. District 12 is somewhere in the Appalachian mountains which is a region that is fascinating.
Here is where it gets interesting, for a good chunk of the book I struggled to connect to any of the characters. My problem with Katniss was that she was so independent and strong that she was devoid of emotion. I mean really? She only loved Prim, who was kinda annoying. We do see the whole book from Katniss’s perspective so we get to know her really well. I just wished we could have softened some of her hardness. I’ll be honest I didn’t care for Peeta a whole lot. I know he is everyone’s favorite, but for this book, I liked Gale better as he was friends with Katniss from childhood.
Which lead us to the love triangle. While is isn’t horrible in this one, it is there. This trope has been way overused. Most of it was staged for the games which was different. But this will have repercussions later on for both of them. Katniss kinda was oblivious to the fact that Peeta actually liked her. Like really??? How did she not see that?
Peeta is nice to a fault. He loves people passionately, cares for his brothers, and has a humorous side. I just didn’t like him with Katniss. I did like Gale & Haymitch (not sure on spelling due to audiobook). Despite his being almost always drunk, Haymitch did have some good advice. Acted like a father to Katniss. Also, Rue! She was probably the best character in the whole book.
Let’s talk about the actual games.
To start I think the author used the games to show just how corrupt the government was. She shows that the crowds actually like it when a tribute dies. This is what the Capitol loves. Vanity, shows, and seeing just how far these kids will go to protect themselves. This is what Katniss and the others are up against. Even the President manipulates people. However, I did want Katniss to team up and make a stand that they won’t fight. Band together and make a statement. While she does try to take away there being a victor, I thought it was too little. So many lives could have been saved.
Do teens kill each other? Yes, they do. Do they want to? No, most of them are pawns and being forced into this.
It is an interesting story that is about love, survival, & self-sacrifice.
Content – No language which was surprising! Some innuendo, mostly just kisses tho. Violence is throughout the second half. Everything from a deadly hornet aka Tracker Jackers to sword wounds. Blood isn’t really talked about, but lots of characters die.
Did I enjoy the story? Yes, to an extent I did. It was creative and the plot held my attention. I do wish the characters maybe were portrayed a little better. Tweak a few things here & there. I think the violence was a device used by the author to show the corruption, not to say I do wish there was less though. Also, I would probably not hand this off to a young teen. As an adult, I think it gives you things to think about. But definitely didn’t deserve all the hype it got.
I have started the second book which in some respects I like better. Although Katniss can still be so oblivious. 😉
What are your thoughts on this book? Favorite characters? Movies vs book?
Up next – I’m finally sinking my teeth into Wayne Thomas Batson’s newest installation in the Myridian Constellation series, Mirror of Souls!