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?
That’s all for now!