Before She Knew Him by Peter Swanson: Book Review

Before She Knew Him  by Peter Swanson
Published March 5, 2019 by William Morrow
320 Pages

From Publisher: an exquisitely chilling tale of a young suburban wife with a history of psychological instability whose fears about her new neighbor could lead them both to murder . . .

My Thoughts: I should probably apologize in advance for this extremely vague review BUT this is most definitely a book you don’t want to know much about going in. Trust me. Also, I loved/hated this book so rather than be super confusing with my details as to why I’ll just give you a quick overview.

As I said, I loved this book so much…up until I didn’t.  For much of the book,  I couldn’t wait to pick this back up when life intervened. But then a plot development happened and I’ll admit, I got pretty mad.

Hen and her husband Lloyd are new in the neighborhood and have been invited to their neighbor’s house for a party. When Hen notices a statue on the shelf in their den, she’s convinced it belonged to a boy who was murdered years ago. A case Hen had previously been completely obsessed with. You see, Hen has her own mental health issues but she’s determined to find out if her neighbor Matthew is a killer. 

I absolutely love how Swanson writes in your face psychopaths and mentally unstable people who may or may not be reliable. Truly, he’s brilliant at it. I found the fact that he shined a bright light on these characters and put the crazy front and center so  refreshing. There’s no beating around the bush about who’s not playing with a full deck. And I was totally happy about that.  In fact, I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to see how it all played out. Until one major plot point left me feeling manipulated on such a level that rather than feeling like oh you totally got me I felt angry about what I believed to be pure gimmick. This had been such an intricate, interesting story up until that point. When I read thrillers I don’t mind being kept in the dark and being surprised by the resolution (in fact I prefer it) but I don’t want to feel tricked by the author’s use of a gimmick and that’s how this one left me feeling. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give a single detail away. Read this for yourself and see what you think, then message me to discuss. Overall,  this was an addictive, page turning read but I was disappointed in the end. 

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

Advertisements

The Last Act by Brad Parks: Book Review

The Last Act by Brad Parks
Published March 12, 2019 by Dutton Books
384 Pages

From Publisher: Struggling stage actor Tommy Jump is offered the role of a lifetime: $150,000 for a six-month acting gig. With a newly pregnant fiancee depending on him, it’s an opportunity he can’t refuse, even though the offer comes from the strangest employer imaginable: the FBI.

My Thoughts: When I saw the blurb for this book I knew I had to read it. I can’t seem to resist book descriptions with buzzwords like FBI, undercover, prison, the cartels, money laundering etc. Sign me up! The great news: Brad Parks delivered a cinematic, action filled story I couldn’t put down.

Tommy Jump is offered an acting deal he feels he can’t pass up. The FBI want him to go undercover in a low security prison to make contact with Mitchell Dupree, a banker who has been convicted of laundering millions for the New Colima cartel and who supposedly still has one ace in the hole that could take that cartel down. Problem is: he’s not about to give it to the FBI. I have to say, I really liked Tommy right from the start. He seemed feisty, level headed and intelligent but at the same time, he was letting the idea of all that money cloud his judgment because he forgot how these things usually go…if a deal like this one seems too good to be true…it probably is.

Parks sets up the opening scenes and Tommy’s arrival in prison brilliantly. I’m super picky when it comes to details in thrillers. I like things to be fast paced and tension filled but I also want it realistic with all the i’s dotted and t’s crossed and this story was all that and more. With short chapters, a breakneck pace, and dialogue that was so spot on that I could picture this perfectly in my head as a movie, I finished this in a day. I really hope the film rights for this have been snatched up!

 

**More exciting News**  Brad Park’s novel Closer Than You Know (March 2018) is available today in Paperback!!

Thanks to Dutton Books via Netgalley for my copy in exchange for an honest review 

Mini Review Tuesday: Never Tell, Stalker & The Last Romantics

Hi Everyone! Sorry for the lack of posts these past couple weeks. I’ll be honest, I’ve been having a hard time keeping up with the blog as well as social media and reading on top of life! It’s a lot and I’m trying to figure out what the best platform is for me to share my reviews and still be able to connect and interact with other readers which has been my main purpose all along. Lately, I’m finding that it’s super fast for me to get a review posted quickly on my Instagram which you can find (here). and/or my Goodreads (here).  I’m regularly posting my current reads on both as well as quick thoughts and book recommendations in my Instagram stories. I tend to post all my audiobook recommendations there right as I’m listening to them. All this is to say, if you aren’t seeing posts from me here as regularly as before and you’re interested in what I’m reading and reviewing, try those platforms – I hope you’ll follow me at one or both! Now, on to some amazing reads…

 

Never Tell  by Lisa Gardner
Published: Feb 19 by Dutton
419 Pages

From Publisher: A man is dead, shot three times in his home office. But his computer has been shot twelve times, and when the cops arrive, his pregnant wife is holding the gun.

My Thoughts: Friends, Lisa Gardner just keeps getting better and better. I’ve been a loyal reader of her DD Warren series for years but I’ve also read every standalone book she’s ever wrote and I have to say, there’s NO author out there writing at this high a level book after book. Never Tell has continuing characters DD Warren, her husband Alex, partners Phil and Neil and her new protege/confidential informant Flora Dane. Despite this being part of a series, I do think you could read this as a standalone and be perfectly happy. 

The story is told in alternating perspectives from Flora, DD, and Evie. Evie starts off the story when she enters her home and finds her husband shot to death and she proceeds to take the gun. Why? You’ll have to read because that’s just the tip of a very big iceberg. DD is the investigating detective and she enlists Flora’s help. Flora’s perspective gives us a much more in depth look at her past time with her kidnapper Jacob Ness and we get to understand so much more about why she is the way she is. The pace is fast, the chapters short, and the plot intricate. There are webs upon webs upon webs to be untangled and deciphered and I loved every minute of trying…to no avail. This one’s so well plotted my advice is just sit back and enjoy the read. If you enjoy thrillers with intricately plotted mysteries this book’s for you! You really can’t go wrong with any of Lisa’s books but a few of my past favorites are Gone, Love You More, The Perfect Husband and Catch Me

Thanks to Dutton via Netgalley for my copy

******
Stalker  by Lars Kepler
Published Feb 5, 2019 by Knopf
560 Pages
From Publisher: Detective Joona Linna — recently returned from compassionate leave — reunites with hypnotist Erik Maria Bark in a search for a seemingly unassailable sadistic killer.
My Thoughts: This was such a fantastic thriller! The opening scenes are chilling to say the least. Someone is stalking women from afar, video taping them as they go about their lives in their homes and then sending the video to police minutes before the each woman is murdered. Needless to say, the police don’t have time to figure out who the women are before they’re killed. This storyline runs parallel to another involving Joona Linna, the main detective from the series. Joona is not at his best but he’s called in to assist the new detective in charge, Margot, who’s very pregnant and very dedicated to stopping this killer. Joona also reconnects with his friend, the hypnotist Erik, which makes for an interesting dynamic. Everything about this story worked for me, the pace was excellent, the characterization strong, and the mystery a top notch whodunit. I didn’t have it figured out that’s for sure. I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!
Thanks to Knopf via Netgalley for my copy
******

The Last Romantics  by Tara Conklin
Published Feb 5, 2019 by William Morrow
368 Pages

From Publisher: When the renowned poet Fiona Skinner is asked about the inspiration behind her iconic work, The Love Poem, she tells her audience a story about her family and a betrayal that reverberates through time.

My Thoughts: I really loved this book! This family saga that centered on 4 siblings who were left to fend for themselves during what they called “the pause” after their father dies and their mother retreats to her bedroom for several years was so well written. We follow siblings Renee, Joe, Caroline and Fiona from childhood through old age which gave me the feeling that I truly knew these characters as real people. I love stories set over decades!

I flew through the first half, finding Fiona’s narration interesting yet with a melancholy flow. I did find that the middle dragged for me with a few too many shifts in time and perspectives that felt abrupt at times. The final third was fantastic and left me in tears. Ultimately, this story was, for me, a meditation on love, despair, resilience, family, and forgiveness.

Thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy 

Nonfiction November: Nonfiction with Fiction Book Pairings

Nonfiction November is a month dedicated to reading and sharing lots of Nonfiction reading gems! Each week a different blogger…Katie at Doing Dewey, Rennie at What’s Nonfiction?, Julie at Julz Reads, Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness, and this week, Sarah at Sarah’s Bookshelves host a fun topic. This week’s topic, Fiction/Nonfiction book pairings is one I enjoyed putting together so I hope you find some new book ideas to add to your TBR’s. If you’d like to share your own book pairings, head over to Sarahsbookshelves  and link up!

UNDERCOVER DRAMA & SUSPENSE  

   

I love books detailing the world of undercover cops or agents of some kind. When I came across American Radical (My review) I knew I’d love it and I did. In fact, it’s one of my favorite non-fiction reads ever. Filled with suspense and intrigue, I often had to remind myself that it was all true (it reads like the best fiction)…which was scary, actually, considering it’s about terrorism against Americans. Sirens (My Review ) focuses on a very flawed undercover detective and was itself a page turner. I especially loved that there were TWO mysteries I couldn’t solve in this story!

THE DRAMA & SCANDAL OF DISGRACED SPORTS STARS 

   

This summer I talked about how much I (surprisingly) enjoyed Tiger Woods (My Review). The author took a story I thought I knew and really dissected, investigated, and offered a riveting account of the rise and fall of Tiger Woods. I loved it. In Play Dirty ,which I read years ago (2007), Griff Burkett is a disgraced former Cowboys quarterback who gets involved with a wealthy Texas couple. What follows after he agrees to a rather unconventional agreement with them involves secrecy and murder! I used to read every book Sandra Brown published but for some reason over the last few years I haven’t picked one of hers up. This post has reminded me how much I liked her. Have you read any recent Sandra Brown’s? If so, give me your suggestions on what to pick up!

A MOTHER’S CONNECTION WITH HER KIDS IS FOREVER 

   

I don’t often re-read books but The Bright Hour (My Review) is one I’ll re-read every year. The story and writing was just exceptional and is a book that reminds you to appreciate your health and life. I Liked My Life (My Review) is one of those books that you think you have a grasp on by reading the synopsis but actually ends up being so much more than expected. Maddy, the mother in the story, narrates her part of the story from the Afterlife as she tries to intervene with what’s happening with her family. Filled with humor, drama, and mystery, I highly recommend this debut novel. Both of these books are just fantastic!

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS VERSUS SERIAL KILLERS 

   

Don’t be surprised if you see I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (My Review) on my top 10 reads of 2018 in a few weeks. This book was everything I look for and love in my crime reads. Michelle McNamara, a journalist who I liked and rooted for, relentlessly tracks the Golden State Killer. It was chilling, well paced, and just downright scary in parts. I read it in the spring but every time I go to the mailbox at night I still think of it, wondering if someone could be hiding and watching. I won’t forget this story! Pierced  (My Review) is the perfect fiction twin for I’ll Be Gone In the Dark. It’s set in Norway and follows investigative crime reporter Henning Juul who tracks the killers who tried to kill him but succeeded in killing his son. There’s layers to this story and to Henning who I really loved and connected with. If you love mysteries and haven’t read Thomas Enger you’re missing out!

What are you reading and loving for NonFiction November? 

2 Must Read October Releases: One Day in December by Josie Silver & The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton

One Day in December by Josie Silver
Publication: October 16, 2018 by Broadway Books
416 Pages
Affiliate LinkBuy on Amazon

Short Summary: Laurie has a case of insta-love through a bus window, spends close to a year trying to find him, only to have him show up one day as her best friend’s new boyfriend

My Thoughts: I know a lot of people hear instant-love and automatically write a book off but I really hope you’ll give this one a chance. Whereas another recent love story, Ghosted (My review) didn’t work for me, this one completely did. I would describe the initial “love at first sight” as more of a “wow, I feel an attraction/connection with you” but they can’t even speak to each other because one is on a bus and the other is outside at the stop. Then, just as quickly, the bus is gone, resulting in a missed opportunity for both Laurie and Jack. To me, this was believable.

Time goes by and despite Laurie’s attempts, she’s never able to track down her mystery bus man. During this initial set up we get to know Laurie and her best friend Sarah and I immediately loved both of them and their friendship. You see, the author deftly explores female friendship along with the story’s inherent dilemma of what happens if the love of your life shows up as your very best friend’s new boyfriend. I know this may sound similar to Something Borrowed  by Emily Giffin but it’s really nothing like it. Silver has put her own spin on a familiar storyline, taking me down so many unexpected paths that I couldn’t stop reading! And I didn’t.  I read this in one sitting, laughing, crying and in the end slowing down because I didn’t want it to end. I have a feeling you might be seeing this on my top 10 books of 2018 list.  Yes, it was that good!

Thanks to Broadway Books via Netgalley for my copy 

**********

 

The Craftsman by Sharon Bolton
Publication: Oct 16, 2018 by Minotaur Books
432 Pages
Affiliate LinkThe Craftsman

From Publisher: Florence Lovelady’s career was made when she convicted coffin-maker Larry Grassbrook of a series of child murders 30 years ago in a small village in Lancashire. Like something out of a nightmare, the victims were buried alive. But now, decades later, he’s dead, and events from the past start to repeat themselves.

My Thoughts: Sharon Bolton is an auto-buy author for me, I don’t care what she writes, I’m buying and reading! That being said, I was a smidge hesitant about this one only because I knew it contained a hint of the supernatural and witches. Trust in Sharon Bolton, that’s all I can say because I loved this story.

One thing that really made this story for me was the fact that Bolton has created a multidimensional character with Florence Lovelady. We first meet her in 1999 when she’s returned for the funeral of Larry, the serial killer/creepy coffin maker whom she arrested and had convicted of the murders of 3 young kids in 1969. Can I just say, the scene involving one of these kids being buried alive was not only heartbreaking, but also one of the most uncomfortable, claustrophobic feeling scenes I’ve ever read. Luckily, Bolton doesn’t drag it out but it was enough to cause me to hold my breath.

The story continues by going back to 1969, allowing us to get to know Florence as she faces the many difficulties of being a female detective in the good old boys network of the police. The puzzle is intricate, the suspects many, and I was right there rooting for Florence as she sorted through the intricate web of layers to these crimes. I’ll be honest, the further I got in the story the more I had myself convinced I knew what had happened and I was a little disappointed that this was going to be the first Bolton story I had figured out. Yes, I was feeling smug. Then came some stuff…some happenings… and by the end I wasn’t so smug anymore. Sharon Bolton fooled me again and I’m SO happy she did. Seriously, if you enjoy mysteries, you have to read this book! Then go check out her backlist. You won’t regret it.

 

November Road By Lou Berney: Book Review

November Road  by Lou Berney
Publication: October 9, 2018 By William Morrow
336 Pages
Buy On Amazon

From Publisher: Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America

My Thoughts: Ever since reading and loving The Long and Faraway Gone (My Review), I’ve been waiting on Lou Berney’s next book. I’ll come right out and tell you, this book was terrific and did not disappoint. I love that it was set in the time period of the 1960s, especially with the Kennedy Assassination as a backdrop. The way Berney writes, you just feel you’re there. The story begins in New Orleans with Frank Guindry, a handsome, shady, arrogant street lieutenant for mob boss Carlos Marcello. Frank has assumed he’s Carlo’s right hand man- untouchable –  and maybe he was but that was before he knew too much about a certain assassination. Let the cat-and-mouse chase begin.

The story alternates perspectives between Frank and Charlotte, a mom who makes an impulsive decision to run away from her home and husband with her two young girls. Two people escaping from different lives, running from different people, will cross paths and…well of course you’ll have to read but don’t worry there’s plenty of drama, conflict, potential romance, and possible redemption to keep you interested along the way.

There’s so much I loved about this story but what really stood out to me were two things: the unbelievably realistic  dialogue…it read like a screenplay (this would make a great movie) and the flawed yet likable characters. While I didn’t agree with many things Frank and Charlotte did throughout the story, I found myself still rooting for each of them. I also loved how Berney explored the layers of redemption, especially in terms of Frank but also for Charlotte as well. If you like your reads with a little bit of everything, this one’s for you.

Many thanks to William Morrow via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: A Must Read Summer Debut

Where The Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens
Published August 14, 2018 by G. P. Putnam’s Sons
384 Pages
Buy From Amazon

From the Publisher: For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild; unfit for polite society. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, aka the “Marsh Girl”

*******

My Overall ThoughtsWhere the Crawdads Sing is a book you’ve probably been seeing everywhere lately whether it’s been blowing up your Instagram feed, hitting some of the late summer must read lists and recently making People Magazine’s Best Book Of the Week pick! If you’ve wondered if it’s possibly as good as everyone is making it out to be I’m here to give my two cents worth and say yes it is, so run, don’t walk, to buy or borrow it now.

What Initially Drew Me In
I was intrigued by the fact that the storyline involved a possible murder, an isolated “marsh girl” and the two men who get wrapped up in her world. Could this also be a love story? (hint: yes!) Funny thing was, when I really got into the story which alternates between 1969 and the 1950s, I almost forgot about the murder mystery part as I was so invested in Kya’s story.

Atmospheric Writing
Owen’s writing created a feeling of actually being in the marsh which truly became its own character . I felt the suspense of wondering how this little girl, abandoned by her entire family, was going to survive on her own. The townspeople saw her as “white trash” and, not surprisingly, did little to help her. There was, however, bright spots amongst the cruelty, one of them being a local man named Jumpin who was my favorite character after Kya. Speaking of Kya, if you’re at all worried that she’s a “weird” character who doesn’t want to connect with others, don’t be as her desire for companionship and to be cared about by others came through so clearly.

“The lonely became larger than she could hold. She wished for someone’s voice, presence, touch, but wished more to protect her heart.”

And possibly my favorite passage in the book…

“Sometimes she heard night-sounds she didn’t know or jumped from lightning too close, but whenever she stumbled, it was the land who caught her. Until at last, at some unclaimed moment, the heart-pain seeped away like water into sand. Still there, but deep. Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother.”

This is debut writing! Amazing!

A Flawless Second Half
I loved how Owens clearly combined her love of nature writing with her exploration of a little girl coming-of-age within the natural world. As for the mystery, I found it to be perfectly paced. The author hands us bits and pieces slowly, allowing this storyline to eventually merge with the past one and then really pick up speed. I found the last third of the book especially riveting as I couldn’t wait to find out if my theories were correct. They weren’t which I loved. As for the ending, I can honestly say I didn’t see one part coming and it left me a little stunned. 

You’ll be seeing this one on my top 10 reads of the year list, it’s just that good. I can’t wait for Delia Owen’s next book, I hope she writes fast! 

Thanks to G. P. Putnam’s Sons via Netgalley for my copy

 

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published months or years ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

My PICK this week is…

20663088

 

Published Feb 2015 By William Morrow 

My Rating: 5/5 stars

In the summer of 1986, two tragedies rocked Oklahoma City. Six movie-theater employees were killed in an armed robbery, while one inexplicably survived. Then, a teenage girl vanished from the annual State Fair. Neither crime was ever solved.

Twenty-five years later, the reverberations of those unsolved cases quietly echo through survivors’ lives. A private investigator in Vegas, Wyatt’s latest inquiry takes him back to a past he’s tried to escape—and drags him deeper into the harrowing mystery of the movie house robbery that left six of his friends dead.

******

The interesting thing that drew me to this novel was the lettering of the title. That may sound weird but I remember scrolling through Bookbub’s daily deals one day and the style of this title as well as the title itself just caught my eye. I find it so interesting to  think about what draws us in or repels us as far as titles and book covers go. I had never heard of this author but once I read the book’s description I was sold. I loved the idea of two mysteries being set in the summer of the late 1980’s. I have to tell you, not only is this an excellent crime story, it’s beautifully written.  The characters and setting felt real as his writing puts you there, in that movie theatre and at the county fair.  I really believe you’ll be hard pressed to put this one down once you start reading as Berney’s writing compels you to want to find out what happened that long ago summer. He expertly shifts perspectives between Wyatt and Julianna as well as between past and present. This book was one of my top 5 favorites of 2015 and I’d say if you love crime fiction with intriguing mysteries and you haven’t yet read this one, I think you’ll want to put this at the top of your TBR.

HAPPY READING!

More Throwback Thursday Picks Around the Blogosphere…

Jill at Jill’s Book Cafe

Deanna at DeesRadReads and Reviews

Amanda at Literary Weaponry

Susan at Susan Loves Books

Cathy at What Cathy Read Next

Lynne at Fictionophile

Annie at The Misstery

Mischenko at Read Rant Rock and Roll

Laurie at Cozy Nook Books

Laura at Snazzy Books

Holly at Dressed to Read

 

THROWBACK THURSDAY PICK OF THE WEEK

throwbackthursday

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

18007535

 

Published Feb. 2014 By Doubleday

My Rating: 4/5 stars

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

******

I’m so glad I haven’t featured this book on TBT yet because now, with Halloween approaching and everyone putting together their creepy Oct TBR’s, is the PERFECT time to add this atmospheric mystery to your upcoming reads list. My book club read this a couple years ago and it was the first book by Jennifer McMahon I had read and boy was I impressed. Her ability to take you back to 1908 to that spooky farmhouse where murder is in the air and old legends abound was just spot on. From the opening chapter I was hooked! McMahon’s storytelling has a gothic, ghost story like feel to it and the dual timelines were equally eerie in creating and maintaining the thrills and mystery. I’m not always a fan of past and present timelines but I thought in this book they were seamless. Although I read this one a couple years ago, I still remember the feeling I had while reading because I don’t read too many scary books but this one definitely gave me the creeps. I think it would make the perfect hide under your favorite cozy blanket by the fireplace read this Autumn season.

I’ve added Jennifer McMahon to my must read author list after enjoying this one and Burntown  which I read in the spring. If you’ve read and loved any of her other books please leave me a comment and let me know which ones!

I’d love to hear what’s on your Fall TBR’s…anything creepy for the month of Oct? 

HAPPY READING!

I began this Throwback Thursday meme as a way to share some of my old favorites as well as sharing books that I’m FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on my TBR list while I continue to pile more titles on top of them:)! I like that these older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere.

If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board, you’re welcome to use my pic as well. If you’d like to link back to me that’d be great as I really try my best to include everyone who’s participating week by week at the bottom of my post so all my readers can enjoy all the awesome Throwback picks!

My Pick This week is….

REVIEW: BEARTOWN By Fredrik Backman

33413128

Published April 25th By Simon & Schuster

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. It is a town that has lost everything except it’s love of hockey the junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals;  they actually have a chance to win.  All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young teenager traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. 

******

When several of my fellow bloggers and one very good non-blogging reading friend, all whose opinions I very much trust, have raved about this book then I just had no choice but to see what all the fuss was about! I say fuss because I have very much resisted reading this book. You see, I’ve tried two of Backman’s other books…A Man Called Ove went into my Did Not Finish pile and My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She’s Sorry, which was a book club read, didn’t work on any level for me. Beartown, however, was like reading a book by a completely different author and I mean that as the highest compliment…this book was unputdownable and completely addictive!

What starts out, on the surface, as a book about a small town obsessed with hockey will, I promise you, turn into so much more. I’m going to be honest, the first half of the book is what you might call a character/setting set up and what I mean by that is the author takes you to Beartown…you are there in the frigid outdoors of a small isolated town in the forest as kids exhaust themselves playing hockey in an effort to not only make something of themselves and their future but also to save the town. These kids are aware of what a victory in the semi-finals means for Beartown and they will literally use their blood, sweat and tears to try to make it happen. As a result, we get to know some remarkable characters and their parents…Amat, Benji, Bobo, Maya, Ramona (seriously the love I have for this lady!) and others who infiltrated my heart and mind, and that’s just what Backman wants to happen because by the time the second half of the book rolls around, I was so obsessed with these characters, this town, and this story that…you guessed it…I was up until at least 2:00am reading!

I won’t tell you anything else about the plot except to say that of course there’s a pivotal, life altering, tragic event that happens that not everyone you’ve grown to love will recover from and the way Backman has this play out in the second half of the book is brilliant. I was so captivated by the writing and the story I didn’t care that I lost significant amounts of sleep for 2 nights…it’s just that good! And if you’ve read other reviews and/or blurbs about this book you might know that it’s often compared to Friday Night Lights which, in my humble opinion, is one of the greatest tv shows EVER, and it most definitely reminded me of that small Texas football obsessed town. Now, David (hockey coach) was no Coach Taylor but there were other characters who reminded me of Tim Riggins, Tami, Buddy and Landry no doubt about it and I loved it all the more for these similarities.  “Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose…” Ah, miss you Coach Taylor:)

If you’re at all on the fence about this book I say give it a try, you might be like me and end up pulling a couple late nighters and making space for this one on your top reads of 2017 list!