Beartown by Fredrik Backman

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Published by Atria

Description:
The #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove returns with a dazzling, profound novel about a small town with a big dream—and the price required to make it come true.

People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. 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 girl 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. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

If you’ve followed my blog for long you know I have loved all of Fredrik Backman’s books, beginning with A Man Called Ove. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry was a little slow with a strange make believe between two of the main characters and I almost gave up on it. Let me tell you, NEVER give up on a Backman book! Always, always by the time you finish it’s wonderful and the story stays with you. No one writes characters quite like him. Beartown is another wonderful story. Hockey is a huge part of the story, I’m not into hockey so at first it was a little slow for me. But, I know a treasure is coming, so I keep reading. I have to say, several days after I finished the book it seems even sweeter. Does that ever happen to you?

A story about moral failure, the dangers of crowd mentality, and coming of age, but mostly about the fragility of human nature . Set in Sweden, the incredible imagery puts you there in this small Swedish town in love with hockey. I loved it!

Here are a few quotes I love from the book 

“When Amat was born, she lay with him on her chest in a narrow bed in a little hospital on the other side of the planet, no one but them in the whole world. A nurse had whispered the prayer in his mother’s ear back then – it is said to have been written on the wall above Mother Teresa’s bed – and the nurse hoped it would give the solitary woman strength and hope. Almost sixteen years later, the scrap of paper is still hanging on her son’s wall, the words mixed up, but she wrote them down as well as she could remember them:

If you are honest people may deceive you. Be honest anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway. All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow. Do good anyway.

The final lines his mother wrote on the sheet of paper on his wall read as follows: What you create, others can destroy. Create anyway. Because in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and anyone else anyway.

Immediately below that, written in red crayon in the determined handwriting of a  primary school student, it says: They say I’m to little to play. Become good player any way!

Another one: “David is at home, lying on his kitchen floor. He’s thirty-two years old and his red hair is so unruly it looks like it’s trying to escape from his head. He got teased about it when he was little; the other kids pretended to burn themselves on him in class. That was where he learned to fight. He didn’t have any friends, which was why he was able to devote all his time to hockey. He never bothered to acquire any other interests, which is how he’s managed to become the best.

I love the description of David’s hair!

Robbie Holt  –  “While he was growing up everyone kept telling him he was going to turn professional, and he believed them so intensely that when he didn’t make it, he took it to mean that everyone else had let him down, as if somehow it wasn’t his own fault. He wakes up in the mornings with the feeling that someone has stolen a better life from him, an unbearable phantom pain between what he should have been and what he actually became. Bitterness can be corrosive; it can rewrite your memories as if it were scrubbing a crime scene clean, until in the end you only remember what suits you of its causes.

And mother Kira and daughter Maya… Teenage years offer a brief period of equality after childhood, before the balance shifts and Kira become old enough to worry about her parents more than they do about her. soon Maya won’t be Kira’s little girl anymore, and then Kira will be come Maya’s little old mom. It doesn’t take a lot to be able to let go of your child. It takes everything.

Read a little about Fredrik Backman HERE.

Excellent read! Thanks to Atria and Netgalley for letting me read an advance copy of this wonderful book! Its publication date is April 25th. You can purchase a copy at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

And Now We Know…

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Biography/Memoir

A little while ago I told you about Paul Fronczak , a man who was abandoned as a toddler and thought to be, and raised as, the kidnapped son of Dora and Chester Fronczak, and the book coming out soon about his journey to the truth.  Well I got an advance copy from Netgalley last week and I couldn’t put the book down!  

The mystery of who Paul really is, why he was left in a stroller in front of McCrory’s and who his real family are. Plus the mystery of the biggest manhunt in Chicago history with the kidnapping of the one day old infant. Throw in the ancestry and DNA hunting and you have a fantastic puzzle and human interest tale.

The Foundling is a touching and inspiring story about a child lost and faith found, about the permanence of families and the bloodlines that define you, and about the emotional toll of both losing your identity and rediscovering who you truly are. It also pulls in the emotional toll taken on the Fronczak’s , losing a newborn to kidnap and raising a son your never quite sure is yours or not. Excellent read on many levels. Thank you to Howard Books for allowing me this advance copy! The book will be released on April 4, 2017. 

Purchase the book @ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Indie bound

A Sweet Novella

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and LongerAnd Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A very touching novella about losing a loved one to dementia. Having gone through that with my mom it was a little hard for me to read. But as always, Mr. Backman left you with a wonderful uplifting feeling. A beautiful story of love and loss.

This gem is available for purchase Tuesday, November 1, 2016.  Thanks to Atria Books for surprising me with a copy to preview. Fredrik Backman is one of my favorite authors. Looking forward to his next novel, Beartown, coming out next spring!

Peggy Ann

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

Publisher: Atria Books
Hardcover: 336

ISBN: 9781501142536

Description

Another wonderful tale from Fredrik Backman! Britt-Marie was a minor character in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and got front and center in this book. She is a wonderful character! Backman’s characters are quite quirky, but he nails human nature on the head.

The only thing I didn’t care for in this book was Mr. Backman had to make the seemingly obligatory nod to homosexuality/bisexuality. I’m really tired of that. It was only briefly mentioned and not explored in the character at all or any kind of an integral part of the story. It showed up for what it is ‘political correctness’ or whatever you call it. Disappointed at that.

A Backman book is like receiving a gift, a real gem. If you haven’t read one yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

You can purchase this book…
Simon & Schuster  (Official Publishers Website)
Amazon US

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion!
Peggy Ann

Bryant & May and the Secret Santa by Christopher Fowler

Series: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Story
Publisher: Alibi (Random House Publishing Group)
Genre: Mystery & Thriller
Format: ebook only
Length: Novella – 22 pages
ISBN: 9781101968970
My Source: Netgalley

‘The streets of London are covered in twinkling lights and freshly fallen snow, but the mood inside the Christmas department of Selfridges is decidedly less cheery. Bryant and May have arrived there to investigate the death of an eleven-year-old boy who inexplicably fled the store after a routine visit to Santa’s Wonderland. Their only clue is a torn scrap of blue cloth discovered at the scene. Now, Bryant and May are making a list of suspects, but they’d better check it twice to catch a shifty culprit in disguise.’


For Peculiar Crimes Unit fans this is a sweet short story for holiday reading. True to the series tradition of filling us in on true facts about real places, Bryant reminisced about going to Gamages Department Store as a child in Holbern Circus at Christmas. Those were the days!

 Read about Gamages and see pages from their famous Christmas Catalogue
Need a quick read to get you in the spirit? Get this little gem…

Amazon US
iTunes
Kobo
Penguin Random House

 

A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: April 7, 2015
ISBN: 9781492602026
Paperback 480 pages

My source: Netgalley

Author’s website

Synopsis:
For nearly 300 years, the mysterious journal of Jacobite exile Mary Dundas has lain unread-its secrets safe from prying eyes. Now, amateur codebreaker Sara Thomas has been hired by a once-famous historian to crack the journal’s cipher. But when she arrives in Paris, Sara finds herself besieged by complications from all sides: the journal’s reclusive owner, her charming Parisian neighbor, and Mary, whose journal doesn’t hold the secrets Sara expects.
It turns out that Mary Dundas wasn’t keeping a record of everyday life, but a first-hand account of her part in a dangerous intrigue. In the first wintry months of 1732, with a scandal gaining steam in London, driving many into bankruptcy and ruin, the man accused of being at its center is concealed among the Jacobites in Paris, with Mary posing as his sister to aid his disguise. When their location is betrayed, they’re forced to put a desperate plan in action, heading south along the road to Rome, protected by the enigmatic Highlander Hugh MacPherson.

As Mary’s tale grows more and more dire, Sara, too, must carefully choose which turning to take…to find the road that will lead her safely home.

Another wonderful time-slip historical novel from Susanna Kearsley! I have yet to read a book by her that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. In this book we have 2 protagonist, Sara in present day France and Mary in 1732 France.

We meet Mary Dundas, Scottish on her father’s side and French on her mother’s, through her diary written in 1732. Mary is recruited by her brother she hasn’t seen in many years to aid the Jacobite’s in getting a man safely to King James in exile in Rome. Mary’s Scottish father and brother’s had gone to help the Jacobite cause. She was left with an aunt and uncle in France for safety. She doesn’t remember anything of her Scottish heritage. After all these years her brother comes to get her to live with him and his family and asks her to do to this one thing. This begins her dangerous adventure. Her traveling companions include MacPherson, a mysterious, hard, Highlander who’s job it is to protect the small entourage. Is he foe or friend to Mary? A Scottish woman who is traveling as their maid and the man Mr. Thomson they are all protecting and taking to Rome to meet with Scottish King James. There is a bounty on his head and danger is everywhere. Through these difficult weeks that turn into months Mary learns much of the Scottish people and their fierce determination to restore King James to the throne, thus learning much about herself and her ancestors. I loved Mary and her bravery.

Thomson was a real person who was thought to have aided in a major financial deception of the time. And although Ms. Kearsley took liberties with the life of Mary Dundas she too was a real person of the time. Mary’s character was an example of the displaced second generation of Jacobites, born in exile and with no homeland of their own and MacPherson represented the Highlanders who left their homes to fight for King James. We learn a lot about how the King was sustained financially while he was a King with no land or subjects to support his kingship. Also the fierce pride and devotion of the Scottish people.

Quite different in this book is our other protagonist, Sara, she has Asperger’s Syndrome. Through the story of Sara’s efforts to decipher Mary’s journal we get a look into the world of someone with this syndrome and it is very enlightening! I loved watching Sara deal with the new relationships brought into her life by this job and maybe a new love! How she goes about breaking the cipher is interesting too. We get to visit many places in France through beautiful descriptions.

Lots of intrigue, suspicion, history, and romance. At the back of the book Ms. Kearsley included a short chapter on the history behind the tale and her resources. Excellent book, read it!

You can read the first two chapters here.

Purchase the book here

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this book in advance!

*Although this book took place in France and is written by a Canadian, I am counting it toward Read Scotland 2015 as the story is centered on Scottish history and Scottish people.

Peggy Ann