A Man Called Ove

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Summary:

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness.  So, when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” and “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand”, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is a book that made me laugh as much as it made me cry.  There are so many things that Ove presents so very matter-of-fact that does make you wonder why things are simpler in life.  The book overall is a bit gloomy, but not in a depressing way.  Instead, the tone of the book is set my Ove himself and he tends to be a bit of a cynic. 

In book club, we all had trouble articulating just why we loved the book so much and I think it’s because we all identified with different aspects of the characters.  Although overall about Ove, the book is also about transitions in life and how people adapt to the challenges they’re presented with.  This was one of the few books that had me staying up extremely past my bedtime to finish and I’d highly recommend to anyone.

Warning: Contains violence, references to suicide and will make you cry.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone who can appreciate a cranky old man in their life.

Captain Marvel: Earth's Mightiest Hero Vol. 1

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Summary:

Carol Danvers has a new codename and is determined to prove herself the best of the best! She's forging a new future for herself as Captain Marvel, but finds that she still can't walk away from a challenge from her past! It's a firefight in the sky as the Banshee Squadron debut - but who are the Prowlers, and where has Carol seen them before? Witness her in blazing battlefield action that just may change the course of history! Then, the Avengers' new Captain Marvel meets their old one - Monica Rambeau! But what's Monica's problem? Can they resolve it before a threat from the ocean depths attacks? (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a random pickup for the second-hand store, but I really enjoyed it! I wasn’t familiar with the character of Carol Danvers so it was interesting to see a different one of the Avengers and hear some of the abilities associated with her.  I loved that she was a badass heroine with some awesome female mentors in her past as well.

If I had the chance, I’d definitely pick up additional books in the series in the future!

Warning: Contains violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Comic book fans!

Tower of Dawn (Throne of Glass #6)

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Summary:

Chaol Westfall has always defined himself by his unwavering loyalty, his strength, and his position as the Captain of the Guard. But all of that has changed since the glass castle shattered, since his men were slaughtered, since the King of Adarlan spared him from a killing blow, but left his body broken.

His only shot at recovery lies with the legendary healers of the Torre Cesme in Antica-the stronghold of the southern continent's mighty empire. And with war looming over Dorian and Aelin back home, their survival might lie with Chaol and Nesryn convincing its rulers to ally with them.

But what they discover in Antica will change them both-and be more vital to saving Erilea than they could have imagined.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a beast of a book, but I didn’t find it dragging on or repetitive.  There are some parts that perhaps could have been shortened, but overall I enjoyed the character development and the slower pace of relationships building.  Chaol and Yrene deserved the time to develop more as authentic characters as themselves rather than the side character they somewhat were relegated to up to this point.  (And if you hadn’t read the novellas you wouldn’t know Yrene at all!).  It was a bit of fresh air after the intensity of Aelin and crew in the series as well.  I went to an author event with Sarah J. Maas and she actually said she found it therapeutic to have a bit of a different change of pace for her as well!

Two of the things I really liked about the book was Maas’ thoughtfulness in the world-building and creating a place that had a taste of authentic history interspersed with the fantasy world.  She also made some very conscientious choices in disability representation.  Diversity in writing shouldn’t be something that needs to be called out and I appreciate that Maas always makes it a matter-of-fact item rather than something that’s supposed to be novel and controversial.

All in all, this was a fantastic continuation of the series and I cannot wait for the final book in the series!  Considering I wasn’t sold on the idea of this “distraction” book, there are a lot of things that are tied together well and set up a lot for the finale!

Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of the series otherwise I think you’d be fairly lost

Want to read the whole series?

When Breath Becomes Air

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Summary:

For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed," as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. 

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir. 

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he wrote. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'" “When Breath Becomes Air” is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a book that reminded me a lot of “The Opposite of Loneliness” where I was overly-aware that my perception of the book was influenced the knowledge that the author was going to die by the end.  That being said, I found this book incredibly poignant and a fantastic reminder of what are the most important things in life.  Thought you can’t live every day like it’s your last (contrary to the saying), the book is a good grounding in what is most important in life.

This was a book that I finished in three sit downs because despite my best intentions, it was one I couldn’t put down and I was desperate to know what happened.  While unsettling, it’s also fascinating to hear what other people do when they know that their time is soon to run out.  Though it left me in tears, it’s a book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for a reminder of what’s important in life.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone looking for a reminder of what’s important in life!