Du Jour

A Man Called Ove

A Man Called ove.jpg

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.

Whispering in French

Whispering in French

Summary:

Award-winning romance author Sophia Nash makes her women’s fiction debut with a beautifully crafted, funny, and life-affirming story set in the Atlantic seaside region of France, as one woman returns to France to sell her family home and finds an unexpected chance to start over—perfect for fans of “Le Divorce” and “The Little Paris Bookshop”.

Home is the last place Kate expected to find herself…

As a child, Kate Hamilton was packed off each summer to her grandfather’s ivy-covered villa in southern France. That ancestral home, named Marthe Marie, is now crumbling, and it falls to Kate—regarded as the most responsible and practical member of her family—to return to the rugged, beautiful seaside region to confront her grandfather’s debts and convince him to sell.

Kate makes her living as a psychologist and life coach, but her own life is in as much disarray as Marthe Marie. Her marriage has ended, and she’s convinced that she has failed her teenaged daughter, Lily, in unforgiveable ways. While delving into colorful family history and the consequences of her own choices, Kate reluctantly agrees to provide coaching to Major Edward Soames, a British military officer suffering with post-traumatic stress. Breaking through his shell, and dealing with idiosyncratic locals intent on viewing her as an Americanized outsider, will give Kate new insight into who—and where—she wants to be. The answers will prove as surprising as the secrets that reside in the centuries-old villa.

Witty and sophisticated, rich in history and culture, Sophia Nash’s novel vividly evokes both its idyllic French setting and the universal themes of self-forgiveness and rebuilding in a story as touching as it is wise.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours and I voluntarily chose to write a review.

Review:

I really enjoy books where the character goes through a transformational change for the better and identifies ways to have a little contentment in their lives.  Kate is a mess, no way around that, and is holding things together by a thread.  As the sole voice of reason trying to get her family back on track, she finds it’s her family is who gets her back on track.

This book was evocative of the culture, region and weather of the area, which made the book deeper than a superficial book on a chick who become a better person.  Some of my favorite moments are between Kate and Edward where it’s a fight for the truth, and nothing but the truth, no matter how painful that may be.  I found the book had me thinking deeper than expected and would recommend this one to anyone.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Folks who like books with characters who go through transformational changes and find contentment in the process.

Mistborn (Mistborn #1)

Mistborn

Summary:

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin, 16. The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend, but can Kelsier's thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back color to their world?(Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

Brandon Sanderson is an author that I’ve managed to read around for a long time.  When I read almost exclusively high fantasy, he burst into the scene and I wasn’t so sure about the new author taking up space in the bookstore.  Now that I’ve finally read “Mistborn,” I wonder why I’ve bothered to wait so long!  “Mistborn” has a new take on magic that has limitations and a foundation in science (to a degree) and has fundamental limitations.  I have always found world building with limitations to magic to be more realistic to me as I imagine that’s how it would work in the ‘real’ world.

Vin, Kelsier, and the others in the crew are easy to relate to and I was quickly sucked into their world.  I love that Kelsier always has another trick up his sleeve and that Vin comes into her own with all the missteps that comes with that.  This is a book with many, many layers, but was unwrapped slowly so the reader comes to understand another aspect of Allomancy throughout the story rather than having ALL of the mysteries revealed immediately.  I’d highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next in the series!

Warning: Contains repeated graphic violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fantasy fans looking for something with a new and interesting twist on “magic” based in the physical world.

Want to read the whole series?

  • The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5)
  • The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)
  • The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)
  • Secret History (Mistborn #3.5)
  • The Allow of Law (Mistborn #4)
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5)
  • The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6)
  • The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7)

Palm Trees in the Snow

Palm Trees in the Snow

Summary: 

When Clarence of Rabaltué discovers a series of old letters from her father’s past, she begins to doubt everything she thought she knew about her once-noble family. Her father and his brother worked in the colony of Fernando Po, but these letters tell a different story than the tales of life in Africa that made it to the dinner table. Clarence has no idea what really went on during their time at the cocoa plantations—or why no one in her family has ever returned to the island in all the years since. But the letters suggest that a great love story is buried beneath the years of silence.

Setting out from her home in Spain’s snowy mountains, Clarence makes the same journey across the sea that her uncle and father traveled before her. There, she unlocks the painful secrets her family has hidden in the rich African soil. But what she discovers may also be the key to awakening her own listless heart. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a book that I was interested in to understand some of the colonial period for Spain.  Then, I was more interested in understanding who did what, and how the mystery aligned within the family.  Ultimately, however Gabas delivered so much more than a simple reveal, but instead a story infused with love, politics and the complex situations forced upon the family.  I loved that the great reveal ended up being much more complex than I was guessing and that we got a deep dive with both generations of the family.

One of the other things I really appreciated in the book is the unflinching perspectives about colonialism, race, dynamics on the island and where loyalties lie.  Often, it feels that retrospective views on situations are over-simplified and don’t do the country justice.  “Palm Trees in the Snow” gives an authentic view of why people would have conflicting views and, ultimately, created political turmoil for those caught in the middle of it.

Warning: Contains sexual content and violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Highly recommended! Anyone willing to dive into the complexities of multi-generational families and interacting with the colonial legacy.