A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

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51dqbc7hcal-_sx320_bo1204203200_Ove is a no nonsense type of man. He wakes up at the same time every day, makes sure everything is in order—not only in his house but around the neighborhood, as well—and makes sure everyone is following the counsel rules. And on this particular day the only thing he wants to do is die. But this is the one day things don’t go exactly to plan. And maybe that is for the better.

Similar to some of the other books I read this year, A Man Called Ove was a roller coaster ride of emotions. It was one of those books where the cover blurbs of “you’ll laugh, you’ll cry” were 100% spot on. At first, Ove does not seem like the type of character you could come to like: he’s grumpy, rude, and opinionated. But there was something about him that made me love his character. While he’s never afraid to tell people what he thinks, he’s not in your face about it. He’s quiet, and mostly keeps to himself. He is a main character that is easy to cheer for and you want to see him have a happy ending.

The only thing I found to be tedious is the amount of characters involved in the story. Although they all seemed important in their own way, I wondered whether they were all necessary. Some I felt didn’t really have a big part in the story and were kind of just there. In for a second, and out the next. I feel like maybe one or two characters could have been cut or combined, but wonder how much that would affect the whole story overall. It was still a well written and entertaining book, one that I’ve recommended to almost everyone who asks me for a book recommendation.

A Man Called Ove was also adapted into a Swedish film, which I found to be just as good as the book. Although I personally felt that some things were glossed over in the movie, but my husband said he was able to follow along easily. Some parts at the end were slightly different as well, but not so different that it was off putting. However, I would still recommend reading the book prior to seeing the movie.

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Number9Dream by David Mitchell

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6820Years after his sister’s death and his mother’s breakdown, Eiji Miyake decides to travel to Tokyo to find his father who abandoned them long ago. As he tries to figure out how to meet with his father without his controlling step-mother finding out, Eiji continuously runs into bad luck and unfortunate circumstances. Will he be able to find the answers to the growing number of questions that plague him, or will Eiji be left even more lost than when he began?

By finishing this book I can now say that I have read every book that David Mitchell has written. And it did not disappoint.

Number9Dream was probably one of Michell’s weirder novels, written as dreams and reality weaving in and out of one another. But it wasn’t even just the dreams that were the weird part. The circumstances Eiji found himself in while in Tokyo were bizarre and would leave anyone disoriented and wondering what was happening. It also reminded me a lot of Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Not only were they both coming-of-age stories about young men in Tokyo, but I thought the writing styles were similar and they had some of the same themes.

Although not my favorite Mitchell book (The Bone Clocks still holds that place), I enjoyed Number9Dream more than some of his other novels. While a bit confusing at times, I found the story entertaining and captivating enough to keep me hooked and wanting to know more.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

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y648When Lord Ballister Blackheart, a villain with a vendetta, meets an impulsive young shapeshifter named Nimona, he reluctantly takes her on as a sidekick. Despite some rule breaking, the two end up working well together in their mission on exposing the not-so-heroic Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution of Law Enforcement and Heroics. But Lord Blackheart begins to worry that Nimona’s powers may be more dangerous than she lets on.

Nimona was recommended to me by a friend from a writing group I manage (who was also nice enough to let me borrow her copy since my book budget is non-existent right now). From the books she had seen me reading, she thought it was a graphic novel I would enjoy. And she was right!

Nimona was magical. I was hooked by the first page and read it in about 3 days. I loved Noelle Stevenson’s art style and I loved the overall story. It reminded me a lot of a short story I had written several years ago combined with a one act play I wrote in college. The characters were beautifully created, and I especially loved the spunky Nimona who was there to shake up the traditional ways of the hero and villain. I also loved the potential love story that just poked it’s head out a little bit. I would love to learn more about all of the characters and know what happened to them after this story ended.

As someone who doesn’t usually read graphic novels, Nimona was one of those stories that made me want to check out more just like it. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good fantasy/sci fi crossover.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

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51udok1rjtl-_sx322_bo1204203200_Shy and a little strange, 14-year-old June Elbus feels like she can only be herself around her uncle and best friend, Finn Weiss. When Finn is diagnosed with AIDS and dies, June is left feeling alone. But then she meets a strange man who claims to know her uncle. As a secret about her uncle’s life begins to unfold, June realizes she is not the only one who misses Finn and that she may not be as alone as she thinks.

Any time I went to the book section in Target and saw this book, I would pick it up, read the synopsis, and think: This sounds pretty interesting. But then I would put it back on the shelf. I finally decided to buy a copy when someone on Twitter said that it was a great book. And it was on sale on Amazon. So, done deal.

Saying that Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a great book is an understatement, in my opinion. This book had me going through a gamut of emotions: I laughed, I cried, I got angry. Carol Rifka Brunt did her research on how people with HIV/AIDS were treated in the 1980s and that resonated in the book. I felt a connection with June because I was considered the odd kid growing up, so I was able to empathize with how she was feeling. Tell the Wolves I’m Home is a captivating coming of age story that I would recommend to anyone looking for an amazing book to read.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon

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41bz6jumwil-_sx323_bo1204203200_When Christopher, a fifteen-year-old boy with an autism spectrum condition, finds the dead body of the neighbor’s dog, Wellington, speared by a garden fork in the middle of the night, he decides to investigate the dog’s death and write down his experiences as a murder mystery novel. Through his investigations, Christopher learns that his mother, who his father had said died of a heart condition several years prior, is actually alive and living with a man she had had an affair with. This, among other confessions, causes Christopher to lose all trust in his father, and he decides to run away and live with his mother.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time was an interesting read because of the writing style. Although a bit repetitive, I thought it worked since Christopher is supposed to different, and maybe that’s how his mind works. It might repeat itself and so he ends up repeating himself in his murder mystery novel because of it. I also enjoyed that the chapters were numbered in prime numbers vs. the traditional numerical order. I thought that went well with the rest of the book because Christopher would count by prime numbers to calm himself down.

There wasn’t much that I didn’t like about this book. I thought it was entertaining, and while the repetitiveness kind of got to me, it didn’t really impact my overall feel for the book. However, it wasn’t a book that caused me to have a “book hangover”. It was a good story that had interesting characters, and it is something that I would recommend to others, but I probably wouldn’t place it as one of my favorites.

 

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

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9780062564344_p0_v3_s550x406In an attempt to win the heart of Victoria Forester, Tristran Thorn promises to bring her back the star he saw streak across the sky and fall into Faerie. However, unbeknownst to Tristran, the fallen star is also being hunted by an ancient witch wishing to be young again as well as several princes all determined to become the next king of Stormhold.

I had watched the movie version of Stardust several years ago and found the book to be just as enjoyable as I remember the movie being. I liked Neil Gaiman’s writing style and found the characters to be captivating. I loved the Yvaine was headstrong and stubborn and not about to just go with anyone who came by, and I feel that Tristran was a bit more full of himself in the book than what I remember in the movie. The book was a bit fast paced, and I found that it read like a long fairy tale than a novel, which I kind of liked.

However, I was slightly disappointed by the pacing because I felt like I wanted more. In one instance Tristran is at the beginning of his journey and then suddenly he’s already found the star. Then the next thing the reader knows they’re almost home. I wish there was more of an opportunity to learn a bit more about the characters and see them develop at a little slower pace.

More Than This by Patrick Ness

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61iu72bptrll-_sx307_bo1204203200_Seth is drowning. Being pummeled by wave after wave, barely having a chance to catch a breath of air. The waves slam him into a rock. Seth feels his skull crack open. And then he wakes up in a place that can only be described as his own personal hell. Where is he really? And what really happened to him?

If you’re looking for a suspenseful and heart wrenching, semi-coming of age novel, this is your book. While I thought the beginning of the More Than This was a bit slow, it turned into a page turner. There were many times throughout the book where my pulse was racing and I found myself holding my breath in anticipation of what was to come. The characters are lifelike and I became invested in them almost immediately. Patrick Ness does a great job at pacing out the story with plenty of twists and turns that left me guessing the entire time. Even at the end, I wasn’t completely sure if any of it was real, but I think that’s the point. It places you exactly where the characters are: confused with no positive or solid answers.

However, I did have two issues with the book. The first was I felt that Ness was a bit repetitive. He had the characters repeating themselves several times throughout the book to the point where I was like, ‘OK, I get it, let’s move on.’ The second issue was I felt that the ending was a bit anti-climatic. When I was close to the end I was prepared to give the book 5 stars on Goodreads, that’s how good it was. But then the end kind of petered out and left me slightly disappointed. Which was tough because I—like the characters—wanted answers, but at the same time I liked that I was in the same boat as the characters with not having solid answers on anything. While it creates more of a connection with the characters, I think a bit more closure at the end would have made the ending better.

Despite the few issues I had with More Than This, I still enjoyed it a lot. This was the second book I have read by Ness (the first being A Monster Calls) and his amazing writing and ability to tell terrific stories makes me want to pick up another one of his books. I’ve actually had my eye on The Rest of Us Just Live Here for a while, so hopefully I can get myself a copy soon!