A Man Called Ove

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A Man Called Ove

by Fredrik Backman

August 2017

Every summer my Book Club watches a movie and does a pot luck. It’s amazing. We usually choose a movie based on a book we have read or could choose to read on our own. So this summer we chose, A Man Called Ove. We hadn’t read it for our club, but it had been on my TBR list for a while. Generally speaking, it’s really important to me to read the book before watching the movie, so I was determined to read the book before our meeting. I’m so happy I did. The book was phenomenal and the movie made a lot more sense because I read the book first. Side note: I enjoyed the movie as well! I loved the tone of the whole book. It was lighthearted, especially for the serious subject matter. The book made me feel the whole gamut of emotions. I laughed and cried and truly enjoyed the whole story.

A Man Called Ove is the story of an older Swedish man named, Ove. He has had a hard life, filled with loss. His one love was his wife and she has recently passed away. In addition he just lost his job of several decades. He is lonely and depressed and decides to kill himself because there is nothing left to live for. He takes care of his unfinished business and goes to hang himself, but the rope breaks. Ove is a bit of an odd man and likes things in his neighborhood to be a certain way, like no driving through the residential area. New neighbors move in and do their best to befriend Ove, but he wants nothing to do with them, especially since they do things differently than he does. Spoilers: He tries again and again to kill himself, but every attempt is interrupted for one reason or another. Ever so slowly, Ove opens up to his neighbors and begins to change and see hope. He begins to have reasons to stick around. From helping his new neighbors, to a boy from town, to a wayward cat, to a nemesis (who now has Alzheimer’s). People need him and he begins to realize that he wants to be there for them and not kill himself. It is beautiful watching Ove move from tragedy (losing his dad when he was a teenager, losing his only unborn child when he and his wife were in a bus accident, and seeing his wife lose her mobility in the same accident) to love (like when he gives his new neighbor’s daughter an iPad for her drawing). He has a beautiful story and continues to develop his friendships with his neighbors, living a fulfilled, happy life. In the end he dies in peace and happiness, with the cat by his side.

Summing it up: the story was so heartwarming. I really loved it and I highly recommend it.

All the best, Abbey

P.S. How do you pronounce, “Ove?” In the movie it was, “o – veah.” But I’ve heard it “ooov” and “of” too. Thoughts?!

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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

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Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

by Robert C. O’Brien

Summer 2017

I’ve heard about Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH here and there over the years. I didn’t know anything about it except that it was well-known and had won an award (a Newberry Medal). I ended up sitting down and reading it this summer and I loved it! I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, writing, and characters. It was a simple story with endearing values. I loved all the things that Mrs. Frisby did for her children. She really went to lengths to help her children. There was a bit of a puzzle at the beginning of the book involving Mrs. Frisby’s husband, and I really enjoyed seeing all the pieces fall into place about his backstory as the story went on. It was very creative and unexpected. The ending was a little vague, which was sad and a little frustrating. But the rest of the book was so good that I’m overlooking that. I enjoyed the process of reading this book and I really look forward to reading it to my boys.

Mrs. Frisby is a widowed mouse left to take care of her young mice children. Spring is on the way and she needs to move her family to their summer home. However, one of her sons is sick and cannot be moved. This puts the whole family at risk of death because their home is in the field of a farmer who will be ploughing soon. In an act of desperation, Mrs. Frisby goes to visit the wise owl in the woods. He tells her to ask the Rats of NIHM (who live nearby the farmhouse). Mrs. Frisby is terrified, but as a mother is willing to do whatever she needs to for her children. She then embarks on a journey full of terror and suspense. Spoilers: her adventure is fraught with intrigue and discovery, from meeting the rats, to learning that they were great friends with her late husband, to working with them to move her house around a rock to be protected from the plough. She also learns about her husband’s past and how he became friends with the rats. He and other mice, along with a group of rats, were captured and brought to a science lab where they were experimented on. The great experiment? To see if rats and mice could learn to read. The answer? Yes. Soon the rats and mice outsmarted the scientists and escaped, however only two mice survived, including Mrs. Frisby’s husband. They founded a society of sorts and settled by the farm house where they established a high tech home with running water and electricity. The rats are very smart and hope to build a new home where they will not be stealing resources from the farmer. By the end of the book, the rats successfully help Mrs. Frisby and she in turn helps them by discovering that the scientists suspect the rats’ location and warning the rats. They are able to move in time, but loose a few of their people. The vague ending is that you’re not totally sure which rats don’t make it, and it might be one that is very likable. That being said, it is a mostly happy ending.

Summing it up: I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

Hollow City

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Hollow City

by Ransom Riggs

August 2017

I started Hollow City, the sequel to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, a while ago and it was hard to get into. I felt like Riggs was trying to hard. What I mean by that is: I felt like story revolved around the pictures. It was if he picked these pictures out and then had to stretch to make them into a story. In contrast, I felt the first book was so clever and original. So I was disappointed for most of the book and ended up putting it down for months. I was determined to finish it though because even though the “stretched” feeling was annoying, it wasn’t enough to make me give up. It wasn’t until the end of book that things picked up and I really got into it. There was a great twist and the pictures finally felt more natural and less forced. As a result, I enjoyed the ending so much and it redeemed the book. Enough so that I’ll give the third book a try (I’ll let you know how that goes).

Hollow City picks up where the first book left off: the group of peculiar children are determined to find a way turn Miss Peregrine back into herself. They need to travel to London, so they make their way there, meeting various peculiars along the way (such as the menagerie and the gypsies). Spoilers: when they eventually get to London, they find the loop that will lead them to perhaps the last ymbryne. Sure enough, Miss Wren is there and able to help turn Miss Peregrine back. But there is a twist: the peregrine is not Miss Peregrin, but her brother (who is evil). He swapped with her and has been gathering information and sending it to his wights the whole time. (The evil master plan is to removed the peculiars’ second souls to create a superior race over humans.) They all get captured and brought back to present day. On their way to the train station, one of the peculiars makes a run for it and it causes a ton of confusion, allowing for Jacob and Emma to escape (though they are the only ones). Jacob gets a call from his dad and is able to have a brief conversation before he has to run away. And that is the end (hence my wanting to read the third book).

Summing it up: this book was not my favorite, but if you’ve read the first one, it’s worth reading to continue the series.

All the best, Abbey

 

El Deafo

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El Deafo

by Cece Bell

July 2017

El Deafo was recommended to me by a friend and when it turned up right in front of me at the library, I felt it was fate to read it right away. El Deafo is the first graphic novel I’ve ever read. I didn’t know what I’d think about all the pictures as part of the story, but I loved it. I really enjoyed reading a graphic novel and I also really enjoyed this particular story. Cece is a young girl (rabbit) who gets very sick at 4 years old and loses her hearing. The story is autobiographical and follows Cece’s perspective on her loss as she attends school from kindergarten to fifth grade. We watch Cece struggle to come to terms with her hearing aides, and find true friends. She nicknames herself El Deafo and pretends she’s a superhero with her sonic ear (heading aide). It’s cute and very clever! I loved that this is based on Cece’s life and feel honoured that she would share her story with others. It was sweet, uplifting and heartening. I’m so happy it was recommended to me! 😉

Summing it up: This story is sweet and endearing and I thoroughly enjoyed rooting for Cece! I highly recommend it!

All the best,
Abbey

A Well-Tempered Heart

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A Well-Tempered Heart

by Jan-Philipp Sendker

July 2017

This book is the sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, which I loved. It was a beautiful story (blogged here: twentyninewillowlane.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/the-art-of-hearing-heartbeats) and I was looking forward to reading A Well-Tempered Heart. It started out fine, but I couldn’t really get into it. I skimmed a bunch and then got hooked at the end. I actually loved the end . . . A. Lot. The book is divided into three parts, so it was part three that I adored.

A Well-Tempered Heart resumes ten years after the first book. Julia is a successful lawyer, but has been estranged from her mother and brother ever since she told them her father’s story. She’s also broken up with her boyfriend of five years. She doesn’t have a great personal life, but she’s not unhappy. But then, she starts hearing a voice in her head that asks relentless questions about her life and what she’s doing with it. It is slowly driving Julia insane. Spoilers: long story short, Julia finds out that the voice is a restless spirit that got lodged with hers. In order to release it, she needs to discover the spirit’s story and why she’s at unrest (this is where I checked out). Well, naturally she figures it out: it’s a mother who had to choose which of her two sons would face a likely death. Julia ends up finding the son that miraculously survived and they fall in love. She’s supposed to leave though, so he breaks things off. Julia goes to return home, only to realize that that’s the last place she wants to be. She ends up staying and the voice disappears for good. It’s a beautiful ending!

Summing it up: I didn’t love most of the book, but the ending pulled me in, so I’d recommend it!

All the best, Abbey

Tales from the Crib

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Tales from the Crib: Adventures of an Over-Sharing, Stressed-Out, Modern-Day Mom

by DeeDee Filiatreault

July 2017

I had a feeling I’d like this book from the moment I read it’s title. Filiatreault has an incredible gift to describe the realities (both the good and the bad) of being a mom. As a mom of a 5 and 3 year old, I related to so much of what she had to say!  I laughed out loud (a lot), I cried a little, and I completely enjoyed myself from start to finish. It’s always a relief to know you’re not alone (or going crazy) as a mom, and Filiatreault makes sure you know she’s in the same boat. The concept of this book is that it’s a compilation of  Filiatreault’s Tales from the Crib column. The entries are not chronological, but they flow from subject to subject easily. This a quick, fun book to read and I loved every second. I highly recommend this book to all moms (both new and seasoned). I hope you love it as much as I did!

All the best, Abbey

The Chemist

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The Chemist

by Stephanie Meyer

July 2017

I really enjoyed this book. I reminded me of the Jason Borne movies. I loved the suspense and mystery throughout the book. I was completely caught up in the story and whether everyone was going to make it or not. The writing was phenomenal. My one and only complaint was that it got graphic at points. The main character is a professional torturer and things get dicey at a few points. So, I skimmed a little! Even though I didn’t like the gory parts, they were necessary for the plot, and needing to skim didn’t detract from the book . . .I still loved it. Meyer is absolutely becoming a favorite author. I read The Host first and now The Chemist and I really enjoyed both.

Alex (one of her various aliases) is a former torturer for the American Government. For a reason unknown to her, the government is trying to kill her, so she goes on the run. She gets tracked down by a former associate and asked to come in for a job. Alex is extremely skeptical, but the stakes are high (someone is about to expose the US to a horrific disease), so she decides to step in. The target is an all-American English high school teacher, Daniel. He’s made several trips to Mexico and is syphoning money into various accounts. Alex mages to capture him, setting him up in her torture lab. Mild spoilers: She’s plagued by the idea that he’s not really a bad guy, but the agency can’t be wrong. As she’s torturing him, the feeling strengthens and before long they have company: Daniel’s twin brother, Kevin. Turns out, the “job” was a trap and isn’t real – and Daniel is completely innocent and oblivious. Kevin was in the CIA and got burned when he wanted to continue digging into a job that was “closed.” The threesome become a reluctant crew when they realize they are more likely to stay alive if they stick together. However, Alex and Kevin strongly dislike each other. Daniel serves as the go-between to keep the peace and they begin a long journey to figure out why Kevin and Alex are wanted dead by their two departments. Poor, innocent Daniel gets taken for a ride but he goes willingly as he has fallen for Alex (he fell for her before she tortured him and he decides to overlook the torture). Big spoilers: The threesome travel, trying to be secretive and keep their trail quiet, to Kevin’s safe house. They stay there for only a short time before they are discovered. Kevin is away at this point, so his highly trained dogs, including his lead dog, Einstein, take Alex and Daniel to safety. They meet back up with Kevin and figure out that their directors want them dead because they know information about a political coup. Kevin gets captured and Alex and Daniel hatch an elaborate plot to free him from torture (including a kidnapping, poisoning, and amazing disguises). They manage it, but Daniel gets shot. Thankfully it’t not his heart, but it is his lungs and it’s a brush with death. The family vet steps in to save the day and Daniel is healed. The plot included disposing of the two directors, so no one is left to try and kill them. They keep hiding and build a life for themselves free from fear and discovery. By this time Kevin and Alex have become friends and Alex and Daniel are full on in love!

Summing it up: I loved this intense, creative, awesome book (even though I skimmed some of the gory parts). I definitely recommend it!

All the best, Abbey