Review: Beartown

Beartown Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is certainly a departure from Backman's other novels, but it still has the hallmarks that make his writing so wonderful. Beartown lacks much of the humor that is typically infused throughout his storylines, but it is still a beautifully written novel. The way that Backman weaves together such intricately developed characters and storylines is truly masterful. Just when I thought I figured out where the story was going, Backman threw in another twist and took the story in a different direction.

Even if you are not a hockey and/or sports fan, this book is worth the read. While Beartown is a hockey town, the novel is less about hockey and more about community, family, and relationships. It explores the meaning of community, the privileges of belonging to a community, the disadvantages or struggles when you don't fit in, and the responses people have when their communities are threatened by both inside and outside forces.

This novel was beautifully written and I was able to lose myself in Backman's masterful story telling, which is all I really ask of a good book...the chance to escape reality and step into a different world. The pages of this book are worth steping into.

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Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey

The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey by Trenton Lee Stewart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a wonderful sequel! This series is my new favorite YA series. Trenton Lee Stewart has given us such well developed and endearing protagonists in Reynie, Kate, Constance, and Sticky. They have so much heart and personality and make for such an entertaining read. This installment had all the heart, humor, adventure, and mystery that made me fall in love with the first book. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish and I am eager to get my hands on the next book in the series.

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Review: Heartless

Heartless Heartless by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really love Marissa Meyer's ability to reimagine classic fairy tales and put a unique spin on them. After reading her Lunar Chronicles series, I was excited to learn that she was releasing a new novel. I love Alice and Wonderland and was excited to see what Meyer would do with it. She definitely did a good job paying homage to the original and I thoroughly enjoyed most of the book. I thought the second half of the book was a bit drawn out and I was disappointed in the climax and end of the novel. Not because I didn't like what happened...more that I felt it all happened rather abruptly after so much build up. This is what keeps it from being a 5-star read for me. Other than that, I think it's a great read that fairy tale fans will enjoy.

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Review: Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a beautifully written book. The characters were vibrant and well developed. However, like most books that deal with difficult topics such as genocide, it was not an easy book to listen to. As a history buff, I was somewhat familiar with Stalin's horrific treatment of the Lithuanians, but not the extent as Hitler's treatment of the Jews. This book is certainly an introduction to what many of these people suffered.

Although the narrative was set in desolate Siberia and even though its characters suffered unimaginable cruelties, it wasn't just doom and gloom. Between the shades of gray of the storyline were small moments of love, kindness, perseverance, and hope. These moments added a humanity to the narrative that was tangible and awe-inspiring. I don't know if I could have survived with my humanity in tack. Books like Between Shades of Gray are important because they tell about moments in history when humanity is at its absolute worst and best. Stories like these need to be told so that these events and people are not forgotten.

This is a difficult, but beautiful and worthwhile read.

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