Britt-Marie Was Here

Britt-Marie Was HereBritt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I became hooked on this author after reading ‘A Man Called Ove’, and this was recommended by a fellow fan of his.
I very much enjoyed this story, and I especially liked the ending – despite it being unsatisfactory to me. The reason it was so unsatisfactory is because the author did such a wonderful job at allowing our protagonist a journey where she had so many choices ahead of her, that I couldn’t think of the one I would most prefer her to have.
The story-telling was wonderful, as always. I loved Britt-Marie and the was she grew on everyone, also the way she grew on herself. I understood her character perfectly, and it was due to the author that she was so understandable.
He has a way of showing you people in a new light, and it’s this trait that I love the most about this writing. The compassion, and the value in every person if you look for it.
I found the football part a bit hard because I don’t follow football, and not being a supporter I wasn’t aware of the nuances of each team – despite that being described well enough.
It was a lovely mix of Beartown and A Man Called Ove. Would highly recommend.

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Anatomy of a Scandal

Anatomy of a ScandalAnatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting courtroom drama, and an easy-read.

I admit that I expected more meat to the story, I expected a little more ambiguity, and a little less drama, and a little more intrigue. I expected more twists and turns, and I was waiting for them all to occur.

This played out exactly how I thought it would, down to the predictability of the ending. I anticipated every step, and while I thought that Holly would go somewhere else, it wasn’t at all surprising she didn’t.

Having said that, the writing style was satisfying, if a little dry. The characters and placement were written well, and had just enough to them that I cared about what was happening – unfortunately, that;s about it though.

I would recommend for a travel-read.

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Normal People

Normal PeopleNormal People by Sally Rooney
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The writing style of this novel really drew me in, I was unable to put it down and read it in two sittings.
I loved Marianne and Connell, and I loved their journey up to a point.
This felt really reminiscent of One Day by David Nicholls, a book that I really enjoyed (movie not as much). At least the ending of that was somewhat satisfying in its way, unlike the ending of this which was just frustrating instead.
There is a point at which it becomes boring to rehash the same conversations over and over again in a different scenario , even it if is supposed to have a point behind it. There was just one or two conversations too many for me to like the ending or think it was a clever way to leave things.
The writing was so wonderful that I stayed with it, and I’m still so happy to have found the author. It was almost a sensual read, and a romance at its heart, yet it explored so many topics throughout including modern masculinity, femininity, social ideals, relationships in every sphere, and trauma.
I would recommend to anyone, it was a lovely read that leaves you with a lot to think about – because even though I’m dissatisfied with the ending, it means I was invested enough in the characters to feel they were let down.

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Bogan Mondrian

The Bogan MondrianThe Bogan Mondrian by Steven Herrick
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A book club pick, the person who recommended was unaware that it was YA – that’s not a problem for me, but will make for an interesting discussion.
I grew up where this book is set, and lived in North Katoomba where our male protagonist is based. This was both a good and bad thing while reading. It was good because it added a level of familiarity and I could see glimpses of little bits of local truths woven throughout – and that was fun. It was bad because I was constantly thinking, wait that’s not there – or, that would take so long to walk to no one in their teens would actually do that. So it pulled me out of the novel a little as the author took some liberties with the landscape. Perhaps if real road names weren’t used I may not have had the same reaction.
It was also hard for me to write a review as I already had the scenery and town landmarks in my memories – so I’m not sure how well they were described for someone who didn’t know those places. I can’t think of anywhere that is easy to get to from Katoomba to see horse racing either.
Also, North Katoomba is really not this poverty stricken landscape compared to South Katoomba, they are about even at this point – that grated on me a little as well. If Charlotte had lived in Leura it would have made more sense, but as in any mountains community, the closer to the bush the more expensive the houses, the closer to the towns the cheaper they are, and North and South Katoomba have their rich areas.
I found Charlotte’s reactions and behaviours a little hard to believe for the age of the characters, that was a bit of a jolt throughout the whole book, the over-reactions of the characters to things that I didn’t quite get. I also found the ending not satisfactory in how it was managed. Having said that, this is YA, and younger YA at that, so in that context I think it was handled well.
Difficult one for me, I liked it and thought it was fun and informative for the age it was aimed at – however, it had the feel of being too informative in some respects. I think it’s a story and writing style caught between being too old for upper-primary, but too information driven for young adults.

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Beartown (Beartown, #1)Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I did not read anything about this book before I began reading it, I loved A Man Called Ove so much, I just went on and randomly picked another by the same author. Despite being glad to have read this book, because it was amazing – I also wish that I had picked a different book because the story was quite difficult for me to read due to my own experiences.

Firstly, the writing style was wonderful. The way the author makes you see the intricacies of a small town and the politics that run through it – and why those run through it, was spectacular. In some parts, a little too repetitive, I really did understand why the town loved it’s hockey so much by a third of the way through, and didn’t need long paragraphs continuously explaining this to remind me.

Secondly, excellent characters. I feel we all have a friend like Maggan Lyt that we all want to pretend isn’t our friend. Character development was so well described, and even though there were quite a lot of characters, I knew each character thoroughly – including their motivators – as if they’d each been given a book. Writing teen characters can be tough, but this was perfect. Benji was my hero, and the hero of the story, and it was his exact character to carry the story without being it’s main protagonist – as that was his life, amazing writing.

Finally, the story itself. It’s the one we all know, the one we hate to know, and the one that is most difficult to read about because it’s so common ad we wish it wasn’t. The author did well presenting every part of the story, including the ending. I think the end result was actually quite neutral, and that in itself is almost a positive ending all things considered.

This is a scathing look at sports culture at its worst, and the repercussions of that culture. The male dominated world, the homophobia, the disregard of others, the feeling of dominance, the male aggression – it’s all there on display throughout this story.

I would recommend people read the blurb before buying, but I am almost glad I didn’t as this was so well-written. Loved it, was just a bit repetitive for the full five stars for me.

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Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I feel like this had so much potential, and the first half was quite good. I always enjoy the characters and settings that Moriarty creates, I feel like I know them and that is really skilful writing.
I thought the idea of Tranquillum House was just the right amount of health retreat mythologies, and touched on exactly the right people who would attend and why.
However, there were almost too many characters to keep up with. The story around Masha was so unresolved and in no way fitting with any of her motives or actions, I can’t understand why that was her backstory.
The story itself didn’t really come off due to the many inconsistencies, which is unusual for Liane Moriarty – she usually wraps it all up for us in a cohesive way. Definitely not her best effort.
Wouldn’t really recommend it, I feel like it was rushed and not well planned out.

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A Man Called Ove

A Man Called OveA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I haven’t been able to focus on reading for about a year, maybe just a little over – but this book, I could not put down. I adored Ove, not at first and that was intentional I think, but by the end I was so impressed by his character.
The writer did an amazing job of riding the line between light-hearted banter and feel good scenarios, and crushing emotional insights into a cruel world.
The story had a wonderful depth of empathy to it, and in our world where empathy is in short supply I really hope it is taken up by all the readers out there who may not always look at other people’s life and experiences when they judge and interact with others.
The epilogue was just enough of everything that I wanted to hear, it was perfectly ended in my opinion.

I laughed, cried, and got angry at some points of this story – it managed to fill me with all the emotions and I loved every second of it.

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