Sharing some of my favorite books from the past month
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Beartown, by Frederik Backman. This is the first of Backman's books I read, and I've since read two others. If you're familiar with Backman ( A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry, Britt-Marie was Here), then this book is a departure for him--it's much more serious in tone. However, there's also his trademark wit and humor, even though the subject matter is much more serious.
Here's the publisher's copy:
People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.
Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.
Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.
The ending doesn't do what you think it will do--which is nice.
Crossing to Safety, by Wallace Stegner. The story of two couples who met in their early twenties and have gone through life together, at varying levels of closeness, comes to a climax as one of the women is dying, and wants one last summer reunion. The story moves back and forth in time, showing how the couples met and how their relationships evolved, moving to the present day. Stengel is a fantastic writer with glowing prose and rich characterizations. It's not a long book, but it's a very satisfying one.
Mr. Rochester, by Sarah Shoemaker. I didn't think I'd like this one, because of my issues with Jane Eyre. (In short: Jane running off to the moors drives me crazy.) But I adored this book! The story tells the life of Mr. Rochester, the brooding owner of Thornfield Hall and Jane's eventual husband, from his childhood relationships with his father and older brother, to his marriage to Bertha in the West Indies, and finally to his meeting Jane. It's so well-written and well-crafted that I almost hated for it to end. I'll definitely be re-reading this soon. If you haven't read Jane Eyre, read that first. Definitely.
The Dry, by Jane Harper. The first in a series of mysteries set in Australia, The Dry follows Aaron Falk, who returns to his childhood home after the death of Luke, his former best friend, his wife, and his young son. Aaron doesn't think Luke would have killed himself, much less his family, but how much did he really know about him? Secrets are all over the tiny town, and the severe drought that's slowly squeezing the economic lifeblood out of its residents isn't helping anyone's ability to remain calm and rational. The exotic setting and colorful characters made this a winner for me.
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn. THIS BOOK IS AMAZING. It needs all caps. If you're a Janeite, I think you'll adore this.
Rachel and Liam live in the future--but they're part of the Jane Austen Project, which will send them back to 1815. Their mission? To retrieve the lost manuscript of Jane Austen's The Watsons, and bring it back to the future. However--they have a finite window of time in which to do this, or they'll be stuck in 19th century London forever. The plan is to become friends with Jane, get the manuscript, and head home.
However, their plans are foiled when Rachel and Liam manage to get deeply entangled in the Austen family's lives. Jane's real life family, friends, and circumstances are vividly and perfectly woven into a novel that also has traces of Interstellar in its plotting.
The Killer Angels , by Michael Shaara. If you haven't read this Pulitzer Prize winning telling of the battle of Gettysburg, you need to. Now. It's the basis for the movie Gettysburg and is told from the perspectives of various combatants, including General Lee, General Longstreet, Colonel Chamberlain, and others. A fantastic read.