A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

amancalledoveA Man Called Ove is indeed about a man named Ove. He’s depressed. His wife died and he wants nothing more than to join her.

But, somehow, life itself seems to be conspiring to keep him alive.

To borrow a line from Shrek: Ove is like an onion.

On the outside, his personality is kinda smelly and makes people cry. But, he has layers.

This story takes apart those layers.

Highly recommended to me by one of my book club members and my mother-in-law. A Man Called Ove is a treat. I highly recommend it, now, too.

Thanks for reading!


Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames

Kings of the Wyld (The Band #1) by Nicholas Eames

kingsofthewyldAn incandescent debut novel about an aging group of warriors who have to come out of retirement to save the child of one of their members.

It is reminiscent of a dungeons and dragons campaign: you have the tanks (or front men), cleric (or shield), thief and wizard.

The band also featured a rotating series of bards because they kept losing them in various, horrific ways. It’s a continuing gag throughout the tale.

The humor is my favorite part of the story. Some of it is juvenile, but most of it is incredibly funny.

“Tell us a tale, will ya, Clay? About when you did for that necromancer up in Oddsford. Or when you rescued that princess from… that place… remember?” Which one? Clay wondered. They’d rescued several princesses, in fact, and if he’d killed one necromancer he’d killed a dozen.” pg 4

The warriors are past their prime. They were glorious monster killers once, now they’ve got bad backs, tricky knees and families who depend on them.

“But life, Clay knew, didn’t work that way. It wasn’t a circle; you didn’t go round and round again. It was an arc, its course as inexorable as the sun’s trek across the sky, destined at its highest, brightest moment to begin its fall.”pg 8.

In many ways, the group in this story reminded me of my own group of gaming friends. Yes, maybe we’re all getting on in years, but oh the glorious adventures we have had and perhaps will still have… if we can just manage to get out the door.

“If there was anything scarier than a Heartwyld Horde, the wrath of a vengeful ex-wife might just be it.” pg 36

The humor in this story was only matched by the clever analogy of a “band of warriors” compared to a “band of musicians”.

“Fantastic. Clay mused. A spiteful queen and a vengeful booker to watch out for. As if heading into a monster-infested forest on our way to a hopelessly besieged city wasn’t trouble enough. Whoever wants us dead should just sit back and let us kill ourselves.” pg 129

I couldn’t help but cheer them on, every step of the way.

Highly recommended for epic fantasy fans, gamers and anyone who has shared adventures, real or imagined, with a group of friends. This book has heart and I loved it.

Thanks for reading!

Vita Maglia by Brit Malorie

Vita Maglia by Brit Malorie

vita magliaIn Vita Maglia, the spiritual realm is just beyond the fabric of the real world.

Within this other world, spiritual entities like souls, angels, and demons are physical realities.

The story begins with a mystery on a dangerous island called Kadera where reality seems “thinned” and visitors experience a strange ability to sense other people’s emotions.

Why is the island so strange? What is the subject of Zander’s father’s unending studies?

Why does that one person, at the start of the book, die screaming with her skin torn to shreds?

The story answers all of these questions in a timely and satisfying manner.

A warning: don’t start reading it unless you have time to finish it. It’s engrossing and addictive.

Brit Malorie has crafted an extraordinary fantasy world.

It absolutely hooked me. I started to read it in the morning and ended up finishing it in one afternoon.

I felt that the characterizations were strong for this genre, particularly the antagonist.

Malorie’s villain, Lynch Katlan, is totally believable, psychotic, and terrifying.

I haven’t been this frightened while reading about a character since Ramsay Bolten in George R.R. Martin’s series. Seriously.

Further on in the tale, I felt that we didn’t spend enough time in Maglia. Yes, we talked about it a lot and the characters were clearly focused on getting there, but we weren’t “there.”

So, if I had any criticism for this story, that’s it.

I wanted to spend more time in this fantastic world experiencing the different creatures and environments.

Strangely enough, I had the same complaint about Jeff Vandermeer’s Authority.

Recommended for readers who long for escape from reality and fantasy fans.

Thanks for reading!

The Last to See Me by M. Dressler

The Last to See Me by M. Dressler

lasttoseeThe Last to See Me is a fascinating story set in a world where ghosts are real and if they’re hanging around, they can bring down property values.

So, if you find you have an unruly poltergeist in your closet, you call a hunter to put them into the “eternal sleep.”

The tale is told from Emma, a ghost’s, point of view.

“My hearing is so much finer than when I walked alive and with a heartbeat. It’s something I’ve had a century to ponder: how much does the beating heart of one creature drown out the heart of another?” pg 6

I found this story to be absolutely captivating.

“At the turn of the millennium, when the hunts began, I was as scared as any ghost could be. But fear, in the end, does a body no good. If you let yourself be afraid of what can kill you, it weakens you. So you can’t let yourself be afraid.” pg 21.

Inbetween Emma’s fight to remain alive, in a manner of speaking, we get to learn about her life before her death. So, there’s a bit of historical fiction thrown in the mix.

I think M. Dressler has written a fantastic ghost story.

“But I can tell you that the reason you felt something was hiding under your bed, all those years ago, is precisely because it was. It just knew better than to show itself to you.” pg 102

I found myself cheering for Emma, even when the story takes a few surprisingly dark turns.

“But understand and hear me, my friend. Nothing dead, no matter how interesting or difficult, is worth keeping.” pg 129.

Also, I was amazed at how Dressler managed to weave various elements of the story into its conclusion.

Take your time and read carefully, I think you’ll be as delighted with this tale as I was.

Highly recommended for those who like not-so-scary stories or slightly spooky historical fiction.

Thanks for reading!

The Sun King Conspiracy by Yves Jégo

The Sun King Conspiracy by Yves Jégo

sunkingA historical fiction about a French King, his mistress, his minister, his mother, an aspiring actor with a secret past and a secret society with hidden knowledge that could change the world.

“A chief minister is dying, yet people are interested only in counting the supporters and detractors of an entertainer…” pg 9, ebook.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really care for The Sun King Conspiracy.

I felt like it was trying to be a mystery like The Da Vinci Code with the complexity of an epic historical fiction. It didn’t quite reach either pinnacle.

“According to Colbert’s report, the murderers took nothing else of any worth from my apartments. From this, I deduce that their only concern was to seize those papers.” pg 36, ebook.

It was probably just me, but I kept getting the ministers and their roles confused. Also, their alliances and reasons why they hated each other never really made sense to me.

“The truth is,” said the scholar with a sad smile, “that this question of succession seems to be the only matter that interests anyone in Paris, when the real subject that ought to occupy us, the only one worthy of any interest, is entirely different: it concerns the stability of the Kingdom.” pg 142, ebook.

It felt like there were nuances to the court relationships that were never explicitly stated.

Maybe the author assumed a familiarity with the court of the Sun King that I don’t possess.

The whole secret society part of this story was just flat. I felt like I’d read the same conspiracy in half a dozen other books.

“I am more aware of this than anyone else. I have paid so dearly for it that my belief in its ultimate success is perhaps the only thing that still keeps me alive…” pg 229, ebook.

I didn’t connect with any of the cast of characters either. They were so cookie cutter.

Here’s hoping I like the next

Thanks for reading!

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

a touch of starA girl from Indiana goes to Hollywood and ends up taking care of Hollywood royalty in A Touch of Stardust.

The reader gets a behind the scenes look at the making of Gone With the Wind and the private, slightly dysfunctional lives of Carol Lombard and Clarke Gable.

It was fun learning about what went into the creation of Gone With the Wind. Those parts of the book sort of read like a Hollywood-fan magazine, but better written.

The dialogue in this book is snappy and smart, like a Bogie and Bacall film.

I loved the heroine and how she pulled herself up by the bootstraps to make it in Hollywood at a time when very few women did.

Overall, it’s a great story. I absolutely loved this book up until the ending which I hated.

We discussed this read in my book club and some folks liked the ambiguous feel of the ending. I was not one of those.

Recommended for readers who can handle an ending that might make them say: “Huh?” or “No!”

Thanks for reading!

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

lostcityA well-researched tale by journalist David Grann about Percy Fawcett, the intrepid explorer who disappeared in the Amazon jungle on his search for the city he called ‘Z’.

The part in this book that I appreciated the most was Fawcett’s struggle to learn about and appreciate the cultures of the people he discovered in the Amazon, while at the same time, juggling his own biases against any culture other than his own.

In some ways, he was a product of his time, but the fact that Fawcett at least tried to understand different cultures made him different than other explorers of his age.

It’s only a small part in a larger tale full of adventure, exploration and discovery.

The tid-bits about the jungle, I first learned about in The River of Doubt by Candice Millard.

The narrative in River of Doubt was more focused than this novel, but Millard was talking about one trip, not multiple trips or explorers.

There’s a lot of weird stuff that goes on in the jungle. Read either of these books to find out all about it.

Recommended for fans of non-fiction. If you’re looking for a more straight-forward adventure tale than this wandering title, choose River of Doubt.

Thanks for reading!