Friday, January 26, 2018

Beartown Review

Beartown
By: Fredrik Backman

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.



Oh my goodness this was a difficult read for me! For months I had seen Beartown popping up in bookstores and on my FB feed before I finally gave in to the idea that I needed to read this book and began reading it last week. It took me forever to get into it, and there were quite a few times (I counted at least 5) when I thought for sure I was just going to give up and move on. But the positive comments I saw about the book on FB lent me the tenacity I needed to continue on with it. It wasn't until chapter 12 that I finally started to accept the fact that no matter how dull I found the book to be I was not going to give up on it. Literally, I was about halfway through before I admitted to myself that I was in for the long haul. Then I finished the rest of the book in about 4 hours. Thankfully it was about 75% of the way through the book that it really finally picked up. 

The book began slowly with many, mostly vague, character introductions and a much longer intro about the hockey town that they all called home. Unfortunately, hockey does nothing for me (I love poutine though so my Canadian citizenship can't be completely revoked). The author didn't spend enough time on any character to give the reader time to develop any affinity's with any of them and the whole book went on that way, where even when a seriously tragic event happened and all of the characters in the novel were impacted in a negative way I didn't feel much for any of them beyond the typical sympathetic human response. 

The only thing I enjoyed about the novel was the way that the author dealt with the small-town response of its teenage hockey hero being accused of rape. There was a solid line drawn in the sand and Fredrik Backman made no bones about concretely placing the townspeople on both sides of that line, purely based on opinion instead of fact. In my opinion it was a very true to life depiction of what happens when sexual assault takes place and it was both disturbing and heartbreaking. 

I rarely feel such a sense of accomplishment after finishing a book but I really wasn't sure whether I would be able to finish this one or not. I find it a little odd that even though I did not enjoy this particular book or even the way that it was written with the choppy paragraph's, immediately after finishing this novel I googled more books by Fredrik Backman because something about his writing made me want to read more of his work. Hopefully the next one will win me over.

Final Rating:
✬✬✫✫✫
Probability of Rereading:
No.

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass#5)

Empire of Storms (Throne of Glass #5)
By: Sarah J. Maas

The long path to the throne has only just begun for Aelin Galathynius as war looms on the horizon. Loyalties have been broken and bought, friends have been lost and gained, and those who possess magic find themselves at odds with those who don't.

With her heart sworn to the warrior-prince by her side, and her fealty pledged to the people she is determined to save, Aelin will delve into the depths of her power to protect those she loves. But as monsters emerge from the horrors of the past, and dark forces become poised to claim her world, the only chance for salvation will lie in a desperate quest that may mark the end of everything Aelin holds dear.

In this breathtaking fifth installment of the New York Timesbestselling Throne of Glass series, Aelin will have to choose what—and who—to sacrifice if she's to keep the world of Erilea from breaking apart.


This series has gone so far beyond what I expected of it when I first began reading it last year. This book was categorically better than the last one, in my opinion, but it still went pretty dry in the middle. The plot line of the story is moving along quickly enough but Aelin didn't really do a while lot in this book which made for a pretty long read in some chapters. There was more of Aelin in this book than in previous ones, which was too bad as the other characters were all doing more in their own story lines than Aelin. 


Throughout this book I was more interested in the story line of Elide and Lorcan, who were thrown together unexpectedly and had fantastic chemistry together. Both were more interested in getting to their final destinations than in each other and their journey is not without peril. I started rooting for something to develop between them early on. Who doesn't love the idea of a centuries old, powerful and heartless faerie doing the impossible and falling in love? This is probably the story line I'm most excited to see more of in the next installment, even if things didn't go as planned for them in this one. 

Now that we're getting further along in the war against Erawan we get to see more and more of our favorite characters (Manon and her thirteen, Dorian, Gavriel and Fenrys, etc.) come together and forge alliances, some temporary and some lasting, and its gratifying to see all of the previous plots and characters come together to form one powerful story.

While I found the middle of the novel pretty dry I was impressed with the end of the book. There was a fantastic culmination of powers and alliance changes that had me on the edge of my seat. The end of the book was such a cliffhanger that waiting until the next book to come out to find out what happens is killing me! 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Friday, January 5, 2018

Queen of Shadows Review (Throne of Glass #4)

Queen of Shadows (Throne of Glass #4)
By: Sarah J. Maas

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

The fourth volume in the New York Times bestselling series continues Celaena’s epic journey and builds to a passionate, agonizing crescendo that might just shatter her world.




Ok, so if you've read my previous TOG reviews you know that I love this series and this author, so believe me when I say that writing this review is a bit painful for me. I wanted to love this book. I began this installment already loving it based on the last 3 books in the series, but this book didn't do a whole lot for me. Don't get me wrong, by no means did I hate or even dislike it. It just didn't live up to the expectations that I had from the first three books. I did like the overall book, I did. But I don't know that it needed to be over 600 pages long. There was not enough action happening to warrant being that long a novel. 

I loved Manon in the last book, and I loved her even more in this one as her progression has her becoming more caring and more aware of her surroundings and those who lead her. I did not love that for the first half of the book her character was a waste of time. Other than her submission to her grandmother (and coven leader), which we saw the extent of in the last novel, nothing really happened. At least, nothing that made any bit of difference in the end of the book. 

The author introduced another new character that I find myself liking, Elide. I'm not sure yet as to what her powers are, if she even has any, or what her hopes are as far as her future, but I am hoping to see a lot more of her in the next book. 

It was very rewarding to get to see Celaena/Aelin finally get some long awaited revenge on people who have harmed her and the people she cares about in the past. Even more rewarding to see her make a new and lasting friendship with someone that she never used to like. It's nice to see a side of her character that you don't get to see often, a more human side of her. One that's not consumed with war planning and killing, not that I mind those parts of her either, but change is always welcome to keep the character from getting stale.  

The battle that Celaena brings with her  in this book is fantastic. It has been building for the last 3 novels and the end of this novel did not disappoint me in any way. The action, the war against the king, the alliances that Celaena makes along the way were perfection. It was exactly what the author's writing has been promising us throughout this series and we finally get to see it all unfold. 

I know I've made it all sound amazing thus far, but this book took me three days to read. I'm sure you're thinking that 650 pages in three days is pretty good, but for me it's not. Especially with this series. I've been known to devour the TOG books in a day, a day and a half at most; all the while still living my life, going to work, spending time with my family, getting housework done and making meals. I had no trouble plowing through the first third of this book, but once I hit the middle I was so disinterested and bored with the little things that were happening that I had to make myself sit down to read it to get through it at all. I think it took me longer to get through the middle of the book, than it has taken me to get through any of the other books in their entirety. It was painful. But if you read this book, the end is worth getting through the dull middle of the book. 

I have the next book on my shelf ready to read and now that Aeling is in Terrasen I am excited to read the next chapter in her story. The author has been leading up to a much larger war, a worldwide one and if the last battle is any indication of what is to come, I won't be disappointed.

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✬✫
Probability of Rereading:
Yes


Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bellevue Square Review

Bellevue Square
By: Michael Redhill

Jean Mason has a doppelganger. At least, that's what people tell her. Apparently it hangs out in Kensington Market, where it sometimes buys churros and shops for hats. Jean doesn't rattle easy, not like she used to. She's a grown woman with a husband and two kids, as well as a thriving business, and Toronto is a fresh start for the whole family. She certainly doesn't want to get involved in anything dubious, but still . . . why would two different strangers swear up and down they'd just seen her--with shorter hair furthermore? 

Jean's curiosity quickly gets the better of her, and she visits the market, but sees no one who looks like her. The next day, she goes back to look again. And the day after that. Before she knows it, she's spending an hour here, an afternoon there, watching, taking notes, obsessing and getting scared. With the aid of a small army of locals who hang around in the market's only park, she expands her surveillance, making it known she'll pay for information or sightings. A peculiar collection of drug addicts, scam artists, philanthropists, philosophers and vagrants--the regulars of Bellevue Square--are eager to contribute to Jean's investigation. But when some of them start disappearing, it becomes apparent that her alleged double has a sinister agenda. Unless Jean stops her, she and everyone she cares about will face a fate stranger than death.



I just finished the book a few minutes ago, and wanted to get this review done before I have to start getting ready for work, but I really have no idea what to say about this book. I have no idea what the hell happened or how I feel about it. About halfway through the book I realized that I had no idea what was happening, much like the main character Jean, I couldn't figure out what was real and what wasn't. I never did figure it out, if you're wondering. There was such a complicated web woven, full of strange characters and odd circumstances that I feel as though I needed a road map to navigate my way through it. I did expect a bit more suspense and fear based on the synopsis of the book and there was none of either of those things.

In books like this one the one thing that always stands out is the amazing writing by the author. I can't begin to fathom how, if I felt as though I needed a map to help me figure out what was going on, someone think up such a complicated web of events and characters and so perfectly put them on paper, making them come alive in a way that almost but doesn't quite make sense to the reader. In a sense it's complete brilliance, in another it makes me wonder if the author has a screw or two loose. How can someone so completely comprehend such an intense type of mental illness and then characterize it for other people to read and try to understand? I apologize if this is all gibberish, my brain still feels scrambled and confused. 

As much as I may not completely understand what I read or how I feel about it, and I doubt this will ever be a book I want to reread, I do think this book will haunt me for a while. I have been trying to unravel the twisted ball of yarn, that is this book, in my brain since I finished reading a few minutes ago and am no closer to figuring out the truth. If anything I have created more questions than answers. This was one of the most complicated and well written books I have ever read, and while it may not have been my cup of tea, I am glad I read it. I love a good puzzle every now and then. 

Final Rating:
✬✬✬✫✫ 
Probability of Rereading:
No

Thanks for reading!

Opinionated Bookworm

Theirs to Protect (The Marriage Lottery #1) Review

Theirs to Protect (The Marriage Lottery #1) By: Stasia Black In a world where there’s only one woman for every twelve men, a lottery is t...