Beartown by Fredrik Backman

 

You don’t have to like hockey or even know much about it to find this novel riveting for the story revolves around the inhabitants of a small town, their fears, and sorrows and loves – all wrapped around the town hockey team. When violence enters, hearts break and yours will break too for the characters you have come to love.

NB After you’ve read Beartown, read the stunning sequel Us Against You.

Blurb:

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.

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Happy Holidays and happy reading!

Darlene

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

By Darlene Jones Posted in Books

Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere by [Ng, Celeste]

I cannot get this story out of my head. The intricacies of the characters’ relationships, the depth of emotion, the shattering of lives left me with an urge to dive into the novel and sort everyone out. If you’d just mind your own business, I screamed in my head, If you only knew. A vivid depiction of the importance of knowing the facts before acting and then asking yourself, “Is this any of my business?”

Blurb

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

They Came – Billie Milholland

I thought this book might be interesting. It’s not. It’s fascinating. And frustrating. As I read about each woman, I invariably wanted to know more.

What inspired Milholland to undertake the enormous task of gathering all these bits of information together? Billie writes, Women in our small Canadian prairie town didn’t have first names. They were Mrs. Adams, Mrs. Day, Baba Yewchin. The day I realized I didn’t know the first names of either of my own grandmothers was the day I began specific research of They Came.

The stories are often hilarious and more often harrowing.

Edith Vandiver Scoggins and her babies were alone on the homestead when her husband went away to work on a road construction crew. Their cows wandered everywhere because they had no fences. Every evening before Edith went looking for the cows, she tied the baby into a high chair in the yard. She stationed her toddler beside the chair, with strict instruction to sing at the top of her little lungs. The dog sat beside her and howled. As long as Edith could hear the racket, she knew her children were safe.

Milholland included a recipe from each of the women. Edith’s daughter remembers her mother’s good thick Potato Soup. I love this bit of Edith’s recipe. Cube potatoes as small as patience will allow, until you have a full pot.

Blurb:

European settlement of Western Canada was both rapid and dramatic. People came from all over the world to take advantage of cheap land ($10 for 160 acres/64.7 hectares). Women most often came with parents, or followed husbands and brothers. They traded extended family life in familiar landscapes imbued with ancient histories for life in an undeveloped country with few roads and rough, new communities full of people from diverse cultures, speaking dozens of different languages.

We know the stories of men who settled and developed the West, but of the women, except for a handful of rich and famous, we know little. They Came tells the heroic stories of 113 women who came to Western Canada from somewhere else between 1890 and 1950. Following each story is a recipe, something the children and grandchildren remember fondly….

See more here:

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

 

Home Fire – Kamila Shamsie

Home Fire: A Novel by [Shamsie, Kamila]

Incredibly well written novel providing insights that feel 100% genuine. What happens to families grieving the loss of loved ones, manipulated by external forces, and torn apart by circumstances often beyond their control? Home Fire explores all of this which has the reader feeling empathy even for the “enemy.” The brainwashing (and that is not nearly a strong enough word for what happens to Parvaiz) is heart rending as is Aneeka’s grief. This story will haunt you and have you asking “why? how? but?” as you watch the news which you will no longer take at face value. Powerful stuff.

Blurb:

Isma is free. After years of watching out for her younger siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she’s accepted an invitation from a mentor in America that allows her to resume a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London, or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream, to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew. When he resurfaces half a globe away, Isma’s worst fears are confirmed.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Son of a powerful political figure, he has his own birthright to live up to—or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Suddenly, two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined, in this searing novel that asks: What sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas

A powerful education for this middle class white woman. I didn’t want to read it, but I’m so glad I did.

 

The Hate U Give by [Thomas, Angie]

Blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

Britt-Marie Was Here

Some time ago, my little old aunt (who lives in Australia and shuffles off to Italy for several months of every year) suggested I read A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman (an author I had never heard of).

Well, reading Ove led me to Beartown which led me to Brit-Marie Was Here. Next up My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry.

Britt-Marie Was Here

Why do I like Backman’s books so much? They’re about people, regular ordinary people living their lives as best they can. Why do Backman’s characters sing in our hearts? For me, it’s because he takes us into their inner most being. We see their very essence—beliefs, struggles, and desires which become ours as we read. We want for them, what they want for themselves, we recognize our own strengths and foibles as we see theirs. Through his characters, Backman presents philosophical questions that we don’t consider as we hustle about our daily routines, but probably should.

An added bonus is Backman’s beautiful writing style. So pick up one and enjoy! Click here.

BIO

Fredrik Backman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove (soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks), My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s SorryBritt-Marie Was HereBeartownUs Against You, as well as two novellas, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer and The Deal of a Lifetime. His books are published in more than forty countries. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.

 

www.darlenejonesauthor.com

5 reasons to hate Bookbub

 

5 Reasons to Hate Bookbub

As an author:

  1. Snagging a spot

Here’s a recent Bookbub ad.

A Town Like Alice
By Nevil Shute
“A ripping tale of budding romance and grace under pressure” (The Times): Thrust together by war in Malaya, Jean and Joe reunite years later to invigorate a small town in the Australian outback. A thoughtful, poignant classic with over 16,000 five-star ratings on Goodreads.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love Nevil Shute and I’ve read all his books. But how’s a new author to compete with 16,000 five star ratings?

Remember trying to get a job and not being able to because you had no experience, but you couldn’t get experience because you couldn’t get a job.

Well, that’s what Bookbub feels like.

  1. Cost

If listed for $1.99 book ad will cost $1791.

If listed for $0.99 the ad will cost $1127.

If listed for free the ad will cost $712.

If a writer had that kind of money to throw around, they’d already be a bestselling author and wouldn’t need Bookbub.

  1. Time

Apply, get rejected. Apply, get rejected. Apply, get rejected. You get the picture. One publisher said it took her 6 years to get a spot for one of her authors.

 

As a reader:

  1. Blurbs

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book

In this New York Times bestseller

From a #1 New York Times bestselling author

In this “bewitching” New York Times bestseller

In this #1 New York Times bestseller

Really!? ALL these books are on the New York Times best seller list? NOT. Google them if you don’t believe me.

  1. Blurbs

Okay, I know I said blurbs already, but that was just the opening line. How about the actual book description?

When retired cop Jones Cooper receives an unexpected visit, he plunges into an intricate mystery. “Will have you racing to the last page” 

Kate Bishop gets caught in the investigation of a brutal slaying — and discovers a strange ability that could make her the next target. “Fast-paced, riveting, and scary. It will leave the reader breathless”

Preacher’s daughter Catherine Grace escapes her small town — only to discover that the place she left may be exactly where she belongs.

Many readers may be okay with these brief blurbs and get the book anyway (especially if it’s free), but personally, I prefer more information before I spend my money.

SO, why have I tried (unsuccessfully) for a Bookbub ad? I caved because Bookbub has the greatest reach and I’d really like for more readers to find my books. Isn’t that the goal of every author?

If I ever get a spot, I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

 

 

 

Safekeeping by Jessamyn Hope

Of the many elements that come together in a great novel, we count on the characters to drive the story, to elicit emotions inspiring pity, fear, empathy, and above all love.

In Safekeeping, author Hope delivers. This is not your typical, building a kibbutz story. Rather it is a coming together of a diverse lot of people during the dying days of kibbutz life.

Nothing will be the same as Ziva remembers from her days of founding the kibbutz. Nor will everyone find what they are seeking, but then, isn’t that “real” life? Despite the lack of a “happily ever after ending,” the tale comes to its proper conclusion and there is satisfaction in that.

Safekeeping: A Novel by [Hope, Jessamyn]

Blurb

It’s 1994 and Adam, a drug addict from New York City, arrives at a kibbutz in Israel with a medieval sapphire brooch. To redress a past crime, he must give the priceless heirloom to a woman his grandfather loved when he was a Holocaust refugee on the kibbutz fifty years earlier. But first, he has to track this mystery woman down—a task that proves more complicated than expected.

On the kibbutz Adam joins other lost souls: Ulya, the ambitious and beautiful Soviet émigrée; Farid, the lovelorn Palestinian farmhand; Claudette, the French Canadian Catholic with OCD; Ofir, the Israeli teenager wounded in a bus bombing; and Ziva, the old Socialist Zionist firebrand who founded the kibbutz. Driven together by love, hostility, hope, and fear, their fates become forever entangled as they each get one last shot at redemption.

In the middle of that fateful summer glows the magnificent brooch with its perilous history spanning three continents and seven centuries. With insight and beauty, Safekeeping tackles that most human of questions: How can we expect to find meaning and happiness when we know that nothing lasts?

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

I walk in expecting to see books.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Instead I find blankets,

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

and serving dishes. Yes, I’m going to read while my guests visit.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

and this little guy which I was tempted to buy. After all it had a built in screw driver.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

I passed by more dishes, ornaments, toss cushions, purses, greeting cards and paper products ( which made some sense in a book store), skin care products and then spotted diapers and wipes. Who can read with a baby in the house?

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Well maybe if you plunk them into one of these….

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Yes, there were books too. I made it to the till with my choices and ran into these counters.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

Oh, and let’s not bypass these for that baby.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

And these for ourselves on a cold winter’s night.

Is this what it takes for bookstores to survive?

 

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com