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Snap Review: A Man Called Ove

Title: A Man Called Ove

My rating: 4/5


A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.
Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?
Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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Book Reviews · reading challenge · Recap · Summary

Book Review: The Beauty of the Fall by Rich Marcello

Title: The Beauty of the Fall

Author: Rich Marcello

Published: 2016

Pages: 358

Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction

Format: Print copy mailed by author in exchange for an honest review

My rating: 3/5


Dan Underlight, a divorced, workaholic technology executive, suffers lingering grief over the death of his ten-year-old son, Zack. When Dan’s longtime friend and boss, Olivia Whitmore, fires Dan from RadioRadio, the company that he helped create, he crashes and isolates himself.
Willow, a poet and domestic violence survivor, helps Dan regain his footing. With her support, Dan ventures on a pilgrimage of sorts, visiting Fortune 500 companies to flesh out a software start-up idea. When Dan returns home with a fully formed vision, he recruits the help of three former RadioRadio colleagues and starts Conversationworks, a company he believes will be at the vanguard of social change.
Guided by Dan’s generative leadership, Conversationworks enjoys some early successes, but its existence is soon threatened on multiple fronts. Will Dan survive the ensuing corporate battles and realize the potential of his company? Or will he be defeated by his enemies and consumed by his grief?

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Book Reviews · reading challenge

Book Review: Thompson Road by Scott Wyatt

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Title: Thompson Road

Author: Scott Wyatt

Published: 2015

Pages: 274

Genre: Historical Fiction

Format: PDF Advanced Review Copy from the Author

My rating:  4/5

Reading Challenge: A book set in high school


“A sweeping, coming of age romance set in the Pacific Northwest on the brink of WWII. Rejected by classmate and talented swing dancer Sally Springs, high school quarterback Raleigh Starr remains desperate to win her heart. While walking home on Thompson Road, he catches sight of Mona Garrison dancing at her bedroom window. He is mesmerized.

Determined to dazzle Sally, Raleigh convinces the shy sixteen year old to compete with him in a swing dance contest. After he is swept up in the war, Raleigh realizes too late what Mona has always known: that they are perfect for each other…but he is unaware of the terrible price she has paid for his attention. Thompson Road is a poignant, tender story that reminds us of the power of first love.”

A series of unfortunate events is how I can describe this novel for the two main characters: Raleigh and Mona. The novel is broken into several imperative years of coming of age and growth between both of the inhabitants of Thompson Road – the first time they met, high school, war times, post-war, and full adulthood. Each of which could be individual stories of their own. Along the way, I could feel the development each of the characters were going through, especially with the unthinkable challenges they faced. Toward the later stages of their story, there were so many times that I exclaimed words of doubt, fear, and anxiety as the punches kept on coming for Raleigh and Mona –  a pair that unmistakably pulls sympathy as a major emotion out of us readers.

I do not claim to know about the vernacular during this time period, however there were conversations that seemed close to how we talk in the present. Besides this potential discrepancy, I felt transported to the Pacific Northwest, the county fair, the armed forces station, and of course Thompson Road which provide perfect stages for our characters in the building of their friendship and the potential for so much more. The time in the U.S. before, during, and after WWII adds to the stress and setbacks they both face because of the limitations (but realities) of communication, transportation, education, and diagnoses.

Although there is the feel of a common story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, etc, I feel that Wyatt was able to break that mold and utilize a different approach – bringing in third person points of view on several characters, providing some back story and moments of clarity and aha! for the readers. Overall, a quick read that packs emotion and connection to humanity and injustices that may still be a reality. It made me think about what actions we take lead to for not just ourselves for others we did not think would be affected. Some values that I hold close are humility, loyalty, authenticity, and integrity – all of which I thought long and hard about after reading the thoughts, words, and actions of Thompson Road.

Read Thompson Road if you like the themes of:

  • Coming of age
  • Learning disabilities
  • World War II
  • Love
Book Reviews · reading challenge

Book Review: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon


Title: Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Published: 1991

Pages: 850

Genre: Science Fiction/Adventure

Format: Book borrowed from the library

My rating: 4/5

Reading Challenge: A book with more than 500 pages

Review: “I distinctly heard the barman at that pub last night refer to us as Sassenachs.”

“Well why not?” Frank said equably. “It only means ‘Englishman,’ after all, or at worst. ‘outlander,’ and we’re all of that.”

So the introduction begins of Claire Beauchamp Randall to the history of the Scottish highlands as she and her reunited husband, Frank, trace back his heritage of English occupation of Scotland two centuries ago. Along their reconnecting second honeymoon in the highlands, Claire is drawn to the stones of Craigh na Dun, an ancient stone circle. Feeling a strong inclination to one in particular, Claire finds herself hurled through time to 1743 – when Scottish clans feud with the English dragoons. We follow Claire through her confusion and determination to return to her husband, but also her conflicting interests in the welfare of the Scots, particularly the young warrior Jamie Fraser. Knowing what history has in store for everyone she encounters, Claire debates where her loyalty lies and when an opportunity arises for her to return to her own time, she must decide what consequences her actions may take.

After watching a few episodes of the Starz series based on the novels by Diana Gabaldon, I fell in love with Claire and Jamie’s story. Reading through the novel was difficult at first with how dense and comprehensive the story is, however I felt a part of the characters and raced through several pages and chapters to follow what was in store for them next. Before I knew of this series, I had been told that it synonymous with A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) by George R.R. Martin – another one of my all-time favorite storylines. You have the disputing families/clans, deception, sex, battles, you name it! I do appreciate in Outlander how we focus on Claire’s story in her point of view, hearing her thoughts and internal debates, letting us inside her dilemmas.

I felt as if this novel had every aspect of a good story and can serve a number of readers. No matter what time of day or what was happening in life, I could find solace and what I needed in Diana Gabaldon’s storytelling – laughter, romance, intrigue, beauty, suspense – always keeping me guessing. Claire is the epitome heroine, utilizing her knowledge of what is to come along with her strong desire to protect those she loves, never thinking twice about her own well-being – the ultimate sacrifice.

With how Outlander ended, I am hesitant to continue with the series (8 more books) for fear of what is to come, yet anxious to know where Claire is taken next. Until the next one – Dragonfly in Amber.

“For where all love is, the speaking is unnecessary. It is all. It is undying. And it is enough.”

Read Outlander if you like the themes of:

  • Loyalty
  • Love
  • Patriotism/Pride
  • Sacrifice