Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman ~ 2012

Fredrik Backman's debut novel is about a cranky old man next door.
It is a thoughtful insight of the profound impact one life has on others.

Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Washington Square Press; Reprint edition (May 5, 2015)
Publication: Published July 15th 2014 by Atria Books (first published August 27th 2012)
Pages: 337
ISBN-10: 1476738025
ISBN-13: 978-1476738024
Language: English
Translation copyright © 2014 by Henning Koch
Interior design: Paul Dippolito
Jacket design: Alan Dingman
Jacket photographs: Getty and Shutterstock
Author photograher: Linnea Jonasson Bernholm/Appendix Fotografi

a Book Clubbin' read

5 Stars

Fredrik Backman
Wow.  One of the best reads I've read in quite the while.

Ove is 59.
He drives a Saab.

People said he was bitter.  Maybe they were right, but, he is the most grumpiest man you will meet.  And with good cause.

Told in alternating chapters, Fredrik Backman's bestselling and humerous debut novel, tells of a grumpy yet loveable man having his self-inflicted solitary world being invaded by 'clueless' neighbors.

Ove is a man who has a short fuse and yells at his 'incompetent' neighbors, does not like Cat Annoyance, and there is no way he will pay a three kronor surcharge.  This lonely old grump who even punches Beppo the volunteer hospital clown for trying to trick him over a five kronor coin is actually hilarious.  After you understand why he does what he does, you'll put a grin on your face for sure.

I personally loved this guy, a man of strict routine.  He gets up everyday, almost for four decades at the same time and makes his inspection rounds through the neighborhood.  He is the chairman of the Residents Association.  He makes sure there are no cars parked where they're not supposed to park, no vandalism through the night, checks the trash room, checks the traffic signs giving the metal poles a good kick - he checks the status of all things with a good kick.  Even checks door handles by tugging on them three times.  Principled.

Six months after his wife’s death, he’s planning to commit suicide.  Sonja was the world to him.  People said Ove saw the world in black & white.  But she was color.  All the color he had.  It's Tuesday night and he's cancelled his newspaper subscription, switched off the radiators, and turned off the lights.  And tomorrow he's putting up that hook.

But if anyone had asked, he would have told them that he never lived before he met her.  And not after either. 

Suicide and Ove - they didn't mix, time and time again.  The reasons why were actually quite practical and there was logical reasoning behind his thinking.  From bicycles, to radiators, to trips to the hospital, to having to back up trailers, to ... these were all hilarious scenes.  Ove just wants to die in peace.  Is that really too much to ask?

The neighborhood is filled with vivid characters, some new and some old, that gave the story depth.  Life is changing around him and when an Iranian immigrant, Parvaneh and her husband Patrick and their two daughter's ages three and seven, move in next door - life definitely had changed.

Her children smile at Ove's grumpiness through the story and I smiled right along with them.
Maybe, in some way the children saw this old bellyacher having a heart of gold.  The pictures they drew for him -  very heartfelt folks.

Here, the story unfolds into a heartwarming and humorous satire tale of memories, sadness, and a love that will always be.  You will be glad to have met Ove.

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Here's a reference I found:

Mr. Backman got the idea for “Ove” five years ago, when he was freelancing for the Swedish magazine Cafe.  A college dropout, he once worked as a forklift driver at a food warehouse, taking night and weekend shifts so that he could write during the day.

A colleague at Cafe wrote a blog post for their website about seeing a man named Ove explode with rage while buying tickets at an art museum, until his wife intervened.

“My wife read the blog post and said, ‘This is what life is like with you,’” Mr. Backman said.  “I’m not very socially competent.  I’m not great at talking to people.  My wife tends to say, your volume is always at 1 or 11, never in between.”

Mr. Backman started writing blog posts for Cafe about his own pet peeves and outbursts, under the heading, “I Am a Man Called Ove.”   Mr. Backman realized that he had the blueprint for a compelling fictional character, and the novel began to take shape.  “There’s a lot of me in him,” he said of Ove.  “When we get angry, it’s about a principle, and we get angry because people don’t understand why we’re angry.”

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How do you say Ove?

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A Man Called Ove

 Here's where you can get your fingers on A Man Called Ove:
  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $12.99 ~ Hardcover $15.57 ~ Paperback $9.74 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $12.99 ~ Hardcover $16.40 ~ Paperback $10.66 USD

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About the author  ~

Connect with Fredrik

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. 

Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty five territories. His latest novel is BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. 

He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children.

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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware ~ 2016

She believes there has been a murder, everyone thinks she's crazy

Author: Ruth Ware
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press; Reprint edition (July 19, 2016)
Publication: July 16, 2016
Pages: 384
Language: English
Interior design: Jaime Putorti
Jacket design: Alan Dingman
Jacket photographs: Alamy and Arcangel
Author photograher: Nick Tucker

a Book Clubbin' read

3 Stars

Ruth Ware
I was expecting too much from this read.  All the hype and a NY Times best seller?

It opened up with the protagonist, Lo Blacklock, being burgled.  Lo, a journalist who suffers from childhood panic attacks, works for a travel rag and she has landed her dream assignment that would put her back into being noticed as a legit and unbelievable reporter – a week on the maiden voyage of the luxurious cruise liner the Aurora in the North Sea.

After you try to feel for Lo and her shortcomings, I had to give up on her and wished she was the one thrown over the side.  Being burgled in the beginning of the tale, this I believe, sets the stage for her neurotic behavior.  Her constant repetitive petulant dialogue was unnerving and her character did not grow through the tale.  She whined, complained, always drank too much even when she knows she shouldn’t, and her decision making was immature for an adult.

The story was pretty much about the protagonist rather than the woman in cabin ten.  Sure there is a mystery – one night Lo had seen something or someone being tossed over the side from cabin ten’s veranda.  She tells security and the ship still sails – why?  Well, after inspection all passengers are accounted for.

She tells security she did see a woman in cabin ten and actually talked with her, even borrowed some mascara.  When security opens cabin ten, there is no one there and no belongings in sight.  What?

Okay the mystery begins.  From here on out the story needed all kinds of cliff-hangers and excitement, but, to no avail.  This tale was written with a  monotone level of drawn out whining from the protagonist, a pace that was slower than the tortoise in that infamous race and a plethora of one-dimensional characters that contributed pretty much nothing for the tale.  And, a plot that can only be describe as simple.

I am surprised this read had accolades.  The story could have been better as a short-story and then I could see those accolades.  No, on second thought, the tale was too boring and repetitive with Lo.  The read kept me for a couple of reasons:  One, I hoped for intrigue that was going to be on the next page (never happened); Two, had to find out if those accolades were resourceful (they were not); Three, after ¾ of the read what’s a few more yawns?  And four, had to finish it to see how it ended.

The ending did not satisfy me.  There was some excitement I should say with the chase and how that ended and without giving the ending away, I will tell you it does not matter how rich you are and/or what kind of strings you can pull to have your way, happiness will not be found in a dollar bill when it illegally comes floating your way.

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As an avid reader, I am disappointed in this tale.  Maybe her next one, The Lying Game: A Novel (2017) will be better for my tastes.  Love debuts, maybe - in a dark, dark wood (2015).  At any rate folks, I'd read her work again.

 Here's where you can get your fingers on The Woman in Cabin 10:

  •  Amazon ~ Kindle $11.99 ~ Hardcover $16.48 ~ Paperback $10.03 USD
  •  Barnes & Noble ~ NOOK $11.99 ~ Hardcover $17.41 ~ Paperback $10.55 USD

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About the author  ~

 Connect with Ruth

Ruth Ware grew up in Sussex, on the south coast of England. After graduating from Manchester University she moved to Paris, before settling in North London. She has worked as a waitress, a bookseller, a teacher of English as a foreign language and a press officer, and is the internationally bestselling author of In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, and the forthcoming The Lying Game (July 2017). She is married with two small children.

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