BOOK REVIEW: Beartown – by Fredrik Backman

Title: Beartown
(Björnstad #1)
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, Sports
First published: April 25th 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Finished reading: September 15th 2017
Pages:432 
(Originally written in Swedish: ‘Björnstad’)

“The very worst events in life have that effect on a family: we always remember, more sharply than anything else, the last happy moments before everything fell apart.”

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Fredrik Backman managed to blow me completely away with his story A Man Called Ove last year, which turned out to be one of my new all time favorites. I’ve been wanting to read one of his other books ever since… So now I finally have more time to read my own books, I decided to pick up my copy of his newest story Beartown. Confession: I’m not a hockey fan at all, so I wasn’t sure if reading a book centered around this sport would work for me. Also, my love for A Man Called Ove is so great that I wasn’t sure if another book would be able to live up to that level of wonderfulness. And it turned out my fears were grounded, because I do think Beartown came nowhere close to reaching that level. BUT. It is also true that this is a completely different story and should be evaluated as such. Because don’t get me wrong, it was without doubt a very good story and it shows Fredrik Backman is a brilliant writer. That said, I wish I could rate both halves of this book separately, because I had a completely different experience for both. While I had my doubts about Beartown during the first half of this story, all of this faded into the background when I reached the second part. Because by the time I reached the final page I was left with a broken heart and my emotions all over the place. It’s impressive that just one book is able to provoke so many contradicting emotions… What started out as a story with a lot of potential, but something that wasn’t able to convince me yet, ended in something I could easy have given a full 5 star rating for. In the beginning, I found myself struggling with the amount of characters and POVs that made it quite hard to keep track of them all. The writing was good, but somehow didn’t manage to lure me in completely and all the hockey talk wasn’t for me either. I found myself not as invested and I was feeling quite disappointed since I LOVED the characters in A Man Called Ove and was hooked right from the first page. Beartown turned out to be a slowburner instead, and while it took me about half the book to get used to the huge cast of characters, writing and situation in Beartown, as soon as I did I was hooked. This story has a few trigger warnings for the more sensitive readers, but the themes discussed in this story and the way the characters react to different situations are both intriguing, messy, realistic and will provoke very powerful emotions. You will love them, hate them, want to yell at them, slap them, hug them, make their pain go away… And you will feel powerless as you turn page after page and see how things unfold. So if you, like me, aren’t immediately convinced by this story, struggle with the multiple POVs and aren’t a hockey fan, don’t discard this book. Beartown is one of those stories where things will most definitely get better; although better is an understatement for the brilliant and realistic execution of the second half.

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Beartown is a tiny community deep in the forest and a true hockey town. Some say Beartown is finished and things have been going downhill for a while. Their hockey team hasn’t shown any true potential in years and jobs have been disappearing as the forest slowly reclaims her territory. But the people in Beartown still believe tomorrow will be better than today, and their junior ice hockey team might be the key to that dream. They are about to compete in the national semi-finals; if they win, this could mean Beartown is back on the so-called hockey map. So all the hopes and dreams of the town now rest of the shoulders of a bunch of teenage boys… How will they react to the pressure? Will they be able to win the game? And what will this whole experience do to their young minds?

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I have called Beartown a slowburner before, and I think this is just the right term for my feelings for this book. It took me a while to warm up to this story and to be honest in the beginning I wasn’t convinced by the multiple POVs and the amount of characters introduced. I’m not a hockey fan and I wasn’t sure if I could handle the prominent role the sport has in the story… But all those worries disappeared as soon as I reached the second half and found myself fully invested. I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers (since the original blurb had a few as well), but some things will happen that will provoke very strong emotions and these feelings won’t let you go until you reach the final page. The fact that there are so many conflicting emotions will leave you wrecked, but fully satisfied. The ending is quite interesting as well, and will make you wonder about how the story started. All in all recommended despite the not that convincing start!


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WWW Wednesdays #155 – September 20th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

I’m currently reading both my latest TBR jar pick Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes and my 800+ pages book for this year It by Stephen King. I’m only a few pages into both so I don’t have anything substantial to say yet… Other than that I’ll probably end up finishing It next month since I want to read a few other titles first.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Dollmaker Of Krakow by R.M. Romero (4/5 stars) REVIEW
I was sold as soon as I saw the cover and blurb, and there is no doubt that the writing is just as beautiful as the stunning cover. The Dollmaker Of Krakow is a truly unique story that mixes historical events with a fairytale-like fantasy world and sometimes feels a lot like magical realism. This innocent way of approaching the holocaust is a truly fascinating angle and very well executed; the fantasy elements only add to the overal originality of the story.

2. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (4/5 stars) REVIEW 21/09
It took me a while to warm up to this story and to be honest in the beginning I wasn’t convinced by the multiple POVs and the amount of characters introduced. I’m not a hockey fan and I wasn’t sure if I could handle the prominent role the sport has in the story… But all those worries disappeared as soon as I reached the second half and found myself fully invested. I don’t want to give away too much to avoid spoilers (since the original blurb had a few as well), but some things will happen that will provoke very strong emotions and these feelings won’t let you go until you reach the final page. The fact that there are so many conflicting emotions will leave you wrecked, but fully satisfied. The ending is quite interesting as well, and will make you wonder about how the story started. All in all recommended despite the not that convincing start!

3. A Different Blue by Amy Harmon (4/5 stars) REVIEW 23/09
Even though this wasn’t my favorite story, I still very much enjoyed it and I was surprised there wasn’t as much romance involved as I would have expected. Blue was a great character even though she wasn’t exactly likeable and I love her art and what it symbolizes. I wasn’t a big fan of Darcy though and I could have done without the love triangle… But the writing was excellent as always. Beautiful, raw, strong and emotional story!

4. The Mistake by K.L. Slater (4/5 stars) REVIEW 25/09
I’ve been looking forward to this one… And although it’s not my favorite of the bunch, it is still without doubt a very well written and suspensful psychological thriller. The main problem I had was with the main characters, which I found highly unlikeable… Rose and Garreth made me cringe A LOT. But. The writing is excellent and the situation and consequences of grooming very well and realistically described. I liked the idea of the chapters going back between past and present; showing this way both what happened all those years ago and how this effected Rose’s life even after all those years.

5. Things I’m Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni (?/5 stars) REVIEW 26/09
I’ve only just finished this one as I’m writing this WWW, and I’m still struggling to decide what to make of this one. The writing style is very engaging and made this story into a very fast read. The whole funeral business definitely gives this story a unique touch and actually adds to the plot as well. I’m still not sure about the characters, but I’m hoping to write something a bit more coherent in the next few days or so.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m pickin up Her Last Secret by Barbara Copperthwaite next even though it’s recently due next month… I’ve been looking forward to this one. I also want to read Heartless by Marissa Meyer; I’ve been posponing this one for way too long now. Another ARC I need to pick up soon is Halfway by Lokesh/Anubhav Sharma… And I have a new TBR jar pick! Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, a historical fiction read which I have been wanting to read for ages so I’m really happy this title popped up. I can’t wait to finally read it!


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WWW Wednesdays #154 – September 13th

WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

At the time I’m writing this WWW I’m still reading The Dollmaker Of Krakow by R.M. Romero, but most likely I will already have finished it by the time this post goes live. Because I’m flying through this middle grade historical fiction/fantasy read. Very unique and intriguing so far… I’m also starting Beartown by Fredrik Backman; A Man Called Ove is one of my all time favorites so I still don’t know why it took me this long to pick it up. Straight after I will continue with A Different Blue by Amy Harmon, because it’s been too long since I last read one of her stories. Gotta love finally reading my own books again. ❤

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

1. The Surrogate by Louise Jensen (4,5/5 stars) REVIEW
If you are looking for your next psychological thriller, you have just found your story. Because The Surrogate is perfect for any fan of the genre and will leave you both speechless and mindblown by the last page. The story starts out rather conventional and gives you that false security that you have already figured out what is probably going to happen… And then the plot twists bombs start falling and you will discover you were SO wrong about everything. Oh yes, The Surrogate will mess with your mind and you will love every single minute of it. Because this is one brilliantly executed psychological thriller.

2. This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab REREAD (5/5 stars) OLD REVIEW
This one was a reread in preparation of the second and final book of the duology and I loved it just as much the second time around. But then again, it’s Schwab we’re talking about and everything she touches seems to turn into gold in the first place. BRILLIANT.

3. Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab (5/5 stars) REVIEW 15/09
Error, page not found… Excuse me while my mind recovers from the blow. Because WOW. Victoria Schwab wasn’t kidding when she said this wasn’t a happy story… I admire her all the more for it even though this book kind of broke my heart… Bulldozer or not, I loved this story and how things developed. I’m not saying this Monsters Of Verity duology can compete with the Shades Of Magic trilogy, but I like to see them as two completely separate series that both deserve all the love.

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

I’m pickin up The Mistake by K.L. Slater next even though it’s recently due next month… I loved her previous books so I can’t wait to dive into this one! ! I also want to read Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin as well as Heartless by Marissa Meyer. Both have been on my TBR for way too long now. And my latest TBR jar pick is still Flowers For Algéron by Daniel Keyes, a modern classic that I can conveniently use for one of the challenges as well and hope to read before the end of this month.


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Friday Finds #119 – February 3rd

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FRIDAY FINDS showcases the most interesting books I’ve encountered during the last week and have added to my neverending TBR list on Goodreads. Below a selection of my newest additions; click on the book descriptions to go to its Goodreads page! 😀

My finds:

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TOP 10 Favorite New Authors Discovered In 2016

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With this year almost coming to an end, I thought it was about time to look back at all those books I’ve read and all those amazing new authors I have discovered in 2016. Some of the authors on this list have published their debut this year, while others have been writing books for years and I’ve only started reading their work recently. But what all have in common is that they have written some pretty darn good books! ❤ ❤


1. VICTORIA (V.E.) SCHWAB

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There is simply no way I can talk about favorite new authors without mentioning this author and her work. I don’t know why I have started reading her books before 2016, but what I do know is that V.E. Schwab is now one of my all time favorite authors. Everything she writes is simply brilliant!! A Darker Shade Of Magic is still my absolute favorite, with This Savage Song coming in a close second. But both A Gathering Of Shadows and Vicious were excellent reads as well. I will be looking forward to the sequels that will be published in 2017!

2. FREDRIK BACKMAN

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Although this Swedish author has been publishing books for years, I’ve only recently found out about his work. Fredrik Backman has been all over the book blog community lately, and his work is worth all the hype around it. I read A Man Called Ove last month and completely fell in love with both the character, the prose and the humor used. Not many authors can make me laugh and cry with the same story, and he is without doubt one of my favorite new discoveries this year.

3. BLAKE CROUCH

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I was vaguely aware of this author and his Wayward Pines series, but with so many other pending series I never actually bought a copy of the first book. But then earlier this year suddenly Dark Matter was literally EVERYWHERE. I admit I don’t read a lot of science fiction; not because I don’t like the genre, but there are other genres I simply like better. But it was really hard to ignore this book after so many recommendations, and Dark Matter is definitely one of those books that is actually worth the hype. It was simply BRILLIANT.

4. SHALINI BOLAND

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I requested a Netgalley copy of The Girl From The Sea a few months back, and it turned out to be one of the best psychological thrillers I was able to read this year. Shalini Boland instantly made it to my new favorite authors list, so I was more than honored when she contacted me with the question if I wanted to read/review her newest book The Best Friend as well. it turned out to be yet another excellent psychological thriller, and I will definitely be looking forward to any new thriller titles.

5. MEGAN MIRANDA

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Megan Miranda is another author that became an instant favorite after reading a Netgalley ARC. All The Missing Girls is without doubt one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve read and one I cannot recommend enough. I have just received a copy of The Perfect Stranger as well, which will be published next year, and words cannot describe how excited I am to be reading this book soon! 😀

6. TIFFANY MCDANIEL

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Did I mention already how happy I am that I finally signed up for Netgalley this year?! TIffany McDaniel is yet another Netgalley find, and it’s without doubt one of the most interesting and well written stories I’ve read this year. The Summer That Melted Everything is the author’s debut novel, and what a brilliant way to start!

7. ROBERT BRYNDZA

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I’m sure I’ve mentioned before the mystery/thriller genre is one of my favorites, and the books in DCI Erika Foster series always seem to deliver. And to be honest, I’m in awe with the pace Robert Bryndza is able to write and publish so many quality thrillers! The Girl In The Ice, The Night Stalker and Dark Water have all been published in 2016, and although the second book is my absolute favorite, I highly enjoyed all three of them. I will be looking forward to the next book of the series!

8. MAGGIE HALL

theconspiracyofusseriesTo be honest, I wasn’t to sure if this series was going to be for me…But besides the romance scenes I didn’t particularly care for, The Conspiracy Of Us is basically an example of what I would call a perfect read. A fast pace, easy-to-read prose, an interesting plot with just the right amount of plot twists, an international atmosphere, characters I can connect to… Check. Check. CHECK! I loved the first book so much I decided to read the sequel Map Of Fates straight away and trust me, that doesn’t happen often. The third book is one of my most anticipated 2017 releases… And Maggie Hall one of my new favorite authors.

9. HEATHER DEMETRIOS

I saw this book around a lot last year, but was afraid to read it because I thought it was going to be another sappy romance novel. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Heather Demetrios has made it to my new favorite author list with I’ll Meet You There, a well written story full of raw and honest emotions, flawed characters you cannot help but fall in love with and just the right dose of romance. I practically flew through this book and it’s without one of my favorite reads so far this year.

10. JULIE BUXBAUM

tellmethreethingsI always seem to be complaining about romance scenes I didn’t like, but there are authors that can make me forget I don’t actually like the genre all that much. Julie Buxbaum turned out to be one of them. Sure, Tell Me Three Things is in fact quite cheesy and even has the dreaded love triangle, but I fell in love with the story anyway. It’s the perfect ‘feel-good’ read and very very addicting.


I can’t believe how hard it was to narrow it down to just ten authors! I guess it’s a great sign I was able to read a LOT of excellent books this year though. 😉 Have you read any of these books? And what are your favorite new authors this year?

BOOK REVIEW: A Man Called Ove – by Fredrik Backman

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Title: A Man Called Ove
Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Fiction, Humor, Contemporary
First published: August 27th 2012
Publisher: Atria Books
Finished reading: November 22nd 2016
Pages: 337
(Originally written in Swedish: “En man som heter Ove”)
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“We always think there’s enough time to do things with other people. Time to say things to them. And then something happens and then we stand there holding on to words like ‘if’.”

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There has been a lot of hype around Fredrik Backman‘s work this year, and I thought it was about time to find out just exactly what everybody was raving about. And boy do I regret not having picked up my copy of A Man Called Ove earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with both the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. He really reminded me of Carl, the grumpy old man from the movie Up! And Ove’s character is just as endearing in his own grumpy way. Apart from the prose itself and the fabulous character, Fredrik Backman is also able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley. The humor might not be for everyone, but even so I would suggest trying A Man Called Ove if you haven’t already. It’s without doubt one of my favorite reads this year!

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Ove is a grumpy man who finds his solitary world turned upside down when a young family moves in next door. He is the kind of man with strict routines and a short fuse. People around him call him ‘the bitter neighbor from hell’, but is he really bitter just because he doesn’t seem friendly all the time? Behind his cranky exterior is a story and a sadness that will slowly be revealed as random things start happening when the family next door moves in.

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This is not the first time I have been blown away by a Swedish book, and A Man Called Ove has definitely been added to my list of all time favorites. I’m having a hard time writing a coherent review, but what I can say is that I strongly suggest reading this story. It’s just that good! I’m aware the humor I myself loved might be a turn off for some, but even so I would say it is worth the try. I will be looking forward to read his other books soon.

WWW Wednesdays #112 – November 23rd

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WWW WEDNESDAYS is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On A World Of Words and is all about answering the three questions below.

  • WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

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I’m currently almost finished rereading Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, and of course I’m loving this story as much as I did the first time around. As soon as I do end the final page, I’m picking up the sequel Crooked Kingdom! I’m also reading the Netgalley ARC While You Were Sleeping by Kathryn Croft, although I’m only a few pages into that one so far. And I’m quite far into my very first audiobook experience with Secondhand Smoke by M. Louis. I have to admit it takes some time getting used to the whole audiobook thing, but this action-packed story does make it a lot easier for me to enjoy the process.

  • WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

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* I first finished reading Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi, which I had picked up on a whim after being in the mood for a fantasy read. (The fact that it’s a Goodreads Choice Nominee is a bonus of course). I loved the worldbuilding and the prose is great, but I wasn’t too convinced by the characters or the ending. It’s a middle grade read though, and I have a feeling the target group will probably love this story.
* I then finished reading The Girls Next Door by Mel Sherratt, which turned out to be quite a refreshing new detective series in the way that the detective the series is named after doesn’t play that big of a role nor does she have a messed up private life. It’s also quite a fast-paced read, although I have to admit the sheer amount of characters that is introduced can get quite confusing at times. I had a hard time identifying where each character stood in the story, and it made it more difficult to actually just enjoy the story. I also had problems with the credibility?
* Afterwards I decided to read When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, and it turns out it is nominated for Best Memoir for a good reason. This memoir is powerful, raw, emotional and simply heartbreaking… The story of a young neurosurgeon who lost the battle against cancer, a man who tried to write down the story of his life during a race against the clock. The rush especially shows in the last part he wrote himself, but that only makes this memoir more authentic. The final part written by his wife was especially moving.
* Afterwards I decided to continue with Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. It’s a truly interesting historical fiction novel set in both Africa and the US and follows different generations of two initial characters. The story was a bit confusing in the beginning, mostly due to the sheer amount of characters that are introduced over time. The pace was a tad slow at times as well, but overall Homegoing is without doubt a very powerful and well researched historical fiction novel.
* The last book I read is A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman, which was my last TBR jar pick. And boy do I regret not having picked this one up earlier! This originally Swedish book was in one word BRILLIANT. I fell in love with the prose and main character from the very first page and it’s been a while since a book has been able to make me laugh and cry at the same time. Ove has managed to win over my heart, grumpiness and all, and he is hands down one of my new favorite characters. Fredrik Backman is able to combine heartbreaking and sensitive topics with a humor that is right up my alley; I can’t wait to read more of his work soon. (By the way, am I the only one who thinks Ove sounds a bit like the old grumpy man in the movie Up?)

  • WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

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I’m still trying to read more Goodreads Choice Awards nominees, so I have The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner and Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly on my list. I also want to try and read my very first Reading Alley ARC: Tipping Point by Tomas Byrne. Lastly, I have a new TBR jar pick: Little Women by Louise May Alcott. I have to admit I have never read this classic before nor am I that excited about it, but hopefully I will turn out to be wrong about this one. At least it’s a great excuse to squeeze in another classic before the end of this year. 😉