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review 2016-11-06 07:26
A Man Called Ove
A Man Called Ove - Fredrik Backman
ISBN: 9781476738017
Publisher: Atria 
Publication Date: 7/15/2014 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 5 Stars


Fredrik Backman has created a unique brand, with his own genre and collection of quirky humorous characters, with light-hearted, and deeply moving stories.

It all started with the sensational debut, A MAN CALLED OVE, (pronounced OO-va), now a film, recently released in the US, featured in the latest Oct 2016, New York Times article . What an inspiring story!

I read the author's latest this weekend, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer his first novella and was hooked! (My favorite Novella of 2016, and my favorite of his books, thus far). I actually have read and reread it several times. It will touch your heart. As usual, I tend to start with the latest release and work my way backward.

Immediately, following the novella, quickly completed a Backman backlist "binge" weekend read; listening to all his books via audio to catch up. Currently reading My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. Will be catching up with reviews.

Each story is unique, deeply moving, and comes with big important life message. All of Backman’s stories are about real people, in different turning points of their lives, most alone and starting over. However, they find a new way to approach life and look differently at those around them.


Featured in A MAN CALLED OVE, is a grumpy miserable man, age 59. He loves his Saab, and of course, knows nothing about computers or technology. He is very rigid and wants everyone to follow his rules. He does not like change.

His wife, Sonia died earlier and she was the only one who could keep him in line. (A beautiful back story). Life is not worth living without his soul-mate and wants to join her in the afterworld. He misses her. He talks to her constantly.

However, a young couple and their children move in next door, plus all sorts of tragic news, including his oldest friend going to a nursing home.

His suicide plans have to take a back seat while dealing with one conflict after another. He is set in his ways and wants things his way. From turning off his radiators, canceling his newspaper subscription and even went so far as to anchor a hook into the ceiling to hang himself.

But he keeps getting interrupted by his clueless, prying neighbors. He strikes up a friendship with an Iranian immigrant and her two young daughters, who find Ove’s grumpiness endearing. However, underneath this rough exterior, the man is quite generous, with a heart of gold.

If you are in the US, some may see some similarities with (2008) Clint Eastwood’s “Gran Torino” character, Walt. Both leading men; grumpy widowers, retired; very rigid, leading a solitary life, miserable lives. Both wives have recently died. They do not fit in today’s world. They despise their neighbors. They both love their cars (Eastwood, 1972 Gran Torino).

However, in the end, both leading men, develop unlikely friendships, and they take their neighbors under their wing and become the hero in the end. (Of course, A Man Called Ove, lacks all the violence, included in Grand Torino, and the storylines are totally different). However, fun parallels; to see the hardest of men turn soft in a positive, admirable way.

Highly recommend the Swedish blogger’s endearing, charming entire book collection. Can’t wait to see what comes next. (Love the branding, and covers).

Can you believe, this is four years later, “A Man Called Ove” has sold more than 2.8 million copies worldwide, making the book one of Sweden’s most popular literary exports since Stieg Larsson’s thriller “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”

“Ove” became a blockbuster in Sweden, selling more than 840,000 copies. It was adapted into a successful stage production and an award-winning Swedish feature film, which recently opened in the US. In the US, the book landed on the bestseller list for 18 months. After first published and has remained for 42 weeks! Reprinted 40 times and has sold more than a million copies in print.”

This recent post by Writer Ilana sums up Backman’s writing perfectly: The Magic of Fredrik Backman"

“In his writing, Backman demonstrates a sense of positivity in the world, even while describing desperate circumstances. He covers up horror with humor but allows sadness and pain to have their time on the page as well, once his characters have developed enough of a closeness with each other to be able to experience it together. There is a kind of central thesis to his books in this: pain is something to be shared, something that is far harder to deal with alone and that is often pushed down or ignored or dealt with matter-of-factly when one doesn’t have a support network.”

Well said! Atria definitely has discovered an award-winning much loved Scandinavian Star (the US has embraced). What a success!! "He Wins Hearts on the Page and Now on the Screen!" Movie Trailer

Reading Group Guide.
An ideal book club pick.


The narrator, George Newbern (audiobook) delivered a captivating performance.








Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/10/01/A-Man-Called-Ove
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review 2015-12-20 09:19
The Secrets of Eden
Secrets of Eden - Chris Bohjalian

By: Chris Bohjalian

Narrators: Mark Bramhall, Susan Denaker, Rebecca Lowman, Kathe Mazur 


Publisher:  Random House Audio

Pub Date: 2/10/2010

Format:  Audio

My Rating:  5 Stars 

The Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian, is a compelling yet haunting exploration into domestic violence. Told from four different profound voices--a town shaken by a tragedy of one woman. Secrets. What could have been done to prevent such a violent action?

Set in Vermont, Alice Hayward is being baptized by her minister Stephen Drew; however, this was the beginning of the end for Alice. She would be murdered shortly thereafter, before her new spiritual life could begin.

George, a controlling, violent husband, and father. An alcoholic. A daughter, who lives in the midst of seeing her mother beaten constantly and a father who has two sides. Good and evil. Mostly evil.

Stephen, the minister is haunted by Alice’s death. What could he have done to save her life. Now he feels his own faith slipping away. He meets Heather, the author of inspirational books about angels. She also has a story of violence with her own parents and becomes a welcome support for both Alice’s daughter and Stephen.

When Stephen and Alice are found murdered, at first everyone thought Stephen killed her then committed suicide. A murder suicide. Could someone else have killed the husband after he murdered his wife?

We also hear from Katie, now fifteen year old orphan---her thoughts about her mom, dad, Heather, and Stephen. The bullying from her dad, and the wife beating. The deputy state attorney Catherine, is suspicious when the minister leaves town and his close connection to Alice. .

A riveting literary murder mystery thriller! I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Mark Bramhall, Susan Denaker, Rebecca Lowman, Kathe Mazur, delivering a suspenseful performance for each respective voice.

You are hooked from the first page to the last, hanging on every word. Each character brings something different to the story, as it moves forward. Ordinary people, faced with extraordinary circumstances. I liked how the book was broken up into four parts which made it easy to follow via audio.

Heather is charismatic, Stephen is cynical, Alice is complex with many secrets, and Katie is torn---A realistic account of abuse and domestic violence, and how it effects all the lives involved. Bohjalian delves into the profound mysteries of human existence in all his books I have read thus far--each book is unique.

So excited about Christ Bohjalian's books (I have only newly discovered this extraordinary author--a blend of literary and contemporary).

I am quickly making my way through his back list via audio, playing catch up. I fell in love with The Double Bind first (ahhh), Midwives, The Law of Similars (this past week) and now Secrets of Eden . I have purchased the remaining ones on audible; however, before I begin,I am jumping to:

The most anticipated upcoming release: THE GUEST ROOM.Christmas came early-- just received the best gift......an advanced reading copy from NetGalley (approval happy dance)!

My second Christmas unexpected gift came from Chris Bohjalian, a short story: Nothing Very Bad Could Happen to You There. What a great idea and a lovely gift! I wish more authors would do this type of promo. Really creates interest for the upcoming new release. A prologue to the novel--The Guest Room about Alexandra, the woman at the center of the novel, with a special note about the book from the author.
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I am dropping all my other scheduled books to get to The Guest Room. Dying to see what goes down and how . . . in the meantime folks, read all his books...spellbinding!

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1465414570
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review 2015-12-06 20:50
The Christmas Train
The Christmas Train - David Baldacci

By:  David Baldacci

ASIN: B000776K4Q
Narrated by: Tim Matheson
Release Date: 12/03/04
Publisher: Hachette Audio

Format:  Audio

My Rating:  4 Stars


A  huge David Baldacci fan, enjoyed THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN, an ideal book for the holiday season- An uplifting and lighthearted journey.

A bit of a wanderlust, a lover of trains; Mysterious, intriguing---have always wanted to take a ride cross country-- so adventurous. A charming book - The audio offered nice effects, making it realistic, setting the mood, with vivid descriptions.

The narrator Tim Matheson delivered an excellent performance, reminding me a little of Richard Paul Evans’ heartwarming books, centered around the holiday season.

Full of colorful memorable characters: from New Orleans jazz, funny eccentric older ladies, actors, movie producers, and writers.

Tom Langdon is the main character and writer taking the train to California to see his girlfriend, to go skiing in Tahoe for the holidays. Ironically, he runs into his former love Eleanor, whom he has never gotten over who is now a big movie director.

From romance, snow storms, a thief, undercover folks, Max the movie guy and a staff full of fabulous friendly Amtrak employees – making this a humorous and fun trip.

Makes you want to plan a train trip soon to meet all the fun people along the journey, in a slower-paced time. 

“It's not getting from A to B. It's not the beginning or the destination that counts. It's the ride in between...This train is alive with things that should be seen and heard. It's a living, breathing something -- you just have to want to learn its rhythm.” --― David Baldacci, The Christmas Train 


“Two people can care for each other but not want the same things.”
― David Baldacci, The Christmas Train

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/547946031
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review 2015-12-06 06:52
Skipping Christmas
Skipping Christmas - John Grisham

By:  John Grisham

Narrator: Dennis Boutsikaris

ASIN: B00005TQ1C

Publisher: Random House 

Publication Date: 11/6/2001

Format: Audio

My Rating: 3 Stars


If you have seen Christmas with the Kranks (2004) starring Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Julie Gonzalo, René Lavan, and Dan Aykroyd, you almost forget the movie is based on John Grishman’s book, SKIPPING CHRISTMAS.

I have seen the movie several times over the years, and needed a fun audiobook with a day of working and website updates. Grisham provides plenty of entertaining fun, wit, and humor.

Basically, their only daughter is going away for Christmas, so the parents decide they will boycott Christmas, and plan a cruise to the Caribbean. No shopping, gifts, baking, parties, and all the commercial stuff. (we all would like to do this—I have done so many times--easier  when you live out of town).

What’s funny is the tanning bed. I was laughing out loud. The parents want to get a good tan and lose weight, botox injections to look good in the swimsuits, before their trip. The neighbors get mad, then there is Frosty. Quirky and crazy.

At the minute their daughter calls. She is coming home for Christmas, having met a doctor. She has told him all about her parent’s famous holiday parties. They have twelve hours to pull off a party.


They are scrambling to pull off a Christmas holiday to keep up the pretenses. Everyone has an opinion. The neighbors all pull together with the help of some outsiders. If you want some laughs, get the audio, narrated by Dennis Boutsikaris, and watch the DVD.

Having read most all of Grisham’s legal crime thrillers, it was fun seeing a different side of the author.


Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1460769138
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review 2015-12-06 04:56
Absolute Power
Absolute Power - David Baldacci,Scott Brick,Hachette Audio

By: David Baldacci 

Narrated by: Scott Brick
Length: 19 hrs and 7 mins 


Publisher: Hachette Audio

Publication Date: 1/1/2010 

Format: Audio 

My Rating: 4.5 Stars


Not sure how I missed David Baldacci's first book, ABSOLUTE POWER! However, have seen the movie several times over the years with, Gene Hackman, Clint Eastwood, and Ed Harris (1997). A career thief witnesses a horrific crime involving the U.S. President.

From the mansion in Virginia, the sexual scandal, passion turned violent, a burglar behind a wall. Passion turns deadly involving the President of US. A witness. New meaning to the wrong place, at the wrong time. Corruption, conspiracy, scandal. An attorney. A wife. a Mistress. A thief. An estranged daughter. Secret Service. Homicide Cop. The media. Power. Danger. Why was the President here and the circumstances leading him here? Suspense, Mystery. Crime. Intrigue. A Coverup. A Political Crime Thriller!

Many of you are aware I am a huge David Baldacci fan; however, I began my reading, with his newer, more recent books-- always anxiously awaiting the next in the series. Over the years, I typically choose audiobook format, in order to further enhance my reading experience with his books.

While my book blog focuses on new and upcoming releases--currently read 95% advanced reading copies and upcoming new releases. However, when I find an author I enjoy, I will use Audible as a great resource to get my fix- to catch up with older books, I have missed along the way. Here I am going from the 30th, back to the first.

Having recently finished two of New York Times best-selling author's latest thrillers, landing on my top Books for 2015,MEMORY MAN, and THE GUILTY, (both 5 stars), I ran across a posting:

To celebrate the release of David Baldacci’s latest novel The Guilty, we find out more about the American thriller writer whose 30 adult novels have sold more than 110 million copies in more than 80 countries worldwide. Learn which of the author’s books are his personal favorites, and find out what it takes to master the depth of research that sets his works apart from the competition.

“Thriller writer David Baldacci selects his own personal favorites out of his 30 bestsellers”: The Telegraph Nov 15, 2015 by David Baldacci: “My Best Five Novels”. When reading the posting, I was quite intrigued and fascinated. These are the books I want to read!

ABSOLUTE POWER (1996) First Novel

His first, and latest, are included.

When reviewing my own reading list, I had not read and purchased the audible books. ABSOLUTE POWER, offers a new recording (Jan 1, 2010) and cover—the first of the blockbuster thrillers by Baldacci---a book which changes the way you think about Washington. Of course since then, we have seen plenty of scandals; however, all this was prior to.

Bonus: What really makes this edition special, David tells his story at the beginning of the audio. We all think of him as the successful, talented author he is, and the place he has earned in the literary world, as an award- winning author. However, it was refreshing to hear how he transitioned from lawyer to writer. His hopes, childhood dreams, aspirations, and determination, despite his rejections. His writing passion and inspiration behind his first novel, ABSOLUTE POWER. Very moving and inspirational.

He has a truly remarkable gift, a talent. On behalf of all the Baldacci fans, bloggers, reviewers, and readers-- A special, thank you for your dedication and tenacity. Providing readers hours of reading, listening, and viewing entertainment. If you have missed his first novel, highly recommend the audio, narrated byScott Brick. The book is even better than the movie. Check out the list.


H A P P Y   3 0 T H   A N N I V E R S A R Y !




Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1461159714
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