Britt-Marie Was Here | Book Review + Recommendations

On Friday I mentioned that one of my Weekend Reads was Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman. I finished reading it last night and was tempted to go ahead and record my reaction then, but it’s a good thing I didn’t because I was half-asleep and it probably wouldn’t have made much sense.

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I’m still much more comfortable writing reviews rather than speaking them, but I’d really like to get used to speaking on the fly more so I’m using Youtube to become more acquainted with just throwing the words out and attempting to get them to line up in the right order. Preferably the first time rather than the twentieth.

I really loved Britt-Marie Was Here and my review thoughts are now available now on Youtube, as well as some book recommendations! Click Here to see what I’ve got to say.

Why I Hated Good as Gone by Amy Gentry

Well, this is a first for me.

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I know that Good as Gone by Amy Gentry has some really glowing reviews, so my opinion isn’t the majority. But, it would feel really odd to simply ignore this one on my Goodreads account so along with the 1-star review there, I wanted to talk about WHY I hated this book so much.

If you watch my video and have read the book, I’d love to know what YOU think about the book!

Colors! My First Brandon Sanderson Book…

Warbreaker For years my husband has told me how amazing Brandon Sanderson is, but I hadn’t read any of his books until recently. We selected his book Warbreaker, as a book to read together – even though it was Dave’s second read-through. The story definitely lends itself to be read multiple times, so I can see why he chose it – aside from FINALLY introducing me to his favorite author!

So finally, I get it! And yes, I agree, Brandon Sanderson is extremely creative.

What makes Warbreaker so amazing, is the unique world-building and entirely original magic system Sanderson creates. The story itself is great… two sisters, one marries the God King they fear (who has never taken a living breath, so the fear is justified), and the other who… well, I don’t want to spoil anything. Let’s just say, the story is interesting and an enjoyable adventure.

But the world? It’s captivating! Who would have thought of having a way to bring objects to life by way of using color, have a city and its inhabitants who views this as normal – and a warring city who views this as blasphemous, ostentatious, and vain.

And, all the intricacies that go along with such a system… I’m not sure which I enjoyed more, the story, or the magic system upon which it was built. All in all, it may have been my first Brandon Sanderson book – but it won’t be my last!

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler and the Ex-Amish

Growing Up AmishIf you’re looking for insight into why Amish become ex-Amish, you won’t find it in this book, Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler.

There is an excellent documentary (on Netflix) called “Amish: Out of Order” that has 10 episodes which highlight the challenges people face when raised Amish, and, the difficulties they encounter if they choose to leave. But back to the book at hand…

Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler is tedious to read. His memoir doesn’t shed any light on why he decided to become ex-Amish. Instead, you are carried through each exodus as though it’s a massive change in his life, and it would be, except that it’s temporary, and repetitive. He leaves – and returns – to the Amish four or five times. He finally decides to join the church, asks a young woman to marry him, courts her, and as the wedding time nears, breaks things off with her and leaves – AGAIN. Not long after he is out, he decides he doesn’t want to be excommunicated after all, and requests forgiveness and is accepted back into the Amish church – only to leave AGAIN.

Once through about 75% of the book I couldn’t wait to finally be done with it. I hoped to have some answers about how or why he chose to leave the Amish once and for all, especially after the clear turmoil he went through with each decision-reversal, but that is not provided to the readers of his memoir. No, he simply leaves yet again, and the book ends with him back in the world.

I’m slightly curious what made his final exodus “final” but I doubt he knows. He didn’t seem to know why he was so indecisive.

If you’re interested in the ex-Amish, definitely check out the documentary “Amish: Out of Order” and skip this memoir.

How to Ruin a Book Series and Anger Your Fans

Burned by Karen Marie MoningAfter 8 years of reading books on Kindle, I finally understand what makes someone want to throw their Kindle against the wall – or use it to slap the face of the author who destroyed a world they so carefully built.

Burned by Karen Marie Moning, is the 7th book in the Fever series, and the last book by KMM I will read.

This is how you destroy a book series:

Kick off the 7th book with a scene that occurred in Book 1, from the other character’s point of view. Then, throw in some added content that concludes with a memory-erasing spell – of just the new content. Be sure to include something that fully changes your perspective of BOTH characters since the event that occurs never would have happened with the characters as they have been written, yet make sure it serves no purpose and does nothing to move the plot forward. It’s just there for decoration.

Have a strong-willed character who has lived for centuries, and needs nothing, run to the main character, a young 23 year old valley girl – for HELP. Because he needs a lot of help, and she can give it, right?

Give a split personality to another character, that again, was invented in Book 7, and simply make the character the exact opposite of who they were before. Make sure to make her extremely annoying. Nails-on-the-chalkboard annoying.

Shift point of view from one character to another for the entire book. Make sure this doesn’t actually serve any purpose. Just use it because other authors do it. Why not, right? In fact, be sure to give a few chapters to some minor characters who are not relevant to the story. Plot? Who cares about plot?

Don’t worry about details being congruent. For instance, when a character is invisible (again, it doesn’t matter that this type of magic has never happened in the previous books, just go with it), and the character makes a point to tell you that anything she touches or holds is invisible, you don’t need to keep this line of fantasy going. No one is paying attention anymore. So it’s totally okay to have her stand on a scale, and have the scale disappear, yet in the next sentence, read a book. The book doesn’t become invisible because details do not matter, right? Right.

Oh, and be sure to end on your classic cliffhanger, but, to fully make sure your fans never read the next book – use a minor character for nail-bitting-thrilling ending – one we care absolutely nothing about.

Karen Marie Moning, you should be ashamed of yourself.

The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin

The Stepford WivesWhat is it about Ira Levin? How did he write things that seem so normal on the surface only to be downright chilling and horrific underneath?

Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the story behind The Stepford Wives, either from seeing a TV show, or a movie, but I couldn’t remember the specifics. The story is short at only 150 pages so I read it in entirety last night and it’s been on my mind since.

Not only is the main theme scary (what is happening to women to make them such perfect housewives?), but the nuances to story hit the mark as well. As Joanna sees others in the supermarket with their groceries perfectly aligned as they shop, she too feels the desire to match what they are doing, and be like them. She is disgusted at their tendency to disparage all interests outside the home in exchange for having the perfect, clean, house… yet she feels inadequate when compared to them. If given enough time, Joanna would probably have become a perfect Stepford Wife all on her own, even without the antics of the men in the town – and that – is quite scary indeed.

I like that the details are not completely spelled out, but instead you are left to your imagination to figure out… just what happened to Joanna.

All in all, it’s a good quick read that is still relevant – and will be as long as the concept of a Stepford Wife is in use in our vocabulary!

The Stepford Wives is available on Kindle for a whopping $7.99 (at only 150 pages), or you can read it on Scribd. You can use this link to get a free two-month free trial to Scribd – and I highly recommend it!

Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm HomeI’m speechless. When a book is THIS good, I usually skip writing a review. For one thing, the reviews are already glowing off the charts, and the description on Amazon boasts a variety of awards and recommendations. What can I possibly add? But, I decided to share my thoughts anyway, just in case you’re in need of a good book to read today.

I went into this book blind, no knowledge of what it was about, or the reviews. I just started reading, and then, I couldn’t stop. I read Tell the Wolves I’m Home on my Kindle, but I’m eager to own it on paper, and read it again… and again… and again.

The main character is a young teen in the mid-80s and there are so many images this story brought back to mind. Some fun nostalgia, some painful memories. And the fear. I remember exactly where I was the day I first heard the word AIDS, and how I learned about it, and how it was presented in the news. I remember Ryan White.

Though I think this book may be enjoyed by anyone above the age of 13, I think there are some parts that will just wring your heart into a million pieces if you’re closer to my age or just a little older.

I don’t want to say much more than that so you can experience the story as the author intended. And even if you are younger, the story is a must-read, as it’s simply great on it’s own even if you didn’t live through that time.

Would you like this book? I’d recommended Tell the Wolves I’m Home for fans of Markus Zusak, Catherine Ryan Hyde, and those of us who came of age in the 80s.

There is no I in TEAM – Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem by Ayn RandPublished in 1938, Anthem by Ayn Rand was way ahead of it’s time. Of course, that’s likely the goal with a Dystopian novel, but apparently it wasn’t taken as a warning.

In a society where children are growing up without knowing what it means to lose (everyone wins!), books like this should still be read today. It is a bit odd to read a book where there is no “I” – even though it’s written from the first person point of view, as people are not individuals and being alone is against the law. Since there is no alone, there is no “I” only “we” and it’s a little too easy to read this as though Gollum from The Lord of the Rings wrote it. Yes… yes, we read it we did!

I still shudder at the workplace environments where open collaborative spaces are the norm and quiet places to do actual work are few and far between. Most Fortune 500 companies are inspired to: foster a creative work environment where the team can cohesively work together and drive innovation that will bring sustainable improvement to key-emerging technologies destined to be a game-changer.

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Yeah. Read this book. It’s a quick short story that gives new meaning to justice and liberty for all.