A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

A Man Called Ove

What I thought about The Man called Ove

‘Men are what they are because of what they do. Not what they say,’ said Ove.

Set in Sweden, this story of your everyday person and the things they face in life is both heart warming and heart breaking at the same time. The author takes us on a journey through Ove’s life, a short duration after his wife dies and while he is contemplating committing suicide to join her. Ove is a grumpy old man, who seems to put people off with his attitude. Little does anyone know that underneath that hard exterior, there is a wonderful man inside!

A perfectionist, Ove expects things to be a certain way, to happen in a certain way. He has a routine and he expects to keep it. When he is suddenly out of a job, he is thrown off center for a while. Add to this the death of the one person who truly understood him and accepted him for who he is and I am sure that you can understand Ove’s state of mind. If not, read on! This book is truly worth it.

We are introduced to an intriguing set of characters who make this story more colorful. Parvaneh, a pregnant lady with two children and a weird husband, seems to take it upon herself to bring Ove out of his shell. As Ove sets out everyday with the idea of killing himself, something happens to prevent it and make him postpone by a day, each day. A stubborn man, Ove has a set way of doing things and he follows the rules. He has come up through sheer hard-work and determination and all theses experiences seem to have shaped him. The entry of his wife into his life proves to add some color into it, but just enough for her to bring out the best in him.

This story shows us all sides of life and how it shapes a person and their attitude. We are shown how Ove has grown and how the people in his life have affected him. The story goes back and forth, thus ensuring that we get all parts of the story. The man called Ove, has a lot to say and a lot to teach us. It’s up to us to understand this and learn. We are also shown a side of him where he has made friends and lost them over something that ideally wouldn’t matter much to us. With a set mind and ideals, Ove is as stubborn as one can be. This story is about how to break out of this and adapt to the changes in the world around you.

The supporting characters in this story are well crafted and seek to bring out different shades of life. They are from different backgrounds, and show us various kinds of lifestyles and thought processes. The children are delightful and it is partially their innocence, coupled with Parvaneh’s bossy nature that seeks to bring Ove out of his shell. As he begins to help people again, frankly speaking, he is forced to, it changes him once more and gives him a new purpose in life.

A well-written novel, the author brings out the truth behind every person’s life, the hardships they face and the ease with which they can handle it when surrounded with people who love and support them. The simplicity of the plot and the depth of the characters make this a brilliant read.

Book Review of The Universe Builders: Bernie and the Wizards by Steve LeBel

About the Book:

Gods vs. Wizards ~ an epic struggle for survival

Bernie fixes broken universes for a living. Unlike other gods, who tend to take a hell-fire-and-brimstone approach to problem-solving, Bernie prefers a more gentle approach.

Bernie’s job is to restore production on the planet Photox, but he soon discovers a world caught up in a civil war. With a hard-to-please boss breathing down his neck and a personal life in desperate need of relationship advice, Bernie’s chances of success are dwindling fast. The gods on Bernie’s world are no help. If he fails to restore production, they will destroy Photox’s entire population.

Bernie is desperate to keep this from happening, even if the murderous wizard causing all the problems is powerful enough to hurt a god…

My Thoughts:

 In this next book of ‘The Universe Builders’, Bernie now has a job and he is working on creating universes to please their customers. This book takes off from where the last left off, with the main characters now out of school and trying to find their footing in the commercial world. It is wonderful to see how the characters have grown and changed. If you have read the previous book(s), you’d understand this. If not, here is a brief idea of the basic plot.

Bernie and his friends are young gods. They have just completed God school where they learnt the art of creating universes, how to create life and how to find out what are the elements that when combined, would sustain life. In this book, Bernie has to restore the production of a particular plant on a planet. When Bernie arrives on the planet, he finds that there is a lot more going on. As he teams up with his friends to try to figure out a solution, he is faced with problems from the people of the planet. This story is also one of discovery and understanding, of strong bonds and friendship and trust. We watch them grow and mature a little, while Bernie’s cloud becomes naughtier by the minute!

A well-written novel, this book proves to be fun to read and is more mature in the nature of the plot as compared to the previous story. There the focus was on introducing the characters and making us familiar with them and the world. Now, it is more focused on the emotional depth of the characters and the plot. The story moves quickly and it is nice to read about a developing relationship between Bernie and Susie, which most of you would have seen coming. An entertaining concept, the author brings out a different perspective on life and creation.

Everyone who enjoys a good read in the fantasy genre would really enjoy this book and the others in the series!

Book Review: Say Goodbye for Now by Catherine Ryan Hyde

About the Book:

Say Goodbye for Now

On an isolated Texas ranch, Dr. Lucy cares for abandoned animals. The solitude allows her to avoid the people and places that remind her of the past. Not that any of the townsfolk care. In 1959, no one is interested in a woman doctor. Nor are they welcoming Calvin and Justin Bell, a newly arrived African American father and son.

When Pete Solomon, a neglected twelve-year-old boy, and Justin bring a wounded wolf-dog hybrid to Dr. Lucy, the outcasts soon find refuge in one another. Lucy never thought she’d make connections again, never mind fall in love. Pete never imagined he’d find friends as loyal as Justin and the dog. But these four people aren’t allowed to be friends, much less a family, when the whole town turns violently against them.

With heavy hearts, Dr. Lucy and Pete say goodbye to Calvin and Justin. But through the years they keep hope alive…waiting for the world to catch up with them.

My Thoughts:

The phrase, ‘Say goodbye for now’, also the title of the book, is a recurring point throughout the book. It is a wonderful thing that the title of a book has been incorporated throughout the plot and brings out the overall theme or point of the story.

I picked up this book after reading ‘Ask Him Why’. I really enjoyed the author’s style of writing and couldn’t wait to read more. I was most surprised when upon starting this story, I found that the style of writing, the tone and pace of the story were different! This made me enjoy the book all the more apart from the wonderful plot.

The story focuses on two young boys, in their early teens, who meet by chance and decide that due to their way of thinking, that they should be friends. It was rather unfortunate that the times they lived in frowned upon friendship between them. With a town set against the newly arrived African American father and son duo, a lady doctor who cares for abandoned and hurt animals, and a young American boy who seeks her out when he finds a hurt wolf-dog lying by the side of the highway, there is a lot that can happen when we bring these four people together.

The author takes her time to bring out the personalities of each of these principal characters, as well as their backgrounds. She helps us understand what makes them tick and how they became the way they are in the present time. The author elaborates a little on the town and it’s mindset and perception of these main characters. Nothing is simple in the lives of these four people and the author takes her time in making things right. The story is told alternatively from the points of view of Pete and Dr. Lucy. The reader will get to know them very well and will feel as though even they are friends with them. As pleasing and simple as they are, they are not perfect and have their dark moments.

Pete is thoughtful and advanced in the way his mind thinks and instead of being shushed by the adults he comes to know, they encourage and nurture his inquisitive mind. His relationship with all the characters and his thoughts and feelings help to shape the direction the story moves in. Justin though different, understand Pete and plays his part in this story to perfection. The simple chemistry between Dr. Lucy and Calvin is shown with understated simplicity. It just happens, and there is no confusion or apology. The characters take all situations in their stride, including the fact that a time will come when they can be together and until then, they just have to keep living on.

The simple tones and calm manner in which things are dealt with make this story all that more pleasing. This was a wonderful read and I fell in love with every aspect of this story. The title, used extensively as demanded by the plot, will help the reader see that there is no need to end a relationship of any kind, there are times when it can just be postponed, with some understanding, care and love.

Just say Goodbye for Now!

Book Review: Sky Riders: Bright Star by Erin Swan

I found this book on Inkitt and got around to reading it. I was hooked immediately from the first chapter and didn’t stop until the end! Read on to know my thoughts.

Find the book on Inkitt here.

About the Book:

The Golden Era of the Guardians has passed, and the land of Paerolia has begun to slip into darkness once again. A slave in the judges’ palace, Andra has known only torment and terror her entire life. But when Kael, the leader of the rebel Freemen, breaks into the palace, Andra finds herself thrown headlong into a life she never imagined, into the midst of a rebellion that could change her future and the future of Paerolia. But the past is hard to escape, and Fate can be unkind. Alongside Kael, Andra must discover the strength that has always been within her and fight to win back what Fate kept beyond her reach—a dragon that should have been her own, and a man whose heart she can never hope to win.

My Thoughts:

It’s been a while after reading the Inheritance cycle (Eragon and other books in the series) that a book in the same fantasy fiction genre has captivated me so much. At first I was skeptical of the plot and was unsure whether this story would be any different, but I am happy to be proved wrong.

The story is wonderful, well thought out and crisp. The plot flows easily from one scene to the next and the characters are well developed and highly complex. Andra, a slave in the Judges’ household, when brought away from there, struggles to understand the life of freedom. The author as described this and captured the feelings and mental torture the girl went through. We are shown how Andra deals with the trauma and abuse she has endured and how this shapes her into a strong individual. Kael, with his charming personality, also has secrets which come out as the story unfolds.

It is difficult not to fall in love with Eithne and Tiri, the dragons who are a constant presence. Though some parts of the plot may seem familiar, it is far from predictable. The way the Freemen bring out a change and the pivotal role the protagonists play, along with their friends is what sets this story apart. Moreover, the author’s writing is clear and easy to understand. The conversations and internal discussions that the characters have, are highlighted for easy differentiation. Also, bring in some well placed romance and the plot is complete.

An overall gripping read, this book will ensure that the reader will not stop until the very end. The overall plot is rounded up beautifully leaving no room for questions.

Book Review: A Kind of Woman by Helen Burko

About the Book:

A Kind of Woman

He is married to the Devil, but can he be her advocate?

Jacob Barder, a successful New York attorney, returns home to New York after being trapped in Europe during the Second World War and miraculously surviving the Holocaust. Barder does not return alone: with him is his new wife, Rachel, a beautiful blonde woman whom he met in Warsaw shortly after the war – a Jewish survivor who lost her entire family and remained alone in the world. Jacob fell in love with her and brought her to the states. Now he will defend her in the biggest battle of her life.

A Jewish lawyer’s wife is accused of committing Nazi war crimes

One evening, in a Broadway theater, Rachel is attacked by a woman who accuses her of being Matilda Krause – a German SS officer who served at the Nazi concentration camps. Rachel’s arrest and police investigation open the way to a sensational trial that will be written in the pages of history. With no one willing to protect a Nazi officer, Barder decides to defend his wife himself. Why would a Jewish survivor speak for a Nazi in the court of law? Barder is called to make an impossible case in the name of his beloved wife, and that of humanity altogether. The jury, the judge, and the readers will be astounded by what he has to say.

My Thoughts:

 A Kind of Woman is set in post WWII Europe, following the aftermath of the Holocaust. An American lawyer, Jacob, having traveled to Europe with his wife and child for a vacation, ends up a prisoner in one of the camps and manages to emerge alive. He however loses his family to the war and while trying to find his way back to America, he encounters Rachel, a beautiful woman with an intriguing mind. They are drawn to each other and become inseparable. As the story unfolds, the author holds off on sharing too much with the reader about Rachel, who ends up being an enigma until the last few chapters when all is revealed.

The author brings out the devastation the war caused, the effect it had on the lives of people and the world. The reader is drawn into a world that is mistrusting, skeptical and where emotions rule the mind instead of intellect. The description of the post war scenario is detailed and ensures that the reader will be affected just as much the people were.

I was not very taken by Rachel character. She seemed too flighty and like a spoilt child who cannot make up her mind. Her way of talking and antics were in no way endearing. Jacob on the other hand was interesting with a strong and pleasing personality. Also, the author uses a lot of repetition throughout numerous paragraphs to emphasize the same point over and over which made me want to stop reading.

Moreover, the first half of the story did not hold my attention much and made me question the point of the story. The second half of the story, after the couple reaches America takes a turn for the better. The plot starts moving at a fast pace, and though there is a lot of repetition and some unnecessary things, the court case is rather well explained. It forms the crux of the story and the author has highlighted some points that I believe should be noted by all and thought about.

Jacob’s ideas and beliefs and in the end, his decision to defend his wife, who was a German SS officer is questioned by the world. However, his defense and the way he handles it make this story worth the read. He raises many relevant questions and puts forth intellectual ideas rather appealing to the emotions of the people as the prosecution does. In the end, the story is not about whether the two characters end up together, it is more about how the war affected the lives of people and their ideas.

Overall, this is a decent read and may appeal to History buffs and those who are fans of the genre.

Book Review: Fraternity of Fractures by Mark Pannebecker

About the Book:

Fraternity of Fractures

Justin Sunder and Phoenix are master cat burglars and best friends until Dylan Panicosky enters their circle of hedonism and crime. Set in the blighted city of St. Louis in the ‘80s, Fraternity of Fractures is a love triangle played out in an urban setting full of nocturnal adventures, drugs, sex, and danger, with all the players fractured in their own way.

My Thoughts:

This is a rather dark story that delves into the minds of people and shows us the ways of criminals. The author portrays crime as an art, describing it with great care and attention to detail.

Initially, it took me a while to get into the story as it was a little confusing. The style of writing is very different and the characters themselves, though clear about their lives are confusing. After a while, it became easier to settle into the story and follow the lives of the characters. There are a variety of character types in this story adding more color to the general mix and helping to setup the scenes.

One thing that stuck with me was the way the author played out the love triangle. It was masterfully crafted with a clear direction. The author does not beat around the bush and make it a messy affair. The focus on crime is the basis on which the rest of the plot is built and the turn of events eventually will give the reader the kind of closure that one can come to expect from this author’s style of writing.

An overall interesting experience, this story delivers what it set out to, with a mix of crime, romance and some dark humour thrown into the mix. It is from a rather different perspective having characters who are flawed just like we are, making it easy to relate to them and understand what makes them tick. Once you get used to the writing, and look past all the heavy description, the story is worth the read!

Book Review: Everyone Has A Story by Savi Sharma

About the Book:

Everyone Has A Story

Everyone has a story.
Meera, a fledgling writer who is in search of a story that can touch millions of lives.
Vivaan, assistant branch manager at Citibank, who dreams of travelling the world.
Kabir, a café manager who desires something of his own. Nisha, the despondent café customer who keeps secrets of her own.
Everyone has their own story, but what happens when these four lives are woven together?
Pull up a chair in Kafe Kabir and watch them explore friendship and love, writing their own pages of life from the cosy café to the ends of the world.

My Thoughts:

I had picked up this book because it seems to have garnered a good amount of popularity. The title of the story is interesting and based on that, I unfortunately jumped into the book with healthy amounts of expectation, just like I would any other book.

The story starts at a cafe, with Meera, the protagonist, sitting there, pondering, trying to find a story to write. In a slightly cliched addition to the story is Kabir, the manager of the cafe who eventually becomes Meera’s friend. As Meera seeks to find a reason to write, she meets Vivaan. Captivated by his desire to travel, and seeking out a story, Meera approaches him and they become friends. All this forms the basis and premise of the story. It seemed to me to be cliched and something out of a Bollywood film.

The author’s style of writing also confused me. The chapters were divided up into points of view, covering Meera’s and Vivaan’s. This was good to some extent as the author tried to give us some insight into the minds and thoughts of the main characters. This worked to some extent, but this being a very short book, there did not seem to be focus on developing the characters. Also, after spending only a little time, Meera falls in love and Vivaan later comes and shares his heart breaking love story.

Apart from a vague introduction to their pasts, there was not much about their current situation, living conditions, family. These are things that tend to add more perspective and dimensions to characters. Also, in our country, the parents do play some role and in the story, when Meera is in the hospital, in critical condition we still don’t see any family coming to be with her. Moreover, Vivaan just runs away, with the need to pursue his dream of traveling the world leaving his friends behind and ends up on a journey of self-realization.

There is quite a bit of philosophy thrown into the mix along with the constant repetition of the phrase – “follow your dreams”. Sometimes, in the practical world that today is, such things are not possible. One thing that stood out was the ending. Though the plot is simple, the author stuck to her point and brought Meera to a certain place in life, having accomplished something that she had set out to do. Reading this part made up for the lack of detail in the rest of the story.

Overall, it’s not a bad story, but it’s way too cliched and a bit difficult to digest. Everything seems to happen too soon and too easily with characters who are nice but not very developed. However, you can give the book a read. It is decent for a first book and I am sure that the author’s stories will get better and better as she writes more! 🙂