Book Review A Man Called Ove

Summary

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

Comments

Absolutely adored this book! A Man Called Ove is the story of Ove, a man in his late-50s recently widowed, and made redundant at work. Struggling to cope with life after losing his beautiful wife. His neighbours think he’s a little cantankerous, but his life is about to be changed by the family moving in next door after they quite comically, take out Ove’s letterbox. 

A beautifully written story with wonderful characters we could all relate to.. From Ove to Parineh, the pregnant Iranian neighbour to Adrian, the young man who needs help mending his bicycle to the cat, that keeps coming back.  An array of colourful characters that help bring this story to life.  It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. The language flowed as much as our emotions did. Definitely recommend this book!

8.5/10 Read by Cultcha Club

Book Club Book Reviews April 2022

Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Summary

From the outside, the Delaneys appear to be an enviably contented family. Even after all these years, former tennis coaches Joy and Stan are still winning tournaments, and now that they’ve sold the family business they have all the time in the world to learn how to ‘relax’. Their four adult children are busy living their own lives, and while it could be argued they never quite achieved their destinies, no-one ever says that out loud.

But now Joy Delaney has disappeared and her children are re-examining their parents’ marriage and their family history with fresh, frightened eyes. Is her disappearance related to their mysterious house guest from last year? Or were things never as rosy as they seemed in the Delaney household?

Comments

We enjoyed reading Apples Never Fall and those members who have read other Liane Moriarty novels commented that it was a “more engaging read” than her last novel Nine Perfect Strangers.

The writer competently, and very often humorously, delved into the complexities of family dynamics between siblings, between children and parents and between couples.

The character development not only dealt with each sibling and adults interpersonal tensions but also their individual personal self doubts and life expectations.

The storyline is typical of this author’s storytelling ability to move easily between “past event” lead ups and the “now” to develop a very suspenseful novel. Some members found the plot “captivating” and did not expect the ending. 

The Delaney family were found by the group to be an identifiable family group with their work and life histories engaging. 

The character of Savannah was a slowly developing menacing presence throughout the story. She was the catalyst for much arguing and self reflection in the Delany family unit but her presence, actions and comments was also the cause of the family reuniting with more caring and understanding toward each other. 

Savannah’s family life and her upbringing, as we slowly and deftly learn, was a sad and damaging contrast to that of the Delaneys. 

There was much intrigue among readers with the ending of the book about the next chapter in Savannah’s life.

The writing was annoying to some readers in places with descriptions like “ancient old lady” but overall was a well written enjoyable story.

Read by MJ Readers

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Summary

1944: After a high-society New Year’s Eve party, at which Madeline Hyde and her husband, Ellis, disgrace themselves, they are cut off financially by his father who already is ashamed of a son not in uniform. In a misguided effort to regain the Colonel’s favour, Ellis and his best friend, Hank, convince Maddie to follow them across the Atlantic on a wild scheme, with little thought of the devastation of World War II raging in Europe.

The trio arrive amid tragedy and privation in a remote village in the Scottish Highlands, where the locals have nothing but contempt for the privileged interlopers. Maddie, left on her own for much of the time, gradually builds friendships with the villagers who show her a larger world than she knew existed. As she embraces a fuller sense of who she might be, Maddie becomes aware not only of the dark forces around her, but of the beauty and surprising possibilities of life.

Comments

Three obnoxious, rich Americans cross the Atlantic by ship, despite the second World War raging around them, to search for evidence of the Loch Ness monster. On their arrival in inverness the only accommodation is a small Inn. The two male friends, Henk and Ellis, set out most days on their quest leaving poor naive Maddie, Ellis’s wife, at the Inn. Before too long she realises that her marriage is over. When one of the female staff has an altercation with her boyfriend in the bar of the Inn and he beats her almost to death, Maddie is drawn into the drama and rises to the occasion by taking up some of the caring role and other duties.

As all romantic novels end, the gruff Innkeeper, Angus, turns from frog into Prince when he announces that he is actually the Laird of the nearby Manor and in love with Maddie, the hard done by little rich girl. Rather conveniently, Ellis drowns on the shore of the lake leaving Maddie free to marry her prince.

There were differing opinions amongst our group about this novel, but we all agreed that it is a perfectly acceptable light read.

Read by Dundas Readers

Recently Read & Eagerly Anticipated

So many amazing books have been published in 2022, and we are only nearing the end of March.

Before my ‘to be read pile’ and ‘recently read’ lists become too large, I thought I would share with you some of my most recent reads, and the books I am eagerly awaiting.

I hope you enjoy browsing and find something new to attract your interest. All of the titles have been ordered for the library, so feel free to place a Hold; it’s free!

Happy reading,

Jody

Recently Read

Black cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Eleanor Bennett won’t let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children – Byron and Benny – reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance. First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that’s separated Byron and Benny. Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe with a long history that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past. Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother’s final request to ‘share the black cake when the time is right’? Will Eleanor’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

I know it seems a bit early in the year, but I can already tell ‘Black Cake’ will be in my ‘Top 5’ list for 2022. From the very first page, I was pulled into the story. The writing is beautiful and seamlessly flows along throughout the book to tell Eleanor Bennett’s story, bringing a real depth to the narrative. – Jody

Cooper is not out by Justine Smith

In the Australian summer of 1984, in the small country town of Penguin Hill, Sergeant Roy Cooper is making a name for himself. He’s been batting for his local cricket club for decades — and he’s a statistical miracle. He’s overweight, he makes very few runs, he’s not pretty to watch, but he’s never been dismissed. When local schoolgirl Cassie Midwinter discovers this feat, she decides to take the matter further. The remarkable story finds its way into the hands of Donna Garrett, a female sports columnist who’s forced to write under a male pseudonym to be taken seriously. That summer, the West Indies are thrashing Australia, and the Australian people’s love of cricket has never been lower. But Donna’s columns on Roy Cooper capture the imagination of a nation, and soon there’s pressure to select him for the national team. This would see him playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, carrying the spirit of every small country town in Australia along with him. Could such a miracle actually happen? This is sport, after all, and who doesn’t love a good story?

A five star, uniquely Australian read! I loved the distinctly Australian language and characters. For a person who isn’t a cricket fan I found it hugely enjoyable. Great feel-good read. – Jody

The trivia night by Ali Lowe

From the outside the parents of the kindergarten class at Darley Heights primary school seem to have it all. Living in the wealthy Sydney suburbs, it’s a community where everyone knows each other – and secrets don’t stay secret for long. The big date in the calendar is the school’s annual fundraising trivia night, but when the evening gets raucously out of hand, talk turns to partner-swapping. Initially scandalised, it’s not long before a group of parents make a reckless one-night-only pact. But in the harsh light of day, those involved must face the fallout of their behaviour. As they begin to navigate the shady aftermath of their wild night, the truth threatens to rip their perfect lives apart – and revenge turns fatal.

The Trivia Night’ by Ali Lowe proved to be a difficult book to review. While I liked the writing and some of the characters, the story was too similar to ‘Big Little Lies’ by Liane Moriarty for me to be completely invested in the book or the characters. I think people who haven’t read ‘Big Little Lies’ will find the book an enjoyable read. I will also look out for Ali Lowe’s next novel as I did like the writing. – Jody

Eagerly Anticipated

Author Spotlight, Sally Hepworth

The Christmas break proved to be the perfect opportunity to finally read some of Sally Hepworth’s books. Sally Hepworth is one author who I have been wanting to read for a while. It is fair to say I had fairly high expectations of this author as her books are always in demand by library members and book clubs and I wasn’t disappointed.

I started my reading off with Sally’s latest book, ‘The younger wife’; which had the perfect mix of family drama and dark long hidden secrets.

Tully and Rachel are murderous when they discover their father has a new girlfriend. The fact Heather is half his age isn’t even the most shocking part. Stephen is still married to their mother, who is stricken with Alzheimer’s Disease. Heather knows she has an uphill battle to win Tully and Rachel over – particularly while carrying the shameful secrets of her past. But, as it turns out, her soon-to-be stepdaughters have secrets of their own.

The story is told from the view of the three main characters, sisters Tully & Rachel, and Heather, their dad’s new younger wife. I enjoyed this aspect of the book very much as it gave me the opportunity to get to know each character and decide if I like them or not.  While it was clear each of the characters in the books were holding onto some distressing secrets from their past, this was only slightly expanded on. Though the story touches on some serious issues such as rape, eating disorders, kleptomania and both verbal and domestic abuse it never delves deeper into the details and didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. ‘The younger wife‘ left me eager to read more of Sally’s books. 

The next book I read was, ‘The family next door’. I was intrigued by the premise of the story.

The small suburb of Pleasant Court lives up to its name. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows their neighbours, and children play in the street. Isabelle Heatherington doesn’t fit into this picture of family paradise. Husbandless and childless, she soon catches the attention of three Pleasant Court mothers.

What better way to get a readers attention then to mention a close knit street and mothers!

I enjoyed this book from the start and found all of the women in the story likeable. I couldn’t wait to read on and find out what hidden secrets each of the women were holding onto. I finished this book in one sitting and enjoyed it from start to finish.

I am currently reading ‘The good sister’ and am loving it so far.

As you can probably tell by now, I consider myself a huge fan of Sally Hepworth’s books and will continue to read my way through all her books while I eagerly await the release of her next release which I hope will be in 2022.

Happy reading,

Jody

Should you wish to learn more about Sally Hepworth and her books take a look at her website. Sally is Dymocks ‘author of the month’ and there is a great Q&A interview to watch for those who are interested. 

What we’ve been reading September 2021

The inclusion of banned books in our reading themes for 2021 was certainly a good pick. It was the push I needed to finally read, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald. While I am yet to finish reading, I am finding it to be the perfect book to relax with just before bed; also totally love the language.

Some of the other great books I read included, ‘Apples Never Fall’ Liane Moriarty’s latest book; ‘We Were Never Here’ by Andrea Bartz and ‘The Bluffs’ by Kyle Perry.  

Apples Never Fall’ was released in September and I admit to being super excited to read this one, although I was worried I might be put off by the tennis theme, not being a fan myself. Luckily I found this made no difference what-so-ever and while it wasn’t a book that kept me glued to the pages, I did enjoy reading it. The way in which Liane Moriarty weaves the story and characters together is truly skilful and the family dynamics as always is believable.

We Were Never Here’ by Andrea Bartz, is a must for fans of psychological thrillers. While I didn’t particularly like either of the two main characters, Andrea Bartz skill at weaving the story together, kept me wanting to know how their story would conclude.

The Bluff’s’ by Kyle Perry was one of those books I have been wanting to read since its release in 2020. ‘The Bluff’s’ ended up being my favourite read for September. I sat down and didn’t move until I finished the whole book. Kyle Perry masterfully uses the landscape to create an atmosphere and anticipation that had me holding my breath. Needless to say I can’t wait to read Kyle Perry’s latest book, ‘The Deep’ and then watch his interview about it.

Books my colleagues read this month included….

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