4 star reviews, 5 star reviews, activism, Book reviews, contemporary fiction, End of Month Wrap Up, thriller, Women's Fiction, YA

June Wrap Up

June Books

I never realize how many books I read until I do the wrap up!

This was a great month for reading for me!  I read 4 thrillers, 3 books that I guess would be considered women’s fiction, 2 contemporary fiction, 1 YA book and 1 children’s book.


I read Sewing the Rainbow by Gayle E. Pitman.  This is a picture book, for young children about Gilbert Baker, who was a sparkly boy and was told not to be a sparkly boy, but as he grew up he found a community where he was accepted for being sparkly and he came up with the idea to create The Rainbow Flag as a happy, positive sign of being homosexual.  I love that there are book for kids about homosexuality because it means more people are comfortable with talking to kids about sexual orientation.  When I was a kid, I had no idea what being gay meant and it was a big, awkward conversation with my parents around the dinner table and we were all uncomfortable.  My own girls were raised that their two uncles love each other just like their mom and dad do.  That was it, end of story, nothing awkward or uncomfortable about it.  My girls have been raised that LOVE IS NEVER WRONG.

How I Resist

I saw this book advertised and decided we needed a copy for the library where I work.  I reviewed it when we got it in.  It’s a compilation of essays, lists, interviews by celebrities that encourage youth to stay informed and get involved.  This book details different ways of getting involved, from social media to writing letters to marches to calling your representatives.  I loved the message that even though kids are not old enough to vote YET, they will be one day and their representatives should take them seriously.


I LOVED both What Happened That Night by Sandra Block and Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia.  What Happened That Night is about a college student is brutally gang raped at a fraternity party, the authorities don’t take her seriously and she takes matters into her own hands.  Leave No Trace is about a boy and his dad go missing in the Boundary Waters in Northern Minnesota.  Years later the boy comes back and is institutionalized because they think he is violent when really he just wants to save his father who is very ill in a remote rural part of the boundary waters.  It’s hard to pick which one I liked better–they were both SO GOOD!

I enjoyed Broken Girls by Simone St. James, too.  It was a stretch for me and a little out of my comfort zone as there was a ghost in the book and that is something I typically stay away from, but I thought the story was good and that the ghost had an interesting and important role that could not have been accomplished any other way.

Something in the Water did not live up to the hype for me.  It started strong, then spent another third or so of the book getting mired down in day to day trivialities.  The characters made stupid choices and it got a little confusing.  It ended well.

Women’s Fiction

I really enjoyed Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin and felt it spoke volumes about friendship and love.

The Ever After by Sarah Pekkanean was a wonderful look at a marriage and what is really important in life and in marriage and family.

Contemporary Fiction

Although I adored A Man Called Ove (who read it that didn’t?), I never read Beartown by Fredrick Backman.  When Us Against You came out and I started seeing all the wonderful reviews, I decided to listen to Beartown on audiobook with my daughter, who was sick at the time.  We both loved it!!  I was happy to visit Beartown again when reading Us Against You, which I also loved.

I have seen some people say they could not get into Beartown.  I can understand that.  There are A LOT of characters and at first it seemed very overwhelming and like how would I keep them straight–my daughter started a chart for them!  lol.  But as the story went on, we found it easy to keep them straight and their story captured so much about the human spirit and the human experience.



4 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman



I adored A Man Called Ove.  I had wanted to read another book by Backman, but there are really just so many books and so little time.  I kept hearing great things about Beartown and so when I saw this on Netgalley, I put a request in for it and then decided I really needed to know more about Beartown first.  I decided to listen to the audiobook of Beartown and I was so glad I did.

My Review:

Fredrick Backman in addition to being an amazing writer, is someone who has a gift for observing people and creating characters that readers see themselves in.  I can relate to every single one of his characters–whether it’s that they remind me of what it was like to be young or parents in whom I see myself now.  There is such hope, such resilience, such faith in these characters.  Backman has a way of showing us ourselves and reminding us that we share this experience and as bruised and raw and emotional and upset we are, it’s ok, because we are ultimately all in this thing called life together.

Us Against You  is a continuation of Beartown.  We get to catch up with Bobo, Kevin, Amat, Ana, Benji, Maya and Ana after Beartown.  This working class town is still in trouble, but they have a new coach, many of their best hockey players have transferred to Hed and there is a new politician in town who has an agenda that is not necessarily in Beartown’s best interest.

I kept thinking something bad was going to happen and that was what kept me reading, I wanted to find out what it was.  Although I really liked this book, I didn’t love it as much as I loved Beartown, I felt like some of the new characters were not as well developed and I found the whole politics and sports thing to not be an escape from life, but a reminder of some of the more annoying aspects of reality.

I would like to thank Netgalley and Atria books for my advance copy.

From Publisher:


5 star reviews, Book reviews, contemporary fiction

Beartown by Fredrick Backman

5/5 stars

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I read and LOVED A Man Called Ove, but somehow, I never read this one, however, once I started book blogging and bookstagramming, I saw so many excellent reviews of this book, that I was intrigued.  And, maybe it wasn’t the best decision, but in a moment of pure haste, I put a Netgalley request in for Us Against You and then decided I really should read Beartown first.  I actually had quite a few other books to read and this is a pretty big book, so I decided to get the audiobook from the library, figuring I could listen on my nightly walks or when weeding around my tomato plants.

I was super excited to get started and when my daughter was not feeling well, we decided to sit in my office in the dark and start listening.  We were both HOOKED!  We loved the background on all of the characters, although we had a hard time keeping them straight at first, but as the story progressed we were more and more able to remember who was who.  We found ourselves transported to a different place and we felt like we were part of what was going on…the factory hemorrhaging jobs, the hockey rivalry, the family life.

My daughter found herself relating to Ana and Maya, Amat, Kevin, Benji and Robby.  While I found myself identifying with Keira and Ramona.  David and Kira reminded me a lot of Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor.  Actually I was reminded of Friday Night Lights (one of my favorite shows EVER) a lot while we listened to this audiobook.

I appreciate how so many authors are using their medium to bring about awareness of social issues.  In Beartown, a character is raped.  “he touched her as if her body didn’t belong to her, but was something he had earned.  No one would ask about this, they would ask how much resistance she put up, if she was clear about saying no”.  She would be asked about the alcohol and the marijuana, she would never forget the terror that she felt.  Backman makes a statement about boys who are privileged, who have gotten a lot of what they want and believe they can have anything they want and girls who are made to feel that they are at fault for being violated even when the rapist’s finger prints are visible on their neck and wrists in a sign of force.  I hope everyone reading this book is more aware of rape, aware of how our society views rape and blames the victim and I hope the readers become passionate about changing this, about believing and victim and supporting them and not supporting this system.

I love Backman’s insightful way of writing about life.  Although this is a story about the trials of a small, working class rural town, it is also an observation of life…of families, of marriages, of teenagers, of love, of life, of what it really means to be on a team, of protecting those we love, of unrealized hopes and dreams.  This book dealt with teenage drug use, homosexuality, suicide, marriage issues, and aging wise role models.  I could find something of myself in every single character and it made me think about the shared human experience and how important books and art are so that we can see ourselves and know that we are not alone.