A Man Called Ove – Review

a man called ove cover.jpgA Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman – 4 / 5 stars

I’ve struggled to figure out what to say about this book. I’m a bit late to reading it, so it feels as though there is not much I can contribute beyond what has already been said. This is an honest, raw, incredibly well-written book that will touch you deeply and sneak inside your heart. The description does not do it justice, but it’s nearly impossible to put into words what transpires throughout this book. I will do no better than the official description, but will try anyway.

In some ways, this is a story about a grumpy old man and why he is grumpy. But it is more than that. This book does not preach or harp about how we all have reasons for the way we are, though the human connection of sadness, loss, and challenges is part of what makes this book so amazing. But it would not be a great story if it was outspoken about it; its beauty comes in its subtlety, the way it slowly builds to this deep, rich, and full life picture of a grumpy old man. Yet, that is not the full picture of this story. It is also about how much impact we have on those around us without even knowing it. It is story on the powers of community contrasted with the desire for control. There are many layers here and it goes far beyond a grumpy old man having to deal with new neighbors. In the end, it teaches us all a little bit about accepting everyone around us and accepting all the beauties life has to offer.

This story is very touching, but also a little bit too perfect. The book is initially a bit challenging to get into because there is so much grumpiness and so little understanding of all the characters involved. The writing style is perfect, but there’s use of language that is a bit unsettling. This is a moving and touching story, but not one that changed my life or I will carry deep in me for eternity. For these reasons, it is not a 5 star, favorite book rating. But it is a book I highly recommend to everyone. I doubt there is any type of reader who will not like this book. So stop waiting to read it and pick it up today!

Add it on Goodreads! A Man Called Ove

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

The Hour of Daydreams – Reflection: Reality

2793296695_f70d459f60_zWhile most of us prefer to think that reality is fixed and we all see the same reality, numerous scholars have argued and demonstrated that in fact, reality is shifting. What is real for me may not be real for you. We have all experienced this when we share a story about something that happened in a group and someone else interjects, that’s not what happened! What did in fact happen? That question is harder to answer than we like to admit.

The Hour of Daydreams is a story of a reality that was mixed with cultural beliefs and norms, myth and fantasy, and a desire for reality to be better than the truth. It is a folktale origin story and retelling, but it is deeper than that. The Hour of Daydreams speaks to this deep need to shape reality to match it to a world we need to live in in order to cope with tragedy, trauma, and loss and to create meaning out of suffering. This routinely happens throughout the world, in varying degrees and success, depending on the individual and the culture in which they live. Through reading The Hour of Daydreams, we glimpse how this might have played out to form one Filipino folktale and gain a deeper understanding of Filipino culture.

Myths, folktales, fairytales, and origin stories have been created since the beginning of human history as a way to understand, make sense of, and find meaning in an often chaotic and cruel world. They provide a frame of reference for an entire culture on how to perceive the world. Thus understanding these stories helps us better understand and relate to another culture as it gives us a glimpse into that frame the way not much else can. Those frames of reference are deeply impactful and can greatly shape actions, thoughts, and beliefs making it vital to understand them if we want to understand a people better.

All of this academic discussion is to provide a frame around why I spent so many days after reading The Hour of Daydreams thinking about the concept of reality and how individuals can sometimes vary so incredibly in their understanding of an event, a concept, or even life. Particularly when one has to cope with trauma, especially complex trauma and horrific trauma, reality becomes a tricky thing, but not just for the victims of trauma, but also those around them. People generally want to have control over the circumstances of their lives and when confronted with the possibility that they may not have the level of control they convince themselves they do, they can create alternative realities and it can leave the people left to face the true reality of said trauma to feel very alone.

While reality gets shifty around trauma since trauma is such a significant and devastating event, reality does not only get shifty after trauma; alternate realities emerge around any situation in which people feel like they have less control than they want over life. This is poignant for me as my health has deteriorated over the last few years. One of the most striking examples centers around how this all started. I sustained a minor stress fracture to my foot while walking my dog and developed a severe pain condition from that one small injury. While I was on crutches non-weight bearing, I rode in a lot of cabs and Ubers and on those journeys, drivers would ask me about my obvious injury. As I explained how a very minor injury triggered one of the worst pain conditions rated on the McGill pain index, drivers would sometimes visibly shut down. They would then try to come up with explanations, justifications, or treatments to explain away my situation. It must be something else; if you just tried this treatment; or there must be something about you which makes your situation unique. These people were unable to tolerate a world in which they at any moment could sustain a minor injury and have their lives change so drastically. I have found over and over again throughout the last several years that it is incredibly hard for people to be vulnerable enough to sit with the discomfort of the knowledge that they have limited control over their lives. I am no stranger to the inability to sit with this discomfort. But when the people around me create an alternate reality in which such an event could only happen to me and not to them or is my fault, it feels isolating and shaming.

I wonder how Tala felt having those around her, but particularly her husband, create a fantastical story about her origins instead of sitting with the discomfort of her reality. It must have felt isolating and lonely. I understand why she spent so much time with her sisters as they were the only ones who believed her truth and lived in her reality. I understand why she left her family instead of staying with them to confront the difficulties which were about to befall her. Their inability to live in her reality meant that she did not feel supported enough to ask for their help. She felt she had to resolve it on her own. It is a tragedy all in and of itself.

This is why the story impacted me so deeply. I know that hurt and loss. I know what it is to have the truth denied by the ones we love and I know how suffocating that can be. I have lived Tala’s pain, even though she is of a different time and culture and my loved ones have not created a fantastical folktale to explain my circumstances. Those differences do not matter. We all have times when we speak the same language even though there are vast differences. While reading this story, I felt less alone. I did not want Tala’s story to end. I wanted as much time with her as possible. There is so much beauty in her story, it was hard to let it go. But alas, her reality was no more my reality than anyone’s reality is mine and it was time for her story to end, but I will carry her story in my heart for a long time to come.

The Hour of Daydreams – Review: ARC

the hour of daydreamsThe Hour of Daydreams by Renee Macalino Rutledge – 4/ 5 stars

I wouldn’t call magical realism my genre, but I also wouldn’t say I dislike it. I’ve read a few books with magical realism and some have been good and some have been terrible. When the phrase, magical realism comes up, I hesitate and think, oh I probably won’t like that. When I read the description for The Hour of Daydreams I was intrigued, but hesitated because of the magical aspect of the book. I am so glad I decided to read this book.

I would not characterize this book as magical realism. I would characterize it as lyrical and a story about people who believe in alternate realities. This story did not feel like the magical realism was forced upon it, but rather that these characters live with a beautiful way of understanding the world. I loved how The Hour of Daydreams transported me to this world and showed me how rich it is. I loved feeling the characters grapple with reality versus what they wanted to believe and I felt I understood why these stories arise. For me, this type of story is simply another way of storytelling and I love it.

This is a story of Tala, a woman who none of the characters fully know as she is an outsider to the community. Her husband sees her as a fallen angel while others envision other possibilities as to where she is now. Ultimately, as the story unfolds, we learn that Tala is a woman with a complicated and painful past and the people who love her cope with this knowledge through myths and half truths. These are beautiful myths and half truths, which no one fully believes, but yet they hold power.

The story is beautifully told and unfolds at a solid pace which kept me engaged throughout the book. The point of view changes, but in a seamless way. The ending provided enough resolution to leave me satisfied, but enough uncertainty to make this feel a bit like a fairy tale.

My biggest complaint is that I would have liked more. I wanted to know so much more about everyone, but especially Tala and Manolo. They were incredibly rich characters I wanted to know deep down to their souls. The amount I learned about the characters was satisfying, but I would have been even happier had this book been longer.

Even if you think you do not like magical realism, I recommend this book for you as it is not magical reality so much as the stories we tell ourselves to get through what can often be a cruel life. It is a beautiful book and one fans of literary fiction will enjoy. I encourage everyone to give it a try as it’s likely not like any other book you’ve read before. For me, that was a beautiful gift.

I received this ebook free from Netgalley and publisher Forest Avenue Press in exchange for an honest review.

Add to Goodreads! The Hour of Daydreams

Considering reading it? Check out a free Kindle preview! Ready to buy? Purchase on Amazon or Book Depository. Please note that Diversifying Perspective is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and Book Depository Affiliates Program, affiliate advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to free Kindle previews through Amazon.com and BookDepository.com. This does not impact the selection of books nor the content of reviews.

New Posting Schedule – Updates

update-1672349_640I have decided to move to two reviews and reflections a week starting this week, with reviews on Mondays and Wednesdays and their respective reflections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will stay bookish days. The reviews on Monday will be ARCs or eARCs, typically reviewed around their date of release. The reviews on Wednesdays will be of older books either from my personal collection of books or from the library. Of course, since I cannot control how often I am approved for ARCs or eARCs, reviews on Monday may sometimes not be ARCs or eARCs, but since I have ARC and eARC reviews planned through the end of October, I suspect this will not be an issue anytime soon.

This change will first run as a trial and if I find it possible to maintain this schedule, will become the norm. The trial will run for a month with final determination made in early September. Thank you to each and everyone of your for your support of this blog. It is because of your support I am making this change! As always, if you have any feedback, ideas, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to reach out!! ❤ ❤ ❤

July Reads and an Update – Bookish

Now that July has come to a close, I thought I would share with you what I read in July. Overall, I read 13 books, including 4 audiobooks, 3 children’s books, 3 young adult books, 3 eARCs, and 3 nonfiction books. Overall, I’m satisfied with this month of reading. (Be sure to scroll all the way to the end for an update!)

dreadnoughtThe first book I finished in July was Dreadnought, which I rated 4/ 5 stars. If you read my reflection, you’ll know that I requested the eARC of its sequel Sovereign before having read Dreadnought. It was a bit of a mad dash to read Dreadnought and Sovereign before Sovereign’s release date, but I’m so glad I took on the challenge!

 

tom sawyer coverI also finished The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in July and it was a 4/ 5 stars for me. It turns out that while I had read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn as a child, I had not read Tom Sawyer. Audible channels, which are free for Audible or Prime members, had an audiobook version of Tom Sawyer narrated by Nick Offerman and I knew I had to listen to it. Offerman’s performance was great and I’m so glad I let him read me this classic. The review will not be published on this blog, but you can find it on my other social media sites, namely Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter. If you want to see ALL of my reviews for all the books I read, I very much recommend you follow me on Facebook, Goodreads, or both!

year of yes coverNext I started and finished Year of Yes in July and it was a 5 star read and made my favorites list, a pretty exclusive list for me. It will be reviewed on this blog at some point in the near future (see below for information on that). I borrowed the audiobook version from the library and Shonda Rhimes narrates it. Her narration is incredible and really made the book stick with me. This is a book I plan to reread and when I do, I will do so through audio again. I think it’s the only way to read this book.

the hour of daydreamsI then finished the eARC The Hour of Daydreams, a 4 star read whose review will publish next Monday. I also hope to have an author interview with Renee Rutledge about her book to post on Friday. This book was a wonderful read and I’m so grateful I was given a review copy. I hope you will check out my posts around this book next week!

 

the gifts of imperfection coverIt was time to switch it up with a bit of nonfiction. I read I Thought it was Just Me and it was the first Brene Brown book I did not rate 5 stars. I eventually settled on 4 stars, though I initially gave it 3 stars. But after realizing I was partly downgrading the book because it forced me to look at myself in a way I was not thrilled about, I decided to not take it out on the book. It is a good book, but I did have real criticisms about it. It was essentially her first book and I’m glad to see that her follow-up books have been excellent reads. This book will not be reviewed on this site, but you can see my review for it on Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

echo coverI came across Echo in a sale Audible was having on its children’s books and saw that it had won an Audie. I very much wanted to read it, so I borrowed the audiobook from the library and was not disappointed with the quality of the audiobook. It was great how each story within the larger novel was narrated by a difference actor. In addition, the music the book referenced was played in the audiobook, which made it a much richer experience. I am glad I choose the audiobook over the print version. This was a 4 star read for me and its review will post on this blog soon (again, see below for more detail).

monkey mind coverThen came my first bad read, Monkey Mind. I had first rated it 2 stars, but upon further reflection, one particular scene greatly bothered me and I had to downgrade it to a 1 star rating. It’s not a book I recommend for anyone. If you want to see the review of it, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

 

sovereignThankfully, my next read, which was an eARC, was great! As you already know, Sovereign was a 4 star read for me. While it started out slow for me, by the end, I was just as hooked as I was with Dreadnought and was just as happy with the overall quality. This is a great series and I hope it continues to deliver.

 

 

the lord of the fliesEvery month, my library does a theme and displays books around that theme near the front of the library. For several months now, I have read a selection from each month. I’m not sure why I started doing this, but I really enjoy doing it. This month’s selection was The Lord of the Flies based on their lakeside theme. I think the connection to the theme was a bit of a stretch, but I knew I needed a short read and was happy to pick up this classic. Overall, I gave it a 3 star review, but I would like to read it again at some point. I was not in the headspace to read a book with such heavy symbolism and I would like to read it again when I can devote more energy to the symbolism and see if I gain anything from such a thorough reread. It may move up to a 4 star read if I do. If you are interested in the review, check out Facebook or Goodreads or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the other einstein coverThen I read a book I’m still on the fence about its rating. The Other Einstein was a book that drew me in because it was about Albert Einstein’s first wife, who was also a physicist. The book claims there is much controversy around whether or not Mrs. Einstein played a significant role in some of Einstein’s most famous early work. After reading the book, I did some research and there is greater consensus about the lack of her contributions than the book blurb implied. I still debate whether I should rate the book at 2 stars or 3 stars as I solidly rated it at 2.5 stars. Some days, I think the great liberties the book takes with a historical figure are serious enough to push the review to 2 stars and other days, I remember that I could not put the book down and read it in a day and end up keeping it at 3 stars. I suspect I will never feel completely comfortable with my rating on Goodreads, unless they decide to allow readers to give half stars. If you’d like to see the review, check out Facebook, Goodreads, or find the Goodreads link on Twitter.

the little queen coverI then read an eARC of an adorable children’s book entitled, The Little Queen. It was a fun, whimsical story that had sage advice for adults. The review will post on this blog in a few weeks and I hope you will check it out!

 

 

the underground railroad coverNext, I read The Underground Railroad which was a 4 star read for me as the detached narration pulled me a bit too much out of the story. But the writing was fantastic and hope to read more of Colson Whitehead in the future. This review will post on this blog in the near future (see below for further details).

 

the hate u give coverLastly, I read all but 15, maybe 20 pages of The Hate U Give in July. For a book which is almost 450 pages, I devoured it in record time. Whenever I put it down, my mind was constantly drawn back to the book and I found myself picking it up as soon as possible. This was a 5 star read for me and landed on my favorites list, which is a hard list to make. The review for this book will post on this blog in the near future (see below for more details).

Lastly, an update:

As you can see, I have been reading more books than I can review with only doing one review a week. Thus, I have decided to move to two reviews and reflections a week, with reviews on Mondays and Wednesdays and their respective reflections on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Fridays will stay bookish days. The reviews on Monday will be ARCs or eARCs, typically reviewed around their date of release. The reviews on Wednesdays will be of older books either from my personal collection of books or from the library. Of course, since I cannot control how often I am approved for ARCs or eARCs, reviews on Monday may sometimes not be ARCs or eARCs, but since I have ARC and eARC reviews planned through the end of October, I suspect this will not be an issue anytime soon. I hope to make the change next week, but currently, the biggest impediment is my health which has not be great lately. While I keep up with reviews for the most part, the reflections can be much for challenging and demanding and thus are not always something I can tackle in poor health. I will make an announcement this weekend if I feel sufficiently ahead of the game to start posting two reviews and reflections a week. Thank you all for your support! If there wasn’t so much interest in this blog, I wouldn’t be upping my reviews and reflections. I am grateful to each and everyone of my followers!

The Judgment of Richard Richter – Review: Kindle First

I am breaking my review schedule to post this review because it is the first Kindle First book I’ve greatly enjoyed and it is currently free to Prime members through the Kindle First program through the end of August (you do not need to own a Kindle reader, but do need the Kindle app). If you are not a Prime member, it is currently on sale for $1.99 through the end of August. I wanted to make sure you can snag it if you’re interested in reading it (I will NOT receive compensation if you decide to download it). I will not be reflecting on this book.

If you enjoy this review, can you please consider liking it on Goodreads and/ or marking it helpful on Amazon? It would help drive traffic to this blog. Thank you so much!

the judgment of richard richter coverThe Judgment of Richard Richter by Igo Štiks 4/ 5 stars

Trigger Warnings: Suicide (not graphically depicted); suicide ideation (discussed at length); wartime violence (not graphically depicted); incest (discussed at length; not graphically depicted)

While I enjoyed this book more than I expected, it is not a book for everyone. It is a work of true literary fiction, in the style of Dostoevsky and Joyce, with long descriptive sentences, which often contemplate on the ideas of fate, war, destiny, and identity. Long passages in the book debate and reflect on these ideas, without really moving the plot forward. This style of writing can be boring to some, laborious to others, and enjoyable to readers like me.

The Judgment of Richard Richter is written in the first person with Richard Richter narrating and writing a personal memoir, thus going back and forth between his writing of the memoir and the actual story he is writing the memoir about, sometimes without clear transitions signaling the change in timeline. Richter is a writer who upon separating from his wife, moves back in with the aunt who raised him. It is here where Richter finds the information that upends the truth of his life and sends him searching for answers. To say much more would give away large sections of the plot.

In Richter’s search, there are plot points which become obvious before they are related to the reader and then other plot points which come as a surprise. Much of what is obvious is meant to be so as Richter himself greatly alludes to how certain parts of his story play out. This is connected to the theme of fate, as though it was inevitable for certain things to happen, and in the present, he laments on the cruelty of fate. These lamentations are often melodramatic and highlight Richter’s cynical nature. This follows the writing style of Dostoevsky and Tolstoy, two of several authors whom Richter references in his writings and calls them friends.

The story unfolds slowly, spending time building up all the necessary pieces and giving enough depth to the main characters to make the reader more invested in their story. The tone throughout the book is foreboding and suggests there will not be a happy ending. Richter makes that clear as he sits in Vienna writing down the events which recently transpired. Yet, the story is not sad, it simply feels inevitable, and thus, one walks away with more satisfaction from having learned all the details than with sadness for all which has transpired.

This writing style is not for everyone as in addition to the long descriptive sentences and passages, Štiks makes uses of literary references and other languages. There are several specific references to several specific books and if one has not read those stories, it can be a bit challenging to understand the deeper symbolism, but one can still understand the plot. These references can at times be lengthy and used as explanation for what is happening in the scene. The story also makes use of many different languages including French, German, Bosnian, and Spanish and these phrases are only rarely translated. There are also times when one is not quite able to garner their meaning from the context. Richter argues that Simon’s use of all these languages mixed in with his English makes his speech richer. While for the most part, the use of untranslated language did add to the book, there were a few times it was frustrating and partly detracted from the book.

As one can garner from the trigger warnings, this subject matter is not for everyone. The theme of suicide and incest are throughout the book, making it advisable to pass on this book if discussions of such topics are triggering for you. The book is not graphic in its depictions of any potentially triggering scene, but the sheer length and depth of discussion around particularly incest could potentially be as triggering as graphic depiction. The theme of suicide is throughout the book, but it is not discussed to the same length or depth as incest is. In addition to the discussion of incest itself, there are several references to Oedipus Rex by Sophocles and Max Frish’s Homo Faber.

I found this to be a beautifully written book contemplating fate through a slowly developing story, but one of my favorite novels is Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky. I found the long contemplation on various concepts to be engaging, but I enjoy deep, intellectual conversations and reflections. I enjoyed the long sentences and long passages with descriptive, overly written language, though I appreciated that it was more accessible than Dostoevsky and Joyce. I did not mind that the book was long and that there was not much in the way of plot. This is the style of book I am looking for when it is labeled literary fiction and I am so glad this book satisfied. A decent number of books today do not live up to the literary fiction labels, but this one does.

I received this book free through the Kindle First program, though this did not affect the honesty of this review.

Sovereign (Nemesis #2) – Reflection: Anger

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Photo credit: 2 : 😡 | Amy McTigue | CC 2.0

In Dreadnought, Danny had a decent amount of anger and talked about how she enjoyed being a superhero, but it isn’t until Sovereign that we see how much she relishes beating people up. It also becomes clear she has serious anger issues, which are now amplified since she has substantial powers. We gain a lot of insight into Danny in Sovereign and I really struggled with these internal monologues about loving violence. They unsettled me. They still do. Of course I could talk about whether a person with superpowers is a superhero if they love the violence, but that’s not really what unsettled me. What unsettled me was questions about how accurate of a depiction this is of humanity, particularly for people with anger issues.

We all know that there is a certain kind of person that relishes violence; those people are sadists. But Danny is not a sadist or at least I do not get that impression. Instead, Danny is depicted as someone who has trouble reigning in her rage and anger once she unleashes it. She regularly taps into that rage in order to win in battle, but it comes at a cost. It costs Danny her compassion and empathy. She is unable to see situations from the other person’s side and thus misses opportunities to resolve issues without violence. Unfortunately, for most of the book, Danny is okay with this as she fails to see how her anger impacts those around her.

All this left me wondering how accurate a depiction this is. There was a time in my life when I struggled with anger issues. Would I have relished power if I had been given it? Would I have relished violence if I was strong enough to bring it? Was my anger blinding me to compassion and empathy for others? How much did I miss out on when I was a ball of anger?

I do not quite understand why Danny’s discussions of how she deals with her ball of rage bothered me so much. It has greatly delayed the writing of this reflection because I just do not understand why that thread impacted me so much. What is it about Danny’s honesty about her anger that troubles me so? I am pretty sure I am just not ready to explore that yet. If I would relish power, I do not want to know that. If I would enjoy the violence a bit too much, I don’t want to face what that means about who I am.

But I suspect my hesitation to explore what Sovereign raised in me has more to do with where that anger comes from than whether I would follow in Danny’s footsteps. Reading the scene where she uses less force against a villain so she can battle him longer really did not sit well with me and I am confident I would not engage in the same behavior. For me, it is simply unacceptable to beat up someone with less defenses for as long as possible. This is partly why I dislike the whole superhero genre because I abhor violence. I am turned off by it and for that reason, do not enjoy many sports. In the end, I feel comfortable saying that if I became a superhero, I would use violence sparingly. But still, tapping into that rage is dangerous. It does blind one to much of the world around oneself. I am no stranger to tapping into that rage in order to power through; in order to pull myself up the ladder of success. It was not until I read Sovereign that I saw more clearly the cost of tapping into that rage. I do not like what I saw and it means I need to change, but I am not sure I am ready. Though are we ever?

Both Dreadnought and Sovereign have forced me to look at myself in ways I was not ready to. Both books have shown me the folly of my life choices and both have made it hard to continue down my current path. That is an incredible feat for any book, but for it to have come from a YA superhero novel, I am floored. This series has inspired me to continue to read outside my typical genre as it is clear to me that there are many life-changing books out there hiding in genres I tend to avoid. And that’s a lesson from this series I’m ready to embrace right now.