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© 2020 by Janne Janssens.

December Reading Wrap-up


BOOKS I READ


1. BEARTOWN - Fredrik Backman ✩✩✩✩✩



“Everyone has a thousand wishes before a tragedy, but just one afterward.”


Synopsis


People say Beartown is finished. A tiny community nestled deep in the forest, it is slowly losing ground to the ever encroaching trees. But down by the lake stands an old ice rink, built generations ago by the working men who founded this town. And in that ice rink is the reason people in Beartown believe tomorrow will be better than today. Their junior ice hockey team is about to compete in the national semi-finals, and they actually have a shot at winning. All the hopes and dreams of this place now rest on the shoulders of a handful of teenage boys.

Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden, and the semi-final match is the catalyst for a violent act that will leave a young girl traumatized and a town in turmoil. Accusations are made and, like ripples on a pond, they travel through all of Beartown, leaving no resident unaffected.

Beartown explores the hopes that bring a small community together, the secrets that tear it apart, and the courage it takes for an individual to go against the grain. In this story of a small forest town, Fredrik Backman has found the entire world.

[goodreads]


My review


Why didn't I read a book by Backman sooner? I need more Backman in my life! I already had Beartown and A Man Called Ove on my tbr list for over a year, but it was my beautiful friend Janye (instagram: @pages.for.sanity, one of my first friends in the bookstagram community) who convinced me to finally read Beartown.

As soon as I finished the book I understood all her love for and spam about Backman!

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Marin Ireland. Listening to the audiobook didn't make the reading experience better. I think I will get a physical copy of the second book Us Against You.


"Bang. Bang. Bang."


These first words crept me out. I was hooked from the first line. And Backman kept me hooked, even though the story starts relatively slow. The writer takes his time to let you get to know all the characters and their way of living in this small community. This was, however, a good choice of the author in my opinion.

Backman must be a really good judge of human character. It is a very human story. He made every character very human, very vulnerable, not free of flaws. I believe Backman wanted the reader to really understand every character's background and way of thinking.

So it took quite a long time for the inciting incident to happen, but when it happened I was shocked. I realized I didn't know what the story really was about. Idon't want to tell you more about it. This shock was part of the experience.


The author knows how to hook a reader, not only by slowly unraveling the town's secrets, but also with his writing style. His style is like a river: it flows fluently and pushes you to keep reading. The beautiful word constructions are like sunlight that reflects gold on the surface of the water, a beauty that challenges you to dive in. And before you realize you are drowned in this book.


I will recommend this book to everyone who asks for it. I was shocked, I was drowned, but I loved it.


Find this book on goodreads.



2. VISIONS FROM THE UPSIDE DOWN - STRANGER THINGS Artbook ✩✩✩✩

Oh, how I wish I was illustration artist!

The illustrations are beautiful and I loved reading what the artists loved the most about the series and where they took their inspiration from. I am going to cherish this book!

Find this book on goodreads.



3. BLOOD HEIR - Amélie Wen Zhao ✩✩✩✩



"But perhaps all monsters were heroes in their own eyes."


Synopsis


In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.

When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.

A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.

[goodreads]


My review


Blood Heir was such a refreshing fantasy read.


The author's own experiences being an immigrant helped her creating a strong female character, who does still have flaws and who doubts herself, feeling powerless and not belonging. I also really liked her antagonist Ramson Quicktongue, a cunning man who doesn't seem to care about anyone on the outside but has such an interesting charater on the inside, and I am glad Amélie Wen Zhao gave him his own voice in this story. I did miss some background from the side characters, which made them feel flat at times. I hope to get to know them better in the sequel!


I really loved the world building. The story took place in the cold and wintry Cyrilia (based on the author's trip to Russia) with it's own monsters and mythology. The world really came alive before my eyes.



"But then, she supposed, in a world of con men, crime lords, and cut-throats, there was no honor and there were no rules to the game. You only played to win."



The story is really fast paced and you fly through the book. I has been a long time since I read a book so full of action. Every chapter revealed and hid new secrets. At first I thought that this story was quite predictable. But I was wrong. It really surprised me.

However, this fast pace also meant that I didn't really had the time to get invested in the characters.


I can't wait for the sequel Red Tigress to come out in fall 2020!


Find this book on goodreads.



Even though I only read 3 books, these were 3 great ones, so December wasn't a disappointing reading month!



BOOKHAUL


1. GODSGRAVE - Jay Kristoff


I loooooved Nevernight, the first book in the Nevernight Chronicle trilogy. I gave this book to my good friend Michèle as a birthday present because I really wanted her to read it too. Then she gave me the second book Godsgrave as a birthday present to me! I couldn't be happier!


Find this book on goodreads.


Find Nevernight on goodreads.






2. SKY IN THE DEEP - Adrienne Young


Sky in the Deep is one of my favorite books. When I won a giveaway hosted by @books.with.darko on instagram, I got to choose a book of my choice and I chose this one!

I listened to the audiobook narrated by Khristine Hvam and now I am glad I also have a physical copy on my shelves! I hope to reread this book this year!



Find this book on goodreads.






3. DANGEROUS ALLIANCE - Jennieke Cohen


I am chosen to participate in the Hebban Reading Club about this book! I received the hardcover for free, how amazing is that?

I am reading this at the moment so you can expect a review in my January Reading Wrap-up at the beginning of February. I am also thinking about writing a blog post about this reading club and the questions we discussed.


Find this book on goodreads.

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