Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

How I Read It: Print/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 9/8/20-9/13/20

How I Found It: It’s Fredrik Backman

TRIGGER WARNING: There is a lot of talk about suicide in this book. There is also a specific scene where a suicide takes place. That scene is referenced throughout the entire book. Read at your own discretion.

Okay, so I may or may not be a total fangirl for Fredrik Backman. I also may or may not have his future books set as a notification (speaking of, WE ARE GETTING ANOTHER BEARTOWN NOVEL!!!!!! I mean, come on, I deserve to be excited about this!), so I purchased this book long before this quarantine happened. I have reviewed all of his other works (If you would like to see my other reviews for Fredrik Backman, you can click this link) before on the blog, so I am not going to go into a whole lot of detail about why I love his books, but I will try to leave my fangirling at the door and give you my thoughts on Anxious People.

On the night before New Year’s Eve, a bank robbery turns into a hostage situation. Well, not at the bank, at an apartment showing across the street from the bank. And really, it wasn’t a robbery because nothing was taken. And really, the robber doesn’t want anything other than to be able to leave, so is it really a hostage situation?

Throughout the entire story, we get to meet the strange cast of characters as we try to piece together how and why all of this is happening. With new surprises on every page, we take a deep dive into suicide, love, pizza, and friendship.

So here’s the thing about this story, I’m being purposefully vague. Within the first 20 pages, you already have 3 major revelations, and those revelations only become more convoluted as you read. And while I will say that I don’t think this is the best work that Backman has written, I will 100% encourage you to read it.

Which leads to why I say it’s not the best. Backman has always had a way of focusing on one character and having the story revolve around them. The only example of him not doing so would be the Beartown series, where he had different characters form the plot. In this book, he used the characters in a way to skew the plot, which has a purpose in the book, but is difficult to follow. And while he has a wit that I will never be able to fully comprehend, I personally didn’t find this book as entertaining to read as some of his other works.

HOWEVER, this book serves a purpose way above just the story. This book will make you consider what love means. Through 3 (maybe 4, maybe more) relationships, 3 families, and 9 people stuck in an apartment, we learn a lot about what you do for the people that you love, and what happens when we try to fight for the right to love. This book will go into survivor guilt, and how hard it is to recover feeling that you could have done more. This book will go into drug addiction, and how hard it is to love someone with a drug dependency. This book will go into death, and how we struggle dealing with grief. This book has so many real-life connections that give the reader a place to start thinking about what all of this means (P.S. This is characteristically Fredrik Backman. If you think that is cool, read his other works, please. He is my favorite author for a reason).

I personally would give this book a high rating, probably a 4.5 out of 5 stars. I would say for those that are debating reading this book, this book is an open door into mental health. If you don’t know how to say how you feel, there is probably a character in this book who you can relate to. If you need someone to root for that is like you, read this book. It’s a little bit of a maze, but it’s worth it.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… Nicholas Sparks

Welp ladies and gents, we made it. It’s been a crazy last few weeks, and while I am going to happily take a break from author series for a while, I am so grateful for the love and support this time around. We have reached every continent this series minus Antarctica (Side note: anyone with friends down there should give them a heads up!), and we have reached 12 countries, so thank you for the support all around the world! But we aren’t here to talk about me, we are here to talk about Nicholas Sparks, so let’s get into it!

Nicholas Sparks falls under the genre “romance”. His stories more often than not talk about two people who randomly meet and quickly fall in love. However, there is something that causes their relationship to disintegrate, and they either find ways to reconcile or there is a tragedy that separates them forever. With all that being said, he has included a “thriller” aspect to many of his books (See Me, Safe Haven, The Best of Me, The Lucky One, A Bend in the Road, The Rescue, The Guardian). This is used in conjunction with the love story to add to the disintegration and/or tragedy part of his romance.

Two by Two is the only book that he has written that does not follow his mold. Unlike his other stories, this one is not about falling in love, but about finding love in a difficult time. It also isn’t so much about a romance (though there is one in the book), but about a love between a father and a daughter. I think that is why this book is so much more memorable than his others.

Many of his books have the cult following they do because of movies. Sadly, there were a lot of movies that I felt did a better job at telling the story than Sparks did. He has a tendency to not time the romance with the storyline well, and his connections are often shaky at best.

In the scheme of things, Sparks always seemed like an amazing author to me. That was until I read all of his books in about 1 month. Then all I could see were the same patterns over and over and over. Ultimately, it took away from the magical appeal he seems to have to the female population. So basically what I am saying is read his books in moderation and you are good to go!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/Ebook

Dates Read: 7/4/19-7/5/19

Firstly, thank you for your patience. I know this post is a few hours late, and while I could give you all an excuse as to why I was unable to do it, the main reason was that I was tired. This author series has been so incredibly rewarding, but extremely draining. Thankfully, this series is coming to a close, and today’s post is on one of my “calm down” movies. As I have mentioned in other posts, I struggle with anxiety. My anxiety often manifests itself at night as I lay down to go to bed, and I watch movies to help go to sleep at night. This one is on the list of movies I have seen so often that I not only can recite lines, but I can easily fall asleep to it. Also, who wouldn’t feel instantly relaxed by Scott Eastwood?

This story follows Luke Collins, a bull rider out of North Carolina. He meets art history major, Sophia Danko, at a bar after his ride, and instantly their connection is palpable. The next day they go horseback riding together, and the rest is history. But Luke has a secret that forces him to keep riding, and Sophia has to decide what her next step in life is going to be. Mixed into their love story is the story of Ira Levinson, a haberdasher that happened to love an extremely increible woman, Ruth.

The book is strange. In a lot of ways, I think Nicholas Sparks added in elements that he knew sold well into a love story that really didn’t need those elements. Specifically, Brian. There was no need for the “bad guy” in this story, and it felt extremely clichéd. Even more so with the addition of Marcia.

The Longest Ride Poster
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2726560/

Wow, the movie is its own entity. While the movie is based on the love stories, the overall arc of the movie is completely different than the book. The movie to me seems much more cohesive and the pathway from A to B makes more sense. It also felt very disingenuous that the book didn’t talk about the things that Sophia and Luke are interested in (considering their differing passions were a series of stress in their relationship), and the movie managed to showcase those passions without taking away from the original love story.

P.S. The woman who played Ruth is a phenomenal actress. She is going places, guys.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Print

Dates Read: 7/2/19-7/3/19

I feel like every day this week is going to start with “Whew!” While I have been busting my butt to get these reviews out to you, I have saved my favorites (and least favorites) for this week. This one happened to fall in the latter category.

When I read this for the first time, I was disappointed. I didn’t think that it was worth the insane amounts of hype that it has been getting. HOWEVER, now that I have done this series (and read the really bad ones), I don’t mind this book. It will never be my favorite, but it also isn’t on the complete dislike list, either. So, progress?

Tru Walls is a game guide from Zimbabwe. When he receives a letter from his father, he goes to Sunset Beach in North Carolina. Hope Anderson is at Sunset Beach to clean out her family’s beach house after her father’s diagnosis of ALS. In the short time they were neighbors, they quickly fall in love. But life forces them apart, and they must take the steps they need to find each other again.

Unlike any of his other books, this one is a true story (with names changed). Despite that, it still follows the story arc that we are all used to. The characters are completely unlike the ones I would expect him to write, which is more a situation of circumstance. One of the things that most bothered me originally about this story was that I didn’t feel the connection between not only myself, but the characters themselves. This time around, I felt it, and I can’t tell if it is because I am more attuned to the connection after these past weeks or if I just didn’t give it a chance before, but it was there. This was not the type of story that left me crying, and I didn’t even feel close.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Choice by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 7/1/19-7/2/19

Man I love this book! This has been one of my favorites (mainly because I love the movie) for a few years, and I am glad to be doing a review!

This book follows Travis, the veterinarian and all-around-player-of-women, and his neighbor, Gaby, a physician’s assistant. When Gaby’s dog becomes pregnant, she suspects Travis’ dog as the culprit. But as they begin to get to know each other, she is forced to choose between Travis and her boyfriend. Overarching all of this is a tragedy, where Travis has to make the ultimate choice.

The ending (in my opinion) was WAY too long. There was no need for half of the last 100 pages. With that being said, I absolutely loved Part One of this book and I could have used more of that! It is one of those situations where you have to pick your poison.

The Choice Poster
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3797868/

Shout out to my Internet for crapping out 10 minutes before the movie ended. It ended up working out because I had to clean up the puddle of tears at my feet, so whatever.

Oof, man. Oof. So some backstory about me. I have told you that my mom died when I was 18. While my mom was in the hospital, my dad stood beside her, took the 2 hour drive every weekend to be with her, and managed to still stay ever so present in my brother’s and my lives. Seeing what Travis is going through in the movie just hit me right in those feels, and I am trying to recover from that.

I think the movie did a better job of spacing the romance with the ending. My only fault is that characters were changed around almost haphazardly, and there were random storylines that were just thrown in there for good measure. But clearly I love the movie, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Let’s Talk… Romance

Pull out the candles and the Marvin Gaye, because we are talking romance tonight! Well…. it’s the morning, and I’m talking about the genre, not the concept, but you get the idea. Romance can mean a million different things, and even the Audible romance package has to separate romance into “levels of steaminess”. And yes, that is 100% real. From Fifty Shades of Grey and the After series to All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and The Fault in Our Stars and to everything in between, let’s talk about some tips and tricks I have picked up on reading in the romance genre:

  1. Find a book that can pace the love story correctly. There are a lot that have a really slow build up to then rush the actual romance part of the book. And of course, there are books that do the exact opposite. If you are going to write a romance novel, keep the book moving while still telling the story you are trying to tell.
  2. Smut is smut. It bothers me to no end when people judge other people on their smut (things I never thought I would write when my grandmother will probably read this). We all have different things that interest us, and it is not my business to judge another person for their sexual reading habits. If you don’t want to read smut, then don’t read smut. But if you don’t want to read smut, then don’t judge someone else for reading it. (Hmmmm… that argument sounds familiar, doesn’t it)
  3. Take a chance on a new book. There are a lot of authors who specialize specifically in the romance category (*cough, cough* Nicholas Sparks), but there are a lot of authors within the category that have similar styles. Be willing to explore, there’s a lot in the genre.
  4. Love isn’t always black and white. Sometimes the romance is about loving yourself, finding yourself, or finding a home. We all love The Notebook type romances, but romance is also about falling in love with the person you are.
  5. Keep in mind what is important to you. I have always said on this blog that health is incredibly important to me, but for other people it is about how quickly the romance develops, the types of people (or monsters thanks to Twilight), or even about writing style. while I always say you should keep an open mind when picking a book, don’t sacrifice what’s important to you in order to read a book.

If you keep all these ideas in your head, you will find what you want in the genre. If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 6/23/19-6/24/19

I feel like the farther into this author series, the harder it is for me to start these. But we are just going to plow right on through! Welcome back to another day which is also FRIDAY, let’s party! Okay, I am not doing well here. Let’s just get into the synopsis, shall we?

Let’s start with Logan Thibault (pronounced Tee-bow). He was a marine in the Iraq war, where he found a photograph. That photograph became his saving grace, and he promised that he would find the woman in the picture and thank her for all the times she saved his life in the war. Using clues from the picture, he walked (along with his dog, Zeus) from Colorado to Hampton, NC to meet the woman, named Beth.

Beth is the granddaughter of the kennel owner, the ex-wife of the deputy sheriff, the mother of a son, and the sister of a marine. When Logan meets Beth, he takes the job at the kennels in order to be close to her. As they began to get close, their feelings began to grow until they completely consumed them. But the secret as to why he is there continues to build, especially as the ex-husband gets more involved.

I really enjoyed reading this book! My only issue with this one is the ending. I was getting closer and closer to the ending and felt nervous that the ending would not have the luxury of description and context the way the rest of the book. My fears were justified, and I wish the ending was given a few more pages of content just so the ending could be explained more.

The Lucky One Poster
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1327194/

I have no idea why I am so surprised when a movie follows a book well. Plus, Zac Efron isn’t bad to look at (don’t mind the blushing). I surprisingly have no complaints about this movie, which says a lot. If you are looking for a Nicholas Sparks movie that follows the book to a tee, here ya go!

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Ebook/ Audiobook

Dates Read: 6/21/19- 6/20/19

WELCOME BACK to a mess of a blog! Another day, another book, am I right? Okay, so it is pretty late at night and I am exhausted, so this is going to be an interesting review to say the least.

This book follows Katie, a waitress who just came to Southport, NC to get her new start in life. She meets Alex, the owner of the small grocery store down the street and the father of 2 children, Kristen and Josh. As she gets closer to the kids, her walls begin to fall down. But as her past (including her husband) catches up to her, her new reality is starting to break at the seams.

I have no problems with the romance, I am all for it. My issue is that it felt REALLY slow. At some point, I was just hoping this book would start to speed up again. I also think that Kevin got brought in really late in the story. I almost wish we got the backstory in bits and pieces than to have it all come out in one moment halfway through the book.

Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough in Safe Haven (2013)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1702439/

Hold the heck up! You are just going to change the daughter’s name? That’s not cool bro.

Anyway, let’s get sappy. As I have mentioned before, I lost my mom when I was 18. One of the last movies I remember seeing in the theaters with my mom was this movie. We both left teary-eyed and feeling happy that we get moments like these. To rewatch it now, it hits right in the feels.

I like the way they gave the backstory, but the romance was super quick. It felt like her guard dropped way too quick for the past that she went through. It seemed like they tried to condense it for the sake of the movie, while taking away from the original pace of the love story.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

True Believer/ At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B000FCK3BE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000FCKH9W?ref_=dbs_mng_calw_1&storeType=ebooks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 6/18/19- 6/21/19

Why hello! Welcome to me being controversial. Okay, so I don’t want to use the word “hate”, but I strongly disliked the female main character, Lexie. I found her really annoying and frustrating. But bearing all that in mind, here’s my thoughts on the books.

This book follows Jeremy Marsh, a column writer for Scientific American, who has a tendency to investigate psychic and paranormal activities. When he hears of a cemetery in Boone Creek, NC that has “paranormal” lights at night, he goes to investigate. But soon he begins to fall in love with the librarian. The second book follows the months after the first book as their lives completely change.

Is it bad that I enjoyed the beginning of the second book because it showcased how difficult to be in a relationship that escalated that quickly? I noticed that this section is very similar to Two by Two, yet this book has a more positive ending than Two by Two. That (at least my speculation) seems to come out of Sparks’ love life, and his ending of his marriage. This is all complete hearsay, but that’s my best guess as to the reasoning.

I genuinely do not think that either of these books are memorable (in fact, I have these books listed as already read, yet I did not remember either of them before rereading them, and writing about the first book is still hazy though I read it a few days ago) and I doubt these books will ever get the level of recognition as some of his other books.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!

The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks

How I Read It: Audiobook/ Ebook

Dates Read: 6/15/19-6/18/19

This book is probably one of my favorites by him. I think we have all had moments when we have thought “this would have happened if…”, and this book is the full representation of that. This story follows Dawson Cole, whose family is known for their violence and general negative demeanor. He meets Amanda Collier, whose family comes from the wealthier part of town. Defying all odds, they fall in love, but sadly, their time will come and go. After the death of a mutual friend, they find themselves together again, and they must decide whether their love is worth starting over, or that they should stay on their separate paths.

Similarly to The Notebook, I felt like the movie did a much better job of fleshing out their young love story. The book felt a little rushed over that part, but otherwise, I felt like the story was put to paper really well. I enjoyed hearing Amanda’s thought process as she interpreted every situation she found herself in, and I think that hearing from her how she found herself in the position of loving 2 men gives some perspective.

James Marsden, Michelle Monaghan, Liana Liberato, and Luke Bracey in The Best of Me (2014)
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1972779/

Okay… so I might like the movie more than the book. While they also did a better job with the young love story, they also gave a better story for why Dawson ended up in prison. I felt like Sparks gave an extremely flimsy reason for his arrest, but the movie gives a reason that is not only more personal, but has already been fleshed out with the young love story.

With that being said, I am also glad that the focus was not on Abee and Ted. Their story in the book was a lot more mental conversations that showed how far from normal their mental capacities were, but the movie focused solely on Tommy Cole as the bad guy. Tommy is much more organized and that played well to camera.

If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at elizabethslick@elizabethsbookstore.blog. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!