Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Rating:           10

General Rating:  Finally! A book that makes sense out of the senselessness of anxiousness. I LOVED this book and give it a ten—and I don’t hand tens out easily. This will go down as one of my all-time favorites. The writing is magnificent; the characters, irresistibly lovable; and the storyline, hilarious at times and teaching at others.

Skip factor:  Not. One. Word.

Favorite line: “Do you know what the worst thing about being a parent is? That you’re always judged by your worst moments. You can do a million things right, but if you do one single thing wrong you’re forever that parent…”

Who should read: If you like fabulous writing in laugh-out-loud books or outlandish stories with quirky characters, you’ll love this.  And if you’re anxious, you’ll love. And if you’re an idiot, you won’t be able to put down.

Summary:  This story is about a bridge. And life’s puzzle pieces. Simply, a boy attempts to save a man’s life but the man jumps off a bridge to his death. Later, the boy does save a girl from ending her life on that same bridge, but the boy’s never able to forgive himself for not being able to save the man. He grows up to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a good cop. And a good person. If not an anxious person.

Enter a tired, anxious, idiotic bank robber who has two children, is divorced, has been fired, and needs $6,500 for rent.

When the bank robber—who robs a bank with no money—ends up at an apartment “open house” near this bank, which sits across from the infamous bridge, the lives of eight anxious people converge. The bank robber holds a businesswoman, gay couple (one pregnant), retired couple, realtor, and a little old lady—the worst hostages ever—captive while sorting out what to do before the police storm the building.

What happens in that apartment is quirky, strange, unbelievable, believable, and so puzzling that readers won’t put the pieces together until nearly the final page. It’s one of those ten thousand piecers you have to be patient snapping together, but trust me, in the end, you’ll find Backman has assembled a beautiful picture.

Characters:  Very rarely do I grow attached to two or three characters in a book. Here, I loved eleven characters and a few of their deceased relatives (and friends). Need I say more? Who loves a dozen people in one book? They all had distinct personalities, were anxious, and yes, they were idiots—the good kind.

Storyline:  There is a madness to this storyline, which you might find annoyingly confusing at times, but you MUST hang in there and piece this one together slowly. Wait for it. The story is so much more than a tale of anxious idiots as it professes to be. This book tells of the essence of humans. The individuality and likeness of people.

They’ll be a point when you think, huh? But wait for it. Wait for pieces to start snapping into place.

You may need time to warm up to this one. My friend Joanne had to put it down. She said the anxious people were making her anxious. (Go figure.) She’s going back to read it now and won’t be sorry.

Writing:  I loved the writing of Backman’s novel, A Man Called Ove, but this book? The writing is magnificent. I highlighted so many sentences and bookmarked so many pages, my Kindle nearly overloaded. I’m heading off toward Bear Town and intend on reading everything Backman ever wrote or will write.

Read this author again?  Absolutely.

Read on!

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CJ Zahner is anxious. She is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and two ChickLit novels Friends Who Move Couches and Don’t Mind Me, I Came with the House. Many of her novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, TwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Where to Find FREE Books

For those who missed my newsletter, here’s how to find FREE books. They’re out there. Hundreds of them:

Find Free Books

Occasionally, authors offer their novels free. Why? They hope you’ll review or recommend them. Here’s the secret way of finding thousands of free books. First, you must use a laptop or computer. (Your mobile phone will default to the Top 100 Paid.)

  • Go to Amazon Best Sellers Page
  • Select Kindle e-books on the left hand side
  • Scroll & select a category/genre on left (example: Humor & Entertainment)
  • Select Top 100 Free (circled in blue on the picture below)

Select a book that piques your curiosity. One with a number of reviews. If it’s not for you, you can easily delete.

Grabbing free books is as simple as that! Here are a few direct links (must be clicked from computer or laptop): HumorRomanceMystery Thriller & SuspenseWomen’s Fiction. (Again: Your mobile phone will default to the Top 100 Paid.)

Other ways to find free books:

Amazon Prime Members, you are missing out if you’re not downloading a monthly First Reads. You get one free book per month (sometimes two). These are brand new novels, so google Amazon First Reads mid month. By then, readers will have posted hundreds of reviews. Pick one with 4+ stars.

Anyone can find free or low cost books on various sites. My favorites are BooksendsBookBub, or Bookgorilla. (I’m sort of addicted to them.) I’ve seen discounted books by authors such as Liane Moriarty, David Baldacci and Nora Roberts on these sites.

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Read on!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, Dream Wide Awake, and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a sixth-sense paranormal element, and Friends Who Move Couches, women’s fiction. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on InstagramTwitterFacebookGoodreadsBookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.

Where the Crawdads Sing

Name:                        Where the Crawdads Sing

Author:                      Delia Owens

Rating:                       8

General Rating:

What’s all the fuss about? I liked this book. I did. But, meh, wait until the dust settles to read. I was over 2000 on the waiting list at the Philadelphia Free Library to borrow this book. It’s not that wait worthy. I give this an 8 only because I loved the writing. In comparison, I looked forward to reading it as much as I did Baldacci’s Absolute Power and Moriarity’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story. I liked the plot and story in the other two more, but Crawdads had the best writing, by far.

Skip factor:               

3% I could not take all the marsh information. I tried but TMI.

Who should read:            

Most women and especially any back-to-nature people. (Back-to-nature folks will skip 0%.)

Summary:  This is the story of a ten-year-old girl, Kya, who is deserted in a North Carolina marshland and must learn to survive on her own. Her mother and siblings leave by the time Kya is six. Her father stays, but comes and goes until finally, he leaves for good when she is ten. To prevent a spoiler, I’ll summarize by saying she befriends a kind boy who teaches her to read, a not-so-kind boy who says he loves her but doesn’t, and a few other people in a nearby town who help her survive until she creates a way to sustain herself.

CharactersI did not feel a connection with any of them:

Kya Clark –  Kya is a strong female character with aloof qualities that living in solitude might relay. She does not have a big personality. Yet, you root for this ten-year-old. She must learn survival skills on her own. And while she is somewhat unbelievable to me, the author was so knowledgeable about wildlife and the marshlands she had me wonder if a child could survive out there alone.

Tate – Tate, who loves the marshland, befriends Kya, teaches her to read, and falls in love with her before going away to college. He promises to say goodbye and then—going against every grain of his character—doesn’t. He leaves but much later redeems himself. I won’t say how. No spoilers.

Other characters – I didn’t like Chase, which I’m sure the author intended. I liked the man at the store (although obviously not that much as I can’t remember his name) and his wife Mabel but didn’t feel the connection with them I thought the author was trying to evoke. I liked the police investigators, and although there were times they were funny, I didn’t love them.

Storyline: Is it believable? No, but here’s where I go against my grain. Typically, I pay no mind to where an author went to school or grew up. I’ve read lots of books written by Ivy School grads that I DNF. But because I loved Owens’ writing, I googled her to find out how she learned to mix words so well. Astonishingly, I found she’s a zoologist. So I sat back and reevaluated the storyline. Is it believable?

Still no. To be believable, Kya 1) would have been more aloof and recluse (a duller story) and 2)  would have had much more trouble alone in that marshland (a more depressing story). Additionally, Tate walking away without even a goodbye but continuing to love her for years? Fairy tale fiction.

Writing style:    The writing is flawless and that is why this is worth the read. I loved her dialogue, and while, again, I am not a fan of setting description, the author’s wonderful word mixing led me much deeper into scene description than I would go for any other author. Sometimes, in those marsh descriptions that I typically would have loathed, I found myself saying, “Wow, what a clever way to describe that,” which is the only reason I skipped so little.

There is also clever symbolism between the marsh and life that is worth a ponder.

Read this author again: Because I loved her writing, I’ll try reading another of this author’s books. If there is too much nature-loving description in that one, I’ll give it a miss and return it to the library early. However, I’ll just quietly walk away. Won’t add it to my Books I Almost Read category. Her writing is too good to tarnish with a DNF.

Read on!

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CJ Zahner is the author of The Suicide Gene, a psychological thriller, and Dream Wide Awake and Project Dream, two thrillers that carry a paranormal element. These last two novels were inspired by Zahner’s own experiences. See the video of her own paranormal experience, a premonition of 9/11 here. Download her Beyond Reality Radio podcast here. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, BookBub, or LinkedIn. Purchase her books on Amazon.