Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman ~ Book Review

Us Against You continues the story of the Beartown hockey  team after the tragic events that occurred to split the team and the town in two.  As Peter, the general manager, struggles to rebuild a team who's major players have all left to play for the neighboring town's team instead,  forces are working against him.  That is until a slick politician comes along with some investors who want to rebuild what the town has lost.  But there is a price to pay.  And is Peter willing to sacrifice all to stay in Beartown and keep his job?  Peter will have to find new players not only willing to play but good enough to stand up to the former players of Beartown team now playing for the rival Hed team.  As the big game approaches, the two teams and towns stir up the rivalry with not only verbal assaults but pranks that start to ramp up and take dangerous turns and what started as rivalry turns to hatred.  When a major player's deepest secret is exposed, it's like another bomb has gone off in the midst of the team.  By the time the game is played someone will be dead, and residents and players of both towns will have to look deep to what they have allowed hockey to become.

Once again Fredrik Backman brings a story that goes way beyond the surface.  He has a great talent at going into hearts and attitudes and human nature and exposing both the ugly and the beautiful.  He writes characters that have both good and bad, and makes them relateable.  In this sequel he again takes something that should be simple and enjoyable, a sport, and totally exposes underlying and complex attitudes and feelings that we as a society have allowed into the role that sports and competition in general plays in our lives and brings it to the surface through the characters.  It is an emotional ride through story telling going way beyond the sport that he uses as a base for everything else. 

For the most part I enjoyed it, it made me think, it took my emotions all over the board and drew me in to the characters.  This author has amazing character development even though the book does deal with lots of different characters.  The story has moved along from the last book and some story-lines wrapped up and new ones were introduced through new characters and because there is a book 3 to this whole thing a few story-lines were kinda left with the reader wondering what could happened to certain characters.  There is some delving into political and moral issues worked into this story.   Backman's style is a bit different and his way of using leading sentences to hold the reader captive and wondering is for the most part ingenious but I have to admit that toward the end of the book I felt he was way over using it.  The story is shocking in it's progression of violence both in the portrayal and in the sense that it totally shows how we don't believe how we as individuals could ever play a part in that or get to that point yet here we are as a society.   I was glad that the proliferation of f-bombs and swearing that I found hard in the first book were very much toned down in this one.  If you read and enjoyed Beartown, which is a must read to be able to understand these storylines,  this will take you farther into the exploration of human nature through a town totally invested in it's hockey team. 

I gave it a 8/10

Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #572

Welcome to Friday.  It's time to look back over the week and intentionally look for the blessings that God has brought our way.  We are working at having lives that are filled with gratitude, that look at our cups not just half full but overflowing, that can quickly notice good things and not be overwhelmed when the hard times come.  We are softening our hearts to God's goodness.  Are you ready to join us?  Guidelines are linked in the sidebar if you are new to Friday's Fave Five.

~ perfect gift ~  Dave and I had agreed not to get gifts for Valentine's, or so I thought.  But he was sneaky.  I woke up to just the perfect card that made me laugh and a Starbucks gift card.  Then later that morning a flower delivery brought this gorgeous bouquet to me.  The card read "Seeing as You Love Shoes".  Now I would never in a million years wear stilletos of that height (or stilletos of any height anymore, truth be told) but it sure looked nice with flowers in it!  The gifts were a sweet blessing but the quieter blessing in it all is that my hubby knows me so well and knows what will make me smile and make me feel special.

~ blessing returned ~  As is usual, we were planning on staying home eating a simple homemade meal on Valentine's because neither of us enjoys going out on this day.  The restaurants are always over-crowded and we always feel rushed.  And now more and more restaurants around here, at least the nice ones, are doing special menus on Valentines that features three or four courses, so it is more expensive.  But I had something up my sleeve too.  While he was still finishing up his work, I went out and got one of Hubby's favorite fast food meals, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken).  He'd been wanting it for a few weeks but it never seemed to work out in our meal plans.  When I called that supper was ready and he came up from his work area and saw we were having KFC, his surprise and smile were worth it.  He was so happy.  LOL, Guys and their love of KFC.   Apparently neither of us is good at following our rules.

~ Sunday worship ~ The worship at Sunday service was absolutely beautiful and powerful.  I am so thankful we have a team of dedicated musicians and singers who are willing to put in the time to lead us in worship.  The songs were meaningful, people participated and entered in and God's presence was really felt.  I left feeling filled up and refreshed.

~ condo sold ~  My dad had moved into a senior residence last spring and his condo has been up for sale since.  It has started to become a great source of stress for him as he still had to pay condo fees, insurance and taxes even though he was no longer living there.  Money flying out the window.  I asked my ladies group to commit it to prayer a couple of weeks ago and within 2 weeks that condo sold.  Praise God!!

~ long weekend ~ this past Monday was a long weekend in Alberta and I for one, very much appreciated the day off.  I slept in, stayed in pj's reading with coffee close by and basically relaxed in the morning.  Then seeing it was family day, I went and had a nice cup of tea with my Mom, then went and spent some time with my Dad too.  Tamara joined me for that so it was really nice.  Then I spent the evening with my hubby watching a movie.

Bonus blessing:  Today is our oldest daughter's birthday.  It's hard to believe it was 30 years ago that God gave us the wonderful gift of her.  Though we can't be with her for her birthday she is in our hearts and minds this day and we are thankful for the beautiful, strong woman she has grown into and the blessing she is to us.

What were your favorite blessings you are thankful for this week?

Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #571

Oh my.  How could a week have already skipped by?  But it did, so welcome once again to Friday and Friday's Fave Five. And a very happy Valentine's Day everyone.  I hope you know and are assured that whether you have a valentine or not you are absolutely, fully, wholly loved by God!  In a week where the time has just whizzed right by I'm especially glad I have this intentional place where I can pause and take note of blessings and good things in my life.  Please join me in being intentional in gratitude not just one day a year at Thanksgiving but daily.  

~ valentine treats ~  I am so not a baker.  Love to cook, bake... not so much.  And with the hectic week I totally forgot to plan for valentine's day for the dayhome.  So last night I was making a quick run to the grocery store to get some strawberries and valentines cookies for snacks.  The first store had not one strawberry or valentine cookie in sight!  Thankfully the other grocery store was only a block away and had exactly what I needed.  And apparently I was not the only one that realized it was valentine's tomorrow and needed stuff.  The dollar store was humming with people getting stuff as was the card aisle at the drugstore.  And it wasn't just guys, lots of women digging through the dwindling stock of cards and chocolates.  

~ extra time on my massage appointment ~ after the crazy week I was very thankful to have had a massage appointment last night.  I tend to get knots in my back around the shoulder blades and these appointments have been so helpful in keeping those at bay.  I remember before massages how tight I used to get and how painful it used to be.  Anyway, last night she gave me some extra time.  It's a little thing she does for those booked in the evening before or the day of valentine's as a little gift.  It was so nice to have those extra minutes.

~ dinner and games night at our friend's home ~ We were treated to a delicious dinner of chicken parmesan and sides and a fun games night at our good friends'.  We always love hanging out with these two because we can really just be ourselves with them.  We laugh a lot, we all love good food and enjoy sharing meals together, and we played a fun card game with lots of teasing and competitive joking around.  A lovely few hours.

~ new to me tea ~  at the above mentioned dinner my friend made some of this delicious tea for me.  It was so good and seeing I liked it so much she sent me home with a full box to enjoy.  Yum!

~ playpen gifted to me ~ in a childcare dayhome, at least in mine, the playpens the kids use to sleep in are put up and taken down on a daily basis.  Lots of wear and tear so they are inspected regularly and replaced as needed.  Playpens can get quite costly and when I had 2 start to show signs of needing to be replaced at once I kinda took a deep breath.  When one of the parents found out I needed a playpen, she offered me hers that is only about 3 years old and only used a few times when her little guy was a baby.  And she won't let me pay her for it.  What a blessing that was!  And the other one I was able to score a half off sale.  

What little things are you grateful for from the past week?

Friday, February 07, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #570

Friday is here.  And that means we hit the pause button on our busyness and take a moment to recognize and ponder and be thankful for the blessings in our lives from the past week.  Busyness, to do lists, stresses, demands, even the everyday mundane can all cause us to overlook what is good in our life.  Studies show that one of the biggest factors that produce a happy life is an attitude of gratefulness.  If that is true, no matter our circumstance we need to intentionally purse looking for the gifts God brings, both big and small.  The more we train ourselves to look for and be thankful for blessings the easier it becomes to be aware of them all the time, not just on Fridays.  Please join us as we share five of them.  

~ safety ~ My mom had a fender bender accident on Monday.  Though the car has some fender damage I am so grateful she is not hurt and no one else was hurt.  Insurance can pay for damages but her and other's safety is something I am so grateful for.

~ warmer days ~  though the wind has been insane overnights this week has had weather above freezing everyday.  So that means outside time with the dayhome kiddos.  The days go so much better when the kids can get out and burn off pent up energy.  And I do better too getting my dose of daily fresh air.

~ that first cup of coffee ~  I was reading in a story the other day that the character lived in a time when coffee was not readily available and they only had 1 small cup a day if they were able to get lay their hands on some.  I can't imagine.   It made me realize how blessed we are to have  such easy access to things we enjoy like coffee.  I love that first cup of coffee in the morning.  

~ warm socks ~  I don't know why but this week warm socks have been such a blessing to me.  It's been warmer outside but I think because of that the heat doesn't come on as often  and my feet have been cold.  Nothing like nice, soft, cozy socks.

~ purging leftover items ~  when our youngest moved out in October last year it came on the tail end of her being quite ill and there were some things got left behind in her room.  We are finally getting around to sorting through it getting it either into the garbage or into a box for donation or into another box for her to take with her.  It's nice to get things like that dealt with.  Sometimes the hardest part is just starting it.  But it was time and it's feeling good.

What are you grateful for this week?

Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #569

Welcome everyone!  Friday is here  and that means we take a pause in our busyness to look for blessings in our past week.  It's a "habit" that is worth developing.  When we train ourselves to look for good things and the hand of God in our lives it will help us to get through the harder times when they come.  Blessings come in all shapes and sizes.  Some can be complicated with many layers, some big and can't be missed while others may be as simple as can be and might be missed unless you are intentional in looking for it.  Here at Friday's Fave Five we share five of the one's that blessed us the most.  Please join us.

~ relaxed Sunday ~ I have been working hard to develop the habit of having Sundays for the most part be a day of rest.  I make myself vacuum right after work on Friday's.  Then Saturdays I have been working on finishing the rest of the chores and grocery shopping if it's needed.  Then on Sunday I don't have to do any of this running around and working.  This last weekend it just really worked.  Sunday all we had was church in the morning.  Dave and I went for subs for lunch and the rest of the day was spent relaxing, reading, watching some tv.  It was wonderful.

~ bread box ~  I know, it sounds like a silly blessing but for someone who doesn't have an official modern pantry it is a huge blessing.  I've been on the lookout for years for one that would fit and I finally came across one at Marshall's.  It was such a pain shifting around bags of bread, buns, bagels, etc.  And it looked messy all the time no matter how much I tried to organize it.  Now it's all hidden away.  And bonus blessing:  I used money I had gotten from just returning bottles so in my mind I got it for free.

~ extra drop in kids ~ I was blessed this week with some days that a former family in my dayhome used for drop in care for one of the kids. It was on days when I had less children anyway and it provided some extra income which right after Christmas is a huge blessing. 

~ help ~ my youngest took the time on her day off to come and watch the dayhome kidlets so that I could get to the dentist.  That was a huge blessing to begin with but then when they wanted me to go back in the afternoon she agreed to come over then too.  I can't even say how much I appreciated her willingness to give up a good chunk of her day off to give me a hand.

~ kitchen floor finished ~  The vinyl tile flooring is finally finished.  Dave worked hard to finish the project that he started before Christmas.  Right before the holidays, though, he took a fall on some ice and really injured himself and was not able to lean forward.  So the job was put on hold.  He has finally felt better and has worked all weekend to finish it up.  A few more baseboards reinstalled and given a fresh coat of paint and the whole job will be down.  I'm so grateful he is talented and willing to do these reno jobs.  And I'm so thankful for this new floor.  The laminate floor was just not holding up to the tough wear and tear of a dayhome and it always squeeked and scrunched as you walked on it.  This floor is super quiet and easy to clean.  So thankful.

What were your favorites blessings from the last week?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #568

Oh my goodness, where did that week fly off to?  Seems like just yesterday I was putting together my FFF post and here we are again!  Good thing FFF is here to ground me and help me to slow down and shift my focus from whizzing through the week and my to do list to being intentional and looking for blessings even in the midst of the busy.  Please join me in sharing five favorite blessings from the last week.

~ small group's first meeting of the year ~  though us Ladies did meet up for our post Christmas dinner out our first official study night was this week.  It was so nice to get back to learning about the word of God and discussing  and sharing.  Though I love the break, I really do miss good fellowship that encourages and uplifts.  This session we are studying by the book of Philippians taught by Jo Saxton on Right Now Media.  I can tell just from the 1st evening that it's going to a really good and challenging study.

~ weather change ~ well you know from the last FFF that we were sitting in a deep freeze for over a week here in Alberta.  Sunday we saw a massive change in that.  I woke up to -24*C (with a "feels like" of -30*C) at 8:35 a.m.  For my American friends that is  -11*F (feels like -22*F.  By noon it was almost +5*C  (41*F).  And that was without a chinook wind to do the warming!  Each day since has just been getting warmer and warmer and today we're supposed to reach a crazy balmy 11*C (51.8*F).  That apparently is warmer than some parts of Florida right now.  I'll take it.

~ friends who pray and are there for you ~  This week I had a matter that was heavy on my heart and mind.  I shared it with a very good friend who took the matter to pray.  She has checked in with me everyday and has continued to lift it up before the Lord.  I really appreciate and am so thankful for friendships like this.

~ Gift cards ~ I received a couple of gc's for Christmas and my birthday one of which was to my hair salon.  It was so nice to just go and get my hair cut and colored  and even pick up one of the products which I really like, and which I rarely get because of the price, without giving it a second thought.  I also got one to the bookstore and pre-ordered my favorite author's new book which comes out in May.  Again, didn't have to give a thought to spending that money.  Love gift cards.

~ body lotion ~  I received a gift package of Lush products from my oldest daughter and her hubby for Christmas and a couple of the products in it was Sleepy body wash and lotion.  I just love it.  It's a lavender smell which is touch and go for me.  Love lavender but if it's too strong my head can't handle it.  This is nice and subtle and the lotion seems to work really well.  Perfect just before bedtime.

What were your 5 favorite blessings from the last week?

Friday, January 17, 2020

Friday's Fave Five #567

Hi everyone and welcome to Friday's Fave Five.  We're intentionally practicing taking a pause and looking for blessings in our lives, developing gratefulness for the good things God blesses us with, both big and small.  Please join us.

~this post and this post by our blogging friends Faith and Barbara~  One encourages us to be in the Word daily as it is food for our souls and the other gives some great wisdom to read and study the bible.  Both came at just the right time for me and were confirmation to what God was nudging me towards.

~heaters~  Alberta has been sitting in the deep freeze this week with temps in my area falling into the -27*C (with a "feels like" making it -34*C) range at night.  That's -17*F (feeling like -29*F) for my American friends.  Bone chilling cold.  Where my son lives in the capital of Alberta it went to -40*C!!   I have been very grateful this week for all kinds of heating.  Our home furnace and kept the cold at bay, our electric fireplace in the living room has added extra toastiness to the frigid evenings.  My car's heater has kept us warm as we drive.  Very grateful for all the warmth these heaters provide.

~hot nourishing soups and crockpot meals~   when cold like this we crave warm, one pot nourishment.  Meatball soup, cream cheese chicken, stew are just a few of the things that have got on the supper table.  Love these kinds of comfort foods.

~ new brush ~ for years I've been looking for a certain kind of brush. I finally came across it quite by accident and it'exactly what I wanted.  Just a little thing, but a blessing nontheless.

~ unexpected day off ~ Wednesday I was handed a day off I was not expecting.  I was so nice to just take it easy and get caught up on some chores that kept getting put on the back burner.

What have been your blessings from the last week?