Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Kitchen House

by Kathleen Grissom
Oct 12-Nov 5, 2015

Obviously I'm way late reading this one. I've decided that 2015 is officially the year of my biggest reading slump. For more reasons than one, I couldn't seem to focus on anything, let alone reading. There weren't a lot of new titles that piqued my interest. And I abandoned more books this year than I have ever done before. When I decided to look on my small, dusty bookshelf, I saw The Kitchen House, which I've had for years, with no shortage of recommendations. It was just what I needed.

I tore through each chapter of an orphaned Irish girl living among the slaves on a tobacco plantation. Lavinia identified with the slaves; an attitude that would cause trouble for everyone around her. Grissom mastered the character development of both the slaves and the plantation owners. I felt love and hate for these people in equal measure. With chapters alternating between Lavinia and Belle, the plantation owner's illegitimate daughter, I was riveted and ultimately satisfied with the story.
“This world is not the only home. This world is for practice to get things right.”
When it was originally published in 2010, of course people were making direct comparisons to The Help. While maybe they would compliment each other, they certainly can't be compared. For whatever reason though, I've noticed a bit of a slavery "trend" in subject matter of late. Or maybe I'm just drawn to it? Personally, I've read three books about slavery this year alone. The Kitchen House beats the others hands down.

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins
Sept 21-Oct 11

I think this book got a lot more hype than it deserved. Everyone is trying to compare their husband-is-the-suspect-in-his-wife's-disappearance to Gone Girl, and that's just not going to work. The suspense didn't quite get there. The characters weren't interesting enough to care about – unless loathing every single one was the author's goal. And while the book started off like gangbusters and was definitely a quick read, the plot soon became eye-rollingly (is that even a word?!) predictable. I've often said that I am not a fan of suspense and whodunit novels, so to be fair, I can understand why people like this. It's quick, easy to read, and hits all the casual reader requirements. I need something with a little more depth. I have a friend who gets annoyed with the term "beach read" because he hates the assumption that just because you're on vacation you need to read something dumbed-down or shallow. Not true! I prefer to be literally challenged. Others prefer to fly through a book for the sake of numbers and pop culture, and that's OK; I'm just not one of them. Call this a beach read if you will...
“There’s nothing so painful, so corrosive, as suspicion.”
See what I mean?! I can hear your tongue clicking!

Aaaaand, off the soapbox. Girl on the Train has book-turned-into-blockbuster-movie written all over it. Let's just hope that NPH turns down any and all offers to play a single character.

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Sunday, November 1, 2015

Eight Hundred Grapes

by Laura Dave
September 3-16, 2015

Synchronization (actual definition): to represent or arrange (events) to indicate coincidence or coexistence.

Synchronization (novel's definition): A "clever" attempt to make an underwhelming story deeper than it really is.

That's the first problem. Trying to make an irrational runaway bride with a normal, only slightly effed up family seem like the next great work of literature. And an author who used the word synchronization like it's an epiphany. At least that's how I interpreted it. The second issue was that the entire book was. Written. In Sentence. Fragments. This got monotonous and distracting after only a few pages. Used properly, this technique can be fun and expressive, but in Eight Hundred Grapes, I'm sure English teachers everywhere were clutching at their grammar textbooks.

“You have to grow about eight hundred grapes to get just one bottle of wine. If that isn’t an argument to finish the bottle, I don’t know what is."

In truth, I'm not sure I can give this book the fair review that every book deserves. I read it so long ago that I barely remember it (nearly two months is a long time in avid-reader days). But to dismiss something so completely in that length of time speaks to the depth of the story – forgettable.

Overall, nothing of note. A light story with potential, but just too shallow.

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