Tag Archives: Book Review

Review: Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Kitchens of the Great Midwest
By J. Ryan Stradal
(Pamela Dorman Books, Hardcover, 9780525429142, July 28, 2015, 320pp.)

The Short of It:

Food has a way of bringing people together but in this novel, not only do they come together, but they continually evolve to discover who they really are.

The Rest of It:

Lars Thorvald, a chef, spends his days consumed with the beauty of the bounty before him. His wife Cynthia, an aspiring sommelier, appears to be his perfect match, but when their daughter Eva is born, Cynthia realizes that motherhood is not for her and abandons both her husband and infant daughter to pursue a life elsewhere.

This was a wonderful read. Many have said that it reads like a collection of short stories but I didn’t get that feeling at all. Each chapter is based on an ingredient that becomes very important at the end of the novel, but it lends a certain mystery to the story as new characters are introduced and the pieces begin to come together.

If you are a foodie, you will enjoy this book. Even if you’re not, you will enjoy this book because it’s smart and the characters are a little quirky and flawed but they all meld together to tell a really good story.

It’s about family and friends and really, the pursuit of happiness and whatever your definition of happiness may be.

This is a debut novel for Stradal but you’d never know it while reading it. It’s a delightful read and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Make sure you check out these additional resources:

Fun Resources for your Book Club!

Online Book Club Kit (recipes, wine pairings, playlists!)
Q & A with J. Ryan Stradal

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms

Other Voices, Other Rooms
By Truman Capote
(Penguin Books, Limited (UK), Paperback, 9780141187655)

The Short of It:

I have a thing for stories set in dusty little towns and this story is full of flawed characters and crazy happenings.

The Rest of It:

From Indiebound:

At the age of twelve, Joel Knox is summoned to meet the father who abandoned him at birth. But when Joel arrives at the decaying mansion in Skully’s Landing, his father is nowhere in sight. What he finds instead is a sullen stepmother who delights in killing birds; an uncle with the face–and heart–of a debauched child; and a fearsome little girl named Idabel who may offer him the closest thing he has ever known to love.

I’ve read Capote before (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In Cold Blood and a few of his short stories) so when the book club I belong to selected it for June, I was glad. So far, everything he’s written I’ve enjoyed and I’m happy to say that the same can be said for Other Voices, Other Rooms.

This is a satisfying read and gives you plenty to think about. A perfect book to discuss with a group. Its collection of odd characters and the feverish hallucinations of Joel made me question many times if some of the strange happenings actually happened at all.

Joel’s future in this town seems bleak. Skully’s Landing is a dusty, dreary, dead-end town. It’s not so much a destination as a place where people just end up but its inhabitants lend it a certain charm. I use the term loosely because the characters are not charming but in fact, a product of their surroundings.

One of my favorite characters is Idabel, supposedly modeled after Capote’s real-life friend, Harper Lee. She’s a tomboy, pegged as trouble by the townspeople but full of personality.

This novel is many things. It could be called a coming-of-age novel or a book about self-acceptance or perhaps an exploration into gender identity. Whatever it is, it’s rich and atmospheric and yes, a little strange but in a good way.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.