Tag Archives: Fave Reads

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: A Little Life

A Little Life

A Little Life 
By Hanya Yanagihara
(Doubleday Books, Hardcover, 9780385539258, March 2015, 736pp.)

The Short of It:

This story will shatter you into a million little pieces but you need to read it anyway.

The Rest of It:

*No spoilers*

This isn’t the type of book where there is a huge plot reveal but not knowing its true subject does lend a rather precarious nature to the reading experience. Because of that, I won’t go into what the book is really about.

What I will say, is that it’s a book about friendships and relationships and the pain that comes with knowing that it’s impossible to really know everything about  a person, no matter how close you are to them.

The book spans three decades and follows the lives of four men, all friends from college. We see them at their best, and their worst. There’s Malcolm, an architect of sorts, Willem, an up and coming actor, JB, a self-absorbed but extremely talented artist and Jude, a brilliant attorney who happens to be the center of the story.

Jude is damaged by the events of the past, but he’s struggling to realize his self-worth and it’s a brutal struggle to witness. There’s pain, lots of it, heart wrenching events that will twist your stomach into knots, but the writing! It’s so damn beautiful. I read it on my Kindle and every other paragraph is highlighted because I just couldn’t stand to leave the page without marking its passage in some way.

I loved every minute I spent with this book. It’s over 700 pages long and usually, I set my reading at a good pace to finish in a reasonable amount of time, but not with this one. This one I lingered on for a long, long time.

It’s by far, the best book I’ve read this year and as soon as I turned that last page, I wanted to run out and buy a physical copy just to admire it on the shelf. THAT COVER though. Don’t click on that link unless you want a hint at what some of it’s about. It’s an image that can mean many things and let me tell you, it does.

Have I completely scared  you now? I hope not because it’s really such a wonderful book and I will continue to sing its praises until someone tells me to stop.

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