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Search tags: 6-book-club
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review 2018-05-18 00:52
Good Morning, Midnight
Good Morning, Midnight: A Novel - Lily Brooks-Dalton

I'm sure there are plenty of people who will find this a beautiful and meditative read about the nature of loneliness and connectivity. I was not one of those people. Not by a long shot.

Maybe it's the result of years of studying literature and writing, but I could not stand the way this book was written. I know a lot of people enjoyed the prose, but again I was not one of them. There was no developed voice, and the style of the writing feels very much like the product of a writing program rather than an author developing a distinct voice. The metaphors were often tortured and the language repetitive and rote. More damning, I found the characters unbelievable, especially the astronauts (and cosmonauts). I did not believe these people and I did not like them. And the twists? I called them Very Early in the book (maybe page 20?), and they were aggravatingly pat. Perhaps I've read too many stories in workshop, or too many books in general, but I found the story laughably trite and predictable.

Here's the thing: I feel like Brooks-Dalton wanted to write a story about the nature of loneliness and the human condition. Which is great. The mistake is that she decided to shoehorn this story into a sci-fi genre and she totally dropped the ball. You can write literary sci-fi, but it's a tricky beast. You need to understand both literary trappings and genre trappings, and make them work in tandem. In this book they were fighting against each other. For example, the book kept pointing at science, and trying to make it a core part of the story, without ever understanding it. Science isn't a magic system you can just slot into your story to make it more interesting. It became evident that the research done was only very surface level, and the discrepancies became distracting. (Don't even get me started on all the errors made in regards to space and the space program.)

Not a science nerd? Maybe it won't bother you. Then again, an awful lot of people are going to enter into this book expecting at least some answers to basic questions set up by the premise, like what caused the apocalypse, and those questions are not answered. There really isn't much plot to speak of, and there is absolutely no world building. These are things many folks appreciate and expect in their narratives.

Look, here's the thing, if you're intrigued by the idea of a post-apocalyptic narrative, or you're interested in a duel narrative where a scientist and an astronaut work to solve a problem, this will disappoint you. It is neither of those things. This book is about isolated people navel gazing about how they came to a point in their life where they are alone. That's it. And a lot of people will enjoy that. Which is totally fine. Unfortunately I for one found it insufferable.

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review 2018-05-09 12:19
Truly Devious
Truly Devious - Maureen Johnson

Ellingham Academy is set high on a mountain in Vermont. It is an exclusive, free school for those deemed to be the best. Every student is either a Junior or a Senior in their school and they are given all the core subjects for their grade, but others in the field of interest. Stevie is new to the school and had entered on a lark to get away from her parents and to study the mystery from 1936 involving the disappearance of Iris and Alice Ellingham. 

 

This book was assigned to my girls in their book club and while one thoroughly enjoyed the story and cannot wait for the 2nd book to come out. The other two were not as enthused by this book. I know that I too am interested in book two as there did not seem to be an end to the first book. 

 

 

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review 2018-05-08 14:57
The Lie Tree / Frances Hardinge
The Lie Tree - Frances Hardinge

Faith Sunderly leads a double life. To most people, she is reliable, dull, trustworthy - a proper young lady who knows her place as inferior to men. But inside, Faith is full of questions and curiosity, and she cannot resist mysteries: an unattended envelope, an unlocked door. She knows secrets no one suspects her of knowing. She knows that her family moved to the close-knit island of Vane because her famous scientist father was fleeing a reputation-destroying scandal. And she knows, when her father is discovered dead shortly thereafter, that he was murdered.

In pursuit of justice and revenge, Faith hunts through her father's possessions and discovers a strange tree. The tree bears fruit only when she whispers a lie to it. The fruit of the tree, when eaten, delivers a hidden truth. The tree might hold the key to her father's murder - or it may lure the murderer directly to Faith herself.

 

The May selection for my real-life book club. The verdict? We liked it a lot. As one member said, it started out kind of depressing with all of the women seemingly held back and held down by a repressive society and the men in their lives. But as the story progressed, I realized that just like weeds, the women of the tale were strong enough to find their way to some control by growing up through the cracks!

There’s a fair amount of darkness and duplicity in the work. I guess with a title like The Lie Tree that is unavoidable. Faith Sunderly demonstrates that peculiarity of human nature—she cares much more about the opinion of her odious, abusive father than for her mother who she despises as “less than.” And in doing so, she despises herself for being that ultimate “less than,” a girl. She believes in her father’s uprightness until she discovers his special possession, the Lie Tree. A plant which feeds on lies and the more people who believe them, the better the plant grows.

When her father is killed (and her family is due to be disinherited because he is believed to be a suicide), Faith takes matters into her own hands—she tells the tree what it wants to hear and it grows much more luxuriantly that it ever did under her father’s care.

I loved the book for Faith’s realization of her worthiness and intelligence and the resilience of all the women to resist the patriarchal control in their society. I’m looking forward to reading more by Frances Hardinge.

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review 2018-05-06 18:49
Tonight I finished reading "The Underground Railroad"
The Underground Railroad - Colson Whitehead

Tonight I finished reading this amazing book. The story depicted slavery in a much more brutal way than any other story I can recall reading. As I worked my way through the book, the terms, “white privilege” (a term I have struggled to understand) and “black lives matter” have played over and over again in my mind. I also think of “black holocaust”, a term I had only recently heard, yet as I read of Cora’s experiences and observations in North Carolina, shares so many similarities to the Jewish holocaust.

 

I need to take a day or two to think about this book and let its story gel in my mind before I can write much about it. I am appalled and moved beyond description for the things that occurred in this story. I think this is an important book that will stand the test of time and, as hard as it was to read, I am glad to have read it.

Source: funfoodlife.com/the-underground-railroad/#comment-2141
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review 2018-04-30 22:18
The Dirty Book Club / Lisi Harrison
The Dirty Book Club - Lisi Harrison

M.J. Stark’s life is picture-perfect—she has her dream job as a magazine editor, a sexy doctor boyfriend, and a glamorous life in New York City. But behind her success, there is a debilitating sense of loneliness. So when her boss betrays her and her boyfriend offers her a completely new life in California, she trades her cashmere for caftans and gives it a try. Once there, M.J. is left to fend for herself in a small beach town, with only the company of her elderly neighbor, Gloria, and an ocean that won’t shut up.

One afternoon, M.J. discovers that Gloria has suddenly moved to Paris with her friends to honor a fifty-year-old pact. And in lieu of a goodbye, she’s left a mysterious invitation to a secret club—one that only reads erotic books. Curious, M.J. accepts and meets the three other hand-selected club members. As they bond over naughty bestsellers and the shocking letters they inherited from the original club members, the four strangers start to divulge the intimate details of their own lives… and as they open up, they learn that friendship might just be the key to rewriting their own stories: all they needed was to find each other first.

 

Probably a three star book with regards to writing & plot, but I really enjoyed the female friendships so I’ve bumped it up by a star.

Younger readers may not appreciate the revolutionary nature of the older women’s dirty book club—both the claiming of their sexuality and the realization that societal expectations didn’t need to define their lives. In a world where women are told that a marriage is a greater achievement than a good career and where there is still a double standard for men & women’s sex lives, we may still require a bit more liberation.

I had great sympathy for M.J. who lost her entire family to a car crash. My parents were killed in a similar way and I remember finding refuge from my feelings at work. I was able to go in, put my head down, and not think about my personal life for 7-8 hours, a big relief. I also remember that other people were ready for me to be “back to normal” far sooner than I was. In fact, I had to build a new normal—you can’t go back to the old normal, those people are gone. So I identified with her submersion in her work and with her heel-dragging with regards to change.

This book illustrates one of my guiding principles—men come & go from my life, but my female friends are my bedrock. We don’t have to agree on everything, we can argue & fight without wrecking the relationship, but when the chips are down we can count on one another. We can talk out our problems and be sounding boards for each other. I can live without a man in my life, but I can’t live without my circle of women friends.

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