Mid-April Mini Reviews

Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom (from publisher for review)
Single Line Synopsis: In order to help her mother’s sister carry her baby to term, Emmy must travel to her mother’s hometown and comply with the healing rituals of her aunt’s strict religious beliefs. 
Thoughts: The novel starts with a great, slow pace that gradually reveals small bits of information about each of its characters and weaves in unique themes. Unfortunately, as the plot reaches its climax in the last 75 pages or so, the beautiful writing that filled the beginning of the book turns overdramatic and loses its soft touch.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed (TBR Pile Challenge)
Single Line Synopsis: After the death of her mother, Cheryl sets out to hike the Pacific Crest Trail with no experience but tons of supplies.
Thoughts: Have I mentioned that I loved Tiny Beautiful Things? Like, love loved? So much so that I’ve been afraid to read this because I didn’t want my opinion on Strayed to change. Crisis averted. Still, I think I’m one of few who would have preferred more meditations on her emotions throughout her journey in place of narration of the hiking itself…but then I’d be reading Tiny Beautiful Things and I do that once every few months anyway. 

Chop Chop by Simon Wroe (from publisher for review)
Single Line Synopsis: “Monocle”, a name earned for his background in English literature, struggles to find his way as he learns the ropes of working in the kitchen of a well-known restaurant. 
Thoughts:Simon Wroe writes in a funny, cheeky stream of consciousness that helps keep the pages turning. However, at least once or twice in each chapter, I found myself thinking about how much more I would be enjoying the novel if I had experience working in a kitchen. If you’ve been there, I would definitely check this out. 

Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose (from publisher for review)
Single Line Synopsis: Exploring the intersection of the lives of a cross-dressing lesbian athlete, a photographer, a socialite and a writer following World War I and, eventually, the years leading into the horrors of the Second World War.
Thoughts: What a strange reading experience. I went from being unsure about the structure of the alternating perspectives, to excitement as they all started to come together, and frustratingly bored through the rest of the novel. The premise is amazing but, unfortunately, it’s forgotten as a majority of the book is spent developing characters who still feel like they are at arm’s length by the end. 

 

  • Megan @ The Whynott Blog

    You are not alone! I also wished for more emotional content from Wild. The rest have great covers, too bad they don’t sound like they lived up to them.

  • I wrote my review of Chameleon Club last night, and I feel like you are more generous than me. Better go back and read what I said.

    • No, don’t change anything! I want to read it. I didn’t go into much detail, so maybe it just seems that way.

  • I’m glad you loved Wild! (I think I might prefer TIny Beautiful Things a teensy bit more, but Strayed is just so fantastic.)

    • I’m glad I finally read it, it was definitely very Strayed :) And I’m happy to be handing it out to people for WBN (like you, I think!)

  • Vasilly

    All I can say is “wow” about your thoughts on the new Prose book. You and Tanya make me think I should pass this one and Steal the North up.

    • Maybe it was just us? It has good reviews on GR, so I wouldn’t rule it out yet. With that being said, if you start it and don’t get pulled in right away, I wouldn’t hang on.

  • readersrespite

    Ack, I’m with you on Chameleon Club. Frustration.

  • I had such high hopes for Steal the North. I’m in Netgalley limbo for that one and have been for quite a while. I now sort of hope they decline mean, although I’m always vaguely embarrassed when I get shot down.

    • me not mean, although maybe I was subliminally thinking publishers are mean when they do that?

    • It was extra frustrating because I was enjoying it so much until the end! I don’t know how it took such an overdramatic turn (or if anyone else saw it that way), but it just didn’t work for me.

  • I read Wild last year and agreed with you. Good book with potential for more. I was hoping for more reflection on her part and hoped the book would be about her internal journey more than the actual hike. However I am still glad I read it and will now want to pick up Tiny Beautiful Things. Thanks.

  • That’s too bad about Chameleon Club! I’ve been kind of waiting to see what you and others thought about it before deciding if I want to add it to the stack, but it seems like I’m seeing more “meh” reviews (at best) than anything else.

  • I really tried to love Lovers at the Chameleon Club, but I was frustrated by how many narrators were in the book and the story was just so-so. I mostly enjoyed reading about Lou Villars and didn’t care very much for the other characters.

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