All posts filed under: Kathryn H.

Discovering the Truth About Evelyn Hugo

I did very little “research” of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo before I read it. Basically just the jacket description (side note: I keep wanting to call her Eleanor Hugo and I’m not sure why…), and therefore I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from this one.  So, I thought I’d walk you through my thoughts as I read the book (spoilers abound!): “Oh, this’ll be a good beach read… maybe a little like Devil Wears Prada” (i.e., girl trying to make it in journalism gets job of a lifetime, but has to make sacrifices, etc.) “Well, Evelyn is no Miranda Priestly.” (i.e., I found Evelyn to have more redeeming qualities than Miranda out the gate) “What does Evelyn want with Monique? What am I missing?” (and it was at this point that I started to do something I don’t usually do – I scoured every word I read for clues as to what the twist/kicker would be in this book) “OH! Well. This is a beach read with a message. Love is love. Love it!” “OK. …

Unburying the Osage

It is wild to me that I had never heard even a peep about the Osage murders until I picked Killers of the Flower Moon. And I guess, in some ways, that’s the point of the book. An entire group of people targeted and being systematically murdered for money and it’s been completely washed out of our history for everyone but those personally touched by it. The story told in this book is almost so wild that it’s unbelievable, and the craziest part is that what has been told is probably not even the half of it! I feel gross using the word “fascinating” to describe it, but… It’s truly fascinating that 1) all of this actually happened, 2) basically everyone got away with it, and 3) there are probably hundreds more victims that we will never even know about. Aside from the story itself, I also really enjoyed how Grann laid it out, unfolding it bit by bit, seemingly allowing us to discover the webs and cover-ups the same way he did. I won’t lie …

A Heavy Kind of Funny

When I read and review a book that I love, one of the most common compliments I give is “I read this in one sitting” or something similar. Born a Crime was quite the opposite. It’s a book that I love that took me forrrevvvverrrrr (in my world) to read. My husband actually commented about how few pages I was able to read in one sitting each night. So why did it take me so long? I think that, for a humorous book, it was heavy and it felt too dense to read quickly. I wanted to take it one chapter at a time and really sit with what I’d read. Obviously, apartheid and racism are not new to me, but South African history is certainly not my area of expertise and a lot of the details were new. I just needed time. {Spoiler alert: this paragraph has them!} Noah’s story is simply incredible. That one person lived all of those stories is almost mind-boggling. And even more so when you think about the fact that there …

A Promise

Talk about timely. This is maybe the most relevant piece of fiction I have read. And it raised so many questions and thoughts and ideas for me. But the two words that kept coming to the surface were: Required Reading. I like to consider myself an ally. I’m not black, I can’t really begin to understand what it’s like to be black in this country at this time. But I can try and I can be supportive and I can listen and I can walk alongside and I can protest and call for change and do my best to make change happen. All of that and… this book still made me say, “whoa.” It brought up so much that I hadn’t thought of, so many little things that happen every day that I don’t have to think about because of the color of my skin. “It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may not have done. I didn’t know a dead person could …

Everything and Nothing

Though I bought Commonwealth in mid-May, I didn’t start reading it until a few days ago. Mostly because I wasn’t sure I would like it. I had read a few reviews and talked to a few people who said variations of, “it took me a long time to get into it,” or “I couldn’t relate and didn’t connect with any of the characters.” I was dreading reading a book that I wouldn’t enjoy. Fast forward to November 26 when I decided to start it, with every intention of not finishing and writing a review that said exactly that. But lo and behold – I was hooked from the outset. I read the first quarter in one night, the next third the following night, and finished the rest over the next two days. Don’t get me wrong, it was not without its faults. The narrative device somehow made it feel like nothing was happening when in fact so much had happened that it was hard to believe. As I described it when discussing with the other Bookly Clubbers …

A Perfect October Read

There’s something about fall that makes you want to read a book that gives you a bit of a chill, isn’t there? A good thriller or crime drama, something with a bit of suspense. Of course, that’s why our October theme is what it is, and why we chose The Night Bird. I absolutely FLEW through this book – finished it almost as soon as we announced it as our October read. It was engaging, entertaining, and I was completely engrossed in the story. I know others have mentioned that the character development was perhaps a bit lacking, but I didn’t need it in this case (unusual, because that is usually the number one thing that makes or breaks a book for me). I enjoyed the story, and I enjoyed the way it unfolded. I loved that it kept me guessing, and that all these little clues sprinkled throughout the book gave you a chance to make some educated guesses. On that note, I have something that is maybe a bit embarrassing to admit: I didn’t guess …

The Perfect Diary

I read Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian in three sittings and probably three hours. It is a FAST read. Fast enough that when I reached the end I thought I couldn’t possibly be finished. Not that the ending wasn’t satisfying, because it was. But there was something that felt incomplete to me. I liked how it ended, but I wanted more. In fact, I felt that way about the book overall. I wanted a little something more than what I got. I frequently felt like I was missing something. Sometimes it was details that seemed to be eluding me. Sometimes it felt like I was making huge leaps in time without anything in between. At the end of the book I was pleased, but also felt like so many areas were left open. All the plot points weren’t tied up in a neat little bow. And then…. And then I thought about the title again. The Absolutely True DIARY of a Part-Time Indian. And then I thought about who was writing this diary …

Real and Raw

Brit Bennett can certainly craft a story. I was sucked in to Oceanside almost immediately and then spent the next few days reading while tears pricked the back of my eyes. It wasn’t that the book was sad, per se, though elements of it were heartbreaking for sure. It was more that each person’s story felt so real and so raw. I felt for Nadia, Aubrey, Robert, and Luke… even when they were making decisions that were frustrating or awful. I think the narrative voice Bennett used had a great deal to do with it. As a reader, I knew enough about the characters to understand their motivation, even when their literary counterparts couldn’t. {SPOILER ALERT} Even during Nadia and Luke’s affair, an act I generally have absolutely no sympathy for, I could see how it happened. While I wasn’t rooting for them, I wasn’t as angry with them either. I also thought that having an abortion be the driving force of the story was an interesting choice. Mostly because as much as the book …

Great Writing, Important Message

Let me begin by saying that I am not yet finished with Between the World and Me. I think the lack of chapters is throwing me and making me take longer that I normally would. Couple that with the fact that I want to unpack, analyze, and process every single sentence, and here I am – still reading. So perhaps my review is not worth as much as another’s, I don’t know. If you don’t trust what I’m saying here, read Katherine C.’s review 🙂 Ta-Nehisi Coates is clearly a skilled writer and is able to craft a narrative that is at once poetic, emotional, and eye-opening. Things I believed merely a week earlier, ideas I had taken from one book, could be smashed to splinters by another. But it’s the message of the book that makes this book important. The writing is gorgeous, yes, but what it says is jaw-droopingly, heartbreakingly, painfully honest and agonizingly real. And this is not reducible to just you – the women around you must be responsible for their bodies …

Salt to the Sea: Devoured

I love World War II fiction. Quite frankly, I enjoy reading about World War II regardless of whether it is fact or fiction. The fact of the matter is, even novels and other works of fiction about World War II contain so many elements of truth that it feels incredibly real. Of course, I sometimes find it difficult to admit that I enjoy this type of literature, because what does that say about me? That I like reading about such an atrocious time in our world’s history. But if we never read about it, we don’t think about it. And if we don’t think about it, we are doing a disservice to everyone who was affected by it. Now that you know that little fact about me. I’ll get right to it. I loved Salt to the Sea. I knew nothing of the Wilhelm Gustloff before reading this book except that it was a German ship that sunk toward the end of the war. So this book served as something of an education for me, …