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BBC: ‘The Dinner’.

I certainly have much more on my mind than my latest read, but for now, I’m sticking to my journal until I’m ready to talk about the bigger things swirling around. Besides, I’m trying to post my book reviews ASAP and keep up with my reading list this year!

So, let’s get to it! The latest read from Blanche’s Book Club is “The Dinner” by Herman Koch. The Amazon description of the book was very garbled, so I found one from NPR:

Food doesn’t matter much in novels. Years will pass in a person’s life without a single description of a snack. Not a moment between adverbs for a taco. No wonder so many characters in contemporary fiction are glum: They’re not hopeless; they’re hungry.

In his new book, The Dinner, Dutch author Herman Koch structures his entire plot around a five-course meal, going from aperitif to digestif. The novel was originally published in the Netherlands in 2009 and went on to become an international best-seller. It’s the story of two couples meeting for dinner in a sophisticated Amsterdam restaurant, the type of place where every item on the menu practically comes with a birth certificate, and in very small portions. As Koch writes, “The first thing that struck you about Claire’s plate was the vast emptiness. Of course I’m well aware that, in the better restaurants, quality takes precedence over quantity, but you have voids and then you have voids. The void here, that part of the plate on which no food at all was present, had clearly been raised to a matter of principle.”

But all the eating is cover for nasty events. The four people at the table, two brothers and their wives, have come together for an uncomfortable conversation. One of the brothers is a famous politician. The other is a retired teacher. They don’t get along, but their sons do, and it turns out the boys have done something awful. Something so upsetting it has shocked the entire nation after footage of their crime turned up on the nightly news. However, the video did not show the boys’ faces, leaving them anonymous for the moment, and now their parents must decide what to do next.

The food-as-a-cover was an interesting and unique approach, however, I felt the book didn’t get to the point (the talk of the boys and their possible involvement in a crime) until the main course, which was more than halfway through the book!

While it was certainly interesting, I was feeling very impatient while reading this book – and I wanted more details upfront. For the first time, in at least awhile, I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone. If you’ve read it, and liked it, I’d love to hear your thoughts! I’d been waiting on this book to come up on my reserve list for awhile, so I’m disappointed that I didn’t enjoy it more.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club is reading is, “Most Talkative” by Andy Cohen.

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BBC: ‘Are You Sleeping?’

Greetings! It’s so cold in Austin right now – I’m writing this from the comfort of my couch after eating a hot bowl of homemade tomato soup with a grilled cheese (both vegan)! I’m also watching reruns of “The Hills”, and all I can really say is, thank YOU, MTV.

But anyway, I’ve got a ton on my mind, but I’ve also got a giant to-do list and lots of things ahead. I’ll just have to report back later. For now, let’s talk about the latest read from Blanche’s Book Club, “Are You Sleeping?” by Kathleen Barber. Here’s the official description from Amazon:

Serial meets Ruth Ware’s In A Dark, Dark Wood in this inventive and twisty psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a murder case—and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim’s daughter.

The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay.

The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

I saw this title on a book list (probably from Pinterest) and as a fan of “Serial” (Okay, more like obsessed), I knew I had to read it. And there’s definitely a taste of “Serial” in this book – it was almost too close for comfort, but the plot kept me interested, and toward the end, it was very suspenseful.

I don’t usually do this, but I took a look at the reviews on Amazon, and just at a glance, it seems people really loved this book and thought Barber creatively ripped a story from the headlines. I’d have to agree – she started with something from pop culture – “Serial” – and added a twist to it, along with a personal side.

I should also add that I’m a pretty big scaredy cat, and this one didn’t bother me at all, so don’t be deterred if you don’t like scary stories. I’m recommending this book to all the fans from “Serial”, along with crime fiction fans.

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will read is “The Dinner” by Herman Koch. I’ve had this one on my list forever!

BBC: ‘Career of Evil’.

Greetings from Harlingen, Texas! I flew in last night and am heading back to Austin in a few hours. I’m writing this from the airport, which smells like a giant toilet, so there’s that (no offense, Rio Grande Valley).

I have MUCH to discuss about Blanche’s Book Club’s latest read: “Career of Evil” by Robert Galbraith. So, let’s not waste any time!

“Career of Evil” is the third book in the Cormoran Strike series and it’s also the final one that’s published. Because of this, I’ve had it sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year, waiting for the perfect time to read it, because I just didn’t want to accept that this series would be over.

But, as I was reading chapter three, I got distracted and did some Googling. Turns out, J.K. Rowling (“Galbraith” is her pen name for this series) had recently announced the title for the fourth book! Although there is no publishing date, fans anticipate it will be soon. She also said she had ideas for 6 MORE books!

This news made it much easier for me to fly right through this book. I absolutely love these! My favorite thing about them is how visual the writing is – I feel like I’m put right in with the characters and can almost hear their voices.

If that doesn’t sound psychotic enough for you, I even bought myself some cranberry-orange scones and made tea while I read. There’s nothing quite like pretending you’re in London attempting to solve the case with a private detective and his secretary! Before I get in too deep, here’s the official description of the book, from Amazon:

Career of Evil is the third in the highly acclaimed series featuring private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott.
When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on one of the suspects, Strike and Robin delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

I won’t give anything away, but I will say that this one definitely had a more personal twist to it, which I enjoyed. Here we are, in book three, and I am still wondering if anything will ever happen between Robin and Strike (whom I imagine to look like Gerard Butler)?! I was more emotionally invested in this book, and it made me that much more thankful that we’ve got a fourth one on the way.

At least a year ago, BBC announced there would be a TV series based on these books but then I never heard much about it. Upon further investigation, it looks like we’ll be able to watch the series (which is based on all three books) this summer on Showtime – YES!

The next book Blanche’s Book Club will be reading is “The Vanderbeekers of 41st Street” by Karina Yan Glaser. I’m actually about to go read some of it now…

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!