**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, and I didn't expect to like it much. Color me surprised.
I am not a fan of Cozy mysteries. They seem too...more**spoiler alert** I really enjoyed this book, and I didn't expect to like it much. Color me surprised.
I am not a fan of Cozy mysteries. They seem too perfect too plastic. They lack the sense that they are about lives that have been intersected by violence/mystery, rather they seem carefully constructed lives just for the mystery.
Anyway the supporting characters here won me over, as did the way the main character's difficult relationship with her sister was handled. The POV seemed to grow and yet it wasn't made perfect by the end of the book.
The book is set in fictional Stoneham, NH which has become a Booktown, with many small stores coming in to revive the dying town. It is based on nearby Milford, NH. I ended up reading it for a RL book group.
The story of this book is the owner of the Cookbook store is murdered, and the POV, the owner of the Mystery bookstore is the main suspect. She has to investigate to prove her innocence, since the local sheriff has already decided she is guilty.
I was eventually sucked into the story, despite the early plastic-ness. There was also a genuine warmth for the characters and their lives that I really liked. The story had an awkward moment when there was shift from one suspect to another. But it was minor. The ending was quite exciting. I will read the next one. (less)
**spoiler alert** Short sad book, about the last shift in a Red Lobster restaurant that is being closed due to poor sales. It is located in a dying ma...more**spoiler alert** Short sad book, about the last shift in a Red Lobster restaurant that is being closed due to poor sales. It is located in a dying mall in a working class neighborhood in Connecticut. As a snow storm rages, the few workers who show up are trying to deal with their loss, their shared memories, and antipathies.
Some are angry with each other, the manager, who is as ineffectual as they are in terms of making a better life. Some are apathetic, and just drift along towards whatever life has in store for them.
They are nothing more than disposable dixie cups to the corporation that employs them. Because they are living paycheck to paycheck they don't have the time or resources to focus their lives other than on their jobs. Their relationships with their each other are fraught with slights, jealousies; they armor themselves against too much honest human contact.
Set against this is the story of the manger and one of the waitresses who are dealing with the ashes of an illicit romance that has failed. Both parties have spouses, and the manger has a new baby. They also have to guard against the impression of favoritism with the staff.
The book follows the last day, the ups and downs. It shows the few customers and the day to day operation with a twist. There will be no tomorrow for the staff and the customers. Eventually the restaurant closes and they drift off into the storm. Along the way some are revealed to be loyal, some are revealed to be dishonest, and one to be violently vindictive.
The writing was good, the setting and characters were done well. The only issue is there seems to be no point or gaol of the characters in the story. Perhaps that is the choice of the author to show that life just drifts on, and contacts are lost and people are lost. It still leaves an unsatisfying feeling(less)
**spoiler alert** It was an OK read, but nothing special. I didn't find it humorous, I don't think it really did much in terms of social or culture wa...more**spoiler alert** It was an OK read, but nothing special. I didn't find it humorous, I don't think it really did much in terms of social or culture wars. It seemed to be more about the end of a marriage, when it becomes just a tired ritual, rather than anything with value or feeling.
I was interested in the lives of the characters, but didn't actually care about them. They were closed, and self-absorbed, and nasty to each other.
The children of mixed race and culture and seemed to personify the 3 standard options, rather than actual people: 1. The urge to be very 'Street' to validate your blackness (Levi); 2. The urge to be very smart and better than anyone else to prove your blackness isn't a handicap (Zora); 3. The inability to decide what to do or who you are so your are drifting, dreamy, and reaching for something outside yourself to belong to- Christianity (Jerome).
I thought Howard was a typical burnt-out bitter academic, who has no actual theory or discovery of his own, so he dedicated himself to trashing others. He uses his anger, disappointment and hatred as a weapon to not only denigrate the works of others, but to prove his own superiority. As though anyone with a different opinion and an ounce of feeling is somehow lacking in brains and the ability to think rationally.
Kiki is the standard black earth-mother, queen, home-goddess. Ho hum, such cliches.
I thought the ending was a fizzle in terms of story, even if Howard has an epiphany.
I thought the writing was awkward and stiff, and the attempt to create American characters and dialog, didn't quite make it. Also the depiction of the inner life of an American college was not what I would consider accurate. Especially a New England college.
Still it was interesting, but I am glad its over, and have no real interest in anything else by Smith.(less)