Mini Reviews #1

I adored Karen Abbott’s previous book, Sin in the Second City, so I actually got my hands on this one as soon as it was published.  As is typical for me, the book then sat on my shelves for awhile before I finally got around to it. 

American Rose is the story of famous/infamous performer Gypsy Lee Rose.  Gypsy was a vaudevillian performer as a child and later on became a burlesque dancer around the time of the Great Depression.  She was basically a stipper.  Which nowadays is no big thing, but in that time period it was shocking. And for a stripper, Gypsy was actually quite tame.  You still had a little mystery remaining once her act was finished. 

I had never heard of Gypsy before but apparently she is still well known.  I had more than one person approach me as I was reading this and upon hearing who the book was about, they would respond with recognition.  Given her reputations, as well as the life she lived, I expected to fly through American Rose.  I can’t pinpoint the exact problem, but I just felt bored for most of the book.  It seemed a little too dry and Gypsy’s life didn’t enthrall me the way I expected.  The disconect was too great for me to overcome and I was left feeling lackluster about the book once I finished it.

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Domestic Violets is one of those books that it seemed like every blogger was raving about. Initially I was going to skip it only because there were so many other books I needed or wanted to read first, but I am a sucker for a lot of good hype, so I ended up requesting this one from Netgalley. 

Tom Violet is just kind of stuck.  He and his wife have been trying to conceive but it’s been taking longer than they had hoped and sex, not to mention their relationship in general, has become mechanic.  Tom’s got a soulcrushing job as a copywriter but he really wants to be a novelist.  His father is renowned author and Pulitzer prize winner Curtis Violet, and Tom is stuck in his shadow with no one taking him seriously.

The satirical tone of Domestic Violets is what really sets it apart from most novels.  I laughed out loud throughout the whole book.  When done well, I am such a fan of satire and this one was along the same vein of And Then We Came to the End, by Joshua Ferris. I would not hesitate to recommend this one and I will be keeping an eye out for any future books from Matthew Norman.

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Are you all sick of books about the Holocaust, because I sure am!  All you have to do to guarantee I will stay far away from a book is to tell me that it is about the Holocaust.  I didn’t use to be that way, but one can only take so much. Anyway, you can see now why I stayed away from Sarah’s Key so long. I could only hold out for so long, because once the movie was released, my book club was chomping at the bit to read this one.  I was forced into it I tell you.

Sarah’s Key is about a young girl, Sarah, who is arrested with her parents in Paris during a roundup of Jews during WWII. They are shuttled to a local venue where they are held in squalor for awhile before being separated and deported to concentration camps.

There is so much I could say about the plot of this book, but I would hate to spoil it for anyone who may not have read it yet.  What I described above is the absolute barest of blurbs I can come up with and trust me, I am dying to say more! The movie is just as moving and I can’t decide which rendition is more heart wrenching.  I shudder to think about Sarah returning to her former apartment, and what she finds there. 

Please please please, if you haven’t read Sarah’s Key yet, you are missing out and you need to run out and get a copy ASAP. It is absolutely worth all the hype.  Oh, and once you read it, watch the movie!

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11 Responses

  1. I have wanted to read Sarah’s Key since it came out! It’s one of those I just, unfortunately, have never yet gotten to!

  2. I absolutely loved Domestic Violets, and thought that it was one of the most fun reads I have had in a long time. I am glad to hear that you felt the same about it. Sarah’s Key was pretty good for me too. Very awesome mini-reviews today!

  3. I was the same way about Domestic Violets but I caved and was glad I did as it was quite a fun read. I still have to post my review. It is written but I still haven’t gotten around to posting it. ACK!

  4. If you liked Domestic Violets, you should try This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. Pee you pants funny, I swear. My book club also read Sarah’s Key…and I liked the part about Sarah, not so much about Julia. However in the movie, I loved it all. My hubby thought it was a little sappy, but I wept like a freaking baby.

  5. I enjoyed the historical story in Sarah’s Key much more than the modern day portion, but liked the book overall. I see Netflix has just added Sarah’s Key to their Instant movies, so hope to watch it in the next few days.

  6. Domestic Violets is on my wish list and I really enjoyed Sarah’s Key.

  7. I thought Domestic Violets was wonderful – funny, poignant, smart. I’m happy to read you enjoyed it, too. Jonathan Tropper wrote a book, This is Where I Leave You similar to Domestic Violets in terms of the witty comments and comedic bits and the male protaganist. In Tropper’s book the family of the msin chracter is Jewish and there are some funny comments about Jewish people and culture but it helps if you know the Jewish lifestyle.

    I haven’t read Sarah’s Key but I want to, I have read good things about and you obviously enjoyed it very much so I best get to this book!

    I’m sorry the book about Gypsy Lee Rose bored you. It’s so disappointing when this happens. I don’t have any interest in this book but I laughed when I saw it in your post because in my 8th grade play, my sister played Gypsy Lee Rose and had to do a song and dance number. It was hilarious!

    Great mini-reviews Stephanie!

  8. I really need to read my long neglected copy of Sin in the Second City!

  9. Really? everyone I know who loved the book Sarah’s Key, HATED the movie! but it’s cool that you liked it. 🙂 I liked the ‘past’ portion of Sarah’s Key but not the modern one.

    I’m moving Domestic Violets up the list.

  10. I also read Divergent last month and while I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it. Glad to hear that you had better success with it!

  11. I kept going back and forth on American Rose and ultimately decided against it. Too bad it bored you…it sounded interesting.

    I’ve had Domestic Violets forever. I really need to get to it, because everyone I know loved it.

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