Carolina VonKampen

Editor. Reader. Writer.

Tag: fiction (page 2 of 2)

To Read or Not to Read: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

I admit, I’m already a bit biased toward reading Robin Sloan’s second novel, Sourdough. I enjoyed Sloan’s debut novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, and I heard Sloan speak on an author panel at BookFest St. Louis. Naturally, he talked about this new novel, specifically about how food is such an interesting topic to write about and how he wrote his characters. I couldn’t resist picking this book up on a Barnes and Noble visit and to take a peek at the first few pages to decide: To read or not to read? Continue reading

Reflections on the Personal Significance of 3 Ishiguro Novels

Japanese novelist Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature yesterday; although I am delighted he won such a prestigious award, his importance to me is of a more personal nature. You see, three of his novels played an integral role in the first year of my relationship with my husband, Sean. Readers are funny in this way. Despite the fact that I could study Ishiguro’s novels using my English major skills and write about his skill and genius as a storyteller, I find myself reflecting on the emotional significance of three of his novels upon my life. Continue reading

These Are a Few of My Favorite Banned Books

It’s Banned Books Week! Each year, we English majors and readers get excited to celebrate books—especially those that have been banned or challenged at some point. The goal is to talk about the importance of letting people read books, even if they’re full of “dangerous” ideas and content.

With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite banned books, why they were banned, and why I like them. Continue reading

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie is a young adult novel about an Indian boy, Junior, who decides to go to a white school off the Spokane reservation to get a good education. He is attacked by his own community for his choice and rejected at Reardan, the white school off the reservation. The book, told in a diary structure, tells of his struggles to fit in and find his identity. Continue reading

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka

Girl in Snow is Danya Kukafka debut novel exploring how a small town in Colorado reacts after the most popular girl in school, Lucinda Hayes, is murdered. Three characters share the spotlight as narrators: Cameron, Lucinda’s stalker; Jade, a unpopular girl whom Lucinda was indifferent to; and Russ, a police officer who is in love with Cameron’s dad. As they tell their stories, we learn about their relationships with Lucinda and their grief, longing, love, and obsession. Continue reading

Why I’m Not Writing a Review of Shari Lapena’s A Stranger in the House

I feel like I need to 1) read more, a LOT more, and 2) write intelligent book reviews of every book I read. After all, I want to succeed in book publishing, right? And this is how you do it?

I’ve fallen victim to some weird mix of internal pressure (you need to write book reviews to advance your career) and the fear of missing out (everyone on #bookstagram writes several reviews each month) that led me to this mindset. I have to churn out book reviews, especially if I am so lucky to get my hands on an ARC or a newly released book. When I received an ARC of Shari Lapena’s latest thriller, A Stranger in the House, I felt that urge to read it just so I could write a review of it. I don’t usually read thrillers, but here it was, a golden opportunity to read a new book and showcase my book reviewing skills to the world. Continue reading

The Girls by Emma Cline

Spoiler alert: This review has all the spoilers for The Girls. Although, I’m not sure how you don’t know what this book is about by now (it was ALL over bookstagram last summer) and how you haven’t come to the conclusion that it ends with a murder.

Emma Cline’s debut novel The Girls made a splash in the summer of 2016. Readers loved the story of Evie, a girl who flirts with joining a cult as she grows away from her mother and her former best friend and becomes entranced by a girl—Suzanne. The novel ends with gruesome murders, which leaves Evie questioning what she was and is capable of.

It was really hard for me to get into this novel for two reasons: The jumps between the past and the present were confusing at the beginning of the novel, and Cline’s word choices jarred me. Continue reading

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