Author: Katherine C.

Rebecca meets Salem

We first meet 18-year-old narrator Mary Katherine Blackwood during one of her biweekly walks through the local town that sits under the shadow of her family’s Manderley-esque estate where she, her older sister Constance, and frail Uncle Julian live. They are the only three living in the “castle.” Once members of a large family, they’re all that’s left after the others were murdered with arsenic during dinner. The sugar on the blackberries wasn’t sugar. Luckily Constance never takes sugar, and Mary Katherine (aka Merricat) was sent to her room without dinner. Uncle Julian only took a bit. The sisters are odd to say the least. Sure, Constance was the lead suspect for having poisoned the family, but their dynamics are also quite unusual; and a little bit haunting. They live a life of routine and simplicity. Gardening, taking delicious meals together (always crafted by suspected murderess Constance), sending Merricat into town for food and library books, and taking diligent care of poor Uncle Julian. Uncle Julian is weak and without much memory. Although he spends …

Time Will Tell

My eight-grade English teacher recommended The Bell Jar to me. She thought I could challenge myself to take on extra reading. She allowed me pick whatever I wanted from the class library. And although I remembered little to nothing of the story, I remember liking it. It was the first book I’d read in school that clicked in a different way. Not that I had too much in common with Esther, but reading a book about a young woman, written by a young woman, made an impression. Outside of The Bell Jar school reading was all Mark Twain, JRR Tolkien, C.S. Lewis. But Sylvia Plath was different. That English class added a lot to my love of reading. And in my adult life I’d always wanted to revisit The Bell Jar. Rereading it felt like recalling a vague memory, but through an entirely new lens. I’m 20 years older, I have two young daughters, I see a therapist, I’ve been married for 9 years, I’ve finished my education…  everything theme in this book was brighter this …

Riggins Meets Summer

Our August selection, The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker, seems a hit or miss for most readers. Either they love it, or Calla’s rampant millennial-ing  is too much to overcome. Personally, I was in the love it category! Don’t get me wrong, for the first 150 pages or so I severely disliked Calla. She starts off as an entitled, twenty-six year old city girl with little appreciation for any lifestyle outside of her own. She’s not an unkind person, just highly unlikeable. But after a point, and one specific scene at her father’s charter company, she starts to shed the self-absorbed persona and open up to the new world around her. After that, I was hooked! The story begins when Calla hears of her estranged father’s cancer diagnosis (from her stepfather of all people, who I think is sneakily one of my favorite characters). After twenty-four years away she flies to the wilds of Alaska for a visit. She’s flown in by Jonah; a pilot with her father’s charter company, “Wild.” Jonah is a risk-taker, sarcastic, and …

Birthday Book Exchange

  I’m not usually one to celebrate my birthday, at least not in a big way. I didn’t grow up with involved kid parties, and it makes me pretty uncomfortable being the center of attention. But this year was a little different. Thirty-five is a big milestone for me. As my husband so kindly pointed out, I’m halfway to seventy. But also, my girls start school in a few weeks, which means it’s the end of my four-year tenure as a full-time stay-at-home parent. It’s been good, bad, and ugly. It’s been perfect. But this birthday felt like a good time to celebrate the start of a new chapter! My husband and sister-in-law put together the best book-lover’s birthday cocktail party. Some champagne, Spaghetts, a few Trader Joe’s favorites, and Fitzy’s signature cheese board. What else could a girl need?? If you guessed books you’re in the right place. They had the idea to include a book exchange with the cocktails and appetizers, and it was perfect!   how it worked. The rules were simple… …

Hope in a Critical World

First let me say, if you haven’t read anything by Rebecca Solnit yet please put her on your list! Even if it’s just googling one of her articles or essays. I feel a bit redundant saying this, because I feel like I’m always prosthelytizing her work. But I mean it! Our July book Call Them by Their True Names is the third book of hers I’ve read (in addition to Men Explain Things to Me and The Mother of All Questions which I loved). Call Them by Their True Names is her most recent published collection of essays. The subtitle being American Crises (and Essays), is exactly what she delivers. From immigration, to mass incarceration and wrongful imprisonment, gentrification, voter suppression, freedom of the press, misogyny, racism, climate change, healthcare, gun violence, the oppression of native peoples, Donald Trump… she covers it all! And I’m here for it. “We are all rowing past on another, and it behooves us to know how the tides move and who’s being floated along and who’s being dragged down and who …

Teenage Nostalgia

I knew fairly little about this book before starting. I was surprised to find how much of it I related to. It’s the story of Jessie. She and her father move from Chicago to Southern California just as she’s starting her junior year of high school. Not too long before this move, they’ve lost her mother to cancer, and now her father’s moving them across the country to live with his new wife, and her son. Their new home is grand and pristine. She feels unwelcome among the richness, and dramatically out of place at her new private school where money rules. The only welcome she receives comes via email from “Somebody Nobody;” an anonymous classmate of Jessie’s who volunteers his knowledge of all things Wood Valley High School. Granted I didn’t move to Southern California after such a loss as Jessie experienced, but I did move from Chicago to Southern California as I started my junior year of high school. And formerly a student of public schools, I started at a private school in …

A Balance of Grit and Comedy

I hadn’t heard of Michael Arceneaux’s I Can’t Date Jesus until taking a poll on Instagram for reading suggestions. We asked our followers for suggestions on what to read in 2019, and this came through as an April recommendation. I think mostly because of the title, all of us Bookly Katherines were immediately intrigued. I mean, titles don’t get much better than I Can’t Date Jesus: Love, Sex, Family, Race, and Other Reasons I’ve Put My Faith in Beyoncé. I also hadn’t heard of Arceneaux until reading this, his debut essay collection. But this is one of my favorite experiences, uncovering a new (to me) author and their work. His essays cover a range of raw experiences from flawed family dynamics, growing up in Texas, living in an oppressive culture as a gay black man, dating, to faith and Christianity, etc. I found all 15 essays raw, humorous, self-aware, and immersive. His vulnerability enriched each story. And as a privileged, hetero white female who grew up mostly overseas my life experiences have little in common with …

Injustice Laid Bare

Since reading The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin nearly 15 years ago, I’d been looking forward to reading more of his writing. In the past, life and other books had gotten in the way, but with If Beale Street Could Talk as Bookly’s March selection I finally revisited Baldwin. James Baldwin was an author, activist, and queer black man at his creative peak in 1960’s / 1970’s America. His words have a power that’s lasted generations. He wrote works of fiction and nonfiction that channeled the voices of the oppressed. And in his novel If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) he tells the all too familiar story of a young black man in America. Fonny is living his life among family and first love, pursuing his creative passions in New York City. And yet all that, and much more, is stolen away. Framed for a rape he didn’t commit, Fonny is imprisoned with little hope of freedom. Even after discovering that Tish, the woman he loves, is carrying his child, we bear witness to the desperate and near hopeless decay …

Steam Fest

In true Drew and Alexa form, I’ll get right to it… this one kinda fell flat for me. I think that’s an unpopular opinion, so if you disagree with me you’re probably in the majority. I had high hopes because I know a lot of others really liked The Wedding Date. But maybe my hopes were too high? Romance or love stories aren’t usually my first pick, but Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren and One Day in December by Josie Silver are two I really liked. And I’d heard Guillory’s debut would be similar. But before reading it I read a review that basically hit the nail on the head: “The book is also unexpectedly raunchy, since Alexa and Drew’s connection starts as a purely physical one and they only later develop deeper feelings. The characters never find a situation that doesn’t turn them on at least a little bit” (Kirkus Review) I’m fine with some steam and a good love story, but for me things were a bit unbalanced. I liked the …

A Classic Power-house of Women’s History

Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis has been on my list for a few years. I’d heard the name Angela Davis before, but it wasn’t until Ava DuVernay’s Netflix documentary 13th that I gained better context as to the living legend that she truly is. As someone who believes in the pursuit of equal rights and social justice, and that we’ve been failing at both for a long time, I also know that my part in that includes continuing my education. As a privileged white female my pursuit of equality and justice comes much more easily than it does to most. But as it’s said, “until we are all free, we are none of us free” (Emma Lazarus). To achieve these goals reading a book won’t do the job. But book after book, and year after year, if we can strive to know more and do more with what we know maybe we’ll get a little bit closer in this lifetime. Don’t you think? Angela Davis has been a memorable part of my continuing education, and …