Author: Katherine C.

Great Mysterious Confusion

I’m always game for a good thriller or scary story. I think it goes back to why I first started loving to read. I remember watching my cousin devour R.L. Stine’s Fear Street series and telling me how scary it was. I was sure books couldn’t be scary. How could words on paper come close to a scary movie or haunted house? I wasn’t quite Fear Street ready so I started with Goosebumps. To my surprise Welcome to the Dead House was actually scary. Who knew words could have such power?! I know, give me a break, I was young. Then came Fear Street, all things Mary Higgins Clark, and any good scare I could get my hands on. And that hasn’t changed. C.J. Tudor’s The Chalk Man was exactly what I was in the mood for, especially this time of year. Written by an English, author set in an English town, it tells the story of four young friends— Eddie, Mickey, Hoppo and Fat Gav— and how the horror of one summer haunts their lives. Playing with chalk …

Humanity in Two Forms

I’d been looking forward to both of these books for awhile. The Giver is one I wish I’d read as a young adult, but never did. I still wish that, but better late than never, right? And Seven Brief Lessons on Physics initially hooked me with the beautiful cover and tiny size. But let’s take this one at a time… I first read The Giver by Lois Lowry, a long awaited check off my must-read-eventually list. But I think I made a mistake before even picking it up. A few years ago I saw the movie (2014), and I wish I hadn’t done that. As I was reading I was picturing the movie set, the actors, and turning over in my head the differences between the movie and the book. It ruined some of the magic. At least it’d been quite awhile since I’d seen the movie so it wasn’t fresh in my mind, but it was present enough to color my first impression. So if you haven’t read this one yet, definitely don’t watch the movie …

Unlike Anything Else

For the past year I’d been hearing people rave about The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. But frankly, I didn’t really believe the hype. I thought it was another romanticization of hollywood glamor and a fictional icon’s love story. Which I’m okay with, and it is that. But so much more. This book is unlike anything I’ve read before. Beginning as the life story of Evelyn Hugo as she tells it to a unknown journalist for unknown reasons, we learn about each of the seven husbands as her story becomes more significant than I ever expected. I’d say there are two major twists in the story of Evelyn Hugo, neither of which I saw coming when I started reading. Eventually the first was hinted at, and I saw where it was going. But the second I didn’t see coming until it hit at the very end. I enjoyed Jenkins’ writing (much like I did in One True Things), and the characters were interesting, but the story she tells is unlike anything I’ve ever read. I don’t …

ALL ABOARD!

At the end of the day, I didn’t look forward to picking this one up off my nightstand. So many fellow bibliophiles, my husband included, had praised it as a one-of-a-kind work of nonfiction. And yet, why wasn’t I looking forward to reading it? I’ve read one other of David Grann’s books, The Lost City of Z, about one man’s fanatical obsession with the mysteries of the Amazon and his equally mysterious disappearance. And I remembered from reading that one, that Grann’s investigate journalism style sometimes overwhelmed me. During the early pages he bleeds a seemingly infinite number of facts, characters, dates, and figures onto the page. It felt like I was running with a speeding train trying to grab hold so I could jump aboard and ride more comfortably for the rest of the story. And Killers of the Flower Moon was no exception. Although, much like The Lost City of Z, somewhere around 50 to 100 pages into the story I felt like I’d found my bearings and was fully onboard. Yet the book was still …

Scythe’s Unanswered Questions

After reading a series of intense fiction and nonfiction books, I was really looking forward to something I could escape into. I’m a fan of the dystopian series I’ve read in the past (The Hunger Games, Divergent, An Ember in the Ashes, etc), and I’m always looking forward to finding another great series. I had moderately high hopes that Scythe might be my next favorite series. I was moderately disappointed. The premise, in my mind, was stellar. A future dystopia masked so well as a utopia that even as the reader I was convinced for most of the 430+ pages that this world could be what it seemed (if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a YA series so of course I know better); a world without natural death, disease or crime. It’s a world where climate change has been reversed and people can “turn a corner” at anytime to reverse their aging and return to youth. In this world all things are supervised by an evolution of the “cloud” known as Thunderhead whose moral …

Humor and Heart

Our April book Born a Crime was just what I was in the mood for! After lots of dark and cloudy months and some intense books (i.e. Birdbox, The Hate U Give, The Healing of America), Trevor Noah’s ability to make anything into a joke was just what I needed. He covers some really dark subjects to say the least (attempted murders, carjacking, domestic abuse, apartheid, racism, etc), but manages to tell his stories with humor and heart. “One day as a young man I was walking down the street, and a group of Zulu guys was walking behind me, closing in on me, and I could hear them talking to one another about how they were going to mug me. ‘Let’s get this white guy. You go to his left, and I’ll come up behind him.’ I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t run, so I just spun around real quick and said, ‘Yo, guys, why don’t we just mug someone together? I’m ready. Let’s do it.’ They looked shocked for a moment, …

Worlds Apart

I’d been hearing so many great things about The Hate U Give before we chose it as our March book that I was afraid it might not live up to the hype. But happily, it did. This debut novel by Angie Thomas is about a young black girl struggling through the emotional, cultural, and legal repercussions of witnessing the unarmed shooting of a childhood friend. Starr Carter lives in Garden Heights but goes to school at a fancy prep school far away from home. Worlds apart, in fact. But seeing her story from within these two worlds gave infinite range to the issues Thomas tackles. I think that was my favorite part about the book; the two very environments. It elevated the story beyond a tragedy, or a high school coming-of-age story. It was the story of race, family, justice, injustice, love, the forces that drive us, and how all of those interact… in many different situations. Seeing Starr’s life through the lens of her home and school lives made her story more powerful and …

Twisty Romance

It Ends With Us caught my eye when it won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for best in romance. I’ve never read a book you’d categorize as a “romance novel” (unless you count Twilight), but I figured the best of 2016 was a good place to start. And it was an interesting experience. If you know anything about this book, you know it’s not your typical romance novel. But it’s pretty close to exactly what I’d expected (mostly because I’d done a lot of research when voting for our Bookly picks). The relationships were hot and heavy, with lots of steamy romance, a fairly predictable female protagonist with just enough baggage to make her interesting, some lack-luster writing, and some terribly romance novel-y names for the romantic interests (Ryle and Atlas). However, the unusual twist made it much more than just a predictable romance novel. Lily’s story made this a likeable read. SPOILERS I knew before reading it that Ryle was not who he seemed. But I wish I hadn’t! I think it would have …

Everything I Didn’t Know

I’ve never read a book like this before. Historically, the non-fiction books I’ve read have been about a person, places, a period of time. But this is the first time I’ve read such an in depth study of a particular policy. In case you missed it, “The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care” by T.R. Reid is a examination of our health care system in contrast to others around the world. And it was fascinating. “Economic growth is not the sole aim of out society… The value of a human life must be decided without regard to… economic considerations. We must take into account the human and spiritual aspects involved.” The Hall Report, 1964 There are a few things I know for certain: our health care system is broken, there are too many Americans without access to health care, our country’s approach to health care is far too politically leaning when it should be a moral issue. But besides that, my knowledge was fairly limited. This book put …

Hot Mess Redemption

As Bookly’s first ARC, courtesy of Graydon House (thank you!!), “Hot Mess” by EmilyBelden was our perfect match. It’s the story of Allie Simon, a young woman living in Chicago amidst her quarter-life-crisis of sorts. As you may (or may not) know, Bookly is made up of four Katherines from different cities who run this book club together. And I happen to live in Chicago (it’s me, Katherine C.)! Even more fitting, one of my daughters shares a name with the author (her middle name, Belden, named after a street we lived on for years). So it felt meant to be, and right away I volunteered to read “Hot Mess.” Although, to be honest, I had my doubts. I like to think I have fairly diverse taste in books, but anything under the Harlequin umbrella is not really in my wheelhouse. So I had no idea what to expect. And it was a bit of a rocky start. Allie Simon’s story starts when she’s only months into a relationship with Benji Zane, the latest and greatest star on the Chicago foodie …