Author: Katherine C.

Highlights from Avonlea

Anne of Green Gables had been on my “to be read” (#tbr) list or faaaar too long (probably since watching the classic ’80s TV series). But for alas, it took me until now to finally get around to it. And either way, I’m so glad I finally crossed this one off my list! There was probably no better time to read it as the seasons begin to change. The setting of Avonlea and the way L.M. Montgomery introduces each chapter with a romantic description of its changing seasons was a highlight for me. Anne, Marilla, Matthew, and Diana were all very charming characters, but Avonlea itself, the Lake of Shining Waters, the Haunted Forest, and the Snow Queen were my favorites. The natural setting was a meditative escape and had me dreaming of a visit to Prince Edward Island. Also, I was surprised at what a fast read it was. I’d expected it to be more like a traditional “classic,” with a fair amount of tangents and portions being a little over-written. But I found …

All of the Things…

The Stolen Marriage by Diane Chamberlain definitely had all of the components of a beach read. There was death and loss, marriages, childhood friendships, engagements, broken engagements, an epidemic, an unplanned pregnancy, a world war, family feuds, long lost loves, issues of racism, sexism, classism, sexual assault, family secrets, gas rationing fraud, a car accident and more death, some mysticism and spirituality thrown in. This book had all of the things. And honestly it left me a little dizzy. The protagonist Tess DeMello was born and raised a good Catholic girl from Baltimore. She was engaged to be married to her childhood sweetheart when one “mistake” changes everything. Although what the book blurb describes as a mistake I’d describe as sexual assault. I don’t consider this a spoiler since it happens within the first 30 pages of the book… Tess gets uncharacteristically drunk during a night out with her best friend Gina. They meet two strangers and join them for drinks under Gina’s encouragement. Tess and one of the men, Henry, exchange almost no words during …

In Their Words

In school I learned about enslaved Africans. I learned how millions of men, women and children were kidnapped from Africa, shipped to America, and lived and died enslaved in this country. But I learned of these stories from whitewashed history curriculums. I had never read of slavery from the words of a person enslaved. And author Zora Neale Hurston takes such care and commitment in recording Kossola’s story. I am thankful she shared her talents, her dedication, and for Kossula’s strength in sharing his life. There’s a kind of tragic poetry to the words Kossula shares, and I felt honored to be let into his story through Barracoon. This book is a rare and important one. And I don’t throw that term around loosely. Barracoon is a must read. It’s our history, and it’s past time we start centering more voices like these. Hurston understood in 1927 even better than we do now how important it is to hear our stories through the voices of those who experienced them. And with that, I’ll stop talking. …

Sorry, Not Sorry

Years before she published Dear Girls, Ali Wong aired a stand-up special on Netflix called Baby Cobra. She was pregnant with her first during filming, and I was just barely coming out of the fog of having two babies within about a year of each other. I couldn’t have been more primed to find everything she referenced all too familiar and laugh-out-loud hilarious. And I don’t take issue with her raw and crude brand of humor. Parenting is raw and crude, so it fits. Needless-to-say, when I heard about Dear Girls I was all in. Each chapter is a letter to her daughters Mari and Nikki where she shares different embarrassing, challenging, rewarding, gross, triumphant stories. I love that she is completely unfiltered in sharing the lessons she’s learned the hard way, and trying to share more of herself. Parents often project onto children so much of what we hope for them and how we see them, but we rarely share much of our own histories, vulnerabilities or mistakes. But Wong is completely unafraid of …

Food for Thought

I feel like a broken record mentioning that The Book of Joy has been on my list for awhile, but one thing I really love about this bookclub is that we often read backlist titles (aka older books, not newly published titles). So yet again, I’m so glad to have checked another book off my long list of books to read. But on to the good stuff… Besides feedback like, “this book is amazing!” I didn’t really know what to expect from The Book of Joy. Outside of having watched Seven Years in Tibet decades ago, and being able to put a face to the name Desmond Tutu, I could have told you very little about the book’s co-authors. And still this book surprised me in many ways. First was its humor. The Book of Joy is the product of a week of conversations between Reverend Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama around joy, and moderated by author and collaborator Douglas Abrams. Maybe I expected it to be a little dry and overly …

Happiness and Hope

I can safely say this is one of my leading favorites for any of our November selections. It’s a month when we pick a book that circles around family; the drama, the trials, the love, and everything in between. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue was no different. A top book of 2017, Mbue’s debut novel, Oprah’s Book Club 2017 selection, and a New York Times bestseller. It’d been on my list since its debut, and I had high hopes! It’s the story of the Jonga family, and their journey to a happy life. Jende Jonga moves to New York City from Cameroon to find a job, provide for his family, and dutifully walk the path to citizenship in the land of opportunity. The book begins when he gets a stable, well-paying job as a chauffeur for Mr. Clark; a top executive at Lehman Brothers. The catch? It’s 2007. You may think you’re witnessing an American dream about to come true, but it’s much more complicated. The characters are powerfully written. I was deeply invested in each …

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… …