All posts filed under: Reviews

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 …

An Important History Lesson in Feminism

Angela Y. Davis’ work is historically honest and somehow succinct but incredibly expansive at the same time. Unwrapping the complicated nuances of race and gender narratives and their gross entanglement with societal class structure both historically and in more modern ways, Davis evaluates several dark corners of our country’s past ranging from slavery, education, rape, and reproductive rights. She details how women’s empowerment movement has been dissected internally by complicating issues of race and class. Her book is, in many ways, a love song to the fight for equality but sharply draws into focus the consistent impedance to success. Historians not only inform our pasts but, when doing their job correctly, should guide our future. By informing our past failings, perhaps we can alter how we choose to proceed going forward. My innate response to historical themes of race and gender had generally been “yep, I know its bad.” That’s not because I don’t care but because I don’t know how to help or admittedly really understand the scope. Davis’ work has given me a …

Loving Elvis Babbit

Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett (our November selection) has flown somewhat under the radar. I’d not heard much about it until voting on what to read for Bookly in 2018, and I feel like that’s somewhat the norm. Not many have heard too much about this one, but those who have seem to have really enjoyed it. It’s the story of Elvis Babbit and her family after her mother’s drowning during a routine sleep swimming episodes. Survived by 11-year-old Elvis, her sister, and her dad, the family goes down an odd path of grief involving world record baking, talking birds, seashell jesus sculptures, zoological metaphors, and more sleep-driven chaos. For all its quirks, Elvis, the Babbit family narrator, brings a bright and young perspective of hope to her family’s tragedy. Her voice was entirely unique and a pleasure to read. I will say, this is the type of book/story that isn’t usually my first choice. A character-driven family drama where nothing much happens except a quirky familial arc. However, Harnett didn’t drag it along. The pacing …

Special Review: The Hiding Place

While doing some light research on our October book (The Chalk Man) and its author C.J. Tudor I read that she has a second book coming out this winter. So I took a chance and asked for an early copy to review along with The Chalk Man. THANK YOU to Crown Publishing for sending along the advance copy of Tudor’s next thriller The Hiding Place! It did not disappoint. Not all four of us read it, just me, Katherine C. Although you can bet I’ll be recommending it to all of our Bookly Katherines as soon as it’s released. SYNOPSIS Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault. …

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 …

Seven Brief, Though Thorough and Therefore Sort of Difficult to Follow, Lessons on Physics

If you read Katie C.’s review, you already know that I gave her a heads up that I found this hard to read. And it was. Despite being brief, the lessons were still lessons on physics, and physics was never really my subject. HOWEVER. I still very much appreciated Rovelli’s “brief” book of essays. I highlighted more passages in this book than I expected to and than I have in most other books. And I highlighted for a lot of reasons. In some places I highlighted words, like “phantasmagorical,” because I simply can’t think of a better word, or phrases, like “Genius hesitates,” because they were awesome. Sometimes I highlighted because the prose is simply beautiful. For example: A reality that seems to be made of the same stuff that our dreams are made of, but that is nevertheless more real than our clouded, quotidian dreaming. I highlighted because I felt gobsmacked by what I read, because I certainly had no idea that “If a person who has lived at sea level meets up with …

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 …

Discovering the Truth About Evelyn Hugo

I did very little “research” of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo before I read it. Basically just the jacket description (side note: I keep wanting to call her Eleanor Hugo and I’m not sure why…), and therefore I wasn’t totally sure what to expect from this one.  So, I thought I’d walk you through my thoughts as I read the book (spoilers abound!): “Oh, this’ll be a good beach read… maybe a little like Devil Wears Prada” (i.e., girl trying to make it in journalism gets job of a lifetime, but has to make sacrifices, etc.) “Well, Evelyn is no Miranda Priestly.” (i.e., I found Evelyn to have more redeeming qualities than Miranda out the gate) “What does Evelyn want with Monique? What am I missing?” (and it was at this point that I started to do something I don’t usually do – I scoured every word I read for clues as to what the twist/kicker would be in this book) “OH! Well. This is a beach read with a message. Love is love. Love it!” “OK. …