All posts tagged: fiction

Scary Stories from Wayside School

I’m so excited to be sharing my first-ever review in PODCAST format! We’ve partnered with Alli from the SSR Podcast for our May & June read of Sideways Stories from Wayside School, and it was so much fun! SSR has been one of our favorite bookish podcasts for awhile now, breaking down an old school read from our tween and teen days every week. And I had the pleasure of chatting with Alli all about this odd, silly, creepy childhood classic. We had a lot to say; good, bad and ugly. So thank you so much to Alli and the SSR Podcast for hosting Bookly this month, and please CLICK HERE to check out all our thoughts and feelings in Episode 97 of the SSR Podcast . . .   And make sure to visit the SSR Podcast for plenty more literary throwback chats!  

May & June Book

We’re so excited to announce our selection for May & June! It’s been a crazy time lately, so revisiting a childhood classic sounds just right. But even better, this month we’ve organized our first-ever collaboration with one of our favorite podcasts; SSR Podcast! Host Alli Kosik chats weekly with readers all about different literary throwbacks. And for the Bookly Club we reserve May & June for a YA read or childhood throwback to celebrate school letting out. So, it seemed like the perfect time to join forces with Alli and the SSR Podcast for our selection this month(s). Without further ado, this May & June the Bookly Club and Alli of the SSR Podcast will be reading Louis Sachar’s classic Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Published in 1978, this book is the first in a series of Wayside books. Sachar began writing Sideways Stories shortly after his college graduation. He eventually grew enough of a following to write full-time and quit his law career. And he’s been writing ever since. If fact, the latest book …

Giving Five Stars

Before reading it I’d definitely heard of our February book, The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. I don’t live under a rock! Jojo Moyes is a beloved author (see Me Before You) AND Reese picked The Giver of Stars for her Hello Sunshine book club. So it was hard to miss. And most people who’d read it had nothing but good things to say. And that made me nervous. I feel that way anytime a book gets a lot of hype. Maybe because nothing can ever really live up to that hype? Or I just feel like I’m not usually the type of reader that likes the books that are so beloved? Too polarizing? Either way, that’s usually a turn off for me. But I was willing to give it a shot. Anything for The Bookly Club, right? I did do a lot of research on the story. So I knew the history it was based on. And of course I’d read the blurb, so I knew essentially what it was about. But I …

A little bit of nice…

Full honesty here – after reading the synopsis of this book, I expected to not entirely enjoy this read. I’m not entirely sure why but just a gut thing. After reading it, here is what I can say – for what it is, the book is delightful. The hard and handsome landscape contrasts the somewhat airy and pretty story very nicely. The pace is excellent without sparing imagery, making it a hard one to put down. Plus, I really enjoyed learning a bit of badass women history. I mean, these women were freaking amazing. The other side of the coin is that the story certainly lacks for some character complexity. Each person in the story, while serving a very distinct purpose, is either decidedly good or decidedly bad (or at the very least deeply flawed). No character is particularly challenging. Everything is made easy for you in the book – including Depression Era Kentucky, which is made to feel quaint.  I felt it a bit problematic that families living in abject poverty hoping for a …

March Book

In March, rounding out the year’s TV & film awards season, we read a book adapted for the screen. But first, we should mention that this awards season is discouraging. The lack of diversity hit a 3-year low. Usually I enjoy watching the Oscars, but watching the same characters award each other for another formulaic Tarantino or Scorsese film sounds like a snooze fest. In contrast, we’re reading the New York Times Bestseller titled Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson. I first heard about this book during a fundraising event. The keynote speaker, a peer of Stevenson’s, spoke highly of his friend’s new book Just Mercy. I can’t recall his exact description of the book, but I do remember immediately adding it to my Goodreads. And that was four years ago, so it’s about time I read this one! Stevenson is a brilliant and accomplished lawyer devoted to defending the disenfranchised, wrongfully convicted, and those trapped by a corrupt justice system. Just Mercy is the true story of Stevenson as a young attorney. It was early in his …

February Book

We’re back to announce our official selection for February! We’ll be reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, and we hope you’ll read along with us! But more on that later… Jojo Moyes, most notable for Me Before You (her tragic romance novel turned movie starring Emilia Clarke), recently published a historical fiction novel that’s getting a lot of attention. Including ours! Released in October of 2019, it was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine bookclub in November. And we can’t seem to open Instagram without seeing another book lover rave about it. It’s based on the true story of a New Deal initiative backed by Eleanor Roosevelt called the Traveling Library. The Depression left much of America in poverty, but none were hit quite like the coal-mining counties of Kentucky. Without access to public libraries, and many illiterate, women were called upon to travel the counties and deliver books to those most in need. From 1935 to 1943 these women rode on horseback delivering books to homes and schoolhouses, earning names like packhorse …

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 …

November Book

This November we’ve picked a family saga that’s been on our #tbr (to-be-read list) for quite awhile. Well, for about three years which is like a decade in book nerd years. Cameroon native Imbolo Mbue’s best-selling debut novel Behold the Dreamers was released in 2016. It won the coveted spot as Oprah’s Book Club selection for 2017. It won the 2017 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, was named a New York Times Book Review notable book of the year, and was on numerous lists as one of the best books of 2017. The high praise seems endless. And the story is still just as relevant and topical as it was three years ago. Set during the 2008 financial crisis, Mbue’s novel follows two disparate families; the Edwards family and the Jonga family. Clark Edwards is a senior executive at Lehman Brothers, he and his family live a life of wealth and privilege in New York City (with a home in the Hamptons on the side). Jende Jonga, his wife Neni, and their six-year-old son have come …

October Book

Shirley Jackson was formerly a name most recognized for the short story The Lottery (published in The New Yorker in 1948). However, it’s likely she’s now more commonly associated with last year’s Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House that had us all “scrying.” Written by Jackson in 1959, the gothic horror novel The Haunting of Hill House is often considered one of the best ghost stories, ever. During her more than 20 year career Jackson published a total of six novels, hundreds of short stories and two memoirs. The last novel she ever published was in 1962 just three years before her death. And that novel was We Have Always Lived in the Castle, our October selection! The book begins six years after a deadly family tragedy at the Blackwood home. Eighteen-year-old “Merricat” Blackwood (our narrator), her elder sister Constance, and their uncle Julian were the only survivors. Now living on an isolated estate perched above a small town in Vermont, the local residents tell stories and build legends around this strange family. “…I would …

September Book

School’s back in session, and it has us craving new school supplies, pumpkin spice and a literary classic. September’s our favorite time to read something straight off the required reading lists. And this go around we’ve selected The Bell Jar. First published in 1963, it’s the only novel ever published by writer and poet Sylvia Plath. Born in Boston in 1932 and the daughter of academics, Plath’s story is one of great success and tragedy. She suffered the loss of her father when she was only eight years old. A strict authority figure, his life and death held a strong influence on Plath’s work. But Plath was an early writing talent. She kept journals starting at age eleven and was often published in regional publications. She achieved her first national publication when she was only eighteen. A graduate of Smith College, Fulbright scholar, and acclaimed poet, Plath reached high levels of success in her professional life, yet her personal life was conflicted. {trigger warning: depression and suicide} Plath suffered from clinical depression for most of …