All posts tagged: fiction

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 …

December + January Book

The new year calls for us to learn something new. Our selection this time of year is always a nonfiction book that encourages its readers to see things in a new light. That’s exactly why we’ve chosen Angela Y. Davis‘ early 1980’s classic Women, Race and Class. After watching Ava DuVernay’s award-winning Netflix documentary 13th (WATCH THIS if you haven’t already), which features a strong presence by Davis, we were inspired to add her keystone work to our list. Davis is a prominent activist who was thrust into the spotlight in 1970 when she was labeled a “terrorist” by President Reagan for a loose connection to the crimes of Jonathan Jackson.  Although one can assume her only “crime” was an association with the Communist Party, Black Panther Party, and Civil Rights Movement. Ultimately she was found not guilty by an all-white jury. Davis later went on to use her strength and intellect on speaking tours, further political activism, and professorships at esteemed universities. She’s led (and is leading) a critical and fascinating life with a deep …

November Book

Road trips, shopping, cooking, dishes, gathering around the dinner table, eating, eating, eating – this month hosts a lot of time with family. A lot. And so does this month’s book. Rabbit Cake is a debut novel by Annie Hartnett (released March, 2017). Listed as one of Kirkus Reviews’ best books of 2017, it’s the story of Elvis Babbit, and family, after her mother’s suspicious sleep-swimming drowning.Her mother is survived by Elvis, her sister Lizzie (a sleep eater), and her father. As told from the perspective of 12-year-old Elvis, we start to see under the many layers of the Babbit family’s dirty laundry. But there are things yet to be uncovered. There are a few things that don’t seem right to Elvis, so she begins looking into the details of her mother’s life and death. Written with a very original, charmingly young voice, you feel like you’re experiencing all the nitches of this bizarre family through the eyes of Elvis Babbit. “Elvis investigates the strange circumstances of her mother’s death and finds comfort, if not answers, in …

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 …

October Book

The weather is changing and there’s a new chill in the air, so now’s the time for a chilling story. Maybe more than any other month, October begs you to read something fit to the season; something a little spooky to give you the creeps and put you on the edge of your seat. So if, like us, you’re in the mood for a good ghost story read with us! This month we’ve chosen The Chalkman by C.J. Tudor thanks to our Instagram community. Normally we come up with suggestions among the four of us and vote. But this year we opened the suggestion box to our Insta community and The Chalk Man was a nomination by one of our followers. And we’re so glad she suggested it! It’s British author C.J. Tudor’s debut novel that Stephen King commented on as, “Want to read something good?…If you like my stuff, you’ll like this.” Tudor lives in Nottingham, England and before writing she’s had a long history of various other professions (dog walker, voice actor to name …

August Book

Announcing our August 2018 book pick! Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo In August we like to select a great companion for the sun and sand. Released just over a year ago, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is a unique story of fiction that promises to keep you wrapt during these last weeks of summer.   “Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself.  Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as …

The Future of Life and Death

I fully intended not to like this book. YA fantasy is a little out of my wheelhouse, however, it hooked me more than I expected. The whole concept of the book — a future that has eradicated death and therefore tasks certain humans with the job of killing people in the name of population control — was fascinating to me. The first third of the book flew by as Schusterman built this world and introduced us to the main characters. And as much as I was entertained, it was too easy to put down. For some reason that I still can’t put my finger on I wasn’t eager to gobble it up. It did a good job of grappling with difficult questions in way that was accessible, and while it didn’t necessarily answer the questions, they’ve stuck with me. The characters were well developed and relatable, and I liked that the book’s focus wasn’t on a romance (something that happens a little too often in YA, IMO). While the book hinted that Citra and Rowan …

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 …

May & June Book

Spring is here! It reminds us of when we used to look forward to the last day of school… yearbooks, textbook buyback, cleaning out your locker, and putting away the required reading for a good book you could actually choose yourself. And such is our May & June pick, a dystopian young adult novel that’s the first of a new series, and definitely a book we would have chosen as soon as school let out. Scythe tells the story of two teenagers, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, who undergo training as they are recruited into the Scythe organization to be society-sanctioned killers. The Scythes: a group of men and women who decide who lives, and who dies. Set in the very distant future, death by natural causes has been virtually eliminated due to the tremendous advances in technology and an advanced computer system that controls society. But overpopulation is still an issue, and that’s where the Scythe organization comes in to choose who to eliminate. With no hunger, no war, no disease, the world seems like …