All posts tagged: fiction

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 …

August Book

We’ve picked our August beach read… The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker … and we hope you’ll read with us! We’re definitely in the mood for a good summer read we can take along to the beach, the pool, or on those sweaty summer commutes. Whatever your plans, The Simple Wild seems like a great addition to the summer TBR (to-be-read list). And reading with us is pretty simple… pick up a copy of The Simple Wild and read along with us anytime before the end of August. keep in touch on social using #booklymark and tagging @thebooklyclub. stay tuned for our discussion post on Instagram and our reviews here on the blog at the end of the month so we can chat all about it! But enough of that, on to why we’re so excited about our latest pick. K.A. Tucker is a new author to us, but we’ve heard nothing but good things from other readers who’ve already picked up The Simple Wild (nominated for Goodreads Best Romance in 2018). Author of over …

Teenage Nostalgia

I knew fairly little about this book before starting. I was surprised to find how much of it I related to. It’s the story of Jessie. She and her father move from Chicago to Southern California just as she’s starting her junior year of high school. Not too long before this move, they’ve lost her mother to cancer, and now her father’s moving them across the country to live with his new wife, and her son. Their new home is grand and pristine. She feels unwelcome among the richness, and dramatically out of place at her new private school where money rules. The only welcome she receives comes via email from “Somebody Nobody;” an anonymous classmate of Jessie’s who volunteers his knowledge of all things Wood Valley High School. Granted I didn’t move to Southern California after such a loss as Jessie experienced, but I did move from Chicago to Southern California as I started my junior year of high school. And formerly a student of public schools, I started at a private school in …

May & June Book

This school year has finally coming to a close, and we couldn’t be happier to welcome warmer weather and summer vacations! And as is tradition around here at The Bookly Club, in May & June we like to celebrate with a great YA read. Although none of us here at Bookly would likely self-profess as YA super-fans, we’ve enjoyed most of our the young adult selections in the past (Salt to the Sea and The Perks of Being a Wallflower among the favorites). Plus, what better time of year to revisit being young and oh so dramatic… signing yearbooks on the last day of school, looking forward to summer reading lists (just us?), and everything in between. This May & June (we like to combine these months for a little break during a busy time of year) we’ve selected Julie Buxbaum’s Tell Me Three Things. Now the author of five novels (her latest just released May 7th), Buxbaum started her career as a Harvard-educated lawyer. But like so many, her initial path took a welcome turn …

Injustice Laid Bare

Since reading The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin nearly 15 years ago, I’d been looking forward to reading more of his writing. In the past, life and other books had gotten in the way, but with If Beale Street Could Talk as Bookly’s March selection I finally revisited Baldwin. James Baldwin was an author, activist, and queer black man at his creative peak in 1960’s / 1970’s America. His words have a power that’s lasted generations. He wrote works of fiction and nonfiction that channeled the voices of the oppressed. And in his novel If Beale Street Could Talk (1974) he tells the all too familiar story of a young black man in America. Fonny is living his life among family and first love, pursuing his creative passions in New York City. And yet all that, and much more, is stolen away. Framed for a rape he didn’t commit, Fonny is imprisoned with little hope of freedom. Even after discovering that Tish, the woman he loves, is carrying his child, we bear witness to the desperate and near hopeless decay …

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 …

March Book

  Awards season is always one of our favorites, but the Emmy’s, Golden Globes, SAG awards, BAFTAs, and the Oscars have all come to a close. However in March we celebrate some of the nominees and winners by reading a book that was turned into one of last year’s acclaimed films. This year we’re reading James Baldwin’s classic If Beale Street Could Talk. Published in 1974, it’s the story of young love, family, injustice, and hope. Tish has fallen in love with Fonny, the father of her child, who’s falsely imprisoned and seeking the justice he deserves. Facing their uncertain futures, the lives of these two characters twist tragedy and joy in ways that make their stories unforgettable. Baldwin is a legendary American author whose writing is a beautiful as it is poignant (and if you haven’t read The Fire Next Time by Baldwin do so ASAP).   “A moving, painful story, so vividly human and so obviously based on reality that it strikes us as timeless”  –Joyce Carol Oates “If Van Gogh was our nineteenth …