All posts tagged: fiction

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 …

October Book

At The Bookly Club we read according to the season (more on that here). And what does fall put you in the mood for? For us it’s the perfect time to read something good and scary. We know, we know this year’s been scary enough! We’re definitely not in the mood for anything apocalyptic right now. BUT this October we’ve picked a book that’s a play on the classic haunted house story. And we think it’s just right time for curling up with a good book as the leaves change and the temperatures fall. The Invited by Jennifer McMahon is a story about Nate and Helen; a young couple who decide to leave suburban life for a more rural setting on forty acres of land in the country. They plan to build their dream home together. As Helen finds inspiration through found objects in the local area—a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse—she becomes infatuated with the area’s dark history. The stories of Hattie Breckenridge, a local …

I mean….yeah

Quick summary: This book was stupid. Longer thoughts: It starts with a rape and ends with the author pretending it wasn’t. The interaction begins with Henry following a very intoxicated Tess up the stairs under the pretense of helping her because she is wobbly and drunk. Once upstairs, he kisses her. She says “I can’t. I’m engaged.” And then she “gives in.” Cut to baby and a complete denial of what this encounter was. I really found it odd that Chamberlain made no real effort to address the four letter word in the room. Moreover, she wants us to root for this dude later on. If she meant it to be a wild night where both parties got carried away, perhaps she should have tried a little harder and dedicated more than a paragraph on how these characters ended up in bed. She lost me after that. It only went downhill from there with extremely one-demential characters that basically existed to tell Tess that there is “more than meets the eye.” Ooooo. In order to …

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 …

High Drama, Low Believability

Our theme for August is “Beach Read,” and while The Stolen Marriage may not be a typical beach read, it certainly ticks the “Beach Read” boxes of being quick, and with quite a high mix of drama. Chamberlain certainly didn’t hold back in terms of the dramatic themes in The Stolen Marriage. Discussing the book with the other “Katherines,” I kept finding myself sliding into a Stefon-like description (“This book has everything – the polio epidemic, death, World War II, abandonment, abortion, adultery…” and I’ll stop there even though I could easily tick off 10-15 more things, but there would be major spoilers). In many ways, it felt like every chapter was also the introduction of another new element (SPOILER ALERT: “…mediums, secret relationships, arson…”). And while that kind of drama can certainly be entertaining and engrossing, it can also be incredibly overwhelming and unbelievable. For all of these terrible things to happen to one person in the span of a year!? Well, the book might as well have been about 2020. It was also …

September Book

Pictured above: Puffin in Bloom edition of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery Here at The Bookly Club September is the season when we visit (or revisit) a scholastic classic. Normally this is when we’re heading back to school and dreaming of school supplies. But again, this school year will be looking very different. However, we still have the books we love! So for September we’ve picked a beloved classic. And what is there really to say about our September book? First published on June 13th, 1908, this book and its characters have taken on a life of their own. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery has been translated into 36 languages, sold over 50 million copies, and is one of the best-selling books of all time. And yet, I’ve never read it! I’ve watched the 1980’s series, and the latest adaptation Anne with an E on Netflix, but I’ve never read the book. So for many of us this will be a re-read, but for some of us this will be a long overdue …

August Book

At The Bookly Club we pick a book for August that fits in your beach bag. Not literally (although if a book doesn’t fit in your beach bag you’re doing it wrong), but it should be a book you’d want with you on a day at the beach. Granted, this year’s a little bit different. A lot-a-bit different actually. Beach-going and summer vacations aren’t the care-free relaxing endeavors they once were. In fact, if you’re like us, they aren’t happening at all. Or if we do, our beach bags are over-stuffed with PPE and hand sanitizers, and maybe a book. But no matter where we’re reading from this summer, we’re still in the mood for a “beach read.” Something that moves fast, isn’t too long, with maybe a touch of romance, likeable characters, and light on the gravitas. And Diane Chamberlain’s The Stolen Marriage fits that bill for us! A lifelong book lover, and author since the late 1980’s, Chamberlain has authored dozens of novels. And The Stolen Marriage is one of her more recent books; …

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 …