All posts tagged: fiction

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 …

February Book

It’s a new year full of new books! Since finishing our December & January book—Women, Race and Class by Angela Y. Davis—February marks Bookly’s official start to 2019. In fact, we’re currently finalizing our list of books for this year, and we’re so excited about all of them!! But anyway, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. February is the month of pre-fixed candlelit dinners, hallmark cards, chocolate, fuzzy hearts stitched to teddy bears, and romance. So, since we’re a book club that reads what’s fitting for the month we’re reading in, this month we read romance. This year’s love story is a debut novel published just last year. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory. A graduate of Wellesley College and Stanford Law, Guillory sets this story in her hometown; the Bay Area. Her writing has made her a new favorite go-to romance author of many. And since The Wedding Date she’s published a sequel, and the third in the series comes out in July. So if we love this one we’ll have two more to add to our TBR (to-be-read) lists!   …

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. …