Baking with Kafka by Tom Gauld
(Drawn & Quarterly, 2017, 160 pages)
This fun collection of comics caters directly to book-lovers and English professors. I enjoy Gauld’s artistic style and dry humor and I’ve already started looking into his past work. There were a number of comics in Baking with Kafka that I wanted to rip out and post around my office and/or send to friends. I’d recommend this to anyone who has an appreciation for literary-based humor. 😉
Just to get a taste for a taste of his work:
Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta
(Scribner, 2017, 309 pages)
Mrs. Fletcher can kind of quickly be described as a novel about discovery. Eve Fletcher is about to find herself an empty-nester as she sends her son, Brendan, off to college. She has plans to take a class at the local community college and find other ways to entertain herself but then a text from an unknown number calling her a “MILF” opens the door to a world previously foreign to her. At the same time, Brendan is having a hard time adjusting to his new college life. While his mother is trying to learn a little more about herself and her sexuality, Brendan finds himself at odds with how to properly interact with the opposite sex.
There’s a lot more going on here than this summary can address. What I will say is that I think this would be a good book club selection because of the many issues brought up. I’ll end with the last section of the Goodreads summary:
“Sharp, witty, and provocative, Mrs. Fletcher is a timeless examination of sexuality, identity, parenthood, and the big clarifying mistakes people can make when they’re no longer sure of who they are or where they belong.”
I’m not sure about the word “timeless” in there, but I did think this was an entertaining read. 🙂
The Santangelos by Jackie Collins
(St. Martin’s Press, 2015, 544 pages)
The author portrays the life of the rich and famous Santangelo family. From playboys to movie stars, at home and abroad; but lurking behind it all is a plot to take the family down. Lucky Santangelo is the main character and after the death of her father, she is determined to find his killer and protect her family.
Conspiracy by De’nesha Diamond
(Dafina Books, 2016, 320 pages)
This story is full of twists and turns. You start out thinking it is about sex trafficking and then follow the life of the girl, a victim whose boyfriend is selling drugs. When the drugs turn up missing, murder and mayhem lead to the chase to uncover the twisted conspiracy to hide the development of a human military weapon.
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
(Algonquin Books, 2018, 320 pages)
This is the story of a marriage and what happens to a couple put in a situation they never could have imagined. Roy and Celestial haven’t been married long when one night their lives are turned upside down. Roy is charged with a crime he didn’t commit and is imprisoned. As Roy and Celestial’s families fight to overturn the charges and clear his name time goes by. We get insight into the relationship and how it changes through letters the two write to each other.
When Roy’s name is finally cleared years later the only thing he wants is to return to the wife, and the life, he knew before his incarceration. But does that life still exist?
This was a powerful novel that quickly sucked me in. I didn’t want to put it down. The character development was great and I couldn’t wait to see how the story was going to play out. I’ll definitely be checking out Jones’s backlist. (pub. date February 2018)
An Extraordinary Union by Alyssa Cole
(Kensington, 2017, 263 pages)
This historical romance offered a unique twist on what we normally see. Set during the Civil War we are introduced to Elle and Malcolm as the country is first struggling to come to grips with what’s happening. Elle is a free black woman working undercover as a slave to spy for the Union. Malcolm is a white man who is also spying for the Union, though in the guise of a Confederate soldier. When the two realize they’re supposed to be working together things get complicated. They have to keep their identities secret from those around them, but at the same time there’s an attraction they’re both trying to fight… Can they accomplish the task at hand without blowing their cover or falling for each other?
I appreciated the diverse angle this romance took. It got high praise and while I wanted to like it more than I did, I can understand why it got so much attention. If you’re in the market for a unique historical romance (that’s not overly steamy) this could be just what you’re looking for.
Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker
(Grand Central Publishing, 2017, 453 pages)
I will always love Jane Eyre (it’s even my default search when I have to test out the library catalog or a database 😉 ). It’s a classic that never gets old. I’ve read a number of Eyre-inspired novels that had something of a moment over the past couple years. This one takes a different approach in attempting to offer Edward Rochester’s back-story to better understand him. Shoemaker did a great job capturing the language and essence of Bronte’s world.
I was really into it at the beginning but the end of the book felt a bit rushed to me. Arguably, this was a text meant to provide Rochester’s origin story so it makes sense that most of the novel focused on his life pre-Jane. However, given the nature of this novel’s readership, it would have been nice to have a little more of the Jane/Edward relationship fleshed out. Even with that caveat, I think fans of Jane Eyre will appreciate this novel. Despite its “high” page count it was a relatively quick read.