Books · Comics · Fiction · Humor · Julia P · Quick Read!

Baking with Kafka | by Tom Gauld

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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. 😉

3.5/5 stars

Just to get a taste for a taste of his work:

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Fiction · In the Library · Julia P · Name in Title · Quick Read!

Mrs. Fletcher | by Tom Perrotta

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. 🙂

3.5/5 stars

Art · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Page-Turner · Psychology

The Lonely City | by Olivia Laing

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone by Olivia Laing
(Picador, 2016, 315 pages)

I got so completely immersed in this book that I didn’t want it to end. Laing could have written hundreds more pages and I happily would have read them all.

Using the lens of loneliness Laing explores various artists whose work speaks to the feeling of being alone. She came to reflect on the connection between art and loneliness while she was living alone and lonely in New York City. Each chapter is essentially a biographic essay about a specific artist (Warhol, Wojnarowicz, Hopper…) that leaves you with an understanding of them and their work, but also has you poised to try and learn more. It’s no surprise this book was chosen as a 2016 best book of the year by a number of different publication, not to mention being a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for criticism.

I’ll certainly be going back and reading Laing’s other pieces. I loved getting so wrapped up in her work.

4/5 stars

Advance Reader Copy (ARC) · Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race

An American Marriage | by Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

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)

4/5 stars

Fiction · Historical Fiction · Julia P · Quick Read! · Race · Romance

An Extraordinary Union | by Alyssa Cole

An Extraordinary Union (The Loyal League #1)

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.

3/5 stars

Fiction · Historical Fiction · Julia P · Name in Title · Re-telling

Mr. Rochester | by Sarah Shoemaker

Mr. Rochester

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.

3/5 stars

Essays · Julia P · Memoir · Non-Fiction · Quick Read!

Tell Me More | by Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say
by Kelly Corrigan
(Penguin Random House, 2018, 240 pages)

This was my first time reading Corrigan’s work and I really enjoyed her style. I’ll certainly be picking up her previous titles. The content of this book was just what I needed to read. It’s all about the power of language and reflecting to think of how to act in various situations. Corrigan is able to use humor throughout the book, but there are also some heavy and emotional moments as she lets the reader into her life and explains how it is she came to the realization of what needs to be said and why.

This was a heartfelt and valuable book. I’m glad it found its way into my reading rotation.

4/5 stars