A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World by C.A Fletcher was a book that caught my attention primarily because of the title. I love a good dsytopian/post-apocalyptic novel. I also love dogs. Even though this book came out over a year ago, I only just started hearing about it everywhere, and when I was recently able to get an inexpensive digital copy, I scooped it right up.
Right at the upfront, the book kindly requests that you refrain from sharing plot points that may spoil the reading experience for others, so I will diligently do my best to avoid them. It’s the story of Griz, who lives on an island with his family in what is now, essentially, an empty world. A “Gelding” occurred in which humanity becomes mostly sterile, and the population has dwindled to an absurdly small percentage of its current number. Though he hasn’t seen much of the world, Griz has heard stories about it from his parents. Despite his inexperience off the island, when a visitor takes something from Griz, he doesn’t hesitate to leave his family and his home behind to get it back.
Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of the Butterflieshas been on my radar for what feels like forever — I’ve owned a copy for at least five years now. But I didn’t read it until recently, and I can’t believe I didn’t pick it up sooner. Alvarez’s novel is based on the true story of three sisters who were murdered in 1960s Dominican Republic, for their part in a plot to overthrow the government.
The story follows all four Mirabal sisters during the 50s and 60s as well as the one who was not murdered in the present (in this case, the 90s). Despite being close in age and obviously growing up in the same household, their very different personalities. Each shines through in her section. Alas, they come together in the end with the goal of bringing down their country’s dictator, Trujillo. They become involved in the resistance and collectively the sisters become known as “las mariposas,” or “the butterflies.”
I really enjoy Katherine Center’s stories. I was a huge fan of How to Walk Away — like finishing-it-in-my-car-before-work huge — and I’m glad to say this one did not disappoint. From what I’ve seen, her novels revolve around a woman who isn’t exactly what you would expect. In Things You Save in a Fire, the main character Cassie is a female firefighter.
She’s tough as nails and extremely career-oriented. Though she’s been estranged from her mother since she was a kid, Cassie softens just a little bit, and ends up agreeing to move across the country to live with her in Boston when her mom reveals she’s having some health issues. At the new firehouse, Cassie is the only woman. As seasoned as she is, Cassie must still constantly prove her worth against the rookie, and while he has no actual experience, he is a guy and therefore more welcome in the old-school environment.
I remember when Golden State was offered up as a Book of the Month selection earlier this year. I didn’t choose it, since my friend Deanna did (and we like to share books), but then I sort of forgot about it again until I saw it on my library’s new releases shelf recently. I scooped it up and asked her if she wanted to do a buddy read. Of course, she immediately said yes. It was the first buddy read experience for both of us, and honestly, it couldn’t have gone better! It also helped that the story was pretty much a page-turner from beginning to end.
Ben H. Winters’s novel takes place in a dystopian future in a California that is now separated from the rest of the country, where residents retreated when lies overtook the world as they knew it. The Golden State is its own nation where truth is valued above all else and the primary functions of society revolve around maintaining the Objectively So. Unlike in the movie The Invention of Lying, lying is definitely possible — it’s just punishable.
I excitedly picked Candice Carty-Williams’ Queenie as my Book of the Month in March, but since life gets in the way, I didn’t get a chance to read it until recently. I was so looking forward to it that I chose it as a part of a reading challenge I’m doing with Deanna (who you’ll remember from Gilmore week) now that she’s moved away. It fit perfectly in the “book with a one word title” category.
Queenie is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, where she works at a newspaper. After a recent breakup with her long-term white boyfriend, she’s struggling to cope in a healthy way. She can’t concentrate on her job, and her “getting back out there” has disastrous results.
I recently joined a group of women in my town who were interested in starting a book club. With my other local book club disbanded (due to most of the members moving away), I was excited to have the opportunity to join another, and to be one of the founding members! The woman who brought us all together, Alissa, chose our first book, The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See.
My Meetup-based book club really enjoyed Lisa See’s previous novel The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lanewhen we read it last year, so I was looking forward to this one as well! Unfortunately, most of us didn’t finish it in time for the discussion (including me), but I made sure to finish it up afterward. I thought the story was very intriguing.
Ana Johns’ debut novel The Woman in the White Kimono is historical fiction inspired by true stories. It spans decades and continents, taking place in post-WWII Japan and the modern-day United States. I was intrigued by the description and excited to participate in this blog tour.
In the late 1950s in Japan, Naoko has been promised to the son of her father’s business associate but she is in love with another—an American sailor. Though she attempts to get their approval of their relationship, Naoko knows it would bring shame on the family if she decided to marry him. Still, she can’t help but follow her heart. Will the consequences of her decision be something she can live with?
Mira T. Lee’s debut novel, Everything Here Is Beautiful, is a tough book to discuss—though we attempted to do just that for my last book club meeting. It was suggested by one of our members last year, shortly after it was released, and when it finally got chosen as our monthly pick, I was looking forward to reading it. It’s a story about sisters, about immigrants, about mental illness. It’s a raw and powerful debut that I can’t recommend enough.
The novel follows two Chinese-American sisters, Miranda the oldest and Lucia the youngest, in the years after their mother dies from cancer. Lucia is adventurous and full of life, and when it’s determined that she has schizoaffective disorder, Miranda does everything in her power to keep Lucia grounded and get her the help she needs.
When I was invited to join the blog tour for Phaedra Patrick’s The Library of Lost and Found, I couldn’t turn it down. It was a book about books! I’m a huge fan of bookish novels — as I’m sure you are too. I haven’t read Phaedra’s bestselling The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper (yet), but based on its popularity, I knew I was in for a wonderful story.
Martha Storm is a librarian with a huge heart, who bends over backwards for others, even though they don’t often recognize her efforts. Caught in a bit of a rut, without many friends or close family, Martha craves meaningful relationships. When a mysterious man leaves her a tattered novel on the library’s doorstep, it’s a sign her life may be ready for a change.
When I read the description of Lorna Landvik’s Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with Recipes), I couldn’t resist picking it up. Not only did it sound chock-full of the small town charm I loved in Virgil Wander, it focused on a small-town newspaper columnist, Haze Evans. For those of you who don’t know me personally, my first job out of college was working at a newspaper — not as a writer, but as an advertising salesperson, and unofficially, a community events organizer. My time at the newspaper was a wonderful learning experience, and I was sort of hoping to get lost in a similar world again.
Haze’s column has been running for 50 years when she suffers a stroke and falls into a coma. In an attempt to fill the now vacant column space, the newspaper’s publisher, Susan, decides to run some of her past columns and reader responses, good and bad. Soon, the whole town finds itself swept up in Haze’s wise, witty and controversial words.