The Baker’s Daughter

Thoughts tbdbysm by Sarah McCoy, Crown 2012, 330 pages

Challenge: none
Genre: WW2 + Contemporary
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle
 Why I read this now: Has been on my Kindle for a long time…

MOTIVATION for READING:  I took my Kindle on a trip so that I would have more options. I wanted something more touchy-feely and not too deep. (Let’s just say the other books I have had the longest on my Kindle are horror and “other”).

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young German girl whose family owns a bakery is being courted by a Nazi officer and finds that she has to make some very tough choices that put her family in danger. On the ‘now’ timeline, we meet a reporter with love & commitment issues who stumbles into a German Bakery in El Paso Texas. The stories unfold and alternate as we realize that the young girl in Germany is now the old lady who runs the Texas bakery.

WHAT’s GOOD: I can’t think of anything negative to say but I’m also having a hard time thinking up any strengths to share. Plenty of characters – but not too many, all rather likable – even the Nazi fiance though he has the biggest secrets. Elsie the baker is wonderful – spunky and courageous. I probably liked the historical parts best, the story of young Elsie and how she managed to survive and end up in Texas. All the elements prove the skill of the author’s story construction.

What’s NOT so good:  There are a lot of issues touched upon that propel the story and don’t weigh it down but overall, not terrifically memorable. I didn’t sob, though I expected to.

I enjoyed the story and have no complaints. I did cry a little. The story ends happy.

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RATING:  Upon finishing, four slices of American Apple Pie. Now that I’ve written this review, three would be a satisfactory rating. And this stated because not too long ago, I ranted about how I don’t change my ratings! I totally recognize that conditions of timing in the reading experience influence the ‘score’ if you will and it really doesn’t bother me. Because this was a captivating read RIGHT AFTER BOOKS that couldn’t capture my attention; thus the FOUR.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Readalong of State of Wonder #StateOfWonder #JIAM

READALONG TIME!  I have been missing the fun of virtually reading a book together.  A big happy shout out to Friday Friend Debbie — my partner in crime this time.

Also, June is Audiobook Month so …  #JIAM

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Genre:  Thriller?  Science-y?  Contemporary Literature?
Type/Source: I will be enjoying the Audiobook narrated by Hope Davis
 Why I read this now:  Because I needed a new audiobook and I loved Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Blurb from goodreads.

…a provocative novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest–a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy…

How does a READALONG work?  Mostly via Twitter (and likely Litsy and IG), I will be quoting bits and my reactions to stuff. All extremely informal. Take the month of  June. No timeline other than that. Use hashtag:  #StateOfWonder

Or comment here or write your own post. You can even write down on paper and mail to me if you would like. I love to write letters…

Take note of any PIE mentions, please. pierating

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Quick Update…

SO, um yea, THANKS! for the great comments and advice and good cheer.

I ended up reading a few more pages of Prologue to Love before admitting, “No, I do NOT like this dude.” and DNF for realz. I’m sad, though.

and Quiet just wasn’t doin’ it for me. Adios!

But I stuck with Hypocrite and let it audio itself all over my day while I packed and prepped for a weekend trip and then today finished it on a walk and a cool down. I really REALLY liked her essay on her visit to Poland and the concentration camps – gut punch. And I do ‘get’ her bit about the wedding industry and how we are all just a bunch of contradictions and it is best to recognize, laugh at and with and keep trying to figure this life stuff out as best we can. I give it three slices of pie and I don’t recall if she mentions pie or not.

AND!  the biggest result of releasing the guilt and pressure to continue books that are not capturing full attention is that I have read 3 eBooks since! A plane ride and insistence/determination to read my Kindle (damn thing, I really DO. NOT. LIKE. this archaic troublesome device thingie – I read as much on my phone and iPad) helped push me through three books that I gave four pie slices to and enjoyed mostly. All were quite different from each other:

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The Baker’s Daughter – Alternating timeline of a young German girl at the end of WW2 who marries a Texan. (also, must mention… there are recipes.)

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathon Evison – about a roadtrip of a 19-yo boy with his caregiver on the way from Washington state to Salt Lake City and the troubles each have before and along the way. Heartwarming, sad and humorous all wrapped up together.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – uneven but delightfully rompy. Recommended for anyone who likes far out weird crap and strong personalities battling other strong personalities while trying to find heart and soul amidst the chaos. Lots of humor and lots of ass-kicking with questions along the way that have answers that satisfy as best they can. Who doesn’t want to know an Erwin and want him on your team?

Not sure if I will write a post for each but just had to say thanks to the many commenting lovelies on the last post who recommended I MOVE ON ALREADY and so I did.

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Oh. What? You want to know what I am reading/listening to next?  I just opened and read the first few sentences of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and I believe I will be listening to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Anyone up for a June readalong of that? I’m not sure how much I will be able to listen in the next week so June might be perfect…

 
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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Is It Me? Or the Books?

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I don’t know if this is a reading slump or I am just reading three unappealing-to-me books all at the same time?

I suppose I would/should like a couple of these if I was in a better frame of mind or perhaps three books all at the same time of this competition is only making them all unpalatable?

Should I power through or give up and start something else?

Let’s chat, shall we?  and please advise.

The current three:  ptlbytc  qbysc hiapwdbysjg

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Prologue To Love is a paperback printed before I was born. The font is tiny, it has the slightly yellowed brittle paper feel and lovely old book scent. I had to tape the cover back on. There are over 750 pages. I’m told that this is loosely based on the true life story of Hetty Green, once the world’s richest woman – I’ve read a book on her and found it fascinating. One of those tales that reinforces the idea that lots of money can’t buy happiness. HUZZAH!

I’m just too turned off by the father of the main character; he is miserly, judgmental, obsessed with the creation of wealth but abhors the idea of spending ANY of it. (He lets his daughter live in a run down house with no heat nor extra blankets and lousy inadequate quantity of food?) I don’t have enough sympathy for him – I don’t get his quick critical thoughts about why he doesn’t like his nephew nor why he doesn’t like his own daughter and I don’t really care to find out. I’m sorry Bybee!

Prologue To Love! –> I declare you DNF’d.

Quiet just isn’t capturing my attention. I decide to go read, sit in a comfy chair or go out to the lounge area of my lovely backyard, and end up playing with Litsy, IG and Facebook on my phone. I’ll probably carry it around the house and misplace it a few more times before I give up on it. However, I’m thinking the reviews I have read have probably given me enough information on the subject.

Quiet! (With a Chainsaw?) –> Vote is still out…

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress is supposed to be a funny feminist book guaranteed to entertain. I’m not entertained. I’m bored. Maybe the narrator’s voice just isn’t quite right? No, she’s doing a fabulous job, but like coconut — you like it or you don’t. It’s possible that I’m still too early into it?  So far, it is still her childhood (the current essay is about her obsession with the Rolling Stones when she was 15.) I don’t know; it’s just not working.

Hypocrite! –> Playing in the background but I’m not listening.

The problem with audiobooked essay collections is that you can’t flip and skip around. Can I suggest that audiobook chapters start showing titles? Which bits of this book are the ones I shouldn’t miss? Should I save it for print? Yea, maybe I should get the book from the library and return this to Audible…

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While these three books are jockeying for some love, I am stalled… Release the guilt, release the books back into the wild or back to the shelf, move on.

Ok, NOW what should I read?!

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Thoughts gtiotmbyjb by James Baldwin, Blackstone Audio 2013 (orig 1953), 8 hours 45 minutes

Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.

Challenge: Personal
Genre: American classic, coming of age
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: This was the only audiobook I had on my phone at the moment I was ready to listen to a new one.

MOTIVATION for READING: I am curious. Baldwin is mentioned as an important writer and I had yet to read any of his work.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Not at all what I expected. I thought it was a going to be an essay on race relations in America. It’s fiction! I did not know it was fiction. I did not know it was semi-autobiographical. I was not prepared at all for this.

It is a story of a family and an individual family member grappling with his destiny against family history and expectations and cultural storms. It captures a certain place and time but the theme is universal.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing blew me away. Here’s the blurb from goodreads; bold red font emphasis is mine:

Go Tell It on the Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Powerful.

RATING: Four slices of pie. The narration is excellent.

“after dinner, they brought up the pie and coffee and cream…”

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Bean Trees

Thoughts tbtbybk by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperPaperbacks 1998 (orig 1988), 312 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name 9 wian2016
Genre: Young Adult
Type/Source: Mass Market Paperback / unknown
 Why I read this now: I wanted a small book to take on my travels.

MOTIVATION for READING: This book was on the 2014 list of recommended summer reading for the high school I subbed for in Massachusetts.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young girl who yearns to escape her confining small town in Kentucky takes off for grand adventures. The least of which is NOT that she is handed a baby somewhere in Oklahoma on her way to who-knows-where; so she just mosies on down the road with little thought about it whatsoever… Seriously, the more I reflect on her nonchalance about being just handed a baby and her taking off with zero thought or consideration of consequence exasperates me.

For a much more detailed synopsis and thoughtful review, read this by BooksPlease blog.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kingsolver is not without writing talent. She can probably write anything and make it believable. I really did enjoy the main character and many of the good-hearted people she has the fortune to meet on her journey.

What’s NOT so good: Keeping in mind that this is set in the 80’s – and likely the early 80s, it is just odd/difficult to think that the not-so-distant past really IS that far away and yet so relatable. Pay phones, cars that won’t start unless you pop the clutch, walking into a job at a hospital and handling blood on day one. Really?! It was discombobulating. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Kingsolver is also not shy about cleverly ranting about immigration policies and she skillfully grounds the story in the history of the time. The theme was all about creating your own family and being kind.

If I had known that the bean trees were really a reference to Wisteria, I probably would have read it sooner.

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RATING: Three slices of pie.

“The night before, she’d listened to the forecast and picked a mop bucket full of hard little marbles off the tomato vines, and this morning she had green-tomato pies baking upstairs. I know this sounds like something you’d no more want to eat than a mud-and-Junebug pie some kid would whip up, but it honestly smelled delicious.”

IMG_4777(This is a fried green tomato pimento cheese pie with a chocolate cream pie chaser.)

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Thoughts titsoahmbyap by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury 2013, 306 pages

Challenge:  none. A gift at Winter Holiday, via book bloggers book exchange. Thanks Bex!
Genre: Memoir, essays, nonfiction
Type/Source:  Tradeback/Wordery-Bex
 Why I read this now: Upon perusing the shelf, this sounded good.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (I really enjoyed Bel Canto – read for a book club way before blogging. It won the Orange and PEN/Faulkner in 2002.) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; this is a collection of a few of those articles from her past combined with new, fresh takes on life and love.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love her. From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact:  1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan and she is one of those authors that I hope to have the opportunity to meet/see/hear in person. I suppose I should put State of Wonder on my tbr – I had not yet because I had read a few reviews that made me consider it skippable. Now, I think I must reconsider that just because some don’t like her writing, I do. I have to find out if I am on the PRO SoW side of things. (Come to think of it, I wish I had suggested this for book club! but somehow, my gushings of I Capture the Castle had all the gals thinking they, too, want to read it. Which is cool. But a divisive book is so much more fun. Oh well..)

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Ms. Patchett and I are about the same age and we have a few things in common (we both like dogs and we both own The Pie and Pastry Bible) but we are also quite different. I like to read about strong women who carve their own path and enjoy adventure.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

“She loved to tell me a story about a doctor who ordered his piece of apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and how she refused to give it to him because it was illegal to serve pie with cheese in the state of Kansas because the combination was thought to be poisonous.”

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Notorious RBG

Thoughts nrbgbyicsk by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhinik, Dey St imprint of WmMorrow, 227 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Type/Source: Hardback, Library

MOTIVATION for READING: This Supreme Court Justice has always interested me. Everyone is raving about this book.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Apparently, and for perfectly wonderful reasons, RBG has captivated the hearts of many for her groundbreaking work in law and her thoughtful and sharp reasonings on cases appearing before the Highest Court. This short book tells a bit about her whole life – how she started and what she is doing now. It doesn’t go into much depth but just enough to get a sense for her character, her smarts, her sense of humor and her incredible work ethic.

RATING: I rated it 5 pie slices because I truly enjoyed learning more about the background and work of this amazing woman.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I Capture the Castle

Thoughts ictcbyds by Dodie Smith, Audible Studios 2006 (orig 1948), 12 hours 20 minutes

Narrated by Jenny Agutter – fabulous narration. A new favorite.

Challenge: Classics Club SPIN!
Genre: Classics, Romance, YA, Coming of Age
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now: classicsclub1Spin Time …

MOTIVATION for READING:  Lucky for me, this was my spin number.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A writer’s family takes up residence in an English castle but finances have dwindled while the writer no longer writes and his now ‘of age’ daughters desperately need options – and food and clothes and basic necessities of life. Whatever do you know! but a couple of eligible (and rich) young men happen to drop by.

Mayhem ensues. Sort of:  this phrase implies madcap hilarity and that doesn’t quite happen, but certainly the plot moves and spins and hops along nicely.

WHAT’s GOOD: Cassandra Mortmain is a dear.

What’s NOT so good: Not a damn thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Truly unequivocally charming.

I must warn you that if you are to read most synopsisesses (how do you plural synopsis?!) you might roll your eyes and respond with a weary “really?”. I know, I did. I have had this on my tbr forever and only put it there because other wonderful astute wise and worthy readers said I should read it. They said I would love it. Yea, yea, whatever. It took a LOOOONG time for me to really wonder if I truly would enjoy this sappy little kid romance. That’s what I thought it might be. But she’s NOT a little kid anymore! Cassandra is wonderful!! READ it.

And how did I not realize that Dodie Smith wrote other wonderful things? I had never heard of her and thought this was her one-trick. Stupid silly me. It’s a shame this book is obscured by a silly sounding premise. I don’t even know why I think the premise sounds so silly but it does and it’s a crying shame. Great read. Most enjoyable. I want to read it again. And I never re-read books. So I’ll content myself to watch the movie and watch it again, and again. And again.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

Ms. Jakes had sent up stew and apple pie. “Oh good. Stew is so comforting on a rainy day.” (and so is pie!)

NEXT:

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Orphan Train

Thoughts opbycbk by Christina Baker Kline, William Morrow Paperbacks 2013, 278 pages

Challenge:  Newcomers Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit? Historical Fiction?
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library (and then I received it as a gift! THEN, I sent it to my MIL.)
 Why I read this now: Club is Thursday May 5

Vivian is an elderly lady living in a big house all alone in Maine when, through the efforts of her housekeeper, she meets a High School foster kid named Molly who needs to do some service hours or be sent to juvie. Molly had attempted to steal a beat up copy of Pride and Prejudice from the library.

Molly is hard and bitter but she and Vivian find they have much to talk about as they go through Vivian’s boxes and trunks in the attic. Vivian finds a confidant and begins to tell Molly the stories of her life – stories she hadn’t had a chance or desire to ever share before.

Vivian was an Irish immigrant to NYC when a tragedy occurs and she is separated from her family. She ends up on a train to Minnesota with other orphans. The story is based on historical facts of the “Orphan Train” which shipped kids west to families that could support or use child labor and thus ‘save’ them from horrible fates of living on the streets and slums.

It’s a short book that offers a glimpse into how hard life was for everyone at the turn of the 20th century up through the Depression era. I wouldn’t call it a sentimental book but I did cry. I thought it ended rather abruptly and wanted to know more about the fate of Molly and Vivian in the present time line.

This was the second book I’ve read by Christina Baker Kline, the first being The Way Life Should Be. I might be a sucker for books set in Maine.

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RATING: Four slices of pie. Lots of pie references!  ‘Baking pies’ on one page, Sausage Pie on another page and then Rhubarb Tart…

“In places I have to crunch through the top layer of snow, [sic] as pie crust.”•
  • I don’t have the book and I think I typed the quote incorrectly. Is it THICK as PIE CRUST or was it SLICK as pie crust? Anyone have the book to verify? page 153…

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.