Fun Stuff – Quick Share

Hello Friends! Where ya been? oh, sorry… it is ME that’s gone missing?

oops. YEP

OK, so I thought it best to get back in the swing of things but just sharing a few fun quick tidbits. Nothing fancy, nothing deep. Here we go:

Besides stating that my reading has been feast or famine, I’ll just go with the lil things that bring me joy. Here are two situations that are related because they are both LETTER_WRITING related. Actually, it is not wrong to state that whenever I can’t think what to do with myself, I sit with my blank paper and stamps and zip off a quick letter to someone.

First, I have to tell you about my pen pal Nancy. It’s quite possible you know Nancy – she has been in my life for awhile. In fact, we’ve meet in person twice. But that first time was a d o o z y! I zipped off to Charleston SC because she asked for someone to share a vacation spot with her on a trip. I’ve already forgotten how long ago but it was instant friendship-goodness and we had a great time. Then she came up to Boston with me on a trip because she wanted to introduce me to her favorite author – Simon!

We have plans to get together yet again this year, probably October or November. I’ve never been to Mississippi! I’m going to her house this time.

OK, all that but that is not what is exciting me today. All that is background.

Today, I received confirmation that an IDEA I had was successful. I discovered that a town in Oklahoma received my order for stamps AND forwarded on a letter I posted to Nancy. I wanted Nancy to have a letter with a cancellation from that town. THAT part I actually don’t know if was successful – hoping the town had a cool cancellation!! Will have to wait till Nancy weighs in.

I got a nice note with my package. I sent a lovely review.

Nancy? Care to weigh in your view of this?

The second cool fun quick tidbit of sharing is . . . .

I also received a letter today from Stef. Stef of A Stone in the River. I have to say, this woman is brilliant. She inspires me. She loves life, she loves sharing of thoughts-ideas-knowledge that make the world a better place. She often tells of how the world can be better and she shares how she is actively working to make our world incredibly better. Our world IS better because she is in it. I am better because of her influence and touch on my place and how I live in my place. Bless her.

Anyhoo. She has a sense of humor! of course she does!!!! (she puts up with me and the challenges therein LOL)

Here’s what we are up to this 2023. Actually, we may have started this last year, but I am so off track on our simple yet amusing correspondence idea that I really have no real sense what is going on anymore. But wow does it give me laughs and thus joy.

Today’s letter was chock full of goodness. WOW

I pitched the idea of an alphabetic reply-response. Easy, right? One sends a letter with “A” in mind and the reply is one with “B” in mind. Free form, no rules. Just hilarity. (ahem, “H” word)

Because NOW!?!??! somehow, we are off the rhythm. And it is all on me! I can’t even remember what I did first that messed it up, but I just got her “H” letter. And I swear, just sent her the “I” letter. Doesn’t I come after H? do I now reset and get back on track with a “J” letter? or re-send another “I”? HOW DID THIS HAPPEN!?

She didn’t call me out on my mistake so now I have to wonder if the “I” letter even arrived? or, perhaps, she saved it until after she sent the “H” letter.

ANYWAY-AGAIN – – the “H” letter was HILARIOUS! HEAVENLY! So HOPPING Happy Heartwarming and Heroic,

I actually don’t know what to do.


Well, huh. JOY is a word that starts with the letter “J”!






A Gathering of Old Men

Thoughts by Ernest J. Gaines, Vintage Books Random House 1983, 214 pages

Challenge: Classics Club SPIN due April 19, 2023

Genre/Theme: Adult Literature / Race Relations

Type/Source: Tradeback / Library

What It’s About: Set in the 70s in rural Louisiana, this tale looks at friendship and loyalty, race relations, changing times that rail against ingrained attitudes, and dreams versus regrets. What a fabulous telling! Tautly paced, calm before coming dreaded storm, we get quick glimpses of real people and all treated relatively respectfully. Well done Author Gaines, a master of story craft.

A man is shot dead and friends rally around the man assumed to have done the deed because he has always been a rock to his beliefs, standing up for my himself. So all the old men grab similar shotguns, shoot and bring the spent shells so that “proof” of who done it is not so easily conclusive. The dead man is white, the group confessing to the killing are all black, except for the white woman who also wants to protect and rally for her own rules of justice (which is not in agreement with the sheriff.

All are more in fear of the family, the father and friends of the dead man coming to claim their own brand of justice. The sheriff is also hoping that won’t happen, but can he stop it?

“I ran out on the front garry and seen it was Miss Merle, and looked like a heavy load just fell off my shoulders.”

Thoughts: This was tense and well plotted. I loved seeing all the perspectives and outlaying of viewpoints black and white, the hopes and dreams over the decades that brought all these people to this point. I am looking forward to watching the movie. It’s got a great cast.

To be honest, I had no prep and it was challenging to figure out with certainty who was white and what was their role and relation to the community and who was black; when it came to the side players and how Gaines introduces everyone, I was challenged and I appreciate that. I really admired the subtleties.

Rating: I think I might raise my rating at a 5 slice of pie. Apple pie is mentioned rather frequently. Could pie be a metaphor? That we assume pie can heal the worlds ills and yes, why can’t it? Sadly, this situation is not easily fixed by apple pie but the ending was more positive than I ever expected.

I had Lucy bake me an apple pie, because I knew how much Jack just liked his apple pie. I told Lucy when she came to work that morning if she baked me the best apple pie she ever baked in her life, I would give her half the day off.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Classics Club Spin March 2023 #ccspin #MyCCSPINList

Time for another Spin! #33 – Number reveal 3.19 – Read by 4/30/2023

UPDATE!  The number 18 was selected so I will be reading Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men.

Click the image above to go to the announcement post.

Will update later with the selected spin number which will identify the book I need to read…

My Spin List:

1 Villette
2 Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northrup
3 Confederacy of Dunces – JKToole
4 the Counterfeiters
5 Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City
6 A Few Green Leaves – B. Pym
7 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – PK Dick
8 Under the Greenwood Tree – Hardy
9 The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
10 At the Mountains of Madness – Lovecraft
11 Pale Fire – Nabokov
12 The Once and Future King – TH White #OaFKingalong on Litsy
13 Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
14  The Good Soldier – Ford M Ford
15 Death Comes for the Archbishop – W.Cather
16 Rabbit, Run – Updike
17 All Passion Spent – Vita Sackville West
18  A Gathering of Old Men – Ernest Gaines
19 The King Must Die – Mary Renault
20 The Way We Live Now – Trollope

Here’s hoping 12 hits – GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!


Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mouth to Mouth

Thoughts by Antoine Wilson , Harper Collins Publishers 2022, 248 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Adult Literature / Mystery-Thriller?

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Indie bookstore

What It’s About: Our narrator runs into an acquaintance from college and they have a drink (or ten) while waiting on delayed flights. The college dude tells everything that has happened to him since they last saw each other.

The quick plot – and I must say the that the format of the story as a retelling is part of the “WHA?!“- do we trust this guy? Why shouldn’t we? Anyway, he graduates and thinks he is going to marry his long time sweetie but she dumps him. He’s morose, goes to sit at the beach before dawn and wa la! Someone is drowning. Our dude saves him, then stalks him, then gets a job in the guy’s art gallery, then falls in love with the guy’s daughter. Till finally, they go on a ski trip and someone (the guy, the drowning survivor) does NOT survive an incident – a heart attack? on a challenging slope. The end.

Not quite.

Thoughts: Storms the castle! Charms the Queen – Marries the Princess – Becomes the King. (I think it was Ruthiella who described the plot in this way.) I was quite liking this through most of it; as I encountered interesting (high-falutin’) vocabulary choices and the curious way the story was unfolding. But wham-O! Not sure what I think of the ending. It felt . . . cheap, somehow.

Rating: I think I first-impulse gave this 4 stars in goodreads, NOPE — it shows I didn’t rate it at all. But my personal google sheet track shows 4. I’m resetting to 3.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Now is Not the Time To Panic

Thoughts by Kevin Wilson, Harper Collins Publishers 2022, 248 pages

Challenge: #ReadICT category time

Genre/Theme: Adult Literature / Childhood friendship, Coming of Age

Type/Source: eBook / Libby

What It’s About: Frankie is 16 and never been kissed. She doesn’t have any friends but unlike what you might expect, she is not a sniveling feelin’-sorry-for-herself, annoying wretch. She is just perplexed. She meets a new kid at the pool during the first week of summer vacation and they hit it off. This also, is rather perplexing. Is he a boyfriend? What do they “DO” exactly? Well, it turns out they secretly spawn mayhem and world confusion! It’s called ART, people! Of course, most don’t get it. And they are not about to attempt to explain.

Also, subnote, Frankie has a half-sister that was given her name. Yep, her dad had an affair, left her mother, spawned a child, a girl, and gave her the SAME NAME as his already born living now-abandoned daughter. I find this perplexing and F%&#-up.

And when Junie burst into the room, holding a half-full box of Milk Duds, absolutely zooted on sugar and instantly explaining the plot of the movie they just saw, I thought, Oh, thank god.

Thoughts: I adore Kevin Wilson. He is an excellent story builder; with lovable smart characters. He adds some delicious comedy but keeps it real. Loved this.

Rating: I think I first-impulse gave this 4 stars in goodreads, but as I write this, I think I just might have to give it a big ol’ FIVE. Hey, it has Oatmeal Creme Pie snacks, so why the hell not?

“I decided I wanted some of those Little Debbie snack cakes, and my mom brought over two boxes, Star Crunch and Oatmeal Creme Pies, and I ate two of each very quickly, and for some reason this made my mom smile.”

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mid-February Mini-Reviews 2023

Summing up January – I read 10 books and reviewed ALL of them here at this Books and Pie blog. I then slacked on the slide into February? So I’ll do some mini-reviews of the 5 books read so for:

My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi Challenge: for TOB2023 and fits #ReadICT categories of Time and LGBTQIA+

My favorite of today’s post, this has been considered Science Fiction and I might put it into the Mythology genre. In 2016, a volcano rises out of the lake in Central Park and becomes a global story. We meet lots of interesting people and follow their reactions and adventures. It’s quite wacky!! at times comic, at times somber – the chapters are interrupted by names of victims of 2016 incidents, often police brutality and mass violence. It is set across time, multiple time realities; it dips back and forth, and includes a time travel storyline of a boy who goes to 16th century Mexico. Not at all melodramatic, all the characters inspired positive reactions and I was invested in hope they all end up OK. A morality tale to wake up and pay attention? Four slices of pie, no pie mentioned.

Zenith Man by Jennifer Haigh Challenge: #WiaN2023 QXZ category / Audible

Selected because it was free and I recognized the author’s name – this is my first experience of her work. The goodreads reviews are NOT HAPPY that she published this and never attributed that it is based on a true story; some feel she stole it. It was VERY short; I had originally assumed it was a full-length fiction novel.

It’s about a man who is accused of killing his wife because no one in town even knew he HAD a wife! She never ever left the house and had zero contact with other people. How does that even happen in today’s world?! Fascinating but not that fascinating. Three slices of pie, “cookies and pie” mention.

Manhunt by Gretchen Felker-Martin Challenge: for TOB2023, #ReadICT LGBTQIA+ category / Audible

I had originally decided that this book was NOT going to be my cup of tea – that if I read the first 10 pages or so, I could satisfactorily cross it off the list. But then I ended up with physical books of all my remaining TOB unreads — except this one, and had one credit to burn at Audible. I couldn’t not listen to this audiobook! – especially, considering how many of this year’s slate have been books that I just couldn’t give proper due. (I want my Completist status, at least, to be considered TRUE EFFORT) so … and DONE! However. I sped this up to 200% for the last third or so until the last 30 minutes. I think I got (had?!) enough of it. Three slices, only raspberry pi technology mentioned.

In your face sex and violence with trans-representation.

Challenge: for TOB2023 / Audible

A very interesting book, a short book, with one man experiencing a current crisis that provokes memories of past trauma, and trying to hold on the best he can. The ending is a gut punch!

Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley Challenge: for TOB2023 / eBook / Libby

I didn’t give this book the attention it deserved. I wanted to be totally captivated but I was distracted by book-slump-disease, too-many-books-at-once-disorder, and guilt. I ended up reading reviews that praised it and I would go back and read 2-3 pages before life intervened and I was off doing something else. I ended up giving it the skim-skip, touching here and there to keep the story-thread alive if possible and then, finally, I read the ending. BAD CARE. I called it done and now apologize to the author and my readers that this “time and place” was not this book’s ‘day‘. BUT I do promise to watch for this author and read her next (this was her debut and she wasn’t even 20 when she wrote it!) Perhaps, I will come back and read Nightcrawling with full attention in the future. I am giving it 4 slices. Yes, it had pie! Sweet potato pie.

It shouldn’t be a crime to be poor in America.

“My hands are resting on the glass counter, the sweet potato pie symmetrical and staring up at me, taunting.”

Chocolate Cherry Pie made for the Super Bowl and because February 20 is Cherry Pie Day. YAY Chiefs!

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Book of Goose

Thoughts by Yiyun Li, Macmillan Audio 2022, 9 hours 2 minutes, narrated by Caroline Hewitt

Challenge: for TOB 2023

Genre/Theme: Adult Literature / Childhood friendship

Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible

“SOMETIMES YOU HEAR PEOPLE say so-and-so has lived well, and so-and-so has had a dull life. They are missing a key point when they say that. Any experience is experience, any life a life. A day in a cloister can be as dramatic and fatal as a day on a battlefield.”

What It’s About: A French woman who married an American and moved to the US, never had children, tended to her garden and her geese… receives a letter that drops news from the old village that her childhood Fabienne died in childbirth. She reminisces and shares the story of her relationship and adventures with Fabienne. I probably missed some things because I wasn’t captivated by it at all.

Thoughts: I decided about half way that I didn’t care for the characters and I didn’t care what happened to them, as I wondered really where the story was going. So I skipped through the chapters and sampled some words, connected a few dots along the way, listened to the end and said FINIE!

Rating: Two slices of pie. No pie mentioned. I’m sure this went over my head and I failed to give it proper due. I was not in the mood for a meandering mean girl tale. Many reviews compare this to My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. I wasn’t enamored by that one, either. It’s me.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

All Quiet on the Western Front

Thoughts by Erich Maria Remarque, Random House Trade 2013 (orig 1928), 227 pages, translated from the German by A.W. Wheen

Challenge: for Classics Club 50 list #2, #WiaN2023 – Category QXZ in title

Genre/Theme: War – WW1

Type/Source: Trade Paperback / Library

“We are little flames poorly sheltered by frail walls against the storm of dissolution and madness, in which we flicker and sometimes almost go out…we creep in upon ourselves and with big eyes stare into the night…and thus we wait for morning.”

What It’s About: Paul is 20 years and realizing his time on the front will permanently impact any hopes of his having any “normal” life, assuming he survives the horror, the filth, the lice, and the inhumanity.

“This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of men who, even though they may have escaped shells, were destroyed by the war.”

Thoughts: This was beautifully written and struck me hard.

Rating: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

“We are not youth any longer. We don’t want to take the world by storm. We are fleeing. We fly from ourselves. From our life. We were eighteen and had begun to love life and the world; and we had to shoot it to pieces.”

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

2 A.M. in Little America

Thoughts by Ken Kalfus, Highbridge 2022, 256 pages/ 6 hours 25 minutes, narrated by BJ Harrison

Challenge: for TOB2023, #WiaN2023 – Category punctuation

Genre/Theme: Speculative Fiction

Type/Source: audiobook / Audible

What It’s About: Ron Patterson is American but America is no longer a safe place to live. He is a migrant worker, trying to survive, trying to find a country who will allow him to live within its borders. Americans are often not welcome.

Thoughts: When I said Babel was “ambitious, carefully crafted, clever work”, I could say the same of this; much slighter in size but equally thoughtful of its elements and construction. However, this one needs more discussion and clarification to explain to me what Kalfus was trying to do! or rather, why he chose what he did to tell this story.

Ron comes across as a good guy, trying to keep his head done, to go along to get along and be left alone. But he suffers from faceblindness — usually or only memorably when applied to women. Other reviews state this to be on purpose; to show his confusion and wish that he could go home to America/motherland aka MOTHER. Yet others call this blatant disregard and disrespect for women. I can’t figure out where I stand on trying to understand that dichotomy. It is suggested that the confusion of being a migrant and not having personal identity – to be always grouped into that “MIGRANT = unwanted” category was what Kalfus was attempting to show. Yea, I dunno.

What would happen if America descended into civil war and became a violent unruly unsafe scary place to live? How would the world treat Americans?

This book had violence and many unnamed elements – some places were described but never identified. But Target the retailer and McDonalds, and Skittles even, were named as super-American things of the past. (One review stated that Target is a supporter of the publisher and this was total name placement for marketing purposes! That makes me laugh but I don’t not doubt it!!)

Points in its favor was that I kept listening, I was interested and curious and gave enjoyable time to the THINKING-ABOUT – rather than being frustrated. Weird when that happens, right? Why do some unknowns frustrate and vagueness/confusion in other situations be of intrigue? #shrug

Rating: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.


Thoughts by R.F.Kuang, Harper Audio 2022, 545 pages/ 21 hours 46 minutes, narrated by Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Billie Fulford-Brown – fabulous!

Challenge: TOB2023, #ReadICT: FULL TITLE: Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution — one that would be an excellent fulfillment to the long title category, but also works for the Secret Society category…

Genre/Theme: Historical Fantasy

Type/Source: audiobook / Audible

What It’s About: A young Chinese orphan boy is taken from Canton and becomes the ward of a noted Oxford professor of languages at the revered Translation department aka Babel. Mayhem ensues. OK, not really — Well, it takes a few years; eventually, young Robin begins his studies in the heralded translation school and makes friends, finds truths, and learns the ways of the world. This book is dense, transportative [boo – I’m being warned that this isn’t actually a word but I say it IS], linguistically-entrancing, at times comic and at times a teensy-weensy melodramatic. But hey! it is Victorian England. I’m keeping transportative. AND melodramatic. It works.

“This is how colonialism works. It convinces us that the fallout from resistance is entirely our fault, that the immoral choice is resistance itself rather than the circumstances that demanded it.”

Thoughts: This is an ambitious, carefully crafted, clever work of Historical Fantasy – showing how colonial capitalism is oppressive, but also exploring the concepts of language itself from beginning to its ever-always updating-changing & morphing into a slippery power struggle for those who attempt to own it all.

Word nerds should love it. I am finding my appreciation for it growing as I attempt to write this and yet… it does has its flaws. It is long. I grew tiresome of the main character’s inner doubts and confusion that contrasts with his daring-do only a page or minute before. Still, I never skipped! (I may have zoned out or paid more attention to traffic in a necessary safety moment or two since I was audio-driving most of it.)

“How strange,’ said Ramy. ‘To love the stuff and the language, but to hate the country.’

‘Not as odd as you’d think,’ said Victoire. ‘There are people, after all, and then there are things.”

But I loved the ending. I loved that this ends with the struggle continuing! OF COURSE! Being set in the 1830s, addressing most of the world’s ills, and knowing history since,…. of course the struggle continues. Shall we suspect a setup for a sequel? One I just might read. If you notice that I don’t even mention the fantasy portion [silver bars magically powered by words], it was not a heavy feature but a significant metaphor perhaps. Am I right or wrong to consider it as such? Don’t know. I’ll just say it worked for me and it didn’t distract nor take up all the oxygen in the book.

Rating: Four and a half slices of pie.

“something something something…. caught with his thumb in a pie… something something”

HEY. I was driving! I can’t capture quotes when I’m driving! audible should make this easier… it shouldn’t be this hard to capture a note and have it become a goodreads update somehow…

I learned about the word STRIKE. I learned about the word NICE. I learned and geeked out on a lot of the language-y things. And the audio had footnotes in a different WONDERFUL voice offering the updates/history/pronunciation/etc. The main narrator was AMAZING, too. Well done. I would, if I had had the time to make this a project, done the eBook with audio to get the full of everything.

Copyright © 2007-2023. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.