Thoughts oreobyfr by Fran Ross, A New Directions Paperback 2015 (orig 1974), 230 pages

Type/Source: Tradeback, 14 Day Library Reserve
 Why I read this now: I requested it from the library when the Tournament of Books 2016 Short List was announced.


WHAT’s it ABOUT: I don’t think I can begin to accurately describe everything nor even give a hint of what the book is about. Truly, much of it is over my head. But, ohwhattheheck — I’ll try: the story has a kickass lady protag who has a way with words and an admirable confidence in her abilities. Her name is Christine but her family calls her Oreo. She herself asks others to call her Anna. Her Jewish father and African American mother divorce when Christine/Anna/Oreo is still a baby. When she is in her early teens, she goes on a quest to find her father. Mythology, social commentary, feminism, racism, many languages, new-to-me words, made-up words, hybrid words and references many of which whooshed right by me – some I attempted to define which meant this book took me longer to get through but that is OK because I love finding out new things. Lots of situations and history that I didn’t relate to even when I did attempt to search. However, it is a fun and wild ride. I’ll link other reviews if this has you even remotely curious.

WHAT’s GOOD: Vocabulary? humor? Yes, let’s go with vocab and comedy.

What’s NOT so good: The fact that much went over my head… But what I did ‘get’, I enjoyed. It is extremely irreverent. She pokes fun at everything.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If I was a good and earnest student of literature, I would buy this book and read it again and again and again.

Pie Notes

Note #1. “Her sprachgefühl told her that Eric was stretching a point (or, rather, a wedge) and that the professor was perpetuating Partridge’s error by persisting in this pie-eyed usage.”

Define sprachgefühl : intuitive feeling for the natural idiom of a language.

Note #2. “as the train filled, the hardened travelers knew that it was pie-in-the-sky to hold out for a double seat,…”

Note #3. Apple pie with Oreo crust.

Note #4. “She ducked into a luncheonette, sat in a booth in the back, and ordered a hot sausage sandwich, a Shabazz bean pie and a Pepsi.”

RATING: Four slices of BEAN PIE. fourpie


Reviews: The New Yorker article by Danzy Senna (which is also the book’s Introduction), A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook, Teresa’s review at Shelf Love (she says “And so, this kooky story becomes a celebration of all identities.”). More reviews can be found here.


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.


Brave New World

Thoughts bnwbyah by Aldous Huxley, Blackstone Audio 2009 (orig 1932), 8 hours 5 minutes

Narrated by Michael York.

Challenge: Classics Club
Genre: Science Fiction – Dystopia
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible 2for1 Sale

MOTIVATION for READING: I needed a Classics Sci Fi and I can’t remember if I read it in High School.

A future where ‘they’ manufacture humans in baby factories and assign who will be the grunt workers and who will be the higher-up workers. The people in charge have doped everyone up with Soma, encouraging their consumerism and distractions of pleasant  activities, never pursuing ‘passions’. All art and drama and good books are things of the past.

I can’t say I enjoyed this story but I get why it is important as satire and commentary on society; a few issues we are still grappling with today.

Oh Good Ford! I thought it tedious, to be honest. It did have its moments. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for it.

RATING: Three slices of pie. I didn’t make note if pie was mentioned.

Thanks to one of the commenters on this post, I hereby link to an insightful post by Elaine’s Philosophy Thoughts comparing the prophecies of Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984.

I also appreciate Teresa’s review at Shelf Love. “The best dystopian novels include just enough that is familiar to make readers shudder in recognition.”

More reviews at Fyrefly‘s Book Blog Search for Brave New World.


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 Perfect Son

Thoughts tpsbybcw by Barbara Claypole White, Lake Union Publishing 2015, 386 pages

Challenge: none
Genre: Contemporary Lit, maybe even Med Lit if I dare subgenre it…
Type/Source: tradeback, purchased at an Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: I am due to meet the author next month. YIKES!

MOTIVATION for READING: I wanted to read a book by one of the authors presenting at an event I will be attending next month. I still have time to read a book or two from the other authors, too, and I just might!

OK – I got one of those odd stories where the hair stands up on the back of your neck… I was chatting with the husband about how the book I am reading had a pie reference and it was Chocolate Chess Pie – which is close to the kind of pie I made last week (Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie) and then?!

The bartender (yep, we were sitting at the bar waiting to meet friends for dinner), so the bartender says to a couple near us, “Yes, we have Chocolate Chess Pie.”

Hub and I just looked at each other all wide-eyed and frozen. It was … crazy!

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The Perfect Son might be about a couple who has a son with Tourette’s plus a few other disorders and is a brilliant adorable sweet and cute high school kid with an equally adorable best friend who is not perceived – visually – as sweet and cute because he has tattoos and blue/black hair (maybe, I can’t quite recall what his hair color was dyed to be but let’s imagine a goth kid – and is only contrast, really).  Or… And? The adorable son has a mom who has had a very severe heart attack. The adorable son has a control freak dad with his own issues who must now step it up and be a FATHER – the kind of father that is involved and caring. Everyone has to find a way to get along with this new lifestyle. It is anything but easy.

WHAT’s GOOD: Everything. I loved all the characters even though I thought I was going to hate the dad in the beginning because well, he is NOT likable (by design, duh) but he manages to control some of his demons and TRY. So many wonderful women in this. We really don’t get much of Mom, more of an idea of her through some of her thoughts but mostly from conversations with Dad and Son and mom’s friends interacting with said dad and son.

What’s NOT so good: I don’t want to suggest that I paused about half way and wondered what the conflict was going to be but I can gladly say it doesn’t really matter that I paused and had that thought. Right? And sure enough, we had the pace step up and wham! and we get the event for climax and a satisfying denouement and yay, all is well with the world. Well, that is too simple and isn’t accurate. I’d say more but I’ll spoil something and that is NO. FUN.  I’ll see if I can refrain from adding TMI in my tags… ha!

FINAL THOUGHTS: It’s good. I really liked it. I’m more than glad to have read it. I cried only a tiny bit.

LOTS of medical details about heart attacks and stuff involved with such and Tourette’s and anxiety and other things they give acronyms to but not ever presented in a tiring way. All well done.

RATING:  Four slices of Chocolate Chess Pie, of course! With whipped cream. (And I don’t care what the Brits say, SOME of the ‘real’ whipped cream in a can is awesome and gosh darn convenient.)




And, no, we didn’t get Chocolate Chess Pie for dessert. Fooled ya?! We had the Affogato instead…



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Books to Movie Edition 2016-1

Read It AND Saw It:  My most recent book-to-movie viewings…

The Painted Veil tpvbywsmMy book review. tpvfilm 2006. I enjoyed the movie and thought it beautiful and respectful of the story and setting and the ‘art of film’ – you could tell that the producers cared about a quality product. That said it wasn’t exactly faithful – a few new plot points added to add more physical drama – threat of war and revolution was more evident in the film. And I don’t think it was bad. Certainly, some of the conversations in the book are included word for word in the movie. Kitty’s transformation in the book was more powerful, though. And the ending is different but yet still the same. Kitty does come to understand. I declare both book AND movie QUITE GOOD, but again I have to say the old cliche “The book is better”. Edward Norton was a terrific Walter Fane. For anyone who liked the movie, I do hope you read the book! And then come tell me your thoughts…

The Giver tgbllMy book review 2009. tgfilm 2014. I liked the movie. Apparently I don’t remember the book because I was talking to my Senior-in-High-School neighbor who informed me, “They changed EVERYTHING!” So. The kids in the book are 12 but in the movie they are 18. Big difference! I liked Jeff Bridges and I thought our Memory Keeper boy did a decent job. Meryl Streep was harsh and humorless – ouch! Dystopia always has to have the buzz-kill control freak, amirite? The movie also seemed to end happily but I think I recall that the book ended on a cliff-hanger. Go with the book and let me know if you think I should read the next in the series… If nothing else, this YA (if not Middle School) duo of book-then-movie should spur terrific passionate discussion and I always think that is a good thing. Sometimes you need a bad thing to inspire the seeking of a good thing.

Mansfield Park mpbyja My review 2015. mpfilm1999. Skip the movie, read the book. The book was MUCH MORE entertaining! On the other hand, if you are a JaneAusten-ophile, you will probably find much to love with the movie. Personally, I thought it lacked all the humor and the annoyingness of the nutty characters. However, it was all pretty to look at, if you like period-piece old fussy British Austen adaptions. My two cents.

The Martian tmbyawa My review 2014martianfilm2015. Fun, fun, fun! Found both enjoyable. My husband – who points out to everyone how much of a nonreader he is – is also telling everyone that he devoured this book!! And that if he hadn’t read the book, he doesn’t think he would have liked the movie. He would have been lost. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem that the movie-going public who is enjoying the movie is having a problem – and I *AM* making the assumption that they ALL did NOT read the book first. Personally, I missed the humor of the book; the movie didn’t quite give it to me. Even if ‘they’ are calling this movie a comedy. Whatever. Does Matt Damon, on this movie poster, look creepy to you?


Saw it, didn’t read it…

Sicario – Ugh. Chilling. Hub thought it rather boring. I was terrified. (Not based on a book but people are recommending The Cartel by Don Winslow…)

Ex Machina – Yowza. Another nightmare-inducing (but captivating to watch) flick. (Not based on a book.)

The Grand Budapest Hotel – I loved it. (Not based on a book.)

rewatched:  The Imitation Gamealmost inspired to read more about Turing… (book “Alan Turing: The Enigma“)




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Thoughts webymhtph Whatever by Michel Houellebecq / translated by Paul Hammond, Serpent’s Tail / Profile Books Ltd 2011 (orig 1994), 155 pages

Challenge: 1001+ Books to Read Before You Die
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library 14-day Loan (oops – I started this on the 15th day… So I will owe a bit in late fees.)
 Why I read this now: It called to me when I glanced at the NEW BOOKS shelf at the library. Back in May 2008, I signed up for a challenge to read 1% of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die and I listed this book solely based on the title. It called to me, but I never got to it. So, of course, when I see this at the library while casually glancing at a shelf – I wasn’t even looking for anything specific! – I had to bring it home with me. And it is short. I’m into the shorties lately…

From Tony Litt’s Introduction:

Houellebecq’s first book was on HP Lovecraft.

Houellebecq hates office workers as does ‘the novel’.

The tone of Whatever is ‘beastly tired’.

The original title of Whatever was An Extension of the Domain of the Struggle.

“If you’re in search of page-turning plot-twistiness, fuck off.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT (with spoilers since I doubt anyone I know will ever read this book and/or just might because I spoil the heck out of it): Told in the first person, our protagonist is a computer programmer. Single and lonely. And bitter. He is assigned to train clients on a computer application and has to or gets to travel to other towns in France to do so. A coworker assists in the delivery of the  training. He experiences a mild heart attack. He is only 30 years old. He writes animal stories to amuse himself. He tries to convince the coworker to kill a beautiful young lady who turns him down at a club. The coworker ends up dying in a car crash. Our protag has a nervous breakdown and/or is admitted to a mental hospital. He gets released. The end. Not really. Let’s say it ends ambiguously.

WHAT’s GOOD: At times it is actually funny. Bitter insight to the absurdity of corporate work and the people who ‘work in offices’.  Other times, the reader winces at the misogyny and violent tendencies.

The theme could be summed up as “Life sucks and then you die.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: I guess I have to laugh and agree with these two review quotes:

From the Independent:  “Funny, terrifying and nauseating.”

From the Guardian: “the book slips down easily like a bad oyster.”

RATING:  Three slices of pie; I found mention of apple tart.

“His wife absolutely insisted I taste the apple tart her husband didn’t have the strength to swallow. I accepted; it was delicious.”

For something a little lighter maybe, enjoy this French song (and click here for the words in English):

Houellebecq’s most recent novel submission “is both a devastating satire and a profound meditation on isolation, faith and love. It is a startling new work by one of the most provocative and prescient novelists of today.” So says the goodreads blurb. (Cover links to that site.)



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Our Souls at Night

Thoughts osanbykh by Kent Haruf, Alfred A. Knopf New York 2015, 179 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2016 Short List
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: I had declared awhile ago of my interest; I reserved it at the library and it was now my turn.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: First let me tell you that I read the synopsis wrong or interpreted it incorrectly. Bear with me. I had thought it said that Addie Moore asked a neighbor to spend the night – not for physical contact but for conversation and a warm body of comfort in bed beside her. Hanky-panky was not what she had in mind despite and not caring what the town might have thought. This is all true.

But I had read LOUISE as the neighbor that Addie approached. It is clear from the very first page that  it was a Mr. Louis that she proposed her idea to. Uh, I had to have my world tilt a little. And that’s OK. And it doesn’t matter a hoot. It is still a lovely story about two people who come together and become friends and maybe something more; they treasure this new adventure – this experiment gone so beautifully well! But then outside influences must have their impact, their sway, their consequence considerations.

And I wonder amused at myself that if the story HAD gone with different gender exploration, somebody else reading it would probably have had a world-tilt. Either way, don’t we love a book to deliver tilts and shifts and new ways to look at things?

WHAT’s GOOD:  Sparse. Quick and subtle character development, effortless prose. I seem to mention pace a lot lately; this one was perfect. Fun and inquisitive at first, then happy and sunshine and smiles; but a turn, a slight ominousness seeps in and we know something not good is going to happen. Not foreshadowed exactly, but something clues us in to be wary and sure enough: UGH! We want to scream and get involved and WHAM! the book is over because it is less than two hundred pages.

FINAL THOUGHTS: We marvel at how much this short novel contains in its few pages. OK, when did I start saying WE?



I know this country somewhat – where this book is set. I lived in Kansas and I married a guy from Nebraska. I have relatives in Colorado. I’ve driven Interstate 70 and I’ve loved the fast speed on Interstate 80. I know this land as a frequent visitor. I have no idea where I’m going with this… I felt like I knew this town. But I expect Haruf made many readers feel like they knew his town of Holt Co (apparently he has set many a book  there – it’s fictional but very much ‘on the map’.) He was a celebrated author and this is his final book gift to the world.

Basically, this book is a study of friendship and the influences of family – who do we invite to BE family and how does that evolve? Can it really only be about two people’s relationship?

Who does ever get what they want? It doesn’t seem to happen to many of us if any at all. It’s always two people  bumping against each other blindly, acting out of old ideas and dreams and mistaken understandings.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I take away from all these books I read. Maybe I’m reading too many too fast. Tiny Beautiful Things really impacted this, too – Strayed referenced stories and poems throughout and she shared the lessons and meanings that literature have shaped her philosophies of life. She recommended a year off to just read poetry would be SO VALUABLE and it makes me question what I am doing with my story knowledge; what is this preparing me for? Am I doing life right? What am I achieving? I don’t read for entertainment solely, why exactly AM I reading what I’m reading? Part of this navel-gazing exercise is also forced upon me by my job search and a resume review I got last week about how it shows that I am a doer but not an achiever. Pissed me off. Ok, your turn. What do I do with all this crap in my head?

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentions that I noticed. (I did see a cake mention and had the wondering of why Addie hadn’t baked a pie. But that’s OK. She can make cake if you wants.)


Have you read Our Souls at Night? I haven’t read any other reviews of it but I know lots and lots of people love it. Are you one of those? What did YOU take away?




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BBAW Save-the-Date

Book Blogger Appreciation Week

BBAW0216  <– click this button to SIGN UP.


Day 1 – FEB 15 – Introduce yourself by telling us about five books that represent you as a person or your interests/lifestyle.

Interesting enough, I just updated my goodreads profile to say that my Top 5 favorite books are The Book Thief, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gilead, The Stone Diaries, and The History of Love. I will wait til the official Mid-Feb date to explain why these might represent me or you can tell me what you think this means! It is very possible I will have a different group of 5 as ‘top’ by then, too…

Day 2 – FEB 16 – Interview Day! If you choose to be part of the interviews (just say YES on the form linked above) you’ll be assigned a fellow blogger to chat with and post about. I SAID YES!

Day 3 – FEB 17 – What have you read and loved because of a fellow blogger? (Snort. This could be a loooooong post… I have time to think about it.)

Day 4 – FEB 18 – How do you stay connected to the community? Examples: social media, regular commenting, participation in blog events, etc. Tell us your faves!

Day 5 – FEB 19 – One of the unfortunate side effects of reading and blogging like rockstars seems to be a tendency toward burnout. How do you keep things fresh on your blog and in your reading?

Big THANK YOU to Andi, Heather, Jenny and Ana.




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Tiny Beautiful Things

Thoughts tbtbycs  by Cheryl Strayed, Vintage Books 2012, 355 pages

Challenge: None, just read because I wanted to.
Genre: Advice, nonfiction
Type/Source: Tradeback, Library
 Why I read this now: No idea.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a compilation of the responses to letters sent to the online Dear Sugar advice column at The Rumpus. I suppose I should go look to see if The Rumpus is still a thing – I had never heard of it. Seems to be! It’s linked here if you want to verify it, too. Are they the precursor to Book Riot?

Anyway, let’s talk about Cheryl.

She’s amazing, I’ve decided.

You may think otherwise based on my review of her memoir Wild about walking the Pacific Crest Trail as grief therapy and to find herself after she ‘lost her way’ when her mother died. You might think my opinion of her raised a bit after I gave a favorable review of Wild, the movie, starring Reese Witherspoon. (Only if I really did say it somewhere; I do think it was an excellent adaption — maybe even a better-than-the-book.)

The point is, the answers to the letters sent to Sugar are amazing. I found so much to admire and laugh with; I was moved to tears often and touched profoundly by Sugar’s capacity to use words of compassion balanced with firmness. She never judged. I was most impressed.

I felt Something.

To students in her memoir writing class: “What happened in this story? What is this story about?”

You get no points for living, I tell my students. It isn’t enough to have had an interesting or hilarious or tragic life. Art isn’t anecdote. It’s the consciousness we bring to bear on our lives. For what happened in the story to transcend the limits of the personal, it must be driven by the engine of what the story means.

RATING: Five slices of banana cream pie.

“I hope one of you will really bake me a pie (banana cream, please).”





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Fun Stuff (Think FOOD)

Husband and I were watching the Food Network as we often do and some show with some person I didn’t recognize made this INCREDIBLY easy soup!  We had it for lunch – it was WONDERFUL!

Incredibly Easy Three Ingredient PEA Soup

Really! I encourage you to try it. And of course, the ‘three ingredient’ bit is click-bait but who counts water and salt as ingredients?!  Water – Peas – Olive Oil – Seasonings = done and delicious.

Other news:  TODAY, January 17th is LETTER WRITING DAY. I will be writing to Jill, Emily, Cherlyn and probably my Auntie Lil. (I’ve been sending Auntie postcards of the Christmas Card pretties that I cut off from the cards… the ones that are not exactly Christmas-y but more snowy and good-feelings. Like PEACE.)

Pssst – it is snowing as I type this!


January 23rd is PIE DAY! or was, rather, it used to be? The American Pie Council LAST YEAR declared this day as such but this year they have decided to throw their support to March 14 as the official Pie Day. Ok, whatever, I don’t know how/why Jan 23 was selected anyway and true, the momentum for celebrating PIE with PI has certainly been building and growing. But I’m sad, too. So I will be making a pie on Jan 23. I’m thinking a Chocolate Cream. Mmmmmmmmmm

Have a wonderful week, my friends!


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The Map of True Places

Thoughts tmotpbybb  The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry,  Wm Morrow an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 2010, 407 pages

Genre: Women’s Lit
Type/Source: Hardback – Library
 Why I read this now: For my neighborhood book club

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A psychiatrist loses a patient to suicide and learns to care for her ailing father. Secrets about her parents may or may not have been revealed to all. People are not what they seem.

WHAT’s GOOD: This tale is carefully constructed and then carefully dismantled in the telling. Lots of references to literature and also with Barry’s prior book (The Lace Reader) due to same setting and if I recall correctly, a few same minor characters. The author manages to throw a lot in this book and manages to connect all the dots.

What’s NOT so good: Almost too calculated. The secrets, though they may have surprised me somewhat, were not shocking, and had some of that peeking behind the curtain feel. I never got invested in the protagonist but I did like many of the characters.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I liked this better than The Lace Reader. I can see how this would be highly rated by readers who love these kinds of stories. I like things a bit more edgy and philosophical; less played out by the following of a plan. That’s just me.

A solid three star – I liked it. It certainly had that can’t-put-it-down grip on me that makes reading fun.

RATING: Three slices of blueberry pie.

“Pies made from wild blueberries were left on the doorstep by neighbors whose families had summered on the island for generations.”




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