Category Archives: Audio

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.

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Babel

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.

Summary Post for 2022

Total Books read: 100+ (and yes, I read all the short little ones to make it to this century mark!)

Pages read: 27,952 ………………………………2021: 29,419
Average pages per book: 274……………………………..241
Average pages per day: 77……………………………….81

Hours listened: ~240
Audiobooks count: 33

My TOP 22 in the year 2022:

Top Ten: City of Girls, Brown Girl Dreaming, Autumn, Lucy by the Sky, Lessons in Chemistry, Five Tuesdays in Winter, Dinosaurs, The Sentence, Trust, This Time Tomorrow

I’m so pleased that these hit many different genres and categories!

Random Stuff:

29 FIVE SLICES OF PIE
53 FOUR
16 THREE
3 TWO
0 ONE
(These are spookily similar to last year!)

Books read that were over 400 pages: 13

REALLY ODD to me that I didn’t read any true chunksters (>500) this year. #Shrug

Female to Male Ratio: 72 / 26 (~12 of that 26 being US or Brit white dudes…)
Total Books by New-to-Me Authors = 42 (compared to 72 last year)
Repeat Authors = 34
Total Books by Authors of Color/LGTBQ+ = 26 (best guess estimate – didn’t do thorough research into backgrounds, assumptions might have been made)

Oldest Book: 1850 – Sonnets from the Portuguese by EBB

Number of Books Pub’d in 2022: 32 (and 27 pub’d in 2021!, 67% pub’d in the last 3 years!!!)
Books over 25 years old = 10 – over 50 years old = 7

Hardcovers 22
eBooks 19
Audiobooks 33
Tradeback 26
paperback 1
. . . . . . . . also spookily similar to last year.

Genres
Total Adult Fiction Books Read = 46
Total YA Fiction Books Read = 1
Children’s = 2
Total Memoir Books Read = 12
Total Nonfiction Books Read = 22
Short Story / Essays = 3
Poetry = 5
Mystery/Thriller = 2
Translated = 2
Fantasy = 1
SciFi = 1
Historical Fiction = 8
Cookbooks = 0
Adventure = 0
Business = 1
Graphical = 1

Number of debuts: 10 (best guess)
Best debut: Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Number of books read on the list of 1001 Books to Read Before You Die: 2
The Optimist’s Daughter
Giovanni’s Room

(this is a very low count for me. eeeek)

Interesting Coincidences – How many time the word TOMORROW was in the book titles this year! This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub, Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Books that mentioned pie: 47

And…  the Care’s Books & Pie 2022 Pie in Literature Award goes to:

Four books vie for the title this year, let me explain.

The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks by E.Lockhart. has considerable space devoted to a cross-country adventure eating at pie shoppes along the way. Who wouldn’t LOVE that? However, it wasn’t til I had completed the book that I realized that Lockhart was an author of a book I loathed. (We Were Liars. UGH)

True Biz by Sara Novic has a bit about a character wearing a Miss Sweet Potato Pie costume!

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek has multiple mentions of pie and also features a town dance where eligible young ladies bring a tempting pie to attract a future husband. Pivotal pie plot point, methinks.

The Rabbit Hutch features a diner that has a pie theme – but not any old pie theme: Avant Garde pie: new and unusual  — which is ME! and how I came into my pie passion.

drum roll, please

.

.

.

And the winner goes to The Rabbit Hutch! weird pie wins hands down, all day every day. I only wish we could have had more descriptions.

Best Pie Quote:

“I left a slice of pie in my desk drawer,“ she said mournfully. “It’s probably halfway to the moon by now.”

Subdivision by J.Robt Lennon

Into the Abyss

Thoughts by Carol Shaben, Hachette Audio, 10 hours 1 minutes, Narrated by Tiffany Morgan

Challenge: ICT Book Club

Genre/Theme: NonFiction; Overcoming Challenges, Surviving Tragedy

Type/Source: both library and Audible, because I can never manage to do one or the other…

What It’s About: Four men survive a plane crash during horrid snowy weather in Canada. Six people on the flight do not make it. This is the story of that night, what happened leading up to it and its aftermath.

Thoughts: I was extremely impressed with the journalistic research skills that Shaben put into use to create and share this story. She managed personal insights to give it that uniquely sensitive touch and … okay – you all got that from “personal insights” and I’m going with it. (Her father was one of the survivors.) I must say, WELL DONE in crafting the story layout and digging for tidbits that felt real and relevant with out being exploitative. WELL CRAFTED beginning to end.

Gosh, being human is extraordinary AND ordinary. And personal. AND all business. What struck me the most might be unusual, tell me if you agree or not, but the idea that we only care about others when tragedy strikes, hurts me & amazes me. We don’t do well with frustration and despair BEFORE a possible tragedy, in my opinion. I get it, it is a delicate balance! Paranoia or indulgence – is that what capitalism makes us question? It is awful. Seriously, if the pilot was not so overworked, and had been able to have a co-pilot, the crash could very likely been averted, but … NO! Think of the cost of the lives, the investigations, the inquests, the consequences! My heart hurts.

The stories that the 4 survivors live before and after bring up so many questions about fate and attitude and opportunity. No answers are given. It was all quite fascinating.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Pie is mentioned! The HERO of the story, who is the least injured and provided the life-saving tasks and efforts to help the others survive, too, has a mention about peeling apples and requesting a pie be made.

I asked our book club to suggest or consider a nonfiction pick for this month’s read and I’m glad to have read this one. It really made me think about what is possible, no matter what happens.

 

⧫ November ⧫ 2022 ⧫ Recap

HA! WP just prompted me to share 5 things I’m good at…

  1. Maintaining a passion for writing letters
  2. Being a pie ambassador
  3. Loving on the dogs
  4. Keeping up with this blog, even if inconsistently
  5. Picking myself back up when I fall

 Monthly Recap Time! November

  • 5 books; 91 for the year
  • 1317 pages, 21.75 hours | 25775 total pages, 217.8 hours for the year so far
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I continue to have a flailing ability to focus on reading. I have managed to do more audiobooking due to being in a car more than ever, commuting to the J-O-B. It’s been cold and the old dog has been off & on with wanting to walk so that has diminished, AND!!!

EXCITING NEWS! We got another dog! Who is *not* leash-trained so managing an audiobook/walk is a future goal with this boy:

His name is Copper. He is a 3 yo Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. Esther is not amused…

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I started an abandonning of more books lately, or acquired-and-not-even-started!! library books lately, … you may not even be able to call me a “reader”. Oh well, I still managed 5 titles, short as one might be. I finished the Bookclub pick (Into the Abyss) and did OK on adding in some Nonfiction, so I am reasonably satisfied with the results.

Into the Abyss, which I convinced club to read because it was #NonfictionNovember (yay me!) also gave me a pie mention which was delightful to encounter.

…, so he asked me if I would make pies out of them.

~80% in when sharing about Paul peeling a bunch of apples.
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Write For Your Life was my favorite. It would be a good gift if you have a letter-writer/reader in your life.

and finally, we come to December. I know blogging has been hit or miss with me but I do love to track my books. The TOB Long List has been out a few weeks now and the Short List should be any day; I hope I get more excited but I do not think I will be as obsessed with the Tournament as much in 2023, what a new family member to work with and distract from sitting around and, well. SITTING. He is high energy!

What was YOUR favorite book of November? Especially NONFICTION so I can add to my list for next year.

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Jolly Jolabokaflod!!!

Copyright © 2007-2022. 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.

⬥OCTOBER⬥ 2022

 Monthly Recap Time! October

  • 8 books; 86 for the year
  • 2740 pages, 25.78 hours | 24462 total pages, 196.1 hours for the year so far

I have had a rollercoaster of an emotional month. But I read these! And they were all 4 or 5 slicers of pie reads: I gave 5s to World Piece, Address Unknown (a short story about how seemingly nice people buy into evil rhetoric and then join radical movements that justify other people as subhuman), and Fidelity. The rest got 4 slices. I didn’t even know who Tom Morello was – interesting guy. I do love the Audible musician stories. I wish I had read + listened to the Cruz, but that is all on me. I recommend it; definitely a terrific immigrant story with humor and love.

I had an increase in blogging, too. Thanks for the comments and support there.

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October was the BRING BACK of audiobooks. I listened to some. I have a new job that gives me drive time in the car.

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Of course, World PIEce had pie. And The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek had a lot of pie, too. How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water featured pastelitos, a fried handpie of goodness on many Dominican menus.

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November is another month; I hope it brings you HOPE. Hope is the belief in things unseen.

What was YOUR favorite book of October? ARE YOU PLANNING ON READING FOR NONFICTION NOVEMBER? Tell me your recommendations.

Copyright © 2007-2022. 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 Last Flight

Thoughts by Julie clark, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: For October Book Club

Genre/Theme: Mystery Thriller

Type/Source: Audible! On an INCLUDED list until 10/31 <click here>

What It’s About: We know early that there is a plane crash. This story involve two characters desperate to escape their lives by running, by taking on new identities. With an unfolding that is told “6 Months Before the Crash” and “2 Days Before the Crash” back and forth between Eva and Claire, we learn what is happening in their lives that propels the story and to their meeting.

We know on one side that it is not a random encounter but we do not know how they are linked. The unfolding is definitely edge of your seat action and drama. Did she get on that plane?!

“I’m not very good at forgiveness.” Liz nodded. “Not many people are. But what I’ve learned in life is that in order for true forgiveness to occur, something has to die first. Your expectations, or your circumstances. Maybe your heart. And that can be painful. But it’s also incredibly liberating.”

Thoughts: I enjoyed this. We meet strong females braving against the odds, we experience the best of women friendships. We also see domestic violence, drug trade machinations, powerful men being evil and controlling.

I usually don’t like mystery thrillers but this one didn’t happen to annoy me. I had to know how Eva found Claire! What was the missing link? All explained to my satisfaction despite the ending being vague and open to question. Should be a good club discussion. (Better than the Evelyn Hugo book anyway…)

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

“You know, life is long. Lots of things can go wrong and still end up all right.”

When this title was brought up for consideration, the library copy count was adequate but someone wondered out loud, if the audiobook was available I was super chuffed to check Audible and see it was “on special”! I recommend you hurry, if you do have an Audible subscription and think this one sounds good.

 

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Thoughts by Maggie O’Farrell, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction; Sisters

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Half Price Books, I think

What It’s About: Told in flashbacks and from the perspective of three characters: Esme – the youngest sister, Kitty – the eldest, and the granddaughter Iris. Esme has been locked away since she was 16 and now 60+ years later, while Kitty is suffering from dementia in the nursing home. Then there is Iris, the only living relative who owns a vintage clothes shop and pines for her married step-brother. It gets even more complicated when Iris is contacted about Esme when her facility is being shut down. Iris has never heard of Esme and didn’t realize Kitty was not an only child.

Thoughts: Despite the showing of audiobooks this month, I’m still not at my former levels of audio-focus. That or this one just starts confusing, gets muddled and wilding messy in the middle, and might also suffer from cultural unknowns. (Like, what WAS that red cord?! What that MEAN? Do I really know how it ended? I have made assumptions that work for my interpretation of the story, but this would be a terrific one to discuss. With a Scottish person!)

But boy do I love the feisty old ladies. Both of them had feistiness and secrets and regrets and ambition. No excuses for Kitty, but Esme and Iris could have benefited from asking and expressing and having a true exchange of what was going on. Of course, the plot wouldn’t have thickened if they were able to truly share and connect.

She has no idea that her hands and eyes and the tilt of her head, and the fall of her hair, belong to Esme’s mother.

We are all just vessels thru which identities pass. We are lent features, gestures, habits and then we hand them on. Nothing is our own.

We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned; a fabulous story idea and not quite convincingly executed. Though a fun ride anyway, I think this one is likely better in print. The stories just bounce between narrator and time with no introduction — it was hard to tell when those changes occurred.

I read this because… I think it was an Audible freebie by an author who has a new book out that looks phenomenal, The Marriage Portrait, which follows a successful Hamnet. Possibly a writer that will go on my “must-read-everything” list.

 

Status ⬥ Slow September ⬥ 2022

 Monthly Recap Time! September

  • 5 books; 77 for the year
  • 1346 pages, 1 hours | 22474 total pages, 170.3 hours for the year so far

Hardcover, Hardcover, Audio, Tradeback, Tradeback
Purchased, Purchased, Audible Freebie, Target Purchase, Half Price Books

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Actually, truth be told, I DNF’d Liar’s Club because I just couldn’t deal with any more Texasness and I skimmed to the end of Nightbitch because it just wasn’t what I needed at this time. It took me to Sept 24 to finish the first book(!!!)of the month. WHOA.

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And my audiobook game faltered. Sigh. I listened to what is probably called a “Short Story”: Dispossession, a well done Audible Original by Tayari Jones . (It was good! and filled an entire dog-walking session to the minute. Jones is on my list of authors to read whenever I get the opportunity.) I’m 2/3 through my October Audible credit now and have a Libby audio lined up for after so I think October numbers will be better for print AND audio. I might even do a review post of that last book I read because it satisfies a What’s in a Name category. Amazing. (Nightbitch does, too, but I’m hesitant to use it since I really didn’t give it 100%)

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I enjoyed Evelyn Hugo but it had that separation of author-to-reader, where I know I’m reading a book, rather than being immersed within the story. Book club discussion on Tuesday. My favorite was Lucy By the Sea by my favorite Elizabeth Strout.

“We had kidney beans from a can and two hot dogs each, an I made an apple pie, and the day felt so cozy.”

lucy by the sea, pg 224

It’s been a month of full-strength blowing of the winds of change. I was given unsettling news about my job and it sparked a job search process which resulted in me getting an offer which I accepted. I start tomorrow. In other news, WordPress alerted me that it is bloggivesary time! I’m been yapping about books-and-stuff at this space for 15 years!

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October has a couple of pie days. The 12th is Pumpkin Pie Day and Boston Cream Pie Day is Oct 23. Something I’ve always wanted to make a Boston Cream Pie Pie (rather than a cake.) It wouldn’t be that hard; make a cake layer in a pie crust and then layer some cream, — or maybe bake a round cake and split it horizontally, place on in a pie crust (blind baked, probably), layer in some cream, top with the second cake layer, and pour a chocolate ganache on it… MmmmmmmmMMMMMmmmmmm

Yesterday, I declared I would make Apple Pie today but I think I’ll post this and sit on the couch watching football, read my World Piece book by Beth M Howard (and is it FULL of pie as you would expect) and continue to think about maybe making pie this afternoon.

What was YOUR favorite book of September?

Copyright © 2007-2022. 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.

Status ⬥ The Month After July ⬥ 2022

 Monthly Recap Time! August

  • 7 books; 72 for the year
  • 2740 pages, 28.5 hours | 21128 total pages, 169.3 hours for the year so far

“… a party being made better because of the pie you brought…”

LESSONS in CHEmistry
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Pie for the win. EVERY BOOK I READ HAD PIE! Pretty impressive..

“Maria helped herself to the last bites of Eddie’s apple pie and unfolded her notes on the table, but instead of Devil’s Bargain she found herself thinking of the scale model of Mercury.”

– MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS
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And my audiobook game has returned. THREE audiobooks finished and meaty books, too — not just a 1 hour created-for-Audible nibble.

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My favorite was Bonnie Garmus’ Lessons in Chemistry. Hands down, my kind of book. Strong female character, touches all the ugly bits of reality yet balanced with love and humor, plus a cool dog. Some reviews recommend print over the audio, though I didn’t catch the mispronunciations or chemical terms …. oops. I did notice a long “e” sound for the word “been” and something else with an eeeee sound that to me should be more of an “i” sound like “bin”.

I read French’s The Searcher for book club. It was good but not my favorite of hers. And another book that suffered I HOPE! from bad mood and poor timing, was Anthony Marra’s Mercury Pictures Presents. I want to try it again someday.

“He finds a café and gets himself a slice of apple pie and more coffee to pass the time till his laundry is ready.”

the searcher

Perhaps, August was just meant to be devoted to nonfiction? I really liked Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard. She’s good! and she wrote a lovely tribute to David McCullough, a favorite of mine for readable fascinating enjoyable history, who died August 7. I’ve not read near enough of his oeuvre and now I need to add all of Millard’s.

I read The Sum of Us. Fascinating and sad how systematic racism is sneakily argumented away and seems invisible to sum. Why don’t towns have a city pool? because they didn’t want to share with ALL the citizens of the town. Stupid. Evil.

Which brings me to share that I finally finished brown girl dreaming by the lovely Jacqueline Woodson! Here memoir in verse, my mid-year, many months, poem-a-day project. LOVELY.

“…Remember the time, they ask,
when we stole Miss Carter’s peach pie off her windowsill,…”

brown girl dreaming

Then I listened to Taste by Stanley Tucci, because I think celebrity memoirs are a great way to break a slump. Plus, the lack of audiobooks in prior months meant I had credits to burn. I have a print of this at the library to pick up so I can get the recipes. (His cookbooks have hold lists but this I got right away.)

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What was YOUR favorite book of August?

September has a couple of pie days. The 15th is Butterscotch Cinnamon Pie Day! (A healing pie in the video game UnderTale.) Sept 23 is Pot Pie Day (Lessons in Chemistry has pot pie! and a terrific explanation of pie pastry. KFC’s chicken pot pie is decent, too. Look for a coupon.) Sept 26 is Key Lime Pie Day – read a book set in Florida! LOL — and Raspberry Cream Pie Day is Sept 28.

Today, as I write and prep this post, I’m contemplating a Grape Galette. You can see a photo (it’s readable! perhaps I should add a link to my pie page… Hmmmmm) of my recipe in a post from 2017; enjoy.

Copyright © 2007-2022. 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.