July Reviews Written in 15 Minutes… Go!

Thoughts on Recent Books

Thoughts on Recent Books and Typed Up Fast

or…  All the Books I Read or Attempted in July of 2018.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Despite all the authors who don’t want readers to give books poor ratings and how much I really do want to participate in that when I can appreciate that some books just don’t meet the needs of all readers, I do also want to say that SOMETIMES a low-rating or a ‘dislike’ can actually help a book because sometimes, a review reader will say to themselves, “Hey – those things you didn’t like are things I often DO like so I’m going to give it a try.”  or, they might appreciate that some books have detractors which is good because a book that is universally liked by seemingly everyone must be suspect. It’s good to find that some people didn’t find it awesome like everyone else. It makes people curious. Right?

I did not like The Immortalists. It was not for me. I just didn’t buy some of the characters’ behavior and thought it tried to cram everything and the kitchen sink into the plot line. If it had been just the first 25%, I might have really liked it. But the 3rd and 4th parts didn’t work. Too much. Too unbelievable. Wearying. But hey; LOTS of people loved it so give it a try if it sounds good to you. Maybe you’ll love it. In fact, I hope you do. Caveat – I didn’t like the narration so maybe try the print.

By Our Beginnings by Jean Stubbs

A gem! a true and lovely literary wonder!  It checked all the boxes for me. Set in England, romance between mature and smart individuals, family saga, historical, clash of classes and culture, story swept me away…  

AND, to be totally honest, I expected it to be boring boorish dull. So a pleasant surprise! I was captivated within the first two pages. 

My mother-in-law got me this for my birthday. xoxoxox

Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand 

I doubt I ever read another book by Hilderbrand. But I do like and enjoy and admire this author based on her Twitter presence. 

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain DNF – I’m going to have to try this again sometime. I didn’t capture me.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by  Marlon James – FASCINATING!  Too long, though, and very violent. I just couldn’t bring myself to continue the audiobook and wanted to cry. 

A Gate at the Stairs / Lorrie Moore 

I’ve heard SO MANY interesting things about Lorrie Moore and every interesting thing makes me think I would love her books. I discovered this book was in my immediate possession so I read it and I enjoyed it very much if enjoyment is the right word. She tackles tough stuff. I wish I could articulate my thoughts but I’m a coward when it comes to crazy good stuff and my inadequacies of explaining what exactly I found impressive or thought-provoking. 

My 15 minutes are up.

Have you read any of these? Do share!

 

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.
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Together

Thoughts  by Julie Cohen, Orion 2017, 299 pages

Challenge: Book Club
Type/Source: eBook / Amazon for Kindle
 Why I read this now: Choice for my bookclub

MOTIVATION for READING: See above.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Epic LOVE story! swoon. “A secret YOU WON’T SEE COMING!!!!!!!!!’ yea, OK. Bring it.

Bare bones plot: husband and wife have a secret. We go backwards in plot to find out what the secret is.

Let me try again?  Husband has Alzheimer’s and spares his wife the risk that he will blurt out their secret in his dementia.  OOPs – that’s a spoiler, isn’t it?  We go backwards in time and events to explain things we don’t learn about in the first chapter. They have kids – or do they?

Uh….

Robbie and Emily have been intensely in tune and in love with each other since the day they met. Her family has not been supportive. They run away together and live their lives on their own terms. Finally, the risk of their secret catching up to them requires Robbie to take a devastating turn. Whatever will Emily do?!

WHAT’s GOOD: The over-the-top warnings (setup) of surprise!!!!!!

What’s NOT so good: Dialog, heavy handed warnings. Poor dialogue. Plot point setups that cause eye-roll strain, clichés, characters that never convince… Everything but the kitchen sink. My over use of the word ‘ugh’ while reading. Must I go on?

FINAL THOUGHTS: Hey – don’t let me convince you! Read it and see if you like it because plenty of people do. I am in the minority. It’s not THAT bad, apparently.

The gr score is 4.02 out of 1763 ratings! I’m clearly not hurting the overall score. Whew.

It really is the kind of book that makes me smash things in jealousy and wonder if I could/should write a book. But then I think, nope – it’s not in me. I tip my hat to Julie Cohen for all the efforts to write a book and more kudos to getting it published AND sold. Really, I do!

RATING: The one star in goodreads is for “I didn’t like it.” So one star it is has to be, but I do feel bad about it.  A good thing, I guess, is that I am in the minority. Most of my book club is reporting it as a GOOD READ!  Please decide for yourself.

Pecan Pie is mentioned!  One star and a half?

Spoilers:   (just run your cursor over the space below.)

I didn’t figure out the SURPRISE too early, but suspected it when his Dad was in England in the war years. And then when Mom freaked when he arrived to meet the folks, I figured it out – they were half siblings – they had the same papa. 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.

My Book Club Chose Sing, Unburied, Sing

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If you read my post from February 6th on my being asked to request a slate for my ‘classic’ (never say OLD) book club from my glory-Massachusetts Days, you’ll be wondering what book they selected…

I would not have put money on this! I was thinking they would go with The Hate U Give (and hopefully all will read that one on their own…)

SO now I have to take another afternoon off so I can attend the next meeting. My manager will understand, right?

 

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Copyright © 2007-2018. 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 Power of a Positive No

Thoughts  How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury, Random House Audio 2007, 7 hours 15 minutes

Challenge: Company Book Club
Genre: Business/Professional Development
 Why I read this now:  To participate in the company book club.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have always respected those who can say NO without fanfare or excuses. They are being true to themselves. This is a terrific skill to develop.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ury is a negotiation consultant. He is a co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and directs the Global Negotiation Initiative. He has a series of books on this topic; basic common sense but very challenging advice on how to be effective in solving conflict.

Find your deeper YES (what you do want!) – state your NO – suggest a yes to negotiate a win-win (yes?)

WHAT’s GOOD: SO so good. Though, at times, the book tends to feel repetitive, that only stresses how hard this stuff is!  To respect and not react, to be centered and grounded and know what we really want for ourselves before we have to work towards agreements with others. Great examples, wonderful stories, terrific suggestions on how to do all of this.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The challenge lies in getting beyond the recognition of how valuable this approach is to actually USING it the precise moment it is needed.

I give this quote:

The great problem today is that we have divorced our Yeses from our Nos. Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war. Yes without No destroys one’s own satisfaction, whereas No without Yes destroys one’s relationship with others. We need both Yes and No together. Yes is the key word of community. No, the key word of individuality. Yes is the key word of connection, No the key word of protection. Yes is the key word of peace, No the key word of justice.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2018. 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.

It’s That Time! Suggestions For a Book Club, FOURTH Edition

My Massachusetts Book Club honors me with occasional requests to suggest a title. This is Edition Three!  Four.

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The first time, I sug’d some lovely fiction choices and they chose HEFT by Liz Moore. I highly recommend the post about the books if you click on this link HERE.  The second time, I suggested this list from which they choose State of Wonder. Third Edition: Care’s BOOK CLUB FIVE Post. from which they decided upon Behind Her Eyes.

This time is the FOURTH list of 5 to suggest. And I’m trying to figure out if I should take the afternoon off from work to attend the meeting…

  1. Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong. Just a lovely story, really. 

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2. Idaho by Emily Ruskovich.  Lots to discuss and very readable.

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3.  Sing, Unburied, Sing  by Jesmyn Ward – National Book Award winner; destined to be a classic.

pieratingsml4. White Tears by Hari Kanzru – many are rooting for this  in the Tournament of Books. I’m just starting it and it has gripped my attention.

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and  5. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas – a very well done YA story on an important issue and because a movie is being made about it — who doesn’t love to read the book before the movie?

 

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Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend as a book club read? Which would you most like to read? I will share which was chosen by the club as soon as I hear…

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Behind Her Eyes

Thoughts  by Sarah Pinborough, Flatiron Books 2017, 318 pages

Genre:  Mystery Thriller
Type/Source:  eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now:  For one of my bookclubs (May)

MOTIVATION for READING: One of the book groups I follow on Facebook asked for titles that had the best #WTFending. I think I might have selected it because it was also the least expensive of a list I attempted to put together for a vote. No one wanted to vote so I made a decision.  

Eek! Just realized book club is TOMORROW!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A single mom named Louise meets what she thinks could be a ‘nice guy’ at a bar and they get along so well — even sharing a good night kiss. However, the next day, she realizes this nice guy is actually the new doctor in the office she works. OOPS. And, he is married. Bummer.

Soon after, she bumps into not-so-nice guy’s wife. They become friends, against Louise’s better judgement. But Adele is so beautiful and sweet and seems so fragile. Louise is curious; she just can’t help herself.

And then David, the new doctor not-so-nice guy pursues Louise to have an affair and again, Louise can’t help herself.

Danger lurks everywhere! Throw in that Adele wants to rescue Louise – help her quit smoking and start exercising, etc. She also has ideas on how Louise can get better sleep and even manage her nightmares and sleep walking. Adele says to keep it all a secret from David.

WHAT’s GOOD: The author did a commendable job layering the little odd details — of course, most obvious in hindsight now that I think about it. Considering the reader KNOWs about the #WTFending and that the reader MUST pay attention, the introduction of clues was well done. To even mention some of the things I want to say will be spoileriffic – can’t wait for club!

What’s NOT so good: I’m really not the best fan of these and may not be the target audience so take any criticisms with a grain of salt. So if you LOVE thrillers like this, it will likely be one of those books that the sooner you get to, the better. I found the device of self asking questions rather tedious at times.

(Note: I had to get We Were Liars when it was all the rage, and I really did NOT like it. Ugh. This one is better, imo.)

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you want to know if I agree that the book deserves the hashtag #WTFending, I will tell you, “Yes.” Did I like the book? That’s a more difficult question. These kinds of stories are not my favorite, but I kept reading because I HAD TO KNOW! The writing is fine, I have already praised the construction. Pacing was OK. Characters were OK. The fun will be in discussing and sharing and finding out if you figure it out or if you were gobsmocked.

RATING: Three slices of apple pie.

“I wandered through the house, ate some of my mum’s apple pie that was in the fridge, and then went up to my old room, got into bed, and went to sleep.”

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

Suggestions for a Book Club, 3rd Edition

My Massachusetts Book Club honors me with occasional requests to suggest a title. This is Edition Three!

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The first time, I sug’d some lovely fiction choices and they chose HEFT by Liz Moore. I highly recommend the post about the books if you click on this link HERE. 

The second time, I suggested this list from which they choose State of Wonder.

Now, I get to do it again: Care’s BOOK CLUB FIVE. (Links to my goodreads bookshelf.) Or keep reading.

  1. My current book club is reading Behind Her Eyes  by Sarah Pinborough which I chose because I had heard it has quite the #WTF ending. “…takes the modern day love triangle and not only turns it on its head, but completely reinvents it in a way that will leave readers reeling.” It sounded like a fun one just to have that reaction to discuss. The blurb reads like one crazy dramatic mess. At only 20% in, I’m reserving judgement but it is very much a setup for secrets and manipulation. It’s not quite sweeping me to that can’t-put-it-down place but I’m intrigued enough to finish it.  THIS IS THE BOOK CHOSEN FOR AN END OF JUNE DISCUSSION._______________________________________________
  2. The only nonfiction I’m suggesting this time is Trevor Noah’s  Born a Crime. I’m recommending it all over the place. It’s just fascinating, funny and heartbreaking, and delivered perfectly on audio. I very much recommend you listen to the audiobook – his voice is the whipped cream on that pie. __________________________________________________
  3. They have read The Underground Railroad so why not suggest another excellent slave narrative that was big for 2016:  Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I enjoyed Homegoing more than TUR, I found Homegoing much easier to connect to the characters even if for so few pages each. They were alive to me, they lived and breathed and laughed and cried and I with them. I was into the swing through history and was captivated by the family thread. I recommend . ___________________________________________________
  4. The Mothers  by Brit Bennett was THE book of controversy from 2016 so I must suggest it for any book club. A book that pivots on a personal abortion but that issue is not the driving theme. Would you agree?   __________________________________________________
  5. Finally, I checked into hot reads from a few years back and found this: Station Eleven  by Emily St. John Mandel. Go ahead and laugh at my review (here) because I titled it Station Ten and a Half.  Two years later, I appreciate the book more. I really can’t account how or why. Perhaps I should reread. Here’s a scary thought! I should reread all the books I have ever announced publicly that I want to reread!!!!  LOL. Great quote I grabbed for my 5 slice of pie review: “No one had any idea, it turned out. None of the older Symphony members knew much about science, which was frankly maddening given how much time these people had had to look things up on the Internet before the world ended.” (I just might reread it to see if it mentions pie.) __________________________________________________

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Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend as a book club read? Which would you most like to read? I will share which was chosen by the club as soon as I hear…

 

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.

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March 2017 Recap

Collection of various thoughts…

The Winner of the Rooster! The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead over Homegoing by Gyasi Yaa. Bracket image below will take you to the final judgements.

This concludes the Tournament of Books.

Now, maybe, I can get back to real life.  My brackets; my list of favorites.

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Mini Review! a DNF (sorry Mary!) rather and a recap of our book club meeting: no one had read the book. Or, no one who showed to the meeting read the book! And, everyone had a good excuse so not a big deal, things happen, I get it. So the two of us there decided to go out to dinner instead…

The Little Paris Bookshop  by Nina George. I just couldn’t quite grasp my problems with it but it was cringe-worthy many times. The premise sounded just lovely: set in Paris on a barge setup as a book store! Nifty, right? and the proprietor has a knack of recommending just the right book. Aw… but he can’t fix his own life. OK. The barge becomes unmoored and so does the tale. THEN, killer to book-malaise when in mid-stream, I read a negative review. Done; moving on. I wanted to like it but I am no longer interested in finding out what happens. Two slice of freshly baked plum tart.

We also didn’t pick a book for next month. My little afternoon club might not make it. Sniff, sniff.

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Pie Chart Time


Number of books read:  5
Number of audiobooks listened:  0
Related themes:  Set in Dublin, Literary: 2
Number of TOB books read:  1
Ratio Female:Male  1 : 4
Translated works:  2, German and Swedish
Number of books with pie:  2, an Apple and a Plum

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

Save Me

Thoughts smbykkl by Kristin Kusek Lewis, Grand Central Publishing 2014, 288 pages

Challenge: Book Club Book
Genre: Chick Lit
Type/Source: eBook / Amazon Kindle
 Why I read this now: Club is today! Book finished TODAY at 5:54 am.

MOTIVATION for READING: I love book clubs. I love that I may be introduced to books I would otherwise never read, books that are outside my typical genre, hopefully something new and original and fresh. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t those things for me. It wasn’t horrible, but I was constantly nitpicky and wishing I was reading anything else. Does that make me a book snob? I feel like I’m being very book-snobby today. And of course, I know the fear of recommending a book to club that isn’t liked so this review is not meant to chide or reflect on the person who chose it because she is a lovely person and I hope she enjoyed the book – my opinion is just an opinion. I hope we have a fun discussion…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Daphne is a doctor married to a doctor. They met in summer camp as kids but were re-acquainted by a chance encounter when they both discover they will be doing their residency at the SAME HOSPITAL!  It’s fate, it’s storybook. They get married, buy their dream home and get ready for that time when they can start a family. However, Owen discovers that he is just not ready to be a father and strays then admits to a brief affair. Daphne is shattered, “This just so isn’t like Owen, he’s a good guy.” Does Daphne forgive him? Does Daphne listen to her best friend and sister who vehemently tell her that Owen is NO GOOD?

I had understood that the book was about how it gets complicated when the chickie Owen flings with has a devastating car crash requiring long term care; Daphne selflessly decides to help caretake! Explore THAT. Yea, but no — that didn’t quite happen. The girl dies (oops – spoiler alert!) and now Owen crawls back to Daph with the newly realized awoken love for his wife. Daphne meanwhile has met a hottie distraction of her own, waffles back and forth of what to do until she eventually decides that Owen is correct: their marriage isn’t worth saving anyway. Bye bye.

WHAT’s GOOD: I found no misspelled words and not that many things worthy of an eye roll. I thought I had found one thing but it was cleared up later to my satisfaction. (Ok, it bugged me when she kept mentioning reading a book (The Woman in White) for “Annie’s book club” and I thought it odd that it wasn’t “MY book club” or just “book club”. But she actually explains it later. Well huh.)

What’s NOT so good: Full of those head game questions,”What do I do? I am so confused; do I love him? Should I take him back? What does it say about him that he decides to send this (lovey dovey email) when the woman whom he cheated with is lying in a hospital bed? How can he be so callous?

I don’t know! “Do I like this book? What’s wrong with it? Am I bored? Do I care if Daphne stays with Owen?”

FINAL THOUGHTS: It was tedious and I finally decided that what I love about books are surprises and delights. This book had neither.

RATING: Two slice of pie. Honestly, I was pleased that I found 2-3 pie mentions. There’s a bit about how her mother often entered cooking contests making mini pot pies and then Daphne cooks up her mother-in-law’s recipe for Chicken Pot Pie.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

Bookish Poems for Our Times

I have a friend and coworker who is a member of a book club whose leader writes poems for each year. She shared a few of these poems with me and I asked for permission to post. The poet’s name is Indu Gargeya. The first one was from 2016 and the second is her latest, at the start of the new year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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My dear fellow literary-enthusiasts,
Over the last few years, I have absolutely cherished,
Every Book Club meeting, where opinions have flourished.
Many a theme we have followed through it all,
And learned so much about matters big and small.
Let’s indulge in the various genres of literature this time,
From the classics to short stories, few authors in their prime.
“Realistic fiction” will herald  the beginning of it all,
As we explore the minds of two brothers, so sure to enthrall.
Our “Thriller” in question has so many people raving,
High praise and several  awards, Hollywood came calling.
An epic of an extraordinary life fulfills our “Biography”,
The vivid, descriptive detail so beautiful, it’s iconography.
Our “Classic” is a highly acclaimed work of American literature,
Required reading by so many schools, it’s almost a scripture.
The “Historical novel” category won the Man Booker Prize,
It is so eloquently written, it’s surely no surprise.
Choosing to read our “Nonfiction” book would be our good fortune,
The author so inspirational, not to do so our misfortune.
A journalist ‘s harrowing experiences make for a dramatic “Memoir”,
Her survival tactics and skills such an amazing repertoire.
The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to our “Short stories”,
A distinguished Canadian author, the world celebrates her glories.
Our last read is a “Love story” with subtle hints of “Science fiction”,
Matters such as relationships and existentialism written with deep conviction.
So, let’s hope our reflections further our intellectual leaning,
As we contemplate our life and times and the ultimate meaning.
My fond hope remains that we “always look on the bright side of life”,
And smell the roses and hear a melodious bird sing as if playing a fife.

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Dear Friends,
As the year drew to a melancholic end,
Frayed emotions were too stirred to mend.
Watching or reading about the Tweeter-in-Chief,
Caused Hillary supporters to be immersed in grief.
We were deprived of so much joy and pride,
Nonchalantly told to take it all in stride.
Inspiring literary characters will lessen our stress,
Hopefully save us from reading “140 characters or less.”
Realization has dawned on my fifty-five year old self,
That I am more of a feminist than I credited myself.
So, I deliberately chose books by women authors,
To celebrate grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters.
Michelle’s rousing appeal, “When they go low, we go high,”
Will help us have a positive attitude and we surely will try.
My fond hope remains that we “always look on the bright side of life”,
And smell the roses and hear a melodious bird sing as if playing a fife.
– Indu Gargeya

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I thank Anu for sharing and I thank her poet friend Indu Gargeya for allowing me to publish this for all my book blogging friends.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.