Archive for the 'Book Sharing' Category

Labor Day

Thoughts ldbyjm Labor Day by Joyce Maynard, Wm Morrow & Co 2009, 241 pages

I first heard about this book when the American Pie Association was promoting the movie due to a scene where Josh Brolin helps Kate Winslet and her movie son to make peach pie.

In the book, it was a good scene. I haven’t seen the movie yet.

It is interesting to me that the character Winslet plays here is quite the opposite of the one she plays in Divergent, her very next movie in not so much time. Yes? Anyone see both movies already?

In fact, the part she plays here isn’t typical of her. She usually plays strong and thoughtful women, agreed? The whole time reading this I pictured Kate starring at the wall with a confused look on her face…

OK, a middle school boy (forget his name) who often has to do all the shopping and errand-running because his single mother (let’s call her Kate)  has turned into an agoraphobic, meets a guy (here referred to as Josh) at the store and so, the boy plus his mom decide, “Sure, why not? Guy is bleeding but he needs a ride. We’ll take him home with us.”

Kate and Josh play a game called “kidnapped and kidnapper with tie-me-up for good measure” and boy thinks the guy is actually really cool. Even if he is escaped from prison. He was in prison for murder, but he can still be a nice guy.

It’s handy to have a guy around.

Kid unfortunately meets another whackadoodle kid and trusts her and her advice. He is a trusting kid.


Cops get wind of something not right at the house at the end of the lane, Josh is re-captured, boy grows up. TO be a CHEF!!!  (love this!)

Josh eventually does get out of jail, finds Kate again, they move to Maine and all is happy ever after.

True love prevails.

Rating:  Three stars. I’m rounding up. The pie scenes were great. Peach pie in August, who could resist that?

I would not mind the heat of late August right now, I’ve been so cold lately. READY for SUNSHINE.


A big thank you to Nancy for sending me this book cuz I begged her to. That’s the kind of great friend she is. I owe her a few books but I know she has plenty.


Copyright © 2007-2014. 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 Ántonia

Thoughts myantbywc My Ántonia  by Willa Cather, Barnes&Noble Classics 2005 (orig 1918), 288 pages

Blurb from  “Widely recognized as Willa Cather’s greatest novel, My Ántonia is a soulful and rich portrait of a pioneer woman’s simple yet heroic life. The spirited daughter of Bohemian immigrants, Ántonia must adapt to a hard existence on the desolate prairies of the Midwest. Enduring childhood poverty, teenage seduction, and family tragedy, she eventually becomes a wife and mother on a Nebraska farm. A fictional record of how women helped forge the communities that formed a nation, My Ántonia is also a hauntingly eloquent celebration of the strength, courage, and spirit of America’s early pioneers.”

This is considered a classic. I could easily count it for the American Classic category or the 20th Century Classic category. I can’t decide. It might also be used as a slot filler for the NAME category of What’s in a Name 2014. What to do? I am shocked not to find it on the 1001+ Books To Read Before I Die. Do tell me if I just failed to find it.

What’s it ABOUT: The blurb above probably tells you more than I typically would. It is accurate.

What’s GOOD: I read somewhere that My Ántonia is Little House on the Prairie with sex and violence. That is an apt description, too.

What’s NOT so good:  Not a thing. I had resisted Willa Cather and ‘plains’ fiction because it is what I know, where I was raised. I thought I would find it dreadfully dull. Why would I want to read about that boring flat land? (Shame on me.) But a friend loaned me this and insisted I read it. So I did. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the characters and especially how Cather explores the lives of women, the choices and their destinies.

The contrast of reading this while sitting on a beach at Waikiki Hawaii was also interesting. I look up and see the waves of the Pacific Ocean. I look back at my book and I’m bumping along a dirt trail looking at the waving red grasses.

FINAL Thoughts: I was struck not only by the thought that lives were hard in those times, that place. Carving a farm out of wild plains with rattlesnakes and climate extremes – very cold and very hot, was a difficult struggle. I wondered about this time period knowing that more struggle was coming  – the Depression, drought, war. Nebraskans are tough people, I know. Good people, mostly. This book is a slice of life.

RATING:  fourpie I cannot believe I didn’t note any encounters with pie! What is wrong with me? Surely this book had a pie mention. Sigh…


Copyright © 2007-2014. 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.

Harry Potter. The Finale.

hpathbp hpatdhbyjkr

I’m done! I’ve read them ALL!  I’m thrilled to have this personal challenge complete. Thank you to everyone who has cheered me to this finish line, who encouraged me to keep at it, who loaned me copies of their own books or even just considered and decided I was not worth the risk. Thank you to everyone who envied my reading-for-the-first-time because once done, can never be done again. And thank you to the few of you who wondered why I would bother. I did it!  I enjoyed the whole experience.

I feel this to be a tremendous accomplishment. I’m quite proud of myself.  It only took me 16 months (funny, I thought it took longer.) I sought out borrowed non-library books, by the way. I had book #7 waiting a long time and then suddenly over Columbus Day I was presented with book #6 and swoooosh! I was done. They read SO fast.

I am not going to bother with any review. I liked the stories and loved the characters and even cried a little at the very end.

Now I get to watch the movies!



PS – After finishing book #7 but still not having a very good memory of what number is which title and late the night I decided I should watch a movie, I couldn’t figure out which of the films I’m supposed to watch next since they don’t put the number in IMDB… I decided to watch the one with Sirius Black. Had NO idea that it would be the scary mean guy from The Professional (must see if you never have – Jean Reno as the ‘good’ guy and a young Natalie Portman – a top 5 favorite movie for me. I wonder if it is based on a book; must find out…) and of course — GARY OLDMAN! A nice surprise. But the movie was TOO SHORT.


Copyright © 2007-2013. 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.

Songs for the Missing

Readalong Thoughts sftmbyson Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan, Viking 2008, 287 pages Hardback

for the What’s in a Name 6 Challenge: Lost or Found

READALONG!  with Judith and Laurie!!  possibly (likely) spoilers ahead. Links at end of post…

from the Penguin’s Reader’s Guide website:

In his twelfth novel, following the critically acclaimed bestseller Last Night at the Lobster, Stewart O’Nan demonstrates an uncanny ability to delve into the lives of ordinary, well-meaning people confronting tragedy. Here, in a story of a girl gone missing, he finds the quieter emotional narrative behind the sensational events. O’Nan’s clear, sharp prose and tremendous empathy yields flawed yet heroic characters whose every word and gesture rings true. Defying genre, Songs for the Missing is a remarkable novel that begins as a thriller and widens into an elegiac examination of family, love, and longing.


1.  Was this a first read of this author?  If yes, will you read more and why?  If not, how would you describe his style – is it recognizable? does he work with similar themes or …

This was my first time to read Stewart O’Nan and I’ve been wanting to since I heard about his book Last Night at the Lobster.  Somehow, this is his book that fell into my hands and it still took me a few years to get to it. When I was embarking on my trip to the Netherlands, I wanted to bring a book for Judith and this is the one that jumped into my suitcase. You see, I somehow acquired two copies – so I had one to give and one to keep. I talked into this readalong and my favorite local librarian Laurie joined us.
I am very much looking forward to reading more, if not all, of O’Nan’s books. I was expecting a fabulous author experience and I was not disappointed. 
2. I tried to convince a friend – who has two daughters of college age – to read this and she said, “NO WAY”.  Is there anything I could have said that would have made her consider this book?  
I should note that this friend and I rarely like the same kind of book. So I probably should have known better than to suggest it.
However, this book is not about all the horrible stuff – or let me rephrase: this book is not about describing the situation of the missing girl and what happens to her. It is about how her family deals with it. SO in one way, this book is actually more frightening because it forces the reader to wonder how one’s own family would deal with the imagined horror and the unknown. Rather than experience the pain and fear of the victim. 
3.  From Judith:    What did you guys think of Kim? Likeable, untrustworthy, etc.

I didn’t really like her, to be honest.  I do think the author was very skilled to present her as he did; she was what I felt to be a typical teenage girl with the Attitude: a prickly attitude towards her parents, especially. She seemed restless and scared but wouldn’t dare tell anyone she had fears – of the future, leaving home, etc.

4. How would you describe Kim and her boyfriend’s relationship? Did you find it realistic?
I really liked JP and thought it very interesting that Kim had the power in that relationship. I have no idea if it was ‘realistic’ in terms of today’s youth but I believed it even if I might even suggest it wasn’t typical. 
5. Did you have a favorite character?
I liked the little sister and again, felt the author captured a realistic response on her part for how to deal with the tragedy. She turned inward, wondered if her parents would have had a different response if she had gone missing instead, fell for Kim’s boyfriend, considered herself all the horrible things that befell missing girls. I was so relieved when she wanted to go away from school and actually became more brave about her choice to really live her life. Brings up questions of how she would have been different if Kim had been around. How you can ask the What Ifs but we just can’t know, we can’t do what Ursula does in Life After Life (which I loved.)
I was also intrigued by Kim’s best friend becoming a conscientious student, growing up, when she got to college and how she, too, thought it interesting that she had made those choices as if she really didn’t contemplate them at the time.  While JP went the other way and sadly, just couldn’t take school seriously but seemed to really want to.
6. Did you have any preconceived notions about this book and were they realized?

I had known that the book was not just a ‘horror about story about what happens to a missing teenaged girl’ but more the reaction from those left behind so I thought it very much delivered what I was expecting. I do think I was afraid the parents might end up on different pages, ie divorce, but I think they were successful with their marriage. They certainly had two approaches to what to do and how to feel but they seemed to be able to respect those differences.

7. Ultimately,O’Nan doesn’t really focus on what happens to Kim; what do you think happened? Were you frustrated with the beginning of the search, the police response, etc?

Right, so I knew that O’Nan wasn’t going to focus on the Kim side of the story but I also wasn’t prepared with how it started with her and then shifted totally, almost away from her for the rest of the book.  I was not frustrated with the search, I let it play out. I believe I would likely be the type to trust the authorities and/or be in a state of shock and uncertainty to all of it. Then again… It would be so hard not to DO SOMETHING and want the whole world to stop and find the fix, find the girl, make it all OK. So scary.

I could have questions but have actually stopped my mind from going there. But I’ll try here, now. I expect that she came home from the river, took a shower and got ready for work and then drove to the place. It was here that she met the wrong type of asshole and away they went. It must have been timed right after the previous shift left and right before her friend got to work. Which is why I wouldn’t want my daughter to work at any highway roadside convenience mart. Too many skeevy people; too much easy exit access. I bet there is a policy of workers never ever to be alone on the premises and that she likely sent the first shift guy away saying she could handle it. 

8. Did you highlight any quotes?  Anything else to share?

Excellent character study. Excellent pacing and style. This book has a vague longing, of remembered sadness, a tinge of nostalgia, of hot hazy dusty weather of late summer when you hear the cicadas buzzing…  All the little things carried weight; and the reverse as well: the big things that were only sketched out briefly like the drug use issue. He lightly touches on few details here, thereby giving it more attention when the kids thought they had to cover it up.

I did have a few quotes! I love to highlight things that strike me for powerful sentences, oddities, pies &/or lobsters or connections to other books. Here are just a few or you can click on my link to where I store them (so easy to do from the app on my iPhone):

“The detective had asked him if he loved Kim. Immediately JP said yes, on the strength of those feelings, but was that love?”   -p.62

“He hadn’t taken off for either of her mistakes, and she felt cheated.”   -p.172

“Like every bureaucracy, they protected their own from those they were supposed to serve.”  -p.174

“She had no memory of last night’s anxieties, or of Ed coming to bed, just a visceral appreciation for the blank, restorative hours in between.”  -p.179

“The most terrible thing in the world, she thought, was how easy it was to forget.”   -p. 208

RATING:   fourpieMaybe even a five. Not sure why I am not giving it five slices. I think this might be one that I hang onto where some books fade away.  This one will stay with me.

Please click over and read Judith’s thoughts at her Books Books and Books blog as well as Laurie’s thoughts at her Bay State Reader’s Advisory blog.

More from book blogger reviews can be found —->here<—–


Copyright © 2007-2013. 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 Orchardist

Thoughts tobyac The Orchardist by Amanda Copley, Harper Collins 2012, 432 pages

First Sentence: His face was as pitted as the moon.

I very much enjoyed this book. I loved the entire sense of place and I fell hard for the characterization.

My kind of read.

Rating: Five slices of pie. Fruit pie, of course! Apple pie, apricot pie; take your pick. Or how about an Apricot Pluot Galette?

{I would have a photo here but for some reason, when I try to go find the photo, it is not showing me the true Last-Import set of photos and I can’t figure out what’s going on.  I suspect I have too many photos and the system is refusing to work right. If you follow me on Instagram, you saw it…}

{{Obviously, I am more in the mood to post somethingANYTHING than actually spend time thoughtfully choosing the right words. But then I went back and glanced at my little observations that I recorded in goodreads (my fave thing about goodreads – truly) and thought I would expound some more.

Here’s a quote:  “We all have to be pushed, he thought. It doesn’t end.”

It reminds me of how when I was a kid, I thought adults had it all figured out. Now that I’m an adult well into my ‘approaching-fifty’ years, I realize NOPE, we adults don’t necessarily have it figured out. Or maybe that there are three kinds of people (there’s always three, have you noticed?) and these three types are 1) those that got it figured out, 2) those that think they have it figured out and you know they really don’t, and 3) the rest that readily admit, they don’t really know what to figure out. But still. I keep waiting for that time when I can say I’m ‘there’. I suspect, I will never and maybe that’s just ok.}}


I best go figure out if Mac’s photo program has a max storage limit and maybe off-load some of my photos. I’ve even got print copies of most but I’m so scared to delete them!  and what with the prolific nature of the iPhone, I have scad loads of photos I really don’t need.

July 22 is Pi Approximation Day. FYI


Copyright © 2007-2013. 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.

Copley in Amsterdam


The highlight of Copley’s visit?  Meeting Judith!  Judith of Leeswammes’ Blog:  Books, Books, and Books


She has a great photo of Copley sitting atop a few books…  She gave me The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (I was MOST excited for this – what a treat!) and First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty which we joked might be perfect for my celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this year. I gave her Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the MissingI haven’t actually read this myself but have been meaning to for years now. Anything by O’Nan, truthfully. I have another copy so I’m trying to set up a readalong. Anyone else interested?

After the yummiest risotto, we had pie; a lemon pie along the type of a key lime from Florida. IMG_1735

We talked a lot about books, as you might expect. And we talked about biscuits and other interesting cultural differences. But mostly about books.

And when the boys were let out from work meetings, we toured.

IMG_1679 View from our room at the Moevenpick Hotel, looking mostly northwest. IMG_1680 View lookingsouthwest? IMG_1683 Amsterdam Station.IMG_1690 Canal scene. IMG_1693 Street scene. IMG_1697 A lovely canal street cafe scene.IMG_1716 The famous Seven Bridges shot. IMG_1726 We had dinner at the restaurant on the top of this old oil rig. IMG_1754 Watch out for the bicycles! IMG_1769 The Flower Market. IMG_1776 The Rijksmuseum. IMG_1780 Where we saw this famous Rembrandt painting The Nightwatch.  IMG_1789 An Old Amsterdam Sandwich (featuring rocket and cornichons but I think it had a different spelling… Means pickles. Rocket is arugula.) IMG_1800 At the Heineken Experience. IMG_1812 A mosiac sofa.

And HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2013. 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.

Dark Places

Thoughts dpbygf Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Broadway Paperbacks 2009, 349 pages

First SENTENCE:  “I have a meanness inside of me, real as an organ.”

What’s it ABOUT:  A young woman who survived her family’s massacre almost 25 years prior decides to open up her memories and help investigate what really happened. She hasn’t wanted to think about any of it for a long, long time. But damn it – she needs the money. And the crime clubbers are offering to refill the empty coffers. She doesn’t work (can’t work, won’t work, what’s the difference) and she has spent the horde of cash she collected from the do-gooders who supplied it back when she was a sad poor cute victim survivor. She ain’t cute anymore.

“I signed my book for mouth-breathing kids who asked me jarring questions, like did my mom cook pies.”

Characters are lacking in much one might find admirable and yet we do somehow sympathize. Pacing is spot on, tension is physical, belief is suspended and disregarded. It’s dark inside these pages but don’t turn on the light cuz some scary too-many-legged thing might crawl out and I don’t want to see that.

Another wild ride in the Flynn mind amusement park. Not quite as wild as Gone Girl but still a thrill.

Rating: Four slices of pie, blackberry. fourpie

Stephen King is in the opening credits page of praise:

” Gillian Flynn is the real deal, a sharp, acerbic, and compelling storyteller with knack for the macabre.”

Thank you MBR for loaning me this book.


Copyright © 2007-2013. 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.

Kitchen Confidential

Thoughts kcbyab Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain, ecco An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 2007 (orig 2000), 312 pages

For the What’s In a Name 6 Challenge: Kitchen

SO good! and why did it take me over two months to work my way through this? Dunno. But that’s OK. It is a great book for setting down and coming back to at a later time with no feel of annoying detrimental interruption.

I can always tell when a person doesn’t watch TV when they claim they have never heard of Anthony Bourdain. I could understand if someone doesn’t like him but if you *do* like him, why haven’t you read this book yet?  It’s just fascinating. And fun. And bat shit crazy!

No way my personality could ever lead me to a career as a chef. Now, I loved LOVED working in the restaurant* biz and I can legitimately claim to have worked in the trenches – hospitality side and kitchen side as well as at the corporate level watching the whole thing operate from the ‘upstairs’ view and I do get how people can love the industry. But it is hard work.

So a big thank you to Bourdain for deciding to write this book. Thank you for the eye-opening adventures, the advice on careers and how/when to choose a restaurant or a knife to buy, and for the encouragement to eat and appreciate food.

One crazy lovely sentence:

“I’m a bony whippet-thin, gristly, tendony strip of humanity, and after weeks running up and down the steps at Teatro from prep kitchen to a la carte kitchen – like some hyperactive forest ranger, always trying to put out brush fires to avoid actual conflagerations – I looked as if I’d been breathing pure crack in some VC tiger cage for the last ten years.”

Rating:  Four slices of pie. With lots of alcohol-laden whipped cream. REAL whipped cream not the fake crap in a tub. Just put your metal mixing bowl in the freezer with the whippers for a few minutes till appropriately chilled, then pour in heavy cream and set to whip on your fancy* colored KitchenAid, drizzle some bourbon in and dollop from a big spoon onto that piece of pie. Those four slices of pie. I don’t care what kind of pie.

My KitchenAid is white, thankyouverymuch. And I use it almost exclusively for whipped cream.



* My very first job, age 15, was Hostess at Red Lobster and I continued to work there summers during college. I also worked at the corporate offices Houlihans. Best job I’ve ever had.

** Thank you to everyone who wished me a Happy Lobster Day! Apparently, June 15 has been designated such and I hope to be better prepared for it next year.


Copyright © 2007-2013. 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 Burgess Boys

Thoughts tbbbyes The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout, Random House 2013, 320 pages

Why I read this:  I very much enjoyed Strout’s Pulitzer (2009) winning Olive Kittredge and was eager to try her next book. Laurie of Bay State RA generously offered to send me her ARC. The setting of Maine appealed to me and I knew it would appeal to my Auntie who lives there. I knew I was going to see this favorite Auntie in Florida last week so I made sure I finished it in time to give to her.

This is a family story sparked by how to ‘deal’ with a teenaged son/nephew who has committed a horrific unexplainable incident; loosely based, perhaps inspired by, a true incident in a small town in Maine. I thought this part, the resulting aftermath of publicity and fear and discussion among varied groups to be very balanced and very interesting without giving any answers.

I really enjoyed this book and the character development, especially. At first, I was worried that none of the characters were ‘likable’ but I enjoyed the smooth unrolling of the story and how the family members interacted/explored their own motivations against their shared history.

Please see Laurie’s review “Family Dysfunction, Maine-Style” here. A big thank you to her for sharing.

Rating: 4 slices of pie



Copyright © 2007-2013. 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 Gargoyle

Thoughts tgbyad The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, doubleday 2008, 468 pages, Hardback

Loaned to me from a friend – took me 6 months to get to it.

FIRST SENTENCE: “Accidents ambush the unsuspecting, often violently, just like love.” 

WHAT’s it ABOUT: As an unnamed narrator endures the long process of healing from a fiery car crash, he meets a fascinating woman who tells him they were married in the 14th century. He is at first amused and skeptical but thoroughly succumbs to her charms.

WHAT’s GOOD: I was hooked from the start and it never let up. I loved the many stories within the story and enjoyed the piecing together of the plot. The characters were fascinating if a touch unbelievable but I never took the time to question if they were likable or not. And if you like descriptions of food, this book might have you craving exotic picnics.

WHAT’s NOT so good: What some cite as atrocious, I found comedic. Certainly some sentences’ alliteration and simile defy typical ‘good writing’ but in context with the character and the storyline, they made me laugh. It worked.

“When I finally was able to let go of the cliff’s wall, my fingers remained curled like the pincers of a frightened lobster.” -p.391


Going in, I thought this book would be scary and dark. Not so. I was pleasantly surprised at the theme of the power of love. Interesting religious elements are dropped in as it references Dante’s Inferno; I have not read that but know enough of it to ‘get’ the references. I really enjoyed the stories inside the story and the many settings. Despite feeling like I *should* question and doubt the premise, I didn’t, I don’t now and must admit, I really really liked it. I don’t know why I am apologizing for it. I couldn’t find any of my blogger friends who DIDN’T like it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I can see how this book might be one of those LOVE-IT-or-HATE-IT kind but I thought it fascinating, unique and very entertaining. A satisfying read.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. fourpie

REVIEWS:  The first review I read when I started to see what to post for “Other Reviews” and BY FAR the most entertaining! (even the author contributed) –> Literate Housewife’s reaction to EW (2008),

Leeswammes says “an interesting story, with a good mix of contemporary fiction and historical fiction.”,

Erika (aka “She”) at A Book Blog. Period. says it is engrossing and compelling. I agreed with every sentence of her post.

I liked Fyrefly’s haiku for this novel! She has insightful comments to add about religion. and finally,

Fyrefly’s Google Search Results for this title/author.





Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I prefer pi.


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