Category Archives: Book Sharing

Burning Questions and The Candy House

Thoughts by Margaret Atwood, Doubleday 2022, 496 pages

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: Essays

Type/Source: Hardcover / Gift from a friend

What It’s About: Wonderful essays on the climate, politics, book reviews and author tributes, bits about poems; reminisces on her childhood, her marriage, and husband, lectures she has given, etc and more.

“However, this does not make The Handmaid’s Tale a “feminist dystopia” except insofar as giving a woman a voice and an inner life will always be considered “feminist” by those who think women ought not to have these things.”

Thoughts: She’s Margaret Atwood!

“She came by her perky Mom voice and her “Howdy Stranger“ tropes honestly. She was a refugee, not to America but from within America: a mom and Apple Pie America, and America of the past that was being rapidly transformed by material inventions, …”

Rating: Five slices of pie.

“My own mother was of the non-interference school unless it was a matter of life and death. ___ She later said that she had to leave the kitchen when I was making my first pie crust, the sight was so painful to her.”

-Polonia (2005)

 

Thoughts by Jennifer Egan, Scribner 2022, 334 pages

Challenge: TOB Summer Camp

Genre/Theme: Linked Short Stories, 2nd in the Goon Series

Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

What It’s About: These stories continue the looks into the lives of characters touched on in The Visit From the Goon Squad. I can’t even pick a favorite. Actually, some seem abrupt or bring up people I would have hoped to explore more or really taxed my brain power! That said, I loved it. It felt SO GOOD to just read and relax and get lost in a story.

“The fact that so many thoughts could have gone through my head in 3.36 seconds is testament to the infinitude of an individual consciousness. There is no end to it, no way to measure it. Consciousness is like the cosmos multiplied by the number of people alive in the world (assuming that consciousness dies when we do, and it may not) because each of our minds is a cosmos of its own: unknowable, even to ourselves.”

Thoughts: I must link in my review of Goon Squad – because I don’t remember it nor was I able to capture its charms exactly – only entertained myself in the attempt. Others have noted that it is a wise plan to keep notes of characters at the start of BOTH these books, something I did not do but recognize it might be valuable advice. Me, I only hope to reread both of these, back to back. Put it on my ‘Retire-to-a-Deserted-{Desserted?!)-Island-Reading-List’.

My kind of story-telling. Five slices of pecan pie.

“… tweezing forkfuls of turkey or pecan pie through a rectangular mouth slot.”

ARthur p.26

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.

Olga Dies Dreaming

Thoughts by Xóchitl González, Flatiron Books 2022, 349 pages

Challenge: Recommended by a friend.

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction, Puerto Rico Independence, American Dream Pursuit

Type/Source: eBook/Libby Library – 14 day loan

Rather than be irritated, she thought, she should focus on the infallible hilarity of the ultra-wealthy to be penny-wise when it came to compensating human sweat, and dollar-foolish when it came to everything else. She shouldn’t be irritated at all, she counseled herself, and instead laugh her way to the bank.

What It’s About: Olga is a high-achieving owner of a wedding planning business to the wealthy of NYC. Her every move is calculated to take advantage of opportunities to make money and gain status. Her brother is a US Representative from and for Brooklyn. Their father is dead from HIV drug-use and their mom is a fugitive revolutionary-mercenary.

New York had a shocking way of spiraling into chaos whenever met with precipitation, as though the entirety of its infrastructure was actually made of sugar and the water triggered dissolution.

Thoughts: I won’t lie, this was hard to get into. The first third had me pushing myself to keep reading and I wouldn’t give myself permission to DNF because a friend recommended it to me. A friend that I greatly admire. Then I began to wonder, ‘What *IS* this? a love story? A whodunnit tale of treachery? (I was worried that the romantic interest was going to be a bad guy — spoiler: he is a good guy.) A family drama child abandonment story? or an incitation to Revolution, on the part of Puerto Rico?

Yes, and I support PR being granted statehood. The status of this island and these citizens is unjust; to be dependent and taxed, without representation.

She was less uncomfortable than she thought she would be, the realization of which made her uncomfortable.

However, all the stories do come together and I admire this as an author’s strong debut, in mostly– for me– what it accomplishes and addresses, a passionate statement in support of Puerto Rico. I learned a lot more about Puerto Rico.

If your rights are less because you’re born in one place, not another, how meaningful are those rights in the first place?

Rating: Four slices of pie.

 

 

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.

Subdivision

Thoughts by J.Robt Lennon, Graywolf Press 2021, 231 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Adult Lit / Trauma and Memory

Type/Source: Tradeback / Jessica the Blue Stocking sent it to me and I’m sending to Amy

What It’s About: Our unnamed protagonist finds herself renting a room after moving to a new neighborhood and embarks on finding a job and a place to live. She explores the subdivision, has adventures, purchases a smart device who attempts to keep her out of harms’ way, and she makes friends with a small boy and a crow. Sort of. She and the crow are more like acquaintances. She bluffs her way into a really strange job as a Phenomenon Analyst with experience in quantum tunneling. Then the windy weather picks up and she starts to remember things. It is truly an odd tale told strangely. Like a fever dream.

“Our Lady (of Perpetual Forbearance) shunned any adulation for her good deeds. Her followers took it to heart. They were so devoted to ignoring her achievements that they completely forgot she existed.”

Thoughts: Yet our MC is endearing somehow. I loved the way that her thoughts and actions were often in juxtaposition. Oh yea –there’s a puzzle that the boarding house proprietors want her to work on. The puzzle shifts with her memories. The whole thing was deftly and creatively told. I was along for the ride.

The situations and the memories and the angry fights with the bakemono, as well as the image of the puzzle suggest that she has experienced severe trauma of a car accident and suggests trauma of a failed marriage involving children. At least or at most, that’s what I got. The ending suggests hope but doesn’t offer much explanation.

My initial reaction to this scene was annoyance. How dare these disturbing alternate realities interrupt my seduction of this beautiful, smoky man!

Rating: Four slices of pie. Apple pie

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

 

Try this Roquefort Cheese & Caramelized Onion Tart from the Spruce Eats

 

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.

Telephone

Thoughts by Percival Everett, 2020, 224 pages

Challenge: TOB 
Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / Indie Bookstore Online Purchase
 Why I read this now:  Last up IN HOUSE

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A father grieves his only child who has a terminal illness. He is an academic, as is his wife. He pursues a mystery rescue mission as an adventure, as a diversion to his grief.

Borrowing Ruthiella‘s description from gr:

Zach Wells is a tenured geology professor with a secure, if uneventful, life. That security breaks down, however, when his pre-teen daughter starts having health problems. Meanwhile, he receives what he thinks might be a cry for help from an enslaved migrant worker. Wells is frustrated and eventually obsessed with his ability and inability to even make a dent in the wrongness of our world, a system and society which may be irredeemably broken.

THOUGHTS: Well. The rumor on the street is that this book might have 3 different endings. I don’t even know when/where I read that? discovered that?  am assuming such? If I wasn’t “clued-in”, I would have just stumbled upon this book and… enjoyed it. Going on with the rest of my life not knowing that some found the book exasperating and abrupt.  Am I imagining this?!   gr doesn’t mention.

I am OK with the ending. . . . SPOILER! I have, in the past, written a separate page to ‘hide’ spoilerish thoughts. Sometimes I have change font color to write which requires the reader to hover/highlight the words to make visible. Yes, let’s do that:

In my ending, our MC manages to rescue 11 women held captive in the wilds of New Mexico and gets them safely to the Mexican cop across the border. The end.

I like Everett’s writing. His characters always seem dare-I-say boring, and yet, appealing? The writing has strength. I like his sentences, his observations, how he ‘puts things’. 

On the other hand, I was annoyed at all the Spanish I don’t know, all the German I didn’t know, all the Latin tossed in. Definitely should have eBook’d this one so I didn’t have to fumble-define and translate so much. (I have serious issues with the clumsiness of the translate app I use. Whatever)

RATING:   Four slices of pie. I was waiting for the pie reference — there happen to be  “scenes in a diner” so OF COURSE it had to have a pie reference!  We just don’t know what kind of pie…

“When they were gone, DeLois came to my table with a free piece of pie, slid it in front of me.”

pierating

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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 Vanishing Half

Thoughts  by Brit Bennett, 2020, 343  pages

Challenge: TOB
Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit/Racial Identity
Type/Source: Hardcover, Family (Thanks B-Sav!)
 Why I read this now:  Reading with a Buddy, also gave to my mom and she gave it back. I’m to send on to my mom’s sister.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Twins from a small “not even a” town north of New Orleans, run away from home and separate. Actually, Stella disappears into a new life as a white woman. Desiree moves to DC for a job, meets a dream man, gets married and has a child. The husband isn’t so dreamy after all and beats her. She flees back home. Stella spends all her time and energy hiding her secret; frantic that even her daughter might find out that she is not really white. Eventually, generations and secrets collide — SPOILER?

THOUGHTS: Many assumptions and biases and questions get analyzed in this story. Is black a color of skin or an identity? On what gradient scale? Someone somewhere gave appreciation that the author allows the reader to sit with these questions and never quite confronts the idea of right or wrong choices made by the characters. Questions of identity, history, choices. Privilege and poverty. Race and gender and destiny? Nurture or nature, perception or reality.

A solid second book!  No sophomore slump here. Cheers to Bennett. [Her debut: The Mothers]

RATING:    Yes to the pie!

She’d imagined a town like Mayberry, folksy and homey, women leaving pies to cool on their windowsills.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Long Bright River

Thoughts by Liz Moore, 2020, 482 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List, Theta Friends Book Read
Genre: Thriller
Type/Source: Hardcover, purchased from an Indie
 Why I read this now:  First Book of 2020 Selection

MOTIVATION for READING: I really like Liz Moore.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Mickey is a cop, a beat cop on the streets of a poor neighborhood in Philly. She comes from impoverished family circumstances. Her sister, same genes + same environment, takes the other turn in life and is a drug addict prostitute.

Young prostitute drug-addicted women start turning up dead and Mickey’s sister goes missing. Mickey is compelled to find out what is happening but gets involved in things beyond her scope and support system. A support system that is questionable, at best.

THOUGHTS: The “something elusive” that makes me really fall hard for a story didn’t happen with this one. But as I now have a few days away to ponder my reactions, I wonder if that is the point of it. Our MC is shyly prickly and doesn’t want to need people. She has no friends and doesn’t even realize it! THAT is what is weird to me, I think? She is heads-down, do the job, do right and don’t call attention. But humans can’t operate well being so alone – we need other people. When she realizes this, she is caught up in her confusion and fear of trust and what it all means, to have any good sense on what to do. It comes across as naiveté and it just seemed so out of sorts for her career as a police officer. Again, it takes all kinds and this is a story that confronts many biases.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

A Gentleman in Moscow

Thoughts by Amor Towles,  Penguin Books 2016, 462 pages

Challenge: Theta Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Historical Fiction?
Type/Source: Tradeback; purchased?  I don’t recall how I got this.
 Why I read this now:  Selected Book for October’s Discussion

MOTIVATION for READING: Book Club!

“To what end, he wondered, had the Divine created the stars in heaven to fill a man with feelings of inspiration one day and insignificance the next?”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Count Rostov, a member of Russian aristocracy, is designated a Non-Person, placed under house-arrest in 1928 and mostly forgotten by the Bolshevik powers that be. He adapts quite well to the decades and makes a new family of everyone he connects with.

“There’s a difference between being resigned to a situation and reconciled to it.”

THOUGHTS: One of my favorite things to do is to read reviews that vary from my personal reaction. Most reviews LOVE this story. However, a few readers found it ‘twee’. This word dismays me. I don’t quite have a definition set solid for what TWEE means. (Kind of like ska* music. I have NO IDEA.) If this was twee, it was smarter and more sharp-humor than I think of when something is called that descriptor. That could be my snobbery; Twee things aren’t smart, right?

I liked this story. I was caught up in how the Count was “making the best of it”. I was quite touched that he was all-in immediately to the surprise request of taking care of an 8  year old girl, “Sure, why not?” No protests, only a tiny touch of self-doubt or misunderstanding of what he (and the entire hotel staff, of course) was about to hide and handle.

And of course, she became a lovely accomplished young woman.

But what actually happens at the end? I’m not sure…

“The surest sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.? – Montaigne

I learned a lot or was given new things to think about on the history of Russia that was playing out on the streets outside of the hotel. It felt surreal, as do times now, actually. Is what is really going on in the US really happening?! How can the two sides’ perspective, the violence the anger the ‘fake news’ the accusations, be REAL?!  Ugh, it is frightening and I wonder if we will survive to see the historical perspective on it in 20 years time.

RATING:  I gave this 5 slices of pie. Because it was well written, I enjoyed it, I needed just this right now.

“I love your funny alphabet and those little pastries stuffed with meat.”

pierating

 

* Ska is unique because it really emphasizes the offbeats of the guitar; combines Jamaican drum sounds and jazz beats…

Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.

Olive, Again

Thoughts by Elizabeth Strout, 2019, 289 pages

Challenge: Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Bookstore purchase / the Concord Bookshop (MA)
 Why I read this now:  Suggested, had on my shelf

MOTIVATION for READING: I loved Olive Kitteridge. 

Almost 11 years ago to the day, I posted my review of Olive, book 1. I adored it.

… the reader will come to appreciate this rough and tough yet tender lady.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This is another collection very similar to the first, of short stories either centering on Olive or has her barely mentioned in passing.

I loved the stories with Jack, and how he succumbs to the realization that he enjoys Olive and so takes the chance on a relationship. The way he lets her sit in business class on the flight to Norway was just too perfect. The chapter on the Larkins and their attorney was a gut-punch. As was the one where Olive meets the Poet.

THOUGHTS: Themes of loneliness and knowing yourself. I just love how Olive is so abrupt and blunt and judgmental but also knows the exact right thing to do or say when it is most needed. She is definitely prickly. I laugh at her, with her? and I cried.

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned, but that’s OK. I’ll forgive.

No, I still haven’t seen the mini-series starring Frances McDormand…

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.

Poetry 2020 Edition 4

Poetry Goal 2020:  to read a poem* every day.

 

Collection #7  by Billy Collins, Random House Trade Paperbacks 2002, 173 pages

Budapest

My pen moves along the page
like a snout of a strange animal
shaped like a human arm
and dressed in the sleeve of a loose green sweater.

I watch it sniffing the paper ceaselessly,
intent as any forager that has nothing
on its mind but the grubs and insects
that will allow it to live another day.

It wants only to be here tomorrow,
dressed perhaps in the sleeve of a plaid shirt,
nose pressed against the page,
writing a few more dutiful lines

while I gaze out the window and image Budapest
or some other city where I have never been.

 

SO GOOD. I had misgivings and incorrect assumptions about Billy Collins “the famous poet”; he is too famous. But I had not experienced his work, his poems, with just me sitting with each one. I love his stuff! Mostly, I love the devotion he shows to the time it takes, allows. The time a poem bakes, crafts, comes into being, as if he and he alone, is the messenger, or person only to deliver the package. He sits and waits and plays and writes and then a poem emerges. He makes it seem effortless and yet like he doesn’t really have any choice in the matter. I am grateful that he allows the poems to come to him and then shares them. I very much love his poems about poems.

(Believe it or not, there is a 1-star review on goodreads; very entertaining.)

Rating: FIVE SLICES


Collection #8 by Lisa J. Starr, Beautifully Produced by the Poet 2008, 116 pages

Other People’s Poems

Perhaps I should leave other people’s poems to other people,
but I am afraid that left unsaid, they grow, they thicken,’
never mind how they accumulate.
The poems of others—this one’s my brother’s.

.
.
.

Your poem, then, my brother—the weariness of knowing
that what’s done is done, except that then it’s yours forever.
It takes twenty years sometimes to discover it’s not that your secret
is so dark; it’s that it’s always with you.

 

I am contacting the poet to see what is the best way to purchase a copy of this. (I don’t want to use the big A place… I suppose I should check if the indie bookstore on Block Island has a copy.) I thought this poems impactful, poignant, and relatable to the point that I want to have them to share. Poems about the joys of childhood, and how childhood pain is long-lasting; poems about taking care of parents and old dogs, poems of recognition.

Rating:  Five Slices of Pie. Quiche Lorraine and Pumpkin Pie

 

 

*Or more. I’m not tracking, I’m just reading. I’m not limiting this experience to one poem a day – that is only the minimum.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Books and Pie aka 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 Paper Wasp

Thoughts  by Lauren Acampora, Grove Press 2019, 289 pages

Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Gift from a Friend, to be repaid in kind
 Why I read this now:  Coincide with Author Event

MOTIVATION for READING: Blurb sounded good!

Page 283: “What a sweetie pie”, the woman would say, and Shelby would say thanks as if the sweetness were her doing.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Two friends since grade school reconnect at a high school reunion. One is an actress, a rising star. The other is unhinged.

What goodreads says: “In small-town Michigan, Abby Graven leads a solitary life. Once a bright student on the cusp of a promising art career, she now languishes in her childhood home, trudging to and from her job as a supermarket cashier. Each day she is taunted from the magazine racks by the success of her former best friend Elise, a rising Hollywood starlet whose life in pictures Abby obsessively scrapbooks. At night Abby escapes through the films of her favorite director, Auguste Perren, a cult figure known for his creative institute, the Rhizome. Inspired by Perren, Abby draws fantastical storyboards based on her often premonitory dreams, a visionary gift she keeps hidden.”

The story has a low-level hum of dread, a creepiness that is expressed well in the narrative with Abby telling Elise what is happening – a present tense feel yet immediate past. We can only sense, “this ain’t gonna end well.”

page 198:  I understood that you were gone. I saw that you’d never return to me fully, that we’d forever remain on parallel tracks, never to mesh again, no matter how I twisted and swerved.

   October 2019 Author Event at Brown University, along with poet Jennifer Franklin. I didn’t have a chance to purchase works prior to the event but have both author’s books on order now…

THOUGHTS:  Oh the ending! NOT what I expected but I am impressed. The clues are all there, no lost threads but an exclaimed “OMG! WOW.” from me, thinking in my head that the author was quite clever; fabulously pulled together.

Very smart, imaginative writing.

Four slices of pie.

Page 145: As you spoke, I felt a spiking sensation under my skin. I didn’t want to hear any of it. I tried to tune out your words while I studied the black stone in my hand. I marveled at its weight and warmth. It was solid and eternal, not of this world burning with the patience of the ages. It would outlast your folly and my pain. It would outlast everything.

So…, my friend who invited me to the event gave me her book and thensonow I’m ordering the book to give back a copy to her since she is friends with the author and now they have another good excuse to get together — so Lauren can sign HER book!  too funny. Things we do…  Thanks Kim for inviting me to this.

I can’t wait to read The Wonder Garden. I love linked story collections and the reviews are excellent. Lauren Acampora is an author to watch!

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2019. 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.