James Joyce’s Odyssey

Thoughts  by Frank Delaney, Paladin Grafton Books 1987, 191 pages

Challenge: I traveled to Dublin for Spring Break! I brought this along…
Genre: Nonfiction/Literary Analysis/Travel
Type/Source: Tradeback/Sent from a friend

MOTIVATION for READING: Let’s back up to when I first had this book in my hands. It was January 2011 when I signed up for the “Jousting with Joyce” readalong. I never finished Ulysses and I have no record of what page/episode I stopped on.

So anyway, dear friend Jeanne sent me THIS book out of the blue back in 2011 and I have been treasuring it ever since, thinking “Some day, I will conquer Ulysses“. Rather, I was able to make a trip to Dublin happen instead.

Now I am even more eager to read it (Ulysses), to be honest.

Portrait of the Author as an Old Man; from Bailey’s Pub, remodeled.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Delaney chats with obvious affection for Joyce and his tale of Ulysses. He organizes his ‘Odyssey’ by the same structure as Joyce does in Ulysses and walks the reader through the story and what it might mean, then and now. This not a step by step walking tour of Dublin. It’s subtle – and it is also 30 years old so many things have changed from 1904 (year the book is set) and 1922 (year Ulysses was published) and 1987.

FYI, Ulysses follows two characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus – not always together, on walkabout through Dublin, basically. Joyce has stated that his book is a blueprint with which to rebuild Dublin if need be. Ready?

A sample of Delany’s words with Joyce’s:
Sandymount Strand, ineluctable as sin, sweeps wide and grey and beige, stippled with gulls and aeroplanes and lighthouses and ships and lone Dedalus-walkers. “Signature of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack the nearing tide, that rusty book.” Most of the thoughts in Stephen’s mind as he walked along Sandymount Strand were triggered by that ineluctable modality of the visible.

So for the ‘now’ of 2017,  many signs and plaques identify Joyce’s locations and landmarks — these are not mentioned in Delaney’s book. Perhaps a map of these IS published by the James Joyce museum which I did not visit. I really let my wanderings and Joyce connections happen rather than seek them out. It was a vacation with the Husband who though sympathetic and/or amused, he did not share my enthusiasm. “He indulged me occasionally” would be the best way to put it. So, it was happenstance and sudden delights, when I found a Joyce marker.

Book pages with little (useless!) map and photos with backdrop of similar photo from a blog post…

WHAT’s GOOD: Photos from turn of the century (late 1800s – early 1900s and some 1987.) Opportunity to consider how Dublin has changed in 30 years and 100+. But the best of the book is the author’s delight in talking about and sharing anecdotes and explanations of what Joyce was attempting with Ulysses.

Another paragraph of Delaney praise for what Joyce attempted in Ulysses:
“The Oxen of the Sun episode is the most difficult to read in Ulysses. All Joyce’s linguistic interests are on exhibition and he gives a foretaste of what was to come in Finnegans Wake. That it exhausted him is certain: in several communications with friends, he referred to “the Oxen of the bloody, bleeding Sun” and he admitted freely that the control of all the ideas, the mathematical nine-part divisions, the embryonic development and the endless parodies were almost as much as he could master. He managed brilliantly.

What’s NOT so good:  Of course, I wanted better maps… LOL.

I failed this book as I do most travel books. Tedious to look at when I can’t relate, and too late for visits once I can. I admit, one of our favorite pub visits was to Bruxelles because it was around during Joyce times and is in a photo of Delaney’s book. I didn’t get any pics of our Guinness nor Irish Whiskey while there, unfortunately.

As typical, I now flip through Delaney’s guide and only want to go back to Dublin and see it all again, find the past anew.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am more willing to attack Ulysses some day. I do feel that it will require patience and a light touch – not taking it too seriously.

“Joyce said once, not without sadness, to Nora: “The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book, or worse, they may take it in some serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one serious single line in it.”

I am keeping this book as a guide when I do tackle Ulysses because of the same structure and the explanations, motivations, and landmarks in words.

RATING:  3 slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Other Resources:  Schmoop / Frank Delaney’s Podcasts

 

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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.

Going Gray

Thoughts ggbyak by Anne Kreamer, Little,Brown&Co 2007, 206 pages

Full Title:  Going Gray: What I Learned About Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else That Really Matters

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Challenge: What’s in a Name – Alliteration Category (two words in a title have same starting letter)
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir? Aging, Fashion
Type/Source: Hard cover / Bookmooch…
 Why I read this now: It’s short!

MOTIVATION for READING: I somewhat remember an article or a review that suggested this book and since it was available on BookMooch, I scooped it up.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  One woman’s decision to stop dying her hair and how she navigated through all her notions about aging, fashion, attractiveness, and her role in the world now that she was approaching ‘middle age’. It really is mostly her research on gray hair and what it means and not so much personal sharing on all that ‘everything else’ she lists in the extended title.

WHAT’s GOOD:  She does do a bit of research but it is also conducted in a personal way – which I guess is more fun, so I wouldn’t call it an academic study.  It did confirm for me that a female attempting to get a new job after age 50 is S.O.L. It is so sad how we don’t consider and value experience and society wants to ignore old people. Terribly sad.

In fact, she seems to conclude that gray hair is certainly NOT less sexy so we all can feel good about that. But finding a new job will be impossible. New lover? not a problem. Impressive to anyone hiring? not a chance.

What’s NOT so good:  She tends to make a few blanket statements that some careers are more youth-oriented than others but I think it is every job category out there.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I really need to figure out how to write a best-seller…  or even a moderate-seller. I really am well-suited to the working conditions of being a writer. Now I just need to figure out how to produce something.  Maybe I should write a nonfiction memoir study on some odd topic and then write some self-help books… Do I sound bitter?

RATING:  Two to three slices. It was short, not really memorable and no pie was mentioned.

 

 

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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.

Mini Mini Reviews and Not Much More

My friends, my friends.

I have read much, listened to much while not blogging of late. I have much to recap. I have read and enjoyed much. Much is the word.

I purchased this wisbyriWomen in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky for the children of a friend who required birthday presents. (the presents were for the kids’ – 4 of them – birthdays not the friend’s) Don’t worry! I also sent candy and confetti and garland and more books. But this was the one I purchased in hopes to influence young minds. Personally, I thought the tone a bit ‘piled-on’. OK, already; women are great. “Thou dost protest too much.” Sigh… Yea, I own my bad feminism. I also took off a point for the dark font on dark background. Guess I’m old. Which is why I’m hoping these youngin’s will read, appreciate and larn sumthin’. That women can and have done way far more than they get credit for and will continue to do so and people should pay attention and give credit and respect. Three slices of pie.

Citizen citbycr by Cynthia Rankin. I want to read more poetry. I know I need to read more poetry. I feel like I should read more poetry. I realize this book is not quite poetry as I expect – is that the best kind? This book is powerful and heavy. Felt it in my bones and heart but still realize that there is much I cannot ‘get’ and that’s ok. I’m willing to keep attempting to reach and learn and respect and lean in and lean out and lean humble, probably lean strong. I purchased this book at my local Indie bookstore.

Then I jumped into an audiobook with comedienne extraordinaire, Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair. yctmhbypr I am not sure I have laughed this hard in a long time (I read it before the election and already feels like eons ago). Ms Robinson explained a few things (ok, lots of things) to me. I probably could/should re-listen. Very enjoyable and extremely informative to my demographic, (ahem.) She mentions the movie Michael with Travolta which has one of the best pie songs ever recorded in film. (I wrote Ms Robinson a fan letter. I wrote Lindy West of Shrill, too. I like to write letters…)

Remember to laugh. 

I listened to an audiobook by John Scalzi that was being offered free by Audible.com. tdbyjs It was wonderful!  It was 2+ hours. Enjoyed it very much. I follow Mr. Scalzi on Twitter and should read something longer by him. Someday.  (I already had him on the authors-I-must-get-to list, I think, but a sample is nice.)

I quickly moved on to another audiobook that was utterly delightful. Realizing it is Nonfiction November and I had failed to plan for this AND having just read TriniCapini’s lovely Litsy post of how good it is, I used an Audible credit to get As You Wishaywbyce written and narrated by Cary Elwes. SO GOOD. I also watched the movie again. SO GOOD!

Overlapping with As You Wish, I read Barbara Claypole White’s debut novel tugbybcw The Unfinished Garden. I really REALLY enjoyed it. I think it is one of my favorites of hers. Maybe Perfect Son is my favorite, and this was lovely, too. I am now in a state of fandom where I have to wait for an author to publish again – I’ve read everything else by her. This is a rare thing. I usually don’t ‘follow’ an author. One more fun fact: I read all of her books in this calendar year. Another no-small-feat accomplishment for me. It would be remiss of me to fail to mention some of the BEST pie references are in this book!!!! I hope to capture in another post.

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I just yesterday finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I will write another post just for this book soon…

Also, FYI – I just today started The World According to Garp. O.M.G. Oh, Mr Irving, you are a rascal. Yowza. I’m already to Garp’s birth scene. The whole Garp conception scene was … memorable. Let’s go with ‘memorable’, shall we?

Keep reading, friends. Keep on, keepin’ on. Be vigilant.

 

 

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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.

A Land More Kind Than Home

Thoughts almkthbywc by Wiley Cash, William Morrow – Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers 2012, 309 pages

Genre: Southern Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library (Book Club Set)
 Why I read this now: Club discussion on Oct 6

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Carson Chambliss is the leader of a church up in the sparsely populated Appalachian Mountain region of North Carolina. His ministry is focused on faith-signs; which means that he believes that if you have faith enough, you can withstand fire and poisonous snake bites. One of his congregants however, does not quite trust his methods and to compromise, she holds Sunday School classes for the children so that they don’t have to witness the insanity. She tells one side of the story, as does one of the children:  nine year old Jess. The third viewpoint is from the Sheriff. The plot focuses on an event involving Jess’ older brother who is mute and what happens when the church decides to hold a healing for him. It ends badly.

“The book is a thriller, but it’s so beautifully written that you’ll be torn about how fast to read it. This is great, gothic Southern fiction filled with whiskey, guns and snake-handling.” – NPR

WHAT’s GOOD: 
The writing is spectacular. It felt so real. Even as I did question if Jess had a true balance of being naïve or wise (I’m still not sure), he was a great kid and I wanted to rush in and help him sort it all out but devastated knowing there was nothing I could do. I thought how the adults treated him was spot on. I really loved Adelaide’s back story but she frustrated me and I wanted to know much more about the Clem Barefield, the sheriff.

“A beautifully written morality tale.” – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

What’s NOT so good:  I wanted just a little more! A little more into Clem’s grief, perhaps, but also, I should recant and recognize that I think it might just be perfect. The holding back of just enough keeps the reader wondering and engaged.

FINAL THOUGHTS: What is revealed is subtle in that regard and yes, it might be almost perfect that we didn’t get the ‘more’. Pacing and plotting of what happens is SO GOOD and the switch in viewpoints was executed very well – the story was well structured. For such heavy stuff, the writer seemed to have a light touch. He is very talented and I will read his latest, This Dark Road to Mercy.

RATING:   Four moon pies. Can’t slice a moon pie, right!?

“I sat there in the car with the gravel dust blowing across the parking lot and saw the place for what was, not what it was right at that moment in the hot sunlight, but for what it had been maybe twelve or fifteen years before: a real general store with folks gathered around the lunch counter, a line of people at the soda fountain, little children ordering ice cream of just about every flavor you could think of hard candy by the quarter pound, moon pies and cracker jack and other things I hadn’t thought about tasting in years.”

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Library at Mount Char

Thoughts tlamcbysh by Scott Hawkins, Crown 2015, 390 pages

Challenge: peer pressure?
Genre: Fantasy
Type/Source: ebook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: Making a concerted effort to read my ebooks.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have so many blogger-buds say this is a wild ride. Had to sign up and see if I liked it, too.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Our main character, Carolyn, is a librarian; but the library where she works is most interesting and actually on a different plane. She is in charge of learning all the worlds’ (world’s or all worlds’? hard to tell) languages while a few of her ‘brothers and sisters’ know everything about war and death and animals and transportation and persuasively getting into people’s heads, etc. They all report to “Father” but he is actually some kind of godlike entity and his library is his store of knowledge. He needed to adopt these kids so he could pass along this knowledge but also keep the power decentralized. Then one day, he goes missing.

WHAT’s GOOD: This is one nutty action-packed funny wild ride, I will agree.

What’s NOT so good:  About half way, when the adrenaline and the WTF’s are flying — while I’m chatting up the book and sharing how awesome it is — and the big WA LA BOOM BOOM! happens…. Then it’s late at night and I have to go to sleep and wake up the next day to finish;  it felt like a balloon with a slow leak. So I suppose I could say the ending but more the lead up to the ending, felt draggy and almost unsatisfactory. Upon reflection a week later, I liked the ending OK.

  I am still wondering if I missed how Carolyn met the military dude. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It is a wild and unique ride. It’s violent, a bit of an almost love story — oops, SPOILER!? It has a lot of humor, too.

Other REVIEWS: Shaina’s review has a Q&A with the author which is nice. Heather that Capricious Reader seemed to like it. Michelle gave it a “Hot Damn”. The book cover will link to goodreads.com if you care to explore there. Or click here to get to FyreFly’s Book Blogger Search Engine for this title.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No mention of pie was noted.

 

 

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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.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Thoughts gtiotmbyjb by James Baldwin, Blackstone Audio 2013 (orig 1953), 8 hours 45 minutes

Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.

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Challenge: Back to the Classics
Genre: American classic, coming of age
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: This was the only audiobook I had on my phone at the moment I was ready to listen to a new one.

MOTIVATION for READING: I am curious. Baldwin is mentioned as an important writer and I had yet to read any of his work.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Not at all what I expected. I thought it was a going to be an essay on race relations in America. It’s fiction! I did not know it was fiction. I did not know it was semi-autobiographical. I was not prepared at all for this.

It is a story of a family and an individual family member grappling with his destiny against family history and expectations and cultural storms. It captures a certain place and time but the theme is universal.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing blew me away. Here’s the blurb from goodreads; bold red font emphasis is mine:

Go Tell It on the Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Powerful.

RATING: Four slices of pie. The narration is excellent.

“after dinner, they brought up the pie and coffee and cream…”

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Nest

Thoughts tnbycda by Cynthia D’Aprx Sweeney, ecco An Imprint of HarperCollins 2016, 353 pages

Challenge: to keep up with newly published books
Genre: Dysfunctional Family Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover, Library 14-day Loan
 Why I read this now: not sure

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The father of four kids sets up a fund that will only be accessible when the youngest turns 40. Typically, all the siblings are eagerly awaiting and counting on this cash to bail them out of questionable financial circumstances.

Unfortunately (oh how true IS that word here!), the horrible mother decides to access the money to bail out the oldest child who commits a royal screw-up. So the next three kids are hoping/demanding that their big brother fix it.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s quite readable and paced well and has many interesting asides and commentary on New York, marriage, solitude, babies, the literary and art worlds… There are characters to like, be charmed by and not quite trust. I love a horrible mother so I enjoyed the matriarch. I was impressed I didn’t get all the characters confused.

What’s NOT so good:  A few characters were only foils of perfection to contrast the neurotics of the main characters but this is a minor quibble.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Here’s what I wrote in goodreads: Overall, a good solid book of the type I like to read, whatever that is. It helped that I was given a few big blocks of time to read when I thought I had to do something else. Yay for plans that change in my favor! Will this be Rooster worthy? I kind of doubt this will make the shortlist… But I could be wrong.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No mention of pie noted.

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Turner House

Thoughts tthbyaf by Angela Flournoy, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2015, 352 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: trying to cram as many of the shortlist in before Monday.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A family drama, a black family of 13 children, bookended by the eldest son’s obsession with a ghost (a haint) from his childhood and the youngest’s attempt to survive without a job, a place to live and with a gambling addiction. Lots of family dynamics all set within the framework of a decaying family house within a story of the city of Detroit.

WHAT’s GOOD: I thought it honest about fear of living/surviving, fear of aging, racism realities, addiction.

What’s NOT so good: I have only a minor quibble about geography. An editor might have caught this inconsistency question and suggested a reroute so someone like me from Kansas doesn’t get panties in a twist about how a guy could take the train from Pine Bluff Arkansas to Detroit and somehow see the scenery of Kansas. Or how a truck driver on a route of Detroit to Nashville ends up wooing a pharmacist tech in Kansas City. Hmmmph.

FINAL THOUGHTS: An easy reading, interesting family drama that will keep Angela Flournoy on my list of authors-to-follow.

RATING: I gave it four slices but it might only be a 3+. Overall, I liked it, but it is already fading as I now get immersed in the audio of Fates and Furies and print of The Sellout.

Pie Mentions:  Page 151 “Tamale pie”

 

 

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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.

Sorcerer to the Crown

Thoughts sorcerer_front mech.indd Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, Ace Books 2015, 371 pages

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I wanted to read this when Aarti mentioned it. Not sure why exactly, it certainly isn’t my typical read, but I was somehow captivated and knew this would be my first book for #Diversiverse 2015.

I am so glad that I acted on this impulse – I loved it!

I loved it for the vocabulary. See below.

I loved it for the energy, the vivacity.

I loved it for the confounding character of Prunella. She was unique and I loved her power-forward attitude.

I won’t review it – you can read Aarti’s review, or Jenny’s or Olduvai’s.

I want to read the next in the series. Crazy, right? (Long time readers of this blog know that I am usually a one and done (or not at all a fan) on series…) And on that note, I can say that the ending is sufficient as a stand alone book. Whew.

I should probably look for a GIF to do that whew… (and a BIG thank you to Jenny – my favorite GIF-ologist – for the always appreciated assistance: the right-click on image trick worked…)

Maybe not quite the right whew but it is VERY IMPORTANT to me when a series book does NOT end on a crazy annoying cliffhanger. (Patrick Ness I’m looking at you.)

One more cool thing… The Faery King has a lobster courtier.  copleyl But, of course.

 

Question for those of you all in the know, this book would be an excellent gift for a 14 year old, yes?

And finally, a book connection coincidence link:  and I quote “Since the decision to become a parent is invariably self interested, it is my belief that a parents obligation is to the child, and the child’s obligation is to itself.” –> this reminds me of the issue that irked me in the book I reviewed prior to this one. I LIKE this quote.

 

VOCAB – I learned a lot in this book. About magic and fantasy terms, mostly. I didn’t note page numbers this time, sorry.

manumit – (a word that shocks me that I don’t know) – release from slavery; set free

demesne – land attached to a mansion; legal possession of land

emolument – the returns arising form office or employment, usually in form of compensation; advantage

lamia – female vampire

cantrip – a witch’s trick

sigil – seal, signet, sign to have occult power

stoichiometry – branch of chemistry dealing with application of laws of definite proportions and conservation of mass/energy

froward – habitually disposed to disobedience

asafetida – the dried fetid gum resin of the root of several west Asian plants; flavor or medicine

theurgy – art of compelling or persuading a god to do or refrain

prolix – using too many words!!!

redound – to have a particular result

bombazine – a silk fabric in twill weave, dyed black

thaumaturgy – the performance of miracles/magic (doh)

dogsbody – a person who is given boring, menial tasks to do.

louche – disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.

putative – generally considered

dropsical – affected with an accumulation of an excessive amount of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or body cavities

bougie – a thin, flexible surgical instrument for exploring or dilating a passage of the body. OR urban dictionary: Aspiring to be a higher class than one is.

beldam – a malicious and ugly woman, especially old,  witch.

dido – perform mischievous tricks or deeds.

gutta percha – a hard, tough thermoplastic substance that is the coagulated latex of certain Malaysian trees

cant – lively, lusty

AND one that my i{Phone app for Merriam-Webster didn’t have (there were more but I didn’t capture)

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

Dollbaby

Thoughts dbbyllm dbbyllmA Dollbaby by Laura Lane McNeal, Penguin Audio 2014, 11 hours and 12 minutes

Do:            Read JoAnn’s review at her blog Lakeside Musings.

Don’t:       Think that my three stars means that I didn’t like it. I liked it!

Do:            Consider that the following publisher’s quote is something that I agree with; couldn’t say it better myself.

A big-hearted coming-of-age debut set in civil rights-era New Orleans – a novel of Southern eccentricity and secrets.

Don’t:       Be too sad that I don’t recall any mention of pie in this.

Do:            Remember this narrator because she did an excellent job! Click here to learn more about January Lavoy.

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.