Category Archives: Debut Novel

Detransition, Baby

Thoughts by Torrey Peters, One World / Random House 2021, 340 pages

Challenge: TOB Summer Camp, Women’s Lit Prize Long List

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Trans Women, Motherhood

Type/Source: Hardcover / Library 14 day loan

What It’s About: A well-told well-organized humorous and sympathetic no-holds-barred look at a triad-parenting question. We meet Reese, a trans woman who desperately wants to be a mother, her ex-lover — originally James then Amy now Ames, and Ames’ boss/lover Katrina who in discovering herself pregnant, considers much more than just her future as a parent. What does it mean to be a family? What does it mean to want to be a mother? It’s all quite complicated.

Thoughts: A fascinating look at sex and gender and transsexuality and the human condition. The writing is vivid, it’s very readable – meaning that I didn’t want to put it down. Reese is a very unique multi-faceted character; prickly, wise, troubled and tender.

I only had one quibble about “women” wanting to be mothers or not and saw my own experience briskly dismissed – it’s not worthy mentioning. Of course, we tend to believe things that present as absolute and just are not. Tendencies to make grand statements and quip stereotypes; but that is probably just a reflection of society and reminder that we just can’t make grand statements about what certain people might think and believe. It’s damn complicated.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Lots of pie.

“When they moved to New York from Seattle, they did this thing where they invited other married couples over to watch Cheers and eat pie.”

page 21

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

TOB Update 2021 March Week 1

Hello!

Let’s talk Tournament of Books.

The first week is complete. I submitted a bracket to the #LitsyToB21 group but I’m not participating in the goodreads group because I can’t make heads-nor-tails of how the forums work there. [I comment occasionally.] WHOA! to that spreadsheet upon first glance and though I admire to the hills and valleys the person who prepped and is tracking that… WOW! Wow, very much wow.

Much fun! Let’s see if I can recap my thoughts…

oooooo! My newest TOB tee should arrive tomorrow.

Back to the TOB: Round 1 was the Play-In round and I was cheering for The Resisters. (they are in contention for the 2021 Lit Pie Award) but I also enjoyed The Down Days more than I expected. I was slowly agonizingly reluctantly easily-distracted-from reading Red Pill on Sunday, the day before #TOB21 started and thus I only read about 10% in.

Red Pill won. Of course it did. BUT! the good news is that I’m much more motivated to read it rather than rush through it just to finish before March 8.

First Round: Deacon King Kong was the first of the short list I read. I sit and think about that. I really rushed through these books! And wow. WOW. I did love it. I love McBride as an author. The challenger in this round was the most controversial: Tender is the Flesh. I gave it 3 stars to DKK’s 5. THANK GOD that DKK had pie, of course it would. But TY that TitF did NOT. A book about cannibalism with its message of humans against humanity and humans against climate and humans being horrid was not going to win against a book about the goodness of community and realizing that with flaws, humans *CAN* have some redeeming qualities. I loved Deacon. (Whew.)

Second Round: A Children’s Bible vs Memorial. I liked ACB. It had flaws, but I like the style and confidence that the author writes with. I did not like Memorial but I will give a hat tip to the qualities it is said to exemplify. I think the author did a disservice being the narrator for the first half. It felt staccato and unmoored. (I was bored listening to Memorial.) I am embarrassed how much of the biblical references of ACB – of which there were so many – -I must have been oblivious to rain in a thunderstorm, I just didn’t think about. I think I read this too fast? I am OK with M being advanced.

Third Round: TK (Transcendent Kingdom) vs. WRUS (We Ride Upon Sticks) – Holy Salem Witchcraft WRUS wins! I did not expect. And so, I’m set a bit adrift. Huh. I agreed with all the fans of TK that is worthy. May it ever be so zombie-able. But the love for WRUS had me cheering for that one all over again. I admired TK. I laughed with WRUS. I could, upon reflection, consider TK to be transcendent (yea yea) and thus “serious”. I seriously expected TK to win. I do not expect WRUS to move far. WRUS was too long. I loved the SAT essay.

Fourth Round: Interior Chinatown (IC) vs Luster. I gave Luster 5 stars. It took me some time to get used to the font of IC’s screenplay but I enjoyed it enough and see what is admirable. I did not have any sense which might prevail. I think, after reading through all day’s commentary, that I’m more a fan of Luster. It made me laugh. It made me laugh in shock and uncomfortableness, but what struck me the most, was that the MC never was whiny and never wallowed in self-pity and THAT was made me feel astonishment. Tim and I exchanged a quote-off. I highlighted a few and wanted to share.

So much goodness in the Commentariat. Judgments have been thoughtful and well-received.

My favorite time of the year.

GO ROOSTER!

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Down Days

Thoughts by Ilze Hugo, 2020, 368 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, South African Lit, Pandemic Dystopia

Type/Source: eBook/Kindle (on sale)

What It’s About: Based on a what-if expounded from a true tale of a unique contagion, this story follows a ragtag group of characters through parallel search and rescues, backdropped against growing angst and society mayhem.

The virus’ main symptom is laughter. Yes, you die from laughing. Thus, laughter is outlawed and comedy clubs are driven underground. This may sound flippant and I don’t mean to be – I think the author did a fabulous job balancing the ridiculous with the sensitivity of this being a deathly disease. She had a deft touch in style and tone. The more I try to describe what I liked about this book, the more I appreciate it.

I was immediately captured by the characters and was instantly rooting for them. Well most of them; I’m not on team-Piper but she comes around, too. Dare I say that this is “fun pandemic adventure?” Sure, people are dying and the government is attempting super control what with scheduled medical check stations around town and requiring a medpass. I enjoyed the mystery and the capers, the race against time, the icky ooey descriptions and especially the words that were explained in the glossary.

Rating: Four slices of pie:

He’s also got fingers in other pies, not always steak and kidney.

and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??

who to create space?

Luster

Thoughts by Raven Leilani, 2020, 240 pages

Challenge:  TOB Shortlist
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle
 Why I read this now:  These TOB books just fall into some order without real thought. In other words, I don’t recall why exactly this was next. (WHY do I even ask this question? or: Why do I think I must answer?)

MOTIVATION for READING: #sigh

A sunlit dream where I do better.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I’m trying to figure out how to answer this…  Shall I just do the blurb from gr or should I pretend nobody reads this and I only need to write something that will remind “future-self” what I read way back in January 2021?  Let’s do both.

Goodreads: “Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else’s open marriage.

Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties—sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She’s also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric’s family life, his home. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.

Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make her sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.”

My turn:  (pretending I didn’t just read what I dropped in above.)  The MC is a young black woman trying to figure out her life and her motivations. She seems to be a sex addict, seems to be rather ambivalent and apathetic about this fact and also that she knows she is the token black woman and should want to do the be-better-to-look-better crap requirements that white corporate America foists upon token blacks in the workplace but she’s just trying to pay rent. This book is FUNNY. Shock value funny. Uncomfortable funny. Reminded me of The Sellout by Paul Beatty.

“I am good, but not good enough, which is worse than simply being bad. It is almost. The difference between being there when it happens and stepping out just in time to see it on the news.”

Our MC wants to be an artist. She confronts her motivations and her ideas that she must be in pain to produce good work. (I made up that – she never really contemplates that out loud, does she?) I really admired her ability NOT to get depressed and give up!  But she really doesn’t have the energy or rather most likely recognizes that ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ fix-your-life bullshit is truly bullshit for most people without the means and support system of family, privilege, circumstance. So she finds herself in a family with privilege and explores the circumstance. She wrestles with do the right thing or just ride the waves with what she can get away with. Does she really have choices?

“I remember when my parents tried to tell me this, the only time in their miserable marriage they were ever united. It must be strange for every black kid, when their principal authority figures break the news that authorities lie.”

THOUGHTS: There is no whining, no debilitating frustration. She is fascinating.

Yes to these words: Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender.

I think I was blown away by this book. In my top 3 for TOB so far.

RATING:  Four slices of pie, with sneaked forkful on another. With lots and lots of bourbon whipped cream. Ok, just give me that fifth piece already.

“a highly designed editorial nightmare from a boutique imprint experimenting with pomo cookbooks, formerly an imprint that specialized in Crock-Pot tips and a series on pies that employed the authority of a titular Presbyterian Grandma.”

“…slave narrative about a tragic mulatto who raises the dead with her magic chitlin pies;”

 

 

VOCAB:  Saditty (comparative more saditty, superlative most saditty) (US, dated, slang, chiefly African-American Vernacular) Acting snobbish, arrogant, or superior; uppity; perceived to be trying to associate with a higher social class.

Capoeira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ] or [kaˈpwɐjɾɐ]) is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. … It is known for its acrobatic and complex maneuvers, often involving hands on the ground and inverted kicks.

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.

Now in November

Thoughts   by Josephine Johnson, Simon and Schuster 1934, 231 pages

Challenge:  Classic Club
and
Back to the Classics Challenge PLACES I HAVE LIVED (Missouri)

BTCC Berlin Booksclassicsclub1

**AND** What’s in a Name 
Challenge 2019Month/Day Category
Genre: Depression Era, Pulitzer Winners
Type/Source: Library
 Why I read this now:  I was trying to find something for this WiaN category – come to end up reading 3 books to satisfy. #whatever #shrug

MOTIVATION for READING: I saw this on my tbr and it fit the category and the library had a copy – possibly a first edition copy? (I was having a hard time finding a copy of One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes which IS in my cc50. This just happens to be a classic; NOT on my cc50…)

Page 144: “When everything was finally dead, I thought that relief from hope would come, but hope’s an obsession that never dies.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A family trying to eke a living out of the ground in the midst of the depression. Older sister is a fish out of water, the youngest sister and mother are inspirations, Dad is wearily lost and angry about it all and our narrator just aches with  feelings and thoughts that only confound.

What gr says: “Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage, this Pulitzer Prize-winning first novel (1934) written when Josephine Winslow Johnson was only 24, depicts a white, middle-class urban family that is turned into dirt-poor farmers by the Depression and the great drought of the thirties. The novel moves through a single year and, at the same time, a decade of years, from the spring arrival of the family at their mortgaged farm to the winter 10 years later, when the ravages of drought, fire, and personal anguish have led to the deaths of two of the five. Like Ethan Frome, the relatively brief, intense story evokes the torment possible among people isolated and driven by strong feelings of love and hate that, unexpressed, lead inevitably to doom. Reviewers in the thirties praised the novel, calling its prose “profoundly moving music,” expressing incredulity “that this mature style and this mature point of view are those of a young women in her twenties,” comparing the book to “the luminous work of Willa Cather,” and, with prescience, suggesting that it “has that rare quality of timelessness which is the mark of first-rate fiction.””

THOUGHTS:  I would NEVER have compared this to Ethan Frome, but yea. I guess I could go there. (I shudder.)

Such pain. Such loss. I worry about our world now and how much we use and discard, in our disposable society. If I had to live simply and off the land, giving every extra penny to my mortgage, thinking of it as a terrifying weight that could drag me to my death with any next scratch of a pen; … Anyway, it is a sobering look at how people managed, or didn’t, in that awful time.

The descriptions of nature offer some glimmer of love and sunshine. But even the sun gets cursed in this one.

Brilliant, evocative, poetic, savage.

Four slices of pie.

Page 28: “He cut us big slices, firm and wedge-shaped like the tall pieces of a pie, and a bigger one for mother, and then we thought it was time for the presents to be given.”

Page 115: “He did it because he liked pies, he said, and was fearful that M would fall asleep and put away God knows what in the jars.”

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.

The Dud Avocado

A review and a clarification…

First, the response to the comments on the prior post: I did not mean to imply that WordPress is hard and difficult to figure out. I really REALLY do think it much more preferable than Blogger – especially when I do hear that platform has not been updated ever. Yikes. WP is better at spam filtering, if nothing else.

It was only that I didn’t want to deal with any changes. I want my OLD way I’m used to. If I do take the time to relax into it and deal, I’m sure it will be lovely. I just couldn’t do quick because I couldn’t FIND my tags and categories. Not a big deal. I could have taken the time to ask customer service where they are hiding this feature in the latest upgrade, but I was in a hurry.

That said,

I’m right now typing this on the WRITE-NOW button that is available to me and I’m rolling with it.

READY for my REVIEW?

Cool. Here goes.

by Elaine Dundy, 1958, 260 pages, Kindle Edition

I loved the Introduction to The Dud Avocado.
I actually read it first, too, and I don’t remember why. (I never read the Intro to a classic if I’ve yet to read the story!! What has happened to me?!)

Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish The Dud Avocado. I did enjoy the breezy style in the beginning and I chuckled in amusement with her observations and challenges of living in Paris as a young lady in the 50s.

But then I put it down and left it a few days and when I did come back to it, I couldn’t figure out where it was going. I put it down again and then, then,

oops. The book expired and I wasn’t able to read on. It was a library eBook and Too-Much-Time-Passed… POOF! It was gone.

DNF and I’m not that sorry. I can always check it out again.

I’m still going to count it for the What’s in a Name Challenge

Fruit or Vegetable Category 

 

And it is on my Classics Club 50 list so WOO HOO!

 

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.

Allegedly

Thoughts   by Tiffany Jackson, Katherine Teagen 2017, 400 pages

Challenge: 
Genre: YA
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: (sorry, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy this nor why I read it now.)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Our protag is a young girl living in a group home; she has been serving a sentence for murder since she was 8.  Allegedly she killed a baby that her mother was babysitting. She has been mute most of the time since arrest-conviction-sentencing but is starting to remember what happened that night. To complicate matters, she has acquired a boyfriend and finds herself pregnant. She wants to keep this baby AND go to college but without a kind and caring support system and considering her situation, neither is likely.

WHAT’s GOOD: The pacing and suspense is crazy! The wondering the second-guessing, the horror of the justice system in this case is mind-blowing. And there is a question of trust. Is this poor girl a true unfortunate case of drawing every bad deal? Or …

What’s NOT so good: The ending. It was not a satisfactory ending.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This book wore me out. Not for the faint at heart. It has received a lot of praise and it also has a few critics for that ending. Do your own research.

RATING: Three stars.

 

 

pierating

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.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Thoughts on a Book to Complete a Challenge…

I FOUND IT!   What I wrote in my June Round UP:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest was terrific! I really enjoyed it. I was saddened to see gr reviews by friends who did NOT like this or read a review that convinced them they would not like it so are crossing off lists! I REALLY liked this book and found much that appealed to my reading emotional self. It’s all just crazy. That’s OK. Too each their own. But I would LOVE to make Joann read this and change her mind and then sit and discuss over wine….  (Wow – I don’t usually try twist peoples’ arms to read a book but it somehow keeps poppin’ up in my recall that she is thinking this won’t appeal to her…)  I think that what one reviewer found annoying, I found tongue-in-cheek amusing, so it made me chuckle where the other person reacted with DNF and/or chucking the book across the room. Funny, huh?

I thought I missed one book to complete the What’s in a Name Challenge; the the Compass Direction category. A little late in the year for me to start worrying about it, but #shrug. But anyway,  I decided to do a look-see through my goodreads My-Books Read list…  I searched “North” –> nope, nothing for 2017. I entered “South” –> nothing, again, for 2017. Then “East” –> sure enough –> nada. OK, only one more compass direction to look up, “West”.

AND DING DING DING!!!  We have a winner!

I did not do a dedicated review (in a timely manner, ahem) since I failed miserably at this task for most of the last six months. SO I am here now writing on to satisfy the challenge and give a little jig and celebrate a reading challenge for 2017. Kick up your heels and join me?

I give j.Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest Kitchens of the Great Midwest FIVE SLICES of APPLE PIE!

Did you have some successes in reading challenges for 2017 that I can help YOU celebrate?

 

pieratingsml

 

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.

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

Thoughts  by Jordan Sonnenblick, Brilliance Audio 2011 (orig 2004), 4 hours 31 minutes

Narrated by Joel Johnstone – great job!

Genre: YA/Middle School Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: It was short.

MOTIVATION for READING: I don’t often remember by motivations, I sometimes just read things, buy books, let the mood and whim drive me. That said, I do know that I bought this purely because it had PIE in the title. Audible sent me an email specifically targeting my pie obsession and I didn’t think twice. Probably didn’t think once.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: When I hit play on my phone to start this audiobook, I didn’t have one clue what it was about. I didn’t know it was kid lit. I only expected drums, girls and pie. Sure, I suppose I could have guessed that a book with this title could be about a teen boy who plays the drums and chases girl. Shrug. I didn’t really think about it at all. I just hit PLAY.

And what I found out was that Steven is in a middle school jazz band and he is a very good drummer. He is infatuated with the prettiest girl in class and has a girl best friend that he really doesn’t treat very well. We (yes, I just switched to the plural all of us, ‘we’) learn that Steven has an annoying little kid brother named Jeffrey, age 5,  who — of course — knows just how to annoy his big brother, whom he idolizes, of course.

Then we find out that Jeffrey has leukemia.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kick in the gut good. Heartfelt and compassionate. And it’s FUNNY! Yes, there is humor.

What’s NOT so good: As a teacher, I found myself getting very emotional to those suggestive thoughts that we never quite know how to help our students and don’t often know what hard things they are dealing with. This hit close to home for me. I feel like I didn’t do enough for my students this year and I also don’t know what I could have done but there is always ‘never enough’. This isn’t a complaint or criticism of the book but I actually wish I had listened to it before May. I don’t have time to fix any of the never enough cases I want to attempt to help with. Prayers will have to do at this point in the school year.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you are a middle school teacher or any teacher who appreciates a funny and loving book that has teacher-student interactions, I recommend.

As a goodreads friend reviewed, “Very very sweet. And it’s even a cancer book.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. (The dangerous pie isn’t edible.)

“… and what of the classic apple pie?”

 

 

pierating

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.

The Hate U Give

Thoughts  by Angie Thomas, Balzer + Bray 2017,  464 pages + 11 hours 40 minutes

Narrated by Bahni Turpin – excellent.

Genre: YA
Type/Source: eBook and Audio / Amazon
 Why I read this now: It’s a hot book right now!

MOTIVATION for READING:  This story is getting lots of praise and I wanted to get in on that.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Starr is a sixteen year old black girl who lives in a depressed area of a big city and attends a prep school in a predominantly white area. One night after a party, Starr is given a ride home by young black male friend and he is pulled over by the cops. He is shot and killed; Starr has to navigate this event up close and personal. Her cultures clash, her identity is fractured; she is scared and angry.

WHAT’s GOOD:  Thomas decided to give the world this gift of fiction, a story, in response to and an exploration of the Black Lives Matter movement. It isn’t a story specifically addressing the movement, rather a situation that stresses the realities and the complications that many blacks face in our country. Where to live, where to go to school, how to navigate threats to body and soul?

“We have a sustained problem in America,” Thomas said. “When officers take off that uniform they’re no longer a ‘blue life’ – I can’t take my black skin off. I wanted this book to explain why we say those three words.”

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I thought it extremely well done on so many levels – a gripping read, a sympathetic character, believable and complicated supporting cast members, a forceful not-unreasonable emotional tone, great pacing. It offers humor, some punches to the gut, a candid look at humanity.

“Pac said Thug Life stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?” – Angie Thomas

– Link to article explaining the Tupac quote that gives this book its title.

RATING:  Four slices of pizza pie with lots of extra crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.

 

 

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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.