March 2017 Recap

Collection of various thoughts…

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

This concludes the Tournament of Books.

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

pierating

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

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

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

pierating

Pie Chart Time


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

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.

Quick Update…

SO, um yea, THANKS! for the great comments and advice and good cheer.

I ended up reading a few more pages of Prologue to Love before admitting, “No, I do NOT like this dude.” and DNF for realz. I’m sad, though.

and Quiet just wasn’t doin’ it for me. Adios!

But I stuck with Hypocrite and let it audio itself all over my day while I packed and prepped for a weekend trip and then today finished it on a walk and a cool down. I really REALLY liked her essay on her visit to Poland and the concentration camps – gut punch. And I do ‘get’ her bit about the wedding industry and how we are all just a bunch of contradictions and it is best to recognize, laugh at and with and keep trying to figure this life stuff out as best we can. I give it three slices of pie and I don’t recall if she mentions pie or not.

AND!  the biggest result of releasing the guilt and pressure to continue books that are not capturing full attention is that I have read 3 eBooks since! A plane ride and insistence/determination to read my Kindle (damn thing, I really DO. NOT. LIKE. this archaic troublesome device thingie – I read as much on my phone and iPad) helped push me through three books that I gave four pie slices to and enjoyed mostly. All were quite different from each other:

tbdbysm trfocgbyje tlamcbysh

The Baker’s Daughter – Alternating timeline of a young German girl at the end of WW2 who marries a Texan. (also, must mention… there are recipes.)

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathon Evison – about a roadtrip of a 19-yo boy with his caregiver on the way from Washington state to Salt Lake City and the troubles each have before and along the way. Heartwarming, sad and humorous all wrapped up together.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – uneven but delightfully rompy. Recommended for anyone who likes far out weird crap and strong personalities battling other strong personalities while trying to find heart and soul amidst the chaos. Lots of humor and lots of ass-kicking with questions along the way that have answers that satisfy as best they can. Who doesn’t want to know an Erwin and want him on your team?

Not sure if I will write a post for each but just had to say thanks to the many commenting lovelies on the last post who recommended I MOVE ON ALREADY and so I did.

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Oh. What? You want to know what I am reading/listening to next?  I just opened and read the first few sentences of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and I believe I will be listening to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Anyone up for a June readalong of that? I’m not sure how much I will be able to listen in the next week so June might be perfect…

 
pierating

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 Secret History

Thoughts tshbydtndt The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Penguin 1992, Audiobook, 22’9″

Narrated by the author.

For RIP X.

My second book by this author. The 52nd book of the year.

DNF’d. (I got to about half way through. I am counting this as a book anyway.)

What’s it ABOUT: Five students enrolled in an exclusive Greeks program of a small liberal arts college decide that one of them must die. It’s not arbitrary – I would have voted to kill him, too, most likely. Maybe. He did get extremely irritating.

The fact of the murder is not a secret from the first page; this book is all in the slow unveiling and feelings (dread?) of why and how and probably the aftermath head-games but I gave up when it was taking too long to get to the dastardly deed.

I am thinking I sound incredibly heartless here. Oh well. IT’s FICTION, PEOPLE!

I couldn’t help but picture Holly Hunter while listening to this. Tartt sounds just like Hunter in Raising Arizona.

A few days after I decided I didn’t have the patience for 10 more hours of Donna describing every little thing and not getting on with the action parts, I read a list of what is required to make a book “Southern Gothic” Someone somewhere asked Ms. Tartt how she managed to make The Secret History a Southern Gothic, but she denied it by saying, “No it’s not; it’s set in Vermont.” LOL

Really now, I just got impatient and wasn’t quite sure if I would encounter anything new in the book – it was just. TOO. long. I’m sure I would have been much more inclined to read it if I had every studied Greek. OR a good book to read on a semester break or long weekend and definitely NOT the first weeks of September when the rush of school start and the TOO-MANY-THINGS to do of real life causes distraction stress.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.

Care
Pie – chapter 8, “Henry ordered an enormous dinner: pea soup, roast beef, a salad, mashed potatoes with gravy, coffee, pie and ate it silently and with a great amount of methodical relish.”

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The Witch of Little Italy

Thoughts twolibysp The Witch of Little Italy by Suzanne Palmieri, St. Martin’s Press / Macmillan 2013, 320 pages.

ebook. For the Bookies, my book club. I voted for this; sadly, I cannot recall which books were the contenders.

This is what has been said about The Orchardist, a book I recently enjoyed:

“Written with breathtaking precision and empathy, an astonishing debut novel. At once intimate and epic, evocative and atmospheric, filled with haunting characters both vivid and true to life, and told in a distinctive narrative voice.”  – blurb on goodreads.

And this is what has been said about Alias Grace, the book I’m currently engrossed with:

A stunning novel full of sly wit, compassion and insight, boasting writing that is lyrical, assured, evocative of time and place and seductive in its power to engage us.”   -Houston Chronicle

Let me just state: The With of Little Italy has NONE of that.

I first abandoned as DNF and then attempted to come back to it, skimming and finally giving up. One star. Annoying and tedious. Still, it might appeal to those who want a quick conversation-driven story involving family mysteries and magic. Plenty of drama, I guess. I just need more substance; this aint my kind of book.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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The Paris Wife

Sad Thoughts  The Paris Wife by Paula McClain, Ballantine Books 2011, eKindle on my iPad.

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I can tell that my mother still has amazing powers of influence in my life. Most especially when it comes to books. If she tells me she didn’t care for something, I can bet that I bring a bias to it not easily overcome.

My mom did not like The Paris Wife. I can’t actually remember what exactly she found displeasing or unsuitable, but I do remember she was not fond.

and so, I too was not fond.

Honestly, I was bored.

I did like the protagonist’s name ‘Hadley’.

Why it was her nickname? or why she went by Hadley and not her given name Elizabeth, I don’t recall.

I liked her spunk. Sometimes. By which I mean that sometimes she exhibited some spunk. I didn’t like that she felt lost and overwhelmingly lonesome when Ernie left on his first 3 week assignment. Come on, Hadley!  Find something to do!  (or go get drunk or … pregnant – THAT will fix things. I didn’t get to this point in the book — I am only assuming that might have happened.)

I was amazed that she was willing to hike through the Alps!  I was unimpressed that she chose to wear silly shoes to do so and then felt the need to tell me about it. Be practical, woman!

I don’t know much about Ernie other than to assume I shouldn’t like him. I did google some photos of young Ernie to see what he looked like and I will admit the man was ruggedly handsome. I wasn’t impressed with his moodiness.

I wasn’t impressed with Hadley.

I felt like I was reading a celebrity ‘tell all’ about the poor first wife of some great (?) – famous – person.  But I could never summon enough interest to care; except for wondering about other little things mentioned like the neighborhoods in Chicago/St. Louis and that guy who wrote Winesburg Ohio. His wife was named Tennessee? cool. I know absolutely nothing about Ezra Pound – what a name! Sounds like one from a different time. And Gertrude. I am intrigued by Gertrude Stein.

But this book felt like it was going to ramble on into the Poor-Me stories of the girl who had to clean up with the womenfolk after the big dinner and having to miss the fun of watching the football game on TV. Poor Hadley, missing the big conversations about culture and art and literature.  Hadley had to sit and have tea with Alice instead.

I was spectacularly aware of how each chapter ended with a doomsdayish ominous teaser about the pain ahead.

“Are you happy?” he said softly.
“You know I am.  Do you need to ask?”
“I like asking,” he said. “I like to hear it, even knowing what I’m going to hear.”
“Maybe especially, then,” I said. “Are you happy?”
“Do you need to ask?”
We laughed lightly at one another.

I was annoyed by this book. I made it about 1/4 of the way through.

 Two slices of pie. Avocado Meringue Pie.

For insightful, enlightening and much more credible professional reviews, may I point you to Fyrefly’s book blog search?  or click here – an impressive review at A Work in Progress.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. 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.

Ulysses and John Adams

You might think by the title that I am going to try and connect the story of Ulysses with one of the best presidents the US has ever had the honor to put to work but I am not.  I’m not that smart.

No, this title is only because I am combining mini-DNF reviews in one post.    [Sorry to disappoint.; this is just a housekeeping post, mostly.]

I was just entering a reading slump or perhaps Ulysses spurred it on but I was trying to hard to read just to click off many books and I truly think this kills reading enjoyment and motivation.   Every year, I set a high book count as a goal for the twelve months and mid-way, I falter.   This time the motivation was dead in February.  YIKES!

  I was reading the free eBook.

I really did want to read Ulysses and even though Fizzy and the gang of ReadAlongers were inspirational and so helpful in explaining the setup and symbols and related cultural references and the oddities that are Joycean, I couldn’t keep up.    Falter, indeed.

That’s all I’ll say about Ulysses.  Nope, that’s a lie.  As soon as I typed those words, all sorts of odd thoughts pushed to consciousness and demanded to be heard.  OK, maybe just one.   The others seem to have dissipated as I continue to type this tripe.  (wow, my dictionary doesn’t have tripe!?)     Anyway, that thought was:   I can see why people have jump in and make Ulysses and/or Joyce a fulltime job!   It’s so FULL.

and then we come to John Adams.   

I had checked out the audio of David McCullough’s bio and loved it.    Wow – what a guy!  I was inspired by his patriotism.  But it was only part 1 and the library doesn’t have part 2 (I know, right?  HUH.)   Or hasn’t yet alerted me that I can check it out via ILL.  Whatever.

He’s not going anywhere.   I want to buy the book and maybe read the second half.   And get the audio.    AND THEN see the movie!

And that is all.   Thank you.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. 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 Reviews August 2009

Mini Review #1  ajrbj Alphabet Juice by  Roy Blount Jr, Sarah Crichton Books 2008, 364 pages

If you love words; how they sound, how they feel in your mouth, where they come from and what they mean, the fun play of  arrangement  – you will love this book!    It’s just fun.   Fun with an exclamation point!  AND educational.    I actually have put this book down and now realize it has been weeks since I skimmed any pages.   But it’s more that I don’t want to finish this book – I want to have it to savor,  I want to keep reading and reading and not use it up.    I’m hoarding the pages?     I have a crush on Mr. Blount, I have to admit.     The book is organized by the alphabet (doh) and words are referenced elsewhere – so it’s NOT a book you read start to finish.   You jump back and forth and back and forth again.    It’s just fun.     Here’s just a wee taste:

“The country singer Don Walser, now deceased, was being interviewed by Terry Gross [for NPR].  She asked him about his yodeling.
He said he did two different yodels,  a cowboy yodel and a swish yodel.
A what?  Walser was a big hearty Texan who didn’t seem like the sort of performer who would get off on mocking sissy airs.  Anyway, yodeling very nearly transcends gender.  Even if you wanted to how would you make a yodel sound nelly?
Then I realized:  “Swiss yodel.”  When the soft
s and the y-as-in-yummy glide together they make the sound that for some reason we spell sh-:

Oh how I wish you
Would wish I would kiss you.

I would be the last person to argue that the sounds of our letters are thoroughly explicable.  (Did you know that Hell’s Angels refer to themselves as “AJ” because it sounds so much like “HA”?)*  They are a wonder on the tongue.  And a tongue – althoughRobert Benchley called it “that awful-looking thing right back of your teeth” – is what a language is.”

I’m very very glad I purchased this book so I can keep it forever.    Five Pie Slices   5*pieratingsml

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Not Quite A Mini Review #2  apfombji A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, (I cant’ find my book!?!???!??!)

I first must thank my fellow bloggers who have joined me and chimed in thoughts and provocative questions to make this a fabulously awesome reading adventure!    We’ve been twittering and hosting progressive ‘What about this?’ posts and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.   I believe this has enhanced my appreciation and understanding of the novel.     For now,  I’ll skip the who what where when why whackiness of this book and just say that I loved it.   I give it a 5 Pie Slice rating.    We’re still slogging through the discussion;   find us and add your thoughts here, or here, or here, or twitter search #owenmeany.

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Mini Review #3  tbsbeb Talk Before Sleep by Elizabeth Berg, Island Books 1994, 284 pages

On one account, this was a perfect transition book from Owen Meany, because it was a totally different style and genre.   On the other hand, I am not sure what book could follow the experience of reading Owen Meany – especially with the discussion going on.    But I only thought Talk Before Sleep was ‘OK’.    Being the over-the-top nice reviewer that I always must try to be, I can’t really criticize much and it’s very tough to be negative when the book subject is so, well,  heartbreaking.

This is about the last days of a woman dying of breast cancer and is told from her best friend’s perspective – how do you say goodbye?    Heartbreaking and yet, dare I say – life affirming?  Yes, life affirming in that death is a part of life.   This book was wonderful for contemplating and considering all those thoughts good and bad about knowing your days are numbered.   But.

Books like this which I call women’s fiction in the classic sense, must be relatable to be soul-touching.   And I didn’t connect.   I appreciated, I laughed at the gentle wise friendsome humor, I even cried.   But I didn’t like the women very much.    Not that I didn’t like them – I just don’t know any women like them.  (it’s quite possible I don’t have enough women friends, whatever that might mean)   so.   I couldn’t relate.     I didn’t share.   I was only a bystander for this book and well, that’s just the way it is.   I am grateful that I’ve not had this horrible disease touch me this close, knowing that odds are I will.     I gave it two stars in goodreads; but do remember, two pie slices or stars does NOT mean I hated the book or don’t think it is a worthy read.   It just wasn’t a terrific book FOR ME.    (and it could also be attributed to the letdown of coming off Owen Meany.)   I would still be open to reading other books by Ms. Berg.  🙂

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Preview Thoughts #4  twombcnmd The Wisdom of Menopause by Christine Northrup, M.D., Bantam Books 2001, 631 pages

I know very little about this phase I’m of the age to soon experience but I was a bit dismayed to read about how many women have personality changes and thus can expect to attribute such factors to changes in relationships, in which I mean marriage. Um, yea, OK.    huh.     But should I really be ready for warnings that I might consider divorce?!?!   what?    Struck me odd, I guess.    I thought it would be more medical-heavy not whole-life heavy, if that makes any sense.  AND I’m rather disappointed in the few mentions of endometrial ablation (only 2 pages) and NO listing under ‘A’.     No one I know in casual conversation, calls it an “endometrial‘ ablation;  we all discuss ‘ablation’.     (and trust me, in my circle of women friends, discussions of ablations come up quite frequently.)    I wish I could say my initial reactions to this book so far are silly.    I’m sure I’m just over-reacting.   (the word hysteria is discussed on page 259)

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Mini Review #5  tewtffdd Trigonometry by Douglas Downing, PHD, Barron’s 2001, 326 pages

Um, I didn’t finish this but I was so excited in my last post to share that this is written not as a textbook but as a fantasy novel that I was just TOO excited, thinking it would be FUN!    It wasn’t fun.   I didn’t even get through the first chapter.   I’ll give you the intro and let you do your own research (yea, right)   But!   if you know a kid who might enjoy a math textbook in somewhat fantasy story format, go for it.    Not for me, nor the kid I’m tutoring.

“INTRO, first paragraph:     This book tells of adventures that occurred in a faraway fantasy kingdom called Carmorra.  During the course of these adventures, the people developed a brand-new subject, trigonomety.  By reading this book you can learn trigonometry.  The book covers material that is studied in a high school or first year college trig course.

“First Chapter:   It rained for days.  Everybody in the entire kingdom of Carmorra was forced to stay inside to avoid the drenching downpour.  I took refuge in the king’s palace along with the other members of the Royal Court.    Marcus Recordis, the Royal Keeper of the Records, stared dolefully out the Main Conference Room window.  “Rain rain, go away; come again some other day,” he sighed.  He watched the rainwater slide off the sloped roof of the palace.  “I think we should change the tilt of the roof,”  he remarked.  “If we made the roof steeper, then the water would run off the roof more easily.”

Gerard Macinius Builder, the Royal Construction Engineer, looked up from the drawings he was using to plan his latest building project.   “If you want to change the steepness of the roof, you will have to be very specific and tell me precisely how much tilt you want.”

“I don’t known [what’s the thing I put in here to say this is exactly how it appears in the book?, sic?] how to measure the amount of tilt of a roof,” Recordis complained.   But Builder has other problems.  He was staring at his drawings in puzzlement.

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* No, I did not know that Hell’s Angels refer to themselves as “AJ” because it sounds so much like “HA”.   I love the letter ‘h’, by the way and I spent many hours as a kid wondering how to spell ‘h’ as it is pronounced:  aitch?  aytch?

Wild Calls

I’m thinking about toying with the idea to maybe, just maybe, commit to posting every day in April.   How’s that for a fixin’-to-get-started-to-maybe-try something?   I can be wishy-washy to the extreme.

In fact, I can still remember asking my mother what ‘wishy-washy’ meant after reading one of the Peanuts* cartoons accusing Charlie Brown of being so.    I have always been a little creeped out by Charlie Brown ever since.     Why?   Because , much to my chagrin, I strongly felt an affinity of personality with ol’ CB but much preferred Lucy.   I wanted to be strong and confident and self-assured like Lucy and not like Charlie Brown!

Anyway, I am now WWwwaaaaaaaaayyyyYYYY off topic for what I wanted to yap about in today’s post.     I thought this would be a short quick post, too!

I used to tell everyone and anyone that I hated Jack London.    I don’t know what happened to me in Junior High when I must have been forced to read The Call of the Wild.   I have ever since associated London with boring and COLD arctic writing.   Ugh and BRRRrrrrr.

However.

Maybe I’m matured since then.    Last week while subbing at the high school in the Special Ed Department, my tasks were to play the last chapter of The Call of the Wild and hand out a questionnaire.     Gosh darn it if that stupid CD player quit with about 20 pages left to go!

So, I read aloud the rest of the book.    Out loud.    I think I did a decent job of it, too.    The kids followed along – I could tell because they would flip the page as I flipped a page and we got through it.     I felt like I earned my money that day.

And I was impressed with the writing! I will no longer deride Jack London.    (But I don’t think I’ll run out and read anything, either.)

And maybe I have a new calling to do voice overs and read aloud audio tapes of books!    Do you hear a career calling to me?    That would be wild, huh?

But that would require a decision, wouldn’t it.

*   I learned about the word ‘sarcasm’ from reading Peanuts, too.

Fifteen Days Into January

You probably don’t need me to tell you that it is day 15 of the new year.   However, I’m aghast at what has happened to my reading since the last page of the 2008 calendar was torn off, crumpled into a ball and thrown into the rubbish.

I have (or should I admit to the past tense of that possessive and say HAD) such high hopes to post all my challenge buttons in the sidebar and on a dedicated page, to list the books for those challenges, and last but not least, actually READ something.

I am ashamed to admit that I have completed my first book of the year.

First.   Meaning ONE.   Singular.   Within 15 days.

I have DNF’d one; I just wasn’t in the mood!   It was not a horrible experience*, I just kept finding most anything to do besides pick it up and continue once closed and set on my nightstand.

Alas, this is hardly a good start to this year’s goal to read 100 books.

* I put down Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope. I realized, that after 5 days of ignoring it, that maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for politics** right now.     This was the large print version that I purchased with gift money, with the intent on adding it to the library of the nursing home where I volunteer.   Since I wasn’t reading it – and it’s so close to the inauguration – I decided it best to give it to my friends rather than let it collect dust and remind me of my reading slothiness.

Besides, so many exciting thrilling fascinating books have been in line and two of them are due at the library in one week.   I’ve GOTTA get busy!

**  I’m such a bad American…