Category Archives: Family

A View of the Harbour

Thoughts by Elizabeth Taylor, Virago Modern Classics 2006 (orig 1947), 304 pages

Introduction by Sarah Waters

Challenge: Buddy Read with Laila of Big Reading Life; Set At or By the Sea Category of #ReadICT

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction; quiet small British seaside village post-WW2

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Watermarks Indie bookstore

What It’s About: This story focuses on the inter-relationships of the neighbors living directly on the harbour; from the doctor’s family, the pub workers, the widowed proprietor of a tourist wax museum, the librarian, the vicar, etc. The pivot view to all begins with Bertram, a painter who has moved to the area for the season: to catch the right light off the sea, to capture the perfect seascape, to be “an artist”. He fancies himself a man-of-the-people as he rudely? comically? insinuates himself into the neighborhood. A lot of life happens in this book.

“Always intelligent, often subversive, and never dull, Elizabeth Taylor is the thinking person’s dangerous housewife. Her sophisticated prose combines elegance, ice wit and freshness in a stimulating cocktail – the perfect toast to the quiet horror of domestic life.”

Valerie martin

Thoughts: I love this author. True, her stories do not have a lot of action exactly, but they have drama! and depth and comedy, beautiful sentences and interesting glimpses into every character – the good and the bad, the endearing, the appalling. Ah, not really! not that much appalling exactly. Well, maybe. (One more reason I love classics – humans have always been dastardly and behaved badly, amiright?)

“I know who to,” Beth said, shocked to find herself ending with a preposition. But she was much thrown out by the surprise of it all.”

Rating: Four slices of pie. LOTS of whipped cream. Shepherd’s Pie mentioned

“Forking up shepherd’s pie with an expression of contempt.”

 

 

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.

All Boys Aren’t Blue

Thoughts by George M Johnson, Macmillan Audio 2020, 5 hours 12 minutes

Narrated by the author.

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Color category

Genre/Theme: Nonfiction, essays, LGBTQ+

Type/Source: Audiobook / eLibby

What It’s About: This is a collection of essays detailing the author’s growing up in a loving family and also identifying with interests more socially conditioned to be typically girl things – like double-dutch jump rope at recess. They talk about trauma of bullying, wanting and fearing being different, identifying as queer, how much their Nanny provided in love and support, their education from a black perspective, and their sexuality.

The memoir is a firsthand account of trials, tribulations, and triumphs that have made George M. Johnson into the person they are today.

—Coryandre Wright (IMDB link)

Thoughts: I learned a few things! Important work – they’re willing to share and I am willing to know more and do more about how to promote respect for all humanity and be a good human.

This book was requested via my library because school districts near me have banned it. I wanted to know why and I wanted to show community support for books and marginalized people. I believe a couple of things when the topic of books and age appropriateness is discussed; 1) if a kid reads something they don’t understand, they look it up and/or ask a trusted adult to explain more, or 2) they just skip over it because they don’t understand it or it’s just not relevant to them to relate to. They aren’t groomed or seduced or corrupted. If a kid is seeking out this book, they just might need it and it would be best for all to be able to discuss and pour love not judgement onto the situation. Education, education, education. I respect the parents that take the tough questions and build trust rather than promote fear and shame. Love and respect. Stand up to hate. Have the tough conversations.

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.

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.

In Concrete

Thoughts by Anne Garrétta, Deep Vellum 2021, 185 pages

Translated by Emma Ramadan, co-owner of one of my favorite indie bookstores: RiffRaff in PVD

Challenge: TOB 2022

Genre/Theme: I have no idea!

Type/Source: Tradeback / Personal purchase from Watermark Books

What It’s About: Two precocious French girls adore their tinkering big-idea whacky fix-it father and help him pour concrete to fix up the summer house amongst other things/places/etc. They defend the honor of neighbors and attempt to ditch school (well, our narrator does) and she tells her little sister stories of the escapades while waiting for rescue when said sister becomes encased in a cement mixing & pouring mishap. FULL of amusing wordplay and punny turns of phrase.

Thoughts: A fun book — if you aren’t trying to rush through it to get it done. Alas!

I really had to force myself to slow down and not rush this. I became enthralled with curiosity for HOW the translator managed to capture and play with the words in English, only assuming the jokes must have been different in the French. My questions were answered; the book includes notes from the translator. Fascinating stuff.

No grout about it!

Very clever, a lot of fun. Their POOR MOTHER! The entire family is quite endearing. I get how some thought it a bit overdone, perhaps; but I decided to relax and go with it and feel rewarded for my effort.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Easy as pie? no way.

“Once little sis and I had unblocked our glands, it was easy as 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.

The Sentence

Thoughts by Louise Erdrich, Harper 2021, 387 pages

Challenge: TOB 2022

Genre/Theme: Adult Literature

Type/Source: eBook / Library

What It’s About: This is the story of Tookie, a Chippewa woman in Minnesota who works in a bookstore. The book starts with how she came to commit a crime, be sentenced and serve time in prison. A former teacher sends her a dictionary and so begins a love of reading. This same teacher helps her get the job at the bookstore once she is released from prison. This is also the story of how one of the bookstore’s most loyal customers dies and begins to haunt Tookie when she is at work. The story is timely; we see the dates approach March 2020 — the start of the pandemic. And June, when George Floyd is murdered at the hands of the cops. And the subsequent protests.

Thoughts: As I attempt the above paragraph, I find my appreciation growing for how Erdrich accomplished all of the personal and broad storylines, as well as weaving in the love of reading. There is a grappling of balancing political issues and getting involved and this was successfully done (to me) — effectively paced with empathy, love, and respect; everything I love in my literature. I would even say she manages a balanced lightness with heavy topics and was able to bring some humor to the humanity.

I found that I could not read just any book. It had gotten so I could see through books—the little ruses, the hooks, the setup in the beginning, the looming weight of a tragic ending, the way at the last page the author could whisk out the carpet of sorrow and restore a favorite character. I needed the writing to have a certain mineral density. It had to feel naturally meant, but not cynically contrived.

Rating: She even included pie! Rounding up to 5 slices of pie. A book lover’s book: the author provides a list of all the books mentioned in the text.

I grew up in Rondo and that was a warm neighborhood, full of kindness, pie, elderly folks, kids, craziness, and sorrow. It was a place to belong. All my life I’ve missed it, but never understood until now.

 

PS I voted this for my TOB Zombie.

 

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.

These Precious Days

Thoughts  by Ann Patchett, HarperCollins 2021, 320 pages

Challenge: I have love and adoration for AP

Genre/Theme: Memoir/Essays/Nonfiction

Type/Source: Hardcover / Purchased as a ticket for a virtual event (which I missed…)

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (Her latest, The Dutch House, was nominated for the Pulitzer) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; she published a collection of these called This is the Story of a Happy Marriage in 2013 between two best-sellers State of Wonder (2011) and Commonwealth (2016). She pub’d this one, this year and it’s a heartbreaker, consisting of goodness.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love her.

Here’s what I said in my review of This … Happy Marriage: “From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact:  1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan . . . “

So this new collection is also just a few random essays but the title one refers to her friendship with an artist, a friendship that began slowly and by a series of cogs, levers, acts of this and then that and THEN the pandemic. I cried with this essay, but I also cried on the very first essay and it was about .. oh, well, OK. It was about death. That essays don’t die. I cried at a few other lovely essays, too.

Maybe I should get my thyroid checked again. I cried lovingly.

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I find AP inspiring. I want to reread this book already. I’ve put Updike on my tbr. I have added Eudora Welty to my tbr. I have placed a book called Barking to the Choir by Gregory Boyle on my tbr.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

“That was when I started cutting frozen butter into pea sized chunks with a frozen knife in my frozen hands to make a pie crust..”

pierating

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.

Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit

Thoughts by Jeanette Winterson, Grove Press 1985, 176 pages

Fruit salad, fruit pie, fruit for fools, fruited punch.”

Challenge: n/a

Genre/Theme: LGBTQIA+ coming of age

Type/Source: Tradeback / Used Book Store Purchase

It is not the one thing nor the other that leads to madness, but the space in between them.

What It’s About: Jeanette is a young girl being groomed to be a missionary. She’s the adopted daughter of a very headstrong woman and an inconsequential father. Jeanette loves the Lord and loves the church and is OK with being considered odd because she has a purpose.

If the demons lie within they travel with you.

Eventually, however, she begins to have doubts. Especially when her friendship with Melanie blossoms into a special love. The church disapproves.

People do go back, but they don’t survive, because two realities are claiming them at the same time. Such things are too much. You can salt your heart, or kill your heart, or you can choose between the two realities. There is much pain here. Some people think you can have your cake and eat it. The cake goes mouldy and they choke on what’s left. Going back after a long time will make you mad, because the people you left behind do not like to think of you changed, will treat you as they always did, accuse you of being indifferent, when you are only different.

Winterson weaves parables and fantasy stories of wizards and King Arthur into this semi-autobiographical tale and I enjoyed the heck out of her voice, her turn of phrase, her interesting thoughts on how the world works.

“She asked if it was the woman who served pie and peas in the pub; Doreen didn’t know, but now that she thought of it that would explain why he always smelled of gravy when he came home late.”

Thoughts: It all worked for me. Enjoyed this very much.

“Best thing to come out of France,” the woman declared, biting her Bourbon.

“What about quiche?“ I reminded her.

“Right, that’s right,” she nodded.

Rating: Five slices of pie. Mince pie! and quiche.

“I have a theory that every time you make an important choice, the part of you left behind continues the other life you could have had.”

 

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.

Meet Cute Diary

Thoughts by Emery Lee, Quill Tree Books 2021, 400 pages

Challenge: Recommended by a friend

Genre/Theme: LGBTQIA+ YA

Type/Source: eBook / Kindle sale

What It’s About: Noah is 17 and blogger of ‘meet cute’ stories for trans youth. Noah was identified as female at birth and is now identifying as male, with respectful acceptance by his family; he spends the summer in Colorado with his college-age brother as his parents find a house in California, moving from Florida.

Updated 24+ hours later: It seems I missed a key plot element in how Noah’s brothers’ girlfriend, Maggie, misgendered Noah when they met and this understandably set Noah to dislike her with a furious intensity. Apologies for my careless reading attention to this event.

Thoughts: Noah has a lot of growing up to do; this could be a coming of age story, I guess. He was both so gosh darn earnest AND set in his (wrong?) opinions. For example, he did NOT like his brother’s girlfriend but never really convinced me, no analysis. He was such a slacker, it annoyed me. Basically, I am NOT the right age or target audience for this book to appreciate the vagaries of youth. However, I did learn a few things about pronouns and that is a good thing.

I can’t bring myself to write in the Diary. It’s probably just shooting myself in the foot since really, I should be online proving to people that love is real, but I can’t work past the churning in my stomach. I just want to go to sleep forever, or at least until my mom restores my credit card.

The book has pie and pastry baking, so it has that going for it.

Rating: Two or three slices of pie.

“I jolt back at the sound of laughter, whipping around to find Maggie standing in the kitchen, a plate full of pastelitos balanced in one hand.”

 

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.

Yoga Pant Nation

Thoughts by Laurie Gelman, Henry Holt & Co. 2021, 256 pages

Challenge: Local bookclub pick for October

Genre/Theme: Mom Lit

Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

What It’s About: Jennifer, our main character, wears many hats and has a snarky attitude that makes it all come together. She is class mom to the fifth grade class with her youngest, baby sitter 3 days a week to her oldest daughter’s 2 year old, is trying to keep up with her parents, gets recruited to be the chair of the school fund-raising committee with a goal of $10,000, and is in training to be a spin class instructor at the local gym. She gets lots of curve balls thrown at her like one does as a premier family juggler of the sandwich generation. AND it’s set in a suburb of Kansas City.

Thoughts: It was fun. A VERY fast read. I don’t subscribe to her yoga pant love and I was thrown off by the many ‘ya’ drops in the dialogue, but minor quibbles. I would have gone with the yea or yeah spelling, myself.

And it has pie. She made six pumpkin pies for the Thanksgiving bake sale. I wouldn’t have made six and I don’t have an 1/8th nor 1/16th! going on that she does. Just another proof that the more you have to do, the more you get done.

Rating: Three or four slices of pie. Pumpkin and key lime.

“He just stuck his face in a key lime pie, and we called it a night.”

 

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.