The House of the Seven Gables

Thoughts by Nate Hawthorne, Kindle edition (orig 1851), 290 pages

Category  1. 19th Century Classic

I loved this!  The more I think about this wild tale, I fondly smile and reflect and think, “YEA!”

I had no idea. To be perfectly honest, (what a NUTTY turn of phrase is “perfectly honest…”), the first 20-25% should be considered an Introduction and read AFTER not before.

The story and the characters are quite endearing! Let’s see how much I recall from October . .  .

Old lady nearing the state of being house-rich + cash poor and …    tenuous at best. A dear sweet scary looking old lady who just needs a friend for pete’s sake!  (I know I would have LOVED her and could have made her a fast-friend) anyway…   Dear-sweet-old-lady opens a shop in her old house to sell crap and confectioneries to adorable little kids (ok, one kid – but what a lovely little rake, he is!) when “Distant Adorable Cousin” shows up to help and move in and get away from the country.

(This is obviously a condition of the times….  sweet cousin shows up and says “HI! can I stay here?” and they all say, “Sure, why not…”)

OH!  but drama.  And it was … cute!  fun! I don’t know…  not as scary as T-rumpville?!

Anyway, there’s a ghost, there’s family history, there’s house-history, there’s devious family members trying to usurp other poor family members and it was

a fun read.

But. WOW was that first quarter part a slog.

(Even if, in hindsight, it kinda sorta helped set up the fun of the rest of it…)

 

I rated this 4 stars.

“The wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones and… becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.”

This just might have been my favorite of the books I read that count for the Back to the Classics Challenge…   maybe

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.

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.

Love in a Cold Climate

Thoughts by Nancy Mitford, Hamish Hamilton 1995 (orig 1949), 343 pages

Challenge:  Classic Club 50 and Back to the Classics 2019 – By a Woman Category

BTCC Berlin Booksclassicsclub1

**AND** What’s in a Name 
Challenge 2019Temperature
Genre: British Class Capers?
Type/Source: Library
 Why I read this now:  Classics Club Spin October 2019

MOTIVATION for READING: Curiosity about the Mitfords

Page 33: “… and everything too much in apple-pie order,”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A rich society girl with a scheming mother and dutiful father decides not to do as expected.

What gr says: “Polly Hampton has long been groomed for the perfect marriage by her mother, the fearsome and ambitious Lady Montdore. But Polly, with her stunning good looks and impeccable connections, is bored by the monotony of her glittering debut season in London. Having just come from India, where her father served as Viceroy, she claims to have hoped that society in a colder climate would be less obsessed with love affairs. The apparently aloof and indifferent Polly has a long-held secret, however, one that leads to the shattering of her mother’s dreams and her own disinheritance. When an elderly duke begins pursuing the disgraced Polly and a callow potential heir curries favor with her parents, nothing goes as expected, but in the end all find happiness in their own unconventional ways.”

THOUGHTS: 

Yea, let’s discuss the “in the end, all find happiness” – really?  I thought the ending SO abrupt!  I’m left shaking my head, “what did I just read?” “what IS this?” Who really was this Polly girl – so truly naive?” Oh goodness me. Maybe just like her mother?

In some ways, this book was extremely fascinating.

I really liked Fanny. I thought she was beautifully written into life. I enjoyed her very much.

I think I am just glad the book is done. I can say I read it. I now have an inkling about who was Nancy Mitford, I am not at all opposed to reading more by her and about her, and this book suffered from being the book I read immediately after A Handful of Dust.

Dust was another tragedy/comedy of the Brits and their moneyed ranks, just set  a generation or so prior. And much more tragic and not very funny. Dark funny not silly funny.

I really say “really” too much and I really am spending too much time with the British upper crust these days!

Three slices of pie.

Page 109: “several wheelbarrows were filled and the contents taken off to be used as manure for cottage gardens or chubb pie, according to taste.”

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.

Census

Thoughts  by Jesse Ball, HarperAudio 2018, 4 hours 52 minutes

Challenge:  Tournament of Books 
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now:  Looking at my list, this was a short one. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  Winner of the 2018 Summer TOB

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A physician discovers he is suffering from a terminal heart condition and so he takes a job as a census taker; he muses philosophically on this father-son adventure. The author’s note in the preface states this is in homage to his brother who had Downs Syndrome.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s well-told and interestingly odd. Or oddly interesting?

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t get it. I am going to need to do my review-research to find out why exactly this is such an awesome tale. I was not overwhelmed with admiration and joy but it had its amusing and thoughtful, insightful and dare I say? quirky moments. Definitely ODD.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Not the book’s fault but I am only giving this

RATING:  Three slices of pie.

The book DOES mention pie!  and I highlighted a few texts that I am hoping will come over from Audible?  Hope so.

Chapter 7 – “Win my tart of a sister…”

Chapter 10 – “Perhaps some pie.”

 

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from BkClubCare aka Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Dark Rooms

Thoughts

3328CC7B-EF2C-4939-82A2-351E6525B4AF by Lili Anolik, Wm Morrow 2015, 323 pages

Review in six words:  sisters, murder, siblings, whodunit, bad parenting

Free flow ramblings:  Grace is the older sister to a cooler more wild, more world-wise Nica who shows up dead by gunshot. Setting is a boarding school so of course, we get class issues, drug use, promiscuity, all of it. Nica is sleeping with everyone, it seems, so we wonder who ISN’t a suspect? But the school and the police conveniently find a suicide with confession note. Gracie isn’t buying it. A few of the situations she gets herself into are almost ridiculous but we buy it because kids are confusing and confused and doubts are huge; motivation-exploration and self-awareness are numbed by drugs and avoidance even as she keeps placing herself into conversations and confrontations to solve her sister’s murder. All is solved in the end and those plot turns and twists are just a part of the ride.

I don’t “get” the title… oh wait! I do!! Ha, ok, took me way waaaay too long, but Mom is a photographer. I guess that’s the connection. Mom is a real peach if you like fiction with icky mother-daughter storylines.

Rating: three slices of pie.

 

 

 

pieratingsml

 

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.

Standard Deviation

Happy Day!  Happy 4th of July! Happy Birthday USA!! Happy4th

Thoughts  by Katherine Heiny, Vintage 2017, 322 pages

Challenge: Personal, just a whim
Genre: non-plot driven family focused comedy?
Type/Source: Tradeback/can’t recall
 Why I read this now: not sure about this, either

MOTIVATION for READING: Somewhere I read a positive rec on this and it landed in my lap. Jumped into my book-buying basket somehow. I don’t remember! I could possibly have been swayed by the mathematical-ish title.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I have another video to share. Crazy, right? I do these with zero planning and then they make it into a post here while I probably should be doing other things. Like vacuuming.

WHAT’s GOOD: It *is* funny, but not wildly funny. (Why do we always have to qualify what is funny? such a personal odd thing: humor…) It has funny moments and witty insights and nutty characters.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Oh just watch this. See how I try to bury these so you have to read to the end of the post before you realize I have a video? Is this passive aggressive? I’m asking too many self-consciousy questions.

RATING: I give this 4 slices of pie – I enjoyed it. I’ve been reading too many heavy books. This fit me right when I needed it.

Well, wasn’t she the sneaky one with that cottage pie!”

 

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.

 

Together

Thoughts  by Julie Cohen, Orion 2017, 299 pages

Challenge: Book Club
Type/Source: eBook / Amazon for Kindle
 Why I read this now: Choice for my bookclub

MOTIVATION for READING: See above.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Epic LOVE story! swoon. “A secret YOU WON’T SEE COMING!!!!!!!!!’ yea, OK. Bring it.

Bare bones plot: husband and wife have a secret. We go backwards in plot to find out what the secret is.

Let me try again?  Husband has Alzheimer’s and spares his wife the risk that he will blurt out their secret in his dementia.  OOPs – that’s a spoiler, isn’t it?  We go backwards in time and events to explain things we don’t learn about in the first chapter. They have kids – or do they?

Uh….

Robbie and Emily have been intensely in tune and in love with each other since the day they met. Her family has not been supportive. They run away together and live their lives on their own terms. Finally, the risk of their secret catching up to them requires Robbie to take a devastating turn. Whatever will Emily do?!

WHAT’s GOOD: The over-the-top warnings (setup) of surprise!!!!!!

What’s NOT so good: Dialog, heavy handed warnings. Poor dialogue. Plot point setups that cause eye-roll strain, clichés, characters that never convince… Everything but the kitchen sink. My over use of the word ‘ugh’ while reading. Must I go on?

FINAL THOUGHTS: Hey – don’t let me convince you! Read it and see if you like it because plenty of people do. I am in the minority. It’s not THAT bad, apparently.

The gr score is 4.02 out of 1763 ratings! I’m clearly not hurting the overall score. Whew.

It really is the kind of book that makes me smash things in jealousy and wonder if I could/should write a book. But then I think, nope – it’s not in me. I tip my hat to Julie Cohen for all the efforts to write a book and more kudos to getting it published AND sold. Really, I do!

RATING: The one star in goodreads is for “I didn’t like it.” So one star it is has to be, but I do feel bad about it.  A good thing, I guess, is that I am in the minority. Most of my book club is reporting it as a GOOD READ!  Please decide for yourself.

Pecan Pie is mentioned!  One star and a half?

Spoilers:   (just run your cursor over the space below.)

I didn’t figure out the SURPRISE too early, but suspected it when his Dad was in England in the war years. And then when Mom freaked when he arrived to meet the folks, I figured it out – they were half siblings – they had the same papa. 

 

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.

Priestdaddy

Thoughts  by Patricia Lockwood, Audible Studios 2017, 10 hours 12 minutes

Narrated by the author.

Challenge: TOB Nonfiction May
Genre: Memoir
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible

MOTIVATION for READING: I had heard this one was quite funny. I like funny.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Can I just say that this book is so much more than any synopsis can attempt to share? let’s see what the goodreads blurb has to say:

The childhood of Patricia Lockwood, the poet dubbed “The Smutty-Metaphor Queen of Lawrence, Kansas” by The New York Times, was unusual in many respects. There was the location: an impoverished, nuclear waste-riddled area of the American Midwest. There was her mother, a woman who speaks almost entirely in strange koans and warnings of impending danger. Above all, there was her gun-toting, guitar-riffing, frequently semi-naked father, who underwent a religious conversion on a submarine and discovered a loophole which saw him approved for the Catholic priesthood by the future Pope Benedict XVI – despite already having a wife and children.

When the expense of a medical procedure forces the 30-year-old Patricia to move back in with her parents, husband in tow, she must learn to live again with her family’s simmering madness, and to reckon with the dark side of a childhood spent in the bosom of the Catholic Church. Told with the comic sensibility of a brasher, bluer Waugh or Wodehouse, this is at the same time a lyrical and affecting story of how, having ventured into the underworld, we can emerge with our levity and our sense of justice intact.

Ok, maybe it does. Or maybe you have to READ THIS BOOK and then realize how much you really were forewarned but didn’t quite expect until after. Does that make any sense to anyone?

First, I admit that I was instantly struck with a “Yes-I-Want-To-Read-This-Please” thought when I saw she was from Kansas. I have a big soft spot in my heart for the state of Kansas.

Two, even though I’m not Catholic (I’m Lutheran by upbringing), most if not all of my friends growing up WERE Catholic. SO I *know* enough about that religion to have an understanding – especially in comparison to Lutheranism. Yea, whatever.

Third, I had to find out a few things that struck me odd about this blurb. Um, a priest who is ‘frequently semi-naked’? And… they let her (or disallowed – which could it be?) to put that in a book!? I’m still rather shocked. Did any of his parishioners READ this book!?  yikes.

WHAT’s GOOD: Remember when I said, “this book is so much more”? I fell into the author’s words like a feather into a down pillow. I agree very much with the bit in the blurb that describes this as “a lyrical and affecting story”.

This would be an interesting story to contrast with Educated, for father analysis.

What’s NOT so good:  My midwestern mild-mannered sensibilities were quite offended. No, not offended… What IS the word? I just can’t believe she put this stuff into words and published it! I am so much more private, I suppose. Yikes!!  It’s been enough time away that I can’t even remember the particulars but I remember the shock and awe.

Reminded me of the question in The Animators about using other people in our art.

And… I have to admit that I didn’t think this book was for me at the beginning. The author narrates and this can always be risky. It took me one or two hours to adjust to the tone and what I interpreted as snark in her voice.  But I’m glad I stuck with it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I love that the LOVE in this family is evident. They may not get along but they love fiercely anyway. That is my impression. What a contrast to Idaho, hmmm?

My favorite story – laugh out loud funny – was the one about Patricia and her mother checking into a Hilton Hotel and there was cum on the sheets. I kid you not. OMG.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

It is always tough to catch pie references while listening to an audiobook but I do have these notes to share:

Lots of pie. In the Intro, even. In Ch 2, she mentions working in a diner and the owner looks like he wants to smash pies into faces. Also, a mention that Mrs. Ford got eye surgery and can now read her pie recipes.

 

 

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.

Educated

Thoughts  by Tara Westover, Random House 2017, 352 pages

Challenge: TOB Nonfiction May
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Type/Source: Hardcover / Barnes and Noble
 Why I read this now: TOB Nonfiction May

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB Nonfiction May

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is Tara’s story of how she had to sacrifice a relationship with her family to find herself. Upon the urging of a brother, she decided to try to take the ACT. She was 15. She taught herself enough math to pass the exam and on her second attempt to try and raise her score, she succeeded in qualifying for acceptance to BYU. It’s a fascinating story and well told. With some hard work and some luck, a few missteps and some hard choices, she eventually earned her PhD in history and now teaches at Cambridge.

WHAT’s GOOD: Yowza, what an upbringing she endured. Her father is a misogynistic whack job. Her mother survives the best she knows how, I suppose.

She never set foot in a classroom until college.

What’s NOT so good: I had no issues.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I wish Dr. Westover all the best.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

 

 

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.

Cold Comfort Farm

Thoughts  by Stella Gibbons, Penguin 2006 (orig 1932), 233 pages

Challenge: Classics Club Spin for April
Genre: Satire? “Comic novel”
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library
 Why I read this now: Spin and library had a copy – woo hoo!

MOTIVATION for READING: I originally had this on my Club 50 because it was a book I saw on many people’s done-read list and I wanted to get in on that.

“He was a tree-trunk; a toad on a stone; a pie-thatched owl on a bough.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Supposedly, it makes fun of the classic style of British farm novels? I have not read any British farm novels so I can’t comment to that.

Poor orphaned Flora finds out that her inheritance will not be quite adequate to live on so she decides to crash on relatives who will have her. They all acquiesce to the idea but she can’t go to them all, right? so she picks the one that will most benefit from her influence:  Cold Comfort Farm. She arranges marriages, lets the bull get some sunshine, finds servants to wash her curtains, gets one cousin to ‘realize his ambition’ which allows another cousin to realize a dream. One cousin is discovered as Star Material for Hollywood talkies and another discovers the health benefits of travel. It’s quite crazy and madcap and all arranged by Flora’s capable hands.

All that and she somehow herself is proposed to; she gets to fly off to live happily ever after.

“Henceforth her life would be one of exquisite sunny natural content.”

WHAT’s GOOD: I did find it funny. Not laugh out loud joke funny but amusing. I loved that every mode of transportation and all mediums for communication are utilized.

What’s NOT so good: Well, it’s an old book set in another time, so it has a few crass mentions of ‘other’ that are stereotypical and insensitive but only a couple. It really isn’t kind to women, either, tbh. And by that, I mean poor women.

I did scratch my head a few times in mild bewilderment and some questions never get answered. Do we really want to know what Aunt Ada Doom saw in the woodshed? No, no we do not. And what exactly did they do to Flora’s father that they had to accept penance of taking in Flora? And who was Adam?  I never did figure out who Adam was but shrug. No matter.

[Updated to add:   I remembered to read the Introduction by Lynne Truss who explains and admires this work in terrific prose. So, anything I didn’t get was because I can be obtuse – ha! The Intro is fab. Be sure to read it; get THIS edition with the cow on the cover so you don’t miss it. And, if you’re like me – you’ll read it after so nothing is spoiled. I would never read an Intro before a book. Why oh why do they want me to read it first?!]

FINAL THOUGHTS: I kind of wish I had a Flora Poste to interfere in my life… She surely would have some sensible advice to provide.

RATING: Five slices of apple pie.

“What they was having themselves proved to be apple tart and vegetables, so Flora did quite well.”

 

 

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.