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.

 

 

 

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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.
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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!”

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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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.

The Last Lecture

Thoughts  by Randy Pausch, Hachette Books 2008, 206 pages

Challenge:  not applicable
Genre: Memoir
Type/Source: Hardcover, a coworker’s library
 Why I read this now:  This caught my eye and fit my schedule.

MOTIVATION for READING: I didn’t realize he was a computer science professor. I probably knew this once but hadn’t gone out of my way to put this on my read-now list until the opportunity was thrust upon me.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Randy Pausch had a charmed life andorbu he designed his life to be wonderful; until and despite and through being diagnosed with cancer. This is the book encapsulating the presentation he gave near the end of his life.

WHAT’s GOOD: He seemed to be a pretty cool guy overall and presented much to admire.

What’s NOT so good: I was curious based on other reviews just how privileged-white-male he would come across and yes, he did: but he was, so. He had sound principles to live by and defended them well; he took good advantage of his ‘luck’ and also understood the responsibility side of the equation.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Lots of good nuggets of wisdom, inspirational.

RATING:  Four and 1/2 slices, no pie mentioned.

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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.

Fever Dream

Thoughts  by Samanta Schweblin, Riverhead 2017, 192 pages

Translated from Spanish by Megan McDowell

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Lit?
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle-Amazon
 Why I read this now: It was next on the list with a prominent spot on the bracket chart. 

MOTIVATION for READING: This one has been on my want list for some time now! but I was often deterred by cost per page. Gulp. Please don’t ask how much I’ve spent this TOB.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is an odd fast-paced frantic story of poison.

It’s about … uh,

parents caring for their children, witchcraft, and the fuzzy blurring of dreams and reality? I think. And worms.

No, not really, no worms.

WHAT’s GOOD: The pacing, the atmosphere.

What’s NOT so good: It’s too short! But this likely makes it perfect.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I believe this one the Summer version of TOB which I failed to participate in for whatever reason (the reason was moving from NC to RI; my whole world turned topsy-turvy in a good way). So I missed the wonderful discussion but the few reviews I did read (mostly yesterday!) suggest big themes so if you are curious, read this book and then go find a few reviews.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

“Sooner or later something bad is going to happen,” my mother would say. “And when it happens I want to have you close.”

Your mother is not important.

 

 

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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.

The End of Eddy

Thoughts  by Édouard Louis, Brilliance Audio 2017, 4 hours 24 minutes

Translated by Michael Lucey, Narrated by Graham Halstead

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Coming of Age, LGBTQ
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now:  It’s only 4 and 1/2 hours long. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I knew I could get it in by the end of January and have my monthly book reading stats LOOK GOOD.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Eddy is different. He knows it, everyone knows it. Though Eddy’s family does not understand nor  support him, his mother and father *do* love him, in small not-overcoming ways. At times, there was a tenderness. Heartbreaking, really.

WHAT’s GOOD: It is startling and raw. I keep coming back to these two words.

What’s NOT so good: How about a warning that it is not shy about describing EVERYTHING. Not for the faint at heart.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel that it was devoid of story. It is just a recounting of his childhood and all the ways he was demeaned by his family, his community, and himself; until he was able to escape. So it has a hopeful ending, which is nice.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

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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.

Stoner

Thoughts  by John Williams, New York Review Book 2003 (orig 1965), 305 pages

Sometimes, immersed in his books, there would come to him the awareness of all that he did not know, of all that he had not read; and the serenity for which he labored was shattered as he realized the little time he had in life to read so much, to learn what he had to know.

H

Challenge: Classics Club 50!
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle

MOTIVATION for READING: I had heard very good things about this book; I had expectations that it would be just the kind of book I love. And it was!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Stoner is a Professor of Literature at the University of Missouri. This book explores his entire life, start to finish.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing.

What’s NOT so good: I love contemplative character studies. If you don’t, just skip it. It’s OK.              I LOVED this.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m so glad to finally conquer this one! Yay me.

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned. Although, ‘magpie’ is.

“Outside, in the old elm that crowded the back-yard fence, a large black-and-white bird—a magpie—had started to chatter. He listened to the sound of its calling and watched with remote fascination the open beak as it strained out its lonely cry.”

 

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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.