Category Archives: Family

If Beale Street Could Talk

Thoughts by James Baldwin, Vintage 2006 (orig 1974), 197 pages

Challenge: 20 Books of Summer, Book to Movie

Genre/Theme: Civil Rights, Love Story

Type/Source: Tradeback, Indie Bookstore purchase

What It’s About: I’m rusty. I was on SUCH a good roll of writing/posting/sharing my book thoughts and now, I can’t think of thing to say.

This is the story of first love and family love. And heartache. Both for the young couple and because of the tragedies they are swept up in, for whatever family is and should be. The way Tish’s family supported her and Fonny, contrasted with how Fonny’s family (exception, his father) was not able to do the same. Sad and unfair. Nothing was fair.

“The only way anything gets done is when you make up your mind to do it.“

Thoughts: I was gutted at the end. I’m not sure I can recall a book that quite did what this one did AFTER the last page was read. I closed the book and sat and just welled up, welled over. And felt almost a physical sensation, shock-like.

Rating: Five slices of pie.

Sweetie pie.

 

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.

Everyone Knows Your Mother is a Witch

Thoughts by Rivka Galchen, Macmillan Audio 2021, 8 hours 47 minutes

Narrated by Natasha Soudek.

Challenge: 20 Books of Summer, TOB Summer Camp

Genre/Theme: Historical Lit, a Witch Trial

Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible (cover above links to more)

What It’s About: The author discovers the true fact that the mother of renowned astronomer, Johannes Kepler*, had been accused to being a witch. She vibrantly brings it all to life. I’ve added all her books to my tbr.

Set in early 1600s. Trades people are working, soldiers are off fighting, the bureaucrats are doing what bureaucrats do, the plague is happening, etc. And Frau Kepler is just trying to be a good citizen and neighbor, tend her garden and take care of her cow. But some neighbors are not so happy with her and it snowballs. Katherine Kepler at first dismisses the original charge with a rolling of the eyes but then realizes NO! she will not tolerate lies nor her character being besmirched. And her kids support her, which was sweet. Fascinating, stuff! at least to me.

“…it’s a prime example of the mash-up genre tragicomedy. Katharina’s circumstances are dire and discouraging at best, but her tone and observations about the people she encounters and the situations she finds herself in give the narration an undercurrent of humor..“

Week 11 of Summer Camp TOB: Activity Leader Jessica Klahr

Thoughts: Well done. Well researched and fabulously presented (AND narrated!) Though I did feel that the ending fizzled out and lost some of the sparkle that enthralled me in the middle.

Rating: Four slices of pie. With lots of whipped cream.

The next (story) was that of a pie seller…

Apple Tarts were also mentioned

 

Discuss: 1) Do you have any favorite tragicomedies to recommend?

2) Do you enjoy Historical Fiction? I do, but I don’t necessarily seek it out. Do you? Any favorites from the Renaissance Period?

3) If anyone had casually mentioned Kepler to me, I’m not sure I would reflect on what makes him ‘famous’ – perhaps I would wonder if his name on a math theorem comes to mind? How about you? Are you All IN and knowledgeable about Kepler’s contributions to astronomy/optics/geometry? (I am not. And I recently read a book featuring German mathematicians! But they were 20th century…)

 * Johannes Kepler was a German mathematician and astronomer who discovered that the Earth and planets travel about the sun in elliptical orbits. He gave three fundamental laws of planetary motion. He also did important work in optics and geometry.

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.

One True Thing

Thoughts by Anna Quindlen, Delta 1994, 289 pages

Challenge: 20 books of Summer, What’s in a Name / “ONE” Category

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Child-Parent Relationships

Type/Source: Tradeback/Gift from a friend

What It’s About: Ellen is young and ambitious, making her father proud. But then her Mom gets sick and her father basically orders her to quit her job – her career – her life to move home and care for Mom. She does but she does it to prove a point to her dad more than because she even slightly wants to do it.

But her Mom is the smartest and the bestest of them all. Ellen has to figure it out the hard way.

Your father was better at it. Much better,” she looked at me and added, “I’m sorry.”

That’s all right, I said, a little mystified because I was not sure what the apology was for. For so long I thought about myself as a girl who walked away from her mother’s life, that it would be a long time before I would start to think about the other part of the bargain, how easily she’d let me go.

Thoughts: Wow – what a story! Heart-wrenching. Not only does Mom die a horrible death by cancer but then Ellen is accused of murdering her. She spends a night in jail because . . . apparently Dear Dad didn’t even know about the arrest. The trial, the aftermath, the reconnection. Just wow.

I loved it.

Thank you Trish of Love Laughter Insanity for sending this book to me in 2012.

Rating: __5__slices of pie. Cherry once and pumpkin twice!

I cooked and cleaned and read; I simmered casseroles and made pies.

 

What’s in a Name host site: Carolina Book Nook

 

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.

Whereabouts

Thoughts by Jhumpa Lahiri, Alfred A. Knopf 2021, 163 pages

Translated from Italian.

Challenge: 20 Books of Summer, TOB Summer Camp

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Woman Thinking About Life

Type/Source: Hardcover, Library

What It’s About: Our unnamed main character narrates these vignettes of her days and the places these days take her. She excels at solitude.

“The tenderness he sets aside for me is enough.“

Her father was stingy, stingy at love and felt his family was a burden. Her mother never found her footing and took it out on the daughter. Each chapter seemed to have powerful last lines.

I mourned those wasted tickets, and that trip never taken, more than I mourned for you.

Thoughts: Provocatively written. Is provocative too strong a word? I could not stop reading; it was an insistent little book. It “evok[ed my] interest, attention, or and admiration in a powerfully irresistible way.” (the definition of compelling.)

Disoriented, lost, at sea, at odds, astray, bewildered, confused, uprooted, turned around.

I’m related to these related terms. These words are my abode, my only foothold.

(from Nowhere, page 153)

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. However, there is a chapter that mentions pastry often and another had me searching for cat’s tongue cookies.

We say goodbye, separate. Then we, too, become two shadows projected onto the wall: a routine spectacle, impossible to capture.

 

 

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 House in the Cerulean Sea

Thoughts by TJ Klune, A Tom Doherty Associates Book 2020, 394 pages

Challenge: #20BooksofSummer

Genre/Theme: Middle School Fantasy / Magical Children

Type/Source: eBook / Libby app

“I’m told there will be pie for dessert. I do love pie so.”

What It’s About: Linus is a caseworker investigating orphanages for Magical Children. He is super diligent about his job and his duties, very committed. He is sent on a special mission to report on a secretive home, classified Level 4 – where only the most special (scary) magically-gifted children live. Love and just a bit of mayhem ensues. Mostly love.

“Hate is loud, but I think you’ll learn it’s because it’s only a few people shouting, desperate to be heard. You might not ever be able to change their minds, but so long as your remember you’re not alone, you will overcome.”

Thoughts: I had a Linus character in the book I just read previously! LOVE book-coinkydinks.

I believe this book is suitable for the Middle School reader which is fine, but not quite my thing, so any “I LIKED IT” rating (cough, cough, 3 stars) is based on my own personal reaction and should be considered as such. If you adore lovely heart-warming fiction and like these kinds of books, you are SURE TO LOVE THIS ONE; I would bet on it. Just look at all the rave reviews on goodreads! But for me, I was thinking it a bit too twee. Maybe if I had actually read any of the reviews and had my expectations tempered some, I would also have fallen head over heels but I didn’t here.

It’s still quite charming and well done in drawing delightful characters, celebrating and embracing what makes us unique and is an endearing family creation story.

“We should always make time for the things we like. If we don’t, we might forget how to be happy.”

Rating: Three slices of pie. I do say, LOTS of pie quotes to choose from.

“But there is pie,” Zoe said. “Baked especially for you.”

 

 

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 Cold Millions

Thoughts by Jess Walter, Harper 2020, 351 pages

Challenge: TOB 2021 Long List

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Wild West Miner Labor Struggles

Type/Source: ebook / Libby to Kindle

What It’s About: Rye is the main character of this highly researched, creatively constructed story involving the efforts of miners to organize against corrupt law enforcement and the corrupt mining industry leaders of Spokane Washington in the early 1900s. Rye is a teenager hobo-ing the rails with his older brother trying to find honest work. They meet anarchists, actresses, union organizers and everyone in-between. Most have good hearts and some do not. Are we motivated only by a base self-interest and self-preservation?

Thoughts: Maybe it started a bit slow for me but by the end I had been captivated and enthralled by the interesting history, the character development and how much I was rooting for Rye to find a good place to land where might have a chance at American opportunity. I loved it.

And it had lots of pie.

Rating: Five slices of pie. Apple ♦ cherry ♦ mincemeat ♦ rhubarb and “tart” as derogatory term for immoral women.

 

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.

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.

A Tale for the Time Being

Thoughts by Ruth Ozeki, Viking 2013, 433 pages

Challenge: TOB Favorites

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Time Travel

Type/Source: eBook / Library -Kindle

What It’s About: A fascinating story that interweaves across time and distance and offers up a few mind-benders and reality-suspension moments. A writer named Ruth, experiencing a lack of motivation in her current project, finds a package washed up on the beach of her remote Pacific Canadian island. Inside is a journal, a watch and a collection of letters written in French. I think the language is English essentially, but culturally Japanese ; the journal-ist is a young Japanese girl suffering from a tumultuous change in her standard of living and location. Her father lost his silicon-valley job in California and uprooted Nao to Japan – a foreign world to her. She writes as if she knows the reader, addresses her directly, tells her all about her life, her horrid school and the bullies there and also her great-grandmother, a 104 yo Buddhist nun. Ruth is the reader and takes on the challenge of being Nao’s friend. Across time, across the ocean, across practicality.

For the time being, Words scatter . . . Are they fallen leaves?

Thoughts: It’s a wonder it works. I’m sure for many, it doesn’t; but for me it does. There’s word play, dream movement, thoughts on the precarious nature of our world and the environment. There’s history, there’s violence, brutal brutal violence, and yet there is zen, and hopeful hope. I just adored Jika! I wasn’t so sure about Ruth, but she is going through her own growth spurt through doubt with Nao so it made sense to me. Oliver is a treat.

I keep thinking about this story. I think it will be one of those I remember and think about and grow more fond of as time goes on.

“She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (French pastry, however…)

To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.

—D gen Zenji, Uji

 

Up is down. Down is up.

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.

Proud Shoes

Thoughts by Pauli Murray, Beacon Press 1999 (orig 1956), 282 pages

The Story of an American Family, part of the Black Women Writers Series

Challenge: My own education/ What’s in a Name: Article of Clothing category

Genre/Theme: History, Feminism, Civil Rights

Type/Source: Tradeback, purchased from an Indie bookstore

What It’s About: Pauli explores her ancestors’ lives; shares their struggles and triumphs throughout the 1800s. It is fascinating and a very personal look at the Civil War from a new lens – NOT historian’s but real people. The forward compared it to Alex Haley’s Roots and suggested it as a more important work, certainly as good.

“Slavery had done such violence to the human spirit that the very memory of it was intolerable long after people had outlived it. Even in my time many were trying to grow without roots at all, plucking their sustenance from the air about them.”

Thoughts: Six years ago, I had read John Ehle’s The Free Men about the civil rights campaign in North Carolina. I wish I had read these two books together due to the same setting and only a half generation apart.

“Was it not the promise of America rather than it’s fulfillment which had lured the men and women of so many nations to her Shores? Did not the common love of liberty create a new nation and hold it together in the hour of its greatest need?”

Rating: Fives slices of pie. Apple pie, peach pie, meat pie, pie.

The Big Quarterly… Tables and stands sagged under piles of fried chicken, roasted beef, barbecued pork, smoked ham, meat pies and dumplings, pickled pigs’ feet, fried fish, sausage puddings and scrapple. Almost as many white people came to observe the gaiety and buy meals from the stands as did colored people. It was the one time of the year when slavery and hard times were forgotten, and for a day at least even slaves felt like free men. (Wilmington DE, 1850s)

 

Link to host of the What’s in a Name Challenge: Caroline Book Nook

 

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.

Red Pill

Thoughts by Hari Kunzru, Knopf 2020, 305 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit

Type/Source: Hardcover/Indie bookstore – signed by the author!

What It’s About: A writer suffering from ennui accepts a 6 months sabbatical in Germany to focus on his next project. He finds himself unable to defend his views and ideas; ultimately his sense of identity begins to crumble. Against more powerful and sinister philosophers (and egos) that come onto his path and also attempting to make a friend who provides warnings of a possible future based on a recent past, he both grasps at diversions and falls into inertia and paranoia. It’s a wild ride in his mind.

Thoughts: I was NOT in the mood for this – or what I *thought* this was. I’m not even sure what I wrote above is accurate. Let’s look at the last sentence on the book jacket:

Red Pill is a poignant reckoning, boldly searching for order in a world that frames madness as truth.

So when this book advanced from the Play-In round and was discussed by much more discerning and eloquent thinkers than me, I decided to keep on and give it room to breathe, rather than rush through to get it done. I liked it, I got into it. I let it lead me on through the angst. The East German surveillance state chapter was terrifying. I am glad to have read it.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

… the whole point of Red Pill was the narrator’s inability to wrestle Anton’s authoritarian bloodlust to the ground and best it. (Quote from TOB Commentariat member @KROConnellNYC)

 

 

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.