Nothing To See Here

Thoughts by Kevin Wilson, Harper Luxe 2019, 329 pages

Challenge:  Tournament of Books [Bracket]
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source:  Tradeback LP / Library
 Why I read this now:  Came in off hold and had the next due date

MOTIVATION for READING: It’s that time of  year…

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  OK, now this is the fun one!  A non-motivated 28-yo is invited to a friend’s house and given an odd opportunity – take care of the friend’s stepkids, keep them out of sight from the press, and ensure they don’t set anything on fire. Because these two kids are fire children. They can burst into flame when anxious or upset.

THOUGHTS: I enjoyed this odd tale and its odd apathetic narrator who doesn’t know anything about children. It had a few laugh out loud moments and was heart-warming in the end.

RATING:  I might have rated it four slices of pie.,but it is rounded up from 3 1/2.

 

 

 

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Candide

Thoughts by Voltaire, Project Gutenberg 2006 via iBooks (orig 1759), <200 pages

For the TRANSLATED Category of the Back to the Classics, thus allowing me to claim 9 completions for the challenge!

Translated from French.

What is this book about? The adventures of a naive and mostly optimistic young privileged white boy who is brought up to believe he lives in the best of times. It is a satire. He is often beaten, robbed, swindled, abandoned, arrested, beaten up again. On the other hand, he is often rescued, meets many interesting people, finds true love and creates amazing friendships.

Yea, . . . I wasn’t in the mood and am pretty sure I did not “get” the divine meaning of this folly.

Basically, mankind sucks. Make the best of it, if you can.

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The Ox-Bow Incident

Thoughts by Walter Van Tilburg Clark, Kindle edition (orig 1940), 290 pages

Category  2. 20th Century Classic

A cowboy book, out on the range. Reminded me of western movies, and maybe I ‘ve seen the movie based on this book but if I did, it was a very long time ago.
I would like to see the film (again) eventually.
It’s about good versus evil and mob mentality. It’s about wanting to see what happens, fear of missing out, not sure how to stop it but sure as hell gonna try. It’s about quite a bit and it is very masculine-centric.
“Most men are more afraid of being thought cowards than of anything else, and a lot more afraid of being thought physical cowards than moral ones.”
It’s about uncertainty. It’s about power. It’s full of dread.
“you can feel awful guilty about nothing when the men you’re with don’t trust you.”
It is right and wrong, black and white and yet exposes all the ambiguity.
“…getting angry enough not to be scared when you knew you were wrong.”
I gave this four slices of pie.
No pie mentions noted.
Classics Club 50

“…she did a lot of intelligent feeling.”

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Mini Reviews for Mid October 2019

Thoughts

Since my last random update post, August’s, when I was audiobooking Charlotte Sometimes, I have not only completed my Classics Club 50 in 5 years requirement but am devouring more classics in a race to the end of the year!

Not sure why the above is indented, but I’m going with it. The list/image below is in finished order, but I’m going to talk about audiobooks first and then print.

OK, so I finished Charlotte and only kind of liked it. Gave it 3 slices of pie. As far as I recall (and perhaps failed to note) there was NO PIE. Boo.

On to my next audiobook, also a classic, Tom Hardy’s The Woodlanders – and I was all in for the drama-DRAMA-D.R.A.M.A!!! of that crazy tale.

Started Naked Lunch after that both for Classics Club 50 and for this year’s What’s in a Name Challenge. I DNF’d. I got 25% in and decided that I wasn’t going to enrich my life further by listening to any more c words, f words, p words and v words.  (v for vomit.)  I’m counting it as read. Judge me all you want. (Applause also appreciated.)

Then it was on to A Handful of Dust!   Crazy wild tale, really. Quite. I would love to chat with anyone who would like to discuss. I don’t think I shall forget this story. Ever. Evelyn Waugh is just so easy to imagine as a snooty and brilliant uppercrusty-judgey Brit. Apparently he hated Dickens. Huh.

I palate-cleansed with a quick 1 hour audio ‘short story’ called Wally Roux, Quantum Mechanics, an Audible Exclusive (freebie) and enjoyed it very much. I like time travel stories.

After that and still into is my current audiobook, Wolf Hall. More on that in a later post…

Now print – mostly eBooks:

For print and in this case, I mean KINDLE, I read   The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal and LOVED IT!  OF course it HAD PIE!  Pie was a goddamn THEME.  Five slices of pie served with beer, if you please. Read it if you LOVED Kitchens of the Great Midwest, which I did. I think it was an eBook. (Yes, yes it was. I noted that.)

I read a few free or not-expensive eBook romances:   Next in Line by Amy Daws (fun! especially to read aloud to the hub while driving in to work) and Sealed With a Kiss   by Leeanna Morgan (not my cup of tea – skimmed it).

And, YIPPEE SKIPPY for me! I finally finished The House of the Seven Gables!! After many rocky starts which never ever seemed to catch, this time, I rolled up my sleeves and powered through. LOVED it once the characters were allowed to be characters (about 25% in, I’d guess? and not the history prep explanation which begins this story. I’m so glad to have read it. whew.

Then The Bird’s Nest was available – I think it was a library eBook? Very Shirley Jackson. I adore Shirley Jackson. Such talent. This book impressed me.

Oh wait! I read A Clockwork Orange, too. And yes, it was odd, violent and scary but not as scary as Naked Lunch. At least ACO had a story.

Which brings us to Love in a Cold Climate  – hardback, library – which I just finished and immediately reviewed in the post prior to this one.

The pie tally?  7 out of the 12 had pie. A few had interesting pie references, indeed (chubb pie in Love in a Cold Climate!)  Plus, a description of pie dough rolling in The Woodlanders, kidney pie and meat pie in A Handful of Dust. Truly, I’m deeply suspicious of any Brit book not having pie!

On the list of 1001+ Books To Read Before You Die: A Clockwork Orange, House of Seven Gables, and Cold Climate Love. And Naked Lunch.

Edith would just as soon take another woman’s husband as another woman’s pie recipe, and she had the best husband in the world, so there you go.

  • from The Lager Queen of Minnesota

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Review 2018

I read 76 books. Though I’m not sure that some are even “books” — a few were Audible Originals so a print version might not be available. And I count my DNFs.

     Here we go!

Total pages ~16042.

Female/Male:  54/22

Fiction/Non: 54/22 (well, isn’t THAT interesting?!)

New to Me Authors: 63        Repeat Authors: 13

Classics: 10 (See previous post.)

Audiobooks: 28, ~255 hours

Shortest book: A graphic novel,  Adam and Andy by James Asal. I gave it 5 slices of pie!

Longest book: Vanity Fair by Wm Makepeace Thackeray, 32 hours and 18 minutes.

I gave more 5 slice pie ratings than last year and 4 and 5 slicers comprised over 70% of my reads! Not bad.

Audiobooks dominate!

Highlights:

I finished a series! The Broken Earth Series by NK Jemisin. Highlighly recommended.

I didn’t do any readalongs? Huh. I didn’t read any Stephen King?! Wow. I did finally read a book by Tracy Kidder, one of my favorite nonfiction writers. I read two books written by friends.

I did a fair job of reading books for the March Tournament of Books – always a wonderful time of year. I’m not doing so hot this year. I’ve read one and about 1/3 into another one. 

My top favorites to share are:

Jane Eyre narrated by Thandie Newton. Beyond fabulous! 

Circe  by Madeline Miller

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine –  participated in one of the best book club discussions I’ve ever experienced! Very fun.

Anthony Marra’s  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena – the book I’m telling everyone to read.

and PriestDaddy  by Patricia Lockwood, a book I think I want to reread but in print. It was one that stayed with me and still perplexes.

Finally, PIE.

and the WINNER of my best book with pie is  THE IDIOT by Elif Batuman!!!

Honorable Mentions:  Tin Man and Manhattan Beach

 

One more thing:

I read 4 books in 2018 that were on the 1001 Books To Read Before You Die:

2018on1001list

Happy New Year! Read and enjoy a slice of pie – in real life or in a book. pieratingsml

 

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.

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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Wide Sargasso Sea #ccspin

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys, Norton 2016 (org 1966), 174 Pages

Introduction by Edwidge Danticat (read last, though, of course. I adhere to a strict policy of never reading Intros until I read the text. Ahem)

Challenge: For this month’s Classic Club Spin.

Genre: Fan-Fiction? Carribean Historical Fiction, an Anti-Romance, perhaps.

Type/Source: Tradeback / I finally had the opportunity and forethought to plan for a shopping trip to an Indie Bookstore who to my excitement and delight had a copy for me to purchase!

Will ship to anyone interested – just let me know your opinion of Jane Eyre.

_ ____ ________________

For those book-readers-and-pie-lovers who don’t already know, this work of fiction is the back story to one of the characters in Jane Eyre. Jane is the plucky poor governess who woos Rochester to marriage but then finds out that he is already married. And this first wife is living in his house, chained up in the attic! Sorry if I spoilt that for you, but I am truly shocked when I encounter people who don’t know what Jane Eyre is about. Book readers, even. How, I ask, do some college educated people I am friends with actually not know about Jane Eyre! A diverse world we live in; I keep finding out.

Anyway, Jean Rhys had read Jane Eyre and wanted to know more about this first Mrs. Rochester and so she put her ideas into this short novella.

I probably should reread it. It is atmospheric and confusing. It is stream of consciousness and vivid. It provides narrative on the lady’s childhood (tragic) and then switches to a time right after she is married to an Englishman and is this part is from this unnamed guy’s perspective. We know this is Rochester.

And he comes off as an asshole. The first part is rather straightforward and we sympathize greatly with Miss Antoinette and her sad mother and her scary circumstances – poor and friendless in hostile territory, a failed plantation on a Caribbean island. It is sketchy exactly how her fortunes turn but mother somehow remarries money… more tragedy happens and then Part 2.

Rochester marries Antoinette for her money, but doesn’t really remember everything cuz he gets the fever for a few weeks while all this is happening. Antoinette seems happy and crazy in love but Rochester is bewildered and befuddled and then finds out Antoinette’s true father was a drunk and much worse, her mother is ‘mad’, crazy, a whore. Rochester is filled with rage. He’s been tricked!

Antoinette also becomes enraged to find out this guy is a total jerk. Partly because he starts calling her Bertha – or was that before he got pissed off, I forget; but it was odd to me why he did that (and it is just so hard to think of the name Bertha as a “pretty” pet name – so confusing.) And THEN! He sleeps with a servant, UGH! and basically treats everyone like the asshole he is.

Part 3 is in England, to scenes familiar to those of us who know the setting and storyline of Jane Eyre.

 

Yikes… so rather than reread just yet, I post this and invite any of you to share/correct me on these thoughts.

 

I would love to take a class on Jane combined with discussion of this story, the history it depicts, the themes throughout both, and the motivations of both authors. Fun stuff!

The Introduction is excellent, too!

Four slices of pie. Alas, no pie nor pastry mentioned in Wide Sargasso Sea.

Cross another classic off my 50. Thank you Spin for the prompt to get this read.

I am on to my next: Vanity Fair – a classic I know little about (and what I might think I know seems to be wrong.) I know that Becky Sharpe is a famous conniving female character of literature and so far, Thackeray is entertaining in a Dickens kind of way…

[insert copyright note here and book cover image at top when I get back to a PC – I can’t figure out how to do that with this device…]

Talking as Fast as I Can

Thoughts  by Lauren Graham, Random House Audio 2016, 4 hours 38 minutes

Narrated by the author. And of course, she is awesome.

Challenge: none
Genre: Celebrity Memoir
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: I had credits to burn and wanted something lively.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have something interesting to admit. I have never watched Gilmore Girls. I’ve never watched Parenthood. Oh, I *know* of Gilmore Girls and I’ve seen bits and pieces and of course, have read many-a-book-blogger post the GG book lists and gush all over about how wonderful the series is, but I don’t watch much TV and I don’t have Netflix. I can’t see myself downloading an entire series of anything to watch. I have placed myself outside of popular culture, it seems.

But I love Lauren Graham. I have seen Bad Santa. 

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Lauren talking about her life, her upbringing, her career…

WHAT’s GOOD: Her charm and sparkle.

What’s NOT so good: I probably should watch Gilmore Girls just so I know all the people she is talking about…

FINAL THOUGHTS: I listen to celebrity memoir audiobooks when I need to get over a reading slump, or to change it up, or to laugh, or to be inspired. This one was perfect for where I was at the end of March – post TOB slumparooza…

RATING: Five slices of pie? Maybe only 4 considering I didn’t relate to about 25% (she goes through and chats about what happened in the original series run – I didn’t know anything/anyone!) but who cares… No pie mentioned, that I recall. Pity. That would have ensured its 5 slice rating.

OK, her best advice? When someone offers you an opportunity and you think you can’t do it, do it anyway!  This bit was meaningful to me right now – when I am both overwhelmed by my new job and what I have to do and my doubts about whether or not I can pull it off. Am I a sham? Or is this imposter-syndrome? What if imposter-syndrome is TRUE? egads. Give me courage, give me strength. Give me a Lauren Graham pep talk.

 

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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 Zero

Thoughts  by Jess Walter, Harper Audio 2006, 10 hours 40 minutes

Narrated by Christopher Graybill

Challenge: What’s in a Name:  Title that starts with the letter Z
Genre: Thriller, 9-11 Aftermath
Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible
 Why I read this now:  Typically, I select an audiobook based on how many hours it will take. Ten seemed a good number. Remember when I used to choose the loooooonnngest ones? yea, those days are gone. I no longer have lengthy chores (no lawn to mow!) nor long drives very often. Bummer.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have been wanting to read more by this author. I really enjoyed Beautiful Ruins – which I also had the pleasure of listening to (the narrator’s voice is gorgeous; Edoardo Ballerini)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Brian Remy is a retired cop and he is having memory gaps. He keeps ‘waking up’ in a new scene of his life and can’t recall how or what happened prior to that moment. For the reader, it is like turning the page and thinking a page has been skipped. Both protag and reader are in the dark as to what the heck is going on. We both attempt to fill in the gaps and create a story, a timeline to what Remy is experiencing. It is quite unsettling.

“Maybe every couple lived in the gaps between conversations, unable to say the important things for fear they had already been said, or couldn’t be said; maybe every relationship started over every time two people came together.”

And darkly funny. But a sad funny because what he is messed up with isn’t going well and lives are at stake.

“Guterak looked over. “Hey, you got your hair cut.” “Yeah.” Remy put the cap back on. “What made you do that?” “I shot myself in the head last night.” “Well.” Paul drove quietly for a moment, staring straight ahead. “It looks good.”

WHAT’s GOOD: We (OK, “me” – the reader) get the idea that Remy might be having split personality syndrome but we root for the guy. The Remy we are privy to is the ‘good’ Remy, and we ache and yearn for him to figure it out so all can end well. But hey – we doubt that will happen. I mean, it is the aftermath of 9-11, so we have all the patriotism, all the say-I-love-you-to-your-loved-ones, the courtesy and slowing down, but also the conspiracy theories, the chase to find the terrorist cells responsible, the aching sadness experienced and shared collectively by those who lost someone, the always-shared stories of where-we-were and somebody-I-know-was-supposed-to-be-there.

All that came back to me as I listened to this story. And, it felt… OK. Okay good.                 I never felt that this story was manipulative or disrespectful. It was vague and confused, like everything was at that time.

There was a lot of imagery and absurdity. Walter is a very good author; he has a deft hand at dark humor without ever being over the top. I look forward to reading more. I had to look if this book was a part of the TOB from the year 2006 but, no. I would have loved to read the commentary and judgments of having this in the Tourney.

What’s NOT so good:  I have nothing to fault, other than I am both glad it was audio and not; knowing that because it was audio, I wonder if I might have missed something. But, I do think it was pretty good at the gap shifts when listened to. Would I recommend this? Yes, to those curious readers who like feeling disoriented while reading. I don’t think I know many of those kinds of readers.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I will read more books written by Jess Walter.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned that I noticed.

On a different note, here are the audiobooks I just purchased and hope to get to soon:

May brings us the nonfiction mini-TOB by The Morning News. The three books I voted for are the ones they selected so I guess I have to participate. Priestdaddy is one; Hunger by Roxane Gay and Educated by Tara Westover the other two. I thought a quick funny Graham memoir would fill in for when I need snippets of listen…

 

 

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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 Power of a Positive No

Thoughts  How to Say No and Still Get to Yes by William Ury, Random House Audio 2007, 7 hours 15 minutes

Challenge: Company Book Club
Genre: Business/Professional Development
 Why I read this now:  To participate in the company book club.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have always respected those who can say NO without fanfare or excuses. They are being true to themselves. This is a terrific skill to develop.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ury is a negotiation consultant. He is a co-founder of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation and directs the Global Negotiation Initiative. He has a series of books on this topic; basic common sense but very challenging advice on how to be effective in solving conflict.

Find your deeper YES (what you do want!) – state your NO – suggest a yes to negotiate a win-win (yes?)

WHAT’s GOOD: SO so good. Though, at times, the book tends to feel repetitive, that only stresses how hard this stuff is!  To respect and not react, to be centered and grounded and know what we really want for ourselves before we have to work towards agreements with others. Great examples, wonderful stories, terrific suggestions on how to do all of this.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The challenge lies in getting beyond the recognition of how valuable this approach is to actually USING it the precise moment it is needed.

I give this quote:

The great problem today is that we have divorced our Yeses from our Nos. Yes without No is appeasement, whereas No without Yes is war. Yes without No destroys one’s own satisfaction, whereas No without Yes destroys one’s relationship with others. We need both Yes and No together. Yes is the key word of community. No, the key word of individuality. Yes is the key word of connection, No the key word of protection. Yes is the key word of peace, No the key word of justice.

RATING: Four 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.