Olive, Again

Thoughts by Elizabeth Strout, 2019, 289 pages

Challenge: Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Bookstore purchase / the Concord Bookshop (MA)
 Why I read this now:  Suggested, had on my shelf

MOTIVATION for READING: I loved Olive Kitteridge. 

Almost 11 years ago to the day, I posted my review of Olive, book 1. I adored it.

… the reader will come to appreciate this rough and tough yet tender lady.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This is another collection very similar to the first, of short stories either centering on Olive or has her barely mentioned in passing.

I loved the stories with Jack, and how he succumbs to the realization that he enjoys Olive and so takes the chance on a relationship. The way he lets her sit in business class on the flight to Norway was just too perfect. The chapter on the Larkins and their attorney was a gut-punch. As was the one where Olive meets the Poet.

THOUGHTS: Themes of loneliness and knowing yourself. I just love how Olive is so abrupt and blunt and judgmental but also knows the exact right thing to do or say when it is most needed. She is definitely prickly. I laugh at her, with her? and I cried.

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned, but that’s OK. I’ll forgive.

No, I still haven’t seen the mini-series starring Frances McDormand…

 

 

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Poetry 2020 Edition 5

Poetry Goal 2020:  to read a poem* every day.

Collection #9 break your glass slippers by Amanda Lovelace, Andrews McMeel 2020, 136 pages

sometimes the only difference between not
being meant for something & being meant for
something is the necessary journey it takes for
you to get there.

—replace your self-doubt with patience.

Rating: 3 slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (I am not the ideal audience, methinks)


Collection #10 by Kieran Furey, Longtooth Books 2011, 120 pages

An Old Routine

Trying not to think
what it might mean,
he goes once a week
unbelievingly to Mass,
and once a week too
disbelievingly to another funeral.

At his age, these things are routine.
With one good ear he’s always listening
For the bells to toll for him.

I found this book in the apartment complex shelves. YAY! and they’re good. Lots of poems about family, ancestry, memories, place. I will have to assume it was the right poetry book for the right time in my 2020 poetry adventure.

I’m finding that I really enjoy poems about words and poems and about writing of poems.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

*Or more. I’m not tracking, I’m just reading. I’m not limiting this experience to one poem a day – that is only the minimum.

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Bring Up the Bodies

Thoughts by Hilary Mantel, 2012, 14 hours 38 minutes

Challenge:  Personal (and TOB-driven since Wolf Hall is in the Super Rooster)
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook/Audible
 Why I read this now:  Just its time, I guess…

MOTIVATION for READING: Second book in the Thomas Cromwell series and I very much enjoyed Wolf Hall.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This second in the series was mostly all about the Anne Boleyn marriage years/tenure of the Henry VIII reign.

THOUGHTS: Still all Cromwell being incredibly adept at reading people and able to strategically tap-dance to the whims of the right people. He is so entertaining. And Mantel makes him come across so likeable! Amazing.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. Sadly, I dare say that an English setting like this SHOULD have pie mentioned but I didn’t note one. It’s enough to drive me back into the rhythm and pie of Ducks.

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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

 

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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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