Category Archives: Review

2021 Mini-Reviews of Books and Pie – July & Aug

Book Thoughts

Hello All, I do hope you are well, and keeping yourself AND your community safe. I am vaccinated against COVID-19 and I have been wearing my mask. My town’s vax rate jumped the last few days up close to 60% (from 43%) so at least we are catching up to the goal. I hope.

I have and will continue to have some super busy weeks at work so I’m been falling behind in blog posts and reviews. I’m still reading, YAY!

Let’s just recap with a 3+ sentence game!

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Audiobook. Classics Club List 2.

I read this because I just can’t recall if I ever did. BUT! I *did* know most of her story, or so I thought. Oh sure, I got the basics…  But the presentation? the heartfelt sharing? the growth in those handful of months?!  the fear, the suspense. OMG. I was blown away. Glad to have her in my head and ears via Selma Blair for this experience. Five slices of pie and YES! Pie mentions: “nice as pie”

Murderbot! #2-5 (yea, SO?!) (author-extraordinaire: Martha Wells)

Artificial Condition (#2) – 4 slices of pie- we meet ART!
Rogue Protocol (#3) – 5 slices of pie – can’t remember now why this is 5-slicer but, who cares!?
Exit Strategy (#4) – 3 slices – maybe I’m reading these too fast; still MUCH FUN!!!
Network Effect (#5) – 4 slices – uh, this one is LONGER than a novella so be prepared.

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell, pub’d 2019

NOT a how to manual. NOT to go to for advice on how to unplug unless you do want the whole artistic wholistic philosophical conundrum explanation of how we need to disconnect to truly get in touch. I only DNF’d it because I got distracted by Murderbot and this only had 14 days loan from the library. Really! I actually did find it fascinating in a whole-new-perspective perspective. It has been accused of being academic. Do your research, I mean that kindly.

My latest poetry collection completion will come around eventually on my Poetry Edition series…

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson, 219 pages, pub’d 1980

Yowza, my friends! I bring reservations. This was … odd. BUT COME ON! she wrote this and published this, her debut! in 1980. 24 years before she published Gilead. I read reviews by readers who came to it by way of loving Gilead – I get it! I, too, read this because I loved Gilead. Those they were disappointed. But. Did you see the years in between? She has a captivating ability at imagery and profundity in the mundane. Oh I don’t know what I’m talking about, I know. But I love her ability to craft a sentence! and the story… WTF is this?!  lol

There is a movie!  WHAT / HOW did they do a movie of this?  can’t wait. Just gots to convince the remote-control-driver to be on board for it.

I, Autohouse by Gish Jen. Audiobook. 2020

This is a Part 2 of The Resistors. A glimpse into the next generation. No pie mentioned.

The Financial Lives of Poets by Jess Walter, 304 pages, hardcover, pub’d 2009.

LOVED! and a pie mention. Funny and serious, REAL. yea, real, genuine. I do like Walter’s writing, his stories, his viewpoint. #20BooksofSummer

Huh. Was I supposed to do THREE SENTENCES for each?  whoooops.

Here’s some pie:   Raspberry Cream Pie for Aug 1st.

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Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Update Feb 28 2021 Sunday

Monthly Recap Time!

I finished _9_ books in February. This makes 15 for the year so far.

Total page count (including print page count for books I listen-read) = __2736__, + 1485 Jan = 4221 TOTAL pages for the year so far. 35% of yearly goal? wow.

The three audiobooks summed to _~42__ hours. (and 18 minutes)

Hardcover = 2

eBook (Kindle or Libby) = 2

Tradeback = 2

Count from the library =  _3_, remainder purchased or given to me.

My favorite was Piranesi.pieratingsml

Seven featured a pie mention: 2 Apple, Strawberry Tart, lots of generic “pie”.

I visited California a few times, New Mexico, a few days in Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and possibly New England (woot! for a Newport RI mention); international travels took me to Japan, Scotland and England, and possibly another out of this world dimension (Piranesi)

Most published in 2020 – all for the TOB. One in 2017, the one nonfiction; memoir/humor.

Cherry Pie Day was February 20th and here a photo of the meringue crust: then I filled it with cherry pie filling (from a can) and then, finally a slice of it:

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Stats for LetterMo:  I thank the many of you who wrote me! WOOT. I received _28_ pieces of correspondence. My tracking is usually suspect but my official chart says I mailed 112 pieces, averaging to 4 per day.

Mailed to 28 states and three countries: UK, New Zealand and Germany.

I mailed 3 books – one to RI (Deacon King Kong to Sarah), one to ME (The Vanishing Half to Auntie Lil), and one to NJ (Telephone to Ellen of the Garden State).

Happy Chocolate Soufflé Day! Banana Cream Pie Day is March 2nd.

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Update Jan 31 2021 Sunday

January Recap! Going to make this a habit. Maybe I create the last-day-of-the-month posts in advance and add to each with each book completed?  Always a goal, right?

I finished 6 books, have 3 underway right now.

If I count the hardcover page count rather than hours in my sums when I consider the books I listen-read, I get a total of 1485. Otherwise it is 901. I’m still wrestling with my attempt to keep THIS page count accurate with whatever goodreads calculates — they don’t do great at accurate hour counts for audiobooks.

The two audiobooks summed to 17 hours.

One in hardcover, one eBook (Kindle), two tradeback. Three library loans, three purchased.

My favorite has to be Luster by Raven Leilani. All were pretty worthy and enjoyable, recommendable. Memorial was my least favorite. Of course, A Village Life as a poetry collection received a high rating; quite moving and intense.

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Three of the six featured a pie mention: Apple, Caramel, Chitlin. I visited Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Texas, California and Georgia. Mostly US-centric but one hopped over to Ghana for a few scenes. Four books had black protagonists; one of these shared MCs with a Japanese American. This same title would be LGBTQ+.

Four published in 2020 – all for the TOB. One in 2009, one in 1999. One nonfiction; about dogs. One poetry. Only one author of the male gender, as far as I know.

I made a few pies – including the Elvis Pie I made for Christmas. See this post on my First Book 2021 (Long Bright River).

I made a RhuBlue (BlueRhu? RhuBerry?) for my mom’s birthday:

MR are her initials.

pieratingsml

Bring on February where my focus will be LetterMo. Write me a letter and I must reply in kind.

 

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Luster

Thoughts by Raven Leilani, 2020, 240 pages

Challenge:  TOB Shortlist
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle
 Why I read this now:  These TOB books just fall into some order without real thought. In other words, I don’t recall why exactly this was next. (WHY do I even ask this question? or: Why do I think I must answer?)

MOTIVATION for READING: #sigh

A sunlit dream where I do better.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I’m trying to figure out how to answer this…  Shall I just do the blurb from gr or should I pretend nobody reads this and I only need to write something that will remind “future-self” what I read way back in January 2021?  Let’s do both.

Goodreads: “Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender, Raven Leilani’s debut novel, Luster, sees a young black woman fall into art and someone else’s open marriage.

Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties—sharing a subpar apartment in Bushwick, clocking in and out of her admin job, making a series of inappropriate sexual choices. She’s also, secretly, haltingly figuring her way into life as an artist. And then she meets Eric, a digital archivist with a family in New Jersey, including an autopsist wife who has agreed to an open marriage—with rules. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscapes of contemporary sexual manners and racial politics weren’t hard enough, Edie finds herself unemployed and falling into Eric’s family life, his home. She becomes hesitant friend to his wife and a de facto role model to his adopted daughter. Edie is the only black woman young Akila may know.

Razor sharp, darkly comic, sexually charged, socially disruptive, Luster is a portrait of a young woman trying to make her sense of her life in a tumultuous era. It is also a haunting, aching description of how hard it is to believe in your own talent and the unexpected influences that bring us into ourselves along the way.”

My turn:  (pretending I didn’t just read what I dropped in above.)  The MC is a young black woman trying to figure out her life and her motivations. She seems to be a sex addict, seems to be rather ambivalent and apathetic about this fact and also that she knows she is the token black woman and should want to do the be-better-to-look-better crap requirements that white corporate America foists upon token blacks in the workplace but she’s just trying to pay rent. This book is FUNNY. Shock value funny. Uncomfortable funny. Reminded me of The Sellout by Paul Beatty.

“I am good, but not good enough, which is worse than simply being bad. It is almost. The difference between being there when it happens and stepping out just in time to see it on the news.”

Our MC wants to be an artist. She confronts her motivations and her ideas that she must be in pain to produce good work. (I made up that – she never really contemplates that out loud, does she?) I really admired her ability NOT to get depressed and give up!  But she really doesn’t have the energy or rather most likely recognizes that ‘pull yourself up by the bootstraps’ fix-your-life bullshit is truly bullshit for most people without the means and support system of family, privilege, circumstance. So she finds herself in a family with privilege and explores the circumstance. She wrestles with do the right thing or just ride the waves with what she can get away with. Does she really have choices?

“I remember when my parents tried to tell me this, the only time in their miserable marriage they were ever united. It must be strange for every black kid, when their principal authority figures break the news that authorities lie.”

THOUGHTS: There is no whining, no debilitating frustration. She is fascinating.

Yes to these words: Sharp, comic, disruptive, tender.

I think I was blown away by this book. In my top 3 for TOB so far.

RATING:  Four slices of pie, with sneaked forkful on another. With lots and lots of bourbon whipped cream. Ok, just give me that fifth piece already.

“a highly designed editorial nightmare from a boutique imprint experimenting with pomo cookbooks, formerly an imprint that specialized in Crock-Pot tips and a series on pies that employed the authority of a titular Presbyterian Grandma.”

“…slave narrative about a tragic mulatto who raises the dead with her magic chitlin pies;”

 

 

VOCAB:  Saditty (comparative more saditty, superlative most saditty) (US, dated, slang, chiefly African-American Vernacular) Acting snobbish, arrogant, or superior; uppity; perceived to be trying to associate with a higher social class.

Capoeira (Portuguese pronunciation: [kapuˈejɾɐ] or [kaˈpwɐjɾɐ]) is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. … It is known for its acrobatic and complex maneuvers, often involving hands on the ground and inverted kicks.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Blind Dog Stories

Thoughts by Caroline D Levin, 1999, 100 pages

Challenge: Personal
Genre: Nonfiction, Special Needs Dog
Type/Source: Tradeback, Library
 Why I read this now:  Came in to the library

MOTIVATION for READING: Oz, our new baby:

We adopted Oz a few days before Christmas  —  the breed group on Facebook had a post telling of his predicament. His human had died, the widow was unable to care for him. With him only a few hours away, we swooped in and took him home with us.

Come to find out, after treatment for his intense ear infections, after grooming all the mats out of his hair, after his anxiety of being in a new place with new people and with a not-so-welcoming ‘older sister’, he has SARDS. Sudden Acquired Retinal Degeneration Syndrome. The vets shrug – nothing to do.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I read these stories of blind dogs – all sorts of overcoming and inspiration because it was written by the same author, a veterinarian, who has a Guidebook about caring for blind dogs. That one I have to purchase; the library didn’t have a copy.

Shared joy is double joy, shared sorrow is half sorrow. -Swedish Proverb

THOUGHTS: Yes, I cried. But in a good way. Blind dogs get along fine and they can be trained. The challenge will be worth it.

RATING:  

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Memorial

Thoughts by Bryan Washington, 2020, 8 hours 20 minutes

Narrated by the author and Akie Kotabe

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Queer Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible (updated 3/10: go with print – apparently has photos and use of white space)
 Why I read this now:  I wanted a shorter one from the possibles. This sounded like it might be suitable in audio form? 

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB Shortlist.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The love affair? living arrangement? of Ben and Mike. They meet, they have sex, they curse, they move in together, Mike flies off to Japan to “be there” for his dad’s last days as he dies of cancer just as his mom flies from Japan to stay with him. Thus, Ben and Mike’s mom are now cohabitating and cooking together. Ben and Mike wonder about their relationship with few attempts to talk it out.  Oh yea, Ben’s father is an alcoholic and Ben is wrestling with that relationship, too.

THOUGHTS:  Aside from the delicate topic of dying parents and the care required to work through the grief, especially when the relationship is strained, I thought this was rather boring. Maybe all the sex and cursing. Which I’m not sure I would have been hyper-aware of the cursing if Ruthiella hadn’t called it out!  LOL.  See? I shouldn’t be laughing at these guys worrying about their fathers.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.   Salted Caramel Pecan Chocolate Pie, perhaps?!  Would have been a 2 slicer if I hadn’t encountered the caramel and pecan pie…

When Mary brought a pie to the table, double-layered in caramel and pecans, she said her daughter and I should share it,…”

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Transcendent Kingdom

Thoughts by Yaa Gyasi, 2020, 8 hours 40 minutes

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  It was next up in the queue.

MOTIVATION for READING: I enjoyed Gyasi’s debut and this one is getting great reviews. Plus, you know, the T. O. B.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Gifty is a scientist, a daughter of immigrants from Ghana, reflecting on her childhood as the little sister to a brother who died of a heroine overdose, her religious upbringing and how her mother suffers from mental illness, while conducting research on addiction so she can understand her own pain.

THOUGHTS:  This was a time/place of being in Gifty’s head as she explains and sorts through her thoughts and reactions and movement through many years, many relationships. Lots of religion and philosophy, but mostly religion and God and understanding and reconciling faith with science, science versus faith. It was really quite beautiful. NOT pushy at all. I think this could be a valuable reference for any religious study.

I liked Gifty. She was so well presented and fleshed out – her wants, needs, goals, dreams. Was there even a plot?

RATING:  Four slices of pie.   Apple pie mention and a bit about a friend who offers baked goods, including pie. YAY!

Quote lifted from a review in The Dartmouth, America’s Oldest College Newspaper:

Grappling with Gifty’s experiences growing up “sticking out like a sore thumb” in her predominantly-white town and “as Ghanaian as apple pie,” the novel is both accessible and urgent. 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

Long Bright River

Thoughts by Liz Moore, 2020, 482 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List, Theta Friends Book Read
Genre: Thriller
Type/Source: Hardcover, purchased from an Indie
 Why I read this now:  First Book of 2020 Selection

MOTIVATION for READING: I really like Liz Moore.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Mickey is a cop, a beat cop on the streets of a poor neighborhood in Philly. She comes from impoverished family circumstances. Her sister, same genes + same environment, takes the other turn in life and is a drug addict prostitute.

Young prostitute drug-addicted women start turning up dead and Mickey’s sister goes missing. Mickey is compelled to find out what is happening but gets involved in things beyond her scope and support system. A support system that is questionable, at best.

THOUGHTS: The “something elusive” that makes me really fall hard for a story didn’t happen with this one. But as I now have a few days away to ponder my reactions, I wonder if that is the point of it. Our MC is shyly prickly and doesn’t want to need people. She has no friends and doesn’t even realize it! THAT is what is weird to me, I think? She is heads-down, do the job, do right and don’t call attention. But humans can’t operate well being so alone – we need other people. When she realizes this, she is caught up in her confusion and fear of trust and what it all means, to have any good sense on what to do. It comes across as naiveté and it just seemed so out of sorts for her career as a police officer. Again, it takes all kinds and this is a story that confronts many biases.

RATING:  Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

First Book 2021

Pre-Review Thoughts by Liz Moore,  Riverhead Books 2020, 482 pages

Challenge:  PVD Theta Reading Circle
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover/ purchased TWICE!  
 Why I read this now:  Why I am choosing for First Book 2021? It’s been on my gotta-get-to-soon and then I gave to a friend in a gift-exchange. I think it’s finally time.

MOTIVATION for READING: I would read this anyway because I life Liz Moore. It was on the TOB Long List  but didn’t make the Short. I am looking forward to this very much.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I really don’t know. Something about crime and sisters? I’ve read the intro/blurb a few times but just can’t access it. I do remember thinking how interesting that I also really want to get to The Vanishing Half which is also about sisters. I probably have mixed/morphed which book is about what.

Here’s to everyone having a healthy happy New Year.

How about some pie?  Elvis Pie:

 

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Copyright © 2007-2021. 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.

We Ride Upon Sticks

Thoughts by Quan Barry, Random House Audio 2020, 14 hours 44 minutes

Narrated by Isabel Keating

Challenge: Possible TOB Long List to Short (Gamble)
Genre: YA
Type/Source: Audiobook/Library
 Why I read this now:  Available at Library 

MOTIVATION for READING: Tournament of Books 2021 Hopeful

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A Girls HS Field Hockey Team who make a pact with the darkside in order to win State. This takes place and draws heavily on the Salem Witch Trials history.

THOUGHTS: This was a fun listen. Humor was delightful and I was often chortling or laughing or exclaiming, “oh my!” Good stuff.

However, it was a bit too long. I was invested but ready for it to be done.

The poetry collection I opened when almost finished with this audiobook references the Salem Witch Trials. [The Thin Wall by Martha Rhodes]

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

Pie actually had a few mentions – a mother of a team member enters a pie in the county fair, is one.

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Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.