Category Archives: Review

Into the Abyss

Thoughts by Carol Shaben, Hachette Audio, 10 hours 1 minutes, Narrated by Tiffany Morgan

Challenge: ICT Book Club

Genre/Theme: NonFiction; Overcoming Challenges, Surviving Tragedy

Type/Source: both library and Audible, because I can never manage to do one or the other…

What It’s About: Four men survive a plane crash during horrid snowy weather in Canada. Six people on the flight do not make it. This is the story of that night, what happened leading up to it and its aftermath.

Thoughts: I was extremely impressed with the journalistic research skills that Shaben put into use to create and share this story. She managed personal insights to give it that uniquely sensitive touch and … okay – you all got that from “personal insights” and I’m going with it. (Her father was one of the survivors.) I must say, WELL DONE in crafting the story layout and digging for tidbits that felt real and relevant with out being exploitative. WELL CRAFTED beginning to end.

Gosh, being human is extraordinary AND ordinary. And personal. AND all business. What struck me the most might be unusual, tell me if you agree or not, but the idea that we only care about others when tragedy strikes, hurts me & amazes me. We don’t do well with frustration and despair BEFORE a possible tragedy, in my opinion. I get it, it is a delicate balance! Paranoia or indulgence – is that what capitalism makes us question? It is awful. Seriously, if the pilot was not so overworked, and had been able to have a co-pilot, the crash could very likely been averted, but … NO! Think of the cost of the lives, the investigations, the inquests, the consequences! My heart hurts.

The stories that the 4 survivors live before and after bring up so many questions about fate and attitude and opportunity. No answers are given. It was all quite fascinating.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Pie is mentioned! The HERO of the story, who is the least injured and provided the life-saving tasks and efforts to help the others survive, too, has a mention about peeling apples and requesting a pie be made.

I asked our book club to suggest or consider a nonfiction pick for this month’s read and I’m glad to have read this one. It really made me think about what is possible, no matter what happens.



The Last Flight

Thoughts by Julie clark, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: For October Book Club

Genre/Theme: Mystery Thriller

Type/Source: Audible! On an INCLUDED list until 10/31 <click here>

What It’s About: We know early that there is a plane crash. This story involve two characters desperate to escape their lives by running, by taking on new identities. With an unfolding that is told “6 Months Before the Crash” and “2 Days Before the Crash” back and forth between Eva and Claire, we learn what is happening in their lives that propels the story and to their meeting.

We know on one side that it is not a random encounter but we do not know how they are linked. The unfolding is definitely edge of your seat action and drama. Did she get on that plane?!

“I’m not very good at forgiveness.” Liz nodded. “Not many people are. But what I’ve learned in life is that in order for true forgiveness to occur, something has to die first. Your expectations, or your circumstances. Maybe your heart. And that can be painful. But it’s also incredibly liberating.”

Thoughts: I enjoyed this. We meet strong females braving against the odds, we experience the best of women friendships. We also see domestic violence, drug trade machinations, powerful men being evil and controlling.

I usually don’t like mystery thrillers but this one didn’t happen to annoy me. I had to know how Eva found Claire! What was the missing link? All explained to my satisfaction despite the ending being vague and open to question. Should be a good club discussion. (Better than the Evelyn Hugo book anyway…)

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

“You know, life is long. Lots of things can go wrong and still end up all right.”

When this title was brought up for consideration, the library copy count was adequate but someone wondered out loud, if the audiobook was available I was super chuffed to check Audible and see it was “on special”! I recommend you hurry, if you do have an Audible subscription and think this one sounds good.


The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox

Thoughts by Maggie O’Farrell, Blackstone Audio, 7 hours 18 minutes

Challenge: none

Genre/Theme: Adult Fiction; Sisters

Type/Source: Tradeback / Purchased at Half Price Books, I think

What It’s About: Told in flashbacks and from the perspective of three characters: Esme – the youngest sister, Kitty – the eldest, and the granddaughter Iris. Esme has been locked away since she was 16 and now 60+ years later, while Kitty is suffering from dementia in the nursing home. Then there is Iris, the only living relative who owns a vintage clothes shop and pines for her married step-brother. It gets even more complicated when Iris is contacted about Esme when her facility is being shut down. Iris has never heard of Esme and didn’t realize Kitty was not an only child.

Thoughts: Despite the showing of audiobooks this month, I’m still not at my former levels of audio-focus. That or this one just starts confusing, gets muddled and wilding messy in the middle, and might also suffer from cultural unknowns. (Like, what WAS that red cord?! What that MEAN? Do I really know how it ended? I have made assumptions that work for my interpretation of the story, but this would be a terrific one to discuss. With a Scottish person!)

But boy do I love the feisty old ladies. Both of them had feistiness and secrets and regrets and ambition. No excuses for Kitty, but Esme and Iris could have benefited from asking and expressing and having a true exchange of what was going on. Of course, the plot wouldn’t have thickened if they were able to truly share and connect.

She has no idea that her hands and eyes and the tilt of her head, and the fall of her hair, belong to Esme’s mother.

We are all just vessels thru which identities pass. We are lent features, gestures, habits and then we hand them on. Nothing is our own.

We begin in the world as anagrams of our antecedents.

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned; a fabulous story idea and not quite convincingly executed. Though a fun ride anyway, I think this one is likely better in print. The stories just bounce between narrator and time with no introduction — it was hard to tell when those changes occurred.

I read this because… I think it was an Audible freebie by an author who has a new book out that looks phenomenal, The Marriage Portrait, which follows a successful Hamnet. Possibly a writer that will go on my “must-read-everything” list.


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.


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:




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.


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.


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.


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?)


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.


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.



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.


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? 


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,…”


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. 




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.