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
 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,…”

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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.

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.

Lion Cross Point

Thoughts by Masatsugu Ono, Two Lines Press 2018/2013, 121 pages

Translated from Japanese by Angus Turvill

Challenge:  none
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback, Scuppernongs Bookstore Mystery Purchase
 Why I read this now:  One of the shortest and newest books to my shelf.

MOTIVATION for READING: To honor the selections sent to me in a mystery purchase box to support independent bookstores. A covid purchase.

“… his mother’s face slipped like smoke between the fingers of his memory.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A 4th grader finds himself in his mother’s home town and dreading anyone who asks about her or his brother. We are never told what happened to propel his being in this new situation but we build in our imagination what possibly took place based on his fears and memory flashbacks. This is very much a book about memories and premonitions, spirits and hauntings, guilt and confusion. The past and present merge.

“Any memories that might rise up from the dark depths inside him would be memories of this land between the green hills and dark blue sea, this land that was now sinking into the depths of night.”

THOUGHTS: It ends very abruptly.

Likely a fabulous book to unpack in a literature class.

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

From Night, poetry collection by Etel Adnan, 2016:

And night and memory mediate each other. We move in them disoriented, for they often refuse to secure our vision. Avaricious, whimsical, they release things bit by bit.

 

 

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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.

Empty Mansions

Thoughts by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr, Ballantine Books 2013, 459 pages

Challenge:  for an online Facebook book club,  (but it might have been canceled – I can’t find it on our upcoming events)
Genre: Nonfiction, “Lives of the Rich & Famous”
Type/Source: Hardcover, don’t recall where I got it (free/borrow shelf at the apt complex, perhaps)
 Why I read this now:  Nonfiction November

MOTIVATION for READING: I do have a little bit obsession with the turn of the century mansions…

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Huguette lived a very long life as the youngest daughter of a very very rich American tycoon. Her last few decades, she had hidden herself away.

THOUGHTS: I thought this book would make me mad – about spoiled rich people and their eccentricities and the descendants who greedily crave access. But that is too simple. Mostly this made me sad. That she probably would have died 20 years or more earlier by wasting away in her apartment alone before finally seeking medical care. That she truly did enrich those she cared for deeply and many gratefully considered her a friend and benefactor. That I do not doubt at all that those who did manage to access her space and thoughts took advantage of her but glad that she was also a shrewd manager of her self and projects.

I will always wonder about her marriage! Yikes. But very cool that she remained friends with her ex over the subsequent decades.

I have soft spot in my heart for her because she was a Gemini and was fond of my favorite art gallery in DC:  The Corcoran. May she rest in peace.

The full title is Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

 

 

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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.

The Club Dumas

Thoughts by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Phoenix Books 2009 (orig 1993), 6 hours 2 minutes

Translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto, Narrated by David Warner

Challenge: none
Genre: Literary Thriller
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  A friend recommended at just the right time.

MOTIVATION for READING:  As I explained right above this, I have a friend – one of those amazing friends who has that crazy skill to make everything you say or do to be acknowledged as just the right thing. Too good for my ego?! She’s one of those people who is uplifting to be around and talk with. So when she asked if I had read this one, I paid attention and almost immediately raced its place up my tbr to number one spot. Yea, I think I did do just that when I realized, “hey, I am not listening to an audiobook right now and I need to be listening to an audiobook and the ones I got, aren’t inspiring me.”  Into my ears, it went.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A mercenary book dealer is hired to find authenticity on a few rare manuscripts and discovers that the two tasks are related. Along the way, he meets interesting characters that resemble characters in famous stories – and are even named as famous characters in celebrated tales and behave likewise! One intertwined story line is about a chapter in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The other book is a possible survivor of a trio of banned books that commune with the devil. Maybe Dumas communed with the Devil?

Our protagonist is named Lucas Corso. Our narrator also tends to break the third veil [upon researching if I had this right, I did not. It’s the THIRD WALL] or whatever it is called when the narrator talks to the reader.  [I could totally be misremembering.*] Corso meets one character who remains an enigma still.**

THOUGHTS: It was good. It was fun! It’s a literary literary thriller!! There are terrific quotes to start each chapter. There are music interludes for the audio version. I just found out while prepping this post that the book is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. LOVE when this happens without me orchestrating it.

THANKS S.O’N!

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. I rarely catch or note if I do, when pie is mentioned in an audiobook. There might have been a tart…

I would be very pleased if Audible and Goodreads would collab and capture notes...

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*  Footnote #1 – It was an audiobook. I am usually yelling at Esther to stop eating acorns or goose poop or I am getting interrupted by my free walking app that tells me when I’m at half-mile + time per mile + calories burned. SHUT UP ALREADY. (I’ve since turned her off since she talks over my audiobooks. No more. Bitch.)

**   Footnote #2 – I had first thought that ‘the girl’ aka Irene Adler (ahem) was Corso’s daughter. I think we (readers) are supposed to imagine she is The Devil.

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.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Thoughts by Kawai Strong Washburn, MCD 2020, 376 pages

Challenge: Known entry for TOB 2021 due to winning Summer Camp 2020
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Hawaiian Lit
Type/Source: Hard Cover, Library 14 Day
 Why I read this now:  It’s time was now. Inspired by the TOB.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB. For some reason, I don’t seem to find the motivation or timing to participate in Summer Camps. I want to!  But the cards just don’t get dealt that way. I find that my reading has seasons and this just isn’t my kind of summer reading weather. But I’m glad to get a jump on it while we await the long list. Where IS that by the way? [Wrote this but hadn’t yet pub’d; which reminded me when TOB did send it out finally that this post was likely ready, too. So, HERE WE ARE. The long list!] My goodreads 2021-Rooster list is here

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Family. Legends. Destiny. The middle child is favored – favored by the gods, favored by mom and dad. The family struggles financially while encouraging all the gifts of skill and intelligence within the children. Unfortunately, all carry these burdens as too-much-burden, trapped in comparisons and never articulated, explored, brought to light but left to fester in the dark. Success and the subsequent trappings, wrapped up in ‘a ticket OUT’ betray the rewards of excelling on merits and opportunities. So. much. heartache and misunderstanding and allowing the aggravations and frustrations to get the better of them!

I yearned for Dean the eldest and he got lost, missed a step and couldn’t get his mojo back, he misunderstood what his mojo really was? Or did he find it… And baby sister had such a bright future!  She was so freaking smart and kicking ass as an engineering student in college — but youth and distractions and the tilt-a-whirl of that youth, the constant obsessing “is this love? what IS this” kept getting in the way. The middle kid? Just fate or bad luck – such pain. So much pain.

Noa might be the main character but he was the star that they all rotated around and never quite connected to.

Yet, I felt for them all and tried to understand. The magical realism was an illusion just beyond reach. But love was there. Love couldn’t quite overcome but love was there and the ending offers hope.

THOUGHTS: Did I enjoy this or was I moved by, caught up in? the hope that love would win?

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

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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.

Deacon King Kong

Thoughts by James McBride, Riverhead Books 2020, 370 pages

Challenge: Possible long/short listed for Tournament of Books 2021?
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hard Cover, purchased from Scuppernong’s in GSO NC
 Why I read this now:  It’s time was now. Inspired by the TOB.

MOTIVATION for READING: New release from a favorite author. Getting good reviews. A possible TOB selection. Lots of reasons

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  What is a Deacon? Who is Deacon “King Kong”? Does everyone get a nickname?

The protagonist actually has the nickname “Sportcoat”. He is a deacon at his church in the projects of NYC. He drinks. A lot. He shuffles through his days and is quite committed to his responsibilities and is well-loved by his community. The year is 1969.

But one day, he takes his handgun and shots the main drug dealer in his neighborhood. Shoots the kid’s ear off! However, he has no recollection of doing this, almost immediately after the fact. He loves this kid! This kid has an amazing pitching arm, has the talent to make it in the Bigs and is wasting his life.

This event sets off so many little chains of events, pulling together all the characters impacted, weaving the past with the possible future, and resulting in a sweet story full of humanity, heartache, love and overcoming.

THOUGHTS: I loved it. I loved all the characters. I loved the little love stories and explorations of dreams contrasted with hard reality. The humor is endearing, the sass and grit is inspiring, and the piecing together of the puzzle is fun. Sure, there are some middling issues of how a few things are handled – like the cheese!?  But it is significant in its own fun way so just get over it…

Loved the matriarch of the church! Love the pastor’s wife. Of course!

RATING: Five slices of pie. And PIE is in the story a few times, too, which is always a plus in my book. (Noticing the porkpie hat on the cover, yes?)

“The top seller in the Brooklyn mosque number 34 sales division, having sold the most bean pies and newspapers and that mosque’s storied history. He was also wanted in Kansas for false imprisonment related to a domestic squabble and robbery, but that, he is assured the group, was a long story.”*

Miss Four Pie = “She had four hot blueberry pies in her oven first day I come on the job that whole house was stinking of blueberries.”

“He only knew that every Christmas since his guys pulled that lady out of the water, the church coloreds had dropped off two sweet potato pies and a cooked chicken outside his railroad boxcar. Why couldn’t more people get along that way?”

“Pie-eyed and feeling addled and murky…”

*Could this be a hint as to McBride’s next book?!

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