The Animators

Thoughts tabykrw by Kayla Rae Whitaker, Random House 2016, 372 pages

Challenge:  Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction – I hate that this is a genre! Wait… IS “contemporary fiction’ actually a GENRE? Surely a better response would be ‘fiction that involves creative arts’, perhaps maybe  ‘fiction relating to dysfunctional families impact on friendships/partnerships’, then there could be this ‘fiction that features lots of drug use into adulthood’. Surely I am missing many many more subgenres…
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: The library called. My hold was available.

MOTIVATION for READING: Have I got a story to tell! Well, ok. It’s exciting to me, so…  Bear with me.

Last December, I responded to a tweet suggesting that if you wanted a book recommendation, just respond with the last thing you ate and what you were wearing.

Here’s the exchange:

and she responded with this:

So I put it on my tbr. (I must have known it was on the long list for TOB. right?)

THEN!!!   It made the short list for the TOB. Oh YEA.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Well, this part aint so easy.

I’ve mentioned that it involves creative arts, dysfunctional families and the impact of such on friendships and partnerships – both love and work, then that it features lots of drug use into adulthood?

Sharon Kisses, who considers herself heterosexual, meets Mel Vaughn, a rude crude lesbian who is basically a raging horndog drug addict (or IS she?!), and they form an amazing collaborative creative team for visual story-telling.

Questions pop up. How important is ‘permission’ when another’s life story is part of the “YOUR STORY” you want to share in a very public way? How much of the overlap is your story versus their story?

How much of the story and the subsequent story is MINE, ours, YOURS?

What’s NOT so good: Ah. Ah, yes. . . I’m sorry, can you repeat the question?

I would feel for Sharon and then wonder, “Uh what happened? Crap, she’s an asshole.”  I always liked Mel, but she was always painted as the sympathetic to-be-sympathized-with-nut crazy, so you would forgive her. She was very well-drawn. Sharon, who truly is the primary character, thus PROTAGONIST of this drama life tale, is a slippery one. To me. She would surprise me and usually NOT in a good way. Yet. She was ALMOST empathized with? maybe?

FINAL THOUGHTS: I liked this, I did. And there were a ton of pie mentions so I was often validated in my quest to find a pie mention in my literature (#selfishmaybecertainlystrange). I read some really-not-good reviews and some praising reviews and overall, I liked this very much. So… with all the terrific pie that our characters eat, I give this

RATING: Four slices of pie! I will go with strawberry pie.

I’m glad to have read this. It was different and I learned a lot about lots of things – mostly the creative collaborative animated cartoon concepts and maybe living in NYC. I look forward to spirited debate on this crazy tale.

 

 

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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.
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Manhattan Beach

Thoughts  by Jennifer Egan, Simon & Schuster Audio 2017, 15 hours 16 minutes

Narrated by Heather Lind,‎ Vincent Piazza,‎ Norbert Leo Butz

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Historical Lit? Crime Thriller?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: Free credit time and this was the one I wanted to read next. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I wasn’t as sold on Egan’s Pulitzer winner but this one sounded different in style and the story interested me.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Anna is a young girl when she meets an associate of her father’s. Eddie is the father and Dexter Styles is his employer. Destiny brings Styles  back a few years later as we follow Anna asserting her rights to be a female diver at the Navy Yard and we learn of her father’s disappearance. Does Dexter know what happened to Eddie? Maybe, maybe not.

WHAT’s GOOD: Anna is a great character and I was rooting for her all the way.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Egan as an author intrigues me. She knows her craft. I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook very much. Well done, all the way around.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. LOTS of pie mentions in this one.

 

 

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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.

White Tears

Thoughts by Hari Kunzru, Knopf 2017, 288 pages

Distance can create longing. It can open up the gap into which all must fall.

Challenge: Tournament of Books 
Genre: Contemporary Lit, ghost story or time travel or both
Type/Source: eBook/Library to Kindle
 Why I read this now: Available as download

MOTIVATION for READING: Tournament of Books, and Ruthiella being enthusiastic for this title…

Electricity is not digital. It does not come in discrete packets, but floods the air and flows through conductors and shoots from the hands of mad scientists in silent movies. If it is futuristic at all, it is a past version of the future, temperamental, unstable, half-alive.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This will be hard! I am not good at describing (I usually just do not want to tell) plots of stories. So, copy&paste pieces from the goodreads blurb, I will:

Two ambitious young musicians are drawn into the dark underworld of blues record collecting, haunted by the ghosts of a repressive past. It’s a ghost story, a terrifying murder mystery, a timely meditation on race, and a love letter to all the forgotten geniuses of American music.

I would add that it could also be a tale of obsession and revenge or maybe redemption.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s tense. It’s unsettling. On that regard, the author got it right.

Marconi was right and certain phenomena persist through time, then secrets are being told continuously at the edge of perception. All secrets, always being told.

What’s NOT so good:  It’s confusing at times, but that is the point. When you blend timeframes of the past with the now; blend emotions and physicalities of past bodies with those here and now, you are going to get some confusion.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought it a fun wild thoughtful horrifying ride.

He becomes theatrically still, even his stillness a form of motion.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Porkpie Hats!

He had been staying with friends in California and was sporting—I think that’s the word—a porkpie hat and an army jacket and vintage Nike sneakers and two fistfuls of silver rings.

VOCAB:
roisterselvedgeabseilingdeliquescing, paletasexophthalmic, punctum

 

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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.

Idaho

Thoughts  by Emily Ruskovich, 2017, _pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: eBook / Library
 Why I read this now: The only ebook available NOW at the library.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: We have a mountain man (was his name Wes? I’ve already forgotten!) with his second wife who was a music teacher, from England or Scotland – her dad was in Scotland, I do remember that. We have the guy’s first wife who is in prison but before her story we meet the woman that she will be cellmates with and we learn how that all got set up. We find out that the guy is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s. And we get the stories of all sorts of other people:  Wes’ dad’s neighbor? Wes’ kids, and a friend of his eldest daughter’s, a sketch artist, a mountain neighbor.

WHAT’s GOOD: The author can write and she can create a mood, a tension. I wanted to read and not stop! Had to figure it out, what the heck is going on?! 

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t like how it jumped back and forth in time. This doesn’t usually bother me but I didn’t ‘get’ it with this one. I also didn’t get some of the odd perspectives that were thrown in. I had many unresolved questions. Maybe it was me and not the book.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It is a book that catches you and you don’t want to put it down. But it left me frustrated at the end and as time goes on, I like it less and less.  I do think this will be a fun discussion for the Tournament — on that note, I’m very glad to have read this and eager for the conversation.

RATING: Three slices of pie.

 

 

 

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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 End of Eddy

Thoughts  by Édouard Louis, Brilliance Audio 2017, 4 hours 24 minutes

Translated by Michael Lucey, Narrated by Graham Halstead

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Coming of Age, LGBTQ
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now:  It’s only 4 and 1/2 hours long. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I knew I could get it in by the end of January and have my monthly book reading stats LOOK GOOD.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Eddy is different. He knows it, everyone knows it. Though Eddy’s family does not understand nor  support him, his mother and father *do* love him, in small not-overcoming ways. At times, there was a tenderness. Heartbreaking, really.

WHAT’s GOOD: It is startling and raw. I keep coming back to these two words.

What’s NOT so good: How about a warning that it is not shy about describing EVERYTHING. Not for the faint at heart.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel that it was devoid of story. It is just a recounting of his childhood and all the ways he was demeaned by his family, his community, and himself; until he was able to escape. So it has a hopeful ending, which is nice.

RATING: Three 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.

The Idiot

Thoughts by Elif Batuman, Penguin Press March 14, 2017, 423 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now: It was available at the library (now why I checked this title as opposed to any of the other titles I still have yet to read? no idea…)

MOTIVATION for READING: My reading pal Ruthiella loved it. I saw many other didn’t. I wondered where I would fall on that love/hate divide.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s about Selin who is a freshman at Harvard in the mid 90s, trying to fit in. Or is it? About ‘fitting in’, I mean. She both wonders about it but never obsesses about it (like I did in college.) She’s trying to figure out what to major in, how to achieve what she thinks she wants to ‘do’ in life. She wonders about a lot of stuff. Love, travel, language, words. She has odd thoughts and thinks in a clever witty style.

The author says “part of it (this book) is about discovering email and being really awkward with it.”

Batuman’s bio on goodreads says that her writing has been described as “almost helplessly epigrammatical.” I have to admit, I had to look up epigrammatical to make sure I knew the word correctly and I must say I agree. (I also had to look up parvenu and sinecure; these are words that I have to look up every time I encounter because I have worn pathways in my brain requiring me to mistrust my own definition.)

WHAT’s GOOD: Oh the deadpan humor is fabulous. I would temper that though and say it is MY kind of humor and I know very well that it wouldn’t be many of my friends’ kind of humor. I laughed out loud a lot.

There is a satisfying pie scene. Winner so far of my 2018 Pie in Literature Award. It’s still early, though. Plenty of books to get through yet.

What’s NOT so good: The color of that cover. Yuck.

If you want to read the range of reactions, clicking on that ugly book cover above will take you to goodreads.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Read Roxane Gay’s review. She got it.

 

RATING: Four slices of pie.

“I thought about how wonderful it would be to be eating pie.”

 

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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.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Thoughts  by Jesmyn Ward, Simon Schuster Audio 2017, 8 hours 22 minutes

Narrated by Kelvin Harrison Jr, Chris Chalk, Rutina Wesley – RECOMMENDED

Challenge: Tournament of Book 2018
Genre: Southern Lit, Magic Realism
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: Hot book in the TOB that I had heard of more than some of the others. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  I hadn’t read a Jesmyn Ward book. Am eager still to read everything she produced/s, past and future.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I will provide the official blurb from the ‘official’ reader’s guide on the publisher’s website:

In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award-winning Salvage the Bones, she brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle.

Jojo and his toddler sister, Kayla, live with their grandparents, Mam and Pop, and the occasional presence of their drug-addicted mother, Leonie, on a farm on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. Leonie is simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high; Mam is dying of cancer; and quiet, steady Pop tries to run the household and teach Jojo how to be a man. When the white father of Leonie’s children is released from prison, she packs her kids and a friend into her car and sets out across the state for Parchman, the Mississippi State Penitentiary, on a journey rife with danger and promise.

Sing, Unburied, Sing grapples with the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power, and limitations, of the bonds of family. Rich with Ward’s distinctive, musical language, Sing, Unburied Sing is a majestic work that belongs in the canon of American literature.

WHAT’s GOOD: A lot. The writing, the imagery, the connections. Masterful.

What’s NOT so good: Perhaps it was the audio, but it took me a long time to figure out a few things – that is ME, not the fault of the book. (Driving and listening in winter travel conditions might not be the best medium for enjoying a shocking story.) But upon reading other thoughts and reactions, I have come to appreciate what was happening. This is a book that gets better in your mind the more you think about it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  This would be a great book for wise discussion and I am certain that it could only increase in appreciation. It is a powerful, masterful piece of literature and possibly could be, will be the kind of book taught in high schools for years to come; a classic already.

RATING: Four FIVE 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.

Goodbye, Vitamin

Thoughts  by Rachel Khong, 2017, 208 pages

The endive truck is parked there, and the trucker is outside, sitting on the curb, eating a waxed paper–wrapped apple pie.

Challenge: Tournament of Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: It’s Rooster Reading time once again.

MOTIVATION for READING: I selected this one because it was short. What can I say, I want to read as many as I can. Plus it has mostly good reviews.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m going to share the blurb at goodreads.com:

…the wry, beautifully observed story of a woman at a crossroads, as Ruth and her friends attempt to shore up her father’s career; she and her mother obsess over the ambiguous health benefits – in the absence of a cure – of dried jellyfish supplements and vitamin pills; and they all try to forge a new relationship with the brilliant, childlike, irascible man her father has become.

WHAT’s GOOD: I loved the tone; contemplative, searching, kind, honest. I think I might have expected whiny, but it isn’t at all.

FINAL THOUGHTS: All the characters were easy to cheer for. and LOTS of PIE! Actually, lots of food. This is one of those books that maybe nothing huge happens but there is so much going on. Very good story and told in an interesting way.

RATING: Four slices of pie: apple, chicken potpie, pecan with chocolate in it, and just pie.

At the bistro, our server struggled to remember the pie list.

 

 

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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.

March 2017 Recap

Collection of various thoughts…

The Winner of the Rooster! The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead over Homegoing by Gyasi Yaa. Bracket image below will take you to the final judgements.

This concludes the Tournament of Books.

Now, maybe, I can get back to real life.  My brackets; my list of favorites.

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Mini Review! a DNF (sorry Mary!) rather and a recap of our book club meeting: no one had read the book. Or, no one who showed to the meeting read the book! And, everyone had a good excuse so not a big deal, things happen, I get it. So the two of us there decided to go out to dinner instead…

The Little Paris Bookshop  by Nina George. I just couldn’t quite grasp my problems with it but it was cringe-worthy many times. The premise sounded just lovely: set in Paris on a barge setup as a book store! Nifty, right? and the proprietor has a knack of recommending just the right book. Aw… but he can’t fix his own life. OK. The barge becomes unmoored and so does the tale. THEN, killer to book-malaise when in mid-stream, I read a negative review. Done; moving on. I wanted to like it but I am no longer interested in finding out what happens. Two slice of freshly baked plum tart.

We also didn’t pick a book for next month. My little afternoon club might not make it. Sniff, sniff.

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Pie Chart Time


Number of books read:  5
Number of audiobooks listened:  0
Related themes:  Set in Dublin, Literary: 2
Number of TOB books read:  1
Ratio Female:Male  1 : 4
Translated works:  2, German and Swedish
Number of books with pie:  2, an Apple and a Plum

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.

High Dive

 

Thoughts hdbyjl by Jonathan Lee, Knopf 2016, 321 pages

Challenge: Tournament of Books (16 of 18)
Genre: Historical Lit?
Type/Source: Hard Cover/Library
 Why I read this now: next in line (actually shorter of the two I was able to get from the library)

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB… starts March 8… Here’s the link to watch… (aw COOL. They have a countdown clock working. At the moment of my typing this sentence, we have 8 days yet to go.)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: High Dive is about the 1984 bomb that damaged the Grand Hotel, killing 5 and injuring 31. It is a fictional account of Dan who works (volunteers?) for the IRA as an ‘electrician’. He lives with his mother in Belfast Ireland and has two dogs. He has a torturous(-to-read-about) initiation “interview”. He prefers to work on the bomb creation side of the violence. The title High Dive is possibly inferred from the background of the second character we meet, Moose Finch. Mr. Finch used to be a diving instructor and is now Assistant to the General Manager for the fancy Grand Hotel in Brighton UK. He loves working with people, regrets not going to University when he had the chance, and is hoping he will be promoted to GM after the political conference being in October. Mr. Finch has a daughter named Freya. While trying to decide if she should travel the world or go on to Uni, she works the front desk of the Grand.

Dan checks in as a guest of the Grand Hotel three weeks before the conference so that he can plant a bomb under the bathtub in the room that Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, might be staying in. IMG_1665

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s a thoughtful book. It has a melancholy feel. Definitely character-driven not plot-driven.

What’s NOT so good: I kept getting distracted by wanting to look up more about the hotel, the IRA, Belfast, “the troubles”, RUC, maps of Brighton Beach – the Royal Pavilion – the train station. Saracens, Semtex, plimsolls. I slowly, painstakingly dragged myself through these pages at no fault of the book’s but of my distracted scatterbrained lack of ability to concentrate. Once I finally did manage to find focus, I fell into it and loved it.

This quote is on the book jacket:

A bold, astonishingly intimate novel of laughter and heartbreak, High Dive is a moving portrait of clashing loyalties, guilt and regret, and how individuals become the grist of history.

IMG_1659

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’ve been to Brighton. I think this fact kept me dedicated to this book and also could be to blame for the distractedness. I’ve been to the Grand Hotel. I didn’t know it had been the site of an assassination attempt on Thatcher. I only needed find a restroom, as a tourist wandering around the beachfront. My memory of that ‘situation’ is clear; but that it was the Grand Hotel that provided me that sanctuary, I am not entirely positive. I think so, I’m pretty sure (based on location and possible path from the train.) I didn’t take any photos of the place. I remember it was full of people. Full of school-age children. It was a cold brisk but sunny bright day and I have very positive fond thoughts of Brighton. It made me feel off-kilter reading this, knowing I had been there not quite 30 years later. I would have been one year older than Freya in 1984.

Here are a few of my Brighton photos:

IMG_1672    BristolHorseIMG_1668

RATING: Four slices of shepherd’s pie.

“He could reel off the first 200 digits of pi.”  p.142

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. 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.