Bowlaway

Thoughts by Elizabeth McCracken, ecco (Imprint of HarperCollins) 2019, 373 pages

Challenge:  none
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library
 Why I read this now:  This was mentioned as a terrific read by the TOB commentariat so I looked to see if it was available from the library. It was, so I’m reading it. Plus, the author is a fun Twitter follow. 

MOTIVATION for READING:  See why I read this now above.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A candle pin bowling alley. An unusual woman who built and ran the bowling alley and the subsequent family members who trailed after her.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s quirky in all the right and wonderful ways. I really enjoyed it.

What’s NOT so good: I have no complaints.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Has a memorable first sentence/contender for best opening ever.

RATING:  Five slices of pie. LOTS of pie and most pie references are to pie shapes or pie-cut or piebald or . . .

Page 227 – “Sometimes this ghost left the Gearheart to haunt a particular compartment at the Automat, and soured whatever sandwich or soup or slice of pie had been put there.”

Page 240 – “Eskimo Pie.”

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2019. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from BkClubCare aka Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.
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March 2019 Mini-Reviews

Thoughts

March was a delight! Celebrating the Tournament of Books is the best thing about March. If you haven’t heard, My Sister the Serial Killer WON! Very happy that this would prevail (after suffering the disappointment of Milkman being knocked out. Y’all can read most of this already in prior posts.)

I read a few books in March:

I DNF’d The Italian Teacher and wasn’t as impressed with the second half of Washington Black as I was with the first half. I can’t say The Lost Girls of Paris did anything for me and I loved listening to Michelle Obama tell me about her life from the beginning to now in her memoir, Becoming.

There, There was also somewhat of a disappointment but that might be all on me. I had built it up too much, knew too much about it, etc. AND, I read half of it fast and furious while trapped on a plane. Then put it down for a few days before rushing to finish before its last entry round in the TOB. I had lost all recognition of the various story lines and it couldn’t hold together in my head. And the ending – knew it was coming, of course, but the ending!  was abrupt. Felt almost like a cliff hanger but no cliff. More like a brick wall?

April is going better. I’ve already finished these two books:

Both 4 stars and plenty of pie.

And with that short update, here’s a few pie pics from this month:

From Pi/e Night on 3/14:

and from vacation to Baltimore MD:

 

 

 

April 22 is Blueberry Pie Day – just sayin’ 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2019. 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.

January 2019 Mini-Reviews

Thoughts

I’ve read 4 books so far this January.

All of these are for the Tournament of Books. I can’t seem to find a link to that site online. (I wonder what is up with that?)

I did find the brackets:  Just click on the pic below to access a printable link.

The Golden State  by Lydia Kiesling. This is told in a most interestingly delivered present tense style that somehow didn’t bore nor frustrate me but it certainly scares me to how challenging it is raise a toddler. I admit I did love this for the Alice character – even as I was appalled that our narrator referred to her as a crone! What a harsh word. Tons of themes to explore for book clubs.  Mentions pizza pie and probably Honey-Pie.

The Overstory  by Richard Powers. I knew straightaway that this author was going to be impressive but unfortunately, it was too long and by the end of it? Not sure I care to ever read another book by him. THAT SAID, ahem, I did love the story, the words, the themes, the characters explored in this!  with extra whipped cream. (However, no pie referenced so thus a half a slice demerit…)

The Parking Lot Attendant  by Nafkote Tamirat. A coming of age story, an immigrant story, a utopia exploration story? Set in Massachusetts and an unknown island; about Ethiopian-Americans. Leftover apple pie! Highly impressive and confident writing style. 

The Parking Lot Attendant might be my favorite. Census (my review post) by Jesse Ball was my least favorite for this month. It was just unsettling odd and I couldn’t enjoy it. I gave it three slices of pie despite some fun pie mentions. Maybe audio was not the best medium. I’m glad I read it so now I don’t have to read anything else by this author.

I read Speak No Evil by Uzodinmo Iweala — actually, I listened to it, in December.
Heartbreaking story; or a duo story since this follows two high school friends, a switch in the narrative. I don’t even want to share more because I feel I would give too much away.  Mentions pizza pie.

 

I’m still working on Milkman by Anna Burns. Thing is DENSE. Just sayin’.

The titles I hope to get to next are So Lucky, Washington Black, My Sister the Serial Killer, The Italian Teacher, Mars Room and maybe There There… I don’t have any in hand yet; waiting on the library.

Are YOU excited for TOB this year?

 

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Copyright © 2007-2019. 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.

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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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.

July Reviews Written in 15 Minutes… Go!

Thoughts on Recent Books

Thoughts on Recent Books and Typed Up Fast

or…  All the Books I Read or Attempted in July of 2018.

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Despite all the authors who don’t want readers to give books poor ratings and how much I really do want to participate in that when I can appreciate that some books just don’t meet the needs of all readers, I do also want to say that SOMETIMES a low-rating or a ‘dislike’ can actually help a book because sometimes, a review reader will say to themselves, “Hey – those things you didn’t like are things I often DO like so I’m going to give it a try.”  or, they might appreciate that some books have detractors which is good because a book that is universally liked by seemingly everyone must be suspect. It’s good to find that some people didn’t find it awesome like everyone else. It makes people curious. Right?

I did not like The Immortalists. It was not for me. I just didn’t buy some of the characters’ behavior and thought it tried to cram everything and the kitchen sink into the plot line. If it had been just the first 25%, I might have really liked it. But the 3rd and 4th parts didn’t work. Too much. Too unbelievable. Wearying. But hey; LOTS of people loved it so give it a try if it sounds good to you. Maybe you’ll love it. In fact, I hope you do. Caveat – I didn’t like the narration so maybe try the print.

By Our Beginnings by Jean Stubbs

A gem! a true and lovely literary wonder!  It checked all the boxes for me. Set in England, romance between mature and smart individuals, family saga, historical, clash of classes and culture, story swept me away…  

AND, to be totally honest, I expected it to be boring boorish dull. So a pleasant surprise! I was captivated within the first two pages. 

My mother-in-law got me this for my birthday. xoxoxox

Nantucket Nights by Elin Hilderbrand 

I doubt I ever read another book by Hilderbrand. But I do like and enjoy and admire this author based on her Twitter presence. 

Brief Encounters with Che Guevara by Ben Fountain DNF – I’m going to have to try this again sometime. I didn’t capture me.

A Brief History of Seven Killings by  Marlon James – FASCINATING!  Too long, though, and very violent. I just couldn’t bring myself to continue the audiobook and wanted to cry. 

A Gate at the Stairs / Lorrie Moore 

I’ve heard SO MANY interesting things about Lorrie Moore and every interesting thing makes me think I would love her books. I discovered this book was in my immediate possession so I read it and I enjoyed it very much if enjoyment is the right word. She tackles tough stuff. I wish I could articulate my thoughts but I’m a coward when it comes to crazy good stuff and my inadequacies of explaining what exactly I found impressive or thought-provoking. 

My 15 minutes are up.

Have you read any of these? Do share!

 

 

 

 

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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.

Moonglow

Thoughts mgbymc by Michael Chabon, HarperAudio 2016, 14 hours 46 minutes

Narrated by George Newbern.

Challenge: TOB shortlist
Genre: fiction-memoir, speculative-memoir?
Type/Source: Audio/Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Finished The Bone Clocks; this was up next.

MOTIVATION for READING: One thing that recommends this besides it being TOB is that it is written by Chabon. I have only read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay and want to read more.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m deferring to a few bits of the goodreads blurb because it is excellent. To read the whole blurb, click on the cover above because even though it is the button for the audio and I probably should link to Audible.com, I believe you would prefer access to the goodreads reviews rather than Audible. Am I wrong? Feel free to comment.

 …  the latest feat of legerdemain in the ongoing magic act that is the art of Michael Chabon.

Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession, made to his grandson, of a man the narrator refers to only as “my grandfather.” It is a tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and desire and ordinary love, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of the shining aspirations and demonic underpinnings of American technological accomplishment at mid-century and, above all, of the destructive impact—and the creative power—of the keeping of secrets and the telling of lies. A gripping, poignant, tragicomic, scrupulously researched and wholly imaginary transcript of a life that spanned the dark heart of the twentieth century, Moonglow is also a tour de force of speculative history. (edited/cut) Chabon devises and reveals, in bits and pieces whose hallucinatory intensity is matched only by their comic vigor and the radiant moonglow of his prose, a secret history of his own imagination.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The unraveling, layering, building. The metaphors, the descriptors, the confident prose. I am almost certain that if you had me read a few pages of a book without identifying the author, I could pick out Chabon’s style and phrasing.

What’s NOT so good:  See above. Unfortunately, I feel like I can dip into and skip around and know that even as am surely ‘missing something’, I won’t miss it.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  If I wasn’t in such a gosh darn hurry to get these books crossed off the list, I would listen to every word and marvel. I would be entertained, enthralled, captivated, etc. I think I’ll just put another or all of Chabon’s books on my tbr and hope to read them someday.

SPECIFIC to TOB:  Due to the narrative structure and question of memoir vs fiction, I really wish this book was slated to compete against Black Wave. What a discussion that could be!  What a syllabus for a college class: these two books, add in A Million Little Pieces by James Frey, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein and everything by Mary Karr. But what do I know? I haven’t read any of those…

RATING: Four slices of pie. And I did hear a mention (as in, a list of desserts brought to a party) but I failed to capture the specifics.

[Updated, near the end of the book, about an hour left…  TARTE TATIN!  French Apple Pie.]

fourpie

Moonglow collapses an era into a single life and a lifetime into a single week. A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional non-fiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most daring, his most moving, his most Chabonesque.

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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.

Sudden Death

Thoughts sdbyae by Álvaro Enrigue, Riverhead 2016, 264 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Natasha Wimmer.

Audiobook published by Tantor Audio, narration by Robert Fass, 6 hours 57 minutes.

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Historical Fiction / Tennis Lit
Type/Source: Hardback AND Audio / Library
 Why I read this now: Selected due to shortness of the audiobook, in hopes that I could finish in January to be my 12th book of the month.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I’m going to copy and paste one of the goodreads blurbs.

A funny and mind-bending novel about the clash of empires and ideas in the sixteenth century, told over the course of one dazzling tennis match

A brutal tennis match in Rome.

Two formidable opponents: the wild Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio and the loutish Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo.

Galileo, Saint Matthew and Mary Magdalene heckle from the sidelines.

In England, Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII execute Anne Boleyn, and her executioner transforms her legendary locks into the most sought-after tennis balls of the time.

Across the ocean in Mexico, the last Aztec emperors play their own games, as Hernán Cortés and his Mayan translator and lover scheme and conquer, fight and fuck, not knowing that their domestic comedy will change the course of history.

Over the course of one dazzling tennis match – through assassinations and executions, carnal liaisons and papal dramas, artistic and religious revolutions, love and war – Sudden Death tells the grand adventure of the clash of empires and the dawn of the modern era.

WHAT’s GOOD: It really is fascinating. And has its funny moments.

What’s NOT so good: It’s also too difficult to keep track of in my current end-of-month scramble to finish a book (impatience) and the wrestling with reading books I feel “I have to” and not what “I want to” — which I realize is messed-up thinking so let’s throw in the current state of the world affairs, my own crazy messy life stuff, and realizing I have a book club book to read by next week.

Allow me to share a few thoughts from my reader friends:

sdbyaegr

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m skimming the rest of this and do not think I will be missing anything (actually, as I miss EVERYTHING!) – in other words, I will be able to follow the upcoming TOB commentary and likely agree with everyone. If you are reading this, let me know if it has any pie.

RATING: Three slices of pie! I liked it, I’m just needing to move on. It does deserve more time and fuller attention than I care to give it at this time. I have my regrets and may I only mutter, someday…

Highly recommended for fans of lively history and TENNIS.

 

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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.

Mister Monkey

Thoughts mmbyfp by Francine Prose, Harper 2016, 285 pages

Challenge: TOB Short List
Genre: Adult Lit, connect short stories
Type/Source: Hard cover / Library
 Why I read this now: up next…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: These are connected short stories that revolve around a children’s musical play being produced off off off off off Broadway. We first meet an actress who feels frustrated with where she is in her career and we meet the 12 yo child actor genius who plays the chimp role. We meet a little boy who spoke too loudly during a performance and we meet his grandfather. We are introduced to the little boy’s new kindergarten teacher who happens to be on a blind date while the author of the book the play is based on is seated at the next table over. We meet the waiter who receives tickets to the play from the author as part of his tip. The play isn’t going well; the motivations and perspectives of the cast and audience shine a prism of realities onto the experience.

WHAT’s GOOD: The stories are poignant and funny, sad and insightful to the human condition. We feel the regrets, embarrassment, love and hope.

What’s NOT so good: I really enjoyed these and I was impressed by the deft handling and skill of the writing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: A pleasure.

RATING: Four to five slices of apple tart.

 

 

 

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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.

We Love You, Charlie Freeman

Thoughts wlycfbykg by Kaitlyn Greenidge, Algonquin Books Kindle Ed. 2016, 337 pages

Challenge: Rooster TOB Shortlist
Genre: Adult Fiction or Young Adult Fiction…
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: It was offered as a daily deal for $1.99

MOTIVATION for READING: Reading all the TOB Shortlist

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  I refer you to the goodreads blurb:

The Freeman family–Charles, Laurel, and their daughters, teenage Charlotte and nine-year-old Callie–have been invited to the Toneybee Institute in rural Massachusetts to participate in a research experiment. They will live in an apartment on campus with Charlie, a young chimp abandoned by his mother. The Freemans were selected for the experiment because they know sign language; they are supposed to teach it to Charlie and welcome him as a member of their family.

Isolated in their new, nearly all-white community not just by their race but by their strange living situation, the Freemans come undone. And when Charlotte discovers the truth about the Institute’s history of questionable studies, the secrets of the past begin to invade the present.

The power of this novel resides in Kaitlyn Greenidge’s undeniable storytelling talents. What appears to be a story of mothers and daughters, of sisterhood put to the test, of adolescent love and grown-up misconduct, and of history’s long reach, becomes a provocative and compelling exploration of America’s failure to find a language to talk about race.

WHAT’s GOOD:  Surprising, enterprising*, engaging. I am glad to have read it and I don’t know if going totally blind into this was the best idea. But I think it was.

What’s NOT so good: Messy, unwieldy, faltering. (I have a few questions…)

FINAL THOUGHTS: I actually liked this more than I can express and it is the opposite of my feelings for Sweet Lamb of Heaven. In this book I liked it more but found a few faults. With Sweet Lamb, I didn’t like it all that much but couldn’t figure out why. Go figure.

RATING: Three slices of pie. MUD pie!

In his first few days at Courtland County he’d asked, “Y’all do what around here? Fish in ponds? Make mud pies?” and one of them gulped, “We go to the laser show at the CCC’s astronomy lab.” And he’d laughed.

 

∗ enterprise – a project that involves many people and that is often complicated or difficult.

 

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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.