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.

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:

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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.

Germinal

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Thoughts gbyezby Émile Zola, eKindle Penguin Classics 2004 (orig 1885), 596 pages

Translation by Roger Pearson (and Notes and Introduction¹).

Audiobook gabnbylp Naxos Audio 2015, 19 hours 55 minutes, narrated by Leighton Pugh. (No translation information provided.)

BackToTheClassics2016

Lots of good stuff on Twitter, see hashtag #GerminalAlong. Good times talking about horrible times in the mining regions of France in the 1860s.

I found three pie mentions:
p.89 “Just you wait, you dirty little scamp. I’ll teach you to make mud-pies indeed!”

p.127 “… so to he had come to recognize them, the way one recognizes amorous magpies disporting in the pear trees in the garden.”²

p.171 “…You know it’s all pie in the sky³…”

I also consider these a cousin of pie – it’s a pastry filled with goodness, so it counts.

volauvent<– a vol-au-vent.

Zola amazes me. I’ve read Thérèse Raquin and was blown away by the grit and darkness, the skill in the story-telling, the audacity to write it in the first place. [My review of that here.] It doesn’t do much to inspire a love for much of humanity – he skewers everyone; but it is a reminder that literature is art. Germinal solidifies my understanding of the ‘naturalism literary movement’. Oh I wish I had majored in literature in college. Maybe I’ll go back when I retire.

Germinal couldn’t sound more boring and yet it is so alive! He makes history touchable / “feel-able” / real and I see why he is and was held in high regard. Skip it if you aren’t in the least bit curious, definitely read it if you want to experience history in all its grittiness and be transported to another place and time. Zola manages to capture so many motivations and is incisive yet gentle with all. Brilliant.

Rating:  Five slices of pie.

BIG SHOUT OUT to all my readalongers!  Especially Top Host Melissa (here’s her review).

 

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1 – I didn’t read the Notes and I read the Intro after, as recommended.

2 – Unverified internet research has told me that the word magpie came before ‘pie’ and may have influenced what we call these pastries. See here.

³ – I found a Slate magazine article explaining the phrase ‘pie in the sky’: … coined by a champion of the American proletariat. “Pie in the sky” comes from an early 20th-century folk song written by labor activist Joe Hill, aka Joe Hillstrom, a legendary member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

 

Copyright © 2007-2016. 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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The Vegetarian

Thoughts tvbyhk by Han Kang, Hogarth 2015 (orig 2007), 188 pages

Translated from the Korean by Deborah Smith

Winner of the Man Booker International Prize 2015

Challenge:  Prize Winners?  Translated Works?
Genre: Asian Lit
Type/Source: Hardback / Gift from Ruthiella – THANKS!
 Why I read this now: A book in hand will get read.

MOTIVATION for READING: Ruthiella was kind enough to send it to me. I ran out of books on the boat (well, I have two, I think, on my Kindle yet?)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young woman, Yeong-hye, is assaulted by horrific dreams (and is also married to a cad.) She decides to forego eating meat because of these dreams and this upsets pretty much EVERYONE. Told from three perspectives — the cad of a husband, her sister’s husband and her sister — and not Yeong-hye, though we do see bits of her dreams.

In the words of The Guardian:

“Dark dreams, simmering tensions, chilling violence . . .  This South Korean novel is a feast . . . It is sensual, provocative, and violent, ripe with potent images, startling colors, and disturbing questions. . . Sentence by sentence, The Vegetarian is an extraordinary experience. . . [It] will be hard to beat.”

WHAT’s GOOD: Oh, it is deliciously disturbing. The writing IS lyrical, the images are startling, the mood is darkly apprehensive.

As LINDA says in the blurbs at the beginning of my copy of the book:

“[A] bloodcurdlingly beautiful, sinister book.”

FINAL THOUGHTS: A perfect book for RIP if you don’t get to it before this fall.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pastries mentioned but I think every fruit available in Korea might make an appearance. Lots of food descriptions.

fourpie

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Copyright © 2007-2016. 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 Story of My Teeth

Thoughts tsomtbyvl The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, Coffee House Press 2015 (orig 2013), 184 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Christina MacSweeney.

Challenge: The last of my Rooster reading attempts… til I try anticipating what might make the short list of NEXT year!
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library 14 day loan, extended (since no one was waiting for it.)
 Why I read this now: it’s March! It’s TOB!! It’s the ROOSTER!!!

MOTIVATION for READING: Upon first hearing of this book, I didn’t think I was interested but as the TOB commentary remarked on its novelty AND that the character is one of an elderly persuasion (I love the cranky old geezer and lady who wears purple), I put it on hold at the library. I really do think I might have placed ALL the short list on hold at the library but I am wondering if some weren’t available at the initial time frame of “short list”. I don’t make very accurate records on such.

ALSO, there are aspects about this book that are beyond the story of the book. Will explain soon.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s funny and sad. Our protagonist is an auctioneer who has perfected — nay, made an art form — of the STORY that goes along with an item that is auctioned. Indeed, believes the story attached to the item makes the item more valuable. This book is about art, the value of art and the value of stories. Highway (nickname for our auctioneer protag) has a son and a long life travel story, and an interesting ‘collection’ from his travels over those years… He is given one last auction opportunity to test his story-value-makes-the-item theory. His collection, his ultimate collection, is teeth of famous people.

This book is tremendously artful and creative. It will appeal to an artful creative kind of reader.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s funny and sad. Highway is a believer.

What’s NOT so good: It’s funny and sad. Highway has to deal with life. It is, yes, so very odd. It is cerebral, it is creative, it is confusing and fascinating.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I can’t quite tell which of you are the right reader to recommend this to and yet I truly believe many just might find it oddly charming as I did. I know a few of you would eat this up and think it brilliant. I also think more of you will find it odd and missing of something concrete. It’s artsy. It really reiterates that the power of words strung together IS art. Construct. Creative. Especially when you hear about the story of how this story came to be…

Please do consider that this work of art, this story, was commissioned AS art and thus it has that metaphysical element of enchantment. Yep, I did say that; I said it.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no noted mention of pie…)

 

 

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Therese Raquin

Thoughts trbyez trbyezgr

Thérèse Raquin

    • Written by: Emile Zola (Translated from French)
    • Narrated by: Kate Winslet
    • Length: 8 hrs
    • Format: Unabridged
  • Release Date:03-08-12 (originally pub’d 1867)
  • Publisher: Audible, Inc.
  • Program Type: Audiobook

FOR THE CLASSICS CHALLENGE: Author New to Me Category

Often repeated phrase:  Hither and thither.

This extremely dark story is INTENSE.

A young woman, Thérèse, is trapped in a loveless marriage; she hides her seething contempt well. When her husband, Camille, brings home a friend named Laurent, she secretly unleashes her duplicitous passionate side, Laurent is a non-ambitious lollygagger of a sort; he really only wishes to see if he could shag her. Dark deeds, mayhem and madness ensue.

“He enjoyed gentle quietude; waiting for the hour to strike.”

Not for the faint of heart.

I’m really not sure what Zola was trying to say. That crime never goes unpunished? That we really can’t tell what goes on in the hearts of others? That we should be content with our lot in life or else we’ll only get misery? – NO, not that last one… Perhaps, it is to never trust a cat.

Rating THREE STARS. I realize and I get that this is a classic but not my favorite. Well-written, amazingly paced, fascinating exploration of the depths of madness = imagination, etc. But I found it rather tedious once the madness ball started rolling hither and thither. Yes, I was distracted by the number of times I heard the phrase.

“That woman must have intoxicated me with caresses.”

Winslet’s narration is top-notch.

No pie, that I recall. Hard to say since it was audio and I listen in my car. Just not wise of me to take a note.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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Like Water for Chocolate

Thoughts lwfcbyle Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel, Anchor Books 1995 (orig 1989), 246 pages.

FIRST sentence: “Take care to chop the onion fine.”

THREE words:  Passionate, fierce, independent.

What’s it ABOUT: A young girl grows up in a kitchen, falls in love, fights her fate, and cooks up magical treats.

I have two reasons for wanting to read this book:  it has recipes and I wanted to know what the title meant.

OK, I do seem to enjoy the foodie books even though I don’t seek them out. I should. I see a pattern. Give in to it already. I love that each chapter of this story revolved or involved a recipe of some sort. I may  not actually try cooking any but I did enjoy reading through the ingredients and the process.

What was most enjoyable was the results described when eating Tita’s concoctions!  I did mention magic, did I not? Wonderful magic, unquestioned, just accepted, not fancy but so revealing. This was such a fun little book!

The book cover calls it a romance but do not let that throw you off. Tita is very much a strong girl who accepts hardwork but fights for what she believes it. When circumstances and family decide things that are not to her liking, she accepts but never ever bends. Yes, there is love and passion and passionate reactions. Love of all forms is explored.

Tita’s sister is also a delight. Well, ONE of her sisters, anyway.

I think this an excellent choice for a book club.

I am also very glad that I can show off that I have read another book off my physical book hoarding shelf. CHECK. It’s a book that is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. YAY! It’s a book that was translated – from Spanish. I’m doing good for exploring more of my planet. It’s a book that has been made into a movie! I can’t wait to see how it translates to film.

Have you read this? Have you seen the movie? Do you have any other FOODie books to recommend?

RATING:   FOUR slices of chocolate cream pie with loads of whipped cream and a few strawberries and maybe rose petals.
HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2014. 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.

Copley in Amsterdam

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The highlight of Copley’s visit?  Meeting Judith!  Judith of Leeswammes’ Blog:  Books, Books, and Books

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She has a great photo of Copley sitting atop a few books…  She gave me The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin (I was MOST excited for this – what a treat!) and First You Try Everything by Jane McCafferty which we joked might be perfect for my celebrating my 25th wedding anniversary this year. I gave her Stewart O’Nan’s Songs for the MissingI haven’t actually read this myself but have been meaning to for years now. Anything by O’Nan, truthfully. I have another copy so I’m trying to set up a readalong. Anyone else interested?

After the yummiest risotto, we had pie; a lemon pie along the type of a key lime from Florida. IMG_1735

We talked a lot about books, as you might expect. And we talked about biscuits and other interesting cultural differences. But mostly about books.

And when the boys were let out from work meetings, we toured.

IMG_1679 View from our room at the Moevenpick Hotel, looking mostly northwest. IMG_1680 View lookingsouthwest? IMG_1683 Amsterdam Station.IMG_1690 Canal scene. IMG_1693 Street scene. IMG_1697 A lovely canal street cafe scene.IMG_1716 The famous Seven Bridges shot. IMG_1726 We had dinner at the restaurant on the top of this old oil rig. IMG_1754 Watch out for the bicycles! IMG_1769 The Flower Market. IMG_1776 The Rijksmuseum. IMG_1780 Where we saw this famous Rembrandt painting The Nightwatch.  IMG_1789 An Old Amsterdam Sandwich (featuring rocket and cornichons but I think it had a different spelling… Means pickles. Rocket is arugula.) IMG_1800 At the Heineken Experience. IMG_1812 A mosiac sofa.

And HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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1Q84

Thoughts  1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – translated from the Japanese by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, Alfred A Knopf 2011, 925 pages.

I was reading this as part of a readalong last January. I think I am the only one to have finished it.

In mid-February, I posted about completing Book Two and though curious how it would end for Tengo and GreenPeas, I was doubtful that I would ever return to it.

But I did!  Blame it all on being curious about it and knowing I had invested so much time on it already AND so many of you liked it …   I am most proud of myself for completing a chunkster. In fact, it gave me the courage to tackle King’s 11/22/63 (review of that coming soon.)

But back to 1Q84… Perhaps I was in a bad mood for this. Or maybe it was too long? or it’s possible that Murakami and I just are not meant to get along.

I was bored most of the book. I was annoyed that the loose ends never tied up. I was only ‘hohum’ about the ending. And despite you all telling me that ____(insert another HM title)____ is awesome and I really should try to read ____(something else by HM)______, I don’t think I ever will.

There are just too many books in the world I want to read and I am a tiny bit upset that I wasted my time on this one.

At least I can say, “I read 1Q84.”

Two slices of moon pie.   (Again, two stars in goodreads.com means ‘it was OK.’ NOT that it stunk. You might love it – many people have.)

Sam Still Reading loved it. So did Ti of Book Chatter. Check here for other book blogger reviews courtesy of Fyrefly’s Search.

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