The Double Helix: Annotated and Illustrated

Thoughts dhbyjw by Dr. James Watson, Simon and Schuster 2012 (orig 1968), 368 pages [Edited by Alexander Gann and Jan Witkowski]

Challenge: Classics Club 50
Genre: Science History
Type/Source: Hardback / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: I love science.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: How Watson and Crick used models to figure out how DNA was structured.

WHAT’s GOOD: I did not expect the breezy style. It is very readable.

What’s NOT so good:  Well, you may or may not like Dr. Watson at the end but he does tell a fun story, even if bits are regrettable. He was young and determined. He shares more than just the science, but also other activities these youthful scientists were up to – where and what they ate (gooseberry pie has a mention!), the girls they tried to meet, the famous people they encountered and traveled to visit. He talks about his troubles with the sponsor for his time abroad and quite a bit about the personalities of everyone he works with.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am so glad to have read this. The big question:  did Rosalind Franklin get screwed out of the discovery and subsequent Nobel Prize. Question Mark. Let’s just say, it’s complicated and that I could say yes, but. It very much feels like facts happened and one’s viewpoint is X and the other is Y. This and that. Perspectives. And when you start to get snarky, it gets very ugly fast. Did circumstances make it difficult and thus makes it a helluva story? Oh yes.

She deserved more accolades and unfortunately she is getting it now and not in her lifetime. It is sad that she died so young. Was Watson a _____ (insert whatever nasty/relevant word you want here, but my answer is “he was a man”.)

And NOW:  I get to read more about Rosalind Franklin:

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RATING: Four slices of gooseberry pie. If you are going to read this, I suggest the annotated illustrated edition.

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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.

Brighton Rock

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Thoughts brbygg by Graham Greene, Blackstone Audiobook 2011 (orig 1938), 9 hours 48 minutes.

Narrated by Richard Brown.

BAILED. I just found myself avoiding it. And when I did have it on – usually while driving – I didn’t pay a bleep of attention to it.

Guess not the right time for this and I suspect the right time won’t come around in my lifetime. Sorry Mr. Greene – will have to try something else you’ve written; hope that’s OK.

The narration was only so-so for me.

No Rating. DNF.

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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.

Amsterdam

Thoughts amsterdambyim by Ian McEwan, Anchor 1999 (orig 1998), 193 pages

My “Pick” Review on Litsy offered THREE points:

  1. I love how Ian McEwan strings words together. I fall into his books like fluffy pillows and fleece blankets by a fire.
  2. The women in this book  are minor characters yet they seem to hold all the power. (I still need to think about this. Still thinking… a few days later.)
  3. The descriptions of the music were captivating.

What the Washington Post said:

A sharp contemporary morality tale, cleverly disguised as a comic novel, Amsterdam is “as sheerly enjoyable a book as one is likely to pick up this year.”

What’s it ABOUTWARNING! I am going to tell a lot more about the plot than I usually do. I always feel like I’m spoilering so read on at your own risk. Two friends, ex-lovers of an extraordinary woman named Molly, meet up at her funeral. Clive is a composer who is not ‘attached’ and Vernon is a newspaper editor; they eventually make a pact that in the event IF one ever becomes seriously ill and incapacitated, the other agrees to assist in facilitating a dignified end-of-life situation, something they don’t believe their friend Molly was accorded. Clive is busy and stressed with writing a grand symphony for the year 2000 and Vernon is desperately trying to save his newspaper – circulation is falling and they need a scoop. Well, Clive arrives at a cross-roads literally while hiking to free his mind up for inspiration and Vernon is given his juicy tabloid fodder opportunity — photos of a high-level politician who was also a lover of Molly. HOWEVER, things happen, plots are plotted, disagreements are both blown out of proportion or thoughtlessly disregarded depending on the viewpoint and it all becomes a major clusterfuck for almost everyone involved.

What’s good?  No one could complain that nothing happens in this book. For a slim book, it has a ton of pivotal bit characters and interesting events. I love IMcE’s writing. I just will follow wherever his sentences lead me.

What’s NOT so good: Well, it was almost too neatly wrapped up and not really all that convincing even as I keep contemplating what happened! How could all these momentous things happen and yet not one really gets the importance? And all the conniving and clever and circumstantial happenings seem oh so convenient. Seriously, some of these steps could have slipped this way or that and a whole ‘nother story would have had to have been chased down. I might need to go back and reread – I don’t think I recall the WHYs. Why did Clive decide to ___ and also Vernon decide to carry out ____?! Were they that cruel? Yep, almost a bit TOO convenient. I am starting not to buy it as I keep going over and over it…

And then the cover art of Brona‘s copy has me thinking about something else all over again!

I loved the sidestepping move by Rose Garmony. YOWZA, was she interesting.

So, even if a bit bumpy and I question the plot, I enjoyed every minute of it. Let’s write some fanfiction to further delve into Molly and Rose, could we?

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie (the pastry) mentioned but PIE CHARTS were found. I might suggest an almond torte as a pie alternative here. Almond torte sounds Dutch, no?fourpie

BIG thank you to JoAnn and Athira for allowing me to crash their readalong #damalong.

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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.

And Then There Were None

Thoughts attwnbyac by Agatha Christie, Harper 2011 (orig 1939), 300 pages

Challenge: Classics Club 50 in 5 Years (I’m in Year 2)
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Type/Source: Paperback / Used Bookstore
Why I read this now: The itch to read a mystery and get back to my classics list lead me to search for it at my local used bookstore and I found it.

MOTIVATION for READING: I purchased three books at the bookstore and put it up for a vote a few posts ago. I started reading March before all the votes were in and Agatha was enthusiastically cheered for as my next book. I read it in one day. I didn’t think it would be that short and fast!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ten people are invited to an island for ‘holiday’ but the hosts are no-shows. Then someone dies! And another and another. They realize that the murderer must be one of them. Search parties, alliances and trust-not-trust dilemmas only add to the confusion. Guests keep dying! and finally, they are ALL dead. WHO was the culprit?

WHAT’s GOOD:  Very clever, very suspenseful, interesting back-stories and motives.

What’s NOT so good: I just am not that thrilled anymore about these kinds of books — I did have that dejavu feeling and I KNOW I did read it in High School or even Middle School — but I loved that this was short and easy/fast to read.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m glad of the ‘explanation’ letter in a bottle but sad that the last death had to happen. I was cheering for that person. It’s not that I figured out or remembered who it was but that it all felt familiar and not that startling once revealed. Still a fun whodunit, for sure.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned. Plenty of tinned tongue, though. Ew…

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VOCAB
p. 41 – cairngorm – “…, she pinned a cairngorm brooch at her neck,” – another term for smoky quartz

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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.

My Name is Lucy Barton

Thoughts mnilbbyes by Elizabeth Strout, Random House 2016, 208 pages

Challenge: “Catching the 2017 TOB Long/Short List”
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Concord Bookshop
 Why I read this now:  Wanted a HOT book that was short so I could read quickly and leave at my Auntie’s cabin.

MOTIVATION for READING:  This has been mentioned as an excellent book pub’d in 2016 and I want to be ahead of the anticipated books to possibly make the TOB 2017 list.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  This book is about mother-daughter relationships, growing up in poverty, how childhood can shape adulthood, nature vs nurture, marriage somewhat, a writing guide somewhat…

WHAT’s GOOD:  So many things… I love the tone, I love how the main character (LUCY BARTON) falls in love with the kind people in her life, I loved the courage and the sharing. I loved the authentic feel of it. I suppose I should say ‘I loved the authenticity’ but I think ‘the authentic feel of  of it’ fits better.

What’s NOT so good: Nope, nothin’ wrong with it. Loved it; my kind of book.

I like introspective, quiet, deep, provocative books. This is one of those. This could be called a survivor’s tale.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Before reading this… I was reluctantly interested. Allow me to explain that it was because I fell head-over-heels hard for Olive Kitteridge but was less than overwhelmed (I was only ‘-whelmed) with The Burgess Boys. So, I was nervous, OK? But it seemed that many readers I respect were giving Lucy some praise and it caught my eye when I stopped to visit Dawn at the Concord Bookshop. Do you all know Dawn?  dawnandmeWe’ve had some bookish fun in our book-bloggin’ friendship and I was SO GLAD! SO VERY VERY GLAD to finally get my butt up to her town and into her store.
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So, I saw this book on the shelf and knew I must buy it. I had a feeling my Auntie would like it and that my cousin Linda would like it AND it was short enough that it would be possible for me to read it while visiting in Maine and thus leave it with my Maine Folk for their reading pleasure as well.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

I recorded no mention of pie within the Lucy Barton pages but I did see Elvis there. So let’s go with FIVE slices of Elvis Pie. Just click on this sentence to get to the recipe.

 

 

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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.

Unpluggity-Pluggity

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Yes, yes, I *do* realize that I am somewhat running a readalong this month:  #FiremanAlong

But I am also going to attempt a disconnect from social media a teensy bit and that will mean Facebook, Instagram, Litsy, and Twitter.  (ha – maybe I will attempt snapchat as soon as most of you newbies get old to it!)

Give me 7-10 days off, if that’s OK. Carry on without me, if you can.

You can do that, right?

FWIW, I have 13 hours remaining on my audio of The Fireman which might be ~45% through? — I just got to the part where Harper is visiting John Rookwood to attend to his injuries after going to her house to retrieve the ace bandage. Is that a spoiler?

It is also right after mention of the following which I knew I just had to include somewhere and since youtube song mentions are NOT such a hit on the Twitter feed, I might as well put here:

I am disheartened, disillusioned, frustrated, and scared for my country this election year. I feel the polarization and the lunacy and what seems to be a tendency to be cruel rather than compassionate in relations with ‘others’ and I can’t process. I need some time to  commune with nature.

Call it self-care.

So I’m taking a break from the internet. In some ways, I feel like I know and value a wonderful diverse caring group of friends online but I also am assaulted by persuasiveness that leaves little sympathy and empathy and respect for a different viewpoint. I also suspect that the media is feeding the beast and is not to be trusted.

I’ll shut up now and look to the sunshine. I promise to wear my sunscreen.

loveCare

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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.

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Unaccustomed Earth

Thoughts uebyjl by Jhump Lahiri, Random House Vintage Contemporaries 2009 (orig 2008), 333 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:  I have had this copy in my house far too long. I was needing, craving a short story experience. Only fitting it be a collection by such a skilled writer.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Again, I am “Bad, bad Care” because I do not have my copy in my hands for reference. This is particularly tricky when reviewing a collection. I gave this book to my friend in Rhode Island. I am in North Carolina. I could wait but I just want to get this list of review posts DONE already! Nobody reads these anyway, amirite? No, I know that is silly, you are reading this right now, aren’t you? Thank you. Smile and shake your head in disbelief. Lahiri deserves better treatment, I realize.

WHAT’s GOOD: Lahiri amazes me. Some of these stories don’t really even have a plot. Or maybe just not a lot of action. She gets people. She gets in their head and gets right to their core. She is insightful; she finds pain and gently extracts it,unfolds it, examines it. She knows the universal feelings felt by all and yet captures the cultural differences within every day lives against the sameness of emotions. She shines in exploring humanity’s weaknesses against the concept of best selves. OK, I’ll shut up now.

Most impactful story/ies: The young girl who reflects on the older boy and how their families knew each other. The older boy, now in college, reflecting on his relationship with his father. Then, much later, the girl and boy meet up in the most unlikely of places and circumstances.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I never really looked at the cover but it all comes together in the last story. And it just leaves an aching hole in your soul.

Only two (or is it three?) of the stories are linked, but I could be wrong. All the stories do not connect around same characters but they all have a thread of melancholy.

RATING: fourpie of apple pie.

“Today, Paola had mentioned, an American novelist was coming, someone homesick for Thanksgiving and bringing an apple pie.”

 

 

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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 Devil in the White City

Thoughts ditwcbyel by Erik Larson, Vintage 2004 (ori 2002), 396 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, history, architecture, true crime: serial killers
Type/Source: tradeback, unknown
 Why I read this now: craving nonfiction

MOTIVATION for READING: My husband is not a fiction reader (or book reader, really) and he requested a book from my library that I thought he might enjoy. He has yet to finish and I needed a book when we were traveling so I finished it while he was doing other things.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Larson typically takes two story lines – 1) a big event in history and weaves it with 2) a celebrity(?) personality. This one is about 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago and the men who were in charge of building it while exploring one of America’s earliest known serial killers. The Fair provided the opportunity for victims.

WHAT’s GOOD: I really enjoyed learning about Daniel H. Burnham. He’s the guy that the famous Chicago fountain is named for:

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I also liked learning about the Ferris Wheel (but then I also explored more about this on my own. I just got curious after the inventor/designer was mentioned. I did that a lot, actually – pursued further knowledge about many a topic in this. And photos…)

What’s NOT so good: I was bored with the serial killer part and was mostly annoyed at Larson for the teasers that were so obscure and explained so far beyond in the text that I often groaned in frustration.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am not sure I need to read any more of this guy’s books. They just aren’t for me. The history is usually awesome but I want more pictures and no more heavy-handed foreshadowing.

RATING:  Three slices of Blackbird Pie.

 

 

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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.

State of Wonder

Thoughts sowbyap by Ann Patchett, Harper Audio 2011, 12 hours 25 minutes

Challenge: Readalong!  #StateOfWonder
Genre:  Contemporary Lit, Med Lit even maybe
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible.com May’s Credit
 Why I read this now: I can’t remember exactly how it all came together…

MOTIVATION for READING: Because I loved This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and it made me want to read all of Patchett’s books.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Here’s the blurb from goodreads.com:

Set in the Amazonian jungle, State of Wonder is a major and explosively ambitious new audiobook from the New York Times-bestselling author of Bel Canto and Run–both a gripping adventure story and a profound investigation of difficult human choices.

I love short blurbs. This is perfect.

****** YOU WILL BE SPOILED WITH THIS POST IF YOU READ ON. TOTAL SHARING COMMENCING *****  To be honest, I hate doing this because then you are setup that there are SHOCKS and AWE and I wasn’t aware of them until I got it spoiled. Just sayin’.

WHAT’s GOOD: Hope Davis is now one of my favorite audiobook performers.

What’s NOT so good: Ok, I really did love most of all of it. I admit that I had read many not-so-positive reviews looooong time ago that made me not tbr this (though when I look NOW at what my goodreads friends thought of it, all seemed to praise it well enough.)

Katie who no longer lives in Massachusetts but dwells in the dells of Texas now is writing a spoileriffic post where we will be soon discussing THE ENDING! I can’t wait.

I’m trying to anticipate her issues with the ending with my own wonderings of my reactions – including spoilers here, be only slightly forewarned. oh, I already warned you? Are you ready?

I first must say that I want to blame Aths for spoilering me anyway even as I attempted to avoid being spoiled. But she had a comment in her review – WHAT?! WHY THE HECK DID I READ IT BEFORE I WAS DONE WITH THE BOOK!??!!? – about how the wife of Anders suspected he wasn’t dead (“He can’t be dead; I’d know” and the romantic in me wants to believe that.) and that is why Marina agreed to go get answers. Yes, this nagged at the back of my mind without me really examining it.

“…and the wife is convinced that Anders isn’t dead. And so begins Marina’s incredible journey to Brazil,…”

The quote above is lifted directly from Reading on a Rainy Day’s review of this book. Her stating this AND after reading the choice quote she included to kickoff the post nagged at me…

GUESS WHAT!  Anders ends up alive.

  1.  How did he not get killed by the scary deadly cannibals?
  2. She (Marina) was able to find him in a quick trip down the river after many MANY mentions how hard everyone thought it was to find the RIGHT tributary?
  3. Of course, (pls read that ‘of course’ with dripping sarcasm), we had to sacrifice the FAVORITE character in the entire book!!!
  4. OK – I also thought that Marina was going to end up staying to carry on Doc-What’s-Her-Crazy’s work…  I did. I really thought she was going to stay.
  5. I was sad the baby died. I was.
  6. I agreed with Dr. Crazy – women shouldn’t have babies late. I think the idea is nuts. I liked the juxtaposition (simplified as it was) that we could develop a drug for all-aged-women fertility vs malaria vax? Whoa.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It was fun. The anaconda scene was worth everything. Some of the ‘thoughts’ seem very simple as I think back on it – cartoonish even. Rapp mushrooms?  Lavender moths? Only place in the world? Whatever.

I enjoyed(?) the dilemma discussions of ‘saving’ primitive peoples. Even as Doc rallied against a lot of it, she was still attempting a huge savior move with a malaria vaccine.

Someone on Twitter asked me…  AS A SCIENTIST, does it seem REAL to you and the question threw me. Off-tilted me. Science is so many things. Patchett writes very well and she can put the reader in that time, that place, very realistically. So can Stephen King. Do we ever ‘question’ the reality of his books?! no, we enjoy the ride of crazy because it is buoyed by true imagination, creativity and emotion. EMOTIONS is the button we love.

Does anyone want to discuss the title?

RATING: I rounded up to 5 slices of pie. Fun read. All sorts of existential questions, real or not; the questions ARE real.

No mention of pie.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Thoughts trfocgbyje by Jonathon Evison, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2012, 290 pages

I went on a tear through my eBooks on my Kindle while on a trip to Rhode Island. Finished 3 books boom boom boom. This is the second (I started immediately after finishing The Baker’s Daughter.)

I was under the impression that a movie of this was due soon but when I checked IMDB.com, I couldn’t find anything. Which makes me wonder what book I was thinking of?! Oh well.

This was a fun road trip book but it had the feeling like I had read it before or  something similar. It had the “familiar” feel to it but I really do not think I had read this. (It happens, I got a third in to Empire Falls when I got that “huh, I think I’ve already read this” feeling and sure enough, pre-blogging and thus no electronic list to verify, I found a book club list and I HAD read it. I went ahead and finished it. It’s good. I’ve seen the movie twice, too.

So. Back to this free form review of this book.

It’s a sad book. We find out slowly, like peeling an onion, what has happened to our protagonist (I’ve forgotten his name). Of course, we do know he is a bit downtrodden right at the beginning when the story has him arriving at an interview for a first job after getting his CNA and barely has enough gas in his car to make it there. He is to care for a teen boy with MD. We know this will be sad.

But is has humor and respect for people no matter what their lot in life and we appreciate how these two guys get along and manage each other and the situation.

Then it becomes a road trip book where we meet more interesting characters with problems of their own and not only does it feel like a buddy movie road trip but a story about how quickly a group can become a family of sorts.

I don’t even remember how it ends now.

Sorry, I realize this review is not saying much but I will finish up and say that I enjoyed it, I laughed and I sniffled with the sorrow. I liked it.

I can say that there are couple of tiny instances of being offended by something that is similar to not liking certain words but I got over it…

Four slices of pie because again – the generosity of liking a book and feeling good about it.  Three and a half rounded up.

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I don’t have my kindle with me so I can’t check to see if I highlighted any pie mentions…

 

 

 

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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.