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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Exit West

Thoughts by Mohsin Hamid, Penguin Audio 2017, 4 hours 42 minutes

Challenge: Tournament of Books 
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible 
 Why I read this now: Next best to read from the TOB list.

MOTIVATION for READING: I listened to this one even though, like Eddy, it violates my audiobook length rule. I like looooong audiobooks and I hate feeling like I wasted a credit on such a short one! Oh well.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A couple in a war torn country escape via doors to other countries that don’t really want immigrants and migrants.

WHAT’s GOOD: It casts an important light on humanity and how we don’t treat well those from ‘other’.

What’s NOT so good: I didn’t get it. I don’t know, it just wasn’t for me. I do get that it has been highly praised and casts an important light on serious subjects but I didn’t like the matter of fact tone. I didn’t have enough emotion stirred up to care about Nadia and Saeed. Actually, not quite true – I liked Saeed’s father and mother. I didn’t get the other little side stories that would pop up and then never be tied up. I suppose that was the point but it was rather unjarring.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I don’t think this book on audio was the best way for me to experience. I am not saying that the author didn’t give an inspired reading but that my hearing this tale while driving in traffic didn’t work.

RATING: Two slices of pie for how I truly want to rate this but three on goodreads because I hate being contrarian and the book obviously is getting good attention — this book works for lots and lots of people (while others hated it as gimmicky) — I have no need to want to bring the rating down. I mean, it did come across as polished and important without being pretentious. I just didn’t like it that much. 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.

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 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.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest

Thoughts on a Book to Complete a Challenge…

I FOUND IT!   What I wrote in my June Round UP:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest was terrific! I really enjoyed it. I was saddened to see gr reviews by friends who did NOT like this or read a review that convinced them they would not like it so are crossing off lists! I REALLY liked this book and found much that appealed to my reading emotional self. It’s all just crazy. That’s OK. Too each their own. But I would LOVE to make Joann read this and change her mind and then sit and discuss over wine….  (Wow – I don’t usually try twist peoples’ arms to read a book but it somehow keeps poppin’ up in my recall that she is thinking this won’t appeal to her…)  I think that what one reviewer found annoying, I found tongue-in-cheek amusing, so it made me chuckle where the other person reacted with DNF and/or chucking the book across the room. Funny, huh?

I thought I missed one book to complete the What’s in a Name Challenge; the the Compass Direction category. A little late in the year for me to start worrying about it, but #shrug. But anyway,  I decided to do a look-see through my goodreads My-Books Read list…  I searched “North” –> nope, nothing for 2017. I entered “South” –> nothing, again, for 2017. Then “East” –> sure enough –> nada. OK, only one more compass direction to look up, “West”.

AND DING DING DING!!!  We have a winner!

I did not do a dedicated review (in a timely manner, ahem) since I failed miserably at this task for most of the last six months. SO I am here now writing on to satisfy the challenge and give a little jig and celebrate a reading challenge for 2017. Kick up your heels and join me?

I give j.Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest Kitchens of the Great Midwest FIVE SLICES of APPLE PIE!

Did you have some successes in reading challenges for 2017 that I can help YOU celebrate?

 

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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.

Latest and Greatest

Recent Thoughts and Other Things…

I’ve read 4 books since my last review post and finished up May strong with 8 books (one of which was a skim from half point…)

Total for the year so far:  39 books, 9672 pages, ~147 hours

I decided a quick audiobook (< 3 hours) was just the thing to catapult my month’s stats to something I can be proud of and chose Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me It was both unexpected and affirming; she is an eloquent voice for feminism and human rights. I very much enjoyed this. I was also pleased that she lent insight to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando

I DNF’d Orlando Sob, shame, embarrassment. It is NOT a summer beach read; it is dense and though very lively, it takes concentration. I admit I was lost and believe this would be a great book for serious study just not right now in the moment of my crazy life. I had originally attempted the audiobook – nope. Reading the ebook was easier, but… I can’t quite describe the feeling of drowning it gave me. Submerged in what I can only assume is amazing prose but HUH? I need guidance for next time. And I do want to try again. It’s not dry and dusty; it is very lively, but hold on! Goodness.

My neighbor gave me a book written by a friend of hers from a writing group she was involved with. I must say that it was well-written and informative, fascinating even.  I know many will and should enjoy it. It just wasn’t my cup of tea in style and format; I guess genre. I like the heavier serious immersive stuff. (How I can say that I liked The Sport of Kings when I didn’t like it but I can “like” this but not? Does that make any sense whatsoever? Nah, I didn’t think so.) I can find much to admire and can recommend Holly Warah’s debut Where Jasmine Blooms I give it 3 slices of pie. (It did have lots of pie so I could bump up to a 4 slice?)  I now must get my hands on a recipe for SAMBUSIK PIE.

Finally, my MIL gave me  A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly and I read it in one day. What an amazing story! If you have seen or  know about the movie Lion, you know what this is:  young boy finds himself on a train to Calcutta, many MANY miles away from home. He is adopted by a family in Australia and when he is 30, he decides to find out about his birth-family. WOW!!

I’m listening to Everything I Never Told You and honestly, I’m not feeling it. Shrug. I’m about 35% in. Maybe I’m just in a horrible mood this summer!? No, that can’t be all of it — I have Kitchens of the Great Midwest on ebook and I am finding it delightful.

Finally. School is out and we are headed to the boat and the lovely waters of Rhode Island. You may not see me around here much… Wishing everyone a super summer and lots of great reading!

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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.

The Disappearing Spoon

Thoughts : And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean, Back Bay Books 2010, 416 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name: Cutlery Category
Genre: Pop Science
Type/Source:  Tradeback Paperback / Local Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: I think it took me all month to read it. I wanted something new and different after all the 2016 pub’d books I had furiously flown through.

MOTIVATION for READING: I like fun science. This satisfied the cutlery challenge and looked interesting. My other option was Consider the Fork about technology and food. (Yep, another nonfiction.) If you want a title with a knife, I only recommend The Knife of Never Letting Go if you have ALL books in the series. I hate cliffhangers.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The author walks the reader through the elements of the Chemistry Periodic Table regaling with history, personalities, OF COURSE some science and other oddball tidbits to fascinate.

Jupiter is a fantasy camp for elements.

WHAT’s GOOD: Easy to understand sections about how they figure the age of the world. I enjoyed the personal anecdotes about the fascinating scientists that worked out these challenges. The author does a fair job of recognizing and discussing privilege in science/history. And how much we still don’t understand – the chapter on the alpha constant! It’s everywhere – totally fascinating. He highlights many recent stories that show how science of the elements is still evolving. [doh. The study of medicine/pharmacology, anyone?!] I know that I have internal bias that science discovery was all done ‘back then’ and when he mentions research and experiments past 2005 — I admit, I am embarrassed to wonder “hey- that is recent!” Maybe it is the realization that I have lived some of this history but how can I be that old already? It really is an odd thing to sense one’s own aging; it still befuddles me.

“If anything runs deeper than a mathematician’s love of variables, it’s a scientist’s love of constants.”

What’s NOT so good: I had to have two bookmarks – one for the text and the other in the footnotes section. I’ll never remember most of it! Only occasionally, the presentation is dense and extremely technical but also easy to skip over and get to the good stuff.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you like science history, this is a don’t-miss. But then again, if you really love science history, you probably know a lot of it already.

It often reminded me of that episode of the Big Bang Theory when Sheldon adopts the cats…

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

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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.

Dublin Literary Pub Crawl

Thoughts          by Colm Quilligan, Writers’ Island 4th Ed 2017 (orig 2008), 160 pages

The story of Dublin pubs and the writers they served.

Challenge: Tour Dublin
Genre: Travel, Literary Travel!!
Type/Source: Tradeback / purchased directly from the author
 Why I read this now: Cuz I bought it from the source AT the source.

MOTIVATION for READING: To see if I really saw Dublin as I hope to have seen it. (yea, not quite, dammit.)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This book is a guide to all the cool literary places to visit in Dublin! It is NOT the thing to buy on your last day in Dublin. It is preferable to read before setting foot in Dublin but not too far in advance probably (based on ME, cuz I am really horrible about reading stuff pre-visit to places. (What is really crazy is that I can replay that in my head in an Irish accent but I suck at an Irish-accent-attempt live.))

WHAT’s GOOD: Pretty pictures! Slick copy! Cool places! MUST. GET. BACK. TO DUBLIN. Guinness really does taste better in Dublin. Sigh.

This book is packed with places (with addresses – good), photos, interesting tidbits, famous people and other people that may not be known to everyone, fascinating history, etc etc etc. The index is extensive, too, which I know will impress the fussiest of nonfiction-lovers. And a bibliography!

If you read yesterday’s post on Delaney’s Dublin book, you’ll know about The Bailey pub and maybe could tell that it doesn’t look ‘old’. Interesting bit: Delaney lamented that 7 Eccles Street was not a stop on any tour (he does give quite a bit of history why Joyce chose that address in Ulysses) and now Quilligan explains more:

The Bailey was part of the Brown Thomas department store building, which was bough by Marks and Spencer in 1994. The pub and landmark restaurant were closed and quickly gutted, prompting a controversy about where to put the door of 7 Eccles Street, the fictional home of Leopold Bloom (the door had been part of the foyer of the Bailey). Thankfully, the door found a new home at the James Joyce Centre on North Great Georges Street, where it enhance the excellent permanent exhibition that transferred there from the National Library.

We didn’t get to the Joyce Centre on Great Georges. #sadface. I also failed to find the statue of Joyce that was supposed to be on one of the main boulevards, according to the map. I was riding the bus, camera ready and failed to spot it, I guess.

What’s NOT so good: That feeling of wanting to turn around and go back to Dublin immediately because I read this on the plane ride back to America. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Must go back, all there is to it. I follow some cool Twitter pages for promoting Dublin and I just yesterday saw a place I want to go visit that isn’t in this book and now I’m wondering just how big is that town?!

Highly recommended you read this prior to your trip and also enjoy the actual Pub Crawl when you get there.  The Crawl is lively and informative with song and ditties and opportunities to taste a beverage or two; but gives only just a little slice of what can be discovered with this book.

RATING: Four slices of pie; Guinness Beef Pie or and even a Guinness Chocolate Cherry Pie? No pie mentioned (or I missed it?)

 

 

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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.

James Joyce’s Odyssey

Thoughts  by Frank Delaney, Paladin Grafton Books 1987, 191 pages

Challenge: I traveled to Dublin for Spring Break! I brought this along…
Genre: Nonfiction/Literary Analysis/Travel
Type/Source: Tradeback/Sent from a friend

MOTIVATION for READING: Let’s back up to when I first had this book in my hands. It was January 2011 when I signed up for the “Jousting with Joyce” readalong. I never finished Ulysses and I have no record of what page/episode I stopped on.

So anyway, dear friend Jeanne sent me THIS book out of the blue back in 2011 and I have been treasuring it ever since, thinking “Some day, I will conquer Ulysses“. Rather, I was able to make a trip to Dublin happen instead.

Now I am even more eager to read it (Ulysses), to be honest.

Portrait of the Author as an Old Man; from Bailey’s Pub, remodeled.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Delaney chats with obvious affection for Joyce and his tale of Ulysses. He organizes his ‘Odyssey’ by the same structure as Joyce does in Ulysses and walks the reader through the story and what it might mean, then and now. This not a step by step walking tour of Dublin. It’s subtle – and it is also 30 years old so many things have changed from 1904 (year the book is set) and 1922 (year Ulysses was published) and 1987.

FYI, Ulysses follows two characters, Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus – not always together, on walkabout through Dublin, basically. Joyce has stated that his book is a blueprint with which to rebuild Dublin if need be. Ready?

A sample of Delany’s words with Joyce’s:
Sandymount Strand, ineluctable as sin, sweeps wide and grey and beige, stippled with gulls and aeroplanes and lighthouses and ships and lone Dedalus-walkers. “Signature of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack the nearing tide, that rusty book.” Most of the thoughts in Stephen’s mind as he walked along Sandymount Strand were triggered by that ineluctable modality of the visible.

So for the ‘now’ of 2017,  many signs and plaques identify Joyce’s locations and landmarks — these are not mentioned in Delaney’s book. Perhaps a map of these IS published by the James Joyce museum which I did not visit. I really let my wanderings and Joyce connections happen rather than seek them out. It was a vacation with the Husband who though sympathetic and/or amused, he did not share my enthusiasm. “He indulged me occasionally” would be the best way to put it. So, it was happenstance and sudden delights, when I found a Joyce marker.

Book pages with little (useless!) map and photos with backdrop of similar photo from a blog post…

WHAT’s GOOD: Photos from turn of the century (late 1800s – early 1900s and some 1987.) Opportunity to consider how Dublin has changed in 30 years and 100+. But the best of the book is the author’s delight in talking about and sharing anecdotes and explanations of what Joyce was attempting with Ulysses.

Another paragraph of Delaney praise for what Joyce attempted in Ulysses:
“The Oxen of the Sun episode is the most difficult to read in Ulysses. All Joyce’s linguistic interests are on exhibition and he gives a foretaste of what was to come in Finnegans Wake. That it exhausted him is certain: in several communications with friends, he referred to “the Oxen of the bloody, bleeding Sun” and he admitted freely that the control of all the ideas, the mathematical nine-part divisions, the embryonic development and the endless parodies were almost as much as he could master. He managed brilliantly.

What’s NOT so good:  Of course, I wanted better maps… LOL.

I failed this book as I do most travel books. Tedious to look at when I can’t relate, and too late for visits once I can. I admit, one of our favorite pub visits was to Bruxelles because it was around during Joyce times and is in a photo of Delaney’s book. I didn’t get any pics of our Guinness nor Irish Whiskey while there, unfortunately.

As typical, I now flip through Delaney’s guide and only want to go back to Dublin and see it all again, find the past anew.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I am more willing to attack Ulysses some day. I do feel that it will require patience and a light touch – not taking it too seriously.

“Joyce said once, not without sadness, to Nora: “The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book, or worse, they may take it in some serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one serious single line in it.”

I am keeping this book as a guide when I do tackle Ulysses because of the same structure and the explanations, motivations, and landmarks in words.

RATING:  3 slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

Other Resources:  Schmoop / Frank Delaney’s Podcasts

 

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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.