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:

tbfinchi

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.

fourpie

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.

Readalong of State of Wonder #StateOfWonder #JIAM

READALONG TIME!  I have been missing the fun of virtually reading a book together.  A big happy shout out to Friday Friend Debbie — my partner in crime this time.

Also, June is Audiobook Month so …  #JIAM

sowbyap

Genre:  Thriller?  Science-y?  Contemporary Literature?
Type/Source: I will be enjoying the Audiobook narrated by Hope Davis
 Why I read this now:  Because I needed a new audiobook and I loved Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage…

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Blurb from goodreads.

…a provocative novel of morality and miracles, science and sacrifice set in the Amazon rainforest–a gripping adventure story and a profound look at the difficult choices we make in the name of discovery and love.

In a narrative replete with poison arrows, devouring snakes, scientific miracles, and spiritual transformations, State of Wonder presents a world of stunning surprise and danger, rich in emotional resonance and moral complexity.

As Dr. Marina Singh embarks upon an uncertain odyssey into the insect-infested Amazon, she will be forced to surrender herself to the lush but forbidding world that awaits within the jungle. Charged with finding her former mentor Dr. Annick Swenson, a researcher who has disappeared while working on a valuable new drug, she will have to confront her own memories of tragedy and sacrifice as she journeys into the unforgiving heart of darkness. Stirring and luminous, State of Wonder is a world unto itself, where unlikely beauty stands beside unimaginable loss beneath the rain forest’s jeweled canopy…

How does a READALONG work?  Mostly via Twitter (and likely Litsy and IG), I will be quoting bits and my reactions to stuff. All extremely informal. Take the month of  June. No timeline other than that. Use hashtag:  #StateOfWonder

Or comment here or write your own post. You can even write down on paper and mail to me if you would like. I love to write letters…

Take note of any PIE mentions, please. pierating

 

 

 

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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 Bean Trees

Thoughts tbtbybk by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperPaperbacks 1998 (orig 1988), 312 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name 9 wian2016
Genre: Young Adult
Type/Source: Mass Market Paperback / unknown
 Why I read this now: I wanted a small book to take on my travels.

MOTIVATION for READING: This book was on the 2014 list of recommended summer reading for the high school I subbed for in Massachusetts.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young girl who yearns to escape her confining small town in Kentucky takes off for grand adventures. The least of which is NOT that she is handed a baby somewhere in Oklahoma on her way to who-knows-where; so she just mosies on down the road with little thought about it whatsoever… Seriously, the more I reflect on her nonchalance about being just handed a baby and her taking off with zero thought or consideration of consequence exasperates me.

For a much more detailed synopsis and thoughtful review, read this by BooksPlease blog.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kingsolver is not without writing talent. She can probably write anything and make it believable. I really did enjoy the main character and many of the good-hearted people she has the fortune to meet on her journey.

What’s NOT so good: Keeping in mind that this is set in the 80’s – and likely the early 80s, it is just odd/difficult to think that the not-so-distant past really IS that far away and yet so relatable. Pay phones, cars that won’t start unless you pop the clutch, walking into a job at a hospital and handling blood on day one. Really?! It was discombobulating. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Kingsolver is also not shy about cleverly ranting about immigration policies and she skillfully grounds the story in the history of the time. The theme was all about creating your own family and being kind.

If I had known that the bean trees were really a reference to Wisteria, I probably would have read it sooner.

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RATING: Three slices of pie.

“The night before, she’d listened to the forecast and picked a mop bucket full of hard little marbles off the tomato vines, and this morning she had green-tomato pies baking upstairs. I know this sounds like something you’d no more want to eat than a mud-and-Junebug pie some kid would whip up, but it honestly smelled delicious.”

IMG_4777(This is a fried green tomato pimento cheese pie with a chocolate cream pie chaser.)

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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 Sympathizer

Thoughts tsbyvtn by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Audible Audio 2015, 13 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by François Chau – excellent!

Challenge: for my personal challenge to read as many of the Rooster short list as possible.
Genre: Pulitzer Prize Winner!  (though this is a recent distinction – very exciting!)
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Stars aligned, I guess. I do believe that the Rooster commentary mentions this as a good audio so when it was time for me to use a credit, this is what got selected.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The fictionalized first-person account of a North Vietnamese communist spy who works for the South Vietnamese military, trained by the CIA, educated in America, son of a French priest and his South Vietnamese housekeeper? or paramour? (I forget; both?) at the time of the Fall of Saigon and after. It is set in Vietnam, America/California and has a brief interlude in the Philippines.

WHAT’s GOOD:  It is historical fiction with all the cool things that push my buttons – lush descriptions, witty repertoire, cutting insights into human nature, philosophy, action and thrilling suspense, conflict of conscience, love of sorts and falling in love or not, HISTORY, etc. I really wouldn’t call myself a spy-novel reader but I thought this quite fascinating.

What’s NOT so good: At times, I wonder if it had all the stereotypical elements a spy novel should have but I haven’t read very many and maybe a spy-novel is supposed to. Truly, I didn’t know what to expect but this delivers well on things I like in a story. ON THE OTHER HAND, I thought at times that it was too long and needed to get on with but I’m sure that was my mood and what was going on in ‘real life’ conflicting with time and interest to keep invested. But I pushed through and ended up liking the book overall.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is often stated to be satire and of course, I can only recognize this from being told and not really of my own recognition. But I find that I am a big fan of satire even when I don’t quite get it. 

I am thrilled that this won the Pulitzer for Fiction 2016 only because 1) I just read it (validation?), 2) I somehow have unknowingly embarked on a Personal Pulitzer Challenge, and 3) the surprise and timing made it fun.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Pie actually was mentioned a lot – there is an entire sequence about eating humble pie that because in audio, I will either have to go hunt or skip…

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 Painted Veil

Thoughts tpvbywsm The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, Vintage 2011 (orig 1925), 280 pages

Genre: Classic, Fiction
Occasion: Spontaneous Buddy Read with Andi of Estella’s Revenge

AndiandCare

Source: eBook purchased from Amazon for my Kindle
 Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016 – Article of Clothing category

MOTIVATION for READING: wian2016 and the Classics Club

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Kitty is an upper class twit who must get married because her little sister is engaged. So she chooses Walter who happens to be the only guy still interested in her; (though we never quite figure that out. Or at least, I didn’t and I don’t think Walter did either.) Walter is a bacteriologist and is assigned to Hong Kong, so Kitty and Walter get quicky-married, honeymoon in Italy then off to the other side of the world from England. Kitty doesn’t love Walter, obviously, and has little to no moral compass so she is easily seduced by the hot powerful and charming Charley. But Walter finds out and offers a few options which result in a most interesting scenario:  Walter volunteers to be the doctor for a village with a cholera outbreak and Kitty has NO choice but to go along.  Is it a spoiler to say that Charley is the only one who escapes with no consequence? I do end up liking Kitty and I always ‘got’ Walter’s sense of humor. Is this a tragedy? It ain’t no comedy.

But SO GOOD! I also called it a philosophical travelogue…

WHAT’s GOOD: Most everything is good about this. The writing is great, the characters are fascinating, it has wit and lots of emotional pokes, beautiful scenery, and a story arc that is paced well and offers surprises. Maugham has keen insight into human behavior – good and bad.

I love books that set off more exploring on my part. Other story references (“The dog it was that died.” – YOWZA!) and lots of French (ugh). My vocabulary was increased by this:

Tiffin – a light meal, especially lunch.

What’s NOT so good: This is a solid 4 and 1/2 slice of pie kind of book. I have been waffling about giving this a 5 slice but will not due to my wanting to be extra stingy on that this year. I want glowing heaps-of-heart-bursts for my 5 stars and while this is a contender for such, I am not bouncing around the room with passionate hugs and kisses for it and the only thing I can say why that is, might be because it was short. Which could be a whole ‘nother topic on why the chunksters end up getting the passion and I think it is because we get to spend so much more time immersed in chunksters. Whatever.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you enjoy books that offer romance and anti-romance, this is an excellent choice. If you like climate and cultural variety in your readings and settings in a time a bygone era away, this is an excellent choice.

DO read this enjoyable insightful and not-boring! academic review I found.

I had been feeling poorly this week with a sort throat and achy-ness and yet for some silly reason, I couldn’t commit to watching the movie while huddled and cuddled on the couch under blankets with nap-master puppies at my feet. I watched The Reader with Kate Winslet instead…

RATING: 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.

Radio Shangri-La

Thoughts rslbyln1 by Lisa Napoli, Crown Publishers 2010, 279 pages

SUBTITLE: What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

For the What’s in a Name Challenge – Country category

I am having a tough time thinking up what to write. Especially when I agree wholeheartedly with Nancy’s review from 2011.  If you don’t want to click over, she says this:

” Lacking in adventure but fascinating for its analysis of the people and the time, at times uneven but overall a decent memoir.”

Yes. I agree.

I read the very same book that Nancy read! Because she is the generous booklover who gave it to me. And I am willing to send YOU this book if you want to read it, too. Just be the first to request and I will email you for your mailing address and will eventually send it off. Eventually.

It looks like this:  rslbyln2

Also, it’s an ARC. It does have a few misspellings or typos and it got very VERY confusing with what I must assume were name swappings. She would be yapping about Sebastian and then refer to him as Benjamin. And Ngawang would be Pema and then back to Ngawang…  Just sayin’.

One more fun thing…  The author mentions a term familiar to all who loved Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. Here’s the quote, do you know the word?

“The only not-so-smooth part of the plan came from my father, who couldn’t quite grok the adventure I was about to have.”

All righty, then. Carry on.

RATING:  Three slices of pie. (No pie mentions in this one.)

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.