Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

Thoughts  by Jordan Sonnenblick, Brilliance Audio 2011 (orig 2004), 4 hours 31 minutes

Narrated by Joel Johnstone – great job!

Genre: YA/Middle School Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: It was short.

MOTIVATION for READING: I don’t often remember by motivations, I sometimes just read things, buy books, let the mood and whim drive me. That said, I do know that I bought this purely because it had PIE in the title. Audible sent me an email specifically targeting my pie obsession and I didn’t think twice. Probably didn’t think once.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: When I hit play on my phone to start this audiobook, I didn’t have one clue what it was about. I didn’t know it was kid lit. I only expected drums, girls and pie. Sure, I suppose I could have guessed that a book with this title could be about a teen boy who plays the drums and chases girl. Shrug. I didn’t really think about it at all. I just hit PLAY.

And what I found out was that Steven is in a middle school jazz band and he is a very good drummer. He is infatuated with the prettiest girl in class and has a girl best friend that he really doesn’t treat very well. We (yes, I just switched to the plural all of us, ‘we’) learn that Steven has an annoying little kid brother named Jeffrey, age 5,  who — of course — knows just how to annoy his big brother, whom he idolizes, of course.

Then we find out that Jeffrey has leukemia.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kick in the gut good. Heartfelt and compassionate. And it’s FUNNY! Yes, there is humor.

What’s NOT so good: As a teacher, I found myself getting very emotional to those suggestive thoughts that we never quite know how to help our students and don’t often know what hard things they are dealing with. This hit close to home for me. I feel like I didn’t do enough for my students this year and I also don’t know what I could have done but there is always ‘never enough’. This isn’t a complaint or criticism of the book but I actually wish I had listened to it before May. I don’t have time to fix any of the never enough cases I want to attempt to help with. Prayers will have to do at this point in the school year.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you are a middle school teacher or any teacher who appreciates a funny and loving book that has teacher-student interactions, I recommend.

As a goodreads friend reviewed, “Very very sweet. And it’s even a cancer book.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. (The dangerous pie isn’t edible.)

“… and what of the classic apple pie?”

 

 

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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.
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The Hate U Give

Thoughts  by Angie Thomas, Balzer + Bray 2017,  464 pages + 11 hours 40 minutes

Narrated by Bahni Turpin – excellent.

Genre: YA
Type/Source: eBook and Audio / Amazon
 Why I read this now: It’s a hot book right now!

MOTIVATION for READING:  This story is getting lots of praise and I wanted to get in on that.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Starr is a sixteen year old black girl who lives in a depressed area of a big city and attends a prep school in a predominantly white area. One night after a party, Starr is given a ride home by young black male friend and he is pulled over by the cops. He is shot and killed; Starr has to navigate this event up close and personal. Her cultures clash, her identity is fractured; she is scared and angry.

WHAT’s GOOD:  Thomas decided to give the world this gift of fiction, a story, in response to and an exploration of the Black Lives Matter movement. It isn’t a story specifically addressing the movement, rather a situation that stresses the realities and the complications that many blacks face in our country. Where to live, where to go to school, how to navigate threats to body and soul?

“We have a sustained problem in America,” Thomas said. “When officers take off that uniform they’re no longer a ‘blue life’ – I can’t take my black skin off. I wanted this book to explain why we say those three words.”

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I thought it extremely well done on so many levels – a gripping read, a sympathetic character, believable and complicated supporting cast members, a forceful not-unreasonable emotional tone, great pacing. It offers humor, some punches to the gut, a candid look at humanity.

“Pac said Thug Life stood for “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. T-H-U-G-L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?” – Angie Thomas

– Link to article explaining the Tupac quote that gives this book its title.

RATING:  Four slices of pizza pie with lots of extra crushed red pepper and parmesan cheese.

 

 

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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.

Summer of My German Soldier

Thoughts  by Bette Greene, Puffin Modern Classics 1973, 230 pages

Challenge: Neighborhood Book Club
Genre: Middle School Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover / Library

MOTIVATION for READING: Our club usually allows hosts to choose the book we read. Rarely are we offered a vote: this was the sole book suggested and thus the book we read. (Which I’m fine with, not saying I don’t like how we pick books. I’ve actually never been in a club that selects an entire year’s slate… Always “as we go.”)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A 12 year old Jewish girl harbors a German POW during WWII.

WHAT’s GOOD/NOT so GOOD:  Apparently, it was a big hit years ago as a middle school read. I don’t know if it is still taught in schools but I thought the main character’s innocence wouldn’t hold up for current 12 yo’s interpretation. But I could be wrong. I found her naïve and annoying. But maybe that’s just me.

She’s smart but she can’t figure out how to shut up. But maybe that’s a good thing for a girl to not learn. We do often learn to shut up and take it and this book is a good reminder of why so many girls do: survival. She had some excellent cheerleaders in her corner so let’s hope she grew up to be a strong take-no-shit woman who lived life on her own terms. Her childhood sucked.

Just being in the same room with you, Mother, is like being feast for a thousand starving insects.

At first, I read too many reviews and was creeped out by the romance idea of a young girl with a 22 year old man. This is a friendship and not more. If I hadn’t been warned about ‘the kiss’, I might have missed it. I “thought too much” rather than read for enjoyment. As the story progressed (I admit I skipped around for the first third), I began to enjoy myself more.

It seems to me that a man who is incapable of humor is capable of cruelty.  

Cruelty is after all, cruelty, and the difference between the two men may have more to do with their degrees of power than their degrees of cruelty.

Trying to calculate different degrees of cruelty is a lot like trying to calculate the different degrees of death.

This is not a happy tale and for a coming of age, I’m not sure how much Patty wised up but I will assume she makes it out. I really do not want to read the sequel. I probably would have loved this book as a kid.

I can’t figure out how her grandparents were so lovely but her parents were despicable people…

Someone else wondered in a goodreads review, how Patty was treated for the first 5 years of her life before her adored perfect angel sister came along. Good question.

When people’s emotions are involved they don’t want to listen.

Tonight is book club, we’ll see what the discussion brings. Shall I take notes and report back? I think I shall!

RATING: Three slices of lemon meringue pie.

After we had eaten out hamburgers and French fried and drunk down our coffee, Mr. Grimes waved to the waitress, “What kind of pie you got?”

She gave her hair, which was the color of brown wrapping paper, a good scratching. “We’re all out of apple.” Nodding in the direction of the counter, she said, “Gave that feller the last piece. “

“What kind have you got left?” asked Mr. Grimes, not bothering to keep the irritation out of his voice.

“‘Bout the only thing I know we got is some sugar doughnuts left over from the morning and some lemon meringue pie.”

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

We Love You, Charlie Freeman

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

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

MOTIVATION for READING: Reading all the TOB Shortlist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RATING: Three slices of pie. MUD pie!

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

 

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

 

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Eleanor and Park

Thoughts eapbyrr by Rainbow Rowell, St.Martin’s Press 2013, 335 pages

Genre: YA
Type/Source: ebook/Kindle
 Why I read this now: Needed some lighter fare.

MOTIVATION for READING: Everyone seems to be singing the praises of Rainbow Rowell and I had to find out why.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A big redheaded girl wearing a style all her own enters the bus for the first day of school and no one will offer the spot next to them. She has nowhere to sit and the tension on the bus is agonizing. It is especially upsetting to Park, a kid who prefers not to have any attention directed his way but he also can’t stand to see anyone else humiliated, either. He gives up his half of the bench and allows her to share. They start a slow to build reluctant friendship, then a hot deep passionate love. It’s beautiful, really.

WHAT’s GOOD: Park is a dreamboat. Eleanor is complicated and her life is even more complicated. The way their relationship blossoms is very endearing.

What’s NOT so good: Oh… What can I say. I loved this but didn’t fall as head over heels as Park does for Eleanor. It was sweet. It was tragic. It was a lovely heart-breaking heart-soaring (can a heart soar? yes, I think so.) read. I liked it. Actually, having lived in Omaha, I both loved the setting references and was annoyed that I didn’t really get a sense of place til they went downtown and that is for a number of reasons:  I’ve been gone a long time and I didn’t get much knowledge of the poor areas of town when I lived there. My privilege shows.

And I couldn’t relate to many of the music and comic references. Shrug. So I wasn’t the best target audience for this; it’s still a great read.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This really captures that heightened tingling agonizing first-love sensations. Hats off to Rowell – obviously she is a writer of skill when it comes to making a reader FEEL something. (The following song, however, is not really like the book, other than the title. This song makes me cry every time.This book might make you cry.)

RATING: Three slices of pie. Pumpkin pie!

Risalamande is rice pudding.

“It’s a traditional Danish Christmas dessert, Eleanor thought. My grandmother made it, and her grandmother made it, and it’s better than pumpkin pie. It’s special.”

 

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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.

Honey Baby Sweetheart

Thoughts hbsbydc by Deb Caletti, Simon Pulse 2005 (orig 2004), 308 pages

Genre:  Young adult fiction
Type/Source: Tradeback / unknown
 Why I read this now: Wanted something lighter

MOTIVATION for READING:  I cannot recall where I got this book but it might have been – no couldn’t have been – BEA? oh well. Somebody gave it to me. I thought by title it would be a lighter beach-read kind of read but the National Award Finalist sticker on the cover made me wonder.

(Interesting, this is tagged as from the Book Blogger Convention so I did get it in 2010 in NYC! Whadday know)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I don’t remember. Really! How SAD is that!?! It read it only 10 days ago.

WHAT’s GOOD:  I am sitting here trying to rush through this review post so I can feel like I’m accomplishing things today – I have much to do and can’t decide what to start first. Bad bad Care…

Oh. OK, it’s coming back to me. (Call me lazy, too, because I could go downstairs and fetch the book! But NOoooOOOooooo, I just want to get this done. Sigh.)

We have a young girl who is a “good girl” and knows the best way to survive high school is to keep your head down and do not ever call attention to yourself. But then she meets a “bad boy” and she falls. Hard. She has no control over herself to listen to the warnings in her head that this dude is trouble.

What’s NOT so good:  And so that is what annoyed me so. Though, I do get it! I do know we (I) often hear those warnings in our (my) head NOT to do something but this was big stuff not “don’t eat that cookie” – this was “aiding and abetting a criminal is risky!!!!” Luckily, she has a good support system to pull her through. 

Hmmmph.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It didn’t bowl me over. The book is readable. The main character likable. I have no complaints other than it really didn’t move me. 

RATING: Three slices of apple tart.

Pie! The only pie reference was a tee shirt that said “QT PIE” and the apple tart. Close enough.

 

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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.

Remember Me?

Thoughts rmbysk by Sophie Kinsella, Dial Press 2008, 389 pages

Challenge:  Not applicable.
Genre: British Young Adult Chick Lit?  (why must I put a question mark?)
Type/Source: Tradeback/my cousin-in-law gave it to me
 Why I read this now: Needed something FUN

MOTIVATION for READING: I do love the cover. It is such a happy book cover! The premise is fascinating, too. What WOULD it be like to lose memory of the last few years of your life?  (In my case, I would wonder how did I end up in North Carolina and why are the politicians raising a ruckus about who can pee in the restrooms?! Seriously. THAT is what they are needing to be focused on?! What are they REALLY trying to get away with while we aren’t looking?)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A  young lady who hasn’t even worked at her present job a year has a bad night – boyfriend is a no-show, she missed out on a bonus and her dad died! She slips in the rain hailing a taxi but wakes up 3 years later, apparently having hit her head in a car crash. She wrecked her Mercedes. But-however… she doesn’t recall having a Mercedes (how could she afford a Mercedes?!) and doesn’t even know how to drive! She has no memory of the last 3 years:  her new role as Director of her department at work, her thinner body and fixed teeth — nor of her rich gorgeous husband. WHAT HAS HAPPENED?! 

WHAT’s GOOD: The mystery is total and convincing. The transformation from loser grunt employee to gorgeous corporate bee-atch and wife to glamorous husband and lifestyle confounds the reader as well as the protagonist.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Actually, I was not so convinced she (author) could pull it off – no one can totally transform themselves from grunt to diva in three years, can they?  but it was a fun ride and the Kinsella convinced me enough to award this a

RATING: of four slices of mince pie!

fourpie

“I have to leave, before I start buying jumbo packs of mince pies and Bing Crosby CDs and wondering if The Wizard of Oz* will be on.”

This is my first Kinsella read. I have been warned that this is one of her least successful so I might have to read something else now! Of course, her most famous book is the Confessions of a Shopaholic, but Twenties Girl or Can You Keep a Secret? has been suggested as best.

 

 

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* Do the Brits watch Wizard of Oz at Christmas!?

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 Wrath and the Dawn

Thoughts twatdabyra by Renee Ahdieh, Listening Library 2015, 10’38”

Narrator: Ariana Delawari

for #Diversiverse divers15

What’s it ABOUT: A very vivid and imaginative, dramatic and romantic retelling of the A Thousand and One Nights tale. And as much as I wish I knew more about that, I don’t think it matters. It was as sweeping and enticing a tale – all the way through.

I would recommend this for fans of Daughter of Smoke and Bone — [I had originally mentioned Eyes Like Stars here but upon re-reading this a few days later I see my error. But then, maybe not. If you loved BOTH DoSaB and ELS, then you will likely enjoy TWatD, ok?] In other words, I sense this would be well-received by enthusiastic fans of YA. Which is quite appropriate.

We have one tough young lady who schemes a crazy idea to get very close to a bad guy and UH OH!!! – feels a connection with the monster. There’s love and passion and drama and sword fighting and beautiful horses and friendship and family and not knowing WHOM to trust!!!

I enjoyed listening to this but I might not continue with the series because… I’m just rarely a series kind of reader. But I really do think this would be a great one if you love YA, love series, and love action and love.

Rating: Four slices of pie. Although, no pie references were given, let’s go with FIG PIE cuz  I really like fig pie.

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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.

Final Thoughts — Flowers for Algernon #MayFFA

Thoughts ffabydk Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, Bantam Books 1968 (orig 1959), 216

algernon

So much for trying not to be SPOILED and thus it was ruined anyway. This would be the BEST book to have been warned thoroughly about what it IS about. (Maybe? Jenny could/should have sent me an all-caps email that said PLEASE YOU MUST READ THE ENDING FIRST! YOU WILL THANK ME.) This is NOT one to be in the dark for. Now, you want a totally-blind know-nothing-read then go try Life After Life by Kate Atkinson or We Were Liars by E.Lockhart. These two should definitely be books to go in COLD.

But NOT Flowers!

This is a cautionary tale of how an incorrect misleading spoiler (or just an untruth!) was misunderstood and how my over-imagination caused much confusion.

It’s just too hard to have classics be totally spoiler-free and over-hyped. I shouldn’t try. It also did not help that I had this confused with Harrison’s Flowers because I seriously SERIOUSLY had thought for many years that it was a war torn love story. And when that bubble burst, I somehow got the impression this TRULY had space aliens!  I thought I accidentally saw a spoiler that the mouse was an intelligent space alien!!! Where I got this, I can no longer ascertain. Apparently, I was hoping for Ralph of The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

So, yea. DISAPPOINTED.

I’m thinking I need to write some fanfic for this book involving mice-driven spaceships and romances ripped apart by the savageness of war.

ncspaceshiphouse  Outer Space or Outer Banks NC House… Supposedly the 2nd most photographed building in North Carolina)

According to Wiki, Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginative content such as futuristic settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, time travel, faster than light travel, parallel universes and extraterrestrial life.  Come on, Care, you are SMARTER than to assume all SciFi is aliens and outer space. IKR!?  Well, this did not feel like science fiction. Perhaps because it was based in the past? I’m so out of my league when discussing the SF genre, right? Just because I’ve read Neuromancer and Snow Crash and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, I *think* have a grasp on this slippery genre?! Go ahead, banish me from the club. I deserve it. I wish I hadn’t known that it won the Hugo award nor the Nebula Award. Pretty cool that it won, but I wish I didn’t know it.

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OK, then. What is this about? It’s about how a science/medical team attempted to ‘fix’ a low IQ in order to make a human being smarter but they all failed to grasp the consequences on an emotional level. Sometimes, I thought this was expressed well and was quite nuanced in the telling. Other times, I was annoyed at Charlie and often thought he was rude and disrespectful, to women especially; but I have to realize that he learned too much, too fast and the whole point was that he didn’t have the gradual maturing to navigate and understand relationships. Life is complicated… yes, it’s extremely complicated. The story IS sad.

Please read Bellezza’s review, and/or Athira’s Halfway Post.

Two or three slices of pie depending on how I feel when you ask me. I don’t recall any pie mentions.

BIG THANK YOU to ATHIRA and TRISH for reading & tweeting along with me!

freprosys

Sickness Quotient: 76% — Your “Sickness Quotient” of 76% indicates therapy may be useful.
Detailed Diagnosis

  • Interpersonal Insights: Your sense of self-entitlement means you’re probably the kind of person that pulled the wings off of butterflies when you were little. You think everyone is out to get you, and you’re absolutely right. It’s because you’re an awful person without any redeeming qualities.
  • Job Performance & Attitude: Your work is of so little value they should just put a shredder in place of your Out basket You frequently mention terms like “core competencies” and “paradigm shifts” while at work. Stop acting like such a tool.
  • Personality Insight: Your personal motto is “Every day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.” You must not have been saying this for very long.

ouch.

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.