Category Archives: Young Adult

A Tale for the Time Being

Thoughts by Ruth Ozeki, Viking 2013, 433 pages

Challenge: TOB Favorites

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit / Time Travel

Type/Source: eBook / Library -Kindle

What It’s About: A fascinating story that interweaves across time and distance and offers up a few mind-benders and reality-suspension moments. A writer named Ruth, experiencing a lack of motivation in her current project, finds a package washed up on the beach of her remote Pacific Canadian island. Inside is a journal, a watch and a collection of letters written in French. I think the language is English essentially, but culturally Japanese ; the journal-ist is a young Japanese girl suffering from a tumultuous change in her standard of living and location. Her father lost his silicon-valley job in California and uprooted Nao to Japan – a foreign world to her. She writes as if she knows the reader, addresses her directly, tells her all about her life, her horrid school and the bullies there and also her great-grandmother, a 104 yo Buddhist nun. Ruth is the reader and takes on the challenge of being Nao’s friend. Across time, across the ocean, across practicality.

For the time being, Words scatter . . . Are they fallen leaves?

Thoughts: It’s a wonder it works. I’m sure for many, it doesn’t; but for me it does. There’s word play, dream movement, thoughts on the precarious nature of our world and the environment. There’s history, there’s violence, brutal brutal violence, and yet there is zen, and hopeful hope. I just adored Jika! I wasn’t so sure about Ruth, but she is going through her own growth spurt through doubt with Nao so it made sense to me. Oliver is a treat.

I keep thinking about this story. I think it will be one of those I remember and think about and grow more fond of as time goes on.

“She wasn’t crying. They were just the memories, leaking out.”

Rating: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. (French pastry, however…)

To grasp this truly, every being that exists in the entire world is linked together as moments in time, and at the same time they exist as individual moments of time. Because all moments are the time being, they are your time being.

—D gen Zenji, Uji

 

Up is down. Down is up.

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Resisters

Thoughts by Gish Jen, Knopf 2021 (orig 2020), 305 pages

Challenge: TOB

Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Dystopia, Baseball, YA?

Type/Source: Tradeback/Indie bookstore

What It’s About: A former college professor and his public aid attorney wife have a baby girl who turns out is a baseball prodigy. They live on ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in this dystopian former United States that have separated people into two groups of have and have not: the “Netted” and the “Surplus”; the land-dwellers and the swamp or boat people.

The narrator is the father, a tinkerer and baseball coach – not because he knows and loves baseball, but to nurture the gifts that his daughter obviously has and wants to develop. His lawyer wife takes on cases against the government proving that actions of the ‘system’ are detrimental to the Surplus population and violation of “FREEDOM”. The Surplus freedom is limited, let’s say. They are constantly under surveillance, receive no educational opportunities, yet are expected to be grateful because they get housing and free food. But is the food tainted?

Daughter grows up, is recruited to join the Netted’s baseball team, is just about as perfect and lovable and talented as she can be – and I loved it!

Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I think it was the tone; rather upbeat for a family that is abused more than most for their efforts to “fight the man”. I loved the family dynamic. I loved Grant’s mother’s little pithy sayings. (Grant is the father/narrator), I loved Gwen being so badass and trusting and nice and still a badass. Her mother, too. She was all business yet had a big heart.

I’ve read that some thought this heavy-handed and the characters flat. But I loved it. Very readable, laugh out loud funny sometimes, drama and excitement – especially if you love baseball. Also, I do want to say, that I think the reader who is not a fan of sports could still find much to enjoy in this. I also want to suggest that if you are a reader who sees words, then the audiobook may not be your best avenue. I needed to SEE the words; Ondi and Auntie sound too much alike and the portmanteau words that describe much of “AutoAmerica” (Automatic America) just didn’t register until I saw the letters.

Rating: Five slices of pie. OH! This book has pie!!! LOTS of pie. I hope Instagrammer Pie and Book Phenom @PieLadyBooks reads this one because I would love to see what she would create.

But later she said that she pictured Eleanor sitting at that big table with the apple pie untouched in front of her, and everything came together.”

and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??

Copyright © 2007-2021. Care’s Books and Pie also known as and originally created as Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

We Ride Upon Sticks

Thoughts by Quan Barry, Random House Audio 2020, 14 hours 44 minutes

Narrated by Isabel Keating

Challenge: Possible TOB Long List to Short (Gamble)
Genre: YA
Type/Source: Audiobook/Library
 Why I read this now:  Available at Library 

MOTIVATION for READING: Tournament of Books 2021 Hopeful

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A Girls HS Field Hockey Team who make a pact with the darkside in order to win State. This takes place and draws heavily on the Salem Witch Trials history.

THOUGHTS: This was a fun listen. Humor was delightful and I was often chortling or laughing or exclaiming, “oh my!” Good stuff.

However, it was a bit too long. I was invested but ready for it to be done.

The poetry collection I opened when almost finished with this audiobook references the Salem Witch Trials. [The Thin Wall by Martha Rhodes]

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

Pie actually had a few mentions – a mother of a team member enters a pie in the county fair, is one.

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2020. 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.

Dark Rooms

Thoughts

3328CC7B-EF2C-4939-82A2-351E6525B4AF by Lili Anolik, Wm Morrow 2015, 323 pages

Review in six words:  sisters, murder, siblings, whodunit, bad parenting

Free flow ramblings:  Grace is the older sister to a cooler more wild, more world-wise Nica who shows up dead by gunshot. Setting is a boarding school so of course, we get class issues, drug use, promiscuity, all of it. Nica is sleeping with everyone, it seems, so we wonder who ISN’t a suspect? But the school and the police conveniently find a suicide with confession note. Gracie isn’t buying it. A few of the situations she gets herself into are almost ridiculous but we buy it because kids are confusing and confused and doubts are huge; motivation-exploration and self-awareness are numbed by drugs and avoidance even as she keeps placing herself into conversations and confrontations to solve her sister’s murder. All is solved in the end and those plot turns and twists are just a part of the ride.

I don’t “get” the title… oh wait! I do!! Ha, ok, took me way waaaay too long, but Mom is a photographer. I guess that’s the connection. Mom is a real peach if you like fiction with icky mother-daughter storylines.

Rating: three slices of pie.

 

 

 

pieratingsml

 

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.

Allegedly

Thoughts   by Tiffany Jackson, Katherine Teagen 2017, 400 pages

Challenge: 
Genre: YA
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: (sorry, I don’t remember what prompted me to buy this nor why I read it now.)

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Our protag is a young girl living in a group home; she has been serving a sentence for murder since she was 8.  Allegedly she killed a baby that her mother was babysitting. She has been mute most of the time since arrest-conviction-sentencing but is starting to remember what happened that night. To complicate matters, she has acquired a boyfriend and finds herself pregnant. She wants to keep this baby AND go to college but without a kind and caring support system and considering her situation, neither is likely.

WHAT’s GOOD: The pacing and suspense is crazy! The wondering the second-guessing, the horror of the justice system in this case is mind-blowing. And there is a question of trust. Is this poor girl a true unfortunate case of drawing every bad deal? Or …

What’s NOT so good: The ending. It was not a satisfactory ending.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This book wore me out. Not for the faint at heart. It has received a lot of praise and it also has a few critics for that ending. Do your own research.

RATING: Three stars.

 

 

pierating

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 End of Eddy

Thoughts  by Édouard Louis, Brilliance Audio 2017, 4 hours 24 minutes

Translated by Michael Lucey, Narrated by Graham Halstead

Challenge: Tournament of Books 2018
Genre: Coming of Age, LGBTQ
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now:  It’s only 4 and 1/2 hours long. 

MOTIVATION for READING: I knew I could get it in by the end of January and have my monthly book reading stats LOOK GOOD.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Eddy is different. He knows it, everyone knows it. Though Eddy’s family does not understand nor  support him, his mother and father *do* love him, in small not-overcoming ways. At times, there was a tenderness. Heartbreaking, really.

WHAT’s GOOD: It is startling and raw. I keep coming back to these two words.

What’s NOT so good: How about a warning that it is not shy about describing EVERYTHING. Not for the faint at heart.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I just feel that it was devoid of story. It is just a recounting of his childhood and all the ways he was demeaned by his family, his community, and himself; until he was able to escape. So it has a hopeful ending, which is nice.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

 

 

pierating

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.

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?”

 

 

pierating

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 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.

 

 

pierating

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.”

 

 

pierating

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.

 

pierating

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.