Empty Mansions

Thoughts by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell Jr, Ballantine Books 2013, 459 pages

Challenge:  for an online Facebook book club,  (but it might have been canceled – I can’t find it on our upcoming events)
Genre: Nonfiction, “Lives of the Rich & Famous”
Type/Source: Hardcover, don’t recall where I got it (free/borrow shelf at the apt complex, perhaps)
 Why I read this now:  Nonfiction November

MOTIVATION for READING: I do have a little bit obsession with the turn of the century mansions…

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Huguette lived a very long life as the youngest daughter of a very very rich American tycoon. Her last few decades, she had hidden herself away.

THOUGHTS: I thought this book would make me mad – about spoiled rich people and their eccentricities and the descendants who greedily crave access. But that is too simple. Mostly this made me sad. That she probably would have died 20 years or more earlier by wasting away in her apartment alone before finally seeking medical care. That she truly did enrich those she cared for deeply and many gratefully considered her a friend and benefactor. That I do not doubt at all that those who did manage to access her space and thoughts took advantage of her but glad that she was also a shrewd manager of her self and projects.

I will always wonder about her marriage! Yikes. But very cool that she remained friends with her ex over the subsequent decades.

I have soft spot in my heart for her because she was a Gemini and was fond of my favorite art gallery in DC:  The Corcoran. May she rest in peace.

The full title is Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

 

 

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.

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

The Club Dumas

Thoughts by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, Phoenix Books 2009 (orig 1993), 6 hours 2 minutes

Translated from Spanish by Sonia Soto, Narrated by David Warner

Challenge: none
Genre: Literary Thriller
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now:  A friend recommended at just the right time.

MOTIVATION for READING:  As I explained right above this, I have a friend – one of those amazing friends who has that crazy skill to make everything you say or do to be acknowledged as just the right thing. Too good for my ego?! She’s one of those people who is uplifting to be around and talk with. So when she asked if I had read this one, I paid attention and almost immediately raced its place up my tbr to number one spot. Yea, I think I did do just that when I realized, “hey, I am not listening to an audiobook right now and I need to be listening to an audiobook and the ones I got, aren’t inspiring me.”  Into my ears, it went.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A mercenary book dealer is hired to find authenticity on a few rare manuscripts and discovers that the two tasks are related. Along the way, he meets interesting characters that resemble characters in famous stories – and are even named as famous characters in celebrated tales and behave likewise! One intertwined story line is about a chapter in Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. The other book is a possible survivor of a trio of banned books that commune with the devil. Maybe Dumas communed with the Devil?

Our protagonist is named Lucas Corso. Our narrator also tends to break the third veil [upon researching if I had this right, I did not. It’s the THIRD WALL] or whatever it is called when the narrator talks to the reader.  [I could totally be misremembering.*] Corso meets one character who remains an enigma still.**

THOUGHTS: It was good. It was fun! It’s a literary literary thriller!! There are terrific quotes to start each chapter. There are music interludes for the audio version. I just found out while prepping this post that the book is on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. LOVE when this happens without me orchestrating it.

THANKS S.O’N!

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned. I rarely catch or note if I do, when pie is mentioned in an audiobook. There might have been a tart…

I would be very pleased if Audible and Goodreads would collab and capture notes...

pierating

*  Footnote #1 – It was an audiobook. I am usually yelling at Esther to stop eating acorns or goose poop or I am getting interrupted by my free walking app that tells me when I’m at half-mile + time per mile + calories burned. SHUT UP ALREADY. (I’ve since turned her off since she talks over my audiobooks. No more. Bitch.)

**   Footnote #2 – I had first thought that ‘the girl’ aka Irene Adler (ahem) was Corso’s daughter. I think we (readers) are supposed to imagine she is The Devil.

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.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors

Thoughts by Kawai Strong Washburn, MCD 2020, 376 pages

Challenge: Known entry for TOB 2021 due to winning Summer Camp 2020
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Hawaiian Lit
Type/Source: Hard Cover, Library 14 Day
 Why I read this now:  It’s time was now. Inspired by the TOB.

MOTIVATION for READING: TOB. For some reason, I don’t seem to find the motivation or timing to participate in Summer Camps. I want to!  But the cards just don’t get dealt that way. I find that my reading has seasons and this just isn’t my kind of summer reading weather. But I’m glad to get a jump on it while we await the long list. Where IS that by the way? [Wrote this but hadn’t yet pub’d; which reminded me when TOB did send it out finally that this post was likely ready, too. So, HERE WE ARE. The long list!] My goodreads 2021-Rooster list is here

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Family. Legends. Destiny. The middle child is favored – favored by the gods, favored by mom and dad. The family struggles financially while encouraging all the gifts of skill and intelligence within the children. Unfortunately, all carry these burdens as too-much-burden, trapped in comparisons and never articulated, explored, brought to light but left to fester in the dark. Success and the subsequent trappings, wrapped up in ‘a ticket OUT’ betray the rewards of excelling on merits and opportunities. So. much. heartache and misunderstanding and allowing the aggravations and frustrations to get the better of them!

I yearned for Dean the eldest and he got lost, missed a step and couldn’t get his mojo back, he misunderstood what his mojo really was? Or did he find it… And baby sister had such a bright future!  She was so freaking smart and kicking ass as an engineering student in college — but youth and distractions and the tilt-a-whirl of that youth, the constant obsessing “is this love? what IS this” kept getting in the way. The middle kid? Just fate or bad luck – such pain. So much pain.

Noa might be the main character but he was the star that they all rotated around and never quite connected to.

Yet, I felt for them all and tried to understand. The magical realism was an illusion just beyond reach. But love was there. Love couldn’t quite overcome but love was there and the ending offers hope.

THOUGHTS: Did I enjoy this or was I moved by, caught up in? the hope that love would win?

RATING: Five slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

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.

Classics Club Spin Nov 2020 #ccspin #MyCCSPINList

Time for another Spin! – I love these so much. It’s one of the reasons I joined the Classics Club in the first place.

Click the image above to go to the announcement post.

“Before Sunday 22nd November 2020, create a post that lists twenty books  that remain “to be read” on your Classics Club list.”

This is my Spin List:

1 The Postman Always Rings Twice – JM Cain
2 Twelve Years a Slave – Solomon Northup
3 Confederacy of Dunces – JKToole
4 the Counterfeiters – A. Gide
5 Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City
6 A Few Green Leaves – B. Pym
7 Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep – PK Dick
8 Under the Greenwood Tree – Hardy
9 The Big Sleep – Raymond Chandler
10 At the Mountains of Madness – Lovecraft
11 The Three Musketeers – Alex Dumas
12 Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
13 Gravity’s Rainbow – Thomas Pynchon
14 Steppenwolf – Hesse
15 Death Comes for the Archbishop – W.Cather
16 Rabbit, Run – Updike
17 All Passion Spent – Vita Sackville West
18 The Way We Live Now – Trollope
19 The King Must Die – Mary Renault
20 Jude the Obscure – Hardy

Here’s hoping all of these are immediately available at the library and that the spin  number result is a few-page-count title!  Please.  GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

pieratingsml

Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Deacon King Kong

Thoughts by James McBride, Riverhead Books 2020, 370 pages

Challenge: Possible long/short listed for Tournament of Books 2021?
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hard Cover, purchased from Scuppernong’s in GSO NC
 Why I read this now:  It’s time was now. Inspired by the TOB.

MOTIVATION for READING: New release from a favorite author. Getting good reviews. A possible TOB selection. Lots of reasons

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  What is a Deacon? Who is Deacon “King Kong”? Does everyone get a nickname?

The protagonist actually has the nickname “Sportcoat”. He is a deacon at his church in the projects of NYC. He drinks. A lot. He shuffles through his days and is quite committed to his responsibilities and is well-loved by his community. The year is 1969.

But one day, he takes his handgun and shots the main drug dealer in his neighborhood. Shoots the kid’s ear off! However, he has no recollection of doing this, almost immediately after the fact. He loves this kid! This kid has an amazing pitching arm, has the talent to make it in the Bigs and is wasting his life.

This event sets off so many little chains of events, pulling together all the characters impacted, weaving the past with the possible future, and resulting in a sweet story full of humanity, heartache, love and overcoming.

THOUGHTS: I loved it. I loved all the characters. I loved the little love stories and explorations of dreams contrasted with hard reality. The humor is endearing, the sass and grit is inspiring, and the piecing together of the puzzle is fun. Sure, there are some middling issues of how a few things are handled – like the cheese!?  But it is significant in its own fun way so just get over it…

Loved the matriarch of the church! Love the pastor’s wife. Of course!

RATING: Five slices of pie. And PIE is in the story a few times, too, which is always a plus in my book. (Noticing the porkpie hat on the cover, yes?)

“The top seller in the Brooklyn mosque number 34 sales division, having sold the most bean pies and newspapers and that mosque’s storied history. He was also wanted in Kansas for false imprisonment related to a domestic squabble and robbery, but that, he is assured the group, was a long story.”*

Miss Four Pie = “She had four hot blueberry pies in her oven first day I come on the job that whole house was stinking of blueberries.”

“He only knew that every Christmas since his guys pulled that lady out of the water, the church coloreds had dropped off two sweet potato pies and a cooked chicken outside his railroad boxcar. Why couldn’t more people get along that way?”

“Pie-eyed and feeling addled and murky…”

*Could this be a hint as to McBride’s next book?!

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.

It’s Been a Month

Status. I’m still here.

TOB Super Rooster ended last week; here is the championship round that crowned A Mercy by Toni Morrison over last March’s champ.

A fun and interesting and occasionally dramatic TOB, of course. As they always are.

pieratingsml

I’m reading Deacon King Kong by James McBride and have Sharks in the Time of Saviors on deck. Sharks is from the library.

I moved last month. Sold the boat in August. Still working current job, just remote.

 

pieratingsml

I read (attempted) 5 books in October. A reread of The Sellout for TOB, audiobook freebie Convenience Store Woman (translated from Japanese), How to Say Anything to Anyone (biz book; feedback), Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe (lots of pie!), and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (DNF, classic, audiobook).

Favorite is probably Convenience Store Woman. Gots to get my reading mojo back.

pieratingsml

Anyone reading for Nonfiction November?  I have a few I could read…  maybe I’ll get to Radium Girls finally. Or Empty Mansions but I bet that will only piss me off. I need a fun uplifting NF, methinks?

We have Thanksgiving Pie to look forward to!  We have the Tournament of Books long list announcement coming up!  Be well, friends, be well. Stay positive, fight the good fights, keep walking.

 

Copyright © 2007-2020. Care’s Online Book Club aka Care’s Books and Pie. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club aka BkClubCare.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A Gentleman in Moscow

Thoughts by Amor Towles,  Penguin Books 2016, 462 pages

Challenge: Theta Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Historical Fiction?
Type/Source: Tradeback; purchased?  I don’t recall how I got this.
 Why I read this now:  Selected Book for October’s Discussion

MOTIVATION for READING: Book Club!

“To what end, he wondered, had the Divine created the stars in heaven to fill a man with feelings of inspiration one day and insignificance the next?”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Count Rostov, a member of Russian aristocracy, is designated a Non-Person, placed under house-arrest in 1928 and mostly forgotten by the Bolshevik powers that be. He adapts quite well to the decades and makes a new family of everyone he connects with.

“There’s a difference between being resigned to a situation and reconciled to it.”

THOUGHTS: One of my favorite things to do is to read reviews that vary from my personal reaction. Most reviews LOVE this story. However, a few readers found it ‘twee’. This word dismays me. I don’t quite have a definition set solid for what TWEE means. (Kind of like ska* music. I have NO IDEA.) If this was twee, it was smarter and more sharp-humor than I think of when something is called that descriptor. That could be my snobbery; Twee things aren’t smart, right?

I liked this story. I was caught up in how the Count was “making the best of it”. I was quite touched that he was all-in immediately to the surprise request of taking care of an 8  year old girl, “Sure, why not?” No protests, only a tiny touch of self-doubt or misunderstanding of what he (and the entire hotel staff, of course) was about to hide and handle.

And of course, she became a lovely accomplished young woman.

But what actually happens at the end? I’m not sure…

“The surest sign of wisdom is cheerfulness.? – Montaigne

I learned a lot or was given new things to think about on the history of Russia that was playing out on the streets outside of the hotel. It felt surreal, as do times now, actually. Is what is really going on in the US really happening?! How can the two sides’ perspective, the violence the anger the ‘fake news’ the accusations, be REAL?!  Ugh, it is frightening and I wonder if we will survive to see the historical perspective on it in 20 years time.

RATING:  I gave this 5 slices of pie. Because it was well written, I enjoyed it, I needed just this right now.

“I love your funny alphabet and those little pastries stuffed with meat.”

pierating

 

* Ska is unique because it really emphasizes the offbeats of the guitar; combines Jamaican drum sounds and jazz beats…

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.

The Haunting of Hill House

Thoughts by Shirley Jackson, Blackstone Audio 2010 (orig 1959), 7 hour 36 minutes

Bernadette Dunne (Narrator)

“It was a house without kindness, never meant to be lived in, not a fit place for people or for love or for hope.”

Challenge: Readers in Peril XV
Genre: Doesn’t Shirley Jackson have her own genre?
Type/Source: Audio
 Why I read this now:  Only a coincidence that my reading this happened to be during RIP, to be honest. I needed an audiobook, this one was available. I’ve always wanted to read it. Because Shirley.F.Jackson.

MOTIVATION for READING: See sentence above.

“Don’t do it, Eleanor told the little girl; insist on your cup of stars; once they have trapped you into being like everyone else you will never see your cup of stars again; don’t do it; and the little girl glanced at her, and smiled a little subtle, dimpling, wholly comprehending smile, and shook her head stubbornly at the glass. Brave girl, Eleanor thought; wise, brave girl.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A professor attempting to find a big breakthrough for his research and to make his place in Academia, invites many possible apprentices to join him in a stay at a house of ill (horror) repute. Only a few take him up on it.

But they are ALL IN, Baby!

THOUGHTS: So, I’ve maybe seen the movie? maybe PIECEs of the movie? I seem to know enough about that movie with (Liam Neeson, Lili Taylor, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Owen Wilson) but not quite the same. Same enough! Minor creative differences, is all.

The house is actually COOL, in its off kilter slightly not-square way. And the buildup is great. The guy who built the place was obviously way off his rocker and nothing is explained.

Only survived…

“I like apple pie with sour cream.”

I enjoyed the telling, I enjoyed the descriptions and the sense of place – extremely well done. I did see Lili as Eleanor and I could see CZJ as Theo, too. Liam Neeson will never be the professor. Yes, Jackson is a master – so good. Not really that scary in print, methinks. I may never watch the movie again nor the miniseries recently. I’m just NOT a scary movie person.

RATING:  Four slices of pie.

 

 

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.

I’ve Hit My Yearly Reading Goal! Already?!

Well. Lookie here. I completed a goal with 3 months remaining in my year. Huh.

What do I do now?!   YES!  We go for it – we attempt to read 25 more books in the next 91 days. Who’s with me?  What 25 things can you do in 91 days? (Insert bright big smile emoji here.)

While we’re here, let’s look at the book I just finished to complete my goal.

Audiobook by Wallace Stegner, Blackstone Audio 2010 (orig 1976), 7 hours 51 minutes

Narrated by Edward Herrman

Rating: FIVE slices of pie.

I want to talk about this book. But I don’t know how. I loved it. Old irascible cantankerous ponderous old Joe. Actually he isn’t any of those words.

Such sadness, some regrets, some true dedicated endearing enduring love.

I guess this book just stirs up the ol’ vocabulary. I loved it.

and WOWZA! I think this would be a really cool book club book!  I do. Cuz it’s got some zinging wild stuff. Lots of good stuff, lots of OMG stuff.

Did I realize Mr. Herrman was reading this book? Nope. (huh) and it was OK. It really is a good thing I didn’t realize until I was already a few hours in. He did a fabulous job, of course. (I could NOT listen to him read The Boys in the Boat for some reason! I was so totally distracted on that…)

And with this, Stegner moves into a lofty spot in my top tier of favorite authors. He inspires me to read more Kent Haruf and to get back to my Marilynne Robinson. And Tracy Kidder. I have a few more of his books to read before I’ve read everything.

Next up, either a post on A Gentleman in Moscow, one on The Haunting of Hill House or one big September Summary.

My last pie was making the Rhode Island Coffee Milk Pie again.  YUM.

**** My attempt to learn the new (cough, cough HATED) WordPress block editor to link this recipe as a page.

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.

Tender is the Night

Thoughts by F.Scott Fitzgerald, 1934, 356 pages

Challenge:  Classics Club Spin
Genre: Classic
Type/Source: ebook, library
 Why I read this now:  SPIN!   

MOTIVATION for READING: I had read somewhere that this was his best work. I may have read that wrong. Could be it is still a topic of debate.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  LOTS going on in this book and to be honest, I didn’t give it my full attention (which might mean that I actually failed to finish. Shame on me! I am still counting it as read…)

Dick Diver is married. He and his wife make a lovely much-admired couple and live in an amazingly glamorous spot on the French Riviera leading a glamorous life. But really, he is a psychoanalyst married to a former patient (named Nicole, who seems perfectly lovely in the first half) and is now attracted (the Dick dude) to a cute young glamorous up&coming actress who throws herself at him. But really, I didn’t get much farther than that. I love that history shocks me – that WHAT?!          WHY young ladies don’t throw themselves at happily married men they meet on the beach AND admire the wives and yet still throw themselves at the husband anyway AND TELL THEIR OWN MOTHER?!  in the late 1920s?!  did they? Do they?

I would have never. (Told my mother.)

I put the book down and ten days later when I had the time and mindspace to jump back in, I found out that it was a 14 day library ebook loan and I FAILED. Oooops. It expired.

So I spent a few hours watching YouTube BookTube videos and caught myself up on the plot of what I missed.

Dick and Nicole’s marriage implodes. He does end up sleeping with the young actress apparently but the book takes a turn and shares how Dick and Nicole met in the first place; then Nicole sleeps with a friend, — apparently, they talk it out “LIKE ADULTS” (whatever that might mean) and it ends ambiguously with Dick being an alcoholic and Nicole hopefully have her HEA. I heard it had an ambiguous ending.

OK, maybe I kept zoning out on the less than 10 minute BookTube reviews. Sue me.

THOUGHTS: This book does seem to have CARE PIE written ALL OVER IT! But no, nope. I just didn’t quite get into that must-finish-keep-reading-it’s-past-my-bedtime-don’t-care state which I was wanting.

Should I have audiobooked it?!

oH yEA.  I will watch the movie. Hopefully sooner than later. Casting looks suspect in my distant future viewpoint yet the pretties and the settings look like it just might deliver.  Jason Robards, Jennifer Jones, Joan Fontaine?! and Jill St John. Adapted to the 1960s and made in 1962. Sign. me. up.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.

 

 

 

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.