The 2017 Attempt to Complete The Back to the Classics Challenge

Back to the Classics 2017 – click the button below for our host Karen’s rules for the Challenge:

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The categories for the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge: My choices in RED but if this goes like last year, I won’t read any of my original selections! eeek.

1.  A 19th century classic – any book published between 1800 and 1899. Probably a Trolloppe. or a Hardy.

2.  A 20th century classic – any book published between 1900 and 1967. Rabbit, Run

3.  A classic by a woman author. Cold Comfort Farm or Orlando

4.  A classic in translation. The Three Muskateers or Love in a Fallen City

5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category. Candide!!

6.  A romance classic. Jude the Obscure?

7.  A Gothic or horror classic. Jane Eyre.

8.  A classic with a number in the title. One Fine Day 

9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title. The Bird’s Nest

10. A classic set in a place you’d like to visit. Love in a Cold Climate (whatever/whereever – will likely be English…)

11. An award-winning classic. ??? Will look at the Pulitzer list. Perhaps The Voice at the Back Door by Elizabeth Spencer. Uh, NOPE. Is listed on that page but I didn’t realize the award was NOT given that year. So maybe The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau, 1965.

12. A Russian classic. Memories by Teffi, as suggested by Ruthiella. Or Dead Souls by Gogol?

Happy Challenge-Reading!

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

Mr. Splitfoot

Thoughts msfbysh by Samantha Hunt, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016, 336 pages

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Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Contemporary Lit? Not horror, as some have suggested.
Type/Source: eBook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: Only book not yet read on my eReader that is also on the TOB Long List.

MOTIVATION for READING: I downloaded this waaaaay back when. When Julianne of Outlandish Lit had her weird book reading adventure and then the book had a daily deal, I think. I do not usually pay the big bucks for eBooks… I will pay anything to read a Hardcover, it seems.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Cora is an adult and not feeling too ambitious about it all but she loves her mother. Her mother was a foster kid that got out and survived to be a decent mother herself despite not having a good example to follow. We don’t get much of Mom nor Grandma’s stories but we get enough.

So, Cora gets herself in a predicament and her Aunt Ruth, mom’s sister, comes to take her on a little trip, a walking trip. Call this a ROAD TRIP book. We have mistreated foster kids, religious cults, mothers and daughters, attempts at ‘adulting’, talking to the dead, con men, meteorites and Carl Sagan, odd music references that I still want to look up and just might but I’m at work and don’t judge me that I can write book reviews while at work but they don’t have much work-work to give me and I feel I’m doing academic work here in bookbloggerland, couldn’t you agree? I just can’t, however, play videos and listen to tunes. Must be aware

WHAT’s GOOD: I really liked this and though I only gave it 4 slices on goodreads I can only blame that on my rating ability going haywire in December. This book was so much more than I expected and dare I say it was sweet? It had tender moments.

What’s NOT so good: I’m really not sure – it could be that I missed it – but I never quite figured out the title…  I don’t ‘get’ the cover art, either. Maybe I’ll have to reread it. Maybe I should do the audiobook. I bet this would be an awesome audiobook – can anyone testify?

FINAL THOUGHTS: It has humor and light among the dark and gritty. I really liked it. The ending brings it all together AND surprises.

RATING:  Four slices of apple pie with extra whipped cream.

p.301 “…you’re feeling bad about serving your wife up to me like a tasty piece of pie, but that doesn’t mean you can just give her my money.”

I hope this makes the TOB! I will be cheering for it.

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

The Queen of the Night

Thoughts tqotnbyac by Alexander Chee, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2016, 561 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Historical Fiction
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: I wasn’t sure I would be able to tackle AND finish by the end of the year, BUT I DID IT! And annoyed my family by having my nose in the book for most of Dec 30 and 31 trying to finish. I DID IT!

MOTIVATION for READING: I am thinking this was highly tauted by Liberty of Litsy and Book Riot fame.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Orphan girl from Minnesota in mid 1800s tries to get herself back to the old country (Switzerland) to find her mother’s family. She ends up singing and being all Annie Oakley on a horse for a circus in Paris, escapes to become a prostitute (not her plan), escapes that into a convent, gets a job attending to the Empress of France, escapes that into a German singing ‘camp’ (hey – you’ll just have to read it), eventually becoming a Diva Opera Star. Go figure. It’s madness and mayhem; obsessions and dastardly deeds!  Good fun if you can roll with it. Eye-rolling strain if you can’t.

WHAT’s GOOD: It really was an interesting look at a time in France that I’m no expert on. If you love Opera, you’ll get plenty.

What’s NOT so good: Here’s a sentence:  “Here was the return of what I had lost, the loss of which had driven me mad, and now his return threatened to drive me just as mad.” Melodrama much?

One might get the impression that Alexander Chee would be one helluva fun guy to hang out with, share a few cocktails.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m glad to have read this and I can actually say I enjoyed it but it won’t be a favorite of the year. Remember, guys and gals, a three star means that I liked it. (I really need to temper my rating enthusiasms and reserve those 5-slicers for the truly over the top gushings of love and joy.)

“It had gotten loose somehow, or the writer had died, it didn’t matter – and no one had shot it for yet for steaks and pies.”

RATING: Three slices of pie. The sentence above refers to a horse. I don’t think you really want me to give this a horse pie rating, though, right?

“It is not love that drives us mad, but all the rest of life around the love.”

 

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

The Unseen World

Thoughts tuwbylm by Liz Moore, WWNorton & Co. 2016, 451 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardback / Indie Bookstore
 Why I read this now: (shrug)

MOTIVATION for READING: I adored the author’s book Heft.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: I have typed and deleted, typed again and backspaced it all gone. Am going to provide the blurb on goodreads because I do not feel adequately up to the task.

Or… Shall I try as if I’m having a conversation  — maybe I should do an interview for this one?

**** SPOILERS ****

A young girl has been brought up by her eccentric and brilliant father, a director of a science lab in Boston. When he starts exhibiting signs that his brain is unwell (alzheimers), our protag, Ada, is worried but the ask for help will only bring on even scarier scenarios, so she does nothing, until it is too late.

INTERJECTING HERE – if you know you are on a decline, please please take care of business and have those extremely uncomfortable chats with those you love!
END OF SERMON

SO, dear ol’ Dad disappears on a Friday and Ada has to take refuge and start the process of admitting Dad is unwell. Did I already use that word — unwell — ugh. Yes, you see it, right? The cops are called, the state looks into why this child is not in school, yada yada yada,

going to school sucks when you are too smart for adults and ‘school’, and

WAIT!  Dad really isn’t who he has claimed to be all these years!  WHAT?!  Well, who IS he?

Why is he somebody else?

Goodness gracious. Dad dies, Ada doesn’t get closure, Dad actually did leave a clever puzzle for Ada that she finally figures out YEARS later, but she actually figured most of it out way back because she uses her smarts . . .

Blah blah blah,

Well.
………End of story; book ends.

Did I promise the ‘blurb’? Yep, I did. Here’s what goodreads says:

Ada Sibelius is raised by David, her brilliant, eccentric, socially inept single father, who directs a computer science lab in 1980s-era Boston. Home-schooled, Ada accompanies David to work every day; by twelve, she is a painfully shy prodigy. The lab begins to gain acclaim at the same time that David’s mysterious history comes into question. When his mind begins to falter, leaving Ada virtually an orphan, she is taken in by one of David’s colleagues. Soon after she embarks on a mission to uncover her father’s secrets: a process that carries her from childhood to adulthood. What Ada discovers on her journey into a virtual universe will keep the reader riveted until The Unseen World’s heart-stopping, fascinating conclusion.

WHAT’s GOOD:  OH. Hands clasped at heart... I bought in! I loved ADA! I yearned and ached with Ada! 

What’s NOT so good: It just fizzles. This book starts great and then dilemma and tense situations and then mystery! Then. . ., well, things get sorted out, explained, and drawn out and it just fizzles out or something. The ending falls flat.

There was no heart-stopping fascinating conclusion! or it was slowly calmly buried at the 3/4 mark.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I really was disappointed. Not enough to kill it on rating because I loved most of it and I’m an uncritical, more ‘feeling’ kind of reviewer and I’m sure I could read all sorts of insightful reviews that outline exactly the problems with the plot construction and the ending, but what would that gain me except to tell me how not very smart I am? so RASPBERRIES.

Maybe I was expecting too much. Oh that delightful deceiving imp — the god of expectations!

There are some lovely technology bits that fascinate and I must connect to the fun coinkydinks with All the Birds in the Sky. “Smart computers”… (Isn’t there a word for computers that are as smart as humans? something besides Artificial Intelligence. I was thinking it was prescient but the definition doesn’t feel right.)

When you read so many books fast, have you noticed that there can often be found strands or sentences that link them one after the other? Oh yes, I have had quite a few linking thoughts (but sadly fail to take findable notes! Grrrr)

RATING: Still giving it 4 slices of BANANA PIE and will read whatever Liz writes next.

 

 

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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.

Homegoing

Thoughts hgbyyg by Yaa Gyasi, Knopf 2016, 305 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List, Diversity
Genre: ?? Contemporary Lit + Historical Perspective?
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now: Library told me it was ready.

MOTIVATION for READING: I love the premise for this and knowing it is winning a ton of praise and accolades, well – sign me up.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Two sisters, born in Africa in the 18th century are separated and actually never knew of the other’s existence. One is sent to the US to be a slave, the other fights for survival ‘at home’ and gives legacy in Africa. The story is told by alternating sister line and generation.

WHAT’s GOOD:  POWERFUL. Characters are engaging and compelling, showing strength and weaknesses. Individuals each, doing the best they can with circumstances and the weight of fate and prophecy.

What’s NOT so good: I really enjoyed all of it.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The dialogue captured me throughout. I think the author did really well in this regard. The imagination! the RESEARCH. yowza. And able to construct a timeline of experiences and hit on so many relevant issues so topical was extraordinary.

It is a book that I’ve been recommending as fascinating and appealing to many.

RATING: Four slices of pie but maybe should be five, or at least/most with lots and lots of real cream whipped on top.

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I do not think I encountered any 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.

Another Brooklyn

Thoughts abbyjw by Jacqueline Woodson, 177 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List, Diversity
Genre: Contemporary Lit (have you noticed I put most books in this genre?)
Type/Source: Hardback / Library
 Why I read this now:  Put it on hold at the library – it came in.

MOTIVATION for READING: Have been wanting to read some JW for some time now.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s a slice of time and place book. Did it have a plot? It must have? I am only remembering how similar it was to me of James McBride’s Color of Water – though to be perfectly honest (impossible) I do not think I thought of that book while I was reading this book. Just came to me now.

WHAT’s GOOD: I gave this five stars on goodreads. Probably just that euphoria of being out of school, on holiday break, reading like oxygen. All the books I devoured were so damn tasty! I just like a book that feels solid and real and having that comfort that the author is capable and more.

Great QUOTE: “One day, my body would tell the world stories beneath the fabric of my clothes.”

What’s NOT so good: Doozy! oh what to write here?

. . .  crickets . . .

FINAL THOUGHTS: Love me a short book, love me a book that creates a real portrait of time and place – that transports me and is still not too long and fussy. This is just really really good. It was like a Polaroid snapshot of a different reality, true but fiction. Fiction by true.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Bean pie. Muslim Bean Pie. I cannot wait to try and will be selecting this as my next pie to create. Maybe for Jan 23 Pie Day.

To read a good article about bean pie, follow the link from this sentence. . .

“No one can say pi is wrong.”

 

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

The Mothers

Thoughts tmbybb by Brit Bennett, Riverhead Books 2016, 278 pages

Challenge: TOB Long List
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Hardback, purchased at indie bookstore
 Why I read this now: Book Club Selection

MOTIVATION for READING:  This book has received a lot of attention.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A high school senior dates the pastor’s son after her mother’s suicide. Stuff happens, she makes a friend, she eventually goes out of state to college, and the friend becomes more than friends with that pastor’s son. All of this to a chorus of the little old church ladies.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s about how to handle death and ambition. How to make bad assumptions and bad choices, set bad attitudes, forgive and forget. Do we ever know the true story? There is a low hum of melancholy through the whole thing. One thing I did admire was that it didn’t cater to stereotypes nor make it feel like anyone was an exception, either. Just life and crap that can happen and how humans just do and deal, that we all have our cross to bear.

What’s NOT so good: I read this last month and am having trouble remembering my reactions. I think it a wonderful debut by an author with real writing talent. I don’t recall what if anything I didn’t like so not sure what to write in this section.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Lots about motherhood. I cried and didn’t expect to. The book has many pie references, including a scene that more than just mentions pie but almost pivotal to the plot. A solid 4 slicer. I gave it a 5 on goodreads but I might be tempering now that I have some time and other books since read.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie, sweet potato pie, lemon meringue.

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“Mother Agnes, rail thin, had made the apple pie, its lattices straight and ruler made.”

“The pie had angered Luke the most. A lunch may have just been a meal, but splitting dessert was intimate.”

 

 

 

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

The Little Red Chairs

Thoughts tlrcbyeob by Edna O’Brien, Hatchett Audio 2016, 9 hours 40 minutes

Narrated by Juliet Stevenson.

Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016, furniture category
Genre: Contemporary lit
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: I picked this one when looking for a TOB Long List audiobook and needed a furniture title for my WiaN challenge.

MOTIVATION for READING: Juliet Stevenson! TOB Long List! have always wanted to read an Edna O’Brien.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A war criminal attempts to escape his past and possible conviction as a war criminal for his treachery in the Bosnian-Serbian Conflict War and ‘hides’ in a small Irish town. He slowly and with charm, sells his services as a healer. A woman who yearns for a child but has suffered miscarriages becomes a client. I won’t say more.

WHAT’s GOOD: It is a global book, a questioning story. So many questions.

What’s NOT so good: Those red chairs… Symbols of our humanity or lack thereof? Too many characters – I got lost and wondered why some were there. Also, not Juliet’s best narrations but she is still one of the greats. I found her American accent flawed but it is only a quick conversation, a super minor character. And just mentioning this feels like I’m diminishing the whole tale and it is a sad one. Of course, reading the goodreads reviews, I see the range of ratings and I must say the one-star reviews are insightful and not ones I disagree with. I was moved and compelled – like watching a train wreck but worse because it is based on true war horrors probably. Don’t feel bad about skipping this. I really do want to read another by this author.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Brutal. On goodreads, I wrote:

This book just makes me want to crawl into the fetal position and sob. I don’t know what to rate it.

RATING:  fourpie

 

Ch 11 “… and the cheese straws, the pies and trifles she had left on the stairs for him to find…”

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

The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff

Readalong Announcement:  The Bone Clocks

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The lovely Melissa of Avid Reader’s Musings and I are hosting a readalong of The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell.

Join us and tweet/Instagram/Litsy and/or where ever you want to share it with hashtag #BoneClocks17.

We’re going to take our time and have two months to devote or leisurely stroll through this story. It is a January/February readalong and the more the merrier. Mitchell’s books often invite discussion (and dare I say, introspection and perplexity begging to be shared?!)

 

 

 

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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.

What’s in a Name 2016 Wrap Up and 2017 Set Up

wian2016   Done √

  • Category A COUNTRY – Radio Shangri La: What I Learned in Bhutan by Lisa Napoli
  • Category ITEM of CLOTHING – The Painted Veil by WS Maugham
  • Category ITEM of FURNITURE – The Little Red Chairs by Edna O’Brien
  • Category PROFESSION – The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta
  • Category MONTH of the YEAR – March by Geraldine Brooks
  • Category TITLE with word TREE – The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

This crazy challenge had me reading multiple books for almost all of the categories. I do love this one and I love reading books already on my shelves.

Announcing  wian2017

  • A number in numbers (84, Charing Cross Road; 12 Years A Slave; 31 Dream Street)
  • A building (The Old Curiosity Shop; I Capture The Castle; House Of Shadows; The Invisible Library; Jamaica Inn)
  • A title which has an ‘X’ somewhere in it (The Girl Next Door; The Running Vixen)
  • A compass direction (North and South; Guardians Of The West; The Shadow In The North; NW)
  • An item/items of cutlery (The Subtle Knife; Our Spoons Came From Woolworths)
  • A title in which at least two words share the same first letter – alliteration! (The Great Gatsby; The Luminous Life Of Lilly Aphrodite; Gone Girl; The Cuckoo’s Calling)

FUN! I will not have time to find titles in the house but will the first week in January…

[Updated now that I’ve looked at my shelves…]

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Uh oh, the number thing. Does this mean that numbers spelled out DO NOT work?! crap. If that is the case, then I have no books on my shelves for this category. I am keen on reading The Three Musketeers – perhaps there is an edition somewhere with a 3? I also do not have any titles with an X – though, I do have a few author names with an X (hello Alex Dumas and Maxine Hong Kingston.) The alliteration category could possibly be satisfied by Maxine’s The Woman Warrior, a memoir called Going Gray or a story by Elizabeth Kelly called Apologize, Apologize! The title The Widow of the South will work for the compass direction and for the building category, I seem to have ample books with HOUSE in the title. I really want to read Home this year by Marilynne Robinson so that is my top choice but I think I might also like the Berg book – it’s short anyway. I have no books featuring cutlery.

So now, I get to look for any TOB Long List books that might fit or any classics 50 books I’ve committed to. I will also take suggestions!

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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.