Crossing to Safety

Thoughts ctsbyws by Wallace Stegner, Modern Library 2002 (orig 1987), 368 pages

Challenge: Personal
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: tradeback, my own library – perhaps from a booksale?
 Why I read this now: A trip! wanted a physical book after all that ebooking.

MOTIVATION for READING: This is slim book and seems on glance to be less than the 368 pages it boasts; I took it along on my travels. I’ve been wanting to get to this ‘sooner than later’ and yet it seems eons ago when I put it on my READ NEXT shelf.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a story of two marriages and the four individuals within the two couples and the long-lasting friendship they were able to maintain. It is quiet, it is powerful, it is almost metaphysical. Admittedly, I’m an idiot in using the word ‘metaphysical’ so I could be wrong. We are only inside one of the character’s head.

WHAT’s GOOD: The insights into human nature, the characters, the travels over time and place – a university setting and “a writer’s life” in the 30s through the wars and beyond.

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms other than WHAT TOOK ME SO LONG?!

FINAL THOUGHTS: I was totally blown away at times but the power of the simple writing. The reader is very aware that this is a skilled capable competent author and never showing off or being experimental. And yet I was often surprised by the originality. So good.

On the other hand, it makes me feel very inadequate. My words, my review, my understanding of what Stegner wanted me to learn from this book or only to appreciate feels like I missed it or just that I have no capacity to share what it was. Even the title, what does it mean? What does it mean that I didn’t even contemplate the meaning until I was reading other reviews of this book? And what does it mean in reference to ‘living a life’ without even delving deeper into ‘living a meaningful life’? Ok, stop already.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Custard pie!

“When you’re nailing a custard pie to the wall, and it starts to wilt, it doesn’t do any good to hammer in more nails.”

 The Inferno boiled with hot life, but the Paradiso was theological meringue.”  p.255

LINKS: Also, must mention a coinky-dink between this book and The Library at Mount Char:  in one scene, it is mentioned that “there’s no decent literature on how to die.” But in Library at Mount Char, this is specifically addressed. Makes me wonder if Scott Hawkins read Stegner… Filed it away. Put it in his book so I could read it and then read this and say, “huh”.

(Teaser – there’s also a link between this and State of Wonder by Ann Patchett; I will address when I review that…)

 

pierating

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 Library at Mount Char

Thoughts tlamcbysh by Scott Hawkins, Crown 2015, 390 pages

Challenge: peer pressure?
Genre: Fantasy
Type/Source: ebook / Kindle
 Why I read this now: Making a concerted effort to read my ebooks.

MOTIVATION for READING: I have so many blogger-buds say this is a wild ride. Had to sign up and see if I liked it, too.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Our main character, Carolyn, is a librarian; but the library where she works is most interesting and actually on a different plane. She is in charge of learning all the worlds’ (world’s or all worlds’? hard to tell) languages while a few of her ‘brothers and sisters’ know everything about war and death and animals and transportation and persuasively getting into people’s heads, etc. They all report to “Father” but he is actually some kind of godlike entity and his library is his store of knowledge. He needed to adopt these kids so he could pass along this knowledge but also keep the power decentralized. Then one day, he goes missing.

WHAT’s GOOD: This is one nutty action-packed funny wild ride, I will agree.

What’s NOT so good:  About half way, when the adrenaline and the WTF’s are flying — while I’m chatting up the book and sharing how awesome it is — and the big WA LA BOOM BOOM! happens…. Then it’s late at night and I have to go to sleep and wake up the next day to finish;  it felt like a balloon with a slow leak. So I suppose I could say the ending but more the lead up to the ending, felt draggy and almost unsatisfactory. Upon reflection a week later, I liked the ending OK.

  I am still wondering if I missed how Carolyn met the military dude. 

FINAL THOUGHTS:  It is a wild and unique ride. It’s violent, a bit of an almost love story — oops, SPOILER!? It has a lot of humor, too.

Other REVIEWS: Shaina’s review has a Q&A with the author which is nice. Heather that Capricious Reader seemed to like it. Michelle gave it a “Hot Damn”. The book cover will link to goodreads.com if you care to explore there. Or click here to get to FyreFly’s Book Blogger Search Engine for this title.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No mention of pie was noted.

 

 

pierating

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 Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving

Thoughts trfocgbyje by Jonathon Evison, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 2012, 290 pages

I went on a tear through my eBooks on my Kindle while on a trip to Rhode Island. Finished 3 books boom boom boom. This is the second (I started immediately after finishing The Baker’s Daughter.)

I was under the impression that a movie of this was due soon but when I checked IMDB.com, I couldn’t find anything. Which makes me wonder what book I was thinking of?! Oh well.

This was a fun road trip book but it had the feeling like I had read it before or  something similar. It had the “familiar” feel to it but I really do not think I had read this. (It happens, I got a third in to Empire Falls when I got that “huh, I think I’ve already read this” feeling and sure enough, pre-blogging and thus no electronic list to verify, I found a book club list and I HAD read it. I went ahead and finished it. It’s good. I’ve seen the movie twice, too.

So. Back to this free form review of this book.

It’s a sad book. We find out slowly, like peeling an onion, what has happened to our protagonist (I’ve forgotten his name). Of course, we do know he is a bit downtrodden right at the beginning when the story has him arriving at an interview for a first job after getting his CNA and barely has enough gas in his car to make it there. He is to care for a teen boy with MD. We know this will be sad.

But is has humor and respect for people no matter what their lot in life and we appreciate how these two guys get along and manage each other and the situation.

Then it becomes a road trip book where we meet more interesting characters with problems of their own and not only does it feel like a buddy movie road trip but a story about how quickly a group can become a family of sorts.

I don’t even remember how it ends now.

Sorry, I realize this review is not saying much but I will finish up and say that I enjoyed it, I laughed and I sniffled with the sorrow. I liked it.

I can say that there are couple of tiny instances of being offended by something that is similar to not liking certain words but I got over it…

Four slices of pie because again – the generosity of liking a book and feeling good about it.  Three and a half rounded up.

fourpie

I don’t have my kindle with me so I can’t check to see if I highlighted any pie mentions…

 

 

 

pierating

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 Baker’s Daughter

Thoughts tbdbysm by Sarah McCoy, Crown 2012, 330 pages

Challenge: none
Genre: WW2 + Contemporary
Type/Source: eBook/Kindle
 Why I read this now: Has been on my Kindle for a long time…

MOTIVATION for READING:  I took my Kindle on a trip so that I would have more options. I wanted something more touchy-feely and not too deep. (Let’s just say the other books I have had the longest on my Kindle are horror and “other”).

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young German girl whose family owns a bakery is being courted by a Nazi officer and finds that she has to make some very tough choices that put her family in danger. On the ‘now’ timeline, we meet a reporter with love & commitment issues who stumbles into a German Bakery in El Paso Texas. The stories unfold and alternate as we realize that the young girl in Germany is now the old lady who runs the Texas bakery.

WHAT’s GOOD: I can’t think of anything negative to say but I’m also having a hard time thinking up any strengths to share. Plenty of characters – but not too many, all rather likable – even the Nazi fiance though he has the biggest secrets. Elsie the baker is wonderful – spunky and courageous. I probably liked the historical parts best, the story of young Elsie and how she managed to survive and end up in Texas. All the elements prove the skill of the author’s story construction.

What’s NOT so good:  There are a lot of issues touched upon that propel the story and don’t weigh it down but overall, not terrifically memorable. I didn’t sob, though I expected to.

I enjoyed the story and have no complaints. I did cry a little. The story ends happy.

fourpie

RATING:  Upon finishing, four slices of American Apple Pie. Now that I’ve written this review, three would be a satisfactory rating. And this stated because not too long ago, I ranted about how I don’t change my ratings! I totally recognize that conditions of timing in the reading experience influence the ‘score’ if you will and it really doesn’t bother me. Because this was a captivating read RIGHT AFTER BOOKS that couldn’t capture my attention; thus the FOUR.

 

 

pierating

Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Readalong of State of Wonder #StateOfWonder #JIAM

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

Also, June is Audiobook Month so …  #JIAM

sowbyap

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

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Blurb from goodreads.

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

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

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

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

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

Take note of any PIE mentions, please. pierating

 

 

 

pierating

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.

Quick Update…

SO, um yea, THANKS! for the great comments and advice and good cheer.

I ended up reading a few more pages of Prologue to Love before admitting, “No, I do NOT like this dude.” and DNF for realz. I’m sad, though.

and Quiet just wasn’t doin’ it for me. Adios!

But I stuck with Hypocrite and let it audio itself all over my day while I packed and prepped for a weekend trip and then today finished it on a walk and a cool down. I really REALLY liked her essay on her visit to Poland and the concentration camps – gut punch. And I do ‘get’ her bit about the wedding industry and how we are all just a bunch of contradictions and it is best to recognize, laugh at and with and keep trying to figure this life stuff out as best we can. I give it three slices of pie and I don’t recall if she mentions pie or not.

AND!  the biggest result of releasing the guilt and pressure to continue books that are not capturing full attention is that I have read 3 eBooks since! A plane ride and insistence/determination to read my Kindle (damn thing, I really DO. NOT. LIKE. this archaic troublesome device thingie – I read as much on my phone and iPad) helped push me through three books that I gave four pie slices to and enjoyed mostly. All were quite different from each other:

tbdbysm trfocgbyje tlamcbysh

The Baker’s Daughter – Alternating timeline of a young German girl at the end of WW2 who marries a Texan. (also, must mention… there are recipes.)

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathon Evison – about a roadtrip of a 19-yo boy with his caregiver on the way from Washington state to Salt Lake City and the troubles each have before and along the way. Heartwarming, sad and humorous all wrapped up together.

The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – uneven but delightfully rompy. Recommended for anyone who likes far out weird crap and strong personalities battling other strong personalities while trying to find heart and soul amidst the chaos. Lots of humor and lots of ass-kicking with questions along the way that have answers that satisfy as best they can. Who doesn’t want to know an Erwin and want him on your team?

Not sure if I will write a post for each but just had to say thanks to the many commenting lovelies on the last post who recommended I MOVE ON ALREADY and so I did.

pierating

Oh. What? You want to know what I am reading/listening to next?  I just opened and read the first few sentences of Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner and I believe I will be listening to State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. Anyone up for a June readalong of that? I’m not sure how much I will be able to listen in the next week so June might be perfect…

 
pierating

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.

Is It Me? Or the Books?

pierating

I don’t know if this is a reading slump or I am just reading three unappealing-to-me books all at the same time?

I suppose I would/should like a couple of these if I was in a better frame of mind or perhaps three books all at the same time of this competition is only making them all unpalatable?

Should I power through or give up and start something else?

Let’s chat, shall we?  and please advise.

The current three:  ptlbytc  qbysc hiapwdbysjg

pierating

Prologue To Love is a paperback printed before I was born. The font is tiny, it has the slightly yellowed brittle paper feel and lovely old book scent. I had to tape the cover back on. There are over 750 pages. I’m told that this is loosely based on the true life story of Hetty Green, once the world’s richest woman – I’ve read a book on her and found it fascinating. One of those tales that reinforces the idea that lots of money can’t buy happiness. HUZZAH!

I’m just too turned off by the father of the main character; he is miserly, judgmental, obsessed with the creation of wealth but abhors the idea of spending ANY of it. (He lets his daughter live in a run down house with no heat nor extra blankets and lousy inadequate quantity of food?) I don’t have enough sympathy for him – I don’t get his quick critical thoughts about why he doesn’t like his nephew nor why he doesn’t like his own daughter and I don’t really care to find out. I’m sorry Bybee!

Prologue To Love! –> I declare you DNF’d.

Quiet just isn’t capturing my attention. I decide to go read, sit in a comfy chair or go out to the lounge area of my lovely backyard, and end up playing with Litsy, IG and Facebook on my phone. I’ll probably carry it around the house and misplace it a few more times before I give up on it. However, I’m thinking the reviews I have read have probably given me enough information on the subject.

Quiet! (With a Chainsaw?) –> Vote is still out…

Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress is supposed to be a funny feminist book guaranteed to entertain. I’m not entertained. I’m bored. Maybe the narrator’s voice just isn’t quite right? No, she’s doing a fabulous job, but like coconut — you like it or you don’t. It’s possible that I’m still too early into it?  So far, it is still her childhood (the current essay is about her obsession with the Rolling Stones when she was 15.) I don’t know; it’s just not working.

Hypocrite! –> Playing in the background but I’m not listening.

The problem with audiobooked essay collections is that you can’t flip and skip around. Can I suggest that audiobook chapters start showing titles? Which bits of this book are the ones I shouldn’t miss? Should I save it for print? Yea, maybe I should get the book from the library and return this to Audible…

pierating

While these three books are jockeying for some love, I am stalled… Release the guilt, release the books back into the wild or back to the shelf, move on.

Ok, NOW what should I read?!

 

 

 

pierating

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.

Go Tell It on the Mountain

Thoughts gtiotmbyjb by James Baldwin, Blackstone Audio 2013 (orig 1953), 8 hours 45 minutes

Narrated by Adam Lazarre-White.

Challenge: Personal
Genre: American classic, coming of age
Type/Source: Audio/Audible
 Why I read this now: This was the only audiobook I had on my phone at the moment I was ready to listen to a new one.

MOTIVATION for READING: I am curious. Baldwin is mentioned as an important writer and I had yet to read any of his work.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Not at all what I expected. I thought it was a going to be an essay on race relations in America. It’s fiction! I did not know it was fiction. I did not know it was semi-autobiographical. I was not prepared at all for this.

It is a story of a family and an individual family member grappling with his destiny against family history and expectations and cultural storms. It captures a certain place and time but the theme is universal.

WHAT’s GOOD: The writing blew me away. Here’s the blurb from goodreads; bold red font emphasis is mine:

Go Tell It on the Mountain, first published in 1953, is Baldwin’s first major work, a semi-autobiographical novel that has established itself as an American classic. With lyrical precision, psychological directness, resonating symbolic power, and a rage that is at once unrelenting and compassionate, Baldwin chronicles a fourteen-year-old boy’s discovery of the terms of his identity as the stepson of the minister of a storefront Pentecostal church in Harlem one Saturday in March of 1935. Baldwin’s rendering of his protagonist’s spiritual, sexual, and moral struggle of self-invention opened new possibilities in the American language and in the way Americans understand themselves.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Powerful.

RATING: Four slices of pie. The narration is excellent.

“after dinner, they brought up the pie and coffee and cream…”

 

 

 

pierating

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.

C8113B8C-7CE2-478F-9DAC-B61A4917DE70

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.)

pierating

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.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Thoughts titsoahmbyap by Ann Patchett, Bloomsbury 2013, 306 pages

Challenge:  none. A gift at Winter Holiday, via book bloggers book exchange. Thanks Bex!
Genre: Memoir, essays, nonfiction
Type/Source:  Tradeback/Wordery-Bex
 Why I read this now: Upon perusing the shelf, this sounded good.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ann Patchett is a successful prize-winning novelist (I really enjoyed Bel Canto – read for a book club way before blogging. It won the Orange and PEN/Faulkner in 2002.) who also owns a bookstore in Nashville TN. This writer-plus-bookshop-proprietor was a magazine article writer in order to support her fiction writing habit; this is a collection of a few of those articles from her past combined with new, fresh takes on life and love.

WHAT’s GOOD: I love her. From word one, I fell hard into this and couldn’t stop enjoying, thinking, relating, pondering. I had no idea what to expect; I really didn’t know anything more about Ann Patchett other than the first fact:  1) she wrote Bel Canto and the second, that 2) she owns a bookstore. I am now a fan and she is one of those authors that I hope to have the opportunity to meet/see/hear in person. I suppose I should put State of Wonder on my tbr – I had not yet because I had read a few reviews that made me consider it skippable. Now, I think I must reconsider that just because some don’t like her writing, I do. I have to find out if I am on the PRO SoW side of things. (Come to think of it, I wish I had suggested this for book club! but somehow, my gushings of I Capture the Castle had all the gals thinking they, too, want to read it. Which is cool. But a divisive book is so much more fun. Oh well..)

What’s NOT so good: I have no criticisms.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Ms. Patchett and I are about the same age and we have a few things in common (we both like dogs and we both own The Pie and Pastry Bible) but we are also quite different. I like to read about strong women who carve their own path and enjoy adventure.

RATING: Five slices of pie. Apple pie.

“She loved to tell me a story about a doctor who ordered his piece of apple pie with a slice of cheddar cheese and how she refused to give it to him because it was illegal to serve pie with cheese in the state of Kansas because the combination was thought to be poisonous.”

 

pierating

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.