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…”

 

 

 

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

The Bean Trees

Thoughts tbtbybk by Barbara Kingsolver, HarperPaperbacks 1998 (orig 1988), 312 pages

Challenge: What’s in a Name 9 wian2016
Genre: Young Adult
Type/Source: Mass Market Paperback / unknown
 Why I read this now: I wanted a small book to take on my travels.

MOTIVATION for READING: This book was on the 2014 list of recommended summer reading for the high school I subbed for in Massachusetts.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A young girl who yearns to escape her confining small town in Kentucky takes off for grand adventures. The least of which is NOT that she is handed a baby somewhere in Oklahoma on her way to who-knows-where; so she just mosies on down the road with little thought about it whatsoever… Seriously, the more I reflect on her nonchalance about being just handed a baby and her taking off with zero thought or consideration of consequence exasperates me.

For a much more detailed synopsis and thoughtful review, read this by BooksPlease blog.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kingsolver is not without writing talent. She can probably write anything and make it believable. I really did enjoy the main character and many of the good-hearted people she has the fortune to meet on her journey.

What’s NOT so good: Keeping in mind that this is set in the 80’s – and likely the early 80s, it is just odd/difficult to think that the not-so-distant past really IS that far away and yet so relatable. Pay phones, cars that won’t start unless you pop the clutch, walking into a job at a hospital and handling blood on day one. Really?! It was discombobulating. 

FINAL THOUGHTS: Kingsolver is also not shy about cleverly ranting about immigration policies and she skillfully grounds the story in the history of the time. The theme was all about creating your own family and being kind.

If I had known that the bean trees were really a reference to Wisteria, I probably would have read it sooner.

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RATING: Three slices of pie.

“The night before, she’d listened to the forecast and picked a mop bucket full of hard little marbles off the tomato vines, and this morning she had green-tomato pies baking upstairs. I know this sounds like something you’d no more want to eat than a mud-and-Junebug pie some kid would whip up, but it honestly smelled delicious.”

IMG_4777(This is a fried green tomato pimento cheese pie with a chocolate cream pie chaser.)

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

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.”

 

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

Notorious RBG

Thoughts nrbgbyicsk by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhinik, Dey St imprint of WmMorrow, 227 pages

Genre: Nonfiction, Biography
Type/Source: Hardback, Library

MOTIVATION for READING: This Supreme Court Justice has always interested me. Everyone is raving about this book.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Apparently, and for perfectly wonderful reasons, RBG has captivated the hearts of many for her groundbreaking work in law and her thoughtful and sharp reasonings on cases appearing before the Highest Court. This short book tells a bit about her whole life – how she started and what she is doing now. It doesn’t go into much depth but just enough to get a sense for her character, her smarts, her sense of humor and her incredible work ethic.

RATING: I rated it 5 pie slices because I truly enjoyed learning more about the background and work of this amazing woman.

 

 

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

I Capture the Castle

Thoughts ictcbyds by Dodie Smith, Audible Studios 2006 (orig 1948), 12 hours 20 minutes

Narrated by Jenny Agutter – fabulous narration. A new favorite.

Challenge: Classics Club SPIN!
Genre: Classics, Romance, YA, Coming of Age
Type/Source: Audiobook, Audible
 Why I read this now: classicsclub1Spin Time …

MOTIVATION for READING:  Lucky for me, this was my spin number.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A writer’s family takes up residence in an English castle but finances have dwindled while the writer no longer writes and his now ‘of age’ daughters desperately need options – and food and clothes and basic necessities of life. Whatever do you know! but a couple of eligible (and rich) young men happen to drop by.

Mayhem ensues. Sort of:  this phrase implies madcap hilarity and that doesn’t quite happen, but certainly the plot moves and spins and hops along nicely.

WHAT’s GOOD: Cassandra Mortmain is a dear.

What’s NOT so good: Not a damn thing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Truly unequivocally charming.

I must warn you that if you are to read most synopsisesses (how do you plural synopsis?!) you might roll your eyes and respond with a weary “really?”. I know, I did. I have had this on my tbr forever and only put it there because other wonderful astute wise and worthy readers said I should read it. They said I would love it. Yea, yea, whatever. It took a LOOOONG time for me to really wonder if I truly would enjoy this sappy little kid romance. That’s what I thought it might be. But she’s NOT a little kid anymore! Cassandra is wonderful!! READ it.

And how did I not realize that Dodie Smith wrote other wonderful things? I had never heard of her and thought this was her one-trick. Stupid silly me. It’s a shame this book is obscured by a silly sounding premise. I don’t even know why I think the premise sounds so silly but it does and it’s a crying shame. Great read. Most enjoyable. I want to read it again. And I never re-read books. So I’ll content myself to watch the movie and watch it again, and again. And again.

RATING: Five slices of pie.

Ms. Jakes had sent up stew and apple pie. “Oh good. Stew is so comforting on a rainy day.” (and so is pie!)

NEXT:

 

 

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

Orphan Train

Thoughts opbycbk by Christina Baker Kline, William Morrow Paperbacks 2013, 278 pages

Challenge:  Newcomers Book Club
Genre: Contemporary Lit? Historical Fiction?
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library (and then I received it as a gift! THEN, I sent it to my MIL.)
 Why I read this now: Club is Thursday May 5

Vivian is an elderly lady living in a big house all alone in Maine when, through the efforts of her housekeeper, she meets a High School foster kid named Molly who needs to do some service hours or be sent to juvie. Molly had attempted to steal a beat up copy of Pride and Prejudice from the library.

Molly is hard and bitter but she and Vivian find they have much to talk about as they go through Vivian’s boxes and trunks in the attic. Vivian finds a confidant and begins to tell Molly the stories of her life – stories she hadn’t had a chance or desire to ever share before.

Vivian was an Irish immigrant to NYC when a tragedy occurs and she is separated from her family. She ends up on a train to Minnesota with other orphans. The story is based on historical facts of the “Orphan Train” which shipped kids west to families that could support or use child labor and thus ‘save’ them from horrible fates of living on the streets and slums.

It’s a short book that offers a glimpse into how hard life was for everyone at the turn of the 20th century up through the Depression era. I wouldn’t call it a sentimental book but I did cry. I thought it ended rather abruptly and wanted to know more about the fate of Molly and Vivian in the present time line.

This was the second book I’ve read by Christina Baker Kline, the first being The Way Life Should Be. I might be a sucker for books set in Maine.

fourpie

RATING: Four slices of pie. Lots of pie references!  ‘Baking pies’ on one page, Sausage Pie on another page and then Rhubarb Tart…

“In places I have to crunch through the top layer of snow, [sic] as pie crust.”•
  • I don’t have the book and I think I typed the quote incorrectly. Is it THICK as PIE CRUST or was it SLICK as pie crust? Anyone have the book to verify? page 153…

 

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

 

The Story of My Teeth

Thoughts tsomtbyvl The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli, Coffee House Press 2015 (orig 2013), 184 pages

Translated from Spanish to English by Christina MacSweeney.

Challenge: The last of my Rooster reading attempts… til I try anticipating what might make the short list of NEXT year!
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback/Library 14 day loan, extended (since no one was waiting for it.)
 Why I read this now: it’s March! It’s TOB!! It’s the ROOSTER!!!

MOTIVATION for READING: Upon first hearing of this book, I didn’t think I was interested but as the TOB commentary remarked on its novelty AND that the character is one of an elderly persuasion (I love the cranky old geezer and lady who wears purple), I put it on hold at the library. I really do think I might have placed ALL the short list on hold at the library but I am wondering if some weren’t available at the initial time frame of “short list”. I don’t make very accurate records on such.

ALSO, there are aspects about this book that are beyond the story of the book. Will explain soon.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: It’s funny and sad. Our protagonist is an auctioneer who has perfected — nay, made an art form — of the STORY that goes along with an item that is auctioned. Indeed, believes the story attached to the item makes the item more valuable. This book is about art, the value of art and the value of stories. Highway (nickname for our auctioneer protag) has a son and a long life travel story, and an interesting ‘collection’ from his travels over those years… He is given one last auction opportunity to test his story-value-makes-the-item theory. His collection, his ultimate collection, is teeth of famous people.

This book is tremendously artful and creative. It will appeal to an artful creative kind of reader.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s funny and sad. Highway is a believer.

What’s NOT so good: It’s funny and sad. Highway has to deal with life. It is, yes, so very odd. It is cerebral, it is creative, it is confusing and fascinating.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I can’t quite tell which of you are the right reader to recommend this to and yet I truly believe many just might find it oddly charming as I did. I know a few of you would eat this up and think it brilliant. I also think more of you will find it odd and missing of something concrete. It’s artsy. It really reiterates that the power of words strung together IS art. Construct. Creative. Especially when you hear about the story of how this story came to be…

Please do consider that this work of art, this story, was commissioned AS art and thus it has that metaphysical element of enchantment. Yep, I did say that; I said it.

RATING: Four slices of pie. (no noted mention of pie…)

 

 

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

The Sympathizer

Thoughts tsbyvtn by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Audible Audio 2015, 13 hours 53 minutes

Narrated by François Chau – excellent!

Challenge: for my personal challenge to read as many of the Rooster short list as possible.
Genre: Pulitzer Prize Winner!  (though this is a recent distinction – very exciting!)
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible Credit
 Why I read this now: Stars aligned, I guess. I do believe that the Rooster commentary mentions this as a good audio so when it was time for me to use a credit, this is what got selected.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The fictionalized first-person account of a North Vietnamese communist spy who works for the South Vietnamese military, trained by the CIA, educated in America, son of a French priest and his South Vietnamese housekeeper? or paramour? (I forget; both?) at the time of the Fall of Saigon and after. It is set in Vietnam, America/California and has a brief interlude in the Philippines.

WHAT’s GOOD:  It is historical fiction with all the cool things that push my buttons – lush descriptions, witty repertoire, cutting insights into human nature, philosophy, action and thrilling suspense, conflict of conscience, love of sorts and falling in love or not, HISTORY, etc. I really wouldn’t call myself a spy-novel reader but I thought this quite fascinating.

What’s NOT so good: At times, I wonder if it had all the stereotypical elements a spy novel should have but I haven’t read very many and maybe a spy-novel is supposed to. Truly, I didn’t know what to expect but this delivers well on things I like in a story. ON THE OTHER HAND, I thought at times that it was too long and needed to get on with but I’m sure that was my mood and what was going on in ‘real life’ conflicting with time and interest to keep invested. But I pushed through and ended up liking the book overall.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This is often stated to be satire and of course, I can only recognize this from being told and not really of my own recognition. But I find that I am a big fan of satire even when I don’t quite get it. 

I am thrilled that this won the Pulitzer for Fiction 2016 only because 1) I just read it (validation?), 2) I somehow have unknowingly embarked on a Personal Pulitzer Challenge, and 3) the surprise and timing made it fun.

RATING: Four slices of pie. Pie actually was mentioned a lot – there is an entire sequence about eating humble pie that because in audio, I will either have to go hunt or skip…

fourpie

 

 

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

Quick Monday Update

Hi,

I’m still subbing.

I’m still listening to The Sympathizer on audio. Less than an hour left so maybe I will have a review post this week.

Still reading The Story of My Teeth.

Just picked up The Orphan Train from the library for bookclub. One of my book clubs… The other I need to request from the library soon or buy? It’s Paula by Isabel Allende.

I really need to get to the manuscript a friend asked me to read that I totally forgot about. BAD FRIEND.

I am walking a 5K this coming Saturday to support a great cause:  CASA aka Guardian ad Litem – child advocacy. If interested in sponsoring me, let me know and I will shoot you the link.

That’s it. I am teaching Statistics – scatter plots today! and factoring quadratic equations with the Seniors.

Oh! I made pie yesterday. Strawberry Rhubarb. Felt good.

See ya later,

loveCare

 

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

The Nest

Thoughts tnbycda by Cynthia D’Aprx Sweeney, ecco An Imprint of HarperCollins 2016, 353 pages

Challenge: to keep up with newly published books
Genre: Dysfunctional Family Lit
Type/Source: Hardcover, Library 14-day Loan
 Why I read this now: not sure

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  The father of four kids sets up a fund that will only be accessible when the youngest turns 40. Typically, all the siblings are eagerly awaiting and counting on this cash to bail them out of questionable financial circumstances.

Unfortunately (oh how true IS that word here!), the horrible mother decides to access the money to bail out the oldest child who commits a royal screw-up. So the next three kids are hoping/demanding that their big brother fix it.

WHAT’s GOOD: It’s quite readable and paced well and has many interesting asides and commentary on New York, marriage, solitude, babies, the literary and art worlds… There are characters to like, be charmed by and not quite trust. I love a horrible mother so I enjoyed the matriarch. I was impressed I didn’t get all the characters confused.

What’s NOT so good:  A few characters were only foils of perfection to contrast the neurotics of the main characters but this is a minor quibble.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  Here’s what I wrote in goodreads: Overall, a good solid book of the type I like to read, whatever that is. It helped that I was given a few big blocks of time to read when I thought I had to do something else. Yay for plans that change in my favor! Will this be Rooster worthy? I kind of doubt this will make the shortlist… But I could be wrong.

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

 

 

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