Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie

Thoughts  by Jordan Sonnenblick, Brilliance Audio 2011 (orig 2004), 4 hours 31 minutes

Narrated by Joel Johnstone – great job!

Genre: YA/Middle School Fiction
Type/Source: Audiobook / Audible
 Why I read this now: It was short.

MOTIVATION for READING: I don’t often remember by motivations, I sometimes just read things, buy books, let the mood and whim drive me. That said, I do know that I bought this purely because it had PIE in the title. Audible sent me an email specifically targeting my pie obsession and I didn’t think twice. Probably didn’t think once.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: When I hit play on my phone to start this audiobook, I didn’t have one clue what it was about. I didn’t know it was kid lit. I only expected drums, girls and pie. Sure, I suppose I could have guessed that a book with this title could be about a teen boy who plays the drums and chases girl. Shrug. I didn’t really think about it at all. I just hit PLAY.

And what I found out was that Steven is in a middle school jazz band and he is a very good drummer. He is infatuated with the prettiest girl in class and has a girl best friend that he really doesn’t treat very well. We (yes, I just switched to the plural all of us, ‘we’) learn that Steven has an annoying little kid brother named Jeffrey, age 5,  who — of course — knows just how to annoy his big brother, whom he idolizes, of course.

Then we find out that Jeffrey has leukemia.

WHAT’s GOOD: Kick in the gut good. Heartfelt and compassionate. And it’s FUNNY! Yes, there is humor.

What’s NOT so good: As a teacher, I found myself getting very emotional to those suggestive thoughts that we never quite know how to help our students and don’t often know what hard things they are dealing with. This hit close to home for me. I feel like I didn’t do enough for my students this year and I also don’t know what I could have done but there is always ‘never enough’. This isn’t a complaint or criticism of the book but I actually wish I had listened to it before May. I don’t have time to fix any of the never enough cases I want to attempt to help with. Prayers will have to do at this point in the school year.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you are a middle school teacher or any teacher who appreciates a funny and loving book that has teacher-student interactions, I recommend.

As a goodreads friend reviewed, “Very very sweet. And it’s even a cancer book.

RATING: Four slices of apple pie. (The dangerous pie isn’t edible.)

“… and what of the classic apple pie?”

 

 

pierating

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

Commonwealth

Thoughts cwbyap by Ann Patchett, Harper 2016, 322 pages Hardback

Challenge: Inaugural Read of my new book club!  BA’s selection.
Genre: Contemporary Lit, Family Drama
Type/Source: Hardback given to me by Katie. Thank you
 Why I read this now: Book club meets 2nd Tuesday of December. I wanted to read it sooner so that someone could borrow if they needed to.

MOTIVATION for READING:  I have a book crush on Ann Patchett.

“Your mom doesn’t know about the movie, does she?”
“My mom doesn’t know about the book,” he said, “It turns out a novel isn’t the worst place to hide things.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT: The repercussions of adults paying little respect for their marriage vows – two divorces, six little children become step-siblings, they grow up and scatter to the four corners. All the family members get a view and a side to the story. There’s an ‘event’ and of course, the adults and even the kids are not quite sure what was true and what was right. Utterly engrossing!

“Now here he was, as thin and as quiet as a knife.”

WHAT’s GOOD: The opening / the setup / the first chapter is captivating. Enthralling. Exquisitely played. I loved the situational “funny” lines that made me laugh out loud but most people probably would NOT call this a comedy. (Actually, now that I’m reading Irving’s The World According to Garp, I have to say that some of these funny moments are eerily Irving-like.*)

What’s NOT so good: Having to read all the bad reviews on goodreads because I disagree. HA!  No offense to anyone who didn’t like this book – I actually enjoyed every review I read — even the ones who thought it had too many characters or jumped around in time too much or that AP went ‘on and on’ and she is too descriptive. That the chapters were too long. I respectfully disagree. For me, it was none of those things. (I never notice chapter length unless I don’t like the book but even rarely then.)

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD…

FINAL THOUGHTS: I thought it perfect. Oh well, perfect is a pretty strong word, isn’t it… Let’s see. [Me thinking: thinkingface] Nope, I found it well-done. Perfectly paced. Fascinating and insightful about how little things might ‘ruin’ your life or just take it in a different direction. I loved Frannie and her father Fix. I thought Bert to be jerk. I loved how AP’s characters were real and did interesting things – like one of the daughters was a biomedical engineer. WOMEN IN STEM for the WIN! And how Frannie ran into a guy from law school and they end up getting married. And Holly ends up in Switzerland? That Bert’s ex-wife never gave him a thought after so many years though she spent just as many hating his guts. Loved the book. I can’t figure out how she put all that she did into this in just over 300 pages.

RATING: Five slices of apple pie. “They went back to the kitchen and sliced apples for a pie.” [page 292]

“No stupidity in happiness.”

 

FOR MY BOOKCLUBBERS. CLICK THIS –> LINK <– FOR MORE THOUGHTS (but wait til you finish the book…

*I forgot that I referenced a note, page 127, that Frannie read The World According to Garp and considered it my cue to read it next. Which I am, on audio.

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.

Model Home

Thoughts    Model Home: a novel by Eric Puchner, Scribner 2010, 360 pages

For the What’s in a Name 5 Challenge (house category) and February’s selection for my book club “THE BOOKIES” – discussion 2/22

FIRST SENTENCE:  “Two days after his car – an ’85 Chrysler LeBaron with leather seats and all-power accessories – vanished from the driveway, Warren Ziller crept past the expensive homes of his neighbors, trying to match his dog’s limp.”

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  Ol’ Warren, our protagonist, chased the dream of making big cash in the sunny land of California, moved his family and staked his claim & fortune in a property development project that ended up next to a toxic waste dump. Losing it all, but not quite his family; lots of shit happens when it all falls apart. And still, the family seems to, at least, still be talking to each other and attempting to move on.

Despite my innumerable (ok, only three) statements that this is ‘quite depressing’, I liked it more than I thought I would while I was being depressed by it all. Now that I’ve finished, now I can remind myself that “this is only.a.book.” AND, a book set in the long ago Eighties! That crap is over. Of course, we could say we now have the same only more current crap but don’t get me started…

I do know that I have no interest in moving to the sprawl of California. (the one described in this book.)

Which leads me to what is GOOD about Model Home.  It feels so authentic. The characters were flawed but not overdone. The situations sad but presented with a tiny thread of hope to pull on. Pull on that thread and would it all unravel more?!  or would it fall apart into solution and progress and growth and resolution?  yea, right.  It was life, very believable UNFAIR crappy life.

I liked poor Warren. I do think that if we had only a few more pages we would have read about his heart attack but thankfully, Puchner knew to stop when he did.  I liked his wife Camille and understood her conflict, her dilemma, her attentions and neglect. I really rooted for Lyle (real name Delilah) though I was not at all like her in her need to ‘experience’ – she was much more brave than I. Dustin? I disliked Dustin most of all, but even he, too, comes around to push my buttons and make me cry the hardest in his saga of pain and possible redemption. And nutty weird strange Jonas – can ya blame him?!

My favorite character is Mr. Leonard. He’s the dog. Even that storyline could have melted into melodrama, but for me was spot on.

I think Mr. Puchner did an admirable job in this debut novel. When people mention it is funny (DARK-FUNNY), I probably would disagree. But then, I did laugh at times.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  If I would put this into a category, it would be “you’ll probably not exactly like it while you’re reading it, but. It is well written. It’s possible that it will be one you remember much longer than that last book you loved but can’t recall the title.”

RATING:  Three stars for “I liked it.” If I could give it three and a half, I would. Three slices of Sour Cream Raisin Pie. Pick out the raisins…

Other REVIEWS:  Check out Ti’s fabulous review here, Sandy was ‘swept away by this family’s story’, Lori at she treads softly said, “Puchner is certainly a talented writer…”

VOCABULARY:
p.23 – SOTTO VOCE – in a soft voice
p.310 – COROLLA – (Nope, not just a Toyota!) – the petals of a flower – “A mansion, flowering into a corolla of rooms…”

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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The Call

Thoughts  The Call by Yannick Murphy,  Harper Perennial 2011, 225 pages (if you count the cow on the very last page.  Which I do.)

MOTIVATION for READING this now:  My friend Nancy gave me this.  Thanks Nancy!   And it being short and I am on a roll this September, I decided to start it now.   Why pick over Fire Season, another book gift from Nancy?  I don’t know.  Probably because I actually picked this one up and opened it.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: A large-animal veterinarian in a small Vermont town, reports on the calls he makes for his job plus happens to mention other thoughts and stuff that happens to him, his family, and his community.  He has a BIG heart.

I personally think the back cover says TOO MUCH.   I also do not ever (ok, rarely) read the press & praise quotes at the front of a book.  Nancy’s rec was good enough for me.

WHAT’s GOOD:   Our vet worms his way into your heart.  He is a good father and an off-beat guy.  This book explores so many topics and yet is simple, funny and provocative.

WHAT’s NOT so good:   I really struggled with the layout at first.  It is setup as a log of call reports.  He tells who calls him for vet services and what happens, as well as remarks on what he is thinking or what else happens that day or on the drive to the call, etc.   So the format is …   different.

FINAL THOUGHTS:   It is a warm family small-town community story and I recommend it.  I really did enjoy this much more than I expected to after that point 20 pages in when I almost gave up.   It builds and builds to a very nice reading experience.

RATING:   Four slices of pie!   Something Vermont-related:  perhaps Blueberry with Maple Syrup?  and lots of whipped cream.

OTHER REViews:

Beth Fish Reads gives this a glowing review and explains more than I do so do pop over and read this.

The BlueStocking Society – also explains this well and offers valuable critique of writing skill and a lil bit of criticism

Nancy at Bookfoolery  — OOPS!  Has she not yet reviewed this?!??!

Fyrefly’s Book Blog Search for this title.

BOOK GIVEAWAY!!   I will be figuring out how to either make a form to do a nice giveaway or choose randomly from people who comment here that they want the book…   or both?   Nah, don’t have time to figure out the form.  If you think you want this book – you have until Monday Oct 3 at NOON to leave a comment – you get only ONE chance – telling me whether or not IF you saw a space ship, would you tell anyone?  and be sure that the comment either has your email address or twitter name for contact.  

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Copyright © 2007-2011. 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.

Why, Hello August!

I was so goal-oriented in July.   I was focused, I was a book-carrying fool.   I was going to break my record for books read in one month and I did it (at least for 2009) and then what happened?

August showed up.    I’ve read one book so far – ONE!   in 10 days?   oh well…

I have also had a slow blogging month and I realize I have a good excuse:   hosting family requires me NOT to be hiding in the office typing on the computer.    Luckily, it’s MY side of the family and not his.   The in-laws don’t ‘get’ reading like my parents do.    So it’s OK to sit around and read since everyone is reading or watching TV anyway.

So, today, Monday, I have NO ONE HERE.   Hub is off to work, my parents are visiting OTHER family and will be back on Wednesday.   That gives me 2 1/2 days to catch up on blog reading, blog posting, and perhaps, cleaning (ha!)

I’ll be by to visit soon, I hope!     Happy August.

Do you have family that allows you to read while ‘visiting’ (or being visited) or do you have family that think you are RUDE to read?

The Saturday Before Christmas

Maybe the title of this post is a bit lame, but it’s accurate.    I intend to ramble here about my thoughts this early Saturday morning, about what I will be doing today!

The hub and I are off to my cousin’s house north of Boston.   Mapquest says it will be 1 hour, 29 minutes for us to follow the path they have set for us.   I bet the traffic will be busy, but not as busy as a 7 am worday and hopefully, not quite what we saw the Thanksgiving day we drove there a couple of years ago.   Actually, the flow was opposite us that Thanksgiving Day – everyone must have been headed to New York?

If you swung a compass pointed at the center of Boston and from our house, I bet my cuz’s house would be directly opposite ours!

I just started the morning routine.    Let the dog out – who IMMEDIATELY scratched on the door for readmittance – fill his dog bowl, turn on the PC, start coffee.    But I started laundry instead because I think I will wear my nice jeans today.   Or my teal cords.  Both needed to be washed…

I was interrupted because I forgot to take my medicine which sits on my nightstand so it would be the first thing I do.   I forget it all the time.

I also pulled the blueberry-raspberry pie out of the fridge to get more room temperature before I bake it.

Then, I’ll start the coffee…

Tomorrow – the report of our fun dinner with the S_____  clan!  The Christmas Festivities are underway.

OH!    I am also bringing Peanut Butter Pie.  It’s still in the freezer and only needs a whipped cream topping with green and red sprinkles to give it the Christmas Touch…