"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Review and quotes: THE GIRL WITH THE LOUDING VOICE


Title:
The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Daré

Book Beginnings Quote:


Friday56 Quote (page 25):                                                                                                "In

Summary:

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same. (From the publisher)

Review: I loved, loved, loved this story of both heartbreak and triumph. Adunni wants more than anything to go to school so she can not only change the circumstances for herself but for other girls in her village who are all destined to marry young, sometimes as second or third wives, and forgo any dreams that they have for themselves. In a culture that does not think of women as equal to men, it is often a very hard life that women have to endure. The quote from page 25 shows how determined Adunni is to make something of herself, to have a "louding voice." She also knows that education is the key that will unlock her future and her dreams.

But all does not go according to plans. Her father stops paying for her education and then she learns that he has essentially sold her to pay his bills to a man who already has two wives. Yet, despite her circumstances Adunni is determined to somehow get back to school.

I listened to the audiobook recording of The Girl With the Louding Voice read by Adjoa Andoh, who is a British-Ghanaian actress. The book is written in vernacular and Ms. Andoh does a wonderful job with it and the Nigerian accent. As Adunni's English is poor, so is the written text on the page. As it improves, so does the writing. At first it is difficult to understand in both the print and the audiobook, but give a few pages (or minutes) and the ears and the brain will catch up. I love the quote from the first page where she talks about her father's "eyesballs." Just imagine how hard it would be to improve your language skills if all you had were a few years of school and no role models speaking it at home. May I suggest that you find a sample of the audiobook and listen to a few minutes of it. I bet you too will be charmed.

Adunni never, ever gave up her dream of going to school. Her determination and kind spirit attracted helpers along her path to guide and assist her. Eventually it all pays off.

This is our May book club selection and I can't wait to talk about it with my friends. Here are some questions that seem like good discussion generators at Bookchat. Beware, however, there are spoilers.

I loved this book and hope everyone reads it. I gave it to my mom for Mother's Day thanking her for being a great role model of a woman with a "louding voice." Thanks, Mom!

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
Th
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   
 

(RHS Book Club, May 2021)

-Anne

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Poetry review: POSTCOLONIAL LOVE POEM


On the heels of a great National Poetry Month (April) for me I finished Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz today and wanted to put together a review of my thoughts before they fade.

First I want to confess that I had an epiphany as I was hunkering down with a few of the poems attempting to figure out stuff about the poet through her poems without any context. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was trying to read this book of poems as if it were an autobiography of Natalie Diaz. I kept asking myself questions I couldn't answer---Does she have a brother who is mentally ill or is he dead? Does she have a broken heart from an estranged lesbian lover? Is she Latina or Native American? Then this thought snuck into my brain---The poems are meant to be read and treasured on a personal level. I didn't need to know the answers to my questions to enjoy the poems. And reading poetry isn't supposed to be like reading a novel or a biography. 

But I did do a little research on Natalie Diaz. She is a member of the Gila River Indian Tribe (Mojave) and was born in Needles, California near the Arizona, Nevada, California line. Her father is Mexican and her mother is Native. So I now have at least one answer to my many questions. Of her work, National Academy of Poets Chancellor Dorianne Laux says, 

“Natalie Diaz is a poet who calls out to us in so many ways, who reaches out to embrace her lover, her people, and her country. A speaker of Mojave, Spanish and English, she has developed a language all her own. She calls attention to language both in her poetry and in her efforts to preserve her native tongue through the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program where she works with its last remaining speakers. Native language, she says, is the ‘foundation of the American poetic lexicon’ and believes it is an ‘important and dangerous time for language’. There is no better emissary for poetry and the cultures, values and history it embraces, as well as the beauty and power of the human voice” (Poets.org)

Language is clearly very important to Ms. Diaz, as is the environment and how humans are destroying wild places. She conveys a one-ness with aspects of nature throughout this poetry collection referring both to snakes and rivers as her sisters.  "The river is my sister--I am its daughter. / It is in my hands when I drink from it, / my own eye when I am weeping." She is sad at what has happened to her Colorado River because of so many dams on it. Clearly her frustration is at a boil when she ruminates, "You cannot drink poetry."

I was touched to the core by many of the poems, even if I am not quite  sure what they represent in Diaz's life. In the poem "It Was the Animals" she has an exchange with her brother who arrives with a plastic bag in which he believes he has a piece of the ark. "You mean Noah's ark? I asked. / What other ark is there? he answered." Later in the poem the brother chides her for not understanding, saying that all the books she reads won't help her. "He was wrong. I could take the ark... /  It was the animals---the animals I could not take-- / they came up the walkway into my house, / cracked the doorframe with their hooves and hips, / marched past me, into my kitchen, into my brother." Sometimes love means being willing to just accept a person, warts and all. And that love can save us both.

Loneliness is also a universal theme. In "If I Should Come Upon Your House Lonely in the West Texas Desert" I love the imagery of light juxtaposed to location: "I will swing my lasso of headlights / across your front porch, // let it drop like a rope of knotted light / at your feet. / While I put the car in park, / you will tie and tighten the loop // of light around your waist-- / and I will be there with the other end."

The title of Postcolonial Love Poem speaks volumes, too. Several poems speak to uncomfortable relationship that many experience living within a nation, within another nation. In one poem she explains that more Natives die at the hands of police, percentage-wise, than any other people in the USA. And in the poem "Minotaur,"  she lays it out. Can we get out of racist labyrinth in which we live?  "I have a name, yet no one who will say it not roughly. / I am your Native, / and this is my American labyrinth."

One interesting and fun aspect to Diaz's poetry is how she inserts phrases and words she has gleaned from elsewhere into them. In the notes at the back of the book she tells us where she found them and how the words or images she used inspired the poems. For example, the poem "Wolf OR-7" was built while she watched a few websites devoted to recording the movements of a male wolf who moved from Oregon into California. Another series of short poems/thoughts came to her after she read Luis Alberto Urrea's The Water Museum. I love the symmetry of this--an author, who is inspired to write a short story, passes on his inspiration to a poet who passes on her inspiration to me to be a better user of water.

I gained a lot of insight from the interview with Diaz by Sandeep Parmar, from The Guardian. If you want to know more about the poet and her works, I recommend that you read it. 

I love it when I read something that opens my eyes to the experiences of people different then me. This is one of those books.

-Anne

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

My not very deep or insightful review of DUNE


This year I am continuing a tradition started last year to select just one big book which I commit to finishing in the year. This year's book is DUNE by Frank Herbert and I have completed it. Readers and friends helped in the selection of my choice (both here and on Facebook) and more people voted for Dune than the other books. I did no research about the book other than to confirm that the author is indeed from the Tacoma-area, where I live. 

To begin with I purchased both the e-book and the audiobook versions, fearing correctly that I would be flummoxed by the pronunciation of names and places in the fictitious world created by Herbert. Audiobooks help with that problem. Once the names and places become familiar I often like to switch back to the print version so I can read the book quicker. The audio version I purchased was 21+ hours long, so speeding up the process seemed like a good plan.

Secondly, before I got started, my daughter told me that she and her book club were reading Dune, but only book one. I thought I, too, was reading book one. But on closer inspection I discovered that the book indeed was actually three-books-in-one. I had read somewhere that the amazing thing about Dune was how groundbreaking it was at the time it was written, leading to many other books and movies, including 'Game of Thrones' and 'Star Wars'. Oh great. If I am reading a three-in-one book does that mean I am reading the equivalent of Star Wars: A New Hope/The Empire Strikes Back/The Return of the Jedi in one go? No wonder the blasted book is almost 900 pages long.

I was off to a very inauspicious start.

The story summary is pretty confusing. In a nutshell, there is a teenage boy, Paul Atreides, who moves with his family to Arrakis, which is a very dry and sandy planet, where his father, the Duke, is killed by a Baron. The rest of the book is about Paul's attempts to avenge this death and how he becomes a prophet/messiah-figure/hero along the way. And there is his mother who is very talented in her own rights and helps a lot, probably saving their lives more than once. Don't worry about this summary. Let me encourage you--- If you decide to read Dune, just read it. Don't worry about any summary. Just go with the flow.

As I said before, the author Frank Herbert was from Washington State, born in Tacoma. One summer  in 1957 he visited the Oregon Sand Dunes on the Oregon Coast near the town of Florence to conduct some research for an article that he never finished called "They Stopped the Moving Sands."  This visit to the sand dunes ignited his imagination and the idea for Dune was born. It took Herbert six years to write the book (or the three-in-one) and portions were published in the Analog magazine between 1963 and 1965. According to Shmoop, Herbert wanted his novel to be epic. "Why stop there? Why not make this beast of a book epically epic?" Which is a great quote if Herbert said it or not.

And Dune was epically epic. It won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards in 1966. And it separates itself from most of the other Sci-Fi works out there. Herbert's imagination was on fire and the breadth and depth of it is on full display in Dune. There is the planet and its unique ecology, a host of characters with unique and often hard to pronounce names. This is what you expect. But there is also "politics, religion, philosophy, history, human evolution, and even poetry," all these things signified for Herbert the world of mankind. Each has its place in the Dune universe, and each plays a significant role in the destiny of humanity (Shmoop).

Since I am not a big reader of Sci-Fi some of the grandness of Herbert's world-building on Arrakis, in comparison to other books. was lost on me. The story often seemed even too big for itself. What I missed were the transitions. 'This or that' would be happening and then suddenly the story would shift, often after a long passage of time, to some other action or place and I'd think, "Hey, how did we get here? What just happened?" I even wondered to myself if Herbert's editor said that the book was too long and he needed to shave off a bunch of pages and Herbert decided to save time and effort by just taking out all the transitions. I doubt it, but whatever happened, I missed them.

Aside from missing transitions, unpronounceable names, and three books-in-one, I actually liked Dune, at least a little, and I thought the audiobook recording was well-done. Twenty-one hours seemed to zoom by as I listened.  I found myself cheering for Paul and hoping for his success at avenging his father's death and freeing the Fremin people from the tyranny of the empire. I was completely satisfied with the ending but apparently Herbert wasn't. He went on to write five sequels to Dune. When he died his son and a co-author carried on and wrote 20 more books. One could get completely lost in Dune forever.

Will I read on? No. Was I glad I read the book? Yes. Apparently Dune is one of those books, like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, that people lie about reading. Ha! Well, I've never lied about it but I won't need to in the future either.

-Anne

Monday, May 3, 2021

TTT: My Ten Most Recent Reads


Top Ten Tuesday: My Ten Most Recent Reads

(This list excludes a few poetry books that should be on this list because they are listed here


1. The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare
Set in Nigeria. The female protagonist has a hard life with many trials and upsets but she triumphs in the end. This is a transcendent book and I highly recommend that you listen to the audio version since it is written in vernacular.

2. I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiara Clark
A poetry collection which deals with tough topics like racism and sexism. 

3. Saving My Enemy by Bob Welch
The true story of two soldiers, an American GI and a German soldier, who met on the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge (WWII) and formed a deep friendship by forgiving each other for their part in the war. This is WWII story the likes of which I've never read before and I was so touched by it. Want to find out more? Please read my review here.

4. The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy by Helen Russell
Country by county Helen introduces the reader to words and concepts that people in that region use to find happiness and contentment in their circumstances.
 
5. Violet Bent Backwards in the Grass by Lana Del Ray
The first poetry collection by this singer/songwriter.  

6. Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations by Fred Rogers
We all love Mr. Rogers and what he created in his neighborhood. If you read these interviews and conversations, done near the end of his life, you will be reminded why you like him so much. This book was gifted to me by Deb Nance at Readerbuzz. Thank you.

7. Dune by Frank Herbert
Reading this classic Sci-Fi book knocked off my one reading goal of the year---to read Dune. Not a personal favorite but I can certainly see why this book has stood the test of time. I listened to the audiobook which was very well-done.

8. Day is Done: A Nelson Mandela Tribute by Maya Angelou
One hero of mine honoring another hero in this beautiful poem.

9. A Promised Land by Barack Obama
My husband and I started this audiobook back in December and we finally finished it in April. I love Obama and followed his Presidency, so most of the information was not news to me. I just didn't like how long it took for us to finish the book (29+ hours of listening.) 

10. A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor by Hank Green
This is the second book in the Carls series. I loved the first book, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, and found a lot to like in this sequel. Another audiobook selection for me.

-Anne

 

 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Sunday Salon, First of May edition

Colors of spring. The world is so colorful right now.

Weather:
I had to step outside to check. I couldn't tell from the window. It is currently sunny but there are big grey and white clouds hovering close by. The temperature is in the mid 50s. Yesterday it maxed out in the low 60s. Just when I climbed in the hot tub, it started raining. It is pretty typical for this time of year around here.

Update on the freezer project---Turkey dinner: Every year around Thanksgiving I purchase two turkeys because they are so inexpensive. I freeze one and cook the other for Thanksgiving dinner. The second turkey I hold in reserve for Christmas dinner when I thaw it and cook it if the family gathers for a big meal. The past few years, due to COVID-19 or traveling, the second turkey remained in the freezer long after the December holiday. When I cleaned out my freezer last week I pulled the big bird out of it and set it in the fridge to thaw. Five days later, I cooked the turkey and served it to my family along with a side of cranberry sauce, and cranberry wine (that I also purchased around Thanksgiving.) Let me tell you, if you have a turkey in your freezer, too, I recommend a turkey dinner in April or May. My family ate it with relish as it really is comfort food to us. And turkeys allow for a lot of leftovers, a bonus. BTW-here is the link for the best cranberry wine. It tastes just like cranberry cocktail juice so it is easy to gulp down one or two glasses before you get tipsy and are reminded that it is really wine. Ha!

Books and reading:

  • Reading projects:
  • Completed this week:
    • The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare: A book club selection. This is quite possibly my favorite audiobook I've listened to in years. A powerful story of a Nigerian girl who triumphs over her circumstances in the end. Highly recommend. Audiobook.
    • Saving My Enemy by Bob Welch. I was asked by the author to review the book and I am so glad I did. It is about an American GI and a German Soldier who met 60 years after the Battle of the Bulge of WWII and became friends. Their friendship provided absolution for the battle wounds (internal) they both carried. A very powerful read. Request that your library purchase this book and then be the first in line to read it. Click the hyperlinked title to read my review. Print. 
    • I Can't Talk about Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark. A poetry book which deals with difficult topics like racism---the trees and blood in the title are references to lynching. This collection of poems is not a favorite of mine. Print.
  • Currently reading:
    • The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict. A novel about the famous actress, Hedy Lamar, and her involvement in WWII projects which may have helped tip the war in our favor. It is based on her life and actions. Another book club selection. Print, 10% complete.
    • Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz---another poetry collection I attempted to read for April's poetry month but didn't finish in time. Diaz is Native American and many of her poems deal with related topics. Print, 51% complete.
    • Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka. I am reading this classic collection of short stories as part of the Classics Club spin event. I've not read Kafka before and am having a hard time settling in to enjoy his style. But I haven't read far. Print, 10% done.

Health update: For the past few years I have been dealing with achy joints. Age is probably the key indicator and my weight. But recently I've noticed if I eat foods which likely contain contaminates of the herbicide glyphosate, found in the common herbicide Round-up, I really experience achy joints the most. But if I consistently only eat organic grains, especially wheat and oats, the achy feelings diminish. A lot of people who think they were gluten-intolerant are probably reacting to glyposate and would be okay if they ate an organic diet rather than just a gluten-free diet. I can purchase organic bread and flours but recently it has finally occurred to me that all regular crackers, cookies, cereals, and baked goods are likely suspects, too. This calls for a diet overhaul and I am attempting to make the changes. Here is an article about why this common chemical causes problems with joints, maybe even to the point of becoming an autoimmune disease. Common Ground: Hidden Health Issues of Glyphosates. Eek!

Biden's First 100 days in three minutes. Watch it. It will help make your feel good about the direction he is taking this nation. (Click link here to view on your phone) or watch below:

I hope you also got a chance to watch his address to congress and the nation on Tuesday evening. It will also make you feel good about the direction we are going under the Biden-Harris administration. 85% of people polled after the speech felt that way.

Death of a friend: This week a friend from my Corvallis days died. Prior to her death she sent out a farewell on Facebook, a first for me, and ask us to all do those special things we've always wanted to do but put off for later so there are no regrets at the end of life. Her big regret was she never got to see Bruno Mars live.  I wrote her a note and told her one of the things I regret is not keeping in better touch with old friends, like her. Then I reminded her of a few fun things we did when we were in school together. It wasn't much. I hope it gave her a smile or two. Good advice. R.I.P, Billie.

Today I'm praying for: a little boy in our church who has serious scarring to his esophagus due to food allergies. It is so bad it may start affecting his breathing. And a prayer for a young couple, friends of my daughter, who just lost a baby, born too early. Life is fragile, folks. Tread lightly!

We start renovations on our bathroom tomorrow. Don and I cleaned out the cupboards, medicine cabinet, and shower yesterday. We threw away a lot of old, expired meds, yucky old creams, and products we haven't used for years. Today Don's back hurts. Wonder why? Could it be that he had to haul all that crap out to the garbage can outside after we were done sorting?

The hydrangeas are still in need for deadheading (a task I should have done in April) so I will close with one funny and the prerequisite pet and grandson photos before I run out to work in the yard:

You are welcome. Now you no longer have to feel like you need to read these classics since you've read the abridged versions. Ha!

 
Bingley enjoying a nap in a spot of sun with his teddy bear as a headrest.

Dryer left open so guess who went inside to investigate? George, of course. Note the Obama/Biden magnet has been on dryer since 2012. Guess it's time to take it off. Ha!

Look carefully. Jamie is enjoying his sweet potatoes a lot. And he doesn't care that there is a glob of them on his nose. This boy loves to eat solid foods. Forget the soft baby food, give this boy something of substance.
-Anne


Wednesday, April 28, 2021

National Poetry Month Wrap-up

National Poetry Month has been a great success fro me. I managed to read thirteen small volumes of poetry this month, the most I've ever read in one month. They ranged from wonderful and inspiring to confusing and unexceptional.  The first six volumes I reviewed here, here, and here. The last seven I highlight below with a note of what I liked/didn't like, something surprising, and, a favorite line or phrase from one of the poems.

 

Day is Done: A Nelson Mandela Tribute by Maya Angelou*

Liked: This short volume of poetry was a wonderful farewell poem to a remarkable man how saved South Africa from apartheid without a war!

Disliked: I wanted more, it was so short. I wanted to sit with it longer than I did.

Surprised by: I had no idea that Mandela and Angelou were friends. Why would I?  I wish I knew more about their friendship. 

"No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn."

Why I Wake Early: New Poems by Mary Oliver

Liked: I love Mary Oliver's poems but I was especially delighted that this collection was full of new poems, most of her books are only about half full of new ones.

Disliked: Nothing. I liked it all.

Surprised by: This collection seemed more spiritual than I remember of other collections of hers.

"All things are inventions of holiness. Some more rascally than others."

Violet Bent Over Backward in the Grass by Lana Del Ray*

Liked: I adored the first poem for which the book is named. 

Disliked: There was little I could relate to in these poems. In fact I started to feel sorry for the poet as she seemed so lonely and almost addicted to bad men. Clearly I didn't understand most of the poems.

Surprised by: I had no idea who Lana Del Ray was until I looked her up after reading this collection. She is a singer/songwriter. This is her first poetry collection. (It makes me feel old to admit I have never heard of her before.)

"with the exuberance that only doing nothing can bring
waiting for the fireworks to begin

and in that moment
i decided to do nothing about everything

forever
.
"

Scribbled in the Dark by Charles Simic*

Liked: I could understand what was going on in each poem, some were even humorous.

Disliked: For the most part the collection seemed uninspired but upon closer inspection it was probably me who was uninspired when I read the poems, not the poems themselves. I laughed once or twice but groaned outwardly a few times, too.

Surprised: I was shocked to learn that the poet was a past Poet Laureate since I'd never heard of him before.

"My childhood. An old silent movie."

I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark*

Liked: This collection of poems delved deeply into the impact racism has on people.

Disliked: The cover is terrible. It makes me want to fling the book away and I don't understand it at all.

Surprised by: Goodread reviews of this poetry collection were all 5s yet I had a hard time understanding most poems so I felt ripped off. I wanted a "5" experience with it, too, but mine was only a "3" experience. I'm guessing that my experience with this collection would have been improved if I heard these poems read out loud.

Concerning the death of Trayvon Martin...

"I think about eyeballs, the first impression,
the action that follows, George Zimmerman stepping

out of his car. I think what would have happened
if he'd just given him a ride home?"

Ledger by Jane Hirshfield

Liked/Disliked: I found myself to be fairly neutral about every poem in this collection.

Surprised by: This is the first collection of Jane Hirshfield poems I've ever read and my expectations were high. My expectations and the experience didn't match, sadly.

"Bees do not question the sweetness of what sways beneath them."

What Do We Know by Mary Oliver

Liked: I just like Oliver's poetry.

Disliked: Hmm. This is not my favorite collection of her poems but I can't put my finger on why.

Surprised: Her love for things that make my skin crawl, like snakes, often catches me by surprise.

"I rise

from the comfortable bed and go
to another room, where my books are lined up
in their neat and colorful rows. How
 
magical they are! I choose one
and open it. Soon
I have wandered in over the waves of the words
to the temple of thought."

The books denoted with * were part of grab-bag of books organized for me, upon request, from my public library. I requested small volumes of poetry and those books were a delight and a surprise for me. 

In addition to the four listed above, the grab-bag contained one more book: The Ancient Mariner by David Jones, edited by Thomas Dilworth. On first inspection the book appeared to be an illustrated version of "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" so why is the artist credited with authoring the book, not Coleridge, the poet who authored the poem? I dug in a little deeper today and discovered the answer. David Jones not only created interesting copper engravings but also annotated the poem in two limited editions, one in 1929 and the other in 1964. Notes written by Jones about his process were written in 1964. So that is cool and interesting. Not interesting enough for me to read the whole thing, but cool nonetheless. Jones's notes, annotations, and the original poem by Coleridge take up 82 pages. The rest of the book is written by Thomas Dilworth who analyzes Jones's engravings and annotations, for thirty additional pages of text. Talk about complicated (and tedious.) I decided to not read the book, is it any wonder? But in case you are writing your doctoral dissertation on Coleridge or Davis, be sure to look for this book. I'll leave you with the only line I can remember from the famous poem, last studied by me in junior high school.

"Water water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.


-Anne

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Review and quotes: SAVING MY ENEMY--- A True "Band of Brothers" Story


Saving My Enemy: How Two WWII Soldiers Fought Against Each Other and Later Forged a Friendship That Saved Their Lives
by Bob Welch is a true "Band of Brothers" story. It tells a story not often told when one chronicles war--that of friendship and forgiveness.

Back in 2007 Bob Welch met and interviewed a WWII Band of Brothers hero, Don Malarkey, a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne's 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, E Company. Together Welch and Marlarky wrote the World War II memoir, Easy Company Soldier. During more than a dozen interviews that Welch conducted to get material for the book, Marlarkey mentioned befriending a German soldier after the war. Welch, more concerned with a looming deadline, didn't think much about it and went on to publish the book in 2008 without exploring the comment further. 

Malarkey was an outstanding soldier. He served more consecutive time on the front lines--177 days--than any other member of Easy Company. He and the other members of the company gained notoriety when their unit was featured in Steven Ambrose's 1992 book The Band of Brothers and later in a Spielberg/Hanks-produced HBO series in 2001. Before Malarkey died at age ninety-six in 2017 he had been the oldest living member of Easy Company. 

Several months after Malarkey's death his youngest daughter, Marianne McNally, contacted Welch to find out if he would like to write a second book about her father. This one about his friendship with a German soldier. This book is the result of that request. It is about "Don and Fritz's true-life adventure: the rare war story with a happy ending. All because a couple of former enemies who made the most of their own second chance" (Author's note).

Saving My Enemy is divided into five parts. The first is titled 'Youth' and compares the upbringing and lifestyle of Don Malarkey and Fritz Englebert. The first chapter, hilariously titled "Hitler Youth and Huckleberry Finn", sums up the differences. Fritz was only eight-years-old when Hitler came to power and he, along with most of his classmates, enthusiastically joined the Hitler Youth movement. By the time he was seventeen Fritz was completely indoctrinated by Hitler and wanted to join the SS but his father refused to sign the required papers. Instead he joined the German Army at age eighteen when he could do so without parental signatures. Don, on the other hand, grew up in Astoria, Oregon on the Columbia River where he hunted, fished, and made merry. He worked hard when it was required of him, but he was known for his high-jinx and 'Halloween tricks' as well. Don entered college in the fall of 1941, where ROTC training was required for all male students, and three months later USA entered the war. By the end of Christmas break that year Don knew he was going to war.

'War' is the title of the second part of Saving My Enemy. Both Fritz and Don were stationed in various locations around Europe but eventually both men ended up in Belgium, fighting on either side of what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. Each became very disturbed by the deaths they witnessed. Don was distressed by the death of a German he shot. As he went through the identification papers he discovered the person was only sixteen-years-old, just a child. Fritz discovered a dead and frozen American GI in the forest and was haunted by the look on the face of a dead Belgian teenage girl, a casualty of war. 

By this point in the narrative I am thinking that this book doesn't seem too different than many WWII memoirs and novels I've read before. One big difference, however, was seeing war through the eyes of a German soldier. Fritz the gung-ho, Hitler-enthused soldier became less and less enamored as the war drug on and the cold winter of 1944 set in. The accelerant for the shift in his thinking occurred as he witnessed the death of so many of his fellow soldiers and the cowardice of some of his commanding officers. If the book had stopped when the war was over, I don't think I'd recommend you read it. But there were three more parts and a lot more story to tell.

Part III follows Don and Fritz 'Home' and recounts the lives they made for themselves after the war. Both men struggled to gain purchase and balance as they attempted to assimilate back into their previous lives. They both married and started families. Don drank to anesthetize his feelings which caused a host of additional problems including financial worries. Fritz worked and worked, routinely putting in over 55 hours per week at his job. Both men were haunted by their memories of the war, often waking from nightmares. Neither man was warm and loving toward his children--Fritz had two boys and Don had a son and three daughters. Though they were willing to hide their feelings in drink and work, neither Don nor Fritz ever sought out counseling for what we would now call their PTSD symptoms. Whereas Don felt pride in his military service, Fritz felt shame for his. He felt like "a fool; a lackey; an accomplice; an evildoer; an imbecile; a hired hand of the devil himself, the perfect example of Hitler's insistence that 'people will more easily fall victims to a big lie than to a small one'" (172). The more Fritz learned about Hitler the worse he felt about himself. He'd been duped by the biggest con artist who ever lived. He'd been an extension of Hitler's evil plans including the holocaust, though he didn't know about it until after he returned from his time as a POW. His shame grew and grew. Why hadn't he seen the truth in the late 1930s? "Your Hitler Youth leaders would not allow you to look up, to look beyond them and the Fuhrer", his father told him (183). Fritz's conscience felt deeply wounded.

The Band of Brothers book and the HBO series that followed helped Don start to make sense of his life. There were many reunions of the men in Easy Company and a modicum of fame. He also started to talk about his war experiences, especially with others who had experienced war first-hand. Slowly the ice began to crack for Fritz, too, as he started to read books which would have been banned under Hitler. He read books by Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Wolfang Borchert, men who were opposed to Hitler and wrote about their opposition. Don and Fritz could not shrug off their internal wounds but both started to take a few baby steps in the right direction. Books and fame couldn't do it. What both men needed was forgiveness. "And not just from anyone, but from the enemy" (241).

'Absolution' (Part IV) came from a round-about route. The end result was a group of Easy Company men coming to Germany on the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Bulge for a reunion of sorts. German soldiers would be invited to the reunion, too. After much deliberation and prodding from his sons, Matthias and Volker, Fritz decided he would attend the event. As it turned out, he was the only German soldier to attend that night. During the dinner one of the GIs sitting near Fritz started giving him a bad time. Instead of joining in, Don rose and gave Fritz a toast welcoming him to the Band of Brothers! From that moment on a bond was formed between these two men, men who were once enemies. The next day they stayed together as the group toured old battle sites and visited military cemeteries. In the evening, with the beer flowing, Fritz started opening up about his shame. "Fritz, you had no choice. You were forced into Hitler Youth. You were given a weapon and sent to war...It's not your fault, Fritz. Let it go. Nobody's holding that against you. You've done well. You're a good man. You've raised good sons" (272-3). The floodgate of tears which had been held back since 1945 let go and Fritz cried and cried. Later, as Don shared his shame and what haunted him about the war, Fritz was able to give Don the same absolution he'd received earlier. This time the tears belonged to Don.

Fritz and Don left behind an incredible 'Legacy' (Part V). The men only met together two more times after their initial and chance meeting in 2004 but their lives were changed forever. When they met again, family members joined the men and deep friendships were formed. Fritz died first in 2015. In 2017 Marianne, Don's daughter, invited Fritz's family to join them in Portland, Oregon for another Easy Company reunion. During the event this German family of Fritz Engelbert were welcomed into the Band of Brothers. Don, whose health was rapidly failing, joined in the festivities chatting happily with his German friends. He died five weeks later. A deep and abiding friendship developed between the two families of Don and Fritz. Later, during a Band of Brothers re-enactment event in Switzerland in 2018, the families were encouraged to write a book about their fathers. The Saving My Enemy project was born with both families contributing greatly so that there was fair and equal treatment of both men.

Bob Welch did an incredible job weaving together the story of these two men who fought and were damaged in the same war. Though I had previously read several books about Hitler Youth, I was struck anew by the similarity of the strategies used in Germany in the 1930s to what is happening today with Trump and his followers, and QAnon conspiracy theories..."Don't believe what you hear, believe me only. The media are bad. Don't listen to them. Burn books that don't say nice things about me. Turn against family members if they disagree with you/me." Welch didn't say these words. I was reading between the lines. But what I saw frightened me again with the thought of how easily millions of people can be duped by con artists the likes of Hitler and Trump.

At the end of the source notes Welch asks three very important questions which we should all ponder: What can war teach us about peace? Why do nations devote so much time, money, and energy preparing soldiers for war and so little to help them heal when they return from it? And when will we begin to respect the power of forgiveness? 

Just as I was finishing the book and pondering those questions, my husband, also named Don, asked me to join him in the hot tub for a soak. I posed those three questions of him as I climbed into the hot water. Don, a veteran of the Iraq War, had a lot to say about the poor mental health services that soldiers receive after they return home, though they are better than what the WWII vets received. As a long time member of a National Guard Brigade, he had the instant support and camaraderie of the men and women he served with in Iraq beginning the first month they drilled together once they returned home, and each month after that. The soldiers in WWII came home from Europe or the Pacific, separated from their units and dispersed across the country. They didn't have a built-in support system awaiting them during the next unit training assembly. Don also talked about how his relationship with other combat vets changed beginning during his deployment and continuing after he returned home. My uncle Gordon, two old WWII vets in our church, a Vietnam veteran co-worker, and even his father, a Korean War vet, all suddenly had a lot to talk to Don about. He said that his war experiences bonded him to these men. I was most moved by his altered relationship with my Uncle Gordon, who was probably a lot like Don Malarkey, a kind man but one who had trouble coping with his demons from the time he served in the South Pacific during WWII. Drinking and gruffness covered up his feelings and anesthetized his pain. Then my Don came back from Iraq and Gordon had someone to talk to about the horrors of war and the heavy burden of carrying memories of those who did not get to come home. What a relief.

I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to read this book. It is so inspiring and vital. We've heard the war stories before. We know our failures to care for the mental health impacts of war. Here we learn about a way out. A way that will hopefully lead to less war and more peace in the future: Forgiveness.

For further reading on this and related topics, I recommend:

Book Beginnings quote (pg. 1 of Prologue): 

It was three days before Christmas 1944, though most soldiers were too weary to notice the approaching holiday. World War II in Europe, now in its sixth year, clanked relentlessly on with the resolve of a German Panzer, grinding through whatever got in its way: Soldiers. Civilians. Christmas. Whatever it took to feed the beast.

Friday56 quote (from page 56, Chapter 3, "Off to War"):

Fritz Jr. now had justification for the militaristic bent of the Hitler Youth: We are at war. Shouldn't we support our own country? After the invasion, Fritz was champing at the bit to serve Hitler and his country. At seventeen, the minimum age, he aspired to be part of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party's SS organization. But his father refused to give his consent.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
Th
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   
 

-Anne

Dewey 24-Hour Readathon Wrap-up


It almost doesn't count, me participating in scheduled/named readathons because I do not interact with other readers during the event. I just read. And I break the rules. I try to read for 24-hours and I keep reading until I hit that mark, even if it takes me days. I should call it the 'Anne Readathon.' I am almost done. I managed to read somewhere between 22-23 hours over the course of four days. Ha! Not as impressive as it sounds at first glance, huh? What is the daily average? 5.62-5.75 hours, which is a whole lot more reading per day than I usually do. 

Here is the down of what I accomplished.

Books I started before the readathon and completed during it:

  1. Saving My Enemy: How Two WWII Soldiers Fought Against Each Other and Later Forged a Friendship That Saved Their Lives by Bob Welch. (Print)
    • I had barely started the book before Friday starting from page10. Pages read during readathon: 370.
  2. Dune by Frank Herbert (Audiobook)
    • I'd been listening to the audiobook for a month and was somewhere around page 580 when I started the event. Equivalent pages read/listened to during the event: 310.
  3. The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to Be Happy by Helen Russell. (Print)
    •  I was on page 206 when the event started. Pages completed: 82.
      • Total pages: 762

Books I read in entirety: 

  1. Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. (Print) Pages: 97.
  2. His Day is Done: A Nelson Mandela Tribute by Maya Angelou (Print poetry) Pages: 43.
  3. Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Ray (Print poetry) Pages: 128.
  4. Scribbled in the Dark by Charles Simic (Print poetry) Pages: 72.
  5. I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark (Print poetry) Pages: 112.
  6. We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade (Print children's book) Pages: 40.
      • Total pages: 492

Books I started but didn't complete/progress made:

  1. The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare. (Audiobook). I started the event at 9% now I'm at 52% on the audio settings. Page equivalency: from 33 to 192=159.
  2. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz. (Print). Pages read: 34.
  3. The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka. Pages read: 10.
  4. "Bonnie's Big Day", James Herriot's Treasury for Children (Print children's book). Pages read: 32.
      • Total pages: 235
      • Grand total: 1489
        • That averages to 66 pages per hour, which doesn't sound like that much but listening to audiobooks is much slower than reading, usually around 32-25 pages per hour. (I was going to figure out the adjusted pages per hour if I back them out, but I can't figure out the math. Ha!)

I like to do these 'readathons' when I am feeling swamped by the number of books I have in a queue. Those books tend to call out to me and it can get pretty noisy when there are a lot of books waiting. Even though I finished nine books during the event, I still have five books waiting to be read/finished. Guess I should just keep going!😄

-Anne

Monday, April 26, 2021

TTT: Animals in Literature

 


Top Ten Tuesday: Some of my favorite animals in literature 

(I tried to limit my choices to "real animals" in the books, not stuffed animals or toys)


1. Aslan. The LION in The Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis


2. Fodderwing. A DEER (FAWN) in The Yearling by Marjorie Rawlings


3. Old Dan and Little Ann. RED BONE COONHOUNDS in Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls


4. Enzo. A GOLDEN RETRIEVER in The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.


5. Ralph. A MOUSE in The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary


6. Charlotte and Wilbur. The SPIDER and PIG in Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

7. Mrs. Tiggy Winkle. A HEDGEHOG in The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle by Beatrix Potter. (Actually all of the Beatrix Potter Characters, like Peter Rabbbit and Tom Kitten.)


8. Pantalaimon. Lyra's daemon who settled as a PINE MARTIN when she turned twelve in His Dark Materials series by Philip Pullman.


9. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver. BEAVERS in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis


10. Black Beauty. A HORSE whose father was a THOROUGHBRED in Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


11. Mrs. Frisby. A MOUSE in Mrs. Frisby and Rats of NIMB by Robert O'Brien

12. Crookshanks. Hermione Granger's pet PERSIAN CAT in Harry Potter and the Prisoner's of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.


13. Winn-Dixie. A MUTT DOG in Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.


14. Walter. A BIG DOG-- PART LAB MIX, in The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry.


15. Hedwig. A SNOWY OWL in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.


16. All the CATS (like Old Deuteronomy, Jennyanydots, Mr. Mistofles, Skimbleshanks...) in Old Possum's Book of Magical Cats by T.S. Eliot.

-Anne

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Sunday Salon---a brief update on the past week


I'll be brief.

Weather: It is sunny right now but will be sprinkling in a minute, I'm sure. One of those on and off days.

George Floyd trial: The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was found guilty on all three counts for the murder of Mr. Floyd. A alternate juror said she would have voted guilty because she listened to the testimony of the witnesses. There was no doubt in her mind as to the guilt of  Mr. Chauvin. Praise the Lord. Justice was done.

Waterwalk: (See photo above) We live near the Puget Sound. On nice days/evenings there is nothing so splendid as taking a walk along a series of parks on Rustin Way. We could see Mt. Rainier in the background. Lots of people were strolling, walking dogs, skating, or skateboarding when we joined the throng, most wearing face masks. We sat and ate our fish-n-chips looking out over the Sound where big ocean-going vessels were anchored and small boats of all types could be seen.

Freezer: This week I defrosted the freezer. Big whoop, I know. But oh boy, what a lot of wasted food in there. I found meat and vegetables that had been in there since 2015! I am determined to not do that again, so I am trying an app called AnyList where I can add and subtract inventory. That way I won't keep using the most recent foodstuff and ignore the items that have been in longer. Fingers crossed.

24-hour-readathon: I am participating in a readathon this week-end trying to knock off a bunch of books which have been on my nightstand for too long. Read about my progress here.

Zoom church: Look who joined us for church today---our daughter and her boys. 


-Anne

Friday, April 23, 2021

April Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon


I've decided to participate in the April Dewey's 24-hour readathon this weekend, with modifications:

1. Instead of attempting to read for 24 hours in one day, which would involve staying up all night, I will attempt to read 24 hours during the weekend.

2. I will update my progress on this page, not create separate pages every time I post about my progress. Follow my progress below. I will attempt to update at 6-8 hour intervals.

3. My list of hopefuls:

  • The Only Woman in the Room by Marie Benedict is for an upcoming book club. Print. Current progress 0%.
  • The Girl with the Louding Voice by Dare is for another upcoming book club. Audio. Current progress 9%.
  • Dune by Frank Herbert is my 2021 only reading goal. Audio and or e-book. Current progress 68%.
  • Saving My Enemy by Bob Welch. He has asked me to preview his book. Print. Progress 5%.
  • Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Kafka. My Classics Club spin book. Print. Progress 0%.
  • The Atlas of Happiness by Russell. Progress 75%
  • Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations. Progress 0%
  • I've requested "Grab bag" poetry books from the library, allowing the librarian to surprise me with the selections. I hope to read one or more of these. Print. (See #5 below)

4. Want to join yourself? Here is the linkup spot: Dewey's 24-Hour Readathon  

5. I just got home from the public library. In addition to the books I requested I asked for a 'Grab bag' of poetry books for adults. These are the treasures that were sent home with me:

  1. His Day is Done: A Nelson Mandela Tribute by Maya Angelou
  2. The Ancient Mariner by David Jones
  3. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz 
  4. Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Ray
  5. Scribbled in the Dark by Charles Simic
  6. I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark

First Update: Saturday morning, 9 AM. 

  • Yesterday (and this morning) I figure I read/listened for about six hours worth of reading. Finished: His Day is Done: a Nelson Mandela Tribute; Scribbled in the Dark; We Are Water Protectors; The Atlas of Happiness. Progress made on Dune; Saving My Enemy; Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass.

Second update: Saturday evening, 7 PM. 

  • I had a few unexpected interruptions today, most of them pleasant, that kept me from reading as much as I had hoped. I figure that I managed another 5 hours worth of reading since my last update. Finished:  Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass, Fred Rogers: The Last Interview and Other Conversations, and Dune. Progress made: Saving My Enemy.

Third update: Sunday morning, 9 AM.

  • The family gathered to watch another Academy Award nominated film, The Sound of Metal, last night so I got little reading done after my last update but I got up early and have managed another 2 1/2 -3 hours of reading. Progress made: Saving My Enemy; Postcolonial Love Poem; I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood. I started The Metamorphosis and Other Stories by reading some of the introductory material but found myself not that interested in the minute details of Kafka's writing style so I skipped ahead and began reading the first short story in the collection, "Meditation." My eldest daughter and her young family are visiting us this afternoon so it seems unlikely I will accomplish my goal of reading for 24 hours over the course of three days so I may have to stretch out into Monday.😔

Fourth update: Monday morning, 9 AM.

  • I got little reading done yesterday with a three-year-old and a baby in the house. The whole day I tried to tuck in a little reading here and there and managed to cobble together 3-3 1/2 hours during the last 24-hours. That brings my total reading hours from Friday until today to 17 hours. But I am determined to finish this task of reading for a full 24-hours, even though it is really just reading. Ha! Finished: I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood. Progress made: Saving My Enemy and The Girl with the Louding Voice.

Fifth update: Monday evening, 9 PM.

  • I spent the majority of the day either reading or listening and managed to scrunch in 5 1/2 hours of reading in between life. I will likely read for another 1/2 hour before going to bed, so let's say 6 hours since the last update. That means I managed to read/listen for 23-hours over the past four days. Finished: Saving My Enemy. Progress made: The Girl With the Louding Voice and Postcolonial Love Poem.
 I'll write a wrap-up post tomorrow.

-Anne

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Review and quotes: READY PLAYER TWO


Title:
Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline

Book Beginnings quote: (From the Prologue, called Cutscene):

Friday56 quote: (from page 23, the last page in free preview):

Summary: Ready Player Two picks up nine days after the exciting ending of Ready Player One when Wade (Parcival) and his friends win the James Halliday contest to discover all the Easter Eggs hidden in the OASIS, making them multi-millionaires and in full control of the OASIS. 'The Book Beginnings' quote comes from the prologue where readers discover that on this day Wade learns that Halliday has a few more surprises that he's left behind. One is an ONI headset, which allows users to experience the OASIS straight to their brains, giving experiences a realism not known before, and making the old headsets obsolete. It is ground-breaking. 'The Friday56' quote tells us what we are about to read is an account of what happened after the switch to ONI headsets is made and how things nearly fall apart completely.

Review (with the help of other reviewers): I was a big fan of Ready Player One. I loved the cultural references to everything '80s, even though I'm old so many of them I didn't experience first hand. I also enjoyed the twist on the dystopian novel, where the world is in a sh*tty state, yet there is something that gives people pleasure and fun for a little escape. I felt no need for a sequel. That book wrapped up to my satisfaction and let my imagine determine what would/might happen next. But Cline wanted to cash in his first success, so why not write a sequel? 

Tom Jorgensen, reviewing the book for IGN, offers this thoughts about the differences between RP1 and RP2: 

While just as fantastical as ever, the OASIS proves to be a more exhausting setting this time around. The first novel featured a healthy back-and-forth between the real and virtual worlds, giving us a lot more perspective on how the events in the OASIS were affecting the outside world. Due to the nature of the villain’s plot, and the fact that Wade sadly remains the only POV character in the book, nearly all of the action is locked into the OASIS this time around. That feels like a missed opportunity on two fronts. Not only are the real-world stakes of Wade’s quest massive and worth checking in on with more depth and regularity than they are, Wade continues to be kind of a tough guy to root for...Too often, it feels like Wade hasn’t carried forward any of the lessons about humility and connection he learned in his first adventure. A lot of his faults were more forgivable last time because he was an outsider, a poor kid with a lot to learn about the world and other people. But after that kid’s had a chance to learn those lessons and become one of the wealthiest people on Earth, you’re less inclined to cut him some slack, especially given how often he demonstrates a complete lack of self-awareness.  

I agree. I cut Wade slack in the first book because he was poor and lonely. Now he is rich and, let's admit it, an a**hole. It is hard to root for someone so unlikable. Life inside the OASIS with the ONI headsets is addictive, so the real world is completely falling apart as everyone prefers the imaginary world it provides. It seemed tedious to spend time in the OASIS without really understanding what awaits Wade, and Co. out in the world.

Laura Hudson, reviewing the book for Slate, is very critical of the way that Cline treats women and fun. Here she talks about how Cline missed the opportunity to spread some of the fun around.

The obvious swing at critics might make me feel like a bit of a killjoy, if there were any joy to be had between the front cover and the back. The book doesn’t even understand the criticism: Like Ready Player One, the problem with Ready Player Two isn’t its desire to play in a nostalgic toy box of ’80s movies and books and games, but its total failure to evoke what made them fun. There are no pleasures to be had here, only a reminder of things that once produced pleasure. A random page of dialogue from The Princess Bride does not inspire a sense of romantic, swashbuckling adventure. 

Hudson's review gave voice to my feelings. RP2 seemed to be a rehash of the first book, so I didn't find the delight I found from reading the first.  The novelty of the first wasn't there. If Wade and his friends enjoyed all the 80s memorabilia so much, why weren't the descriptions of their use more fun and exciting? Hudson goes so far to call RP2 a 'horror story' with Wade the biggest villain in the book. I'm not sure I would go that far, especially when I consider what we learn at the end of the book, but, as I said before, Wade is certainly very unlikable.

A teacher friend, KH, who shares my love of quirky books and is another huge fan of RP1, thought the RP2 didn't measure up to its predecessor and doubts she will re-read it like she has the first book. She did enjoy spending time with old friends: Wade, Samantha, Aech, and Og, though. I think she has a fair point. Sometimes we read a sequel because we want to revisit 'old friends' and re-experience the magic.

My daughter, another RP1 fan, and I listened to the audiobook of RP2 together. Doing this we were able to digest and discuss the book in current time instead of waiting to finish it before talking about it with anyone. Wil Wheaton narrated the audiobook for both RP1 and RP2. He is a delight to listen to and that, too, felt like a visit from an old friend. Oddly Carly and I listened to A Beautifully Foolish Endeavor right after RP2. In that book people put on a headset and go into an alternate reality which is so compelling and addictive that real life suffers for it. The juxtaposition of listening to the books one after the other like that was pretty remarkable.

Ultimately I gave the book four stars on Goodreads. That might shock you after what appears to be a fairly negative review. I had to read the book, being such a huge fan of RP1 and I was glad to spend a bit more time with the characters from the first. The ending was a pleasant surprise which probably led to an improved evaluation of the book at the ninth hour!

Have you read it? What did you think? 

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
Th
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.   
 

-Anne