"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=========

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Twelve Best Novels? Take a look. What do you think?

Plus: Top Ten Tuesday Freebie Post (I am off-topic today!)

I stumbled upon this intriguing headline: "Twelve of the Best Books We've Ever Read, Hands Down." Now that is such a teaser I had to click to see if I agreed with their choices. Take a look for yourself at the original posting here.

Here is the list of "The Twelve Best Books" (with a little commentary from me) in reverse order:

12. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  • Why: "[R]eaders can almost picture themselves within the story. The narrative is heartfelt and will stay with readers long after they turn the final page."
  • Me: I haven't read The Sound and the Fury but I read Faulkner's As I Lay Dying and I thought it was awful. Awful. So awful I am hesitant to read anything else by this author.

11. The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery
  • Why: "This short book consists of beautiful symbolism. Everyone can find joy in this story, whether old or young."
  • Me: I agree this is one of the most wonderful little books which should not be missed and must be reread often.

10. The Waves by Virginia Woolf
  • Why: "It is a remarkable novel written masterfully. The voices of all the characters blend and intersect. This emphasizes the fluid identity of humans and their connections."
  • Me: I confess I've never read anything by Virginia Woolf but I want to read Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse. I've never even head of The Waves before. I wonder why this one was picked over her other more famous selections.

9. Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
  • Why: "With the help of Siddhartha’s journey, the writer shows the worth of every individual on earth."
  • Me: My husband has been telling me for years that every man needs to read this book. Now I'm curious if it speaks to women also.

8. Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • Why: "The commentary on humanity’s brutal tendencies shows their indifferent attitude towards nature."
  • Me: I read this in the late 1970s. I barely remember it. I guess it is time for a reread to see if it deserves to be on this list of the twelve best.

7. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Why: "This is a narrative about transition. It consists of everyday family dramas but adds a unique layer of teenage angst...[yet] it manages to maintain sensitivity and respect."
  • Me: I remember being absolutely blown away by this book when I read it. Not sure it is one of the 12 best books of all time, but it is very good.

6. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  • Why: "Adams takes an ordinary guy and tosses him into space. The rest is just an observation of what happens. It is about accepting what life presents you with: patience, humor, and a cup of tea."
  • Me: I love this book. In fact, just the other day the whole family started a conversation about how this book answers the big question of the universe. And it is a number. Ha! Yes, I think this book is one no one should miss.

5. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Why: "Reading this book will alter a person’s view of good and evil. It reshapes readers’ perception of humanity."
  • Me: It took me 10 months to slog my way through this book. By the time I finished I was quite impressed with it but it took me months to get to that point. 

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  • Why: "It captures the essence of the human condition during its most horrific moments."
  • Me: I feel daunted by books written by Russians. They, to my mind, are all so long and complicated. Yet, when I read short stories by the same authors I don't feel that way. I think it is time for me to tackle a book by Tolstoy or Dostoevsky. I admit I do wonder why this book is on the list and not Tolstoy's War and Peace. BUt I haven't read either, so what do I know?

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Why: "The writing in this book is hauntingly poetic and meaningful. Most interestingly, the tale is narrated by no one other than Death himself! "
  • Me: This is a very powerful book with a unique narrator. I was very moved by it.

2. 1984 by George Orwell
  • Why: "This book effectively raises important existential questions all of us should contemplate."
  • We: So many times these days I think we are living the reality of 1984. Read it!

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  • Why: "Out of all of Jane Austen’s works, many consider Persuasion the most mature. It fills the readers with tenderness and longing that becomes a part of them."
  • Me: I love all Jane Austen books and Persuasion is one of my favorites. (It shares the spot in my heart with Pride and Prejudice.)

So what do you think? Are any of these books ones that you think deserve the designation as top twelve books, hands down?

If I were making a list of top books, one by Jane Austen would definitely be on it, but I'd probably prefer Pride and Prejudice. I'd also include a book by Tolstoy (Anna Karenina) and Dickens (Great Expectations) because of their reputations. And of course, something by Toni Morrison. I think Bluest Eye is better than her more famous Beloved because it is more accessible.  I also would include To Kill a Mockingbird and A Handmaid's Tale. I would include some fantasy and Sci-Fi. How about Lord of the Rings and Dune to represent those genres? Though 1984 does fill the Sci-Fi niche and is a good choice, too. I'd also want to include more world lit. Good options would be One Hundred Years of Solitude, Things Fall Apart, and The God of Small Things. The Little Prince is so wonderful, I'd leave it on my list. And I'd round out my list with something directed toward teens or children. How about Charlotte's Web or A Wrinkle in Time? Though The Book Thief is considered a YA novel, so it would be a solid choice for this category, too.

What books would you include on a best books of all time list?

Start a discussion topic at Feed Your Fiction Addiction or It Starts at Midnight


Sunday, April 14, 2024

Sunday Salon -- Leave Only Footprints + Our National Park Odyssey

Sunset as we were hiking out of the Canyon Overlook trail in Zion National Park

We are back from our sixteen day odyssey to visit Utah's five National Parks (Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef) and a vacation with our family.

While on the trip, I read Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton. The book is organized on themes, not alphabetically by park. I thought I'd tell you about our trip using the themes Knighton used in his book. That way I can knock off a book review at the same time as updating you on my life and our trip. I hopscotched around the book, reading the chapters related to the parks we were visiting and then other parks I've visited in the past or would like to visit in the future. My review will jump around, too.

Sunday morning view from the rental house.

Our grandsons enjoying their 'snow day.'

(Chapter 4 -- Capitol Reef, Yosemite, Lake Clark)
     We all arrived at our rented house on Saturday around dinner time. Sunday being Easter we decided to forgo visiting Zion the next day, at least early in the morning, preferring to stay back and attend our Easter Church service remotely, have an egg hunt for the boys, and enjoy checking out the neighborhood. Lucky we'd made these stay-close-to-home plans because we woke up to snow -- six to eight inches of it -- and wouldn't have wanted to travel that day in snow. Instead, we donned what warm clothes we could find and went out to explore the snowy environs.
     This chapter in Leave Only Footprints, explores how spending time in nature can be a very sacred experience, making one feel closer to God. Knighton compared his experiences in the three named parks (listed in chapter 4) with his experiences attending church camp as a teenager. I could relate. As a teenager, I attended summer camp in the Oregon Cascade Mountains every summer. There is something about being in nature that makes one/allows one to feel closer to God.
     We sure felt closer to God and to each other on this special, snowy Easter day. Later in the week, especially during hikes in Zion and at Bryce Canyon in general, I wanted to burst out into song in thanks to God for this tremendous gift of beautiful nature.

A majestic view of the Virgin River running through Zion NP. This serene view is how we all picture nature at our National Parks.

Some of the people at Zion NP: us! This is the end of my favorite hike, taken at dusk -- The Canyon Overlook Trail.

People (Chapter 11 -- Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches)
     Don and I gave our family this trip as a Christmas gift. We rented a big house 30 minutes east of Zion National Park. The house was a perfect fit for our family of seven. It had three bedrooms with attached baths for the adults, and a game room with a pull out bed for Ian and a pack-n-play crib for Jamie who at three doesn't mind scrunching into to sleep.  Don and I made the trip in our EV pickup, the rest of the family flew from Seattle to Las Vegas, rented a car, and drove the 3 1/2 hours to get there.
     In the book, Conor Knighton named the chapter which included three of the Utah parks 'People' because there are so many tourists (read TOO many people) parking is a problem and the serene hikes you envision may end up being more like being in the middle of a mob. We especially experienced this overcrowding in Zion. The first day after our snow day, we didn't all get to the park in time to find a parking place. Don had to park far from the central parking lot and rode the shuttle back to join the family. From that point forward we always made a point of arriving at the parks before 8 AM, if possible, for fear of not finding any parking spots and because the only way up the valley is via shuttles, we didn't want to have to wait for hours in line to catch our ride.
      Several of our hikes in Zion were overcrowded and I found myself often stepping aside so that others could pass me, since I am a slow, plodding hiker and don't like to feel pushed. But even so, the beauty of the place was so awe-inspiring. And it was such a joy to be with our young grandsons who were so exuberant and happy being outdoors.

Don and I and lots of dinosaur skeletons in the Utah Natural History Museum

Mama Desert Bighorn Sheep with her lamb in Zion National Park. Photo by D. Adams.

(Chapter 3 -- Everglades, Channel Islands, Pinnacles, Death Valley)
     It took Don and I several days to make the trek from our home near Seattle to Southern Utah. We stopped one night at my sister's home in Boise, and spent some time in Salt Lake City, while there we visited the Utah Natural History Museum which is stuffed full of dinosaur bones. We had a wonderful afternoon exploring extinct animals. In addition we saw many, many deer (dead and alive) en route, a few pronghorns, a family of desert bighorn sheep, elk, and several chipmunks. Outside of the plethora of deer, I was pretty surprised how few mammals we saw on our trip. We did identify many new birds, however, many that don't live near us like Wild Turkeys and Juniper Titmouses. We thought we saw two California Condors flying overhead as we munched on our daily lunch of peanut butter sandwiches, but on closer inspection I realized they were just Turkey Vultures, very common birds. Wouldn't it have been fun to see Condors, though? These huge scavengers are making a recovery from near extinction and the National Parks are good places for them to live. 
     In the book Knighton talks about how the Channel Islands are home to a special fox and it is thanks to the National Park that those little guys are making a big comeback today.

Rita and her family horsing around at a snowy overlook in Bryce Canyon NP. I sure love all these goofballs.

Carly and I with the Bryce Canyon sandstone hoodoos behind us.

(Chapter 18: Canyonlands, North Cascades)
     Conor Knighton embarked on his year-long crusade to visit all of the US National Parks after his fiance broke up with him months before their planned wedding. He was hurt and angry. In this chapter he talks about how he found love and friendship on his journeys, and eventually healing. At one point while hiking in the North Cascades he met and dated a woman several times before realizing that the relationship wasn't special. He wanted "a national park kind of love. Something that felt different and special compared with everything else surrounding it" (228).
     I experienced love from my family as they would help me on the hikes by staying close to me in case I needed a hand up or a shoulder to help my way down. Knighton mentioned and we experienced the collegiality of hikers in greeting one another and offering encouragement and advice. I sure experienced the encouragement from others: "You can do it. This is not a race. Go slow and you'll make it." "You go girl." Or, "The best path is to the right and you'll be there in ten minutes." It is rare that anyone receives this kind of encouragement and support as you pass them on a city street. Ha!

This is the beautiful picnic spot we found during our visit to Arches NP. Unfortunately it was too windy and cold to enjoy an outdoor picnic and after a few minutes of trying to eat and enjoy nature at the same time, we retreated to the truck to finish our meal.

(Chapter 19: Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, Cuyahoga Valley)
     Everyone needs to eat but sometimes, in fact lots of times, national parks aren't anywhere near to an easy source of food. The ranger at the Gates of the Arctic NP, for example, has to buy all of his food ahead of traveling to his work station and has no easy source of food if any of his supplies run out. Now we weren't in the Arctic, obviously, but the home where we stayed wasn't anywhere near a store or a restaurant. So we purchased all the food we needed for our stay in the town of St. George, Utah before we arrived. Everyday before heading out on our day's adventure we'd make up a lunch of peanut butter and jam sandwiches, cut apples, carrot sticks, and veggie straw chips. We carried water and granola bars with us as we hiked. We shared the responsibility of preparing dinner for the group each night. Don and I carried on the same tradition after the family returned home at week's end of preparing lunch each day before setting out to visit a park each day.  
Don at the trailhead of one of our many hikes in Arches NP. We were particularly aware of the diversity of races and nationalities in this park because we had a timed entry to the park so we found ourselves traveling to the many scenic sights with the same people all day.

Arches was the first park we visited after the rest of our family returned home. As retirees Don and I weren't on a time schedule. Our kids were. We wore ourselves out this day hiking over 20,000 steps. Most of the arches landmarks can't be seen from the road.

Diversity (Chapter 21: Mount Rainier, Shenandoah)    
     While hiking on Mt. Rainier, Conor Knighton, came upon a Black woman guide. It hit him that he had not seen many Blacks on his travels through any of the national parks. The woman confirmed that that is the case. There is a lop-sided number of Whites in the population who utilize tha parks and she is hoping to do something about this. I thought of this chapter often as we hiked through the five parks we visited because I think it isn't correct. There may be a lack of diversity from within the US but there certainly is a huge diversity at the national parks from around the world. One couldn't take a step without overhearing a plethora of world languages, many of which we had no idea what they were. We, of course, heard a lot of the Germanic, Spanish, and French languages. Those are the ones we recognized. But many of the visitors were from all parts of Asia: Indian subcontinent, East Asia, Russia, Japan...we don't know where since we couldn't identify the languages. It seems like the national parks are our best tourism draws. We may not have old cathedrals but we've got The Grand Canyon and Yosemite. Take that, Europe!

Rita and Jamie playing on the floor of the rental house east of Zion.

(Chapter 22: Isle Royale, Olympic, Virgin Islands)
     Our national parks vacation was certainly a time of disconnecting -- from politics, church business, work, school, bills and other responsibilities -- but it was also a time of connection with our family and each other. Don figured out that we spent 65 hours in the truck together alone! That's a lot of time with one person, even if you love them. My parents used to rent houses for our family vacations and have continued this tradition even to this day, allowing the next generation and the next to enjoy time with cousins and siblings we might not see otherwise. I hope our children and their families will remember our holiday together, where we disconnected from the rest of the world and enjoyed spending time together in nature.

I really enjoyed reading Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton. But I would not recommend this book if you are looking for a guide to the Utah National Parks. You know the kind of book I'm referring to? The kind of guide tells you about the best trails, where to find accommodations, and where to park. This is not that kind of book.

Love (reprise)
     Don and I stopped to spend a night going and coming with my sister and her family in Idaho. I am so grateful for their hospitality and loved the evening we spent together with them and our nephews and their significant others. Family love is the best. Thank you, Grace and Rock!

Highlights/favorites from each park:
ZION: Everything about Zion NP is stunning. My favorite hike was the Canyon Overlook Trail. We found a spot to park among the limited places and hiked late in the day, just before dusk. (Pictured: my daughters and grandson, Ian.)

BRYCE CANYON: Don, Dan (S.I.L) and Ian took a hike among the sandstone hoodoos. They all reported how wonderful this hike was and the guide we consulted said it was one of the best hikes in the nation. (Pictured: Don and Ian holding hands among the hoodoos.) My daughters and younger grandson, Jamie, and I went for a hike around the rim. But the snow was high and prevented easy passage or we found a lot of mud in the melt.

ARCHES: This park has so many highlights it is hard to pick one. (Pictured: Don approaching the North Window arch.)

CANYONLANDS: The views were all spectacular.

CAPITOL REEF: My favorite was the hike we took in the Capitol Reef Gorge. It was breathtakingly beautiful but I also loved the huge, old cottonwood trees, one is named the Mail Tree due to its proximity to where the mail was delivered. We lunched under these huge trees. They are not in leaf yet. 

And a bonus park:
Mudstone hoodoos

Goblin Valley Utah State Park. It is the setting of one of our favorite movies: Galaxy Quest.

Books: I finished two additional print books besides Leave Only Footprints. (Watch for a post about all these books and audiobooks this coming week):
  • Dark Testaments: Blackout Poems by Crystal Simone Smith
  • No Cure for Being Human by Kate Bowler
Audiobooks finished during the trip:
  • The Fraud by Zadie Smith
  • Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
  • Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig
Currently reading/listening to:
  • West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge (a book club selection I postponed listening to during the trip)
  • When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur (a poetry month selection)
  • Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow (We finished about a quarter of the book on the last leg of our drive home. Now Don and I will have to find time to finish it when we aren't in the car.)

Funny signs seen inside/just outside the national parks:
This handmade sign just outside of Canyonlands.

Lucky we were paying attention because moments after seeing the sign, there they were, cows on the road.

Inside Capitol Reef we were warned to be on the lookout for marmots crossing the road.

Since we are finally back from our big vacation, our daughter finally is moving out and into the townhome she bought over a month ago. I need to sign off and go help her batch up all her stuff. Have a good week!


Thursday, April 11, 2024

Review: DARK TESTAMENT (+ Friday56 sign-in)

Dark Testament: Blackout Poems by Crystal Simone Smith

Book Beginnings quote:

Friday56 quote:

Summary: A skillful, timely, and dazzling repurposing of passages into poems from George Saunders' novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. The middle section is of full-color photo-inserts which commemorates victims of unlawful killings with these photo memorials.

Review: I loved Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo which is a novel about individuals living in the bardo, that space between life and death, unable or unwilling to transition on after death. One of those individuals is Lincoln's son who died while he was in office. It was after his son's death that Lincoln found the courage and the compassion to stand up against slavery.

This book full of blackout or erasure poems, is a masterful memorial for Blacks who were killed because of their skin color. Most poems were powerful and thought-provoking. I recommend it as a good reading choice this April, poetry month.

Sign up for The Friday56 on the Inlinkz below. 

As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7th she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. Help me communicate with past participants so they can figure out where and how to find me, please post this post's URL on your blog. Don't forget to drop a comment on my post also! Thanks.

Also visit Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader and First Line Friday hosted by Reading is My Super Power to share the beginning quote from your book.


*Grab a book, any book
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
(If you want to improvise, go ahead!)
*Find a snippet, but no spoilers!
*Post it to your blog and add your url to the Linky below. If you do not add the specific url for your post, we may miss it!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Monday, April 8, 2024

TTT Freebie: Books I Want to Read Set In or About U.S. National Parks

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I want to read which are set in or about U.S. National Parks

I am currently on a road trip attempting to visit the five U.S. National Parks in the State of Utah. So far we've visited four: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, and Canyonland. Tomorrow, God willing, we will visit Capitol Reef before turning our car toward home. After perusing a list of books put together by the NYC Public Library highlighting books about National Parks, I decided to create my own TBR list. (* means the book is on that list and the blurb is from the NYC library catalog.)


1. The Power of Scenery: Frederick Law Olmsted and the Origin of National Parks by Dennis Drabelle *

With nothing to put up against Europe’s cultural pearls—its cathedrals, castles, and museums—Americans in the pre-Yellowstone era came to realize that their plentitude of natural wonders might compensate for the dearth of manmade attractions. The Power of Scenery tells the fascinating story of how the national park movement arose, evolved, and has spread around the world.  

2. Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton *

A CBS Sunday Morning correspondent presents a behind-the-scenery look at his year traveling to each of America’s National Parks, which turned out to be the road trip of a lifetime that changed his views on everything from God and love to politics and technology. I am currently over half way finished with this book and have enjoyed the insights I've gained.

3. Wild Rescues: A Paramedic's Extreme Adventures in Yosemite, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton by Kevin Grange *

A fast-paced, firsthand glimpse into the exciting lives of paramedics who work with the National Park Service: a unique brand of park rangers who respond to medical and traumatic emergencies in some of the most isolated and rugged parts of America.

4. Lassoing the Sun: A Year in America's National Parks by Mark Woods *

On the eve of his fiftieth birthday, a reporter from Florida embarks on a year-long trip to visit America's national parks, creating a story about family, the parks, and legacies.

5. 63 Illustrated National Parks: WIth Original Poster Art by Anderson Design Group by Joel Anderson and Nathan Anderson

I purchased this book in the Zion National Park Visitor Center. I love these old-timey-like posters of the National Parks and hope to enjoy reading about each.

6. Subpar Parks: America's Most Extraordinary National Parks and Their Least Impressed Visitors by Amber Share

This humorous and informative book combines two things that seem like they might not work together yet somehow harmonize perfectly: beautiful illustrations and informative, amusing texts celebrating each national park paired with the one-star reviews disappointed tourists have left online.


7. The Wild Inside by Christine Carbo *
A special agent for the Department of the Interior, Ted Systead, investigates a murder in Glacier National Park where a victim was tied to a tree and mauled by a grizzly bear.

8. The Anna Pigeon Mystery Series by Nevada Barr *
Barr, a former ranger for the National Park Service, has written 19 books following park ranger Anna Pigeon as she solves mysteries set in the wilderness of the National Parks. The first in the series is Track of the Cat—Anna is looking for peace in the wilderness—and finds murder instead. 

9. Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde *
Burned-out teacher August Schroeder takes the ashes of his nineteen-year-old son on a road trip to Yellowstone and along the way meets two half-orphans who have nowhere to go.

10. Temple Grove: A Novel by Scott Elliott

Olympic National Park is the setting of this eco-fiction novel that The Seattle Times praises for the way it “layers suspense with Greek myth, native legend, and personal backstories to create an existentialist puzzle” and “offers nuanced observations of character, family and society, lightly seasoned with a Pacific Northwest brand of magical realism.” Set in my state.

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

Thursday, April 4, 2024


Title: The Fraud by Zadie Smith

Book Beginning quote: 
A filthy boy stood on the doorway. He might be scrubbed of all that dirt, eventually -- but not of so many orange freckles. No more than fourteen, with skinny, unstable legs like a marionette, he kept pitching forward, shifting soot into the hall. Still, the woman who'd opened the door -- easily amused, susceptible to beauty -- found she couldn't despise him.
Friday56 quote: 
"If poor Lady Tichborne said this man is her son, who are we to disagree?"

Summary: Based on real-life events and people, The Fraud is Zadie Smith's first historical novel.

"The Tichborne Trial" had all of Britain enthralled in 1873-4. The trial took 188 court days and established that Thomas Castro aka Arthur Orton (the claimant) was not the heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. He was indeed a fraud. But his trial brought out Orton fans, mostly among lower class, who were willing to set aside facts to remain devoted to his cause. The strongest testimony for Arthur Orton's case is a freed slave, Andrew Bogle, who gives a compelling and dignified account. One witness to the court proceedings is Eliza Touchet, a cousin of a third-rate author, William Ainsworth. Through her association with her cousin, Mrs. Touchet meets many other authors, including Charles Dickens. She think he is a bully and a moralist. She is also involved in organizations for abolition and wonders at the horrors associated with colonializations. 

Review: If the summary makes the book sound complicated, you are correct. Author Zadie Smith tries to cram a lot into her historical novel. Not only is the Tickborne Trial details complicated enough but we learn the backstory of William Ainsworth and his cousin-in-law, Eliza Touchet, in sketches that reach back in time. It is both confusing and too much -- too many characters, too many details, too many times that the story looks back. My husband and I did realize that Smith was making some political parallels to today with Trump fans dismissing all of his crimes and foibles and loving him even when all the factual evidence points against him. 

To add to the confusion, Zadie Smith narrated her own audiobook, and though she did well with the Scottish accent, it was not perfect for us Yanks to listen to especially with car noise in the background (we were listening on a road trip.) At some point both my husband and I gave up trying to keep all the details straight and just listened to get the gist of the story. Not an ideal way to consume a book. Andrea Long Chu, writing a review for Vulture, said that Zadie Smith has "lost her teeth," playing around with the title of Smith's first (and best?) book, titled White Teeth. This is my first Zadie Smith novel. I haven't given up on her but think I should reach back and try one of her earlier novels.

After finishing up The Fraud my husband and I started playing another audiobook. It was a long road trip, after all. And guess what? We couldn't stand it. After less than an hour of listening we stopped the new book realizing that the writing wasn't anywhere near the quality of Smith's book. Ha! So I concluded that The Fraud was not my favorite novel but Zadie Smith sure can write!

Sign up for The Friday56 on the Inlinkz below. 

As many of you know Freda over at Freda's Voice hosted #Friday56 for many years. On September 7th she told us she was going through some personal stuff and could no longer host. I've attempted to reach her but have had no reply. So I will host The Friday56 until she comes back. Help me communicate with past participants so they can figure out where and how to find me, please post this post's URL on your blog. Don't forget to drop a comment on my post also! Thanks.

Also visit Book Beginnings on Friday hosted by Rose City Reader and First Line Friday hosted by Reading is My Super Power to share the beginning quote from your book.


*Grab a book, any book
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your e-reader
(If you want to improvise, go ahead!)
*Find a snippet, but no spoilers!
*Post it to your blog and add your url to the Linky below. If you do not add the specific url for your post, we may miss it!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter



Tuesday, April 2, 2024

TTT: Rain-themed Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Rain Theme.
All my inspirations came from you today. I couldn't think of any rain-related books except the three I mentioned on my weather-related TTT post last October. (See it here.)

Here are books you mentioned that I'd like to try or have forgotten about and want to thank you for the reminder:

1. Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco -- This was a family favorite when my children were young. I met the author/illustrator at a library event and ended up reading tons of books she illustrated. (Recommended by Plucked From the Stacks)

2. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Brooks -- This is one of the three books I found for my weather post. I read it many years ago and cried. It is so sweet. (The Book Haze recommends.)

3. Cloud Atlas by Anthony Doerr -- No clouds, no rain, right? I absolutely fell in love with this complicated story about a codex, not rain. (Recommended by Reader Buzz.)

4. Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King -- This is a dark mystery but there is a scene at the beginning which involves a rainy storm and there is an umbrella on the cover. (Thanks Dini Panda Reads for the reminder.)

5. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene -- The cover shows a very rainy setting. I am not sure if the plot includes rain, but I do want to read something by this classic author. (Thanks Books Please.)

6. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford -- The cover has two umbrellas on it. The story is very sad, and we all know that rain stands for sadness. I have visited this very hotel in Seattle. (Read Bake Create recommends.)

7. The Book Lover's Bucket List by Caroline Taggart -- Get it? Buckets of rain! This one sounds like it is right up my alley. (Lady in Read Writes recommended this book which I haven't read.)

8. The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese -- I'd forgotten that there is a huge rain storm in the book of which water is a big theme. This storm knocks out communication and roads. (Thanks for the reminder Portobello Book Blog!)

9. Scattered Showers by Rainbow Rowell -- I haven't read this book but I adore this author. (Good Catch. All the Books I Can Read.)

10. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware -- Another book I haven't read but it is on a lot of lists today I'm sure because the cover is clearly taken during a rainstorm. (I saw this on lots of lists but started with That Artsy Reader Girl.)

Thanks for your help everyone!

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Sunday Salon -- Easter 2024

View from the condo where we are staying at Zion. We woke up to a wintery wonderland.

Weather: We are in Zion, Utah. It is snowing.

Easter Sunday Communion elements

Church on TV, legos for Jamie, coffee and jammies for us.

Easter: Happy Easter. We celebrated today by watching the live-feed from our home church service, which included communion. We had a bottle of wine open, so why not participate? The boys had a little egg hunt inside.

The view of the red rocks while we waited for our turn in the tunnel. The sky is giving us a warning of weather (snow) to come.

Zion National Park: We all drove through the park yesterday to get to our "cabin" (which is nicer than our house) but we didn't stop. We're here all week and will return to explore it up close. But we did take a few shots out the window.

Muggin' for the camera. I asked Ian to look up. I didn't mean look that far up.

Fun: We are vacationing with our whole family (seven of us) here in Zion. We also hope to visit Bryce Canyon National Park if the weather cooperates. Today, though, we stuck close to home and went on an adventure in the snow. The boys are delighted with the snow and love their hilarious wet weather suits.

Don and I and long-dead dinosaurs at the Utah Natural History Museum. We really enjoyed the special exhibit they are hosting right now about Jane Goodall.

Traveling in an EV:
This is our first long trip in our EV. We are learning that we have to adjust travel time and be patient if we have to wait our turn to charge but by-in-large it has been a fun experience. While we charge we have listened to our audiobooks on our portable speaker so we aren't draining the battery while we are trying to charge it up. We spent one night at my sister's home in Boise (Thank you), two nights in Salt Lake City, where we went to an organ concert in the Mormon Tabernacle, and visited the Natural History Museum. What a lovely setting.

We've finished two audiobooks: 
  • The Fraud by Zadie Smith, the author's first historical fiction and not a personal favorite. 
  • Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz, the second book in the Susan Ryland series. 
       I've also finished two print books: 
  • Dark Testament: Black Poems by Crystal Simone Smith. The book is made up of erasure poems using the text from Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. Very clever and moving.
  • No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) by Kate Bowler. A moving memoir about her life after a cancer diagnosis.
       I'm currently reading:
  • Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knightley. The book is organized by themes so I am bopping around trying to read up on the parks we hope to visit on this trip or ones we've recently visited. 
  • When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur. This book is a mixture of poems, essays, illustrations.
Smile Network: Biden's Greatest Achievements So Far Sometimes it seems like the news is only about the bad stuff politicians are doing. Read this if you want to feel good about what Biden has done so far.

And just for laughs:

Happy Easter. Have a good week!