"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 29, 2024

TTT: Petty Reasons I DNF Some Books

Top Ten Tuesday: Petty Reasons I Did Not Finish (DNF) Some Books

  1. Cybils Judging -- This is actually not a petty reason for not finishing a book and the vast majority of the books I didn't finish fall into this category. As a Cybils judge we are sometimes expected to read over 200 books in 6-8 weeks. I don't read that many books in a year usually so it is impossible to judge all the books by reading every word. Usually I will read at least 50-100 pages, enough to get a good idea of writing and the subject/plot before setting it aside and moving on. Example: Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright: An Animal Poem for Each Day of the Year edited by Fiona Waters. I actually love this huge, tome of a poetry book and hope to finish it someday but I had to leave off with the March or April poems because I had so many other books to read.
  2. Self-Published -- I actually hate reading self-published books so I have to be tricked into reading them by the authors themselves or my mother's needling, if it is one of her friend's books. Example: Civil Rights Lawyers in the South: The Untold Story by Lawrence Aschenbrenner. 
  3. Short Story Collections Where Two or More Stories Don't Capture My Imagination -- I actually like reading short stories. I know a lot of people don't. But if a collection has several stories in the beginning which don't capture my imagination, I will usually set it aside. Example: Uncommon Type: Stories by Tom Hanks.
  4. Nonfiction Books Where I've Read the YA or Adult Version Already -- Sometimes I find myself being asked to read the YA version of an adult nonfiction book I've already read or the exact opposite, and I find I usually can't muster the effort to read the opposite version, no matter how well written. This just happened to me with Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Kimmerer. I read the YA version (the whole thing) for Cybils then couldn't make myself read the adult version for book club.
  5. Library Due Date Looming -- I like to use public libraries for my reading material but sometimes I just can't finish books before the due dates. If I am close to finishing a print book, I may decide to pay the fine in order to complete i before turning it int. But if it is an e-book or audiobook, those guys just return themselves without a goodbye. Then I have to remember to get the book back and sometimes I don't bother. Example: White Teeth by Zadie Smith.
  6. The Font is Too Small -- This is probably the most petty of all petty reasons. But sometimes I find the font in books, especially in some graphic novels, too small or the lettering too odd and I just don't feel like struggling to read the words. Example: Malcolm X: A Graphic Biography by Andrew Helfer.
  7. Gratuitous Swearing or Anger -- I don't mind some swearing or violence in books. I'm not a prude. But if a book is full of a gratuitous level of either I will likely set the book aside, or actually fling the book away from me. Example: A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.
  8. Gratuitous or Overly Descriptive Sex -- I made up my mind long ago that since I feel uncomfortable reading graphic descriptions of the sex act in books I can set the books aside and not finish them if I want. Example: Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
  9. Outdated Nonfiction Topics -- I find that a lot of my nonfiction reading selections relate to what is happening now, like in politics. If I delay reading them I may find them no longer relevant and will abandon them mid-book or before. Example: Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin's War on America and the Election of Donald Trump by Michael Isakoff. This is not actually outdated since the upcoming trial with Jack Smith will be partly on this topic, but at the time I finally picked it up I was done thinking about it.
  10. Poorly written/Boring/Not for Me -- One would think that this category would be the main reason I don't finish books but not so. Once started I usually finish books, but I may moan and groan along the way. However, sometimes I just can't make myself finish due to poor writing or the topic. This was especially true during the COVID-19 lockdowns. I tossed books aside left and right that year.  Example: Scout's Honor by Lily Anderson... a YA book about monster catchers. Topic not for me.
How about you? Why do you not finish books you've started?


Friday, April 26, 2024

Wrapping up National Poetry Month with Five Short Reviews

For the first time in my memory, I actually prepared myself a head of time for National Poetry Month. Back in mid-March I sat down with my several lists of award-winning poetry books and other volumes I've had my eye on for several years. I requested what the library had available from their catalog listings. Six books arrived before we left for our National Parks tour of Utah. I toted the poetry books along with me is a bag crammed with books. Fortunately all of the poetry books were the small, paperback versions.

All month long I have spent a bit of time each day digging into poetry collections and immersing myself in their verses. Here are my reviews.

suddenly we by Evie Shockley. The front flap describes this collection as a "collective dreaming of a more capacious 'we.' But how do we navigate between the urgency of our own becoming and the imperative insight that whoever we are, we are in relation to each other?" And the sections are titled with thoughts about "we" too. For example, section 1 is "we :: becoming & going" and 2 is "we :: uppity & down." Even the titles play with our understanding and uses of language. But before these "we" sections begin, Shockley treats her readers to "alma's arkestral vision (or, farther out)" where she plays with shape poems and words in general.  Here is one example from this section:  


I wasn't always able to follow the organization or who each poem was about but generally it felt like this book was full of dedications to strong and possibly wronged Black women. For example, eleven poems with female names were together under the heading "the beauties: third dimension." As a prose reader I often war with myself when I read poetry, wanting to know "the rest of the story" when I read something that seems like it is part of a story. I often hear myself asking, "Is this poems about abuse? Is this part of the poet's story or is she just writing about universal phenomenons?"

My favorite poem in the collection was one I could really relate to since it was about the COVID pandemic lockdowns. It is called "pantoum 2020." Before I could fully appreciate this poem I had to look up what pantoum meant. It is a poem of any length with four-line stanzas, the second and fourth line of the first stanza serve as the first and third lines of the second stanza. It is the ultimate 'we' poem since we all lived through these experiences together and yet alone. Here are the first two stanzas so you get the idea of the form:

who could have predicted this?
                    year of unyielding busyness giving way
         to days of utter stillness & bewilderment,
                              streets so quiet they invite coyotes' return.

                   year of unyielding busyness giving way 
to dread & longing for another's touch. 
                             streets so quiet they invite coyotes' return,
          vehicles parked beneath clearing skies...

 I do recommend suddenly we and rated it 4.25 stars.
suddenly we by Evie Shockley. Wesleyan University Press, Middletown, CT. 2023. 106 pages. 2023 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.   

When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur.   
The poems in the first of the three sections were so raw and touching. I was really touched by them...feeling for sure the poet had lived some terrible traumas to write such raw and aching verses. An example from a poem in this section:

i'm trying to settle into my body
feel comfortable inside its walls
stay long enough to decorate each room
sit at peace within me

i'm trying to come home to myself
                                      I really am

Then the second section, turned short story, with no heads up, left me scratching my head. In comparison, the two parts were night and day. I had no idea what was happening or even what the author was trying to do. I almost set the book aside. 

The third section returned to the poetry. But this poetry wasn't as good or as thoughtful as that in the first section.

I finally figured out the format:
-Section one: Sikh girl is traumatized by many life events. At the top of the list is being female in a patriarchal society.
-Section two: Girl leaves the Punjab region of India/Pakistan, travels to Canada to have a baby. She is not married. Time jump; second part of the this section is dedicated to the baby who is now a teenage daughter.
-Section three: The poetry is now in the voice of the daughter and she struggles with teen issues and worries about her mother's immigration status.

The book had me for the first section but the 2nd and 3rd sections weren't as well written or just left me confused and wanting some direction. I think the poems in the first section are so good, so angsty, or hard-hitting this book would be perfect for a collection of poetry for teens at a public or a high school library. (The target audience is clearly YA.) An astute librarian could warn readers about the abrupt shift in the second section. My rating: 3 stars.

When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur.  Harper/Collins. 2019. 244 pages. 2019 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Poetry.

The Kissing of Kissing: Poems
by Hannah Emerson
I pretty much had my mind blown by The Kissing of Kissing. I didn't read the back of the book, the author bio, or the information about multiverse language until I read the first three poems and I thought something is going on here. 

What a treat to be welcomed into the brain and the thought-patterns of a non-speaking autistic poet. I set aside what I have in terms of preconceived notions about language and just enjoyed the process.

If I had bothered to read the summary I would have been more prepared for the delightful experience ahead of me: "In this remarkable debut, which marks the beginning of Multiverse—a literary series written and curated by the neurodivergent—Hannah Emerson’s poems keep, dream, bring, please, grownd, sing, kiss, and listen. They move with and within the beautiful nothing (“of buzzing light”) from which, as she elaborates, everything jumps" (Publisher).

from "Kissing Tendril Mind":

Please get that you get
that freedom is yearning
to grow yes yes yes. Please
get that kissing mind needs us
to kiss knowledge yes yes. Please

get that knowledge is the light
of the heart yes yes...

Highly recommend. 5 stars.

The Kissing of Kissing by Hannah Emerson. Milkweed Editions. 2022. 96 pages. 

Serenity: Poems
by F.S. Yousaf. "Soft spoken yet powerful, Serenity perfectly captures the constant battle of fear and courage that lives within us."

I sensed a lot of insecurity in the first poems. A sort of  'I love you, do you love me' type. I fatigued rather quickly of the roller-coaster, emotional ride these short poems took me on. In fact, I was ready to abandon the book. But I pushed on. The poems in the last section, "Tranquility", were the best. The poet has come to the realization that he alone is in charge of his feelings and will not cede this power to another person in the future. The last poem of the collection was my favorite:

...Grow independently, figure yourself out --
examine every crack and layer beneath,
confront every shadow you hold, ask yourself
why it calls you home.

Do not go back the same person
you once were.

My rating: 3 stars.

Serenity: Poems by F.S. Yousaf. Andrew McMeel Publishing. 2022. 144 pages. 2022  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Poetry.  

by Saskia Hamilton. "Judgment is suspended as the poems and lyric fragments make an inventory of truths that carry us through night’s reckoning with mortal hope into daylight" (Publisher).

Almost all the poetry collections I read this month were divided into sections or chapters. Usually the poems in one section would grab me more than the others. I imagine the poet thought through this and decided to lump together themed poems, or intentionally wrote poems on a theme. The first section, Faring, tells the story of a mother who is preparing to leave her young son due to cancer. The poems are told without sentimentality, though I am crying even to remember them. 

Raising a child not a reader. Readers are scattered in families like wildflower seed. One or two in a generation (24).

Saskia Hamilton incorporates little snatches or snippets of other poets' works into her own, examining them for their truthfulness.  The publisher refers to these as 'lyric fragments.' My husband, looking over my shoulder as I read, asked, "How is that poetry?" I don't know, but I liked it.

Late in the season, eating a pear
that is the memory of a pear, ...
mealy now, late season, fragrant
of September and sun (37).

The last section, Museum Going, contained the least-like poems in the collection and more like little notes-to-self about the experience of going to museum and having experiences with art. Once again, I struggled a bit and wished the publishers had included photos to enrich my experience. But then I realized I can go to the internet myself. I don't need permission to do that.

Of all the books I read this month. I would be least likely to recommend All Souls to other poetry readers only because the form is so different, so unpoetry-like. But I enjoyed my experience with it and rate the book with 4 stars.

All Souls: Poems by Saskia Hamilton. Graywolf Press. Minnesota, MN. 87 pages. 2023 National Book Critics Circle Nominee for Poetry.

Dark Testament: Blackout Poems
by Crystal Simone Smith. (I reviewed this book separately here) My rating: 5 stars.

And, that's a wrap folks. Thanks for sticking with me through this long-ish post about poetry.


Thursday, April 25, 2024


West With Giraffes by Lynda Rutledge

Book Beginnings quote (from Prologue): 
Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes, one that didn't kick me dead and one that saved my worthless orphan life, and your worthy, precious one.
Friday56 quote:
Because if ever I could claim to have seen the face of God, it was in the colossal faces of those giraffes.
Summary: This summary piece from the back of the book was so good I thought I'd snip it out so you could see and read it instead of writing a similar summary myself:

Review: I've seen this book on the blogosphere for several years and was delighted when my book group selected it for our April meeting. I didn't know at the time of selection that the story of two giraffes making their way across the country by truck in 1938 was based on an actual event. Though the book is a novel, with made up characters, it is based on fact and some of the people mentioned in the book were real. One prominent person who really lived was the first female Head Zookeeper, Bell Jennings Benchley, of the San Diego Zoo.

All the gals in the book club loved the book saying that it struck the exactly right tone. It told two stories really. The first and obvious story was the trip of the giraffes who started their journey very precariously by being trapped aboard a ship when a hurricane hit off the East Coast of the USA. The second story was the story of the dust bowl and the Great Depression. Woody Nickel was a dust bowl orphan who was just trying to get to California, when he was tapped to drive the giraffes across the country with a zookeeper. Stories about people's lives during such desperate times emerged as they made their way from state to state aiming for San Diego. Headlines taken from newspapers served as chapter dividers so that readers could get a feel for how much energy and excitement these two, rare beast caused in the lowdown lives of people along the way.

Unfortunately for me I decided to listen to the audiobook and didn't have a print copy to switch to when I found the audio recording to be too much -- too loud, too dramatic, and almost always at a level 10. The narrator, Danny Campbell, sounded like he was 100+ years old. His voice honestly sounded super old. It was a good choice since Woody Nickel was 105 at the time and writing down reflections of his trip and life. But it was just tough listening to the voice for the 12 hours it took to finish the book. Oh well. I survived. My book club friends all made fun of me since I always brag about how good the audiobook was each month. This month I had the opposite experience and had to complain about how bad it was. 

I truly loved the ending. I was blubbering big, wet tears. It wrapped up almost perfectly.

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 22, 2024

TTT: Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon

Top Ten Tuesday: Unread Books on My Shelves I Want to Read Soon

Books given to me: Books others have given to me always scream the loudest to be read next. Unfortunately these three must be hoarse by now as they've all been on my shelves for several years.
  • The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu. My husband gave me this book as a Christmas gift. He selected it off my Amazon Wish List. Bless his heart. Now if I'd only bother to read it.
  • The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. My sister gave me this book for my birthday. I'm not sure if she read it first. I'm afraid to ask, not wanting to draw attention to the fact I haven't read it yet.
  • If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais. My mother gave me this used book which I gave her after we both read the first book in the series, Hum If You Don't Know the Words. Honestly, I should pass this print book on and just listen to the audio version of it. I guess I keep it as a reminder to do just that.
Books I purchased new: I honestly don't often buy new books. If I do it is usually because I am committed to reading the books in good time. Well, these two books missed that memo and have been sitting around on my shelves for longer than I wish to confess.
  • Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach. I have enjoyed every Mary Roach book I've read (Gulp; Stiff; and Grunt) but I can never seem to get any purchase on this one and I've tried several times. Once again I should just admit it and seek the audiobook.
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene H. Peterson. A devotional book by the author of The Message version of the Bible. I admire his religious insights. I'm moving this book to the top of the list. If I finish it, I will donate it to the church library.
Books I purchased used: I have library cards for three library systems -- Puyallup City Library (where I live); Pierce County Library (which has reciprocity with Puyallup); King County Library (a nearby neighboring county which also has reciprocity with Puyallup.) All three of the branches I go to have little library stores where they sell donated or weeded-out books for cheap ($.50-3.00). Everytime I visit a library I stop off to see if they have any copies of books I want to read, or books I think my mother would enjoy. All of these books were purchased this way.
  • Edna St. Vincent Millay. Collected Sonnets: I bet this book cost me $.50. My problem is I don't know how to read sonnets in the right rhythm therefore I don't enjoy this form much.
  • Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn. I've enjoyed two other books by this author and know I will enjoy this one, too, but it is so long. How do I begin?
  • The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I loved the first book in this series, The Shadow of the Wind. This is a recent pick-up for me, less than a month old.
  • The Known World by Edward P. Jones. When I get around to reading this Pulitzer Prize winner I will have completed my goal to read all the past winners from the 21st Century. Maybe the audio version would work better for me. Less daunting.
  • Love and Friendship: In Which Jane Austen's Lady Susan Vernon is Entirely Vindicated by Whit Stillman. Another very recent addition to my used pile. I do love Jane Austen and usually enjoy read-alikes of her characters. We'll see what I think of this one soon. Lady Susan is not a character I know well.
  • Little Bear's Visit by Else Holmelund Minarik. This was a find. A first edition of the the Little Bear series illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Someone bought the book used for $30 then donated it the library for resale and I got it for $5. Little Bear's Adventure (I mistakenly photographed this book instead of Little Bear's Visit in the above photo, so I've attached a separate photo of this book) was the first book I ever received as a child and one of the few I saved. I thought I'd read this with my grandson but it hasn't happened yet.
What about you? Name a book you've had sitting on your shelves unread.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Sunday Salon ... TULIPS!

Tulip hearts

Weather: Overcast and cool. The current weather blew into our area yesterday afternoon with quite a strong blast. It had been warm and beautiful for the days preceding it.

Tulips: Don and I drove to the Skagit Valley, two hours north of us toward Canada, to gawk at the tulips this past Friday. The skies were so clear we could see all the peaks in the North Cascades mountain range, including Mt. Baker. We could also see the Olympic Mountain range to the west of us as we drove north. There were scads of people at the tulip fields. All of us were flocking to see the beautiful flowers, jostling for the best positions for photos.  And now without further ado, here are a few of the photos to give you an idea of our experience.

The lone white tulip

Mt. Baker behind the foothills.

Good advice.

Books and blogging: 
  • I finished only one book this week: When You Ask Me Where I'm Going by Jasmin Kaur. A poetry book by a Sikh Canadian woman. Many of the poems really touched me but the middle of the book (section 2) abruptly changed to a novel-in-verse. It just didn't work for me from that point on. 3 stars.
  • I am almost finished with several books:
    • West With Giraffes by Linda Rutledge. A book club selection for this coming Wednesday's meeting. It is a cute, unique story. Two men are driving giraffes from New York to San Diego in the 1930s. The story's tone seems like the whole project is teetering on the edge of disaster the whole time. I'm finding myself a bit impatient with the pacing. 52%, audiobook.
    • Suddenly We by Evie Shockley. Another poetry collection. Once again, many of the poems spoke directly to me, while others were a complete miss. I especially liked the concrete poems. 89%, print.
    • Prequel: An American Fight Against Fascism by Rachel Maddow. This nonfiction book takes a look at another time in American History when Fascism gained a toe-hold. It is frightening the parallels with the politics of today. 66%, audiobook.
    • Serenity: Poems by S.F. Yousef. Another poetry book which isn't matching my mood. Some good, some sappy. 21%, print.
  • Blogging: 
Precious and hilarious: Our daughter and grandson went for a hike today. This is the photo she sent us to show his hiking outfit:
Cute, but not sure what I'm seeing

Ah. The close-up shows a bear, jaguar, Luigi, medal-decorated, boot-wearing creature! It is so fun being three!

I know you are laughing right now. You are welcome. Have a great week!


Saturday, April 20, 2024

Audiobooks We Listened to On a Recent Trip

On our recent 16-day, 3000+ miles vacation, my husband and I listened to five+ audiobooks together. Last night we finally took the time to compare notes on our thoughts. Now you get the benefit of two opinions on each book.

The Fraud by Zadie Smith
This is Ms. Smith's first historical fiction book and the first either of us read by this famous author. The story is based on actual people and a famous court case in British history. Unfortunately, as Americans, we'd heard of neither the court case or any of the people, other than Charles Dickens.
My rating: 3 stars. I honestly think Zadie Smith tried to do too much with one novel and moved back and forth in time too many times. It was confusing. My review.
Don's rating: 3 stars. Zadie Smith read the audiobook, and though she did quite well with the Scottish accent, it didn't translate well to his ears above the car noise. He admits he gave up trying to keep all the details of the book straight after a while.
12 hours, 26 minutes. Read by the author.

Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
Moonflower Murders is the second book in the Susan Ryland series by Horowitz. Don and I listened to the first book, Magpie Murders, a few years ago and enjoyed it a lot. Moonflower Murders was very similar to the form used in the first which involved a book within the book.
My rating: 3 stars. I didn't connect with any of the characters and the plot just didn't add up for me.
Don's rating: 4 stars. Having met Susan Ryland in the past book, he was glad to "meet her again." The book within the book was better this time because he understood what was happening and it didn't jump from present to the book and back, which was confusing about the first part in the series.
18 hours, 29 minutes. Read by Lesley Manville and Allan Corduner.

The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
A novel of the American Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg and the days leading up to it. The story is character-driven and told from the perspective of historical figures from both the Union and the Confederate side. It won the Pulitzer Prize in 1975 and a filmed titled "Gettysburg" was made from it. My review.
My rating: 5 stars. Even though I know how this battle works out I still was hanging on every word, eager to get back to the book each time after we had to take a break. I learned so much, too.
Don's rating: 5 stars. He's visited Gettysburg three times and has a military background. We had to stop the book often to allow him to expand on aspects of the battle or to describe the terrain. He was very moved.
13 hours, 45 minutes. Read by Stephen Hoye.

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
In a small village in Ireland in 1985, Bill Furlong, a coal merchant, makes a discovery that causes him to confront is past and the complicit silences of town's people due to the church's influence. It is touching Christmas novella.
We both rated the story: 4 stars.
1 hour, 57 minutes. Read by Aidan Kelly.

Sweet Thunder by Ivan Doig
Morrie Morgan returns to Butte, Montana in this third book in the series. This time Morrie is asked to serve the miner's union by writing editorials about their cause for a new newspaper, The Thunder.
My rating: 4 stars.  I absolutely LOVE Morrie Morgan as a character and Ivan Doig as a writer. I probably should rate this book with a 5, but I keep comparing it to the first book in the series, The Whistling Season, and I love that book more. Ha!
Don's rating: 5 stars. He's an even bigger Doig fan than I am. Don is a strong supporter of unions and of freedom of the press, so this book spoke to him on this level, too.
11 hours, 11 minutes. Read by Jonathan Hogan.


Thursday, April 18, 2024


Killer Angels by Michael Shaara

Book Beginning quote:

Friday56 quote:

Summary: The Battle for Gettysburg was the pivotal battle of the American Civil War. For four days in July 1863, the Union and Confederate troops fought over a hill overlooking the small town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Killer Angels is a novel of this famous battle, giving life to characters. Author Michael Shaara said his aim was to tell "what it was like to be there, what the weather was like, what men's faces looked like."
For this purpose he stayed within the historical record, but blended two fictional approaches: a careful expository description of strategy and tactics, aided by a series of eloquent maps, and a graphic evocation of the clashes themselves, wherein it is shown how the small happenings, the human elements and chance occurrences confound the plans of the greatest chiefs. The blurred, obscure, smoke‐covered meetings continually mock the higher strategies. (NYT Review of Books, May 10, 1975)
The result was a story which becomes real and human to its readers. In the course of the book readers primarily follow three men: Colonel Chamberlain, of the Union Army; General James (“Pete”) Longstreet, of the Confederate Army; and General Robert E. Lee, of the Confederate Army. They will also wander around with Union cavalry General John Buford, Confederate General George Pickett, and a few others. The battle is fought and won/lost but at great cost to all the individuals involved.

Review: During a recent road trip my husband and I listened to the audio version of Killer Angels, read by Stephen Hoye. I was interested in the book for two reasons. First, Killer Angels won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1975. Very slowly I am making my way through past winners. Secondly, years ago a teacher at the school where I was the librarian came to me and told me that Killer Angels was the most amazing book he'd ever read. I assured him I would read it some day, and now I have. I guessed my husband, who attended West Point after high school and spent 37 years in the military, would enjoy the book, too. Listening to the audiobook together was a good choice. Stephen Hoye did an exceptional job reading the story, building up the tension preceding the battles to a perfect pitch. His accents for the both the Southern Generals and for the Maine men were spot-on and led to an even more personalized experience with the text. Even though I knew who won the battle historically, every time we stopped listening, I wanted to get back to it as soon as possible to find out how things worked out. I'm fairly sure this audiobook will win my favorite audiobook of the year award.

The title, "Killer Angels", came from a speech made by Col. Joshua Chamberlain to his men prior to the battle. He took the quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet: “Well, boy, if he’s an angel, he’s sure a murderin’ angel”. This inspired Chamberlain oration topic: Man, the Killer Angel. 

The introduction to the audiobook was written and read by Jeff Shaara, Michael's son, on the 30th anniversary of the publication of the book. Jeff remembers going to Gettysburg as a child and walking the hallowed grounds with his father. That family trip led Michael to spend the next eight years writing his historical novel. It was rejected by many publishers but finally a small printing company, McKay, decided to publish the book in 1974. They didn't do much publicity and the book didn't sell well, probably related the state of unrest in the country related to the Vietnam War which was still going at the time. It surprised everyone when Killer Angels won the Pulitzer Prize in the 1975, but still sales were slow. However, the award brought the book to the attention of a Hollywood movie producer who expressed interest in making a movie from it. Shaara worked with this producer for years and was very excited about the project. Unfortunately he died from a heart attack before the movie went into production. When the movie came out in 1993 it was named "Gettysburg" and though it was very long, over 4 hours, it was well received. The result it had on the book was astonishing. Eighteen years after the book was published, Killer Angels made the New York Times Best Seller List. Jeff Shaara was sad that his father, who had worked so hard on the novel, never got to experience all of its success. Jeff went on to write a prequel and sequel to the book and several other historical novels about US wars.

I don't often read books about battles in wars, but I do enjoy reading good historical fiction. Killer Angels may very well be the best of the bunch. And my husband, what did he think of the book? He enjoyed it, too. He has been to Gettysburg three times, once with me and our daughters in tow, and he found that experience to be very moving every visit. Several times while we were listening he would stop the narration to explain some aspect of the battle to me, or describe the geography and the location of the armies. He sends along his recommendation, too.

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!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Classics Club Spin #37

It's that time again for another Classics Club Spin Selection.

Here's what you need to know if you want to participate:
  1. Create a list of 20 classic books you'd still like to read.
  2. Post that list before April 21st.
  3. Watch the Classics Club site on 4/21 for the Spin #.
  4. Whatever book you have listed on that number is the book you will read.
  5. Complete, or try to complete, that book by June 2nd.
  6. If you want, share your review on the CC site.
  7. Easy!

My list of Twenty Classics for Spin #37 -- Spring 2024

        1.   Iliad by Homer

  1. 2         Something by Forester, E.M

    3.       Something by Anne Bronte

    4.       Something by Sylvia Plath

    5.       Something by James Baldwin

    6.       Something by Shakespeare

    7.       Something by Dostoevsky

    8.       Something by Woolf

    9.       Something by Elizabeth Gaskill

    10.   Something by Pym

    11.   Something by Hardy

    12.   Something by Bellow

    13.   Something by Tolstoy

    14.   Something by Highsmith

    15.   Something by Bradbury

    16.   Something by Dickens

    17.  Something by Muriel Sparks

    18.   Something by Hawthorne

    19.   Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    20.   The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

And the winner is.....


Looks like I will be reading something by Virginia Woolf. I'll see what the library has available right now and let you know what I pick.