Here are some of our favorite classic books!
Of Human Bondage- W. Somerset Maugham
I read this book some time ago, but it remains one of my favorites, mostly for the gorgeous writing. The plot itself is good, but nothing revolutionary. The writing, however, is what sets it apart. Because of that, it's a book you can easily lose yourself in.
Giant Cat Eating Monsters or Useful Neighbors?
At my last house, in Fayetteville, I had a nest of red-tailed hawks in a tree at the top of the back pasture. They’d built their home, with what must have been a remarkable 360 degree view, overlooking the rolling green hills and grassy meadows of our little valley. Presumably, they could see the verdant landscape dotted with cows, horses, and even some fluffy sheep. They were probably more interested in the multitude of rabbits they could see from their vantage point and, of course, the chickens. They had chosen to build directly overlooking my chicken coop so they watch their lunch scratching around just underneath the tree. Clever.
I’ve always been told they would only take prey in a dive. The chicken yard was laced over with tree branches. There was no way they could dive in. Unfortunately, no one had ever told the hawks that they were limited in that way. I heard the chickens carrying on with great drama one morning, and when I went running out, I realized that the one of the hawks had simply hopped in and was killing a large red hen in a ground fight. Her friends were watching it play out like a horror film. They were highly agitated to say the least. Once my daughter, Evangeline, and I were sitting in the kitchen trying to have a relaxing cup of coffee when we saw one jump down through the branches and kill a screaming squirrel. So much for only killing prey in a dive. I’m glad that I’m not terribly portable. Sheesh.
Anyway, I thought since I’d moved to Atlanta, in the middle of a subdivision that I would leave the hawks behind. Guess what? I have a nest of red-tailed hawks living even closer to my house here, and I’m pretty sure it’s full of babies. Now I have to be concerned about the cats walking outside and being carried off. Actually, not carried off some distance…but eaten right outside the window of the upstairs bedroom. Sigh. We will have to be careful with neighbors like that.
Nevertheless, I don’t begrudge the hawks their living. I haven’t lost a single plant or bulb to squirrels or rabbits; I bet I don’t have poisonous snakes or rats outside. I guess they have as much right to scratch out a life here as I do. And they’re beautiful birds. Hopefully, we can be peaceful neighbors.
Review by Julie Carpenter
I don’t know a lot about this Jacksonville, Florida band. In fact before they contacted me and asked me to give them a listen, I didn't know them at all. If you go on their website, there’s not a lot of fluff about who they are or why you should think they’re cool. You immediately understand one thing. They’re about the music. They don’t spend a lot of time spinning some mythology to sucker you in.
They let the music speak for itself. I respect that. Here’s the only thing they have to say about their music:
Deadkaren: A combination of the most humid of sounds, including alternative B-sides, naked in a tub of slushies, with a slight feminist undertone, written as happy music for sad kids.
So what’s in store for you if you listen? First the sweet/tough lead singer’s voice, intense over driving jumpy music, a voice that’s almost sweet enough to dupe you into thinking you’re safe . But listen to a few tracks you realize that the honeyed voice is knife sharp, with a feminist edge.
For instance, BradChad, one of my favorite tracks, opens with two frat boys ruminating on the evening’s plans and pulses forward to the feminist response. It’s thinking you’re attacking a kitten, and finding out it’s pretty much that rabbit from The Holy Grail.
Songs like Blah, Blah, Blah start with bendy guitars, drums push you forward and the song shoves you right through – in a good way. I liked the forceful, headlong trajectory. All of the have the same relentless energy.
Go check this band out. If you end up naked in a tub of slushies, you can’t say you weren’t warned.
The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Written by Mackenzi Lee
Review by Jarad Johnson
Sometimes I have trouble letting go of books. I get attached and then when I’m finished reading it, I immediately want to begin reading it again. It doesn’t happen with all books of course; I can thoroughly enjoy a book but when it’s done, I don’t feel the pull that I feel with others. This book had an especially strong pull for me. I would’ve been perfectly happy to read this book for a month or to have never ending sequels for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the case, but I am very happy to have read it. I can say that this has been my favorite book this year so far. That’s a bold statement because I do read tons of books, but this has set a very high standard for me. Given that, I have been a little apprehensive to write this review, not because I didn’t want to, but I was afraid that I wouldn’t do it justice, and there’s also a ton I want to discuss. Furthermore, the book deals with a lot of issues, but it centers around Henry, “Monty,” Montague in 18th century England. He’s the epitome of vice: he drinks too much, he gambles, and he frequently wakes up in the beds of both men and women. He’s about to be forced to take over his father’s estate, but before that happens, he’s going on a yearlong, “Grand Tour,” of England along with his best friend Percy, who he’s also madly in love with. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also pirates, alchemy and Monty running naked through the gardens of Versailles (an event I am very sorry to have missed).
There are certain books for us at Sacred Chickens that herald the arrival of summer every year. Here are some of the ones we always read!
For many people, books evoke certain feelings, emotions or memories. Some books you love so much that you could read them over and over again, like visiting an old friend. Some books are reminiscent of certain seasons, and since summer is upon us, here are the books that we at Sacred Chickens read every summer.
For me nothing says summer like Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. When the strongest scented flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and heat waves shimmer like magic, nothing seems more probable than a land of nonsense, totally without consequence, where a giant egg pay words to mean exactly what he wants them to mean and naughty children turn into pigs.
My second choice is Emily Dickinson. All her poetry feels like summer to me, rhymes as slanted as the late summer sun, as simple as a white cotton dress and a light breeze, but with summer’s living depth of deep green as well.
Today Jarad is sharing a childhood experience that shaped the way he views books and literature.
Sacrilege. I’ve always liked that word. It sounds grandiose, dramatic, like a high crime or grave misdeed has been committed. It sounds dark in a way, one of the words in the English language that feels velvety and rich when it’s said. It’s doesn’t seem like it’s just meant to be spoken though; it’s meant to shouted in a king or queen’s court at a heretic plotting against the crown. Regardless, it’s one of those words I loved since childhood. Since the story of how I came to know the and love the word involves books, I thought I would share it with you.
Today Jarad is sharing his thoughts on losing books. When's the last time you lost a book?
I recently lost a book. I don’t know if this happens to other people, but my particular brand of absent-mindedness means that I often set things down with reckless abandon and then promptly forget about them. I put my mom’s keys down on my desk and when she asked me where they were at, I had no idea. We spent 30 minutes tearing the house apart, but we both eventually located it.
This Searing Light, the Sun, and Everything Else. Joy Division: The Oral History
Written by Jon Savage
Review by Roy Peak
Joy Division was an English rock band from the late seventies who made dark soundscapes of electric poetry, intense punk rock, and gothic slabs of noise pop. They formed after the individual members were witness to an early show by the Sex Pistols and, despite not knowing how to play any instruments, were inspired enough to start their own band. They came up with their own unique sound, unmatched since, and quickly became one of the bands to see in Manchester as well as the north of England. On the eve of their first tour of America and right before the release of their second album, Ian Curtis, the band's charismatic and mysterious lead singer and lyricist, killed himself. The band soldiered on later with a new name, New Order, but were never able to find lightning in a bottle like they had the first time.
Sometimes gardening can be tough. Jarad shares his thoughts on the less pleasant chores in the garden
I love plants; I really do, but there are parts of gardening I don’t enjoy. Weeding isn’t fun, and neither is pruning particularly, but removing sod is probably the worst chore I’ve encountered so far. Firstly, grass is heavy. Very heavy. A couple of days ago, I removed grass for my little vegetable garden this summer. It took 6 hours one day and four the next. I was covered in mud, hands were full of blisters, and I’m sore in places I didn’t even know existed. Grass is now my least favorite plant! But it’s worth it so I can grow a few vegetables and herbs, plant garlic in the fall, and at least I won’t have to repeat the process next year. Still, there were moments when I questioned why in the hell I was doing this ridiculous thing, can’t I grow corn in a pot, and watermelons can grow in pots as well right? You know, really, really big pots? This is what I was thinking as I removed all that grass. And while I’m sure they could, but I wouldn’t have been happy with just that.
Here are some short stories that we think you should read. We all picked different genres and types of stories, so there's something for everyone here. Let us know if you decide to check something out! Happy reading!
What: Instant Love, by Jami Attenberg
Why: I’ve just discovered this book, originally published in 2006, but I instantly fell in love with it. (Ha! Notice the clever play on the title). It’s a series of linked short stories about three women and their romantic histories. It’s clean, engaging, and true.