Tag Archives: Paulette Jiles

Book Club Reflection: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

16 May

My book club met a few weeks ago to discuss Paulette Jiles’ book News of the World. It was a short book, a nice break after some very long titles over the past few months. For the most part, we enjoyed it.

None of us had read Jiles before but she’s published about fifteen books including poetry, memoir, and children’s. If we hadn’t known the author’s name, many of us would have been surprised it was written by a woman. Captain Kidd was well drawn and the world he lived in felt rather ‘masculine.’ Johanna wasn’t a particularly feminine character either. Though, I do love being pleasantly surprised when an author can write another gender.

I listened to the book but those who read it said there was no quotation marks or other punctuation for dialogue. It took a while for the readers to get used to it. We wondered if she wrote all of her books this way. Maybe it was the influence of writing poetry.

A reader mentioned that the style reminded her of Mark Twain. The main character sounded a bit like Twain as well. He was also a printer in the West at the same time period. It was a flashback to a book we read a few years ago, The Bohemians.

Johanna’s time with the Kiowa made her resilient; she was strong and could endure a lot of hardships. If she’d been the young German girl she was born to be, she may not have been able to survive the trip to her relatives. We laughed when recalling the scene where Johanna wanted to scalp the men who tried to kill them and Captain Kidd deemed that ‘impolite.’

The relationship between the two was cemented late in the novel when Captain Kidd saw how Johanna was being used as slave labor by her aunt and uncle. We felt he may have left her if her relatives had been less cruel to her. We felt she began to trust him early on when they ran into soldiers and he didn’t hand her over to them. She knew he was trying to keep her safe. Though, we thought that Johanna leaving may make the aunt and uncle want their $50 back since they ‘paid’ for her in the first place.

We talked about the title quite a bit and had several interpretations. One was that the book gave us the news of the world of Texas in the 1870s. It told us how the world worked with slavery gone and a post-war economy in fluctuation. It was also how Kidd got news, from the people he ran into and how he saw them interact. He also chose what the news was going to be by selecting different stories for different crowds, deciding what they would know of the world.

The book focused on how different cultures come together to learn and accept each other. Johanna and Kidd were as different as could be as far as age, gender, language, and culture. But they still cared for each other and could be a good team together.

Even though the Civil War is over, it’s not really. There’s only one black character in the book, and he’s restricted his travel because of his race. As free as he is legally, he knows that society doesn’t see it the same way.

This book was great for a discussion. I do enjoy meeting with others to talk about the books I voraciously consume. I’m really looking forward to our next title, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Book Review: News of the World by Paulette Jiles (4/5)

22 Apr

Yet another book club selection I knew nothing about and ended up enjoying. Seriously, I should let my book club pick everything I read. I’d have no idea what I’m getting into and I’d enjoy every minute of it.

Cover image via Goodreads

News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Summary from Goodreads:

In the wake of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd travels through northern Texas, giving live readings from newspapers to paying audiences hungry for news of the world. An elderly widower who has lived through three wars and fought in two of them, the captain enjoys his rootless, solitary existence.

In Wichita Falls, he is offered a $50 gold piece to deliver a young orphan to her relatives in San Antonio. Four years earlier, a band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna’s parents and sister; sparing the little girl, they raised her as one of their own. Recently rescued by the U.S. army, the ten-year-old has once again been torn away from the only home she knows.

Their 400-mile journey south through unsettled territory and unforgiving terrain proves difficult and at times dangerous. Johanna has forgotten the English language, tries to escape at every opportunity, throws away her shoes, and refuses to act “civilized.” Yet as the miles pass, the two lonely survivors tentatively begin to trust each other, forming a bond that marks the difference between life and death in this treacherous land.

Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.

For such a short book, that summary covers a lot! I’m glad I didn’t read it before I started the book. I enjoyed the style of this book, with rather sparse writing, a very Hemingway-esque feel. It felt appropriate for Captain Kidd. He was a basic man who didn’t need much to be happy and he didn’t need a lot of words either. I’m not sure what I expected to happen to Johanna. I knew she had a sad story and I wasn’t sure how it would get better. While I liked her bonding with Captain Kidd, I knew they’d be separated in the end so I tried not to be too emotionally attached to the two of them. But it was hard not to.

I really believed these characters traveled Texas. It was easy to picture Captain Kidd, an aged war veteran who’s disenchanted with what’s happened in the land he fought for. Johanna was a spunky little kid, not too sure why some things are happening, but she adapts and moves on.

Captain Kidd was a great character. He was very open-minded for someone of his time and I like how that was explained by his marriage. I liked how he stuck to his commitments and morals, even to the point of paying for the chickens Johanna had killed. I thought he was very resourceful to read the news as a form of income. He was very smart about it as well, making sure to keep the peace in his readings and not stir up trouble. I think he’d find a way to make it in today’s gig economy as well.

The Captain’s sense of morality was something I related to. I would have paid for the chickens the same way he had. His dedication to Johanna was very admirable and I liked how much he ended up caring for her. I easily get sucked into small commitments as well so I could see how that would happen.

Paulette Jiles
Image via Texas Monthly

The shootout was my favorite scene. I liked seeing Johanna and the Captain fight together and I loved how inventive Johanna was with the shells. It made me wonder about her a bit, and what she’d seen when she was living with the Kiowa. It was the first bit of mystery we got from her. I also liked how it showed she was dedicated to him in the same way he was to her.

I disliked the ending only because it felt rushed. After so much time getting to San Antonio, it was a bit of a let down to be there and for so much to happen right at the end. Between his kidnapping and Johanna’s wedding was only a page or two. It seemed far too fast after such a slow book. I thought the ending was appropriate for the characters, though, and I was glad of that.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Grover Gardner. He was a great selection for reading this book. His voice was exactly what I wanted Captain Kidd to sound like. With his narration, the short sentences and narration were brought to life and it didn’t feel choppy. I liked how he read Johanna’s words and her learning English. It felt very real to me and I can always appreciate a male narrator who does a good female voice.

Captain Kidd’s story was about dedication. Sometimes our dedication is tested and tempted but Captain Kidd stayed strong throughout. It seemed out-of-place for a girl to test an older man in such a way but I liked that it seemed so unusual. I think it would take something unusual to make such a change in a man like Captain Kidd.

Writer’s Takeaway: As much as I enjoyed this book, one of my major takeaways is the pacing. I felt the story was very front-loaded and most of the activities of the novel took place in the early part of the journey to San Antonio. I knew that in such a short book, things would be rushed at the end after such a leisurely first half. It felt like the writer ran out of ideas, time, or energy when the end started to come so fast. I don’t think any of those are the case, but it felt a little off that way.

An overall enjoyable book and one I look forward to discussing with my group. Four out of Five Stars

This book fulfills the 1800-1899 time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review: News of the World by Paulette Jiles | Thoughts on Papyrus
News of the World, by Paulette Jiles | Bob’s Books
News of the World, by Paulette Jiles | A Bookish Type
News of the World by Paulette Jiles | Book Snob

WWW Wednesday, 10-April-2019

10 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: It’s still steady-going with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. I only had two lunches last week to read and this week isn’t looking better. I’ll keep making my way through, though. No rush on this one.
I’m really enjoying Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I squeezed a little extra reading time this weekend even though I couldn’t afford it. I hope to finish this one soon and not have it linger on this list for more than one more week.
I got my hold on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and was finally able to start it! I hope I have some long drives to get through this one quickly because I’ve been waiting for it forever!
I started reading The Power by Naomi Alderman on Sunday. Not too far into this one yet. I’m excited to stay one step ahead of my book club, though! We didn’t get our copies of this until Monday. Staying ahead is letting me focus on books I want to read, not just those for groups.

Recently finished: I was able to finish up News of the World by Paulette Jiles which was a lovely little book. I hope I remember it well enough for our next meeting because it seems so far away. I’ll get around to a review at some point. I feel so behind in reviews that it could be a week or two before I finally get to it! Better this than struggling for content, though.
I finished Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor Sunday morning. I enjoyed the story but it’s clear this is the first of a series. It was very unfinished and I was a bit disappointed. I hoped there was something more I would get before the book ended, but it was a set-up for the next books. I’m still debating if I’ll finish the series.

I posted two reviews this week. The first was for Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. Not a favorite read, but a solid one. I enjoy Larson’s style but this topic didn’t grab me as much as earlier ones have. I’ll have to try again soon. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book was a joy for me and I hope I can see the movie soon and experience it all over again! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll grab another book off of my shelves next. I’m feeling great about getting through so many! Next up is Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi. I added a number of concentration camp memoirs to my TBR after listening to Anne Frank’s diary a few years ago. This one was a little harder to come by but I have a copy and I look forward to reading it!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 3-April-2019

3 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I made a little headway with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min but not much. I’ll be on this for a while, to be sure. I’m still getting used to the style, how it switches from first-person to third-person. I’m not sure I like it yet.
I’ve gotten to halfway through Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I haven’t been reading as much before bed because I’m making sleep a priority and getting to bed earlier. It’s been great, but it is eating into reading a smidge.
I’m really liking Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor on audio. It’s getting really interesting and keeping me listening as long as possible through each workout. I might be on to a series I’ll finally finish!
Since  News of the World by Paulette Jiles is so short, I’m making great progress with it. I should have this one wrapped up later this week at the latest!

Recently finished: I knew it was coming so no big surprise here: nothing new finished this week. I killed it in March so I’m not surprised with a small slow down. Though I do expect more books finished next week! Also no reviews this week. I’ll be back at them next week so don’t worry!

Reading Next: I’m still waiting for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’m getting anxious since I’ll be ready to start it very soon. I’ve got my fingers crossed it comes in this week!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-March-2019

27 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: It’s been slow going with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min because of a crazy work schedule. I hope to read a bit more of it during my lunch breaks this week, but I’m not planning on it. I work through ebooks slowly and this seems destined to that fate.
I’m making decent progress with Midwives by Chris Bohjalian before I go to bed at night. Though I suspect this book is increasing my anxiety because it seems impossible that someone is put on trial for doing their job and questioned so much!
I needed a new e-audiobook faster than expected and I picked up Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. There were some issues borrowing from the library so it took a bit longer than I hoped before I could start this one, but all is good and I’m going strong! Maybe I’ll finish this one as fast as I’ve finished my last few audiobooks.
I started a new audiobook in my car while I wait on my library hold. This is my next book club selection, News of the World by Paulette Jiles. It’s a nice short one so I’m optimistic that I’ll wrap it up quickly!

Recently finished: I wrapped up Wonder by R.J. Palacio on Saturday and adored the ending! I have some minor quibbles about the style, but the story and premise were wonderful. I’ll be reviewing this in the next couple weeks (because I’m so backlogged on reviews!) and I’m giving it Four out of Five Stars.
I absolutely flew through Dodgers by Bill Beverly. The story grabbed me and made me think about race relations more than I thought it would. East was a great voice to tell this story. This should be a great discussion point for my book club when we meet in April.

Two book reviews to share as well! The first is Origin by Dan Brown. This was a fun read for me and I’m glad I’m caught up on Robert Langdon’s adventures. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the professor and I’ll be ready for the next one when it comes. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed This Is a Book by Demetri Martin. This was a little harder to review just because there wasn’t much of a plot to this collection of comedic stories. I liked it, though, and it had my husband giving me weird looks as I laughed out loud in bed. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli to come in at the library. I’m hoping it’s soon but not too soon so I can finish my other audiobook first.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!