WWW Wednesday, 25-January-2023

25 Jan

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!

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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.


REAL QUICK! If you haven’t heard, I’m running the When Are You Reading? Challenge for the tenth year! Please consider joining in for this landmark year!

Currently reading: I’ve kept moving in Sophie’s Choice by William Styron now that we’re back. I’m noticing significant improvements in my sleep reading on paper before bed instead of a screen so I’m pushing myself to read a few pages each night. I’ll get through this eventually!
I’ve been grabbing all the time I can to listen to Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell. This is a fun book, though I’m not sure I’m enjoying it as much as the first two. I like Rowell’s writing but I think I’m ready for some different characters.
I haven’t made much progress in Why We Swim by Bonnis Tsui this week. I’ve not been spending as much time on my phone. Catching up at work has me exhausted and wanting away from a screen as soon as it hits 5pm.

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week. Maybe next week, but I’m in the middle of all of my books right now. I was able to post a review of Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner. It was my last book of 2022 so I’ve finally wrapped that year up! I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I think an audiobook will be my next need and I’m sticking with Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña for that. I’ll start planning for future ebooks and physical books next week if I make some good progress in my reading. Fingers crossed!

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.
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Book Review: Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner (2/5)

23 Jan

I was in New Orleans for a conference a few years ago and found a bookshop that used to be home to William Faulkner. (I did a post about that trip and the bookstores I visited where you can read more.) It seemed only appropriate to get a Faulkner book there. I picked the one he wrote while living in that house. Five years later, I picked it up as an ebook to help me finish a reading challenge.

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Cover image via Amazon

Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner

Summary from Amazon:

After the end of World War I, a group of soldiers traveling by train across the United States are on their way home. One is horribly scarred, blind, and almost entirely mute. Moved by his condition, a few civilian fellow travelers decided to see him safely home to Georgia, to a family that believes him dead—and a fiancée who grew tired of waiting.

This book rubbed me the wrong way at the beginning, but then grew on me. I didn’t like the introduction to the characters in the first two chapters. It seemed really abrupt and I was confused about what was happening, what the relationships were between people, and why names kept changing. Once we got to town and things were easier to understand, I settled in and could focus on the story. It ended up being a touching story about the affects of war and how we grieve as individuals and as a society in the wake of such an event. I wasn’t a big fan of how women were portrayed in this book, but I may be confusing that with how much I disliked Cecily. It felt like a chore to read this, which is why I’ve given it such a low rating.

Faulkner’s characters had good variety in their involvement with the war and their temperament in the wake of it. Not having lived through a war the same magnitude as WWI, it’s hard for me to say how credible I think they were because of their time period. I did think they were very caricature-like and that was a part of what I disliked. All of the women were weak and weepy or completely heartless. The men were either abrupt or distant. There wasn’t a lot of nuance to most of them and it because a little annoying for me to read their conversations and interactions.

Gilligan was my favorite character in the book because he always seemed to be the comic relief. That seems odd when I reflect on it, but it was my impression. He was kind and caring and was often able to diffuse any tension that arose between the characters, especially as it had to do with Donald. He was the kind of guy you would want on your side. He was also quite pitiful. He had no where to return to up on coming home, nothing that he wanted to do again. I felt bad for him as much as I liked him.

I couldn’t relate to any of these characters which made it hard to like this story. Cecily, the main female, is horribly vane and selfish. I’m not going to be mad at her that she didn’t want to marry someone she thought was dead, but she was so indecisive about it and I think it made life very emotional for a lot of people when it didn’t need to be. None of the other women are particularly likeable. Ms. Powers might be, but she comes across as scheming and heartless in the end and that made it hard for me to relate to her. Without a woman to relate to and without having lived through the war, this book wasn’t one where I ever got emotionally invested.

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William Faulkner. Image via Wikipedia

I finally got invested in this book after Donald returned home and I could see how all of the characters were going to interact. Up until then, I honestly thought I was reading a collection of short stories. After that, I wasn’t a fan of the writing style, but I was able to follow what was happening much better and could start to get into the story and start to enjoy it.

The first chapter was infuriating for me. It took me a few weeks to read it because I kept getting frustrated and putting it down. I understand that the characters are drunk so it’s not supposed to be completely logical, but it was so scattered that I couldn’t follow. Jumping from there to Jones, I was about ready to quit. Jones remained my least favorite character throughout the book and every time he would show up, I’d just get angry. Once we had some other characters (who were more sober) and a plot, I was much better off.

PTSD and mental health for soldiers is a big topic today. It wasn’t when Faulkner was writing. He brings up a lot of issues that returning combatants see still today. Spending time away from family and loved ones is hard. It’s harder when during that time away, you’re enduring something so stressful and unique that those back home can’t understand what it was like. Jones, Gilligan, and Donald have dealt with it differently. Mrs. Powers has had to deal with her husband not returning home. Those that were waiting have to deal with how their loved ones changed. Emmy struggles the most, seeing how Donald is not at all how he was when he left. There is a lot of this book that’s still very relevant today.

Writer’s Takeaway: More than anything, this book taught me some things not to do. I felt like Jones had no reason to be in the book. He should have been cut. I felt like there was a lot of back-and-forth in the book that gave it a murky middle. That should have been cleaned up. The opening scene did not grab my attention. These are a lot of things writers are warned about and Faulkner fell into them. However, he ended up with a powerful message. He did enough things right in this book, but there were many things that could have been improved.

Overall, not one I’ll reread or recommend. Two out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1900-1919 time period of the 2022 When Are You Reading? Challenge. It was the final book in this 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (4/5)

19 Jan

I was trying to finish my reading challenge and thought to myself, “Maybe pick a book published in the time period rather than set in it.” I’ve let myself use this interpretation before and this seemed like a fun time to try it out again. I never read The Alchemist in school like I know some have. So this seemed like a good opportunity to pick it up.

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Cover image via Amazon

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.

Summary from Amazon:

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago’s journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.

This was a lovely little book. I really didn’t know what to expect and I enjoyed this story much more than I thought I would. I’m iffy on anything that calls itself a fable so I had a lot of skepticism going into it. The young shepherd was a great character and I loved how often he had to steel his resolve to keep going in the direction he needed and the amazing riches that finally came from it, monetary and otherwise. The people he met along the way were memorable and I appreciated how much each was able to direct him.

I never expect fable characters to be realistic but these were more realistic than I expected. The Englishman stands out to me as one who was so self absorbed and determined to cheat his way to wealth that he doesn’t see the good things right in his path. The crystal merchant was great and I loved seeing someone so stuck in his ways that he was more comfortable with failure than change. These qualities were very real and we see them in those around us daily.

The shepherd was my favorite character. He was brought low so many times and always found a way to believe and could think that things were going to get better and he wasn’t going to meet failure when it all seemed impossible. He was a good ‘every man’ for this journey.

It can often feel like we’re not heading in the right direction or that we’ve taking a detour. The shepherd had this many times and almost abandoned his mission more often than he wanted to admit. But he was able to keep pushing forward. No matter how much he thought he strayed, it always landed him exactly where he needed to be. When I sometimes feel stuck, it can be hard to remember that the moments of turmoil make us ready to excel when we need to.

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Paulo Coelho Image via Wikipedia

When the shepherd finally reached the pyramids, his encounter with the thieves was my favorite. Skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want the ending spoiled! It was the final irony, that the riches he was seeking were back in the land he came from and that he’d traveled all that way just to learn that he needed to go back. I thought it was a beautiful ending to the story and played into it so well. A very fitting end.

I zoned out a bit when the shepherd and the alchemist were talking to the wind and the moon and whatever other elements of nature they communed with in the desert. I know the book is magical and there’s a major suspension of disbelief needed to enjoy this story, but that bit seemed to go too far for me and I found myself waiting for it to be over.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jeremy Irons. He did a fantastic job. I loved the different voices he was able to use for the characters and the light, innocent tone he struck for the shepherd. There weren’t too many women in this story for me to have an opinion on how he did feminine voices so that’s the one area where I can’t comment.

The book focuses so much on chasing your dreams, something I think very few people really do. I was struck by this while I was on vacation recently. My partner and I made friends with a couple from Italy who shared with us that they’d lived abroad together and were working jobs they really liked and loved to travel to explore history. I thought to myself, “How many other people have those same passions but don’t pursue them?” Living abroad can be challenging. Searching for a job that you enjoy can take time. Traveling to excite a passion takes a lot of planning. Sometimes it’s easier to keep your head down and push forward on the same path you’ve been on. But when you don’t, that’s when life really happens.

Writer’s Takeaway: Coelho’s biggest lesson for me is brevity. He was able to tell an amazingly complex and deep story in a very limited number of words. There was nothing extraneous in these pages- everything kept pushing the shepherd toward his treasure. This is something I know I’ve struggled with and many writers do. Longer books are not always better books- they’re often worse.

This was a great little book and I could see myself rereading it years from now. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1980-1999 time period of the 2022 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
The Alchemist | The Misanthropologist
THE ALCHEMIST – A Review | House of Living Stone
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (Spoilers!) | Pages Unbound Reviews

WWW Wednesday, 18-January-2023

18 Jan

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!

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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.


REAL QUICK! If you haven’t heard, I’m running the When Are You Reading? Challenge for the tenth year! Please consider joining in for this landmark year!

Currently reading: I made a decent dent in Sophie’s Choice by William Styron on vacation! I’m over half way through it now. I can’t say I’m absorbed by any means, but I’m slightly more invested than I was and I’m hoping that carries me through to finishing it.
There wasn’t a lot of time for audio so I haven’t done too much with Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell. I’m still liking this one a lot and I know I’ll push through and finish it soon.
I had a change of plans with my ebook. I’d put in a bunch of holds and way too many of them came through at once! I ended up going with Why We Swim by Bonnis Tsui. I love swimming so when this one came out in 2020, it was on my radar. Reading it on the beach with waves crashing was wonderful. I’m already half way through and hope to keep pushing on.

Recently finished: I finished a book! I was loving Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline and sped through it on my vacation. It was really fun, though not as much as the first book. I didn’t expect to as I find the sequels to hugely popular books are rarely as good at the first. I’m very behind on reviews right now though I’m trying to catch up! I’m giving this one Four out of Five Stars for now. Cline is a fun writer and so imaginative. I’ll look forward to other books he writes in the future.

I also (finally) wrote a review! Please check out my thoughts on The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I still plan on Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña being my next eaudiobook. I’m looking forward to getting through many of these Summer Reading Downloads I have. I’m not sure about my next ebook at the moment so I’ll refrain from guessing here just yet.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant (3/5)

17 Jan

I grabbed this book because I needed something in the 1300-1499 time period for my 2022 When Are You Reading? Challenge. This time period is usually one of the most challenging for me to find a book so I was happy to find anything. I might have to stick with this author because it looks like she’s written a number of books set during the Renaissance.

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Cover image via Amazon

The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant

Summary from Amazon:

Alessandra Cecchi is not quite fifteen when her father, a prosperous cloth merchant, brings a young painter back from northern Europe to decorate the chapel walls in the family’s Florentine palazzo. A child of the Renaissance, with a precocious mind and a talent for drawing, Alessandra is intoxicated by the painter’s abilities.

But their burgeoning relationship is interrupted when Alessandra’s parents arrange her marriage to a wealthy, much older man. Meanwhile, Florence is changing, increasingly subject to the growing suppression imposed by the fundamentalist monk Savonarola, who is seizing religious and political control. Alessandra and her native city are caught between the Medici state, with its love of luxury, learning, and dazzling art, and the hellfire preaching and increasing violence of Savonarola’s reactionary followers. Played out against this turbulent backdrop, Alessandra’s married life is a misery, except for the surprising freedom it allows her to pursue her powerful attraction to the young painter and his art.

There wasn’t a lot in this book that really blew me away. I think it was a bit long for the story it told. The mystery around the painter was a bit drawn out. I felt the story was very back-half heavy. A lot of the set up at the beginning didn’t pay off for me. I did enjoy insights on life in Renaissance Florence and how quickly the city changed. I visited the city once and it was easy to picture Alessandra walking those streets and the churches she visited.

There were two characters that seemed unreal to me. The first was Luca, her brother. I didn’t gather from their banter before just how deep seeded his dislike for his sister was. Once she was married, it seemed to grow out of nowhere and it left me feeling like I’d missed something. The second was the painter. I’ve never encountered someone so reclusive so it was hard for me to picture him. It was made even more difficult when he returns at the end and is so socially adjusted, seemingly out of no where after years and years of being a hermit. The swing just seemed like too much.

Aurelia was a great add to this story. Because she was Black, her experiences were very different from Alessandra and it gave a great layer to the book that it would have lacked without her. She is a fierce woman and helped move the plot forward more than once. I’m glad she stayed in the story until the very end.

Alessandra’s independence and desire to be a painter made her more relatable to a modern audience. A lot of the other aspects of her life, like marriage at a young age and her high-class life, would have made her seen untouchable by today’s women. Her older sister carried this role out for the reader. For me, that was emphasized when she sent her child off with a wet nurse for a year at a time. Without Alessandra’s desire to fight the constraints of her time period, she would have been very difficult to like.

Sarah Dunant Image via the author’s website

I felt the first half of the book was unbearably slow and the second half was paced much better. There was a lot done to lay the groundwork for the Painter and Alessandra’s changes of fortune and I think it was a bit overdone. Once she got married, the action took off quickly. The changes to the city were well explained and how that affected the main characters was interesting and kept my attention.

There were two parts of this book that I disliked. One was the relationship between Alessandra and her brother, Tomaso. I thought they were just having a sibling rivalry, nothing major or spiteful, just not getting along. And then after Alessandra’s marriage, I thought I must have missed something. His ribbing turned rude and mean and the secrets he kept from here were horrible. It seemed that things were not well explained at first or that his malice grew with her marriage in a way I didn’t really comprehend. The second thing that I disliked was the change in the painter when he returned at the end. It was such a stark change, into an accomplished gentleman, that I got mad. His quirks were part of what made him interesting so having him return as a very well-adjusted and accomplished man was really out of place and took me away from the story.

My audiobook was narrated by Kathe Mazur. I thought she did well with Alessandra’s blossoming voice. She balanced Aurelia’s voice as that of an older and more mature woman, giving them slightly different timbres. She didn’t do much for males voices in this story, but it didn’t bother me.

We learn a lot about Alessandra’s mother as the book goes on. There are three generations of women in this book who are swayed by their hearts and follow their passions. We see how it changes for each of them. Alessandra’s mother kept quiet and seemed to think her daughter’s willfulness was a reflection of her sins. I think it was a reflection of her, sharing the same desire to stand out. Alessandra’s daughter shares her talents, though it’s too early to know if she’ll be as stubborn as her mother. I liked seeing the traits mothers passed to daughters in this story and I thought it was well done.

Writer’s Takeaway: The pacing of this book didn’t work for me. The set up of Florence at the time was too much backstory for me. It had a massive affect on the plot, so some was necessary, but I felt a little buried in it early on. It’s hard when you’re unsure how much background the reader will have on the time period to assume anything. I think Dunant was right not to assume more than she did, but I think she went into too much detail about things that ended up not mattering.

I liked the book well enough but it didn’t blow me away. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1300-1499 time period of the 2022 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
Sarah Dunant, “The Birth of Venus” | Book Group of One
Sarah Dunant – The Birth of Venus | Fyrefly’s Book Blog
#94 The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant | One-Eleven Books2
loulamac’s #CBR5 review #31: The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant | Cannonball Read 5
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant | She Reads Novels

WWW Wednesday, 11-January-2023

11 Jan

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!

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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.


REAL QUICK! If you haven’t heard, I’m running the When Are You Reading? Challenge for the tenth year! Please consider joining in for this landmark year!

Currently reading: I’m on vacation this week and I brought Sophie’s Choice by William Styron with me, hoping I’d focus on it and can finally finish it out! On a related note, please forgive me for delayed responses due to limited internet access.
I”m hoping to find time to enjoy Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell while we’re relaxing. I’m really liking this book and want to spend my time with it so I suspect I’ll find some pockets of time to plug in.
I’ve really enjoyed Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline so far. I think this will be another fast ebook for me. It’s not as good at the first one (is the sequel ever?) but it’s still a fun ride.

Recently finished: Nothing this week. I’m not surprised after how epic my final week of 2022 was. I’ve got three reviews in process that I’ll get to when I’m back home so be ready for a flood of my opinion!

Reading next: I downloaded Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña to my phone so I’ll have it on vacation if I finish my audiobook and need another.
I also added another ebook to my phone in anticipation of a lot of reading time on vacation. There were a lot of books I wanted with holds on them so I went a bit down my list and grabbed How to Find Your Way in the Dark by Derek B. Miller. I’ve loved some of Miller’s books and been less than impressed with others. I’m hoping this one is one I enjoy! (Also, love the similarities between this cover and Cline’s.)

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Top 5 of 2022

9 Jan

I’m continuing on with trying to get back to the posts I did pre-baby. We’ll see how this goes. I used to do a Top 5 of the year and that sounds so fun right now so I’m excited to get back to it!

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5. Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols. In retrospect, maybe I should have rated this one higher. It was a fun story to get sucked into and I liked the sci-fi writing and understanding what was going on in the future world where we have visited other planets. Katherine was pretty relatable given everything she’d gone through. It was pretty dark at times, but I’m not sure there was another way to tell the story because her story isn’t one that could have a happy ending. Maybe three stars was a bit low.

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4. A House at the Bottom of a Lake by Josh Malerman. I’m surprising myself with this pick, but I can’t talk myself out of it. This was a fun, quick read and I enjoyed the tension Malerman had through the whole book. I’m not normally one for horror or suspense, but he got me to love his character and the unbelievable things they found at the bottom of the lake. Their teenage, summer romance interspersed on top of it made for a wonderfully layered short story.

445101813. Malorie by Josh Malterman. Wow, I guess I’m really toting Josh Malerman in this post. I was skeptical with the sequel to Bird Box because I loved the original so much. The movie was OK but a lot changed. I wondered how many of those changes would make their way into Malorie or if it would be more true to the book. All of my fears were brushed aside quickly and I was sucked into Malorie’s world. It started off with a great scene that just continued to get better and better. I loved the kids and how much they now had to take care of their mother. I felt it wrapped up a little too cleanly a little too quickly, but I still loved the rollercoaster this book took me on.

61khbbtpixl2. My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows. This was a fun ride. I really enjoyed the funny take on Tudor England and how much the authors wove history and fiction together. There were some great throw-away lines that referenced pop culture that had me laughing out loud while I listened. I might have to jump back into these books again in 2023, if only for the laughs.

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1. Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling). This was far and away my favorite read of the year. I blew through it: over 900 pages in 10 days. I loved how intricate the mystery was and how it was unraveled. I’m hoping to read the next in this series soon because I really enjoyed it. This was one of my few Five Star reads this year and it’s well deserved.

Not my best year of books, but I’m optimistic about next year. 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

2022 in Books

5 Jan

I haven’t done this for a few years but thought I’d pick it up again. It’s a great way to reflect on my reading year.

I read 24 books in 2022. My goal was 15 so I’ve exceeded it by 9! After failing to meet it in 2021, I set a low bar so this is very welcome. I’m going to try to do meet 24 again in 2023 and see how that goes.

I read 7,744 pages. That’s fewer than 2021 by about 700, so not terribly far off. I read a lot of shorter books this year, so I’m not surprised by that. I’ve been making an effort the past month to read instead of scrolling social media and I’m hoping that will help me increase this for 2023.

The shortest book I read was the Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince graphic novels. Graphic novels tend to be shorter so I’m not surprised this 112 page story came in at the shortest. The longest was Troubled Blood at 944 pages. The funny thing is how fast I read this one! I was so absorbed I read it in 10 days. Both of these were ebook reads, which is funny with how much I have struggled with ebooks in the past. You get a lot of ebook time when you’re nursing an infant! My average book was 322 pages, which feels about right for the books I like to pick up.

My average rating was a 3.2. This doesn’t surprise me because I felt like I struggled with a lot of my books this year and let them languish because I wasn’t enjoying them.

5 Stars: 2
4 Stars: 5
3 Stars: 13
2 Stars: 4

This supports how I felt about reading this year. It was very middle-of-the-road in a lot of ways. I’m hoping I can find some books I enjoyed more in 2023!

Thanks for taking a look at stats with me! If you’ve been here a while, you know I love numbers and book-related numbers are the best.

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 4-January-2023

4 Jan

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!

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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.


REAL QUICK! If you haven’t heard, I’m running the When Are You Reading? Challenge for the tenth year! Please consider joining in for this landmark year!

Currently reading: I’m back to Sophie’s Choice by William Styron now that my challenge-related priorities have wrapped themselves up. Maybe I won’t need a fourth renewal of this one from the library? Though I probably will.
I started the audio for Any Way the Wind Blows (Simon Snow #3) by Rainbow Rowell. It’s no surprise I’m absolutely in love with it. I love Rowell’s writing and this is no exception. It’s a longer story, which I’m excited about since it will last me a while.
I was a bit iffy on what my next ebook would be. I ended up putting holds on five books and I was excited when the first hold to come in was Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline! I hope this one doesn’t wallow in ebook purgatory as some others have.

Recently finished: The push to finish my reading challenges paid off! I wrapped up Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner on December 30th with little time to spare! I think some of my unenjoyment was because of how choppy my reading was. Maybe in a shorter time span, I would have liked it more. My review is forthcoming (I know I’m behind!) but I’m giving it a 2 out of 5 Star review for now.
Thankfully, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was a short audiobook so I was able to fly through that as well! I took advantage of cleaning and driving time to make it happen. It was a great story and I can see why it’s studied in schools and popular for people to read more than once. Another review that needs to be done. For now, I’m giving it 4 out of 5 Stars.

Reading next: I’m at a loss for what book format I’ll need next. Knowing me, it will probably be either an ebook or an eaudiobook. I’m up in the air on ebooks since I put so many on hold. I have no idea what the next one to come in will be. For an eaudiobook, I think I’ll go for Mexican White Boy by Matt de la Peña. It’s one I got as a free download from my library that’s been lingering on my list for far too long.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Challenge Update, Fourth Quarter 2022

3 Jan

Reading didn’t come easily to me last year. I was learning how to be a mom to a toddler and it took a lot of mental capacity. I’m proud of all the reading I did manage, as scrappy as it was at times. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October, November, and December

Like No Other by Una LaMarche (4/5)
Easy Prey by Catherine Lo (2/5)
Mississippi Trial, 1955 by Chris Crowe (3/5)
Powering Up by Anne Doyle (3/5)
My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (4/5)
The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant (3/5)
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho (4/5)
Soldiers’ Pay by William Faulkner (2/5)

This is very audio-heavy. I was stuck on my ebook for months and my physical book is driving me crazy so I’ve relied on audio to get me through for the last bit. I owe a few reviews still. I had a big push to finish some reading challenges at the end and didn’t make enough time for reviews but I will get to them!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
By the skin of my teeth, but I made it. I finished Soldier’s Pay on December 30th which filled the 1900-1919 time period for me. Within the same week, I finished The Birth of Venus on audio which filled the 1300-1499 time period, one I often struggle with. So much happened in that time period, but it’s not as common for historical fiction. I’m glad Dunant tends to write of older times. I also sped through The Alchemist on audio. I made good use of some cleaning time and a bunch of car time and adored this short book. The setting is a little vague so I used the publication date which fit it in the 1980-1999 time period. It was a push, but I finished it and it’s never felt this good before!

Goodreads Challenge

24/15
This went so much better than expected and now I’m unsure of where to set the bar for 2023. Can I expect the stay this course? Read more? Will it go down with the toddler? I’m taking a shot in the dark any way I go.

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Book of the Quarter

I enjoyed My Lady Jane by Hand, Ashton, and Meadows more than I thought I would. I loved the humor and the alternative history was so fun to read. This was unlike any other book I’ve read and I thought it was really fun. I might have to explore the other books by this team, especially if they give me some hard time periods!

Added to my TBR

Making my way back down. I’m at 41 and I felt like I added so many that I’m surprised it’s that low! Will I ever get under 20?!

  • The Story of My Life // Hellen Keller. I thought I needed this one for my challenge last year but I’m going to hang on to it for the 2023 challenge instead!
  • The Lincoln Highway // Amor Towles. I went to a virtual event where Towles was interviewed by Erik Larson and I got a signed copy of this. The sad thing is, that was about 9 months ago. I forgot to add it to my TBR since then. Whoops.
  • Salt to the Sea // Ruta Sepetys. I like this author and my sister in law told me she adored this book. I got a copy in Spanish for Christmas so I’m planning for this to be my Spanish read for 2023!
  • Scattered Showers // Rainbow Rowell. What can I say? I’m a sucker for Rowell.
  • Choosing to Run // Des Lindon. I’ve been following Lindon’s career since she won the Boston Marathon in 2018. She’s from my state and I’m always impressed by her determination.
  • Beyond the Wand // Tom Felton. I feel like this doesn’t need much explanation. I’m pumped!

How did your challenges go? I hope to not push it so close to the end next year! I’m hosting again so you can click here to learn more and let me know if you want in.

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.