Off Topic Thursday: Tattoos

13 Jun

I’m hoping you all have different opinions on this one because I’m looking for some input. I think I’m ready (at age 29) to get my first tattoo.

I’ve contemplated for a long time what it would take for me to want to get something tattooed on my body forever. It would have to mean something to me, something deep and profound; something that would never change.

I’d contemplated a Deathly Hallows symbol for a while, and that’s still on the table, but I decided against it for now.

As a lot of you know, I’ve been training for an Ironman 70.3 since February. Finishing it has been a dream for a long time and I’ve been working my little tail off for five months to make this a reality. Recently, I’ve had co-workers and friends comment that I look like I’ve lost weight. I think of it has losing my social life and gaining a training regimen. I’ve also seen no change on the scale because I’ve gained it back in muscle. Anyway.

This major accomplishment is something that’s made me think about tattooing again. It’s a major accomplishment that I’ll be proud of for a long time. It’s something that at one point, I thought would be impossible for me. I used to be unable to run more than 3 miles before I was ground to a halt by knee pain. I fought through that and I’m so amazed at where I am now. 70.3 is within reach.

So that’s what I’m thinking of memorializing. I don’t want anything fancy and I don’t want color. I think I just want 70.3, or some combination of those numbers and a small word like ‘believe.’ I want it somewhere I can cover for work and I’m thinking on the side of my foot near the ankle (can’t decide on inside or outside).

Now I’m asking: Do any of you have tattoos? Any that you regret? What do they memorialize for you? Is this too trivial? Will I regret it in two years? Give me your thoughts as I have too many of my own.

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!

Advertisements

WWW Wednesday, 12-June-2019

12 Jun

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 point of reading Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during two lunches last week. I think I’m finally past the halfway point! Only a few more months to go…
I passed disk 20 of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. It’s great and I’m adoring it, but it feels like such an uphill battle with how long it is.
Nothing with A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers, still on hold.
I made good progress with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray because of my runs this past week. I had to renew it, but there won’t be a need for a second renewal to be sure.
I have to return Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy today or tomorrow. I’m racing to finish it. Wish me luck!

Recently finished: Second week in a row of nothing. I hope I can break the streak soon!

I did post my review of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime so there’s that at least! This break in finishing books has finally let me catch up on reviews.

Reading Next: I’m a bit nervous that I won’t start Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens soon. I need to have it finished by the end of the month and I’ve been really slow with physical books lately. I’m hoping it sweeps me away and I finish it in no time!


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!

Writing Check In- June

11 Jun

One of my goals for this year was to write more. My husband had the suggestion of making a monthly feature to talk about my writing and how it’s going. They’re supposed to be the first Tuesday of the month, but life is screwy sometimes and I’m running a week late. My apologies to anyone who remembered better than I did.

I’ve been fairly successful at sticking to writing despite ramping up for my triathlon next month. I finished my round of editing which felt huge. I had to rush through the end to get it to an interested party the last time around so this time, I was going slowly through the end and tweaking it a bit.

I started reading Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson and Peter Economy and I’m feeling less and less confident that it’s ready to share with an editor. There are some great suggestions for self-editing in this book and I think I may take another month or so to do a few of these things. One is making a scene list and seeing what the point of each scene is as well as who is speaking more, how long they are, and the pacing of them. The second is answering a series of questions about the motivation of a character. I think I need to do this for my female lead character, she doesn’t seem as strong as the male counterpart.

I hope I can finish the Dummies book before it’s due this weekend and I hope to pick up a few more tricks in the meantime. I don’t want to put off querying forever!

On that note, I got the Writers Digest guide on Literary Agents and small publishers and I’ve made a list of those who might represent my book. It’s a nice, long, intimidating GoogleDoc that’s ready for me to start populating when I begin querying. I know there are a few steps between editing and querying so I’ll have to write my summary and query letter soon as well. I’m strangely looking forward to this process.

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!

Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

10 Jun

I’m a huge fan of Noah. I like him on The Daily Show and I watched a documentary about him that covered some of the same things in this book. I loved how resilient he is and how he shares the struggles he had as a child in a way that is informative and comedic. I was so excited to read this book for my book club.

Cover image via Goodreads

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

Summary from Goodreads:

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother—his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The eighteen personal essays collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

More than anything, I want to meet Trevor’s mother after reading this book. She’s almost as major a character as he is in his own memoir. Noah faced a lot growing up in South Africa, but his mother faced it for herself and for Trevor. Any problems he had, she dealt with as well. Any changes to try and help Trevor were hardships for Patricia. Their relationship was beautifully depicted and was a great way for Noah to say ‘thank you’ to his amazing mother.

I could so easily picture Trevor as the mischevious young boy he describes. He’s always trying to get just a little something more than he’s given, be it a book or a few extra rand. He was open about things in life that would have been difficult or embarrassing and I appreciated that honesty. When he talked about his mom and brother, it was clear it was hard for him at times. I appreciated how he told us about the hard times he endured. Apartheid is something American education doesn’t dwell on very much and I feel like I know a little bit more about it now.

I loved hearing about Trevor growing from a shy small boy to an out-going and ambitious teenager and 20-something. Nothing in between felt rushed and I could see how his childhood influenced him as a young adult and shaped him into who he is today. He tells stories similar to these on clips from his show and it’s very eye-opening to hear about political oppression from someone who now reports on it.

One of the most eye-opening things for me was how much I related to Trevor’s stories of high school romance but how different they were as well. Prom was a disaster for me my Junior year but nothing like Trevor’s and my date at least spoke the same language as me. I had a middle school heartbreak and Trevor’s story brought back memories. It was a very relatable childhood but the lense of apartheid and race made his stories give me pause and make me think about them more.

Trevor Noah
Image via the Comedy Central Press

I laughed the hardest when Noah talked about his friend, Hitler. What an unusual name. But, Noah explains why Hitler isn’t uncommon in South Africa and it seems a bit far-fetched, but I’ll believe it. Hitler performing at a Jewish school, though, is hilarious. I’m surprised it didn’t end more violently, to be honest. You’d think someone named Hitler would know about the man his name came from and understand why it might upset children.

Hearing about Trevor’s step-father was hard for me. His mother had been such a strong woman and great presence in his life and it made it hard for me to understand why such a bad man could be part of their lives. Trevor explains how it happened slowly and over time, but 20-20 makes it very clear that he was never going to help Trevor or Patricia.

Having Noah narrate the audiobook was an amazing idea. He talks about the power of languages in South Africa and how he was able to use mastery of languages to fit in with many different groups and communicate with people. Having him use those language skills to quote people in their own language and read passages in Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans was wonderful. I don’t think anyone else reading it would have worked.

Since Noah is such a big name in America, I think it’s wonderful that he’s shared his childhood and how different it was from an American childhood. He talks a lot about American politics so understanding his background helps us understand why he feels the way he does. I loved the humor he used, but his message about assimilation and racism were very strong and impactful to me.

Writer’s Takeaway: Any writer wants to use some form of comedy to lighten the mood in certain parts of a book. Not many can make racism and apartheid funny. Noah has a great gift in this and really shines in this book. We all know he’s a funny guy but it’s different to see him laugh through the hard times.

I enjoyed the book a lot, especially the audiobook version. Four out of Five Stars

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:
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah | Book Addiction
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah | Court Reads
“Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah | Zezee with Books
Born a Crime by Trevor Noah | The Rogue Storyteller
Trevor Noah, “Born a Crime” | Don’t Need a Diagram

WWW Wednesday, 5-June-2019

5 Jun

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 keep thinking I’ making good progress on Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min but I’m moving forward so slowly! I’ll get there eventually, I’m sure, but it’s slow going with my short lunches.
I’ll keep pushing forward with A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m loving it, so it’s no problem, just a bit sad when I see how much more I have to get through still.
Still holding on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I look at it longingly on my bedside daily.
I’m moving forward with Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray and am about halfway done. The biggest problem with this book is that it’s so creepy that I get scared if I’m running in the dark while I listen to it!
I wish I was reading Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson faster, but this week was very busy and I have no such luck. I’ll try again next week.

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. Everything was so busy that I’m not surprised, but I wish I had more to report. Maybe next week? Maybe?

The bright side is that I’m getting caught up on reviews! I posted my review of Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi last week. Please check it out!

Reading Next: I hope to start Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens soon. It’s not one I’m really excited about, but a reader in our group highly recommended it, so there’s that to look forward to.


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!

Book Club Reflection: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

4 Jun

My book club met to discuss Exit West by Mohsin Hamid a few weeks ago. For the most part, we really enjoyed this one. We were led by a reader who had found this book a while back when it was featured on PBS. She enjoyed it so much she’s read Hamid’s backlist.

Hamid was born in Lahore, Pakistan and got his undergraduate at Princeton. He ended up getting a law degree from Harvard. Talk about smart! He currently splits his time between Lahore, London, and New York. Like Exit West, his other books have a vein of current events running through them and Hamid is a good analyst of human nature.

A lot of readers were bothered by how vague the setting of Saeed and Nadia’s hometown was. I saw several guesses for its true identity when I was reading reviews, but no one seems to know for sure. Having it unidentified makes the story a little more universal. Throughout the story, Saeed and Nadia are the only named characters as well. It helped focus on the two main characters, but also keep the story vague. You had to suspend disbelief for a moment, as you did with the doors, to not be bothered by this.

When the people passed through doors, they had no idea where they’d end up. Historically, this wasn’t always the case with immigrant groups. People would have boat tickets or train tickets. But today, you get out when you can go where ever you can. It makes the doors scary but that’s the reality today.

We puzzled over the reason for the quick interludes to other characters. They taught us little lessons that Saeed and Nadia’s story didn’t always emphasize. One was about the doors and how lost and disoriented the newly arrived can be. One was about things changing around you when you don’t leave and how it can be just as disorienting as when you do leave. And more than one was about racism and having to face it when you wind up somewhere new.

As more and more refugees started to arrive, they were watched by some over-seeing authority that we never see and is never named. They complied in groups of other people like them to feel safe from this authority figure, though Saeed and Nadia (mostly Nadia) resisted the change.

Most of our group thought the ending was a bit of a disappointment. It seemed to fizzle to a close instead of having more of an event. It was odd that it was fifty years later, putting these characters in their 70s. They’d had coffee on their first date, so it seemed appropriate that they did that again on this, their ‘last’ date. Their uncoupling was done with so much kindness that we believed they could be so civil with each other after so much time.

We had to wonder if the two would have even gotten together if Saeed’s mother hadn’t died. It was her death that pushed Nadia to move into his house. They were very different and were trying to change each other subtly. When they realized it wasn’t going to happen, they realized it was time to split. Nadia didn’t realize that she was unattracted to Zaid because of her homosexuality. Or maybe she was bisexual and was attracted to him. We thought it was more likely that she didn’t realize she could be homosexual and that was part of why she never felt comfortable with Zaid.

I haven’t started our next book yet but I’ve got an extra week because of the Memorial Day holiday. 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!

Challenge Update, May 2019

3 Jun

I’m feeling pleased as punch about my reading this year! I know most of it is audiobooks because of training time, but I’m still happy about it! You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in May:

Hawkes Harbor // S.E. Hinton (2/5)
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing // Mira Jacob (4/5)
Exit West // Mohsin Hamid (4/5)
Survival in Auschwitz // Primo Levi (4/5)
Born a Crime // Trevor Noah (4/5)

I’m happy to have two physical books on this list (Hawkes and Auschwitz) and still be killing it with audiobooks. I’m making great progress toward my challenges for the year, too!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
Nothing new this month. I’ll probably have to start being strategic soon. I’ll see what book club picks will hit for me and then start filling in the rest. I don’t want to be rushed in December with this one!

Goodreads Challenge

28/52
Over 50% done! Feeling good about this one for sure. I don’t think I’ll be sweating when it comes to the end of the year. I think I’ll be sailing through to the end.

Cover image via Goodreads

Book of the Month

It could be a recency bias. Or it could be a ‘cute TV host’ bias, but I’m going to pick Born a Crime by Trevor Noah as my book of the month. I learned a lot about apartheid from this book but I also laughed at it because Noah has a great sense of humor. He had a very effective way of telling his story.

Added to my TBR

It hurts to see this list up, even if it’s just by two to 74. I added my book club picks for the rest of the year so it took a bit of a jump.

  • Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols. I saw this on an ‘upcoming SciFi’ list and it sounded so good that I added it to the TBR.
  • Being Mortal by Atul Gawande. Here’s the beginning of the book club list. I hadn’t heard of this one before but I’ll be reading it soon.
  • An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. This one I had heard of and I’ve read another book by Jones, Silver Sparrow, a few years ago.
  • The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. I hadn’t heard of this one but our sponsoring librarian was pushing it. I think another group is ordering it, which means we sometimes get roped into books we didn’t ask for. We’ll see what comes of it.
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck. We’re trying to read more classics so here’s the first attempt!
  • The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead. After so much good press surrounding this one, I’m excited! I wish it wasn’t a year out, though!
  • Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I was excited to see this on the list because I have an autographed copy after meeting Lee at the Midwest Literary Walk a few months ago. I’m excited to have people to discuss it with!

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: I’ve been able to ride outside a few times so I’m feeling better about this. I’ve got a big charity ride coming up so my bike seat muscles are about to get a crash course!
  • Attend six weddings: Feeling good about this. Two in June so I’ll be sure to let you all know shortly!
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’m no more than a week behind at any point so it feels great. I need to start some more baby blanket projects soon to keep up with those.
  • Write: I finished my editing, just making a few adjustments as I gather a list of agents. This doesn’t feel real but I’m so excited at the same time.
  • See my friends more: I am terrible at this. Does seeing my tri club count? If not, then I failed. I see my training partners, but that’s about it right now. I’ll argue I’m becoming closer friends with them.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2019, it’s fun!

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!

Book Review: Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi (4/5)

30 May

I read Night and The Diary of a Young Girl very close to each other a few years back and it got me to add this book to my list as well. I received it as a Christmas gift a few years ago but it lingered on my shelf for a while. A trip to Las Vegas seemed like as good a time as any to dive into it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1943, Primo Levi, a twenty-five-year-old chemist and “Italian citizen of Jewish race,” was arrested by Italian fascists and deported from his native Turin to Auschwitz. Survival in Auschwitz is Levi’s classic account of his ten months in the German death camp, a harrowing story of systematic cruelty and miraculous endurance. Remarkable for its simplicity, restraint, compassion, and even wit, Survival in Auschwitz remains a lasting testament to the indestructibility of the human spirit.

This is a survival story, no question about it. Levi focuses on how he lived in the camp and how he survived when so many around him didn’t make it. He talks about the right amount of work to do, the good jobs to get, the ways to pass examinations. He details how the trading system worked and what tools were essential and how to get them, how to make them. It felt like a survival story more than a Holocaust story to me. The Nazi officers were not consistent characters but Levi’s bunk-mates and trading partners were.

Levi painted vivid pictures of other prisoners. He gave us details about ones who were like him, ones that were unlucky, and ones that couldn’t survive. I felt he pained a vivid picture of himself, too. For me, the most impactful part was when he detailed the other men in the quarantined room with him before liberation. The teamwork they demonstrated was incredible. Finally, it was about the survivability of the group and not the individual and that really shone through.

Levi was the only major character in the story and I liked how he portrayed himself. He was smart and was able to use that intelligence to get him a good position. But a good position didn’t mean comfort, it meant more opportunities. He stole and traded and schemed to get more food. He used that job to survive and to help his friend survive. There was no enduring, you had to find a way to make things better for yourself.

It was hard to relate to Levi and the characters in the story because his story is so extreme. I think that’s why it’s important. It’s important to remember that humans did this to other humans because they thought some were less than others. It highlights what happens to us when we do this to each other and why we can never let this happen again. It’s the un-relatability of his story that’s so important.

Primo Levi
Author photo courtesy of the Paris Review

The final scenes in the infirmary spoke to me most. In history, I’d heard that those who were ill were left behind and liberated soon after. The days-long delay and the horror it brought was never mentioned before. The number of men who died waiting for freedom astounded me and I was so sad to hear about them.

The book was non-chronological and that confused me at times. I would question what job Levi was doing or how long he had been in the camp when something happened and I’d be confused for a few pages before I found a landmark. I understand that this book was not written in chronological order on purpose; it’s written to detail the different steps taken to survive. It’s a small gripe, but it’s really the biggest one I have.

We should not have to survive the treatment of other humans. Abused women and children, prisoners, and Holocaust victims have survived things that no person should have to. We have the ability to take away the freedom of others. But we shouldn’t. We shouldn’t have to be ‘survived’ by others in the way Levi had to survive.

Writer’s Takeaway: Levi told a story with impact. He didn’t sugar-coat anything or leave out any detail that might be embarrassing. His candid telling is why this is so powerful and wonderful and scary and tragic. I think memoir should always be like this. Otherwise, we might not learn something essential.

The book was impactful, though I did find myself confused and tuning out at times because of the time jumps. Four out of Five Stars.

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:
Primo Levi Blog- Survival in Auschwitz through a Christian Perspective
Primo Levi’s reflection on humanity in crisis: Survival in Auschwitz (If This is a man) | Literaturesalon’s Blog
An Encapsulating Analysis of Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz | Vivid Incandescence
Survival in Auschwitz | Posthegemony

WWW Wednesday, 29-May-2019

29 May

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 an effort to keep moving through Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min again. Eventually, this will pay off and I’ll have it finished. But I’m enjoying the ride as I go. It’s not a bad book, just a slow read for me.
I’m on my final renewal of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. There’s no way I’ll finish it in time, but I’ll make a grand effort. I’m hoping I can go in and show them I still have it and get it renewed again a few more times before I have to give it up.
I was really enjoying A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers but I’m going to have to put it aside for a bit. I’ve got some books with deadlines that are pressing on my time and I know I’ll come back to this one when I can.
My new audiobook is Lair of Dreams by Libba Bray, the second installment of the Diviners series. I read the first in this series a while back so it’s a bit of a struggle to remember what happened and keep up. It’s a fun story, though, and I’m enjoying it.
I picked up Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson on Friday and decided to jump in so I can finish well before the due date. There’s no renewal on this one since it’s part of the Interlibrary Loan system. So far, it’s a nice review but I haven’t picked up on anything that’s going to make me stop and fix my own novel. I guess that’s a good thing?

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook for Born a Crime by Trevor Noah and absolutely loved it. I learned a lot about growing up in South Africa and how people interact there. It’s not a country I’d ever given much thought to outside of Mandela so I’m really glad I read this. Not to mention Noah’s amazing narration and humor shine through.

I did get one review posted (yes, I’m very behind on them). I posted my review of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid on Thursday. Please check it out when you can. I enjoyed the book a lot and my book club has since met to discuss it so I’m excited to continue the conversation.

Reading Next: My next book club selection is Wolf’s Mouth by John Smolens. I was sad to be unable to find this one on audio so it will be my next physical read and means I’m keeping Genius on the backburner for just a bit longer.


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!

Book Club Reflection: The Power by Naomi Alderman

28 May

My book club met last week to talk about a book I didn’t particularly like, The Power by Naomi Alderman. It was very OK for me, nothing outstanding and nothing terrible. It seems we were all a mixed bag on this one.

Despite having so many American characters, the writer is British. She mainly writes science fiction and is friends with Margaret Atwood. She won the Baily’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for this book.

The letters that began and ended the novel were a bit out of place and confusing. We thought they may have been more effective if they’d been scattered throughout the novel instead of only at the beginning and end. Naomi seemed very critical and heavy-handed, but we wondered if this was criticism because she’s a woman or because she was honestly heavy-handed.

The other structural thing that we talked about was the artifacts. They seemed a bit out of place in the book and one reader noticed an inconsistency. One of the artifacts was an Apple device (bitten fruit) and how it was unknown what that thing was. Yet at another point in the book, someone was using an iPad. It just didn’t seem to jive.

The story was quite violent and brutal. Some of our readers felt this was just what one should expect with war and such radical change in a country.

We pointed out that Alderman did address transgender people as it applies to this new world. Jocelyn’s boyfriend at one point has some small power in a skein and he’s ostracized and criticized by both men and women; for not belonging and for thinking he could belong. It was a nice touch for her to include this.

Each of the different speakers gave us a unique perspective on the changes. Roxy was very powerful but she still had the ‘feminine’ quality of mercy. She had mercy on her father when we suspected he would not have had the same. That ended up being her downfall.

Ally raised a lot of questions for us. Some wondered if the voice she heard was a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with the trauma she faced in foster care. If it was divine intervention, did Ally really believe in what she was doing? Or was she enjoying a way to manipulate the system and grow into her power?

Tunde’s classic observer view was great and a lot of us liked him. He was so used to male privilege that he assumed he would be OK and evade the rules. He stayed longer than he should have, as happens to journalists today. We all had to shrug when he said he felt unsafe walking down the street. We’d all felt that way at one time or another. It was just funny coming from a man.

The part that shared the comments section from the UrbanDox site was chilling because of how real it felt. It could have been the comments section of almost any news article today. When someone in power feels threatened, they lash out at a minority or a group that is gaining power. It’s this reason that changes can take so many centuries to happen: the powerful don’t want to give up their power. It’s why we still struggle with racism today in a world that is ‘equal.’

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!