Archive | February, 2015

Friday Book Memes, 27-February-2015

27 Feb

Welcome to the ‘When Will Winter End?’ edition of Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 hosted by Rose City Reader and Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

I got a new book club selection this week that I want to feature. It’s The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I haven’t read much into it yet, but here are your Friday Memes!

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Book Beginnings is all about that very important opening sentence (or two) that us writers are always worrying about! Kiernan begins:

That morning, the excitement coursing through the complex known as the Castle was infectious. The words no one was supposed to speak, the words many had not even know existed, ricocheted off walls and flew freely from the mouths of even the least informed inhabitants of Site X.

I love it! From the subtitle you know that these people were involved in building the atomic bombs that helped end World War II. I like this way of showing the reader that these women didn’t know what they were doing and that they were as equally shocked as the nation to find out the truth. Great start!

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

I haven’t reached page 56 yet, but I like the image this one gives of the timeline of the war and the Project.

But in December 1938, events had transpired that would send the first ripples across the Atlantic of the unleashed power of what the Greeks called atomos, news that had resulted in the birth of the Project.

I never thought of the development of the atomic bombs, only of what happened when they were detonated. I’m excited to read this book and learn more about this incredible and destructive invention.

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: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (4/5)

26 Feb

A well written YA book is a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve read a lot of heavy adult fiction lately and having something light, conversational and a bit romantic is great to cleanse all the sadness. Eleanor & Park came at the perfect time for that and I flew through this wonderful story. Rowell is quickly becoming a favorite author.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Summary from Goodreads:

Two misfits.
One extraordinary love.

Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor.

Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park.

Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

How does Rowell write characters that are so much like me and every other person who reads her books? Honestly, I see myself in Eleanor and Park and I know I’m not the only one saying that. We’re all a bit red-headed misfit and half-Korean punk. I kept reading as fast as I could to see if the characters would have the ending I thought they deserved. In some ways I was happy with it, but in other ways I was disappointed. (SPOILERS FOR THE REST OF THIS PARAGRAPH) I wanted more from the ending, but that’s not how Rowell writes. I know what I’m supposed to think the three words were, “I love you.” By I’m a cynic. What if they were “Forget about me?” Do we really know? I wanted something more conclusive.

Of her books, I think Attachments had the most conclusive ending and Fangirl had the most vague. This sat in the middle but on the Fangirl end of the spectrum.

I love Rowell’s characters. Almost as much as I love John Green’s. Well, maybe more. I think Rowell taps into that book-nerd past many readers share and makes you remember the beauty of it. I loved that they read Alan Moore comics together. I liked that they listened to U2. It was cool and nerdy all at once.

I liked Park best. Eleanor was too much like me in some ways. It’s the parts of me I didn’t like: over-analytical, concerned about appearance, quick to anger. But Park was cool, some things I wanted to be: bold, independent, strong. They were both likable but if I had to pick one, the choice is easy. Plus, who didn’t want an eyeliner-wearing comic-dork ninja for a boyfriend at 16? I know I did.

Eleanor’s social situation reminded me of grade school. Luckily, I couldn’t relate to her home life, but dreading gym class, being friends with people because they were nice to you, being shunned by the ‘cool’ kids and dressing in cheap clothes reminded me of myself. I never wanted to ‘fit in’ and do the ‘cool’ things, much like Eleanor. I had my friends and we were happy. It was cool to see a character who was the same way.

Rainbow Rowell Image via the author's website

Rainbow Rowell
Image via the author’s website

I loved the date that Eleanor and Park went on together. It was so reminiscent of dating in high school, the freedom of a drivers’ license. I liked Eleanor exploring a city she lived in for the first time and how much Park wanted to show it to her. She was finally awarded some level of freedom and the ability to enjoy the world around her. It was really beautiful.

It was hard to read about Eleanor feeling accepted by Park’s family because I’ve had similar problems. My in-laws express their affection in very different ways than my parents always have and even after five years of being around them, I still don’t think they like me and have trouble figuring out if they’re upset. It hit really close to home to see Eleanor struggle with this and I understood what she was feeling very intensely. I think going into someone else’s home for the first time is uncomfortable no matter the circumstances. We all expect the world around us to work the same way but within our personal sanctuaries, we have rules. For example, we are a lid-closed toilet household. If I go somewhere and the lid is up (we won’t even go to the seat being up), I get really uncomfortable. They’ve broken my rule but it’s their house. This is how I saw Eleanor feeling in Park’s house.

I listened to the Listening Library edition of this book narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra for Eleanor and Park respectfully. I think Lowman did an amazing job and I adored her parts of the story. She gave Eleanor a strong voice and didn’t make Park sound too feminine. Malhotra did a good job, but there were some parts of his narration I wasn’t a big fan of. His voice for Eleanor was really squeaky and annoying and I didn’t think it fit her character. His female characters in general feel a bit flat to me, except for Park’s mom. I think he did a great job of bringing her to life.

As someone who met her husband at age 14, it’s hard for me to ignore the message of this book. You can fall in love at 16. You can fall in love any time. As much as you try to run away from it, it can chase you even if you’re in Minnesota. I thought the way they talked to each other was very real and I liked the slow development of the relationship. They were scared of what they felt for each other, like Romeo and Juliet. (Yes, I caught the parallelism. It was awesome.) Society shouldn’t dismiss people who get married young or who marry their high school sweethearts as naive or stupid. We can meet people when we’re young who we want to keep with us forever and that should be embraced.

Writer’s Takeaway: I adored the narrators and their distinct ways of thinking. I also think Rowell did a great job of bouncing back and forth between the two to keep the story flowing. I liked the short little parts about what the two were thinking while they were together, that was adorable. Great way to pace the book.

Overall really enjoyable and well-developed characters. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1980-1999 time period of the 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:
Book Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell | prettybooks
Book Review: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell |Pages and Tea
A Chat with Rainbow Rowell about Love and Censorship | The Toast

WWW Wednesday, 25-February-2015

25 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, 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. 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?


Currently reading:  Again, no movement on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. It’s been a long time on this one and my husband and I have talked about finishing it separately because we haven’t had a lot of car rides together. I think I might take it on after I finish Ptolemy Grey. Hopefully that can be soon.
SombraOne of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I’ve gotten through a bit of this one this week, but not too much. It’s what I pick up between other books. I’ll get it by the end of the year.
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’ve made better progress than I expected on this one, it’s really interesting. I’ve heard the series is really long and I’m not sure if I’ll finish all of them, but I’m enjoying this first installment.
My audiobook is The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. I’m liking the story more as I go. It was hard to follow at first but I’m getting better at figuring it out and I like a lot of the characters. It’s not going to end well, but I still like the journey.
My book club met Monday and I got our next title, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I’m not too far in it yet, but the topic seems really interesting and I’m excited to read more. Come back Friday for a preview.

ZeitounRecently finished: I sped through Zeitoun by Dave Eggers last week. The story was really interesting and I’m still a little nervous to look into the recent news about Zeitoun. I want to like him and I heard the news will change my mind.

I got through two book reviews last week. The first was The Diviners by Libba Bray which I really enjoyed. I’ll look forward to the next installment of the series. The second was Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. Our book club discussion on that title was this past Monday so I’ll have a book club reflection up soon.

White TigerReading Next: The girls at work and I are going to be reading The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga soon. I’ll be getting it a few weeks and I’ll have to squeeze it in between book club books but I’m determined to get it in. It sounds like a good one.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). 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 Review: Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat (3/5)

24 Feb

Book clubs are so good for introducing you to new titles. I’d never heard of this one before but I was intrigued that it was set in Haiti as I’ve never read a book set there before. I liked it, I didn’t love it, but the storytelling was really good.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

 Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat

Summary from Goodreads:

Claire Limyè Lanmè—Claire of the Sea Light—is an enchanting child born into love and tragedy in Ville Rose, Haiti. Claire’s mother died in childbirth, and on each of her birthdays Claire is taken by her father, Nozias, to visit her mother’s grave. Nozias wonders if he should give away his young daughter to a local shopkeeper, who lost a child of her own, so that Claire can have a better life.

But on the night of Claire’s seventh birthday, when at last he makes the wrenching decision to do so, she disappears. As Nozias and others look for her, painful secrets, haunting memories, and startling truths are unearthed among the community of men and women whose individual stories connect to Claire, to her parents, and to the town itself.

This book was completely different from what I was expecting.  To be honest, I was anticipating The Light Between Oceans in Haiti in terms of a missing child and someone mourning her. I liked the way Danticat wove the story by telling connected stories across time and space. It was more than the story of Claire and finding her, you had to understand why her father was going away, why Madame Gaelle wanted her, and more that I won’t reveal here. It gave you a background that you didn’t realize was important until the end.

I think that’s the one thing that bothered me. I didn’t realize what I was reading was relevant to the story until the final pages and I was thinking Why are you telling me this? for a lot of the story.

I don’t think I’ve ever met someone from Haiti before. At least not intimately; it’s likely I’ve met someone in passing. Because I don’t know the country or the people very well, it was hard for me to judge if they were portrayed accurately. Seeing as the author was born in Port-au-Prince, I’m assuming the people are accurate. Danticat lives in Miami so I’m guessing that her opinions of ex-pat Haitians might be an evaluation of her opinions on herself. Interesting.

Bernard was my favorite character. I thought he was the most likable of the narrators we were introduced to and the most sympathetic. When we find out his secret at the end of the book, I started to re-question his story and I liked that Danticat made me do that. He was a small part in Claire’s total story, but very key. I wish he’d had a longer part to play.

Nozias’ story spoke to a lot more people than those who had been in his situation. Not everyone has to give up a child, but everyone has had to do something hard that they didn’t want to do. We’ve put these things off and tried to find reasons not to do them, but in the end they always catch up to us. I pitied Nozias but I also related to him.

Because Bernard was my favorite character, his story was my favorite in the book. I thought it had a lot to say about humans and how they treat each other and about life in Haiti. I didn’t think the other sections touched on both of these so well. Bernard was a very driven person and I liked his dedication.

Max Junior’s section was my least favorite while reading it, but after reading the ending, I liked it a lot more. I thought Max was a very selfish and bad person at first. I didn’t want to like him and I wanted his section to be over faster so that I could get on to someone I liked more. After reading the end, I felt bad for him and I wish I’d had a hint of that pity while he was narrating, but I think Danticat made the right choice on pacing by not telling her reader too much.

Edwidge Danticat Image from the ALA website

Edwidge Danticat
Image from the ALA website

Claire’s path was affected by many people she didn’t even know. Our lives are so connected that it’s likely I don’t know or remember the person who had the biggest impact on my life. This is reminding me of Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven now that I think about it. Someone like Louise affected how Claire’s life played out, but she had no idea. I wonder which invisible characters have changed my life.

Writer’s Takeaway: Writing though multiple points of view can be challenging and making each character important and memorable is harder. Danticat does a wonderful job in this book of giving me people with unique personalities that I care about and showing how they’re all important to the overall plot. I’ve very impressed with her writing.

She takes a country I know little about and gives me just enough to give everything context without dumbing the context down for me. I love exploring new places through literature and Danticat made it easy.

Well written and enjoyable. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfills the 200-Present time period for the 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: Claire of the Sea Light; Edwidge Danticat | My Good Bookshelf
Claire of the Sea Light | Shelf Love
Edwidge Danticat: Claire of the Sea Light | Sliver of Stone Magazine

Book Club Reflection: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

23 Feb

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Gone Girl. I read the book a few months ago and saw the movie soon after. In my opinion, this is a great story. My book club read it just before Valentine’s Day (you know, because it’s so romantic). It renewed my faith that this book is great but I hate the characters more than I can easily express in words. It seems that most others felt the same way.

WARNING: THE REST OF THIS POST CONTAINS MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE BOOK AND MOVIE. PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK.

We all liked the suspense and red herrings in the book. Especially at the beginning of Part II when you find out Amy is still alive! (What?!) The alternating points of view kept the book moving forward at a good pace. If you were more enamored with Nick, you knew he had a chapter coming up and if you wanted to see what Amy was up to, there was just a bit in the way before you came to that.

A few members had read the book twice by the time we met. They said that going through it a second time helped them find clues about later events that had been woven in and hidden really well by Flynn. I remember at the beginning when Nick was talking about how many times he had lied already that day. Knowing the truth, you could count them.

We debated whether the book was misogynistic or feminist and our group was split. Some of us didn’t like that the female characters were so unlikable and how often they were referred to in a derogatory way. At the same time, Amy is such a smart and in-control person, that it almost seems feminist. There’s really no right answer, in my opinion, and it’s a good mix of both.

When we first meet Amy, it’s easy to feel sorry for her. Even in the end of Part I we start to see how manipulative she is and how much she’s controlled what goes on around her. In Part II is goes crazy. We liked to see her at a loss when she was at the Ozarks retreat. She thought she was so smart and that Greta and Jeff don’t know how to outsmart her and her advanced degrees, but she never learned her street smarts in her ivory tower in NYC. As the reader, I did enjoy that a bit.

We were all shocked at Desi’s murder. Not only did Amy not feel a shred of guilt, but she didn’t suffer a consequence from killing him at all. Yes, it was self-defense, but everyone seemed to shrug off Jacqueline very quickly, faster than I thought necessary.

Moving away from home can be hard but Amy’s anger and struggle with moving to Carthage was extreme. Someone suggested that she started being angry and the first inkling of planning her scheme when they moved there. Someone had friends from NYC and said that those who move away see it as a defeat; NYC is the center of the world, why would you want to be anywhere else?

Between the two, we thought Amy was probably the better writer. They both had a talent, to be sure, but her craftiness and ability to write treasure hunts and elaborate plans made it obvious to us that she was a creative mastermind.

Her relationship with Nick was a game. She talked about being the ‘cool girl’ and how Nick loved that. Every girl plays the ‘cool girl’ at the beginning of a relationship. But there’s a point where that ends and you have to be real with your partner. Amy never did this. Nick had no idea she was capable of murder. If he did, he probably wouldn’t be able to live with her.

Nick made us angry. He lied about everything and wanted to be liked more than he wanted to be good. He only cared about being liked by the people around him at any given time but didn’t care so much about being who he was or true to what he believed. He wanted to project a good person even if he wasn’t one underneath. He seemed lost in himself. In that sense, he and Amy deserved each other.

His relationship with Margo was non-traditional, but a lot of our members said that it was common of what they’ve seen in twins. They have a unique connection and ability to communicate where they’re very close and honest with each other. I thought the ‘twincest’ thing was a bit far in the book and was the part of the media hype I hated the most.

With Amy and Nick as narrators, could we really trust anything that was said? Both were so selfish that they would skew the story in their favor to win over the reader. I think most things in the book have to be taken with a grain of salt with these two as narrators.

Most of us were disappointed in the ending. It reminded me of Rainbow Rowell books, which seem to end too suddenly. But really, that’s what life is like; it doesn’t end in a cute little package that we can put a bow around and smile. It had to end unhappily because Nick and Amy weren’t a happy couple. Relationships aren’t perfect and you sometimes have to settle with a flaw in your partner. Granted, it’s not usually murderer, but to each his own. It seemed that they had figured out the other’s flaws in the end.

We were scared that they were having a child. We thought about what that kid would grow up to be. At best, another Amazing Amy. At worst, he could be a school shooter. There would be some kind of psychological problems in the kid no matter what. There’s no good role model for him to look after.

Our next book will be Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I’m about a third of the way done with it now and I’m excited to talk about it!

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!

Giveaway!!

23 Feb

You might recognize Nicole’s name from my Read-Alongs and being a close critique partner. She’s giving away a copy of her book so please enter if you’re interested! (PS- I’m quoted in it, so there’s that.)

Friday Book Memes, 20-February-2015

20 Feb

Welcome to the ‘frigid cold’ edition of Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 hosted by Rose City Reader and Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

This week I’ll be featuring a book I read over a year ago, Some of Tim’s Stories by S.E. Hinton. Hinton is one of my favorite writers of all time and her book, The Outsiders is my #1 recommended book. This is a short story collection she published much later.

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Book Beginnings is all about that very important opening sentence (or two) that us writers are always worrying about! Hinton starts her book off with these:

“Not till you’re twelve. That’s the rule,” Uncle TJ said.
“That’s a dumb rule,” Terry said. “That’s two more years.”

This is a great way to introduce characters without too much of an info dump. The boys want to go camping with their father and uncle but the brothers like to have their time away. Terry wants to grow up too fast. Its a great setup for the book.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

The quote on page 56 that I’ve chosen relates to many of the same themes as the opening quote, which I’m geeking out about.

What did grown-ups have to fear? He knew when he was grown up, his own fears would be gone- like not being able to find his room on the first day of school, that maybe driving a car would be beyond him, that he might not be good enough for big-league baseball after all.

Hinton talks about growing up a lot in her books so this is no surprise. I love her characters and they way she writes their thoughts and fears. Now I really want to re-read The Outsiders

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: The Diviners by Libba Bray

19 Feb

I love the 20s and I talk about it a lot so I’m not surprised that my book club moderator  recommended The Diviners to me. It was right up my ally. It was paranormal without the vampire romance and very, very 20s.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

The Diviners by Libba Bray

Summary from Goodreads:

Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult.

Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.

As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened.

This book bothered me a bit at the beginning and a bit at the end. Between those, I was enraptured. The story of Evie and her uncle in New York was really well crafted and the action around Naught John Hobbs was well paced. You can see that my rating of 4 stars is high because of this. The issue I took with the beginning of the novel was the sudden and over-saturated use of 20s slang. As someone who’s writing a 20s novel it was too much. There are some words that needed to be introduced (jake, swell, hooch, etc.) but there were some that were unnecessary and added too purposefully. I remember an early scene when Evie’s parents are talking to her about what she did to be sent away and she’s asked if she has anything to say for herself. She looks to her mother who wears glasses and says, “I hope I never need cheaters” (glasses). That was really unnecessary and I remembered it the rest of the novel. Thankfully I either got used to the writing style or it became less forced because I didn’t think about it much toward the end of the novel.

The other thing that bothered me was the end. I was on the second to last disk when the climax hit. I was a little disappointed because many of the main characters and narrators weren’t involved in the action at all. I brushed that aside a bit but after the fight, there was so much more of the story to go that I was confused where it was heading. The last disk was setting up for a sequel. Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s good to set up for a sequel when you’re writing a book, but I realized that two of my favorite characters wouldn’t even make it into the action until the next book and all the feelings I had for them needed to be put on hold. That was frustrating. The set-up for the sequel seemed forced; like the author forgot to do it before the climax and just tacked it all on to the end. The pacing really fell apart for me there.

I liked that the characters all seemed like a stereotype of a 20s social class at first but as we got to know them they had something or another that made them unique. Memphis has his gift, Theta has hers, Henry is hiding part of who he is, and Evie can be all talk and no action. Bray let on to these slowly which helped me like the characters. None of them seemed over the top, especially for the time. Mable was a favorite of mine because she reminded me a bit of a character in my novel. I was sad she disappeared from the story a bit at the end.

Sam Lloyd was my favorite character. And it’s not because we share a name. I liked his good/bad guy blend and enjoyed not knowing what he was ever really after. I was disappointed when his character wasn’t very involved in the final battle. He was obviously being set up for the sequel, which I’m not likely to read for some time now. I wish I’d seen more from him.

I related to Mabel a lot because she reminded me of myself at her age. I was reluctant to ‘do what the cool kids did’ or break any rules no matter how much I agreed with them. Heck, I shiver at work every day because I won’t buy a personal heater because it’s against the fire code; I’m still Mabel! Again, I wish she’d been around more at the end, she seemed to disappear from the book.

I liked when Jericho, Evie, and Uncle Will went to visit the Brethren. I thought the plot moved really well through that section and that the characters developed a lot. I liked the problems they ran into because they seemed really realistic to me. Sometimes I don’t want people to escape because it seems too convenient, but this one played well.

I’ll ignore my complaints about the beginning and end of the novel when picking my least favorite part. I’ll have to say Isiah’s story was my least favorite part. I thought he was a really great character but what happened to him at the end bothered me because it didn’t develop him and really only diminished his importance in the impending sequel. I wanted to see more from Isiah and Memphis and I was really disappointed that there was nothing more.

The audiobook I listened to was the Listening Library version narrated by January LaVoy. LaVoy did an amazing job at not only giving the characters their own voices but using speech patters and slang of the 20s. I’d imagine it took a lot of research to be able to narrate a book like this one. I also enjoyed that Bray did an introduction at the beginning and an author’s note at the end. It gave the audiobook a really nice touch.

I liked what Bray had to say about looking beyond a person’s appearance. No one was what they seemed in this novel, though that was mostly due to supernatural powers. At the same time, Jericho was someone Evie never would have looked at if she hadn’t been forced to get past her initial thoughts and it seems like Uncle Will has a lot he’s been hiding as well.

Libba Bray Image via Barnes & Noble

Libba Bray
Image via Barnes & Noble

Writer’s Takeaway: I think handling multiple points of view can be really challenging and despite my feelings about the pacing of those other points of view toward the end of the book, Bray handled it very well throughout most of the book. Though Evie narrated most of the book, Memphis still had a lot to say and chapters that jumped to the victims, Theta, and others, kept me interested along the way.

Enjoyable but with some flaws that detracted from me being completely engrossed. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled 1920-1939 in the 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:
Book Review: The Diviners by Libba Bray | Nessa’s Thoughts
Review: “The Diviners” by Libba Bray | Bread and Ink
Review: Libba Bray’s The Diviners | The Stake

WWW Wednesday, 18-February-2015

18 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, 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. 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?

Sun Also RisesCurrently reading:  No movement on The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. We had house guests this weekend so the hubby and I didn’t have much lone driving time. I’m antsy to finish this so I hope to soon. I think we only have one disk left!
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I might have read five pages, so slow-going is an understatement here. It’s a good story, I just don’t have the time to really devote to the book and get through it.
I’m working on my new eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. I’ve read four chapters so it’s slow, but the book’s keeping my interest well. I’ll be interested to see how the movie adaptation is because this one is quite religious and I’m not sure they’d keep that for a mass-release movie but I hope they kept to the book.
My book club book for March is Zeitoun by Dave Eggers. I’ve read two Eggers books before and loved both of them. I really like this one so far and I’m reading it faster than expected. I’ve heard that there’s some controversy about the main subject, but I’m avoiding it until I finish the book and can form my own opinions.
My new audiobook is The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey by Walter Mosley. The book is mostly written from the point of view of a man with dementia so it’s a bit hard to follow at times but it’s really interesting to follow his train of thought. I’ll have to see how I feel when I get farther into this one.

EleanorRecently finished:I finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell on audio. I LOVED IT but had a problem with the ending (typical Rowell reaction from me). I’ll go over it in my review so look forward to that one.

I’ve published two reviews, Doomsday Book by Connie Willis and The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera, which was Read Along #3. Look for Read-Along #4, probably in March or April!

Atomic CityReading Next:  On Monday I’ll get my next book club selection, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. We usually do one non-fiction every six months and this one looks like a great choice!

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). 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!

Read Along 3: The Unbearable Lightness of Being Parts 5 – 7

17 Feb

Read Along 3
With the snow that’s pounded us here in Detroit, Nicole and I have had a lot more time inside to read than we normally do. So instead of stretching this Read Along into four parts, we’ve combined the last two and finished the book! Yep, it’s over. That was a short Read-Along. It only means we’re closer to Read Along #4! Be ready.

Questions from Nicole: In part 5, we learn about Tomas’s article that he wrote comparing Oedipus to the Czech Communists. How can we compare Tomas’s personal actions to the Oedipus story?  His love affairs continued to happen well after he knew Tereza wanted monogamy and in turn hurt her, do you think this was an act that he could claim he didn’t know he was doing?

I don’t think so. Tomas is very aware of what he’s doing and that it’s wrong. I can compare Tereza to Oedipus more readily. She knew when she started dating Tomas that he was unfaithful and tried to change him. When that didn’t work, she tried being unfaithful herself. Because of Tomas’s actions, she didn’t realize that it would be wrong to be unfaithful to him but when she did, she repented and punished herself. This reminded me more of Oedipus’s self-inflicted pain than any part of Tomas’s story.

Also from Nicole: Part 6 brings a lot of deaths. Tereza, Tomas and Franz all die. Pulling in the title of the book, how do you think the unbearable lightness of their being was justified (or not) justified in their deaths. Sabina is left alone and now lives in California, and we learn that she plans her own death – how is her unbearable lightness justified now that she is dead inside but still mortal?

I think this is answered for Tereza and Tomas in part 7 and I’ll answer it later, but here I’ll discuss Franz. I think he was finally able to achieve a lightness of being but lost it in his final moments. After Sabina left him, he found happiness and was honest with his wife. His young mistress and him were good together and I liked them as a couple. But in his final moments, all he could think of was Sabina. It bothered me a lot that after finding lightness and not worrying about his wife, he ruined what he had with the student by bringing Sabina back.

I don’t agree that Sabina is dead inside. I think she is afraid of a lot of things and commitment is chief of those. The last time we see her, she’s made a commitment to a couple that she knows will not last long. I think she’s only able to achieve lightness by not committing but at the same time, it hurts her to be constantly leaving. I think her lightness comes at a terrible price.

Also from Nicole: When Karenin gets sick and needs to be put to sleep, Tereza accounts her relationship with man vs dog. This section was interesting to me, as an animal lover. Comparing the loyalties and companionship of animal to man has some great contrasts. How can we compare the lightness of being to animals and man? Some people argue that animals have no conscious state, meaning they don’t know any better than to be loyal to their owners. What ideas/thoughts do you have with this last theory?

I believe that animals have feelings and mental capacities and I think many animals demonstrate loyalty. Dogs are a great example, like Karenin. My turtle is conscience enough to know my husband feeds her most of the time and will look to him for food. Karenin liked the love and attention Tereza gave him and that made him happy. I’m not sure if a dog has the mental capacity to understand the lightness of being. I’m trying to think what a dog could do to achieve that state. Maybe he is always there. There is not much that weighs heavy on a dog’s conscious or that he can dream of to make him happier. I can imagine a dining room table that would make me very happy even though I’ve never seen one that looks like the one in my head. I don’t think Karenin could imagine a toy that he’s never seen before that could make him happy. What he has makes him happy so he is content and has achieved the lightness.

And finally, here’s the musing topic I wrote, which is where I’ll return to the second question: We’ve taken a novel to explain what the Unbearable Lightness of Being is. Now that we know, it’s time to pass judgement. Is it good to feel the lightness? Or is it too unbearable to seek?

I think Tomas and Tereza’s journeys tell us this. Tomas felt the lightness of being for so long and he thought it made him happy. As he grew older, he felt it weighing him down and saw that it affected his relationship with Tereza so that it was never what he wanted it to be. In the end, he was able to forgo his womanizing ways and thought he wasn’t light, he was happy. Tereza was weighed down by Tomas and could never achieve the lightness until they went to the country. Then she realized how she was weighing Tomas down and felt heavy for that. There’s no perfect lightness or perfect heaviness but there’s somewhere in the middle where we are the most happy.

And now it’s over! That was a quick read but I’m really glad I read it. My friend who recommended this goes on my mental ‘trusted recommendations’ list.

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!