Archive | March, 2015

Harry Potter Lessons: Redemption

31 Mar

This is the second of posts in a series I’m doing called ‘Harry Potter Lessons’ where I’m going to write about what being a Harry Potter Fangirl has taught me. These are much more personal than my average posts but I promise that once my reading slump ends, I’ll be back to book reviews and memes. In the mean time, I hope you enjoy these.

Image from TheMarySue

Image from TheMarySue

My first post talked about what I see as the overall theme of the books. Now I want to concentrate on specific lessons that they taught me. The first one is redemption. There are several characters who recognize that their actions were wrong and work to correct the error in their ways. The most public of these is Draco Malfoy. We see int he sixth book how Draco is not inherently evil as we’d previously been led to believe. After seeing his father sent to jail and being asked to step up and fill his shoes, Draco hesitates. Seeing his father go to jail for something awakens some sense in him and he begins to repent for what he’s done. In the end, his redemption is cowardly as he runs away rather than fight, but he seeks redemption ultimately. It’s never too late to change your ways.

Image via HelloGiggles

Image via HelloGiggles

The other major character example is Sirius Black. He was burned off his family tree for running away from home to stay with James Potter because he couldn’t stay at home with his mother. (Andromeda Black was also burned off the tree for marrying Ted Tonks, a Muggle born.) She was obsessed with the Black family purity which didn’t interest or concern Sirius. He preferred to be with the Potters, who were also purebloods but less concerned with blood status. Sirius was able to carve his own path apart from his family and even though he was born into a family that on the whole followed Voldemort. Sirius was able to get himself out of the situation early but deciding to break from his family means he ended up fighting his family and was ultimately killed by his own cousin. An unfortunate circumstance of being a blood-traitor.

Image via @xhespercy

Image via @xhespercy

Another character who redeems himself is Percy Weasley. Percy is the only unlikable Weasley in a family of strong, good-hearted pureblooded wizards. He places his loyalty outside of his family with his job at the Ministry which seems like a good idea at the time. As the Ministry becomes more and more corrupted, Percy seemingly goes along with it. But at the last minute, he realizes that the organization in which he placed his trust has become corrupted and his family opens him back with open arms. Like Draco, he’d been swept up in something that seemed right at the time but later realized wasn’t morally correct.

There are so many things I’ve learned from Harry Potter, I’m only scratching the surface. What have you learned from this series? Who else redeemed themselves? It’s my birthday so leave me some comment love!

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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Harry Potter Lessons: What I Think the Series Means

30 Mar

I’ve decided to do a series about Harry Potter. This is partially out of my obsession with the series and partially because I’m in between books with nothing to write. Either way, this is something that means a lot to me and I’ve been wanting to share for a long time. In this first post, I want to share my overall feelings about the series and in further posts, I’ll dive into individual lessons I learned. Look for those coming soon.

I understand that some people have not read or will not allow their children to read the series for various religious reasons that deal with witchcraft. When I hear of cases like this, I understand, but it makes me sad. There is so much in the series if you are able to look past the spells and magic. But that’s like saying you should buy a dress that fits you well if it’s a color you don’t like and doesn’t look good on you. If the premise doesn’t work, don’t force it.

Voldemort

Image via HarryMedia.com

For those who are able to get through the series, there are a lot of interpretations and key messages but for me, the theme has always been clear. Harry Potter is about the dangers of racism and prejudice. We’re introduced to a character with mixed blood purity who has to defeat a villain who, while also having mixed blood, believes in a purification of the population. Does this remind anyone else of this guy? He’s gathering an army around him to pick off those who the leader considers inferior and ruining the pure race through influence and inbreeding. I’m not even sure if I’m talking about Hitler or Voldemort anymore. Both were willing to kill to reach their goal and relied on devoted followers to carry out their bidding. There was a group seen as inferior (Muggles or Jews) that needed to be eliminated or controlled. Using fear mongering and displays of power, both were able to control their followers and carry out their agendas. That is, until the ‘light,’ the ‘good guys,’ the Allied Forces, and the Order of the Phoenix overcame that power in a series of battles that defeated the leader. Harry Potter is a warning that the evils of Hitler are can take shape in many forms and that we have to be strong like Dumbledor and Harry to keep that evil, that single-minded drive for power and control, at bay. It does matter if it’s the Aryan race (which Hitler was not part of) or purebloods (which Voldemort was not), there are groups that some find inferior and will work to defeat.

Image via the Sun

Image via the Sun

But Harry Potter overcame this evil. He saw that Hermione was as worthy of being a witch as Ginny and that Draco was as flawed as Hagrid. He saw a value in all humans, no matter what their blood status. The books taught me about tolerance and acceptance of those who are different and the dangers that come when we segregate people for the way they were born.

Some elements of the story can be applied to the Civil Rights movement in the US but because Rowling is a British citizen, I think this is more accidental than on purpose. But this helps drive home the message that prejudices are all around us and we can’t escape from them unless we fight against them. If we don’t speak out (like Aberforth) we can’t make a change and have to live with the consequences.

 

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!

Friday Book Memes, 27-March-2015

27 Mar

Welcome to the busiest week of my life edition of Book Blogger Hop, Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 hosted by Coffee Addicted WriterRose City Reader and Freda on Freda’s Voice. It’s likely that I’m on a plane as you read this. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Book Blogger Hop

This is my first Book Blogger Hop and I plan to make this a recurring thing (as long as I like the questions!). This week’s question is,

Which books have you read in the past month that still have you thinking back to the storyline and the characters?

Looking up what books I read this past month I had the rude realization I’ve only read two. Yikes! I guess that means I’m going with The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. This book tells the story of the woman who worked to enrich uranium for the Manhattan Project. What I’m still thinking about is what I would do if I were in the shoes of the characters in this book. They didn’t know that what they were working on would be the most deadly weapon of the age and kill innocent civilian Japanese. The question became, do the ends justify the means? If it ends the war and saves American soldiers, is it worth the casualties? This is sticking with me because I just saw American Sniper as well and I have the same question about that story as well.


 

My book turn-over is pathetic right now so I’ve yet again returned to my bookshelf to pick up a title to share. In memory of Terry Pratchett and his passing recently, I decided to pick up Good Omens which Pratchett co-wrote with Neil Gaiman.

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

It was a nice day. All the days had been nice. There had been rather more than seven of them so far, and rain hadn’t been invented yet. But clouds massing east of Eden suggested that the first thunderstorm was on its way, and it was going to be a big one.

I had to post a few sentences for this one. The first two sentences are pretty much a ‘writing no-no’ because describing the weather is very high up on the list of ‘ways not to start your novel.’ But the direction that Gaiman and Pratchett go with it is awesome. You realize very quickly that we’re talking about the beginning of time when God created the world. Bravo Gaiman and Pratchett.


 

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.

Page 56 brings us a conversation between and angel and a demon. Their drunken conversation goes like this:

“Heaven has no taste.”
“Now–”
“And not one single sushi restaurant.”
A look of pain crossed the angel’s suddenly very serious face.

I remember this book being funny and enjoyable, but you can’t take it too seriously. It’s a comedy about the apocalypse, after all. If you like a comedy of the type this conversation shows, this is a solid read. A good laugh between more serious dramas.

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!

Sam’s Favorite: Books I read before Goodreads

26 Mar

I’ve run into a problem the last few weeks where I don’t have enough content to post something on Thursdays. I’ve decided I’ll use this time to post some topics that are a little more personal. Last week, I talked about how I read more than one book at a time. This week, I want to feature some great books that got lost in my Goodreads shelves.

These include some of my favorite books of all time! These are the 5-star books I read before I started tracking my books on Goodreads. I’m listing them in alphabetical order to show impartiality. And you’ll notice Harry Potter missing from here. That could be its own post. Use the links to take you to the book’s page.

The Hunger Games and Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.

  • These books were some of the first ‘can’t put it down’ books I’d read in a few years. My husband lent me the first one and I devoured it! The second and third were Christmas presents to him and I refused to let him read on without me. He read 2/3 of ‘Catching Fire’ out loud to me as we drove to Cincinnati for a family vacation. The third is purposefully missing from this list because I was disappointed with the ending.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

  • I can’t explain why, but I love circus books. Especially historical circus books. Is that specific enough? I thought this story was so well woven and the characters were really well done. The movie was okay but didn’t have the visual prowess the book did.

The Outsiders by SE Hinton

  • When I’m asked for my favorite book of all time, this is the book I tell people. The story moved me when I first read it in middle school and to this day, it still makes me want to cry. It’s an amazing story.

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

  • John Irving is my favorite author and this is my favorite book by him. It’s the first I read and my favorite high school teacher recommended it to me. It’s a great story. I lent my copy to a co-worker and I’m afraid I’ll never get it back!

The Guinea Pig Diaries by AJ Jacobs

  • Jacobs is my favorite non-fiction writer. His longer works are great, but these short little experiments were great! Each was well thought-out and executed and I loved them all. I used the ‘Outsourcing’ story for a class project and my professor loved it.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles

  • The first book I read for school and wanted to re-read later. It was the first time I ‘got’ symbolism and it reminds me of The Dead Poet’s Society in setting. Great book.

Sometimes life before Goodreads seems like it was a lifetime ago when really it was a few years. What are some of the best books you read before Goodreads? Leave a comment and let me know!

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!

WWW Wednesday, 25-March-2015

25 Mar

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. 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?


round houseCurrently reading:  There’s been a lot of forward movement on La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. My goal is to finish this book by the end of the year, and I’m hoping to finish it off this summer if not sooner. It’s slow going to read in another language, but it’s been enjoyable.
I lost my eBook, Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins until another copy becomes available. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s slowing down a bit, but I’m still enjoying it. Seven hours into a seventeen-hour story.
The audiobook in my car is The Round House by Louise Erdrich. I’m making great progress on this one and the only problem seems to be that the narrator’s voice makes me sleepy! I have to turn it off for a minute and listen to some rock music if I’m going to stay awake for the drive home. Audiobook problems.

Atomic CityRecently finished: Yikes. Nothing yet again. This is bad, I know. The books I’m moving through are all very long so it’s going to be a while before I finish any of them! This will make for an interesting post at the end of the month. Oh boy.

I was able to do one book review this week, The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I really enjoyed the story and recommend it to anyone interested.

White TigerReading Next: I’m still waiting to read The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga. I heard the other two woman in my book club talking about this one and I think it will be interesting to read because it seems very ingrained in Indian culture and I might put my knowledge to the test! And have to Wikipedia a few things.


Leave a comment with your link and a 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: Zeitoun by Dave Eggers

24 Mar

Not surprisingly, my book club’s discussion of ‘Zeitoun’ was very tinged y the controversy surrounding the main subject and his family. It was good to talk about it with some other people but this was a delicate discussion to have so I didn’t take notes on all things that were said in an effort to keep this blog free from as much political discussion as possible. I apologize that this is short.A few people thought that Zeitoun’s story seemed a little unreal because of how kind he was portrayed and how extreme his treatment in the jail was. We liked that he cared for the dogs and the other people around him but in light of the news, we’re wondering if it’s true. The treatment he received in the Greyhound jail seemed very extreme and made us think about those detained at Guantanamo Bay. Is what they experienced normal of those held there? Why would the government or police think it was okay to treat people who were accused of looting the same as those accused of terroristic plots?

A few people thought that Zeitoun’s story seemed a little unreal because of how kind he was portrayed and how extreme his treatment in the jail was. We liked that he cared for the dogs and the other people around him but in light of the news, we’re wondering if it’s true. The treatment he received in the Greyhound jail seemed very extreme and made us think about those detained at Guantanamo Bay. Is what they experienced normal of those held there? Why would the government or police think it was okay to treat people who were accused of looting the same as those accused of terroristic plots?There were so many factors that made Katrina the disaster it was. A huge part of it was the levees breaking. Because the levees were known not to be strong enough to support the amount of water that a hurricane the size of Katrina could cause, was it a manmade disaster? There’s no arguing that nature took its turn first, but what about the aftermath? We argued that the work should have been

There were so many factors that made Katrina the disaster it was. A huge part of it was the levees breaking. Because the levees were known not to be strong enough to support the amount of water that a hurricane the size of Katrina could cause, was it a manmade disaster? There’s no arguing that nature took its turn first, but what about the aftermath? We argued that the work should have been done, but the $5 million price tag on the work was a deterrent that in hindsight seems cheap but at the time was too big to surmount. Any trees and hills that had been removed or flattened for city expansion could have stopped the erosion and expansion of the levee water, but it had been removed for city development. Sometimes nature has her own insurance policies that humans remove.The anecdotes about how FEMA and other government bodies seemed to provide no solid assistance were so frustrating. The novel seemed to tell us that the possibility of terrorism was more of a concern than helping those who were in need and could have benefited from public assistance. There was an impression that assistance was more

The anecdotes about how FEMA and other government bodies seemed to provide no solid assistance were so frustrating. The novel seemed to tell us that the possibility of terrorism was more of a concern than helping those who were in need and could have benefited from public assistance. There was an impression that assistance was more effective in other regions touched by the disaster than it was in New Orleans. Perhaps New Orleans was a problem so hard no one wanted to tackle it.We felt there were a lot of questions about Zeitoun’s co-captives that should have been raised. Why were Nassar and Todd held for so much longer than Zeitoun? If they’d

We felt there were a lot of questions about Zeitoun’s co-captives that should have been raised. Why were Nassar and Todd held for so much longer than Zeitoun? If they’d been brought in on similar charges, why were they not released at the same time Zeitoun got out? Why didn’t Zeitoun advocate for his friends? We can understand not sticking up for the unknown Ronnie, but Todd was a long-time border and Nassar a friend. Why would they be left for five and six months in conditions that Zeitoun knew were inhumane? It seemed fishy.Zeitoun was a very self-dependent person. It didn’t surprise us that he didn’t leave New Orleans with his livelihood staying in the city. He wanted to be around the things that kept him dependent. He had grown up in his oldest brother’s shadow and wanted to be a hero the way Mohammed was a hero to their small town in Syria.

Zeitoun was a very self-dependent person. It didn’t surprise us that he didn’t leave New Orleans with his livelihood staying in the city. He wanted to be around the things that kept him dependent. He had grown up in his oldest brother’s shadow and wanted to be a hero the way Mohammed was a hero to their small town in Syria.Now we turn to the part of the discussion that was tinged with the recent news. When we thought about it, Kathy’s voice seemed to be withheld. It seemed more like Zeitoun speaking through her than a separate and distinct voice. We also noticed a few things that stuck out in light of the news. She seemed to jump to the conclusion that her husband had died very quickly. When he’s stuck in an area where there are no working phones and conditions are changing by the minute, you have to expect that there might not be any news for days or weeks at a time. She seemed to think he was dead quickly. Was it wishful thinking? Her memory loss might have other origins than PTSD in light of the trial. If he wasn’t afraid to beat her with a tire iron in public, what kind of head trauma might she have suffered behind closed doors? It might be memories of Katrina or maybe memories of being hit by her husband.

Now we turn to the part of the discussion that was tinged with the recent news. When we thought about it, Kathy’s voice seemed to be withheld. It seemed more like Zeitoun speaking through her than a separate and distinct voice. We also noticed a few things that stuck out in light of the news. She seemed to jump to the conclusion that her husband had died very quickly. When he’s stuck in an area where there are no working phones and conditions are changing by the minute, you have to expect that there might not be any news for days or weeks at a time. She seemed to think he was dead quickly. Was it wishful thinking? Her memory loss might have other origins than PTSD in light of the trial. If he wasn’t afraid to beat her with a tire iron in public, what kind of head trauma might she have suffered behind closed doors? It might be memories of Katrina or maybe memories of being hit by her husband.I was personally upset that Kathy’s family couldn’t accept her religion and her conversion. She

I was personally upset that Kathy’s family couldn’t accept her religion and her conversion. She chose to become a Muslim before she even met Zeitoun so their insistence that her hijab was something Abdulrahman made her do was ridiculous to me. Their comments that she could take it off because ‘he wasn’t there’ make me wonder if they saw it as an oppression of her religion or her husband and if they could draw a difference between the two. I also wonder if they knew about the abuse and correlated Islam and spousal abuse, making it harder to accept their daughter in a hijab. Either way, it upset me that they didn’t love everything about her, even the parts that were different from themselves.

We wondered why Kathy would stay quiet about being beaten. Being thrust into the public spotlight would give her the opportunity to stick up for herself and get help, but she remained silent. There was some debate among us about how Eggers might have conducted his relationship with the Zeitouns. Did he know about the abuse and take it out of his book? Did the Zeitouns insist it was removed when they read his drafts? It seems that he gave them a lot of control over the content and we wondered how much was removed by the Zeitouns, how much was removed by Eggers, and how much was never written in the first place.

One member said, “I feel like someone told me there wasn’t a Santa Clause’ when we told her the news. It’s very jarring to hear about a character who was portrayed in such a good light. If the part of the book about his suffering in prison is true, how do we feel about it? Is it karma that he suffered there if he was a wife beater? Did he deserve it? Let me know what you think

This was a very controversal novel and made for a good discussion, but not of the content in the book. I enjoyed the book a lot but I’m not sure that this is the best book for book clubs to discussion in light of the news that came out after it’s acclaim. Great choice for our edgy book club, but maybe not for a more traditional group.

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 Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernen (4/5)

23 Mar

It’s been a long time since I read a quality non-fiction that I enjoyed. We’ve had a few book club flops and I haven’t picked up much on my own. So I am excited to say that I really enjoyed our last selection, The Girls of Atomic City. The title seemed familiar like I’d read a blogger review of it before. Leave me a note if that was you and we can gush about this book in the comments.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan

Summary from Goodreads:

The incredible story of the young women of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who unwittingly played a crucial role in one of the most significant moments in U.S. history.

The Tennessee town of Oak Ridge was created from scratch in 1942. One of the Manhattan Project’s secret cities, it didn’t appear on any maps until 1949, and yet at the height of World War II it was using more electricity than New York City and was home to more than 75,000 people, many of them young women recruited from small towns across the South. Their jobs were shrouded in mystery, but they were buoyed by a sense of shared purpose, close friendships—and a surplus of handsome scientists and Army men!

But against this vibrant wartime backdrop, a darker story was unfolding. The penalty for talking about their work—even the most innocuous details—was job loss and eviction. One woman was recruited to spy on her coworkers. They all knew something big was happening at Oak Ridge, but few could piece together the true nature of their work until the bomb “Little Boy” was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, and the secret was out. The shocking revelation: the residents of Oak Ridge were enriching uranium for the atomic bomb.

Though the young women originally believed they would leave Oak Ridge after the war, many met husbands there, made lifelong friends, and still call the seventy-year-old town home. The reverberations from their work there—work they didn’t fully understand at the time—are still being felt today. In The Girls of Atomic City, Denise Kiernan traces the astonishing story of these unsung WWII workers through interviews with dozens of surviving women and other Oak Ridge residents.

The slow speed at which I read this book should be in no way a reflection on its quality. The last time I read a non-fiction book with this much interest was Steve Luxenberg’s Annie’s Ghosts. Kiernan’s story was well paced and I liked that she changed between the women while telling her story. It was a little hard to keep straight who was who because a lot of the stories had similar elements, but I enjoyed getting the wide range of stories from the variety of women.

I think Kiernan portrayed these women well. Each had her own story and it was obvious that Kiernan took the time to conduct thorough interviews with each of them. I liked that the women had a wide range of backgrounds as far as where they were from, education, family, and jobs. It helped tell a complete story of life in Oak Ridge.

Jane was my favorite. I related to her as an educated woman and I liked that she challenged what a woman could do at that time. She wanted to blaze her own path and when society stepped in and said ‘no,’ it only made her step in another direction but she didn’t stop walking. I wish she’d been able to become an engineer, but I think she did well by herself in her career and it seemed like she found satisfaction in her job.

The women in Oak Ridge were no different from women at any other time and place in America. Their concerns were over men and work and family and their futures. These are the same things my grandma was worried about at the same time in Michigan or my relatives in Ohio were thinking about. These stories are extraordinary because of what these women were doing unknowingly, but they are average in how they live. They are every woman even though they are special.

Denise Kiernan Image via The Daily Show

Denise Kiernan
Image via The Daily Show

I loved how the people of Oak Ridge found out what they had been working on. Many had figured out parts of it, but no one had a full picture of what was going on. Even after it was announced that they worked on the bomb, there were still questions. How did each piece fit into the puzzle? How did one woman turning a knob, another checking pipes, and another crunching numbers have to do with a nuclear bomb? I thought this confusion was really well written. There is often confusion and missed knowledge after a large global event and I thought Kiernan captured this well in her book.

The middle seemed to drag a bit to me. The description of the social clubs was nice, but sometimes too much. The housing situations were overdone a bit. The hardships of living in Oak Ridge were apparent at the beginning of the novel and I didn’t think to push them so much toward the end was needed.

Every day people can do extraordinary things. Wars are not fought by governments alone but by the men and women of the country who go without sidewalks and are moved out of their apartments at a moment’s notice and who might not even know what they’re doing. When we hear about the hardships of war that those in the 1940s lived through, it’s hard to imagine in the US today. Our troops are overseas and far away and the war effort doesn’t impact us on a daily basis. I loved Kiernan’s descriptions of how these people lived and the means they lived with to support their family and friends overseas.

Writer’s Takeaway: I don’t see myself ever writing historical non-fiction, but if I do, I hope it’s as beautifully written and Kiernan. There are some amazing non-fiction pieces out there and I would count Kiernan’s among them. It’s wonderful when a historical story reads like fiction and I thought Kiernan did that. She used a variety of people’s voices to weave the story so that it wasn’t a single person’s account (like Zeitoun or Anne Frank). A single voice isn’t a bad thing, but it doesn’t give a whole picture. I liked that Kiernan painted a mural instead of a portrait.

Very enjoyable story and one that gives a voice to people whose voices had been previously lost in the WWII conversation. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills the 1940-1959 time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Post:
Book Review: The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II | Literary Hoarders

Friday Book Memes, 20-March-2015

20 Mar

Welcome to the second Friday the 13th edition of Book Blogger Hop, Book Beginnings and The Friday 56 hosted by Coffee Addicted WriterRose City Reader and Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Book Blogger Hop

This is my first Book Blogger Hop and I plan to make this a recurring thing (as long as I like the questions!). This week’s question is,

Do you read more on a rainy day or on a gorgeous day so you can be outside?

Definitely on a rainy day. On a nice day, I’m more likely to go for a run or on a bike ride, but on a rainy day I’m stuck inside and curling up with a good book sounds like a great option. Though, if it’s the day after a bike ride or a run I love reading by the pool rather than pushing myself too far.


 

Sadly, I have yet again not picked up a new book. So I will turn to my shelf and this week I’ve decided to feature The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. My work book club read this last year and we liked the story a lot even if the main character was hard to like.

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

For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose.

Knowing the ending, this is such a great way to start the book. If you don’t know the ending, it might seem strange or give you the impression this book is going to be very different than it is, but I think it’s a good way to start. I don’t want to spoil anything because this is a great read, but the fire plays a huge role in the ending when the truth about the past is finally revealed.


 

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.

Page 56 is a bit dull in this book, but we get a really good characterization of Elizabeth.

Her touch, too, was different; the thorough way she cleaned my hands, witout the heavy, silent burden in the actions of all my other foster mothers. I didn’t trust it.

This is great because it gives us two things; a characterization of how caring Elizabeth is of her new foster daughter and how untrusting Victoria is. Victoria is used to foster mothers who have her for the money and want to spend as little time with her as possible. Elizabeth is loving and wants a child to treat with kindness. The two clash heads if you couldn’t tell from this snippet!

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!

Tips to Being a Successful Book Polygamist

19 Mar

It’s been a while since I did a free form post, but this is something that’s been close to my heart for a while. Every WWW Wednesday, at least one person will comment on how many books I read at one time. To me, there’s no other way to do it! I had this on my brain when I saw a post from Sheila at Book Journey on Reading Styles and I figured it was time to share my tips and some tools that I love.

My ability to read multiple books at once had one secret: diversity! To me, there are two types of diversity in books that make it easier to read a few at a time. The first is the plot. Diversity in genre and setting helps me keep plots from confusing themselves in my head. For example, right now I’m listening to two audiobooks. One takes place in 2000 BC England and the other takes place in North Dakota 1988. (Comment below if you think you know what they might be!) When two books are set in different places or times, it’s harder to get them confused. I read two books set in India at the same time once, but one was modern and the other was set in the 1700s. Time helped me keep them separate even if the setting was the same.

Genre is another way to very the plot. A romance novel and a crime novel might have similar settings, but the nature of the story will help the reader keep the plots separate. I’m reading Christian fiction and non-fiction about WWII. No chance of confusing those!

Piece of advice #2: Have books for different times. I have a book I read during breakfast and one before bed. I have an audiobook for the car and one for when I’m cooking. My assigning these books different times of the day helps me remember that in the morning I read about the rapture and before bed I read about the Manhatten project. In my car, I hear about Native Americans and in my kitchen I hear about Pagan gods.

My third piece of advice is to use different formats. I find that I don’t confuse the plot of my audiobook and my ebook. One I hear and the other I read. Absorbing the story in different ways keeps it separate in my mind. At any given time, I’m working on an eBook, audiobook, and physical book. If you’re lucky enough to have a library card, here are some great resources I’ve found at my library. If your library doesn’t have these, ask if they might be interested in getting them!

Physical Books
Inter-library loan- Get books from other libraries and check them out at your home library. The downside is that it takes a long time for them to come in sometimes.
Reciprocal membership- See if your library offers the ability to get a library card from a partner library.
Membership at another library- Look at libraries in the towns where you work or go to school if it’s different from your own. Some libraries offer the option for students, employees, and business owners to have a card in the community even if you don’t live there.
Library used book sales- I buy most of my books used. My library sells trade paperbacks for $1 and that’s a deal no one can beat. When I go to libraries, I always look for their book sale and see if I can snag a winner. The summer is a great time for big sales.
ARCs- If you’re willing to gamble on a new author or new book, ARCs are great. You can be an early reviewer of a novel that might not have been released yet. There are a million different ways to get ARCs. My favorite is Goodreads Giveaways.

eBooks
3M- I don’t have much experience with 3M but my librarian friends tell me it’s a very user-friendly platform that’s especially great for eReaders.
Overdrive- Probably my favorite reading app! Overdrive allows you to rent eBooks in several different formats. Some you see in a web browser and some are downloaded to the Kindle app. I’m sure there are other formats, but these are the two I’m most familiar with.

Audiobooks
Books on CD- Easiest to get from the library. These are perfect for long car rides or commuting.
Audible- I don’t have a subscription, but I’ve used the app. It’s really simple to use and Audible has a copy if you’re willing to shell out the cash. Good for new releases or titles you don’t want to wait for.
Overdrive- Again, one of my favorite apps. Though this one is a bit hit-or-miss for me depending on the format of the file. Some are simple to download to my phone, but some have to be converted and added to iTunes before I can listen to them on the go. I prefer the former, obviously.
Hoopla- This is my newest love for books. Hoopla has super simple downloads of audiobooks and has some titles available I haven’t seen on any of these other sites. It’s still new and I can only see it growing.

I hope these tips and tools can help you! There are some great resources out there if you’re willing to look for them. If you’re like me, you need to fund your reading habit at the lowest possible price, which is why I’ve tried to list many of the resources that are available at a low cost if provided by your library. I’m no expert and don’t pretend to be, but if you want to know more please Google these services and ask your library! As a Friends of the Library Board member, we love knowing what patrons want from their library.

Let me know if you have any advice for book polygamy! It could be fun to read even more.

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!

Cover Reveal: Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

18 Mar

Post #2 for today. If you’ve been with me for a long time, you might remember when I did a cover reveal for Shannon way back in December 2013. That was for her second book in the Timely Death Trilogy. A few months later, I won a signed copy of the first book in the series during the virtual release party.

Now, a little over a year later, Shannon’s books are being re-released by her new publisher and that means new covers! So feast your eyes on the newest cover for the first installment in the series, Minutes Before Sunset.

Minutes Before

Two destines. One death.

“Her kiss could kill us, and my consent signed our death certificates.”

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Shannon has a great blog (link at the end) that I recommend for writers. She’s been really easy to work with and I’m excited by her success. Congratulations, Shannon. This is a great accomplishment.

Shannon A. Thompson

Shannon A. Thompson

About the Author:

Shannon A. Thompson is a 23-year-old author, avid reader, and habitual chatterbox. She was merely 16 when she was first published, and a lot has happened since then. Thompson’s work has appeared in numerous poetry collections and anthologies, and her first installment of The Timely Death Trilogy became Goodreads Book of the Month. She is currently represented by Clean Teen Publishing, and Minutes Before Sunset releases on July 28, 2015.

As a novelist, poet, and blogger, Thompson spends her free time writing and sharing ideas with her black cat named after her favorite actor, Humphrey Bogart. Between writing and befriending cats, she graduated from the University of Kansas with a bachelor’s degree in English, and she travels whenever the road calls her.

Visit her blog for writers and readers at www.ShannonAThompson.com.