Archive | April, 2015

WWW Wednesday, 15-April-2015

15 Apr

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?


DarklyCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. So many of you comment on this each week that I regret I haven’t had time to work on it, but I hope to get to it soon.
No movement on Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. It’s just been a bad week for ebooks I guess. Maybe books in general, I feel like this is going to be a short update.
Minimal progress on Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. Or maybe it just feels that way. With the vacation I took last week, it seems I didn’t get through much.
I started a new book, A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick. So far, it’s reminding me a bit of China Mieville and I haven’t decided how I feel about it yet. I’ll have a better update next week.

Recently finished: I did finish a book! Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo was a book club selection and I liked it well enough. You’ll probably see a review coming soon. Stay tuned.

White TigerReading Next: I have The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga on my bedside table. I know, I know. I keep saying it’s next but it really is! I promise I’ll be reading it soon. Stay tuned.


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!

Meeting Kazuo Ishiguro

14 Apr

Kazuo Ishiguro is probably the most famous author I’ve had the pleasure to meet. Maybe Khaled Hosseini could rival him, but that’s debatable. Either way, Ishiguro was a great person to meet and hear read.

IMG_1535He was doing a signing about an hour before the reading so Nicole and I went and got in line about 4:45. Of course, I picked up his latest book, The Buried Giant. While we were waiting in line, we got the terrible news that we could only have two books signed! I was heartbroken. I had a copy of The Buried Giant for myself, one for my father-in-law, and a copy of my favorite of his novels, Never Let Me Go, for myself. Luckily, the kind soul standing in front of me in line heard my plight and offered to take on of my books for me because she only had one! Thank you, kind soul! So I got all three books signed. Ishiguro is a pro and got through 200+ people in line in two hours without seeming rushed or dismissive. He was even nice enough to take this picture with us.

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There were some refreshments and then it was time to get in line and rush to get good seats. Luckily, I’m super pushy and we got seats about 7 rows back right on the aisle. The awesome picture of Ishiguro below was taken by Nicole while he was reading.

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Ishiguro read Chapter 11 from The Buried Giant to the full crowd. It took him about a half hour reading at a moderate pace. He was very comfortable with his words and you could tell he’d done this several times before. As you can see in the picture, he read from a paperback copy of the book. I’m guessing it’s a proof copy, but I thought it was interesting he chose to use this instead of the final hardbound book.

He agreed to answer questions for the second half hour of the event from the audience. Before you get too giddy, no, I did not ask my author question (How do I get to where you are) because of a fear of talking in front of so many people. He talked mostly about Giant and how it was an unconventional love story because it was a story about those already in love who had to remember why they were in love. The concept sounds very interesting. The couple is afraid of the bad that comes with the good parts of their relationship. They fear separation from each other and never finding out the truth more than they fear death.

Asked about his books, Ishiguro said that he’s fascinated by stories (plot-driven books) and likes trying to blend genres to find a new way to tell stories. One of his older books that I was unfamiliar with is called The Unconsoled and he said it was an attempt to try a new approach to storyline. Instead of being written as a memory or as a current progression of facts, he tried to write about a current progression where the people the character met brought back memories though there weren’t real flashbacks. I had trouble understanding what he was saying and I think only by reading the book would I really understand.

The buried giant in the title referred to secrets and history of the UK that’s been pushed aside but needs to be recalled. There are surely buried giants in any nation’s history and past. The novel plays with remembering and forgetting. How does a nation remember or forget compared to an individual? Are we deceiving ourselves when we forget? I like the concept.

Ishiguro was asked what books were most influential to him as a writer. He gave two, the first is Marcel Proust. He said Proust was a bit dry for him but that in the middle of the text there were great passages that moved him. He wanted to create passages in fiction that moved people in the same way. It was an element to fiction that wasn’t part of visual description and action, something that was more philosophical. He described it as a ‘texture of memory.’ The other book that influenced him was Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. He said he didn’t mean for it to be very influential, but that he’s found passages of that book that are very similar to his own. He uses a style in which the characters are confiding in the reader and sometimes withholding vital information in much the same way Jane does. I thought that it was interesting he admitted to being so influenced by a book to have the same elements in his own work.

Overall, it was a great experience and one I wouldn’t change for anything. It was well worth being tired while I was in Texas!

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 Club Reflection: The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernen

13 Apr

My book club always seems to meet around my birthday. It feels like an extra present from the universe when it happens. We met the day before my birthday this year to talk about The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan. I think we had a really good discussion.

We used the LitLovers questions to guide our discussion.I love when a non-fiction book reads like fiction and I think we found that in this novel. One member thought she needed an editor to cut out some of the passages that seemed repetitive (mud

I love when a non-fiction book reads like fiction and I think we found that in this novel. One member thought she needed an editor to cut out some of the passages that seemed repetitive (mud mud mud).

This was a topic none of us knew much about before reading it. We knew about the testing in New Mexico but had no idea that there were people in Tennessee refining the uranium. I guess we see what the history books want us to remember!

The first question from LitLovers asked us, “Denise Kiernan explains in an author’s note, “The information in this book is compartmentalized, as was much of life and work during the Manhattan Project.” (page 18) How does the book manage to recreate the workers’ experience of months-long ignorance, and the shock of finding out what they were working on?” Kiernan formatted the book into ‘story’ and ‘science’ sections. She used separate chapters to tell us about what was happening in Europe or with the US government but didn’t mix these things with the sections that told the stories of the women. It was interesting to read about those in Europe and what they were doing to advance science, but the women of Oak Ridge wouldn’t have known that so these stories didn’t overlap. One could read only the story sections and learn about life in Oak Ridge or just the science sections and hear only of war strategies and upper military planning. They were well separated.

Many of us felt for those who had been kicked out of their homes for the factories. There are many stories in our own Detroit of this happening, specifically when residents of the Poletown district were relocated to build a General Motors assembly plant. A member of our group had eminent domain evoked on her property; all of the wooded area behind her home was reclaimed by the city for a draining project. She was compensated only $1!

We saw that a lot of the girls seemed to suffer from a mild depression brought on by all the secrets they were forced to keep. We wondered how common in US history and society a situation like this is where so many people are forced to live in secrecy. There’s each nation’s version of the Secret Service and every job has its own minor secrets, but these seem minor in comparison. When I worked in retail, our big secrets were where the Black Friday TVs were going to be placed in the store, not an atomic bomb!

Question six from Lit Lovers asked, “Why were some women so successful at making Oak Ridge home while others were not, were depressed, looked forward to leaving?” This reminded a lot of us of a person’s Freshman year of college. When people go away to school, most either love or hate the experience. Living alone in a dorm, having the freedom to come and go as you please, is very intriguing to some people. Others, however, need the structure they had when they lived at home. They want to go back to somewhere that’s safe. I remember girls from school who went home for Fall Break in October and never came back. They were happier at home.One of the

One of the quotes I found most intriguing was on page 305.

But one woman in particular strode up to Dot, glaring and asked, “Aren’t you ashamed you helped build a bomb that killed all those people?”
The truth was, Dot did have conflicting feelings. There was sadness at the loss of live, yes, but that wasn’t the only thing she felt. They had all been so happy, so thrilled, when the war ended. Didn’t any of these people remember that? And yes, Oak Ridgers felt horrible when they saw the pictures of the aftermath in Japan. Relief. Fear. Joy. Sadness. Decades later, how could she explain this to someone who had no experience with the Project, someone who hadn’t lived through that war, let alone lived in Oak Ridge?
Dot knew the woman wanted a simple answer, so she gave her one.
“Well,” she said, “they killed my brother.”

I asked the women of our group what they would say if they were Dot and asked this question. Most believed they would have conflicting feelings like Dot did. How many lives were saved by bombing the cities? A member said that his father was supposed to be one of the first to invade Japan if the invasion had ended up like the Invasion of Normandy. There are numbers that tell us how many lives would have been lost if that happened. This article predicts American casualties alone t 267,000 – 800,000 with Japanese deaths higher. When you look at the death toll from the atomic bombs at just under 100,000, the math seems to support it. But that doesn’t mean it feels right.

We wondered if the secret of the project could be kept today with modern technology and communication. Modern culture tends to over-share and over-communicate the details of our lives in a manner and efficiency that was unimaginable in the 1940s. We’re not saying that there are no secret government projects, only that 70,000 civilians would not be brought in to work on them. I don’t know if it could be done in 2015. As far as a secret facility, I would think it would show up on Google Earth, but Iraq was able to build an underground facility that went unnoticed for a long time.One of the women in our group was graduating high school during the war and was married in 1945. She remembers being in downtown Detroit when the news of victory came through and that she packed a picnic and went to Belle Isle to celebrate. While the war was going on, she was a nurse’s aid who would relieve the nurses while they were on breaks and lunch and had

One of the women in our group was graduating high school during the war and was married in 1945. She remembers being in downtown Detroit when the news of victory came through and that she packed a picnic and went to Belle Isle to celebrate. While the war was going on, she was a nurse’s aid who would relieve the nurses while they were on breaks and lunch and had several pen pals in the forces that she would write to. She recalls that none of them were in particularly combative areas. She says she hadn’t paid too much attention to world politics and news before the bombs dropped, but that that event was what helped her to realize how important it was to watch the news and be aware. The news was not easily accessible like it is today and it was an effort to pay attention to current events.The third Lit Lovers question was, “Discuss the role that patriotism played in everyday life during World War II. Do you think Americans today would be willing or able to make the same sacrifices—including top-secret jobs, deployment overseas, rationed goods, and strict censorship—that families of that era made? Why or why not?” Many felt that people today are more skeptical than those of the WWII era. We are more likely to question our government. After 9/11, there was a resurgence of patriotism and after that tragedy, the country might have been willing to commit like it did during WWII. However, the war that followed was funded largely by China and the US citizens didn’t have to sacrifice the way that they did in 1945. The Second World War was a very classless war; everyone fought. Vietnam and Korea were not the same way and the veterans of those wars were not treated with the same dignity. Veterans now are treated better.

The third Lit Lovers question was, “Discuss the role that patriotism played in everyday life during World War II. Do you think Americans today would be willing or able to make the same sacrifices—including top-secret jobs, deployment overseas, rationed goods, and strict censorship—that families of that era made? Why or why not?” Many felt that people today are more skeptical than those of the WWII era. We are more likely to question our government. After 9/11, there was a resurgence of patriotism and after that tragedy, the country might have been willing to commit like it did during WWII. However, the war that followed was funded largely by China and the US citizens didn’t have to sacrifice the way that they did in 1945. The Second World War was a very classless war; everyone fought. Vietnam and Korea were not the same way and the veterans of those wars were not treated with the same dignity. Veterans now are treated better.Many of the characters in this story started to blend together for many of us. They had similar stories and met similar men. They were like the cogs in a wheel that ran a machine in a factory. In the beginning, we all said we struggled to keep them separate and know each one’s story, but we realized that it didn’t matter too much and the overall experience was important, not so much the individual stories.

Many of the characters in this story started to blend together for many of us. They had similar stories and met similar men. They were like the cogs in a wheel that ran a machine in a factory. In the beginning, we all said we struggled to keep them separate and know each one’s story, but we realized that it didn’t matter too much and the overall experience was important, not so much the individual stories.

The prevalence of spying in the novel was surprising to many of us. Being asked to spy on your own neighbor was a horrifying thought. We hated that the people would rat each other out for small things that, in the long run, weren’t doing any damage. Though, the need for high security was justified in that time and with that work. We thought that it would be hard to have a relationship of any kind with your coworkers because you couldn’t talk about the thing you had in common; work.

The segregation in the novel was surprising to some of us, but we recognized it as part of everyday life a Southern state during WWII. Kattie’s experience was one of the few that stuck out to me because of how different it was. The story of Ebb Cade was also horrifying. We wondered if he would have been subjected to similar treatment if he was a white man.

We took this question a step further and wondered if the bombs would have been used against Germany. We know that the Japanese were interned during WWII partly because they were easy to locate because of appearance differences. Is it easier to think of those who look different as separate? Is it easier to bomb them as well? Because the German’s fit the American majority of ‘white European,’ would we have bombed them? It’s an interesting question that we were unable to answer.

One of the big players in the book with very little face time is Truman. Those who remember WWII remember him as the man who ended the war, not the man who dropped the bomb. Now that the effects of nuclear bombs are known, he has a less favorable reputation. At the time, the war ending meant an improved quality of life for many people. There were fewer restrictions on products and communication. Though important then, we don’t tend to think of these effects now.

We wondered about Oak Ridge after the war. This was a farming area before and suddenly there were high-tech facilities and an abundance of people. Though many of them moved away, some stayed. What did they do with the buildings? Who wanted to live in the former dorm rooms when they had a chance to go somewhere else?I know this is a longer post so thank you if you made it this far! We had a great discussion. Our next book is Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo.

I know this is a longer post so thank you if you made it this far! We had a great discussion. Our next book is Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo.

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!

Friday Book Memes, 10-April-15

10 Apr

Welcome to the ‘I’m in Cleveland’ 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,

Have you ever received a bound galley from a publisher for review? What did you think about it? Were you surprised at anything?

I’m more familiar with the term ARC, but yes, I’ve received a few. Some of them, I won through Goodreads and some through blog competitions and one or two directly from the authors themselves. I like the idea of having a book before it’s available, which seems so forbidden! I think of the scene in The Devil Wears Prada where the main character gets advanced copies of the next Harry Potter books for her boss’s children. Sometimes I find mistakes that I hope are caught before publication. Sometimes I’m surprised at how big the release of the book is. I received an ARC once that I hated and then saw it on the front shelves at Barnes and Noble a few months later. Ugh.


My newest book is The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga, which I’m reading for my work book club. Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

The white tiger of this novel is Balram Halwai, a poor Indian villager whose great ambition leads him to the zenith of Indian business culture, the world of the Bangalore entrepreneur. On the occasion of the president of China’s impending trip to Bangalore, Balram writes a letter to him describing his transformation and his experience as driver and servant to a wealthy Indian family, which he thinks exemplifies the contradictions and complications of Indian society.

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

Mr. Premier,

Sir.

Neither you nor I speak English, but there are some things that can only be said in English.

Not going to sugar coat it, I love this beginning. It’s a little intimidating because it makes me wonder if the book is going to be written in broken English, but at the same time, it’s pulled me in completely. I want to know what’s so important to the speaker and who he’s writing to. I want to read more.


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 scene where the main character is trying to get a job as a taxi driver and he’s speaking to the man who will give him driving lessons.

‘That’s like getting coals to make ice for you.. Mastering a car’ -he moved the stick of an invisible gearbox- ‘it’s like taming a wild stallion – only  a boy from the warrior castes can manage that. You need to have aggression in your blood. Muslims, Rajputs, Sikhs – they’re fighters, they can become drivers. You think sweet-makers can last long in fourth gear?’

Coal was taught to make ice, starting the next morning at six.

I haven’t gotten to this point in the book yet, so I’m a little lost on the plot. However, the imagery of this scene is great. I love the speaker and the snark of the protagonist. He’s determined and very happy when he gets his way. It will be fun to get into this book.

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!

Harry Potter Lessons: No One is Insignificant

9 Apr

I think the phrase ‘the smallest of people can make the biggest difference’ is a bit cliché. I’d rather say, ‘If Neville Longbottom can change the world, so can you!’ The Harry Potter series is full of characters who think they’re small or insignificant, whom society has told they don’t matter. And these people make the story what it is. They defy this and go on to do great things.

NevilleMy favorite example is Neville Longbottom (if you couldn’t tell). Here’s a boy that everyone overlooked and thought couldn’t achieve a thing. And what does he do? Kill. A. Horcrux. Yeah, big deal. Not only that, but he’s a major part of the resistance in Hogwarts right before the battle. Here’s someone who came from the dopey kid who lost his toad to be a military leader. Is there anything more significant than that? Never overlook someone who seems unimportant. Everyone matters

DobbyLet’s not forget a favorite character in the series; Dobby. I love how Dobby never admitted that he was small and he never let that stop him. When we first meet Dobby, he seems annoying and pesky. But we learn that he saved Harry’s life! More than once, I might add. He tried to keep Harry from school and the basilisk that could kill him and later took a knife for him. There are more times that Dobby came into play, such as when he helped catch Mundungus, and he’s a great character for comic relief. He teaches the reader about loyalty. He was indentured to the Malfoy’s and expected to show them loyalty, but knew that his true loyalty should and did lie with Harry. Great lessons there.

AberforthAberforth never wanted to play a part in his brother’s war. He wanted to make himself insignificant and stand in the background. Slowly, he stuck his neck out a bit at a time. He created a way to get into Hogwarts to talk to the DA members holed up there. He helped Harry when he needed it, breaking the law multiple times to protect a fugitive. He sent Dobby when Harry was in trouble. He wanted to stand down and keep to himself, but he made a huge difference in the success of Harry’s mission. Aberforth realized that he needed to take a stand for what he knew was right and that stand made a world of difference.

LunaLuna Lovegood was always looked at as an oddball. She read upside down, thought there were rockspurts in Harry’s head, could see thestrals, and made friends with ghosts. But in the end, she’s a major part of the revolution and war. She’s smart and more resourceful than anyone thought she was. The low expectations people set for her were easy for her to overcome and she proved herself to be a fierce warrior. There’s a reason she’s in Ravenclaw, but I would argue she’d make a great Gryffindor.

There are many minor characters in the book that play a big role: the Gray Lady, Tonks, Regulus Black, etc. I could go on and one. These are the first four that come to mind. What other characters would you think to add to this list? Is there one in particular that you think defied his or her low expectations? Please let me know in the comments below. I love talking about this series with you all, it’s a favorite of mine.

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 8-April-2015

8 Apr

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?


SombraCurrently reading:  No movement with La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s on hold for a while as I work my way through some book club selections.
I got Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins back! Nothing major with this one, just moving forward slowly. I hope I can hang on to it for a while and make some more progress with it.
The audiobook is Stonehenge by Bernard Cornwell. It’s interesting but a really long story. The characters’ names a bit hard to keep separate because they’re all so strange and 2000 BC-esque. I’ll have to look up a character list to write the audiobook review.
I’m really enjoying Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. It’s a lighter story in my opinion, which doesn’t seem to go with the subject well but is still enjoyable.

Recently finished: Fail, again. Nothing new. On the bright side, I posted a review of The Round House by Louise Erdrich yesterday. Check it out!

White TigerReading Next: I’m now very definitive that The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga will be my next book. I promise I’ll get to it soon and I hope to speed through it to get back to ‘Sombra.’


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 Review: The Round House by Louise Erdrich (5/5)

7 Apr

This book has slipped through my hands more than once so I was really excited to finally read it! I missed when my first book club did this book due to my MBA orientation and I haven’t picked it up despite a few recommendations. Boy am I glad I finally got to it!

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Summary from Goodreads:

One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe’s life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

Wow. This was one heck of a book! I really enjoyed it a lot more than I was anticipating. The audio was superb and I thought the story was great. At times, it’s easy to tell that a middle-aged woman is writing through the voice of a boy, but Erdrich pulled it off exceedingly well! Joe’s voice seemed authentic and I really enjoyed it. His friends were great characters and I liked seeing his mom’s journey to recovery from her tragedy.

I was happy to learn (just now from Google) that Erdrich is Ojibwe. I like that she wrote about a culture she knew intimately and taught me about the culture throughout the process. I was obviously not a young Ojibwe boy in the late 1980s, but I felt like all the details of that life were well presented to me and I could feel like I was a part of it. The characters seemed at times to be like people I knew and nothing like the people I grew up with. They were relatable because of their humanity yet unique in their cultural identity. I thought it was really well done.

Cappie was my favorite. He was so genuine and always there to help Joe when he needed help. He wasn’t afraid of the big things Joe was facing in his life and faced them with him head-on. I want to be the type of friend Cappie is (except for some of the negative encouraging, especially toward the end) to those I care about because he’s the kind of person I would want as a friend.

I’ve talked about it before on this blog, but I had an incident when I was 12 where my mom was incapacitated for about 4 months. Hers, fortunately, was not a rape but a bad bicycle accident. Still, I had to see my mom lay in a bed and not move or talk for days at a time. I related to Joe as he watched his mother fight her emotional demons after her tragedy. It’s hard as a child to see your parents in a vulnerable state and my heart went out to Joe.

It’s hard to say what part was my favorite. There were parts that were the most amusing, moving, interesting, thought-provoking, but not favorite. The book as a whole made me think a lot and I understand why so many people praised this book to me.

My friend and I were talking about this book recently and how we wish the ending had been a bit more definitive. I thought a lot of things were left open (Sonja and Whitey, Zack and Angus, Geraldine’s recovery, etc) but I felt that Cappie’s plot line was pretty well closed. I don’t want to talk too much in-depth about it here and spoil the ending, but I’m pretty sure I know what happened and how Joe ‘got away with it’ (if you read the book, I hope you know what this means).

I listened to this book on Audio and I think it affected how I felt about it. The narrator of my copy was Gary Farmer and I thought he did an amazing job of bringing the Ojibwe characters to life. He seemed to understand inflection and pronunciation of the words and the way the people spoke. The only problem I had with the audio was that Farmer’s voice put me to sleep a bit! it was so soothing that I had to switch on some heavy rock music to keep myself awake a few times. But I would say it was worth it for the amazing performance he gave.

Image via PBS

Louise Erdrich
Image via PBS

I see two main themes in this book. The first is revenge. The whole story, Joe wants to get revenge on whoever hurt his mother. He thinks he wants to kill the man and that there’s not enough being done to find him and help his mother. He thinks that if he’s able to find the man and hurt him, his mother will be healed. We know that this is a child’s logic; his mother’s PTSD won’t be healed if the man is killed. It’s an inner problem she needs to sort through. (Slight spoilers ahead. Skip to ‘Writer’s Takeaway’ to save yourself.) When Joe’s father tries to attack the man, he is unsuccessful and injures himself. His revenge is unsuccessful. Even when Joe finally has the chance to kill him, he falters and needs a friend to help him. Revenge does not solve problems, it only creates more. Joe and his father had to learn this the hard way.

The other theme I see is loss. When Cappie lost Zelia, he’s heartbroken and will do anything to get her back. When Linda loses her brother, she’s okay with it. She has, in a sense, also lost a kidney, yet she seems fine. We can lose something close to us and not feel pain. And we can lose something new to us and it can be a crushing anguish. Loss is something different to every person. What an individual values is not something we can tell about that person immediately. We can’t anticipate what a person will feel or how they’ll react to loss and these reactions are not more or less valuable because of their severity. We all grieve in our own ways.

Writer’s Takeaway: The voice in this novel is incredible. I think the audiobook helped. The characters all had a very conversational tone, which is perfect for a book told from the perspective of a boy. I really admire Erdrich for this. She’s 60 and still writes a convincing teenager. That’s an amazing feat.

Really loved this book. A full Five 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:
Combatting Ignorance in Erdrich’s The Round House | Stygian Caesura
The Round House: a novel by Lousie Erdrich | Francette’s Blog
A review of Louise Erdrich’s The Round House | Postcards from Purgatory

I Feel Like Writing FanFiction

6 Apr

I’m not embarrassed to say I used to write fanfiction. I used to write it a lot. In middle school (2000-2004), I was on fanfiction.net more than any other site. In high school, I went back to it briefly in 2006 but, for the most part, I didn’t think about writing or being a writer. The same is true for college. I might check stats to see how my story was doing, but it wasn’t something I followed. Then when I graduated college in 2012, I went back to it. I don’t know what made me do it, but I went back and finished my story.

I’d started a romance that never went anywhere about a fandom that was mid-series when I was writing. When I revisited it in 2012, I knew how the story would end in cannon, but not how I wanted it to end in my story. Knowing that I was going against the author gave me a degree of freedom that I enjoyed. I added an action/adventure aspect to my story and really enjoyed writing it. I finished the story and have been inspired to write a lot of original fiction.

Fanfiction taught me a lot about writing that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. I read a lot and was able to pick out good and bad stories quickly which helped me make my story better. I’m rather successful in my romantic pairing (312 favorites on one story) though I know that’s nothing compared to some bigger fics. I don’t say this to brag, but to illustrate how supportive the fanfiction community was and how their encouragement drove me to finish my story. Fanfiction is great because you get instant feedback. You post, and within hours reviews and favorites and follows start to flood your inbox. It’s great!

I wish writing fiction were as responsive. I edited ten pages of my WIP today and what did I get? A sore neck and nothing else. At the same time, I got a favorite for my story that was finished two years ago. This was so motivational! I wish I got these emails more often. I wish I still got comments (why do those dry up?). I want more writers to tell me they love my story, to PM me asking for updates.

In summary, I feel like writing Fanfiction. I want that feedback, that love, and that encouragement that I have yet to find anywhere else in such quantity. Nothing against all of you; you’re wonderful and I love your comments. But the feedback on my fiction writing is different. It’s motivating in a different way.

Did or do any of you write fanfiction? What fandom? Did you find it motivating?

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!

Friday Book Memes, 3-April-15

3 Apr

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,

Is there one book you will NEVER forget?

Wow, that’s hard to answer. I guess the answer for this would have to be my favorite book, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. The story has stayed with me for so long and I think about it all the time. I’m ordering jewelry with a quote from the book on it. It’s a timeless story to me.


I’ve finally started a new book! It’s for my book club and I’ve only just gotten to page 56 in Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo. Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

When his sister tricks him into taking her guru on a trip to their childhood home, Otto Ringling, a confirmed skeptic, is not amused. Six days on the road with an enigmatic holy man who answers every question with a riddle is not what he’d planned. But in an effort to westernize his passenger—and amuse himself—he decides to show the monk some “American fun” along the way. From a chocolate factory in Hershey to a bowling alley in South Bend, from a Cubs game at Wrigley field to his family farm near Bismarck, Otto is given the remarkable opportunity to see his world—and more important, his life—through someone else’s eyes. Gradually, skepticism yields to amazement as he realizes that his companion might just be the real thing.

BB.Button

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

My name is Otto Ringling (no circus jokes, please) and I have a strange story to tell.

I like this strange turn on a cliché opening. I like that there’s a parenthetical comment from Otto because it lets us know that we’ll be in his head a lot. I also like that he’s upfront that his story is strange. On the same note, it seems a very forward way to start a book. Kind of mixed feelings on this one.


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 one of the first conversations between Otto and the ‘buddha’ he’s traveling with, Rinpoche.

I ask you what you do, what Rinpoches do, and you say, ‘I sit.’ That’s cryptic. That’s not what we call in this country an open conversational style.

I like this quote because it shows how much Otto is struggling to get along with his traveling companion. I’m not much further than this point in the book and I’m curious to see how this relationship will develop as I read. Otto seems very much the everyman and I think this book will try to take me on his spiritual journey with him. I’m not sure how this is going to go, but we’ll see!

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, March 2015

2 Apr

Finally coming to the end of the month of my BIRTHDAY! Yep, you missed it. It was the 31st. I’m talking about this and not how many books I read this month because I read very little and I’m slightly embarrassed about it. Please don’t say anything. But progress is still progress. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in March:

The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan (4/5)
The Round House by Louise Erdrich (5/5)

Yep. That’s it. I’m slightly really embarrassed. I hope the chunksters I’m working my way through now will come home in April and make me look better. This could be like January where I read only a few and then in February I blew up my numbers. I’m hoping it’s like that.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline will track all of my books and show which time period they fall in. I only filled in 1940-1959 this month with Atomic City. With the books I’m reading now, I won’t fill in anymore. I’m feeling good on this challenge. Maybe this summer I’ll start targeting my books to fill in the rest. I always wait to see if there’s a book club pick that can help me out before I start targeting time periods.

Goodreads Challenge

11/50

One book behind pace! I’ve got to get through a bunch more in April to bring myself back. I didn’t think 50 would be a big challenge!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re doing better than me! If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s really 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!