Archive | July, 2016

Book Club Reflection: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

28 Jul

It’s been a long time since my book club almost universally agreed on a book. We don’t often all like one and we’re usually an even split. I’ll have to remember this book as the one that we all agreed on. We all loved Sue Monk Kidd’s The Invention of Wings.

We heard they’re making this into a movie (this is listed as ‘In Development’ on IMdB). One of our members was in Charleston a few weeks ago and said they’re going to film it at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston. She said another interesting thing she saw in Charleston was The Citadel, a public military college. She said the Citadel was established to hush the slave rebellion, a fact I could not find on the academy’s website.

The title had a few different meanings to our group. Sarah and Nina are described as the wings at one point but to us, there was a lot more reference to flying on Handful’s side. Her mother talked about the slaves flying away to their freedom which made it to the story quilt. Handful and Charlotte’s favorite pattern was supposed to resemble blackbirds and they would put bird’s feathers inside of the quilts. Wings let someone fly away to freedom

Many liked Handful more than the Grimke sisters. Kidd made up her character and was able to do a lot more with her outside the restrictions of historical accuracy. She was admirable and we liked her direct voice. Kidd used different styles for her characters well. Handful was also very brave. If we’d been stuck in her situation, it was hard for many of us to say we’d do the same thing and rebel the way Handful did.

It seems I was one of few who was surprised Charlotte would return to the Grimke’s. She escaped slavery only to return to it and that shocked me. Others pointed out that she wanted to be back with her daughter and she wanted Handful and Sky to have each other so they could escape. We figured they escaped about 90 miles from the plantation they’d been on to reach Charleston which is incredible with no food or directions.

Someone in our group asked if the church Vesey founded and where Handful was arrested was the same one that was the site of a deadly hate crime last summer. Unfortunately, it was: Emanuel A.M.E. Church.

Sarah remarks that the Graveyard of Failed Hope is an all-female establishment. It’s easy to point out times when the things she wanted were denied to her because of her sex. It must have been hard to want to be a lawyer and see her brother become a lawyer when he didn’t want it. Ironically, he wanted to be a minister and she studied for years to be one. That was not lost on us!

Sarah had her own rebellion, starting with her multiple religious conversions. We found it interesting that one of the most attractive things about Quakerism for her was their anti-slavery beliefs but that they still had a separate bench for blacks. Before Sarah was a Quaker, when she was still Anglican, we loved that she taught Handful and the slave children to read. Kidd explains in her author’s note that this really happened which makes it all the better.

Many of us were surprised with how close abolition and women’s suffrage were tied together. Maybe it did split the issue, but it also seems very necessary when explained through the Grimke’s story. Lucretia Mott is better known as a suffragette than an abolitionist so it was interesting to see her in this first role.

Sarah and Nina had a great relationship. It was very motherly since Sarah took a large part in Nina’s upbringing. Mrs. Grimke was very cruel and Mary took after her mother. We’re glad Sarah taught Nina to be kind. Mary was uneducated and didn’t read and question things so it seems she learned from her mother and all she learned was cruelty.

I picked the book for next month and I have a bad history of picking books everyone likes. Maybe I’ll hit a home run with this one, but not everyone likes John Irving as much as I do.

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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WWW Wednesday, 27-July-2016

27 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


PeaceBreaksCurrently reading: I don’t think I read a page of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. This is being a lot slower than I wanted it to be because I am enjoying this book. I like that it’s there when I need it, so I’m actually okay with this.
I’m enjoying 10% Happier by Dan Harris so far. I’m not familiar with Harris as a TV personality so it’s teaching me about him as well as his philosophy. This is reading more like a memoir than a self-help book so far and I like that a bit better. I’m a sucker for a good memoir and I’m open to what Harris is going to say. I think we could all do with being 10% happier.
I’ve only just started Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I watched the movie for A Separate Peace last week but I’m not sure the plots will overrun at all. The summary makes me think it will be only the setting so I’m excited to see if any characters reappear.

WingsRecently finished: I rushed through The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd to have it finished by the time my book club met and it was a good read. I liked the historical context and setting a lot and give Kidd a lot of credit for the research she was able to do for the book. I posted my review yesterday so please go check it out!

I also posted a review for The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart last Thursday so please go check that out as well! Please know my rating is for the audiobook and if I’d read it as a coffee table book, I might have rated it differently.

OnePersonReading Next: My next physical book will be In One Person by John Irving. It’s a book club selection and Irving is one of my all-time favorite writers so I’m really excited to read this one. I’ve had the book on my shelf for almost three years and I’m pumped to crack the spine.


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 Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd (4/5)

26 Jul

I tried to read one of Kidd’s books in high school and couldn’t finish it. Needless to say, when one of her titles was chosen for my book club, I wasn’t thrilled. I was late starting the book because of a book before this that was hard to get through, and I realized on Friday that my group was meeting Monday. Going out-of-town for a wedding over the weekend was complicating things. Thankfully, I have an amazing husband who not only drove while I read, but read out loud to me while I drove. I finished it somewhere in Ohio on our way home.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Summary from Goodreads:

Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.

As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements.

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. The writing and topic grabbed me from the beginning. Except for a few middle grade books in grade school, I haven’t read a book about American slavery in a long time. Sarah was a unique voice to contrast with Handful and I liked Kidd’s use of the two viewpoints. There were times when I had to put this novel down because I was so bothered by the scenes of abuse I don’t do well with violent movies and books get into my head even more.

Sarah was great. I didn’t know until someone mentioned it on WWW Wednesday that Sarah Grimke was a real person. I think Kidd did a great amount of research into this woman and her wonderful life. The author’s note shows her use of diaries, letters, and newspapers to gather information about the Grimkes’ lives. I liked how Kidd detailed her stutter and her lifelong struggle to overcome it. That made her very human.

Sarah was my favorite character. That’s not to say anything against Nina or Handful, but I saw the greatest change in Sarah through the book. She found her own voice, literally and figuratively, and became the person she’d always wanted to be. The influence she had on Nina and Handful was wonderful and though she was at some times timid, she was also fearless.

I related to Sarah, which is probably why I liked her best. There are many things that scare me and I try to act fearless like Sarah did. I try not to be afraid before speaking in public or a race. I try to stay strong and be consistent with what I believe in. I sometimes feel like I’m meant to be heard and it can be hard to carry forward but having someone (like Handful) to push me forward and remind me is what can get me through. I respected her persistence.

Sue Monk Kidd Image via Actionable Books

Sue Monk Kidd
Image via Actionable Books

I don’t want to give away too much, but I thought the ending was just perfect. I loved it. Sarah and Handful were both in their elements and their relationship, like Handful says, it’s love but it’s something strong and I thought the ending of the book portrayed that well.

Hearing about Handful’s accident at the Work House was really hard for me. Trying to picture that contraption made me cringe and the imagery of the other woman with a baby and Handful falling were hard. The mother’s little remorse made it even worse. I couldn’t imagine feeling that way toward another human.

 

Doing the right thing is not always easy. Sarah knew it wasn’t going to be simple, but she pushed forward in a lot of things such as her ministry study, touring, and her beliefs. A lot of other people gave up (Judge Grimke) or tried to soften their message to be more palatable. Sarah faced a lot of hardships for her beliefs. She had to leave Israel’s house and wouldn’t return to it because of her dedication to the ministry. She was told never to return to her mother because of her abolitionist beliefs. Sarah did all of this anyway because she was strong and stood up to her values.

Writer’s Takeaway: I love the authors note for historical fiction books. Kidd was candid about who she made up, who was real, and what she changed. I think as a historical fiction writer, you have to make some stuff up, change some things, and cut some things. I think Kidd did a great job with this. She added Handful almost completely and made a great character of her. I don’t think her other edits took the story too far from its roots and I really applaud her for the novel and the story of Sarah.

Enjoyable read that made reading half the book in three days no chore at all. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1800s for 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 Posts:
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd | CravenWild
The Invention of Wings – Sue Monk Kidd | Turn The Page Books
book review: the invention of wings | writeamuck
Book Club Gals Read The Invention of Wings | A Writer of History

Ten Things that Don’t Seem As Important When You Realize Your Book Club Meets in Three Days

25 Jul

Alternatively titled ‘Things Book Nerds Give Up When A Book Gets Good.’

  1. Television. TV isn’t important when the story in your hands is calling.
  2. Sleep. I’ll just read one more chapter before bed.
  3. Eating well. Who wants to cook when you could be reading?
  4. Exercise. Reading is an exercise for the mind!
  5. Talking. There’s no time for speaking when there are words to read!
  6. Human interaction. If I avoid everyone, I can read more.
  7. Food. Forget eating well, there’s no time to eat at all.
  8. A social life. I could go to dinner with my friend, but then I might miss out on two chapters.
  9. Personal hygiene. Because you can’t take a book in the shower.
  10. Writing good blog posts. My apologies for this one, I’m frantically reading!

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 Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart (3/5)

21 Jul

One of my librarian friends, in an effort to bring more writers to the library, book Amy Stewart for a virtual visit almost two years ago. Since then, I’ve tried twice in vain to read The Drunken Botanist as an ebook, both times finding the PDFs of the pages unreadable on my phone. Alas. But now there is Hoopla and a new crop of audiobooks for me to indulge in including The Drunken Botanist. I got right to it.

Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddThe Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks by Amy Stewart

Summary from Goodreads:

Every great drink starts with a plant. Sake began with a grain of rice. Scotch emerged from barley. Gin was born from a conifer shrub when a Dutch physician added oil of juniper to a clear spirit, believing that juniper berries would cure kidney disorders. “The Drunken Botanist” uncovers the enlightening botanical history and the fascinating science and chemistry of over 150 plants, flowers, trees, and fruits (and even one fungus).

Some of the most extraordinary and obscure plants have been fermented and distilled, and they each represent a unique cultural contribution to our global drinking traditions and our history. Molasses was an essential ingredient in American independence: when the British forced the colonies to buy British (not French) molasses for their New World rum-making, the settlers outrage kindled the American Revolution. Rye, which turns up in countless spirits, is vulnerable to ergot, which contains a precursor to LSD, and some historians have speculated that the Salem witch trials occurred because girls poisoned by ergot had seizures that made townspeople think they d been bewitched. Then there’s the tale of the thirty-year court battle that took place over the trademarking of Angostura bitters, which may or may not actually contain bark from the Angostura tree.

I think this was an odd choice to make an audiobook from. The book is non-fiction in a very ‘encyclopedia-esque’ style. Stewart has organized the book well, focusing on plants in different parts of the path from farm to drink and giving scientific names as well as some great recipes. Honestly, I wished I had this as a coffee table book instead of an audiobook. I’d love to go back to the recipes for a girl’s night and see the beautiful formatting that I saw when I flipped through the book at the library. It was very thorough and made me appreciate the process going into the drinks I have but I think it would have been better in small doses and might have earned a higher rating from me if I read it that way.

 

I thought the base plants part was most interesting. I loved hearing about how agave is made into tequila and how barley becomes beer. For me, this was most interesting. Hearing about the one or two distilleries who are using jasmine just made me realize I don’t care enough to buy super premium specialty liquor and I’d rather get back to what’s in Maker’s Mark and other things I might actually drink.

This book made me want to start a fruit garden for sure. I’m hoping that if I ever do get a house, I can grow some of my own fruit and maybe I’ll try the vodka infusions Stewart wrote about (those seem the easiest to make). I did feel a lot of the things she spoke about growing were very specialized and she even recognized that some are not easily grown outside of a very specific region and some required extensive care. Unfortunately, not the best for a busy working person also going to school in a Michigan apartment.

Amy Stewart Image via the author's website

Amy Stewart
Image via the author’s website

The cocktails made me want a drink each time I heard one. After craving ice cream during another book and craving a drink during this one, my books have been influencing my calorie counts a lot lately! I wonder how many of the recipes are available on the website and how many I’ll have to copy out of the book the next time I go to the library.

I’m not a gin drinker and it was obvious to me that Stewart loves a good gin. She’d probably tell me I’ve never had good gin. I found these parts a bit of a drag only because I cared a bit less. They were still well written and enjoyable for the small anecdotes Stewart added.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Coleen Marlo. I wasn’t a big fan of Marlo’s inflections, trying to add feeling to a nonfiction book in, what I felt were the wrong places. (Side note: do you say CASHew or caSHEW? This bothered me and I wonder if it’s regional.) Overall, she was fine but having met Stewart (kinda), I had her voice in my head and felt Marlo was a disappointment.

 

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this was more of a reference book and I liked that even though it was structured like that, it was able to be read as a narrative and there were enough stories about the history of the plants for it to stay interesting and relevant. Keeping things interesting is never bad and can make a dull format lively enough to be read aloud like a story. It was a good technique.

Enjoyable, but I think I would have liked it better in another format. Three 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:
The Drunken Botanist Website
The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart | Maria Legault
Review & Giveaway: The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart | The Intoxicologist

WWW Wednesday, 20-July-2016

20 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


10%Currently reading: It was a rough week at work and I didn’t get much of a chance to read. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. We were out-of-town for the weekend and I contemplated taking my eReader with me, but decided against it. Oh well, maybe next week?
I’m really loving The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. The writing is good and I love the evolution of Sarah (the main character) as she figures out her place in life. I hope this one has a happy ending because it seems it could go really really sad.
I was able to start a new audiobook and I picked 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I saw this one win the Goodreads award for nonfiction in 2014 and added it to my TBR then. I’ve been waiting for a chance to read it ever since and now seems like as good a time as any.

Stewart_DB_USA_POB_03_28_13.inddRecently finished: Though I liked it, I don’t recommend The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart as an audiobook. It was too easy to tune out and there’s no plot so it’s hard to become engrossed in it at all. For sure better as a coffee table book.

My review of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches posted on Thursday. Not a surprise to many of you, but it was not a book for me at all. I explain why in my review but suffice it to say, I won’t be reading any more by this author.
I posted a semi-review of the Jim Kay illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. It was so fun to read alongside Kay’s illustrations. Let me know what you thought of it.

PeaceBreaksReading Next: My plan is still for Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I might just pick it up from the library so I’m forced to get to it before another book club selection pops up. It might tempt me to read fast so I can start it! I’ll see about the movie of A Separate Peace as well now that I know there is one.


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!

Game of Thrones: I’m caving

19 Jul

Game_of_Thrones_2011_logoI’ve said it out loud so now there’s no going back. I’m going to soon start watching the Game of Thrones TV show. I’m usually an adamant stickler for ‘read it before you watch it,’ and I’ve tried. I read A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings and I’ve decided not to take it any further. I have a dissenting opinion on this series and I wasn’t a fan of the books.

I thought the first one was OK. It wasn’t great but it was fun, the pace moved well and I enjoyed it. I didn’t grab the second on immediately because I needed a break but I did eventually pick it up. I struggled to get through the second book. It was both length and number of characters that were my biggest issues with it.

During a five-hour car trip with my parents, this came up. My mom is a big fan of the books and show and I’d constantly told her I was set on reading the books first so admitting it to her made it official. She’s going to lend me a few of the seasons on DVD and my brother has digital copies of the ones she’s missing.

This feels slightly like giving up. Am I wrong? Have you ever watched a TV show or movie instead of reading a book? Did it feel like giving up? 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!

Book Review(ish): Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay (5/5)

18 Jul

So while this is technically a book review, it’s going to be more of an illustration review. I now own six copies of this story; three books and three movies. For those curious, that’s the original Scholastic (American) printing in hardcover, the Salamandra (Spain) print in paperback, the illustrated, one VHS copy, and two DVD copies (one on its own and the other part of a four-disk set). I’m a bit obsessed and very proud of it. My husband teased me endlessly when I said I wanted the illustrated edition for Christmas. But that was only to dissuade me from buying it so he could give it to me. The little stinker

SorcererIllustrated

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay

The beloved first book of the Harry Potter series, now fully illustrated by award-winning artist Jim Kay.

For the first time, J. K. Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter books will be presented in lavishly illustrated full-color editions. Rowling herself selected artist Jim Kay, whose over one hundred illustrations make this deluxe format as perfect a gift for the child being introduced to the series as for the dedicated fan.

Yep, I’m for sure part of the ‘dedicated fan’ this was marketed to. I pre-ordered the Chamber of Secrets illustrated a month ago and it doesn’t come out until October. So. Pumped.

I reread this slowly, in bits as I waited for my husband to get ready for church or while dinner was cooking. The last week, I read it a bit more in a hurry, but never too fast. There’s no reason to speed through these gorgeous illustrations.

Kay does an amazing job. The characters look the way they’re described in the books, not like the actors in the films. Some things were, I thought, a bit too far off (the Sorting Hat) but other things were spot on (Snape). I don’t want to share pictures of it because they deserve to be treasured at their spot in the book as you read it. Which you should. Immediately.

The pages with no pictures were still beautiful, having drops of watercolor on them and a textured background that was lovely. I liked the small in-line pictures as well, of small things like Trevor. The full-page pictures were treasures, giving us images of characters like Dumbledore or Ron and depicting epic scenes like Hogwarts at night or Diagon Ally. There were a few full-page spreads (one is the cover, no big surprise) that were breathtakingly beautiful. I particularly enjoyed two illustrations that were modeled after a page or two from a magical textbook, one on trolls and another on dragon eggs. I thought that was a wonderfully creative way to get into the world.

I won’t say too much more. The story is amazing, as ever, and moved me to tears (as ever). The illustrations made me connect even more with the text and I loved it. I was happily surprised that it was the British text so now I own a third ‘translation’ (this being the original and the American and Spanish being seconds) of the book. I’m looking forward to the next one.

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: In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches (1/5)

14 Jul

I’ve been fascinated by Dante since I had to read Inferno in high school. It’s an interesting concept and very influential. Many things are still being translated and discovered about this man so it’s no wonder he keeps appearing in popular literature. I’ve enjoyed other books I’d read about Dante so I decided to give this one a try. I found it in a bookshop the last time I was on vacation and decided to give it a try.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches

Summary from Goodreads:

Deep inside the Vatican library, a priest discovers the rarest and most valuable art object ever found: the manuscript of “The Divine Comedy,” written in Dante’s own hand. Via Sicily, the manuscript makes its way from the priest to a mob boss in New York City, where a writer named Nick Tosches is called to authenticate the prize. For this writer, the temptation is too great: he steals the manuscript in a last-chance bid to have it all. Some will find it offensive; others will declare it transcendent; it is certain to be the most ragingly debated novel of the decade.

From visiting Dante's house in 2010.

From visiting Dante’s house in 2010.

Ugh. The summary of this book and its execution were, to me, vastly different. The summary sounds exciting and like it will focus on the authentication of the manuscript and what follows from there. What it fails to convey is that the story jumps between Nick and the other modern characters and Dante and his contemporaries, jumping almost 700 years backward and forward in time. The scenes set in modern times read faster (except for a certain diatribe which I’ll get to) and to me, were much more interesting. The ones set in te 1300s were written in very clunky and what expect to be ‘more period-appropriate’ phrases. They were almost impossible to read and it made me put the book down in frustration more than once. These always seemed to be longer than the modern chapters they paralleled which made them all the more unbearable. The chapters at the beginning of the book were long, 40+ pages or so, and toward the end, most were 4 pages or less. This is an interesting choice but I felt the author went out of his way to make the earlier paragraphs long. There was a modern tirade about the publishing industry and how Tosches was a modern genius who wasn’t appreciated and another about the root of the name for Jesus. I wanted to pull my hair out and that’s not how I want to feel at the beginning of a book.

Tosches made the interesting choice of putting himself in the lead role of the book. In some ways, I think the main character really was him, but at the same time, I’d hope he’s not an accomplice in murder and secretly hiding in Italy with a wife and the pages of the original Dante manuscript. It was hard to pick out fact from fiction but I got the feeling Nick the author and Nick the character shared a lot of personality similarities. If that’s true, I never want to meet Tosches. He’s cocky, arrogant, and while he has some honest inner-demons that he struggles with, he’s a bit messed up and unstable.

The bits narrated by Gemma in the 1300s were the only ones I could bare. Dante was hard to read because he was so flowery, but Gemma was a bit less cultured and thus easier to read and understand. I really appreciated that.

I found all the characters in this book to be so removed from myself that I couldn’t like any of them. I just wanted it to be over and for them all to face the ends they deserved, though that didn’t happen to many of them.

Image via The Globe and Mail

Image via The Globe and Mail

For me, the only enjoyable part was Nick outrunning mob. I kind of wanted them to catch him, but it was at least interesting. I liked the authentication of the manuscript as well and how many ways he went about having it verified. That was well researched and well written.

The first 120 pages were unbearable. The long tirades and minimal action that ended up not being relevant to the plot were killers for me and there were many times I almost gave up on this book. He talks about how good writers don’t need editors, but I think this one does!

 

Nick and Dante are both desperate men and the book explores what a desperate man will do. Dante, after the death of Beatrice, is lost and searching for higher meaning, desperate to escape his status on earth. Nick is looking for some action in his repetitive and suffocating life and what he finds is almost deadly. Sometimes, when we get what we want, we find out it’s not what we really wanted in the first place, but now you have to live with it because you’re stuck.

Writer’s Takeaway: I promise to never think I’m above being edited. I can always have a fault in my writing and I can always benefit from others telling me to reconsider a scene, chapter, or character. I will make cuts, I will rework scenes. I will not include long diatribes about my past successes and how that demonstrates that I’m above the criticism of others. In other words, I’ll never be as full of myself as Nick Tosches is full of himself. Or at least, as much as he seems to be.

This book was a struggle to get through and I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. 1 out of 5 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:
I honestly could find none with the way I always search. It seems you all knew better than me to read this book. Kudos.

WWW Wednesday, 13-July-2016

13 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

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WingsCurrently reading: I started keeping my ereader at the kitchen table to read a bit of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson during breakfast. I got to read a bit during lunch at work a few days, too. I’m making a bit of progress and still enjoying this one.
While The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart is really interesting, it’s not my favorite audiobook. I talked with a friend of mine on Goodreads about it and he’s reading it like a coffee table book, a bit at a time. I think I’d prefer reading it that way because it’s a lot of information all at once and I wish I could go back and reference some of those cocktail recipes!
I was able to pick up The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd recently. Anything is better than my last physical book but I’m still deciding how I feel about this one. Stay tuned!

DanteRecently finished: I crawled my way through In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches and I’m so glad it’s over. I did not like this book much at all. The modern setting was interesting, but the historical settings of Dante were so dense and hard to read that I struggled with it a lot. I don’t plan to read anything by this author again.

I got my review for Truth & Beauty posted on Monday. It was a really pretty book that I enjoyed. However, reading some of the Grealy family’s reactions to the book are giving me second thoughts. Please check out my review and if you have time to read some of the links at the end, let me know how you feel about them!

PeaceBreaksReading Next: For a physical book, I’d like to finally pick up a copy of Peace Breaks Out by John Knowles. I found out about this sequel when I first started with Goodreads and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since. I was a big fan of A Separate Peace in high school and would love to read more from the author.
For an audiobook, I’ll see about snatching up 10% Happier by Dan Harris. This was a Goodreads Award winner in 2014 that intrigued me and I’ve wanted to read Harris’ advice ever since.


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.

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