Archive | November, 2016

WWW Wednesday, 16-November-2016

16 Nov

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.


paranoidCurrently reading: I got through just a little with In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I have a bit of time at my new doctors to read a few pages before he’ll come into the exam room. It’s something right?
Still no World Without End by Ken Follett. I’m about in a perfect spot for it. Maybe the book genies are waiting for me?
I’m getting close with Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. I’m starting to see how this book and Zelda in her 20s can lead into the Zelda I read about in Call Me Zelda when she’s older. It’s fun to have read them in this order but maybe chronologically would have been better.
Since The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante is so short, I’m almost done with it. I might have finished it by the time you read this! I’m not a huge fan so far. I hope the ending can bring everything together for me.
It’s been slow with Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove. Business books are never too engrossing but it’s mostly been that I’m so tired when I finally get to bed! I’ll try to buckle down and get some of it read but no promises.

Recently finished: Nothing! I’m falling back into the “tons or none” phase of reading. I need to stop starting so many books at the same time, haha.

Reading Next: My book club will be announcing our next pick soon so that will be the next one I pick up. Maybe I’ll squeeze in a Shakespeare before then? Depends on how soon I find out!


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!

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NaNoWriMo: My Day 6 2016

15 Nov

Another write-in for the win! These really help me keep on track for the week.

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 100
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 200
Total time for the month (630 goal): 305

It was the week for my writers’ group but because of NaNo, we participated in the library’s write-in instead. I got about an hour and a half of time in. It got me to page 30 of my novel for this full read-through and I forgot how much I was adding and editing last year! I completely changed a few scenes and I do have to admit I like them a lot more! I was trying to play up a minor character that fell really flat so I’ll have to work on adding him in more in the later part of the book.

I’m still really happy with how this is turning out. I’ll be ready (or nearly there) to hand it off to some beta readers come December. Maybe someone will think it makes for some nice Holiday reading, haha.

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!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 5 2016

14 Nov

Nothing today!

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 0
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 100
Total time for the month (630 goal): 205

I had a book club meeting tonight so I didn’t get anything written. It’s also medical open enrollment so that’s been preoccupying most of my time at home. I’m going to another write-in tomorrow so I’m optimistic that I can get a lot done. I’m almost through it the first time anyway which FEELS AWESOME!

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!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 4 2016

13 Nov

My first write-in! I made such good progress today.

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 100
This Week’s writing time (210 goal): 100
Total time for the month (630 goal): 205

I spent about two hours at the write-in and spent a good amount of it actually writing. Actually, I’m two pages from the end of going through my book! I think I’ll go through it once more this month so I have a complete and consistent go through this month. There are some targeted edits I want to make (dialogue consistency for example) and I have an editing book that I want to use to start going through it, too. I’ll have to get that book out and start working through it!

I’m really excited about this progress. I know a lot of my speed was how excited I was to read about the end. I’m purposefully not finishing it today so I have a reason to break it all out tomorrow!

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!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 3 2016

12 Nov

Better late than never, right?

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 40
This Week’s writing time (90 goal): 105
Total time for the month (630 goal): 105

I wanted to have this done much earlier in they day but we had a small family emergency. My dad almost lost part of his finger but he got to the hospital and they were able to recover everything. YAY! So I’m dad-sitting right now while my mom goes to an event she’s been planning on for months. He’s happily watching The Flash so I’m on his computer.

I got through a bit scene in my novel and was able to add a few things I think it was missing. There was some things that warranted dialogue that had been skipped, a location change that had been promised several scenes before that I added, and I had to change the ending because one of the characters with a big role in that part isn’t in the novel at this point. Woops! This is what happens when you make big edits. I also changed the hair color of my male protagonist so I keep catching those slip ups.

I wanted to get more done today but daughter-ness called. Maybe I’ll get a little more in tomorrow? Maybe?

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!

NaNoWriMo: My Day 2 2016

11 Nov

Say what?! It’s not day 2 of NaNo. Well, it is if your final was on Wednesday and you said you’d start doing your NaNo Rebel editing on Thursday. And it’s even better if you skipped writing Thursday to play Harry Potter themed bar trivia (of which you came in fifth because of the final question). So while it’s my Day 2, it was my first day writing.

Today’s writing time (30 goal): 65
This Week’s writing time (90 goal): 65
Total time for the month (630 goal): 65

I got through a bit more of the book than I thought I would. I think a lot of that is because it’s been so long since I worked on this book that I was reading more than editing, haha. I have a list of edits I want to make to the book so if I get to the end before December, I have things I can go back and add/change that will give me a lot of other things to tweak.

I’m noticing a lot of ‘saying’ instead of ‘telling’ and I can see how dialogue heavy I am sometimes. I avoid dialogue tags. I think this has changed about my writing since I wrote the original draft but, to be honest, I really like it. I have some people lined up to beta read so I’ll see how they feel about it.

I’m ‘caught up’ from missing yesterday. My husband has a boys-date planned (they play D&D and drink beer while watching football) for tomorrow so I’m hoping to get some solid work in tomorrow as well. I’d love to get this thing finished!

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, 9-November-2016

9 Nov

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.


lostdaughterCurrently reading: Nothing with In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I got it renewed again but I’m not sure I’ll find the time to devote to it. I know, it’s sad. I’m enjoying the book, too! I think I’m not too far from the end.
I’m so certain I’ll get World Without End by Ken Follett soon. I’m next in line for the hold and I’ll dedicate my time to the book 100% when I get it.
I’ve enjoyed Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald so far. The narration is great but I’m starting to feel really bad for Zelda! I want better things to happen to her but having read more about the end of her life, I know it’s not all rosy.
I began The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante on Friday and I’m already making substantial progress on it. The file is just under 5 hours long so I’m expecting to finish this one soon. Which will leave me time for Follett as soon as it comes back!
I started reading Only the Paranoid Survive by Andrew S. Grove. This is a book my old boss recommended and said it was very influential to him so I’ve wanted to read it forever. Finally going to get to it!

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Recently finishedStiff by Mary Roach was really fun. I finished it early Thursday morning while I was running and was thinking about it most of the rest of the day. My review of it went out yesterday so please go check that out. I gave it a full 5 out of 5 stars.
I finished The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham on Friday so WOOO for finishing books! It was a better week than I expected. My review will be up around December 1st as I’m gearing up for NaNoWriMo and will not be posting (besides WWW Wednesday, of course) until December. I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: I’m thinking of reading a Shakespeare to finish up the When Are You Reading? Challenge but haven’t decided on one yet. Can anyone recommend one that’s specifically set in the 1600s? If not, I’ll pick any because they were written in the time period. Close enough!


I have MY FINAL TODAY (!!!!) so please be patient with me due to delayed responses.

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: Stiff by Mary Roach (5/5)

8 Nov

I’d seen this book listed once or twice, probably in ‘recommended non-fiction’ or something similar, but I would never have read it if my book club hadn’t picked it for our November book. I grabbed the audiobook and started listening to it with my coworker on a work trip and finished it up on my own later.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Summary from Goodreads:

Stiff is an oddly compelling, often hilarious exploration of the strange lives of our bodies postmortem. For two thousand years, cadavers—some willingly, some unwittingly—have been involved in science’s boldest strides and weirdest undertakings. In this fascinating account, Mary Roach visits the good deeds of cadavers over the centuries and tells the engrossing story of our bodies when we are no longer with them.

I thought I was going to be a lot more grossed out by this book than I ended up being. Roach approached the subject in a very scientific and respectful way which made for a great read. She broke the book down into logical chapters and I really enjoyed reading each one. The weirdest part for me was when she was talking about alternatives to cremation and she mentioned McCabe Funeral Home which is down the street from my library! I literally pass it on my way there. Creepy. I’m wondering about inviting them to our discussion, haha.

I think Roach chose good topics for the book. I like that she ended with a personal reflection on her choices of what to do with her body. It made me think about what I want to do with mine. My favorite chapter was the one on automotive research. It’s very similar to what my company does. I knew about Wayne State’s research with automotive crash because I hire their students. I was a bit put off in the audiobook when the narrator pronounced accelerometer ac-CELERO-meter instead of acceler-OM-eter. I’ll get over it, though. Being from Detroit, automotive research and crash testing seem pretty close to home and very relevant to me so I was very interested in that chapter and even listened to it a second time when I fell asleep for a bit of the car ride with my coworker.

Mary Roach Image via the author's website

Mary Roach
Image via the author’s website

I found the part on human decay the hardest to read. The embalming process was fine, but the University of Tennessee lab on decay was a bit much for me. I can’t imagine the smell and what it would be like to see those things. I sympathized with the university employee who was less than willing to go with Roach on the tour. So much of the research in the book was respectful but the decay studies (and the facial plastic surgery practice) were less so and I think that’s what bothered me about it. Though, both of those were at the beginning of the book so maybe I got more used to it as the book went on.

With the exception of the pronunciation of accelerometer, I really enjoyed the narration of Shelly Frasier. She had good inflections for the more gruesome or gory parts of the book and had a good time for Roach’s sense of humor. I’m not sure if I’d listen to her for a fiction novel, I’d have to hear it first, but she was great for nonfiction.

Roach mentions that we don’t give a lot of thought to what happens to our body after we die and to be honest, we don’t need them very much anymore. There are religious implications to body donation for many, myself included, that I think could have made for an interesting chapter. Roach points out that it’s more important that our loved ones can live with what we choose when we don’t have the power to object. They have to live with it while the corpse doesn’t live with anything.

Writer’s Takeaway: Many nonfiction writers keep themselves out of their books and remain neutral. I loved that Mary Roach inserted herself into the story, telling about her visits and research with her opinions and reactions included. It gave a good sense of her personality and it was run to relate to her when she felt the same way and wonder at her when she didn’t. I can’t imagine this approach would work with every subject, but it worked well with this one and I wonder if Roach inserted herself into her other books as well.

A really fun read about a subject I realize I knew very little about. 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:
The Dog Eared Review of ‘Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers’ by Mary Roach | biblioTECH
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach | The Sleepless Reader

Book Club Reflection: Still Alice by Lisa Genova

7 Nov

Our group met to talk about Still Alice on Halloween so it as a bit shorter of a discussion than we usually have. We also picked our next set of books which ate up a lot of time. It was bittersweet for me because due to my classes next semester, I’ll be missing the February, March, and April meetings! Sad puppy face.

I wasn’t the only one who felt this book wasn’t very well written. It seemed jerky which, while more appropriate at the end, didn’t make sense at the beginning. It was nice to be inside Alice’s head, though. We could see things happening to her that she sometimes couldn’t see herself.

Alice’s three children finding out if they were carriers was a sticking point for a lot of us. Would Tom have had ‘survivor’s guilt’ for not being a carrier when he knows Anna is and that Lydia might be? He seemed to disappear from the book a bit so it’s hard to tell but we felt it would be hard for him. Genetic testing like the children went has been around for years, some of our members remembering it back to the 1970s. We wondered about the impact of the testing on Anna and Lydia’s insurance rates. Would they have trouble getting coverage? Would it be different for Anna who knows or Lydia who doesn’t? I wondered if knowing she was a carrier affected Anna’s dedication to starting a family. She knows that her children will have to go through what she’s going through with Alice and how hard it will be. Is it better to have children who can help take care of her? I thought that would be hard for her and her husband.

John kept trying to fix everything. He wanted to do what he knew, study and research and was determined it would fix his wife. A few in our group suspected he was having an affair at the beginning with how dedicated he was to be out of the house and how much he avoided Alice. I still think he might have been. But he was a bit underdeveloped so we don’t know much for sure.

When Alice’s Blackberry stopped working, she cried as if on some level she knew what she was losing. She was so close to the level where she couldn’t answer the questions and in reality had gotten some of them wrong already. She seemed to know she was losing something about herself. We noticed that John seemed to have found the questions because on page 266 (our copy), he asks her the questions. If he got her phone working or if he found the Butterfly file, we’re not sure, but he seemed really concerned about Alice not wanting to be around anymore. What would he have done if she said she didn’t want to be there?

One of our members recommended The 36-Hour Day by Nancy Mace as a non-fiction account of caring for an Alzheimer’s patient. This book was unique in sharing from the side of the patient instead of the caregiver and that novelty was appreciated.

Our next meeting is in December and we’ll be discussing The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. I’m about 1/4 through it now so I’ll be done well in time for the discussion.

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 Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer (4/5)

3 Nov

When I learned Meltzer was coming to my local area a few years ago, I went about buying copies of his novels at used book sales. They’re now signed and sitting on my shelf, waiting with many other books to be read. I grabbed this on audio in an attempt to finish it sooner.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The Book of Lies by Brad Meltzer

Other books by this author:

The Inner Circle

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1932, Mitchell Siegel was killed by three gunshots to his chest. While mourning, his son dreamed of a bulletproof man and created the world’s greatest hero: Superman. And like Cain’s murder weapon, the gun used in this unsolved murder has never been found.

Today in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Cal Harper comes face-to-face with his own family tragedy: his long-missing father has been shot with a gun that traces back to Mitchell Siegel’s 1932 murder. But soon after their surprising reunion, Cal and his father are attacked by a ruthless killer tattooed with the ancient markings of Cain.

So begins the chase for the world’s first murder weapon. It is a race that will pull Cal back into his own past even as it propels him forward through the true story of Cain and Abel, an eighty-year-old unsolvable puzzle, and the deadly organization known for the past century as the Leadership.

This book was more or less what I expected based on the other Meltzer book I’d read. It was fast paced, people turned out to be nothing like the first impressions we got of them, and people got betrayed. It’s pretty standard for a thriller. What I really liked and what stuck out to me was the Jerry Siegel parts and how much of that ended up being true. Knowing that Melter did a lot of research to add that element to his book impressed me and I thought it was a fun twist.

I wasn’t a fan of any of the characters which is why I didn’t like this book more. Cal was a saint, always sacrificing. His father was a lying jerk and Serina was too unbelievable for me. Without being able to cheer for a good guy, I was at a loss of whom to like in this book and though I briefly thought about cheering for the bad guys, they weren’t a good ‘love to hate ’em’ group.

Despite how things ended, Roosevelt was my favorite character. I thought he had the most believable motivation for why he was working with Cal and he was smart, that can’t be denied. I won’t’ say too much more but I was sad he ended the way he did because I wanted good things for his character and it just didn’t work out. Darn.

Thrillers give a situation where it’s hard to relate to the characters, or at least I’ve always felt that way. I’ve never done anything in my life as high risk and fast-paced as these characters and I haven’t lived as troubled a life as they had prior to the book. To me, this is the biggest fault of the genre.

Brad Meltzer and me

Brad Meltzer and me

I enjoyed the scenes in Cleveland where the team explored the old Siegel house. I thought it was really fun that Meltzer included something as mundane as the creator’s house but made it such a pivotal part of the book. The creator’s home is something fanatical fans would love but most people would think was an unnecessary detail. Though what they found seemed too convenient to me.

A lot of things in the book were too convenient and took away from my enjoyment of it. Serina being at the airport. Finding the drawings in the wall. Cal deciding to include Roosevelt in all of his decisions. The… well, at the end. The thing being on the wall. I don’t think that’s giving too much away. Overall, there were too many things that made me to, “Really?!” to enjoy the book completely.

My audiobook was narrated by Scott Brick. I thought Brick did a good job but nothing stand-out. His voice built suspension in the right places and he didn’t use accents so outrageous that I didn’t believe them. As I say often, he didn’t have a great voice for the women, but not many men do.

I thought there would be a theme about family in this book, but it didn’t strike home for me. Cal and his father never have the reconciliation I was keeping my fingers crossed for and I found it hard to think his opening up about his mother was enough to be a theme. As with other thrillers, I find it hard to identify a message in the book. It’s more about enjoyment.

Writer’s Takeaway: Working two unrelated things like Superman and Cain was a really fun trip. I liked that Meltzer brought such unrelated things together for the book and made it fun to read. As a historical fiction writer, I’m always trying to think of historical things to bring into my book that can be accurate yet add another layer to the story. Maybe I’ll have to look up Superman next time I need some inspiration.

Enjoyable and fun. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

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