Archive | December, 2016

Book Review: The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante (2/5)

13 Dec

After reading that Elena Ferrante was named one of the Most Influential People by TIME Magazine, we wanted to read one of her books. The library chose The Lost Daughter for us. I have another of Ferrante’s books on my shelf that I’ve been putting off and I was excited to get this quick preview of the book.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante
Translated by Ann Goldstein

Summary from Goodreads:

Leda, a middle-aged divorce, is alone for the first time in years when her daughters leave home to live with their father. Her initial, unexpected sense of liberty turns to ferocious introspection following a seemingly trivial occurrence.

A short summary for a short book. The book was only 125 pages but the audiobook I listened to was still 4:57! I was not a fan of this book. I thought Leda was whiny and I didn’t like the constant flashbacks and the way she described the Neapolitans she met. A big part of that might have been how little I know about Italian culture (this will be covered in my upcoming Book Club Reflection). Leda was so unlikable that I couldn’t enjoy the book. I wanted her to be unhappy and she was but rather than feel vindicated, I wanted her to shut up and go away. It was a really frustrating experience for me.

As much as I hated Leda, I admit she was believable. There are people who will leave their children because they can’t handle being a mother and there are mothers who scream at their children over seemingly trivial things. There are adulterers and there are people who are flat-out rude. That doesn’t mean I like these people. I hated Leda and I honestly liked when she was hurt in the end. I’m not sure I would want to write a protagonist that was so unlikeable and I’m not sure I’d want to be the person who related to her, but she was believable.

Nina was my favorite character. Except that she was cheating, I didn’t like that. I thought she was believable, a woman who was pretty from far away but was seen as ugly up close. That was realistic to me. I thought she was a good mother to Elena and she was easy to like. I felt bad for her because her in-laws seemed so terrible and crass. I understood why she was in the situation she was in, but that didn’t make it easier to read about.

As much as I don’t want to say this, there were some parts of Leda I could relate to. I hope I’m not the only one who will admit to this, but I judge people in my head. Maybe not as harshly as Leda seemed to but I will make some snap judgments about people based on how they look, are dressed, or speak. I know this sounds terrible so let me give you an example. I was on the running trail with my husband yesterday and I saw a guy in some nice running shoes out by himself. My initial thought was, “You do this to get an hour to yourself on the weekends while your wife watches the kids.” If that’s true, I’ll never know, but that’s my judgment. I can’t be alone in this, right? (Please comment and tell me I’m not a terrible person.)

I liked the ending so this is going to be a spoiler. Skip to the end of the paragraph to avoid it! I was glad Nina was so mad at Leda for taking the doll. She should have been even angrier! Elena is miserable because she lost her doll and to think that Leda had it all along and could have given it back was maddening. I’m glad she got stabbed, too. It wasn’t a bad stabbing but she deserved to suffer for what she did. Yes, this is partially my dislike for Leda but also I’m glad Nina did what she did! I’m glad she didn’t use Leda’s apartment for her affair, too. She seemed inclined to cheat to get away from her crying daughter and enjoy herself for a few hours and if Elena would be happy with her doll returned and the apartment would keep Nina from enjoying herself because it reminded her of Leda, all the better.

I hated the flashbacks to when Leda left her kids. Even if Marta and Bianca were brats (and there’s nothing to indicate they were any worse than normal children), Leda was terrible to them and the things she thought about them were even worse. As someone contemplating having children, this was a terrible book to read because now I’m afraid I’d be as angry and bitter as Leda toward my children!

The audiobook I listened to was read by Hillary Huber. Huber had a good voice for Leda and conveyed all of her anger and bitterness well. My complaint is that she read it too slowly. A 125 page book should not be a 5 hour audiobook, it just shouldn’t. For me, it was too much and took away from my enjoyment of the book. I wanted to move on to something else!

I believe Leda is the lost daughter referred to in the title. She talked a lot about her mother and upbringing and how much she disliked her mother and was always being told her mother would leave her if she misbehaved. When she was old enough, Leda left home and turned her back on her Neapolitan family and background. In the book, she’s very rude to the Neapolitan family and thinks she’s better than them. She’s distanced herself from her past in a very major way.

Writer’s Takeaway: Not every character a writer writes will be likable. Hopefully, it’s not the main character as Ferrante did in this book. I think Leda is a good study of how to make a character unlikable but I don’t think it’s a good example to make the unlikable person the protagonist.

I really did not enjoy this book. Two 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 Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante | booksaremyfavoriteandbest
The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante | Consumed by Ink
Rejoice, Ferrante Fans! A New (Children’s) Novel Is On Its Way | FlavorWire

Book Review: In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson (4/5)

12 Dec

For those of you who follow WWW Wednesday, you know I’ve been reading this book for a long time. I read it as an ebook so that’s not unusual for me. I always keep an ebook on my phone to fill in those moments waiting for the doctor or while eating lunch alone at work or other little moments I’d rather fill with a book than with checking Facebook. I had a physical copy of this book but I lent it to a coworker who was fired before he could return it to me. I still have the dust jacket but I never got a chance to read it before I lent it to him. Reading the ebook makes me feel like I can finally stop worrying about where that book is.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Erik Larson

Other books by this author:

The Devil in the White City
Dead Wake

Summary from Goodreads:

The time is 1933, the place, Berlin, when William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in a year that proved to be a turning point in history.

A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. At first Martha is entranced by the parties and pomp, and the handsome young men of the Third Reich with their infectious enthusiasm for restoring Germany to a position of world prominence. Enamored of the New Germany, she has one affair after another, including with the surprisingly honorable first chief of the Gestapo, Rudolf Diels. But as evidence of Jewish persecution mounts, confirmed by chilling first-person testimony, her father telegraphs his concerns to a largely indifferent State Department back home. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As that first year unfolds and the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance and ultimately, horror, when a climactic spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Suffused with the tense atmosphere of the period, and with unforgettable portraits of the bizarre Goring and the expectedly charming—yet wholly sinister—Goebbels. In the Garden of Beasts lends a stunning, eyewitness perspective on events as they unfold in real time, revealing an era of surprising nuance and complexity.

Wow, it took me eight months to read this! I still remember a lot of the details, though. It was really interesting to hear about Hitler’s rise to power through the Dodd’s eyes, especially Martha. Because of her memoirs, her voice was very strong and Larson used it a lot to tell the story. Dodd himself was much duller than his daughter and she was a good way to keep the book’s pace going. I liked all of the officers he included and I liked the struggle within the German government. I would frequently forget Dodd had a son and I think that’s a fault of the book but other than that, it was really well written.

Larson did a great job of bringing these people to life. Creating someone I could picture meeting from his or her diaries can’t be easy but Larson did it. He even made Hitler seem approachable in the scenes where he appeared. He did an incredible job with the setting and showing how fearful the characters were. Looking back, we’d like to think everyone would have taken the warning signs of the Nazi purpose seriously but it’s understandable that not everyone would have taken up arms against Germany, especially considering the great debt they owed the US. I thought Larson did a good job of explaining why people reacted the way they did to the Nazis.

Martha was fun to read about. Her plot often took us away from Berlin and away from the Nazis but at the same time, it added to my enjoyment of the story so much that I’m inclined to forgive it. Her love affairs were with prominent German and Russian men which gave her an air of importance. I thought it was funny that the Russian government considered her for spy work. I don’t think she cared enough about what her father was doing to be of much use to the government.

Dodd’s struggle to be taken seriously was something that spoke to me. I think many people could relate. Sometimes, due to age, gender, background, or another reason, a person is disregarded out of hand as not knowledgeable. Messersmith didn’t help Dodd gain any credibility in his office and many others seemed to work against him and not to recognize that he was competent. Because he was different from previous ambassadors, he was branded as incompetent and as much as he fought for legitimacy, he never got it. Here’s the difference between non-fiction and fiction. Sometimes real people never achieve their goals.

As I said, I enjoyed Martha’s story. I especially liked her on-and-off relationship with Boris. She was a very emotional person and by that I mean she followed her ever-changing emotions rather than think with her head. She divorced her husband without a care in the world it seemed. However, later in life, she struck up a romance with him again. If she was really thinking of him after their divorce is anyone’s guess. The men in the German army and government she dated could have landed her in serious trouble but she didn’t seem to care and I have a guess that if she could, she would have gone on a date with Hitler himself in a heartbeat. She was fun to follow and made a very serious topic more lighthearted.

The beginning of the book, describing how Dodd was selected bothered me. It was necessary, don’t get me wrong, but it started me off on the wrong foot with Dodd. Like his dissenters, I didn’t think he was a good choice and I thought there were men better qualified who should have been considered. In a book where Dodd is the hero, so to speak, I didn’t want to fight for him because I knew how much of an outsider he was and how far a shot he had of being successful.

This book is very relevant today. I’m going to try not to get political here but it will be hard. When Hitler rose to power, no one thought that he would end up the leader of the Holocaust. People saw him as someone who could save their country from debt and restore it to its former glory. To any American or well-informed world citizen, this should sound familiar. The Dodds saw the warning signs of what Hitler was doing. If there are warning signs here in America, if we’re headed down the same road, who will see them? And will that person be taken seriously enough to do something before it’s too late. I’d like to think that with the free media in the United States, those who know something will find a platform to say something.

Writer’s Takeaway: One thing I’ve been focusing on lately in my book is subplots. It’s hard to keep a subplot running the entire length of a novel and takes a lot of planning to make it work. I think of Martha’s story like a subplot. The main focus of the book is Dodd and his inability to get anything done in a Berlin that is so different from the Germany he knows and loves. Keeping that the focus of the book while showing Martha’s journey during their time in Berlin shows great skill at planning and executing his subplots.

A good read. My length of reading should be no reflection on the quality of this book. 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!

Related Posts:
“In the Garden of Beasts” by Erik Larson- A Book Recommendation | Rabbi John Rosove’s Blog
In the Garden of Beasts : Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin | Tony’s Book World
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson | The Critiquing Chemist

Book Review: Z by Therese Anne Fowler (4/5)

8 Dec

First NaNo problem: remembering enough of this book to write a review about it! I finished this book back on 17-November so I’m digging into my heart for this one. Expect more of a review on how the book made me feel than the plot. I wanted to read this book because I’m fascinated with ‘the original flapper.’ F. Scott Fitzgerald defined the flappers in his novels and he and his wife were the epitomai of the movement. My 1920s fascination couldn’t let me ignore a book about her! I found the book at a Friends of the Library sale but decided to listen to the audiobook so I could get to it sooner.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler

Summary from Goodreads:

When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen years old and he is a young army lieutenant stationed in Alabama. Before long, the “ungettable” Zelda has fallen for him despite his unsuitability: Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner, and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. Her father is deeply unimpressed. But after Scott sells his first novel, This Side of Paradise, to Scribner’s, Zelda optimistically boards a train north, to marry him in the vestry of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and take the rest as it comes.

What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined attention and success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Everyone wants to meet the dashing young author of the scandalous novel—and his witty, perhaps even more scandalous wife. Zelda bobs her hair, adopts daring new fashions, and revels in this wild new world. Each place they go becomes a playground: New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera—where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.

Everything seems new and possible. Troubles, at first, seem to fade like morning mist. But not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous—sometimes infamous—husband? How can she forge her own identity while fighting her demons and Scott’s, too?

Reading this after Call Me Zelda, I wasn’t really sure what to think of Zelda. I knew about her mental illness later in life, but what would she be like as a young, beautiful Southern Belle? I found I liked her a lot. Zelda was a very modern woman for her time and was living in a very rigid environment in Montgomery. I was surprised with the things she dared to do while still living with her parents. Once she moved out and married Scott, it surprised me less. Her life with him was beyond frustrating. I found myself hating Scott who is also the author of one of my favorite books. It was hard not to compare this title to Call me Zelda so I’ll say only that I liked this one better and the small time they did overlap in time was starkly different. Z portrayed Zelda as a victim of Scott’s pressures who was really fine while Call Me Zelda implied Zelda was truly very sick but did add that Scott was no help at all. Maybe I need a whole post for this!

I found Zelda very believable. I wasn’t sure if she would be because I know she develops mental illnesses later in life and I wasn’t sure how much Flower would incorporate those early in her story. I was also surprised how believable Scott was. I think very highly of him because of his writing but I really hated how it much of a drunk he was and how much he controlled Zelda. He was unpredictable and I felt really bad for Zelda. She could never have the things she wanted. The ballet story broke my heart the worst and how they both reacted to it was very telling of their entire relationship.

Zelda shone in her own story. I thought Fowler did a great job bringing her to life and showing how she was smart and independent while still being a devoted wife when she had to. She was very different from her contemporaries but very relatable for a modern woman in the 21st Century. I understood her desire to be independent of Scott and have things she was passionate about and successful in on her own. I liked that about her and I can see why she was such a rebel in her time.

It’s easy to think of someone in your life who was overbearing the way Scott was to Zelda, be it a parent, spouse, sibling, teacher, boss, or someone else. Every little thing you do is wrong or your ability to decide is taken away. I could relate to this part of Zelda’s relationship with Scott (side note, not my husband, don’t send Social Services!). I thought Zelda was very patient with him and I could understand why she pushed back on him toward the end. Sometimes enough is enough!

Therese Anne Fowler Image via Amazon

Therese Anne Fowler
Image via Amazon

The time Scott and Zelda spent in New York right after they were married was the most magical to me. They were both happy and their troubles hadn’t started yet. Both were so glad to be living together and be married and they were enjoying all the parties and fun they could off of Scott’s success. There was no money worry yet and it was before Scotty and Zelda’s passions came between them. It was their honeymoon period to be sure.

The subplot about Hemingway bothered me. I think the animosity between Hemingway and the Fitzgeralds could be attributed to a number of things and I thought Hemingway propositioning Zelda was a bit much. As much as the book made me dislike Scott, it made me feel even more angry about Hemingway than The Paris Wife did. It’s awful when your literary heroes are terrible people. Maybe I need to stop reading about them. I know this is a fictionalized account, but a lot of the book is based on history I know is true but chose to ignore.

Jenna Lamia did an amazing job narrating this book. I was amazed at her ability to slip into and out of accents. She portrayed Zelda with a lovely southern accent but when Scott or another character spoke, she used a Midwestern accent and even had French accents where appropriate. She brought Zelda to life for me in a magnificent way and I’d love to listen to some of her other work.

The Fitzgeralds tried to have everything and they could only keep juggling so many balls for so long. There’s an extent to how perfect someone’s life can be. They may have looked ideal on the outside but on the inside, their marriage struggled and they were unhappy a lot of the time. I think many of us see friends, co-workers, or celebrities that we idealize because their life situation seems so wonderful but we have to remember that there’s likely something going on beneath the surface that’s less than perfect, much like the Fitzgeralds.

Writer’s Takeaway: It’s nice to read an adult novel in the first person. That point of view is used widely in YA but it’s not as common in historical fiction. I liked the point of view for this novel because Zelda was such a personality herself that it would have been completely lost in some omniscient narrator. Like it was lost in Call Me Zelda. She needed to have her own book and I think this was a fair representation of what Zelda would have been like.

I really enjoyed this book and I think the audiobook was an even greater treat than the book alone. 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!

Related Posts:
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler | Books and Reviews
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler | Violet Wells
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald – Therese Anne Fowler | Curio Street Reads

WWW Wednesday, 7-December-2016

7 Dec

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.


WithoutEndCurrently reading: I’m tearing through World Without End by Ken Follett. I’m hoping to finish it before it gets returned again and I’m listening every chance I get. I’m on track 20 out of 36 so wish me luck!
I got through only a few pages of The Birthday Boys by Beryl Bainbridge. The ship is just about to leave so I’m expecting the action to ramp up very soon!
I’m loving Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. I’m been taking notes on its pages and writing notes to myself on index cards after I’ve thought about something Maass brings up. It’s given me a lot of ideas for improving my book and I’m excited to implement them!

Recently finished: Nothing this week but I started putting up reviews again! Go check out my review for The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham. I wrote it a few weeks ago but was holding off posting it until NaNo was over. Many more reviews to come in the next few weeks!

onceuponReading Next: I’m still planning on Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. I haven’t picked it up from the library yet but I’m leaving for vacation tomorrow and I better grab it to bring with me and read on the plane! I can’t go anywhere without a book. Check out Instagram to see my vacation pictures!


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 Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham (4/5)

6 Dec

I wanted to read this book because Durham is listed under important alumni from my University and is, in fact, the only novelist listed. I added it to my TBR and then realized my library didn’t have a copy. I found a copy in a used bookstore that was published in the 1970s. I was really excited to find it and I’m glad I could read it so soon.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing by Marilyn Durham

Summary from Goodreads:

This story blazes through Wyoming territory in the 1880s. We plunge into the lives of a fugitive U. S. Army officer planning a desperate train robbery. Characters include his diverse accomplices–a runaway white woman, and the lovely Indian girl, Cat Dancing, mother of the officer’s children.

I really didn’t know what to expect from this book. The cover says it was a nationwide bestseller but the fact that my library didn’t have a copy and that my copy is so old that there’s no bar code let me know it wasn’t one that had lasting greatness. But there is a movie starring Burt Reynolds so maybe it would be OK. I really liked the book. I thought it had a nicely complicated plot, not too complicated that I got lost in it but circuitous enough that I didn’t get bored. Jay was a great character and I had some problems with Catherine but I liked her enough to enjoy the story.

I thought Jay was very credible in his motivation and the way he acted. He seems like the kind of man a woman would fall in love with quickly and then discover his demons. Catherine bothered me. She was at times strong, like when the Native Americans attacked her. At other times, she seemed very weak, like when she’d parade naked in front of Jay and then be shy minutes later. Her falling in love with him was a bit unbelievable to me as well. It was very fast and I think she was more infatuated with the novelty of him than anything.

Charlie was my favorite side character. (I liked Jay best but I already told you why.) I liked that he was quiet and very observant. I thought his back story with Jay was very believable as well and I thought it was nice how close the two became and how Charlie was the one person who cared about Jay and visited him. He was an admirable character and I wish he’d had a bigger role in the book.

I related to Catherine and it took me a while to realize why. I’ve never wanted to get out of my relationship but I’ve had times I want to get out of my town or my job and just run away, hoping I’ll be swept up into some great adventure for a while. I understood the part of her that was sick of her current situation and wanted something new. I think, to some degree, we’ve all felt this way at some time or another and it was part of what I did relate to in Catherine.

Marilyn Durham Picture via IMDb

Marilyn Durham
Picture via IMDb

I enjoyed the group on the road, running from Lapchance and what they had to do to stay one step ahead. I thought Jay adapted to having Catherine with them very quickly and I enjoyed hearing about how they camped in the desert. I thought this was the most exciting part of the book. The chapters and parts that switched back to Lapchance and Willard were a bit dull to me because their chase seemed to be so delayed and slow that it wasn’t much of a thrill.

I thought Catherine falling in love and insisting she was in love with Jay was a bit unbelievable. I could believe she would fall into bed with him, sure, but her insistence that it was love for so long frustrated me. If she’d claimed love the morning after and then dropped it, I’d be okay, but she persisted for too long. It was one thing that made her feel weak to me.

Jay had trouble letting anyone love him and that was his journey. He was scared when Cat loved him and wouldn’t let Catherine love him. He’d chased Johnny so blindly for years that he had no idea what to do if he couldn’t have his son. It seemed a bit hurried to me, but it was a good journey for a character to have. Catherine seemed to be finding her own independence which I felt she did in the first chapter of the book when she left Willard so I was a bit confused as to what she was chasing.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book had a lot of action in it, more than I was expecting. I enjoyed that a lot and I thought Durham made her characters suffer a good amount. The book seemed really well researched to me, which I really appreciated. Despite being from the mid-west and writing the book in the 1970s, Durham depicted 1880s Wyoming really well and the technology was consistent. As a fellow historical fiction writer, hats off to Durham.

Really enjoyable despite one part I felt was a bit unbelievable. 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!

NaNoWriMo 2016 In Review

5 Dec

Well, I made it! I hit my goal and here I am on the other side. I didn’t write every day though I rarely do during NaNo. I’ll admit I’m a rebel and maybe my rebel goal is easier than the traditional 50K. I didn’t start until after my final exam on the 9th, which is the biggest cheat I allow myself. I realized when I did NaNo the traditional way that I could write the minimum 1667 words in about half an hour. Hate me if you will, but that’s what it took. So I held myself to 30 minutes of editing each day. To add some pressure, I made myself meet that goal each week. If I missed getting the 210 weekly amount by Saturday night, I would consider the whole thing a fail.

And I made it! You can look at my daily posts if you like for details, but I’ll say I made my goal by more than two hours. I finished going through the book from the mid-point I was at and went through it one more time. I added scenes for consistency and made some character changes. A lot of my writing was a write-ins at my local library. There’s a Detroit ML that came to all of them because he lives close by so I still felt connected to the region despite not attending any of their events. They did a stamp system to encourage participating and unfortunately, I ended with a total of four stamps.

I was going to start doing a go-through for dialogue consistency, but I think I’m going to change directions. I started reading Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass and even three chapters in, I’m coming up with ways to make my story better. I need to change the pacing. I need to strengthen a subplot. I need to make my female lead character’s motivation stronger. In short, I need to make a better story before I worry about better dialogue. What I have so far is valuable. I got to page 13 or so and a lot of the changes I’ll make are much later in the book so I do plan to come back to this later.

I’m rejuvenated. I want to work on my novel again and to be honest, I’m kicking myself for typing this when I could be working on it! I’ll take the time to write the reviews I’ve missed and catch up, but I’m considering cutting back another post per week to spend more time writing. Maybe making one post per week a writing update instead of what I normally post. I want to work on it more, especially before school starts up again in February.

Congratulations to all the other winners out there. We survived! Happy writing.

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, November 2016

1 Dec

This month was ridiculous when it comes to finishing books. Considering I took my final and did NaNoWriMo this month, I wasn’t counting on much progress. I’m ecstatic about it, don’t get me wrong. I wonder if I can keep this up? You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in November:

Stiff // Mary Roach
The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing // Marilyn Durham
In the Garden of Beasts // Erik Larson
Z // Therese Anne Fowler
The Lost Daughter // Elena Ferrante
The Tempest // William Shakespeare
Only the Paranoid Survive // Andrew S. Grove

I can’t remember the last time I read seven books in a month! This is such a good feeling. I’m a bit overwhelmed by the number of reviews I owe you all! I’ll be hard at work on those this weekend.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 12 different time periods. You can read about it here. And I finished! I’m cutting it down to the wire a bit this year but The Tempest will be my 1600s book. I may continue to do Shakespeares for this in years to come, the 1600s can be hard!

Goodreads Challenge

49/45
Woo hoo! Finishing it off like it’s nothing, haha. I’ll probably get to 52 or so by the end of December. I’m going to try to put more time into writing while I can so books might take a bit of a back seat.

stiffBook of the Month

Stiff was really good. The audiobook was wonderfully narrated as well but the writing took my breath away. I wasn’t expecting to be so interested in dead bodies! It was a great surprise and a smash hit at book club (more on that to come in a few weeks!).

Added to my TBR

I added three this month which I’m not happy about, but I think I’ll survive. I’m down one overall with 123 total books. I’m going to be missing my book club meetings for a while so this might really start to drop!

  • A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. This may be premature because I haven’t read A Gathering of Shadows yet but I’m going to assume I’ll want to read this one!
  • Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. A book club selection for January. I’ll probably start it next but I do hope to speed through it and get some other books read over the holidays!
  • South of Broad by Pat Conroy. Another book club pick. This one is a clunker so I’m hoping it sweeps me along and I can finish it fast.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re killing it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, it’s fun! I’ll do it again in 2017 to be sure.

Until next time, write on.

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