Archive | May, 2017

WWW Wednesday, 31-May-2017

31 May

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.


Currently reading: I’m so sorry to say that I’ve put A Son of the Circus by John Irving aside for a while. I have some book club selections I need to get through first. I have all of the intentions in the world of finishing this one up and it makes me really sad to put it on hold.
I made some moderate progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi but I’m wondering where this book is going because I’m 1/3 of the way through and they’re not in the elephant tent anymore! Is there another elephant tent coming?
My drive to work is better with Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. I’m about half way through it now and it’s been a good distraction from traffic.
I started reading Tigerman by Nick Harkaway, one of my book club selections. It’s OK but making me miss the Irving. I was at my parent’s cottage this weekend and found some good time to read.
My husband and I started a car-trip audiobook. I hope this one doesn’t take as long as some of our earlier ones! This time it’s Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. So far, we’re really enjoying it. As much as I have my suspicions about who it could be, I know Poirot will keep me guessing until the end!
I’ve just started Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay on audio. I love the cover of this one and saw it as a popular book club pick for a while so I’m interested to see where it goes!

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up Landline by Rainbow Rowell over the holiday weekend! I’m so glad to have finished a book. With all the ones I have in process, I’m not sure how quickly I’ll finish another one, haha. I think I’m only missing Rowell’s novella now before I’ve read all of her work. I plan to have a review for this one up early next week.
No reviews this week but as I said, Landline will be coming next week so there’s one to look forward to!

Reading Next: With so much going on, I don’t really want to think ahead, haha. I do know my next book club selection will be Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Rober Pirsig. I could only find a print version of this book so I’ll be reading it in that format after Tigerman.


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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Meeting Author David Maraniss

30 May

My community chose David Maraniss’s book Once in a Great City for our Everyone’s Reading book this year. I’ve already posted my book review and my book club reflection on the book and last week, I heard the author himself speak.

Maraniss was born in Detroit but spent much of his childhood in Wisconsin. He spoke about watching the Superbowl in 2011 and when this ad came on, he felt a pull to the city.

I really connected with this. I was living in Southern Indiana in 2011 and was watching the Superbowl with a bunch of other friends from the business school. As nerdy business students, we were more focused on the half-time commercials than on the game. It went completely silent in the room while that 2-minute ad went on and then when it was over, the whole room looked at me like I was the ambassador for the whole city. I just said, “Heck yes!” and grabbed more guac. It seems I wasn’t the only one with an experience like this, but Maraniss wrote a book because of it.

Once in a Great City is Maraniss’s 12th book. He uses the same research system for each book which he likens to digging an oil rig and getting as deep as he can to get all the information. The first step is to go to the place. When writing about Bill Clinton, he went to Hope, Arkansas. When writing about Vince Lombardi, he went to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Doing so has given him access to first-hand accounts and stories he wouldn’t have found otherwise. The second step is always to get the documents. For this book, it was letters from Mayor Cavanagh and Police Commissioner Edwards that were at the Wayne State University Reuther Library. He visited 11-12 other libraries and archives including an Olympic archive in Los Angeles and Duke University’s advertising archive for the documents about the Mustang. He found during his research that the Mustang tagline was originally Imported from Detroit. Well, at least it was finally used.

Maraniss’s third step is to talk to people. Being in the target area helps with this. Many of the major figures for the Detroit novel had passed but he was able to talk to a few including Berry Gordie Jr. and Martha Reeve. His final step is to look for what’s not there. For Maraniss, he saw the influence of the rest of the Gordie family, not just Berry. He saw the access to musical instruments, specifically pianos as a reason for the musical movement in the city at that time. He also saw the influence of public school music teachers and how that pushed many musicians to follow a musical career.

Maraniss expressed that the bittersweet tone of his book wasn’t intentional but grew as he wrote and edited the novel. He feels Detroit is still a great city but that the neighborhoods and schools need support to match earlier splendor. Due to length, there were other topics Maraniss chose to not cover including architects and other auto companies.  This book has been optioned into a 4-part documentary series on CNN with Anthony Bourdain that will likely release in early 2018. The makers are currently looking for home movies of that era to add to the series.

In answering questions from the audience, Maraniss revealed that on a recent trip, he went to see his childhood home and it had been knocked down the day before! He’d seen it other times on trips to the city for research but was really struck by the timing. He revealed that his next book will deal with the McCarthy era. Maraniss also said that there’s not really a set time it takes him to write a book and that the process is ongoing for him. He did say he often signs 2-book contracts and that it’s usually 8-12 months between book delivery to his editor and publication.

I decided not to buy a copy of this book because as much as I liked it, it’s not one I’ll read again and I’m trying to limit the books I own, even the signed ones, to ones I would want to lend out or read again. No pictures this time.

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!

PotterCon Detroit!

29 May

My amazing husband got me a great birthday present. I went to PotterCon! I didn’t even know about this event when I first opened the present but I got really excited all of April leading up to it.

In addition to my husband and I, another couple was coming with us. Here are our costumes. Can you guess who we are? The thing in my left hand is a book on a stick, that’s not part of the costume.

After waiting forever in line (very confusing which line to go in), we got inside the Masonic. This was the perfect location to have this event because it felt like Hogwarts. We were going up and down stairs, along passages and never really able to find our way from one room to another. If you look at the picture on the web link I included, it shows the room where they held Quidditch demonstrations and trivia. It was beautiful.

The first thing we did was get drinks! The event is 21+ so drinks were happening. I had a Butterbeer (picture below) which was scrumptious. Then we went to get sorted. Or we thought we’d get sorted. You put your name in a lottery and they drew names of people to sort. It was fun; they asked questions and the person answered and then the crowd shouted what house they thought the person should be in. None of my friends were picked, unfortunately.

We explored the castle, looking at wand making, the Diagon Alley stores, and Quidditch-pong. One of the things I really wanted to do was trivia! We ran into two more friends who joined our massive team. We decided to do intermediate trivia because a few of us are pretty knowledgeable. I think there was some kind of huge mistake. Husband and I caught the end of the novice trivia questions and some of them were WAY harder than the ones we got. We only got one question wrong and missed one bonus point. There was a grand suspicion that the questions had been mixed up. Needless to say, there was a massive tie for first and we were part of it! I was selected to represent my team and we went to the stage and were given a category. The category was Hogwarts Professors and we went down the line, each naming one until we couldn’t and were eliminated. I made it through two rounds, which only about eight people did. Not too bad!

After that, we went and got lunch, which was probably the least organized thing of the whole day. There were only 3 food trucks for 9,000 people! It took about an hour for us to eat burritos. After that, we were pretty tired and decided to go watch the costume contest finals before heading home. The finalists were amazing! I was so impressed with their costumes. My favorite was a woman dressed as Madame Pomfrey who had a freaking hoop skirt on! The woman who won was the Fat Lady, complete with frame and broken wine glass. It was really epic and well deserved.

It was a long, exhausting, amazing day. I hope there’s another event like this because it was well worth the ticket price. And I now have a cosplay costume! (Assuming at least two other people come with me.)

To my American readers, enjoy the Memorial Day holiday. I’m relaxing at the lake house.

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!

Library Writers Group: The Power of Words

25 May

It’s always good to meet with my library writers group! Our member Gary presented this month on the power of words. We went through different ways to use words, how to avoid the bad ones and how to use the good ones more effectively. I hope this makes more sense as I get into it.

Language can be concise, precise, or both. The sentence, “Jane said with fear in her voice” could be more concise as “Jane said” and more precise as “Jane squeaked out while trembling in fear.” The perfect compromise is when these two are combined so our writing is both precise and concise. “Jane said, trembling in fear.” You can be more precise by replacing adjectives with strong ones. Purple vs. lilac, hungry vs. ravenous, short vs. petite. There are hundreds of examples.

Idioms are phrases where the literal meaning of the phrase makes no sense or is in no way related to the meaning of the phrase. Doing something “at the drop of hat” or saying someone is “barking up the wrong tree” make no sense if taken literally. While listing these, we wondered if there were any ‘new’ idioms. I could find a few: drop the mic and crash (fall asleep).

As writers, we want to avoid purple prose, which is prose so flowery and over the top that it draws attention to itself. I’d never heard this before, but smaller uses of purple prose are called purple patches. This makes me think of wildflowers, but it’s really not that pretty.

We talked for a while about similes and metaphors. One of my favorite exercises was a list of similes we were provided with a key word missing. We were asked to fill in the blank with the ‘right’ word and then make up our own! Here’s the list if you want to try. I’ve replaced the missing word with an X. The ‘correct’ answers and my answers are below.

1.       You were as brave as a X

2.       The fought like X and X.

3.       This house is as clean as a X.

4.       He is as strong as a(n) X.

5.       Your explanation is as clear as X.

6.       Well, that went over like a X.

7.       They are as different as X and X.

8.       As cold as X.

9.       As innocent as X.

10.   As white as X.

11.   As sweet as X.

12.   As sure as X and X.

13.   As black as X.

Answers: 1) lion/Marvel action hero 2)cats and dogs / Hatfields and McCoys 3)whistle/a if you had a Rumba 4)ox/Norse god 5) crystal/a lake on a calm day 6) lead balloon/bad movie sequel 7) night and day/Harry and Voldemort 8) ice/[I couldn’t think of anything witty] 9) a lamb/Baby Groot 10)snow OR a ghost/[I got nothing] 11)sugar/McDonalds Sweet Tea 12)death and taxes/[nothing] 13)night/a Sith Lord

Mine might take a while to catch on. I was feeling the nerdiness when I was doing this, but it was a lot of fun! Let me know if you come up with any good ones.

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, 24-May-2017

24 May

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.


Currently reading: I made a push to work on A Son of the Circus by John Irving over the weekend and got maybe 40 pages in. I’m over page 400 now but I’m thinking this might have to go on hold for a bit so I can get through some book club selections in time for the meetings. I hate doing that, but sometimes social pressure get the best of my reading schedule!
I had some technical difficulties with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi over the weekend but they’ve now been solved and I’m back at this one. I’ve had a bit of lunch reading time but not too much. Hope to make some steady progress going forward.
Landline by Rainbow Rowell has been fun. I’m not as engaged as I have been with other Rowell books, but it’s still enjoyable. It’s great for runs and cooking time!
I’m making slow progress with Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris only because I don’t drive a lot. Having this one limited to my car is a bit slow but I’m still liking the humor. I’ll keep enjoying it. The short essays help with my short drives!

Recently finished: Nothing new finished but two book reviews posted! The first is for Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie. This is the second in the series and I really enjoyed both so far. I hope to keep going with these as they’re all on mobile audio. Yay! I gave the book 4 out of 5 stars.
My second review is for Ellen DeGeneres’s Seriously… I’m Kidding. I listened to this on audio and my review may have been different if I’d read the book but I gave the audio 4 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: Unfortunately, it’s going to have to be Tigerman by Nick Harkaway. I really wanted to get to The Circle but school has been more crazy than expected. I don’t think I’ll make it to the theaters to see the movie anyway. Sad day!


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!

1,000 Followers! Thank you, and you, and you, and you, and…

23 May

Well, you can likely guess the subject of this post from the title. I was at PotterCon this weekend (post to follow) and got a phone notification that I’d reached 1,000 followers! Thank you all so much!

It’s been a wonderful journey blogging with you all. I’m sorry I’m not able to engage as much as I once was due to work and school becoming much more demanding of my time. I do my best to engage with anyone who comments here on the blog and I do love hearing from you all.

Hosting WWW Wednesday has been a huge part of my growth here and I thank all of you who have started reading my posts after finding me through this meme. It’s been a pleasure hosting.

Please continue to share my posts if you think they’re worth sharing. Please continue to participate in WWW Wednesday if you enjoy seeing what others are reading. Please enjoy books and stories as much as you can.

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: Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres (4/5)

22 May

I love celebrity comedian memoirs. I remember listening to an Ellen book with a friend of mine in high school and laughing so hard it was inappropriate. I grabbed this book during a bag sale at the library but I found time to listen to it before I had time to read it, so here we are. I used to watch Ellen’s show when I’d get home from high school while I ate a snack so I’m a big fan of hers.

Cover image via Goodreads

Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres

Summary from Goodreads:

“Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing.” Ellen Degeneres’ winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously… I’m Kidding, Degeneres’ first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn’t want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant.

This book was exactly what I was expecting which was perfect. I wanted something honest and lighthearted. I wanted someone who was going to talk about her life and poke fun at herself but who is uplifting and a wonderful role model. This is a woman who won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and she had me laughing at silly jokes in her book. She’s a true American Icon, even if she’s not an American Idol.

Ellen portrays herself and her wife in a very realistic way. I don’t know much of de Rossi outside of her character on Arrested Development but I feel like I know Ellen from watching her show. As silly as she is and as outrageous as some things in her book may seem, I honestly believe that her life is like that. I think she embraces the silliness and things seem outrageous because of her perspective on the world.

 

I think celebrity memoirs really make the star seem very human. When I think of a celebrity, I think of someone who doesn’t do their own grocery shopping or cleaning or anything that could be work. But reading these memoirs reminds me that very few celebrities reach that level of wealth. That’s mostly reserved for businessmen. A lot of celebrities have very normal and relatable lives. They have to clean their houses and pets. They have fights with their significant others. They do a lot of ‘normal’ things and I find that reassuring.

Ellen DeGeneres receiving her Presidential Medal of Freedom with Pres. Obama
Image via NY Daily News

Ellen’s talk about a Finding Nemo sequel was really funny in light of the recent release of Finding Dory. I might not have laughed at those jokes five years ago, but today I don’t see them as bitter, just ironic.

The one thing I dislike about this style of book is the short chapters. They don’t allow for much substance but I imagine with many other books under her belt, DeGeneres might have been a bit short of solid material.

Having Ellen read the audiobook was amazing. I’m glad I listened to it instead of reading it, I don’t think it would have had the same effect. She even read the chapter numbers in funny voices to make the listening more fun. I would highly recommend this format.

I’m not sure there’s a running theme in this book, to be honest. Memoirs like this don’t always have one. DeGeneres wants to make her reader laugh and she does a good job of this. She uses a variety of jokes which I really appreciated and enjoyed. I’d read another of her books in a heartbeat.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m not sure the variety of topics and formats for chapters would translate as well to the fiction I write. It works well for a genre that can seem repetitive after a while. She mixes up her essays with lists and commentary that keep her style in mind but keeps the reader pushing forward to see what’s going to come next.

This book was a fun listen and I enjoyed it a lot. 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:
Review | Seriously… I’m Kidding, Ellen DeGeneres | Literary Treats
Review: Seriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres | BookSpoils
Seriously… I’m Kidding – Ellen DeGeneres | CatherineZiemann

Book Review: Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie (4/5)

18 May

It was years ago that I read the first book in this series, Medicus. I think it was in high school and I grabbed the book off a shelf at Borders because of a gift card I had. Years later, a friend of mine saw I’d marked it as ‘books I own’ on my Goodreads shelf and asked to borrow it. She loved the title and went on to finish the series! She gave me the second book, Terra Incognita as a birthday present and it’s sat on my shelf until now. I decided to listen to this book so I could enjoy it sooner. The sequel, Persona Non Grata, is also on my shelf and may be another audiobook.

Cover image via Goodreads

Terra Incognita (Medicus Investigation #2) by Ruth Downie

Summary from Goodreads:

It is spring in the year 118, and Gaius Petreius Ruso has been stationed in the Roman-occupied province of Britannia for nearly a year. After his long and reluctant investigation of the murders of a handful of local prostitutes, Ruso needs to get away. With that in mind, he has volunteered for a posting with the army in Britannia’s deepest recesses- a calmer place for a tired man.

But the edge of the Roman Empire is a volatile place; the independent tribes of the North dwell near its borders. These hinterlands are the homeland of Ruso’s slave, Tilla, who has scores of her own to settle there: Her tribespeople are fomenting a rebellion against Roman control, and her former lover is implicated in the grisly murder of a soldier. Ruso, filling in for the demented local doctor, is appalled to find that Tilla is still spending time with the prime suspect. Worse, he is honor-bound to try to prove the man innocent-and the army wrong- by finding another culprit. Soon both Ruso’s and Tilla’s lives are in jeopardy, as is the future of their burgeoning romance.

I kept thinking that I would look up a summary of Medicus before I read this to make sure I remembered what happened but I never did. I remembered the important parts, that Tilla was a slave Ruso bought and she’s his housekeeper. That was as much as I needed to remember. The story was written so that the important parts from the previous book were introduced in this one so I didn’t have to feel stupid. It’s kind of like how Rowling will re-explain Hogwarts in the second and third Potter books, you know, just in case you forgot. The book was as sarcastic and fun to read as I remembered so I had a lot of fun listening to it. The mystery also wasn’t so buried in a single detail that I couldn’t solve it which I enjoyed as well. I followed Ruso’s suspicions and thought, “Yeah, it’s totally him!” when he had the wrong guy in mind and doubted Tilla when Ruso doubted her. Downie sucked me in.

Part of the fun of Ruso is that he’s smarter than a man in 118 should be and as a modern reader, you can sympathize with him. He doesn’t believe in praying to the Gods and he doubts the Roman system he’s sucked into more than a doctor of his time likely would. He’s smart like the modern man so he’s a bit out of place and unbelievable in the setting, but he’s what the reader needs to connect with that time. Gambax is more like the man I’d expect in that time period whose intelligence is very self-serving.

As I’m implying, I liked Ruso best. He was easiest to relate to and he was a kind person who got taken advantage of. He’s easy to like and I share his sympathies and frustrations because of that. Even when he sees Tilla and the other women hurting the guilty man, he wants him to be dealt with using the Emperor’s justice. He does things the right way and is admirable.

I think the realization Tilla comes to about Rianorix is very enlightening and one that a lot of people are afraid to admit. While Rian might love her and take care of her, he’s going to be in love with Aemilia until he does and settling for him would only her Tilla in the end. She has to be very brave to walk away from him and I’ve met people who are not that brave or wish they were.

Ruth Downie
Image via the author’s website

I liked the scene where Ruso hosted the free clinic. I thought the descriptions of the people who came to see him and the ailments they complained of was well written and really well researched by the author. Ruso showed his intelligence but also worked like a man in 118 with the limited resources he had. The sarcasm and humor in the scene were really enjoyable as well.

Because I liked Ruso so much, it was hard to hear about his flaws and Tilla pointed them out a lot at the beginning. Though he’s in debt, he spends a lot of money on luxuries and that was hard for me to read about. I’m very frugal so Ruso’s decisions to spend money on a hotel room was frustrating. I agreed with Tilla but it made me uncomfortable to hear negative things about a hero I like so much.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Simon Vance. He did a good job of capturing the sarcasm of Ruso and Tilla and I really appreciated that. I hope he narrates the entire series because he has a good way of expressing Ruso’s frustrations at the world he lives in and I appreciate that.

Greed plays a big role in the motivation for the murder. The killer is overreaching his means and has to protect himself to maintain his social position. The book also talks about discipline and how the hospital works when there’s discipline and order and how chaos can cause problems. Thessalus’s story is about love and devotion where there shouldn’t be any and I found this endearing and sweet. It made for a great plot twist!

Writer’s Takeaway: Two things Downie does made this book stand out for me. The first was a relatable character where history says there likely wasn’t one. She had to manipulate Ruso a little to make him relatable but I think that’s important for her series. The second is that these books are funny. It’s a subtle humor but it’s really fun, especially with the audiobook and a narrator that articulates it so well.

This book was really fun and I hope I don’t wait as long to read the third one! 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 Post:
Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie | ozziesbookblog

WWW Wednesday, 17-May-2017

17 May

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.


Currently reading: I wish I had more time to read A Son of the Circus by John Irving now that I’m enjoying it. School is very fast-paced for this 6-week course and I’m spending a lot of my free time reading for that class. I hate to push books off, but school does, unfortunately, come first.
I’m finding more time to read at work during lunch than I’m getting at home. As such, I’m making decent progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. It’s a little slow, but I’m still enjoying the story of Kathleen’s time in the circus and her time with the elephants.
I started two new audiobooks. The first is Landline by Rainbow Rowell. It was the next eaudio I could download. I picked up a physical copy of this book at a library sale and I’m been wanting to read it for a while. I’ll get to it much sooner as an audiobook than if I’d waited to read the physical book.
I picked up an audiobook for my car, too. I want to get to some of those that have long hold times. I decided to go with Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris. I tried reading a Sedaris book in college and couldn’t stand it but when I listened to it, I was in love. I’m hoping this is the same.

Recently finishedSeriously… I’m Kidding by Ellen Degeneres was a quick, fun read. I’m glad I listened to this one because, like Sedaris, having the author read it added a lot of fun and humor that reading the words on the page couldn’t add. My review will be up next week so look forward to that.
No reviews this week! I’ll have another one up tomorrow, though, so don’t fret!

Reading Next: I know I’ve had The Circle on here for a few weeks but I got another book club book I have to read first! Unfortunately, I’m going to replace my next up with Tigerman by Nick Harkaway. I’m hoping this is a quick read so I can get to Eggers soon! I’m putting off seeing the movie until I can read this book.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Club Reflection: Once in a Great City by David Maraniss

16 May

I’m back to my book clubs! My class is over for the semester which means I’m free on Monday nights again and can join in on the discussions. I read Once in a Great City a couple of weeks ago and I’ll be posting about it again in a few weeks when author David Maraniss comes to speak in my area.

One issue some people had with the book was the title. We felt it implied that Detroit was no longer a great city, that it had lost that greatness. Our moderator likened it to watching the Titanic movie. This thing is so wonderful and great and you’re looking at it thinking, “Wow! How incredible is this!” and the whole time, you know it’s going to sink because that’s history and you can’t change it. Seeing Detroit built up as this pillar of American modernity and progress just to know that it will be home to terrible race riots, high murder rates, government corruption, economic depression, and bankruptcy feels like watching a beautiful ship sink to the bottom of the ocean. Many of our members remembered when Detroit’s offering of steady employment and strong industry was a draw and sense of price for the city. That’s since faded.

The best description of the book a member gave was “interesting and tedious.” The topics were interesting and Maraniss picked a good time in Detroit history to focus on. It was very well researched, maybe too much so. The level of detail made it dense. For someone from Detroit, the topic was engaging enough because we are around the thing he’s talking about. For someone from another area, they’d likely get bogged down in the details and not want to continue.

Speaking of being from here, many of us were surprised to hear about the Ford Rotunda. It does help explain the road in Dearborn called Rotunda, though. The number of tourists and fame described was astounding and those in our group who were alive to see it feel it may have been a bit exaggerated.

We enjoyed the chapters about Detroit’s Olympic bid. We were all surprised to hear about it. The way Maraniss built it up it seemed like it would be a close battle between Detroit and Mexico City, but the results were a blowout. I wonder if Detroit will ever be a serious contender for the Olympics again.

There were some things we felt were missing from the book. The mob story was glossed over a bit. People think of Chicago when they think of the mob in America but Detroit has a strong mob background as well. The book also focused very strongly on Ford, ignoring General Motors and Chrysler culture. Maybe GM and Chrysler are less controversial and scandalous as they’re not run by a single family. The Fords have dark sides like anti-Semitic backgrounds, affairs, and a distaste for immigrants. That makes for a good book in the times leading to a race riot.

It was great to be back with these ladies and discuss a book again. We’re moving back to fiction next month and I’ll be reading that book soon. Until next time, write on.

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