Archive | August, 2017

Bookish News 31-August

31 Aug

I’m sad to say I don’t have anything new to write about today! Rather than take another day off, I scouted the internet for some bookish news to share with you and want to provide some commentary on an article I found.

Did a YA book buy its way to the top of the New York Times bestseller list?

This article surprised me for a few reasons. Firstly, I guess I didn’t think about how the numbers were compiled for this list. It makes sense that a few stores are picked to count orders and averages are used. I get that. Secondly, I’m frankly surprised it hasn’t happened before. We’ve read about authors manipulating their reviews and this seems like a very straightforward way to promote a book.

Like the author of the article and the people she references, I haven’t heard of the book in question, Handbook for Mortals by Lani Sarem. Seeing as it only has 191 reviews on Goodreads and an overall rating of 1.93, it’s surprising this scam lasted as long as it did.

I guess it’s a little scary that this even happened. I mean, it’s a total publicity stunt on behalf of the publisher and the author was likely ecstatic at first. Imagine if you’d just published your first book with a new publisher and you were told it was #1 on the NYT list! And then imagine the disappointment when you found out that was revoked because your publisher did it by sneaky and untruthful means. I would be beyond crushed. I hope that when the movie does come out, they try to say it was a #1 NYT and have to change it and get shut down! I’d love to see NYT wield that kind of power.

I’m happy for author Angie Thomas, whose book was restored to the #1 position after the controversy was cleared up. I’ve heard great things about her book and I bet she was shocked to think she’d been ousted not by a book creeping up the charts, but one out of left field.

As a side note, today is my first day of school! Send some good vibes my way, please!

Until next time, write on.

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

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WWW Wednesday, 30-August-2017

30 Aug

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 feel like I’m making great progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi but until I finish it, I have nothing to show for it! I really think it will be soon but with school starting tomorrow, maybe I shouldn’t be as hopeful.
I’m still enjoying The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I had a cold over the weekend which cut out some long runs that would have given me some great progress on this one. Slowed down, but I’m not stopping! I’ll keep pushing through it.
I slowed down with The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson between my illness and my vacation to New Orleans. I’m back at it now and I think I’ll finish it in the next two weeks.

Recently finished: Nothing! It was a slow week reading for me so I’m not surprised but I wish I’d been able to get through something!

I did post a review for Chemistry on Monday so please check that out!

Reading Next: I’m back to book club selections it looks like. Next up is Still Life by Louise Penny. I don’t think we’ve read a mystery together for some time so I’m really looking forward to this one.


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

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Q&A with Chemistry Author Weike Wang

29 Aug

If you’ve been following, you’ve read about my great amazement to find a friend from high school swimming had written a book. Weike Wang’s first novel, Chemistry, is garnering more and more press since its release in May. I came across it while exploring Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle and I’m so glad I did. After reconnecting with Weike, she agreed to do a Q&A with me here on the blog. Thank you again to Weike for her time!

Questions I Wrote Before Reading

SAM: Can you tell me about the process of getting this book to a publisher? How long did it take and how much rejection did you have to face?
WEIKE: It was an idealistic situation.  I faced no rejection because this novel was my MFA thesis and my advisor did me a great deed by introducing me to his editor.  Then the fairy tale unfolded from there.  I am quite aware that this is not the normal pace of things.  But my advice to young writers is to always, always respect your teachers and listen to what they have to say.

SAM: What attracted you to the novel format?
WEIKE: It’s a commitment.  But you also have to be restrained.  A novel is not just a place to expand in every direction.  Also, practically, novels sell and short stories do not.

SAM: How much of this book is autobiographical?
WEIKE: I would say a bit but not much.  With the first novel, you are writing about all the experiences you have ever heard of.  Sometimes they are your own experiences, sometimes not.

SAM: Do you see another novel in your future?
WEIKE: Of course! I love the form.  Especially the form of a short novel. Currently something is in the works.  Fingers crossed!

SAM: Reading your author bio, you seem to have changed career paths. What prompted you to do that?
WEIKE: Mostly I was trying to figure out what I want to do.  I don’t mean to sound like a jerk here, but I was competent at a lot of things.  Some of those things were stable careers and careers that I think anyone could have been happy with.  Medicine.  Research. Etc.  I really wanted to DO something that would forward a field.  That required looking at different avenues of my own interests.

SAM: Can you comment on appearances, interviews, etc. you’ve done since this book was released?
WEIKE: They were all fun.  I have enjoyed getting to meet readers and rekindling with old friends (like you!).

Questions I Wrote After Reading

SAM: You end with a very hopeful tone. Should we be hopeful for the narrator?
WEIKE: Sure, I think that’s fair.  A good ending, I have always believed, is an ending where the story continues in the reader’s mind.  There is a little bit of hope but also some qualification of that hope.  It’s life, no?

SAM: You leave all characters in the book unnamed except Eric. Is he focal to the narrator’s transformation?
WEIKE: I named Eric because I think his relationship to her is the most ambiguous.  He is her boyfriend sure, but they’re also in the middle of a long break up. Everyone else in the novel has an explicit relationship to her that doesn’t change.

SAM: Your format jumps from the plot to memories and back again. Why did you choose to write this way? Do you see yourself writing future novels in this format? (Assuming there will be some, of course!)
WEIKE: When I read novels, I find that I skim over a lot of the ‘fat’.  Descriptions, dialogues, scenes that drag.  I was trained in the short story field and I have always felt that a novelist could benefit from being lean.  That is giving the reader just enough but not SO much that the reader doesn’t have to work for it, doesn’t have to think.  The jumping back and forth is just a style I like.  It’s called collage.  It’s one of the most forgiving styles of writing for a writer.

Thanks yet again to Weike for responding to a Facebook message from an old swimming friend. I’m hoping for more books of hers in the future.

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: Chemistry by Weike Wang

28 Aug

If you didn’t read my post about my visit to Elliott Bay Book Company, you probably missed my connection to this book. To summarize, I swam with Weike in high school. We went to different schools but her school did not have a swim team and she swam at my school instead. I came across this book randomly while on vacation and have been able to reconnect with her online and I’m so excited to start talking about the book!

Cover image via Goodreads

Chemistry by Weike Wang

Summary from Goodreads:

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want? Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

It was hard for me not to picture Weike as the narrator of this book. I knew her as the smart and funny girl on the team who made us all laugh and would never give up. I kept picturing the narrator as a girl with hair up in a sloppy, wet bun with goggle rings around her eyes. If asked, that’s the narrator I pictured, fresh out of the pool. But in reality, I know the narrator of this book isn’t the Weike I knew in high school. Her story, whatever it may be, is not in these pages. That was the biggest struggle I had. Having not spoken to her since 2006, this could be her for all I know. But then it would be an autobiography and real life doesn’t tie up nicely at the end.

I love the plotline that was created for the narrator. Like so many, she thinks she knows her path to happiness and is following it, only to have something change that path. What it is, we’re a bit unsure in this novel. She has a breakdown and everything that made her feel safe falls away. I like how her family background played into this. She has to hide her disappointment and her desire for a change. Really, it’s only her best friend who 100% supports her. I liked this character a lot. I liked that she was sarcastic and loving and hurt. It made the narrator’s reactions seem almost intensified. She’s going through something that started one day in the lab while the best friend had a traumatic thing happen in her life and the two women have to help each other out of ‘it,’ whatever ‘it’ is.

I liked the narrator. The way she told her story jumped around but I enjoyed hearing about the things she was reminded of as she went through life. She thought back to her mother, the things her father said to her growing up, and sayings and advice she’d heard. I think it’s really realistic of how my brain works and I was relieved that there might be someone out there who feels the same way I do.

There are times I’ve wanted to give up like the narrator did. I’ve had times when something, even something I excel in, seems to overwhelm me and makes me want to give it all up and crawl into a hole. I completely understood the narrator’s break and desire to get away from chemistry. I wanted to do the same during my education and seriously considered how much I could leverage 2.5 years of a business and Spanish degree. I had my mother and (now) husband talk me back into school a few times.

Weike Wang
Image via The New York Times

I liked the part about the math student. That felt very real to me. She was debating moving on and meeting someone who was also moving on seemed tempting. I liked that she experienced that and I think what she took away from it was really eye-opening. I think seeing something different can always make a person appreciate what he has.

There wasn’t anything major I disliked about this book. I was frustrated by the best friend’s situation but I didn’t dislike it. I guess not understanding what led the narrator to her breakdown in the first place was the most frustrating. I didn’t sympathize with her as much because there wasn’t a ton building to that point.

Sometimes we have to fall apart to begin again. The book ended with a lot of hope. I had hope that things would work out well for the narrator and that she had her life more together than she thought. I hoped that she would find something to make her happy again, something that would give her the drive and purpose she’d been lacking for so much of the book.

Writer’s Takeaway: I liked the format of this book. With no chapters, I kept telling myself I could read just a bit more and would end up stopping 10 pages later. It was engaging and even though the snapshots were short, they still gave me a lot in each one. I liked fast references to family advice as much as I liked the main plot. It was a fun style to read.

Overall, a short compelling read. I liked the first-generation experience in the book because it was something new to me. 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:
Chemistry by Weike Wang | Book Nation by Jen
Chemistry by Weike Wang | Tonstant Weader Reviews
Authors in Real Life: Lisa Ko and Weike Wang | musings

Book Gems in New Orleans, LA for the Traveling Bibliophile

24 Aug

I am back from the Big Easy! Yes, that in itself is an accomplishment.

I had very little free time in the busy schedule for this conference so I decided to go it alone on the first full day! I picked the three closest shops and headed out.

First on the agenda was Crescent City Books and Prints. I wasn’t aware Crescent City was a nickname for New Orleans before arriving but upon hearing it, it makes a ton of sense. Take a look at a map of the city and see the way the river cuts through it! I’ll be honest and say this was my least favorite of the book stores I visited. There were some neat older books and having the paintings and prints was a cool feature, but I wasn’t very impressed with the book collection. Most of the fiction was older titles which said to me the store doesn’t get a lot of new stuff. The floor plan wasn’t very big, either. It did have this cool wall which looks like it’s from a plane, so there’s that.

I grabbed some lunch and beer at a local brewery before heading to the store I was most excited about. Just the name alone had me excited. Are you ready for this?

If you didn’t guess from the name, let me explain. This bookstore is composed of the two rooms where William Faulkner lived from 1923-1924 and where he wrote his book Soldier’s Pay. I walked past the street it’s on and had to backtrack. It’s literally tucked right next to the cathedral just off Jackson Square. And, this is the best part, the street is called Pirate’s Ally! How great is that?

What’s even better is the adorable bookstore inside. The collection, appropriately, comprised a lot of classics and collector’s editions of Faulkner’s books. There was also a great collection of new and used fiction and I have to say I was very tempted by some of the selections! I decided, in the end, to go with Soldier’s Pay because it seemed appropriate. I did spend a lot of time poking around, though. Look how cute these pictures are!

After stopping for some VERY NECESSARY beignets at Cafe du Monde, I hit up one last store to round out my day. (Side note, Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours and it’s a lot less crowded at 2 AM.)

Beckham’s Bookshop was another used bookstore but I have to say I much preferred this one. The space had wide shelves and high ceilings. There was even a ladder on the walls but since I was the only person in the store, I restrained myself from swinging around like Belle. I’m mad at myself for not taking a picture. The one included here is from the second floor, the non-fiction and foreign language books. I bought myself a copy of Cuando era puertorriquena by Esmeralda Santiago. I’m now stocked and ready to go with Spanish reading books for a few years!

I liked this store more because of the selection. There were newer titles and some good old ones as well. I was deciding between a few books when I walked upstairs and found Santiago’s book. The gentleman running the store was very nice and helpful when a woman came in looking for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. She said she had a few chapters left in #2 and didn’t want to wait to read the next one. The gentleman gave her a list of all the bookstores within walking distance. How great is that?!

Overall, it was a great visit to New Orleans and a great afternoon of book shopping. I’m traveling for work next month but I don’t think I’ll have time for book shopping. We shall see.

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 23-August-2017

23 Aug

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 still working on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I checked yesterday and I’m on chapter 34 of 40 so I really do promise I’ll finish this book!
I started a new audiobook while on vacation, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn how wondrous Oscar’s life is.
I have a new physical book as well, The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson. It’s fun to read a book set in your town, but I’m having some issues with this book already. It’s not enough to stop me from reading it, but it will make for a long review.

Recently finishedI was able to finish Chemistry by Weike Wang on the plane to New Orleans. I’m excited to put up a review next week and see if I can talk to Weike about the book a little and share with you all.

Two reviews to share! I posted a review of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum on Monday. I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t what I was expecting and I think that threw it off for me. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also posted a review of Empire Falls by Richard Russo yesterday. I understand why this book won the Pulitzer and now I want to see the HBO mini-series! Does aAnyone know if it’s easy to get a copy of that?

Reading Next: It turns out I am going to the conference I mentioned in my last post so I will not be reading for my upcoming book club. Instead, I’ll likely read My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It feels good to knock some of my own books off my TBR, especially as I build it up while traveling.


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: Empire Falls by Richard Russo (4/5)

22 Aug

Way back in 2013, I had a Page-a-Day Book calendar. I got a huge number of recommendations from that thing and it kick-started by Goodreads TBR and is very responsible for how long the thing now is. This title was one of those recommendations and part of me wishes I still had it so I could read the blurb that convinced me to add it to my TBR and later buy it from a used book store. Thanks to my readers who picked it on WWW Wednesday as my next book!

Cover Image via Goodreads

Empire Falls by Richard Russo

Summary from Goodreads:

Dexter County, Maine, and specifically the town of Empire Falls, has seen better days, and for decades, in fact, only a succession from bad to worse. One by one, its logging and textile enterprises have gone belly-up, and the once vast holdings of the Whiting clan (presided over by the last scion’s widow) now mostly amount to decrepit real estate. The working classes, meanwhile, continue to eke out whatever meager promise isn’t already boarded up.

Miles Roby gazes over this ruined kingdom from the Empire Grill, an opportunity of his youth that has become the albatross of his daily and future life. Called back from college and set to work by family obligations—his mother ailing, his father a loose cannon—Miles never left home again. Even so, his own obligations are manifold: a pending divorce; a troubled younger brother; and, not least, a peculiar partnership in the failing grill with none other than Mrs. Whiting. All of these, though, are offset by his daughter, Tick, whom he guides gently and proudly through the tribulations of adolescence.

A decent man encircled by history and dreams, by echoing churches and abandoned mills, by the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors, Miles is also a patient, knowing guide to the rich, hardscrabble nature of Empire Falls: fathers and sons and daughters, living and dead, rich and poor alike. Shot through with the mysteries of generations and the shattering visitations of the nation at large, it is a social novel of panoramic ambition, yet at the same time achingly personal. In the end, Empire Falls reveals our worst and best instincts, both our most appalling nightmares and our simplest hopes, with all the vision, grace and humanity of truly epic storytelling.

In a rough sense, this book reminded me of The Casual Vacancy. The story is about a whole town and the people have their own stories and their own quirks. The difference here is how much each story overlapped with the others. For example, Otto overlapped with Tick and Miles. I liked that there was a true focus on the Roby family which gave me a rallying point and helped me ignore plotlines that would turn out to be unimportant. I thought it was very well done.

I liked the depiction of small-town life. Janine was particularly despicable which made her fun. I loved hating her and Walt. I adored Tick and her struggles and how she dealt with them. They were each well developed and very different which is important and refreshing in a novel of this structure. I liked that we saw a lot of different backgrounds and ages in the book and got to see the problems they had individually and as a group.

Tick was my favorite. I liked her sass and I understood where it came from. She obviously blamed her mother for the divorce and for expelling her beloved father from her life. Honestly, how could you not blame Jenine? I didn’t think she redeemed herself and I don’t think she ever will. Tick tried to avoid the problems, a very appropriate response given her age and I liked that Russo didn’t try to make her feel older than she was.

I think Tick’s story was really relatable and that was part of why I enjoyed it. I haven’t been a parent, drunkard, or grandparent so the other narrating characters were less relatable to me. I wasn’t a popular kid in high school, either. Somehow, I landed a cute boyfriend who was condescending and rude. It was oddly parallel and I’m glad Tick was strong and made new friends, even trying to reach out to someone who needed help. Her heart was in the right place.

Richard Russo
Image from Authors Guild

I know this is terrible, but reading Jenine and Walt’s marriage fall apart was oddly satisfying. I disliked her character so much that seeing her find out how he was being untruthful about his age and money was great. He was good in bed, but that was about it. Jenine was so quick to judge everyone that it backfired on her.

The ending bothered me a bit so I want to talk about it. Skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers. A lot went into building up John Voss as an outsider but the ending seemed too predictable. I would have liked to see Tick get into his head, his world, a little bit more before he fell apart. It seems like he had some kind of break but we don’t see it and it’s hard to imagine how it was triggered without knowing him better. He’s one character I would have liked to get into a bit more.

More spoilers here! This book was published in 2001, two years after the Columbine High School shootings. I feel fairly sure that Russo was thinking about that tragedy when he was writing this book. How could someone in a small town become so angry that they would do something so violent? We’re lead through a world where John Voss becomes that person. It’s scary to see it happen and it makes it obvious how small actions can lead to someone choosing that path.

Writer’s Takeaway: On the surface, this seems like a book that would have too many characters but Russo handles them well. We really focused on the Whitings, Mintys, and Robys. Of course, other characters come into play, but always in a way that links them between these major characters. This helped the book maintain focus while telling a story about a town and not a person. I think this is a hard balance to strike and Russo does an amazing job.

I enjoyed the book and the characters a lot. I’d read another Russo book to be sure. 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:
Richard Russo- Empire Falls | The Pulitzer Project
Empire Falls by Richard Russo | Book Club Mom
Empire Falls | Just Browsing

Book Review: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum (3/5)

21 Aug

I heard a lot about this book when it was first released but hadn’t been too tempted. But, when you see a book for $1 on the library sale shelf after it was withdrawn from circulation, you buy it. And when it’s been far too long that it’s. Even on your shelf and you need a new audiobook, you download it and listen to it while you run, craft, and cook.

Cover Image via Goodreads

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Summary from Goodreads:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette meets Beautiful Ruins in this reverse love story set in Paris and London about a failed monogamist’s attempts to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne -when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

I thought this book would be more upbeat than it was, to be honest. The title made me think someone would be having fun, though I don’t know who I thought it would be. This is another case of me not reading the back of a book and being blown away by the plot. I wanted to hate Richard, but it was hard to. Yes, he was a cheater, but he tried to reform and had a hard time doing so because of other circumstances. I wanted to like Anne, but she was very cold and removed. It was hard to feel for anyone except Cam.

I’m fortunate to say I’ve never been in a relationship where there was cheating. For that reason, it’s hard for me to say if I would have acted like Richard or Anne. I can’t say if I would have wanted to separate or wanted to get back together or ever forgiven my partner. I’ve heard of relationships going any number of ways after such a tragedy so the way Anne and Richard handled their troubles seems plausible.

I did grow to like Richard despite my initial dislike for him as a cheater. He admitted to his mistake, did what he wife wanted and needed, even when it wasn’t what he wanted, and tried to keep his daughter’s well-being the focus of the decisions he made. He’s just lucky Anne did the same things. I wanted Anne to take him back the whole time. The ups and downs were hard to bear.

I related most to Richard’s parents in a way. My own parents are stupidly over-the-moon in love after 30+ years of marriage. I can’t say I related to Richard as a whole, but when it came to seeing his parent’s routines, small foibles, and love for each other, I related to that. It’s so great to see times when a marriage works. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking to see it when one is in the process of coming apart.

I could relate to the comfort Richard found at home. I had a time in my life when I was at a bad job and spending the night at my parents’ house made everything better. I was able to put things in perspective and easily slip into a routine I had abandoned when I moved out. It was comforting and, I believe a song says, you can always go home (or something like that).

Courtney Maum
Image via Twitter

I liked reading about Richard’s art. That was a unique part of the book and it was fun to read about something so different. His installment and the ways the art world worked were new to me and I learned a lot about them. I didn’t think an installment like Richard’s is something that would sell, I thought it was a performance piece and nothing more could be done once performed.

I disliked hearing about the affair and how it started. It wasn’t the focus of the book and Richard’s detail about starting up with Lisa is part of what made me dislike him when I was trying so hard to like him. I wish it had been left out or at least less detailed.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Sam Deveraux. Since the author has a female name, I made the (wrong) assumption that the narrator would be female so I was initially put off by the male voice. I quickly adjusted and ended up having no problem at all. Deveraux did a good job and I’m glad they picked a reader with a British accent who could speak French, much like Richard. It gave a strong sense of Richard reading the book. His French accent for French characters was really fun, too.

Every marriage is different and I think that point was well displayed in this book. Richard and Anne received a lot of advice about how to overcome their problems and everyone had a different story and a different way of dealing with it. None of it worked for them and they had to find their own way. I liked that they didn’t try to be another couple, they did what would work for them.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m glad Maum wrote from a male point of view. It’s not very common to write from another gender’s point of view. I always notice when I find a book that fits this bill. I wrote a short story from a male point of view and it threw my mom for a loop! I only wish I could weigh in on if Maum did this well. Are there any men out there who have read this one who can weigh in? I thought it was good, but I don’t know what it feels like to be a man.

I enjoyed this book though the dark subject wasn’t what I really wanted while on vacation! Three out of Five Stars.

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!

Related Posts:
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You | Feminist Texican Reads
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum (5 out of 5) | generationgbooks
Book Review: Courtney Maum’s I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You | The Military Spouse Book Review
Author Courtney Maum’s Road to Publication | The Writers’ Loop

On Vacation Again!

17 Aug

I’m happy to say I’m on vacation again! I’ll be back next week but I left Tuesday night so I’m skipping today’s post. I’ll be exploring the streets of New Orleans!

If you’re from New Orleans, let me know some local places to hit up. I’ll be at a conference for most of this trip but I’ll try to sneak away. I plan to hit up at least one bookstore, too. Look forward to that.

Hello from the Big Easy and I’ll see you all next week.

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, 16-August-2017

16 Aug

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.


**So, it’s worth noting that I am AGAIN out-of-town and writing this quite in advance. Hey, it’s the summer and I’m going to take my vacation while I can! I may be a bit slow in responding but I am around and in the country this time. Send me some love while I explore NEW ORLEANS! I’m going to try to hit up a few bookstores here to report back.

Currently reading: Moderate progress on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. Probably some of my best progress in months, actually. It’s nice having time to read during lunch again! I think I’m about 2/3 of the way through and I’ll keep pushing forward.
New books for this list! The first is a new audiobook, The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer. Before I met Meltzer a few years back, I was at a church used book sale and picked up a few of his books, including this one. I’m listening to the audio to get to it sooner than I would my paper copy. So far, he’s delivering on the fast-paced thriller!
I also got to start Chemistry by Weike Wang! I’m really hoping to do an author interview with this book as I knew Wang in high school. If you want to read more about that, check out this post.

Recently finishedI finished I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum while cooking last Wednesday and I’ve been waiting a week to tell you all. I enjoyed it, but not for the reasons I expected to. It was sad but I could have known that if I read book summaries. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished
 Empire Falls by Richard Russo on Friday. I knew this book was going to come to a quick end and I kind-of saw it coming, but I still gasped out loud near the end! I think I woke my husband up from his nap. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars. I also plan to have this review up next week.

Many of you have commented on it, but I posted a review of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett last Thursday. Please go check it out if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: As of writing, I think my next book will still be The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This might change just before I leave on my trip, though! I got invited to a conference that would interfere with me attending the book club meeting on this book. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ll skip the book if I can’t make the meeting and read something off my TBR instead. If that’s the case, I’ll probably pick My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It’s at the top of my TBR books that I own. Or I might grab something from the library before I leave. I’ll have to report back next week.


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!