Archive | September, 2017

‘Still Life’ Movie Review

26 Sep

Movie Poster via Amazon

I had no idea Still Life by Louise Penny had been made into a movie while I was reading it. After I write a review, I always look at others’ reviews and see if I was alone or in the majority with my opinions. That’s when I read that there was a CBC movie from the book and luckily it was available for streaming on Hoopla through my library. It made for a nice night over the weekend while my husband was out-of-town.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Seeing Jane’s house. It was as beautiful as I thought it would be. Seeing all those images on the wall, all her friends, family, and the people she loved all together and living around her made the home feel so welcoming and lovely. I only wish more of it had been shown as the book described it as the entire living room and second floor of the house.

Jean-Guy Beauvoir. Maybe I missed the part in the book where he was young and super cute or maybe that was a movie add. Either way, it was a nice touch. The actor looked really familiar and I guess I’m remembering him from White House Down because I haven’t seen any of the other movies or shows Anthony Lemke has been in.

 

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Taking out Jane’s romance. Her romance with Andreas was a nice story but it was a red herring and seemed to serve only to cast Ruth into a bad light. As an older woman, I had never considered her the one to shoot a hunting arrow through a friend mostly because she likely lacked the strength to do it. I was fine with this receiving a few lines of dialogue but not coming to much in the end.

Clara and Peter’s art. Art was such a big part of the plot in this story so not going more into Clara and Peter’s art and financial struggles made it unclear why Clara was so involved in the art show and why having money left to her by Jane would be so important. I think it’s something little that could have been added.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Nichol’s backstory. Without the head jumping that the book was able to do, it was hard to get into Nichol’s head and really understand where she was coming from with her rude comments and haughty attitude. Knowing a little about her family, their desire to see her rise, helped frame her terrible attitude a lot better.

Things That Changed Too Much

Clara and Ben’s relationship. This was a bit much for me. Knowing Clara and Ben had a romantic relationship really changes how you feel about him at the end. He was greedy enough to kill someone he loved twice (his mother and Clara) to keep his inheritance safe. This also drastically changed the relationship between Peter and Clara at the end of the story.

Overall, I thought this was very nicely done. There wasn’t too much changed between the book and the film which was refreshing after so many altered movies lately. It seems there has not been another book in the series made into a movie. I wonder if this one didn’t do well or if maybe there are some in the works. Reader, have you seen the Still Life movie? What did you think?

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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Writers Group: The Hook

25 Sep

My fellow group of writers met last week for our monthly meeting. I was so glad to go because I’ve been forced to miss meetings for one reason or another the past two months and I’m glad we are back at it! Our topic this month was the hook, the first sentence (or paragraph) of the story that draws the reader into the book.

We looked at two writing coaches and their advice on the hook. K.M Weiland suggests that there are five elements.

  1. It asks an inherent question. This may be explicit or, more likely, implicit. It should make the writer wonder. The reader should be left wondering ‘Why?’
  2. Introduce a character. One is ideal, but sometimes more. Sometimes a name is given, other times it’s more general.
  3. Provide a sense of setting. This helps place the story in the reader’s mind and makes the first scene more interesting.
  4. Establish a voice. This may take more than one sentence to develop, but it can be done in a single sentence. This is more important in first person narration but is necessary for other POVs as well.
  5. Make a sweeping declaration. Some will say never to do this, but if done well, it can be great.

Some say you need to pack this into one sentence, others that you have a paragraph or page or chapter to do it. It depends on your audience and genre as well.

The other coach we looked to for advice was Suzannah Windsor Freeman. There were a few ‘don’ts’ she provided.

  • No dialogue. The reader doesn’t know who’s talking or what is being talked about.
  • Avoid excessive description.
  • Avoid irrelevant information.
  • Don’t introduce too many characters. Each one will not be memorable.

Freeman has six ways to hook a reader and some of them are similar to Weiland’s.

  1. Make the reader wonder.
  2. Begin at a pivotal moment.
  3. Create an interesting picture.
  4. Introduce and intriguing character.
  5. Start in an unusual situation.
  6. Begin with a compelling narrative voice.

Some other advice included asking questions as the story goes along, but not answering all questions before asking more. This builds tension and plot. All questions should be answered by the end of the story.

We spent the remainder of our time looking at famous first lines and seeing how they covered these elements. We also looked at the books we were currently reading to see if they fit the mold. I really liked this exercise and it has me feeling good about my opening line.

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: Still Life by Louise Penny (4/5)

21 Sep

I’ve been away from my book clubs a lot. It’s nice to have a book to read again. I wasn’t as excited about this one as I have been for others. I’m not much for mysteries and I’d just started one on my own. I’m curious how we’ll discuss the book still.

Cover image via Goodreads

Still Life (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny

Summary from Goodreads:

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montréal and yet a world away. Jane Neal, a long-time resident of Three Pines, has been found dead in the woods. The locals are certain it’s a tragic hunting accident and nothing more but Gamache smells something foul this holiday season…and is soon certain that Jane died at the hands of someone much more sinister than a careless bowhunter.

There were parts of this book I liked and parts I really disliked. I think a lot of effort went into building Gamache, Nichol, and Beauvior for future installments. I’m still iffy on if I’d read more in this series so a lot of that was lost on me, but I can understand why an author would do it. The mystery was fun with some good twists and turns. It was interesting to read it along the other one I was going through because it made it obvious how much better this book was.

Penny built some great characters. It’s sad to think the community of Three Pines was put together just for this book. I would hope they’d keep showing up in future Gamache stories with how well-developed they were. Nichol was one of the least developed but most interesting to me. I think she’ll develop a lot in future books. I only wish we’d gotten to see more of it in this one. It was hard for me not to picture Gamache like the Poirot played on the BBC show. It was a perfect match in my head!

I usually try to avoid picking the main character as my favorite character, but in this case, Gamache is the obvious choice. He was very honorable and very smart. I understood why he was mad at Nichol and I got mad at her, too. I understood why he liked Clara and why he became involved in Three Pines and I wanted to be involved and get to know everyone, too. He was a good narrator for this book and I’m glad that, despite the head hopping, the story usually returned to him.

Nichol reminded me of myself at my first job. I was not good at it and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out how to do it better! My supervisor would get mad and I’d follow his instructions on how to perform my job better but it was never enough. I’d like to think I’m a bit more self-aware than Nichol because I didn’t blame my problem elsewhere or try to make bad jokes but I understood how frustrated she felt. It’s infuriating.

Louise Penny Author picture via Time

I liked the reveal of Jane’s home. I thought that was a great point and a wonderful way of solving the murder. It was very visual but Penny wrote it well and I could see the home. I wish I could walk inside it, it sounds like a wonder.

Nichol seemed like a lazy add-on to this book, looking at it as only one book in a series. I’m sure she’ll become a more major player later but her introduction seemed unimportant to the plot. I was also not a fan of the head-jumping narration style. Especially listening to it, I was confused.

My audiobook was narrated by Ralph Cosham. I think he did a great job, though the British accent on Canadian characters seemed odd to me. I’ve listened to Cosham before with Animal Farm and The Screwtape Letters and I always enjoy his reading. I had a bit of trouble distinguishing between his voices but other than that, I enjoyed it immensely.

It’s hard to point to a theme in this book. Genre doesn’t always lend itself well to that. The closest I can think of is Gamache’s lessons to Nichol. She failed to listen, to observe what was around her. It would do her well to look past her vanity and see what others were feeling and thinking. It’s a skill she’ll have to perfect if she’s going to excel in her career at all!

Writer’s Takeaway: One thing that could have been better was developing Nichol. I’m intrigued and I want to know more about her, but I wish more had come out in this book. With how things were left, I’m wondering if she’ll be a part of the next book and I’d be very disappointed if she was not. I was also a bit put off by the head-hopping. It was better than I’ve seen it done elsewhere, but still a bit off-putting.

I liked the book but I’m unsure if I’ll read more in the series. Cozy mysteries are just not my cup of tea. 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:
Still Life by Louise Penny | the redheaded reader
Still Live by Louise Penny | In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel

WWW Wednesday, 20-September-2017

20 Sep

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: Armada by Ernest Cline is going really fast for me. I’m making time to read it a lot because I enjoy it so much. It seems a bit like Ender’s Game mixed with War Games so far. I hope he makes something else happen so it will stand out more.
I decided to go another direction with my next book and I started reading Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. It’s a book I own that’s autographed, which means I don’t like to take it out of the house unless I absolutely have to. I think I’m going to be home mostly in the next few weeks so that won’t be an issue. Plus side, it’s set in the future! Yay for finding books to finish up my challenge.
I did start The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory though on audio instead of a physical book. I’m still too early to really give an opinion on it but my long runs are sure to get me through it fast!

Recently finishedI was able to finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson last week and got my post up on Monday! It feels good to finish a book and even better when I didn’t like the book and I’m finally through with it. I gave the book 2 out of 5 Stars.
I was able to finish Still Life by Louise Penny sooner than expected. I guess my long runs are paying off! I’ll have a post up about it tomorrow. In summary, I enjoyed this a lot more as it went on. It started off a little slow for me but the twists and turns had me itching to figure out the killer before the end! This will be a very different discussion for my book club, I wonder what kind of questions we can ask about a mystery compared to some more traditional literature.

My review for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz went up last Thursday. I really enjoyed this book. Please go check out my review. I know a number of you had read it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Oscar.

Reading Next: With how early on I am in my books, I haven’t really thought this through yet. I do need to read Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks. This will hit my final time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge and I’ll be done! That’s likely to come next on audio. We’ll see about other formats.


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!

Bookish News: Bad Fanfiction

19 Sep

I went searching for some bookish news to share with you all and I didn’t expect Harry Potter FanFiction to show up in the headlines! It seems the author of the HP fic My Immortal finally came forward and revealed her identity [Guardian article]. It seems the story follows an American female with awesome clothes who comes to Hogwarts and dates Draco Malfoy. So, pretty much, my childhood dream.

The issues people have with the story are the lack of plot, bad internet spelling, and Mary Sue character. When author Rose Christo revealed that she was the writer behind the story, reactions were mixed. It seems Christo has several well-received series though I’ve never read any of her work. For me, and I imagine many other FanFiction writers, fic was a way to try writing. You didn’t have to develop characters or setting, just start with something you already knew and work on the plot. Some did develop new characters or change settings, but it gave you a place to start from. The article mentions that Christo would have been around 16 when the story was written. I know I have some stories from a younger age than that on my FFN account that I’m not proud of. Writing something bad is part of the path to writing something good.

I say kudos to Christo for coming out and admitting she was the writer. I think it’s a testament to how far she’s come as a writer and shows how much her writing has developed and, I hope, how much writing My Immortal helped her on her way to becoming a good writer.

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson (2/5)

18 Sep

A woman in my book club recommended this book to me a few years ago. I trusted her opinion in books so I put it on my Goodreads TBR and am only now getting around to it. Unfortunately, it was not a book for me. I’ll explain why.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Detroit Electric Scheme (Will Anderson #1) by D.E. Johnson

Summary from Goodreads:

Will Anderson is a drunk, heartbroken over the breakup with his fiancée, Elizabeth. He’s barely kept his job at his father’s company—Detroit Electric, 1910’s leading electric automobile manufacturer. Late one night, Elizabeth’s new fiancé and Will’s one-time friend, John Cooper, asks Will to meet him at the car factory. He finds Cooper dead, crushed in a huge hydraulic roof press. Surprised by the police, Will panics and runs, leaving behind his cap and automobile, and buries his blood-spattered clothing in a garbage can.

What follows is a fast-paced, detail-filled ride through early-1900s Detroit, involving murder, blackmail, organized crime, the development of a wonderful friendship, and the inside story on early electric automobiles. Through it all, Will learns that clearing himself of the crime he was framed for is only the beginning. To survive, and for his loved ones to survive, he must also become a man.

I think I am so critical of this book because it’s a genre I love, historical fiction. And I really love when historical fiction is done well. I did not think that was the case with this book. I felt the historical setting was too detailed; it started to detract from the story. Descriptions of ads for items that were new then and common now, repeated use of the streetcars, and emphasis on inflation were rampant in this story. It got old fast. As a historical fiction writer, there’s a lot of research you do into the time period that never makes it to the page. Johnson seemed eager to cram as much of his research as possible into this book. I also had a lot of problems with characterization. The reader is supposed to love Elizabeth and there’s no good reason. We’re also supposed to believe Wesley is as well-meaning and friendly as he appears but he has no motivation to do so. Will comes off as a bad judge of character and the ending emphasizes the point.

I didn’t believe any of the characters. I’m sure the historical characters (the Dodge brothers, Edsel Ford, Adamo, etc.) were based in recounts of their personalities, but the side characters like John, Judge Hume, Elizabeth, Wesley, and Sapphira were flat. I didn’t like any of them and that was a problem with Wesley and Elizabeth, who I should have liked. Wesley was far too eager to be friends with Will despite Will treating him poorly in the beginning. Wesley seemed to have a death wish with how often he got involved in Will’s schemes which ended with one or both of them injured each time. I honestly don’t know how there can be three more books in this series with how physically damaged Will must be. Elizabeth had no redeeming qualities and was needy beyond reason. The only positive thing about her character is that she used to write Will little love notes. That’s all we get. It wasn’t enough for me.

I can’t say I liked any of the characters. Their decisions seemed illogical and I couldn’t sympathize with any of them. The only time I felt something was when I was squeamish during gory scenes. That’s about it.

D.E. Johnson
Image via The Big Thrill

The one redeeming thing about this book is that it kept moving. There was a lot of action and it kept me coming back to it, even when I wanted to put it down. It went by quickly.

I felt a lot of parts of this book were unnecessary and it became tiresome. Sapphira, some of the times Will was in jail, and most of Elizabeth’s story were unnecessary. I would have liked to see the plot streamlined and the characters better flushed out.

 

Mysteries are not normally books with strong themes and I think this one falls into that norm. Besides rich people having problems like the rest of us, there’s not much of a moral message in Will’s story. I guess not being an alcoholic is a bit of advice.

Writer’s Takeaway: Reading this book has made me very aware of how much I stress the historical setting in my book. While it should be obvious, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. Things that are time-period-specific may need some explanation, but a lot of things haven’t changed as much as we think. I’ll need to trust my reader to figure a few things out without beating them over the head with it.

This book fell really flat for me. 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:
Friday First Lines (Volume 4) | Books on the Brain

Book Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (4/5)

14 Sep

This was a title that I grabbed by chance at a used book sale. I’d heard of it so chances are it would be good, right? As it turns out, yes. And the reason I’d heard of it was that it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Sometimes I need to trust my snap decisions more!

Cover image via Goodreads

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Summary from Goodreads:

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukú-the curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

I went into this book blind and it was a great way to do it. I had no idea what to expect of the book and wasn’t even aware it had won the Pulitzer until later. I picked it at the time because it was available on Overdrive without a hold. I was blown away. I really cared about Oscar, Lola, and Beli and I loved the voice Díaz wrote with. I’m really tempted to read more of his books but I’ll save that for a summer full of bad books when I need a pick-me-up.

Lola was the most realistic character to me. Everyone else seemed to have something a bit unbelievable about them, but Lola seemed like someone I might have known in high school. I loved the way she showed she cared about her brother even when she was fighting with her mother. I thought she was really fierce, independent, and brave. I wanted good things for her the entire book.

Beli was the most interesting person in the book. Her background was interesting and revealed at a good pace. She seemed so angry at first and then when you learned about her losses, she was someone I pitied. In the end, I still disliked her only because I sympathized most with Lola and I felt she was a bit overly harsh on Lola compared to Oscar.

Oscar’s nerdy obsessions were very relatable for me. I loved The Lord of the Rings in middle school and always wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have any luck with guys until high school when my friends starting dating in middle school. It felt awful and I can remember my feelings being a lot like Oscar’s in his high school years.

Junot Diaz
Image via NPR

I liked Oscar’s story during college best. Finding out Yunior was the narrator was fun and having Yunior share his life with Oscar was even better. I wanted to be mad at Yunior for how he treated Oscar but I think I would have felt similarly. I felt bad for Oscar when he fell into his depression, to be sure, but I thought his years in college said a lot about him and I enjoyed reading that part.

As much as I liked Beli’s back story, I didn’t like the section of the book focused on her. I don’t think it added as much to Oscar’s story and it seemed like the focus of the book should be on Oscar only because of the title. I would have liked to see a bit more time on him, not just building the characters around him. Sure, the ending might not have been as impactful, but I think Beli’s story could have been at least shortened.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jonathan Davis. I thought Davis was amazing. He did great accents for the characters and he nailed the Spanish sections of the book. La Inca was sassy when she needed to be and Lola yelled when needed. I was worried about a man bringing the right emotion to these female characters but he really nailed it.

I think the wondrous thing about Oscar’s life is how he chose to end it. It’s fairly clear that he knew his actions were going to get him killed in the end. I think the fact he chose to end his life for a prostitute he didn’t know that well says a lot about him. He was very honorable, as much as it pained him at times. And he placed a lot of value on truth and the beauty of life. No one else in his life seemed to understand this.

Writer’s Takeaway: Flipping through my copy, it seems Díaz was with formatting. I could sense this a little in listening to it. It seemed there were some sudden jumps and it was a little hard to follow how the sections were broken up. Looking at it now, the lack of quotation marks probably would have driven me crazy. Some readers might have been deterred because of the style, even if the story is amazing.

I really enjoyed this book and I completely understand why it earned the accolades it did. 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:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Zeitgeist Reviews

WWW Wednesday, 13-September-2017

13 Sep

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 think I’ll finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson tonight. I’m so close to the end. I honestly can’t wait for it to be over, I’m not a big fan of this book.
I started listening to Still Life by Louise Penny on audio on Friday. The first chapter was a lot of flashbacks and I couldn’t get into it. The second chapter is focusing more on the murder and it’s holding my attention a lot more. I think I’ll start to like it as long as it stays in this timeline.
I started the ebook of Armada by Ernest Cline. To be honest, I thought this one would be set in the future and would fulfill that time period for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I was slightly disappointed to find out it’s set in modern times, but I’m going to read it anyway. Cline won me over with Ready Player One so I’m excited to see what else he’s thought up. Any recommendations for a book set in the future?

Recently finishedI finally finished Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. The book was really good and how long it took me to read should be no reflection on the quality of the book! I posted my review yesterday so please go check that out. I gave the book 4 out of 5 Stars.
I got through The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz faster than I thought. It turns out the audiobook I borrowed had two Diaz books on it. I only listened to Oscar and then returned it, I was too anxious to get to my next title! I’ll have a review of it up tomorrow.

Reading Next: My next physical book will be The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory. I debated doing this one on audiobook but I think it will be nice to have this one physically in my hand. I do love a good Gregory book when I have the time.


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: Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi (4/5)

12 Sep

I love circus books. Goodreads recommended this one to me and I was really excited that my library had it as an ebook. It took me four months to read it only because I read it slowly, before doctors’ appointments and during some lunch breaks. It wasn’t a long time because I didn’t enjoy the story, just because I was reading it in small snatches. I would say I sped up my reading toward the end, excited to see how it ended and also excited to start something new when I finished.

Cover image via Goodreads

Love in the Elephant Tent: How Running Away with the Circus Brought Me Home by Kathleen Cremonesi

Summary from Goodreads:

Kathleen Cremonesi knew early on she wanted to be different. Determined to avoid following in her mother’s footsteps to an ill-fated marriage, Kathleen left Oregon in her early 20s to travel across Europe. On a whim, this former administrative assistant with wanderlust took a job as a dancer in an Italian circus and, working her way up, became an ostrich-riding, shark-taming showgirl.

Kathleen bonds with the exotic animals that could strike and kill at any moment, but instead bring her a peace she has never known. And when she stumbles into the arms of Stefano, the sexy elephant keeper, she finds a man who understands her wild spirit.

I’m glad I read this one. Kathleen has a unique story and it’s good that she got to share it. I don’t know many people who traveled with an Italian circus where the culture, language, and animals were all foreign. Cremonesi has a great memory and I’m sure her journals served her well in recalling her story. Her love story with Stefano is beautiful and very real. I found myself relating to her relationship struggles though mine never took place with sharks and acrobats around!

I thought Kathleen portrayed herself and Stefano in a very realistic light. They weren’t perfect and Kathleen admitted when she made mistakes. Even though Stefano wasn’t perfect, she still loved him. They weren’t always happy, but they made do. I think these are real parts of a relationship. It would have been unbelievable if she had a whirlwind romance in Italy that never turned sour in any way. I’m glad this book wasn’t that.

I almost never say that the protagonist is my favorite character, but I might say Kathleen was my favorite in this book. She was very relatable despite being very different from me. Her life and mine are 100% different but she captured her emotions very well and made it easy to sympathize with her and feel passion for the things she loved. I rooted for her and wanted only good things for her.

I thought it was realistic that Kathleen and Stefano went through some rough times. He was jealous of her love for her family and she was jealous of his love for the elephants. I can think of things in my relationship that I’m unnaturally jealous of (football and Pokemon Go come to mind). And that can be hard sometimes and to overcome the emotions and difficulties are part of growing up, the way Kathleen and Stefano were eventually able to do.

Kathleen Cremonesi Image via Twitter

I enjoyed Kathleen’s slow acceptance of Italian culture. She focused a lot on her difficulty with the language at first but that slowly faded. Then it was her opinions on food and gender roles. Being bilingual and bicultural are completely different things and I liked how Kathleen explored her struggle with both.

A bit of a spoiler here, so skip this paragraph if you’d like. My least favorite part was when the two were separated and Kathleen had another relationship. Hearing about her emotionless intimacies made me sad and when she thought she was pregnant, my heart almost broke for her and Stefano. It was the only time I was mad at Kathleen.

 

I think a lot of people would assume a fling while touring Europe on a whim could never turn into something serious but Kathleen and Stefano disproved that. Their relationship may have started out as ‘something fun to do while we’re here’ but it turned into something very real and lasting. I think it’s a good message to always be open to love, no matter where you are. Kathleen would have missed out on a lifetime of love if she jumped around Europe looking for a new thrill.

Writer’s Takeaway: Memoirs that cover a time well in the past can sometimes paint a very rosy picture. I know Wild was accused of this. I think the journals Kathleen kept let her memories come back to her very sharply and it kept the reality and uncomfortable moments very vivid in her mind. I appreciated that reality in her book.

A fun memoir (a favorite genre) at a circus (a favorite setting). 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:
Love in The Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonsi – Blog Tour | Minding My Peas
Review and Author Interview: Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi | The Book Binder’s Daughter

Happy 4th Birthday to Taking on a World of Words!

11 Sep

You guys, it’s been four years! Yes, it really has. I’m surprised, too! I wonder how long I’ll keep this up. Thank you for caring what I have to say four years later (even if you haven’t been reading this for that long). You all make blogging fun and that’s why I’m still doing this.

One of my rituals on my blogoversary is to think what my blog would be able to do if it were a child. Blogs are much cheaper and less time consuming, I know, but it’s still fun to think about.

 

  • Learn that behaviors have consequences
  • Make attempts to read and write
  • Learn to write its name
  • Sit through dinner at a restaurant
  • Get dressed with minimal supervision
  • Pump its legs on a swing

One more year until Kindergarten! Maybe I’ll put it in preschool to get a little me-time for a while.

Yet again, here are some numbers to show my blog’s growth over the past year. Numbers are taken from 10-Sep, so five days after my blogoversary. It came on so fast I didn’t have time to celebrate right away.

Wow, you guys! This is a lot of change, more than I expected to see. It’s obvious reviewing a classic like The Tempest brought in a lot of people looking for help with school assignments, haha. It’s also clear that visual media like the Thirteen Reasons Why and Handmaid’s Tale TV shows made a lot of people interested in the books and reviews of them. I’m looking forward to some more releases in the next year that will bring similar readers to my blog. Welcome to those who came through these posts!

Thank you all so much for reading along with my reading adventures. I love sharing a love of books with you all. You make finishing a book even more exciting!

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!