Archive | February, 2018

WWW Wednesday, 7-February-2018

7 Feb

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?

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Currently reading: I feel like I can say I made good progress with A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I didn’t drive as much this week as I did the week before but I had one or two longer trips where I got through a disk. I hope to finish this up in the next two weeks, I’ve really liked it!
Progress has slowed a bit on Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. School is starting up and that’s meaning a lot of nights where I’m too tired to read before bed! It’s a sad situation for me, but a reality some times. I’ll keep pressing forward as I always want to finish one book in Spanish each year and I’m committed now that I’m over 200 pages in.
I’ve gotten through about a third of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. It’s slow-moving but it has a lot to say about human nature that I’m enjoying. The characters are so realistic that I can almost re-name them to be friends from my childhood!
I haven’t made much headway in The Circle by Dave Eggers. Lunch at work has been cut short a lot so I’ve only gotten through a few pages each day. I think I’m (embarrassingly) still on chapter 1!

Recently finished: No surprise that I didn’t finish anything this week. I’m not sure I’ll have anything here next week either. I did manage to write a review of The Color Purple that went up on Monday so please check that out! I’ll be posting my book-to-film review tomorrow so get ready for that!

Reading Next: My plan is still to read Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire after I finish Irving. I’ll need a refresher on what happened in Wicked before I do. I remember the book and the musical being very different, but not much more than that.


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: Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin

6 Feb

I feel like it’s been forever since I went to a book club meeting but I realize it really hasn’t been that long. The holidays always make things seem longer than they are. Our last meeting was to talk about Please Look After Mom by Kyung-Sook Shin.

We had some background information on the book and author from our discussion leader. This is Shin’s first novel. She started writing short stories and published her first novella at age 22. Her husband is a poet, literary critic, and professor. Shin is the fourth child and oldest daughter of six children. She, much like Chi-hon, moved to Seoul at age 16 to live with her eldest brother.

Shin obviously had a very strong understanding of human relationships and interactions. The characters all had distinct and different reactions to their mom’s disappearance and the way they dealt with one another was well written. The style she chose, writing in 2nd person, was very off-putting when we started reading. Some readers said they got used to it quickly, others over some time. Many of us got so used to it that we didn’t realize the father’s section was written in 2nd person after acclimating to it in Chi-hon’s section.

Some of us saw Mom as a saint while others viewed her as a martyr. She was a good mother, but at a cost to herself that seemed almost unhealthy. We wondered if her headaches were because of a brain tumor if it’s not the commonly speculated Alzheimer’s. We thought it was interesting that she was most like her youngest daughter, the stay-at-home mother. There was a beautiful moment when the daughter is describing for her mother how the food in the kitchen is prepared for the kids, very reminiscent of mom in the kitchen for much of her life.

Food kept appearing in the book at many critical moments. It was a family gathering point, especially for a family that didn’t have much. Food was important to the family when they were growing up poor, not always having the food they needed to eat. It had a bigger meaning in their lives than it has in mine or my fellow readers.

I had the unpopular opinion of not liking the section mom narrated. She kept appearing as a bird, which I found odd. The daughter’s children eventually buried the bird, but it didn’t seem to give mom closure. We continued to learn more about her life, things no one would ever learn about her, as she watched and commented on the world after she disappeared.

We questioned if the children ever accepted their mother’s death. It seemed that Hyung-chol had, and Chi-hon criticized him for going golfing, for doing something with his time other than looking for her. It seems like Chi-hon accepted her death at the end of the book, asking the Virgin to look after her mother the way she looks after her son in death in the Pieta statue.

The next selection is one I’ve read already so I’m going to be picking my own books for a while now. Honestly, it’s a bit of a relief! I get to work on bringing down Mt. TBR!

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 Color Purple by Alice Walker (4/5)

5 Feb

I forget who recommended this to me. I’ve felt for a while like I should have read an Alice Walker book already and a little shocked that I hadn’t and if I was going to read one of her books, it should be this one. I was glad to find an ebook copy that I could check out over and over while I read it slowly. It’s always a treasure for me when I’m able to do this.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Summary from Goodreads:

Set in the deep American South between the wars, it is the tale of Celie, a young black girl born into poverty and segregation. Raped repeatedly by the man she calls ‘father’, she has two children taken away from her, is separated from her beloved sister Nettie and is trapped into an ugly marriage. But then she meets the glamorous Shug Avery, singer and magic-maker – a woman who has taken charge of her own destiny. Gradually, Celie discovers the power and joy of her own spirit, freeing her from her past and reuniting her with those she loves.

Gosh, this book was sad! It cheered up in parts, but overall, I found myself feeling bad for Celie and Nettie and every other character in it. It felt like no one had any luck at all and I wished I could have helped them in some way. I enjoyed Nettie’s story when it came into play and I found her fascinating. Her life was so different from Celie’s that it was almost unimaginable. I was so absorbed in Celie’s world that hearing about living with an African tribe seemed as foreign to me as it must have to Celie.

The characters jumped off the page to me. I believed them wholeheartedly which made it even harder to accept their bad luck and bad circumstances. I did find I had some trouble keeping the grandchildren’s generation straight. I couldn’t remember who was related to who or living with who and I stopped trying by the end. It felt like a big happy family and I think that’s what Celie was able to create.

Nettie was so easy to love. She fostered such a strong love for her sister and cared for her niece and nephew a great deal. I’m not sure if my aunts would find me adopted by another couple and volunteer to serve as a missionary in rural Africa for years just to keep an eye on me! I thought it was amazing that Nettie would make so many sacrifices for her family and she won my heart in doing so.

Sofia was the rebellious voice I think exists inside all of us. She said what she thought when she wanted to and it got her in trouble. There have been many times I wanted to say something but had to bite my tongue so I didn’t suffer the consequences like Sofia did.

Alice Walker
Image via Chartwell Speakers

Shug’s plotline was the most interesting to me. I had trouble imagining a woman like her who was so loved by so many people. She seemed too good to be true. Hearing about her relationship with Celie and how it developed was very rewarding because it was the beginning of Celie’s happiness and I started to finally think that the book could have a happy ending.

This is a bit of a spoiler, but I have to share my least favorite part. Skip this if you don’t want it ruined. Thinking Nettie had died almost broke my heart! I was so sad that Walker included that, especially when it turned out not to be true. I think I cried at work when I read it. It reminded me how poor communication was before telephones and I was just shocked that Celie could get news like that, not have it substantiated, and keep hoping that Nettie was alive. It crushed me a bit, though.

Celie had to deal with a lot. The book started when she was very young and carried her through much of her life. All the terrible things that happened to her were not compacted but rather took place again and again as she grew up. She had to keep her faith. At first, it was writing her prayers. Later, it was focusing on her sister and how much she loved her. Celie’s style of writing and communicating with those she loved kept her going even when everything seemed to be against her. This book is a triumph of the human spirit.

Writer’s Takeaway: The letter or diary style was a great way to write this book. It made Celie approachable and relatable. It allowed Walker to use her dialect and contrasted it well with Nettie’s. It also let Celie talk about intimate things in her relationship with Shug that she might not have discussed in another medium. This style is great for getting to know a character intimately.

I enjoyed the story and learned a lot about life in the time period, something I always hope for in historical fiction. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1900-1919 time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge. Per SparkNotes, the early chapters took place during the 1910s so I’ll take it.

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
Alice Walker’s The Color Purple | Lambeth Library
Alice Walker: The Color Purple | C.C.
The Color Purple by Alice Walker | Project Pulitzer
Themes in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple | Culture, Literature, and Me
Alice Walker: The Color Purple (1983) | Books, Bikes, Food

Challenge Update, January 2018

1 Feb

Well, January is starting off stronger than I expected. That’s good because the rest of my year is looking very busy! I’m going to remain hopeful that I can finish the goals I set for myself but I might be playing catch up in December. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in January:

The Marriage Plot // Jeffrey Eugenides (4/5)
Please Look After Mom // Kyung-Sook Shin (3/5)
How to Win Friends and Influence People // Dale Carnegie (3/5)
The Elements of Style // William Strunk Jr. (4/5)
The Color Purple // Alice Walker (4/5)

I’ll have my review of Purple up early next week and then I’ll be completely caught up! I like this feeling.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

4/12
This is a strong start for me! I’m very pleased with it. All of my books except The Elements of Style were put in a time period. I could have stretched it a bit and included that one, but it didn’t feel as if it belonged in a specific time period as much as the others did. It’s great to have a few of these checked off already!

Goodreads Challenge

5/55
Starting off one book ahead of schedule! I’m feeling good but I know I’m going to have to keep pushing myself to maintain this pace and finish 55 books this year. It’s a stretch goal for myself and I’m a bit nervous about accomplishing it.

Book of the Month

I’m going to have to pick The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides this month. The book started slow but ended up being really fun for me to read. I’m excited to get to another Eugenides novel, possibly this year!

Added to my TBR

Are you ready for some crazy news? Not only am I down to 101 (I can hardly believe it) but I didn’t add any books to my shelf this month! I know, I’m probably living under a rock to be able to accomplish that, but I’m super excited. Getting below 100 seems so much more viable now.

Personal Challenge

I used these monthly posts to keep myself accountable to my personal goals for 2017 and I’m excited to do that again this year. You all were so supportive before.

  • Graduate and keep my 4.0- We’ll see. I start my first class on Monday and I’m a bit intimidated by it so far. Has anyone ever heard of an online class where you have to take the quizzes during a set 90 minutes on Thursday nights? This seems unreasonable to me in an online class!
  • Travel to Europe with my husband- We’re getting there! I have a place to stay in Amsterdam and I’m hoping to meet up with a friend in Scandinavia so travel plans are still in the works here.
  • Complete a race per month- I did the Lifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon again, the second year in a row. I didn’t swim as far this year but I did place well! I was third in my age category (women 39 and under) and fifth amongst all women. I’ve got to get myself running faster to get a better place next year, haha.
  • Complete a 2018 Weather Blanket- I’ve started and got through the first two weeks of January. I’ve set it aside to work on a baby blanket but I plan to get back to it and catch up again as soon as that’s over.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2018, it’s fun!

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!