Archive | September, 2019

WWW Wednesday, 11-September-2019

11 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’ll be moving faster through The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory now that I’ve started my new job with a longer commute. I’m actually a little excited to have a bit of time for myself and my audiobook each day. It helps me to calm down or get ready for the day, whichever is needed.
Now for all the updates! I started listening to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab when I went for my ‘last run’ on Friday before my Saturday race. It was just a half-hour but it was enough to get me invested in the story! This one is picking up right where the last left off so it’s all systems go and I’m enjoying that a lot.
Due to availability, I decided to read a physical copy of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. I’m enjoying the mix of anecdote and research so far so I’m excited to see how this one develops.
I decided on a shorter book for my next ebook and picked up When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan. McMullan teaches at my alma mater so it seemed like one I should pick up!

Recently finished: All of the updates! I realized I only had a chapter left in Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min so I finished it up while I was at my parents’ cottage and had time to relax. I’m so glad I’m finally done with this one! I was reading it for far too long.
I was able to wrap up Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian on Thursday morning and I was a little disappointed with the ending. It just could have been a bit more conclusive, it kind of left off with not much closure. My book club just met to talk about it so I’m sure I’ll have more to share about it soon.
I sped through The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie. It was a very short and sweet book and I’m glad I read it, though there wasn’t too much of a story to it. I’ll get into that more in my review. I’m curious to see how a movie and a TV show came out of this small little book!

Two book reviews up as well! I reviewed The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma on Friday. It was a fun read and I really enjoyed it! Four out of Five stars.
I also reviewed An American Marriage by Tayari Jones. My book club already met about this book so there’s more coming on it in the near future. I also gave it Four out of Five stars.

Reading Next: I put in an interlibrary loan request for The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy by Pietra Rivoli. It’s been a while since I read some non-fiction so I think this will be a welcome break. I’m not sure when it will come in but I hope I’m close to finishing Vance when it does!


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

Writing Check In- September

10 Sep

One of my goals for this year was to write more. My husband had the suggestion of making a monthly feature to talk about my writing and how it’s going. It helps keep me honest(ish) and lets you all know when my masterpiece will be released to the world! I’m running a little late this month because of the Labor Day holiday but I’m still here!

I had a much better month! I was lucky to have two weeks scheduled off as I changed jobs and I used it to get a lot of things done around my house, including writing. I finished the next draft! I’m feeling really good about the book now and I think I’m going to try submitting it to an agent and see what happens. So my next steps are getting my query letter, samples, summaries, etc. ready to go. I wish there was a little more consistency in what agents asked for, but it also makes us work for publication, so I understand.

It would be great if I could get going on another project. Being in the editing and submission phase is fun, but I like the process of creating. I have a workbook that is supposed to help you craft a novel and that might be a place to start. I’ve had a few ideas bouncing around for a while, but nothing fully formed and ready to be a novel. Maybe I need to finish a short story first. Or work on getting one I’ve finished published. There are a lot of different ways I could go right now, though having something in process sounds the most fun.

If anyone has any suggestion on how to work on a new piece while keeping up with an old one, I’m all ears. I want to keep writing as a part of my routine but I’m nervous about getting overwhelmed as I head into a new job and a change of my routine.

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: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (4/5)

9 Sep

This was a book club pick that I was excited about. The book had a lot of hype and was part of the Oprah Book Club so it was widely read. As I like it, I knew nothing about the book going on and I think that made the beginning even more intense and thrilling for me. I really enjoyed the ride this story took me on.

Cover image via Goodreads

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Other books by Jones reviewed on this blog:

Silver Sparrow (5/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined.

Yay for short summaries that don’t give away the first plot point! I don’t think I can make the rest of this review as spoiler-free so I apologize. This book took me by surprise. I wasn’t expecting it to involve the desolation of a marriage so soon out of the gate. I wasn’t expecting it to have so many amazing secondary character and I think that’s what really blew me away. I cared deeply about all of the people in this book and what happened to them.

The character’s emotions felt very real to me. They were in a complicated situation and their feelings were equally complicated. You can’t expect a newlywed to feel the same about her marriage after being away from her husband for five years. You can’t expect someone to accept you back into their lives the same way you left them. And you can’t expect parents to understand and approve of every decision you make. The complicated questions this book asked didn’t get easy answers from the characters and I appreciated that.

Big Roy was my favorite character. The way he raised Roy was commendable and the love he had for Olive was beautiful. It was obvious he loved Roy and Olive from his actions but especially from his behavior after Roy went to jail and at the funeral. What he said to Andre after he came back to collect Roy was perfect and he was doing a great job of trying to protect his son and a marriage he believed in. I had so much respect for Roy and I’d love to have him as a father.

I’ve never been in a similar relationship situation to these characters, but their feelings of helplessness were relatable. Roy did as much as he could and made the best of his situation as best he could but he was still helpless. He was the victim of circumstances and those circumstances affected everyone around him. These things happened to Roy, but they affected Celestial, Andre, Big Roy, Olive, and the Davenports. They were all even more helpless to what was happening to them and the effects of Roy’s bad luck.

Tayari Jones
Image via Wikipedia

The story of how Celestial and Roy got together stuck with me. It wasn’t anything overly special, but it was sweet and one you held onto. I’m glad it wasn’t overly showy or not mentioned because it showed a lot about them both. Celestial happened to be at the right place at the right time and something bad happened to her. Roy wanted to save her and was the big, showy gentleman he usually is and Celestial fell in love with that. They were perfectly themselves and, even ten years later when they’re having problems, you can see those two young people in the ones who are fighting to fix their marriage.

The ending almost seemed rushed to me. There was a lot of emotions flying once Andre, Roy, and Celestial were reunited and I was almost lost as to what was happening and how people’s opinions had flip-flopped. I wish it had been slowed down a little for people like me who take some time to process. I think the book being on audio didn’t help because it was harder to stop and go back and reread any part that happened quickly.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Sean Crisden and Eisa Davis. I liked the dual narrators for the two genders of speaking characters. Crisden did an amazing job of giving Andre and Roy different inflections and manors of speaking so that I almost thought it was three narrators for a moment. Davis gave a good voice to Celestial but I think Crisden’s performance overshadowed hers only because of the range he was able to demonstrate with two male characters.

The book discusses what a marriage is and also what we are entitled to. The marriage Roy and Celestial have faced all imaginable challenges and trials. Is it based on love, a promise, or something else? Roy had everything taken away from him unfairly. What does he deserve upon his release? Should he be able to go back to where he was? Does Celestial owe that to him because of what happened to him? What does their marriage deserve after such a test? I thought these questions were well-posed and made me question my assumptions about relationships.

Writer’s Takeaway: Hard questions make good novels and I think Jones hit this one out of the park. There’s no easy answer to what happens between Celestial and Roy when they face such an injustice. There’s nothing easy about their situation and no precedent to follow. A marriage is a living thing and its health and individual qualities have to be taken into account. The fact that this wasn’t cut and dry is what made it so good and I liked how Jones made me question my beliefs.

A great read and a welcome change from other books I’ve been reading lately. 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:
Book Review: An American Marriage- Tayari Jones | Beverly Has Read
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones | Of Books and Reading
An American Marriage- Tayari Jones | Modern Witch’s Bookshelf
An American Marriage | What Megan Reads
“It challenged my own racial biases”- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones #WomensPrize2019 | Bookmunch

Book Review: The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma (4/5)

5 Sep

Years back, I had a page-a-day book calendar that I’ve still been trying to catch up on many years later. This was one of those selections and six years later, I’m finally making time for it.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Map of Time by Félix J. Palma

Summary from Goodreads:

Characters real and imaginary come vividly to life in this whimsical triple play of intertwined plots, in which a skeptical H. G. Wells is called upon to investigate purported incidents of time travel and to save lives and literary classics, including Dracula and The Time Machine, from being wiped from existence.

What happens if we change history?

What a blessedly short summary for such a long book! I adored this one and found it really fun to read, lugging this chunk to a wedding with me in the vain hopes of finishing it. The three plots did come together well and I liked reading about each of them and how Wells became the central character of each. I’m afraid of giving too much away about this wonderful book.

The variety of characters Palma created was wonderful. Wells is reserved yet intelligent while Murray is physically intimidating. Though Tom is also physically intimidating, he uses his prowess in a very different way. I really loved how these characters came together and filled this world. Each brought something new to a world in such flux.

Tom was my favorite character and I wish he’d been featured more in the third part. His story was mostly told in Part II and I should have suspected that, like Harrington, Tom wouldn’t be a large part of the subsequent part of the book. I was happy when he did show up again, though. Tom was just trying to get by. He wanted to do as best he could for himself and stumbled into a bad situation. Granted, he didn’t make it any better by talking to Claire, but I thought the way he finished his story with her was smart and caring, in as much as it could be. I would love to hear more about their plotline.

I could relate to every character at one time or another. I related to Wells when he didn’t know if telling Murray the truth about his book was the best course. I related to Charles when he wondered if lying to his cousin to save his life was worth it. I related to Claire when she wanted to escape her repetitive life. I didn’t relate to Andrew or Tom or Jane as well, but I think there was a little something in each one that made their stories hit close to home and move me.

Félix J. Palma
Image via Simon & Schuster

I thought the story really picked up at the end of Part I when Andrew travels back in time and I thought it stayed high through the rest of the book. Keeping the tension hight was one of the things I felt Palma did best. For such a long book, I wasn’t sure how that would go but it was really well done. It’s hard to pick a singular part I liked best.

I thought the section where Wells goes to visit the Elephant Man was unnecessary. All it does is give us his lucky bowl which played such a minor part in the story that I didn’t think it was necessary. It’s the only part I felt could have been cut, though. All other parts of the story were engrossing and had me constantly guessing how Wells would get out of the mess he was in and how Palma would wrap up his plot.

Palma asks us how we can influence the past and how much impact one action can make. Catching or not catching Jack the Ripper may seem insignificant, but who knows how many lives it saved. And when we do touch time, how can we fix it or avoid it in the future? The paradoxes and alternate universes that are created is fascinating and I like how Palma explored them. Time travel exists in a lot of stories and this one takes its own spin. I liked where it went and how much power it gave to our actions to change the future.

Writer’s Takeaway: Palma kept me guessing. The end of Part I taught me to be vigilant about being tricked and Part II had me looking over my shoulder for a trick every second. In Part III, I thought I knew where the trick was coming, but I was dead wrong. I loved how he kept me guessing even when he was repeating (to a degree) what he had done before. Palma’s pacing and surprises were great and kept the long book feeling short.

I really enjoyed this novel and the narrative style which kept me laughing. 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:
“Map of Time by Felix J Palma | The Book Hole
From the book section: The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma | BritishAisles
Félix J. Palma – The Map of Time | Fyrefly’s Book Blog

WWW Wednesday, 4-September-2019

4 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: No progress with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min, as predicted. Once I figure out my new work routine, I’ll have a better idea of when I can expect to finish this book. I’m hesitant to focus on it because reading on a device before bed will probably make it harder for me to sleep.
I need to finish Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian before Monday so I’m focusing on it a little more than I normally would. I’m thinking of going for a walk after I write this post where I listen to it (and play Wizards Unite) just to get some time in listening. It’s not a chore by any means, but a much more compressed time frame than I was hoping for.
I’ve made decent progress with The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory though I think I’ll be getting through it faster once I start my new job and have a longer commute. I’m not sure what the main action is that I should focus on yet, but I’m sure it will become clear soon.
I was able to pick up a new book from the library last night, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir by Josephine Leslie. This is one a fellow writer recommended to me years ago at a writers’ group meeting. I’ve only just started it so no telling yet how I feel about it.

Recently finished: I finished up Writing and Selling the YA Novel by K.L. Going yesterday. It’s probably a bad idea to keep reading books on writing while I’m trying to finish editing my book. It keeps me wanting to make more and more changes so I feel like I’ll never be done! There was some good advice in this book, but I felt it could have used some more details. A review might take a while because I’m very behind on them right now!

Reading Next: I still plan to get to A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab soon but it’s not ‘next up’ anymore. I’ve given that spot to Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance. This is an upcoming book club selection and I’ll need to get through the audiobook pretty quickly. Some upcoming half-marathon training should help with that!


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

Challenge Update, August 2019

3 Sep

I’ve had a much better summer than I expected! I’m so glad to have the time to read this much and I’ve been lucky to have so many wonderful books. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in August:

Burial Rites // Hannah Kent (4/5)
84, Charing Cross Road // Helene Hanff (4/5)
A Gathering of Shadows // V.E. Schwab (4/5)
The Map of Time // Félix Palma (4/5)
An American Marriage // Tayari Jones (4/5)

All four-star reads! That’s a great month for books. I can’t think of the last time I had a streak that strong. I’m going to take it and run with it because I doubt I get this lucky again.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Nothing new this month. Funny enough, three of these books take place in the 1800s but I’d already checked off that time period. I usually start being more selective to finish this off in October so I’ll give myself one more month to have it happen naturally before I pick and choose what I need.

Goodreads Challenge

42/52
Being nine books ahead of schedule feels so good! I set my goal to 52 thinking one a week was a good pace, but maybe I need to up it next year. Maybe 60? 65?

Book of the Month

This is really hard because they were all so good, but I’m going to pick The Map of Time by Félix Palma. The storytelling was really fun and I enjoyed the twists and turns of this one more than I expected. I kept thinking I was getting tricked and I had fun figuring out how the tricked was done.

Added to my TBR

Riding steady at 71. I did some book shopping and went to an author event so I’ve added a total of four this month. Not bad, but I would love to see this start shrinking.

  • We Sold Our Souls // Grady Hendrix. This is a book club pick that I’ll be picking up this fall. Not sure what it’s about but the title sounds a bit dark.
  • The Great Believers // Rebecca Makki. Here’s the first of my two book-store shopping buys. I was on a trip to Atlanta and this was featured as the store’s book club selection for the upcoming month. Though I won’t make the meeting, it looked like a good pick.
  • Mil veces hasta siempre // John Green. This is the Spanish translation of Turtles All The Way Down. The title roughly translates to ‘A million times until forever’ and I get the parallel. Reading YA in Spanish was a good level for me so I’m stocking up for a few years from now when I’ll do it again.
  • Golden Glow by Dan D’Addona and Kaitlin Sandeno. I went to hear Sandeno and D’Addona talk a few weeks ago and picked up the book. It sounds like it will be a fun biography to dive into.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: I wrote up a review last week Thursday so please go check that out to hear more!
  • Attend six weddings: Four down! My cousin got married two weeks ago. The last two are on back-to-back weekends in October and I’m in one of them so this will be a rough finish but we’ll make it.
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’ve been working on catching up on this and I think I’ll be there soon.
  • Write: I’ve got some time off this week and I’m determined to work on this more. I’ve got the time, I just have to do it.
  • See my friends more: I’m getting better at this! Labor Day weekend helped since we had plans with friends every day. I made use of the two weeks I had free between jobs to see people as well. I’d say there’s a lot of improvement in the future for this!

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 2019, 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!