Archive | January, 2020

Off-Topic Thursday: My Life As An Introvert

30 Jan

Off-Topic Thursday is a way for me to get a chance to talk about my life outside of books and reading. I appreciate the chance to give you all a little more insight into my life so please chime in with your thoughts!

I’ve had a lot more downtime these past few months since the triathlon season is over and I’m not in school. There are a number of ways I’m finding to fill my time between swimming, reading, and finally working on book submissions. The biggest thing that I’ve realized is that I really am a strong introvert.

In high school, I thought I was an extrovert. I had a lot of friends and I was outgoing and not afraid to talk. I’d mistaken these for signs of being extroverted when they’re just signs of being friendly. You can be a talkative extrovert and I think that’s what I am. In college, I didn’t think much of it. I went to parties with friends and had dinner with them in the cafeteria but I needed to study and do homework in peace. I struggled one year when I had a house with four other girls and I couldn’t find any peace and quiet. I became well acquainted with the library and the corners of it no one would bother me.

Since I’ve gotten married, I see what an extrovert really is. My husband is the epitome of an extrovert and lives it daily. If we’re out on a Friday night, even though we woke up at 4:30 AM to hit the gym, he’ll stay hours later than me. On the only free night of a busy week, he’ll make plans to get out of the house. He thrives from being around people. He doesn’t get tired and it actually gives him energy. I’m stunned. I’m the one yawning after an hour and leaving as soon as it seems socially acceptable.

This really forced me to admit that I’m an introvert. I’ve started planning my week and weekends around it and I think it’s helped my mental health. I don’t worry about getting out of the house more than twice a day on the weekends. I skip on some events I’m not excited about. My husband and I will drive separately to social events so I can leave when I’m ready and he can stay. I plan nights in. I feel more in control of my surroundings when I’m home and I feel better prepared to leave the house when I do go somewhere. It’s been really good for me.

I will force myself to go out when I don’t want to at times. I think it pushes my boundaries a bit. If there’s a social event that I’m free for but nervous about not knowing enough people, I’ll still go about half the time. The other half, I give myself a pass. I am an introvert, after all.

I’m sure there are a lot of introverts in the book blogging community so I hope this resonates with more than a few of you. How do you cope with being an introvert?

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, 29-January-2020

29 Jan

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’m still moving slowly through Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. Though, I think I’m further than I give myself credit for. The progress bar a the bottom looks like I’m less than halfway but I believe there’s a long index at the end and I’m probably a lot closer to the end than I think. I’ll soldier on!
I can’t wait to read more of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. We’re having dinner tonight to discuss the third quarter and then I can hurry on to the end!
I got about halfway through Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner. I really like Sarah as a character and knowing she’s based on a real person makes me like her even more. I hope to have this finished next week but we’ll see.
I feel like The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison is going to be slow for me. There’s some great humor in the writing, but it’s moving slower than I’d like. I’ll keep pressing on.

Recently finished: Nothing new finished, just a new review up. I posted my review of Colombiano by Rusty Young on Monday. This was a heck of a book and really got me to think a lot about problems in other parts of the world and how little I understand about them. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I picked up The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) and it’s patiently waiting on my bedside table. A friend told me she owns a copy so if I don’t finish in time, I have a backup option. I hope I can finish, though!


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!

Picking a Vacation Book

28 Jan

My mom and I are going on vacation to Greece together next month. On top of being BEYOND excited, I’m already looking forward to picking a book to take with me!

For most book nerds, I know this is a hard choice and there are a lot of factors in play. Here are the factors I’m considering while picking my book.

  1. Book Club. My book club meets the week after I get back. Normally, that would mean taking a book club selection with me and getting it read before the meeting. However, both of my clubs are reading the same book since the author is coming to our area to speak, so I’ll have the book read well ahead of the meeting since the other group is reading it first.
  2. Book Shopping on Vacation. I know that I’ll be going to at least one English language bookshop while I’m away, but it will be at the beginning of the trip. Chances are, I won’t have finished whatever I’m reading before we get there. If it was at the end of the trip, I’d consider bringing a book I could sell second-hand or put toward buying a new one. I did that a few years ago and it worked great. I may stock up with a new book in anticipation of finishing the one I have.
  3. Book Exchanges. A lot of hostels and AirBNBs have books that a traveler can take and leave the one they’ve finished. I’m wondering if I’ll run into this with the places I’m staying in. I can’t count on it, but it seems like a strong possibility at the Airbnb we’re staying at in Athens so I’ll keep this option in the back of my mind.
  4. Owned vs. Borrowed. I will never take a borrowed or library book with me on vacation. Vacation involves too many opportunities for a book to be damaged or left behind. If I finish a book, I may be tempted to leave it and I couldn’t do that with a borrowed book. I’ll only take ones that I’m not responsible for returning undamaged.
  5. Paperback vs. Hardcover. I’ll only take paperbacks with me when I travel. They’re lighter and usually smaller. The margins are usually smaller and the print tiny which makes them ideal for shoving in a bag and bringing along for a beach visit.
  6. How Much I Want It. If it’s a book I’m excited about reading or that I want to add to my shelf along with other books by that author, I’m less inclined to take it. Again, I want the freedom to leave the book behind and if it’s one I want in my collection, I’ll want to bring it home with me.
  7. Signed Copies. I’m very particular about my signed books. I will hesitate to take them out of the house at all, let alone on vacation. I won’t loan them out either. There’s no way I’d take a signed book on vacation.
  8. Length. This one is tricky. Do I want a short book so I can finish it before I get to somewhere with a bookshop? Do I want a long one that will last until the plane ride home? There’s a balance with the size of the book, too, and how much I’m willing to lug it around with me. A long book might be good for a long vacation, but not for traveling light.
  9. Subject. I made this mistake before and took a historical non-fiction on my honeymoon. While it was fascinating, it wasn’t great for reading poolside. I’ve found I prefer fiction books while traveling, something that can suck me in for long plane rides or bus trips without me wanting to take a break.
  10. Controversy. This may sound silly, but I do take it into consideration. If there’s a book with a lot of controversies or a reputation surrounding it, I’m less likely to take it with me. Vacation reading is done in public a lot more and I don’t want to interrupt my reading with strangers commenting on the book or author I’ve selected. I’d like to get my pleasure reading done in peace without anyone wanting to butt in.

I think I have my book selected for Greece but everything is subject to change. I’m thinking of a long one for this trip because it will involve a lot of plane trips and ferry rides.

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: Colombiano by Rusty Young (4/5)

27 Jan

It’s been a while since I took on review copies and here I am with two within two months! After I read Eastbound from Flagstaff, I was going to take a break from review copies but when I was told I could have the audiobook for Colombiano, I was sold. Audiobooks are my weakness and I decided to take on the daunting length of this story if I could listen to the whole thing.

Cover image via Goodreads

Colombiano by Rusty Young

Summary from Goodreads:

All Pedro Gutiérrez cares about is fishing, playing pool and his girlfriend Camila’s promise to sleep with him on his sixteenth birthday. But his life is ripped apart when Guerrilla soldiers callously execute his father in front of him, and he and his mother are banished from their farm.

Swearing vengeance against the five men responsible, Pedro, with his best friend Palillo, joins an illegal Paramilitary group, where he is trained to fight, kill and crush any sign of weakness.

But as he descends into a world of unspeakable violence, Pedro must decide how far he is willing to go. Can he stop himself before he becomes just as ruthless as those he is hunting? Or will his dark obsession cost him all he loves?

I wasn’t ready for the deep emotional cuts this book would give me. I hear about the war on drugs and what cocaine does to a country and the people in the trade but it was all brought home in this book. I guess I’d thought that a big industry like cocaine in Colombia would somehow be centered around the big cities but I was shocked at how it affected farmers and people in rural areas. The way Pedro’s story unfolded told the story of the drug trade and how it has corrupted a country and made daily life dangerous in ways I couldn’t imagine. I could tell Young was trying to tell me about the effects of child soldiers and political instability but giving Pedro a starring role in the story and making his family come alive made the story vivid and wonderful.

Unfortunately, the characters were very believable. I say that because it’s horrible to think that a 15-year-old boy could be telling me about his life as a soldier and how he killed men, but I bought every word of it. The life he describes at the beginning is so ‘normal’ and typical of a teenager, but when his father is killed, everything changes. All the people around Pedro were believable, too. I could see how they’d react to him and the situations he was in. I could feel their fear. The length of the book gave Young time to flush out most of the side characters so that I felt like I knew them well by the end.

Pedro himself was my favorite character. I’d get attached to side characters from time to time, but I felt they always let me know in some way. Pedro was consistent and steady. I didn’t always agree with his decisions or means, but I liked him and I wanted good things to happen to him. He was a good character to follow through the craziness that happened during the story. I think we saw a lot of different aspects of how problems in Colombia formed and continue. It didn’t seem contrived to have all of it come from Pedro. He was observant and wasn’t afraid to get involved in things.

Parts of Pedro’s story were relatable and I think that’s what made it so impactful. I can imagine wanting revenge on someone who hurt my family. I can’t imagine killing the way Pedro does. I remember falling in love young (I met my husband at 14) so his story with Camilla was relatable, but I can’t imagine keeping secrets from my spouse like the ones Pedro has to keep. It was small things like this that connected me to Pedro and made his story even more heartbreaking for me.

Rusty Young
Image via HuffPost Australia

Maybe it’s a recency bias, but I enjoyed the ending of the book when Pedro was living back in Llorona best. He was more in control at that point and his decisions had huge consequences. I felt like he was operating with training wheels on for a lot of the book and I was interested to see what he’d do when he had more control. He didn’t have to sneak bullets out anymore, he was the person rationing them.

The graphic descriptions really got to me. I don’t do well with graphic violence and gore. So certain scenes (that I won’t describe because thinking of them is making me queasy) were a bit much for me to stomach. I had one of those scenes come up while I was running and that was a horrible combination. It was effective, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t like it. The details showed how violent Pedro’s life was. It also reinforced that I probably shouldn’t join a paramilitary.

My audiobook was narrated by Brian Ramos and I thought he was amazing. He added great voices for the characters, Pallilo in particular. I’m glad they chose a narrator who could speak Spanish as well. I’m not a native speaker, but I’m fluent enough that I can tell when a narrator doesn’t really understand the Spanish they’re speaking and it was clear Ramos knew what he was doing. He was able to keep me entertained for the entire novel which is no small feat with this daunting length.

My major takeaways from this book were about Colombia and the major issues the country is facing. I didn’t get a lot about the characters because I think the country is the major character for the story. Yes, Colombia has a lot of problems. And they’re all connected. There is no quick way to fix any of them without fixing all of them at once. The story taught me a lot about how things can go so wrong so quickly. Many of the people affected by the violence weren’t involved with the causes of violence at all before they became the focus of it. This forced me to see that there’s a lot of work to do everywhere and none of it has an easy solution.

Writer’s Takeaway: Rusty seemed to have something to say about Colombia that could easily have been a non-fiction book. But by giving us Pedro and a fictional character to root for, he made these issues more personable and helped me connect to the material on a much deeper level than I would have otherwise. While the truth may be stranger than fiction, fiction can be more engaging.

I enjoyed the book and story though it seemed a little long-winded. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Post:
Colombiano – Rusty Young | crazybookladyreviews

Interview with Author Annette Valentine

23 Jan

I recently did a review for Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine. This was my first review request in a while and one of the conditions I had for doing the review was that I could ask Valentine questions when I finished. I adore being able to interact with an author after I read their book and ask some questions to get more from the book. It makes for more of a dialogue.

Major thanks to Annette for answering my questions and sharing her thoughts and motivations!

1. The book summary says that Simon’s story was inspired by your father. Can you share how much of this story came from his experiences? Are there certain things, in particular, you can point to?

My father was the oldest child of a twenty-one year-old rural Kentucky farmer and his fifteen-year-old wife. His mother died at 36 years old, having had 8 children. His mother’s death was a significant  turning point for my father who left home at the age of 18 in 1920 and went to Detroit. So his leaving home at a young age to go to a big city was a catalyst in my writing about him.

He was a policeman in Detroit and involved in escapes with the Mafia. Often times, I heard stories of his adventures. I tried to depict them with the bits and pieces I’d listened to from my youth.

He developed TB and was forced to go to Albuquerque to a sanatorium. He did become an actor and was enrolled in the University of NM in hopes of becoming a doctor. The Great Depression changed his plans.

These facts about him gave me a heart for his sufferings, his ambitions, and his determination. He did have a brother who is very truly characterized as a pitiful soul who lost his way and came to an unfortunate end as a result. His brother’s demise was always something that seemed to haunt my father. His compassion for others, I believe, came out of his grieving for his brother.

My father returned to Elkton after his circuitous 10-year journey and there met my mother. My father is accurately portrayed as a serious, good-looking, good-humored son-of-gun. In real life, he was strong and influential in the lives of many people —both his family and in his community.

2. As a life-long Detroiter, I loved seeing my city in this book. What about 1920s Detroit spoke most to you?

Detroit spoke to me as a beckoning city at the height of opportunity and the 1920s era enticement. My father was a dreamer and a visionary. Detroit seemed to present the perfect adventure to fit his young-man ambitions.

3. What happens to Celest and the baby is absolutely heartbreaking. How long did you have their fate in mind? Why did you pick this incident to draw your title from?

Ah! Celeste was there in the back of my mind all along as the innocent and feisty “untouchable” girl that Simon was afraid to love. She was doomed to be the very hope beyond hope—after all the tribulations that Simon encountered—as the bright spot that would allow him to dare to love again (after God had supposedly let his first love—his mother— be so ruthless taken.)

It was in her death that Simon had to come to terms with the fact that he was not in control of anything. With that realization, he turned toward home, and in turning he was set on an Eastbound course back to his roots and his faith.

4. There were a lot of loose ends when the book ended. Which ones can we most look forward to in the sequel?

His relationship with Gracie Maxwell and the strong patriarchal influence that passes down from one generation to the next forms its goodness or its destruction.

5. What advice would you give to others who are trying to write?

Write from your heart. Temporarily, at least, forget the rules and put down on the page (for no less than an hour a day, every day) the thoughts that bring you to life.

 

Thanks again, Annette! I appreciate your expanded insight.

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, 22-January-2020

22 Jan

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: Not much with Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. This will be here for a while and I’m OK with that, I’ve just got to keep moving forward with it.
I wrapped up the next segment of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett for my Buddy Read. It’s really hard not to put through to the end but I’m determined to make it!
I finally started Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner as an audiobook. I had a long drive for a swim meet this weekend and was glad to have a long book to keep me company for the two-hour drive (each way!).
I also started The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison. I’m still early on but I think that it will be a quick read so far. I hope so because I’ve got a lot of other books I want to read!

Recently finished: It feels like forever, but I’ve finally finished Colombiano by Rusty Young. This one was exhausting. Young wanted to give his readers an idea of the lives of child soldiers in Colombia and I’d say he did that and then some. Pedro’s story is tragic and engrossing at the same time. It was quite a haul to get through it, but this book was worth it. Four out of Five Stars.

I posted two reviews this week! I think I’m finally caught up from November when I didn’t review anything. I hated being that far behind. I posted a review of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee on Monday. I absolutely loved this book and I can’t recommend it highly enough to everyone. A full Five out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed American by Day by Derek B. Miller. This was really powerful in the wake of recent American racial violence and I’m glad Miller offered a foreigner’s perspective because I felt it was powerful. Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) came in at the library so I hope to start that as soon as I finish Frank Derrick. It will be quite a different pace but I look forward to it.


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!

Book Review: American by Day by Derek B. Miller (4/5)

21 Jan

I wanted to read a book off my list and after running through the stacks for ten minutes, I finally picked up this book. I’d read the first in the series with my book club a few years ago and while I knew there was a sequel, I hadn’t made it a priority though I’m glad I’ve finally gotten to it.

Cover image via Goodreads

American by Day (Sigrid Ødegård #2) by Derek B. Miller

Other books by Miller reviewed on this blog:

Norwegian by Night (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Goodreads:

SHE KNEW IT WAS A WEIRD PLACE. She’d heard the stories, seen the movies, read the books. But now police Chief Inspector Sigrid Ødegård has to leave her native Norway and actually go there; to that land across the Atlantic where her missing brother is implicated in the mysterious death of a prominent African-American academic. AMERICA.

Sigrid is plunged into a United States where race and identity, politics and promise, reverberate in every aspect of daily life. Working with—or, if necessary, against—the police, she must negotiate the local political minefields and navigate the backwoods of the Adirondacks to uncover the truth before events escalate further.

I love not reading summaries so that books have a better chance of surprising me as this one did. I figured it would take place in the States but that’s all I had to go on. Marcus was a surprise. Irv was a surprise. The racial tensions were a huge surprise. I wasn’t expecting it but it made a lot of sense. For Sigrid, Norwegian by Night had a lot of xenophobic consequences. Did she shoot someone because he was different from her where she might have made allowances or excuses for someone more like herself? This book took that theme and ran with it into a beautiful story that I really loved.

The characters and their emotions drove the story wonderfully. Sigrid’s confusion and determination amazed me throughout the book and I loved reading from her point of view. Marcus’s sadness permeated his entire character and I thought his ending was wonderful and I can’t imagine it wrapping up any other way. Irv blew me away and I went from hating him to loving him throughout the book. Miller’s ability to create characters with a full range of emotions was really enjoyable.

Sigrid was an amazing character and easy to love. She was smart and determined. It was clear she had some internal struggles with where she was in her life but she was also very proud of her career and what she’d been able to accomplish in her life. I liked that she didn’t flash her knowledge around even though she was the smartest person in the room a lot of the time.

Melinda was easy to relate to. Having grown up in the US, she’s almost immune to the racial violence in our country and she’s not involved in politics and hasn’t been on the force long enough for her to think about it. I feel a lot of Americans are in the same boat and are almost blind to the violence in our country until it hits them over the head.

Derek B. Miller
Image via Facebook

Sigrid and Melinda’s time together was my favorite part of the book. Sigrid had so much to teach Melinda and Melinda was such a willing pupil that it felt like a great mentorship was taking place. I loved Sigirid’s patience and how she was able to show Melinda that she could be successful and lead in a position she never considered before. Female mentorships like that are so powerful.

The jumps to Sigrid’s father seemed unnecessary to me. He didn’t add anything to the book unless Sigrid was with him. Seeing him around his house, looking at old mementos seemed like a filler until we were back to Sigrid and Irv.

The book talked a lot about institutionalized racism and Sigrid created a great sounding board for talking about the issue in America. She had similar misgivings about what she’d done in Norway but when she saw the way the issue was addressed in the US, she realized her issues were small in comparison. I’m not saying they’re insignificant but smaller. With an outsider’s view, she was able to express stark opinions about the state of police violence against minority communities. This book addressed the issue as it affected a small town; it would be amplified in a large city but the small setting let Miller dig into the issue more. I liked how he was able to address this.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book is funny without telling you it’s funny. Sigrid’s comments are hilarious but they’re never emphasized so if you’re looking for a crime novel, this isn’t bogged down with humor. But if you’re like me and looking for a book that’s a great mix of crime, literary character development, and humor, you can bust a gut with it and really enjoy it. Humor is great in almost any genre and I think this showed that well.

A really enjoyable read from an author I hope to read more from. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 2000-Present time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Post:
Derek B. Miller- American by Day | Raven Crime Reads

Book Review: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (5/5)

20 Jan

I wish I’d read this book before I heard Lee speak at the Midwest Literary Walk. Now that I’ve finished it, I want to ask her so many questions. And I think I would have understood her talk about the book better. I’ll have to try harder to read the books in advance for 2020.

Cover image via Goodreads

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Summary from Goodreads:

In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.

I didn’t expect a 600-page book to read so quickly. I adored every page of this book and the amazing story of Sunja. I loved jumping from generation to generation, person to person, and story to story as we saw how the Koreans in Japan were treated and how they were able to overcome their circumstances as best as possible to make a life. It’s incredible to think about how they made it through with the deck stacked against them. The drama was just enough to keep me going when the page count was keeping me down.

The characters were amazing. I was always impressed when the new characters were so different from the ones whose stories faded. I loved hearing about Soloman as much as I liked hearing about Kyunghee. The lives these people lived were incredibly deep and their personalities were well illustrated. I believed they were all real.

Noa was my favorite character. His life was so complex and he had a lot to think about and gave the reader a lot to ponder. He is so smart and I think that drove him to overthink everything that happened to him and around him. Like a true literature major, he had to analyze things and search for meaning in his life so he could figure out a purpose. When he tried to run away, it broke my heart. I adored him so much. It was great that we saw him grow up through the novel as well. We really see his whole life through.

I related to the women in this book. It often feels like a woman has to bear her sadness with a stoic face and I think that’s a truth universally and for much of history. Women have to make due very often and sometimes under incredible circumstances. I’ve seen that in my life and I saw it in this book.

Me and Min Jin Lee

Sunja and Kyunghee’s industrious business work was my favorite part of the book. They were forced to work so hard to care for their families and they were so resilient to anything that threatened to keep them down. They were so brave and admirable and I loved reading about how determined they were to make good lives for Noa and Muzasu.

The plotline with Yoseb was hard for me to read. He changed so much after his accident that I almost didn’t believe it. Seeing him so angry and Kyunghee kowtowed was hard. When he would come up, I kept hoping the narrating character would get away from him as fast as possible.

Familial love and devotion are huge themes in this book. Sunja goes to amazing lengths to protect Noa from the truth and raise him as a Korean son. She’s thwarted many times along the way but tries her hardest to do what is right. Mozasu’s love for Soloman is a good parallel. He gives his son everything possible in his childhood but can’t protect him for everything which comes back to bite him.

Writer’s Takeaway: Lee does a great job of keeping a story burning. Her big revelations and plot points are far enough apart to keep you on the edge of your seat without being overwhelmed and balancing a slow plot with deep emotional connection. And nothing was predictable; bad things kept happening to characters I loved. That made it feel very real.

An amazing book and I’d recommend it to anyone. Five out of Five Stars.

This book counts for the 1940-1959 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts:
Review of Pachinko by Min Jin Lee | The Book Stop
Review: Pachinko | The Literary Elephant
A deeply moving story of family and love: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee | Ayunda Bhuwana
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee | The Next Book on the Shelf

2020 Reading Goals

16 Jan

With the new year here, it’s time to start thinking about bookish goals for 2020. I’ve kept it simple over the past few years and that’s worked best for me. It allows me to have fun with my book clubs and pick a few books that I’m interested in and want to read at the same time. Simple is usually better, right?

Goal: Complete the 2020 When Are You Reading? Challenge

I’d be a terrible challenge host if I didn’t participate in my own challenge, wouldn’t I? I host this challenge annually and I love it. It’s a 12-book challenge to read one book in each of 12 time periods. You can read more about it here. I adore this challenge because it involves one of my favorite genres: historical fiction. It pushes me to find fiction from less popular time periods and exposes me to times I don’t know as much about.

Goal: Read 55 books.

The ever-present Goodreads goal. I like this one for its simplicity. It’s just a number, so read that many books. Easy enough. But when I get bogged down in long books or I’m five off with two weeks to go, it’s a lot harder than it sounds. You can check my progress here. It’s always a good time.

I don’t have a ton of personal goals this year. My biggest one is completing Triational Age Group National Championships in August, but I don’t have a specific time goal in mind. I’m just excited to go and participate and maybe see some big names that I look up to. That will be my focus race this year and I’m looking forward to it!

Do you have any reading or personal goals for 2020? If you’re looking for something to push yourself, consider giving my challenge  a try.

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, 15-January-2020

15 Jan

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: This was a slow week for Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley. I kept having people join me at lunch even though I eat really early. It’s not a bad sign, right? But maybe I need to find someone else to eat and read if I want to get through an ebook in a reasonable amount of time.
I’m onto the next segment of The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. My buddy reader and I had a great discussion last week and I’m excited to go even further with these characters. The hard part is going to be stopping when I’m so close to the end!
I’ve reached the halfway mark in Colombiano by Rusty Young. This book is quite the epic and while I know a normal-length book would be over by now, I feel like this one is still ramping up. I’m not sure how this can end because there is so much that needs to be tied up before I feel I can leave Pedro and not be worried about him.

Recently finished: I sped through American by Day by Derek B. Miller. We had some bad weather here in the Midwest so I was happy to stay indoors with some tea and finish this. I had a few hard swims over the weekend that made me ready to fall asleep in my favorite nap chair while reading and this book was just perfect for that. I really enjoy Miller and what he can do with a story. I hope to read more from him soon.

I did finish a review of Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. I enjoyed the story enough, but it didn’t really work for me as a novel. I ended up giving it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have to try another Sepetys book because I adored the first one of hers that I read and I do love historical fiction.

Reading Next: I’ll keep planning on Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner as an audiobook. Eventually.
I haven’t received my copy of The Running Man by Richard Bachman (aka Stephen King) through ILL yet. I’m a bit nervous about it coming in now because I’m not sure I’ll have to get to it.
My book club met on Monday and our next book is The Extra Ordinary Life of Frank Derrick, Age 81 by J.B. Morrison. I know absolutely nothing about this book and I’ve never heard of the author so who knows how this one will turn out. I think I’ll have to do this one in print, too.


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!