Archive | June, 2020

Book Review: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue (3/5)

11 Jun

I’m not a big fan of short story collections. This was a switch from a novel for my book club that happened last minute because of availability. I don’t think it’s something I would have picked otherwise. I’m writing this review before our group meets. Maybe they’ll change my mind. Though I find it hard to discuss short story collections.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue

Summary from Goodreads:

Emma Donoghue, celebrated author of Slammerskin, vividly animates hidden scraps of the past in this remarkable collection. An engraving of a woman giving birth to rabbits, a plague ballad, theological pamphlets, and an articulated skeleton are ingeniously fleshed out into rollicking tales. Whether she’s spinning the tale of a soldier tricked into marrying a dowdy spinster, or a Victorian surgeon’s attempts to “improve” women, Donoghue fills us with the sights and smells of the period as she summons the ghosts of ordinary people, bringing them to unforgettable life in fiction.

Some of these I enjoyed and others just frustrated me. Donoghue was inspired by odd bits of trivia she found while reading and some of the stories didn’t seem to have a plot, they just served to explain the odd thing Donoghue had read. Dido’s story had real depth to it. ‘Come, Gentle Night’ made no sense until you read the author’s note at the end. I didn’t like the stories where the note made the plot. In those cases, I felt like the note should have been at the beginning or the story should have been longer.

Donoghue drew rather believable people. None had too much of a story that I could sympathize with them or pass much judgment on how believable they were. There were a lot of women who suffered for their gender and the time period they lived in. This felt real to me. I think a lot of her focus is on how women were oppressed and she wanted to share a bit of their stories when history had ignored them.

Emma Donoghue
Image via Goodreads

‘Dido’ was my favorite story. Maybe it’s because of the racism discussions going on in my country, but this felt very relevant despite the setting. It reminded me of a movie I watched 10 years ago, Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade in England. I thought it was really powerful how Dido recognized her special status and used it to help someone else.

None of the characters was very relatable to me. Many of them were set in a very removed time period and I didn’t get enough to connect with them. The one that was more modern was an immortal witch, so that didn’t help.

None of the stories were disagreeable or I disliked them. Many just didn’t grab my attention and keep me interested for very long. The short story is not a format I enjoy and these seemed shorter than most. They shone a light on very overlooked parts of history and the notes at the end added a lot of depth and research to the stories. They just weren’t for me.

Women were written out of much of history. They’ve resigned themselves to footnotes in obscure texts like those Donoghue used to inspire her for many of these stories. The voices of women aren’t recorded, but logic would have you believe they were important. These women were written off, but they influenced many men and in some cases made a difference. I liked how Donoghue gave voices to the silenced. I think some could have been longer stories.

Writer’s Takeaway: This is not a genre for me and I’ve known that for quite a while. I don’t find short stories often give the reader enough about the subject to connect. Some of these stories felt like fragments of a larger story. Others felt complete. I think the difference was when Donoghue had more context than the reader. She had read some scrap of history that explained the split a little better. Without that context, the reader was lost. I think some of her history notes would have been better off at the beginning of the stories.

Enjoyable in small bursts, but not a genre for me. Three 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

WWW Wednesday, 10-June-2020

10 Jun

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 making a push to finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich this week. I don’t think it will be too much of a problem; it should be on my ‘recently finished’ list next week. The only issue is that it hasn’t really inspired me to do any additional writing. Oh well, it was worth a try.
I needed a new ebook and found out I could give myself both the books I wanted to pick up next if I tried Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin as an ebook. I know it will be a slower read but I also see myself motivated to keep moving forward with it, so maybe it won’t take as long as other ebooks have.
I started a new audiobook that I’m really excited about. Stories of Elders by Veronica Kirin is one I’ve been wanting to read for a while and have been putting off. I know Kirin personally and am good friends with her brother. I heard her speak a while back about this book and I’m sorry I put it off as long as I did. She narrates the audiobook herself which is always fun.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue just in time for our book club meeting on Monday. I’m not a huge fan of short stories so I’m sure that affected my rating of it. I gave it Three out of Five Stars. I’ll have a review up tomorrow.
I also finished It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs on audio. I adored hearing the story in Jacobs voice through the audiobook. I’m not sure what project he has coming up next but I’m guessing that it will make for a great book that I’ll love to read. I posted a review yesterday and I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted my review for The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Monday. This was a great read and I’m so glad I was talked into buying a copy by the signage at the story. It was a beautiful story. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I can’t wait to pick up The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins as my next physical book. It’s time for some YA dystopian binging and this is the perfect book for it. I hope to have started it by next week.


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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Book Review: It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs (4/5)

9 Jun

I adore A.J. Jacobs. I’ve often said he’s my favorite non-fiction writer. His subjects are well selected and his wit and humor always go over well with me. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while and was excited to run across an audiobook version of it narrated by Jacobs himself! I sped through this one and had a blast with it.

Cover image via Goodreads

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs

Other books by Jacobs reviewed on this blog:

Drop Dead Healthy

Summary from Goodreads:

A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.”

That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history.

Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family.

One of the things I love about Jacobs is how he throws himself into his projects 100%. Whatever the project is, he lives it and it consumes his life. This project was no different. Of course, Jacobs couldn’t develop a hobby in genealogy; he had to try and break the record for the largest family reunion. It’s the steps along the way that Jacobs took that make his story even more fascinating. I loved the small things he brings up, like family rivalries, blended families, and Mila Kunis. These anecdotes bring the story to life in a way that only Jacobs can.

Jacobs was very honest about his family and roots which I loved. It was fun to hear him talk about the gems and bad apples of his family tree. I felt that he may have held back some things that were particularly damming, but was still able to illustrate what he found about his past. He was respectful using pseudonyms for people who didn’t want their details revealed so he could tell real stories and not hurt anyone.

Jacobs always appears as a character in his own stories. He’s not afraid to talk about his own faults and make fun of himself, usually through the eyes of his family. He realizes when he embarrasses his sons or is not a perfect husband to his wife. He sees the times that he falls short of the person he wants to be. I like how honest he is with himself and how much you see him grow through his research.

I tried poking into genealogy once, rather unsuccessfully. I created a Family Search account and I’ve taken the 23 And Me analysis. But it wasn’t something I decided to invest too much time in and that fizzled out. However, I had a really cool moment a few years ago. I was visiting my parents and I got an email from a 23 And Me user who said he thought we could be related and asked me if a list of last names meant anything to me. One was my grandmother’s maiden name. I asked my dad if he knew the name and he recognized that this was the child of one of his cousins. I wrote back and was connected to my dad’s cousin, who is the family historian. We now get annual updates (via Christmas card) about the new relatives my cousin-once-removed has added to our family tree and the family documents she’s been able to find. I’m always shocked by the documents and records she has translated from Danish that show a relative in the 1600s giving birth or being baptized. It’s cool to think about my family members from that long ago.

A..J. Jacobs
Image via Goodreads

I liked learning how Jacobs connected people to himself. It was cool to see how we’re all related to Beyonce or Ted Bundy. It made me interested in going onto one of the sites he listed and creating another account. Though I doubt I’ll be able to keep up with it, as happened before, and it will fizzle out.

I found his account of the actual family reunion a bit of a letdown. After building to it the whole book, his description of the day was a bit rushed. I know it must have felt that way to him as well, but I think the chapter could have been twice as long to give us a feeling of the size of the day a bit better. It was a huge accomplishment and it would have been good to see it that way.

Jacobs narrating his own audiobook was great. I loved his humor even more hearing the way it was intentioned to be read straight from his lips. I always like when authors narrate their own non-fiction because I think it gives it a much stronger story-telling element. I hope Jacobs will do this again. I’m almost tempted to listen to some of his backlog if he’s done it before. I always enjoy revisiting his stories.

Family is never simple and Jacobs story shows that. He has examples of family secrets, non-traditional families, fights, and failures. I think a great example is his relative who he was so excited to find out served in the Civil War, only to find out he lasted less than a week in the service. There are great and terrible things in each family. And if you look broadly enough, we’re all one family anyway. So any terrible thing you hear is about your family as is every great thing you hear.

Writer’s Takeaway: Jacobs’ humor is what has always made him a favorite of mine. Even in stressful situations (like arguing with his brother in law), he finds a way to make fun of the situation, to find some humor. It often points toward him, but he’s great at looking for it and finding a way to make you laugh, especially when you might have been cringing otherwise.

A great read with some wonderful Jacobs humor. 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Post:
It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs | Joplin Public Library

Book Review: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (4/5)

8 Jun

I picked this book up at a store in Atlanta, GA when I was traveling. It was listed as a selection for one of the store’s book clubs and the accolades on the cover convinced me it was worth picking up. I read the first chapter on that trip but it’s been almost a year and I started over when I got into it this time. I thought the first chapter was a little lost from the story when I first got back to it and almost wished I’d skipped over it again. But that scene came back again and again and became a very pivotal moment in the story so I’m glad I revisited it. It’s a testament to Makkai’s storytelling skills.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

I wasn’t ready for the emotion of this book. It really took hold of me and I was hooked for the ride. Yale was an amazing character and I kept wishing the whole time that things would be OK for him and the AIDS epidemic would somehow pass him and his friends by, or at least not become worse. I was less vested in Fiona’s story if only because Claire’s estrangement from Fiona seemed loosely defined and not as exciting. Yale’s adventure seemed more present even though it was set in the 80s.

The Boys’ Town characters were amazing and well crafted. A few blended together for me, specifically Asher, and Julian, but a lot of them were vivid and memorable. I loved how even though the entire story takes place after Nico’s death, he’s one of the most present characters throughout the novel. His death has sparked so much in these people’s lives and it stays with Fiona well into her adulthood. Charlie was so easy to imagine and I feel like I’ve met Richard before. I wondered how much of this book was based on experience Makkai had and how much she poured herself into Fiona.

Yale was my favorite character. I loved how he was ‘hopelessly preppy’ and so sweet to everyone. We only see him get honestly mad twice in the book despite everything that happens to him and his friends. He’s a very honest person and he’s someone I would want to be friends with but would probably not have a lot in common with me but be too polite to say anything about it. His devotion to Charlie was admirable. I’m glad he and Fiona became such close friends because he needed her and she was there for him.

Yale’s devotion to his job was something I related to. I recently had a conversation with my husband about how much energy I devote to my job and I was reading this book at the time and didn’t think my dedication was too different from Yale’s. I don’t travel much for work, but I do think about my job and the people it touches a lot when I’m not working. How much Yale worried about the art and the valuation of it struck close to home.

Rebecca Makkai
Image via the author’s website

I loved the subplot with Nora and her art. I thought Yale’s devotion and distraction by this was very telling of his personality. He cared as much about Nora as he did about the art. He cared a lot about people and that’s what made him so sweet and likable. When things in his personal life weren’t going well, he threw himself into his job as a way of distracting himself from what was upsetting and I know I’ve done that so I could relate to him. I loved that his dedication to Nora lasted the entire novel, it was a very sweet friendship that they developed.

Fiona’s modern plotline didn’t do much for me. Her search for Clarie seemed odd. If someone doesn’t want to be found, why do you think looking for them will suddenly spark a relationship? It seemed odd to me that Claire agreed to talk to her mother at all and that was one part of the novel that I didn’t believe. I read an interview with Makkai that she added this section later. I think it did well to draw out the mystery of what happened in Chicago, but it didn’t help me get more into the novel. It actually made me skeptical of Fiona’s character in the 80s plotline.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Michael Crouch and I thought he did a wonderful job with it. His voice was great for Yale and it didn’t strike me as odd when he narrated Fiona’s story. He had a different voice for female characters but it didn’t come off as rude in any way.

Friendship is very important in this novel. Many of the men were abandoned by their families and had to become their own support system. The number of them who signed the power of attorney to Fiona was amazing to me. But it was also justified by how Fiona treated these friends and how close she was to all of them in such a tough time. Their stories are beautiful. The story of the march for health care equality seems to strike me more reading it during protests over police brutality in America right now.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m often struck by stories about things that happened before I was born but were not taught in school. If you think about it, you probably didn’t learn much about what happened in the world in the 20 years before you were born. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that our parents and teachers lived through it and either forget that we didn’t or it’s too painful for them to talk about yet. I was born in 1990 so the mid- to late-eighties isn’t a time I learned a lot about. This is the second book I’ve read that focused on the AIDS epidemic (the other was South of Broad by Pat Conroy) and I’m struck by it in fiction and how I never knew much about it before. Makkai did a great job of teaching me while I was being entertained by her writing.

A masterful book and one I really enjoyed. 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (5 out of 5) |generationgbooks
How Rebecca Makkai Wrote ‘The Great Believers’ | Chicago Review of Books

Book Review: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel (3/5)

4 Jun

I picked this book up when Mandel did her tour for Station Eleven being the Great Michigan Read. I hadn’t heard anything about it but the cover intrigued me. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I decided to pursue it as an ebook which meant I read this over the course of a month, much slower than I normally read. It made for slow going but it also filled some quiet moments when I needed a story.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Other books by Mandel reviewed on this blog:

Station Eleven (and book club reflection and another book club reflection and meeting the author)

Summary from Goodreads:

Gavin Sasaki was a promising young journalist in New York City until the day he was fired for plagiarism. The last thing he wants is to sell foreclosed real estate for his sister Eilo’s company in their Florida hometown, but he’s in no position to refuse her job offer. Plus, there’s another reason to go home: Eilo recently met a ten-year-old girl who looks very much like Gavin and has the same last name as his high-school girlfriend, Anna, who left town abruptly after graduation.

Determined to find out if this little girl might be his daughter, Gavin sets off to track down Anna, starting with the three friends they shared back when he was part of a jazz group called “The Lola Quartet.” As Gavin pieces together their stories, he learns that Anna has been on the run for good reason, and soon his investigation into her sudden disappearance all those years ago takes a seriously dangerous turn.

This book never pulled me in the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t never so invested in Gavin and Anna that I couldn’t put it down. The mystery unraveled itself so slowly that it didn’t keep me engaged a lot of the time. That being said, the characters were wonderful. Everyone was tragically flawed in a different way and it kept you reading when the plot was slow. While Anna and Gavin are the focus, we still have Sasha and Daniel and Liam who have their own problems and keep the plot moving forward if only to figure out what’s going wrong in their lives. The character development made this book interesting.

The flaws in the characters were very real. Gavin was the most interesting to me. When he got caught in a lie, he wasn’t sure how to get out of it. He didn’t apologize and at first, didn’t seem sorry for what he’d done. He seemed to like to suffer and be a tragic story. I think we’ve all met people like that who we would call Drama Queens but Gavin didn’t fit that for me. His suffering seemed to be deeper and more lasting which gave him some good character depth that made him interesting.

Gavin was my favorite character. I couldn’t get a good picture of him in my head and that made him more interesting. At first, I pictured him short and stocky and then a scene later I’d think he was tall and thin. I’d give him long, graceful fingers, and then a few pages later, I’m picturing him with big feet. He never settled in my mind. This isn’t to say he was inconsistent because his behavior and speech were very consistent. It made him more enjoyable to read about because my picture of him kept changing.

Gavin’s regret was relatable even if I’ve never realized I left a pregnant girlfriend to move to New York. He was torn up about it and I’ve felt torn up about things before, too. He was curious and felt frustrated when people wouldn’t give him straight answers. The way he went about investigating Chloe felt very real and thought out in a way I might have done it.

Me and Mandel

I enjoyed the parts that Sasha narrated. She was a very flawed and beautiful character. I liked her background of gambling and I think it added a great layer to her character. She didn’t trust herself because she was unsure if she was acting as an addict or as a logical person. Her distrust for herself was engaging and it made me look forward to chapters she narrated.

I felt like we never got to know Anna well. She seemed very docile at the beginning but as we learned more and more about her, that flipped and she seemed angry and unreliable and almost evil at times. But you knew she wasn’t a very bad person if she raised Chloe. She seemed to hate men but she relied on a number of them. I never got a good feeling for who she trusted and why anyone trusted her. She’s not someone I ever would have picked for a friend. She floated around more like a ghost. Despite this, everyone seemed to want to be near her and talk to her. I wanted to leave her be and run away.

There are a lot of themes in this book: returning home, fixing past mistakes, protecting a child. I think Gavin grew most in the book and a lot of these can apply to him. He was always trying to escape Sebastian and become someone he couldn’t be when he was there, but he needed to come home and find out who he really was. His life in New York was so fragile that he left with only the clothes on his back and that was fine. He seemed to always have an inkling that he’d done wrong by Anna. (Honestly, I can’t understand why they were together at all, but that’s just me.) He felt that finding her and offering help, though he had almost nothing to offer, was the only way to fix this. Daniel was able to fix some of his past mistakes better than Gavin was. Gavin floundered, unsure what to do to atone for his misses. He had to reconcile with himself what it took to protect Chloe. Would he be helping her or hurting her by coming back into her life? How could he make things better for her and is what Anna did really helpful? I liked how he struggled with this because it felt very real.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was odd in that it was a slow character-driven thriller. Despite a mystery tone and plot, the people in it shone. I like books that take a spin on what we traditionally think of in a genre and Mandel was able to do that with this one.

Overall, not for me but still enjoyable. Three 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
Review of “The Lola Quartet” by Emily St. John Mandel | Rhapsody in Books Weblog
Emily St. John Mandel – The Lola Quartet (Publisher’s Review) | McArthur & Company

WWW Wednesday, 3-June-2020

3 Jun

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 eventually finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich but it hasn’t been a priority for me this week. I’m pushing to get through my ebook before the book club meeting so I’ve given that more attention. Unfortunately, this one is easy to put down when I want to so it’s gotten a bit of rest this week.
I keep moving forward with The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue but I’m not sold on short story collections, especially for book club discussions. Some of these have been more interesting than others and I’m moving slowly through them. I hope I finish in time for our meeting!
I was able to start It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs and I’m loving it already. It’s great to have Jacobs read the audio because I’m getting a lot more out of his humor hearing it right from his mouth.

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai on Friday and just loved this book. I was put off by the length at first but I never wanted it to end. Yale was an amazing character and I adored following him through the story. I look forward to reviewing this one early next week so I can share what I loved about it. Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think I’ll need a physical book next and I’m torn between two. I just got my copy of the newly released The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins and part of me wants to dive in immediately. Another part of me is calling for patience. The next book on my shelf is also one I’m excited about, Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a long time, too, and it seems silly to skip past it now when I really need some sports-centric motivation. Anyone have a suggestion?


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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Writing Check In- June 2020

2 Jun

I’ve been wanting to dedicate more time to writing. 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!

Again, not much to report. I’m currently reading a book about writing, Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich. I thought this might inspire me to try some of the writing exercises or to do some editing to my existing works but I’ve got nothing. I’m not even getting ideas for new books. I’m reading it slowly and filing the information away for ‘later,’ whenever that might happen to be.

With triathlon season in full swing, I anticipated not having a lot of time for writing, submitting, or editing right now. I didn’t anticipate a complete lack of interest in writing, either. I’m not sure what will finally light a fire under me and get me writing again. Anyone got a match?

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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Challenge Update, May 2020

1 Jun

What a good month for reading! Picking up my training has increased it though I’ve been getting outside for my bikes more and more with the nice weather which is a bit less listening time. I’m still happy with how this has gone. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in May:

The Starless Sea // Erin Morgenstern (4/5)
The Bookseller // Cynthia Swanson (3/5)
Viola In Reel Life // Adriana Trigiani (3/5)
The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky // Mackenzi Lee (4/5)
White Oleander // Janet Fitch (4/5)
Wayward Son // Rainbow Rowell (4/5)
The Lola Quartet // Emily St. John Mandel (3/5)
The Great Believers // Rebecca Makkai (4/5)

I’m a bit behind on reviews but should be caught up by next week. Hopefully.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
One more which is all the progress I really need, right? I marked off the 1700-1799 time period with The Gentleman’s Guide to Getting Lucky by Mackenzi Lee. It’s such a short book that it feels a bit like cheating, but it also feels good to knock off the time period so I’ll roll with it.

Goodreads Challenge

29/55
Seven ahead. I feel like I’m dreaming, I’ve never been this far ahead of the challenge before. I’m loving the cushion. I’m not at all nervous about what happens if I start a longer book. And yes, I do really get anxiety about that.

Book of the Month

I’m wondering if it’s a recency bias, but I think The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai might be my book of the month. I loved this story about love and friendship. The 4.21 rating on Goodreads is helping me reinforce that this is a solid choice. I’ll be reviewing this next week to explain what it is I liked so much.

Added to my TBR

I’m gobsmacked that I’m down to 46! This seems almost impossible after how high this number was even a year ago. It’s been a lot of work getting it down but it feels really amazing.

  • Nothing! Nothing added this month. Man, it’s shrinking fast.

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.

  • Triathlon Age Group National Championships: Well, I’m doing the training. With the COVID19 pandemic, this is really likely to be canceled so I’m not holding my breath but I’m going to put in the work. We’ll see what happens in the coming months.
  • Submit my novel: Ha, that’s funny. I’ll post again tomorrow about how the submission process has been going. I’m not optimistic that this goal will be one I feel I can really check off this year.

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 this year, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

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