Archive | October, 2020

WWW Wednesday, 28-October-2020

28 Oct

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 made an effort to make some progress on Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald this week and it’s gone well! I’m getting closer to the end and I’m optimistic I’ll finish this one in November. Fingers crossed!
I’m moving quickly through The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer and think I can finish it within a week. The short chapters make it easy to think ‘Just one more’ a few times before turning in for the night. My husband is usually snoring before I put it down.
I was able to start a new audiobook over the weekend and snagged a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It’s not terribly long and I’m hoping I can finish it in a week or two. It looks like I was the only person not to read this as a child so I’m glad I’m finally catching up!

Recently finished: I finished The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre while I was cooking dinner one night. It felt so good to finish a book with my house in boxes all around me! At least one thing was done. I was able to post my review on Monday so please go check that out. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

I also posted my review for Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni on Thursday. I liked this book but it wasn’t a good fit for reading right before bed. I ended up giving it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I’m looking to finish up my reading challenge with my next audiobook. Some detailed Googling led me to A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. I don’t know much about it except the setting but I’m so pumped to finish the challenge that I’ll jump in with two feet.
I’ll likely need another physical book soon. This may sound crazy, but I haven’t made it to our new library to get a library card yet, so I’ll be taking from my personal stash for at least one more book. Next on my list is Knitting Yarns by Ann Hood. A friend of mine bought this for me years and years ago and I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get 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!

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.

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Virtually Meeting Author Josh Malerman

27 Oct

I haven’t attended any virtual author events until now and it would, of course, be a local library that finally got me to do it. A library about thirty minutes from me was hosting a virtual event with Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box. (See my book review, book club reflection, and movie review.) Malerman is from Metro Detroit so I’ve always had an eye open for an event with him and was excited to jump on this one having recently learned he’s doing a sequel to Bird Box titled Malorie.

Malerman talked a lot about his process of becoming a writer and publishing Bird Box. He said he started to write emo poems in high school but he didn’t want to show those to everyone and kept them to himself. When he was in high school, his basketball team went to a tournament in Ohio and when he returned, he wrote a story about the experience. This, he was finally ready to share and after showing it to one person, it got passed between his teammates, coaches, and fans. He said that finally made him feel like a writer.

When writing, Malerman ‘failed’ to write a novel four times. He said these are only failures because he didn’t finish them. He was writing a spooky ghost story when he realized he could finish the book and would have an ending. He’d written the book by hand and did a re-write as he typed it into a computer. He sent it to his brother who had it printed. It’s titled Wendy. Once he realized he could do this, he did it again and again, writing a novel about every six months. He encouraged interested writers to keep up their momentum. Even if you don’t end up where you thought you’d be, you’ll end up somewhere. He believes that some artists (including writers) are paralyzed that the art they produce has to represent them in every way. It needs to express their political, religious, moral, and life views and they are paralyzed at the idea of putting all of that into one book. Well, if you write two books, you get to spread that out a little bit. If you write a third, even more. Each book can represent a part of you in a different way; it doesn’t all have to be in one novel.

Malerman also advised not to be afraid to talk about your books. He publicly shared it when he finished a book and a friend read it and shared it with a lawyer who offered to find him an agent. He was so uninformed about the publishing industry that the draft was not indented and was in all italics. The agent they found was one who ‘didn’t do horror’ but agreed to represent the book anyway. It was sold to HarperCollins. The film rights sold before the book was even published so he had no leverage to influence the movie or screenwriting much. He was able to go on set one day and met Sandra Bullock. They were filming the scene at the beginning where the car she’s in with her sister flips. She spoke to Malerman and apologized if they were butchering his book. When he finally saw the final film, it moved him to tears.

A lot of the participants asked about his newest book, Malorie. Malerman’s first draft for Bird Box was twice as long as the final version. He took out a major thread and had wanted to write a second book about that thread ever since. Writing Bird Box was easy for Malerman, writing up to 60 pages in a sitting. When he returned to Malorie, that ease came back. Malorie is very similar to him. He mentioned that he knows her so well that it sometimes feels like a sister or close friend named Malorie is having success with the books instead of him. Of the 33 (!!) books he’s now writing, Malorie is the character he feels closest to. He’s even considering a 3rd book because he could spend more time with her.

He was asked about the faceless monsters and told a story about when he was in high school and a teacher said to him that if someone seriously contemplated the concept of infinity, they would go insane. So he started to do it and found the idea crippling. The monsters are ‘infinity personified,’ something that’s so vast and unbelievable that a person can’t grasp what they’re seeing and loses their mind.

When asked about the title, he recognized that he’s been asked before why an object with such a small part in the book was recognized in the title. He said that Malorie was trapped in the house like the birds are trapped in the box. And humans on Earth are trapped. And on and on like nesting dolls. The title is about the narrowed world Malorie finds herself in.

It was a small group and I was able to ask Malerman about the craziest assumption someone had made about him because he writes horror. He said a friend constantly sends him gruesome crime articles because he thinks he’ll find them interesting. I was also able to tell him about my experience reading Bird Box and how I’ll never forget it. I was camping out before a charity bike ride and my husband was arriving late so I was waiting for him in a tent. It was after 9:00 and pitch dark out before he arrived. I was reading the book by flashlight and jumped every time someone passed my tent!

I’m looking forward to reading Malerman again, though I might stick to indoor settings with reliable electricity. It was a pleasure to meet him and I hope to meet him in person sometime.

Until next time, write on.

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

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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.

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Book Review: The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre (3/5)

26 Oct

It had been a while since we’d done a nonfiction book for one of my book clubs so I was a bit excited when we selected one. I’ve never been a big fan of wolves and I don’t own dogs (I’m allergic) so I don’t think I was a target audience for this one. Nevertheless, I recognize that Rick is an expert like few others in his field and he was able to tell a compelling story.

Cover image via Amazon

The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre

Summary from Amazon:

Yellowstone National Park was once home to an abundance of wild wolves—but park rangers killed the last of their kind in the 1920s. Decades later, the rangers brought them back, with the first wolves arriving from Canada in 1995.

This is the incredible true story of one of those wolves.

Wolf 8 struggles at first—he is smaller than the other pups, and often bullied—but soon he bonds with an alpha female whose mate was shot. An unusually young alpha male, barely a teenager in human years, Wolf 8 rises to the occasion, hunting skillfully, and even defending his family from the wolf who killed his father. But soon he faces a new opponent: his adopted son, who mates with a violent alpha female. Can Wolf 8 protect his valley without harming his protégé?

I hadn’t heard of this project and when I started reading, was really excited to see how such an ambitious program would play out. Moving wild wolves to a new area and seeing if they’d survive sounded like a massive undertaking. McIntyre is the perfect person to tell this story because he was there from the beginning and his perspective of the project is unlike any other. The afterword of the book really highlights how much time he’s spent with the wolves and how unusual that is, even among wolf researchers. I really liked the expertise McIntyre brought to the book.

I don’t know why I was surprised by the variety of personalities the wolves had. Wolf 40 was so aggressive while 21 and 8 were so mild-mannered and able to avoid confrontation. I shouldn’t have been surprised, my turtles have distinct personalities and they’re way less complex than a wolf. McIntyre’s expertise and the amount of time he spent watching them made for some great descriptions and a lot of details about the personalities of each wolf and the pack politics that each fit into.

Despite the title, I felt the book focused more on Wolf 21 and I enjoyed his story. 21 was born in the park and we see him go from an orphaned pup to a strong Alpha. I liked his journey and how he interacted with 8 when they met at the end.

The wolf personalities were so distinct and McIntyre was able to get into their heads so well that they almost seemed like characters in a story, dealing with family drama and a fight with nature. I can’t say I related to the wolves, but I could see a lot of human traits in them that made the story read a lot more like fiction.

Rick McIntyre
Image via Amazon

I liked it when McIntyre would talk about the pups. It made me think of puppies and always brought a smile to my face. The ways they would play together were adorable and I liked how McIntyre described their games and the play bows they did. It had a lot of human and domesticated-dog feeling to it.

In spots, the book dragged on with a bit too much description. It’s clear McIntyre takes extensive field notes and on some occasions, it felt like he was just reading his field notes without too much thought given to a narrative plotline. This wasn’t often, however, and I would find that these stretches did end and wouldn’t come up again for a while. They stuck out to me a bit when they did.

The audiobook was narrated by Geoff Sugiyama and I thought he did a great job with the story. Because the wolves don’t talk, there wasn’t any voice acting that required different voices, but Geoff kept the story interesting. I’m not sure how he’d do with a fiction title, but he did great with this non-fiction piece.

How the wolves in Yellowstone thrived seemed like a testament to resilience in nature. It was great to hear that animals could be reintroduced to an environment where they’d been wiped out and that they could do well and create a community. It goes to show that if we make an effort to help nature, we can make an impact.

Writer’s Takeaway: McIntyre is an expert and he shows his dominant knowledge well in this book. You can see that he is knowledgeable and passionate in a way that few people are. His willingness to get up at unreasonable hours so that he can sit still for 19 hours and watch wolves without any financial compensation isn’t something you’ll find in many people. When someone with that level of expertise is able to share what they know, it’s fun to read and share their passion.

Overall, an important book and one that taught me a lot. However, I wasn’t the right audience for this one and that’s the only reason I didn’t enjoy it more. 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!

Related Post: 
In Search of Wolves, Day 1 (Gunnison to Craig, Colorado) – March 05, 2020 | Rockey Mountain Hiker 

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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.

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Book Review: Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni (3/5)

22 Oct

This book was part of a major book haul I did years ago at a used book sale. It lingered on my shelf so long that I wondered when I’d ever read it. Yay for quarantine providing the time to get to long-neglected books.

Cover image via Amazon

Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America and American in Iran by Azadeh Moaveni

Summary from Amazon: 

As far back as she can remember, Azadeh Moaveni has felt at odds with her tangled identity as an Iranian-American. In suburban America, Azadeh lived in two worlds. At home, she was the daughter of the Iranian exile community, serving tea, clinging to tradition, and dreaming of Tehran. Outside, she was a California girl who practiced yoga and listened to Madonna. For years, she ignored the tense standoff between her two cultures. But college magnified the clash between Iran and America, and after graduating, she moved to Iran as a journalist. This is the story of her search for identity, between two cultures cleaved apart by a violent history. It is also the story of Iran, a restive land lost in the twilight of its revolution.

Moaveni’s homecoming falls in the heady days of the country’s reform movement, when young people demonstrated in the streets and shouted for the Islamic regime to end. In these tumultuous times, she struggles to build a life in a dark country, wholly unlike the luminous, saffron and turquoise-tinted Iran of her imagination. As she leads us through the drug-soaked, underground parties of Tehran, into the hedonistic lives of young people desperate for change, Moaveni paints a rare portrait of Iran’s rebellious next generation. The landscape of her Tehran — ski slopes, fashion shows, malls and cafes — is populated by a cast of young people whose exuberance and despair brings the modern reality of Iran to vivid life.

While I think this book would have hit home harder closer to its publication date, I still found it insightful and moving fifteen years after its publication date. Moaveni was in Iran during a very volatile time in its history and she was in a difficult position because of her childhood. She felt Iranian. Her whole childhood was living in America, pining for Iran and the motherland she was taught to miss. But when she arrived, she was ostracized for her Western ideology and ways of living. There was no happy median, no middle country she could find peace in. Her job as a journalist put her in even more of a precarious position as she reported for the Western media from inside the Middle East.

Moaveni tells us about a wide variety of people in her story. There are those who believe in the regime, those who openly subvert it, and the majority who secretly enjoy elements of Western culture, but put on a face of piety to avoid trouble in society. I think Moaveni gives us a fair account of these people and I felt like I had a good understanding of how people ‘got around’ the restrictions of the culture and how they embraced it at the same time.

There wasn’t a character that I attached to more than the others. The people surrounding Moaveni seemed to come and go, as people do from our lives. Her family was a big part of her life in Iran early on. But once she moved out, they weren’t as prominent. There were times her coworkers seemed to be a bigger part of her story and then they’d fade away. Besides Moaveni herself, there didn’t seem to be a lot of consistency in the characters.

When I was in college, I was an International Orientation Leader (IOL). We would pick up international students from the airport and lead them through a week of ‘American Orientation’ before they’d go through the University’s Orientation. I remember students from the Middle East who were surprised I wore shorts, could drive them around, and had a boyfriend (who is, funny enough, now my husband). They both expected me to be like the stereotypical blond bimbo in movies and to act with the same modesty expected of a woman in their country. When Moaveni experienced this same resistance and expectation, I remembered that time well and I understood the uneasiness that she felt at not wanting to shock and surprise but also wanting to fit in. However, I had it in a bit of reverse than Moaveni did.

Azadeh Moaveni
Image via the International Crisis Group

The end of the book hit me. Moaveni’s perspective of her safety changed after 9/11 and I think any American can say the same to some degree. The knowledge that there were people who hated us just because of where we lived and would go to such violent extremes because it was profoundly shaking. Her fear and unease seemed much more grounded than mine in the Midwest.

This book dragged for me a bit and I’m having a lot of trouble putting my finger on why. It was a bit too much of a history lesson at times, but that seems necessary given the region Moaveni was covering and the impact of history on what was happening around her. I think I was hoping for a faster read at the time and just didn’t get what I was hoping for. It wasn’t bad by any means and there was no single part that I didn’t enjoy, but there’s a reason I picked up a thriller after this.

Moaveni drives at national pride throughout her book and this seemed very relevant to me today in a divided America. She was proud of being Iranian when she was in America. But when she got to Iran and wasn’t accepted, it was harder to be proud because she was told time and time again that she wasn’t Iranian. How can she be proud of a country that’s rejecting her? How much should she fight for a country that doesn’t want her? I feel a lot of these feelings right now with a leader I don’t feel respects women and seeing neighbors get into fighting matches masks and teachers.

Writer’s Takeaway: Writing is a great way to speak out when no one around you will listen. Your words carry further than your voice. Moaveni’s audience wasn’t the people surrounding her in Iran. And it probably took her time to find the words to express the myriad of emotions she was feeling. I think stories like this, from people who don’t fit in the world they’re living in, are the most impactful. They can see holes in something that no one else can.

An impactful book, but not what I was looking for at the time. 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!

Related Posts: 
Review of “Lipstick Jihad” by Azadeh Moavei | Rhapsody in Books Weblog 
Lipstick Jihad | Fizzy Thoughts 
Lipstick Jihad | Ruined by Reading 
Toe to Toe: Funny in Farsi versus Lipstick Jihad | Welcome to Pedagogy and American Literary Studies 

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.

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WWW Wednesday, 21-October-2020

21 Oct

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: With all the moving craziness of last week, I haven’t touched Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald. I hope to get a bit more in, but it may be a bit before I find the time. I’m liking this one a lot and I hope to finish it this month but I’m not holding myself too that too strongly.
I’m enjoying having The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer to turn to for some escapism. The fast pace is wonderful for my short attention span right now.
I started a new audiobook and had a ton of time to listen to it while driving back and forth on moving day! It’s my next book club pick, The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre. It’s been a while since we did some non-fiction so it’s a nice change of pace. I’ll have this one finished up by next week easily.

Recently finished: Nothing this week but after having two last week, I’m not worried. I did write a review for The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo which posted on Monday so please check that out!

Reading next: I need to start focusing on my reading challenge so I’m going to try and get a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. It’s been a while since I read a MG/YA book and this time period setting is perfect for my 1500-1699 slot in the historical fiction challenge!


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.

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Book Club Reflection: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Cho

20 Oct

My book club met via Zoom again for our last meeting, a discussion of Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride. I had finished the book earlier that day so I was excited to get a chance to discuss it so soon after finishing it.

Choo is 4th from the fourth generation of Chinese to live in Malaysia. She traveled a lot in her life and went to Harvard in the US. She now lives in San Francisco. It’s easy to see how her birth influenced this book. Many of us enjoyed the exposure to Chinese funeral customs and understanding how a different culture looks at the afterlife. Many of us compared the Plains of the Dead to Purgatory but they’re very different, which we realized when we started talking about them. There was a good deal of superstition in the novel. It manifested more in the older, less educated characters like Amah and Old Wong. Tian Bai and Li Lan’s father, for example, were less tolerant of old superstitions.

We had some conflicting opinions on the plot of the novel. Some felt like the plot went along well and didn’t get bogged down with side characters and side plots. Others of us felt it was very slow at times and a bit predictable. We did feel like Li Lan didn’t grow much during her story. It started to feel like a YA novel at times because she was so head-over-heels in insta-love with Tian Bai and was do repulsed by Lim Tian Ching that it felt oversimplified. We discussed the corruption side plot and didn’t feel it was a very strong plot. Most of us were surprised by Fan’s betrayal; no one saw that one coming!

We spent a lot of time talking about the ending. Li Lan seems to change her mind about Tian Bai very quickly and that was part of my frustration with the end. One reader pointed out that she seemed to lose her favor for him as she saw him like the things in Fan she despised. She seemed to think that if he couldn’t tell the difference between them and believed that she valued jewels and gifts, he didn’t really know her and wasn’t the love match she expected. She projecting her dislike for Fan onto Tian Bai. A lot of us felt like it was a cheap reason for her to end up with Er Lang, though. After so much time pining after Tian Bai, it felt weird to have her change her goal.

A few readers had watched the Netflix mini-series for this book but I wasn’t aware it existed! I’m excited to give it a try soon. I hear it’s well done so I have high hopes.

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.

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Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo (3/5)

19 Oct

When I started this book, I understood the concept of a Ghost Bride to be someone who marries a dead man. I didn’t think it would be a ghost story. I was thinking of pure historical fiction and that I’d learn about the cultural beliefs of Foreign-Born Chinese in Malaysia. So when Li Lan entered the world of the dead, I was surprised and excited to go on the adventure with her.

Cover image via Amazon

The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo

Summary from Amazon:

Li Lan, the daughter of a respectable Chinese family in colonial Malaysia, hopes for a favorable marriage, but her father has lost his fortune, and she has few suitors. Instead, the wealthy Lim family urges her to become a “ghost bride” for their son, who has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Rarely practiced, a traditional ghost marriage is used to placate a restless spirit. Such a union would guarantee Li Lan a home for the rest of her days, but at what price?

Night after night, Li Lan is drawn into the shadowy parallel world of the Chinese afterlife, where she must uncover the Lim family’s darkest secrets—and the truth about her own family.

This is what I get for not reading summaries before starting a book. I really enjoyed Li Lan’s story and learning more about the Planes of the Dead. However, I got frustrated with the book and felt like it was dragging a bit too much in places. It seemed like Lim Tien Ching’s deception at the hands of his family was unnecessary and Fan’s betrayal didn’t seem to do a lot. These things complicated the plot. And I was disappointed in the ending. I think the story would have been stronger without Li Lan’s change of heart.

I thought the characters were well-drawn and believable until the very end when Li Lan seemed to go against everything she’d worked for the entire book. I’m going to try and stay vague to remain spoiler-free, but I got really frustrated with her and mostly lost my respect for her and her character. The remaining characters were strong and consistent. Fan was a favorite, even though I thought her character could have left the story a little sooner. Amah was another favorite. I liked how well she knew Li Lan and cared for her and her mother.

Throughout the whole book, I felt like a lot of the characters changed which is a testament to Choo’s writing and how well crafted the story was. I can’t think of a character I liked for the entire novel besides Er Lang. He began caring for Li Lan and was there for her when she needed him. Despite my frustration with the ending, I have to admit he’s a great character and someone I would have liked to have by my side if I were going through what Li Lan experienced.

I really liked Tian Bai’s character and I felt connected to him more than most of the characters. I liked that he was humble and didn’t seem too proud; very unlike his cousin. He seemed like a kind person and I think he would have been a good partner for any woman, especially Li Lan.

Yangsze Choo
Image via the author’s website

I enjoyed Li Lan’s initial time as a spirit when she was walking around her town. I thought it was fun to see her explore other people’s homes and learn what it meant to be a spirit and how to function. It was a fun time for her to learn about the dead and how the spirits of those she’d lost were sometimes still around her.

I felt Li Lan’s time in the Planes of the Dead dragged on for far too long. I was curious about the place, but the amount of time she was there and the things that happened to her seemed too drawn out. I kept getting frustrated and wanted to see what happened when she returned more than I wanted to know what was happening with a secret plot in hell that turned out to be almost nothing.

Choo narrated her own audiobook. This often makes me nervous because I’m unsure how well someone whose talent is in writing will be able to voice act. Especially for fiction where it’s necessary to do accents, voices, and read dramatically. Choo did very well and I was impressed with her. I wasn’t expecting so much inflection in her voice and distinct voices for the characters but that’s what we got. Huge kudos to her for all her talents!

I don’t know if I felt like there was too much of a theme to this book. I felt like it was a fun exploration of the funeral beliefs of the culture but the plot of the book wasn’t a win for me. Li Lan didn’t like the man she was supposed to marry and when that was resolved, left her family uncared-for to chase a dream. (It’s a bit of an oversimplification, but this is what I felt fell flat at the ending.) I didn’t feel there was a theme of woman’s liberation or chasing a dream or anything much which frustrated me.

Writer’s Takeaway: It’s fun to explore the beliefs of a culture, historically or in a modern setting, through story. I felt like the Disney movie Coco did something similar and was a great way of explaining the Mexican traditions around The Day of the Dead. Of course, one has to be very well aquainted with a culture to use it as the plot of a story. Anyone who’s lucky enough to do that can create a beautiful narrative.

A fun setting, but not the story I wanted. 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!

Related Posts:
The Ghost Bride – Yangsze Choo | Fiction Matters 
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo – A Review | The Lady Sam’s Story Space 
Book Review: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo | Untitled 
The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo | Twelve Pale Roses 
BOOK REVIEW: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo | GraceLWrites 

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WWW Wednesday, 14-October-2020

14 Oct

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 actually made progress in Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald! I had some time on a lazy Sunday morning to read a chapter or two and I know I’m getting close to the end so I’m going to try to stick with that progress for a while. Fingers crossed.
I finally started The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer! I’m relieved to be able to start another book after feeling like I was stalled for so long. A thriller is a welcome escape right now, too.
Surprisingly, I’m between audiobooks at the moment. I’ll start another one, soon!

Recently finished: I finally wrapped up the final chapter of Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni this week and I’m relieved to have finished. The book was great and really well written but I moved through it slowly because it was one I had to pay a lot of attention to. I’ll have a review up next week.
I finished The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo just in time for my book club. My patience for the book started to wane as I got close to the end. It felt like it was starting to drag on a bit but I was also impatient to finish so I could be ready for our meeting.

Reading next: I’ll pick another audiobook soon, but for now, I have no plan and I’m kind of glad. It’s nice to not plan so far in advance every second. Right now, I can concentrate on my move.


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.

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WWW Wednesday, 7-October-2020

7 Oct

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 won’t lie, I haven’t touched Running with a Police Escort by Jill Grunenwald. Work has been crazy and I’ve been logging in early rather than taking time to read in the morning. My logic is that I’m getting more done and reducing my stress, but that’s crap.
I keep moving through Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni but I’m not sure I’ll finish it this week. I’ve just not been reading as much. I’m liking this book a lot, though. If I can find more time, I think I’d finish it quickly but it’s been a matter of being able to dedicate time to read.
I’m trying to finish The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo this week so I’ll be ready for my book club discussion on Monday. I don’t want two months in a row of not finishing the book before we meet!

Recently finished: If you hadn’t guessed by my slow progress in my current books and my lack of posts this week, I didn’t finish anything. I’m slightly optimistic about something being here next week, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Reading next: I have The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer on the top of a moving box of books so I can pick it up as soon as I’m ready. It will be fun to have something that moves quickly! And the short chapters will be good for when I’m exhausted before bed.


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!

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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.

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Challenge Update, September 2020

1 Oct

I picked my pace up again this month but I’ve run into another slow down: moving. Some days, I’m just so exhausted I can’t pick up a book before my eyes are shut! Thankfully, this won’t last long but it will go through October. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page. I’m also starting a monthly mailing list. You can sign up at the bottom of this post.

Books finished in September:

The Tory // T.J. London (4/5)
The Virgin Suicides // Jeffrey Eugenides (5/5)
In the Distance // Hernan Diaz (2/5)
Joy, Inc. // Richard Sheridan (4/5)

And all caught up on reviews! Man, does that feel good.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

10/12
Nothing new again. With only two spots to go, I’m feeling good about finishing but I need to start getting picky with my reads so I can be sure to finish it off.

Goodreads Challenge

48/55
Still eight books ahead! I’m feeling great about this now even after being a bit worried early on in the year. This should be easy to wrap up.

Cover image via Amazon

Book of the Month

It was easy this month to pick The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. This book swept me away and had me reading much later than I should have been. I loved the tension in it and how Eugenides used a collective narrator to follow the girls. The movie wasn’t too bad, either.

Added to my TBR

I’m still at 44 this month. I wondered where I’d average out and this might be it. We’ll see if I’m able to dip much below this. I added a lot of sequels this month!

  • The Traitor (Redcoats and Rebels #2) by T.J. London. The sequel to The Tory, I’m hoping to get my hands on this one soon and continue the story. Maybe it will even be on audio soon? One can only hope.
  • Troubled Blood (Cormoran Strike #5) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). I’m a bit torn on this one. I know JKR has some controversial opinions and from what I’ve heard, she expresses them in this book. My desire to know what happens to Robin is really balanced with the distaste I have for what JKR has done with this. I have it on the list for now, but I’ll see what I think when I have time to get around to it.
  • Malorie (Bird Box #2) by Josh Malerman. How did I not know there was a sequel?! I’m excited to learn more about Malorie and see more into Malerman’s universe. I hope this one doesn’t scare me as much!

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.

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!

Sign Up for Monthly Newsletters

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.