Archive | January, 2021

WWW Wednesday, 27-January-2021

27 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 guess it’s a good thing that I got a lane quickly so I didn’t read a lot of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono on the pool deck this week. Still hovering in chapter 4.
I finally feel I’m making some progress with Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m taking some time in the morning to listen and do some light strength-building which is helping me move through this faster.
My reading buddy and I are flying through Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. I’d be done by now if we weren’t stopping to discuss as often as we are. I expect this one to be wrapped up next week.
I’m waiting on my library hold and realized that it’s time to start my Spanish read of the year. This is my final owned book so I’ll have to do some shopping soon for a stockpile for the next few years. I decided on Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green. My reading level in Spanish is pretty well suited for YA so I’m optimistic this will be a good read for me.

Recently finished: I finished The Bear by Andrew Krivak late last week. It became a bit of a chore after the book took a turn I wasn’t a big fan of, but I’m glad I finished it. I think it will be an interesting book discussion and I’m curious to see what others thought of the ending and if I’m alone in my skepticism. I posted my review earlier in the week so please check that out to see all my thoughts. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I’m still waiting for my hold of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. I’ve been talking to my husband about writing more often, hoping it will help me commit to carving out time for it and that he’ll help me push myself to do it, too. We can only hope.

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 Review: The Bear by Andrew Krivak (3/5)

26 Jan

This is yet another book club selection that I successfully avoided descriptions of before starting. Based on the cover, I’d assumed it would have to do with stars and Ursa Major or Ursa Minor. While it came up briefly, I was totally off base. I’m not sure if I would have preferred that, though.

Cover image via Amazon

The Bear by Andrew Krivak

Summary from Amazon:

In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen.

I was kind of excited about the Endenic setting and the survival aspect of the book. There are things that the girl and her father have inherited from our era like books and windows. However, most of what they have is made or found and they are very reliant on themselves and their skills. Knowledge has been passed down and that’s critical for their survival. Without bows and hunting skills or the ability to smoke and preserve meat, there’s no way they’d live. I was fascinated by the knowledge that the girl inherited. I think this is part of what I enjoyed in the first half of the book. Once the title Bear came into the story, I really lost my interest and the entire second half of the book was a bit of a chore for me.

The girl and her father felt very real to me. I could understand the love he demonstrated for her and I could understand her actions and instincts to survive and return home to a degree. It was when the bear showed up that I thought things got a little wonky and I stopped believing this was realistic fiction. I wanted something more concrete that I could sink my teeth into and it ended up feeling like a fable.

The father was my favorite character. I thought he was a great teacher and he showed his love for his daughter well. He taught her what she needed to know as soon as she was old enough to learn it because he knew she might have to survive alone. I thought he was kind and wise.

I related best to the girl. She was always eager to learn and try new things and I relate to that. When she learned to do something, she put it into practice quickly and was eager to show she was a good student. The way she made her own shoes and bow after her father had taught her proved that she absorbed the information well.

Andrew Krivak
Image via Simon & Schuster

The journey the girl and her father took too the ocean was my favorite part. I liked how he taught her about the world before and showed her how to do new things as they traveled. I thought he prepared her well to be able to make the trip again if she needed to.

I’m going to talk about the bear and the twist that happens at half way so please skip this paragraph if you want to avoid that. I was so angry when a sentient bear showed up half way through the book. The book went from a survival book to a fable about preserving the environment and communing with nature. I felt like it was a bait-and-switch and I wanted it to end. I slogged through the second half of the book.

The girl learned to work with nature instead of against it to live. She took what she needed but started giving something back as well. It felt like the author had a strong message about environmentalism and I think it was a bit heavy-handed. When civilization ends, nature will take over, much as it did in this book. It seems like we’re being told not to fight it because we will succumb in time.

Writer’s Takeaway: Krivak’s writing was really beautiful and lyrical and it helped me fall in love with the story early on. He had a great way of writing the love the father had for his daughter into his actions. I liked the flow of time in the book and how the author skipped to important events without feeling like we were missing things in between.

A novel that started off great but took a turn I couldn’t take seriously. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the Future time period of the 2021 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!

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 Bear by Andrew Krivak | North of Oxford 
Book Review: The Bear by Andrew Krivak | Hamlets & Hyperspace 

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WWW Wednesday, 20-January-2021

20 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: Waiting for a lane at the pool seems to be my best reading time for Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. I got through another chapter. So I’m pushing forward, but still quite slowly.
I’ve made it halfway through Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and I know I’ll finish it but I feel like I’ve been stuck forever. I’m enjoying the story, but at only halfway, I’m curious how the long and winding story can end.
I got to a point in  The Bear by Andrew Krivak that took me by surprise and slowed me down. It’s a twist I wasn’t ready for and I’m not sure how I feel about it. This isn’t a long book and I’ll probably finish it next week, but this is why it’s not done already.
My reading buddy and I started Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings and we’re speeding through it. Neither of us was ready for how fast a graphic novel would read and we’re meeting frequently to talk about it. I suspect this one will be over quite quickly.

Recently finished: Nothing new this week. I hope to have at least one here next week!

I posted my review of A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro on Monday. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars. Please check it out and let me now what you think!

Reading next: Let’s see if I can motivate myself to write again, shall we? I’m going to try reading Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson and see if that works. Sometimes, reading about writing is all I need to want to get back to writing.

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 Review: A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro (3/5)

18 Jan

I can’t remember when I grabbed this book exactly. It must have been after I heard Ishiguro speak since it’s not a signed copy. I’m guessing I found it on a used book sale shelf at the library at some point. I knew it was one of his earlier books and much different than his popular books. Since I’ve been a fan of some books and not others, I figured it was worth a shot.

Cover image via Amazon

A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro

Other books by Ishiguro reviewed on this blog:

The Burried Giant
The Remains of the Day
Never Let Me Go Book Club Reflection And Movie Review
Meeting Kazuo Ishiguro

Summary from Amazon:

From the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature and author of the Booker Prize–winning novel The Remains of the Day, here is the story of Etsuko, a Japanese woman now living alone in England, dwelling on the recent suicide of her daughter. In a novel where past and present confuse, she relives scenes of Japan’s devastation in the wake of World War II.

This novel had a wonderfully slow pace. It was perfect for reading before bed and helping me relax. There was more dialogue than description and Ishiguro did well to keep me aware of what character was speaking when. I liked the sparse description because the conversations people were having were the most important. The ending made me think a lot, which I wasn’t ready for. It was a bit of a twist, but I should have expected that from Ishiguro.

I felt the characters were very believable. Etsuko didn’t have much of a personality but everyone around her did, especially Sachiko who I’m still not sure how I feel about. The relationship between the two women seems to be the center of the book, but Etsuko’s relationship with her husband comes under scrutiny as well. It didn’t bother me that Etsuko was rather flat. Even though she’s more-or-less the main character, the story seems to be what she sees and not who she is.

Ogata was the most interesting character to me. He was so polite to Etsuko but you could tell he was very angry and upset with what was happening in his country and feeling like it was out of his control. The way he brings up the article criticizing him, it’s obvious that he’s very upset about it, more than he’s letting on. He’s also frustrated with his son and what he perceives as disrespect through his son’s long work hours and refusal to play chess with him in the evening. I thought it was really eye-opening to see a father-in-law act this way toward his son and daughter-in-law and also telling about shifts in ideology in Japan after WWII with how he spoke about the article and his colleague.

There weren’t characters I related to well in this story. I wanted to relate to Etsuko but her personality was so flat that I wasn’t able to. Niki was probably the closest to me in age and life, but she was cold to her mother and tht’s so opposite of me that I couldn’t relate to her. 

Me, Ishiguro, and my friend Nicole

Hearing about Sachinko’s relationship with Frank and her uncle was the most interesting to me because it was so unclear what was going on. I started to unravel her relationship with her husband and why she was living in her cottage, but I’m not sure I ever really figured it out. And I’m not sure I completely understood the ending, either. Though I enjoyed how much it made me scratch my head and think of a few different ways it could have played out.

I thought Ogata’s plotline fell flat and that left me disappointed. I wanted him to confront his son or his former student more. I wanted him to defend himself. But in the end, he left. I know I was probably supposed to get more out of what he said and how his relationship with his son was indicative of changing political beliefs in Japan, but it was too sublt for me.

I was a little confused by the ending of this book which obscured the theme for me. I’m going to spoil it a bit here so skip this paragraph to avoid spoilers. When the modern narrator says she remembers taking her daughter to the harbor, I was so confused. I figured there were a few different ways to interpret it. One was that Etsuko was talking about her daughter, still enutero, going with her. The second is that Sachiko is our modern narrator and Mariko and Keiko are the same person. Third was that Etsuko somehow adopted or stoke Mariko and changed her name to keep Sachiko from finding them. Any way you shake it down, it’s a bit of an odd ending and could mean many things. In the first case, it’s about memory and how our memories of things are always rosier than the actual event. In the two later cases, it’s about how we can change our futures and try our best to do the best we can for the next generation but it might not work out. So I’m left a little confused by this book.

Writer’s Takeaway: Having a bland narrator so you can focus on a secondary character is a legitimate way to tell a story about someone without using their eyes. I’m thinking of Nick in The Great Gatsby. Ishiguro does something similar here with Etsuko, telling the story of the much more interesting Sachiko without Sachiko narrating or having to explain herself all the time. It keep her mysterious and more intriguing.

I enjoyed this book, especially it’s direct writing and light tone. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills 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!

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: 
A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro | Sushu Blog 
Review: A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro | Thoughts on Papyrus 
Kazuo Ishiguro’s A Pale View of the Hills – Thoughts on a Roundabout Narrative | Constructed Heroisms 
A Pale View of Hills – Kazuo Ishiguro | Savidge Reads 

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WWW Wednesday, 13-January-2021

13 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 managed to read a few pages of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono while I was waiting for a lane at the pool over the weekend. Nothing major, but I’m getting more into what lateral thinking means which is interesting.
I missed finishing Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie before my book club meeting but I’m still going to finish it. I’m enjoying the book a lot so there’s no reason to stop.
I grabbed the library’s copy of The Bear by Andrew Krivak and started it over the weekend. I think this is going to be a really quick read so I’m not expecting this to stay on this list for long.

Recently finished: I finished A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro pretty quickly. The ending threw me for a loop and I’m still puzzling through it. I was hoping to have a review up this week but some stomach pain has kept me sidelined a bit more than I’d like so it might be next week before it gets posted.

My review of Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais went up on Thursday last week. I liked the book and gave it Four out of Five Stars. I’m looking forward to discussing with my book club at the end of the month!

Reading next: It’s almost time to start my next Buddy Read! We decided to go in a different direction this time and we’re trying our first graphic novel. We’ll be reading an adaptation of Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings. I’m excited to get started on this and enjoy a new format of story.


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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Top 5 of 2020

11 Jan

Though not a lot of good things came out of 2020, one of them was that I had more time for reading than I otherwise would have. I was able to read some amazing books this year and I wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on them and celebrate the books that brought me joy during such a difficult year.

5. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. The only non-fiction book to grace my list this year, Brown renewed my love for historical sportsbooks. I was fascinated with how he interlaced the story of the Washington crew team and Nazi Germany. His writing was engaging and he found a unique topic that might not have been something I researched without prompting but which I was fully engaged in by the end. My book club really enjoyed this one as well.

4. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffery Eugenides. This one was a bit of a surprise to me. I’ve read a few Eugenides books before and loved some, hated others. So I didn’t have a lot of expectations going into this one. I was completely swept away by the voice and the storytelling. The girls are fascinating and with the title, you knew something horrible was going to happen eventually and the sense of dread overhung the entire story in a fascinating way. I was also touched that it took place in Metro Detroit, my hometown. I just had to watch the movie soon after and felt it was a very faithful and well-done adaptation.

3. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. This was my first Buddy Read with my reading buddy and we both really enjoyed it. Patchett has become one of my favorite authors after I’ve enjoyed the last few books of hers that I’ve read. I loved the sibling relationship in this one and Maeve was an amazing character. I thought Patchett did an amazing job of following the siblings for a lot of their life and unraveling how twisted their lives had been as children. This book started an awesome reading partnership that I’ve really valued through the lockdown.

2. The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai. I picked this book off from a ‘Recommended’ shelf at a bookstore in Atlanta over a year ago. I read the first chapter while I was there and then changed gears to something else before returning to it on audio this year. The story was engaging and had a lot of layers to it that blended into a really touching story. I loved Yale and his friends were some of the better-developed characters I read about this year. I love when I get to learn about a historical event through fiction and the AIDS crisis is something I don’t know too much about. This was a really powerful novel.

1. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. I met Lee before I read her book so I was excited about the signed copy I already had when my book club picked this title. I was completely blown away by this book. I fell in love with the characters and sympathized with them through their lives and hardships. The writing was beautiful and graceful. I feared at first that the number of characters would keep me from being able to enjoy the novel as I tried to keep them straight but I didn’t struggle with it like I thought I would. They were each unique and really enjoyable. My book club read this one and really enjoyed it as well.

It was a wonderful year for books, even if it wasn’t the year we expected. I hope you all enjoyed some great books this year, too. 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: Hum If You Don’t Now the Words by Bianca Marais (4/5)

7 Jan

This was a book club pick I wasn’t happy about because there was no audiobook available. With how slow I’ve been on audiobooks, I should have been more excited. When I found out my library didn’t have a copy and I’d have to do an ILL, I wasn’t pleased, but I made due. I’m glad I stuck with this title despite the difficulty of getting my hands on it. It was a gem.

Cover image via Amazon

Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

Summary from Amazon:

Life under Apartheid has created a secure future for Robin Conrad, a ten-year-old white girl living with her parents in 1970s Johannesburg. In the same nation but worlds apart, Beauty Mbali, a Xhosa woman in a rural village in the Bantu homeland of the Transkei, struggles to raise her children alone after her husband’s death. Both lives have been built upon the division of race, and their meeting should never have occurred…until the Soweto Uprising, in which a protest by black students ignites racial conflict, alters the fault lines on which their society is built, and shatters their worlds when Robin’s parents are left dead and Beauty’s daughter goes missing.

After Robin is sent to live with her loving but irresponsible aunt, Beauty is hired to care for Robin while continuing the search for her daughter. In Beauty, Robin finds the security and family that she craves, and the two forge an inextricable bond through their deep personal losses. But Robin knows that if Beauty finds her daughter, Robin could lose her new caretaker forever, so she makes a desperate decision with devastating consequences. Her quest to make amends and find redemption is a journey of self-discovery in which she learns the harsh truths of the society that once promised her protection.

I was a little thrown off at first by Robin’s narration. She was at the same time well-spoken and also naive which I wasn’t ready for. I realize it was Marais’s way of writing a young girl’s voice for an adult audience and once I adjusted to it, I found the humor and enjoyed it. This was a complicated and wonderful story. I know a little about apartheid in South Africa so I had a basic understanding of the setting. Marais did a wonderful job of bringing 1970s Johannesburg to life for someone who’s never been and didn’t live through the time. I wasn’t aware how much the media controlled information to and from the country which struck me the most.

Marais’s characters are exceptions to their time and I think that’s what makes them interesting. I don’t, however, believe they’re giving me a good representation of the time period. We know that Maggie and Wilhemina are exceptional. We know that Edith has seen more of the world and has a broader view of right and wrong than most South Africans. We know that Beauty is more educated than most Black women of the time. Victor’s sexuality makes him a target and makes him want to rise against the oppressive system that keeps him down. They are joined in a fight against the overwhelming majority keeping them underground. While I believe people like them existed and I’m glad they did, I think the book could have been stronger if there were bigoted major characters, not just neighbors and nameless passers-by.

I hope there were people like Beauty in the world at that time. I hope smart, intelligent women were fighting for their families like Beauty did. I hope more women were able to show the whites that they were wrong and that their ideas could be challenged. Her patience was incredible and the way she helped change Robin’s way of thinking with action and truth was incredible. I’d like to hope she wasn’t fiction because she amazed me.

I think Robin’s ways of thinking were challenged much like ideas in America are being challenged today. The BLM movement and the political division in our country are making me wonder why some people think the way they do and questioning the way I think as well. Do I think I’m right because of the media I consume? Have I considered other sides? Robin faced these hard questions at a young age with remarkable grace. I hope we as a nation can do the same.

Bianca Marais
Image via Amazon

Robin’s relationship with Cat was my favorite part of the story. This is a bit of a spoiler so skip this paragraph to avoid that. I had imaginary friends growing up, so I related to Robin here. Mine weren’t as corporal as Cat, but they existed to me all the same. I thought it was interesting how much she insisted on Cat and how aware she was that Cat was imaginary. Her letting go of Cat was very significant. My mom says I sent my imaginary friends home with my Grandparents one day and never mentioned them again. I feel like Robin was more aware of what Cat meant to her and how she had to give her up to grow.

I felt that the ending was a little too perfect. Robin’s ability to show she was ‘woke’ (as we’d say now) seemed to draw just a little bit too perfectly on what Beauty had taught her. Beauty’s illness was timed so perfectly that she and Robin could have a conversation before she became unresponsive. And King George was willing to take an enormous risk for a young girl because she talked to him. All of it was a bit too much for me when it all came together. 

Family has a lot of different meanings. Robin’s family changes in a second and then continues to evolve. The people who come to make up her family care about her and she learns to care about people she never would have considered before. It sounds like a bad joke when you list them by the characteristics that make them unusual in 1970s South Africa (a Jew, a gay man, a Black woman, a young girl). But what makes them different becomes what binds them together. Alone they are scared, but together they are powerful. The title is what Edith says to Robin when she doesn’t know the words to a hymn. It’s about blending in when you’re alone and becoming part of something bigger.

Writer’s Takeaway: The alternating viewpoints worked wonderfully in this book. Robin may see something through a child’s eye but Beauty could ground it in something more serious and vice versa. Their two ways of seeing things didn’t often clash but they would round out the other to really lift the story.

An enjoyable story that I sped through. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1960-1979 time period for the 2021 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!

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: 
Author Interview: Bianca Marais, author of Hum If You Don’t Know the Words | Life Between Pages 
Hum if you don’t know the words by Bianca Marais | A Haven for Book Lovers 
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais | Reading Ladies Book Club 
Wednesdays With Writers: A Smashing Debut from Bianca Marais Explores the Apartheid, Racism, the Soweto Uprising, Motherhood, and So Much More in Hum If You Don’t Know the Words | Leslie A. Lindsay 

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WWW Wednesday, 6-January-2021

6 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: Again, nothing new with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. This will be here a while and I’m really okay with that, no big rush.
I’ve just started Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and am liking it a lot so far! My book club meets next week to talk about it so I don’t think I’ll finish in time, but I’ll get as far as I can and still plan to attend the discussion.
I’ve just begun A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro as well. This is a shorter book so I’m hoping to get through it pretty quickly. I’ve loved and hated Ishiguro books before so I don’t know how this one will go.

Recently finished: I finished A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger at 7:30PM on New Year’s Eve to finish my 2020 When Are You Reading? Challenge! It was a close one to be sure. I’m telling myself it won’t be as close in 2021. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars and posted my review yesterday if you want to check it out.
I started trying to re-normalize my sleep schedule before going back to work and would wake up and lie in bed reading Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais until my husband woke up. It helped me finish it pretty quickly! I plan to post a review soon. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading next: I should be better about my book club selections so I’m sure I’ll start one of those next. My next read is The Bear by Andrew Krivak. I read just the first sentence of the summary and this one sounds great. I’m excited to get into it soon.


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 Review: A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger (3/5)

5 Jan

I needed a final book to wrap up my historical fiction reading challenge. I thought I left myself enough time to read this by starting just after Thanksgiving. Little did I know stomach issues were going to keep me from running or driving to the gym for a few weeks and my progress would slow to a crawl. I just managed to finish this book on New Year’s Eve. And it was mostly thanks to my loving husband not taking failure for an option and forcing me on an hour-long walk where we both listened to books. Thanks, hubs.

Cover image via Amazon

A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger

Summary from Amazon:

London, 1385. Surrounded by ruthless courtiers—including his powerful uncle, John of Gaunt, and Gaunt’s artful mistress, Katherine Swynford—England’s young, still untested king, Richard II, is in mortal peril, and the danger is only beginning. Songs are heard across London—catchy verses said to originate from an ancient book that prophesies the end of England’s kings—and among the book’s predictions is Richard’s assassination.

Only a few powerful men know that the cryptic lines derive from a “burnable book,” a seditious work that threatens the stability of the realm. To find the manuscript, wily bureaucrat Geoffrey Chaucer turns to fellow poet John Gower, a professional trader in information with connections high and low. Gower discovers that the book and incriminating evidence about its author have fallen into the unwitting hands of innocents, who will be drawn into a labyrinthine conspiracy that reaches from the king’s court to London’s slums and stews—and potentially implicates his own son. As the intrigue deepens, it becomes clear that Gower, a man with secrets of his own, may be the last hope to save a king from a terrible fate.

The book seemed to be a bit too long for me. It dragged near the beginning, which is a bad place to drag. I didn’t get invested in the action until it picked up and by then, my time was diminishing and I just had to race through the book. I feel like as much of the plot development I remember from the last two days reading this book was in the rest of the book. That’s not very well-weighted. With a thriller, you expect a fast-paced ending, but I wasn’t expecting the slow beginning.

Holsinger had characters from a variety of social classes in Medieval England. His knowledge of the era shone well. I liked the maudlin a lot, they had a lot of character and I thought it was funny how integrated they were with the other levels of society. It was a good way to bring together such a wide variety of people in the mystery.

Milicent was my favorite for her ability to move between groups of people and how she was able to blend in. She was refined from her time as a mistress but when she was distressed and her low-born accent and way of speaking came out, I laughed because it showed how much she’d learned to put on airs. She was very smart and she loved her sister very much. She really had a heart of gold.

No single character was particularly relatable to me, but I liked a lot of them because I could see admirable traits in them. Maybe that was why I thought this book read slowly. It’s hard for me to pinpoint why.

Bruce Holsinger
Image via Goodreads

The ending of the book, from St. Dunston’s Day to the end, was the most exciting. Most of the book built to St. Dunston’s Day and I thought the scene was handled well and the way it wrapped up was exciting and kept me on the edge of my seat. I just wish there could have been some similar moments in the middle.

The middle, from Agnes and Milicent going on the run until St. Dunston’s Day, was a big drag for me. I felt like I was floundering with the characters, jerking the book around but learning nothing new. It felt like it was dragging just to reach the celebration when I think it would have been better if the story started closer to the climax date. It just dragged and dragged for me and couldn’t pick up.

Simon Vance read the audiobook and he’s a narrator I’ve liked a lot in the past. I thought he did well with this story, keeping me involved and using a lot of subtle voice work to bring the characters to life. I hope to be listening to another work of his in the near future since I do enjoy his readings.

In the end, the book seemed to boil down to twisting someone’s words and how powerful words could be. The book was altered several times in several copies that eventually made it so John could solve the mystery and trace back to the culprit. It’s not surprising to read a book about the power of words. Writers, myself included, have a powerful love for words and like to explore what that power can do and how it can affect others. 

Writer’s Takeaway: Writing a mystery is incredibly complicated, something I haven’t been brave enough to take on. The mystery part of this book was well done and enjoyable. During the large reveals, I was saying aloud “Oh, that makes so much sense!” and smacking my forehead for not connecting dots earlier. While I didn’t like the pacing of the mystery in this case, the web itself was well woven.

Overall enjoyable though some parts could have been edited down significantly. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the (final) 1300-1499 time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge 2020.

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: 
A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger | Read the World 
Entry 5: A Burnable Book (John Gower #1) | Sweaters and Raindrops 

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Challenge Update, December 2020

4 Jan

I’m so thankful that 2020 is over. Let’s hope that 2021 doesn’t have similar surprises in store for us. At least it was a good year for reading. 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 December:

Golden Glow // Kaitlin Sandeno and Dan D’Addona (3/5)
The Cather in the Rye // J.D. Salinger (3/5)
A Burnable Book // Bruce Holsinger (3/5)

Not a lot, but it was enough. I cut it really close, too. Only starting the year one review behind.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/12
I finished the final book at 7:30pm on New Year’s Eve. Nothing like cutting it close, right? I was cooking dinner and wrapped up A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger to fill the 1300-1499 time period, my last one remaining for the year. I’ll have to be a bit more diligent next year, I don’t want to cut it this close again!

Goodreads Challenge

59/55
I’d finished last month, so this was just extra icing on a delicious cake.

Book of the Month

Yikes, all three of the books got 3 Stars from me this month. I guess I’d pick A Burnable Book by Bruce Holsinger. I waffled between Three and Four Stars for this one, so it could really be 3.5 if I did halves. It wasn’t bad, I think it just dragged more than I’d hoped it would.

Added to my TBR

I’m down again to 43 and I didn’t add any this time! I’m shocked with myself.

How did your challenges go? I hope you finished the year well. If you’re interested in the When Are You Reading? Challenge for 2021, I’m hosting again so you can click here to learn more and let me know if you want in.

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.