Archive | February, 2021

Off-Topic Thursday: Little Turtle

25 Feb

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. It feels like a good time to get back to it, though. Things have been a little crazy the last few months at work and with my personal life and it’s good to take a step back and share some good news with everyone.

My husband and I are thrilled to announce we’re welcoming a baby in early August! This is our first child and we’re very much looking forward to this. We told our parents at Christmas and started telling friends in late January and early February. Now the cat’s out of the bag.

We’re just starting to get the nursery ready. We had some friends help move some furniture around and my parents brought over the crib my dad made when I was a baby. My favorite reading chair is now going to be my favorite nursing chair. We’ll have to do some more shopping soon, but we’re just thrilled to be this far so quickly.

I’m in my second trimester and feeling a million times better than I did in December and January. I had bad nausea, digestion problems, and fatigue for three weeks that kept me very home-bound. I’ve started swimming again now and I’m almost back to eating spicy foods. My weirdest cravings have been fried chicken sandwiches. We’re not finding out the sex of the baby so we’re starting to think of names for whichever way this turns out.

I’m very lucky to have a number of close friends who have young babies or who are also pregnant that I’m sharing this with and learning from. One friend with a six-month-old has offered us use of some of her things if we don’t want to buy our own. We’ve had meaningful conversations with many people about cloth diapers. We’re really just excited and I have to say I’m also a bit anxious about the next five months.

So if I disappear for a bit in August, please forgive me. I’ll try to schedule some WWWs ahead in case I can’t get on here to post for a few weeks. I plan to keep the blog moving, though a few things might look a little different after the baby comes. I hope it loves books as much as I do.

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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WWW Wednesday, 24-February-2021

24 Feb

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 read about a chapter of Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono while waiting at the pool. I think this is pretty steady progress so I’m happy with how this is going, even though it’s very slow.
On hold with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green. Stand by.
I might not finish Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe before my hold is due. I’m trying my hardest, but time is working against me. I put a physical copy on reserve at my library in case I don’t finish in hopes I can wrap up the last few chapters in print before my book club meets.
I’m racing the clock on Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson as well. I hope I can finish this one before it’s due because I don’t think I can renew it.

Recently finished: I’m disappointed that there’s nothing here for a second week in a row. I’m just hoping I can break this trend next week.

Reading next: My reading buddy and I finally decided on our next book which will be The Vanishing Half by Britt Bennett. We went back and forth with some lists and finally settled on this one. I know almost nothing about it except that it’s gotten amazing reviews and I’m excited to discover why.

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 Bear by Andrew Krivak

22 Feb

My book club met recently to read a book I was not a fan of, The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Krivak was a National Book Award finalist for another book, The Sojourn, and is working on another book. One of our readers did a book club for his other book and Krivak joined the discussion! She said he was very nice and spoke about his time as a Jesuit. He’s published a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit order called The Long Retreat. We could see some contemplative reflections in this book that many felt were in line with a monk’s life. Krivak has said he made up a story for his children about a talking bear and that inspired the bear in this novel. He also said he was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road which another reader had guessed before our leader volunteered this information.

Our group had divided opinions on this book. Some loved it, a few (like me) hated it, and many were in the middle. Those of us who didn’t know it was going to be a fable were more on the ‘dislike’ side. A few readers had found the audiobook version and opinions there were split between love and hate as well.

The setting was never made very clear. Some felt it was Colorado while others thought Appalachia was more likely. Readers not knowing a lot about what was happening was reflective of the characters not knowing a lot, either. They had such minimal contact with other humans that there was a lot unspoken and unknown in their world. This book was described as a ‘quiet survivalist’ story. It was harrowing because of the girl’s personal struggle, but there wasn’t a community or society that was falling apart.

We thought the book would have been different if the child had been a boy and not a girl. We couldn’t exactly articulate what, but the ways the girl seemed to want to understand her late mother seemed to call on gender lines and wanting to be more like another woman. However, it the world started with Adam, maybe it was fitting that it should end with Eve. We found it odd that the father was so careful in everything he did and all the preparations that he made. Yet he was so reckless when exploring the old house. It was the only time he was impulsive and it spelled his ending. The bear was like her father once he showed up. In one of the girl’s dreams, she thinks she sees her dad but it ends up being the bear. We wondered if the bear was part of her grieving process for her dad’s death.

The book focused on re-establishing a connection with nature. Man is an animal, like all others in nature. However, many of us felt that paying attention to the trees and nature doesn’t have to mean talking to them, and this went a bit far. It was more about learning from nature and how to survive from the animals that do it already.

I was glad to meet up with this group, even if I didn’t like the book very much. It’s always great to talk to other book lovers. 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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WWW Wednesday, 17-February-2021

17 Feb

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 got into the pool quickly this week so almost no progress on Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono. Maybe I’ll have some ‘better luck’ in this next week.
Still nothing with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green since I have it on hold. I’m sure I’ll get back to it soon.
I’m loving Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe. I find every excuse to put it on and listen because I find it fascinating hearing about the political force of the IRA. I’d always been told it was a terrorist group but it’s clear the soldiers for the IRA would be infuriated to hear this.
I’m eager to get through Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson before it’s due to the library. I hope I can find enough time to get through it!

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. I was at the beginning of a lot of books last week so no real surprise.

Reading next: I’ll have to make some decisions next week about what to put here, but I’m going to hold off one more week. I think book club selections may come up soon so I may have to adjust.

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: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

15 Feb

This is much delayed, but I’m finally ready to write my Book Club Reflection for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche! I have to apologize for the delay since I did finish the book a few weeks ago. I wanted to delay writing this post until after I got through the end of the book but then I put it off too long after. I’ll be writing soon about my delays in posting so you all can get an update on my life. But for now, let’s dive into this complex book.

Adichie has done a few TED Talks that our organizer is a big fan of. Here are links to two, The danger of a single story and We should all be feminists. I’m still making my way through them but have enjoyed her way of speaking so far. Adiche started school in Nigeria, much like Ifemelu, and transferred to the US, first studying in Philadelphia and then Connecticut. Her tone is very funny and humorous and her perspective on American culture is a source of laughter. She was quoted once saying she was surprised people didn’t find it as funny as she thought it was. One of our readers found the book too long and a bit dry though most loved it, despite the length. We felt the book was about a lot of things. It was clearly about race and racism but it’s also about sex and sexism, the migrant experience, the strength of first love, and returning home. If you’ve read my review, you know that I think there was too much in this book and I think this list of themes highlights that.

The title of the book comes from the nickname Nigerians give to those who have lived in America and return with some Americanized ideas and inclinations. We found it was very interesting that for so much of the book, Ifemelu was sitting at the salon, getting her hair done. Apparently, this was done on purpose, to emphasize the culture surrounding African hair and how much time is put into maintaining a hairstyle. One thing that surprised us in the book was that Adichie comments many times about the quality of Nigerian schools being so much better than American novels. Ifemelu is shocked at Dike’s school experience and how much she feels it is lacking compared to her own grade school. With Adiche’s and Ifemelu’s decisions to come to college in the US, this was a bit inconsistent with some of the other messages in the book. The ending was a bit abrupt, one reader called it a cliffhanger. We all agreed that it was very suspenseful until the end because you were waiting to hear what happened between Obinze and Ifemelu.

There were a few themes that came up often. The blog posts that Ifemelu has in the book were a good way to talk about topics that might have been difficult to address in the novel without that forum. Many of the relationships in the book involved women pursuing men for financial reasons. Auntie Ouju’s first marriage in the US was someone she didn’t love, but she felt she needed to be married. Obinze’s wife clearly wanted to be with him for money as well. It made Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship stick out. As Americans, many of us found it off-putting that weight comes up a lot in descriptions and conversation. Adichie does comment on this, about how weight is a bigger taboo in the US, and Americans are less comfortable talking about weight and pointing out when someone’s weight is higher than what we think it should be.

One of the biggest themes in the book was about being Black and what that means. Ifemelu says a few times that she wasn’t Black in Africa. The Nigerians divided themselves by culture or nation, not by the colors of the skin. She wasn’t Black until she came to the US. Ifemelu decides to label herself as Nigerian, not Black. But she realizes that others were going to decide she was Black without her opinion being considered. America wanted to pigeonhole her and put a label on her even if she didn’t identify with it.

Auntie Ouju and Dike were some of our favorite characters in the book. Auntie Ouju had redemption in her arc. She learned things, regretted them, and made her own way in a world that wasn’t making it easy for her. Dike had a hard time growing up with her, however. While Auntie Ouju is an adult when she’s having the identity crisis that Ifemelu blogs about. Dike is a child when he’s having this crisis and it’s harder for him than his mother seems to realize. Some felt that Dike’s suicide attempt came out of nowhere. Some of us felt that felt like he didn’t have an identity. His peers thought he was an American Black and his mother saw him as African and we felt these identities were hard for him to balance. Many felt that his visit to Nigeria was very healing because it allowed him to feel like he fit in finally and see where his mother came from and helped explained her expectations and behavior. Dike and Ifemelu were very close, more than most cousins, and we were glad they had this good relationship.

Obinze and Ifemelu’s relationship was a very central part of the book. One reader felt it was a very unhealthy relationship. There was a lot of physical and emotional cheating due to trauma that the characters had suffered. Another thought it was admirable. Obinze admired Ifemelu’s because of her intelligence and what she was capable of on her own. After finishing the book, I think I have to agree with the first reader.

I’m glad I was still able to participate in this discussion, even if I didn’t understand it all at the time. It was good to revisit my notes after I’d finished it. 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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WWW Wednesday, 10-February-2021

10 Feb

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 is a thing again. So I’ve made decent progress with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono this week. I’m starting to swim a little more so I hope I can keep this up. I’m about 1/4 done.
I’m paused with Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green while I work through some library holds, but I’ll be coming back to it soon!
I started Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe on audio and I’m loving it! I wish I’d read this before I visited Belfast in 2019 because I think it would have given me a lot more insight into the city (my focus was the Titanic museum and we didn’t have time for a Black Cab tour). This is for book club and I’ve got my fingers crossed that I finish it in time.
I got my hold of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson and I’m optimistic I’ll finish it before I have to return it in early March. The Dummies books tend to be pretty fast reads for me. I’m hoping this can help me get writing again, too. Or at least submitting.

Recently finished: I finished up Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie late last week and was able to post my review yesterday. I’ll have a delayed book club reflection up tomorrow. Please go check out my review and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading next: Nothing right now. I’m so early in all my books that it seems a bit to early to think ahead. I just hope I can finish them all in a timely manner. I do need a new Buddy Read if anyone has suggestions for that.

Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

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: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4/5)

9 Feb

I read this book too slowly. I started the audiobook later than I intended to in order to meet an end-of-year challenge deadline and I missed being anywhere close to finishing it by my book club meeting. With no pressure to finish it, I slowed down even more and took almost a month longer than the meeting before I finished it. It’s not that the book was bad, but it was long. And without commutes, running, or much of anything going on, audiobooks are not a fast medium for me.

Cover image via Amazon

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary from Amazon:

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.

Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

In the end, I was left a bit confused by this book. On one hand, it’s about race in America and Ifemelu’s observations of race and reflections on how it affects people. On the other hand, it’s a love story about two people living in Nigeria, where they clearly say race is not a factor. While these are both good stories, they’re not very well related, yet they live together in this book. I liked both stories, I enjoyed the insights about love and race, but it felt disconnected to me which took away from my overall enjoyment.

Ifemelu and Obinze were amazing characters and I loved them both. I felt like Ifemelu was more the main character and her story was a lot stronger. Her life in America, the life she formed for herself and the way she observed American culture was great. I laughed a lot at her blog posts, both her tone and her bold observations. I liked the ways she navigated America and I felt the hardships she faced were very real and I understood why she felt the way she did about my culture.

Obinze surprised me the most. I was a bit surprised when he decided to move to the UK. I would have understood better if he’d gone for school, but going to work seemed weird to me. If he had a job lined up, something that was going to pay well, that was one thing. But going to work whatever job he could, it seemed he would have been better off in Nigeria. I was a bit surprised by his sudden success because the lifestyle it afforded him seemed out of line with the character we’d learned up until that point. It was clear he wasn’t chasing that life, but I didn’t expect him to be so comfortable in it.

I didn’t relate to a character, but I related to the America Ifemelu described. I saw my city and my school and even myself in her observations. I realized things that I had accepted as ‘standard’ that need to be challenged. I realized how funny certain ‘normal’ things might seem to someone on the outside. I learned to laugh at myself and get why I need to open my eyes and realize that what I consider OK might need to change.

Ifemelu’s blog posts were my favorite part of the story. I think the men she dated in America made it easier for her to make some of the observations she did and that might have helped her write it (and been a bit convenient for the writer). Curt’s wealth got her into parts of society most people can’t even imagine. It also showcased white privilege and prejudices as old as America. Her relationship with Blane let her give a commentary on the Black American experience and contrasted with her time with Curt. I would have liked if she had some more friends to help create these dichotomies but the resulting observations were wonderful anyway.

The end of the book wasn’t great for me (spoilers ahead). I was happy when she and Obinze got back together, but I was reserved about it as well. I didn’t like that he was married and how she accepted this at first, being okay with her role as a mistress. I didn’t like how she would ignore the truth. She had come really far in her self-realization journey and this seemed like a major step back. And I found it hard to believe she was going to be comfortable with their arrangement long term. It seemed like a sudden ending no one was going to be happy living with.

The audiobook was narrated by Adjoa Andoh who did an amazing job. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of her American accents, which came off as a bit nasal, but I could ignore it for the beautiful voices she gave all the other characters. Her voices helped me keep the cast of characters separate and enjoy the story being told to me. I’d listen to another book read by her in a heartbeat.

Race was clearly the main theme of this book, even if it didn’t fit well with the overall plot of Ifemelu and Obinze. The observations Ifemelu makes about race and racial relations in America take over the book and the long period of time she spends in America, becoming the titular Americanah, dominates the length of the book. Dike’s story really highlights the experiences she talks about. His experience is more similar to an American-born Black because of his appearance and he is subjected to prejudice and injustice throughout his childhood. Yet at home, his mother holds different ideas of identity and sees him and herself as different from American-born Blacks. His first-generation immigrant experience isn’t like those who have different external appearances because his is tinged by racial assumptions. He was a great character in this book to help highlight this experience.

Writer’s Takeaway: Adichie is known to be outspoken about feminism and race. Using a novel to share this was a great medium, though it seemed a bit heavy-handed at times. Ifemelu’s story in America was great on its own and Ifemelu and Obinze’s love story was great on its own. Combining them was a bit too much for me and I think contributed to the length of this book and a bit of a rushed ending. Maybe this would have been better as two books.

An enjoyable read though a bit too much for one title. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 2000-Present 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.

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Book Club Reflection: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

8 Feb

My book club got together a few weeks ago to discuss Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. Be warned, spoilers ahead! I had enjoyed this book until the end and I was glad that most of my fellow readers liked it as well. One disliked the alternating narrators but enjoyed the story overall. A few did agree with me that the ending was a bit contrived and too many convenient things seemed to happen. After a book that had a relatively slow pace, the ending happened very fast and was a bit rushed. One reader felt that this book came off like a bit of a Nancy Drew story from Robin’s perspective and felt that was a disservice to apartheid and the horrible things that happened under the laws. With today’s political climate in America, many of us drew parallels to the Black Likes Matter movement and the push for rights and recognition that we’re still seeing today.

Robin and Beauty both craved a human connection throughout the story. After Robin lost her parents, she needed to connect to someone. Mable was the only person she thought was left in her life and she abandoned Robin. Beauty was missing her daughter and we felt Robin reminded her of a young Nomsa. Having Robin to care for gave her a second chance at motherhood and she felt she could fix any mistakes she might have made. Robin’s need to connect with Beauty was why he hit the note. She was being defensive of the love the two had formed and Robin wanted to keep it at all costs, even if it was denying Beauty of the one thing she wanted most.

Kat was a surprising element to the book. Many of us were surprised when she wasn’t real. Kat was a great sounding board for Robin. Kat let her cry and have emotions without showing them. Her mother discouraged her from showing her emotions and Kat was a coping mechanism for that. We saw a parallel between Jolene and Edith and Robin and Kat. The sisters were very different but that didn’t stop them from loving each other.

The title was such a short line in the book that we got talking about why Marais would choose it for her title. It spoke to figuring out how to keep going when you were lost. It was about blending in, faking it until you fit in, and getting through to the next thing. As one reader said, “Go along and get along.”

I’m not sure I’ll get a copy of our next book in time for the discussion so I might be missing a month of this group. Fingers crossed it comes in early and I can try. Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 3-February-2021

3 Feb

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: Nothing new with Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono this week. I might have to find a time I can read a few pages in the morning so I can keep making my way through this one. The lines at the pool are getting shorter so that’s not a good time anymore.
I think this is my last week with Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. My 20 minutes in the morning is helping me get through it fast and I’m so glad to finally be in what I feel is the final stretch.
I’ve barely started Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green. I honestly can’t give much of an opinion on it yet but I’m looking forward to anything John Green has written.

Recently finished: My reading buddy and I wrapped up Octavia Butler’s Kindred by Damian Duffy and John Jennings over the weekend. My full thoughts will be up tomorrow (I hope). We’re debating what book to grab next and I’m not really sure what we’re in the mood for, but I don’t think we’ll do another graphic novel . This wasn’t good for a buddy read format because it was hard to take notes and it read so fast that we were meeting twice per week.

Reading next: I’m holding for Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson. The mail in my area has been horrible since December and since these are sent via mail to my library, it could be a while before I get my copy.

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: Octavia Butler’s Kindred adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (3/5)

2 Feb

This was my first foray into the graphic novel. My reading buddy and I had decided to read Kindred and the graphic novel and paperback were comparable prices at our bookstore so we decided to try something new with a graphic novel. I’m not sure I’d recommend the format for a discussion the way we do (virtual at least 4 times during the story). It would be better for a solo read.

Cover image via Amazon

Octavia Butler’s Kindred adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

Summary from Amazon:

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

This story was very moving and really powerful. I’ve read stories about American slavery before and most of the ones I remember were told from the slaveholder’s point of view. Having a Black character tell the story was much more powerful. Dana was great for telling this story because she made it easier to compare the treatment of Blacks in the 1970s to slaves in the 1800s. She lived in both worlds and learned how to survive. Having a white partner made it an even more stark contrast and I liked how Butler included Kevin for this. The images in the book were really striking. My reading buddy and I liked the color selections, where the 1970s was monochromatic while the 1800s was in full color and much more vivid.

I thought a lot of the characters were good reflections of their time. Dana and Kevin were progressive, even for their era, but didn’t come off as unrealistic. I think the ways they acted in the 1800s were believable, too. They had to learn to temper their gut reactions to things to realize what life was like on a plantation. I think Rufus and the people who lived on the plantation were credible characters for their time as well. Sarah was the one I felt for the most. She’d really suffered at the hands of the Weilyns and her protective feelings over Carrie were understandable and realistic. She was a really strong woman.

Dana was my favorite character and it made reading her story more enjoyable. She was smart and very resourceful. I was scared for her when she would travel but I knew she was smart enough to survive whatever was coming her way. Watching her adapt was terrifying and inspiring at the same time.

There wasn’t really a character I related to in this story and it didn’t prevent me from enjoying it. What’s enjoyable about this story is that the characters are in a situation that is impossible to imagine. Time travel’s unreality makes it fascinating to see what would happen if the impossible were possible and think what would happen to people in those crazy situations.

Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Image via the University of Illinois

[Small spoiler ahead.] Dana’s travel back to find Kevin was my favorite. On top of the story with Rufus, I was anxious about the two of them being reunited. It added a level of suspense on top of the mystery and horror of her situation that I thought made for a really compelling section of the story.

[Bigger spoiler alert ahead.] The ending of the book was a bit too rushed for my liking. After Dana returns from her last trip, things wrapped up almost too quickly. She seemed to move on from a very traumatizing situation very quickly and Kevin was supportive but I got a feeling he was also telling her to move on. We know that Alice is a relative because of a family bible but now she can’t find anything about her relatives. Their names are in the Bible so I felt that would have been the perfect place to start. I turned the last page expecting more and was a bit disappointed.

The illustrations were well done and helped me visualize the story well. The scenes of violence and abuse I found particularly moving and hard to look at because of their impact. I liked Dana’s depiction a lot and felt the way she was dressed was a great contrast to the 1800s which kept her from blending in and kept the focus on her.

It’s hard to comment on the adaptation without having read the original novel. A part of me still wants to read it (or listen to the audiobook). I know adaptations usually have to take out a lot of the story and I wonder how much I missed by reading the adaptation. I also wonder how much richer my idea of the Weylin plantation is because of the images.

Butler’s story brings the atrocities of slavery into a modern perspective. Instead of a historical fiction story where all characters have a mindset of the time, Kevin and Dana bring a more relatable perspective to the time and give opinions similar to those of the modern reader. Having a Black main character highlights those differences when Dana can compare the way she’s treated at work and by her husband with the way she’s treated the second she arrives in the 1800s. This story is powerful. The graphic novel adaptation really highlights the experience Dana is having. You can’t forget the bruises and scars she has when they’re in every frame.

Writer’s Takeaway: The profile of Butler in the book highlights that she wrote this book because she couldn’t find a science fiction book with a Black female main character. She wanted to be able to see herself in the main character. This is so reflective of the push now to have minority voices published more often. Butler took her own life experiences and poured them into a story that gives a powerful look at a time period that’s often written about. This also encourages me to continue to ‘write what I know.’ Butler’s familiarity with Dana shows and makes her very powerful.

An enjoyable story that I feel suffered slightly from being adapted. I’m not sure graphic novels are a format for me. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1800-1899 time period for the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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