Archive | Books RSS feed for this section

WWW Wednesday, 16-August-2017

16 Aug

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.


**So, it’s worth noting that I am AGAIN out-of-town and writing this quite in advance. Hey, it’s the summer and I’m going to take my vacation while I can! I may be a bit slow in responding but I am around and in the country this time. Send me some love while I explore NEW ORLEANS! I’m going to try to hit up a few bookstores here to report back.

Currently reading: Moderate progress on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. Probably some of my best progress in months, actually. It’s nice having time to read during lunch again! I think I’m about 2/3 of the way through and I’ll keep pushing forward.
New books for this list! The first is a new audiobook, The Millionaires by Brad Meltzer. Before I met Meltzer a few years back, I was at a church used book sale and picked up a few of his books, including this one. I’m listening to the audio to get to it sooner than I would my paper copy. So far, he’s delivering on the fast-paced thriller!
I also got to start Chemistry by Weike Wang! I’m really hoping to do an author interview with this book as I knew Wang in high school. If you want to read more about that, check out this post.

Recently finishedI finished I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum while cooking last Wednesday and I’ve been waiting a week to tell you all. I enjoyed it, but not for the reasons I expected to. It was sad but I could have known that if I read book summaries. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished
 Empire Falls by Richard Russo on Friday. I knew this book was going to come to a quick end and I kind-of saw it coming, but I still gasped out loud near the end! I think I woke my husband up from his nap. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars. I also plan to have this review up next week.

Many of you have commented on it, but I posted a review of Commonwealth by Ann Patchett last Thursday. Please go check it out if you haven’t yet and let me know what you think! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: As of writing, I think my next book will still be The Sellout by Paul Beatty. This might change just before I leave on my trip, though! I got invited to a conference that would interfere with me attending the book club meeting on this book. As much as I’m looking forward to it, I’ll skip the book if I can’t make the meeting and read something off my TBR instead. If that’s the case, I’ll probably pick My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It’s at the top of my TBR books that I own. Or I might grab something from the library before I leave. I’ll have to report back next week.


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

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Club Reflection: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

15 Aug

My book club met when I returned from my trip and we talked about a book I greatly enjoyed, Commonwealth. Unfortunately, we were deeply divided on how we felt about the book. There were some who, like me, loved the book, and others who felt the best part was the cover flaps that could serve as bookmarks.

One common complaint we could all agree on was that there were too many characters. This became very obvious in the final chapter but even before then, it was a lot to keep track of. We all agreed some could have been deleted, like Father Mike and Beverly’s sister (whose name we didn’t even remember). Some readers felt that none of the characters were easy to relate to while some of us liked Theresa and Franny. One positive we could all agree on was that the time jumps were well done.

The title had a few meanings. The most obvious was a reference to the Commonwealth of Virginia. The second would be an allusion to the book Leon wrote. We felt that it took another definition, in this case referring to a group coming and working together.

The kids took care of themselves. Theresa was involved in her career and Beverly and Bert were involved in each other or themselves, never really paying attention to the kids. When Cal died, it proved that they’d failed at raising each other.

The two families did end up very close to each other. We found three solid examples of the families caring for each other. First was Albie’s involvement in Franny and Leon’s relationship. He cared for her a lot to point out what he saw as problems in their relationship. The second was Franny, Caroline, and Fix taking care of Theresa. This was the most obvious one to me and I thought it really highlighted their relationship well. The third was the close of the book when Franny went to visit Bert.

I felt so bad for Kumar at Beverly’s party. It must have been so demeaning but he took it like a champ. I was furious when Franny left him alone and went to visit Bert. Someone pointed out that it was paralleled to Franny at the beach house with Leon. Leon’s friends treated her like the help and Leon did next to nothing to help out. I would have liked to see her grow from that experience, but it was ironic to see the repetition.

The book Leon wrote was almost therapeutic for the family. It allowed Albie a way to talk about what had happened, a way for things to come into the open that had been ignored for so long before then I think the title as a reference to the book is appropriate, but I still like the community definition as a reason for it all.

It was fun to talk about this book with my club. Our next book is a title I read and reviewed a few years ago so I’m not going to re-read it. Get ready for a surprise and give me your best guess. I’ll give you one clue, it was a controversy when it came out.

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (4/5)

10 Aug

My only other exposure to Ann Patchett had been nonfiction so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this book. I liked the nonfiction, don’t get me wrong, but writers are very different when telling stories versus recounting them. It was a book club pick so I knew I was going to read it anyway!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Other books by Ann Patchett reviewed on this blog:

Truth and Beauty (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

This book was a fast read for me. I was in the middle of it when it came time to leave for my Pacific Northwest vacation so I quickly got the book on CD, burned it to my phone, and let myself enjoy it while running in Seattle. The switch from reading a paper copy to listening to someone else read to me was a bit jarring at first, but I grew to really enjoy the story and how it was read to me. I liked the story, it didn’t bother me that it was a character-driven novel, and I thought the time jumps were well done. It’s a book where it’s hard to put your finger on exactly why you enjoyed it, but it’s easy to say that you loved it.

The characters were well-developed and I liked them. Well, not all of them, but a lot of them. These were people I could have a drink with, people who could explain their lives to me and I would be touched and believe them. These were real people and I applaud Patchett for creating them when they felt real enough to touch.

I liked Franny. She made mistakes like the rest of her siblings, but she also owned up to them. She was very much a mother figure, even to her older sister at times, and for sure to all the Cousins kids. I’m glad so much of the book focused on her and I think her relationship with her father was one of the best in the book. She was the bookends of this book: her christening started it and her visit to Bert ended it.

I think Albie’s experiences are very relatable. As kids, there’s a lot that intentionally goes over our heads. There are things parents don’t tell us and things we don’t know to ask about. I think Albie felt like this through much of his life. He knew that he was somehow involved in Cal’s death but didn’t understand what had happened and was too confused to ask.

Ann Patchett
Image via Alchetron

I loved the opening scene of the book. The first chapter set up the rest of the story and it made for a great read. Figuring out the adult characters before moving to the children was a great introduction to this book and a great way of feeling out how the adults were going to act the rest of the book. You got a great sense of Fix and an immediate dislike for Bert. Theresa was purposefully left out of the scene which is telling for later in life.

The ending bothered me. It was the first time I really thought about a relationship between Bert and Franny. He is her ex-step-father so visiting him as a way of getting away from your mother and husband seemed odd to me at first. But, I had to realize, that man raised her. Or rather, was a ‘Bert’ version of a father, meaning he was probably absent a lot of the time. It didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book to me.

I only listened to the last 1/3 of this book on audio, having read the first part. The audiobook was narrated by Hope Davis and it took some adjusting for me only because I wasn’t ready for another voice to read me that story. It had been the voice in my head so it was a jarring change. After about a half hour, I adjusted fine and enjoyed the reading. Davis reads like she’s telling her best friend the story and this book did well in that style.

The Keatings and Cousins had to redefine family. Beverly and Bert were absent parents. Theresa was fighting to survive while Fix was desperate to be a father. The children had to raise each other and in the case of Albie, they failed for a long time. Later in life, the families are further complicated by distance, marriage, separation, and children so that some people seem to fall away and some fall into the fold. Franny experiences this with her latest stepfather’s family at the end, but she’s been through it as well.

Writer’s Takeaway: The only thing this book was lacking for me was some direction. It’s the story of a family, to be sure, but what happens to that family is unclear. They drift apart, but not all of them. Some of them come together. But others leave. And some are pushed out. It’s really unclear what the ending of this book wraps up. It’s beautifully written and I enjoyed the ride, I just wish I knew where I got off.

This book is a high precedent for Patchett’s fiction. I’m looking forward to others. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts:
“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett | Fictionophile
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett | the book stop
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett | Book Addiction

WWW Wednesday, 9-August-2017

9 Aug

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: Another slow week on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I think I read a chapter? Maybe? Whatever it was, it’s not that impressive. If I have a big week with this one, you’ll all hear about it!
I had a lot of running time with I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum which I’ve enjoyed. I don’t always turn it on in the car if it’s a short drive so I’m sure I could get through more of this but my pace is working well for me!
I’m getting close to the end of Empire Falls by Richard Russo. I really hope I can add this one to my ‘finished’ list next week because I’m itching to pick up my next read!

Recently finished: Another week of not finishing anything for me. I think I’ll knock down two before next week, though!

I am making progress with reviews, though! You can check out my review of A Son of the Circus by John Irving which went up Monday. I have another review coming at y’all tomorrow!

 

Reading Next: I’m determined to pick up Chemistry by Weike Wang before I read my next book club selection,  The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I think I’ll have time due to the short book and my eagerness to get to it!


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

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: A Son of the Circus by John Irving (2/5)

7 Aug

This book should have been perfect for me. It’s by John Irving and it’s about circuses, two things I love. Unfortunately, in Irving fashion, the book’s separate story lines didn’t start intersecting until halfway through (300 pages in for this book) and the Circus in the title was not a big focus of the book. Combine those with me taking a hiatus from reading it half way through, and this book was kind of disappointing to me.

Cover image via Goodreads

A Son of the Circus by John Irving

Other books by John Irving reviewed on this blog:

In One Person (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

Born a Parsi in Bombay, sent to university and medical school in Vienna, Dr. Farrokh Daruwalla is a 59-year-old orthopedic surgeon and a Canadian citizen who lives in Toronto. Periodically, the doctor returns to Bombay, where most of his patients are crippled children.

Once, 20 years ago, Dr. Daruwalla was the examining physician of two murder victims in Goa. Now, 20 years later, he will be reacquainted with the murderer.

I think there were some basic problems with this book that kept me from enjoying it. The first is how long it is. At 600+ pages, this wasn’t a quick read. The entire first half of the book is told in flash backs that Farrokh goes through during one day. The timeline will progress thirty minutes before we’re thrust back 30 years to John D’s childhood or the history of the Duckworth Club or something else that seems inconsequential to the plot, which is dragging along. In the second half of the book, some of these things start to come full circle, but many of them are never brought back up. Farrokh’s relationship with the Catholic Church is mentioned several times, but there’s no definitive conclusion. The central plot, which really begins in the last quarter of the book, is compelling and I thought Rahul was a great character. I wish side plots, even the circus involved one, had been left out. Irving tried to do far too much with this book and I think it failed as a result.

John Irving characters are hard to believe and there were several in this novel I didn’t believe. Nancy was a contradiction, both too nervous to do anything and very bold in how she attracted her husband. John D lacked a personality completely as the man never seemed to stop acting. I struggled to connect with any characters; perhaps Police Inspector Patel and Julia were the most understandable to me. Veronica Rose was hard to like (I doubt anyone reading this does) to the point where I didn’t believe her. This is usually my chief complaint about Irving novels, but I still read them anyway.

Farrokh was a good narrator for this story. He had a strong connection with all the main players: Rahul, John D, Martin Mills, and Vinod. Without switching narrators, we were given the story from several angles. I stand by my earlier complaint that there were too many plot lines, though. There could have easily been less about Nancy, Martin Mills, and even Inspector Dhar. Farrokh seemed to be a reasonable person, though, and recognized when there was something ridiculous going on in his life and react to it the way I would. I appreciated this with all of the radical events.

Police Inspector Patel seemed one of the most relatable characters in the story. He realized how ridiculous the people around him were and how his life was made more complicated by people’s insistence on following traditions and inability to do basic things. His constant frustration with his clerical staff was something I could appreciate. His love for Nancy was really admirable, too. Overall, I think he was the most likable character in the story.

John Irving
Image via the author’s website

My favorite plotline was Rahul. They mystery, murder, and the slow reveal of Rahul’s personality was fun to read and follow. The twists were good and it had a solid ending to it. I still wish this had been the only major plotline.

My least favorite plot line was John D and Martin Mills. I didn’t see how it contributed to the story at all. Martin was a caricature of a Jesuit and as a Catholic, I found most of the priests in this book a bit insulting. The story of the twins, them meeting, and all Martin’s shenanigans were completely pointless in the book and even the end of the twins’ stories didn’t contribute much to the book. I really wish this had been left completely out.

I struggled to find a continuous theme in this book. At first, I thought it would be Farrokh reflecting on his past mistakes but, half way through, the flashbacks stopped. Then I thought it would be about catching Rahul, but the two orphans were a big part of the plot. I was really confused what all of this had to do with each other besides Farrokh being involved in it all. His screenplays seemed to have something to do with it. He wanted to mature as a writer, to write about something that ‘mattered’ and wasn’t meant to upset people. Farrokh was growing into someone who was considerate and wanted to say something ‘real.’ To be honest, that’s all I got out of this one.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this could easily have been split into multiple books. Each would have been more impactful (and easier to fit in my carry-on luggage) than all of these plotlines combined into one. It’s important to have a book focus. While subplots can be fun and make the story more interesting, too many are distracting and need to be cut. This could have done with a lot of cutting.

Too much going on to really enjoy this one. Two out of Five Stars. As an Irving fan, this makes me sad. I ended up selling this book at a used book store for credit. I’ll post more about that tomorrow.

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:
A Son of the Circus by John Irving | Diddy’s Diary

Book Gem in Seattle, Washington For the Traveling Bibliophile

3 Aug

I described this vacation as ‘Books, beer, and hiking.’ I think I delivered on all three! I want to spend a post talking about the shops I visited, one in each city. My first stop was Seattle and I visited Elliot Bay Book Company. This amazing store was located only three blocks from my host’s house. He’d never heard of it! Gosh, darn Computer Engineers not reading! If you work for Amazon, you should know about the stores you’re eradicating, haha. I had him meet us there after work and it was hard not to be blown away by this place.

The front door was beautiful and things only got better as I went further inside. I quickly found the store’s “Summer Booknotes 2017” which had a ton of books I’ve seen positively reviewed on other blogs, notable authors with new releases, and recommendations from their employees, all sorted by genre. I also found the July calendar of events including book clubs, story time for children, and author appearances. I just missed Jonathan Safran Foer! The groups and recommendations reminded me of my local indy bookstore, Literati, and I was so excited to continue exploring.

The shelves and display in this place were beautiful! The store was well-lit, well-organized, and had a lot of personal touches in terms of staff recommendations. I always love recommendations and they’ve directed me toward some amazing reads! The store had a coffee shop in the back (where my husband escaped to trying to chase off jet lag while I explored) and an upstairs section with travel and bargain non-fiction titles. But that fiction section, though! I was blown away.

I’ve added a few more pictures below and I want to call attention to one in particular. One of the featured books was Chemistry by Weike Wang. As I said, I’m always attracted to a recommendation. I saw this book facing outward with a staff recommendation below it. (I later realized it was featured in the Booknotes I’d already picked up.) I said to my husband, “Oh, wow! I knew a girl named Weike Want in high school. We were on the swim team together. She got a perfect score on her ACT and went on to Harvard to study some science or something.” I thought that there was no way the Weike I knew was the same person. There was no way she wrote a book that I then held in a bookstore across the country. Well, guess what? I opened to the back flap and was greeted with a picture that looked a lot like the girl I knew from my swim team and a blurb that mentioned the author had gone to Harvard to study (shock) Chemistry. I confirmed it later by contacting her on Facebook, but the author of this book swam with me in high school! She’s agreed to do an author Q&A with me and I plan to read her book right away so I can get it reviewed and get you all some more info about Weike and her book. I’m so excited!

 

The other two images featured here are the stained glass over the entry door and the book my husband decided to buy. He loves Shakespeare parodies.

I highly recommend this store to anyone visiting Seattle! It was a gem to be sure.

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, 2-August-2017

2 Aug

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 a lot less progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi than I’d hoped for. We didn’t have a lot of down time and I was always trying to save phone battery for navigating the public transportation systems! Oh well. I’m still steadily picking at this one and will be for a while.
I enjoyed the part of I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum that I’ve gotten through so far. I did a fair amount of running while I was on vacation (no pool or bike needed!) so this came along with me to keep me entertained.
You all picked my physical book and it ended up being Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This book is a nice, slow burn that I’m really liking so thank you, everyone, who voted for it and picked it. I’m about half way through but I’ll slow down now that I don’t have 5-hour plane rides to devote to it.

Recently finished: All of my projections from last week were correct (yay) but I didn’t finish anything else for this past week. Boo!

I did post a review for Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling) on Monday which you can go check out. I’ve got two more I owe you all over the next week or so. Expect a steady stream of them going forward.

Reading Next: Hm, trick question. My book club meets in September to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty so I might pick that up. Alternatively, I’m thinking of reading Chemistry by Weike Wang next. I have a crazy story about this book I’ll be sharing tomorrow when I talk about the Elliot Bay Book Company so come back and check that out!


Leave a comment with your link and a 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!

Challenge Update, July 2017

1 Aug

Being out of school finally helped me catch up on reading and it was awesome! The end of June was slow reading for me but I found the time to get through my book club selection and I’ve been flying since then. I thought my vacation was going to slow me down a bit but I read every day and a ton on the long plane rides. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in July:

Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths // Bruce Feiler (2/5)
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values // Robert Pirsig (3/5)
The Importance of Being Earnest // Oscar Wilde (5/5)
Career of Evil // Robert Galbraith (5/5)
A Son of the Circus // John Irving (2/5)
Commonwealth // Ann Patchett (4/5)

This was a big audiobook month for me. I got through two very long books, though, and I’m really happy about that. I can finally see my bedside table because it’s not crowded with books at the moment. We’ll see how long that lasts, though. Probably not even a week.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Nothing new for the second month in a row! I’m starting to realize I need to be selective with my reads if I’m going to make this. ‘The Future’ shouldn’t be a hard category to fill given the amount of YA dystopia that’s available on audio. It’s going to be the 1500s and 1600s I’ll struggle to fill. Any suggestions?

Goodreads Challenge

33/50
Five books ahead! This summer has made me feel really good about finishing this challenge. It felt like I was just going to scrape by while I was in school but I’ve made some great steps forward and I’m confident now. Yay!

Book of the Month

Cover image via Goodreads

I’m going to have to give this to The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. I laughed while running at this one which was somewhat painful and a little awkward because the person on the treadmill next to me thought I was a bit crazy. Then again, most people on treadmills are a bit crazy so this is accurate.

Added to my TBR

I’ve gone up two books to 111. I knew my vacation would do this to me because I love buying books while I’m on vacation. I’m surprised it only went up that much!

  • Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. Simply, I love Larson and I wanted to put another of his books on my list because I always want to be reading his books.
  • How the Mistakes Were Made by Tyler Mcmahon. A woman from my writers’ group used this one as an example to talk about second person point of view and it piqued my interest.
  • The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman. I saw this one at Powell’s and wanted to buy it but it would have taken me over the budget my husband set for me so I bowed out and put it on my TBR instead.
  • Chemistry by Weike Wang. This was my buy at Elliot Bay Book Company, which I’ll post about later this week. I have a crazy story about this book that I’ll be sharing there so please check that out on Thursday.
  • Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. This was my spontaneous buy at Powell’s! I’ll post more about this next week but I’m really excited to read it. It sounds like a cross between The Martian and Station Eleven, both of which I loved.
  • Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. This was another Powell’s buy. I only have one more book on my shelves in Spanish that I haven’t read yet and Powell’s had an entire shelf of YA lit in Spanish. YA is a good genre for me to read in Spanish because it challenges me, but not too much. I wouldn’t feel comfortable reading Marquez in Spanish! I’m looking forward to reading this translation though it might be a year before I do.

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: No class now so this one is still going well.
  • Knit blankets:  I finished the blanket I was close to finishing last month so I’m all caught up! No pregnancies I know about where I’m waiting on a gender so now I’m looking pretty.
  • One race per month: This was a crazy month for races! I did my first 5K open water swim early in the month. It was easily the most difficult thing I’ve ever done! I cramped three times but I didn’t get pulled out of the water and finished DFL (Dead ****ing Last) but in under two hours! My husband and I did a charity ride for MS Research which was a two-day event where we put in 80 miles each. Finally, the day before I left for vacation, I did a sprint tri. My run time wasn’t good but my swim and bike were some of my best so I consider it a 50% success despite my poor overall time.
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t made any progress. I kept myself busy so I’ll try to make time before my class starts at the end of August to do some work here.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, 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!

Book Review: Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith (5/5)

31 Jul

I waited a long time to read this. I’ll continue to tell myself it’s so I wouldn’t have to wait too long for the fourth book to come out, but in reality, it’s because I didn’t want to bother with an audiobook on CD. It bugs me to have one just in the car. I have a short commute to work and I do most of my listening while running which means CD audiobooks take me a very long time to get through. I was finally ready to enjoy this one, though. And I’m so glad I did.

Cover image via Goodreads

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling)

Other books by Galbraith reviewed on this blog:

The Cuckoo’s Calling
The Silkworm
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry Potter y el orden del fenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter y el misterio del principe by J.K. Rowling
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Summary from Goodreads:

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands, and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them…

I felt the last book was really building to some relationship drama between Strike and Robin and this book did not disappoint! The killer involved was a great mystery as well. I was guessing the whole time who the guy could be and I was even questioning men like Wardle because I knew it would be someone we’d already met and I wanted to be ahead of Strike for once. I’d written the real killer off a long time before for similar reasons to Robin, but I really enjoyed figuring out what was going on.

The one thing that confuses me in the whole book is Robin and Matthew’s relationship. I don’t get why she keeps going back to him. Honestly, I don’t know if I could if my husband was as terrible as Matthew. Other than that, I loved the characters even more than in the last book and I can’t wait to see what Galbraith does with them from here. It’s going to be a very different dynamic in their relationship now.

I adore Robin. I love her even more now that she’s talked about his history a little more. She’s a very strong character and I feel like she’s finally learning how to be strong on her own because of her job with Strike. Again, if she hadn’t stuck with Matthew, I think I’d like her more, but I can see how she’d want to continue with the relationship. In all honesty, it was the easier decision. I hope that’s not why she did it, though.

I related to Robin more than I’d like to admit, but in a way that I think most married people can. I got cold feet for a bit during my engagement. There, I said it! I was 23 and getting married to someone I’d known since I was 14. I don’t think it’s unusual to second guess a life-changing decision for a minute before you make it and I know my husband and I had a few conversations that helped me feel reassured we were making the right decision. Though we had nothing as big as Robin and Matthew’s trust issues to deal with, yikes!

J.K. Rowling
Image via The Telegraph

The investigation of the three men was great, but I really enjoyed the chapters from the killer’s point of view. It helped me guess along which was fun. One of the complaints I’ve had with this series is that you can’t try to figure out the murderer along with Strike because some things are kept from the reader. Having the chapters from his view helped me feel closer to the answer and once it was revealed, I felt like I should have figured it out! Not from Strike’s evidence but from something in one of those chapters. I thought this was a good addition to the book structure.

I’m repeating this a lot, but Robin staying with Matthew kind of bothered me. She’s strong and gutsy in work, but it doesn’t carry over into her personal life and it frustrates me. I wonder if this will start to develop going forward in the series. She seems a bit committed at this point, though!

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Robert Glenister, the same man who narrated the first two books in the series. I think he does a great job with the books. He easily slips into an American accent when needed and I think (though I’m no expert) he does different accents for the British characters depending on where they’re from. None of it seems oddly forced and I really enjoyed listening to him read this book!

Robin’s revelation about her past was a big part of her character development in this book. I liked what Galbraith was saying about Robin being seen as more than the victim of her circumstances. Knowing that Rowling is a feminist and rather outspoken, this was a consistent message with what I know of her. Robin didn’t talk about what happened to her because she was seen as a victim and some saw her as inviting what happened to her. I think that happens a lot with rape victims and I think Rowling addressed what Robin went through well.

Writer’s Takeaway: I can’t get over how much I liked the chapters from the killer’s point of view! It added just enough dramatic irony that I stayed more engaged than I otherwise would have. For these hard-to-solve mysteries, it was great. Especially because the clue that gave it all away was something I, as an American, would never have picked up on.

I enjoyed this story a lot and I’m now eagerly anticipating the fourth installment. Five 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:
Career of Evil by Rober Galbraith | A Captivating Thriller or a Huge Disappointment | Whimsy Pages
“Career of Evil – Cormoran Strike #3” by Robert Galbraith | Mike Finn’s Fiction

WWW Wednesday, 26-July-2017

26 Jul

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.


As a reminder, I’m on vacation this week so everything you see below is complete conjecture on where I think I’ll be. I’ll let you know next week if I was right!

Currently reading: A few pages here and there with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I’m going to guess it’s mainly while my husband plays Pokemon Go on our vacation and I need something to fill the gap. I don’t think I’ll finish it soon, but I’ll keep working on it.
I’m going to start the audiobook for I’m Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum. I got this book at the library used book sale but I’m going to listen to it so I can get through it faster.
My physical book is whatever you all picked for me last week and as of now, I’m not sure what that is! Whatever you chose, I’m sure I’m enjoying it.

Recently finished: I (hope I) finished A Son of the Circus by John Irving during my travels. I decided to take it and sell it at a used book store while I’m away so I can buy more books without weighing down my suitcase.
I finished Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith AKA J.K. Rowling. This one I’m sure of because I finished it right before I left! I adored this book and I gave it a full 5 out of 5 Stars and I’m eagerly awaiting the final book in the series.
I should finish Commonwealth by Ann Patchett before this post goes up. I have about a disk left on my phone and I’ll be doing a few runs where I’ll listen to it. I’m adoring it so far and I hope to continue loving it.

Reading Next: Whatever I traded A Son of the Circus for. It’s hard to say at this point because I’m still reading it as I type this!


Leave a comment with your link and a 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!