Archive | Books RSS feed for this section

WWW Wednesday, 22-May-2019

22 May

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 struggled to read some of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min this week. It’s not uninteresting, it’s just my lunch book and slow going because of that. I’ll get through it, no worries.
I’m about a third of the way through A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. With the show now over, I’m getting ravenous to get more out of the world. I want to be caught up when Martin finally releases the next book. I guess I’m hoping for a different ending.
I got through a chunk of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers on a flight this past weekend. Yes, I’m traveling again. I’m going to use it to my advantage and get through as many books as possible!
I’m making good progress on Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. He’s a great storyteller and I’m loving all the stories of his childhood and growing up in South Africa. I guess my education is seriously lacking when it comes to apartheid so I’m learning a lot.

Recently finished: Nothing new finished this week. It was a slow week of progress, I guess. I’m optimistic Noah will be here next week.

I had two reviews go up this week! The first was for Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed if I’m being honest. I really wanted to like it, but I couldn’t. I gave it Two out of Five Stars.
The second was The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob. This one was really fun and I enjoyed the story a lot more than I thought I would. The story was sufficiently complicated to keep me going and I liked the dual timelines. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting on Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson to come in from the library. I’m sure it will be here just when I’m not ready for it. Life always happens that way, doesn’t it? I should expect it by now.


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!

Advertisements

Book Review: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob (4/5)

21 May

I can’t remember how exactly I heard about this one. I think it was in a ‘new releases’ pamphlet a few years ago. Anyway, I wanted to add it to my TBR and it took me almost five years, but I finally got around to it.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

Summary from Goodreads:

When brain surgeon Thomas Eapen decides to cut short a visit to his mother’s home in India in 1979, he sets into motion a series of events that will forever haunt him and his wife, Kamala; their intellectually precocious son, Akhil; and their watchful daughter, Amina. Now, twenty years later, in the heat of a New Mexican summer, Thomas has begun having bizarre conversations with his dead relatives and it’s up to Amina-a photographer in the midst of her own career crisis-to figure out what is really going on. But getting to the truth is far harder than it seems. From Thomas’s unwillingness to talk, to Kamala’s Born Again convictions, to run-ins with a hospital staff that seems to know much more than they let on, Amina finds herself at the center of a mystery so thick with disasters that to make any headway at all, she has to unravel the family’s painful past.

I liked the back-and-forth style Jacob used to move through time. We see Amina as a girl growing up with Akhil and then we see her as an adult visiting her parents. Both stories lead us to find out how Akhil died (this isn’t really a spoiler, it’s pretty clear from early in the book). The theme of sleepwalking, or sleeping in general, is pretty prominent. Her uncle (whose name completely escapes me) is a sleepwalker and his sleepwalking ends up causing a major and deadly accident. Akhil suffers from a sleeping disorder, and her father ends up developing one. But ultimately, the sleepwalking motif is also a theme about enjoying the time you have. For a lot of Amina’s life, she’s gone through the motions without enjoying or really taking in what is happening around her. She’s sleepwalking through life when she could be dancing through it and enjoying it to the fullest.

I adored Amina’s parents. Thomas and Kamala reminded me a bit of my parents and of my friends’ parents as well. Their speech patterns were great, like how Thomas repeated someone’s name three times when greeting them. The way they cared about their kids was very real to me. Kamala was fierce when it came to Amina and Akhil and I adored her love for them. I also liked how they’d changed when they became empty-nesters. They were more relaxed with their kids and able to enjoy being a couple again. I see that in my parents and my in-laws and I’m glad Jacob was able to capture it.

Kamala was my favorite character. She was well drawn and she had a great attitude about life. Her religious convictions were fun to read about and the way she spoke to and cared about her kids was very loving. She called them dummies all the time, but you knew she was the most kind-hearted character in the story. The way she treated Thomas through his illness was heartbreakingly beautiful. She was a woman who was kind and loving on the outside but could yell and push to get what she needed for her family. I loved the way she was drawn.

Because I’m a similar age to Amina, she was easy to relate to. I liked that we got a character around 30 who isn’t settled and happy in her career. I feel that, all too often, characters in books are wildly successful by age 30 and that seems so unrealistic. She felt more real to me because of this and I was glad to have a character I could relate to.

Mira Jacob
Image via India Today

The flashbacks to Akhil in high school were my favorite parts of the book. Seeing a boy becoming a man so quickly and seeing it through his sister’s eyes was a great way to develop his character. I enjoyed hearing about his political dealings because it felt reminiscent of high school for me; when we were 17 and out to change the world. He was full of optimism and hope. Amina watching him change was paralleled with herself at 30, who has not yet come into herself in the same way and needs a kick in the pants to be comfortable with herself.

Dimple was my least favorite character and the parts of the book with her in it disappointed me. She felt very flat to me and I didn’t think she added much to the book. She seemed like a terrible friend if I’m being honest. She pushed Amina into doing a lot of things she didn’t want to do and wasn’t very supportive when big things were happening in Amina’s life. She also kept secrets and seemed to demand a lot of attention when they were together.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jacob. At first, I was nervous because some authors are not meant to be narrators. But Jacob really impressed me. She did great accents for her Indian characters and gave each a distinct voice and inflection so they were easy to tell apart. I hope she continues to narrate her books going forward as she has a great gift for it.

Writer’s Takeaway: It was clear to me that Jacob had some personal knowledge of being Indian in America. The story was reminiscent to me of a Jhumpa Lahiri novel and I thought the immigrant story was well done. This is a great example of ‘write what you know’ and it really shone for me.

This was a great read and I’m glad I finally got around to it. 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:
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing | textingthecity
The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacobs | 52 Books or Bust
Mira Jacob’s “The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing” | A writer is a world trapped in a person
Book Review: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob | ahouseofbooks

Book Review: Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton (2/5)

20 May

S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders is probably my favorite novel of all time. I adore it each time I read it and I love the movie adaptation. I have a ring with a quote from the book. Everything about it is amazing. So when I found out Hinton had published a novel more recently, I added it to my TBR. It took years, but I finally got to it. And I’m quickly trying to forget about it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton

Summary from Goodreads:

An orphan and a bastard, Jamie Sommers grew up knowing he had no hope of heaven. Conceived in adultery and born in sin, Jamie was destined to repeat the sins of his parents–or so the nuns told him. And he proved them right. Taking to sea, Jamie sought out danger and adventure in exotic ports all over the world as a smuggler, gunrunner–and murderer. Tough enough to handle anything, he’s survived foreign prisons, pirates, and a shark attack. But in a quiet seaside town in Delaware, Jamie discovered something that was enough to drive him insane-and change his life forever. For it was in Hawkes Harbor that Jamie came face to face with the ultimate evil…

The book started strong for me. Jamie had a rough childhood and grew up to be a bit of an outlaw but a happy guy until he sees a coworker killed for a cause he doesn’t support. The timeline jumps between his time in a mental ward and spiraling downward in New Orleans. I thought there was some connection between the drugs and alcohol abuse and his space in the ward. Then he moved to Deleware and things seemed to be OK for a while. And here’s where the book lost me. I’m going to spoil it completely so skip this review if you want to read this. There he’s attacked by a vampire and made to be his slave. Yep, no joke. A story that I thought was going to be about the perils of drug abuse and making the wrong friends is about not waking up vampires from their long slumbers. The rest of the book is Jamie trying to escape from the vampire’s grip and their almost friendship by the end. I was hoping for a while that the vampire was some kind of metaphor for Jamie’s state of mind but when I lost that hope, I stopped caring about this book. It was so far from what I loved about Hinton’s other novels, the gritty reality of growing up on the wrong side of town, that I couldn’t like it.

Before the vampire attack, Kell and Jamie seemed like very likable characters and I could picture them easily. I liked easy-going Jamie and too-smark Kell. The first half of the book was great. But when it turned Twilight-y, I was done. Jamie dissolved into a shell and Kell was killed for a quick drink.

I didn’t like any of the characters but the least likable was Louisa, the doctor treating Grenville. She was very cruel to Jamie and I didn’t understand her motivation. She was not his master and even Grenville didn’t treat him as cruelly as Louisa did. She appeared out of nowhere to be a lurking presence in the novel and I wish she’d been taken out, I don’t think she added anything to the book.

At the beginning of the book, Jamie was relatable. He had some rough times, he was a bit impulsive, but he had a good heart. Once he was bitten, I hated him. I think that change made this book kind of hard for me to read. It essentially killed off my favorite character.

S.E. Hinton Image via FixQuotes

Jamie’s stories about sailing with Kell were great. I would have read a book of just that. I liked the adventure and risk he faced. I love the water and I won’t lie, some of that life was really appealing to me. I’d love to be on the water all the time but I’m a little too settled to start now.

The ending of the book was rough for me as well. If Grenville’s curse was lifted, I would have thought he’d age. But I guess every author gets to re-write their vampire lore just a bit. I don’t like that Jamie ended up being a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. I would have thought he’d get out of there completely or never recover from it. I guess his character weakness was too much for me by then. I wanted him back to his former glory and it was never going to happen.

I can’t begin to think of what the theme for this book is. Don’t go sticking your nose somewhere a kid tells you is haunted? Tough luck if you’re attacked by a vampire? It doesn’t matter if your doctor has the best intentions? The book was so disjointed and felt like three different books so I’m not sure what to think of it or even how to critique it. It was just too much.

Writer’s Takeaway: At the beginning, Hinton was using flashbacks to build tension. We saw Jamie growing up and exploring the seas and would return to him in psychiatric care. Unsure what had landed him there, we followed him and heard him share his story with the doctors. Then he’s released and the story fell apart for me there. All the tension seemed unimportant. His adventuring had nothing to do with why he was there, he’d be bitten and had tried to save someone else but was accused of assault. The tension disintegrated and I stopped caring. If using a flashback structure, it’s important that the flashbacks are important.

This book was a huge let down for me, sad to say. Two 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:
#326 Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton | One-Eleven Books2
Hawkes Harbor | The Poisoned Martini
Hawkes Harbor – S.E. Hinton | The Lucid Reader

WWW Wednesday, 15-May-2019

15 May

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 point to read more of Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min during my lunches this week. I got through another chapter and then some so I’m happy with the progress. I knew this would be slow going so I’m not worried about it.
I’m taking small bites out of A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin. I’m not yet a third done, but I’ll keep going steadily. I don’t mind drives right now and I’m taking the time to enjoy it as it comes.
I started on A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and I’m hoping I can finish fast. I have a trip out of town next weekend and I don’t like to take signed books out of the house. I might just have to power through, though. I don’t think it will be much of a chore.
I’ve just started Born a Crime by Trevor Noah. I adore Noah on The Daily Show and I’ve liked the stand-up I’ve seen from him. I even watched his documentary on getting started in comedy in South Africa and enjoyed that. I’m really excited about this, to say the least!

Recently finished: I wrapped up Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi this week. It was a short book but it hit me hard! I thought after reading several other accounts of survival in concentration camps, I knew what I was getting into. But Levi kept shocking me. He was in the camp for a long time and his memory is very vivid. I’m glad he wrote this haunting book, the world needs to remember the atrocities we are capable of.
I also finished Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. I should have guessed that I’d finish it in a week but it still came as a surprise to me. I liked this one a lot and the bit of magical realism didn’t bother me too much. I usually hate it, but this wasn’t too overwhelming. My book club meets in a few weeks to discuss so expect a few more posts on this going forward.

I only got one review up this week which means I’m slipping seriously behind. I posted my review of The Power by Naomi Alderman last Thursday. It was very OK to me, nothing that blew me away. My book club met earlier this week to discuss so I’ll be sharing some more thoughts soon.

Reading Next: It seems too early to pick another book to read. I guess I’ll have to pick. I’m working through books that will need an Interlibrary Loan when I can so I’ve put in a request for Writing Fiction for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson. I’ve yet to be let down by the ‘Dummies’ series and it seems like a good time for this one. With my manuscript being wrapped up, I need to start another and I’m a bit lost on how to go about it this time. I’m hoping for a bit of inspiration.


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!

Midwest Literary Walk 2019

14 May

I’m happy to say I was able to return to the Midwest Literary Walk for 2019. We had a great line up of authors this year. In addition to my friend Amy, we each brought a friend so there were a total of four of us walking and enjoying the books.

Me and Min Jin Lee

The first author was the one I ended up enjoying the most, Min Jin Lee. She’s the author of Pachinko, which two years after publication is became an NYT bestseller in paperback. It took Lee 30 years to write this book. She put it away for years because her first draft was ‘long and bad.’ The idea originally came in 1989 when she attended a lecture about Koreans in Japan and the hatred directed at Korean children by Japanese classmates. She didn’t think it would be a historical novel but it needed that history. The segregation between Japanese and Koreans still exists in Japan and people of Korean descent will try to ‘pass’ as Japanese. Lee wrote this book originally as a study of masculinity, though her main character ended up being a woman. She wanted to talk about how the suppressed male minority can be emasculated. She also wanted to tell the story of the poor and illiterate. They never get a chance to write history but their work is what history depends on.

Lee took twelve years to publish her first book and is at work on a third with similar themes about Korean immigrants. Apply TV has picked up Pachinko for a series adaptation, though we won’t see that for about two years. Lee’s only hope is that the history is correct as she has no involvement in the show. The Japanese translation of the book is coming out in the fall. There is already a Korean translation and a copy of it appears in the Korean-Japanese Museum in Japan.

Lee offered some writing advice. As writers, we should expect to be interrupted, there’s almost never a smooth path to finishing a book. She advises listening to those interruptions as they may be redirecting the book. The quality of the work is what’s most important, not the quantity. As a writer, you’re asking your reader for their time more than their money. Authors make very little from the sale of each book. But each sale asks a reader for several hours of time to enjoy it. Writing is a long process and you should only do it if you really love it. Lee advises that novels should have things that happen, they need action and should follow the rules of the craft. Personally, she reads a verse of the Bible before she writes each time.

Luis Rodriguez at the Midwest Literary Walk

The second speaker was Luis Rodriguez, a poet and memoirist. He grew up poor in east LA and was involved in gangs. He’d lost 25 friends to violence and drugs by age 18. He is a former heroin addict and was in jail. He said that he wasn’t ‘scared straight,’ he was ‘cared straight’ and he now mentors prisoners to try and do the same. Rodriguez never saw himself as an immigrant in the US. He is part of the Tarahumara tribe of Mexico and those people lived in the US before there was an arbitrary border. He feels he’s become an expert in English and writing descriptive words because he worked hard to learn it in spite of his poor education and mastery as a youth.

The final speaker was Anissa Gray, a Michigan native and author of The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls, her first novel. Gray is from St. Joseph, Michigan (west side of the state) and attended Western Michigan University. The book is set in a fictional Michigan city that was inspired by St. Joseph and Kalamazoo. She’d been living outside of Michigan for 25 years when she started writing this book and I’d like to think she was homesick. This isn’t the book Gray set out to write. She wanted to focus on one character but realized she had to explore the character’s backstory and family to make the book work. She said she couldn’t make the characters do what she wanted, she had to listen to them and what they were going to do. One of the characters in the book has an eating disorder, as Gray herself has had. Writing about it made her talk about it in a way she hadn’t had to before. It was easy to write the character that was like her, but the others were a struggle. The story is honest and covers a complex issue. The people in the story are imperfect, but they’re hopeful that things will work out. and they might be OK in the end.

Anissa Gray and moderator Rich Fahle.

Gray offered a bit of writing advice. She’s a journalistic editor and she has to turn her editor mind off when she writes. She sets a schedule of time to write every day and pushes through even when she’s uninspired. She doesn’t have an outline but develops a mental plan of what she’ll write with a story and characters. She gets it down first before worrying too much about the language. That comes later. For this book, it took her about four major drafts to get to the final version.

Again, this was an amazing event and one I hope to attend for years to come. The Chelsea District Library does a great job and I’m so thankful to the writers who traveled to this small town to share their expertise with ravenously hungry readers.

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!

‘Love, Simon’ (Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda) Movie Review

13 May

Movie poster via IMDb.

I had a night alone and didn’t think this movie was high on my husband’s ‘to-watch’ list. He’s been trying to cram in all the Marvel movies he missed before seeing Endgame. So I figured I’d watch this one alone and I really enjoyed it! I’m so glad I saw it rather soon after finishing the book because so much was fresh in my mind.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Martin. I had a lot of trouble picturing this character as I read the book. He seemed to fit in, but not be accepted anywhere and I had an issue figuring out who this person was and how he fit into the story. I thought the portrayal by Logan Miller was great and let me get a much better idea of Martin and who he was.

Realistic High School. This is the same compliment I gave the book. High school life tends to look very glamorous in a lot of movies, with actors in their late 20s pretending to be teenagers. I felt this film did a good job of keeping the image realistic and it felt like the high school I attended and that I’ve heard about from others.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Less focus on parents. There was a bit focus on Simon’s parents in the book. They’re very relaxed and informal with Simon to the point that it bothers him, but he loves them fiercely. I know the movie didn’t have time to get into this relationship, but it was something in the book I really enjoyed. I don’t think teenagers and adults get along in books as often as they do in real life.

Cover image via Goodreads

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Alice and the sister relationship. Simon’s older sister, Alice, was going through changes at the same time he was and I think it made it easier for him to tell his parents he was changing, too. Taking Alice out for the movie made sense, though. I did miss how close Simon was with Alice and Nora. The Nora in the movie wasn’t as prominent as the one in the book and I thought her support of Simon when Martin posted on Tumblr seem odd. In the book, it made a lot of sense because she and Simon were so close.

Cal. Simon built Cal up in his mind a lot in the book, thinking that he was Blue and developing a crush on Cal separate from his crush on Blue. I felt that Simon’s desire for Blue to be Cal was part of what pushed the real Blue away. He felt rejected because Simon was physically attracted to someone so different from himself. Simon had never once guessed the right identity for Blue, even though in the movie he did. I thought this made the reveal a little less surprising and a bit more of a letdown.

Things That Changed Too Much

Leah. Leah’s character was so different! I didn’t like her much in the book and I could have liked her in the movie if I wasn’t so mad about her being different! Changing her crush from Nick to Simon was too clean. The fact that she liked Nick when Nick liked Abby was part of the complication in the book that made it interesting. Add on to that she was a lot more social and likable and upbeat, and it’s a different character. I wish they’d gone with the original Leah and not forced Leah and Nick on a date. It was too weird.

I can see why this did so well at the theater. It’s a great love story and a very realistic depiction of high school and the social perils involved. Reader, have you seen the movie for Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda / Love, Simon? What did you think?

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: The Power by Naomi Alderman (3/5)

9 May

I’d seen a bit about this book a while back but it had fallen off my radar when my book club selected it. This is another instance where I’m glad I knew nothing about the book before reading it because I think the development of the skein would have been ruined for me. This was fun to discover as I went.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Summary from Goodreads:

In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the idea of women becoming the dominant sex though I didn’t like that it had to be an almost magical power they gained to make it happen. I also didn’t like the number of characters we followed through the book, it almost seemed like too much. I think the narrator took a little away from this for me, too. She wasn’t my favorite.

We got a good variety of characters in this book and, for the most part, they eventually overlapped which was a nice way to tie the whole thing together. I appreciated that, though I think we could have done without one or two of them. Margot was a hard character for me to like but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t believable. I could see someone like her coming to power and maybe that’s what was so unlikable about her. You felt terrible for Jocelyn, being the daughter of such an ambitious woman who seemed to be using her daughter for political gain. Unfortunately, I could see it happening.

Allie was my favorite character. I’m not sure if I think the voice was God or not, but I thought her journey was the most interesting. The way she rose to power and the following she created was incredible. The way she spoke when the Voice was speaking through her was so markedly different from the one in her internal dialogue and I appreciated that in the writing. I liked how she teamed up with Roxy. They were my favorite pair. I think she may have taken things just a little too far, but I still liked reading her story.

Jocelyn was the most relatable to me. Her position, with inconsistent power, is most like a woman in a mans’ world today. She is nervous to show her power and looked down on when she is overpowered. She’s trying everything to stand out and nothing works so she takes stupid risks. I think I’ve felt like or done all of these things at one time or another.

Naomi Alderman Image via The Guardian

I enjoyed the flashes to the future when they would share a museum view of modern objects. The analysis of an iPhone sticks with me a lot. I liked that aspect of sharing objects that would be used in the book and tieing it into the post-Cataclysm view of the present. These bits were a nice way to break up the book.

I didn’t feel like the ending was really clear, or maybe I rushed through it. I’m about to spoil it so skip this paragraph to avoid that. I guess I’m supposed to assume that the rebel army used nuclear weapons to such an extent that they ended civilization altogether. It was on the brink of collapse anyway so I can see how that might happen, but it was still a bit much for me. I don’t understand how that would result in all knowledge of what happened during the time but would leave enough people alive for humanity to restart in a few thousand years. Maybe I’m being nit-picky, but it seemed like a bit of a rush to me. Especially that we’d develop English and publishing again, as Naomi and Neil write in English and are both authors. I think if we got to do everything over again, we might do a few things differently.

The audiobook is narrated by Adjoa Andoh and at times, I liked her and at times I didn’t. I liked her for Tunde, Roxy, and Allie but I didn’t like her for Margot and Jocelyn. Maybe it was the Brit reading an American thing, but it didn’t work for me. She made Margot too pushy in my opinion, and Jocelyn too weak.

The Power discusses the nature of power. Is power derived from physical strength like a skein? Or is it from nuclear weapons? Political pull? Followers? Fear? Information? Each of the characters had power in a different form and none of them were all-powerful. There are different kinds of power needed at different times for different things Allie didn’t have fear or information, but Roxy had fear and physical power. Tunde had information, but little strength. Together, they could have done a lot more than they could apart.

Writer’s Takeaway: When I started the book, I thought the characters would never meet or intertwine and I resigned myself to that. But when they did, I was so glad because they enhanced each other’s stories. Roxy showing up to save Tunde or Jocelyn meeting Roxy’s brother or Margot meeting Allie, all of these times I became more invested in the characters because they were made more vivid by the eyes of the other characters. I liked how Alderman drew them together.

Enjoyable, but not a favorite. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the Future time period for 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!

Related Posts:
The Power by Naomi Alderman | The Bandwagon
The Power by Naomi Alderman | bookforager
The Power – Naomi Alderman | feministfabulist
Naomi Alderman · The Power | watercolorstain

WWW Wednesday, 8-May-2019

8 May

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: Still going slow with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min but I did squeeze a bit in this week. I’m not worried about this one taking a while, I figured it would. I’ll get there eventually.
Maybe I’ll finish A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin before I finish Min. It’s not going quickly, but it’s going. I adore the narration of this one and I think I’ll continue to enjoy it for another month or so.
I picked up Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi while I was on my vacation and finished about half of it. I thought I’d get through more but I was so tired on the plane that I slept a lot. The author really focuses on the survival aspect of the camps and I’m really getting a good sense of what he remembers and went through.
I started  Exit West by Mohsin Hamid on audio. Still too early to really say, but I’m excited to start this one after hearing so much about it! It’s a nice, short one, so expect this finished quickly.

Recently finished: I finished Hawkes Harbor by S.E. Hinton right before I left on my trip. I was really disappointed with it if I’m being honest. It’s from the author of my favorite book and it lacked a lot of the emotion I love about that book. If it had been by another author, I’m not sure I would have liked it anymore. The subject matter was just not what I expected.
I wrapped up The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob and really enjoyed it. I was worried about the author narrating this one but she was amazing. Honestly, I’d listen to her narrate any book and I’d be very happy with it. I saw the author has another book out and I’m excited to see how that one is received.

I posted my review of Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. This was one that kept me up late reading. I really adored it, a full 5 out of 5 Stars.

Reading Next: I’m going to keep chipping away at my TBR. I want to read one of my autographed books next since I don’t like those leaving the house and I’ll be home for a few weeks. So I’ll tackle A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers. I’ve liked most things I’ve ready by Eggers so I’m excited to read his memoir as well.


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!

Book Review: Midwives by Chris Bohjalian (5/5)

7 May

I’ve owned a signed copy of this book for years. I met Bohjalian back in 2014 and got this book signed. It’s lingered on my shelf since then. I’m making great efforts to actually read my books so here I am, getting through a backlog that’s five years old. I’ve seen that there’s a movie of this one out there so I’ll have to watch that soon on a recovery day.

Cover image via Goodreads

Midwives by Chris Bohjalian

Other books by Bohjalian reviewed on this blog:

Before You Know Kindness (and two book club reflections)
The Sandcastle Girls
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Summary from Goodreads:

The time is 1981, and Sibyl Danforth has been a dedicated midwife in the rural community of Reddington, Vermont, for fifteen years. But one treacherous winter night, in a house isolated by icy roads and failed telephone lines, Sibyl takes desperate measures to save a baby’s life. She performs an emergency Caesarean section on its mother, who appears to have died in labor. But what if—as Sibyl’s assistant later charges—the patient wasn’t already dead, and it was Sibyl who inadvertently killed her?

As recounted by Sibyl’s precocious fourteen-year-old daughter, Connie, the ensuing trial bears the earmarks of a witch hunt except for the fact that all its participants are acting from the highest motives—and the defendant increasingly appears to be guilty. As Sibyl Danforth faces the antagonism of the law, the hostility of traditional doctors, and the accusations of her own conscience, Midwives engages, moves, and transfixes us as only the very best novels ever do.

This book kept me up late reading every night I picked it up. I had to decide not to read a few nights because I couldn’t afford to be up for another half hour engrossed in the book. It was mesmerizing that someone with the best of intentions, like Sibyl, could be so reviled and hated. She was doing her job. I was a bit terrified that something like that could happen to me.

Connie was very real to me. She was an observer and a good set of eyes for this story. I think Sibyl’s reactions were very real, too. And the father. Overall, it felt real. I would have been lost in a similar situation and I think they all felt that except for the lawyers. A manslaughter charge isn’t something many people face regularly so being unsure how to navigate and lost in a legal battle made sense. If the characters had felt confident, it would have been weird.

I liked how Connie took charge toward the end. For so long, she was the observer and though we get a bit of her as her own person, she doesn’t do much in the story until the end. She understands what is at risk and she wants to help her mother and without saying too much, I’ll say that she does those things. She’s a very loving daughter. She has her doubts about what her mother is doing and what she has done, but she’s very loving. I liked seeing her come into herself at the end.

The loss and confusion the characters felt were relatable. I think everyone has a time in their life where they do something they’re confident of but later question everything about that decision. Hopefully, not many people have to do it on the scale of Sibyl’s decision, but I think we all do it. Should I have changed my major? Should I have gone to that party? Should I have picked a different vacation spot? Not everything is cut and dry and Sibyl’s work was a big grey area.

Me and Chris Bohjalian

It wasn’t my favorite part, but the C-Section scene has quite an impact on me. I kept closing my eyes as I read, trying to block out the vivid image but it was only in my head. I was visibly cringing to a point my husband asked if I was OK. It was very well written and the descriptions were incredible.

A lot of time was dedicated to Connie and Tom’s relationship and I felt like it fell flat at the end of the book. I would have liked a little something more to make it memorable. If they weren’t going to last, maybe a first sexual encounter or a bigger role in supporting her through the trial. I just felt it could have concluded a bit better.

So many things in life are not right or wrong, they are somewhere in the middle. What Sibyl did can’t be described as either. Her actions were neither perfect nor deeply flawed. The situation was so complicated that it’s unclear if a good outcome could have resulted no matter what. Personally, I think I would have found Sibyl innocent, but I’m hearing Connie’s side of the story. Maybe Asa’s story would have convinced me otherwise.

Writer’s Takeaway: Making the reader uncomfortable isn’t always a bad thing. The operation scene was vivid but it was great. I didn’t agree completely with Connie’s actions, but I understand why she did it. I’m not sure if Sibyl’s reaction was the right call, but it’s what she did. None of the actions were ambiguous, but how I feel about them are uncomfortable. It made me enjoy this book and think about it for weeks afterward. That’s a great accomplishment.

This book kept me interested and engaged until the end. 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:
Midwives by Chris Bohjalian | Ardent Reader
Review: Midwives | Quirky Girls Read

Challenge Update, April 2019

2 May

Who would have guessed Half Ironman training is so good for reading time? Not as good as last month, I concede, but still awesome. I’m OK being a bit behind on reviews because I’m not struggling for things to blog about lately. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in April:

News of the World // Paulette Jiles (4/5)
Daughter of Smoke & Bone // Laini Taylor (4/5)
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda // Becky Albertalli (5/5)
Midwives // Chris Bohjalian (5/5)
The Power // Naomi Alderman (3/5)

I’m loving this so much. I’ve got a few more cooking but I’ve got time to get to them. I’m just glad to have gotten through one physical book this month. I think that’s where I’ll continue to be slow. My audiobook game is killing it.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
Killing it so far! Two time periods knocked out this month. News of the World is set in the 1870s which knocked out 1800-1899. And then The Power is set in the future, knocking that one out. Yay for book club picks! Maybe they’ll help fill in some of the other time periods and I won’t have to worry about this challenge at all. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.

Goodreads Challenge

23/52
I’m still flying through these books and I’m seven ahead of schedule now. I don’t know if I’ll keep this up since I started a long audiobook lately and training will end in July. I’ll have to find another way to read more than is normal and keep this going because it feels really good.

Book of the Month

This seems to be an easy pick every month. This month the easy winner is Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. My review went up Monday if you want to hear more about how much I adored this amazing book and why everyone should read it. I think I’ll watch the movie tonight…

Added to my TBR

72! I’m still taking it down, even if it’s just a bit at a time. I’ll get to a manageable number, I’m sure, but I’ll keep adding to the list so it may take a while.

  • Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani. I heard Trigiani speak a few weeks ago and when I found out she had a YA title, I had to snatch it up. I hope it doesn’t take me forever to read this one. I need a happy YA title from time to time.
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. The book club has spoken and this one is coming up soon! I hope the hype was worth it and I enjoy this one.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: I thought I’d be able to ride outside in April but I’m still out of luck. Rain and (believe it or not) snow have kept me on the trainer. Maybe I’ll have one good weekend before July?
  • Attend six weddings: On pace. I have hotels booked for all except one and I don’t have an invitation for that one yet. So things are looking good!
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’m caught up through mid-April so I’ll say I’m on pace for this. I tend to let myself fall behind before catching up on this so I can binge-knit while I binge-watch TV. They go well together.
  • Write: Going wonderfully! I’m actually close to querying. I KNOW! I never thought I’d be here but I am and it feels wonderful.
  • See my friends more: I didn’t do so great with this one this month. I have a lot going on in May so April ended up being a lot of focus on me. I have some friends who got face time, but it was their asking, not mine. May already demands some travel and friend time so I think I’ll do better next month.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2019, 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!