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Book Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda (3/5)

9 Jul

This was a bit of a last-minute book club pick. With COVID, we’ve been limited to books that are available on a platform that allows multiple downloads from different users at the same time. A lot of our selections were tossed into the air and this one landed. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t a book I really enjoyed either. I’m happily neutral on this one.

Cover image via Amazon

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Summary from Amazon:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

I liked the storytelling of this novel and the topics it addressed, but it missed with me overall. It’s hard to pinpoint what didn’t jive for me, but it was a bit off. I liked the multiple points of view. I liked the women the book focused on. I liked the setting and the mystery. But it just wasn’t what I enjoyed.

Juliana and Marella seemed the most real to me. Maybe because I’m closer in age and life to them, but they resonated with me more. Dorian was too bitter to enjoy, Essie seemed to have more problems than we were able to explore in her section, and Anneke was too hard to understand. I liked Juliana. I wanted better things for her and I wanted to believe her that things were going to get better when she wanted them to. Marella was trying to find her own voice and found that she couldn’t; it was always going to be tainted with someone else’s words but that didn’t make it less impactful. Their troubles seemed real to me and their struggle spoke to me more than the others did.

Juliana was my favorite character. The life she had made for good fiction, even if it wasn’t pretty. She was interesting and the people she was around were people you wanted to hear more about and see into their lives. She was interesting even if she wasn’t good. She was the one you cheered for in the book.

Marella was easy to relate to in some ways. Her mother wanted what was best for her and went through a lot of grief to get it. Marella rebelled against this in her way and that was relatable. Parents usually do what they think is best for their children even if children don’t see it that way.

Ivy Pochoda
Image via Amazon

I sound like a broken record, but Juliana’s section was my favorite of the book. I liked how she showed the beautiful side of a life that’s often overlooked and frowned at. She saw the beauty in her friends in a different way than the men who paid them did. Her section really spoke to how woman can be overlooked and seen as property in our society. While some women profit from this, it’s not safe. Our society sees sex workers as at fault for any violence against them because of their line of work instead of seeing the perpetrators as vile men. It’s ‘these women’ who keep doing things to get themselves killed. Feelia’s story emphasizes how little faith is put in this group of women.

I didn’t like Anneke’s section. It wasn’t just because the mystery was almost immediately given away, but I felt Anneke was very unlikeable. From the first time we meet her, in Dorian’s narration, she’s hostile and rude. It never gets better and by the time she gets a voice, the reader is set against her. Nothing she did helped change my perception of her and I wanted the book to end so I didn’t have to listen to her excuses any longer. I was sick of her very quickly.

The audiobook was dually narrated by Bahni Turpin and Frankie Corzo. Corzo read the majority of the book and I enjoyed her narration. Nothing in it stuck out too much to me. What did stand out a lot was Turpin’s reading. She did the chapters with Feelia’s voice and those stood out a lot. They were written in a very different style, just Feelia’s voice without any other characters or descriptions. The way Turpin read them was amazing, full of passion and anger that the character felt to her bones. I looked forward to these sections because of Turpin.

This book discusses sexism and racism and seemed very appropriate to read in 2020. Feelia and Juliana feel society overlooks them not just for their skin color, but their gender as well. They have problems they can’t take to the police because the police won’t listen. When Essie does listen, Feelia is shocked and reasons it’s because she’s a Latina woman; white men had ignored her for years. It helped highlight privilege without that being the main theme. Maybe I was reading it that way because of the #BLM movement, but I think the message was purposeful.

Writer’s Takeaway: The multiple points of view were very well done. I learned more about the crimes with each person’s voice added to the collage and it came down to the end when I figured out who was responsible. I think it was revealed in a very natural way and hearing from all of the women in this book helped draw that picture.

An enjoyable read (very well narrated) that somehow missed for me. Three out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
These Women by Ivy Pochada | Mediadrone
These Women, by Ivy Pochada | A Bookish Type
Ivy Pochada Explores the Southern Migration to LA in ‘These Women’ |Southern Review of Books
‘These Women’ TV Series Based on Book in Works From ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Bruce Miller and MGM/UA TV | Deadline

Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (4/5)

30 Jun

Of course, I couldn’t wait to go back to Panem. I adored the original trilogy and remember staying in bed until 2PM one day to read as much as I could from this series before returning to the real world. This one had me staying up well past when I needed to be asleep. It was a rough swim the next morning but I think it was worth it.

Cover image via Amazon

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins

Summary from Amazon:

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

With the length of this book, I was really unsure what to expect. At over 500 pages, it’s much longer than the other Hunger Games novels. Early in the Hunger Games, the memories of the war would be much rawer and the capital hadn’t recovered yet. I wasn’t ready for the image of President Snow that we get. He’s poor and floundering, taking every chance he can. I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want to. A few times, I felt bad for him. This did add a dimension to Snow’s character, but I’m not sure what it added to the original stories.

The characters seemed pretty grounded in reality to me. It’s hard to know how people would act in such a dystopian world, but their actions seemed warranted and logical. I’ll talk about this more later, but Snow’s change at the end seemed off to me. Other than that, I loved the Grandma’am and Tigris and Sejanus and Ma. They were a wonderful cast of characters, each unique and loveable in different ways.

Sejanus was my favorite and looking at other reviews, I might be alone here. He had a very complicated past and alliances and I thought he was fascinating. No one feels bad for the rich boy normally, but this is an extreme case. Sejanus is told to deny his identity and is forced into a new world where no one accepts him. He’s desperate to fit in and but is too true to himself to succumb to peer pressure. It makes him crack and it’s almost heartbreaking to watch. He puts Snow in a difficult place in the end and I’m not sure what I would have done if I were Snow, to be honest.

I related most to Lucy Gray and I’m trying to figure out why. I think I see her relationship with Snow as him taking advantage of her and I think most women have felt taken advantage of by a man at some point. Not to the same degree, of course. She was in a dangerous situation and counted on him to ger her out and when he did, she felt grateful to a point where she stopped looking out for herself again. She put her trust in him completely and was taken advantage of. I liked not having a solid idea of what happened to her in the end. It’s almost better that way. I’m usually one for concrete endings, but this one was perfect for me.

Suzanne Collins
Image via IMDb

Part I was my favorite, seeing Coriolanus mentor Lucy Gray and become more involved in the games was interesting. I was rewatching the movies as I read and had fun making parallels between how tributes were treated in the 74th games and the 10th. The things that were new had been developed and improved for the 74th games. I think the change from Capitol students to past winners makes sense for the mentors. Those who have been in the area understand how different it is and can give advice better. The Capitol students aren’t invested in the same way.

Spoiler alert so skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid it. The ending really bothered me. The book rushed through the end in my opinion and after 500 pages, I didn’t think there was a need to rush. Coriolanus was driven by greed and power for a lot of the book, but he was still compassionate. It wasn’t until the very end where he lost his compassion. He turned Sejanus in to save himself. Even that was to save himself from execution. But it devolved quickly into killing Lucy Gray for a chance of a comfortable life. I thought that was a big step to take. It was page 498 when he started contemplating this. I felt a little cheated that the first 498 pages were building to a moment that went so quickly.

The first line of the description on the back says it all: “Ambition will fuel him.” Snow’s ambition outshines everything else he does. He can’t love because his ambition is too high. He can’t have friends. He can’t be human. This is the reason I felt a little bit bad for him. But I remembered who he became and that he tossed his own cousin aside (Tigris!) for image’s sake later in life. After his fear inside the area, he continued to send children to their deaths there. Ambition killed his humanity.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this fell into the dangerous trap many prequels stumble upon: the need to explain everything. We didn’t need to know the origin of mentors or gifts or interviews or the Flickerman family. A lot of the book was spent explaining Mutts when it should have been focused on Snow and his origin. Instead of cramming so much character development into the last twenty pages, it could have been spread out. The game’s development wasn’t what was interesting about this book but it became the focus. I’ve heard this criticism of many of the Star Wars spin-offs and it stuck out to me a lot here.

Enjoyable and engaging but not a great ending. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
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Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes By: Suzanne Collins | Bookcave
Book Review- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins | Reading Between the Pages
Book Review- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins | Nightmares, Day Dreams, and Imagined Conversations
some thoughts on ‘the ballad of songbirds and snakes’ | coffee, classics, and craziness

Book Review: Semper Fidelis (Medicus Investigation #5) by Ruth Downie (4/5)

23 Jun

I’ve always enjoyed this series. I came up on the first one very randomly while browsing at Boarders (yes, that’s how long ago I picked it up) and I’ve been happy to keep reading them on and off since. I’m happy to always find one when I need a pick-me-up.

Cover image via Amazon

Semper Fidelis (Medicus Investigation #5) by Ruth Downie

Other books by Downie reviewed on this blog:

Terra Incognita (Medicus Investigation #2)
Persona Non Grata (Medicus Investigation #3)
Caveat Emptor (Medicus Investigation #4)

Summary from Goodreads;

Back at his post as a doctor in the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain, Ruso uncovers a new danger even closer to home than the neighboring barbarians. As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it’s clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia’s imperial army. Is the much- decorated Centurion Geminus preying on his weaker soldiers? And could this be related to the appearance of Emperor Hadrian? Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile his barbarian wife, Tilla, is finding out some of the answers-and marked as a security risk by the very officers Ruso is interrogating. With Hadrian’s visit looming large, the fates of the legion, Tilla, and Ruso himself hang in the balance.

Ruso’s wit has always been enjoyable. It’s one of the things I like most about these books. And Tilla is getting more and more time to narrate. That being said, this one didn’t stand out as much as the past ones had in my mind. Ruso being accused early on took away a lot of the joy that his character often gave. And Tilla’s investigation took away from a lot of the character development she had commanded in recent books. It was just enough out of step for me to enjoy the book a bit less. Also, the reveal of the killers was just subtle enough that I didn’t get it right away and I had to re-listen to the final ten minutes before I understood what had happened.

The characters in these books are always credible to me. The characters do the best they can with the world they’re living in; the dangers of the Roman period, the medicines known to them, and the average intelligence and education of the people. Ruso is a privileged person and he knows this and has always done as much as he can for the others. It’s what makes him admirable and flawed. He’s a wonderful narrator for this series.

Ruso was the standout character in this book to me. Normally, I lean toward Tilla, but her story fell flat to me this time around. Her concerns about fertility didn’t come through and she was more of a helper than anything this time and didn’t give me much to like. Ruso was himself though in a much more perilous situation than normal. He and Tilla, usually a wonderful pair, were separated for a lot of the story and it was hard to see them without their support system. I’m hoping they’ll be more of a pair again in the next book.

I could identify with Ruso at the end, though at a much smaller scale. This is a bit of a spoiler, so skip ahead to avoid it. The next paragraph will be safe again. I understood why Ruso would confess to a crime he hadn’t done to keep the peace of the empire. I’d be willing to lie about something I hadn’t done to keep peace in my family. I’ll take the fall for something my husband did to save face in front of his family. I’m not sure I’d take it so far as the face death, though.

Ruth Downie
Image via Audible

Sabina was a great side character in this book and Tilla’s interactions with her were fun. Her opinion of the empire and her time in Britain was fun and it was fun to see her feel powerful for once. I can’t imagine the marriage she was in and how that would feel for her, but seeing her play her part was fun. I can see how she garnered such loyalty.

The ending was a bit quick and vague for me. Like I said, I had to re-listen to the final 15 minutes to understand what had happened because I missed it the first time around. It’s not a huge criticism, but it was frustrating, especially listening to the audiobook which makes it much harder to go back and revisit the text.

Simon Vance is an amazing narrator for this series. I hope he’s able to do the whole thing because I’ve come to define his voice and Ruso’s as one. His voices for women aren’t amazing, but I get over it because of the amazing accents he has for Romans and Britons. His inflections for Ruso’s vapid family members always have me giggling.

There is usually something larger than oneself that you would give up everything for. Semper Fidelis is well known in the US as the moto for the US Marines (usually shortened to SemperFi). It carries a lot of weight in US culture. It meant a lot to Ruso, too. He is a cog in the machine, a medicus in an empirical army, but he recognizes the importance of his role and the larger empire he’s representing and holding together. Sometimes, things are bigger than us.

Writer’s Takeaway: Downie’s humor has always been my favorite. Even in a murder mystery, she’s making me smile and laugh. I enjoy the banter between her characters and her balance of serious and humorous characters that keep the book moving with a lighter tone between somber bits. It’s a balance that’s well-executed and I’m not sure it would work in less practiced hands. It could easily be farcical but here it’s wonderful.

A wonderful mystery and a great story in this series. I’ll plan to continue onward. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the Pre-1300 time period in the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
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Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie | For winter nights- A bookish blog

Book Review: The Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich (3/5)

18 Jun

I’m embarrassed to say how long I’ve had this book. It was a gift from a writing friend years and years ago for Christmas. I’ve been terrible about reading my own books before COVID so I’m glad I’m finally getting to the books I’ve been putting off for so long. My TBR is tumbling during quarantine!

Cover image via Amazon

Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich

Summary from Amazon:

The great paradox of the writing life is that to be a good writer, you must be both interested in the world around you and comfortable working in solitude for hours on end. Fiction Writer’s Workshop is designed to help you foster a strong sense of independence–of being and thinking on your own, of becoming self-evaluative without being self-critical–in order to accomplish what others seek in classroom groups.

In this comprehensive guide, award-winning writer and teacher Josip Novakovich explores every aspect of the art of fiction and provides all the tools and techniques you’ll need to develop day-to-day discipline as well as a personal writing style, such as:

• More than 100 writing exercises, including dozens that are new to this edition, that challenge you to experiment with diverse writing styles
• Specific statements of purpose for each exercise, to help guide you and instruct you at every step of the creative process
• Self-critique questions to help you assess your work and identify strengths and weaknesses before moving on to the next lesson
• The full text of eight acclaimed short stories, with analysis and exercises, to provide models for your own writing and help reinforce the lessons you’ve learned

The practical, insightful methods offered in this workshop will clarify your voice, broaden your perspective, and strengthen your fiction

I feel like I’m getting diminishing returns on the writing books I read recently. Writing Fiction for Dummies was great but it covered so much that subsequent books have repeated a lot and not given me much more to work with. The YA specific books have been good and helped me think about YA themes and characters. This book, however, seemed really focused on the short story format and it didn’t give me as much to work with and kind of let me know. It also seemed to be geared toward adult literature and literary fiction, both of which aren’t exactly my focus. Some of the advice was good for writing fiction in general, but I’d already read a lot of it before. The exercises might be helpful but they’d take a lot of time and energy that I just don’t feel like devoting to writing right now.

Josip Novakovich
Image via Concordia University

The section on revision had some good advice in it. I don’ think it would be great for a novel but it would be great for revising a short story. I liked the idea of outlining the first draft and then completely rewriting it. I think it would be interesting to see what was kept and what changed. I think I’d surprise myself with what I decided to keep.

I thought the section on beginnings and endings was a bit bland. There are so many ways to start a book that it felt weird to try to list them. Ending a book is really a matter of choice as long as the story arc is complete. So I think this could have been covered better under the section on plot structure. It all felt a little repetitive.

Novakovich gave a lot of examples. I think this speaks to a very basic and true lesson: learn by reading. You can’t learn to cook by watching TV the same way you can’t learn to swim online (sorry Big Bang Theory friends). If you want to learn to write, you have to read and you have to write. Reading and recognizing plot devices and distinct voices is a great way to experience it and see what others have done. Then, there’s nothing to it but the writing.

Writer’s Takeaway: This is a difficult subject to tackle. There are so many different stories to tell and so many ways to tell them that it seems odd to try to define them in a book. And each time a rule is developed, it’s already been broken and will be broken hundreds of times more. There are guidelines but anything too formulaic will be boring. There’s good advice but you have to be vague because there’s only so much direction you can give someone in a creative art.

Overall, helpful but not the motivation I wanted or much advice that I hadn’t heard. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Post:
Fiction Writer’s Workshop, by Josip Novakovich: a Review | TAwrites

Book Review: Stories of Elders by Veronica Kirin (4/5)

16 Jun

I came across Kirin in a very unusual way. I’m friends with her younger brother. He sent a message to a group of us that his sister was having a book signing and I was all in. I had no idea that his sister was a writer and I was excited to dive in. We drove out to Ann Arbor to visit Nicola’s Books and hear Veronica speak about her book. I’m only embarrassed that it took me so long to finally read the book.

Cover image via Amazon

Stories of Elders: What the Greatest Generation Knows about Technology that You Don’t by Veronica Kirin

Summary from Amazon:

America’s Greatest Generation (born before 1945) witnessed incredible changes in technology and social progress. From simple improvements in entertainment to life-changing medical advances, technology changed the way they live, work, and identify. Sadly, with each passing year, fewer members of the Greatest Generation remain alive to share their wisdom as the last Americans to grow up before the digital revolution.

In 2015, Millennial author and cultural anthropologist Veronica Kirin drove 12,000 miles across more than 40 states to interview the last living members of the Greatest Generation. Stories of Elders is the result of her years of work to capture and share their perspective for generations to come.

Stories of Elders preserves the wisdom, thoughts, humor, knowledge, and advice of the people who make up one of America’s finest generations, including the Silent Generation. Their stories include the devastation that came from major events in U.S. history like World War I, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, and World War II.

This book raised a lot of conflicting feelings in me. It made me think about my grandmothers a lot and how much the world has changed for them. My grandmothers are 100 and 87 and both fall into the Greatest Generation so I was able to think about some of the topics and how they would have affected them. It made me think about how I interact with my grandmothers and how life changed with the advent of technology. My one grandmother just got an iPad to video chat with her family. At 87, she’s having to learn something completely new. But during her life, she learned to use a washing machine, television, and dishwasher. I think she can handle it.

The interviews seemed very faithfully transcribed. There were times that it was clear Kirin had cleaned a few things up so it was easier to read but for the most part, I felt it was truthful. The quotes read differently, clearly as if it was a conversation and not formal writing. I think Kirin asked great questions to get these answers from the elders. It’s such a wide variety of topics that were covered by so few questions. It made me wonder how much time she spent with each one to get to so many topics.

A lot of the comments made resonated with me more than I thought they would. I think everyone is drawn back by new advances in technology, even someone my age who has less of a marked difference from conscious memory to present. I think the speed of technological change is going to only accelerate so that Generation X will have even more of an issue with emerging technology than the Greatest Generation has. I can’t imagine how things will have changed by the time I’m an octogenarian.

Me, Veronica Kirin, and featured elder Gerrie Powell

There were some areas of the book that surprised me because I didn’t think of them as very technological. Food and poverty are two examples. I work for a greenhouse and I hadn’t thought about how much technology had changed our access to food. The changing definition of poverty was a new concept to me, too. In my job, I hire a lot of people who live below the poverty line. Yet each of them has a smartphone because access to the internet is so crucial today. Making one’s own clothes is such an odd concept that we see it as a hobby and not a necessity for the poor. Amenities and war are other topics that surprised me.

There were times when Kirin would interject some of her own stories and it threw me off. Some of them connected the elders’ stories to my generation, but others seemed to distract from their stories. It took me out of the story a bit and didn’t seem to gel with the rest of the book.

Kirin narrated her own audiobook which I really enjoyed. Since she’d done the interviews with the elders, she was able to replicate their tone, pacing, and intonation during quoted sections. I think that would have been lost by someone who didn’t have the original experience. The only downside to the audiobook is that a few times, I would be confused if what I was hearing was a quote or commentary. The print makes this obvious but it wasn’t as clear when hearing it read aloud.

There’s always a perception that elders don’t adopt technology well. They struggle to use smartphones and can’t troubleshoot a simple computer error. But when we think about technology as a broader thing, more than computer technology, our elders have adopted a huge range of technologies in their lives. It made me feel bad for joking about my grandma’s struggles to use her iPad or how often my other grandmother plays Solitare on her Kindle. They figured so many other things out and changed their lives with them along the way.

Writer’s Takeaway: I did a similar project (on a much smaller scale) in high school where we were asked to interview our grandparents or elder relatives about their lives during WWII. My maternal grandfather had passed but I was able to interview my paternal grandparents and maternal grandmother while collecting photos that were assembled into a scrapbook. I transcribed the three interviews and included quotes about different aspects of everyday life that my grandparents remembered. It was a lot of work for a 15-year-old to handle. I can’t imagine the time and effort that went into Kirin’s work and I have so much respect for her and the project she completed. She’s back at it again, currently doing interviews for Stories of COIVID.

An enjoyable read and one that made me think. Four out of Five Stars.

I’ll be sharing an interview with Veronica next week so stay tuned for more! Until next time, write on.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Post:
Veronica Kirin: Entrepreneur, advocate, mentor and more | neu

Book Review: The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue (3/5)

11 Jun

I’m not a big fan of short story collections. This was a switch from a novel for my book club that happened last minute because of availability. I don’t think it’s something I would have picked otherwise. I’m writing this review before our group meets. Maybe they’ll change my mind. Though I find it hard to discuss short story collections.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue

Summary from Goodreads:

Emma Donoghue, celebrated author of Slammerskin, vividly animates hidden scraps of the past in this remarkable collection. An engraving of a woman giving birth to rabbits, a plague ballad, theological pamphlets, and an articulated skeleton are ingeniously fleshed out into rollicking tales. Whether she’s spinning the tale of a soldier tricked into marrying a dowdy spinster, or a Victorian surgeon’s attempts to “improve” women, Donoghue fills us with the sights and smells of the period as she summons the ghosts of ordinary people, bringing them to unforgettable life in fiction.

Some of these I enjoyed and others just frustrated me. Donoghue was inspired by odd bits of trivia she found while reading and some of the stories didn’t seem to have a plot, they just served to explain the odd thing Donoghue had read. Dido’s story had real depth to it. ‘Come, Gentle Night’ made no sense until you read the author’s note at the end. I didn’t like the stories where the note made the plot. In those cases, I felt like the note should have been at the beginning or the story should have been longer.

Donoghue drew rather believable people. None had too much of a story that I could sympathize with them or pass much judgment on how believable they were. There were a lot of women who suffered for their gender and the time period they lived in. This felt real to me. I think a lot of her focus is on how women were oppressed and she wanted to share a bit of their stories when history had ignored them.

Emma Donoghue
Image via Goodreads

‘Dido’ was my favorite story. Maybe it’s because of the racism discussions going on in my country, but this felt very relevant despite the setting. It reminded me of a movie I watched 10 years ago, Amazing Grace, about the abolition of the slave trade in England. I thought it was really powerful how Dido recognized her special status and used it to help someone else.

None of the characters was very relatable to me. Many of them were set in a very removed time period and I didn’t get enough to connect with them. The one that was more modern was an immortal witch, so that didn’t help.

None of the stories were disagreeable or I disliked them. Many just didn’t grab my attention and keep me interested for very long. The short story is not a format I enjoy and these seemed shorter than most. They shone a light on very overlooked parts of history and the notes at the end added a lot of depth and research to the stories. They just weren’t for me.

Women were written out of much of history. They’ve resigned themselves to footnotes in obscure texts like those Donoghue used to inspire her for many of these stories. The voices of women aren’t recorded, but logic would have you believe they were important. These women were written off, but they influenced many men and in some cases made a difference. I liked how Donoghue gave voices to the silenced. I think some could have been longer stories.

Writer’s Takeaway: This is not a genre for me and I’ve known that for quite a while. I don’t find short stories often give the reader enough about the subject to connect. Some of these stories felt like fragments of a larger story. Others felt complete. I think the difference was when Donoghue had more context than the reader. She had read some scrap of history that explained the split a little better. Without that context, the reader was lost. I think some of her history notes would have been better off at the beginning of the stories.

Enjoyable in small bursts, but not a genre for me. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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.

Book Review: It’s All Relative by A.J. Jacobs (4/5)

9 Jun

I adore A.J. Jacobs. I’ve often said he’s my favorite non-fiction writer. His subjects are well selected and his wit and humor always go over well with me. I’ve had this book on my TBR for a while and was excited to run across an audiobook version of it narrated by Jacobs himself! I sped through this one and had a blast with it.

Cover image via Goodreads

It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs

Other books by Jacobs reviewed on this blog:

Drop Dead Healthy

Summary from Goodreads:

A.J. Jacobs has received some strange emails over the years, but this note was perhaps the strangest: “You don’t know me, but I’m your eighth cousin. And we have over 80,000 relatives of yours in our database.”

That’s enough family members to fill Madison Square Garden four times over. Who are these people, A.J. wondered, and how do I find them? So began Jacobs’s three-year adventure to help build the biggest family tree in history.

Jacobs’s journey would take him to all seven continents. He drank beer with a US president, found himself singing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and unearthed genetic links to Hollywood actresses and real-life scoundrels. After all, we can choose our friends, but not our family.

One of the things I love about Jacobs is how he throws himself into his projects 100%. Whatever the project is, he lives it and it consumes his life. This project was no different. Of course, Jacobs couldn’t develop a hobby in genealogy; he had to try and break the record for the largest family reunion. It’s the steps along the way that Jacobs took that make his story even more fascinating. I loved the small things he brings up, like family rivalries, blended families, and Mila Kunis. These anecdotes bring the story to life in a way that only Jacobs can.

Jacobs was very honest about his family and roots which I loved. It was fun to hear him talk about the gems and bad apples of his family tree. I felt that he may have held back some things that were particularly damming, but was still able to illustrate what he found about his past. He was respectful using pseudonyms for people who didn’t want their details revealed so he could tell real stories and not hurt anyone.

Jacobs always appears as a character in his own stories. He’s not afraid to talk about his own faults and make fun of himself, usually through the eyes of his family. He realizes when he embarrasses his sons or is not a perfect husband to his wife. He sees the times that he falls short of the person he wants to be. I like how honest he is with himself and how much you see him grow through his research.

I tried poking into genealogy once, rather unsuccessfully. I created a Family Search account and I’ve taken the 23 And Me analysis. But it wasn’t something I decided to invest too much time in and that fizzled out. However, I had a really cool moment a few years ago. I was visiting my parents and I got an email from a 23 And Me user who said he thought we could be related and asked me if a list of last names meant anything to me. One was my grandmother’s maiden name. I asked my dad if he knew the name and he recognized that this was the child of one of his cousins. I wrote back and was connected to my dad’s cousin, who is the family historian. We now get annual updates (via Christmas card) about the new relatives my cousin-once-removed has added to our family tree and the family documents she’s been able to find. I’m always shocked by the documents and records she has translated from Danish that show a relative in the 1600s giving birth or being baptized. It’s cool to think about my family members from that long ago.

A..J. Jacobs
Image via Goodreads

I liked learning how Jacobs connected people to himself. It was cool to see how we’re all related to Beyonce or Ted Bundy. It made me interested in going onto one of the sites he listed and creating another account. Though I doubt I’ll be able to keep up with it, as happened before, and it will fizzle out.

I found his account of the actual family reunion a bit of a letdown. After building to it the whole book, his description of the day was a bit rushed. I know it must have felt that way to him as well, but I think the chapter could have been twice as long to give us a feeling of the size of the day a bit better. It was a huge accomplishment and it would have been good to see it that way.

Jacobs narrating his own audiobook was great. I loved his humor even more hearing the way it was intentioned to be read straight from his lips. I always like when authors narrate their own non-fiction because I think it gives it a much stronger story-telling element. I hope Jacobs will do this again. I’m almost tempted to listen to some of his backlog if he’s done it before. I always enjoy revisiting his stories.

Family is never simple and Jacobs story shows that. He has examples of family secrets, non-traditional families, fights, and failures. I think a great example is his relative who he was so excited to find out served in the Civil War, only to find out he lasted less than a week in the service. There are great and terrible things in each family. And if you look broadly enough, we’re all one family anyway. So any terrible thing you hear is about your family as is every great thing you hear.

Writer’s Takeaway: Jacobs’ humor is what has always made him a favorite of mine. Even in stressful situations (like arguing with his brother in law), he finds a way to make fun of the situation, to find some humor. It often points toward him, but he’s great at looking for it and finding a way to make you laugh, especially when you might have been cringing otherwise.

A great read with some wonderful Jacobs humor. 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Post:
It’s All Relative: Adventures Up and Down the World’s Family Tree by A.J. Jacobs | Joplin Public Library

Book Review: The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (4/5)

8 Jun

I picked this book up at a store in Atlanta, GA when I was traveling. It was listed as a selection for one of the store’s book clubs and the accolades on the cover convinced me it was worth picking up. I read the first chapter on that trip but it’s been almost a year and I started over when I got into it this time. I thought the first chapter was a little lost from the story when I first got back to it and almost wished I’d skipped over it again. But that scene came back again and again and became a very pivotal moment in the story so I’m glad I revisited it. It’s a testament to Makkai’s storytelling skills.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1985, Yale Tishman, the development director for an art gallery in Chicago, is about to pull off an amazing coup, bringing in an extraordinary collection of 1920s paintings as a gift to the gallery. Yet as his career begins to flourish, the carnage of the AIDS epidemic grows around him. One by one, his friends are dying and after his friend Nico’s funeral, the virus circles closer and closer to Yale himself. Soon the only person he has left is Fiona, Nico’s little sister.

Thirty years later, Fiona is in Paris tracking down her estranged daughter who disappeared into a cult. While staying with an old friend, a famous photographer who documented the Chicago crisis, she finds herself finally grappling with the devastating ways AIDS affected her life and her relationship with her daughter. The two intertwining stories take us through the heartbreak of the eighties and the chaos of the modern world, as both Yale and Fiona struggle to find goodness in the midst of disaster.

I wasn’t ready for the emotion of this book. It really took hold of me and I was hooked for the ride. Yale was an amazing character and I kept wishing the whole time that things would be OK for him and the AIDS epidemic would somehow pass him and his friends by, or at least not become worse. I was less vested in Fiona’s story if only because Claire’s estrangement from Fiona seemed loosely defined and not as exciting. Yale’s adventure seemed more present even though it was set in the 80s.

The Boys’ Town characters were amazing and well crafted. A few blended together for me, specifically Asher, and Julian, but a lot of them were vivid and memorable. I loved how even though the entire story takes place after Nico’s death, he’s one of the most present characters throughout the novel. His death has sparked so much in these people’s lives and it stays with Fiona well into her adulthood. Charlie was so easy to imagine and I feel like I’ve met Richard before. I wondered how much of this book was based on experience Makkai had and how much she poured herself into Fiona.

Yale was my favorite character. I loved how he was ‘hopelessly preppy’ and so sweet to everyone. We only see him get honestly mad twice in the book despite everything that happens to him and his friends. He’s a very honest person and he’s someone I would want to be friends with but would probably not have a lot in common with me but be too polite to say anything about it. His devotion to Charlie was admirable. I’m glad he and Fiona became such close friends because he needed her and she was there for him.

Yale’s devotion to his job was something I related to. I recently had a conversation with my husband about how much energy I devote to my job and I was reading this book at the time and didn’t think my dedication was too different from Yale’s. I don’t travel much for work, but I do think about my job and the people it touches a lot when I’m not working. How much Yale worried about the art and the valuation of it struck close to home.

Rebecca Makkai
Image via the author’s website

I loved the subplot with Nora and her art. I thought Yale’s devotion and distraction by this was very telling of his personality. He cared as much about Nora as he did about the art. He cared a lot about people and that’s what made him so sweet and likable. When things in his personal life weren’t going well, he threw himself into his job as a way of distracting himself from what was upsetting and I know I’ve done that so I could relate to him. I loved that his dedication to Nora lasted the entire novel, it was a very sweet friendship that they developed.

Fiona’s modern plotline didn’t do much for me. Her search for Clarie seemed odd. If someone doesn’t want to be found, why do you think looking for them will suddenly spark a relationship? It seemed odd to me that Claire agreed to talk to her mother at all and that was one part of the novel that I didn’t believe. I read an interview with Makkai that she added this section later. I think it did well to draw out the mystery of what happened in Chicago, but it didn’t help me get more into the novel. It actually made me skeptical of Fiona’s character in the 80s plotline.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Michael Crouch and I thought he did a wonderful job with it. His voice was great for Yale and it didn’t strike me as odd when he narrated Fiona’s story. He had a different voice for female characters but it didn’t come off as rude in any way.

Friendship is very important in this novel. Many of the men were abandoned by their families and had to become their own support system. The number of them who signed the power of attorney to Fiona was amazing to me. But it was also justified by how Fiona treated these friends and how close she was to all of them in such a tough time. Their stories are beautiful. The story of the march for health care equality seems to strike me more reading it during protests over police brutality in America right now.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m often struck by stories about things that happened before I was born but were not taught in school. If you think about it, you probably didn’t learn much about what happened in the world in the 20 years before you were born. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that our parents and teachers lived through it and either forget that we didn’t or it’s too painful for them to talk about yet. I was born in 1990 so the mid- to late-eighties isn’t a time I learned a lot about. This is the second book I’ve read that focused on the AIDS epidemic (the other was South of Broad by Pat Conroy) and I’m struck by it in fiction and how I never knew much about it before. Makkai did a great job of teaching me while I was being entertained by her writing.

A masterful book and one I really enjoyed. 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!

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (5 out of 5) |generationgbooks
How Rebecca Makkai Wrote ‘The Great Believers’ | Chicago Review of Books

Book Review: The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel (3/5)

4 Jun

I picked this book up when Mandel did her tour for Station Eleven being the Great Michigan Read. I hadn’t heard anything about it but the cover intrigued me. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I decided to pursue it as an ebook which meant I read this over the course of a month, much slower than I normally read. It made for slow going but it also filled some quiet moments when I needed a story.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Other books by Mandel reviewed on this blog:

Station Eleven (and book club reflection and another book club reflection and meeting the author)

Summary from Goodreads:

Gavin Sasaki was a promising young journalist in New York City until the day he was fired for plagiarism. The last thing he wants is to sell foreclosed real estate for his sister Eilo’s company in their Florida hometown, but he’s in no position to refuse her job offer. Plus, there’s another reason to go home: Eilo recently met a ten-year-old girl who looks very much like Gavin and has the same last name as his high-school girlfriend, Anna, who left town abruptly after graduation.

Determined to find out if this little girl might be his daughter, Gavin sets off to track down Anna, starting with the three friends they shared back when he was part of a jazz group called “The Lola Quartet.” As Gavin pieces together their stories, he learns that Anna has been on the run for good reason, and soon his investigation into her sudden disappearance all those years ago takes a seriously dangerous turn.

This book never pulled me in the way I wanted it to. I wasn’t never so invested in Gavin and Anna that I couldn’t put it down. The mystery unraveled itself so slowly that it didn’t keep me engaged a lot of the time. That being said, the characters were wonderful. Everyone was tragically flawed in a different way and it kept you reading when the plot was slow. While Anna and Gavin are the focus, we still have Sasha and Daniel and Liam who have their own problems and keep the plot moving forward if only to figure out what’s going wrong in their lives. The character development made this book interesting.

The flaws in the characters were very real. Gavin was the most interesting to me. When he got caught in a lie, he wasn’t sure how to get out of it. He didn’t apologize and at first, didn’t seem sorry for what he’d done. He seemed to like to suffer and be a tragic story. I think we’ve all met people like that who we would call Drama Queens but Gavin didn’t fit that for me. His suffering seemed to be deeper and more lasting which gave him some good character depth that made him interesting.

Gavin was my favorite character. I couldn’t get a good picture of him in my head and that made him more interesting. At first, I pictured him short and stocky and then a scene later I’d think he was tall and thin. I’d give him long, graceful fingers, and then a few pages later, I’m picturing him with big feet. He never settled in my mind. This isn’t to say he was inconsistent because his behavior and speech were very consistent. It made him more enjoyable to read about because my picture of him kept changing.

Gavin’s regret was relatable even if I’ve never realized I left a pregnant girlfriend to move to New York. He was torn up about it and I’ve felt torn up about things before, too. He was curious and felt frustrated when people wouldn’t give him straight answers. The way he went about investigating Chloe felt very real and thought out in a way I might have done it.

Me and Mandel

I enjoyed the parts that Sasha narrated. She was a very flawed and beautiful character. I liked her background of gambling and I think it added a great layer to her character. She didn’t trust herself because she was unsure if she was acting as an addict or as a logical person. Her distrust for herself was engaging and it made me look forward to chapters she narrated.

I felt like we never got to know Anna well. She seemed very docile at the beginning but as we learned more and more about her, that flipped and she seemed angry and unreliable and almost evil at times. But you knew she wasn’t a very bad person if she raised Chloe. She seemed to hate men but she relied on a number of them. I never got a good feeling for who she trusted and why anyone trusted her. She’s not someone I ever would have picked for a friend. She floated around more like a ghost. Despite this, everyone seemed to want to be near her and talk to her. I wanted to leave her be and run away.

There are a lot of themes in this book: returning home, fixing past mistakes, protecting a child. I think Gavin grew most in the book and a lot of these can apply to him. He was always trying to escape Sebastian and become someone he couldn’t be when he was there, but he needed to come home and find out who he really was. His life in New York was so fragile that he left with only the clothes on his back and that was fine. He seemed to always have an inkling that he’d done wrong by Anna. (Honestly, I can’t understand why they were together at all, but that’s just me.) He felt that finding her and offering help, though he had almost nothing to offer, was the only way to fix this. Daniel was able to fix some of his past mistakes better than Gavin was. Gavin floundered, unsure what to do to atone for his misses. He had to reconcile with himself what it took to protect Chloe. Would he be helping her or hurting her by coming back into her life? How could he make things better for her and is what Anna did really helpful? I liked how he struggled with this because it felt very real.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book was odd in that it was a slow character-driven thriller. Despite a mystery tone and plot, the people in it shone. I like books that take a spin on what we traditionally think of in a genre and Mandel was able to do that with this one.

Overall, not for me but still enjoyable. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

Some of the links on this post may be affiliate links. Taking on a World of Words is a participant in affiliate programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to products. If you purchase a product or service through an affiliate link, your cost will be the same but Sam will automatically receive a small commission. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Related Posts:
Review of “The Lola Quartet” by Emily St. John Mandel | Rhapsody in Books Weblog
Emily St. John Mandel – The Lola Quartet (Publisher’s Review) | McArthur & Company

Book Review: Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell (4/5)

26 May

I hope everyone had a good Memorial Day! I took the day off to pretend holidays are meaningful during the quarantine. I’m hoping that having finished this book will get the Kansas song out of my head. I’ve been listening to it daily and my husband is getting really sick of me.

Cover image via Goodreads

Wayward Son (Simon Snow #2) by Rainbow Rowell

Other books by Rowell reviewed on this blog:

Attachments (and Book Club Reflection)
Carry On (Simon Snow #1)
Eleanor & Park
Fangirl
Landline

Summary from Goodreads:

The story is supposed to be over.

Simon Snow did everything he was supposed to do. He beat the villain. He won the war. He even fell in love. Now comes the good part, right? Now comes the happily ever after…

So why can’t Simon Snow get off the couch?

What he needs, according to his best friend, is a change of scenery. He just needs to see himself in a new light…

That’s how Simon and Penny and Baz end up in a vintage convertible, tearing across the American West.

They find trouble, of course. (Dragons, vampires, skunk-headed things with shotguns.) And they get lost. They get so lost, they start to wonder whether they ever knew where they were headed in the first place…

This was pure fun. I’m a little wary of this series just because we dove into the final installment but this book took a great turn with it that I’m 100% on board for. The ‘final battle’ is done and all the things we don’t know about Simon’s history don’t matter as much anymore. Now we’ve got characters we like in a fun adventure. Even better, they’re in the Midwest to start so it’s like your favorite fantasy characters visiting your hometown (ish).

The variety of personality types amongst Penny, Baz, and Simon was fun. Penny’s very take-charge and pushy, Simon flies by the seat of his pants, and Baz won’t speak up unless he has to. They make a great team. I think Penny is a bit unbelievable, though. Which is funny to say since she’s the only non-vampire non-winged character. Her personality is so pushy that I’ve never met someone anywhere near her level and I took honors classes in college. If you’re going to meet a pushy personality, it’s there. And no one was anywhere close to her. So I think it’s ironic that the human character is the one I don’t believe in.

Baz was my favorite character. He is most like me so I could understand him better than the other characters with narrations. He and I approach life in similar ways and my husband is as impulsive as Simon sometimes so I related to having to reign someone in a bit. I thought he handled his vampirism well and it was always fun to read about how he fought the urges to bite Penny or Simon and things that affected him differently because of it.

I probably related best with Baz and Simon in regards to their relationship. I’m not a ‘touchy’ person (it’s my least strong love language) but my husband loves to snuggle and hold hands and put his arm around me. The way Simon always hesitated to touch Baz and Baz was afraid Simon didn’t like him because he pushed off any physical intimacy resonated with me. I’m like Simon: I can like someone a lot and not even think of holding hands or walking arm in arm. I can see how it was frustrating to Baz, it’s a conversation I’ve been a part of.

Rainbow Rowell
Image via Goodreads

The time in Las Vegas was so fun. I adored the idea that the city is run by vampires. It makes so much sense! Learning about the vampire culture was really fun and I enjoyed Lamb a lot. I hope he appears in future novels though it seems we’re leaving him behind in LV and heading back to England.

Tying Micah into the story seemed unnecessary except to make Penny single. But with Simon and Baz being together, I don’t understand why that was important. Is Shephard going to be a new love interest? As much as Penny is broken up about it initially, he isn’t mentioned after two days so it’s a bit of a flash in the pan. It only served to put them on an epic road trip to California. I do laugh about how non-Americans can’t fathom how big our country is.

The audiobook was narrated by Euan Morton. I think his overdramatization of Penny was part of why I didn’t like her very much. Simon seemed a bit giddy, too. I liked how he did Baz and his American accent for Shepard wasn’t bad. Agatha sounded a bit like a Valley Girl which was finally appropriate because of where she was living but was still irritating.

I didn’t get a lot of strong themes from this book. The growing tenderness between Simon and Baz was touching, but I don’t think it qualifies as a theme. I’m wondering if it’s something like, “It takes all types”? That might be the best fit I can think of. Shepard ended up being very helpful even after he was written off initially. And without his magic, Simon is still useful in fights. Baz being a vampire ended up being an asset instead of a detriment like he seems to think it normally is.

Writer’s Takeaway: Not every book needs to take itself seriously or have a strong message. This book was fun. It dealt with friendships and relationships and long, fun journeys in multiple stolen vehicles. Simon and Baz’s relationship was strengthened but nothing decisive happened to the characters. It was fun, it was an adventure, and it has me anxious to come back for more. Nothing wrong with that.

I enjoyed the book overall. 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:
Carry On + Wayward Son, there’ll be angst when you are done | inkandplasma
Book Review: Carry On & Wayward Son By: Rainbow Rowell | Bookcave
Review: Rainbow Rowell- Wayward Son | Anniek’s Library