Archive | General RSS feed for this section

Vacation Time!

6 Dec

I’m off to Florida today for a quick girls’ get-away. I’ll be back Monday with more content and, hopefully, I’ve finished a book or two!

I’m going to Universal to visit Harry Potter World again. Check Instagram for pictures.

Bye!

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!

Advertisements

Off Topic Thursday: Michigan

29 Nov

I think everyone is proud of where they’re from. I know I am. I was born in Metro Detroit and after living in southern Indiana for four years, I moved back and I’ve been here ever since. I’m very proud of where I’m from and I’d love to give people an idea of Michigan that’s not a bankrupt murder capital. I mean, that’s not wrong, but it’s not the whole truth.

When I was in fourth grade, we focused on Michigan history. We talked about Detroit (day-twa) founding Detroit and the Native American tribes that were common in this area. We visited Lansing, our state capital, and learned about state government. The summer after that year, my mom took my brother and me on a trip around the state that I’ll never forget. She was intrigued about the things I’d learned that summer. She wanted to see the Mackinaw Bridge, the boat wrecks in Lake Superior, the cherries in Traverse City (TRAV-erse), and the waterfalls in the UP (upper peninsula). So we spent a week driving around the state and seeing all these things. So when my brother started fourth grade, he’d already seen it all.

I’ve been lucky to see the city of Detroit change. When I was young, we didn’t go downtown. No one did. Unless you worked there, you never went and if you did work there, you came home right away. When I came back from college, things had started to change. The crime was better controlled and businesses were starting to see the future of the city. There were desirable things to do downtown. We went for fun and if there was a sports game, we’d go early and grab dinner or stay late and have a drink. Detroit is a rare city with four professional sports teams (Lions, and Tigers and Wings, oh my! [and the Pistons]) so there’s often a good reason to visit. I’ll be graduating from a downtown university soon and I got used to being in the city by myself and enjoying my time there.

The metro area is hugely diverse. The city has a majority African-American population and ten minutes west, in Dearborn, we have a majority Arab population. The high-tech automotive industry draws educated people from around the world. My husband’s high school was 40% East Asian. I went to high school in an area that was so heavily Jewish that we got Jewish holidays off in the public school district. Moving to Indiana, I really missed this diversity and never had appreciated it until it was gone.

I’ve made a point to visit more of my home state now that I have the means to. My husband and I had a wonderful camping vacation in the UP a few years ago. We explored old copper mines and had a campsite right on Lake Superior. My parents have a cottage 20 minutes from Lake Huron and we go up a few times a summer. One of my running goals is to do a race in every county of the Lower Peninsula and I’m making steady progress (though it will take some time!). As much as we’re known for Detroit, a lot of the state is rural and forested. There are a lot of farms and deer hunting is a major past time in the fall.

So I hope I can give some of you a slightly different look at Michigan. We’re not all Eminem and only a small part of our state still doesn’t have clean drinking water (Flint Water Crisis). Not all our cities are bankrupt (just the biggest one) and it’s not always cold. I love my state and every terrible and beautiful inch of it. I bet your hometown is great, too, but I wouldn’t trade Michigan for anything.

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!

Happy Thanksgiving!

22 Nov

In lieu of a post today, I’d like to wish all my American readers a happy Thanksgiving! I’ll be Turkey Trotting this morning and stuffing my face with stuffing and pie (the best parts of Thanksgiving) tonight.

Have a safe and happy holiday, I’ll be back next week.

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!

Off Topic Thursday: Halloween

25 Oct

Welcome to this holiday edition of Off-Topic Thursday. It seemed appropriate to talk about one of my favorite holidays with it’s own post.

My husband is the reason I love Halloween. When we went to college in different states, he would always visit me for Halloween. We’d wear costumes and go to a party and it was when he met a lot of my friends. When we got older, we decided we needed to throw Halloween parties to celebrate every year. And we decided we needed to make our own costumes. Because those are always better.

View this post on Instagram

To infinity and beyond! #halloween2015

A post shared by Sam Ann Elizabeth (@samannelizabeth) on

This was the first time I really rocked it. It involved scissors and fabric paint. A bit of work, but really not too bad. Last year, we did three costumes.

This was the simple one. It was punny and for a house party at our friend’s place. I had to eat at Taco Bell a few times that week and ask politely for extra (clean) papers, but it still wasn’t bad to make.

This was for a 10K run. It was my favorite. A lot of fabric paint and some scissors for this one. The worst part was the face paint. I don’t like face paint at all and I’ve vowed to not use it again. Which also includes my ‘no wigs’ rule.

This one was my other favorite. We had our two real turtles ‘dressed’ as the other two TMNT. (We printed out pictures and taped them on their tanks.) The shells on the back and the plates on the front were fun to do and I had a blast fabric painting in our kitchen.

My husband outdid me this year. I don’t have a good picture yet but it’s coming. Our party is this weekend and he’s been working on this costume for ten months. It does not disappoint. We’re going to have to come up with something really epic for 2019. Keep an eye on my Instagram for the bit update.

Until next time, spooky 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!

I Like Big Audiobooks (And I Cannot Lie)

23 Oct

For the past two months, I’ve been making my way through Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire on audiobook. I’m loving it. The story is great, the characters are dynamic, and it’s a good end to the trilogy.

However, it’s reeeeeeeally long. The hardcover is 916 pages. The audiobook is 24 disks. I’m on disk 22. So close!

The problem becomes that the audiobook case is huge. This has caused many problems for me since I started it. No one can sit in my passenger seat and not notice it. Normally, audiobooks fit between my passenger seat and center console but this one is in a double-wide box. It gets tossed in the back with a passenger. My husband held it on a recent shopping trip and got so used to holding it that it started carrying it into the store before he realized he still had it.

It makes it difficult to change disks, too. I can’t lay the box in my lap beneath the steering wheel because there’s not enough space between my legs and the steering wheel. It’s best to be at a stop light to change it and I’ve re-listened to track 1 a few times to get to a good place to disk change.

Lastly, I’ve had to renew this audiobook the maximum number of times. If I don’t finish by 2-November, I’m looking at late fees (or the hassle of calling the library and asking for another extension). Even with my drive to class giving me more car time, this is still taking up a lot of my life. My normal read-through rate is much lower while I’m trying to get through this book.

But I love it. I enjoy long stories and falling in love with characters that are going to stick around for a while. There are a few more massive books I want to read and enjoying them on audio is a great way to keep myself calm in traffic and save my wrists the strain of holding the book up.

So I’ll admit, I like big audiobooks. I’ll keep enjoying them for years to come. Though I think they’ll eventually become big files and will all be on my iPhone. Which means I need to archive my pictures a bit sooner. I’m not sure I’ll like that so much.

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 Club Reflection: The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

15 Oct

I was overly optimistic that my recent book club discussion of The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert would reveal some major themes that I’d been oblivious to and help me understand the book.  It seems that everyone walked away from the book as confused as I was. On the bad side, there’s no new insight. On the good side, I’m not completely thick.

Most of us agreed that the slow build of the book at the beginning was enjoyable. We could all feel something creepy building. But the second half of the book seemed to be a complete 180 from the first half and didn’t seem to connect at all. It was disorienting as a reader.

We debated the setting and how much it was set in reality. One reader noticed that the sun rose in the west, so she assumed that this world wasn’t our own. The quality of the writing wasn’t what bothered us. We could easily picture this world. We got the feeling that the work was set in England after a war. We debated if it was a reference to the Children being sent from London during WWII but decided this was wrong. Though David showing up with a tag did draw up images of this time. There was a great sense of the setting and how it was slightly off, but without a hard answer, we didn’t like the lack of resolution.

We wondered if the ‘story’ of the children in the book meant they came from our world. Them all having been gassed would account for their knowledge of the evils of the world. It made sense for Engel to be the woman shot at the Children’s Home. One reader informed us Engel is German for Angel.

We noticed the two points of view, Morgan and Dr. Crane. Dr. Crane was usually a calm and cool character throughout but toward the end, he lost his temper and Morgan had to switch roles and calm him down. We noticed that the doctor seemed to act less and less like an adult as the book went on. At the same time, David matured more and more, as if they were working in opposite directions through life. The subtitle for Chapter 13 mentions Dr. Crane making an inquiry into something, but only David appears in the chapter. We might have figured something out!

Morgan’s mother was a bossy gardener. She cared a lot for her plants. She used her power to oversee the garden. Some saw this as foreshadowing for the importance of gardening later in the novel. Rebecca implied at one point that their mother had a potting shed back at the house. If the children were planted or grown there, we still don’t understand.

Many saw this as a novel about class struggle. The children had to subvert the power struggle. Engel’s name makes more sense when one recalls that Marx founded his idea of communism with Friedrich Engels. Rebecca represented capitalism and the accumulation of power on the back of the working-class children. Before David leaves, he says that they’ve made a difference ‘for now’ but implies it won’t last and that things won’t change.

There were a lot of things in the novel we didn’t understand, and which were left unresolved. The anatomical woman in the attic drew many different theories. Morgan’s grandfather’s collection of things was something else we felt lacked closure. Overall, the book felt a bit sloppy.

We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a more satisfying novel next month. We’ll meet in November but will skip December to enjoy the holidays. 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!

Day Off

2 Oct

I do hate to do these, but I need a day off. Between school and my charity bike ride this weekend, I’m a bit worn out. I’ll be back tomorrow for WWW Wednesday, don’t you worry! I’ll have something Thursday, too. I just need one day to snooze and recover. I hope to finish some books and have something great to post.

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!

Off Topic Thursday: Turtles

27 Sep

When I told my boyfriend (now husband) that I was allergic to cats and dogs, I thought he was going to break up with me. He grew up with both in the house and thought it was a given that any home would have at least one free-range furry friend living in it. He spent the two years we were engaged talking about hypo-allergenic cats and dogs and even looked up the price of a pure-bred Siberian cat.

For the six months leading up to our wedding, he was finishing up at school and I was living alone and was very lonely. Following what had always worked for him, he decided to get me a pet for my birthday. I’d had an Eastern Box Turtle growing up and he decided it was time for me to have another turtle in my life. That’s how we came to have Jane.

Jane is a really sweet-manored girl and we’ve bee so lucky to have her in our lives. She has only bit me once, the first day we had her! I picked her up wrong and have never made that mistake again! She’s not cat, but my husband has grown to really love her and enjoy taking care of a reptile. They have a lot more of a personality than one might think!

We’d moved to a bigger apartment and had purchased a bigger tank when a co-worker approached me about a friend who needed to re-home his turtle. Apparently, his wife was not a bit fan and he was told the turtle would not be moving with them to their new house. We were asked if we could provide a home for a 15-year-old male, Marty. Fortunately, we were able to oblige.

Marty was very different right from the start. He’s much more aggressive and even bit Jane when we tried to put them in the same tank. He has a bad habit of begging for food by splashing loudly when we’re in the kitchen. Jane has started to pick it up so we’re not pleased. He’s also a little escape artist and we’ve twice had to track him down around the apartment when we realized he wasn’t in his tank. For reference, the lid of his tank is about 5 feet off the ground. He’s a tough little thing.

So I don’t have cute little furry friends but I do have cute little scaley cold-blooded friends. My husband and I love being turtle parents, mostly because it’s so relaxed and we can leave them for the weekend without worry. If you’re in the same allergy-boat as me, consider reptiles! They make great pets. I secretly want a lizard but I don’t want to buy live crickets.

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!

Happy 5th Birthday to Taking on a World of Words!

13 Sep

It seemed appropriate that this happened on a Wednesday! Last week I had my 5th Blogoversary and I’m so excited to share it with all of you! There aren’t many things I’ve done for five years straight so I’m proud that this has been a constant in my life.

One of my rituals on my blogoversary is to think what my blog would be able to do if it were a child. My mother might prefer it another way, but this is what I’ve got.

  • Learn to sing and dance
  • Can tell the difference between reality and fiction
  • Tells a simple story using full sentences
  • Uses the future tense
  • Can print some letters and numbers
  • Can do a somersault.

It’s time for Kindergarten! No longer a toddler, I’ve got a school-aged blog on my hands.

Yet again, here are some numbers to show my blog’s growth over the past year. Numbers are taken from 19-Sep, so four days after my blogoversary. It came on so fast I didn’t have time to celebrate right away.

Why am I feeling like my book is being plagiarized for high school English essays? These search terms are making me uncomfortable. Hm. I can’t thank my loyal readers enough for engaging with me here on my blog. I think the referrers and clicks really show! I’m really blessed to have individuals reading here who love books as much as I do and who enjoy WWW Wednesday and the community it has created. It’s been a joy to run this blog and learn about new books from other book lovers. You all make this experience worthwhile.

Thank you all so much for reading along with my reading adventures. I love sharing a love of books with you all. You make finishing a book even more exciting!

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!

Off Topic Thursday: Europe Trip

30 Aug

I’ve been building up to this for eight months not but it finally happened! My husband and I took a two-week trip to Europe last month. Some called it a second honeymoon, others a 5-year anniversary trip and I thought of it as an early graduation present to myself. This was my third time traveling in Europe but it was only my husband’s first!

Our first stop was Amsterdam. A friend of mine from high school swimming now lives there so we were able to stay at his place. I really fell in love with the city and if I was going to return to any of our destinations, it would be Amsterdam. Some of our highlights include a bike tour of the countryside, the Anne Frank House, and the MOCO Museum.

Next, we went to Belfast. I planned this stop just to see the Titanic Museum. We spent 7 hours there, completely missing our lunch that day and it was SO WORTH IT! My inner Titanic nerd was well served and I give the museum my highest recommendation. We spent the second day on a Paddywagon tour to see Giant’s Causeway which was beautiful.

From there we moved on to Barcelona and all the paella I could eat. We enjoyed Park Güell and La Sagrada Familia immensely. I wanted to see the church before it’s finished (fingers crossed for 2026!) and I want to see it again when it’s done. We also took a day to relax on the beach and explore the Gothic Quarter.

We went to Belgium and met with a friend of mine from high school. He’s German and had been an exchange student at my high school and we kept in touch since. The last time we saw each other was for our wedding so it really felt like an anniversary trip here. We toured the Parlamentarium building, saw the Antonium and the Mannekin Pis. Really, we drank a lot of good beer and had waffles. The city was really beautiful and I was amazed by the history packed into the center of town that we ended up walking through to get anywhere.

Our last stop was Reykjavik. We got to see puffins and whales which was one of the things I was most looking forward to on that leg of the trip. The city is quite small so we got to see everything we wanted to and more. If you ever go stop in Icelandic Street Food for some amazing soup and the best hospitality I’ve ever experienced.

That’s my quick overview but I have a ton of pictures on Instagram that I haven’t included here. Please consider following me if you don’t already and check out some other great moments from my trip. It was incredible and something I won’t soon forget. I’m already planning something for my next vacation so stay tuned for more!

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!