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Book Club Reflection: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

17 May

My book club met over Zoom to read Balli Kaur Jaswal’s Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows. I’ll be honest and say my book club’s discussion on this book got a little off track really fast and I didn’t get a lot of notes about our meeting. There were a lot of comments I didn’t feel were based on fact and I didn’t feel comfortable recording to report here. There was a lot of discussion about cultural traditions in India surrounding widowhood and marriage but none of us have first-hand experience with this cultural tradition. One reader talked about a documentary she’d watched that she believed was called “The Invisible Widows” and thought it was from the National Geographic. I can’t find this so if anyone has a link, please share it in the comments below; I’d be interested to see what this reader was talking about.

Our moderator told us that this is Jaswal’s third book and that her fourth is out now. The newest is also about British-born Punjabi characters. When picking this book, our moderator was nervous for a moment that it would be considered too racy. She explained her logic by saying that often in our culture, we come across extreme violence and are numb to it. When we come across explicit sexual content, we’re affected. Of these two things, we hope to come across one in our lifetime and not the other, yet the one we hope to find is what affects us. As a society, we may want to reconsider that.

I do not have a sister but the readers who did felt that the relationship between Nikki and Mindy seemed right. It was fitting that they were so hard on each other and that they could be so different having come from the same family. The only other character we discussed was Kulwinder, who is the most dynamic character in the story aside from Nikki. She became more likeable as the book went on. You realized what was happening to her and what had happened to her family and started to pity her. You also see that she’s fighting for women and their independence as much as Nikki wants to. The two are actually very natural allies.

I’m not sure if I’ll be continuing with this book club. Our organizer is moving on to another job and we’re taking off June. I plan to attend in July but with Baby coming in early August, I might take a break and possibly pick up with the book club at new local library. It was going to get tricky when we started meeting in person again and I have a feeling that by the time things with Baby have calmed down, they’ll be back to the bar for meetings. But we shall see.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Off-Topic Thursday: Little Turtle

25 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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

8 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

Announcing the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge

31 Dec

It’s back again! I’ll be running the When Are You Reading? Challenge yet again in 2021. Hopefully, I’m not scrambling to finish it on New Year’s Eve next year (less than two hours left in the final audiobook as I type this!). I think the set up worked well last year so I’m going to run with it again.

The premise of the challenge is to read one book from each of twelve time periods. It’s up to the reader where a book lies. You can do it based on publication date or setting, whatever you want. Feel free to switch it up, too.

The challenge page will be set up today. If you’d like to participate, leave me a comment somewhere on the blog letting me know and giving me a link to your challenge page or post. I’ll add a link to my challenge page so other readers can visit you and see what you’ve been reading. 

The time periods are:

  • Pre 1300
  • 1300-1499
  • 1500-1699
  • 1700-1799
  • 1800-1899
  • 1900-1919
  • 1920-1939
  • 1940-1959
  • 1960-1979
  • 1980-1999
  • 2000-Present
  • The Future

I do hope you’ll consider joining me. I’ve had a lot of fun with this challenge over the past several years and I’m looking forward to doing it again.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Off Topic Thursday: Moving

26 Nov

I’m sure almost everyone reading this already knows but, man, does moving suck!

It’s great to write about this in hindsight, meaning that the moving is over and my life is not in a box or half in one location and half gone anymore. We are unpacked. We are not organized. That comes later. But being unpacked is such a blessing.

My husband and I had three weeks where we owned both the house and the apartment. They’re about 30 minutes apart. We decided that every night we could, we’d take a SUV-load of stuff over to the house. This ended up being about four times per week. We moved a fair amount of stuff this way, including some small furniture. The most important thing for me was moving my china cabinet and my china. The set I have was purchased by my paternal great-grandmother and I have crystal from my maternal grandmother. If anyone breaks it, I might murder them. So I wanted to be responsible if it broke. Thankfully, it all made it safely and I had the cabinet set up before anything else major happened.

We rented a 20-foot moving truck for one day and did our best to get it all moved. We employed the help of four friends (limited because of COVID) and all four of our parents. It was a whirlwind, starting at 9am and taking us until 7pm to get all the things we needed moved to where we needed them. Getting a refrigerator into our basement was a task I never want to repeat again. Our friends are amazing and I’m so excited to say it all made it in.

Most of our belongings were packed in red plastic totes that my dad borrowed from his company. They’d used them to move a few months back and they were strong and stackable which made them ideal for moving. The issue was that a week after we moved in, the company needed them back! We frantically had to unpack all of them so we could take them to my dad. It really forced us to unpack faster than we probably would have otherwise, but it did help us feel moved in.

There’s still a lot to go. We want to re-arrange a lot of the shelves in the kitchen and move things around our storage room, but we’re in. Those can be tackled over the long, hard winter when I don’t want to go outside. For now, I have a house!

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Book Club Reflection: The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Cho

20 Oct

My book club met via Zoom again for our last meeting, a discussion of Yangsze Choo’s The Ghost Bride. I had finished the book earlier that day so I was excited to get a chance to discuss it so soon after finishing it.

Choo is 4th from the fourth generation of Chinese to live in Malaysia. She traveled a lot in her life and went to Harvard in the US. She now lives in San Francisco. It’s easy to see how her birth influenced this book. Many of us enjoyed the exposure to Chinese funeral customs and understanding how a different culture looks at the afterlife. Many of us compared the Plains of the Dead to Purgatory but they’re very different, which we realized when we started talking about them. There was a good deal of superstition in the novel. It manifested more in the older, less educated characters like Amah and Old Wong. Tian Bai and Li Lan’s father, for example, were less tolerant of old superstitions.

We had some conflicting opinions on the plot of the novel. Some felt like the plot went along well and didn’t get bogged down with side characters and side plots. Others of us felt it was very slow at times and a bit predictable. We did feel like Li Lan didn’t grow much during her story. It started to feel like a YA novel at times because she was so head-over-heels in insta-love with Tian Bai and was do repulsed by Lim Tian Ching that it felt oversimplified. We discussed the corruption side plot and didn’t feel it was a very strong plot. Most of us were surprised by Fan’s betrayal; no one saw that one coming!

We spent a lot of time talking about the ending. Li Lan seems to change her mind about Tian Bai very quickly and that was part of my frustration with the end. One reader pointed out that she seemed to lose her favor for him as she saw him like the things in Fan she despised. She seemed to think that if he couldn’t tell the difference between them and believed that she valued jewels and gifts, he didn’t really know her and wasn’t the love match she expected. She projecting her dislike for Fan onto Tian Bai. A lot of us felt like it was a cheap reason for her to end up with Er Lang, though. After so much time pining after Tian Bai, it felt weird to have her change her goal.

A few readers had watched the Netflix mini-series for this book but I wasn’t aware it existed! I’m excited to give it a try soon. I hear it’s well done so I have high hopes.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Off Topic Thursday: Triathlon Season 2020

24 Sep

Well, there wasn’t much of a triathlon season to 2020 but it did happen. I was originally signed up for five triathlons this season along with two road races and two swim meets. Of all that, I did one triathlon.

The race that did happen is a favorite of mine. It’s in Northern Michigan near my parent’s lake house, so it feels like a hometown race while it’s in a destination setting. This is my fifth year participating in the event. It’s always the week after Labor Day which is the beginning of the slow season for Northern Michigan. The weather can be a bit unpredictable.

My husband and I spent the week before the race at the lake house which afforded me the opportunity to swim on the course on Thursday. It was the most ideal weather swim I can ever remember. Lake Huron can be unpredictable, though, and the glass-like water I experienced on Thursday was not the 3 foot waves I saw on Saturday morning. Fortunately, the water temperature stayed above 60. They’ve canceled the swim in past years because of cold water temperatures mixing with cold air temps. This year, they kept the swim but shortened it from 1500m to only 500m. I was crushed. The swim is my strongest discipline and I usually gain 5-8 minutes on my competitors in the water. With a shortened swim, I knew my chances of finishing on top of the podium again were slipping away.

There were a lot of COVID procedures for this race but they were well communicated and people were good about following them. One was that we wouldn’t have volunteers to write our race numbers on our arms and calves so we had to do it ourselves. This ended up with racer #6 trying to left-handed draw a six on his right bicep which was fun to watch and he was a good sport about how bad it looked. We also had more spacing in transition, wore masks, had our temperatures checked, and had no awards ceremony after the event. All perfectly reasonable and safe steps to bring us back to racing.

We were lined up in the order we registered which made me #3 because I signed up the first day. It seems the first 10 of us signed up that day. We were released three seconds apart and I easily overtook the first two swimmers before the first turn. The swim was a bit difficult because the waves made it hard to sight the buoys but I made it in pretty fast time. The KayaTri (kayak, bike, run) athletes got mixed up with us so the worst part was almost being hit by a kayak near the end of the swim.

The 24.8 mile bike went pretty well. I didn’t get as much bike training in this year as I did last year and I still averaged 17 mph which is good for me. I had two other woman in my race pass me on the bike but I kept pushing and I’m happy with how it went overall. It was colder air temperature than I’d hoped for so the day before I went and bought a quarter-zip pullover at WalMart that ended up being a saving grace on the bike course.

The run felt off from the beginning. I was passed early on by a woman who I knew from the previous year was an amazing runner. I ended up walking a little bit every mile because my body was exhausted. I had some men pass me but no more women. About 1.5 miles from the end, I saw an athlete in front of me. I asked a volunteer if it was a man or a woman and he looked at them as they were walking through a water station and said, “That’s a man.” I was relived that I didn’t need to feel pressured to pass! However, the volunteer must have thought I was asking about the people manning the water station because as I got closer, I realized the athlete was a woman and she was fading fast. It was one of the women who passed me on the bike! I was able to move ahead of her with about a mile to go and a kick in the pants not to stop again before crossing the finish line.

The end of the race was odd because we immediately picked up our bikes, gear, and finisher plaque and left. They were going to do drive-by awards where you told a volunteer your age, race, and number so they could hand you an award. I was surprised to see I’d finished in 3rd overall! One woman who beat me was the strong runner. I’d beat her last year only because of the longer swim. The woman who won was new to the race and had a fantastic finish. The woman I passed in the run was an amazing biker who came in 3rd last year.

I have no idea when I’ll race again but I’m really glad to have had the opportunity to do so this year. If nothing else, I hope to do this race next year as it’s a favorite course for me. I’ve just got to work on that bike speed.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Happy 7th Birthday to Taking on a World of Words!

15 Sep

Another year completed. I knew this one was coming up soon and I was really glad to see I’d hit seven years blogging. The past six months have been crazy and it’s nice to celebrate milestones for things that haven’t stopped. One of my rituals on my blogoversary is to think what my blog would be able to do if it were a child. This list is getting so comprehensive that I can picture little Blog going off to second grade. I hope she likes it.

  • Becoming thoughtful and reflective
  • Can tell time
  • Develop self-criticism
  • Can solve math problems by counting
  • Develop empathy
  • Write her own name

Yes, Blog is a girl. I’m not sure why, but that’s how I picture it. Yet again, here are some numbers to show my blog’s growth over the past year. Numbers are taken from 14-Sep, nine days after my blogoversary.

It seems the Bird Box craze from last year has simmered down a bit. A lot of my traffic is still focused around WWW Wednesday which I love. I’m seeing more to do with my book club reflections which I’m glad to see. It makes me happy to know I come up in searches for people who also want to discuss books and who want to see what others thought. And, still, I’m pretty sure I’m being used to finish book reports on Shakespeare. Oh well. 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!

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

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The Tory Audiobook Media Blitz

9 Sep

Welcome to a rare second post here on the blog. I try not to do this, but this is a special circumstance.

I asked to be a part of the media blitz for The Tory by T.J. London because I used to be in a writing group with the author. I learned about it at the last minute but Caffeinated PR still gave me a slot and I’m very thankful. They were wonderful to work with when I had trouble with the audio file, too. I’ll be posting my review of this book tomorrow but know that I gave it Four out of Five stars and have already added the sequel to my TBR. I’ll share more tomorrow but please enjoy today. Scroll down for an audio sample and to enter a giveaway for a signed copy of the prequel, an audiobook cover signed by the authors, and a themed face mask!

 

 
 
THE TORY written by T. J. London and narrated by Shane East, Tara Langella, Marnye Young and Patrick Zeller is now available for audio everywhere! Listen to a sample and enter to win The Tory Prize package.

The first in The Rebels and Redcoats Saga this historical tale has suspense, war, romance and more.

The Tory

His King or His Conscience…which will he choose?

It is the winter of 1776, and Captain John Carlisle, one of His Majesty’s not-so-finest, has gone back to the scene of the crime to right a wrong so dark it left a permanent stain on what was once an illustrious career and left a man broken, defeated, in search of justice…

In an effort to win back his commission, he must discover the true nature of the relationship between the Six Nations of the Iroquois and the Colonial Army. Undercover as a war profiteer, John travels to the treacherous Mohawk River Valley and infiltrates local society, making friends with those he’s come to betray. But a chance meeting with a beautiful half Oneida innkeeper, whose tragic history is integrally linked to his own, will provide him with the intelligence he needs to complete his mission—and devastate her people.

Now, as the flames of war threaten to consume the Mohawk Valley, John has the chance to not only serve King and country, but to clear his name. When the truth he uncovers ties his own secrets to those in the highest positions of the British military and threatens the very life of the woman he’s come to love, he will be forced to make a choice…

Audible US | Audible UK

About the Author


T.J. London is a rebel, liberal, lover, fighter, diehard punk, and pharmacist-turned-author who loves history. As an author her goal is to fill in the gaps, writing stories about missing history, those little places that are so interesting yet sadly forgotten. Her favorite time periods to write in are first and foremost the American Revolutionary War, the French Revolution, the French and Indian War, the Russian Revolution and the Victorian Era. Her passions are traveling, writing, reading, barre, and sharing a glass of wine with her friends, while she collects experiences in this drama called life. She is a native of Metropolitan Detroit (but secretly dreams of being a Londoner) and resides there with her husband Fred and her beloved cat and writing partner Mickey.

Website | Twitter  | Facebook Instagram Newsletter 

Giveaway

One US winner will receive a signed copy of Man of War, an autographed and framed audiobook cover of The Tory signed by narrators, and a fan face mask. Ends September 17, 2020.

Link to Rafflecopter Giveaway

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!

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

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Book Club Reflection: The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian

8 Sep

My book club met via Zoom again to discuss our latest pick, The Narcissism of Small Differences by Michael Zadoorian. I’ve been finishing books closer to the meeting date lately so I had very clear memories of this one and was excited to discuss.

Unfortunately, I was not in the overwhelming majority of people who liked the book. We were rather split. Some enjoyed it, others didn’t. Most of us did enjoy that it was local and set in an area we knew or were familiar with. Unfortunately, many found the characters unlikeable and we don’t think they were supposed to be. Most of the characters couldn’t see beyond their own problems. Malcolm seemed to be the only exception to this. Readers found the characters whiney. However, they were ‘different like everyone else’ and in that sense, I found them pretty realistic. Many liked the side characters more than Joe and Ana. Chick and Adrianne were favorites. Some readers felt the anti-Christian comments made in reference to Karen and Woman Lyfe were uncalled for.

A lot of our discussions focused on Joe and Ana’s relationship. We tried to decide if we thought it was a good and healthy relationship and a lot of people felt it had a lot of flaws. Some said they’d get sick of Joe not working. He didn’t seem to have much a life outside the little work he did and going to the bar. (Personally, I wondered how much the opinions would have changed had Ana been the one not working, but that’s just me.) A lot of things they did as a couple seemed to have dropped off and disappeared as their friends found other interests or moved away.

Another major question was if Ana was really so wrong about kissing Bruce and if her actions deserved the reaction Joe had. Personally, I felt that the bigger issue was not telling Joe about their kiss and a few people agreed with me. Another reader pointed out that she had started to be intimate with Bruce when she hadn’t been with Joe in so long. And even more ‘weird’ was that she was intimate with Joe after returning from Grand Rapids. It was iffy and some of us felt it was more justified than others.

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!

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

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