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Favorite Female Writer: #1

19 Oct

Monday, I told you that my #3 favorite female writer was S.E. Hinton. Tuesday, I told you my #2 favorite female writer was Philippa Gregory. Today, I’m going to talk about my #1 favorite female writer and I’m going to guess this isn’t a surprise for anyone who’s been around my blog for very long.

J.K. Rowling
Image via The Telegraph

J.K. Rowling

Surprise! (Or not…) I was introduced to Rowling when I was about 9 years old. The third Harry Potter book had come out and after some resistance, I started reading the series from the beginning and fell in love. I was just the right age for these books and grew with Harry as the books went on. The movies were right on pace with my childhood as well. The series is my favorite of all time and one I’m sure I’ll re-read and re-enjoy with any future children I may have.

I’m not, on the whole, a big S&F fan. There are exceptions, to be sure, and HP is the biggest of those. I think one of the most endearing qualities about HP is that it appeals to those who don’t traditionally enjoy fantasy because there are elements to it that go beyond the traditional elements of that genre. It has mass appeal and even though it was aimed at children, it’s very popular with young adults and adults.

My adoration for Rowling grew when she started to branch beyond Potter. A Casual Vacancy wasn’t for me and a lot of others agreed. I do, however, enjoy the Cormoran Strike series. I understand why she initially opened up under another name and I admire her for continuing on. Like my stance on S&F, I’m not usually a big mystery fan but, again, Rowling has brought to her books something I can enjoy and connect with. The long story of Robin and Matthew and Cormoran’s role in Robin’s life is intriguing, even when I’m not very interested in the case at hand. Rowling has created great characters and I can’t wait to read more about them.

Rowling started writing when she was unemployed and down on her luck. She wrote because she needed to. She knew the story needed to come out. I always strive for that feeling, but I know it’s not always achievable. I crave the days when my story is so strong in my head that I know I have to write it. I think of those days when I’m not having one. Rowling was braver than I’ll ever be and took a chance to get her story written and I greatly admire her for that.

I doubt this is a surprise for anyone, but I had to share my love for Ms. Rowling. She defined a generation that I’m blessed to be a part of and I hope it continues to inspire for generations to come.

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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Favorite Female Writers: #2

17 Oct

And I’m back! Yesterday I posted to tell you why S.E. Hinton is my #3 favorite female writer and today I’m back to give you the story behind my #2 favorite female writer. Get ready.

Philippa Gregory
Image via Fantastic Fiction

Philippa Gregory

My mom introduced me to Gregory’s books in late high school and instilled a love for British historical fiction that I still suffer from. I’ve read a stupidly high number of Gregory books and enjoyed a lot of them. One of the best part of Gregory’s books is that there are still some coming out! Her interpretation of the lives of the Tudor queens, in particular, has blended with history in my mind and I’m not sure I’ll ever tell them apart well.

To be sure, there are books of Gregory’s I’ve enjoyed more than others. I always recommend the same few titles to those who are unfamiliar with her work: The Other Boleyn GirlThe Queen’s Fool, and The Constant Princess. There are some I’ve disliked over the years, but remembering how much I enjoyed these three has made me come back to her time and time again. My experience with Gregory has helped me branch out to other historical eras and genres and I’ve found a love for the genre and a desire to write my own history.

I’ll admit I’m not a dedicated reader and many Gregory books have come out that I’ve skipped or not gotten to. I read ones about historical figures that spark my interest. Catherine of Aragorn is very interesting to me, thus my love for The Constant Princess. Gregory has focused on many women in history, some I find more deserving than others in my personal assessment and those have earned my readership.

One of the things I adore most about a Gregory book is the detail and history involved. Now, some of her books can get a little too detailed, but many of them have rich details that enhanced the story and keep it moving along. Her depiction of the daily parts of life is my favorite. There are practices and pastimes she brings into the stories as well as vocabulary and niceties that I adore. She weaves them in seamlessly and makes the reader feel like he or she is living in the time period.

I know many people commented they hadn’t explored Gregory’s vast works yet when I was reading her recently. I encourage people to give her a try because there’s such a variety that it’s hard to think there’s nothing in her booklist for any reader.

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!

Star Wars Reads Day 2017

12 Oct

Last weekend, my husband and I ventured out to the library to celebrate the fifth annual Star Wars Reads Day at our library. Despite this being the fifth and it being sponsored by the Friends (of which I’m a board member) and a good friend of mine being a key organizer, this was my first time attending. I won’t like, it was the light saber battle demonstration that got me to go.

My library is better than yours! #fclswrd17 @farmlib

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

If that doesn’t get people to the library, I’m not sure what will. It’s worth noting how quiet it is in that room because five minutes earlier, the Jedi talking about their training was drowned out by yelling children.

In addition to the demo, there were crafts for kids to create masks, Yoda ears, and practice their Jedi skills on a balancing course. Of course, there were cardboard cutouts that my husband and I used to take a pretty sweet picture. It was recommended we use this for our Christmas picture this year but we usually have our pet turtles in the picture and I’m not sure how we’d PhotoShop them in this time.

Part of it being Star Wars Reads Day is that the library was giving away free Star Wars novels. As the library receives donations, any Star Wars books are sorted out and set aside for this day each year. My husband grabbed one to add to his classroom.

I wanted to talk about this and highlight some of the amazing events libraries are putting on. Friends funding helped build this event into something many patrons look forward to each year.  I’m so proud to be on the Friends Board of Directors and I love my library! If you haven’t gone to check out the programs at your library or explore what is offered besides material lending, I urge you to do so.

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!

Sick Day, Back Monday!

5 Oct

I’m taking today off. I was sick over the weekend and have been running behind ever since. I promise to be back Monday with content! I’m close to finishing two books and with any luck, I’ll be reviewing them next week! There’s something to get excited about.

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!

Bookish News: Bad Fanfiction

19 Sep

I went searching for some bookish news to share with you all and I didn’t expect Harry Potter FanFiction to show up in the headlines! It seems the author of the HP fic My Immortal finally came forward and revealed her identity [Guardian article]. It seems the story follows an American female with awesome clothes who comes to Hogwarts and dates Draco Malfoy. So, pretty much, my childhood dream.

The issues people have with the story are the lack of plot, bad internet spelling, and Mary Sue character. When author Rose Christo revealed that she was the writer behind the story, reactions were mixed. It seems Christo has several well-received series though I’ve never read any of her work. For me, and I imagine many other FanFiction writers, fic was a way to try writing. You didn’t have to develop characters or setting, just start with something you already knew and work on the plot. Some did develop new characters or change settings, but it gave you a place to start from. The article mentions that Christo would have been around 16 when the story was written. I know I have some stories from a younger age than that on my FFN account that I’m not proud of. Writing something bad is part of the path to writing something good.

I say kudos to Christo for coming out and admitting she was the writer. I think it’s a testament to how far she’s come as a writer and shows how much her writing has developed and, I hope, how much writing My Immortal helped her on her way to becoming a good writer.

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 4th Birthday to Taking on a World of Words!

11 Sep

You guys, it’s been four years! Yes, it really has. I’m surprised, too! I wonder how long I’ll keep this up. Thank you for caring what I have to say four years later (even if you haven’t been reading this for that long). You all make blogging fun and that’s why I’m still doing this.

One of my rituals on my blogoversary is to think what my blog would be able to do if it were a child. Blogs are much cheaper and less time consuming, I know, but it’s still fun to think about.

 

  • Learn that behaviors have consequences
  • Make attempts to read and write
  • Learn to write its name
  • Sit through dinner at a restaurant
  • Get dressed with minimal supervision
  • Pump its legs on a swing

One more year until Kindergarten! Maybe I’ll put it in preschool to get a little me-time for a while.

Yet again, here are some numbers to show my blog’s growth over the past year. Numbers are taken from 10-Sep, so five days after my blogoversary. It came on so fast I didn’t have time to celebrate right away.

Wow, you guys! This is a lot of change, more than I expected to see. It’s obvious reviewing a classic like The Tempest brought in a lot of people looking for help with school assignments, haha. It’s also clear that visual media like the Thirteen Reasons Why and Handmaid’s Tale TV shows made a lot of people interested in the books and reviews of them. I’m looking forward to some more releases in the next year that will bring similar readers to my blog. Welcome to those who came through these posts!

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!

Labor Day Holiday

4 Sep

Here in the States, it’s Labor Day! In reality, this holiday marks a return to school and an end of summer. So despite it celebrating the laborer and our right to work, it’s kind of a downer holiday. I’m going to celebrate by NOT working on a post. Ha! So happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans and I’ll be back tomorrow.

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum (3/5)

21 Aug

I heard a lot about this book when it was first released but hadn’t been too tempted. But, when you see a book for $1 on the library sale shelf after it was withdrawn from circulation, you buy it. And when it’s been far too long that it’s. Even on your shelf and you need a new audiobook, you download it and listen to it while you run, craft, and cook.

Cover Image via Goodreads

I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum

Summary from Goodreads:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette meets Beautiful Ruins in this reverse love story set in Paris and London about a failed monogamist’s attempts to answer the question: Is it really possible to fall back in love?

Despite the success of his first solo show in Paris and the support of his brilliant French wife and young daughter, thirty-four-year-old British artist Richard Haddon is too busy mourning the loss of his American mistress to a famous cutlery designer to appreciate his fortune.

But after Richard discovers that a painting he originally made for his wife, Anne -when they were first married and deeply in love-has sold, it shocks him back to reality and he resolves to reinvest wholeheartedly in his family life . . . just in time for his wife to learn the extent of his affair. Rudderless and remorseful, Richard embarks on a series of misguided attempts to win Anne back while focusing his creative energy on a provocative art piece to prove that he’s still the man she once loved.

I thought this book would be more upbeat than it was, to be honest. The title made me think someone would be having fun, though I don’t know who I thought it would be. This is another case of me not reading the back of a book and being blown away by the plot. I wanted to hate Richard, but it was hard to. Yes, he was a cheater, but he tried to reform and had a hard time doing so because of other circumstances. I wanted to like Anne, but she was very cold and removed. It was hard to feel for anyone except Cam.

I’m fortunate to say I’ve never been in a relationship where there was cheating. For that reason, it’s hard for me to say if I would have acted like Richard or Anne. I can’t say if I would have wanted to separate or wanted to get back together or ever forgiven my partner. I’ve heard of relationships going any number of ways after such a tragedy so the way Anne and Richard handled their troubles seems plausible.

I did grow to like Richard despite my initial dislike for him as a cheater. He admitted to his mistake, did what he wife wanted and needed, even when it wasn’t what he wanted, and tried to keep his daughter’s well-being the focus of the decisions he made. He’s just lucky Anne did the same things. I wanted Anne to take him back the whole time. The ups and downs were hard to bear.

I related most to Richard’s parents in a way. My own parents are stupidly over-the-moon in love after 30+ years of marriage. I can’t say I related to Richard as a whole, but when it came to seeing his parent’s routines, small foibles, and love for each other, I related to that. It’s so great to see times when a marriage works. I can’t imagine how heartbreaking to see it when one is in the process of coming apart.

I could relate to the comfort Richard found at home. I had a time in my life when I was at a bad job and spending the night at my parents’ house made everything better. I was able to put things in perspective and easily slip into a routine I had abandoned when I moved out. It was comforting and, I believe a song says, you can always go home (or something like that).

Courtney Maum
Image via Twitter

I liked reading about Richard’s art. That was a unique part of the book and it was fun to read about something so different. His installment and the ways the art world worked were new to me and I learned a lot about them. I didn’t think an installment like Richard’s is something that would sell, I thought it was a performance piece and nothing more could be done once performed.

I disliked hearing about the affair and how it started. It wasn’t the focus of the book and Richard’s detail about starting up with Lisa is part of what made me dislike him when I was trying so hard to like him. I wish it had been left out or at least less detailed.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Sam Deveraux. Since the author has a female name, I made the (wrong) assumption that the narrator would be female so I was initially put off by the male voice. I quickly adjusted and ended up having no problem at all. Deveraux did a good job and I’m glad they picked a reader with a British accent who could speak French, much like Richard. It gave a strong sense of Richard reading the book. His French accent for French characters was really fun, too.

Every marriage is different and I think that point was well displayed in this book. Richard and Anne received a lot of advice about how to overcome their problems and everyone had a different story and a different way of dealing with it. None of it worked for them and they had to find their own way. I liked that they didn’t try to be another couple, they did what would work for them.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m glad Maum wrote from a male point of view. It’s not very common to write from another gender’s point of view. I always notice when I find a book that fits this bill. I wrote a short story from a male point of view and it threw my mom for a loop! I only wish I could weigh in on if Maum did this well. Are there any men out there who have read this one who can weigh in? I thought it was good, but I don’t know what it feels like to be a man.

I enjoyed this book though the dark subject wasn’t what I really wanted while on vacation! Three out of Five Stars.

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!

Related Posts:
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You | Feminist Texican Reads
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum (5 out of 5) | generationgbooks
Book Review: Courtney Maum’s I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You | The Military Spouse Book Review
Author Courtney Maum’s Road to Publication | The Writers’ Loop

On Vacation Again!

17 Aug

I’m happy to say I’m on vacation again! I’ll be back next week but I left Tuesday night so I’m skipping today’s post. I’ll be exploring the streets of New Orleans!

If you’re from New Orleans, let me know some local places to hit up. I’ll be at a conference for most of this trip but I’ll try to sneak away. I plan to hit up at least one bookstore, too. Look forward to that.

Hello from the Big Easy and I’ll see you all next week.

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 Gem in Portland, OR for the Traveling Bookworm

14 Aug

I can’t even pretend I stumbled across this one. I practically planned my vacation around this. Guys, I WENT TO POWELL’S!

If you’re not familiar with Powell’s, it’s the largest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block in downtown Portland and has three floors of books. It sells new and used books and I can’t tell you how close to crying I was when I finally walked in.

I wanted to see EVERYTHING and I think I was pretty darn close! We started in the lobby which featured a ton of well-curated tables and best-seller walls. There was a bunch of souvenirs as well and I picked up a postcard to add to my collection. From there, we hit the fiction shelves. Eek! I’m a total sucker for staff recommendations so while I looked through many of the books there, I knew I’d end up getting a staff recommendation and I did. I picked up Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. It sounds like a cross between Station Eleven and The Martian and honestly, that sounds too amazing for words. It might be a while before I get to this on my TBR, but it will be a good time when I do.

Because I’m an Instagram nerd, I knew Powell’s had an autograph pillar and we found it! I saw Neil Gaiman’s autograph and got really excited. A lot of the names I didn’t recognize but this one sure stood out!

We spent some time in SciFi looking at the games collection but my husband wouldn’t bite and buy one. We kind of skipped through a lot of non-fiction and children’s, too. I know myself and I know I’m going to buy fiction, but it was still fun to explore.

I did stop myself in the language section. One advantage of a lot of floor space is having a great collection of foreign language books! I know I’m running low on books in Spanish and my husband recommended picking another one up here. I still have the 7th Harry Potter book to read next year, but nothing after that. Powell’s to the rescue! I picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. YA is a good reading level for my Spanish skills and I’m super excited knowing that I’ll get to this one in 2019.

An awesome addition to this store is the Espresso Book Machine. I’ve read about these machines before but this was the first time I saw one. These machines can print books, either hard-to-find books or copies for aspiring writers. Powell’s sells a few by local authors in the store. We wandered around for a while, hoping they would print one while we were there. Luckily, I found the world’s best Nalgene while we waited. This is my new favorite thing in the world. And we did wander around long enough! It was great to see the machine in action, printing a local author’s book (I believe it was on bike routes but I was too focused on watching the process). It printed, bound, and trimmed the book before it slid out the slot on the bottom center you can see in the picture. I thought this would be great for anyone printing out a proof copy for Beta readers. I wonder if there’s one near me…

The last stop was something we were told not to miss, the Rare Book Room! There were some signed first-editions, most notably the A Song of Ice and Fire series (aka Game of Thrones) and some Dan Browns. There were also some old books from the settlement of the US and some presidential books, too. My favorite was a few large illustrated editions of classics. I was allowed to touch them which made me really excited to look through the pages.

Me in the Rare Book Room with my Rare Book Room pass.

My husband talked me into leaving due to hunger. He did agree to let me come back for a while later that day and I found a book for him! It’s called DC Trip by Sara Benincasa and is about a teacher chaperoning the annual Washington DC trip at her school. My husband has done this two years in a row now for the middle school where he teaches so it seemed too perfect. I hope he laughs when he reads it.

So that was my trip to the amazing Powell’s. I’ll leave you with a picture of the pillar out front. There are four sides that have the Latin phrases “buy the book, read the book, enjoy the book, sell the book.” I didn’t plan it, but this is the “read the book” side.

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!