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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!

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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!

Impact

23 Aug

I had a really cool moment over the weekend that I felt needed to be shared with my readers.

Many times, I feel like I’m writing into a void. Some of my posts get a lot of traction and generate conversations but there are some (fewer than there were) where I get no reaction and no response. It can be a struggle sometimes to keep writing and think that there is a reason I’m doing this, a reason I sit at my computer every weekend and plan out the week.

This weekend I went to a family birthday party. Due to late-in-life births and large differences in age, my dad’s cousin’s husband (my cousin-once-removed-in-law) turned 90 and we celebrated by gathering at a local restaurant. My husband and I arrived late due to another commitment but excited to see the birthday boy, who we haven’t seen in almost five years.

I know that’s how long it’s been because the last time I visited Tom I wrote about it. Tom published his memoir a number of years ago and is working on a second one. He is Armenian and repatriated to Armenia to help with nation building only to be trapped behind the Iron Curtain. I wrote a post about visiting him at his home in Northern Michigan and talking with him about his career. Again, it felt like writing into a void, even more so then than now with my blog has gained some traction.

At the party, Tom took me aside. He said that he’d been contacted by someone who read my blog post. This woman was Turkish and wanted to apologize to him, an Armenian, for what her countrymen had done to the Armenians as part of the Armenian Genocide. Tom was very moved and reassured this woman that she did not owe him an apology for something her grandparents’ generation had done. He wanted to let me know that my post had given this woman a way of contacting him and expressing such profound sorrow.

I’ve been reflecting on this interaction for a few days now. I feel so touched that someone was able to find Tom through my blog. It’s good to know that what I do on this site can impact people and can have a meaning in the physical world. Even if it feels like I’m writing into a void, it’s one that can mean something as profound as an apology.

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!

How Does Your Writers Group Work?

7 Aug

Right before I left for vacation, my writers’ group met. To get my mind off how stressed I was about the trip, my husband insisted that I go. Normally, a member of the group volunteers to run the session and talk about an aspect of writing that they know about or have researched. This time, no one had volunteered.

This group used to have a library staff member assigned to it who would think of the topic. Since she left the library, we’ve taken turns running it. It’s become a bit tiresome with only a few members coming frequently and talking about topics they feel knowledgeable about. We’ve had to repeat topics and many people have dropped off because of the repetition.

This meeting, we talked more openly about how we come up with ideas for writing and how we structure our writing. It was a good discussion, but a lot more free-form than we’re used to. We tried to decide if we thought this was a good thing or not and decided that different isn’t bad and that we would try a different format for our next meeting.

Next month, every person is supposed to come with 5-10 minutes of material to talk about. It can be something you know or something you’ve just looked up but this should take pressure off of the people who are always presenting and get more people invested in running the group. We’ll see how it goes. I’m not sure how I feel about it yet, but it will be a nice change.

Does anyone else belong to a writers’ group that’s not a critique group? This is the first group I’ve been a part of that didn’t focus on what was already written. We’ve done some short critiques in the past but it’s never been a focus. I’m curious if there are any other groups who work like us.

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!

WWW Wednesday, 25-July-2018

25 Jul

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


I’m on vacation! I’ll be back in two weeks with updates on what I’ve been reading while waiting in airports. Today I’m leaving Belfast and am on my way to Barcelona! Hola, sol y mar.

I’ll be checking the blog and reading comments as time allows. If I don’t get a chance to say it later, happy reading!


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

My 5 Least Appropriate Summer Reads

12 Jul

Summe reading gives off the idea of sitting on a beach with a nice, light book in your hands that you’ll read a few pages of between sunbathing and splashing about in the water. These books are usually fun thrillers or heartfelt dramas. Many bookstores put them on an endcap so you can find them.

Well, I’m terrible at seasonal reading. I never read ‘Christmas’ books in the winter and my summer reading books are whatever’s next on my TBR. I went through my Goodreads history and pulled the five least summer-y reads I’ve read during the summer months. Here’s a countdown.

5. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
There’s nothing overly un-summery about this book, to be fair. However, I’d challenge you to find a lot of other people who want to listen to satirical plays while they’re doing outdoor summer runs. I bet I’m in the minority of this one. It does hit the mark for being short and ‘light’ in topic, but I think I’m a bit non-traditional in this pick.

4. The Bohemians by Ben Tarnoff
I can blame this one on the book club. This was a pick for a summer month but the topic was far too dense and a bit dry. It didn’t keep me reading long at the poolside before I fell asleep so I’d say this one puts you at risk of a sunburn. Best to avoid it while working on a base tan.

3. Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt
My most recent fumble. There’s no time to read a business book than during the two months you get between semesters from business school. Interesting, yes, to be sure. What I wanted to spend my time off reading, not so much. I’m the only one to blame here. But like I said, it was next on my list so I read it. I have no method to this madness.

2. A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
Before I get murdered for having this on my list, please read on. The topic of these books is great for summer reading. It’s engaging and gives you great things to talk about with your friends who also like dead characters and dragons. However, holding one of these bad boys up on the beach is a wrist workout and a half. It’s hard to keep one of these babies supported with a pillow, let alone your poor hands. These are better suited for winter reading when props to keep the weight up are abundant on the couch and snuggled in bed.

1. The River of Doubt by Candice Millard
This will forever go down as the least summer-y book I’ve read in the summer. It’s a great account of Teddy Roosevelt traveling down a river in Brazil and the scientific mapping of a tributary of the Amazon river. The issue is that I had this book due to my book club and was so dedicated to finishing it before the meeting that I took it with me on my honeymoon to Mexico. So I’m sitting around a pool with all-you-can-drink service trying to concentrate on the timeline of the history and slogging through details so much that I forgot to look up and enjoy the ocean. My mom teased me. All the people in my book club teased me. And, of course, my new husband teased me (and likely reflected on a life-long promise he’d recently made). I don’t think I’ll ever live it down.

Are any of you as bad at this as me? What’s the least summer-y book you’ve read so far this summer? Let me know in the comments.

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 Independence Day!

5 Jul

I violated my ‘no work, no post’ rule yesterday to continue with WWW Wednesday. I’m taking today off to celebrate the 4th of July. I’ll be hanging with my tri club for a workout and likely seeing my nieces and nephew. It should be a nice and relaxing time.

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!