Book Review: The Hangman’s Replacement by Taona D. Chivenko (1/5)

30 Aug

I was hesitant to read this one. I got it as part of a giveaway, but the reviews on it were really hit or miss and I know I tend to be critical. I put it off for years but finally gave in. Right when your child is born is probably the wrong time to be reading a slow book.

HangmanThe Hangman’s Replacement by Taona D. Chivenko

Summary from Goodreads:

Zimbabwe’s last hangman retired in 2004. As the nation drifted towards abolition, no determined effort was launched to find a replacement. However, the discovery of carnivorous flame lilies at the Great Zimbabwe monument triggered a spirited search for a new executioner. Those who know why this discovery energized the recruitment effort refused to talk.

The frantic attempts to find a new hangman were impeded by the lack of suitable candidates. Well-placed sources confirmed that the fear of ‘ngozi’ was a deterrent. According to this traditional belief, the spirit of a murdered person torments the killer and his family for generations. However, this is only half the story. Several promising applicants did come forward. None met the minimum requirements for the job. The selection criteria were designed to exclude the mentally ill, the vindictive, and the sadistic. However, they did not rule out the desperate.

This book did not work for me. It had a strong sense of magical realism, which I greatly dislike, so it really didn’t stand a chance. There were also a few stretches of characters talking that felt unrealistic which was a struggle to read. There were a set of chapters that took me two weeks to get through because it was such a struggle for me to read. And the info dumps! There were so many. This book was setting up for something, though I can’t imagine what with the intricacies it involved. There was an allergy to air, a carnivorous plant, blackmail, lawyers, assassins, prostitutes, and a British gallows builder. I’m not sure how it will all come together but the volume of it was a bit overwhelming.

None of the characters struck me as credible. There was a man who could have multiple strings of thought at once, a reclusive genius lawyer, many beautiful women, many strong men, and the most believable character fought off a lion with his bare hands. The lack of believable characters was part of what repelled me in this book. It felt like the author was trying to trick me into believing these people could really exist in a spiteful way.

I didn’t particularly like any of the characters but Able was the most sympathetic. I liked that he loved his wife and family very much and his motivation seemed more plausible than anyone else in the story. But there were moments that I didn’t like him. He was unfaithful to his wife for an unknown reason and seemingly not under his own control. This confused me. Though it’s strange, I feel my frustration is more with the author than the character. Probably because it seemed to out of character for Able to do this that it felt like a trick by the author.

I couldn’t relate to any of the characters in this story. The women in particular felt really unbelievable to me and it was a big part of my frustration with the story. The conversation between Anala and Vaida was the most cringeworthy part of the book to me. It felt forced and it was a lot of back story. I can’t imagine a conversation between two women going like this.

The first part of the book was the most enjoyable to me as it focused on Able. I was excited for the story and unsure of how it would play out. But all the other characters that were brought in and the other plot lines that were woven into the story took me out of it and made it difficult to enjoy.

There are a lot of dubious motivations in this book. The motivation to breed a carnivorous plant, the motivation to seduce a married man, and the motivation to devote your life to work are just a few. Abel’s motivation, to secure medical insurance for his family, is the only one I really understood. Protecting your family can drive you to do crazy things, even voluntarily become a hangman.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think Chivenko could have dealt with a beta reader or editor. There were few spelling or grammar mistakes in this book, but the plot was confusing and the dialogue needed work. At 466 pages, it was just too long. Sharing your work with someone for criticism can be unnerving or time consuming, but I see how it can be valuable.

Not a book I enjoyed or would recommend. I will not continue with the series. One out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

WWW Wednesday, 25-August-2021

25 Aug

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!

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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.


Kelly

Currently reading: I found out my library is discontinuing one of their eaudio platforms and it’s the one I’m using to listen to The King of Crows (Diviners #4) by Libba Bray. Needless to say, I’m pushing had to finish this one! I have about eleven hours left so it will be a small challenge, but I need a reading challenge these days and I’m ready for it!
I’m still grabbing small moments to read The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson. I feel like it’s moving pretty quickly so I think I’ll finish it up in better time than some of my past ebooks.
I’ve only just started True History of The Kelly Gang by Peter Carey so I can’t say much about it yet. I’m excited to have a new physical book, though!

Hangman

Recently finished: I finally finished The Hangman’s Replacement: Sprout of Disruption by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko! This one was a real struggle for me. I liked the beginning of it, but there were scenes that were just so difficult to get through that I’d get stuck for a week or more, reading a page at a time before I grew frustrated and put the book down. It ended with a section like that, which was even more infuriating because I slowed to a crawl. I’ll post a review as soon as I find the time for it but know this got One out of Five Stars from me.

Reading next: No plans just yet. I’ll see how much reading I’m able to do with Baby around. They are sleeping well, but I’m not so a lot of my free time has been dedicated to napping and cleaning the house. I’ve got another month before I go back to work to try and even things out a bit.

Leave a comment with your link and 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 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.

WWW Wednesday, 18-August-2021

18 Aug

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.


Hangman

Currently reading: I’m back, all! Happy to be checking in after a few weeks off. I was a little single-minded with the new baby but we’re starting to develop a routine and get back to a few things. I even managed to read some of The Hangman’s Replacement: Sprout of Disruption by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko and I think this will be the next book I finish. Here’s to hoping!
I’ve found a few minutes from time to time for The King of Crows (Diviners #4) by Libba Bray. It’s mostly while washing bottles and if I do my daily walk without my husband, but it’s something. I’m moving slowly but still really enjoying this one and looking forward to seeing how this series ends.
I find short bursts of time that are good to fill with reading The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson. This book started off a lot differently than I suspected and I’m still interested to see where it goes.

Recently finished: Nothing new here this week and probably not again for a little bit, but I’m fine with the slower pace and expected it.

KellyReading next: I grabbed True History of The Kelly Gang by Peter Carey and even took it to the hospital with me. That was a bit optimistic, in retrospect, but I was basing it on how much sitting around I had at a previous visit. I hope to crack this one open soon!

Leave a comment with your link and 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 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.

WWW Wednesday, 11-Aug-2021

11 Aug

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 taking another week to regroup post-baby. My brain is a bit fried and not much reading has occured. I love popping in to see the progress the rest of you are making so please leave comments with your successes! Thanks for keeping this community alive.

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.

WWW Wednesday, 4-Aug-2021

4 Aug

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.


A bit of a free form this week. If you’re seeing this post, Baby is making their appearance and I’m a bit preoccupied at the moment! Hope you area all having an amazing week and I hope to be back again soon. My apologies for those whose comments are awaiting approval, I’ll get to them when I can think straight again. Thanks for keeping this community alive.

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.

WWW Wednesday, 28-July-2021

28 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.


Ghost

Currently reading: I’m dedicated to finishing The Hangman’s Replacement: Sprout of Disruption by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko now, though it may slow down a bit with Baby coming this weekend! My mom insists nursing is good reading time, but we’ll see where my energy levels are. They might be at more of an audiobook level for a while. Here’s hoping I finish it!
I’m loving The King of Crows (Diviners #4) by Libba Bray and I’m flying through it. It’s been a long time since I read a series so finishing one off has a lot of satisfaction tied to it. It helps that the narration on this is spectacular!
I’ve gotten through a little bit of The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson and I’m getting some serious Ghost Bride vibes. Not sure if that’s good or bad yet. We’ll see how this goes. It did start with quite a bang so I hope the tension stays high!

MoscowRecently finished: Reading Buddy and I met Tuesday for our final discussion of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Finished just in time before Baby! I’m feeling great about this and even managed to post my review on Monday. We both ended up enjoying this one a lot even though my Buddy was a little apprehensive when we started. I gave it Four out of Five Stars. I hope we can start reading together again soon. I told my husband that’s one thing I’d like his support to do as a new parent.

KellyReading next: I’ll likely need a physical book next and I’ll honestly grab the next thing on my shelf because I doubt I have the brain capacity to go to the library or do an Interlibrary Loan any time soon. So next up is likely True History of The Kelly Gang by Peter Carey. I’ve had some good luck with true crime books this year (though this one is fictionalized, it’s still making me think of Say Nothing) and I know a bit about Ned Kelly so I’m excited to get into this and see how it goes.

Leave a comment with your link and 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 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.

Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (4/5)

26 Jul

This book had been on my radar but I wasn’t really seriously considering it. I read Towles first novel and enjoyed it a lot but wasn’t clamoring to read his next release. However, when my reading buddy and I were in the middle of Recursion by Blake Crouch, one of the throwaway characters was named Amor Towles and Crouch acknowledged in his notes that this was in recognition of how much he loved this book, I decided it was time. We grabbed this for our next book and after a bit of a miss-step getting it from my bookstore, we had our copies and dived in. It was easy to divide the book into its five sections and meet to talk after each one.

Moscow

Cover Image via Amazon

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Other books by Towles reviewed on this blog:

Rules of Civility (and Book Club Discussion)

Summary from Amazon:

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him entry into a much larger world of emotional discovery.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a book that takes place almost entirely within a hotel and goes on for over 400 pages. Some books with sweeping settings struggle to fill that many pages. But my doubts were quickly pushed aside as I enjoyed this book more and more. Towles keeps us engaged in Rostov’s world, as simple as it may seem at first. I loved having to pay attention to details that would come back into play later.

Rostov, Nina, Sophia, Anna, and the rest of the characters were beautifully drawn and I loved reading about them. Nina was probably the most dynamic and I adored how she grew up in front of our eyes, always curious and very smart. I wanted a little something more from her character, but I’m still satisfied with what I got. The employees at the hotel were amazing. I can’t imagine working the jobs they did for as long as they did but in a communist society, having a job at a luxury hotel like they did was probably a huge blessing and gave them access to things they otherwise never would have been able to touch.

Rostov himself was my favorite character by far. He was so smart and resourceful. I loved how we learned small things about him as the story went on that made you come to love him in different ways. Learning about his sister, his relationship with Mishka, and his love of Sophia were wonderful. He had moments, like finding out his affair with Anna was public knowledge, where you wanted to laugh at him, but it was hard not to love everything he did. This book would have been frustrating with a less loveable character.

No single character was relatable but I think everyone could sympathize with the staff dealing with their horrible boss in the Bishop. We’ve all had horrible bosses at one time or another and I thought it was funny how much they all came together to out maneuver him as much as possible. Some if it was little things like having a dinner they wanted, some larger things like the loose turkeys. Seeing someone rise while the rest of them stayed where they were must have been frustrating but they all seemed to find a way to band together and support each other as much as they could.

Towles

Amor Towles Image via Goodreads

I enjoyed the later half of the book the most, after Sophia arrived. We see a very different side of The Count once he’s more of a father figure and the steps he goes through to make sure Sophia is well cared for are wonderful. A moment that sticks out is when he threatened the conductor for coming on to Sophia before finding out that he was teaching her. It was such a wonderful fatherly moment and set the tone for how he was with her for the rest of the book.

The book did seem to start a little slow. I understood by the end that it was setting a scene and establishing a lot of people that would come to be important later, but it did seem a bit of a bore to begin with. About half way through Part II and all of Part III had me invested, though.

Our lives might not always be in our hands, but it’s what we do with them that matters. The Count’s life changed as much as one can with the Russian Revolution. It was amazing to me what he faced and how difficult it must have been for him to lose his family and life the way he did. When he’s allowed to live but belittled by being stuck in the hotel, I’m sure it was hard for him to see a reason to move forward and it becomes obvious that this is a struggle for him. Routines come to define us if we can’t find meaning in them. The life he eventually creates and the friends he discovers, are a rich tapestry for his life. He moves beyond being a guest and becomes a part of the hotel in a way only the staff can understand. I thought it was really beautiful how he interacted with the hotel by the end.

Writer’s Takeaway: There’s nothing wrong with a simple story. A man under house arrest in a hotel for decades doesn’t seem like an engaging tale. But with the right supporting characters and a star with something to prove, the story was exquisite. It’s all in the details and Towles did an amazing job with them.

A great read, even if it did start a little slow. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the 1920-1939 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles (a book review) | Arshia
Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles | Celinelingg
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles | Of Books and Reading

WWW Wednesday, 21-July-2021

21 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.


Crows

Currently reading: I keep pushing through with The Hangman’s Replacement: Sprout of Disruption by Taona Dumisani Chiveneko but I have come to a quick stop to try and finish my buddy read before Baby comes. I’ll finish this eventually but I’m in no real hurry.
Reading Buddy and I met on Monday and we’re powering through the final section of A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. We’ll meet early next week to talk about the ending, right before Baby is coming! I’m sure we’ll take a break from this for a month or so but I can’t wait to read with her again, it’s a real joy to make time to talk about books with a good friend.
Some new books! I was so excited to start on The King of Crows (Diviners #4) by Libba Bray. I wanted to listen to this one earlier but my library was having issues with their rental system and I grabbed another book instead. I’m excited to finish this series that I’ve been enjoying a lot for a few years now!
I’m having repeated issues with book availability for my next ebook. I wanted to read Rosen’s Dollface, but it’s no longer available! There’s another title I was looking for that’s not letting me borrow it for whatever reason. So, third string attempt. I started The Girl with Ghost Eyes by M.H. Boroson. This is one my sister in law gave me for Christmas years back and I haven’t picked up yet. I’m excited to see what she’s picked for me.

Lateral

Recently finished: I’m so glad to have finished books! I wrapped up Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono while waiting on a procedure (doctors offices are good for something!). I found it dragged in parts and was fine in others. I gave it Three out of Five Stars overall and posted my review on Monday.
I also finished up New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson on Saturday! I was driving to a workout and it wrapped up as I pulled into the parking lot so you know it was mean to be. This book was a big disappointment for me and unfortunately turned me off to the author in general. I gave it only Two out of Five Stars and posted my review yesterday.
Reading next: I’m just starting so many things that I don’t have any plans at this time. We’ll see what moves fast and where I’ll need another book soon. I’m just so excited to have finished a few things!

Leave a comment with your link and 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 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.

Book Review: New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson (2/5)

20 Jul

Finishing two books in a week is such a novel thing for me, I’m not sure what to do with myself. This one felt like a long time coming just because the audiobook was so long. This is a book I got for free from my library during a summer audiobook giveaway a few years ago. I’ve been holding on to it for when I needed a book and it’s time came up.

2140

Cover image via Amazon

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Summary from Amazon:

As the sea levels rose, every street became a canal. Every skyscraper an island. For the residents of one apartment building in Madison Square, however, New York in the year 2140 is far from a drowned city.

There is the market trader, who finds opportunities where others find trouble. There is the detective, whose work will never disappear — along with the lawyers, of course.

There is the internet star, beloved by millions for her airship adventures, and the building’s manager, quietly respected for his attention to detail. Then there are two boys who don’t live there, but have no other home — and who are more important to its future than anyone might imagine.

Lastly there are the coders, temporary residents on the roof, whose disappearance triggers a sequence of events that threatens the existence of all — and even the long-hidden foundations on which the city rests.

This book frustrated me. I’ve tried to think of a better word for it, but that seems to capture how I feel best. There were way too many characters and they didn’t interact in ways I felt were meaningful and added to the story. I was lost about the main plot of the book the entire time I was reading it and having finished, I’m still not sure I understand. It became clear that the city was the main character, but we spent so much time with the actors that that was murky until I was nearly finished with the book. Despite an easy sell, there was very little warning about climate change outright (besides Amelia). I would have slashed more than half of this book if I was editing it. There’s no reason it was a 22 hour audiobook.

It’s hard to really comment on these characters. They seemed a bit too contrived a lot of the time. Charlotte was too perfect for words and Amelia was purposefully aloof in a way that was annoying. I didn’t like the tone of the ‘narrator’ that appeared from time to time and I found Franklin frustrating. Really, they were pretty realistic, but not likeable.

Vlade might have been my favorite character. He felt like a real person and someone that I could meet today or in 100 years and understand why he did what he did. He had a clear goal of doing his job well and he cared for people more than others seemed to. He was a reliable person and, uniquely, likeable.

None of the characters really drew me in. They were pretty flat characters, not changing much during the course of the book and not showing a lot of depth. Charlotte was probably the most dynamic person but her change was more about coming to terms with doing something she didn’t want to than it was about changing her mindset or actions. The flatness of the characters was a big part of what kept me from engaging with them.

Robinson

Kim Stanley Robinson Image via Wikipedia

There wasn’t a plot point of the story that I enjoyed more than others. The story developed more on an event-by-event basis, with each new crisis engaging the characters in a different way and not connecting well to things that came before. It almost felt like disconnected stories in an episodic fashion, like you might have for a TV series season instead of a book. The style really didn’t work for me.

The first 60% or so of the book was more or less set up for the last 40% and I found it really unsatisfying. The character development didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the later half of the book anyway. It was a lot of explaining how Robinson saw the world changing due to climate change. The characters didn’t add much to the story in my opinion.

The audiobook had a lot of different narrators for the different characters which was fun. The narrators included Suzanne Toren, Robin Miles, Peter Ganim, Jay Snyder, Caitlin Kelly, Michael Crouch, Ryan Vincent Anderson, Christopher Ryan Grant, and Robert Blumenfeld though I have no idea who did which parts. I enjoyed the narration for Amelia most and I have to say I enjoyed the narration for the ‘narrator’ (aka history info dump) the least, though that was due to the writing and not the actor’s portrayal. I didn’t like how we were getting periodic info dumps in a stereotypical New York jargon from someone outside of the story.

There was a strong sense of community amongst the residents that pushed the plot forward. Having a community like that was key for what they were eventually able to accomplish politically. However I feel about the plot of the book, that communal support was really critical and central to the characters and spoke to how we need to band together to accomplish anything. Americans are not the best at doing this so it was great to see it happen in the novel.

Writer’s Takeaway: There were a lot of things I felt were lacking in this novel. The overall plot was a bit confusing and I think it could have benefited from a more defined three-act structure. There were also a lot of characters that could have been cut and combined. I’m not sure what the author was trying to say with this book, but I think it got lost in the future he was creating.

Overall, much longer than it needed to be and murky. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Book Review: Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono (3/5)

19 Jul

OK, I have to start off by saying that I’m so excited to have a book review to write! But I’m so out of habit that I forgot to write it ahead of time like I normally do so I’m squeezing this in the night before. It’s kind of nice to be back. This was a book that came up in another book and made me think, “That sounds like an interesting thing to read.” I knew it would be a while and I knew it would be a slow read and I’m thankful to have finally finished this one.

Lateral

Cover image via Amazon

Lateral Thinking by Edward de Bono

Summary from Amazon:

The first practical explanation of how creativity works, this results-oriented bestseller trains listeners to move beyond a “vertical” mode of thought to tap the potential of lateral thinking.

I found parts of this book to be more useful than others. Some of it is written for teachers, who can teach lateral thinking to their students. That wasn’t as helpful but there were parts for practical application that were still useful. I did feel like the book was stretched a little thin in places. There were some concepts that I didn’t feel merited their own chapter or as long of an explanation as they got. There are useful techniques to the lateral thinking method, but some of them don’t need six examples. I think I could have dealt with ‘Lateral Thinking Light’ and got the same amount of information from it.

De Bono stresses not judging peoples ideas for ‘not working’ before talking about them. You have to trust that there’s a reason the person suggested the idea and while what they suggested might not be workable, the reasoning they have behind it might lead you to a new answer. I like this concept and I think it’s something I can use in work. He also stresses not stopping the search for an answer when something that works comes up; you have to keep digging. His suggestion was setting a number of ideas you’ll come up with before moving to the next phase so that you keep looking beyond the first good idea. I really liked this concept.

The chapter on po was way too long for me and I felt like it could have been cut. Po is a new word de Bono uses to replace ‘no’ but to have a similar impact of saying ‘that probably won’t work but I’ll withhold judgement and we’ll talk about this later.’ I don’t feel a new word was needed for this and I don’t feel it merited the longest chapter in the book and all the examples and slightly different uses it got.

de Bono

Edward de Bono Image via Wikipedia

De Bono believes anyone can be creative and come up with new an innovative ideas. His process is similar to a design thinking approach, looking at the problem and breaking it down into solvable chunks, focusing on what needs to be delivered. I thought this was a useful book for me to read since I was recently hired to a team that’s new and developing a lot of processes. We’re going to have to be creative in how we approach our work and what we do now will need to be re-evaluated again in a year to see if changes are needed.

Writer’s Takeaway: De Bono does well to give concrete examples in a book about creativity. I think that as a teacher, I would have found this book helpful if I wanted to teach students about lateral thinking techniques and how they can be more creative and find new solutions to problems. He has some more dated references that could be updated with technology (there was clearly no internet when de Bono penned this), but the suggestions and techniques are pretty universal. I think this is a text that will stand the test of time.

While I found this useful and helpful, it was still a bit dry and didn’t grab my attention. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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