WWW Wednesday, 18-July-2018

18 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. 


Currently reading: I didn’t make much progress on The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’m determined to finish it over the next few weeks while I’m on vacation, though! I think this will be a great read for the flights when I’m trying to keep my excitement at bay.
I made decent progress with Dreams of Joy by Lisa See, but nothing noteworthy. I’ll be taking this one to Europe, too.
I don’t know what to say anymore. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is taking me forever and I can’t wait to be done with it! It’s staying behind unless I can finish it before we leave in which case it’s going back to the library.
I didn’t finish The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. I’ll have to pick back up with it when I return. I’m checking on keeping it in my car while I’m gone versus returning it and checking it out again when I get home.

Recently finished: Nothing new! It’s these back-and-forth waves that are getting to me more than anything!

Reading Next: I’ve got another book on my phone if needed though I’m hoping I don’t have too much reading time while I’m gone. The one I’m most excited about is Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ve heard such wonderful things about this one and it seemed like a good airplane read.


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!

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Non Fiction Books: When Do They End?

17 Jul

I’m sure you’ve all looked at a non-fiction read before and thought, “Wow, that’s a long book!” just to discover the last 50-100 pages are notes and afterwards and epilogues and misplaced introductions. I know I have multiple times and it makes the books seem much more manageable. But I’m starting to question how much I ‘need’ to read this.

This is stemming from my current read of The Feminine Mystique. I’ve come to the ‘end’ of the book or something like an end. I still have 100 pages of ‘other’ stuff. Some of it I want to read, some of it I don’t. But it got me thinking about how much of these ‘after’ things people read. Eiplogues I almost always read. But the acknowledgements? The afterward? The introduction to the reprinted edition? The notes? I think there’s somewhere to draw a line.

Reader, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How much of the print after a book ends do you read? Do you consider a book ‘read’ without going through all of these? Most importantly, can I finally leave The Feminine Mystique behind?

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 Much Do You Read on Vacation?

15 Jul

Readers, I need advice!

I’m leaving Wednesday for a two-week vacation. My husband and I are doing it all carry-on only! So, that, unfortunately, means no books! I can hear you all gasp in horror. I’ll clarify. That means no print books. If you know me, you know I’m a dedicated print reader so I’m going out of my comfort zone and doing ebooks on my phone for this trip. I have one I’m in the middle of and one more downloaded and, well, that’s it!

I’m nervous I don’t have enough. I’m 90% sure I can download more while I’m abroad but I know there are weird phone rules with some services and I’d prefer to have books on my phone before we head out. I think I might have enough? Maybe? I don’t know!

We have several flights on this trip so there will be a good amount of time spent waiting in airports. I think that will be the majority of my reading time. I’ve packed the rest of our days pretty full.

How much do you all read on vacation? Would two books be enough for anyone out there? I feel like I’m really skimping but I’m also being a bit logical about my time. Would you suggest another book? …or two?

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!

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!

WWW Wednesday, 11-July-2018

11 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. 


Currently reading: I’m still slowly making my way through The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I have a feeling it’s about to take a dark twist so I’m excited and finding more and more time to devote to reading it. I’ll for sure finish it in Europe if not before!
I started up with Dreams of Joy by Lisa See again. Thankfully I haven’t forgotten anything and I’ve been able to dive back in with no problem. I have the audiobook for another two weeks so I hope I can finish it in time!
It’s embarrassing but I’m still reading The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan. It’s hard to read a lot of a non-fiction book like this in one go. I’m doing pretty good, though, and making steady progress. I can’t wait to be done with it.
I’ve just started The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. It’s not as long as I thought it would be but I’ll still be a couple weeks working on this one. I’m just excited to be onto another audiobook, I felt like the Meltzer one went on for too long at the end.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer on Sunday morning. It’s the second in a series of three but I’m not sure if I’m going to continue with the series. If I do, I’ll be in no rush to get to it. I’m not even sure what the last book is called if I’m being honest. My review went up yesterday and I gave it Three out of Five Stars.
I also finished Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt over the weekend. It was a good weekend of finishing books and hurriedly writing reviews of them. This one was just what I was expecting and I enjoyed Goldratt’s method of teaching business lessons through a novel. I gave this one Three out of Five Stars as well.

Reading Next: I’ll start Brainiac by Ken Jennings as soon as I can but I’m nervous about finishing it before I leave for Europe! I’ll have to return it to the library before I go. I’m hoping I can fly through it, even though it’s another non-fiction. I’m guessing it will be a lighter topic.


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!

Book Review: The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer (3/5)

10 Jul

I throw a thriller into the mix every once in a while, just to keep things fresh. Meltzer has been a go-to author for a while since I picked up a few autographed versions of his books at an author event a few years back. I’ve turned to audiobooks for a few of them just to save myself some reading time. They also make for good distractions while driving.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Fifth Assassin (Culper Ring #2) by Brad Meltzer

Other books by Meltzer reviewed on this blog:

The Book of Fate
The Book of Lies 
The Inner Circle (Culper Ring #1) and Book Club Reflection
Meeting Author Brad Meltzer

Summary from Goodreads:

From John Wilkes Booth to Lee Harvey Oswald, there have been more than two dozen assassination attempts on the President of the United States.

Four have been successful.

But now, Beecher White discovers a killer in Washington, D.C. who’s meticulously re-creating the crimes of these four men. Historians have branded them as four lone wolves. But what if they are wrong?

Beecher is about to discover the truth: that during the course of a hundred years, all four assassins were secretly working together. What was their purpose? For whom do they really work? And why are they planning to kill the current President?

Beecher’s about to find out. And most terrifyingly, he’s about to come face-to-face with the fifth assassin.

It’s been a few years since I read the first book in this series but I was able to pick up on things pretty quickly as I went along. I’ve read a few Meltzer books now and it always catches me off guard when people show up in more than one of his books. It makes them all run together a bit more than I’d like, but it’s also a nice touch to those who have read a lot of his books. My frustration with this one was that it felt too much like all of his book. Presidential thrillers don’t allow for too much variety because they’re going to involve a lot of politics and Secret Service and likely a good amount of presidential history. There’s not much more to it than that. These books can get a bit repetitive if you read too many in a row so I’ll probably take a break for a while.

Credibility isn’t something I look for in characters in this kind of book. The fact that the characters are unbelievable is part of their appeal. Nico isn’t a normal religious fanatic or assassin. Beecher is much more than an archivist. Something’s fishy about the small time Beecher, Marshall, and Clementine come from and none of it is believable. If it were, it wouldn’t be fun.

I didn’t really have a favorite character in this book. None of them were very likable to me. In the end, I think Marshall was my favorite, but I still didn’t care for him much. His motivation ended up being great and, without spoiling anything, he was very different from what everyone thought and ended up being a great, deep new character for this series. If I read more, it will only be to answer questions I have about Marshall and his background.

These characters were hard to relate to but I didn’t expect that out of this genre. I’ve never suspected my father’s death was faked or that there was government interference in my run-ins with old friends. Beecher’s life is a bit too fantastical to be relatable to a 20-something in the Midwest working in Automotive.

Brad Meltzer and me

I thought the trip to Camp David was pretty cool. It seemed well researched for a place no media has seen. I wonder how much of it was made it. I bought the whole thing. I’ve never thought too much about the Camp and how remote it is before. That’s really great that the President has somewhere like that to retreat to.

I’m not sure how much this book advanced the plot of the trilogy. It was good as a stand-alone but Clementine, Nico, Wallace, and Beecher didn’t change much as a result of this book. If Meltzer wanted Nico free and Marshall introduced, I think that could have been done much simpler at the beginning of a book that was going to advance the plot more. Maybe I’d have to read the third book to understand the significance of what’s happened in this one but now, I’m shrugging my shoulders a bit.

The audiobook was narrated by Scott Brick. He did a good job building tension through eventful scenes. He didn’t differentiate his voice much for characters and it threw me off a few times but over twelve disks, that was almost negligible. I don’t have too much very positive or very negative to say on this narration. It was good but not stand-out.

This genre doesn’t lend itself well to themes and morals. I guess not trusting your government could be part of it but you could just as easily derive the history of playing cards being critical to major assassinations. It seems silly to try too hard to gather a moral message from this one.

Writer’s Takeaway: Meltzer had me guessing until the end who the Knight would be and what role Marshall would play in the book. Sometimes these things can seem overly obvious in thrillers but it was disguised well here. I think this is a good trick for any writer to master because it helps build tension in a story and can make for a very exciting conclusion.

This was a good book for its genre but I wasn’t in the right mood for it. 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!

Related Posts:
Book Review – The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer | Tim Busbey
Book Review: The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer | Just Rochelle

 

Book Review: Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt (3/5)

9 Jul

Y’all, I finished a book! I know, I’m shocked, too. I may have cooked some chicken a few minutes longer than needed to finish it up, but we don’t need to talk about that. I’m so glad to have something finished to share here and be able to move on to some other books.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt

Summary from Goodreads:

“Critical Chain,” a gripping fast-paced business novel, does for Project Management what Eli Goldratt’s other novels have done for Production and Marketing. Dr. Goldratt’s books have transformed the thinking and actions of management throughout the world.

If you’re unfamiliar with Goldratt, you probably didn’t study business in higher education. His book, The Goal, is considered a must-read for anyone studying production or supply chain. I read it in my undergraduate and enjoyed it, despite it being for an operations course. I liked how Goldratt combined characters and a plot to tell his theory rather than writing a paper or textbook. I was glad to read another of his books, this time about project management.

Given that Goldratt’s characters are created to tell you about business theory, they’re fairly well developed. Rick Silver and his wife have a very believable marriage and the three employees at Genemodem each have their own personalities and strengths. I honestly didn’t expect much from the character development but was happily surprised.

Rick was a very likable character. I felt bad for him when it came to his relationship with his wife and I admired him for his teaching styles and abilities. I would have loved to take a class with him. I appreciated how he developed his theories and the work he put into his research. It was believable that he had to struggle to create the program he did. I liked that things weren’t just handed to him or easy for him.

I related to the three Genemodem characters. They saw a problem developing at work and they had no idea how to solve it. I think most employees feel that way pretty often! They were lucky enough to be given all the resources they needed and the means to solve their problem. No, it wasn’t easy, but they were able to do it. It helped that people were receptive to what they were saying because, you know, it’s a book about business.

Eliyahu Goldratt
Image via Historia y biografia

I liked the end when Rick was able to show his theories worked in practice and implemented them. I enjoy the way Goldratt introduced the theory and then had to fight through all the times that there are ‘exceptions’ and show how they’re not really exceptions at all. The one with the contracts was my favorite because there was no way being late could be a good thing for this theory. I thought the way it was explained was good.

There wasn’t a part of this book I particularly disliked. The pacing was good and I knew I was getting a lesson in project management and the theory of constraints even though it read like a novel. It was what I expected out of it and nothing more or less.

The audiobook was narrated by Alexander Cendese. I got some of the students mixed up from time to time because his voices for them were very similar but I think there were one too many students anyway. I also didn’t like his voice for the women, it seemed condescending which I was OK with for Janice but it bothered me for Ruth. Ruth was a smart and able woman and her voice made her seem like an oblivious airhead.

I think Goldratt got his theory across well. It would be good to have a more concise summary of the theory if one was trying to implement it so that you weren’t searching through this whole book for what to do when a shared resource is a bottleneck. The idea of the critical chain came up very late in the book. For it being the title, I was expecting it to be prevalent much earlier. It’s a really great idea and I hope it’s widely used now.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m far from an academic but I can see how this is an odd format for someone writing about a theory they have. I think Goldratt has been so successful because it’s much more engaging. Jesus told stories in parables and Goldratt spews business theory hidden in novels. People learn and remember better when something is relatable and they can see the application. I think he’s onto something good with this style.

I enjoyed this book and learned a lot but I miss fiction a bit so my rating has been lowered. 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!

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!

WWW Wednesday, 4-July-2018

4 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. 


Currently reading: I’m a quarter of the way through The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’m enjoying it still, just a matter of having lunchtimes to read it. Maybe I’ll try leaving the office for lunch a bit more this week since it’s a slow one.
I’ve got Dreams of Joy by Lisa See back but I’m hoping to finish Critical Chain first. I just want to finish a darn book! We’ll see how it times up.
I’m still working on The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan which I’m embarrassed to admit. I’m trying to make more time to devote to reading it but the subject is so dense that it’s hard to read a lot at once.
I am really close to finishing The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer which is encouraging. I was hoping to have this one finished this week, but it looks like I’m waiting one more week. Sigh.
I’m getting close to finishing Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt as well. I think this one will be finished off within the week, hopefully, sooner so I can get back to my other audiobooks.

Recently finished: No comment.

Reading Next: I’ve been so tempted to start Brainiac by Ken Jennings every time I read four pages of Friedan and put it back down. I want a book to binge and enjoy and I’m hoping this can be it!
The audiobook is all set and ready for The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. Just got to finish Meltzer and I’ll start it immediately.


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!

‘Murder on the Orient Express’ (2017) Movie Review

3 Jul

Movie Poster via Wikipedia

I won’t lie, I watched this movie because I didn’t have time to finish a book and write a review here for you all. I’ve been wanting to see this one for a while so it was a good kick in the pants to finally rent it and watch. I figured that anything with Johnny Depp and Kenneth Branagh would be worth seeing.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

All of the characters. I remember getting many of them confused while listening to the audiobook. Being able to see a face to go with the name was beyond helpful and made the movie much more enjoyable.

The train. It was so beautiful! I’m contemplating a train trip in the next few years and I’ll be sadly disappointed if the train doesn’t look like that. My husband says I’m going to be sadly disappointed by Amtrak.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Dr. Constantine. I honestly forgot about him until reviewing the original book. His absence was very minor and not a bit loss for the film. I thought it was good to reduce the number of characters, even just a little.

Dr. Arbuthnot. Here’s how they got away with it so well. By making Arbuthnot a doctor, they were able to use his skills in that field and fill in anything missed. Sly. It was also interesting that they decided to add some racial diversity with the casting. I thought it was great to address racial tensions at the time of the story with him.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

I honestly can’t think of anything that was left out. It seems more was added to round out the run time of this movie. Granted, it’s been a while since I read it so I may have forgotten.

Things That Changed Too Much

Too much action. Chasing McQueen on the bridge and Mrs. Hubbard being stabbed were just a bit too much for me! The murder was gruesome enough for me and I didn’t need the added suspense. Maybe someone who didn’t know how it ended would feel differently, but I wasn’t a fan.

The ending. Spoilers in this one! But seriously, Poirot telling them to kill him so he won’t reveal his secret? Really, that was too much. As was Hubbard/Arden sacrificing her life. It was too dramatic for me. The book had a degree of calm to it despite the tragic situation that the movie seems to have tried to avoid at all costs.

Interestingly, I can also compare this movie to the BBC Poirot episode on the same book. I honestly liked the BBC version better. It was true to the book and didn’t deal with over-dramatics. I also liked the portrayal of Poirot better. Branagh’s version was a bit too comical and not a world-renown detective for me.

I’m buckling down with my reading with the sincere hopes of getting you a book review next week! I don’t want to be watching movies over and over to have something to talk about. Though, it is very relaxing. Reader, have you seen the 2017 Murder on the Orient Express movie? What did you think?

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!