WWW Wednesday, 15-July-2020

15 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 made a little bit of progress through Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides. I’m trying to be conscious about reading this a bit more. I enjoy it when I remember, but I often forgot to read it when I should.
My reading buddy and I met so I read our third section of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. We had a lot of predictions about what will happen in the back half of the book and I’m starting to see which of our guesses were right and which were a bit off. I’ll be excited to finish it soon!
I’m very early with In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. It feels so good to pull books off my shelf that have been sitting there for so long!
I also started a new audiobook, which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this week but I’m happy I could. I was able to find Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray as an eaudiobook. My library had made it unavailable at one point but it seems it’s there again! I’m glad to be able to read this one and continue on with the series.

Recently finished: I finished up The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson after some long runs and drives. It wasn’t one I really enjoyed, but I didn’t dislike it either. I had some issues with the structure of the book, not the plot or characters. I wrote a review of it yesterday if you want to hear more. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.
I finished off How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland, as I expected. This book was a small let down as well, being more about regional vocabulary and food than it was about pronunciation and accents. Oh well. I still liked it and gave the book Four out of Five Stars. My review went up on Monday.

I posted my review of These Women by Ivy Pochoda on Thursday. Check it out if you want to hear more. This book got Three out of Five Stars from me.

Reading Next: Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think I need to pick out an ebook to read soon. I’m hoping to snag a copy of Dollface by Renee Rosen. I love 1920s flappers so this is right up my ally!


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 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.

Book Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (4/5)

14 Jul

Our book club is still meeting virtually so all of our selections need to be available digitally. This means we’ve completely scrapped the schedule we had planned out in January and we’re going month-to-month as the selection from our digital library changes. This was a last-minute pick but one a few of our readers had heard of and that one was in the middle of. I hadn’t heard anything about it but began it as soon as I could.

Cover image via Amazon

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Summary from Amazon:

The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman’s belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

I have a very mixed reaction to this book. I liked Cussy. I liked Jackson. I liked the characters I was supposed to and disliked the ones I should dislike. I thought everyone’s motivation made sense. I thought the setting was good. However, I struggled with the story. More than half the book seemed directionless to me. Cussy was visiting her patrons and being hunted, unsuccessfully, because of her skin color. Her first marriage ends (this isn’t a spoiler, it’s in the first few chapters). I couldn’t understand if this was a love story, a survival story, or a story about loving your skin no matter what. It felt directionless and I lost interest when I couldn’t find a character goal halfway through. I wanted to like this book more, but I just couldn’t.

I hadn’t read the summary before I read the book, so I was a bit surprised when Cussy was introduced. I’d never heard of the Kentucky Blue People. (It’s a crazy Google search if you have five minutes to spare.) I liked how Queenie and Cussy became partners against racism in their town. Colored meant anyone who wasn’t white so Cussy faced the same discrimination and hatred as her Black coworker. Jackson was a great character, though a bit shallow. I think his time away from Troublesome should have been explored more to understand how he became so open-minded, but he was a very good man.

Harriet was my favorite character. I didn’t like her, but she was my favorite. The petty little things she did to be mean to Cussy made me laugh and I knew that every time she came into the story, there would be a smile on my face. It’s easy to write a character who’s so dislikeable and have them seem comic. Harriet never did. She always felt what she was doing was for the good of her community and that she was following her religious convictions. She didn’t think she was being mean, just fair. Cussy knew how to handle her and never let her mean words bother her which made me happy every time. But I understood how people like Harriet can exist, and how they still exist today and how racism is racism, no matter what race. Harriet highlighted how ugly racism is.

I’ve never experienced racial discrimination the way Cussy did; the closest I can come is sexism. In athletics, I’ve had men underestimate me because I’m a woman and then get mad when I’m faster than them. It’s ugly when it happens and uncomfortable. Cussy had to face that head-on so often. She was very brave.

Kim Michele Richardson Image via Amazon

I can’t think of a part of the book that I really enjoyed. I kept waiting for a plot to emerge and was frustrated when I couldn’t find one for so much of the book. This is part of why I can’t give this book five stars. Nothing really stuck out.

The details about almost all of Cussy’s patrons bored me. I was waiting for all of them to come back into the story in some meaningful way, but only Angeline and Willie did. Everyone else was part of a crowd and was mostly unnecessary to the climax scene where they appeared. Meeting the patrons felt like half the book so this really started to wear on me.

The audiobook was narrated by Katie Schorr and I thought she did an amazing job. I have family from Kentucky and her accent, pronunciations, and inflections were spot on to how my family speaks. Part of this could be how well the author wrote the dialogue and speech, but Schorr did an amazing job bringing it to life.

This book seemed to be more about themes than a plot. The strongest one to me was being comfortable in your own skin. When Cussy fines a ‘cure’ for her skin color, she’s still not accepted. She has to find a way to be comfortable as herself and realize she’s fine just the way she is. She can have everything she wants and needs without changing. Some of it was a little too convenient, but it was still a good message.

Writer’s Takeaway: Plot! I struggled to find a plot in this book. The exposition took half the book, the rising action was confusing because there wasn’t a clear goal or central event. And the climax was a little drawn out and it became a bit muddled which part of it was supposed to wrap up the undefined central conflict. This is something I had to work on a lot with my novel so it frustrated me when it seemed so lost in this book.

Overall enjoyable and entertaining, but it left me feeling a bit jumbled. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1920-1939 time period for 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:
Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson | Hopewell’s Public Library of Life
The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson | Words with Rach
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, Katie Schorr (Narrator) #FFRC2020 | Carla Loves to Read
ARC REVIEW: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek- by Kim Michele Richardson | It’s All About Books

Book Review: How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland (4/5)

13 Jul

One of my undergraduate degrees is in Spanish which involved quite a few classes on linguistics and phonology. And I loved it! I wish it was common to find a job in linguistics but without a PhD, it wasn’t practical. When I saw that my library was hosting Edward McClelland a few years ago, I was excited to hear him talk about accents throughout the Midwest where I’ve lived my entire life. I was curious to know: Do I have an accent? (Spoiler, yes)

Cover image via Amazon

How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland

Summary from Amazon:

Pittsburgh toilet, squeaky cheese, city chicken, shampoo banana, and Chevy in the Hole are all phrases that are familiar to Midwesterners but sound foreign to anyone living outside the region. This book explains not only what Midwesterners say but also how and why they say it and covers such topics as: the causes of the Northern cities vowel shift, why the accents in Fargo miss the nasality that’s a hallmark of Minnesota speech, and why Chicagoans talk more like people from Buffalo than their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin. Readers from the Midwest will have a better understanding of why they talk the way they do, and readers who are not from the Midwest will know exactly what to say the next time someone ends a sentence with “eh?”.

This book wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. I was looking for a bit more when it came to pronunciation, which part of this book offered. The first half of it takes you through the three dialectal regions of the Midwest and talks about how vowel pronunciation shifted through the regions as they were populated by different immigrant groups. It talks about the effects of mass media, migration, and industrialization. However, half the book was a glossary of regional terms heard in different cities, states, and areas, that had nothing to do with pronunciation. A lot of it had to do with local cuisine. Granted, I laughed a lot and found it amusing, but it wasn’t what I was looking for in the book and it left me a little disappointed.

Edward McClelland
Image via Amazon

I was happy to be able to laugh at myself while reading this. I’m a life-long Michigander and reading about McClelland’s Yooper roommate (someone from Michigan’s Upper Penninsula, UP) and how the opposite of ‘Up North’ is ‘Down State’ had me giggling. I laughed even more at the mentions of Cincinnati, where a lot of my family lives. I had my husband realizing that my Grandma’s ‘funny’ habit of saying ‘Please?’ when she didn’t understand someone and wants them to repeat themself is due to the translation of the German word ‘bitte’ used in this context and the area’s heavy German population.

I was much more interested in the vowel shifts and movements of pronunciations around the Midwest than I was in the glossary. I studied regional dialects in Spanish and I was hoping for a bit more of a linguistic evaluation of the speech patterns, but I was still intrigued. It was interesting to hear how roadways and waterways played such a strong role in the development of regional speech

As I’ve said, the glossary was a bit of a disappointment. It was a lot longer than I was anticipating, over half the book. While it was amusing, I haven’t spent a long time in many of the areas covered or speaking with people from them so I didn’t really have an interest in any of the terms being explained to me.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book had a good mix of history, research, and personal stories. I liked when McClelland would introduce sentences he heard from people he met. His Yooper roommate, for example, saying “So, ah, I gotta take a shore and then I’ll be over to your hoase in about an oar, eh.” He recognizes in the Acknowledgements how many people he spoke to from these regions to nail down the glossary and hear examples of the different accents. I thought that was a great touch.

This book was enjoyable if not quite the researched phonetics book I was hoping for. Four 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.

Related Posts

Book Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda (3/5)

9 Jul

This was a bit of a last-minute book club pick. With COVID, we’ve been limited to books that are available on a platform that allows multiple downloads from different users at the same time. A lot of our selections were tossed into the air and this one landed. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t a book I really enjoyed either. I’m happily neutral on this one.

Cover image via Amazon

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Summary from Amazon:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

I liked the storytelling of this novel and the topics it addressed, but it missed with me overall. It’s hard to pinpoint what didn’t jive for me, but it was a bit off. I liked the multiple points of view. I liked the women the book focused on. I liked the setting and the mystery. But it just wasn’t what I enjoyed.

Juliana and Marella seemed the most real to me. Maybe because I’m closer in age and life to them, but they resonated with me more. Dorian was too bitter to enjoy, Essie seemed to have more problems than we were able to explore in her section, and Anneke was too hard to understand. I liked Juliana. I wanted better things for her and I wanted to believe her that things were going to get better when she wanted them to. Marella was trying to find her own voice and found that she couldn’t; it was always going to be tainted with someone else’s words but that didn’t make it less impactful. Their troubles seemed real to me and their struggle spoke to me more than the others did.

Juliana was my favorite character. The life she had made for good fiction, even if it wasn’t pretty. She was interesting and the people she was around were people you wanted to hear more about and see into their lives. She was interesting even if she wasn’t good. She was the one you cheered for in the book.

Marella was easy to relate to in some ways. Her mother wanted what was best for her and went through a lot of grief to get it. Marella rebelled against this in her way and that was relatable. Parents usually do what they think is best for their children even if children don’t see it that way.

Ivy Pochoda
Image via Amazon

I sound like a broken record, but Juliana’s section was my favorite of the book. I liked how she showed the beautiful side of a life that’s often overlooked and frowned at. She saw the beauty in her friends in a different way than the men who paid them did. Her section really spoke to how woman can be overlooked and seen as property in our society. While some women profit from this, it’s not safe. Our society sees sex workers as at fault for any violence against them because of their line of work instead of seeing the perpetrators as vile men. It’s ‘these women’ who keep doing things to get themselves killed. Feelia’s story emphasizes how little faith is put in this group of women.

I didn’t like Anneke’s section. It wasn’t just because the mystery was almost immediately given away, but I felt Anneke was very unlikeable. From the first time we meet her, in Dorian’s narration, she’s hostile and rude. It never gets better and by the time she gets a voice, the reader is set against her. Nothing she did helped change my perception of her and I wanted the book to end so I didn’t have to listen to her excuses any longer. I was sick of her very quickly.

The audiobook was dually narrated by Bahni Turpin and Frankie Corzo. Corzo read the majority of the book and I enjoyed her narration. Nothing in it stuck out too much to me. What did stand out a lot was Turpin’s reading. She did the chapters with Feelia’s voice and those stood out a lot. They were written in a very different style, just Feelia’s voice without any other characters or descriptions. The way Turpin read them was amazing, full of passion and anger that the character felt to her bones. I looked forward to these sections because of Turpin.

This book discusses sexism and racism and seemed very appropriate to read in 2020. Feelia and Juliana feel society overlooks them not just for their skin color, but their gender as well. They have problems they can’t take to the police because the police won’t listen. When Essie does listen, Feelia is shocked and reasons it’s because she’s a Latina woman; white men had ignored her for years. It helped highlight privilege without that being the main theme. Maybe I was reading it that way because of the #BLM movement, but I think the message was purposeful.

Writer’s Takeaway: The multiple points of view were very well done. I learned more about the crimes with each person’s voice added to the collage and it came down to the end when I figured out who was responsible. I think it was revealed in a very natural way and hearing from all of the women in this book helped draw that picture.

An enjoyable read (very well narrated) that somehow missed for me. 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.

Related Posts:
These Women by Ivy Pochada | Mediadrone
These Women, by Ivy Pochada | A Bookish Type
Ivy Pochada Explores the Southern Migration to LA in ‘These Women’ |Southern Review of Books
‘These Women’ TV Series Based on Book in Works From ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Bruce Miller and MGM/UA TV | Deadline

WWW Wednesday, 8-July-2020

8 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 haven’t been doing great with Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides but I’m still moving through it. I’m at the point where Tony is starting to swim again which helps keep my interest so I hope I’ll be back into it soon.
I got to the end of the section my buddy and I are reading in The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. So I’m paused with this one until she catches up and we can talk again. I’m loving this book so I’m really looking forward to it.
I started two new books and I stuck to my reading plan! I started the audiobook of The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. I knew nothing about this one before I started so it’s been a bit confusing getting into it and learning about Cussy. I don’t think this one will take too long so I should be through it in a week or two.
I also started my physical copy of How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland which has been such fun. I have family from a lot of different regions of the Midwest and I’ve lived in two dialectal regions so I can pick out the differences he’s talking about in the people I know.

Recently finished: I was able to finish These Women by Ivy Pochoda on Wednesday like I thought. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it completely because I think I was supposed to get a little more out of it than I did. I’ll have a review up tomorrow; maybe that will help me sort through how I felt about it.

Reading Next: Since Midwestern is so short, I’ll probably need a physical book next. I want to keep pushing forward with my shelf so I’ll probably pick up In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. I’ve had this on my TBR for ages since I picked it up used at a library sale. I love knocking down these books that have been there for ages!


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 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.

Libraries Re-Opening

7 Jul

Today is supposed to be a writing check-in post. However, I haven’t written in the past month and this would be the third month in a row where I post about how I haven’t been writing and it’s starting to feel old. I’m trying to think about how I want to re-set my goals for this year after they were disrupted by COVID but until I figure that out, I’m not going to drag you through the mud with me.

So, I’ll focus on something else. My library is starting to reopen!

I’m sure most readers here were more than a little disappointed by the closing of libraries when COVID struck. Our library closed its doors but did an amazing job of keeping their digital offerings running. I utilized Hoopla, CloudLibrary, and Libby to keep listening to audiobooks and read ebooks throughout COVID. My book clubs moved to Zoom and we kept meeting. It was wonderful to keep enjoying library services, but I miss going to the library. Well, things are starting to change. Slowly.

We began curbside pick up yesterday. You can place a hold online and then once your book is ready for pick up, you visit the library and they’ll bring your hold out to you. There are some movies I’ve been wanting to wash and I’ll soon want to borrow some physical books as well so I’m really looking forward to using these options. I think it’s even more critical for parents of young children who need some books for learning or entertainment! I was always in the library over the summer; it’s the best time for reading!

I’m super curious how other libraries have been able to reopen so please tell me! How have you been able to access library resources? Have you been able to get material from your library? I’ll be really jealous if anyone is still able to visit their library in person, so let me know.

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.

Happy Independence Day!

6 Jul

To my US readers, Happy (Belated) 4th of July! I spent the weekend with friends and thusly did very little reading and blogging so I’m going to take today as Independence Day Observed and take a break from blogging in order to get caught up for the week. I’ll return tomorrow.

Happy reading!

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.

Challenge Update, June 2020

2 Jul

This month wasn’t a fruitful as last month, but I’m still happy with it! I’ve been trying to bike outside more so that’s less listening time. I’ve also started watching Netflix while I ride, so I really should say that time for listening is gone. Oh well. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

It’s All Relative // A.J. Jacobs (4/5)
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits // Emma Donoghue (3/5)
Stories of Elders // Veronica Kirin (4/5)
Fiction Writer’s Workshop // Josip Novakovich (3/5)
Semper Fidelis // Ruth Downie (4/5)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes // Suzanne Collins (4/5)

And caught up on reviews! Killing it!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Without even trying, this was a great month for the challenge! I knocked off the two extremes, Pre-1300 and the Future. Downie’s Ruso novels are always good for the earliest time periods with her Roman Empire setting. Traveling to Panem in the future with Collins knocks that one off, too. I’m feeling good about this challenge without having to do much planning!

Goodreads Challenge

35/55
Nine ahead! This is so crazy to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been this far ahead in my Goodreads challenge. Maybe I need to start a George R.R. Martin book to slow me down.

Book of the Month

Always a winner with me, this month has to go to Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie. I love Ruso and Tilla and I’m always looking forward to what they’ll get up to next. I’ve got the sixth book on my TBR now and I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I catch up.

Added to my TBR

So I’ve gone up, I’m at 47 now. It’s only one higher than last month but I thought I’d be going down with so many books finished. I’ve gotten into a YA audiobook trap as my library has a summer listening program that I’m stocking up on for later.

  • Into White by Randi Pink. The first of my YA audiobooks. I’m going to make an effort to read more about race and challenge any prejudice I might hold. Most of these books were selected for that reason.
  • Like No Other by Una LaMarche. Same as above. Thank you, libraries!
  • Easy Prey by Catherine Lo. Ditto above.
  • Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena. Rounding it out. This summer program has stocked me up!
  • Tabula Rasa by Ruth Downie. The next in the series. I’m excited to keep this one going!
  • The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. This is my next book club selection so I expect to start this soon.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Triathlon Age Group National Championships: Not sure what to say here. The race was officially canceled a few weeks ago. I put up a post about it if you want to read my thoughts. I’m a bit bothered by this and don’t like thinking about it so I might remove or change this goal for next month.
  • Submit my novel: Wow, I was so far off base when I wrote my goals for this year. I haven’t touched my manuscript since COVID hit. There have been other priorities. I might look at editing this one as well. Priorities changed a lot and I want to have goals that reflect the new ones.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for this year, it’s fun!

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, 1-July-2020

1 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?

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Currently reading: One chapter a day of Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides is still my goal but it’s not happening as I planned. I’m getting about two a week, so I’m still moving through just a bit slower. The narrative is covering Ervin’s return to the sport and I’m enjoying this journey a lot.
I’m back to reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. My buddy and discussed Part 1 and we’re on to Part 2. I’ll probably zip through this soon so we can meet and talk again. I’m really loving Mandel’s plot here.
I’ll probably wrap up These Women by Ivy Pochoda today, I’m so close to finishing it! This is a really dark book but I’m making a lot of connections to current cultural issues and it’s been fascinating to hear the stories from the women who are so often overlooked.

Recently finished: I stayed up way too late Saturday night to finish The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. My swim the next morning was a bit of a struggle. I enjoyed it well enough, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t reread it any time soon. I posted my review yesterday if you want to read more of my thoughts. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll grab my copy of How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland as soon as I finish the second section of Mandel. It shouldn’t take more than a day or two.
I’ll start another book club pick on audio soon. We’re reading The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. I don’t know anything about this one but I’ve felt that books about books haven’t been going well for me lately so I’m a bit weary. Fingers crossed.


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.

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Book Review: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (4/5)

30 Jun

Of course, I couldn’t wait to go back to Panem. I adored the original trilogy and remember staying in bed until 2PM one day to read as much as I could from this series before returning to the real world. This one had me staying up well past when I needed to be asleep. It was a rough swim the next morning but I think it was worth it.

Cover image via Amazon

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins

Summary from Amazon:

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined — every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

With the length of this book, I was really unsure what to expect. At over 500 pages, it’s much longer than the other Hunger Games novels. Early in the Hunger Games, the memories of the war would be much rawer and the capital hadn’t recovered yet. I wasn’t ready for the image of President Snow that we get. He’s poor and floundering, taking every chance he can. I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want to. A few times, I felt bad for him. This did add a dimension to Snow’s character, but I’m not sure what it added to the original stories.

The characters seemed pretty grounded in reality to me. It’s hard to know how people would act in such a dystopian world, but their actions seemed warranted and logical. I’ll talk about this more later, but Snow’s change at the end seemed off to me. Other than that, I loved the Grandma’am and Tigris and Sejanus and Ma. They were a wonderful cast of characters, each unique and loveable in different ways.

Sejanus was my favorite and looking at other reviews, I might be alone here. He had a very complicated past and alliances and I thought he was fascinating. No one feels bad for the rich boy normally, but this is an extreme case. Sejanus is told to deny his identity and is forced into a new world where no one accepts him. He’s desperate to fit in and but is too true to himself to succumb to peer pressure. It makes him crack and it’s almost heartbreaking to watch. He puts Snow in a difficult place in the end and I’m not sure what I would have done if I were Snow, to be honest.

I related most to Lucy Gray and I’m trying to figure out why. I think I see her relationship with Snow as him taking advantage of her and I think most women have felt taken advantage of by a man at some point. Not to the same degree, of course. She was in a dangerous situation and counted on him to ger her out and when he did, she felt grateful to a point where she stopped looking out for herself again. She put her trust in him completely and was taken advantage of. I liked not having a solid idea of what happened to her in the end. It’s almost better that way. I’m usually one for concrete endings, but this one was perfect for me.

Suzanne Collins
Image via IMDb

Part I was my favorite, seeing Coriolanus mentor Lucy Gray and become more involved in the games was interesting. I was rewatching the movies as I read and had fun making parallels between how tributes were treated in the 74th games and the 10th. The things that were new had been developed and improved for the 74th games. I think the change from Capitol students to past winners makes sense for the mentors. Those who have been in the area understand how different it is and can give advice better. The Capitol students aren’t invested in the same way.

Spoiler alert so skip to the next paragraph if you want to avoid it. The ending really bothered me. The book rushed through the end in my opinion and after 500 pages, I didn’t think there was a need to rush. Coriolanus was driven by greed and power for a lot of the book, but he was still compassionate. It wasn’t until the very end where he lost his compassion. He turned Sejanus in to save himself. Even that was to save himself from execution. But it devolved quickly into killing Lucy Gray for a chance of a comfortable life. I thought that was a big step to take. It was page 498 when he started contemplating this. I felt a little cheated that the first 498 pages were building to a moment that went so quickly.

The first line of the description on the back says it all: “Ambition will fuel him.” Snow’s ambition outshines everything else he does. He can’t love because his ambition is too high. He can’t have friends. He can’t be human. This is the reason I felt a little bit bad for him. But I remembered who he became and that he tossed his own cousin aside (Tigris!) for image’s sake later in life. After his fear inside the area, he continued to send children to their deaths there. Ambition killed his humanity.

Writer’s Takeaway: I think this fell into the dangerous trap many prequels stumble upon: the need to explain everything. We didn’t need to know the origin of mentors or gifts or interviews or the Flickerman family. A lot of the book was spent explaining Mutts when it should have been focused on Snow and his origin. Instead of cramming so much character development into the last twenty pages, it could have been spread out. The game’s development wasn’t what was interesting about this book but it became the focus. I’ve heard this criticism of many of the Star Wars spin-offs and it stuck out to me a lot here.

Enjoyable and engaging but not a great ending. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the ‘Future’ time period for 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!

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