Books Becoming Movies in 2017: What I’ll read and what I’ll pass on

7 Mar

I’m sure I’m not the only person who likes to read the book before seeing the movie. I love being able to compare the two and come to the ultimate decision that the book is better. (Does anyone ever disagree?) Using this and this articles, I’d like to present a list of books that I’m either going to hurry up and read or let the movie woo me without preconceived notions.

The Zookeeper’s Wife (Diane Ackerman, March 31)- Pass. I might as well write a whole post about how sick I am of books about being the daughter or wife of someone noteworthy. This is me on my feminist soapbox at it’s finest. I’ll consider it for next week.

Wonder (R.J. Palacio, April 7)- Pass. My husband is reading this one now and I don’t want to make him wait to read it. I’ll go to this one, but I don’t want to create a picture of Auggie in my head and have the moviemakers ruin it.

The Circle (Dave Eggers, April 28)- Read. I have this on my shelf and realizing it will be a movie starring Emma Watson is making me think it will be the next one I pick up!

The Dark Tower (Stephen King, July 28)- Pass. This isn’t my genre per say and I’d rather watch an action plot than read one. Sounds like it will be worth seeing, though!

It (Stephen King, September 8)- Pass. No horror necessary for me, print or film! I heard Will Poulter was playing Pennywise and I was excited about that, but the article I read gives another actor. Now I have no reason to see it! (Ha, pun)

Let It Snow (John Green and others, November)- Pass. Just proof anything with John Green’s name on it is selling like wildfire. Can we get a movie of Looking for Alaska first?

Murder on the Oriente Express (Agatha Christie, November 22)- Read. With Kenneth Branagh playing Poirot and Johnny Depp on board, I can break into another Christie novel. I just added this to my Hoopla Wish List.

The Nightengale (Kristin Hannah, TBD)- Maybe. My book club has contemplated this one for a while and if we read it, great. If not, I’ve read enough WWII dramas to last me a while.

The Glass Castle (Jeanette Walls, TBD)- Already read, can’t wait to see it! What a moving book and I hope it will be a touching movie as well!

Live by Night (Dennis Lehane, already out)- Pass. I saw the preview for this and I really want to see it, but I don’t think I’ll go back and read the book first. It looks too good to wait too much longer!

50 Shades Darker (E.L. James, already out)- Already read it, will not see it. I didn’t see the first one because I think it’s a cheap money grab and it’s not something that needs to be on-screen. Plus, the book was horrible and I don’t want to endorse it any more than I already have.

Jumanji (Chris Van Allsburg, July 28)- Already read, will see! I just watched the 1995 version a few weeks ago and remembered how much I loved it. It would be great to see what they can do with 20 years of film magic!

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle, July 28)- Pass. I feel like I missed my window to love this book and movie so I’ll pass.

The Bell Jar (Sylvia Plath, TBD)- Maybe. I read this book a while ago and I didn’t appreciate it at the time. If the movie gets good reviews, I’ll probably see the movie, but I won’t re-read the book first.

Any of the ones I’m passing on you want to sway me on? I’m really excited to jump on a few of these now.

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black (4/5)

6 Mar

I think it was just after I finished reading Bossypants that I added this book to my TBR. I was on a comedian memoir high and Michael Ian Black seemed like the logical next step. I love his dry sarcasm. I found the book a few months later on the sale shelf at a bookstore and picked up my copy. It’s been a few years, but I’m glad I finally grabbed time to read it!

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black

Summary from Goodreads:

Darkly humorous and told with raw honesty, You’re Not Doing it Right is Michael’s debut memoir. In it, he takes on his childhood, his marriage, his children, and his career with unexpected candor and deadpan wit, as he shares the neuroses that have plagued him since he was a kid and how they shaped him into the man he is today.

In this funny-because-it’s-true essay collection, Michael says the kinds of things most people are afraid to admit, and as a husband and father living in the suburbs, asks the question so many of us ask ourselves at one point or another. How did I end up here?

This book was exactly what I expected and wanted from it. Black is self-deprecating and honest in a way I don’t think a lot of people would be. He fights with his wife and he’s going to tell you about it. It’s not always funny but when it is, he’ll make the joke. He goes through his life in semi-chronological order. There are times he goes back because of something that’s happening to him that causes him to reminisce but I found this book pretty well-organized. I’ve said before, I like logical order. I also like when people can be honest about things that suck and Black did that. Some things aren’t funny, like your dad dying or your sister having a mental disability. I felt he treated things with the respect that needed to be and shared a lot of his life and the parts of it that aren’t funny.

I think Black portrayed himself and his wife very realistically. A lot of their relationship wasn’t a perfect and they had to work at it. Some things were funny and cute and he found time to make jokes about them. I was surprised about how ‘Stepford’ his life seemed at times. I’m used to thinking of comedians as either too rich for childcare or so hipster they wouldn’t live in Connecticut. I guess I need to stop stereotyping famous people.

Black’s wife, Martha, sounds awesome. She’s pushy and sarcastic, but I think you’d have to be to marry him. She sounds like a riot and the way their relationship started makes me want to gossip with her. I wasn’t a big fan of how she and Michael got together, but I respected the way they raised their children when they were young and she seemed awesome to me.

Black talked about not feeling he fit in when he was in high school and I could understand that. As much as I wanted to be friends with my friends, the people I respected, you always feel that pull to be ‘cool’ and have the ‘popular kids’ like you, too. The chapter where he fought Dale stuck out to me, I could see if happening so easily that it frightened me. Black was easy to relate to and he portrayed his life as a misfit very well.

I thought the stories of Black’s life as a father and husband were most enjoyable. Buying a BMW and having a fussy infant were funny and down-to-earth. Not many people can relate to the guy who went into entertainment with no degree and were successful. He would have a very limited audience if he focused on this part of his life. But being a family man is relatable. I could see these things running through my dad’s head and I liked the humor in it.

Black’s dating life wasn’t as interesting to me. He seemed like a pig when he talked about the college student who wouldn’t be intimate with him and he was unrelatable to me. I wish he’d stuck more to his adult life when he was likable though more pessimistic.

Even though Black is pessimistic and down about most things in his book, he still has a good life and he admits it. He has a wife he loves (most of the time) and two kids he admires. Even when he’s making dark jokes and ripping on himself, he’s still a happy person. It’s his internal outlook, not what he expresses, that really seems to matter.

Writer’s Takeaway: I would be wary of a book that adopted this tone if it were by someone who wasn’t known for bleak humor. Black pulls it off because that’s his personality and someone picking up this book likely knows that. If I published a book, on the other hand, and people didn’t understand my brand of humor, that might not find it amusing. Black kept his voice and didn’t sacrifice for book sales, which I can appreciate, but I would caution less-famous writers from adopting a strong tone as he did.

This book made me laugh and was great on vacation. 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!

Related Posts:
Book Review: ‘You’re Not Doing It Right’ by Michael Ian Black | Bookpeople’s Blog
Lollygagger’s #CBR5 Review #21: You’re Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations by Michael Ian Black | Cannonball Read 5

Challenge Update, February 2017

2 Mar

I’m surprised at the number of books I finished this month. I’ve been really stressed between school and work and working out. Somehow, I’ve been able to manage it all. Well, most of it at least. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in February:

Misterio de la guia de ferrocarriles // Agatha Christie (4/5)
Away // Amy Bloom (3/5)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? // Mindy Kaling (3/5)
The First Phone Call from Heaven // Mitch Albom (4/5)
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay // J.K. Rowling
You’re Not Doing It Right // Michael Ian Black (4/5)

I’m surprised how many of these are physical books I was able to take off my shelf! It’s getting shorter during this book club hiatus but I really miss talking to people about books!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

5/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 12 different time periods. You can read about it here. No change this time. All of my books were either modern or in the 1920-1930s which should be no surprise to those of you who know my 1920s love! I have no idea if I’ll knock any of these out next month but I’ll try my best to make some progress on this.

Goodreads Challenge

12/50
Still ahead of schedule! I know that man of my books this month were on the shorter side so I’m aware that my speed might not be what it needs to be, but boy does it feel good to have that number! 12 already! I’m 5 ahead of schedule.

fantastic-beastsBook of the Month

If you’re surprised that I’m choosing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling, you need to come visit me here more often! I love Rowling and the HP universe and I thought this screenplay was really fun to read and let me enjoy my favorite universe in my favorite time period. What’s not to love?

Added to my TBR

I know you won’t believe me, but I didn’t add any books this month! I scarcely believe it myself, but it’s true! I hope this doesn’t mean I’ll add a ton next month… I’m down to 113 and feeling good!

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: This is rough. The class I’m in has no prerequisites, but a lot of the people in it have a bachelors’ in the subject so I feel really behind and I’ve been working really hard to keep up. I’ve only gotten one grade back and so far, so good, but we’ll see!
  • Knit blankets:  I’m just finishing one up now that will poise me to be ready for a while. My cousin’s wife hasn’t found out the gender of her baby yet so once she does, I’ll send one off and have to get started on another one.
  • One race per month: My husband and I ran a 15K trail race in February. Burr! Very cold but very satisfying when we finished it.
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: As I said before, I sent it to four readers and one of them has gotten back to me. We had dinner and she and I talked over some possibilities for changes I could make. I probably won’t get to them until this summer, but I’m having fun dreaming up ways to incorporate the changes!

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, 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!

WWW Wednesday, 1-March-2017

1 Mar

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.


nightsoldiersCurrently reading: Nothing on Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs. We don’t have any trips planned for a bit (yay!) so it might be a while before we’re able to get back to this one at all.
I’ve squeezed in a bit of The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler while my husband was at a convention and I was eating dinners alone. I’m really enjoying it, maybe the favorite of my current reads.
With some long runs, I’ve made decent progress with The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. I love linguistics so this book is fascinating for a language nerd like me! It’s a bit slow, but I’m learning a lot from it.
I started Night Soldiers by Alan Furst! It came in at the library and it’s a log longer than I expected. I’m thinking I might have to renew it and because it’s an ILL, I only get one renewal. Time for some speed reading!

youre-not-doingRecently finished: I finished up You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black. It was a fun, sarcastic read from Black, exactly what I was expecting from him. I think I’ve got my fill of comedian memoirs for a bit so I probably won’t read another for a bit, but I did enjoy them. My review is likely coming tomorrow.

I posted my review of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling on Thursday. I’m hoping I surprise no one when I say I gave it a full 5 out of 5 stars and completely loved it. I was thinking of a book-to-movie review, but they’re exactly the same so in this case, I’ll pass.

Reading Next: No plans. I’m not even halfway through any of my current books so it seems premature to make guesses. We’ll have to see what the future brings!


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!

‘The ABC Murders’ on Agatha Christie’s Poirot (TV Show)

28 Feb
Image via Fanart

Image via Fanart

One of the things I love about WWW Wednesday is when I learn something new from the bloggers. Huge thank you to 4thhouseontheleft for letting me know there was a television series of the Poirot mysteries! I was able to watch the episode of The ABC Murders when I was home sick last week.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Sticking to the book. I was ready for some serious deviation in this show, but I was happily surprised. The writers did an amazing job of sticking to the plot and not cutting any major element. I kept smiling while I was watched it because I was so pleasantly surprised!

 

Poirot’s speech pattern. I’ll admit that reading Poirot in Spanish and having him inject French phrases was a little off-putting. I wasn’t ready for it and since I don’t know French, it really messed with my head. It was an adjustment but I managed. In the show, it sounded very natural the way the actor would speak and I really appreciated how smooth it was.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Taking out the land lady’s daughter. I thought she was really unnecessary in the book and just added to an already long character list. What she did to help Cust was confusing and I’m glad it was taken out.

Cust’s interrogation. In the book, because Hastings is narrating, the interrogation is presented as, “Poirot did this and then told me what happened” which came across as a bit choppy and awkward. I’m glad the show got away from this POV because it was much more natural and flowed well the way it was shot.

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

 

Details of the D murder. In the book, it seemed like Cust was messing up when he murdered someone whose initials weren’t DD. That small detail was taken out of the show and I think it added a lot to how tricky Franklin was. I wish it had been kept.

Things That Changed Too Much

 

Franklin. I pictured him as younger, maybe a Silver Fox kind of guy in his 50s. Perhaps it’s a difference in style to when the show was shot, but I didn’t think Franklin would be able to seduce young Betty Barnard. I know I wouldn’t have been tempted at all and she seemed rather shallow so it surprised me that they chose an actor who looked so much older.

Japp’s perspective. I liked getting Japp’s perspective from time to time and seeing how frustrated he was getting and how superior he felt when he got some information before Poirot. I wish that had been added back to the show.

Hastings. He was pretty annoying and dim-witted in the show which I didn’t see as believable. Why would Poirot keep him around if he was like that? He kept insisting on talking about the Cayman he brought back and it was tiresome. I liked it better when he was narrating and painted himself in a good light.

Reader, have you seen Agatha Christie’s Poirot? Did you watch this episode? What did you think?

Until next time, write on.

Library Writers’ Group: Revising

27 Feb

I’ve told you all before how amazing my friend Kristine Kruppa is, right? She led our writers’ group this month and talked about the revision process, using a lot of her experiences from revising her novel and giving me some good insight on the revisions she just gave me for my manuscript. I’m excited to share with you some things we learned.

First, revising and editing are different in a very notable way. Editing implies line editing, looking at structure and grammar and improving it. Revising comes earlier in the process and is on a story-level. You have to revise before editing or else your edits might get revised away. After finishing the first draft, leave the story for about a week or so to get some distance from it. Then do a read-through and start the revision process.

The first thing to look for is characters. Could any be cut from the plot if they don’t contribute to the action? Maybe combining two characters into one makes more sense to reduce the number of characters. The motivation behind each character must be believable and drive their actions. As many characters as possible should have an arc and develop through the book.

The setting is sometimes easier in contemporary novels that it will be for science fiction, speculative fiction, or fantasy. Many times, an outsider will show up in a created world to help build it. While this is the easiest way to do it, others can build one from scratched. Our group touched on transitioning between settings. It’s not always necessary to have the character driving from home to work, but you need to know as the writer how that happened.

The plot is the biggest area to look at. Is your plot predictable? CHANGE THAT! You want to keep the reader guessing until the end. Look for plot holes. Does anything happen for a reason that doesn’t make sense? Does anything contradict? Also look at the flow of the book. Pacing is hard to fix but try to use subplots to keep the book moving. A really key part to pace is the climax. We all said we’d read books where the climax happened too fast. After the whole rising action, it’s okay to linger on the climax a bit so the reader feels satisfied with the resolution. One member suggested exploring third level emotions. (More at this link, scroll down until you see the questions in bold.) This technique is pulling out the less obvious emotions a character has at a key moment and expanding on that feeling. Make sure that this climax and resolution happen for every character arc and subplot, not just the main one.

Read the manuscript through at least once more, making sure you caught everything. One suggestion Kristine had was doing a draft map. For this, she writes down the POV character, characters involved, purpose, and a synopsis of each scene. Any that don’t add to a plot or subplot can be scratched and it helps with pacing for main and subplots.

Next, make the changes!

After you’ve revised, it’s time to turn to Beta readers. Kristine suggests 2-5 who read the genre of your book. It might be great to hear what your mom says, but if she reads high fantasy like mine does, her feedback on my 1920s YA book might not be as helpful. One exception to this is if you’ve written something you don’t know well and what someone to check it for you. I’ve written a book about a woman during her pregnancy. I need to have someone who’s had a child read that one, even if they don’t read women’s fiction. My YA book has a male protagonist; I’ve asked several male friends who were at one time 17-year-old boys to read it for that reason. If your book has occupational details, try getting someone in that field to read it. Ask the Beta reader questions that help drive at the points brought up earlier.

Kristine is one of my beta readers and has given me some amazing advice. If you haven’t read her book yet, please go take a look!

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling (5/5)

23 Feb

I don’t think there was any chance I wouldn’t read this. My husband got me a copy for Christmas and it sat on my shelf taunting me. I was waiting for a hold to come in at the library and decided I had the time so I might as well read it. I feel even more in love.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling

Other books by Rowling reviewed on this blog:

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling, Illustrated by Jim Kay
Harry Potter y el orden del fenix by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter y el misterio del principe by J.K. Rowling
Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling
Very Good Lives by J.K. Rowling
The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)
The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (J.K. Rowling)

Summary from Goodreads:

When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Having seen the movie, there was nothing in the plot itself that surprised me much. The only thing I might mention is that I was unsure how old Credence was supposed to be in the film. Ezra Miller looks younger than he is and I thought he was supposed to be in his mid to late-teens, not his early twenties. No wonder Grindelwald didn’t suspect him! The art in this book was a great joy. The drawings of the animals I had seen on-screen were really fun and I enjoyed having them as part of the scene breaks while reading.

It’s hard to judge the characters too harshly. I think we’ll learn a lot more about Newt and what drives him going forward. The only character that bothered me was Queenie and I felt the same when I was watching the movie. She seems almost stupid with what she reveals about herself and her ability to read minds but she’s very resourceful at the same time. She uses her looks and flirtation to get everything she can and she seems almost useless besides this. It was kind of frustrating when paralleled with a strong character like Tina.

Jacob is so easy to like and very lovable. Folger did a great job with him in the film and Rowling wrote him well, too. He’s very well-meaning and just stuck in a bad situation. I’m glad the muggle all Potterheads wanted to be was a good person!

Tina loved to try to do the right thing even when it was hard. I think most people can relate to that. Be it saying something no one wants to say or helping someone who annoys you, Tina tried to do the right thing and would put herself at a disadvantage to do it. It made her very admirable and made her easy to look up to and relate to her bad situations that most people have faced from time to time when putting their necks out for someone else.

J.K. Rowling Image via The Telegraph

J.K. Rowling
Image via The Telegraph

I loved the Niffler. I think most people did. I didn’t expect for a little creature to have such a great personality and shine in the book and story so much. Pickett was a close second to me.

I thought the scenes chasing down many of Newt’s creatures were a bit of fluff for movie-goers. They didn’t add much to the plot, but they must have looked good! (I did see it, they did look good.) Reading the screenplay made these stick out to me and I realized how little difference they made to the plot.

 

The pending exposure the magic community is facing is having Grindelwald start something similar to a race war, what Voldemort is able to provoke in the Harry Potter series. I think this is very timely with the escalating racial tensions we’re seeing in America. The things said about Jacobs and other no-maj’s are not the nicest things people could say and there’s a strong sense of superiority in the magical community that Newt points out, doesn’t exist in the UK. I’m really interested to see how this evolves with Jacob as a main part of the plot.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m not sure what else I can learn from the great J.K. that I haven’t already. I think she had fun with this book and that excites me because I thought Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was fun, too, but it was so much deeper than that. I think we’ll see a big growth of these characters and a big deepening of the plot in the movies to come and that makes me so excited.

As if there was any doubt, this book gets a full Five out of Five stars from me.

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 Post:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling || Review | Romi Reads

WWW Wednesday, 22-February-2017

22 Feb

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.youre-not-doing


Currently reading: We didn’t make any progress on Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs during our trip this weekend. We had a few things on our minds and used the time to talk instead. There are worse things in this world!
Not much with The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler because I’ve been out-of-town so much but I’m still really enjoying the book and I hope to keep moving on it!
I started another comedian memoir because I needed something light to read over my vacation. I grabbed You’re Not Doing It Right by Michael Ian Black from my shelves. I enjoyed his commentary on the VH1 I Love The… series and I watched Wet Hot American Summer last summer and remembered how funny he was. The book is a great delivery of his dry humor and I’m really liking it.
I also just started The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson. I’m glad Bryson seems as fascinated by the English language as I am! Sometimes I find myself wondering how much money a linguist could make because it’s so fun!

fantastic-beastsRecently finished: I finished Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them: The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling last Thursday. It was a super quick and fun read. I’m super excited for the movie to come out so I can watch it again from home this time! I’ll likely post a review tomorrow.
I also finished The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom on Thursday, it was a big day for me! This was a good audiobook and I really liked that Albom narrated it himself. I posted my review on Monday so please go check it out and see why I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

I posted one other review, Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars, please check it out!

nightsoldiersReading Next: I know I’ve been saying it for weeks but I picked up Night Soldiers by Alan Furst from the library last night! I’m going to start in on this one as soon as I finish Black’s book, which I hope is really soon!


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!

Mental Health Day: I’ll Be Back Tomorrow!

21 Feb

Hi, all.

I had a very stressful weekend which is only worse because I was on vacation! Yuck. As such, I don’t have anything ready to post today but I’ll be using this evening to prepare for the rest of the week.

My apologies for a delay in content but rest assured my brain is recovering!

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom (4/5)

20 Feb

Mitch Albom is from Detroit and he does a lot of book signings in my area as a result. A good friend of mine and I went to hear him speak a few years ago and I got a copy of his latest (at the time) signed. I hate taking signed books out of my apartment, so using an audio version of this book made the most sense to me. It was a nice, quick read.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom

My past post on Meeting Mitch Albom

Summary from Goodreads:

The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small town on Lake Michigan that gets worldwide attention when its citizens start receiving phone calls from the afterlife. Is it the greatest miracle ever or a massive hoax? Sully Harding, a grief-stricken single father, is determined to find out. An allegory about the power of belief–and a page-turner that will touch your soul–Albom’s masterful storytelling has never been so moving and unexpected.

I’ve read and listened to a few of Albom’s books before and this seems right in line with his style. He’s going to talk about Christianity without hitting you over the head with it and he’s also going to talk about doubting religion and that strengthening belief. This book was hard to read only because my Christian side wanted to believe and my reader side wanted to think ‘Magical Realism’ but following a character who doubted so strongly made me doubt, too. I wasn’t sure what to think until the end, which I’ll avoid talking about. I liked the ride, though. The breadth of characters covered the topic well and gave me someone to commiserate with each step of the way.

I liked that there were characters who were strong believers, skeptics, and people who went through all stages of belief and disbelief along the way. I think that’s a fair representation of how humanity would respond to such a miracle. I’ve often wondered if a great prophet came to Earth, would we believe him or her? Would we discredit this person or recognize that he/she is the one we’ve been waiting for? I think Albom must have wondered something similar when he wrote this book. Some believed it immediately, dropping everything and moving to Coldwater while the miracle was happening. Others came out of anger and a lot kept at arms distance and waited for proof that the whole thing was real. I liked how the people of Coldwater went through this as well, even those receiving the calls. It seemed real and made me wonder where I would fall if calls like that really happened.

Jack was my favorite character. I thought the way he dealt with his son’s calls was really believable. At first he wants to keep them to himself and not call attention to himself, which I could see a police officer wanting to do. I liked seeing his internal struggle to tell his ex-wife and how he told Tess to commiserate with her. I think he really struggled with believing Robby was really talking to him and thought that if he said it out loud, he would have to believe it.

I think I would have trouble believing something as wondrous as phone calls from Heaven at first. I think I would be like Elias or Jack and think it was someone trying to trick me for a while, testing the miracle to see if it stood on its own two feet before I could buy in completely. Even Pastor Warren was skeptical and Father Carole called in his boss to make a decision. This helped me feel like it was OK to doubt but to question and not discredit something that could be a miracle.

Me and Mitch

Me and Mitch Albom, 2013.

I love Sully’s story. It was so moving and complicated and I thought Albom did a great job of balancing all of the conflicting feelings inside Sully. I was scared for a second that he was going to give him a romantic relationship with Liz but I think the way that ended was for the best. Sully was looking out for his son most of all and on his journey to protect the boy, he ended up neglecting him a bit. He needed to refocus his priorities and Liz helped him do this.

I didn’t’ like Amy’s character very much. She was really self-focused and I felt like she was taking advantage of Katherine the whole book. Even when she was taken off the story, she stayed with Katherine because she had no where else she wanted to be. She didn’t even seem to care when her fiance left her and didn’t try to hard to contact him. She seemed unimportant to the plot and just fulfilled Albom’s desire to have a reporter character in the story.

Albom narrated the audiobook himself which I really liked. He gave the characters the voices he wrote them with. There were a few instances of him using audio effects like knocking and thumping to enhance the story which I really liked. He narrated well but that can be expected from a radioman. I hope he does his other audiobooks as well.

All of the characters struggled with belief. Even Catherine, who believed immediately and spread the word, struggled with others not believing her and how to handle those who doubted her. The characters were very representative of Christians that I’ve met. Some believe with all of their hearts and struggle to see how others can live without the faith they have. Others used to believe but have fallen away from God for one reason or another. Others don’t believe and many are somewhere in the middle. The book brought up something incredible that effected people’s faith in different ways and showed how no one Christian is exactly like another and how things can shake or build faith depending on how they’re perceived.

Writer’s Takeaway: I thought Albom had almost too many characters. I struggled a bit to keep Jack and Jeff straight and I couldn’t tell you the names of any of the TV people besides Amy. I’m glad he didn’t include all of the people receiving phone calls but I thought he could have focused on just a few less to help the reader keep more of them straight.

This was a solid book that helped me see how strong my faith is. 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!

Related Posts:
The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom | Words Are My Craft
The first phone call from heaven by Mitch Albom ~ Book Review | Ebaarat
The First Phone Call from Heaven by Mitch Albom | Reading_Rexy
Warner Brothers Lands Mitch Albom Novel ‘The First Phone Call from Heaven’ | Deadline