Tag Archives: Bellwether

Challenge Update, February 2016

1 Mar

February was short and busy, a pesky combination. I picked up two long books which will take me some time to get through and I can’t fight it. Progress in time. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in February:

Bellwether // Connie Willis
Shanghai Girls // Lisa See

Yikes! My slow down here is very obvious after coming off a strong January. I’m trudging through some long titles right now so I know they’ll come to an end eventually. Maybe they’ll help me with a strong March!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

6/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. I was able to add Bellwether to the 1980-1999 time period which worked well. It was harder to place Shanghai Girls because it really spanned 1937-1945 with a lot more emphasis on the earlier part of the book. I’ve chosen to put it in 1920-1939 for that reason.

Goodreads Challenge

8/45
I’m starting to think going down to 45 books for the year was a good move. I’m still a bit ahead of schedule, but no much. I should be able to keep this up and I believe I have some shorter titles in the mix in the summer which will keep me ahead and do well.

Book of the Month

BellwetherI’m inclined to pick Bellwether by Connie Willis. This book surprised me in all the right ways and I recommend it highly. You can read my review here where I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Added to my TBR

My list made it down to 139! This is amazing progress for me and I’m really excited to say I’m 2 down from where I was. I’ve been making an effort to finish more books that I’ve been wanting to read for a long time and it looks like I’m finally making a dent. Nothing was added this month.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re doing better than me! If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, 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, 24-February-2016

24 Feb

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

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The Three Ws are:

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


PrincipeCurrently reading: I’ve put Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling on hold for a minute while I work on my book club selection. I’m hoping to jump back on it soon, though. I miss the story in light of the Cursed Child news!
Not sure what’s going on with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I wasn’t expecting aliens, to be honest with you. Are they going to be here the whole time?
I was able to listen to a bit of A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin while on vacation. It was something to listen to while I did my workouts and my husband slept. It’s still enjoyable, but I feel a build to a war that I wish I could jump to because it sounds like a good plot point.
I’m really enjoying Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. This was a good book to bring with me on vacation and I got through about 200 pages of it while I was gone which is really impressive with how tired I was most of the time we were there. I think 95% of that reading was done on the planes. I passed out from exhaustion at night.

Recently finished: Again, nothing. I’m hoping Shanghai Girls will be here next week. Fingers crossed!

I did manage to get a review up for you all. Many of you were interested in Bellwether so go check out my review to see how much I liked it (4 out of 5 stars).

Hanging OutReading Next: I’ve got a while before another book club selection grabs me so I’m going to get back to Harry. Then I’ve got a Mindy Kaling book on my shelf I think will be a quick read, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? Then I’ll try some of my TBR books that I have to get from the library. I skip over those a lot but I want to read them, too!


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: Bellwether by Connie Willis (4/5)

22 Feb

When I wrote my review for another of Willis’s books, Debbie at Moon in Gemini recommended Willi’s ‘short novella’ Bellwether if I wanted something more modern by the same author. It took me a year, but I got to it. It helped that the library had it on audio.

Cover image via Goodreads

Cover image via Goodreads

Bellwether by Connie Willis

Other Connie Willis books reviewed on this blog:
The Doomsday Book (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

Sandra Foster studies fads and their meanings for the HiTek corporation. Bennet O’Reilly works with monkey group behavior and chaos theory for the same company. When the two are thrust together due to a misdelivered package and a run of seemingly bad luck, they find a joint project in a flock of sheep. But series of setbacks and disappointments arise before they are able to find answers to their questions.

This was so fun and cute and I really enjoyed it. Yes, it was a romance and yes it was fun, but it wasn’t full of too-good-to-be-true characters who were attractive and perfect. I liked them all. Though, I’m not sure if I would define something of this length as a ‘novella.’ It was 250 pages which I would call a novel but I guess when her other books are 500-ish pages, this does feel short in comparison. I had one beef with the book that kept it from a full 5 stars for me, which I’ll get to later but the characters and science in the book were fun and had me laughing out loud a lot.

Sandy and Bennet were remarkably normal characters who were well aware of their normalcy while everyone else had, at least, one quirk. Flip is hard to ignore as an over-the-top character, but it was a very real portrayal of those who are fashion forward and always up on the latest trend. The other scientists and Billy Ray seemed to be oblivious to the influences they had in their lives and I liked that Sandy could see them all. A great cast of characters to bring this story together.

Flip was both my favorite and least favorite character. She was fun to read about and could always be counted on for a fun like to brighten the story and make me laugh. But she was also irritating. She combined everyone you’d been forced to work with and hated into one person. She was also the person you think it staring at your outfit and judging it all the time and the person who you run into when you don’t want to. All in one. It created a love-hate relationship.

I related to Sandy and Ben in different ways. I related to Ben because a frequently feel my style is, at least, three years behind the time and I don’t even notice. I started wearing skinny jeans way too late and I’m still suck on them. I’m refusing to give into the ‘workout clothes in public’ trend that I’ve noticed a lot lately. Running tights are for running. I also related to Sandy because I’ll notice trends going on around me (like running tights) and feel like I’ behind because I just don’t get it. Honestly, what am I missing? How are comfortable clothes now a trend when it hasn’t been like that since the 80s and we all now agree that was a terrible trend. I’m missing something.

"ConnieWillisCW98 wb". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“ConnieWillisCW98 wb”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The subplot with Billy Ray was my favorite of the book. He was a trendy guy from a subculture you wouldn’t think of as trendy. It was fun to see which trends affected his character and how he was similar to Flip in a lot of different ways. I also enjoyed the nod to cell phones in the 90s when this was published. It dated the book for sure, but it was fun to remember them.

For the first 80% of the book, I couldn’t figure out what the goal of the characters was. I felt that ‘finding the source of hair bobbing’ was too vague to be the main purpose of a novella. That’s what I would expect to find in a non-fiction book. It made the book seem very lost to me for a long time. I enjoyed the jabs at management and hearing how Flip can ruin everything, but I failed to see an end point until very close to the end.

My audiobook was narrated by Kate Reading and I absolutely loved her. She kept Sandy light and airy, gave believable voices to the male characters. She did great voices for Flip and the other waiters and waitresses Sandy ran into who were rude and eye-rolling to customers. It was fun all around and Reading kept Sandy light-hearted and sarcastic which was great.

It wasn’t a problem that the characters were following fads. It wasn’t even their fault. The clothes that are available and the restaurants that stay open are often because of fads and trends. Sandy had to live with wearing PoMo Pink and drinking Cafe Lattes because that was available. But it was good to be aware that certain things were trends. The anti-smoking fad for example. It caused everyone to be mean to Cheryl when she was the most important person at HiTek. Sandy’s ability to identify fads made her resilient to them to a degree, but she still had to follow some of them.

Writer’s Takeaway: Reading Willis’ Goodreads Author page, it points out that her protagonists often come up against minor characters single-mindedly pursuing a goal that seems irrational or illogical. This is a great source of humor in a book. Flip’s goal is to do as little as possible and her other coworker needs to find Romantic Bride Barbie. These goals affect the main character ways that can be humorous and provide the time for the protagonist to discover something about the goal. I want to try this technique.

A super fun read that cleansed my palate for some longer fantasy ahead. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled 1980-1999 for my 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!

Related Posts:
Bellwether | Shelf Love
What your professor never told you about science: a review of Bellwether | Scientific Gems
Following The Leader – Bellwether, by Connie Willis | Serendipity

WWW Wednesday, 10-February-2016

10 Feb

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

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The Three Ws are:

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


ClashofKingsCurrently reading: It feels like I’m making good progress with Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling but I’m not even 100 pages in yet. It’s a chunk of a book and I wish I could report more progress with it. It will come in time, I’m sure. Let’s see how much I can get through before I have to pick up my next book club selection.
Only a few lunches reading Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and I’m over 30% of the way through it. This is flying by! It will probably be the next book I finish because of how long these other selections are.
Speaking of long, I started the audiobook of A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin. This will be on here a while because it’s almost 40 hours of audio! It’s the only one I’m listening to so I hope it will move quickly between car rides and listening around the house. Fingers crossed!

BellwetherRecently finished: I finished Bellwether by Connie Willis which I really enjoyed. My review will be coming up after my vacation so you’ll have to wait for a little to read it but be assured it’s positive. It’s science fiction, but only in the sense that it’s fiction writing about science. It’s rather modern in my opinion.

So many reviews! I posted about A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab last week. I gave it 4 stars and really liked it. I can’t wait for the sequel.
I also reviewed Carry On by Rainbow Rowell earlier this week. I adored the book and read it super fast. A full 5 stars.
Finally, I posted about Dead Wake by Erik Larson yesterday. He writes a great historical narrative and if you’re interested in that at all, you should check out his work.

ShanghaiReading Next: I’ll pick up Shanghai Girls by Lisa See on Sunday. I hope it’s good, but not so good I finish it before my vacation’s over. See is coming to my area this year and I’m really excited to meet her.


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!

WWW Wednesday, 3-February-2016

3 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading 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?


PrincipeCurrently reading:  I’m really enjoying Bellwether by Connie Willis. The narrator is sarcastic and cynical but also very smart and determined. She studies fads and is always analyzing things around her to see what’s in style. It’s really fun.
I’m still at the very beginning of Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. I can’t remember if I’ve read this once or twice before, but there’s always things you forget about a book between the times you read it and I love re-discovering those things. This will be fun.
I haven’t had a lot of time to read Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I can tell it’s going quickly, though. I think I’m already 8% into it and I feel like I’ve read three pages! I hope it goes by quickly.

DeadWakeRecently finished: As predicted, I finished Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I actually finished it on Wednesday after I’d posted here. It was really great and I think I’ll have the review for it up as early as next week! I’m a bit short on material at the moment so reviews are going up quickly.

I’ve had one book reviews posted this week. It was One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book club reflection should follow next week but be warned, I was not a big fan of this book. I gave it Two out of Five stars.

ShanghaiReading Next: Because of Spirit Airlines size/weight restrictions, I’m going to stop reading Potter when I go to Florida and start Shanghai Girls by Lisa See. It’s a nice, small paperback which will be good for the plane. If it doesn’t last me the week, I’m sure I can find another book to pick up in Orlando.


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!

WWW Wednesday, 27-January-2016

27 Jan

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading 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?


BellwetherCurrently reading:  A lot of changes this week! I’m super close to the ending of Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. I’m on the last disk and I’m tempted to sit in my car for a while just to finish it!
I grabbed a new audiobook this week, Bellwether by Connie Willis. I read Willis’s novel The Doomsday Book a while back and another blogger (and I, unfortunately, do not remember who) recommended this novella. It’s a short one, only five hours on audio, and I’m looking forward to it.
I’m finally picking up Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. This will be my Spanish language book for the year and I’ll come and go with it for a while so I’m expecting this book to be on here long-term.
I picked up a new ebook as well. I decided on Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. It’s another classic book I’ve never read and I’m in the mood for a few more before I get over this kick.

A Darker Shade final for IreneRecently finished: Such a good week for finishing books! I finished A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab while cooking and working out early this week. I liked it a lot and I’m not on the bandwagon of those excited about the sequel. Turns out Schwab was in Michigan over the weekend for a con and my friend Rachel met her. Lucky girl.
It was a big push and I feel asleep once or twice in the process, but I finished One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! My book club met on it on Monday so I cut it close. Phew.
I bunkered down on Sunday and finished Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. I might have avoided some blog writing and chores, but it was totally worth it! I was never a slash fangirl, but I still enjoyed the story and know it must have made a lot of other Fangirls really excited.

ShanghaiReading Next: Hm, not anything major lined up now. I’ll probably be starting Shanghai Girls by Lisa See not too long from now. My book club is reading this for March so I’ll pick it up in the middle of April. See is coming to Detroit and I’m excited to meet her!


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!