Tag Archives: Book Club Reflection

Book Club Reflection: Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

3 Jun

One of my book clubs decided to pick a title I’ve ready already, Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. I decided to join and listen in but not to reread the book. I watched the TV and movie adaptations after reading it so I felt I remembered the plot pretty well.

We all enjoyed Poirot’s character. He had a funny way of describing people and was very quirky in a way that was a joy to read. We did feel that he was a bit of a loner and kept to himself and he was very egocentric as well. Several readers recalled that Christie had very negative words to describe her feelings on Poirot and how much she disliked her own character. One reader noticed that a lot of stereotypes seemed to be used in the book based on where a character was from. We recognize that these were more common at the time of writing, but were still a little taken aback by them.

The background for the crime is loosely based on the Lindburg Baby’s murder and this book was released a few years after that crime took place. No one guessed the ending, though in retrospect it was easy to point out some clues. The train was a great setting for the story to take place. It allowed for people with very different backgrounds to be together for long enough for the crime to take place and for there to be a variety of motives for Poirot to sort through. We felt the setting in Eastern Europe was entertaining as well. One of our readers visited Aleppo and remembers seeing a hotel where Christie stayed when traveling with her husband. She had several books set in this part of the world.

We’ve decided to make our next meeting in person! We’ll meet outside and we’re all bringing snacks. I’ve read the book before so I likely won’t reread it but I’m excited to listen in and see what others have to say about it. Until next time, write on.

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

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

Book Club Reflection: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

4 May

One of my book clubs recently elected to read a book I read and enjoyed about a year ago, The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. I was delighted to talk more about this wonderful book. I’m usually a bit quieter during discussions of books I read so long ago, but as this was the first book my ready buddy and I discussed, I have a lot of recollection of the details of this book and was able to be a bigger part of the discussion.

The titular house has a lot of personality. It’s always described as a house, never a home to Danny or Maeve. The house seems very out of place in Pennsylvania. Some readers described it as a house in one of those village museums where houses are moved there and many rooms blocked off to stay frozen in time. Parts of it never advanced and it seemed odd that there were belongings of the previous owners. When Cyril and Elna moved in, they didn’t bring their own things. Andrea and her girls didn’t either. The house was a bit out of place in that it was made of stucco, like many houses in California, and had a clear passage from front to back like homes in the south before air conditioning.

Siblings with an age gap like Danny and Maeve sometimes feel like they grew up in different families because the people who raised them have changed so much in that time. Maeve never had kids of her own and since she had a mother and Danny did not, she was more of Danny’s mother. She grew up before her time and lost a lot of her childhood to raise Danny. Between Maeve, Jocelyn, Sandy, and Fluffy, Danny almost had a complete mother. We wondered if Elna felt she was leaving her children with a better mother figure in the staff than she could provide herself. Many of our readers wanted to learn more about Elna than what was in the book. They wanted to see how she grew up and how she could become someone who would abandon her children. Many felt that nothing about her was relatable. While Andrea was the complete opposite of her in many ways, her disruptive actions and spitefulness were just as hard to understand.

One reader described this as a glum book with a lot of unhappy people. Another said that there were a lot of fairy-tale-like elements to it. Andrea was a wicked stepmother, there was the expected missing parent in Elna as well. In many ways, Cyril must have felt like a knight in shining armor when he ‘rescued’ Elna from the convent before she took her vows. Maybe Elna didn’t want to be rescued.

It seems this group has picked another book I already ready for the next title so I’m excited to sit in and listen again. It’s fun to revisit old reads with a book club. Until next time, write on.

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

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

Book Club Reflection: The Overstory by Richard Powers

20 Apr

My book club met the day after I finished reading The Overstory by Richard Powers to talk about the book. I’m glad I could talk to the group about the book, so I wasn’t insularly reading it. This is always great when I don’t like a book.

Powers is a well published author. This was his 12th book and won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Powers has a diverse background. He worked as a computer programmer for some time, much like Neelay. He started his education in physics before switching to creative writing. He’s moved around a lot, having lived in Thailand for six years as a child and moving to the Netherlands after the publication of his first book to stay out of the public eye. He was working at Stanford when he wrote this book and did a lot of research to make sure that the science in the book was as accurate as possible at the time of its publication. Our readers really appreciated the details and research he was able to add. After finishing that research, he moved to the Smoky Mountains. He was finishing the book around the time Trump was elected to office and felt he needed to go back and edit parts of the story to reflect changing attitudes. We wondered if this editing removed some of the cohesiveness of the story.

There was a mixed reaction to this book. One reader was blown away by the book and said it gave her a lot to think about. One enjoyed the writing style. Another liked the characters. There were others who felt like me. We weren’t emotionally invested in the story and topic. One said the book lacked empathy and seemed to suffer from the point about nature that Powers was making. One remembered that the characters were most memorable by their story in the Roots section. They were relatable and interesting but once they got into the middle of the book, many had to refer to notes to keep track of the characters and keep them straight. At times, it felt like a lot of short stories that were connected, a bit like trees in a forest, where each could have stood on its own. One did say she started the book as audio and when she switched to print, she liked it more. So maybe I just picked a bad medium.

Surprisingly, a lot of our conversation was about the overall plot and themes. We tend to focus on characters, but this meeting it was different. We talked about how we moved we were by Olivia’s death and the idea that our lives are but a blip and that even humanity is nothing compared to the life span of many trees. In the same way, we felt like Adam’s observation of ants was like how trees might observe humans. Adam was a controversial character in our discussion. From everything else we knew about him, his radicalization seemed out of left field. One reader hypothesized that because he was studying the dangers of the bystander affect, he realized he needed to act so he joined the movement rather than watching it happen. One reader didn’t like how Mimi’s father’s suicide was written. It seemed sudden and almost like an ‘easy out’ for the author to give Mimi some motivation and pass on the family heirlooms. Nick didn’t get a lot of time in our talk. None of us really understood the point his art played in the book and by the end, we were even more confused.

I’ve started our next book and it’s already going much better and I’m looking forward to the discussion. I’ve learned to just look forward to the next book if I don’t enjoy the one I’m reading and it’s going well so far.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Book Club Reflection: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

15 Mar

I’ve been waiting to have time to chat with my book club about Keefe’s Say Nothing since I finished it and absolutely loved it. Luckily, that time finally came last week!

We started with a little background about the author. Keefe is a staff writer for the New Yorker based in Boston. He has Irish roots but his interest in the Troubles steamed from the obituary of Dolours Price he read. When he started researching the Troubles and speaking with the people involved, he found that being an American branded him as an outsider and gave him more access to the players because he wasn’t considered British or Irish and thus wasn’t trying to get information for the other side. We felt he portrayed the characters in a very fair way without taking strong sides. It was to a point that you felt almost OK with the actions both sides took and it took a minute to step back and realize those actions were murder or imprisonment. You were able to reconcile the IRA’s crimes because the British were doing equally horrible things. Since the British were representing the government, they had power and those with power get to narrate what is good and bad. Being an outsider lets Keefe tell this story with less of an agenda. We did feel that he felt a bit upset that Gerry Adams wouldn’t speak with him. He seemed to share this sentiment with IRA members who felt that Adams had turned his back on everyone when he denied his part in the IRA. I’m secretly hoping for a Gerry Adams Belfast Project tape but I know it’s a long shot.

One of the reasons cited for the betrayal of Adams is that he went against the sense of absolutism that the IRA had. The only solution they would accept was their independence from Britain and joining the Republic. Adam’s role in the Good Friday Agreement was a concession and thus he went against the IRA. Other ideas permeated the story, especially silence when lent itself to the title as well. Keeping quiet about something traumatic comes up often in references to Irish culture. One reader had read from an anthropologist that this sense of secrecy stems from large families living in small spaces. Household peace was easier to maintain if certain things weren’t discussed. This prevalence made it a part of the national culture. I’m not sure how true I think that is, but it’s an interesting idea and it’s easy to see it played out in the book, especially in the case of Jean McConville. Many of us were confused why McConville’s story was used to bookend the book. While a dark part of the IRA’s operations, they didn’t disappear a large number of people. We had various reasons for thinking Keefe did this. Partially it might have been because of the role her murder played in the release of the Boston College tapes. It seemed odd at first how willing some of the confessors were to tell their stories, knowing that they had families who were going to have to live with the truth after they were gone. That’s how badly they needed healing from what they’d lived through.

We had some personal anecdotes to share as well. One reader grew up in a strongly Irish family and remembers praying for the hunger strikers at Thanksgiving dinner. The book touched on the IRA support in America but I hadn’t thought of it being in my area so that was eye-opening. Someone recommended a movie about Bobby Sands called Hunger starring Michael Fassbender. Another shared a YouTube video of Seamus Heaney reading a poem he wrote about the Troubles which inspired Keefe’s title.

As always, it was a great discussion. I only hope I finish the book for our next meeting before the date. Until then, write on.

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

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

Book Club Reflection: The Bear by Andrew Krivak

22 Feb

My book club met recently to read a book I was not a fan of, The Bear by Andrew Krivak. Krivak was a National Book Award finalist for another book, The Sojourn, and is working on another book. One of our readers did a book club for his other book and Krivak joined the discussion! She said he was very nice and spoke about his time as a Jesuit. He’s published a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit order called The Long Retreat. We could see some contemplative reflections in this book that many felt were in line with a monk’s life. Krivak has said he made up a story for his children about a talking bear and that inspired the bear in this novel. He also said he was inspired by Cormac McCarthy’s The Road which another reader had guessed before our leader volunteered this information.

Our group had divided opinions on this book. Some loved it, a few (like me) hated it, and many were in the middle. Those of us who didn’t know it was going to be a fable were more on the ‘dislike’ side. A few readers had found the audiobook version and opinions there were split between love and hate as well.

The setting was never made very clear. Some felt it was Colorado while others thought Appalachia was more likely. Readers not knowing a lot about what was happening was reflective of the characters not knowing a lot, either. They had such minimal contact with other humans that there was a lot unspoken and unknown in their world. This book was described as a ‘quiet survivalist’ story. It was harrowing because of the girl’s personal struggle, but there wasn’t a community or society that was falling apart.

We thought the book would have been different if the child had been a boy and not a girl. We couldn’t exactly articulate what, but the ways the girl seemed to want to understand her late mother seemed to call on gender lines and wanting to be more like another woman. However, it the world started with Adam, maybe it was fitting that it should end with Eve. We found it odd that the father was so careful in everything he did and all the preparations that he made. Yet he was so reckless when exploring the old house. It was the only time he was impulsive and it spelled his ending. The bear was like her father once he showed up. In one of the girl’s dreams, she thinks she sees her dad but it ends up being the bear. We wondered if the bear was part of her grieving process for her dad’s death.

The book focused on re-establishing a connection with nature. Man is an animal, like all others in nature. However, many of us felt that paying attention to the trees and nature doesn’t have to mean talking to them, and this went a bit far. It was more about learning from nature and how to survive from the animals that do it already.

I was glad to meet up with this group, even if I didn’t like the book very much. It’s always great to talk to other book lovers. 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.

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Book Club Reflection: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

15 Feb

This is much delayed, but I’m finally ready to write my Book Club Reflection for Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche! I have to apologize for the delay since I did finish the book a few weeks ago. I wanted to delay writing this post until after I got through the end of the book but then I put it off too long after. I’ll be writing soon about my delays in posting so you all can get an update on my life. But for now, let’s dive into this complex book.

Adichie has done a few TED Talks that our organizer is a big fan of. Here are links to two, The danger of a single story and We should all be feminists. I’m still making my way through them but have enjoyed her way of speaking so far. Adiche started school in Nigeria, much like Ifemelu, and transferred to the US, first studying in Philadelphia and then Connecticut. Her tone is very funny and humorous and her perspective on American culture is a source of laughter. She was quoted once saying she was surprised people didn’t find it as funny as she thought it was. One of our readers found the book too long and a bit dry though most loved it, despite the length. We felt the book was about a lot of things. It was clearly about race and racism but it’s also about sex and sexism, the migrant experience, the strength of first love, and returning home. If you’ve read my review, you know that I think there was too much in this book and I think this list of themes highlights that.

The title of the book comes from the nickname Nigerians give to those who have lived in America and return with some Americanized ideas and inclinations. We found it was very interesting that for so much of the book, Ifemelu was sitting at the salon, getting her hair done. Apparently, this was done on purpose, to emphasize the culture surrounding African hair and how much time is put into maintaining a hairstyle. One thing that surprised us in the book was that Adichie comments many times about the quality of Nigerian schools being so much better than American novels. Ifemelu is shocked at Dike’s school experience and how much she feels it is lacking compared to her own grade school. With Adiche’s and Ifemelu’s decisions to come to college in the US, this was a bit inconsistent with some of the other messages in the book. The ending was a bit abrupt, one reader called it a cliffhanger. We all agreed that it was very suspenseful until the end because you were waiting to hear what happened between Obinze and Ifemelu.

There were a few themes that came up often. The blog posts that Ifemelu has in the book were a good way to talk about topics that might have been difficult to address in the novel without that forum. Many of the relationships in the book involved women pursuing men for financial reasons. Auntie Ouju’s first marriage in the US was someone she didn’t love, but she felt she needed to be married. Obinze’s wife clearly wanted to be with him for money as well. It made Ifemelu and Obinze’s relationship stick out. As Americans, many of us found it off-putting that weight comes up a lot in descriptions and conversation. Adichie does comment on this, about how weight is a bigger taboo in the US, and Americans are less comfortable talking about weight and pointing out when someone’s weight is higher than what we think it should be.

One of the biggest themes in the book was about being Black and what that means. Ifemelu says a few times that she wasn’t Black in Africa. The Nigerians divided themselves by culture or nation, not by the colors of the skin. She wasn’t Black until she came to the US. Ifemelu decides to label herself as Nigerian, not Black. But she realizes that others were going to decide she was Black without her opinion being considered. America wanted to pigeonhole her and put a label on her even if she didn’t identify with it.

Auntie Ouju and Dike were some of our favorite characters in the book. Auntie Ouju had redemption in her arc. She learned things, regretted them, and made her own way in a world that wasn’t making it easy for her. Dike had a hard time growing up with her, however. While Auntie Ouju is an adult when she’s having the identity crisis that Ifemelu blogs about. Dike is a child when he’s having this crisis and it’s harder for him than his mother seems to realize. Some felt that Dike’s suicide attempt came out of nowhere. Some of us felt that felt like he didn’t have an identity. His peers thought he was an American Black and his mother saw him as African and we felt these identities were hard for him to balance. Many felt that his visit to Nigeria was very healing because it allowed him to feel like he fit in finally and see where his mother came from and helped explained her expectations and behavior. Dike and Ifemelu were very close, more than most cousins, and we were glad they had this good relationship.

Obinze and Ifemelu’s relationship was a very central part of the book. One reader felt it was a very unhealthy relationship. There was a lot of physical and emotional cheating due to trauma that the characters had suffered. Another thought it was admirable. Obinze admired Ifemelu’s because of her intelligence and what she was capable of on her own. After finishing the book, I think I have to agree with the first reader.

I’m glad I was still able to participate in this discussion, even if I didn’t understand it all at the time. It was good to revisit my notes after I’d finished it. 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.

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Book Club Reflection: Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais

8 Feb

My book club got together a few weeks ago to discuss Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais. Be warned, spoilers ahead! I had enjoyed this book until the end and I was glad that most of my fellow readers liked it as well. One disliked the alternating narrators but enjoyed the story overall. A few did agree with me that the ending was a bit contrived and too many convenient things seemed to happen. After a book that had a relatively slow pace, the ending happened very fast and was a bit rushed. One reader felt that this book came off like a bit of a Nancy Drew story from Robin’s perspective and felt that was a disservice to apartheid and the horrible things that happened under the laws. With today’s political climate in America, many of us drew parallels to the Black Likes Matter movement and the push for rights and recognition that we’re still seeing today.

Robin and Beauty both craved a human connection throughout the story. After Robin lost her parents, she needed to connect to someone. Mable was the only person she thought was left in her life and she abandoned Robin. Beauty was missing her daughter and we felt Robin reminded her of a young Nomsa. Having Robin to care for gave her a second chance at motherhood and she felt she could fix any mistakes she might have made. Robin’s need to connect with Beauty was why he hit the note. She was being defensive of the love the two had formed and Robin wanted to keep it at all costs, even if it was denying Beauty of the one thing she wanted most.

Kat was a surprising element to the book. Many of us were surprised when she wasn’t real. Kat was a great sounding board for Robin. Kat let her cry and have emotions without showing them. Her mother discouraged her from showing her emotions and Kat was a coping mechanism for that. We saw a parallel between Jolene and Edith and Robin and Kat. The sisters were very different but that didn’t stop them from loving each other.

The title was such a short line in the book that we got talking about why Marais would choose it for her title. It spoke to figuring out how to keep going when you were lost. It was about blending in, faking it until you fit in, and getting through to the next thing. As one reader said, “Go along and get along.”

I’m not sure I’ll get a copy of our next book in time for the discussion so I might be missing a month of this group. Fingers crossed it comes in early and I can try. 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 Club Reflection: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

14 Dec

My book club met last week to discuss a book I really enjoyed, The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Happily, most of us enjoyed the book a lot so it was a very positive discussion.

Many commented that the races were well written and easy to follow. The quotes from Pocock at the beginning of each chapter were really great, too, and helped give some context. We gave rowing a lot more credit after reading the book because of the details we learned went into it, even with sports technology where it was in the 30s. Some felt that the narrative got a little detailed at times because of the minutia about the sport, but they were able to push through and still enjoy the story.

Many of us were very impressed with Joe. He went through a lot of trauma with his mother dying when he was so young and how his family left him when he was only ten years old. He was very motivated to attend school so he could get a good job and raise himself up. Many other students were mentioned throughout the book who were in the same situation. He was lucky to have Joyce, who was one of the only constant things in his life and one of the most wonderful things to come into his life.

Rowing is not a big sport in our area. There are some crews on the Detroit River, out of the Belle Isle Yacht Club, but that’s a very exclusive and small set. I know there are big schools in our area with teams. My sister-in-law rowed in college so I’m probably a little more aware of the sport than most. Many readers said they wouldn’t be aware of rowing outside the Olympics.

There was a good historical context in this book as well. The lead-up to WWII was a prominent part and we wondered if the coxswain had revealed his Jewish ancestry if he’d still have been able to compete. A reader recommended the book Olympic Pride, American Prejudice by Deborah Riley Draper about the Black experience at the 36 Olympics, focusing on the runners and Jesse Owens. This book didn’t go into that area much but it’s another big historical marker from the 36 games.

At our meeting, we looked and saw that WU was ranked 2nd nationally in men’s crew. USC was 3rd. I guess the rivalry is still strong.

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.

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Book Club Reflection: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

23 Nov

I had a very fun opportunity last week. I’d read Erin Morgenstern’s book The Starless Sea with my reading buddy back when quarantine started. The SF&F book club at my library picked it for their read this past quarter so I tagged along for the discussion. It was great to hear what other people had to say about a book I discussed so much with my buddy.

Many of us had read Morgenstern’s other book, The Night Circus and more liked that book than this one. We all agreed that she’s a very good and lyrical writer and she has beautiful descriptions. She has stories within her story and many of them were beautifully written. We wanted to read Sweet Sorrow and see what the story would involve but, unfortunately, it’s probably nonsensical with all the pages Maribell tore out. The book seemed to be a love story written for books and wasn’t focused too much on the plot itself. One reader imagined the Harbor like the Library of Congress, with every book ever written included inside.

People either loved or hated this book. Many said the ending, where the fantasy elements really kicked in, was hard to get through and one almost abandoned it rather than finishing. A common complaint was that there was so much to keep track of and so many references to earlier or later text that it was a bit hard to enjoy while trying to mentally juggle so many things. There were a lot of things some felt were never well explained, like who the Owl King was. (A reader’s Google search returned a fairy tale from the 1600s as the reference for this one.) As someone pointed out, we’re in Zachary’s shoes for this book. He doesn’t understand everything around him and doesn’t get all of his questions answered and we have the same experience. Some felt the story didn’t have an ending, but the driving point seemed to be that another story was going to start, so this one had to end.

We had a lot of theories about the book. My favorite was that The Starless Sea (the story itself) was the story created to hide Fate’s heart until it was needed. We, as the readers, find our way through it by reading and solve the puzzle. All the layers and moving parts are part of the craft that kept the heart hidden inside. It took multiple reincarnations of Maribel so that it could finally be time to solve the puzzle and she can finally be with Time. We thought a lot about the dice, too. They told you what path you were more inclined toward, one reader likening them to Dungeons and Dragons dice roles for a character. We’re not too sure what the feather and crown mean, but maybe the harbor that Dorian, Zachary, and Kat form will be based on that. However, it was foretold that the sword Dorian wielded would kill a king and he’s killed Zachary. Is Zachary a king in the new harbor?

Kat was a favorite character for a few of us. She took care of the people around her. Allegra was universally disliked and her desire to keep the harbor the way it was was what made the world collapse around her. She was a gatekeeper who wanted to limit access to the library while the leader of our group, a librarian herself, sees that the role of librarians is the opposite of a gatekeeper, it’s to share and make information accessible. Toward the end, we’re told that Zachary and Dorian are the new Fate and Time. We wondered if they’d have the same trials as Maribel and the Keeper did to finally be together. Many of these characters have literary or cultural references in their name. Dorian comes from Wilde’s The Portrait of Dorian Gray and one reader suspected that Zachary’s middle name, Ezra, was a reference to a character in the Star Wars Rebels story. One of the most interesting was Eleanor. We’re told her name comes from Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House. However, her nickname, the name she chooses for herself, is Lenore. We couldn’t help but think of the Poe poem about his late wife by the same name.

I like joining this group from time to time to get a good SF&F fix. We’ll see what else they’ve got that can entice me. 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.

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Book Club Reflection: The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre

16 Nov

My book club met last week to talk about our latest read, The Rise of Wolf 8 by Rick McIntyre. This was a read I listened to, mostly while moving and driving back and forth between my apartment and my new house so I was able to get through it rather quickly. It wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed but, as I suspected, I was the minority when we met to talk about it.

McIntyre clearly knows a lot and understands wolves well. He’s able to describe the narrative of wolf interaction and is a gifted storyteller. Now, he’s not going to win a Nobel for his writing, but it was still more engaging than most naturalists can probably tell a story about non-verbal animals. Sometimes, he walked a line between telling a story and sharing his research. But his connections to the wolves are strong and he shows his passion. The second book in this series, The Reign of Wolf 21, came out this past September and there’s a planned third book to finish the series.

The reader who most liked this book already liked wolves and dogs. It did get one reader to have a greater affinity for wolves than she’d had before. Many with pet dogs were able to compare the behavior to their dogs. One thing that didn’t come across as well in the book was the size of Yellowstone. A few of our members had visited the park and they said you couldn’t imagine the range of the park and by focusing on the wolves, you didn’t always get a sense of how far apart they were. The Wolf Project is a big undertaking for the park, which is funded with public funds. Some questioned if the public supported the project enough to justify the cost. It seems like McIntyre’s arguing that the additional revenue to Yellowstone is enough to pay for the project and that it’s also supported surrounding businesses.

We had a few criticisms that were shared almost universally. One is that the middle of the book seemed repetitive and long. I noticed this myself and was glad I wasn’t alone. The second was that with the animals being numbered it was easy to forget the relationships and who packed with who if you didn’t read the book daily. I heard the print version contained a family tree that I would have found immeasurably helpful. We heard that the rationale for numbering the wolves is to keep the researchers from getting so attached to the animals. Though, McIntyre seems to do this anyway. Jane Goodall was criticized for naming the chimps she studied since the generally accepted practice is to use numbers.

We’re going to continue to meet virtually so I plan to continue attending. Once this group meets in person again, I’ll likely drop off since it’s now quite far from me.

Until next time, write on.

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