Tag Archives: Book Review

Book Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch (4/5)

10 May

This was for sure my pick for a buddy read. I loved Courch’s first book, Dark Matter. I was curious to see what else he had up his sleeve. My reading buddy was up for a bit of a thriller so this seemed like a good pick for us both. Man, did we speed through this one. I think we met twice in a week at one point because we were both so eager to keep reading.

Recursion

Cover image via Amazon

Recrusion by Blake Crouch

Other books by Crouch reviewed on this blog:

Dark Matter (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Amazon:

Reality is broken.
 
At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.
 
In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . . and the tools for fighting back.
 
Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.

Having not read the summary, I thought this was going to be about a contagious disease early on and I wondered what I’d stumbled into. Maybe the later half of a global pandemic wasn’t the best time for this? But the more we got into it and realized what FMS was and what was really going on, the more we were sucked in. The first half of the book is told from two view points, Helena and Barry. They’re not in the same place or in the same year but we quickly discovered how interlinked their stories would be. Crouch’s exploration of reality and what would realistically happen with new technology is really well done. I thought the reactions of many people were completely justified and Crouch’s ideas about the impact of a broken reality on the human psyche was great.

I adored Helena. She was so strong and brave and I respected her so much throughout this book. She was a great hero to be cheering for throughout. Her intelligence was forefront but usually understand which let her personality shine through. Barry seemed a little flat, but in a thriller I’m not usually looking for strong personalities in characters.

Helena was my favorite character. Her motivations, at least early on, were very noble and were always to help her mother. Her motivations changed to be for a greater good and she really expressed that when working for DARPA. She recognized ramifications and how what she was dealing with was so much larger than herself. She was a voice of reason and good when everything was going badly.

Barry was the most relatable character in the book. I’m sure most of us have something in our pasts that we wish we could fix or redo. Barry’s desires to have a different life were very understandable and I thought back to decisions in my own life that I might like a ‘do-over’ for.

Crouch

Blake Crouch Image via Goodreads

These next two paragraphs are going to be some major spoilers so please skip down to avoid them. I adored the time Helena spent working with DARPA. I thought it was really great how she fought to use the chair for good. She was backed against a wall but found the best way to make use of her position. Fighting to let major atrocities happen, pushing not to let large passages of time occur, these things made a difference. I was so sad when the project got hijacked by the military. It really seemed to ruin everything.

The ending was a bit anti-climactic for me. Slade telling Barry that Helena had found a way to travel to dead memories once and then Barry instantly figuring it out was a little too convenient. It was hard to believe that in 200 years, Helena had never tried visiting a dead memory again. Especially since she could jump back an hour and ‘fix’ the problem the same way Slide did with Reed on the oil rig. Such a simple solution to a very complex problem made the ending seem cheap.

Humans are starting to experience reality in different ways because of technology. We’ve developed virtual reality, online worlds that can fulfill social needs and desires. The idea that we may someday master time enough to change that aspect of our reality is jarring but not entirely out of the question. If we did get to this technology, what would we do with it? Would it be weaponized like Helena and Barry experienced? Would it be used for good the way Helena tried to do with her mother’s memories? It’s a hard question to answer. Humans do seem to be inclined to selfishly using every advancement our world has made so as much as we’d love to say it would be the latter, the former seems likely.

Writer’s Takeaway: Crouch put his foot on the throttle and never let it go. The pace in this book was astounding and kept me guessing and turning pages well past my bed time. Thriller writers have an amazing capacity to pace a book and I feel like I’m getting schooled each time I read one.

A great, fast, read that made me think. Four out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts: 
Recrusion, by Blake Crouch | A Bookish Type 
RECRUSION – Blake Crouch | Weighing a Pig Doesn’t Fatten It 
Recursion: book plot and timelines explained | Starvind 
Review: Recursion by Blake Crouch | Creature from the Book Lagoon 
Review of HARDBACK edition of Recrusion by Blake Crouch | Brainfluff 

Book Review: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal (4/5)

6 May

My husband saw the title for this book on my book club calendar and had to laugh at me. I can’t blame him. Out of context, the title seems odd. But when I started reading this book, I realize that the stories are a small part while they’re also the focus of the novel. It’s not about the stories, but the writers and how they change. This book took me happily by surprise.

PunjabiErotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Summary from Amazon:

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a “creative writing” course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s “moral police.” But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

I did not expect there to be a mystery to this book and I loved it! That added a layer that was a complete surprise to me an allowed me to enjoy the book even more. What the book had to say about culture was really important, too. Nikki straddled her Punjabi roots and her London location better than some, but never seemed to completely fit in either location. Many times, it was comments from non-Punjabi’s who made her feel like she didn’t fit in and these microaggressions are so quick and might be forgettable to the errant speaker but are so painful to the victim. I thought Jaswal gave the reader a lot to think about with this book and I think I’ll seek her out for more in the future.

The characters rang true to me. I can’t comment too much about their authenticity since a lot of their identities circled around being part of a minority group that I’m not part of. However, I felt their humanity in their conversation and interactions. The community they had was wonderful and it made me hope that I can find such a community if I ever find myself a window.

Kulwinder ended up being my favorite character in the end. I think she may have been the most dynamic person in the book. The way her relationship with her husband heals was really great to see. I liked how she admitted that she misjudged Nikki and worked to right that mistake. She was brave in the way she stood up to her male coworkers and fought for woman’s classes. She didn’t seem to realize how much she’d influenced Maya with her ideas.

Nikki was really relatable as a daughter. There are times I’m afraid I’m disappointing my parents or have disappointed them in the past and I felt the same guilt that Nikki shared. I think most children feel this. Mine has never been to the same degree as what Nikki shouldered with her father’s death, but I think Jaswal gave a lot of different examples of ways that Nikki felt she could or should have done something different for her parents.

Jaswal

Balli Kaur Jaswal Image via the author’s Facebook page

I liked how Jaswal revealed Maya’s death. In some communities, there are things people just don’t talk about and it felt real that this community wouldn’t talk about Maya’s death. I liked how it kept coming up and we slowly learned more about her and her life with Jaggy and what she was like. It gave her a lot of layers and the more we got, the more obvious it was that something was wrong in what we’d learned early on. I won’t give any more away here, but it was very well paced.

I thought Nikki’s romance with Jason seemed forced. I don’t think she needed a romance to feel completed in this story so I was a little upset that it was added in. I think Nikki’s growth would have been as meaningful and stark without Jason in the mix.

The audiobook was narrated by Meera Syal and I think she did a wonderful job of telling the story. She did a great variety of voices for the widows and Nikki (I wasn’t a huge fan of her Jason American voice, but I can get over that). With so many woman talking over each other at times, it was a big task and I think she carried it out well.

Nikki is very stuck between two cultures and this story is a great exploration of that. She begins by rejecting a lot of the elements of her parents culture and trying to completely embrace her location’s culture. By the end, she seems to have found a happy middle ground where her understanding of her parents culture has increased and she feels more comfortable and accepted. She gains a level of understanding with her mother and sister that she wasn’t going to find without this acceptance and it’s helped her repair a stressed relationship with her late father in the process.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book reminds me why stories by minority writers are so needed and should be celebrated. I don’t live in the UK and I knew nothing about the Southall minority population! My city has similar enclaves and I now want to see if there are books celebrating their cultures and amplify those amazing voices. I’m so glad Jaswal wrote about this group so their vibrance can be shared.

An enjoyable read that taught me a lot. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows: dazzling | A Hindu’s View 
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal | The Silver Pen 
Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows | Just One More Page 

Book Review: Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green (4/5)

22 Apr

I’d been meaning to read this book since it came out but never got around to it. When I was visiting bookshops in Atlanta, I found this Spanish copy and thought it was perfect. John Green is about my reading level in Spanish and I’d enjoyed translations of his work before. This is the last Spanish read on my shelf so it looks like I’m going to have to go looking for more soon.

Cover image via Amazon

Mil veces hasta siempre (Turtles All the Way Down) by John Green

Other books by Green reviewed on this blog:

Will Grayson, Will Grayson (with David Levithan)
Paper Towns
Looking for Alaska

Summary from Amazon:

Aza Holmes never intended to pursue the disappearance of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Pickett’s son Davis.

Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

There were parts of this book that I wasn’t expecting. I wasn’t expecting Aza’s illness to come into the story the way it did. From the summary, I thought the plot was going to focus on the Picketts more. I like that Green found a way to balance this. I also didn’t expect Daisy to play as big a role as she did. It seems like Green can have major-secondary characters and minor-secondary characters and I’d expected Daisy to land in the latter category at first. Again, I’m not angry at how it turned out, it was just different than I expected. I think a lot of these expectations came from reading the first two chapters and then putting the book on hold for a while. Both of these items become stronger later in the book and the first two chapters set my idea for the book before I was able to get into them.

A note about the translation: I haven’t read the English version but there weren’t a lot of times in this one where I could tell the translation had to be altered to deal with the language barrier. This happens a lot with colloquialisms or puns that don’t translate. However, the title is quite different. It roughly translates to ‘A thousand times until forever.’ I figured the turtle metaphor didn’t translate well, but when it came up in the book, it seemed fine to me. ‘Tortugas hasta el infinito’ or ‘turtles until infinity.’ I’m not sure why this wasn’t used for a title unless the selected title is a colloquialism or common phrase I’m not familiar with.

The portrayal of Aza was amazing. As someone who has anxiety from time to time, I related to the spiraling thoughts. I thought the way she talked about them and detailed her spirals were relatable and very real. I’ve spent sleepless nights Googling things and been disengaged from conversations because I can’t focus. I’ve never had it to a degree like Aza does but I could see how these things happen and how damaging they can be and how much they affected Aza. The scenes with her and her mother were the most difficult for me. I’ve tried to talk to my mother about how I feel as well and it’s hard to describe, the way Aza feels. As someone who’s about to become a mother, it’s heartbreaking to see a mother who can’t understand her child even as she tries very hard.

Davis was my favorite character. I liked how down-to-earth he was despite the immense privilege he came from. I think he always felt alone because he was very different from his peers due to the early loss he suffered. It felt real to me that he would reconnect with Aza so quickly because he felt she shared his background and very few others did. He was very understanding of Aza’s qualms about being intimate with him and I think it was a great demonstration of consent.

As I’ve said, I related to Aza and her spirals. I’ve had nights where I can’t sleep because of spiraling thoughts. It’s hard to articulate what that’s like and I think Green did a great job of illustrating how exhausting it can be and how much it can take over someone’s life.

John Green
Image via Twitter

Daisy’s story was one of my favorite parts of the book. I respected the work she did to earn enough money to pay for night school. And when she came into money, I respected her ultimate decision to save it and to help pay for her sister’s education, even if that’s not what she originally wanted. I thought it was really great to see a character who didn’t have a comfortable middle-class life and what that could look like. Most of Green’s characters before had been more well-off and Daisy was a great way to introduce someone who had some struggle.

Mixing in the disappearance case seemed like a bit of a stretch to me. Russell Pickett could have been in the book and very little would have changed. I think it muddled the message Green was trying to share and added parts to the plot that weren’t needed. It made me think the book was going in a completely different direction than where it ended up and I felt a little hoodwinked.

Aza has a hard time loving herself because of her illness and thus struggles to see how others could love her. She pushes her mother, Davis, and Daisy away when she’s in the hospital and doesn’t feel she’s worthy of forgiveness for what she’s done when all assure her she’s forgiven. It must be hard for someone battling with such a strong mental illness to find peace. I hope that Aza and people like her can find the help that they need like Aza did.

Writer’s Takeaway: Green found a way to write about a lot of diverse characters without making it seem forced or unnatural which I really liked. Davis seems to be the only one who doesn’t squarely fit in a minority, but he’s lost a mother and that’s affected him in ways that aren’t easy to define. When I write, it’s hard for me to imagine the lives of people who are really different from me and feel like I’m empowered to write about their lives so I really applaud him for bringing in so many diverse characters.

An enjoyable book but not a grand slam for me. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
Turtles All the Way Down: My Last John Green Review if Everything Goes According to Plan | Emma Reads
‘Turtles All the Way Down’ by John Green: Book Review | Blogging for Dopamine
Turtles All The Way Down by John Green | Book Review | An Introverted World
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green | VickywhoReads

Book Review: The Overstory by Richard Powers (2/5)

19 Apr

I’ll honestly say this is a book club book I was not looking forward to. Mostly because it was so long! 22 hours on audio is a lot of my life to dedicate and I was looking forward to other books that I had to put off. So going in with a negative mindset was probably not best for enjoying the story. But I had a lot of other issues which didn’t help.

Cover image via Amazon

The Overstory by Richard Powers

Summary from Amazon:

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of―and paean to―the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers’s twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours―vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

If I’d read this book as part of an Environmental Science class in college, I might have liked it. I wouldn’t have minded the preachy nature of it if it was part of a learning environment. As something in my free time, I would have preferred to read a long article with the same point rather than a 22-hour audio which started with amazing characters who ended up being flat so I could get facts about radical environmentalism. This didn’t work for me as a novel and it became difficult to enjoy it as one.

The characters Powers created were initially interesting and dynamic. At the beginning of the novel, we see them realize the roles trees have played in their lives and how they are so different but yet have a similar leaning. They don’t seem to continue to evolve over the rest of the book which was a disappointment. Powers is clearly skilled at creating rich characters, but the environmental message he was pushing took over the rest of the book and hijacked what could have been an engaging character study.

Patricia was my favorite character. I felt like her development, though not in the limelight, was most interesting in the book. I liked how she grew up with her father, developing a love for trees and how she questioned the science she was learning, doing research to debunk it. I was sad for her when she was dragged through the mud and felt her vindication later on. The way she looked at her life after she decided to live for the trees was inspiring. Her relationship with her work and her husband was really beautiful and I kept wanting good things for her. I think she could have been the focus of the story and I would have enjoyed it more.

The characters in this book were a little too extreme for me to relate to. At first, I thought Mimi might be relatable, but she pushed things farther than I would have. I thought maybe Olivia would remind me of myself but the more she talked about hearing other beings, the less I related to her. I wondered if Nick was going to be my guy and I think he was closest to a relatable character for me in the book. He seemed to take a bit of a backseat and fade into the background by the end, which was sad but most of the characters seemed to take a backseat to the trees by the end and I lost a lot of interest in the story by then.

Richard Powers
Image from The Guardian

The stories at the beginning of the book, introducing the characters, were my favorite part. The way the characters were developed was really engaging for me and I was curious to see how they would all come together in the end. When I realized some of them never would come together in a meaningful way, I was disappointed. I would have loved to see Dorothy and Ray interact with Dougie or Neelay.

The ending felt odd to me and it seemed like a lot of the characters didn’t get a meaningful ending. For many, it was abrupt while it wrapped up for others. It seemed incomplete and I wanted more than I got. After so much build-up, this was hugely disappointing.

The audiobook was narrated by Suzanne Toren and I felt she did an amazing job with the book. There were so many characters to keep track of and I thought she did a great job giving them distinct voices. Patricia and Douggie are particularly memorable. She helped me stay as engaged as I was for 22 hours.

The theme of this book was so blaring that it distracted from everything else. We, as humans, are killing the trees and poisoning the planet for temporary and financial gain. Readers were hit over the head with this time and time again. It almost felt insulting to think I hadn’t picked up not the author’s message and be reminded so often. This was ultimately what kept me from engaging with the characters. They were just there to push me to understand the message and I didn’t like being lectured.

Writer’s Takeaway: One of the biggest lessons I get from reading writing books is that you don’t want to make your readers feel like they’re being lectured or reading non-fiction when they’re reading fiction. Fiction can teach, but if that’s our goal, you should choose a different medium. I felt like Powers choice of a 22-hour book was the wrong medium for what he had to say. I lost interest early when I thought I was being lectured and I didn’t engage with the writing or characters after that.

This book lost me early and never got me back. Two out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
The Overstory, by Richard Powers | Bob’s Books
THE OVERSTORY, by Richard Powers | The Pointe-Claire Public Library Blog
“The Overstory” by Richard Powers | Book Nook Book Reviews
The Overstory by Richard Powers | Book Reviews
The Overstory (Powers) | BookReviewsbyCharles

Book Review: Expecting Better by Emily Oster (4/5)

6 Apr

When we found out I was pregnant, my husband very sweetly ordered me a copy of this book. He knows I’m an anxious person and didn’t want to get me a pregnancy book that detailed all the horrible things that could happen when you’re pregnant. Instead, he focused on a realistic, data-based information and that’s exactly what Oster delivers. It’s even better that she has a sense of humor about it.

Better

Cover image via Amazon

Expecting Better: Why the Conventional pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster

Summary from Amazon:

Pregnancy—unquestionably one of the most pro­found, meaningful experiences of adulthood—can reduce otherwise intelligent women to, well, babies. Pregnant women are told to avoid cold cuts, sushi, alcohol, and coffee without ever being told why these are forbidden. Rules for prenatal testing are similarly unexplained. Moms-to-be desperately want a resource that empowers them to make their own right choices.

When award-winning economist Emily Oster was a mom-to-be herself, she evaluated the data behind the accepted rules of pregnancy, and discovered that most are often misguided and some are just flat-out wrong. Debunking myths and explaining everything from the real effects of caffeine to the surprising dangers of gardening, Expecting Better is the book for every pregnant woman who wants to enjoy a healthy and relaxed pregnancy—and the occasional glass of wine.

This book was refreshing. It’s great to hear that a lot of the ‘rules’ of pregnancy, while founded, are a bit overdramatic. I’d been avoiding even a sip of beer and longing for a Jersey Mike’s sandwich for the past five months and it was refreshing to learn why I’d been told to avoid these things. Oster is a very intelligent woman (I get why she didn’t put Dr. on the cover, but PhD would have been founded!). Her knowledge of medical research and ability to read into it helped me make some decisions about how I’d behave during my pregnancy that I feel a lot more comfortable with. I check the mercury levels of a fish before I order it, but I also demand a sip of my husband’s wine while we’re visiting Michigan wine country.

Oster bases her book on her first pregnancy with her daughter. She takes you through the decisions she and her husband were faced with at each step and it was easy for me to follow along. I’m in my second trimester and had all the memories of conception and first trimester, while sharing her fears of third trimester and labor. She’s highly relatable and her audience can easily find themselves saying “Yes, exactly!” while reading. She portrayed herself in a favorable yet relatable light that was fun to read.

Oster

Emily Oster Image via the author’s website

I enjoyed her deep dive into food restrictions, which is something I’ve struggled with. I’ve reduced my caffeine intake, but there’s some nights that baby kicking keeps me up and I need that second cup of tea. I’m worried about hurting baby! But reading her research and understanding where limits are made me feel a lot better. The same goes for the occasional sip of wine (I’m writing this from the hotel of my Babymoon in Michigan wine country) though I avoid a whole glass as Oster prefers. Undercooked eggs are a favorite of mine (over easy is the BEST) so understanding the risks of having an over easy egg were great, rather than avoiding them completely. I feel good about having one now that I’m in my second trimester, though I probably would have avoided it earlier on in pregnancy!

The section on weight gain was difficult for me to read. I’ve always been hard on myself about my weight and I ditched scales completely about four years ago because they were creating an unhealthy obsession. I’ve finally gotten to a good place and have felt good about my weight and body image. Then came pregnancy where I’m weighed all the time and people have judgements to make about how much weight I’ve gained. It’s very stressful for me and Oster’s section increased that stress level. I’m not looking forward to my doctor’s opinions on my weight gain or lack there of. I eat when I’m hungry and I can tell when Baby started to need more food so I feed them. I’m staying as active as I can and have been eating healthy. If that’s not enough, so be it. I liked the conclusion Oster eventually came to, but the process stressed me out!

Oster wanted to take control of her pregnancy and I really enjoyed hearing about how she did that. I think the ‘rules’ she researched were ones that a lot of woman accept without question and I was glad to learn the reasons why. Some of them are blanketly applied unnecessarily and it was helpful to understand why these rules exited and how they would apply specifically to me and my pregnancy.

Writer’s Takeaway: Using her personal experience made this book very relatable. If Oster had not used anecdotal experience or followed her own questions and decisions about pregnancy, it would have come off as a cold list of facts about pregnancy myths instead of an intimate story that read like a memoir at times. She connected well with her audience.

This was a great book to read during pregnancy and helped me understand the wisdom and folly of pregnancy rules that I should follow. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts: 
Emily Oster’s new book “Expecting Better” challenged by FASD experts | CanFASD 
Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong- and What You Really Need to Know | Ready Mommy’s Book Reviews 
Expecting Better- By Emily Oster | Rambling Writer 
Expecting Better | MeReader 

Book Review: The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (5/5)

29 Mar

I’m not sure how my reading buddy and I are so consistently lucky to find amazing books. We found a real gem with this one. I shouldn’t be so surprised with the press this one has gathered and that it was the top seller of 2020 at my local bookstore. What an engrossing read.

Half

Cover image via Amazon

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Summary from Amazon:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

The characters Bennett created in this one are really remarkable and made me fall in love with the book early. It’s tough to decide how you feel about Desiree or Jude from the beginning, but I loved Early almost immediately. Then you learn about Jude as an adult and her amazing relationship with Reece and by then, I was head over heels with these people. I’m never sure how I feel about Stella and Desiree but the supporting characters were easy enough to love that you wanted to keep reading about everyone. The story became a lot less about Desiree by the end and I didn’t even mind.

The characters in this book felt very real to me. Especially Desiree and Jude. I felt that the struggles they had were very grounded in the reality I’m familiar with. The things Reece and Stella went through were a little more niche but the story was told in such a way that you cared and sympathized with them. I thought it was really incredible what Bennett was able to do with this story and a situation that seems so otherworldly at times. I really applaud her storytelling skills.

Reece ended up being my favorite character. He was so loving and devoted to Jude that it broke my heart. I think his struggle to love himself was one of the best arcs of the novel and I loved how he let Jude in and let her help him in the end. I was always rooting for them and when I thought things weren’t going to work out, I was devastated. I think Reece was a great character to parallel Stella and talk about a chosen identity in another way that worked well.

I found myself relating best to Jude. Maybe it’s because I feel like I knew Kennedy growing up, or because I went off to college on my own or because she was a determined woman. She was a great character and I liked her arc of finding a place she fit in and learning to love who she is no matter what others think of her skin. Her relationship with Barry was great and I think a big part of how she came to be as confident as she was.

Bennett

Brit Bennett Image via Wikipedia

Jude’s time in California was my favorite. I liked how she developed relationships with Reece and Barry while she was in school. How hard she worked to balance school, track, and job was amazing and I respected her so much and fully believed she’d crush med school with that work ethic.

Stella’s story was a bit hard to read at times. You want to feel bad for her because she’s clearly depressed, but something held me back from sympathizing with her. I think it was because I felt like she abandoned her family and I didn’t understand how a person could do that. I also didn’t understand how she could bite her tongue and lie to Kennedy the way she did. It started to upset me by the end.

So much of Stella and Desiree’s lives hinged on how they were perceived. This started to branch out to the people around them. Jude was viewed unfavorably by her classmates because her skin was dark. Kennedy and Reece struggled with how they saw themselves and it affected relationships they had for much of their lives. There were a lot of parallels in this book. Most obvious was Stella and Desiree but Reece and Stella were very similar. Early and Jude had a lot in common as well.

Writer’s Takeaway: Bennett didn’t hesitate to write about things that can be hard to talk about. She wrote about race, gender identity, and abuse without holding back. As a white woman, this book helped me empathize and realize the choices some people make to change how I perceive them and how influential that can be. I think hearing more stores from people who have different experiences than me helps me realize what can and should change in our world.

This book really took me for a ride and I enjoyed it a lot. Five out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett | The Geeky Bibliophile
The Vanishing Half, by Brit Bennett | A Bookish Type
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett | Of Books and Reading

Book Review: Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson (3/5)

16 Mar

After having so much success with Writing Fiction for Dummies, I wanted to see what other knowledge I could flush out of the series and kept this Dummies book on my radar. I’m glad I did because there was some good insight here into how the YA market is different. Halverson also focuses on some other parts of the life of a writer that Ingermanson and Economy didn’t touch upon which I found helpful.

Cover image via Amazon

Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies by Deborah Halverson

Summary from Amazon:

With young adult book sales rising, and bestselling authors like J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer exploding onto the scene, aspiring YA writers are more numerous than ever. Are you interested in writing a young adult novel, but aren’t sure how to fit the style that appeals to young readers?

Writing Young Adult Fiction For Dummies gives you tricks of the trade and proven tips on all the steps to write a YA book, from developing an idea to publication.

  • Unique writing exercises to help you find your own authentic teen voice
  • Tips to avoid when submitting manuscripts
  • How to break into the flourishing young adult market

With the help of this step-by-step guide, you’ll have all the skills to write an inspiring and marketable young adult novel.

Some of this book was great and really helpful while others seemed to be a bit too much of a personal experience to be really helpful. Halverson’s opening chapters about finding motivation and time to write were very generic. I would have appreciated them more if this had been my first book on writing and not my third. I was really looking for YA-specific advice and this wasn’t filling that need. When she started talking about MG and YA differences and how to get past a gatekeeper, I was intrigued. Halverson gives a lot of solid advice about the submission process as well which I don’t remember other books giving as much detail about and I appreciated that.

Deborah Halverson
Image via LinkedIn

Halverson had some good advice about things to add or exclude from a YA novel to help not only appeal to young adults but to be a book that adults will want young adults to read. I don’t remember hearing a lot of advice with this bend before and I liked it. For example, don’t avoid romance but don’t include anything sexually graphic. While teens might be intrigued, no librarian is going to hand a fifteen-year-old a book with that content. She breaks down the YA market into understandable age groups as well and will talk about when different topics are more or less appropriate.

Halverson’s advice on the process of writing seemed very vague and personal at the same time. She had descriptions of what worked for her and how she finished her novels. However, she was also somewhat vague about the process of outlining, how to do revisions and character motivations. I might be making unfair comparisons because Ingermanson and Economy did this so well that anything else was doomed to feel like it fell short.

Halverson is a professional writer and her advice is for those looking to make writing a full-time job. I’m not sure that’s for me, but she does give some good time management and work-life balance advice. I think one of my latent fears of publishing is that I won’t have time to do it justice. But that seems like a fear to realize a long way off, not something to stop me from trying.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book has inspired me to start some revisions for my WIP and I’m excited to share that I have started another round of revisions. Many readers have said that my male protagonist was strong but the female needed a bit better motivation at the beginning. Let’s see what motivation and advice from Halverson can do to get me pushing forward.

A helpful book, but some parts were more helpful than others. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
Author Spotlight: Deborah Halverson | Writing on the Sidewalk
Writing Young Adult Fiction by Deborah Halverson | Samantha Clark
Young Love | Joseph’s Reviews

Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

2 Mar

I didn’t know how much I was going to enjoy this story until I was already engrossed in it. I visited Belfast in 2018, mostly to see the Titanic Museum. I didn’t know much about The Troubles. I knew about the IRA only from the parallels drawn between it and ETA, which I did my undergraduate thesis on. This research gave me the perspective that the IRA is a terrorist organization. But this book rarely uses that word. It’s more often referred to as a paramilitary group. I think that different perspective is what made this book so fascinating to me.

Cover via Amazon

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe

Summary from Amazon:

In December 1972, Jean McConville, a thirty-eight-year-old mother of ten, was dragged from her Belfast home by masked intruders, her children clinging to her legs. They never saw her again. Her abduction was one of the most notorious episodes of the vicious conflict known as The Troubles. Everyone in the neighborhood knew the I.R.A. was responsible. But in a climate of fear and paranoia, no one would speak of it. In 2003, five years after an accord brought an uneasy peace to Northern Ireland, a set of human bones was discovered on a beach. McConville’s children knew it was their mother when they were told a blue safety pin was attached to the dress–with so many kids, she had always kept it handy for diapers or ripped clothes.

Patrick Radden Keefe’s mesmerizing book on the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland and its aftermath uses the McConville case as a starting point for the tale of a society wracked by a violent guerrilla war, a war whose consequences have never been reckoned with. The brutal violence seared not only people like the McConville children, but also I.R.A. members embittered by a peace that fell far short of the goal of a united Ireland, and left them wondering whether the killings they committed were not justified acts of war, but simple murders. From radical and impetuous I.R.A. terrorists such as Dolours Price, who, when she was barely out of her teens, was already planting bombs in London and targeting informers for execution, to the ferocious I.R.A. mastermind known as The Dark, to the spy games and dirty schemes of the British Army, to Gerry Adams, who negotiated the peace but betrayed his hardcore comrades by denying his I.R.A. past–Say Nothing conjures a world of passion, betrayal, vengeance, and anguish.

Some of this was so crazy that you wanted it to be fiction instead of a bitter true history. The murders and deaths were terrible and hearing about the dangers of daily life in Belfast during this time made me wonder why my mother didn’t stop me from visiting because of old headline fears. This book took decades worth of headlines and developments and told a story. While it starts and ends with Jean McConville, the story seems to spend a lot of time with Dolours Price. Price’s story is an extreme example of the IRA’s brutality but it highlighted much of the organization’s history without bringing in too many other people. I found it fascinating to hear about an armed struggle from the side I’d always been told was the enemy. I won’t say this changed my opinion of the IRA; more that it helped me understand why someone would be drawn to the other side.

Keefe did an amazing amount of research for this and it showed. Most of the major players in the story are now dead and his stories of and about them come from news articles and interviews that he poured over for years. Dolours and Brendan Hughes seemed more well rounded in the book than Dolours’s sister Marian or Gerry Adams. I wasn’t surprised to hear that the later are still alive.

I had a love/hate relationship with Price through the book. She had ideals I could never sympathize with and she went to lengths I would never consider. But I had to admire her determination. I think, directed in a different direction, she could have been famous for very different reasons. It’s a result of location that she turned into a bomber and criminal. I think she could have done great things if she’d directed her attentions and focus in other directions.

I think I was so intrigued by the people in this book because their lives were so different from mine. I’ve not had to deal with religious oppression, the driving force behind the IRA, or another form of surpression or opression that would have driven me to take a path similar to the IRA members highlighted in this book. I’ve never suffered political violence like the McConville family. It’s hard for me to fathom what it would have been like to be in their shoes. I think this is part of why I wish I knew this story better before visiting Belfast. I would have wanted to learn more about it and get a different feeling for a place that could give birth to the IRA.

Patrick Radden Keefe
Image via the author’s website

There were two parts of the story I found most interesting. The first was the 1970s, the hight of Dolours’s involvement in the IRA and a large part of the book. The activities undertaken and efforts of the group to gain political power were fascinating. The second was the Belfast Project. It’s amazing that the Boston College historians were able to get the interviews they did. I’m fascinated by the lack of legal protections the project provided and I’m a bit disappointed that the noble goal of the project fell apart so quickly. I’m interested to see who else did interviews and hope that as time passes, more information can come out of the project to provide peace of mind and closure to remaining victims.

For a long time, it didn’t seem like the stories in the book would come together. There was a long stretch in the middle when McConville wasn’t mentioned at all. It seemed like almost an afterthought to have added her kidnapping at the beginning and I wondered repeatedly how it would ever come together in the end. I was frustrated in the middle, waiting and waiting for things to be relevant again. While they eventually were, this was my only frustration with the book.

The audiobook was narrated by Matthew Blaney and the voice in my head took on his accent for hours after listening. I’m glad they got an Irish narrator for this book. It seemed a little out of place at the very end when Keefe mentions that he’s American born, but I think the book woul have lost a lot of it’s impact if the narrator had been American as well. Keefe’s Irish roots were what drew him to this story so it seems appropriate to have an Irish narrator.

It’s the memory of the IRA and what it did that stays with this book throughout. Dolours is warned once against speaking about what happened to McConville because she has children. It’s the McConville children who eventually identify their mother. The things that happened in the 70s still have strong impacts today. This is worth remembering for all major decisions made by a generation.

Writer’s Takeaway: Nonfiction is a fight I’m not sure I could win. The amount of research that’s evident in Keefe’s writing is amazing. It’s clear he poured over many primary sources, articles, and secondary histories that helped him weave this story. His ability to jump from person to person to tell a full story made this a joy to read and gave the reader a great perspective of the IRA as a whole and how it changed and eveolved. My hat is off to Keefe. I don’t think I would ever try to duplicate his amazing efforts.

This book was fascinating and a joy to read. A full Five out of Five Stars.

I’ve decided to give this book the 1980-1999 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge. It’s debatable, but it feels appropriate.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts: 
Patrick Radden Keefe, “Say Nothing” | Don’t Need a Diagram 
Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe | Karissa Reads Books 
Book Review: Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe | What Kaitlyn Thinks 
Say Nothing: The True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe | Disco Demolition Night 

Book Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (4/5)

9 Feb

I read this book too slowly. I started the audiobook later than I intended to in order to meet an end-of-year challenge deadline and I missed being anywhere close to finishing it by my book club meeting. With no pressure to finish it, I slowed down even more and took almost a month longer than the meeting before I finished it. It’s not that the book was bad, but it was long. And without commutes, running, or much of anything going on, audiobooks are not a fast medium for me.

Cover image via Amazon

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Summary from Amazon:

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.

Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion—for each other and for their homeland. 

In the end, I was left a bit confused by this book. On one hand, it’s about race in America and Ifemelu’s observations of race and reflections on how it affects people. On the other hand, it’s a love story about two people living in Nigeria, where they clearly say race is not a factor. While these are both good stories, they’re not very well related, yet they live together in this book. I liked both stories, I enjoyed the insights about love and race, but it felt disconnected to me which took away from my overall enjoyment.

Ifemelu and Obinze were amazing characters and I loved them both. I felt like Ifemelu was more the main character and her story was a lot stronger. Her life in America, the life she formed for herself and the way she observed American culture was great. I laughed a lot at her blog posts, both her tone and her bold observations. I liked the ways she navigated America and I felt the hardships she faced were very real and I understood why she felt the way she did about my culture.

Obinze surprised me the most. I was a bit surprised when he decided to move to the UK. I would have understood better if he’d gone for school, but going to work seemed weird to me. If he had a job lined up, something that was going to pay well, that was one thing. But going to work whatever job he could, it seemed he would have been better off in Nigeria. I was a bit surprised by his sudden success because the lifestyle it afforded him seemed out of line with the character we’d learned up until that point. It was clear he wasn’t chasing that life, but I didn’t expect him to be so comfortable in it.

I didn’t relate to a character, but I related to the America Ifemelu described. I saw my city and my school and even myself in her observations. I realized things that I had accepted as ‘standard’ that need to be challenged. I realized how funny certain ‘normal’ things might seem to someone on the outside. I learned to laugh at myself and get why I need to open my eyes and realize that what I consider OK might need to change.

Ifemelu’s blog posts were my favorite part of the story. I think the men she dated in America made it easier for her to make some of the observations she did and that might have helped her write it (and been a bit convenient for the writer). Curt’s wealth got her into parts of society most people can’t even imagine. It also showcased white privilege and prejudices as old as America. Her relationship with Blane let her give a commentary on the Black American experience and contrasted with her time with Curt. I would have liked if she had some more friends to help create these dichotomies but the resulting observations were wonderful anyway.

The end of the book wasn’t great for me (spoilers ahead). I was happy when she and Obinze got back together, but I was reserved about it as well. I didn’t like that he was married and how she accepted this at first, being okay with her role as a mistress. I didn’t like how she would ignore the truth. She had come really far in her self-realization journey and this seemed like a major step back. And I found it hard to believe she was going to be comfortable with their arrangement long term. It seemed like a sudden ending no one was going to be happy living with.

The audiobook was narrated by Adjoa Andoh who did an amazing job. I wasn’t a huge fan of some of her American accents, which came off as a bit nasal, but I could ignore it for the beautiful voices she gave all the other characters. Her voices helped me keep the cast of characters separate and enjoy the story being told to me. I’d listen to another book read by her in a heartbeat.

Race was clearly the main theme of this book, even if it didn’t fit well with the overall plot of Ifemelu and Obinze. The observations Ifemelu makes about race and racial relations in America take over the book and the long period of time she spends in America, becoming the titular Americanah, dominates the length of the book. Dike’s story really highlights the experiences she talks about. His experience is more similar to an American-born Black because of his appearance and he is subjected to prejudice and injustice throughout his childhood. Yet at home, his mother holds different ideas of identity and sees him and herself as different from American-born Blacks. His first-generation immigrant experience isn’t like those who have different external appearances because his is tinged by racial assumptions. He was a great character in this book to help highlight this experience.

Writer’s Takeaway: Adichie is known to be outspoken about feminism and race. Using a novel to share this was a great medium, though it seemed a bit heavy-handed at times. Ifemelu’s story in America was great on its own and Ifemelu and Obinze’s love story was great on its own. Combining them was a bit too much for me and I think contributed to the length of this book and a bit of a rushed ending. Maybe this would have been better as two books.

An enjoyable read though a bit too much for one title. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 2000-Present time period of the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

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Book Review: Octavia Butler’s Kindred adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings (3/5)

2 Feb

This was my first foray into the graphic novel. My reading buddy and I had decided to read Kindred and the graphic novel and paperback were comparable prices at our bookstore so we decided to try something new with a graphic novel. I’m not sure I’d recommend the format for a discussion the way we do (virtual at least 4 times during the story). It would be better for a solo read.

Cover image via Amazon

Octavia Butler’s Kindred adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings

Summary from Amazon:

Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.

This story was very moving and really powerful. I’ve read stories about American slavery before and most of the ones I remember were told from the slaveholder’s point of view. Having a Black character tell the story was much more powerful. Dana was great for telling this story because she made it easier to compare the treatment of Blacks in the 1970s to slaves in the 1800s. She lived in both worlds and learned how to survive. Having a white partner made it an even more stark contrast and I liked how Butler included Kevin for this. The images in the book were really striking. My reading buddy and I liked the color selections, where the 1970s was monochromatic while the 1800s was in full color and much more vivid.

I thought a lot of the characters were good reflections of their time. Dana and Kevin were progressive, even for their era, but didn’t come off as unrealistic. I think the ways they acted in the 1800s were believable, too. They had to learn to temper their gut reactions to things to realize what life was like on a plantation. I think Rufus and the people who lived on the plantation were credible characters for their time as well. Sarah was the one I felt for the most. She’d really suffered at the hands of the Weilyns and her protective feelings over Carrie were understandable and realistic. She was a really strong woman.

Dana was my favorite character and it made reading her story more enjoyable. She was smart and very resourceful. I was scared for her when she would travel but I knew she was smart enough to survive whatever was coming her way. Watching her adapt was terrifying and inspiring at the same time.

There wasn’t really a character I related to in this story and it didn’t prevent me from enjoying it. What’s enjoyable about this story is that the characters are in a situation that is impossible to imagine. Time travel’s unreality makes it fascinating to see what would happen if the impossible were possible and think what would happen to people in those crazy situations.

Damian Duffy and John Jennings
Image via the University of Illinois

[Small spoiler ahead.] Dana’s travel back to find Kevin was my favorite. On top of the story with Rufus, I was anxious about the two of them being reunited. It added a level of suspense on top of the mystery and horror of her situation that I thought made for a really compelling section of the story.

[Bigger spoiler alert ahead.] The ending of the book was a bit too rushed for my liking. After Dana returns from her last trip, things wrapped up almost too quickly. She seemed to move on from a very traumatizing situation very quickly and Kevin was supportive but I got a feeling he was also telling her to move on. We know that Alice is a relative because of a family bible but now she can’t find anything about her relatives. Their names are in the Bible so I felt that would have been the perfect place to start. I turned the last page expecting more and was a bit disappointed.

The illustrations were well done and helped me visualize the story well. The scenes of violence and abuse I found particularly moving and hard to look at because of their impact. I liked Dana’s depiction a lot and felt the way she was dressed was a great contrast to the 1800s which kept her from blending in and kept the focus on her.

It’s hard to comment on the adaptation without having read the original novel. A part of me still wants to read it (or listen to the audiobook). I know adaptations usually have to take out a lot of the story and I wonder how much I missed by reading the adaptation. I also wonder how much richer my idea of the Weylin plantation is because of the images.

Butler’s story brings the atrocities of slavery into a modern perspective. Instead of a historical fiction story where all characters have a mindset of the time, Kevin and Dana bring a more relatable perspective to the time and give opinions similar to those of the modern reader. Having a Black main character highlights those differences when Dana can compare the way she’s treated at work and by her husband with the way she’s treated the second she arrives in the 1800s. This story is powerful. The graphic novel adaptation really highlights the experience Dana is having. You can’t forget the bruises and scars she has when they’re in every frame.

Writer’s Takeaway: The profile of Butler in the book highlights that she wrote this book because she couldn’t find a science fiction book with a Black female main character. She wanted to be able to see herself in the main character. This is so reflective of the push now to have minority voices published more often. Butler took her own life experiences and poured them into a story that gives a powerful look at a time period that’s often written about. This also encourages me to continue to ‘write what I know.’ Butler’s familiarity with Dana shows and makes her very powerful.

An enjoyable story that I feel suffered slightly from being adapted. I’m not sure graphic novels are a format for me. Three out of Five Stars.

This book fulfilled the 1800-1899 time period for the 2021 When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

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

Related Posts:
Octavia Butler’s Kindred, adapted by Damian Duffy and John Jennings | Intellectus Speculativus
Graphic Novel Review: Kindred | The Bookish Kirra
Kindred: A Graphic Novel | Great Stories Club, Book Discussion
Review: Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation | This Weblog is Unique. Just Like They All Are
Kindred the Graphic Novel: A Review | Nerds Color