Tag Archives: Claire Vaye Watkins

WWW Wednesday, 11-October-2017

11 Oct

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

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The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I started reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison last week. It seems to be going fast because my ereader already says I’m 10% of the way through it after only two lunch readings. I’m thinking this one will move very quickly.
I started Rules of Civility by Amor Towles and I’m very engaged so far. I know it’s set in the 30s but it has a very 20s feel of it to me so far. We’ll see how this goes!
I started Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks on audiobook very recently. It’s still a bit too early for me to make a call on it so stay tuned!

Recently finishedI made great progress to finish Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. I’m glad I read this one and sorry it took me so long to get to it! It was a better version of Edan Lepucki’s California and I’m glad I found it. My review went up Monday so please go take a look.
I was able to wrap up The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory as well. I can’t say this was my favorite of Gregory’s books, but I still liked it. This was a little heavy on the history and didn’t seem to have much drama to it. I like when Gregory invents scandals (or embellishes the ones that are already there) and romances. This one seemed too teemed in history. A review went up yesterday so you can see my complete set of comments there.

Reading Next: No plan now as I just started three books! I’ll see how these progress before I decide on the next one to pick up.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

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Book Review: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins (4/5)

9 Oct

I met Watkins over a year ago when I went to the Midwest Literary Walk and heard her speak. The book sounded interesting, like a better form of California, and I bought a copy. Unfortunately, it took me so long to get to it but I’m glad I finally did.

Cover image via Goodreads

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins

Summary from Goodreads:

In a parched southern California of the near future, Luz, once the poster child for the country’s conservation movement, and Ray, an army deserter turned surfer, are squatting in a starlet’s abandoned mansion. Most “Mojavs,” prevented by armed vigilantes from freely crossing borders to lusher regions, have allowed themselves to be evacuated to encampments in the east. Holdouts like Ray and Luz subsist on rationed cola and water, and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise.

For the moment, the couple’s fragile love, which somehow blooms in this arid place, seems enough. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, the thirst for a better future begins.

I was pretty spot on by thinking this would be a better version of California. It was similar at the beginning, talking about a futuristic American West that descended into chaos due to an environmental crisis. I thought this book had more to it. The introduction of a child, Ig, into Ray and Luz’s lives was a great addition. I liked the bit of background we got about these two and their path forward in life. I thought it was interesting that the plot shifted to the Amargosa but Levi and his cult of followers were really interesting and it got into Watkins’ life a bit as well. Her father was a member of Charles Manson’s Family but eventually testified against Manson and left the group. I found it interesting that Watkins would choose to talk about this topic in her book but she made it seem very natural for Luz to join the group and I wondered if this was a way for her to explore what could bring her late father into such a group.

My inscription from Watkins.

I found Ray and Luz very realistic. When there’s not much to do, you either make things to do or lay around. When you think someone is being mistreated, you either act or do nothing. When you think someone is dead, you let go or hold on. They were opposites of each other in all of these ways yet they continued to come together and be good for each other. I thought it was very real to have them still so attracted to each other.

Ray was my favorite of the two. He was more like myself in the ways he reacted to the situations he found himself in. He was resourceful and determined and I admired his loyalty more than anything else. He’s the kind of guy I would want to have with me if I was living in a water-deprived world like Luz found herself.

There wasn’t much in this book that I could relate to. The conditions they lived in were very harsh and the decisions they had to make were very removed from the reality of the modern world I live in. Though, being unrelatable didn’t make me like this book any less. It was very escapist and a fun story.

Me and Claire Vaye Watkins

The end of the book with Levi was most interesting to me. I never would have expected the book to take a turn toward cults when I started it. Having Ray convincing Luz that she was being manipulated was hard to read about but I was rooting for Ray the whole time. Knowing what I did about Watkins’ family, I found it even more engaging and wondered how much was drawn from her father’s story.

I was bothered by Ray and Luz taking Ig at first. I was mad to think they could just take a child, even if that child seemed to be mistreated and not cared for properly. I wondered if she was being cared for by a reckless older brother for the day when there was a proper, caring mother waiting for her girl to return home. I never stopped thinking that and at the end, I wondered if Ig was better off having been taken or not.

 

Survival was a key theme in this book. There were many things the characters did to survive and they had to give up parts of themselves and their identities to survive. Ray gave up his driver’s license and his ties to the military. Luz gave up her comforts and Ig. It’s up to the reader to decide if it was worth it. I’m inclined to say some of it was, but other parts were not worth losing.

Writer’s Takeaway: Watkins created a terrifying future because it’s so easy to see something like this happening. Climate change has started to affect our world in startling ways. If not checked, could we see a growing desert in the southwest that slowly moves to overtake other parts of the country? Would animals really evolve to survive so quickly? Speculative fiction is so scary because it’s so eerily similar to our world and we can see it coming to pass. I feel Watkins did a great job of moving our world to a terrifyingly realistic crisis.

A fun read though I thought the plot was just a bit wandering. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills the ‘Future’ time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts:
“This isn’t any ordinary debut novel” – Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins | Bookmunch
Review: Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins | wildeonmyside
Claire Vaye Watkins’ Gold Fame Citrus | Reviews from Pages Books on Kensington
Review of “Gold Fame Citrus” by Claire Vaye Watkins | Rhapsody in Books

WWW Wednesday, 4-October-2017

4 Oct

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

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The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: I’m still making good progress with Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. If I wasn’t in school, I’d likely plow through this one a lot faster but as it is right now, I don’t leave a lot of time to read before bed at night because I’m so exhausted! I’ll keep on trucking through this one.
I took some time out from The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory to finish another book (see below). I’m back on this one now and I think I’ll have it finished up by next week! And yes, I’m only reading two books right now. Do you even believe me?

Recently finished: I lost my ebook hold on Armada by Ernest Cline but I was able to find it as an audiobook and I finished it up! I was so excited about this. I had a long run and a long car drive on Saturday and I had only twelve minutes left when I got home. Pretty perfect. I wrote a review which was posted yesterday. Please go check it out! I heard this one was sold as a movie already but no definitive timeline for when it will come out. I wonder if Ready Player One doing well as a movie will help this move forward.

Reading Next: I’ll still get to Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks as an audiobook, no change there.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles is sitting next to my bed, waiting for me to pick it up.
I haven’t started a new ebook since I finished Armada. I think it’s going to be The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. I won this in a giveaway ages ago and never had a chance to pick it up


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 27-September-2017

27 Sep

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

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The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Armada by Ernest Cline is still really fun. It’s an ebook I’m going through quickly which means I’m making time to read it. Yay!
I’ve made good progress with Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. I’m ready every night before bed but I’m not going to take this one out of the house because it’s autographed, haha. I’ll probably need another 2-3 weeks to knock it out.
I made good progress on The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory this week. My running is up a lot as I prepare for the Detroit International Half Marathon next month. I had a record week for miles which means a record week for listening time, too! This is a long one, but I think I’ll get through it fast.

Recently finished: Nothing this week, unfortunately. After two last week, it’s not a surprise to me. I did post my review of Still Life by Louise Penny last Thursday. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars. Please let me know your thoughts!

Reading Next: I plan on Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks being my next audiobook as soon as I finish with Gregory. It’s fun to knock out these last historical fiction books for my reading challenge!
My book club met this week and gave me my next physical read, Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. Even more historical fiction! This is going to be fun.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 20-September-2017

20 Sep

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

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Currently reading: Armada by Ernest Cline is going really fast for me. I’m making time to read it a lot because I enjoy it so much. It seems a bit like Ender’s Game mixed with War Games so far. I hope he makes something else happen so it will stand out more.
I decided to go another direction with my next book and I started reading Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. It’s a book I own that’s autographed, which means I don’t like to take it out of the house unless I absolutely have to. I think I’m going to be home mostly in the next few weeks so that won’t be an issue. Plus side, it’s set in the future! Yay for finding books to finish up my challenge.
I did start The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory though on audio instead of a physical book. I’m still too early to really give an opinion on it but my long runs are sure to get me through it fast!

Recently finishedI was able to finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson last week and got my post up on Monday! It feels good to finish a book and even better when I didn’t like the book and I’m finally through with it. I gave the book 2 out of 5 Stars.
I was able to finish Still Life by Louise Penny sooner than expected. I guess my long runs are paying off! I’ll have a post up about it tomorrow. In summary, I enjoyed this a lot more as it went on. It started off a little slow for me but the twists and turns had me itching to figure out the killer before the end! This will be a very different discussion for my book club, I wonder what kind of questions we can ask about a mystery compared to some more traditional literature.

My review for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz went up last Thursday. I really enjoyed this book. Please go check out my review. I know a number of you had read it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Oscar.

Reading Next: With how early on I am in my books, I haven’t really thought this through yet. I do need to read Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks. This will hit my final time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge and I’ll be done! That’s likely to come next on audio. We’ll see about other formats.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Midwest Literary Walk in Chelsea, Michigan

10 May

If you’re a book nerd like me and not friends with a local librarian, I HIGHLY recommend it. They’re always in the know about the coolest bookish events around. My good friend Amy told me about the Midwest Literary Walk in Chelsea, Michigan and we trudged the hour out there to see the five authors who came to the event.

Sorrentino is on the right.

Sorrentino is on the right.

The first two speakers were based out of the Chelsea Depot, the old train station which made a perfect venue. The first speaker was Christopher Sorrentino, a contemporary fiction writer. He spoke about his latest book, The Fugitives. The book is set in the fictional Cherry City, which many Michiganders identified as Traverse City, Michigan (TRAV-erse, not tra-VERSE). He said that all of his characters are liars and they’re all running away from something. That must make for some fun writing to be sure! The book is different from the normal character-driven plots he writes because there is a thriller/heist element to the book. He still think’s it’s a character study, but with a lot more plot than he usually bestows on a book. He put a part of himself in each character and I think all writers can agree they do that to an extent. Sorrentino spoke about how draining it is to write a book. This book took him five years and the one before took four. He was asked about how the book was received and despite the good reviews he’s received, he wasn’t able to forget about one bad review in the New York Times written by a review he knew personally. I guess even the seasoned pros get stuck on some bad comments.

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Me and Watkins.

The second speaker was Claire Vaye Watkins. Amy had read her short story collection and really liked it so I decided I was going to buy her book (which I did, thanks to Literati Bookstore being on site!). He novel is called Gold Fame Citrus and I’m really excited to read it. She told us it’s classified as ‘cli-fi,’ climate fiction which she only heard of after publishing. Watkins has never worried about genre or form and writes whatever she wants. Her earlier books were praised for being fearless and bold but she feels that since she had a child, she’s become a bit more feminine. She writes in the mornings, after dropping her child with a sitter and writes for 2-3 hours, cranking out between 1,000 and 5,000 words. She said that she lets herself stop when writing is hard but not when thinking is hard. When she’s too tired, she stops but if she’s at a rough point in the book, she keeps going. When I got my book signed, I asked her what advice she would give me as an aspiring writer. She said to embrace perfection on the page, but nowhere else in life. Look for the perfect word, the perfect paragraph, but let appearance fall by the wayside. I’ll have to work on that one!

May and Lewis.

May and Lewis.

There were two poets at the third stop, Robin Coste Lewis is the National Book Award Winner for Poetry. She writes long form poetry which allows her to take the reader on a journey. She said that never tries to explain a feeling or experience to her reader, she lets them determine it for himself. The other poet was Jamaal May, a Detroit poet. When he read, it was very obvious he got his start writing slam poetry. His biggest advice was when there is something bothering hi, it’s a good sign that it’s something he should write about.

img_2980The last author up was the big headliner, Paula McClain. I read McClain’s book The Paris Wife a few years back and wasn’t a big fan of the novel but it was interesting to hear her speak. She earned her MFA in Poetry from the University of Michigan and was amazed that she was able to do that. McClain spent 14 years in foster care and was on academic probation at a community college for three years so finishing a master’s degree was never what she expected of herself. Her first novel was a memoir and it took her five years to write. After learning about Hadley and being inspired by her, she hunkered down at a Cleveland Starbucks and wrote The Paris Wife in seven months. I was surprised to hear she’d never been to Paris before she wrote the book. She visited since, but I’m still amazed how alive she made Paris feel without having visited. I was amazed to hear that at a reading in St. Louis, she met Hadley’s nephew and other family members. What a rush that must have been!

It was a really great event and I’m glad I went. I plan to go again next year. 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!