Tag Archives: Ivy Pochoda

Book Club Reflection: These Women by Ivy Pochoda

27 Jul

I’m back! I took a week off due to some craziness in life, but it’s given me a chance to read more and get excited about blogging again. I’m glad to be with you all again.

Our book club had another successful Zoom meeting to talk about our latest book, These Women by Ivy Pochoda. We learned a lot about the author that I wouldn’t have guessed. Her other novels are more gritty crime novels, which wasn’t too much of a surprise. I was a bit surprised to hear she’d been a collegiate squash player and very successful. She was also working with Kobe Bryant before his death on a YA series called Epoca. She uses the pseudonym Ivy Claire for these books. The first was released in November 2019.

Pochoda lives in LA and has been there since 2009 but she wasn’t raised there. Her portrayal of the city felt very real to us like she’s been there even longer. A lot of the description reminded us of Detroit; a city run down and trying to revive itself but having a hard time of it.

Pochoda’s women are empowered and have the ability to change their futures and the outcomes of what they do. We never get inside the male killer’s head. He’s not the focus of the stories. One reader figured out the killer quickly since he was the only man in the book and she figured it had to be a man. It seems obvious to me now, but I didn’t see that at the time. The time jumps threw off a few readers who were reading digitally or on audio for the first time and weren’t used to the new formats.

It was very timely of this book to include BLM protests. You have to think Pochoda knew to include these before they became front-page news. She was tuned in to what was happening and put them in her book, making it feel like she could tell the future. The book felt less escapist than crime novels normally do because it felt so real and connected to the headlines we’re reading now.

Pochoda created some very memorable characters. Feelia’s section was raw and had a lot of course language in it. Those of us who listened to it enjoyed it more. Her language was coarse, but she was describing some beautiful things. Most of us liked Essie. She had some great quirks, like her gum chewing. We’d love to see her as the detective in more books. Her backstory felt a little rushed so more books would give us more into her character. We wanted to know more about the car accident since it didn’t seem fleshed out enough. We also wanted to know more about her former partner, Debbie. That seemed like a good story, too. All of the narrators ere the victims of something; Dorian of her murdered daughter, Jujubee of murder, Marella of a broken home life, Anneke of a bad marriage. Essie needed to be the victim of something, so maybe that misunderstanding is what made her compelling in this book.

Most of us felt Dorian was the least compelling of the narrators. It didn’t help that she started the story. We weren’t sure why we were hearing her story because it didn’t seem to connect to the larger narrative until much further into the story. She might have been more sympathetic if she’d been second or third. We started to care more about the characters as the chapters went on. They became deeper. Juliana is a dancer, but she wants to be an artist like Morella. Morella is an artist, but she’s having an identity crisis and ends up using someone else’s photos in her show. A few said they cared about Morella less at the end of her section. I think she lost the intrigue she had when she was nude and covered in blue paint.

Women are viewed as sexual beings in Western culture and those in power are disrespected and brought low so they can be objectified and seen as sexual beings. They’re not listened to; Dorian keeps the dead birds to show people so she can be believed. Feelia reports her stalker for years without anyone taking her seriously. Anneke, unfortunately, buys into this view of women as sexual beings. She says that the women are at fault for their deaths, causing the killer to want them and kill them. She blames them for what happens.

We’ve got at least one more virtual meeting in us before we can meet again. We’ll see how soon that comes about. 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.

WWW Wednesday, 15-July-2020

15 Jul

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: I made a little bit of progress through Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides. I’m trying to be conscious about reading this a bit more. I enjoy it when I remember, but I often forgot to read it when I should.
My reading buddy and I met so I read our third section of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. We had a lot of predictions about what will happen in the back half of the book and I’m starting to see which of our guesses were right and which were a bit off. I’ll be excited to finish it soon!
I’m very early with In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. It feels so good to pull books off my shelf that have been sitting there for so long!
I also started a new audiobook, which I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do this week but I’m happy I could. I was able to find Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray as an eaudiobook. My library had made it unavailable at one point but it seems it’s there again! I’m glad to be able to read this one and continue on with the series.

Recently finished: I finished up The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson after some long runs and drives. It wasn’t one I really enjoyed, but I didn’t dislike it either. I had some issues with the structure of the book, not the plot or characters. I wrote a review of it yesterday if you want to hear more. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.
I finished off How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland, as I expected. This book was a small let down as well, being more about regional vocabulary and food than it was about pronunciation and accents. Oh well. I still liked it and gave the book Four out of Five Stars. My review went up on Monday.

I posted my review of These Women by Ivy Pochoda on Thursday. Check it out if you want to hear more. This book got Three out of Five Stars from me.

Reading Next: Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think I need to pick out an ebook to read soon. I’m hoping to snag a copy of Dollface by Renee Rosen. I love 1920s flappers so this is right up my ally!


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

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 Review: These Women by Ivy Pochoda (3/5)

9 Jul

This was a bit of a last-minute book club pick. With COVID, we’ve been limited to books that are available on a platform that allows multiple downloads from different users at the same time. A lot of our selections were tossed into the air and this one landed. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t a book I really enjoyed either. I’m happily neutral on this one.

Cover image via Amazon

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

Summary from Amazon:

In West Adams, a rapidly changing part of South Los Angeles, they’re referred to as “these women.” These women on the corner … These women in the club … These women who won’t stop asking questions … These women who got what they deserved …

In her masterful new novel, Ivy Pochoda creates a kaleidoscope of loss, power, and hope featuring five very different women whose lives are steeped in danger and anguish. They’re connected by one man and his deadly obsession, though not all of them know that yet. There’s Dorian, still adrift after her daughter’s murder remains unsolved; Julianna, a young dancer nicknamed Jujubee, who lives hard and fast, resisting anyone trying to slow her down; Essie, a brilliant vice cop who sees a crime pattern emerging where no one else does; Marella, a daring performance artist whose work has long pushed boundaries but now puts her in peril; and Anneke, a quiet woman who has turned a willfully blind eye to those around her for far too long. The careful existence they have built for themselves starts to crumble when two murders rock their neighborhood.

I liked the storytelling of this novel and the topics it addressed, but it missed with me overall. It’s hard to pinpoint what didn’t jive for me, but it was a bit off. I liked the multiple points of view. I liked the women the book focused on. I liked the setting and the mystery. But it just wasn’t what I enjoyed.

Juliana and Marella seemed the most real to me. Maybe because I’m closer in age and life to them, but they resonated with me more. Dorian was too bitter to enjoy, Essie seemed to have more problems than we were able to explore in her section, and Anneke was too hard to understand. I liked Juliana. I wanted better things for her and I wanted to believe her that things were going to get better when she wanted them to. Marella was trying to find her own voice and found that she couldn’t; it was always going to be tainted with someone else’s words but that didn’t make it less impactful. Their troubles seemed real to me and their struggle spoke to me more than the others did.

Juliana was my favorite character. The life she had made for good fiction, even if it wasn’t pretty. She was interesting and the people she was around were people you wanted to hear more about and see into their lives. She was interesting even if she wasn’t good. She was the one you cheered for in the book.

Marella was easy to relate to in some ways. Her mother wanted what was best for her and went through a lot of grief to get it. Marella rebelled against this in her way and that was relatable. Parents usually do what they think is best for their children even if children don’t see it that way.

Ivy Pochoda
Image via Amazon

I sound like a broken record, but Juliana’s section was my favorite of the book. I liked how she showed the beautiful side of a life that’s often overlooked and frowned at. She saw the beauty in her friends in a different way than the men who paid them did. Her section really spoke to how woman can be overlooked and seen as property in our society. While some women profit from this, it’s not safe. Our society sees sex workers as at fault for any violence against them because of their line of work instead of seeing the perpetrators as vile men. It’s ‘these women’ who keep doing things to get themselves killed. Feelia’s story emphasizes how little faith is put in this group of women.

I didn’t like Anneke’s section. It wasn’t just because the mystery was almost immediately given away, but I felt Anneke was very unlikeable. From the first time we meet her, in Dorian’s narration, she’s hostile and rude. It never gets better and by the time she gets a voice, the reader is set against her. Nothing she did helped change my perception of her and I wanted the book to end so I didn’t have to listen to her excuses any longer. I was sick of her very quickly.

The audiobook was dually narrated by Bahni Turpin and Frankie Corzo. Corzo read the majority of the book and I enjoyed her narration. Nothing in it stuck out too much to me. What did stand out a lot was Turpin’s reading. She did the chapters with Feelia’s voice and those stood out a lot. They were written in a very different style, just Feelia’s voice without any other characters or descriptions. The way Turpin read them was amazing, full of passion and anger that the character felt to her bones. I looked forward to these sections because of Turpin.

This book discusses sexism and racism and seemed very appropriate to read in 2020. Feelia and Juliana feel society overlooks them not just for their skin color, but their gender as well. They have problems they can’t take to the police because the police won’t listen. When Essie does listen, Feelia is shocked and reasons it’s because she’s a Latina woman; white men had ignored her for years. It helped highlight privilege without that being the main theme. Maybe I was reading it that way because of the #BLM movement, but I think the message was purposeful.

Writer’s Takeaway: The multiple points of view were very well done. I learned more about the crimes with each person’s voice added to the collage and it came down to the end when I figured out who was responsible. I think it was revealed in a very natural way and hearing from all of the women in this book helped draw that picture.

An enjoyable read (very well narrated) that somehow missed for me. 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:
These Women by Ivy Pochada | Mediadrone
These Women, by Ivy Pochada | A Bookish Type
Ivy Pochada Explores the Southern Migration to LA in ‘These Women’ |Southern Review of Books
‘These Women’ TV Series Based on Book in Works From ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Bruce Miller and MGM/UA TV | Deadline

WWW Wednesday, 8-July-2020

8 Jul

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: I haven’t been doing great with Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides but I’m still moving through it. I’m at the point where Tony is starting to swim again which helps keep my interest so I hope I’ll be back into it soon.
I got to the end of the section my buddy and I are reading in The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. So I’m paused with this one until she catches up and we can talk again. I’m loving this book so I’m really looking forward to it.
I started two new books and I stuck to my reading plan! I started the audiobook of The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. I knew nothing about this one before I started so it’s been a bit confusing getting into it and learning about Cussy. I don’t think this one will take too long so I should be through it in a week or two.
I also started my physical copy of How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland which has been such fun. I have family from a lot of different regions of the Midwest and I’ve lived in two dialectal regions so I can pick out the differences he’s talking about in the people I know.

Recently finished: I was able to finish These Women by Ivy Pochoda on Wednesday like I thought. I’m still trying to wrap my head around it completely because I think I was supposed to get a little more out of it than I did. I’ll have a review up tomorrow; maybe that will help me sort through how I felt about it.

Reading Next: Since Midwestern is so short, I’ll probably need a physical book next. I want to keep pushing forward with my shelf so I’ll probably pick up In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner. I’ve had this on my TBR for ages since I picked it up used at a library sale. I love knocking down these books that have been there for ages!


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

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.

WWW Wednesday, 1-July-2020

1 Jul

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: One chapter a day of Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides is still my goal but it’s not happening as I planned. I’m getting about two a week, so I’m still moving through just a bit slower. The narrative is covering Ervin’s return to the sport and I’m enjoying this journey a lot.
I’m back to reading The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. My buddy and discussed Part 1 and we’re on to Part 2. I’ll probably zip through this soon so we can meet and talk again. I’m really loving Mandel’s plot here.
I’ll probably wrap up These Women by Ivy Pochoda today, I’m so close to finishing it! This is a really dark book but I’m making a lot of connections to current cultural issues and it’s been fascinating to hear the stories from the women who are so often overlooked.

Recently finished: I stayed up way too late Saturday night to finish The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins. My swim the next morning was a bit of a struggle. I enjoyed it well enough, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending and it left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth. I’m glad I read it, but I probably won’t reread it any time soon. I posted my review yesterday if you want to read more of my thoughts. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll grab my copy of How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland as soon as I finish the second section of Mandel. It shouldn’t take more than a day or two.
I’ll start another book club pick on audio soon. We’re reading The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. I don’t know anything about this one but I’ve felt that books about books haven’t been going well for me lately so I’m a bit weary. Fingers crossed.


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

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.

WWW Wednesday, 24-June-2020

24 Jun

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: I keep trying to read one chapter of Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides every day but I’m often failing. I’m still reading some, though, so I’ll continue moving through this one. I’m over halfway so far but this will probably be here another few weeks.
My buddy and I are meeting to talk about the first section of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel tomorrow. I sped through Part I and I’m looking forward to moving deeper into it. There’s a lot to unpack with these characters and I think we’ll have a lot to talk about with the book, too.
I started The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins! Finally. I want to rewatch the movies for the original trilogy now. I’m not sure I have the time to re-read them. And Jennifer Lawrence does such a great job that the movies are a joy. This might move off of here quickly, I’m picking it up at every opportunity.
I started a new audiobook for my book club. We’re reading These Women by Ivy Pochoda. I’m not sure what to expect from this one. All I know is that it’s a mystery and I’m in the mood for one right now, so bring it on!

Recently finished: I sped through Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie and wrapped it up Saturday morning. I posted my review yesterday so you can see my full thoughts there. This one wasn’t my favorite of the series, but I liked it and will continue reading the series. It looks like there are currently eight so I still have some time before I catch up. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I posted my review of Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich last Thursday. This book was very mediocre for me. There were a few helpful nuggets, but for the most part it fell a bit flat in my eyes. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think it will be time for a little non-fiction soon. I have a signed copy of How to Speak Midwestern by Edward McClelland on my shelf and I’m probably running out of quarantine time to get through my signed books. I heard McClelland speak at the library a few years ago. My language degree got me really interested in dialect and this seems like a fascinating look at my own accent and dialect. I’m excited to dig in.


Leave a comment with your link and 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!

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.