Tag Archives: Lionel Shriver

WWW Wednesday, 23-May-2018

23 May

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 made much progress with The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I’ve been getting my school reading done during lunch at work so I’m not falling behind in that, but I’m not getting ahead in reading. I expect this will be on this list for a while.
I sped through The Sellout by Paul Beatty but didn’t quite finish it in time for my book club meeting. I’m still going to finish it but it’s a little bittersweet knowing more about the ending than I otherwise would. Oh well.
I’ve had some good movement with audiobooks! I wasn’t able to get The Joy Luck Club as fast as I wanted to so I started A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson instead. This is making me excited for summer and thinking about getting the gear so I can be a backpacker soon! I’ve wanted to do some longer hikes for a while but I don’t have the gear… yet.
I also started another eaudiobook. I picked up Critical Chain by Eliyahu Goldratt. I read his critically acclaimed The Goal in college and I’m excited to see what else this business master has to share.

Recently finished: I wrapped up The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne last Wednesday right before bed. I really adored this book and I’m surprised how few reviews of it I found after posting. It seems it wasn’t widely distributed even though it was well received. My review will be up tomorrow.
I plowed through Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on my errands and drive to school. This was a great, albeit short book and it’s making me curious about what else Woodson has written. Does anyone have recommendations for more by her?

I posted my review of Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Thursday last week and my book club reflection of it went up yesterday. The book was good but it didn’t blow me away. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m set on audiobooks for a while so it looks like I’ll get to pick a physical book next. I keep knocking down my towering TBR from the top and next up is Brainiac by Ken Jennings. My mom raised me on Jeopardy! so I watched Jennings in his legendary run on the show. I’m interested to see what he has to say about the world of competitive trivia and learn a little more about a person who can pack so many facts into his head!


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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WWW Wednesday, 16-May-2018

16 May

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’ll be finished with The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne pretty soon. I’m really enjoying this memoir and I’m realizing how long it’s been since I read a memoir. Hanagarne’s sense of humor is keeping me reading though he’s going through some very tough times in his life.
I’m not very far into The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver so it’s hard to really say how I’m feeling about it at the moment. I like it so far but I know this one will be on here for a while as I enjoy it slowly.
I haven’t had a ton of time to read The Sellout by Paul Beatty either. The prose is very poetic and I’m reading it slowly because of that. I think I’ll finish it in time for my book club meeting but it will probably be closer than I’d like to admit!
I’ve just started Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson on audio. I think it’s the full book but with it being so short, I’m still a little unsure! I guess we’ll see when my book club meets again.

Recently finished: I finished Mister Monkey by Francine Prose on Friday night. Overall, I enjoyed the book though there were some parts that rubbed me the wrong way or that didn’t flow logically for me. We met to discuss it on Monday but I wrote my review before the conversation could taint my opinions. The review will post tomorrow and my book club reflection will be up next week.

I’ve made a push for book reviews and I managed to post a few. Monday I posted my review of John Green’s An Abundance of Katherines. I gave the book 3 out of 5 Stars.
I also reviewed Ellyn Spragins’ What I Know Now. It’s a collection of letters that she helped famous women write. I gave it 3 out of 5 Stars as well.

Reading Next: I’ll need another audiobook for my car next. With all the driving I’m doing for school this semester, I’ll go through these rather quickly. I’ll be picking up Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club next. I’ve heard good things and I’m excited to enjoy this one while I drive to class.


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, 9-May-2018

9 May

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’m enjoying Mister Monkey by Francine Prose and I think I’ll have it finished by next week. The audiobook is well done and I’ve started doing my long runs so I get through audiobooks on my phone fairly quickly. I like finding the connections between the plot lines and I’ve had fun guessing who the next narrator will be.
I’m not too far into The World’s Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne but it’s a joy so far. Hanagarne is able to make fun of himself and his childhood and at the same time convey how hard it is to live with Tourette’s. I’m enjoying the tone he picked for the book and I’m excited to keep reading.
My next ebook is The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver. I added it to my list after I enjoyed another Shriver book. I’m a bit too early in this one to tell how I feel about it and I’m not reading it quickly so expect this one to linger here for a while.
Over the weekend, I started a new physical book with The Sellout by Paul Beatty. I almost read this about a year ago but was going to miss the book club meeting so I decided not to read it and now I get a second chance! Again, early in, but so far soon good!

Recently finished: I was able to wrap up An Abundance of Katherines by John Green late last week. It’s not my favorite Green by any means, but it was still enjoyable. I’ll have a review up next week so I can go into some more detail on it.
I sped through What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self by Ellyn Spragins. The letters were all really short so I’d binge-read five or so at a time and got through the book really fast. I’ll have a review for this one up next week, also. I’m catching up on reviews!

A few reviews as well! I posted about my feelings on Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs last Thursday. I love this author and I gave him a glowing review. He always makes me laugh. I gave him 5 out of 5 Stars.
I also wrote about The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro earlier this week. I’ve liked Ishiguro in the past, but this book was not for me. Please check out my review for more details, but still read Never Let Me Go! I gave the book 2 out of 5 stars.

Reading Next: I’m trying to keep ahead of my book club picks so I can lazily pick up my own books. The next one I’ll grab will be Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson. I’m worried the audiobook I have is abridged because it’s only 2 hours and 30 minutes long! If you’ve read this before, does that seem right? It looks like the book is about 200 pages so I’m surprised it would be so short.


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

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

Book Review: We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver (5/5) One of the darkest and scariest books I’ve ever read.

17 Mar

I finished my first ebook! I decided a few months ago to download a book on my phone so I’d have something to read in all of those spare minutes we have in life; waiting in line at the grocery, eating breakfast, sitting at the doctor’s office, etc. I’m really glad I did it because it helped me find and enjoy this gem of a book that was first recommended on my page-a-day book calendar.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Eva Khatchadourian’s son committed a heinous crime, murdering eleven people and making national headlines as a school shooter. Eva visits Kevin in his juvenile detention center and the interactions prompt her to write letters to her ex-husband, Franklin. Her series of letters take the writer back over 18 years to before Kevin was born. She tells us about how she and Franklin decided to have children, how difficult it was for her to care for baby Kevin, and her frustrations as he grew up. Her letters build layers upon layers of depth to the act that Kevin committed while not yet revealing why he did it or how. The reader is introduced to the victims families and those who Eva now associates, having sold her prosperous business to pay for legal lawyers. The two timelines, present and past reflection, converge on the Thursday Kevin committed the crime in a way that will make you late for work so you can finish reading it.

I watched an interview wish Shriver on YouTube and she talked a lot about what she was trying to say with this book. Her opinion along the Nature v. Nurture lines is pretty clear in this book. Eva tried to be a good mother and Franklin was a loving father, but Kevin himself was not going to be a good child. Kevin and Celia received almost identical upbringings and turned out as different as Mother Teresa and Hitler. When we hear a child crying in church or screaming at a restaurant, our initial thought is to blame the parents. “Why can’t they keep that kid quiet?” “Just give the darn kid back his toy so he’ll shut up and we can get back to what we’re doing.” A parent can only do so much to control their child because each human being has the ability to make choices: their own free will. No matter what Eva and Franklin did, they couldn’t change Kevin.

As the reader, I never knew what to feel for Kevin. the smallest part of me felt bad for him because his mother didn’t really love him or trust him at all. Most of me hated him and no part of me could understand why he did what he did. His desire to destroy, to kill, wasn’t something I could understand. He wanted to do something that mattered, that people would pay attention to, and instead of a creative outlet or a political stand, he committed a crime. More pointedly, he killed those who were trying to make a name for themselves through political or creative means. I loved what Shriver did with this piece and how much I loved Eva and pitied her and wanted to throw Kevin across the room myself. This was so well written.

This book is so timely because of its topic. School shootings have made news headlines for the last 20 years at least, all of my conscience memory. The past year saw a higher number than I can remember, maybe rivaled by copy-cats after Columbine. It seems to me that the media is obsessed with these incidents, going into depth about the killers, their motivations and how rough their childhoods were. I personally hate giving these men and woman (though more often men) our attentions. It seems a reward for what they did. I think this book agrees with that; we give those who do bad things so much more attention than those who contribute positively to our society. Kevin asks if he would be on TV if he got an A in Geometry. No, he wouldn’t. He’s on TV because he killed 9 people. We seem almost obsessed with violence and death and the news medias don’t help. Maybe we as a society are to blame because it seems obvious that Eva is not.

I watched the movie Friday night and it was true to the book but had one major difference. In the book, we know what Kevin did rather early on in the book and we slowly see how that day came to pass. We see the little things that drove that to happen. In the movie, only the ending reveals Kevin’s crime. Until then, the moviegoer doesn’t know why Kevin’s in jail, what terrible thing he could have done that ruined his family and mother. I almost wish I hadn’t told my husband about what I was reading. He knew how the movie ended, to an extent. I like both approaches to the story but as a reader first, preferred the book. If you’ve read the book and seen the movie, what did you think about the two approaches to the story?

Writer’s Takeaway: Shriver blew me out of the water with this book. She wrote a character that I came to know and understand so well in Eva and a character that I couldn’t understand or relate to in Kevin. She made Franklin both lovable and hated and had these three characters interact in a way that was so logical yet tragic that I wanted to scream and cry. Does that seem over dramatic? Maybe a bit, but it’s all true.

Her approach to the story was very inventive, using the letter format to take the reader backward and forward in time seamlessly worked well. Since flashbacks tend to be awkward in most books, I recommend something like this for a plot that’s destined to be riddled with the haze of memory.

A wonderful read and I highly recommend it. 5 out of 5 stars.

Until next time, write on.

Related Posts:
We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver | Review | The Librarian Who Doesn’t Say shhh!
Review | We Need to Talk About Kevin, Lionel Shriver | Literary Treats
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN by Lionel Shriver | Tipping My Fedora
Book | We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver | The Word in Edgewise
Lionel Shriver – We Need to Talk About Kevin (Book Review) | Cult of the New

WWW Wednesday, 12-Mar-2014

12 Mar

The community surrounding WWW Wednesday that MizB has created has blown me away. Thank you to everyone who participates! I’m so glad I joined this meme.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

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

Currently reading: Will you all believe that I’m only reading three books? It’s crazy, I know. I’m buckling down and really trying to finish reading Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. I’ve got some time because I’ve already read my book club’s next selection so I’m taking advantage of it. On audio I’m working my way through The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. I’m in love with this book and the narrator on the audio is amazing. I needed a new book on my phone and the first one I could find was The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I decided to read this after I saw John Green tweet about how good it is. I have unstoppable faith in John Green.

Recently finished: I’ve finished two books in the past week. Allegiant by Veronica Roth was the first. I’m almost done for the review for this, it might be up as early as Friday. The other title was We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I absolutely loved this book and I’m going to try to watch the movie this weekend and write a joint review next week. We’ll see how much time I end up having.

Reading Next: I know I keep saying I will read Richard Ford’s Canada, but I know I have a Goodreads First Reads sitting in my shelf and another one on the way. I’ll probably read The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker so I can write the review I owe to the author. It will be good for me to read this prior to re-writing my second manuscript in which a character has Alzheimer’s.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 5-Mar-2014

5 Mar

I’m trying to become a regular in the WWW Wednesday meme hosted by MizB on Should Be Reading. Here’s my second in a row (yay for consistency)!

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

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

Currently reading: I’m down to four books, which is good for me. In print I’m reading Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I’m tearing through the series, it’s a bit frightening actually. I’m also still pecking away at Harry Potter y la Orden del Fenix by J.K. Rowling. I’m into this one for the long haul. I did manage to get some read before my husband brought Allegiant home for me. He took it from his classroom library. I’m not really stealing from 7th graders, it just looks like that. On my phone I’m getting close to finishing We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. This book is crazy good and I hope I can finish it up soon. I’d say this week but, you know, Allegiant… And on Audio, it’s The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach and I’m liking it a lot more. It’s my drive-home-book now, too.

Recently finished: I finished two books on Saturday, Insurgent by Veronica Roth and Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Insurgent review will be up tomorrow, Outlander some time next week.

Reading Next: I’m pushing myself to finish Harry Potter, and I still hope to read Canada by Richard Ford next. We’ll see how long it takes.

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.

WWW Wednesday, 26-Feb-2014

26 Feb

I’ve decided to start participating in a weekly post on Wednesdays, WWW Wednesdays hosted by MizB on Should be Reading.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

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

Currently reading: I’m a girl who can’t read only one book at a time, so get ready for a list. In print, I have two books, Insurgent by Veronica Roth which I started last night and Harry Potter y la Orden del Fénix by J.K. Rowling which I’ve been working on for over a year. I was a Spanish major in college so I like to practice reading in Spanish when I can. It’s good to read something I’m already familiar with in English so I learn new words. It’s been slow going because I always prioritize other books. On my phone, I’m reading We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver which I’m in love with. His narrator is such a wonderfully developed woman and I adore reading about her. I’m listening to a book on my phone as well, which is The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach. This is for my book club and comes highly recommended by my friend Katherine. Finally, the audiobook in my car is Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I’m almost done with the behemoth and I’ll be glad when it’s over, but I’m too far in to give up!

Recently finished: Just Kids by Patti Smith. Review will be up tomorrow!

Reading Next: I’ve wanted to read Canada by Richard Ford for a long time now. I finally bought a copy and should have the time to delve into it in the next month or so. I’m excited!

That’s it from me. What are your three Ws? Leave a comment and let me know and also check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

Until next time, write on.