Tag Archives: My Brilliant Friend

WWW Wednesday, 14-March-2018

14 Mar

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: Still moving forward with Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. If I keep at it, I could finish next week, but I’m not going to hold my breath. My class has picked up and isn’t leaving a lot of time for reading. I’m hoping to watch both of the movies soon after I finish it.
I feel like I’m making great progress on The Circle by Dave Eggers but it’s such a long book that I’m really inching along. I have the hold for another few weeks and I hope that I can keep it going with another check-out.
I feel like I’m making progress on Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire though it’s a bit slower than I’d like. I still don’t see where this book is going. The arc seems to be weak so I’m wondering if I haven’t gotten to the true arc yet and I’m still wandering through the exposition. If so, it’s too long.
I’m halfway through Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. Her writing is amazing and I’m glad I’m getting to experience this one in audio. It’s almost better that way! Hearing her turns of phrase out loud is great and I can’t wait to see where this one ends up.
Still holding on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. If I lose The Circle hold again, I’ll try to go back to it.

Recently finished: Nothing again! It will likely come as an avalanche of books finished and reviews to write again. I can’s say I particularly look forward to that but it is what it is.

I posted two reviews so at least I’m finally catching up there. I posted about John Irving’s A Widow for One Year on Thursday. I gave the book 4 out of 5 Stars. I watched the movie over the weekend and I’ll be posting about that tomorrow.
I also reviewed X by Ilyasah Shabazz and posted that yesterday. I’ll have two book club discussions and hopefully an author presentation to share for that one! I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars as well.

Reading Next: I found out I can’t get an audio copy of History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. Drats! I’ll try to finish Potter soon and pick it up then. If not, I’ll start it when I go to my next book club meeting and the issue is forced a bit more. Either way, I’ll get this one next!


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, 7-March-2018

7 Mar

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’ve made great progress in Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. I’m through what was made into the first movie and I’m onto the second movie now, which is well over 1/2 way through. I’m starting to be more optimistic about ever finishing this one!
I got my hold back on The Circle by Dave Eggers! I’m reading it during lunch and waiting at the chiropractor again. It’s slow progress, but I’m making it through.
I had a fair number of drives into the city over the past few days so I made good progress on Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. I’m going a bit slower than I really want to but I’m still enjoying it. I listened to the entire Wicked soundtrack at work on Friday because this one is getting to my head!
I haven’t been running as much so I’ve also made slow progress on Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. I hope the weather improves and I can run outside more which is where I do longer runs and can enjoy this one a lot more.
Since I got The Circle back, I’m going to hold on The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp for a bit. I’m sure I’ll trade back and forth as I lose and gain the holds on these two!

Recently finished: I didn’t finish anything this week. I’m so close to the beginning of many of these that I’ll probably go through a cycle like I did before and finish them all at the same time! This is making it hard to plan my reviews.

I posted a review of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante on Monday. Please check it out when you have time. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars.

Reading Next: I feel like I need to put something in here this week after leaving it blank two weeks in a row. My next book club selection (which won’t be discussed until April) is History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. I’ll see if I can get an audiobook of it and possibly jump-start and read it sooner rather than later. It’s always nice to be ahead.


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: My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (4/5)

5 Mar

A good friend gave me this book for Christmas too many years ago. It’s languished on my shelf even as I heard amazing things about Ferrante and enjoyed a shorter of her novels. I finally had time to grab the audiobook and listen to the story. While I didn’t think it was as mind-blowing as some seem to, I did enjoy this book. As a side note, I have no author image here because Ferrante is anonymous.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein

Other books by Elena Ferrante reviewed on this blog:

The Lost Daughter (and Book Club Reflection)

Summary from Goodreads:

Beginning in the 1950s in a poor but vibrant neighborhood on the outskirts of Naples, Ferrante’s four-volume story spans almost sixty years, as its protagonists, the fiery and unforgettable Lila, and the bookish narrator, Elena, become women, wives, mothers, and leaders, all the while maintaining a complex and at times conflictual friendship. Book one in the series follows Lila and Elena from their first fateful meeting as ten-year-olds through their school years and adolescence.

Through the lives of these two women, Ferrante tells the story of a neighborhood, a city, and a country as it is transformed in ways that, in turn, also transform the relationship between her protagonists.

This felt like a period piece to me and that kept me from connecting to it. It was so clearly set in the 1950s and the experiences Elena and Lila had were so specific to that time. It lost some of its universality to me because of this. Getting married at 16 to a man in his late 20s and having to apply to go to middle school were such central tenants of this book and so in contrast to my life. The friendship Elena and Lila shared, at its core, is universal, but I felt that was lost and it kept me from a perfect 5 rating. I’ve had many friendships similar to the girls. There’s always some level of competition and comparison between two people as close as these girls. It was very real to me and the balance of power in this relationship is well set up.

Some of the characters were hard for me to connect with because of cultural difference between modern America and 1950s Italy. The relationships between the male and female friends were complicated. The way Elena felt about her parents, especially her mother, was very strange to me. While each character felt real, I struggled to keep all of the friends and neighbors straight and many of them feel flat because I couldn’t remember their small details.

Elena was my favorite character. Not just because she was the narrator, but because I felt she was most like me. I loved school and I felt awkward and ugly in my body going through puberty. I think that’s somewhat universal. I felt out-of-place around the ‘popular’ kids, the rich kids in this story. I’ll admit there were times I felt superior when I did well on assignments and other times I felt like a failure for my lack of a relationship in social situations. The back and forth Elena felt reminded me of myself in middle school and high school.

What made the relationship between the girls so good was that you could understand why Lila acted the way she did. Elena had such a fundamental understanding of her friend that she was able to break down her reactions and actions and see how she’d affected Lila. The creation of the shoes was very emotional for Lila. Though we never hear her say it, her actions and the way Elena understands them, show her passion. It’s even how the book ends! (Not a spoiler, I promise.)

I enjoyed Elena’s time Barano. She came into her own during this time, physically and mentally. Having to be her own person outside of Lila’s shadow was hard for her, but she figured it out. She found a way to be happy that didn’t involve school or Lila. I think that independence is what gave her the confidence to have Antonio as a secret boyfriend and further gave her the social confidence she didn’t have before going to Barano.

There wasn’t a part of the book I would have cut. In the end, all the little stories and bits that seemed unimportant were needed. They developed the characters and the relationships that culminated in the wedding and without them, it would have been impossible to understand all the nuances of what happened to the friends that day.

My audiobook was narrated by Hillary Huber. I’m not sure if it could have been helped, but there were times her pronunciation of the Italian words confused me. I think this should be credited to me not speaking Italian more than Huber’s reading. She had a very airy tone to her reading that made the book feel like a memory. Because of how the book starts, it’s clear that it is but 12 hours of dreams can get old fast. This makes it sound like I didn’t like Huber’s narration which I really did, promise!

Female friendships can be some of the most complicated webs between two people. My husband is frequently amazed at how I interact with my female friends. Ferrante gives them all the detail, dirt, and tears they deserve in this book. Elena and Lila, while competitive, catty, and at times rude, love each other. Their families do not understand them at the level they understand one another and their husband and future husband will never share the same love the two women do. I’m honestly jealous of Elena and Lila. I’m still waiting for my lifelong female friend.

Writer’s Takeaway: A book does not need to focus on a dramatic incident or life-changing event to be impactful and memorable. This book is a great example. It can focus on two people or one relationship. Many other books with this focus concentrate on it’s coming together or falling apart but Ferrante did an amazing job of emphasizing the drama in daily interaction and I commend her on that.

I liked this book but didn’t fully connect with it. 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!

Related Posts:
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante | booksaremyfavouriteandbest
‘My Brilliant Friend’ by Elena Ferrante (Review) | Tony’s Reading List
My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante | From Isi
Meet My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante | Second Chances

WWW Wednesday, 21-February-2018

21 Feb

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: Unfortunately, I’ve had to put Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling on hold for a short while for a book club selection. I’m hoping I fly through it and can get back to this soon!
I have the saddest news. I lost the hold on The Circle by Dave Eggers! I went to read it at lunch yesterday and it had returned and when I went to check it out again, I couldn’t! I’m so sad that I’ll have to wait to get back to this story.
FINALLY! I’ve just started Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire this week! It’s great to get on to a new audiobook. I’m still getting into it so not much to report here. Trying to remember the first book is taking a lot of my concentration now, haha.
I also started Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver. I remember Taylor and Turtle better than I thought I would. It’s  the side characters I don’t remember well but I’m sure I’ll pick it up quickly.
I started a book club selection as well, X by Ilyasah Shabazz. This is a fictionalized account of the story of Malcolm X as written by his third daughter. Shabazz will be speaking in my area later this year (or maybe early next year) so look for quite a few more posts about this book going forward!
Because I lost the hold on The Circle, I started another ebook. This time I picked The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp. Yes, I realize that means I have six books going right now! This is a lot for me and I’m feeling more than a bit overwhelmed but I will press on!

Recently finished: I finished a book! I’m so excited to be able to say that after a long time of nothing making its way to this list. I wrapped up A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I adore Irving and this book was ‘classic Irving’ and it was great to read something of his. The last Irving book I read was very different from his normal style and topics so it feels like returning to an old friend.
I wrapped up My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante yesterday during my run. Woo! It ended a bit abruptly and I’m unsure if I want to keep reading the series and find out more about what happens to these characters. Let’s call it TBD at the moment.

No reviews this week! I’ll have ones for Irving and Ferrante soon.

Reading Next: I’m going to say I have no plans. I really hope to finish some of my six going on right now before I start worrying about what comes next. I think I have too much on my plate already, haha.


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, 14-February-2018

14 Feb

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: You’ll notice a pattern in this post. It’s exactly the same as last week. Yep. I’m really close to finishing A Widow for One Year by John Irving and I’m banking on finishing it by next week. I feel like there’s a lot of action still to go, but the disk count shows that I’m close to the end so we’ll see how Irving wraps this one up.
I’m almost halfway through Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling which I see as a big accomplishment. I did a lot of reading on a snowy day that kept me indoors all day and got through about 50 pages in one day! And I didn’t have to take a nap afterward!
I’m almost halfway through My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. The weather has made it hard to get out for my long runs which is where I make great progress on this one. Maybe the book fairies will give us a break in the weather so I can listen more? Or maybe we’ll get another 11 inches, who knows?
I’m barely making progress in The Circle by Dave Eggers. It’s going to be a long haul on this one. That’s nothing against Eggers or his book, just the nature of my ebook reading that keeps it slow and plodding. This will slowly make its way to the top of this paragraph as it sits on my ‘Currently Reading’ shelf for ages.

Recently finished: Sadly, nothing again. I don’t even have any reviews to report on. It’s just been that kind of week.

Reading Next: I’ll be getting Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire from the library this week so I can start it right away. I hope I remember enough from the first book to dive into this one without too many problems!
I also plan on starting Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver when I finish Ferrante’s book. I read the first book in this duology a few years back but I remember it pretty well. I adored that the small girl was named Turtle! I’m excited to hear more about her.


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, 7-February-2018

7 Feb

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 feel like I can say I made good progress with A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I didn’t drive as much this week as I did the week before but I had one or two longer trips where I got through a disk. I hope to finish this up in the next two weeks, I’ve really liked it!
Progress has slowed a bit on Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. School is starting up and that’s meaning a lot of nights where I’m too tired to read before bed! It’s a sad situation for me, but a reality some times. I’ll keep pressing forward as I always want to finish one book in Spanish each year and I’m committed now that I’m over 200 pages in.
I’ve gotten through about a third of My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. It’s slow-moving but it has a lot to say about human nature that I’m enjoying. The characters are so realistic that I can almost re-name them to be friends from my childhood!
I haven’t made much headway in The Circle by Dave Eggers. Lunch at work has been cut short a lot so I’ve only gotten through a few pages each day. I think I’m (embarrassingly) still on chapter 1!

Recently finished: No surprise that I didn’t finish anything this week. I’m not sure I’ll have anything here next week either. I did manage to write a review of The Color Purple that went up on Monday so please check that out! I’ll be posting my book-to-film review tomorrow so get ready for that!

Reading Next: My plan is still to read Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire after I finish Irving. I’ll need a refresher on what happened in Wicked before I do. I remember the book and the musical being very different, but not much more than that.


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, 31-January-2018

31 Jan

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 was able to make some good progress on A Widow for One Year by John Irving. I had a lot of meetings to drive to last week so I got through three disks! I’m still just over halfway through this book but I’m feeling good about finishing it before the library makes me bring it in to prove I didn’t lose it.
I made steady progress in Harry Potter y las Reliquias de la Muerte by J.K. Rowling. I’ve been training hard and some nights I go to bed without reading so I know I could have read more, but I’m still happy with what I’ve gotten through.
Sad news that the audiobook I have access to for The Poe Shadow was abridged! I decided to pass it up in favor of the full novel sometime in the future. Instead, I started listening to My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. A very good friend of mine said a literature professor she had during her MFA said this was her favorite novel of all time and I’ve had it on my shelf for years. I’m glad I’m finally getting to it.
I needed a new ebook and the next on my list is one I’m very excited about: The Circle by Dave Eggers! I really wanted to read this one a while ago and never got around to it. I’ve just started but I’m very excited.

Recently finished: No surprise that I finished The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. It was a quick audiobook though I wish I’d had a different narrator for my experience. I posted my review yesterday if you want to read all my thoughts. I gave it 4 out of 5 Stars.
I also finished The Color Purple by Alice Walker which was a pleasant surprise. I was also glad to have a happy(er) ending. I should have my review of that up tomorrow and a movie review up next week. I love when there’s a movie!

I posted my review on How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie on Monday if you want to check that one out. I gave it 3 out of 5 Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll be out-of-town for my next book club meeting so I don’t have any pressure there to put aside Harry for another book. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ll need a CD Audiobook next and I’ll turn to Son of a Witch by Gregory Maguire. I read Wicked when I was in high school and I’ll have to find a refresher on what happened so I can continue with the next book in the series!


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!