Tag Archives: Semper Fidelis

Challenge Update, June 2020

2 Jul

This month wasn’t a fruitful as last month, but I’m still happy with it! I’ve been trying to bike outside more so that’s less listening time. I’ve also started watching Netflix while I ride, so I really should say that time for listening is gone. Oh well. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

It’s All Relative // A.J. Jacobs (4/5)
The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits // Emma Donoghue (3/5)
Stories of Elders // Veronica Kirin (4/5)
Fiction Writer’s Workshop // Josip Novakovich (3/5)
Semper Fidelis // Ruth Downie (4/5)
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes // Suzanne Collins (4/5)

And caught up on reviews! Killing it!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Without even trying, this was a great month for the challenge! I knocked off the two extremes, Pre-1300 and the Future. Downie’s Ruso novels are always good for the earliest time periods with her Roman Empire setting. Traveling to Panem in the future with Collins knocks that one off, too. I’m feeling good about this challenge without having to do much planning!

Goodreads Challenge

35/55
Nine ahead! This is so crazy to me. I don’t think I’ve ever been this far ahead in my Goodreads challenge. Maybe I need to start a George R.R. Martin book to slow me down.

Book of the Month

Always a winner with me, this month has to go to Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie. I love Ruso and Tilla and I’m always looking forward to what they’ll get up to next. I’ve got the sixth book on my TBR now and I don’t know what I’ll do with myself when I catch up.

Added to my TBR

So I’ve gone up, I’m at 47 now. It’s only one higher than last month but I thought I’d be going down with so many books finished. I’ve gotten into a YA audiobook trap as my library has a summer listening program that I’m stocking up on for later.

  • Into White by Randi Pink. The first of my YA audiobooks. I’m going to make an effort to read more about race and challenge any prejudice I might hold. Most of these books were selected for that reason.
  • Like No Other by Una LaMarche. Same as above. Thank you, libraries!
  • Easy Prey by Catherine Lo. Ditto above.
  • Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena. Rounding it out. This summer program has stocked me up!
  • Tabula Rasa by Ruth Downie. The next in the series. I’m excited to keep this one going!
  • The Book Women of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. This is my next book club selection so I expect to start this soon.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Triathlon Age Group National Championships: Not sure what to say here. The race was officially canceled a few weeks ago. I put up a post about it if you want to read my thoughts. I’m a bit bothered by this and don’t like thinking about it so I might remove or change this goal for next month.
  • Submit my novel: Wow, I was so far off base when I wrote my goals for this year. I haven’t touched my manuscript since COVID hit. There have been other priorities. I might look at editing this one as well. Priorities changed a lot and I want to have goals that reflect the new ones.

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for this year, it’s fun!

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.

Book Review: Semper Fidelis (Medicus Investigation #5) by Ruth Downie (4/5)

23 Jun

I’ve always enjoyed this series. I came up on the first one very randomly while browsing at Boarders (yes, that’s how long ago I picked it up) and I’ve been happy to keep reading them on and off since. I’m happy to always find one when I need a pick-me-up.

Cover image via Amazon

Semper Fidelis (Medicus Investigation #5) by Ruth Downie

Other books by Downie reviewed on this blog:

Terra Incognita (Medicus Investigation #2)
Persona Non Grata (Medicus Investigation #3)
Caveat Emptor (Medicus Investigation #4)

Summary from Goodreads;

Back at his post as a doctor in the Twentieth legion in Roman-occupied Britain, Ruso uncovers a new danger even closer to home than the neighboring barbarians. As mysterious injuries, and even deaths, begin to appear in the medical ledgers, it’s clear that all is not well amongst the native recruits to Britannia’s imperial army. Is the much- decorated Centurion Geminus preying on his weaker soldiers? And could this be related to the appearance of Emperor Hadrian? Bound by his sense of duty and ill-advised curiosity, Ruso begins to ask questions nobody wants to hear. Meanwhile his barbarian wife, Tilla, is finding out some of the answers-and marked as a security risk by the very officers Ruso is interrogating. With Hadrian’s visit looming large, the fates of the legion, Tilla, and Ruso himself hang in the balance.

Ruso’s wit has always been enjoyable. It’s one of the things I like most about these books. And Tilla is getting more and more time to narrate. That being said, this one didn’t stand out as much as the past ones had in my mind. Ruso being accused early on took away a lot of the joy that his character often gave. And Tilla’s investigation took away from a lot of the character development she had commanded in recent books. It was just enough out of step for me to enjoy the book a bit less. Also, the reveal of the killers was just subtle enough that I didn’t get it right away and I had to re-listen to the final ten minutes before I understood what had happened.

The characters in these books are always credible to me. The characters do the best they can with the world they’re living in; the dangers of the Roman period, the medicines known to them, and the average intelligence and education of the people. Ruso is a privileged person and he knows this and has always done as much as he can for the others. It’s what makes him admirable and flawed. He’s a wonderful narrator for this series.

Ruso was the standout character in this book to me. Normally, I lean toward Tilla, but her story fell flat to me this time around. Her concerns about fertility didn’t come through and she was more of a helper than anything this time and didn’t give me much to like. Ruso was himself though in a much more perilous situation than normal. He and Tilla, usually a wonderful pair, were separated for a lot of the story and it was hard to see them without their support system. I’m hoping they’ll be more of a pair again in the next book.

I could identify with Ruso at the end, though at a much smaller scale. This is a bit of a spoiler, so skip ahead to avoid it. The next paragraph will be safe again. I understood why Ruso would confess to a crime he hadn’t done to keep the peace of the empire. I’d be willing to lie about something I hadn’t done to keep peace in my family. I’ll take the fall for something my husband did to save face in front of his family. I’m not sure I’d take it so far as the face death, though.

Ruth Downie
Image via Audible

Sabina was a great side character in this book and Tilla’s interactions with her were fun. Her opinion of the empire and her time in Britain was fun and it was fun to see her feel powerful for once. I can’t imagine the marriage she was in and how that would feel for her, but seeing her play her part was fun. I can see how she garnered such loyalty.

The ending was a bit quick and vague for me. Like I said, I had to re-listen to the final 15 minutes to understand what had happened because I missed it the first time around. It’s not a huge criticism, but it was frustrating, especially listening to the audiobook which makes it much harder to go back and revisit the text.

Simon Vance is an amazing narrator for this series. I hope he’s able to do the whole thing because I’ve come to define his voice and Ruso’s as one. His voices for women aren’t amazing, but I get over it because of the amazing accents he has for Romans and Britons. His inflections for Ruso’s vapid family members always have me giggling.

There is usually something larger than oneself that you would give up everything for. Semper Fidelis is well known in the US as the moto for the US Marines (usually shortened to SemperFi). It carries a lot of weight in US culture. It meant a lot to Ruso, too. He is a cog in the machine, a medicus in an empirical army, but he recognizes the importance of his role and the larger empire he’s representing and holding together. Sometimes, things are bigger than us.

Writer’s Takeaway: Downie’s humor has always been my favorite. Even in a murder mystery, she’s making me smile and laugh. I enjoy the banter between her characters and her balance of serious and humorous characters that keep the book moving with a lighter tone between somber bits. It’s a balance that’s well-executed and I’m not sure it would work in less practiced hands. It could easily be farcical but here it’s wonderful.

A wonderful mystery and a great story in this series. I’ll plan to continue onward. Four out of Five Stars.

This book fulfills the Pre-1300 time period in 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!

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:
“Semper Fidelis” by Ruth Downie – Always Faithful | Tony’s Book World
Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie | For winter nights- A bookish blog

WWW Wednesday, 17-June-2020

17 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’m in love with Chasing Water: Elegy of an Olympian by Anthony Ervin and Constantine Markides. The style jumps between Ervin’s memories and sports journalist Constantine Markides’ narration of his swimming career. Now that I’m swimming again, this is pumping me up and I’m ready to get back to racing.
A lot of new books for the list this week! I began a new audiobook, Semper Fidelis by Ruth Downie. This is the fifth book in the Medicus Investigation series. I lent the first three to my mother at the beginning of COVID and she’s loving them as well. I recommend this series a lot, it’s well deserved.
I began my Buddy Read of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel. We split the book into four sections and this first one is the longest. I should wrap it up very soon and be able to move on to another book until my buddy is ready to meet and we can move forward.

Recently finished: I was able to push through and finish Fiction Writer’s Workshop by Josip Novakovich over the weekend. I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. I’d hoped it would inspire me to write but I found it geared toward short stories more than toward novels and that didn’t help me. I’ll have a full review up tomorrow.
I finished the audiobook of Stories of Elders by Veronica Kirin and was able to post a review yesterday. It was really fun hearing Kirin read her own story, especially knowing her and having heard her speak about this project. I’ve done an email interview with her and will be posting that next week so stay tuned for even more!

I posted my review of The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits by Emma Donoghue last Thursday. Our book club met and I posted my book club reflection on Monday. It seems this collection has been taking over the blog this week!

Reading Next: I’m so close to starting The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins! It’s been here longer than I’d like but it will be what I escape to between sections of my Buddy Read so it’s coming soon!


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.