Tag Archives: Susan Jane GIlman

Challenge Update, June 2016

5 Jul

Unsurprising, May was a slow month for me. I was in the midst of an intensive class and there wasn’t anything that could push me through reading faster. Even a good book took me some time. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in June:

The Unlikely Disciple // Kevin Roose
27 Days to Midnight // Kristine Kruppa
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street // Susan Jane Gilman

The best part of all of this is that all of the above were 5 Star reads! I had a great month of books even if it was slower than I would have liked.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. Unfortunately, I have no change to report here. None of my current reads will help, either. I do know that my next book will fill in the 1800s and I can always find a dystopian to fill in the future so I’ve really just got the 1600s to worry about. It’s time to start looking at my Philippa Gregory collection to see what I can fill in.

Goodreads Challenge

23/45
I’m now only one book ahead. I’m getting a bit nervous here. I thought after finishing the long books last month I would speed ahead, but I’ve slowed down. I’m hoping I can reverse this trend soon and speed back up, but we’ll see. I’m keeping my fingers crossed now.

Book of the Month

IceCreamWith all 5 Star reads, this is harder than usual, but I think there’s a clear winner in my head. I absolutely loved The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. It was fun, the narrator made me laugh, and I wanted it to never end. The use of voice in this book should be envied, it was incredible. I really recommend it.

Added to my TBR

Read three, added two. It’s not going down fast, but it’s going down. It helps that the ones I’m reading now were all on the list so I haven’t had any add/reads to stalemate it.

  • Slade House by David Mitchell. This will be a book club selection, likely in October/November to line up with Halloween and creepy reads.
  • Stiff by Mary Roach. Another book club pick that we’ll read in the fall. Man, if it weren’t for book clubs, I’d have such a short reading list! It keeps me distracted from my TBR and it also ends up adding to it when I find new authors that I like.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re killing it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge, 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!

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WWW Wednesday, 29-June-2016

29 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!

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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.


TruthBeautyCurrently reading: I think I got through four pages of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I had been doing a lot of this reading in my phone during my lunch breaks but I had to read for my class a lot in the past weeks. Well, big news here is that MY CLASS IS OVER! I turned my final paper in on Monday and I’m free until August. I can’t tell you all how excited I am about this. I hope I can pick up reading Larson some more during lunch because I really enjoy his writing.
I’m still not a fan of In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches. Almost 100 pages in and there’s been a total of 3 pages devoted to the plot I thought I was going to find and about 25 pages devoted to Tosches talking about why he’s a great writer and what’s wrong in the publishing world. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.
I began a new audiobook, Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett. I think this one was recommended to me, but it’s hard to remember who or when. I love memoirs and I haven’t read Patchett yet which I think helps because I come in with no preconceived ideas of what her writing will be like.

IceCreamRecently finished: My ceaseless cravings for ice cream will hopefully stop soon because I finished The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. I adored this audiobook and the character. I really recommend it to anyone with an interest in historical fiction or business. Gilman touches on both well and it was a great combination. I kept laughing during my runs and making my husband question my sanity.

I posted my review on Monday so please go check it out! This was a 5 Star read for me.

WingsReading Next: The book club met Monday and our next selection is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m tempted to put down Tosches to pick this up and read it first, but with the free time from my class being over, I’m trying to be optimistic about powering through it fast(ish). We’ll see how it goes.


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: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman (5/5)

27 Jun

I wish I could remember who recommended this book to me so I could thank him. I think it was another blogger so thank you, fellow bloggers, for this awesome recommendation. I loved the time period and I adored the main character. This book was funny and a great example of a strong voice.

Cover Image via Goodreads

Cover Image via Goodreads

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman

Summary from Goodreads:

In 1913, little Malka Treynovsky flees Russia with her family. Bedazzled by tales of gold and movie stardom, she tricks them into buying tickets for America. Yet no sooner do they land on the squalid Lower East Side of Manhattan, than Malka is crippled and abandoned in the street.

Taken in by a tough-loving Italian ices peddler, she manages to survive through cunning and inventiveness. As she learns the secrets of his trade, she begins to shape her own destiny. She falls in love with a gorgeous, illiterate radical named Albert, and they set off across America in an ice cream truck. Slowly, she transforms herself into Lillian Dunkle, “The Ice Cream Queen” — doyenne of an empire of ice cream franchises and a celebrated television personality.

Lillian’s rise to fame and fortune spans seventy years and is inextricably linked to the course of American history itself, from Prohibition to the disco days of Studio 54. Yet Lillian Dunkle is nothing like the whimsical motherly persona she crafts for herself in the media. Conniving, profane, and irreverent, she is a supremely complex woman who prefers a good stiff drink to an ice cream cone. And when her past begins to catch up with her, everything she has spent her life building is at stake.

Lillian was amazing. I loved her sarcastic comments and brutally honest dialogue. She and Bert were great together and the flash-forwards to the present with Jason always made me laugh. That’s not at all to say Lillian’s life was easy. She had to work really hard for what she got and overcome a lot of stereotyping because of her disability. She was really strong though I didn’t like how she’d bend the truth to get what she wanted sometimes. The way she addressed her reader as ‘darlings’ drew me in and I really liked the way Gilman gave Lil a strong voice. She had catch phrases on her commercials so it only made sense she used those catch phrases when speaking to her audience.

Lillian was very real to me. She reminded me a lot of business cases I’ve read through my school career about good businesses gone bad. I loved how her grief made her do some dumb things and she had to pay for them. She was flawed to be sure, but she was smart, just not in the traditional sense: more cunning than smart. I didn’t like how she tricked Bert and had Isaac to keep him at home. I thought that was too manipulative.

Of course, Lil was my favorite character. The only other character we get a lot of detail on is Bert and while he’s lovable, he’s a sidekick in Lillian’s story. Lil does some stupid things, but she’s always able to explain why. She does everything for a good, motivated reason which makes her very likable by the reader. She’s colorful and flawed and sometimes she redeems herself and sometimes she doesn’t but she rarely apologizes for it.

I related to Lil and Bert when they were first starting their business. My husband and I got married while he was student teaching and I was in a new job that wasn’t motivating me. We were tight with money and we ate the same things day after day because we’d bought it in bulk. It was fun to see that being poor newlyweds hasn’t changed much since the 30s.

Susan Jane GIlman Image via the author's website

Susan Jane Gilman
Image via the author’s website

Lil and Bert starting their business was my favorite part of the book. Bert was such an engineer but his dyslexia (I’m fairly sure that’s what we’d call it nowadays) kept him from being educated. He and Lil hit a lucky break when the got their first store from the knickknack owners, but it was exactly what they needed and they had to make the best of it. Lil was smart realizing how America was going to change with freeways and car culture. The two made a great team and it was fun to watch it take off.

Minor spoiler alert here, so skip this paragraph to miss it. It was hard to keep reading the story after Bert died. You have an inkling from the beginning that he was dead and not just ‘gone from the picture,’ but finally getting around to how it happened was heartbreaking. I think about what I’d do if I lost a family member or I passed away after a fight and I hate to leave when there are bad words between me and someone I love. It was worse seeing how Lillian fell apart after Bert was gone. As much as she spoke about being the brains of the business and secretly running the whole thing, she needed Bert and she didn’t realize that until he was gone.

I was nervous when I saw that the book was narrated by the author. I’ve never seen a fiction audiobook narrated by the author before. I think Gilman did it because no one else could tackle the Italian-Jewish grandmother voice she was going for. It was great! Gilman might not have a future in narrating unless there’s a big demand for Italian grandmothers speaking in Yiddish. She helped give Lillian the voice she needed.

Lillian had to learn the value of family in a hard way. She lost Bert and was devastated by it, not realizing that it would hurt her so much. She’d lost her parents, brother, and sisters but didn’t realize how much it could hurt her to lose another. Even after her father hurt her, it was hard for Lillian to drop him. I think the worst part about going to jail for her would be leaving Jason for an extended length of time. She came to realize that her family was important to her, even when she was angry with Isaac because they wouldn’t leave her. That’s why Flora was so important.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book is one of the best examples of voice I’ve read in a long time. Lillian has a distinct way of speaking that’s very specific to her and it’s wonderful to read it. You can hear someone telling you the story (even if it wasn’t an audiobook, I think I would) and it sounds like they’re sitting next to you. I published a short story where I had to work on this and it’s much harder than it sounds!

A fun read and a great book. A full 5 out of 5 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:
Susan Jane Gilman- The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street (2014) | My Book Bag
Review of The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman | The Queen’s Quill Review
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street: Sinfully Delicious | Book Perfume

WWW Wednesday, 22-June-2016

22 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!

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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.


DanteCurrently reading: I thought about reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. I had a lot of working lunches last week and didn’t really have the time to pull it out. I might have accidentally gotten an eReader so that might speed things up…
I’m still really enjoying The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. The audiobook is superb and I’m starting to see the connections between the current lawsuit she’s facing and the progressing memoir toward that point in time. I’m really looking forward to finding out how they converge.
I started In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches and I’m a bit iffy on it. It started off really far from the plot promised and it’s very… blatant? The main characters so far are gruff men who are honest about what they’re doing and feeling and it’s not always comfortable to read.

27 Days_HighResRecently finished: I finished 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa! I wish I’d been able to finish it a bit faster, but that’s life. Whatever, haha. School is almost over and I’ll be able to get through these faster. This was a really enjoyable book and I’m really blessed to have been part of the process and watch Kristine grow this book into the great work that it is.

I posted my review on Monday so please go check that out as well!

WingsReading Next: I’ll have to get back to book club books soon. Our next selection is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. I’m excited to say that this will hit the 1800s time period in my When Are You Reading? Challenge so this is a well-timed read for me. I’m not always a fan of such popular book-club-books so we’ll see how this one goes.


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, 15-June-2016

15 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.


BeastsCurrently reading: I think I read four pages of In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. School is still in session and going crazy. I keep telling myself it will be over in two weeks, but it’s really three more.
I’m getting to the end of 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa. I said last week I’d try to have it finished this week but with my bike event and school, that hasn’t happened. Next week?
I’m about half way done with The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. I kept laughing during a run with a friend while listening to this book. The author does a great job narrating it and I’ve really enjoyed the characters so far.

Recently finished: …Nothing. It’s been a crazy week, I hope to have more to report soon!

I posted a review of The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose. I really liked this book and gave it a full 5 out of 5 Stars.

DanteReading Next:  In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches is still my plan. One of my book clubs is off for the summer so I’m hoping to enjoy some books of my own choosing for a bit now!


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, 8-June-2016

8 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.


IceCreamCurrently reading: Nothing with In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson. There hasn’t been much time when I’m just sitting around lately. My semester is getting crazy and it will be a while before I have any calmness again.
I’m about 2/3 of the way through 27 Days to Midnight by Kristine Kruppa, I wanted to finish it over the weekend but this was a busy one for me. I’ll try to get through it before my post next week.
I started a new audiobook, The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman. I forget who recommended this one to me but I have no doubt it’s because I love historical fiction. I was hesitant when I heard the author narrated it herself, but she’s been doing a great job.

DiscipleRecently finished: I finished The Unlikely Disciple by Kevin Roose late last Wednesday. I really enjoyed this book and Roose’s style. He reminds me of A.J. Jacobs, who he trained under and who is one of my favorite writers. It was a treat of a book. My review will be up tomorrow.

I posted my review of Harry Potter y el misterio del principe on Monday. There’s not a lot to be said about this book that hasn’t been said already but pop on over and let me know how much you love it. The sixth book is my favorite of the movies and I watch it a lot but I think this is only my second time through the book.

DanteReading Next: I’ve changed my mind again. I went to another bookstore in West Michigan and found another book that I’ve been waiting to read for ages so now I plan to pick up In the Hand of Dante by Nick Tosches which has been on my list since October 2012! I went through a phase when I was obsessed with Dante’s Inferno and this intrigued me because of that. It reminded me of Matthew Pearl’s The Dante Club so I wanted to grab this one.


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!