Tag Archives: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Challenge Update, September 2017

2 Oct

School started, football season started, and I haven’t seen my husband in a few days now. Life is certainly picking up! It’s making reading time even more valuable but I’m always excited to escape into books whenever I can. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in September:

Love in the Elephant Tent // Kathleen Cremonesi (4/5)
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao // Junot Diaz (4/5)
The Detroit Electric Scheme // D.E. Johnson (2/5)
Still Life // Louise Penny (4/5)
Armada // Ernest Cline (3/5)

This month went better than expected! With all of the craziness of life picking up, I wasn’t expecting to see so many books on this list but it feels good to know I can still get through so many! I have a few books I’m nearing the end of soon that will add to this for another long list next month!

When Are You Reading? Challenge

9/12
Well, no surprise that there’s no movement here. I have prioritized finishing this challenge so two of the books I’m currently reading will count here. Next month, this should read 11 and I’ll only have one more to finish. At least there’s a plan.

Goodreads Challenge

41/50
Still three books ahead and feeling good about this! Nine more books by Christmas should be a piece of cake. One less thing to worry about, haha.

Book of the Month

Cover image via Goodreads

I was blown away by Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao this month. I didn’t know anything about this book when I bought it at a used book sale but I’m really glad I did. Even though I ended up listening to the audio, I still loved the book and it’s one I’d recommend.

Added to my TBR

I’m down just a bit to 109. If I can break 100 before the new year, I’ll be ecstatic. But don’t bet on it!

  • Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks. This will be my final When Are You Reading? Challenge book for the year! It will be very exciting when I get to it.
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles. This is my next book club read so I’ll be starting it relatively soon. So many people have said it’s amazing so I’m really looking forward to it!

Personal Challenge

I mentioned in my challenge announcement post that I had some non-reading goals set for myself in 2017. I figured this would be a good place to keep myself accountable to those as well. Here goes!

  • Keep my 4.0 GPA: Only two papers back so far but looking good!
  • Knit blankets:  I had a friend announce that she was pregnant but it’s still too early to know the gender. This is my first friend to have her second since I started knitting blankets so I guess I’m setting the precedent that I’ll send one for each kid.
  • One race per month: My last triathlon of the season! It was also my second Olympic distance and my second time running this particular race. The water was calm, unlike the 1.5-foot waves from last year and it felt great! It was a bit cold, though, and I wished I had sleeves during the bike. There was only one other woman in my age group but I won! It felt nice to stand on top of the podium.
  • Get my novel out to beta readers: No one has sent me feedback from this last round. Even if they did, this is not the time of year I’d be able to get back to them. I think this challenge may fall flat until I finish school.

How were your challenges? I hope you made it. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2017, 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, 20-September-2017

20 Sep

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.


Currently reading: Armada by Ernest Cline is going really fast for me. I’m making time to read it a lot because I enjoy it so much. It seems a bit like Ender’s Game mixed with War Games so far. I hope he makes something else happen so it will stand out more.
I decided to go another direction with my next book and I started reading Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins. It’s a book I own that’s autographed, which means I don’t like to take it out of the house unless I absolutely have to. I think I’m going to be home mostly in the next few weeks so that won’t be an issue. Plus side, it’s set in the future! Yay for finding books to finish up my challenge.
I did start The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory though on audio instead of a physical book. I’m still too early to really give an opinion on it but my long runs are sure to get me through it fast!

Recently finishedI was able to finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson last week and got my post up on Monday! It feels good to finish a book and even better when I didn’t like the book and I’m finally through with it. I gave the book 2 out of 5 Stars.
I was able to finish Still Life by Louise Penny sooner than expected. I guess my long runs are paying off! I’ll have a post up about it tomorrow. In summary, I enjoyed this a lot more as it went on. It started off a little slow for me but the twists and turns had me itching to figure out the killer before the end! This will be a very different discussion for my book club, I wonder what kind of questions we can ask about a mystery compared to some more traditional literature.

My review for The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz went up last Thursday. I really enjoyed this book. Please go check out my review. I know a number of you had read it and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Oscar.

Reading Next: With how early on I am in my books, I haven’t really thought this through yet. I do need to read Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks. This will hit my final time period for the When Are You Reading? Challenge and I’ll be done! That’s likely to come next on audio. We’ll see about other formats.


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 Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz (4/5)

14 Sep

This was a title that I grabbed by chance at a used book sale. I’d heard of it so chances are it would be good, right? As it turns out, yes. And the reason I’d heard of it was that it won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Sometimes I need to trust my snap decisions more!

Cover image via Goodreads

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz

Summary from Goodreads:

Things have never been easy for Oscar, a sweet but disastrously overweight, lovesick Dominican ghetto nerd. From his home in New Jersey, where he lives with his old-world mother and rebellious sister, Oscar dreams of becoming the Dominican J. R. R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But he may never get what he wants, thanks to the Fukú-the curse that has haunted Oscar’s family for generations, dooming them to prison, torture, tragic accidents, and, above all, ill-starred love. Oscar, still waiting for his first kiss, is just its most recent victim.

I went into this book blind and it was a great way to do it. I had no idea what to expect of the book and wasn’t even aware it had won the Pulitzer until later. I picked it at the time because it was available on Overdrive without a hold. I was blown away. I really cared about Oscar, Lola, and Beli and I loved the voice Díaz wrote with. I’m really tempted to read more of his books but I’ll save that for a summer full of bad books when I need a pick-me-up.

Lola was the most realistic character to me. Everyone else seemed to have something a bit unbelievable about them, but Lola seemed like someone I might have known in high school. I loved the way she showed she cared about her brother even when she was fighting with her mother. I thought she was really fierce, independent, and brave. I wanted good things for her the entire book.

Beli was the most interesting person in the book. Her background was interesting and revealed at a good pace. She seemed so angry at first and then when you learned about her losses, she was someone I pitied. In the end, I still disliked her only because I sympathized most with Lola and I felt she was a bit overly harsh on Lola compared to Oscar.

Oscar’s nerdy obsessions were very relatable for me. I loved The Lord of the Rings in middle school and always wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have any luck with guys until high school when my friends starting dating in middle school. It felt awful and I can remember my feelings being a lot like Oscar’s in his high school years.

Junot Diaz
Image via NPR

I liked Oscar’s story during college best. Finding out Yunior was the narrator was fun and having Yunior share his life with Oscar was even better. I wanted to be mad at Yunior for how he treated Oscar but I think I would have felt similarly. I felt bad for Oscar when he fell into his depression, to be sure, but I thought his years in college said a lot about him and I enjoyed reading that part.

As much as I liked Beli’s back story, I didn’t like the section of the book focused on her. I don’t think it added as much to Oscar’s story and it seemed like the focus of the book should be on Oscar only because of the title. I would have liked to see a bit more time on him, not just building the characters around him. Sure, the ending might not have been as impactful, but I think Beli’s story could have been at least shortened.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Jonathan Davis. I thought Davis was amazing. He did great accents for the characters and he nailed the Spanish sections of the book. La Inca was sassy when she needed to be and Lola yelled when needed. I was worried about a man bringing the right emotion to these female characters but he really nailed it.

I think the wondrous thing about Oscar’s life is how he chose to end it. It’s fairly clear that he knew his actions were going to get him killed in the end. I think the fact he chose to end his life for a prostitute he didn’t know that well says a lot about him. He was very honorable, as much as it pained him at times. And he placed a lot of value on truth and the beauty of life. No one else in his life seemed to understand this.

Writer’s Takeaway: Flipping through my copy, it seems Díaz was with formatting. I could sense this a little in listening to it. It seemed there were some sudden jumps and it was a little hard to follow how the sections were broken up. Looking at it now, the lack of quotation marks probably would have driven me crazy. Some readers might have been deterred because of the style, even if the story is amazing.

I really enjoyed this book and I completely understand why it earned the accolades it did. 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:
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz | Zeitgeist Reviews

WWW Wednesday, 13-September-2017

13 Sep

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.


Currently reading: I think I’ll finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson tonight. I’m so close to the end. I honestly can’t wait for it to be over, I’m not a big fan of this book.
I started listening to Still Life by Louise Penny on audio on Friday. The first chapter was a lot of flashbacks and I couldn’t get into it. The second chapter is focusing more on the murder and it’s holding my attention a lot more. I think I’ll start to like it as long as it stays in this timeline.
I started the ebook of Armada by Ernest Cline. To be honest, I thought this one would be set in the future and would fulfill that time period for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I was slightly disappointed to find out it’s set in modern times, but I’m going to read it anyway. Cline won me over with Ready Player One so I’m excited to see what else he’s thought up. Any recommendations for a book set in the future?

Recently finishedI finally finished Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. The book was really good and how long it took me to read should be no reflection on the quality of the book! I posted my review yesterday so please go check that out. I gave the book 4 out of 5 Stars.
I got through The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz faster than I thought. It turns out the audiobook I borrowed had two Diaz books on it. I only listened to Oscar and then returned it, I was too anxious to get to my next title! I’ll have a review of it up tomorrow.

Reading Next: My next physical book will be The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory. I debated doing this one on audiobook but I think it will be nice to have this one physically in my hand. I do love a good Gregory book when I have the time.


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, 6-September-2017

6 Sep

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 guys, I honestly think I’ll finish Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi before next week. Seriously. I might even finish it today! How crazy is this?!
Good progress on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’ll be running even more in the next few weeks as I train for my first half marathon so I expect to finish this one soon and move through a few more audiobooks quickly, too!
I’m pushing myself to finish The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson. I’m not enjoying it much at all but I feel the need to finish it with how far I’ve come. I’m looking forward to a new book, though!

Recently finished: Ugh, yet again nothing. I really do think I’ll make progress next week, though! It will feel so good when I get to put a book in this section.

Reading Next: I plan to listen to Still Life by Louise Penny on audio as soon as I can. I need to get through some physical books so I’m really glad this one is available on audio.
I need to start focusing on my historical fiction challenge so next up for me will be The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory. It fulfills the 1500s time period which I’m really in need of. Gregory usually comes through for a book in this challenge so I’m excited to pick it up soon!


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, 30-August-2017

30 Aug

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’m making great progress with Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi but until I finish it, I have nothing to show for it! I really think it will be soon but with school starting tomorrow, maybe I shouldn’t be as hopeful.
I’m still enjoying The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I had a cold over the weekend which cut out some long runs that would have given me some great progress on this one. Slowed down, but I’m not stopping! I’ll keep pushing through it.
I slowed down with The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson between my illness and my vacation to New Orleans. I’m back at it now and I think I’ll finish it in the next two weeks.

Recently finished: Nothing! It was a slow week reading for me so I’m not surprised but I wish I’d been able to get through something!

I did post a review for Chemistry on Monday so please check that out!

Reading Next: I’m back to book club selections it looks like. Next up is Still Life by Louise Penny. I don’t think we’ve read a mystery together for some time so I’m really looking forward to 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!

WWW Wednesday, 23-August-2017

23 Aug

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 still working on Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi. I checked yesterday and I’m on chapter 34 of 40 so I really do promise I’ll finish this book!
I started a new audiobook while on vacation, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I’m really enjoying it so far and I’m looking forward to continuing to learn how wondrous Oscar’s life is.
I have a new physical book as well, The Detroit Electric Scheme by D.E. Johnson. It’s fun to read a book set in your town, but I’m having some issues with this book already. It’s not enough to stop me from reading it, but it will make for a long review.

Recently finishedI was able to finish Chemistry by Weike Wang on the plane to New Orleans. I’m excited to put up a review next week and see if I can talk to Weike about the book a little and share with you all.

Two reviews to share! I posted a review of I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum on Monday. I enjoyed the book but it wasn’t what I was expecting and I think that threw it off for me. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also posted a review of Empire Falls by Richard Russo yesterday. I understand why this book won the Pulitzer and now I want to see the HBO mini-series! Does aAnyone know if it’s easy to get a copy of that?

Reading Next: It turns out I am going to the conference I mentioned in my last post so I will not be reading for my upcoming book club. Instead, I’ll likely read My Jesus Year by Benyamin Cohen. It feels good to knock some of my own books off my TBR, especially as I build it up while traveling.


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!