Tag Archives: Where Are You Reading

Challenge Update, December

1 Jan

I’ll post a year-in-review soon, but it will be different from this one. With this, I want to focus on my challenges only. And hey, I did alright. I finished another challenge (win) and made progress on the one I didn’t expect to finish. Good overall.  You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in December:

These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner (4/5)
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (5/5)
Paper Towns by John Green (3/5)
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (4/5)
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (5/5)
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce (2/5)
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (5/5)

I owe you a few reviews in the new year.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

13/13- COMPLETE
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and you can see that it’s filled in. I’m done! I’m excited to have finished this challenge. I don’t think I’ll write a reflection about doing it, but I enjoyed this challenge. I love historical fiction. I’m hosting it again next year so if you want to do a great historical fiction challenge, go ahead and read all about it.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

23/50 (+18)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I didn’t even make it half way. My map is up to date and I’d never realized how many books take place in New England, California, and the UK. This has made me appreciate unique settings and I get excited when books are set in my home state of Michigan.

I added two states this month but no countries. I got Florida (Paper Towns) and Oklahoma (Ready Player One).

Goodreads Challenge

62/35

DESTROYED!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, November

2 Dec

Okay, some progress. It’s minimal-ish. I’m right in the middle of the book that will finish the Historical Fiction challenge so I’m looking forward to being able to call that one DONE before the end of the year.  You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (4/5)
The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (4/5)
The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri (5/5)
The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver (5/5)

Only two reviews behind! (For now.)

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. And I promise I’ll fill in the last period within the week! I’m over halfway through a book that fits right in and I’m loving it so it’s flying! So pumped.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

21/50 (+18)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows some clusters, but I’m trying to spread it out.

Yay for states! I’ve added three states with this months completions: Missouri (Gone Girl), Massachusetts (The Namesake) and Arizona (The Bean Trees). The Space Between Us didn’t add anything because I’d already read a book set in India.

Goodreads Challenge

55/35

DONE! I’m so awesome. Don’t mess with me.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, October

3 Nov

Not much challenge progress this month, really. But you know what? I’m in the middle of a few books now that I’m excited about and I think that’s saying a lot, so no regrets. #YOLO (Do people still say that?)  You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen (4/5)
Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King (1/5)

Yes, this is slightly pathetic. No, I don’t want to talk about it (meanie).

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. However, there is only one time period left and I have a plan to fill it, which it seems I’ll get to around December. So I do plan to complete this one, than you all very much!

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

18/50 (+18)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows some clusters, but I’m trying to spread it out.

Here’s some progress! I added one new state, Washington with The Compound and a foreign country (Italy with Michelangelo and please don’t make me retype this title).

Goodreads Challenge

51/35

DONE! I’m so awesome. Don’t mess with me.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, September

2 Oct

I have a plan to complete my challenges and it seems to be working well. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in September:

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (2/5)
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (5/5)
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka (4/5)
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (3/5)
Canada by Richard Ford (3/5)
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (3/5)

And for the record, this is me caught up on reviews. Just saying.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

12/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. BUT WAIT! I filled in two time periods this month. Yes, I was a rock star. Under the Wide and Starry Sky filled in the 1800-1889 period, and The Lady of the Rivers filled in the 1400-1499. Fourteen hundreds were a lot harder than I expected, but Gregory is always good for some solid British monarchy stories.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

17/50 (+17)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows some clusters, but I’m trying to spread it out.

I added three whole states! I guess I’m making bigger strides on this than I thought. I added Minnesota (Orphan Train), Vermont (We Have Always Lived in the Castle, per a website about Jackson that she based all her stories on her hometown), and Montana (Canada, it makes sense when you read it). Not bad at all!

I’ve also added one new foreign country, Samoa (Beneath the Wide and Starry Sky). It was a struggle to pick a place for this one, but I think this makes the most sense.

Goodreads Challenge

49/35

DONE! I’m so awesome.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, August

1 Sep

I pushed really hard this month on making some challenge progress and I think it paid off! You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in August:

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (3/5)
Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn (5/5)
Looking for Alaska by John Green (4/5)
Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick (3/5)
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (4/5)
Beneath A Marble Sky by John Shors (3/5)
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (5/5)

(Yes, I’m behind on reviews. No, you can’t be mad at me.)

When Are You Reading? Challenge

10/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. However, I filled in two time periods this month! The Things They Carried filled out 1950-1969 and Beneath a Marble Sky was the 1600s. I’m in the middle of a book now that will fill 1800-1889 and I have a library hold for the 1400s. Look at me go!

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

14/50 (+16)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows some clusters, but I’m trying to spread it out.

I added three whole states! That’s a big jump for me in one month, which I’m pretty proud of. I added Alabama (Looking for Alaska), New Jersey (Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock), and South Carolina (Ella Minnow Pea). And on top of that, I added three foreign countries: Wales, UK (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), Vietnam (The Things They Carried), and India (Beneath a Marble Sky).

In essence, each book I read had a different and new setting this month. Well, except Okay for Now, but that’s still really good! Excuse me while I pat myself on the back.

Goodreads Challenge

43/35

DONE! I’m so awesome.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

Also! Remember that the next Read Along will be beginning soon! To see what that’s about, check out this post and send me an email to sign up!

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!

Challenge Update, July

4 Aug

The year is half over: more than half over. And I’m… well I’m making progress. Some are better than others. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books read in May:

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson (3/5)
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (3/5)
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2/5)
The Coward by Kyle R Bullock (3/5)
The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe (3/5)
The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen (3/5)

When Are You Reading? Challenge

8/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and it’s pretty obvious I’ve been reading a lot of contemporary. But I’m working on it! I’m in the middle of a book for 1950-1969 and I finished a 1500s book! One is better than none, right?

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

11/50 (+13)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows that I’ve read a lot of books with a foreign setting and books centered on the East Coast. I don’t know why. I was able to add Colorado as a state with Fast Food Nation and for foreign countries I added North Korea with The Orphan Master’s Son, Spain with The Creation of Eve, and Canada with The Maze Runner. I know it doesn’t say it’s set in Canada, but my husband and I talked about the sequels and we think this is a pretty safe bet.

Goodreads Challenge

36/35

DONE! I’m done with a challenge! I’m so happy to have this one off my back. I’m not going to raise my goal because it feels so great to say I’M DONE!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, June

1 Jul

Summer’s here and the time is right for reading by the pool, writing outside, and being WAY TOO BUSY ON WEEKENDS. Plus, its half way through the year so I should be half way through all of my challenges, right? No. So yeah, my challenges are going… but not fast. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books read in May:

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian (Review coming Friday)
O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn
A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and you can see that I finally filled in another section! I read two books from the 1910-1929 period this month; O, Africa! and The Sandcastle Girls. Go me! I’m still on pace for this and I’ve decided to focus on it for the next few months. I’ve chosen books from each period that are already on my shelf and I’m going to try to get through them soon.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

10/50 (+10)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I’m not focusing enough on American settings. My map shows that I’ve read a lot of books with a foreign setting and that’s my progress for this month. I didn’t add any new states, but I did add three foreign countries; Syria, Saudi Arabia, and DR Congo. I believe that having 10 foreign countries qualifies me for some sort of ‘bonus point’ win so I’ll have to see how Sheila counts that.

Goodreads Challenge

30/35
I’m a modest 14 ahead of schedule now. Wow! I did not see this coming. I thought I was on a slower pace than I was last year and while that’s true, it’s not by much! I’m going to keep the 35, but I think I’ll finish it in the next month or two unless something serious happens.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, May

2 Jun

Summer is finally here and May is over! I just spent some time at the pool and it was wonderful. I can’t wait for more pool-side reading! So let me update you on those pesky challenges which I’m not too great at fulfilling. You can check out my reading challenges any time on my challenge page.

Books read in May:

Cabin Pressure by Josh Wolk
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
The Geography of Memory by Jeanne Murray Walker

When Are You Reading? Challenge

6/13
This is my challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline tracks when my books take place and you can see that it’s a bit contemporary heavy. This is kind of unlike me so I’m surprised. I love historical fiction, but I haven’t been reading a lot of it. The book I hope to tackle next will be set in the 1920s so I have the potential for one more but the books I’m reading now won’t help much. No progress this month.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

10/50 (+7)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I took a little hop from 8 (+5). My map shows that I strangely read books set in New York and California disproportionately. I am happy to report that I added two new states and two new countries this month and I’m having a lot more success than I thought I would with this challenge. So I’ll check off Texas and Maine as well as Afghanistan and Japan. Woo!

Goodreads Challenge

24/35
I’m 10 ahead of schedule! I thought I’d start on some long audiobooks, but they’re all checked out from the library when I want to start them and I don’t plan well enough to place holds. I’ve got a few more short books lined up next so this may continue to be well ahead of pace. Is it about time to push out my goal? I’m thinking it might be!

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Challenge Update, April

1 May

March is behind us so it’s time to update you on how my challenges are going! You can check out my reading challenges any time on my challenge page.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

6/13
This is my own challenge to read a book from 13 different time periods. You can read about it here. My timeline is starting to fill in nicely but it’s a bit contemporary heavy. I didn’t add a single time period during April; not one!. I’m well ahead of pace for this one so I’m not too worried about finish it, but I’ll have to make some more pointed book choices to finish it on time. Of the books I’m reading now, I don’t think any will fill in a new time period. They’re all contemporary or future. I’ll have to see how my next round of books goes.

Where Are You Reading? Challenge

8/50 (+5)
Hosted by Sheila. In the challenge to read a book from every state, I took a little hop from 7 (+3). My map is looking pretty cool, though! I added New Hampshire for states and my new foreign countries were Afghanistan and wherever The City and the City takes place. I’m guessing that The City and City takes place in the Ukraine or somewhere else around there geographically. The language seemed to be influenced by German and Russian and the other countries they referred to were in that geographic region. It’s my best guess.

Goodreads Challenge

20/35
I’m 9 ahead of schedule! I’m excited about being so far along. I’m going to tackle Pillars of the Earth soon and I might start a carpool so my audiobook pace has the potential to slow way down. But for now, I’m staying strong and plowing ahead! I don’t think I’ll adjust my goal until I know how this carpool situation will affect my listening time.

How are your challenges going? I hope you’re not too far off pace just yet! If you want any more information about the challenges I’m doing or you’d like to join me, leave a comment and check out the links. There’s also information in my Challenges tab.

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!

Review: Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian (5/5). A family’s worst nightmare is having a vegan in the house

28 Apr

This is yet another example of a book I never would have picked up if it weren’t for my book club. I’m so glad to have these experiences because they’ve let me to some amazing books.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian

A hunting riffle goes off on the last night of July in a small New Hampshire town and changes the lives of the Seton family. The bullet strikes Spencer McCullough in the shoulder, permanently injuring him for life and rendering his limb useless. The shooter is none other than his twelve-year-old daughter, Charlotte who thought she was shooting the deer that tore up the family garden. The gun belongs to Spencer’s brother-in-law and Charlotte’s uncle, John Seton. The following pages unravel the story of how the daughter of an animal rights activist came to be shooting at deer and who is really to blame in this lamentable but very real family tragedy.

I was very reluctant to dive into this book. The reviews I saw on Goodreads were polarized and the plot seemed like it would be a little winding and wordy. I realized quickly that I didn’t care how wordy the story was because I loved every single word. I thought the sentences were beautiful and the characters were dynamic and deep and I just feel in love with it. I started reading faster and faster to see how the family would resolve their differences before the book ended and I’m really happy with how it happened.

Part of what made this book so awesome for me were the well-developed characters. Charlotte reminded me of all the girls in middle school that drove me crazy and I could picture her in my head. I sympathized with Catherine’s struggles to make herself happy midst her husband’s obsessive veganism. I cheered for John to forgive himself as a task he put off had disastrous consequences and someone had to be blamed. Everyone was painted so vividly that I was cheering for them all and for their problems to be resolved so that the family could be reunited.

Spencer was my favorite character. I hated him and loved him at different points in the book. At the beginning, I really hated him because I felt he was putting his family aside for his career. When I see people at work who I think are doing this, I get mad. I think as Americans we work too hard and that it hurts our family lives and might be a contributing factor to the high divorce rate. I make a point to take time off for my husband and spending time with him.

After his accident, I felt bad for Spencer. My mom had a very traumatic injury when I was young and I loved how real his struggle to function was. When you’re severely injured, the stupidest things are staggeringly difficult. Putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, opening a jar, and simply taking a shower require monstrous effort and help. I saw my mom go through this and went through it myself after a hip surgery while in college.

Once Spencer started realizing what he had done to his family with his actions before the accident, I liked him. And boy did I really like him. I loved that he got his priorities sorted out and that he was able to do it in such a dramatic way. He almost ruined his career for the sake of his family but he knew he needed to do that. I loved Charlotte’s devotion to her father at the end and her love for him really helped me love him, too.

As I said, I saw my mother go through a traumatic accident and because of this I could relate to Charlotte. I was about her age (12/13) when it happened and as a child, you want to help but feel very helpless. There was only so much you can do when you’re small, don’t have money, and can’t drive, but you do as much as you can. Charlotte couldn’t imagine leaving her father to fend for himself while he was still figuring out the world and I can completely understand that.

I related to Catherine on a different level. I loved that she had to hide that she ate meat. It’s something that seems so normal to most people and yet in her family, it was taboo. I can’t think of a specific example, but I think we all have something that we wouldn’t mind flaunting in front of friends but hide from our families (or vice versa). I adored her struggle.

I’m not sure I had a ‘favorite’ part of the book. There were parts I thought were so real to life they scared me, but I’m not sure if they were my favorites. I liked the scene where Charlotte and Willow are at the bonfire. I also really liked how Spencer recalls working at the lobster restaurant. My ‘favorite ‘ parts of this book were lines and scenes more than plot points.

I didn’t like the part of the book immediately following the accident. I hated how John blamed himself so much and how Spencer was being moody and angry. It was realistic, but so frustrating. I understand that people involved in such a traumatic event wouldn’t want to start talking to each other right away, but wading through their emotional baggage was tolling.

The most obvious topic to discuss with this book is guilt. Many of the characters feel guilty for something and are suffering from the effects of that guilt in the book. Charlotte feels guilty for shooting her father. Willow feels guilt for not telling anyone about the drugs and alcohol surrounding the accident. John feels guilty for not taking better care of his rifle. Catherine feels guilty for eating meat and wanting to leave her injured husband. Spencer’s guilt is for his dependence on his family. All of the characters have an internal struggle to deal with this weight and eventually ‘get off their chests’ what’s holding them back.

I loved the roll Nan played in the book. She was the life force of the family in the exposition; getting them to move and interact and enjoy each other. After the accident, she felt lost and unneeded while she was still in New Hampshire. It was only when she returned to New York that the families could start to communicate again, using her as a means of communication. When they had talked to each other enough and resolved their problems, Nan’s role in the book was done and she could leave gracefully. I loved this author’s technique.

Writer’s Takeaway: I’m not normally a reader who enjoys character studies but I adored this book. I think how Bohjalian combined his character study with a very action-packed event helped that. Even in books that talk about human nature, there still needs to be some motion.

I also loved his use of language. Everything was so well described and the pictures the book created were very real. The only complaint I have about the book is that in the sections that followed the girls, Charlotte and Willow, the language was equally as descriptive and I felt that the girls wouldn’t use such eloquent words. I’ve never heard a 13-year-old say ‘placid’ before and it struck me as odd.

A completely thrilling book that I adored. I can’t wait to meet Bohjalian on the 30th! A full 5 out of 5 stars.

This book covers ‘New Hampshire’ for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

Related Posts:
Before You Know Kindness Book Review | Book Club Queen
Before You Know Kindness – Book Review | Caribousmom
Recent Read: Before You Know Kindness | Grey Cat Blog

 

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