Tag Archives: William Kent Krueger

Book Club Reflection: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

10 Sep

My book club met recently to talk about a book I adored, Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Thankfully I’m not completely out on my own and almost everyone in our group really liked the book.

Krueger is primarily a mystery writer and has a series focusing on the Ojibwas. He is a back-to-back Anthony Award winner, an award given to mystery writers. He wakes up at 5:30 AM and writes long-hand in wire-bound notebooks. Krueger did not finish his degree at Stanford after he was forced to leave due to some student protests he participated in. He currently lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The first thing to talk about was Bobby Cole’s death. We were all hoping Doyle was somehow involved and that there was a dark side to him after all. With all the sneaking around he was doing, we wanted something more to be afoot. We felt the explanation that Cole was just a spacy kid to be a bit vague and didn’t feel that mystery was completely solved.

Karl’s death was a surprise to us all, too. We debated if it was an accident or suicide. From what we know, both are plausible. We hoped Jake didn’t feel responsible for Karl’s death. He was trying to help Karl by explaining he wasn’t a murderer, he was simply a ‘faggot.’ Too bad he didn’t know what he was saying. He wanted to help so badly.

The Drum family took up most of our discussion. Frank was a great narrator. He was very understanding of people’s differences and gave us a rather unbiased view of people in town. He only briefly mentioned his sister’s harelip and his brother’s stuttering never seemed to phase him. Karl’s sexuality never made him think differently. A lot of people weren’t the person others thought they were and Frank helped the reader see through that. He and Jake were under a lot of pressure to be the perfect sons of a minister and they dealt with the pressure rather well.

Ruth dominated the second half of the book. She never wanted to be a pastor’s wife and felt she gave everything up for Nathan and his way of life. She thought of him as God and she was angry with God and took it out on Nathan. Nathan clearly cared more for his wife than she did for him. It was hard to see how much she pined for the life she could have had with Emil. She seemed to keep her smoking and drinking inside the house as much as possible until Ariel’s death but it seems some people still noticed and didn’t think that was appropriate for the minister’s wife. Ruth is the last one who would care.

In a way, we felt Emil was responsible for the whole book. If he’d never left Ruth, if he’d left Ariel well enough alone, all the tragedy could have been avoided.

I can’t recommend this one highly enough. We all gave it two thumbs up. Our next book has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, I’ve already read it and feel it’s a worthy follower. Until next time, write on.

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!

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Challenge Update, August 2018

4 Sep

This was my chill month. It was supposed to be time to relax after my vacation before I start class tonight. I think I can say it was pretty chill. I can’t say reading was always a top priority but I got through a fair amount. I’m happy with it at least. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in August:

The Feminine Mystique // Betty Friedan
The Joy Luck Club // Amy Tan
Dreams of Joy // Lisa See
Ordinary Grace // William Kent Krueger

Well, it could be worse. I’ve had a few too many slow months in a row, though. I need to pick it up though this is not a good time for me to try reading more. This is when my reading usually slows down. I’m going to need a plan. Maybe a read-a-thon is in order?

When Are You Reading? Challenge

7/12
Nothing this month. The plan is underway to knock this out by the end of the year so I’m feeling confident that it will happen! Two more are in process now and the final two have been picked out.

Goodreads Challenge

31/55
I’m still five books behind! I’ve finished one more this month, so that should be four, but I’m still hurting in this department. I think it’s time to start picking short books on purpose to get myself in line with this goal!

Book of the Month

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger is a clear winner for me. The writing was incredible and it’s made me want to look into everything the author’s written. That’s a clear sign of a good book! My entire book club loved it as well, which I’ll be writing about next week.

Added to my TBR

89! This is incredible and I’m so happy to have brought it down so much. I only had one addition this month so I’m feeling pretty good.

  • The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson. This was recommended to me by another blogger when I gushed about how much I loved the plot structure of The Post Birthday World. It doesn’t hurt that it focuses around books!

Personal Challenge

I used these monthly posts to keep myself accountable to my personal goals for 2017 and I’m excited to do that again this year. You all were so supportive before.

  • Graduate and keep my 4.0- My final class starts today. Wish me luck!
  • Travel to Europe with my husband- DONE! I talked about it last week with my Off Topic Thursday so check that out for details.
  • Complete a race per month- I didn’t plan well for this month. I had two races in the same weekend! Saturday was a 5-mile race. A friend of mine asked me to run it with her so we went her pace and I didn’t push myself. On Sunday, I had a 5K swim race I’ve been training hard for this summer. It went really well! This was only my second time doing the distance and I was 38 minutes faster! It was a completely different course with no current which I can attribute 20 minutes of that droppage to, but I’m blown away with the rest. Can’t wait for that one next year!
  • Complete a 2018 Weather Blanket- I caught up to August 18th. I’ll let myself get behind again before I catch up.

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 2018, 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!

WWW Wednesday, 29-August-2018

29 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 found out that Bel Canto by Ann Patchett is being turned into a movie soon and now I’m even more eager to finish it up. I hope I get the ebook back soon!
I’ve been making a point of moving forward with The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar so I’ll be done when I get my hold on Bel Canto back. I’m enjoying it a lot and I look forward to seeing where Umrigar goes with these characters.
I find myself making up excuses to drive so I can listen to The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I love this book. These characters remind me of myself as a teenager and talk about a lot of fears and concerns I have about racial relations in the US. I’m glad this book is getting so much attention, it’s very deserved.
I’m enjoying The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri but it’s not what I expected. The last novel I read by her was focused on familial relationships and traditions and this one seems very political so far. I think that will lessen a bit, but the beginning had a very political feel to it. We’ll see how this one goes.
I followed my plans and picked up The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl from my shelf. This one has mixed reviews but I’m being optimistic and I’m excited to cross off the 1800s from my reading challenge list.

Recently finished: I finished Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger on Thursday and I absolutely loved it! My review went up Monday, the same day my book club met to discuss the book. Look out for a few more posts about this one and know it comes with a strong recommendation!

Reading Next: No plans at this time. I’m in the middle of a lot of these books. I think I’ll need an audiobook next in my car. I created a list of books that will get me through the rest of my reading challenge but I haven’t decided which of them to start 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!

Book Review: Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (5/5)

27 Aug

Here is another reason I’m in a book club. I’d never heard of this book and never would have picked it up before my book club selected it for this month. The author is new to me and I’m so excited to have found him. I loved the story and the characters, not to mention the amazing writing.

Cover image via Goodreads

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Summary from Goodreads:

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were at the ready at Halderson’s Drug Store soda counter, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope for a country with a new, young president. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a summer in which death assumed many forms.

When tragedy unexpectedly comes to call on his family, which includes his Methodist minister father, his passionate, artistic mother, Juilliard-bound older sister, and wise-beyond-his years kid brother, Frank finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal.

This book knocked me off my feet a bit. I wasn’t ready to dive into it and enjoy it as much as I did. I had no expectations going in and, as is normal for me, I didn’t read the summary of it before I jumped in. I love finding books this way because I feel sometimes the summary on the back takes away a lot of the suspense depending on how soon major events happen. Knowing nothing and going in blind made this book all the better.

I thought the characters were true to life and I loved how different they all were and how they had their own struggles. Every character was well-rounded.

Jake was easily my favorite character. He was so devoted to his older brother that he was around and involved in much of the book. He was also a very moral character and obviously loved his family fiercely. He went through a major event in his life during the course of the book, much as Frank did. The loss that their family suffered change people and I felt Jake had a really realistic way of dealing with that trauma. I also enjoyed how he and Frank were able to hear things and tag along to many things in the town because they were good kids and how much that served them over the course of the summer.

I most closely related to Frank and Jake. I feel closer to childhood than adulthood despite my age and I could remember the feeling of being young and feeling like you’re old enough for something and finally being given the benefit of the doubt and trusted. I think the summer of the novel is the beginning of that for Frank and he feels like he’s an adult at the beginning of the summer. By the end of it, he’s gone through the emotional maturity to go along with it and is more of an adult than would have happened without the events of the summer.

William Kent Krueger
Image via Goodreads

I’m going to be a bit vague about this so as not to ruin it. I thought the events after the third death were the most interesting. The way Frank, Jake, and their family dealt with it were very raw and felt real to me. I’ve never gone through something like that but can understand how difficult it would be to process that kind of loss. It wasn’t a happy moment by any means, but well written and a time that jumped off the page and sucked me into the story.

Of the deaths in this book, it was really the third and fourth I felt were significant. The other three seemed a bit superfluous and seemed a bit like filler to me. It set a tone and a mood, but maybe one could have done that? Another three was a bit much.

Krueger was able to address a lot of themes in such a short book. The ideas of family, growing up, and faith all make their ways into Frank’s summer. His family seems fractured at times, especially with his mother. She sometimes feels like she settled in her marriage like she could have done better and married someone of a higher caliber. The children sometimes feel like they’re not as loved because of it. Frank and Jake are forced to grow up as the summer forces them to confront that there are bad things in the world after all and those bad things can happen to them. The struggle with faith that their mother has contrasts well against the rock-hard faith of Jake and their father.

Writer’s Takeaway: Krueger drew me in with the tension he built. I kept waiting for something bad to happen and I didn’t have to wait long but when I found out something worse was coming, I was hooked. I loved how he paced the story and how he kept it going over the whole novel. While there was a lot of external tension, the character-driven plot was amazing and I think I need to look into more Krueger books.

This is one of the best books I’ve read in a while. Five 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:
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger | addyfran
Review of “Ordinary Grace” by William Kent Krueger | Rhapsody in Books Weblog

WWW Wednesday, 22-August-2018

22 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: Nothing with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I hope I can get this back soon!
I’m making decent progress in The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar considering it’s an ebook and I move through those so slowly. I bet it’s still another month before I finish, though.
I’m in love with Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I honestly thought I might have it finished but I’ll say next week now. I might even finish it today!
I adore The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. This book is so powerful but so approachable and it’s really making me think. It will be great for our book club discussion and I’m excited to see how the movie adaptation comes out.
I’ve moved surprisingly slowly through The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I haven’t run as much as I normally do and I’m not cooking as much as I’d like, both of which could explain it. I hope to make some more progress soon because I think it’s about to get interesting.

Recently finished: Nothing new. I saw this coming but it’s always hard not to finish something. I did manage to post my review of Dreams of Joy by Lisa See on Monday.  Please stop by and take a look when you can.

Reading Next: I made some plans for finishing up my challenge this year so I think my next book will be The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl. This will give me my 1800s time period and move me one step closer to finishing!


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-August-2018

15 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: Still on hold with Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I’ll have to see about finding this in another format so I can wrap it up soon.
I’ve made slight progress in The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar. I’m reading it slowly during lunches but while the weather is nice, I’m eating outside with my mom a few times a week which takes away at my reading time. I’m enjoying the story and I hope to get back into it soon.
I was able to start Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and I’m loving it so far. The writing is lyrical and fun and I’m very interested in the focus family!
I’m so fortunate that I’m the first person at the library to get the audiobook copy of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’ve had my eye on this one for a while and it was recently picked as my book club selection for September and I’m beyond excited to start reading it.
I started a new book on my phone and this time around it’s The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri. I read another of Lahiri’s novels a few years ago and adored it so I’m excited to see what else she’s got!

Recently finished: I finished The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan on Thursday. I’m really excited to have finished another book, especially one I was working on for a while. I enjoyed this in both audio and print forms so that I could keep it up while on vacation. My review went up yesterday. I gave it Three out of Five Stars and I’ll be reviewing the movie tomorrow!
I wrapped up Dreams of Joy by Lisa See on Monday. I’ll tell you a secret. I usually write these the Sunday before just to make sure I have it scheduled and I’m usually 99% correct. This week, I was so far off that I had to re-write this Monday night! It changed so fast. I didn’t think I’d finish this one but I powered through because the end was so good. I’ll have a review up next week. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

My review for The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver went up on Thursday. This was a big winner for me and I gave it Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan on Monday. Many of you saw this on my list for weeks and weeks but it’s thankfully wrapped up and I’m so excited to have moved on! I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ve just started so many books that I’m really not sure. I think it will be a physical book and I’m leaning toward starting something to help me finish my historical fiction challenge. I’m getting a bit anxious about finishing that. I have the 1500s, 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s to go. I’ve got to start some planning!


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-August-2018

8 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 making my way through Dreams of Joy by Lisa See and I’m hoping I’ll have it finished by next week. I need to start running more which means more time to enjoy this book!
I decided to take The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan with me on vacation and read a paper copy before bed at night. I didn’t quite finish it but it’s my main focus now in print. I think this will easily be finished next week.
I started Bel Canto by Ann Patchett as an ebook while I was on vacation but the hold came due and I stopped about halfway through. I’m anxious to pick it up again but I’ll probably wait until the ebook is available rather than find it in another format.
When I lost Bel Canto, I picked up The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar. I’m not far into it at all but I’m hoping to make some steady progress. I’m not sure when, though. My ebook reading will likely drop off now that I’m back from vacation.

Recently finished: I finished two! First was The Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver which I finished while I was in Spain. I really loved this one and enjoyed the plot structure more than I anticipated. It was a great one to pick up when I was traveling and I’m looking forward to writing a review to post tomorrow. I’m giving it Four out of Five Stars.
I finally finished The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan! I got home from vacation and decided to plop myself in the armchair until it was finished. It’s one I’m glad I’ve read but that I’ll never touch or be tempted by again. I’ll have a full review for next week but let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. I gave the book Two out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: My book club is meeting at the end of the month so I’ll next pick up Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. I don’t know anything about this one but grabbed a used copy at a fundraiser. 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!