Archive | October, 2014

WWW Wednesday, 15-October-2014

15 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! It’s safe to say progress has stalled.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. I’ve only progressed another 5% to a total of 35% this week. I mean, its progress, right? I’ve finished the second section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar so no further progress to report. No progress on Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie this week either. I’ve been reading my book club selection instead. Speaking of which, the book club book is Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. Last week I said I could power through. This week, I’m not so confident. It’s put me in a bit of a reading slump. Though I’m making steady progress Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio. I’m three disks in to the whopping 31 disk set, but at least I’m moving forward!

Recently finished: Nothing this week. But I did write two reviews, Canada by Richard Ford and The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory.

Reading Next:  No change here. I’m still targeting The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver for my work book club.

Between moving this weekend and being in a reading slump, I’m not too optimistic about finishing anything this week. We’ll have to see. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

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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Book Review: The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory (3/5). All this talk about fortune’s wheel is making me dizzy.

14 Oct

When trying to find a book set in the 1400s, I was ecstatic to see that there was a Philippa Gregory set in that time period! She is one of the writers that drew me to Historical Fiction in the first place and it’s always good to return to a writer you’ve enjoyed before.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

Summary from Goodreads:

Jacquetta, daughter of the Count of Luxembourg and kinswoman to half the royalty of Europe, was married to the great Englishman John, Duke of Bedford, uncle to Henry VI. Widowed at the age of 19, she took the extraordinary risk of marrying a gentleman of her household for love, and then carved out a new life for herself.

This book was exactly what I was looking for. On one hand, that’s a good thing because it means I found it wonderfully enjoyable, greatly written, and full of historical detail without being slow or bulky. On the other hand, it didn’t surprise me. Gregory’s Cousins War series has been hit or miss for me and I’ve read three of them, The White QueenThe Red Queen, and this title. I liked that this one ended right where The White Queen began with Jacquetta’s daughter, Elizabeth. Overall, I was happy with it, but it wasn’t as entertaining as The Queen’s Fool or The Virgin’s Lover or some of Gregory’s other, more notable books.

Gregory does an amazing job bringing historical figures to life. My favorite was the King. His insanity was entertaining and frightening at the same time.  The intricacies of court life were very interesting and I realized I’d rather not be a part of court life in the 1400s. I was amazed at how many times Jacquetta gave birth but it was more common in those times to have as many children as possible. I can’t imagine having a child and my mother giving birth a few months later! That was hard to wrap my head around.

Jacquetta was a great character. She was manipulated a lot by Queen Margaret, but she still stuck to her own. I thought it was very realistic that she was more concerned with her family and its safety than the Lancaster cause. I liked that Jacquetta was involved in the politics so that the reader knew what was going on in the War of the Roses but focused on Margaret. She was a really interesting character and I liked reading about her as well, but she was so disagreeable and unlikable that I couldn’t latch on to her. Jacquetta was much more agreeable.

Richard was always away from his family and doing what he was asked to do for the sake of his country. It seemed a lot like a modern job to me; being away from your family and working all the time with no vacation. I didn’t blame him at all for being almost relieved when he didn’t have to fight in France any more. It’s like how a company losing a contract can be a sort of relief for project managers when it means they can spend more time with their families. He was the most relatable to me.

I enjoyed the descriptions of the King’s insanity. They helped my sympathize with Margaret and understand where her power-hungry attitude came from. It was comical but not too much so. It was an overall tragic situation and was presented in a way so that the reader knew the King was suffering from a real mental handicap, but the things the said were still a good comic relief in comparison to the war around him.

Philippa Gregory Image via Amazon

Philippa Gregory
Image via Amazon

Jacquetta seemed whiney and weak to me during her first marriage to the Duke. I was actually hoping he would die quickly because I wanted to move on from his character. I didn’t like how he used Jacquetta for her innocence and he pushed her to ‘see’ things that sometimes she didn’t see. I, like Jacquetta, was looking to Richard to save her from her obsessive husband.

Like many of Gregory’s books, I saw a message of loyalty in this novel. Jacquetta had to align her loyalties to her house, her queen, and her husband at once and later had to keep in mind the loyalty of her son-in-law and the new King. She toyed a line between those in power and those she was loyal to. At the end, it almost felt as if she’d given up on loyalty and wanted to escape from all courtly devotions. I didn’t blame her, I was tired of the War by the end.

Writer’s Takeaway: Gregory does an amazing job of mixing historical fact with fiction and storytelling. I learned a lot about the War of the Roses reading this book, but I was still entertained by the story of Jacquetta and Richard and how they fought for the King and Queen. I think Gregory’s success in this genre is a sign that she’s a good example of historical fiction writing.

Overall good, but not outstanding. One of my favorite writers, but not my favorite book. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfills 1400-1499 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts: 
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory | The Mad Reviewer
The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory | She Reads Novels

Book Review: Canada by Richard Ford (3/5). A great American novel?

13 Oct

This book has been at the top of my ‘To-Read’ pile for way too long. A long time ago, when I used to have cable, The Colbert Report was my favorite show on TV. I saw an interview that Ford did with Colbert which you can watch here. It made me want to read the book. I saw an audiobook of it at my parents library and thought I’d grab it right when I joined Goodreads. That’s also right when I moved out of my parents house and no longer had access to the audiobooks in their library. Unfortunately, my new library didn’t have it so instead, I waited almost two years to read this and ended up picking up a discounted copy from Barnes and Noble. So, finally, I’m able to write this review, very long in the making.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Canada by Richard Ford

Dell Parsons knows that his sister is ugly, his mother is a social outcast, and that his dad is good at talking. As far as Dell is concerned, that’s enough. What he doesn’t know is that his parents are capable of robbing a bank and that when his parents are sent to jail, he’ll be sent to Canada. From the vantage point of time, Dell tells us the story of how he and his sister, Berner, are orphaned by outlaw parents and separated. She runs off to California and Dell is sent to live with the brother of a friend in rural Canada with a man who seems as at odds with the US rule of law as Dell’s own parents. Arthur Remlinger is a strange figure who’s hiding a few secrets of his own.

How can you not be intrigued by this opening line?

First, I’ll tell about the robbery our parents committed. Then about the murders, which happened later.

I mean, come on, that’s freaking sweet. I read somewhere that Ford writes a bit like John Irving, who is one of my all-time favorite authors. It’s a pretty good comparison. Both write sweeping epics but unlike Irving, Ford concentrated on a short part of Dell’s life and how it affected him. I like that this was a short snapshot. I could see Dell change from a lost kid who didn’t know any better to a young man who knew what was happening around him and how quickly it could change. It was a very literary novel and maybe I wasn’t in the mood for a literary novel because I started to drag through it toward the end.

The characters were eccentric enough that they were perfectly acceptable. Any character who’s too normal stands out from that normalcy, but Ford’s characters were quirky while still being real. The only part that seemed off to me was when Dell and Berner sleep together after their parents are arrested. At first I thought of (obviously) John Irving’s novel Hotel New Hampshire where the sexual tension between the main character and his sister plays a huge roll in the book. But in this title, there was nothing more to it. For one night, everything felt so wrong that sleeping with your own sibling seems fine, and they do. If it hadn’t been for that one scene, I could have been sold that this was non-fiction.

I liked Berner. I’m not sure I was supposed to, but I really enjoyed all the scenes she was in. Maybe the beginning of the book was my favorite because she was in it. Her negative outlook on life was oddly refreshing. I liked when she entered the picture again later in life as an aged woman. She still had the same cynicism from her youth, multiplied by bad men and too much time spent thinking. Charley Quarters tried to fill this role while Dell was in Canada, but it just wasn’t the same.

Sometimes we feel like we’re watching life happen around us and we’re no longer players in the game. I think that defines well how Dell felt through the whole book. He was never actively involved in the terrible things that happened around him but he was a witness to all of it. You pitied him, but at the same time he wasn’t a central character to his own story.

There are times when I feel like I’m watching things change around me. I think those times fade with age, but I remember when I was younger watching the effects of the 2006 recession touch my family and not being able to do anything but watch. It’s helpless being a child, but the only thing to cure it is waiting to grow older.

I loved the build-up to the robbery. I thought Ford built up the tension really well and I kept turning the pages faster and faster to see when it would finally happen and how Dell and Berner would be affected. My excitement for this carried all the way through until Dell crossed the border into Canada.

Richard Ford Image via the Pen Faulkner website.

Richard Ford
Image via the Pen Faulkner website.

I didn’t understand the scene where Dell went to the girls’ home looking for schooling. I think it perpetuated his love for education and desire to learn, but I didn’t get much else out of it. He was uncomfortable around the strong women, but other than Berner, there were no other strong women in the novel. Again, it’s a scene I would have taken out.

Youth is full of tragedy and when we’re young, the biggest tragedy is that we can’t change it. We’re stuck and powerless while we watch adults around us make decisions that affect our lives for a long time and feel the repercussions of those decisions. Dell was at the cusp of manhood at 15 but was powerless to change what was happening around him. There are so many books out now about powerful youths in the YA dystopian genre and I see this one as a strong mirror to that, showing how in this society and this time, youth can be very powerless.

Writer’s Takeaway: Ford’s style and formatting really stuck out to e in this novel. The short and long chapter changes kept me turning the pages to get to the next chapter but provided the detail and plot development I wanted when it was needed. Starting out with the sentence I’ve quoted above was a great move. The beginning was so focused on the bank robbery that knowing it was going to happen took away some guess-work and let Ford be more flexible with his time line. By the time I got to the murders at the end, I’d forgotten they were coming because I’d been so engrossed in the bank robbery. Giving away his own ending worked really well for him in the end.

A solid read, but not what I was in the mood for at the time. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfills ‘Montana’ for my Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts: 
Review: Canada by Richard Ford | I Bought You Books
Book Review: Canada by Richard Ford | Sue Anne’s Balcony
Review: Canada by Richard Ford | Everything Express
Richard Ford – “Canada” | Don’t Need a Diagram
Review of Canada by Richard For d| Nick Holdstock

Friday 56, 10-Oct-2014

10 Oct

Hey all!

I’ve been seeing a decline in WWW Wednesday participation in the last few weeks, so I’ve decided to switch to a different meme, The Friday 56 hosted by Freda on Freda’s Voice. Head on over there and check out the other participating blogs.

Friday 56

The way this meme works is pretty simple. If you want to join in, head over to Freda’s blog and add your link.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book (I’ll grab the one I’m currently reading)
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.

And now, for my first edition of the Friday 56! This is from one of my current reads, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling.

Thus, during the summer of 1508 Rosselli and his team worked well into the evenings, the din of their hammers and chisels drowning out the chanting of the choir a few yards below.

I like this sentence because it gives us some of author Ross King’s prose and paints a nice pictures of the situation in which Michelangelo painted and worked during the years of the Sistine Chapel ceiling. Rosselli was preparing the ceiling for Michelangelo to begin work and wanted to artist to begin before the cold winter set in.

Well, there’s my first Friday 56! I’ll say to all new readers here that I do read mostly fiction, but this is a non-fiction thrown in for good measure. I’ll be back next week with more!

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!

 

Read Along With Me #2: The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar Chapters 6-8

9 Oct

Read Along 2

Here’s the second installment of our second Read-Along With Me. If you want to join Ashlee, Claudia and me as we read Thrity Umrigar’s The Space Between Us, send me an email. We’d love to have you! You can look at all of our posts on the hub page.

Question from Ashlee: I was surprised when Viraf showed as much concern for Maya’s situation as Sera, going as far as to say “we need to do something about this.” I can understand how Sera and Bhima developed a strong bond over the years, but considering the different economic classes, do you think Maya and Dinaz were close, as well? What are your thoughts on Viraf’s comment?

It didn’t occur to me until Ashlee pointed it out that Viraf had shown such a level of concern. I think it shows his commitment to Dinaz and Sera that he’s taken such an interest in a woman that’s been part of their family for so long. He seems to care for Bhima because he drives her to the market and is very polite to her, but I’m not sure yet how genuine it is. He’s only known her for a short time in comparison to Dinaz and Bhima. I imagine that Dinaz and Bhima were very close. It makes me think of The Help by Kathryn Stockett and how close Aibileen was to Mae Mobley. I imagine Dinaz and Bhima with a similar relationship. Between Maya and Dinaz, I’m not sure there would be much of a relationship. I think we’ll have to find out more about Bhima’s past to see how old she was when she became Maya’s primary care giver. If she was very young, it’s likely she brought Maya to work with her. But if she was older, I think Bhima’s professional attitude would prohibit her from dragging her granddaughter to work.

 

Question from Claudia: As Sera observed the Muslim couple with their fingers intertwined, she sensed envy towards their affections. What do you think the author, Thrity wanted to convey through this comparison? The comparison being Sera and the Muslim woman.

Here’s the quote Claudia is referencing, which comes from page 88 in the middle of Chapter 7:

She would’ve thought uncharitable thoughts about the husband who allowed his wife to walk around in this prison cloth, who ignored statistics that showed a higher prevalence of TB among women who kept their faces covered all day long. But now, she noticed that the veiled woman’s index finger protruded out of the black robe and that it was linked to her husband’s finger. Thus they walked, their fingers touching in a poignant connection that proved the fallacy of the veil and suggested something deeper and more eternal than human conventions.

I noticed this quote while reading as well and it made me stop and think. I was fortunate in college to have a very close friend who grew up in Saudi Arabia. We were close enough that I could ask him questions about his culture and his religion and I found it really insightful. He would tell me that even in a country of arranged marriages, there is love between a man and a wife. Reading into it, I’ve heard of marriages where the couples meets on-line or through family members and are able to get to know each other without meeting face to face and are eventually married. With my idea that this book is set in the mid 1970s, that doesn’t seem to be the case here. I think this is a case where the couple was lucky enough to be placed with someone they were truly compatible with and they have a very loving marriage.

I think Sera’s comment is about how her marriage was formed. She was courted and fell in love with a man she thought she knew. On page 80, also Chapter 7, she says,

The difference between wooing her, making sure that she chose him over every other man, and knowing that he had won her and there was no reason to impress her anymore. She turned away from him,, afraid that he would see the disappointment in her eyes. Because she wasn’t disappointed by him as much as she was disappointed in him, by his banality, y how, how common he had turned out to be.

I marked by this passage, Every woman’s fear. No one wants to find out that they were a prize and that all of the romance and wooing was just to win and now that they’ve been won, they’re not special. We want to always be special. I think Sera was jealous that she’d been won and discarded whereas she saw this woman had been a gift to her husband that he treasured every day.

 

And now for the musing topic! It was proposed by Claudia this week and I really like it. The topic is ‘At what degree does one draw the line?’ The example she uses is Banu’s treatment of Sera and how much she put up with for her new husband. I think we can extend this even further to talk about how Bhima has yet to draw the line with Maya. She’s furious with the girl and thinks her life is ruined but she continues to let the girl stay in her house, eat her food, and hide from the neighbors. I wonder if there’s a line where Bhima will say she has to get out and make the father take responsibility for her. Would there be a line Maya could cross where Bhima would kick her out on the street? I don’t think so, but her anger has been mounting since the book began.

Another line yet to be drawn is between Bhima and Sera. Sera seems increasingly frustrated with Bhima’s tardiness and low energy in the mornings. She keeps thinking of saying something, but doesn’t. Bhima keeps being resentful to Sera for being treated like any other servant instead of a long-standing and faithful one, but she doesn’t say anything. She almost does when Sera refuses to buy a dishwasher to lighten Bhima’s workload, but doesn’t. Is there a line that either of these two will cross and tell the other how she really feels? I hope so. I see this as the central conflict of the book.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along. Please drop me a line if you are interested in joining us; we have so much fun doing these!

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!

WWW Wednesday, 8-October-2014

8 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! Okay progress this week, but nothing special.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. I’m almost 30% of the way in and so far it’s really good. I’m excited to see where it goes. I’ve finished the second section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. This book is really great and tearing at my heart. If you want to join in, please send me an email! No progress on Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie this week. I’ve been reading my book club selection instead. Speaking of which, the book club book is Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. It’s slow, I won’t lie, but I think I can power through. I’ve begun yet another new audiobook, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. That’s right, I got it! I had to go to another library and finally got it and I’m ecstatic. Woo!

Recently finished: I finished the audiobook of The Compound by S.A. Bodeen which was really enjoyable. Parts of it were far-fetched, but it was a good YA thriller.

Just one little book review, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It was a great thriller and will make for a good book club discussion.

Reading Next:  My work book club has chosen our next selection, The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver. I’ll be jumping on that one as soon as I can.

I hope I can finish Michelangelo this week, but it will be a push with all the hectic parts of moving! How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

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: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (3/5). Not a good book to read before bed.

7 Oct

What a perfect selection for the beginnings of a chilly fall! My book club tries to match the book with the season when possible and I think this is a great pairing. The other Shirley Jackson I’ve read is The Haunting of Hill House, which deserves all the chills it gave me. This book was a little less ghost-like, but gave me equal chills.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Merricat, Constance, and Uncle Julian have always lived in Blackwood Manor and for a long time, the rest of their family lived there with them. But the other members of the Blackwood family are all dead now. They were poisoned by arsenic laced in their sugar and Constance, the chef of the family was tried of murder and found innocent. Needless to say, there aren’t a lot of guests around. Merricat has developed her own system of voodoo and magic to keep the townspeople at bay and Constance is afraid of talking to anyone new. Uncle Julian is suffering from slight effects of arsenic poisoning and the cat is Merricat’s only playmate as she buries family heirlooms and nails books to trees. But then Cousin Charles shows up and the web of secrecy that Merricat has woven is shattered. She must get him out because he does not understand and he can’t interrupt the family Merricat has formed around her.

Talk about creepy! Jackson did an incredible job of giving us a narrator who is perfectly logical yet completely insane. Merricat has a reason for everything she does; to protect herself and her sister. But the things she does to achieve that goal are outrageous. She buries gold, hides leaves and sticks in Cousin Charles’ guest room, creates a small fort in the woods, and picks magic words to make everything ‘right.’ Reading this book before bed gave me chills and it’s a great Halloween read.

Merricat’s ability to think logically made her all the more frightening because you could see someone making those same decisions. Merricat seems like a harmless little girl at first, but when you learn she’s grown and that she puts action behind the fantasies and delusions in her head, it’s frightening. Merricat as narrator made this book the chilling piece that it was.

I loved Uncle Julian. He had such a fascination with what should have been his own death. It’s obvious that Merricat’s goal was to have only her and Constance survive and Julian was a mistake. His memory slips were endearing and I loved that he wrote and was so worried about his papers and others touching them. As a writer, that was really refreshing and enjoyable.

The townspeople were the most relatable to me. I understood the guilt they shared over what they’d done to the Blackwoods. In the moment, something can feel so right and justified, but later you regret it and try to find a way to make things better. I thought it was great that most of the town, not one or two people, brought food. It really showed that it was the feelings of one or two people who influenced most of the others on that fateful day. It was a great touch.

Shirley Jackson Image via the author's website.

Shirley Jackson
Image via the author’s website.

The time that Cousin Charles spent in the house was the most enjoyable to me. I loved watching Merricat torture him with her small little tricks. Putting water in his bed and leaves in his book cases was perfect! It was small, but just enough to undermine him and drive him crazy. And what a great idea to get pesky guests out of your house!

Okay, spoiler here. I wish it had never been said aloud that Merricat poisoned the family. I thought it was well enough implied that there was no reason for Jackson to come out and say it. I think the story would have been better if we’d been left with that mystery. It was pretty easy to infer anyway.

It’s hard to think of a theme or message from this book. Family means different things to different people, regret will come back to get you, greed never pays; there are a few, but none of them seem worth exploring. I think this piece was very entertaining and I’m having trouble thinking of a larger message that. I’m thinking back to my piece on horror and what the purpose of horror is other than to scare us. I think it also helps us realized what it really is that scares us.

Writer’s Takeaway: Merricat is a beautifully flawed and frightening character and Jackson has shown me yet again what a master she is of the human mind. The scary thing about Merricat and Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House is that you only notice how flawed they are after a time. At first, they seem completely normal. Sure something in their background might make you scratch your head for a second, but it’s never anything that would scream ‘COMPLETELY PSYCHO’ to anyone. But slowly you realized that you should be running for the hills. Jackson is a genius of this character progression.

A good, creepy read, but not for me. Three out of five stars.

This book fulfills ‘Vermont’ for the Where Are You Reading? Challenge.

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:
No 714 We Have Always Lived in the at the Castle by Shirley Jackson | 746 Books
The Backlist: Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle | The Stake
Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson | The ADD Bookblog

Book Club Reflection: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

6 Oct

I read this book back in March 2010 and I’ll always remember that because I had to carry it under my arm and under my coat and onto a Ryanair flight, hoping the stewardesses wouldn’t realize it didn’t fit in my suitcase and I was over the size limit. Luckily, they didn’t realize and I was able to enjoy this book on the airplane to Berlin. When it came up as a book club selection this past month, I didn’t think I needed to re-read it, but I might have been better off if I had. I didn’t remember a lot of the details and reading the book didn’t trigger everything. Luckily, I have the rest of my book club to help me remember.

We had a lot of diverse initial reactions. My favorite was that the story was a metaphor for how married couples are often in two very different places at once. It wasn’t a very traditional romance because the characters fell in love at different times. Clare fell in love slowly over the years of her youth, knowing she already loved Henry and Henry fell in love quickly with a girl who already loved him and had for years. Throughout it all, there was a dark edge to the book, something the movie lacked. The book was also choppy, written in short chapters that were reminiscent of how Henry lived; here one minute and somewhere else the next second. The movie didn’t have this, either. One thing we loved and that the movie (thankfully) kept, was the setting. We are Midwesterners ourselves and loved that the story took place in Chicago and western Michigan instead of New York City. It’s almost annoying how many books take place in NYC.

There are a lot of different ways that an author can tackle time travel. It can be as a result of scientific discovery or accidental discovery, but genetics isn’t common. We liked that Niffenegger used genetics to make Henry travel and we liked that it was something he couldn’t control. It made him sympathetic. Once we got to know him and could feel for him, the book accelerated quickly. The beginning set up a story that we loved and devoured and as we fell in love more and more, Henry knew he was getting closer and closer to the end.

We found some great parallels between the relationships Henry and Clare had with their mothers. Henry’s mother died young and triggered his time travel for only the second time. But the relationship the two had was full of love and kindness. He had to relive her death painfully hundreds of times. He was distant from his father as a result of this. Clare, on the other hand, lost her mother to ovarian cancer. She wasn’t as close with her mother and this could be said to be a result of the family’s affluence. There were places to hide away from parents. After her mother’s death, Clare was closer with her father. Fond memories for Henry, distant ones for Clare. A worse relationship afterwards for Henry, a better one for Clare. At least it’s happy for one of them in each situation.

Clare never had the chance to fall in love with anyone else. Before she found Henry in real-time, she tried dating. There was a football player that hurt her and when Henry was able, he hurt the guy. While it’s unfortunate that this one attempt ended so badly, we doubted she was ever really committed to dating anyone else. She was trying to appease her friends and family, who seemed to be upset she never dated.

Even after Henry died, she never had a chance to fall in love again. She was left with a note that Henry would return, even if it was to be fifty years later. She couldn’t re-marry and have her ex-husband keep popping up. She was stuck waiting for him after his death as she was while he lived. She could never be rid of him. Over their time together, she’d adjusted to him leaving her and with Alba, she could live with it.

I don’t think it’s possible not t love Alba, especially to not love how innovative Clare was to conceive her. She was brave to keep trying to have a child after so many miscarriages but Alba seems to be a lot like Henry. She started traveling when she was five or six, around the age Henry started, and she was smart like him and able to deal with time being flexible. Even after 500 pages, it’s hard to get your head around that.

Watching the movie was a poor preparation indeed because there were so many changes. Gomez was a much smaller character in the movie than he was in the book. His relationship with Clare was a much smaller role than in the book and one member commented that his character was even described physically different. One thing I remembered that was gone was Henry and Clare’s first time having sex on her 18th birthday. To me, it seemed odd that she was so sure and confident with Henry when they met in real-time if hat hadn’t happened before.

The biggest changes had to do with the end, when Henry lost his feet in the book. There were a lot more troubles that Henry faced when traveling that the book didn’t cover. It wasn’t always as easy as it looked in the movie and Henry had to be really resourceful. One of his real fears was the cage in the library. He was afraid of what he couldn’t control and he didn’t want to be trapped anywhere. There are a few of the dark edges that the movie didn’t have that we loved in the book.

We read somewhere that Niffenegger was inspired to write the book based on her grandparents relationship. I’m assuming that her grandfather couldn’t time travel. He did travel a lot for work and he died young, yet her grandmother was devoted to him. Tough I doubt he could pop back into the picture at the drop of a hat.

Clare’s paper art comes from the writer herself, who loves paper and art. Clare’s art seemed to reflect Henry and in the end, she was creating birds and wings when he could no longer walk and it seemed like flying would be the only thing that could save him when he traveled. There were angles. And if their wings couldn’t carry Henry to safety, they could only carry him to death.

One of the only complaints we had about this book was that our e-reader members couldn’t find it in ebook. Niffenegger hasn’t released it on ebook because of her love of paper.

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!

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!

WWW Wednesday, 1-October-2014

1 Oct

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was the jump that I was posed for last week.

www_wednesdays4The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently reading:  My ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis and as expected, this is a long haul. I’m 23% of the way through which I’m actually pretty excited about. It’s farther than I expected to be. I’ve finished the second section of Read Along #2The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. It was a really great section and I can’t wait to read the next! As expected, I’ve started my ‘Reading Next’ books. The first is  Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie which I’ll be reading slowly. That might work against me, but I think I can keep up with the story. It’s the Spanish that will be a problem! The other book is  Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King for my book club. I started it and so far, its dense, but still reads well. Hopefully I can get into it a bit more. I began a new audiobook, The Compound by S.A. Bodeen, which is yet another recommendation from my book calendar last year. That thing is hopping!

Recently finished: Two this week! The first is the drawn out Canada by Richard Ford. I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. As I was told it would, I was reminded of John Irving.  The second is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory which I listened to in my car. Again, it was good, but it just didn’t blow me away.

One lonely book review this week. Check out my review of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka.

Reading Next:  No new news on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. I’m holding out for a miracle! I also need to pick out something for my work book club. Hmm. I’ll be deciding on that today.

I don’t expect to finish anything this week, but there are always book miracles. How is your WWW? Leave a comment and let me know and check out the original post on MizB’s blog!

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!