Tag Archives: Beneath a Marble Sky

WWW Wednesday, 17-September-2014

17 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! Not too much progress this week, but I suspected that would happen.

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:  I will be picking up Canada by Richard Ford again at lunch today. I hope to make a dent in it! My audiobook is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. So far, this one isn’t disappointing. Gregory’s ability to throw in tons of historical detail and still move a plot is incredible. My ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis and it’s moving as slowly as expected. I’m devoting a lot more time to it than I normally do to an ebook and I’m only at 13%. The race is off for Read Along #2 and I’ve finished the first section of The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I’m itching to start section two!

Recently finished: Only one finished this week. My book club selection for October is We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson and I finished it at lunch yesterday. This is one that was hard to read before bed because it was so creepy! Really good but not my normal style.

I’m banging out these book reviews lately. It’s been hard to catch up. Check out reviews for Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt.

Reading Next:   Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is still waiting on my library list. I don’t have much else waiting now because I just started so many! I wish it would come in soon, but I’m starting to give up a bit. If I can finish Canada, I want to read another one in Spanish and I’m likely to pick up Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie. The English title is The ABC Murders. Has anyone read this one? It will be my first Agatha Christie and it will be in Spanish so it’s bound to be a good time!

Let’s see if I can get through Canada this week, but no promises! 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: Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors (3/5). A historical account of an Indian woman written by a white man. Wait, what?

11 Sep

I grabbed this one from the 2013 page-a-day book calendar that seems to have taken over half my TBR list. When I realized it was set in the 1500s, it jumped ahead to help me fill in my challenge list. Challenge accepted.

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors

When the wife of the emperor dies, all of Hindustan is thrown into sorrow but none more than the emperor himself. To memorialize her, the emperor orders the Taj Mahal to be built. Its beauty will mirror that of a woman. And the only living woman who holds a candle to the late empress’ beauty is Jahanara, her daughter. Thus, Isa, the great architect, has Jahanara cast as his assistant and thus sparks the great love story.

As the towers grow higher, the emperor’s health is failing. It’s known that he favors his oldest son, Dara, the brains, and his younger son, Aurangzeb, who is a powerful soldier. Jahanara loves her older brother and wants him to succeed and sends her loyal spies into Aurangzeb’s trusted inner circle. The tale that unfolds is one of political positioning as well as star-crossed lovers.

This summary sounds a little more scripted than I think most of my others do, but this book is such a sweeping epic that it deserves a sweeping introduction. I liked this book, but I didn’t love any part of it. I liked the romance between Jahanara and Issa, but I thought it came on too fast. I loved Jahanara’s friends, but didn’t feel there was  enough back story to show why Ladli in particular was so loyal to her. I thought the paranoid older brother was great, but felt there were some flaws in his circle of trust. It was just a bit too inconsistent for me to love. That said, I really did enjoy this and I thought it was a great book to teach me about 1600s Hindustan. I never learned much about that region’s history in school so knew little going in. Shors didn’t hit you over the head with facts, so it was a very smooth learning experience.

I loved that the family dynamic was strained; that seemed very real to me. So often in books I’ve read, the children either band together against the parents of the children are all on their own or there’s one big happy family. But in this book, we have one estranged child who’s not the narrator. It was refreshing to say the least. The immediate family seemed well portrayed to me, thought I thought a little more back story was needed for Jahanara’s friend Ladli and her servant, Nizam. Their strong loyalties were commendable, but seemed loosely based and I wasn’t sure if Jahanara could really trust them a few times. They proved to be closer to her than her family, but I questioned why.

Nizam was my favorite character. He was strong and silent and steady. His back story as a slave made me feel sympathy for him and what he did to keep Jahanara safe when she went to find Isa was incredible. I thought his love with Ladli seemed really forced and it made me feel differently about his character. I’m not sure quite how to word it. I think Shors wanted my opinion of Nizam to change when the man became free. I think he wanted me to see him as more independent, but the frame of the story is Nizam rowing Jahanara and her granddaughters along the river to Agra. That seems a lot like servitude to me so I continued to think of Nizam as a servant.

I can’t say I really related to any of the characters. Their lives and problems were a representation of the time period they’re from and in modern America, we don’t have a much desert crossing or betraying princes as Jahanara had to deal with.

I was so happy when Jahanara’s daughter was born. I adored how she tricked her husband into thinking she was pregnant with his child and thought it was so great of her father to let Isa come see his newborn daughter. Her father protected her as much as he could and it was great to see how much he loved his daughter and granddaughter. I also liked that the daughter didn’t tell her husband that she was the niece of the emperor. Some family secrets are meant to be kept.

John Shors Image via Barnes & Noble website

John Shors
Image via Barnes & Noble website

I didn’t like the years that Jahanara and her father were imprisoned. I thought they flew by too quickly in the book, but at the same time I’m not sure how they could have been dragged out. Moreover, I didn’t like the idea of it. It reminded me a lot of the Philippa Gregory books I’ve read about people being locked in the Tower of London. It’s not a good thing to write about because it has no action to it and it’s not something most people want to think about.

Love and duty seem like the biggest themes of this book to me. Jahanara does a lot for love, including putting herself in danger for Dara and her father. The love in this book isn’t only romantic love. The love of family blurs with duty to one’s family as well. It would be easy for Jahanara to run away with Isa and forget about her father’s lands, but she feels committed to the people because she is the daughter of the emperor. The one duty that I would say Jahanara skirts is her arranged marriage. Her husband is so abusive and hurtful that she feels she no longer owes a duty to her father to respect him. While her father understands this and apologizes, she is still bound to her husband by duty.

Writer’s Takeaway: This book is a great example of how good research pays off. Like I said in my title, this book is written by an American man about an Indian woman in the 1600s. Being able to write from a different gender’s perspective is a gift (in my opinion) but being able to write about someone from a different culture in a different time is all about research. You have to know lifestyle, language, customs, technology, etc., a lot more than what a history book can tell you. Shors did his research and it paid off well.

Overall, the book had a very original plot and was well paced, but really failed to hold my attention for long periods of time. I found myself wanting a little more character development. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled 1600-1699 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and Foreign Country: India for Where Are You Reading?

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:
Beneath a Marble Sky | Shelf Love
Review: Beneath a Marble Sky | The Nerdy Reader

WWW Wednesday, 27-August-2014

27 Aug

I was hoping for a bit more movement in MizB’s WWW meme because of Bout of Books, but I think I did it wrong. You’ll see what I mean.

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:  I’ve stalled reading Canada by Richard Ford so I can read a library book… and then I’ll have a book club book… and one a co-worker loaned me. In short, this might be on hold for a while. The audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is progressing, but getting under my skin. The narrator is really inconsistent with the accents she’s given the characters and it’s driving me mad. I started a new ebook, The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. It’s a nice short book so I hope this will move faster than most of my other ebooks have.

Recently finished: Two this week;  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I finished it Tuesday afternoon last week in the airport but didn’t have a way to update my WWW from last week, so I’ll count it for this week. Last night I finished Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors and I’m sleepy because of it! I’m ready to start a new one at lunch.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. I’m almost giving up on getting this back any time soon. Maybe it’s worth reporting to the library? I’m not sure how that process works. I’ve got two books coming up soon. My next book club selection is The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline. I’m excited because my mom read this a while ago and really loved. I hope it’s a good discussion book as well. The other is one my co-worker is lending me, Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. She and I have similar tastes in YA so I’m looking forward to a quick, solid read. I’ll crack it open during my lunch break in a few hours. Pretty soon I’ll be starting Read Along #2 and the book we’ve chosen is The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I met Umrigar about a year ago and she blew me away; what a wonderful woman. I’m excited to read this book! If you’re interested in joining the Read-Along, check out my post explaining what it’s all about and drop me an email.

My goal is to finish ‘Marble Sky’ this week and get started on one of my ‘Reading Next’ books. 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!

WWW Wednesday, 20-August-2014

20 Aug

This will be quick. I’m out-of-town today so I don’t have a lot of time for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m in the middle of Bout of Books so that’s helping!

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:  Almost done with  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien! By the time you read this, I might even be finished. I’ve stalled reading Canada by Richard Ford. The book on hold at the library came in, unfortunately. But I hope to finish it soon; maybe even this week. I’ve started two. My new audio is Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. One of the librarians recommended this to me and specifically said she loved the narration. I’m not as much of a fan. The other is Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. I’m not sure what’s up with me being under the sky this week!

Recently finished: Two audiobooks this week! Looking for Alaska by John Green, which I finished with my carpool buddy. The other is Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick which I’d downloaded to my phone in case of emergency.

Two reviews up, as well. Check out my review of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs and The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. If there was such thing as a ‘library bounty hunter’ to track down people whose audiobooks are a month overdue, I would take that job. I’ll also start a new e-book, probably The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. This is another the book calendar recommended.

With Bout of Books, I hope to finish at least two! We’ll see how that all goes. 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!

WWW Wednesday, 13-August-2014

13 Aug

I’m proud to say I made the progress I promised for MizB’s WWW meme. All the books are progressing nicely; hopefully there will be progress next week, too.

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:  I’m still making slow progress on  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I’m really not surprised, because I keep this to be my ‘slowly yet surely’ book. It’s living up to its name. I promised to say I made progress on it yesterday because Katherine takes forever to try on clothes at H&M! My carpool buddy and I are almost done with Looking for Alaska by John Green. He’s already ‘John Greened’ us and I’m curious to see how this will end. While I wait for my next audiobook to get in, I’m listening to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. I thought I’d put this aside soon, but the audiobooks I have on hold are taking forever to get in! I’ve only got a few minutes left, so this should be off the list soon. I started reading Canada by Richard Ford. It’s been on the top of my TBR pile for a long time, so it’s good to get this one off. The way it was on my shelf, the huge picture of the author on the back looked like he was watching you while you watched TV on the couch. I think my husband’s glad it moved.

Recently finished: Just one finished this week: Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn. I stayed up late to finish this one but it was sooo worth it!

I’ve been trying to get through my backlog of reviews, so go check out my review The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe.

Reading Next:  Same as last week because nothing came in at the library: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio, Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, and Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. Keep your fingers crossed that something turns up soon!

I’m hoping to finish ‘Alaska’ and ‘Leonard Peacock’ this week.’ 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!

WWW Wednesday, 6-August-2014

6 Aug

I’m proud to say I made the progress I promised for MizB’s WWW meme. All the books are progressing nicely; hopefully there will be progress next week, too.

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 husband is off of work this week and my progress on  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien has slowed as well. We’re talking during breakfast, which is when I mainly read this. So maybe another 5% by next week? My carpool buddy and I are getting along nicely on Looking for Alaska by John Green. I think we’re on disk 4 of 6 and we’ll probably finish that one tonight! While I wait for my next audiobook to get in, I’m listening to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Soon this one will go on the back burner, but I did a lot of baking last week so I’m about half way done. My work book club chose Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn from my massive pile. I couldn’t be happier. I’m half way done and this book is reading super fast! It’s a book lovers dream of a book and I’m happy to get it off the top of my pile!

Recently finished: Two this week! The first is  The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. I was disappointed in this book, but I still sped through it. It was well written, but not much happened! The other book was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs which I listed to on audio with my husband. It was interesting to do a very visual novel on audio, but the PDF of pictures made it doable and enjoyable. I think it had too much exposition, but I’ll get to that in my review.

I was able to post just one review this past week; The Coward by Kyle R. Bullock. Please go check it out!

Reading Next:  I’ve put three things on hold at the library: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio, Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors, and Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan. The Follett is a personal challenge and the Shors and Horan is for my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’d really like to tackle ‘Pillars’ but whoever has it checked out from the library is already two weeks overdue and I don’t see myself getting it back any time soon.

I’ll probably finish ‘Ella’ this week; maybe ‘Alaska.’ 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!

WWW Wednesday, 30-July-2014

30 Jul

Some progress for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m reading too much. More accurately; I’m reading too much at once.

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:  I’ve slowed a bit on  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. Mostly because the eBook had to be returned so I’m waiting for it to come back. This is a slow torture.. My carpool buddy and I are getting a slow start Looking for Alaska by John Green. We only drove together once last week because I was so busy so hopefully we can make some big progress this week. I’m speeding through  The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen. This past weekend I went camping with my husband and got to do the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else; read on the beach. It was glorious. While I wait for my next audiobook to get in, I’m listening to Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. Soon this one will go on the back burner. My husband and I are listening to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on audiobook during our recent car trips. We should finish it this weekend when we go on (another) camping trip.

Recently finished: Just one; The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I finished it on Saturday and had a book club meeting over it on Monday. It was meh. Review coming soon.

Speaking of reviews, I wrote some this past week! Check out Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

Reading Next:  I’ve put two things on hold at the library: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio and Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors. The Follett is a personal challenge and the Shors is for my When Are You Reading? Challenge.

I hope to finish at least one more this week. Probably the Cullen and the Riggs. 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!