Tag Archives: Lynn Cullen

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!

Book Review: The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen (3/5). Talk about a downer ending.

14 Aug

I love Renaissance Europe and I love Spain. So when my 2013 book calendar recommended The Creation of Eve, they had me right away. I found it in the bargain books at B&N a while ago so it’s been sitting on my shelf, waiting. With my push to finish the When Are You Reading? Challenge, I jumped it to the beginning of the line. And so, finally, here I go!

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

Cover Image via Goodreads.com

The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen

Sofi is a rarity of her time; a woman practicing painting and working to become a maestra, master painter. She’s studying under the best, Michelangelo. On the day before she is to return from Rome to her hometown, she has an intimate moment with Tiberio, the other student studying with her. Sofi is never to return to Rome, instead going to Spain where she joins the court of Felipe II and his new French bride, Queen Elisabeth. She quickly becomes a favorite of the queen and watches the girl become a woman and struggle to unite France and Spain while fulfilling her own desires.

I had such high expectations for this book, and that might be why I’m so disappointed in it. I felt like nothing happened to the main character. She had so much potential to make history as a wonderful female painter, but instead had to go to Spain. While there, the focus of the story switched completely to Elisabeth and the other Spanish royals around her, making Sofi a secondary character. The only thing going for her was her potential romance with Tiberio coming back into play, but that was never to be. She had a blossoming romance with a doctor that turned into nothing. I loved the writing, the history, and the characters, but I wanted something more to happen!

I was glad to hear that Sofi is based off of a real person. It’s incredible that a woman in that time could study painting with a maestro like Michelangelo. I understood the passivity which she practiced in the court, all aiming not to upset the queen, but it bothered me so much at the same time. It felt like she never fit in; being Italian in Spain to a French queen but in the years she was in service, she never seemed to make a friend. This kind of bugged me because I think characters should have friends. If they’re likable, other characters will like them and then the reader can like them, right? Francesca was one of my favorite characters. She reminded me of the nurse in Romeo and Juliet, another favorite character.

I didn’t like Don Carlo, Don Juan, and Don Alessandro. I would confuse the three of them a lot in the first half of the book and I still don’t see the point of Don Alessandro. The muddled the plot for me and only at the end did I figure out which of them Queen Elisabeth was attracted to. The courtly love obscured that too much for my taste.

Despite being a passive character, Sofi was still my favorite character in the book. She was curious and brave when she needed to be and always found a way to help those around her who needed helping. She was very giving, which I imagine would be hard to be for so long in such a demanding court. I wish there had been more for Sofi in this book because she didn’t have much besides loss to herself. She could have dealt with some love or drama. Instead, that was reserved for the queen.

Lynn Cullen Image via tlcbooktours.com

Lynn Cullen
Image via tlcbooktours.com

Because of the historical setting, it was hard for me to relate to any of the characters on a personal level. Cullen did a wonderful job of writing 1560s Spain; I absolutely loved it. But the problems these characters had were very removed from modern life. It made it a little difficult to root for the characters. The one character I related to most would have to be Elisabeth. I related to how lost she felt in life; trying to survive and put on a face while being tugged in a million different directions. I think we’ve all felt like that sometime.

The very beginning of the book was my favorite. I liked Sofi in her element, painting with Michelangelo and being in love with Tiberio. I felt like there was a lot going for her then and that the story could be about her success and setback toward being a maestra. Instead, the story changed drastically once she left Rome.

The ending of this book was my least favorite. I felt like there wasn’t much closure to a very long plot and that a lot of the characters were left with more to give. I understand that Cullen was trying to keep close to history, but for me, it was too hard to process. I felt the relationship with Don Juan was too out of left field, Francesca’s change in loyalty was too quick, and that the king’s motivation for controlling his wife was weak. I wish the book had been longer so these changes could have happened more naturally.

Sofi’s story is one of devotion. Throughout, she remains devoted to Tiberio and the idea of having a life with him, as distant as it may seem. Even when his sexuality is questioned publicly, she wants to be with him. Sofi remains devoted to the Queen even when she is foolish or does things the king should know about. Sofi wants to please them all and she is devoted to the queen above all. It’s very similar to the way Francesca is devoted to her, which is touching. It implies that Francesca, despite speaking ‘peasant’s Italian,’ is a parental figure in Sofi’s life.

I’m still a bit confused by the title of this book. Sofi mentions that there is a part of the Sistine Chapel fresco called ‘The Creation of Eve.’ Here’s what it looks like.

Image via studybible.com

Image via studybible.com

I’m not sure if this helps clarify anything. I get that Eve looks to be almost asking God for something: begging. Is this supposed to be Sofi, begging for her own life and freedom? Or is it Elisabeth, trying to ask for something wile Adam (Felipe) is sleeping? If anyone as any ideas, please let me know. I”m still scratching my head.

Writer’s Takeaway: I don’t think the diary style worked well in this book. There was so much detailed dialogue that I didn’t think of it as a diary until I’d get to the beginning of a section that was dated and Sofi would remark on how long it had been since she’d last written. I think dated entries would have been fine without the guise of a diary; especially when Sofi would recount conversations that happened months ago. I kept a diary as a youngster and at most, I might include a four line conversation; never pages of talk about clothing.

I loved the setting, writing, and characters, but I felt the plot of this one was greatly lacking. Three out of Five stars.

This book fulfilled 1500-1599 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and Foreign Country: Spain 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:
The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen | She Reads Novels
The Creation of Eve and an Update! | The Blog of Litwits

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!

WWW Wednesday, 23-July-2014

23 Jul

I was so determined to finish a book for MizB’s WWW meme. I’m going on an audio binge for the next week or so, so I was glad to finish a physical book!

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 making steady progress through  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on my phone. I’ve had a lot more time to read eBooks this past week than I thought I would. On audio, I started The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe and I’ve made decent progress over the last week, which means I’m spending a lot of time alone in my car even though it was an Ozone Day on Monday (but I carpool so often!) Speaking of, my carpool buddy and I started Looking for Alaska by John Green and she is loving it, as am I. I hope we can finish it before it’s due back at the library! I started  The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen as I’d hoped to. I’m really loving it and forgot how much I enjoy books about royal courts. Yes, I do love Philippa Gregory. And because I love having more stories going than I can keep straight, I started an audiobook on my phone, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick. I’ll listed to this while I’m cleaning and cooking around the house. I think that’s enough books to be in at once!

Recently finished: I finished The Coward by Kyle R Bullock over the weekend. I enjoyed it and I’ll have a review up soon, as I promised Kyle I would by the end of the summer, which sadly is fast approaching! I posted a review for The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson if you want to check that out.

Reading Next:  My husband and I are road tripping to New York this weekend, so I’ve got Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs on audio for us to enjoy. We’ll likely finish it on the way home, but if not we’re going camping the weekend after and will have another two hours in the car each way. I’m so lucky my husband loves stories as much as I do!

Does anyone else get really excited over road trips because of the audiobook potential? Or is it just me? What are your three Ws? 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, 16-July-2014

16 Jul

Almost in reaction to last week’s progress, I’ve got almost nothing to report for MizB’s WWW meme. I guess that’s what happens when you do a 120 mile bike tour over the weekend. So there is that, right?!

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 about halfway through The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. I’ve taken a bit of a break from it to work through the huge pile of Cosmo magazine on my bedside table but I’ll start it again tonight.  I’m making slow progress through  The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on my phone. It seems so familiar I think I’ve read it, but i don’t remember it enough to stop. On audio, I just started is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, but I’m embarrassingly still on the first disk! I haven’t been doing a lot of driving besides to and from work and I need to step up my game. My carpool buddy and I started Looking for Alaska by John Green and she is loving it, as am I. We’re almost through the first disk and I think we’ll keep moving well on it.

Recently finished: Nothing finished, unfortunately. Not even much progress on the books I’m reading, really. I did write a review for A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, so you can check that out.

Reading Next:  I’m still hoping to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. We’ll see after that.

I’ve got a bit more time at home this weekend so I can do some reading. I’m making ‘The Coward’ my goal for the week. What are your three Ws? 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, 9-July-2014

9 Jul

Progress, progress, progress! At least, it feels like it. Consider joining in MizB’s WWW meme if you haven’t before!

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 about halfway through The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. This is the last ARC off my shelf and I’m enjoying it so far. It’s strange to be reading this at the same time as The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. I’ve got to keep World War II and Vietnam separate in my mind! On audio, I just started is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe, my next book club selection. It’s too early to tell how I’ll feel about this one.

Recently finished: I finally finished The Maze Runner by James Dashner Monday night. I wanted to throw the book at the wall. I get frustrated when a series doesn’t have good stopping points between books and this one sure didn’t! I can’t decide if I want to read the sequels or not. I also finished Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser on Monday (a big day for me). It was informative, well written, but not as captivating as I’d hoped for.

A big week for reviews as well! I covered O, Africa! by Andrew Lewis Conn as well as The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian.

Reading Next:  Still a good number. Looking for Alaska by John Green has yet to come in at the library so I hope to get that soon. And I want to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. We’ll see after that.

The hubby and I are doing a massive bike tour this weekend so I hope to get something read before then! What are your three Ws? 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, 2-July-2014

2 Jul

A bit of progress for MizB’s WWW. Enough that it’s respectable.

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 at the final stopping point of The Maze Runner by James Dashner and I plan on plowing through it come July 5th. I’m so excited to finish this one. On audiobook I’m half way through Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser and I’m hoping to make more progress soon. I’ve been driving a lot this week (vacation!) and getting through it well. I picked the final ARC off my shelf, The Coward by Kyle R Bullock. I just finished Part I but I’ve slowed down a bit to finish ‘Orphan Master.’

Recently finished: I soared through A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers. I can’t put my finger on what was so awesome about it, but I really really loved this book. I’m excited to discuss it with my book club in August. Last night I finished off The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. This had a solid ending, I really enjoyed it.

Reading Next:  There are a few. My book club is reading The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe which I have on hold for audio. Hopefully I can start that soon. I put Looking for Alaska by John Green on hold for my carpool buddy and I to listen to so that should be started soon. And I want to start The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen soon. This will fulfill the 1500s time period of my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I’ve also put the eBook for The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien on hold to fulfill the 1950-1969 time period.

I hope to finish at least one for next week but I’ll be out-of-town for the 4th. My cousin is getting married! What are your three Ws? 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!