Tag Archives: The Doomsday Book

Book Review: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis (4/5)

12 Feb

One of my coworkers recommended two books to me last year; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. I was hugely disappointed by Outlander so I was a bit nervous to pick up Willis’ book. But when something’s available in eBook, I don’t fight it. My library’s collection is limited. And I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis

Summary from Goodreads:

In the year 2054, students research the past by living in it. So when Kivrin Engle, a history student at Oxford, enters Brasenose College’s time machine for transport back to 1320s England, no one anticipates any problems.

But her two-week project takes a frightening turn. A mutant virus has been spreading through Oxford, and Kivrin arrives in the past delirious with fever. She is found and taken to a manor house, and when she recovers, she can no longer locate the time machine rendezvous point.

As Kivrin struggles to adjust to a past that’s not quite what she expected, a past where the Black Death is beginning to ravage a mystified, terrified population. With the only people who know where she’s gone seriously ill themselves, will Kivrin ever find her way back to the future? Or has she become a permanent exile in a deadly time?

I’m not normally one for time travel, but I loved the academic approach this book took to the process. It was research! That’s so cool. I also loved the parallel story lines between Kivrin and Mr. Dunworthy and how they discovered the sources of the problems they were living through. The side characters were great, too, especially Agnes, Collin, and Badri. For someone who’s skeptical when it comes to science fiction, this was a great way to get me interested in the subject. I love history and exploring the Middle Ages with Kivrin was wonderful. I looked up the second book in the series and it seems to have a very different focus so I’m not sure I’ll continue with the series, but I’m really glad I read this.

I thought the way the 2054 town reacted to a quarantine was highly accurate. There are those who are scared, who think it’s a joke, who will go with religious implication, and who are more worried about lavatory paper than anything else. Willis had a great collection of characters in both settings who showed a depth to the time periods. It was very well done.

Collin was my favorite. I adored his determination to help through the quarantine and his resilience toward the end. It was good to have a young character in the modern century to compare with the girls in the Middle Ages and I think Collin was a great choice. I liked how it first appeared like he was indifferent about the situation and didn’t really care about his aunt or mother and how they treated him but as Dunworthy got to know him, he was able to read the boy’s emotions. I think Collin will grow up to be a great historian.

He’s an odd person to relate to, but I think I would have reacted much like Mr. Finch in the situation. He was very logical in how he approached the problem of how to feed, house, and care for everyone. He didn’t say ‘no’ to helping people, just to giving them lavatory paper and feeding them vegetables. When I’m faced with a problem, I’ll take stock of the supplies and then see how I should proceed. I like to think he was a useful character.

I loved the process of discovering the source of the modern illness. It was a sort of mystery that I thought unraveled at a great pace. I liked that it kept the modern story line moving while the Middle Ages one was a bit slow and then the two switched places. Willis did a great job crafting this.

"ConnieWillisCW98 wb". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“ConnieWillisCW98 wb”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There’s not a part of the novel that sticks out to me as slow or uninteresting. There are not many books I can say this about and it’s a huge tribute to Willis’ pacing.

The book explored all the different ways humans deal with crisis. Mary used science and Mrs. Gaddson used God. We can also look at Lady Imeyne and Father Roche who both turned to God but in very different ways to deal with the crisis. Collin wanted to help in any way possible and Mr. Dunworthy was focused on helping one person beyond his reach. I don’t think I’m particularly good at dealing with a sudden and huge crisis like the characters in this book faced and it was really interesting to me to see how it was dealt with in the book.

Writer’s Takeaway: Pacing, pacing, pacing! What a great example of how plots and subplots can slow if only the other plots are racing ahead. It keeps the book moving in one way or another. I want to make sure my book is keeping such great pacing and I have a wonderful example in Willis’ book.

Great book and wonderful writing though not in a genre that’s right for me. Four out of Five stars.

This book fulfills the Pre 1500 time period in 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 Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis | the Little Red Reviewer
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis | For winter nights
The Doomsday Book, Connie Willis | Pretty Terrible
Review: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis | Alex in Leeds

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WWW Wednesday, 4-February-2015

4 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading, 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. So, let’s get to it!

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The 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 and I got through a bit of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway and we have two disks left. Yes, that’s still a lot. Stay tuned.
Audio for The Diviners by Libba Bray is almost over! This book has really wowed me, especially because I’m not normally into paranormal stories. But wow.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. No progress this week, sadly. Stay tuned.
Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and I’m in the middle of Part 5 (out of 6). I hope to finish this in the next week or so.
My book club book of the moment is Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. It’s a really moving (sad) story but I’m loving it so far. It’s a fast read so it might be off this list soon.

Recently finished: Finally! Two books finished this past week. I knew it would catch up with me sooner or later. I finished California by Eden Lepucki last Friday in my determination to finish at least one book in January. I’ll be reviewing it soon but be warned, I was not a fan.
And after months and months I finished The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. This one was a winner for me. I’ll also be reviewing soon.

Reading Next:  I’ve picked my next eBook, which will be Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. A friend told me a while back that this was the only series he remembered reading while in school so I added it to the growing list. We’ll see how it goes.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

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, 28-January-2015

28 Jan

After speaking with MizB at Should be Reading, I’m going to take over as host of the WWW Wednesday meme! The image has changed but everything else is the same. 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. 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?

Currently reading:  I used National Readathon Day to make progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. It’s getting really good and the stakes are getting high. I might power through this one soon. I renewed it this weekend and my goal is to finish it before it has to be returned.
I listened to California by Eden Lepucki on my phone while cooking during the Readathon. Less than an hour left on this one and I’m glad it’s almost over. This really failed to keep my attention.
My husband and I got through a bit of The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway this weekend but not enough to brag about. I hope we can get through the last three disks some time soon.
Audio for The Diviners by Libba Bray is going well. I’m over halfway and I’m looking forward to long drives so I can keep listening to this one.
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I read a good amount of it during the Readathon (I’m saying 50 pages is a good amount when you’re reading in a foreign language) but I’m still only a quarter of the way done. This may take a bit.
And finally, Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and I’m almost half way done with the book, at the end of the second stopping point. We’ll see how soon I can get questions from Nicole and get the post about it published.
My book club met on Monday and I got a copy of our next book, Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. I’m not far into it yet so stay tuned to see how this one goes!

Recently finished: Aaaand I still haven’t finished anything! I’m getting close to the end on so many that it’s frustrating but sadly, nothing to report here.

Reading Next:  None on the radar now. I’ve got to finish the ones I’ve started first! Once there’s an end in sight, I’ll think about what’s next.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

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, 21-January-2015 (It’s back!)

21 Jan

It’s back! I’m excited to announce that after speaking with MizB at Should be Reading, I’m going to take over as host of the WWW Wednesday meme! The image has changed but everything else is the same. 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. 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?

Currently reading:  I’m making forward progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. I hope I can keep it checked out for a while!
The audiobook on my phone is still California by Eden Lepucki. I’m getting toward the end and losing interest, so this is a bit slow. I hope to get some progress on it soon and just finish it up!
My husband and I are still listening to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway but it’s slow going when we can only listen to it on weekends when we remember to bring it into the car with us. Oh well.
My audiobook in my car is The Diviners by Libba Bray which I’m really enjoying so far. I’m about half way through now and I hope to finish it soon!
One of my resolutions this year was to read a book in Spanish and I’ve picked La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. It’s about 550 pages and I’m about 100 in. Expect this book to be here a while.
And finally, Read-Along 3 has begun! The book is The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera and we’re about 80 pages in at the first stopping point. If you’re interested, you can learn more here and send me an email to join in!

Recently finished: This is embarrassing. I haven’t finished anything lately! I finished so many right at the end of the year and as you can see, I’ve started a good number so I haven’t finished any titles yet.

I’ve done a few reviews! Okay, more than a few. Check out my reviews for The Handmaid’s Tale, Ready Player One, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, and Attachments. And for once, I’m caught up on reviews. Winning!

Reading Next:  To be honest, I’m in the middle of so many that I haven’t thought about what to read next for a while. I’ll get a new book club book next week, Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat. I have high hopes.

Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Spread the word, WWW Wednesday is back!

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!

Friday 56, 9-January-2015

9 Jan

Welcome to the below 0 degrees edition of 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 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.

I’ve finally gotten my ebook back! So now I want to share a quote from that selection, The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis.

Kivrin looked at Lady Yvolde’s priedieu longingly, thinking of the plastic kneeling pads that hung on the backs of the chairs in St. Mary’s.

I choose this passage because it helps highlight how out of her element Kivrin is after having traveled back in time almost 1000 years. She thought she’d studied enough and had practiced ‘going without’ modern conveniences, but she still misses the comforts of home. I can’t wait to see where her journey takes her.

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, 31-December-2014

31 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! Everyone getting ready for that new year? I’ve got progress and it’s looking like a good push into 2015.

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:  No progress on The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. On hold.
The audiobook on my phone is still California by Eden Lepucki. I made a small bit of progress on this but I think I’m going to put it aside for the audiobook I checked out from the library. It’s really failed to grab my attention.
My husband and I started listening to The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway during our car trip, but we had so much to talk about that we didn’t even get through the third disk. I’m thinking this one might take a while.
I got a new phone-book as well, Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. This has been the top book on my TBR for a long time so I was excited to snag it, but the first few pages haven’t grabbed my attention yet. I’m without a physical book at the moment so I might invest some time in this to see how I like it.

Recently finished: Would you even believe I finished three books this week?! Yes! Three. I’m so proud of myself. I finished Ready Player One by Earnest Cline on Christmas Eve before leaving for my in-laws. I was so geeked to finish this one, I really enjoyed it. I also finished The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I sneaked away to finish this Christmas day, more to get it over with than anything. Because I was so excited to start Attachments by Rainbow Rowell which I finished yesterday. What a great week for reading!

And reviews! I’ve posted a review for John Green’s Paper Towns so check that out, too!

Reading Next:  My hold for The Diviners by Libba Bray came in and it’s in my car. If I’m ever driving alone I’ll start it, but that might not happen before I go back to work!
The book for my next ‘Read Along With Me’ has been chosen! We’ll be reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. If you’re interested in reading this book along with an on-line book club, send me an email and I’ll count you in! You can read more about my Read Alongs here. We’ll start in early January.
I’m deciding if I want to pick the next book off of my pile. It’s in Spanish and will take me a while to get through, but I think it will be worth it. It’s La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Luiz Zafon (The Shadow of the Wind) which I’ve heard wonderful things about. Let’s see if I’m brave enough!

I’ve got half a week left of vacation and I wonder if I’ll get through anything else. 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, 24-December-2014

24 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And a very merry book Christmas to you all! Unfortunately, there’s no change here for books this week. Reading fail.

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 on hold to renew The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. This will take a while…
I’ve been working through Ready Player One by Earnest Cline at a good pace. I’m enjoying the story, though there’s a bit more info dump than I would like, but it’s good.
The audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki though I’m thinking of putting it aside again because my next audiobook just came in at the library and this one is really boring me.
I’m trudging through The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. I feel like my progress through this book is as slow as a retired man walking the length of England but without any kind of adventure whatsoever. I’ll fight to the finish!

Recently finished: Well, this is awkward. Nothing. But I did put up two reviews (go me) so check out These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner and The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Reading Next:  I was handed a copy of Attachments by Rainbow Rowell on Monday. I hope to devour it over the Christmas holiday!
My hold for The Diviners by Libba Bray came in and I picked it up yesterday. I’m trying to determine if this book is worth abandoning California for a little bit longer.
I’m also in possession of the audiobook for The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway. I’ve been wanting to read this one since I read The Paris Wife and the road trip my husband and I are making to Cincinnati for the holidays is the perfect excuse.
The book for my next ‘Read Along With Me’ has been chosen! We’ll be reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera. If you’re interested in reading this book along with an on-line book club, send me an email and I’ll count you in! You can read more about my Read Alongs here.

I’m off work for the year and it’s time to power through my big pile of 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, 17-December-2014

17 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! My book finishing rush is continuing with TWO again this week! Woosh.

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. It’s still on hold… and will be for a while… so…
I checked out another one, Ready Player One by Earnest Cline. So far, so good. I’m only a bit into it, but I’m enjoying the story a lot.
One audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki and I’m back to it with a vengeance, trying to get it done this year. I should be able to, especially with all the time I spend cooking/listening to audio this time of the year.
I’ve just started The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce which is a book club selection for January. I’ve heard good things but I don’t have really high expectations.

Recently finished: Two! Last night I finished The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and man, was it engrossing. I’m really glad I got to read this book and I’m looking forward to the discussion.
I finished Paper Towns by John Green while making cookies on Tuesday and I’m sad to say it wasn’t for me. I’ve read two of John Green’s other books (TFiOS and Alaska) and this one just didn’t cut it for me. Look for a review soon.

I’ve been able to put up a review of The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver so please check that out and let me know what you thought of the book.

Reading Next:  I’m waiting for the work book club selection, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I should have it over Christmas to devour it.
I also have a new audiobook on hold at the library, The Diviners by Libba Bray. My book-club moderator recommended this to me about a year ago and I’m excited to finally get my hands on it.
There’s one more book, TBD, that I’ll be reading soon with my on-line Read-Along book club. We’re currently picking a book to read next. If you want to join in, send me an email and vote below for the book we’ll read!

I can see the finish line of the year and it looks like a pile of 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, 10-December-2014

10 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! And I’ve finally hit that rush of finishing books I’ve been anticipating for a while. Two this week! TWO!

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. And to make my life more awesome, I don’t have it checked out any more. It’s going to be a while before I get to read it again, so this is on hold.
One audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki and which I’ve put on hold. I need to stop making that a habit! It’s okay and I intend to finish it… soonish.
I’ve begun The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for a book club and I’m really enjoying it so far! It’s a great dystopian conversation that’s scary and unbelievable yet realistic. Creepy is probably a good way to say it.
I’m activly listening to Paper Towns by John Green checked out as an e-audiobook. I’m not super far into it yet, but I’m hoping to get through it fast as this is now my main audiobook.

Recently finished: I finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio yesterday. It. Was. Amazing! I’m so glad I made it through this story though it might be a while before I’m brave enough to pick up the sequel!
I’ve also finished These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. And with that I’ve finished my own When Are You Reading? Challenge. Yay! Nothing like fulfilling your own standards to pump you up.

I’ve also put up a review of The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri which was amazing and you should all read immediately.

Reading Next:  I’ve got two in the queue now: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce. This is for a book club that meets in January so I’m feeling a slow read of this one. The other is for my free-form work book club and we’re reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I don’t know how to describe how excited I am about this. One woman finished it in less than a week, which is quick for us! We might be talking about this before Christmas holiday!

School ends on Friday and I plan to drive home and read all evening with a glass of wine to celebrate. 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, 3-December-2014

3 Dec

Time for MizB’s WWW meme yet again! I’m still at the tipping point for many of my books so expect a bunch of updates to come in a rush. It’s more fun that way, 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:  My ebook is still The Domesday Book by Connie Willis. As always, it’s progressing slowly though I’ve been able to read a few good chunks of it in the last few days which has been great.
I’m getting close to the end of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett on audio but haven’t made much progress since I’ve been out-of-town. I’m getting antsy to finish it soon, though!
The audiobook on my phone is California by Eden Lepucki and I’ve finally made it to Chapter 10. I’m going to put this on hold, though, so I can concentrate on an e-audiobook from the library. Darn due dates.
I’m in the middle of my last book for the When Are You Reading? Challenge, These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner. I really disliked this book at the beginning, but I’ve since been sucked into it and I hope to finish soon!

Recently finished: I finished The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver last Wednesday and I loved it! I’m excited to have my book discussion with the work girls tomorrow.

Reading Next:   My next physical book will be The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood for a book club. I’ve also got Paper Towns by John Green checked out as an e-audiobook which I’ll be starting on ASAP. I’ve only got 18 days to finish it up and I’m super excited.

The school semester ends next week and I hope to get some quality reading time once it’s done. That will be my Christmas present. 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!