Tag Archives: Thunderstruck

WWW Wednesday, 10-April-2019

10 Apr

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: It’s still steady-going with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. I only had two lunches last week to read and this week isn’t looking better. I’ll keep making my way through, though. No rush on this one.
I’m really enjoying Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I squeezed a little extra reading time this weekend even though I couldn’t afford it. I hope to finish this one soon and not have it linger on this list for more than one more week.
I got my hold on Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli and was finally able to start it! I hope I have some long drives to get through this one quickly because I’ve been waiting for it forever!
I started reading The Power by Naomi Alderman on Sunday. Not too far into this one yet. I’m excited to stay one step ahead of my book club, though! We didn’t get our copies of this until Monday. Staying ahead is letting me focus on books I want to read, not just those for groups.

Recently finished: I was able to finish up News of the World by Paulette Jiles which was a lovely little book. I hope I remember it well enough for our next meeting because it seems so far away. I’ll get around to a review at some point. I feel so behind in reviews that it could be a week or two before I finally get to it! Better this than struggling for content, though.
I finished Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor Sunday morning. I enjoyed the story but it’s clear this is the first of a series. It was very unfinished and I was a bit disappointed. I hoped there was something more I would get before the book ended, but it was a set-up for the next books. I’m still debating if I’ll finish the series.

I posted two reviews this week. The first was for Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. Not a favorite read, but a solid one. I enjoy Larson’s style but this topic didn’t grab me as much as earlier ones have. I’ll have to try again soon. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed Wonder by R.J. Palacio. This book was a joy for me and I hope I can see the movie soon and experience it all over again! I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’ll grab another book off of my shelves next. I’m feeling great about getting through so many! Next up is Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi. I added a number of concentration camp memoirs to my TBR after listening to Anne Frank’s diary a few years ago. This one was a little harder to come by but I have a copy and I look forward to reading it!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

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Book Review: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson (3/5)

4 Apr

I have a lot of love for Erik Larson. I’ve read a number of his books and enjoyed them. I like how he makes history feel like a story and how he intertwines science and invention into his stories. So naturally, I’m running through his backlist.

Cover image via Goodreads

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson

Other books by Larson reviewed on this blog:

Dead Wake (4/5)
In the Garden of Beasts (4/5)

Summary from Goodreads:

In Thunderstruck, Erik Larson tells the interwoven stories of two men—Hawley Crippen, a very unlikely murderer, and Guglielmo Marconi, the obsessive creator of a seemingly supernatural means of communication—whose lives intersect during one of the greatest criminal chases of all time.

Set in Edwardian London and on the stormy coasts of Cornwall, Cape Cod, and Nova Scotia, Thunderstruck evokes the dynamism of those years when great shipping companies competed to build the biggest, fastest ocean liners, scientific advances dazzled the public with visions of a world transformed, and the rich outdid one another with ostentatious displays of wealth. Against this background, Marconi races against incredible odds and relentless skepticism to perfect his invention: the wireless, a prime catalyst for the emergence of the world we know today. Meanwhile, Crippen, “the kindest of men,” nearly commits the perfect crime.

I liked the story and the way Larson wove the stories of Crippen and Marconi together, but I did feel like there was a large lull in the middle. Wireless was a fickle obsession for Marconi and it took him years to get it right. Reading about those years of trial and error was a bit redundant. Especially the many men who tried to undermine him and their varying degrees of success. I would have preferred a bit more about Crippen but I’m guessing there isn’t much more to be known. He seems to have lived a very quiet life.

Crippen doesn’t seem quite capable of what he’s accused of. While that’s part of what makes the story so unbelievable and captivating, it also makes it a bit confusing. It seems very little was asked of Crippen after he died and that he didn’t leave any clues behind. I’m a bit amazed that more wasn’t asked of him before his execution. You’d think with such a major chase going on, people would want to know how he committed the crime.

Crippen was my favorite character. I liked his up-and-down career and how he managed to have such an odd wife. Belle wanted everything for nothing and must have been very hard to live with. He seemed to be coping well right until the end. The fact that he snapped fascinates me and is part of why I want to know more about him and his motivation than history allows.

Marconi’s frustration with his invention was relatable in an abstract sense. There are things that I work on which frustrate me yet I continue to work on them. Training, writing, former school subjects, the list goes on. But Marconi was relentless and even seemed to make a living with his wireless system before he had figured out the operation of it completely. He was relentless in his trials and goal of figuring out wireless and that was admirable.

Erik Larson
Image via Twitter

The chase at the end was wonderfully written and exciting to read. I felt like someone reading about it in the newspaper while it was happening and my heart was jumping when it came to the ends. I wanted them caught so badly! I can see why the murder was so sensational at the time and why it drew so much attention. It also seems it was a good time for wireless to have made such a mark on the world and a great way for the technology to make it into popular use.

As I said, the book dragged for a bit when Marconi was the focus in the middle and it seemed he would never figure out wireless. There was a lot of trial and error, and it felt like the errors dominated. There were a lot of failures and competing companies and parties and none of it interested me much. I knew this would somehow tie to Crippen’s story and I felt it was a bit too much to remember all the names and places of failures and challenges.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Bob Balaban. I’ll be honest and say that the narration didn’t have a lasting effect on me. With a non-fiction book like this that doesn’t have speaking characters, per se, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. Bob let the story be told without interfering or making it about his performance instead of the book. I’d say he was wonderfully absent.

I don’t think Larson was trying to get a theme across much in this book. I’d say he was more trying to tell a story. It’s a story of how technology can catch up with us and change the game. Wireless telegraphy was a means for ships to talk to each other and for North America and Europe to be able to converse. However, it also stepped in and changed what could have been a flawless crime by Crippen. It can be used in ways we don’t expect to do things we’d never anticipate.

Writer’s Takeaway: It wasn’t until I’d finished this book that I realized there was next to no dialogue. It flowed well, like I was being told a story, and not like a history textbook that it could have easily morphed into. Larson does a wonderful job of this in his books and it’s one of the things I most admire about him. He uses a multitude of sources to tell his stories and they come off flawlessly and effortless. Though I bet there’s a lot of effort. An awful lot.

This book was fun and entertaining but it dragged a bit for me in the second half before rushing to a conclusion. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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

Related Posts:
Erik Larson’s “Thunderstruck” | The Silk Moustache
Review Thunderstruck by Erik Larson | Care’s Books and Pie
Edwardian England: Erik Larson’s Thunderstruck | Author Susan Berry

WWW Wednesday, 20-March-2019

20 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ve been really enjoying Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The way the plot is told is really engaging and I like how each character reveals a bit more about the plot. It’s making me want to drive around just to listen more.
I began a new ebook and decided on Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. This was one that was recommended by my page-a-day book calendar in 2013. I’m still working that calendar off. Maybe once every ten years will be good for another one.
My book club’s next pick is Dodgers by Bill Beverly and I’ve grabbed it on audio. I don’t know anything about it, really, I’m just going in blind like I normally do. I’m so early into this one that I’m not ready to form an opinion yet. More to come.
I’m making a great effort to tear down my TBR mountain and I’ve started another one from the list, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I’ve been reading Bohjalian for a few years now and my copy of this one is actually autographed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but I’ve got a feeling this break-out hit will be a win with me.

Recently finished: I finally finished Origin by Dan Brown while I was waiting for my computer to update on Friday. I didn’t realize how close I was to finishing it. I’m glad to be caught up on the series and I’m excited to see what else comes next from Langdon. I’m sure there’s more to tell. I gave the book Four out of Five stars. A review will be up next week.
I was able to finish This Is a Book by Demetri Martin quickly. It was a fun book of essays, drawings, and lists. Not much substance to it but fun all the same. I gave it Three out of Five stars.
I think I’ll have finished Thunderstruck by Erik Larson by next week. I’m getting through it pretty quick with my long bike rides. It’s not my favorite thing to listen to while riding because it’s so technical, but I can tell the plots are about to intersect and I’m excited to see how.

And so many reviews as well! I was first able to review Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. This one was really touching and a great book for book lovers. The post went up last Thursday, please go check it out.
I also reviewed The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. This was a surprise winner for me and I’m so glad I finally gave it time. I wish I’d gotten to it earlier. Four out of Five Stars.
I also wrote a review yesterday for Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Yes, that is a review every day since my last WWW Wednesday! I’ve had so many good books to review. This book blew me away and I think I may soon have a new favorite YA author. I gave the book Five out of Five stars, changing my rating when I started reviewing it and realized I had nothing bad to say about it.

Reading Next: I’ll need a new car audiobook soon and the next up is one I’m very excited about, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while and I’m getting giddy about starting it soon.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 13-March-2019

13 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m getting so close to finishing Origin by Dan Brown! The story picked up and I’ve been reading it really fast to keep going. I’m excited to know this will likely be on my ‘finished’ list next week.
I started Thunderstruck by Erik Larson and made a decent dent in it with some long bike rides this week. I’m honestly thinking this could be finished in a week because of the amount of riding I’m doing. This progress will have to slow down when the weather gets better and I can ride outside.
I grabbed a new audiobook for my car due to some amazing progress reading (see below). I decided to pick up Wonder by R.J. Palacio. I was reminded that I wanted to explore this book by reading Will Schwalbe. When I heard him speak, he mentioned being part of a book club for adults that read children’s and YA books and how much his group enjoyed this one. So far, I have to agree!
I picked up a library copy of Demetri Martin’s This Is a Book. I’m a big fan of Martin’s comedy and I saw him live (gosh, was that ten years ago?) so I’m excited to see what he can do with a book of essays.

Recently finished: A big week for finishing books! First was Books for Living by Will Schwalbe which I finished because of a surprise trip to Ann Arbor (45 minutes for me) to see some friends. The drive gave me time to finish this one and get excited about my book on hold. Look for a review tomorrow!
I also wrapped up The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton which was a surprise and a huge hit for me. I loved the characters and their passion for writing reminded me of some close friends I used to write with. It was a feel-good piece for me, though there wasn’t a lot of feeling good for the characters. Review coming next week.
I was so eager to finish Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys but now I miss it! This was a wonderfully fun book and I’m so glad I added it to my TBR and was introduced to a new and amazing author. I’m looking forward to reading more by Sepetys in the future.

And reviews! The first one I posted was last Thursday where I reviewed Shannon A. Thompson’s Minutes Before Sunset. I don’t think I was the ideal reader for this one, but I read it quickly and enjoyed one of the characters a lot. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed You Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg. I read this book at just the right time in my life and it really resonated with me and gave me something to enjoy while riding. I gave it Four out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I feel it’s too soon to think of anything except an ebook. My next one will be Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. This is one of the last Book Calendar recommendations I have left and I’m getting excited about finishing the long list that amazing (and awful?) calendar created.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 6-March-2019

6 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I haven’t had as much time to read Origin by Dan Brown as I would like. Work has been crazy and lunches have been short to help squeeze in more training time before and after work. I feel like I’m coming close to a climax, but I have a lot to go still, too.
I’m enjoying Books for Living by Will Schwalbe and am moving through it faster than I thought I would. I’ll probably finish it this weekend so I’ll have a review soon! So far it’s only added one book to my TBR so I’ll consider that a win.
I’ve been flying through The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton and hope to finish it this week, too. It was recommended to me when I told a family friend about my old writing group. It’s giving me flashbacks to that group and I really miss my Novel Girls!
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys has been a really fun eaudiobook while I’m training. It’s a very escapist plot and when I’m suffering on the bike, it’s very needed! I still have a while to go on this one, but I’m being optimistic I can finish it this week, too! Wouldn’t that be amazing if I finished three?!

Recently finished: No surprise to me that after finishing three last week, I don’t have anything on here this week. Though next week it should be stacked!

Reading Next: My hold on Thunderstruck by Erik Larson came in so I’ll start it as soon as I finish Sepetys. I’m excited to hear another Larson story because he always keeps me so entertained!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 27-February-2019

27 Feb

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

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

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Still moving steadily through Origin by Dan Brown. I haven’t had a lot of lunch reading time to move through it, but I’m finding as much time as I can. It’s nice to have this to turn to when a little time presents itself.
I began listening to  Books for Living by Will Schwalbe in my car. Since I’ve heard him speak, I keep hoping he’ll suddenly start narrating the book, but no luck with that so far. I’m glad this one is short after the last Amy Tan odyssey I was on.
I grabbed the next book off my TBR shelf and started The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. It was serendipitous because I grabbed the next book off my shelf to take on a train trip to Chicago and when I looked at what it was, realized I bought it in Chicago the last time I was there in 2015. Too funny!
I started a new eaudiobook. With all the riding I’m doing, they’re going fast. I found a copy of Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys, which has been on my TBR for ages. I guess with one of her books being made into a movie, more copies of her past books are available. Fine by me!

Recently finished: I finished The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan late Wednesday last week. It was a bit of a relief to be done with it, I wasn’t enjoying the middle of the book even after I enjoyed the beginning. The end was good, but I wish it had been more consistent throughout. I posted my review yesterday.
I finished Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson over the weekend while traveling back and forth to Chicago for a conference. I think I may take a break from YA for a bit, I feel a bit ‘teenaged out’ after a few YAs in a row. I also have to decide if I’ll finish the series, but I’m honestly thinking of not doing so. My review will be up next week.
I was able to finish You Are an Ironman by Jacques Steinberg with all of the bike time I had. This book was perfect for me to read right now and I’m so glad I was able to enjoy it while training for my 70.3. It was the perfect thing to keep me motivated during the first few hard weeks while my body was adjusting.

Reading Next: Since I’ve been flying through audiobooks on my phone, I have another one on hold: Thunderstruck by Erik Larson. I love Larson’s writing and it will be fun to have one of his histories to enchant me while I am riding for hours on end.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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