Tag Archives: Under the Wide and Starry Sky

WWW Wednesday, 24-September-2014

24 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! No new progress this week, but it’s looking like there will be some soon.

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 made some respectable progress in Canada by Richard Ford over the last week. It was my main read last week, but life got in the way. My audiobook of The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory is going well. I had a long car ride over the weekend and knocked out a few disks. My ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis and as expected, this is a long haul. I’m 17% of the way through and that’s about 100 pages. Sit tight, we’ll be here for a while. The second section of Read Along #2 has begun and I’m working through Chapters 6 – 8 of The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. I hope to finish it before Friday.

Recently finished: I’m sad to report there’s nothing new! I’ve made great progress in a couple, but nothing new for today. I may cry.

But book reviews! I’ve been doing pretty well on these so far. Check out my reviews for Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan and The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline.

Reading Next:  No new news on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It’s still waiting at the library and I’m waiting for a miracle to finally get it! Hoping I finish Canada by Monday, I’ll start Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie. The English title is The ABC Murders. A co-worker gave it to me before he returned to Mexico and I want to start it soon because he’s coming back! My book club meets on Monday to talk about The Orphan Train so I’ll be starting our new title, Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King. I haven’t read a non-fiction in a while so this should be a good break.

Still trying to get through Canada. That’s my goal for next 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!

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Book Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (2/5). Too long and poor audio.

18 Sep

If someone recommends a book to me, I feel required to read it. Double that if it’s a librarian. So when a librarian asked me if I’d read this title, and added on top of that how much she enjoyed the audio, this seemed like a no brainer. Well. I’ll be more selective of the books I decide to read now because I’ve gone through a string of not-very-good recommendations. (To clarify, that’s in-person recommendations. Book blog recommendations have yet to fail me.)

Book Cover image via Goodreads.com

Book Cover image via Goodreads.com

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Fanny Osbourne has finally found it in her to run away from her cheating husband and go to Europe to pursue art. She’s taken her three children in tow and never expected to fall in love in France. No less with a man ten years younger than her. But she can’t run away from the charms of Robert Louis Stevenson. After ensuring a divorce from her husband, Sam, Fanny and Louis begin an adventurous life together, never settling down completely and keeping near to the water. Louis has bad lungs and being near the sea seems to make him better which leads them to settle down in Samoa. Finally able to work on some land she calls her own, Fanny’s mind starts to betray her and she finds herself paranoid and for once being the patient instead of the nurse.

I should have been more skeptical of this going in. I’ve read two other ‘famous wives’ books before this one, The Paris Wife and The Aviator’s Wife and I wasn’t a fan of either. By the time I realized this was another in that trend, I was so in need of a 1800-1889 book that I said ‘screw it’ and got a copy any way. I liked it enough at the beginning because Fanny is a strong woman and I thought she was a good protagonist. But about four disks in, I started feeling the slowness. Some audiobooks seem like they take longer than they do, the same as some books seem to be longer than they are. I thought this one would never end. I was also highly disappointed in the narrator, Kirsten Potter. Stevenson is Scottish and they spend a lot of time with a British friend, which should lend itself well to audio accents to distinguish character differences. However, Potter seemed to have some trouble when switching between characters with different accents. On occasions, Louis would speak with no accent that would slowly become British and then later be strongly Scottish and Fanny at times spoke with a Scottish accent. Instead of clarifying who was speaking, I found myself frequently more confused. I don’t tend to comment on audio often, even when I listened to the audiobook, but I was really disappointed in this one.

Fannny seemed a bit ahead of her time as far as woman’s rights are concerned, though that was explained away on a European influence. She was very head strong and went after the things she wanted, sometimes at the expense of those around her. Her pushing nature could be good, as in her divorce from Sam, but they could be punishing as well, in the example of planting the cocoa plants in Samoa. She’s the kind of person I’d like to work with, but wouldn’t want to be friends with. Until her mental illness, she seemed like a very real person I could know, so that’s a tribute to Horan’s writing.

Sam/Lloyd was my favorite character. He was gone from a good chunk of the novel, but when he came back, he played a rather large role in Fanny and Louis’s lives. I loved how he wanted Louis to mentor him and he became a very good help to his parents while they were sailing. Maybe I liked him best because he was a good brother to his older sister and that reminds me of my brother (not that I’m comparing myself to Belle!).

I found all of these characters to be very removed from myself. Their concerns and lifestyles were nothing like those I’m used to in 21st century Michigan. Your literary friends on the other side of the world are saying your wife is pushy? Can find good help these days in Samoa? The art school doesn’t accept women?!?! Yeah, not really my life now and I don’t see it ever becoming my life. It made it hard to get into this book.

Nancy Horan Image via Barnes & Noble website

Nancy Horan
Image via Barnes & Noble website

Belle and Fanny’s reunion was my favorite part of the book. It was good to see Belle realized she had become her mother. They had both made rash decisions when it came to men but realized they were stronger than that and could learn to do their own things. I was scared for Belle when she went off to Hawaii to be married and it was good to have her reappear in the book with a cutie pie little son.

I actually disliked most of this book. I think it was exceedingly long (14 disks on audio) and I never felt like I knew what the purpose was. I like in books when there is a defined journey and I don’t like the excuse of ‘life is a journey.’ Taking the Ring to Mordor is a journey; killing Lord Voldemort is a journey; establishing a new government system in Panem is a journey. Living with Robert Louis Stevenson is not a journey. You’re only done with it when you’re dead, not when you’ve accomplished something. I was bored.

Loyalty to family is the biggest theme I can think of for this book. Fanny was loyal to Louis when he was sick and when she had the chance to be reunited with Belle, Fanny did it in style. She included her good-for-noting husband even though he and Fanny did not get along. She let Lloyd follow his dream of being a writer and supported her children even when there wasn’t the money for it. Fanny was a loyal character and when she needed to rely on those around her, she could, because she’d taught them to be loyal.

Writer’s Takeaway: Stories need a journey. I feel that the novels I’m writing have a journey and when the journey’s done, I’ll end the story. Horan has a different take on this and it’s not for me. I couldn’t get into this book because I didn’t know what the characters were after, what they wanted to accomplish. I waited for them to die and that’s not an exciting story to me.

The poor audio doesn’t help my rating for this. Two out of Five stars.

This book fulfills 1880-1889 for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and Foreign Country: Samoa for the 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:
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan | booksaremyfavoriteandbest
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan, review | Book Drunkard
Audiobook Review: Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan | Writers’ Rumpus
Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan {Book Review} | tempestbooks

WWW Wednesday, 10-September-2014

10 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was full of finishing books, but I’ll be slowing down for a while I fear.

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 was able to read some of Canada by Richard Ford but I’m afraid it’s been put to rest again for a while. Poor thing. My new audiobook is The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory. I’m a huge fan of Gregory and it’s made only more awesome that this book will fulfill the 1400s in my When Are You Reading? Challenge. My new ebook is The Domesday Book by Connie Willis which a co-worker recommended to me ages ago and I know my friend Katherine really enjoyed. It’s a clunker so expect to see that title on this list for a looooong time. The race is off for Read Along #2 and I’ve started in on the first section of The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar. So far it’s pretty darn awesome. My copy is autographed so it won’t leave the house (my rule) so this might be a bit slower than I’d read the sections otherwise, but it’s coming along nicely. And because that wasn’t enough, I started our new book club selection yesterday, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. I’m only a few pages in, but it’s really creepy! My guess is it only gets worse. Four new books started! Yay.

Recently finished:Three finished this week! I completed the audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan and I’m glad to be done with it. I’m not a fan of the literary wives trend and read this because someone recommended it and I needed an 1800s book. It will be a less than glowing review when it comes out. I finished the ebook of The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka and I don’t think I can say enough good things about it. This short little book was really refreshing and I’m so glad I picked it up! I also finished  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline in three days. That’s really fast for me! But I loved it so much. My mom, grandma, and supervisor had all recommended it to me and it did not disappoint. What an amazing story.

I also got three book reviews posted! If you’re so inclined to read more than my one-sentence reviews here, you can check out my full reviews of Looking for Alaska by John Green, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick, and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

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 know there will be more to come, but that’s for next week.

I’m not sure I’ll finish any this week, but I’ll try my darndest! 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-September-2014

3 Sep

Time for MizB’s WWW meme! This week was moderate progress but I’m still slugging through a few.

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 but i can almost see the light of when I can pick it back up. I think it’s in about a month? The audio of Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan is getting close to the end. I’m on the second-to-last disk and I can’t wait to finish it. I’m loving and making good progress on The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. It’s written in a very compelling way, using a first person plural voice. I like it a lot. I’ve also just started  The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, which is my next book club selection. My mom recommended this a few months back and I was excited to see it on our book club list.

Recently finished: Just one this week,  Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. I read this so fast it was never on my ‘currently reading’ section. A co-worker lent it to me and I read it in three days. I want to talk to her about it, but this is her vacation week. Dang it.

And one book review for you all! Check out my review of Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn that I put up yesterday.

Reading Next:  I’m still waiting on Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett to come in at the library. I asked about a library bounty hunter position, but I don’t think she realized I was serious. I’ve got the audio for The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory in my car, ready to start as son as ‘Sky’ is done. This will fill in the 1400s for my When Are You Reading? Challenge and then I’ll only be one from finishing. Yay! 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.

Hopefully I can finish ‘Sky’ early this week. I’m ready for it to be over. 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, 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!

Recently Added to my To-Read Shelf

19 Jun

So it’s been a while since I wrote one of these posts. Over two months actually. And in that time I’ve added nine books to my shelf. And in the same time period, I’ve read 11. So, a net loss of 2 books per two months or one book per month. That means that at this pace, it will take me 112 months or 9 years and 4 months to clear out my shelf. Yikes. So with that sobering fact, I bring you a list of books I want to read badly enough to lengthen my list. Enjoy!

  1.  Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan: I added this solely because a librarian said I might like it. I figured that’s a good enough reason. It’s a literary wives story, this time with Robert Louis Stevenson.
  2. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank: I think saying ‘I haven’t read this yet and I’m sorry’ should suffice.
  3. Misterio de La Guia de Ferrocarriles by Agatha Christie: A co-worker of mine visiting from Mexico gave this to me as a parting gift. It’s the Spanish translation of The A.B.C. Murders and I’m excited to read it! I haven’t read Christie before.
  4. The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri: I went to a massive used book sale called ‘Bookstock’ and this was one I couldn’t pass up. Lahiri has gotten a lot of attention lately for her books and I wanted to jump on the fan train. This book is about a family emigrating from India to America.
  5. A Widow for One Year by John Irving: Have I said enough yet about how I love John Irving? No? Well, I’ll say it again here. I adore him. I don’t even know what this book’s about and I don’t care. But I can bet there will be a life-long obsession with something, wrestling, bears, tragedy, and strange characters. And I’m excited.
  6. The Coward by Kyle R Bullock: Kyle was the first author to send me a request to read on my author’s page. So of course, I said yes. This trend will likely not continue in the future but Kyle is my lucky #1. The story is about a cowardly pilot during World War II.
  7. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs: I’ve been hearing great things bout this one for ages. And this is available as an audiobook at my library so it was an easy decision to add. Winning.
  8. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris: I went to meet the author on 11 June and needed something for him to sign. I picked this up in a second-hand store and now it’s priceless to me!
  9. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: This is totally Katherine’s fault. She read it because it has fairy tales and knew I’d like it because it’s set in the 20s. Done.

And that’s it! Hopefully I don’t come back in two months with even more books! I know it’s a day early, but check out MizB’s ‘Friday Finds’ for more posts like this one.

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!