16 Oct 2019

WWW Wednesday #19

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Taking on a World of Words

WWW stands for three questions:

What are you currently reading?

I'm attempting to put myself in the mood for autumn and I am preparing for Halloween (it's still very warm here though, for some reason, but I can wear jumpers more and more, yay!)

The two books I'm reading right now are perfect autumn companions:

by Hester Fox


I'm not sure if I'll be part of the book tour because the organizers seem to a be bit mixed up, but either way I'll be posting a review of this novel soon.

(A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum #2)
by Kirsten  Weiss


Murder at the harvest festival... Just the cozy small-town mystery I need.

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum here.


What did you recently finish reading?

by Madeline Miller


Read my review here.


What do you think you'll read next?

I think this time it will be a spur of the moment decision.

Please share a link to your WWW post below so I can see what you are up to these days! :)

12 Oct 2019

Review - Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe

Author: Madeline Miller

Synopsis:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe's place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.


There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe's independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.


My Thoughts: 

I was looking forward to this novel immensely, given that The Song of Achilles is one of my favourite historical fictions dealing with Greek ancient history, and for the same reason I was a bit afraid before picking Crice up, because with TSOA Madeline Miller put the bar very high up, even for herself. 

Now, having read Crice I can say it was differently good than TSOA, but good none the less as far as I'm concerned, it is indisputable that Madeline Miller is one of the most talented writers of our time.

I can call myself lucky, because I read most of the book on our honeymoon in Malta, and that country provided a perfect real life background setting for the story (second best to what Greece would have offered). After all Gozo is said to have been Calypso's island (not Circe's but close enough...)

Now about the book itself: it is about us. It is about being human, it convinces the reader that life is beautiful, because it has a beginning and an end and because there are so many vivid experiences in between. It is short, but all the more precious for being so. Mortality is an interesting subject for a tale that has a goddess as it's protagonist, but once you start reading you realize that's Circe's relationship with mortals form her to what she becomes by the end of the book. It is quite a journey.

Circe is a strong feminist read as well, reintroducing some well-known, often controversial, female characters from Greek mythology and giving a certain twist to each of them. Pasiphaë, Medeia, Penelope, Scylla, we can learn something new about all of them, getting to know them in a different light.

I enjoyed learning what happened to Odysseus after he killed the suitors and reunited with Penelope and Telemachus too, since I've never read anywhere else about that. Let me just say, this novel doesn't champion Odyssesus at all, which fact gives it a unique aspect.

I definitely recommend Circe to all Greek mythology/history lovers, so sail out, but beware of the sea monsters!



9 Aug 2019

Book Beginnings and the Friday 56 #34


Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56 are weekly memes hosted by Rose City Reader and Freda's Voice.

Rules: 

Book Beginnings: Share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires. 

The Friday 56: Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% in you eReader. Find any sentence (not spoilery) and reflect on it if you want.


 What I've started reading this week:

by Madeline Miller


Synopsis:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe's place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe's independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.
 

 Book Beginning:

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.

The first witch ever, Ladies and Gentlemen!


The Friday 56:

I had a wild thought there, beneath that sky. I will eat these herbs. Then whatever is truly in me, let it be out, at last. 

She is yearning so much to know herself, I like her already!


Don't forget to share your Friday post with me below!

Happy Reading!

5 Aug 2019

ARC news

I'm currently very excited, because I was asked to review Hester Fox's new novel, 
The Widow of Pale Harbour

I ADORED this author's debut work, The Witch of Willow Hall (read my review here), and I'm extremely glad I was offered a first peek into her new novel. A printed copy of The Widow of Pale Harbour is due to arrive on my doorstep soon, and you can expect a review in October, since that is when the book tour will run. (Until then I urge you to pick up The Witch of Willow Hall if stories with haunted mansions and witches are your thing.)

Here's how the new novel's cover will look like:


Publication date: September 17th



31 Jul 2019

Review - The Balance of Heaven and Earth by Laurence Westwood

Title: The Balance of Heaven and Earth

Author: Laurence Westwood

Synopsis:

I have been unable to write a judgement that does not seem to offend my conscience, or indeed Heaven, in some manner. Because I do not wish to influence your thinking unduly, I have destroyed all my personal papers and notes in regard to this dispute, preferring you to start afresh. Forgive me for this. All I ask is that you consider and examine Jade Moon most carefully before coming to a decision. I find her fascinating and unsettling in equal measure, and fear the consequences of a wrongful judgement. I will say no more.

My sincerest best wishes to you and your family,

Magistrate Qian
Fifth District, Chengdu Prefecture
1st day of the 2nd Moon, 1085

So ends the letter of welcome (and of warning) to Magistrate Zhu, newly arrived in the remote border town of Tranquil Mountain. He has travelled far from his extensive family estates on the outskirts of Kaifeng – the glorious Song Dynasty capital – hoping to find atonement for past mistakes.

Yet he quickly discovers that Tranquil Mountain is anything but tranquil. The town is beset with simmering tensions since the death of his predecessor. Before Magistrate Zhu even has time to accustom himself to his inexperienced and wayward constabulary and the lowliness of his new surroundings, there is a mysterious murder, rumours of ghosts and blood-thirsty bandits out on the streets, and a disturbing kidnapping to solve – as well as the tragic and tangled legal circumstances of the local heroine Jade Moon to unravel.

For the balance of Heaven and Earth to be maintained, and to prevent catastrophe coming to Tranquil Mountain, Magistrate Zhu is well aware that not a single injustice can be allowed to stand. As he struggles to reach the correct judgements, he realises he has no choice but to offer up his career and perhaps even his own life for the greater good. And, in so doing, he discovers that as Jade Moon’s fate rests in his hands, so his fate ultimately rests in hers.


My Thoughts:

 "You should understand this, Senior scribe Xu, that any injustice, great or small, moves Heaven and Earth out of balance."

This book became an innocent victim of my reading slump I'm afraid; it took me ages to read it, but let me tell you, it wasn't the book's fault at all *points at herself*. The Balance of Heaven and Earth is a historical small town mystery/crime novel well worthy of praise, so let me do just that.

This novel is unlike anything I've read before, mainly because I'm not very familiar with Chinese history, but I'm always happy to learn something new, and for this reason 'visiting' a 11th century small Chinese town was a real treat for me. The characters are so well introduced and developed that you can't help but welcome them as friends after a while. 

Jade Moon is considered a hero in Tranquil Mountain, and still, her fate is quite uncertain when Magistrate Zhu arrives to town to fill in his new position and administer the law. They both have a troubled past and their future oddly lies in the hand of one another.

Not surprisingly women had quite a vulnerable position in Chinese society too a thousand years ago and it could easily happen that a female child was sold to a rich family to entertain the sons of the household. Jade Moon if facing the bonds of concubinage unless Magistrate Zhu is willing and capable of finding a hole in the law that would allow her to gain her freedom back.

Jade Moon is a fighter, the daughter of a 'barbarian' and a Chinese mother, a curiosity for the Chinese people for her fierce and passionate nature. It was quite eye opening to read about what was considered Chinese-ness at the time. To be Chinese was to follow the traditions, that you were born on the same piece of land didn't instantly mean you were Chinese. The cultural distinction was quite emphasized between these two set of people, the Chinese and the barbarians.
"If a law opresses the people, how can it be called a law?"

Another interesting topic in the book was the law and Magistrate Zhu's approach to certain questions related to it. Is the law always right? What if it makes people suffer unnecessarily? Who should make the law? Can it be overlooked if it is morally unacceptable for the individual? Such interesting musings to read about!

The secondary characters were very entertaining too: the constables; Horse, the bright young man who matures a lot during the story, the good-for-nothing Deng brothers, Little Ox with his strength and bravery, Leaf, the little kid who they always want to send off to bed, but is always ready to fight... Senior Scribe Xu, the kind old man who was always on Jade Moon's side was also one of my favourites.

The writing style is very steady, it's flowing well and is easy to read. The story is a bit slow burn, but I like this kind, if you do too, I'm sure it will satisfy you.

If you're on the lookout for something different at the moment, give The Balance of Heaven and Earth a try.



28 Jul 2019

Weekend Wrap-up #14

The Sunday post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Reviewer. It's a chance to share news, a post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things you have received.


I'm thankful we are getting closer to the end of July because summer always brings tougher days at work for me (so many flight cancellations) and so I can't wait for it to be autumn already. Once month to go...

Yesterday we ordered our wedding rings. We've been to several jewellery shops and the choice wasn't easy but we are pleased with the ones we picked in the end (I'll show you Lovelies, along with some wedding pics when we get there).

Yesterday I was off so we  could at last binge the third season of La Casa de Papel (Money Heist). It's one of my favourite Spanish shows at the moment, the characters are to die for and there's so much action in it, I'm always at the edge of my seat while watching. Also, I ship El Profesor and Raquel hard.

I've finished reading The Balance of Heaven and Earth by Laurance Westwood yesterday, my review is coming next week. I'm planning to finish Lady Audley's Secret soon.



Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews that makes it possible to share with other bookworms what books you added to your shelves physical or virtual during the week.


Physical Books:

Title: De Profundis, The Ballad of the Reading Gaol & Other Writings

Author: Oscar Wilde


Synopsis: De Profundis is Oscar Wilde's eloquent and bitter reproach from prison to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas ("Bosie"). In an extended letter, Wilde accuses Lord Alfred of selfishness, shallowness, parasitism, greed, extravagance, tantrums, pettiness, and neglect. He contrasts this behaviour towards him with the selfless devotion of his close friend, Robert Ross, who became Wilde's literary executor, gave the work its title (from the opening of Psalm 130) and who published a shortened version of it in 1905.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a deeply moving and characteristically generous poem on the horrors of prison life. It was published anonymously in 1898, signed only "C.3.3.", Wilde's cell number in Reading Gaol. Wilde himself, released from his two-year prison sentence in 1897, was at the time living in France on the charity of friends and under the pseudonym Sebastian Melmoth.

This collection also includes the essay "The Soul of Men Under Socialism", Wilde's most outspoken defence of anarchy, and two of his Platonic dialogues, "The Decay of Lying" and "The Critic as Artist" in which he puts forward his provocatively witty ideas about art and this social role of the artist.


Title: My Dear Hamilton

Author: Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie


Synopsis:

A general’s daughter…

Coming of age on the perilous frontier of revolutionary New York, Elizabeth Schuyler champions the fight for independence. And when she meets Alexander Hamilton, Washington’s penniless but passionate aide-de-camp, she’s captivated by the young officer’s charisma and brilliance. They fall in love, despite Hamilton’s bastard birth and the uncertainties of war.

A founding father’s wife...

But the union they create—in their marriage and the new nation—is far from perfect. From glittering inaugural balls to bloody street riots, the Hamiltons are at the center of it all—including the political treachery of America’s first sex scandal, which forces Eliza to struggle through heartbreak and betrayal to find forgiveness.

The last surviving light of the Revolution…

When a duel destroys Eliza’s hard-won peace, the grieving widow fights her husband’s enemies to preserve Alexander’s legacy. But long-buried secrets threaten everything Eliza believes about her marriage and her own legacy. Questioning her tireless devotion to the man and country that have broken her heart, she’s left with one last battle—to understand the flawed man she married and the imperfect union he could never have created without her…


ARCs:

Title: Screamcatcher

Author: Christy J. Breedlove


Synopsis:

When seventeen-year-old Jory Pike cannot shake the hellish nightmares of her parent’s deaths, she turns to an old family heirloom, a dream catcher. Even though she’s half blood Chippewa, Jory thinks old Indian lore is so yesterday, but she’s willing to give it a try. However, the dream catcher has had its fill of nightmares from an ancient and violent past. After a sleepover party, and during one of Jory’s most horrific dream episodes, the dream catcher implodes, sucking Jory and her three friends into its own world of trapped nightmares. They’re in an alternate universe—locked inside of an insane web world. How can they find the center of the web, where all good things are allowed to pass?


What has happened to you this week? What are you reading right now?

Please leave your weekend post links below so I can visit your site.

23 Jul 2019

Deckled Edges


This post was inspired by something I've seen today on Neil Gaiman's twitter. 



I own three books with edges like this, how did I not know this phenomenon has a name? Or why has it never occurred to me to check why a book would have such edges??

When I googled it I learned that until the beginning of the 1800s (and in many cases after that too) they made sheets of paper individually on a deckle, which was used to limit the size of each sheet, but it couldn't cut the edges clean off, therefore they stayed rough. So in most cases old books have uneven pages like these.

It makes sense, since all the books with deckled edges that I own were published in the beginning of the 20th century (and these are some of my most treasured possessions).


L'Aiglon by Edmond Rostand


Poems by Oscar Wilde



Did you guys know about this phenomenon, why some books have feathered edges? Do you own any such copies?


 

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