29 Apr 2020

WWW Wednesday #20

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

WWW stands for three questions:

What are you currently reading?
(How to Hang a Witch #2)
by Adriana Mather

I read How to Hang a Witch about 2 years ago and loved that book a lot (read my review here) so I've decided it was time pick up the second instalment in this duology. This time Sam is being visited by ghosts from the Titanic. I'm curious what the mystery will be.

 What did you recently finish reading?

By Pat Barker

 This book was wonderful and yet heartbreaking. Such a great piece of feminist literature! The review is coming soon.

 What do you think you'll read next?

by Kristen Britain

 I'm craving fantasy now...

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

24 Apr 2020

Book Beginnings and the Friday 56 #39

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.

This week in the spotlight:

by Pat Barker

Synopsis:

When her city falls to the Greeks, Briseis's old life is shattered. She goes from queen to captive, from free woman to slave, awarded to the godlike warrior Achilles as a prize of battle. She's not alone. On the same day, and on many others in the course of a long, bitter war, innumerable women have been wrested from their homes and flung to the fighters.

As told in The Iliad, the Trojan War was a quarrel between men. But what of the women in this story, silenced by their fates? What words did the speak when alone with each other, in the laundry, at the loom, when laying out the dead?

In this magnificent novel of the Trojan War, Pat Barker summons the voices of Briseis and her fellow women to tell this mythic story anew, foregrounding their experiences against the backdrop of savage battle between men. One of the contemporary writers on war and its collateral damage, here Pat Barker reimagines the most famous of all wars in literature, charting one woman's journey throught it, as she struggles to free herself and to become the author of her own story.

Book Beginning:

Great Achilles. Brilliant Achilles, shining Achilles, godlike Achilles... How the epithets pile up. We never called him any of those things; we called him 'the butcher'. 

Well, Achilles is not described as the great hero in this one, that's for sure...

The Friday 56:

Somebody once said to me: You never mention his looks. And it's true, I don't, I find it difficult. At that time, he was probably the most beautiful man alive, as he was certainly the most violent, but that's the problem. How do you separate a tiger's beauty from its ferocity? Or a cheetah's elegance from the speed of its attack? Achilles was like that – the beauty and the terror were two sides of a single coin.

 I love this snippet!

What are you reading this week?

20 Apr 2020

Down the TBR Hole #1

The Royal Bookshelf showed me this wonderful idea that will help me shorten my TBR pile.

   
   THIS IS HOW IT WORKS:

   1. Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf.
   2. Order on ascending date added.
   3. Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books
   4. Read the synopses of the books
   5. Decide: keep it or should it go?
 

I'll try to go through 5 books every week from my Goodreads TBR and decide whether I still see any hope I'd get to those books sooner or later.

Let's see the first five!

by E. M. Forster


This might be the only E. M. Forster novel I haven't read yet and he's one of my favourite writers.

KEEP!

by John Green


This one was extremely hyped back in the day and I'd still like to know what the hype was about.

KEEP!

by Christopher Isherwood


Recently I DNF-ed A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood and despite the fact I own a copy of Christopher and His Kind it's unlikely I'll soon be in the mood to pick it up.

DROP!

by Edward John Trelawny


 I still haven't read my fill of the 2nd generation romantic poets.

KEEP!

by Andrew Motion


This is a beast of a book (though 'only' 636 pages, it looks longer) but it's said to be one of the best biographies about Keats so I don't want to miss out on it.

KEEP! 

 Result:

I've let 1 book go out of 5, my TBR is reduced to 421 books (it's still ridiculously long, but if I'll keep this up, I might see it being lowered to a more reasonable number).

16 Apr 2020

Review - White Lotus by Libbie Hawker

  Title: White Lotus (White Lotus Trilogy #1)

  Author: Libbie Hawker

  Synopsis:

  In the sixth century BCE, Egypt is the greatest civilization known to mankind. But with a foolish king on its throne, the Nile Valley is ripe for conquering.

Amid this climate of danger and strife, in the alleys and brothels of Memphis, an extraordinary young woman comes of age. To spare her siblings from starvation, Doricha is sold into prostitution. But she has gifts beyond mere beauty. Through wit and determination, she works her way into the realm of the hetaerae—courtesans of exceptional refinement.

As a hetaera, Doricha has access to the schemes and negotiations that shape the world. But the rich and powerful also have access to her, and Doricha soon finds herself in the Pharaoh’s harem, caught up in his reckless plans. When the Pharaoh sends her off to his fiercest enemy, thinly cloaked by a dangerous ruse, Doricha must become a double agent if she hopes to survive. Caught between the Pharaoh and the Persian king Cambyses, it is Doricha—once a slave, now a woman of great but secret power—who will determine Egypt’s fate.

Blending ancient fable with true history, White Lotus brings Egypt’s downfall to life.

My Thoughts:

I don't know what it is with me and books about strong ladies breaking their way out of sex slavery (or at least making the best of their situation by manipulating powerful men), but this theme seems to stick with me, I enjoy these kinds of books a lot. 

"However great Iadmon deems my value, he cannot value me more than I do myself." 

In White Lotus we follow Doricha, a young girl who's sold to be a prona (the name for prostitutes at the time) because her family is starving. However, her fate turns to the better when her master starts seeing potential in her and instead of turning her into a common prona, he decides to train her to be a hetaera. 

Hetaerae were highly cultivated courtesans in ancient Greece and later when Greek culture seeped into Egypt these girls were present there too to provide intellectual as well as physical entertainment for wealthy men.

Doricha's story is interesting because there are twists and turns along the way that you don't expect (in the beginning she doesn't have much control over her fate, and you can't help but feel for her because of her vulnerable situation). The majority of the novel is about her training through which we see what a hetaera was supposed to do or not do in the company of men and what the hetaerae's attitude was like towards one another (you can expect a lot of intrigue).

I loved the historical setting and how it came to life through Libbie Hawker's words. The tension between Egyptians and Greek people was seething at the time (we are in the 6th century BC just before the Persian conquest). The streets were dangerous because the two parties were wont to provoke fights and Egyptians were extremely dissatisfied with the Pharaoh, Amasis II, who enthusiastically embraced the Greek traditions and culture.

In these uncertain times Doricha meets friends like Aesop, the cunning servant who mastered the art of manoeuvring from the background and she also has to face some foes who slyly betray an initially well-forming friendship.

Doricha is very young, by the end of the book she's only 14 but she's got a quick mind and adapts easily. She's a charming character and I can't wait to see how she matures into a strong woman who's not afraid to play the hard games of politics to earn her freedom. 

I should also mention here that Doricha later goes by the name Rhodopis, and according to my research in real life there was a hetaera with that name indeed, who is associated with the origins of the fairy tale Cinderella. How cool is that?

The only thing that could have been better in the book was the editing; unfortunately there were typos here and there... It didn't ruin the whole reading experience but still... I'd have preferred if there hadn't been any.

This book became a new favourite of mine, naturally I'll read the second book in the trilogy too.


Next in the series:


15 Apr 2020

Easter Readathon Wrap-Up

Here are the final facts in connection with the Easter Readathon:

I finished 1 book, White Lotus by Libbie Hawker (expect a review up on the blog soon).

I read 80% of My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell (I've finished that one on Tuesday, my review is coming soon).

I've started reading The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham, I'd only read some 30 pages by midnight on Monday.

Big thanks to Kate @ Reading Through Infinity for hosting the event, I enjoyed this reading weekend a lot!

What did you read during the weekend?

14 Apr 2020

Excerpt - Dreams of Thunder by Christian Cura

 
Let me introduce you Dreams of Fire , which is an urban fantasy novel by Christian Cura. Its sequel, Dreams of Thunder is coming out this year, you can read an excerpt from it below.

Synopsis:

Meet Kara Hartman, a young painter living and working in D.C. She would love to let you believe she is just an ordinary young woman with a dream of sharing her art with the world. But she is hiding an astonishing secret: Kara can wield magic, the most powerful force in the universe. Traumatized by the loss of her brother, she wants nothing more to do with magic. But when an old foe resurfaces, hellbent on destroying all that she loves, Kara has no choice but to embrace the only power that can stop her.


 Author Bio

Christian Cura is a new author who just recently published his debut novel Dreams of Fire.
Ever since he read Lord of the Rings as a teenager, it has been his dream to write and publish a
novel of his own. His favorite authors include J.R.R. Tolkien, J.K. Rowling and Robert Jordan.
Christian lives in Northern Virginia where he lifts weights at home and creates artwork.
When he is not writing, he can be found drawing or getting beaten up at his MMA gym.

And now on to the excerpt from Dreams of Thunder, which was provided by the author himself:


Happy Reading!

12 Apr 2020

Happy Easter! - Easter Readathon Update


HAPPY EASTER, FELLOW READERS!

I wish all of you a blessed holiday, I hope every one of you will find some joy in it even if we have to stay at home this time.

I've come with an update about my progress in the Easter Readathon that's hosted by Kate @ Reading Through Infinity

So far I've participated in one reading sprint per day on twitter,  which is funny because sometimes I feel like a tortoise among the others with my leisurely reading speed (I've read a lot about tortoises in My Family and Other Animals in the past two days, I just couldn't pass up on this simile, sorry...) 

I confess I cheated a bit because I didn't stick strictly to my TBR. I've read some of White Lotus by Libbie Hawker too and have finished that book during the readathon so I'll count that as part of my reading list (just to pretend I'm able to finish a book during a readathon, haha). 

I'm halfway through My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It is extremely entertaining when the protagonist kid tells stories about the family, less so when he talks about his insects, so it only partly won my heart so far. 

I aim to finish this book by then end of Monday, we'll see how I fare.

https://giphy.com/gifs/comments-winner-giggles-1pugOcA5T7TTW

What are you reading this weekend? 

Are you bothered we have to spend the holiday inside?

10 Apr 2020

Book Beginnings and the Friday 56 #38

 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.

This week I'm featuring the book I'm starting the Easter Readathon with:

My Family and Other Animals 
(Corfu Trilogy #1)
by Gerald Durrell

Synopsis:

Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family - acne-ridden Margo, gun-toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long-suffering mother and Roger the dog - take off for the island of Corfu.

But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna - among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies.

Book Beginning:

 July had been blown out like a candle by the biting wind that ushered in a leaden August sky.

This is quite a beautiful sentence.

 The Friday 56:

Having slept for the better part of three hours in the fierce sun, she found her eyes so puffy and swollen that she could hardly see out of them. The wind and spray had made them worse, and by the time she reached the jetty she could hardly see at all. She was read and raw with sunburn and her eyelids so puffed out that she looked like a particularly malevolent Mongolian pirate.

Someone took sunbathing to another level, haha.

What are you reading this week? Share your Friday post with me by leaving a link below.

8 Apr 2020

Easter Readathon TBR


Kate at Reading Through Infinity is organizing an Easter readathon and since I've got my weekend free (which when the world is normal barely happens), I'll join in the fun.

I'll choose only 2 books as my TBR since I'm a slow and fitful reader (and window cleaning is on the task list this weekend too ugh). Both will match one of the prompts Kate has suggested:


Read a book involving family/friends:

(Corfu Trilogy #1)
by Gerald Durrell

Synopsis:

When the unconventional Durrell family can no longer endure the damp, gray English climate, they do what any sensible family would do: sell their house and relocate to the sunny Greek isle of Corfu. My Family and Other Animals was intended to embrace the natural history of the island but ended up as a delightful account of Durrell's family's experiences, from the many eccentric hangers-on to the ceaseless procession of puppies, toads, scorpions, geckoes, ladybugs, glowworms, octopuses, bats, and butterflies into their home.

I always long to travel and now that it's not possible, even more so. This book will transport me to Greece at least in mind.


Read a book that's under 250 pages:

by John Wyndham

Synopsis:

In the sleepy English village of Midwich, a mysterious silver object appears and all the inhabitants fall unconscious. A day later the object is gone and everyone awakens unharmed - except that all the women in the village are discovered to be pregnant.

The resultant children of Midwich do not belong to their parents: all are blond, all are golden-eyed. They grow up too fast and their minds exhibit frightening abilities that give them control over others. This brings them into conflict with the villagers just as a chilling realization dawns on the world outside...

A modern classic sci-fi, simply because I haven't read sci-fi for months.


 What are you planning to do on Easter weekend? What are you planning to read?

If you feel like joining Kate's readathon make sure you comment on her blog post to be eligible for participating in her giveaway too.

7 Apr 2020

Books for characters on TV - La Casa de Papel edition

 

I watched season 4 of La Casa de Papel (Money Heist) the other day, and of course I binged it a bit too quickly. 

La Casa de Papel is a Spanish Netflix show that became an international phenomenon in the past 3 years, most deservedly. The series follows a gang of robbers who fight against capitalism and oppression in the most unique way they can think of. Slowly, in the middle of all the chaos they create in the heart of Madrid, they develop complicated bonds with each other that at some points makes their job easier, at others significantly harder.

I love this show so much that whenever a season comes out and I finish it, it stays with me for days/weeks on end. The characters are like friends to me and it's hard to let them go for another year.

For this reason the idea came to me that I'd write a bookish post about La Casa de Papel. Have you ever thought which book(s) you'd gift/recommend to the characters in your favourite show? Imagine it's Christmas, or their birthday or you see they're bored or worried about something that you'd like to take their minds off. What book(s) would you give them then?

Here come my recommendations to the characters from La Casa de Papel. Some of these books I've read, some of them I haven't and decided to match them with the character based on their premise. The character names are from the original version because I watch the show in Spanish.


by Ken Follett


Despite the fact the Professor doesn't talk much about history, I can't help but think he loves it. Other than that, the professional way with which the author writes about the building process of the cathedral would impress Sergio a lot.

Lisboa
Lovely War
by Julie Berry


A novel about love and war and about why they often go hand in hand. I think it's kinda fitting for Raquel.


Tokio
by Stieg Larsson

We all like when we can identify with protagonists, don't we? I think Lisbeth Salander and Tokio have a lot in common.


Nairobi
The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet
by Becky Chambers


Other than the Professor I think it's Nairobi who does the most for the unity of the group, therefore I'd give her a book that is about team dynamics and found family.


Río
by Ernest Cline


Rio is simply put the IT guy in the team. I'm sure he's a gamer and most probably a secret nerd too.

Denver
by Frank Miller, John Romita Jr.


I can see a small Denver sitting on a bed covered with comics. His dad always got him one whenever he seemed sad about his mum. Call it a headcanon. I bet he liked pretending he was a superhero and showing his dad the pictures that excited him the most.


Estocolmo
by Agatha Christie


I think Monica is a murder mystery type of girl. I can picture her sitting on the sofa half covered with a blanket reading Agatha Christie while Cincinnati sleeps.


Moscú
 Great Expectations
by Charles Dickens


Or anything by C.D., really. The Dickensian world would resonate with him I'm sure.


Berlín
by Dante Alighieri


Andrés loves Italy and the guy is classy AF. Dante is the right choice.

Palermo
by E. M. Forster 


I always despised Palermo but boy, did that scene got me at the end of season 4... If you've seen it, you know which one I'm talking about. I like to think Maurice would give him hope and belief in life after love.


Helsinki
The Song of Achilles
by Madeline Miller


 I'm such an evil person. He'd cry his eyes out on this book. Then he'd tell everyone in the team they must read it.


Oslo
The Silence of the Lambs
by Thomas Harris

We don't know much about Oslo because he doesn't speak a lot. This is me trying to be funny. Maybe he'd appreciate my humour, maybe not.


Bogotá
All Systems Red
by Martha Wells

 I can totally imagine Bogotá being a sci-fi fan. I can see the team sitting down to watch the Alien films, Terminator or Robocop together just because someone mentions they haven't seen it and Bogotá tells them they must.

Marsella
(Corfu Trilogy #1)
by Gerald Durrell


This book must be a lovely read for an animal lover (I'll tackle it soon myself).


What's your favourite show? What books would you recommend to its characters?

Do you watch La Casa de Papel? Do you agree with my recommendations? 
Would you have further suggestions? Tell me below!