Circe by Madeline Miller
Circe, daughter of Helios, God of the Sun is shunned by the Olympians and finds herself exiled to Aaiaia for crimes involving witchcraft. Here, her journey of growing up and growing wise begins as, despite being on the periphery, Circe finds herself becoming entangled in the games of fate that Gods play with mortals, and meets her fair share of heroes. Madeline Miller’s retelling of the Greek Myths from the viewpoint of the world’s first witch is formidable. Circe is a fully fleshed out character navigating a world that she was not born to and embarking on a cosmic journey of self-discovery. I loved it and I can’t wait to get at Miller’s other books.
What Could Possibly Go Wrong? by Jodi Taylor
No Time Like the Past by Jodi Taylor
A Trail through Time by Jodi Taylor
Lies, Damned Lies and History by Jodi Taylor
A perfect example of the exploits of St Mary’s Historians is contained in What Could Possibly go Wrong and it involves a baby mammoth. Max is the newly appointed Chief Training Officer for St Mary’s, a University sponsored team of time travellers who jump around in time observing events for posterity and more than occasionally causing a little havoc while doing so.
Those who have read my recent round ups know that I am entirely obsessed with this series and have been tearing my way through it. Sadly I am nearing the end of the published works, but some of the best of the series have been this month. Instead of running out of steam, Taylor keeps finding new and exciting ways to keep the pace going. But be warned, she comes from the George R R Martin school of character treatment, and every so often a character will rip your heart out and stomp on it. If you haven’t read this series, you really really should.
This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
Struggling actress Lucy Waring decides to get some well-earned R and R when her sister invites her for a family holiday on the island of Corfu. Also staying on the family estate are the enigmatic Godfrey Manning and Father and son Julian and Max Gale, who lead a reclusive life away from prying eyes. Suddenly everyone’s peace is disturbed with the death of Spiro, a local fisherman with close ties to all of them, and secrets and intrigue are inevitably unravelled.
Although the twists and turns are inevitably predictable, the 1960s setting and accompanying manners of its characters add layers of charm to an engaging story. The characters are likeable, if a little patronising of the hospitality and kindness of the Greek people, and there is just enough uncertainty over allegiances to be intriguing.
Big Damn Hero by James Lovegrove
Just as the crew of Serenity is about to embark on a reputation restoring delivery with an extra possibility of explosiveness (Thanks for that Badger), Mal disappears and the crew is left trying to decide which danger to run from and which one to run too. Mal despite facing his fair share of dangers finds himself facing the most personal, and the most serious series of events in his life.
I love Firefly and I loved this. I’ve been starved of Firefly since it was cancelled unforgivably early, and this story instantly made me want to go back and rewatch the season again. The characters were vividly recognisable and it added some much craved backstory, particularly for Shepherd Book. I usually measure a books worth by whether I want more. With this one I can’t wait for the next two due out later this year.
The God of all small boys by Joseph Lamb
A book for 8 to 11 year olds, this is being published on 14 February and my full Review will be up alongside a review with an interview with some fantastic answers from the author on the 26th.
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
In 60s New York 4 siblings, Daniel, Simon, Klara and Varya, are enjoying a languid summer when news reaches them of a travelling fortune teller set up in the immediate vicinity. Except that this fortune teller specialises in telling people the date of their death. Daring each other with innocent naivete to visit her, the family are given widely different fortunes, with lifelong repercussions. We then follow each sibling over the years and see the consequences of the visit, providing both inspiring and cautionary tales.
I knew nothing of this book going in and I was surprised at the beauty that was found in the minutiae of everyday lives. Each story had a very different feel and it was enjoyable, if a little pedestrian in the story beats in places. A solid read but pretty forgettable.
If Cats Disappeared From the World by Genki Kawamura
Following a terminal diagnosis, our unnamed narrator is then visited by the devil, with a bargain that, predictably, is too good to be true. Steadily he learns what matters most to him in life, and how the seemingly little things can have a profound impact.
A modern Japanese fable, this contains all the life affirming elements set in strange hypothetical situations which you can expect from a storytelling culture which revels in nudging home it’s life lessons via the most surreal avenue possible. But it was not as engaging as the premise promised to be. The Narrator was a little two dimensional for me to invest in his journey of self-discovery, and I didn’t find him any more likeable at the end than at the beginning, which made it hard for me to invest in his tale.
Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot
No. Just no. I feel like a Philistine saying this because Eliot is held up as such a literary classic, and I went in with such high hopes, but knowing very little about Eliot and I loathed it. I persevered, and I did find one poem I liked: The Hippopotamus, but I had to fight through too much self-indulgent, racist and misogynistic tripe to find it. Eliot is clearly poetic marmite: his fans will fight to the ends of the earth to justify him and his viewpoints claiming it is done as satire. My feeling is it’s not and the man was a prick.
Pick of the month: Circe by Madeline Miller
Dud of the Month: Selected Poems by T.S. Eliot