I am a former stay-at-home mom who has given up her hopes and dreams of becoming a professional reader. I now spend my days showing small children how to play games on computers. Right now I'm living vicariously through my 9 year-old who is reading everything she can get her hands on.
There's a mythology out there surrounding Cleopatra. Whether it's the manner in which she presented herself to Caesar or the intrigue surrounding how she died. *Side note- I can't remember which History Channel show (one of the ones that use to actually discuss history, I imagine) but there was one that proved the whole rug thing, could have never happened. She would have died before she got to Caesar. * Everyone has an opinion of the woman. If you are one of the few people who don't have an opinion, plenty has been written about the woman. An opinion would be easy to come by. This story, however, cares very little for Cleopatra. This is a story about Ptolemy and Arsinoe, Cleopatra's siblings/spouses/pains in her backside.
Actually, this is a story about Ptolemy and what happens when little boys become men. Somewhere among the constant descriptions of wet dreams and the use of the f-word (Which by the way, I need to do some research on. Was that even a word ancient Egyptians would have known?), Ptolemy is fighting to earn the respect he deserves as the rightful king of Egypt. The reader is introduced to an 11 year old Ptolemy who is struggling to mature into the powerful ruler Egypt needs in order to keep Rome at bay. The author would have your believe that the most important aspect of presiding over a dynasty is "conquering" the women around you. I guess that comes with a lot of nocturnal emissions. The fact that Arsinoe (and occasionally Cleopatra) are the focus of his wet dreams doesn't bother me. I am well versed enough in my ancient dynasties to know that if you are a Ptolemy, it means you have to marry your sister, or in some cases, your step-mom. I get that. It doesn't bother me. What drove me bonkers was the constant focus on Ptolemy and his penis. If I wanted to read a book about what goes on when a boy becomes a man, I'd go back to 7th grade health. And to be perfectly honest, as a mother of girls, I'm trying to avoid thinking about the primal urges of teenage boys before I absolutely have to. I'm going to loose enough sleep over that at some point in my life.
When the reader isn't asked to feel bad for Ptolemy and his penis, we are asked to feel sorry for Arsinoe. Apparently Arsinoe has some major choices to make. Should she f*ck her brother or Alexander, her childhood playmate? Or does she just throw herself into being Cleopatra's minion? The last one is kind of an afterthought. Arsinoe feels like an afterthought (which she kind of is in the grand scheme of things). This was one of the biggest let downs for me. In the previous novel, the reader is introduced to this spunky, tough little Arsinoe who literally fights to survive a shattered Egypt. Suddenly, Cleopatra is back! So now, she turns into a mopey teenage girl who only wants Alexander to throw her against the way and have his way with her? Ugh.
Maybe at this point you are starting to wonder how I could possibly give this book as many as three stars. Why would I even continue to read this book after the fifth Ptolemy wet dream? Because I was hoping the author would bring back some of what made the previous novel so good. She did. For about the last 75 pages. The battle at sea between Arsinoe and Caesar? The writing was exceptional. Had that style been on display for the entire novel, this would easily be a 5 star book. It also means, I'm probably going to pick up the third and final novel. I have to see how this ends, right?
I stopped reading this book months ago. I always meant to come back to it. That never happened. So I hit the reset button and started over. I have plowed through nearly half of this book in two days. Why is this time so different? Machiavelli. I am fan-girling pretty hard over how hard Machiavelli is fan-girling over Cesare Borgia. If I could avoid the syphilis, I Cesare Borgia would make my list of historical boyfriends.
"Tell me, Eirene, to whom do we owe our loyalty: the living or the dead.”
Eirene gave her a curious look. “ The living, my queen. The dead have already abandoned us.”
Lines like this are causing me to have a love/hate relationship. Mainly because these scenes are followed by a chapter about a teenage boy and his wet dreams.
I am calling it quits on this one. I’m not the least bit interested in either character. The setting is kind of dull. For a book about a Viking who is attempting to reclaim his land, there is little to no action. I’m bored. I’m out.
Emily Hauser is rapidly becoming a must read for me. Once again, I find myself wondering why I finished this novel so quickly. Now I have to sit around and wait for the next one.
For the Winner follows the same pattern the reader is introduced to in For the Most Beautiful. We get the tales of the mortals mixed with the tales of pesky immortal interference. Like For the Most Beautiful, some of my favorite scenes were those featuring the immortals looking down from their golden perches of Mount Olympus. However, unlike For the Most Beautiful, the reader was told Atalanta's side of the tale. This makes sense when you stop and think about it. The author's focus has been on the women of these myths. When it comes to the battle of Troy, there were several women on either side of the battle who had stories to tell. When it comes to the myth of Atalanta and the golden apples, there really was only one female side of the story. To me some of the enchantment I felt in the first novel was lost with the one narrator. Just some. I was still completely wrapped up in Atalanta's story. I still found myself cheering for her on every leg of her journey.
To some, myths are over done. There are so many books out there that are modern re-tellings of one myth or another. Or books about gods who still live among us. Part of what makes these novels so wonderful is that they take place in an ancient world. A world Hauser manages to bring to life brilliantly. If you are someone who enjoys the kind of novels that put a different spin on old stories, I can't recommend these novels enough.
After reading The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki, I had pretty well decided I had zero interest in reading anything by Pataki again. Her characters were shallow and uninspired. I decided to give her a small pass when I went and did some of my own research about Empress Elisabeth. Turns out that maybe she was just a little shallow. I still wasn't in any hurry to read any more of Pataki's work.
This book jumped out at me from the moment I saw it on the new release shelf. I was a little bummed when I saw the author but something made me read the blurb. You had me at French Revolution. There is so little written about the French Revolution (if you have good stuff, throw it my way). I think it's such a fascinating period. I'm always game to pick up something new about the period.
From the opening pages, I was hooked. The prologue set the scene brilliantly. I found myself so wrapped up in the lives of the characters that I had to stop myself from jumping to the end. Let's face it, the French Revolution was brutal. I didn't want to get too attached.
By the end of the book, I couldn't believe this was the same author who had written any part of the Empress Elisabeth book. I'm actually hesitant to start another book. This one was such a high for me that I might need some time to come down before moving on to the next book. I delayed putting up my Christmas tree so I could finish. Maybe that's just the distraction I need.
I'm using this book to fulfill the reading task requirement for Square 7.
Book themes for International Human Rights Day: any story revolving around the rights of others either being defended or abused.
I'm going to try to keep track of everything I'm doing for the Festive Season here. Try being the key word.
At this point I have completed a book and a task for Square 2.
-Task for Guy Fawkes Night- Make yourself a nice cup of tea and settle down with a good book to read.
My image for this task can be found here:
-Book themes for Guy Fawkes Night- Any book about the English monarchy (any genre)
I recently finished The Lady in the Tower by Jean Plaidy. The book was about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn.
This brings my grand point total for the Festive Season to 2pts. Baby steps!
I was not expecting much out of this novel after enduring Pataki’s take on the Empress Elisabeth. I picked this book of the new release shelf at my local library. There is so little (or maybe not) out there about the French Revolution. It’s a subject I love to learn more about at any chance I get. So I said “Why not?” After the opening scene, this book has set the bar pretty high. Fingers crossed, the author(s) don’t let me down.
I have been in a little bit of a reading rut lately. I've been going back to "comfort" book in hopes of digging myself out. I started re-reading the Harry Potter novels but that's not helping.
I have turned to Jean Plaidy to help me out. So far it seems to be working. There is just something about these books that instantly makes me feel better. Maybe it's because they bring me back to my ultimate comfort zone. These books instantly remind me of being 15, curled up in corner of my grandma's sewing room devouring book after book. My grandmother had shelves full of Jean Plaidy books. Even today, reading Plaidy instantly brings me back to that place.
Look at me with a Festive Season Task all done!
This is a task for Square 2 and Guy Fawkes Day. I made myself some tea! This particular blend is called African Skies. It is a blend of green rooibos, sunflower petals, freeze-dried blueberries, and cornflower petals. There is this great little tea shop right down the block from my favorite used book store (which is where the book came from). I spent way too much money on my street. This tea is not my favorite from the store. My favorite is actually a white tea called Machu Peach-U but it's more of a summer tea. I'm moving into some of the darker teas as the seasons change. *Side note, I know very little about tea. I know what I like and that's about it. For all I know the above statement was completely out of left field and not related to tea at all.*
I didn't finish my book last night but this book would also apply to the book task listed for Guy Fawkes Day. Anne Boleyn not only falls under the category of English monarch but I think it can easily be argued that any book featuring Anne will be full of political treason and intrigue.
I have a 9 year old who is reading through everything! At school they us the AR point system to track their reading. We have not even finished a quarter of the school year and she's at 82 points. To put that in perspective, most of the other students in her class will achieve that number by the end of the year. I want her to be challenged but I also don't want her reading books with content that's over her head. I linked to some of the books she's read recently and loved.
Help me find more books for my 9 year old! Currently she's working her way through anything by Beverly Clearly. I'm trying to direct her towards SuperFudge or other Judy Blume books with little success. Piggle Wiggle and Pippi Longstocking are also on my radar. She really likes books in a series. I'm pretty sure she has read and owns just about every American Girl book ever written.
I have no idea what to do with her. While I have always loved to read, I wasn't the reader she is when I was 9. I just didn't have access to books the way she does.
So lately I have been trying this thing where I judge books by their covers. When I enter my favorite library, I immediately make my way towards the new releases shelf. I'm trying to read outside my bubble. So far my experiment has had some mixed results. This novel was much more successful than the previous novel.
I'm not going to lie, when I found out there were horror elements to this novel, I nearly brought it back. I don't do scary. I don't read Stephen King novels. I don't watch movies about dolls that come to life. I could barely handle the Goosebump books when I was a kid.The Nightmare Before Christmas is one of my all time favorite movies but sometimes I close my eyes when Oogie Boogie is trying to murder Santa. I don't do scary.
I stuck with this book. Even after Emma does something completely unforgivable and appalling. Something that should have given me nightmares for years. I stuck with this book. It was worth it.
Even more amazing than the author's ability to weave modern and myth together, was his ability to subtly sneak in his views on society today. Instead of throwing his views in the reader's face and demanding that the reader accept them, he managed to sneak in shots here and there. It was brilliantly done.
If you are looking for a modern day take on old myths that doesn't include Percy Jackson saving the day, I would recommend this book. For those of you participating in Halloween Bingo, I think this book is worth a glance. Even if you aren't participating and you want something to fit the season, this book might just be it for you.
Has this book encouraged me to broaden my horror horizons? Nope. Not even a little bit. Am I glad I tried something new just this one time? Absolutely.
I just realized I could upload my books from Goodreads. Guess what took my computer all day to finish?
Worth it! Now I just have to go through and sort out my shelves.
I'm not really sure what I just read.
At the end of the day, all this book did was serve to remind me why I stay away from books classified as "chick-lit". If we're being honest, I picked it up because I was in the mood for something fluffy. I figured between the cover and the fact that the book is set in Hawaii, I'd get lots of fluff. I did get some fluff. Right up until about the last 30% of the book, there was all kinds of fluff. Then at the 70% mark, the book completely went off the rails of the crazy train. In more ways than one.
Nancy made me want to pull my hair out. I just can't abide bad mothers. I know they exist. I know there's nothing I can do about it. That doesn't mean they can't still drive me bonkers. Nancy drove me bonkers. She completely ignores her teenage twins (Which, as a mother of twins, I can tell you that's a mistake at any age. They are crafty little turds.) and then gets upset when they start misbehaving. Really?
Ana. Pronounced On-a by the way. But don't worry if you can't remember that. The author takes several opportunities to remind you. Don't even get me started on Ana. I guess the thing that irritates me the most is that Ana is clearly suffering from one (or several) mental illness(es). The author had an opportunity with Ana to bring attention to mental illness and instead she decided to go all Fatal Attraction on the reader. I guess we are just suppose to accept that people act this way and it's completely normal.
It's all my fault really. I should just stick to my guns and stay away from "chick-lit".
Someone posted this article link in a group I moderate for over on GRs:
My first thought was- Nope. Just nope.
Other thoughts were:
1.) It's a pretty Euro-centric list. I understand that part of the problem lies in translation. There just isn't a market for translating Asian or African historical fiction into English. Granted I could learn another language but honestly, I struggle enough with English most days. That aside, that doesn't mean there isn't non-European historical fiction available in English. James Clavell's Shogun is just one example off the top of my head.
2.) The Other Boleyn Girl is essential reading?!?! Sorry, I can't take you seriously any more. I won't deny the impact the book has had on the genre. I would be ignorant to deny it. Essential? Not so much. I can probably list 20 books about the same time period that are better reading than TOBG. While they may not be any more accurate, Brief Gaudy Hour by Margaret Campbell Brown, The Concubine by Norah Lofts, and The Lady in the Tower are all significantly better stories about the rise and fall of Anne Boleyn.
3.) This list reads more like a best seller list than an essential list. Quite a few of these novels aren't even ten years old. The creator of this list left of works by Uris, Penman, Shaara, Dunnett, Renault, you get the point for books published in the last three years? I get that there is a lot of historical fiction out there but come on? Where did you look for suggestions? Literary review magazines and the bestseller list on the back page of the newspaper?
Those are my thoughts. I'd love to know what other readers think.