“Why so much grief for me? No man will hurl me down to Death, against my fate. And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it, neither brave man nor coward, I tell you - it’s born with us the day that we are born.”
~ Homer, The Iliad
Currently reading The Iliad, I’ve slowed down during this past couple of weeks but I am now determined to find a more regular pace, even though I’m still not sure how I feel about this particular Italian translation. Meanwhile, every now and then I also sit down to learn a bit of the ancient greek language.
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“—if a painting really works down in your heart and changes the way you see, and think, and feel, you don’t think, ‘oh, I love this picture because it’s universal.’ ‘I love this painting because it speaks to all mankind.’ That’s not the reason anyone loves a piece of art. It’s a secret whisper from an alleyway. Psst, you. Hey kid. Yes you.”
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (2013)
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Greek Mythology Retellings
Neon Gods - Katee Robert
Keep Me Close - R.M. Virtues
Lore Olympus - Rachel Smythe
Daughter of Sparta - Claire M. Andrews
Gild - Raven Kennedy
The Dark Wife - Sarah Diemer
Ariadne - Jennifer Saint
Never Look Back - Lilliam Rivera
Promises and Pomegranates - Sav R. Miller
Electric Idol - Katee Robert
The Cassandra Curse - Chantel Acevedo
Punderworld - Linda Sejic
The Star-Touched Queen - Roshani Chokshi
Hot As Hades - Alisha Rai
Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus- Mary Shelly
For Her Dark Skin - Percival Everett
The Just City - Jo Walton
Neverhome - Laird Hunt
Galatia - Madeline Miller
House Of Names - Colm Toibin
Helen In Egypt - H.D.
The Vegetarian - Han Kang
Cold Mountain - Charles Feazier
The Autobiography Of Cassandra, Princess & Prophetess Of Troy - Urusle Molinaro
Women And Power - Mary Beard
Here, The World Entire - Anwen Kya Hayward
Gods Behaving Badly - Marie Phillips
Weight: The Myth Of Atlas And Heracles - Jeanette Winterson
Lavinia - Urusla K. Le Guin
The King Must Die - Mary Renault
Autobiography Of Red - Anne Carson
The Cassandra - Sharma Shields
Daphne - Will Boast
The Children Of Jocasta - Natalie Haynes
The Silence Of The Girls - Pat Barker
Eurydice - Sarah Ruhl
An Orchestra Of Minorities - Chigozie Obioma
Everything Under - Daisy Johnson
Circe - Madeline Miller
The Song Of Achilles - Madeline Miller
The Penelopiad - Margaret Atwood
Till We Have Faces - C.S. Lewis
The Labours Of Hercules - Agatha Christie
Please feel free to add more!
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Sorry I haven’t posted in a while I was super busy with the end of my semester, then my sister came to visit for the long weekend, and on top of all of that I’m studying for the TEAS test to get into nursing school!
In the moments I have found to relax and wind down I’ve been reading! This is one I just finished (Girls of a Certain Age by Maria Adelmann) and one I just picked up (The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green).
Hope you’re all having a great start to summer so far!
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Good start of 1K pages readathon! Finished 100 pages of Sweet & Bitter Magic and finally found where I put The Wicked King so now I can keep on reading this series
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Yes, I am still thinking about Piranesi.
Summer studying challenge // 6th August - What is your favourite summertime movie?
The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. They're not really a movie related to summer but I associate with it, because for several years me and my brother did a marathon of the movies in during the summer.
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It’s actually been a while since I went out to the garden ☀️
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July 2, 2021 | Friday
It’s been a while since I’ve posted but I took a break and literally did nothing except watching shows, aka only Criminal Minds and The Mysterious Benedict Society. Plus, it’s been too hot to do anything. But yesterday I decided to begin reading again and started ‘To The Lighthouse’ and I like it so far.
I hope you are all enjoying your break as well. Remember to sleep and to stay hydrated 🤍✨
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Magical Realism & Romance: Book Recs
Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim
Become enamored with the splendor of Paris in this heartwarming and delightful story about writing one’s own destiny and finding love along the way.
Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people’s fortunes -- or misfortunes -- in tea leaves.
Ever since she can remember, Vanessa Yu has been able to see people’s fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.
The day before her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa accidentally sees her own fate: death by traffic accident. She decides that she can’t truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric aunt, Evelyn, shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to America and bonjour to Paris. While working at Evelyn’s tea stall at a Parisian antique market, Vanessa performs some matchmaking of her own, attempting to help reconnect her aunt with a lost love. As she learns more about herself and the root of her gifts, she realizes one thing to be true: knowing one’s destiny isn’t a curse, but being unable to change it is.
The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez by Rudy Ruiz
In the 1950s, tensions remain high in the border town of La Frontera. Penny loafers and sneakers clash with boots and huaraches. Bowling shirts and leather jackets compete with guayaberas. Convertibles fend with motorcycles. Yet amidst the discord, young love blooms at first sight between Fulgencio Ramirez, the son of impoverished immigrants, and Carolina Mendelssohn, the local pharmacist's daughter. But as they'll soon find out, their bonds will be undone by a force more powerful than they could have known.
Thirty years after their first fateful encounter, Fulgencio Ramirez, RPh, is conducting his daily ritual of reading the local obituaries in his cramped pharmacy office. After nearly a quarter of a century of waiting, Fulgencio sees the news he's been hoping for: his nemesis, the husband of Carolina Mendelssohn, has died.
A work of magical realism, The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez weaves together the past and present as Fulgencio strives to succeed in America, break a mystical family curse, and win back Carolina's love after their doomed youthful romance. Through enchanting language and meditations about the porous nature of borders--cultural, geographic, and otherworldly--The Resurrection of Fulgencio Ramirez offers a vision of how the past has divided us, and how the future could unite us.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
In 1995 Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, on a rare family vacation, seven-year-old Nainoa Flores falls overboard a cruise ship into the Pacific Ocean. When a shiver of sharks appears in the water, everyone fears for the worst. But instead, Noa is gingerly delivered to his mother in the jaws of a shark, marking his story as the stuff of legends.
Nainoa's family, struggling amidst the collapse of the sugarcane industry, hails his rescue as a sign of favor from ancient Hawaiian gods - a belief that appears validated after he exhibits puzzling new abilities. But as time passes, this supposed divine favor begins to drive the family apart: Nainoa, working now as a paramedic on the streets of Portland, struggles to fathom the full measure of his expanding abilities; further north in Washington, his older brother Dean hurtles into the world of elite college athletics, obsessed with wealth and fame; while in California, risk-obsessed younger sister Kaui navigates an unforgiving academic workload in an attempt to forge her independence from the family's legacy.
When supernatural events revisit the Flores family in Hawaii - with tragic consequences - they are all forced to reckon with the bonds of family, the meaning of heritage, and the cost of survival.
Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
The Mayan god of death sends a young woman on a harrowing, life-changing journey in this one-of-a-kind fairy tale inspired by Mexican folklore.
The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it—and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City—and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
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Caitlin B. Alexander | Buy Print
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Illustration by Deb Lee for NPR. Photo credits: Mission Photo, Fonda Lee, Ainslie Coghill, Christina Orlando
It's back it's back it's BAAAACK!!! Our famous Summer Reader Poll is live today -- and I'm so excited for this year's topic!
Ten years ago (before I came to NPR Books, imagine that) we polled readers on their favorite sci fi and fantasy. Now, that list has a few, uh, holes in it (I'm so sorry, Octavia Butler!) but not only that, there have been absolutely seismic changes in the field since 2011. So we thought it'd be the perfect time to find out about your favorite SF/F of the past decade -- tell us all about it here!
And as you may know by now, our polls aren't straight-up popularity contests -- otherwise, I'm betting this year would be all N.K. Jemisin and nothing else. (Okay actually that would be pretty great.) Nevertheless! We always bring in a panel of expert judges who use your nominations to curate an out-of-this-world final list. And this year WHOOO my god have we got great judges! NPR critics, multiple award-winners and of course Book Concierge darlings: Amal El-Mohtar, Tochi Onyebuchi, Ann Leckie and Fonda Lee. (A not so secret secret about the summer poll: I do it every year partly so I can talk to authors I have giant fan crushes on ...)
So here's that link again -- click here and vote for your favorite SF/F of the past decade! Voting will be open ... until so many votes come in that I feel like counting them all will kill me.
Happy Summer Poll Day!
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Book Review: The End of Summer and The Summer Book
Tove Jansson’s novella, The Summer Book, is a perfect read for the month of August and the end of summer! Known for her delightful children’s book series centered around the “Moomintrolls,” Jansson’s adult fiction is likewise filled with light, beauty, and humor. Even so, along with their topics of youth and summer, Jansson’s adult works (including The Summer Book) are also concerned with aging, the fall season (the end of summer), and death.
The Summer Book, considered a modern classic, is largely focused around the daily summer activities of a little girl and her grandmother on a remote island. The most recent publication of the book in 2008, 34 years after its initial publication in English in 1974, testifies to the power and beauty of this work. While the language of the book is syntactically simple and the subject matter is deceivingly light, its pages are filled with moments of suggestive wisdom and penetrating clarity.
The Summer Book is almost relentlessly focused on the present moment. The marching of time is continuously hinted at, but any deep concerns about the past or future are dealt with by the book with wry subtlety. “Nothing is easy when you might come apart in the middle at any moment,” Jansson’s Sophia proclaims upon composing the final lines of her book, A Study of Angleworms That Have Come Apart. While the little girl muses over the physical and intellectual life of worms, her grandmother is tasked with the book’s transcription. Sophia narrates, “The worm probably knows that if it comes apart, both halves will start growing separately. Space. But we don’t know how much it hurts.” What starts out as a potentially cute activity becomes a meditation on death and dying and growing up. Both Grandmother and Sophia are “growing up” and moving towards the end of the phase of life that they are currently living. This experience proves to be as painful and uncertain for them as it is for the worm. After narrating this line, Sophia, who is prone to outbursts of energy and petulance, suddenly stands up and shouts, “Say this: say I hate everything that dies slow! Say I hate everything that won’t let you help!” Apparently, Sophia harbors anxiety and pent-up frustration about her grandmother’s old age and her own inability to do anything about the passing of time. Meanwhile, “the wind blew and blew. The wind was always blowing on this island, from one direction to another. A sanctuary for someone with work to do, a wild garden for someone growing up, but otherwise just days on top of days, and passing time.”
As the book goes on the island becomes a metaphor for time. Grandmother thinks to herself, “an island can be dreadful for someone from outside. Everything is complete, and everyone has his obstinate, sure, and self-sufficient place… Within their shores, everything functions according to rituals that are as hard as rock from repetition, and at the same time they amble through their days as whimsically and casually as if the world ended at the horizon.”
The island is terrible to outsiders because those on the island have seemingly lost any real sense of time and of the world outside of the island. The grandmother and Sophia take refuge in this. For the most part, they ignore or make light of both past and future. That is, until it comes time to leave the island. The grandmother and grandchild act as care-takers for the island and have trouble letting go at the end of the season. But, when the little family leaves the island at the end of the summer, the island is indifferent to their leaving.
In the final pages of the book Grandmother goes outside in the cool night and finds her way in the dark to sit on a stump. She watches a boat pass by and listens to the thump of her heart and “for a long time she wondered if she should go back to bed or stay where she was. She guessed she would stay for a while.” At the end of the book, summer is coming to an end. Grandmother is approaching death and Sophia is approaching the end of childhood. But for now, in the book’s final pages, we are left with a moment of stillness in the present. Each character faces the path that Jansson leaves open for readers-- a path that gestures towards the terrors and delights of Being.
The great pleasure of reading The Summer Book is the way it combines the dark with the light. In the climax of the novella in terms of action, a massive storm wracks the island and causes extensive damage. Sophia thinks she caused the storm because earlier that day whenever she was desperately bored, she prayed to God to “let something happen.” During the storm, Sophia climbs up into a tower room and “she [sees] that the island had shrunk and grown terribly small, nothing but an insignificant patch of rocks and colorless earth. But the sea was immense… There was only this one island, surrounded by water… forgotten by everyone but God, who granted prayers. ‘Oh God,’ said Sophia solemnly, ‘I didn’t realize I was so very important. It was awfully nice of You.’”
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“Everyone wishes to be loved, but in the event, nearly no one can bear it. Everyone desires love but also finds it impossible to believe that he deserves it.” – James Baldwin, Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone (1968)
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30.07.21 : July Wrap-Up
Lol, so I read 23 books this month because I’m a bad bish you can’t kill me and also a NERD. Here’s 9 books I wanna mention: three that sucked, three that were amazing, and three that I will treasure for the rest of my life. There's a lot of amazing books I wanna talk about that I read this month but I'll cut it down for the sake of the post length.
The “I wasted my time” tier: These books were just not good, okay.
Kingdom of the Wicked was just kind of a joke, and its one redeeming quality is its setting in Sicily and all the food. The lore and the romance and even the damn plot were all... whatever. The Cousins was kinda stupid. The Lost Apothecary was a let-down for me cus my expectations of it were so high and it just fell flat imo, but that's partly on me for expecting every period piece set in London to be good.
The “Holy Shit” tier: I loved these books, all are amazing 5-star reads.
The Guest List, even with its flaws, was a 5-star for me because of how well everything tied together at the end, like I read this book in one setting because of how hooked it had me. If We Were Villains... well, it's considered the epitome of Dark Academia for a reason, and this shit even with its punchable characters had me in a chokehold. Finally, Darius the Great was so pure and emotional and all about finding your identity and tracing your roots and Persian culture. I loved it so much, even when Darius' monologue had me wondering if I was supposed to laugh or cry.
The Holy Grail tier: I audibly cried and/or choked reading these because of how jaw-dropping they are. These books were so good, I’m speechless.
The Stationery Shop was my favorite July read and I can barely articulate how this book makes me feel with its the immersive writing that created 1953 Iran. The last lines of this book will stick with me forever. House of Hollow is a one of a kind book that won't ever be replicated: it's alluring, disgusting, seductive and rotten all at once. This book is a beautiful nightmare. Finally, Malibu Rising I can solidly say was worth its hype in my opinion. The picture TJR paints of the Riva family and Nina's strife and the woes of women in this rich, classic setting won't leave me. Ever.
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July 24, 2021
New beginnings under the moonlight 🌕 - started reading the first pages of a new book at 1am, in the garden of my family's summer house, underneath the brightest Moon.
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Summer studying challenge // 3rd August - What is your least favourite thing about the beach?
People? I am not the most social person on Earth. I must say the place I have been going to in the last few years is pretty calm, which is one of the main reasons I love this place.
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