Spring weather arrived – on SOME days, but there was still plenty of reading time last month.
I really enjoyed every one of these books, but A Thousand Ships was the best of a very good stack of books.
The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi (2020)
A lovely book about the choices women make to survive – those made voluntarily, and those foisted upon them – all set in the vibrantly described, caste-conscious city of Jaipur in the 1950’s.
The City We Became, by N. K. Jemison 2020)
Wow, wow, wow! I confess that it has been decades since I have read any new scifi/fantasy, so I expected the genre to have grown, but Jemisen’s book was way beyond my expectations. Not since China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station have I had so much fun while being so terrified of the unseen possibilities out there. In what is the first of a new series, we watch New York City come alive – in the most literal sense of the word. I don’t want to spoil it for you…. but before you crack the spine of this fantastic read, take a moment to think about NYC’s “personality”.
Did I say wow?
The Glass Hotel, by Emily St. John Mandel 2020)
Absolutely nothing like her previous book, Station Eleven, but quite mesmerizing in its own way, with the dreamy way in which it inhabits different time periods in the minds of its characters. At the heart of a story involving financial corruption is the beautiful Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodge on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. The settings alone are worth the read, but the characters – especially Vincent – are riveting.
The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch (2006)
An incredibly entertaining romp, smart and funny in the way that David Eddings’ Belgariad struck me when I read it years ago. There’s magic, there’s danger, there’s sarcasm, there are monsters (both human and other), there are heroes, there are gods, and there are lots and lots of con artists. So glad it’s a series!
Klara and the Sun, by Kazuo Ishiguro (2021)
What a lovely, lovely story about the possibilities in artificial intelligence – Klara is an AF (Artificial Friend) with the insatiable curiosity that eventually allows them to understand what love is. A great antidote to Daniel Wilson’s vision in Robopocalypse!
The Body in the Garden, by Katharine Schellman (2020)
A fun first Lily Adler mystery, set in 1815 London. Comparisons to the characters in Jane Austen’s “Sanditon” are acknowledged by the author, who based at least one of her characters on that work. The plot moves along quickly, with lots of entertaining side forays into fashion and society. Captain Jack is clearly destined to become a romantic interest in future books…. roguishly charming, so I’ll be glad to see him return!
The Twisted Ones, by T. Kingfisher (2019)
Good old-fashioned creepy, offset by the main character’s laugh-out-loud descriptions of her interactions with a group of aging hippies, a Goth barista, and her heroic (maybe) and flatulent (definitely) redbone coonhound Bongo. What a treat to read!
A Thousand Ships, by Natalie Haynes (2021)
Without a doubt, Chapter 8 was my favourite of this book (Penelope’s first letter to Odysseus at the point of his 10-year absence fighting Troy in order to get Helen back to Menelaus), but every chapter had an interesting perspective to share from the women whose stories were overshadowed by those of the “heroes” celebrated in the written lore. As the muse Calliope says of Creusa, “She isn’t a footnote, she’s a person. And she – all the Trojan women – should be memorialized as much as any other person. Their Greek counterparts too.” The male Greek and Trojan “heroes” are given a critical once-over as Calliope leads the bard through the writing of his epic saga. And, hilariously, each time we hear again from Penelope, as Odysseus roams the seas having epic adventures instead of returning home, her sarcasm grows deeper.
You do need at least a basic knowledge of Homer’s “Odyssey” to really enjoy this book, but with that background, it’s a fun romp…. and was my favourite book of the month (but then, Greek legends and mythology were always one of my favourite nerdy pleasures).