Circe – Madeline Miller [BOOK REVIEW]

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WHEN I WAS BORN, the name for what I was did not exist.

 

I was waiting for two whole months to get this book from the library. And I finally had a chance to read Circe from Madeline Miller. A book that everyone was talking about. The only thing you were gonna see on Instagram. Well, here I am – sitting with the cool kids now, I’ve read this book.

The reason I wanted to read this book wasn’t because I wanted to be part of the cool kids. Actually, it was because Greek Mythology has a special place in my heart. See, I was born in Macedonia, a country full of history, and so very close to Greece, where histories and cultures and traditions match and mix.

When I was in school, our teachers focused hard on history. Especially Roman and Greek Mythology. So yes, I grew up with Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey  and yes, I know all the gods out there, what they do, who they married, who their children are.

I have read about Circe, but I have never given her any meaning, as she is not mentioned a lot in Homer’s works, as you might already know. And then suddenly, there is a book about her life. I had to read it!

AND I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT! FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!

 

CIRCE - Madeline Miller books book review blog diary of difference bookshelf bookstagram goodreads bestseller

 

This might be my favorite book of 2018!

 

I enjoyed Madeline’s writing style. It was so explanatory and calm, and soothing, like swimming in nice calm waters. You would just gulp her words as you read, and before you know it, you have read 200 pages.

Circe, oh Circe! Her character was so well described – such a strong powerful woman. We start with her childhood, to her growing up, and we follow the process of how she learned things the hard way, how she is naive, and then suddenly isn’t, how she discovers the power she holds within, despite everyone else mocking her and saying otherwise. We see how she decides to say no, how she is not afraid to be a rebel, and how she suffers, and loves, and protects, and cares, and survives, and lives!

You will read a story about the love a mother has toward her child, the love a woman has toward her man, the love a son has towards her mother, the love for freedom, the love for glory…

If you love Greek Mythology, you will get the chance to say hi to some of your favourite gods, nymphs, titans, monsters – Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Prometheus, Odysseus and many more which I will fail to reveal.

I hardly believe that this is a great book for introducing Greek Mythology to new young readers. I also hardly believe that this book will change the thoughts of many people, the way they see things, the way they live, the way they think.

 

It was one of my favorite things about him: how he always fought for his chance.

 

There are a lot of side characters that give their own meaning to the story as well, and there is also Odysseus, and at times it feels as this is his story, but in the end you realised that this story belongs to Circe only.

 

Do not listen to your enemy, Odysseus had once told me. Look at them. It will tell you everything.

I looked. Armed and armored, she was (Athena), from head to foot, helmet, spear, aegis, greaves. A terrifying vision: the goddess of war, ready for battle. But why had she assembled such a panoply against me, who knew nothing of combat? Unless there was something else she feared, something that made her feel somehow stripped and weak.

Instinct carried me forward, the thousand hours I had spent in my father’s halls, and with Odysseus polymetis, man of so many wiles.

 

To all of you out there – please take your time to read this book! It will leave you breathless, inspired, motivated and it will change your life forever. It changed my life – that’s for certain!

 

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Book Wrap Up – June 2018

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Hello All! And just like that, it’s the beginning of July. I can’t believe that half of the year has passed. It somehow went so fast for me and I don’t even know how!

I have made a lot of progress reading a lot of my books, and I still have a huge list of books still waiting for me to read and review. You can see below a list of the books I read this month, and if you want to read a more detailed review, click on the links.

 

Here is what I have read in the month of June:

 

 

I greatly enjoyed this historical fiction. An interesting story about a man that does everything he can to try and save his wife from dying. Even if that means trying to find the secret item that one time belonged to the great wizard Merlin, from the time of King Arthur.

 

  • Cryptid by Michael Kott (paperback) – ★★★

 

I was a bit disappointed by this book, and I enjoyed the first book of this series more (Piasa). However, I truly believe that it might be interesting to some of you, as it covers the plot of how one young lady struggled through everything in life and in the end manages to find herself and be happy.

 

 

To all the lovers of Harry Potter out there – I loved this book, and you’ll love it too. I listened to the Audible version (P.S. – if you create an Audible account now, you get one audiobook for free – here’s the LINK). This is my second audiobook that I have listened to, and I really enjoyed it. A whole description about the rules of Quidditch, the most famous teams, and also the World Championship, with Rita Skeeter and Ginny Potter as reporters! So cool

 

I have won this Children’s book on a giveaway hosted by BookLikes. I don’t usually read Children’s books, and this one was quite interesting. I liked the story behind it, but didn’t really enjoy the illustrations. I think, especially with the young audience, it’s a key factor to have interesting illustrations.

 

 

A very interesting and unusual (in a good way) book, that tells a story about a nun that tries to fix a time travelling machine. It was a surprisingly refreshing read for me, and I did enjoy it, even though it’s not actually my cup of tea. The author, Jay DiNitto, was also kind enough to do an interview with me, and you can read more about it here.

 

 

An ARC provided to me by NetGalley. Unfortunately, this book did disappoint me. I expected more romance and more Alzheimer’s disease related content, but it didn’t deliver. Falling Short is a story about a lady that tries to find herself, and her mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and somehow, it turns out that her father actually might be alive, and she goes on a journey to try to find him, and also find herself as well.

 

Falling Short – Lex Coulton [BOOK REVIEW]

When I first found out about Falling Short, written by Lex Coulton, the blurb promised to be ‘’fresh, funny and life-affirming’’. I am sorry, but no. That is not correct. This book was none of those things. It wasn’t bad at all, but I would prefer describing it as a slow-paced, and confusingly complex in an unsatisfying way.

About the book:

Frances Pilgrim’s father went missing when she was five, and ever since all sorts of things have been going astray: car keys, promotions, a series of underwhelming and unsuitable boyfriends . . . Now here she is, thirty-bloody-nine, teaching Shakespeare to rowdy sixth formers and still losing things.

But she has a much more pressing problem. Her mother, whose odd behaviour Frances has long put down to eccentricity, is slowly yielding to Alzheimer’s, leaving Frances with some disturbing questions about her father’s disappearance, and the family history she’s always believed in. Frances could really do with someone to talk to. Ideally Jackson: fellow teacher, dedicated hedonist, erstwhile best friend. Only they haven’t spoken since that night last summer when things got complicated . . .

As the new school year begins, and her mother’s behavior becomes more and more erratic, Frances realizes that she might just have a chance to find something for once. But will it be what she’s looking for?

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My thoughts:

I am usually good at explaining why I don’t like a certain book, or why I feel the way I feel, and believe me, with this one, I have spent two days and 6 sittings in front of this draft (now published post) to try and write about it. So I am doing my best now…

First of all, there has to be something about a certain book to make me want to read it. With this one – there were two things:

  • I love romance and intrigue, and the blurb promised two people not really talking to each other, but sparks flying around… so yes, that got me

  • The Alzheimer’s disease – as a person that has worked with people suffering from Dementia and Alzheimer’s, this subject is very close to my heart. I couldn’t miss this book for this reason.

Now – the romance part disappointed me, as there was no romance. No romance at all. Unless, of course, you count as a romance a person in their mid-forties sleeping around with drunk teens, and is then too complicated of a character to even realise who he loves, and why, and the moment he does, he still has no idea what to do with that information.

The other disappointment I had was that I expected to read about the Alzheimer’s, and not only that they weren’t there, but also some of the symptoms mentioned were not correct at all. There were only sex relationships and sex scenes, and that was supposed to define their relationship in the end. Not realistic at all.

Even though it seems that we follow Frances’s story throughout, we actually follow Jackson’s story as well. Their characters were too complicated and confusing for me, and it let me to now feel nor care about them at all. I honestly cared about Frances’s dog the most in this book.

The plot wasn’t perfect – there were times when the information given didn’t match

[SPOILER ALERT]

The scene how Frances searches on Google to find the address of her dad. We are then told that she found out his address through Jean. Which one is it, then?

[SPOILER FINISHED – SAFE TO CONTINUE READING]

I am actually quite sad that I didn’t enjoy this book, but I will still be curious about new works from Lex Coulton, because, somehow, I really liked her writing style, despite all the flaws.

Thank you to Netgalley and John Murray Press for providing an ARC copy of this book to me, in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinion.

Interview With Jay DiNitto, Author Of Pale Blue Scratch

First of all, Jay DiNitto, thank you for taking your time to do this interview with me!

 Jay DiNitto is the author of Pale Blue Scratch, a wonderful story about a nun and her apprentice, and how they try to make a time-travel machine work.

You can download and read Pale Blue Scracth for free here.

 

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Where do you get your ideas from?

Most of the time, I get ideas from other stories, either from books, movies, or games. I don’t do this in the sense of stealing ideas wholesale, but most story ideas come from exploring how I would write a story or character different after consuming other stories.

 

Where did you get your idea for Pale Blue Scratch?

I was toying with the premise of an odd couple-type pair of sleuths trying to track down a scientist in trouble, where one of the sleuths really believes the scientist’s work is legitimate but the other sleuth doesn’t. Some of that was inspired by the Sherlock Holmes stories.

I also wanted to incorporate the philosophical idea of our senses being almost-infallible sources of knowledge. What if it clashes with scientific or practical knowledge? How is that reconciled?

I liked the idea of using religious figures as central characters, where they aren’t the scheming Big Bad or the abusive authority figure that fired up the rebellious protagonist. I took cues from what Umberto Eco did in The Name of the Rose, and The Father Dowling Mysteries (yes, I watched those). The “two guys” motif was too close to Holmes, so I changed the sex of one of them. At first it was a monk and a teenage girl, but that pairing was too unrealistic for me, so I switched them to a nun and teenager on his way to manhood. Also, I switched their personalities: the religious/teacher figure is the wild risk-taker while the teenager is the bookish, play-by-the-rules type. Their personalities are unusual but they aren’t out of control; I think too many fiction writers are careless with human behaviour and really go crazy with basically rewriting the human psyche.

I was reading a lot of anarchist writings (and watching Firefly) and came up with the “contractual society” setting. How would it work if there were no nation-state? How would roads, law enforcement, or laws themselves, work? I have interests in alternate history and alternate technology settings, so that played into the plot.

 

How do you deal with a writer’s block?

I don’t, really. I normally don’t force myself to write; I do it when I’m ready. I work full time and have a wife and kids, so that’s enough of a “block” as it is. One trick I’ve learned, regarding books, is to stop a writing session in the middle of a scene I particularly enjoy, so I have some motivation to return to it soon.

 

What does your writing process look like?

I’m middle-aged, but a young writer, and I don’t have a professional schedule, but I can describe the process for my new project (we’ll call it Project X).

I played around with premises a lot. Since so much has been addressed before and I want to make sure I’m writing about something that hasn’t been overdone. Once the premise is there, I’ll have some scene ideas, bits of dialogue, or philosophies I want to represent that go along with the premise. I like Elisabeth’s character, so Project X is another book with her in it.

For Project X, I wanted to have a society that mirrored the kind of society the ancient Hebrews lived in, in Old Testament times, so there’s a lot that has to go along with accommodating that plot point. From all those ideas I form a coherent chain of events, which eventually become chapters. From there, I’ll write summaries for each chapter before I start the actual first draft.

The biggest hurdle, especially with Project X, is determining who knows what, and when they know it. There’s lots of secrets and manipulations, so keeping characters in the dark and slowly revealing things to them takes a lot of organising.

 

How do you select the names for your characters?

Honestly, I don’t spend a huge amount of time on character names or their significance. For Pale Blue Scratch, Elisabeth takes on her religious order’s name, so a great part of her character and profession reflects that. Other than that, I normally don’t attach too much significance to names unless the story demands it.

 

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not particularly, but in Pale Blue Scratch there are a few references to the game Chrono Trigger, which is also about time travel (though actual time travel isn’t a big part of the book). If you’re familiar with the game you’d be able to spot them.

 

You can find my review of Pale Blue Scratch HERE!

Pale Blue Scratch – Jay DiNitto [BOOK REVIEW]

Pale Blue Scratch - Jay DiNitto book novel books review blog wordpress writer author diary of difference

I was lucky enough to be approached by Jay DiNitto himself, and he sent me a copy of his first novel – Pale Blue Scratch (you can read the e-book for free here) in exchange for an honest review. This is a book unlike anything else I have ever read, and it left me impressed. I dearly enjoyed it, and maybe you will too.

About the book:

“I would disassemble this body and cast it onto the coronal burn of the sun if it means I get answers.” Thus proclaims the determined Elisabeth Reese, journalist, professor, and joke-cracking nun working in alternate history San Francisco. She has one goal: to rebuild a failed time machine that caused a lethal explosion during its initial demonstration. With her reluctant protege, a young budding scientist, she searches for the machine’s plans left behind by its exiled inventor. But her pursuit is disrupted, threatened by area conflict. A faction of the deadly Al Sayf al Ahmar-the Red Sword-has been rising to power. Lead by the hulking Crazed Herald, Maalik du Mahdi, the Red Sword heed a prophecy that will culminate in a battle between two “one-armed wild men.” Du Mahdi is believed to be the first of the pair, while his counterpart could be anyone…even a small, peculiar nun from across the bay. All Elisabeth wants is to witness the impossibility of time travel, but first she must battle the odds and fulfill the present. Part steampunk and part mystery, Pale Blue Scratch explores the conflict between the senses and logic, and the lengths one may go to resolve it.

Pale Blue Scratch - Jay DiNitto book novel books review blog wordpress writer author diary of difference

My thoughts: 

As I mentioned above, this is a book unlike any other that I have read. It is a great mix of fiction / action / fast-paced scenes / philosophy / psychology and a little bit of time-travelling.

Even though we have two main characters – Elizabeth and Vincent, this book focused more on Elizabeth, for various reasons.

There were times when the scenes were slow, and somewhat a bit dull, but there were also times when there were fast-paced scenes that make me bite my nails. Though, as a whole, I found the story to not quite fit my taste. It felt like Elizabeth didn’t have a great or a strong enough reason to do this adventure.

Elizabeth’s character – now this is something quite amusing! I have never met a character like this – so twisted in a cute hypocritical way. A nun with an adorable sense of humor, that goes around on a mission to make a time-travel machine, and happens to hurt people on her way… I loved her character in a very weird way (don’t judge!)

Now Vincent didn’t quite hit the mark. He seemed more of a plain character, like a little copy of someone else, somewhere, once upon a time. He gave the impression of a person that, unlike Elizabeth, didn’t quite knew where he belonged and what he’s doing. It felt like it didn’t bother him at all. And that’s alright. The moment when this started to hurt me was at the end – when he didn’t change a bit.

Even though a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to read much about time-travelling as I would want to, this book was quite amusing and it covered various random topics that I quite liked. I loved that variety when one moment you talk about religion, the other moment a great action scene happens, and then here we are again, discussing life philosophy.

All in all, to sum it all up – I greatly enjoyed this book! It was definitely unusual read, and unique in every single way. And if you love fiction / action / a bit of time-travelling / humor and philosophy, this might be easily your new favorite book!

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The Frightened Little Flower Bud – Renée Paule, G R Hewitt [BOOK REVIEW]

I don’t usually read Children’s Books. I used to love them when I was a kid, and of course, those were the books on which I learned how to read. Those are the stories that I will always remember with happiness in my heart and they will always have a special place in my heart.

I was lucky enough to win The Frightened Little Flower Bud on a giveaway from Booklikes, and I couldn’t be happier! This is a short, cute story about one flower, and the process of how it blooms.

Before it blooms, it has many fears as to what is going to happen, it fears that the sun will dry it, and the rain will drown it, and that it won’t be as beautiful as the other flowers out there.

It reminds me of the fears that us people have every day before we go out of the door. We fear this and that, without realising to enjoy our lives, and live them like they are our last. A perfect description of how fear and doubt can let us down, but also a perfect example of what happens when you actually get the courage and go out there, and realise that yes – you can be the prettiest flower out there.

I liked how there are questions at the end of the books, to engage the little readers after reading it. However, in all honesty, I believe that the images inside the books won’t keep a kid there for very long, and they might not be the most exiting this in the world.

Quidditch Through The Ages – J. K. Rowling [BOOK REVIEW]

For every Harry Potter fan out there, there is a book in the fictional library, that somehow wizards allowed for it to be shared with us muggles.

Note: I am not a muggle, I am, of course, a wizard, but I believe Hogwarts has made some admin mistakes and my letter is yet due to arrive!

But for you muggles out there, this book has been approved to be shared, and it talks about the most famous sport in the wizarding world – Quidditch. A sport in which Harry Potter was a star, just like his father and many famous people before him!

Quidditch Through The Ages speaks about the rules of Quidditch, the history, the famous teams around the world, the most famous players, the most exciting matches, the most devastating injuries, and the most mysterious endings of the matches.

While I was listening to it (Yes, I have the audible version – actually the second audio book I have ever read/listened to), this book made me feel like I was a part of this world, the same feeling I always get when I read the Harry Potter series. J.K. Rowling is such an amazing writer, and times and times again, I wish this world was real, and I wish I was part of it.

With my audio version, I also got the bonus scenes of the 2014 World Cup being held, and it being reported by Ginny Potter and Rita Skeeter. It was the most amazing thing ever. It is also taken out from the Pottermore edition, so I think you might be able to find it online!

This book belongs to the never-forgettable shelf, alongside Harry Potter, and alongside all my other favourite books!

Note: Audible has an amazing offer that let’s you get one book for free once you sign up. So if you want to pick this book, or any other book, click here.