The Epic of Gilgamesh… and how it was boring the sh*t outta me.

After putting it off since, oh I dunno, like FOREVER, I finally purchased a copy and decided to tackle this. One of my reading projects is reading chronologically through the ages (more about that in another post) and what better way to start than with the oldest known epic.

If you are unfamiliar with what this is about, here is a brief synopsis:

*contains some spoilers if you’ve never heard of the story*

The city of Uruk is the self proclaimed most badass city in the world ruled by the handsomest, strongest, bravest guy in the world… Gilgamesh. He’s two thirds divine and also a bit of a douche so the citizens cry out to the gods for relief who respond by creating a rival for Gilgamesh. This rival, called Enkidu, is a wild man who lives out in the wilderness with the animals. Stuff happens and so a temple prostitute is sent out to the wilderness to civilize this guy. We then get an account of how Enkidu is such a man that he has sex with this woman for 7 days and 6 nights straight and suddenly he’s civilized and goes back to the city with her. He decides to fight Gilgamesh and the two decide they should become besties (obviously). They then decide to go wreck shit up in the Cedar forests of Lebanon. Later they get into a shouting match with the goddess Ishtar which culminates with Enkidu launching the thigh of the bull of heaven into Ishtar’s face (yes you read that correctly). Obviously Enkidu needs to die for that disrespect and Gilgamesh is inconsolable. He decides to go on yet more adventures to try and find a way around death and seeks out Utnapishtim, the Noah character of the Sumerian flood story. This ends up not working how he planned and eventually Gilgamesh learns that death is inevitable and so he decides to go back and rule his city that he abandoned.

My thoughts:

I have to point out that I didn’t do a lot of research before beginning this and so I picked up a copy without verifying the version (total rookie mistake). Being such an old story, there are many different versions of it recorded on stone tablets in languages ranging from Akkadian to Babylonian. I knew a little background of the story before reading so I was somewhat bewildered when I started reading and whole sections of the text were missing. Not only is it an ancient text with nothing I can relate to, it was also missing large chunks of the story (see below) and there were long sections where I wasn’t sure what was happening. Needless to say I started getting bored and put it away for days at a time.

Determined to get through it, I bought the audiobook… and LOVED it. Because I purchased the audiobook of the ancient Babylonian version there were fewer gaps and it flowed so smoothly and George Guidall as a narrator is on point. I was able to follow along for the most part with my paperback and the experience went from boring to thoroughly entertaining.

The story itself is difficult to critique. This is a piece of literature that is thousands of years old, so while I cannot stand Gilgamesh, I understand that to an ancient he probably had impressive qualities. I also realize that I probably do not appreciate it for the reasons I should. I was amused and entertained when a contemporary of the work would have been awed and impressed. There were adventures galore but I found myself giggling a lot because Gilgamesh was super extra and a lot of the dialogue amused me.

All in all, I do think the book ended on a serious note and focusing on a solemn theme and I do think there were a lot of adventures but I could not stand any of the characters. I am glad I’ve read this and I would love to hear other people’s opinions of it so please tell me if you loved or hated this.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s abc

Happy Sunday! Or happy whatever-day-you-are-Reading-this! So, my daughter Bella immediately spotted this book at Barnes and Noble the other day because she’s a huge fan of the original Very Hungry Caterpillar Book and even though we have several other abc books, I bought it because I typically have a rule that I never say no to buying a book (within reason). Well we brought it home and have been going through it everyday for the last couple weeks and I have to say that I didn’t expect to like it this much.

Bella’s thoughts:

She likes the paterpiller (Caterpillar) and the letters. “It’s so funny”.

My thoughts:

I love the bright colors because it instantly draws the eye to the page and Makes it easy for a two and three year old to focus as you read through the letters. Since the book features the same Caterpillar and art work from the original book, it makes it easily recognizable and I appreciate that for Bella who loves the original book. Another thing that I love is the fact that each letter takes up most of the page. I was getting really tired of books that feature the letter and then a picture of some sort and some words because often it distracts a small child from the main point, which is the letter. But what I love most about this book is that it is all lower case letters. Most of what they read is in lower case and it is often recommended to begin there. Of course, the kids are going to learn all their letters regardless, but if I can help my daughter become a confident reader in any way, I will try.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the height of the letters. In trying to make the letters cute and chubby, some of the letters are not tall enough. As an example, Bella is constantly confusing d and a because the tall part of the lower case d is not that tall so it looks a bit like an a and I can easily see why she keeps making that mistake.

All in all it’s adorable and engaging for a little one who’s interested in “doing letters” and learning to read.

Once Upon a River: my thoughts

Hey, fellow readers! Unrelated to the review, but totally related to the cover of this book: this book had been on my shelf for over two weeks and I was probably a good 100 pages in before I realized that the river on the cover is actually a swan. 😆 See, what had happened was with the lighting being dim and all and with my eyesight… ok fine, I just didn’t notice.

A brief synopsis: On a cold winter’s night, Mid Winter’s night in fact, a group of regulars are gathered at their favorite inn on the river, drinking and telling stories when a severely injured man bursts into the inn with a drowned little girl in his arms. When the little girl, who is clearly dead, awakens several hours later, it sets off a chain of events and the reader is left to guess whether something supernatural is at work here or whether there is a rational explanation.

My thoughts:

I really loved the characters in this book. They were so fleshed out and complex and with the amount of main characters, that was no small feat. I think Robert Armstrong is my favorite character I’ve come across in years. Rita Sunday was also a favorite of mine. I love how Ms. Setterfield managed to make a strong female character without trying to make her “edgy” and unpleasant. I was so invested in everything that was happening to all of these characters that I even shed a few tears when they encountered certain situations. I also thought it clever how she incorporated a black main character in a book that takes place in Victorian England. She managed to make me hate the antagonist(s) and love the rest of the characters so I’d say she nailed the characters.

As far as plot is concerned, I could not put this down once I picked it up. The atmosphere was perfect and I love how the different character’s paths intertwined to create a real suspenseful read. The whole book was incredibly mysterious and for most of the book I was wondering whether something paranormal was going on or whether there was some rational explanation for everything that happened. There were also a lot of difficult themes in this book that could potentially trigger some people but I really felt it was worth it. I found the parts dealing with the loss of a child to be especially difficult but the end result was so worth it.

The book was also very beautifully written. It came across like literary fiction without being to flowery and over the top so I really think people who shy away from LitFic would enjoy it if they like a good mystery.

It may only be February but I can tell this is going to be one of my favorite books this year and I will be recommending this book to everyone I know.

Daughters of the Lake: My Thoughts

Brief synopsis:

Kate Granger has the perfect life. She has her dream job and her dream husband all the while being an heiress.

This all changes when she begins having strange dreams about a mysterious young woman and also finds that her husband is having an affair. She runs home to mom and dad to regroup and is shocked when a young woman’s body is washed up on the shore by her parents’ house. Nobody can figure out who the woman is but Kate recognizes her as the woman from her dreams. Now it is up to Kate to figure out what happened to this woman as she rebuilds her own life.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this book enough that I kept reading even when I was thinking “REALLY?!”. The main character was as relatable as an attractive Caucasian heiress with a home on Lake Superior and free access to a quaint Bed and Breakfast and Open Bar can be to me. That being said, I actually did like her and did relate to her struggles. The book is technically a ghost story and I enjoyed the melancholy aspect of it. I enjoyed how the dreams were incorporated and how the book switched between the past and present. The actual writing was ok. Not too descriptive that I learned how the different shades of red on a flower made a character feel and not completely lacking in description either.

The plot was interesting if a little far fetched (but hey it’s a ghost story so I guess that’s ok) and there were a handful of very likeable characters. HOWEVER, there was so much in this book that was a little too good to be true. There does end up being a slight love interest in the book but it strikes me as being too good to be true. The utterly freaking perfect gay guy confidante who happens to be on hand and gives Kate access to open bar at his beautiful bed and breakfast all the while gushing over her was wayyyy too perfect. I found myself wishing he was my best friend and I really enjoyed his character but man if it wasn’t hard to believe.

The ending was a little… much… but again it’s a ghost story so ok. As far as the supernatural is concerned, there are a couple of spooky moments but nothing really scary so I would not consider this horror or even hardcore suspense. I would recommend this book to anyone who’d be interested in a light gothic read.

All in all I enjoyed it and give it 3/5 stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

The most disturbing book I’ve read this year…so far

Hello fellow readers. Today I wanted to discuss a book that really disturbed me. I am still gathering my thoughts and I am unsure as to whether I liked or hated this book. The book in question is… the Dumb House by John Burnside.

A brief synopsis:

Young Luke is fascinated with the secrets of the human soul and how it relates to human language. He becomes obsessed with a story his mother told him as a child about the Dumb House, a palace where children were raised in complete seclusion and never hearing human speech. He decided to conduct his own experiment with children and creates his own version of the Dumb House.

My thoughts:

The book is told from Luke’s perspective and I have to say that it was very disturbing to be inside the mind of a psychopath. The book opens where it eventually ends and we go back into Luke’s childhood and his relationship with his parents. From the onset it is very apparent that his family environment is unhealthy. Without over analyzing, I saw that he was governed completely by his mother who haunts the rest of the story. His relationship with his father is almost nonexistent. As he grows older, his twisted tendencies go unchecked (you might even say that they were encouraged) and he takes it upon himself to begin experimenting on animals seeking answers about life and the question of where soul comes into play. His later relationships with other characters are twisted and when he performs his biggest “experiment” I was appalled.

As a human and especially as a mother I was completely disgusted and uncomfortable throughout the whole book. I found certain parts very difficult to read.

The writing was excellent. The sentence structure and language were well done and narrating the book from Luke’s thoughts were a great way to present such disturbing content. I was inside his mind the entire time and I was uncomfortable even while I kept reading. Beginning the book at the end and then working from his childhood to the end was probably the best way this story could have been told. While I would consider it a psychological thriller, it is not the quickest paced book out there. Nevertheless, even with the disturbing content and relatively slow pace, I found myself turning pages wanting to know what happened next and hoping it wouldn’t get any worse. It did.

All in all I found it to be disturbingly interesting though I probably won’t read this again. This is not a book I’d recommend to everyone but if you are looking for something disturbing to read that isn’t as gory as some other more horror type books than this might be worth your time (though I’d recommend checking out my warning below).

Warning ⚠️

This books contains elements of child abuse, possible child molestation, rape, exploiting of mental illness, and cruelty to animals.

If you’ve read this book please tell me what you thought. I’m still gathering my thoughts and can’t tell how I’d rate it but I’d love to discuss with someone.

A mid year recap of my least favorite books this year

Now that we are officially halfway through the year, I was thinking back over all the books I’ve read so far and there a few that I have very strong feelings about so I thought I’d share what some of my favorites and not so favorite books are. Part 1 is dedicated to my least favorite books and Part 2 is dedicated to my favorite books so far in 2018.

Let us begin with the Books I didn’t enjoy so much in the first half of 2018:

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I was a little let down by this book and I’m not quite sure why.  I had such high hopes for it because it was a multi generational historical fiction book with what I guess would be considered magical realism and/or supernatural elements.  It’s not a bad book and the writing was good, I guess I was just expecting more.

 

 

city of brass

This is another book I had high hopes for.  After reading The Golem and the Jinni I was super excited when I heard about this book on the All the Books podcast and ran and picked it up immediately.  I was severely let down by this one. The concept of this book was fascinating but I found most of the dialogue to be very juvenile (which is perfectly awesome when I’m expecting it) and though it was marketed as an adult book, I found that it felt much more like a YA novel.  I have nothing against YA and enjoy reading YA books WHEN I AM IN THE MOOD FOR THEM. But this had a lot of what my 11 year old would call “cringe-y” dialogue and plot.  I found the whole thing to be a little cheezy and overdone.  I really wanted to like this but I doubt I’ll read the next one.

 

abc murders

*Sigh* I hate to add this one to my non fave list because I feel like I am betraying my queen.  I am a definite Agatha Christie lover and have been doing a read through challenge of the Poirot books, but this one is not my cup of tea.  Part of why I love reading Agatha Christie is because of the cozy yet clever mysteries presented in her books and this one felt a little too much.  It was a little over the top for me.

 

villette

People aren’t kidding when they say this isn’t Jane Eyre.  Aside from the obvious “well duh, it’s a completely different book” it really is different.  I did not hate this book and I mostly enjoyed it because it still had that element of melancholy throughout, but I found it very slow to start and the ending was like getting hit by a bus.  I immediately said “WHATTTT????!!!!” and went online to see if I had interpreted it correctly.  I had, and I was very taken aback by this book’s ending.  Still worth the read though.

 

So that is all for my least favorite books this year.  Please let me know if you love or hate any of these books.  Maybe I am missing something! Stay tuned for my favorite books so far in 2018.

 

 

My thoughts on The Name of The Wind… all 672 pages of it

I got this as a gift from my husband for my birthday last year.  He was so proud that he actually went to the bookstore and got a recommendation for me based on books he knows I like.  Problem was, I started reading it and my attention wandered so I put it down.  I came back to it a month later and read the first chapter and found it mildly interesting, but got distracted by another book and put it down again.  After listening to my husband tease me for 6 months about how I must hate it because he gave it to me, I finally picked it back up again last month and I am so freaking glad that I did.

A brief synopsis:

The book is an epic fantasy that follows Kvothe as he recounts the story of his early life and the tragic events that led up to (and including) his years at the prestigous magical school.

That synopsis is short as hell for a book as big as this one.

So I think what initially caused me to put the book down was the fact that in the very beginning we meet three very unexciting characters who don’t really pull you in.  But once you discover that none of them is the main character and they are merely sitting in the same room as him, the pages fly.

It is difficult to describe what I feel about Kvothe.  Over the course of 600+ pages we get to know him very well and he really is very kind and very loyal, but it can get a bit tedious reading how he is basically the best there is at anything.  Oh? You have a Masters Degree in underwater basket weaving?  Give Kvothe 5 minutes to read a chapter or two about the subject and he will be ready for his Doctorate in underwater basket weaving.

That being said, once I got into the actual narrative I constantly wanted to know what happened next. There are some nicely fleshed out characters and a nice balance between world building and plot. I think it’s hard to find the right balance in a book as large as this one and the fact that it was so well done in this book makes me think it would appeal to any fan of fantasy whether you prefer plot driven or character driven stories. As far as the world building is concerned, I don’t think I have been as enthralled by a fictional world since I read The Lord of the Rings. (And no I am in no way comparing this to the LOTR, I just really fell in love with Tolkien’s world)

My biggest gripe with this book is that after getting sucked in and purchasing the next one, I realized that it’s the first in a trilogy and the final book has yet to be published and there is no (to my knowledge) publish date as of yet. I despise starting series when there is no conclusion so this was rather annoying for me. All the same I loved this book and I’m holding off reading the next (or trying to at least) until I have an idea when to expect the last one.

So in short, I’d say that this is the most quality fantasy that I’ve read in years. And while LOTR will probably forever remain on top for me, I’d say this book earned a place on the same shelf.