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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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.

Angry Book Reviewers

We’ve all seen it. We finish a book we love and we eagerly go to to goodreads or another social media platform because we NEED to talk about this book we loved and in the midst of all the other glowing reviews or book discussions there’s 20 comments from people who absolutely HATED it. Not just simple “I didn’t like this book because insert reason here” comments, but scathing, insulting “you must be stupid, your father was a hamster and your mother smelled of elderberries and you are basically the worst if you like this book” or insulting comments towards the author. In a day and age where cyber bullying is widely recognized as a legitimate thing, the book community is the last place I expect to see this kind of thing, but there it is. Over the last few weeks I’ve seen quite a few nasty encounters while scrolling through goodreads and it absolutely boggles my mind. Since when did it become ok to insult others because they like something you don’t? And how dare people insult an author because a book was not for them. What’s worse is that these nasty comments are no longer confined to their own posts, often these types of things get posted in response to someone who writes a positive review. So today I just have a few of things to say. If you are being harassed by one of these losers, paper cut that B. If you are an author who spent countless hours working on a book from your heart, thank you for your hard work and for giving readers one more book to choose from. If you are one of those losers who thinks it’s ok to insult people whether they created something you don’t like or they like something you don’t, cut that shit out. And if you choose to bless me with some insults on social media because I like a book, I will not hesitate to paper cut you.

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 ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Merch

So this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about bookish merchandise and since I’m always on the look out for bookish merch, I thought I’d participate and check out all the other bloggers’ lists as well.  I was originally going to include bookish merchandise that I own, but finally decided against in case this post mysteriously makes it into my husband’s web browser this Christmas season.

Husband: “Nicky, what’s this?”

Me: *wide eyed* “huh? what?”

H: “this” *points to my blog post in his browser*

me: *deer in headlights* “I dunno” *breaks into a mumble*

If you are not aware, Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at That Artsy Reader Girl’s blog and it is fun to go check out other bloggers’ responses to the weekly prompts.  So without further ado, here are 10 bookish items I want in my life that I don’t have already.

Matilda Relaxed Tee

Matilda was one of the first Roald Dahl books I ever read and this shirt is adorable.

Coffee and a Classic Subscription Box 

I have a love hate relationship with subscription boxes but this one is in my future.

Hobbit poster

Because why wouldn’t I want to hang up a poster of the full book?  This is definitely an item I plan to buy.  I might even put this in the guest bathroom for those guests that forget their smart phones 🙂

Dracula Tee

A shirt for one of my all time favorite books? Yes please.

Hobbit locket

While I’ve been eyeing a sterling silver book locket for months, I had to include a picture of this one because I love Tolkien.

A… Book

Do I need an excuse to want another book?

Socks for my little one to run around in and tear up the house

A pillow to prop my my big head up when I stay up to 3am reading

This kickass mug

Ideal for coffee or booze.

This Ballcap

I love ballcaps and I love books.  Enough said.

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.

Top Ten Tuesday ||Bookstores and Libraries

Hello friends! I’m sure you’ve all heard of Top Ten Tuesday but if you haven’t, it is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish but now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. Basically every week has a bookish theme and bloggers then create lists based off that theme. While I don’t always participate, I always check out different posts and it helps find bloggers to follow. This week however, I could not help but participate because this is something I think about all the time. This week’s theme is My top ten bookstores or libraries I’d like to visit. I had a really hard time keeping it down to just ten so I may include 12!

1. Honesty Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, Wales

Hay-on-Wye is one of several book towns I’d love to see in my day and this shop and town just look charming and delightful. I just hope I get to visit here when I eventually visit the UK.

2. New York Public Library

One of the couple on this list I’ve actually been to before but would love to see again. I grew up in New York so I know that NYPL is actually many libraries but there is the one branch that is the main one everyone thinks of and it is beautiful. It is also a National Historic Landmark.

3. Waterstones

I hear Waterstones pop up a lot when watching booktube videos and since I live in the States, we don’t have one here.

4. Shakespeare and Company, Paris, France

A bookstore named Shakespeare and company in Paris? Yes, please. Also the history of this place involves Nazis and the whole nine, so again, YES PLEASE.

5. Book and Bed, Tokyo, Japan

This is one of those places that keep popping up in my Facebook feed and it looks super neat. A library you can sleep at!!!!!! My work requires us to travel to Japan from time to time so I know where I’ll be spending a night next time!

6. The Strand, New York City

Another of the ones I’ve visited in the past. A huuuuuge bookstore I would love to rediscover this place as an adult as I was a child the last time I went.

7. The Library of Congress, Washington DC

Me cheesing as we pass the Library of Congress

I have been here, and in fact I was here last week for work. Sadly, we had to catch a plane and I was unable to explore to my heart’s content.

8. Cafébreria el Pendulo, Mexico City

This is a two floor coffee shop, restaurant and book store with beautiful greenery inside. This is one place I will definitely visit if I ever make it to Mexico City while in Mexico.

9. Hangzhou Zhonghuge, China

This is another of those that keep showing up in my Facebook feed and people keep tagging me in it as well. A stunning architectural labyrinth of a bookstore. While I’ve been to Hong Kong and Singapore, I’ve never been to China itself and I don’t know if I’ll ever be lucky enough to go, but if I dream it long enough maybe it’ll happen.

10. Powell’s Bookstore, Portland, Oregon

The largest independent bookstore in the world. It takes up an entire city block and I have been wanting to go here for years. I always thought the Strand was the biggest til I heard about this place. Since we live in California now, I’ve been nagging my husband for a road trip up the West coast culminating here at this bookstore. Maybe it will happen this year.

11. Brattle Book Shop, Boston, Massachusetts

This is a used book store in Boston where you can find cheap used books, but they are very well known for finding rare books, old books and first editions. I love the look of this place and I love Boston so I will make this one happen some day!

So I cheated and went with 11 instead of 10 but I couldn’t help it. I had so much fun with this theme. I love traveling and I travel every now and again for work so I hope I get so see more of these places. Have you been to any of these places?