Posts Tagged 'd’aulaires book of greek myths'

Book Review: Circe, by Madeline Miller

Fairy tale retellings through a feminist lens have gotten super popular lately.  Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland…all of them have had eager authors writing them darker, edgier, stronger. That doesn’t mean they’ve all been done well.

tenor

For a true reinvention of a classic myth, look no further than Circe, by Madeline Miller. It. Is. FANTASTIC. I read it in a day because I simply couldn’t put it down. (I was on vacation, sure, but still. One day!)

circe

Miller’s reinvention keeps many of the same beats as the original Greek myth. Circe is a nymph born to Perse, an oceanid, and Helios, Titan god of the sun. She has a talent for witchcraft, which gets her into trouble. She eventually is banished to an island, where she lives a solitary life amongst the lions and wolves. When sailors land or are shipwrecked there, she turns them into pigs. She meets Odysseus and seduces him into staying on her island for a year.

This leaves a lot of blank space as to who Circe really is, what motivates her, what her thoughts and hopes and fears consist of. And it’s in those blank spaces that Miller’s creation really shines. Her Circe is a lonely, unloved child, not-quite god and not-quite human, roaming the immortal halls of her parents desperate for some emotional connection amongst the perfect, cold Titans and nymphs. She finds it briefly in the tortured Prometheus, punished in front of all Titans for the sin of bringing fire to man, who bestows to her the words that will come to define her:

Not every god need be the same.

Continue reading ‘Book Review: Circe, by Madeline Miller’

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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten “Older” Books You Don’t Want People To Forget About

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week, they post a topic and encourage fellow bloggers to list their own top ten answers. This week’s Top Ten Tuesday asks us to post the top ten “older” books we don’t want people to forget about! The definition of “older” in this case is pretty loose, but the goal is to highlight books that might be forgotten about or passed over in the flurry to read new releases. I’m choosing to interpret this as books I enjoyed when I was a youngster that have never seemed to reach a wider audience, at least that I’ve seen.

1. Catwings, by Ursula K. LeGuin
I loved this book when I was younger! And it was only recently that I discovered that LeGuin had written this book, about a family of cats inexplicably born with wings. (This might signal that I had naturally good taste as a child, which is not true at all; I just read whatever I got my hands on!) While it isn’t as famous as her later works, like The Left Hand of Darkness, it’s still a moving, quietly interesting novel that is perhaps more suitable for a younger audience.

2. Serengeti Cats, by Alice Schick
Another favorite of mine as a young reader, Serengeti Cats is actually a novel detailing the lives of a lion cub, a cheetah cub, and a leopard cub as they grow up in the African plains. The mix of actual information about the great cats and the novelization of their lives had me spell-bound. If you have a kid in your life who loves animals but doesn’t want to read dry nonfiction about them, this would be a great gift.

3. The Darkangel Trilogy, by Meredith Ann Pierce
Before Bella and Edward, there was Aeriel and Irrylath. I think this series introduced me to the concept of angst, and subsequently made me a lifelong devotee. While her second YA fantasy trilogy, The Firebringer Trilogy, is considered more popular, I absolutely loved the moody, dark fairytale atmosphere of The Darkangel. It is heartbreaking, inspiring, and hopeful all at once.

4. Loch, by Paul Zindel
Like Catwings, Loch was a book written by a popular and well-known author, in this case Paul Zindel, who also wrote YA classic The Pigman. . And again like Catwings, Loch represented a less popular entry in the author’s oeuvre. Because I was a hugely nerdy child, I loved reading about I also remember it as being one of the first books I had read to contain a level of casual violence that appealed to me. (So be aware, if your kids read this one, that there are gory scenes of people getting eaten!)

5. Raptor Red, by Robert T. Bakker
Told from the point-of-view of a female velociraptor, Raptor Red is the story of what the day-to-day life of a large, carnivorous dinosaur might look like. The world-building is phenomenal and Raptor Red herself is a wonderfully-written, sympathetic, decidedly-non-human heroine. Bakker treats his subject with remarkable insight and imagination, and has the academic credentials to back it all up. You don’t even have to be a dinosaur fan to enjoy this book (though who doesn’t like dinosaurs?!). Just an FYI: there is dinosaur sex in this one.

6. D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, by Ingri D’Aulaire and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire
Such a classic! The best possible way to learn your Greek mythology was with this collection. There are certain illustrations that I can recall from memory to this day.

7. The Babysitters Club Series, by Ann M. Martin
These are pretty well-known, but I feel like YA has really shifted away from this sort of episodic, realistic, younger-reader fare. These books were a source of major bonding with some of the gals who are my best friends to this day, and I definitely wanted to start my own babysitters club. Don’t let the BSC be forgotten!

8. The Unicorn Chronicles, by Bruce Coville
Better known for the My Teacher is an Alien books, Coville nonetheless can spin a good yarn about an imperiled fantasy world and the girl who finds herself stuck there. I think I only read the first in the series, but even now I’d like to know what happens to Cara and Lightfoot.

9. Sixth Grade Secrets, by Louis Sachar
As a fifth-grader, I really enjoyed this book, probably because the characters in it were slightly rebellious and got into trouble, two things I never would have done at school. The relationships between the girls and boys also struck me as being realistic, and it was probably one of the first times in my life that I actively ‘shipped a literary couple. Very engaging and very funny.

10. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
I am a Jean Craighead George megafan, so I hope that ALL of her books remain popular! However, my sentimental favorite has got to be Julie of the Wolves. I probably read and reread this a hundred times as a kid, always imagining myself as Julie. She is a great heroine, and the wolves have unique and interesting personalities.

What older books do you hope remain unforgotten?


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