Circe by Madeline Miller (♦♦♦♦)

Granddaughter of Oceanus, daughter of Titan Helios and sea nymph Perseid, Circe was different from the start. While her siblings discovered their unique gifts very early on and gained their independence—either by claiming their inheritance, like Perses and Aëstes, or by marriage to a wealthy demigod, like Pasiphäe—, Circe remained among her family in the halls of the gods. Her love for young fisherman Glaucus changed everything. Circe used a potion to transform Glaucus into a worthy suitor. Glaucus, seeing his station changed, fell in love with one Circe’s cousins, a sea nymph named Scylla. Out of jealousy, Circe put a potion on Scylla’s bath and, unintendedly, transformed her into a monster. Circe’s confession forced Helios to go to see Zeus, for witchcraft is something that gods fear can tip the balance of power. Zeus declared an eternal banishment for Circe from the halls of the gods to the island of Aiaia.

Exile was not easy but, as Circe learned, it had its advantages; being away f…

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦)

It is summer, and Europe’s art world is on its knees as many painting masterpieces have been disappearing from European museums big and small. The latest theft involves a Rembrandt painting titled Portrait of a Young Woman, which was in the private home-studio of an art restorer named Christopher Liddell, who has been killed attempting to protect it.

Julian Isherwood, an art dealer who has given Liddell the painting for restoration, is on the brink of losing a fortune--and the business he has tried so hard to build—if the painting remains missing. So he contacts Gabriel Allon, master Israeli spy and assassin, who also happens to be a brilliant art restorer to recover the Rembrandt. Gabriel has been living with his wife Chiara in Cornwall, England, in exile since they both decided to leave “the Office”.

As Gabriel and Chiara follow the trail left behind by the painting since its origin, they come across a Holocaust survivor in London, the only surviving child of a Nazi criminal and a leftist journalist willing to uncover an explosive story, both in Argentina, and a Swiss billionaire, owner of a fortune covered in blood, willing to go to any lengths to perpetuate his good name. As the story focuses on the billionaire, Gabriel realizes that he needs help from the inside if he is going to bring him down.

I really liked this book. I hardly noticed that I had read the first half of the book that quickly; it was building momentum. As the book approached its conclusion, the story seemed to slow down a bit, which I think was the natural result of introducing world affairs and Middle East politics into the equation. When I read the synopsis of the book I was curious, though I didn’t think the concoction would work well, but it did.

Behind every great fortune lies a great crime”, a phrase by Honoré de Balzac, summarizes this book.

I want to read more books by the same author.