Showing posts from January, 2015

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…

Unbecoming by Rebecca Scherm (♦♦♦½)

Grace is living in Paris, three years after she conned her secret husband into thinking it was his idea to carry out a heist that she herself conceived, and double crossing her lover-to-be with a painting worth about two million dollars. Both young men ended up in jail for the theft, but now they are out and Grace is increasingly convinced, and logically afraid, that they will exact their revenge on her for her twisty maneuvering.
Unbecoming is a dark psychological suspense (not much of a thriller, really!) and intricate character study of a relationship that started in the early teen years and becomes muddied by lies, pretenses, and betrayal when life doesn't turn out as rosy as they hoped it would.
Moreover, it is a slow burning fire that never quite amounts to fireworks nonetheless it is impossible to put down. The four main characters, three of which are in a love triangle, are utterly unlikable, yet so human that we can't help but keep reading about the train wrecks their l…

After Acts by Bryan Litfin (♦♦♦♦♦)

Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles
Is there evidence that the four evangelists Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John actually penned the gospels under their names? If so, when did they do it and how? How did they and Jesus' apostles die? What happened in the early days of Christianity after the Bible ended? These and many other questions are addressed in After Acts.
Scholarly and didactic, written in a language easy to understand, After Acts is food for thought and a theological page turner. Also, it doesn't shy away from addressing theological controversies and differences in thoughts.
There is no filler content; everything is interesting and relevant (my book is highlighted from beginning to end). There is so much on the topic that I didn't know, that I think I'll have to re-read the book in order to absorb it completely.
Religion is one of my passions, particularly from an intellectual perspective, and in that or any other regard this book doesn't disappoint. I…

Complete Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges (part II) (♦♦♦♦♦)

Para las Seis Cuerdas [For the Six Chords (of a guitar)] (1965)
In For the Six Chords, Borges dedicates milongas (rhymed poems that can be accompanied by a guitar) to outlaws who became famous around 1890. In these milongas the themes are the knife fights and death.
Among these my favorite poem is Milonga de Manuel Flores.

Elogio de la Sombra (Praise to the Shadow) (1969)
Borges expresses in the prologue to Praise to the Shadow, “to mirrors, labyrinths and swords that my resigned reader already anticipates, two new themes have been added [to this collection]: growing old and ethics.” He also adds that “in these pages coexist, I believe without discordance, the forms of prose and verse.” Those two quotes describe, without doubt, the content of this collection of poems.
In its prologue, Borges also writes “I longed at some point for the vast respiration of the psalms or of Whitman; with the years I find out, not without melancholy, that I have limited myself to alternate some classic verses:…

Tiempo de Canallas (Time for Scoundrels) by Carlos Alberto Montaner (♦♦♦)

El Amor, La Traición y La Muerte en la Guerra Fría (Love, Betrayal and Death in the Cold War)
Surrealist poet Rafael Mallo joins revolutionary movements in his youth and travels to the SSSR in the 1930s to actively participate in the international propaganda machine to recruit intellectuals for the communist cause. He feels ideologically closer to Trotsky than to Stalin, which may eventually endanger his life and that of those he holds dear.
He meets communist heavyweights from Europe and the Americas, but the turning point in his beliefs is the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, for he goes to fight along revolutionaries the world over, and is taken prisoner, freed on the border with France, and taken again by a fascist squadron and sent to Barcelona's Montjuich prison, where he remains, sentenced to death and interrogated daily, for the next seven years. Rafael is freed from prison, or rather escapes, by the intervention of a former lover of his, who proposes him to work together …

Complete Poetry by Jorge Luis Borges (part I) (♦♦♦♦♦)

Fervor de Buenos Aires (Fervor of Buenos Aires) (1923)
In Fervor of Buenos Aires, Borges describes his devotion to Buenos Aires through a compendium of poems dedicated to streets, gardens, neighborhoods, a butchery, all seen through light changes on afternoons, nights, and dawns. He also dedicates epitaphs to ancestors, heroes, unknown people, and time gone by.
My favorite poem in this collection was Sepulchral Inscription.
Luna de Enfrente (Moon from the front) (1925)
The city is again the theme in this compilation, but in Moon from the front, Borges pays homage not only to Buenos Aires but other cities he has visited, as in Dakar, Montevideo and Mi vida entera (My Entire Life).
Borges admits in the prologue to this book that “the city from Fervor of Buenos Aires never ceases being intimate, while in [Moon from the front] is ostentatious and public…
At least two poems don’t allude to the city in this compilation: one is Manuscrito hallado en un libro de Joseph Conrad (Manuscript found ins…

My Reading Year 2014 in Retrospect

2014 was for me a great reading year. Visiting Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles, which I just discovered and love, I saw a post that made me want to replicate what she did, so I borrowed the format and the questions for this post. You can visit Jessica’s post by clicking the link above. So below is how my 2014 reading year looked like:
Books read: 40            Fiction: 38                 Non-Fiction: 2                      Re-reads: 2
Genres: (some of these overlap)
Poetry: 2½                 Historical Fiction: 12            Classics: 3
Paranormal Romance: 9                Contemporary Romance: 2
Contemporary Literature: 9            Science-Fiction: 1
Mystery/Suspense: 2                       Young Adult: 1
           Thrillers/Espionage: 4 (3 fiction, 1 non-fiction)
Jessica @ Bookworm Chronicles created these questions which I just borrowed because I found them so fun and revealing. Kudos to Jessica!
Best book of the year (I couldn’t possibly pick just one): Best of 2014Most surprising (in a g…