Friday, 19 November 2010

Book Review: The Odyssey [Audio]

Odyssey The Odyssey by Homer

Translated by Robert Fagles

Narrated by Sir Ian McKellen

Publisher: Penguin Audiobooks

Category: Classic

Challenges: Really Old Classics, World Religion Challenge

Synopsis: The Odyssey tells of Odysseus journey back from Troy. Odysseus manages to anger Poseidon and therefore his journey home takes 10 years. While he is away his house becomes filled with suitors who want to marry his wife Penelope.

My Thoughts: When sign-ups for Really Old Classics went up I knew I wanted to read one of the Greeks but to tell you the truth, they scare me just a bit. Because of this I was really glad when I saw The Odyssey narrated by Sir Ian McKellen in the Audible list. I figured it was perfect, the Greek epics were made to be told. Here I would get the experience the way Homer had meant it, read the book and not be quite so scared by it.

I knew the story before I listened to it, but this was the first time I listened to it because I wanted to and I think this made me approach it in a slightly different way. I treated it more as entertainment and not as a school assignment.

I have to admit the first time I came across one of the many repetitive phrases that are in the epic I thought my ipod had done something wonky. And then I remembered that the reusing of phrases is to help both the teller of the tale and the audience. But it did jar me that first time, and I have to admit the next few times as well. I think this is because I am not used to this particular stylistic device. Sure modern authors use repetitive phrases to remind their readers but not quite in the same way. After awhile I got used to it though and I did come to really appreciate it. It helped me keep people separate.

I will admit that the story reminded me of daytime soaps to some extent. All the intrigue and disguising, it just really brought to mind those soaps. I suppose this goes to show that we today find the same things intriguing as people did way back when Smile .

The mythology in it was very interesting as I am currently reading Om Gud (About God) by Jonas Gardell which is about the Old Testament and it talks about different views of God. Contrasting this with the Greek mythology posed some great insights into the way people viewed the world at the time. The close relationship between Gods and people and the way Gods became directly involved with their subjects. This is a way of viewing the world that I find fascinating.

The translation by Robert Fagles was really well done I think. I obviously can’t compare it to the original but the language felt quite authentic. Just the right mixture between “older” words such as libations but so that you could understand.

Sir Ian McKellen does a really good job with the narration. It is clear but with life in it. You can definitely tell that he is an old school stage actor. There is a certain amount of presence in the voice. He also does not give in to the stupid accents that some narrators give the different characters. The only issue I have with the audio production is actually the music at the start of each new chapter, it is REALLY grating. I actually liked having the music but just not the music itself. The reason I liked the music was that it gave me a chance to pause at a good point in the story.

Overall the story was quite exciting and the translation and narration were really good. I recommend this particular production.

Purchase The Odyssey from BookDepository


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Book Review: Indulgence in Death

Indulgence in death UK

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb

Publisher: Little Brown

Category: Crime Science Fiction

Challenges: 2010 Challenge

Synopsis: Two dead bodies in rapid succession with the only thing seemingly binding them together are the unusual weapons used to kill them with. Eve Dallas has her work cut out for her if she is to solve the murders before the body count grows.

My Thoughts: The book starts out with Eve and Roark in Ireland visiting his family and this sets up a great deal of humour because of Eve’s fear of cows. It is absolutely hilarious. They also manage to sneak in a murder mystery.

Overall this book as a nice addition to the series. It was a fairly fast read with a good mix of crime, humour and sexy steaminess. Roark and Eve do conclude that “If sex is dignified it’s not being done right” which made me snigger Smile. Even and Roark do continue their version of a happy marriage with Roark getting in Eve’s business and them having spats* over which risks Eve should take and how much she should put on herself. One rather big change for Eve is the fact that at one point they discuss the names of future children and she doesn’t get the twitch, I found that VERY interesting.

As with most of these books it is possible to figure out who the murderer( s ) are but really this mystery isn’t so much about who did it but more about the why. At first the victims seem like someone who shouldn’t be killed, not to mention the fact that they don’t seem to have any connection to each other. It was an interesting twist.

And for a personal “yay” as in Fantasy in Death there was at one point a small nod to Battlestar Galactica which the geek in me LOVED. It just made me giggle for a slightly different reason than just the joke in which the reference was contained. You got the joke even if you aren’t a BSG fan but for the fan the joke just got so much better.

*Eve will not like the word “spat” but that is what they do Open-mouthed smile

Purchase Indulgence in Death from



Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Monday, 15 November 2010

4 in 1 Book Review: King of the Murgos; Demon Lord of Karanda; Sorceress of Darshiva; The Seeress of Kell

King of the MurgosDemon-Lord-of-Karanda_thumb

Sorceress of DarshivaThe Seeress of Kell

King of the Murgos by David Eddings

Demon Lord of Karanda by David Eddings

Sorceress of Darshiva by David Eddings

The Seeress of Kell by David Eddings

Publisher: Corgi/Del Ray Books

Category: Fantasy

Synopsis: The age old struggle between the two prophesises is starting to draw to a close. Garion and his companions as well as Zandramas rush towards “The Place Which Is No More”, while dodging the increasing battles in the world. 

My Thoughts: As I said in my review of Guardians of the West for me reading these books is like meeting old friends. I know them well, and I am “in” on their inside jokes. For me reading these books are ultimate comfort reads.

In these books the characters continue the journey that starts at the end of Guardians of the West. Along the way they pick up new companions (most of who we met in some way in The Belgariad). These new companions add new dimensions to the established relationships allowing the characters to grow.

As with all fantasy this is a story about the struggle between good and evil, with all that entails. But the books do make very clear that really good and evil are perhaps not the right terms. At one point in one of the books Belgarath tells Garion that he prefers them and us rather than good or evil, because good and evil comes with baggage. I think this is an interesting philosophical and linguistic debate. What do we put into a word?

It is discussions like this along with the humour that for me make these books I loved in my early teens (I was 10 or 11 when my mum started to read the series to me) and still love today. The offer a little bit for everyone.

Purchase King of the Murgos from BookDepository

Purchase Demon Lord of Karanda from BookDepository

Purchase Sorceress of Darshiva from BookDepository

Purchase The Seeress of Kell from BookDepository


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

TSS: Plans for 2011 taking shape

The Sunday

So, yes, umm…I’ve been quiet the last week, actually probably the past few weeks. There are reasons and most of them are really small and stupid and unfortunately I think things might continue being quite until the end of January since I am once again thesising. And although that involves a great deal of reading, it isn’t really the kind of reading one blogs about. BUT I will be posting sign ups for the Nordic Challenge at the end of November so keep some space in your challenge schedule Smile. And if any of you are good at button making please get in touch with me, I could really do with a hand Smile

I am starting to keep an eye out for challenges and events coming next year and there are some up or announced already that have me really intrigued. I like challenges because they allow me to expand my reading. Consider books I otherwise wouldn’t have. I know a lot of people are saying they will be joining less challenges next year, and that might be the case for me as well, but the challenges I do join are important to me. And when I do join challenges I do try and include some challenges that allow me to read books I would have read no matter what the challenge.

A year of feminist classics

So the first challenge that has caught my eye isn’t so much a challenge as a reading group (from about page). It is a year of reading feminist classics to try and understand the historic context of the feminist movement and most of the books are already on my tbr list. For example in January the book is A Vindication of the Rights of Women by Mary Woollstonecraft. Now I’ve read parts of it but not the whole thing, definitely want to read that one. Then in March we have A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen which will fit nicely with those wanting to do the Nordic Challenge. Then there is The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir from which the title for my last dissertation came (again I read parts but not the whole thing). Yeah I kinda have to do this. I had actually planned on reading a lot of these books during 2011 anyway, but discussing them with others seems like an even better idea. So count me in. I like it because it also feels like a nice continuation on Women Unbound which I loved.

S.Krishna is continuing her South Asian Author Challenge next year and as I really enjoyed the books I read for it this year I have every intention of continuing with this one this year. I have some ideas about which books I want to read but I am also looking for some more suggestions. List and sign up to come.

war and peace vintage classics

I am also planning a year long read of the Volokhonsky and Pevear translation of War & Peace. I plan on reading a chapter a day and that way it should take me the full year to read it. This plan has the wiggle room to read ahead or catch up should I need it.


I want to read books for The Classic Circuit, January’s selection is set to be either Romans or Greeks (I’ve voted for the Romans since I just finished The Odyssey (review on 19/11)). But I also want to leave room for other authors or periods as the year progresses. It would have been great to do the ones at the end of this year but I just don’t have the time right now *sigh* stupid school.

In addition to this I don’t actually know what I will be doing in the spring. I graduate with my teaching degree in January and I am currently applying for jobs. I’ve also applied to continue grad school part- or full time depending on the job situation. I will definitely be going to school part time and if I do I will be studying two Swedish courses language structure and language and identity. I need these courses to qualify to teach Swedish in addition to English. If I am studying full time I will also be adding four literature courses so that could significantly add to my reading lists. I hope I won’t be doing all of these courses since that would mean that I didn’t get a job and I desperately want a job but…

Since some of the books I plan on reading are quite thick (War & Peace and The Second Sex are definite chunksters) other challenges will probably be geared towards smaller or easier books.


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

TSS: The Holiday’s are coming!

The Sunday

I LOVE Christmas! I’m not to fond of winter, but I do love Christmas. Yesterday Iris from Iris on Books and I were in Stockholm and they have started putting up the Christmas decorations around town and now the Book Blogger Holiday Swap has the sign-ups up for this years exchange. I took part last year and it is a tonne of fun! I’ve signed up and written my wish list Winking smile You should join up too!


Some books I would love to find under the Christmas tree:

Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecka Skloot

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

Quiverfull by Kathryn Joyce

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson

Night by Elie Wiesel

I Shall Wear Midnight by Terry Pratchett

…and you know any other book that might find its way to me Open-mouthed smile

In the next few weeks I hope to highlight some books that I think make great gifts for others, please stay tuned!


Copyright ©2010 Zee from Notes from the North. This post was originally posted by Zee from Notes from the North. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.