Review: Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt – Joyce Tyldesley

33 - Myths and Legends of Ancient Egypt.png

Rating – 3*

This month I have really been enjoying non-fiction, and as I have previously mentioned I absolutely adore the Ancient Egyptian period; I love the myth and the legend which is what made this book absolutely perfect. This book, while initially very dry and textbook-like, is actually a very rich and engaging read.

It tells Egyptian myth in four sections; Creation, Destruction, The Great Goddesses, and Heroes and Villains. Each of these is broken down further as there are a variety of stories associated with each myth and it is a perfect blend of the myth and the fact. Each story is interwoven with stories about every day life and how the story impacted on society, what it meant for them daily – she ties myth in to the unification of upper and lower Egypt, and makes comments on the legal system. While that may sound dry, to a not-so-closet Egyptology nerd it was awesome. One thing which stuck out to me is the particular attention paid to women in Egyptian myth and history which I wasn’t expecting but was pleasantly surprised by.

The reason I gave this 3* is that it just lacked something for me, I would have liked more of the myths and the stories and less of the fact (while I enjoy the fact, it does get a little dry after a while). I wouldn’t recommend this as a place to necessarily start with Egyptian myth and legend – it’s not a particularly bad place but it’s a book which requires a significant attention span!

Review: Fingers in the Sparkle Jar – Chris Packham

32 - Fingers in the Jar

Rating – 4*

Fingers in the Sparkle Jar is one of the most interesting memoirs I have read. For anyone who isn’t familiar with Chris Packham, he is probably best known for presenting shows such as The Really Wild Show and Springwatch for BBC. He has also written a huge number of books relating to wildlife and conservation. I’ll admit, I’m not an avid watcher of shows like Springwatch, but when I read the blurb of this I knew it was a book I just had to read.

This was definitely something special. Told in third person, for the most part, it jumps about his life a bit – between his childhood in the early to mid 1970s and 2003/04 after a period of severe depression which lead to an attempted suicide. It’s raw and it’s powerful and I adored it. One thing which really connected with me is that it does read more like fiction, and maybe that’s how Chris best dissociated himself from his past enough to write this, but it really set it apart from other books in this genre I have read as of late.  It sort of plays out like a therapy session, wherein stories jump in to each other and one thing makes you think of something else – each chapter being a series of tenuously connected vignettes, some first person, some third person, some are when he’s older and others when he’s younger and each chapter finishes on a monologue to his therapist. Throughout, he also relates stories of his childhood through the eyes of other people in his life and that, for me, was a really interesting concept!

I really related to young Chris, in many ways his story reflects my own. He didn’t have friends at school and spent time alone. For him, it was with wildlife and one of the most important parts of this book is his relationship with a kestrel (which he acquired illegally) which taught him so much. While this book is quite melancholy, and discusses quite a lot of difficult topics, there are moments of humour which did make me laugh out loud – I don’t want you to think that it’s all sad!

It was written so beautifully, and poetically. While initially it’s a little difficult to adjust as it’s nowhere near as brutal as some memoirs are, it’s a lot more gentle and poetic, once I was in to it I couldn’t put it down. Honestly, if Chris Packham turns his hand to fiction I will be first in line to buy it because his writing is just stunning.

I would also highly recommend the audiobook, read by Chris himself. It was a joyous listen!

Review: Brand New Ancients – Kate Tempest

31 - Brand New Ancients

Rating – 3*

At just 48 pages this is possibly the shortest book I have ever read, or rather listened to. I’ve previously read Hold Your Own, and adored it. The experience of reading that is what pushed this higher up my to read. Because it’s so short, and I’m no expert on poetry, this is a very hard thing to review for me.

Brand New Ancients is a poem in the style of those epics crafted by Homer and Ovid, and listening to it was an absolute joy. The trouble I have had with poetry in the past is finding the rhythm and listening to it took all of that out of the equation, it was read how it was intended to be. It is lyrical, there is beat to it and it as just incredible. Some of it is made to be simply read as written, but so much of it is sung or rapped and it just fits so, so perfectly with the tone of the story.

In a nutshell, the idea of this poem is that the mythical is still present in our modern lives, that gods live within us. It centres around the interconnected lives of about 10 people, and how she makes all of these characters have voices and individuality in a mere 47 pages is simply incredible.

However, for me this just wasn’t as good as Hold Your Own. Don’t get me wrong, it is incredible, it just wasn’t as good. If I had read this, I would probably have only given it 1 or 2 stars, but the simple act of listening to it boosted it considerably. I’d definitely recommend giving this a go because it’s a pretty fantastic hour of listening!

Review: Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

30 - Assassin's Apprentice

Rating – 3*

I have to say this is one of those books that I have wanted to read in what feels like forever. It came to my attention very soon after I discovered the world of booktube; I was introduced to the world by Sam (Sam’s Nonsense) and finally I have gotten around to it because she is hosting a read-a-long of all Hobb’s work (Hobb-A-Long on GoodReads).

So, I went in to this with very high expectations, maybe too high as I was a little disappointed in it.

Fitz is a fantastic protagonist, what he goes through in this book is brutal but in a relatively short space of time he is forged in to an assassin. The character development and world building in this book is pretty intense, and impressive. For what is relatively a short book, there was a huge amount of information packed in to it. I did have to sometimes pause for a little while and just read through the discussion group to put together the information that I had just read/heard.

However, for me this sincerely lacked in a lot of areas. It felt very much like a prequel to the real series, in a way it is – it’s the forging of Fitz and because it spans such a breadth of time it is bound to not cover everything. I can tell this is going to be an incredible series, and one I’m really going to enjoy. The ideas in this book are things that I really like the sound of and I am really, really looking forward to seeing how Fits – and the series – develops.

I listened to this as an audiobook, and read along with it on my kindle, and I really recommend the audiobook of this as the narrator is great. For me it was an audiobook I had to sometimes follow with the actual text as not everything settled in by just listening. But I did really enjoy it and I have picked the other two books in the Farseer trilogy up as audiobooks too.

So, on the whole this was a good book but didn’t quite live up to the image I’d built for it in my head. I can’t wait to finish this first series now!

May Wrap-Up & June Goals

05 - may wrapup

Hello lovely readers, and hasn’t it been a while? For that, I can only apologise and make excuses – those being that I have had exams, I’ve been ill and have another exam to go! So reading has taken a peculiar turn to that of textbooks, and noone wants to read a review of a biophysics or a protein engineering textbook. Noone.

Initially, May was a very positive month; I managed 5 books before the half way point. Sadly, I didn’t read anything more. 5 books a month is average for me, and I’m happy with it on the whole. Though, the books I read seem so long ago now – especially my two 5* reads Adam Bede and Cheer Up Love!

So, in the grand scheme of things, May wasn’t too bad – I have certainly read less – I just can’t remember the last time I went 2 weeks without picking up a book!

05 - june goals

My last exam is the 8th. I cannot wait for freedom! I am also going on holiday on the 17th, which will be a fabulous excuse to read! I’m really looking forward to going full steam ahead with my reading.

So goals for the month? Read all the books. I’m so ready to pick a book up again, and as a result my goals are mammoth. I want to reread Middlemarch, and maybe also some Daphne du Maurier. I want to pick up some Dickens, make a dent in my audible library, finally read The Three Musketeers. I want to read some more non-fiction for pleasure and catch up with my book club books. Maybe see what readathons are going and participate.

Basically, I want to do nothing much else. So I look forward to discussing books with you all over the coming months, as discussion will be able to take place now I’m almost free!