Book Review: A Golden Age

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Rating: ★★★★☆

While I was looking for non-fiction novels about the history of Bangladesh, I came across this. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for but, nonetheless, I enjoyed it just as much. A Golden Age tells the story of the Haque family’s experiences during the war from the perspective of Rehana. A Golden Age begins with a newly widowed Rehana who had been declared unfit by a judge and has had her children taken away. By the second chapter, 20 or s0 years have passed. It’s now 1971 and her children have returned, but the shame of what she had to do stays with her all these years. The novel follows Rehana’s life during Bangladesh’s war for independence. As her children become politically involved, Rehana finds herself drawn into the war as well. While her children are motivated politically, Rehana’s desire for her children’s safety drives her through the entire novel.

My favourite part was beginning of the novel and how Anam introduced the land and country. was I loved the way she described Bangladesh, the culture, the food, the people and the landscape. It was, at most times, so calming and beautiful before everything goes terribly wrong.

Through A Golden Age, Rehana is more of a witness than an active member, like her children. We never witness the full atrocities that the people suffered but we do encounter the result of them through her eyes as we follow her from her home to refugee camps. And not knowing fully what the Pakistan army was doing, we’re thrown into the same tense situation is Rehana in. We learn the real costs of war through the lives of this semi-real family. (I believe Rehana was based on Anam’s grandmother and her experiences) I loved the way she described Bangladesh, the culture, the food, the landscape. It was, at most times, so calming and beautiful.

No one should really think of this as an actual account of what happened but an introduction that can incite further research. A Golden Age is more personal and human, and I felt plenty of emotion while reading Rehana’s story. A Golden Age was a good introduction to Bangladesh’s fight for independence, especially for me who grew up knowing barely anything apart from the fact I was born on the same date it started.


you can find the book at:
GoodReads | Author bio | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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Book Review: Aceldama

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you can find the book at:
GoodReads | Author’s website | Amazon | Bookdepository
my review:
Rating: ★★★☆☆
~e-copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review~

After purchasing a coin, Tim Harrington starts to have nightmares that become dangerously vivid. When he goes into a coma, his wife, Anna, embarks on a journey and soon learns that an ancient curse is what’s keeping her husband unconscious. She finds herself returning to Paris but her search for the truth goes much further in history. She has no choice but to follow her instinct, even if it means going against scientific logic, history and her own beliefs.

Aceldama has an intriguing premise. It was interesting reading this story as this coin is slowly passed through history, impacting the lives of all its bearers until it reached the hands of Tim Harrington. Hazen has created this intricate line of action with a variety of engaging characters. There were moments of great suspense and paranormal detail. I was intrigued by Anna as a protagonist and was attached to her from the beginning to the end as she did all that she could to save her husband.

However, for no one’s fault apart from my own, I found it difficult to start this book. I wasn’t at all captivated at the beginning but that did certainly change once everything started going. The mix of different perspectives was hard to follow at first, which was strange because I don’t usually struggle with that. For example, there’s scenes set in Jerusalem around AD30 (I think) but the language used didn’t fit into the timeframe. The way some of the characters talked felt too modern for that time period and, to me, it felt jarring. There were moments, especially in the beginning, of info dumping which was a struggle to get through but, overall, it was an interesting read.

Kindle Edition, 285 pages
Published May 12th 2016 by Black Rose Writing (first published June 25th 2009)
ASIN: B01F7Q62M6

BOOK REVIEW: Helen of Sparta by Amalia Carosella

you can find the book at:

GoodReads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Author Website

goodreads summary:

Long before she ran away with Paris to Troy, Helen of Sparta was haunted by nightmares of a burning city under siege. These dreams foretold impending war—a war that only Helen has the power to avert. To do so, she must defy her family and betray her betrothed by fleeing the palace in the dead of night. In need of protection, she finds shelter and comfort in the arms of Theseus, son of Poseidon. With Theseus at her side, she believes she can escape her destiny. But at every turn, new dangers—violence, betrayal, extortion, threat of war—thwart Helen’s plans and bar her path. Still, she refuses to bend to the will of the gods.

A new take on an ancient myth, Helen of Sparta is the story of one woman determined to decide her own fate.

my review:

Rating:
★★★★☆

Helen of Sparta begins long before the infamous Trojan War, this novel details the supposed abduction of Helen by Theseus, King of Athens, with Helen as a willing participant.
Helen carries a heavy weigh on her shoulder. A princess to Sparta, but also a daughter of Zeus. Hated by her mother but also an heir to inherit the throne. Helen’s gifts from Zeus not only give her beauty, but dreams that foresee the future. In a recurring nightmare, she envisions the Trojan war and the death of her family when she is married to a childhood friend. Determined to escape her fate, Helen makes plans to escape to Athens with King Theseus. Finally feeling freedom, the gods continue to punish Helen for her actions; however, Helen still continues to forge her own future.
Carosella offers a fresh take on Greek mythology from Helen’s point of view. I was captivated by the mix of historical fictions and mythology, along with Helen fiery determination to not be the damsel in distress. Helen’s world is brought to light with the power of the gods and the brutality of the history. Overall, Helen’s story is packed with  well developed emotions and an intense plot. With a rather abrupt ending, I am hoping there is a second one in the making.
However while some characters are well written, some are very flat and I find myself questioning the irrationality of some of their actions. For example, I struggled to understand why a princess was so often alone, or wandering the palace unescorted especially when there were many men lusting after her. More than once she is told off for it yet she keeps doing it. She has maids and servants, and there’s no reason she wouldn’t have one with her to see her back to her room.

Although I did feel sorry for  Theseus but I didn’t find him inspiring. Theseus has little depth and serves only as protector. The biggest criticism I’m reading from other reviews is that the ending is a cliffhanger but I didn’t feel this to be the case. The ending was supposed to show the reader why Helen later makes the fateful choice she does, igniting the Trojan War. But a sequel would be nice.

So there’s definitely some good elements to the story since I was compelled read to the end, and it’s well written, but unfortunately some of the characters let it down.

BOOK REVIEW: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

You Can Find the Book At:

GoodReads
Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Author Website

GoodReads Summary:

This is a breathtakingly original rendering of the Trojan War – a devastating love story and a tale of gods and kings, immortal fame and the human heart.

My Review:

Rating: ★★★★★

Song of Achilles tells the story of Achilles’ life and the Trojan War through the eyes of Patroclus, the beloved companion and rumoured lover of Achilles. This is their love story.

A new take on the Iliad and this novel, faithful in many ways to the characters and events of the Iliad stands on its own merit as a love story. I found using the POV of Patroclus to be particularly engaging. I felt sorry for Patroclus as he grew up: the son who always seems to disappoint his father, no matter what he says or does, always hearing from his father. I thought she did an especially good job presenting the evolution of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, the attraction growing as they grew up together. Their love–their relationship– is the heart of the book.

I think my favourite parts was when Achilles is just getting to know Patroclus, who reveal how he ended up in Achilles’s father’s care. Patroclus answers that he killed another boy who was trying to take something from him. Patroclus wants to know what Achilles would’ve done in that situation, and Achilles says something like, “I don’t know, because no one has ever taken something from me.” (For those who have read the Iliad, you know where I’m going with this) And then when questioned about fighting Hector, Achilles refusing, simply saying, “What has Hector ever done to me?” (Again, you know what I’m talking about.)

I also enjoyed the development of the character Briseis, the girl taken prisoner by Achilles and then taken from Achilles by Agamemnon, and how Miller handled her story. In the Iliad, we never really see them together and don’t get the idea that there’s any special bond between them until Briseis speaks at his funeral, saying she loved him. This novel, with its more intimate scope, shows us this relationship from start to finish. It also gives Briseis a personality of her own, which is tough when your only role in the story is that of human to be traded between other, more important, characters.

I think the biggest issue I had with this book was the representation of Thetis. I know the novel needed some sort of antagonist but I didn’t think she deserved to be presented in this way. Especially since we know how much she loves Achilles.

Simply put, this is an amazing written story of love and loyalty set amongst the wrath of the gods. An epic novel with action, adventure, a touching romance, mythological creatures, and displays of humanity covering the whole spectrum of good and evil. Absolutely loved it and will likely re-read it in the future (which is rare for me).