The Iliad – Homer (part 2 of 4)

I set myself an extra challenge this summer, in addition to #20booksofsummer, I decided to read The Iliad. It’s a book I’ve wanted to read for e v e r. This is the second part of my review, the first one can be found here. The biggest reason I kept putting it off is because I thought it would be very difficult to read (like how I find Shakespeare!) but this translation is written in a very straightforward way and it’s actually really easy to read.

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I love the look of this book.Β 

As ever, if you are serious about your classic Greek literature, this is not the review for you. Haha. Stay away! Otherwise, let’s see what happens from chapter 7…

Book 7

The Gods intervene again to make Hektor offer one on one combat to a Greek warrior. Any Greek warrior. Winner takes all.

No one’s that keen at first, but Menelaos starts to volunteer, calls the rest of them women (pfffft) and that shames nine of them into volunteering, Lots are drawn and Aias is the… winner?

They have a bit of a fight, seem equal, and then they are stopped because it’s night time. Seems quite badly planned tbh.

They go home for the night. It’s suggested in Troy that maybe they should… errrr… just give Helen back? along with all the stuff Paris nicked from them. He says he’ll give back the stuff, and some extra, but not Helen.

They have a break the next day to gather the dead on both sides and burn the bodies. The Greeks make one massive pyre and then build a fortress on top with massive gates, a big ditch with spikes etc

Poseidon is pissed off with this because they didn’t make any offerings to gods first. He’s stays quite grumpy about this throughout the story.

Finally Jason makes a cameo by popping over on a ship with some wine for the Greeks. Yey, Argonauts!

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err… hello

 

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That’s more like it.Β 

Book 8

There’s a bit of fighting. Mostly we’re with the Gods.

Zeus forbids any of the gods from interfering. He decides to help the Trojans himself. And he goes off to a mountain to watch for the day.

Hera and Athene decide to sod his orders, and suit up to go and help the Greeks. Luckily Zeus gets wind of this and sends Iris to warn them about the consequences. Basically he says he’ll lightning strike Athene so bad she won’t be healed for 10 years. He says he won’t do the same to Hera because he expects this behaviour from her. lol. They decide to heed the warning and go home.

Zeus returns from his day out. Athene sulks. Hera gives him some shit about it. I like Hera.

During some Gods discussion, the prophecy about Hektor only dying by Achilleus’ hand, after the death of Patroklos, is mentioned. Well, I think that’s going to be important later. *taps nose and winks*.

And that’s the end of another day.

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A futile attempt at reading The Iliad while the chaos of slime making goes on around me.

Book 9

The Greeks realise they are basically fucked without Achilleus. Agamemnon sends a party of two messengers and Odysseus, plus Aias and Phoinix, to tell Achilleus he can have his war bride back, plus some other lovely ladies, plus a load of stuff, and he can marry one of his daughters and have a massive kingdom (desperate much?).

Achilleus tells him to piss off, and says he might even go home the next day.

On returning to give Agamemnon the news, Diomedes, a younger warrior who is gaining confidence, says: Oh well sod him then. Lets just ignore him and get on with the fight.

Then everyone goes to sleep again.

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beer

Book 10

Diomedes and Odysseus decide to go on a spying mission to the Trojans. Meanwhile, coincidentally, Hektor sends his own spy to the Greeks.

Diomedes and Odysseus catch the spy on his way into the Greeks camp. They get some info from him and kill him.

They then go and kill a bunch of Trojans and nick some awesome horses.

Book 11

There’s fighting and all the key Greek fighters get some sort of injury. It’s not looking good.

Achilleus and Patroklus get back in on the story. Achilleus sends Patroklus to look at who is being brought back injured. This allows Nestor to tell Patroklus that things aren’t looking great… and maybe he can borrow Achilleus’ armour and… maybe just pretend to be Achilleus a bit and scare the Trojans…

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Book 12

Wow. It’s all properly kicking off in Book 12, leading up to the half way point of the whole thing.

All the leading Greek fighters got injured so are out of action. The Trojans are feeling invincible, and the push back to the ditch/wall arrangement that the Greeks built a few chapters ago, is on. Even when their horses won’t cross the ditch they just leave them behind and go on foot.

The chapter leads up to a big battle at the wall. Hektor and Sarpedon are key Trojan figures for this part. Hektor leads an assault on one of the places to get through it. And just at the end of the chapter he manages to get through and the Trojans start scaling the walls and going through the gap and the Greeks scatter. It’s all looking terrible for the Greeks!

 

Can’t wait to find out what happens next!

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Top 10 Bookish Websites

This is the topic of Top Ten Tuesday for this week, coordinated by That Artsy Reader Girl. I know it’s not Tuesday. As previously discussed, I will never end up doing this on the right day!

1. Goodreads. I know I’m not supposed to pick this, but I do use it a lot. I love the yearly challenge and I like being able to see all the books I’ve read all together in a list.

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2. NetGalley. Books for free because I will write a review of them, which I would do anyway. I was so happy when I started getting approved for books! Now the problem is to not request too many that I don’t have time to read them… way too late to stop this being a problem.

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3. bookfacemagazine.Β This is an Instagram account. I love it though.

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A post shared by Bookface Magazine (@bookfacemagazine) on

4. Book Riot. Book stuff. Recommendations. Interesting articles.

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5. Lit Hub. Books, essays, recommendations. Love the Rebecca Solnit article I read here last year.

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6. Manchester Literary Festival. The tickets to this years events were just all released on Wednesday. I’ve been quite retrained and just bought for two events. Can’t wait.

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7. The Literary Gift Company. Bookish things. I want pretty much everything they sell, but currently covet this t shirt.Β 

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8. Bookshambles. This one might be cheating a bit, because it’s a podcast. But it’s the only podcast I regularly listen to and it’s where I’ve got so many recommendations from over the last few years, of books that have ended up being some of my favourites.

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9. The Guardian Books section. I read quite a few of the articles and also tend to read their reviews of books I’m interested in.

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10. Twitter. Because I follow so many great bookish people. πŸ™‚

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20 Books of Summer – Month 2 Update

I always think I will read loads when it’s the holidays. The reality is I read much less than when I’m working. It makes no sense! The challenge is quite straight forward: read 20 books in June, July and August.Β 

So I’ve finished 11 books so far. This means I’m unlikely to reach my goal of 20, but I’m ok with that. There are several books I’m already quite far through, so I might get quite a few of them finished. I also have book club next week so I’ll definitely get through at least one more for that.

My 20 books of summer side project: Project Iliad has also been slightly neglected in July. I am currently up to chapter 11 of 24. I’ve summarised the first 6 chapters in the first part of my review here. I’ll actually be happy if I complete this goal, even at the expense of the 20 books goal!

Here’s the original list of books, with ones I’ve read in red. Books I’ve read that weren’t on the original list are added at the bottom. Links to my reviews are next to all the ones I’ve read. Wonder how I’ll get on with the rest of August!

  1. Homegoing – Yaa GyasiΒ (review)
  2. Still Me – Jojo Moyes (review)
  3. Conclave – Robert Harris (review)
  4. Sarah – J.T. Leroy
  5. Romantic Outlaws: The Extraordinary Lives of Mary Wollstonecraft and Mary Shelley – Charlotte Gordon
  6. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman (review)
  7. How Do You Like Me Now? – Holly Bourne
  8. The Pisces – Melissa Broder (review)
  9. How Not to be a Boy – Robert Webb
  10. Β Things a Bright Girl Can Do – Sally Nicholls
  11. The Iliad – Homer
  12. Story – Robert McKee (review)
  13. How To Stop Time – Matt Haig (review)
  14. 2666 – Roberto Bolano
  15. Β I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou
  16. The Dark Dark – Samantha Hunt
  17. Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life – Helen Czerski
  18. The Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash
  19. My Brilliant Friend – Elena Ferrante
  20. The Mother of All Questions – Rebecca Solnit
  21. Everyday Sexism – Laura Bates (review)
  22. A Room of One’s Own – Virginia Woolf (review)
  23. Little Black Book – Otegha Uwagba (review)
  24. Wishful Drinking – Carrie Fisher (review)

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Everyone is reading and loving Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, and now I’ve joined that club. It’s easy to see why this has been such a great success. It’s moving, funny, and relatable (maybe only in very small ways to some people! I’ll come back to this later).

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Eleanor Oliphant is a woman with serious social issues. She tries to convince herself she is fine, but she so clearly is not. We learn about her life, and slowly about her history. Some events happen to change her clearly carved out, rigid routine and the book follows the consequences of this. No spoilers here!

It’s such a great book. I really love Eleanor. She doesn’t do things just because it is expected, or the done thing. She questions everything and makes her own mind up about them. I loved this about her, probably because I’m a bit like that too. Not to aaaannnnyywhere near the extent that Eleanor is, but you know, I could see some of myself in her socially awkward charm.

 

I think most people occasionally feel like they don’t fit in, or feel a bit awkward. Maybe not everyone, I don’t know, there must be some psychopaths who never feel these things. And so I think everyone at some level can relate to Eleanor, even though she is very, very extreme. You also feel very sorry for Eleanor and her situation. From very early on you are rooting for her to get more in her life!

Eleanor’s observations can also be very funny.

I went to see Loretta, the office manager. She has overinflated ideas of her own administrative abilities, and in her spare time makes hideous jewellery, which she then sells to idiots.

I did feel personally attacked by this one though, on music and physics:

I have yet to find a genre of music that I enjoy; it’s basically audible physics, waves and energised particles, and, like most sane people, I have no interest in physics.

Oh, Eleanor.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine does go to very dark places, but even the darkest moments are littered with humour.

I wanted to die – this time, in addition to actually wanting to die, I meant it in the metaphorical sense too.

So join the bandwagon with me and, if you haven’t already read it, go and read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

 

The Pisces – Melissa Broder

I reeealllly enjoyed The Pisces by Melissa Broder. It’s very funny, I loved the main characters voice. It also contains quite a lot of erotic scenes, yey! It’s also dark. Very dark about love and obsession. The perfect triad of words to describe a book: funny, erotic, and dark.

… the darkness that inevitably fell when you spent too much time basking in the sun of a man.

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Our main character is Lucy. She is struggling to finish her PhD on Sappho when she has a devastating break up with her long term boyfriend. It causes her to spiral into a breakdown and she ends up recovering at her sister’s beach front house, in Venice CA, where she house sits and looks after her sister’s precious dog. She also has to attend group therapy where she meets other love obsessives in various states of control over themselves and their love lives. Lucy then meets a Merman, obviously, and falls for him hard.

I instantly fell in love with Lucy’s voice. The Pisces starts with her musing about picking up dog shit and I was with her. And it was gross. Lucy is wry, and sarcastic, and funny, and makes excellent observations about the people she meets.

On the therapy group she’s required to attend:

There were four women in the group, plus the therapist and me. But they all blurred together into a multiheaded hydra of desperation.

I identified with a lot ofΒ  Lucy’s situation, not all of it, thank god. But she is the same age as me. She is dating for the first time in a decade. Snap. She has PhD problems – mine are very historical, but snap. She is completely not in control of herself when it comes to men. Erm.. thankfully I’ve got a slightly better handle on this one! I agreed with a lot of her thoughts and observations. If you’ve read The Pisces, you can judge me accordingly!

On the outcome of a quite bad date:

Sure, the experience itself had been disappointing and gross, but at least it was different from the disappointment I’d grown used to in my years with Jamie.

She also makes quite a lot of references to Homer and the classics, but she is a PhD student studying Sappho, so it completely fits. Also, obviously she has met a mythical creature, so references to this type of thing is also to be expected. It fits in quite well with my summer reading of The Iliad. Serendipitous, you could say. As well as all the classics chat there are quality sentences like:

“The universe is a wanker,” she said

Clever things + swearing. I’m in heaven.

and if you’re in any doubt about the tone of The Pisces, I’ll end with this quote:

Didn’t we all just want a thousand hard cocks attached to the bodies of boys who have died for us, still warm, to plug our infinite holes?

I dunno this just seems appropriate to leave here…

Still Me – JoJo Moyes

I’m not going to say a lot about this book. I am definitely not the right person for the series of books this is part of (though I enjoyed the first one, Me Before You). Many, many people love this series, and that is great. They aren’t wrong, this book just isn’t for me.

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I ended up reading it because it was chosen for book club. I had already read the first in the series, but clearly I couldn’t skip the second book (After You), so this as a book club book, actually meant I had to read two books! Two books I didn’t like….. urrrghhhhhhhh…

Our main character is Louisa Clark. While still grieving for Will, and drifting aimlessly, she takes a job in New York as an assistant to a rich lady. We meet her as she arrives in New York having friendly banter with an immigration officer. Because that’s what immigration is exactly like in the USA.

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I did this one as an audio book.

She becomes the assistant of Agnes. I won’t give away the rest of the plot, but she is concerned about men a lot. Then things happen where she feels sorry for herself, but then magical amazing things just land in her god-damned lap.

I get irked by the number of characters who are basic stereotypes, and I don’t really like Louisa either, though her character develops in this book to be more like I wanted her to be from the start!

The saving grace of Still Me is old lady Mrs De Witt. Fiesty, fashionable, ferocious Mrs De Witt. Thank you Mrs De Witt.

The End.