RTW: Victorious Volume! (Book of the Month, April 2012)
This is the last Road Trip Wednesday/A-to-Z Blogging Challenge mash up for this year, and, as usually happens at month-end, it’s Book of the Month time. I read some good books this month and if you’re one of my Goodreads friends, you’ll know what they were. By the way, on a side note, I am doing a much better job of updating Goodreads with books I’m reading, books on my TBR list, and books I’ve read. I usually leave a comment if not a full review when I finish a book, in case you want to know what I thought. Feel free to stop by–be my friend even. I like friends.
For those who don’t know, Road Trip Wednesday is a meme hosted by YA Highway wherein the ladies at YA Highway pose a question or post a challenge, and participants respond on their blogs and link to their articles in the YA Highway RTW article comments. We then all check out each others replies, leave comments, and generally have a good time building community. I think there are many, like me, who have made a number of blogging friends through RTW, so join in the fun and meet some people!
Back to this month’s Victorious Volume. Almost. First, I have to give you my Shout-Out Book. And I have to say, this was a close call. I nearly gave Book of the Month to this book, but the book I chose just edged it out. My shout-out book is TANGLED by Erica O’Rourke. You might remember I shouted out TORN, the first in this trilogy, back in February. TANGLED builds on TORN such that it’s hard to tell you about TANGLED without giving too much away if you haven’t read TORN. Let’s see… what can I say? It’ s not long after the end of TORN, and Colin (yes, there’s a character in the series with my name–I hope Erica doesn’t kill him off!) and Luc are still significant in protagonist Mo’s world, but she has yet to figure out which of them has her heart. Both seem so deserving for different reasons. Of course, Luc has a special tie that Mo can’t do anything about. When you find yourself trying to sort out Mo’s love life for her, you know Erica’s done a great job of sucking you in to the story! And that’s just an underlying plot. Over top of this, Mo has to deal with pressure from school, pressure from Uncle Billy and his mafia connections, and pressure from the magical realm. If you thought your life was hard to balance…! Anyway, it’s a great read, and I heartily recommend this series. BOUND, the final installment, comes out in a few months. I’ll be waiting…
My choice for this month’s Book of the Month is… THE PERICLES COMMISSION by Gary Corby. It’s Greece, 461 B.C., and Ephialtes has just started Athens on the path to democracy. Nicolaos, son of a sculptor, is walking under the Rock of the Areopagus, when the body of Ephialtes falls at his feet, an arrow through his heart. Pericles, a wealthy up-and-coming politician who was also Ephialtes’s lieutenant, discovers the body, and, impressed with Nicolaos’s inquisitive mind, commissions him to find Ephialtes’s murderer. A lot is at stake–more than either Nico or Pericles realize. Not only does the safety of Athens hang in the balance (power vacuums tend to do this), but the future of Western civilization. As we follow Nico’s investigation, we meet a host of characters, both fictional and non-fictional, including Diotima, the priestess-in-training, Pythax, the Scythian chief of the city guard, and Nico’s younger and annoyingly insightful brother, Socrates. There’s a lot of humor and page-turning action. There’s a smattering of bad language, and there are some sexual innuendos (it’s ancient Greece, after all), but nothing too far beyond a PG-13 or perhaps PG-15.
When I read the blurb about this book, I was instantly intrigued: a murder mystery set in ancient Greece. That’s all I needed to read. I have an A-level in Ancient History (for those not in or from the UK, that’s sort of like an N.E.W.T. ), and we studied ancient Greece, so I know a little about the period–the name Pericles actually meant something to me before this book. I put it on my TBRASAP (To Be Read As Soon As Possible) list. Well, this month I finally got around to it, and I’m so glad it lived up to (and went way beyond) expectations. Gary Corby really did his research. He captures the sights, sounds, and smells of ancient Athens as well as I think anyone can without the aid of a time machine. The characters are well realized, and terms and customs are explained without breaking the first person narrative–I didn’t feel like I was stepping outside of the story when something was explained. Gary also provides a glossary at the back to help you with some of the Greek terms, and a cast of characters at the front to remind you who the main players are.
As I said, it’s written from a first person POV, but the style isn’t like a stilted English translation of a Greek tragedy (or comedy). The voice is modern, which makes it easy to read, but the narrative is firmly set in its period (saying “Zeus” and “Gods” for example). This isn’t steampunk, so the technology and ideas are all classical, which for me amplifies the interest. Gary also gives an “Author’s Note” at the end where he tells us what was based on fact, and what things he made up for the purposes of the story. If you aren’t familiar with ancient Greek history, this book will educate you as well as entertain. And what’s more, it’s only the first in a series! The second book, THE IONIA SANCTION came out at the end of last year. It’s on my TBRASAP list.
Do you have a favorite book from this past month? Tell us about it, either here in my comments, or better yet, blog about it and link to your blog in the YA Highway comments.