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.

22 Responses to RTW: Victorious Volume! (Book of the Month, April 2012)

  1. You’ve totally sold me on TORN and TANGLED. Not sure when I’ll get to them, but they’re on my TBR list for sure. Of course, it might have to come after reading LEVIATHAN and the others in that series. Again, highly recommended by you. :)

    • I would read the LEVIATHAN series first. BOUND, the third in the TORN trilogy will be out soon, so if you wait a little longer you can pick up all three and read them one after the other. :) Thankfully, you don’t have to rely on my recommendation–it seems others loved both these series too, so I’m not a complete loon with no taste. Not completely, anyway… :)

  2. I couldn’t wait either so I posted my RTW this morning. :)

    Both of these sound awesome! I read too many good books this month, but I really liked The Disenchantments, Variant, and Perfect Escape.

    • I almost posted this morning, but I decided to be patient… then at noon my patience expired. I was too genuinely excited about sharing these books with everyone to wait any longer!

      I’ll stop by and check out your selections, Alison. :)

  3. I love Gary Corby’s writing!! I won an ARC of the Ionia Sanction and thoroughly enjoyed it. What an interesting and amusing idea to mash together Greek history, humor, and mystery all in one series. Can’t wait to read that book!

    • Ooo, you won an ARC of THE IONIA SANCTION? How cool!! I’m really looking forward to reading it, especially after THE PERICLES COMMISSION. Like I said, the concept was totally irresistible to me–I had to read it. :)

  4. I don’t know either of them, but Tangled and Torn definitely sound like I should add them to my TBR list :)

    • According to my TANGLED bookmark, BOUND comes out in June, so just over a month and you’ll be able to read the entire trilogy one after the other without having to wait! :)

  5. Yes, Colin, exactly like NEWTs :P

  6. You always have interesting reads each month–usually so much different than everyone else’s! I love ancient Greek history, so I will have to put THE PERICLES COMMISSION on my TBR list.

    Also, I’ll have to make a TBRASAP list. I like that. It’s like a VIP section :)

  7. I LOVE that you referenced the NEWT in this post, first of all. Second, I’m totally intrigued by THE PERICLES COMMISSION. I hadn’t heard of it before now, but it’s definitely going on my TBR. I love a good murder mystery!

    • Up until Harry Potter, I struggled to explain the British examination system to people outside the UK. Now I can just tell people: O-Levels or GCSEs are OWLs, and A-Levels are NEWTS. The only difference is we don’t take exams in Potions, Arithmancy, and Defense Against the Dark Arts. Thank you JK! :D

      TPC is a great murder mystery. And Gary Corby does such a good job of anchoring it in its historical setting without for one minute making it sound like a history lesson. It’s well worth your time.

  8. I’m really looking forward to reading the TORN series. I’ve been following Erica O’Rourke’s blog, so I’ve been hearing about the series from her end, but good to know you recommend them!

    • As I mentioned to Suzanne above, BOUND, the third book in the trilogy, comes out in June, so not long to wait before you can read all three back-to-back! :)

  9. Love historicals and author’s notes.

    These all sound good.

    • They are, and if you like historicals, THE PERICLES COMMISSION might be worth a try. I haven’t noticed too many set in ancient Greece, so it’s something a little different. :)

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  11. Both of these look good. The Pericles Commission looks interesting. Pericles was one of my favorite plays that I’ve worked on over the years.

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