Monthly Roundup

Monthly Roundup: February 2014

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Every first Wednesday of the month, I’ll be posting a roundup of the month just gone, and writing about what’s to come in the next few weeks.

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Last month I read a total of eight books – less than January, but no novellas or graphic novels this time. Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash (with Patrick Carr), Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer, She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick, Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Paper Towns by John Green, The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson and The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris.

Standout books include The Final Empire, The Gospel of Loki and Cash: The Autobiography of Johnny Cash – one of my favourite musicians ever, his life was absolutely fascinating to read about. I’ve now read twenty-three books towards my goal of fifty this year, but I’m unsure about raising it just yet.

Challenge progress:

  • I read four more books towards the Avengers vs. X-Men Challenge, and managed to beat this month’s boss – Crimson Dynamo! Gooooo X-Men! *waves mutant flag*
  • Another one ticked off of the Dragons & Jetpacks Ultimate Booklist Challenge, which handily also happened to be February’s Fantasy Book of the Month!
  • I’m slowly finishing off my TBR Pile 2013 Challenge – I achieved my goal for the year last year, but I had a list of thirty books, and aimed to read at least fifteen in 2013. Now I want to read the rest throughout 2014.
  • And finally, the Review Copy Clean-up Challenge! I read three review copies this month, which isn’t quite as many as I’d hoped to – but my Netgalley ratio is now 55.5%, which is a bonus. I still have to review one of the books, although that one was from Goodreads.

Currently reading:

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Reviews on the blog this month:

Other posts:

Upcoming:

  • A couple of reviews, including She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgewick and The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson.
  • A post about my time at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which I visited on 19th February!
  • The usual discussions and features will return, minus Weekly Roundup which has become rather infrequent as I’m trying to not buy books. CRAZY, I know.

Off the blog:

Well as I mentioned, I was ill at the end of February… I had really bad tonsillitis in November (during Sci-Fi Month!) so I was really worried it would be another case of that – but luckily it was just a throat infection and cold. Earlier in the month I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour with one of my best friends which was amazing, but more on that in another post! I then had another best friend to stay for a few days, and it was so lovely to see her – we met up with another friend from uni and had a lovely day out at a National Trust place nearby, then went out for tapas in the evening. I’m really quite scared at how fast the year is going, see as I’ll be moving to the Netherlands in mid-August and I have a LOT to sort out before then. Better get on it!

And that was my February! I remember writing up the Review Copy Cleanup post quite clearly, so I think it’s gone a *little* too quickly for my liking. How was your month?

Review

Review: The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

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5 out of 5 stars | Goodreads

I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.

I cannot get enough of books based on ancient mythologies or cultures. I’ve devoured countless books on ancient Greece and Rome, the Olympian Gods, the Trojan War… but as you can see, the reading is often focused on one specific area of history. A fascination with the myths and legends of all over the world has followed me all my life; even those cultures of which I know little are endlessly astounding. Norse mythology sits somewhere in the middle. Whilst I know more about it than say, the stories of ancient Babylon, I know a Hel (harhar see what I did there… I’m so sorry) of a lot more about those of ancient Greece or Rome.

So it was with great delight that I spotted The Gospel of Loki on Netgalley. A book narrated by the trickster god of the old Norse pantheon certainly sounds like an incredibly unique premise, and I’m sure the recent releases of Avengers Assemble and the Thor films have piqued people’s interest in this particular deity (but PLEASE don’t go into this book expecting to see Marvel-Loki. I don’t know why you would… one is a comic book character, the other an old god.)

But anyway. If you’re interested in this book but know nothing about Norse mythology, then there is no need to worry – the author (or rather Loki) provides a handy guide to the various characters at the very beginning, as well as setting out the origin story of the religion. From the cover (which is absolutely gorgeous), I was expecting something quite heavy and traditional, but in actual fact Loki’s tone of voice is light and witty, and he even uses frequent colloquialisms and slang. Although I did feel like phrases such as ‘Yours Truly’ and ‘so shoot me’ were used a little too often, I loved Loki’s narration through the various legends of the old Norse religions. He may be arrogant, thoughtless and the ultimate trickster god, but at times I actually felt a little sorry for him. Unlike the other deities, Loki was not born into the family, but adopted as Odin’s brother. From the very beginning the others regard him as untrustworthy, what with him previously being a demon and a bit tricksy, and yes sometimes he deserves their hostility – but actually, there were times where he was treated rather unfairly and the other gods felt more like the demons.

What I most enjoyed about this book was the humour – and I think that is what it will make it so accessible to many different types of readers. It could have been a stuffy book about the myths and legends of Scandinavia, but with a brilliantly clever twist of Loki as the narrator, and his wonderful sense of wit, it both teaches and entertains. The casual weaving of modern day slang with these ancient epics gives it a timeless feeling. At some times it feels like a big family drama, with all the little (and not so little) arguments between the various gods!

Taking most of its inspiration from the legends of the Poetic Edda and Prose Edda, The Gospel of Loki is a gorgeous ‘retelling’ of ancient myths, that feels both timeless and modern, with a brilliantly unique viewpoint.

Like me, Ron is impressed. I told myself I wouldn’t use a Marvel-Loki gif so… err… yeah. This seemed appropriate.