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July Reads 2021

I started several books this month but have only finished 3!

Circe by Madeline Miller.

These Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean

The Memory Box by Kathryn Hughes

Circe by Madeline Miller is my book of the month.

Circe by Madeline Miller

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Official Blurb

When I was born, the name for what I was did not exist.

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Yet, in the golden halls of gods and nymphs, Circe stands apart, as something separate, something new. With neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and scorned and rejected by her kin Circe is increasingly isolated. Turning to mortals for companionship, she risks defying her father for love, a path that leads her not to the marriage bed but to a discovery of a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

Banished by Zeus to the remote island of Aiaia, Circe refines her craft, fate entwining her with legends: the messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home. As her power increases and her knowledge grows, so Circe must make the ultimate choice: to decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

A source of fascination for ancient writers from Homer to Ovid, Circe is a character whose story is steeped in magic and mystery. Caught up in the story of heroes, she is a figure apart, a player in the lives of heroes and gods but one who has never commanded her own story, until now.

My Review

I was apprehensive that following other people’s reviews that I would be disappointed in Circe especially following on from Song of Achilles so swiftly. I shouldn’t have worried for I absolutely loved it. Maligned and overlooked by the other gods, Circe had my sympathy from the beginning and I followed her endeavours with hope. She’s brave, resourceful and despite her experiences, she remains driven by a sense of duty and loyalty to those she loves. I like her sense of morality, in that she strives to achieve balance and what she thinks of as fairness. She suffers genuine remorse for her mistakes and all she wishes for is to be happy. A brilliant re-telling that I highly recommend.

My Rating

5 stars

These Tangled Vines by Julianne MacLean

Published 1st June 2021 by Lake Union Publishing

Official Blurb

If Fiona has learned anything in life, it’s how to keep a secret—even from the father who raised her. She is the only person who knows about her late mother’s affair in Tuscany thirty years earlier, and she intends to keep it that way…until a lawyer calls with shocking news: her biological father has died and left her an incredible inheritance—along with two half siblings.

Fiona travels to Italy, where the family is shocked to learn of her existence and desperate to contest her share of the will. While the mystery of her mother’s affair is slowly unraveled, Fiona must navigate through tricky family relationships and tense sibling rivalries. Fiona both fears and embraces her new destiny as she searches for the truth about the fateful summer her mother spent in Italy and the father she never knew.

Spilling over with the sumptuous flavors and romance of Tuscany, These Tangled Vines takes readers on a breathtaking journey of love, secrets, sacrifice, courage—and most importantly, the true meaning of family.

My Review

If you looking for an easy read that takes you away from rainy England then this is a good choice. Who wouldn’t want to travel to a Tuscan vineyard during these Covid-restricted times? It reminded me of books by Santa Montefiore which are also often set in lovely places.

I enjoyed Fiona's story and the story is well structured and I expect it will sell well. The only parts that didn’t feel as well developed were the sections told from Fiona’s siblings POV. I don’t feel they were necessary and would have been better filled with Fiona’s experiences of running the vineyard which would have been much more interesting.

An ideal beach read, or for lounging about in your garden pretending to be on holiday!

My Rating

3 stars

The Memory Box: A beautiful, timeless and heartrending story of love in a time of war, by Kathryn Hughes

Published 11 November 2021 by Headline Review

Official Blurb

Jenny Tanner opens the box she has cherished for decades. Contained within are her most precious mementoes, amongst them a pebble, a carving and a newspaper cutting she can hardly bear to read. But Jenny knows the time is finally here. After the war, in a mountainside village in Italy, she left behind a piece of her heart. However painful, she must return to Cinque Alberi. And lay the past to rest. After a troubled upbringing, Candice Barnes dreams of a future with the love of her life - but is he the man she believes him to be? When Candice is given the opportunity to travel to Italy with Jenny, she is unaware the trip will open her eyes to the truth she's been too afraid to face. Could a place of goodbyes help her make a brave new beginning?

My Review

This had much more depth than I expected. I haven't read anything by this author before but a quick search and historical research looks to be one of her strengths.

The Memory Box touches on several important issues; domestic abuse (mental rather than physical) and how destructive it is, the importance of family (both blood ties and adopted), as well as aspects of the second world war that I hadn’t been aware of.

There are many flashbacks as the story from the past has many parallels to the one in the present. The characters have strong voices and there are several twists and turns that all add extra layers to the plot.

It all ties up beautifully and has a satisfying conclusion.

I enjoyed this and would recommend.

My Rating

4 stars

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