Two perfect audiobooks: The Song of Achilles & Circe by Madeline Miller

Sometimes I read (or listen) to a book, feel completely blown away by it, and yet find myself without words to do it justice, other than the usual gushing of “oh my gods” and “this is incredible” and “this book is so gorgeous!”.

And that’s exactly the boat I’m in now, having just finished my 2nd of two books (audiobooks) by the oh-so-talented Madeline Miller, who I swear I’ll follow to the ends of the earth at this point to get my hands on more of her astonishing writing.

Last year, I finally got to The Song of Achilles:

Greece in the age of heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the court of King Peleus and his perfect son Achilles. By all rights their paths should never cross, but Achilles takes the shamed prince as his friend, and as they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine their bond blossoms into something deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’ mother Thetis, a cruel sea goddess. But then word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus journeys with Achilles to Troy, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they hold dear.

Profoundly moving and breathtakingly original, this rendering of the epic Trojan War is a dazzling feat of the imagination, a devastating love story, and an almighty battle between gods and kings, peace and glory, immortal fame and the human heart.

Audiobook narrator: Frazer Douglas
Length: 11 hours, 15 minutes
Published: 2011

This is such a powerful, gorgeous listen. I loved the story itself, the author’s use of words to describe the glory and beauty of Achilles, and the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus. I felt immersed in the time and place, caught up in the tale of warring men and the gods who played with them or favored them.

 

 

And now, I’ve just listened to Circe too:

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

Audiobook narrator: Perdita Weeks
Length: 12 hours, 8 minutes
Published: 2018

I know a lot of people have said they preferred The Song of Achilles, and maybe it’s just because it’s so much more recent for me, but I have to say that I adored Circe so, so much, and may even have a slight preference for this book. (Although, really, how can you choose? They’re both excellent).

I love Circe as a character — her passions, her struggles, her pain, her yearning. Her tales spans centuries and hits all the major story beats we know from Greek mythology, yet Circe herself feels fresh and alive in this version of the story, a woman constantly striving to make sense of her own divinity and find a place in the world. It’s heartbreaking and bold and just lovely.

The narrators of both of these books are excellent, each in their own way. There’s something about these myths and legends that really makes them feel right as a listening experience, like listening to a bard or an ancient storyteller. While I think I’ll revisit both of these books in print eventually, I’m so glad that my first encounter with each was through the audiobook version.

The Monday Check-In ~ 10/29/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: This month’s book group book! My thoughts are here.

A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult: My review is here.

The Walking Dead, volume 30: New World Order: The newest trade paperback volume in the Walking Dead series. Even though I don’t retain much from one volume to the next, these books are always a good time.

In audiobooks, I finished my re-read/listen of Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn. My original review from when I first read the book is here. The story really holds up, and I enjoyed the audio version very much. Can’t wait to read the sequel!

Fresh Catch:

I bought myself a present!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Bridge of Clay by Markus Zusak: The public library comes through for me again! I started this book with very high expectations… but unfortunately, as of about 50%, it’s just not working for me. I’ll continue, but it’s feeling like a slog.

Now playing via audiobook:

First Test (Protector of the Small, #1) by Tamora Pierce: Back to Tortall! I’m diving into Tamora Pierce’s next quartet of books. I do love the worlds she creates.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. An ongoing group read, two chapters per week — we’ll be finished in December. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 10/22/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

I read three library books — ones YA, one middle grade, and one picture book. My wrap-up post for all three is here.

Zoe’s Tale – book #4 in the Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: Another great volume in a terrific sci-fi series. Review to come.

In audiobooks, I finished listening to The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Simply beautiful.

Fresh Catch:

One new book! Of course, I should probably read the first book (Akata Witch) before reading the sequel…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: I was really tempted to just keep going with Old Man’s War… but my book group discussion of Little Fires Everywhere starts this week, so I’d better get moving!

Now playing via audiobook:

Bannerless by Carrie Vaughn: I read this book last year (review) — but I was about to start the sequel, and realized I needed a major refresher! I’ve just started the audiobook, and I’m liking the narration so far.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. An ongoing group read, two chapters per week — we’ll be finished in December. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 10/15/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

What did I read during the last week?

One Day in December by Josie Silver: A bit of romance, to break up my sci-fi heavy week. My review is here.

Old Man’s War series by John Scalzi: I’ve made it halfway through the series! My thoughts so far, here.

Pop culture goodness:

I saw this:

And now I’m obsessed with this song:

Fresh Catch:

Bookish goodies! I treated myself to the Subterranean Press edition of one of my very favorite novellas by Patricia Briggs, Alpha & Omega.

I also picked up these two used books, which just happened to catch my eye:

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Pride by Ibi Zoboi: The public library comes through again! Hurray for my hold request getting processed in record time — I’m so happy to be starting this Pride and Prejudice retelling.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: I LOVE this — but I’m getting super frustrated by how long it’s taking me to get through it. My week has been crazy, with so little listening time. Must correct that this coming week!

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. An ongoing group read, two chapters per week — we’ll be finished in December. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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The Monday Check-In ~ 10/8/2018

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I just spent a lovely weekend in Boulder, Colorado with my wonderful daughter! It was a very quick 48-hours, but so much fun. We saw an amazing production of Pride and Prejudice, featuring a small cast where most of the actors and actresses played multiple roles, often across gender lines. It was fresh and funny, and we loved it!

Besides wandering and exploring, we also took a tour of the Celestial Seasonings tea factory — the heavenly smells alone made it worthwhile, not to mention all the variety of tea sampling that we indulged in. A couple of restaurants, coffee shops, and an awesome little used book store just added to the fun. Also, Boulder has a beautiful public library that made me want to move in and never leave.

Of course, best of all was doing all this in the company of my lovely girl.

And now… back to the books!

What did I read during the last week?

The Sisters of the Winter Wood by Rena Rossner: I loved this beautiful tale! My review is here.

Old Man’s War by John Scalzi: I finished this book on the plane on the way to Boulder. Finally, after talking about it for years, I’ve read it! I really enjoyed this book, and will try to write up a quick review later in the week, once I’ve had a chance to catch my breath a bit.

Fresh Catch:

So many wonderful books arrived this week! First of all, yet another Tamora Pierce hardcover, one-volume edition:

I also received excellent bookmail from Amazon:, including:

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi: The second book in the Old Man’s War series — I haven’t gotten very far yet, but consider me intrigued.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller: I’ve listened to about 25% so far. Just beautiful — can’t wait to continue after a weekend away from audiobooks.

Ongoing reads:

Book group reads:

  • Classic read: My book group’s current classic read is Middlemarch by George Eliot.  We’re reading and discussing two chapters per week. Slow but steady!
  • The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon. An ongoing group read, two chapters per week — we’ll be finished in December. Want to join in? Ask me how!

So many books, so little time…

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