Spartacus: The Gladiator by Ben Kane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is the first in a series of novel by Ben Kane about the famous gladiatorial slave and warrior. Like most people I’ve seen and enjoyed the 1960’s film about the slave turned rebel. I’ve also enjoyed the recent Stars TV series. And, just so you know my Spartacus knowledge is NOT exclusively limited to popular culture portrayal. I have read The Spartacus War by Barry Strauss.
Armed with my own ideas of Spartacus, I started Kane’s novel. My previous reading left me with the impression that the known historical information about Spartacus is limited. He’s from Thrace, served in the Roman Legion before his enslavement and somehow ended up in Capua as a gladiatorial slave. He had limited successes in launching a slave revolt and dealt Rome some embarrassing defeats. That is until Rome’s wealthiest man and later member of the 1st triumvirate with none other than old Julius Caesar himself!!!
This makes Spartacus a wonderful subject for a historical fiction novel. Enough of a skeleton to have something to work with, but plenty of opportunity to build an interesting character.
So how does Kane do?
In book one, not too poorly. Be prepared for lots of fight scenes and pretty brutal rape and pillaging sections. It’s war and its not for the faint of heart.
I like that Spartacus is cast as a Prince of Thrace thrown out and sold into slavery. I also think the love interest is well done.. As for the early part of their relationship, it’s a little goofy. Really? A saved damsel in distress… But their ‘romance’ gets better as the story moves.
The Crixus character and relationship is as expected. I’d like to see a historical novel from Crixus’ point of view.
I also enjoy Crassus. He’s simply so unrelentlying a power hungry, money hungry stereotypical Roman you have to love him!
The writing is fine. Not overly amazing, but good.
I am ready to move on the next Spartacus novel in series. So, I’ll let you know how it develops. I am hoping for more Crassus time!
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What’s a blogger to do when they find other sites they love? Share them of course.
Today, I am going to highlight a blog by a pseudo relative. You know these people, the ones you don’t actually share any DNA with but who you see at the major holiday get togethers. They aren’t official in-laws of any sort. They are your in-laws in-laws or your in-laws cousins or your cousins in-laws or your aunt’s step-daughter’s husband’s brother. Well, you get the idea. The pseudo relative!
Anyway, this darling pseudo relative has a blog all about cooking and baking and making delicious dishes that won’t cause you to hit the mall for a new pair of pants!!!
What’s the site? Drum Roll Please…..
Her eggplant dish is super yummy! . I have even branched out and used the bruschetta on chicken. Add a few capers and some olives– yummy!
What do you get someone turning 40?
I was at a bit of a loss. By the time you are 40 you have accumulated a lot of stuff and do really need your friends giving you more things? I think not! That of course leaves booze, spa gift certificate — the usable gifts. But once comsumed what is your friend left with?? A headache in the case of booze or a fleeting moment of relaxation in the case of the spa.
Therefore, Jillian and I teamed up to create a homemade, heartfelt gift for out fabulous, soon-to-be 40, friend Ginger’s Surprise Birthday Party. (Ginger is not her real name– as I am sure you have guessed. But she does have red hair…)
Okay, so what says GINGER? She is very fashion forward. In fact, even before the big royal wedding Ginger was wearing fascinators. Ginger also happens to be a straying member of a book-club I started. Put it all together and you get — drum roll, please….
A Bookish Fascinator!
Jillian and I got to work. We decided on a book theme and I went off to Goodwill to find a book. The idea was to make paper flowers out of the pages. When I got to Goodwill I started feeling the pages of the books. I was looking for thick paper over content. I did manage to pick up a collection of three Shakespeare plays with relatively strong paper. Other supplies included glitter spray paint, black tulle and some felt over odds and ends from our combined craft kits.
The next day, Jillian came over for an afternoon of crafting. I made the paper flowers.
The Captain even got in on it and spray painted the glitter on the flowers!
Meanwhile, Jillian was in charge of all sowing. She made a lovely fabric covered platform for the project and added the tulle.
The best part of the entire project was the hat box that Jillian packaged it all in!
The Best School Year Ever by Barbara Robinson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book is about a family of crazy kids named the Herdmans They make mischief and trouble.
My favorite part is when the Herdmans made a schoolmate crack walnuts on his forehead for the talent show. The adults get distracted and the Herdmans stole all the snacks for the talent show. This part is laugh out loud funny!
I think this I a good book for kids and moms.
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Our family first encountered the Herdman clan in The Best Halloween Ever and we have been hooked ever since. This is the second book in a series by Barbara Robinson featuring the trouble-making antics of the Herdman kids as they terrorize The Woodrow Wilson School.
I love reading these books with my kids because the children love the wild actions of the Herdmans–smoking cigars, washing their cat at the laundromat. But, in the end, the rag-tag Herdmans aren’t all bad and often do kind things for others. In this book, Imogene gives away her baby blanket to a classmate’s sibling after he looses his own blanket.
These are wonderfully entertaining books that remind me of a simpler childhood without computers, iPads or video games.
Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Let me say, that any book that sites House of Leaves is speaking to my heart. But, don’t worry Penumbra’s is not what I would consider Meta-fiction.
The book revolves around a store clerk with a job at a rather odd bookstore. Strange patrons come in and treat the place more like a lending library than a bookstore. The clerk decides to try and figure out what’s up and the adventure begins.
Sloan combines technology and tradition in a story that explores people’s need to understand: What’s IT all about?
The plot is great, the writing strong, the characters completely in tune with themselves.
Throughout the book, I kept wishing there really was a bookstore like Penumbra’s and better yet, a Penumbra himself. Describing the bookstore owner Sloan writes: He’s like a storybook spirit, a little djinn or something, except instead of air or water his element is imagination.
It’s completely worth five stars. And, should not be overlooked simply because it might not meet highbrow standards.
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Everyone who’s graduated high school in America has heard of F. Scott Fitzgerald and his “Great American Novel” The Great Gatsby. Fewer people know about his wife, Zelda. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald seeks to fill-in the gaps.
I received this book from my husband, as a gift. The Captain (as I call him) knows I am a huge F. Scott fan and think Gatsby maybe the best American work of fiction EVER!!! So, The Captain picked this up for me and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it.
Right way, I am forced to think of The Paris Wife–a book about Hemmingway’s first wife. I know I shouldn’t compare books, but it is difficult to avoid it. I am also drawn to Hemmingway’s A Movable Feast. In order of preference:
1. A Movable Feast
2. The Paris Wife
3. Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Now other reviewers seemed to have some issues with the book. They felt that Scott and Zelda’s characters were ‘off’. I don’t know enough about them or their relationship to judge.
Zelda’s character is lacking a certain level of depth. Additionally, writing her character must be something of a challenge because of the time she spent in the sanitarium. Still, I feel as if the author glossed over those periods and avoided tackling them because it is difficult. None-the-less, Fowler choose to take on this character and should have engaged more with her ‘mental illness’. I would suspect anyone faced with her trails would feel more anguish, helplessness and despair. Those emotions did not come through in the writing.
The book has inspired me to learn more about Zelda and Scott both individually and as a couple.
All and all, this book is certainly not a must read. But, if you are interested in the Jazz Age and the expat experience its not a time consuming read and maybe be worthwhile to you.
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