Sunday, 21 September 2014

Torn From Troy by Patrick Bowman / Los Angeles Stories by Ry Cooder / Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood

Torn from Troy by Patrick Bowman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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It goes without saying that Torn From Troy has a great storyline because it is adapted from one of the greatest ever adventure stories, Homer's Odyssey. However, author Patrick Bowman has cleverly reinvented the tale by telling from the point of view of a Trojan boy. Through his eyes, the all- conquering Greeks are not the typical heroes of legend, but brutal louts who have destroyed his home and his family. I enjoyed how this approach made even Odysseus appear real and human.

Torn From Troy is a YA novel and Bowman takes the opportunity to include lots of fascinating description of life in Troy, in the Greek siege camp, and on the boats. Obviously elements such as the Cyclops are fantasy, but nicely blended with factual information too so this book is also a history lesson that doesn't feel like learning!

My download was via AudioSYNC, published by Post Hypnotic Press. I know the same narrator has recorded the next two for them too and I hope they are available via Audible as I want to continue this journey.

Los Angeles Stories by Ry Cooder
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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I finished Los Angeles Stories on the St Malo ferry so was transported from a fortunately calm crossing of the English Channel to the down-at-heel city of Los Angeles in the 1940s and 1950s. Ry Cooder is not only a wonderful musician but also a pretty good writer as these stories prove. There is a fantastic sense of the atmosphere and seediness of the city, the desperation and hope of the people. Each of this collection of short stories has a link to the others, whether it be a place or a character and it was fun to spot how they join together. I didn't understand all the stories however, and a few lost me part way through so I was reading them more for their evocative descriptions than for their plots. Others were simpler to follow. Perhaps have a more extensive knowledge of the music scene of the period would have helped? I did pick up on a number of references but am sure that I missed more than I spotted!

Overall, this is an interesting insight into a past time which puts the spotlight onto those who faded from view or who never made it big in the first place, the darker side of the city of dreams, and I enjoyed reading about the array of characters penned by Cooder. I wonder how many were actually real and how many purely imagined?

Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my WorldReads from Canada

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I've had Cat's Eye on my bookshelf for ages and have been saving it as I absolutely love Margaret Atwood books. We bought several at the same time and this is the last of them. Need to go searching out some more now!

Cat's Eye tells of the bullying relationship between two young girls in 1940s Toronto. I was fascinated by the wealth of detail given about life for children in this period, especially by how much of their school day was remarkably similar to mine in 1970s and 1980s Britain! There are several child and adult characters portrayed and all are wonderfully real people. Our heroine, Elaine, jumps back and forth in time as she revisits her childhood trying to discover what events back then define the person she is now. I particularly enjoyed reading this discovery even though some is quite harrowing. The authenticity of her experience makes the whole book feel more like reading a biography than a work of fiction. Such is the genius of Atwood!

View all my reviews on Stephanie Jane or on Goodreads

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