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January 14th, 2013

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

I did this book as an Audible book simply because Neil Gaiman narrates it. Anything I can listen to read by him is always a treat.

In this book, young Odd is a Viking out of sorts with his people. An injury to his leg prohibits him from going on a long journey - something most male vikings do - and his stepfather doesn't like him very much. As such, Odd decides to run away to his father's old hut out in the woods, but when he gets there, he encounters a bear, an eagle and a fox who have the ability to talk!

Odd soon discovers these creatures are more than what they seem, and he is swept away on a magical journey to Asgard where he must defeat the Frost Giants or leave Midgard to suffer an eternal winter.

This book is a wonderful coming-of-age tale told in Gaiman's unique storytelling. He's able to take Norse mythology and bring it to a modern-day telling without losing any of the magic associated with it and yet making it accessible to all ages.

Books completed: 9/10

Marine Biology by Gail Carriger

Marine Biology by Gail Carriger

This is another short story from Gail Carriger released as an e-book.

In it, we meet young Alex - a werewolf who's surprised to be alive as he and everyone else didn't think he'd survive the transformation. But survive he has. If that isn't enough, he's a gay werewolf in a testosterone-filled pack who thinks it's high time he did his duty and settle down.

When a flirty merman becomes his partner in an investigation, sparks fly, witty barbs are exchanged and the two men become closer than they ever imagined.

Written a good 14 years later than her earlier short - My Sister's Song - you can easily how far Carriger has progressed in her writing. Her dialog flows easier and incorporates more humor and sarcasm - things I consider to be trademarks of her writing style - than in the previous short story.

This is a satisfying read, and Carriger fans will not be disappointed.

Books completed: 10/50

Book 8: The Hidden by Tobias Hill

Book 8: The Hidden.
Author: Tobias Hill, 2009.
Genre: Literary. Contemporary. Thriller
Other Details: Paperback. 354 pages.

In Sparta, southern Greece, a close-knit team of archaeologists dig for the buried traces of a formidable ancient power. A latecomer, Ben Mercer, finds himself drawn to the brilliance and charisma of the group: the double-edged friendship of his countryman Jason, the unsettling beauty of the women, Natsuko and Eleschen, and the menace of Max and Eberhard, who idealise the extremes of the ancient Spartans. Thrilled by the possibility of acceptance and excited by the dangerous games they play, Ben gradually wins his way into the circle. But there is more to the group than he understands, and Ben finds out too late that some things should remain hidden. He must decide where his loyalties lie - before the decision is taken for him. - synopsis from publisher's website.

This was a much more literary novel than I had expected from reading its cover blurb at the library. I perhaps should have realised it given the UK publisher, Faber & Faber, is a well known literary imprint. Its premise brought to mind Donna Tartt's The Secret History as both novels have an outsider desiring to become part of a close-knit group engaged in ancient studies, though in this case the group is not made up of university students but members of an archaeological dig.

Still I am used to my thrillers with a lot more thrills and much less angst. Its protagonist Ben Mercer does a lot of brooding about his failed marriage and his life in general. I did enjoy the sections about ancient Sparta but the novel itself just failed to engage me. Its final reveal felt very anti-climatic rendering the entire experience a disappointment.

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