Reading Update: The Immortalists (Varya)

20180802_1906265326587727603823312.jpgI am finally finished reading the final section of The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Since that fateful day on Hester St. in 1969; we’ve watched the Gold children evolve from children, who’s curiosity once guided them to a Romani gypsy for answers, to adults plagued by the knowledge they’d received.

The youngest Gold; Simon, urged by elder sister Klara and fueled by his death date, ran from his home of NYC to make a name for himself in San Francisco.  Embracing his sexuality, he finds love and a hidden talent. He insists on making the most of his life, fated to die young. His curtain closes in the 80s, and he is lost to the AIDS virus.

Obsessed with the other-wold and guilt-ridden over the loss of Simon Klara begins a downward spiral full of drinking and hallucination. Though she manages to marry and have a child. She too cannot escape the damning reminder of her date and actually claims her own life to make it come true.

Eldest son, Daniel, military doctor and beloved son of the Gold family seemed determined to live past his date. Though as his time loomed closer, the knowledge that he was “meant” to die drives him mad. Agitated by what he knows and determined to bring the woman of Hester St. to justice for perceived crimes against his family, he is gunned down after assaulting the woman.

And then there was one…

Varya Gold was the only one left. She’d been born first, was fated to live the longest yet, we never really meet Varya until her own section. I’m starting to realize that this story may have always been about Varya.  Starting with the prologue told from her point of view.  We meet the woman on Hester St. through Varya’s eyes. She is the only onw who’s conversation is shared with the reader and she is also the only one who’s full date is varyarevealed in the beginning.

I’ll touch more on how the book plays out if this was always about Varya more in the actual review but for now I just wanted to mention the one thing that may have kept Varya alive longer than her siblings.

Varya had a sickness, a fear of dirt and germs. A compulsion to wash herself and to minimize physical contact with others. She enjoyed books, a means of coping with the isolation, however, even before Hester St. she’d begun to distance herself from her family afraid that death was always lurking behind the corner.

Yet of all the Gold children she, the eldest, would have the longest life. We rejoin Varya sometime after Daniel’s meltdown and death only to discover that she is lead researcher at the Drake Institute for Research on Aging.

Her siblings seemed obsessed with ensuring they lived their lives to the fullest. Varya seems determined to live.

Using Rhesus monkeys as test subjects, in a caloric restriction experiment, she is trying to prove that eating less will improve longevity.

A quandary that sparks a philosophical debate in her section.

Is it better to live a lesser life in order to live a longer one?

Up to this point the going concept has been that ‘Thoughts Have Wings’ hinting to the idea that the thought that they’d die on a certain date drove each Gold to their deaths. Varya, suffering from OCD had a preoccupation with death long before the fortune teller and her cautious life seemed to keep her alive.  Yet she’d sacrificed so much for those extra years.

antiagingVarya is also taking part in the restrictive experiment, her OCD has caused her to live alone, and she is unmarried. We discover she had a son, and placed him up for adoption as a baby. Something that comes back up in her later years.

Varya’s section is much less about her preoccupation with the woman’s prophecy and more about how far she was willing to go to save herself.  Varya’s own illness is far more foreboding than the woman’s fortune especially since it said Varya dies at the age of eighty-eight.

Varya is the only Gold to survive the story, she visits with their mother and watches as Ruby, Klara’s daughter grows into a woman. She visits Robert, Simon’s love who has moved on and found happiness surviving with the virus that claimed her brother’s life and she’s able to attend the wedding of Daniel’s ex-wife who was finally able to find peace and a new family to call her own.

Varya’s chapter ends looking towards the future as she chooses to live for the first time in her life.

 

What Do You Think Of Varya’s Section?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

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Reading Update: The Immortalists (Daniel)

img_20180425_120532_0424410834466623584749.jpgAs you all know by now, I’m reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Thus far we’ve spent the last forty years keeping a close eye on the Gold children, who visited a psychic back in 1969. The Jewish siblings, let their curiosity guide them to a woman on Hester street and her prophecies sets each Gold child on a different path.

Simon discovers his sexuality, true love and a hidden talent. But his bright stars burns out with the introduction of the AIDS virus. Guilt-ridden for encouraging Simon to chase after his desires, (and therefore urging him to live his best GAY life) Klara embraces her magical talents, her grandmother’s legacy and the other world that seems to be beckoning to her. She takes her own life ensuring her prophecy comes true.

I managed to lightly skim a few GoodReads reviews and I completely disagree with whoever said the third chapter is when things get boring.

mil doc 1The chapters following the murky death of Klara Gold belong to her oldest brother Daniel, a military doctor who seems to be on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He recalls meeting his wife, their wedding day and glaze over the parts of their lives that overlapped Klara’s.

Daniel’s final days begin with a two week suspension unjustly given by a superior officer demanding he approve more soldiers for the “war” in Iraq. Daniel is committed to the service but does his best not to send anyone who isn’t medically ready.

With his free time that he never asked for Daniel finds his mind returning to the woman on Hester street. His date is fast approaching and there’s no real indicator that his time is up.gypsy

So Benjamin gives him a push in the right direction. The gentleman we meet in Simon’s chapter, Officer Eddie O’Donoghue who seems to be unluckily and inexplicably linked to each of them has arrived to give closure on a fourteen year case.

After discovering Klara’s dangling body, he’s befriended Daniel, claims to have been in love with her and gets the inclination that her death may not have been a suicide. (It so obviously was🤔)

Daniel’s revelation about the woman on Hester street finally discloses her identity to the reader. She is a Romani gypsy. Bruna Costella is not like her family and her gifts aren’t a hoax.

Daniel’s descent into madness is far more chilling than Klara’s wracked with guilt for not being more involved with his siblings he goes from respectable citizen to domestic terrorist.

Have You Been Reading Along?

What is Eddie’s True Role in This Story?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Reading Update: The Immortalists (Klara)

c03aacba0d4db273714ae7278d8b75a57847845150090983815.jpgI’m still reading The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. Following the demise of Simon; the youngest Gold and first to die, we enter Proteus and the magical life of Klara Gold. The youngest daughter of the Gold family, a magician who also dies pretty young.

Fated to die by the age of 31, I spent a lot of time trying to guess when specifically since it seemed pretty obvious that she was chasing the ghost of her grandmother. Klara has always been obsessed with the metaphysical, even enthusiastically agreeing to see the psychic in the first place.

After Simon’s death, Klara spirals into darkness. Her talent being squandered at dinner theaters around San Francisco. She rekindles her friendship with Raj one of the firsts people she befriended when they moved there. As the pair chase Klara’s dreams of stardom they fall in love and start a family.

Still she’s always seemed preoccupied with her grandmother, a former entertainer and circus act. Klara starts out chasing the metaphorical ghost of her grandmother and namesake, by following down the same path. This pursuit expands into a literal chasing of ghosts; believing she can communicate with Simon from beyond the grave. An obsession that may be a hallucination joined by or worsened by her drinking.

Finishing Proteus, it felt anti-climactic and murky. Obviously clarification will come with 0d28c783b66dd7ddde76fd77488fff241534858297714133199.jpgreading on but for now I’m stuck wondering. This may sound really rude or inappropriate but … did Klara kill herself? I was expecting her to plummet from the stage while performing the jaws of life.

I was a bit disappointed.

I was expecting her to die much like Houdini or Thurston since she was a magician and Benjamin felt the need to mention them. The section heavily details Klara’s alcohol abuse, I’d  assumed she’d get drunk and slip from the rope. I even considered that maybe she would get into a car accident or acquire some kind of alcohol related illness.

Instead the final pages of Proteus were chaotic as if the reader is sharing in Klara’s drunken manic thoughts. She was fated to die January 1, 1991.

Her show was set to open on that date. What I thought was a mounting excitement for the opening performance seemed to be Klara’s descent into madness.

66c4c4d1c75df30b1df8fc26360d6adc597159403258541548.jpgThe final moments of the scene seem to be the young mom and Vegas starlet’s intentional demise.

Whereas Simon’s choices may have still led him to the same path regardless of his move. It seems Klara’s end was by her own hands. Was she insane or truly in touch with the spiritual world?

Grief and guilt over Simon’s death was the root of her drinking problem. Her obsession with magic and the metaphysical more poisonous than any bottle.

Klara was able to find love and start a new generation but her focus was always on the past she couldn’t change. The father she no longer had. The brother she couldn’t save.

My biggest question from this section of the book is…Did Klara fulfill her own prophecy?

 

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Have You Been Reading Along?

Do You Think Klara Fulfilled Her Own Prophecy?

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Reading Update: The Immortalist (Simon)

1b34b66af5c62296869ed3b7b20c5c227852714073979919797.jpgToday I finished reading the first section of The Immortalist. The whirlwind life of Simon Gold the youngest of the Gold siblings fated to die young. The beautiful ones always do… or at least I’ve heard that somewhere before.

If you’ve picked up the book then you know it’s about four siblings who’ve had there fortunes told and live with the knowledge of the day they die. Though Varya is the one who seems concerned about dying young. It is actually Simon who gets such a tragic fate.

Immediately I wondered how each of them would go. The inside flap foreshadowing each journey.

Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco.

It’s either my writer brain or my reader brain. Perhaps it’s even Benjamin leaving bread crumbs for the reader but I guessed Simon’s fate from the moment they decided on San Francisco.

Simon is a young homosexual runaway living in the the Castro neighborhood of San Fran 2d1f19525441702cd93a69284811b0eb3164631543057380492.jpgin the ’80s. Amidst the disco, drugs and multiple sex partner swapping. Simon is living the stereotypical gay experience and there’s only one thing that can stop his show.

The Gay Cancer…

I’m not sure what I expected. Even though I’d guessed how the final chapters of Simon’s life would end. I’d always imagined him to have been unhappy on drugs or a prostitute. Instead, Simon was able to build a real life for himself. His job as go-go dancer at gay night club led him down a path of professional ballet dancing. He excelled and thrived and even found love with Robert, an equally talented black man.

Things seemed as though they were going perfectly yet, Simon felt the need to give in to his most base urges… in the end it claimed his life.

My only frustration was how they described the AIDS virus. It was continually referenced to as the “Gay Cancer” as if no one knee what HIV was in the 80s?

Apparently because they didn’t…

b58f40a6dcf7f6ec7bfbce743e95bdad6137996832997974872.jpgAccording to NPR and commentator Joe Wright, during 1981 and most of 1982, AIDS wasn’t called AIDS and no one knew what caused it.

What they did know was one of the first and most visible signs of the new disease was Kaposi’s Sarcoma, KS, creating purplish tumors that showed up on the skin.

The first people reportedly diagnosed with the unknown disease were gay men, so people started calling the disease Gay Cancer. 

Understanding of course that the phrase was inaccurate. Researchers found heterosexual adults and young children with the same symptoms. Research determined the underlying problem was actually immune deficiency. Still the phrasing stuck with the media and the gay community until the later part of 1982.

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Simon’s star burned bright but by 1982 the youngest Gold’s light had gone out. This at least frees Klara, who’s been working on her death defying stunts. The same exact one that killed their grandmother.

 

Have You Been Reading Along?

What Did You Think Of the Brief Life of Simon?

 

 

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Bleu Reviews: The Invisible Library

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The Invisible Library By: Genevieve Cogman Rating: 5 out of 5

***There May Be Some Indirect Spoilers, I Try To Be As Vague As Possible ***

Another book completed to add to my 2018 Reading Challenge. After finishing Renegades by Marissa Meyer, I was looking for something different. I even considered that YA may no longer be for me.

My interests tend to linger on the more grotesque of topics and the more gore the better in my opinion.  As a result of fine tuning the specific kinds of books I like, I stumbled across this series and it just topped my list of MUST READS.

I originally discovered this book while doing a Bookstore browse and was actually pulled in by the fourth installment of the series. That book’s cover had a Great Gatsby layout that piqued my interest, but, as an avid book collector and lover of series I had to start with the first book to be sure it was worth the time.

Though still technically a YA novel, “The Invisible Library” turned out to be more exciting than it sounded. The book was full of my favorite things; an amazing creatively developed world, with well-rounded, expertly written, relatable snarky characters. A img_20180624_231004_5964887169042057646425.jpgcreative magical system that uses actual language, (both written and spoken) to thrive. Secret Societies dedicated to the procurement of specialty works of fiction, “By Any (most) Means Necessary” Alternate worlds offering various pending adventures as well as misadventures and a female protagonist, which I’m always down for.

There is even mild sexual tension between characters Irene and Kai and a possible love triangle if we are willing to make Vale a true contender for her affections. Those who enjoy a little romance to break up their action will be pleasantly occupied with the developments there. Cogman did an impressive job developing the plot.

The mystery aspects of the novel were so well conceived that the reader was gradually transported to the same conclusions the characters themselves reached around the same img_20180624_230527_3388987632588590467996.jpgtime. I will admit, on a few occasions, I even guessed at some of the scenes. A true indicator that I was connecting with the story.

The Invisible Library, was a relatively quick read and I would have finished it sooner, if not for family emergencies and a dread of finishing before I had time to buy the next book. This is one series I’m considering borrowing from the library.

I choose my fantasy mostly based on the entertainment factor,  though, a few books manage to toss in an underlying message that I have to dissect later. This book had such a quality. The nature of the library isn’t to interfere nor is it to become attached, yet in essence it’s function seems to be a contradiction.

Agents must intervene in order to intercept the works of fiction, either passively as in most missions (as explained by Irene) or through more direct methods as displayed in the story. Likewise forming attachments, at times prove useful as secrecy isn’t always best when trying to gain information.

I was satisfied with how the first book ended understanding that there is more to it since there are four completed works in this series. I love the overall concept that a secret society of librarians exist to gather books from alternate realms. The Mythos behind it’s forming and its true nature are also things I’m looking forward to learning more about. Very eager to get my hands on the next book, which the author was so kind as to include as an excerpt in the first one.

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What’s Your Favorite Book About Books?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on FacebookTwitterInstagramGoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com

Bleu Reviews: Renegades

 

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Rating: 4 out of  5

I have finally read a book written by Marissa Meyer and considering the page count, I’m very proud of myself.  I fell into a reading slump during this book, and had to switch to an audio book to actually complete the novel but I finished and i’m still on track for my 2018 Reading Challenge.

Renegades by Marissa Meyer is a YA novel all about superheroes. Very much in the way of X-Men, these “prodigies” (mutants, specials whatevs) were being persecuted for their gifts and were only free of that persecution after a revolt. What would later become the villains were originally the ones willing to fight to end the system that oppressed them. As usual with these sort of things, the power went to their heads and we were faced with a decade of anarchy.

My favorite parts of this book would be the plot and underlying message the book itself conveys. In Renegades, post anarchy, the Renegades are both the police force and  the governing body. Civilization has ground to a halt and prodigies are relied on for everything. It makes me think of the Powerpuff Girls, Too Pooped to Puff  (Season 2, Episode 3) it seems the non-prodigy citizens of Gatlon have fallen into the same boat.

The worst part of the read was really just the pacing, the action scenes were fast-paced, easy to get through but the delivery of backstory  d    r     a    g    g    e    d …  and it killed me at times to read. I finally caved and hunted down an audio book on YouTube.

20180624_152315I love that the two main characters have triple identities and that you can see where at times Nova truly believes in the intent of the Renegades mission while not necessarily agreeing with their existence.

Nova was my favorite character, her inner turmoil made getting through the slower parts more enjoyable. I especially love where the first book leaves her and I’m eager to find out what happens to her next. Sketch is easily overshadowed as far as characters go though he is very well written as the “all-american” golden boy, it feels pretty cliche at times and the only thing changing that was the introduction of the Sentinel.

There are definitely a few plot twists I hadn’t seen coming, but for now I’m only finishing the series because I started it and want to know what Nova plans to do next. I did hear that this was also going to be a graphic novel. I’m much more interested in seeing what the story looks like.
 

Who’s Your Favorite Villain?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

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Bleu Reviews: Circe

 

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Rating: 5 out of  5

I spent the best part of my adolescence immersed in Greek mythology, it’s what started me down my path to fiction appreciation and is a large part of the genre I write. Whenever I can find a book that utilizes mythology, of course I want to grab it! I’d been hunting down  Circe  by Madeline Miller for months to add it to my collection dying to see if she’d keep true to the old myths. Though she definitely borrowed from bards I hadn’t even read up to this point Madeline Miller  was able to breathe new life into an old tale, her adaptation of Circe, elevating the character beyond her usual role as supporting cast.

With a cast as overbearing as the Olympians and the Titans themselves it is easy to see how she’s been relegated to clever witch of the magical isle. Even in the beginning of this tale she starts her journey as the plain, unimpressive eldest daughter of Helios and Perse. Circe is said to be named after a hawk or falcon as her voice sounds shrill to the ears of her divine parents. Overlooked and undervalued throughout the realms like a baby bird she wilts and shrivels beneath the brightness of her family; whom never see her as interesting, intelligent or crafty. She has a proclivity towards humans which to her family makes her weak. For a large part of the story she is often seeking love or approval, a desperation that makes her a target for the cruel whims of the Gods.

Circe through Miller’s eyes is less malicious and easily swayed as she appears in the tales of the Odyssey. She is neither damsel nor crone yet she is just as formidable, that peace of her Miller captures effortlessly.  Circe manages to hold onto her vulnerability wearing it around her the way the Gods wore their divinity. She rebelled against all things that made her divine and instead fought for her mortality every chance she got. Her refusal to conform to their societal norms where the Olympians were at present higher ranked and Titans bowed to their whims, Circe stood just outside of this bowing to no one and living in exile for it.

Throughout the book we see Circe test her boundaries with regards to her rebellion against her father and the Olympians. First when discovering her gifts and later in response to using them. She welcomes what they would call a punishment as a respite from years of internal isolation and grows into herself on the island of Aiaia. She clung to  fear hoping it would protect her from some untold wrath it was only when she released herself from those fears that she was able to finally free herself.

When the novel begins we see Circe as the abused eldest daughter who’s  eagerness to please and dote on strangers repeatedly becomes her undoing. She seeks out any form of connection because of the attention it provides despite how she is treated in return. Circe  endures these toxic cycles fashioned from her need to feel appreciated while others use her gifts, her insecurities and her hospitality to their ends.

On some level I feel we can all relate to the feelings Circe struggles with  especially afterfb_img_1528342945463658556408.jpg years of exile. The novelty of freedom wearing off she was faced with the abrupt and endless loneliness immortality forced her into. Couple that with years of eing mentally trained that you are worthless, useless and better off as a pillar of salt. That she found her inner power at all was a miracle.

Circe’s discovery of her powers is a pivotal moment in the book. Until this point she was a shrinking violet, withering away to nothing. Even the pace of the book was a bit slower during this period of her life. Until Circe meets Glaucos there is no real action. If Circe was a child before she begins a sort of puberty in the following chapters  experiencing her first crush, heartbreak and even envy. If it were not for this Circe may have never came into her powers and there would have been no tale.

Circe’s obsession with the mortality of humans is a motivation for her throughout the book. She seems always preoccupied with the withering years of the humans she encounters. It is the disposition that makes her the scapegoat. She is the most disposable or so they think. Circe’s discovery of her powers may have come as a happy accident but her evolution as a witch was a sheer force of will.

At first magic is described as means of bringing forth ones truest self. We see that Circe’s magic has that effect on everyone she seems to come into contact with. It revealed Glaucos to be as vile and cruel as any of the Gods. Showed Scylla for the monster she truly was. It even revealed the goddess herself to be more than the mere whipping-post her family had relegated her to .

Until that point, Circe  hadn’t bothered to stand up for herself or what she wanted in any way. She’d been a doormat, being browbeaten and berated endlessly. Her transformation of Scylla was the first time she did something out of spite and for her own benefit.  The aftermath of that one moment stayed with her throughout the book and it was considered her greatest regret. She was both physical punished and forced into exile because of this, yet her exile became her salvation.

It is on that island that she found her power.

The themes of women and power are heavily explored in Circe.  Throughout the novel there are several examples of women who use everything from looks to the ability to bear children as a means to carve out a place for themselves in the male dominated world they live in.

It is Perse’s womb that carried the witches, each child a new string of amber beads to brag about. Pasiphae uses both her magic and her womb to control Minos, a son of Zeus he is powerless against her succumbing to her will. Pasiphae in turn debases herself in unspeakable ways all in attempts to be remembered. All in pursuit of greater power.

fb_img_15283430110441541008710.jpgEven the Goddess Athena; who is as worthy an adversary as any male mentioned in this story, even mentioned more fearfully than males in this particular novel, requires the male heroes to do her bidding because it is there offerings she craves.

This novel also explores the varying concepts of power. There seemed to be a sort of Cold War between the remaining Titans and the Olympians which threatened to break into a new war at any minute. The Olympians understood that their victories were mostly won through the alliances forged with other Titans willing to stand by them. The Titans saw that they were greatly outnumbered at this point and for some they were fairly outmatched. Physical power and the power of wills are two very strong themes.

In witchcraft a spell is only as powerful as the will of the one casting it. The power to sway minds and souls. There are many striations of power and the lengths individuals are willing to go through to wield it. Circe seems to gravitate to her magic because it is the one thing that seems to make her less of a victim. She who spent all her life at the mercy of others was able to wield a power that even rivaled the goddess Athena.

If there was one thing that frustrated me with the character of Circe it was her love life. Even this trait is a testament to the development of the character, Miller did great work here in making her well rounded. Circe is a classic case of a young woman with “daddy issues”. Because she never received the love or compassion from her father, she takes any semblance of kindness towards her and runs with it.

We see it with Glaucos but we see it repeated with Hermes. Though she is aware he sees her as a novelty she entertains him anyway, losing herself in him for a time. He shares with her news of the world she is unable to experience for herself however for Hermes she is another story to tell.

She finds herself more interested in mortals.  First Daedelus, the talented builder, who was so enchanted by her he crafted the loom she’d kept in her home. Then Odysseus who’s stay on her island showed a different side to their encounter.

What’s most interesting is the way Odysseus himself is portrayed throughout the book, he is most certainly wily but there was a darkness in him that Circe seemed to quell. He brought her from the brink of darkness herself. They’d both been broken for so long at that point, she’d taken to converting any sailor unfortunate enough to grace her shores and he literally lost his way on the seas at the mercy of vengeful Gods. Their relationship29981ab05cb409815c35e0fce5b0d0fe1694326308.jpg was built on the hopes of a safe-haven.

Another really interesting turn in the book occurred when Circe discovered she was pregnant. Whether she intended to become that way or it was purely accidental i’m still not entirely sure. She chose to keep him secret finally having something of her own to love that couldn’t leave so easily. Circe had evolved many times up to this point but she  changes again. Motherhood made Circe her most fierce and her most fragile. She was willing to go to the depths of the earth and back for her son and to keep him she opened her heart and her home in ways she’d never expected.

Circe was so fearful of mortality despite coveting the human experience. She could walk with them sharing in their moments but never truly feeling what it was to be human. She possessed many of the qualities without realizing it, perhaps she finally comes to that understanding towards the end of the book. It may even be what inspired that final act on the island.

Circe’s exile seemed to be one of her own design. As her sister said once lapping at the feet of the Gods made her closer to their feet. When Circe finally abandoned the fear that held her back she was able to force her will and free herself from her exile. In some way her release of exile was like shedding the final layers of who she’d been. As she stepped beyond the shores she have truly evolved into her truest self. The best transformation was gradual but saved for the final moments of the book.

I have to give Miller special acknowledgement for her skillful remastering of heroes whom even Disney has had their hands on and still giving them an original flair worth reading further into. Every facet of this book was ingenious and it’s clear how this book made the NY Times bestseller List. It is definitely one of my many favorites, I’ve recommended more times than I can count.
 

What Is Your Favorite Modern Myth?

Let Me Know In The Comments Below!

You can keep up with me, Noel Bleu and Blu Moon Fiction on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, GoodReads and Pinterest, or Shoot me an email @ BluMoonFiction@gmail.com