Reading roundup 02/06/21

Hello everyone, it’s good to be back posting on the blog! With all of the excitement in the house, Younger Son being home for the first time in ages, I didn’t get the chance to do any sustained reading. So, the books I am writing about today were read a fortnight or so ago.

The Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden

I just had to choose my first book: The Gates of Athens (Athenian #01) by Conn Iggulden. Of course it is years since I studied Classical Greek History at University, but I do remember some of it and this book brought back some memories from my youth! Anyway, here is the blurb:

“490 B.C.

Two great empires are about to go to war . . .

The momentous struggle between Athens and Sparta as rival powers and political systems will last for twenty-seven years (431 to 404 BC).

It will end in the fall of a dynasty.

Filled with cunning political scheming and astonishing military prowess, invasions and treacheries, plagues and slaughters, passion and power, Conn Iggulden brings to life one of the most thrilling chapters of the ancient world.”

This was such a detailed work that it took a while to finish the book! Here is my review as posted on Goodreads:

The Gates of AthensThe Gates of Athens by Conn Iggulden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was very interesting for me, as a former student of this period in history, to read a fictionalised version. As I read, so many familiar names emerged and I found myself looking up a lot of the characters to remind myself of their stories. Because I already knew a lot of the historical background, I began to anticipate much of the action, both in terms of the battles, but also the political manoeuvring of the time. So, I feel that Iggulden did a pretty good job in bringing all of this to vivid life.

I particularly enjoyed his detailed descriptions of what a Greek warship might have been like to sail into a sea battle. The restrictions on the rowers in terms of space and how difficult it must have been to manoeuvre them, were depicted very well.

My one issue – and this will always happen with books about the Ancient Athenians – is how few female characters there are. Women’s lives were so restricted to the domestic sphere, that there are few known women to write about!

View all my reviews

This first book of the series finished at a very exciting place in the tale, so I am really looking forward to reading the second part. I hope that my library decides to purchase the ebook!

Devolution by Max Brooks

My second book was Devolution by Max Brooks. This is the blurb:

”As the ash and chaos from Mount Rainier’s eruption swirled and finally settled, the story of the Greenloop massacre has passed unnoticed, unexamined… until now. But the journals of resident Kate Holland, recovered from the town’s bloody wreckage, capture a tale too harrowing – and too earth-shattering in its implications – to be forgotten.

In these pages, Max Brooks brings Kate’s extraordinary account to light for the first time, faithfully reproducing her words alongside his own extensive investigations into the massacre and the beasts behind it, once thought legendary but now known to be terrifyingly real.

Kate’s is a tale of unexpected strength and resilience, of humanity’s defiance in the face of a terrible predator’s gaze, and inevitably, of savagery and death.

Yet it is also far more than that.

Because if what Kate Holland saw in those days is real, then we must accept the impossible. We must accept that the creature known as Bigfoot walks among us – and that it is a beast of terrible strength and ferocity.”

Brooks’ book, World War Z, is a favourite (BTW, the book is miles better than the film, in my opinion), so I was pleased when I saw this one on our ebook catalogue. Here is my response:

DevolutionDevolution by Max Brooks
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was really excited when I saw that this book was available as I really rate World War Z. OK, it didn’t live up to the standard of the previous work, but I did find it an exciting and absorbing read.

The style of the writing was obviously meant to echo that used in World War Z, but was less successful when writing about a smaller number of characters and scenarios. The “green and sustainable” lifestyle sought by the characters was clearly intended to be idyllic and peaceful, but was also quite amusing: provisions brought by drones, for example. I did enjoy the development of the characters throughout the book: with some who previously appeared weak and self-absorbed becoming brave and resourceful and others becoming quite the opposite!

Anyway, it all served to remind me to make sure I am fully provisioned at all times just in case we have either a Zombie Apocalypse or an attack by a family of Yetis…

… or, of course, a world-wide pandemic!

View all my reviews

I have a few book waiting in line for me to read, but I cannot yet decide which one to choose. All will become clear in next week’s Reading Roundup post.

Until then: Happy Reading to you all!

Love and best wishes,



About The Librain

Retired School Librarian
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