The last week or so I've been pushing to finish some books before I go on vacation. I had a stack of library books to get through (managed just in time! Returned them the day they were due), and some unfinished books I didn't want to take with me. I reached my goal and knocked three books off of my list: The Golden Fleece and the Heroes that Lived Before Achilles by Padraic Colum, The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer, and Dracula by, of course, Bram Stoker.
I've read a lot of mythology books, and The Golden Fleece is by far my favorite. The problem with a lot of mythology books, I've found, is that most of the time no matter how exciting the stories are, the writing simply isn't. This book however was engaging, and I can certainly see how it was the book that got Rick Riordan (of The Lightening Thief fame) into mythology. This book isn't just the Golden Fleece, but includes other stories as well--stories that the heroes told on their long journey, and the last third of the book are short tales about the individual characters that take place after they return home, so you really get a feel for them even if their names aren't familiar when you begin reading.
The Water Mirror is a YA novel I picked up on a whim. I actually saw the third book in this trilogy first, which had the mask from an Egyptian sarcophagus on the cover, but I was sold on this book when I read that the main characters are training to make magic mirrors and magic cloth, respectively. I was a little disappointed by the lack of textile content, but the action and creative story line more than made up for it.
This book takes place in an alternate history, in which an Egyptian pharaoh has risen and is attempting to take over the world. One of the last hold outs is the city of Venice, which is protected by the Flowing Queen. No one knows who or what the queen is, only that she possesses powerful magic and seems to exist in the waters themselves. This alternate Venice is full of magic--stone lions that fly, frighteningly beautiful mermaids, charmed dresses that actually make you slimmer, and of course, magic mirrors, including a blind girl with mirrors for eyes. The pacing was wonderful, the writing imaginative, and I can't wait to get the next book.
The last book I finished was Dracula. If you have any interest in literature, go read it now. Seriously. The beginning is rather slow; I was almost to the halfway point before it really grabbed my interest, but it is well worth the wait. Aside from the fabulous story that earned this novel a place in history, the thing that really intrigued me was the character of Mina Harker. I kept having to remind myself that Dracula was written by a man--the idea of having such a strong woman in a Victorian-era novel is practically unheard of, but she is clearly the heroine of the entire book. Bonus: it involves a typewriter. A couple of them, in fact.
If you want to see the complete list of what I've been reading and links to the reviews, you can find the list here.