An Immortal Outlook || Circe Review

Initial Thoughts:

I’ve been a big Greek mythology fan when I was a wee lass, and this book definitely had me smiling all over again as I reminisce the tales of gods and heroes. One of my favorite tales from Greek myth was definitely the Odyssey, and one of the parts I loved of the Odyssey dealt with Circe. So this was up my alley.


CIRCE

by Madeline Miller
Little, Brown and Company, April 2018
Fantasy, mythology
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe is a strange child—not powerful, like her father, nor viciously alluring like her mother. Turning to the world of mortals for companionship, she discovers that she does possess power—the power of witchcraft, which can transform rivals into monsters and menace the gods themselves.

Threatened, Zeus banishes her to a deserted island, where she hones her occult craft, tames wild beasts and crosses paths with many of the most famous figures in all of mythology, including the Minotaur, Daedalus and his doomed son Icarus, the murderous Medea, and, of course, wily Odysseus.

But there is danger, too, for a woman who stands alone, and Circe unwittingly draws the wrath of both men and gods, ultimately finding herself pitted against one of the most terrifying and vengeful of the Olympians. To protect what she loves most, Circe must summon all her strength and choose, once and for all, whether she belongs with the gods she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

One of my favorite art pieces inspired by The Odyssey was definitely a picture of Circe. She’s encircled by her animals, her topless posture a confident yet alluring figure. Of course, if you took her up on the offer of room and board in her island, you were very much kept as part of her zoo, and most likely slaughtered afterward for a number of reasons.

Barker, Wright; Circe; Bradford Museums and Galleries

I read this book with prior knowledge to Greek mythology, so it was seriously a great pleasure to revisit characters I hadn’t read about in years. I’ve always been a big fan of The Odyssey, and it was an adventure story I absolutely loved, because as a child, Odysseus was the Greek hero I compared all other heroes to. He was the cunning soldier, the strategist, the warrior, the family man. He was far from perfect, and it’s his flaws that bring his downfall, but all the same, my standards for Greek heroes was pretty high, and not even Kevin SorboHercules held a candle.

Odysseus, son of Laertes, the great traveller, prince of wiles and tricks and a thousand ways. He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.

So it’s no surprise that Circe’s story is one I was familiar with, as far as Odysseus was involved. I knew Odysseus was eventually going to make his way back to the clever wife he left behind, but his sojourn at Aeaea was one of my favorite parts of his story. That’s where Circe was, and boy, does she play a part in the hero’s journey (gift from the goddess anyone?). Also, not biased or anything, but the best conversations totally happened between Odysseus and Circe (and then Circe and Daedalus).

I really loved how Miller took Circe and gave her a story. While I was already familiar with Circe’s myth where Odysseus was concerned, I honestly hadn’t delved far enough in her background to tie other characters and stories into her narrative. The whole deal with Scylla was absolutely fascinating to read, and Miller breathes life into the mythos behind other heroes and adventures. Daedalus, for example, makes an appearance, and I absolutely loved this take on the grand craftsman.

There were other characters that showed up, and obviously the characterization for each is the subject of much debate, but Miller does a lovely job playing with their motivations and giving them personality. At times I even thought that the secondary characters had more personality than Circe, which might have been a bad thing to think, but oh well.

Because Circe was written in first person, it was way too easy to see things in the demigoddess’s eyes, and on occasion, this was very difficult to get through, especially since I listened to the audiobook. The rape scene–which pretty much became the turning point of Circe’s outlook on men and humanity–was disturbing at best, harrowing at worst. I literally had to stop listening to the audiobook for days before I could go back to her sweet, sweet vengeance. It was just…ugh, be forewarned.

4 out of 5 cookies! Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and I’ve actually put The Song of Achilles on my list of things to read at a later date.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

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Mini Reviews: A Monster Calls, Lethal White

I’ve been hanging onto these reviews for a while now, for no reason, really. I will say that I’ve been getting into the habit of reading books and watching movies they were based on, so I might actually start doing those, too, from time to time. I won’t with A Monster Calls and I haven’t seen anything of Strike in a while, but I have a few other book-movie-tie-ins in the works!

Anyway, A Monster Calls was a book I’ve wanted to pick up and read ever since I saw the movie and bawled my eyes out. Even as I knew how things would end, this book still made me feel all emotional. And it was so wonderful.

Every annoyance I had with Lethal White had to do with the drama around Robin and Matthew. I’m not sure why the first entire part was on Robin’s wedding, and the quicker that shmat was over, the better. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the politics and mystery of this book as I had been with some of the previous books. Still, I’d watch the show when I can.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: A Simple Favor, The Motion of Puppets

Mari really needs to find a new system in writing her blog posts, because trying to get everything done in a weekend clearly does not work. Maybe once she stops bingeing all the seasons of Game of Thrones she might finally find a bit of normalcy…

Then again, maybe not. But at least she’s trying and that’s what counts, right?

Right?

Sigh.

Anyway, I slipped on my March reading a bit, but I did get a few things in before I started my nightly TV binges. I might as well tear off the bandaid now and get the books I didn’t like over with.

Honestly, I picked up A Simple Favor solely because I adore Anna Kendrick and I so wanted to see the movie the book was based on. Between Kendrick and Henry Golding and Blake mothaheffing Lively, this movie was totally going to be something I’d watch. Unfortunately, the book itself tanked for me. By the end of it, I was really wishing the whole mystery behind Emily’s disappearance was that she was formerly a hitwoman whose past finally caught up to her, and her businessman-husband knew none the wiser because he’s the perfect “I’m always busy and traveling” type of husband. Ugh. IT WOULD HAVE BEEN SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING IF THIS WAS THE CASE. (Note: Fanfiction anyone?! I’m totally welcoming this.)

That being said, I highly recommend the movie for its dark and comedic nature. Like, seriously, I didn’t think I’d be entertained by a mom vlog until Anna Kendrick’s Stephanie made it fun. Though honestly my main takeaway from the movie–and the entire story itself–was how to make a perfect gin martini.

The next book was something my friend and I discussed as an option to read for our podcast, Fableulous Retellings (which, I know, I know, one of the things I need to get back to updating at some point, along with my life), and at the time I was really committed to reading something that was an Orpheus and Eurydice tie-in. I mean, honestly, you don’t get too many of those retellings, right?

Lord almighty, help my soul. I swear I’m not trying to hate on magical realism, but it’s really hard to find a good one that doesn’t make me cringe like most of magical realism books. I mean, come on, I do enjoy Gaiman at least. He’s magical realism, right? As is Patrick Ness for the most part, right?

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

To Prince or Not to Prince || The False Prince Review

Initial Thoughts:

I was actually very entertained by this book, and it was a quick read. I was on the fence with Sage as the main character, but the reveal that had my super suspicious from the beginning kind of explains his unbending personality and it suits him. I will have to pick up the rest of the books to know what happens next!


THE FALSE PRINCE

Jennifer A. Nielsen
Scholastic Books, April 2012
Children’s fantasy, adventure
Rated: 4 / 5 cookies

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.

I saw this trilogy sitting in my classroom last year and a half, and one of my voldies from last year had recommended it as something good to read. I finally decided to have a listen (because yay to Libby for having a copy of the first book as an audiobook!), and I honestly was quite entertained by the perspective.

We follow Sage, a sassy orphan boy who gets taken in with other orphan boys in some crazy plot to pose as the missing prince Jaron. While Sage is only one of four who fit the bill, there’s still some work to get done, and Conner–the man orchestrating this deception–has a deeper agenda of his own. Something doesn’t sit right with Sage, and he’s bound to find out what it is sooner or later.

Honestly, as entertaining as Sage’s perspective is, he does come across as a cocky little smartass sometimes, and occasionally I did want to smack him in the face. One of my big problems with him is his random and sudden attachment to the “pretty servant girl” that shows up in the middle of the book. I don’t buy it, and it bothered me, considering I really didn’t care much for Imogen (I’m also not fond of the “guy falls for pathetic and slightly helpless girl and tries to protect her” as a plot point. I hated it in The Night Angel trilogy, and I absolutely loved that series, so…).

In any case, it was an easy enough read, the pacing of the story was fast-paced, and I could have easily listened to it nonstop without a problem. I’m kind of amused at how things turn up at the end, and it does look like there’ll be more to the story now that we know what’s actually happened to the royal family. Also, I love Mott. More Mott, please!

4 out of 5 cookies! Urgh, my library needs to get the rest of the Ascendance trilogy on audiobook so I can continue listening to this.


Have you read this book? What did you think?

Mini Reviews: Fish in a Tree, Brave New World

You couldn’t get any two books more different, but for some reason I read these two around the same time, so who knows how my mindset was.

Fish in a Tree was a book recommended by one of my fifth grade voldies, and I’d read it within the weekend. She’d been surprised, considering I’ve told her I normally read slow, and this one took her a week to finish, but there you have it.

As for Brave New World…yeah, I kept falling asleep in my college Science and Lit class whenever we talked about this book. Which is pretty bleak, considering I absolutely adored the class and I loved some of the books I’d read for it. This one–especially audiobook form–was irritating to listen to. I get that there were grand ideas of a speculative manner, but honestly, I’d needed to get into Huxley’s stash of recreational drugs to get through this one.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?