SORRY I have been gone over the last few months! Things got a little…not good…earlier this year, which I explain a bit of down below, but I have returned with a review! And some very mini mini reviews of the books I’ve read in the last few weeks. Sorry if my review writing is a little rusty….
Circe by Madeline Miller ★★★.5
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…
I had an….interesting time with this book. I really enjoyed the first half of it, I liked Circe, I liked her kindness and her naivety even though it was a weakness to her. The pace of this book is not fast, but I read the first half very quickly, was intrigued by the way the mythology played out in Miller’s style.
Then I hit a wall. Things just got…… too slow. I’m not even going to look on Goodreads to see the dates that I started and finished this book, because it felt like years. An eternity. As long as Circe’s immortal life. Because Circe is just kind of stuck on an island and after a little while I was starting to really feel that. And if that was the point, then bravo, but if not, then, well, hmm. Much of what we learn about the outside world is summarized to us by other characters, and even then, I didn’t really care. It felt removed, and not very important or threatening to me. Circe can’t leave, Circe can’t die, she turned vengeful, but not in a way that riveted me.
But I kept going, and I ended up loving the ending. What I had enjoyed about the first half of the book seemed to return, and I felt a renewed affection for the characters, and a vivid interest in how the plot was going to wrap up. If it wasn’t for the patch in the middle where things got slow and disinteresting for me, I’d be giving this book 4 stars. As it is, even though it was a little tough to get through, I did genuinely enjoy this.
Other books I’ve read over the last few months!
I also have read a few other books while I’ve been gone, but my will to write reviews for books I read 3 months ago sadly does not exist, so I’ll share my star rating and five quick thoughts on each.
The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden ★★★★☆: Slow paced. Magical!! Spicy. Satisfying end to a trilogy. I liked the mushroom guy.
Sadie by Courtney Summers ★★★★☆: Sad. GREAT YA thriller!! Characters that surprised me. Readable. It really went there.
My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh ★★★★☆: Intriguing. Punch to the heart. Relatable but not too relatable. Frustrating. GOOD STUFF.
The Pisces by Melissa Broder ★★★★☆: Kind of disgusting. Made me feel morose. Was not necessarily enjoyable, but I really liked it. OH NO. Unique.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite ★★★★☆: FUN! Fast paced. Easy to read. Like a thriller but not really. MEN!!! Why did I expect any other ending than the one it had.
Why I’ve been gone…..
Also, I want to explain why I’ve been absent the last few months! I know I don’t really have to, but I just feel like it’s good for me to be honest about things. I shall sum it up on two reasons-
1) I have been taking art classes! I go to a university in my city and take night classes for a photography program. It has been very fun, but it’s a lot of work and takes up a lot of my time. But it’s very worth it and I’ve never had so much fun attending classes before. It’s also just sparked a lot of inspiration to work on things for myself in my free time, time I used to spend on reading.
2) The Big Reason. The short answer is: my workplace is not the nicest of environments, and people there are not always the nicest of people, and it was so very bad this past winter that I spiraled into an intense period anxiety, stress, and all-encompassing self hatred. There were other factors too – the general dark sadness of winter and a very minor health issue that unleashed the worst bout of hypochondria I’ve ever had – and all of these things were just a wild storm of black poison in my brain. Which, understandably, made it hard for me to concentrate much on writing reviews.
The weather started getting nicer, and on the days I couldn’t contain the stress I started going outside and walking it off, which improved my mood, and I talked to some friends about my problems, which gave me perspective, and things started to feel better. My work environment has calmed down since the winter, and I’ve been applying to new places to work and for positions I’m interested in working in.
Now I make sure to take a walk outside every day and just…unplug. I guess I could say that getting regular exercise and sunlight has dramatically helped my anxiety, but going outside, in nature or in the city, is just really nice time I get to spend with myself. It helps clear my head, and I think about fun things, not self-hating things, and I take pictures and I brainstorm stories and listen to music and audiobooks, or just am quiet. I explore places I haven’t been before, parks and beaches and trails, I visit new stores and new restaurants that I come across, and I just really genuinely enjoy, like….physically being out in the world. It’s time with myself, but my focus is not entirely on myself. It’s time where I’m not beholden to anyone, or needing to be productive in any way, and it’s satisfyingly tiring. It’s honestly something I look forward to doing every day, and it’s given me a lot of perspective and mental and physical strength. I know this is kind of a tangent, but I just really love it!!
Obviously, that does cut into my reading time quite a bit, so I’m not matching the number of books that I used to, but that’s okay. I want to do the things I enjoy because I enjoy them and not because I feel like I have a thousand obligations to them, or because I’ll feel like a failure for not doing them. Not that I’ve ever felt that way about reading, but I did about blogging, and falling away from the community a bit. But I knew I could always come back!
So yeah!! That’s my condensed explanation, and I’m working hard to maintain this routine because I don’t want to fall into that kind of dark headspace again. It’s still tough, and work is still tough, though calmer now than it was. And I do work with some great people- I don’t want to paint a terribly bleak picture! But it’s been hard to constantly be around those who have such negative and domineering attitudes, and people who treat others badly. There’s just no point to it, except now instead of letting it feed into all the worst things I think about myself, I try to use it to fuel myself to go out and enjoy the things around me even more, and to be good, and to enjoy people and encourage them!!!!!!!!!! That’s corny but if you fight me over it I won’t even go and cry in the work bathroom anymore.
Some friends and I have been studying Ecclesiastes in the Bible and there’s a verse that really stood out to me that kind of sums it all up, I think: (8:15) “And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.”
I hope to be around here more!!!