Book Review – Circe by Madeline Miller

This book was not on my TBR. I’d heard of it, thanks to my work in libraries; there was a lot of buzz around Circe when it first came out. Co-workers raved, it made several awards lists that season, and patrons kept checking it out. And yet, it never once lured me to add it to my To-Be-Read list.

And then my school’s staff book club chose it for its Fantasy Month. Despite my misgivings about it not really being a fantasy novel, I read it all the way to the end. My book club hasn’t met yet to discuss it, but I’m ready to share my thoughts here.

Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars

circe book cover

Circe is the story of the Witch of Aiaia, daughter of Helios, exiled for eternity. She turned evil men to pigs, loved Daedalus, and Odysseus, and later Telemachus. She’s a figure from Greek Mythology, and this book is her first person account of her life.

The problem is, I had no idea who she was before I started this book. You see, the last time I studied mythology was my sophomore year of high school. We read Edith Hamilton and I remember hating it. Sixteen year old me found mythology so incredibly boring I blocked out all memory of the entire unit. Which really did me a disservice because this whole book HINGES on the reader knowing the bare minimum of who the F*&K Circe is! I missed out on a ton of dramatic irony and tension because I literally knew NOTHING about Circe going into this book. Whoops!

What I loved about this book:

  • The writing! Madeline Miller’s prose is absolutely gorgeous and I frequently had to stop and reread lines that took my breath away. The novel is extremely atmospheric and I appreciated how she brought these deities to life.
  • I really liked how Miller wrote Circe’s love for the various men in her life. She described them with details that showed Circe’s affection, that the way she saw them proved her love. It was beautiful.

What I didn’t love:

  • Um… the whole plot? It meandered and not a whole lot happened. Circe spent most of her time moping around and being extremely passive. She didn’t actually become an active character until she suffered at the hands of some stranded dudes who attacked her. She then takes her vengeance on pretty much all men by turning them into pigs. She doesn’t settle down until Odysseus charms her into freeing his men and sleeping with him. Which in hindsight is pretty wack.
  • The pacing. It felt very one note until the last 80 pages or so, when more characters showed up and started interacting with Circe. Looking back I think that was intentional, that Circe let her self-worth be so wrapped up in others for so long, but damn was that a looooong story to get through for her to grow.

I gave this book a 4/5 star rating pretty much purely because of the sheer beauty of the writing. For instance, “But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.”

Or perhaps, “He showed me his scars, and in return he let me pretend that I had none.”

Those are just the two examples that came to me off the top of my head and I love them. They are gorgeous. Profound. The constellation one in particular hit home while I was reading.

So, my final verdict is this: a gorgeous book that’s just a little too slow for my taste. I like an atmospheric read for my short fiction, but expect a bit more punch for my novels apparently. I’m reading Gideon the Ninth right now, which more than makes up for what Circe lacked in grit, so I’ve got that going for me.

If I get City of Ghosts finished before the end of the weekend I might eke in a book review for it. If not, I’ll talk at you all on Monday!

‘Til then, Blogland!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #46

Ah geez, here we are again, late on a Tuesday. But, we’re here and we’re ready to talk about the week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Circecirce book cover
  • Write 5000 words

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. Reading Round Up is out now!
  • Finish reading Circe
    • Not technically. But I did just finish it before writing this so… hurray?
  • Write 5000 words
    • Hahaha no. Writing ground to a halt over the long weekend. Whoops.

Weekly Word Count: 3,414

That’s not a bad word count. At least if it wasn’t non-Nano season.  But it is Nano season so, uh, that’s not so great. I needed at least 5k to stay on track, but I’m feeling really unmotivated with this story. I don’t know if it’s all the distracting video games right now (Uncharted 4, Beyond Two Souls, Jedi: Fallen Order) or if I’m really just not ready to tell this story.

There’s also the fact that my weekends are pretty full this month. November is always a struggle for me, creatively, because it’s the holiday season and there are birthdays to boot. My social life doesn’t mellow out until the late winter and that’s when I can really start pumping out words. Which means I really have to hunker down and focus if I want to hit 25k this month.

In personal news, I’ve started a new medication to potentially help prevent my migraines. I’m skeptical, mainly because I don’t want to get my hopes up, but I’ll know in the next couple of weeks if it helps or not. Fingers crossed.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Gideon the Ninth
  • Write 5000 words

Well, here we are. Reading. Writing. Lather, rinse, repeat. The two blog posts will be a cinch this week because I’ll have the book review for Circe. If Gideon the Ninth is as gripping as it sounds, I might even have that review to write too. And I’ve only got two hours left in the City of Ghosts audiobook. Reviews could abound.

I’m not too optimistic about the writing, but I won’t give up. I can come back to it and keep going out of sheer force of will. That’s my usual m.o. anyways.

I don’t have much by way of plans this weekend, other than cleaning and prepping for holiday visitors. Writing and reading should definitely happen.

I’ll be back soon Bloggarts with the Circe book review!

‘Til then,

 

BZ

 

The Reading Round Up – October 2019

October was a wonderful return of my reading habits. You can tell a lot about my mental state by the number of books I read, and October was a breath of fresh air, like opening the front door and stepping outside for the first time in months. I loved it, even if I didn’t love everything I read.

Title: Vicious (Villains #1)Vicious
Author(s): V.E. Schwab
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I could go on forever about Schwab and how much I love her and this book. In fact, I sort of did in my review. You should check it out!
Recommend: Yes! This is the first book in a short series and a fantastic introduction to Schwab’s writing. You should absolutely give it a shot!

Title: The First Wife’s Secretfirst wife
Author(s): Addison Moore
Format: Kindle ebook
Goodreads Rating: 1/5 Stars
Thoughts: Hm. I have a lot of thoughts about this book and none of them are good. I purposely chose not to write a book review for this title because I didn’t want to be hurtful to the author. That’s how much I disliked this book. I’ll just leave my Goodreads Review here for you:

So. One star. I don’t want to sound cruel because I know writing is incredibly hard work that comes from a personal place, always. That being said… The plot was tangled in so many subplots, the characters were inconsistent and jumped to so many conclusions. If the main characters had just TALKED to one another they could have figured it out in half the time (like I did). The writing was repetitive and featured a lot of jarring and sometimes misused vocabulary. Ultimately not worth the time. Wah, wah.

Recommend: Absolutely not.

Title: The Last Tsar’s Dragonslast tsars dragons
Author(s): Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 3/5 Stars
Thoughts: This novella was confusing. I liked it, because I liked the interpretation of Rasputin. But I didn’t find any of the other characters likable or compelling. Also, the dragons hardly featured in the book at all and were a bit of a macguffin. Which, given the title and the awesome artwork, was pretty disappointing.
Recommend: Meh.

Title: Dragon Age: Knight Errantknight errant
Author(s): Nunzio De Filippis and Christina Weir, with Fernando Heinz Furukawa and Michael Atiyeh
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: I was always going to love this. It’s a Dragon Age comic and Varric is in it. Yes. I love it. BUT, I thought this one was pretty especially well done. I liked the character dynamics and how things keep leading us to Tevinter. We’re getting closer to the next game and I CANNOT WAIT.
Recommend: Sure. If you’re a fan of the series you definitely should. If you’re not familiar with the Dragon Age franchise, it’s probably not the best place to start.

Title: March: Book One (March #1)march book one
Author(s): John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, with Nathan Powell
Format: Trade Paperback
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Thoughts: It took me a while to get into this book. The artwork is amazing and I love the choice to do the entire thing in black and white. The narration really did feel like being told someone’s life story, which was great but also made me want to take breaks. I needed to absorb what I’d been told from time to time. Not a binge-able book for me.
Recommend: Oh, for sure. I think now more than ever, this Graphic Novel series is so important.

Title: “Our Faces, Radiant Sisters, Our Faces Full of Light”kameron hurley
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story is very untraditional, which I appreciate. Not much actually happens, but there’s power in the lines nonetheless. I liked it and could probably use to read it again to let it steep in my brain.
Recommend: Yes. I love Hurley’s writing and she’s fast becoming one of my new favorite authors.

Title: “The Improbable War”kameron hurley 2
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: This story was so so short. It hit hard and fast and honestly I’d need to read it again to even begin to tell you what I thought of it.
Recommend: Yarp. See above.

Title: “The Women of Our Occupation”meet me in the future
Author: Kameron Hurley
Format: Trade Paperback
Collection: Meet Me in the Future: Stories
Editor(s): N/A
Goodreads Rating: N/A
Thoughts: I’ll be honest, I read these stories in quick succession, and while I know I enjoyed them all, this was the only one that really struck me. It was the longest of the three, which probably had something to do with it. This wasn’t a story that I necessarily liked, it didn’t leave me with any strong feelings one way or another, but it left me thinking. I always like that.
Recommend: Yarp.

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk #45

Fall is fading fast, succumbing to the darkest nights and the frosty air of winter. I’m not ready for it and can already feel the toll on my mood. I hate how early it gets dark after Daylight Savings Time ends. I’m off work at 4:00pm. The sun should not be setting while I’m walking out to my car. That’s some bullshit. It makes me tired, even more so than usual, and generally unmotivated.

Not that I let it stop me this week.

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read PersepolisImage result for the complete persepolis
  • Start Exodus: Defeat

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Yep. The October Recap is up and at ’em.
  • Read Persepoli
    • Yep. It took some concerted effort. While I enjoyed it, I wouldn’t call it binge-worthy.
  • Start Exodus: Defeat
    • Yep! Nanowrimo started on Friday and so the words are flowing once more!

Weekly Word Count: 3,499

I don’t really have much to say about the week. It was Halloween and school went by really quick because of it. I sang karaoke on Friday night and celebrated the husbando’s birthday over the weekend. I still managed to get some good writing in and am looking forward to continuing the trend this week.

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Finish reading Circe
  • Write 5000 words

I think that’s it. Lots of reading and writing this week. I have the Reading Round Up for October to share this week so that’ll be the blog post. I’m having difficulty with Circe already. I think I’m like 30 pages in and I’m bored. So much telling to start with, which, you know, is supposed to be bad or whatever. I’m going to keep trying. If I could read The First Wife’s Secret then I can read this book.

I don’t have any major social plans this week, which is nice. There’s a Willamette Writers meeting on Wednesday and lots of events at work, but my home life this week should be calm. Hurray!

I’ll be back, probably on Friday, to talk about all the things I read in October.

Til then, Blogland.

 

BZ

 

The Recap – October 2019

And just like that, October came and went. It was filled with pumpkins and rain and friends and all those cozy fall things. It was also a busy work month and a busy writing work month. Which probably explains why it went so quickly.

October Goals

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
  • Continue short story submissions
  • Keep reading!

How’d I do?

  • Finish The Lament of Kivu Lacus rough draft
    • YES! This story took a long time.
  • Revise and polish Exodus: Descent
    • YES! It’s out for submission right now!
  • Continue short story submissions
    • YES! Three stories are out and The Cost of Rain was accepted this month!
  • Keep reading!
    • YES! I read five titles this month, which is a huge improvement over the last couple of months!

Total Word Count: 865

Holy Crow y’all. My whole month is in the black! When did that happen? I felt like a did a whole lot of nothing this month, but the whiteboard doesn’t lie. I got shit done! I think this earns me a happy dance. happy dance gif 2

I really gotta work on this unrealistic expectations thing I have going. Even when I’m working hard and making progress, I always feel like I haven’t done anything. I need to relax y’all.

But, November is hardly the month for relaxation. Nanorwrimo, birthdays, holidays, family visiting… Yep. There’s the stress. Found it.

November Goals

  • Write 25k words
  • Read 10 titles
  • Continue short story subs

Short and sweet and oh so challenging this month, y’all. I love this time of year. I love the weather and the clothing and the general good feeling of spending time with loved ones. But man, I’m exhausted just thinking about the month ahead.

The biggest stressor is probably my family coming up from Arizona for Thanksgiving. Now, let me be absolutely clear: I AM SO F*&%ING EXCITED to have them spend the holiday with us. I’ve been looking forward to it for the better part of six months. We’ve gone down to AZ for the holidays a few times now, and I love seeing everyone, but this is different. This is my nuclear family coming up and seeing my house for the first time, eating our food, and sharing my space and life during my most favorite time of year.

I don’t know. It feels so much more special this way. I am so happy and excited to see them.

But, all of that being said. Hosting any sort of event with a houseful of people is stressful to me. I like my house the way it is. Husband, dog, and me. It’s quiet and relaxing. An actual sanctuary against the outside world. Inviting others inside is… stressful. That’s all there is to it.
nano 2019

Add to this stress not just normal Nanowrimo stress, but HOSTING Nanowrimo stress and, well, yikes. Again, exciting stuff, but a ton of work. And somewhere in all of this I need to read and write. A lot.

Which means I need to wrap this up and get to work! I’ll be back next week with the Goals Summary and October’s Reading Round Up.

‘Til then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ

Goals Summary 2019 – Week #44

Better late than never, right Bloggos?

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Begin outlining/brainstorming for Nanowrimo
  • Read something!

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog posts
    • Nope. Just the one post actually.
  • Begin outlining/brainstorming for Nanowrimo
    • Yes? I’m stewing on it a bit and at least know where I’m starting. Not too bad.
  • Read something!
    • Yep! I finished the graphic novel March: Book One. I also started the next book club book, Circe by Madeline Miller.

Weekly Word Count: 0

I won’t lie, there wasn’t much concerted effort in last week. I played video games, thought a little bit about the novella, planned for Nanowrimo for my students (still not used to that… my students…), and generally decompressed.

So of course I got a migraine over the weekend, because why the hell not?

So, What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Read Persepolis
  • Start Exodus: Defeat

Not a big ask there. The most challenging bit will be finishing Persepolis before the end of the month. It’s a bit long as graphic novels go, and tomorrow evening is reserved for carving pumpkins and watching The Crow (as is tradition). Then, of course, it’s Halloween, so it’s spooky movies and handing out candy. Which means I need to wrap up this blog post and get to reading!

I have an appointment to get my tires rotated (not a euphemism) on Friday, which is downtime I’ll use to get a bunch of writing done on day one! Gotta start strong!

Friday should also see another blog post, the monthly recap. Despite my lackluster weeks October isn’t actually looking too shabby.

So that’s the plan. Read. Enjoy spooky season. Then write write write.

creepy grin

It’s my favorite time of year.

 

Goals Summary 2019 – Wk# 42

After, like, two months of inconsistent output and an inability to do much of anything in a timely manner, last week felt like coming back to the gym. Harder than it should be, but oh so wonderful once I actually got to work.

(Full Disclosure: I rarely go to the gym and never feel good about it upon any sort of return. I used the metaphor because I figured it was relatable, not because it was something I ever actually experienced.)

Last Week

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Read one short story
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret

How’d I do?

  • Publish two blog postsVicious
  • Revise one chapter of Exodus: Descent
  • Yes! It was easier than expected and I’m happy with how it turned out.
  • Read one short story
    • No. The weekend was a lot busier than I expected.
  • Finish reading The First Wife’s Secret
    • Yes. Through sheer force of will.

Weekly Word Count: 0

Again, it always feel shitty when the word count says zero, even when that was the plan. But, this was actually a really productive week. I did my editing, I read a book, I wrote a few blog posts, and went to a totally awesome library conference and even managed to sneak in some time to see some whales in the sunrise. I have zero complaints.

Image may contain: ocean, sky, twilight, cloud, outdoor, nature and water
Oregon is so freaking gorgeous.

The revision of Exodus is off to a great start. Chapter one required some obvious cleaning up (mostly those pesky dialogue tags I seem to love in my earliest drafts) but nothing that broke my brain. Hopefully this will be the case for the entire project.

I’m thinking about what to write for Nanowrimo and I think I’m going to work on the sequel to Exodus. I had a spark of an idea today while I was driving home so we’ll see if it develops into anything actionable by November.

I should write a review for The First Wife’s Secret, but I’m kinda afraid to. I hated it. Like, the worst Goodreads rating I’ve ever given, hated it. And I’m not sure what the point of a review like that would be. It’s liable to turn into something pretty ugly and I don’t want that. Regardless of how I feel about it, the author put a lot of time and effort into her work and I don’t want to be a jerk about it. I don’t trust myself NOT to be a jerk about it, because I have a lot of feelings. So… there may not be a review this week, despite finishing the book.

What’s Next?

  • Publish two blog posts
  • Revise two chapters of Exodus
  • Read a short story

I sat here for a while struggling to come up with a fourth goal for the week, but figured if it was that hard to figure out, I probably didn’t really need to make it a goal. I sort of want to work on brainstorming and outlining the Exodus novella I want to write for Nano, but I really think I need to spend a bit more time back in the world first. Which editing will do nicely.

I have a bajillion books out from the library right now, one of which is Kameron Hurley’s new collection of short stories. Which I am DYING to read. So, yeah. I’m gonna read one of those ding dang stories this week. Pinky promise.

This weekend is my bestie’s thirtieth birthday, so I doubt I’ll be much use on Friday or Saturday. Thankfully Sundays seem to be my best day for writing work right now and I never have plans on Sundays. What a coincidence!

I may be back later this week with some news, which if you follow me on twitter or tumblr you already know about because I screamed it into the ether-net. But, I want to cool my jets a little and give this post its space before I share anything else.

Until then, Bloggarts!

 

BZ