Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

I’ve really dragged my feet on writing this review because I loved this book so much that I wasn’t quite sure what to say about it. It is the story of Circe, the famous witch from the Odyssey. ONLY SHE IS SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT! This book follows Circe’s life from its beginning to its end and through it we are introduced to so many other stories in Greek mythology. I liked the writing. I liked Circe’s voice. I liked that this character, who I knew from someone else’s story as a minor character, is given her own voice and her own agency and is put at the center of her own narrative. I want more of that in stories. Where are these stories? Send me more of these stories please.

This was so good. Just so good. Ugh. I might actually re-read it again soon, that’s how much a liked it.

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

This was an impulse grab that I picked up at the library wayyyy back in January for 24 in 48. I’d read Junot Díaz before, but this is the book that he seems to be known for so I figured it was time that I read it. It tells the story of Oscar de León, nicknamed Oscar Wao, and his family in the Dominican Republic under Rafael Trujillo. The novel is really interesting, the narrative is given by two narrators, Yunior is the main narrator and there are some first-person interjections from Lola, Oscar’s sister. I had to look up a little background, I know very little about the Caribbean (or the US’s interventions in the Caribbean…) but I don’t think you necessarily need to do that in order to appreciate the novel. There is a lot of code-switching into Spanish, which I felt really helped you keep a sense of place in the narrative. And, Oscar is so. very. nerdy. So nerdy. There are geeky references aplenty in the story. I really enjoyed that. There was a little misogyny in the narrative that rubbed me the wrong way (but that’s not a problem of the novel but a wider problem. I was particularly troubled by it in the geeky references…but again, I’m particularly bothered by it in geek culture in general.)

I really enjoyed The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. I’m really happy that I read it.

Review: Chronicles of a Radical Hag (With Recipes) by Lorna Landvik

This is the story of Haze Evans, a columnist at a local paper, who suffers a sudden stroke. Saddened by this tragic event happening to their friend, and unsure about what to do with her column at the paper, the staff decide to go back to the archives and run Haze’s columns (and some of the responses) from when she first started writing for the paper. This novel was a touching look into the town of Granite Rock, Minnesota.

The novel was a little slower than I would have liked. But, the only thing that I have to compare it to recently is Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, and it was definitely faster paced than that. Also, the writing was much tighter, which I appreciated. I really enjoyed meeting all of the characters and watching the different relationships grow and be illuminated. I’m a soppy, kind of water-works sort of person, so I did cry a few times reading this. I think the best part of the story, though, is Sam’s growth through the novel. Sam is an intern (and the son of the editor) who comes to work for the summer and is assigned the task of helping to sort through the columns and responses. Because the columns start in the ’60s and come forward in time to 2016, a lot of ground is covered and a lot of touchy subjects in American history also make an appearance. I felt like the novel treated the subjects it raised humanely and with dignity and that it really touching to read.

If you like stories that take you through a town, then this is a novel for you. It was touching, well-written, and enjoyable.

I got this book as an ARC from edelweiss.

Quick Review: Early Riser by Jasper Fforde

This is an interesting piece of speculative fiction in which humans hibernate in winter. Set in Wales, it follows Charlie Worthing as he joins the Winter Consuls, a group of folks who elect to change their hibernation period so that they can be up during winter to look after the people regularly hibernating. In this world, a company has patented a drug that allows people to hibernate without dreams, which has helped people make it through the hibernation period in greater numbers, which has been great for society. The downside is, a small number of people wake up from hibernation with the drug as nightwalkers, essentially brain dead (and often violent) but sometimes with enough function to be trained to do odd jobs. Charlie has to survive his first winter solving a mystery, facing villains, and avoiding fairy tale WinterVolk.

This was really entertaining. I enjoyed the world that it was set in (and, I’m always here for books set in Wales that implies that all of the community is primarily Welsh speaking). I liked the exploration of what it would be like if humans hibernated. That was really interesting. There were a few conceits that did not work for me, but in general this book was an excellent escape from reality.

What I’m Listening to Now: Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

I went down a rabbit hole the other day looking into history curricula for high schools in a number of different countries (I started with South Korea, but I am easily distracted.) and the end of this search was a friend from high school telling me that another friend from high school really liked this book. And, as it turns out, I already owned it so here we are.

Beth read this a while ago, so I’m curious to compare notes with her on it.

Late in game 24 in 48 update

So, I wasn’t sure that I would make it to 18 hours. I am pretty pleased that I will definitely make it to 18 hours. I won’t make it to 24, though. That’s okay.

Here’s what I’ve been reading:

1. Seared by Suleikha Snyder. I finished this earlier today.

2. Circe by Madeline Miller. I finished this yesterday. Oh, god. It’s so good.

3. The Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot and Keith Bosley (translator). This epic oral tale has been so enjoyable. I’ve been listening to it first thing in the morning. I think I’m now about halfway done.

4. King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard. I’m two chapters away from finishing this one! Woo!

5. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. I’m only two chapters into this but I’m very curious to see where it goes.

There’s a chapter of a stats book I’m hoping to also polish off this weekend. I’m pretty happy with this weekend! And, even happier with the new books I’ve added to my tbr from recs from twitter, litsy, and instagram.

24 in 48

I have signed up to do 24 in 48! I have literally no hope of actually making it to 24 hours, but I would like to try. Mostly, I’d like to finish the half finished books I’ve started in the last six months so I can turn out some reviews. Are you also doing 24 in 48? Even if you aren’t, what are you excited to read this weekend?