August Summary

Okay, August was the best! Well, for books anyways. The wildfires in BC are totally out of control and the air quality was atrocious, so I didn’t do quite as much outdoor stuff, which is one of the reasons it was a great month for books! But also, my August monthly challenge just totally re-vitalized me and got me out of my reading slump!

I was getting a bit hung up with my monthly challenges and the pressure to read specific books, so in August I just set myself the challenge to read pretty much whatever I wanted by trying to read as many of my existing books as possible. I have a lot of un-read books, so it left me with lots of selection to choose from and I finally read some books that I’ve been meaning to get to for a while. Here’s my summary:

Books read: 11
Pages read: 4,208
Main genres: Young Adult
Favourite book: Nevermoor and Women Talking!

I started off the month with Leah on the Offbeat, Becky Albertalli’s newest book. I’ve heard really great things about this one and I’ve been meaning to get to it for a while, but unfortunately I didn’t love it. I’m really hit or miss with Albertalli’s books and I’m finding myself counter to popular opinion on her books. I liked but didn’t love Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda (but I LOVED the movie) and I really liked The Upside of Unrequited, which I would say is her least popular book. But I didn’t like this one either. Leah kind of rubbed with the wrong way and while I still loved all the diversity in this book, I found parts of it problematic.

After that, I decided to participate in the 25infive readathon, which challenges people to read for 25 hours over the span of 5 days. I didn’t quite finish the challenge (I read 23 hours over 4 days), but I read 4.5 books, so I was super pleased with myself. I started with Nevermoor by Jessica Townsend and Radio Silence by Alice Oseman. I totally flew through both books and I am not slightly obsessed with Nevermoor. Nevermoor is totally Middle Grade fantasy at it’s best and I confirm that the comparison’s to Harry Potter are valid and that everyone should read this book because it is just so much fun! I also loved Radio Silence, which is about the struggles of senior year and the pressure to go to University, and I will definitely be reading more of Alice Oseman.

I followed up those with Ten by Gretchen McNeil and To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I pretty much hated Ten and found it problematic and kind of offensive, but I thought To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before was really cute. I was only inspired to pick this one up because the new Netflix movie looked really cute (can now confirm – it is cute). Lara Jean seemed like the type of YA book that I gave up long ago, but I loved that this was more a story about sisters than it was about boys and I thought it was really cute. I also read the sequel this month though, P.S. I Still Love You, and unfortunately I thought it was no where near as strong as the first book and basically unnecessary.

While I did read P.S. I Still Love You in August, it wasn’t part of my 25infive reading challenge. The last book I tried to squeeze into the challenge was Uprooted (I got halfway through during the challenge). Uprooted was a challenge for me. It’s a well written, traditional fairytale type story, but I found it so slow moving that it was really hard for me to get into it.

I interspersed my reading of Uprooted with The Last Time I Lied, which was definitely the opposite in terms of pace. This was my first Riley Sager book and it wasn’t quite as scary as I was anticipating, but I really enjoyed it. It was a solid mystery thriller book about a girl name Emma whose 3 friends disappeared at summer camp when she was 13. She’s returned to the camp as an adult and 3 more girls disappear, forcing her into a race against time to figure out what really happened 15 years ago. I was convinced that I had the mystery figured out and I was thrilled to find out I got it totally wrong and didn’t see the twist coming at the end at all.

I had one book that I had to read in August, which was for my book club, was Circe by Madeline Miller, the new fantasy book that came out this year and has super good reviews. I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with this one, similar to Uprooted. I thought the story was really good, but it was a slow read for me and the reading experience overall wasn’t great, even though I did like the story.

I read Women Talking by Miriam Toews towards the end of this month and it was definitely one of the best books I read this year! It’s a fictional account of the true story of a community of Bolivian, Mennonite women who were attacked and raped in their sleep over the course of 4 years. After the crime is discovered, the women meet to discuss what to do about it and the whole book is basically a group of them talking about whether they should leave the community or stay and fight. The writing in this book is wonderful and the content is so thoughtful. I would recommend this book to absolutely anyone and everyone.

Finally, I finished the month with a re-read of The Assassin’s Blade by Sarah J Maas, which is the prequel to the Throne of Glass series. I am a bit obsessed with this series and with the final book coming out in October, I’ve decided to re-read the whole series! The Assassin’s Blade was just as good as I remembered and I can’t wait to jump into the rest of the books in September!

Circe

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐.5
Author: Madeline Miller
Genres: Fantasy, Greek Mythology
Pub Date: Apr. 2018 (read Aug. 2018)

I just finished Naomi Novik’s Uprooted a few weeks before reading this and my experience reading Circe was a lot like my experience reading Uprooted. Not that the plot was similar, because it’s not at all, but in that I liked both books in theory, but they were just so damn slow to get through.

I’m not gonna debate that this wasn’t a good book. Miller packs all kinds of interesting and flawed characters into this 400 page book and I really liked Circe’s character development and how she changed and grew throughout the course of the novel. I almost felt immortal myself when reading this book in that a lot happened, but it simultaneously felt like very little happened. While I can’t comprehend that this story stretched over a millennia, I did feel like substantial time had passed between Circe’s years in Oceanos and her many many years as the witch of Aiaia. This book really helped me understand the concept of immortality and how the Gods become so stubborn, unyielding, and often cruel. In their immortality and divinity, they really have become like petulant little children – expecting the world to bow at their feet and then throwing a tantrum whenever things don’t go their way.

I loved that Circe was different. She had the voice of a mortal and she felt guilt, grief, and empathy in a way the rest of the Gods had long parted with. She had her moments of anger and rage, but she was also forgiving and reasonable. I loved when she got angry because the Gods had been so cruel to her and I loved seeing her fight back against her circumstances instead of just lying down and taking it like she had always done in the past. She was a powerful goddess and yet she was constantly underestimated because of her empathy. All the other Gods thought they could just roll right over her. For a long time she just took it, but I liked watching her start to make decisions for herself and embrace her own power and vulnerability.

Okay, so writing about what I liked for this review is actually helping in my general enjoyment of the book. It was a struggle for me to read this. I compare to Uprooted because I read them both in the same month and I never got sucked into either book. I think it took me about 2 weeks to read through Circe in it’s entirety and I mostly had to force myself to pick it up because I struggled to stay engaged in it for any substantial period of time. I think books can be slow moving and still totally engaging, but Circe just wasn’t for me. I’ve never been a great lover of greek mythology because I have always thought the Gods are just all giant ridiculous babies, which Circe pretty much confirms, but it’s just not my favourite genre.

I mostly loved the ending of this book. I totally forgot that the synopsis talks about Circe getting caught up between her love for the Gods and the mortals and that this was ultimately where the story was going. There was such a change in Circe between the beginning and end of the novel and I appreciated and respected the decisions she made.

So mostly my problem was just with the pacing of the book. Reflecting now I’m actually feeling a lot better about this book, but I can’t pretend it wasn’t a struggle for me to read. I’m not quite sure how this could necessarily be different, I think I may have just struggled with how nebulous the plot was. I never had any idea where it was going or what the point of the story was. I mean there could be a lesson there in that the monotony of immortality is what makes the gods the way they are, but I just wanted more. The only place I felt the plot could be going was with Circe eventually getting off the island, but she mostly seemed content with her lot and made what she could of her misfortunes, so I struggled to determine what was really driving the story. I think I will rate this as a 3.5 stars because I appreciated the themes and development, but it wasn’t really an enjoyable reading experience for me, and that matters to me too.