Reading Lately: May 2020
So many mediocre books this month - I just couldn't find my literary stride. I think I went in thinking I needed some light, rom-com reading, and realized that to distract from reality required meatier reading. Live and learn.
The Song of Achilles: 5/5
This book was glorious - mostly for the steaming gay romance, but also for the epic story and gorgeous prose. I had the pleasure of listening to the audiobook version narrated by Frazer Douglas, whose voice is so deep and dusky it could be a canyon (and the accent! Wowza). This "spinoff" of The Iliad will be a special treat if you're into Greek history but is just as compelling if you're not. I only knew the barest outlines of Achilles' story going in and didn't get lost or bored at all. The book is narrated by - and largely about - Achilles lover Patroclus, who is a deeply rich and interesting character. Patroclus' own history is much less widely known than Achilles, so the story is new and interesting while still set in the familiar Trojan War and traditional Greek mythology. The combination is both personal and historic, tragic and heroic, and brings a new (to most) perspective to one of the most told stories of all time. I can't recommend it enough!
RIYL: Brokeback Mountain (the book), watching American Ninja Warrior just to watch hot people be athletic, sword fighting
These Witches Don't Burn: 4/5
This was everything I wanted We Ride Upon Sticks to be: a group of high school witches who save their small town! I loved the complex female friendships, the endearing and fiery characters, and the mystery at the center of the book made it hard to put down. If you, like me, are looking for some light witchcraft in your life 🔮 I highly recommend.
RIYL: Tarot, Josie and the Pussycats, collecting cool rocks
Ollie was such a sweetheart! I loved getting to live in the world of this book for a few days. Ollie's life is hardly easy - his crush is still closeted, his aunt is dying, he's forced to attend a new school for senior year to be close to said aunt. But Ollie immediately connects with some wonderful friends at his new school that most would call 'quirky' but I would call 'cool', and the whole book has a brightly-colored quality to it. This was also one of the books where the characters were great, but the plot was also fantastic (something I don't usually say). The conflicts weren't contrived but were human and realistic, and the plot was well-paced and led to great character growth. Definitely one of the best YA books I read this year.
RIYL: Glee, An Absolutely Remarkable Thing, wearing different socks on each foot
Writers and Lovers: 3/5
What am I missing? This book is so acclaimed, beloved by the masses, and yet I found it boring and unmoving. It's like a worse version of Stephanie Danler's Sweetbitter. The prose is just fine, the main character is a bit immature, and the love triangle is eye-roll-worthy. Overall the book is fine in my opinion, but I wish I could see what made it "One of the best books of the year" for so many other reviewers.
This was a darling but forgettable YA romance, with cute but relatively untroubled characters and a fun plot. Chloe wants to be a ballerina, but her mom forbids her from auditioning. So Chloe goes on a road trip while her mom is away, but her neighbor Eli and his Schnauzer Geezer insist on coming along. Hijinks ensue! This will definitely not make you want to be a ballerina, but it will make you want to take a road trip.
The Wedding Party: 3/5
I usually love Guillory's sassy characters and smart pairings, but these two just didn't do it for me. That hate-to-love trope is one I sure do love to hate.
Benjamin Alire Sáenz
I honestly feel like something might be wrong with me for not liking this book. Maybe this shows my callousness, but I just could not sympathize with Aristotle and Dante's disillusionment and angst. Their philosophical musings felt both immature and unrealistic for teenagers, and their dialogue felt very forced. I wanted so much to like this book, but ultimately it fell flat for me.
Bland characters who make the dumbest assumptions about each other, and are painfully heteronormative and tropey. The miscommunications are meant to move the plot along but are impossible to sympathize with, making them more annoying than compelling. I gave up about halfway through.