Circe – Madeline Miller

Rating: 4.5/5

A little late in reviewing, but this was one of my favorite reads last year! I’m a sucker for any kind of mythology so I had a feeling I would already like this, but it turned out even better than expected. Miller is so damn good at weaving together her story that I couldn’t put it down (I tore through it in 2 days!), and even though Circe wasn’t much of a character to me at first, I was thoroughly cheering for her by the end.

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Three Women – Lisa Taddeo

A riveting true story about the sex lives of three real American women, based on nearly a decade of reporting.

Rating: 1.5/5

Given all the hype this book got on Bookstagram, I thought it was going to be way better! But Bookstagram recs definitely been tossups for me, and it looks like this was another one of the disappointments. It wasn’t terrible, per se…just very underwhelming. I feel guilty for saying this, but the first thought I had after finishing was, “A decade of reporting and investigating for this?”

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There There – Tommy Orange

Rating: 4/5

What an insanely powerful book. When we think of Native Americans, we tend to think of 19th-century Cherokees on horseback and shooting arrows at bison, or perhaps something vague about moccasins and canoes and totem poles, maybe with colorful, feathered headdresses thrown in – all hopelessly dated stereotypes. Orange wrote this book to address this exact issue after noticing there’s next to nothing about modern-day Native American life in art/literature/general culture, and wanted to share what their lives really look like while putting it in the context of a novel. And the result is just devastating.

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Assassin’s Apprentice – Robin Hobb

Rating: 2.5/5

I was itching for a classic fantasy read so it only seemed natural to pick up one of the most classic books in the genre – Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. She gets a lot of love on /r/books so I figured it was as good a choice as any, but it turned out to be just meh for me.

What I liked:

  • Interesting world potential

What I didn’t like (and oh how much there is):

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China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan

Rating: 3/5

I liked this sequel, but sadly it wasn’t as good as the first one (then again, how often IS a sequel as good as the original??). This book is just all over the place, introducing tons of new people, places, designer names, family ties, etc. I couldn’t keep track of them all and after a while just rolled with it and enjoyed the story lol. I was surprised by how little the plot centers on Rachel and Nick – instead of being the main focus, their story is just one of several throughout the book. Absolute favorite chapter was the notes Corinna sent Kitty about how to look and act more high-class 😂

Something that REALLY annoys me about both books though is how there’s always 1-2 women who turn into shrieking bitches over some dumb plot point about social status/prestige/reputation. In Crazy Rich Asians it was Eleanor, and in this book it’s Mrs. Bao and Colette. It’s sooo not a look and I hate this stereotype that Chinese women can just go off at any time. Why is it never one of the men, who are invariably all calm and collected?!

One Day in December – Josie Silver

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Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

Rating: 3/5

I really wanted to like this more! I’ve been seeing it pop up a lot on Bookstagram and I wanted a light, cute read, so this was seemingly the perfect choice for a chilly winter weekend. The book goes by quick, and while the concept still is really cute to me, the characters and constant POV flip-flopping could’ve been better.

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Asymmetry – Lisa Halliday

Rating: 3/5

The NY Times listed this as one of their top 10 books of 2018 so I was immediately intrigued, but it turns out it didn’t do much for me.

The book is split into two stories that seem completely unrelated, but the connection is revealed by the end. Alice and Ezra inhabit the first half, and if I resort to cliches, their relationship is “flawed but beautiful in its own way”. Ezra is a famous writer (unsubtly modeled after Philip Roth, whom Halliday had a relationship with when she was younger) and much older than she is (think 65 to her 25), and while I loved seeing their interactions, it also struck a little too close to home because Alice is around my age and Ezra is around my roommate’s age – and not only that, but our personalities are also similar to these characters’. Even if we’re good friends, it’s just too weird imagining my roommate and I in a relationship 🙅🏻‍♀️🙅🏻‍♀️

The second half focuses on Amar, who’s the opposite of Alice – he’s brimming with words and thoughts and opinions, and it’s really interesting seeing these two narrators side by side. Despite the lovely writing though, I didn’t feel particularly drawn to any of the characters, and actually got kind of bored partway through.

P.S. I love the cover though; it reminds me of this painting by Leo Chun.

Educated – Tara Westover

Rating: 4/5

It’s impossible to love a book as filled with trauma, abuse, and violence as this one is, but nonetheless it was absolutely riveting. My jaw hit the floor over and over again as Westover kept revealing the next crazy scheme her father roped the family into, and I’m still coming to terms with the knowledge that there are still people out there who believe so strongly in fundamentalist survivalism that they refuse to go to hospitals and visit doctors, bury thousands of gallons of gasoline and other “supplies” underground for when the rapture comes, and think the government is out to get them at all costs, among other things. I mean, if you just faced a large, fiery explosion head-on and are suffering third-degree burns across your body and your face is literally melting off, go to the hospital! Don’t just wait for God and essential oils to work their magic on you!

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