Books BookTube Made Me Read – Ep. 2

BookTube Made Me Read It - myth retelling, mystery thriller, psychological literary fiction, covers of Circe by Madeline Miller, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, and Almost Love by Louise O'Neill

Here is another set of three books BookTube made me read (see part one). This time I will be discussing three genres I don’t normally read. I have really enjoyed two of these, both of which I highly recommend, and I have potentially discovered some favorite authors.

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller – myth retelling
  2. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – mystery thriller
  3. Almost Love by Louise O’Neill – psychological literary fiction

Circe by Madeline Miller

I don’t think I ever read a myth retelling before I picked Circe up. I have seen my share of TV series (i.e. Xena and Hercules) and movies (i.e. Clash of the Titans, Percy Jackson, and the Olympians, Troy, and Thor) back in the days which gave me a basic knowledge of mythology but I never picked up a book about the subject.

This book was so hyped that I was reluctant to pick it up but I am glad I did as it became one of my favorite books of 2018. I have listened to it on my library OverDrive app and I am happy I did. The narrator did an amazing job. Madeline Miller pulled me into Circe’s world from the first sentence and kept me hooked to the end.

I did not know much about Circe as a mythological figure going in thus I don’t know how one with knowledge of her life would feel about the book, but considering the hype, I believe it is worth the read even with previous knowledge of Circe.

Circe is the daughter of Helios, a Titan and the god of the Sun, and Perse, a beautiful nymph. Circe’s family shuts her out completely because she is neither powerful like her father nor beautiful like her mother. She discovers that she possesses the power of witchcraft, a power unknown before to the gods. Through these powers, she becomes a powerful witch feared by both humans and immortals. Zeus feels threatened by her powers and banishes her to a deserted island, Aeaea.

Throughout her life on that island, we see her meet powerful and important mythological figures, like the Minotaur, Daedalus, Icarus, Medea, and Odysseus.

Circe’s family is abusive. In her world one’s worth is measured through the power one yields, or the beauty one possesses.  What can she so, if she lacks beauty and has no power?

She is a powerful woman, alone and perfecting her craft against all who stand against her. I love her character. She has strength. She is independent. And she does not rely on men to be happy. She fights for everything she has in life. Nothing comes to her on a silver platter, despite her family ties.

This is a slow-paced, character-driven story written in first-person. I felt captivated by her voice and her story and I strongly recommend it.

I will definitely pick up Madeline Miller’s other myth retelling, The Song of Achilles, and any other book she will write in the future.

The Seven (½) Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Reading the premise was all it took for me to want to pick this book up despite the fact that I don’t read murder mysteries.

‘The Rules of Blackheath

Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m.

There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit.
We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer.

Understood?

Then let’s begin…

***
Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…’

The main character, Aiden, will relive the same day eight times, each day in a different body and will try to solve a murder. If you’re into this genre you will love it! There’s a multitude of characters, a unique gothic setting, a touch of supernatural elements, a disturbing atmosphere, Agatha Christie type of setting, and many small details which will keep you guessing and turning the pages.

An interesting take on the classic ‘who-done-it’. A unique book, encompassing an array of different genres, crime, mystery, sci-fi, adventure, thriller and detective novel.

I am not a fan of these types of books but I wanted to see what the hype is about. It doesn’t mean that I did not appreciate it. There was just so much happening. There were so many characters, plot twists, and details. Ultimately, I couldn’t connect to any of the characters so my enjoyment of the book was not as high as expected.

The ending perplexed me, I definitely did not see it coming and compared to the book it seemed too fantastical. Somehow it did not match with the rest of the book.

Overall, this was not a book for me. I am not sure I will ever warm to this genre but if you are, you should read it.

Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

“I should have turned him down the first time he asked me out.
I should have kept things professional.
I should have refused to give him my number.
I should have waited longer before texting him back.
I should never have gone to meet him in that hotel.
I should have insisted that he take me for dinner first.
I should have waited until the third date to have sex with him.
I should have been more reluctant.
I should have sent shorter texts.
I should have made him chase me.
I should have been more honest.
I should have been less honest.
I should have been more like Florence.
I should have dyed my hair blonde.
I should have waited for him to text first.
I should have been less needy.
I should have been better.”

Sarah is 24 years old. She gets involved with 20 years older, rich and famous Matthew and rich. Sarah wants a normal relationship but Matthew wants to keep things casual. Matthew wants to have fun. So they meet occasionally in a dingy hotel room to have sex.

Why:

  • does Sarah become obsessed I don’t know?
  • is she so consumed by this relationship I don’t understand?
  • Sarah falls for this asshole, I have no idea. Is this even love? It is almost love!

Sarah must have has problems!

Sarah is not perfect. Actually, she is a complete mess. Is she a mess because of Matthew? It’s a bit unclear, but he definitely adds to her messiness. I don’t like Sarah and that’s OK, she’s not meant to be liked.

The narrative oscillates between then and now. ‘Then’ is when Sarah and Matthey were a thing (in her head) and ‘now’ is some years later when her life is falling apart because she’s still hung up on Matthew.

Almost Love is a raw and frustrating read. I did not like being in Sarah’s head. She made all the wrong choices, was blind to all the great possibilities life kept throwing her way and ignored everyone who loved her.

Almost Love is not a romance novel. Almost Love is a book about obsession, about unrequited love, about self-destruction, about the wrong choices, and many other things.

I could preach from now until forever about how stupid Sarah was but I’m not going to. Sarah is simply human, like all of us, and we all make mistakes. She is an unlikeable character but we can all relate to her to some degree, which makes her a great character.

I don’t want to walk a minute in Sarah’s shoes but I am happy I read this book and maybe I should read more books about unlikeable female characters. I just don’t know any. Thank God for Google!

Read this book! I will pick up Louise O’Neill’s other books, but I don’t know why if all of them are so gut-wrenching.

It’s funny how ‘books BookTube made me read’ has become a thing, but I suppose as an avid reader and BookTube junkie it is unavoidable. I like to check out my Goodreads read list every once in a while and funny enough I always find books I normally wouldn’t have picked up if not for BookTube.

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