Winter reads wrap up

A part of me feels like I’m going to miss winter a little (just a little). I finally seemed to embrace its slowness and found myself curled up with a book more often than not.

I enjoyed wonderful new (to me) authors, a highly-anticipated book from one of my all-time favorite authors, and I even sated an odd desire to reread the Twilight series. I also found myself seeking out the world of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy – which is turning into a yearly winter ritual. I’d love to know if you found your nose stuck in any of these, too, and what you thought!

Circe by Madeline Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’m always nervous when a book is really hyped online. This made me hold out on this book much longer than I normally would have (I mean, look at that beautiful cover). However, Miller’s retelling of Homer’s Classics immediately drew me in. Not only did I find the emotion and power she brought to Circe’s character (finally a strong female voice in a mythological tale) profoundly inspiring, but the depth of her writing in general was breathtaking. I don’t want to say more, because I can only hope you enjoy this story as much as I did.

Recommended if: you love a good Classical retelling, powerful female perspectives, or have a thing for beautifully arranged words.

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I feel like I need to preface by saying that I didn’t particularly like Burton’s The Miniaturist. Which means I probably kept coming back to this book because of the intriguing cover and title. I’m glad that I did! I loved the characters in this book and appreciated the underlying “musings” of an artist’s life. There were moments when things felt a little overstretched or slow, but I’m a much bigger fan of this novel than her first.

Recommended if: you love books that ponder themes of creating/art or enjoy a good historical fiction/mystery similar to the themes of Kate Morton’s novels (which I’ve reviewed before here).

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book quickly moved to the top of my reading pile after reading Circe. While I didn’t fall in love with this book quite like I did with Circe, I do enjoy when authors take on little-known characters in classic tales and breathe new life into them. This is exactly what Miller did with Patroclus. I love that we see Achilles’ story through his eyes, in turn making Achilles’ story more relate-able and less god-like. The ending was worth the whole of the book for me as I have a soft spot for meaningful albeit messy ends. Her writing continues to blow me away.

Recommended if: you loved Circe or retellings that refresh your favorite tales.

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was enchanted by The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. In fact, I was so enthralled when I first sat down with the book, I ended up rearranged all my plans for that day. To say I was hooked would be an understatement. Thankfully, it happened to be a Saturday! Which meant I had high hopes for this, Morgenstern’s latest novel.

I fell in love with A Starless Sea in a completely different way. The story is organized in a way unlike anything I’ve ever read and can be a little confusing at first (which may not be for everyone). For me, it felt vaguely of Alice in Wonderland, as though you were supposed to be a little lost in the weave of the storytelling. However, it seems that this is one of those books that you either love or you hate. At least, that’s what I discovered once I had finished it and began reading other reviews.

My experience felt like a sort of honeyed, fairytale tonic. It wasn’t meant for a one-sit escape (in my opinion). It felt like something people would read from each night, perhaps by the glow of the fire, and go to bed with the most magical dreams. Morgernstern has said that while The Night Circus symbolizes autumn, A Starless Sea represents winter. Perhaps that’s what made it a perfect read for winter. Her writing is just as beautiful as before, and the concept of this entire novel is like an ode to stories and their power. I could go on forever, but will end my rant here.

Recommended if: you love reading stories about stories or you’re not worried about falling down the rabbit hole.

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen Trilogy by Pamela Aiden

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

A few winters ago, I reread all of Jane Austen’s novels. Now it’s become a traditional winter mood to visit her works, but I was sad to have finished them all and found myself wishing for more. Enter Pamela Aiden’s trilogy: a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, but through the perspective of the mysterious and moody, Mr. Darcy. I felt like she did justice to all the characters and a great job of uncovering the aura that is Fitzwilliam Darcy. She loyally stuck to Austen’s storyline, only deviating in the long absences that are passed over in the Austen novel. However, she did take some liberties that I don’t think I would have – adding some heightened intrigue I’m not so sure Darcy would’ve really gotten caught up in. However, it kept this iconic love story going, which is exactly what I was after.

Recommended if: you love Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice, or a good regency-era love story.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book has been on my to-read list for YEARS. I first found out about Lawson when reading Mason’s college alumni pamphlet they’d send in the mail. She graduated from the same school, and as I attended ASU as an English major for 3 years, I was immediately intrigued by this blogger turned NYT bestseller. I wish it hadn’t taken so long to read, because it was just the kind of humor I’ve needed lately. Lawson is laugh-out-loud funny in the most self-deprecating, authentic way. The whole time I was reading it, Mason kept asking what was so funny and many antidotes were read aloud. I’m now a fellow Bloggess fan and truly grateful she’s out there, still telling her stories on her blog. This memoir was a much-needed break from and a reminder that these hard moments will pass, too, with some silliness and lots of laughter looking back. ❤️

Recommended if: you need a good belly laugh, are Texan, or enjoy comedic relief to life’s woes.

Happy reading, friends.

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