Book Tag

Mid-Year Freak Out!

For those of you who don’t know, which included me too until this week, there is a popular book tag out there that’s a bit of a tradition in the bookish community, The Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag! This year, I’m participating, and to be honest I cannot believe half the year is already over! So many books, so little time…

I stole my questions this year from The Literary Phoenix. I loved reading her post and love her blog! Check her out.

And check out these questions! Let’s goooooo:

What is the best book that you’ve read so far in 2019?

Ohh boy. This was a tough one. I chose three.

  1. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
  2. Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
  3. The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon

What has been your favorite sequel of the first half of the year?

Gemina & Obsidio by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff. I can’t believe it took me this long to discover The Illuminae Files! WOW this series was amazing. It’s YA Sci-Fi, but I would honestly recommend it to anyone who likes Sci-Fi, or anyone who likes fast-paced novels that read like you’re actually in the book. I could rave about this series for a long time.

Is there a new release out that you haven’t read yet but you’re really excited for?

Yes! Aurora Rising by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff.

Haha on the note of my last answer, the same authors came out with a fourth book this year and I cannot wait to read it. It’s already been optioned for a movie and has stellar reviews. So excited.

What is your most anticipated release for the second half of the year?

See last week’s Top 10 Tuesday! There are so many!

What is your biggest disappointment so far?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare — I’m sorry! I wanted to like this so badly because the series is so beloved in the YA world. I might check out one of her other series or try the sequel, everyone swears it gets better, but I wanted to love this immediately! Sigh. It happens. I tried.

What is your biggest surprise so far?

Four Dead Queens by Astrid Scholte.

I loved this!! I expected it to be relatively similar to a lot of other YA fantasies out right now, but Four Dead Queens surpassed my expectations. It was original, it was fun to read, it had like a hundred twists at the end and I didn’t see most of them coming, I was so pleased. Would definitely recommend. Look for a review of this title soon.

Who is your favorite new or “new” author?

Robin Benway, who is new to me, has blown me away this year. I read both of her books in the same month and blew through them both. Far From the Tree is one of my favorites of the year.

Who is your favorite fictional crush from this year?

I don’t really have one I feel crazy strong about, so I decided to answer a slightly different question: Who is your favorite fictional SHIP from this year?

And that, my friends, would be Wylan van Eck and Jesper Fahey from Crooked Kingdom. I squealed through that entire scene!! So cute.

Which book has made you cry?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. This book made me feel…pretty much every human emotion, haha. I loved it so so much and it was so tragic and beautiful. I recommend this book to anyone, all the time, with all my heart. Just have tissues nearby. And maybe your therapist on call.

A book that made you happy?

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. I enjoyed her debut novel, Simon and the Homosapiens Agenda, but I LOVED Leah on the Offbeat. This book felt like parts of my teen years, the feel and the spirirt of it, and I loved Leah’s surly, insecure, whole-hearted self. She and Abby are one of my favorite couples of the year!!! OTP

Your favorite book to movie/tv adaptation that you’ve seen so far?

Can I choose anything other than Good Omens by Neil Gaiman??

I reread the book this year and since the adaptation came out this year I’m going to count it. This show might be the best adaptation I’ve ever seen, when it comes to accurately capturing the spirit of a wonderful book. I loved every bit of it! Can’t wait for more.

What is your favorite post that you’ve written this year?

I really enjoyed writing both the reviews for Baby Teeth and The Unhoneymooners! I also love Top Ten Tuesdays.

Show us the most beautiful book that you’ve bought this year!

I have spent a lot of energy and patience this year trying to buy fewer books and borrow more, so I don’t have a book for this! A lot of them have been gorgeous but then I return them to the library and they go brighten someone else’s day for a while.

What are six books that you want to read by the end of the year?

There are WAY more than six, but here are a few.

  1. King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo
  2. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe
  3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  4. Snow Falling by Jane G. Villanueva (haha any more Jane the Virgin fans out there?? I have to read this)
  5. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
  6. Educated by Tara Westover

Whew, that was in depth! That’s it for this year, and what a seriously fun year its been. And it’s been a month here at Story-eyed! I’m a little overwhelmed with how much I have to read right now, but more than anything I am so grateful for all of it.

Tag, you’re it next, @Jenniefromthebook! Have fun! ❤

Did you freak out this year? Send me your mid-year posts in the comments!


The Song of Achilles

“Name one hero who was happy.” said Achilles. “You can’t.

“I can’t.

“I know. They never let you be famous and happy.” He lifted an eyebrow. “I’ll tell you a secret.

“Tell me.” I loved it when he was like this.

“I’m going to be the first.” He took my palm and held it to his. “Swear it.

“Why me?

“Because you’re the reason. Swear it.

“I swear.

Set in Greece in the Age of Heroes, The Song of Achilles starts as a retelling of Homer’s The Iliad, and then transforms into something wholly new and unique.

When Patroclus, an insecure young prince from a neighboring court, is exiled, he arrives at the court of King Peleus and meets the King’s perfect son, Achilles. Achilles is everything the stories said he would be: strong, brilliant, and beloved. As their relationship deepens, Patroclus begins to see another side of Achilles too that the stories don’t sing of: his humor, his gentleness, his boyish charm.

But then sources bring news that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped. Achilles and his father’s armies are sent off to war and Patroclus, balancing between love and fear, goes with him. Neither of them realize that the next years in Troy will hold battles, victories, enemies, and brutal defeats, with an all too inevitable end.

A lot of us had to read the Iliad in school, and a lot of us struggled, let’s just be real.

For most of my life I’ve personally found Achilles to be a somewhat unsympathetic archetype: the strong, handsome, brave warrior who sits above everyone else because he is so great on the battlefield. For some reason this archetype never appealed to me: it’s too perfect. Like Superman, there was always something off-putting for me about such inherent perfection. Even the battle of Troy, fought over a woman, seemed ludicrous to me. And yet I never wondered if perhaps the characters in the story felt the same way. After reading The Song of Achilles, I will never be able to see its characters in the same way that I used to, and it is a beautiful, wonderful thing.

This book was so hyped by the time that I read it that I was worried it would hurt my opinion of it. It didn’t. The Song of Achilles was heartbreaking and powerful, violent and profound, and utterly, all-consumingly, inevitably tragic.

Seen through Patroclus’ eyes, and Miller’s writing, it’s impossible not to see the stark humanity in the characters that make up this story. Patroclus does us the favor of seeing the best in Achilles, and in seeing the parts of him that the stories he’s heard so often didn’t tell him about. Miller’s story traces their growing friendship and eventual romance through exile, angry goddesses and war, and the singular focus on their relationship through everything is the melody I can’t get out of my head. I wanted so badly for them to be happy.

The way she writes characters and relationships is to be commended. The old adage “show, don’t tell” is clearly something that Miller has mastered, and the results are something beautiful. The way she conveys feeling and especially the main characters’ relationship, without ever specifically naming them, makes the story feel visceral and personal, like it comes from within instead of from the book front of you. I loved Achilles and Patroclus like they were alive, and I hated Thetis and Agamemnon as if they had personally wronged me. There’s something alive and tangible about every character, every place, every wound, and every heartbreak.

Madeline Miller does something spectacular in The Song of Achilles, which is to honor the original story while also adding layers and layers of meaning and emotion. Miller is exceptional at creatively filling in the blanks with pieces of story that feel like they were always meant to be there. Her writing is elegant and simple, calling back to a way of writing that almost sounds like a song or a fairytale. Her words a new light on an old story, making it seem fresh and heartbreaking anew.

“We were like gods, at the dawning of the world, and our joy was so bright we could see nothing else but the other.”