The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care: from A to Z by Anna Borges

Pages: 240

Genre: nonfiction; self-help, mental health

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

This book is written as a A to Z list of going through definitions connected to self-care and what they mean to the author.

This format has both good and bad sides; it makes the reading experience a good mix of lighter and more serious subjects, as well as more practical tips and more abstract thoughts concerning the definition and how we think of it. Because I already know and love Anna Borges writing and she does not shy away from talking honestly about mental health and suicidal thoughts. She also writes for online sites, prev. buzzfeed, and the book seems very influenced by that in how it is very much for right-now (with concrete tips like using meditation apps) and I don’t think the book will age that well necessarily. But it does help giving the tips something concrete actions behind them. It’s very much a product of the age of social media in general, but so is the word self-care, if not the concept behind it as is discussed. I think I both wanted and expected a bit more in-depth, but because of the good writing and more extensive thoughts behind each concept, it works even if it’s simple.

I would recommend this both as a starter book to the concept of self-care or one to pick up when you’re feeling low and need a reminder or inspiration, like I did. Overall it’s obvious the intention of the book is not to sell you something, but to ask you to take care of yourself and giving you some reminders around what could work for you.

Reminders I will take from it; Make a damn dentist appointment not because I yet have to, but because you should take care of your health out of self-respect. Take care of & grow my curiosity. Let yourself just be and think less of making a narrative or explanation out of the chaos that can be daily-life. Don’t let anyone fuck with you is self-care. Boundaries are important; time, values, mood, emotional well-being, comfort and safety all. Get a snake plant for better air quality. Create times for just being quiet, even if I’m not going to immediately want to meditate each day.

Self-care is the simple act of listening to my body and responding appropriately, even if it’s not the norm. It’s reminding myself that days off and times of rest are not a luxury, they are an absolute necessity.

The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care: from A to Z by Anna Borges

The Hidden Girl and Other Stories by Ken Liu | Book Review

Pages: 411

Genre: short stories, fantasy, sci-fi

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Four out of five stars overall.

I loved The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu which was the first I’d read of the author, which is kind of unusual as he’s most known for his long fantasy and sci-fi works like “The Dandelion Dynasty”.

The real pearl of this collection for me was “Byzantine Empathy”, which I will find myself rereading and thinking about for a while. It follows two different people, one working for humanitarian organization and one creating a VR experience where you can upload for example a scene of being in the middle of the most violent war. It’s idealism set up against pragmatism, led by really interesting morally gray characters. The choice of making the opposing sides understand each other, as previous college friends, yet not steering away from creating villains – it was just great. They do set up very interesting arguments, which is why I attached a page from the book below. The story showcases a power struggle both in politics and social media; it’s PR and image, people experiencing mass graves on their own body and looking into how human empathy could work both for and against a group of people trying to create change.

from the short story “Byzantine Empathy”

I found that in this collection, the short stories were very hit or miss for me; some I found immense insight and new thoughts and perspectives in, while others went straight past my head and left me wondering if I’d missed the point or if they were just unoriginal. And I guess that makes sense considering how this collection is more focused on the combination of the new digital age ahead of us as well as the asian (mainly chinese-inspired) cultural elements and perspective. You will have concepts that’s over-done. I’ve seen reviews bash the “easier” stories like the one of online bullying, but I disagree there because I think Liu more often than not writes the easier concepts really well, and in that way has something to add. “Thoughts and Prayers” is one of those, with the idea of uploading every single photo and clip of a loved one to the Internet, to create a virtual version of them (in this case to use as an example of the horrifying reality of mass shootings). It is a terrible idea in reality because of how human beings have shown to behave, no debate there. Drawing much inspiration from the real world, where american survivors of school shootings has spoken for gun control and been the subjects of massive harassment and conspiracy theories, it looks into how you can completely screw with the memories a human has of a dead loved one. Humans has real weaknesses in how much we can handle. And the story is not so far-fetched as deep-fakes are becoming a very real thing. Revenge fake porn sounds fucking awful.

The pessimism hit me like a wave half-way into the book. Like I truly didn’t see it coming as you think one short story stops with the questions unanswered, only for it to be a red thread taken up later in another one. And it didn’t always end that well, did it. For the collection overall, I loved this kind of composition. It’s enough of the same universe or storyline to be able to delve into deeper topics of artificial intellingence and VR and how humans can use technology in ways ranging from imperfect to directly devastating. I described it to a friend as “1001 clever shortcuts to dystopia ft. nostalgia”, which was what it was for a while. But it also gives space for the more out there one-off fantasy stories.

The mix of types of stories, mainly the fantasy among the sci-fi, can also be interpreted as making the collection not quite as put together as well. Messy, if you’d like. It could be that it should have stayed to the sci-fi side and discarded some fantasy stories. Best example of this is how I found the short story of “Hidden Girl” interesting, but flat and not very special. I don’t get why the book is called that. I liked the chinese mythology behind it, but it was one of the rarer cases where I would’ve liked a longer story to be able to fulfill the potential of the setup of the cast of characters. It surely feels like the beginning of an abandoned long-form project and not a short story like the others.

Favourite short stories; “The Gods Will Not be Chained”, but also the rest of that story with “The Gods Will Not Be Slain” and “The Gods Have Not Died In Vain”. It starts with a girl trying to find out the circumstances of her dad’s death and ends in AI war, where the artificial intelligence was created by people finding out the method of uploading their knowledge and consciousness and becoming like gods and a new type of human that is born and lives solely in the digital space. “Staying Behind” is similiar in that it goes into this digital space, this Singularity in which most people has chosen over the currently-real world, with enough originality to really draw me in. Then comes “Altogether Elsewhere, Vast Herds of Reindeer” going even deeper and further into the future, with a mother seeing her daughter a couple days over the course of her life as she travels in space and time. It’s obvious that there’s certain venues Liu has put a lot of time into researching and reflecting over, and those are the ones I think that really stand out and is worth reading this for.

Another excellent one was “Staying Behind”, which really made me think about religion for some reason and the idea that someone you love can lose credibility the moment they get indoctrinated into an ideology, where you never know if they’ve really found the one perfect and real thing or if they’ve lost themselves enough to be too far gone. It’s the idea behind people we love becoming monsters or zombies as well I guess, only with the additional uncertainty that they might be the ones in the right and not you.

“This wasn’t my mother speaking. The real Mom knew that what really mattered in life was the authenticity of this messy existence, the constant yearning for closeness to another despite imperfect understanding, the pain and suffering of our flesh. […] It is this world, the world we were meant to live in, that anchors us and demands our presence, not the imagined landscape of a computed illusion. This was a simulacrum of her, a recording of propaganda, a temptation into nihilism.”

from “Staying Behind” by Ken Liu

Graphic Novels: dark fairytale, dystopian & fluffy gay romance | Short Reviews

I’m having a bit of a hard time reading as I’m busy with studying (2nd year physics student) as well as ill at the moment (no worries, thankfully not corona, I’ve been tested twice). So it’s the perfect time to again read as many graphic novels that I could get my hands on! Here’s some of my other graphic novels reviews.

Through the Woods by Emily Carrol

As I begun reading I was sceptical because the illustrations were breath-taking from the start, giving all the dark fairytale vibes, but I didn’t know how much of a substance the plots would have. A few pages in it truly got much better, as the fairytale twists got mysterious, exciting and dark. It’s made up from several different “short stories”, some more red riding hood inspired and some that reminded me some of Coraline and some of the podcast The Magnus Archive. Reading this felt like playing a game where you know every decision is a bad one. I also immediately ordered the author’s other graphic novel «When I arrived at the castle»! 5/5 stars.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1

Plus points for being dark, but that’s the only positive in my eyes. I was excited for this as I truly liked the new TV series made from Sabrina the teenage witch. But this graphic novel drains any personality Sabrina is known for out of the character. I get that setting up somewhat the same plot as the TV series does in multiple episodes is difficult in one volume, but it just isn’t done with any charm at all. I won’t be reading the rest of the series as I felt it has little potential. 2/5 stars.

Paper Girls vol. 1 & 2

First impression of volume 1 was that I liked the retro apocalyptic stranger things vibe featuring a teen girl squad. It didn’t really get further into the plot or explanation than unexplained aliens, but it was also a lot to set up. It’s about a group of girls out delivering newspapers when they get caught up in this mystery of disappearing people and frightening strangers hunting after them. 3/5 stars.

Volume 2 had a higher chance of keeping the suspense up without as much of the confusion, which made the time-travel, sci-fi aspects much more enjoyable as well as delving into an interesting cast. Not to forget how monster tardigrades was a thing I didn’t know I needed in my life before now. I yelped out loud from surprise and happiness – I can’t explain it either. It’s just a good mix of chaos & the unexpected. Like the looming, flying ships that came into the picture suddenly. The color scheme is also truly lovely.

If I would criticize something it’s the ‘feminism’ branding push that seems a bit ‘off’, not that I’ve looked further into reasons behind it. It’s a similar feeling that lingers as from the casual homophobia that makes an appearance in volume 1, as if that was something that just belongs with the retro vibes. It was called out by other characters, so I just mentally noted it down as strange for now and makes me second-guess the future dynamic of the friendgroup somewhat. 4/5 stars.

Heartstopper vol. 2 & 3 by Alice Oseman

Review of vol. 1! To sum up I really like the author’s writing in general and that it was a truly cute, important gay coming of age story. And I love the illustration style. And this is true for the second and third volume as well. My only critique is a somewhat big one; a lot doesn’t happen in each volume. It feels like the story told could’ve been cut down in some ways, but at the same time I realize it’s aimed at a younger audience for the most part and I’m so happy it just exists. 3/5 stars for both.

Running with Lions by Julian Winters | Book Review #PrideLibrary20

I’m joining in on some of the #pridelibrary20 prompts, hosted by The Library Looter, Michelle Likes Things and Anniek’s Library throughout June. Here’s a link to a summary of my posts from last year.

Today’s prompt is black queer authors. Btw I missed yesterdays post with transgender or nonbinary characters, but I think I will make a post later in the summer instead, because there’s so many trans/nonbinary mc books on my TBR that I want to get to.

Synopsis

Bloomington High School Lions’ star goalie, Sebastian Hughes, should be excited about his senior year: His teammates are amazing and he’s got a coach who doesn’t ask anyone to hide their sexuality. But when his estranged childhood best friend Emir Shah shows up to summer training camp, Sebastian realizes the team’s success may end up in the hands of the one guy who hates him. Determined to reconnect with Emir for the sake of the Lions, he sets out to regain Emir’s trust. But to Sebastian’s surprise, sweaty days on the pitch, wandering the town’s streets, and bonding on the weekends sparks more than just friendship between them. 

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: four stars

The bisexual guy main character, the team sport aspect (and often not very queer-friendly to put it lightly) that is soccer, but with several queer characters along with the dynamic writing and wholesome vibe – it all is brought together in this great book. Sometimes these books might get boring, but not when executed in this way. It reminds people of what could be and what should be, especially in very masculine sports.

It’s a diverse cast of characters in multiple ways, like the romantic interest Emir being a British-Pakistani muslim, but they have one thing in common besides sports and that’s being a cast of disasters. I mean, I related too much to the main character as being the disaster bisexual of the group. I think the best way to describe this book is very emotional, but with a undertone of fun? And the fun comes from the high and lows of the game, of the intensity of discovering yourself, but mostly about doing it all surrounded by friends and rivals. It’s also chasing victories and perfection and falling apart and having to pull each other back together again. And not to mention, being brave enough to tell people you love them, regardless of their gender.

Sebastian’s ready for whatever Emir’s got. He is so exhausted, trying to fix busted-up relation- ships while other friendships circle the drain. He’s tired of trying to be this amazing version of a guy that everyone else sees but Sebastian can’t find when he stares in the mirror. If Emir punches him, he’ll knock Sebastian off this damn pedestal he never asked to be on in the first place.

Julian Winter ends with these words in the acknowledgment and it backs up his intentions with this book clearly; “To every LGBTQIA+ person who has questioned their place in life: You’re strong. You’re important. You’re a lion. Let the world hear you roar.” I’m excited to read his other books “How to Be Remy Cameron” and “The Summer of Everything” (to be released this fall) as well!

Introverts Graphic Novels | Short Reviews

Are you in a reading rut? Bored in quarantine? Need memes to send to your friends about being bored in quarantine? Maybe even something to send to friends as a nudge towards staring into the darkness of depression, but not in a way that’s too concerning, but maybe they’ll check up on you more? Okay, that last one was too specific, and most likely the best thing is to just be honest with friends and all that, but it might have been what this post was born from. Anyway! Here’s some good graphic novels aimed at introverted people and perfect now that we all were forced to be more introverted during quarantine.

Emotions Explained with Buff Dudes by Andrew Tsyaston

I know this comic writer as Shen Comix on instagram, where you get a sneak-peak of what types of comics this whole collection is about. But it was my favourite of these ones for many reasons, it was both very cute illustration style, most relatable to me and it had worked well as a collection, without having the different comics be to similiar!

I’ll give it 5/5 stars. Definitely something I will pick up again and again when I need a pick-me-up. Funny comics explaining the weird happenings in life. “Life be like dat” in graphic novel form, if that makes sense.

Quiet Girl in a Noisy World by Debbie Tung

I like and relate to this girl’s introverted ft. bookworms story, with an interesting illustration style. I’m not that big of a fan of something leaning so heavily into being ‘introverted’ to the point where it seems less of a personality and more of an anxiety thing, but I’m not going to get into a discussion on that. It doesn’t really stand out among these others, except by trying a bit too hard to be relatable in every aspect. 3/5 stars.

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

This is also a comic series that has lived on the internet as long as I can recall, without me realizing that it’s one person behind this style. Here’s the blog it was born from! It’s just so smartly written, and matched my humor great. It doesn’t shy away from the memoir/darker aspects dealing with depression especially, without overpowering the humor or taking away from anything, a balance which I really respect. The drawing style makes it feel like anyone could do this, but it takes real talent and craft to be this good. 5/5 stars.

There Is No Right Way to Meditate by Yumi Sakugawa

It’s not life-changing or very profound or even very helpful. But it is interesting to look at, a reminder and cute. Maybe being a reminder of what meditation can do for you is enough for me to deem this graphic novel practical in these times with its short colorful guides of genuine tips to practice peace among other such lists. Favourite parts were illustrations of anxiety as a rock, just laying on you. 4/5 stars.

Honorable mentions

Other graphic novels that I’ve read that is similiar to these ones are “I think I am in friend love with you” also by Yumi Sakugawa, and Sarah’s Scribbles vol. 1, 2 & 3. All of my reviews on them are linked. I almost forgot the amazing “everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too” by Jonny Sun!

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my tumblr & twitter

Also I’m doing mentally good for the first week in about two months. It’s a relief. Hope you are all safe!

Bad bad-boy romance & good queer fantasy | Short Reviews

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

It’s a young adult fantasy about an orphan Nirrim that has magical abilities (takes a while to realize), something that belongs to the upper classes in the society she lives in. Going through constant discrimination and trying to help those around her makes it important for her to keep her head down. But it also keeps her from developing or learning about the world around her, making it easy to be taken advantage of. Her fierce spirit lands her in prison, where she meets a stranger that transforms her life, and also starts a slow-burn of a queer romance. It’s a very character-driven novel and I really enjoyed it, while it was far from perfect. The magic system reminded me of a much less complex version of Warbreaker by Sanderson. A dubious 4/5 stars, for the f/f romance.

Vicious by L. J. Shen

You ever just pick up a book because it promises enemies to lovers romance and that’s what you’re craving. But while the writing isn’t bad, the dialogue is so cringy and you hope it gets better, but it doesn’t, but you’re too far in to quit, but it never ever gets better. Yeah, this is one of those types of books. I regretted even picking it up. It just has every element of a “rich bad boy poor good girl” thing, but never puts them together in a fresh or interesting way. The murders from the backstory that are never discussed much was the most interesting part, huh. I still give it 2/5 stars, for the good parts in between. I did like Emilia and her sister. The romance is not worth it, neither is the cringe. It’s almost my fault for starting to read it, almost.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Far far back I wrote a five star predictions post. It’s a lot of fun until you have one book left that you never get to reading. This was that book and I bought it, I tried to read it once. Gave up because I wasn’t in the mood. Tried to give it a real try the second time, but the writing just didn’t click with me, and that’s the one thing that makes it nearly impossible for me to care about a book. There was nothing luring me in. So I’m considering this a DNF, even though it has such good ratings and I can remember nothing from it already.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath | Book Review

Genre: classics, feminism

Pages: 230

Synopsis

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther’s life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women’s aspirations seriously.


The Bell Jar
, Sylvia Plath’s only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria Lucas. The novel is partially based on Plath’s own life and has become a modern classic. The Bell Jar has been celebrated for its darkly funny and a razor sharp portrait of 1950s society and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five: four stars

I definitely get why this is a classic. I get how important it is as a semi-authobiographical story about being a woman in 1950s New York. Especially as she deals with being hospitalized for mental illness, with depression and suicidal thoughts. It’s a fantastic insight into Sylvia’s point of view. I also get why when white feminism is brought up, Sylvia Plath readers are an often used example, as there’s quite the 1950s white college woman’s racist views and not seeing longer than her own situation in here as well.

Reading it with modern eyes, I didn’t like the first half of the story. It was quite boring, seeing her trying to fit into this New York society, or how she didn’t fit in. But I realized the importance later on, it shows how her depression took hold of her. It’s a major contrast between the person she used to be, or could become, up against who she was while institutionalized. The whole book is a fascinating look into a particular situation, especially as the main character (and Sylvia) is so perceptive.

I would recommend it, but you’ve got to continue reading until the hospitalization happens to get something out of it. I’m glad I read it at this point in my life and not earlier. It required a certain patience, maybe not for the writing which flows great, but for the point of view and voice it’s written with. There’s these debates about whether to read Sylvia Plath’s work with her life in mind always or to not, but it’s not possible for me to read this without seeing it as semi-authobiographical. u also got to remember you’re reading the work of a deeply conflicted person who is going to have a more flawed perception than the average. As someone who deals with mental issues, even then I can’t understand the complete situation Sylvia Plath was in. She’s got brilliance in describing certain things and feelings, but you also got to remember you’re reading the work of a deeply conflicted person who is going to have a more flawed perception than the average. I think I disagree more about how this book is used as a classic than anything else.

Feelings while reading this book: I did cry at points. Mental health treatment was as terrifying as I expected in the 1950s. I really hated Bobby from the moment he was introduced. Worried about how relatable a Sylvia Plath novel was to me.

Favourite moment:

“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”

Bipolar books; When We Collided, An Unquiet Mind | Book Review

This is basically me doing two reviews in one, with an intro.

Do you every just realize that you don’t know enough about a group of people’s situation? That’s me after bipolar disorder is a thing that has popped up with a question mark among multiple friends more recently. It makes sense; there’s a lot that will show first signs of bipolar in their early twenties, I’ve started at university where people are under a lot of stress, people are separated from their families and more open because they need support. There’s a whole list of causes.

Read a webmd page on what bipolar is on your own, I’m not going to oversimplify it and then obviously get it wrong. I think An Unquiet Mind’s description of it and constantly using manic-depressive instead makes more sense for people unfamiliar, if not for the actual researchers.

I think I knew more about bipolar than most going into this tiny project, but that’s just because the bar is low. I love this podcast especially by sickboy, called My little blue devil and I where a girl Siobhan talks very openly and with humor about her experiences living with bipolar type 2.

As someone who has other illnesses; what I think is most important to keep in mind is that if you’re reading an account of one person’s experience, that’s that one single person. It might give you better insight into what they’re dealing with, but you can’t apply that to everyone else in that category, which makes sense logically, but people seem to completely forget it when it comes to physical and mental illnesses.

When We Collided by Emery Lord

This is a contemporary young adult with a bit of romance. It has such great characters who form a big chosen family type of bond (though many are siblings so … actual family) with their different problems. The main character Vivi is new in town & has bipolar disorder and is definitely the best written of them. It brings all the summer feelings of a romance, along with all the messiness of someone not stable, but naturally so extroverted and fierce that at the beginning it’s hard to tell for those she interacts with. I’m so mad about reviews that call her a manic pixie dream girl because 1) didn’t someone write a long article about never using that description again and we all agreed and 2) she’s literally manic and you can obviously see the switch. Is there anything I’ve learned in the past couple months it’s that a symptom of manic state is that people don’t have the same risk calculation ability.

4/5 stars. I didn’t enjoy every part as I read it, but it’s stuck in my head, especially Vivi, for a month now.

An Unquiet Mind by Kay. R. Jamison

Trigger warning for suicidal and suicide attempt.

This is a memoir from someone who knows what she’s talking about, having bipolar in her family, struggling with it through her university days, eventually researching bipolar disorder and then getting the diagnosis.

I decided early in graduate school that I needed to do something about my moods. It quickly came down to a choice between seeing a psychiatrist or buying a horse. Since almost everyone I knew was seeing a psychiatrist, and since I had an absolute belief that I should be able to handle my own problems, I naturally bought a horse.

That quote sounds about right. Reminds me a lot of;

Anyway, she eventually sells the horse and gets a psychiatrist and Lithium basically saves her life, as she describes it. Along with the amazing descriptions of living with bipolar, the part where she questions her intentions and her career really got to me. She’s got to face the concept that her disorder might make her a bad psychologist, then she goes through all the reasons why that’s wrong. And the checks she has in place if she were to go suddenly into mania (though unlikely). She instead uses that drive and passion to be a better researcher on her own disorder, which was really inspiring.

But I compare myself with my former self, not with others. Not only that, I tend to compare my current self with the best I have been, which is when I have been mildly manic. When I am my present “normal” self, I am far removed from when I have been my liveliest, most productive, most intense, most outgoing and effervescent. In short, for myself, I am a hard act to follow.

They all seemed very related to one another at the time. Not only did they seem related, but they seemed together to contain some essential key to the grandiosely tizzied view of the universe that my mind was beginning to spin.

5/5 stars. It’s beautifully written, so honest and I’m honestly impressed about the courage to publish (in 1995) for someone who is very aware about the risks of having her career as a clinical psychologist questioned afterwards.

Circe by Madeline Miller | Book Review

Genre: Fantasy – greek mythology

Pages: 344

Synopsis

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe’s place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe’s independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

My thoughts

Rating out of five: four stars

I love me some stories of greek gods & godesses, especially when they’re as flawed and vengeful as can be. And our main character Circe certainly has her flaws as well, to the point where her insecurities becomes a huge part of her choices even after hundreds of years of getting to know oneself. It started to get a bit boring halfways through. And then Circe shifts and it all gets more badass and filled with action and again grief, without sacrificing the flowing descriptive writing, focusing on details and swiftly taking you through decades. I loved how she gets these pieces of information of the “human” history happening out in the world through Hermes to her exile on the island, and also how their interactions change.

There was a line of female empowerment going through this book, a sign of greek mythology stories done well. How Circe sees what has become of her sisters, how they’ve gathered their influence and power. Not to mention her way of feeling powerful constantly shifting through the book, as the decades pass and she grows into herself.

What I reflected on most reading this book was how Circe meets this constant choice of following the rules, of staying within her boundraries, or to stand up and fight for herself and others. And it’s not one choice, but many. The clearest picture of this is how she creates this life for herself on the island and then goes back and forth about if she likes it, if she prefers this exile; sometimes lonely, sometimes with more action (through pirates and other need-a-lesson semi-exiled girls) than she would’ve liked.

My island lay around me. My herbs, my house, my animals. And so it would go, I thought, on and on, forever the same. 

It’s a more complex story than I though walking into it and certainly one I will pick up again to reread the multifaceted person Circe is throughout it.

I thought once that gods are the opposite of death, but I see now they are more dead than anything, for they are unchanging, and can hold nothing in their hands.

The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic | Review

I wrote a review after reading this book series for the first time in 2016, and found it on goodreads after rereading this series again. So enjoy my unfiltered thoughts from seventeen-year-old me about this book series I truly still love;

Pages: 237

Genre: Young Adult – lgbt characters (gay and demisexual character(s)).

Synopsis

Neil Josten is the newest addition to the Palmetto State University Exy team. He’s short, he’s fast, he’s got a ton of potential—and he’s the runaway son of the murderous crime lord known as The Butcher.

Signing a contract with the PSU Foxes is the last thing a guy like Neil should do. The team is high profile and he doesn’t need sports crews broadcasting pictures of his face around the nation. His lies will hold up only so long under this kind of scrutiny and the truth will get him killed.

But Neil’s not the only one with secrets on the team. One of Neil’s new teammates is a friend from his old life, and Neil can’t walk away from him a second time. Neil has survived the last eight years by running. Maybe he’s finally found someone and something worth fighting for.

My thoughts

Four out of five stars

Rating out of five stars: four

I couldn’t put this book down. Sports! Friends forming a family! Dramatic misfits! Such cute (with that I mean hardcore) characters!

First, let us get this out of the way: this book sucks the first pages. Probably the first two chapters, or even longer. But do not give up on it, because the rest of the book is completely worth it. So is the rest of the series, which I read in less than twenty-four hours.

This is a book about family, but not only the biological one. It is about the importance of support and friends, how they can change your life and you change theirs. “The foxhole court” family is not perfect; they are a bunch of misfits thrown together with only one common goal: to be champions & make people stop laughing at their Exy team. That is: except for Andrew, because he is an uncaring, high (and protective) jerk.

“The Palmetto State University Foxes were a team of talented rejects and junkies because Wymack only recruited athletes from broken homes. His decision to turn the Foxhole Court into a halfway house of sorts was nice in theory, but it meant his players were fractured isolationists who couldn’t get along long enough to get through a game.”

And yes… this is a sports book about a sport that does not exists outside of “The foxhole court”s cover. Exy is completely fictional, but seems like a mix between lacrosse and… Rugby, perhaps? A more violent twist to the sport anyway. It seems like making up a sport was preferable in how certain rules and the whole sports culture had to be different from what we know, for this book to be what it is. We already have Quidditch, so why not Exy. Easier name to spell too. Fictional sport or not, this book has an authentic i-will-do-anything-to-be-the-best feel and passion, which I like. Nothing better than jealousy and threats to motivate you.

There is no romance in this book, for reasons you will realize if reading the rest of the series. I found this really refreshing? There is a lot going on with backstories, trying to get these fucked up teens on a straight path and be sort of friends/teammates. There is definitely enough drama to go around anyway. A lot like the raven cycle, this book has the notion of a coming romance, but is too busy that it is of importance.

“Hope was a dangerous, disquieting thing, but he [Neil] thought perhaps he liked it.”

I will be the first to admit that this book got some problems, much like the characters in it. I love “The Foxhole Court” and its characters anyway, with flaws and all. Uncommonly, the series only gets better from here, and at the end of the first book, it was pretty exciting already. It was an easy read, but with dept as well. And with a squad you will love.