As you might have already seen, I made a Backlist TBR for this year, made up of 12 books from my backlist that I have to get to this year. This has been a failure every year that I tried to do it, so this year it’s all about accountability. I made a couple of rules for myself. First, I included a wheel (it’s just an app) that I spin every month and that’s how I choose my backlist title for the month. That makes things interesting. Then I make it a priority to read that backlist book first in a month, which has been working out for these two past months. And then finally this post comes into play – I plan to make updates for you every other month, and if I don’t you can yell at me and that would be very valid. So let’s talk about my January & February backlist reads!
January Pick: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White
Started on a bad foot, with a DNF. I am a huge fan of the Arthurian legend, and I am always on the hunt for great retellings of it. My favorite one is a story from A Cathedral of Myth and Bone and you HAVE to read it. Anyways, I was really excited for The Guinevere Deception and to finally try out White’s writing but this book was so frustrating and I did not care for it AT ALL, so I had to put it down. From the get-go, I found the vibe of the book wrong and I felt like I was reading a sequel without reading the first book. This also relies heavily on the world-building trope I detest, which is when to catch the reader up, the author tells a story through a character. Hate it, not for me. I find it incredibly lazy and lacking in finesse. The characters were also incredibly one-dimensional, and their interactions were very vapid in my opinion. The author instantly puts an emphasis on romantic relationships without establishing the characters as individuals. Guinevere had no personality but we were supposed to care about her vibing with both Arthur and Mordred, so I could not have cared less. Sorry, but not sorry. Glad I finally picked this one up even if I did not like it. I am looking forward to more Arthurian stories though, so if you have any recs, let me know.
Final verdict: DNF
February Pick: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Yes, friends, it finally happened, I finally read this book. I’ve been recommended it a million times, and I had an ebook of it for years, probably as long as I had my Kindle. I read Circe last year and honestly found it boring, so I was excited to see how I like this one. And I am happy to report that I did enjoy it more. This one held my attention throughout, and I do like the story of the Trojan war a lot, so I think that is also why this worked for me better. However, this did not leave a lasting impression, and I wanted a lot more from it. I know this is not a romance, but it’s hyper focused on the relationship between Patrocles and Achilles, and I just never believed that they were in love? I wanted so much more background as to why they loved each other, especially why Patrocles is in love with Achilles. Achilles was really unlikeable to me, and I failed to see what Patrocles saw in him. So what I really missed was actually a lot more introspection which is a thing I always miss in books if it’s not there. Too much time spent on beautiful sentences that I would prefer to have been spent on character development. AND I really felt like this could have benefited a lot from Achilles’ perspective, at least in the end. This just goes to show that flowery, beautiful, poetic writing does absolutely nothing for me, and I could not care less about it honestly. So yeah, this was good, objectively, but did not do much for me personally. But it is a story I generally enjoy in any format, so that made me enjoy it a lot more than I probably would have if the backdrop of the novel was different.
Final verdict: 3.5 stars
I would love to hear from you! Tell me if you have read any of these books and how you felt about them, I would love to know. Are there any backlist titles you are looking forward to picking up this year? Let me know!
In the meantime, happy reading
*If you want to buy any of the books I talked about, you can use my Bookshop affiliate link if you’re in the USA! You buy a book and support local bookstores, and I get a small commission! Even if you do not want to use my own affiliate link, I would still recommend using Bookshop.org since a lot of independent bookstores are struggling and this is a nice way to help them out. You can even find your favorite local bookstore and support them directly!
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One thought on “Backlist TBR 2021 Update: The Guinevere Deception and The Song of Achilles”
I am almost finished with Tracy Deonn’s Legendborn and it is reawakening all of my love for Arthurian lore, so I appreciate seeing your thoughts on White’s book and would highly recommend Deonn’s! It’s not quite a perfect read for me but I’m absolutely hooked and will be DESPERATE for the sequel.
I also read Circe before Song of Achilles and liked the latter better. I loved the flow of the writing and being reimmersed in the Trojan War story so I ended up with a high rating, but as fun as it was to read it really hasn’t stuck with me and the characterization keeps unraveling for me the more I think about it in retrospect, so I fully agree with your assessment on that one!