Top 10 Tuesday: Looking Ahead 2017

This week’s theme from The Broke and The Bookish is “Top Ten Most Anticipated Books For The Second Half of 2017.” Let’s do this.

  1. Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scarytales by Kiersten White: July 25th, fairytales/retellings
  2. In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan: August 15th, fantasy (also originally published online here but I am so excited to get a paper copy I can read whenever I want ahhhhh) 
  3. The Silver Mask by Holly Black/Cassie Clare: August 29th, fantasy (I mean on the one hand I don’t want to read it at all because I’m STILL CRYING, YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID)
  4. Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo: August 29th, superhero!
  5. That Inevitable Victorian Thing by EK Johnston: October 3rd, steampunk???
  6. The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan: October 3rd, fantasy
  7. The Stone in the Skull by Elizabeth Bear: October 10th, fantasy
  8. All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater: October 10th, fantasy???
  9. The Legends of Luke Skywalker by Ken Liu: October 31st, science fiction
  10. Chainbreaker by Tara Sim: November 7th, steampunk
Advertisements

Myth Monday: The Last Monster (For Now)

Previously on Myth Mondays feat. Percy Jackson monsters:

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

The Battle of the Labyrinth

 

So, in The Last Olympian, the last book of the series, many of the monsters from previous books come back to make another attempt on our heroes’ health and happiness. The most prominent of these is probably the Minotaur, since it almost killed Percy’s mom in the first book, but we also see plenty of Lastreagonian giants, empousae, dracenae, and hellhounds, so I hope you enjoy those. There’s only a handful of “new” monsters. I’m going to take a look at those first, and then address some of the other villains of the book who don’t quite qualify as “monsters.”

The Monsters

Typhon the giant: Back in the olden days, the gods had a lot of big scary enemies to defeat. After they took care of the Titans (mentioned last time), the earth Titan Gaea sent a few giants, relatives of the Titans, in a last effort to destroy the gods. Typhon was one of the strongest and the scariest, and it took all of the gods to defeat him. In the Percy Jackson universe, Zeus had to drop a mountain on top of Typhon to bury and defeat him, which turns into Mt. St. Helens. Typhon awakens in The Last Olympian, causing the mountain to erupt, and then has a great time traveling across the continental United States to attack the stronghold of the gods in New York City. The gods have to unite and fight him together; the demigods like Percy don’t stand a chance and have to fight other villains. Basically Typhon is a good narrative obstacle to keep the gods from helping our heroes. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because he is apocalyptically scary.

Hyperborean giants: I’m very confused by these because in the Percy Jackson series, they are big dumb ice-giants who are recruited by the Big Bad Kronos. In mythology, the land of the Hyperboreans was far to the north and inaccessible to normal humans, but it was apparently a super great, heavenly place that was always springtime. I mean, I guess the Greeks didn’t know about the North Pole, but yeah. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because what.

The Clazmonian Sow/The Crommyonian Sow: I had to resort to Wikipedia for this one, because, wow, Rick, PRETTY OBSCURE. TCS was a giant pig that was killed by Theseus and may or may not be a metaphor for a terrible woman. I haven’t come across this reference in retellings of Theseus’ adventures, but Wikipedia’s sources are legit, so. Sows, man! In The Last Olympian, Kronos lets the TCS loose on NYC and it’s a whole thing. Giant pigs are surprisingly terrifying. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Drakon: The Last Olympian features a “drakon,” which Riordan differentiates from other dragons we see in the series, claiming it is bigger, nastier, “a two-hundred-foot-long serpent as thick as a school bus.” Mythology tends to play fast and loose with its monster descriptions, especially with dragons/drakons/draconian varieties, so I think making it a distinct breed is artistic license. Also, The Last Olympian has these weird parallels with The Iliad, where a couple of demigods have a similar arc to Achilles and Patroclus, which makes the drakon = Hector. Hector deserves better tbh.   3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Other Jerks of Note

The Titans: They’re the big bads of this series and we see more of them than ever in this book. They’re the ancient enemies of the gods, who replaced them, and the Titans are still pretty pissed off about it. Kronos is The Big Bad, of course, and can control Time. But we also see a lot of Krios (or Crius) and Hyperion (originally a sun god, replaced by Apollo). We saw Atlas in The Titan’s Curse, and we will see more of them in the next series.

Morpheus: Kronos recruits a lot of minor deities who feel unappreciated by the major gods to his cause. Morpheus is one of these. He is the god of dreams and the son of the God of Sleep (Somnus). In The Last Olympian, he puts NYC to sleep so that the baddies can attack Olympus without a lot of mortals getting in the way and screaming. I guess.

Nemesis: She’s the goddess of revenge (although her name is translated as Righteous Anger) and signs up for Kronos’ side. We don’t actually see her in The Last Olympian, but I’m mentioning her because she’s cool and her son, the demigod Ethan Nakamura, is a supporting character and super great and deserves better okay bye.

Hecate: She’s the goddess of the night and she is very terrifying and has many scary magical powers. She’s working for Kronos in the series and does lots of black magic for him and his dastardly plans.

800px-Prometheus_Adam_Louvre_MR1745_edit_atoma
Source

Prometheus: This guy is a Titan and there are so many stories about him that it’s very confusing. Sometimes he’s the guy who created mankind, sometimes he didn’t create them but he helps them, sometimes he helps them but only to piss off the gods. Prometheus as benefactor of humanity is the most long-lasting story, including that time that Zeus punished him for giving mankind knowledge of fire by chaining him to a rock and letting an eagle peck out his liver every day. In The Last Olympian, Prometheus signs up with Kronos and is more of a Chaotic Neutral character – he seems to think that working for Kronos will ultimately help humans because the gods don’t care about them. He comes across as much more of a Trickster-archetype than he is usually portrayed which I thought was interesting.

Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Last Olympian. Disney Hyperion, 2009. Print.

 

Next month we will be starting the Heroes of Olympus series!

Scripture Sunday (26)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
What has been will be again,
    what has been done will be done again;
    there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which one can say,
    “Look! This is something new”?
It was here already, long ago;
    it was here before our time.
No one remembers the former generations,
    and even those yet to come
will not be remembered
    by those who follow them.

-Ecclesiastes 1:8-12

Why I chose it:

I would have posted the entire book of Ecclesiastes if I could. It’s my favorite book of the Bible, taken in its entirety. I relate to so much of it: feeling hopeless; getting irritated at the rat race; feeling despair when evil people have perfect lives and good people are murdered; or the above verses, when I just feel like everything is in a weary cycle of sameness.

The conclusion of the book, of course, is the best part, and always refocuses me. I RECOMMEND ECCLESIASTES.

Top 10 Tuesday: Summer Beach Reads

Today’s theme was a “Summer Freebie,” intended to help us recommend books for summer vacation, on the beach, or whatever. Personally I don’t think my reading increases during the summer, and I don’t think I understand the term beach read, but hey! Freebie! Gonna do what I want!

And what I want is: classics.

I love classics. Sure, a lot of them are boring. Sure, a lot of them are real downers. Sure, a lot of them use weird techniques like stream-of-consciousness so you don’t know which way is up much less which character is doing what.

But all of them are significant in some way, and more importantly, a lot of them are just plain entertaining, good books. “Some of my favorite books are classics!” she protests while clutching her totebag.

IMG_1556.JPG
Here are my top 10 recommendations for summer reading. I tried to pick short-ish ones so no Crime and Punishment and no Middlemarch.
  • Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle: Detectives! Crime! Occasional murder!
  • The Europeans by Henry James: Romance! Snobby relatives! Summer?
  • Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons: Woodsheds! Reform! Romance?
  • Another Country by James Baldwin: James! Effing! Baldwin!
  • Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson: Pirates! Treasure! ISLAND!
  • Kim by Rudyard Kipling: Spies! India! SPIES?
  • The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery: Found family! Romance? Nature!!!
  • Hamlet by Shakespeare: Ghosts! Murder! Duels!
  • Beowulf: Monsters! Mayhem! Madness!
  • Persuasion by Jane Austen: Love! Friendship! Persuasion???

 

Top 10 Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.

Myth Monday: The Star-Touched Queen (Review)

I’m really late to this party but I recently read The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, an excellent YA fantasy which also happens to be chock-full of mythological influences. The protagonist is a girl called Maya, one of many daughters of a Raja who is trying to get a bunch of rebellions under control in his kingdom. The Raja decides his last unmarried daughter is the only way to get the rebels under control, in spite of the terrible horoscope surrounding her birth. Maya finds herself married to the mysterious Amar, the Raja of a land called Akaran that she’s never heard of before, and the mysteries only grow from there!

25203675.jpg

“Ruling Akaran is a strange task. In many ways, it is like balancing an illusion. You must separate the illusion of what you see and the reality of its consequences,” he said. “Tell me, my queen, are you ready to play with fate?”

-Amar is a weird dude.

Some chunks of the plot and characters reminded me a lot of the myth of Cupid and Psyche, particularly the bit where the girl is married off, somewhat against her will, to a mysterious dude who won’t tell her anything about himself but is really nice and has a palace but also nothing really adds up and the girl becomes more and more uneasy about her life and her choices. All of that, but set in an Indian setting, and with a bunch more magical stories and mythic creatures, either gliding along on the fringes or bursting into the middle of the story.

Since I’m super white and am much more familiar with Greco-Roman myths than anything else, I had to look up the other myths invoked here, for the sake of my own curiosity. Fortunately, the author listed some on a Goodreads Q&A. She apparently used many Hindu myths in the story, but especially these: Savitri and Satyavan, Shiva and Parvati, The Ramayana, Shakuntula, and Narasimha. So I have my myth-reading list for the week!  Themes from these stories include lots of trickery and cleverness, the value of memory, the importance of Death as a stabilizing figure rather than a chaotic one, and the power of love. All of these are featured heavily in The Star-Crossed Queen. This book reminded me of another myth-inspired YA book, Deathless by Catherynne Valente. Deathless draws on Russian folklore, similar to the way The Star-Touched Queen draws on Hindu myths, and is another book I strongly recommend.

I definitely enjoyed the story without being familiar with the Hindu myths, as they enriched the story regardless, but I’d like to reread the book once I have a better grasp on them. This book definitely seems like one that would reward rereads; there’s a lot packed in here.

The book as a whole was beautifully written, well-paced, and included a fascinating and awful cast of characters. My personal favorite was Kamala the murder-horse, who says things like:

“It is nice to be nice. And it is also nice to eat people.”

Scripture Sunday (25)

Scripture Sunday is a weekly quote-post to highlight Bible passages I’ve read recently that I found particularly interesting. My translation is the New International Version.

From my reading this week:

Extol the Lord, Jerusalem;
    praise your God, Zion.

He strengthens the bars of your gates
    and blesses your people within you.
He grants peace to your borders
    and satisfies you with the finest of wheat.

He sends his command to the earth;
    his word runs swiftly.
He spreads the snow like wool
    and scatters the frost like ashes.
He hurls down his hail like pebbles.
    Who can withstand his icy blast?
He sends his word and melts them;
    he stirs up his breezes, and the waters flow.

-Psalms 147:12-18

Why I chose it:

I love the active quality of God’s “word” here. He sends his word; his word runs; he sends his word; his word melts them.

So You Want To Be A Robot (Review)

33376885.jpgI don’t read short stories all that often, but I just finished So You Want To Be A Robot: 21 Stories by Merc Rustad, and loved it. If you read science fiction and/or fantasy, do yourself a favor and read this!

Brief reviews of the included stories:

“This Is Not A Wardrobe Door”: I enjoyed the Monster’s Inc. / Narnia vibes getting twisted around and reimagined. The story was a little too pat overall for me.

My favorite story in the collection was “Tomorrow When We See The Sun.” I want 3 novels and a movie and I want to reread it until my eyeballs are bleeding. It is sad and hopeful and angry and happy and there is so much world-building and characterization and plot packed into it.

Another of my faves was “The Sorcerer’s Unattainable Gardens”: I loved the two intertwined stories, and this was my favorite use of 2nd person in this collection (yes there are several!).

“The Android’s Prehistoric Menagerie”: After the end of the world, there are dinos and robots and they make beautiful lives for themselves.

I didn’t like “For Want of a Heart,” but it did a beautiful job of slowly building up a nice solid Dread.

“Once I, Rose” was another one that seemed a little too pat, but the concept was fascinating!

“Where Monsters Dance” was another story that felt like it packed in an entire novel. I love everyone in this bar! Warning: includes monsters and dancing.

“A Survival Guide for When You’re Trapped in a Black Hole”: I hate dog stories, but Merc made this one a bit more palatable than usual.

“Thread”: When you’re enslaved by aliens made of light, darkness is suddenly very hopeful and cozy.

“Under Wine-Bright Seas”: This was the only one where I felt like the description dominated all other parts of the story so much that I don’t have an opinion on the story itself. But I like the world.

“Of Blessed Servitude”: Another favorite of mine that includes sun-demons, cyborgs, Wild-West-ish post-apocalyptic wasteland, sacrifice, etc!

“To The Knife-Cold Stars”: I’ve rarely read anything so desperately determined to grasp hope out of terrible circumstances. It’s also a sequel of sorts to “Of Blessed Servitude.”

“Finding Home” was a really cool contrast between those always escaping and those who stay.

“Winter Bride”: This story did NOT make me rethink my desire for all Fae to die in a trash fire.

“To The Monsters, With Love”: An ode to all the monsters, monster-lovers, and monster-makers out there.

“BATTERIES FOR YOUR DOOMBOT5000 ARE NOT INCLUDED”: It’s like a super-hero story, except about the super-heroes (and villains) after they’ve gotten out of the business and are still dealing with the aftermath.

“….Or Be Forever Fallen”: YIKES. This was Elizabeth-Bear-Level of heartrending and oh-no-oh-no realizations and grim decisions to keep going.

“Iron Aria”: Kyru can talk to metal, and the mountain full of iron is hurting. I LOVED the wordsmithing in this one.

“What Becomes of the Third-Hearted”: It’s good. I’m nervous that saying anything about it will spoil the effect.

“The Gentleman of Chaos”: This was possibly the Merc-i-est story in this collection. I love Merc stories because they’re so often about finding hope in places/situations where there is absolutely no hope at first (or second, or third) glance.

“So You Want To Be a Robot”: Partway through reading this, the story grabbed me and made me cry and wouldn’t let me go. But in a good way.

Overall, I loved this collection. It’s well-written, with lots of surprises both in the stories and in the word-choice – I LOVE the surprising ways Merc describes or shows things in the words they use. There are several stories that not only use second person but SUCCEED with it, although this both a praise and a quibble because a little second person goes a LONG way with me.