Scripture Sunday (37)

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:

So Hathak went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate. Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to instruct her to go into the king’s presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

Hathak went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, “All the king’s officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that they be put to death unless the king extends the gold scepter to them and spares their lives. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king.”

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai, he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

-Esther 4:6-14

Why I chose it:

Sometimes we end up in scary or dangerous places or positions in life. I know it’s trite and NOT comforting to say that “God put you there for a reason!” but for me personally, acknowledging my fear as a reminder that Something Needs Doing is useful. Esther is terrified, but she knows she has to act anyway, and that is what bravery is. ESTHER IS A COOL GAL and I’d like to be more like her someday.


Summer Challenge Wrap-up

Back at the beginning of the summer, I challenged myself to read some of the books that have been sitting on my shelves for a bit, either because they looked difficult or because I just hadn’t had sufficient motivation to pick them up. I chose two poetry volumes, two nonfiction, and two fiction. Below are my brief thoughts/reviews on them.

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton: Girl had issues but she had a way with words. I love her odd imagery, but less so the weird sex imagery (although I’m sure many people enjoy it). My favorite collections are To Bedlam and Part Way Back and Transformations. I wrote about a couple of her poems here.

Another E.E. Cummings ed. by Richard Kostelanetz and John Rocco: This book tries to show other facets of E.E. Cummings besides his more famous poems; it gives a taste of his prose, translations, and memoir, as well as some of his less-read poems. I liked it as a survey, but I don’t think it collected his best work.

Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research Into Homosexuality by Simon LeVay: This is a really good overview and discussion of the studies and “treatments” of homosexuality done over the last 100 years. It tries to answer the questions “what makes someone  homosexual?” and “Who cares?”I was very ignorant going into this book but it was reasonably accessible and comprehensive.

The History of Alexander by Curtius Rufus: Roman guys sure love their rhetoric! This reads like history for the most part, but with a bunch of headcanon speeches added in; everyone gets pages and pages of monologues. Curtius Rufus really loves Darius and really hates Greeks.

The Oresteian Trilogy by Aeschylus: The trilogy includes Agamemnon, The Libation-Bearers, and The Eumenides, and takes place soon after the events of The Iliad. I can see why mythology was so popular back in the day if plays like this were bringing them to life. Agamemnon returns home to Greece only to discover that his wife isn’t thrilled about his new girlfriend slave or the fact that Agamemmnon sacrificed his own daughter. Shenanigans ensue as various family members deal with the curse laid on them.

The American by Henry James: Like most of Henry James’ work, I’m not certain whether we’re supposed to sympathize with his protagonist or judge him. I certainly don’t like Christopher Newman, and I spent half of the book hoping that Madame de Cintre would destroy him emotionally so that he would learn that she’s not an object to possess, and the other half hoping Newman would destroy a few other people emotionally.

I was glad I challenged myself to read these books, so I’m going to do the same thing for fall. My list is:

  • The Country of the Pointed Firs and Other Fiction by Sarah Orne Jewett
  • The Awkward Age by Henry James
  • The Complete Works of Horace
  • Sophocles I: Three Tragedies
  • The Generalship of Alexander the Great by J.F.C. Fuller
  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

What about you? Do you try to challenge yourself or approach reading more whimsically? How do you get yourself to read “difficult” books?

Myth Monday: Inuit Folklore for Dummies

I read The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling recently and enjoyed a story called “Quiquern” about an Inuit boy and girl. It included a number of references to Inuit folklore, and for the readalong posts I wanted to include some background information on that, but it turned out to be surprisingly difficult. In my online search for Inuit folklore in general and “quiquern” references in particular, I found:

  1. legitimate sites that weren’t in English, to my great chagrin
  2. possibly-legitimate blog posts that didn’t credit any sources which made me side-eye and look elsewhere looking for online
  3. a hundred sketchy sites that merely quoted Wikipedia in its entirety

I also noticed that the main source for the creature “quiquern” or “qiqern” was, in fact, The Jungle Books, so I’m reallyyyyyy questioning its existence.

I then took my search to where I should have begun it:

tenor (1).gif

The library had a lot of books on Inuit history and culture, which are good and relevant, but not precisely what I was looking for. They had exactly one book with “Inuit Mythology” in the title, in kids’ nonfiction. They had many picture books that retold Inuit tales (or at least claimed to).

For those of you adrift on the same ice floe as me, I’m going to share the results on my search. Obviously, I came at this topic from a place of extreme ignorance; I did my best not to spread misinformation. If you have some great sources on Inuit mythology, hook me up. Otherwise, you can check out my sources at the end of this post.

Important fact: there are lots of different Inuit tribes, just like the Native Americans of North America, but in the broadest survey they’re divided into: Central Inuit, which is mostly super far northern Canada; Alaska Inuit; and Greenland Inuit. A lot of the folktales can only be found in one of the distinct geographical swathes.

Like other mythologies, Inuit folklore and tales are deeply rooted in their religious beliefs. The core of their belief is that everything has a soul. Once a person or animal dies, their soul becomes a spirit, and it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to keep the spirits happy. If you’re dealing with a good spirit, you want to befriend them. If you’re dealing with an evil spirit, you want to not piss them off. Angatoks, or shamans, interact and communicate with spirits the most.

Often a main character will get a seal-skin, or an ermine-hat, that will allow them to transform into that animal (or at least disguise themselves?) when needed. One boy gets a beluga canoe that can go really fast and underwater when needed. Sometimes these items rely on the animal’s goodwill, other times it isn’t mentioned.

Most of the folktales involve humans dealing with animal spirits, whether dead or alive. If you’re dealing with a dead animal, especially, you want to treat its body with care. If you killed it for food, for example, there are rules on how you skin it or treat it. You don’t want its spirit to come after you later.

Inuit folklore doesn’t have a single accepted creation myth. One thing I found interesting is that the Alaska Inuit have a lot of Raven stories, similar to Raven stories in other North America native mythologies. The Alaska Inuit have some stories about Sparrow and Raven being the first, and creating the earth by forming things out of clay, including people. Raven directs the first people to kill a giant sea monster and use pieces of the carcass to create more islands for them to live on.

The mythological figure that recurred the most in my search was Sedna. She is referred to sometimes as a sea goddess, sometimes as the mother of all sea creatures. She also possibly has some role in the afterlife: CANNOT CONFIRM. Her story is pretty dark: she starts out as a human girl. The version from Greenland has a loon who tricks her into marrying him by taking on human form. Once Sedna realizes what a mistake she’s made, her dad rescues her from the loon’s island, but the loon chases after and the dad realizes what a mistake HE made.  He tosses Sedna into the ocean, but she holds tight to the boat, so he has to cut off her fingers one by one. She drowns and becomes the sea goddess; her fingers turn into sea creatures.

Art by Sraiya: Source

Greenland has a story about a girl who marries one of the “little people” or “gnomes” (it’s translated in different ways so I’m not sure of the exact connotation). The girl’s father has had to fight off a bunch of normal-human suitors because they’re jerks, but the gnome son-in-law wins him over and eventually the family gets to gloat a little over the girl’s previous suitors by sharing the food their gnome friend acquired for them.

Giants tend to be pretty nice dudes in these stories, rather than monsters and/or villains like I see them in other mythologies. One story I particularly loved (from the Bering Strait Inuit) is about a woman named Taku who escapes her abusive husband and befriends a giant named Kinak. Kinak looks after her for a while, and even after she returns to her husband, Kinak continues to look after her and, ahem, take care of anyone who makes her unhappy.

There are quite a few stories where family members or in-laws try to murder the main character. Women are scarce so sometimes a freeloading bachelor will come along and decide to murder her husband and “liberate” her. Another story has a boy go into some kind of berserker rage and, after killing his enemies, accidentally kills his grandmother as well. Usually the murderer or attempted murderer is punished in some way; often a murder will be “justified” because someone broke the rules of hospitality (as guest or as host).

“The Adventures of Kiviog” (Central Inuit) combines a few different common themes that I’ve touched on. The boy Kiviog is given a seal-skin by his mother, which he uses to go avenge the murder of his father (killed before Kiviog was born). After he’s completed that, he gets a little entangled with a witch, and uses his seal-skin to escape. He eventually marries a wolf-girl, who is in human form but is also a wolf???? but Kiviog’s wolfy mother-in-law gets super jealous and murders her daughter, and takes her skin as a disguise. Kiviog realizes what she’s done and escapes. If there’s a moral, I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of “humans and animals shouldn’t get too cozy.” It also implies that the treacherous wolf mother-in-law will starve to death, because she’s too weak to hunt her own food.

I’m still really ignorant of this branch of mythology but it was fun and stretching research Inuit stories. Again, if anyone can point me in the direction of some good sources, I would appreciate it.



Angutinngurniq, Jose. The Giant Bear: An Inuit Folktale. Inhabit Media, 2012.

Bial, Raymond. The People and Culture of the Inuit. Cavendish Square Publishing, 2016.

Christopher, Neil. On The Shoulders of a Giant: An Inuit Folktale. Inhabit Media, 2015.

Wolfson, Evelyn. Inuit Mythology. Enslow Publishers, 2001.




Scripture Sunday (36)

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:

 “Yet you ask, ‘Why does the son not share the guilt of his father?’ Since the son has done what is just and right and has been careful to keep all my decrees, he will surely live. The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

“But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?

“But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

-Ezekiel 18:19-24

Why I chose it:

Fortunately for us, God’s mercy isn’t fair. It’s not a scale of deeds, where all the bad goes on one side and all the good one the other. If it was, NO one would make it out okay. Fortunately for us, God has mercy on the sincerely repentant, the humble, and those willing to change.

The Turn of the Screw Readalong (schedule)


“The Governess” by Amanda Sartor: Website

Our upcoming readalong is The Turn of The Screw by Henry James! This is one of my favorite books and a controversial ghost story. As with previous readalongs, I will be posting a couple of times a week here on the blog. If you have specific topics you want addressed, or you want to do a guest-post (a ghost-post?), leave me a comment on this post.

We will be discussing the book here and/or on Twitter at #turnofthescread (I know I know, this is possibly the weirdest one yet but all the non-weird ones were taken! LIVE LIFE WITH NO REGRETS).

Reading Schedule

Have the Prologue read by October 3rd

Have Chapters 1-6 read by October 10th

Have Chapters 7-12 read by October 17th

Have Chapters 13-18 read by October 24th

Have Chapters 19-24 read by October 31st

I hope you join us!

August Reading Wrap-up

Sooooooooooooo many good reads last month! I tried something new this time to give you a better idea of what each one’s about and which ones I really loved.


I Want This To Last Forever

More Than This by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars)

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (5/5 stars)

Hippos In America?!

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (4/5 stars)

Feminist Superhero Fiction

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente (5/5 stars)

McMaster of the Novella

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (5/5 stars)

Rereads Are Good Reads

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater (5/5 stars)

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

And The Rest

A Crimson Warning by Tasha Alexander (2/5 stars)

Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews (3/5 stars)

Graphic Novels

Personal Faves

March: Book One by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

The Backstagers by James Tynion IV (5/5 stars)


A-Force: Rage Against the Dying of the Light by Kelly Thompson (4/5 stars)

Mockingbird: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: I Kissed A Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North (5/5 stars)

Star Wars

Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen (no rating)


The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton (4/5 stars)


Beowulf, a Translation and Commentary by JRR Tolkien (4/5 stars)




The Jungle Books: Week 6

It’s the final countdown! do de do do doooooooo

“Red Dog”

Mowgli is shown at the height of his jungle powers in this story. After all of the adventures and work he’s gone to in previous stories, “all the Jungle was his friend, and just a little afraid of him.” Times are changing, though; Akela is ancient, Mowgli’s wolf-parents are unforgivably dead, and the wolf Pack has a new leader, Phao. When the pheeal comes, Mowgli is the one to react and take charge. PS why is it called “pheeal,” I want to laugh every time I see the word even though it apparently represents a death-scream of terror and despair??

Mowgli has to organize the other animals to defend themselves against the dhole, ravenous mindless tiny red dogs that want to eat everything in their path like a plague of locusts: “until they are killed, or till game is scarce, they will go forward.”

Oh no they’re cute. Source

The way the dhole are described, and how the other animals fear them, really built the suspense of this story; it was only afterwards that I realized how scared I was of a pack of small wild dogs.

“But this is new hunting,” Mowgli remarks, which is all that matters to him; new experiences and interesting fights. Mowgli as a character is often stuck in this childlike attitude of ignoring consequences and relishing conflict, as long as he has the upper hand. To succeed in his fun new campaign against the dhole hoard, Mowgli asks for advice (from Kaa, MY FAVORITE MURDEROUS PYTHON) and masterminds a plan involving a swarm of bees to take out the swarm of dholes. Nice.

“Red Dog” is surprisingly violent and gory for a kid’s story. Much of this story is one big action sequence, following Mowgli as he sics the bees on the dholes, and then the wolves and other allies surround the dholes and fight to the last tooth, as it were. RIP Akela. Akela is the one who recognizes the power Mowgli has over the jungle: “Thou art a man, or else the Pack had fled before the dhole.” Mowgli has come a long way from being kidnapped by monkeys!

“Chil’s Song”

Chil is a very chill kite because he knows that sooner or later he is going to eat you. This song is chilling because it has a pretty happy, comradely tone, but the subject is how eventually Chil will scavenge the dead bodies of everyone, friend or foe.  “Here’s an end of every trail…”

Brahminy Kite Source

“The Spring Running”

Subtitled: Mowgli turns into a big whiny man-baby.

That’s kind of harsh but I really was frustrated by him in this story. On the one hand, Mowgli is more powerful than ever; all of the jungle animals yield to him, and all of them obey him unless they’re overtaken by SPRING FEVER. Mowgli is aware of his status, as he tells Bagheera: “Remember, we be the Masters of the Jungle…” but is furious that his power isn’t 100% all of the time. He feels betrayed by his friends; he feels misunderstood; he spends a lot of time running around feeling sorry for himself. He even feels that he is changing physically, and is convinced that he’s dying: “I have surely eaten poison,” he keeps repeating.

Of course, he is a teenager at this point so it makes sense.

I don’t know how much of this is crazy teenage hormones and how much of this is his human self getting in conflict with his animal upbringing but wow, Mowgli is a big mess.

I’m glad we see Messua again, and that she is doing well! Her sub-plot through the stories shows her to be credulous, but good-hearted and someone who cares a lot for Mowgli. She’s gotten her life together since she left that village that got eaten by the Jungle. I like that she can never really decide if Mowgli is her son reincarnated, or her foster son, or a demigod of some kind; even at the end, she is “not quite sure whether he were her son Nathoo of the long ago days, or some wonderful Jungle being.” 

Through this story, Mowgli comes to realize and accept that his mentors were right, after all: he doesn’t really belong in the Jungle, and he can’t stay there forever. His time in the Jungle was more of a liminal period, and now he will have to leave it and be a “real” human, or at least live among other humans as one.

Mowgli’s mentors have shorter life-spans than him (except Kaa, I guess???). How do you think this affects their relationship with him? Is the real reason he has to leave the Jungle because all of his “elders” will soon be dead, leaving him with WAYYYY too much power over the other animals? DISCUSS.

How do you think Mowgli will cope? Do you think he’ll keep his temper? Do you think he’ll lose all of his Jungle power and animal magnetism (ahahaha) once he’s living with humans all the time? DISCUSS. I have a feeling he’s in for a life of frustration, and possibly jail.

“The Out-Song”

It’s like Mowgli is graduating from Jungle High and all three of his living mentors are signing his yearbook with one last piece of advice. Good luck, Mowgli….

I hope you enjoyed the readalong! I’ll be around next month for a readalong of my favorite ghost story, The Turn of The Screw by Henry James (schedule TBA).