Saturday, June 25, 2011

Throne of Fire

I have to admit, when I first heard that Rick Riordan was writing a series based on Egyptian mythology, I was a bit... Worried.  Afraid he was dragging this 'mythology in modern day' idea out a little too far, that it would just be Percy Jackson meets Egypt.

Well, sometimes, I love being wrong.

Besides the fact that the series is, well, addicting in general, it's very unique from it's Greek predecessor.  I mean, of course there are some similarities and such, but definitely different.

Spoiler Alert!

Throne of Fire proved to be even better than The Red Pyramid.  Sadie and Carter are now teachers of other younger magicians along with their Uncle Amos, and are hot on the trail to awaken the old god Ra.  However, this proves not to be as easy as setting off his celestial alarm clock.  After covering New York City in magical flames and ruining a perfectly good wedding party, they find themselves in the possession of 1/3 of the Book of Ra, the key to awakening the god himself.

They start to make plans to find the other two pieces of the Book, as they have a very short deadline to awaken Ra before Apophis, Lord of Chaos, can rise.  Unfortunately, Sadie offers a slight setback in their plans: It's her birthday.  And she's not gonna spend it traipsing after some stupid scroll.

As Sadie goes off on her own to London for her birthday, Carter, the disgruntled brother, goes about his day as usual.  He holds a class that is promptly interrupted by a snake monster, mentions seeing a flying horse one time flying over the Empire State Building (yes, Mr. Riordan, I caught the reference :P ), and uses a magical bird bath to see that his sister is in danger.  As he goes off to rescue the birthday girl, we'll switch back to her.

Meanwhile, Sadie finds that her grandparents have been possessed by disgruntled gods, who proceed to destroy half of London in their attempt to eat her.  She and her mates barely escape, with a little help from the god of dwarves, Bes.  After saving her grandparents, Sadie meets up with Carter and off they go to Russia to steal a scroll from the third most powerful magician in the world.

Ok, I could go on and on, summarizing the book, but I'll give you a quick rundown of the rest: They meet up with their old 'friend', Set, split up in Egypt, find an entombed Zia Rashid, get attacked by mummies, take an eventful sail through the Duat, get some help from a former enemy, and end up with the surprise of their life which was, actually, the only predictable thing in the book.

Yeah, you need to read it.

A little more on my opinion...

When I read the Percy Jackson series, I loved it because I already knew so much of Greek Mythology already, that I had fun being able to guess at each god, situation, and magical item, trying to remember the story behind it so I could guess what would happen next.  Now, I'm not as brushed-up on Egyptian Mythology...Ok, I know squat.  Or, I did.  The great thing about Mr. Riordan's books is that, whether you have that background knowledge or not, you can still follow them and understand what's going on.  And, of course, enjoy them.

I love the way the story is told as well, from two different points of view.  Carter and Sadie are two very different characters and give different insight on each situation.  I love Sadie's attitude, but Carter's calmer manner offers a nice break.

And, of course, Rick manages to get creative with the gods.  Every time I think of Anubis, that nice little piece of-

Fang: -clears throat-

Me: Oh, yes, well... Bes was so fun!

Fang: -eyeroll-

Me: Anyway... On a final note, as I've somehow forgotten if there was anything else I wanted to say, I will add something about how much this book just... Grabs you, holds on tight, and refuses to let go.

(But, luckily, won't attack you with magical fire or create a giant griffin or anything.)

I was reading it during a slow day at work and, every time my co-worker, Niki would ask me to do something, I'd reply with something like this:

"But Niki! The world is about to be destroyed by a chaos-inducing snake who will swallow the sun!  They haven't made it through the Duat!  Ra is not fully risen! HOW CAN YOU EXPECT ME TO WORK AT A TIME LIKE THIS?!"

As funny as she thought I was, she still made me work. -.-

So yes, read this series.  It's fun, it's addicting, oh, yeah, and it could even be educational.  Go history!

Fang: One final note.

Me: Oh, Fang's gonna speak!  This must be inspiring....

Fang: I Like Zebras!

Me: -nods- Yes, it was...

-Saint and Fang

Thursday, June 2, 2011

City of Bones

Once upon a time, a girl, bored out of her mind waiting for her mom to get off dialysis, got on a computer.

She stumbled upon a website dedicated to fanfictions in the Harry Potter fandom.

A huge Harry Potter fan, she began to sift through the stories, reading a couple here and there, waiting for something to catch her eye, entertain her.

She clicked one called 'Draco Dormiens'.

She was sucked into a very different but addicting Harry Potter world, filled with body-switches, love potions, history, romance, and hilarious quotes.

She was hooked, reading a little bit each day over the summer when she could.  It was with this story that a spark first ignited in her mind, giving light to an idea that would weave itself through her thoughts for years to come.

"I want to write a fanfiction."

Fast-forward.  The year is 2008.  The place is a High School library.  The subject?


Ok, if you didn't guess the story was about me by now, you really need to get with the program.

So yes, Cassandra Clare is a big reason I'm here today, typing this, writing Fanfictions, kidnapping fictional characters, etc.  Hers was the first fanfiction to draw me in and inspire me, and now I've sort of... Followed in her footsteps.

Yeah, like I'm that good.

But, I could hope that I'll be able to keep following.  I mean, look where she is now!  A WRITER!  The one thing I dream of being; published.  How awesome is that?

And I'm glad to see she's put her talent to good use.

City of Bones managed to suck me in like Draco Dormiens did years ago.  It had that same pace, then all those plot twists!  By the end, I didn't know what to think anymore!  I couldn't assume anything.  Actually, there were things that I had assumed correctly, but then something would happen that would have me second-guessing until the end, where I was proven right.  Usually, there are things in a book that I will safely be able to say, "Oh yeah, I know where this is going.", but with City of Bones, I was never sure.

Then, the characters.

Spoiler Warning.

Clary- Are you really that clueless, girl?!  CAN YOU NOT SEE WHAT SIMON IS TRYING TO DO?!  OPEN YOUR EYES!!  Ha, besides me yelling at her for her lack of talent in the dating area, I liked Clary.  She's just so normal, such a dork that I can relate to, then BAM!  Sucked into this crazy world of monsters and magic.  Her handling of the whole situation is very real and I love her perspective on things.  Girl's got spunk.

Jace- Wow.  So young, so hot, so funny, so single.  (Though I have a feeling that won't last.)  I love Jace, mostly for his quotes.  I was telling my co-worker, Niki, about him, and she made the comment that he reminded her of her fiancĂ©e, Jay (who made a cameo in 'Day of House Calls').  Since then, I haven't been able to stop making Jay/Jace comparisons.  They're sarcastic wit is so alike, it's like Cassie Clare was stalking Jay.  I'm seriously beginning to wonder about all of Jay's 'tattoos'...

Alec- ALEC, I LOVE YOU!!  From the second I read his name, I thought to myself, "I'm gonna love this guy."  And I was right.  Something about Alec is so endearing.  I want to hug him.  But he'd probably kill me.

Isabelle- So kick-ass.  I.  Want.  Her.  Whip.  Is that thing awesome or what?  Weapon and fashion statement all in one.  I love her attitude, like she owns the world or something.  And heck, she could.  Who would stop her?

Simon- Poor Simon.  Made fun of, turned into a rat, heart broken, etc.  But it seems to turn out ok for him in the end.  At least, things are looking up.  I love Simon.  Honestly, I probably like him better than Jace.  Yeah, Jace, shocking, I know.  But it's probably 'cause, hey, I'm a mundie.  And as awesome as Jace is, if I were given a choice between the two, I'd get along better with Simon's dorkiness.  Simon's just so... Real.

I could go on, but my hand'll start to hurt and I've still got more to say!

I caught at least two places where Cassandra Clare ripped stuff right out of her Fanfictions.  (I'm sure there were more, but I haven't read Draco Dormiens in so long, I need a refresher.)

First was one of the pins on Clary's bag.  It read, "Still Not King."  Don't know what that means?  Google 'Very Secret Diary of Aragorn.'  One of Cassie Clare's LOTR masterpieces.

Then, right out of Draco Dormiens, the story Jace told Clary about his pet falcon.  That was originally a story told by Draco about his father.  It must be so much fun to steal from yourself. :P

There's so much more I could say about this story.  About the unique plot and ideas, about the epic descriptions, my many favorite scenes and, of course, the shocking ending that has me going crazy to go out and grab the sequel, but... Don't want to dump too many spoilers.  :P

Let's just say...I can only dream I'll be able to write something half as good.

Thank you Cassandra Clare.  You're the reason I'm who I am today.

Thank you for helping to create Saint.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tales of the Greek Heroes

Author: Robert Lancelyn Green
Illustrator: Alan Langford
First Published: 1958

I love Greek Mythology.  I mean, I read the Iliad for fun my senior year.  These old stories fascinate me.

Not surprisingly, I'm a huge fan of the Percy Jackson series and anything by Rick Riordan.  So, when I was in Borders the other day, trying to remember the name of a certain Greek heroine, I gravitated towards a table full of Mr. Riordan's works and found this book sitting there among them, as Rick wrote the intro for this new edition.  I picked and up and, low and behold, there was the story of the heroine whose name I was trying to remember; Atalanta!

As a thank you for helping me find the name I, of course, bought the book.

This book contains 19 different Greek myths, each featuring one or more famous Greek heroes or Gods.  The awesome thing about the way this book is put together, though, is that, instead of telling each story as a seperate entity, Mr. Green was able to make each story connect, almost making it into one long myth instead of a collection of short ones, which, if you think of it, is how the stories should be told.  The Greeks thought of these more as accounts of history than mere stories, so they would have regarded them as one whole entity.

The retelling of these stories is well done.  Some of them are different versions than the ones I've heard before, but that's typical of the Greek Myths; never the same story twice.  That's what you get when you rely on oral tradition to pass stories down from generation to generation, but hey, it was cheaper than trying to write it on paper!

I discovered that Mr. Green was a member of The Inklings Club.  Don't know of them?  Well, to make a long story short, it was a society of writers whose numbers included some prestigious names such as J.R.R. Tolkien (fangirl squee) and C.S. Lewis (x2).  Anyone here a Chronicles of Narnia fan?  Well, you better be thanking your lucky stars that Robert Lancelyn Green was a member of this club.  C.S. Lewis first read the first couple of chapters of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to Tolkien, who told him that 'they weren't really that good'.  But luckily, he decided to take them to Green next, who informed Lewis that he thought they were wonderful and he wanted to read more.  He even gave Lewis an idea for a name for the series; Chronicles of Narnia.

But back to his own works...

This book has some wonderful features as well.  It contains an informative Author's Note, a list of the Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Greece and their names in Latin, maps of the Argo's voyage, an Author File that gives background info on the author and his works, some 'fun facts', a who's who guide, some book study questions, a couple activities to try, and a glossary.

With all this in tow, this book can serve as way more than just a good read.  I know this may sound scary to some, but it could be (le gasp!) educational.  As a future teacher, I'm loving the questions and activities.  I'm just dreaming up what I could do with a class using this book as my guide.  It almost plans out the lesson for you.  Go History/English class!!

So... Would I recommend this book?  Yeah, yeah I would.  I highly recommend any fans of the Percy Jackson series pick this up.  Oh heck, anyone interested in Greek Myth should give it a go.  And teachers... You may want to check this one out as well.  (Wonder if any teachers will read this blog?  We'll see...)  A classic that retells the classics.  Adventure, excitement, history, and a team of flesh-eating horses.

What more could you ask for?



Drumroll please!

-drumroll starts-

Welcome to... Saint's Reading Report!

What is this, you ask?

Well I, St. Fang of Boredom (Saint), Fanfiction Authoress, have decided I... Need to read more.

With school, work, etc. I've let old hobbies of mine fall to the side.  Mainly, reading and writing.  I don't do as much of either as I used to.  Sad, very sad.

So I made a couple summer goals to try and pick up some old reading and writing habits I've let slide.  One of them was to start a blog which would chronicle every book I read this summer (and possibly beyond) with my personal reviews of each piece of literature.

Hence, this blog.

I have no specific genre or type of book for this blog.  I can read anything.  Kids books, young adult fiction, biographies, romance novels (heh), anything.  As long as I'm reading.  I'd also like to update this once a week, though it's probably a long shot.

Oh, and you never know, Fang might pop in and say something!

Fang: ...Something.

Me: And everyone say hi to Fang, a kidnapped fictional character made famous by the Maximum Ride series!

Fang: -eyeroll-

Me: Who isn't feeling very talkative. -.- Anyway, let's get this show on the road, huh?  I've got some reviews to post!

-Saint and Fang