Saturday, September 27, 2014

Book Tag - The Gods of Asgard

Odin- Odin was the king of the Asgardians, also known as the “All Father.” He sacrificed his eye and hung himself on a tree in order to gain wisdom and knowledge of the future. Choose a character that you think exudes wisdom.
Thor- The god of thunder, Thor was always called upon when the Asgardians were in danger. They once entertained a giant who had invaded their celebration in the hopes of distracting him long enough for Thor to return from his journey so he could deal with the giant. Choose a character that moves the plot along, or you feel the story would go nowhere without.
Freya- Freya was the goddess of women and queen of the Valkyries. She was the most beautiful of all the Asgardians and very sought-after by gods, men, and giants alike. Choose a character that you think epitomizes sexuality or beauty. (male or female).
Loki- As the god of mischief, Loki cause much distress among the Asgardians. He was eventually imprisoned and when he escapes his bonds is destine to bring about Ragnarök, the end of the world. Choose a character that you think should be despised more than he or she actually is, or less than he or she actually is.
Frigga- The wife of Odin, Frigga was very protective of her son Balder. She made every substance known to man swear to never harm him. Balder could not be harmed by anything made of wood, steal, or stone. Tragically, Frigga made no such pact with mistletoe and Balder died from its poison. Choose a mother or father figure draped in tragedy.
Tyr- The god of war, Tyr looked after the giant wolf, Fenrir. When Fenrir became too large the Asgardians chose to bind him. They made a wager with Fenrir to try and break his bond. Fenrir would not agree to the bet unless one of the Asgardians agreed to place his hand inside Fenrir’s mouth. Tyr agreed to place his mouth into Fenrir’s mouth knowing that he would have to sacrifice his hand to ensure success. Choose a character that you think made a great sacrifice for good or bad.
Hella- Hella was the third child of Loki. She died and became the queen of Niflheim, land of the dead. She was a horror to behold, but always fair in her judgments. Choose a character that is not really evil, but creepy or disturbing to you.
Heimdall- Heimdall was the guardian of the rainbow bridge. He was able to see into other worlds Choose a character that seems to know more than he or she lets the readers know.
and always knew when the enemy approached.
Vidar- Vidar was a fierce warrior, and the only Asgardian destined to survive Ragnarök. Choose a character you are really hoping to survive the series he or she is in, or one that already did survive and for which you are glad.
Balder- Balder was beloved by all. His life ended tragically for no other reason than Loki’s petty jealousy. Choose a character who’s death you felt was unnecessary.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Book Review - Control by Lydia Kang

Recommended for: Fans of YA and or Sci-Fi
Rating: 5 Stars Highly recommended

In a future world where genetically altered people are shunned by society to the point of exile, one girl must cope with the loss of one family and the stress of gaining a new one.
Control is another YA novel set in the future, where man has created his own minority. Scientists have been experimenting with human DNA resulting in people with “traits.” These traits are special abilities that include enhanced healing, breathable skin, and slow aging to name a few.

The protagonist is a seventeen-year-old girl named Zelia who moves around a lot with her father and sister. After her father is killed in a car accident, her sister is kidnapped from the hospital. Zelia finds a home with a group of genetically altered teenagers and tries to find a way to get her sister back.

The plot is very fast paced. It arrives in the second chapter and takes a firm grip on you until the very end. The main character Zelia is intelligent, determined, stubborn, and brave. The minor characters include a boy with four arms, another with two heads, and a girl with green skin.

There is also the underlying mystery of who Zelia’s father. How did he know the people that took Zelia’s sister and how does he know her new surrogate family, it is one of the things Zelia learns about in her character development.

While the story is captivating and there are plenty of interesting characters to keep your interest, “Control” does experience some of the typical YA pitfalls. A romance comes dangerously close to becoming a love triangle. Zelia’s love interest is a very typical broody, sarcastic, obnoxious boy that Zelia hates at first despite the fact that she finds him attractive. They fight and fight until her boy admits that he is in love with her and there is a new couple.

Some readers may be turned off a bit by the science that fills the pages. The characters spend a lot of time in labs doing experiments with DNA. It does not get as involved as it could have been. The author Lydia Kang is a physician, so she probably knows much more than she put in. The science is not overwhelming though unless you have a complete phobia of beakers and theoretical physics.

Overall, I would say that this one is worth the read. I look forward to seeing how this story progresses.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Review - Good Intentions by Elliott Kay

Recommended for: Guys!
Rating: 5 Stars – Highly Recommended (with warning)

When I first saw this book, I was intrigued but something about the description on Amazon seemed a bit forced. After the description, it gave the standard warning, but then listed all the things that could possibly offend somebody. It listed everything from nudity, to lesbian sex, to arson, to violence, an entire assortment of sins. I guess I am just a sucker for those kinds of things.

As I started to read it though, something seemed familiar about it, familiar yet improved. The protagonist of the story is a collage freshman named Alex. He is very awkward and slightly clumsy. He meets two women with whom he forms a love triangle. The new world that he is thrown into is both exciting and dangerous. Any of this sound familiar? Yes, this story is “Twilight” for guys!

Now before you let the word twilight turn you off, allow me to explain the nuances and how they are twisted into something awesome! First, let us talk about Alex. He is the Bella of the story. Does that mean he is an unlikeable blank slate? I think blank slate is a strong statement, yet he is a character with whom many male readers can relate. He is awkward, he lacks confidence, and when things start to go well for him he has trouble believing his good fortunes. That is understandable, as I will show you in a bit here. He is a likeable enough character. He treats his friends and lovers with respect and dignity. He has morals. He gets along well with his mother. Most importantly, when the shit goes down, he steps up rather than expecting somebody else to handle things for him.

Now this is like “Twilight,” so there is a love triangle in it. However, it is “Twilight” for guys. In our
rendition, we don’t have love triangles. We have threesomes! Alex’s two girl friends are Lorelei, and Rachael. Lorelei is a succubus, and Rachael is an angel. I will not give away how they meet, but they end up bonded to Alex through magical means.

Lorelei is the Edward of the group. She speaks with a resounding eloquence, and she has an underlying air of danger to her. Unlike Edward though, Lorelei does not want to wait until marriage to have sex with Alex. She encourages Alex to have sex with her, and any woman he wants. She has the power to make him more sexually attractive to do it also. She even goes as far as to brag to others how good he is in bed. What guy would not want a Lorelei in his life? There is a method to her madness though. You will have to read the book to find out what I mean.

Rachel is the proverbial Jacob. She is an angel so she does have the pretense of being the nice and safe girl, but her conduct throws that into the briar patch. She speaks very crassly. She uses vulgarities and prefers to address her fellow angels with “sup bitches!” She is also voyeuristic, watching Alex have sex with Lorelei or whoever he happens to be with. She is his guardian angel though, so that gives her an excuse. :)

Eventually, trouble enters paradise and Alex finds himself on the defense from Vampires, Werewolves, other demons, a demonic lord that wants Lorelei back, and a heavenly council that may
fire Rachael for her involvement with Alex.

One thing that dragged the story down for me was the stories that gave brief looks at Alex’s past lives. They did end up being important to the plot, but I found them a bit too long and they always ended the same so I found myself skipping past them.

I did give the story my five star rating so it is something I recommend everyone should read. However, by this review and the description given where the book is advertised, it should be obvious that this book is not for everyone. No book is, but if you are easily offended, this book will offend you. People describe this book as a guilty pleasure. I would agree with that, if I ever felt guilt about anything in which I take pleasure.

If you are a guy, or if you are a girl who has a guy who will not read, this one is a must read. It is too much fun to pass up.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hunger Games = Minotaur?

A while back, I did a post about the similarities between “The Hunger Games” and “Battle Royale.” Many people have accused Suzanne Collins of “ripping off” “Battle Royale.” I still stand by what I say about it being foolish to think that they do not invite comparison, but “The Hunger Games” is still the better of the two and has plenty to be its own story. As I watch the movies though and read the story, my background in mythology always kicks in for some reason. I see the plight that Katniss goes through, I think of why she is there, why the capitol does what it does, and then draw parallels to another story that is well known and very similar. I think of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur.
“The Hunger Games” is a tournament where youth is recruited to be sacrificed because of a penance that surrounding districts must pay for losing a war to the governing body also known as the capitol. The districts send a young man and woman to die in an arena as a reminder of the capitol’s power.

In the story of the Minotaur, Greece must send seven sons and seven daughters to Crete to be sacrificed as penance for their actions. In some versions of the story, King Minos of Crete sends his son Androgeus to compete in the Pan-Athenian games in Athens. Androgeus does so well in the games that people in Athens become jealous enough to send assassins to kill him. When King Minos finds out about his son’s death, he demands that Greece send Minos the assassins for execution. Nobody knows who the assassins are. Greece pays Minos by sending the entire town.

The other version of the story has Crete defeat Athens in a war. In both versions of the story, Greece must send seven sons and seven daughters to be executed every set number of years. This version of the story mirrors “The Hunger Games.” Some differences come in at this point. The biggest difference being that the seven sons and daughters are to be fed to the Minotaur while the tributes must kill each other until one remains. 

Like most Greek myths, a hero emerges to kill the Minotaur and save the people of Athens. The hero’s name is Theseus. When it comes time to pick the seven sons and daughters, Theseus volunteers to take the place of one of the boys. Wait a minute, he
volunteers? Where have a seen that before?
Both Katniss and Theseus have outside help. Katniss has the help of Haymich and her sponsors, while Theseus gets help from King Minos’ daughter. Both of these assistants give the heroes things they need to aid them in their quest. Theseus gains a ball of string that helps him find his way out of the maze, while Katniss gets burn medicine, food, or anything she may need to stay alive.

One big difference that may still be on your mind is the fact that Theseus has to face a Minotaur, and Katniss does not. While Katniss does not have to face a Minotaur, she does have to face beasts that are hybrids. The Minotaur is a hybrid of a bull and a human. Katniss must face a few different hybrids. The most disturbing of these creatures can only be read about in the books. When there are only a few tributes left, Katniss must not only face the other tributes, but a pack of dogs that have features of the fallen tributes. At one point Katniss wonders if the capitol actually took the eyes from the fallen tributes and placed them in the dogs. This puts a half man half-animal creature in the arena with Katniss.
We also have the symbol of “The Hunger Games,” a bird called a mockingjay. The mockingjay is a hybrid of a mockingbird and a jaberjay, another creation of the capitol. Katniss herself becomes a symbol of the rebellion of the districts later in the story and is referred to as the mockingjay. The Minotaur becomes the symbol of Theseus’ story just as much as the mockingjay symbolizes Katniss’ story.
What this comparison boils down to is a basic fear of war. In both stories, young people are drawn into a situation that means their death. When there is a war, young people are called upon to give their lives. Whether the cause is just or not, the fear of this situation is something we all carry inside of us.

I do not know if Suzanne Collins is a big fan of Greek mythology. I am willing to bet she has a working knowledge of the Minotaur’s story. Whatever the case is, there will be more stories that can be traced back to the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. It is a story that will always remain relevant, not matter how obscure it may seem to people.

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