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.

Please leave comments and follow if you like this article.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book review - Olympia Heights by Amy Leigh Strickland

Recommended for: Die Hard Greek Mythology fans
Rating: 3 Stars - Liked but cannot recommend

The first thing that attracted me to this book was the cover. I first want to say how all the covers in this series are really well done. The colors make them pop, and the artwork is well done. I do know that they took pictures of models against a green screen and photo shopped it. You may want to check out the books just to look at the covers.

After having just read “Pantheons,” I did get a strong feeling of “didn’t I just read this?” I am finding that many modern day stories centering on mythology involve a group of children/teenagers grouped together in a school. In this story, the school is called Olympia Heights and the kids are not direct descendants of the gods, but reincarnations of the gods themselves. I have to say the way they come to this conclusion and their complete lack of skepticism is remarkable.

The plot revolves around a series of arson that happens around town and the teenagers, referring to themselves as “The Pantheon,” take it upon themselves to investigate and stop the occurrences because they have special abilities.
The main character Zach, who is the reincarnation of Zeus, (see what the author did there) is nicknamed lighting because he is struck by lightning at a football game. He also can conjure lightning whenever he wants. He also tends to cheat on his girlfriend, who happens to be the reincarnation of Hera.

The best aspect of the story is the filler in between the chapters. Strickland gives brief retellings of the traditional Greek myths we learned in school. They are interesting retellings. You do need at least a basic knowledge of Greek mythology to understand them though.

My overall disappointment with the story is based on the plot however. Yes, these are the Greek gods going up against the Titans again. I should be expecting that. The problem is that the plot feels like an afterthought or just an excuse to end the story. Most of the time, you are learning about the individual members of the Pantheon. They give clues as to which god they are and you have to decipher who they are. Again, if you do not at least have a basic knowledge of Greek mythology you could be lost easily.

Overall, this is not a bad story. I did enjoy reading it. I cannot give it my recommendation though. If you have a good knowledge of Greek mythology and really like anything having to do with it, then you will probably like this. If you are merely a fan of fantasy or urban fantasy, there are better stories for you. If you want to learn about Greek mythology this is not your story.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Movies better than their books

We have all heard it. “The book is always better than the movie,” or “The movie just left too much out.” To be honest I do agree with this sentiment. The vast majority of the time, the movie fails to capture the essence of the film, leaves to many important things out, or just plain disappoints. Sometimes they are disrespectful enough to just take the title and have nothing to do with the story.

However, despite what some people will tell you, there are instances when the movie does exceed the book. These are rare I will admit, but they do exist. When I tell people this, I always get the same reaction: give me one example. Therefore, I decided to write this blog to give people the examples I have come across in my lifetime.

A little background first. They are in no particular order. I could not do this as a top ten list because well, I could not really think of ten. (I do believe I said these were rare instances.) In all instances, I have at least read the book, or seen the movie. In most cases I did both.

So hear they are in no particular order:

The Wizard of Oz

Let’s be honest. Sometimes Hollywood does cut out the right parts. The original story by Frank Baum was a great children’s story in its day but it missed the mark in many ways. It was just one big conglomerate of Dorothy and friends having a bunch of adventures that made little to no sense. The witch was only a minor character in the book rather than the main antagonist and there was a lot of unnecessary filler.
The movie on the other hand is a timeless classic. It is a lot more focused due to the need to keep it under two hours. The witch is a much better antagonist than any villain in the book is. The movie is memorable and has spawned some of the most memorable songs in movies. “Over the rainbow,” and “Follow the Yellow brick road” are two good examples. I do not know too many people who read the book. I do not know anybody who has not seen the movie.


The ironic thing about this choice is that so many things went wrong in the making of this movie it was a wonder it got finished let alone become the cultural icon that it did. The best example was the shark itself. The production team had so much trouble getting the thing to work that they could not show it for most of the movie. What was the result? The suspense of not seeing the shark made the movie even scarier, which is what the movie was going for.
What’s the first thing you think of when you hear Jaws? The first thing that pops into my mind is that music. You know what I’m talking about. Let’s see you swim in the ocean after listening to that for ten minutes.
The book got off track by actually introducing a love triangle. Now I’m not here to spew venom at the concept of love triangles. If done right, and put into a story that it can enhance rather than derail, it can work. It does not work when your title is Jaws. It’s about the shark people. All this thing does is swim, eats, and makes little sharks…

The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

I know I may catch heat for this one, but keep in mind this is my blog. I tried to read this series, honestly. I could not get past the heavy-handed writing style, the useless characters, and the feeling that the main characters did not want to be in the story, not just the situation mind you, the story itself.
Peter Jackson in my mind did brilliantly. Not only did he manage to bring this saga to life beautifully, but also he was innovative in ways to save money. He shot all three films at once, reducing the cost and keeping the audience’s attention easier by allowing them to come out in three consecutive years. After the movie came out, everyone was quoting Golem. There’s one thing you cannot say about the books.

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

This time I am not talking about the series as a whole but just this one book. I have seen several adaptations of this story. I can clearly say that the 2005 movie was my favorite. The characters looked good, they captured all the important parts of the story, and the battle scenes were just epic. I know people have an aversion to C.G.I., but you have to admit a phoenix bursting into flame midair and leaving a wall of flame, cutting off the enemy army is pretty cool.
The book, while charming and well written was written for small children. While there is nothing wrong with a children’s story, it does not have the mass appeal of the movie. When I read the book, I never got the feeling of the epic battles, the opposing armies facing each other, or anything that would make it bigger than it was. Overall, the movie has much more appeal to it.


Those of you who read my review of the book may remember my sentiments about this book. For the rest of you here is the nutshell: The story belongs in a museum. Only authors and English majors should read this, and the rest of you just watch the movie. Now I have experience both versions of this story and I know they did not follow the book to the letter. In fact, they added a couple twists that pretty much altered the essence of the story. In my opinion, this is usually and insult, but not this time.
Not only do I like the alterations of the story, but also how it is told. I can get over the old language used in the book but personally, I don’t see why Beowulf has to keep bringing up the fact that he killed Grendel throughout the entire book. Yes, that is what he is best known for, but the entire event barely takes up a whole page. Moreover, he has things more important ahead of him. You have to kill his mother now. Get over yourself!

The Song of Ice and Fire series, a.k.a The Game of Thrones

Yes I know that this is not a movie and really a series on HBO but let’s not worry about semantics shall we? Anyway, the book suffers from the same problems as the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Martin is excessively heavy handed and he puts in more detail and history than the human mind can consume at one time. The story is very compelling, and most of the characters are well done and well thought out. There is just too much to sift through to get to that though. At the time I’m writing this I am listening to Storm of Swords on audio book and I have come to Joffrey’s wedding feast. I keep saying aloud “I get it there was a lot of food. Can we please get to the point of this chapter?”
The series concentrates on what is important: the stories, the characters, and how the petty struggles of the powerful are played out. Martin himself actually writes the screenplay for the show. It’s amazing to think that despite the book’s size he had to add elements to the story just to fill ten episodes. Most books that size could easily fill twenty if you put everything in. This destroys the most common argument of books being better than movies: you find out more from the book.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Wow, now I’m really stepping in it. I know the die-hard fans of the books think the movies cut out too much, or change to many things and on all the other movies I agree with them. With Phoenix, however I thought they managed to cut out the parts not needed and enhance what should have been the best parts of the book. I have to defend the fifth book to many people mainly because of Harry’s attitude. I guess they were turned off by the teenage angst. The movie shows this but Harry gets over it much quicker.
The one moment where the movie shines bright, enough to blind the book is the attack on the department of mysteries. In the book, you did get the feeling that the wizards were dueling each other and there was a confrontation between Voldemort and Dumbledore. The way the movie brought this to life though was epic. In the book, Voldemort and Dumbledore spent most of the duel trading banter. Voldemort tried to kill him with Avaracadavra a few times which Dumbledore managed to block with a few well-placed rocks and a sacrifice by his pet phoenix. In the movie all the stops were pulled out. Voldemort summoned a giant snake made of fire. Dumbledore tried to drown him with a globe of water. I was in awe when I saw that duel. That was what a battle between the two greatest wizards on the planet should look like.

I’m sure that there are other examples I could have put on this list, but for the time they have alluded me. Feel free to comment if you can think of any examples yourself.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Modern Disciples Lost Volumes announcement!

I am pleased to announce that I have added an addition to my Modern Disciples series. The Lost Volumes will be a series of short stories that will give insight to things that happen in the world of Modern Disciples, but do not follow the same story line as the novels.

The first story entitled Deidre is about a woman who is placed in an asylum by her father. Later, when she is discovered to be pregnant, her doctor investigates to try to discover not only who the father is, but the secrete to the hallucinations Deidre has been having.

When I first started the series, I only intended doing the novels. As I write them, I find it difficult to put everything I want into them. There are parts of the characters backgrounds I cannot go into for the sake of time and book size. With these extra volumes, I can give my current readers a more extensive background on the characters they know and introduce some new ones.
These stories will only be available as 99 cent downloads for Kindle. If you need the Kindle app to read them click here.

If you already have the app, you can click here to go straight to the story on