Tag Archives: mythology

Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes

O’Brien, Cory. Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes: A No-Bullshit Guide to World Mythology (2013). Perigee Trade. 304 Pages. $10.92

tumblr_ncowy3sgun1sokmcuo5_r1_1280From Goodreads:

All our lives, we’ve been fed watered-down, PC versions of the classic myths. In reality, mythology is more screwed up than a schizophrenic shaman doing hits of unidentified. Wait, it all makes sense now. In Zeus Grants Stupid Wishes, Cory O’Brien, creator of Myths RETOLD!, sets the stories straight. These are rude, crude, totally sacred texts told the way they were meant to be told: loudly, and with lots of four-letter words. Skeptical? Here are just a few gems to consider:

  • Zeus once stuffed an unborn fetus inside his thigh to save its life after he exploded its mother by being too good in bed.
  • The entire Egyptian universe was saved because Sekhmet just got too hammered to keep murdering everyone.
  • The Hindu universe is run by a married couple who only stop murdering in order to throw sweet dance parties… on the corpses of their enemies.
  • The Norse goddess Freyja once consented to a four-dwarf gangbang in exchange for one shiny necklace.

And there’s more dysfunctional goodness where that came from.

First Lines

Introduction

(Or the Part of This Book You Can Safely Tear Out If You Need to Make It Slightly Lighter for Some Reason)

‘Sup guys.

Here is a book I wrote, and I hope you enjoy it.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, General Fiction, Humor

Warped

Guibord, Maurissa. Warped (2011). 352 Pages. Delacorte Books. $10.39

From Goodreads

Tessa doesn’t believe in magic. Or Fate. But there’s something weird about the dusty unicorn tapestry she discovers in a box of old books. She finds the creature woven within it compelling and frightening. After the tapestry comes into her possession, Tessa experiences dreams of the past and scenes from a brutal hunt that she herself participated in. When she accidentally pulls a thread from the tapestry, Tessa releases a terrible centuries old secret. She also meets William de Chaucy, an irresistible 16th-century nobleman. His fate is as inextricably tied to the tapestry as Tessa’s own. Together, they must correct the wrongs of the past. But then the Fates step in, making a tangled mess of Tessa’s life. Now everyone she loves will be destroyed unless Tessa does their bidding and defeats a cruel and crafty ancient enemy.

First Lines

Cheever’s Fine Auction House was packed on a stormy spring afternoon. The auctioneer’s voice carried over the patter of rain drumming on the high, dark-beamed roof of the former dairy barn. “Number ninety-four. Last lot,” he announced to the crowd.

“Thank God,” said Tessa Brody under her breath. She’d been sitting there so long, she’d probably have an impression of the chair slats engraved on her rear end. Auction butt. Not good.

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fantasy, Historical Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

I am Tama, Lucky Cat

Heinrichs, Wendy & Yoshiko Jaeggi (illustrator). I Am Tama, Lucky Cat: A Japanese Legend (2011). 32 Pages. Peachtree Publishers. $16.95

This review is pre-release. It is due out August 1, 2011.

When I joined NetGalley.com, I spent ages scouring the books, looking for those which looked interesting. Luckily for me, I found I am Tama, Lucky Cat, fairly quickly. I am big on mythology from around the world– especially Japanese, as I was an East Asian Studies minor– so I was excited to get to see this book early*.

The Story:

Tama the Calico– and therefore Lucky– cat went in search of shelter. She was lucky enough to find a caring monk in a worn down temple. To gain entrance, she sat in front of the doorway with her paw held up in traditional maneki neko pose. She brings happiness to the monk, and one day brings him luck as her beckoning saves a wandering lord. He becomes the patron of her temple, and everyone’s luck improves.

The Illustrations:

The illustrations were well balanced to the story, with soft colors and nice composition. It is the sort of storybook which is mellow enough to make good bedtime reading.

Thoughts:

I’m always excited to see children’s books exploring mythology, especially when they do it well. With lovely illustrations, and simple-but-effective vocabulary, this book manages to convey the story in a way which kids will relate to. In the back of the book is a brief note with some information on the legend, including speculation as to which temple and which lord the legend may be about.

I’ll give this one a solid 4/5; I really liked it, and was impressed, though I was not completely blown away.

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* Disclosure: I received my copy free from the publisher through NetGalley.com

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Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fairy Tales Retold

Stork

Delsol, Wendy. Stork (2010). 357 Pages. Candlewick. $15.99

I was seriously impressed by this book. It manages to simultaneously be about a stereotypical fashion-obsessed California girl, a small Minnesota town, and old Icelandic mythology. Not a lot of books can pull that off, especially not debut novels. If you liked Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, I think it’s likely you’ll also like Stork.

From the Cover

Moving from LA to nowhere Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Katla Leblanc expected the local fashion scene to be frozen in time. What she didn’t expect was induction into the Icelandic Stork Society, an ancient order of women charged with a unique mystical duty. Not only is Katla the youngest member, but Hulda, the society’s omen-guided leader, immediately bestows the coveted Second Chair on her– a decision that ruffles a few feathers.

As if that weren’t enough, Katla also has to deal with her parent’s divorce and the social aftermath of a bad date with popular but creepy Wade. Katla, however, isn’t one to sit on her designer-jean-clad behind, and soon she’s assigned the fashion column for the school paper and making new friends.

Things would be looking up if it weren’t for editor in chief Jack. Even though they argue every time they meet, Katla is inexplicably drawn to him. Juggling her home life, school, and Stork duties, will Katla be able to unravel the mystery surrounding Jack? More importantly, will she find a dress in time for Homecoming?

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Filed under Book Review, Contemporary Romance, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

Zombies vs Unicorns (Anthology)

Black, Holly & Justine Larbalestier (ed) Zombies Vs Unicorns (2010). 415 Pages. Simon & Schuster. $16.99

The thing which actually made me want to read this anthology was Diana Peterfreund’s addition “The Care and Feeding of your Baby Killer Unicorn,” which is set in the same universe as Rampant. However, I am glad I took the time to read this, since I enjoyed almost every story in the book (at least on some level.)

The offerings are mixed, but are all labeled as either “Team Zombie” or “Team Unicorn,” with only one (I think) that has both zombies and unicorns. Additionally, the top corners of the pages are also marked by either a Zombie or Unicorn logo, making quick-scans for specific stories easy. A few of them were sweet, one or two romantic, and a couple actually bleak. I’m glad I took the time to read this, though.

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Filed under Book Review, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Paranormal Romance, Romance, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction

The Outlaws of Sherwood

McKinley, Robin. The Outlaws of Sherwood (2003 ed.). 342 Pages. Firebird. $6.99

From the Back Cover

He never meant to be an outlaw. But a split second changed everything.

In the days of King Richard the Lionheart, a young forester named Robin sets out one morning for the Nottingham Fair, but he never arrives. By the end of the day a man lies dead in the King’s Forest, and Robin is an outlaw with a price on his head.

From then on, Robin is on the run, hiding deep in Sherwood Forest– but he is not alone. First joined by his friends Much and Marian, then by more and more people who despise the Norman lords who tax them blind, Robin builds a community of outlaws in a forest who risk the gallows and the sword for the sake of justice. As he does, he gains a new name: Robin Hood.

First Lines

A small vagrant breeze came from nowhere and barely flicked the feather tips as the arrow sped on its way. It shivered in its flight, and fell, a little off course– just enough that the arrow missed the slender tree it was aimed at, and struck tiredly and low into the bole of another tree, twenty paces beyond the mark.

Robin sighed and dropped his bow. There were some people, he thought, who not only could shoot accurately– if the breeze hadn’t disturbed it, that last arrow would have flown true– but seemed to know when and where to expect small vagrant breezes, and to allow for them. He was not a bad archer, but his father had been a splendid one, and he was his father’s only child.

Thoughts

Robin Hood is a legend who changes with every telling. Every version has its own agenda, its own twists, and its own characterization. Some even throw in their own characters, to spice things up, and make it novel again. McKinley’s Robin Hood is a different sort; an unwilling champion, who becomes infamous simply by surviving, and becomes a legend by accident. He inherits an agenda from the beliefs of his fans, and this is what makes him so different.

Robin and Marian may be one of my earliest ships. It started with Disney’s Robin Hood, when you knew they were destined for each other, because they were both foxes, and continued through every version I’ve read since. Robin loves Marian, though he never says as much to anyone, and wants her to stay safe, even if it means staying away. Marian loves Robin, and persists with her visits because she cannot help herself, because she knows she is needed, and because she longs for the freedom the forest offers.

Perhaps my favorite plot which is unique to this version is that of Cecil– a boy who refuses to be stopped by anything. He becomes Little John’s protégé, dogging his mentor’s footsteps, and learning about survival. Cecil and Little John become very important toward the end of the book, when they are the only members of Robin’s band to attend the fateful tournament for the golden arrow. Every version does this scene differently, and it’s the sort of constant which allows comparisons between interpretations. This particular tournament is done well, and serves as a sort of climax to the novel.

All-in-all, I really like this version. I have not re-read it many times, because I read it very slowly. I am not sure why it takes me so much longer, but it is worth the time it takes. It gets a 4/5.

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Filed under Adult Fiction, Book Review, Fairy Tales Retold, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Historical Romance, Young Adult Fiction

Pegasus

McKinley, Robin. Pegasus (Nov 2, 2010). 404 Pages. Putnam. $18.99

Once upon a time, humans forged an alliance with Pegasi (who are not winged horses), to share a beautiful, fertile land. Generations later, this alliance is still upheld in practice through the binding of the two royal families. Princess Sylviianel is the youngest of her family, and the last to get bound to her pegasus.

Princess Sylvi, who has never enjoyed the spotlight, finds herself at the center of everything, when it turns out that she can speak to Ebon without the aid of a translator. Their bond is deep from the moment they first meet, but there is a chance that it will threaten everything.

First Lines:

Because she was a princess she had a pegasus.

This had been a part of the treaty between the pegasi and the human invaders nearly a thousand years ago, shortly after humans had first struggled through the mountain passes beyond the wild lands and discovered a beautiful green country they knew immediately they wanted to live in.

Thoughts:

I’ve been waiting for Pegasus since it was first mentioned as a story which had grown too long to be part of the Air anthology. I’ve been waiting, and reading snippets, and longing for the day it would come out, and even when I was warned that it would end in a cliffhanger, I knew that I would devour it when it came out, because I have never read a McKinley book I did not love.

The cliffhanger killed me, by the way.

This book was beautiful and brilliant and heartwarming and heartwrenching and everything I had hoped for and more. Sylvi and Ebon’s relationship is so beautiful and perfectly written that I could not put the book down. It is clear from the beginning who the Bad Guy will be, though he is not the only bad thing going on. It is clear from the fact that it is about royalty that there will be political turmoil. There are so many things which are so important which are hinted at, but never quite explained.

I was not surprised when I got to the last page. I had sort of expected its direction from about the middle of the book, and there is this sense of something big looming on the horizon. And then it was the last page, and I just wanted more, but the rest will have to wait, because “Pegasus II” as it is currently called is still a part of the distant future.

This book certainly calls for the same thing most McKinley books call for– patience. She takes the time to build her worlds, so the adventure is that much more thrilling, because it is grounded in a solid world. Her characters never fall flat, because in such a real world, they could not be anything less than real themselves. However, sometimes several chapters may be devoted to the beginning, which can seem slow to many, but man, it’s so worth it.

For being so brilliant, this volume gets a 5/5. (I would give it a 6, but that might set a bad precedent…) Despite the agony of the cliffhanger, it is good that the story was not forced into a single volume, and was rather split, in order to do it proper justice.

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