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The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller – Review

Achilles is a legendary hero. Patroculus is a prince who is a disgrace to his family. After one accident leave Patroculus an outcast he is forced to find his way in a new world. Achilles is looking to make his name known and for someone to understand him. Together they begin an epic love story that can only end in tragedy.

“He said what he meant; he was puzzled if you did not. Some people might mistaken this for simplicity. But is it not a sort of genius to cut always to the heart?”

Pg. 44

I read Circe by Madeline Miller a few years ago and adored it. I loved the way she brought a little known myth to life. I loved the way I was captured by this story. I knew that I had to eventually read Song of Achilles as well.

I think the first thing that impressed me is that I was so enthralled by the story even though I knew how it ended. While I am not as versed in the Troy story and Achilles as I am in other mythology stories, I did know the way this story went. I am not someone who enjoys knowing the ending of a book while I am reading. I like the surprise and the suspense. I like not knowing if someone is going to make it or not.

The reason I liked this book so much was the way Miller was able to give so much life to both Achilles and Patroculus. Both of them were deep and well rounded characters. I felt connected to both of them right away. Patroculus was lost and looking for purpose. Achilles was looking to matter and for someone to care enough about him to help him. I loved the way they played off one another.

I also liked that they were distinctly different characters. I was afraid at first that Patrolculus was going to be forced to be a solider even though that was not his skill set. I was afraid I was going to read about a reluctant solider and constant battles where he was trying to hide and survive. Instead we see them find their distinct paths and find a way to be themselves while also being with each other.

The love story was done really well. I thought the way they connected and fell in love with each other was great. I liked that it wasn’t instant. It was an understanding and a friendship that became more. I also liked that there was no long discussion trying to determine what they were to one another, if they should be together or not. They realized they loved each other and life went on. I loved that.

I also found it interesting that Miller didn’t use the normal aspects of Achille’s story. There was no River Styx and invincibility. He was strong and a half-god but the rest made him more human. I liked playing with the myth. My favorite mythology stories play with the myths and make them new and fresh and I though that was done really well in this book.

“This is what all mortals ask first, in disbelief, shock, fear. Is there no exception for me?”

pg. 166

I think the middle got a little dragged down. Once they get to Troy there were 10 years to play with and not much happens. You know they have to build up to the end but there is a lot of back and forth that gets a little tiresome.

I also was a little thrown off by Achilles attitude to a certain incident in the second half of the book. He was always a bit pompous but I felt like he acted too bratty during that portion. I felt like he fell into this type of person he was supposed to be instead do the person he truly was. I did like that Patroculus pointed it out and showed the reader that Achilles was acting out of character

“Whichever you choose, you are wrong.”

pg. 299

There was nothing that truly threw me out of the book and put me in a spot where I hated what was happening. I didn’t get lost in the story at all, didn’t think anyone was way out of character. I read through the story quite quickly and highly enjoyed it.

I gave this book five stars because in the end I loved the story, the characters and the love story. It just all worked so well and gave me new appreciation for a story I know.

“What is admired in one generation is abhorred in another.”

pg. 363

Search for Senna (Everworld Book #1) – K.A. Applegate – Review

imagesOne minute four strangers are standing on the bank of a lake. They are all watching a girl they know by name, but don’t truly know. The next moment they are pulled along with her into another universe. A universe where gods rule, giant wolves chase you down and nothing is impossible. Now the search is one to find Senna and return to their real lives.

 

 

 

 

 

What I Loved_-4

I was in love with this series when I was in high school. I read it over and over again. I loved the concept but I mostly remember loving the characters and the dialogue.

The dialogue was my main pull to this series. It was one of the first times I remember hearing characters that sounded real, like people I met every day.

I recently finished reading Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman and I kept thinking of this series as I read it. I remembered this series uses all kinds of mythology and I found myself wanting to re-read these books again.

I was worried. Worried that the magic would disappear from these books. As someone who is almost 30 I thought I would not be able to relate to the characters. I thought I would feel like it was clunky or not well written. I wondered if this was a series I should just leave on my shelf for nostalgia purposes.

I am glad I began reading it again. In this first book I felt the same love I did when I was 16. I love the characters. They still feel real to me. They still talk like teenagers talk. There is no forced dialogue or weird sounding sentences. Too many times teenagers are written to sound like adults and that always annoys me. Here they use jargon, they makes stupid jokes and they all sound different.

I found myself liking David’s character more in this book too. I don’t remember liking him much before. Now I see his point of view better. He doesn’t want to live in a world that dictates every move. Much like myself he has serious problems with the pre-planned life that so many people seem to think you need to live by. He doesn’t want to do the path of graduate, job, marriage then kids. He wants something different and new.

I also noticed in this reading that there are much deeper storylines then I picked up on before. In this book were get hints of abuse in David’s life. I didn’t realize how dark this series was. I am curious to see how it progresses and how I pick up on how these elements shape him throughout the story.

I remember this series making use of a lot of different mythologies and legends. I am eager to see how they play together now that I know more about them. I like in this one that I understood the Norse mythology references. I think I will have a deeper appreciation for this world now that I have more knowledge about the source material.

What I was just okay with
The sentences in this book are quite short. Many of them are one or two words long. I am okay with the sometimes but I do feel like it may be overused here. It works when the character is in panic mode. But it isn’t necessary all the time. I think it slows things down a little bit too much.

I also noticed there are a lot of things mentioned that date this book. David talks about Blockbuster and Borders. It doesn’t harm the story at all. It just is interesting because I don’t feel like this is happening now. I know this was the past even if there is no date and time associated with the story. Just an interesting idea to think about the way things can date a story or change the timeline even if you don’t mean for them too.

What I Wished was Different_
As of this book I don’t have anything that is really throwing me out of the story. I still feel connected to the characters. I understand the world and I am still eager to continue on with this adventure even though I know how it ends.

I did take my rating down from 5 to 4 stars on Goodreads for this book. It is fun and exciting but I do think I am not as connected to it as I was when I was younger.

Copy of What I was just okay with

“But being scared was one thing. That was normal. How you acted once you were scared – that’s what mattered.” (pg. 33)

“‘Maybe dreams aren’t in your head. Maybe dreams are memories of another universe.'” (pg. 144)

Use of Fairy Tales Vs. Mythology in Once Upon a Time

tumblr_static_once-upon-a-timeI love fairy tales for a few reasons. First of all, I love that they have lasted over centuries of storytelling. They are stories that almost everyone knows, in some form or another. They are tales that have created characters that have lasted throughout the ages. They are tales that give us a glimpse into a life long ago while also allowing us to mold them to our present day lives. Many are basic stories that have grown over time. I also love the lessons they tend to leave behind, again lessons that grow as time goes on.

I also adore mythology as well. To me, mythology is very similar to fairytales. They both are stories full of fantastic elements, that take the reader or listener on an epic journey. They are also a great way of understanding what life was like in the distant past. Mythology gives us a glimpse how ancient peoples lived and ran their lives. They are also stories that again, can change and grow with time. Today we envision them in so many different ways. We can recreate them to fit our lives and fit our modern times.

Once Upon a Time is one of my favorite shows because of how they have taken some classic tales and breathed new life into them. They started the series by re-telling some of the classic tales; Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, and a number of others. The show started simply. The first season was just establishing the characters and how they all fit together. One of the best parts of this show is that all the tales do fit together in some manner.

Over the course of the show, many of the stories have taken on a life of their own. Snow White, a character I never put much thought into, grew into a character I understand and admire. I know that these are just their reimagining of these stories but they have given me a new way to look at tales that I have always loved. Characters that at times seemed very one dimensional; such as The Evil Queen, have gotten so much depth to them. Regina is not just The Evil Queen, she is a woman who has made wrong choices in her life and is striving to turn her life around. She is the epitome of the struggle between good and evil and how the fight is never over.

I have always admired the way the creators have taken inspiration from the originals of the classics. They don’t base their stories off the Disney versions. They are not afraid to take a character we thought we should always hate and make them grow into a character we love; such as Captain Hook.

I remember when they were going to introduce Elsa and Anna from Frozen to the series how worried I was. I was worried that they were jumping on a bandwagon and were going to lose the intricate story-telling they had used for so long. I was scared it was just going to be a re-telling of the Frozen story, which would have been a major disappointment.

I was pleasantly surprised to see them take elements of the Frozen movie and connect the original story of The Snow Queen into the story. Frozen is inspired by The Snow Queen but makes little reference to the original story. Once Upon a Time actually integrated The Snow Queen herself into the story, along with some great story elements such as the shards of ice entering the eyes and changing the characters. I loved that they were able to take these two stories and created a new one that was intriguing and fun to watch.

Once-Upon-a-Time-5x13-Labor-of-Love-Title-card-with-graves-in-the-UnderworldThey have always a done a great job of re-telling the fairytale stories (there are a few exceptions of them dropping a few story lines but in general they do a great job) which was why I was very excited to see them bring in the concept of The Underworld and Mythology into the show. Unfortunately, I was disappointed by how they did it.

First, I did like how they portrayed The Underworld. In mythology, The Underworld is not Hell. It is much as it was portrayed in the show, an in-between spot. It is a place to take care of any unfinished business and then move on. It is not a horrible place to be. It is more like a purgatory.

The show did a good job at making it clear that it was not Hell. The characters could move on to a “better place,” or a “worse place.” We get to infer for ourselves what that meant. I liked that element.

What disappointed me most about the storyline was the lack of character development for Hades. In mythology, Hades is not a horrible person. When the lots were drawn for the universe Hades got The Underworld. It was not a punishment. He was not angry or being doomed. That is just what he got.

Over time society has vilified Hades because he resided over the land of the dead. We are scared of death and what it means and what comes after. Because of that fear we have made it so that Hades is a scary entity. He is equated with the devil. Our fear of death has created a villain out of him.

In the show, they worked with that idea, which was fine. What I was disappointed about was that we didn’t get to see him grow at all. All of our other villains, we have seen them change over time. We always gotten their backstories and we have gotten to see how they became the villain in the first place. Usually, there is some trauma that has created this person we have before us. We got none of that with Hades.

We never got to see why he was cursed by Zeus. We got a sentence about it, something about Zeus being scared of Hades’s want for power. Which is fine but in this show we are used to getting so much more. We are used to seeing our characters have depth, Hades lacked that.

I was disappointed because there was so much potential with the mythology storylines. We saw Hercules for an episode and we saw Zesus for half a second. That was all. I expected to get much more. With the plethora of material that was available to play with and expand it could have been very interesting to see it all develop and mix with the fairytales.

Now I know they may not have wanted to stray too far from the fairytales and get lost in this new storytelling. The issue is they are running out of fairy tales. They need to be able to move the stories forward without pushing the limits too much. The new “Land of Lost Stories,” may be teetering on the edge. I think they could have done a lot with the mythology and integrating the two together. Mythology is a form of fairytales (at least to me) and I think it could have been very interesting to see how these two forms of storytelling combined with one another.

I still love this show. I am interested to see where they can go from this point. I was just hoping to get a lot more from the mythology storylines than we got. There was potential there that was not realized as I was hoping it would be.

Once Upon a Time X Challenge

out10ishere300I found this challenge through Michelle, Books and Movies Addict while reading through her TBR post. She mentioned it and the title instantly intrigued me.

The challenge is hosted by Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Here is a summary of the event:

                  Monday, March 21st (my wife Mary’s birthday) marks the official start date of the tenth              annual Once Upon a Time Challenge. This is a reading and viewing and gaming event that encompasses four broad categories: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology, including the seemingly countless sub-genres and blending of genres that fall within this spectrum. The challenge continues through June 21st and allows for very minor (1 book only) participation as well as more immersion depending on your reading/viewing/gaming whims.

out10journey-600x256There are a number of different ways to participate. Since this is the first time I am participating I am going to go with The Journey option. This option only asks that you read at least one book in one of the categories, Fairy Tale, Folklore, Fantasy and Mythology. Since these are the main genres that I love, I am sure this will be easy for me. But I didn’t want to commit to more in case something came up.

There are a handful of books I am planning on reading coming up that are Fantasy. After I finish The Lunar chronicles (which would fit the fairytale part, but since I started it before the challenge started I am not using it), I plan on reading the newest Cassandra Clare, Lady Midnight, which starts a new series. I also plan on reading Veiled Souls by Abbie Chandler. And I am sure before June 21st there were will be a few more that I will read.

out10screen-600x256I am also participating in the Quest on Screen as well. One of my favorite shows is called, Once Upon a Time, kind of good fit if you ask me. For the challenge, I think after the season finale, I will write up a post about the way fairytales and mythology is handled on the show.

First Review was for the book Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare.

Second Review was for the book The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith.

Review for Quest on Screen: Use of Fairy Tales Vs. Mythology in Once Upon a Time. 

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