East

Image result for east edith pattouFirst Lines: I found the box in the attic of an old farmhouse in Norway.  It was large, the size of a footlocker, and there were markings on it; runes, I learned later.

I believe I was a sophomore in college when one of my good friends recommended this book to me after we’d spent some time wandering the library together.  I respected her recommendation enough to put it on my to-read list…but that cover.  That didn’t look like something I wanted to read.

Rose has always been different from her family.  They want her to be meek and settled, but Rose is anything but.  She longs for adventure.  So when an enormous white bear shows up at her door asking for Rose to come away with him in exchange for helping her family prosper, she agrees.  Rose travels a long way from home on the back of the bear and soon starts to get adjusted to her new home in a castle in the cliffs.  But things are not what they seem and as Rose’s curiosity gets the best of her, bad things begin to happen.

I did rather enjoy this. I heard it had kind of a Beauty and the Beast feel to it, which it does in the first half (though I would argue it’s almost identical to the myth of Cupid and Psyche), even though it’s based on a Norwegian story. I did think the whole trolls angle was pretty weird, but it kinda worked for the story.

I liked Rose’s adventurous spirit. She never let anything scare her away from what she wanted and that was admirable. She was strong, clever, and interesting. And white bear was interesting as well, though I felt like we never really got to know him or really much about his circumstances.

I don’t normally say this, but I actually liked that the story was told from so many different perspectives. Rose, her brother Neddy, Father, White Bear, Troll Queen. All of them added a little something to the story. I felt like it gave the story depth to know what was going on in different places than just wherever Rose was.

It was cute. It’s not necessarily something I would have picked up without a recommendation from someone who really knew my reading tastes, but I enjoyed it.

American Gods, Season 1

Image result for american gods season 1Hello everyone!  I found this at the library a few weeks ago and, being bored, I thought it might be a show worth watching.  I have not read the book, but I’m a fan of mythology and the idea of modernizing it, mixing these old gods with today’s world sounded fascinating.

Shadow Moon is a man with a dark past.  Now, his ultimate goal is to live a quiet life with his wife.  But when he gets word that his wife has died, his life is thrown into chaos.  As he flies home for the funeral, he meets the mysterious “Mr. Wednesday” who seems to know more about Shadow than he should.  Mr. Wednesday is insistent that something is coming and he needs Shadow to help him.  From this moment on, Shadow’s life will never be the same.

Oh my gosh, I don’t even know where to start with this.  This was fantastic.  I’m actually terrified to read the book now because I don’t know how it can possibly be better than the show.  The show is that good.

Being a STARZ show, this is definitely meant for *much* older viewers.  Profanity, nudity, and more abound.  There were moments when things happened that I didn’t even feel like I was old enough to be watching it.  And I don’t know about anyone else, but I would have been highly uncomfortable watching this show with another person.  It’s….graphic.

But let me tell you, the story is wonderfully told.  Even though the story isn’t exclusively told from Shadow’s perspective, we basically only know as much as he does the whole time.  So when weird things happen, we don’t understand it either.  When something shocking happens, we’re as shocked as he is.  There’s this air of mystery the entire show where you know enough to have a general idea but not enough to know everything until the end.  I loved that, the slow unravel of the story as we got to know the characters better.

The story is told from multiple perspectives, and by multiple, I mean probably close to a dozen when all is said and done.  There are 2 episodes of the 8 that completely take you out of the main narrative to explain something that happened in the past to show how we got to this point.  I actually really enjoyed those episodes.  But also, at the beginning of most episodes, we get a little bit of a look at the lives of people as they came to America (Norsemen, slaves, Hispanics, etc.) and the gods they believed in.

Ah, there’s still so much I want to say and I don’t want to forget anything!

Ok, characters/actors.  Look, these actors are phenomenal.  Particularly the guy (Ricky Whittle) playing Shadow.  He comes off as cold and aloof a lot of the time, but I always felt like even though he seemed so stoic, I knew exactly what he was thinking and feeling.  That’s impressive.  I was also a fan of Ian McShane as Mr. Wednesday and Pablo Schreiber as Mad Sweeney.  Emily Browning, who plays Laura, is so good as well.  The stuff she has to act through…man, there’s no prep for that.  And she played it so well.

This show really allows all of the characters to have their own quirks.  Mr. Wednesday is definitely quirky and sarcastic while Shadow is, as I said, kind of stoic.  But he’s also slow to make decisions and thoughtful about what he’s seeing around him, no matter how incredible it is.  Laura is selfish and completely self-centered to the point of cruelty.  Mad Sweeney is hilariously unlucky and there’s far more to him than meets the eye.  I loved watching all of these characters evolve throughout the story.

Social commentary.  There was so much about this that felt timely and politically charged.  (I was about to change my wording of “politically” but then I remembered about 4 different scenes that actually do seem political, so I’m leaving it.)  Some of it was horrifying, some of it was eye-opening, so of it was simply human nature.  All of it was relatable.  I thought it was fascinating, though admittedly there were a few that made me squirm or were just hard to watch because of how well it matches what’s on the news.

I really enjoyed this show.  I would have been able to post this a week ago except halfway through watching the show, someone put the DVD on hold and I had to return it for a time.  That was a long week, not being able to watch the final 3 episodes.

I was always into it.  And I was usually yelling at the TV too, like this:

Image result for mel b what just happened gif

I don’t normally watch dramas, but this was so much better than anything I’ve seen in a long time and I can’t wait to see Season 2.  It’s getting crazy up in here.

Slay (Freya, #2)

Image result for slay matthew laurenceFirst lines: The lava hasn’t even cooled yet.

We interrupt our dour doom-and-gloom post of yesterday to bring you something light and fluffy: a marshmallow!  I joke.  But really, this book is light and funny that it can blast away pretty much any bad mood.  So what did I think of it?  Let’s find out.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

After Freya escaped from the Finemdi Corporation, she journeys to Hollywood with her friend/high priest Nathan and Egyptian goddess bestie Sekhmet.  Again, Freya disguises herself as Sara Vanadi, an up-and-coming actress on a television show.  She desperately needs followers because each worshiper she has gives her more of the power she had when the Norse gods ruled.  But her enemies aren’t done with her yet.  Freya needs to walk a fine line between goddess and mortal.  Because if she loses her humanity, who will save the world?

The first book in this series bowled me over. I mean, it was sassy and action-packed, absurd and so much fun.

This book really isn’t any different in those respects, but I struggled with it. Part of it probably had nothing to do with the book. It was a book hangover from finishing a different series and while I thought I wanted something completely different from what I had just finished, apparently that was not the case.

But part of it, I think, was the book. It’s hard to put my finger on what exactly it was, but I’m going to try.

Ok, so Freya/Sara is still as sarcastic and kick-butt as ever. She will grind you into dust and examine her nails as she does so and it’sawesome. But I think part of what was weird about this book was that Sara was so unsure about herself. And I get that it’s not a bad thing to have flaws (she has plenty in other respects, like being pretty impulsive and morally iffy in some of her actions), but the self-consciousness was odd. I mean, we pretty much never saw her question herself in any respect in the first book and then about a quarter into this one, she suddenly starts feeling unsure about a lot. It was an odd tone for her to take.

I will say that one of my complaints about the first book was fixed this time around. I thought Nathan felt like a flat character last time, but that was definitely not the case this time around. I appreciated that. And getting to know other characters, like Sekhmet. She’s an interesting one.

The action’s also not as fast as it was in the last one. Last time, we were getting introduced to Norse mythology (if you weren’t well-versed in it anyway), figuring out just what exactly Finemdi wanted, and discovering Freya’s character. This time, it just felt slower. Sara decides she’s going to be a movie star for all the idolization, but every step of her journey was mentioned. Her spa days, her shopping sprees, her magicking her way to the top. In the reality TV-soaked world that we live in, I thought we may not have needed all of the details. I saw in a way why they were there, but it slowed the pace.

I will say that the end was quite adventurous. It took a very huge risk and I thought it paid off. That was gutsy and I respected that. I’m interested to see where that goes from there.

It’s so not a bad story. I’m still very invested in the story. Just the wrong book at the wrong time, I think.

Freya (Freya, #1)

Image result for freya matthew laurenceFirst Lines: I live in a mental hospital.  I’m not actually crazy; I just like it here.  The Inward Care Center has a lot going for it.  They give you clean clothes and neat slippers, feed you, and protect you, and nobody questions the bizarre.

Ok, so this was a book I had never heard of before.  I was walking through my library and thanks to The Last Kingdom, I’m more interested in Norse Mythology now.  A book about Freya?  I was willing to try it.  And let’s not forget to mention that this cover is absolutely awesome.  I love the bright colors, graffiti, and the absolute sass rolling off that model.  If the book was anything like the cover, I was in.

Sara Vanadi is more than she appears.  In her hey-day, she was Freya, goddess of love, beauty, war, and death.  But because of the direction the modern world has taken, she’s largely forgotten.  Believers are hard to come by, which really sucks when your power comes from believers.  She’s been laying low for decades when a corporation comes to her with a deal: join us and receive power and believers–or refuse and die.  It’s a tough decision for Sara to make, so she chooses neither and escapes with her new friend, Nathan.  With the power of humans growing so greatly that they are determined to control the divine, Sara knows she needs to fight back.  But first she needs real clothes.

I vastly enjoyed that. It was funny and exciting and suspenseful and interesting.

Sara and the other gods are delightfully flawed, but I’ll speak about Sara since she’s the main character. So even though (or perhaps because) she’s a goddess, she’s got a lot of flaws. She’s short-sighted, vengeful, impatient, and brutal toward enemies. But she’s also witty, clever, and able to analyze a situation from multiple angles in seconds. You really do start to like her from the very beginning despite her flaws. And it was actually fun to read about a character who was that flawed and really didn’t care. She wasn’t ever really questioning her decisions. If she made a mistake, she shrugged it off and kept going. It was kind of awesome.

Also, she’s incredibly sassy.  I adore that in characters, and this was great.  Her wit and cleverness really come out in her sass.

My one qualm with this book was her pal, Nathan. For being a main character, he is decidedly one-dimensional. I mean, even the villains feel almost three-dimensional but her best friend is flat? What kind of sense does that make? Nathan was a window dressing in this story, there for good looks and when Sara needed him. That was about it. I wish he’d had more of a role, or at least that we could see more about him.

The plot/premise is absolutely ridiculous and I loved every second of it. I mean, there’s an agency that collects old gods and goddesses? Ok, sure. Sara wants to go into hiding from them? Totally get that survival feeling. So where does Sara go to hide? Disney World. It’s just fantastic and so so funny.  And it makes some wicked good sense the whole time.  I loved the absurd feeling of the whole thing.

The action is definitely worth it. There are excellent fight scenes, there’s a lot of espionage and intrigue, and there’s a lot of set-up early on to stuff to come later and you just know it’s going to be good. I stayed up late to finish this book because I started getting to the really good stuff just before midnight. When there’s that much action, you can’t just put it down and pick it up tomorrow. That ruins the fun.

Anyway, this was absolutely delightful. I really enjoyed this.  And I’m really looking forward to the sequel, which promises to be equally ridiculous, and really, there are some days when you just need that complete lack of rationality.