What is Your Greatest Weakness?/Percy Jackson Series/Gods and Goddesses

percy jacksonI am officially only five books away from my goal of 40 books in 2018 and I can taste victory!  I wonder if I should give myself a laurel wreath crown when I’m done? lol

I absolutely adore this series.  I read the first book back in grad school for a mental break.  I was so surprised how quickly I read through it.  For a young adult series, a genre I hadn’t read in a while, it was pretty dope.

If you don’t have any idea who or what I’m talking about, I’ll give you the lay of the land.  First, our main character is Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old with dyslexia and behavioral issues.  He befriends outcasts like his best friend, Grover Underwood, a weird kid who wears a baseball cap over his ears and walks with a limp.  Percy, in a fascinating turn of events, learns he is a half-blood (half god, half human).  It comes as quite a shock when he learns his best friend is a satyr (half goat, half human) with hooves and everything!  In addition, his mother has known everything all along and has been protecting him from monsters that would very much like to kill him.

While processing all of this, Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood to be safe while he learns useful skills (like how to stay alive!), learns where he came from, why he exists, and who his father really is.  He meets a pretty blonde girl with gray eyes named Annabeth, the camp is run by Cheiron the Centaur (half human, half horse) and he receives a special gift.  It’s a pen that turns into a magical sword named Riptide!  How freakin cool for a 12-year-old boy!  He’s a hero, like Hercules!  Only he’s twelve, living in modern times, and he does not have superhuman strength, but the pen is REALLY cool! lol

I really love that Percy is dyslexic.  The idea of a dyslexic hero is just too perfect to me since my sister has dyslexia and I swear sometimes it seems like a superpower!  In the books, it’s used to explain Percy’s overactive brain and some of his other unique qualities.  In a way, the series turns a handicap (though I don’t even like using that word) into an inner strength.  The writing style is like a journal, where Percy talks right to you and he’s got an adorable sense of humor which again makes for a quick read.  As much as I adore this series as an adult, I can only imagine what I would have thought as a kid.

I love the lessons, or hidden messages if you will, that come within the storyline.  At one point in the series, Percy Jackson learns his greatest weakness, and it’s not what he expected.  Some might think of pride or fear as a weakness, but Percy’s greatest weakness is his unwavering loyalty to his friends.  Now you might think, “That doesn’t sound like a flaw to me!”  However, if an enemy can count on you to do something, it’s a pretty dangerous tool he can use against you.

Countless times, Percy put himself in danger when he had no idea what he was doing or how things would turn out, simply because a friend was in trouble.  When it is first brought to his attention, Percy doesn’t want to admit this fatal flaw, but there’s no denying it.  Time and time again he has rushed, without forethought in harm’s way for the sake of his friends.  Sometimes he even does more harm than good.  Does this mean loyalty is a bad character trait?  No!  What it means (or what it means to me) is that knowing yourself, the good the bad and the ugly, can help you win in life.  We are predictable creatures as humans.  We all have gifts, talents, strengths and yes, we all have flaws.  Yet, when we really know ourselves, when can use this to our advantage.   There’s no use in fighting who we are.  Embrace it and go kick some monster-butt!  lol  Or your Thursday work meeting, whatever! lol  You get the idea.

I am currently on book four of five in the series, and I can definitely see myself finishing it in record time!

If you’re up for an adventure, full of tears, triumphs, magic swords, gods and goddesses this is the series for you.  Don’t be like me.  I thought, “Eh, that’s for kids.  I’m too grown to be reading this young adult cr…..ooooooh he fights Medusa? Coooooool!”  Yeah, go ahead.  Let your bad teenager side out with this one.  Your inner child will thank you. 😉

May the gods go with you.

-Sarah

 

The Land of Dragons and Wizards/Earthsea Series/Ursula Le Guin

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Calm your jets GoT fans and you Harry Potterheads.  We’re not headed to see Daenerys, nor are we on our way to Hogwarts.  However, if you are in morning over finishing either of these popular obsessions, you are sure to enjoy this amazing series by the great Ursula Le Guin.

I have recently fallen back in love with this author due to a friend of mine (Let’s call him Barney) who is a very big fan of fantasy fiction.  I read the first book of the trilogy over a year ago and promptly shared it with my bookclub.  However, for some reason, I didn’t continue with the series.  Have you ever looked back on your life and realized you made a terrible mistake.  Yeah, that’s me now.  *oy*

How did I discover Ursula Le Guin you might ask…well I’m so glad you did!  I discovered her in a movie.  I know, silly but true.  If you have never watched “The Jane Austen Bookclub” you should….immediately…after you finish reading this blogpost, of course.  In the movie, Le Guin is mentioned as an amazing fantasy writer that found a place in the heart of one of the main characters.  The writers and the actor, made her sound so intriguing, I inevitably gave in and ordered the first book.

The tales of dragons, mages, cracks in time, the edge of the earth, with all the missions and fables and folk songs, took me to this whole other world.  I was so happy with the first book, A Wizard of Earthsea I gave it to a friend (Let’s call her Annie)!  Needless to say, it was a fast read, so when Barney mentioned it to me last week, a lightbulb went off in my head.  Fast read…40 books by December 31st, 2018….MUST READ NOW!!!

I have devoured the last two books of the trilogy in less than a week!  Here’s the low down if you’re still aren’t convinced.

A Wizard of Earthsea–First book: A young wizard, named Ged, is cocky and talented.  He believes power is wielded like a sword, powerful and unstoppable.  He tries to do what no wizard has ever done before and he succeeds, only to realize he has put the universe in danger.  His master risks his life to save his student.  Ged learns his true strength by trying to set things right.

The Tombs of Atuan–Second book: A young priestess, named Tenar, proud in her lack of identity as the head priestess of the Tombs of Atuan, lives a dull and boring existence until she is sixteen years old.  She finds and traps a wizard in the labyrinth beneath her temple.  Through her curiosity and courage, she learns who she is and who she is not.  Unfortunately, everything she knows to be true is a lie.  What will she do with her prisoner now?

Still need more….wait for it.

The Farthest Shore–Third book: A young prince, named Arren, is sent with a message to the wizards of old.  He tells of how the power has gone out of all mages and those who used to speak the language of dragons can no longer utter a single word.  The young prince is recruited to accompany a wizard to the ends of the earth to seek, exactly what neither of them knows.  Through enslavement, near-death experiences, and facing down the most powerful dragon of all time, Arren learns the danger of wanting too much from life, magic, and power.  He learns the limits of the powerful, and how eternal life is a double-edged sword.

Yeah, go ahead, let that sit around in your noggin’ for a little while and see if you don’t devour every book this woman has ever written.

Here are some of my favorite themes from the books:

  1. Names are so important.  You are given a name at birth.  However, your parents don’t give you your true name.  A mage gives you your true name.  You must not reveal this name to anyone, unless out of necessity and trust.  Some wizards are so powerful they know your true name by the mere sight of you.  I sometimes wish that we still held on to our Christian names more tightly.  I wish someone had to ask my permission to call me by my first name.  There’s something very romantic about that tradition.  After all, names have power…even today.
  2. Destiny plays a big part in the story of each character.  Everything comes back to what fate decides.  Sometimes things don’t work out exactly as said character would wish, but the truth of their destiny fulfills them more than any alternative path.
  3. There are little nuggets of wisdom in these one-liners throughout the books.  Such as:
    • “It is much easier for men to act than refrain from acting.”  I know this to be true in my own life.
    • Or when a character obtains eternal life in Earthsea, they become zombie-like.  There is no joy for them anymore.  You might see some Circe themes in that portion if you’ve read the book by Madeline Miller. *wink*
    • The last tidbit, “Is a good man, a man with no evil in him?”  We always try to make things so cut and dry, but even the definitions of good and evil, or right and wrong are subjective to mere humans.

Each story is a coming of age story, where a youth learns reality versus fantasy.  (Ironic theme since the genre is fantasy-fiction lol.)  Ged learns the repercussions of his magic.  Tenar learns who she really is by breaking every rule she’s ever known.  Arren learns the folly of thinking that magic can make a man invincible.

I really am enjoying this series and not just because it puts a pretty great dent in my grand reading total for the year 2018!  And guess what!  It’s not over yet!  There are THREE more books!

The next three are a part of The Earthsea Cycle series and I’ve already started on book four!  Tehanu (Earthsea Cycle), Tales from Earthsea, and The Other Wind are waiting for me, so I’ll leave you to dream of dragon tales, wizard staffs, and the fantastic worlds created by the amazing Ursula Le Guin.  Fare thee well, my fellow book-dwellers. *wink*

-Sarah