Monday, August 19, 2013

Classics Review- Antigone

(Cover from GoodReads)
"Ismene, dear sister
You would think we had already suffered enough
For the curse on Oedipus:
I cannot imagine any grief
That you and I have not gone through. And now-
Have they told you of the new decree of our King Creon?"
-Opening Line

Book: Antigone
Author: Sophocles
Translator: Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald
Genre: Tragedy
Published: 1966
Medium Read In: Paperback
Pages: 53

Rating (Scaled 1-10): 8

Why I'm Reading It: I had to read "Oedipus Rex" and "Antigone" as two of my summer reads. Surprisingly, I didn't have to read "Oedipus at Colonus." However, I will eventually be reading that play to provide a full review of all three of Sophocles' plays in the Oedipus Cycle.

Summary: The sons of Oedipus have been warring over the city of Thebes, their father's kingdom. Upon their deaths, their uncle and new king Creon announces that one shall receive a full military burial with honors while the other brother shall lay in ruin and rot in the field of battle. Antigone, their sister, decides to bury her brother and give him honor and respect out of her love for him.

Review: Again, I will point out it is slightly hard to present a review of a classic Greek play such as "Antigone," specifically because most people read them for analysis and not so much for enjoyment. This play presented a decent storyline and some lovely monologues, much like its predecessor. It was a good read, and I would recommend reading it.

I really liked Antigone's character. While she is foolish, headstrong, and brash, she also is very honorable and loyal to those she loves. Antigone, throughout the entirety of the play, sticks to the things she believes in, and in my opinion that is one of the best character traits out there. She knows that helping her brother have a proper burial could lead to her own death, but she doesn't care. She loves her brothers equally and thinks both of them should get what they deserve.

Overall, "Antigone" was an enjoyable read. However, I will say that I preferred "Oedipus Rex" to "Antigone." "Oedipus Rex" played out almost like a mystery. Despite the fact that I knew what was going on in the play, I still felt as if I were learning something new. The plot there flowed in a really good way, like it actually would have happened there.

With "Antigone," I didn't feel as if the plot flowed quite as well. I mostly say this because her betrothal to Haemon isn't even mentioned until a few scenes into the play. With something so short, I would have preferred to know about the marriage-plans from the beginning. I did enjoy "Antigone" and it was a nice finish to the story begun in its predecessors in the Cycle.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Stacking the Shelves [2]

(Cover from Goodreads)
The haul this week is pretty small, but I'm still really excited to share the new additions to my shelves! 

I've briefly mentioned being a huge fan of Stewart Lewis' You Have Seven Messages. I was amazingly excited when he came out with another teen contemporary, The Secret Ingredient. I was even more excited when I won an ARC in a Random Buzzers giveaway. I have a super long reading list right now, so I'm going to have to wait a bit before I get to read and review this book. I'm so happy to get to, though. 

The cover is very summery and wonderful, and I love the model's outfit. Plus, the summary of the novel makes it sound so interesting. It's pretty much about a girl who grew up in Los Angeles with two gay dads. She really likes to cook, and she goes on this soul-searching type of journey to find out about her birth mother and more about herself. I can't wait to start reading!!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Classics Review- Oedipus Rex

(Cover from GoodReads)
"My children, generations of the living
In the lines of Kadmos, nursed at his ancient hearth:
Why have you strewn yourselves before these altars
In supplication, with your boughs and garlands?"
-Opening Line

Book: Oedipus Rex
Author: Sophocles
Translation: Dudley Fitts and Robert Fitzgerald
Genre: Tragedy
Published: 1966
Medium Read In: Paperback
Pages: 78

Rating (Scaled 1-10): 9

Why I'm Reading It: Two words: Summer. Reading. If you can't tell, I really like to read. Yet, like any high school student, I do tend to dread summer homework, mostly because it signals the end of the time period in which I normally get the chance to read endless amounts of books, and I will have to face school once more. I like to read my summer reading towards the end of the season, just so I can get the chance to remember what I read slightly better. I figured I may as well review those books, so here is the first one!

Summary: There is a plague in the city of Thebes, and the king of the city, Oedipus, tries to reason why the city has been struck. During the play, Oedipus finds out about his past and the horrific truth of it.

Review:  This was my first time ever reading any of the Greek tragedies, and I will say I was pleasantly surprised. I was expecting something quite boring and hard to read. I really liked "The Illiad" when I read it as few years ago. Some may argue that was a tragedy, but minus a few deaths I didn't really think it was tragic per se… Anyway, I was glad that Sophocles ended up not been a boring playwright, and I enjoyed the experience.

The language flows really well, and the story presented emotion in a few words. The soliloquies fit well, and gave a good insight into the various different characters that gave the monologues. I really liked some of the various monologues, my favorite being the Second Messenger's part. The speech managed to take the reader to the part of the story where they were meant to, despite not being present and only have Iocaste's actions recounted to them.

I will admit that it is sort of hard to rate the classics. I don't want to bore anyone with any essay-type analysis of the plot, as I certainly wouldn't want to read any of that in a book/play review. I am a firm believer in reading a book before seeing the movie version, and I think that this sort of echoes that. While I knew the plot before hand because of studies in Greek mythology, the play definitely expanded my appreciation for the play.

I have plans to see it if it comes to any of my local high school theaters soon, and at the very least I will be viewing the play from one of the accounts it is posted to on YouTube. It opened up the ideas I have had on the story of Oedipus for quite some time, and helped me to understand the characters better. Anyone who is seeking a better understanding of the Greeks, their myths, or who just is looking to read a good play will enjoy "Oedipus Rex," and hopefully it will open your mind as well as it did mine.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

YA Review and Giveaway- The Lost Sun

(Cover from Goodreads)
"My mom used to say that in the United States of Asgard, you can feel the moments when the threads of destiny knot together, to push you or pull you or crush you. But only if you're paying attention."
-Opening Line

Book: The Lost Sun
Author: Tessa Gratton
Genre: Alternate Universe/Fantasy/Adventure/Romance
Published: Random House 2013
Medium Read In: ARC from Random Buzzers Ambuzzador Program
Pages: 350

Rating (Scaled 1-10): 10

Why I'm Reading It: As previously mentioned, I am currently an Ambuzzador for Random Buzzers. I got an ARC for The Lost Sun after I was accepted into the program, and got the chance to read the book. I requested to represent this book because the title was intriguing, the cover was pretty, and I've always wanted to learn more about the Norse gods.

Summary: In a world populated by the Norse gods of old, a teenage boy, Soren, sets out on a journey with one of his classmates, a seeress named Astrid, to rescue a missing god. Their cross-country search for Baldur takes them across the country as they face gods, warriors, trolls and more to find their destiny and return the sun god home.

Review: So I can't get enough of this book. I've actually re-read it so I could write a proper review. The plot, characters, and world of this story really pulled me in, and its a great book to share with everyone. I really can't say how much I loved it, honestly.

I loved Astrid. She was probably my favorite character of all of them. She had a certain quirkiness about her that reminded me a bit of me, and I absolutely loved it. Besides that, she's a seer, which is pretty awesome. In their world, this pretty much means she can sort of see the future and use the powers of the goddess she has sworn to, Freya, to do all sorts of mystic things. Considering some more recent female leads in YA, she had a lot of character and I really felt she was a strong character. Astrid wasn't just there for Soren to look at.

In the same vein, I also really liked Soren. He had a lot of complex emotions, and he spent a good part of the book grappling with those emotions. They weren't just "Oh, Edward doesn't love me" emotions, either. Because of the actions of his father (he was a Berserker who went on a killing rampage in a mall when Soren was a child), Soren doesn't want to accept his destiny as a Berserker, one of Odin's warriors who can "berserk" and become super-fighters. Despite being in a fantasy world, Soren's emotions came across with an amazing realness on the page and made him a very endearing narrator.

I know from experience with my own writing that it can be pretty hard to properly capture the mind and voice of a teenage male narrator, but Gratton managed to very well. His emotions lent a realness to the story, while also grounding him as his own character. And on the same topic of his voice, the way the Norse mythology was tucked into the story didn't seem forced or condescending. The gods were decently explained, and I didn't feel the need to Google anything to understand the story better.

When you have a male narrator, and a world imbibed mythology of some kinds, I feel like it's sort of inevitable to hear Percy Jackson comparisons. I am a huge fan of Percy Jackson, so I was filled with a little anxiety that this would be a really bad rip off of the series. However, there are some major differences that separate the two, and make the newer one an entirely different story with only the same background as the other novel.

First off, in comparison to Percy, Soren is sort of ignoring his past, almost as if he is running away from it. The two characters are both different from one another, and so having two very dissimilar narrators really sets the two stories apart. The main difference is probably that in Soren's world, the gods are acknowledged by (nearly) all to be real. If you've read Percy Jackson, you'll know that the gods are not at all public figures in our society. The world of the United States of Asgard is really and truly a Norse world, and so it separates the two.

I really loved this book, and am proud to say it is the first novel to be officially inducted onto the Shelf. I was really glad to read it, and very happy at how it turned out. If there was any fault I could find in it, it would merely be the fact that I would have liked a little bit more action. However, the action that was in the novel was well written and fit the plot very well. I much prefer that over random action sequences with no real relevance, so in all this book was amazing and did not fail to please.

A Final Note
And now, for the Giveaway!!!

I have a very pretty ARC of The Lost Sun, available for one of you lucky people. Now, there are a few criteria:

  1. US only please!
  2. You must follow Cloud 9 Shelf.
  3. You must actually want to read the book!

For following the blog, you get one entry. If you comment below about why you want to read The Lost Sun, you can get a second one. If you follow @tessagratton on twitter and leave your username, you can get another one. And finally, if you tweet about the giveaway with a link to Cloud 9 Shelf, you can get an extra entry! (For these, please comment the link to your tweet). 

Well, I hope you get excited about entering!! The giveaway will be open for two weeks, and then I will be contacting the winner via their email about getting their awesome new book!! If you can't wait to start reading it, you can always get it here. Good luck, and as always, happy reading!

(This Giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered!!)
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