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The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune

TEAM GREEKS

Jason Grace finds himself in a field trip to the Grand Canyon with his “girlfriend” Piper McLean and “best friend”  Leo Valdez. Unfortunately, he does not recall both of them or where and why is he there in the first place.  Suddenly attacked by monsters which captured their guardian satyr Coach Gleeson,  Annabeth arrives to save the three teenagers and transport them to Camp Half-Blood.  The mystery deepens as the three newcomers get claimed by their respective parent god; Piper is the daughter of Aphrodite; Leo is the son of Hephaestus; and Jason Grace had previously been claimed by Jupiter, Zeus’s Roman persona. Chiron tells Jason that he should be dead but explains no more.  Complicating matters, Hera has been captured by unknown forces bent on waking Gaea, the goddess of the earth. The three demigods rush into a quest to save Hera. Unknown to both Jason and Leo, Piper wrestles loyalty and betrayal to her friends as she was initially visited in her dreams by Enceladus, who demanded that she deliver Jason Grace in exchange for her father. Encountering unhelpful gods and popular Greek personalities along the way, the three just arrive in time before the giant Porphyrion gets raised from Tartarus, and finally solve the mystery of who really is Jason Grace.

TEAM ROMANS

Percy Jackson, Son of Neptune, finds himself in Camp Jupiter after being chased by Gorgons. The monsters seem unable to die and kept coming back.  His arrival raised suspicions among the Romans.  Unlikely patrons, Juno and Mars, apparently vouched for the demigod to lead a quest to free the death god, Thanatos; prevent Alcyoneus’s horde of giants from attacking the Roman camp; and then lull Gaea back to slumber. Aided by friends Hazel (daughter of Hades) and Frank (son of Mars), Percy leads his team to Alaska where the gods have no power.  Percy’s friends discover little by little the meanings of their tragedies and attributes as they surge on to their goal. meanwhile, Percy gets his memory back after foiling Phineas in a deadly gamble.  As they get closer to Alaska, Percy receives hazy pictures from Grover, Tyson, Annabeth, and three other demigods, who have been searching for him for months.  After defeating Alcyoneus and freeing Thanatos, celebrations in Camp Jupiter was cut short with the arrival of their mortal enemy, the Greeks.  Reyna, the praetor, is put in an sticky situation on whether to attack their sworn enemies or accept them as allies to fight Gaea.  The two camps now face the question: will they be able to trust each other work alongside each other at all?

For those who haven’t read these books, I advise you to read it simultaneously.  It was good fortune I read The Lost Hero right just after The Son of Neptune came out.  Excellent timing because I could have tore my hair  out just thinking of what happened to Percy Jackson.

The Lost Hero was a bit alien to me, maybe because the focus is on the new characters.  Even with the familiarity of Camp Half-Blood and its inhabitants, I felt lost like Annabeth because I also missed Percy Jackson. Percy, though not in the book, was often discussed and alluded to and I felt like wringing a tree or banging my head just thinking where on earth was he.  Of  the three new characters, I liked Leo because of his McGyver-ish/ Inspector Gadget capabilities. Piper and Jason Grace didn’t make much of an impact to me because I feel like looking at a prom queen and king. Yes there were funny moments, but mostly it felt more like high school with the bickering and popularity thing going on in the Aphrodite cabin and the lovey-dovey angle between Jason and Piper. I guess if you put a daughter of the goddess of love in the plot, it can’t be helped. Thank God for Leo, because he supplied the humor and the action. He is one cool dude. As for the damsel in distress of the story, like everybody else in this series, I don’t like Hera. So like Annabeth, I don’t feel the need saving her. Unfortunately, the fate of the world’s existence depended on it. So grudgingly I had to say “okay, let’s go along with this.”

When I finally moved on to The Son of Neptune, the first pages did not disappoint. I wanted Percy Jackson in all his glory and yes, I got it. With gorgons on the side.  But what made this book better than The Lost Hero was the other two demigods – Hazel and Frank. Maybe it’s because their parents, Hades and Mars, are both difficult and unlikeable characters in the mythologies, and they presented more complications to their children. Sharing a blood line to these two gods seems a curse.  Hazel’s situation was particularly interesting as a daughter of Hades because she controls the riches of the earth. Her powers sound wonderful yet it’s actually more of a tragedy – it made her life more miserable.  On the other hand, Frank’s mysterious family history will make you wonder. His powers comes out near the very end of the book (and I agree with Percy when he complained) because it is so cool.  Then there is of course the one who needed saving – Thanatos. The idea of not saving Death is tempting, but as you read along you have to agree there is a need for death – unless you want the monsters coming back at you after blowing them up to smithereens.  Percy understood this pretty much after the constant pestering he got from the gorgon, Stheno (samples of Cheese n’ Wieners, anyone?).  I like the premise. Aside from our major characters,  there are extras like the adorably funny, Ella the Harpy, and cameo appearance of Nico Di Angelo, son of Hades.

There was one scene in the book I particularly love:  Nico puts his finger on his lips and all the ghosts shut up. So cool.

I hope Mr. Riordan’s next book comes out soon.  The ending was a cliffhanger.

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in Rick Riordan

 

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Bilbo Baggins life  changes when the wizard, Gandalf the Grey tapped on his door one morning.  Wanting to be left in peace, the poor hobbit found himself in a quest.  Thirteen dwarves  and several dangers later (orcs, Gollum, spiders, and wolves),  Bilbo faces the great dragon, Smaug, who’s been terrorizing the town of Dale.  Will he be able to crawl back to his hole in the Shire after this encounter?

YES, he will. Because three books followed after this!

This is the prequel to Lord of the Rings. If you haven’t read it, well, YOU SHOULD.

Postscript:

Attention Shire-folks!

It has come to our attention that The Hobbit will be released on December 14, 2012. You can now come out of your holes and gather at the tree on The Hill at Bag-End and start the countdown. I can’t promise cakes or tea. It’s going to be a long wait before the party begins. Anyone from The Green Dragon at Bywater is welcome to donate their ale.

Sacksville-Bagginses not allowed.

For the younglings who don’t know whatever we geeks are talking about here,  watch the official trailer or click the link to the official site for more news:

The Official Trailer for The Hobbit Movie. The Hobbit movies news and information via Official Hobbit Trailer Released!.

PSS:

According to my sources, this will be the 1st part of the movie. They (Peter Jackson and company) divided the movie into two parts:

Part One: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey (2012)

Part Two: The Hobbit There And Back Again (2013)

To all LOTR geeks everywhere! Cheers!

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2011 in JRR Tolkien, Middle Earth

 

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You Have To Stop This – Pseudonymous Bosch (Strikes Again)

I know I haven’t been too responsible with this blog for quite some time.

But this prompted me to climb out of the hole I was buried under (there was a huge rock blocking the entrance/exit, it took me sometime to dig out of it) :

How the hell did this happen?! It’s exactly 21 days since the book came out and I just ACCIDENTALLY discovered this? Where was the media coverage on this? I haven’t even finished investigating  THIS ISN’T WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE  and now this comes out?!

If there’s someone who needs to be stopped it should be PB himself!

Mr. Bosch, YOU HAVE TO STOP THIS.

You are causing too much distraction to everybody (not the just kids), with your amusing, demented, and well-plotted dramystery/mysteryma (whatever) of a girl who could not be named Cassandra in the first place.

I’ll be watching you!

http://thenameofthiswebsiteissecret.com/home

 
 

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The Place Where The Hobbits Run Free

If you’re an LOTR geek (like me), then you have been waiting for the movie version of The Hobbit for quite some time now. The precious movie adaptation have seen directorial changes and production stoppages you’d wonder if it will grace the silver screen at all.

But I’m not here to complain about that. (Though sometimes I feel like it).

Days ago I was watching the Breaking News in CNN. My heart stopped when I saw the images of crumbling buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand.  A 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck that part of the country costing some people their lives and injuring the rest.

I’ve always had a soft spot for New Zealand.  NZ is my Middle Earth personified (thanks to the LOTR movies).  Visiting the country is in my bucket list. It’s one of the future pilgrimages I plan to take. Pictures of the country is tattooed in my brain, accessed when I zone out to go to my place of Zen. It’s the place where the hobbit in me runs free.

With so many books piled up in my to read corner floor, my hands ventured to the shelves instead. I picked up and re-read J.R.R. Tolkien’s works.  NZ’s countryside was the backdrop for the scenes played out in my imagination.

“….  in a hole in a ground somewhere in NZ lived a hobbit.”

Help if you can. Prayers work wonders too. God bless NZ.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2011 in JRR Tolkien

 

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Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

His name is Percy Jackson. And he is a half-blood.

If you don’t know what that  is, it just means the person is dyslexic and suffers from A.D.H.D. He or she possesses strange talents one cannot explain. Moreover,  half of his or her genes comes from a god. An Olympian god.

This revelation came in quite late for Percy.  Aside from the above-mentioned “afflictions,”  Percy is hunted down by creatures of mythology best left for nightmares. Finding refuge in Dionysius’s Camp Half-Blood, Percy trains for a quest to save the world from the warring gods. His Herculean tasks are to find Zeus’s master lightning bolt (which he allegedly stole), catch the  real lightning thief,  decipher the riddles of the Oracle, and save his mother from Hades. All of that to be accomplished in 10 days. Then he has yet to face his father-god, who abandoned him and his mother.  Sometimes, one could only wish that the strange would just stay shut inside a book.

Honestly, I thought this would suck rocks. I’ve read and watched too many Greek-inspired stuff that it made me quite lukewarm to the material.  When I read this book a day ago, I wasn’t expecting much. That was until I found myself stuck on my chair. This book is a page-turner. I devoured this like I haven’t eaten for days and a magical buffet suddenly appeared in the middle of the desert.  After a few short butt-aching hours, I had to run to the bookstore to get the next books of the series. It’s that addictive!

Rick Riordan is a great storyteller. He takes in the old, mashes it up with the new, twists it with humor, and voila! A Greek mythology of his own. It takes an imagination to revisit old tales and create life from its embers.  I specially love how he modernized his gods – Dionysius the Camp Director, Ares a Harley biker, Poseidon sort of a surfer guy, and Hades an overwhelmed landlord. It cracks me up.  His heroes – Percy, Grover, Annabeth – are fantastic. I like how he made them as outcasts because they become more real and hilarious.  The story can be quite predictable in a few chapters as it touches on several of the tales of old Greek mythology, but who cares!?! It’s a fun read! (Don’t get me started with the chapter titles – intriguing if you’re starting to read it, laugh out loud afterwards.)

This is definitely a wonderful re-discovery of old Greek. And a new frenzied adventure worth following.

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2010 in Rick Riordan

 

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This Book Is Not Good For You

This is the third installment of the the Secret Series.  I had to skip reviewing the 2nd book (If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late) because it WAS indeed too late for me  (… I had to sign THE CONTRACT, the gall of Mr. Bosch!).  After THAT experience, I developed a skill counting backwards.

Anyway, we follow the pursuits of Cass and Max-Ernest.  This time trouble came a-knocking on Cass’s life when her mom gets kidnapped by Senor Hugo, a chocolatier in league with the Midnight Sun.  In exchange for Cass’s mom, Senor Hugo wants a magical instrument called the Tuning Fork.  Joined by Max-Ernest and their new friend, Yo-Yoji,  Cass plans a daring rescue. Will she be able to collect her mother from the vile hands of Ms. Mauvais and Dr. L?  Read on and find out if that bite of dark chocolatey gooey-ness is worth it.

The book promises to crash diets everywhere.  True enough, my chocolate consumption increased by 30% due to the chocolate recipes found in the appendix of this demonic piece of literature. As expected it was better than the 1st and the 2nd book. Probably because we already know who the characters are (thus diminishing the need for pages of introduction) and the author was able to move the story forward (backward if you’re basing on the 2nd book).  I love that the so-named “Cass” (HE said he’s not giving REAL data, so Cass is 100% not her name) is growing up before my eyes and discovering who she is through her past and through her family and her friends. “Max-Ernest” goes through advanced puberty thanks to “Yo-Yoji,” and probably had  fun being Sanse for awhile (See book 2 to know about Yo-Yoji and start at page 316 of book 3 to understand what I’m talking about). The villains roster also got interesting with the participation of the “Senor Hugo,”  a chef who specializes in the devilry of chocolate cuisine (just shows what kind of religion Mr. Bosch practices).   Notable performances in the book:

“Ms. Mauvais” for her performance as a NUN.

“The Skelton Sisters” for being who they are.

“Yo-Yoji” for turning Japanese.

And “Owen,” for having multi-personality disorder.

Though this book is not good for most of us, it can be quite handy as a travelling tool (Translation of “HELLO” in 100 different languages – friendly!).  But still be warned, do not read after midnight. Recipes will cause excessive binging and craving. Nigella Lawson would be jealous (or maybe not).

PS: For those trying to find out who Mr. Bosch is – you’re in the wrong place. I don’t know him either. I suggest you go attend a chocolate convention or bait him with a dark chocolate sale  (70% discount – That’ll get him out of hiding.)  I read somewhere though that Lemony Snickett and Pseudonymous Bosch can be brothers or is the same person. They share the same publisher, you can start there. Pretend to be someone from the IRS. They might start talking, hehehe.

 

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Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone (Revisited)

I’m am quite certain most people know who Harry Potter is.  I’m also certain that you know him well enough than your classmate seated on your left, or your co-worker on the right cubicle, or the neighbor at the end of the street, or maybe the man who delivers the milk in the morning. Unless you live in the boondocks, under the sea, or maybe off this planet.

It would be time-wasting to write Harry’s biography and it would even be more futile to write a review.  We know what he is and what happened to him in the end, and yes, we all love him.  If you don’t, there is something seriously wrong with you.

On June 30th 2010, Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone celebrates its 13th year of publication. I know I’m six months early but just for fun, I’ve decided to revisit our favorite wizard by re-reading the series. I’m gonna post some things that crossed my mind while Harry was in his first year in Hogwarts.

I recall when I first stepped off from the world of Muggles, the place that captivated me the most was Diagon Alley. Maybe it’s the inherent female-shopping gene kicking in (but strangely I don’t really shop that much in real life), or probably just the out-of-this-world coolness of the stuff that’s been sold in that place that attracted me (Yes, robes are sexy.  LOL!).  So I made a shopping list of the 10 things I’d like to buy in Diagon Alley if there would be a crack in the space-time-reality-fantasy continuum.  (Some things listed are not necessarily mentioned in the series, but given the chance, maybe it could exist in Harry Potter’s world!)

10 Things I’d Like to Buy in Diagon Alley

1. The trendy witch hand bag. Like a bottomless pit, you can fill it in with all your knick knacks without worrying about space or weight.

2. Rita Skeeter’s notepad. Very handy for dictations.

3. The wizard’s version of a camera. Wouldn’t it be cool if your pictures are moving? 🙂

4. Self-stirring cauldron (or pot). Saves time and effort on cooking.  If there’s a self-frying frying pan that’s sure not to burn what you’re cooking, everybody will be gourmet chefs!

5.  Rememberall. Very handy for people who forget names or places .. like me!

6. Nimbus 2000 broom. Your hybrid’s got nothing on this baby. It’s greener with zero carbon emissions.  Saves 1/4 of your life by reducing time spent on mind-numbing traffic, and its parking space is just a closet.  Also, you can probably use it in manual cleaning activities too.

7. Love potion. Self-explanatory.:-D

8. Wizard’s Tent. Making your outdoor travel comfy.  If I have a tent like what they have, I probably wouldn’t buy a house anymore.

9. An Owl. Yes, we have real owls here on Earth, but these owls in Harry’s world seem smarter than dogs. Plus they make sure all your correspondence reach the person, they’re more reliable than e-mail (Mailer Daemon error blah blah).  And I think they’re good pets as well.

10.  Skele-Gro. I can now attempt all the stupid sports I’d like to try without worrying about breaking my bones … I just have to make sure though I won’t get killed or this thing will be useless.

 
 

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