An Un-Calibrated Centrifuge

My dad once said to me, "You give a lot of books three stars." I do.


Here - Richard McGuire

I found this book through Google. I just wanted an adult comic to read.


It was OK. It only gets two stars though because it's super white. There are Native Americans and black people in them, but other than one appearance in 1777 where two black men carry a bloody sheet (and maybe something more? That time is never revisited...) black people don't exist before 1990 and Native Americans stop existing after 1624. Other non-white people only exist if you read between the lines (like, maybe this ambiguously shaded person isn't white, and maybe the woman with the long dark hair is Asian... maybe).


From what a Google search of the language in the book the Native Americans are Lenape, but I have no idea how accurate the art/depiction of them is.


So the concept is interesting, but the book lost me with the execution.

The Son of Neptune

The Son of Neptune - Rick Riordan

I think it's really rare that the second book in a series is better than the first yet here we are. I don't know if it's because Percy is back in the series or if the adventure was just better or what, but I enjoyed Son of Neptune a lot more than The Lost Hero.


I hope this is the end of the four day journeys to a solstice though. It's a format Riordan has used throughout both series and I'm kind of over it.


On to the notes!

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The Lost Hero

The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1) - Rick Riordan

This book was too long. Seriously. Also Rick Riordan obviously never watched Charmed.


The references in this book were less obvious than in Percy Jackson and the Olympians but that might just be because I'd read those before and I was coming to this series fresh.


Also, this series needs some good Asian characters. Before I started Son of Neptune I actually googled Asian characters of Rick Riordan's because I needed reassurance some were coming... I was not disappointed and that's pretty much the reason I kept with the series. I mean, before Frank the best we had was Annabeth's stepmom who's in the series for all of two seconds.


The Lost Hero continues with this whole "too much" makeup/people who wear makeup are shallow/natural beauty is best bs idea. I'm still not a fan of that.


But I'm glad Riordan finally addresses the use of "half-blood" in the series (forgot to mention that in my PJO reviews... oops).


I also have a lot of thoughts about Piper's dad and his Hollywood career, but they're not organized in my head yet.

The Demigod Files

The Demigod Files - Rick Riordan

I think if I had read the series as it was being released I would have liked this book more. It's filler to tide people over until the last book.


The stories are the best part. The interviews don't add much to the characters, more like they just confirm what we've already been told about everyone. And I was reading a library copy so I skipped over the puzzles at the end (plus the crossword was already done, in pen no less).


I don't think I mentioned this in any of my other reviews, but I find Ares' relationship with his children to be disturbing. I get that he's the god of war but that doesn't have to equal abusive dad, and I feel like that issue is never adequately explored/confronted.


If you love Percy Jackson, it's worth checking this book out just because you do get a couple of extra adventures which are pretty fun.

The Iliad of Homer

The Iliad of Homer - Homer, Richmond Lattimore

The cover of this book looks like Jewels: A Secret History if you're not paying attention. Which I often wasn't, so I kept grabbing this book when I wanted that one.


I spent way too long deciding which translation I would read of The Iliad. Basically just decide if you want prose or poetry and then pick one. I don't think it really matters.* Maybe check the footnotes if you're not reading this as part of a class. But it's probably best read in a class with a professor who knows way more about Homer than I do. Then they could explain Book 23 to me... seriously the whole time I was reading it I was like, I don't understand the Greeks. What is this? 


I will say that the word nipple showed up way more than I expected, and some of the big events I was expecting were glossed over very quickly (basically anything to do with women). I found all the parts where the women were included (goddesses or mortals) to be the most interesting, and I can't believe that's where the poem ends.


I was planning on reading the Odyssey immediately after this, but then I needed a break so that will have to wait until later. I'm going to read the Fitzgerald translation most likely, in case anyone was wondering. But I might go with Fagles because I think that edition has better footnotes. We'll see what's available from the library at the time.


*Although I did read part of Pope's translation, and I couldn't do 24 books of that. Very impressive to think he did the whole thing though.

The Last Olympian

The Last Olympian  - Rick Riordan

Overall this was a satisfying end to the series. There's so much action, and it's so good. The series isn't perfect by any means, but it was definitely worth the reread.


The rest of this post is just a list of rambling notes/questions/observations so it's all going under a cut.


Potential spoilers for all Percy Jackson books from TheLightning Thief to The Last Olympian here.

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The Battle of the Labyrinth

The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 4) - Rick Riordan

I remember this one being my favorite the first time I read the books, but now I'm not quite sure why.


I kind of like that Rachel Elizabeth Dare shows back up. In The Titan's Curse it kind of felt like someone had won a contest to get a character named after them... her appearance was so random. So it's nice that she actually has a part to play. (Like I said in my last review, I completely forgot so much of this series. Whole subplots didn't stick with me at all.)


There was another annoying cliche in the book of women who are naturally beautiful vs women who wear "too much makeup" (see Calypso vs The Sphinx). This idea crops up in a few of Riordan's books and I'm not a fan. It's an annoying, cliched message that just feels like lazy writing.


The use of cripple comes up again in this book. In this case Hephaestus is using it to describe himself, so I'm not quite sure what to make of that. Possibly still ableist usage of the term.


And can we please just kill the description "almond eyes" with fire? Even for non-Asian characters.


Overall, the pacing felt a little strange at times, but the story is good, raising the stakes and leading into the finale.


The Titan's Curse

The Titan's Curse  - Rick Riordan

Wow, I forgot basically everything that happens in this series, but the rereading was great because it was almost like reading it for the first time.


I enjoyed this one so much. It's probably my favorite this time around. I love the Hunters, and the story really starts ramping up. I love all these characters so much parts made me cry.


Also, Mr D is definitely Paul Giamatti’s character from Sideways, yes? I mean, he's excited about Pinot Noir making a comeback and going to stuff someone in a bottle of Merlot…

And thank you Rick Riordan for saying that freeze dried astronaut food is gross. Everyone I know says they loved the stuff as a kid, but it’s actually disgusting.

Onto my favorite from last time!

The Sea of Monsters

The Sea of Monsters  - Rick Riordan

This time around I gave The Lightning Thief an extra star and took one away from Sea of Monsters.


This is a perfectly serviceable sequel. It's just not as good as some of the other books/as good as I remember.


There are some continuity issues between this book and the first one from Mr D’s shirt (tiger print changes to leopard print) to camp food (from mainly healthy Greek fare to anything imaginable) to blue food (honestly, the reasoning behind the blue food changes in every book like Riordan was playing a game of telephone with himself).


I wasn't a fan of the "hula women" tattoos or the centaur with "his face painted like a Comanche warrior"... even if the centaur was Comanche, why would he wear war paint to a party? I don't think that makes sense...


I do love Tyson, and the adventure in this book is OK but feels too derivative of The Odyssey. Full disclosure: I've never really read The Odyssey, despite being assigned it freshman year of high school, so I'm mostly going off what I remember from sparknotes/pop culture references.

The Lightning Thief

The Lightning Thief - Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief is a good adventure story though the ending feels a little rushed, and the book feels dated. I didn’t notice so much the first time around (or didn’t remember), but the book definitely feels early 2000s (is this the one that references Jesse McCartney? I can't remember).


I'm not sure about the use of crippled at the beginning in regards to Mr Brunner. I didn't think that was an acceptable term to use anymore? Riordan also uses food terms when describing non-white characters. However, he does explicitly state that a few characters are white. I know that in general Rick Riordan tries very hard when it comes to writing diverse characters, so I'm hoping his future books do better.


Also I was reading the Iliad when I was rereading this series, and there are lots of references to mist in there. Half the times it's death but the other half it's gods obscuring things from the mortals.

Hawkeye Vol 6

Hawkeye Vol. 6: Hawkeyes - Jeff Lemire, Ramon Perez

I enjoyed these two volumes of Hawkeye (5 and 6). They're not as good as Fraction's run, but I didn't expect them to be.


I'm guessing that Hawkeye is moving away from this storyline since these were published a year ago? I don't understand comics.


These volumes did introduce me to America Chavez, and I'm pretty sure I need to read her comics now. Also Kate Bishop has her own comic too. So I'm leaving dude Hawkeye behind for now to read more comics about those two.

The Year of Yes

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person - Shonda Rhimes

I love how honest Shonda Rhimes is in this book even if she sounds crazy sometimes. I definitely judged some of her decisions she made. And I'm seriously glad I didn't graduate from Dartmouth the year she was commencement speaker because no one wants to hear the word poop that many times (or at all) at their graduation.

Kiki's Delivery Service

Kiki's Delivery Service - Eiko Kadono, Lynne E. Riggs, Akiko Hayashi

I've checked this out of my library a few times and finally read it in May. This is one case where I'd say the film definitely outshines the book. The book is enjoyable on its own, but if you can't find a copy I'd say you're not missing much. It's sweet but nothing life changing.

Jewels: A Secret History

Jewels: A Secret History - Victoria Finlay

This seemed to be the most referenced book in Stoned by Aja Raden. So I picked it up from the library as well. I'm glad I read Stoned first. I liked Raden's style of writing more than Finlay's.


Jewels is an interesting read too, I just found it a little dry. Also I wish the book had footnotes rather than notes at the back. It was annoying to have to keep flipping back and forth while reading.

The Beekeeper's Apprentice

The Beekeeper's Apprentice (20th Anniversary Edition): or, On the Segregation of the Queen - Laurie R. King

Not the Sherlock Holmes pastiche for me. Not a huge fan of the premise of the story. Not a fan of this characterization of Sherlock Holmes.


The use of Oriental was unnecessary (just use Eastern if you must... I get the novel is set in the 1910s, but it was written in the 1990s) as was the casual mention of the protagonist dressing up as an Indian man for a prank (you can tell she's supposed to be Indian because she wore a turban... I literally have no idea why this was in the book... there's no explicit mention of brownface at least?). 


The story isn't holding my interest, so I'm giving up on this one. 


The Song of Achilles

The Song of Achilles - Madeline Miller

Things I knew before reading the book:
It’s very gay

Things I knew after reading the book:
It sucks to be a woman in the Iliad*
I know nothing about the Iliad

Tumblr did me better when it made me read The Secret History.


I’ve been trying to fill the void The Queen’s Thief series left in my life, and I thought TSoA (combined with several other things) might do it. The prose is too flowery for my taste and

the change from past tense to present tense at the end was definitely noticeable. It pulled me out of the story for a couple of pages. Miller does pretty successfully kill off her first person narrator though. So that's something.

(show spoiler)

I am currently feeling inspired to read The Iliad (whether I actually follow through or not remains to be seen… there are so many translations and my branch of the library doesn’t have the one I want to read and it’s risky placing a hold since I could get the “wrong” translation if someone’s not paying attention).


*Briseis is the best character and where's my book about her?