Reading wrap-up #34: Olympic Games mandatory prompts edition

As an avid reader, it’s about high time I joined a read-a-thon, and what better than a Percy Jackson themed one? Since I’ve been home from Alaska with good Internet and more things to do, I’ve been really slacking on my reading so this was a good motivator to get me back in the game.

The Olympic Games announced by Ishi Time is a read-a-thon where you can take a quiz to find out who your godly parent is (or simply choose) and follow their god-specific prompts. I took the quiz and naturally, I’m Team Poseidon. With each review, I will indicate which mandatory prompt I am have matched with the book.

As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:

  • (★★★★★): Loved it
  • (★★★★): Really liked it
  • (★★★): Liked it enough
  • (★★): Didn’t care for it

Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.

What a Fish Knows by Jonathan Balcombe

What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of Our Underwater Cousins ...Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, animals

GoodReads rating:  4.17 / 5 (4,200 ratings)

Medium used: Paperback (purchased from Powell’s in Portland, Oregon)

Prompt: Finish a book in 3 days.

Summary: Fishes make up at least 60% of all vertebrate species, but we know little about them compared to larger more charismatic animals. This book explores the lives of fish from tool use and cooperative hunting to breeding and sentience.

Thoughts: I was going to read this book for the “book set at sea” prompt, but when I finished it in three days and another ocean-related book was released to me (see the next review), I decided to change my reading plan a bit. I think the physical copy of this book will always be special to me as I bought it at Powell’s, the largest independent bookstore in the world! Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, it was nearly a five-star read. It was organized well, the facts were easy to understand and straight to the point and the anecdotes were entertaining. I’m surprised this book has so few reviews as there aren’t many other books are fish intelligence. I’d consider this a must-read for any SCUBA diver or ocean lover, it’s super fascinating.

In The Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex ...Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Non-fiction, history, adventure

GoodReads rating:  4.16 / 5 (8,600 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Prompt: Gain favor of the sea god by reading a book set at sea or on the coast.

Summary: The story that inspired Moby Dick, we follow the whaleship Essex through its tragic journey to new hunting grounds that ends in the loss of the ship and over three months marooned at sea where not everybody survives…

Thoughts: How I managed to squeeze two ocean-related books into this challenge proves that I’m absolutely Team Poseidon. I loved this book, reading it was absolutely my favorite part of the day. I’ve seen this book on my e-library a lot but it wasn’t until one of my favorite YouTubers and authors Caitlin Doughty made a comprehensive video out the Essex that got me super interested (I feel like I mention her every other post, but damn I love her). The book did not disappoint, it was absolutely captivating and has now made me obsessed with this story when I didn’t even know much about it going in.

Other adaptations: The book Moby Dick was famously based off this historical event. The 2015 movie and its star studded cast including Chris Hemsworth and Tom Holland fared okay with viewers and critics.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Book Review: The Princess Bride | No Wasted InkRating: ★★★★

Genre: Fantasy, adventure, romance, classics

GoodReads rating:  4.26 / 5 (758,000 ratings)

Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Prompt: Poseidon’s son Percy is a talented swordsman. Read a book in which a main character uses a sword.

Summary: A classic story of true love and adventure where with the help of an expert swordsman and giant, Westley tries to rescue Buttercup from being married to Prince Humperdinck.

Thoughts: I’m not a big fantasy fan so I really struggled to think of a book I was keen to read with a swordsman. However, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by reading a “classic” (I’m trying to read 30 before I’m 30) that one of my all-time favorite movies was based on and knock out this prompt. Not to mention this book has not one but two amazing swordsmen. Bold of S. Morgenstern to call it a “classic” before it even hit the shelves but hey, when you know, you know. Goldman abridges the original, taking out the boring parts of the original and focusing on the high adventure. However, I find it ironic that Goldman spent about 50 pages explaining why and how he abridged it… just get on with it! Regardless, I really enjoyed this book.

Other adaptations: As I mentioned, the 1987 movie is critically acclaimed and one of my all-time favorites. The movie is taken basically verbatim from this version of the book (hilarious jokes and all), so you’re not missing too much if you forgo one version or the other.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Amazon.com: The Art of Racing in the Rain: A Novel (9780061537967 ...Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Fiction, animals

GoodReads rating: 4.21 / 5 (442,800 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Prompt: Humans are not a common sight in Poseidon’s underwater palace. Read a book with a non-human main character.

Summary: Told from the point of view of dog Enzo, he observes his master and best friend’s life Denny as a racecar driver through his life: career, marriage, fatherhood, family problems and lawsuits.

Thoughts: When I say this book made me wail crying, I’m not exaggerating. Any dog owner/lover must read this book, it’s so touching. Just thinking about the book again is making me tear up.

Other adaptations: The 2019 movie fared okay.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Buy Sharp Objects Book Online at Low Prices in India | Sharp ...Rating: ★★★

Genre: Mystery, thriller

GoodReads rating: 3.97 / 5 (634,400 ratings)

Medium used: Audiobook (borrowed from library via OverDrive)

Prompt: The ocean is vast and unexplored. Read a book you have not heard much about before.

Warning: This book contains themes of self-harm throughout and mention of rape.

Summary: When mediocre reporter returns to her hometown to cover the murder of two little girls, ghosts from her own past come back to haunt her.

Thoughts: It was hard to find a book I was keen about that I didn’t know much about. However, Gone Girl is one of my all-time favorite books and I really enjoyed Dark Places recently, so without knowing anything about the plot, I dove into this book. I wasn’t a big fan. A young, beautiful, tortured alcoholic lead is a bit overplayed, the plot was mostly predictable at points and unrealistic at others and I’ll probably forget all about this book in a week.

Other adaptations: An adapted HBO mini-series from 2018 with a star-studded cast fared pretty well.

Have you read any of these? Have you ever done a read-a-thon?

Photo by Radu Marcusu.

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1 Comment

  1. A. Charlene
    June 22, 2020 / 4:40 pm

    Loved The Art of Racing in the Rain. Recently I’ve read two of the three series of W. Bruce Cameron’s books: A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Promise. The third book in the series, A Dog’s Journey, was sold out everywhere but I back-ordered it from Best Buy (a resale from a former owner) and it’s suppose to arrive this week. The dog tells the stories and it’s their perception of the owners they have loved or disliked and why; and also the human beings in their lives ie children, mothers, fathers. Really well written.

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