Book Review: Venus and Aphrodite: A Biography of Destiny by Bettany Hughes

Reading this was like reading a wikipedia page but honestly I get more out of wikipedia. Very little insight or interpretation given that seemed new? Was literally shedding no new light on her/them (so why was the book written, in other words). Was meh until the end where Hughes talks about modern depictions of Venus. I did learn something there. Also disappointed me that her/their husband(s) were only mentioned like twice in the entire book but Ares gets brought up waaaaaay too much (🌋booooo).

Book Review: Gods and Myths of the Viking Age by Hilda Roderick Ellis Davidson

Book Review: Wake, Siren: Ovid Resung by Nina MacLaughlin

Other reviews I agree with:


 Some of the reworking are fun in terms of humor and eroticism, but I didn’t really feel like these offered new insights or changed the relevance of the stories. There’s a lot of justifiable anger in the stories, but little in the way of new reckonings or new angles…


The stories would be more distressing if they weren’t so overdone. By the second half of Wake, Siren, the themes grew more interesting and complex. MacLaughlin started branching (*wink wink*) into new, unique female perspectives: motherhood (these were especially enlightening and eloquent), gender, eating disorders/food, and sexual shame (memorable to say the least). 


Some of the stories were brilliant, but too many were a little too vague or lacking in purpose outside the retelling.

Favorite (or most influential) fiction read in 2019:

January 2020 is almost over and I realized I never got around to posting my favorite fiction titles of 2019. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. Hollow Kingdom by Kira Buxton
  2. Entropy by Aaron Costain (graphic novel)
  3. The Devourers by Indra Das
  4. The Pre-programming by B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler/Anonymous
  5. Esemtu by Karin and Raphaela Springer  (graphic novel)
  6. Immortal Lycanthropes by Hal Johnson
  7. Necessity by Jo Walton

Book Review: Gods and Robots by Adrienne Mayor


Overall, “Gods and Robots” feels rather like a punchy magazine article that has been stretched out far beyond its natural length. It is also something of a missed opportunity, since there is in fact an important thread that directly connects ancient Greek thought with modern AI research. 

See also My Fair Ladies


TBR: Esemtu Vol. 1 by Karin Springer, Raphaela Springer (Illustartor)


Three university students get tangled up in a mystery murder. However, they realize that they’ll have to open their minds to the supernatural to solve this case. Soon, they find themselves dragged into a magic world of fantastic creatures, gods, demons and immortals, that will change their lives forever.
Join them in their thrilling adventure to uncover the ancient secrets!

I do find the Epic of Gilgamesh very fascinating.

View more on Goodreads. 

Book Review: The Odyssey by Homer, Translated by Emily Wilson

One of my new scriptures.

Book Review: Women Who Fly: Goddesses, Witches, Mystics, and Other Airborne Females by Serenity Young

I felt like many of this book’s Campbellian claims for some version of a monomyth (read: unified theme) were thrown in without much expounding to make me truly believe there’s a strong thread there. There’s definitely a thread — a theme of flight. But I don’t think it means they’re woven together. They’re just similar threads — one here and one there — and it’s the book itself tying them together. A lot of times you have to take Young at her word or look at her endnotes to connect the dots yourself to work out the claims she mentions in passing. I’m not saying she doesn’t do a good job at explaining things, but she isn’t always clear. For example she states this passage with an endnote, rather than detailing how they’re interpreted as male:

“The angel who drives Adam and Eve out of paradise, the one with whom Jacob wrestles, and those that appear to Hagar, Daniel, Abraham, the Virgin Mary, the women at Jesus’s tomb, anand Muhammad are all male.[2]”

She states a lot of things as fact without a proper lead-in. She does eventually explain this passage with examples after a tangent or two, but up until that point you have to take her at her word until she arrives there and you’re just better off having looked at the endnote. This isn’t the best example of that, but hopefully you get the idea. You can guess what she is getting at until she makes a full circle, but all the while you have to suspend your skepticism. She makes her arguments out of order, making her chain of thought hard to follow. But that keeps you on your toes. The topic is never boring, even if you have to do a lot of the work.

This work seems like a conglomeration of her musings and observations of patterns — ideas she is justifying by fitting into her frame. What also stood out is her highlighting of stories that don’t fit the pattern she’s selling; she also talks about men who fly. Of course you can’t talk about women without contrasting them to men, but the titular subject(s) are otherwise misleading for the broad area this book covers. It’s broad because so many higher beings can fly regardless of their association with wings or flight to the point that it feels like she arbitrarily chose the beings she put into the book, possibly overlooking some and shoving in others. She even talks about Amelia Earhart, so flying mortals are under this umbrella. Like I said, arbitrary.

Here’s some interesting passages from the book:

“Princess Diana captured the world’s attention and imagination to a degree almost unprecedented by any other royal figure in history. The media was excessive in describing — and thus defining — her ‘fairytale’ romance, wedding, and happily-ever-after life. They just never got which fairy tale it was. On the one hand, she was the modern ‘wonder woman,’ having and doing it all…the fairy tale she really lived out, though, was that of the captured bride…”

“For all the detailed testimony elicited by the inquisitors, Hans Peter Duerr is struck by their apparent lack of interest in the actual contents of the ointment, beyond the fat of unbaptized babies and other repellent ingredients. He concludes that the influence of mind-altering plants was actually suppressed because it would have led to a natural explanation for reports of flying, and therefore would not have provided evidence for the existence of devils and their ability to physically interact with human beings.”

“But Elizabeth goes further. In perhaps her most astonishing vision, received during Mass on Christmas Eve, Christ appears to her in the body of a young female virgin, crowned and sitting on a throne. When questioned, her angel explains to her that hte virgin ‘is the sacred humanity of the Lord Jesus.’ In this vision, Elisabeth then questions St. John the Evangelist, asking why Christ has appeared in a woman’s, rather than a man’s, form. He answers that Christ has chosen the female form ‘to signify his blessed mother as well,’ because it is she who intercedes with her son to forgive the sins of humanity.’ Hildegard got it right; Christianity had entered an effeminate age.”