The Crown of Ptolemy, by Rick Riordan – I actually read this a few months ago, if I recall correctly, but I never got around to reviewing it. It isn’t surprising that I liked it, though, is it? This is the third official crossover between the Percy Jackson series and the Kane Chronicles, hence mixing both Greek and Egyptian mythology. The evil magician Setne, a magically revived son of Ramesses II who escaped back in The Serpent’s Shadow, has returned to life and is experimenting with Greek magic as well as his native Egyptian. Percy and Annabeth Chase have to combine their powers with Carter and Sadie Kane to prevent Setne from absorbing the powers of Wadjet and Nekhbet and becoming a god. It’s an enjoyable mix of both the mythological elements from both series and the strong personalities of the characters. I recently saw someone on Tumblr bring up the question of how the Greek, Egyptian, and Norse gods can all co-exist within Riordan’s books. They mostly seem to stick to their own areas (the Greek deities hold sway in Manhattan and the Egyptian ones in Brooklyn), but obviously there’s a lot of overlap in terms of controlling the Sun and all that. Riordan’s general answer seems to be that more than one thing can be true at the same time, so the Sun can be a burning ball of plasma AND Apollo’s chariot AND Ra’s chariot that makes a voyage through the underworld every night. It’s kind of a cop-out, but I can’t think of a better answer.
The Oddfits, by Tiffany Tsao – This was an electronic book they were offering for free on Amazon, and I thought it sounded pretty interesting. There are a lot of stories of someone who doesn’t feel they belong in the world turning out to have a great destiny, or just finding a place where they can make a difference. As someone who often feels pretty isolated myself, I can identify with this theme. You really have to feel bad for what Tsao puts her protagonist through, however. His parents outright despise him and purposely torture him, albeit in a way that isn’t always easy to realize. He’s good at his job as a waiter, but his boss doesn’t like him either. He does have one good friend, but he’s a bit of an egomaniac. Part of the mythology is that there’s a lot more to the world that can be reached in secret ways, and people known as Oddfits are particularly suited to exploring the More Known World. The downside is that the normal world starts to treat such people like viruses, doing what it can to drive them out, which is why Murgatroyd Floyd is so unpopular despite the fact he’s always friendly and helpful. We don’t actually see much of the More Known World, but the ending sets it up for a sequel.
Open Sesame, by Tom Holt – This one returns to the idea of fictional characters crossing into the real world, with its main focus being on the tale of Ali Baba. Characters in stories are forced to relive their events over and over again, and after being boiled to death multiple times, the leader of the Forty Thieves decides to get out of his rut and make the journey into reality. This requires making a deal with the Mafia Godfather, who is married to Scheherazade. He later finds out that Ali Baba has already crossed over, is working as a dentist, and has a long-lost daughter. While the thief, whose name is Akram, tries to go straight and actually enjoys his job working in a fast food restaurant, it seems that he can’t escape villainy entirely. Also featured in the story are a tooth fairy who lives with Akram and King’s Solomon’s ring, which traditionally allowed its wearer to communicate with animals and now extends that power to mechanical devices as well. There’s also an amusing bit where the other thirty-nine thieves wander through the world of stories seeking their boss, and end up messing up a whole lot of other fairy tales.
The Cartoon History of the Modern World, by Larry Gonick – I’d previously read the first volume of Gonick’s Cartoon History of the Universe, and this two-volume follow-up is much the same. It’s a good overview of history, from the age of European exploration of the Americas up through when it was created, with a lot of jokes in both text and art but many insightful points as well.
Stars Above, by Marissa Meyer – A collection of short stories set in the Lunar Chronicles world, some but not all of which were previously available for free online. Many of them are back stories for the characters, covering such events as Cinder coming to live with Michelle Benoit and being made a cyborg, Wolf receiving his genetic implants and becoming leader of the pack, Winter deciding not to use her Lunar powers, and Kai’s first meeting with Cinder from his point of view. There’s another retold fairy tale in “The Little Android,” replacing Hans Christian Andersen’s mermaid with a love-struck robot. Cinder herself plays the role of the sea witch, although she isn’t malicious. It just happens that the only spare android body she has in stock has no voice and trouble with its legs. The final story, “Something Old, Something New,” is a sequel instead of a prequel, detailing what happened to the main characters as they all attend Scarlet and Wolf’s wedding. If you enjoyed the main series, you’ll want to read this as well.