Tagged: greek mythology

Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

One day Persephone is an ordinary high school senior working at her mom’s flower shop in Athens, Georgia. The next she’s fighting off Boreas, the brutal god of Winter, and learning that she’s a bonafide goddess—a rare daughter of the now-dead Zeus. Her goddess mom whisks her off to the Underworld to hide until Spring.

There she finds herself under the protection of handsome Hades, the god of the dead, and she’s automatically married to him. It’s the only way he can keep her safe. Older, wiser, and far more powerful than she, Hades isn’t interested in becoming her lover, at least not anytime soon. But every time he rescues her from another of Zeus’s schemes, they fall in love a little more. Will Hades ever admit his feelings for her?

Can she escape the grasp of her powerful dad’s minions? The Underworld is a very cool place, but is it worth giving up her life in the realm of the living? Her goddess powers are developing some serious, kick-butt potential. She’s going to fight back.

[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

I’ve always been fascinated with the Persephone myth but never really found a great interpretation of it in YA.  Usually it’s a case of Stockholm Syndrome disguised as a romance.  But that’s definitely not the case with Kaitlin Bevis’ version.

Zeus is dead and all of the other gods are jockeying for his position.  Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter and as such is a great target for Boreas, the god of winter when he decides he wants to seize power.  The only way to do that it so eliminate any potential rivals, mainly Zeus’ children.  One of the things that I really liked about the whole story was the intrigue between the gods and the clear respect Kaitlin Bevis has for the original myths.  Sure, she changes some things around like Hades’ personality but she really does try to portray most of them as their ‘original’ selves, not sanitized for modern sensibilities.  The gods in Greek myths are total jerks.  Most gods and goddesses in Kaitlin Bevis’ work are also jerks; that just makes sense.  And as a relatively new goddess Persephone has a lot to catch up to in the intrigue department as everyone else has had thousands of years experience in fighting and back-stabbing.

Persephone herself really is a great character.  She is understandably shocked when she learns that she and her mother are real life goddesses and she’s really, really shocked when she gets attacked by Boreas and saved by Hades.  Hades, to his credit saved her without any real expectations of gratitude seeing as by saving Persephone and bringing her to the Underworld, she is technically his wife.  He tries to make Persephone’s 6 month stay in the Underworld as pleasant as possible while educating her on her growing powers and the world of intrigue she’s just been awakened to.  But as they spend more time together, Persephone and Hades start to tolerate, then like and then clearly love each other.  Their relationship is pretty stormy in the beginning because Persephone was not too crazy about the whole “I have to spend how long in the Underworld every year?!” thing.  Yet they both decide to act like mature adults and try to make the best of the situation.  Hades gets people to teach Persephone about being a goddess and Persephone decides she’s tired of being a damsel in distress and asks to learn some self-defense.  When they start to fall in love with each other, it’s really to Bevis’ credit that she doesn’t just skate around the enormous age gap between the two.  No, she makes it a major sticking point between them and because of that it’s way less creepy than some Persephone retellings I’ve read.

I know Persephone isn’t a book for everyone because it’s not exactly fast-paced in the beginning.  It starts off a little slow with a seemingly typical YA situation before taking some interesting twists and turns in order to subvert the usual school tropes.  Things get exciting once Persephone is in the Underworld but then the actual action slows down as Persephone learns how to be a goddess.  She goes through a lot of personal growth that’s very interesting and I really enjoyed the interpersonal conflicts between pretty much all of the characters.  For me it was exciting and didn’t drag at all as there was always this undercurrent of tension, this sense of unease as spring drew closer and Boreas grew more and more desperate to kill Persephone.  Some people will probably complain about the ‘slow’ plot but if you like well-written books with good character development this book is definitely for you.

Persephone ends on quite a cliffhanger and I’m very interested to see where the Daughters of Zeus series goes!  The ending was satisfying because it tied up quite a few loose ends but at the same time it leaves you hungry for more.  It’s pretty hard not to fall in love with Bevis’ characters and that’s in part what makes the cliffhanger so interesting.  If the blurb and/or my review has intrigued you in any way or you just plain love Greek mythology, Persephone is a great book to try out.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Atlas by Becca C. Smith

Atlas by Becca C. Smith

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Kala Hicks is part of a covert elite military team that answers directly to the President of the United States. But during an emergency mission aboard Air Force One, Kala is shocked to discover that the real threat is none other than the President himself. Defying her commanding officer, Jack Norbin, Kala takes the shot, and her life changes forever.

The moment the President is killed, a supernatural force speaks to Kala, telling her that she has to commit one act of atrocity every four days… or the world will end. Thrown into a reality she never could have imagined, Kala faces off with creatures of legend; from demons determined to make her fail and plunge the Earth into chaos, to angels who don’t trust her to do the job and are willing to kill her to claim it for themselves.

Pitted against the forces of good and evil, Kala must choose whether to save the world by doing the unthinkable, or sit back and let it burn. And four days later, she’ll have to do it again.

[Full disclosure: I received a free paperback copy in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

I’ll admit that with this one I was a little skeptical once I actually read the blurb.  To be honest, it sounded a little dumb and I thought that I’d accidentally signed up to read a total lemon.  Thankfully, that was far from the case.  This one is a diamond in the rough, so to speak.

The real strength of Smith’s writing is the fact that she can pace things so well.  I felt the tension ratchet up right from the beginning until it was at almost unbearable levels during the climax.  There were twists and turns in the plot, with plenty of “didn’t see that coming moments”.  I didn’t even see the end coming when Kala did something so unexpected that she shocked angels, demons and those in-betweeners that are desperate to keep up the balance of the world through an Atlas.  Some are determined to stop her and others are still more determined that she should succeed, so in the end who will win?  You just really don’t know.

Kala is a good character and she is quite memorable.  Having grown up largely in foster care until her teen years, she understandably has some trust issues, particularly in her relationships.  Her backstory is fascinating but just when you think you know everything about her, we learn something very interesting about her foster parents and who/what they really are.  What I really liked was her determination in the beginning to find a way out of becoming the next Atlas.  She doesn’t want to commit the atrocity that’s been assigned to her, but she doesn’t want literally billions of people to die.  It’s a fascinating inner struggle, believe me.

I really appreciated Becca Smith’s world-building.  She clearly knows a lot about Greek mythology (which you would expect) but she goes deeper into Christian theology in order to create some of her other creatures like the Grigori and Malaks.  I would have liked a little more time devoted to the creation and working of magic, but then that would have slowed down the plot and thrown the pacing off.  We still have good working knowledge of the whole different world Becca Smith created, but it’s more of a personal preference for me that I would have liked a little more.

All in all, this is actually a pretty good book and I’m glad that I went into it with an open mind, rather than judging it entirely on the blurb.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Silent Echo by Elisa Freilich

Silent Echo by Elisa Freilich

(Cover picture courtesy of Diversion Books.)

Haunted by silence, a mute teenage girl is mysteriously given back her voice … and it is divine.

Rendered mute at birth, Portia Griffin has been silent for 16 years. Music is her constant companion, along with Felix, her deaf best friend who couldn’t care less whether or not she can speak. If only he were as nonchalant about her newfound interest in the musically gifted Max Hunter.

But Portia’s silence is about to be broken with the abrupt discovery of her voice, unparalleled in its purity and the power it affords to control those around her. Able to persuade, seduce and destroy using only her voice, Portia embarks on a search for answers about who she really is, and what she is destined to become.

Inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, SILENT ECHO: A Siren’s Tale is an epic story filled with fantasy, romance and original music.

[Full disclosure: I signed up to review this book as part of a blog tour and was provided a free ebook copy in exchange for an honest review.]

After a lot of thought, I’ve decided that my feelings for Silent Echo are pretty much mixed.  On one hand, Portia was a decent enough character even if she did have some ‘moments’ and on the other hand, I wasn’t very impressed with where the plot went.

So let’s talk about Portia first.  She’s completely mute and has been since birth and she has a best friend named Felix who is deaf.  I found their communication through sign language a refreshing change from the usually horrible dialogue in YA novels.  So once Portia regains her voice because the siren part of her is manifesting, it certainly throws things for a loop.  And of course her Siren part manifesting brings on the evil manipulation of the other two Sirens, who are long-dead spirits that can still influence her.  I know Portia’s downward spiral into evil, manipulative witch isn’t for everyone but considering the circumstances I found it quite believable and in line with what Elisa Freilich was going for with the story.

The plot was all over the place, to be honest.  I found some elements to be completely unbelievable like the fact that Sirens have power over the gods, even Zeus!  Somehow I don’t think the Sirens of Greek myth had that power.  As for why Portia is even a Siren there’s a pretty flimsy explanation given at the end of the book that doesn’t really ring true for me.  I mean, if it was true than a lot more people would be manifesting as Sirens.  As for Max’s hot and cold attitude toward Portia as he slips in and out of her spell, I found it slightly unbelievable.  I mean, is there a particular reason why he was able to resist at some times?  Not really.

As for the actual pacing, the plot isn’t badly paced.  Sometimes the song scenes drag the plot down but overall it wasn’t like I was falling asleep while reading Silent Echo.  If more elements of the plot were explained adequately, this could have been one of the best books I’ve read this year.  However, I felt that the execution of my first ever Siren book was lacking.

I give this book 2.5/5 stars.

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Elisa FreillichAbout Elisa Freilich:

Raised in rural Monsey, New York, Elisa spent her days reading whatever crossed her path and developing a keen appreciation for the ever-present music in her home – from classical to rock.

After her college years at Boston University, Elisa continued her creative pursuits, working as a junior VP of Marketing at a corporate graphic design agency and, later, as an interior decorator. Eventually, Elisa left the workforce to raise her family, in her now hometown of Englewood, NJ.

When Elisa is not writing, her creative outlets still abound. She is fierce with a set of knitting needles, a hot glue gun and any ingredients that can somehow be fashioned into a sinful and highly caloric babka.Silent Echo Blog Tour

Abandon by Meg Cabot

Abandon by Meg Cabot(Cover picture courtesy of Manda’s Movements.)

Now Death wants her back

Pierce knows what it’s like to die, because she’s done it before.  Though she tried returning to the life she knew before the accident, Pierce can’t help but feel at once a part of this world, and apart from it.  yet she’s never alone…because someone is always watching her.

Now she’s moved to a new town, but even here, he finds her.  Pierce knows he’s no guardian angel, and his dark world isn’t exactly heaven, yet she can’t stay away…especially since he always appears when she least expects it, but exactly when she needs him most.

If she lets herself fall any further, Pierce may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld.

The myth of Persephone…darkly reimagined.

Could there possibly be a more confusing way to tell what should be a straightforward story?  What happened to a linear narrative?  Or at least one that makes sense?

Meg Cabot is a great author, no doubt about that.  I loved her Airhead trilogy and Abandon is still well-written.  However, I had a very hard time figuring out what the heck was going on as Pierce described three different points in her past all at once.  We jump around from her grandpa’s death to the incident at her old school after her death to her first death and it’s just terribly confusing.  If you’re going to give your readers some backstory, at least give it in a logical order!  (And yes, I’m actually quite mad about this because this could have been a great story with a little logic added to how the backstory was presented.)

Okay, so once I actually figured out what was going on, I sort of did enjoy the story.  Pierce is a decent enough character and you can actually feel her emotional struggles as she tries to cope with life after coming back from the dead.  Her confused feelings about John, her loneliness, etc. were all very real and made her an interesting character.  Her altruistic side came through often, which makes her much more sympathetic than a lot of YA heroines.  John himself seems like kind of a jerk to me, but unlike some love interests there’s potential for him to change in the next book.  And he also has a legitimate reason for being a jerk, again unlike a lot of love interests.

If you can figure out the plot, it’s quite fast-paced and there are some pretty interesting twists.  There are parallels to the Persephone myth for those of you that like Greek mythology, but Abandon doesn’t stick strictly to it.  That way it’s close enough to add another dimension to the story without making it completely predictable.  And now that Pierce’s backstory has been established, I will be reading the next book, Underworld in the hope that without so much plot confusion it will be a decent book.  However, I will be borrowing the next book from the library, not buying it.  I’m still kind of wary.

I give this book 3/5 stars.

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My Interview with Diantha Jones

Diantha JonesDiantha Jones is the author of Prophecy of the Most Beautiful and many other books that I have yet to read, but she agreed to do an interview with me via email.  So join us for a lively discussion about inspiration, hog-tying time and what aspiring writers should really do.

1. Where did you get the idea for Prophecy of the Most Beautiful from?
When I decided that I was going to start my series, I already knew I wanted it to be about Greek mythology. I picked the Oracle of Delphi as my focus (because you’ve gotta have a focus when dealing with Greek myth or your brain will explode). From there, I decided that each book would be a different prophecy that fed into a larger overall prophecy. The name itself (Most Beautiful) just came to me one night while writing and I was like, oh yeah. That’s it, baby. Continue reading

Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini

Sorry everyone, I’m guest posting again today.  I know, that’s two days in a row but that’s just how things worked out this time around.  However, to make it up to you, tomorrow I have a review and an interview scheduled.

For those of you who are curious, here’s a link to my review on Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini.  If you like guilty pleasure romance, Greek mythology and awesome premises, this is a book for you.

Painted Blind by Michelle A. Hansen

(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Seventeen years old and agoraphobic, Psyche Middleton vows her dad will never see the risqué photos she took during a summer modeling stint abroad, but one of them ends up on a billboard in her Montana hometown. Now everyone—especially her dad—can see it.  And yet, somehow, those are the mundane things in her life because she is about to fall unexpectedly, head-over-heels in love with Erik, a mysterious young man who rescues her from a crowd of admirers, and who she’s never actually seen because…he can make himself invisible.

As strange as this may seem, it’s about to get even stranger. Erik takes her to his palace in an idyllic kingdom, and she is swept into the beauty and culture of his world, but his affection has one condition:  she may not see him.  Overtaken, intrigued, and still not wholeheartedly believing he’s real, Psyche is going to have to decide if she can love him blindly; because if she can’t, she may lose him forever.

A wild, romantic adventure that travels at breakneck speed, Michelle A. Hansen’s debut is a fantastical journey filled with laughter, danger, and the indomitable power of love. Painted Blind reminds us that one can overcome seemingly insurmountable odds with fortitude and a little luck and confirms that real love is worth fighting for.

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]

Okay, Painted Blind was nothing like I expected and that’s a good thing because I really didn’t expect much from the blurb.  But I still requested it from NetGalley for something new to read.  And wow, was I ever surprised.

If I had to describe it one way, I’d call it The Goddess Test on steroids because it has a more realistic romance, better characters and a plot that glued me to my computer chair for over three hours straight.  Michelle Hansen knows just how much information to reveal to her readers to hint at things, yet doesn’t give so much away as to make all the plot twists completely predictable.  While I was reading, there were a lot of times I thought “Whoa.  Didn’t see that coming.”  Even the most cynical of readers like myself won’t be able to predict half of the plot points, which means that this is most definitely a unique novel.

I love the characters.  Erik and Psyche may seem like your stereotypical romance characters, but they’re not.  They actually have depth and I could sympathize with both of them.  The way they fell in love was a bit quick, but actually quite natural when you think about it.  First it started off as a sort of unexplainable attraction, then they got to know each other and fell in true love, not the kind of lust that passes for love in most YA fiction.

To be completely honest, I can’t believe this is Michelle Hansen’s debut novel.  The writing quality is much better than most established authors, in my opinion.  Her world-building is excellent; you can tell she really thought it through and made sure things made sense to readers.  I honestly can’t wait to see her what she writes next!

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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