Tagged: greek myths

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

Short Story: Aphrodite’s Curse by Luciana Cavallaro

Aphrodite's Curse by Luciana Cavallaro(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

APHRODITE’S CURSE is about a dynasty’s fall from grace, unrequited love and retribution.

A powerful family is brought to ruin, the consequences unforeseen and irreparable. The trouble begins with King Mino who asks the gods for a bull to be sacrificed so that he may become ruler of Kretos and surrounding lands. Poseidon sends him a gift of a white bull and instead of sacrificing it, King Minos keeps it. Poseidon is angry by his supplicant’s actions and as punishment glamour’s the king’s wife, Pasiphae to lust after the bull.

The story is told by PHAEDRA, Theseus’ wife, who witnesses first-hand, the rise and fall of her family. She grows up in a privileged environment, a princess and daughter of King Minos. From a very early age she knows the power her father wields, but is also aware his actions may have precipitated the misfortunes that followed.

She reflects on the different and disturbing events from a detached perspective. Her tone can sometimes be one of a spoilt child, then at other times resigned and on occasion shows an uncanny insight. This retrospective musing comes from her sighting of Hippolytos, her husband’s son from a previous marriage. She falls in love with him and finds it difficult to contain this secret and eventually tells her nurse.

Phaedra asks for Aphrodite’s help, even builds a temple, however Hippolytos spurns her advances. Shamed by her actions and by his revulsion, she poisons herself, leaving a letter to her husband writing that Hippolytos had raped her.

[Full disclosure: I was never asked to review Aphrodite’s Curse like I was Luciana Cavallaro’s other books, but instead received it for free when I signed up for her newsletter.  As always, this review is honest.]

Out of all the women Luciana Cavallaro has written about, I liked Phaedra the least.  This is more of a matter of personal preference because I didn’t find her the least bit sympathetic.  But could I understand her motives and did I care about what she had to say?  Absolutely!

The fact that I didn’t like Phaedra but actually really enjoyed this story is a testament to Luciana Cavallaro’s skill as a writer.  Phaedra had believable motivations for what she did because of her personality, which we glimpse both through her reflective flashbacks as well as her present day commentary as she is dying.

I’m not exactly familiar with the myth of Phaedra because it was relatively minor in the scheme of things, but after a bit of research I find that I appreciate Aphrodite’s Curse even more.  It was well researched and the level of detail was enough to make me feel like I was there in Phaedra’s world.  I could see the handsome Hippolytos, the temples, Phaedra’s deathbed, etc.  The description wasn’t on par with the beautiful descriptions in The Curse of Troy, but it was certainly up there.

Really, Aphrodite’s Curse is what a short story should be: short and sweet but powerful.  The descriptions are great but they’re not overdone, the characters come to life and I felt like I was back in the time period the story took place in.

I give this short story 5/5 stars.

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Prophecy of Solstice’s End by Diantha Jones

Prophecy of Solstice's End by Diantha Jones(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)

Summer Solstice is here. Let the games begin.

Nothing but lies (some of them her own) and deceit have brought Chloe to Olympus for the Solstice Olympic Games. As the Oracle and the special guest of the King of Myth, Chloe becomes immersed in a life of unfathomable luxury, taunting history, and overwhelming excitement. Though scheming and untrustworthy, the gods remain on their best behavior as the tension and anticipation builds around the outcome of the Quest of the Twelve Labors, the deadliest competition of the Games. All seems well on the celestial front…until athletes start turning up dead and a philosopher missing for months returns with a most terrifying story…

But that’s not all.

As Strafford confronts his troubled past and more is learned about the Great Unknown Prophecy, Chloe grows close to another, setting off a chain of events that will bring her face-to-face with a truth that will rock both of her worlds to their core.

And it’ll all happen before Solstice’s end…

[Full disclosure: I received a free ebook copy from Diantha Jones as part of her blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]

With the first two books in the Oracle of Delphi series achieving high levels on the ‘awesome book’ scale I thought it would be hard for Prophecy of Solstice’s End to measure up.  Yet Diantha Jones keeps surprising me over and over again.  Once again, this book is better than the last one!  And considering how much I loved Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise, that’s even more of an accomplishment.

I love how Chloe and Strafford’s relationship intensity is cranked up to 11 throughout the book.  They’ve sort of settled into the whole being in a relationship idea and what results is whole new levels of commitment on both their parts as well as more drama later on.  I can’t go into much more detail without giving anything away, but let’s just say that with the passion comes doubt and misunderstandings when Chloe joins Strafford in Myth.

One of my many favourite parts of Diantha Jones’ whole series is how she portrays the gods and goddesses from the Greek myths.  Apollo is manipulative even with his own children, Hera hangs on every display of affection from her husband, Zeus is a scheming letch, etc.  They’re portrayed as essentially the same people they were in the myths only now they’re in the modern day and are a huge threat to Chloe as the new Pythia.  I also like how the children of the gods reflect their parents’ personalities, especially in the case of Aphrodite’s daughters.  What was more interesting than how the gods were portrayed was the dynamic between them and their children.  Some of the demigods fully accept their roles as heroes while others like Strafford are obviously questioning them.  It certainly makes for lots more tension in Myth.

As with her last two books, Diantha Jones kept throwing twist after twist into the plot that blindsided me completely.  The Regalis Stella problem from the last book?  That’s not resolved yet either and in fact the problem is cranked up to 11 in Prophecy of Solstice’s End.  In addition to that, Apollo’s war with Zeus is looming and it’s not as simplistic as it would seem.  To be fair, nothing is simplistic in Prophecy of Solstice’s End and that’s one of the strengths of the Oracle of Delphi series: it keeps you guessing as to what’s going to happen next.  And with that massive cliffhanger at the end of the book in the epilogue I’ll be left guessing about what will happen in Prophecy of the Betrayed Heir, the next book.

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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Spotlight: Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise by Diantha Jones

Spotlight is my weekly feature in which I highlight a book I’m really looking forward to or really enjoyed.  This week it’s a book I really, really loved: Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise by Diantha Jones.

Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise by Diantha Jones

It’s official. Myth is doomed.

And it’s all Chloe Clever’s fault.

Still as whacked out as ever, Chloe is now faced with an even uglier truth: Not only is she the Pythia of the Great Unknown, but she is more powerful than she ever imagined and only the manifestations of her prophetic mind can save them all now.

With her Prince boyfriend, Strafford, and the Quad Fraternity always armed and ready to annihilate the opposition, she will embark on a mission to stop a great power that could consume every god in Myth…and everyone else she’s come to love.

But the worst is still to come.

[…]

This is just one of those books you zoom through then want to start again immediately after you’ve finished.  It’s also one of the rare sequels that doesn’t get bogged down in the details necessary to set up the third book.  Both of these things are rare on their own, but together they make Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise an incredible read.

Not only do we learn how Strafford came to be in disgrace, Chloe develops more and the Great Unknown Prophecy is beginning to fall into place.  Here we have a fantasy book with the fast pacing of an action/thriller novel and Diantha Jones has also managed to weave in aspects of Greek mythology seamlessly with the modern era.  There are believable explanations for why nobody knows about the Greek gods in the modern era, as well as a believable system of how the gods operate and how they’ve managed to stay immortal.

I’m not the biggest Strafford fan out there, but at least he isn’t your typical jerk Prince that you find in YA.  No, he has a believable backstory as to why he was such a jerk in the beginning and he’s actually moved beyond that, another rarity.  Say whatever you like about him, but at least he’s able to change, unlike a lot of bad boy types in literature and movies.

If you haven’t already read Prophecy of the Most Beautiful, you need to.  Right now.  And once you’ve read the first book, you’ll devour the second book and be desperate for the third, which comes out sometime this summer.

Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise by Diantha Jones

Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise by Diantha Jones(Cover picture courtesy of YA Novelties.)

It’s official. Myth is doomed.

And it’s all Chloe Clever’s fault.

Still as whacked out as ever, Chloe is now faced with an even uglier truth: Not only is she the Pythia of the Great Unknown, but she is more powerful than she ever imagined and only the manifestations of her prophetic mind can save them all now.

With her Prince boyfriend, Strafford, and the Quad Fraternity always armed and ready to annihilate the opposition, she will embark on a mission to stop a great power that could consume every god in Myth…and everyone else she’s come to love.

But the worst is still to come.

Dark, painful secrets are revealed, threatening to tear Strafford from her arms, and just when she thinks the future could not look more grim, she is betrayed in the worst way.

With the heavens crumbling down around her, she must hurry to find a way to set things right. But will she be in time to save the one she loves most in the world from a fate that may be more dangerous than her own?

[Full disclosure: Diantha Jones sent me a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.]

After reading and absolutely loving Prophecy of the Most Beautiful, I didn’t think it was possible for Diantha Jones’ writing to get any better.

I was wrong.

In Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise, not only are we seeing the characters themselves develop, but their relationships as well.  There’s also more fighting, drama and conspiracy than ever before.  In short, Diantha Jones absolutely did not succumb to Book 2 Syndrome.  She improved not only her writing quality, but her characterization and even the way she chose to reveal her plot twists.

Both Chloe and Strafford are acquiring even more depth than before.  Chloe is accepting her role as Pythia and really starting to show her backbone of steel as well as her intelligence.  She’s no damsel in distress waiting around for Strafford to save her all of the time either!  As for Strafford himself, he isn’t just the moody, tortured Sun Prince.  We get to see a more tender side of him as he finally realizes just how much he loves Chloe and we finally learn why he’s in disgrace among other demigods.

As for the plot and pacing, I was absolutely glued to my computer screen.  Not only was it fast-paced, there were so many unexpected plot twists that my head was spinning.  Diantha Jones didn’t spend much time on re-hashing the plot points of the first book, but she added in tidbits of information that allowed me to follow everything despite reading the first and the second book so far apart.  In Prophecy of the Setting Sunrise, you might as well just go with the flow because you’ll never uncover the conspiracy behind the conspiracy that involves Chloe’s little brother Benjy being kidnapped.  Yes, it’s that unpredictable, but it makes total sense.

I may be a bit biased, but I absolutely love the Greek myths.  I always have and probably always will.  And let me just say that Diantha Jones most definitely knows her Greek myths, both famous and obscure!  She takes many elements from these famous and obscure myths and blends them together to create a scenario in which such myths come alive in the modern era.  Of course she adds her own twist onto a few things so you’re always on your toes.  What else would you expect from such a talented writer?

I give this book 5/5 stars.

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*Only available as a Kindle ebook.

The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter

(Cover picture courtesy of Reading Angel.)

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying.  Her last wish?  To move back to her childhood home.  So Kate’s going to start a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry.  Dark.  Tortured.  And mesmerizing.  He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she seems him bring a girl back from the dead.  Now saving her mother seems crazily possible.  If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

I love the Greek myths, so I thought I would love The Goddess Test.  It had an interesting premise, with the promise of a good light read.  But I have to say my overall impression of the book can be summed up in one word: meh.

Kate is an interesting protagonist and a decent enough character, but I had a hard time getting inside her head.  Aimée Carter truly needed to add more emotion to her writing to pull off a romance like this one, but she didn’t.  The chemistry between Henry and Kate was thoroughly unsatisfying because there was little to none of it.  Henry remained too distant and enamored with his lost love, Persephone, and it still seemed like Kate was only there out of a sense of duty, even toward the end when she supposedly ‘loved’ him.  For me, the characters and the romance they had just didn’t ring true.

The whole premise of the book had a lot of promise, but it too fell flat.  I was expecting actual test, rather than just completely secret ones that weren’t really obvious until the end.  This is a spoiler, but Kate actually failed one of the tests, but still got to be a goddess because of a loophole.  It is probably my own fault for expecting The Goddess Test to be more like Ever by Gail Carson Levine, but I feel like I was let down when I read this.

If you love fast-paced plots and romance, you will love The Goddess Test as long as you don’t pay much attention to the characters.

I give this book 3/5 stars.

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