Mad Love

First Lines: When you’re sixteen, summer is supposed to spread before you like a magic carpet, waiting to carry you to new, exciting places.  Paperback novel in hand, bare feet buried in speckled sand, long kisses with the boy in the kayak–that’s what it’s supposed to be about.

I’ve recently been trying to dig deep into my to-read list to find those books that I had once really wanted to read but forgot about.  I’ve read two others by Selfors, so I knew I liked her writing style and what this book would probably deliver.  All I had to do was read it!

Alice Amorous is living a lie.  Her mother, the bestselling Queen of Romance, should be home with Alice for the summer, writing her next book.  Instead, Alice’s mother has been hospitalized for mental illness, and Alice isn’t supposed to tell anyone.  But time is running out for Alice and her secrets.  Her mother’s next book is overdue and the publishing company wants a draft now.  When Alice meets Errol, she thinks her luck is changing.  He has a story he wants Alice to write: the epic tragic love of Cupid and Psyche.  The only problem?  Errol insists that he is Cupid.  But when weird things begin happening to Alice, things she can’t explain, she may be forced to believe Errol, as he may be the only one who can save her.

What I love about Selfors’s writing style is that her stories always have this very strong basis in realism, but with some bold element of fantasy.  It makes for incredibly interesting storytelling.

Let’s start by talking about the plot and Alice.  Alice is alone, drowning in stress, and dealing with adult things like paying bills and buying food.  She the kind of character who is clearly cracking under the pressure, but she thinks she can still handle it.  But she’s still really sweet, especially when she’s trying to awkwardly flirt with a hot guy.  That was hilarious.

And the story itself was good.  It moved along at a good pace, beginning by showing us Alice’s life before throwing in all this Cupid weirdness.  There are a lot of fun moments in the story as well as many serious moments.  Alice is dealing with things that are way bigger than she is.  Her aging neighbors keep pulling her into their problems.  Errol’s motives for writing this story are heavy.  So it’s not exactly a fluffy beach read, but it does have its fun moments.  (Like the aforementioned flirting.)

Now, this Cupid thing.  I thought adding Cupid to the story was genius.  As a fan of mythology, this was awesome.  (And notice how close “Errol” is to “Eros”?)  As a character, Errol is kind of a jerk.  I thought that was an interesting move, but there is a reason.

Overall, I liked it, but there were a few times that were too heavy for me to keep reading in one solid sitting.  And there were other times I didn’t want to stop reading!

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Mortal Gods (Goddess War, #2)

First Lines: The god of war stood still as a statue, waiting for Aphrodite as he waited for prey, for foes, for anything with veins to cut.

Oh Greek mythology…shall I could the ways that you intrigue me?  Shall I perhaps write an ode?  I’ll call it “Ode to a Grecian myth.”  🙂  Zeus almighty, I’m such a nerd.  And I’m still not stopping!  Ok, ok, I know you’re here for the review, not my corny English jokes.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Ares, God of war, is leading one side of the war between the Greek gods.  Which Athena is cool with because she’s never liked Ares and hey, all the better if he goes down with the losing side.  Then Athena and Hermes can spend what remains of their lives in peace.  Cassandra is a weapon in this war, a girl who can kill the gods.  With the love of her life dead, Cassandra is also determined to kill Aphrodite at any price.  The alliance between Athena and Cassandra is tenuous at best.  But they must find a way to work together or the war is already lost…

First of all, I just want to say that I maybe sorta don’t remember the previous book as well as I thought I did.  I made notes and there are a couple of scenes I still have the mental images of in my head, but apparently that wasn’t enough.  And there were some things I really wished I remembered.

I truly love the premise of this, as a modern retelling of The Odyssey with actual, living Greek gods.  It’s just awesome.  And it gives the characters so many more layers.  Like how Cassandra is Cassandra now, but she’s also at least partially the Cassandra she was back in Troy.  It does a lot to show who they were and who they’ve become.

Speaking of characters, I’d just like to insert that I have a soft spot for Odysseus, who is given the adorable nickname of Ody in this.  Ody.  Can you imagine this powerful warrior who sacked Troy being called Ody?  I’m suddenly picturing him as a yellow, slobbering dog.  (Which makes Athena Garfield?)

Cassandra this time around seemed…off.  I’m not sure how much of that was intentional and how much of it was what I was missing from the previous book.  For example, her grief seemed excessive in this book.  And I can’t tell if I’m forgetting something or if that’s part of her character being off.  I struggled to understand her because of this.

I did like that this story seemed to focus more on the characters’ struggles than on the war (though that it obviously still a big part of the story).  These characters are just so rich in personality, and I love seeing that come out.  But there was still a lot of action and Odyssey-style adventures.

The story is told through multiple perspectives, though mostly Athena and Cassandra.  Other characters stepped in from time to time to share their part of the story.  I think this helped and hurt the story.  I liked seeing the different sides of the story, especially when everyone seemed to be off doing their own thing to help the war effort.  But it also started to seem like 3 or 4 different books that happened to have a common thread.  It started to feel a little disjointed to me.

I thought this was a pretty good book.  Great characters, an interesting plot, and some awesome action.  I just wish I remembered more of the previous book!

Awaken (Abandon Trilogy, #3)

First Lines: In school they told us to follow the rules.  Don’t talk to strangers.  Safety first, they said.  Walk, don’t run–unless it’s from a stranger, of course.

I am so bad about finishing off series.  I don’t know why, but it seems to take me years to finally read it.  According to my records, it’s been over 2 years since I last read the previous book in this series.  Oh, the joy of trying to remember everything when you dive right back in.

*Potential Series Spoilers Ahead*

Death has Pierce in his clutches, and Pierce doesn’t want him to ever let her go.  Pierce is happy with John, even if it means spending eternity in the Underworld with him, a place she’s always feared.  Still, the sacrifice seems worth it.  But now everything Pierce holds dear is at risk when the Furies discover that John has broken a sacred rule: he’s brought someone back from the dead.  If the balance between life and death isn’t fixed–and soon–then the world as Pierce knows it will change forever.  But there’s only one way to fix it…someone has to die.

First of all, as many of you are already very aware, I am a huge fan of Greek mythology, especially the myth of Persephone and Hades.  There’s just something about it that captures my imagination.  While I was happy with the previous books in the series for modernizing the myth, this one took the cake for being the closest to the original myth.  And it even incorporated more Greek myths!  I was a happy nerd.

I could tell quite clearly early on the book, though, that I wasn’t going to be able to drop right into the story.  I’d forgotten too much.  I was lucky to remember what I did based on my notes.  I even thought about putting it down, calling it a bust because I just didn’t know what was going on.

But I stuck with it, just for a few more chapters.  And that turned into the whole book.

There just got to a certain point in the story where the action picked up and it got really exciting.  That was great for helping me feel like I was part of the story.  I liked Pierce and John.  They were definitely what kept me reading the story, though I think I liked them more in the earlier books.  But that’s pretty typical of me.  I like the beginnings of series more than I like endings.

I thought some things resolved themselves too easily in the story too.  Not everything was wrapped up in a pretty little bow, but it sure felt like a lot of things at least came with a sticker.

The book was really funny too.  I wasn’t expecting that.  Usually, the later into a series you get, the more serious it gets.  But there were so many points in this book that showcased characters’ humor and simply put them in horribly awkward situations that made me giggle.  (I’m a giggler when things get awkward.  As long as the awkward things aren’t happening to me.)  So funny.

Overall, I thought it was an exciting modern twist on the Greek myth I love so much, but it’s just been too long since I read the previous books to fully enjoy it.  If I had, maybe I would have been more into the story.

Touch

First Lines: Love’s arrow strikes the boy first.  It punctures his heart, turning it into a flashbulb within the shadowed halls of his body.

I was asked by the author to read and review this.  And once I saw what it was about, I couldn’t refuse. How is this Greek mythology-loving girl supposed to turn down a modernization of a Greek god?  She can’t.

The stories are wrong.  Eros isn’t a pudgy baby boy, flinging his arrows right and left.  No, the god of love is actually a teenage goddess…and her name is Love.  With a single arrow, Love can make someone fall in love.  She loves being a matchmaker.  But Love has never been in love.  Not until she meets Andrew, a crippled boy who can somehow see the invisible goddess.  It should be impossible.  But even worse is when Love begins wanting Andrew.  The Fates have already decided he belongs to someone else.  Can Love defy the Fates?  Should she?

I thought this was a very cute read.  I love lovey-dovey stories and how much more lovey-dovey can you get than the goddess of love?  I thought all the different angles on love (and Love) were well-done.

I thought Love was a believable lead.  She was passionate about her job (matchmaking), but she also had a very clear wall between herself and the humans she matched.  She saw them as something less than herself, a curiosity.  It was an attitude I would have expected her to have, especially since no one can see her.  She’s left alone to watch them endlessly.

Admittedly, I may be somewhat biased, but there was a really cool character named Holly in the story.  (Does she have the *best* name ever or what?)  And she was so much like me, I started wondering if it really WAS me in the story!  (Ok, not really, but the similarities were numerous.)

I thought the pace of the story was good as well.  The action tended to be subtle, something that Love didn’t realize was happening until after it happened.  She only noticed her feelings changing after they had already changed.  That was really sweet.

The ending, though, seemed a little less subtle.  It started getting predictable and much faster paced.  At times, it seemed over-the-top.  And maybe a little prolonged.

I will warn you that this is for MATURE readers of YA.  I knew that going into this, but I wasn’t prepared for how mature it was.  Obviously, as the goddess of love, Love has some…duties.  Yeah.  I’ll leave it at that.  Also, there are curses and obscenities, mostly the f-bomb.  I could have done without that for two reasons: one, it never really made sense for that character to say something that strong and two, it didn’t seem to fit the story either.  It felt like a jolt every time it came up.  I was pulled out of the story so many times when this happened.

Overall, though, it was a cute contemporary YA romance.  You definitely do not have to know or love Greek mythology to like this.

COVER REVEAL: Mortal Gods by Kendare Blake!

Hello my friends!  I’m so pleased to share with you the cover of Mortal Gods, the sequel to Kendare Blake’s amazing Antigoddess!  I know some of you are just so excited for this that you’re no longer even reading this part.  So on we go!

MortalGodscover

AHHHHHHH!  IT’S SO LOVELY!  I’m gonna die!  I love Greek mythology so much, and this is just so awesome.

Before I bring this short and simple post to an end, I want to say a quick thank you to Kendare Blake for giving me this opportunity.  I’m so excited to share this with you all!

Happy reading!

Antigoddess (Goddess War, #1)

First Lines: The feather were starting to be a nuisance.  There was one in her mouth, tickling the back of her throat.  She chewed it as she walked, grabbing it with her molars and pulling it loose.

As a lover of Greek mythology, this was a must on my to-read list.  And as a fan of Anna Dressed in Blood, this also meant I was very interested in this book.  I found this at the library and knew I had to take it home with me.

Gods aren’t supposed to die.  They’re gods.  But Athena is quickly learning that death could be a very real possibility for her.  Feathers are choking her, erupting in her insides until she fears she’ll die stuffed like a pillow.  When Hermes shows up on her doorstep with a fever eating him alive, she knows she needs help.  Together, they travel the world, looking for answers.  Their search brings them to Cassandra,  a girl who used to be a powerful priestess.  Now, she’s a pretty normal girl who is loved by a god.  Cassandra doesn’t even know gods exist, but she may be the key to their survival.  Hera is part of the opposing side that is killing gods in a futile attempt to prolong their own lives.  They’re grotesque forms of their past glory.  And Athena will need every advantage she can get to beat them.  The Goddess War is about to begin.

I started this just before the holidays got into full swing, but I didn’t finish until after Christmas.  This meant that my reading was highly interrupted.

As a result, I thought the first half of the book was a little slow.  But it wasn’t entirely a product of the holidays.  The narrative flips between Athena and Cassandra.  Each side needs an incredible amount of set-up, and as a result, it takes twice as long to sink into the story.  I really tried to jump right in, but it just didn’t quite happen.  It was a lot better when the narratives merged.

Once Athena and Cassandra met, things definitely picked up and it got pretty exciting.  This is kind of a modern take on The Odyssey and/or The Iliad.  So that was interesting.  (I should probably admit that I never had to read either one from beginning to end.)

When it came to characters, I really liked Cassandra and her friends over Athena.  That was another reason why the narrative felt bogged down to me.  I kept wanting to go back to Cassandra rather than read more about Athena.  She’s not exactly the friendliest person.  I completely understand why she is the way she is, but it didn’t make me like her any more.  She had a way of ruining whatever good feelings I had for her.  I’d start feeling sympathetic and then she’d act in a way that I didn’t agree with.  Bye bye sympathy.

It was a really cool premise for a book and maybe not exactly what I look for when I want a Greek mythology story.  I may not have been wowed in every scene I read, but I did still like the overall story.

Screenshot 2013-12-30 09.07.29

(This tweet from Kendare Blake is LEGIT!  And so true!)

Persephone (Daughters of Zeus, #1)

First Lines: “Persephone…”  I hunched over, doing my best to ignore the sound of my name being whispered on the wind.  It curled around me in a sensuous breeze.  Once I would have turned around, tried to find whoever said my name.  Now I knew better.  There was no one there.  There was never anyone there.

A BIG thank you to Kaitlin Bevis for hooking me up with a copy of this.  One of my Goodreads friends found this months ago and it was an immediate add to my to-read list.  Then Bevis contacted me about reading it and I jumped all over that like it was a rich piece of red velvet cake.

Persephone (or Kora, as she prefers) keeps feeling like she’s being watched.  When she never finds anyone there, she can’t help but feel like she’s going crazy.  It all gets worse when her mom reveals that she is the goddess Demeter, making Persephone a goddess as well.  But when the winter god Boreas attempts to kidnap Persephone, she realizes it’s all true.  She’s rescued by Hades, who marks her as his bride in order to get her to the Underworld alive.  But no matter how safe she is with Hades, Boreas will stop at nothing to get her.  And the closer she gets to Hades, the more she knows she has to return to the world of the living.  But where does she truly belong anymore?

As most of you know, I’m hugely into Greek mythology, especially that of Persephone and Hades.  It’s an interesting story in its own right.  And this is a very modern retelling of the myth.

Actually, it was more of a retelling of multiple myths, though I’ll leave you in suspense about who else’s story gets told.  I actually thought that aspect of the story was incredibly well-written.  Not that the other parts were bad either.  The myths are carefully woven into and around the modern setting in a clever way.  I very much enjoyed trying to spot the next subtle reference to a myth.

So while I enjoyed all of that, I did have a little problem with the story.  I had a really hard time feeling any sympathy for the characters.  I just didn’t feel what they were feeling.  I actually realized the level of apathy I reached when something bad happened to Persephone and I went, “Well, that sucks.”  Yeah.  That was a pretty clear hint that I wasn’t connecting with the characters.  It also made the love story lacking.

Really though, it’s a beautifully written story.  I just didn’t connect with the characters much.  I still managed to enjoy the story, however that happened.