Lore

Lore

First Lines: Her mother had once told her that the only way to truly know someone was to fight them. In Lore’s experience, the only thing fighting actually revealed was the spot on their body someone least wanted to be punched.

It’s probably no secret to those of you who have been following my reviews for a while, but in the past year I’ve become a big fan of Alexandra Bracken. I’m slowly working my way through her published works and this one definitely caught my eye from the moment I first saw it.

Every seven years, the Agon begins. Nine Greek gods are forced to walk the earth as mortals, a punishment for past rebellions. They are hunted by descendants of ancient bloodlines who all want to kill these gods and absorb their power and immortality. Years ago, Lore walked away from this life. After her family was brutally murdered by a rival bloodline, wanting nothing more to do with this world unless it’s about getting revenge against the man–now god–who ordered their deaths. Except as the newest Agon begins, two participants need Lore’s help: Castor, a childhood friend who Lore believed to be dead, and a gravely wounded Athena, one of the last remaining original gods. Athena offers Lore what she can’t turn down: revenge and a way to leave the Agon forever. But Lore’s decision comes at a deadly cost she may not be willing to pay…

I actually genuinely really liked this. (Are there enough adverbs in that sentence?) I thought it was interesting and engaging and fun. It’s basically Greek mythology meets The Hunger Games. I didn’t realize it was a standalone until I finished it. That impresses and disappoints me.

The story follows Lore, a seventeen year old (who definitely does NOT act like she’s seventeen, but we’ll get to that) who discovered her entire family murdered seven years ago at the end of the Agon, a week-long hunt every seven years where the Greek gods become mortal and can be killed. Since then, she’s tried to escape her heritage and the Agon, wanting out. But when the Agon comes again, she finds herself dragged back into it.

First of all, I love this take on the Greek gods. The fact that they can turn mortal while still retaining some of their powers is cool. The wide range of personalities and backstabbing between them also really made the story. I felt everything was really well fleshed out, from the mythology and world building to how this Agon and hunters thing works. It was fun to sink into this world–and super easy to do so.

The characters were also really cool. As I mentioned, Lore feels much older than 17. At first, I thought it was just because of all the darkness she’s gone through, it had matured her, but now I definitely think this is the one misstep in the writing. Honestly, she acts like she’s in her twenties and I had a very hard time believing she was just seventeen, considering she’d been someone’s caretaker for a few years and a runaway at twelve and no one cared. Like…that’s odd. She was a great heroine, but I just did not feel like anyone in this story was actually a teenager. That was the most unbelievable part of a story about Greek gods getting killed in New York City.

Still, despite all that, I truly did like the story. I thought it was fun and fast because I got so pulled into the story. Lots of twists, lots of turns. Lots of fun. Easily my favorite read of this summer.

Lovestruck

Image result for lovestruck kate watsonFirst Lines: Shooting an arrow into a crowd of people on the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is highly illegal.  Good thing I A) don’t care, and B) can’t be seen.

First of all, can I just say how A+ those first lines are?  This was a random grab at the library because I love Greek mythology and after falling in absolute love with the book Destined about Eros and Psyche, this similar-looking story was a must for me.

Kali is a cupid-in-training and she’s in an Olympus mountain-size amount of trouble.  One of the first rules of being a cupid is don’t shoot yourself.  Now Kali finds herself in love with her target, the musically talented, indie rock, and cute Benicio.  Eros is certain to kill her, even if he is her dad.  And trust her, it sucks to be the daughter of one of the most beautiful and fatalistic love stories in history.  Gag her.  And it also sucks that she’s supposed to be a cupid when she wants nothing more than to be a muse.  To take back her destiny and her heart, Kali must defy the gods, tempt the Fates, date her mortal love, and hope she doesn’t lose her best friend Hector in the process of it all.

This was really cute!  In this story, we follow Kali, who is admittedly a little bit of a brat. She’s sassy, self-centered, and overly dramatic…but she is also a Greek goddess and that’s kind of their MO, you know? She fits in with the pantheon. I actually kind of liked it because it was amusing, especially her inventive insults.

The plot isn’t necessarily anything new, but it feels like it. Kali accidentally sticks herself with one of her arrows, falling in love with Ben the musician. Now she has to deal with these new (and somewhat unwanted) feelings before they take over her entire life. On top of that, her new love life is threatening her oldest friendships.

In this respect, I think it deals with very real issues that everyone experiences in relationships but it’s framed in a different way. Normally we’re not seeing it through the eyes of goddesses, for one thing. But also, it just felt a little different because you fall into Kali’s love along with her and you see the ups and downs. I love books that don’t shy away from the downsides of love–without resorting to cheating or other plot devices to add drama.  Most relationships have enough drama without adding any of that to it. There are all those little things a significant other does that can be so irritating, and Kali discovers that for herself. It was stunning to see that represented in a YA novel and it was pretty entertaining.

I did think it was a little slow to get the story really going, though. The first chapter was amazingly fun and I quickly figured out Kali’s personality and her situation, but once she sticks herself, things slowed down. It took some time for me to feel like I was truly invested in the story and interested in finding out the ending. But the second half definitely has some wonderful reveals.

And for the most part, I liked the characters. It’s not like there’s a single character who stands out as being terrible or anything, but the whole…Greek gods thing…that did get a little old some times for their muchness.

But truly, it was a cute read. I enjoyed it a lot.

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!

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.