Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

It may seem strange that I'm choosing to review this first, rather then The Goddess Test. But with my background in mythology, and some of the things that I want to say about my impressions of this series, this seems the most logical course of action.

The quick version, for anyone new to my blog: I am obsessed with anything related to Greek myths. I have been most of my life. But I've heard a lot of stuff about Aimee Carter's Goddess Test series, and when I picked up The Goddess Test and The Goddess Legacy on a whim at WalMart, I fully expected to hate them and maybe give them to my friend Kate as a gag gift, since the heroine shares her name.

I'll save you some trouble if you'd rather skip all my blathering and get to the heart of the review: I might still buy Kate copies, but she's not getting mine.

I can fully understand why some of my friends thought they might need flame resistant clothes when I finished these books. But the strange truth is, I loved The Goddess Legacy. Now let me tell you why.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
For millennia we've caught only glimpses of the lives and loves of the gods and goddesses on Olympus. Now Aimée Carter pulls back the curtain on how they became the powerful, petty, loving and dangerous immortals that Kate Winters knows.Calliope/Hera represented constancy and yet had a husband who never matched her faithfulness….

Ava/Aphrodite was the goddess of love and yet commitment was a totally different deal….

Persephone was urged to marry one man, yet longed for another….

James/Hermes loved to make trouble for others#151;but never knew true loss before….

Henry/Hades's solitary existence had grown too wearisome to continue. But meeting Kate Winters gave him a new hope….

This is, hands down, the best collection of shorter fiction I have ever read. It's certainly the only one I've ever felt legitimately compelled to read fully. There are several reasons for this. First, of course, is the fact that all of the stories are by an author whose work I already knew I liked. Second, the subject matter of these stories is something near and dear to my heart, and I found it very fun how Aimee interpreted some of the myths she chose to tackle here and made them fit with her versions of the Gods myths and lore. Last, and most importantly, is that while this is a bunch of short stories, they all interconnect and build to form a whole. 

I loved getting to read a story from Calliope (Hera) 's point of view. As far as I know, we *never* get this in actual Greek myth. Hera is generally portrayed as a villain, even though in many ways she herself is a victim. Aimee chooses to tackle this and I feel she has done an absolutely awesome job. When I read The Goddess Test I had issues with some of the things that happened to Calliope (Hera) but after reading The Goddess Legacy, I am convinced that the angle taken there actually makes valid sense. I would not go so far as to suggest it is the truth for the original myths, but it's a fascinating take none-the-less. (Notice I'm keeping very shhh about it. I don't want to ruin something vital and it's hard to stay quiet.)

Perhaps you are looking to read a love triangle unlike any you've ever witnessed in YA before? Ava (Aphrodite)'s tale is exactly what you need. I'm pretty sure anyone who knows their mythology thinks they know all the details of the situation with her, Ares and Hephastus. What I found myself wondering was how it would be handled here. I'm not going to spoil it for you. Instead, I'll say that the story fits these characters -- the take Aimee has on the myth -- perfectly. While purists of Greek myth might take some issue with it, I think it is commendable that an author had the guts to tackle this at all and I think that Aimee did a fine job.

And then, of course, we come to Persephone's tale. I'll tell you right now: my heart ached for her and for Hades. I think that despite its sadness, this may be one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen written about this couple. That's saying something, especially from someone who generally detests Persephone and tends to take Hades side. (Yeah, I know how screwy that sounds.) Blame The Polka Dot Door. It started my whole Greek myth obsession, and the story of Hades and Persephone was the tool through which this was done. Anyway, getting back to the point... 

For once we get to see how this situation effected Persephone and how she felt about it. And I think the way she is shown -- both the good and the bad -- is fascinating in light of the series this book is from, as well as for anyone who likes mythology in general. This story was absolutely spectacular and, for me, definitely the highlight of the collection. I was totally captivated and could not put this down. 

The last two stories in the book are from James (Hermes) and Henry (Hades) perspectives, and these did not work quite as strongly for me. I've never been terribly obsessed with Hermes in a general sense, so I'm not overly surprised at my lack of involvement here. The story was in no way *bad*. It just couldn't live up to the awesomeness that came before it. What was great about this story is how Aimee gradually pushes time forward throughout the collection, and to me bits of this had a sort of Robin Hood feel to them since it takes place in England and is about the God of Thieves.

Why wasn't I totally enthralled with Hades story, if I am so utterly captivated by him as a character in Greek myth? My first and probably largest problem is that while the rest of the stories in the anthology were written in first person this one was written in third. Now, I have absolutely no issue with third person. I write it myself in my work. But in this collection, due to its placement and the style of everything that came before, I felt distanced from him and I did not *want* that. My other big issue is that his story was essentially setup for the rest of the series. On one hand, that's brilliant and I would strongly suggest anyone new to the series to start with this because of it. On the other hand, I wanted *more* from him and I didn't get it. Which kinda broke my heart a little. 

The Characters: 

There are a ton of characters in this book, and I've already given a shout out to how much I loved the way that Persephone and Calliope (Hera) were handled. There are a couple other characters that I want to give a bit of praise to, because I think Aimee has done a fantastic job on them.

First, big surprise, is Hades. This is what would have been the dealbreaker for me with this series. If she hadn't written a Hades I loved, we would not be having this discussion. Fortunately, the way that Hades is portrayed is one of the most beautifully down depictions of him that I have ever read. He is, perhaps, a bit softer then I would normally expect. But that's a refreshing change from stuff like the Disney villain for Hercules. (Man I haed that movie.) Most people just don't have the guts to touch a character like Hades and getting to see him portrayed in a bit more balanced light is something that has been a joy to read. 

The other character who is going to get some praise from me is Nicholas (Hephastus). What a lovely and moving portrayal. I don't care if there are a few liberties taken with his birth. The point remains that this character is so often abused, used as a joke and swept under the rug that when I read his parts in Ava (Aphrodite) 's story I wanted to stand up and cheer. The warmth and compassion presented in this version of Hephastus, the level of humanity, is an intriguing and inspiring consideration. 

The Romance:

This, for the large majority, is not a book filled with happy love stories. Prepare for your heart to bleed a little, but it's in the best way possible. There is some love here, but there is also loss, longing, loneliness and betrayal. Make sure you know what you're getting into, but as long as you're cool with not getting a Happily Ever After for each story, this is absolutely marvelous reading.

In General:

Wow. Just wow. You've probably noticed that I haven't been around as much lately. It is partially that I am very busy. But it's also partially that everything I was trying to read was turning into alphabet soup on the page as I tried to read it. I absolutely could not focus. These books have reminded me why I do this whole crazy reading thing. Why I love books so much more then TV or movies.

I do not necessarily feel that The Goddess Legacy is for everyone. But if anything I have said here intrigues you, it is a beautiful collection that I would strongly encourage you to give a shot. I can say with absolute confidence that it exceeded my every expectation. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shopaholic Sunday (August 26th)

Shopaholic Sundays are my opportunity to share what I bought this week, what I'm thinking of buying soon and if I have anything interesting planned here at I Write, I Read, I Review. Curious what I've picked up or found waiting in my mailbox? Read on to find out.

Hey guys!

This month has been totally insane and I haven't had a lot of time for anything. (Especially reading, which makes it very hard to update a book blog.) But I always have time to shop, don't I? Well, here are a bunch of the things that I have picked up in the last few weeks. Hopefully I'll get the chance to really sit down with these soon. (Between grandma and Sealer's Promise stuff that's been hard)

I'm hoping I can get things here back to some semblance of normalcy once I have the book out with betas, but I don't want to make any promises. To those who have stuck with me despite all the craziness, thank you. 

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's book Reviews where we get to share the fabulous things we bought borrowed or received. Curious what I got? (No video this week, guys. My parents have been on vacation and I've been spending 90% of my time at grandma's -- meaning my whole schedule is messed up.)

For Review:

Katya's World
by Jonathan L. Howard
The distant and unloved colony world of Russalka has no land, only the raging sea. No clear skies, only the endless storm clouds. Beneath the waves, the people live in pressurised environments and take what they need from the boundless ocean. It is a hard life, but it is theirs and they fought a war against Earth to protect it. But wars leave wounds that never quite heal, and secrets that never quite lie silent.
Katya Kuriakova doesn’t care much about ancient history like that, though. She is making her first submarine voyage as crew; the first nice, simple journey of what she expects to be a nice, simple career.
There is nothing nice and simple about the deep black waters of Russalka, however; soon she will encounter pirates and war criminals, see death and tragedy at first hand, and realise that her world’s future lies on the narrowest of knife edges. For in the crushing depths lies a sleeping monster, an abomination of unknown origin, and when it wakes, it will seek out and kill every single person on the planet.

Ever received something for review and went "Uh...what do you want me to do with this?". That's sort of how I feel here. While I am always grateful when publishers send me books, this one has me totally stumped. I opened and read a bit of it and it reminds me of the Science Fiction class I took back in university and I mean every ounce of weight those capital letters can carry. A very "don't call me sci-fi" kinda deal. That kind of Science Fiction tends to make me nervous. We shall see, though.

Shifted Perspective
by Margaret Bates
Caleb Byrne is a bright high school senior who has enough to deal with between college choices, taking care of his single dad, and dealing with both a headstrong girlfriend Joanna and an eccentric set of cousins in California. Mostly, he was managing to get by before the day he woke up a Cocker Spaniel. Even if it only happens monthly and is more embarrassing than painful, the so-called ability is something that he's anxious to be rid of.

He didn't realize his transformations would drag him into a hidden society of canine and lupine shape shifters as well as a family legacy he hates. He's working to "get by" in Los Angeles, after moving there to learn more about his heritage from his Aunt Moira and his cousin Kalista. Caleb now struggles through more life-and-death matters. He keeps angering the werewolves in charge of the shifter world, especially Kalista's boyfriend Peter, the Southern California alpha's son and grade A sociopath, who already loathes him. Worse, Caleb's floundering to keep his secret from Joanna.

While his family offers him some support, they may not be enough as Caleb realizes that the rules in shifter society---number one supposedly being don't kill humans ---are not so ironclad. Some werewolf out there is leaving a blood-soaked trail across the Midwest and it might just be with the alpha's blessing...

How could I say no to such a funny and original premise? I've read about 1/3 of this so far and while I'm not head over heels in love with the book, I am enjoying it and it is funny. I should have a review up soon.

I Bought:

1. Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake -- I've heard way too many good things about this from way too many of my friends. When I saw this at WalMart I had to grab it. Now who's going to pay the therapy bills when I have nightmares after I read it? That's anyone's guess. :p 

2. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter -- You'll likely want to bring something to protect your clothes when I review this one. Greek Mythology can be a very touchy subject for me. I've avoided this book for a long time because I know I may not be the right person to weigh in on it. But I saw it at WalMart today and I couldn't resist picking it up. 

3. Circle of Silence by Carol M. Tanzman -- This looked relatively interesting and I was already getting Temptation and Pushing the Limit so I figured why not? I'm never sure if being easily lured by a bargain is a blessing or a curse, but 25% off makes it hard for me to say no if something seems intriguing. 

4. The Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter -- Okay! I started writing this last week, never loaded it and I'm adding to it. *shakes head* I've finished The Goddess Test and The Goddess Legacy and I totally loved both. Reviews will be up soon. If you're going to read this, you will need to let go of expectations that the Gods will be perfect mirrors of Greek myth, but if you can deal with that these books are fabulous. 

5. Temptation by Karen Ann Hopkins -- You're probably going to laugh at this. I had a serious reason for getting this and a not so serious one. The serious reason, of course, is that I love studying how different people live and what happens when different lifestyles intersect. Since the Amish exist within our own time, yet mirror very different views then we do that makes them fascinating. The silly reason? Two words: Weird Al's "Amish Paradise". Yes, I know I'm awful, but that's how I remembered what this was about when I saw it at the store. 

7. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry -- I've heard nothing but rave reviews for this and that's from friends who all love different genres of books. So I absolutely had to nab this up when I saw it at Shoppers' Drug Mart. I haven't sat down with it yet (been too busy reading The Goddess Test, The Goddess Legacy and Savor) but I'm sure I'll get to it soon. 

For My Kindle: 

Savor by Megan Duncan -- This caught my interest when I read a review where someone claimed it was The Princess Diaries with vampires. Now, I've never *read* The Princess Diaries. I've only seen the movies. But the premise sounded sorta cute to me and this book was only $1, so I figured why not? Needless to say, I've read it from start to finish and while there are some things I'll want to point out when I review it, on the whole I thought it was pretty good. 

Goddess Interrupted by Aimee Carter -- You've got to know if I got a sequel for my kindle of a book I bought in print, I wanted that book *bad*. That's definitely the case with Goddess Interrupted. I'm sitting on my hands and trying to keep me from devouring this and The Goddess Hunt since I know the next book isn't out until next year. But it's very, very hard to resist and I'm sure I'll break eventually. 

The Goddess Hunt by Aimee Carter -- Okay, I think I've squeed enough about this series in this post to last until the reviews go up. :p Needless to say, this is an eBook only novella, so I had to grab it for my kindle. How long before I break down and read it? Gods only know. :p 

So, what did you get this week? Leave a link and I'll drop by and check it out. :) 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (August 15th)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine. We all get together to show each other books we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's can't-wait-to-read-it selection is:

Tiger's Destiny
by Colleen Houck
With three of the goddess Durga's quests behind them, only one prophecy now stands in the way of Kelsey, Ren, and Kishan breaking the tiger's curse. But the trio's greatest challenge awaits them: A life-endangering pursuit in search of Durga's final gift, the Rope of Fire, on the Andaman Islands in the Bay of Bengal. It's a race against time--and the evil sorcerer Lokesh--in this eagerly anticipated fourth volume in the bestselling Tiger's Curse series, which pits good against evil, tests the bonds of love and loyalty, and finally reveals the tigers' true destinies once and for all.

You had to know this was coming sooner or later. I really enjoy this series and you can bet I'll be grabbing this the day it releases. I still need to read Tiger's Voyage, so you can count on a review of that soon.

What am I most looking forward to in general? I hope we see more resolution between Kelsey and Ren. They just seem totally unable to catch a break. I wish we could see something good happen to Kishan, although I have my doubts since he has feelings for Kelsey and we all know she and Ren will end up together. (They just fit, y'know?) 

So, what are you looking forward to this week? Feel free to share. :) 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting On Wednesday (August 1st)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Breaking the Spine. We all get together to show each other books we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's can't-wait-to-read-it selection is:

Throne of Glass
by Sarah J. Maas
After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men—thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the kings council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom.

Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilirating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her... but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Where do I even start? 

1. Female assassin for the win. :D

2. Who the hell is this Prince and just what kind of interest does he take in our leading lady? 

3. What kind of kingdom needs a "royal assassin"?

4. Why did Celaena become an assassin? That's not exactly an easy career choice. Who did she kill?

5. Who is behind the assassinations of the would-be future "royal assassin"? And just what kind of great destiny is Celaena meant for? 

I'm definitely intrigued and I can't wait to check this one out.

So, what are you looking forward to this week? Leave a link and I'll drop by and check it out. :)

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