Showing posts with label mythology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mythology. Show all posts

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Recommendation: The Seafarers Kiss - Julia Ember: Bisexuality and Mermaids

In THE SEAFARER'S KISS, mermaid Ersel falls in love with shieldmaiden Ragna and causes lots of trouble back home at the ice castle.

What intrigued me: I absolutely loved her debut UNICORN TRACKS.

Action-filled intricate world

I knew I'd love THE SEAFARER'S KISS after about five pages. Just like with her fantastic debut UNICORN TRACKS, Ember writes fast-paced and action-oriented - just what I like.

It's absolutely amazing how Ember painted this intricate world with its own customs and little sayings - THE SEAFARER'S KISS doesn't read like paranormal romance or mythology - it truly reads like a contemporary set in a mermaid kingdom. And you guys, this is the best.

I absolutely fell in love with the characters. Especially Ersel's best friend and now king's guard Havamal - the swoon is real. Even though this isn't really a book with a love triangle, I found myself rooting a bit for him and Ersel. You'll ship everyone while reading this book, that's the beauty of everyone being bisexual! The characters are all just so lovely, you'll find yourself wishing that they'd all just get along. It might also be relevant to your interests to know that Loki is genderfluid with they/them pronouns in this and that there is an amputee. The marginalized identities representation is fabulously refreshing and fun to read about. 

The Little Mermaid gone dark


THE SEAFARER'S KISS is a roller coaster of emotions. The first half of the book presents you with super cute contemporary romance fluff and all the feels, and towards the end it gets so dark that you'll find yourself wanting to turn the lights on. The two halves that THE SEAFARER'S KISS is divided into are without a doubt my favorite thing about this book - it manages to flawlessly combine a cute bisexual romance with an exciting fantasy adventure.

Filled with plot twists, THE SEAFARER'S KISS explores the moral shades of gray between good and evil while being an absolute page-turner. Ember managed to get me with every single twist. I saw none of them coming and am thoroughly impressed with the way she magnificently managed to make this The Little Mermaid retelling absolutely 100% her own.

THE SEAFARER'S KISS stuns with intricately developed character relationships, a fantastic world, and an action-filled plot that'll probably tempt you to binge-read this in one sitting.



Rating:

★★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE SEAFARER'S KISS is the bisexual Norse Little Mermaid retelling you've been waiting for. Trust me, you want this. I think I have a very strong contender for new favorite LGBT+ writer. Julia Ember's one to watch.



Additional Info

Published: May 4th 2017
Pages: 230
Publisher: Duet Books
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ISBN: 9781945053207

Synopsis:
"Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies."
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mermaid book?

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Friday, December 23, 2016

[Review] Fire of the Sea - Lyndsay Johnson: Mermaids and Magic Jewelry






In FIRE OF THE SEA, mermaid Aeva falls in love with a human and has to battle her evil nemesis again.

What intrigued me: I haven't read a decent mermaid book in ages!

Less telling, more showing please!

I had high hopes for FIRE OF THE SEA. Being advertised as a mermaid story mixed with Norse mythology, I was absolutely intrigued.

The world building is truly very extensive and well-thought out, but this novel severely lacks in execution and structure. Especially the beginning, 8-year-old Aeva fighting against the evil enemy of their kingdom and winning, doesn't even tell us much about what this story is going to be about. In general FIRE OF THE SEA very much feels like a sequel to a much more interesting book. 

FIRE OF THE SEA awkwardly flip-flops between character introductions and narration and I really have to admit that the first 50 pages of this were very boring and difficult to read. Johnson doesn't quite manage to put this undoubtedly very intricate world into words, mostly because nothing really is explained much. The reader almost completely has to rely on what they think they know about mermaids and then just awkwardly try to create an image of this world on their own.


Weak World Building

FIRE OF THE SEA really could have used less telling and more showing, and also fewer characters. I truly couldn't disinguish all the people from another and in the end it sort of reads like everyone has the same personality.

Aeva's magic armlet plays a huge role in FIRE OF THE SEA and honestly, it tired me so much. It's like a Deus Ex Machina permanently attached to her arm. It knows all answers, it has emotions and can communicate with her, and of course it can also defeat any and every enemy. This again ties in with the biggest problem of this book - the lack of world building. So many things in FIRE OF THE SEA would've made for fantastically unique story elements, even the Deus Ex Machine bracelet, if they were just explored and explained better and with more care. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

FIRE OF THE SEA was a disappointment because of the lack of world building. I just wasn't swept up into this world as I hoped and simply didn't care much for Aeva and her story.



Additional Info


Published: March 24th 2014
Pages: 424
Publisher: 48Fourteen
Genre: YA / Mythology / Norse Mythology
ASIN: B00JCZQUGM

Synopsis:
"Sharp, sleek, and golden. Like the dagger she has worn since childhood, eighteen-year-old Aeva is all three of these things. But there is something else that this mermaid and her prized weapon share – they are both hunted.

Hidden within the caves off Iceland’s dark shore, Aeva waits to take her place as the next ruler of the Mermaids. But when Aeva uses her potent and alluring song to save a drowning human, she disrupts a delicate balance. Realizing she has unexpectedly bound herself to Gunnar, Aeva is torn between duty and love.

Aeva severs one life to begin another, and soon finds herself not only rejected by the sea, but also stalked by an old enemy. As the worlds of myth and man intertwine, Aeva will challenge fate to protect her own sacred relic and the man she loves.

But legend and lies cast an intricate net. With time and safety quickly unraveling for Aeva and Gunnar, there is only one clear course: Find and defeat Delphine before she can shift again."(Source: Goodreads)



Do you like books about mermaids?

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Monday, November 28, 2016

[Review] The Blazing Star - Imani Josey: Time-Travel and Ancient Egypt

In THE BLAZING STAR, Portia touches a scarab and accidentally time-travels to ancient Egypt.

What intrigued me: Black girl on the cover! <3

Slow Start, but Killer Setting

THE BLAZING STAR is a hard one. It takes an immense amount of time until the premise kicks in. The first 60ish pages are spent introducing characters and bantering and simply filler. I almost lost interest completely because the premise of time-travel and ancient Egypt just isn't delivering from the get-go. Especially because this is only 239 pages that's a little disappointing. But I'm glad I stuck around. 

When protagonist Portia is finally transported to Egypt, Josey packs a punch and shows what she's capable of. THE BLAZING STAR is written beautifully, with lush imagery and such an ease that it's a pleasure to fly through the story. I'm fascinated with the time travel aspect and it's one of my favorite favorite things to read about. Josey definitely didn't disappoint, she amazed. 

I just love love love Josey's rendition of ancient Egypt. I had the images right before my eyes and felt like a lot of research went into creating this. Culturally sensitive and lovely, I just love how Josey doesn't play into stereotypes and strives for authenticity instead. All my love for seeing writers strive for that.

Diversity and Charming Egyptians

Because of the slow beginning in the high school there's a lot of time to be spent with Portia and the side characters, but the characters I grew to love the most are actually -all- Egyptians. Her world building and characters are just so much stronger in this part of the book and I wish wish wish that there had been more. Because the characters and the world are that great. 

I think it's obvious that this is an extremely diverse book starring a Black protagonist (I mean look at the gorgeous cover), but I'm still going to spell it out. This book mostly takes place in ancient Egypt and of course everyone is Black. Extremely diverse and extremely great.

Go read THE BLAZING STAR.


Rating:

★★★½☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you can look over the structural issues, THE BLAZING STAR is definitely a book you shouldn't skip if you love fantasy, diversity, and time-travel. Portia's journey through ancient Egypt is mesmerizing and so is Imani Josey's writing.


// review copy provided by Rich in Variety Tours //


Additional Info

Published: December 6th 2016
Pages: 239
Publisher: Wise Ink
Genre: YA / Historical Fantasy
ISBN: 9781945769160

Synopsis:
"Sixteen-year-old Portia White is used to being overlooked—after all, her twin sister Alex is a literal genius.

But when Portia holds an Egyptian scarab beetle during history class, she takes center stage in a way she never expected: she faints. Upon waking, she is stronger, faster, and braver than before. And when she accidentally touches the scarab again?

She wakes up in ancient Egypt—her sister and an unwitting freshman in tow.

Great.

Mysterious and beautiful, Egypt is more than they could have ever imagined from their days in the classroom. History comes alive as the three teens realize that getting back to the present will be the most difficult thing they’ve ever done. Stalked by vicious monsters called Scorpions, every step in the right direction means a step closer to danger.

As Portia and the girls discover that they’re linked to the past by more than just chance, they have to decide what it truly means to be yourself, to love your sister, and to find your way home."(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite time-travel read?

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

[Review] Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge: Insta-Love and A Shadow As A Love Interest


In CRUEL BEAUTY, Nyx is sacrificed as a bride to the evil demon prince Ignifex, and intends on killing him to end his reign of terror over their kingdom.

What intrigued me: Was in the mood for a swoony high fantasy romance thingy.

Very awkward writing and world building

The first thing that struck me and kind of lowered my enthusiasm for this is writing. It does read like Hodge is trying to write archaic and ancient-sounding, but isn't quite able to deliver. The result are awkward sentences that are unintentionally hilarious. Generally this does read like a corny historical fiction romance-type of story. It took a lot of getting used to the way she writes and it definitely does not compliment the premise.

The story itself is promising, the premise is interesting (despite being only a retelling), and Hodge does manage to put her own spin on the story. However, I'm not a fan of her approach. The whole idea of getting Nyx into the Ignifex's castle absolutely reads like a mere set up for a love triangle. I was absolutely disappointed to see the novel take this direction, because it has quite the interesting world, with hermiticism, an element of Greek mythology, being the main influence on it. As in, just a side element to fill up the story and give the illusion of actual world building.

I do love a good Greek myth-inspired story and was excited for this, but it just doesn't feel right. The entire "world building" feels like an easy excuse to write about the romance, and I'm not a fan of this.

Insta-love, a love triangle, and zero appeal

I knew what I was signing up for when I started CRUEL BEAUTY. What I didn't sign up for is having this story play into every cliche ever that you've seen in YA. Literally everything. From guys consisting just of eye colors and snark, to the inevitable love triangle, to instant love. 

I have seldom encountered such an unfortunate way of starting a love triangle - it takes two pages between Nyx meeting the second love interest and kissing him. Even more unusual is that the love triangle is between the demon Ignifex and his shadow. It sure reads a little awkwardly and weird, and the plot twist is extremely predictable. I was rooting for Nyx to be a cold-blooded hate-driven killer, I knew she was going to fall in love with the beast, but not easy like that! It took about 3 pages for her plan to vanish into nothingness because of a pretty boy... eh... shadow...cursed human...thing...ish. 

Like this, CRUEL BEAUTY unfortunately lost all its appeal to me and paired with awkward writing and clumsy world building this is not my kind of story.


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

My expectations were too high (mainly because of the hype). CRUEL BEAUTY tries to create the illusion that it's different and new, when it's just your average romantic retelling.

There are better Beauty and Beast retellings out there, and there certainly is better high fantasy out there that doesn't feel as awkward as this. 



Additional Info

Published: January 28th 2014
Pages: 352
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA / Fantasy / High Fantasy
ISBN: 9780062224736

Synopsis:
"Since birth, Nyx has been betrothed to the evil ruler of her kingdom-all because of a foolish bargain struck by her father. And since birth, she has been in training to kill him.

With no choice but to fulfill her duty, Nyx resents her family for never trying to save her and hates herself for wanting to escape her fate. Still, on her seventeenth birthday, Nyx abandons everything she's ever known to marry the all-powerful, immortal Ignifex. Her plan? Seduce him, destroy his enchanted castle, and break the nine-hundred-year-old curse he put on her people.

But Ignifex is not at all what Nyx expected. The strangely charming lord beguiles her, and his castle—a shifting maze of magical rooms—enthralls her.

As Nyx searches for a way to free her homeland by uncovering Ignifex's secrets, she finds herself unwillingly drawn to him. Even if she could bring herself to love her sworn enemy, how can she refuse her duty to kill him? With time running out, Nyx must decide what is more important: the future of her kingdom, or the man she was never supposed to love."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite fairytale retelling?

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

[Review] The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson #5) - Rick Riordan: Cluttered and Halfheartedly written

In the last book of the Percy Jackson series, Percy and the Gods of Olympus are preparing for the final battle against the Titan Kronos.

What intrigued me: There's no reason for me not to pick this one up! I loved the third and fourth novels. Unfortunately, it could only go downhill from there.

A Very Chaotic, Messy Storyline

THE LAST OLYMPIAN needs a lot of time to get the story started. What I loved about the previous books is that there was a straight storyline they were following and you knew exactly how close the heroes were to their goal at all times. This one doesn't have that. 

I feel like Riordan is just trying to give a storyline or cameo to all of his characters, so they can all have their moment of glory in the last book. It's cluttered, and it's full of unnecessary halfheartedly-written side quests that weren't really enjoyable to read. I didn't really understand why the characters were doing anything, they seem to be rushing from scene to scene, preparing for battle or trying to convince someone else to help them. 

With all those mini side quests comes also a frequent change of scenery that throws you off track and leaves you wondering what they were doing there in the first place. Riordan really lost himself in trying to make this battle epic and trying to cram as many characters and mythological concepts in this as possible. Because the heroes have dealt with Luke and Kronos in the previous book before, having these two as the final battle antagonists is repetitive and boring to read. 

Disappointing Character Development (or lack thereof)

Riordan's biggest strength in this series has always been Percy's voice to me. Percy is funny, a sweet and loveable guy, and just overall a wonderful protagonist. It's remarkable how spot-on Percy's voice is and has been for the entire series, however judging by this being the last book - he hardly went through any character development at all. While it was charming and relatable to have this oftentimes super oblivious main character before, after five books it really gets annoying to have Percy realize even the most obvious things last. He's not a leader and it hardly seems realistic to have anyone follow him into battle. Annabeth in a heartbeat, but not him.

In general I have never been a fan of the character development in Riordan's books, and never really thought any character aside from a handful of Gods and side characters (Apollo, Artemis, Zoe, Nico) was even remotely developed enough for me to actually care about them. 

In other reviews I've often read about how everyone loves the relationship between Annabeth and Percy- which I find is pretty much non-existent (Enlighten me please if you disagree). I was hoping to finally get behind the fascination that these two seem to have for everyone - but no, I'm still confused. This didn't make the novel better or worse for me either way, but is simply proving my point that even after five books I still feel like most characters remain blank slates for me.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

A very disappointing conclusion to the series. I personally found it lacked structure and was very drawn out, and I wish I just hadn't read this and pretended the series ended after the fourth.



Additional Info

Published: May 5th 2009
Pages: 361
Publisher: Puffin
Genre: YA / Mythology / Greek 
ISBN: 9780141321288

Synopsis:
"All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows. While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time. "
(Source: Goodreads)


Have you seen the Percy Jackson movies or read the books?

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Saturday, July 11, 2015

[Review] The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson #4) - Rick Riordan


In THE BATTLE OF THE LABYRINTH Percy and his friends have to travel through King Minos' maze to find its inventor Dädalus before Luke.
Previously (The Titan's Curse): The Titan Atlas teamed up with Percy's arch enemy Luke, a son of Hermes. Atlas could ultimately be defeated by Artemis and Percy, but Luke is still in the process of trying to reawaken the remaining Titans to re-build the rivaling city to the Olymp - Othrys.


After absolutely loving THE TITAN'S CURSE I couldn't wait to finally read this one. I wasn't disappointed. About six months have passed since book three, Riordan starts the story similar to the third one, with an encounter with mythological beings. I was very sad that Riordan decided to kill off Zoe Nightshade, because I loved her as a character. With Rachel Elizabeth Kane, the mortal that can see through the veil and that Percy met briefly in THE TITAN'S CURSE, we have another interesting side character joining the crew. I love that Tyson plays a bigger role in this novel again, I missed him in the third. His approach to problems is always amusing and refreshingly different.

Annabeth functions as a leader in this novel and I'd rather have her swap roles with Percy. What's so interesting about the Percy Jackson series is that Percy is technically the main character, but is never the chosen supreme leader that has all the strategy down. Percy mostly mindlessly walks into situations and just wins out of sheer luck and/or stupidity. It's impossible to dislike him. I just love how Riordan uses Percy's lack of knowledge about Greek myths to explain them to the reader through other characters. While I think I do know quite a bit about Greek mythology, Riordan references really obscure myths that I'm pretty sure only a small portion of readers have encountered before. I was very grateful for the little glossary of mythological beings at the end of the book.

Unfortunate Pacing to Introduce More Mythological Beings

One of the things I have to criticize is that there are too many cameos of the Gods in this one. I hardly think that they would have the time to descend to Earth to help Percy and his friends every few chapters. You might argue that it's only because the Olymp is at war and Percy and his friends play a significant role in that, but - I just don't buy it.

Unlike in the third I felt like the plot was a little dragged out. The main storyline is the heros' quest to find Dädalus, but they are distracted by other mythological beings all the time. The way they found him towards the end feels like a cheap solution that they could've figured out way earlier if they'd just been persistent and kept asking the Gods. Or maybe used rational thinking. Therefore this novel doesn't read as easily and quickly as the third. I just wanted them to finally find Dädalus and take care of the bigger problem. The fight with Kronos has been going on since the first book and at this point they're just stalling. I'm still excited for the fifth and final book, but I don't think that the fourth was really an essential part of the whole. However, it's still a good read.

Rating:

★★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I was tempted to skim pages at some point, but I ended up reading everything patiently. The story just sucks you in and Riordan's writing is brilliant. I'm still not a huge fan of Annabeth, but Percy makes the waiting worthwhile. I can't wait for the fifth novel. I guess I recommend.



Additional Info


Original Title: The Battle of the Labyrinth
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: 1st April 2009
Pages: 362
Medium: Hardcover
Genre: YA / Mythology / Greek

Synopsis:
"Percy Jackson isn't expecting freshman orientation to be any fun. But when a mysterious mortal acquaintance appears on campus, followed by demon cheerleaders, things quickly move from bad to diabolical. 

In this latest installment of the blockbuster series, time is running out as war between the Olympians and the evil Titan lord Kronos draws near. Even the safe haven of Camp Half-Blood grows more vulnerable by the minute as Kronos' army prepares to invade its once impenetrable borders. 
To stop them, Percy and his demigod friends must set out on a quest through the Labyrinth-a sprawling underground world with stunning surprises at every turn. Full of humor and heart-pounding action, this fourth book promises to be their most thrilling adventure yet."(Source: Goodreads)




What's your favorite Greek mythology read?

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

[Recommendation] The Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson #3) - Rick Riordan


In THE TITAN'S CURSE, the third novel in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Percy and his friends have to deal with the aftermath of freeing the titan Kronos.
Wonderful and Likeable Main Character

I have only watched the first two movies and not read the books and just went ahead and read the third book. I didn't have any problems trying to understand who was who, even though Riordan doesn't make an effort to describe what has previously happened. I got quite annoyed at Mead doing the opposite in her Vampire Academy series and always summarizing everything in the first chapter, so this was refreshing.

Because Percy is such a young protagonist, I didn't expect to identify with him at all as a twenty-something. I was wrong. Percy is a very smart character that does act his age while not being either obnoxious or naive. Many authors try and fail at writing about characters that are that young, but Riordan masters it skillfully.

The key to making Percy so realistic and pleasant to read about it that most of the action in the novel is describes via little hints that Percy doesn't get. Riordan doesn't try to make him the omniscience hero that figures everything out right away, quite on the contrary. He's impulsive, doesn't put much thought into his actions and oftentimes flat out embarrasses himself while failing dramatically. I love that. I identified and sympathized 100% with Percy and that's remarkable, judging by the fact that he's a thirteen year-old boy.

Perfect Blend of Mythology and Own Ideas

I've seen so many authors try to tackle Greek mythology as a background for their novels and just flat out fail. Riordan doesn't just use the myths as story lines in his book but creates a vivid, entertaining and unique world on his own. There are rarely times when I thought he just took this from The Iliad as I did when reading works of Angelini, Carter, or Cabot.

Riordan mixes mythology skillfully with his own imagination and puts a very unique and different spin on things. His portrayals of the different gods are hilarious, spot on and super entertaining.
Another main thing that absolutely fascinates me about the series is how funny it is. Riordan is a master at funny dialogue without trying hard and I found myself having to pause several times because I was laughing so hard.

Towards the end the story drags a little. Percy and his friends are constantly being hunted by mythological beings and it gets a little repetitive if you're familiar with the story lines of the first two novels. However, I enjoyed to meet new Gods and get to see Riordan's interpretations of them. I wasn't a fan of setting one of the battles in the Smithsonian, I've just seen too many other novels and movies do that. I'm looking forward to reading the next novel!

Rating:

★★

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

You don't have to read the first books if you've already watched the movies. I didn't. You won't miss anything and the movies do an alright job at introducing you to the world of Percy Jackson.
I know already that I will reread the series at some point so I'll get all the small hints that are scattered throughout the novels. I love how Riordan nods to readers familiar with The Iliad and gives us the opportunity to find out which character we're dealing with.

If you love Greek mythology, this is the series for you and I'm by no means surprised at how successful the franchise has become. Riordan is an excellent writer and Percy an extremely lovable and likeable hero. I dearly recommend the series.



Additional Info



Original Title: The Titan's 
Author: Rick Riordan
Published: May 5th 2007
Pages: 320
Medium: Hardcover
Genre: YA / Mythology / Greek

Synopsis:
"IT'S NOT EVERYDAY YOU FIND YOURSELF IN COMBAT WITH A HALF-LION, HALF-HUMAN.

But when you're the son of a Greek god, it happens. And now my friend Annabeth is missing, a goddess is in chains and only five half-blood heroes can join the quest to defeat the doomsday monster.

Oh, and guess what? The Oracle has predicted that not all of us will survive..."(Source: Goodreads)


What's your favorite Greek mythology read?

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

[Review] Touch of Frost (Mythos Academy #1) - Jennifer Estep


In TOUCH OF FROST Mythos Academy student Gwen Frost is thrown out of her everyday routine when one of her fellow students is getting murdered. With her ability to find lost objects and learn about the owners of said
objects, she might be the only one that's able to find out who killed the student.


What intrigued me: I wanted to read this book in the first place because I was looking for another series to fill the void that the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead left in my heart. The premises are very similar, except that the school Gwen goes to isn't full of vampires, but full of descendants of mythological warriors.

Stereotyping Is the New Black?

It's written very, very opinionatedly. The main character Gwen doesn't waste a second to label everyone. Every student in her school gets a label that most often times isn't only really sexist, but also extremely narrow-minded and offensive. Gwen parts all students into groups like "the jocks", "the sluts" or "the mysterious guys" who just about do the same things as "the sluts", but yet somehow it makes them cool and mysterious instead of trashy, simply because they're guys.

Gwen herself doesn't really have a personality, she's just going around judging everyone. She's the typical nerdy heroine that doesn't have a lot of friends and is special because she isn't like everybody else. Multiple times she puts emphasis on the fact that she doesn't belong and what's even more baffling to me is that she doesn't, at no point in the story, take interest in the fact that she's surrounded by mythological beings.

For every other person this would be exciting and interesting, but Gwen just thinks that the stories about Greek and Norse gods are bedtime stories, despite the fact that she has magical powers herself. I found it so frustrating to listen to her and to watch her ignore all the magical and super interesting things that are happening around her. She's a very exhausting and oblivious character.

Black & White Thinking Everywhere

It's so frustrating that you have this brilliant setting and this unique world, but yet Estep ruins it all by not making an effort to build her characters properly. The big antagonist in this novel are Loki and all his worshipers. There is no explanation as to why they would want the world to end in chaos, but they just do. They aren't afraid to kill everyone who comes in their way, no matter whether they're students or grown wo/men. The equivalent and therefore the good ones are the soldiers-in-training from Mythos Academy.

I always have a problem dealing with novels that portray a clear line between good and evil. Obviously, there are shades of grey as well, but Estep makes no effort to try to make that clear to the reader. Just like Gwen labels everyone into either saint or sinner, her world is divided into black and white.

Rating:

★★☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I love the setting, I love the idea, but I absolutely hated the protagonist for the narrow-minded non-sense she says. I wouldn't recommend this to young impressionable readers exactly because it fuels stereotypical thinking and this is not what we need in a world that is already filled with hatred and the suppressed need to label people.

I tried to look over it all and just focus on the story, but it's hardly possible if you're bombarded with sexism in every other chapter. Estep had the chance to write a brilliant novel judging from the premise, but she ruined it through Gwen's attitude.



Synopsis:
"My name is Gwen Frost, and I go to Mythos Academy; a school of myths, magic and warrior whiz kids, where even the lowliest geek knows how to chop off somebody's head with a sword and Logan Quinn, the hottest Spartan guy in school, also happens to be the deadliest. 

But lately, things have been weird, even for Mythos. First, mean girl Jasmine Ashton was murdered in the Library of Antiquities. Then, someone stole the Bowl of Tears, a magical artifact that can be used to bring about the second Chaos War. You know, death, destruction and lots of other bad, bad things. 
Freaky stuff like this goes on all the time at Mythos, but I'm determined to find out who killed Jasmine and why; especially since I should have been the one who died..."

What Do You Think About Sexism and Stereotyping in Literature?

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Monday, March 9, 2015

[Short Story Review] Starcrossed City (Starcrossed #0.5) - Josephine Angelini





In STARCROSSED CITY, a short story prequel to the Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini, we find out how Ajax and Daphne, "Helen's parents", meet for the first time.

What intrigued me: Having just finished the second novel of the trilogy DREAMLESS, I stumbled upon this gem and had to read it. I wasn't particularly a fan of Daphne's character in the novels, but I guess she's just written to be a very unlikeable character.

Entertaining voice and characters

In STARCROSSED CITY, Daphne is a senior in high school. The story is told from her point of view and describes her first day in a new school. The unique thing about this story is the character voice. She talks in short sentences, describing things without trying to sound fancy and just going straight to the point. I can't tell whether I should write this off as laziness on the author's side or simply count this as adding to the character of her narrator. Daphne is just as unlikeable as in the the main series, constantly thinking about how she's superior to everyone, hating everything and just being overall very overdramatic. It's equally entertaining as it is exhausting to listen to her.

However I can't deny that I really enjoyed being led through the story through Daphne's eyes. I can't really put my finger on it, but there's something cold, calculating and vulnerable in the way she talks and describes things. You can clearly recognize her in her younger self when reading this. The story itself isn't very interesting. It's your average start of a YA novel, new kid in a new school.

Over the Top?

Daphne goes through the day having to constantly tell off people that want to surround themselves with her. The effects of "The Face" seem to hit her way harder than they ever hit Helen, her daughter in the series. The way people are frantically trying to be close to Daphne just seems over the top. She makes an enemy within five seconds for absolutely no reason and I just rolled my eyes at that. Why would anyone try to physically harm a girl that they've just met?

The worst isn't even how two girls she JUST met try to physically assault her for NO REASON, the worst is her reaction and only objection:

"“Don’t, Harlow,” I plead, tears blurring my eyes. They don’t understand. Without my hair, I’ll have no way to hide my face. I’ll be exposed and it’ll just get worse."

Yes, Daphne, your face is so magical and beautiful that everyone will go completely nuts if you cut your bangs. Yup. I just.. I can't. I'm really glad that Angelini didn't decide to use Daphne as her protagonist in the series.

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I hoped that this story would be just about Ajax and Daphne, but it's more of a cute "and this is how I met your mom" story that doesn't lead anywhere.


Rating:

☆☆

The Series:

Starcrossed City (#0.5)
Dreamless (#2)
Goddess (#3)
- See more at: http://thebookavid.blogspot.de/2015/03/review-gottlich-verloren-ot-dreamless.html#sthash.DGWlrLkG.dpuf
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[Short Story Review] Starcrossed City (Starcrossed #0.5) - Josephine Angelini





In STARCROSSED CITY, a short story prequel to the Starcrossed Trilogy by Josephine Angelini, we find out how Ajax and Daphne, "Helen's parents", meet for the first time.

What intrigued me: Having just finished the second novel of the trilogy DREAMLESS, I stumbled upon this gem and had to read it. I wasn't particularly a fan of Daphne's character in the novels, but I guess she's just written to be a very unlikeable character.

Entertaining voice and characters

In STARCROSSED CITY, Daphne is a senior in high school. The story is told from her point of view and describes her first day in a new school. The unique thing about this story is the character voice. She talks in short sentences, describing things without trying to sound fancy and just going straight to the point. I can't tell whether I should write this off as laziness on the author's side or simply count this as adding to the character of her narrator. Daphne is just as unlikeable as in the the main series, constantly thinking about how she's superior to everyone, hating everything and just being overall very overdramatic. It's equally entertaining as it is exhausting to listen to her.

However I can't deny that I really enjoyed being led through the story through Daphne's eyes. I can't really put my finger on it, but there's something cold, calculating and vulnerable in the way she talks and describes things. You can clearly recognize her in her younger self when reading this. The story itself isn't very interesting. It's your average start of a YA novel, new kid in a new school.

Over the Top?

Daphne goes through the day having to constantly tell off people that want to surround themselves with her. The effects of "The Face" seem to hit her way harder than they ever hit Helen, her daughter in the series. The way people are frantically trying to be close to Daphne just seems over the top. She makes an enemy within five seconds for absolutely no reason and I just rolled my eyes at that. Why would anyone try to physically harm a girl that they've just met?

The worst isn't even how two girls she JUST met try to physically assault her for NO REASON, the worst is her reaction and only objection:

"“Don’t, Harlow,” I plead, tears blurring my eyes. They don’t understand. Without my hair, I’ll have no way to hide my face. I’ll be exposed and it’ll just get worse."

Yes, Daphne, your face is so magical and beautiful that everyone will go completely nuts if you cut your bangs. Yup. I just.. I can't. I'm really glad that Angelini didn't decide to use Daphne as her protagonist in the series.

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I hoped that this story would be just about Ajax and Daphne, but it's more of a cute "and this is how I met your mom" story that doesn't lead anywhere.


Rating:

☆☆

The Series:

Starcrossed City (#0.5)
Dreamless (#2)
Goddess (#3)
- See more at: http://thebookavid.blogspot.de/2015/03/review-gottlich-verloren-ot-dreamless.html#sthash.DGWlrLkG.dpuf
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[Review] Dreamless (Starcrossed #2) - Josephine Angelini


In DREAMLESS, demi-god Helen has to use her ability to descend into the Underworld to kill the Furies in order to stop all different demi-god families from wanting to kill each other.
What intrigued me: I've read the first novel.

Logic, what is logic?

After it has been revealed to our protagonist Helen that her love interest/ex-boyfriend is actually her cousin, they are both trying (and desperately failing) to keep a distance. Even though it's pretty obvious that she can't be the daughter of someone that died 19 years ago if she's 17, everybody rolls with it. Now here comes the actual problem: For the Delos family the quarrel isn't even that their son is heading for an incestuous relationship, but the actual problem is that if those two decide to have children, these children would cause the House of Theben and the House of Atreus to go extinct, because... the heir can only be claimed by one house.

It's very difficult to keep track of the different mythological objects and rules that Angelini brings into this. We have:
  • "The Face", which basically means looking like the steeped-in-legend Helen of Troy
  • "The Cestus of Aphrodite", which makes the wearer invincible
  • The concept of "blood guilt", which I don't fully understand until this day 
  • The "Twig of Aenas" which can only be used by a son of Aenas to descend into the Underworld without being a descender 
... and a bunch of other things that you have to keep in mind if you want to make sense of the story.
Angelini doesn't even bother to explain everything again in detail (which you always should in the second book if you've got so much complicated mythology!), which leaves you there pretty confused.
I was glad to have a little dictionary with characters and gods and all their traits at the end of the novel, which I really actively had to use to understand who's who and who's able to do what.


It's NOT a Twilight fan fiction anymore!

I had a hard time getting into DREAMLESS, especially because of the mythology. It's not easy to keep track of everything and you really have to think and remember everything that happens if you don't want to end up confused and angry. There's a lot of mythology that's not even accurate- or, let's say, different from the original lore. This does not mean that it's bad- Angelini just took a different spin on some of the things, which I encourage! I loved how she made Ares, the mighty God of War, a complete nutcase for example. Or Cerberus, who's usually a Dobermann or a Pitbull, a giant wolf.

I got the notion that in this one, the Starcrossed Series really stopped being just a Twilight fan fiction and started to become a story on its own. In the first novel the whole scion and blood shed issue just seemed like a bad excuse to justify the hot boy falling for the average shy girl. In the second, the characters grow and the plot lines start making sense in the bigger picture.
Even though I understood why Angelini made the decision to alternate between point-of-views, I would have loved some consistency. The main narrator still remains Helen, but there are sometimes random throw-ins from the POV of other characters. It all seems necessary and I fully understand why it makes sense to do it like this- still, either alternate consistently and go with multiple narrators from the start or make it a one-time-thing.

Rating:

★★★☆☆

 

Overall: Do I Recommend?

I had a rocky start with DREAMLESS and after about seventy pages I even contemplated giving up because I didn't understand what's going on anymore. Maybe it's different if you've read the first one right before, but for me it was a struggle to push through. After about hundred pages it hit me and I was diving deep into the story and needing to know what happens next.


Additional Info:



Published: Mai 2012 
Pages: 512
Genre: YA / Fantasy / Mythology / Greek Mythology
ISBN: 978-3-7915-2626-3

Synopsis:
"Can true love be forgotten?
As the only scion who can descend into the Underworld, Helen Hamilton has been given a nearly impossible task. By night she wanders through Hades, trying to stop the endless cycle of revenge that has cursed her family. By day she struggles to overcome the fatigue that is rapidly eroding her sanity. Without Lucas by her side, Helen is not sure she has the strength to go on.
Just as Helen is pushed to her breaking point, a mysterious new Scion comes to her rescue. Funny and brave, Orion shields her from the dangers of the Underworld. But time is running out. A ruthless foe plots against them, and the Furies' cry for blood is growing louder.
As the ancient Greek world collides with the mortal one, Helen's sheltered life on Nantucket descends into chaos. But the hardest task of all will be forgetting Lucas Delos."

Did you read the series and what did you think of it? 

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Friday, January 16, 2015

[Review] The Goddess Test (#1) - Aimée Carter

In THE GODDESS TEST, the Perspehone/Hades myth gets retold for the bazillionth time- but this time with a lot more Stockholm Syndrome and less chemistry. 

What intrigued me: I love Greek mythology.

Wait, haven't I seen these people before?

I got very excited when I found out about this novel after being massively disappointed by the sequel to Meg Cabot's ABANDON. Same myth, new characters, another chance, I thought. I felt the entire time like I was reading a very bad fan fiction to a well known novel, which mostly results from the characters being essentially the same. First we have the protagonist Kate, who is forced to grow up very fast despite being a young teenager, because she's taking care of her single parent more than they are taking care of her. She's a loner, she moves to a new town and makes friends.

Enter the bitch friend Ava and the nice guy James who'll probably be part of a love triangle that'll be the base for book two. Then Henry, the mysterious, virgin, super-hot, super educated, millenia-old dream guy comes along, who hates himself and just wants to die. But oh no, he's falling for her and suddenly his life makes sense again. Come on, guys. He also has a bunch of adoptive sisters and brothers, among them are essentially all TWILIGHT characters.

No suspense!

The worst isn't even that the novel doesn't have original characters, it's that there is almost no suspense at all! The most interesting thing about a novel about Greek mythology and gods is finding out who's who, isn't it? So much room for intrigues! But no, Carter simply makes every single character who appears in the novel a god. Aside from Kate and her family. This isn't fun, this is just boring.

And then having the mysterious god no one has ever in 37293729 years caught doing it, trying to kill every lover Henry ever had, I just. No. The story only takes place at Eden Manor, the gate to the Underworld. There is no spin on the myths. We have the river Styx, Cerberus, The Pomegrenade Seeds, it's all in there. I mean, it's okay to base your novel on something, but this is nothing but a YA retelling in the most literal sense.


Rating: 

★☆☆☆☆ 


Overall: Do I Recommend?

There are so many great stories about Greek mythology and especially the Persephone Myth that you really, really don't have to torture yourself through this mess of a novel.



Synopsis:
"Every girl who had taken the test has died.

Now it's Kate's turn.

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 at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that 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 sees 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..."

Have you read THE GODDESS TEST?

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

[Review] Underworld (#2) - Meg Cabot: Greek Mythology and Abuse





In UNDERWORLD, Pierce Oliviera finds herself stuck in the Underworld. Again.

What intrigued me: Liked the first!

Abuse isn't cute

I'm going to start off by saying that the Pierce and John love story is probably the mother of all toxic relationships. There's nothing romantic about a dude that stalks you from your childhood on and one day out of the blue decides that because he's fallen for you, you have to stay with him forever, no matter what you think about that. 

And yeah, even after Pierce fell in love with him, just taking her into the Underworld and not telling her about the whole "if you eat or drink here that's it, you're immortal and staying here forever" thing - not cool. He's manipulative, he's creepy, he's selfish, he's a control freak and probably also a bit insane. The fascination I had with him in ABANDON completely poofed into nothing, he's absolutely and utterly creepy as hell.

Not sure whether our protagonist Pierce is any better. From being strong-willed and in general a character that's easy to identify with, she transformed into a whiny, clingy girlfriend who bursts into tears at even the thought of her boyfriend ever leaving her. Her world only revolves around being with John and after initial half-hearted "but I wanna see my mom" protests, she's all his. Sorry, Pierce, but you just lost all sympathy points. 

The only person who's in their right mind would be the cemetery sexton Richard Smith, who constantly tells those idiotic teenagers that they're being unreasonable, but doesn't get much recognition. It's very frustrating to see how Richard sees through everything immediately and Pierce still thinks she has to close her eyes to the obvious, because, like, omg, her boyfriend is sooooo hot.

Not really a necessary sequel?

As a sequel, UNDERWORLD isn't really what I expected. I wanted action, I wanted tears and blood, I wanted all hell to break loose, maybe the deceased all escaping the underworld at once, because Pierce thought it was a good idea to release them. 

The way Cabot arranged this, it's merely a high school alternate universe retelling of Persephone and Hades. Plus a whole lot of Stockholm-Syndrome on top. It genuinely feels like it could have all been in the first book, because we only get a lot backstory but very little new plot lines. 

The enemies remain the same, some new bad guys quickly appear and are quickly killed, nothing special. I had a hard time getting into this. Also the relationship between John and Pierce is very, very frustrating. They don't seem like a newly-in-love couple but like an old married couple that has already enough of each other. They're constantly bickering, there's absolutely no romance aside from this whole "omg I'd die without you, I'm going to take a bullet for you" thing. Eh. 



Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

Because I liked the first novel so much, I obviously had very high expectations of UNDERWORLD. To me, it focused to much on the Oliviera family and their intrigues instead of actually continuing the story of the protagonists Pierce and John.

As an extra for devoted fans of the series this would be nice to know, but not as an official sequel. It failed in all points to me. No recommendation. Read the first novel and stop right there.



Additional Info

Published: March 8th 2012
Pages: 336
Publisher: Pivot
Genre: YA / Greek Mythology
ISBN: 9780545415071

Synopsis:
"Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead.

Not this time.

But she is being held against her will in the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

Her captor, John Hayden, claims it’s for her own safety. Because not all the departed are dear. Some are so unhappy with where they ended up after leaving the Underworld, they’ve come back as Furies, intent on vengeance…on the one who sent them there and on the one whom he loves.

But while Pierce might be safe from the Furies in the Underworld, far worse dangers could be lurking for her there…and they might have more to do with its ruler than with his enemies.

And unless Pierce is careful, this time there’ll be no escape."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read books by Meg Cabot?

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Recommendation: Abandon by Meg Cabot





In ABANDON, Pierce Oliviera dies but manages to escape the afterlife and return to the realm of the living. Little does she know that the drama isn't over yet. Underworld Keeper John Hayden seems to be everywhere she goes.
What intrigued me: I love Greek mythology!

Instant love and a stalker-y romance?

The story is a retelling of the Persephone and Hades mythos from Greek mythology, but Cabot only took the kidnapping part from this and I'm not sure whether I think it's romantic or pretty close to being abusive and weird. John Hayden - the Hades equivalent and love interest, is our typical angry, thoughtful, heartbroken and mysterious YA character. He's creepy, he spends a lot of time in the cemetery and he's really not someone that you want to meet in the middle of the night on a lonely street. 

Cabot makes sure to set the mood right in the beginning of the novel - his entrance is creepy, he's mean and he seems like he has a lot of issues. Still, this doesn't keep Pierce from being all over him and not even because he's pretty. He's really not that pretty. 

One thing that actually bothered me about the relationship between John and Pierce is that from the beginning she talks about being madly in love with him. But then, throughout the novel we find out that they met only, like, twice? It's a bit insta-love-y. Because the love story actually begins in the last 3/4 of the novel, I find it also a bit rushed. Everything's too fast with these two, especially because Cabot took her time and gave John hardly any appearance in the novel. She went from one extreme to the other and therefore the novel isn't quite the paranormal romance I've expected to read.

Flashbacks and plot twists

The entire plot plays in a span of about three or four days which also makes it very difficult to get the timeline right. Especially if you throw in a hell lot of flashbacks. Good thing that the world of Pierce sucked me in so hard that I wanted to get every piece of information that I could, so I didn't really mind. The plot takes its time and the days are full of events which might be a little unrealistic, but at least it made the reading experience fun and worth my time. At no point the novel had me thinking that I know what's going to happen. The plot twists weren't really massive and only logical, not trying to shock the reader or anything.

Furies, Gods, The Five Rivers of the Underworld, it's all in this. I love that, but due to the fact that the majority of the novel takes please in the, well "Upperworld", we didn't get a chance to see much of that yet. The mythology part is interesting but I feel like it's not as complicated as it has to be in a trilogy. We'll see, I'm definitely going to read the sequels, just because she ended the first novel with a fantastic cliffhanger.



Rating:

★★★★

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

This has everything that I want to read about in a YA mythology novel. It's witty, Pierce is extremely sarcastic and smart and I loved every single thing about it. The pacing may be a little off and the flashbacks too much at times, but there's nothing keeping me from recommending this one.



Additional Info

Published: April 26th 2011
Pages: 304
Publisher: Pivot
Genre: YA / Greek Mythology
ISBN: 9780545284103

Synopsis:
"Though she tries 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. Escape from the realm of the dead is impossible when someone there wants you back.

But now she's moved to a new town. Maybe at her new school, she can start fresh. Maybe she can stop feeling so afraid.

Only she can't. Because even here, he finds her. That's how desperately he wants her back. She 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.

But if she lets herself fall any further, she may just find herself back in the one place she most fears: the Underworld."(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read books by Meg Cabot?

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