I absolutely adored Kendare Blake’s series, Anna Dressed in Blood, so when I found out she was writing a new series based around the Greek gods, I knew I had to get my hands on Antigoddess, the first in the Goddess War series.
The book alternates perspective between goddess Athena and her brother, Hermes, and the everyday life of teenager, Cassandra, and her boyfriend, Aidan. Both Athena and Hermes are dying slowly, as Athena’s body is slowly becoming filled with feathers whilst Hermes’ is diminishing and leaving him bony and weak. This is the first time anything has happened to weaken the gods of old, and they are desperately seeking a cure for their ailments. They are aware that the other gods are also suffering, but there are two sides to this fight as gods are being targeted in the hope that their life force will cure this imminent death.
Elsewhere, Cassandra and Aidan attend school like any normal teenager, maintaining a close relationship with their friend, Andie. They have been friends for years, and Cassandra seemingly has the ability to predict the future. She can predict the outcome of a coin toss or hockey game but, so far, nothing more serious than that. There is a blank space in her future which she believes is the loss of her power, proving to be more of a concern when her visions intensify. She begins to receive images of the dying gods or of impending threats, but has little idea how to prevent them or even where they will occur.
During their search, Athena and Hermes are told that they must seek out the prophetess, Cassandra, who was once known as Cassandra of Troy. In doing so, they risk bringing trouble to her front door and leading their enemies right to the person who could be the key for the cure. They meet up with other gods and heroes along the way, and find that they have a big fight on their hands to get past Aidan’s protection and unlock Cassandra’s power.
I found this book quite confusing to describe, as despite being the Goddess War series, there wasn’t really a hint of a war until the concluding chapters. Yes, there was animosity between the gods, but the opposing factions are relatively small and the majority of well-known mythological figures have not yet been featured. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the concept of gods walking the earth, as well as several of the Trojan characters being resurrected in the present day.
Throughout her respective chapters, I found Cassandra to be a captivating and well-developed character, as there is a fine balance between her anxiety about her visions and her normal teenage life. She has her family, friends and boyfriend, not sharing in the angst that is so prevalent in current YA literature. What I also liked was her underlying strength, which came out in full force towards the close of the book, when she is under pressure and has to defend those she cares about with all she has.
Sadly, what let this book down for me was the other perspective of Athena and Hermes. I just couldn’t connect with her as a character, especially one who seems to be the main protagonist, as she was apathetic and cruel for the most part, with little vulnerability to empathise with. She was known as the virgin goddess, and plays around with the emotions of hero, Odysseus, despite knowing how much he cares about her. I thought she was utterly ruthless at times, in such a way that was cold and unnecessary, making her almost as barbaric as the ones pursuing her. She wasn’t like those who are so bad you can’t help but love them, so I think a lot of development is needed to make her relatable.
On the whole, I thought that the initial set up for this series was a little shaky; as one of my characters was killed off who I felt sure would be instrumental to the plotline. There was still no explanation for how the killer diseases started amongst the gods, or why some have turned against each other and how Cassandra could possibly cure them. I’m hoping a lot of these questions will be answered in book two, as so far this series was missing that spark that keeps me hooked. Admittedly, my expectations are high for any work by Kendare Blake, so I definitely haven’t given up hope yet. The fight scenes and pacing were still impeccably written, so I’m expecting great things. Verdict
I wasn’t sure what to make of this new series, as it didn’t excite me quite so much as Anna Dressed in Blood. I found myself more drawn towards Cassandra and Aidan’s story, and almost disliking Athena’s plotline. She was a difficult character to connect to, and considering how the book ends, I would hope that she improves in the sequel. Rating: 4 Stars
Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (Goddess War #1) Fantasy, Young Adult Tor Teen (10 Sept 2013) Hardback: 333 pages
Already a bestseller in ebook format, Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons has now been released in paperback in an attempt to introduce more readers to this quirky contemporary romance.
The book follows the relationships of sisters, Emma and Rachel, with their respective other halves and the sense of discontent which is sneaking into their lives. Emma is a high-flying book editor on the verge of securing a potential bestseller for the company, and is looking forward to planning her wedding with fiancé, Martin. He adores her, frequently surprising her with meals, champagne and weekends away. However, Emma can’t help but feel a little wary at the prospect of married life, having no desire to give up her career just yet. When her handsome and devilish new author starts making advances towards her, she finds herself struck with a moral dilemma.
Elsewhere, Rachel is happily married to Steve and spends her days looking after their three children while he works. With how her children behave, her days are often a long, hard slog, struggling to get them ready to go out or to have a minute alone. When Steve drops the bombshell that he has been offered a job in Edinburgh, there is increasing unrest in the home, as Rachel is conflicted about leaving everything she knows behind. The bond between them starts to break down, and she finds solace in talking to her kindly neighbour, Tom, who is clearly attracted to her, even if she can’t see it.
With their relationships under stress, both Rachel and Emma find support in each other and in their parents, Diana and Edward, from whom we also get some perspective passages. They provide some much needed grounding for the girls, even if they can’t solve all of life’s problems. We also get to meet Rachel’s fellow mothers and Emma’s work colleagues, who each provide copious amounts of humour and help to lighten the tone of the book.
What this book prides itself on is the deliverance of the classic message, ‘you don’t know what you have until it’s gone’. It helps to put life into perspective, and reinforce that boredom or dissatisfaction with a relationship can be temporary, and to be careful how you act upon it. I think the book was somewhat more serious that I expected in its treatment of family life and relationships, as I had anticipated more of a predictable happy ending than I received. I was pleasantly surprised, and enjoyed getting to know the sisters in more detail as the plot progressed.
For once, in a book with multiple perspectives, I didn’t actually have a favourite sister, as I enjoyed both Emma and Rachel’s dilemmas in equal amounts. Emma’s work/life balance was in dangerous territory as she grew closer to her new author, Richard, despite knowing that he has a dreadful reputation as a ladies man. I think she was somewhat typical in wanting a touch of excitement before settling down into marriage, but at the same time she maintains her morality and is always mindful of Martin’s feelings. There are obviously moments when she slips up and drama ensues, but I think everything worked out as it should in her story.
As for Rachel, I really enjoyed seeing her daily struggles with the children, as it gave ample opportunity for witty, childish antics, and perfectly captured the difficulties of parenthood. Like her sister, Rachel felt her brain had become numb from disuse in being a housewife, growing bored with her suburban life when Steve is repeatedly late home from work. She feels trapped, despite the love she feels for her children, and finds it more and more difficult to have an adult conversation with Steve without it descending into a row. I think she just needed to find a chance to be herself again, and would have liked a little more detail about Rachel in the concluding chapter.
As expected, the book does have a happy ending, albeit coloured by events that transpire. There is a genuine sense that happiness will now be possible for both parties, and that a balance will be achieved in both lives. I really enjoyed the overarching message of the book, and found that I could really connect to both sisters. Both of their dilemmas are something that many women experience and easily relatable, as the seriousness of life becomes repetitive and fun feels like it is disappearing.
I did have a few problems with this book, which I think primarily resulted from the writing style. It was written in the present tense, an unusual choice for most novels, and I thought it sometimes jarred and made it a little more difficult to read. I also found some of the girls’ actions repetitive, as I lost count of the number of glasses of champagne, wine or gin and tonics that were consumed throughout the book. It seemed that whenever there was a problem, out came the alcohol and the potential drunken drama that might follow. Regardless, I thought this was a fun book with a serious message behind it, and I owe a special mention to Rachel’s Swiss friend, Christa, who has a witty tale at every juncture and often stole the show. Verdict
This was a fun contemporary novel that lives to remind us that you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. It teaches you to appreciate the relationships in your life, but at the same time is a little too serious if you’re expecting a fun romance read. Nevertheless, the sisterly protagonists both have interesting lives, and it is difficult to choose a favourite between them. Rating: 3.5 Stars
Not Quite Perfect by Annie Lyons Contemporary Romance Carina UK (18 July 2014) Paperback: 384 pages
I can't really say that I loved Emily, Gavin or Dillon. Their characters didn't speak to me very well and I felt that their love triangle was a little forced. Emily seemed to be a nice girl in the beginning but after a while I noticed she had a little bit of a spiteful streak. Around 150 pages she had to go to Gavin's home with Dillon, as he needed to sort out some work business with Gavin, and a girl was there called Natasha. I realised when listening to Natasha she wasn't the brightest bulb, but she seemed like a nice girl and treated Emily well and with respect. However, Emily didn't really reciprocate and instead blatantly took the piss out of her in front of Gavin in a private little joke.
I also felt uncomfortable with how Emily and Gavin interacted with each other, even though Dillon was in the next room. Not that Dillon was a very nice guy but I still felt as though their feelings towards one another should have been held in check, and I didn't like the fact that Gavin flirted and stroked Emily's arm, when Dillon was in the other room. I felt as though Dillon was portrayed as the bad guy, a little bit controlling and not very nice at times, but he did show that he loved Emily in his own way, although this certainly doesn't condone his actions. His indiscretion with Monica at the party and the aftermath felt a little bit rich coming from Emily, as she was basically doing the same behind Dillon's back with Gavin.
Dillon's actions got worse as the chapters went by and yet Emily didn't change at all. She continued to apologise for him, excepted the way he spoke to her, and because there was no growth, the heroine did annoy me quite a bit. To be honest I couldn't really understand the attraction that Gavin had for her. Although he describes her as beautiful and sexy etc etc, her personality was one who was rather weak, which personally I find a turn off.
After all Dillon's wrongdoings and the way he spoke to her, she forgives him every time. The fact that she felt these feelings for Gavin, had kissed him and had sex with him, I found it really hard to be on her side when she decided to stay with Dillon, and not just a with him, but agreed to marry him! I wanted to shake Emily and slap her annoying face.
Gavin is portrayed as somebody who is extremely good looking and I felt that while reading it he's character did ooze sexuality, and I did like him for that, although I didn't really get to know him. The author didn't go beyond his sexiness, his dashing good looks etc for most of the story, it was more about Gavin and Emily, at different situations and at different functions, staring or glancing at each other across a crowded room, but there was no real dialogue between them, and I wanted them over the time to get to know each other so that I could believe in the instant love that they had for one another.
Gavin came onto Emily nearly every time he saw. He would touch her, try and kiss her, talk to her about how much he loves her… it did get a little bit tedious, and the fact that she was going out with one of his friends, even if that friend was a douche bag, was a little bit underhanded.
I would just have preferred to learn about Gavin and Emily's feelings for each other through their thoughts rather than actions, until Emily was ready to give up on Dillon and their relationship, as what they were doing was ultimately cheating and it made for a bit of an uncomfortable reading. Although I am not adverse to reading books with difficult situations I just felt that Dillon was put in a bad light by the author just so we wouldn't look upon Emily and Gavin in a bad way, as though their actions would be justified. But that doesn't really work for me, and it did take away from the romance of the novel as I couldn't really connect with their romantic feelings because she was already seeing somebody else.
I totally believe in lust at first sight, but love at first sight is hard to believe unless the author can write it in such a way that the reader believes it without question, it's a hard thing to pull off. Most of their dialogue was pretty forced. It was quite jokey and sometimes their banter seemed a little off, it didn't quite ring true although I understand that banter is good, it just didn't really work for me.
The secondary characters were all pretty good. Olivia was my favourite. She is a no holds barred kind of girl and she stood out as one of the characters I'd love to see get their own book. I'm not sure if that's where this series is heading but if it does branch out into some of the other characters lives, Olivia is definitely one I would be interested in reading. She started off fancying men but after lots of things going wrong with them she decided to switch camps and become a lesbian, although she says that she bats for both sides, which is great and suits her personality. She's quite feisty and down to earth, and I'd be interested in reading her story and to see who she would end up.
Emily's other friend, Fallon, who she met at work, and Olivia's brother, Trevor, get together. I would like to see their story told as well, although they looked as though they were getting along fine and so I'm not sure that their story has anywhere to go.
I will probably move onto the next book in the series, Pulse, as I'm just curious to find out what happens next, I'm not sure how far far I will go into the series, it will depend on how each book reads.
This wasn't the best new adult romance I have read. However it does have certain endearing qualities that I would recommend. Overall it was a good read and I read it in a couple of sittings, which says a lot about a book, it's definitely engaging and it's quick read even though it's over 400 pages. However, for the first 200-250 pages it was quite a light read, but as things started to come to a head it got more and more intense and a little bit overwrought. The intensity almost became unbearable.
The book ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger but luckily I had an eARC of book two waiting on my shelf, so I started reading straight away. I read this book last year, so I apologise if my review is somewhat disjointed, but hopefully it helps you to decide if it is a book you'd like to invest time in. Rating: 3.5 Stars
Collide by Gail McHugh (Collide #1) New Adult Contemporary Romance Atria Books (2014) Paperback: 400 pages
I haven't read anything by Erica Hayes before, but after reading a few reviews for Scorched, and seeing that it was on NetGalley for review, I decided to give it a go. And I'm so pleased I did. After the first chapter I realised that this was going to be my kind of book. The author pulls no punches; the writing is gritty, witty and dark - just the way I like it.
The heroine, Verity Fortune, aka The Seeker, is complex and slightly damaged, but completely badass. She's a superhero among a family of superheroes. People at large know that they exist but only because they wear costumes and masks, without them their true identities are unknown and so the superheroes (and villains) can go on with their 'normal' daily lives without recognition. Verity's family also owns FortuneCorp, one of the biggest corporations in Sapphire City, and are well respected.
The book begins with Verity being tortured, held captive by an unknown source, although she thinks it's Razorfire, the biggest, baddest Villain of them all. Her superpowers are being held in check by an augmentium helmet, made from a specific material that prevents her using her telekinetic powers. Fortunately, there is a moment when Verity takes a chance and manages to break free. Her only thought is to get back to her family, and to plan her vengeance on Razorfire, for her lost months, for the unrelenting torture, for her scarred face, and for the people of Sapphire City. Slowly throughout the novel the story of her life unravels, her lost memories slowly return after the months and months of torture, and many of the unresolved questions are answered. But things are not always as they seem.
What I loved about Scorched was the fact that reader doesn't know any more than Verity. When she's confused so are we, when she asks questions we do to, and when she finds out the answers to those questions, we are right along side her. This made for a very exciting read. There are a lot of mistakes made along the way as she tries to figure out who is behind her kidnapping, and the murder of her father, Thomas Fortune, aka Blackstrike, the city's best loved crime-fighter, but eventually we do get some answers and they are HUGE, leaving Verity reeling and wanting to seek revenge. How Verity will recover I don't know, but it will definitely make for a very interesting second book.
Although I found out the majority of answers at the same time as Verity, I did have my suspicions about the identity of Razorfire, and I was proven right when his identity was revealed, in the most AWESOME way. But that was the only aspect I had an inkling about, everything else came as a surprise, which I loved. It really kept me on my toes. The flashbacks she has tell us the story regarding her father, her brother (Adonis) and sister (Equity) and Razorfire. As the story moves forward, and as Verity uncovers more and more about her kidnappers, we realise that her memory is not always accurate and can be deceiving.
The relationships Verity has with other characters are interesting and I really enjoyed her relationship with Glimmer, another superhero who decides to help her in her quest, as well as for his own reasons, and with Razorfire. I liked that she was pulled between good and evil. It was interesting to find out why she felt so divided and conflicted all the time. Glimmer would call her back to the good side and remind her what it is to be a superhero, but then she would take a different route and walk a dark path, which she would instantly regret. There's not really any romance in Scorched, but there is possibly a hint to one, but this book didn't need it, even if I wanted it (I do love a bit of romance).
I haven't read such a good book in a long time. I loved the world building, the characters, the story; practically everything about it was just spot-on. There are so many twists and turns, and I loved finding things out along with Verity rather than be given the answers by the author.
Scorched is a fantastic start to a new series, and a really refreshing urban fantasy/superhero tale that I simply gobbled up. I can't wait for book two, which will hopefully be released sometime later this year. If you're looking for something gritty, exciting, and fresh with complex and interesting characters, then Scorched is the book for you.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Scorched by Erica Hayes Urban Fantasy / Superhero Harper Impulse (22 May 2014) Ebook: 296 pages