summersdream: (thoughtful)
This is a sequel to Goddess Test, and I will explain right up front that this little series is published under the Harlequin Teen imprint so just be aware this is technically a Harlequin. It has does have some actual violence though and fades to black on the sex scenes but it's still a fun little read.

Goddess Test centered around our heroine, Kate Winters, whose mother is dying of cancer getting into a bargain on accident- with Hades. She would try to pass a series of tests to be the new Persephone if he would save her mom. The problem is she's the twelfth candidate for the position and all the others died during the tests but since she's the main character you can guess what happened.

Now, Goddess Interrupted starts in a weird place. Kate is now 18 and married. To the god of the Underworld. She gets back from her summer vacation with her bff James (aka Hermes) and heads down to the Underworld, where Hades barely even acknowledges she's back. Ok he's named Henry in the books because for some reason Aimee Carter decided the gods don't use their old names anymore even amongst each other. The given reason is that Zeus thought the old ones stuck out but um why wouldn't they just use aliases then use the names among one another? And okay if they did pick new names, why did they pick such awful names? Poseidon is named PHILLIP. Srsly. And Zeus is now WALTER. Hades=Henry, Ares=Dylan, Hermes=James, Apollo=Theo, Artemis=Ella, Aphrodite=Ava etc. The only ones who came out okay are probably Demeter=Diana, Athena=Irene, and Hera=Calliope (she specifically took the muse's name, I'm guessing to annoy Zeus).

Hello, I am Walter, King of the Gods! 
Hello, I am Phillip, God of the Sea! 
... these just don't work for me tbh. And no one is convincing me the God of War should be named Dylan in a million years. Dylan is not the name of the God of War in any universe ever existing anywhere. Sorry.

Horrible names aside, the book's pretty good. I like that Hades doesn't just go shmoopy constantly and he actually is a squillion years old and kind of ineffable and inscrutable and such things. It takes him most of the book to sort of get the hint that his wife is just now immortal and also 18 and sometimes he's going to have to actually say things because she isn't going to understand otherwise and possibly will just go around jumping to conclusions and acting insane. Although I sort of wonder about that age difference. Like um... even if her mother is a goddess she's still an 18yo and he's still a squillion years old. OTOH she's Queen of the Underworld and actually has powers similar to his though she's got to learn to use them.

The one thing I do like is that the Olympians do kind of treat Kate like a kid. As far as they are concerned re:her ability to fight the war they're getting into against the titans that she's sort of like the toddler because she has only been immortal for nine months and her powers are still showing up and she's still learning, She and Aphrodite sort of get stuck together because you get the impression Aphrodite's basically the teenage baby-sitter.

The only really stupidly annoying part of these books is something I'm 96% sure is the fault of Harlequin: Kate is a fucking prude. She doesn't outright call Aphrodite/Ava (her best friend and confidante) a slut but she comes close.The morally perfect uprightness was the worst part of the character, tbh. A teenage girl who has grown up in today's high schools, mostly on her own in NYC, and she freaks out that marital affairs exist? And there's a road trip through the underworld where Kate freaks out that there are people burning in eternal fire and such things "There couldn't be anyhing bad enough that they've done!" Uhhh, this girl got history lessons and watched CNN, right...? Because I can think of a few things that people might have done that might deserve some long-ass periods of divine punishment. Serial killers, for instance. Serial rapists. Abusers. ... How does a kid who grew up mostly on her own in NYC, watching news channels in her mom's hospital room not consider this exactly...? 

To the author's credit, Ava doesn't wilt in shame about her nature, but I still could have done without that bitchiness from Kate. I'm only glad that James and Ava both kind of called her out on the fact that she can bitch when she's a squillion years old and still perfect.

The main plot of the books is that Calliope/Hera has turned against the gods and is trying to free Cronus. A lot of titan-freeing going on in popular stories these days, just saying. Hera is sick of Zeus's affairs and she's pissed off that Hades is remarried because she's in love with Hades so now she's decided to kill everyone. And meanwhile, Kate's trying to handle the fact that Hades still seems to be in love with Persephone (who pulled an Arwen for a mortal called, you guessed it, Adonis).

Worse for Kate is that the only way to help out when Cronus captures Zeus, Poseidon and Hades, is to go find Persephone in the Underworld and ask for help. And of course when she meets Persephone she realizes she's kind of out-classed because here's a chick who did actually rule the Underworld for eons, knows the rules and everything better than Kate does. Oh and she's also Kate's big sister, so that sucks.

I loved that the relationship between Kate and Hades is not easy, nor is it perfect. That part is pretty well done, and I genuinely like him. I am not going to call him Henry in a zillion billion years, but he's cool. What I found uncool is that it's talked about how if another queen goes off and dies Hades will probably fade out of depression and I was relieved when later in the book, Kate actually tells him to shove off about that because she's going to help persuade Rhea to help the Olympians whether or not Hades is going to be emo about her absence (granted that I don't think he was going to, but he was at that point desperately trying to talk her into not being an idiot) .

Aand of course because this is a trilogy it ends with another cliff-hanger.

The good points of this book are that Kate is pro-active, the downside is that I skimmed some places because she can go on an inner emo monologue of her insecurities for an entire page. But for an afternoon's reading it's not too bad, it's just not something I'd go around fangirling, because... Walter king of the gods. Srsly. DNW.

summersdream: (ces and lu)
This is the second in a series that began with Switched. I don't know much about the author, Amanda Hocking, but the amazon  page tells me that Switched was self-published and apparently the buzz online got the book noticed and published/distributed enough that it's in Wal-Mart now. I am not going to say that these two are perfect books but they are strong. She's got a simple, straight-forward style and tbh it's kind of a relief after reading through prose-y we-want-to-be-poetic books.

The whole premise is about a girl who one day finds out she's not human- she's a changeling, but not of faeries or pixies, oh no, she's a troll. Troll here being reinterpreted as a more fey-like species who call themselves Trylle and have powers relating to nature and sometime mental abilities that let them convince humans or other Trylle to do stuff, and the Trylle have long been leaving their children with humans to raise. Only unlike traditional fairy changelings, these are left with a purpose: to inherit their host-family's wealth. When the kid comes of age the Trylle find and reclaim them (and their money too). This is kind of ridiculous but kind of intriguing too. Anyway, into that wanders our heroine Wendy who at 17 gets reclaimed early and rather unwillingly, only to find out she's the daughter of the Trylle queen Elora (HAH! WILLOW!!) and heir to the throne. Everything rapidly goes to hell in short order.

Book two is essentially Wendy coming to grips with her status and duty and being as I'm not a teenager anymore I found her a lot less annoying this time around. The thing I like about Wendy is that she is idealistic but she is also capable of seeing reality and even accepting it, and her author doesn't come across as writing some starry-eyed wish-fulfillment claptrap either.

There's some fun features of the Trylle race and way of life, there's a love-triangle because every book now has to have a love triangle by law- but this one's at least a bit more believably like a teenage girl developing one crush and then another- and thank all the gods of literature Wendy isn't an idiot about it.

In all it's a cute, diverting read that is a fun little ride. It's not the best or most addicting but I'll definitely be buying the next book to see what happens.

summersdream: (team bronn)
The last two days I've been stuck on Polyvore because I can't write... anything. I tried writing drills, and then the old stand by of just going through and making lists or writing random whatever stream of consciousness, and then I tried RP posts (I deleted them because if it sounds completely stupidly OOC no I won't post it).

So I give up. I'm finishing The Hunger Games and making Polyvore sets and cleaning the house. Yesterday I got some cleaning done but then I cleaned the bathroom and used the Clorox cleaner because... um, I forgot how insanely horrible my reaction was to it last time. Oops. Sigh. I'm a ditz. So then most of last night was spent on a nebulizer. UGH.

I am just hoping maybe by writing here my imagination will get out of its funk. Please, please, cretivity, come baaaack... *cries*


Book Babbling Time!

Mockingjay (Book 3 of the Hunger Games Trilogy) is... different. I am tempted to use the phrase 'uneven' not because of the actual plot but because it runs straight into the brick wall caused by a strict 1st person narration. It's getting into situations where to keep the narration smooth she'd have to turn Katniss into a total Mary Sue, and I respect and applaud her refusal to do that. Unfortunately the result is a lot of things happening to or around Katniss without her doing them and half the time she's not there for them and it's getting a bit bothersome.

That said, I think this is one of those books that will actually be a much better movie- the story can probably be related more easily without being stuck in one person's head. Especially since our narrator has a head injury for half the book resulting in some rather awkward moments.

The story itself is awesome, and it's a fast read, well-written (with the above considerations taken into account). I can honestly say I admire the ability of Suzanne Collins to write her character even injured and confused and totally lost- it's really awesome to read through Katniss's eyes during a lot of it. I just think a lot of the really interesting story happened when she wasn't there and I hope the movies can portray it.

I like the ending even, although I wish the love triangle could have been resolved without the demonizing of the 3rd party but I sort of understand it. That said, somewhere in my brain I kind of think Katniss and Dany Targaryen should meet up and hang out and go conquer empires together. Dacy Mormont will come too, and it will be awesome.

I do recommend the series, although the 1st novel is by far my favorite. I'm glad I read the full trilogy but I doubt I'll reread Catching Fire or Mockingjay.
summersdream: dany (looking out)
Worked out today! FINALLY. It's been four days off due to asthma flare which makes Summer a sad panda.

I am almost done with The Ruling Sea, which is... I love it but I am conflicted. Robert Redick doesn't seem to have GRR Martin's flare for unforgettable characters: two very large books in and I'm not really finding any of the individuals all that memorable. I find myself slowly deciding to like Hercol, Thasha and a couple others but I'm not weeping along side them or anything which for me is strange. On the other hand I love the story they're a part of. I'm fascinated by it- but I wish so much that I really loved the world the Chathrand is sailing through. I'd give anything to be as hypnotized by Etherhorde or Simjan as I am by Kings Landing or Camorr (Scott Lynch's Locke Lamora series).

So far the most unforgettable character is Felthrup, a 'woken' rat who just wants to be a scholar. The cool twist in the world of Alifros, in which the Chathrand and its inhabitants exist, is that the gods or some magic power is 'waking' the animals and giving them the gift of speech- only this is not Narnia. The rats seem to be going more Rats of NIMH, really. The humans mostly tend to be creeped out or ambivalent about the woken animals although some think they make great pets.

The entire series pretty much takes place on the last of the 'Great Ships,' called the Chathrand. It's a massive giant of a sailing ship crewed by hundreds of men and no one remembers how the ships were made anymore, though most admit that magic had a lot to do with it- if only there were still mages around who knew how to do it. Unfortunately there's not: most magic users are long dead and gone. Except for a meddling, troublesome few. In fact there's not a lot left of Alifros of old: a huge (probably magical) catastrophe happened centuries ago that sank entire lands, leveled cities and kingdoms and empires. They call it the Worldstorm, and to the present some part of it remains in the form of a 'Vortex' that wanders around the wide, endless Ruling Sea, which effectively cuts the world in half.

Most of the action takes place on the Chathrand, which is being put to various nefarious uses by the Empire of Arqual in a bid to undermine its enemy the Mzithrini Pentarchy. There's a lot of politics, magic, and general spycraft going on. To be honest I could do with a little less magic and a few more explosions but there are lots of fantastic moments.

I would definitely recommend The Red Wolf Conspiracy and The Ruling Sea, as long as you are wanting a slower pace of read and an engrossing plot. This isn't an easy, quick read like Hunger Games. There may not be any shiningly brilliant individual characters (I really do like a few of them, I'm just not sure I'll remember them when I put the book down). There is a good plot, lovely descriptions, and lots of twists and turns.

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summersdream

September 2012

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