Greek mythology

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Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry (buddy read with Stuart from Always Trust In Books)

Published March 6, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The Greek myths are the greatest stories ever told, passed down through millennia and inspiring writers and artists as varied as Shakespeare, Michelangelo, James Joyce and Walt Disney.

They are embedded deeply in the traditions, tales and cultural DNA of the West. In Stephen Fry’s hands the stories of the titans and gods become a brilliantly entertaining account of ribaldry and revelry, warfare and worship, debauchery, love affairs and life lessons, slayings and suicides, triumphs and tragedies.

You’ll fall in love with Zeus, marvel at the birth of Athena, wince at Cronus and Gaia’s revenge on Ouranos, weep with King Midas and hunt with the beautiful and ferocious Artemis.

Thoroughly spellbinding, informative and moving, Stephen Fry’s Mythos perfectly captures these stories for the modern age – in all their rich and deeply human relevance.

And now for something a bit different…

Hello everyone and welcome to a very special review on my blog. A little while ago, I participated in my first ever buddy read with Stuart who blogs over at Always Trust in Books (and is an awesome blogger so you should all go follow him if you don’t already!). So far we’ve read the first two books in the brilliant Arc Of A Scythe series by Neal ShustermanScythe and Thunderhead and we’ve read a little non-fiction too – Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt. In December we read The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton more recently we dived back into the world of Neal Shusterman in his collaboration with his son Jarrod which resulted in the novel Dry.

Stuart and I ummed and aaahed for a little bit about how we wanted to review our books – individually or more of a collaboration and he had the brilliant idea of capturing our Twitter chat and then including it as part of our review. So please find here before our thoughts and feelings about Mythos at the moment of reading it. If you’re worried about spoilers, never fear! Stuart and I deliberately kept the juicier parts of the narrative very vague so if you haven’t read this yet, no big secrets are given away.

What did WE think?:

Stuart: All finished and ready for Mythos! How about 3 parts this time? P129, p273 and finish?

Beth: Great plan! See you soon 👍🏻

Stuart: Is it just me or are you reading it as if Stephen Fry is saying it as well? 😂

Stuart: He had me at palaeoanthropological!

Stuart: ‘It screws with the head, but there it is’. Classic Fry!

Beth: Just about to start, very excited! I think I might have a different edition to you – p129 for me is halfway through a story. Do you mean up to the part beginning The Punishments? 🤔

Beth: Ooh a map and a family tree!

Beth: Seminal semantic semiology from the semen of the sky?! 😂 I love how his voice comes across!

Stuart: P129 for me is the page after the pictures section. Maybe p131 is better?

Beth: That’s perfect! 👌🏻

Stuart: ‘I will shout in triumph, just to annoy that prick Poseidon’ 😂 another quality Fry translation!

Stuart: I am ready. We always get the most interesting stopping points. Zeus is pissed!

Beth: I know – oooh he does NOT want to piss Zeus off!! How are you finding it so far? Did you know anything about Greek mythology prior to reading this?

Stuart: I knew of quite a few of the Olympians like Hera, Hermes, Poseidon, Hephaestus and such. I also knew the other collectives like the fates and furies. I had no idea how it gelled together though. I couldn’t believe the creations of Aphrodite, Athena and Hermes though. Fry is just class through and through. I want him to narrate everything 😂.

Beth: He absolutely should! What you said at the beginning was so true – it reads almost as if he’s in the room with you, it’s fantastic! I studied Greek mythology for a little while at school

but it was a long time ago and we didn’t cover everything. There’s certainly brand new parts for me that I really enjoyed like how the honeybee got its sting! 🐝 I was a bit worried at the start because it seemed to be name after name and was quite overwhelming but now it’s more about the stories I’m really enjoying it. 😁

Stuart: It is a lot to take in, I completely agree. I am going to have to read this multiple times I think to solidfy it into my memory. I am enjoying the imagery of the myths and lore but its Stephen Fry’s approach to the material that makes this book amazing for me. Its almost a soap opera but with all the Fryisms you could ask for.

Beth: Yes! Just the little one liners and the way the gods have conversations with each other that just shriek of Fry’s classic humour. He’s such a legend. What do you think of the gods themselves. That Zeus is a bit of a one isn’t he? 😂

Stuart: I find the idea of each generation of leader being destined to be destroyed or overpowered by their children an interesting concept. I think all the loop holes and accidents that create natural occurences to be compelling. Like the Honey Bee or the Cyclopes bringing thunder and lightening with them. Having a divine explanation for each and every element of existence instead of just saying, yeah God created it. I am interested in the God side of things bit I am more looking forward to the demi-gods and creatures that will hopefully pop up. Medusa got a fleeting mention but I hope Fry will pick that up again later. What is one thing you want to gain from reading this book?

Beth: Yes I love the story of Medusa, looking forward to that one. I really enjoy all the different monsters, my favourite is probably Theseus and the Minotaur but I think Fry suggested this might be covered in the Heroes book? 🤔 I think I’d like to re-discover my love for Greek mythology and also get a glimpse into how the Greeks have affected contemporary times, like the words we still use today. How about you?

Stuart: I want to learn more about how the Greeks developed language, art and story-telling through the worship of their gods. I find mythology fascinating and I am keen to flesh out my knowledge of how all of the Greek Legends fit together. Fry’s own passion for Greek lore is infectious, I think it is going to be easier and easier to get lost in this book!

Stuart: In a good way 😃

Beth: For sure. I’m really enjoying the pictures/sculptures too. I saw the Aphrodite Botticelli painting recently (in real life) and it was pretty amazing!

Stuart: Art is one thing I would definitely like to get more into. I could read about art and painters all day but I hardly get the opportunity to go out and visit a gallery. Shall we continue our excursion into the world of Greek Legends?

Beth: Yes let’s do it! See you soon. 👋🏻

Stuart: I’ve made it! How are you getting on?

Beth: I’m at the checkpoint too! Oh I’m loving Fry’s dry wit so much. Especially that last section with Death and the “Mwahahaha!” 😂

Stuart: He does add a great aesthetic to the individuals and how they come to interact with each other. The mid section is even more packed than the beginning! Pandora. Demeter. Humankind. Heart and Soul. What do you think so far?

Beth: I’m enjoying it! His flair with story-telling just adds to the myths themselves and makes them feel richer somehow and even a bit contemporary if that makes any sense? I was so pleased to see my favourite story in there – the one with Persephone but had forgotten how they brought the changing of the seasons into it. Have you got a favourite so far?

Stuart: Definitely Phaethon crashing Apollo’s chariot into the earth and creating the Sahara desert. Amazing imagery. With so many stories packed in here, there are so many to choose from. I really liked the healthcare section too and how close humanity got to immortality. It is hard to keep track of it all though. Well for me at least 😅

Beth: No definitely for me too! So many names and who is related to whom, I am finding that tricky. When he starts rolling off name after name I find my eyes start glazing over a bit until we get to another story. 😂 Like you said, I’m loving the parts that relate to our world now like the changing of the seasons and the misery unleashed from opening Pandora’s *jar* not box! 😆

Stuart: So glad it wasn’t just me. It’s great that you pick up on moments like the jar instead of the box because I totally do too. I took that bit of trivia and tucked it away in my brain for later 😂. I have to say that the greeks have some insane explanations for how the world came to be, mainly how humanity was reborn… I wonder what other disturbing events we have in store in the third act…

Beth: I totally did that for the trivia too haha!! 😂 I think we’ve got plenty of interesting things in store for us for the final section (probably more parts of Zeus’ body to bear children from?!) Shall we read till the end? 😁

Stuart: You can’t get better than a thigh baby though, can you? Let’s do it! See you at the end.

Stuart: Consistently inconsistent 😂. The third section was really good! I’m ready to talk!

Beth: Me too! Ah I’m kind of sorry it’s all over. 😓

Stuart: It’s okay, we have Heroes to look forward to in July 😃

Beth: That’s very true! 😁 What are your thoughts overall? For me it was quite nostalgic being reminded of my favourite Greek myths and I loved that I got to learn brand new ones. Yes all the names were a bit too much at times but his voice and sense of humour really made up for that.

Stuart: I was more aware of the actual gods and mortals than how they actually fit into the bigger picture. I got my greek mythology lessons from video games and movies but it was great to go right back the source. Stephen Fry did an impressive job of being both informative and passionate with the subject matter which can sometimes be difficult for writers. I’m just amazed about how much depth there is in this book!

Beth: Yes absolutely the effort he put into researching it was incredible. Did you pick up that he mentioned he studied Ancient Greek in the Afterword? It must be a topic he’s passionate about and that definitely comes across in the writing.

Stuart: Fry is a knowledgeable man and he breathes new life into these legends and adds up to date insights into how the mythology grew, expanded and translated over the centuries which is exactly what I was looking for. I was also looking for laughs from Fry and he delivered that as well. How did you get on with all the themes and tones of the writing. It got quite unabashedly explicit at times which Fry encouraged I think 😂. It is easy to believe that Ancient Greek Legends is where the substance and meaning of stories was born. Do you agree?

Beth: I certainly do! 😆 he brought far more personality and vibrancy to the Greek Gods than I ever could have imagined. I liked that he focused on a few different topics like what happens when the gods fall in love, get jealous etc. I was already familiar with the story of Arachne and what happens to her when she dares to challenge a goddess at weaving but Fry really made it come alive by the way he told it, making it a sadder tale than I remembered! 🕷🕸

Stuart: He really hit his stride in the last chapters of the book and I couldn’t get enough. Sisyphus and the boulder. Marsyas The Musical. Arachne the Weaver. Midus. The swallow and nightingale. Arion and the Dolphin (so good). I didn’t want it to end after hearing all of those tales back to back.

Beth: Aw I loved Arion and the Dolphin 🐬 especially what happened to those sailors in the end! I also thought the story of Echo and Narcissus was very sad. They seemed to have a story for all moods didn’t they?

Stuart: So much imagination and creativity is present in every single story here and it is hard not to be inspired. You’re right, a story for every mood. A lesson or warning for every reader. We owe our language and our ability to tell great stories from this culture and I couldn’t think of a better person than Stephen Fry to convey that in a charming and meaningful way that makes you want to know and understand these figures and stories better.

Beth: Perfectly put! 👍🏻 We’re going to be reading Heroes together right?! 😆

Stuart: Absolutely. Are you happy to wait till June 27th for the paperback release?

Beth: Oh yes. 😁

Here endeth the Twitter chat.

Final thoughts

I had Mythos on my radar for a while now, ever since I started hearing the buzz about it and then realised it was written by Stephen Fry whose personality and dry wit I just adore. As I mentioned in the Twitter chat, I studied Greek Mythology for a little while at school but hadn’t read anything for a while so I was excited to remind myself of my old favourite stories and satisfy my curiosity as to how Fry would put his spin on the classic myths. Well, from the very first moment, as we mentioned, it felt as if Fry was almost jumping off the pages towards us. His voice, intelligence and sense of fun came across beautifully and personally, I feel he brought a modern and rather unique flavour to these stories, making them accessible for a potentially brand new audience.

Stephen Fry, author of Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold (Stephen Fry’s Great Mythology #1)

There were parts of this book where it wasn’t all plain sailing but in the grand scheme of things, they’re such minor quibbles that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of Fry’s work in the least. Fry begins telling us the story of the Gods of Mount Olympus from the very beginning i.e. how the Earth came to be, the battles between the titans, the founding of the twelve principle Gods under the helm of head man, Zeus and even how humans were created (and occasionally messed around with!). This was all incredibly interesting and something I don’t believe I studied in much detail at school but I have to admit, there are a lot of names and intricate relationships to get to grips with initially and there were points where I felt quite overwhelmed by the amount of detail we’re given as a reader. However, please don’t let this put you off as once Fry gets into the meat of each individual story, it’s as juicy and riveting as you might expect.

Stand-out stories? I immediately go back to particular favourites that just became even richer on a second reading as an adult – primarily the story of Persephone and the god of the Underworld, Hades and additionally, the tale of Arachne the weaver and the proud goddess whom she manages to infuriate. I was also pleasantly surprised at the extra little mythological details Fry included like the reason behind the changing of the seasons, how the honeybee got its sting, why the spider spins a web, to name a few. The author makes this collection so much more special by including instances like imagined conversations between gods or gods versus humans where his unique and hilarious humour is allowed to shine through and makes the stories instantly more readable, relatable and almost up-to-date in their execution. Stuart and I enjoyed this collection so much that we’ve instantly agreed to read the second book in this series, Heroes together when it comes out in paperback in the summer and I’m eagerly anticipating another brilliant, illuminating book from the genius that is Stephen Fry.

Thank you to Stuart from Always Trust In Books for another amazing buddy read – check out his review on his blog at some point today!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

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Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2017 – MAY READ – The Sea Of Monsters (Percy Jackson And The Olympians #2) – Rick Riordan

Published June 2, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The heroic son of Poseidon makes an action-packed comeback in the second must-read installment of Rick Riordan’s amazing young readers series. Starring Percy Jackson, a “half blood” whose mother is human and whose father is the God of the Sea, Riordan’s series combines cliffhanger adventure and Greek mythology lessons that results in true page-turners that get better with each installment. In this episode, The Sea of Monsters, Percy sets out to retrieve the Golden Fleece before his summer camp is destroyed, surpassing the first book’s drama and setting the stage for more thrills to come.

What did I think?:

Chrissi and I read the first Percy Jackson book, The Lightning Thief last year on our Kid Lit challenge and we enjoyed it so much that we were determined to continue the series this year. The brilliance of Rick Riordan’s story-telling abilities combines everything I love in a good children’s book perfectly and he is a master at moulding action-packed sequences with essential character development without slowing down the pace or changing the atmosphere of the narrative.

So if you don’t know who Percy Jackson is yet, let me enlighten you and then strongly suggest you hunt down the first book in the series! Percy is a teenage boy who has recently found out he is a half-blood – a very special creature indeed. His mother is mortal but his father just happens to be a god. Not just any god either – Poseidon, famed ruler of the oceans. In the first novel, Percy was accepted at Camp Half-Blood, a training camp for young teenagers to make friends and hone their powers. There is however, much danger and rivalry between certain fractions of the immortals (and half-bloods) and this has led to Percy finding out a lot about what both he and other, perhaps less trustworthy individuals are capable of.

In The Sea Of Monsters, a special, one of a kind tree at Camp Half-Blood has been poisoned and the camp is in dire straits,its safety severely compromised and the threat of other-worldly monsters attacking the camp looming larger than ever. The only hope for its recovery is if someone travels through the perilous Sea Of Monsters to retrieve Jason’s Golden Fleece which will revive the tree and give the camp some much needed protection once again. Of course, our young hero gets involved as he also has a dear friend captive on the same island being terrorised by a Cyclops that he is determined to rescue. It is guaranteed that both the journey and the quest will be terribly dangerous however and Percy must draw on all of his strength and the loyalty of his friends and fellow travellers if he is to succeed.

Once again, Rick Riordan’s imagination and sheer talent for creating such a fantastical world just blew me away. I’m an avid reader of anything to do with Greek mythology after studying it for a brief period at school and some parts of the narrative were so nostalgic for me as it brought back happy memories of learning the myths for the first time. The author has written some wonderful characters, notably Percy of course but I also loved his best friend, Annabeth and a new friend/half brother called Tyson who is part Cyclops but incredibly sweet and vulnerable. There’s an undercurrent of humour running throughout the story which I always appreciate and it’s just an amazing fictional world to inhabit for the short time that you’re reading it. Really looking forward to the next book in the series now – will we be able to wait until next year?!

For Chrissi’s fabulous review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

NEXT TIME ON BETH AND CHRISSI DO KID-LIT 2017: The Prime Minister’s Brain by Gillian Cross.

 

Everbound (Everneath #2) – Brodi Ashton

Published February 5, 2017 by bibliobeth

13115995

What’s it all about?:

Nikki Beckett could only watch as her boyfriend, Jack, sacrificed himself to save her, taking her place in the Tunnels of the Everneath for eternity — a debt that should’ve been hers. She’s living a borrowed life, and she doesn’t know what to do with the guilt. And every night Jack appears in her dreams, lost and confused and wasting away.

Desperate for answers, Nikki turns to Cole, the immortal bad boy who wants to make her his queen — and the one person least likely to help. But his heart has been touched by everything about Nikki, and he agrees to assist her in the only way he can: by taking her to the Everneath himself.

Nikki and Cole descend into the Everneath, only to discover that their journey will be more difficult than they’d anticipated — and more deadly. But Nikki vows to stop at nothing to save Jack — even if it means making an incredible sacrifice of her own.

In this enthralling sequel to Everneath, Brodi Ashton tests the bonds of destiny and explores the lengths we’ll go to for the ones we love.

What did I think?:

It’s always tricky reviewing the second book in a series so I’m going to try and keep this review as spoiler free as possible! For anybody who hasn’t come across the Everneath series before it’s heavily based on Greek mythology (one of my favourite things) but set in contemporary times. The Everneath itself is the equivalent of the Greek Hades and is ruled over by a Queen (who is slightly more tyrannical than the Greek Persephone). It’s definitely become one of my favourite YA series and not just because of the mythological nod. I love the characters, the plot and the world building – basically, it’s just a darn good read if you like your fiction a little fantastical.

Our main character is Nikki Beckett whom in the first book, experienced all the horrors of the Everneath through Cole, a resident of the area. At the time, her mother had died, she was having problems with her boyfriend Jack and generally wasn’t in a good place. However, visiting the Everneath with Cole came at a price. After coming back to her normal life, she was compelled to return to the Everneath after a period of six months for good and is desperately trying to figure a way around it after she was happily reconciled with Jack. The first book ends with a bit of a bang leaving both Nikki and Jack’s lives in danger. With the help of Cole, she must return once more to the Everneath to save both her and her boyfriend’s lives. Entering the Everneath with the hope of escaping is not going to be an easy task in any way, shape or form. Nikki must penetrate the three barriers of wind, fire and water, avoid zombie-like creatures that wander aimlessly around and the furious Queen if she can possibly help it and manage to escape out the other side, back to the real world with both her and Jack’s lives intact.

This is a brilliant and very strong second book in the Everneath series. I love Nikki as a character, she’s independent and determined and although she has been through multiple traumatic experiences she seems to come out of it relatively scar free with more motive than ever before. I’m not usually a fan of love triangles (cue eye rolling) in YA fiction but I really rate the characters of both Jack and Cole, the latter of which just fascinates me. For Jack fans, there is less of him to savour in this outing but we do get a few flashbacks of the early stages of his relationship with Nikki which was lovely to read. Finally, the world building which I mentioned earlier is just phenomenal and so imaginative. I could really picture the Everneath in my mind’s eye and whilst Nikki is there, the action is full throttle and incredibly thrilling. I’m definitely looking forward to the final book in the trilogy now and will feel a bit sad when it all comes to an end!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

Beth And Chrissi Do Kid-Lit 2015 – DECEMBER READ – The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1)

Published December 31, 2015 by bibliobeth

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What’s it all about?:

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can’t seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse-Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy’s mom finds out, she knows it’s time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he’ll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends — one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena — Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

What did I think?:

This is the final book in our Kid-Lit series for this year, the beginning of the hugely popular Percy Jackson series and my very first read from Rick Riordan. Well, we’ve certainly ended this year with a bang as this was a real cracker of a book and I can now understand why it is so loved by children (and probably adults) the world over. Our hero is Percy Jackson, a twelve year old boy whom when we first meet him seems just like an ordinary kid, apart from the fact that he changes boarding schools every year due to his behaviour which could be described as disruptive. Professionals have tried to explain his sometimes unruly character as a mixture of things ranging from dyslexia to ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) but we soon find out that Percy Jackson is probably the furthest away from being a normal kid as you can get. For Percy is a demi-god or half-blood, sired by a rather famous Greek God and a mortal woman.

Of course he does not know this in the beginning but he begins to get an inkling that he might be a bit special after a strange incident occurs on his class trip one day. Well, meeting and destroying one of Hades leathery-winged, fang-baring Furies isn’t one of your everyday occurrences, especially as he was so certain she was a normal, run of the mill school teacher! However, it turns out Percy is incredibly different from your average demi-god being the son of one of The Big Three: Zeus, Poseidon or Hades which gives him some amazing powers but also leads to him being a jucier target for monsters in the mortal world. Desperate to keep him safe Percy’s mother sends him to Camp Half-Blood, a place for the children of Gods to train, harness their powers and go on exciting quests.

It is not long before Percy finds himself in possession of a great and dangerous quest – to find and return Zeus’s beloved lightning bolt which was stolen from him and is now believed to be in the Underworld, a place usually reserved for the dead and which very few return from alive. As if this wasn’t bad enough, Percy himself is being accused of the theft and if the bolt is not returned by the end of the summer solstice Zeus has vowed to wreak an almighty war on the world. Percy and his new friends, Annabeth (daughter of Athena) and Grover, a very sensitive and loyal satyr must find their way to Hades dominion and bring the lightning bolt back to Olympus before all hell breaks loose. Quite literally. That is, if the three friends don’t manage to get themselves killed by monsters in the process.

Wow. This book ticked so many boxes for me it was unreal. I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology and was lucky enough to study it at school at one point so it was truly delightful to remember this colourful host of characters and their back stories. I think the author managed to mix the world of Mount Olympus with a contemporary setting beautifully and there were some rib-ticklingly funny moments when the two words collided. For example, who knew that Ares, god of war was a biker? Or that Charon, boatman of the River Styx in the Underworld felt that he deserved a decent pay rise after all his years of service? I loved the characters, felt they all brought something different and fresh to the story and would definitely appeal to children of varying ages. The adventures are truly gripping and action packed and it was such a page turner that I almost missed my stop on the tube, so lost was I in Percy’s little world! It looks like this is going to be an amazing series to follow and already I’m wondering when I can fit the next book, Percy Jackson and the Sea Monsters into my busy schedule!

For Chrissi’s fab review, please see her blog HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The_Lightning_Thief_cover

First edition cover of The Lightning Thief from Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lightning_Thief

Everneath (Everneath #1) – Brodi Ashton

Published June 27, 2015 by bibliobeth

9413044

What’s it all about?:

Last spring, Nikki Beckett vanished, sucked into an underworld known as the Everneath. Now she’s returned—to her old life, her family, her boyfriend—before she’s banished back to the underworld . . . this time forever. She has six months before the Everneath comes to claim her, six months for good-byes she can’t find the words for, six months to find redemption, if it exists.

Nikki longs to spend these precious months forgetting the Everneath and trying to reconnect with her boyfriend, Jack, the person most devastated by her disappearance—and the one person she loves more than anything. But there’s just one problem: Cole, the smoldering immortal who enticed her to the Everneath in the first place, has followed Nikki home. Cole wants to take over the throne in the underworld and is convinced Nikki is the key to making it happen. And he’ll do whatever it takes to bring her back, this time as his queen.

As Nikki’s time on the Surface draws to a close and her relationships begin slipping from her grasp, she is forced to make the hardest decision of her life: find a way to cheat fate and remain on the Surface with Jack or return to the Everneath and become Cole’s queen.

Everneath is a captivating story of love, loss, and immortality from debut author Brodi Ashton.

What did I think?:

Everneath is the first book in the start of a dramatic and compelling new YA series and was recommended to me by my sister and fellow blogger Chrissi Reads.  I tend to trust whatever my sister recommends, after all she’s one of the people who knows my biblio-tastes best, but I knew I had to read it fairly soon and that it had to be something special when she kept asking when I was going to start it! Our heroine in this series is teenager Nikki Beckett who one day seemed to disappear into thin air, leaving her family, friends and boyfriend behind to become part of the Everneath. This was a personal decision on Nikki’s part as at the time she was struggling to cope with the death of her mother and was in a seemingly hopeless situation with her boyfriend, Jack. Her desperation to “stop feeling things,” leads the mysterious Cole into tempting her to The Everneath (with an agenda of his own of course) and he promises Nikki the peace she desperately craves but is not granted from her tormented mind. You see although Cole is immortal, known as an Everling, he requires humans as “Forfeits,” to feed off their emotions whilst replenishing his energy. His latest acquisition Nikki, is a particularly valuable prize when instead of forgetting who she is as par normal procedure she remembers everything and survives the so-called “feed.”

The Everneath is a mystical, terrifying underworld and Nikki is forced to remain there for one hundred years as Cole’s food-source before Cole returns her to the surface – unfortunately only for a period of six months so that she can say her goodbyes to her loved ones and prepare herself for returning to The Everneath permanently to be reclaimed by the horrifying Tunnels. Even though Nikki spent a century in The Everneath only six months have passed on Earth which is still a significant period of time to be AWOL and she has a lot of explaining to do. Nikki must re-gain her father’s trust and try to build bridges with her boyfriend Jack who was understandably confused and hurt by her disappearance. She must also resist Cole who she has a unique bond with due to the whole feeding experience and almost like a dealer to a drug addict bothers her on a daily basis, attempting to make her submit to him and return to the underground as his Queen. Nikki understands that her return to The Everneath is compulsory and attempts to reconcile herself with her broken father and her boyfriend but becomes increasingly alarmed by the power that Cole holds over her and fears returning to the dreaded Tunnels where she will remain for eternity. If there is a choice to be made the other option being relinquishing herself to Cole, should she do this despite all her morals and misgivings? Or will true love shine through and give Nikki the opportunity to escape her fate?

Well, this story sure packs a punch. The novel is loosely based on the mythology of Persephone/Hades and Orpheus/Eurydice and as I studied Greek mythology for a while I was instantly attracted to the idea which is presented beautifully with a bit of a modern twist. Nikki is a strong and admirable female character who accepts that she made a terrible decision by agreeing to accompany Cole to The Everneath. Instead of being self-pitying about it she uses that final opportunity of life on Earth to try and re-connect with her father, recognising that he is suffering also. The author has created a fascinating idea of life after death and her description of the Tunnels sent a definite chill down my spine. In fact, from the moment I opened this book I found it very hard to put down and was instantly swept away into a world of darkness, grief and impossible situations. The imagination used to create all the threads of this story is enviable, the characterisation superb and I’m really very excited to get to the next book in the trilogy after an explosive ending.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Down Among The Gods – Kate Thompson

Published June 15, 2014 by bibliobeth

200738

What’s it all about?:

Two lonely people, a chance meeting at an adult education class, an almost instant attraction. But why do they keep misunderstanding each other, missing each other? What is it that conspires to keep Jessie and Patrick apart? This is an urban romance with a difference; a tale of mortals acted by immortals.

What did I think?:

This quirky little book was provided to me by NetGalley and Open Road Integrated Media so many thanks to them for the opportunity to read this book. It tells the story of two people, Jessie and Patrick both single and lonely in their own ways but when they both sign up for a life drawing class fate or rather the gods throws them together – which is what makes this story so interesting and throws a different and unique dimension on relationships and what may be pre-ordained in our lives. The novel is written mainly from the perspective of the Greek god Hermes who is widely known as the messenger of the gods and the story assumes that the gods we have heard about only in mythology are alive and well and in control of our romantic destinies. I studied Greek mythology in school for a short period and it was one of the reasons why I was drawn to this story. In this way I was not at all disappointed, I loved being reminded of the classic tales of Hera, Zeus, Aphrodite and Dionysus and enjoyed how they were integrated into a modern romantic tale in order to guide Jessie and Patrick’s blossoming relationship.

When Jessie and Patrick first meet they both have their own separate issues, Patrick is heavily influenced by the god of alcohol, Dionysus and struggles daily with his drinking problems. When Jessie and Patrick move to Wales and enjoy a more secluded lifestyle in the country where Jessie can concentrate on her writing, Patrick seems to have put Dionysus behind him and exists in a happy tee-total state enjoying working on their land and painting in his studio. As we are well aware though, life and relationships are not easy, nothing ever seems to go swimmingly and Dionysus rears his ugly head once more, threatening their relationship and unearthing hidden desires.

My favourite part of this novel had to be the author’s unique take on how our destinies are controlled by using the gods from Greek mythology. I found it an interesting take on love in the modern age and how we may be powerless to act against forces that have already decided our fate. Unfortunately I didn’t really get on with the character of Patrick too well! He had his demons and was trying to work against them that is a certainty, but I found him to be thoroughly unlikeable and as a result this affected my thoughts about his relationship with Jessie – in other words, I couldn’t really believe it. I do think that some people will thoroughly enjoy this novel and as I mentioned before, the mythology parts were excellent which is why I’m giving this book three stars. In general I think this book wasn’t really for me although I understand the author has won awards for her children’s fiction so I’m intrigued enough to give them a go!

Would I recommend it?:

Probably not.

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller

Published February 1, 2013 by bibliobeth

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Whats it all about?:

Greece in the age of Heroes. Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is nobody, just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles.

Achilles, ‘best of all the Greeks’, is everything Patroclus is not — strong, beautiful, the child of a goddess — and by all rights their paths should never cross. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing and soon their tentative companionship gives way to a steadfast friendship. As they grow into young men skilled in the arts of war and medicine, their bond blossoms into something far deeper — despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother Thetis, a cruel and deathly pale sea goddess with a hatred of mortals.

Fate is never far from the heels of Achilles. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate.

What did I think?:

This book was chosen by my online book club as January’s read but I had been meaning to read it for a while after hearing all the hype, and of course, its Orange prize win. All I can say is…. wow. This is a wonderful re-telling of the story of Achilles through the eyes of his companion (ahem..lover) Patroclus. I don’t think you have to have studied Greek mythology to read the novel but for me it was a definite bonus.

The love story between Achilles and Patroclus was told beautifully and I found it very touching. Although we should know how it is going to end, I found myself tormented and foolishly hoped for a turn around! The prose of the author is so descriptive and poetic, I even found myself reading a bit slower just to prolong my enjoyment. I am eagerly anticipating another Madeline Miller novel – maybe she could tackle Theseus and the Minotaur?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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