Tag Archives: Mythology

Review: How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren

13 Nov

3 out of 5 scoopers

How Beauty Met the Beast by Jax Garren
Carina Press (Nov. 19, 2012)
ebook: $1.99 (38,000 words)
ISBN: 9781426894664

Favorite Lines: “Even through the sheet she sparked with energy, with life. He brought his other hand up and slowly raked his fingers from her palm to her wrist and down to her elbow.” (p. 16, e-galley)

The Beast

Scarred. Damaged. Living with a terrible secret. Agent of the Underlight Wesley “Hauk” Haukon has nothing left but the fight for liberty against the oppressive Order of Ananke. He’s starting to lose hope…and then he sees her.

The Beauty

Despite her night job as a burlesque dancer, grad student Jolie Benoit has always played the mostly good girl. That all changes following a scorching sexual encounter with a stranger whose face she doesn’t see. After she’s kidnapped by thugs and rescued by a man with a very familiar voice, Jolie becomes a pawn in a struggle she never knew existed.

Hauk knows he cannot have her, and resolves to protect his heart and his secrets. But as they work together and grow closer, he finds new reason to keep fighting. Dare he risk hope in a new life, one where Jolie can see past his ravaged face and where their friendship can grow into something more?

I knew from the get go that How Beauty Met the Beast was going to be a novella. I wasn’t sure how long 38,000 words would show on my nook. It turns out to equal 110 pages. For me, it was just long enough to whet my appetite and as soon as things started getting good the story was over. The good news is that it is part of a three story series and book two, How Beauty Saved the Beast will be released in February 2013.

I had a little bit of trouble staying in the world. I knew the hero was a member of an anarchist group called the Underlight. Then I read about him being a soldier who was disfigured fighting in Afghanistan. When you add in a steambike, metal leg/foot, and people who worship old gods (think Thor), you’ve got me thinking okay it’s a steampunk book. But then I considered the heroine who drove a Nissan coupe, has Celiac’s disease, and attended the University of Texas and felt like I was reading a contemporary romance. By the end I was thoroughly confused when it came to the world building, but satisfied by the introduction of two characters to one another and myself.

How Beauty Met the Beast is…different. It’s not bad, just not what I expected. The characters though, they are what hooked me. For example, it’s not the “norm” to have the heroine of a romance work as a burlesque dancer. The scenes in which she struts her stuff and belts out tunes before meeting the hero behind the animosity of a sheet hit home her adventurous nature. Hawk is introduced by his actions as well. The reader is shown Hawke on the run with a buddy and his willingness to sacrifice himself in order to protect his pal. We get to travel into his mind where he considers the reactions others have to his disfigured face and watch him have a healthy interaction with a beautiful woman before we are told the extent of the damage done to him. When the author gets descriptive and I’m able to visualize what this man looks like it’s too late to walk away thinking the man is “gross.” By then I’ve half fallen in love with the man.

Obviously there were parts of the story that I was invested in, however when the world which confused me is added to what felt like a third of one complete story, I’m left feeling so-so about it all. I like to read complete stories in one book. I think there are way too many series and trilogies floating around. Sometimes it’s necessary, but other times it feels like a reason to suck money out of readers. If the Tales of the Underlight trilogy unfolds the way I expect, the division will be a way to give the characters time to get to know one another. That’s understandable, but does nothing to absolve my irritation for a story that ends just when it starts getting good. That said, I don’t regret reading How Beauty Met the Beast and plan to read the next book in the series.


Review: Enslaved by Elisabeth Naughton

23 Oct

4 out of 5 scoopers

Enslaved by Elisabeth Naughton
Sourcebooks (Nov. 6, 2012)
Mass market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781402262159

Favorite Lines: “All her life she’d been alone. Even the few times she’d been in love, she’d still been alone, because she’d never opened herself all the way. She’d never admitted who she really was, never confessed her hopes and dreams, never shared her soul. This time, she would. This time, everything was different.” (p. 296, e-galley)

After being rescued from the Underworld, Gryphon is plauged by strange voices and an evil foreboding. He believes that his only hope for salvation is to track down the goddess who cursed him…until he meets Maelea.

A prisoner with no bars, Maelea encounters Gryphon on her quest to find Olympus. He’s about to test her loyalty to the gods, and she’s ready to find out if he still has a heart worth saving…

It’s hard to believe that Enslaved is book five in Elisabeth Naughton‘s Eternal Guardians series. I’m not a fan of Greek mythology, but I’ve really become addicted to this series which incorporates bits and pieces of the past with its modern word. I highly recommend starting this series with book one instead of jumping in with Enslaved. Every book is about a different couple, but we’re given information and introduced to a variety of characters prior to starting their story. For example, we read about Gryphon’s experience in Hades and learn all about Maelea’s existence in book four, Enraptured.

After reading all the damage done to Gryphon in Enraptured and learning of Maelea’s predicament I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Enslaved. I knew a story about two horrendously damaged people would be good reading and I was right. The emotional trauma paired with the feelings of loneliness made them a perfect match once they realized the attraction between them. Maelea has always been alone not out of a desire but because she was cursed by the gods. Her father, Zeus, didn’t acknowledge her and her mother, Persephone, didn’t have much to do with her either.

Her constant migration and inability to let others get close to her made me want more for her. Just imagine how she felt living forever with no family and no constant partner or friends. Then BAM! there’s Gryphon who was tortured and is now infected with the voice of a villainess. He is purposely separating himself from his friends and family. Sure it’s out of a need to protect them from him, but he feels dirty and dangerous. He used to be completely different. His transformation from light to dark is affecting everyone–but Maelea.

As the two find peace in the world and within themselves there are so many other things taking place. The villainess from book one is still around. Atalanta still wants the Orb of Kronos and is using Gryphon to get it. The gods are making a play for the Orb, as well. They are trying to get it through Maelea. One of the story lines that began in book one will finally be concluded in this book.

Enslaved is equal parts romance/relationship and action moving the book/series forward. It’s also a nice change from the average vampire or shifter paranormal romance. It’s a decent addition to a comfortable series that is on my auto buy list.

Review: Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep

17 May

Dark Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kennsington (June 2012)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $8.99
ISBN: 9780758266965

Favorite Lines: “I’m sorry, Gwen. I just–I just can’t do this. Not even for you. Especially not for you.” (p. 161, ARC)

I’ve seen so many freaky things since I started attending Mythos Academy last fall. I know I’m supposed to be a fearless warrior, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just waiting for the next Bad, Bad Thing to happen. Like someone trying to kill me—again.

Everyone at Mythos Academy knows me as Gwen Frost, the Gypsy girl who uses her psychometry magic to find lost objects—and who just may be dating Logan Quinn, the hottest guy in school. But I’m also the girl the Reapers of Chaos want dead in the worst way. The Reapers are the baddest of the bad, the people who murdered my mom. So why do they have it in for me?

It turns out my mom hid a powerful artifact called the Helheim Dagger before she died. Now, the Reapers will do anything to get it back. They think I know where the dagger is hidden, but this is one thing I can’t use my magic to find. All I do know is that the Reapers are coming for me—and I’m in for the fight of my life.

Warning: Don’t start the Mythos Academy series with book three, Dark Frost. Each book builds upon the events of the previous book. You cannot skip this book if you’re reading the series. The events are pivotal on many levels.

From the start I fell in love with the heroine (Gwen) of Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy series. Shewas deposited in a world she knew nothing about and forced to learn about war. On top of it all she became the goddess Nike’s champion. This means the bad guys have singled Gwen out as a person who needs to be destroyed. If all that weren’t enough, she is going through normal teenage drama. You know falling in lust with the unattainable guy. At the end of the last book, Touch of Frost, it seemed like she just might have managed to get the guy.

As Dark Frost begins, Gwen has yet to speak to her beau, Logan, since the events which took place before Christmas break. That quickly changes and poor Gwen is thrown for a loop when she comes face to face with the girl who murdered her mother. Thus begins the trickery, treachery and violent new journey of the Gypsy girl who can read items just by touching them. Nothing is what it seems in Dark Frost and things appear to happen a bit too easily. But appearances can be deceiving.  By the end of the story Gwen will take the reader through heartaches which come from more than one direction, to self-doubt and self-loathing before ending in a determination to find balance and see her mission through to the end.

Gwen continues to grow as an individual while learning more about her mother and the history of the characters surrounding her. Not only is Gwen growing, but the story takes a huge leap forward with this installment. Back story is filled in and the whole forward field is filled with question marks and possibilities.

If you need help remembering magical information or character biographies, flip to the back of the book and check out the Beyond the Story section. All the major players are listed. There is also a peep at chapter one of book four in the Mythos Academy series.

Crimson Frost, according to Jennifer Estep’s website, is book four and will be released Dec. 24, 2012.

Review: Enraptured by Elisabeth Naughton

11 May

Enraptured by Elisabeth Naughton
Sourcebooks (April 1, 2012)
Mass Market: $7.99; ebook: $7.99
ISBN: 9781402262128

Favorite Lines: “She couldn’t tell him. Not now. Not ever. But the deja vu feeling she’d felt before now made a sick sort of sense.” (p. 48, e-galley)

Orpheus may have joined the elite protectors known as Eternal Guardians, but they’ve never trusted whose side he’s really on. And the half-daemon couldn’t care less. Orpheus has only one goal: rescue his brother from the Underworld. He’s not expecting a woman to get in the way, especially not one sent by Zeus to seduce, entrap, and then ultimately destroy him. A woman who will dredge up a past he doesn’t remember, a love that once condemned him, and a dark and deadly secret as old as the Eternal Guardians themselves.

Warning: Don’t pick up this book as a stand alone. It is book four in Elisabeth Naughton’s Eternal Guardians’ series. Each book focuses on a different couple, but events and characters from previous books are revisited and expanded upon.

I liked Enraptured and all three previous books in the series. It’s a solid series or I wouldn’t have bought the first three books. I was lucky enough to get a review copy of Enraptured, but I’ll still be adding the finished book to my collection.  Basically, there are seven men who are descendants of Ancient Greek mythology. They are fighting evil and finding love while they’re at it as they’ve all been cursed by Hera to find a soul mate. They would only get one female their entire life, and that woman would be “the worst possible match for that Argonaut.” (Tempted by Naughton, p. 66)

Enraptured is more of what reader’s have been learning. Atalanta, woman turned goddess denied entry into the Argonauts, is causing trouble from Hades’ land. Atalanta has been a thorn in the Argonauts’ side since book one, Marked. her vileness is expanded upon in Enraptured, as are other Greek gods.

The action packed book features a siren who has a second chance with a soul she met long in the past. That soul is now in the body of a half-demon, magic wielding Argonaut. The two face the gods, their friends and the past in hopes of saving Orpheus’s brother and the world. The problem is that the past is coming back with a vengeance and if Orpheus and Skyla don’t handle it properly it could destroy them both.

What I need from this series: I will be really disappointed if I don’t get to watch Gryphon and Maelea find a happily ever after, be it together or with someone else. I also need Nick to fall in love with a woman who loves him back.

Recommend?: Yes. I’m not a huge fan of mythology romance, but Naughton has added me to her fan base. I can’t say it’s my top romance series, but it’s a solid series that always provides plenty of action, great sex and love which can overcome all odds. It has spots of dark evil, that may put some readers off. I, however, knew when I picked up Enraptured that I would read a well-developed romance and be tempted to continue the series. I will be continuing this series.

Review: Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep

30 Nov

Kiss of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kennsington (Dec. 1, 2011)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $8.99
ISBN: 9780758266941

Favorite Lines: “I curled up into a ball at the goddess’s feet and wept.” (p. 304, ARC)

Welcome to Mythos Academy, where teen warriors in the making train to take up their roles protecting humankind. With her snarky, self-deprecating voice and strange abilities, Gwen Frost is an outsider both to the students of the Academy and the rest of the world. Gwen must learn to become a warrior and to conquer her fear of her unusual gifts to take her place in society.

Book two in Jennifer Estep‘s Mythos Academy series picks up a few weeks after the events of the first book (Touch of Frost). Do not attempt to read Kiss of Frost until you read book one. The story is geared toward young adults and is told from Gwen’s POV.

The book opens with Spartans teaching Gwen to fight. It’s important because Gwen will need that knowledge to survive her teenage years. She’s the Greek Goddess of Victory–Nike’s–champion and after defeating the evil god Loki’s Reapers of Chaos in book one has a huge target on her back. The sparring session is also a prelude the many battles to come in this action packed tale which is focused on a teenager in possession of psychometry magic which allows her to see, feel and experience emotions and memories which are stored in objects and people.

More intriguing to me than the overall story line of good versus evil, is the story of a girl becoming a woman.  Learning to make decisions and to trust in herself. Falling in love and speaking her mind. Simply becoming secure with herself as a whole. All important parts which make up the journey to womanhood. Unfortunately, as most of us know, that is a path full of heartache. I felt Gwen’s pain at seeing her crush with another girl. The insecurity, sadness and confusion that filled her as she speculated on the reasons she wasn’t the girl for Logan.

Secrets come out in the latest release in Estep’s Mythos Academy series. Kiss of Frost is a quick read filled with various individuals from mythology. Remember, this book is written for a young adult audience. Don’t be surprised when you correctly guess the villain’s identity and at least one of the secrets kept in the book. It does nothing to detract from the story. As a matter of fact I’ve placed Kiss of Frost in my daughter’s room in hopes that she like it just as much as I did. Some people may not like: scenes which revolve around teens drinking and making out. Neither bothered me, but hey, to each her own.

BTW: The enovella to this series–First Frostis available for Free download until Dec. 5. Touch of Frost (ebook version) will be available for download at B&N on Dec. 5 for $2.99. It’s a one day only sale. It will also be on sale Dec. 5 to 7 for $3.99.

Review: Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep

9 Aug

An incomplete post was published this morning. This is the full post. Sorry about any confusion.

Touch of Frost by Jennifer Estep
Kensington (July 2011)
Trade: $9.95; ebook: $9.95
ISBN: 9780758266927

Favorite Lines: “I stood there, feeling like my heart had just been broken without it ever having really been  offered up for sacrifice in the first place.” (Can’t tell you the page without spoiling the story.)

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. . .

Jennifer Estep‘s newest young adult series, Mythos Academy, was released in July 2011. The first book, Touch of Frost, introduces us to Gwen Frost and the Mythos Academy. Her mother recently died and she’s been enrolled in Mythos Academy for two lonely months before finding a dead body.

There is so much going on in Touch of Frost that I hardly know where to start. Gwen is a likeable loner with the ability of psychometry. She can touch an object and know, see and feel its history. She keeps her power secret, but uses it to make money finding lost objects for classmates. Speaking of which, her classmates appear to be fickle people. They’re the rich offspring of the gods: Spartan, Viking, Valkyrie and Amazon. They’re also stuck up, rich kids who want nothing to do with Gwen.

Gwen does manage to make a friend though. I think Daphne will be a life long friend to Gwen. Gwen brought light to the way Daphne lived. She showed Daphne things Daphne didn’t want to see, things Daphne blinded herself to. By the end of the book Daphne was a character I wouldn’t mind having as a friend.

The secrets at Mythos Academy are numerous. They surround Gwen and are a deeper part of Gwen than she realizes. Everyone is at Mythos Academy for a reason even Gwen; that reason became clear as the story unfolded. One of my favorite parts of the book is the growing attraction between Gwen and Logan the Spartan. I can’t wait to see where it goes.

I had a good time reading Touch of Frost. It didn’t take me long to read and when I was finished I was itching to get my hands on the next book in the series. Unfortunately, book two, Kiss of Frost, won’t be released until December 2011. (Psst. There’s another short story in the series called First Frost available; it’s on sale for 99¢)