The Goddess Inheritance

The Goddess Inheritance (Goddess Test #3) by Aimee Carter

Goddess InheritanceLove or life.
Henry or their child.
The end of her family or the end of the world.
Kate must choose.

During nine months of captivity, Kate Winters has survived a jealous goddess, a vengeful Titan and a pregnancy she never asked for. Now the Queen of the Gods wants her unborn child, and Kate can’t stop her–until Cronus offers a deal.

In exchange for her loyalty and devotion, the King of the Titans will spare humanity and let Kate keep her child. Yet even if Kate agrees, he’ll destroy Henry, her mother and the rest of the council. And if she refuses, Cronus will tear the world apart until every last god and mortal is dead.

With the fate of everyone she loves resting on her shoulders, Kate must do the impossible: find a way to defeat the most powerful being in existence, even if it costs her everything.

Even if it costs her eternity. (Goodreads)

If you have not read the previous two Goddess Test books (reviews can be found here and here) then what are you doing? Get outta here unless you want spoilers, spoilers and more spoilers!

When we last left Kate she was preggers (and oh, the sweet sexytimes that got her there) and being held captive by Cronus and Calliope.  We pick up about nine months later, Henry not realizing that Kate is being held captive (he thinks she’s on her little vacation away from the Underworld) and Kate about to give birth. Cronus is guaranteeing her safety because, hold the phone, he wants Kate to be his woman as he is a creepers to the billionth degree. Calliope, on the other hand, just wants to raise the baby and have Henry by her side. She wants to kill Kate too, but Cronus won’t let her.

So, basically, Kate is living in a house of crazy. And soon her baby will live there too.

There is a ton going on with the Council and Walter and the Gods vs. the Titans. Things seem hopeless many times over again, one of the biggest dilemmas being that it seems there is no way for Kate and Henry and the baby to be together in safety. To divulge more would give away too much of the plot, but suffice it to say, this family is in a major bind. Kate is not a favorite of the Council (and I for one have a hard time keeping straight who is married to whom), but it seems like no one but James, Henry and Kate’s mom are ever really on her side. And then there are traitors like Ava, who tricked Kate into Cronus’s trap in the first place.  She has a reason for doing the things she’s done, but can she really be trusted?

Here’s the thing: I really loved the first two books. I loved how Kate and Henry’s relationship progressed and how he opened up more little by little.  I loved that Kate was a strong character willing to do stupid things for the sake of the ones she loves. In the last book, she came a bit undone and in this one she did even more so. Now, this is partly because they are facing seemingly insurmountable odds, yes, and it’s also because when you have a child it feels like your heart suddenly exists outside your chest which makes you willing to do crazy, insane things for their sake, but still…something in her seemed off to me.  I hate to say it, but I liked Kate less this time around. I didn’t dislike her by any means, but I didn’t love her like I used to.  Her thoughts got old to me, and the story felt like it sagged a bit at times. I still love her relationship with Henry, but this time there was less interaction, certainly less swoon and overall, not enough Henry (in the romantic sense).

While I liked certain aspects of this book, it was a slight disappointment to me.  Henry and Kate’s story ended nicely and I felt satisfied with the way Carter tied it all up, it just felt like it took a while to get there. And though it’s the end of the series, there is room to explore other characters, which could be nice.

Crush Intensity: 3/5 There were so many things I enjoyed, but this was definitely my least favorite of the three.

Thank you to Harlequin and Net Galley for allowing me to read an e-galley of The Goddess Inheritance in exchange for an honest review. The book will be in stores February 28th.

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Underworld

Underworld by Meg Cabot

I love this cover. It's gorgeous. And is it just me or is that the hottest forearm ever?Seventeen-year-old Pierce Oliviera isn’t dead. Not this time.

But she’s been taken by John Hayden, lord of the Underworld, to the dim, twilit world between heaven and hell, where the spirits of the deceased wait before embarking upon their final journey.

John claims it’s for her own safety, to protect her from the Furies who yearn for vengeance against him. But John may have reasons of his own for wanting to keep Pierce close…

And soon Pierce learns that while she might be safe from the wrath of the Furies in the Underworld, the people she loves back on earth are not. Can she convince John to release her in order to save the life of someone in her family? Or will the price he asks her to pay for her freedom turn out to be too high?

(from megcabot.com)

Warning: If you haven’t read Abandon, the first book in this series…what are you waiting for?  Get on it! 

The Story:

In this second book in the planned trilogy, Pierce awakens in the arms of John—Lord of the Underworld—in his bedroom that’s, well, in the Underworld.  Oh and did I mention that he’s shirtless?  BEST BEGINNING TO A BOOK EVER!

John has taken Pierce to his home, believing that she’s safer from the threat of the Furies while under his care.  While Pierce is tantalized at the idea of being with John—the man she truly loves—she’s devastated at the thought of being away from her family, especially her mom.  Despite the fact that he’s doing it to protect her, it still feels a little like Pierce is imprisoned.  And she soon realizes that while she’s safe from harm, her family is very much at risk because the Furies will do anything to get to her—even hurt her loved ones.

Pierce fears that her cousin,  Alex , is in danger and she convinces John to travel back to Isla Huesos with her; back to a town in an uproar over the recent hurricane and over the news that Pierce Oliviera has been kidnapped by a man who looks an awful lot like John (so he’s hot, right?).

John is still crazy sexy.  Pierce is drawn to him and he to her despite the roadblocks.  But John also continues to be very mysterious.  He’s keeping secrets about his dark past, secrets that Pierce is determined to find out. Secrets that Richard, the cemetery sexton believes she needs to know.  All of it begs the question, who can she trust and where is she really the safest?  Pierce doesn’t fear John anymore, but she wonders what he’s hiding. And John seems like a good guy, but underneath there is still that part of him that will do anything to keep her by his side.

My Take:

Is it not obvious already? I loved this book.  In fact, I think I loved it even more than the first (which is saying a lot because I crushed pretty hard on that one).  It’s lush and sexy and somewhat dark, all while remaining distinctively Meg Cabot.

Underworld continues to retell the myth of Persephone, yet Cabot spins it with her signature style, creating strong yet flawed heroines and extremely swoonworthy boys,  all written with humor and just the right tough of romance.  This series is edgier than Cabot’s other books, but it’s told with the fast-paced narration we’ve come to expect from her and it’s laced with funny moments.  Also, there are a few interesting mysteries unraveling this time around.  It was completely unputdownable (this IS a word).

One of the things I really appreciated about Underworld was the relationship between Pierce and John. It’s the heart of the story. John was a total enigma in the first book—sweeping in and out and rescuing Pierce, arguing with her, and always intriguing her, while somehow remaining out of reach.  In this book he really has a chance to shine.  We get to know him better (although he still maintains an air of mystery) and we see the love and attachment between him and Pierce really develop into a true, steamy, tingle in your toes romance.  Near the end I thought the pages were going to go up in flames. That’s how good it was between those two.

And romance aside, this is just a really good story that’s well-told.  Every chapter left me hungry for more, so much so that this book hasn’t even technically come out yet and I’m already falling all over myself dying for the sequel. And for more shirtlessness, let’s be honest.

Crush Intensity– 4.75/5 Read this book and love it like I did. Crush on John, continue to root for Pierce, and enjoy the eerie vibe and the mystery as it all plays out.

Memorable Quote:

“Do you really think bringing me here is going to make them just…stop?”

Because the rest of my worries were about precisely this.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. dipping his head to press his mouth to the back of my neck [INSERT TEE’S SIGH HERE]. I felt an immediate zing all along my veins, like his lips were carbonated or something. “This is the first time I’ve ever been in love with a girl who the Furies were trying to kill. But I know there’s nothing you can do to stop them. This is exactly where you belong. Where you’ve always belonged. And where I hope you’ll consider staying…this time.”

Sneaky Peek– Underworld is in stores May 8th. Until then, check out the two chapters available on Meg’s website, including the scene above!

I want to extend a huge thank you to Scholastic (and to Meg Cabot and her team) for sending me an Advance copy of Underworld. I mean, I know she didn’t send it to me personally, but hey, a fangirl can dream, right?  Thank you!

King of the Underworld a hottie? Um, fo sho.

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter

EVERY GIRL who has taken the test has DIED.

Now it’s KATE’S TURN.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom—and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld—and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy—until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride, and a goddess.

If she fails…

Here’s the scoop:

Whoa.  Sounds heavy, right?  Well, yea, kind of, but there is so much more to this book than life and death drama.  Like swoony pants action with the King of the Underworld.

Kate Winters is grappling with the approach of her mother’s untimely death.  Mom has been struggling for years with cancer and we meet them on Kate’s 18th birthday on the road from New York to Eden, Michigan.  Mom’s dying wish is to live out the last of her days, which evidently are somewhere in the slim to none category, in her hometown.

Mom begins her walk down nostalgia road by asking Kate to make a stop in a wooded area not far from the outskirts of town. So they pop by and mom takes a moment at a hu-mon-goid wrought iron gate which she says is the entrance to Eden Manor.  Anything called a “manor” sounds creepsville to me.  And even though, after mom stares lovingly at the gate for a lil’ bit all they do is return to the car and go on their way, I know Eden Manor is something to watch out for in this story.  I am just gifted that way.

As they approach the town of Eden, Kate nearly sends her mom, and herself, to an earlier grave, as she has a near miss with a cow on the road and swerves the car into a spin that nearly crashes them into a line of trees, which I hear can be pretty painful.  Mom, in her weak state and all, pretty much sleeps through all of this, but Kate spots a hella good looking young, dark, brooding fellow in a black coat (because they always gotsa to be in foreboding wardrobe, it’s the rule!).  This brief encounter through her rear view mirror leaves her unsettled.

They settle into a not-so-cozy house, and Kate begrudgingly starts her new school, appropriately named Eden High where she befriends James, who incidentally is kinda the school weirdo. Then, of course, once Dylan, the captain of the football team, starts making googly eyes her way, all-a-sudden Ava, GF of the aforementioned high school football star, who is – shockingly – captain of the cheerleaders, decides it’s time to be friendly.

Ava turns out to be a big phony bologny byotch.  She takes Kate on a wild goose chase towards a supposedly awesome party, into the dark, dark forest, across a cold river (not cool since Kate is like tote’s afraid of water) not far from Eden Manor.  (Did I call it, or what?  Just sayin.)  Once there Kate realizes, WHAT?  There’s no party, no cool people by the keg!  Ava takes off her clothes, revealing a bikini – and with it – her plan to abandon Kate in this predicament all along, all because she was mad at Kate over her boyfriend sending some stink eye her way!  Like it’s Kate’s fault!?  Homegirl dives into the river, cracks her head and passes out.  (That’s why mom always said, “Feet first the first time,” yo!)  So now Kate has to save the bish-who-JUST-stole-her-pads?  Child, please.

So now, Kate’s not alone in the middle of the woods, at night, not knowing how to get back home.  Oh no, now she has a dead girl for company.  As she sits there pondering what to do about the dead girl, guess who shows up?!?!?  Um, dark, brooding dude with the black coat.  I KNOOOOOOOOOOOOOW!  And, in a nutshell he asks Kate, in his totally hot, swoony way, what she would do if only she could give Ava her life back.  And Kate says, “Anything.”  Oh shizz, girlfriend, don’t you know?  Never say, “Anything”!  Not to a dark, mysterious, seemingly super natural being in a BOOK.  Cuz in a BOOK, he’ll be all, “Alrighty then, how about giving your life over to me and being queen of the Underworld for 6 months out of the year, for the rest of eternity?”  Obvs you’ll say, “Sure thing, jelly bean,” because you think this guy is high.  Who would possibly do that?  Henry, as this gorgeous fellow introduces himself, that’s who!  And he does.  In two seconds flat Ava goes from dead to not.  Henry’s only condition is that Kate stay true to her word or Ava goes without a pulse again.  Because Henry is, in fact, Hades, King of the Underworld, just like we all learned in Greek Mythology class.  Or, he at least claims to be.

Despite Henry’s hotness, Kate struggles with her decision.  If she accepts, she must leave her mother, move in with Henry, and go through some crazy tests that will decide whether or not she is worthy of being Queen of the Underworld.  If she doesn’t accept, rumor has it Ava will drop dead.  Again.  But these are probably her last days with mom. How can she leave now that her mom is so sick that she has nurse care 24/7?  But if she doesn’t go, will Ava really die?

I would be spoiling some of my favorite thrills and chills of this book if I divulged Kate’s decision, Ava’s fate and the part that James plays in this story.  Suffice it to say that just as I felt I knew who was who, and what their role was in the story, the author surprised me time and time again.  Henry continues to be delish, if a little removed (but we’ll just call that brooding).

As a debut author, I think Aimee Carter has hit the nail on the head.  The Goddess Test, released on April 19, is entertaining and, satisfyingly – to a mythology dork – it offers logical explanations as to how the world of mythology, and a place like Hades, could still exist in our world, within the parameters of this fantasy.  And it does so without getting lost in its own explanation and without taking away from the main story, which is Kate’s journey to understand this world she didn’t know existed, and the journey she is on emotionally as she prepares to say goodbye to her mother.  Kate is a heroine with a good head on her shoulders, a strong voice, and a good heart.  The story has some incredible twists that you really, honest to goodness won’t see coming, and some swoon in there, for good measure.

I want to send a huge thanks to Harlequin and Net Galley, for offering us the chance to review this book.  Being a bit of a mythology geek, among my many areas of geek specialty, this was right up my alley!

A sequel to The Goddess Test is scheduled to be released in February 2012, entitled Goddess Interrupted.  I am hoping Henry will reveal more of his romantic, passionate side in this one, if he does make an appearance…  (That’s my Jedi mind trick, playing with your head.  Will he or won’t he?  What’s he doing – or not – at the end of this book…ah!?!?)  Aimee has also revealed on her website that a third edition to this series will be released in November 2012, and is yet untitled.  I am looking forward to seeing how this story develops!

Crush Level:

4.5/5 – Great story, but I am looking for a more reciprocal devotion on Henry’s part.  A big chunk of him seems still pining for Persephone, his former wife,  as Kate is falling for him and it’s hard to decide if he could possibly be genuine in his feeling for Kate with all the baggage he’s carrying. But the exciting and unexpected twists in this story, and the smartly written heroine make this story a one-sit read for me.  I already am hearing that little voice in my head saying, “I wanna read  this again!”

How I See It:

Kaya Scodelario fits the bill for me - again (See Hunger Games Casting).

Kate: Kate needs to be someone really good-looking – she’s hanging out with gods and goddesses, so “must look good in a toga” is a requirement, but still down to earth, because she has to prove herself a worthy human with a good head on her shoulders.  I think Kaya Scodelario scores high for me on both those traits.

Shiloh Fernandez. Look at him, all dark and broody.

Henry:  This was a hard one, and as close as I could get being that Henry is supposed to be in his early 20’s.  As a young yet tortured looking dude, with millenia of experience in his eyes, I do declare Mr. Shiloh Fernandez will do.

OMG, this picture is so perfectly "Ava" its not even funny!

Ava:  Has to be someone who plays the recovered mean girl role really well.  Cheerleader with a heart, if you will.  Ashley Tisdale…perfect!  Now before you go ragging on my Disney Channel choice, let me just say that if Ms. Tisdale makes some good choices (better than the cheerleader show she was on not too long ago), she’s definitely one to watch.

Time machine, time machine, wherefore art thou, time machine? Sorry Matthew Lillard...

James:  This was not as hard to cast as Henry — always hard to cast my swoony men — but it was also quite difficult.  I couldn’t get out of my head the picture of a young Matthew Lillard, who is now way too old to play this character (sorry Matthew, but you’re supposed to be in high school).  I just think he’d be the perfect dorky, yet cute looking, head phone wearing, french fries on a tray eating friend who isn’t bothered or discouraged when someone turns him down.  Oh, if only I’d finished building that time machine like I’ve been meaning to!