The old gods will never die

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - BOOKS - Dani Colvin

ANTIGODDESS By Ken­dare Blake Or­chard, soft­cover, $ 14.99.

SIX­TEEN- YEAR- OLD Cas­san­dra knows she has an uncanny abil­ity to pre­dict things. What she doesn’t know yet is that she is the rein­car­na­tion of Cas­san­dra of Troy, a tragic fig­ure who had the abil­ity to see into the fu­ture, but was cursed by Apollo, god of the sun, to never be be­lieved.

Nor does she yet know that Ai­dan, her boyfriend, is in fact that very sun god, still des­per­ately try­ing to atone for his past cru­elty.

Now, the other gods are dy­ing, each in their own unique way, and Cas­san­dra may hold the key to their sur­vival.

Ruth­less in their de­ter­mi­na­tion to use Cas­san­dra for their own ends, they will stop at noth­ing to find her, but Ai­dan is de­ter­mined to pro­tect her, no mat­ter what the cost.

This dark and com­plex novel is an in­ter­est­ing mix of op­po­sites and con­tra­dic­tions, an­cient Greek mythol­ogy against a mod­ern back­drop, and char­ac­ters who have lived very bru­tal past lives but have been mel­lowed by the ages and are only now, as they are dy­ing, find­ing com­pas­sion and hu­man­ity.

In­deed, “bru­tal” is a word that fits well with this book, the first in The God­dess War se­ries.

It is not for the faint- hearted or for younger read­ers; there is an el­e­ment of vi­o­lence that will not be to ev­ery­one’s taste.

Yet, it is also in­trigu­ing, well- imag­ined and cer­tainly one of the more un­usual of­fer­ings for young adults.

UNITED WE SPY By Ally Carter, Loth­ian, soft­cover, $ 16.99.

THE enor­mously pop­u­lar Gal­lagher Girl se­ries goes out with a bang in this sixth and fi­nal in­stal­ment.

The en­ter­tain­ing se­ries about a spy academy for girls has cap­tured the imag­i­na­tion of read­ers the world over, turn­ing it into a global best­seller with a touch of ev­ery­thing: ad­ven­ture, in­trigue, ac­tion, boys, bad guys, sin­is­ter plots and fe­male char­ac­ters who can more than hold their own.

As the se­ries has pro­gressed and the plots have dark­ened, the quirky, wry hu­mour that was the trade­mark of the early in­stal­ments has been re­placed by deeper emo­tion, more heart, more des­per­ate peril and more dev­as­tat­ing con­se­quences.

In this last out­ing, Cam­mie and her friends learn the true quest of the unscrupulous Cir­cle of Ca­van, a rev­e­la­tion that shat­ters Liz, the ge­nius of the group.

But the girls band to­gether, as al­ways, to stop the cir­cle be­fore they can suc­ceed in their plot to change the world for­ever.

Stop­ping the chain of events that will wreak per­ma­nent change on the girls’ beloved school, how­ever, is another mat­ter en­tirely.

AUS­TRALIA’S GREAT­EST PEO­PLE AND THEIR ACHIEVE­MENTS By Lind­say Knight, Ran­dom House, soft­cover, $ 24.95.

“BE­ING ‘ great’ is quite dif­fer­ent from be­ing fa­mous or be­ing a celebrity,” says au­thor Lind­say Knight, in the in­tro­duc­tion to this fas­ci­nat­ing book.

“Great­ness is some­thing to do with mak­ing a spe­cial, last­ing con­tri­bu­tion that ev­ery­one re­mem­bers and ap­pre­ci­ates and al­ways will. So it’s about achieve­ments and suc­cess, but it’s also about char­ac­ter, per­se­ver­ance and unique­ness.”

That premise cre­ates the scope for a book that tells us plenty about many out­stand­ing Aus­tralians who are well- known to most of us: Banjo Pater­son, Fred Hol­lows and Dou­glas Maw­son are all fea­tured, as ex­pected.

But so too are plenty of oth­ers with less fa­mil­iar names, who have nev­er­the­less made an in­deli­ble mark on Aus­tralia and the way we live, such as math­e­ma­ti­cian Terence Tao, ar­chi­tect Harry Sei­dler and ob­ste­tri­cian and gy­nae­col­o­gist Cather­ine Ham­lin.

Cov­er­ing a range of fields in­clud­ing sci­ence, sport, busi­ness, ed­u­ca­tion, pol­i­tics, de­sign, ex­plo­ration, en­ter­tain­ment, art, lit­er­a­ture and so­cial jus­tice, this fas­ci­nat­ing book fea­tures a vi­brant lay­out with break- out boxes, in­ter­est­ing quotes and plenty of il­lus­tra­tions.

De­signed to ap­peal to read­ers aged 12 and up, who can dip into it for short bursts, or read a chap­ter at a time.

THE NANNY PIG­GINS GUIDE TO CON­QUER­ING CHRIST­MAS By R. A. Spratt, Ran­dom House, $ 15.95.

THE out­ra­geously sub­ver­sive, choco­late- lov­ing fly­ing pig nanny has her very own Christ­mas book, com­plete with hol­i­day fash­ion ad­vice (“Al­ways wear un­der­wear with strong elas­tic in the waist. You never know when you will have to tuck your skirt into your un­der­pants and race an Olympic level ath­lete to the dessert ta­ble”); Christ­mas tips (“Never stand un­der the mistle­toe un­less you en­joy be­ing kissed by your great aunty who for­got to put her teeth in”); Christ­mas games ( How to Build a Santa Trap); recipes and some Christ­mas- time tales.

Loads of fun for ages eight and up, and easy to read in short bursts.

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