The old gods will never die
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has progressed and the plots have darkened, the quirky, wry humour that was the trademark of the early instalments has been replaced by deeper emotion, more heart, more desperate peril and more devastating consequences.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.