This is called 2.5, although really it could be categorized as 0.5, as they all lead up to where we start in The Goddess Test.
The first story, The Goddess Queen, is about Hera. In the past I've always disliked her, or felt she was kind of a pain. She was always so jealous and evil seeming, and even though I knew that Zeus was her husband and cheated on her, she was just always portrayed as a cranky old witch. But this first story gives you sympathy for her. As you see how she tries to just keep her power as queen. She doesn't want to marry Zeus, she is, or thinks she is, in love with Hades. But eventually Zeus does everything he can to change, and prove to her that he does love her. And their marriage starts out great. But soon, he is back to his old ways, and try to fight or prevent it, she does. And she even tries to overlook and be forgiving, taking in his bastard children and trying to raise them as her own. But more and more she is betrayed, by Zeus, and even her own sister. She finally attempts to get the power away from Zeus, and distribute evenly among the original 6 of her brothers and sisters, but instead Zeus finds a way to make her guilty of treason and sends her away, stripping her of her power. Obviously it is so much more understandable why she became the way she did.
The second story, The Lovestruck Goddess is about exactly who you think it would be about, Aphrodite. Again we are given a chance to see her side, to see who she really loves, and to learn that yes, you can love more than one person. Something I saw a picture of from Eclipse, reminding me of when Jacob said the same thing. You see the people she comes in contact with, and how she affects their lives.
The third story, Goddess of the Underworld, is about Persephone. While you somewhat begin to feel sorry for her, I still feel she comes out as selfish to Hades. Especially what happens with Hermes. But again, we get to see how she feels and why she makes the decisions she does. You again think of Aphrodite as selfish, and see Persephone unselfish in her final love and sacrifice for Adonis.
The fourth story, God of Thieves, is finally told from a male stand point, that of Hermes, who is James in The Goddess Test. You now see him as not such a great guy as you thought he was in the first two books. Even though we don't completely trust him in those, we see other reasons to not like him. He has also fallen out of favor with the council. But he has been sent to figure out why certain gods have been fading. He has a theory, but instead of being able to go to the mortals to test it, he is sent on a mission to just see which other gods and goddesses might have faded. After he does this though, he sneaks away to the mortals. There he discovers it is because of a change in religions. People no longer believe in all of them. There is one god, or a few, but not all of them. Before he can get back to save a mortal he has come to care for though, Zeus finds him and takes him back to Olympus. So again, a not so happy ending.
The fifth and final story, God of Darkness, takes us to Hades, who has decided he wants to fade. He goes to the council, they ask for 100 more years. And this is the beginning of what will lead to The Goddess Test. We get to meet the first girl, Ingrid, and watch Hades, or Henry as he is called now, fall in love with her in his own way, even though Persephone will always have his heart it seems. But then she is killed. And once again Henry is devastated. We read about him going through this with all the other girls that we heard about in The Goddess Test, and at the end, we read the beginning of his last chance, when Kate is born.
I love, love, love how this book ended. The way it made me feel sympathy and root for Hera, even though I knew as Calliope she would be someone to hate. You understood a bit more about why Henry is the way he is. Aimee Carter really knows how to pull out the details and make the old myths and stories more personal, and even in a way that makes sense and seems like it could be real. I'm so glad this book is here to tide us over until #3, The Goddess Inheritance comes out in 2013.