True gods have no beginning. True gods have no end: Reviewing Hall of Smoke by H.M. Long

Hi everyone! I hope you are all cozy and warm while the snow piles upon us. I know it has been a while since I posted last. I’ve been dealing with some things and my health has been a little wonky. It’s nothing that can’t be dealt with, but it’s just inconvenient. I want to feel good so I can continue reading, you know? Anyways, there’s nothing like a good book to make you feel better. Let’s talk about Hall of Smoke.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Violence, Blood and Gore, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Hessa prides herself on being an Eangi, a priestess of the Goddess of War. She is sent into exile by her goddess after refusing to kill a stranger. Upon returning to her village, Hessa discovers that raiders have destroyed her entire world and everyone she loved. She takes it upon herself to hunt down the stranger she failed to kill in the hope that her goddess might forgive her. On her journey, Hessa finds herself in the middle of a war between clans and gods. As everything Hessa once believed begins to fall apart around her, she must face a fate worse than death and battle against an ancient power coming to destroy everything.

Heavily inspired by Norse mythology and sagas, Hall of Smoke is an epic tale of revenge and war. I enjoyed the intricate mythology that H.M. Long creates and utilizes to drive the story. I don’t want to call Hessa a “strong female lead” because I know people tend to roll their eyes at that description but I do genuinely mean that she is a strong female lead as a compliment. I also appreciate when fantasy novels like this are still somewhat realistic when it comes to characters being tired while journeying or getting injured and having to recover. The pacing is steady and the plot has a great buildup. This is a perfect adventure fantasy for winter, so I would recommend Hall of Smoke.

Sister. Lover. Traitor. Hero: Reviewing Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Hello and Happy New Years, everyone! May 2023 be the best year ever! I was not expecting to post a review so soon, but I’m trying not to let my TBR pile get out of hand. At this point, I just can’t bring myself to put down a book for anything. I also decided I wanted to commit to listening to more audiobooks this year. Though I don’t really believe in New Year’s resolutions, I do want to do more writing this year. Now, enough of my rambling. Let’s review Ariadne.

Ariadne is a princess of Crete, the eldest daughter of King Minos. Growing up, she had to deal with the curse that the god Poseidon had brought upon her family. Her brother, the Minotaur, is a blood-thirsty beast who Minos uses to terrorize Athens. When an Athenian prince, Theseus, comes to slay the beast, Ariadne decides to help him in his mission. Her decision will impact not only her future but the future of her younger sister, Phaedra. Time will only tell and the Fates have their own plans.

I am really loving this genre of mythology retellings, particularly Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint does an excellent job adding depth to this fairly extensive myth. My favorite aspects of this story are the way that Saint highlights the difficulties of motherhood and sisterhood. This novel has a strong feminist tone that really highlighted the way women in Greek myths were often portrayed unfairly. Ariadne was the perfect subject for such a tale. If you love Greek mythology then you will absolutely love Ariadne.

A glorious future beckoned on the horizon: Reviewing Daughter of the Moon Goddess (Book One in the Celestial Kingdom Duology) by Sue Lynn Tan

Hello everyone! I hope you all enjoyed your holidays and are still enjoying your time off. I guess I have one more book review before the end of the year. I was really not expecting to finish this one but I had pretty good momentum. I do plan on posting my annual favorites list before the end of this week, though. For this upcoming year, my goal is to re-read more of my past favorites books so I might not be posting that frequently as I would like a more manageable TBR pile. Now, let’s talk about Sue Lynn Tan’s debut novel, Daughter of the Moon Goddess.

Xingyin has lived a peaceful, idyllic life with her mother on the moon. As she grows older, Xingyin begins to question why she must live in such solitude and finds out that her mother was exiled by the Celestial Emperor, who does not know of Xingyin’s existence. When Xingyin’s magic grows too powerful, she is forced to flee the only life she has ever known. Alone, scared and desperate, she hides her identity and does her best to survive. When the opportunity to become the attendant of the emperor’s son come up, Xingyin seizes the chance. She trains alongside him, learning and growing her powers. She also finds herself falling in love with the prince. In order to free her mother, Xingyin must embark on a dangerous journey full of monsters and forbidden magic. As the threat of war looms over the Celestial Kingdom, Xingyin must complete an impossible task for the Celestial Emperor or lose everything she has fought for.

Since this is a debut novel, I am going to begin out with a few compliments. First of all, I did genuinely enjoy the writing itself. The descriptions were gorgeous and it read like a fairy tale or myth at times. Secondly, the world building was well thought out and the magic elements were really interesting. Lastly, I thought the action sequences were actually quite exciting. Now, let’s get to what I didn’t like. I did see this book pop up on a lot of people’s most disappointing books of this year and, I hate to admit it, but I understand. I normally try to not let other reviews cloud my opinion too much. In this case, it was hard to avoid. I have to begin by saying that I don’t understand why the novel was classified as “adult fiction.” This is very much a YA novel and not just because the main protagonist is a teenager. There is some violence but the novel doesn’t address any heavy or mature topics, if you will. Many people who gave this a low rating also mentioned the pacing and I would have to agree. This book is somehow too fast and too slow at the same time. You aren’t given an opportunity to sit with any of these important events or enjoy any character development. Xingyin is a perfectly fine protagonist and I certainly didn’t mind following her journey. She doesn’t get the necessary character development, in my opinion. I do have a few more opinions on this book but that would involve having to divulge the plot and I don’t want to spoil it too much. I really didn’t dislike this novel as it had a lot of potential, but it simply didn’t reach it for me. I will try to deter you from reading Daughter of the Moon Goddess as I still found enjoyment in it, but I feel as though there might be a better alternative if you want a mythology- inspired fantasy novel.

Winner Takes All: Reviewing Wicked Beauty by Katee Robert

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well. My TBR list has not gotten any shorter and I don’t intend to stop reading any time soon. I’m still having a tough time finding certain books on my never-ending list of books I eventually want to read. I don’t know about the rest of you but I have a list in my Notes app that’s just books I want to get around to reading. Alright, enough rambling from me. You saw the author and knew it was going to be spicy, so let’s get spicy with the third installment in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series. (This book is for mature audiences who are 18 or older. If you are not 18 or older, feel free to check out any other number of reviews I have on my blog).

The ultra – modern city of Olympus is as cutthroat as ever and change is in the air. The title of Ares is up for grabs and a competition will be held to decide who is worthy to take up this crucial position. Having come up from nothing, Achilles Kallis is determined to claw his way into the inner circle of the Thirteen. With his brilliant partner, Patroclus Fotos at his side, Achilles feels certain that he will become Ares. Everything is thrown into chaos when Helen Kasios, the most beautiful woman in Olympus, decides to enter the competition. Sick and tired of being treated as an object, Helen is also fiercely determined to prove everyone wrong. As the competition heats up, Achilles and Patroclus decide to form an alliance with Helen. The three soon finds themselves in a complicated position as emotions run high and danger lurks around every corner.

What sets this novel apart from the other books in Katee Robert’s Dark Olympus series is that the stakes are high all the way through. While the other two were more about the relationships, this one focuses a bit more on the circumstances surrounding the relationship at the heart of this book. I had never read a “throuple” romance so I was a little nervous going into this but there was plenty of balance to be found between Achilles, Patroclus, and Helen. It was certainly spicy in all of the best ways and that is really what you read these books for. I will say that this one is the least accurate to the mythology it is based on, so if you want accuracy then I would recommend the other two books. I personally enjoyed the many action scenes in the book and the way that they alluded to The Illiad. I’m still enjoying this series and would recommend this one if you are still looking for an extra steamy novel with plenty of high stakes.

Love makes fools of us all: Reviewing Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is still hot as hell outside so I hope you are all staying cool. I’m trying hard to get through my ever – growing TBR list and don’t plan to stop any time soon. Before I begin this review, I do want to stress that, like Neon Gods, this book is for mature audiences only. With that being said, let’s get a little steamy with Electric Idol, the indirect sequel to Neon Gods.

Beneath its shining and luxurious surface, Olympus is still as cutthroat as ever. Psyche Dimitriou has always done her best to keep to herself, but her mother Demeter intends to marry her off to the new Zeus. Aphrodite becomes furious upon hearing this and sends her gorgeous and deadly son, Eros, to kill Psyche. Eros has spent his whole life being his mother’s own personal hitman. Psyche, however, makes him reconsider everything. In order to protect her from Aphrodite, Eros convinces Psyche to marry him. While the marriage begins as one of convenience, the two finds themselves falling deeply in love and realize that the stakes are higher than ever.

First off, I’m glad that Katee Robert chose the myth of Eros and Psyche because I find it to be pretty underrated as far as Greek myths go. I would definitely recommend reading the original myth before or after reading this book. While I am not usually a fan of the “fake relationship turn real” trope, I genuinely enjoyed the way Katee Robert handles this particular story. I though the relationship between Eros and Psyche was actually pretty romantic and I was definitely rooting for them by the end of the book. The steamy scenes weren’t nearly as intense as the ones in Neon Gods, but they were certainly enjoyable. Obviously, I can’t get in too much detail about the spicier elements of the book but I can at least tell you that they were very well written. I will have to give my stamp of approval for this novel as well if you want something mythology related that’s also pretty sexy.

Yesterday a Dream; Tomorrow Dust: Reviewing Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everybody! I hope you are all doing well. I’ve been in a better mood lately. I have actually found the motivation to write again, which I haven’t done in a hot minute. Something broke down my writer’s block. I don’t know what but I am not going to question it. Before I start this review, I should mention that I reviewed Mexican Gothic, which is another novel by Silvia Moreno – Garcia. Feel free to check it out if you please. Now, it’s time to talk about Gods of Jade and Shadow.

Casiopea Tun lives a hard life, forced to work for her cruel grandfather and equally cruel cousin. She is certain that she will never be free from her dismal town until curiosity compels her to open a strange wooden chest. In doing so, she unleashes the Lord of Death and inadvertently ties herself to him. Now, Casiopea is on a journey where she must face all kinds of supernatural threats with only her strength and wits.

In the best way, I would describe this novel as a fairy tale for adults. The writing shifted beautifully from the dazzling world of 1920s Mexico to the deep and mysterious Mayan Underworld. You don’t have to be super familiar with Mayan mythology to appreciate the full extent of this novel. As someone with an interest in different mythologies, I did appreciate what I learned from this novel. It is a relatively short read but captures a spell-binding journey through fantastical places. At the heart of it all is a surprising love story. I should also note that Casiopea is a fantastic protagonist. In a way, I found this novel reminiscent of Stardust by Neil Gaiman. I really enjoyed Gods of Jade and Shadow as a fresh take on a classic hero’s journey. I will definitely be looking forward to reading more by Silvia Moreno – Garcia in the future.

Let There be Light: Reviewing The Gospel of Loki by Joanne M. Harris

Hello everybody! I have to be up early but I am writing a review instead. Now, I have a soft spot for Loki as a character. Admittedly, it all started with the Marvel movies, but I was lucky enough to take a course on Norse mythology. I now have a newfound love of Norse mythology and definitely want to read more interpretations of it. So let’s talk about The Gospel of Loki.

Loki has been known by many names: the Trickster, Wildfire, Silver-tongue, the Light Bringer. There is much more to him than his tricks and exploits. Told from the point of view of Yours Truly, The Gospel of Loki sheds light on the side of the story that others don’t often hear and there is much more than meets the eye when it comes to the God of Chaos.

This certainly was a fun read. Harris lets Loki’s complex nature shine through in this retelling of classic Norse myths. The narrative is equal parts humorous, thoughtful, and thought – provoking. I really enjoyed Harris’ take on Loki as he was equal parts sympathetic and rather questionable. My biggest gripe with the book was the use of modern terminology. I get why Harris wanted to use modern slang but it just took me out of the narrative. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a quick read with a fun twist on familiar stories.

Sing, Muse, he said, and I have sung: Reviewing A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes

Hello everybody! I am out here trying not to be too whiney about the cold but I really hate winter, especially a late winter. What better to get my mind off the weather than a good book and this is a good one. In case you didn’t know, I am a big fan of mythology particularly Greek myths. I have studied Latin for quite a few years and have done my fair share of translating the classics like The Illiad and The Odyssey. It is always nice to have a fresh take on these tried and true classics, so let’s talk about A Thousand Ships.

After ten long years of fighting, Troy is destroyed in a single night and the women of the city are left at the mercy of the Greeks. Their stories are often pushed off to the side in favor of their male counterparts. This epic, however, focuses on the women, both Trojan and Greek, and their side of the story. From the three goddesses who had a hand in starting the war, to Hecuba watching her kingdom fall, and Penelope waiting patiently for her husband, these women among many had their lives shaped forever by the ten year war.

I am all here for a feminist retelling of the Illiad and Odyssey, which Natalie Haynes certainly delivers. Haynes dives deep into layered emotions, complicated situations, and trauma throughout the various stories. The writing varies with some stories being brief and poignant and others being longer and contemplative. Many of these characters that Haynes brings to light are often just footnotes in the epics. This novel makes a powerful statement about the often neglected female characters and is delivered with intelligent and provocative writing. It should come to no surprise then when I say that I highly recommend A Thousand Ships to any fans of Homer’s original epics.

Men Die. Gods Die. She Lives On: Reviewing The Witch’s Heart by Genevieve Gornichec

Hello everybody! I hope everyone is enjoying this last bit of summer. I’ve been keeping busy but still reading more ravenously than I have in a while. Now, I’m a big mythology nerd so this whole new rise in mythology inspired – novels makes me very happy. In particular, Norse mythology has become more popular and I have become increasingly fascinated with the subject. This book was right on the top of my list for adaptations. So, let’s talk about The Witch’s Heart.

Angrboda began life as a powerful witch who was cast down by Odin after she refused to tell him about the future. This ending, however, was actually a brand new beginning for her. After escaping from her punishment, she meets Loki, the trickster god, and they fall in love. Their marriage produces strange heirs who all have a part to play in the end of the world. Angrboda’s best efforts to protect her children are thwarted once Ragnarok begins. With the help of the hunter goddess Skadi and a powerful she-wolf, Angrboda must decide whether to accept her fate or change the outcome completely.

Gornichec’s debut novel is solid its with fairy tale – esque writing and a focus on character study. Angrboda was a very relatable character as a woman trying to make her way in a world that does not understand her powers. I would be lying if I said I didn’t appreciate the female gaze of this book as it benefited the characters immensely. The novel is also very accurate to the original myths and you do not have to have any previous knowledge before reading this. It was a novel worth savoring as it took its time to introduce such complex characters with complex motivations. I really loved this book and would recommend it if you enjoyed Madeline Miler’s Circe or are a fan of Norse mythology.

Don’t Thank Me. It’s Cool: Reviewing The Tower of Nero (Book Five of The Trials of Apollo) by Rick Riordan

Hi everyone! I’m back with another review sooner than I thought, but I buckled down on this one in between my required novels. For those of you who don’t know, this novel is the last in the Percy Jackson universe so it is sad to let go of this part of my childhood. At least we’re getting the adaptation we truly deserve. Let’s finish up The Trials of Apollo.

It’s been the longest six months for Lester Papadopoulos, formerly known the god Apollo. After fighting emperors, defeating monsters, and freeing the Oracles, it is time for them to face Nero and save New York, then the world. To make matters even worse, Apollo’s nemesis Python is lurking in the shadows, waiting for him. It is time for Lester to defeat Python and regain his godhood or possibly die trying. Hopefully, it’s the latter.

This was a perfectly written ending for this particular series, as well as the Percy Jackson series in general. Again, I was still genuinely surprised by how good this series was as well as how mature it was. Rick Riordan has always done a good job adding some sort of lesson or moral to his story without it being too preach-y. As an adult, I appreciated what Riordan had to say through Apollo/Lester’s trials. This particular book was action packed and heartfelt. I still can’t recommend this series enough. Never grow up, my fellow Greek myth nerds.