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Camping Trip Mini Reviews

Hi friends! I’ve recently returned from a big camping trip where I got to read a whole handful of books. So I’m just going to do the tiniest of mini-reviews for each one, and if anybody wants to know more or talk more about any of these books, hit me up in the comments. Without further ado, camping trip mini reviews (all are spoiler-free)!

# of Pages: 439

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 63

Rating: 5 out of 5

This book was a Secret Santa gift given by a co-worker who doesn’t read, he just picked it out because he thought it looked cool on Amazon. And I have to say, I was excited to read it regardless because I’d heard great things about it, but my friend really made a great pick! I started out thinking this retelling might be a little cheesy, because the character’s names are “Roma” and “Juliette”, so pretty on-the-nose, and in the setup it’s pretty obvious who the other side characters are supposed to be if you’ve read Romeo and Juliet. But this is not the simple love at first sight then die unnecessarily story. Both Roma and Juliette are well-developed characters with a past history, and the ruthless, bloody gangster backdrop makes for a really interesting read. I’m not super familiar with early 20th-century history, so I’m not sure how much of the 1920’s Shanghei is fiction and how much is history, but either way it was monstrously compelling. I’d say the story is a little slow to start, but ramps up quickly and is impossible to put down after a point. I’m so very excited for the sequel later this year, and would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of YA, classic story retellings, or historical romances.

# of Pages: 511

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 73

Rating: 5 out of 5

I’ve only ever done a Throwback review way back in the day where I got to talk about Leigh Bardugo, so I’m stoked to finally be getting that chance again. If you haven’t heard of Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse, I’m not sure what rock you’ve been hiding under. A few months ago the wildly popular Shadow and Bone series premiered on Netflix, which covers characters from a few different series of Bardugo’s. The events of King of Scars have not been covered in the show (yet), but I’m hopeful for the future. Anyway, King of Scars is a re-read for me, because I read it years ago when it first came out, and the sequel was recently released, and I wanted to read them back-to-back. I could literally spend pages talking about why Leigh Bardugo is no-doubt one of the top authors in YA currently, but I’ll try to keep it to a few sentences. The “Grishaverse” world she has built is incredibly detailed and vivid, with each country based on the cultures of real-world places (Ravka = Russia, Kerch = The Netherlands/Amsterdam specifically). Having a fantasy world based on the real world in some ways really grounds the reader and makes it immersive. For characters, these books are pretty large cast, and she does a great job flipping perspectives while keeping the reader engaged no matter who’s story you’re reading. These books are incredibly fast paced and impossible to put down. I loved it just as much this time around as I did the first time.

# of Pages: 588

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 84

Rating: 5 out of 5

Sequel to King of Scars, Rule of Wolves is equally fantastic. I really enjoyed the opportunity I had to read them back to back, I think it added a lot to my understanding of all of the details and plot points of this final installment. Not a whole lot to say here that I didn’t say in the previous review, Leigh Bardugo is a master world-builder and storyteller. Each of her many characters are pretty much equally engaging, and her pacing is always perfect. I think of all of my camping books I finished this one the quickest, because I honestly, truly could not stop reading it. Rule of Wolves did not end as I expected in a lot of ways, but I think all of the storylines that needed to be wrapped up were, but Bardugo always leaves herself room for writing new adventures, and I’m hoping I guessed right and she teased a new story with old favorites coming someday. Anyway, if you haven’t read any Leigh Bardugo, just do yourself a favor and get into the Grishaverse. Here is my official recommendation for the order you should read her three Grishaverse series: Six of Crows duology, Shadow and Bone trilogy, King of Scars duology. This order is not entirely chronological, but as someone who has read all of these books originally in chronological order, I can tell you you’ll have more fun reading it in the order I provided.

# of Pages: 365

Time it took me to read: 3 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 52

Rating: 4 out of 5

This book was a big shift from everything else I was reading on this trip, I really wanted to have a little bit of variety after reading only YA fantasy. The World That We Knew is a historical fiction novel set in Europe during the Holocaust, and like most of Alice Hoffman’s work that I’ve read, has just a touch of magic added to move it along. Lea is a young Jewish girl living in Berlin during the second world war. Her mother will do anything to get her out of the country, so she works with the daughter of a rabbi to construct a golum, a being made of clay that will serve the wishes of its master. Lea’s mother names the golum Ava and sends the two off to Paris, where she hopes they will be safe. The World that We Knew tells the story of men, women, and children across Germany and Paris who fight for the survival of themselves and others. It’s very well researched and provides many facts and figures of the devistation wrought by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Alice Hoffman is a wonderful writer, her historical novels are some of my favorites, but one thing kept me from falling completely in love with this story, and it took me a while to put my finger on it. I think that, personally, I was sort of brought out of the story because it focused on too many different characters, it left me hard-pressed to become particularly attached to any of them. And in certain sections she’d be telling the story of a character fleeing arrest by the Germans, and then it would flow into an objective, real fact about the prison those that were arrested that day were sent to, and how many died. While I appreciated the facts as a history buff, it sort of transported me out of the story and back to reality, which was for me not my favorite decision she made. But overall I’d definitely recommend the book to anyone who enjoys WW2 historical fiction.



Thanks for hanging in there everybody, I’ll be back with more regularly scheduled reviews and summaries soon. Hope everyone has a great August ❤

Reviews · Summaries

Wings of Fury by Emily R. King (Book 1)

# of Pages: 285

Time it took me to read: 2 days

# of pages a day to finish in a week: 41

Rating: 3 out of 5

Althea and her two older sisters have lived with the priestesses of Gaia since their mother died. The three sisters, along with everyone else, live in fear of their ruler, the Almighty Cronus, who’s soldiers terrify the population and collect honor maidens to satiate the desires of the undying God of Gods. But Althea has extra reason to fear, because she has been marked as the future bride to the despicable General Decimus, who will come to collect her any day now.

Althea knows it is time for her and her sisters to flee Thessaly to the southern islands, where the hold of Cronos is weaker and Decimus can never find her. But after visiting an oracle that tells her that her fate is inextricably woven with the Boy God who will defeat Cronus and take his throne, Althea must go on a journey unlike any other if she is to save her sisters and discover who she was always meant to be.

Review

Okay, I’m just going to say that I have two different ratings for this book. 3 out of 5 is my official rating, which is very diplomatic and objectively, this book is not bad and has the building blocks of a solid historical fantasy, and as someone who is also a writer who is working on a historical fantasy, I have to give the author at least a 3.

However, personally this book upset me and if I were giving it a purely subjective rating I would give it a 2 out of 5. And here is where this review will likely devolve mostly into ranting, so buckle in.

Fun fact about me is that I minored in the completely useless but incredibly fun program of Greco-Roman Classical studies when I was in school. So I am very familiar with ancient Greek literature, and thusly the mythology surrounding the culture. And while I love, love, LOVE a good reimagining of Greek myth, or a unique story set in the time period, I would largely call myself a “purist” in many ways. If you’re going to tell a story that is mostly well known characters from myth, I believe that it should be mostly true to the source material. That being said, there are many different versions of lots of the most popular myths, so there is often some wiggle room here, which makes it easier to be creative. 

It also doesn’t help that I *thought* this book was going to be something completely other than what it was. It’s marketed as a mortal woman taking on Cronus in the time before the Olympians, where there is not a whole lot of myth or storytelling, so I was pretty excited because due to the lack of a lot of well-known source material from this time of the Titans, I thought the author was really going to have the opportunity to spread her wings (no pun intended) and do something unlike a lot of the myth retellings out there.

I’m not going to put any spoilers in this part, but I’ll just say that the twist came at the end of the book, and in my opinion this twist really threw away everything that the author had worked on building, because what seemed to be a unique story about unknown mortals actually ended up being a version of a well-known myth, and that’s what really killed it for me. Because all of the setup that the author did, all of the various possibilities that were open to her, completely shrunk down to two options for the end of the sequel: a) have the myth remain true to the original source material, which would require a bunch of character building that was done in the early part of the book to all have to be thrown away OR b) be completely disingenuous to the original source material. Both of which I think are very crummy options.

I’ve talked a lot about the end of this book, but before I even had begun I suspected that I wouldn’t like this book because of a very specific pet-peeve I have about these types of stories. And that pet-peeve is when the Greek gods are the “good guys” in any way. Because, like I said, I’m a purist, and the Greek gods suck. In every single story, they suck. They exemplify all of the worst human traits without any human compassion. So I automatically have a bias against books where mortals team up with gods to defeat other gods because the gods do not care about mortals, at all. And just by reading the blurb I knew the protagonist was gonna be teaming up with Zeus, arguably one of the worst gods, so I knew that this book was gonna have to work real hard to win me over. And it really didn’t.

But I did give this book a 3 because I feel like the author did a good job of making this story feel accessible, because when they’re set in the ancient past like this one is, if you’re not careful it can lose the ancient vibe and feel too modern, but if you lean too hard into the ancient thing, it feels inaccessible and hard to fall into. I think this book walks a very good line, and I felt like I was into the ancient world she built. And I didn’t dislike the characters either. Althea was easy to root for because she had a tragic past and a noble cause, and I do like protagonists who are easy to root for.

Alright, end rant, now onto the summary. Because though the ending of this book made me upset, you can be damn sure I’m going to read the sequel to see how she ends up wrapping up the messy threads she’s left everywhere.

!!!SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

Cast

Althea – protagonist, youngest sister of Cleora and Bronte. An oracle tells her that her fate is to help Zeus defeat Cronus and take his throne. Althea is dedicated and loyal to her sisters. Interested romantically in Theo, but “tagged” by General Decimus as his future bride when she was eleven. Strong, stubborn, does not trust easily.

Bronte – middle Lambros sister, very good with plants. She’s kind, and she always wants to do what is best for her sisters and anyone around her. A lovely singer and a student of philosophy.

Cleora – oldest Lambros sister, happy at the temple of Gaia with the priestesses and wants to live as a virgin. Captured early on by Decimus and taken to Cronus.

Theo – Theo Angelos is a commander in Cronus’s army. But when his mother is in danger he deserts the army to join Althea in her quest to find the Boy God who will topple Cronus from his throne. Bastard son of the Titan Prometheus and the love interest of Althea.

Decimus – General in Cronus’s army, “tags” Althea for marriage when she is a young girl. A proud and cruel minion of Cronus, he is determined to have Althea as his one way or another.

Zeus – fifteen year old son of Cronus and Rhea, but hidden from Cronus at birth to keep him safe. He was hidden away living with nymphs and an all-female tribe of worshippers of Aphrodite on the island of Crete, far from his father’s far-seeing eye. Arrogant, but also afraid of his father and nervous that he won’t be able to take his father’s place. Cares a lot about Althea.

Cronus – The Almighty, God of Gods, king of the Titans. Rules over the land, and is known for his cruelty. Takes any young women he pleases as “honor maidens”, who make up his haram. When those girls and women become pregnant, they pretty much always die giving birth to a half-Titan. Known for eating his fully-Titan children to prevent them from overpowering him.

Stavra Lambros – human mother of Cleora, Bronte, and Althea. When she angers Cronus, she tries to hide her daughters with the priestesses of Gaia, but the army finds her and she becomes an honor maiden to Cronus until she dies giving birth to his daughter, a half-Titan girl who is immediately taken away. Her and her husband smuggled oppressed women off of the mainland to Crete to live with the cult of Aphrodite.

Summary

Act 1

In the prologue, Althea and her sisters have fled to the temple of Gaia at the bidding of their mother. Soldiers arrive at the temple, but before they can find the girls, their mother Stavra steps out and gives herself up to protect her daughters. Eleven year old Althea runs from her hiding spot and tries to defend her mother, but just calls attention to herself. General Decimus decides that he wants her for his future bride, so she is given a “tag”, which is a brand on the back of her neck declaring that she is spoken for. The soldiers take Stavra away to be an “honor maiden” of Cronus, which usually means eventual death.

Nine months later soldiers return Stavra to the temple, where she is in labor with Cronus’s child. She does not survive the birth, but the baby girl does, and Stavra tasks Althea with watching over her sisters. So she grabs the baby, but the soldiers return for it, as it is a child of Cronus. Althea tries to defend her infant half-sister, but the soldiers take the baby away.

Seven years pass and the three sisters are grown up. Althea knows the time to leave the temple is approaching fast, as Decimus could return to collect her as his bride any day. Althea is sent into town where she meets a kindhearted soldier who gives her the olives she’s looking for. Later that night, she sneaks back to town and goes to see an oracle, who tells her that if she wants to save her sisters, she has to follow her destiny, which is to go to Crete and work with the secret son of Cronus, who is the only one who will be able to dethrone his father. She is told to take as her guide a stranger who has a good heart.

Althea runs back to the temple, where the soldiers have arrived and are looking for the sisters. Althea finds Bronte and Cleora hiding from the soldiers, but they don’t have the pouch with all of their money. Cleora volunteers to go and get it, but she is captured by Decimus. The General says that he’ll exchange Cleora for Althea, but they know he is likely lying, and Bronte convinces Althea that the best way to free their sister is to get to Crete and help the Boy God dethrone Cronus. So Althea and Bronte flee the temple to a hidden cave nearby.

The next day, they are discovered at the cave by Theo Angelos, who was the soldier that gave the olives to Althea in the market, and he is one of the soldiers who accompanies Decimus. He says he wants to desert and come with them, because the oracle also told him that he needed to find her and help her in order to save his mother. They initially refuse his help, but they are ambushed by Decimus’s soldiers at the cave, and Theo bravely helps them fight off the soldiers, but not before Decimus lays a curse on Althea that she’ll belong to him and nobody else.

Theo, Bronte, and Althea manage to escape to the port, where the fishing boat Althea purchased the previous day is waiting for them. Theo is a sailor, and they’ve decided to accept his help as their guide. They take the boat and make it to Crete with no trouble a few days later.

They meet the cult of Aphrodite, composed only of women, who want to send the sisters away and kill Theo, but it turns out that their mother Stavra was once one of them, so out of respect the cult allows them to stay one night. They are joined by the two nymphs that live with the tribe, Adrasteia and Ida. Althea tells them that her and her companions were sent by Rhea with a message for her son, the Boy God. The nymphs are convinced to let Althea and Bronte go and visit the boy, who’s name is Zeus, and at fifteen he really is a boy god. They try to convince him to work with them to overthrow Cronus, but Zeus refuses out of fear and sends them away.

Act 2

The next morning the three set out from Crete. They stop briefly on an island, where they find evidence that Stavra and Tassos were the main smugglers of women away from the mainland to safety on Crete. They are also set upon by the Erinyes, the Furies who punish oath breakers and murderers. They manage to get rid of them, but are sure they’ll be back.

The three companions sail back to Crete, sneak onto the island, and Althea goes to Zeus and changes his mind about training to overthrow Cronus. Theo agrees to train Zeus for it.

Theo, Bronte, and Althea settle into life on the island. Theo trains Zeus, and Althea falls harder for Theo. Althea is attacked once again by the Erinyes, but Zeus saves her life. Althea goes to talk to Ida, who tries to convince Althea that if she allows Ida to ritually purify her by cutting her up, but Althea refuses.

There are calls for the warriors to come down to the beach, there is a sea dragon down there attacking the cult members. Althea and Theo are working to fight it off, but it’s not until Zeus arrives and summons the lightening storm that the dragon is chased off.

However, the use of his godly powers brings General Decimus to the shores of Crete. He has teamed up with slavers as well as the goddess Ida, who was tired of “wasting away” on Crete. Adrasteia tries to convince Ida to come to her senses, but Ida kills her instead. Decimus captures Bronte, and says that he’ll exchange her for Althea, tries to use the curse he placed on Althea to get her to come to him. But Theo manages to get her and Zeus to the boat and escape Crete, leaving Bronte behind. Althea falls unconscious.

Act 3

When she awakes, she finds that they are at the home of Helios, god of the sun. Althea has dinner with Helios, Selene, and Eos, as well as Zeus’s betrothed Metis, who gives Althea a draught to weaken Cronus so that Zeus can strike him down. They lay out their plan, and it is revealed that Theo is the son of Prometheus, so half Titan.

The next morning, the Decimus and the soldiers have found them again, and it seems as though Theo has betrayed them all, because he seems to be working with them again, he helped them capture Zeus. But Althea manages to free Zeus, and he escapes with Metis on a boat, but Althea is captured by Decimus, who says that the Almighty wants to speak to her.

So Althea is brought to Cronus’s palace, where she is reunited with Bronte. The two sisters are brought before Cronus, who has Cleora with him, but she appears to be happy and fine. Cronus reveals that the three sisters are actually his children with Rhea, full Titans, but that he took away their powers to “protect them”. Their mother Stavra was only their surrogate. The goddess of memory altered Stavra’s thoughts so that she believed she’d birthed the three girls, but Stavra had the Titan Oceanus reveal her memories and she remembered that the girls were Titans, and tried to tell them, which is why Cronus took her out. He reveals that Cleora is Hestia, Bronte is Demeter, and Althea is Hera.

Althea doesn’t want to believe it, can’t believe it, but then she finds that Bronte’s memories have been altered as well, and she is happy to be here with Cronus. When Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, arrives to alter Althea’s thoughts, Althea uses half of the draught Metis made for her to drug Mnemosyne, and then pretends to be addled when she’s brought in front of Cronus. 

Althea realizes that her powers, as well as those of her sisters, are trapped within Cronus, and after drugging him she is able to use the adamant sycle to have their powers restored. There is a big battle where Zeus and Theo (who only pretended to betray them), help attack Cronus. 

Eventually, Cronus is temporarily defeated when Althea flings him into space (I think), but he’ll be back. This epic battle was all possible because the power reveal included that the sisters all actually had wings. Decimus is also defeated, as Althea demands that he remove his curse or she’ll kill him. He removes the curse, which ends up killing him anyway, which puts the Erinyes off of her tail.

The story ends with the sisters finding their little half sister, Delphine, where she was hidden with traveling nomads.

Cronus will return, and they will have to be prepared. Dun dun dun.

End Book 1

!!!END SPOILERS!!!

Well, as much as I overall disliked the book (especially the ending I thought was weak), I’m certainly interested enough in how everything is going to come together to pick up the sequel sometime soon.

If you liked Wings of Fury (or are looking for something better in the same genre), try:

Troy by Adele Geras

Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter