Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi- Review

Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi feature photo

Synopsis

Outrun the Wind reviewThe Huntresses of Artemis must obey two rules: never disobey the goddess, and never fall in love. After being rescued from a harrowing life as an Oracle of Delphi, Kahina is glad to be a part of the Hunt; living among a group of female warriors gives her a chance to reclaim her strength, even while her prophetic powers linger. But when a routine mission goes awry, Kahina breaks the first rule in order to save the legendary huntress Atalanta.

To earn back Artemis’s favor, Kahina must complete a dangerous task in the kingdom of Arkadia— where the king’s daughter is revealed to be none other than Atalanta. Still reeling from her disastrous quest and her father’s insistence on marriage, Atalanta isn’t sure what to make of Kahina. As her connection to Atalanta deepens, Kahina finds herself in danger of breaking Artemis’ second rule.

She helps Atalanta devise a dangerous game to avoid marriage, and word spreads throughout Greece, attracting suitors willing to tempt fate to go up against Atalanta in a race for her hand. But when the men responsible for both the girls’ dark pasts arrive, the game turns deadly.

Review

You may have heard  the story of Greek heroine Atalanta, but you’ve never heard her story quite like this. Outrun the Wind by Elizabeth Tammi is a retelling of the Atalanta myth, the story of the only girl on the hunt for the massive Calydonian Boar.

Atalanta is known for her speed and hunting prowess. However, when the Calydonian boar is coming after her, she isn’t the one who kills it. But being the only woman in a group of men who don’t particularly like having her on board, Atalanta takes credit for the kill and pockets the weapon that did it. Athena and her huntresses are upset that the boar has been killed. But Athena is more angry that one of her huntresses, Kahina, is the one that threw the knife. When the leader of the Calydonian hunt is killed, Atalanta strikes off on her own. Kahina is exiled from Athena’s huntresses and forced to complete a task in Arkadia to earn her place back among them.

Kahina can’t get Atalanta out of her mind. She didn’t believe she’d ever again see the girl who took credit for her kill and whom she blames for her exile. Soon they run into each other in Arkadia. There, both girls must get over their frustrations with one another to protect themselves against people who’d hurt them in their pasts, and to protect them both against the looming threat of Athena’s brother, Apollo.

characters

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the relationships and conflict between characters. Atalanta and Kahina are both strong, capable, badass women whose perspectives were fun to read. Their experiences and backstories are well written and the characters pasts influence their actions within the story itself. While Kahina’s chip on her shoulder in regards to Atalanta (blaming Atalanta for her exile) was irritating, I enjoyed the enemies to friends trope that played out in regards to their relationship. However, I did struggle to connect to these characters for a good portion of the book. Even when I was reading their perspective, they felt kind of closed off. I didn’t connect with either Atalanta or Kahina until about halfway through the book.

Even the secondary characters were fun to read about. Phelix, the cinnamon roll, was easily my favorite character in the story. Even though he wasn’t one of the point of view characters, the author did a really good job in helping the reader connect with and feel for him.  I really enjoyed his relationship to both Atalanta and Kahina, and reading about their adventures as a trio was fun.

setting

The settings in this book were vivid, and the author described them so well that they were easy to picture while reading. The palace of Arkadia was especially vivid and well-written. The people there, and the struggles of the court, allowed you to have an idea of the inner politics, while the description of the land and the city below painted a beautiful picture.

Overall

For me, this book was unique because of it’s perspective on the Greek myth of Atalanta. We were able to see both sides of the story and get into the minds of both of our heroines. I can’t say much more without giving too much away, but if you’re a fan of the Percy Jackson series, mythology retellings, and well developed female characters, I highly recommend you read Outrun the Wind!

Rating: 3.75/5 stars!

The publisher sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Top 10 Books of 2016

Top 10 Books of 2016In 2016, I set out with a goal of reading 100 books. Ten of those books would be re-reads for me, another 12 to be contemporary, and 5 to be non-fiction. My Top 10 bOOKS OF 2016 ARE A NICE MIX OF ALL OF THOSE GOALS.

Not long into the year, I knew that reading 2 books a week would be difficult, if not impossible and the goal of 100 books was cut in half.  That was a much more manageable goal. I reached and surpassed 50 books easily.

I read a total of 73 books in 2016!

  • 12 of them were contemporary novels (goal achieved!)
  • 8 of them were re-reads (goal not quite achieved, but close!)
  •  2 were non-fiction (wah wahhhh– fail)

But so many of them were incredible. Here are my top 10 books of 2016 (in no particular order)!

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March Wrap Up!

March Wrap UpI didn’t post at all in March, but I did read a lot of books. Eight books to be exact! So since I have been too crazy and busy to post full length reviews, check out these awesome mini-reviews in my March Wrap Up!

My rating system works as follows: a scale of 1-5 hearts, 5 being the highest meaning I absolutely loved the book, and 1 being the lowest meaning I didn’t like the book at all.

  1. Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo

14061957I read the first two books in this trilogy last year and finally picked up the last book. I found Ruin and Rising to be an interesting ending to this fantasy adventure. While Alina sometimes grated on my nerves, I really liked the emotional journey that she undertook in this book. It wasn’t my favorite in the trilogy (#1 was) but I really liked it.

Rating:  ♥♥♥♥

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What I'm Reading & Writing Wednesday

whatimreadingandwritingwednesday

Hey everyone! It’s Wednesday again and I have a lot to share with you, especially because I completely forgot about this feature last week (yeahhh sometimes I forget what day of the week it is). Anyway What I’m Reading and Writing Wednesday is my own spin on WWW Wednesday, hosted by Taking on a World of Words and This Week in Books hosted by Lipsyy Lost and Found.

What I’m reading this week…

A lot.

I just finished reading…

  • A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard. I loved this book and thought that it was a really fun sequel to Something Strange and Deadly and can’t wait  to pick up the 3rd book.
  • I finally finished A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab and it’s definitely one of the best books I’ve read so far this year! Not sure why it took me so long to finish (although it got buried in my craft room for a couple of weeks).
  • Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler. I really enjoyed this book, even though it took me a little time to get into. I’m not a huge reader of contemporary, but I am glad that I pushed through it. Diversity in YA and NA is incredibly important and Dahlia Adler definitely showed that message as it relates to diversity in other forms of entertainment.

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Mini Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

PivotPointHC_jkt_des8bGoodreads Synopsis:

Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.

Mini Review:

I found Pivot Point to be a very unique and intriguing read. I loved Kasie West’s writing style and the format that she chose to use to tell Addie’s story and the huge decision that she has to make. The idea of paralell universes that split from the many sides of one choice is fascinating to me. It was very interesting to see what crossed over between the two choices that Addie could make. The characters in this novel were also incredibly likeable. Both Addie and her best friend Laila are characters that I could see myself being friends with.

With some really interesting and quite shocking twists, great characters, and a fun and engaging story, Pivot Point was a great summer read!

Review: Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

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~~Spoiler Alert~~ If you haven’t read the first two books in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, this review may contain spoilers. If you would like to remain spoiler-free for yourself, you can check out my review of Daughter of Smoke and Bone or Days of Blood and Starlight (depending on where you are in the series or what you would like to do) 🙂

Synopsis (Goodreads):

By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her, if there can even be a future for the chimaera in war-ravaged Eretz.

Common enemy, common cause.

When Jael’s brutal seraph army trespasses into the human world, the unthinkable becomes essential, and Karou and Akiva must ally their enemy armies against the threat. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people.

And, perhaps, for themselves. Toward a new way of living, and maybe even love.

But there are bigger threats than Jael in the offing. A vicious queen is hunting Akiva, and, in the skies of Eretz … something is happening. Massive stains are spreading like bruises from horizon to horizon; the great winged stormhunters are gathering as if summoned, ceaselessly circling, and a deep sense of wrong pervades the world.

What power can bruise the sky?

From the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond, humans, chimaera and seraphim will fight, strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.

At the very barriers of space and time, what do gods and monsters dream of? And does anything else matter?

Review:

I have a tendency to try to marathon trilogies and/or series and burn out half-way through. This was not the case with Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. Where the first book in this trilogy was a fantastical original fairytale, and the second book was a brutal and heart wrenching (yet very good) continuation to the series, I feel that Dreams of Gods and Monsters was the perfect blend of the first two books. We had the fantastical worlds and stunning imagery and writing, yet there was quite a bit of brutality and suspense.

I love the growth that the characters in this series have made over the course of the trilogy. Karou has come to know and understand herself and her place in the universes that she belongs in, Liraz becomes a hell of a lot more likeable (I think her transformation is the biggest one in the series), and Ziri, oh I love Ziri. I love Karou, but I think that he is my favorite character in this whole series. We are also introduced to an awesome and fascinating new main character Eliza, who I adored. I would love to see more of her story. Laini Taylor has succeeded in keeping my interest and making me so emotionally invested in these characters that I was heartbroken and happy and scared right along with them. My poor boyfriend sat next to me one night as I screamed “No!!!!” at one heartbreaking moment and another night where I kept saying “yay!” over and over again. These characters will not be leaving my mind anytime soon, that’s for sure.

While I found that Dreams of Gods and Monsters had it’s slow-ish points, most of the book kept me on the edge of my seat and reading for hours on end. It begins in a rather nerve-wracking way that really makes you nervous that the shit is going to hit the fan, and it does quite a few times.  However Laini Taylor has written a wonderful conclusion to an equally amazing trilogy.
Because Laini Taylor is amazing— here is a video of her talking about The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, especially Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

Review- Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

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Warning… this review contains spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone. If you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and Bone, you can read my review here.

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Synopsis (Goodreads)

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.

This is not that world.

Art student and monster’s apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is—and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she’ll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?

Review

Days of Blood and Starlight is a gorgeous and gut-wrenching sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. The first thing that I immediately noticed was the change in tone from the first novel in the trilogy. We begin in a dangerous place,with Akiva searching for Karou and both characters trying to come to terms with what is happening between the worlds of the angels and the chimera. Karou finds herself in an equally dangerous position, in the camps of the chimera carrying on Brimstone’s work after his untimely death.

The dichotomy in this book between good and evil, right and wrong is very blurred, and I loved that. Both Karou and Akiva were in very morally grey areas and didn’t always agree with what they were doing, but tried to do what was best for them and their cause. However we see both the positive and negative sides of the causes for which both sides fight and the corruption within the highest ranks of each army and we see how this effects Karou and Akiva.

I loved seeing both of these worlds and Laini Taylor paints such a beautiful and vivid picture with her words. She gave me such a better view of the whole story with this novel, of the main characters and their motivations. As a reader, I really felt for Karou and Akiva and could put myself in their shoes.

Lastly, my favorite part of this book was the character who surprised me most, Ziri. He was soft and shy, but very brave and noble. I loved the friendship that developed between Ziri and Karou, and I really hope to see more of him in the next book (which I will definitely be reading soon).

This book gave me so many feels. It was beautiful, sad, grisly and so much more. (I would be here forever if I talked about how much I love this book and series).

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My random thoughts about Days of Blood and Starlight.

1. Karou is so bad ass. I love her and her internal struggle is so realistic and beautifully written. Plus she has great hair.

tumblr_my7mvkVuQp1sfvv1po1_500Can someone please dye my hair this color? Please?

 

2. Akiva is still gorgeous and sexy and basically, I love him.

3. This book wasn’t as fanciful as the first in the series, but it was brutal and instense and just… ugh. It’s very hard for me to describe.

So until I read Dreams of Gods and Monsters…

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Review: Cress by Marissa Meyer- I want more Lunar Chronicles!

cressHaven’t started the Lunar Chronicles yet? Don’t spoil it for yourselves! Take a peek at my reviews of Cinder or Scarlet (depending on where you are in the series!)

Synopsis:

In this third book in the Lunar Chronicles, Cinder and Captain Thorne are fugitives on the run, now with Scarlet and Wolf in tow. Together, they’re plotting to overthrow Queen Levana and her army.

Their best hope lies with Cress, a girl imprisoned on a satellite since childhood who’s only ever had her netscreens as company. All that screen time has made Cress an excellent hacker. Unfortunately, she’s just received orders from Levana to track down Cinder and her handsome accomplice.

When a daring rescue of Cress goes awry, the group is separated. Cress finally has her freedom, but it comes at a high price. Meanwhile, Queen Levana will let nothing prevent her marriage to Emperor Kai. Cress, Scarlet, and Cinder may not have signed up to save the world, but they may be the only hope the world has

Why I love Cress!

  • I didn’t read Cress nearly as quickly as I would have liked, but the book itself was a fast-paced adventure. I loved how it was split between the perspective of the three heroines: Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress. The multiple perspectives allowed me to have a fuller experience while reading the novel because I knew what was happening on all sides of things, especially towards the end when things started to get real exciting.
  • Cress is a much different heroine than we see in the other two books. She has been holed up in a satellite spying on Earth since she was a small child and therefore she doesn’t exactly have the social skills that the others have. Cress is a very lonely person who kept herself entertained with stories that she made up for herself and she dreamed of herself being a damsel in distress saved by a hero. While I’m not a fan of the damsel in distress idea, I love how this was not your typical story that uses this trope. Cress grows more and more sure of herself over the course of the novel, which I loved.
  • There is so much Carswell Thorne goodness and oh gosh I freaking love him. He brings the right amount of cheeky and flirty humor that had me loving him from the get-go, but I love how he is with Cress. They have a very funny and interesting relationship, especially after an unfortunate series of events that leaves Carswell blind. He is definitely my favorite character in this book.

And now I have to wait for Winter and all I can say is this…

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My New Obsession- Daughter of Smoke and Bone review

daughterofsmokeandboneSynopsis:

Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky.

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low.

And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.

Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real, she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”, she speaks many languages – not all of them human – and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out.

When beautiful, haunted Akiva fixes fiery eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

Review:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of those books that I just had to read after hearing bloggers and booktubers gush about how much they loved it and how they were waiting patiently (some not so much) for the third book in the series to come out. It had been on my TBR list for a while, so I finally decided to join the club (quite late) and read it.

And wow am I glad that I did!

Laini Taylor has written a beautifully crafted book about a girl who lives split between two worlds. Karou is desperately trying to find out who she is and learn more about her past. I was instantly swept away by the world that Taylor has created and fascinated by the characters, especially the chimera, who seem to be gentle giants but who also have scary secrets of their own. It gives a new twist to the idea of angels and demons, pitting them against each other in ways that make you think differently about both parties.

Karou is a strong, smart female character, one that I wish we saw more of in YA. She is a hard person to get to know and has more skeletons in her closet and secrets to keep than she cares to admit. She isn’t afraid to whoop a lot of ass and has the scars to prove it. However, I adored her and her relationships with the other characters in the book, especially her best friend Zuzana and her father-figure Brimstone.

Akiva is an angel hell-bent on revenge. He wants to destroy the chimera, but he is intrigued by Karou. He is a sexy, yet sometimes infuriating character that had me both cheering and fuming. Did I mention he was sexy??

10helloI mean, really.

My only issue with this book was the last couple of chapters. I guessed the twist before it happened (which was okay) but I just felt like the end was an info-dump extravaganza. I liked it and felt that it fit with the book, I just wished that it was broken up a little bit more.

Basically if you haven’t read Daughter of Smoke and bone yet, you should at least give it a try. It was captivating, beautiful, and tragic. I have both the second and third book just waiting for me to have time to jump into them and explore Karou’s world a little bit more.

If I could sum up in one GIF the way Daughter of Smoke and Bone made me feel, it would be :

exciteddavidtennantUnbe-freaking-lievably excited! Daughter of Smoke and Bone is probably the best book I have read thus far in 2014.

 

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?

 

Nameless by Lili St. Crow- A unique spin on a beloved fairy tale

nameless Synopsis:

When Camille was six years old, she was discovered alone in the snow by Enrico Vultusino, godfather of the Seven—the powerful Families that rule magic-ridden New Haven. Papa Vultusino adopted the mute, scarred child, naming her after his dead wife and raising her in luxury on Haven Hill alongside his own son, Nico.

Now Cami is turning sixteen. She’s no longer mute, though she keeps her faded scars hidden under her school uniform, and though she opens up only to her two best friends, Ruby and Ellie, and to Nico, who has become more than a brother to her. But even though Cami is a pampered Vultusino heiress, she knows that she is not really Family. Unlike them, she is a mortal with a past that lies buried in trauma. And it’s not until she meets the mysterious Tor, who reveals scars of his own, that Cami begins to uncover the secrets of her birth…to find out where she comes from and why her past is threatening her now.

Review:

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up Nameless  (A Tale of Beauty and Madness #1). I’d heard that it was a retelling of beloved fairy tale snow white, but I was curious to know how this book would weave in that fairy tale. Truth be told, I thought that I had to really search for the connections throughout the majority of the book, which I was kind of disappointed with. But what really made up for it was the world created by Lili St. Crow.

Lili St. Crow has created a world, that looks much like our own on the surface, but that is full of monsters or “Twists” whose potential for magic got so out of control that it contorted their being and “Jacks” who look fantastical and have quite the attitude. Then there is the Family, made up of seven families of what seems to be vampires. While I loved the world and the magic that went along with it, I felt that a lot of explanation of what the Twists and Jacks were. I was really confused throughout the first portion of the novel, where these terms came up with no explanation. I felt like I should already know what or two these things were.

Cami was an interesting character to say the least. She has visions and vibes from her past that she can’t explain and is searching desperately to find out who she truely is. Her adopted brother is becoming something more in her eyes (which really freaked me out, especially considering that they grew up together), but in the novel it seemed that happened quite often within the Families.

One of my favorite things about this book were Cami’s two best friends Ellie and Ruby. Their interactions and adventures always made me laugh and I loved the banter that went on between them.

Overall, Nameless was an ok read. It had it’s faults, but I enjoyed the characters and being in the world created by the author.