Book Review: Wings of Olympus by Kallie George

39855066._SY475_Wings of Olympus

Kallie George

4/5 stars

Release Date: March 5, 2019

Publisher: HarperCollins

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis:

Take flight with Pippa and her winged horse in this heartfelt two-book series about a young girl who must win the hardest race in ancient Greece in order to stay with her closest friend.

This new series from acclaimed author Kallie George is perfect for horse lovers and fans of Greek myths alike!

High on the slopes of mighty Mount Olympus, among the sun-splashed meadows and sparkling waters, glide the winged horses of the ancient gods. Here up high is normally no place for a lost, parentless girl like Pippa. But once every hundred years, the gods and goddesses descend to the mortal realm to choose jockeys for their winged horse race—and Pippa is one of the lucky children chosen to ride.

With her undersized, impetuous winged steed, Zephyr, by her side, Pippa has to confront the greatest challenge of her life: achieving victory in a race across the sky.

No one expects Pippa and Zephyr to win, or even finish, this death-defying race. A poor orphan who’s spent her life working in stables, Pippa doesn’t seem to belong in the world of the gods. And while she loves Zephyr with all her heart, he’s smaller than the other winged horses racing. But if Pippa and Zephyr don’t find a way to win, the gods will separate them—forever.

To stay with Zephyr, Pippa will have to work harder, train longer, and dare more bravely than her competition. In a race filled with petty, jealous gods and goddesses and a host of ruthless riders, Pippa must prove that love is greater than might.

This stirring adventure series by beloved author Kallie George is perfect for fans of the Percy Jackson books and The War That Saved My Life.

Review:

WINGS OF OLYMPUS by Kallie George is a charming, middle grade novel that readers will immediately connect with. I saw parts of myself in the protagonist, Pippa, and her winged steed, Zephyr. I fell in love with this novel very quickly and it’s exactly the kind of thing I loved to read as a child. It combined two of my favourite things – horses and Greek myths. I am avidly awaiting the next instalment of this series!

This novel is set in Ancient Greece, on Mount Olympus. Once every hundred years, twelve children are chosen as riders, to participate in a winged horse race. A race of the gods and goddesses. The winner gets to stay on Mount Olympus as a demigod, and their winged horse becomes Zeus’ new steed.

“Aloft wings beat and feathers fly, hark the horses of the sky!”.

Pippa is an orphan, a foundling with no knowledge of her parents and family, and forced to rely on the pity and generosity of others. I immediately connected with Pippa. Her surprise and self doubt at being chosen, at perhaps even winning such a grand race, was something I’ve felt before. She soon works to overcome those doubts, to win so that she can stay with Zephyr forever. Pippa’s love for Zeph, and his for her, was incredibly strong!

I did have a few problems with the novel. Secondary and minor characters turned out to be flat and cliche. Many would immediately hate or distrust Pippa, way too easily and without any solid reasoning behind it. I assumed it was because she’s a foundling and I guess that’s bad for Ancient Greek society? But it was never explained why foundlings are bad or useless, not even by the very characters who held these opinions. I could assume why because I already have some knowledge of Ancient Greece. However, the reader should not have to draw on their own knowledge, the author needs to provide that on the page. This mostly happened at the beginning, so I think the author might’ve been trying to get the reader to quickly like and connect with Pippa. I liked Pippa but not because minor characters hated or ignored her.

The novel also could’ve had more female characters. The gods and goddesses served as patrons for their riders and horses. Half of these patrons were goddesses but only two riders were female. I think we need to be critical of things like this, especially when it comes to children’s literature.

Overall, it was an incredibly, entertaining novel and I’m excited to read the sequel! I loved most of the riders and horses, and I hope I get to read about them again. There were a couple plot twists near the end that I never saw coming and it made me love the book even more. I did not see that ending coming but it was absolutely perfect. I recommend WINGS OF OLYMPUS for MG readers who love animals and Greek myths!

3 Series to Finish in 2018

I am so bad at starting series and not finishing them, so I’ve been challenging myself to finish or get caught up on my favourite ones. Here are three series that I’ve started and loved – be sure to pick these up! I’ve only listed the synopsis and retailer links for the first book in each series, so as not to spoil anyone.


The Dragon King Chronicles by Ellen Oh

Harper Teen | 2013-2015

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

The greatest warrior in all of the Seven Kingdoms… is a girl with yellow eyes.

Kira’s the only female in the king’s army, and the prince’s bodyguard. She’s a demon slayer and an outcast, hated by nearly everyone in her home city of Hansong. And, she’s their only hope…

Murdered kings and discovered traitors point to a demon invasion, sending Kira on the run with the young prince. He may be the savior predicted in the Dragon King Prophecy, but the missing treasure of myth may be the true key. With only the guidance of the cryptic prophecy, Kira must battle demon soldiers, evil shaman, and the Demon Lord himself to find what was once lost and raise a prince into a king.

Intrigue and mystery, ancient lore and action-packed fantasy come together in this heart-stopping first book in a trilogy.

I loved PROPHECY, the first book in Ellen Oh’s Dragon King Chronicles and have been meaning to read books #2 and #3. I own both, so there’s really no excuse. I definitely recommend this incredible fantasy series!


The Nil series by Lynne Matson

Henry Holt | 2014-2016

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

On the mysterious island of Nil, the rules are set. You have one year. Exactly 365 days–to escape, or you die.

Seventeen-year-old Charley doesn’t know the rules. She doesn’t even know where she is. The last thing she remembers is blacking out, and when she wakes up, she’s lying naked in an empty rock field.

Lost and alone, Charley finds no sign of other people until she meets Thad, the gorgeous leader of a clan of teenage refugees. Soon Charley learns that leaving the island is harder than she thought . . . and so is falling in love. With Thad’s time running out, Charley realizes that to save their future, Charley must first save him. And on an island rife with dangers, their greatest threat is time.

I’m always interested in books dealing with parallel dimensions and wormholes, so NIL was an instant favourite. I loved the writing and the book had this dystopia feel to it, while still being set in present time. I definitely need to read the rest of the series this year.


Penryn and the End of Days by Susan Ee

Skyscape | 2012-2015

Buy: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N |

It’s been six weeks since angels of the apocalypse descended to demolish the modern world. Street gangs rule the day while fear and superstition rule the night. When warrior angels fly away with a helpless little girl, her seventeen-year-old sister Penryn will do anything to get her back.

Anything, including making a deal with an enemy angel.

Raffe is a warrior who lies broken and wingless on the street. After eons of fighting his own battles, he finds himself being rescued from a desperate situation by a half-starved teenage girl.

Traveling through a dark and twisted Northern California, they have only each other to rely on for survival. Together, they journey toward the angels’ stronghold in San Francisco where she’ll risk everything to rescue her sister and he’ll put himself at the mercy of his greatest enemies for the chance to be made whole again.

This is one of my favourite sci-fi series – it combines angels with a post-apocalyptic setting. It’s so well done! A word of warning to potential readers, this is a very dark, gritty series with triggering content. I read ANGELFALL a few years ago so I can’t remember exactly which triggers you need to watch for.

Book Review: Steel Scars by Victoria Aveyard

25362018Steel Scars (Red Queen #0.2) – prequel novella to the Red Queen series

Read my review of Queen Song (Red Queen #0.1) here

Victoria Aveyard

4/5 stars

Release Date: January 5, 2016

Publisher: Harper Teen

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Chapters/Indigo.ca | B&N | Kobo

Synopsis on Goodreads:

In this digital prequel novella set in the Red Queen world, Captain Farley exchanges coded transmissions with the resistance as she travels the land recruiting black market traders, smugglers, and extremists for her first attempt at an attack on the capital. She was raised to be strong, but planting the seeds of rebellion in Norta is a tougher job than expected—until she stumbles upon a connection that may prove to be the key to the entire operation: Mare Barrow.

Review:

In this prequel novella to RED QUEEN, STEEL SCARS tells the story of Farley, a secondary character from RQ & a captain of the Scarlet Guard – a group rebelling against the Silvers in power. I absolutely loved this book! Farley is a fantastic character and I wouldn’t mind reading a full-length novel in her POV. I also wouldn’t have minded if RQ had been told in Farley’s POV instead of Mare’s. Obviously it wouldn’t have been called RQ, but it’d be way more entertaining (to me).

I think I like Farley a bit more than Mare because she isn’t a special snowflake. She’s worked very hard to get where she is and her strength is human. I don’t mind characters who end being a special snowflake – I mean, who doesn’t imagine themselves as heir to the throne or having magic powers or finally getting their Hogwarts letter. However, I don’t always like it when everything about the protagonist is self-made, human strength and then suddenly we find out they’re a special snowflake & everything that made them human is left in the dust. It’s easier to identify with a character if their strength seems somewhat realistic & obtainable to us.

I also loved the behind the scenes feel we got from this. Reading decoded messages sent to and from Farley was great (although sometimes hard to read). Overall, it was really exciting! We also saw a bit of Shade Barrow, Mare’s brother and I loved the chemistry between him and Farley. Another reason why a full-length novel in Farley’s POV would have been great.

Something I did dislike about the novella, it was one big book, no parts or chapters to separate it. It made it hard to decide when and where would be a good place to pause. Sure, I can bookmark it at the beginning of the page but it seemed like pausing in the middle of the action.

I find you don’t need to read Queen Song to read this but you should read Red Queen beforehand – you’ll understand things a bit more.

Blog Tour: Fire Falling Review + Giveaway

Fire-Falling-Cover-Only

Fire FallingElise Kova2.5/5 Stars

Release Date: November 19, 2015

Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N

Synopsis:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Review:

This was a hard review to write. I wanted to like Fire Falling more than I did. I love these sorts of fantasy worlds, but the writing style wasn’t for me. This is the sequel to Air Awakens and though I did like the writing better here, there were still the same underlying issues that had me struggling to get through Air Awakens.

I don’t particularly like the writing. The author’s vision wasn’t translated for me and I’m sure if that wasn’t the case, I would have loved Fire Falling. For the most part, my issue was with things like sentence structure, word choice, and tense. When I read Air Awakens, I’d also felt like the writing switched between telling and showing, so I’m glad that wasn’t the case here. However, that experience was in the back of mind while reading Fire Falling, almost like some watermark left on the pages. Funny enough, I feel like if I’d never read Air Awakens but went straight to Fire Falling, the writing wouldn’t have bothered me as much. I’d be totally confused in the beginning and be spoiled for book #1, but enjoying the writing totally outweighs that.

When it came to the characters, I disliked most of them. I couldn’t connect with many of them or sense any sort of character development. I did enjoy Vhalla’s companions, Larel and Fritz and gained an in-depth sense of their personalities. The three of them becoming close friends was probably the only clear thing to me character-wise. In addition, the reader is introduced to a new character, Elecia and it’s understood she has some sort of romantic past with Aldrik. I hated that she’s presented with this stereotype: the automatic rival of Vhalla because she did or still does have a romantic relationship with Aldrik, Vhalla’s love interest. It makes me think of a high school-set novel [mean cheerleader because she has the attention of the popular guy aka protagonist’s crush] and I hated that. Out of all the possible stereotypes out there, I loath that one the most.

There were a couple of things I loved about Fire Falling. The reader gains a deeper experience of the magic that makes up this world. It was really interesting learning about things like Channeling, the Bond Vhalla and Aldrik have, and Projection. I also loved the way Kova describes certain settings and the different landscapes that make up this world.

I stopped reading Fire Falling at 59% because at that point, I didn’t get any sense of a plot or a definite antagonist. I understood there were a couple of political figures who want Vhalla dead and the Emperor wants to use her as a pawn, but neither of them came off as the antagonist I was hoping to read. Additionally, I needed a plot that goes further than Vhalla understanding herself as a Windwalker and the South trying to win the war.

I haven’t fully decided whether I’ll be continuing the series. Like I said, I actually love the fantasy world Kova’s created and on the surface, I should love the characters, but it all comes down to the writing style. My reading experience didn’t give me a clear idea of what the author tried to get across to the reader. If you liked Air Awakens I recommend Fire Falling. If you were like me and really struggled with Air Awakens, then maybe this series isn’t for you.

I received an eARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. This has in no way altered my honest opinion of the book.

Giveaway:

There’s also a giveaway to win a signed hardcopy of Fire Falling! Be sure to enter!
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