Saturday, June 29, 2019

Review: Sulla: The Good Man Who Doomed Rome by in60Learning

Title: Sulla: The Good Man Who Doomed Rome 
Author: in60Learning
Publication: June 9th 2019 by in60Learning
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

Smarter in sixty minutes. Get smarter in just 60 minutes with in60Learning. Concise and elegantly written non-fiction books and audiobooks help you learn the core subject matter in 20% of the time that it takes to read a typical book. Life is short, so explore a multitude of fascinating historical, biographical, scientific, political, and financial topics in only an hour each. Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix was a Roman general and statesmen who would become dictator of Rome. Dictatorship in the ancient world was very different than how it is thought of today - a single man was elected to take charge to pull the country back from the precipice. And that is exactly what Sulla did, fighting for both the interests of the rich and poor and leading Rome to military victory. However, his choices would destabilize Roman power and inspire other up and coming politicians - most notably, Julius Caesar, ultimately leading to the downfall of the Republic he so loved.

First of all I want to say how much I love in60Learning. I've already read a couple of their books and so far I haven't been disappointed. I have highly enjoyed all their informative yet entertaining books that I have read and Sulla: The Good Man Who Doomed Rome is yet another one that ended up as a favorite of mine.

Books, no matter how short or long they are, about ancient Rome is definitely my kind of thing. I didn't hesitate one second when I saw this book was free to read. Knowing the topic and who the book was about I already had a feeling I was going to like it a lot. And I was right! 

I already knew some basic things about Sulla that I had learned from other books and podcasts but this book just went deeper into his life and how his actions inspired future Roman policitians like Julius Caesar. Without Sulla we definitely wouldn't know ancient Rome as we know it to be. He even has the chance to execute Julius Caesar but in the end didn't do it so who knows how this could've shaped not only the ancient world but also our modern one. 

Overall, I thought this short biography about Sulla's life was extremely fascinating. I couldn't get enough of reading it. It's only about 36 pages so it's a quick read and on top of that also very interesting if you're interested in the Roman republic before it became the Roman empire.  

5 interesting facts I learned:

  • Sulla's full name was Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix

  • Sulla was told by a mystic seer from Chaldea that he "would die at the height of his fame and fortune". This impacted him greatly.

  • Dictatorships in the ancient world were often different than we think of them today, as it was usually an elected position.

  • Julius Caesar, later, would ridicule Sulla for resigning the dictatorship; he could not understand how a man would hand absolute power away.

  • Sulla retired to his family's country villa in Puteoli with his wife and his long-time lover, the actor Metrobius.

Some pictures related to the book:

Apparent bust of Sulla in the Munich Glyptothek

Ruins of the town Aeclanum, conquered in 89 BC by Sulla.

Lucius Cornelius Sulla - a denarius portrait issued by his grandson.

Check out my other in60Learning reviews:

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Review: Rise of Princes by Janell Rhiannon

Title: Rise of Princes
Author: Janell Rhiannon

Series: Homeric Chronicles #2
Publication: March 1st 2019
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 4/5

As the Trojan War continues, the gods pit their chosen heroes against each other, fighting alongside them on blood-slick battlefields. Amid the carnage and chaos, Achilles and Hektor rise to fame, conquering and defending; enslaving and freeing the people of the Troad. 

While the glory of war belongs to the men…the heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.

Clytemnestra claims Mycenae as her own and vows to make Agamemnon pay. Helen’s gift of beauty tangles with a dark truth in Troy. Briseis fears she’ll forget her past in Lyrnessus, as she adapts to life as Achilles’ war prize. Andromache despairs Hektor will cast her aside, when she fails to produce an heir for Troy. Penelope turns to Anticlea, Odysseus’ mother, for guidance in ruling Ithaka. Hecuba’s heart breaks, as she mourns yet another Trojan son murdered at Achilles’ hands.

A terrible shadow stretches over the land, and heroines must embrace their true strength becoming…unstoppable.

Sing, Muse, sing the song of princes…

It took me a while to get around to it but I finally read Rise of Princes. And I loved it! I've become a real fan of mythology retellings, especially when they revolve around the Trojan War, like this one. Just like with the first book, Song of Sascrifice, this was a fantastic read. It was definitely a worthy sequel and I can't wait to read book three.

I already mentioned this in my recent review of the first book but again I loved the writing so so so so much. It really was beautiful. The writing is just so detailed and wonderful to read. I couldn't get enough of it. I just can't say anything negative about it. 

I also loved reading about all the various characters, of course. There are quite a few but the author managed to write them all in such a uniquely way that it doesn't feel like too much like it sometimes can be with other books, if that makes sense. 

My favorite characters were Briseis and Achilles, especialy Briseis. In almost any retelling of this story I just can't help but ship them even though I know it won't end well for them. I absolutely loved how Janell Rhiannon wrote them. They make my heart ache so much. Seriously. I also continue to love Odyseuss because he's so clever and still devoted to his wife.

Aside from some romance (which can be very heartbreaking) there's also a lot of action and battles, obviously. This is omething that I also highly enjoy reading about. Give me all the battles! I also feel like I should mention there's also a lot of tragedy. There's definitely no shying away from the tough subjects in this book, which I love.

Like I said before I absolutely can't wait to read book three. I think it's coming out in December. This is perfect because that's actually my birthday month. I'm really looking forward to the next part of the story! 

About the author:
In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.

The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.
She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.

Interested in knowing more about the Greek heroes and heroines of Greek myth? Listen to my podcast Greek Mythology Retold.
Click here for links to iTunes, iHeart, Spreaker, and more on.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | YouTube

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

ARC Review: Below by Alexandria Warwick

Title: Below
Author: Alexandria Warwick
Series: Below #1

Publication: February 4th 2020 by Wolf Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Purchase it on: TBA
Rating: 3.5/5

From the author of The Demon Race comes a dark YA fantasy series inspired by Inuit mythology.

In the heart of the frigid North, there lives a demon known as the Face Stealer. Eyes, nose, mouth—nothing and no one is safe. Once he returns to his lair, or wherever it is he dwells, no one ever sees those faces again.

When tragedy strikes, Apaay embarks on a perilous journey to find her sister's face—yet becomes trapped in a labyrinth ruled by a sinister girl named Yuki. The girl offers Apaay a deal: find her sister's face hidden within the labyrinth, and she will be set free. But the labyrinth, and those who inhabit it, is not as it seems. Especially Numiak: darkly beautiful, powerful, whose motives are not yet clear.

With time slipping, Apaay is determined to escape the deadly labyrinth with her sister's face in hand. But in Yuki's harsh world, Apaay will need all her strength to survive.

Yuki only plays the games she wins.

Wow, this book was certainly something. I do have to admit that the start was sort of slow for me, which is why I couldn't give it a full four star rating because I struggled a little to get really into it but once I reached the 50% mark in the story it was pretty hard to put down. The fact that the story was inspired by Inuit mythology is something I absolutely loved because it isn't something I've come across yet in any of the books I've read.

Below featured the very complex but fascinating world of the North with Apaay as its main character. When a demon who is known as the Face Stealer steals the face of her sister, Apaay is determined to find it and kill the demon for all the suffering he has caused to so many others before but instead she becomes trapped in a labyrinthine place by a cruel girl named Yuki where nothing really is what it seems.

I loved Apaay! I really do think she's one of the best main characters I've ever come across and I'm not saying this lightly. She was so determined in everything she did, especially in the search for her sister's face. She would simply not give up no matter what was thrown at her or how much they made her suffer. Her strenght was inspiring to say the least.

The writing style was probably one of my favorite things about this book as well. I'm a sucker for beautiful prose. It wasn't just a beautifully writting book but it was action packed as well. A lot happened in the story, it was actually funny at times but also very tragic and made me want to cry at one point. I'm pretty sure anyone else who has read the book will know what I mean. 

Overall, Below by Alexandria Warwick is an epic dark YA fantasy adventure about family, friendship, loss and determination. Inspired by Inuit mythology, it's quite the page turner that'll keep you hooked and make you root for Apaay to succeed in her mission.  

About the author:
Alexandria Warwick is the #1 fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. She is the author of The Demon Race and the upcoming North series.
Website | Instagram | Goodreads

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World by Emma Southon

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.

Agrippina: The Most Extraordinary Woman of the Roman World by Emma Southon
Expected publication: August 6th 2019 by Pegasus Books

In her own time, she was recognized as a woman of unparalleled power. Beautiful and intelligent, she was portrayed as alternately a ruthless murderer and helpless victim, the most loving mother and the most powerful woman of the Roman empire, using sex, motherhood, manipulation, and violence to get her way, and single-minded in her pursuit of power for herself and her son, Nero.

This book follows Agrippina as a daughter, born in Cologne, to the expected heir to Augustus’s throne; as a sister to Caligula who raped his sisters and showered them with honors until they attempted rebellion against him and were exiled; as a seductive niece and then wife to Claudius who gave her access to near unlimited power; and then as a mother to Nero—who adored her until he had her assassinated.

Through senatorial political intrigue, assassination attempts, and exile to a small island, to the heights of imperial power, thrones, and golden cloaks and games and adoration, Agrippina scaled the absolute limits of female power in Rome. Her biography is also the story of the first Roman imperial family—the Julio-Claudians—and of the glory and corruption of the empire itself.

Obviously this is a must-read for me. I'm pretty much always on the hunt for nonfiction like this upcoming book. It's kind of a struggle to find anything relating to ancient history because there aren't many bloggers or bookstagrammers that I know who also read these kind of books so I have to do a lot of searching to actually find new nonfiction titles, especially written by women. The last ancient history related nonfiction written by a woman that I read was When Women Ruled the World: Six Queens of Egypt by Kara Cooney which released in October 2018 so it's been a while. But luckily enough I became aware of this new biography by Emma Southon and I am SO ready for it. Agrippina (Nero's mother AND Caligula's sister!) happens to be one of my favorite women in history so it's needless to say that I'm very excited to read this book and learn more about her. 

Monday, June 10, 2019

Review: Circe by Madeline Miller

Title: Circe
Author: Madeline Miller

Publication: April 4th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC 
Genre: Mythology, Historical Fiction, Fantasy
Purchase it on: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Google Play | Kobo
Rating: 5/5

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. But Circe has neither the look nor the voice of divinity, and is scorned and rejected by her kin. Increasingly isolated, she turns to mortals for companionship, leading her to discover a power forbidden to the gods: witchcraft.

When love drives Circe to cast a dark spell, wrathful Zeus banishes her to the remote island of Aiaia. There she learns to harness her occult craft, drawing strength from nature. But she will not always be alone; many are destined to pass through Circe's place of exile, entwining their fates with hers. The messenger god, Hermes. The craftsman, Daedalus. A ship bearing a golden fleece. And wily Odysseus, on his epic voyage home.

There is danger for a solitary woman in this world, and Circe's independence draws the wrath of men and gods alike. To protect what she holds dear, Circe must decide whether she belongs with the deities she is born from, or the mortals she has come to love.

It took me over four weeks to finish Circe, which is a very long time for me, but I'm glad I took my sweet time with it because it turned out to be a phenomenal read. Before starting it I was already pretty familiar with the mythology about Circe so I was really excited to see how Madeline Miller would end up writing her story. I was fairly sure I wouldn't be disappointed by it and I'm so glad I was right about that. I've been reading quite a few mythology retellings this year but I must say that this one is probably my favorite out of them all.

This book is a mythology retelling but it's still set in ancient times and I love how the story was steeped in girl power and feminism because the ancient world, especially ancient Greece, isn't really known for that. And that was one my favorite things in this book. I really love Madeline Miller for writing it like that.

I'm sad to say I haven't read The Song of Achilles yet because they only had Circe at the bookstore at the time so I could only buy that one but right now it's the highest on my wishlist. I've heard nothing but great things about it so I'm very excited to read that book this year too. I really can't get enough of all the mythology retellings lately.

I'm honestly not sure what more I can say about this amazing book that a million other readers haven't said already. The writing is simply magical. There's no other word for it. The prose was gorgeous, deep and really hooked me to the story and Circe's strong character. It took Greek mythology to a whole other level. And I loved it.

About the author:
Madeline Miller grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for the past twenty years.

She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms.

The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller. It has been translated into over twenty-five languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year. Her second novel, Circe, was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller, is currently short-listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award. It was also given The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award (adult books of special interest to teen readers), and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award. Madeline's essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Telegraph, Lapham's Quarterly and She currently lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Stacking The Shelves: June 8, 2019

Stacking The Shelves is a weekly bookish feature hosted @ Tynga's Reviews & Reading Reality.

Kingsbane by Claire Legrand
Only one book for this week but so far it's turning out to be an amazing one. I'm only 160 pages in so far and it's already exceeding my expectations. ♥

Rise of Princes by Janell Rhiannon
Bought this on Kindle so I can fiiiinally read it. I love this cover!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Review: Song of Sacrifice by Janell Rhiannon

Title: Song of Sacrifice
Author: Janell Rhiannon

Series: Homeric Chronicles #1
Publication: December 26th 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Purchase it on: Amazon
Rating: 4.5/5

The heart of the Trojan War belongs to the women.
Mothers and daughters; wives and war prizes, whisper to us across time...
...remember our songs alongside the mighty men of myth.
As the Age of Heroes wanes, the gods gamble more fiercely with mortals’ lives than they ever have before. Women must rely on their inner strength and cunning to survive the wars men wage for gold and glory.

Clytemnestra of Mycenae struggles for control of her life after Agamemnon ruthlessly rips it apart. Leda of Sparta survives a brutal assault by Zeus, shouldering a terrible secret in silence. Penelope raises Ithaka’s sole heir alone, praying for Odysseus’ swift return. Thetis, the sea nymph, despairs of her son’s destiny and resorts to forbidden magic to save him. Hecuba of Troy mourns the loss of her second son to a dark prophesy. And Shavash of Pedasus prepares her daughter to marry the greatest warrior who ever lived.

In a world where love leads to war and duty leads to destruction, the iron hearts of heroines will conquer all.

Sing, Muse, sing their song of sacrifice...

I actually already read this book two years ago when it was still called Song of Princes but since it got relaunched as Song of Sacrifice with a new title, cover and more chapters added I decided to read and review it again. I'm so glad that the author, Janell Rhiannon, did this because I loved it even more than the first time around. Just look at that cover alone. It's so gorgeous. And once again I really enjoyed reading about these characters and the story in general.

A lot can change in two years and I feel like now I'm even more into mythology retellings than I was before and I feel like I appreciate them more. By now I've also read my fair share of these kind of books. With that said I just want to say that Song of Sacrifice is definitely one of the better and more detailed mythology retellings is that I've ever read. And I think you should all read is as well.

One of my favorite things about this book was the beautiful writing. I absolutely loved it. I've always been a sucker for beautiful writing but in Song of Sacrifice is really stands out. So if you, just like me, love this in a book then I'd highly recommend you to pick this one up! 

Another thing what makes this an excellent read is the fact that the story of the Trojan War is one of the most epic myths to ever be told. I can imagine it's hard for any author to write and retell this legendary story but Janell Rhiannon more than pulls it off. Song of Sacrifice will always be one of my favorite books and I can't wait to buy and read the next one. Hopefully soon!

I also want to do a little shoutout to Janell's postcast Greek Mythology Retold because I highly enjoy listening to it. It's one of my favorties!

About the author:
In graduate school, Janell focused on the ancient history of Greece and Rome. Hooked by the “sword and sandal” world, she studied everything she could about mythology and Alexander the Great.

The Homeric Chronicles series is dedicated to merging dozens of Greek myths, including Homer’s epics, with plays, history, and archaeology. Her intent is to raise the heroines’ voices equally alongside the heroes, opening up a traditionally male focused genre to a female audience.
She lives in CA and enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. She has a pack of two big dogs and two cats.

Interested in knowing more about the Greek heroes and heroines of Greek myth? Listen to my podcast Greek Mythology Retold.
Click here for links to iTunes, iHeart, Spreaker, and more on.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | YouTube

Monday, June 3, 2019

Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag 2019

It's somewhat the middle of the year so I thought it was time for the Mid-Year Freak Out Book Tag. I'm not sure who made this tag to begin with because I saw it on a couple of different blogs by now but I first saw it on The Bibliophile Girl. And as always I'm encouraging other bloggers to do this tag as well. It's really fun!

1. What is the best book you’ve read?

This is an easy question for me. In The Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark. It's been my favorite book of the year since March and no other book has been able to top it yet. The story takes place in Berlin, Germany over the course of ten years from 1923 to 1933, between the first and second world war. I actually bought it because I saw it on Sissi's instagram (SissiReads) I just had a feeling I was going to love it and I was right!
2. What is the best sequel you’ve read?

Also a pretty easy one to pick for me. The Wicked King by Holly Black. I loved it SO much! I'm totally obsessed with Jude and Cardan. It was also my first five star read of the year so that definitely means something. I absolutely can't wait to get my hands on The Queen of Nothing in November. I'm sure it's going to be amazing!

3. What release haven’t you read yet, but want to?

There are so many new releases that I haven't gotten around to readin yet, to be honest... but We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal is one that's at the top of my list to read. I got the book pretty recently but it's still sitting on my never ending TBR pile on my nightstand. I hope to read it soon though!
4. What is your most anticipated release of the second half of the year?

This is probably the most easy question for me and people who know me even a little bit definitely won't be surprised by my answer. The Fowl Twins by Eoin Colfer, of course! For those who don't know... Eoin Colfer is my favorite author and the Artemis Fowl series are my favorite books ever. The Fowl Twins is a story about Artemis' younger brothers so I'm super excited for it!!
5. What is your biggest disappointment?

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer. I think it's going to be pretty surprising to most because I know a lot of people that loved this book. I won't say there wasn't anything good about it because some things I did like but overall I just had expected more. I've read almost all of Brigid's books, even the Elemental series and I don't know... ACSDAL just didn't live up to the hype and I wasn't impressed by it or enjoyed most of the characters. I still want to read the sequel, though, because I'm hoping it will be better and I want to continue to support Brigid.

6. What is your biggest surprise?

This was a tougher question because I feel like I haven't been especially surprised by most of the books I've read but The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau was definitely one of them. It was about espionage, it had romance and the color blue was heavily feautured which was just really fascinated. It surprised me for sure!
7. Who is your favorite new author?

This has got to be Barry Strauss. I've only read one of his books so far but I can already tell that I'm going to enjoy his other work as well. Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors from Augustus to Constantine was one of the best nonfiction books I've read. I randomly dowloaded it from NetGalley but I ended up highly enjoying it, which was great. I'm not sure why but I didn't think I'd love it as much as I did so this would also count as one of the most surprising books of the year along with The Blue.
8. Who is your newest fictional crush so far in 2019?

Liam North from Overture and Concerto (especially this book was AMAZING) by Skye Warren. It's forbidden romance at its best! Liam made me swoon like almost no other fictional crushes. Skye Warren never disappoints me with the romance.
9. Who is your newest favorite character?

I'm still listening to this audiobook but I'm loving Yumeko from Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kawaga. She is such a fun and courageous character. I adore her! Also didn't expect to enjoy this audibook as much as I am. I haven't read a book by Julie since the Iron Fey series. I only have a few hours left at this point so I'm probably going to finish it sometime soon. And of course I'm already excited for the sequel that's going to be released this year!

10. What book that made you cry?
I didn't realize it until now but no books have made me cry yet this year. I consider this to be a good thing. 

11. What book that made you happy?

Shades of Wicked by Jeaniene Frost because FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY we got a book about Ian. After so many years! All the fans pretty much wanted this and now it has happened. This is a spin-off series from Frost's Night Huntress series (which is by far the best vampire series ever!) I can't wait for the second book to see how things will continue. 
12. What is your favourite book to movie/tv adaptation you saw this year?

I can't think of any that I've seen. I don't watch a lot of book adaptions these days since they always end up disappointing me.

13. What is your favorite post that you have written so far this year?

I'm really liking the reviews I've written so far this year actually. Especially Sunwise by Helen Steadman because I loved the book so much and it ended up being my fastest read ever so couldn't wait to share the love for it. Find my review here.
14. What is the most beautiful book you bought so far this year?

There are quite a few beautiful books that I have bought this year but I gotta say that The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker sticks out for sure. The cover is so freaking gorgeous! And even more than that it also ended up being a favorite book of the year. It comes in second to In The Full Light of the Sun. It wasn't a happy book but I loved it. Also yay for Greek mythology retellings! 

15. What is one books that you want to read by the end of the year?

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare! I got the book for Christmas and I still haven't read it which is actually unusual for me because I'm a huge fan of this series and pretty much anything Cassie writes. The size of the book is a bit intimidating to me so that's why I haven't picked it up yet.

Please feel free to comment your own answers to one or more of these questions. I'm curious!