Review: Khthonios by M.M Kin

book cover for M.M Kin's Khthonios. Features Hades, holding a horned helmet as he sits on a dark throne against a blue background.

I love reading Greek mythology retellings, and Kin’s novels are no exception. I’ve known since her Seed’s series that she puts an amazing amount of detail, all painstakingly researched, into her novels, but I was curious how she was going to handle that in Khthonios, because based not the summary, there were two major hurdles to overcome in writing this book. 

The first is that Khthonios is a prequel story which begins with the death of Uranus and covers the rise and fall of Kronos, the imprisonment and freedom of the “Big Six” and Hades’s eventual rise to the Lord of the Underworld. There is precious little out there that covers this fascinating time period, but Kin managed to include the existing lore (real mind-benders, like Kronos eating his children) in a way that felt logical and true to the world. 

The second is that prequels represent a real challenge for character development, because as an author, there’s this fixed point you can’t cross in your earlier work. But you’re learning more about your characters as you write and they’re going through things that will impact their development. Often prequel characters either feel stagnant or more developed than their later counterparts, but Kin handles that development deftly. These characters felt consistent, and the story gave insight into some of their eccentricities in the later books. 

As always, Kin utilizes incredible detail and imagery. Her writing style in this book reminded me a bit of of the early chapters of Miller’s Circe. I think this may be my favorite book in her world yet.

You can learn more about Kin and her books by viewing her page on amazon or smashwords.

Best Young Adult Persephone and Hades Retellings

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There are a lot of Persephone and Hades retellings out there. Believe it or not, that wasn’t the case back when I wrote Persephone. In the year I worked on Persephone, so did several other completely unconnected authors. I’ve been told this is a common phenomenon in publishing. An idea gets in the air, and several different people catch it.

My version is a bit different than most of these in that it’s a truly modern day retelling of the myth. My Persephone is THE Persephone. Not Persephone reincarnated. Not a girl living through a similar story. Some of the myths have already happened in my world, but the majority are still unfolding in new and interesting ways.

Here are some of my favorite retellings out there. If I miss any, go ahead and add them to the list in the comments below.

The Abandon Series by Meg Cabot 


A modern day retelling that reincarnates the Persephone myth in a new generation.

The Goddess Test series by Aimee Carter


In this series, the Persephone myth happened in the past, and now Hades is searching for a new bride.


The Everneath Series by Brodi Ashton


Aren’t those covers amazing? Ashton weaves in several myths in a modern day almost retelling. Like many of the other series, this protagonist isn’t THE Persephone, but a person from modern times thrust into a similar role.

The Blooming Goddess Series by Tellulah Darling


A hysterical take on the Persephone myth. This book is so much fun, give it a try.

Radiant Darkness by Emily Whitman


This book predates mine, and it’s amazing. It’s a retelling of the original Persephone myth set in ancient times.

The Crysomelia Series by Molly Ringle


More of a new adult novel, but still a faithful retelling of the Persephone myth. This version features a Persephone and Hades who are frequently reincarnated and find each other over multiple lifetimes. Check out my review here.

The Forbidden Games  Series by L.J Smith


An oldie but goody. Definitely captures the spirit of the Persephone myth in Jenny and Julian.

If I’ve forgotten any YA versions of Persephone, add them to the list in the comments OR on the Goodreads list I’ve created for Young adult Persephone retellings here.



Writing on Wednesday: Immortal’s Spring

Immortal's Spring cover high res 600 x 900

Writers read, so on occasion, my Wednesday writing blogs are going to have book reviews. I don’t review books on my blog often, but I started this series before I adopted that policy and it didn’t feel right now to finish the reviews for such a riveting series. My previous reviews from this series are on the blog, as well as guest posts from the author. Check them out.

Molly Ringle does it again with Immortal’s Spring. This riveting conclusion to her Chrysomelia series had me awake till the wee hours of the morning because I just could not put it down. She did such a great job handling a tangled web of story lines, both in present times and in the past. And she handled the delicate line authors walk when dealing with horrific and crippling grief in a way that didn’t make me want to strangle the character or get annoyed at the author for underplaying it. Her attention to relationships, the ins and outs of friendship, true love, romance, and sister/daughter/motherhood? (it’s really complicated) is really commendable.

As a mythology writer myself, I really appreciate her attention to detail. It’s great fun to read someone else’s take on the convoluted world of mythology. I absolutely recommend Ringle’s series if you enjoyed The Daughters of Zeus series.

Writing on Wednesday: Book Review

For today’s Writing on Wednesday, I’m taking a break from the snowflake method to review the lovely Molly Ringle’s Underworld’s Daughter.

Molly was the guest author on this blog Monday, and many of you will remember the review I did on her first book, Persephone’s Orchard. 

So without further ado…

perf5.000x8.000.inddMolly Ringle does an amazing job balancing multiple story lines spread across time and multiple characters. She also does an amazing job managing the impact those multiple sets of memories and roles would have on modern day characters. I see glimmers of the past within each of the modern characters but they are still very much their own people.

I was a little hesitant when new POV characters were introduced, but before long, I fell in love with each and every one of them. Molly describes this book’s take on the myths more of “Greek mythology fan fiction” as opposed to retellings, but to me that made it more fun. I’ve read the Greek myths. I’ve read a thousand retellings, I’ve written my own. But done right, a retelling should be original to the author, and if it’s original to the author, it’s going to eventually leave the myth behind to tell the rest of the story.

The ending of this particular story was both heart wrenching and shocking. It immediately had me reaching for book three. I can’t wait to see how it ends.

Review: The Curse of the Sphinx

On Monday, I had Raye Wagner on my blog, telling her version of the Origin of the Sphinx. Today, I’ll be posting my review on the first novel of the series, the Curse of the Sphinx.

As an author who focuses on modern day retellings, I’m always interested in how other authors approach the bringing the ancient into modern day aspect of the world building. Raye Wagner took a unique approach by making the Greek myths not just well known, but real to all the citizens in her society. Modern teens worship the Greek gods. Demigods are a known phenomenon walking among them. Monsters and curses are an every day part of life. The book maintains this fantastical sense of a magical AU without ever losing focus of the truly modern day. The high school is a normal high school, the students in it, just as much. This book *feels* like a really good representation of what the world would actually be like if all the magic of mythology was real. Everyone wouldn’t be a demigod, humans wouldn’t dare hunt/experiment/or otherwise go after demigods and monsters because friendly reminder, the greek gods do not take mortals trifling in their business lightly. Wagner pulled off a very believable society.

The actual protagonist is a victim of one of those generational curses so common in Greek mythology. Readers hoping for more background should definitely check out the prequel. I’ve read it, so I can’t say whether or not readers would be lost without it. The romance was as anti-instalove as you could get. And the pace had a slow, gradual build up that kept me reading well into the night. I will say the story felt a little fragmented at first, but once the character arrives in Goldendale, the plot smooths out and takes off.

All in all a very unique and interesting take on Greek mythology.

Thursday Review: How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell


The incredibly short blurb:
Chronicles the adventures and misadventures of Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third as he tries to pass the important initiation test of his Viking clan, the Tribe of the Hairy Hooligans, by catching and training a dragon…

My thoughts: I love the How to Train Your Dragon movies and the TV show. Well, more accurately, I watch them and enjoy them. My four year old LOVES them and will be having a HTTYD birthday party this year. I also love David Tennant. So now that she’s old enough for me to read non-picture books to her at night, and I discovered David Tennant reads the audio books, picking up a copy of this series was a no brainer. I read her the books every night and when she wants she listens to a chapter and turns the pages. It’s been a fun and rewarding experience but wow how this book is different from the movie.

Example: Training a dragon is a hooligan right of passage and Hiccup is afraid he won’t be able to train a dragon like all the other vikings.

So in other words the names are all that are in common. But the book was still a cute story. I enjoyed reading it. The movie captured the spirit of the book if not the plot, and I’m actually glad, because unlike say the Ella Enchanted movie, which also changed almost every detail from the book, How to Train Your Dragon created an in depth, emotionally compelling, and interesting alternate version of events. I can see the places where the book inspired it but where they differ gives me a chance to explore two incredibly talented creative takes on a similar concept. It’s given my daughter and I a lot to talk about in terms of books verses film and plotting.

I liked the plot, the book had a lot of silliness, it’s definitely a kids book, but the characters had surprising depth. I was particularly impressed with the depiction of the Meathead heir, I can’t remember his name, but it would have been so easy for Cowell to turn him into a stereotype like Snotlout, but she didn’t. Just because he was big and strong and successful didn’t mean he was a bad guy and that’s a message that’s sometimes missing from books like these. It’s great to lift up traditional under dogs, but sometimes it’s at your more traditional character’s expense.

I’m excited for the next book in the series, How to be a Pirate!

Thursday Review: Frey by Melissa Wright


The Blurb: Unaware she’s been bound from using magic, Frey leads a small, miserable life in the village where she’s sent after the death of her mother. But a tiny spark starts a fury of changes and she finds herself running from everything she’s ever known.

Hunted by council for practicing dark magic, she is certain she’s been wrongfully accused. She flees, and is forced to rely on strangers for protection. But the farther she strays from home, the more her magic and forgotten memories return and she begins to suspect all is not as it seems.

My Thoughts:

I got Frey free on Kindle, and I enjoyed reading Frey, though there was one formatting thing that kept bothering me. There were no scene breaks. There were chapter breaks, but within a chapter if the scene shifted it was just the next paragraph. That brought me out of the story a few times.

Another thing that took me out of the story every now and then was when Frey would do something uncharacteristically violent and despite being in her head, I had no idea it happened, nor did I understand her rationale for it. I get that her character is progressing down a certain path, but it almost seemed like for those scenes the author popped me out of her head and turned me into an observer. But I also think that might have been an intentional effect. So I’m withholding judgment on that for now.

Otherwise, I found the characters engaging. Ruby was my favorite. The descriptions very well done, and the plot held my attention by slowly unraveling one mystery after another. I’m curious where the next book will lead, especially after some major revelations at the end of the book.

I also loved the whole twist on fairy tales. Humans were the myths and elves were the norm. Awesome idea.

Thursday Review: This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper


The Blurb:

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family—including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister—have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind—whether we like it or not

My thoughts:

This was an interesting read. The story sucked me right in and didn’t let me go until the last page. I have to admit, parts of the story reminded me of listening to my great in-laws. It seems the older people get, the more horror stories they become full of. More cautionary tales of unlikely events with horrible consequences. I kind of felt like I was talking to one of them when dealing with a certain neighbor and then a dog. It just seemed….unlikely so much bad stuff would happen on one street. But maybe this is the street The Offspring sang about in “The Kids aren’t Alright.”

I really enjoyed the language and the feel of this book. The observations about loss and life were fantastically cutting. If you enjoy bottle episodes (and I love bottle episodes), this is a good book for you.

Thursday Review: A Feast for Crows by George R.R Martin


The blurb:
After centuries of bitter strife, the seven powers dividing the land have beaten one another into an uneasy truce. But it’s not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes…and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.

My thoughts:

So I mentioned in my review last week I’d read three and a half of the GOT books before giving up. Upon re-reading I found the stories more interesting, the who is who of the characters much easier to keep track of, and the pacing super tight.

Then I caught up to book four. I absolutely remember why I didn’t finish the book the first time. A Feast of Crows ditched all the POV’s I was most interested in, save Arya Stark. Gone is my familiarity with the names as it seemed like every new character sounded like they had the same name. The pacing slowed down significantly as finances and politics took over the narratives. There’s lots of stuff I didn’t like about this book compared to the first three.

But I did finish it this time. And toward the end, I found myself getting past the confusion and caught up in the world again enough that I started the next book immediately upon finishing this one. I’m glad Martin delved into Cercei’s POV. I hate her as a human, but as a character she’s fascinating. Brienne on the other hand was much more interesting filtered through another POV than she is in her own head. Her method of searching for Sansa Stark left much to be desired from a character I’d been led to believe was clever and strong and interesting. I want to like her, I really do, but to do that I need to get past her sob story of how unfortunately ugly she is and into her character. Yes, being a woman like her back then would be really hard and it would shape your personality but does *anything* make her happy? Does she I don’t know…enjoy fighting? Being strong? Swordplay? Doing the right thing? Every action she took had this…put upon feeling with it. A poor me victim syndrome and that’s so not who I thought she was and not at all how she’s perceived through anyone else’s POV.

The writing was, as always, very well done. The world building, unbeatable. I’m incredibly impressed by Martin. And thus far, very much enjoying A Dance with Dragons. I regret not finishing book four way back when, because I really cheated myself out of the better part of the book.

Thursday Review: Game of Thrones 1-3


The blurb:
Winter is coming. Such is the stern motto of House Stark, the northernmost of the fiefdoms that owe allegiance to King Robert Baratheon in far-off King’s Landing. There Eddard Stark of Winterfell rules in Robert’s name. There his family dwells in peace and comfort: his proud wife, Catelyn; his sons Robb, Brandon, and Rickon; his daughters Sansa and Arya; and his bastard son, Jon Snow. Far to the north, behind the towering Wall, lie savage Wildings and worse—unnatural things relegated to myth during the centuries-long summer, but proving all too real and all too deadly in the turning of the season.

Yet a more immediate threat lurks to the south, where Jon Arryn, the Hand of the King, has died under mysterious circumstances. Now Robert is riding north to Winterfell, bringing his queen, the lovely but cold Cersei, his son, the cruel, vainglorious Prince Joffrey, and the queen’s brothers Jaime and Tyrion of the powerful and wealthy House Lannister—the first a swordsman without equal, the second a dwarf whose stunted stature belies a brilliant mind. All are heading for Winterfell and a fateful encounter that will change the course of kingdoms.

Meanwhile, across the Narrow Sea, Prince Viserys, heir of the fallen House Targaryen, which once ruled all of Westeros, schemes to reclaim the throne with an army of barbarian Dothraki—whose loyalty he will purchase in the only coin left to him: his beautiful yet innocent sister, Daenerys.

My thoughts:
I’ve read the first three and half books of this series before, mostly out of boredom. I read them, but I didn’t enjoy them. But recently, mostly thanks to everyone talking about the show non-stop, I decided to re-read them and get caught up.

Whatever didn’t click for me last time, clicked this time. I really enjoyed the books! I’m not sure if maybe I just wasn’t in the right headspace for GOT before (I was knee deep in deadlines and finishing my Master’s degree) or if maybe it’s just easier to keep up with who is who the second time around, especially with memes and gifs featuring the characters all over the place. It could just be knowing what’s going to happen, too. I liked the first book the first time, but the second I got into Theon Greyjoy’s POV, I started reading just to finish instead of for fun. Knowing his POV would be short lived made it much more bearable this time.

Even when I was bored with the books, I was impressed. George R.R Martin is my uncle’s idol, so thanks to him (my uncle), I’d already read some of Martin’s earlier work. There’s no one better at world building. His plots are unbelievably intricate. He’s in an entirely other caliber of writing, so there’s nothing a newbie writer like myself can say critically about his books.

If you’ve tried Game of Thrones, and given up, I urge you to try again. I’m really glad I did, because I’m completely engrossed in book four right now.